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. Great post! I really needed the one for cream of condensed soups! I don’t make casseroles very often for that very reason, and now… I’m thinking a chicken broccoli cheese casserole is in the works soon! The main processed ingredient I’m still using is canned tomatoes (sigh) but I have a lovely big garden with 5 heirloom varieties this year, so I’m going to try my hand at it!

    I make my own kombucha, cashew pesto, jams and jellies, sauerkraut, hot sauce, mayonnaise/meatonnaise, hummus, broths and bouillon, salad dressings, toffee and caramel, marshmallows, and my new favorite – homemade yogurt! It’s the healthiest, yummiest yogurt I’ve ever had, and it was ridiculously easy.

  2. When tomatoes go on sale, or when my friends share a bumper crop from their gardens (free!!); I will slow roast batches of them. I then freeze them for use in place of canned tomatoes.

    Set your oven to 275, halve your tomatoes, toss in some olive oil, then put them flat side up on a cookie sheet. Roast for one hour, then take them out and flip them to cut side down, remove the skins (should be loose due to the roasting process) and pop back into the oven for another hour, double bag in freezer bags, and freeze.

    You can even pre-flavor your tomatoes. I like to toss tomato halves in a basil infused olive oil and pressed garlic then roast for an Italian flavor.

  3. Love this list and I hope to try some of them soon!
    Except the applesauce….there’s no way under the sun that making homemade applesauce could be even remotely cheaper!! Especially once you count in the time. I guess I always do my grocery shopping in the same place…so maybe I’m wrong in thinking there is plain applesauce (meaning: nothing added to the apples) available everywhere. But I’ve certainly found it when I’ve looked, in the generic brand too.

  4. Michelle says:

    There are many things at the 99 cent store that AREN’T good for you. But, I always bulk up on the individual portions of applesauce. No sugar, no high fructose corn syrup. They’re in the same section as the “bad” kind, but look for the added burst “au naturel”. I like making applesauce, but when it comes down to it, I also like to have the pantry stocked w/some ready-to-go items as well. They’re 99.99 cents for 4, not bad.

  5. Oh I love your tip on powdered sugar….I have been wanting an alternative to this for ages now. Thank you!

  6. Terrific post, Erin! Really excellent! We too make these things from scratch and then “scratch” our heads wondering why we ever bought, for example, bread crumbs or taco seasoning! :) I mean, seriously, we paid money for crumbs?!!!

    We’re waiting with baited breath for a recipe for your apple dumplings. I never heard of making them with crescents. We use pie crust. Yours sound delicious!

    Readers, do try her crockpot applesauce! It’s excellent and couldn’t be simpler!

  7. These are terrific. I’ve been looking for similar things. Hope to see more of this sort of thing in the future. Can’t tell you how happy this makes me.

  8. i make almost everything from scratch! i do use canned tomatoes in the off season though – haven’t had a big enough harvest from my small backyard garden to can my own yet.

    i haven’t tried the homemade powdered sugar yet, but now you have me all inspired! i hate that i have the real powdered sugar in my cupboard, but i didn’t know what else to do!

  9. Aside from being cost efficient, I find cooking very fulfilling. I am impressed with your food selection. I can imagine how fun it was making each one. I am grateful or the list as well, now I have a lot of recipes to practice on.

  10. Cultured buttermilk, sour cream, quark. Sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, breads and dinner rolls, salsa, spaghetti sauce, pizza crust, soups …

    A little girl who was with me today said that she had never seen things I am making (I was making sauerkraut).

  11. I love making things from scratch!! I think the only thing I haven’t attempted on that list is crescent rolls, but pie crust usually works for those recipes that I might have used them for in the past. Nobody mentioned pepperoni, so I thought I share a link for that: http://tammysrecipes.com/tammys_spicy_pepperoni I double this recipe, cool it, slice it, and store it in the freezer. It last us a few months that way. Someday I’ll work up the courage to try to make cheese and then my pizza will be completely home made!!

  12. I haven’t made a successful salsa yet, but I’ll give the recipe you linked to a try. Wish me luck!

  13. Yep! I love my homemade chicken broth, applesauce, and salsa. Good list!

  14. elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for this! Just the other day I told my husband I am not going to buy anything boxed or canned if I can make it on my own. I wanted to make chicken and dumplings tomorrow but dreaded opening cream of mushroom soup! I was so happy to find this post in my email this morning! Thank you so much for all you post!! It has been a blessing to my family!!

  15. You inspired me to compile a list of my go-to recipes. Here you go :)

  16. This is so timely…I’ve been slowly replacing store-bought with not only home-made but homegrown. Today I needed a packet of Ranch Dressing mix for a soup I was making and finally looked up a recipe…it was so easy! The cool thing is I was able to use parsley and dill grown in my garden last summer.

    So far I make my own jam, Maple Syrup, chicken stock, applesauce, italian seasoning, sweet potato fries seasoning, hot cocoa, chocolate syrup, ketchup, pickles, elderberry syrup, chapstick, cough syrup, winter chest rub and probably a few others I can’t remember right now.

    I’ve really been enjoying learning to make things with ingredients I know, and am looking forward to trying your cream soups…there’s a few of those old favorite recipes out there that could make their way back to our dinner table now.

  17. ps. when making your own salsa – try tomatillos!!! Nothing says awesome like some homemade salsa verde!!! :)

  18. I just recently started making salsa from scratch and we like it better than store bought! I’ve been using the Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe and we all love it.

  19. I was a stay at home mom, surviving on one income through the years. My mom made most things from scratch and had always inspired me to do the same. I would add more and more things through the years and now basically make everything I can from scratch. From mayo and hot pepper mustard, sauces, including bbq, guacamole, sorbets, fruit ice milk, pastry doughs, spice mixes, granolas and granola bars, biscotti, donuts, breads and pasta’s both regular and gluten free, homemade raviolio, pirogies, pizza doughs both regular and gluten free, salad dressings, we grow an 8000 sq ft garden, we try to grow all of our veggies and herbs, what we can’t grow we buy from local Amish to can or freeze to preserve through the winter. I have made my own relishes for many years now. I make a variety of pickles including pickled veggies like dilly beans, cauliflower carrot mix, banana peppers, etc. I can tomatoes in a variety of ways including V8 juice. I make all our soups from home grown potatoes, creamy tomato, asparagus, cushaw/butternut, etc. I love baking breads and am experimenting more and more with gluten free breads. This fall we will try a hand at sauerkraut. We like to make our own beer, wine, liquors as well. I just made vanilla for xmas gifts. I believe that we must try to make as much as one can, there are too many recalls, too many pesticides and chemicals being used on our foods these days. If you can’t grow a garden because of location, space or such, containers work well, or try to purchase from a local farmers market, freeze it, can it or dry it and make it yourself. A great way to make homemade applesauce I like to peel them, cut them, remove seeds, and put them in my big roaster with just a tad of water, bake them with lid on medium oven for a couple hours. You know they are done when they are easy to mash with a potato masher. If you are not a canner, then let them cool, and freeze in freeze quality zip loc bags. :)

  20. Nearly every brand of applesauce in the US makes a no sugar added variety, including store brands. If you are wanting organic etc… or have an apple surplus it might be cheaper to make your own. I’m not sure because I have never run the numbers. Applesauce is a “time is money” one for me.

    If you have access to a warehouse store (costco/sams) the real vanilla extract is pretty cheap there.

    • I prefer organic when it comes to apples since they are #1 on the dirty dozen list, but I will have to check out the no-sugar brands for when I’m in a pinch! Thanks, Sara! :)

      I get my real vanilla now at BJ’s–very similar to Sam’s!

  21. I make my own cream soups (yes, they are easy!), chicken broth, spice mixes, and pasta sauce. I have tried pie crusts, but haven’t conquered them yet. I’m going to check out the crescent roll recipe for sure; I’d love to be able to make those myself!

    • I hope you like the crescent rolls…and try out Diana’s pie crust (the one I linked to in the words “Pie Crust”). Her tutorial made it way easier than I ever imagined!

      • Love this post! I already make some of these myself, but you’ve inspired me to try making my own seasonings and creamed soups. You’re right, cream of mush. soup is a staple here in the south!

        I’ve definitely done homemade applesauce before, when I was making babyfood for my first child (I did Baby-Led Weaning with the second), but it really is not cost effective, at least with the cost of apples here. And if you’re using organic apples, then it gets even more pricey. But Sara is right about the jarred stuff without sugar. Even buying organic, it’s cheaper and just as healthy to buy the sugar free apple sauce at the store, and a quick glance at the ingredients shows you’re making a smart purchase.

        For me, the best source of real vanilla is to either go on a mission trip south of the border, or get someone to bring it back for you. My real vanilla is made at an orphanage in Honduras, and all the money goes right back to the orphanage or their local outreach ministry.

  22. Mayonaise, ketchup, chicken stock, yogurt, pie crust, flavored oatmeal “packets” (ziploc sandwich bag) for camping trip, …I’m willing to try and cook anything. And if I do use something like canned tomatoes, or salsa, I will READ the ingredients. If it contains sugar or HFCS or MSG…or any sort of starch, it stays at the store.

  23. I’ve made homemade applesauce when we’ve gotten them for $16 a bushel. I only core and slice them (I don’t peel them) and then cook them in a pot with a little water, sometimes a little sweetener if the apples aren’t that sweet. I stew them until they are soft. Then you can use a food mill to finish off the skins. Then I freeze it. Delicious! and easy.
    I also make our own brown sugar if we’ve run out. Mix molasses and organic sugar.
    I’m allergic to corn so I’ve been doing things from scratch for a while. Kind of a beneficial allergy when you think of it.

    • I think applesauce is easy, too! My daughter is intolerant (actually, I think they both are…but just my oldest was tested) to wheat, rye, barley, egg and dairy, so this past year I’ve definitely had to make more at home out of necessity!

  24. Interesting topic. Some of these I make, some I don’t. But I have found that around here, while it is healthier, it is often not cheaper to make your version of a lot of these things. As another person mentioned, I can buy natural applesauce for a lot cheaper than I can make it. Same for salsa – I can buy organic salsa at Costco for cheaper than I could buy organic tomatoes and make it.

    • It is very true that price varies….and time is money, as they say! :)

      • It really is most economical to grow your own tomatoes, and so easy. We live on a 4 acre homestead now that my husband is retired from the Navy, But even when we lived in Gov. Quarters I would grow tomatoes, cukes and peppers in with my flowers in the front flower beds or in containers on the back patio. We buy very little from the store these days, Thank you for all the make at home Idea’s. I make everything we eat now and these idea’s give us more options.

  25. I,too, make my own pasta sauce – always have on that even before I went to whole food eating. Now I also make my own mayo from olive oil and coconut oil or walnut oil (recipe on my blog) and I press my own garlic and grate my own ginger instead of using dry powders (although I do keep some for back up.) I’m looking for mixes for making my own salad dressings. I currently do make my own, but it would be nice to have mixes made up to just add to the oil and vinegar.