What a great response to this week’s blog post on the cost savings of cooking inconveniently (from scratch). I have two additional comparisons I’ve decided to post right away, along with my new favorite salad dressing recipe.
When I started this project I was not happy about the idea of making my own salad dressing. As easy as I assumed it was to make salad dressing from scratch, the idea of not having the type of dressing I immediately wanted on hand (as in four different varieties), felt somewhat frustrating to me. I also assumed the shelf life of a from-scratch dressing would be a lot shorter than their bottled counterpart. I was pretty much wrong on both accounts.
The first comparison I made is with a balsamic salad dressing. I used to buy Annie’s or the Neuman’s Own brand of dressing, so I set out to find a recipe that was similar. I didn’t have much luck finding anything similar, but I’m pretty happy that a tasty dressing can be made with pretty simple ingredients. However, to my surprise my from-scratch recipe cost twice as much as the bottled counterparts, 74¢ per ounce versus 36¢. Why you ask? I have three words for you – quality of ingredients. The preference in my house is that ingredients should taste good on their own, therefore I used top of the line organic ingredients in my dressing. I know that for many people price is the deciding factor when selecting something as simple as salad dressing. I can’t say I agree.
If you want a great savings that goes along with great taste, my advice is to make your own Ranch dressing. Ounce-for-ounce the homemade Ranch dressing was 24¢ compared to the 36¢ store value brand. I found this recipe on the Food Network website and adjusted the seasonings to my taste. So far I’ve found that it stays fresh refrigerated for at least two weeks. However it never lasts any longer than that to know the real shelf life.
Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
½ cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/3 cup lowfat buttermilk
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ½ tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients and let them marinate together for at least 30 minutes before using the dressing. For a thicker dressing let the yogurt strain through cheesecloth or a paper towel for about 20 minutes before you use it.
I also use the buttermilk in baking bread, so you don’t have to worry about wasting a quart if that’s the only size available.
Recipe adapted from Elle Krieger of the Food Network