Reviewed by Jen Kulman

A few years ago, Jennifer Reese wrote an article that analyzed the cost effectiveness of making six different pantry staples versus buying them. I loved that she tried her hand at making cream cheese and wrote an honest account, thereby saving me the trouble. I thought her comparison idea was a really great one, and so thrilled to find that she expounded on that idea and wrote an entire book devoted to the premise. Which foods should you cook from scratch, and which are you better off buying? Thanks to this exhaustive research project – we can make our own informed decisions with fewer headaches.

Frequently, I buy a convenience food or pantry staple, and think to myself “It would be so much cheaper and healthier if I would just make this at home.” Exactly how much cheaper would it really be and how much work and time will that entail? Reese lays out the answers so neatly. The header of each recipe addresses three important points. A make or buy it determination, the amount of hassle involved, and a cost comparison of the two. I love how you can tell with just a glance how each item stacks up. Definitely make your own caramel corn, guacamole, cornbread, lemonade, and whipped cream, as the improved taste is well worth your efforts and you’ll save money to boot. Try your hand at making your own onion rings, doughnuts, bacon, and eggnog if you are a person who enjoys a challenge and cleaning up the kitchen. Buy goat’s milk, duck prosciutto, pot stickers, and honey, as the hassle-ometer is off the charts.

The variety of foods she tries her hand at is staggering. Reese does some amazing things, such as buying live turkeys for roasting, keeping bees for honey, and buying a chunk of raw fish to make her own sashimi. Certainly her initial idea was interesting, but it is her follow-through, presentation and writing that elevates the book to fabulous! Some of the recipes contain a simple paragraph outlining her experiences, while the more involved (such as killing chickens or making your own hot dogs) take up a few pages. Several of the stories had me laughing out loud. Hands down, the funniest, most entertaining cookbook I own.

Reese made foods at home that I would never dream of replicating, but she also provides recipes that are definitely in my future. I adore her chapter on cheeses and will absolutely take a stab at making my own Marscapone, and possibly the Burrata. You will never convince me that a homemade pickle can touch a Claussen, but I believe in granola fresh from the oven and homemade apple pies are worth every peel. Even if you know in your heart you will never whip up your own mayonnaise or snatch a warm egg from a chicken, it sure is fun to read about another person’s wild kitchen experiments, particularly when the stories are told as humorously as these.

Read an interview with Jennifer Reese about writing Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, or check out her blog The Tipsy Baker, summarized as “One woman cooks through her collection of 1000 cookbooks and feeds the results to her family.”

Rating: 5/5

Jen lives in Michigan with her husband and six year old son. She writes reviews of children’s books on her blog, FIRR-Kids and loves filling her own shelves with cookbooks.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Get Red PR. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.