Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Save Money on Seasonings: MYOM (Make Your Own Mix)

The more I learn about saving cash on food, the madder I get with myself when I knowingly waste money. While this holds true for every aspect of grocery shopping, it’s double the fury when it comes to McCormick-style seasoning packets. Why? Well, almost any pre-packaged spice mix, rub, or powder can be made at home for a fraction of the price. Oftentimes, it’ll taste better, too.

Case in point: I’ve been running out of chili powder for almost a month now. It occurred to me several times to buy some, but always in places like the Q Train or the bathroom at Barnes and Noble. Finally, last Wednesday, I couldn’t wait any longer. My Turkey Chili with Beans needed a massive ¼ cup of the stuff. Pressed for time, I scrounged up a few dollars and hightailed it to Key Food, where naturally, they were all out. Rendered temporarily insane by sheer desperation, I bought a single packet of McCormick Original Chili Seasoning Mix.

It cost $2.39. ($2.39! Seriously! Not kidding! I just about choked.)

Slightly perturbed, I raced back home and immediately Googled homemade chili powders. Turns out, this Recipe Zaar mix could have been made under five minutes with spices I had lying around. Plus? PLUS? My calculations put it at a grand total of $0.18.

Needless to say, duh.

Yet, there was a silver lining, as a post was born. Listed below are roughly 35 recipes for 21 common seasoning mixes. Also included are five excellent Master Sites, in which you’ll discover dozens more concoctions beyond your wildest, spiciest dreams.

With the exception of Essence of Emeril and the Recipe Zaar Chili Powder, I haven’t tried any of these, so I’m referring them blindly. Also, I didn’t include any barbecue rubs. This is for two reasons:

A) There are approximately a billion available all over the web, and

B) I’m a born and bred New Yorker. I don’t wanna embarrass myself claiming to know anything about BBQ. (Bagels and pizza? Another story.)

Enjoy, and please go crazy in the comments section if you know of any other resources.

Master Sites
All Restaurant Recipes
Budget 101
Recipe Goldmine: seasoning search part 1 and part 2
Recipe Zaar: herb & spice mixes and marinades & rubs
Top Secret Recipes main page and search function

Adobo Powder
Chef Michele

Chili Powder

Chinese Five Spice Powder
Chow Recipe Source

Curry Powder
Alton Brown/Food Network

Emeril’s Essence/Creole Seasoning/Bayou Blast
Emeril Lagasse/Food Network

Fajita Mix
Townie Blog

Garam Masala
All Recipes
O Chef

Herbs de Provence
The Epicentre
Recipe Land

Italian Seasoning

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
All Recipes
Astray Recipes

Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
Food Down Under
Group Recipes

Lemon Pepper
Fabulous Foods

Mrs. Dash

Mulling Spice
Mom’s Budget
Price Smart Foods

Old Bay Seasoning
Busy Cooks
Cooking Cache

Paul Prudhomme Seasoning (Cajun Meat)
Recipes Market (Regular Seasoning)

Paula Deen’s House Seasoning
Paula Deen / Food Network

Poultry Seasoning
All Recipes
CD Kitchen

Pumpkin Pie Spice
Post Gazette

Shake and Bake:
All Recipes
Food Network

Taco Seasoning
All Recipes
CD Kitchen

(Photos courtesy of McCormick and Flickr member GavinBell. )

Stumble Upon Toolbar


kristen said...

Rock on! I've made seasonings before, but mainly by eyeballing my results, adding a shake of this and a shake of that. I'm thrilled to have some guidance. I'm esp. looking forward to Herbes de Provence, as those seem to be one of the most expensive blends. Thanks for these!

Meredith said...

Thanks for doing all the heavy lifting! What a great resource.

Anonymous said...

This is for McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning.

I make it without the salt, and just add the salt to taste. The combination of the chili flakes and fennel are really good.

(can't remember how to sign in to google) jjj

Scott said...

Amen! And don't forget bulk spices. I was shocked to see how far $1.00 worth of bulk cumin went toward to filling up my empty "prepackaged" cumin bottle.

K said...

I would love to find a substitute for McCormick's White Chicken Chili spice packet. I have tried several recipes and nothing is really coming close. At least it isn't $2.39 a package. I did manage to snag a few at 99 cents a while back.

hanne hanne said...

Wow, what a great resource! Thanks so much.

To follow up on Scott's comment about bulk spices, they also happen to be generally fresher than the prepackaged ones. So we win on all fronts!

Another random note. MYOM made me laugh, because in Quebec, where I live, French-speakers say Miam! instead of yum. Makes me giggle every time.

Julia said...

Ditto all the comments about this being a great resource. Thank you!

To Scott or hanne hanne--Do you end up wasting a lot because you don't use the bulk spices quickly enough? How long before they go bad?

Amy said...

This is AMAZING! I am going to bookmark this and use it often. Thank you- I know this must have taken a lot of research on your part.

Kris said...

Hey, thanks everybody! And I realized I forgot pickling spices. If anyone out there has a good mix for them, bring it on.

Krista said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! My son and I have to start a new diet (the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) for nasty stomach issues and we can no longer use commercially prepared spice mixes (most have starch and/or sugar, which we can't have. You can totally feel sorry for us... I do. lol)

This post saved me some time in the never ending list of crap to do to be able to eat now.

Untried, but looks good to me:
Pickling spice

Kris said...

Krista, thank you! Best wishes to you and your son.

Anonymous said...

This is an ongoing quest: to find a knockoff of the spice packet that comes in Kraft Spaghetti Dinner. I live the spices in that, and it galls me to have to by the whole little over-priced "kit."

many have requested it on the internets, no one has come forward with a recipe...

Julie said...

I have made Emeril's Essence before. He lists his recipes for it in one of his cookbooks, I'll see if I can find the book again (we moved and I had packed it). If I find it, I'll come share the 'real' recipe from the man himself.

Julie said...

oops, nevermind, your link is to his.

freebird said...

How could you be out of chili powder? I cannot imagine a cupboard without it. It's a staple! But I thank you and your emergency for the links you provided.

Someone you think you know said...

to the person looking for he kraft recipe for the kraft spagehtti dinner, I have never hear do of that but my italian grandmother made a quick sauce that can cook for a little as 30 mintues and still be tasty and it is all by eyeball and tatst. Use a few cloves of garlic crushed (to taste) and an onion chopped, sautee in olive oil about 1 to 2 tbsp no more than that though. ONce the onions soften add one can of plain tomato paste and brown it. This happens fast so watch, also trust your nose... when it smells rich and yummy it is time to add one can of crushed tomatoes, no more than 3 tbsp of sugar (white table sugar) a tsp on salt and a tsp of peppar (fresh gound is better but whatever you have works) a TBSP each of basil, parsely and oregano. If you have fresh go with 1/2 TBSP. And one cup of chicken broth, feel free to subtract some brooth to add you favoirte wine (chianti works well for red or a pinot for white) or vermoth. (I do a 50-50 mix of wine or vermoth to brooth). And add one bay leaf. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover halfway and let simmer for 30 minutes. Check it every so often and stir and taste. To get a flavor you like add more salt, pepper, basil, parsley and or oregano. You can also add cooked loose sausage or ground beef at about half way through cooking to add more flavor for a meat sauce. If you prefer links cook them half way in a pan or microwave and add them to the sauce when you add the crushed tomoatoes and everything else. It is really good and easy. Hope you will enjoy it.

Young Wife said...

Thank you so much! I've been looking for recipes for seasoning mixes!

lavachickie said...

Here's a stumper for you -- how would I make a scratch version of the McCormick's meatloat seasoning?

I can't for the life of me figure what's in that, but it's my total definition of meatloaf thanks to Mom's use of it while I was growing up!

Anonymous said...

@ lavachickie -- try this:

Katie said...

Any idea how long these seasonings will last? Trying to stock my pantry and make it last a year.

kathyzknight said...

Great resource, thanks! Here's our attempt at white chicken chili seasoning mix, modified from

1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cilantro

kathyzknight said...

Great resource, thanks! Here's our attempt at white chicken chili seasoning mix, modified from

1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cilantro

Anonymous said...

Where have you been all my life . . trying to replicate a mix for adding to my home canned pizza sauce. Amazon charging (gulp) $7.00 a pop, but I can get it in 2 days . . .ORLY . . .more reasonable at 3.59 in local stores . . .has funky things like maltodextrin and food starches that I am unfamiliar with using but will post recipe if I achieve success. Thanks for the leads