I’ve said it before, I like to cook because I love to EAT.

And because more often than not, I am highly disappointed in what I get for my money when we go out to eat (or when someone around here buys something prepackaged).  $12 salads using $1 Iceberg lettuce, add guacamole or plain avocado to anything for no less than an EXTRA $6 (when I can buy an avocado on sale for $0.33 each, $0.59 otherwise), bacon for an EXTRA $2, and if I want meat or seafood… FORGET IT!  I might as well just go grocery shopping.

So most of the time when we go out, although I make sure to enjoy my meal (I paid for it after all), I am always trying to dissect my meal.  I usually think I can make ANYthing at home for a much cheaper price AND personalize it to my and my family’s tastes.

The only exceptions are Sushi, Tartare, Carpaccio, or anything raw (or nearly raw) – gotta leave that to the professionals.  Oh… and lasagna, I don’t do lasagna (it’s just too much)!

Here are 7 things that I never buy prepackaged (although others in my family might because I don’t usually take orders or special requests):

  1. Condiments (i.e. salsa, guacamole, hummus, salad dressing, dip of any kind (except maybe french onion))
  2. Spice blends (i.e. creole seasoning, seasoned salt, Mrs. Dash, etc.)
  3. Soup (of any kind, except broth or stock in a pinch and maybe french onion)
  4. Sauce (of any kind, except plain tomato in a pinch)
  5. Packaged baked goods (i.e. cookies, cake mix (or icing), biscuits, pancake mix)
  6. Frozen dinners (or breakfasts) of any kind
  7. Appetizer type food (i.e. hot wings, party trays, etc.)

All of these items are cheap and easy to make, and take less time than you’d think.  Plus, you control the ingredients, the flavor intensity, the amount made – you control EVERYthing (not that I am a control freak or anything).  

So rather than spending a mint buying things like cookies, hummus, and Alfredo sauce, just be sure to keep staples stocked and you can have any of these things anytime for next to nothing.  And even put your own spin on them by experimenting with different flavors, spices and ingredient ratios.  LOVE. FOOD.

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