DIY With Purpose
Easy Homemade Breakfast Sausage
A little ground pork gives ground turkey extra richness; dark maple syrup lends a touch of breakfast-y sweetness, and fresh herbs brighten the mix. In just 25 minutes, you have delicious, freezable patties with 40% less saturated fat and half the sodium of popular commercial brands.
All-Purpose Citrus Dressing
Homemade dressing comes together in minutes and is far healthier, cheaper, and fresher than bottled dressings with added sugars, chemicals, and fillers. Prep ahead and store in a covered jar or container in the refrigerator. If you're cooking for more than one, feel free to double or triple the dressing.
Homemade Nut Butter
There's no comparison between homemade nut butter and store-bought for Mark Overbay, founder of the handcrafted nut butter company Big Spoon Roasters, as long as you follow his rules of the road. "Freshness is paramount to great nut butter," he says, "so you have to start with raw nuts and roast them yourself." Add in a bit of coconut butter for ultimate creaminess, and use a delicate hand with seasoning to keep the flavor all about the nuts. As for sweetness, stick to mild picks like honey or sorghum syrup, and avoid stronger ones such as molasses. Overbay's most important advice? Have fun and play around with nut combinations. "Just remember, nuts each have different oil content, so use a mix of oily nuts with drier ones. Roast each kind of nut separately, but it's fine to grind them together." In general, a food processor works better for making nut butter than a blender. For the smoothest, creamiest results, you must be sure your processor's blade is sharp and that the whole attachment is in good working order (otherwise, the blade won't spin properly).
If you’re looking for a refreshing, bubbly mid-afternoon fix that packs a bit more punch than sparking water, try making your own. These three simple soda bases have just a handful of fresh ingredients and spices that deliver bold flavor and fizzy refreshment with a fraction of the sugar in store-bought soda.
DIY extracts are not only cheaper than store bought, they are simple to make and easy to dress up as a present. Try making your own extract varieties with your favorite flavors. We tested vanilla, lemon, mint, and almond extracts.
If you're going broke buying $5 bottles of kombucha to feed your fizzy tea habit, you may be curious if you can easily DIY and save big money. The short answer is yes. The longer answer is absolutely! Before you begin brewing your own beverages, read our Kombucha Primer. We'll tell you everything you need to have on hand, where to find a SCOBY, and the best temperatures for letting the probiotics do their work. These simple step-by-step instructions will make you an expert brewer and bottler in no time.
When it comes to homemade mayo, flavor is incomparable—it tastes richer and will likely go a longer way toward satisfying you. And you'll save yourself from added sugar, artificial additives, thickeners, and excess sodium.
Homemade Nut Milk
One thing we discovered is that not all nuts deserve to be milked. The winners: almonds, macadamias, pecans, pistachios, and hazelnuts. Soaking overnight to hydrate and soften (and to neutralize phytic acid and other enzymes that can affect digestion) before blending with fresh water yielded rich, creamy milks. Macadamia and pistachio milks were revelations for their luscious character and prominent flavor. Start with raw nuts to preserve oils and nutrients. (Note: Almonds are the exception. By law, they are pasteurized for safety.) Use a blender or a cold-press juicer for grit-free results. Since most of the flavor and oils are stripped from leftover pulp, culinary uses are limited. You can use it to boost fiber in muffins, meat loaf, or smoothies.
For chile powder that's fresher and cheaper than store-bought, make your own.
Homemade Chai Tea Mix
Give an instant boost to a cup of hot black tea on a gray day with this easy mix. Make more for holiday gifts and package in Mason jars, or spoon some into a clear cello bag and stuff into an oversized mug. This homemade version helps avoid unsavory store-bought ingredients like artificial flavors and anti-caking agents.
A handful of ingredients (and far less salt) gives you better-tasting flavored popcorn than you can buy. To make sure the oil is ready for the popcorn, add a couple of kernels and wait for them to pop. Once they pop, add the remaining kernels.
Though grabbing a bag of tortillas is certainly a big timesaver, you'll be so happy with the quality, taste, and texture of your homemade tortillas the first time you make them, you'll never want to buy the bagged kind again. (We promise.)
Homemade Cheese Crackers
These cheese crackers are reminiscent of Goldfish, but their extra-sharp cheddar flavor gives them Cheez-It-like cheesiness. It’s a super simple kitchen project the whole family can take part in—kids will love rolling out the dough and crafting fun cracker shapes. The best part? The orange color comes from natural extra-sharp cheddar instead of food dye.
Alternative milks are more mainstream than ever and are a worthy sub for dairy milk. Skip the original or vanilla flavors—these can often be too sweet—and opt for unsweetened. Try unsweetened almond milk in smoothies or sauces and unsweetened soymilk over granola or in baked goods. These milks would all be delicious blended with a great hot chocolate or chai mix (where there’s already plenty of sweetness).
Trail Mix Chocolate Bark
A good old nut and raisin blend delivers sugar, salt, and crunch—AKA all things good. Healthier than store-bought alternatives, this snack is ideal for gift giving.
Gluten-free crackers are not hard to find on the market, but they're often highly processed, rice- or cornstarch-based, not very nutritious, and expensive. These homemade crackers are teeming with nutrients. Made with high-protein quinoa flour, they are also full of zinc, omega-3s, vitamins, and minerals from pumpkin, flax, sunflower, and caraway seeds.
Who says desserts have to be heavy and sugar-laden? Meet your new granola, which has two-thirds less sugar than most store-bought varieties. Pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and quinoa lend 4g of protein, while honey and ground cinnamon add a touch of sweetness. We like it with a little extra kick, but knock the red pepper back for less heat. Stir into yogurt or sprinkle over fresh fruit for an unexpected—and unexpectedly delicious—end to the big feast.
Love the idea of whipping up flaky, buttery biscuits on a weekend morning? Speed up the process with this simple biscuit mix that you can prepare ahead and keep on hand. With only four ingredients, not only does it come together quickly, but its simplicity is a plus compared to pre-packaged mixes with unpronounceable ingredients.
Tangy Coffee Barbecue Sauce
Steer clear of store-bought barbecue sauces with high sodium. This zesty low-salt condiment is great with grilled steaks, pork, or chicken. Refrigerate extra up to a week.
Chewy Oat and Fruit Granola Bars
The hot red sauce from the green-topped bottle now squeezed on everything from Thai noodles to tacos to burgers is the breakout condiment star of the last 10 years. With so much product available, you might wonder why it's worth the bother to make at home. Answer: It's quick, it's easy, and it tastes amazingly fresh—the essence of bright chile heat softened by the perfect amount of sweetness and tang.
These homemade pickles couldn't be easier to make—no fancy kitchen equipment required! Plus, unlike store-bought pickles, these scrumptious homemade pickles are low in sodium.
Homemade Ketchup Recipe
Both store-bought and homemade ketchup contain lycopene, an antioxidant associated with decreased risk of chronic diseases. We found this rendition well worth making because it captures the vibrant flavor of summer tomatoes and has about half the sodium of commercial ketchup. Serve with hamburgers, oven-baked fries, or with meat loaf.
Homemade Pizza Dough
Homemade pizza dough is economical, fun, and healthful since you control the ingredients. This recipe yields enough dough to make two pizzas, or one pizza and four large calzones.