Master Mix Must-Haves on the Kirk Ranch

Some of my favorite cooking staples are homemade seasoning mixes. I prefer making my own taco, spaghetti, Cajun and seasoning salt mixes instead of buying them. I make up several different kinds mixes in bulk that will last me for a long time. It’s a great way to save money versus buying the one-time use packets of seasonings. Being the frugal that I am, I love feeling like I’m getting away with something for a lot less than what others pay. I think the seasonings I make myself have better flavor also.

When I realized what a big savings it was to buy spices in bulk, I got in the habit of buying all the spices I normally use in bulk through my warehouse club membership and I get more for my money. I buy them this way also because it’s a huge convenience being distanced from supermarkets. I like knowing I’m saving money twice (on the spices and by making my own seasonings), and that the seasonings I need are always on hand and are fresh.

To save even more, I don’t hesitate to stock up on spices I find on clearance or on sale that I normally use and prefer using sea salt whenever I can find it on sale or clearance.

I seldom have trouble using up all of my bulk spices. I generally go through them before they lose their potency from regularly making up homemade seasoning mixes but if there’s any question whether I’ll use them up while still fresh, I’ll freeze the excess, although large batch mixes are a great way to use up old spices too.

My collection of these recipes comes from relatives, magazines, cookbooks and the internet. Here are some of my most-used seasonings I make regularly and cook with on a regular basis:

Homemade Cajun Seasoning Mix

(from Taste of Home magazine)

1 carton (26 oz) salt

2 containers (1 oz each) cayenne pepper (if you’re not sure how much an ounce is, I measure roughly 1/8 cup)

1/3 c pepper

1/3 c chili powder

3 T garlic powder

Makes 3 ½ cups

 Mexican Fiesta Dip Mix

(I got this from the internet and use in place of taco seasoning a lot)

½ c dried parsley

1/3 c minced onion

¼ c dried chives

1/3 c chili powder (I use Mexican chili powder when I can get it for cheap)

¼ c ground cumin

¼ c salt (I use sea salt)

¼ c crushed red pepper (the original recipe doesn’t call for it but I add it)

To make dip, mix 3 T dip mix with 1 c mayonnaise and 1 c sour cream

Seasoning Salt

(From a relative)

1 box sea salt (1 lb)

½ c sugar

½ c paprika (smoked paprika is good too)

1 oz (I measure 1/8 c instead) onion powder

1 oz garlic powder

1 oz poultry seasoning

1 oz celery salt

1 oz nutmeg

1 ½ t dry mustard

1 t mace

Good on all meats

Taco Seasoning Mix

(from the SDSU Extension Service)

This is a salt free recipe but I like salt and usually add it

1 c minced dried onions

6 T chili powder (Mexican chili powder if I have it)

4 T cornstarch

4 T crushed dried red pepper

4 T garlic powder

4 T dried oregano

4 T ground cumin

Taco Seasoning Mix

(This is a recipe my mom always made when I was growing up from the Make A Mix cookbooks. It doesn’t make as big of a batch but gives Mexican dishes good flavor)

2 t instant minced onion

1 t salt

1 t chili powder

½ t cornstarch

½ t crushed red pepper

½ t instant minced garlic

¼ t dried oregano

½ t ground cumin

I don’t make this recipe as often because I use large-batch type mixes a lot and don’t like having to get spices out to mix together first. I have quadrupled this recipe before but I generally cut back the amount of salt. Overall, I prefer mixes that make large batches that will last a while. I rely on these mixes so much that I have most of them memorized.

If you feel like buying an ounce of a particular spice seems like a rip off and one packet of seasoning doesn’t go far for the price you pay, consider investing in bulk spices and make your own seasonings; the recipes are out there. Find out what club warehouses, food service warehouses open to the public, or discount stores carry bulk spices, or search the net. Start out by buying the spices you use the most first. Get to mixin’!

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About ranchwifeslant

Amy writes a humor column based on rural living and ranch life from the southern Black Hills of South Dakota. She and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth generation cow/calf operation near Pringle; the Elk Capital of South Dakota.
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