Tony: mmmm, applesauce. But wow, that's expensive.
Megan: Homemade apple sauce is so easy to make and it's much better than the store version. You can use whatever apples you like, including local ones in-season, and/or organic.
Here's the applesauce breakdown.
Organic apple sauce at our local grocery store costs approximately $3 for 16 ounces (2 cups). Non-organic store brand apple sauce costs a little less than $2.
One bag of local NC apples costs $4. Today I made apple sauce from 2 bags of apples. (So approximately 6 pounds for $8.)
1. Peel the apples and core them. Cut the apples into chunks.
2. Put the apples in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat with some water and some brown sugar. For this amount of apples, I started with a little more than a cup of water, and added more as the apples cooked. For the sugar, I probably used about 1/2 cup. (Sorry to be so vague, but I really did not measure things.)
3. As the apples cook, they will begin to break down and get mushy. Add water as you see that you need it. I like to keep a measuring cup of water next to the stove. Some recipes call for apple juice instead of water, it's really up to you.
4. Use a potato masher to mash the apples. You can use an immersion blender to blend them smooth. Leave some chunks (our kids love those!) and add cinnamon if you like that.
Serve warm or cold. Cold is better but warmed right off the stove is nice at dinner.
This made a little more than 12 cups of applesauce, which is equivalent to six jars of applesauce at the store. Six jars would cost between $6-$18, depending on how organic it is. So making your own does not compete with the cost of buying the cheapest store brand applesauce, but it is much cheaper than buying premium or organic applesauce. However, I would argue that the quality (ingredients and prep) is higher with mine, than with either of the store types.
For kid school lunches, apple sauce costs $0.50 for 1/2 cup disposable with a foil lid (natural, organic, no sugar added - 6 cups for $3). Using the homemade method, you can adjust the sugar to your liking, use local apples, and it will only cost $0.17 per 1/2 cup serving. Put these in a reusable container with a metal spoon, and you're good to go.
This is a huge win-win.
Pocket: 3, Planet: 2, Win-Win: 10