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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Buy Vs.Make

The question about what we make and what we buy and why/how we've made those choices was posed to me today.That's a good question with an answer that is always in flux.

The fluctuations mostly depend on the variables,time,money and did anyone like it.Sometimes it's all about one of those and sometimes it can be all three.Yet there are a few things we do simply because we love what we are doing.Moments of passion can be blinding and make one look a bit foolish to some but that is love for you.

The one thing we do that is highly debated is raising our own chickens for their eggs.Is it really cost effective? I have yet to figure that one out.I think the start up of chickens can be a big dip into the pockets but once you have established your flock and coop things kind of balance out over time.

Right now we are spending around $30 a month on feed and get an average of 150 eggs from 8 birds.That comes out to about 12.5 dozen eggs which costs out to around $2.50 a dozen.You can buy eggs for that but do you know where they come from? Most likely they are not organic free range eggs either.(None of this factors in the start up costs.I left that out because we have had our coop for many years now and our flock is 3 years old.) If I sell the extra eggs this would be different of course but I give the extras away a lot of the time.

One thing not factored in to the eggs and chickens is all of that free lovely manure they make for us for the compost.In my mind having free manure that feeds the compost,that feeds the garden ,that feeds us is the biggest bonus ever. So I think for us the chickens are cost efficient and a passion.How can one not love chickens?

The talk of eggs brings up the making of homemade Mayo.We are always looking for ways to use up the extra eggs and so Chance started to make our own Mayo.It's super easy to do and very good but there were a couple of issues.The one person who was eating the Mayo most did not like it,while the other three of us who liked it could not eat it up fast enough.Issac won that one and we went back to store bought. It's not thrifty or smart if it's going to go to waste.

The baking of bread is always up and down here.The cost is so cheap that's never an issue.Mostly it's about time since no one ever complains about having fresh bread to eat.I am finding that although we love it my days at work tend to eat up the time it takes to bake bread.I have come straight home from work to bake the bread but ended up staying up a bit later than I wanted.Also do to changes in our eating habits the bread is not eaten quickly so is it worth the time spent making it? I love baking but if no one is going to eat what I bake I will move on.

Chance really enjoys making bacon for us but it's not a low budget item but the end product is worth it.Bacon is one of the few things that is all about the love and passion blinding us.

When we started canning our own stuff I was not sure if it was any cheaper or not.I bought my canning kettle used and jars have been easy to find either on sale new or second hand but it all did cost.I think canning is like starting up with chickens,you pay out more at the start than you do later on.

We have the added benefit that our garden is now able to produce most of what we need for canning jams.That has taken us 4 years to achieve and from here on out we may not have to buy fruit for jam.Well,apples we will still need to buy but berries we have plenty of.

Now Sauerkraut, that is off our list of things to make.We did one year,it was really easy and not much in costs but it made a dozen jars.After a few months we realized that we don't even eat Sauerkraut all that often.We like it but if it's just going to sit forget it.I know some people hang on to their canned goods for a few years but that kind of freaks me out.I want to eat up what we have canned by the next growing season for the item.I don't know why it makes me squeamish,it just does.

Once Chance priced a few of the things we had canned that would be equal to what we made and it looked like it was slightly less than buying.The amount of time it takes to can your own food is never paid attention to at our house,it's all about the love of good food.

Growing a garden is a must for us.It saves us money,we are blinded by it's bounty and we only grow what we will eat so no waste.For example,we are on our second picking of Snow Peas,we picked about a pound yesterday. We grow an organic garden and buy organic seed packets for around $2.50- $3.00 each.I have not checked the price per pound for organic Snow Peas this week but I bet the ones we are growing have already paid for themselves.I always figure that after I have picked one picking I have probably evened things out cost wise,after that in my book it's like eating for free.

I think this question is kind of a hard one to pin point.We cook a large portion of our food from scratch,close to 90% of it because it is a money saver,Chance and I are passionate about cooking and as a family we prefer the taste of homemade foods.Besides these points we consider the impact on health as well.

Over the years we have tried making all sorts of things,some were good and some were not.At this point the good ones are around and so ingrained into our pantry I don't really notice them anymore.After thinking this through with Chance we think the whole buy VS make issue for us is all about how much time we have.There has yet to be a project that was a total loss to us.We did whatever it was for the experience of doing it for ourselves.When things like the sauerkraut happen we just chalk it up as something learned and move on.
***Ah, Chance just added " Or the Hay bale garden from way back at the start of the blog.That was a total fail on every level we are talking about, it cost us money,we hated it and it failed." Yup that was an epic fail.

Some things are more time consuming eating this way and that can be a drag.There are days when I come home from work and think "Ah Crap!,Dinner." I will be honest here,Chance cooks most dinners during the week,he's home before me so it has fallen on him.On those nights it's all about getting something on the table before we are all ready for bed.That's where eating out comes into play or just some quick meal like Breakfast for Dinner.

Lately the one thing I really,really wish I could buy for us is a housekeeper who came daily.I would much rather spend my home time outside in the garden or working on some fun project. Wishes are nice to have aren't they?

What are things you make VS buy and why?



  1. While I cannot come to your house daily, maybe we could work something out where I came once a week and did some chores as a swap for other things, like garden food. Maybe some of whatever your least favorite things were... bathroom? dusting? ???

    1. Alison,that is actually something we have been talking about.Chance and I both feel a bit bogged down by the quantity of work on our plates (a soon to be blog posting)and how to lighten our load a bit.

      Chance is all for it,it is me that thinks "But this is my house I am able, I should be doing all of this." That's me and my House Pride chewing her nails.

      I will be in touch soon.

  2. I like cooking from scratch for many of the same reasons: control and knowledge over what is in it, where the ingredients came from, ability to tune the dishes to our tastes.

    Many of the things I buy are on my "someday I'd like to make myself" list. Case in point, Trader Joe's Peach Salsa. I am so looking forward to peach season this year, but I digress.

    I think the key to bread is figuring out how to work it into the rhythm of the day. I sometimes use overnight doughs. King Arthur has a nice no kneed whole wheat that doesn't take very long. I am still looking for a good refrigerator or freezer dough.

    To me the most difficult thing is forecasting. If we are going to be busier than usual, I like to cook ahead. But sometimes I get caught with too much food in the fridge that seems to all need to be eaten now.

    1. Hmmm,I had forgotten about refrigerator dough.I have an alright recipe that I might be able to tinker with to make it better.Thanks for the reminder.

      Forecasting is hard here too and it seems we are always busy.

  3. Well, I buy almost everyone. I do cook most of my meals, and I grow some vegetables. In the winter I had a ton of lettuce, and I did like that.

    1. Margaret,you buy everyone? Impressive.LOL.