Foods you can stop buying (and start making)

Living in isolation saw many Australians tap into their inner chef and start making their own sourdough. After 3 years of not being able to perfect this, if you have managed to do so in a few months – please, tell me your secrets! You may not wish to make bread, but being able to replace some store bought items with freshly made goods is a handy skill to have. While an investment in your time, foods made from scratch are generally cheaper, contain less additives, and are kinder to our environment because there is less packaging used. Not to mention they can be delicious!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Pasta Sauce / Passata: without a doubt, this is my most favourite ‘I don’t need to buy that anymore because I can make it’ recipe. I do up a batch about once a month, freeze in containers and use for bolognaises, Mexican, pasta dishes – anything that requires a tomato-sauce type base. Join me in channelling your inner Jamie Oliver and cooking this 7-veg tomato sauce.
  • Granola: turn your breakfast game up with this Donna Hay Granola. Popping some of this granola is a fancy glass jar and giving it to someone is a lovely thing to do. Warning: they will be very impressed.
  • Trail Mix: while buying the ingredients for the above granola, grab a few extra and make your own DIY trail mix packs. For years I bought little packets and boxes of nuts because I thought it was easier. It’s really not.  Grab a selection of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, yoghurt drops and the odd chocolate bud and throw together your mix. Divide into your own bags or containers. Snack time, sorted.
  • Crackers: this one is taking me a while to perfect, but my family is enjoying the ride. This cracker recipe itself is rather simple, and you can change up the flavours per batch to suit your taste buds.  If you are interested in making seeded crackers, this 5-seed cracker recipe is gluten-free and vegan friendly.  Adding DIY crackers to a fresh platter of veggie sticks, dip, fruit and cheese can be as healthy as it is delicious.
  • Stove Top Popcorn: this recipe doesn’t conjure up the fragrance that microwave popcorn does, but it is devoid of additives, has less calories, and contains far less salt. It is also much easier on your hip pocket. A packet of corn kernels costs less then $2 and does 10+ batches. A packet of microwave popcorn is about the same price, and you only get one batch! As with the cracker recipe, you can go a little crazy with trying different flavour combinations. Adding cinnamon, craisins and sultanas is a lunchbox favourite at our place. What do you need to make your own popcorn? Corn kernels plus splash of oil in a saucepan with the lid on. Have on heat until popping slows down. Done!
  • Pizza Bases: if you have kids or are having people over for dinner, DIY pizza bases can be a lovely, social (albeit occasionally messy) time. Practice your chopping skills while preparing your own favourite toppings. Eating pizza you made with your bare hands is so much more satisfying than store bought ones. Need a recipe for a pizza base? Check out the side of a box of OO flour (this flour makes the base smoother), or find some other ideas here.
  • Hummus: If you have a crack at making your crackers, why not dip into DIY dips as well? Many dips can be made at home with not a huge amount of effort. Hummus is a good starting point and a refreshing Tzatziki can be easily made from only a few ingredients. Check out the ingredients list on your favourite dips and have a play at making them yourself.

I hope this list inspires you to have a go at swapping out some store bought items for ones that you can make at home. Start small, and you never know where the journey might take you! About 2 years ago I started making my own pasta. Yes, pasta is pretty cheap to buy and pretty quick to cook from a packet, but I find the process of making it very therapeutic and extremely satisfying. It’s not a task I undertake when I am in a hurry to get dinner on the table, but something I can take my time doing if my weekend allows (usually with a glass of therapeutic red wine).
There are many benefits to making some food from scratch: it saves money; it saves on additives; it reduces packaging; and simply, it feels good to eat something you made with your own hands.

Naomi Blines,
Qualified Nutritionist & Registered Nurse
Helping people is Naomi’s thing, which is what drew her to nursing.  Over the years she learnt that food is more than just fuel for our bodies; it’s the centrepiece for community, it’s medicinal, it can be simple, healthy and delicious. Wanting to share this discovery, she completed a Medical Science (Nutrition) degree. Naomi knows how busy this thing called life is and loves to share tips and tricks that make eating (& living) well, easy and enjoyable.