Well, if you haven’t already started thinking about homemade treats for holiday gifts this year, might I suggest using this fantastic concept to not only speed up the baking process in your kitchen, but also would be great for homemade holiday gifts. Just package the mixes into jars or decorative bags with a pretty ribbon and instruction card. Voila!
Today’s guest post is from Michelle at Leaving Excess…
Making brownies, cakes, cookies and breads from scratch is less expensive than using a mix, tastes far better, and leaves out all those nasty preservatives and additives. You can even sneak in some wheat germ or flax (don’t tell my family), as well as adjust for any dietary restrictions.
However, there is one thing a mix has over baking from scratch – convenience. Using a mix is quicker and can be less intimidating if you are new to or uncomfortable with baking.
The solution? I like to make my own baking mixes, which are really just the dry ingredients of a recipe pre-mixed. You know how most recipes say, “’mix dry ingredients together in a bowl’”? Well, do that and then just put the mixture into a container and set it aside until you are ready to add in the wet ingredients and complete the recipe.
I wanted containers that stacked well in my cupboards, but if you’d prefer not to spend additional money on containers, consider using those containers that you have around and have been meaning to use, or you could use plastic bags – just shake out the crumbs and save the already labeled bags for the next batch of mixes. You could reuse containers or bags over and over – there is no mess as everything in the container or bag is dry.
I started with the thing I make the most, our standard Buttermilk Honey Bread recipe. I mixed in all the dry ingredients except the yeast and put it into the container and labeled it. I stored the labeled containers in my cupboard. I repeated the process with my Cocoa Brownies, Zucchini Bread and Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. I started with three batches of each recipe. If the recipe calls for one cup of flour, I measure it out, put it in the first container, then repeat down the line and move on to the next ingredient. It takes very little time to do.
Now, when I need to make more bread or use up the last of the garden zucchini, I have a head start on my to do list. I just mix up the wet ingredients, toss in the dry and stir. It has worked beautifully! This really is the perfect answer to making your own breads and rolls for dinner. Making breads yourself saves you a lot of money and rounds out the meal, limiting the need for more expensive dinner ingredients. Unfortunately, it is hard to find time to get the breads started in time. If you already have it ready to go, you are half way there.
I recently read a tip in a friend’s cookbook, where the author said she spends an hour or two on the weekend mixing up dry ingredients and wet ingredients, storing them separately until needed later in the week and then mixing them together when she is ready to make the recipe. You probably would not want mix the wet ingredients more than 5 days or so in advance, but what a great idea for busy weekdays! I love to bake something at night or in the morning and I am much more likely to do so during the week if I just have to dump the contents of two containers together. I would recommend taking a few minutes during the weekend or a time that works for you to set this up for use when you are busy at dinner time later in the week.
My girlfriend, Julie, loved this idea so much that she and her daughter spent an afternoon making up mixes (they may have gotten a tiny bit carried away). They even wrote remaining required wet ingredients need for the recipe to each label. Check out her pantry (note that she opted for inexpensive disposable containers for her storage):
So, whether you want to mix up a week’s worth of baking mixes or six months worth of baking mixes, I hope you will give this idea a try soon. I am confident that it will help you bring even more delicious $5 Dinners to your table!
Michelle Schahn is a CPA turned SAHM turned somewhere in between. She blogs at Leaving Excess, where she chronicles her efforts to give up some of the things society tells us we must consume in order to be happy. Her sometimes reluctant, but generally cooperative family of six includes a husband, four kids, a dog and a cat.
Do you plan on making and giving any homemade gifts this year?!? Would love to hear about them!