This post share tips and links to resources for making economical, tasty and easy convenience foods from the kitchen. Instead of buying a box of instant soup, pancakes or seasonings, try these ideas for making your own. This is a project that the family can help with too! Children as young as toddlers can practice washing their hands with soap and water and helping mix the ingredients in a large bowl with the help of older children or adults.
Why pay more for convenience items at the store? Make your own recipes to save money and time. These ideas can also be packaged to give as gifts for the holidays.
What Kinds of Recipes?
Use recipes from Extension (check out the links below) or look for recipes with all dry ingredients such as: uncooked rice or pasta, dry cereal, pretzels, dry beans, nuts, dry milk, flour, sugar, chocolate chips, spices & herbs. None of these ingredients will have to be refrigerated or frozen. If this is a gift, what would the recipient like best? For example, a young family might enjoy a quick snack mix while the gourmet cook would like a tasty, low-sodium spice blend. Test out new recipes to make sure that the item tastes good, and the instructions are easy to follow.
Look for sales, compare costs of store brand to national brand, compare cost of smaller verses larger sizes and buy food in season when it is least costly or on sale.
Before any food preparation, clear and sanitize work area and wash hands with soap and water. Make sure that containers are clean and completely dry before adding any ingredients.
Storage or Gift Containers
Use only containers that are designed to store food safely. Canning jars, for example, make great containers for food mixes. If using canning jars, make sure they do not have chips or cracks. Avoid containers that contain toxic metals, such as lead, copper, brass, zinc, antimony and cadmium. Other gift containers include mugs for soup or drink mixes (put the mix in a plastic storage bag first before putting it in the mug) or salt or cheese shakers for spice mixes. There are many choices of decorative food storage bags and containers at local discount or craft stores
Decorating Gift Containers
Your decorations can be as simple as attaching the recipe to the container or you can add scrap fabric, ribbon, or colored paper to decorate the outside of the package. Tie on a candy cane, small whisk or measuring spoon for added decorations.
Information for this post was updated and adapted from Lisa Martin, EFNEP ksu.edu (2002)
Recipes Featured in OSU Extension Lucas County Classes
- Potato Soup Mix Recipe and Instructions
- Cinnamon Oat Pancake Mix in a Quart Jar Recipe and Instructions
- Spiced Tea Mix Recipe and Instructions
- Turkey Noodle Soup from the University of Kentucky Extension (they have eight additional recipes in this link)
Additional Recipes and Resources
- Beverage Mixes in a Jar from NDSU Extension Service and University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension
- Mix It Up recipes from NDSU Extension Service
- DIY Spice Mixes from NDSU Extension Service
- Blends and Rubs from University of Tennessee Extension
- Ranch Dressing recipe and Striped Soup Mix recipe from Chop Chop Magazine
- Gifts from the Kitchen, University of Illinois Extension (includes recipe for Turkey Noodle Soup Mix)