Cooking from Scratch, Plus Recipes

I know that in todays world we all stay so busy, after all it’s a rat race out there. Whether you’re a working parent, stay at home mom, empty nester, college student or whatever your particular situation is; there are ways you can incorporate scratch cooking into your life.
Think about how homemade you want to go with your cooking. Just enough to get past those microwavable and boxed meals or full on homemade noodles, sauces, and breads. Buying prepackaged or processed foods can seem like a quick solution, but there are quite a few things that go along with them to think about. First, they are not nutritionally the best option.
On a side note, I used to really be into extreme couponing and I was one of those people that a lot of people hated to get stuck behind in line. I could easily get $300 worth of food for $80 bucks. But many of those items did end up being boxed dinners and processed foods. Like many people I did not consider the nutritional values of what I was buying. It was fast and cheap, that’s really all I cared about. Now that I have been cooking more from scratch, those boxed meals are a thing of the past. I can make the same meals and control the ingredients.
Secondly, they can also be very expensive. Don’t throw your money away on overpriced convenient foods. You can save so much just by cutting out the dinners out and by making things at home. If time is an issue, we will look into that too.

Let’s look at five benefits to cooking from scratch:
1.     Controlling the ingredients. A lot of processed foods have a high a high level of sodium and sugar. One example I read was from an article on It was discussing one particular TV dinner that was beef tenderloin paired with a side of mac and cheese. The meat had 48 milligrams of sodium, and the mac and cheese had 470 milligrams of sodium and 10 grams of sugar. Notice that was 10 grams of sugar, not milligrams. That is a lot of sugar for mac and cheese! When you make a homemade meal it’s also nice to know where the ingredients come from, especially if you can find ingredients locally so you know they’re fresh.
2.     It saves money! Many of the items you purchase will last for more meals then you’d think. For instance, if you buy flour, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch and sugar you have the makings for various items that will last you a while. And speaking of that when you’re shopping, calculate the savings. You can buy a regular sack of flour or sugar for $3 bucks or less, or you can get double that amount for two dollars more. This will help you keep these items in your pantry longer and you’ll have them on hand when your kids are beating you down for pancakes.
3.     It tastes better! This one is pretty self-explanatory I know, but you are the master of your kitchen and you can take pride in your dishes. If you are one of those people who think that they can’t just get in there and whip something up so easily, remember that is what cook books are for. I have lots of cookbooks and believe me I use them all the time for new ideas. Usually after you make the dish a few times, you’ll even be able to do it on your own. No worries, this isn’t master chef lol
4.     Teaches your children skills! I love to have the girls help me in the kitchen. In fact last night, two of them were in charge of battering up our chicken for frying. With kids and todays’ overload of technology, I consider them taking time to help as a win. Letting them help in the kitchen also teaching them about the importance of quality ingredients and proper procedures for using tools and equipment.  If yours are too young to use utensils such as knives, have them do other things to help you out. You never know it could spark a lasting passion!
5.     Dinner time! You get to sit down with your family and enjoy a meal that YOU created. This alone should be something to take pride in and this is vital for bonding with your family. If you don’t already, turn all the phones and distractions off, and talk to each other. I remember about 5 years ago when the girls were smaller, I was working a lot of overtime. We lived in a little bitty house and didn’t even have a dining room table. When I mentioned we were getting a set, Brittney was so happy because she said we could finally sit down and eat as a family. That hit me like a ton of bricks and made me realize how important those little moments were to them.
Now if scratch cooking seems intimidating, it really isn’t. It’s completely up to you, how much or how little you want to incorporate it into your life. My thoughts are, start small. No one expects you to be Martha Stewart, and don’t you expect that either. You’re going to make mistakes, we all do, but hey that’s life.
Another obstacle for many people is that they are so busy; they don’t think they have the time to come home and then make a meal. That is where creativity comes into play. Even if you can’t cook a meal seven nights a week, shoot for 3 nights. If you have a crockpot, there are so many different types of meals you can throw together and have ready later. Just start it on your way out the door in the morning, and when you come home you will have dinner ready. You can also use meal planning or make a week’s worth of meals and freeze them for later. There are tons of shortcuts. Like I said before there are always cookbooks and also the internet has tons of recipes out there, I utilize that a lot!
Let’s look a couple simple recipes and see how difficult or not they really are. Let’s start with one of my own biscuit recipes. This recipe I like to make because first of all they are good and secondly because I use powdered butter and shortening, I can store extra and have it ready to go when I need it.
Trailer Park Biscuit & Drop Biscuit Mix:
5 cups All Purpose Flour
3 tbs. Baking Powder
2 tsp. Salt (I used sea salt)
1 cup Powdered Shortening (
Provident Pantry Shortening Powder)
1/2 cup Powdered Butter (
Provident Pantry Butter Powder)

Makes Approx. 6-7 Biscuits

Combine all and bag per previous instructions. To Make: Add full bag to 1/2 - 1 cup of water (add slowly, so you can judge if you need the entire amount). You may have noticed that this recipe does not include milk or sugar like some, but it is a great and versatile recipe still. If you would like to replace the water with milk it works fine as well. These work terrific in cast iron and are warm and buttery! (in a pinch it can also be thinned to make pancakes as well)

To Use for Drop Biscuits: use one entire bag of mix & decrease water to 1/4 - 3/4 cup; add to soups as you’d like.
The second recipe I want to share because it is amazing and it’s one of the kids’ favorite treats, it’s Amish Cinnamon Bread. If you haven’t made this, you have to try it! But note: it does call for a lot of sugar so beware, especially if serving to someone that is diabetic.
Amish Cinnamon Bread:
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk or 2 cups of milk +2 tbs of vinegar or lemon juice
4 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking soda
(Separately Combine:)
2/3 cups sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
Cream together: butter, sugar, and eggs. Then add milk, flour, and baking soda and mix well until smooth. Put 1/4 of batter into greased loaf pans or fill muffin cups 1/4 full.  Then sprinkle some of the cinnamon mixture on top. Add ¼ more of the batter and sprinkle with last of the cinnamon topping. Swirl with a knife to mix the cinnamon mixture into the loaf or muffin batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Or until toothpick tester comes clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing from pan.

Last Thoughts….

The girls also help a lot, so they get to see the whole process from growing our food to harvesting it. One thing about it is even though we live in a trailer park we don’t really let that become an obstacle to growing. It is such a good way to get them involved in where their food comes from.
By having them in the kitchen with you, you also have the opportunity to teach them proper hand washing techniques, measuring, how to read recipes, and the importance of kitchen cleanliness from a health perspective. I think it also helps them to value all of the work that goes into preparing meals. Most of all have fun with them and make memories. And if you’re like me, remember to take pictures to capture those moments!

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