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Eat Healthier and Save Money by Creating Your Own Meals with Master Mixes

Imagine making up a master mix and having it on hand to make your own hearty potato casserole or Beef Stroganoff dinner without a lot of added fat or sodium, but still loaded with taste.


A trip to the supermarket when you are trying to eat healthy can be intimidating as you travel with your buggy down the interior aisles. It is in these aisles that you will find the processed foods that can be so bad for our health. The draw to these items is they could save you time by having some of the steps already done for you; the downside is they are usually higher in fat, calories and sodium than what you might otherwise prepare.

So why do we find ourselves buying foods from the interior aisles of the supermarket? In a word, convenience. Time is a premium commodity; most food shoppers say that speed and ease of preparation are important considerations when buying food. That’s why meals-in-a-box has become so popular.

Generally, it isn’t the healthiest option, or even the cheapest. But, without time to prepare nourishing meals from scratch, a lot don’t know what to do.

Master Mixes are not new, and many people still use them. However, over the years making your own has become a forgotten practice. There are commercial versions of this concept such as biscuit mixes, pancake mixes, quick breads, muffins, etc. Master mixes made at home can be the basic baking master mix, sauce mixes, or meat sauce mixes. They will save you both time and money.

It seems there never is enough time. Saving time in the kitchen begins with planning. There are many food preparation concepts that incorporate the use of master mixes. This can be done on the day that food preparation is scheduled. Organization is also a key in saving time. Make lists, organize preparation space, and combine trips to the grocery store to save time, gas, and extra wear and tear on your vehicle.

Imagine making up a master mix and having it on hand to use to make your own hearty potato casserole or Beef Stroganoff dinner without a lot of added fat or sodium, but still loaded with taste. Making the master mixes takes little time or expense. You can also make seasoning mixes, rice mixes, salad dressing mixes, and much more.

Save time, money and your health, by making your own master mixes. Start off by making a single recipe of the master mix to see how your family likes it. Then, once it’s a hit, double or even triple the recipe to have them on hand and save both time and money. As if saving time and money weren’t enough as an added benefit, you control the nutritional value of the mix, since you control what goes into it.

The master mix recipe for Homemade Ground Beef Helper is healthier than what you buy in the store, saves you cooking time, and saves you money. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

For your free copy of Too Much Month At The End of Your Money with more master mixes and recipes along with additional information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. 

Homemade Ground Beef Helper

2 cups nonfat dry “instant” milk

1 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup unsalted chicken or beef bouillon powder

2 tablespoons onion flakes

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons dried parsley

1 tablespoon garlic powder


Mix all ingredients together and store in an air-tight container. Us the “Helper” mix as a base for the Ground Beef Stroganoff and Hearty Potato Casserole. (Each serves 4 to 6 people.)


Ground Beef Stroganoff

Brown 1 pound ground beef or turkey and drain fat. Add 2 cups water, one-half cup of “Helper” mix and two cups uncooked egg noodles and stir. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered 15 to 20 minutes or until noodles are tender. Top with one-half cup “light” sour cream. Serve immediately.

Hearty Potato Casserole

Brown 1 pound ground beef or turkey; drain fat. Add 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon homemade ground beef helper, stir well. Layer in casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Add 3/4 cup water, 6 peeled potatoes (sliced very thin), one cup of frozen mixed peas and carrots. Simmer covered 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Uncover and cook until excess water is evaporated.

By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609

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