Saving Money with Homemade Convenience Mixes

— By Alex Bosse, Nutrition Education Professional for UMaine Cooperative Extension EFNEP (Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program)

Why Use Homemade Convenience Foods?

Preparing homemade convenience foods allows you to control the final product, the nutritional value, and the quality and quantity of the ingredients. You can limit fat, sodium, sugar, and additives in your convenience foods, and also save valuable time.

When you compare the costs of home-prepared foods with those of commercial convenience foods, remember that the cost per serving is only one consideration. There are other factors to consider when deciding whether to prepare a mix at home or to buy it at a store.

Is it a bargain?

Purchased convenience foods may be a bargain when the product is less bulky which will save storage space. It is more work to make the item at home, or the product contains rarely-used ingredients that you probably would not use for other recipes.

When purchased convenience foods may NOT be a bargain:

  • The main ingredient is meat.
  • It has a great deal of packaging.
  • You have the ingredients for the home-prepared product on hand and want to use them.
  • One or more of the ingredients for the home-prepared product are available either for free or at substantial savings.

Suggestions for making convenience mixes healthier

  • Substitute whole wheat flour for all or part of the bleached white flour.
  • Use vegetable or canola oil instead of solid shortening.
  • Use low-fat or fat-free milk instead of whole milk.
  • Use fruit purees in place of some or all fats when baking.

You can easily make your own mixes at home for many floured-based foods (cakes, quick breads, pie crusts, cookies), as well as foods containing a variety of spices, such as spaghetti sauce, chili sauce, and meatloaf.

Flour-Based Mixes

Our All-Purpose Convenience Mix is an easy-to-make mix that can be used in a variety of recipes, including a couple of the recipes below:

Try our Gluten-Free Flour Mix as well if you are sensitive to gluten or have a gluten allergy.

Spice Mixes

Try a few of our Spice Mixes to add to tacos, pasta, or any other recipes of your choice.

There are plenty of other types of convenience mixes out there that you can make, including whole wheat, corn, and rolled oats convenience mixes, as well as convenience mixes for hot cocoa, oil and vinegar dressing, and snack mixes. Check out some more options below.

Excerpted from University of Maine Cooperative Extension Bulletin #4029, Saving Money with Homemade Convenience Mixes