Finding Time to DIY Healthy Food

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While making bread, chocolate chip cookies, and peanut butter last night, I was nagged by a thought. People are constantly telling me that they don’t have time to make as much food at home as I do. I’m going to pick on those people a little today and explain why that might not necessarily be true for everyone who has uttered those words to me. (No hard feelings, right friends?)

Although I work from home now, and have a schedule that allows for plenty of kitchen time, this wasn’t always the case. I used to work a very stressful job that kept me out of the home about 55 hours a week on average. Matt can attest to the fact that standing in the kitchen was the LAST thing I wanted to do when returning from work (with my daily throbbing headache). So I will reference this busier period of my life to show how time can still be found to keep homemade healthy staples in your home.

Time for food

Setting aside time

I don’t know ANYONE who has three or four extra hours to twiddle their thumbs in any given week.Β  For me, it’s not about having the time, it’s about setting aside the time. When I know I have bread or granola that is running low, I start thinking about my upcoming week and make a decision to bake on the night or weekend afternoon that looks the least busy. It might mean that I have to pass up movie with a friend, or I won’t get to spontaneously make a new Pinterest craft, but at least there will be food in the house. (My time is precious, so I always double recipes whenever possible!)

My older sister is one of the people I will pick on in this rant. If you’re reading this my dear sis . . . STOP shopping!!!!! And stop spending so much time on your hair. You’d be amazed at all the homemade bread you could have stockpiled by now if you could just be happy with last year’s sweaters and a less fabulous hairdo. (Love you.)

Build up your arsenal of easy recipes

Building kitchen habits with easy recipes is important so you don’t get overwhelmed. It took me a few years and several trials to slowly build up an arsenal of my favorite recipes. I refuse to use recipes that require advanced baking techniques or take too much of my time. After finding a few quick, simple, and healthful recipes for food we constantly eat, I can now use the same recipes without too much thought. When you have mastered a recipe and know exactly how much kitchen time is required, it’s much easier to fitΒ  into your busy schedule.

Turn off technology

Technology is everywhere now, and it has a way of sucking us in. Technology addictions could be swapped with time spent in the kitchen producing food to keep your family healthy. Put away your smart phone, turn off the TV, and close Facebook and Pinterest. Admittedly, this is a difficult one for me. I’m always amazed at how productive I can be in the kitchen when I set my laptop, mobile phone, and iPad aside.

DIY food might take less time

With the proper perspective, making food at home can take less of your time. Throwing ingredients into my bread maker takes less time than running to the store for a loaf. It takes me about 4 minutes to blend a batch of peanut butter in my Vitamix . . . less time than I would spend looking at the 347 options in the peanut butter aisle at the store. It’s faster to cook my own chocolate syrup than drive all over town looking for a brand that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup.

Think long-term . . . making healthy food at home now can save you time, health, and money down the road. Less store bought processed food means you’ll likely spend less time and money at the doctor’s office, picking up prescriptions, or researching and self diagnosing ailments on WebMD.

Combine it with other activities

Spending time creating (healthful) food is never wasted time. However, if the health benefits aren’t enough to coax you into the kitchen, try combining your kitchen time with other things. Have your child sit and read to you or go over spelling words while you bake. Ask your spouse to catch you up on his/her day as you stand at the stove. When no one else is around you can catch up on the news, listen to a podcast, or throw in loads of laundry in between cooking steps.

Involving the family in kitchen time is also a great relationship-builder and tends to produce less fussy eaters.

Don’t overdo it

My kitchen policy is to do only what makes sense. Start small and introduce one new DIY food staple into your home. When you no longer notice the time and trouble it takes, add more. If you start now, this time next year you’ll be amazed at the amount of healthy changes you have introduced into your home.

Above all, have fun in the kitchen with DIY food experiments. Kitchen time doesn’t have to be seen as another miserable item on your chore list taking up precious time. Involve everyone and make homemade food delicious, healthy, and fun again.


About Betsy Jabs

Betsy holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling, and for nearly a decade worked as an elementary counselor. In 2011 she left her counseling career to pursue healthy living. She loves using DIY Natural as a way to educate people to depend on themselves to nourish their bodies and live happier healthier lives. Connect with Betsy on Facebookand Twitter.

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  1. Evy says

    I am an old hippy. 65. I adore the attitude of DIY. I am retired now and try to make as much of the things I want.

    I may have to try the window garden. I would LOVE having lettuce, arugula, basil growing on my deck. I’m on the second floor. Not quite there yet. I have time.

    I share your ideas with friends.

    I haven’t bought dishwasher soap in several years. It was the first thing I tried. The person who cleans for me once a month complains about how my dishes are not clean enough. I live alone. They are clean enough for ME! Who else cares?

    Good enough!

    I used to be a financial aid administrator and saw was young people’s budgets looked like. That was a while ago. I could have shared your info then.

    Maybe we could have gotten a bulk discount on Vitamix machines!

    My local grocery store has two grind your own machines, one for peanuts, one for almonds. Makes it easy.

    Thank you for saying that many religions/philosophies could benefit and enjoy what you do. I am a self chosen Buddhist and also care about myself, my friends, my fellow citizens and the environment.

    Love and support for all you do.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Greetings from some new hippies to a seasoned hippy! πŸ˜‰ Wouldn’t a bulk discount on Vitamix machines be awesome??? We’re so glad you follow us and enjoy our content Evy. Thanks from the bottom of our hearts for sharing our info with others as we work to make a change in this world!

  2. Nicole says

    There is only 2 in my household right now but I started making bread a couple months back, my receipe makes 4-5 loafs and I just freeze the ones that I am not using. I only have to make bread once a month, I think I can take time to make bread once a month!! Also, I have not had cable or satalite tv in my home for years, my mom took it out of our home when I was probably 12 and I am 30 now and still have never had it in my home. I don’t miss it one bit! I don’t know how I ever got anything done before!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Bread once a month…now that’s doable! πŸ™‚

      Every time I turn the TV on all I can think about is how much I’m NOT accomplishing. Good for you for boycotting!

  3. Marla B. says

    I think you hit the nail on the head. I have an interest in all things homemade and repurposed, but I have been guilty of procrastinating. This new year has given me the opportunity to start fresh and reduce my distractions. My church is in the midst of a annual fast and one thing that the Lord pressed upon my heart is excessive entertaining distractions. I am reducing our exposure to TV and needless internet activities. We have set aside time as a family to watch something meaningful together and for educational purposes rather than having constant stimulation on in the room. I am more productive when I can actually hear myself think and hear the Lord instead of having the TV on all day. If we are going to be good stewards of our gifts (talents, family, & roles in life), we must practice sharpening those gifts. I get more joy out of making homemade soap, food, & crafty repairs for my family and friends than I ever do from watching a gameshow or reality show (I really can’t stand reality TV, because it is not real and a waste of my precious time).

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Thanks for sharing Marla! Every time I sit in front of the TV I feel so guilty…I know it’s not making me a better person and I’m in fact wasting time I could be using to sharpen gifts or be a blessing to someone else. Kudos for doing what’s right for your family!

  4. Mom says

    Thank you Betsy for having the courage to call people out on “lack of time”! Eating healthy food prepared from fresh ingredients has many hidden and long term benefits that will save you money in the long run, to partially make up for added expense for the basic staples. It is the best beauty secret out there. Your skin is the biggest detoxifying organ in your body and if you are constantly filling yourself with chemical laden foods, your skin is working overtime to detoxify. The evidence of this is undeniable when you look in the mirror and see the dull, wrinkled skin and baggy, dark circles under your eyes. Most women then turn to cosmetics which is costly AND time consuming. I have been eating fresh for over 30 years and have never used cosmetics, (just a simple organic moisturizing cream) and I have radiant skin with almost no wrinkles (except smile wrinkles) :-). I have never had to dye my hair (no grey!) and it is much easier to control my weight, so no costly and time consuming trips to the gym. Just a basic stretch and walking routine. I never get sick, so no time lost from work. (which costs money, too!) And, I dont have to waste time and money on doctor visits because I just dont need to! I attribute my good health at the age of almost 60 (normal blood pressure, no daily medication, healthy cholesterol levels, etc) to eating healthy, fresh food. I also never touch soda pop, my liquid of choice is fresh water, which helps support the whole toxin cleansing process!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Amen Mama! Great point about the beautifying benefits of eating healthy! I think I have more gray hair than you. Guess I should have started eating better sooner. πŸ™‚

  5. Betsy Jabs says

    Exactly Jeff! I make about 3-4 lbs. of peanut butter at one time and put it into a big bucket. I hate cleaning, so this is a great motivator to make larger batches of things less often.

    • Mary says

      Besty I am soooooo glad to hear another woman actually speak out loud about the cleaning thing!! Question though, what & where type of buckets do you use for ur PB? also do you by chance have a go to site for ur bulk peanut buying? One more & I promise no more (for now any way LOL) Where could I possibly get a discounted / cheap vitamix? Thanks 2 both u & Matt for this wonderful site! I acutally feel “NORMAL” when reading this! LOL……………

  6. Jenni says

    Wonderful article! You guys are always up to something great on here πŸ™‚

    I agreed with all your points, especially doing one thing at a time. When I first started preparing everything from whole foods, I made stir-fry all the time! I had the perfect sauce recipe that was simple and delicious and I would just throw in whatever veggies I had in the house and put it on top of quinoa. It was such an easy and fast meal that tasted different every time. Then I kept finding what other types of meals could be made so simply.

    Now that I’m into the raw food diet, making my food at home has never been easier. Just peel, chop and eat πŸ™‚ Well, usually there’s some blending as I eat a lot of smoothies, but you get the point lol.

    Thanks for your awesome site!

  7. erin @ from city to farm says

    Well said, well said!! And I love your advice about starting with ONE project, and giving yourself some time. I’ve done that on a few things, and can’t imagine going back….but then I get excited about ALLLL of the DIY stuff I can do, and over commit, which then leads to wastage and guilt!

    My husband used to tease me when I would say “OH, we can make that, it’s EASY!” and invariably I would get overwhelmed by too many projects and not make some of them. Then I learned the one-at-a-time rule, and he’s a convert…he’s even started making his OWN DIY list. πŸ™‚ It’s pretty addicting.

  8. Teri says

    I loved this article. I was introuduced to milling my own wheat and making my own bread about 5.5 years ago. I was working at the time but felt it was important enough for my family’s health that I made the time. My husband also got to where he wouldn’t eat store bought bread anymore either. I love the sense of accomplishment I feel when I can ensure that my family is eating so healthy. You also mentioned making your own peanut butter…could you possibly share that receipe? I have been looking for one online but haven’t found one that I like, they all seem to have you add more things than I want to add. I appreciate your hard work in trying out things and then passing them along. I stumbled upon your site a few weeks ago looking for dishwasher powder and I just love that you are Christians and through your site I have found other Christian sites as additional references. God Bless you guys and your efforts!!! THank You so much!!!

    • Deb Sampson NP says

      Making peanut butter involves buying dry roasted unsalted peanuts, peanut oil, putting peanuts in a food processor, turning it on, drizzling in oil (about a cup oil to 32 oz of peanuts) and let it process until the desired consistency is achieved. Chunky is about 4 minutes. Smooth about 6-7.

      We non-Christians love this site too! Mindfulness about consumption and our actions in the world are the bases of all religions of Love and Compassion.

      • Matt Jabs says

        The things we focus on here at diyNatural seem to bring people of all beliefs, races, and socio-economic backgrounds together; that is one of the things I love about doing this!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Deb’s recipe above looks awesome if using a food processor! We have a Vitamix and just dump 3 cups dry roasted unsalted peanuts in (nothing else!) and blend for about 1 minute, using the plunger to push peanuts to the bottom. Sometimes if I want to add a little sweetness I will put a bit of raw honey in with the peanuts before blending.
      Thanks for the encouraging words! πŸ™‚

  9. Deb Sampson NP says

    I buy eggs from my neighbor -they are $3/dozen but are huge, taste fabulous and I can return the cartons to her for reuse. I buy local milk (in reusable glass bottles) at my local little general store owned by a neighbor. I only buy in a large grocery once a month. By buying the local milk and eggs, I don’t have to spend $$ traveling, I support my neighbors, I know what is in the food product, and I have reduced waste from milk and egg cartons and fuel used to transport food. It IS a bit more expensive but I can cut costs elsewhere to make up for getting local delicious, wholesome food. Somehow we have made this work…

  10. Stephi says

    Love it! Especially the part about incorporating one new thing at a time–it’s the key to mastering any big change with a family. But when listing ways we spend too much time on the computer, you forgot to mention the hours that can be (well-) spent reading all the fantastic ideas on! I sit down for one recipe and find myself rushing to the kitchen an hour and a half later to throw together a 15-minute meal, when I was attempting to get a head start. πŸ™‚

    • melanie says

      I would add make once and eat twice…

      I love making double or triple batches of things like lasagna and freezing it for later… I jsut need more pyrex dishes (we only have 3-4)…

      • Deb Sampson NP says

        Just some thoughts I suspect others have considered – I get baking dishes at our town dump ‘swap shop’ for nothing or at charity thrift shops ( triple duty- I support charity, recycle usable goods & save money) or local yard sales ( quadruple duty- I support the income of my neighbors, get to socialize, get entertainment, AND save money).

      • Mary says


  11. Deb Sampson NP says

    I love your articles. My spouse and I are very busy professionals but there are things that we never skimp on-home made peanut butter using salt and sugar free dry roasted peanuts (about 4 minutes in the Cuisinart), home mix cereal instead of BASIC 4, trying to use everything other than food items at least twice. We have been able to save a lot of $$ this way in the last 10 years so that we not only have all bills paid off, we have money saved for retirement-which will be a time that we work on self more sufficiency. Our favorite ‘self-sufficiency spiritual ancestors’ are Scott and Helen Nearing. Thank you DIY for supporting our quest to reduce, reuse, be healthy, and DIO (do it ourselves).

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Deb, you’re an inspiration! Way to go having bills paid off…you’ll be able to have all kinds of fun working on self-reliance projects in retirement instead of worrying about other things! πŸ˜‰

  12. Samantha says

    Love it! People think I am crazy for making as much as I can from scratch, but it is soooo worth it! I agree with Carol, I simply can’t afford to cook from a box. Every time I feel like I have spent too much at the grocery store I always tell my husband “I don’t know what we would do if we ate junk food!” The last time we went grocery shopping the cashier said “I can’t believe how much stuff you guys got for what you paid!” That was a pretty good feeling.

    • melanie says

      I found a local ordering service recently.. They deliver to your door too! Good for meats and honey(especially quality raised and hormone/antibiotic free meats) but produce, eggs and flour sadly are more pricy locally than at the store πŸ™

      I try to shop every two weeks(when we get paid and make due). If I can reduce the time spent in grocery stores with three kids seeing all the JUNK marketed specifically for them, the better for me!

      • Samantha says

        Unfortunately where we live, there is very little agriculture around here. My main goal this year is to buy as local as possible and, yes, avoid the grocery store as much as possible. I agree about the junk marketed for kids. My daughter is almost 3 and is starting to notice that kind of stuff, usually I avoid the isles that have junk food but of course there is always the stuff at checkout!
        We live out in the country, so we are able to have chickens and grow a very large garden (hopefully if this darn drought will break!) So i do consider myself fortunate to be able to take so much of my family’s nutrition in my own hands and feed them what their bodies need, not empty calories that just feed their hunger.

        • Mary says


          • Samantha says

            Thing is, even when we aren’t in an extreme drought, we just don’t get much rain. I would love to do that but it would take a year to fill one up. lol.

  13. Vicky says

    Thanks for the article. There was one point that you mentioned that helped me the most. When I wanted to add fermented foods to my diet, it seemed overwhelming. How could I do this and which one should I choose? The answer is the same for fermented foods as it is for any DIY healthy food. Just pick ONE thing to add and learn to do it until you feel comfortable about how much to make and how long it takes. Then pick another ONE, then another ONE. Soon you’ll be in that DIY lifestyle you want and the process will be much less stressful than converting everything at one time.

  14. Lisa says

    I ENJOYED this well written article! It has inspired me to get back to the basics. Used to do this in the past but since retiring and traveling in our RV I have gotten lazy. I think the BEST advise is to turn OFF technology…I think My Ipad2 has taken so much time from my day, and it’s all in my control…close cover!

    • melanie says

      yeah, get off technology is the best advice… But oh so hard to do…. I am a WAHM and I don’t see a lot of adults during my day…

      At least sometimes the girls like to help… and the baby is getting more patient to let me have 5-10 mins to start something…

  15. Mary says

    LOVE this article! I am CONSTANTLY telling those around me these exact same words! My dearest friend SCARES me to death how she feeds her family! My own husband laughs @ me knowing that I LITERALLY can not cook “boxed foods” (ie hambuger helper, instant masher etc), seriously I NEVER seem to “COOK” them correctly. It just does not make any sense to me to “POUR MY FOOD” in order to make a meal that SUPPOSEDLY is faster! I gringe @ the thought of all the chemicals, bi products and heavens knows what else are in those boxes! I find it scarey funny that “busy” folks tell me “I have no time” to do that!!…….How can one have no time to make sure your family is healthy!?!

    • melanie says

      Yeah boxed meals like hamburger helper aren’t really faster…

      Soups are harder to phase out…

    • melanie says

      actually it is the instant flavoured rice my mom has started buying that scares me… Just what is in it??? It is unnatural…

      Plus many of these “convinience foods” rely on the microwave, πŸ™

      Plus easy mac??? regular mag isn’t exactly a tough thing to make, we just switched to ORGANIC. It dosen’t taste the same though… Butthe kids will only accept so much change…

    • melanie says

      processed foods and baking mixes are more expensive…

      But organic items like eggs, flour and meat can be quite expensive…

      If you can buy from a local farmer. I found one who will gladly give you a tour of the farm and answer questions regarding feeding. Not certified organic, but local and greass fed works for me and it is better than the grocery store by far…

      Sadly local veggies here are much more expencive than the grocery store πŸ™ I wish I could make a garden but we don’t have the space…

      • Mary says

        @ melanie…….no disrespect yet there is ALAWAYS room for some type of container for growing! if i may suggest there is a wonderful group of folks out of ny who has free, yes FREE plans on making window gardens, these are all hydroponics (not sure of spelling!!)…the best part also that 90% – 95% of this project is all recycled, beg, borrow & “steal” material!!… could start small as matt & betsy always encourage to see how this could/would work for you. do not get me wrong @ first the hydro thing scared the “OOMPH” out of me yet starting simple and w/ a purpose i have a beautiful year long garden right in my window. this year i have strawberries, lettuce, basil, thyme & tomatoes!!!