January 1, 2013

A Month of Homemade Meals

2013 is starting not with a resolution, but with a month-long experiment.  For the month of January (31 days), my husband and I are not eating pre-packaged foods.

What does this mean?  Well, it probably means we are crazy.  Not eating pre-packaged foods??  How do you even do that in this day in age?  It's almost impossible to go a week without eating at least something that comes out of a package.  But we're going to try.  For one month, we are going to make our own pasta, pasta sauce, bread, mayonnaise, soup, etc.  We are going to forgo some of our favorite meals (JIF peanut butter sandwiches for me, ramen for him) en lieu of something that we hope will not only be healthier, but better tasting.

Why? Well, my husband says it's because he likes a challenge, and it will help us learn to cook better ("It's like Cooking 201," he said tonight).  I have a few reasons to add: 1) It should be healthier.  2) It will force us to think about our meals in advance. 3) It will teach us new recipes.  I also think it will be fun!  But I could be proved wrong once classes start.

But on top of that, I think there is something truly wonderful about creating something from the very beginning.  I noticed this when I created yarn from the start (cleaning the wool, combing it, spinning it, dyeing it).  It's something we don't do very often anymore.  In a world where we can buy sweaters in stores and food packaged and ready to be microwaved, we have little need to go back to the beginning.  But something is lost in this modern way of doing things.  We lose the appreciation for the thing, be it a sweater or chicken alfredo.  There is something incredible about this act of creation, something that is almost spiritual.  When you get your hands dirty kneading bread, or picking hay from wool, you understand the finished project better.

Today was the first go at this challenge.  We had a late start to the day, so our planned meal of sandwiches (with homemade bread and mayonnaise) did not happen.  But we did manage to make chicken nuggets with apples on the side.  Pretty good, though kind of salty.

Dinner was much better.  We decided to make chicken alfredo, with homemade pasta and homemade alfredo sauce.  We started by making pasta in the late afternoon, our first attempt at this.  According to my husband, rolling pasta with a rolling pin is hard.  I think we'll be getting a pasta roller soon.

I found the recipe on Allrecipes.com (my favorite recipe place).  It is the Basic Pasta Recipe.  Very easy to make, though it was difficult to get it thin enough without a pasta roller.  We also didn't have a rack to put the pasta on while we made the rest of the meal, so we had to improvise.

The alfredo sauce was interesting to make.  Again, from Allrecipes: Alfredo Sauce .  I didn't realize how much parmesan was in alfredo sauce!  It took 1 1/2 cups!  We used parmesan from Kraft because it was what we had (which does not count as pre-packaged because it is just grated  parmesan cheese, nothing added).  The result was a bit gritty, because the cheese did not melt.  Next time we will use fresh parmesan.  

The final result of dinner was delicious.  There are some obvious changes to be made (pasta roller = thinner pasta, fresh parmesan = less gritty sauce), but other than that the meal was wonderful!

On the menu for tomorrow: sandwiches made from homemade bread with homemade mayonnaise, and ham and potato soup!


  1. I believe that once you get into it more, you'll find it's not that difficult to eat processed-free foods. As for peanut butter, that's super duper easy to make at home and about a billion trillion times tastier.

    Happy Cooking & Eating.

  2. Thanks! I think the real challenge for us will be transitioning from college student food. Also, having time to make the food. I will try making peanut butter. Hopefully I'll like it better now than when I was a kid.

  3. There's this honey name REALLY RAW HONEY, and we love it in our homemade peanut butter.

    So so so so good.