Frugal Friday: Don't Make Your Own Hummus

Let's chat about insourcing! Insourcing is a fancy (somewhat made-up) word for the basic sentiment of "get off your a$$ and do it yourself!" 


Insourcing includes things like mowing your own lawn instead of hiring your co-workers kid, making your own food instead of ordering postmates, hanging your own pictures instead of paying for a "task-rabbit" to do it for you. If you don't know what task-rabbit is, keep it that way. YOU DON'T NEED IT. My current favorite insourcing task is making my own bread in my newly Craiglisted bread machine! My $40 purchase will pay for itself after about 15 loaves of bread made and not purchased.  After that, it's all money saving gravy.

Insourcing is key to living a frugal life and keeping lifestyle inflation in check. Especially in this modern age where you can outsource (read, pay someone else) to do literally anything for you (again, stay off of task-rabbit).  Certainly there are times where it's necessary to pay someone with special skills to perform a task for you and I am definitely not above [limited] treat yourself meals and lyft rides.  But the important thing is that those "treats" remain just that - treats.  I won't delve fully into hedonic adaptation and the greatness of stoicism here (that's another 10 posts), but the key is that if you can do it yourself, do it.

HOWEVER, there are times when doing it yourself just doesn't pay off. Sometimes the money you save just isn't worth how much time a task can take, or times when doing something yourself would actually be more expensive due to the cost of inputs.  Let me illustrate with my recent hummus making experience.

I subscribe to the food blog Cookie and Kate and I LOVE it.  The recipes are bomb and it teaches you to cook in season.  So when a homemade hummus recipe, alluringly entitled "The Best Hummus," popped in my inbox last week, you best believe chickpeas went on my grocery list.  The recipe didn't seem too difficult and the ingredient list wasn't very long - win! I am frugal warrior and I will insource all the foods!

First, tahini (the all-important ingredient in hummus) aint cheap.  I spent $7 on a can of tahini and used about 3/4ths of it in the recipe. I also bought 2 cans of chickpeas (my store didn't have any dried chickpeas or I could have saved money here... but that also would have taken much more time in soaking and cooking the beans for hours), 3 lemons, and used olive oil and spices I already had at home.  All in all I spent over $10 to make my hummus... Even the fanciest of hummus at my Sprouts will run me a cool $7.  This recipe also took me about 1.5 hours total time of boiling the beans, blending the ingredients, and clean up. That's a lot of time to spend inside on a beautiful Saturday mashing up mushy beans with some flavorings.  

Was the hummus good? Yes. What it mindblowing? No.  I didn't even put pine nuts or roasted peppers on it which would have cost me way more money but could be conveniently purchased for around $5 pre-made.  Obviously there are other benefits to making it at home including creating less plastic waste (since my raw ingredients came in cans), control over your ingredients, ... and maybe something else? Oh yes, the joy of cooking. right. 


Ultimately, lesson learned.  Don't insource just for the sake of insourcing. Scrutinize the things you purchase ready made, but don't make things at home if it isn't going to save you time or money. Obviously there will be time when you want to try something new and that's great! But I made this mistake for you so you don't have to. 

And if spending 2 hours inside on a Saturday pureeing chickpeas sounds like a perfect day to you, carry on master chef! Just try to find a way to get your ingredients in bulk :)