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From Scratch: Day 22 Means Homemade Pancakes

Katie Morris, author and creator of "The 5 Dollar Day" blog, is tackling the issues of food, nutrition and poverty in the United States. Her challenge: to eat healthy foods on $5 a day.

By Katie Morris
The 5 Dollar Day, blog author and creator

Day 22- From Scratch

We’ve all heard it before. Cooking from scratch is definitely cheaper than buying prepared foods or eating out. It also takes more time. But, if you have some time to spare, I think it’s worth the extra effort. Both your health and your wallet will thank you later.

But did you know that “scratch” goes beyond avoiding the deli and frozen food aisle? Cooked vegetables and beans do not come from cans, and pancakes do not come from the Bisquick box. I know, I was shocked too.

Yes, buying a container of ready-made pancake mix will save you some time. But where’s the fun, and nutrition in that? And does it save money? Let’s find out.

Not only can you buy the dry pancake mixes, you can now buy Shake n’ Pour, in which you only add water, shake it up and pour on the griddle. A 10.6 ounce bottle will produce 5 servings, or 15 pancakes. According to the Walmart website, you can buy a 10.6 ounce bottle for $2.08, or about $0.14 a pancake.

But with such progress and innovation there comes a price. These kinds of mixes need a shelf life and flavor, and therefore employ such tactics as hydrogenated oil (which studies have shown cause cancer). Also, what is “defatted soy flour?"

And my favorite, to top it off, is that the label uses an “and/or,” which tells me that Betty Crocker doesn’t even know what they are putting into their own product. Could be soybean oil, could be cottonseed. And it’s not so much the kinds of oil, although these are not healthiest choices, it’s more that there is still a question. We know it’s one or the other, we’re just not sure. And, I like to know what's going into my food.

I had some time on Monday, and decided to try my hand at homemade pancakes. I made them vegan, simply because I don’t normally keep milk or eggs in the fridge. And you know what, the pancakes were amazing!

I found a recipe online, on a blog called Cooking Up Comics. Here's the link to the pancake recipe. I had no idea they were so simple: 
http://cookingupcomics.blogspot.com/2012/04/blog-post.html 

How the costs add up

Recipe for recipe, if you can count adding water to a bottle as a recipe, Bisquick wins in terms of cost. It is cheaper per pancake than my homemade version. If you had to buy all of the ingredients for homemade pancakes, it would cost about $30. Pure vanilla and maple syrup cost money! Although, I’m sure we could find a cheaper alternative, like agave nectar or imitation vanilla.  If I really wanted pancakes, and had nothing in the pantry, buying the supplies would eat my whole week’s budget.

But, I could use the ingredients for more than just pancakes. With Shake 'n Pour, you get 15 pancakes, and you’re done.

But aside from the cost, I don’t think we can even compare nutrition. My pancakes have more calories, but not by many. Probably because I’m not using defatted soy flour. But calories don’t determine health. And personally, I like to recognize the ingredients in my food. Regardless of how you see nutrition, I believe there are two questions you should always ask in terms of grocery shopping. First, can you pronounce the ingredients? And second, do you know how the food was produced? For example, grown on a tree or in the ground? Raised on a farm, and slaughtered? Sounds gruesome, but at least you know where the chicken breast comes from. I’m not sure what part of the chicken is the nugget.

I think you get my drift. These two questions are my main barometer for determining whether it’s healthy or not. It can get way more involved than this.  However, I think these two questions are a great place to start. And when we use my barometer, I think it’s safe to say my pancakes are a healthier option.

The Best For Last

I photographed my homemade pancakes.  Aren’t they pretty? I felt really accomplished at the end of this, and luckily have some leftovers to eat this week. Pancakes freeze and defrost incredibly well.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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