Video: What Real Food to Make vs Buy (Part 2)

I had the opportunity to share some more of my “Make vs Buy” real food tips on the Charlotte Today Show yesterday. Here’s a copy of the video clip for you and also a summary of the products I discussed on the segment just below.

What Real Food to Make vs Buy

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of cooking from scratch in order to avoid highly processed food. BUT, as I’ve mentioned before, if there’s a perfectly suitable store bought product it’s hard to justify the time to practically duplicate it at home.
Here’s how some popular staples stack up:

Chicken Broth/Stock

Store bought chicken broth not only contains additives you wouldn’t use when making it at home, but it’s also made using factory farmed animals (something we personally like to avoid at all costs). Thankfully making homemade broth is so simple and easy you can literally do it in your sleep using my Overnight Chicken Stock in the Crock Pot recipe. And you can even use veggie scraps and chicken bones that would have ended up in the trash anyway, therefore saving you money in the long run. Oh and I almost forgot to mention – the taste of the homemade version is far superior.
Answer: Make (recommended equipment: slow cooker)


Ketchup is one of those condiments that we just don’t use enough of to justify making from scratch – so you’re off the hook here! During our 100-day pledge when we couldn’t use any refined sweeteners (a standard ingredient in ketchup), I tried making it all different ways with honey and pure maple syrup and it just wasn’t as good as the store bought stuff. So, after our pledge ended it didn’t take me long to decide this had to be incorporated back into our lives as an “exception” to our rules.
Answer: Buy


Deciding if you should make or buy hummus is a toss up – I do both! Making hummus isn’t all that hard, but some days it’s just nice to have one less thing to do. So when I make my monthly stop at Trader Joe’s I do occasionally buy their organic, plain hummus (my favorite store bought brand). It is made with refined oil (another ingredient we like to avoid), but since it’s certified organic at least I know it’s not GMO oils.
Answer: It depends!

Salad Dressing

The reasons for this one were discussed at the very top of my first “Make vs. Buy” list!
Answer: Make (recommended equipment: salad dressing bottle)

Chocolate Sauce

The standard Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup is an unfortunate mix of high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and artificial flavor (no, thank you!). There’s just no need to go that route when it’s SO easy to make your own at home. Simply mix together 1 part unsweetened cocoa (I like the “special dark” variety) with 2 parts pure maple syrup. It takes a couple minutes of stirring for it to fully come together, but when it does you’ll never consider the store bought stuff again!
Answer: Make


This is another one of those condiments that we personally just don’t use a lot of – maybe 1 to 2 tablespoons a month for the whole family. And it’s also another item that I tried desperately to recreate when I could not buy it during our 100-day pledge. But, no matter what I did it just wasn’t the same consistency as the white fluffy stuff out of the jar that I was expecting. Plus many of the recipes I found called for raw egg, which I am on the fence about eating. So as a result, we now just buy the best option I can find and use it sparingly.
Answer: Buy

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52 thoughts on “Video: What Real Food to Make vs Buy (Part 2)”

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  1. I was bummed that you forgot to say in that clip to make sure the ketchup is organic. Any old bottle of ketchup off the shelf is going to have high fructose corn syrup, which you definitely want to avoid, so make sure your store bought ketchup is organic.

  2. One of my friends gave me a fantastic idea for veggie stock. Whenever I cook with vegetables, which is almost every meal, all the little pieces that I cut off and don’t use go into a bag and then in the freezer. When my bag gets full enough I simmer all the contents in a large stock pot and make homemade stock! It literally costs nothing and makes fantastic stock.

  3. Nom Nom Paleo has the best homemade mayo recipe. Super easy and a fluffy and smooth consistancy. I make it once a week and honestly my kids and husband don’t taste a difference from the store bought version. We don’t eat a lot of mayo, but I like to have it on hand for dips, dressings, and tunafish. It is important to me that it tastes good and my family likes it.

  4. I just wanted to quickly post my thoughts on mayo… I have also experimented with homemade mayo with several failures. I have found, however, that you can make absolutely delicious mayo if you use avocado oil. This oil influences the flavor far less than coconut or olive oil and actually gives a pretty fluffy texture (though slightly off-white). I find that the taste is delicious and makes far better cold salads.
    When I decided to make this for a close friend who has children from 2-13 (who’s age makes them sensitive to raw egg), I had to figure out a way to make it safe. This can be done with pasteurized eggs. BUT they are really really hard to find where I live (in Utah). I used to live in Charlotte and shop at the same Earth Fare as Lisa and from what I remember, that might be a good place to find them. I actually get mine at the Air Force base, which is only 15 minutes away from me. They carry them regularly.
    Pasteurized eggs use a form of very low heat pasteurization, while the egg is still in its shell, and it doesn’t cook the egg.
    Also, we don’t eat very much mayo either, but I really like mine, so I ferment it so it lasts a long time Sometimes up to two months when I’ve fermented it. Fermenting is supposed to fix any problems raw eggs would give children, but better safe than sorry if you ask me… Especially where my closest friend’s kids are involved!
    If Lisa ever wants to try the recipe I use, it can be found here: It’s essentially the same except I use only avacado oil and pasteurized eggs. It’s really flavorful =)

  5. Wow, this is such helpful information! Having moved towards a real food diet but having to find a way to make meals while busy with work and family, I understand the urge to sometimes buy staples (or order out!) when it’s not the healthiest thing to do. This article is so helpful to save time on making some items that can easily be store bought :)

    I worked on a meal plan which I offer free to download at Its for busy people with very little time. I’d love your feedback!

  6. Is the unsweetened cocoa for the chocolate syrup the same as baking cocoa? I went to make it and realized I have Hershey’s cocoa and baking cocoa in my cabinet and they both list cocoa as the only ingredient but the nutrition facts are slightly different (different brands). Just curious…Thanks for the easy substitutions you provide. I’ve been posting them on the inside of my cabinet for easy reference!

      1. Thanks! I drink chocolate milk after my workouts so I’m excited to try this substitution! :-)

  7. Hi! I have always been intimidated about making my own mayonnaise but my friend told me about an excellent recipe that is found on the website “Crunchy Betty”– just google Crunchy Betty homemade mayonnaise and it will come up. Something I learned through trial and error is I had to use the same hand blender she did in the picture (which my Mom-in-law has) because when I bought my own higher powered one it over-blended the mixture and it was a flop. If you follow her recipe and use the same hand blender you will make the most tasty mayo you have ever had!! ( I was eating it by the spoonful!!) Love you Lisa– you’re truly inspiring!!!

  8. We buy Hershey’s syrup in bulk. When I saw this, I made the chocolate syrup and my husband loves it! Does it need to be refrigerated?

  9. I love making homemade ketchup! I came up with a really simple honey sweetened, fermented recipe that my husband likes better than store bought ketchup. (And he’s not one to like food just because it’s healthy–it really has to taste good too.)

    I’m with you on everything else, though, except that I’m still working on finding homemade salad dressing recipes that we like as well as the store bought ones.

  10. In Australia it is almost impossible to buy corn syrup (I have had to order it online for some cake decorating applications). We have always have homemade tomato sauce, in fact I won’t allow the bought stuff in our house. I don’t make it but I have friends and parents who and who are kind enough to give us the one or two small bottles we would use in a year. Homemade mayo is sublime but it does require a little effort, we buy Thommy Whole Egg Mayo. Also, hommus, if you have any kind of food processor you’d never buy it. Homemade is infinitely superior.
    What about soy sauce. I buy that, apparently it requires an 18 month fermentation or something!
    I have a friend who buys nothing in a package. That is my next aim. I’m a bit worried about wine though.

    1. Susan, there is a product called Coconut Aminos that is a great substitute for soy sauce. Liquid Aminos is another option, but still soy based. Both are very nutritious and taste just like regular soy sauce.

  11. Like you, I try to make most things from scratch but organic ketchup and mayonnaise I buy. With regards to the mayo, I did make my own for a while but because we don’t use it a lot I was throwing it out after a weeek…therefore buying a jar of the Spectrum just makes more sense. It’s all about balance.

    1. You could try fermenting mayonnaise (lasts several weeks). So easy and so much better than store bought. I tried it to make my children happy as they love mayo. I got the easy recipe from the book Fermenting foods for Dummies. There is a ketchup recipe in there too

  12. Thank you for all the tips! Can you tell us the name of the bottle for making salad dressing that you said you can get at Target or Amazon? Thanks so much. :)

  13. We too use the Ah!laska brand chocolate sauce because I never thought about trying to make my own. That recipe is such a great tip. I will definitely be trying it. Thanks!

  14. I love the recipe for chocolate sauce. Do you have one for strawberry? My youngest wants a little teaspoon of the strawberry mix in his milk. I will not buy the mix anymore, but have not come up with a good replacement solution. Any thoughts?

    1. Julie – I just blend fresh or frozen strawberries in my blender with some milk. I also add a splash of maple syrup and a splash of vanilla. I hope this works for your son!

  15. I skip the chocolate syrup in favor of dark chocolate sauce. My favorite recipe is only 4 ingredients: heavy cream, dark chocolate, sugar (only 1 tbs) and whiskey or rum and can be made in under 5 minutes. Delicious over homemade ice cream!

  16. I think you did a great job Lisa! I would be a bag of nerves on there. You and your blog are a constant inspiration in our house to forgo the processed options.

  17. I generally make my own salad dressing but I love the taste of Girards Champagne dressing. The list of ingredients is quite horrifying but I have never been able to find a recipe for Champagne vinaigrette that tastes as good/the same. Do you have one? Thanks!

    1. I attended a culinary boot camp in Chicago and this dressing is amazing. 1 part Champ. vinegar (1 cup) to 3 parts olive oil (3 cups)
      1 whole bulb of garlic pressed or minced and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste. I hope it is close to what you were looking for.

    1. I make a jar at a time and it keeps really well. Tip: the cocoa will blend in a lot easier if you heat the syrup a little first. Also, a touch of vanilla extract tastes pretty great in this too :)

  18. Thanks for the chocolate sauce tip. All the ones I had seen before we’re more complicated and made so much that we’d never use it all before it was gone. Right now we have Ahh-laska, which is still significantly better than Hershey’s!

  19. Regarding your take on mayo and raw egg:
    You should check out Alton Brown and his show “Good Eats.” He did a whole show about making your own mayonnaise and why the egg is okay. I think he also mentions that if you are really worried about the raw egg, you can get pasteurized eggs some places.

    1. I’ve been wondering if you can gently pasteurize your own eggs… Ever since egg nog season. Then we can use our local, free range pastured eggs :) Any chefs, farmers, someone who has worked at a creamery out there with an idea?

      1. Critical Reader

        Very hard to do. The trick is to keep the egg liquid while using a high enough temperature to kill bacteria. The temperature needed for pasteurization is just slightly below the temperature the egg starts to coagulate.

  20. Although I agree with most of what you’ve said, there are two things that really bothered me.
    Firstly, certified organic does not mean GMO free. This is a common misconception, but take it from someone in the industry with a Masters degree in Food science, one does not equal the other. If you truly want GMO free then purchase certified GMO free products.
    Secondly, mayonnaise is one of the simplest items to make at home. You said you have an issue feeding your children raw eggs, but if proper sterilization and precaution is used the chance of getting sick due to home made mayo is extremely low.

      1. Regarding the safety of eating raw eggs: my husband and 12yo son have been eating chocolate shakes for breakfast for years, made with frozen banana, milk, cocoa, and–the thing I can’t yet stomach–raw egg (all ingredients organic). Neither one has EVER gotten sick on organic raw eggs. While I don’t expect I would get sick from it, I simply find the idea of raw eggs unappetizing. But for those who like the idea, I just wanted to chime in with this decade-long safety record, to put your mind somewhat more at ease. And, wanted to say, I love 100 Days of Real Food–thank you!

      2. Critical Reader

        Why don’t you use a hard boiled egg yolk for making mayonnaise? The egg yolk is used in the recipe for its lecithin, an emulsifier, which is present also in boiled eggs. Milk might work too. Just out of curiosity, if raw egg scares you, do you also not let your kids finish raw cake batter, eat tiramisu, pasta carbonara, etc.?

      3. Yes, we lick cake batter – as I mentioned I am really just on the fence about it (not 100% against it).

    1. Audrey I believe you have mixed up the common misconception. Organic actually does mean GMO free but GMO free does not mean organic. The definition of USDA Organic prohibits the use of GMOs.

  21. My daughter is allergic to corn, and it is difficult to make good tasting corn syrup free ketchup. We were able to find a few organic/corn syrup free ketchups, including Trader Joe’s.