We make lots of our own staples in order to save quite a bit on the grocery bill. And it tastes way better to boot! So, here's what I make on a regular basis:
Bread. I have a basic whole wheat recipe that's yummy. I make up 15 ziploc bags of mix at a time. Each bag has enough in it to make four 1-pound loaves (smallish sized loaves; perfect for kid sandwiches). For us, that's a 2-week supply. All I do is add water and oil to the mix, mix it in the KitchenAid, let it rise, put it in the pans, and bake it. It takes almost no time. I figure it probably costs $0.50 per loaf, as opposed to $4 per loaf for the cheapest kosher bread. We also basically don't buy any baked goods at all. Flour is so (relatively) cheap. And Dean makes *incredible* bagels.
Soy milk. We bought a soy milk maker a year ago and we love it! To make a gallon of soy milk costs $0.48 (plus the cost of using the $100 soy milk maker). Sure beats $3 per gallon (or more) for milk. We buy regular milk too, but soy works great in our daily smoothie, for baking, and the grownups like to drink it plain. When I first made it, I assumed we'd want it vanilla-flavored, but it actually tastes incredible hot straight from the soy milk maker, not flat like from the carton. We use about 1/2 gallon of regular milk every 5 days.
Yogurt. We've been making our own for about two years now. The culture is easy to get and lasts quite a while. We used to have a quart-sized yogurt maker. It worked great, but we had to make yogurt pretty often. Then we got a great idea. We have a fruit drier that is open and flat. It maintains EXACTLY the right temperature for incubating yogurt!! So, we heat up a gallon of milk, stir in 2 cups of dried milk to thicken it, set the large pot on the fruit drier and add in about 1/16 tsp (or less) of freeze-dried yogurt culture. 12 hours later we have really delicious yogurt. It needs absolutely nothing added to it, but it's fun to stir in jam too. Or vanilla and sugar. Or coffee and sugar. Or lemon juice and sugar. Or...
Jams. Love it. Can't go back to storebought. Every summer we make enough for the year. Yum.
Grape juice. We did this for the first time last year. We tried it a little late in the grape-picking season, so the season was over before we had a chance to do more. We use grape juice ritually every Friday night and Saturday for shabbat, so we go through a fair amount. We got concord grapes for $0.50/pound. It will take about 200 pounds of grapes to make a one-year supply. Probably 22o if we want to have plenty for passover too which also involves a lot of grape juice. The juice we made last fall was incredible, and it was a huge disappointment to go back to bottled. We borrowed a steam juicer, so all we had to do was wash all the grapes and throw them in the basket of the steam juicer. It spit juice out of a hose and into canning jars, then we threw it in a 20-minute hot water bath to ensure it's seal would last. The juice truly danced on the tongue, and you tasted flavors on every part of your tongue. The juice was alive. I'd never tasted that before. Wow. We can't wait until next month when the grape harvest begins. Not soon enough!
Beans. So cheap if you soak and cook them yourself! I soak chick peas for 24 hours than bag them to later use for falafel. (You don't cook the beans before you make the falafel.) Other beans I precook and freeze in quart ziplocs. Mostly black beans, pinto beans, red beans, and great northern beans. There are lots of good recipes for beans out there. Really. :) That can of beans that costs about $2 in the grocery store costs me about $0.05. Really.
Okay, before long I'll get back to the adoption topic, which is why this blog started in the first place. Maybe I'll post an update right now!