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If you mainly cook from scratch, what ready-made stuff do you use?

(82 Posts)
masterstef Sun 05-Aug-18 17:20:40

I cook about 90% of my meals from scratch (no, I don't make my own sausages, bake my own bread, make my own pasta or smoke my own salmon but you know what I mean).
Generally I think it tastes loads better but since having kids I have resorted to microwave rice, pre-made mashed potato, pre-prepared meat and potatoes on the odd occasion.

I've even made my own hummous in the past (not particularly worth it except if weaning) and guacamole (totally worth it)

However, I've always used some stuff from jars, like:
Dolmio bolognese sauce (always thought it was full of crap but it's not, only quite sugary)
Sacla pesto (the chargrilled aubergine one is amazing)
Ambrosia custard/rice pudding (I did make my own custard when I lived abroad and it was lush, but no time for that now)
Stuffing from a packet
Bisto gravy (would love to make my own gravy one day)
Spice Tailor curry kits
The odd stir-fry sauce although my own one is awesome, just a bit time-consuming

That's about it, I think, but would be interested in other shortcuts that work well!

OP’s posts: |
AtleastitsnotMonday Sun 05-Aug-18 19:51:16

Puff pastry, life’s too short!
Jams and chutneys
Everyday bread (might make a loaf for a special occasion or when I’ve got a day free)

GeorgeTheHippo Sun 05-Aug-18 20:01:29

I would never bother with ready made gravy or bolognaise sauce as they are both dead easy and way better home made.

I agree about spice mixes and stuffing though.

Stir fry sauces I don't buy either - just use soy, grated frozen ginger and garlic if you are short of time.

Cheese sauce is surprisingly good bought in those fresh tubs.

blueskiesandforests Sun 05-Aug-18 20:06:33


Since I've been encouraging ds1 to cook more on my late shifts I buy ready made pizza dough. He's only 11 but he should cook something otherwise older DD does it all, and I don't want girl child doing default cooking like woman parent

GeorgeTheHippo Sun 05-Aug-18 20:10:01

DS could manage pasta and sauce no problem at that age.

Also he could do "something on a tray" by which he meant pie or fishcakes on an oven tray with boiled potatoes and veg.

Ariela Sun 05-Aug-18 20:11:59

For a curry, rather than faff with individual jars of spice I sometimes use Pataks paste pots (£1.50 for 2), I still add loads of other things though,

ProudThrilledHappy Sun 05-Aug-18 20:13:47

Frozen chopped onions

I mostly cook from scratch but most meals require chopped onions and they are such a messy pain in the arse to chop finely

RiddleyW Sun 05-Aug-18 20:15:56

Frozen puff pastry
Frozen mash
Spice pastes

RiddleyW Sun 05-Aug-18 20:17:04

Oh yeah ginger in a jar!

Also I by lurpak garlic butter which is always handy

Margaurette Sun 05-Aug-18 20:17:25

Jars of garlic and ginger paste.

Tomato pasta sauce. Which I know only makes 10 mins to make, but when I'm tired enough for a bowl of pasta, I just want to sit down while something boils.

Other than that, mainly scratch.

RiddleyW Sun 05-Aug-18 20:18:59

I do love baking bread but it’s too nice. I can’t leave it alone until it’s gone. I find boring whole grain sliced less likely to disappear in chunks with a load of salty butter

ChanklyBore Sun 05-Aug-18 20:22:12

I make my own sauces. I batch cook when I can be bothered and freeze easy quantities of curry sauce, sweet caramelised red onion sauce, cheese sauce, and tomato and basil. It sounds like I’m being poncy but really it is so much easier to make 10x the amount I need once than to make the same thing 10 times. And those sauces defrosted in minutes form the basis for maybe half our dinners!

I do the same with soup batches, bolognese batches and chilli batches. I make my own hummus, guacamole, nut butter, pesto and tapenade, because I’ve got a little mini chopper and they take seconds in that.

I can bake bread but rarely do. Sometimes do a loaf or a pizza base of six but that’s usually it. Nearly all cakes and sweet things are homemade due to amount of mouths needing to be fed, and average size of baked goods in stores. I make rice pudding, and custard. I don’t make jams or marmalades but I do make fruit sauces (apple sauce, cranberry sauce, mint sauce etc).

I definitely buy puff pastry but make shortcrust. I buy in baked beans, those mixed bean salads in tins, ice creams and sorbets, bread, wraps and some prepackaged salads. I buy in breakfasts cereals but do like to make granola and muesli.

I love the microwave rice type things and also all the lentil, grain, quinoa, cous cous ones you can get too. Really easy, quick, and in fairly small quantities as not everyone in the household will eat them.

starryeyedsnowgirl Sun 05-Aug-18 20:24:15

Pesto and garlic purée. Find the purée better than the chopped stuff in a jar as it has an odd pickle taste. Frozen ginger cubes are good too.

Blostma Sun 05-Aug-18 20:25:45

Jars of garlic and ginger

Moussemoose Sun 05-Aug-18 20:26:30

Pasty has to be frozen - real pastry is far too much effort.

Grumpbum123 Sun 05-Aug-18 20:26:57

Filled ravioli and gnocchi

Paranormalbouquet Sun 05-Aug-18 20:27:34

I buy pesto, I’ve made it but find it tends to go to waste so don’t do it often. Also filo and puff pastry.

Frouby Sun 05-Aug-18 20:29:48

I make most things from scratch.

But I don't make gravy. Those pouches of fresh gravy are perfectly acceptable to me as a much less faff alternative.

I usually have those packets of microwave rice in as a quick alternative to faffing around with a pan of water.

RiceandBeans Sun 05-Aug-18 20:30:19

I’d never buy made-up cooking sauces or microwave rice etc. They’re so easy to make yourself and you have control of what goes into them.

I buy:
tinned or tetrapak chopped tomatoes in their own juice
Tinned cooked chickpeas
Tinned cooked butter beans
Shop-made mayonnaise
Bread (although most English bread is not worth eating)

I prefer to buy frozen broccoli florets and frozen chopped spinach. Iceland own brand spinach is surprisingly excellent.

I’ve tried frozen cauliflower florets but nothing beats a slow roasted whole cauliflower with cheese sauce. Cheese sauce made from scratch of course.

And that’s about it, really.

MrPotatosGirlfriend Sun 05-Aug-18 20:30:31

Pesto from the fresh section, even though homemade is so much nicer its such a quick dinner its handy to have in.

M&S have some decent Indian and Thai kits for lazy evenings. I love Meera Sodhalls cookery books, and although the dishes don't take ages to cook the prep beforehand means I fancy an easy option every now and then.

Acopyofacopy Sun 05-Aug-18 20:32:42

Not what you are looking for, but gravy from scratch is really easy and so much better than Bisto!

Look up how Delia makes gravy (I still think her books are best for basics) and give it a try, you will never look back.

The only ready made things we buy are frozen pizzas, can’t think of anything else.

Upyours2017 Sun 05-Aug-18 20:35:20

Could anyone give me a foolproof recipe for bolognese/lasagne sauce? Noticed a few have said theirs is way nicer than bought-in jars and I'd be grateful for any tips! I've tried a few recipes but invariably they taste bland to me and I think I must be doing something wrong. Sorry to try to hijack your thread OP, I'm so keen to cook more from scratch as you do but my efforts never taste as nice as the jar stuff, which must mean I'm going wrong somewhere.

LadyMonicaBaddingham Sun 05-Aug-18 20:39:31

Frozen mashed potato. :Seriously.

Acopyofacopy Sun 05-Aug-18 20:40:44

Mary Berry’s recipe is good. I think the secret is to cook a Bolognese for 1+ hours.

Cakecrumbsinmybra Sun 05-Aug-18 20:41:16

Bags of soffritto for freezer for cooking in a hurry (onion, carrots, celery)
Jars of garlic and ginger
Thai curry pastes
Frozen mash occasionally
Salad dressings sometimes

PP who asked about Home made sauces - if you watch one of the current episodes of ‘How to eat Well for Less’, Greg Wallace shows someone how to make a tomato based sauce and a white sauce.

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