ThriftyFun News July 24, 2004 - Cooking and Baking from Scratch

ThriftyFun News
Cooking and Baking from Scratch

Volume Six, Number 28, July 24, 2004


Today's issue has links and information about cooking and baking from scratch.


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This newsletter contains:

  • Tip Contest
  • Cooking and Baking From Scratch
  • Recipes and projects for educators (and mothers)
  • Recipe for a Master Mix
  • Homemade Pasta
  • How Low Fat Baking Works
  •'s Recipes
  • Make Your Own Frozen Foods
  • Make Your Own Flour Tortillas
  • Cutting Food Costs: Saving Time vs. Money

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A Simple, Proven, Effective Formula for Freeing Yourself from Debt and Staying That Way.

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Cooking and Baking from Scratch

Here's a post from one of our readers, which I think sums up why I like cooking from scratch...

"Cook from scratch. It is really not that hard or inconvenient. Once you do it for a while, it will seem like you've done it forever. The savings are great and this way you know what you and your loved ones are eating."

- Mandy

If you have any tips or ideas about Cooking from scratch, feel free to post them here:

Cooking and Baking from Scratch

Here are some links about baking from scratch. Most cake, cookie and muffin mixes add the flour, baking powder and baking soda, (sometimes the fat or oil and spices or extracts) other than that you still need to add a lot of ingredients. So why not start from scratch? Then you know exactly what is in what you bake and you don't have to pay the addition costs for their preparation.


The Home Baking Association has lots of wonderful recipes for baking from scratch:

Recipes and projects for educators (and mothers)


Recipe for a Master Mix

This recipes provides a start mix for muffins, pancakes and Mixes - Homemade Pasta - How Low Fat Baking Works

Cooking From Scratch's Recipes

This website has ton of recipes for making your food from scratch. Included are recipes for salad dressing, pizza dough and hundreds more. The goal of the website is "wholesome home cooking on a tight budget", it's definately work a look. They also havea nice write up on why you should cook from scratch. You can read that here:


Here's the recipe index:

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Make Your Own Frozen Foods

I use my stock pot to make huge pots of soup, or chili, or spaghetti sauce to use for one dinner and freeze the rest in meal-size portions and use one a night when there is not time to cook and you still need a hearty meal.

I also make several meals worth of meatballs, either for spaghetti, swedish meatballs or mealball subs. Freeze in meal-size portions and then pull out a quick pack before going to work. By the time you get home, they will be thawed and ready to go.

Meatloaf is also a favorite. I make several at one time and again, freeze them. Sometimes, I will slice it and put lunch-size portions into the freezer. A real quick lunch, You can make your sandwich, complete with your condiment (mayo, mustard, bbq sauce) and by lunch time, the slice will have thawed.


And I figured out if one of the major frozen food companies can freeze mac and cheese, so can I. I just double wrap in foil, and then in a plastic freezer bag (which is reusable). I also freeze lazagna, stuffed shells and the recipe for the meat that I use for stuffed peppers. On a night that I have left-over rice, I pull out a portion of the meat that I froze. I try not to freeze rice, it's a texture thing for me. The next night, I only have to blanch the peppers, mix the meat and rice, stuff and put into the oven for a half hour or so.

Whatever I cook, whether a roast of beef or a whole chicken, some of it usually ends up ground up and in the freezer for either hash or sandwich filling. For hash, a quick recipe is to use frozen hash brown potatoes mixed with the ground meat and whatever spices you like (I like to add a touch of cumin with my pepper and a touch of salt).


Just a touch of oil in a skillet, add those ingredients and whatever else might be in your fridge (peppers, onions, peas, left over veggies, whatever)

For sandwich filling, a little mayo, a little mustard, some pepper, maybe a little pickle relish, and viola, a great filling for even a simple hotdog roll.

That's enough for me. Take care all!


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Make Your Own Flour Tortillas

There are a lot of items you can make yourself. I ususally stock up on tortillas when they are on sale at the store. I have had success freezing them. Sometimes it's fun to make a couple batches of your own and they are quite cheap to make.

Makes about 12 tortillas

- 4 cups Unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 4 teaspoons Baking powder
- 2 tablespoons Vegetable shortening or Lard
- 1 1/2 cups Warm water or more if needed

Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Gradually work the shortening or lard into the flour with a pastry blender (A pastry blender helps make the texture that you want with tortillas). Continue mixing until the flour and shortening (or lard) is completely mixed. Next, start adding water until the dough is soft but not so much that it becomes sticky.

Once the dough is ready, make three ounce balls of dough. You can use a small scale to get an idea of how big three ounce portions should be. Role each ball until they are about 1/8 inch thick and 6 incches in diamater (a great size for fajitas).

Too cook the tortillas, heat a skillet on medium high heat. Place the tortillas one at a time on a dry skillet. Cook until they are light brown and then flip and then flip over and brown the other side.

Now you have fresh warm tortillas! You can eat them warm or store them for later in the fridge.

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Finally, here's a great article to read about the balance between saving money and saving time.

Cutting Food Costs: Saving Time vs. Money
By Rachel Paxton

When I first started consciously cutting back on my household expenses, reducing my grocery bill was one of my highest priorities. After I got married and started juggling my career, my marriage, and the responsibilities of being a parent, however, I had to rethink some of my ways of doing things.

You may think that if you make everything from scratch that you will save a lot of money at the grocery store every month. In a lot of cases, this may be true. When you prepare your own meals you will often see an immediate cost savings per portion, and perhaps an overall increase in nutritional value as an added bonus. So what if you don't have the time to cook?

That's a good question, and one that cannot easily be answered. If you only buy prepackaged foods to save you time in the kitchen you're definitely going to end up spending more money than necessary. I would suggest that you might be able to find a happy medium.

Every week I think to myself that it would sure be nice to make some homemade cookies for my daughter to have for snacks during the next week. About once every 2 months or so I might actually make them, but most of the time I choose not to because it would take up a Sunday afternoon that I'd like to use to do other things. Would it save me money to make the cookies myself? Sure, if the alternative would be to buy a $4 package of Oreos. However, when Oreos go on sale for $1.99 or less a package, I'll stock up on a few and know that my money was wisely spent, while also freeing up my time for other things. Better yet, once a month or so we might go to Walmart and stock up on Little Debbie snacks that average about $1 a box. You could hardly make a batch of cookies for $1. Now don't get me wrong, I love to bake and enjoy a homemade cookie as much as anyone else. It's just not always the best use of my time and/or money.

Recently my mother-in-law and I were discussing the price of chili. We had found some on sale for .99 a can and thought that was a pretty good deal. For that price I probably wouldn't take the time to make it. The regular price was $1.30 - $1.50 a can, and I just couldn't justify paying that much for it. I'd just do without or make a pot of chili myself and freeze some for later. My husband's aunt overheard our conversation and commented that she had bought a case of chili on sale for .59 a can! I sure wouldn't have passed that deal up.

You just have to watch prices on your favorite items and purchase them when they go on sale. You have to be somewhat flexible, however, and be willing to purchase alternate items or do more cooking when prices are high.

It's all a matter of priorities. If you have the time and enjoy spending time in the kitchen, then by all means cook from scratch whenever you can. I sure do. On the other hand, if you have days like me where you come home from a long day at work wondering what to fix quick for dinner, you might consider balancing the amount you're spending on groceries with the time you will save yourself in the kitchen by stocking up on a few convenience items, like Tuna Helper or prepared spaghetti sauce. I've found that I'm saving even more money than ever before by buying these convenience foods when on they're on sale, while also making things from scratch when I have the time. Just keep your options open and you will find what works best for you.

About The Author: Originally published at Suite 101. Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home decorating, crafts, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking at

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