I go through phases of wanting to be more like Julia Child and less like Lorelai Gilmore. I get all of my cookbooks out and decide that we will only eat homemade items. And then I come back to my senses.With a new garden all ready to go for the spring, though, I'm getting excited about fresh soups and salads with some homemade loaves of bread. Much more doable.
When Jennifer Reese (of the great blog Tipsy Baker) lost her job, she went into a make-it-or-break-it panic, thinking that she needed to make everything that her family ate to save money. Once she started raising chickens and making her own peanut butter, though, she realized there should be a balance between the time and hassle of making everything and the convenience of purchasing some items at the store.
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter tracks Reese's learning curve with humor and great insights. She lists the items that are not worth making yourself based on a cost comparison and the amount of time/effort it takes. According to her kitchen-tested research, you should buy baguettes, rice pudding, corn dogs, and burritos. But you should cure your own meats, and make whipped cream, bagels, and pickles.
I'd rather make rice pudding than bagels (and yes, I've made both at home), but that's just me. I do draw the line at mayonnaise, which Reese says could go either way. Making mayo just has a high ick-factor for me.
Even if you don't decide to suddenly grind your own wheat, you'll get a kick out of Reese's commentary as she contemplates deep thoughts, like who in the world actually buys those frozen Uncrustables PB&J sandwiches.
She also offers some easy and fairly pain-free recipes for the things she recommends you make yourself. But my friend Julie – who desperately and strangely wants her own flock of chickens – will be bummed to learn that eggs are on the "buy" list. Chickens are a hassle, Julie. Trust me.