By Erin Odom, Contributing Writer
Are you working to ditch processed foods and put more real food on the table? We're running a series called Real Food Made Simple: A Beginner's Guide to Eating Better. Our goal is to answer the questions you might have and make the transition a whole lot easier!
Even before I started cooking from scratch, I started making my own homemade spice mixes.
At first, it was out of pure laziness. I don't like to shop. Even before I had kids, I didn't like to run out to the grocery store for an item or two on my ingredient list if I could avoid it. And, hence, I started making things at home.
The very first spice mix for me to make on my own was taco seasoning. I think back then I googled a recipe, and when I realized I had all the ingredients on hand, I was elated.
The next time I was at the store, I checked the ingredient list on the back of the taco seasoning mix I normally purchased. Surely the ingredients would be the same, right?
The food labels on the bulk of store-bought seasoning mixes are full of fillers, preservatives and other unwanted fake flavor enhancers. These ingredients include:
- modified food starch (a thickener, often derived from GMO sources but not always),
- partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fat and often made from a GMO oil sources, such as cottonseed, canola or soybean),
- MSG (including "hidden" MSG under other names)
- hidden gluten (dangerous for those with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease)
- natural flavorings (So what's the big deal here? Read this.)
- silicon dioxide (to prevent caking--not necessarily bad but an additive to know about nonetheless)
- spices (This sounds innocent...but what exactly are these anonymous "spices"?),
- and more.
After learning that store-bought spice mixes aren't always so wholesome, I committed to making my seasonings at home--for both convenience and health reasons.
How to Make Your Own
Seriously, making your own spice mixes is probably the easiest kitchen task you will ever do.
- single ingredient herbs and spices
- measuring spoons
- glass jars (Depending on how much you want to mix up, anything from an old baby food jar to a canning jar will work.)
Simply combine all the individual spices together in a jar, shake the jar and--voila!--you have your spice mixes!
I have sometimes gotten in the rut of making just what I needed per meal at the time I am cooking. This is inconvenient and tags extra time onto dinner prep. I now mix up a whole canning jar at once, label the top with the ingredients needed to fill the jar as well as with the amounts needed in recipes I make frequently.
But what if you don't have all the single-ingredient herbs and spices?
No problem! Check out this handy list of herb and spice substitutions.
Homemade Spice Mixes
And now, the moment you've been waiting for: check out this full line-up of homemade spice mixes! I've also included some recipes that call for these mixes. Your family will thank you for never entering the spice mix aisle of the grocery store again!
Image by Whole New Mom
- sprinkle on toast or other baked goods
- sprinkle in oatmeal
Use in any recipe that calls for a "cream-of" soup.
Image by Stacy Makes Cents
Image by The Nourishing Home
- Crock Pot Creamy Lemon Pepper Chicken
- as a seasoning on steamed or sauteed veggies--or even in a stir-fry
Image by Day2Day Joys
(Here's another good ranch dip mix recipe!)
Use it in:
Image by Your Thriving Family
Note: Even some single-ingredient spices contain hidden fillers! Be sure to carefully read the food labels and call the manufacturer if necessary. Many health food stores and co-ops sell spices in bulk. The Bulk Herb Store and Mountain Rose Herbs are two online stores that sell quality herbs and spices.