Menu Planning and Home Made Mixes

Dear Friends,

The quickest way to a healthy and happy grocery budget is menu planning. Menu planning gives you the best chance at saving money in the grocery store and time at home when dinnertime rolls around.

And while I abhor convenience foods and their chemical ingredients (what the heck is propylene glycol doing in FOOD anyway? It’s used in antifreeze!), I understand their fast and easy convenience. Now listen, I’m not against fast and easy, I just don’t want you to pay a price healthwise or dollarwise for it!

The problem with the just add water type of convenient stuff is more often than not, it’s really unhealthy?filled to the brim the salt and additives you can’t pronounce and they don’t even taste that great (unless you like that chemical aftertaste).

Here are a few mixes that are not only very healthy alternatives, but will help you save your time and pocketbook. And the bonus? They taste way better, too! Enjoy–

Taco Seasoning:

1 cup dried minced onion
1/3 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin (I actually add an extra tablespoon?we love cumin)
4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
4 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder

Combine all ingredients and store in a cool, dry place.

When you’re using for Mexican dishes, use about 1 tablespoon or so per
1 pound ground beef, or chicken or beans. More if you like the extra

Noodle Mix:

1 cup instant nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup dried minced onion
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Combine ingredients and store in a sealable container or zipper topped
plastic bag. This will keep for 2 months in the pantry, however, I
would personally store in the fridge because of the cheese; plus it
will last longer. Mark the date on the zipper topped bag with your
Sharpie pen. This recipe doubles and triples well.

To Use: combine 1/4 cup mix with 2 tablespoons melted butter and 1/4
cup milk. Toss with 8 ounces pasta (cooked).

Homemade Shake and Bake:

1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients and store in a sealable container or zipper topped
plastic bag. This will keep up to 4 months in the pantry, depending on
the humidity (you may just want to keep it in the freezer). This
recipe will also double or triple well.

To Use:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place one cup mix in a plastic bag.

In a bowl, mix an egg and 1/2 cup of milk. Dip chicken pieces one at a
time in the milk mixture, then shake one at a time in the plastic bag.

Place on a baking pan and bake for appropriate time (depending on the
chicken you’re using?as a little as 20 minutes or up to an hour for
bigger, bone-in pieces).

Homemade Flavored Rice Mixes:

4 cups uncooked rice (I always use brown rice)
1 envelope dry onion soup mix (this isn’t my favorite, but I’m working
on a mix for this too!)
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients together and store in a zipper topped plastic
bag or sealable container. This will keep up to 4 months if stored in
a cool, dark and dry place. With brown rice, you may want to keep it
in the freezer.
To Use: Mix 1 cup mix with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower heat,
place lid on rice and simmer till liquid is completely absorbed, about
20 minutes or more. Check if you need to. (I would add an extra half
cup liquid for the brown rice)

Variations: to make Vegetable Rice Mix, substitute an envelope of
vegetable soup mix.
To make Spanish Rice Mix, substitute 1/2 cup Taco Seasoning (see
recipe above) for envelope of onion soup.


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