Showing posts sorted by relevance for query mixes. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query mixes. Sort by date Show all posts

Oct 3, 2012

DIY Seasoning Mixes: Cheap and Easy!

In the past two weeks, I've posted about DIY spice blends and DIY baking mixes. This week, I'm moving on to DIY seasoning mixes, such as those used to make tacos and Ranch dressing. All are easy to make, cheaper than buying mixes from the store, and healthier, too (because they contain no preservatives - and usually have less salt, too). Give them a try and I think you'll find them convenient and well worth while.

A Few Tips

* Add all the ingredients for any given recipe to whatever container you'll store it in. Then shake to blend.

* Store DIY seasoning mixes in air tight containers. Glass jars with lids or storage bags (like Ziplock bags) work best. I find jars more convenient; bags tend to get lost in the pantry.

* Be sure to mark your DIY mix so you don't forget what's inside. Also, be sure to write an instructions for using the mix directly onto the mix's container.

* DIY mixes last about as long as store bought spice blends - but all will loose their flavor and potency over time. Prolong the life of mixes by keeping them in a cool, dark, dry location.

* I use sea salt for all my spice blends. If you use table salt with iodine, you'll probably want to reduce the amount of salt in the recipe.

* For recipes calling for bouillon, use a product with the lowest sodium and MSG content possible.

Taco Seasoning

To increase or decrease the amount of “hot” in the spice, reduce or increase the amount of red pepper you use.

2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Ranch Dip or Dressing Mix

1 cup dried minced onions
7 tablespoon parsley flakes
4 tablespoons coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder

To use for Ranch dressing: Mix 2 tablespoons of Ranch mix with 1 cup of mayonnaise and 1 cup of buttermilk.

To use for Ranch dip: Blend 1 tablespoon of Ranch mix with 1 cup of sour cream.

In both cases, it’s best to mix the ingredients together and chill for several hours before serving.

Onion Soup or Dip Mix

3/4 cup dried onion
1/3 cup low sodium beef bouillon granules
4 teaspoons onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed celery seed
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

To use as a dip: Stir 5 tablespoons of the ix into 1 pint of sour cream.
To use for soup: Stir 5 tablespoons of mix into 4 cups of water and heat.

French Dressing Mix

1 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon onion powder

To use: In a blender, place 1/4 cup of the mix, 3/4 cup olive oil, 6 tablespoons ketchup, and 1/4 cup white vinegar. Process until smooth. Chill.

Italian Dressing Mix

2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoon paprika
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons pepper

To Use: Combine 3 tablespoons of the mix, 1 1/2 cups olive oil, and 1/2 cup apple cider-, wine-, or balsamic vinegar.

Hidden Valley Dressing Clone

1 cup powdered milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoon dried basil
4 teaspoon dried onion flakes
2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

To use: Stir together 1/4 cup of the mix with 1/2 cup water. Whisk in 3/4 cup mayonnaise.

Hamburger Helper Clone

2 cups powdered milk
1 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons onion flakes
1/4 cup low sodium chicken or beef bouillon powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon pepper

Rice-a-Roni Chicken Rice Clone

4 cups  rice 
4 tablespoons low sodium instant chicken bouillon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 teaspoon dried parsley 
1/4 teaspoon pepper

To Use: In a saucepan, combine 1 1/3 cups of the mix with 2 cups cold water and 1 tablespoon of butter. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. (Makes 4 to 6 servings.)

Cream of...Mix

4 cups powdered milk
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
1/2 cup instant low sodium chicken bouillon granules
4 teaspoons dried onion
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon pepper

To use: In a saucepan, combine 1/3 cup of the mix with 1 cup water. Add flavorings. (For example, if you want cream of mushroom soup, mince some fresh mushrooms and add them.) Cook over medium low heat until thickened. Equals 1 can of soup.
Spaghetti Mix

1 1/2 teaspoons dried onion
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon dried green or red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dried garlic flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground basil
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano

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Sep 28, 2012

DIY Baking Mixes - Save a Bundle!

It takes just minutes to make a batch of homemade baking mixes
I've already blogged about making your own spice blends. Today, I'm sharing my favorite baking mixes. Just as with spices, you can save a real bundle on these. For example, Betty Crocker's Chocolate Chip Cookie mix (a favorite in our house), sells for about $2.50 a bag. To make my own mix? Just 30 cents! And it takes no more than 10 to 20 minutes to create plenty of DIY baking mixes.

NOTE: All of these mixes store as long as the store bought variety, about 6 months, unless otherwise noted.

Bisquick Clone Mix

10 cups all purpose flour
8 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/4 cups powdered milk
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups shortening

Combine dry ingredients, then cut in the shortening. Finish by squeezing the mixture together with your hands until it resembles fine crumbs. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 months. Use exactly like Bisquick.

Cornbread Mix

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Store in a gallon sized, sealable bag. Add 1 egg, 1/3 cup milk, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and bake in a preheated 400 degree F. oven for 15 to 20 min.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Store in a quart-size, sealable bag. Add 8 tablespoons butter, 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 9-11 minutes.

Chocolate Cake Mix

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Store in an air tight container in the pantry; equals 1 box of cake mix. Mix with ¾ cup milk, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, ½ cup butter, and 3 eggs. Bake at 350 degrees F. Bake in one 8 or 9 in. round pan for 20-25 min. Bake in one 13×9 in. pan for 35-40 min. Bake as cupcakes for 12 – 15 min. Bake in a bundt pan for 45 – 50 min. Flour and grease pan before adding batter.

Carrot Cake Mix

2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons powdered vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Store in a quart-sized bag or container; makes one 13.x9 in cake. To keep the pecans nice and fresh, consider storing in the freezer. Add 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, 3 eggs, 3 cups grated carrots, 1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple. Pour into a greased 13x9 in. baking pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for 40-50 min.

Spice Cake Mix
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered milk
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup +1 tablespoon shortening
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Makes 1 cake; store in quart-sized, sealable bag. Add 2 eggs, 1 cup water, and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F. Bake in one 8 or 9 in. round pan for 20-25 min. Bake in one 13×9 in. pan for 35-40 min. Bake as cupcakes for 12 – 15 min. Bake in a bundt pan for 45 – 50 min. Grease and flour pan before adding batter.

White Cake Mix
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered milk
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon shortening

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Sep 24, 2012

DIY Spice Blends: Healthier, Cheaper - and Easy

Homemade Garlic & Herb blend
As the economy continues to decline, I've learned many of the kitchen skills my great-grandmothers knew, but which have been neglected by most today. No, I don't spend all day in the kitchen. But I've found if I make certain items from scratch, I save a considerable amount of money. Too, the end result is often healthier, being free of preservatives. To top it off, I can also do something few great-grandmas did: I can make these from-scratch recipes convenient by putting them together in bulk and storing them until I needed.

Because most of us are having to cut back on our spending these days, I'll be blogging about a variety of DIY mixes. Today, I'm posting recipes for popular spice blends. Over time, I'll share other types of mixes, including seasoning and baking mixes.

A Few Tips

* Add all the ingredients for any given spice blend to whatever container you will store it in. Then shake to blend.

* Store DIY spice mixes in air tight containers. You could re-use old spice jars, or you could use canning jars with lids or sealable storage bags (like Ziplock bags). The latter is the least convenient, since they quickly clutter up your spice drawer.

* Be sure to mark your DIY spice blend containers so you don't forget what's inside.

* DIY spice blends last about as long as store bought spice blends - but all spices loose their flavor and potency over time. Prolong the life of spice blends by keeping them in a cool, dark, dry location.

* I use sea salt for all my spice blends. I buy it coarse and grind it fine, as needed. If you use table salt, you'll want to reduce the amount of salt in the recipe or it will end up too salty - and too full of sodium. Note: Non-iodized salt has a more mild flavor than iodized salt.

* You may use herbs from your garden, but they should be thoroughly dry before adding them to a mix.

* Save even more money by purchasing your spices in bulk.

* Grocery store bulk spice bins that allow you to scoop out however much you wish to buy can save money. However, the spices tend to be less flavorful and potent because they are exposed to so much light and air before you purchase them.

* If using or purchasing whole spices (such as coriander seed, allspice, or cloves), toast them first in the toaster oven or traditional oven. This helps bring out their flavors. If needed, you may then grind the whole spices in a (clean!) coffee grinder.

Montreal Steak Seasoning Clone Recipe
We love, love, love this seasoning and rarely eat beef without it. However, it's also tasty on pork and chicken.

4 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powdered
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander seed

Mrs. Dash (Original) Clone Recipe
This great blend of herbs adds enough flavor, you won't need salt.

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon savory
1 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon black pepper

Garlic & Herb Mix
This one is very similar to Mrs. Dash's Garlic and Herb seasoning, making it perfect for any type of meat - or as a more flavorful replacement for garlic and onion powder.

2 tablespoons marjoram
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons rosemary
2 tablespoons basil
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper

Old Bay Clone Recipe
I rarely use this one, but I know you New Englanders can hardly cook without it! Traditionally, it's used on  seafood, chicken - and French fries.

1 tablespoon bay leaf powder
2 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoons ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/8 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoons ground mace
1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom

Emerile's Essence Clone Recipe
A good general spice mix for meat, fish or pasta.

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried Oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Chinese 5 Spice Powder
A classic for stir-fries, marinades, and sauces. 

60 Black Peppercorns
4 tsp Anise seed or
1 ea Star anise
2 tsp Fennel seed
12 ea Whole cloves
4 ea 1" long stick cinnamon

Curry Powder #1
Famous in Indian cuisine. This version offers complex flavor.

1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup cumin
1 tablespoon fennel powder
2 tablespoons mustard powder
1 tablespoon ground red pepper flakes (omit if you want the mix less spicy)
3 tablespoons ground coriander
1/4 cup ground turmeric root
1 tablespoon ground cardamon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves powder

Curry Powder #2
A good substitute if you can't find some of the ingredients for version #1, but not as complex.

2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons whole cardamom seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds, toasted
1/4 cup ground turmeric
1 tablespoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon cayenne

Seasoned Salt
Gives a little extra kick than plain salt.

1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons dried parsley (optional)

Poultry Seasoning

2 teaspoon ground sage
1 ½ teaspoons ground thyme
1 teaspoons ground marjoram
¾ teaspoons ground rosemary
½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Pumpkin Pie Spice
 Not only is this a must for making pumpkin pie, but it tastes great in anything that contains pumpkins.

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoons ground ginger
1½ teaspoons ground allspice
1½ teaspoons ground cloves
¾ teaspoons ground nutmeg

Apple Pie Spice
 Great for any baking that contains apples.

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamo
1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

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Nov 3, 2017

Saving Money While Eating Keto (or Whole Foods)

Saving Money while Eating Whole Foods
This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

Last December, when my doctor informed me I had type II diabetes and that if I didn't want to take insulin I needed to go on a keto diet, I was worried this new way of eating would blow our grocery budget sky high. Maybe you're trying to switch to a whole foods diet but are afraid it will cost a fortune. Or maybe you're still eating lots of processed, carb-laden food but need to trim your grocery costs. Whatever the case, the following tips will help keep your grocery budget under control, just as they have mine.

(An important point: Many people find their grocery budget goes down when they switch to a keto diet, even without implementing these money-saving tips. It helps that keto keeps you more full than the more popular high carb, low fat diet, but it also really depends upon how much processed food you're used to buying. Our budget remained about the same; previously we ate a lower carb whole foods diet.)

Courtesy of

* Keto is a moderate protein diet; it doesn't require huge amounts of meat. That should help your budget, right there!

* Learn which grocery stores in your area have a meat clearance section and what day of the week they mark down their meat. Plan to use that meat the same day, or freeze it for later use.

* Watch for meat sales, via newspaper inserts, store websites, or store loyalty programs. Plan your meals around these sale items.

* But cheaper cuts of meat, and learn to cook them so they taste great. Most cheaper cuts are either less tender (so you'll need to learn to cook them low and slow in a crock pot or Instant Pot).

* Considered canned meat. If you're not used to it, canned meat may seem weird or even yucky. But I assure you that minimally processed canned meat, like chicken breasts, salmon, and tuna, is healthy and delicious! Sometimes it's cheaper than fresh, too - especially if you buy it on sale.

* Prepare your own meat. For example, instead of buying chicken tenders, buy chicken breasts and cut them down to size yourself. Or buy a whole chicken and use the meat for several meals.

Courtesy of Jules

* Buy what's in season; it's almost always cheaper. For example, asparagus is least expensive in spring, when it's naturally abundant. (Not sure what's in season when? Check out the USDA's website.)

* Consider farmer's markets. Sometimes they are less expensive than grocery stores. (But not always!)

* Compare the cost of frozen vegetables with fresh vegetables. Often, frozen is less expensive, yet still quite nutritional.

* Grow as many of your own veggies as possible. Even having a few pots on your porch or balcony can save a lot of money, especially if you choose greens, which grow and grow and grow until killed by frost. (Some greens, like kale and collards will even stay alive in the snow.)

In General

* Shop around. Familiarize yourself with all the grocery stores in your area, so you know for sure which ones are least expensive for the foods you most purchase.
Courtesy of Clyde Robinson
* Keep a price book. Don't rely on your memory to know the best price for the foods you regularly purchase or you may end up buying something on sale without actually saving any money. Click here to learn how to make a simple price book.

* Avoid processed food, even if you think it's keto. This will save you a ton of money - and processed food is frankly never as healthy as whole food. The Internet has a wealth of made-from-scratch keto foods. (Check out my Pinterest boards, for a start.)

* Eat simple meals most days. Few ingredients usually means spending less money to make a meal. Focus on one meat and one veggie for most meals.

* Although organic produce and grassfed meat and dairy are ideal for any healthy diet, don't feel you must buy them in order to eat keto. Sure Kerrygold butter and grassfed steaks are awesome, but you can be very successful at keto while eating conventional meat, dairy, and produce.

* Consider buying in bulk. Find local farmers from whom you can buy half a cow or a pig. When you find a good deal at the grocery store, especially on a staple, buy a lot to save yourself money in the future. For fresh foods, freeze what you won't use right away.

* Meal plan. This will save your sanity, as well as your pocket book, and it doesn't have to be complicated. I usually just determine how many days I'm buying for (typically 14 or so - because the less often I'm at the grocery store, the less I'm likely to buy!), pick that many dinners, and choose basics for lunch and breakfast. Make sure you plan around what's on sale and in season.

* Meal prep. Some people find that if they have pre-made, homemade meals at home in the freezer or fridge, they are less likely to grab unhealthy food elsewhere. If grabbing food-to-go is a temptation to you, commit to spending a few hours every weekend to prep the week's meals.
Courtesy of

* Make your own spice blends. Spice mixes can not only have hidden, unhealthy ingredients (including MSG, soy, and flours), but they are more expensive than homemade mixes.

* Grate your own cheese. Do this first because pre-grated cheese has additives that are high in carbs. Do it second because it's almost always less expensive to do it yourself. Hate grating cheese? Buy a food processor! You can also save a lot of money by buying blocks of cheese on sale, grating it, and freezing it.

* Use leftovers. Either freeze them for a future meal or eat them the next day.

* Avoid eating out. Eating at restaurants or grabbing food on the go is expensive! Bring snacks and drinks with you, and eat out only as a special treat.

* Eat eggs. They are a cheap source of protein. (Even cheaper if you raise the hens yourself!)

* Eat enough fat. Natural fats are healthy and make you feel much more full. (Don't overdo it, though, or you may stall your weight loss or begin gaining weight.)

* Fast. Intermittent fasting has health benefits - and it saves your bank account some cash. Don't starve yourself, though. Just skip a meal; you'll probably find that easy to do after a couple of weeks of eating keto. (Diabetics should only fast if they are unmedicated and have their blood sugar under good control.)

* Avoid snacking. Not only do snacks burn your cash, but they slow weight loss, too. Eat enough at your regular meals that you feel comfortably full.

Courtesy of
* Avoid recipes that contain expensive ingredients. This may seem like a big duh, but a lot of low carb or keto recipes for sweets - something every newbie craves - are costly. Keto-friendly, natural sweeteners, for example, and alternative flours like almond and coconut, hike up your budget very quickly. Keep these treats occasional, and you'll save a ton of money while truly taming the sugar dragon.

* Start doing Swagbucks. This is a site that let's you earn points toward gift cards by doing Internet searches, surveys, and other things. Depending upon where you buy groceries, you can earn gift cards to your grocery store. I mostly shop at Walmart, and find I can easily get $25 - $50 off my monthly grocery bill by using Swagbucks

* Consider a Costco or Sam's Club membership - or find a friend who has a membership and go shopping with her! But be sure to compare their prices to those in your price book! Not everything at these stores is a good deal.

Jul 12, 2017

Mexican Skillet Cauli-Rice (Low Carb, Keto, LCHF Recipe)

low carb, keto, LCHF recipeThe first time I served this dish to my family, nobody had any idea I was sneaking them veggies. In fact, my husband was perplexed, thinking I was eating rice (a definite no-no because of my diabetes). I giggled like a little girl. "Nope!" I said. "There's no rice in this dinner. That, my dear, is cauliflower."

Now, I've tried quite a few cauliflower-masquerading-as-something-else recipes, and most of the time, I haven't been impressed. But cauliflower as a rice substitute? Perfect!

I make my own cauli-rice from fresh cauliflower, but if you prefer, you can now buy riced cauliflower in the freezer section of most grocery stores. (Just be sure to read the label for questionable, added ingredients.) One thing I haven't tried is using frozen cauliflower to make cauli-rice. I'm learning frozen is usually less expensive than fresh, and often has a more mild flavor suitable for cauliflower substitute recipes; but I'm not sure how well it will rice. If you try it (or already do it), please leave a comment, and I will update the post with opinions on how well it works!

To make your own cauli-rice: Quarter a fresh cauliflower and cut away the core and the bigger parts of the stems. Pop chunks of the cauliflower florets into the food processor (with the grater attachment in place), or simply chop the cauliflower florets finely with a knife until it has the appearance of rice. I usually rice several heads at one time and pop the results in the freezer for later use. Skillet Cauli-Rice Recipe

1lb. ground beef
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 batch taco seasoning (see below)
1 cup no-sugar-added tomato paste
Cauli-rice from 1 cauliflower head (or about 24 oz. of pre-riced cauliflower)
1/2 cup beef broth
2 cups shredded Cheddar and mozzarella cheese

1. In a large skillet placed over medium high heat, cook the ground beef until no longer pink. Add the onion and green pepper and cook until tender. Add the taco seasoning, mixing well.

2. Add the tomato paste, cauli-rice, and broth, stirring well to mix. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until cauli-rice softens (about 5 minutes for fresh cauli-rice, or about 9 for frozen).

3. Sprinkle cheese over the mixture and serve. Add sour cream, green onions, and other toppings, if desired, but add them to the carb count.

Makes about 5 servings. Estimated nutrition, according to SuperTracker: 227 calories; 18 g. protein; 10.2 g. carbs; 3 g. fiber;13 g. fat.

DIY Taco Seasoning
Not only is it cheaper to mix your own taco seasoning, but it makes all the dubious ingredients in ready-made spice mixes (like flours and preservatives) something you can easily avoid.

2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon oregano

May 18, 2017

Realistic First Year Homesteading Expectations

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 

I know so many people who've been waiting and hoping and praying to homestead for years. And when they finally get the opportunity to live on some land, they want to do everything all at once. They want chickens, goats, pigs, a milk cow, a huge vegetable garden, an orchard, an herb garden...RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately, they're setting themselves up for disappointment and discouragement because what they want is impossible. So let's talk about what is realistic when you first start homesteading - whether that's in the suburbs or in the sticks.

Hard Truths About Homesteading

Hard Truth #1: Money is probably the number one thing that prevents most people from homesteading on the scale they wish they could. Unless you're quite wealthy, it's just not feasible to buy land, build a house, obtain animals, house animals, and so on in a year's time.

This is not to say that you shouldn't do as much as you can with as little as you have. In fact, making do is really at the heart of homesteading. But you simply can't fudge on, say, animal housing. You can build it from scraps, yes. But chances are, you'll have to buy at least some materials in order to make the housing truly safe for your animals. (If it weren't for the cost of animal housing, our homestead would already be a menagerie!)

Hard Truth #2: It takes time to acquire the skills you need to run a homestead. Unless you grew up on a farm, you probably don't have all the skills and knowledge you need to run a full fledged homestead. That's okay! Give yourself time to learn. Want chickens? Read multiple books on the topic - not just one! This will save time, money, and heartache. Then give yourself time to implement the skills you've read about (because reading about it and doing it are very different things) before you move on to another skill.

Hard Truth #3: It takes time to run a homestead. We all wish we could quit our jobs and homestead full time. Very few people are blessed to achieve this. So, for now at least, assume you'll have to continue working away from home. That means you'll have limited homesteading hours. Don't over-estimate what you can accomplish during those hours.

Realistic First Year Goals

So what is a realistic view of what you can accomplish your first year homesteading? Honestly, that's hard to say because it depends upon your financial resources and how many hours you work at your job. But assuming you work ordinary hours, and you have a middle class income - as well as a strong desire to set up your homestead -  I think the following goals are completely achievable:

1. Start Composting. This is a homesteading basic that reduces your garbage considerably and benefits your garden and orchard...and you can do this virtually anywhere - even if you live in the city! Composting can be as simple as burying organic matter in the soil, or as expensive as buying several enclosed, rotating compost bins. More Info: Learn how to compost.
Composting is an important first step when homesteading.
2. Start a vegetable garden. It doesn't have to be huge - in fact, it probably shouldn't be. As your skills grow, so can your garden. And don't get hung up on pretty. Yes, raised beds made of rock are beautiful, but you can grow just as much food in berms that cost next to nothing. The important thing is to start growing food! More Info: Learn how to start a garden.
My very first productive garden beds.
3. Plant some fruit trees. Plant them soon, because they take a few years to begin producing fruit. However, it's better to plant trees in the take spring and summer to look for sunny locations and the least boggy land for your trees. Learn more: Fruit trees for small spaces.

Our first fruit trees were these columnar apples in pots.
4. Start learning to cook from scratch. I don't recommend trying to making everything from scratch when you're first starting out; that can be really overwhelming! Instead, start by making your own spice blends and baking mixes, then learn to make bread. And so on. More info: See more from scratch recipes.
Homemade bread isn't as hard as you think!
5. Get chickens. If you eat eggs, chickens are a homesteading essential, and - once you're set up with a hen house and run - are not expensive to maintain. More info: Learn the basics of chicken keeping in my Chickens 101 posts.
A portion of our first flock of chickens.
6. Plant a few herbs. You don't have to create a large herb garden right away. Instead, just choose 3 - 6 herbs you'll use for cooking and medicine and put them in pots. There! Done. More info: Learning to grow kitchen herbs.
Herbs in pots are easy.
7. Learn to dehydrate. Drying fruits, vegetables, and herbs is one of the easiest ways to preserve. You don't have to spend much on a dehydrator (I love my Nesco American Harvest dehydrator better than the expensive Excalibur some friends have. You can add as many trays to the Nesco as you want.) Learn more: See my dehydrating posts.
Dehydrators preserve fruit and veggies you grow, forage, or buy.
8. Learn to water bath can. This type of canning is less intimidating than pressure canning, and allows you to put up jam and jellies, pickles, and fruit. It's the perfect way to start building up your food supply. More info: Learn how to use a water bath canner.
Canning makes self-sufficiency easier.
Related Posts: 
* Homesteading Skills to Learn NOW - before you head to the farm
* How to Save Up for Your Very Own Homestead
* Prioritizing Your Homestead: Where to Start & Where to Go From There
* How Do I Quit My Job & Start a Homestead

Feb 11, 2017

Weekend Links & Updates

In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

Deuteronomy 31:6

It's been very windy. Our large, main living windows often flex in the wind. A little scary! So sometimes I put tape across them...just in case.

* Happily, my blood sugar is now regularly in the 80s and 90s - normal. And I've lost 18 lbs. since going on this super-low carb keto diet right before Christmas. Yay!

* Another pet food recall.

* Have you seen Ball's new spiral canning jars? Pretty! I think they'd be great for gifts.

* Do You Truly Cherish Your Husband?

* Dealing with Sibling Fighting and Rudeness. 

* The Link Between Gut Bacteria and Your Child's Behavior Just Got Stronger.

* How to Adopt for (Almost) Free.

* How to prepare a home inventory, in case of fire or other disaster.

* Want to make your own natural cleaning products? Here's a great resource for getting started.

* Spring is nearly here, and with spring, come nettles - a natural, free superfood. 

* How tending a garden is good for your health. 

* How to prune blueberries for a larger harvest.  

* Have you seen the crazy news story about feeding cattle Skittles? It's true! And they've been doing it for years. Poor qualify feed = poor quality meat. 

* First GMO apple going on sale.

Oldies But Goodies

* How to tell if old seeds are still good.

* How to lead your children to Christ - with a free lesson plan.

* Keeping your marriage spark on Valentine's Day and every day.

* Make your own seasoning mixes to save money and eat more healthy.

Dec 10, 2016

Weekend Links & Updates

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 In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies and your right hand delivers me."
Psalm 138:7

 * What a week! Last Sunday, we were in the ER because my son had a severe case of hives due to a food allergy. (He's just fine now.) Thursday, my doctor called and said I have fact, I'm right on the level where medical guidelines say I need insulin. (My doc is trying non-insulin pills on me first; in about a week he'll do another test to see how I'm faring.) Then yesterday, my hubby spent the afternoon in surgery.  Last weekend, he was weed whacking a trail on our property and accidentally hit a metal post with the whacker. A piece broke off the post and hit him in the throat. He bled like crazy, but wouldn't go to the doctor. Yesterday, he decided he'd better see a doc, because he could feel a weird bump on his throat. Turned out, he not only had a piece of metal in him, but it was all the way back at the base of his tongue. The doctor said if it had been just a little bit one way or the other, it would have killed him. The surgery was two hours (lots of prodding around, trying to find the metal) and now hubby is in a lot of pain. God definitely preserved his life, but if you think of it, will you pray for his healing and pain reduction?

* Recall of Publix Pancake and Waffles mixes, due to Salmonella.

* Recall of Phil-Am Smoked Mackerel due to possible botulism.

* Recall of Apple Tree Goat Cheese due to possible listeria. 

* Recall of 2 million pounds of chicken. 

* Excessive folate and B12 during pregnancy linked to Autism. 

Oldies But Goodies:

* Christmas Tradition: A Birthday Cake for Jesus
* Tricks for Mailing Christmas Cookies
* 20 Ways to Save Money this Christmas

Jul 16, 2016

Weekend Links

Harvesting tons of plums on our new homestead!
In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.

* I finally got around to counting the fruit trees on our new homestead. There are 9 apples, 11 plums, 1 pear, 1 apricot, and 2 cherries. That alone ought to keep me busy this summer!

* Betty Crocker mixes recalled due to possible E. coli contamination.

* Common additive (often not found on food labels) may cause food allergies.

* Why you might want to grow Yarrow.

* Zucchini is far more versatile than most people imagine. Take this Zucchini Brownie recipe, for example. (Find more zucchini recipes here.)

* It's important to be prepared for persecution.

* Introducing our first addition to the homestead: Buddy. He's my daughter's pet Polish rabbit. He's only about 2 lbs. and will stay that way.

Oldies But Goodies:

 * Get organized to pay your bills and never miss a due date again. 
* Powdery mildew treatment that's cheap, natural, and WORKS! 
* To the Mom Who Thinks She's Not Doing Enough 
* Homemade Yogurt in the Crock Pot