Make it or buy it: a guide to what products or sauces to make and what others to buy

Jan 9, 2019 | Lessons | 0 comments

we live in an era of abundance and there is almost everything that you can ever need in a supermarket – or can it?

I was wondering around a REWE (a German supermarket chain) the other day and felt like getting a whole chicken, so I can roast the way I like it. Turned my head, there were rotisserie chickens ready and warm on the counter. In terms of pricing, there is a 1 euro difference (4 something to 5.50 for the cooked chicken) but the advantage that you get, from working in a small kitchen (or any big kitchen is immense) 

Starting from the worst– cleaning a chicken. I have absolutely no issues with marinating and cooking it – but cleaning is just a royal pain in the bottom. You get chicken juices all around, and you clean it with a kitchen rag, which can not be used for anything else afterwards – just a pain.

There are a lot of schools of thought on regard to this issue – and I am not saying that the store bought rotisserie chicken is better than your own special blend of spices and buttery goodness, but sometimes it has to be a middle way.

contents

  • fresh vs canned
  • pre-made dinners
  • bread
  • butter
  • tomato sauce
  • granola bars
  • dressing
  • meat
  • others

here are my rules:

Fresh vs canned veggies

Starting from the pretty easy ones, between fresh and canned carrots, I do not need to tell you what is the best one to choose, or do I? As a general rule, unless it is specified otherwise, please choose fresh (except beans – life is much easier with canned beans)

Pre-made Dinners

(or Ready to go dinner in a box solutions) vs cooking them yourself

I absolutely hate pre-made dinners. No matter how good they can be! Even if you are a broke college student and you want something warm, for 3.99 eur, you can buy rice and sausage and there you go.

There are plenty of easy solutions out there, so a simple google search would do you just wonders – or even recipes in this site.

Bread

A lot of people recommend making bread by yourself, and to be honest, once you get a hang of the recipes and figuring out what is the combination that you like, you should – but bread making requires a bigger kitchen than a “kitchenette”. In addition it requires a bunch of tools (like a bread maker) to make your life easier. In terms of an investment, if you are the bread consumer, would highly recommend it as in te long run it is quite cheaper.

For example, if you are fancy, get the Panasonic Bread Maker which will set you back about 170 EUR. There are cheaper alternatives like the Russel Hobbs Multi-cooker which is around 80 EUR.

If you are like me, that likes bread every now and then, then do not bother with these stuff, just locate the nearest bakery and get something.

Butter

I remember when I was young my dad would make our own butter at home, but conditions allowed it, and getting proper good store bought butter was not an option. Now that is out of question and it is pointless to deal with your own butter.

Tomato Sauce

If you are comfortable making it on the fly and the sauce requires a simpler taste, just chop a bunch of tomatoes and go for it, else do not bother as the mess and convenience does not justify the effort. Sure it may taste better up to a point, but only if the sauce is the main ingredient (say you are making some penne with tomatoes and mozzarella). If you are making something a little more complicated (like anything with protein in it) – do not bother!

While writing the article, I jumped by our friendly local market, REWE, and just checked out the sauce section – the AMOUNT of choice that you have is immense. Would highly recommend going for the simple solution as a general choice though! 

Granola Bars

This in my opinion is about choice. Making or buying will have the same cost to you. Buying it though, will give you a choice of the specific type you feel that specific day. Making it, will make you stick to a specific flavour combination. Up to you in the end of the day – I do not really bother with them much. 

Dressing

A big make for me. The taste is just too much of a difference. Let’s take the easiest of them all: Italian dressing – which is nothing less than olive oil, balsamic, a little garlic, salt and pepper. All these ingredients are around the house at any given day! Also – with the dressing, you can play a little, depending on how frisky you feel on a daily basis.

Meat in General

Cooking meat is a personal process! I like it in a way that buying it ready is just not enough. In terms of convenience, when you only have a kitchenette, once the price is not too big of a difference, I would recommend to experiment. If you own a full on kitchen, please stop reading right now and make if by yourself.

Here I am not talking about pan fried meats, like chicken breasts or steak – but mainly for the roasted sections, or slow cooked selections.

Other stuff

I believe I have covered the main topics. Some people would be looking for ketchup, mayo, making your own pasta, or puff pastry. Some things are not related to any tutorial – it is a matter of personal preference. Like puff pastry requires you to be a good baker and have that specific calling in you. Ketchup is just hard to make – and for the love of it – one can not get that Heinz perfection. Mayo is delicious homemade, but it is an acquired taste. Pasta just makes a royal mess, but it is just too good when made at home, even though pricing for the store bought pasta is incomparable.

Some conclusions

If you are very much into making your own stuff, follow this book where you will get a lot more info and in more detail about everything.

Till then, just live your life and experiment – no one will judge you if you went ahead and bought the dressing in store or made your own butter.

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