6 Pantry Staples You Should Know How To Make From Scratch

Do you know what I absolutely hate? Buying something at the store, and when I come home and put it away, realizing I already had that item.  It happens to all of us, and it is usually something really noticeable, like a jar of peanut butter, but sometimes it is a little more subtle. Like the day you turn a $6 bottle of Italian Spice Blend around and realize you have you already have all the ingredients individually in your pantry, and to top that off you have paid a premium to have someone else mix up your spices!

 

That is how I fell into making my own pantry staples. A desire to streamline my grocery budget led me down the path of “traditional” foods. But, later high blood pressure and random allergic reactions made me actually appreciate having the ability to be in full control of my food. I live on a farm, and if I am painting with broad sweeping strokes, I have a good diet. I am literally surrounded by more fresh fruits and veggies than any one family can eat all summer. With all this fresh produce at my disposal, I should be healthy and feel great.

But that was not necessarily the case. A taco dinner made even with a “reduced sodium” taco seasoning packet left me bloated, sure this one meal was only a small piece of my overall diet, but there was no denying there were consequences I could see and feel in my bloated fingers and toes. So I decided to really try and embrace cooking from scratch and ditching prepackaged and convenience foods as was reasonable for me and my family. Notice, I didn’t say ALL, but more on that later.

 

Tips and Hints

 

     Before we jump right into the recipes, which are super simple, by the way, I thought I would share some of my favorite tips and hints when it comes to mixing up your own homemade pantry staples, no matter what they are.
  1. Use a Spice Grinder freshly ground whole spices taste and smell so much fresher than ready ground ones.  Dried herbs also benefit from a quick pulse through the grinder to help release flavors.
  2. Start Small Start by slowly by trying one new homemade mix at a time, as you become comfortable with it, and tweak it to fit your families tastes or dietary needs. Once you have perfected one homemade pantry staple slowly add more to you repertoire.
  3. Round up storage containers and labels. Store spices in airtight containers. I prefer glass jars, and use mason jars and  Anchor Hocking Glass Country Comfort Jars. The plastic cases or bags that bulk spices come from getting messy in your pantry pretty quickly.
  4. Buy in Bulk Start by taking inventory of the spices you already have on hand. Weed out any spices that have passed their prime. Generally speaking, any ground spices over 1-year-old should probably be tossed, they begin to lose their potency after about 6 months. Herbs and spices can be expensive, avoid the overpriced jars in the baking aisle, try the bulk foods section of your grocery store, my favorite source for bulk foods, an Amish or Mennonite Food Store
  5. Don’t be afraid to experiment One of the great things about making your own foods from scratch is you have full control! Fine tune any ingredient to perfectly suit your tastes or your dietary needs.
  6.  Give yourself time to adjust today’s foods are loaded with artificial flavor enhancers and salt, and I think for a lot of us our taste buds have just become accustomed to overly salty or flavor-enhanced foods and when you switch to traditionally made foods initially the dish may seem bland. Just because your homemade mixes don’t punch you in the face doesn’t mean there isn’t great flavor.  Give it some time, after just a few short weeks your taste buds will adjust to your new diet.
  7. Label, label, label You will be surprised how similar some mixes look, but yet taste completely different, save yourself the headache of trying to figure which mix is which later.
  8. Figure out what your goal is and how you can reasonably attain it. If you want to limit your consumption of artificial colors or flavors, what you choose to make from scratch might be totally different than someone who simply wants to limit salt, and that is ok. Do what you can, and find healthier store-bought substitutions for the rest.  I am not here to judge you, just encourage you as you embrace more traditional cooking, and WHATEVER that may look like for you!

 

Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

 

This is one of my favorite homemade substitution for a commercially prepared a convenience mix.  It is quick and easy and has great flavor, without all the salt and flavor enhancers.

Find a printable recipe here

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons cornstarch

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, and cornstarch. Store in an airtight container.

TO MAKE TACOS

Cook ground beef until brown and crumbly; drain off excess fat.
For each pound of beef mix 2 1/2 -3 tablespoons of Homemade Taco Seasoning into 2/3 cup of cold water, add to cooked beef in skillet, simmer until thickened

 

Pizza Seasoning

 

I love this seasoning blend! You can use it any way you want, try adding 1 1/2 teaspoons in with your ingredients for a standard pizza dough recipe. You can also sprinkle it on a freshly baked pizza. It makes an amazing bread dipping oil too! If I don’t have any Italian Spice Mix mixed up  I use this in its place, with wonderful results.

Find printable recipe here

1 1/2 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dehydrated minced garlic

Combine all ingredients. The most flavorful results are achieved with a mortar and pestle or a Spice Grinder.

 

Italian Seasoning

 

Italian Seasoning is just one of those great all-around mixes to have on hand, use it whenever a recipe calls for Italian seasoning, or whenever you want to give a dish a little extra seasoning.

3 tablespoons dried basil
3 tablespoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients in a spice grinder.
OR put in a small bowl and crush with the back of a spoon.
Store in an airtight jar for up to 6 months.

 

Garlic Herb Seasoning

 

Commercially prepared Garlic Herb Spice Mixes seem to be more likely to contain “mystery” ingredients than other spice blends, so this is a great one to add to your homemade repertoire. Try this to season chicken, vegetables and potatoes.

Find printable recipe here

1/2 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder

Measure the dried rosemary, thyme, and marjoram into a spice grinder. Pulse the dried herbs together. Add the herbs to a bowl and measure the rest of the ingredients adding them to the bowl as you go.

Blend the herbs and spices thoroughly together.

Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and keep in the pantry.

 

Poultry Seasoning

 

This seasoning mix has an aromatic, woodsy flavor. Use to season turkey, chicken, stuffing, and even soups.

2 teaspoons ground sage
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground thyme
1 teaspoon ground marjoram
3⁄4 teaspoon ground rosemary
1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
1⁄2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Measure the dried thyme, rosemary, and marjoram into a spice grinder. Pulse the dried herbs together. Add the herbs to a bowl and measure the rest of the ingredients adding them to the bowl as you go.
Blend the herbs and spices thoroughly together.
Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and keep in the pantry.

 

Apple Pie Spice

 

You likely have all the ingredients for homemade apple pie spice mix already in your pantry! This is good for so much more than pies, sprinkle it on oatmeal, your french toast, or even snickerdoodles! Instead of rolling the cookie dough in cinnamon & sugar, use this apple pie spice and sugar!

Find printable recipe here

4 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon allspice
2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
OPTIONAL
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix all the spices together, and store in an airtight container.

 

 

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