February 2018
Homeplace & Community

Homemade Convenience Mixes

Take control of the ingredients in your prepared mixes by making them at home.

Families are now more concerned than ever about what they consume. By preparing your own homemade convenience foods, this allows you to control the final product, its nutritional value, and the quality and quantity of the ingredients. You can limit fat, sodium, sugar and additives, and also save valuable time.

When comparing the costs of home-prepared foods with commercial convenience foods, remember that cost per serving is only one consideration. There are other factors to consider when deciding whether to prepare a mix at home or to buy it at the local store.

Ways For Making Convenience Mixes More Nutritious

  1. Substitute whole-wheat flour for all or part of the bleached white flour.

  2. Use vegetable oil instead of solid shortening.

  3. Use fat-free milk instead of whole milk.

  4. Add more nonfat dry milk than the recipe calls for.

When reducing fat, please keep in mind that fat adds moisture, flavor and tender texture to cookies, cakes, quick breads and muffins. Using a fruit puree such as banana, prune or apple and nonfat dairy products such as nonfat yogurt or sour cream can help to give some fat-like flavor and texture characteristics to homemade baked goods without adding fat. Adding fruit to recipes will also increase the nutritive value.

People often ask if oil can be substituted for margarine or shortening when making cookies. All three ingredients are fats, but they are not all interchangeable. Oil is 100 percent fat. Margarine is a mixture of fat and water (light margarine or spreads have a higher percentage of water). Substituting one cup of oil for one cup of margarine adds more fat than the original recipe. The cookies will have a greasy taste and feel.

Creaming shortening or margarine with sugar helps produce a cookie with a tender texture. Substituting oil in a cookie recipe may change the texture and volume.

Most recipes will not work if all the fat is eliminated. But reducing fat is a good choice. Flavor does not have to be lost when reducing fat in recipes to make them healthier. When modifying a recipe using fruit purees, replace the amount of fat called for with half as much puree.

You can easily make your own mixes at home for many flour-based foods (cakes, quick breads, pie crusts, cookies), as well as foods containing a variety of spices such as spaghetti sauce, chili sauce and meatloaf.


Flour-Based Mixes

Using a favorite recipe, combine all of the dry ingredients with margarine. Blend well and refrigerate in an airtight container, labeled with directions for preparing. Date it and use within three months.

When you are ready to use the mix, empty it into a bowl and add liquid ingredients such as eggs, milk, water and vanilla as given in the original recipe.


All-Purpose Convenience Mix

9 cups flour
2 cups nonfat dry milk
¼ cup baking powder
1 Tablespoon salt
¾ cup canola oil

In a large bowl, combine flour, dry milk, baking powder and salt. Stir together. Mix oil into dry mixture until smooth. Place in an airtight container. Refrigerate and use within a month. Or it can be divided and put into freezer-safe containers and frozen.


Cornbread Convenience Mix

Makes: 11 cups
4 cups flour
½ cup sugar
4 cups cornmeal
¼ cup baking powder
1½ cups instant dry milk
1 Tablespoon salt
1 cup margarine

In a bowl, stir dry ingredients together until well mixed. Cut in margarine with a pastry blender. Store in tightly covered container in the refrigerator or freezer. Use within a month.


Salt-Free Seasoning Mix

1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon onion powder
1½ teaspoons garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dill weed
2 teaspoons paprika

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Place in an airtight container. Store in a cool place. Use in place of salt to season food.


Hot Cocoa Convenience Mix

Makes: 4-1/3 cups
2/3 cup sugar
1½ cups dry nonfat milk powder
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1½ cups non-dairy powdered creamer, light (optional)

Into a bowl, sift cocoa. Add remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container.

To use

In saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to boil. Add ¾ cup Convenience Mix. Stir well.


Mocha Mix

1/3 cup Hot Cocoa Convenience Mix
¼ cup instant coffee

In a bowl, combine hot cocoa mix and instant coffee. Store in an airtight container.

To serve

In a cup, measure 1½ tablespoons mix. Add boiling water and stir well.


Bran Muffins

1 egg
¼ cup sugar
2/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 cup whole bran cereal
1½ cups All-Purpose Convenience Mix

Heat oven to 400°. In a bowl, place egg and beat. Add sugar, water and oil to egg. Continue beating. Blend in whole bran cereal. Add convenience mix. Stir quickly and vigorously until just mixed – batter will look lumpy. Spray or rub muffin tins lightly with oil. Fill tins about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes


Yeast Rolls

Makes: 16 rolls
1 package dry active yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2½ cups All-Purpose Convenience Mix

In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in sugar, oil and convenience mix. Beat vigorously. Turn dough onto floured surface. Knead until smooth, about 20 times. Cut off small sections of dough and shape into rolls. Arrange on a lightly greased baking pan so rolls are packed tightly and touching one another. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 400°. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.


For more information on saving money by making your own convenience food mixes and many more recipes, go to the University of Maine’s Extension service website.



Angela Treadaway is a Regional Extension Agent in Food Safety. For any questions on food safety or preparation of vegetables, contact her at 205-410-3696 or your local county Extension office.