You Have What it Takes: Frugal Homemade Foods from Your Pantry

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

I’m a firm believer that a well-stocked kitchen is more than the sum of its individual components. A complete pantry contains the building blocks for the creation of a myriad of additional delights. The frugal among us know that oftentimes, grocery items are simple and quick to create at home from basics you already have on hand. In fact, these homemade equivalents are usually superior in quality and flavor to their pricier, pre-made equivalents, not to mention considerably cheaper. The best part is that you can create it just the way you like it, with your preferred ingredients, with the intensity of flavor and amount of fat or sugar that you desire. Some of my frugal favorites are:

Hot Chocolate/Chocolate Syrup Mix

1 c baking cocoa
2 c granulated sugar
3/4 t salt

Stir ingredients together and store tightly covered.

Hot chocolate – Add ¼ cup mix and 1 cup milk to a saucepan for each serving. Heat over medium heat, stirring until mix is dissolved completely and milk is steaming. Add ¼ teaspoon vanilla to each serving after pouring into cups.

Chocolate syrup – For each ½ cup of syrup desired, blend ½ cup of water and 1 cup mix in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until smooth. Cool.

Seasoning Blends

Many seasoning blends are primarily salt. By making your own, you can not only cut back on salt content but adjust the flavor  to your personal preference. Buy your staple spices in bulk, at a warehouse store or wholesaler where you can get large quantities of those spices you commonly use inexpensively. Then, use your culinary instincts along with the Internet to guide you in creating your own spice blends. Your own blend may take some tweaking to perfect, so start with modest amounts of everything, adding more of particular flavors as desired. Add salt to your blends sparingly or leave it out and add it to foods separately.

Common spices/herbs to buy and their popular uses:

  • Granulated garlic (Italian, Greek, Oriental cuisines, seasoned salt, meat/poultry/seafood seasoning)
  • Granulated onion (Cajun and Mexican cuisines, barbecue/grill seasoning, meat/poultry/seafood seasoning)
  • Dried parsley (Italian, Greek cuisines, chicken/seafood seasoning)
  • Dried oregano (Italian, Greek, Mexican, Cajun cuisines)
  • Dried thyme (Italian, Cajun cuisine, poultry seasoning)
  • Paprika (Cajun cuisine, barbecue seasoning, seasoned salt)

Salad Dressings

The above spice blends can also be used to flavor homemade salad dressings (which can also double as tasty marinades). A basic salad dressing consists of two parts oil to one part vinegar. Seasoning blends (with sugar and salt to taste) can give a simple homemade salad dressing a distinctive flavor.

Master Baking Mix

This is a versatile substitute for packaged baking mix. Besides pancakes, waffles and biscuits, it can be used to make shortbread, dumplings or to coat fried chicken.

8 c all-purpose flour
2 c nonfat dry milk
⅓ c baking powder
¼ c sugar
1 T salt
2 c shortening

Mix all ingredients thoroughly until it resembles coarse crumbs. Store tightly covered and use within 6 weeks.

Biscuits – Stir ½ cup milk into 2 cup mix. Pour batter out onto floured surface. Roll out to ¾” thickness. Cut into biscuits. Bake 10 minutes at 400.

Pancakes – Stir 1 ½ cup milk and 1 egg with 3 cups mix. Pour batter into 4” circles onto lightly oiled hot griddle. Turn when bubbly on top.

You can avoid the need to buy a multitude of pricey, pre-packaged items by keeping your pantry loaded with the basics Live a bountiful yet frugal life in the kitchen by learning to create what you don’t have from what you do.

What can you mix up from what’s already in your kitchen?

Bonus Tip:

Another way to save on your monthly Internet and TV costs is to find a current ATT U-Verse coupon code or at least a promotion to knock down your home service bill.

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