10 Ingredients to Make From Scratch

Are you still using processed, pre-packed ingredients to make my "from-scratch" meals? Ditch them and make your own common ingredients from scratch!

Written by Erin Odom, Contributing Writer

When I first started cooking from scratch, it didn’t seem too hard. I gathered my ingredients and followed the recipes. But then one day it hit me: I wasn’t buying processed, pre-packaged meals anymore, but I was using processed, pre-packed ingredients to make my “from-scratch” meals. And these ingredients were just as additive-laden as any other store-bought meal. Yikes!

I decided right then and there that, little by little, I’d start learning how to make each ingredient at home. And although it is more time consuming than buying everything at the store, making your own food leaves a huge impact on both your health AND your pocketbook!

Without further ado, here are 10 easy ingredients I’ve learned to make from scratch. And I guarantee you can do this, too!

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

1. Creamed Soups

When we first married, my husband and I lived in the Deep Southern state of Mississippi. Creamed soup casseroles ruled the dinner tables, and I baked one almost every night! When I discovered that the canned creamed soups I had been buying were laden with MSG, soy and other additives, I decided they were one of the first things to go.

I started making my own cream of chicken soup, with slight variations for cream of mushroom and cream of celery. I was so glad to start making my creamy lemon pepper chicken again! It’s really quite easy to make up any creamed soup your recipe calls for!

2. Applesauce

When I think of applesauce, I think of pure, apple-y goodness. But most store brands contain high fructose corn syrup as a main ingredient, and the brands that don’t are far too pricey for my family’s budget. Not only do my girls enjoy eating applesauce by itself, but I use it in many baked goods, like Intentional by Grace’s Unbelievable Chocolate Applesauce Bars!

Making it at home won’t only better serve your health and budget, but you’ll also enjoy the sweet smell of warm apples wafting through your house! There are many methods to make it, but I use my crock pot!

3. Salsa

Although I’ve been making salsa off and on for several years, I have mostly bought it in clear jars at the store. All the chopping of onions and tomatoes and peppers seemed to take too long for my taste when I needed it for a recipe like enchiladas or chicken tortilla soup. Then, recently, I discovered Stacy’s pantry salsa from Stacy Makes Cents. Yes, it does use canned tomatoes, but sometimes we have to compromise. This method is quick, easy and oh-so-yummy!

Pantry Salsa

Image used with permission by Stacy Makes Cents

4. Spice Mixes

Spice mixes can get very pricey, and they are so easy to make from home! All it usually takes it combining a few single spices, and you’re ready to go!

I make my own taco seasoning, pumpkin pie spice and garlic salt (just 3 parts salt to 1 part garlic powder!). When I get really brave, I want to try my hand at homemade lemon pepper! I store my spice mixes in repurposed baby food jars, making it easy for dipping in the different-sized measuring spoons.

5. Pie Crust

OK, I will admit. I don’t make pies often. Actually, I only make them around the holidays, and this past Thanksgiving was the first time I tried my hand at a homemade pie crust. (It had scared me for years!) Don’t be afraid to try this yourself. Diana from A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa makes it so easy with her tutorial!

6. Pasta Sauce

This is a really easy one. I make a very simple pasta sauce with just tomatoes, garlic and a few spices in my crock pot. You can really make it as elaborate or basic as you prefer.

Chicken Broth

Image used with permission by Christian Mommy Blogger

7. Chicken Broth

You will not find a cheaper chicken broth anywhere… than in your own kitchen! I make mine in the crock pot, using bones I’ve salvaged from cooking whole chickens in the crock pot. After it cooks, I store my broth in glass jars in the freezer, leaving a little space at the top for expansion.

**Stephanie’s note: You won’t find a healthier chicken broth anywhere, either!

8. Bread Crumbs

From my hubby’s favorite “Almost”-Fried Chicken Tenders to my mom’s Cheesy Green Bean Casserole, I use bread crumbs fairly frequently. But, for a time, I stopped making my bread crumb dishes when I discovered the crumbs from the store contained some pretty nasty additives. I couldn’t believe how incredibly easy they are to make yourself! I will never, ever go back to bread crumbs from the store!

Homemade Bread Crumbs

9. Crescent Rolls

When my husband and I first married, one of his favorite desserts was apple dumplings. I used a basic recipe that used refrigerated crescent rolls, apples…and, get this, Mountain Dew!

When it hit me how unhealthy these were, I literally went years without making them.Then, one day, I decided to conquer my fears and try to make homemade crescent rolls–just to be able to make these apple dumplings again!They were a success on my very first try, and I even tweaked the dumpling recipe to make them with orange juice instead of the soft drink!

10. Powdered Sugar (sucanat)

When I started trading my refined white sugar for healthier sweeteners like honey and sucanat, I realized that I didn’t have an alternative for powdered sugar to make cake frostings and other desserts. Stephanie’s recipe for homemade powdered sucanat was such a relief! And it can’t be any easier. All you have to do is use your blender to grind the sweetener into a fine powder!

This list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all kind of ingredients you can make at home. I have a long list of ingredients I still want to try–like homemade vanilla, homemade yogurt and homemade nut butter.

What are some homemade ingredients that you make from scratch?

Top photo by Bill Holsinger-Robinson

10 Ingredients to Make From Scratch

About Erin O

Erin is a follower of Jesus, wife to Will and mommy to three little redheaded girls (born in 2008, 2010 and 2012). She is a life-long, professional dreamer and recovering overwhelmed homemaker. Her mission is to encourage, educate and empower her readers at The Humbled Homemaker to live a grace-filled, natural life. She is the author of a 200+-page eBook all about cloth diapering-- Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert: A Simple, Comprehensive Guide to Using Cloth Diapers.

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  1. Love this post, thanks! I make homemade ranch dressing, meat rubs, crackers, protein bars, pizza sauce and crust – yum!

    • Thanks, Bek! I have yet to make homemade crackers…it’s on my “list,” but my girls are now gluten free, so I’m going to have to figure out a good GF cracker recipe! Someone on down in the comments mentioned she hasn’t been able to make a good Ranch dressing yet. Maybe you can give her your recipe?

  2. Janelle Tyler says:

    I make my own ketchup, cream soups, broths, pasta sauces, ranch dressing, spice mixes, and purpose to find recipes with natural ingredients not canned or packaged. The ranch dressing recipe from AllRecipes is great! I did have to run it through the blender for my kids to smooth out the consistency. But so far my family doesn’t hardly notice the difference! It is extra work and takes a little more planning but I think it’s worth it and it does save money! I also make my own cleaners, detergents, shaving cream, soaps, etc. My latest endeavor is trying to phase out using the microwave. I had no idea how bad it was for you, but of course when you stop and think about it, it’s no surprise.

  3. Katie Peters says:

    Thanks for the list! Necessity (none in the cupboard) forced me to learn home-made cream of chicken soup, and now that I do that, I’ve never bought a can since. It’s so much better and hardly takes any time! Same with pie crust.

    Applesauce… I tried that once and never will again. After hours and hours and HOURS in my kitchen, I wound up with a few jars of not-so-good applesauce that I could have bought for less than $10.00 My time is worth more than $2/hour! And yes, I can buy unsweetened, natural applesauce with no ingredients other than apples and citric acid at every grocery store around here (tiny down, mid-OH). Even Save-a-Lot around the corner has jars for under $1.50. The store brands have their own, and it’s the same price as the corn-syrup stuff (which I NEVER buy).

    Salsa, I make in the fall from my garden and can it. On that, several hours worth of work results in $80 worth of salsa. (I used Annie’s salsa…recipe online…which is safety-approved for canning… otherwise salsa can be dangerous to can.)

    Gotta try the mayo and BBQ that some of you mentioned… I don’t like the corn syrup in that, though we don’t eat much. And the bread crumbs.

    Chicken broth, now… I have tried this a number of times, and I can’t seem to wind up with a good end result! And everyone says it’s so easy! I’ve followed video tutorials and everything. Maybe one day I’ll get it.

    • I’m curious about how you made your applesauce that it took so long??

      All I do is cut the apples into quarters and core them (don’t peel), then toss into a large pot with an inch or so of water. Let cook until soft – about 20 minutes. Scoop into a food mill (mine is a foley food mill, I believe) and turn the handle (the kids can do this). It only takes *maybe* 10 minutes to process it.

      In 30 minutes tops, I have a good size batch of apple sauce cooling to go in the freezer.

      I lucked out recently and bought 36 lbs of apples for $10 at our local farmers market… Made lots of apple sauce that week!

  4. Mayonaise! (With Sunflower oil) That is my new from scratch ingredient and there is NO COMPARISON to the store bought garbage. Really, it is not that hard once I stopped being intimidated by it. And the bonus is that my daughters will grow up knowing how easy and rewarding it is just to do it yourself. It will be their way of life. That makes it even more worth it for me.

  5. As a mother with 4 children who all have at least 1 food allergy apiece I have HAD to learn how to make things from scratch just to avoid all the chemicals and triggers in a lot of food and sauces. I make everything from yogurt, and pasta, bread and tortillas, ketchup, BBQ sauce, marshmallows, salsa, breakfast cereal and granola, we make tooth paste and soap from scratch too, I am a huge fan of crock-pot cooking, just about anything my kids can come up with we will at least attempt to make.
    It hasn’t been easy, but it is so worth it. My husband and I have struggled with our weight for years. And eating pretty much all homemade food our blood sugars have evened out, our cholesterol levels have dropped and we are both down a few pants sizes.

  6. This was a great list. Though I do a few of these already, it was great to see a variety of ways to do them, and to find a few new tips is always welcome. We make homemade yogurt and ice cream, vanilla (which is super easy!) and of course, during tomato season we do salsa, sauces, tomato soup and just plain canned tomatoes. Also, apple sauce and a variety of other fruit sauces and fruit roll ups for the kids. I find that it is all about the preparation. Thanks!

  7. Brittany E says:

    Thank you! I grew up with a wise mama who taught me how to make everything from scratch. I couldn’t believe how many recipes I’ve received from my “healthy” friends that have “a can of this” or “a package of that”. So, thank you for posting this. I have had many friends ask me what I make from scratch and how-to make it. This will be an excellent resource.

    Note on Salsa… My husband goes through a quart or two a week. I stock up on Bionatura tomatoes when they’re on sale(bpa-free) and every so often we splurge on Pomi Tomatoes(chopped tomatoes in a cardboard type container) and we plant LOTS of tomatoes and freeze/can them. If you can’t plant tomatoes stock up at the Farmers Market in the summer.

    For my husbands breakfasts I’ve been making homemade english muffins w/cheese, bacon/ham and eggs(Mix up about 9 eggs with a little cream, salt, pepper, any fresh herbs you have and bake in a greased jumbo muffin tin at 350 until almost set). Wrap up them up in plastic wrap and freeze. I stick one in the fridge every night and in the morning he sticks it in the toaster oven first thing at 250. He wraps it in a napkin and eats it on his way to work. For lunches I make a lot of “pocket-type” things… Empanadas, Calzones, Knishes, ect… For snacks we’ve fallen in love with toasted seaweed which is super easy(google it) and very nutritious. My husband hated seaweed until he tried this. I’ll also make popcorn and bag it for lunches/snacks. Granola Bars and homemade flavored yogurt(I just blend homemade yogurt with honey and fruit) are also good lunchbox fillers.

    And to open another subject… Beverages…My family has always made their own beer/wine/liquors and going into vinegars. We make our own Water and Milk Kefir, Whey-based drinks, smoothies from raw milk….Lemonades, Juices… Who needs soda?

    Also, we buy ground pork from local farmers and make our own sausage. We love to go backpacking, so I make meals and dehydrate them… Once you start making things from scratch it’s almost addicting to see what else you can make from scratch! So, I won’t even go into non-food items:D

    It’s daunting to think of making everything from scratch, but if you’re beginning I always tell people to “google it”

    Thanks again for this article!

  8. Thanks for sharing all these from scratch ingredients. Especially the creamed soup. I can relate to the creamed soup casseroles since I still live in Mississippi.

  9. MOM24BOYS says:

    I have made just about everything from scratch at one time or another (only a slight exaggeration). Mostly, this was out of necessity. Over the last 29 years our fortunes have been more down than up and our budget dictated more economical methods. Interesting to think that we probably ate healthier when we were poorer…

    As more information has been published on healthier eating (such as Nourishing Traditions) I have kept at making most of our ingredients truly from scratch. The one thing I don’t do is really very silly… I don’t make my own Cream of ___ soups. This will have to be remedied.

  10. Great list! I do all of these things, except the apple sauce. I do make applesauce during apple season b/c the apples are really cheap then, but the rest of the year, I find jarred applesauce to be cheaper. I just buy the all natural brands with no added sugars or preservatives. OH, and I haven’t tried homemade powdered sugar yet, because i didn’t have a strong enough blender/food processor until recently, so we just did without except for birthday cakes. I’m excited to try making my own now!

  11. From your list, I make salsa, applesauce, and broth from scratch. I also make tomato based sauces from scratch–although we don’t use them on pasta. I have done some of my own spice mixes, but not all of them. I definitely could improve in that area. The rest of the things you listed I don’t use in the first place.

    Other things I make from scratch include: mayo, salad dressings, bbq sauce, and kombucha. Generally speaking we don’t do grains–especially wheat–but on the rare occasions we do have bread, I make that from scratch, as well.

    As far as canned tomatoes are concerned, as of October 2011 Muir Glen canned tomatoes are BPA-free (and they are organic, as well).

  12. Thanks for all the great ideas! We have been making chicken broth for awhile now but haven’t come up with a good way to store it in the freezer. What kind of jars do you use?

    • Hi Angie! I use canning jars or old jars from pasta sauce, peanut butter, etc. that I’ve bought at the store. I leave a little room at the top for expansion. It’s worked out great for us so far!

  13. Stephanie L says:

    I love this post! I have been making things from scratch for the last month and I love it. Currenty, I make our pasta noodles, soups, breads, tortillas, dressings, granola bars, muffins, taco shells, pie crusts and spice mixes. But, the salsa looks awesome, as does the powdered sugar! And I am just about out of my jar of chicken broth stuff, so that is going to happen next. Thanks so much for sharing all this!

  14. I make my own vanilla extract (just soak vanilla beans in some vodka or brandy) to avoid imitation extracts..
    I also make my own chai tea concentrate to avoid the $5/boxed tea flavored sugar water.
    And I’ve made homemade mascarpone cheese which, storebought, retails for about $11/pound.

    Once you get in the habit, you just do it without even thinking about it. Great post!

  15. Jennifer says:

    I make just about everything from scratch. We have found that it is just as good (if not better) and sometimes easier than buying from the store. The only thing that I haven’t really found a solution for…Triscuits. My husband LOVES them. I have made numerous other crackers and he will still ask where the Triscuits are. Gotta love him!

  16. Jennifer says:

    I’m looking forward to trying out the creamed soup recipe – I’ve tried another, but wasn’t too happy with it – the consistency just wasn’t the same as the canned for recipes. I’m curious – what is the problem with canned tomatoes? I don’t think mine contain any “other” ingredients – and also, my pasta sauces in jars also don’t list any “bad” ingredients…??
    Thanks for the great ideas!

    • I hope you like the soup, Jennifer! I use it in any recipe that calls for canned creamed soups! Just make sure you stir it on the stovetop until it starts to thicken. (But watch, so it doesn’t burn.)

      I feel fresh is always best, but the only semi-controversial thing about canned tomatoes would be BPA in the cans. But if you can your own (I have not yet branched into canning…but Stephanie is a pro!) there should be no problem at all!

      Pasta sauces are probably one of the safer items you can buy at the store, but most of them do contain either soybean or canola oil (or both!), which are both two major GMO crops in the U.S. I try to avoid GMOs. A lot of the jarred sauces also contain white sugar. I do still buy jarred pasta sauce in a pinch (which has been more often during my pregnancy!), but I look for brands that don’t contain these items, but they do tend to be quite a bit pricier in my area.

      Thanks for visiting! :)

      • I’m looking forward to growing our own tomatoes this year, since that’s the one canned item I still consistently purchase. Gonna have to try the homemade pasta sauce…

        I could be wrong, but doesn’t the purchase of organic label pasta sauce negate the possibility of GMOs?

  17. I love using my own ingredients. It’s amazing how shopping becomes so easy when you cut down on the aisles you peruse and how the pantry is less cluttered.

    I make my own almond butter and yogourt. So easy and so good.

  18. What a great list! I try to make everything from scratch…if you have these basic ingredients on hand, then making from scratch is even healthier (and truly more “from scratch”!) Thanks for sharing (and linking!) Erin!

    • I have so much to learn from you, Nikki! You are a “from-scratch” Rock Star!! Love your slow cooker chicken…it makes the chicken much more moist than some other methods I’ve tried (now…if only raw chicken didn’t make me yack during pregnancy! haha!).

  19. I’m super excited about this. I am getting more and more into making things from scratch so it’s nice to have a little guide! Thank you!

  20. I just made a red sauce yesterday and it got me excited to throw a few new recipes into the mix. Can’t wait to try them!

  21. Hi, would love to get this e-book! :) Having a problem though, every time I click to buy, I get a “this combination doesn’t exist message” from e-junkie. Thanks for your help!

  22. I’ve made that apple dumpling recipe myself. Twice. And then banned it from my kitchen LOL! But it would be nice to make it again, but healthier. You’ve got a few I haven’t tried, but most of what you listed I have (and currently do). That makes me excited! Thanks for sharing.

  23. JennErin@Moody says:

    I love this! My pantry has almost no pre-made sauces or spice mixes. Execpt for that blasted ranch dressing I always seem to have at least one dinner guest that turns their nose up at a home made vinegar and oil dressing.

    My in-laws come over and look for something to eat and tell me that there isn’t any food and I point out that there is! Healthy home made granola bars and fresh popcorn. Still after almost 7 years they are turned off by it and bring their own snacks along.

    Like what others have said, it doesn’t take that much longer to cook from scratch than out of a box. Hey if my Husband can make scratch Macaroni Cheese it must be possible.

  24. This post is perfect timing for me! I have been doing a great job making things from scratch, but the last few weeks when I had to buy several bottled sauces for my “from scratch” recipes I realized the same thing – I’m still using processed foods! Right now my goal is to try my hand at one or two new sauces or salad dressings a wekk, as I learn how to make them. So far, so good! It would be way too overwhelming to go completely scratch right now, I’m finding that making sauces is a lot harder when you have no idea what you’re actually doing. :) However, I know that in a couple of months, I will be much more comfortable with this!

  25. I regularly make bread, salsa, spaghetti/pizza sauce, pizza crust, granola, soups and meals from scratch. On occasion I will also make yogurt, hummus, pita, noodles and things like that. It really doesn’t take a lot of extra effort to do ‘from scratch’ once you the hand of it.


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  12. […] Erin says, ” When I first started cooking from scratch, it didn’t seem too hard. I gathered my ingredients and followed the recipes. But then one day it hit me: I wasn’t buying processed, pre-packaged meals anymore, but I was using processed, pre-packed ingredients to make my ‘from-scratch’ meals [emphasis hers].”  …Yeeeeaaaah. I can relate to that. I’ll probably keep relying on convenience foods ingredients a lot of the time, but I’m totally going to try some of her easy from-scratch ingredients! First up: creamed soups and spice mixes. (I already make homemade chicken broth; I’ll do a post on that soon) Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Tagged links […]