In today’s hard economic times, it can be relatively simple to keep your grocery store spending low. How? Making your own pre-made food mixes will help you achieve that goal. I am talking about food mixes that you can make now and can be used for the short term. A pre-made mix is when all of your dry ingredients in a recipe are combined and sealed for later use.
Starting with the weekly sales happening at your local grocery store will be a great place to start. For example, our stores will run sales on dried beans, $1.00 for a 1 pound bag. Buy plenty of bags when these are on sale and now you can make your own soup mixes. They are easy to combine as well as easy to cook when you are ready.
Let’s say you purchase a one pound bag of navy beans, kidney beans and pinto beans. When you get home, make several batches of pre-made soup mix.
Pre-made mix for Bean and Veggie Soup
1 cup dry navy beans
1 cup dry kidney beans
1 cup dry pinto beans
1/2 cup celery
1 cup tomatoes
1/2 cup broccoli
1 cup squash
1 cup small soup pasta (e.g. orzo, small shells or rice etc.)
Mix all ingredients together. Basically, you can add whatever veggies you had left over from your garden bounty which you had dehydrated. Whatever dry ingredients you have on hand that will go nicely in soup, throw it in! Small pastas will make a nice addition to the soup too.
I seal mine in Food Saver bags so the machine vacuums out all of the air. You can use Ziploc bags or Tupperware containers if you like since this is for current use.
When you are ready to make a batch of soup:
Bring 6 cups of broth (or water) to a boil. Add your dry soup contents from above and simmer until the beans are tender (about an hour to 90 minutes). And you can add whatever spices you like to the soup. Depending on what you and your family like, you can make it cajun flavored, chili flavored or Italian flavored by adding basil and oregano. It’s up to you. Simply add a teaspoon or two of the spices you like.
The other advantage to this type of soup mix is that when it comes time to making the soup, you can spice it the way you and your family enjoy. You can use chicken broth or vegetarian broth or beef broth. Which one has been on sale recently? When it is, you should stock up.
Some more money saving ideas to feed your family is by using some of the whole grains you’ve purchased for your long term storage. You can pre-assemble some pancake mixes or hot cereal mixes by mixing things like oats, flax seed, dried cranberries, quinoa etc. It’s easy to mix a large batch, then divide that into smaller batches, and store for your family. This will save you more time when your busy life is pulling at you, just grab a bag of mix and add water! Family is served. And money is saved!
Pre-Made Mix for Oatmeal Pancakes
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oat flour (you can make this by placing oatmeal into your food processor)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)
You can package this recipe into smaller portions, or you can seal the whole recipe together.
When you are ready to make pancakes:
After you have placed your dry ingredient mix (above) into a mixing bowl, then add 1 cup vanilla soy milk (you may also use regular milk – or mixed powdered milk), 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup egg whites (2 or 3 large egg whites).
Preheat your nonstick griddle on medium heat. When it’s preheated, use a large spoon or ladle to place batter on the griddle. At this time, you may choose to have some fruit in your pancakes. After you start to see small bubbles appear on the pancakes, then place some banana slices or blueberries on your pancakes. Wait about 30 seconds, then you can flip your pancakes and finish cooking. Serve with honey or maple syrup.
Ladies, these pre-made mixes also make nice inexpensive gifts at Christmas or for birthdays. Especially if you are ‘known’ for your cooking or baking, this idea will be a winner for you.
Remember that storing pre-made mixes is best in air-tight containers (especially good in vacuum sealed bags like the FoodSaver Vacuum Food Sealer) because ingredients like flour and others may lose their shelf life when always exposed to air.
Also remember to take advantage of the sales your grocery store runs and use your coupons!