One of my very favorite hobbies (other than jewelry making and scrapbooking) is cooking. I LOVE to cook, and lately I've been cooking a lot of things from scratch. Starting "from the ground up" with ingredients is one way that I can be doubly sure that my family is not only eating healthy food, but also getting the freshest and healthiest versions of that food. No preservatives, no chemicals, no ingredients with names I can't pronounce. Just wholesome goodness. I also buy as much organic produce and milk as we can and free range chicken and lean beef.
I am very proud to say that it has been MONTHS since we have bought a loaf of bread. I make all of our bread and most of our rolls... and might I say, they are delicious. Making your own bread is SIMPLE if you have a bread machine. I just throw the ingredients in, hit the "dough" button and wait for that little beep (about an hour and a half) then I take out the dough, put it in the bread pan, cover it with a clean dish towel and walk away (it needs to rise for another 30-40 minutes) before popping it in the oven for about a half hour... viola! Fresh homemade bread! (IMO the bread is 1000% better when baked in the oven instead of letting the breadmaker bake it... and I HIGHLY recommend you also invest in a bread slicer and splurge on an excellent bread knife.)
Since I am a full-time working mom, most of my available cooking time is on the weekends. I like to do a lot of prep work for meals for the upcoming week, and cook a few good meals as well. This morning I prepped the steak that I will be cooking tonight and made a loaf of bread. As I sit here typing this I can smell the made-from-scratch corn muffins cooking (recipe from Heavenly Homemakers) that I threw together this afternoon. Dinner tonight will be Steak Bites, fresh steamed green beans, and buttered corn muffins... and there will be plenty of extra to have leftovers one night this week as well.
Another way to be sure that your family is getting nothing but the best produce (and to stay frugal) is to grow it yourself! Right now we are growing tomatoes (we have three plants... one already has 15 baby tomatoes on it!) and basil in our garden and I can't wait to make my own tomato sauce. The tomatoes have required only a little bit of work (replanting the sprouts from their original containers, watering every other day has worked the best for us) and the basil has been pretty effortless... I just water it when I remember and the rain does the rest. So far it has come up lush and bountiful.
A huge perk of my cooking hobby? My daughter LOVES to cook! I always have a little helper in the kitchen with me. She has become a pro at stirring, pouring and dividing and will often ask if we can bake something together. I love sharing this with her and it makes for some great mother/daughter time. In fact, I think I'll go get her right now so that we can start snapping the ends off of these beans for dinner tonight...