Some very delicious packaged foods have some seriously disgusting ingredients (who knew ice cream’s dirty little secret?). Others are ridiculously over-priced for how easy they are to make. And some just taste so much better when you make them yourself.

Here are 10 super simple things you should never buy pre-made again.

Whipped Cream

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Once you make whipped cream at home you’ll realize that, whatever it is in those pressurized cans, it’s not the same as what you just put on your pie. You hardly need a recipe to make whipped cream at home. It’s just cream, powdered sugar, and a touch of vanilla extract all whipped together. But here’s a recipe from the Food Network just in case.

Vanilla Extract

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True, making vanilla extract takes a tremendous amount of patience, but you’ll save a bundle making it yourself. All you need is vanilla beans, clean glass containers, vodka, and a couple months. You can get everything you need (aside from the vodka) as well as the recipe at Beanilla.com.

Chicken stock

If you have ever wondered why your homemade soup just doesn’t measure up to your favorite restaurant’s, you probably only need to make one small adjustment: start with homemade stock. As the base that all the other ingredients build on, the stock is pretty important flavor-wise. Most canned and boxed stocks have very little flavor, just a lot of sodium. Martha Stewart has a very reliable recipe, which is a great place to start.

Salad dressing

If you don’t care for a little titanium dioxide with your salad, steer clear of store bought salad dressings. Found in paint and sunscreen, titanium dioxide is a great ingredient for turning dingy, overly-processed substances bright white; but not so good for your health. Instead whip up a batch in your blender in just a couple minutes. The Pioneer Woman offers a great recipe on the Food Network web site (ignore the preparation time since most of it is just chilling the dressing in the fridge).

Hummus

Hummus

Once you discover all the delicious things that pair nicely with hummus (vegetables and pita for example), you’ll want to have it around all the time. A cheaper alternative to buying it pre-made is to make it yourself, and it’s really easy. Try this recipe from About.com or if you’re more of a perfectionist, this one from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen.

Lemonade

Lemonade

Whether you find bottled lemonade too sweet or just want to try a little DIY experiment, you’ll be pleased by the results of homemade lemonade. The Pioneer Woman comes through again (as she so often does) with a refreshing lemonade recipe that will please your own little punks every time.

Ricotta

rich homemade ricotta

Not only does homemade ricotta taste so much better than store bought, it’s also a lot cheaper. If you can boil water, you can make ricotta. Just follow these excellent directions over at Smitten Kitchen.

Peanut Butter

MAKE YOUR OWN PEANUT BUTTER

A staple in practically every American mother’s pantry, peanut butter is a pretty healthy food, as long as it’s just peanut butter. Skip the whole hydrogenated oil business and make your own using a really, really easy recipe from A Beautiful Mess. There are only two ingredients, so it really couldn’t get easier.

Pancake Mix

Whole Wheat Pancakes

If you don’t recognize the ingredients on the box, it’s time to make your own mix. Try this one from the health monks at Tassajara Meditation Center where flipping sublime pancakes is just one way to reach Nirvana.

Granola Bars

Chocolate Granola Bars

Making your own snacks is a great way to cut out unwanted sugar and to customize food to your tastes. Tweak this recipe from the Daily Green to make it exactly how you want it.

We gathered an excellent list of cooking recipes which are easy to prepare. Over 100 Quick and Easy Healthy Foods

Featured photo credit: Ingredients for homemade chocolate with nutsvia Flickr

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