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PUBLISHED: 3:59 PM on Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Using master mixes to extend your food budget

When you're short on time or your food budget is stretched, a master mix is a great convenience.

Master mixes provide an efficient, economical way to ensure a delicious meal any day of the week. Master mixes can be made for making cakes, quick breads, seasonings, sauces, soups or a variety of other foods.

Having a master mix available is a huge help when it is time to prepare a meal when time is a factor because much of the food preparation work is already done for you.

Cooking with master mixes saves time because the need to assemble and measure ingredients for individual recipes is eliminated. Most mixes simply require the addition of a liquid and they are ready to use.

Using master mixes helps reduce clean-up time because fewer bowls are used during meal preparation. Also, they save money because you do no need to purchase pre-packaged mixes or products.

Making your own master mixes is as convenient as using pre-packaged products yet better as you control the ingredients. Generally, using master mixes means you spend approximately half as much as you would on a similar product from the grocery store.

One of my favorite master mixes is Light Mix.

This delicious mix can be made with either whole wheat or all-purpose flour, or a combination of the two, depending on your preference. Keeping a container of this mix on hand in the refrigerator allows you to quickly cook a special pancake breakfast or make a biscuit topped pot pie for a hearty dinner. In this article, I have included some of the recipes I use for preparing meals when both time and money are short.

Part of the appeal of master mixes is their long shelf life. Generally, mixes can be stored for up to six months in the refrigerator or a cool dark cupboard. If a mix has oil added to it, it should be stored in the refrigerator.

A mix that contains only dry ingredients and no oil can be stored in the cupboard.

Mixes can be stored in clean glass jars with tight fitting lids, canisters with lids, plastic freezer bags, or airtight food grade plastic storage containers.

Light Mix

Makes about 7 cups mix.

4 cups any combination of whole wheat or all-purpose flour

1 cup nonfat dry milk powder

2 ½ tablespoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ cup olive or canola oil

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients.

Slowly add oil, mixing continually until the oil is completely absorbed.

Store in a closed container in the refrigerator. Mix well before each use.

Keeps up to 6 months.

The following recipes are great ways to use your Light Mix. They can be easily increased or decreased depending on the size of your household.

Biscuits

Makes 8 biscuits

2 ¼ cups Light Mix

½ cup water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spoon mix into measuring cup.

Level off with a straight edge, such as a knife or spatula.

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.

Stir gently with spoon or fork until dry ingredients are moistened.

Knead gently to combine, approximately 2 minutes.

Pat the dough into a rectangle ½ inch thick.

Cut the rectangle into 8 squares.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

Muffins

Makes 8 muffins

3 cups Light Mix

1 cup water

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons honey or 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spoon mix into measuring cup.

Level off with a straight edge, such as a knife or spatula.

Combine all ingredients in medium sized mixing bowl.

Stir gently with spoon or fork until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon mixture into greased or paper lined muffin tin, filling each cup 2/3 full.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Pancakes

Makes 10 pancakes

1 ¾ cups Light Mix

1 cup water

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon honey

Spoon mix into measuring cup.

Level off with a straight edge, such as a knife or spatula.

Combine all ingredients in medium sized mixing bowl.

Stir gently with spoon or fork until dry ingredients are moistened.

Pour ¼ cup of mixture onto hot, lightly oiled griddle.

Cook until bottom of pancake is lightly browned and spatula slips underneath easily.

Flip and cook until bottom is set and browned.

Consider making up a batch of Light Mix to store in your refrigerator and have on hand for the next time you want to serve biscuits, muffins or pancakes. If you are interested in more mix recipes, the Cooperative Extension Service UAF offers a Make Your Own Mix publication that includes master mixes for buttermilk, cake, pudding, seasonings, and beverages. Contact the Juneau District office for more information: 465-8549.

Idzorek is the nutrition educator for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, Juneau District.


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