I love food: I love cooking it, eating it, reading about it and looking at it. I especially love food made in a home kitchen with the freshest ingredients possible. I grew up eating my Mom’s freshly baked bread and watching her make homemade pasta and canning her own preserves so I’ve always assumed that homemade food, made with the freshest ingredients is always better. However, with the recent addition of a new baby into my home, I have been operating lately on less time, energy, and money than I was previously used to and it’s made me wonder: Can you make food at home that uses more shortcuts without sacrificing flavor? This blog is basically my exploration of that question. In each entry, I will make one dish, two ways: 1. From scratch with the freshest ingredients possible 2. Using more shortcuts or pre-prepared ingredients. After trying the recipe both ways, I will compare the time and money that went into making each dish as well as the flavor and appearance of the final product. Then, you can decide for yourself: Make it fresh or make it fresher?
Below are some details about how I conduct each comparison and calculate the time, cost, and flavor for each dish.
Time: For the time component, I count up from the moment I start to prepare the dish to the time it is fully finished. This includes more “passive” tasks, like bread rising or refrigerating cookie dough, as well as the active part of cooking. I include all of this because it may influence one’s decision to buy store bought if a dish takes a long time to prepare, even if you’re not tending to it the whole time. The only time I do not include is the time it takes to buy ingredients and cleanup because the time it takes to do these tasks will vary so widely between people. This means that I do not include the time it takes to pick up store bought or takeout foods. Each individual will have to calculate that for themselves and decide if it’s worth it or not.
Cost: The cost of the ingredients I buy are based on a mid-range grocery store such of King Sooper’s or Safeway. I do not include tax in the cost. The only ingredients I do not include in the cost are salt and pepper because I figure that most people will already have those on hand. I found that the cost of spices varies enormously between stores and brands and is hard to calculate because you use so little of each one. Therefore, I count all spices (except salt and pepper) as 5 cents a teaspoon since I found this to be about the average price.
Taste: This is, naturally, the most subjective of all the categories as it is very influenced by my own personal tastes and those of my testers. My goal is to give you the most objective view possible of the dishes we taste and to include as many testers as possible in each comparison so you’re not just getting my personal opinion. However, I know that everyone has personal preferences that will weigh differently with them. I will try to give an accurate description of how each dish tastes, with the comments of others included, in order to help you decide if you would like it or not but ultimately you will have to take your own personal tastes into account.