45 Foods You’ve Been Buying That You Should Cook at Home Instead
Homemade versions of these kitchen staples are cheaper and healthier than their store-bought counterparts—and they taste much better, too.
Crescent Dinner Rolls
“These light, golden rolls have a heavenly homemade flavor and aroma. Mom never hesitates to whip up a batch of these from-scratch rolls, since they’re a delightful way to round out a meal.” —Debra Falkiner, St. Charles, Missouri. Before you dive into any of these recipes, check out our tips on how to make homemade meals healthier.
“Store varieties of chocolate-hazelnut butter just can’t compete with the homemade kind. Slather it on everything from toast and pretzels to banana chunks and shortbread cookies.” —Crystal Jo Bruns, Iliff, Colorado. Once you’ve made it, give it a try in these 10 amazing Nutella recipes.
Brown Sugar & Banana Oatmeal
“Oatmeal is a favorite breakfast food: quick, easy and filling. I came up with this version by using some of the same ingredients from my favorite breakfast smoothie. Add bran cereal for a heartier taste and more fiber. A brown sugar substitute and soy milk also blend in well.” —Jessi Rizzi, Odenton, Maryland.
“I usually have to double this recipe because we go through these so quickly. The tortillas are so tender, chewy and simple, you’ll never use store-bought again.” —Kristin Van Dyken, West Richland, Washington. Now that you know how to make tortillas, give some of these easy, delicious Mexican recipes a try.
“Nothing is better than fresh guacamole when you’re eating something hot. It’s easy to whip together in a matter of minutes and quickly tames anything that’s too spicy.” —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas. Avocados also have some awesome health benefits, so eat up.
Homemade Canned Spaghetti Sauce
“This DIY spaghetti sauce is a tomato-grower’s dream come true! Use up your garden bounty and enjoy it later in the year.” —Tonya Branham, Mt. Olive, Alabama.
Homemade Pasta Dough
“Go for it. Once you try homemade pasta, you’re hooked.” —Kathryn Conrad, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Cold-Day Chicken Noodle Soup
“When I was under the weather, my mom would stir up a heartwarming chicken noodle soup. It’s so soothing for colds and cold weather days.” —Anthony Graham, Ottawa, lllinois.
Crusty Homemade Bread
“Crackling homemade bread makes an average day extraordinary. Enjoy this beautiful loaf as is, or stir in a few favorites like cheese, garlic, herbs and dried fruits.” —Megumi Garcia, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
New England Baked Beans
“For a potluck or picnic, you can’t beat this classic side that starts with a pound of dried beans. Molasses and maple syrup give it a slight sweetness.” —Pat Medeiros, Tiverton, Rhode Island.
Raspberry Lemonade Concentrate
“Here’s a concentrate that allows you to enjoy a refreshing summer beverage any time of year. Sweet raspberries balance the tartness from lemons.” —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
All-Around Seasoning Mix
“I always keep this mixture on hand; it’s good on anything, especially grilled pork, chicken, and vegetables. Kenneth has developed a taste for heat, and this does supply some.”—Greg Fontenot, The Woodlands, Texas.
Canned Blueberry Jam
“Summer doesn’t feel complete without at least one berry picking trip and a batch of homemade blueberry jam. Eat atop fresh scones or biscuits for maximum enjoyment!” —Marisa McClellan, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Here’s the truth about the difference between jam and jelly.
Roasted Tomato Salsa
“Our family’s all-time favorite salsa, this recipe is the reason we grow a huge garden every summer. We make gallons of it and share with our neighbors. You might find yourself eating it right out of the bowl with a spoon.” —Donna Kelly, Orem, Utah.
Deli-Style Potato Salad
“I was inspired by my grandmother to cook, and loved going to her house for Sunday dinner. She passed her cooking skills down, and today my mom and I still make this potato salad.” —Sally L. Miner, El Mirage, Arizona.
Homemade Pizza Sauce
“For years, I had trouble finding a pizza my family likes, so I started making my own. The evening I served it to company and they asked for my recipe, I thought, I finally got it right! When I prepare my sauce, I usually fix enough for three to four pizzas and freeze it. Feel free to spice up the sauce to suit your own family’s tastes.” —Cheryl Kravik, Spanaway, Washington. Then, try out some of these healthy pizza toppings.
Quick & Easy Honey Mustard
“This fast, easy mustard with rice vinegar and honey has more flavor than any other honey-mustard dressing I have ever tried.” —Sharon Rehm, New Blaine, Arkansas.
Homemade Corn Muffins with Honey Butter
“I turn classic cornbread muffins into something special by serving them with a honey butter. They’re gone in a flash!” —Suzanne McKinley, Lyons, Georgia.
“Toss this garlicky, rich pesto with pasta or use as a spread. It also freezes well for fresh flavor over the winter.” —Jaye Beeler, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here’s the truth about why you add salt to your pasta water.
Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Sauce
“I’ve never cared that much for store-bought barbecue sauce. I just like to make things myself from scratch including this spicy, deep red-brown sauce. You’ll find it clings well when you slather it on grilled meat.” —Helena Georgette Mann, Sacramento, California. Be careful of these 9 BBQ mistakes that even seasoned grillers make!
Refrigerator Jalapeno Dill Pickles
“I’m passionate about making pickles. My husband is passionate about eating them. He’s too impatient to let them cure on the shelf, so I found this quick recipe to make him happy. Add hotter peppers if you like.” —Annie Jensen, Roseau, Minnesota.
Sweet Tea Concentrate
“Sweet iced tea is a Southern classic and this is a fabulous recipe for those tea lovers or for a party. The concentrate will make 20 servings.”—Natalie Bremson, Plantation, Florida.
“When I was young, my mom would make these biscuits with fresh cream she got from a local farmer. I don’t go to those lengths anymore, but the family recipe is still a real treat.” —Beverly Sprague, Baltimore, Maryland.
Creamy Turkey Gravy
“With my easy recipe, even someone who has never made homemade gravy before can be assured of success.” —Phyllis Schmalz, Kansas City, Kansas.
Classic Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
“This light holiday staple saves time on Christmas day. No more frantically whipping the potatoes while hungry family and guests hang around the kitchen!” —Marty Rummel, Trout Lake, Washington.
Spicy Refried Beans
“Need a quick appetizer? All you need is a can of refried beans, jalapeno pepper, seasonings, and cheese. Serve with tortilla chips on the side for scooping.” —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“This moist and tender chicken is a real time-saver on a busy weekend. A simple blend of seasonings makes it a snap to prepare, and it smells heavenly as it roasts.” —Marian Platt, Sequim, Washington. Plus, try out this slow-cooker chicken recipe.
Homemade Chicken Stock
“Peppercorns and a handful of herbs add the perfect seasoning to this low-sodium stock developed by our Test Kitchen home economists. To give it even more flavor, they first browned the chicken and sauteed the veggies.” —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Here’s the difference between sauteeing, searing, and charring, plus many more cooking terms explained.
Quick and Easy Strawberry Jam
“This is an easy and tasty way to use up freshly picked quarts of summer strawberries. It makes about seven half-pints, so there’s enough to share.” —Ball Brand and Kerr Brand home canning products.
Delicious Chocolate Sauce
“Dressing up a dish of ice cream is especially easy with this sauce. It mixes together in a matter of minutes! The sauce serves another purpose, too. One batch yields so much, I have plenty extra to pour into pint jars and give out as gifts.” —Dorothy Anderson, Ottawa, Kansas.
Frozen Berry & Yogurt Swirl Popsicles
“I love these frozen yogurt pops because they double as a healthy snack and a cool, creamy sweet treat.” —Colleen Ludovice, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Here are some other healthy treats for kids.
“You can change up this basic crouton recipe by substituting your favorite herbs and spices.” —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“Who has time to make from-scratch bagels? You do with this easy recipe from our Test Kitchen staff. The chewy golden bagels offer a hint of honey and are sure to impress the pickiest of palates.” —Taste of Home Test Kitchen. Here are some other easy and healthy breakfast ideas.
Homemade Peanut Butter
“We eat a lot of peanut butter, so I decided to make my own. I checked the price of peanut butter up here against the cost of making my own and found mine to be much cheaper, with the added value of knowing what goes into it! Not to mention it’s a whole lot tastier.” —Marge Austin, North Pole, Alaska. For another snack that’s healthier when you make it yourself, try this homemade microwave popcorn.
“When this homemade ketchup is bubbling on the stove, the aroma takes me back to childhood. One taste and I’m home again.” —Karen Naihe, Kamuela, Hawaii. You’ve been using ketchup cups—and these 6 other food containers—all wrong.
Easy Homemade Chunky Applesauce
“Here’s a comforting, home-style treat that never loses its appeal. Dish up big bowlfuls and wait for the smiles!” —Marilee Cardinal, Burlington, New Jersey.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
“Homemade vanilla extract is a fun gift to give in decorative bottles with attractive labels, for those special friends who like to cook or bake.” —Becky Jo Smith, Kettle Falls, Washington.
Vanilla Coffee Creamer
“Flavored coffee creamer drives my husband nuts—he calls it ‘lady coffee.’ Even so, I make this classic vanilla one all the time. Check out my blog, shaunasever.com, for ways to spice it up.” —Shauna Sever, San Francisco, California.
Homemade Chicken Potpie
“Why look for potpie in the frozen food aisle when this easy homemade version tastes much better? Under its golden-brown crust, you’ll find the ultimate comfort food for kids and adults.” —Amy Briggs, Gove, Kansas. Learn how to make the best comfort food from each state in America.