DIY Worth It? Pesto Sauce

by | Jan 6, 2013 | Cooking, Kendra's Thoughts, Parenting | 4 comments

If you’ve seen this post, then you know I’ve got a lot of kids.  If you also have kids, or if you know someone who has kids, then you will know that kids like to eat.  EVERY DAY. 

My mom was more of a defroster and/or microwaver (hi Mom, love you!).  But as the years have gone by in my own family, I’ve taken to making more and more of our meals from scratch.  It seems like a simple way to be a good steward of our resources and serve my family.

But I’ve been wondering lately:

Does Doing It Yourself (DIY) really save money?

I decided to start with something pretty straightforward: Pesto Sauce.  I started making it myself when the little garden the husband and kids planted for me for Mother’s Day was turning out a ton of basil.  It is a quick and easy recipe, and it saves well.  It keeps in the fridge and also freezes beautifully.  And my kids really like it.  So, a great way to use a lot of basil. 

*sigh* Here it is, in better days.  
Plans to resurrect it are underway!

But then I killed my little garden.  (I am a very, very bad gardener.)  I kept making the pesto sauce, only now I buy the basil from Vons (because they don’t carry it at Costco, grrrr).

So, here’s the challenge:

Store bought . . .

vs. homemade.

I use a recipe by The Reluctant Gourmet.  It takes maybe twenty minutes.  More if I have a lot of help.  For dinner, I served both sauces over penne with chicken.  I labeled the bottoms of the bowls and removed the sauce containers from sight and made it a blind taste test.

I think he’s peeking.
I polled everyone and they were pretty evenly split on preference, but liked both just fine.  So . . . now it just comes down to price.  I had most of the ingredients on hand, but I checked all their current prices at Costco.  I decided it would be fair to divide the price of each item, so I was only charging for the amount I used for this recipe.  (A double recipe yielded about the same amount of sauce as the store bought jar.)

Here’s how it broke down for the homemade pesto sauce:
      4oz cheese = $2.92
6 Tbsp pine nuts = $2.18
    3 tsp garlic = $0.04
 1 cup olive oil = $1.60
       4oz basil = $4.29
     GRAND TOTAL = $11.03

And the store bought sauce?  $7.99

But . . . if I wasn’t paying for the basil, it would only be $6.74 and homemade would win on price by a narrow margin.  But when you factor in the time, and the fact that I’m now storing the rest of those ingredients, AND the fact that the husband picked the store bought sauce in the blind taste test . . . everything seems to favor store bought.

But then you remember that with homemade, you also get this:


And you really can’t put a price tag on that!

So . . . I was surprised by these results.  What do you think?  Do you make things from scratch?  Do you do it for taste or thriftyness or family time? 


  1. Nanacamille

    The reason why I defrosted…one example. I was a flt att for American along with being a mom back in the old days when we served food to all cabins for free. On a San Diego – Chicago turn around on the DC-10 with 260 passengers leaving at 7am and getting home at 5pm I was the #2 f/a which means I got all of the meals ready in the lower-lobe galley (only place to avoid smoking psgrs) for all 260 breakfasts and the return 260 lunches. I returned home at 5:45pm to "What's for dinner, Mom?" What would you do? I do make a mean turkey dinner though.
    Love, Nana

  2. Kendra

    I have NOTHING but the fondest of memories of my childhood dinners. Manwiches and Dinty Moore Beef Stew especially! Your turkey dinners are legendary.

  3. Anonymous

    Hi Kendra,I'm thrilled you enjoyed my pesto recipe and appreciate your telling your readers about it. Happy New Year. – The Reluctant Gourmet

  4. Anonymous

    Having a full time job outside the house presents its own challenges, certainly. So…I do from scratch when I can, usually weekends, and a blend all other times. I think the time we spend cooking together is precious, but the time I get with all of them instead of the kitchen is priceless too. Spagetti sauce often comes from a jar (but I have standards) then I augment further making it unique. Soup is always from scratch and has become my favorite thing to cook lately. What I will not sacrafice is dinner "time", the meal has to be balanced (even if that means frozen corn, rice-a-roni and a main course somewhat healthy) and we have to sit around the table having wonderful conversations about the day. So I think anything you do, if its done with love then its good for the family! Besides, there have been meals that I have put tons of time and effort in that nobody likes and times I've literally thrown a meal together and they loved it. -Tami


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Hi! I’m Kendra.

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