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Step away from the ready meals, put that jar of sauce down and ditch those microwave faves, it's time to go homemade. We've rounded up 50 foods that are much better homemade than shop bought and we can prove why...
Step away from the ready meals, put that jar of sauce down and ditch those microwave faves, it’s time to go homemade. We’ve rounded up 50 foods that are much better homemade than shop bought and we can prove why.
From ready meal classics like lasagne and fish pie to freezer favourites like Yorkshire puds and fish fingers, this collection of foods really are best made from scratch.
We know how speedy shop-bought meals can be, and we know that if you’re short on time it might be the easier option but when comparing the ready made stuff and the homemade versions, homemade truly does win hands down when it comes to these foods.
Click through to see all of the 50 foods that are much better homemade…
You just don't get that crispy texture you want from Yorkshires when buying ready made ones. Homemade guarantees a light crisp every time and the added bonus? Well, they're much cheaper to make from scratch too.
Get the recipe: How to make Yorkshire pudding
Delicious homemade burgers made from fresh minced meat equals a mouth-watering experience you just don't get with ready made patties. You can add lots of different herbs, spices and seasonings to your meat and you can take control of the salt count and the added fat when making your burgers at home - how good does that sound?
Get the recipe: Homemade burger
Nothing beats a warm batch of gooey cookies bejewelled with melting chocolate and a soft buttery taste - you just really don't get this kind of experience with the packet ones. Trust us, the warm smell of freshly baked cookies will change your mind.
Get the recipe: Chocolate chip cookies
Have you ever made croissants from scratch before? You're missing out. The shop-bought version really does neglect the soft lightness that makes this French pastry a classic dish. Give them a go!
Get the recipe: Croissant
Be it powder, granules or packet mash, none live up to the fluffy expectations that homemade mash creates. Mash really is so simple to make, a knob of butter and a dash of milk with a mini mashing workout - the ready made versions just do not compare.
Get the recipe: Mash potato
Fed up of spending lots of money on chocolates for them to be scoffed up in seconds? We're feeling your pain. Not only is making chocolates from scratch completely satisfying, it's cheaper than buying a box and the richness will mean they last a little longer too. It's time to roll those sleeves up then...
Get the recipe: Chocolate truffles
We can put our hands up and say that we're partial to a jar of the shop-bought stuff every now and then but when it comes to the amount of salt in each one, it's enough to put us off for life. Making your pasta sauce from scratch means you have control over how much salt goes in which makes homemade the better option for your health.
Get the recipe: Tomato pasta sauce
We're seeing falafel more and more on supermarket shelves, from ready made to the powder versions which you just add water to. Either way we're backing the homemade option instead - they're fresher, easy to make and most importantly bursting with flavour, just like a falafel should be.
Get the recipe: Homemade falafel
Granules really don't cut it for us. We just end up with watery gravy every time. That's where the homemade stuff comes in. Freshly prepared meat juices for the flavour and flour to make the sauce as thick as you like - perfect!
Get the recipe: How to make gravy
Sometimes it's easier to just buy a tub of mini meringues instead of making your own, but you're really going to be missing out on the crisp and crunch that is a meringue. Once you've practised your meringue making technique at home, the tubs will be a distant memory.
Get the recipe: How to make meringue
If you often find yourself reaching for a cereal bar for breakfast or your mid-morning snack at work, you might want to think again and opt for the homemade version instead. Cereal bars, like cereals, have a surprisingly high amount of sugar in them (see our best and worst cereal bars round-up to see just how much) so we'd recommend making your own cereal bars so you know exactly what's going into them.
Get the recipe: Strawberry and rhubarb breakfast bars
There's just never enough meat in a pasty when you buy it ready made. The meat is usually dry and flavourless and there's hardly any veggies in there either. That's why we're backing making it from scratch instead - the amount of meat and veggies you add in is in your hands!
Get the recipe: Hairy Bikers' The People's Cornish Pasty
Now no one likes a pile of wet chicken nuggets on their dinner plate and sometimes when it comes to the frozen kind, this can happen. A homemade batter and freshly sourced chicken pieces means perfect golden and crisp chicken nuggets every time - plus they're much healthier too.
Get the recipe: Homemade chicken nuggets
Supermarket cordials and juices add up when it comes to cost. A carton of orange juice here and a bottle of cordial there can really make a big difference on your food shop bill. Ditch the bottled stuff for the homemade brew instead, you're purse will notice the difference.
Get the recipe: Tropical cordial
If you find yourself reaching for a ready made sandwich when it comes to lunch you might want to consider making your own for a change. One of the big problems we have with sandwiches, other than the fact that we don't know what's really in them, is the bread. It can be dry, it can be moist - it's just never perfect like when you make your own sandwich.
Get the recipe: Coronation chicken and coriander salad sandwich
We don't know if it's just us, but when we've bought sausage rolls from the shop - ready made or frozen, they just never seem to rise big enough for our liking. They miss out on the crispy golden, puffed up top and the soft meaty inside - that's why we opt for the homemade choice every time.
Get the recipe: How to make sausage rolls
Everyone deserves an after dinner treat every now and then and chocolate mousse is often on our menu. Of course the shop-bought ones take the medal for being the quickest, but the homemade stuff is so much richer in flavour and texture. We think you'll kiss the ready-to-eat stuff goodbye once you've made it at home.
Get the recipe: Chocolate mousse
If you compare the taste of dried pasta to fresh pasta, the difference in flavour is exceptional. You get a really fresh, eggy taste when using homemade pasta which you lose with the dry stuff. Watch it transform your meal!
Get the recipe: Homemade tagliatelle
Everyone loves a takeaway, especially when it comes to the starters and sides. The only downside to these tasty treats is that they're often dripping in oil - ewww! Making samosas, spring rolls and other favourites at home means less oil and more flavour too.
Get the recipe: Samosa
If you're a little bit smitten with those mini microwave puds you can get in the fridge section you should try your hand at making them from scratch instead. They're much tastier and you don't get that extra sweet, slightly 'fake' after taste you might get with shop-bought puds.
Get the recipe: Microwave chocolate pudding
A light and creamy sauce, buttery mash and soft, fresh pieces of fish makes a homemade fish pie shine above the rest. You can buy the fish fresh from the supermarket and cook it the same day. The fresher, the better!
Get the recipe: Fish pie
Making pesto from scratch is much easier than you may think. Homemade pesto is usually much stronger in flavour which means you won't have to add too much to your dish which also means that it'll last longer and works out much cheaper too.
Get the recipe: Homemade pesto
Making a pizza from scratch means that we know exactly what's going into it from dough to toppings. You have the option of holding back on the cheese to limit the fat count and the option of smothering your pizza with vegetables rather than fatty meats. You just don't get that kind of flexibility with a shop-bought pizza.
Get the recipe: How to make pizza
Ice cream is one of those foods we just never think to make at home. It really is a great one to get creative with flavours and textures and of course you have complete control over how much sugar goes into every single scoop - doesn't that sound good?
Get the recipe: Raspberry ripple ice cream
If you've never made guacamole before, you really are missing out. The shop-bought stuff might be handy to just pop in your basket and go, but the homemade stuff only takes 10 mins to rustle up and is much creamier, healthier and flavoursome too.
Get the recipe: Guacamole
What's the best thing about making crumble from scratch? Well it's got to be the buttery, crunchy topping of course! You just never seem to get as much crumble as you'd like with the shop-bought versions plus it's usually soggy. We like the ratio of crumble to rhubarb to be even and we like our crumble topping to be crunchy, which you can achieve by making it at home.
Get the recipe: Rhubarb crumble
Shop-bought meatballs can often leave that horrible, 'fake' taste in the back of your mouth and you never really know exactly what goes into them. Fresh meat means meatier meatballs with stronger, juicier flavour - you can also increase the seasonings and herbs to your liking.
Get the recipe: How to make meatballs
Fresh, homemade soup is much healthier than the shop-bought version, we're still shocked how much sugar one tin has! You can use up whatever veggies you like and you have complete control over the amount of sugar or carbs that go into your broth. You can also make up a big batch and freeze in portions so you can have homemade soup with the same ease as a tin.
Get the recipe: Tomato soup
Gather the family around for an apple pie and make it worth their while by opting for the homemade version instead. We know how easy it can be to just buy a pie and pop it in the oven but making them from scratch means they're much fresher, sweeter and cheaper too. Ready made pastry is just as good as homemade so all you really have to do is make the filling.
Get the recipe: Apple pie
We're were really surprised by all the hidden nasties in homemade bread (just take a look at our best and worst breads collection). Bread is one of those items that we need to buy on a regulat basis but the shop-bought stuff may not be the best option. Once you've got yeast in, making your own bread is ridiculously cheap. It may take longer to make than just popping to the shop for a loaf, but the warming, buttery taste will be well worth the wait.
Get the recipe: How to make bread
Step away from those frozen roast potatoes. It's time to roll up your sleeves and get cooking. Roast potatoes are much tastier when cooked from scratch, they'll have a crispy outside and a fluffy inside which you just miss out on that when buying them ready made.
Get the recipe: Roast potatoes
If you've ever had shop-bought pancakes you'll completely understand us when we say that they're just too rubbery for our liking. When you make pancakes from scratch, flipping them around your kitchen, you can guarantee that they're going to be lighter, softer and crispier than the rest. Pancakes are so cheap to make, you'll probably have all the ingredients in your cupboards right now.
Get the recipe: Pancakes
Sometimes shop-bought hummus can be a bit stodgy. It can have that fine layer of oil on top and then a thick lumpy texture that we just don't like. We'd rather get a little messy in the kitchen and make our own lighter and smoother version.
Get the recipe: Hummus
We know how tempting it can be to buy a pack of frozen chips and just pop them in the oven, but if you've never made homemade chips before you're really missing out on the flavour. Homemade chips are much tastier than packet chips, fluffier inside and crisp on the outside - they're well worth the effort.
Get the recipe: Homemade chips
We were surprised to hear how much sugar is actually in ready made smoothies. We love a smoothie here at goodtoknow so when it comes to shop-bought vs homemade, we think homemade gets our vote hands down - you can add all different varieties of fruits, vegetables and you can get creative with flavour combinations too. And you guarantee the only sugar in them comes from the fruit.
Get the recipe: Strawberry smoothie
If you've got kids, you'll know how handy it is to have some fish fingers in the freezer. We do however think that the homemade versions are much tastier and flavoursome than the freezer ones. Make your own and you'll really see the difference. You can even make a big batch and freeze some for later.
Get the recipe: Crispy fish bites
Not only is a homemade curry much healthier and tastier than ready made, it's also cheaper too so if you're watching your wallet this month, try making that Saturday night takeaway or mid-week fix from scratch. The exotic blend of herbs and spices makes a wonderful fragrant flavour that you just don't find in ready made curry sauces or curries.
Get the recipe: Hairy Bikers' chicken curry
Oh we do love a steaming hot bowl of rice pudding, especially when it's been made with love. Ditch those tins and 'pierce the film' tubs for the much more satisfying and oh-so-creamy homemade version. Once you go homemade, you'll never go back.
Get the recipe: Rice pudding
We know how tempting it can be to buy a
family-sized pie or those little individual pies you get in the
supermarkets. They're very handy to have in the freezer but we really do
think that a homemade pie is so much better. They're not only tastier,
but healthier too as you can pack it with fresh meat and veggies and cut
down on the amount of pastry you use - if you wish.
Get the recipe: Chicken and mushroom pie
Whether it's the powder or the ready made pot, custard you buy in the shops just isn't as nice as the homemade version - it's so much smoother and creamier and just well worth all that whisking. It's not practical for every situation but if you've got a little extra time or if it's a special occasion, give it a go.
Get the recipe: Custard
Pot Noodles and Super Noodles are gems when you're short on time but really need something filling for lunch but when you actually stop to look what goes into them, you'll soon be put off. The synthetic flavours just can't compare with those found in a homemade noodle dish. Plus fresh noodles cook in minutes so all you'll really need to spend time on is the flavourings.
Get the recipe: Pork satay noodles
Homemade hot chocolate is to die for. It's luxurious, creamy and much richer than than the powder you buy in supermarkets. It's a proper treat having a homemade hot chocolate so make sure you've got five minutes to yourself to enjoy it!
Get the recipe: Homemade hot chocolate
Have you ever made mayonnaise from scratch before? It's much tastier and lighter than the shop-bought stuff and has a lovely rich yellowy colour and eggy flavour. Give it a go, you'll never look at the jarred stuff the same way again.
Get the recipe: Mayonnaise
Homemade salad dressings are much more flavour packed and tastier than the bottled stuff. Some shop-bought dressings can dramatically increase the calorie count on your salad too - just take a look at our best and worst salad dressing collection. Vinaigrettes and oil-based dressings can be whipped up in seconds and creamier dressings like Caesar are a lot more flavoursome when made from scratch.
Get the recipe: Classic vinaigrette
Sometimes shop-bought croutons can be just a little bit too crispy for our liking. So crispy in fact that they don't even seem to absorb any liquid when popped on top of a soup. That's why we're always making croutons from scratch instead, for softer chunks of bread. Plus it's a great way to use up stale bread too!
Get the recipe: Homemade croutons
Making your own lemonade from scratch is so satisfying and much sweeter than buying it. Fresh lemons and sugar makes homemade lemon a lighter treat for summer months as you can guarantee it has no artificial sweeteners or hidden nasties. You could even get the kids to help you make it too.
Get the recipe: Real lemonade
If you've got bones leftover from your roast chicken or turkey, don't bin them, turn them into stock instead. We know how handy it is to have a few cubes or pots in the cupboard, but freshly made stock will give your dish a more intense flavour - trust us!
Get the recipe: Stock
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