Cooking From Scratch Is It A Thing Of The Past?

Cooking From Scratch Is It A Thing Of The Past?

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Cooking from scratch is it a thing of the past? This last weekend I had part of my family here for Thanksgiving. Ellie wanted to make creamed chip beef on toast or homemade rolls. I tried making a video with my granddaughter making a roux. I’m not good at editing videos YET, but I’m working on it. Anyway, I was using my iPhone and of course, at the end of the filming, someone screams “what?” Well, we all laughed and then I tried to “edit the video” to get the loud word removed.  I own it, I cannot edit videos as of today.  So I do not have a video on how to make a roux. Life is life, we just roll with it.

Every time my family comes to our home or I go to their homes, I try to teach them the skills I have by cooking from scratch. Most of my daughters cook from scratch even though all four daughters have one or two jobs each. Proud mama here that my daughters know how to work. My one daughter is a single mom and her son enjoys cooking from scratch, I love it!

Netflix Documentaries

I have watched a few Netflix documentaries that have opened my eyes to the quality of the food we are able to buy and prepare at home. It’s not good, my friends to see all the people around us dealing with weight and other health issues. We must grow our own food or buy from local Farmer’s markets if at all possible. I have watched some documentaries that show how overweight people are in the US. Here’s the deal, when we eat out the food tastes yummy because they sometimes add more butter, salt and sugar than we may realize on that oversized plate of food. We are what we eat.

Dinner Plate Sizes

Cooking From Scratch

I love comparing dinner plate sizes to the pioneer plate sizes. They used salad size plates and they worked on farms. Hard work, six or seven days a week. Picture eight-inch plates to the 12-inch plates we are using today. I swear, they bring out a platter of food at a local Mexican food restaurant here in Southern Utah for one person. The plates above show approximately the white eight-inch plate sizes years ago and the cute 12-inch turquoise plate size today.

Cooking From Scratch

Cooking From Scratch

Here are my favorite basics you need in order to cook from scratch. Feel free to tell me some items I should add to my list.

  1. Beans
  2. Rice
  3. Soups
  4. White bread flour
  5. Yeast
  6. Crackers
  7. Peanut butter
  8. Jams and jelly
  9. Powdered eggs
  10. Instant milk
  11. Popcorn
  12. Dehydrated onions
  13. Lemons juice
  14. Cocoa
  15. Garlic
  16. Raisins
  17. Spices
  18. Tortillas
  19. Chicken broth
  20. Olive oil/Coconut oil
  21. Dehydrated or fresh potatoes
  22. Pasta: who loves spaghetti?
  23. Tomato paste or flakes
  24. Salt
  25. Sugar
  26. Honey
  27. Baking soda
  28. Baking powder
  29. Cream of tartar
  30. Canned meat
  31. Wheat
  32. Dehydrated carrots & celery
  33. Salsa and green chilies
  34. Water
  35. Fruit
  36. Vegetables
  37. Oatmeal
  38. Cornstarch
  39. Fresh produce when possible

How To Make A Roux

If you are wondering how to make a roux (pronounced roo) all you do is take a saucepan and use equal amounts of butter and flour. Then add milk according to how thick you want your cream sauce or roux. For instance, melt one cup of butter in the saucepan and then add one cup of flour. Stir quickly with a whisk. Whisk until smooth and add milk slowly. Sometimes it takes 2-quarts of milk or more. You must stir or whisk constantly. I add salt, pepper, and sugar.

Yes, sugar, it makes my sauce taste fabulous! You can cook it for 20-30 minutes to make the flavors stand out and to reach the full flavor and thickening. Again, you will add more or less milk depending on how thick you want your roux or creamy white sauce to be.

If you make a roux, you can make creamed chipped beef on toast or biscuits, add cheese to make mac and cheese, or add clams simmered with onions and celery to make clam chowder. The possibilities are endless. You can make just about any creamy soup you can think of with leftovers, love this recipe!

  1. Beans: you can buy dried beans in a bag or purchase ready to use canned beans. You can make soups, hummus, side dishes, or chili, and you have a great protein meal at the same time. I can make a meal with beans and my favorite spices then add some tortillas and salsa.
  2. Rice: white rice has a longer shelf life than brown rice, so I store very little brown rice. I can use rice to stretch so many frugal meals, love it! It’s fairly inexpensive even in smaller bags. I like to buy white rice in #10 cans, the shelf life is 30 years (unopened) because it is commercially packed compared to the bagged rice from supermarkets. I prefer not to use mylar bags. I only want to buy food storage once with zero waste. Brown rice lasts about 6 months from the grocery store because it has a higher fat content over white rice. You can store brown rice in the refrigerator for 2-3 months longer if kept in an airtight container.
  3. Soups: some people make their own creamed soup from scratch. I buy Campbell’s cream of chicken by the case. I can make just about any casserole or soup with it. I watch for the case lot sales in the fall. Be sure and check the expiration dates.
  4. White bread flour: if you can make bread you can barter and survive. Trust me, people love hot bread right out of the oven. You can make muffins, pancakes, waffles, cookies, cakes and so much more with flour of any kind.
  5. Yeast: I purchase the brand SAF Yeast for my bread and biscuits. Period. I have not had good luck with other yeast brands. I store the amount of yeast I will use for a month in the refrigerator. The rest of the packages I store in my freezer. They have lasted three years for me in the freezer if unopened. If you can’t find it where you live, you can buy it online: Saf Instant Yeast, 1 Pound Pouch
  6. Crackers: need I say more. Crackers are great with chili, soups and topped with your favorite chicken salad made with mayonnaise.
  7. Peanut butter: sometimes my husband and I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. I make homemade whole wheat bread which is a bonus for my budget.
  8. Jams and jelly: for sandwiches, biscuits, rolls, and bread
  9. Powdered eggs: for baking only, it’s nice to have a can of powdered eggs in the pantry if you run out of eggs. Of course, fresh eggs are better, but if you have an ice storm you can still make cookies and stay off the icy roads if your egg cartons are empty.
  10. Instant milk: this is a bonus for every family. I store my opened #10 can of instant milk in the refrigerator so it’s ready in a flash if I run out of milk. It’s good for two years opened. Check the date on the milk you buy because every manufacturer is different.
  11. Popcorn: popcorn is a great tummy filler and comfort food in a bad storm. Add some melted butter to popped corn with a smidge of salt and you have a great treat for everyone! You can add other spices as well and flavor the popcorn to your preference.
  12. Dehydrated onions: I personally rarely buy fresh onions except maybe in the summer if my garden hasn’t produced enough yet. I love knowing I can add a scoop of dehydrated onions to taco meat, soups, chili, casseroles, omelets and not have to peel, cut or chop them. Love it!
  13. Lemon juice: I do buy lemon juice for the refrigerator, but I also buy these packets I use every day and for emergencies: True Lemon Bulk Pack, 500 Count
  14. Cocoa: can you smell the chocolate cake baking or relish the taste of hot chocolate right now?
  15. Garlic: now you can buy a HUGE jar like my daughter, Heidi and store it in the refrigerator, buy some fresh garlic or buy it like I do from North Bay Trading Company.It’s air-dried minced garlic and it is so awesome! I love that I can store it in my pantry, no refrigeration necessary.
  16. Raisins: these are great for snacks, muffins, bread pudding, etc.
  17. Spices: be sure and keep your pantry full of your favorite spices. I can’t get by without vanilla, chili powder, and cinnamon. You know the ones you need, right?
  18. Tortillas: I can make my own tortillas with the stuff on this list, except my corn tortillas. Keep a few tortillas on your pantry shelves (check the expiration dates) and a few in the freezer. If you feel so inclined, learn to make tortillas. They taste yummy and fresh!
  19. Chicken broth: if I have some leftover from cooking a chicken I will freeze it, but I prefer to use: Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base 8 oz. Of course, you will need water. If I see a good buy on canned or boxed chicken broth I will pick up a few for the pantry.
  20. Olive oil/Coconut Oil: we can make so many things with oil. I just added it to the list because we know we need some.
  21. Dehydrated or fresh potatoes: we can mash, fry or bake potatoes. I love dehydrated potatoes to add to soups and chowders. No peeling, chopping or dicing. I can add them right from the can to my soups.
  22. Pasta: who loves spaghetti? Oh, and mac and cheese. Everyone needs pasta in a pantry, right?
  23. Tomato paste or flakes: you can make soups, spaghetti, chili, stews, etc.
  24. Salt: it’s all about flavor.
  25. Sugar: I have to have sugar to make my bread, cookies, cakes and to put on certain cereals.
  26. Honey: you can make bread with honey, peanut butter with honey sandwiches, make cookies and all kinds of other baked goods. I only buy honey from Cox’s Honey because it’s pure, raw honey. Honey is a natural food and is so good for you.  Give it a try in place of sugar next time.
  27. Baking soda: I need it for baking muffins, cookies, etc.
  28. Baking powder: I need it for baking, muffins, biscuits, etc.
  29. Cream of tartar: I know this is a spice, but I need to make my biscuits and play dough for kids.
  30. Canned meats: if you can your own that’s awesome! I buy mine at Costco. I like the chicken and tuna with water. I stock up big time when they go on sale.
  31. Wheat: if you can grind wheat and make bread that is awesome. You can also make hot cereal with just the wheat and water to make a wholesome meal. Here is how I make hot whole wheat cereal: 1 cup washed whole wheat berries, 3 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional), place all the ingredients in a slow cooker at night for 12 hours and you will have hot cereal in the morning. Drain off excess water and store unused wheat in the refrigerator. Add a little milk and honey when serving, if desired. You can double or triple the recipe if your slow cooker will hold it. You can add the cooked wheat to many meals as you do rice or quinoa.
  32. Dehydrated carrots and celery are always in my pantry. I can throw them in soups and stews.
  33. Salsa and green chilies: I can eat these on everything, just saying.
  34. Water: store as much as your budget allows. We need water to survive and to make most meals out of our pantry stash.
  35. Fruit: cans of fruit, freeze-dried fruit (longer shelf life), or dehydrate your own for a short shelf life.
  36. Vegetables: canned, freeze-dried or dehydrated.
  37. Oatmeal typically lasts about 2-3 years depending on the type you buy whether it’s steel cut, old-fashioned or instant (quick). Always store these in airtight containers in a cool place.
  38. Cornstarch, we can always use a thickener, right?
  39. Fresh fruits and vegetables.
Read More of My Articles  Manual Vintage Kitchen Tools We All Need

Let me know if you have ideas to bring back cooking from scratch, we need to keep these skills going. Thanks again for being prepared for the unexpected. If you have time to teach classes to your neighbors, please do it. We will all need to know how to cook from scratch, I promise.

Back To Basics Bread Making by Linda

Back To Basics Emergency Kitchen by Linda

Please be prepared: “Prepare Your Family For Survival”  by Linda Loosli, thank you!

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Comments

  1. Brown gravy is important for scratch cooking. How to brown any meat and make gravy from the drippings.We may find that some meats aren’t to our liking (gamey etc.) Cook it in gravy and it might be a game changer. Also to get the gamey taste out of meat you can soak in milk, buttermilk, or coffee. BTW I’m new and glad to be here :). Is your Facebook page open to the public or is it set to private? I’m more of a private preparer.

    • Hi Reva, I’m a private prepper, but anyone can find me. My Food Storage Moms Facebook page is public. Although FB rarely shows all my posts. They want us to pay, and I refuse to do that. Great tip on the gamey flavor of meat, good one! I was asked to write a book so my name will never be private. It’s called “Prepare Your Family For Survival” by Linda Loosli. Thanks for stopping by, Linda

  2. Carol Kain says:

    I almost always cook from scratch. I eliminated most of the processed foods from our meals (okay, the occasional pizza, maybe store-bought pierogies) as much as possible. I’d say around 90% is from scratch. Nope, it hasn’t died out yet! :-0

    • Hi Carol, I love hearing this comment! Mark, my husband loves pizza so we still pick a few of those up from time to time. The point is we know how to cook from scratch, you rock! Good job! Linda

  3. Had to laugh – I’ve been caring for my adult son after neck & throat surgery. One of the few things of substance he could swallow was mashed potatoes so I bought several foil packets (just add water) of instant potatoes for a quick fix when I was busy. His 18-yr-old daughter (in her first year of culinary arts school) was horrified when she found them in my cupboard. Her response….”My whole life is a lie!” Lol I reassured her she had not been eating instant potatoes at Grandma’s house all these years.

    • HI Linda, oh my gosh, this is the best comment ever! “My whole life is a lie”, I have the giggles so bad! This is when we need quick meals for the sick…great tip! I sure hope your son gets better soon. I love hearing she is in culinary arts school, how cool is that!!! Great comment, Linda

  4. I noticed a long time ago, that when we went out for dinner, I didn’t feel well after. I cook from scratch, and apparently my body doesn’t like the added chemicals. Most years, (this year the deer ate it) I have a garden, and can whatever I produce.

    • Ji, Janet, I think I know exactly what you are saying. If and when Mark and I eat out, as I’m driving home, I typically say, “I never want to eat there again!”. I feel overstuffed, bloated and downright do not feel well. I totally get it! I wish I could grow a garden year round. That would be my dream. Linda

  5. I haven’t used my “dinner” plates in years. Don’t know why I keep them!! I have been using the salad/dessert plates and don’t fill them or go for seconds.

    As for cooking from scratch: I have taken a gazillion recipes and cut them down to 1-2 servings. Have you noticed that recipes are for 4-6 servings? That would just about insure overeating in my case. My daughter says to just freeze the extra portions but I only have the freezer in the top of my refrigerator so that would only last for a few meals.

    While I do cook from scratch as often as I can, I find that some of the boxed/canned items from the store are very good. My kitchen scale gets a real workout when I purchase boxed things. I always portion the “hamburger helper type boxed items” down to 1-2 servings. It always means using ounces of water vs cups of water. I always write on the new packaging how much liquid/fats, etc., to use with my smaller sizes. Saves me $$ when I get these things on sale as well as saves on freezer space.

    Leanne

    • HI Leanne, this is a great idea! Well, actually several good ideas! I have a freezer and store extra meals in stackable Rubbermaid containers. Cooking for two is harder than a large family! LOL! Linda

    • P.s. I’m with you on the dinner plates, I need to put them in a box, we use the salad size plates as well! Linda

    • hillbilly girl says:

      Hamburger Helper ??? That’s one of the biggest ripoffs in the store. It’s noodles and a tiny bit of seasoning! Save your money and do your own. I ditched that stuff 40 yrs ago.
      The hard one for me is soup. I cannot make soup without making a gal or two. Well, except potato and split pea. What I have learned to do is freeze several jars of the leftover soup. The pint and a half freezer jars are perfect for the 2 of us. It has eliminated a lot of our eating out because we’re so busy.
      I cannot make anything the same exact way twice. Try popcorn popped in lard or olive oil. We love the variety. Also, that’s how our ancestors made it through hard times.

      • Hillbilly Girl:
        I said “hamburger helper TYPE. Not Hamburger Helper per se. Anyway, when I can get some of those things for $0.35 per box and split them down to servings in my sizes, well, I cannot make them myself for $0.10 per meal. AND I don’t use them often. But money talks and BS walks.

        I would love to have the freezer space to freeze jars of soups but I only have the top of my refrigerator and after portioning out a gallon or two of soup in single servings, there simply is not enough room to freeze those and other necessary foods. I have tried working with other singles where I live but they don’t want to help foot the bill and I cannot afford to feed all of them. I don’t mind having a dinner party of say 3-4 friends over when I make soup occasionally but some of these neighbors tend to come to expect those of us who are generous to feed them all the time.

        • Hi Leanne, I totally knew what you were talking about. I buy Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup. I have tried every homemade cream of chicken soup recipe and I don’t like any of them. Here’s the deal, if we have to use processed food to feed ourselves occasionally, that’s life. You cannot make a huge pot of soup and have people expect you to feed them. It would be nice to have people reciprocate, I get it. I love that you have figured out how to split a box and stretch your food budget! I tip my hat to you. I do not know how families are feeding their families these days unless the government is footing the bill through food stamps or an EBT card. Or in reality, we the American people through taxes. Linda

          • My daughter and SIL have 3 small children (6, almost 5 and 3). They have a budget for food of $800/month. AND she cooks from scratch (don’t know where she learned that!) Those 3 tiny kids eat like CRAZY! They live in Seattle – one of the highest cost of living places in Washington. They live on a single income. They have been very fortunate in that they purchased their home for $450,000 less than what it is valued at now! Had to do quite a bit of work on it but, well, SIL is an electrician and very handy otherwise. I don’t know how they do it! They have a small back yard and keep hens for eggs and have a small garden. The previous owner planted some fruit trees and blueberries. They don’t get many blueberries for cooking with a 6, almost 5 and 3 year old berry thieves!

            Love your posts and replies. Keep up the good work.

          • Hi Leanne, I LOVE all your comments, wow I know my nephew got a job in Seattle and the price of homes were crazy high in $$$$! I’m glad to hear your daughter bought low and they were able to fix up a home and gain equity! Love it! You were a good example to teach her to cook from scratch, I love this, but you know that! The blueberry story, how fun those little ones can go out and pick fresh fruit!! Your grandchildren are learning skills from their mama and dad! I know gardens teach young ones how to work, and the love of earth in their little hands. Thank you, my friend, Linda

      • Hi Hillbilly girl, you sound like me I start with a pot of soup and before I know it the pot gets fuller and fuller. LOL! I love soup! I don’t have enough room to freeze a lot of jars but I do a few here and there and it’s so awesome to just thaw a jar in the frig a day or two before for a meal. I love popcorn, I have got to try some variations. Linda

  6. Chuck Simmons says:

    Great collection of info… Patti and I both love to cook and we do almost everything from scratch.. This year’s Christmas present to our oldest granddaughter is a cookbook of many her favorite dishes titled “From Nana’s Pantry” . We also have a very large Tips & Notes chapter that includes many of your pieces that we have kept
    ie: 15 Vintage Tools, 30 Pioneer Skills, What You Need In Your House…
    Also charts on measurements cooking times etc.. We are trying our best to keep the knowledge of how to cook alive and not just how to use a microwave… :))

  7. Kristine M Bakus says:

    I love to cook from scratch for just about everything. Unfortunately, many young people today are to ‘busy’ to learn the slower pace of making a meal from scratch. A friend of ours daughter just got married and the first thing her mom asked for her were recipes. The bride had tried to make a cake for he future husband’s Birthday and from what I was told it was a failure. I hope my children will carry the cooking I have taught them forward into their adult lives.

    • Hi Kristine, I hope that young bride doesn’t give up, we have all had a few “failures” in cooking or baking. BUT we learn from it! I’m so glad you taught your children to cook. The food in fast food places is so unhealthy. We all need a little practice…I wish they would teach more classes at the schools. Linda

  8. vocalpatriot says:

    “..is it a thing of the past?”
    Short answer: No.

    • Hi vocalpatriot, I’m so glad to hear this from someone! My neighborhood had a potluck dinner and I brought homemade lasagna and I saw about 15 “Lean Cuisine Containers” lined up. I still get the giggles thinking about that potluck party! Linda

      • vocalpatriot says:

        I “brag about our cooking at my work, (lowe’s) and I have seen what I can only describe as a revival. more and more folks come in to talk about what they’ve prepared for their families the night before.when they see how simple cooking really is, they get inventive.
        “lean cuisine”…lol that is funny.

  9. I Scratch cook at home pretty much everyday, about the only time I eat out is a bag lunch on the road. Truthfully I can cook just about anything better and far healthier than what’s available eating out and the spicy ethnic foods I really enjoy are not available in my rural area so I make them at home.

    I stock all the fresh basics and use very little packaged food ( soup bases, canned goods, and dried pasta, etc excepted). I would suggest canned potatoes for the list. They taste good, are very cheap (about .50 a can at WM), and after you peel and process a large spud you get about the same amount as in one can. I use them for everything from stews, curries, and fried with breakfast.
    Also BEGA canned cheese is pretty good and the price has been going down.
    Scratch cooking really isn’t dead IMHO, it’s just a large segment of city dwellers who have little time or inclination to cook and the availability of a myriad of large city food choices who have abandoned scratch cooking. My son who is single and in the Air Force cooks most of the time for both himself and his friends to save money (they all pitch in) and to sharpen those culinary skills (you know the old hack about men who can cook! :D).

    I usually pick one day a week to cook several items to eat through the week – I’m a widower so it save time and effort to do it this way. Regards!

    • Hi JDub, I really like your comment! I had forgotten about canned potatoes, they would be perfect, I grew up on them. I can’t buy bags of potatoes, I do grow potatoes but my harvest is over now. What a great story about your single son in the Air Force cooking from scratch with friends! You rock, great tips today! Linda

  10. I cook from scratch also. On the subject of onions, I dry some and chopped up a lot of them and lay them out in a greased cookie sheet and put them in the freezer raw. When frozen I crumple them up and put them in bags in the freezer to use daily and keep the dried ones for the future.

    • Hi Sue, this is so funny you would mention freezing onions. I went to a barbecue this summer and took 8 onions sliced. We didn’t use all of them. I froze them and I shake the frozen bag to get some out when I need. I like your tip on laying them out on a greased cookie sheet. Great tip! Linda

  11. I also can meats and home grown potatoes. I use the smaller ones to just wash them off because the skins are so tender that a lot of skin washes off with a brush you are cleaning them with. They are great for frying, using in stews but would not work for mashed potatoes. They are oh so good fried.

    • Hi Sue, Oh, my gosh fresh grown potatoes taste so good! I have never canned any potatoes but I have pressured a little meat at a class I took to get my Mater Preserver Canning Class Certificate. My problem now where I live does not have the best meat so I’m becoming more of a vegetarian. I love hearing people canning meat, fruits, and vegetables. LOVE it, Linda

  12. There are still some of us who are at home with a bunch of kids, growing a big garden and then preserving the bounty for the winter. There is a learning curve for sure. I’m lucky to have watched my mom in the 70’s and have had a garden and canned just about every year of my adult life. At this point, about 80% of our family’s food comes from the farm. I can using water bath and a pressure canner, dehydrate, freeze, freeze-dry (harvest right freeze-dryer) and store vegetables in a cold corner of the basement. It is a ton of work but when California is unable to supply us with fruits and veggies, I’ll be glad to have the skills needed to keep my family fed.

    • Hi Bumble B, your comment is what I call a cartwheel moment, it’s music to my ears! You rock, you are self-reliant and your mamma must be so proud! I know I am and I’m just reading this beautiful comment about being a family that works hard and is independent. You rock! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this comment! Thank you, Linda

  13. Hi, Linda. I, too, cook and bake 99% of our meals from scratch and take leftovers for lunch at work. I hold out hope that scratch cooking is not a thing of the past but fewer folks know how to scratch cook. I work with 4-H volunteers who shrink from leading a cooking (or sewing) club because they don’t have the skills. Whenever we offer after school cooking clubs, there are always, always waiting lists as the kids want to learn to cook. That’s why I’m hopeful. My mom cooked from scratch but I didn’t really learn to cook until I got married. It was a necessity. So I know that those skills can be learned by adults and taught to their kids.
    I think I know why cooking and sewing aren’t taught in schools anymore as it’s an expensive subject in these times of tight budgets but I can’t think of anything that would benefit every child more than ‘home keeping’ which includes budgeting, how to write a check, how to shop a grocery store to avoid the traps, insurance, and how to be prepared in an emergency just to name a few of the topics I learned in school. STEM subjects are intertwined with all of those skills and I finally got interested in cooking when I had a very smart Home Ec teacher who taught cooking and baking as science. So I’m hopeful that scratch cooking isn’t a thing of the past but know adults have to step up to turn around the trend. The costs are still there but schools have shifted the cost and responsibility to our government to solve the consequences of ignorance. Great post, Linda. This is a subject close to my heart.

    • Hi Debbie, oh wow, I wish teaching these skills would come back to the schools. You just gave me some more ideas I need to write about. You and I take these skills to heart because we were taught them in Home EC or as we went along. I grew up poor and didn’t realize I was poor. I had to learn to cook from scratch as a young child and I assumed everyone had these basic skills of cooking, budgeting, home keeping, insurance, etc. Debbie, this comment is fabulous, I’m on it for another post! You rock! Linda

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