Benefits of cooking from scratch.

Cooking food from scratch is such an important homesteading skill! It means preparing meals using raw ingredients, rather than using processed or pre-packaged foods. If you’re growing and producing your food, you need to know what to do with it in its most natural form.

While it may seem daunting at first if you’re not used to it, cooking from scratch offers so many benefits that can enhance your health, finances, and overall well-being. It’s a worth-while skill for anyone–not just homesteaders!

After World War II, processed foods became more common, and many of us grew up eating them, either prepared according to the package, or in a recipe of some kind. But as we become aware that they’re not the healthiest option, a movement away from packaged foods has grown.

One of the primary benefits of cooking from scratch is that it allows you to have greater control over the ingredients that go into your meals. If you have a food sensitivity like me, it can give you the freedom to eat a customized version of a food you miss, without the unwanted symptoms of eating an offending food included in the “real thing.”

It also allows you to choose organic or locally-sourced produce, or avoid additives and preservatives that are commonly found in processed foods. As a homesteader, it’s a skill that is used all the time to take the food we produce and turn it into delicious meals.

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Cook from Scratch To Eat Healthier

When you start cooking from scratch, you discover that it can provide numerous health benefits. Here are two of them:

Better Nutritional Value

When you cook from scratch, you have control over the ingredients that go into your food and eat “real food.” This means you can avoid excess sugar, salt, and unhealthy oils, and instead opt for nutrient-dense ingredients that provide better nutritional value.

You can use fruits and vegetables fresh and in season instead of canned ones, which often have added sugars and preservatives. You can also choose whole grains instead of refined grains, which are stripped of their fiber and nutrients.

By cooking from scratch, you can ensure that you are getting the most nutritional value out of your food.

Control Over Ingredients

Three hamburger patties are being cooked in a skillet. One is made with pork and chicken, and is a different color.
Making a different “hamburger” patty for one of my boys that doesn’t do well with beef.

Making food from scratch also gives you complete control over the ingredients in your food. This means you can avoid allergens, dietary restrictions, and other food sensitivities.

For example, if you have a gluten intolerance, you can use gluten-free flours and grains in your recipes. If you are allergic to nuts, you can avoid them entirely. I have a nightshade intolerance, so I leave out some common spices like chili powder and paprika.

By cooking from scratch, you can customize your meals to your specific dietary needs and preferences, which can improve your overall health.

Save Money

Cooking from scratch has many economic benefits that can help you save money in the long run.  Here are some of the most significant advantages:


Cooking from scratch is a cost-effective way to feed yourself and your family. For the cost of one meal at a restaurant, I can feed our family of four, sometimes for even less! 

By cooking from scratch, you can also save money by buying ingredients in bulk and taking advantage of sales. Additionally, you can use leftover ingredients to create new meals, reducing the need to buy more food.

Reducing Food Waste

Cooking from scratch can also help reduce food waste, which can save you money in the long run. When you cook from scratch, you can use up ingredients that might otherwise go to waste. For example, you can use vegetable scraps to make stock or turn stale bread into croutons. You can cook parts of the vegetables that otherwise would go to waste. Like this delicious recipe that uses the broccoli stalks.

A pot of chicken stock with chicken bones and vegetable scraps in it.
Chicken stock is a great way to get more use from chicken bones and vegetable scraps!

And if your family won’t eat leftovers (unthinkable in my family, but I know some that don’t) you can get creative and repurpose them into something different and it’s not “leftovers” anymore, it’s “madeovers!” That’s a win for the frugal trend!

Also, cooking from scratch can help you plan your meals more efficiently, reducing the likelihood of buying food that will go to waste. By planning your meals in advance, you can buy only the ingredients you need and avoid buying food that you won’t use. And again, it let’s you use up ingredients that have just been hanging out in the pantry and need to be used.

Environmental Impact

Cooking from scratch not only benefits your health but also has a positive impact on the environment. Here are some ways it can help reduce your environmental impact:

Reducing Packaging Waste

When cooking from scratch, you can purchase ingredients in bulk or buy them in reusable containers. By doing so, you can reduce the amount of packaging waste generated by pre-packaged foods.

Additionally, you can use reusable containers to store your food instead of single-use plastic bags or containers. I always notice that we have far less trash to take to the curb when I’m cooking mostly from scratch as opposed to when I’m more stressed and using convenience food. It’s even worse if we pick up take-out anywhere. So. Much. Packaging!

Lowering Carbon Footprint

Cooking from scratch can also lower your carbon footprint. The production, processing, and transportation of pre-packaged foods require a significant amount of energy and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. By cooking from scratch, you can reduce the amount of energy required to produce and transport your food.

Moreover, you can reduce your carbon footprint by choosing ingredients that are locally sourced and in-season. This reduces the distance your food travels from farm to table, which further lowers the carbon footprint of your meal. And if you really want to shorten the distance your food travels, try growing some of your own!

Personal Enrichment

Food is not just about sustenance. And so cooking is not just about the food itself, but also the process. There are many ways that cooking from scratch can enrich your life. 

Improve Your Skills

Making your meals at home gives you a real sense of accomplishment. And learning to apply the basics of scratch cooking is a big part of that. And once you know the basics, you develop the confidence to build on them and learn new cooking techniques.

You’ll also be able to make all kinds of homemade goodies as gifts and be the favorite person at the party!

A pile of two varieties of green beans on a table. One variety is pink in color before cooking.
I grow a garden, and am working on finding a favorite variety of green beans.

Try New Things

Once you’ve developed some basic cooking skills, you’ll probably want to try some things that you never considered before! New kind of vegetable at the farmer’s market? You’ll have the confidence to look up a recipe–or better yet, ask the farmer how they like to prepare it.

Maybe there’s a particular cuisine you’ve always liked when eating out. Now you can try making it at home.

Boost Creativity

Many cooks start by following recipes, but eventually you gain the confidence to cook without them. You will definitely find yourself customizing recipes to your own taste preferences.

For example, you can adjust the level of spiciness, sweetness, or saltiness in a recipe to suit your taste. This flexibility and freedom to experiment can lead to new and interesting flavor combinations that you may not have discovered otherwise!


If you get the opportunity to prepare your meals with family or friends, you might just find that it’s a wonderful bonding experience. My sons love baking cookies and occasionally helping in the kitchen. It’s an opportunity to spend time together, then enjoy what you prepared afterwards.

Many hands make light work–just make sure only one person salts the food!

I hope you’re now ready to head to the kitchen and cook up something delicious. Cooking from scratch is a wonderful skill that will enhance your life so much!

Want some help to get started? Check out my eBook “In Season: Complete Collection.” It has a meal plan for each of the four seasons with all the recipes to get you going.

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