Intro to Pantry Basics and Homemade Ketchup

Pantry Basic labelWhat are “Pantry Basics?” They’re the items that are pretty much fundamental to our everyday cooking and what our modern society has typically always bought from stores. They include things like:

  • salad dressings
  • condiments (mayo, ketchup, etc)
  • cereal
  • snack foods
  • baking items

It’s been a surprising revelation over the years to realize that most – if not all – of the things I had always bought could be quickly and cheaply made at home. And they taste better, too.

I’m sure some people think I’m a little weird when I tell them I make my own cocoa mix, or ketchup or mayonnaise. But you know what? I used to think the same thing years ago if I heard of someone who made things that were easy to get and relatively cheap. I’d think, “I’ve got lots of things better to do with my time.”

But then I started reading labels. Curses! High fructose corn syrup. Polysorbate 80 or 60. Hydrogenated vegetable oils. BHT. Gums. Fillers. Artificial color. Preservatives. Things I couldn’t pronounce. And I’d think, “But it should be tomato, vinegar, sugar, and spices.” or “All I want is chocolate, sugar, and water – why are there 11 ingredients?” It wasn’t even an issue of debating the individual ingredients and if they were or were not good for you (I’ll leave that for other blogs!)- the ingredients just seemed so complicated for items I thought should be simple.

Suddenly, I realized that taking a bit of my day to make quality food for myself and my family was actually a very good use of my time. So I have gathered a number of recipes and techniques that I will be sharing in the hopes that you, too, will find (and be pleasantly surprised, too) what I have found:

  • They really are easy! It takes less time to make than to run to the store to buy.
  • They are made with items I usually have in my pantry.
  • They are cheaper than store-bought, even though they are relatively inexpensive at the store.
  • If you want to customize them (agave syrup? organic tomatoes?), they become WAY cheaper than the store brands.
  • It’s a great feeling to serve them knowing what’s in them AND that I still have time to do all those other things.

So, to start us out, I’m sharing today that most ubiquitous of pantry items: ketchup (or catsup- I never have figured out why there are two names…). Easy and crazy-good, it’s the perfect introduction to Pantry Basics:


Easy Homemade Ketchup

  • 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
  • 1/2 c. sugar (half brown, half white, all brown, raw, fructose, even liquid sweeteners like honey or agave syrup – just add less water to get desired consistency) Update: here is the recipe that I use now using only honey.
  • 1/2 c. vinegar
  • 1/4 c. water (adjust if using liquid sweeteners)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  1. Combine until smooth in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes (you’ll need to partially cover because it will spit hot tomato out at even the lowest simmer).
  3. Keep refrigerated.
  4. Makes 1-1/2 cups.



  1.  Jenelle says

    I gave this a try yesterday and we have another winner! I have been buying the Organic Ketchup from Trader Joes which I was happy with, but this is even cheeper and just as healthy. (Woo Hoo!) and I like that I can use honey in it instead of sugar if I want to. The girls tasted and approved. This is also great because I don’t have to worry about running out of ketchup anymore.

  2.  Jami@ An Oregon Cottage says

    I’m so glad, Jenelle! My kids love it, too, though I’ve heard other people say their families won’t go for it. :-( I actually like it better than the store-bought.

    •  says

      We’ve never had it go bad, Heather, and I’m sure sometimes it’s in there for a couple months. Sorry I don’t have more specifics, though I hope that helps some!

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