Food for Thought
5:00 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Iced Tea, Salad Dressing And Other Things Better Made Than Bought

I know, I know. It's no concern of mine what other people do with their money in a supermarket.

But for the life of me, I cannot understand how bottled iced tea got to be such a popular item. How could something in a bottle on a shelf possibly be better than what you can get started at home in 10 seconds? One thing I do know — it sure ain't cheaper. And it's not exactly hard to make. You don't even have to boil it.

"Because, Stein, if you're driving down the road and it's 85 degrees, which it might be this week, and you stop somewhere to pick up some dinner and you just need something to drink, why not grab a bottle of fill-in-the-blank — a Peach Snapple, in my case (please don't tell anyone)," says Nancy Leson.

That's all very well, but there's really nothing simpler to make than iced tea. Just throw some tea bags into a pitcher or jar of water. Sun tea? Sure, leave it out in the sun for a while if you want to, but it's really not necessary. I just fill up the pitcher, toss in the bags and clap it straight into the fridge.

Then you can have iced tea in hours for a teeny fraction of the cost of the bottled stuff, and nothing in it that you didn't put in there yourself. Then you can take it with you if you want to.

And don't even get me started on bottled water. That's the biggest sucker game in history.

The one that gets Nancy Leson is bottled salad dressing. That's a piece of cake to make, too. Just remember the 2-to-1 oil to vinegar ratio, and you can add whatever flavors you want. If you want to thicken it up a bit, throw in some mayo or dijon mustard. And you've got salad dressing.

Nancy's been down on store-bought pie crust for years.

"They taste like all pie crusts that you buy in the store. Taste like chemicals to me," she said. "Why not just learn how to make pie crust? And if you have a food processor, it couldn't be easier. I do it all the time."

Don't be intimidated. Here are some pie crust tips from a real, live pie doctor Nance interviewed. Another tip: make a double pie crust, use half for an open-faced pie and save the rest for later. 

What else would you add to the list of things easier, better and cheaper to make at home than to buy in the store?

"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea. But if this is tea, please bring me some coffee."

– Abraham Lincoln