Modern society doesn’t think twice about some of the food they purchase at the grocery store. I have said over and over again that my homestead beginnings started because I fell in love with making food.
One of the first foods that fired me up was making marshmallows. I love that to this day. I can make marshmallows from scratch and people are totally blown away by something that is so simple.
What else, then, is so simple to make, and yet we chose to purchase it from the store? Well, here is my beginners’ list:
Easy to Make Recipes
Making yogurt in your crockpot takes hours but it is hours that you don’t have to spend tending to it.
The steps to this recipe are fairly simple: Add milk, turn it on low, walk away. Turn it off, walk away. Add yogurt starter in a specific manner, walk away/go to bed. Wake up, you have yogurt!
I have to warn you though; this yogurt is fairly addictive, even in plain form. I don’t like the plain Greek yogurt from the store but I adore this recipe and will eat it without anything extra.
My girls love to experiment with flavored yogurt and they add it to their lunch boxes fairly regularly.
2. Cool Whip/Whipping Cream
This was a life-changing moment for me. Right around the time I desired to make homemade marshmallows, I was introduced to whipping cream.
I was the kid who could care less about the pie, give me a bowl of cool whip, please. Needless to say, it was life-changing.
Plus it is super easy to make. The recipe goes something like this: Add whipping cream to a bowl, add any extra ingredients you desire, whip until stiff peaks form.
Stiff peaks mean when you lift the topper or lower the bowl, you see a tip form. Don’t overdo this though because you’ll end up with butter!
After I bought my kitchen aid I made whipping cream on a regular basis.
If you are like me and want that authentic out of the nozzle spray-can experience, I highly recommend picking up a whip cream canister. They are fun, very versatile, and super important if you’re a specialty coffee drinker.
I use the liquid form for a variety of other uses. As a home economics teacher, this is one of the few items you will see in my classroom at all times.
3. Butter and Buttermilk
This recipe can be made multiple ways and we already have a great tutorial for you.
I bet you’ll never go back to buying store-bought butter again.
4. Fruit Roll-Ups and Gummies
Fruit roll-ups can be made simply by pureeing the fruit of your choice and blending it with sugar, if you desire, and maybe a hint of water. Once you have done that, lay it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or dehydrator tray, bake at 170°, or in the dehydrator for about 3 hours or until not sticky but not totally peeling away from the paper.
If it is totally peeling away you will have fruit chips, which are not bad just not what you had desired. If it still comes off on your fingers then it is too wet and won’t peel properly or taste good.
You can cut the parchment paper and fruit into strips using kitchen scissors and roll them up the same way you purchase them from the store. Best benefit? They taste so much better than the store-bought colored fruit-flavored sugar.
Not to mention you can sneak in some vegetables that will go unnoticed by most kids because the flavor of the fruit overpowers the flavor of the vegetables!
Gummies are made much the same way except you add more water and gelatin. This recipe is a great place to get started.
I was a freshman in college the first time I had fresh noodles and oh my goodness, what a life-changing experience that was. My grandmother made noodles for Thanksgiving and while I thought that was an odd thing to make, I never looked back.
Pasta is the Italian word for paste and, indeed, they are made from similar ingredients. Flour, water, and salt are combined. This recipe goes into more detail on how to make the pasta dough.
The easiest way to make them from there is to roll them out to size, then use a pizza cutter to cut them into strips. If you like fancier noodles, opt for the Kitchenaid mixer attachment that makes 7 different styles from macaroni to rigatoni.
You can also use the noodle recipe to make your own ravioli, just stuff them, add another layer of dough, and cut them out using a round cookie cutter. Be sure to push the dough into each other as well.
6. Ice Cream
Ice Cream is a staple in our household. Naturally, we use a Kitchenaid attachment to churn our ice cream. Our recipe is simple enough: Mix 1 cup milk with 2 cups heavy cream and half a cup of sugar. Stir well and add in any extra liquid ingredients you desire.
Turn the churner on, pour in the cream base, and churn until desired consistency. If you like yours rock solid though, you will have to place it in the freezer once it’s done for about an hour or so.
Maybe you do not have a churner. Well, go get one!
No, seriously though, there are many no-churn ice cream recipes out there, such as this one by the Pioneer Woman, that are fairly simple. For different flavor ideas, read our fun Ice Cream Recipe guide.
7. Coffee Creamer
I wasn’t a daily coffee drinker until my early to mid-20s. At that time my mother had (what I thought was) the best coffee creamers. I no longer needed sugar with my coffee and it tasted so good!
Then when I got into real food, I looked on the back of her creamer to read what was in it. The shock! The horror! I had been drinking vegetable oil. Yuck!
Instead, I prefer to make my own creamer now. Sometimes that simply means drinking a little half and half in my coffee, other times I get adventurous and try these recipes.
I am a firm believer in buying used when it comes to small kitchen appliances, especially if you are like me. The reason I say this is because I like to experiment with what saves me time and what is a waste of time (for me) in the kitchen.
The bread machine was the first one that I ever realized this with and I was very grateful that I had purchased one for a lower price at a yard sale and not for a higher price fresh out of the box.
While the ability to make a recipe by simply throwing it in the machine and letting it go was nice, I looked at what it was doing and thought, “My Kitchenaid does all of that minus putting it in the oven”. Plus I didn’t like the shape that the machine made the bread into.
Yet I still appreciate the simplicity that it takes to really make bread. Add water to yeast, let sit, add flour, and other ingredients. Knead using the dough hook of the machine and let it sit for an hour.
Put into a pan (shoot, that was hard work) and let it rise again. At this point, you can cover it and put it in the freezer or you can bake it.
Wa-la! You’re done. And many artisan bread recipes don’t require kneading or rise times nearly as long.
I’d say this recipe is a winner.
Applesauce is one of those recipes that surprised me with the taste difference between store-bought versus homemade.
You already know which one I am going to say is better.
The cinnamon really stood out in the homemade version and the freshness of the apples really helped out as well. Not a whole lot beats fresh.
The hardest part of this recipe is peeling and coring the apple. If you plan to make a lot of applesauce, I highly recommend getting help or investing in a peeler/corer. You simply crank it (or turn it on) and after a few cranks, you have a freshly peeled and cored apple ready to go. And that skin? Well, if it’s from your tree or a farmer you know then eat it!
Once that is done, all you have to do is cut it down, add spices of choice, a little lemon juice, and water, put in the crockpot and wait 4 hours.
Well, that might be the hardest part of the recipe. Forget what I previously said.
10. Sour Dough
If you live in San Diego, I’m already jealous of your sourdough you’ve yet to start. Indeed, the chemicals in the air play a part in how your sourdough tastes.
Another aspect is your water to flour ratio.
If you have equal amounts of water and flour then sourdough will be tangier, if you have a 2:1 flour to water ratio then it will be sweeter.
And the recipes you can use with sourdough starter go far beyond bread, there are pretzels, pancakes, and much more!
I recommend this recipe.
11. Beef Jerky
Beef Jerky, oddly enough, became the staple food that students would pay me to make. They would give me the money to purchase the ingredients and make it. It was crazy to them that I could make it so well.
Part of my trick was using fresh ingredients and that I could make it as soft or as hard as they liked. All I had to do was adjust the timing on the meat.
Having control over something as simple as the way the beef jerky comes out, is oddly satisfying.
Yet I am eternally grateful for little things such as that.
I am also grateful that for the same price as the store-bought, I can also purchase the ingredients needed to make one or more of these recipes for homemade beef jerky and get almost twice as much.
Another added benefit? If you have wild game that you use for jerky, it’s basically free.
You should have known I’d put marshmallows in here eventually!
Marshmallows are essentially sugar gelatin; however, the key to them is whipping the air into them extremely fast. Guess what that takes? If you guessed a Kitchenaid mixer, you’d be right!
We tried to make them using other things. My dear husband even tried putting a fork in his drill to whisk it fast enough and every time we had a marshmallow, filmy thing on top and liquid on the bottom.
Six months later I used a friend’s mixer (see, I told you I believe in test drives before big purchases) and had no issues at all with making those little buggers.
You simply cool the gelatin with water, heat the sugar mixture up, and combine the two – starting slowly and making your way up to the highest speed on the mixer. When you hear the machine struggling, it’s time to pour it into the mold.
Let it sit (still the hardest part) and cut after 2 hours or so.
So Many Recipes
There are so many more Do-It-Yourself recipes out there that I have yet to try, and am very excited to get my hands on.
I live for the “Wow! You made that?!” I get from others.