I have never before even thought about making my own Greek yogurt, not to mention ricotta cheese. Yet thanks to a new book called "Make The Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook From Scratch," I am spending my Sunday doing just that.
"Make the Bread" is author Jennifer Reese's experiment to economize in the kitchen. As the blogger behind The Tipsy Baker, Reese is no stranger to the kitchen, but as the mom of two kids, she is also well-aware of the trade-off most parents have to make when deciding whether or not it's worth it to save 50 cents while spending most of the day tending the oven. But after losing her job, Reese decided to figure out just how much money she could save by making certain items at home, factoring in the cost of wholesome ingredients as well as the hassle each item requires to produce and the satisfaction gained from making an item from scratch.
From hot dog buns to prosciutto to Pop-Tarts, "Make The Bread: Buy the Butter" reveals whether it's better to buy it or make it, accounting for the cost, hassle and likelihood of success, tossed together with such a sharp wit and sense of humor that it's not only informative, it's also barrel of laughs to read.
It's not surprising that it is cheaper to make a lot of things at home. But what did surprise me was the number of things that cost the same or more to make at home as they would to purchase in a store. It goes to show the difference between mass-produced items using cheap ingredients and homemade products made from whole foods.
Although her recipes always call for wholesome — and often organic — ingredients, Reese rates the cost of each recipe from the unbiased perspective; it's either cheaper to make at home or it's not. She does however, add her own two cents about whether or not a homemade item tastes better than store bought and whether or not the hassle makes it worth it to make the item from scratch.
She summarizes her advice with this thought:
"Although you should make your hot dog buns, guacamole, and yogurt, you should probably buy your hamburger buns, potato chips, and rice pudding. Tired? Buy your mayonnaise. Inspired? Make it."
If you have ever wondered whether or not it is worth the time, cost, and hassle to make your own stuff, this book is for you. I'll keep you posted on my yogurt and ricotta experiments, but I can tell you right now that if they are successful, Jennifer Reese will have a new fan for life.
Need more cooking guidance? You can check out a video of Reese making homemade bagels here: