Make “Mixes” from Scratch- Healthy Way to Save Time & Money

We make “mixes” all the time at The New Deli. So, when we need to make a new batch of whatever (meatballs, meatloaf, salad dressings, etc) in a hurry, we don’t have to add a bunch of individual spices– that would take too long! We have jars of various dry mixes, and just need to add a few other ingredients to complete a recipe fast.

Display of sage, fennel, oats, and others herbs and spices, mixes in jars$AVE Time & Money: Four Homemade Mixes

For anything you make often enough, you will save time if you make a big batch of parts of the recipe that will store well. Examples? Angel Sweeza of Heart-Hands-Home has many recipes listed here. (She’s posted a lot of baking mixes, for bisquits, cookies, cakes, oatmeal mixes, tortillas, etc.)

Here’s four more ideas for you:

1.) “Meatball Mix”: You can check out our Spaghetti and Meatball recipe here. And you might notice that there’s a rather long list of ingredients (twelve, just in the meatballs). But we make meatballs so fast at The New Deli because we already have seven of those ingredients blended and processed into a “Meatball Mix”. All we add to that is a little Parmesan, egg, and the beef. If we want to make a vegetarian version, we just use some Parmesan, “Meatball Mix”, and a falafel-type dry mix. After adding water to that, we’ve got a vegetarian-style “meatball” that’s seasoned like yummy Italian sausage. So good!

2.) “Meatloaf Mix”: If you like to make meatloaf, and like to doctor yours up with a long list of herbs and spices, it could save time for you to have the blend on hand. You could make meatloaf several times, but more easily. At our deli, we process oatmeal with some sage, dried onion, and salt. We add some of that mix to each batch of meatloaf. Two great things are happening: We’re using a more gluten-free “filler” in place of the typical bread crumbs often added to meatloaf, and: We’re adding a few extra seasonings at the same time, without having to go through a longer list of ingredients, adding them one at a time, each time.

Another nice thing about having this blend of oats and herbs around: Wow, it makes a great dredging “flour” for chicken. (A gluten-free flour at that!)

If you happen to love The New Deli’s meatloaf, and want to make it yourself, we do add another long list of goodies to it. But we don’t add ’em one at a time- we have a seasoned tomato paste on hand; we just add a spoonful of that to each batch of meatloaf. If you want that recipe, you can find it here. (It also has multiple uses, for salad dressing, soups, etc.)

3.) Italian Dressing Blend: Another trick of the trade, from The New Deli! We get pretty busy most days, and don’t have time to make each batch of Italian from scratch. But we do have time to mix it up, using some of the “Italian Dressing Concentrate” that we keep in the freezer. It is a processed blend of fresh garlic, basil, oregano, tarragon and salt; when we’re running low, we blend up some of it with olive oil and red wine vinegar. The immersion blender works great for this, but a regular blender or processor, or even hand-whisking, would work too.

For the exact recipe for a single batch of the dressing, see here. But you can increase the recipe and store portions in the freezer, like we do. It’s quite handy!

4.) Taco Mix: If you make lots of tacos, you might try making your own taco mix. For starters, you can make your own chili powder. The main ingredients are cumin powder, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne (and perhaps some ground oregano). Many companies also add MSG, but who needs that?!

Experiment to get your favorite blend, for “Taco Seasoning”.  It did seem that, to be “authentic” (as in “more like store bought”…), my mix needed a hearty dash of sugar. Palm sugar would be a healthy substitute, and it would still give that taco meat that flavor we love. All I added to the mix was some homemade chili powder, sugar, and salt. A dash of vinegar tossed in after cooking the beef was the finishing touch. The kids were pretty impressed with a homemade taco mix that tasted (at least) as good as store bought. Only cheaper and healthier!

PS I’ve added this post to the “Simple Lives Thursday” blog hop post on my online friend Diana’s website, My Humble Kitchen. Lots more good links to articles for making life more simple!

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