Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Seasonings and Sauces

My frugal tip of the... month... is: Make Your Own.

These are some things I used to buy at the store already made, and I've figured out that I can EASILY and CHEAPLY make them myself at home, using mostly ingredients I normally have around the house. Some of you readers will be thinking "uh... duh..." and for others, it will be like a light bulb turning on. That's how it's been for me these last couple years. Some of these things I never thought to make myself until I was forced to make as many budget cuts as I possibly could. I'll put a price comparison at the bottom of each recipe.

Taco Seasoning
chili powder - 1T. per pound of meat, more or less to taste.
I also add a sprinkle of paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.

To cook (using the directions on a seasoning packet):
1. brown meat completely
2. add about 3/4 cup of water per pound of meat, add seasonings
3. bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes (until water is cooked out).

Ok, taco seasoning is pretty cheap, right? I mean, I can actually buy a packet at Aldi for like $0.30. No biggie. However, when I looked at the ingredients and realized it was mostly chili powder - Martins has chili powder on their $1 rack, and I could probably use one container to make 10 pounds of taco meat. So, that's about $0.10 (maybe a teeny bit more adding the other seasonings). Still, half the cost. That's big savings. If your grocery store doesn't have a dollar rack, shop around - I bet you can find it cheap somewhere. Dollar stores sometimes have a few spices.

Hollandaise Sauce:
(this recipe is taken directly from my Betty Crocker cookbook)

3 large egg yolks
1 T lemon juice
1/2 cup firm stick butter (do not use margarine or veg. oil spreads)

1. Stir egg yolks and lemon juice vigorously in 1.5 quart sauce pan. Add 1/4 cup of the butter. Heat over very low heat, stirring constantly with wire whisk, until butter is melted.

2. Add remaining 1/4 cup butter. Continue stirring vigorously until butter is melted and sauce is thickened (be sure butter melts slowly so eggs have time to cook and thicken sauce without curdling.)

3. Store covered in refrigerator. To serve refrigerated sauce, stir in small amount of water when reheating over very low heat.

Ok, this one is MUCH cheaper to make yourself. A sauce packet costs about $1.78 (last time I checked). Then you still have to add a stick of butter (and maybe milk? I can't remember for sure)! So, we won't count the butter in either of the prices. Last time I bought eggs (two days ago) they were 9 cents per egg. So, for three eggs, that's $0.27. A squirt of lemon juice - pennies. So... would you rather spend $1.78 on a packet of egg yolk, or $0.30 on eggs??? This really is very easy to make, it's just a little putsy because you really do have to stir it constantly to keep the eggs from curdling. But, it only takes a few minutes. I usually make it last, so it's fresh and warm to pour over whatever I'm making with it.

Teryaki Sauce (thanks Fawnda for the reminder on this one!)
This is also a Betty Crocker recipe.

1/4 c. vegetable oil (I always use canola)
1/4 c. soy sauce (I use low-sodium)
2 T. ketchup
1 T. white vinegar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (sometimes I just use garlic powder).

That's it. Just mix it all together, and add to veggies, meat, or whatever. You can also use this as a marinade. I really can't do a price comparison because I haven't bought Teryaki sauce in so long. But I'm guessing this is probably at least half the cost of buying a bottle.

Spaghetti/Pizza/Maranara Sauce

Tomato sauce (however much you need)
Oregano to taste
Some other spices to try: black pepper, garlic powder, basil... experiment.

For pizza sauce I just pour a small can of tomato sauce ($0.25 at Aldi) over 2 pizzas, then sprinkle oregano over it. For spaghetti or pasta sauce, I heat it up in a sauce pan, add the spices, and mix well before adding to pasta. Truthfully, red pasta/pizza sauces are pretty cheap. I think it's a little cheaper this way, but I don't think you're saving a huge amount. Personally, I just like this recipe because it's not full of all those weird ingredients that you don't know what they are. It's just straight up tomato concentrate and spices. For a heartier sauce, you could add green peppers and onions, or any other vegetables to the sauce. Yum yum!

Well, that's all for now. I would love to hear more, if anybody out there has any great ideas! I love the feeling of being able to make something myself that "they" want you to think you have to buy.


  1. I also like to add brown sugar to soy sauce and use that as a Teryaki sauce... Yummy!

    I also make a good shish-ca-bob sauce by combining Ketchup, bbQ, honey, brown sugar, and season salt. I don't measure I just add it in a bowl and keep tasting it until I like it ;) It is good and kinda tastes like Arby's sauce.
    It is good on grilled meat and veggies- well ya know, like shish-ca-bobs

  2. We do that too! If there is something I want to make and don't have it, I just google whatever it may be and make it myself. Some recent ones were self-rising flour, brown sugar, taco seasoning, sour milk, buttermilk, etc. The internet is such a great tool for that kind of stuff!