#FridayFive Surprisingly Simple From Scratch

Today I want to share five kitchen staples that are surprisingly easy to make from scratch... and did I mention they taste way better, too?  

Ready made items are so accessible in U.S. grocery stores, so it can be easy to just grab and use them without ever thinking about how to make them yourself.  Chicken stock?  That comes from a box in the soup aisle.  Making?  Better pick up a packet of gravy mix to heat up. And salad dressing obviously comes from a bottle.  These conveniences are so ingrained in our cooking culture that I never even considered making these things myself until a few years ago. 


My first revelation came from making homemade chicken stock using leftover rotisserie chicken bones. One weekend, I had rotisserie chicken leftovers in the fridge and was inspired watching a Barefoot Contessa episode to make chicken stock myself.  It was a success and has now become a staple in my freezer. It prompted me to realize that while there is nothing wrong with grabbing these items ready made from the store, I could make more than I realized from scratch and oftentimes would save money and reduce food waste in the process. 


Over the years since, I’ve been blown away by just how simple so many convenience items are to make. In fact, once you understand the basic elements, you won’t even need to follow an exact recipe!  Below I am sharing my favorite staples to make myself and the recipes I learned to make them with.   I hope you learn something new, and I would love to hear from you!  What other items do you make for yourself that are game changers?


  1. Homemade stock: This recipe from Queen Ina herself is simple and straightforward. As a newbie to making stock, this recipe let me see what the basics are and while I don’t reference a recipe anymore, it provided me with a solid base that I now easily riff on.

  2. Granola: This grain-free granola from Rachael’s Good Eats packs in flavors and can be easily adapted for your needs. I always sub out walnuts due to an allergy and use cornstarch instead of arrowroot powder since I am not paleo.

  3. Hummus: There is no shortage of hummus recipes online, but I love this one for the smooth texture and classic flavor.

  4. Blue cheese dressing: Blue cheese dressing is one of my favorite indulgences! I follow this recipe to a T.  In this recipe, it’s the honey for me!  It balances out the acid and rounds out the flavor perfectly.

  5. Gravy: This isn’t just a recipe; it’s a guide for how to make gravy using any stock you have. This is an easy cooking skill you’ll never regret building.

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