Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thrifty Thursday--Making Mixes

Whenever I see a boxed mix in the store, my first thought is "Can I do it myself?" After I determine whether or not I can do it myself, my next questions are: "How long will it take" and "How much will it cost?" I don't usually worry about whether or not it will taste the same because 9 times out of 10, making something yourself will generally taste better because you get to control the quality of the ingredients and season it just to your liking.

There are only two packaged mixes I buy on a regular basis: Krusteaz Pancake Mix and Jiffy Cornbread mix. You can make your own pancake mix, but I prefer the texture of Krusteaz and I just have to add water. So, in the long run, it's one of the few items where convenience wins out.

I used to make my own biquick mix and buy the Krusteaz, but then I thought that was silly. I started using the Krusteaz in place of bisquick in recipes! It worked. The taste is a bit sweeter and some times I need to add an extra bit of baking soda or powder.

Here's another secret use for the pancake mix: A runny pancake batter is the perfect batter for onion rings!

Onion rings at the store are very expensive compared to the cost of making them yourself. A large onion, some pancake mix, water and oil and a bit of time. It comes down to about a third of the cost of buying it from the store.

Another mix that used to end up in my shopping cart: Taco Seasoning. You can make a big batch of Taco Seasoning, or you can season as you go. I prefer the season as I go method. I toss in a couple tablespoons of chili powder. a teaspoon of cumin, some paprika, a dash of cayenne, fresh garlic, chopped onions...I just add it in until I like the taste. Many of the packaged seasonings contain high amounts of salt and msg and other preservatives and fillers. You are getting more bang for your buck this way. As you practice adding in the seasonings, you will become more confident in what works.

Just recently, I wanted to make enchiladas for dinner and I didn't have a can of enchilada sauce. I didn't panic. I turned to the internet and found several recipes for enchilada sauce. It was so insanely easy that there's no way I'm spending $1+ on a can of sauce when I can make it for half that. I know, I's only a 50 cent savings, but don't forget...quality of ingredients, controlling the flavor.

Here's my basic Enchilada Sauce recipe

In a sauce pan, heat 2 T vegetable oil. Add in 1 1/2 T flour. Make a thick paste. Add in a large can of tomato sauce. It will thicken up to be more like tomato paste. Season with 2 T chili powder, 1 t cumin, 1 t kosher salt, a dash of cayenne, a clove of minced garlic. If it's too thick, add a bit of water or chicken stock.

Now here's the fun part: Try adding a T of dark cocoa powder!

What are some of the fun sauces/seasoning mixes you've tried?


  1. YUM! I just go to the IHOP for pancakes and Chili's for onion rings! See my most recent post for explanation!

  2. I'm lazy and don't make my own mixes, lol. Cake in a box, pancake mix in a box, taco seasoning,, and last week I bought some stuff to make spicy wings! I should try making things from scratch someday. ;)

  3. I'm so glad I stopped by your blog! I love your recipe ideas!

  4. First of all-WELCOME! I am so glad to see you here participating in Thrifty Thursday! What great tips & suggestions! I am going to try your enchilada recipe! Thank you for linking up to Thrifty Thursday this week, and as always thank you for being a friend in Bloggeritaville.
    Tales from Bloggeritaville

  5. Yum! You've made me hungry.

    Question: How long do you have to cook real onions to get the right onion ring consistency?


Thanks and have a great day!