Looking for ways to save money? Cooking at home is one solution.
It can take more time to be frugal, but if you can save time and money, that's a plus. Here's a way to do both.
This weekend, set aside an hour to prepare baking mixes that can be used for entrees and desserts. You control the ingredients (eliminating some unpronounceable ones) and cut back on packaging, for which you pay a premium.
Making a basic dry mix that's the base for a variety of baked goods is a concept that's been around for a long time. So have one-skillet meals. But combining the two to create BakeOvers is the idea of Mary Jane Butters, founder of MaryJanesFarm magazine and Web site.
Here's her concept: After you've chopped or sliced the vegetables or fruit that you want, saute them (3 to 5 minutes) in a skillet and place one of her mixes or “lids” on top like a pie crust. Place the skillet in the oven for 20 minutes, and when it's done, flip the contents upside down on a plate.
The proportions are simple. The one-skillet rule is 4 cups vegetables, 2 tablespoons butter or oil, and quick baking mix. For desserts, it's 4 cups fruit, 2 tablespoons butter or oil, and quick baking mix. Use 2 cups of quick baking mix and 1/2 cup of water for each standard BakeOver.
Ideas for one-skillet meals or desserts are endless. We found recipes for baking mixes, then we added a few touches to make them cheaper than buying a ready-made mix.
King Arthur Flour has recipes for mixes that can be stored for weeks in the pantry. When you're ready to use a mix, simply add milk or water.
The mixes can be seasoned with your favorite flavors, including chili, taco or Cajun seasonings; can be sweetened with sugar; or can be combined with nuts, dried fruit and spices. The idea also can be used to make a brownie mix.
Other ideas are available at www.maryjanesfarm.org and www.kingarthurflour.com.