Saturday, August 14, 2010

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

Every Saturday, we post a piece from the CHG archives. This one is from February 2008.

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 33 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
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)

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

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Melissa said...

OMG! Thank you so much for this list! We have gone organic and buying premade mixes is WAAAAY expensive, but my son has been nagging me for roasted chicken like I used to make it. One of these mixes just might be the key!

Harper said...

You forgot Za'atar seasoning (Middle Eastern staple). Granted, the ingredients (ahem, sumac?!) are a little more exotic, but it's well worth it for the flavor!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like your issue is with Key Foods, not McCormick. Walmart sells the Chili Mix for around $1.00!!!!

Gayle said...

Thank you! I make most of my seasonings from scratch and I am always looking for more or different versions, so I was excited to see these. You can even cut mor costs by growing some of yourown herbs. Most are really easy to grow. and harvest.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kristen:

Saw this post picked up on! Keep it up! Nice work!

Jason R.

hillis said...

I saw this on Lifehacker this morning. Thanks for the great list. This is a page I am bookmarking now.

John said...

Does anyone have a link to dip mixes similar to those people who run the craft show circuit and mix up great tasting dips like pizza, southwest, italian, lobster, seafood, etc..? They have one of each and crackers to sample each one. They're very good. Usually a couple bucks a packet but the people who do it around here seem to have gone out of business (SwiftMix).

The silly thing is, everyone seems to have the same selection. They've got to be pulling this from some publicly available resource I would think.

JK x2 said...

My husband found your site and I must say I can related to having those "ah ha" moments while in the restroom or any other inconvenient time! :-D
Tired of getting out all the seasoning bottles every time I make chili, I started combining and making it in "bulk". I'm so excited to have all these additional spice recipes - thanks!
I've also noticed packaged seasoning mixes have way too much salt for my taste (especially things like fried rice seasoning...200-some% of your daily sodium intake in one serving...ouch!)
Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Saw this on Lifehacker, great tips!! Just wanted to add a GREAT place to get freshly grown spices at insanely low prices (I am not affiliated, just a long time customer) Sweet Freedom Farm is owned by a nice lady (Suzy) and she grows and sells a vast array of items, Cumin at $3 for a half pound is one such value.... Check it out online.

Darci said...

I'm kicking MYSELF for not knowing about this sooner. Sometimes the most obvious things… aren't. Thanks for the post!

Lee said...

What a great resource! And who isn't thinking about cost cutting methods?! Thanks for the post.