When I was a young pastor's wife, I have to admit I was a little envious of other shoppers as I saw their carts piled high with all sorts of premade convenience foods while I had to stick to the basic staples to keep within my grocery budget.
I knew I could make things like pancakes, biscuits and cake cheaper from scratch since I already kept the basic ingredients on hand anyway. But it always seemed like a real chore at the time to get out all the ingredients, measure everything, and then clean up all the bowls and utensils at the end. Oh how wonderful it would be to just open a box of cake mix, dump it into one bowl, mix, bake and enjoy!
One day at the grocery store, I indulged and bought a cooking magazine put out by Family Circle called Easy Budget Meals. It was published sometime in 1979 or 1980 - I can't tell because I used it so much the cover got ripped. I found lots of great recipes I used for many years including recipes to make convenience food mixes like homemade cake mix, homemade cookie mix and an oven fried coating mix.
Pantry Shelf Cake Mix - makes 4 cakes
8 cups flour
5 cups sugar
3 Tablespoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon salt
2 cups shortening
Optional - 1 1/3 cups cocoa for chocolate cake mix
Stir the dry ingredients until well blended and then cut in shortening. Divide the mix into 4 parts (about 3 1/2 cups each) and store in quart size freezer bags in the freezer.
To use, add:
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat at low speed for one minute, then medium speed for 2 more minutes. Pour batter into greased and floured pans.
Bake at 350 degrees:
For 8" layers - 25 minutes
For 9 x 9 x 2" square pan - 35 minutes
For 24 cupcakes - 20 minutes
Pantry Shelf Cookie Mix - makes 3 batches of 3 dozen cookies
2 cups shortening
3 3/4 cups sugar
9 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon of salt
Cut shortening into sugar until crumbly, then add other dry ingredients and stir until mixed well. Divide mix into 3 parts (about 4 1/2 cups of mix) and store in zipper storage bags in the freezer.
To use, add:
4 1/2 cups mix
2 teaspoons vanilla
This makes a stiff dough
1 cup pared apple
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chocolate, butterscotch or peanut butter chips
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup peanut butter
For rolled cookies, shape in a log, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Then roll and cut with cookie cutters in desired shapes.
For dropped cookies, add 1/4 cup milk or 1/4 cup orange juice or 1 large mashed banana to the dough and drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 for 8 minutes or until golden brown.
For bar cookies, add 1 cup of fruit, flavored chips or nuts to dough. Spread in 9 x 13" pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack and cut into 36 bars.
Oven-Fried Coating Mix - Makes the equivalent of 4 packages
1 - 16 ounce can of bread crumbs (or 2 cups of homemade bread crumbs)
2 Tablespoons of Onion salt
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Combine dry ingredients, then drizzle on the oil and mix well. Divide into 4 portions and store in a zipper storage bag.
When ready to use, add any of the following:
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
or 2 Tablespoons of chopped parsley.
Place chicken pieces in the storage bag with the coating mix and shake to coat. Arrange chicken on baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes.
For pork, try adding:
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon thyme
For fish, try adding:
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill (1 teaspoon dried dill weed)
or 1 teaspoon savory
I've enjoyed making homemade biscuits and pancakes for years. Recently, I found a recipe from cdkitchen for Copycat Bisquick Pancake/Biscuit Mix. The recipe makes 8 cups of Mix
6 2/5 tablespoons baking powder
9 3/5 teaspoons sugar
7 1/5 cups flour
16 tablespoons canola oil
When ready to use, measure out 2 cups of mix, add 1 egg and 1 1/4 cups of milk to the batter for the desired consistency for pancakes.
For biscuits, use 2 cups of the mix and about 2/3 cup of milk to make dough Roll out and bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
I'd love to hear from you with other suggestions for making your own convenience foods at home!