Do homemade pantry items sound hard or time consuming to make? These 20+ easy recipes will change your mind! Most take just minutes, giving you a store of pantry staples that are healthier, save money, and are better for the environment.
Pantry basic recipes were some of the first recipes I published here on AOC. It's because they, along with simple breads and easy canning, were life changing for me as a wife and mom.
Why? It's hard to explain, but I felt I finally had some control over what we ate and that felt good. Plus:
- I could save money since the recipes use items we already bought.
- The resulting pantry staples were way healthier and I knew what was in them.
- They tasted fresher and better.
- Reusing containers and not buying new meant less for the landfills, helping the environment.
What are pantry basic recipes?
Pantry basics is the term I use for the items that are in most people's pantry or fridge door. They also include freezer items (or rather, things you can make and freeze for longer term storage).
Pantry Basics = the things you use again and again in your meal plans that most people purchase.
These are items I never once thought about making as a new wife and mom. I just threw them in the shopping cart on a regular basis.
The one thing I did make was freezer jam instead of buying jars of jam or jelly because I grew up with my mom and aunt making it and I thought it tasted better.
But things like mayonnaise and ketchup? It never occurred to me to actually make them - no one I knew made them and I actually didn't know if they could be made at home.
When did things change? Well, it wasn't overnight and it wasn't all at once (so don't think you have to do it all, either...).
But it all started with chocolate syrup- you know, the kind in the brown bottle. Brian has made us cappuccinos every morning since our daughter was born and he drizzles about a teaspoon of syrup on the top. Not too chocolaty, but enough to make it special.
But then I started our healthier food journey, reading labels and making more things from scratch. One day at the store I picked up the familiar bottle and decided to read the ingredients. Ugh! There were so many, in such small type I could barely read it.
Wait, wasn't it just chocolate, sugar, and water? Why did they need all these other things?
In case you're wondering here they are in order:
high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar, water, cocoa, potassium sorbate, salt, mono- and diglycerides, polysorbate 60, xanthum gum, and artificial vanillin.
Sounds yummy, right?
Well, I put it back and when I got home tried my hand at making chocolate syrup. It turns out that, yes, you can make chocolate syrup yourself and it's easy, quick, and frugal.
Not to mention that it has only five ingredients:
sugar, cocoa, water, salt, and real vanilla.
Here's what I discovered through this first homemade pantry basic recipe:
- You can adjust ingredients to your taste: I use less sugar and more cocoa because we like a darker-chocolate type syrup.
- It's quicker to make it myself than going to the store when we run out. And no waiting for the next shopping trip. **This was probably the biggest "a-ha" moment for me.**
Since making that discovery, I now regularly question what's in my pantry and fridge and try to find ways to make it if there's a compelling reason to.
Not all are worth it to me. Mustards and hot sauces, for example, usually have really simple ingredients and are pretty inexpensive.
You have to decide for your family what are the things you would like to make and what you would still buy.
Homemade Pantry Items
Here's a list of some of the very best pantry basics recipes you can make today:
What basic pantry items will you be making?
If you'd like more ideas for a healthy pantry, be sure to read this article about the key items to have in your pantry (with a checklist you can download) AND the recipes you can make with them (55 total!).
This article had been updated- it was originally published in July of 2010.
Jami @An Oregon Cottage says
Janae- No, you're not alone- yeah! Though mine are much simpler than your roasting coffee and making pasta- wow! Kudos!!
I'm so glad I'm not alone in making basic pantry items from scratch! I've been making breads, desserts, pasta sauce, and soup for years. I've just started making pasta, yogurt, vanilla extract, and roasting coffee recently. Other things that I make are lotions and candles. It's all so simple (and fun!), and it saves a bundle.
I have been making alot of our own pantry items over the last year, mostly because I can't pronouce the ingredients! I make my own chicken broth, marinades, jams and jellies, most salad dressings and of course your chocolate sauce!!! I try to make as muh as possible, even giving up my reliance of cream of ___ soups by making my own, the ultimate sacrifice!
Okay, with four young children around my house, we use a lot of Hersey's chocolate syrup (okay, that is my crutch I employ to get lots of milk drinking done and no soda drinking). I hate that I have to buy the Costco sized containers every month! I finally made your chocolate syrup recipe last week and OMGoodness - it is amazing!! We loved it. I'm a dark chocolate fan and it tasted so rich and dark and the kids loved it. I'm also saving a few dollars by making my own, plus no preservatives. Thanks again Jamie. I'm so glad I found you!!
Jami@ An Oregon Cottage says
Jenny- Oh yeah, I remember the days of cream of soups...I used them alot until I read the ingredients- yuk. 🙂
Jami@ An Oregon Cottage says
Athena- yes- I had to keep the spices down for the kids- they want it to be like the kind from the store, you know...
Jenelle- So glad you're liking those, friend. 🙂 I'm always on the look-out for a good BBQ- would your husband want to share?
Well let's see here.....
I use your cocoa mix, chocolate syrup, & ketchup. I also make my own Teryaki sauce (I actually freeze chicken in the marinade) all our own salad dressings and my hubby makes an amazing BBQ sauce.
Home made is always so much better then store bought. We will never go back. 🙂
Athena at Minerva's Garden says
This is a great post--thank you! I usually make ketchup (although my recipe has a lot more spices in it--I may pare mine down after reading your recipe because yours is easier), mayo, chicken broth and what we call a caesar dressing but is really more of a green goddess dressing, but it is very tasty. I am looking forward to trying your chocolate syrup, hot cocoa mix, and some of the variation on your basic vinaigrette--I can't wait to make the raspberry one!