20 Times When Cooking From Scratch Isn't Worth the Trouble

Two Images, Roasted Chicken in a Cooking Pan and a Person Making Ice Cream

Cheapism / GMVozd/istockphoto / Richard Carson/istockphoto

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Two Images, Roasted Chicken in a Cooking Pan and a Person Making Ice Cream
Cheapism / GMVozd/istockphoto / Richard Carson/istockphoto

Don't Even Bother

When someone says, “it’s homemade,” one commonly expects a deliciously healthy meal. However, the homecook often spends copious amounts of time and money, and it usually doesn’t even taste better than store-bought. Also, just because it is homemade doesn’t make it healthy!

Here are 20 reasons why cooking from scratch isn’t always better — and why you might want to consider buying store-bought or just eating in a restaurant instead.

Tater Tots

1. Tater Tots

“One of my biggest accomplishments in the kitchen was homemade tater tots. You do a quick fry of the potatoes, shred them once they cool, mix in any herbs or spices you’d like, then form them into tots and fry a second time,” said one Reddit user. “They turn out well and are super tasty, but I’ll be damned if they aren’t 99% identical to the frozen ones you get at the store.” And how long did all that take? 

Thai Red Curry Paste

2. Curry Paste

“A number of my legit Thai cookbooks have the recipes for curry paste — and straight up tell you it's not worth it, and that store-bought is just as good,” said another homecook.

Making Sushi

3. Sushi

“I think it's a pain in the ass, to properly cook and season the rice, to obtain all the ingredients (avocados here are notoriously expensive), and the fish is pricey,” said one cook. “I'd rather pay the $50 to go to a decent place. And I'm of the mind that I don't ever want to pay for anything that I can make better at home and I love discovering new sushi and Japanese joints, so we trust the guy who spent two years of his sushiprenticeship just washing and seasoning rice to be our master.” 


4. Pho

“You could spend two full days and about $100 dollars making your own bowl of Vietnamese pho at home, or just go get a bowl made for you for $10-15 at a pho restaurant,” said one Reddit user. “It’s not worth it to make yourself!”

Homemade Roasted Chicken Coming Out of Oven

5. Roasted Chicken

“Maybe a hot take, but in my part of the world, grocery store rotisserie chicken will always be easier and cheaper than making chicken by roasting, boiling, etc. for any recipe calling for shredded or diced chicken,” said one homebook. “What’s more, you can save the carcass for soup or stock!”  

Related: 5 Things Worth Making From Scratch To Save Money, According to Redditors

Hand With Fried French Fries

6. Deep Fried… Anything

“Deep-fried anything will result in you spending far more time cleaning up than you will cooking or eating whatever you've deep-fried,” pointed out one homebook. “There are very few notable exceptions to this.”

Woman Making Apple Strudel

7. Strudel

Another homecook pointed out how difficult strudel is to make at home. “One day I worked all day to make some,” they said. “The result was good, but so is the stuff I can get for a few bucks at the store.”

Almond Milk

8. Almond Milk

If you’re thinking of making your own almond milk — you might want to think again. It’s hard to make at home and one homecook suggested that buying store bought is probably cheaper too. “Raw almonds are one of the more expensive nuts, I don't think $3-4 is going to get you enough almonds to make the equivalent amount of milk that's in a carton,” they explained.

Woman Making Donuts

9. Donuts

“I live in SoCal where we have a ton of mom-and-pop donut shops,” says one homecook. “Donuts are like $1 a pop, it's so much work to proof the dough and then fry it at home when you can get a much better and cheaper one at any donut place in my area.”

Woman Making Empanadas

10. Empanadas

“It takes so much work to make the filling, the dough, putting together and then cooking empanadas,” says one Reddit user. “The recipe I used yielded eight, which my teenage sons and husband devoured in a sitting.” 

Lobster Roll With Fries at a Pub

11. Lobster Rolls

“I made two lobster rolls for about 35 bucks that just were not worth the effort, would’ve cost me the same to buy them and eat them without the effort of killing and cooking a lobster,” added one homecook.

Chef Cutting Roasted Meat With Doner Knife

12. Shawarma

“Shawarma really needs to be cooked on the vertical spike — and I'm sure most people don't have that,” said one Reddit user. “Shawarma is super cheap at the restaurants, too.”

Closeup of Falafel in Pita

13. Falafel

“The time it takes and the mess it makes is really not worth it when I can find wonderful falafels made by professionals,” said another homecook.

Making Ice Cream

14. Ice Cream

Although it can be a fun and cheeky summertime activity, making ice cream is not something worthwhile if you’re looking to save time or money. “Unless you're doing it as a group activity, you'll spend way more money and time on trying to make ice cream than just going to the store and buying some,” said one homecook.

Kids Making Happy Face Pizzas
Ekaterina Morozova/istockphoto

15. Pizza

This might be a controversial one. Making pizza at home can be a lot of fun! But if you’re looking for quality to price ratio, it’s probably better to just get delivery. “I live close to a good pizzeria so with 5 euros and 5 minutes I can have a pizza that is way better than whatever I can make,” pointed out one Reddit user. 

Homemade Marshmallows

16. Marshmallows

“I tried making marshmallows and it took forever and I couldn’t get the texture right — it was the gelatin sugar balance or something,” said one homecook. “The ingredients were more expensive than a regular bag of the finished product and I destroyed a blender too. It started smoking and burnt its motor out!”

Man Making Ramen Broth in His Kitchen

17. Ramen Broth

“Obtaining and cleaning bones, boil, clean again. Broil flavor adders, simmer and skim it all for 8-24 hours… It's my favorite dish but man is it not worth it, I'll let the shops handle it or I'll add extras to my 1$ ramen packet!” said one homecook.

Rows of Ketchup in a Grocery Store

18. Ketchup

“I mean, ketchup is not like it's hard to make if you start with tomato paste instead of fresh tomatoes,” said one Reddit user. “Ketchup is just tomato paste with a bit of vinegar and sugar, and a touch of spice. You basically mix it all together and simmer for a few minutes and maybe a splash of water if it's too thick. So making ketchup is stupid easy—but the end result is basically the same thing you can just buy super cheap.”

Bowl of Ingredients for Pesto Sauce

19. Pesto

“At least where I am, basil, pinenuts and pecorino are all expensive, and by the time I've bought all of them, I've probably spent five times as much as a jar of pesto costs,” said one Reddit user. “And the homemade stuff is definitely not...as good!”

Homemade Pickles in Jar
Richard Carson/istockphoto

20. Pickles

“I bought all the ingredients to make pickles and it came to over $20 per quart,” explained one homecook. “It’s probably worth it if you grow everything yourself though.”

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