Tonight’s Scratch vs. Store bought comparison is for Stove Top Stuffing, Chicken flavor vs. Home made Stuffing on the stove.
Stuffing from the Stove, chicken flavor
6 cups cubed bread – I used 100% whole wheat ($1.25)
1/4 c diced onion ($.08)
1/2 c diced celery ($.10)
1 T dry parsley
1 t dry thyme
1 t ground pepper
1/2 t ground sage (I’m counting $.10 for all herbs, and I think that’s high. I buy them out of bulk bins by weight, very cheap!)
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c. chicken stock (free from the freezer)
1/4 c. butter ($.37)
Chop bread and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until toasted, tossing once. While the bread is in the oven, saute the onion and celery over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add seasoning, stock, and butter, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add bread when removed from the oven. Stir to combine, remove from heat, and leave covered for five minutes.
The Cost Breakdown:
Stove Top Stuffing mix costs $3.59, plus $.37 in butter, for 6 servings at $.66 per serving.
Home made stuffing costs $1.90 for 6 servings at $.37 per serving. It would be cheaper if I made my own bread.
Home made stuffing on the stove wins at more than 40% cheaper than Stove Top.
The Taste Test:
Stove Top Stuffing tastes like the chicken flavoring packet in Top Ramen. It’s very salty and has a “fake” chicken flavor, according to Mr. Penny. He loves Top Ramen, so this was not a disqualifier for him; I do not love Top Ramen, and it was way too salty for me. The texture is gummy, mushy, and there is no dimension.
The home made stuffing had a more subtle flavor and the added textural elements of onion and celery were welcome additions. The sage, thyme, and parsley gave it a nice herbed flavor, but next time I’ll add poultry seasoning to intensify it a bit more. The bread held its own, not dissolving into mush at the introduction of real chicken stock.
On flavor and texture, home made wins by a landslide.
The Time Factor:
The scratch version took 15 minutes from start to finish. I cut up the bread and popped it in the oven for about 10 minutes; while that was in the oven, I diced up onions and celery, sauteed them for a few minutes, and finished the preparation.
The Stove Top Stuffing took just under 10 minutes. I brought the water and butter up to a boil in a few minutes, then let it sit the 5 minutes suggested on the box.
The 5 minute time difference is small enough that it wouldn’t be a deciding factor for me.
Ingredients of Stove Top Stuffing: Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Onions (Dried), Salt, Contains Less than 2% of Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Yeast, Cooked Chicken and Chicken Broth, Maltodextrin, Celery (Dried), Monosodium Glutamate, Parsley (Dried), Spice, Sugar, Caramel Color, Turmeric, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, with BHA, BHT, Citric Acid, and Propyl Gallate as Preservatives.
I try to avoid high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils; I buy bread without either. Again, home made wins for its real food ingredients.
Scratch vs. Storebought winner:
If it isn’t obvious by now, you haven’t been paying attention! Stove Top Stuffing has no place in our pantry; home made really is the way to go on cost, flavor, texture, and health.
Are there any products you’re curious to see tested? Post Scratch vs. Store Bought requests in the comments!