As part of our family’s commitment to decrease our carbon footprint, we’re working on reducing waste and, therefore, we have lots of do-it-yourself projects going on. While some have not worked, most have. Our homemade staples contain no “iffy” additives, and save money, waste and our planet. I have found that the kids particularly find this venture to be fun and love to help out. Now it has become almost a sport of what we can make ourselves.
Here is a list of a few very easy staple foods we make ourselves.
Butter—This is a recipe for butter that I found in Vegnews. It’s amazing because it acts just like “real” butter: you can use it for frying, for spreading on bread, and for baking. The consistency is a bit harder than butter but it will soften at room temperature.
- 2 ½ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. powdered lecithin
- ½ cup non-dairy milk
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
Place everything in a food processor and mix until it’s white and really smooth. Keep in fridge.
Nut butter—I never knew how easy it is to make your own nut butter: all you need is patience and a food processor. Place 1 cup of raw nuts in a food processor and mix until nuts start to release their natural oils. This takes a while and requires you to scrape down the sides a few times. Once you have a sticky but smooth dough-like consistency, add 1 Tbsp. coconut oil and blend until nice and smooth. If you like your nut butter sweet, add 1-2 tsp. agave nectar. Keep in a glass jar in the pantry.
Mustard—I use mustard for my vinaigrettes, and kids like it on hot dogs. Mustard is so easy to make that it made me question why it took me so long to try it. My family like honey and spicy mustard. Here is our recipe :
- 1/3 cup yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 ½ apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Soak mustard seeds overnight in hot water. Strain seeds and blend them in a food processor with salt, brown sugar and vinegar until smooth. Scrape down sides at least once. Add honey and olive oil, and process just for a second to combine. Pour into a glass jar and let sit in fridge for one week to develop flavor before eating.
Oat and Almond milk—Our recipe can be found here but I also make oat milk
Bread--It’s one of those tasks that might seems so much work but once you have one or two easy recipes down it’s so easy and fast to make it that it becomes second nature. These days my kids prefer my home baked bread over store bought. Here is a link to some of my bread recipes.
Cheese—This recipe took me a while to figure out because I have a cheese loving son who takes the flavor of cheese very seriously, so it had to be perfect for him to accept it. Finally, after trying to make non-dairy cheese recipes, I found one on http://goodnessgreen.com/easy-vegan-cheese-no-soy-heart-healthy/. It got the thumbs up. If you wish to make cheese from dairy, here is a good recipe
Jam-I always make my own jam from either our own homegrown fruit and berries or from the farmers market. https://zerowastefamily.com/quick-jams-autumn/#.WRE7h7GZPow
Homemade Mayonnaise—My mom was a classically trained chef, and mayo was one of the first foods she taught me to make. It’s super easy, too. These days, I’m a vegan and do not eat eggs, so here are two recipes for mayo: one with eggs and one that’s made with chickpea brine. One fewer thing to waste, I guess.
Coconut Yogurt—I’m hooked on coconut yogurt. This is my recipe for raw coconut yogurt. Just remember that it does require young coconuts.
Applesauce—Applesauce is one of those foods that are so easy to make that, once you start making it, you will never have a reason to buy it again.
Kale Chips—I grow a lot of kale in my garden, so one way to preserve it is by making kale chips, a great snack to replace greasy potato chips.
1 cup cashews, soaked for an hour or more and drained
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp. mellow white miso
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. agave nectar or maple syrup
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup water
1 large bunch curly kale, washed, de-stemmed, ripped into medium-sized pieces
In a blender or food processor, blend cashews, lemon juice, bell peppers, miso, salt, pepper, agave, nutritional yeast and water for 1-2 minutes until thick.
In a large bowl, place kale, and add 3/4 cup sauce. Use your hands to massage the sauce into the kale.
If you’re making the chips in a dehydrator, arrange the kale in a single layer, spread out and dry at F115 degrees for 3-4 hours. Flip them and then continue to dry until crispy, about another 2-3 hours.
If you’re drying them in an oven, preheat oven to F250. Bake chips for 1 hour, flipping them once. Bake until completely dry.
Almond or other non-dairy milks
Baby food—My kids rejected canned baby foods, so I have always made my own baby food. Making baby food might seem very overwhelming for a new mom when in fact it’s easy, fast and safe — and saves lots of money. Here is a link to what to feed baby depending on age and includes lots of recipes.