Organic, Real Food on a Budget – Homemade Ranch Dressing

This spring, I received numerous emails asking, “How do you make organic food affordable?”. Many readers want to make changes, but need some help obtaining organic, real food, without breaking the bank.

I’ve spent the last several years finding ways to cut costs and make organic food more affordable for my family and I want to share my ideas with you. All my posts this summer will be devoted to “Organic, Real Food – On a Budget”. I’ll share recipes, tips, tricks, and everything I know to reduce costs without compromising.

My first tip is to stop buying so many packaged foods and start buying whole foods instead. Packaging costs money. Why pay for cardboard and plastic when you could use that money to buy food? Most American pantries and refrigerators overflow with pre-made packaged foods. Even if the packaged food is organic, you’re still paying more than if you made it yourself. Take salad dressing for an example. Honestly, we don’t need to buy bottles and bottles of salad dressing. Most bottled dressing at the store contains preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and oils that don’t nourish. Homemade salad dressing takes minutes to prepare and will keep in the fridge for a week or two. It costs less, and you get the added bonus of knowing all the ingredients.

My everyday dressing consists of lemon juice, a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I actually squeeze the juice, drizzle the oil, and season directly over the lettuce. No need for another bowl. I toss the greens at least 15-20 times, taste, and adjust according to my whim.

We also enjoy making Ranch dressing, especially since you can use it for salad, or as a dip for chicken fingers and vegetables (I even like it on my mashed potatoes occasionally). My version takes a few minutes to prepare, uses dried herbs to keep the cost down, and keeps in the fridge for about a week. Make it and you’re well on your way to making Organic, Real Food – On a Budget!

Here are some other great homemade salad dressing recipes:

Hot Bacon Dressing from Organic Spark
Apricot Salad Dressing from Elena’s Pantry
Tahini Soy Dressing from Family Fresh Cooking
Kombucha Vinaigrette from Nourished Kitchen

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Serving Size: Makes 1 1/4 cups

Homemade Ranch Dressing

If you don't have buttermilk on hand, you can combine 3 1/2 tablespoons of milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice in a small bowl. Let it stand for 5 minutes until it curdles. That's it!


    For Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chives

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. Adjust seasonings to taste.

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  1. I’m looking forward to this series! We’ve recently made the switch to organic and whole foods and, while I’m starting to get a handle on it, the grocery budget has undergone many renovations.

    (I also wanted to add that I just got your cookbook on Thursday and we’ve already made the coconut strawberry smoothies 4 times! The only change I made was to add a banana; that added enough volume to stretch the recipe to two servings. Delicious!)

  2. Sara

    This is great Carrie. My husband and I love ranch but don’t like buying the bottle ranch dressing from the store. I’m going to try this recipe tonight- we’re making a grilled quinoa salad and this would be great on top. Looking forward to your new series!

  3. I’ve been wanting to try making mayonnaise just to use for some ranch dressing; I don’t care for it on sandwiches or anything like that. I get fresh free range eggs from the farmers market, but I still worry a little about the safety of using raw yolks; have you tried any recipes that heat the yolks enough to kill anything nasty? Or does the lacto-fermenting do the trick?

  4. Caroline

    Do you have a suggestion for using fresh herbs? We happen to be growing all of these herbs in our garden and I’d love to use them freshly picked. Can you tell me how much should these ingredients be changed, if any? Thank you.

  5. If I ever buy a bottled salad dressing it has to be really special. My standard dressing is so simple, it too, like yours, gets made right in the bowl with the salad.

    I bought a small glass jar with a shaker top on it years ago and keep it filled with a mixture of kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, dried sage, dried oregano, and dried thyme. After putting the veggies in the bowl I give this bottle a shake over the bowl and then drizzle in extra virgin olive oil and some balsamic vinegar and toss.

    Sometimes I go even more simple and just toss on some dried oregano and then evoo and red wine vinegar. It goes so well with olives, tomato, and feta in a salad!

    Also, I agree that the best way to make significant changes in your diet is to cut out processed foods. It can be a bigger hurdle than buying organic because then you have to be able to prepare the whole foods. But it makes such a difference.

  6. Marie Kenyon

    I came to one of your cooking classes a few years ago with my daughter-in-love, Michelle Fuller. I just discovered your website through Michelle’s FB profile. I just wanted you to know that attending that one class set me on a journey of changing how I eat. The first thing I did was buy the book, Nourishing Traditions. It has been a very interesting and informative journey. I now grow an heirloom, organic garden which my grandchildren love to help me with. So the change in healthy eating continues down through the generations. Thank you.

  7. Karen

    YUM!!! I made the chicken tenders and ranch dressing last night. When your husband says, “I don’t know whether to eat the chicken or the artichoke” with every bite, you know you’ve got a hit. My son, he’s eagerly awaiting lunch time so he can have the chicken tenders again :) Thank you Carrie! Everything I’ve made from your cookbook has been a HOMERUN in our home. Blessings!

  8. Ashley

    I just made this and substituted plain greek yogurt for the sour cream and it is delicious! I also didn’t have dill and added some onion powder. Yum! I have been buying organic ranch dressing a lot lately because I love having baby spinach and feta salad with ranch! I am so glad you posted this recipe, I don’t think I will buy ranch dressing again!

  9. Bryden

    I substituted the mayo with more sour cream (my mother has a very narrow range of foods she can eat,) and added the cayenne pepper, paprika, oregano, dill, and vinegar. This dressing starts off creamy, supported by a little kick from the pepper, and finishes with a beautiful aftertaste, reminiscent of a dill pickle. It’s a nice zesty ranch that will go great with the buffalo chicken dip I want to make with it.

    • Deliciously Organic

      I don’t know of a mayo recipe that doesn’t call for eggs that I can recommend. My personal opinion is that raw egg yolks – as long as they are coming from healthy, organic, pastured chickens – are fine to eat, but I know not everyone agrees with my opinion. If you aren’t comfortable with raw yolks, you can buy pasteurized eggs in the grocery store, but keep in mind some of the nutrients might have died because of the pasteurization process. Here’s a great article for more information:


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