|Made from scratch|
|Pesto made from scratch and frozen|
|Muffin courtesy of Amy Dacyczyn|
If I want soup very quickly, I take whatever frozen vegetables I want to have in it, some beans that I've canned (or beans that are ready to cook), some stock and whatever herbs and spices I want to include in the soup, and cook them in a soup pot. Or I take yellow split peas, add stock, a bit of garlic, and a teaspoon of celery seed. Or I creatively use leftovers--the 40 clove of garlic chicken I made translated to a fantastic yellow-split pea soup, albeit very garlicky. I'll use the leftovers from a roast chicken, some frozen spinach, a couple of sliced fresh carrots (or frozen sliced carrots), celery, and rice to make chicken soup.
Tomato sauce is one of the easiest things to make from scratch. You do not need home canned tomatoes (though they make a lovely sauce). You do not need fresh tomatoes. Those are nice, but they add a lot of work. All I do is take a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes and add them to a bunch of garlic and some onion I've sauteed in olive oil. I cook that over medium heat for about 20 minutes. I'll add whatever herbs are appropriate--oregano if I'm making a pizza sauce, basil (either dried or fresh or fresh/frozen, or a pesto cube) if I am making a pasta sauce. That's really it. You can add whatever you want, but the basic ingredients are crushed tomatoes and olive oil. I like it better than the jarred sauces out there.
There are exceptions that I make, or there are things I have on hand just in case:
Boxed mac and cheese. Oh, my love affair with boxed mac and cheese. (Especially shells and cheese, which the companies are phasing out. WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT??)
|Scratch cooking. 20 minutes.|
Stock. I have used up my homemade chicken stock and I don't see myself roasting a chicken anytime soon, so I bought some boxes of chicken stock (and vegetable stock). Over the summer with all of the vegetables I get from my CSA, I'll be using those ends to make my own vegetable stock, but the store bought stuff is quite good and serves its purpose for now.
Chances are, you do a lot of scratch cooking and don't even realize it. If you can, give some basic recipes a whirl if there are things you buy that you could make from scratch, and see if they're easier/tastier/less expensive. It's nice to know that if you don't have jarred sauce you can still have pasta, or that if you don't have a box mix you can still make cornbread.