More Bang for Your Buck Part 3: Seasonings

Welcome to Part 3 of More Bang for Your Buck.  Today I want to talk to  you about seasonings.

Real quick, take a look in your pantry and fridge and see how many packets or bottles of the following you can find:

Chili mix

Sloppy Joe mix

Stroganoff mix

Stew mix

Ranch dressing – mix or premade

Red Enchilada sauce

Spaghetti sauce – mix or premade

So, how many did you find? Those are just a few of the things I used to buy on a regular basis.  Now? Not so much.

Nope, now I make my own mixes and have them on hand whenever I need them.  Plus, I spend less per use than those little packets or premade bottles.  Taking a little time to surf the internet for recipes can pay off in spades.  Adding a little more time every so often to replenish my stock of homemade mixes saves me oodles.

Now I know some of you are wringing your hands over the lack of spices in your cabinets and the expense of those little bottles.  I’m right there with you!  You may need to spend some money to beef up your spice inventory, but there are ways to do it without breaking the bank.



First let’s take another inventory of what things you use the most.  Do you make spaghetti once a week? Or maybe enchiladas?  What about Sloppy Joes?  Do you go through gallons of Ranch Dressing?  Figure out what you use the most of during a week or a month.  Then figure out what spices or herbs you need to make up your own mix for that item.  Buy one or two items each shopping period until you have all of them that you need for that mix.  HOWEVER!!! Don’t buy those dinky little bottles at the grocery store!  If you have a warehouse store membership, or have a friend who does who will take you shopping with them, check out their stock of herbs and spices.  They generally carry much larger containers for the same price or less than those little bottles at the grocery store.  You can also check out online sources – the Bulk Herb Store, Mountain Rose Herbs, Penzey’s Spices and others offer bulk herbs and spices for good prices.  Be aware, though, that you are looking for single ingredients that can be used in a variety of mixes, not specialty seasonings.  Once you have the ingredients for one mix gathered, you may only need to add one or two other ingredients for the next mix. Oh, and of course, if you have the ability to do so growing your own herbs and drying them is an even better way to go.

Here are a few seasoning recipes to get you started.

Chili Seasoning:

4 tbsp. chili pdr

1 tsp garlic pdr

1 tsp onion pdr

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp oregano

2 tsp paprika

2 tbsp. cumin

3 tsp salt

4 tsp black pepper

To Use:  Start with 1 1/2 tbsp and increase to taste

Beef Stew Mix

2 cups flour

4 tsp oregano

2 tbsp basil

4 1/4 tbsp salt

4 1/4 tbsp black pepper

4 1/4 tbsp garlic pdr

4 1/4 tbsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp celery seed

4 1/4 tbsp onion pdr

2 tsp rosemary

Mix all ingredients well.

To Use:  Add 2-3 tbsp per 2 pounds of meat

Red Enchilada Mix

3 1/2 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp salt

1/4 cup garlic pdr

1/3 cup cumin

3 1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 cup chili pdr

1/2 cup chicken bouillon granules

To Use:

Heat 1/4 cup lard or vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Stir in 1/4 cup flour and stir for several minutes to make a light brown roux.  Add 1/3 cup enchilada mix and cook for another minute stirring constantly.  Add 2 cups water, mixing and stirring until sauce thickens.  Turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Makes 2 cups of sauce

Brown Gravy Mix

1 2/3 cup cornstarch

6 tbsp beef bouillon cubes

4 tsp instant coffee crystals

2 tsp onion pdr

1 tsp garlic pdr

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

To Use:  In a saucepan measure 1 1/2 cups water, add 3 tbsp mix.  Bring to a boil and simmer 1 minute.

Chicken Gravy Mix

1 1/3 cups instant nonfat dry milk pdr

3/4 cup flour

3 tbsp instant chicken bouillon granules

1/4 tsp ground sage

1/8 tsp ground thyme

1/8 tsp ground pepper

To Use:  Combine 1/2 cup mix, 1 cup water and 1 1/2 tbsp butter in a saucepan whisking constantly over medium heat until smooth and thick

Sloppy Joe Seasoning

2 tbsp minced onion

1 tsp (or 1 cube) beef bouillon

1/2 tsp chili pdr

1/4 tsp each salt, pepper, garlic granules or pdr

2 tbsp corn starch

To Use:  Add all ingredients to 1 pound of cooked ground meat along with 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water.  Stir well and simmer til heated through

If you want to have a wealth of seasoning mixes all in one place along with many more mixes as well, be sure to check out The Master Mix Way ebook from The Welcoming House blog. I also recommend surfing the internet for homemade alternatives to seasoning mixes you regularly use. Do you know that just having the mix on the shelf for the Red Enchilada sauce saves me at least $3 every time I make beef enchiladas? That’s $3 I can happily spend elsewhere.

So now, find some recipes for seasonings and take an inventory of your herbs and spices.  Make a plan to buy the ones you need the most and get busy.  Depending on your family, this one step could end up saving you $10 or more on your grocery budget.  Join me next week for even More Bang For Your Buck.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. frugoal
    Jan 18, 2014 @ 03:31:23

    Great info! Spices are so spendy, so it is great to downsize to the ones you just NEED!


  2. Kerri
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 19:19:39

    I started making our own spice mixes a couple of years ago. I can’t imagine doing it otherwise! I wanted to add to your list of places to purchase spices. I have purchased some herbs from Herbalcom (, and have been very pleased with their freshness, and the prices can’t be beat! The only problem is you have to buy at least 1 pound of any herb/spice. But seriously they are so cheap it would still be worth it. They have about a 7 dollar handling fee, but there is no shipping fee!



    • heavensdaughter
      Jan 20, 2014 @ 21:19:14

      Thanks for the info Kerri. I’ll have to check them out. It’s just about time for me to restock some of my most used spices. Thanks for stopping by!


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