It is no secret that I am a big proponent of making things that many folks buy at the store. From the common (potato chips, bread, ice cream, laundry detergent) to the hard-or-impossible-to-find (furikake, candied jalapenos, game stock), home kitchen alchemy can do it if it's worth having or doing.
Sometimes my efforts earn me admiration, but just as often it gets me a resounding, "Why would you bother when you can easily buy this fill-in-the-blank at the store?"
My motivation for this DIY spirit tends to vary with the project, but here, in no particular order, are a few reasons that pop up frequently.
• To save money: I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'm cheap. I want to stretch every household dollar as far as it can reasonably go without breaking. Starting with basic ingredients prepared at home is almost assuredly gentler on your wallet than pre-fab food.
• To make it taste better: I honestly believe that the best food is never, ever going to come from a box mix or a shelf-stable pre-made package. This is not to say I'm a food snob; I'll eat just about anything you put in front of me. Food should sustain your body, yes, but it should also nourish your soul, so if I'm the one slinging grub, I'm going to make it the best grub I can possibly sling.
• To make it better for you: Soup made at home is, unless you're very heavy handed, certain to contain less sodium than the canned or frozen variety. You can opt to make foods with healthier ingredients (for example, olive oil vs. vegetable oil, butter vs. shortening).
• To avoid certain ingredients: Thankfully, my husband, children and self are free of food allergies, but there are still certain preservatives and ingredients that I choose not to serve to us. Making our own food from scratch is a much easier way to accomplish that than obsessively reading labels.