It’s a really simple step, but making your own spice mixtures instead of using packets is something you can do to improve the taste and health benefits of your foods.  When we became gluten and dairy free, I began seeking out recipes so that we could avoid the allergens, preservatives, food dyes, and other additives that didn’t need to be in our food.

Taco seasoning and ranch mix are two of our favorites to make.   It’s easy to make them ahead of time and keep in a glass container, labeling contents and how much to use to replicate those convenient packets sold in the store.  Also nice is the ability to control the heat, which is especially important for taco seasoning!  We like ours mild, so I always cut back on the chili powder when mixing it.  The last time we were making Mexican food, my younger daughter was nearby and tickled at the idea of making a new batch “all by herself.”  I can safely say that this is easy for a child to make, all the while teaching about healthy alternatives to processed foods, and hey, being frugal in the kitchen.  It must cost less to make your own, right?

Making your own seasoning mixes

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This taco seasoning recipe is the one we’ve landed on after trying a few.  You can lessen or omit the sugar, and as I mentioned, I use much less of the chili powder (practically just a sprinkle).  An even greater time saver is not only making the mix in advance, but browning a few pounds of taco meat at a time and freezing extra in one-pound freezer-safe baggies.  It’s barely an exaggeration to say it’s a life-saver on a busy night when you haven’t had time to make a decent meal, and remember there’s cooked, seasoned meat in the freezer for tacos, taco salad, or burritos.  Score!

I also really, really like making our own ranch mix.  Have you ever read the label on a bottle or packet of salad dressing?  I can’t pronounce most of what’s in it.  That can’t be good for you.  Making your own allows you to use fresh herbs and spices, skip the preservatives, and even omit dairy if you’d like.  When we needed to be fully dairy free, I used this recipe, but now that we can have it in moderation, I love this recipe.  To keep the buttermilk powder fresh, I store it in the refrigerator, and I swear, it makes me smile every time I see it (and crave ranch).

Making your own doesn’t have to add stress onto your onto your evening meal.  Assembling it in bulk when you have a little time allows you to scoop and go on a busy night, just like you would with those packets.  Yet, it’s more affordable, healthier, and you can pronounce everything in it. Win win.

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