When I was in college, the foods I could cook were limited to Kraft Mac & Cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. Having children really inspired me to make more homemade foods. Now, I haven’t walked down the frozen food aisle in more than six years!
During the past two years, I have made a commitment to making as many homemade pantry staples as possible. Before I had kids, I never even imagined that I could make my own salad dressing or pancake mix. But it turns out it is actually really easy!
Making my own foods means I can control what ingredients go into them. Homemade means no hidden artificial colors or flavors and no preservatives.
Homemade also means that I save a lot of money! I can use quality, organic ingredients and pay just a fraction of the price that I would have paid for a prepared food.
Here is my list of the 5 essential pantry staples you should make yourself as well as my favorite recipes.
1. Pancake Mix
There is no reason not to make your own pancake mix. Most pancake mix recipes consist of only four or five ingredients. I make the dry mix in bulk and store it in large glass containers.
I have two favorite recipes. The best buttermilk pancake recipe comes from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles. It is a super easy recipe but tastes amazing! My favorite buckwheat pancake recipe is one I found on Simple Bites. Aimee even gives you the bulk recipe. I like to add frozen wild blueberries when I make mine.
2. Salad Dressing
Salad dressing is another pantry staple that is so easy to make it would be crazy to ever buy it from the store again. Most salad dressings are just some combination of oil and vinegar with things like herbs, garlic, mustard or mayonnaise added in. It’s simple to change it up and try different combinations. As with the pancake mix, I make a large jar of salad dressing and store it in the refrigerator. Some oils solidify when they get cold so I either pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds before using or let it come to room temperature on the counter.
I love the garlic-herb vinaigrette and buttermilk ranch dressings from Simple Bites. And Annie’s Eats has an amazing strawberry vinaigrette. I don’t like to go through the hassle of chopping up everything so I put all of the ingredients, except the oil, in a large mason jar and then use an immersion blender to mix and chop everything. Then I add the oil, put on a lid and shake it up.
My go-to recipe is for balsamic vinaigrette. In a mason jar, combine 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup honey, 4 tsp Dijon mustard, 4 garlic cloves, 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper. Use an immersion blender to combine all of the ingredients. Store in refrigerator.
3. Vanilla Extract
Making homemade bourbon vanilla extract is as simple as sticking some split vanilla beans in bourbon. But the result is the best tasting vanilla you ever had! Especially if you choose high-quality vanilla beans. And that tiny bit of effort results in a ton of savings. I use this recipe for homemade vanilla extract.
4. Spreadable Butter
Every time my husband brings home one of those plastic containers of margarine or spreadable butter, I shudder. Not only do they contain ingredients that I can’t even pronounce, but they are stored in plastic and just don’t look natural. Spreadable butter is amazingly easy to make. All it takes is canola oil (or some other oil of your preference) and butter. I mix it up with an immersion blender and keep in a mason jar or glass Pyrex bowl. Check out my recipe for spreadable butter.
5. Chocolate Syrup
I confess. I grew up on Hershey’s chocolate syrup. I put it in my milk, on my ice cream, drizzled on just about every dessert. Of course, its number one ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. It also contains preservatives, artificial flavor and other ingredients that are really really bad for you. Oh, and Hershey’s uses slave labor – not cool!
While I was pregnant, I craved chocolate milk so I had to come up with a better alternative. This chocolate syrup recipe from the Green Phone Booth was just the answer to my dilemma. It uses five simple ingredients, is super quick to make and stores in the fridge for several months.
Keep checking back for more recipes for homemade pantry staples!
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