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Homemade vs The Box - Stroganoff Edition

Last week's article On Cooking from Scratch, I talked about the long and winding list of excuses.  I think the first step is setting yourself up for success by selecting things that are easy to make, budget-friendly, and have familiar easy to find ingredients.  Rushing into making something that was pretty in a magazine doesn't always, in fact rarely, ends up that pretty in your home kitchen.  Start with old standbys and favorites, learn to make those from scratch.  Here's my first round of homemade vs the box.  If you like it, we'll keep going.  Read on...

I went for easy and selected the well known Hamburger Helper as today's example.  Their stroganoff mix includes dry noodles and some packets of powdered seasoning/thickening agents.  To the box mix, you add water, milk, and ground beef.  Nothing fancy and it comes in at Alaska prices as follows:

5 (1cup) servings = $10
That's $2 per serving

If we make a more homemade version, you'll need pasta, cream of mushroom soup, milk, some onion, a clove or two of garlic, and ground beef.  The meat will be browned with the onion and the garlic.  The macaroni will need to be cooked and drained before stirring it into the burger.  The mushroom soup and the milk will be the sauce stir in to replace the powdered mix of mystery ingredients. 

5 (1cup) servings = $10
Also $2 per serving

You can also upgrade the meat to some sort of stirfry or stew meat, add cooked or canned mushrooms and sour cream, these add-ins will also change the cost of the dish slightly.  If you'd like to make the homemade version - check out the Stroganoff recipe.

This what your trip to the grocery store for the ingredients might look like:

From the box:
$1.79 = standoff mix
$6.99 = ground beef
$3.89 = gallon of milk
under $13

$1.19 = elbow maccaroni
$1.19 = can of cream of mushroom soup
$6.99 = ground beef
$3.89 = gallon of milk
$0.90 = onion
$0.79 = head of garlic
under $15

This is assuming you're buying a gallon of milk, a whole onion and head of garlic; and shopping in Interior Alaska.  This does not include swapping the meat for stir-fry or stew meat, nor does it include the addition of mushrooms and sour cream.  The cost will vary, depending on your location, it could be slightly more or less based on your location.

Now that I've debunked the idea that it's cheaper to buy the box, let's look at the "it's to hard" excuse.  In the above example, you're still browning the same meat, you're still stirring in milk, the only differences are the need to boil the macaroni and drain it before adding it to the hamburger and you'll stir in the can of soup instead of some funky seasoning envelope.

That was easy right?  Seriously, I want to know what the attraction is to the world of precessed boxed food and don't tell me it cheap - cause that's not true!  If your family has a favorite meal that you get from a box - lay it on me!  I'll develop a recipe to make that dish more homemade and get you more bang for your buck!