Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ask the Internet: What's Not Worth Doing Home-made?

Today's question comes from Laura and Karen L., who brought it up in the comment section of last Wednesday's Triangle of Compromise post. It's a really solid one.

Q: There are something that are just *not* worth the time. For me, that includes homemade noodles and gnocchi. Homemade bread is a treat. Perhaps and interesting ask-the-audience: What is not worth doing home-made?

From Cyclone Bill
A: Loooove this one. Here's what I do:

Worth it: marinades, rubs, spice mixes, salad dressings and vinaigrette, all baked goods, most dips, soup, gnocchi. (That last one is subjective, but I love the stuff, you can make a ton at once, and it keeps forever in the fridge.)

Not worth it: pasta, crackers, bread (We don't eat bread fast enough, and crackers and pasta take soooo long.)

Up for grabs: pasta sauce, chicken stock, salsa (I make them all from scratch when I can, but we use them so frequently, I usually just buy pre-assembled.)

Readers, what about you? What do you make from scratch? What just isn't worth the effort?

Want to ask the interweb a question? Post one in the comment section, or write to Cheaphealthygood@gmail.com. Then, tune in next Tuesday for an answer/several answers from the good people of the World Wide Net.

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Erin said...

My list mostly agrees with yours, but I would move chicken stock and salsa to "Not Worth It." In my area, several Mexican restaurants sell great salsa for low prices.

Other things that are "Worth It"-pierogies, flour tortillas (if you can't get them locally), marshmallows

suerocks said...

Great question!
I made my own whole wheat pizza crust recently. I don't think it was worth the time and energy to do it homemade. Plus, it wasn't mind-blowingly awesome for all that work.
The experience has led me to look into buying a breadmaker...I'd like to make my own bread, but I don't have a great place in my house for it to rise and I'm not interested in kneading by hand, so machine it is!

alexis said...

my family is italian american and so when it comes to pasta sauces (especially 'red gravy' and marinara) not only is it worth it to make at home, you probably couldnt pay me to put ragu in my mouth.

now as young professional, i dont make homemade pasta, but as kid either with mom or babysitting my sibs, making farfalle or gnocchi were both good ways to keep kids entertained (like playdough with an end use) and forms that were forgiving to the precision of a 5 yr old.

now, living with a brazilian, we use the pressure cooker nightly for beans (OMG CAN'T HAVE A DAY WITHOUT BEANS!) and starting from dry to delish beats a can by a million.

cakes/cupcakes are worth doing at home (and for me this is loosely defined and relies heavily on duncan hines and betty crocker) a butter recipe cake mix n can of frosting to me is just much more appealing than most restautant, supermakret, or bakery cakes that try too hard - or cupcakes that cost more for 1 than my batch of 24 do

lastly - SMOOTHIES - i have em erymorning for breakfast, frsh fruits (or mixed in with some from the freezer), grate in some carrots n beets, add plain yogurt n water, sometimes a dash of vanilla - always delish, u can always taste erything that went into it - unlike the over-iced over-sugared things they sell at malls and airports 9those things reming me of maraschino cherry/pixie stick milkshakes - bleck

Liz Tee said...

Whole wheat sandwich bread in a breadmaker can be worth it once you get your recipe to where you want it.

Mayo (sorry!) is the same way. Takes just a couple of minutes to whip up a pint.

I was on a big DIY kick and tried doing yogurt and small-batch jam (just refrigerated, not canned). Gave up on the yogurt pretty quickly, but I still like to make jam when I have time and mental energy to spend on it.

Alli said...

Worth it: chicken stock (will make tons at a time and freeze it), salad dressings/marinades, dips especially guacamole, biscuits, muffins

Not worth it: piroghi (mine always turn into dough lumps), pasta, tortillas, tortilla chips (yes, that was a fail of a weekend)

Toss up: bread/pizza dough, pasta sauce, puff pastry

Miriam said...

Love the question. I love to bake so that's always worth it. What isn't worth it is specialty ethnic food that take forever and that require experience to be really good. Since I love middle eastern food my best examples of this are stuffed grape leaves (dolmas) and kibbee (those torpedo shaped things with cracked wheat stuffed with meat). I'm not against doing all specialty ethnic foods--just things like that that are time consuming and do not rely on fresh produce to be delicious.

Shoshana said...

homemade pasta can be worth it, in some instances, and if you have a pasta machine/roller. I love it for veggie-pasta lasagna noodles, they cook much faster and taste better than store-bought plain ones. But it is such a hassle and a process to make, I can see why some would prefer not to. I do like, however, that if you put the flavor into your pasta, all you need is a little butter or olive oil for your pasta and no sauce. If you're going for a gourmet sauce, skip the fancy homemade noodles and get store-bought so the sauce is the feature. Ravioli is also amazing when made with homemade pasta and stuffing, as most store-bought are heavy on the noodle and light on the filling.

I use too much bread to make it myself, but with 6 kids plus friends and cousins that is kind of a given. I make soups from scratch, and sauces (spaghetti, alfredo, etc) because I really don't care for any of the store options due to their preservatives. Of course, I'm also spoiled with fresh herbs in my garden, and that makes a world of difference. I do use canned tomato paste and v8 instead of sauce for the base, however.

Annie said...

Good question! Two of my major "worth it" foods are pasta sauce and baked goods. I love knowing that my pasta sauce is just tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and basil. And I really enjoy baking, so I rarely ever buy baked goods. (Bread isn't in that category; we go through it too quickly to keep baking loaves.)

Jen @ Dear Mommy Brain said...

I made homemade tortillas a few weeks aga and NEVER AGAIN! However, I always make my own stock and pizza dough. I have also recently started baking breads, although I did give up on sandwich bread. It was too much pressure to bake on a regular schedule...

Lynda said...

I think this is such a terrific question. Somedays anything I have to cook is just *NOT worth it*! The truth is I cook/bake/can almost everything and in my family, it is so *Worth It*...we grow most of our food. The one thing I can't make is Ritz-type crackers...I love them and just can't find a good recipe...so it's not worth it for me to try yet another Ritz cracker recipe (unless someone out there has one...then I'll give it another shot).

Kris said...

Really digging these responses, everyone. Pizza dough is one I definitely forgot.

@Miriam: Agree with you on the Dolma. It's one of my favorite foods, but such a pain in the butt to make.

@Liz Tee: Ooo ... jam's a good one. Excellent when you have the time.

Jen said...

Salsa isn't worth it for me. I guess I'm not a huge fan of it though, so it doesn't wow me. But guacamole is absolutely worth it!

Chicken stock is worth it if I'm making something where chicken stock is a primary flavor, like chicken soup. If I'm just adding a cup here or there to another dish though, I don't much care Usually I make homemade, freeze it, and save it for times I want the good stuff, and the rest of the time I used boxed.

I think most things are worth making from scratch if you want a special treat or have the time--like fresh pasta, beans cooked from dried, tomato sauce from scratch, bread, jam, etc. So I do like the homemade better most times, but I don't mind the store bought varieties either and will happily use them if that works best for me that day.

The things that are never worth it for me, though, are complex baked goods like croissants, elaborate cakes, etc. They take so long and just end up making me frustrated, and they never come out as well as a professional bakery. I have pretty much given up on making that kind of thing at home.

Sassy Molassy said...

I think there's a "worth it to do occasionally" category too. For example, once a year we get friends together and make about 50 dozen ravioli from scratch, dough and all, in the tradition of my husband's family. They last us all year in the freezer for special occasions and holidays. I also like to make tamales from scratch occasionally, but I will usually buy them at one of the many authentic local Mexican places near my house.

On a more regular basis, I think it is not only worth it but super easy to make pasta sauce from scratch. if I brought jarred sauce in the house, it would be grounds for divorce! It's really not hard, either.

Some things have an in-between, too. For example, I have fallen in love with frozen bread dough. I'm doing some work thawing and letting it rise, but freshly baked bread warm from the oven is a big enough payoff.

Suze said...

Love this question. I have been cooking for 35 years and experiment a lot.
Worth it: bread,muffins,scones,pasta, salad dressing, pasta sauces, chicken stock, soups (can't eat the canned stuff). I home can tomatoes,chutneys,jams,apple sauce.
Not Worth it: crackers,flour/corn tortillas, ravioli,

Betsy said...

Falafel is totally easier and so much better than the box mix! Joan Nathan's recipe is the ONE! http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/My-Favorite-Falafel-231755

chzplz said...

in my world, chicken stock, pasta sauce, salad dressing, and jam are always worth it.

In the not-worth-it column is bread, Chinese pot stickers/dumplings and waffles. I'm sure there's more, but those are the ones that jump to mind. Homemade bread is great, but I have a great bakery nearby that kicks my ass at baking.

In the sometimes category, roast chicken. Those ubiquitous rotisserie chickens are pretty good. Not as good as mine, but good as a reasonable facimile of a homemade meal.

Adrienne said...

Worth it: any kind of baked good, including bread. The good bakery stuff is expensive, and the cheap stuff tastes horrible to me. I don't really like to bake, though, so usually i just go without.

Also worth it: anything that can be made in a big batch and put in the freezer in smaller portions.

Not worth it: tortillas. pasta. Um... it's hard for me to name things in this category 'cause I usually don't bother if I think it will turn out that way.

Eyebrows McGee said...

Not worth it: Hummus ... because I live in an area with a large middle eastern population and EVERYWHERE has fresh, delicious hummus for sale. I can walk to like five places from my house. And it's not that big a city! (For the same reason, pitas.)

I do think making non-sandwich breads is worth it, but sandwich bread I just buy.

Heidi said...

Always from scratch: soup, sauces, baked goods (desserts, pancakes, breads, pizza dough, etc.) jam, dressing/dip, hot chocolate mix, granola

Half scratch, half purchased: salsa, sandwich bread, beans, pasta, fries, pie crust, hummus, ice cream

Prepared I CAN make but prefer not to: puff dough, croissants, nut butters, infused anything (oil, vinegar, liquor), mayo, Chinese pork buns, peanut sauce, yogurt, crackers, bagels/doughnuts

Given an infinite amount of time and three less kids, I'd probably be baking bread every day and making doughnuts on Saturdays. Then again, if I didn't have three little carb lovers, I wouldn't need so much bread or doughnuts! (Because doughnuts are just for the kids... right?)

Anna N said...

So interesting to read everyone else's!

Worth it: Bread (mostly no-knead), salad dressing, pasta sauce, whipped cream, pie crust (this is a core tenet of my religion, pietarianism), and jam (I used to be intimidated by it and kind of still am, but it's so frickin' delicious, makes great gifts, gives me an excuse to buy or pick lots of fruit, and I can make more interesting flavors than the grocery store)

Not worth it: Crackers, yogurt, soy milk (yes, I've tried)

Pasta is my last-minute-dinner food, so I haven't been tempted to make it from scratch, except gnocchi and spaetzle. Oddly, for someone who makes a lot of things from scratch, I almost always end up buying hummus even though it's way cheaper from scratch. I blame Sabra's deliciousness.

Autumn said...

Sandwich bread is worth it with the bread maker (wedding gift), otherwise I wouldn't bother. Basically any baked goods except tortillas are worth it just cause I enjoy the baking more than eating.
Other worth its: Fruit salsas for topping fish or completing a dish, pasta sauce, soups, most salad dressings, marinades and rubs, home infused vodkas

Not worth it: Salsas for chips and dip (Our store brand is really cheap and good), caesar dressing (can't have raw eggs so it doesn't taste right), beer, fresh pasta 95% of the time

Martin said...

I don't get why you say that those things are not worth it.

I would probably say that the only thing I don't like to make homemade and prefer to have outside is french fries.

Just because of the smell and the oil waste. I'd rather have fastfood-chain ones.

But pasta (specially gnocchi) is really easy to make and the result (using good ingredients) is amazing.

Besides, it lets you try different things.

One of my favorites is homemade "Italy-Coloured" Gnocchi.
You make a Basil batch, a paprika-red pepper batch and a normal batch.

For presentation, you can use pesto, tomato sauce and butter or a bechamel sauce and present it as an italian flag.

Anonymous said...

I, too, have trouble with the "not worth it" column.

Worth it: soup stock, soups, bread, pizza, beer

Not worth it: apple butter, any kind of stuffed pasta.

Occasionally fun: spring rolls

On the fence: Pie crust. I try not to read the ingredients on the pre-made stuff (think stuffing fingers in ears and going "la-la-la-la"), but I've made some terrible pie crusts. Plus, I don't eat it very often.

Kris said...

It's interesting how people differ on stuffed dumpling-style dishes - pierogies, ravioli, and whatnot.

@Martin: They're not worth it to me, given my general schedule and number of folks I have to feed. They may be very worth it to someone else.

@Eyebrows, @Anna N: Hummus is the one dip I don't make at home, either. Too many good Middle Eastern places around. And if they're closed ... Sabra with Roasted Pine Nuts. It can't be topped.

Stacey said...

Anything deep-fried is not worth it. I never deep-fry anything at home.

Pizza is a funny one. I don't think I've ever had a pizza at home that was half as good as pizzeria pizza. But I still make pizza at home sometimes recognizing that it's not in the same league.

Stock. I honestly can't taste the difference. I've tried.

Angela said...

Interesting responses so far! I love this question, as it truly falls into a triangle of compromise: time vs. taste vs. health.

Worth it for me because we use enough of them: Salad dressing and most sauces, bread, pizza dough (make a big batch and freeze it), any baked good, nut butters (but just because it's fun and fast to pulverize peanuts into peanut butter) and dried beans over canned.

Not worth it (yet): pasta/gnocchi, stock/broth, salsa, chips or crackers of any sort.

Mara said...

Worth it: Soups, ravioli, pie crusts, salad dressings

Not worth it: Almond milk (what a disaster!), potato chips/wedges, stock/broth

Lately I've been experimenting with falafel. The results look promising!

Laura said...

Okay, since I asked the question, I suppose I should weigh in :)

Salsa sometimes. I keep a jar of storebought (Trader Joe's) in the fridge on a permanent basis, but if I'm having people over or going to an event (e.g. a Superbowl party), it's really easy to make a big batch.

Pasta sauce I make by starting with canned diced tomatoes... does that count as homemade? I simmer it and add the flavoring myself.

Salad dressing is ABSOLUTELY worth it. I don't know the last time I bought it at a store. I use little 2 oz tupperware containers so I can make one serving at a time - takes about 30 seconds to throw the liquids and spices together and shake it up, and I don't have to keep random bottles in the fridge.

Chicken stock I go through like water, so I get the dehydrated kind to use in recipes. But if I'm just making chicken broth to have a bowl of chicken soup, I'll make it; I also don't buy any other kind of canned/packaged soup.

I don't eat jam enough to make it worth it to make, but it sounds like fun. Ditto for pasta.

When people mention beans, I assume that means canned vs dried? I stick with canned because I still cannot for the life of me get dried to come out right.

To provide some context, I travel 4-5 days/week for work and also a lot of weekends for pleasure. I love to cook when I am home, but often friends want to go out to dinner. So my pantry is pretty much stocked with stuff where all I need to add is meat/produce and I can make a good meal without much notice. I would almost never be able to start soaking beans the day before I use them, for example.

Sarah said...

Oh, but bread is SO worth is. Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day!

As for not eating it fast enough, make a loaf, slice it, return to loaf shape, wrap and freeze. Then you can just pull out the slices needed. It defrosts really quickly.

Mandi said...

I always make pasta sauce (marinara and alfredo) from scratch. When I have time, I like to make my own refried beans. The things that aren't worth it to me are chicken broth (unless I'm making chicken noodle soup), tortillas, and baking mixes (like Bisquick).

Hannah @Cooking Manager said...

The more people you are cooking for, the more things become "worth it." It's not only a money vs. time factor. There are very few processed foods that don't have extra starch, sugar and fat. That usually tips it over the edge. The good quality products are overpriced. So it almost always becomes "not worth it."

Not worth it: breakfast cereals, catsup/salsa, We buy tuna, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, pickles, olives, wine, some bread (working on that one), and mustard. Make from scratch: cakes, muffins, tortillas, beans, marinara, soup stock, hot cereals, stuffed cabbage etc. If it's too hard to make at home we do without or wait for a special occasion.

Vestal Vespa said...

My husband is a vegetable-averse vegetarian, so we're always running out of bread. And for me, baking bread is such a zen, calming experience that cranking out a couple of loaves on the weekend is well worth it for me to know I've got enough in the fridge for his cheese sandwich obsession.

Also always worth it: salad dressing. I haven't bought salad dressing in at least three years... I've grown to hate the taste of soy oil so much that I pretty much can't handle pre-made vinaigrette.

Not worth it (for me): potato gnocchi (I can't seem to get the texture down, and I'm tired of trying. The ricotta stuff, on the other hand I can totally do), vegetable stock, candy of any kind.

Toss ups: pizza dough (I actually kind of meet in the middle with this, I'll buy the store-brand mixes and throw in extra wheat flour and more rising time), pasta sauce (The local Italian community in Denver has several available at the grocery store for close to what I'd pay for the industrial brands, but I'll make it if I feel fancy), ice cream (I like the premade stuff in such a different way than I like the homemade kind).

Anonymous said...

BREAD - I have been making bread for a year now and highly recommend - artisan bread in five minutes a day. Requires no kneading and you can store the dough in the fridge for 2 weeks and use as needed.

Muffins - love the morning glory recipe from all recipes
Dried beans instead of canned beans. The trick is letting them sit in water overnight. Great freezer item
Sprouts – there are a lot of different beans you can sprout

I'm So Pretty said...

Oh boy... in a past life, worth it was bread, sauce, pizza dough, any baking, yogurt.

Not worth it was pasta, pierogies/dumplings/gnocchi, hummus, salsa.

Now, however, we eat low carb, so all those floury things are gone. I still make my own sauce and yogurt, and still buy hummus and salsa.

Jennifer said...

I think it depends on your personal habits and storage space. As well as your time and monetary budgets.

I love making my own yogurt, and at the rate I go through it, it is less than a quarter of the cost of the cheapest I can buy, and I think it tastes better, too.

I don't make my own pasta or stock. I periodically go to trader joe's and stock up on stock, pasta and chocolate chips - three things that TJ's does exceptionally well.

I make a lot of things other people don't because I am allergic to corn, so I make all of my own sauces, gravies, marinades, etc. The last thing I want is to have an allergic reaction to the 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch that's in a dressing. Speaking of dressing, I make my own stuffing, pies and pretty much everything else for Thanksgiving.

Other than stock and pasta, if I don't make it, I don't eat it....

landanimal said...

Pasta sauces and salsa are a must-do homemade for me. Store bought canned versions just do NOT compare in taste!

Pasta itself is something I never make though, maybe I am flavor hypocrite. I just don't ever have the time.

I also make all my salad dressings at home. You only need 3-5 ingredients and you make something delicious AND I like knowing what's in it. Most conventionally purchased salad dressings have scary lists of ingredients.

Evelyn said...

Worth it: yogurt

Not worth it: salsa, ricotta, vegetable stock

Iz said...

worth it: almost everything
not worth it: yoghurt, stock, mayo (hardly eat it anyway), ketchup (ditto). I try and avoid all manufactured food, as it's full of extra who-knows-what. Plain yoghurt is only milk and live culture, but without the hassle of trying to get the perfect conditions at home, and an organic stock cube is pretty inoffensive and saves hours of boiling. The only affordable way to eat well is to make it yourself! And bread is easy if you do "no knead"!

Meister @ The Nervous Cook said...

I have learned time and time again that pancakes are not worth it for me. For some reason, and I know I am in the incredibly vast minority on this one, pancakes are the single hardest thing to make properly. I always -- always! -- get burned bottoms and raw middles. Always.

Other things that aren't worth it, mostly because of space constraints: lasagna, layer cake, pizza dough.

Totally worth it: Dressings, tacos, beans, bread, poached eggs, potato chips. Actually, generally I find that if I want a "junk" food badly enough, it's more than worthwhile to make it at home.

M Family said...

Ok, so I saw a ton of salsa not being worth it and I totally agree, I experiment a lot when I cook, playing with recipes, combining them etc and salsa for some reason I have never been good at experimenting with. Would you believe that like 3 or 4 years ago I went to our county fair, and there was a vendor there with the most amazing salsa and its in a can? You scoop this spice/dried veggie mixture and add to a can of diced tomatoes and voila. I am so in love with this stuff, now, when I want yummy salsa (because lets face it, the bottled stuff is mediocre at best) I can go right to my pantry and be enjoying in like 1/2 hour, and it only gets better as it sits. (FYI--I tried adding more stuff to it one time and failed miserably, so I will leave it to the experts lol) I swear, I don't work for these people, I am just super enamored with their product :). http://hnhbrands.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=HHB&Category_Code=SB

Karen L said...

Never say never but generally:

Not worth it: sausage*, pasta, cold breakfast cereal

Worth it: stock and broth, salad dressing, cookies, smoothies, muffins

Sometimes: bread, pizza, pie crust, hummus

Hmmm. I may give gnocchi another chance, seeing how many people list it as "worth it." Maybe I was working with a bad recipe or just had bad luck that day. It just seemed like my results were no tastier and hardly cheaper than I can get at the store.

It's been fun to read all the comments. I shouldn't be surprised but some items I would never have even considered making from scratch (crackers) or buying pre-made (smoothie).

It seems too that if something is a big enough part of your diet, it becomes "worth it" to buy some equipment, e.g., pressure cooker, pasta roller, to lower the barrier to home-made.

*Okay, I've never actually tried to make sausage but it'd be hard to convince me that it would be cheaper or tastier than pre-made.

Also, it's a little humbling to see my typo-ridden question (I'm a TEACHER) posed to the internet. Glad everyone's enjoying, though.

Katie Lockhart said...

I find this list very helpful, but would move a few things around. I find soups to be very hard and complex. So far, soups would be on my not worth it list. I would have to agree pasta and crackers are not worth it. I think certain breads are worth making. I found pumpkin bread to be surprisingly quick and easy. As for your up for grabs list, I would say pasta sauce is worth it but the rest I wouldn't put the time or effort in making.

Lee said...

worth it: bread (we make almost all our own) soymilk in my soy joy machine, almost all baked goods (I never buy a mix)beans from dry storage,sauce and salsa from the garden

Not worth it--stock,jams and jellies unless we are giving as gifts we don't use enough.

Steff said...

As a fellow pietarian I am ashamed to admit I occasionally have a pillsbury crust in my freezer; solely for the times when I must have quiche and must have it NOW (or, must have it after 45 minutes of baking, I suppose).

Worth it: Pizza dough, soup, lasagna, most baking, risotto, and just about anything that will be shown off to suitably impressible people.
Let's face it, stuffing 37 gajillion butternut squash ravioli becomes instantly worth it when your mother in law appears for the briefest moment to be most pleasantly surprised by your culinary prowess.

Not worth it (at present): Pasta sauce (pasta is my go-to lazy food, so I use a generic base and add some stuff, dependent upon ambition levels), pasta, bread, most things I cook just for myself. Occasionally I'll pull out all the stops for just myself, but its fairly rare.

tamiko said...

I just discovered that mustard is most definitely WORTH IT! (spicy grainy mustard, that is...) So cheap and easy to make!

Other worth-its include bread, pizza dough, baked goods, jam (so many interesting flavour combinations), chicken stock, salsa, guacamole, pasta sauces, salad dressings, and also some body care things, like sugar wax.

Not worth it to me: anything that has to be assembled but not eaten assembled (aka cabbage rolls)

I haven't tried pasta yet, so can't compare, but I'm generally too much of a late-starter for homemade noodles.

I'm also currently attempting to make some seat-covers for a truck, so we shall see if THAT's worth it... :S

Golda said...

worth it: pizza dough, yogurt, pesto, bread, paneer, salad dressings

not worth it: stock, french fries, pie crust

Linda said...

Worth it: soups, curry, veggie stock, tomato based pasta sauce, dressing

Not worth it: Typically anything meat based including chicen stock, rotisserie chicken, sausage, deli meat

On the fence: dips. I go through hummus, salsa, and guac so frequently I don't have the patience to make it all of the time. And, I like store bought versions of each. But, it's worth it to make 50% of the time

I don't bake AT ALL, so breads and desserts are always store bought.

Karin said...

I have to disagree with you on pasta - it is great fun and SOOOOO good if you make it yourself! My "other half" doesn't usually cook, but even he loves feeding pasta dough through the rollers and making gloriously fresh noodles.

We made tortellini this week: http://karinscuisine.blogspot.com/2011/02/goats-cheese-and-rocket-tortellini.html

Thanks for your great blog ;-)

My Husband Rules said...

This is a second hand one, but I know my parents count Ketchup as something they'll never make again. (They had a HUGE garden).

reluctantwwfoodie said...

I agree that pasta noodles aren't always worth it, but homemade raviolis are incredible! definitely a worth it for me (that's why i wrote a blog entry about it - http://reluctantwwfoodie.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/raviolis-running-wild/)

Not worth it for me - guacamole. I found a great brand that i go gaga for.

Worth it - ravioli, salsa, pie!

Diane said...

Totally disagree with you about chicken stock. Of all the things I make home-made it's the one that I would never give up under any circumstances. It's way cheaper, way healthier, and way better than store-bought stuff. And it can be done overnight, during a long afternoon home, or any other block of time. It takes little effort, just time and yields a far superior product. Plus I'm way too cheap to buy something for a few bucks when the same amount of money and some of my time can yield me gallons of the stuff.

Diane said...

Oh yeah, and pasta sauce too. Never buy that expensive, gloppy jarred stuff ever.

Not worth it? Tortillas probably.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to me that a lot of people place chicken broth in the "not worth it" category. What do you do with your chicken carcasses? I always save mine in the freezer along with the neck bones and make up a big batch of stock once I've collected enough. It's almost like getting it for free!

Anonymous said...

Caramel flan and custard are two of the things that to me are just not worth making from scratch. They're more expensive with all the eggs you're going to need and they take way too much time when you can just use a boxed mix and add it to milk and boil and --voila, it's done.