Five things to make at home

Brown Thumb Mama recently posted on the five things she thinks folks should make at home rather than buy. Completely inspired by her list, I thought I’d add my two cents and list five things I find easy and worth making.

Granola. So many store bought granolas are full of too much stuff and expensive. Granola is a simple dish and open to all sorts of interpretation. Oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut, maple syrup, honey. I could go on. When you make granola yourself, you know exactly what you’re making and what  you’re putting into your body. My current favorite–that I make a couple of times a month–takes all of 1/2 an hour to make.

Salad dressing. Another refrigerator staple for many of us. Like granola, it’s pricey and often made with unnecessary ingredients. All you need is a jar with a lid (mason/canning jars work great for this), some olive oil, balsamic or red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic. You could also add mustard, herbs, flavored vinegars, lemon juice. Like the granola, totally adjustable to your tastes.

Scratch pads. I don’t do this all the time but it’s super simple and I really should do it more often. My kids love notebooks, scratch pads, journals, and the like. And they use them, which makes buying them really add up. When we have an empty cereal box, I cut it up, saving the two main sections of the box. These become the outside for two new scratch pads.  I fold the cardboard in two and cut some recycled or computer paper to size, inserting it into the folded cardboard. Once the paper is in place, sew down the middle of the book and paper. I have a sewing machine and generally use it, but a needle and thread would work just as well. And voila, a new notebook.

Play-dough. Easy to make and a fun thing to do with your kid, especially if you’re adding some food coloring. One of my favorite reasons for making play-dough, however, is that it doesn’t require me to buy the little plastic containers that commercial play-dough comes in.  There are lots of  recipes out there, but this is one of my favorites.

Toilet bowl cleaner. Baking soda and vinegar. Seriously. You don’t even need to pre-mix it. I generally pore some baking soda in the toilet and then enough vinegar to make the toilet fizz. Let it sit for a few minutes and then scrub away. Cheap. Easy. And no plastic bottle to throw away or recycle when a bottle of commercial brand has been emptied.

I do realize–believe me–that easy doesn’t always mean less time. A lot of time, doing things the old-fashioned way is the more time consuming way (hence the modern and convenient options). But…if you’re trying to save a little money (which was the initial impetus for my decision to start making most of these things), find joy in making things yourself, or are trying to find ways to reduce waste in your house, starting from scratch is a good way to go.


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