Monday, November 25, 2013

Frugal Holiday Baking, Part II

Just in time for the holidays, I am providing a list of homemade versions of some of the most popular foods on the market. If you are on a tight budget this year, these homemade substitutes will save you money (in addition to being much healthier)! Last week I posted Part I which included Bisquick mix substitute, boxed yellow cake mix substitute, cream of chicken soup and a generic cream of... soup substitute. You can see those recipes here.

I have researched many substitute mixes over the years as I looked for new ways to save money. Today, I am posting a few more of my favorites. I have tried all of them and they taste delicious! 

Homemade Stove Top Stuffing Mix
6 cups cubed bread (Cut up into small pieces like the boxed brand. I usually use whatever bread I have on hand but it tastes better if you don't mix different types of bread. For example, don't use 3 cups of sourdough bread and 3 cups of oat bread together.)
1 TBS parsley flakes
3 tsp chicken bouillon
1/4 cup dried minced onion
1/2 tsp celery seed (or 1/2 cup dehydrated celery)
1 TBS poultry seasoning
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground pepper

Bake bread 8 to 10 minutes on a sheet pan. In a large bowl toss bread with remaining ingredients till evenly coated. Store in an airtight container. This will keep for 1 to 4 months or 12 months frozen. Cook just like you would for the prepackaged mix:

To serve four people: Combine 2 cups stuffing mix with 1/2 cup boiling water and 2 TBS melted butter. To serve the entire batch: combine 1 1/2 cups boiling water and 1/3 cup melted butter. This recipe comes from my friend Chef Tess. You can see the original on her blog, here.

Homemade Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 whole vanilla beans (you can substitute 2 tsp to 2 TBS of vanilla powder)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, milk powder and set aside Split open the vanilla beans and use the back of a knife to scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the sugar mixture and whisk well to evenly combine. Use a fork to break up the chunks of vanilla beans, if necessary. Combine 2 cups of milk with 1/2 cup of the mix in a medium saucepan over high heat. Whisk constantly until it boils. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (about 3 to 5 minutes). Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

If you make your own vanilla flavoring, you will know that vanilla beans can be very expensive! You are not saving money by making this when you purchase whole vanilla beans unless you can get them cheaply. Another good alternative is to use 2 tsp of vanilla powder in place of the vanilla beans. Vanilla powder is a little harder to find but much cheaper. King Arthur Flour sells it. So does Emergency Essentials, you can see their products here and here. One of these cans from Emergency Essentials will last for years! The vanilla powder tastes just as good as the vanilla beans in this recipe! When serving this mix as pudding, I will use 2 TBS of vanilla powder. If using this mix in a cake recipe, I will use 2 tsps. You can see the original recipe here.

Homemade Kool-Aid Concentrate Mix
1/2 cup unsweetened fruit juice
2 tsp honey (you can use a bit more to taste)

Place juice in a saucepan and heat over low heat. Add the honey and stir until dissolved. You can make this a Gatorade substitute mix by adding 1/4 tsp sea salt to the juice/honey mix. Use  2 - 3 tsp per glass of water or use the entire amount with 2 quarts of water. Any leftover concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. You can see the original recipe here.

If you have kids at home, I bet they will drink a lot of Kool Aid/soda while they are on break from school. Kool Aid (and soda for that matter) is nothing but artificial ingredients. This is a much healthier alternative. It is also much cheaper! Besides, you can make any flavor you like!

Try some of these boxed mix substitutes in your cooking this holiday season! You can make them ahead and store in glass jars if you would like! (I store mine in canning jars.) They sit on my shelf just like the boxed versions would. Once you find out how easy they are to make and use, you won't want to return to the box version again! Take it from me, when you use these boxed mix substitutes, you will save money!

Now, how frugal is that?

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