a peek inside the fishbowl

12 Nov, 2012

A giant list of DIY recipes: maybe you’ll find a new thing to make?

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Challenge me, challenge you|Recipes and Food

But first, a discovery! Did you know that if you tuck a wet piece of paper towel inside those plastic green containers that normally house baby greens they’ll stay crisper longer?

fresh greens!

I’m VERY happy my package of baby kale and chard is looking so good!

Awhile back on the Fishbowl Facebook page I asked readers to tell me one thing they’ve stopped buying and started making instead. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the answers were awesome. I was so impressed with the variety of things you people are making yourselves. (You can read the whole thread here if you like. And if you aren’t following the Fishbowl on Facebook.. DO IT. Because you’re missing stuff!)

Going the DIY route on most of these items doesn’t actually take a whole lot of extra effort.  There are a few things that take more work in the grand scheme of things (I’m thinking specifically of lasagna – all that chopping – this is a labour-intensive dish!) but it doesn’t actually take long to make your own taco seasoning for example. Or salad dressing. And what’s more, if you make it yourself you are 100% in control of what goes into it… which is the best reason of all to make your own.

I thought I’d pull some reader ideas from the list and link out to some other websites in case someone was inspired to try to make their own… (I’ve left in a few quotes from the FB discussion.) Please note: some links go offsite and others go to my own previous posts.)

If you have a great recipe for any of the above, or would like to add your own thoughts about things you make instead of buy, please leave it in the comments below!

I’d love to issue a challenge! Would your consider trying to make ONE new item instead of buying it this week? e.g. Making your own popcorn in a pot instead of using the microwave variety? Or making your own taco and fajita seasoning? Or your own salad dressing? Let me know if you do! I will do the same. (I’m thinking I might try making almond butter. Hmm.)

15 Responses to "A giant list of DIY recipes: maybe you’ll find a new thing to make?"

1 | Brenda A

November 12th, 2012 at 2:18 pm


Love these! I do try to make as much as I can and finally made my own taco seasoning a few weeks ago. Tastes great and so easy and I control the sodium!

2 | Maranda

November 12th, 2012 at 2:29 pm


I make many of these things myself, and just recently added tortillas and laundry soap to my repertoire. Homemade tortillas are so good and so easy, you’ll never buy them again!

If I can make laundry soap, I can make dish soap. I’ll do that next!

3 | Chantal

November 12th, 2012 at 3:02 pm


I make more and more stuff myself. I like this list. And as the one who listed Lasagna as my always home made item. It is so easy. It really isn’t that much work and it makes wonderful left overs (BTW I don’t precook my noodles, just add 1.5 cups of water to the sauce and they cook at the same time). We had one just last night.

After I read the ingredients on my favourite store bought one I almost cried. Each slice had 20+ grams of fat. It was horrible. I never looked back. Last night at dinner my 11yo told me my lasagnas are so good I should start a business called “Lasagna Shack” and I should sell them to everyone and get rich ;)

4 | Chantal

November 12th, 2012 at 3:29 pm


ok one question. A lot of home made cleaning (on pinterest and all) uses Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. I have yet to find this in Ottawa (I have looked at my local Walmart super centre and Superstore). Is there a local source for this stuff?

5 | Tarah

November 12th, 2012 at 6:44 pm


Great post idea! Love all the ideas! We do (or have done) most of these! I love our DIY cleaning products – mostly vinegar and water for cleaning with a drop of tea tree oil. The year I was on mat leave I made powdered laundry detergent regularly. To those looking for washing soda – check Canadian Tire and Sobeys in the laundry or cleaning isle. I make handsoap with lavender Bronners castille soap and water in foaming pumps. Another favorite is popcorn kernels in a regular paper bag (sealed) in the microwave. For the most part, food is mostly DIY in our house because our son has food allergies. Most convenience items contain milk or soy so out for our family meals!
Can’t wait to hear more ideas!

6 | Stacey

November 12th, 2012 at 8:00 pm


No one said ice cream! We never buy ice cream anymore. We bought an ice cream maker and now we eat less but much better ice cream.

7 | Mary @ Parenthood

November 12th, 2012 at 9:11 pm


Lasagna requires a lot of chopping? What on earth are you putting in your recipes? Very, very curious now!

I make a lot of things because they have to be gluten free. Some things simply aren’t available otherwise, such as girl scout cookies (I grew up in Europe!), croissants and pita bread. I am not a fan of canned stuff (I taste metal) so I can my own fruit & tomatoes (also, I’m allergic to pineapple so this is the only way I can have canned fruit salad, which I still like!) I mostly make my own salad dressing and always make soups. But my attempt to not buy my bread fell by the wayside; there are some things I find easy (eg chocolate mousse, and I have never understood pancake mix; so few ingredients already!) but others that make me tired to contemplate (muffins, bread), so they don’t happen that often.

One of our housemates thinks that cooking bacon is so exhausting that he’s willing to eat the precooked stuff, but will sauté mushroom slices one by one. So interesting what people find easy and hard to make at home!

I think the only thing I make that’s really unusual is that I make our own Christmas crackers, including the paper hats and the favour inside. Mostly because my family insists on crackers but I haaate the cheap plastic toys.

We’ve tried making hot chocolate powder but totally not a hit. We keep trying though.

There are some things I’m skeptical of making for myself. Like toothpaste. Maybe it’s because my parents live in a 3rd world country or because my dentist was able to tell at a glance that I grew up in a country without flouride in the water, but it seems to me that some advances in personal hygiene products (and especially oral hygiene) are a) worth keeping and b) not easily reproduceable without access to a pretty well equipped lab, not to mention slightly more scientific expertise than the average consumer (or attempting to consume less person)

I’ve always wanted to try making yogurt. Maybe this week I’ll finally do that!

8 | Lisa from Iroquois

November 12th, 2012 at 11:00 pm


I make apple turnovers using sauteed apples and phyllo dough. Got a first time batch of home made vanilla extract maturing in the cupboard right now. Our home made tomato juice beats the pants off anything store bought. Have not bought jam in a store for more than a decade.

9 | andrea

November 13th, 2012 at 8:50 am


Mary: I try to cram in as many veggies as I can, chopped as small as I can, into my lasagna. :)

You guys make GREAT stuff. I totally forgot about ice cream! And I looooove the idea of making my own Christmas crackers. I too hate the crappy toys that come in the grocery-store variety.

10 | torontomom

November 13th, 2012 at 8:58 am


Granola! This is my favourite recipe:

It is perfection in the morning with some fruit and either milk or yogurt!

11 | alison

November 13th, 2012 at 9:50 am


I’ve been making my pizza dough and pancakes from scratch for a while now, but now I’ve stopped buying English muffins. Instead, a couple of times a week I bake English Muffin Bread, which you slice and toast – it’s perfect: crispy on the outside and yielding and chewy on the inside, depending on how thick you cut the slices. I use this recipe as a base: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/english-muffin-toasting-bread-recipe BUT I’ve played around with it and its best if you use bread flour rather than all purpose (though all purpose works), and cut the salt in half, if you use 3/4 of a teaspoon rather than 1.5 (!) it tastes better and it still rises well. My girls like it toasted golden brown with butter and jam.

12 | Carla

November 14th, 2012 at 11:48 pm


I love the list! and will come back to it to try a few recipes.

We make a lot of stuff at home, but my favourites lately are
1. Boullion mix – love! I used to just use water instead of broth because I was too cheap to buy it but too busy to make it once the kids arrived. The recipe is basically lots of veggies and salt smashed up in a food processor (we use our vitamix and its super smooth and makes a super clear smooth broth once mixed with water), you keep it in the freezer and the salt keeps it from freezing. Or no salt and freeze in ice cub trays or flash freeze in dollops on a cookie sheet and then store in a bag in the freezer. http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/homemade-bouillon-recipe.html

2. Nut or seed butters – toast the seeds or nuts and smash up in food processor (or vitamix), you’ll probably need some oil, my favourites right now are coconut or avocado (and no it does not taste like guacamole, it is a very neutral and good-for-ya oil), and run the machine until it’s smooth enough to spread. You can customise! add honey! or cinnamon! – recently I did an almond/pumpkin seed butter with carob, cinnamon and coconut oil and yumsters.

Actually, I might just go ahead and say that I love love the vitamix (no they didn’t slip me a fiver to say this) and having it makes it so much easier to make stuff at home.

13 | Alicia

November 16th, 2012 at 10:48 pm


I love that you put this list together. I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for a while, but I go through stages on hating it…I really need to find the best recipe…I’ve tried a few now. And I’ve been thinking about making my own dish washer detergent, but dish soap I didn’t even think of! That’s next for sure. Chantal asked in her comment about Washing Soda and I buy mine at the Independent in Barrhaven. Before we moved I got it at Walmart or Canadian Tire but they were always hit or miss.

14 | madonna

December 12th, 2012 at 3:43 pm


how ironic. i was just reading about the damp papertowel in the spinach container. i started putting the romaine lettuce in one a few months ago and voila..i read it on your site. it really does work. i put my celery in there to.

15 | Angie

January 27th, 2013 at 12:32 pm


EASY BABY WIPES: I did mine similar to cloth diapers. I bought a bunch of baby washcloths and would keep a couple of dry ones with me in a ziploc bag wherever I went (more if I was going to be gone longer), and kept an empty ziploc bag with me for dirty ones. When it was time to use them, I would just wet them with warm tap water and throw them in a ziploc bag until I got home, or in with the cloth diapers when I was home. I got REALLY good at cleaning up most diaper messes with just one wipe! Launder with cloth diapers, or in the hottest water possible by themselves since they are contaminated. A good way to get the water REALLY hot: pour a large pot full of boiling water right into the tub on top of the wipes.
With this method I NEVER had a problem with smells or anything else. I could usually find a pack of baby washcloths at the dollar store in a pack of 4 or 5. It was great!

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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