Oct 15, 2019

Top Recipes for Homemade Basics

With the rise of grocery delivery services like Instacart and Shipt, shopping for groceries has never been more convenient. Even though technology is making it easier to get groceries delivered straight to your door, there are better ways to enjoy some of our favorite basics. Too many people fall into the trap of convenience when it comes to pantry and kitchen basics, purchasing staples like sliced bread, granola, and yogurt that are loaded with preservatives and artificial ingredients. We’re here today to let you know that making these basics from scratch doesn’t need to be difficult. We’ve found the definitive recipes that will help you make fool-proof basics tonight!


  • There are tons of different types of bread, so it seems tough to claim that we’ve found the best basic recipe out there.

    However, you’ve never met a loaf of bread that’s easier to make and more delicious than Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread, which basically has a cult following of its own. It takes less than five minutes to mix the dough together. Moreover, you only need four ingredients — and one of them is water.

    Once the dough is mixed, it stands at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours, then gets flopped into a searing-hot Dutch oven. After an hour in the oven, you’ll be rewarded with a deep golden, crusty loaf that tastes unbelievably good.

  • Pesto is one of those things that takes a lot of work but is 100 percent worth all the fuss.

    While there are recipes that use a food processor to make pesto quickly and easily, the most traditional way is to use a mortar and pestle. It gives the pesto a rich, silky taste that you won’t get from a food processor. This is because the processor cuts rather than mashes the tender basil leaves.

    Although your arm might be a bit sore after you’ve mashed all the basil, pine nuts, and garlic cloves by hand, you’ll be rewarded with deeply flavorful pesto that can be added to pasta or sandwiches.

  • For some people, making mayonnaise from scratch is a hard sell. After all, it’s less than $4 per jar and lasts forever in the fridge. However, once you’ve tasted homemade mayonnaise and realized the possibilities for this delicious condiment, it’s hard to go back to store-bought.

    Homemade mayonnaise is simply an emulsion of egg yolk and oil, flavored with anything from mustard to Worcestershire sauce to garlic. Once you’ve whipped up homemade mayo, you can flavor it with pesto, garlic, or sriracha to make an amazing French fry sauce or use it as a base for homemade salad dressing. The possibilities are endless.

  • If you’re going to make salad dressing from scratch, the least you can do is take a few extra minutes and whip up some homemade croutons. Store-bought croutons are packed with tons of extra oils and preservatives.

    Homemade croutons make use of old bread, which is the most delicious recycling you’ll ever do. Sprinkle a little bit of shaved Pecorino or Parmesan on the top as soon as they come out of the oven and they’re totally transcendent.

  • Another hard sell for some people is homemade pasta. After all, boxed pasta is available from everywhere and it’s cheap. However, we’re not here to tell you that homemade pasta is easier than store-bought; we’re here to tell you it’s better.

    One simple dough — made with flour, eggs, and salt — makes several servings of the most incredible light, flavorful, chewy pasta that’s equally at home under a rich, meaty ragu as it is lightly sauced with pesto and olive oil. A pasta maker makes rolling out your dough easier, but if you only have a rolling pin or wine bottle, you can still have this for dinner tonight.

    These noodles cook in under three minutes and can be frozen and cooked directly from the freezer.

  • Granola is a great alternative to reach for if you’re used to sugary breakfast cereals. It’s got the same crunch but offers a lot more fiber and protein. Eat it over top of yogurt, cover it in milk, or sprinkle it over a smoothie — it never gets old.

    This recipe is super basic. Plus, it allows you to swap out any of the flavors or additional ingredients, so you can make it your own. All you need is 4.5 cups of oats, half teaspoon salt, and a two-third cup of liquid ingredients like melted butter, coconut oil, or maple syrup. You can throw in any type of nut or seed you like to customize it to your taste.

  • Yogurt is another food that most people don’t realize is incredibly easy to make.

    The rise of convenient pressure cookers like the Instant Pot has made it a lot easier, but people have been making yogurt at home for centuries. Moreover, it’s a lot cheaper than its store-bought equivalent.

    For less than $3, you can make a huge pot of yogurt, which would likely cost upwards of $5 to $10 in stores. Plus, it isn’t made with artificial preservations, but still can last at least a week in the fridge. You can strain it to make it thicker — like Greek yogurt or Icelandic skyr — or flavor it with additions like vanilla extract and fruit purees.

  • A few simple herbs transform an ordinary can of tomatoes into something perfect for pizza, pasta, or lasagna. There are a lot of different varieties of tomato sauce you can make, ranging from quickly-simmered sauces flavored with butter and onion to slow-cooked sauce with incredible oven-roasted depth.

    Tomato sauce freezes extremely well. Plus, it can be dumped into a Ziploc bag and frozen flat, so it takes up almost no freezer space.

    Once you’ve made one of these essential tomato sauce recipes, you’ll never go back to the stuff that comes out of a jar.

  • For this recipe, you’ll need a food processor that can quickly blitz ingredients into a paste. Great hummus is made with just a few ingredients:

    • Chickpeas;
    • Tahini;
    • Garlic, and;
    • Lemon.

    The chickpeas can be soaked overnight. After that, the recipe takes less than 15 minutes of active time.

    This recipe for Israeli-style smooth hummus is best served warm but tastes great eaten straight out of the fridge. If you like your hummus on the chunkier side, feel free to puree for less time or reserve a scoop of cooked chickpeas to add in at the end.

  • Real guacamole, made with fresh avocado, absolutely eclipses anything you can buy in a store. There are so many different varieties that it seems like everyone has their own individual way of preparing the guac they love.

    If you’re just using basic aromatics like chili peppers, cilantro, onion, and lime, go the extra mile and pound them together in a mortar and pestle. Although it adds an extra step, it guarantees silky smooth, totally delicious guac that won’t burn your mouth with giant pieces of chili pepper.

  • Homemade stock or broth is a great way to use up bones and vegetable off-cuts that would otherwise go into the trash. If you want to experiment with making your own stock or broth at home, start collecting these off-cuts in advance.

    Stick a Ziploc bag in your freezer. Add in veggie peels, chicken or beef bones, Parmesan rinds, anything with flavor. Once the bag is full, dump it in a stockpot, cover it with water, and in one to two hours you’ll have rich, flavorful stock.

  • Any barbecue aficionado will tell you that there are almost as many different barbecue sauces out there as there are chefs. Every tradition has its own recipe.

    This all-purpose recipe is a two-for-one. It uses a flavorful mix of dried herbs and spices to make a rub, which can be used on the meat, then added into the sauce later to boost its flavor.

  • A hot summer day isn’t complete without a tall glass of lemonade.

    This recipe gives the perfect proportions for lemonade that’s both sweet and tart. Plus, it can be used as the base for a hundred different variations. While using simple syrup instead of sugar adds an extra step, it’s worth it.

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