Homemade vs. Store-bought: Crackers


March 17, 2011 by Leah

I just found a picture of some butter crackers (technically Homemade Yogurt and Spelt Crackers) I made on Friday. The crackers were yummy, and, actually, not too much work, and turned out much better than my last attempt at crackers (possibly because I used a recipe this time).

This reminded me of the time Aaron asked me how much money we save by making our own bread, so I had the brilliant idea to calculate how much the staples I make cost us and how much the same kind of thing (or our former favorite brands) would cost at the grocery store.

I make a lot of stuff from scratch, although some things I only try a time or two (e.g. mozzarella, which made me decide I’m saving any cheese more complicated than labneh for when I get my goats). Other foods I often make aren’t really staples for which you could get store substitutions (pel’meni? tamales? sourdough blueberry pancakes?). Still other foods I wonder why I don’t make from scratch. Salsa, for example, would be a breeze and I could throw in some whey to lacto-ferment it and make it even better for us than salsa already is.

I managed to narrow down my list of homemade foods to compare with their store bought counterparts. It includes: crackers, bread, yogurt,  noodles, tortillas, and tomato sauce. (See, Mom? I could totally use a grain mill.)

First, crackers. The recipe linked above made enough crackers to fill up my biggest rectangular glass food storage container. (Or, as the recipe would have it, 120 crackers.) It cost:

  • $.75 for the yogurt (1/8th of my $5.99 half gallon of raw, grass fed Organic Pastures milk)
  • $.85 for the flour (3/20ths of my $5.69 bag of organic whole grain Bob’s Red Mill flour)
  • $1.35 for half a stick of Kerrygold grass fed butter (thank goodness it has returned to Trader Joe’s)
  • For a total of $2.95

At this point in the process, I decided that the yummiest cracker in my pre-real food existence was the Wheat Thin, therefore Wheat Thins would be the worthy contender in the cracker category. A box at a local grocery store, Albertson’s, would set us back $3.59. Cool, we save a little bit of money by making crackers at home.

Since I was “online shopping” at the store’s website in order to price the Wheat Thins (Original), the ingredients list for Wheat Thins happened to catch my eye.

Oh. Dear. Lord.

When I got to “partially hydrogenated soybean oil” (which words I can actually hear my father singing every time I say them in my head thanks to a long-ago answering machine message recording in which he colluded), I went to the Nabisco website and, sure enough, Albertson’s has an old ingredient list. The partial hydrogenation is gone (no more trans fats), the wheat flour has become “whole grain,” and HFCS is outta there. Here’s the current Wheat Thins ingredient list in its entirety:

Whole grain wheat flour, unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate [Vitamin B1], riboflavin [Vitamin B2], folic acid), soybean oil, sugar, cornstarch, malt syrup (from barley and corn), salt, invert sugar, monoglycerides, leavening (calcium phosphate or baking soda), vegetable color (annatto extract, turmeric oleoresin). Contains: wheat. BHT added to packaging material to preserve freshness.

And here’s the ingredient list for the crackers I made: flour, yogurt, butter. Oh yeah, and some sea salt. And they were lovely with roasted garlic and honey-baked brie.


2 thoughts on “Homemade vs. Store-bought: Crackers

  1. David G says:

    The link in the first page did not find the page it was linked to. Do you mind giving a little more information on the recipe? Like which order to mix, how thin to roll out, and what temperature and how long to cook. Thanks

  2. leahkathlyn says:

    I fixed the link. You’d love that website if you haven’t come across it already. The recipe says 6-7 minutes per batch but my first took 20+ as I forgot to preheat the baking stone. After that they settled into 12-15. (Yes, I have an oven thermometer. Maybe I didn’t roll them thin enough? Couldn’t find my ruler.)

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