Then, of course, there’s the other side of the coin. Things that we often buy to use, which actually are better home-made but are just too much trouble to make all the time, or which require a level of skill which one may not have.
In my case, the first among these is pastry. I almost always buy it – quite forgivable with puff pastry, I think, but I buy short crust too. Simply, it is one of my more puzzling failures as a cook. I’ve tried every way recommended, and it’s never very good. The best is if I make it in the food processor and don’t actually touch it with my hands at all until it’s rolled out – but it’s still not as good as other people’s, and it’s all pretty messy. In fact, I’d usually make a scone or crumble topping and avoid the pastry issue altogether.
Something that is better home made is mayonnaise – but how many of us always have a jar of bought in the fridge? I certainly do, though I will sometimes make mayo for a nice meal – won’t bother if it’s to dip chips in, though. Chips as in french fries, that is. Not potato chips, ie crisps. Although, of course, chips are made of potato.
Tins of beans (plain haricot, blackeye, kidney etc) and chickpeas – they aren’t even hard to do, one just has to start them off the day before and then actually cook them. And fresh are better than tinned. But I often get out a tin.
Orange juice. Freshly squeezed is far, far better. But the supermarkets sell an awful lot of tetrapaks – and there’s one in my fridge right now.
Yoghurt. This is no longer the 1960s, which was the last time I made yoghurt.
Muesli. Now, why does anyone buy it? It doesn’t take long to make your own, enough for weeks at a time, and you can get the proportions you like. But I don’t.
Biscuits or cookies. Home made are far better, far cheaper and not that much trouble. And I did make flapjacks yesterday – but generally, I’m likely to buy biscuits, especially savoury ones. British flapjacks are not the same thing as American ones, by the way. You melt sugar, butter and golden syrup and stir in rolled oats, then put in a tin and bake, then cut into slices. I can’t remember what American flapjacks are.
Bread. Time was, I used to make all my own bread, but that was a long time ago.
Mustard. I have several jars of different ready-made mustards, though I do like fresh mustard made from mustard powder (especially with roast beef), but it never all gets used and goes rock-hard in the mustard pot and has to be repeatedly soaked out. So I only make it occasionally. Interestingly, Martina reckons that mustard is better bought than made.
I’d have reckoned that I make most dishes from scratch, but now I look at this lot (tip of the iceberg, I’m sure), I realise that I could do an awful lot more. I also realise that I’m not going to.
Again, comments (or admissions) will be added to the post.
Frozen roast potato (for one, he points out) Dave
The best French mustard – Sarah
Bread sauce – Jane Goth (I only ever made bread sauce to go with the Christmas turkey, but we haven’t had turkey for years, so I haven’t made bread sauce).
Rice pudding – Martina, who says it’s better than the pudding she makes, and cheaper. I think there must be more to rice pudding in the US than there is here, as it’s just rice, sugar and milk, with nutmeg, cinnamon or whatever you like to flavour.