by Texas Homesteader ~
I can’t help but wonder – is cooking like grandma did becoming a lost art? It seems cooking today has just gotten so complicated. Fancy recipes, processed foods, specialty ingredients and complicated cooking methods. Come see how to simplify cooking.
Cooking Like Grandma Did
I prefer to cook like our grandmothers did, starting with foods in their most unprocessed state whenever possible. For instance, I’d rather slice a raw jalapeno than to open a can of commercially-processed peppers.
And I prefer to cook a handful of green beans from the garden instead of relying on a bag of frozen veggies bought at the store. Or a nice roast instead of a plastic tray of purchased frozen pre-cooked roast.
Benefits of Home Cooking
Eco-Friendly – One of the main reasons I enjoy serving home-cooked meals is environmental impact. Y’all know me – I tend to be an eco warrior! And it stands to reason that much less trash will typically be produced when you begin with foods in their least processed state.
Healthier Food – Another benefit to from-scratch cooking is that by using actual ingredients instead of convenience mixes, you’re usually consuming much less salt, fat and preservatives. You’ll probably be able to recognize (and pronounce!) every ingredient in your homemade food as opposed to that long list of weird-sounding ingredients listed on the boxes of purchased convenience foods. And eating delicious food that’s fresh and healthy are both good things, yes?
Lower Cost – For most of us, we’re looking to feed our families affordably. And surprise of surprises a huge benefit of from-scratch cooking? Cost savings!
Providing For Ourselves & Saving Money Too
You see, RancherMan and I are living our dream. We now live & work together full time right here at our homestead. We’ve been able to do that because we’re very careful with our finances.
I’ve written before about how we live and thrive here even without the Benefit of a Corporate Salary. I encourage you to read that post – it has a little something for everyone.
But living here – even on a meager budget – offers us a life that we love. A life true to our values. It certainly doesn’t feel like a life of sacrifice in any way.
And one of the easy ways we stretch the budget is by enjoying delicious home-cooked meals.
Home-cooked meals? Yeah, tough life huh??
I don’t enjoy cooking, don’t get me wrong. But cooking from scratch is a huge money saver. HUGE.
Homemade Doesn’t Have To Mean Complicated
Now some people really enjoy cooking. They find it a relaxing creative outlet. Working in the kitchen and setting down that beautiful platter of artfully-made food to provide for their family speaks to their very souls.
On the other hand, some folks would almost rather scrub the floors with a toothbrush or clean toilets than to be in the kitchen.
I’m somewhere in between I think. I usually enjoy cooking simple meals and even the occasional more complex meal. But cooking is certainly far from a favored hobby for me.
A typical meal made in my Homestead kitchen isn’t usually fancy at all. I may serve a pork roast, potatoes and carrots for supper. Just good old-fashioned cooking, y’all!
We don’t always eat desserts. But when the mood strikes I might add a simple homemade apple crumble for dessert too.
If I’m lucky all of these ingredients came directly from our own homestead. Everything from the harvested vegetables from the garden to the roast provided by RancherMan’s Harvested Wild Hogs from our property.
But even if I had to buy some of these ingredients they are typically purchased as whole, healthy foods.
Don’t get me wrong I’ll use convenience foods from time to time when circumstances dictate. That’s because I realize it’s all about balance. But whenever possible I strive to cook like grandma did.
Grocery Shopping Grandma’s Way
Our grandmother’s grocery shopping probably looked very different than what’s in the typical grocery cart today.
Grandma’s cart was filled with sugar and flour, fresh carrots and milk, baking supplies and fresh meats. These are the ingredients she’d use to feed her family.
But today’s grocery shelves are packed with newfangled and brightly-colored attention-grabbing boxes and bags, pouches and cans.
The advertising powers-that-be use those bright colors and bold print to catch your eye. They sure know how to attract attention, don’t they?
I’m not judging here, just noticing the consumer shift.
But reading the nutritional information on some those boxes and bags can be shocking. After noticing those complicated ingredients on the back of packages, I felt it was time to jump in the kitchen and take back control of my family’s health.
I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that grandma’s type of cooking was really much easier than I thought.
The biggest benefit is realized when I don’t try to complicate mealtimes with fancy or time-consuming recipes. I cook simple yet delicious meals like grandma did.
Grandma’s Supper Table
How many of you can keep your mouth from watering when you think about grandma’s cooking? Of course you can’t.
If your grandma was like mine, she was an awesome cook! And we all looked forward to sitting at her table and enjoying her home-cooked goodness.
Most of those veggies served at her supper table were fresh because they were probably grown right outside her back door in the veggie garden. And her famous dessert was more than likely whipped up from memory, not even using a recipe card.
Seldom was a meal at grandma’s table something overly fancy or froufrou. It was usually simple, abundant and absolutely delicious.
At my grandma’s house, no one walked away from that table hungry, that’s for sure!
My point here is that mealtimes need not be complicated to be delicious.
Easily Building Your Cooking Skills
If you’re not yet an accomplished cook, take things slowly and build your cooking skills little by little. Go ahead & get those favored recipes from your own family members and start making them regularly.
Or feel free to take a look at My Favorite Recipes and choose a simple recipe that sounds good to you and give it a go.
I promise you, I make sure that cooking in my own kitchen is not going to be hard or complicated! (see note about about my dislike for unnecessary toiling in the kitchen! HA!)
Then choose another recipe to try. And then another…
Although it may take a little time initially to perfect your methods and recipes, soon whipping up something delicious from scratch will evoke those wonderful memories of sitting at grandma’s table.
And let’s face it, cooking this way is bound to be not only significantly cheaper but healthier for you and your family as well!
Links In This Post:
- How Would Grandma Do It?
- Making Ends Meet Withouth a Corporate Salary
- Home-cooked Meals Daily The EASY Way!
- Planned Leftovers: Pork Roast
- Homemade Apple Crumble Recipe
- Harvesting Wild Hogs
My Favorite Recipes
How Grandma Would Do Things
- Living Life Like Grandma
- Grandma-Approved Cleaning Techniques
- Caring For Grandma’s Cast-Iron Cookware
- Stuck-On food? How To Easily Clean A Cast-Iron Skillet
- Using Grandma’s Vintage Corning Ware
- Why Doesn’t Junior Want Grandma’s Fine China?
- Living Deliberately & Naturally: Voluntary Simplicity
- Using It ALL – Eliminating Leftover Food
- Easy Self-Sufficiency Steps You Can Take Now
See All Our Frugality Posts
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I love this and agree with your sentiment 100% – sometimes we overthink our cooking and complicate things. Keep it simple with real food and all will be well. 🙂
Great post! I would love to have some of the recipes my Grandmother never wrote down! I guess those are gone forever! I definitely agree with you about the processed foods – if you can’t pronounce the ingredients there’s a problem here! Blessings, Janet
I totally agree with your sentiments. I think many families have gotten so much busier with work and extra-curricular activities that squeezing in a homemade meal seems out of reach. I’m learning to find a balance myself between busyness and home cooked meals (most of the time anyway). Meal planning has helped tremendously!
I do a mix of both. Definitely our culture has swung from cooking from scratch to convenience. I think it’s because everyone is so busy with both parents working and kids in activities that it’s fallen by the way. If you earn less income sometimes cooking from scratch is a necessity and cheaper.
Yes, Charlotte, it’s a culture shift as you mentioned probably due to both parents working. Heck when my kids were young I did whatever I had to do to get them fed quickly. I’m in another place in my life as empty nesters with RancherMan so I’m afforded the time to stop & think about my routines. I’ve been able to get meals on the table quickly by utilizing the cook-once, eat-twice method of cooking. Oh if I’d only done that in my earlier years, homemade meals would have been just as fast to put on the table than the convenience stuff. But, you know, sometimes with age comes wisdom. LOL
You did it again, your post was picked as the most LOVED last week in Simple Saturdays Blog Hop…CONGRATS!! I personally love your post. I did not have the advantage of growing up with my grandmother, but was surrounded by adopted ones and I too have fond memories of being out in the garden picking fresh veggies…especially green beans…and bringing them into the kitchen and cooking them up for dinner. Thank you for the amazing post, food and family pics!
Farm fresh and simply made…the best way to serve a meal.
I know I love cooking with the most whole and fresh ingredients I can. We may not yet get organic vegetables and fruits, but we sure do limit the amount of boxes/bags we purchase. Outside of bread, cereal, and pasta, we don’t really buy any boxes. And our biggest consumption of cans is for tomato paste…only because I haven’t quite mastered that yet. Now, that we’re also able to start a small garden of our own, I anticipate even more fresh and (yes) better ingredients for us! 🙂
Sounds about like us – we limit the amount of boxes/bags we purchase as well. I’ve finally mastered making granola and sandwich bread so I’ve added them to my list of homemade, but since we’re empty nesters I’m afforded the time to do so – I couldn’t even begin to have time for that when we still had children at home. We’re all in different places in our lives with different needs.
Tammy what a great post! I can’t remember when I last bought something pre-packaged. I love cooking with old-fashion recipes that only require good old-fashion pantry items…just like our Grandmothers did!
As old as I am, I am blessed that I can remember my grandmothers cooking, my fav was her corn chowder, and I can also remember the room she stored all of the food she canned. Shelves of beautiful colored foods…..
Simple meals with basic ingredients are the best. We just went to my grandparents and ground some corn meal. Cannot wait to cook with that. Thanks for sharing on Rural Wisdom and Know How.
I feel the same way as you do! I do buy some convenience foods, but try to buy as much that is in it’s natural state. Plain rice and noodles instead of the package with all of the flavors add, meat from the butch section rather than the frozen food isle, fresh vegetables or frozen, but if I do go with frozen, it’s just straight vegetables, not a cheesy mix.
Dinners at my grandmothers were all from scratch. Even though our grandmothers cooked with full fat dairy, butter, Crisco and fried their chicken in oil and didn’t exercise for the sake of exercise, their generation didn’t battle weight issues the way we do. I believe it is because they didn’t eat processed food and general household activities took more energy than our conveniences offer. Just washing dishes required scrubbing that our non-stick pans, Pam sprayed baking dishes and dishwashers eliminate for us. I’m not complaining about the conveniences…but eliminating processed food as much as possible would make us all healthier.
I just jumped over from “From the Farm Blog Hop.” Beautiful article. I am trying to cook the way my grandmothers did. I so wish they were still here to answer my questions, and just so I could tell them how much I appreciate all the hard work they put into caring for their families.
I couldn’t agree more. Most folks today don’t give a thought to what they put into their grocery cart. We scratch cook and plan to keep it that way. I’m not as good a cook as my momma was, but we eat clean food. We also prepare very simple, basic meals. When the ingredients are fresh, you don’t need a lot of stuff to cover up the taste. Enjoy!
I still like to kook the way grandma did, except we make more salads a raw food than she did.
Simple meals are usually the best…a nice fancy dish here or there is ok but the old standbys work for me, generally !
For instance, Every once in awhile a box mix of Betty Crocker potatoes ( Cheesy ) will be used here but for the most part it is baked, oven crisped, mashed ( home made ) and so on. It just tastes so much better, and fresh vegetables …oh yes! 🙂
This is exactly how I feel! While I don’t live on a ranch, I SO want to simplify my life and simplify my cooking. Thank you for the inspiration! I would love to re-blog this post sometime if you don’t mind. Now… I’ve got to go put a roast in the crock pot. 🙂
It’s true what you say. If you stick to the outside perimeter of most grocery stores and stay out of the inner aisles, you’ll tend to have a healthier shopping cart when you check out. I’ve gotten bad about the convenience thing lately, trying to get back to fresher! Take care – Dawn @ We Call It Junkin.com
The marketing folks are good at what they do, convincing us it’s just too hard to cook for our families. But in my experience by keeping meals both simple & delicious, a wholesome home-cooked meal can be served in about the same time as those meals from a box or bag. I do it by making my own convenience foods – the cook-once-eat-twice method.
Good article and times certainly have changed but I really believe people are starting to see the dangers in processed and going back to some of the old ways. So much better for our health and the environment. Twitted.
Marla, I think you’re absolutely right, more & more people are shying away from boxed processed foods. Now if we can just get back to ‘simple’ home-cooked meals instead of wearing ourselves ragged trying to follow acclaimed chefs complicated gourmet recipes, maybe we wouldn’t get so burned out on cooking wholesome food for our families…
There were so many more real farms and farmers in Grandma’s day. We are slowly trying to do it all ourselves.
For a city girl, this first year has been quite a surprise.
I wish I’d had the sense to learn from my Granny. She did not raise her own, living in the city; but there was a great Farmer’s Market back then.
Thanks for a great post.
I too have similar memories. My Mama is very much the same ways as Grandma. I hope that I can strive to be half the woman and cook either of them were and are. Great post. Love, love, love the old black and white photo.
Thanks for sharing!
Great post!! I would go for grandmas cooking anyday!
Good for you! Not only is the food probably healthier, and tastier, but probably less expensive than using processed foods. I mostly cook “from scratch” like my mom and grandmother did, but I added dishes which they never had growing up in the South., like pizza, brussel sprouts, Mexican food, etc. The only thing I haven’t made in a long time is biscuits. Mine are awful, so I buy frozen ones. 🙂 I really need to practice making them more.
Visiting from Thrifty Things Friday.
Babs, I had the hardest time making biscuits that were not dry & hard and I found 3 things made all the difference in the world: 1) When you cut the butter (or shortening) into the flour mixture, leave little pea-sized chunks of butter/shortening intact. 2) Roll them just a little more thickly than you think you need to and 3) don’t over-bake them. I think after many trials & errors I’ve finally come to the place where I can present some amazingly tender and delicious biscuits. Give it a try. ~TxH~
That’s the kind of cooking I’m trying to get back to – basics, real ingredients, not out of a packet!
Tammy, this post made me smile and tear up at the same time. I’ve always loved how my mom cooked and still can almost taste her pea soup and biscuits! This is delightful 🙂 Thank you SO much for sharing of your heritage and memories! Blessings and hugs to you!
Stopping in by way of Sunny Simple Monday.
Home cooking is the best, fresh local produce is heaven!!
I am waiting for the heatmto abate so I can pick raspberries and blueberries – I will make jam and freeze some blueberries.
I cook very differently from my mother. She had a very limited variety of recipes. I do feel close to her when I cook one of her meals or dishes. I especially like the things handed down from my grandma to my mom to me.
I completely agree! 🙂 Some of the best things that I cook are the simplest ones with the freshest ingredients…and yes my grandparents cooked from their garden 🙂 Love your post…
I still cook like my grandmothers and my mother.
For years I did my own canning and freezing of veggies etc. Not so much these days, but I still try to serve plain ol’ country meals. I made a big pot of green beans and potatoes today, for tomorrow’s meals. As we all know they are always better the second day. Just like the vegetable soup I made yesterday. It really doesn’t take a lot of time to cook like grandma.
We moved from the farm about 10 years ago. Our gardening, these days, is mostly flowers with a few tomato plants. I am married to a “farm boy” who lived on that farm nearly 60 years. I am happy to say, I have three daughters, who cook like their grandmothers and mother, also. That kind of cooking is alive and well. My granddaughter recently married. She appreciates the art of preparing plain and simple, delicious, delightful, nutritious meals. We hope to carry on that tradition with the younger g’kiddos, who really like that kind of cooking.:-) Of course, now and then, I try something new and so do the girls.
This is a wonderful post!
I have always cooked in much the same way. I’ve never been able to tolerate foods with a lot of preservatives so I learned at a very young age to cook from scratch. We don’t have a garden anymore but we use fresh ingredients when ever possible.
My Nana is a great cook, she just turned 95 this year. It is amazing the differences that have happened over the past 100 years when it comes to food and what people are making. There are definitely times when I get sucked into the “convenience” trap, but then feel worse after I eat those types of foods. And honestly, the food just tastes better with fresh herbs and seasonings at home.
Did you know my grandmother? This is a beautiful post. My grandmother cooked delicious meals from real simple ingredients and every recipe was from memory. When she passed away everyone wanted her “magic skillet”. It must be magic because everything that came out of it was so delicious. She cooked with lard, bacon and brown eggs that she got from the farmer. She made pies from scratch and there was always plenty to eat. She never complained about being too busy to cook a meal. I wish I would have cooked with her more when she was still around. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post with us.
I love the “Grandma” way of cooking… you can pronounce all of the ingredients! Eggs, beef, chicken, beans, broccoli, etc rather than Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) or butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) for example.
I think Grandma’s cooking was better than a lot of the recipes today! If I find an old recipe, I usually give it a dry because people back then knew how to cook!
The boxes–ugh! I recently heard this conversation in the grocery store (which, if there were more farmers’s markets and/or produce stands, I spend even LESS time in!):
Woman #1: But I don’t even know HOW to make that.
Woman #2: It’s easy! Just follow the directions on the box.
Really, I can’t make this up! At least an effort is being made at some type of make-at-home food preparation.
Thank you for this post. I have fond memories of Gram’s and Mama’s cooking, both of whom were excellent cooks and teachers.
Yep. I can’t cast any stones there because that was *SO* me after I moved out, got married & had my children. I didn’t slow things down to the traditional way of life until after the kids had gone through their toddler years – I truly never even thought about it. But it was those sweet childhood memories that made me want to live the way grandma did and even now I’m working more & more toward it!
It’s the memories of my Grandparents cooking, sewing, knitting and gardening that has made me want to do it in my ‘adult’ life (are we ever really grown ups 😉 ). I have a rich childhood and it’s something I want to create for my children. We’ve been eating from scratch for years, and there are days that I really ponder over how much work it really is. A couple of days ago I spent 2 hours shelling favas only to end up with 2 cups and last nights pot of mint pea soup required 5.5 cups of peas- which took HOURS to shell.
but in the end, I know where my food came from, how it was grown, how it was harvested and then turned into a meal as a family and I can only hope I am creating strong enough memories for my children and eventually grandchildren.
I try and cook like Grandma also. It gives me great satisfaction to sit down to a meal and know that everything there was harvested from the land and only simple ingredients were purchased (sugar,salt,flour).
Good post! 🙂
I also love to cook like Grandma did. The simplicity of the meals and the use of whole foods and fresh ingredients is very satisfying. I try not to judge others but it is rather discouraging to see the “food” in some of the carts at the grocery store.
Thanks Candy. Like you I don’t judge others for what they purchase in the grocery store, I know in a different season of my life with young children and a new household I certainly bought my fair share of prepackaged food. It’s just that I’m surprised that it’s not nearly as hard as I thought it would be to learn to cook simple yet wholesome meals. Hopefully this can be encouragement for others out there ready to make a change.
I can cook fried chicken with gravy, and roast beef with noodles just like my grandmothers did. Those are the only two dishes that render me unable to put my fork down. I can’t say the same for their vegetable cooking methods.
I strive to cook like my grandmothers did – veggies and all! Grandma often strolled out back & picked the veggies that would accompany our meal right from her garden (man I loved that!) Or she would pull a shiny jar of home-canned produce from her pantry. Wonderful memories… ~TxH~
Tammy I agree Grandma’s cooking is a lost art….no one has time to prepare a meal these days everything has to be done so quickly! Your veggies and your meal you made in this post look fabulous! I have to say sometimes my Grandparents would keep things simple and just pull out snacks etc…but they always made time for us and we would sit around the table and talk and talk I sure miss both of them. Thanks for this wonderful post!
Karen, I remember my grandmothers cooking as being very simple meals. I think oftentimes I tried to complicate things with recipes I found in magazines, that included fancy ingredients, complicated instructions and tons of dirty dishes. I think it discouraged me and I just quit trying for awhile. Then it occurred to me to cook like grandma did! Now I still don’t LOVE to cook, but I enjoy it enough to put a good wholesome tasty yet simple meal on the table. I think simplicity was key for me. Thanks for your comment! ~TxH~