5 things you should never buy at the grocery store

Apr 23, 2018 | Cooking Tips

I remember learning to read in elementary school. The teacher would assign us a paragraph and when it came around we would read it out loud. If there was a word we didn’t know, or couldn’t pronounce, we would be told simply to skip it. This is a terrible habit. In fact, I only recently realized that I still do it. I find I subconsciously skip over words I don’t immediately recognize. Having now recognized this in myself I have been able to work on it and improve on it.

I find that there are items in the grocery store people buy every day that are the culinary equivalent of skipping words. Meaning, these items could easily and quickly be made at home for a fraction of the cost. The reason we don’t make them is that we have been convinced that it’s better to just skip over them. To let someone else make them for us. But why?

Why is better to buy something at a massive markup than to make it yourself? Why is it better to buy something that is loaded with salt and preservatives than it is to make it yourself? I don’t think it is. I think that we have been tricked into believing that these items are inconvenient to prepare. I believe that once we understand how simple it is to do these things and how much better they are we will no longer skip over them.

I have compiled a short five-item list of things you can easily make at home instead of buying. These things are not difficult, even for the most inexperienced cook. Whatsmore is that the items all cost significantly less to make yourself than to buy pre-prepared.

Here are five things that I believe we should be making at home rather than buying in the grocery store.

Number 1. Hummus

Hummus is an incredibly popular dip. It originates in the middle east and made it’s way to North America in the 70’s and 80’s. It is composed of chickpeas, garlic, tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice, olive oil, a bit of cumin, and a touch of salt. This is all pureed together. If you have a food processor it literally takes two minutes to make. Making it at home means we get to control the flavour and salt content as well.

Number 2. Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach and artichoke dip is one of those classic items served at parties. It is delicious. It also happens to be really easy to make. Essentially, you are mixing cooked spinach with artichokes, a bit of cream cheese, sour cream, parmesan, garlic, and maybe a bit of lemon. You could also add a touch of chili flakes if you wanted. This item, again with a food processor may take about five minutes which includes cooking the spinach. It would take ten minutes if you’re mixing it all by hand.

Number 3. Precut vegetables

The vegetables that get used in producing precut vegetables are usually the ones that are going bad on the shelf. They are not the freshest, so they are not the most nutritious. They also are generally stored in nitrogen. Also, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but often when food gets recalled because of contamination it is frequently items that have been prepared, not whole foods.

Number 4. Salad Dressing

If you know how to use a whisk you can make your own salad dressing. When done properly, the oil slowly whisked into the vinegar a little bit at a time, a vinaigrette will last for weeks. Use a tsp of mustard to stabilize it to extend the shelf life. If you want to know more about why you should not salad dressing in the grocery store read the label on any salad dressing bottle. A homemade version only needs to be composed of oil, vinegar, honey, and mustard.

Number 5. Guacamole

Avocados mashed with a bit of tomato, cilantro, lime juice, chili, and red onion. You can make this with a potato masher if you want. Homemade guacamole tastes way different than the store-bought stuff. Just like everything else on this list it takes under ten minutes to make.

In closing, I want to talk about one other thing I learned in school. Perceived cost, versus true cost. The perceived cost of something is the actual price. The true cost is the price with all of the after effects worked in. So, you may be buying a 175g tub of guacamole for $4. You think your buying convenience. But the actual cost is the health effect form the preservative, the loss of the skill to make the guacamole yourself, the loss of the sense satisfaction from making it yourself.

In reality, do what you want. I just hope that you understand how easily these things that we unnecessarily spend money on every day are to make. And maybe think twice before buying them next time.



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