Grainlady, some questions

sherrmannSeptember 20, 2008

I have some questions. Are there definitions for "homemade" "prepared," "scratch" and "convenience" foods?

For instance, you mill own flour. Do you take everything back that far? If one does that, does one also make one's own mayo? Every time you want a little mayo? Do you somehow make your own oil to make the mayo with? What about mustard and ketchup? Jams and jellies? Peanut butter? Do you churn butter from cream? Would you buy anything canned or frozen, like green beans, corn, peas, or do you grow and preserve it yourself?

Baking soda? Cheeses? Spices like garlic, cumin? Vanilla? Wines?

I'm not trying to be a jerk; I'm trying to figure it out. It seems to me it's more a way of life than anything else, and that there is a very large time investment involved, as well as a very large investment in supplies and equipment, and storage. Certainly, grainlady, your food budget seems lower than mine, but I have never done an analysis of mine, and I have a big family. I am an excellent cook, love doing it. But I do use prepared foods to a certain extent. It seems to me that many things are cheaper to buy prepared commercially than to grow and raise myself.

I feel like my lasagne is homemade, yet I use canned tomatoes, boxed noodles, ground chuck and pork from the grocery, commercially dried spices, blocks of commercial cheeses that I grate myself, tubs of commercial ricotta. If I read your posts correctly, my lasagne is not homemade or from scratch, but sort of a hybrid.

Having said all that, I have always tried to buy prepared foods that have as few added chemicals as possible, because I felt that was better for my family. Like natural peanut butter, real whole wheat breads, rolled oats, fresh fruits and vegetables. I've baked my own pies, cookies and cakes from what I've always considered "scratch, but now I don't think so according to your standards.

Also, I've tried to be very green for the past 40 years. Never bought a pesticide, or lawn or garden fertilizer. Mow our very large lawns with a reel-type push mower, don't use much power equipment, turn over the gardens with a spade.

So, back to definitions. Would you share yours? How about sharing your time and equipment investments? I realize it's also about nutrition and money.



Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

1. Homemade is something made or prepared at home. It's just about that simple. It doesn't necessarily have to come from 100% whole foods or foods you produce or grow yourself. For instance, homemade chicken noodle soup... You COULD raise the chicken and make your own noodles, but the ingredients could also be purchased, or a combination of those choices - much like your lasagna. They are still MADE at home.

I used to make homemade clothes. Clothes purchased from a store are called ready-made. I didn't produce the fabric or the notions to make homemade clothes, but it IS possible to do so. I knit homemade sweaters, but I don't raise sheep or cotton, and don't spin yarn, but it's possible to do so.

2. Prepared - ready-to-eat or ready-to-use. These can be foods YOU make, or commercially prepared. Your homemade lasagne can be frozen and used later, so it's a homemade prepared food. When you pull it out of the freezer, thaw, and reheat, it's a prepared food. Purchase lasagna in the freezer case - that's a prepared food.

3. Scratch - Scratch is actually a reference to something you haphazardly toss together, kinda like making vegetable soup when you really don't follow a recipe. Let's scratch together some breakfast... Others would say scratch is when you measure all the ingredients used in the recipe, but you didn't necessarily produce all the ingredients.

4. Convenience - Some of the preparation is already measured or mixed. I believe Bisquick was the original commercial "convenience" food (the dry ingredients and fat were all mix together and all you had to add was the wet ingredients). I make a wholegrain version of Bisquick, which includes freshly milled spelt, cornmeal and wheat; oatmeal (I flake my own grains), etc... and I consider this a "convenience" food, although I make it from scratch (measured and mixed all the ingredients). You can also make it from scratch using commercial ingredients (shortening, flour, baking powder, etc... Once I've got the mixture together, stored in the freezer, I can quickly make it into any number of things from biscuits to casseroles or desserts, just by using Bisquick Recipes.

5. I like simple preparation, simple food (we use whole and raw foods a lot - produced at home AND purchased. We're not self-sufficient by any means.

The least amount of processing is my preference, but that doesn't mean I make everything. It's about choices, not about what's right or wrong. I choose one method or food, you choose another - for whatever reasons. Cooking isn't all or nothing - all scratch, all convenience, but combinations of those... I purchase anything I want, I just stay within my $50/week budget. I buy grain instead of bread.

You purchase whole wheat bread, I took it to the next step to control the ingredients even more and make bread at home. I mill my own flour because that's the only way I'm assured the freshest flour possible and all the nutrients FROM wholegrain flour. It's about nutrition first for me.

It's also cheaper to mill your own flour at home - especially if you're like me and make ALL your baked goods at home. I use a wide variety of grains/seeds/beans as the basis of our diet.

I started milling my own flour and baking everything to eliminate trans-fats, chemical ingredients and artifical colors. Living in the middle of wheat country, I occasionally get free wheat from cousins or friends, and that's really cost effective.

Why not just purchase whole wheat flour...? Much of the commercial whole wheat flour is nothing more than white flour with some of the bran raked back into it to make it "brown" AND you pay more for it. By law, in some cases, the wheat germ must be removed in order to give the whole wheat flour longer shelf life. Once the bran on wheat is cracked, the bran oil quickly oxidizes from exposure to oxygen. Even if you were to be able to purchase whole wheat flour milled from 100% of the grain, the nutrients quickly degrade and the germ oil goes rancid (rancid oils do not have to SMELL rancid to BE rancid - if they smell rancid, they've been rancid a l-o-n-g time). What you get with all commercial whole wheat flour is "old" flour, degraded oil and nutrients because you have no idea when it was milled or what conditions it was stored and warehoused under.

6. I try to stick to whole foods and raw foods as much as possible, but I'm not a complete throw-back to a by-gone era. I'm not that ambitious (LOL). You couldn't pay me to gut and pick a chicken, nor would I like to to raise them, but I did all that when I was growing up.

Whole foods are easy to prepare, usually cheaper (because they are less processed), more filling and have more fiber than processed foods.

7. I've made lots of peanut butter in a food processor from purchased roasted peanuts. It's one of those easy things people just don't realize they can do at home, but unless you grow your own peanuts, peanut butter is probably less expensive than buying peanuts.

8. We don't use mayo, but I make a "sorta mayo" from drained kefir curd when I need to hold tuna salad or something together. You can do the same thing with yogurt. I also make salad dressing because I try to avoid soy products of any kind, as well as high-fructose corn syrup, which are in almost everything.

I make 6-8 cups of kefir each week, but I don't make cheese. I've made cheese (just for the experience of the process), and for the small amount of cheese we use, it's more cost effective to purchase it. I've never used or needed ricotta cheese, but I'd probably drain kefir and use it. I buy mustard, catsup, don't use canned veggies, purchase frozen fruit/veggies when necessary, make freezer jam, but use very little of foods that have empty calories or lots of sugar.

I have a flaker mill, so I flake my own grains. I occasionally purchase old-fashioned oats, but make my own cracked grains, so I make my own Scotch (steel-cut) oats. I also mill my own cereals - cream-of-wheat, cream-of-rice...

9. If I don't - or can't - grow an herb/spice, I purchase it, but I grow the majority of what I use. I buy vanilla. I grow many herbs indoors - they are an easy-to-use, high-in-nutrition, fresh vegetable source in the winter. It's also a nice hobby. Garlic is easy to grow, as are onions.

  1. The fats I use I purchase - butter, coconut oil, and a small amount of olive oil. I'd make butter if I had a good source for raw dairy products, but I don't. Gas to go get raw milk/cream is more expensive than buying butter at the store. Kansas law - you have to purchase it at the point of origin - the farm it's produced from.

  2. We don't use a lot of pasta, but I make most of the pasta we consume and use freshly-milled durum flour. Pasta is cheap and easy to make. I have a pasta machine which makes the work quick, consistant, and accurate. For instance, I only need to make egg noodles once or twice a year because I make so many at once. I make a large batch, dehydrate them, and vacuum-seal them with a FoodSaver and the jar attachment in canning jars. Fresh spaghetti only takes a few minutes to make. Freeze the extra. Cleaning the pasta machine is what takes all the time (LOL).

  3. We also consume a rather spartan amount of food compared to most people. We follow the old Basic-4, and I'm a stickler for serving sizes. Because we use whole foods, I'm sure we feel fuller consuming less food because it's less processed and higher in nutrition. "Hunger" is often a sign of malnutrition (need for nutrients), not lack of food. We also enjoy going out to eat. We just don't do it as often as many people do. We also like "junk" food, we just don't waste food dollars on it. If we want hamburgers and French fries, they can be easily made at home. I make the multi-grain burger buns. I bake the fries, rather than deep frying.

Here's the old Basic-4 we follow:
Bread/Cereal Group: 4 servings
Fruits & Vegetables: 4 or more servings
Meat/Meat Alternative: 2 servings
Dairy or Dairy Alternative: 2 servings

  1. Snacks are fresh, frozen, and dehydrated fruits; dehydrated zucchini replaces potato chips. We like nuts, air-popped popcorn, homemade granola...

  2. Home canning is an example of something I DON'T do (although I have canned and have taught canning classes). It's more expensive to do home canning than it is to purchase those 3 jars of pickled beets and one jar of dill pickles I use a year. Most of the food from our garden gets eaten quickly, while fresh, or preserved in the freezer or dehydrated. Dried tomato powder quickly replaces tomato sauce or tomato paste.

  3. Over the years I've invested in "tools". I won $500 in a low-glycemic recipe contest and bought some of them with the winnings. Just like having good tools for ANY job - building tools or for gardening - good tools makes work easier, more consistant, or more efficient. I've chosen kitchen tools for that same reason. Most have quickly paid for themselves because I use them all the time. I mill flour 1-3 times a week. I have "tools" you probably don't have, but you may also have "tools" I DON'T have. I don't have a jumbo stand mixer. I've never needed one. I use a mandoline, but it's a quick way to make slices for dehydrating very thin and all the same thickness, you may not have one. I have several mills because one mill doesn't do everything.

BTW - We have a Neuton battery-powered mower, but also designed our small yard to be very low-maintanance with less than 25% in grass. We water with rain water from our 1000-gallons in the rain barrels around the house.

I don't like the emotionally charged, guilt-ridden "green". It's such a catch word these days so that companies can charge you more, or make you feel guilty for making a different choice. I've always prefered a simpler way to get the same results. Usually those ways are also going to save money, even though you may have to invest money up front before you see the savings. Rain water is free, but the containers, hoses and diverters cost money. We saved more than they cost after 2 summers. I cook in solar ovens. Yes, they cost, but so does cooking with electricity or gas. After enough time, the solar ovens have paid for themselves over and over again.

It's all about choices. Not about what's right or wrong.


    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 10:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I do a lot of things the way you do, but I don't take food prep back as far as you do in most cases. It is indeed about choice. And time and preference.

There are buzz words for everything, "green" among them. I'm not sure "simple" is a good substitute, but, like "green" it gets the idea across. It seems to me that you work "harder" rather than "simpler" than I do and spend more time cooking and preparing than I do, even if you do love and prefer to do it your way.

So, last question (for the moment): Is the proverbial cake made from a cakemix homemade? There was a thread on GW not long ago that was adamant that it was not, yet it seems that it would fit the description, much like lasagne does. At 99 for a box of Betty Crocker, it SEEMS cheaper to buy the box with its extra chemicals than make it from scratch. Since I will never be able to mill my own flour or make my own baking soda, it seems the better bargain to me.

I have always felt that food additives are probably dangerous, so have instinctively tried to limit them in my family's diet, but I have not eliminated them, obviously. Do you "think" they have a negative effect on health, weight issues aside?


    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 8:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you grainlady. You answered some questions I'm sure others besides Sherry were wondering. And thank you Sherry for asking them.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 9:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

sherry -- I feel strongly that the additives are at best, unproven. At the worst, un-safe.

We are on a low sodium diet. You don't touch canned veggies or soup due to the high amount of MSG, salt, etc etc. So I can or freeze all veggie we eat.

The diet that is recommended to heart and cancer patients -- has whole grains, lots of fresh fruits and veggies and less meat. You eliminate most "convenience" type food. No hamburger helper -- no canned soups.

I bake all of our breads -- no mixes -- I would consider it from being from "scratch" but I don't grind my own flour. I don't use cake or cookie mixes because I find the quality inferior to what I can bake. But my grandmother was a professional baker and I feel I learned from the best.

But you have to bake regularly to make the costs pay off. If I use cake flour once a year ..... it may pay to buy a mix. I use quality chocolate with a high-cocoa fat for my brownies -- the chocolate probably costs twice as much as a box of brownies.

But I can tell you -- by changing our diet to only "scratch" products and home-canned items and organic beef and pork -- I have lost 60 lbs -- my husband has lost 35. I feel so much better....... far more energy -- no sluggish feeling.

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I do work and I have a farm that is open to the public. I spin my own yarn, knit and sew. I don't watch tv or go to the malls for entertainment.

It is a lifestyle choice. I like it and I wouldn't change it. But it is a choice and it is hard work.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 1:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I really don't spend much time cooking and baking. I'm too busy doing other things.... I don't spend much time with meal preparation because we use whole foods and follow a simple menu plan, and I rarely spend more than 20-30 minutes preparing a meal, if I can help it (LOL), and nothing is very complicated.

Breakfast today was 1 toasted Oat Farl each (a homemade scone-type bread - from the freezer), half a banana, 1 slice "breakfast meat" (a locally-prepared item similar to Canadian Bacon), smoothie (made with homemade kefir, pomegranet and blueberry juice - made from a frozen concentrate, flaxmeal, and a powdered supplement). Lunch was 8-10 almonds, cottage cheese, Very Veggie Juice (similar to V-8) and an apple. No cooking.

My basic menu plan:
- Monday: Big Meal (usually a large portion of meat - roast beef, baked chicken, turkey breast, meatloaf... which provides for several other meals, soup base, sandwich meat, etc., during the week, as well as food in the freezer)

- Tuesday: Leftovers from Mon. - may, or may not, take on the same form as that meal.

- Wednesday: Stir-fry (usually includes some foods prepared either on Mon. and/or Tues.)

- Thursday: International (for lack of a better name - pasta, Mexican... uses very little amounts of meat)

- Friday: Vegetarian

- Saturday: Soup and/or Sandwich

- Sunday: Pizza or Meal-type salad

I actually cook very little because I cook once and use it for many meals, so it's easy to choose foods already prepared and in the freezer. Three to five hours a week is spent making bread and other baked goods, and much of that time is spent doing other things while the dough raises. I use a bread machine for making the dough, so it does the work. Milling wheat takes 5-10 minutes, depending on how many different grains/seeds/beans I mill.

I see commercial cake mix as a homemade convenience food. The baked cake is NOT purchased ready-made at the store, it's made at home (homemade). According to the dictionary.... 1. Made OR prepared in the home 2. Made by oneself.

I'm not going to get overly concerned about it one way or another. I wouldn't say using commercial flour falls short of being "homemade" since I mill my own flour. Using a pre-packaged mix isn't any less "homemade" than using the same commercial ingredients, but they are measured individually instead of pre-measured and mixed in the cake mix. All were MADE or PREPARED at home.

As I've studied food and nutrition, it's really simple to find evidence of the benefits of whole foods, like whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Chemicals, flavor enhancers (like MSG which the FDA says isn't safe for children), preservatives, extenders (like soy - one of the most toxic and highly processed foods ever used AS a food), high amounts of processing, high fructose corn syrup, just doesn't seem to get any support for improving nutrition.

You just don't see a lot of advertisement for the simpler forms of whole foods, like using wheat at home... But all of us know which bread "helps builds bodies 12 ways".

BTW, "Wonder Bread" was a government program to "enrich" white bread. Funny, they removed nearly all the fiber, wheat germ, 25 vitamins, minerals and proteins by milling and bleaching flour (another unnecessary food hazard) - the result was diseases like beriberi and pellagra from white flour that had all the nutrition removed. So the government decided to add back just enough vitamins in the form of unnatural chemicals and inorganic minerals (12) to enrich the flour.

Early in the 20th century, Dr. Harvey Wiley, the first head of what is now the FDA tried to make white flour illegal. The evidence that white/bleached flour was unhealthy was easy to trace to any number of conditions and illnesses.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 3:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Grainlady, very interesting stuff. How did you learn all of this? Do you have your own website?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 8:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I gather that grainlady has kept her eyes and ears open ...

... learning quite a variety of useful things ...

... for quite a number of years.

We have two of each, remember - and only one mouth/tongue: maybe God was trying to tell us something!

But you know humans - we don't listen too well!

ole joyful

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 12:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

kew2006 - I think ole joyful hit that nail on the head (LOL). I'm an information freak and as so, spend a lot of time studying, researching, taking classes or attending workshops on subjects I'm interested in, and filling files. Add to that, I'm a teacher at heart. No website... -Grainlady

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 6:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

grainlady, go get yourself a google webpage and spread your information and get paid for it! Or, pays for people to provide expertise on their site as well. You seem to have lots of useful info. I think you could make some money with very little effort. I'd visit your site!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 6:45AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Is this freebie site safe to use?
I found this site today but wasn't sure if I should...
Best Money Saving Advice
What do you do that saves a lot of $$$? I know many...
How to get $1.00 worth of Cdn. charitable value for 50 - 60 cents
If I buy some groceries in the food store and put them...
Need Ideas-Extra Space/Supplemental Income
My wife and I recently had twins which upped our kid...
Which smartphone for PagePlus?
Looking for help for my first smartphone purchase,...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™