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Cooking From Scratch: Everything You Need to Know

Cooking from scratch is a triple threat. Indeed, learning to cook from scratch allows you to get creative in the kitchen, save money and eat healthier foods.

And here’s the inside scoop: scratch cooking isn’t anywhere near as difficult as it sounds. In fact, several absolute staples of any weekly meal plan can be easily made from scratch.

So, whether you’re looking to ensure your family eats more healthily, or simply want a warm fuzzy sense of accomplishment with every bite, cooking from scratch is your friend.

Ingredients for cooking from scratch

Benefits of Learning to Cook From Scratch

A significantly less daunting task than it may seem, learning how to cook from scratch carries a variety of benefits; both on your plate and off. A few of our favourites include:

  • Fewer processed foods in your diet, which lowers salt, sugar, and saturated fat intake, and helps lower cholesterol.
  • Ingredients can be used for multiple meals, lowering your overall food bill.
  • Cooking fresh meals can serve as valuable family or self-care time.

And there are countless more benefits; from the obvious to the surprising. For example, did you know that cooking from scratch literally makes your food taste better?

It’s true. The anticipation felt whilst preparing a fresh meal starts the digestive process, meaning your body releases endorphins earlier, providing you with a mood boost.

Pasta cooking from scratch

Essential Pantry Items for Learning to Cook From Scratch

Cooking from scratch requires some pre-planning. And your first and foremost concern should be a fully-stocked pantry. (Or, y’know… cupboards.)

A strong selection of ingredients and condiments allows you to be ready for any recipe, and, should culinary inspiration strike, to pivot and infuse a meal with a new flavour. 

And, while everyone’s definition of ‘essentials’ may differ, there’re several staples that everyone learning to cook from scratch should keep in.

scratch cook pantry infographic

Base Ingredients

  • Potatoes
  • Assorted rice (risotto, basmati, brown)
  • Assorted beans (pinto, baked, haricot)
  • Dried fruits
  • Assorted nuts
  • Pasta (linguine, penne, spaghetti)
  • Noodles (egg, rice, cauliflower)
  • Milk or plant-based alternative
  • Butter or plant-based alternative
  • Eggs or plant-based alternative
  • Lentils

Ingredients for Flavour

  • Cooking spray
  • Tomatoes (chopped, pureed, fresh)
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Onions
  • Yeast
  • Oils (vegetable, olive)
  • Soy sauce
  • Chocolate

Meals to Cook From Scratch: Our Picks

Any freshly prepared meal is a meal cooked from scratch. But if you’re just starting out on your scratch cooking journey, you’ll likely want to master some basics first.

So, we’ve dug into the SPAR recipe archives and pulled out several ideal starter recipes:

Each of these recipes makes use of the basic ingredients from your scratch cooking pantry and can be tailored to your tastes; whether switching meat for vegan alternatives or adjusting the spice levels to your preferred notch on the Scoville scale.

Of course, the more experienced you become with scratch cooking, the greater your confidence will be. Think of it like training; you rise through the levels as you learn, and before you know it… POW! You’re a scratch cooking master.

Is Cooking From Scratch Cheaper?

Yes. Yes, it is.

And, despite what you may have heard, cooking from scratch on a budget doesn’t require spreadsheets, ingredient trackers, or any other complex planning. (Unless you’re the planning type, in which case… have at thee.)

It simply requires cupboards stocked with the essentials and a clear idea of which meals you’ll be making.

Using fresh ingredients makes it easier to prepare the exact amount of food you need, thereby reducing food wastage and saving money on surplus ingredients. 

Food cooked from scratch