Stop using those store-bought seasoning packets and make your own for less

Dry Seasoning Mixes for Meats

TDS Reader Contributors

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Wanted: Dry Seasoning Mixes

One way we are cutting expenses is on groceries. I was wondering if you or any of your readers have any recipes for dry mixes for meats. You know the ones you see at the grocery store in packets for marinades. I thought if I could make my own and put it in baggies, I could just add the liquid and not only save money, but save time. I'd appreciate any help you could pass on.

Check Out the Ingredients

A long time ago our family really liked Oven-Fry mix for chicken. Finally, I looked at the ingredients and the three main ingredients were flour, paprika and salt. Now when I want to oven-fry chicken, I just put flour on a plate, sprinkle on some paprika and salt and mix it a little and roll the chicken in it. It's delicious and a whole lot cheaper.

Experiment With Dry Mixes

First, try the liquid only, with no seasoning, and see how you like it. A little oil and a little lemon juice for chicken. Or a little sherry and a little soy sauce. A little burgundy and a little water for beef. You can add some pepper (or ginger, or garlic), if you like, but the marinades add flavor all by themselves, and they're very easy to use.

And you can't get it wrong! Whatever you do in the way of proportions and spices, you're not getting it wrong, you're trying a different recipe!

(I think those marinade packets must have a lot of filler; the actual spices could never take up enough room to make a packet you could sell.)

If you really want to make marinade ahead of time, try filling a bottle with, say, a half-cup of burgundy or sherry and a half-cup of water. Then add a tablespoon or two of soy sauce. Use the red one on beef, the white on chicken. Add a tsp of ground ginger to the white one, a half tsp of pepper to the red one, if you want. Why bother with baggies and adding liquid?

Start by Buying Bulk Seasonings

Pre-packaged marinade mixes are mostly salt, sugar, preservatives and a few (very few) herbs and spices. Buy the spices in bulk--a couple of tablespoons each until you know what you like. Grow your own herbs and sneer at plastic packages and dollar-an-ounce prices. Decide which tastes you like by mixing a tiny bit of the herb or spice with cream cheese or yoghurt cheese and try it on a cracker. Once you know the combinations, you can use them as dry rubs for baking or broiling, as flavoring for rice, lentils, beans or veggies, or add them to liquid for marinades. The liquid in marinades is usually something acid, like wine, citrus, tomato or yoghurt, some oil, plus the seasonings.

Teriyaki has soy sauce, citrus juice, sugar, garlic and ginger in it. Taco flavoring has chili powder, garlic, onion, cumin, salt and pepper. Curry has garlic, onion, cinnamon, cardamon, coriander,tumeric, and ginger. Pesto has olive oil, basil, pine nuts, garlic, and maybe parmesan cheese.

Marinades don't have to be made ahead of time--why bother? Lemon juice, butter, garlic and breadcrumbs turn shrimp into Scampi. Onions carmelized in a little orange juice with salt, pepper and olive oil, top chicken breasts for baking. Purchased or home made salsa tops fish. Delicate chicken and fish only need 20-30 minutes of marinating. Tough cuts of beef need longer in the acid to become tender.

Consult a couple of cookbooks for the concept involved, then adjust for your own tastes. It's easy!
Syn F.

Related: Homemade Seasoning Mixes

Don't Just Season, Add Nutrition

You will be better off not worrying about dry mixes, use some spice and whole foods to season your meat. If you are trying to save money, use very little meat as it is very expensive. Our family of 7 uses only 1 pound of meat in most recipes. Season highly with tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, pineapple and other fresh foods. I buy meat that is on sale and prepare large quantities of meat and freeze it. Put a large cut up roast in the roasting pan with onions, garlic, tomatoes and peppers on 250 degrees and make a big batch of mexican shredded beef, freeze in ziplock sandwich bags and use in tacos, burritos, taco salad or enciladas. Cook up hot italian sausage with onions, garlic and tomatoes to create a large batch of spaghetti sauce to freeze in ziplock bags. Buy a whole turkey, serve it one night roasted (limit servings by serving many filling side dishes) then slice and dice up the rest and bag in sandwich bags to use for casseroles, salads, etc. The Make-a-mix books have some dry seasoning recipes as well as many other prepared ahead recipes. I have found that it is often cheaper and just as easy to use whole foods prepared ahead. Remember the proper servings of the food groups and you will save money, your diet should be top heavy in fruits and vegetables, plenty of starches (without fats or sugars on them) and have a minimal amount of protein, fats and sugars. Every meal at our house include rice, pasta, beans or potatoes as well as lots of veggies and/or fruit and often whole grain bread. Good luck.
JulieBeth L.

Web Resources

Here are a couple of sites you can go to and get info.
Mccormick Spices
CopyKat Recipes [Main Page]

Buy groceries, earn cash back at Checkout 51

Basic Dry Rub

For the reader that needed some homemade ideas for marinades for meat, I want to pass along this recipe that I found in the paper. I used it on steaks and on chicken. It tasted great.

Basic Dry Rub

2 Tbsps. salt
1 Tbsp. cayenne
2 Tbsps. ground black pepper
2 Tbsps. ground cumin
2 Tbsps. chili powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
3 Tbsps. paprika
1 Tbsps. light brown sugar (I omitted this.)
2 Tbsps. granulated sugar (I omitted this.)

Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 1 month. (I think it can be stored longer.) Rub the meat with some of the mixture about 1 hour prior to cooking. For a "wet" marinade, pour on some oil and/or vinegar.

This is a spicy mixture. I used less the second time I cooked with it, because my children were commenting on how spicy it tasted. This recipe can be stretched quite a bit and made to last for a long time. I enjoyed the flavor especially on the chicken!

Three Basic Mixes

I have a couple of dry mixes I got from my local/state agricultural extension program.

Onion soup seasoning mix
{use in recipes calling for dry onion soup mix}

4 tsp. instant beef boullion granules
8 tsp. dried minced onions
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. bon appetit seasoning

Combine and seal in a foil pack. This makes 1 seasoning pack.

Italian Seasoning

3/4 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
1/2 cup dried parsley flakes
1 Tbls. garlic powder
3 Tbls. dried minced onion
1 Tbls. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. crushed red peppers

Mix and store in refrigerator

Taco Mix

2 tsp. instant minced onion
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. instant minced garlic
1/4 tsp. dried oregano leaves

Combine all ingredients. Place on six-inch square aluminum foil and fold to seal. repeat recipe to make as many packages as you need. One recipe is enough seasoning for 1lb. of hamburger. When you're ready to make tacos, brown one pound of hamburger with the taco seasoning mix. Serve with taco shells,letttuce and tomato.
Caz in Washington state

Watch Those Baggies

I've experimented with baggies, & sometimes if using them for something with liquids, the liquids will leak. This is just a thought, but her wanting to make her own mixes, make them in bulk like she was talking about, but put them in a jar with a lid & take out as much as she needed at the time & reseal. There are so many meat rub recipes out there, this is an idea she might rather do than use baggies.
Terri in NV

Take the Next Step:

  • Check out our friends at Easy Recipes. The site is dedicated to making nutritious eating easier for working people by providing guides for quick and easy home cooking, a database of thousands of recipes, and easy cooking videos.
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
  • Recipes for your own sloppy joe seasoning.

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