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5 bought foods you can easily just make at home

Reviewed by our expert panel
Father and young son making homemade dip/hummus

Who doesn’t like to save a bit of money at the checkout, while getting to eat healthier versions of food you’d normally buy? We’ve given five packaged foods healthier home makeovers and they take only minutes to make.

1 Salad dressing

Don’t spoil your delicious salad with a store-bought dressing that’s full of sugar, thickeners and vegetable gums.

Our homemade dressings couldn’t be healthier. And they’re so easy to make! The secret of a delicious dressing lies in the three-parts olive oil to one-part vinegar ratio. Just pour extra virgin olive oil into an airtight jar, adding any vinegar you have on hand — balsamic, red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar are fine (lemon juice is, too). Then shake and pour. Be clever and make a big batch ahead of time!

2 Dip

Picking up store-bought dips and snacks can save time and alleviate stress, but many popular dips such as French onion and pesto are loaded with saturated fat, sugar and salt.

A healthy homemade dip with just a handful of ingredients takes only minutes. Create a basic hoummos by blitzing canned chickpeas with a little tahini and garlic. Then add a splash of water or lemon juice for a perfect consistency. Eat as is or flavour by adding blitzed roast pumpkin or beetroot.

Jalapenos, cumin and paprika add punchier flavour, whereas adding green peas gives vibrant colour. If you add veggies to your dips, you’ll be snacking closer to your five daily serves. Find a range of delicious dip recipes here.

3 Croutons and breadcrumbs

Store-bought croutons and breadcrumbs can be low in fibre, so whip up your own using stale slices of wholegrain bread. Waste not, want not! Blitz day-old bread in a small food processor, and within 10 seconds you’ll have fibre-rich breadcrumbs. Croutons are just as easy. Dice stale bread into cubes, lightly spray with olive oil and bake in a hot oven for 10–15 minutes, or until golden and crunchy. You could even add a sprinkle of dried herbs or a dash of spice such as paprika or cumin for extra flavour.

4 Pizza

Homemade pizza is a simple dinner when you’re short of time — and it’s so much healthier than takeaway.

The trick is to pump up the veggies. You’ll hardly ever see a sliver of green on a takeaway pizza, which means it’s probably lacking in satisfying fibre.

Start with a healthy base — small wholemeal pita pockets are the perfect size for individual pizzas. Add a swirl of no-added-salt tomato paste, or a serving spoon of canned chopped tomatoes (drained), then layer on your toppings.

Start with sliced veggies like mushroom, capsicum and zucchini, then top it with a few slices of lean meat and grated cheese.

5 Marinades

Marinades add flavour and tenderise meat by breaking down its tough fibres. They also help to reduce levels of potential carcinogens that are created when meat is cooked on the barbecue.

Some brands have up to three teaspoons of sugar per tablespoon of marinade! That means they’re more than 50 per cent sugar. Making your own marinades with fresh fruit is healthier as it cuts sugar content.

The fruit’s acidity and enzymes tenderise the meat, creating succulent steaks every time. Just coat the meat with kiwi fruit slices, or purée, for 1–2 hours and scrape off before cooking. Pineapple, fig, pawpaw and mango have the same delicious effect!

First published: Jan 2021

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