Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why I Don’t Buy Taco Seasoning Packets!

Guest post by Heather from Feel Good About Dinner as originally posted on Money Saving Mom!

Premixed spice packets and sauces promote convenience, but are they really saving you time? If you knew you could get the same (or better) results by adding just a few spices to the pot, would you still buy them?

It is a lot easier than you may think. In fact, once you learn how to use your own spices, you will wonder why you ever bought those little packets.

Not only is it easy to use your own spices, but a lot cheaper. An average spice packet costs anywhere from $0.50 to $2. That sounds pretty cheap, but when you consider that it is only for one meal, it really adds up.

Basic spices can be purchased in generic varieties for $0.50 to $1–or even cheaper if you buy from a bulk food store. These can be used for several meals or even dozens of meals.

For example, I could buy a taco-seasoning packet for $0.50 on sale for one meal, or I could buy $3 worth of spices and make more than 20 taco/Mexican dishes. Multiply that by all of the different mixes we buy, and that is a huge savings over time.

Not only is it easy and inexpensive to season your own dishes, it’s also healthier and tastier. Spice packets add a lot of extra salt, empty calories, and mystery ingredients. In addition, seasoning dishes yourself doesn’t lock you into one flavor, but allows you to adjust the flavor of the dish to your taste.

I have known people who even used both seasoning packets and spices. The packet doesn’t provide enough flavor for them, so they add extra oregano or crushed red pepper. They could have skipped the spice packet all together and just added their favorite spices.

While it can be a time and sanity-saver for some people to pre-make baggies of seasonings, I’ve found it’s easier for me to just have the spices on hand and add them in to a recipe as I need them.

Not sure where to start when making substituting homemade seasoning for seasoning packets? The following is a list of basic spices to keep stocked in your pantry and the types of dishes for which they are used:

Italian Spices
Fresh Garlic

Mexican Spices
Chili Powder
Crushed Red Pepper
Fresh Garlic

Miscellaneous Spices
Rosemary: Pork, Broth
Sage: Stuffing, Sausage
Garlic Salt

For additional help, find a good homemade spaghetti sauce recipe to learn Italian spices and a taco-seasoning recipe to learn Mexican spices. Think of these recipes as a method and not just a recipe. Once you learn how to use your own spices, it will open up a whole new window of creativity in your kitchen.

Heather lives in a Detroit suburb with her husband, Mark, and two boys, Jonathan (15) and David (10). Heather is a full-time wife and mother and a part-time substitute teacher. Heather shares how to make delicious, healthy meals for the family that are time and budget friendly at Feel Good About Dinner.

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