I ran across this idea a few years ago in a book I found at the public library. I can’t really remember the title of the book or its author but it was a book about foraging for wild eatables. The one section that caught my attention the most didn’t have anything to do with collecting wild food but I thought it was good enough that I took notes.
Cooking from scratch with basic ingredients bought in bulk can save you a ton of money. It is somewhat time consuming and most people usually opt for quick meal ideas over cheap meal ideas for this reason. The idea here however is to make large quantities of a “mix” from scratch and use it as needed. Store it in the freezer in two cup quantities.
Mix 8 cups of flour, 3 cups of skim milk, 5 tbsp. sugar, 5 tbsp. baking powder, 1 tbsp. salt, and 1 lb. (about 2 cups) shortening or 1 ¾ cups vegetable oil. Blend everything together until it is the consistency of cornmeal. Store it in 2 cup quantities in the freezer. Here are just a few things you can do with it.
Biscuits- 2 cups mix, 1/3 cup of water or just enough to hold it together. Knead only a little then pat into ½ inch layer and cut into biscuits. Bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes.
Corn bread-2cups mix, 1 cup corn meal, 2 eggs, and 1 cup of water. Mix thoroughly and bake in a greased skillet or baking pan for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees.
Pancakes-2 cups mix, 1 egg, and ¾ cup of water. Mix well and pour into a preheated and greased skillet, turn over when bottom is brown.
Muffins-2 cups mix, 1 egg, ½ cup of water, a little bit of sugar if you like em sweet. Mix lightly until just blended and bake in greased muffin tins at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. You can add blueberries or other fruit if you like
Coffee cake-2 cups mix, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 egg, and ½ cup of water. Beat egg and water together then stir in mix and sugar. Don’t over stir. Pour into buttered square baking pan, and add a topping of your choice before baking.
Sugar cookies-2 cups mix, 1 cup sugar, 2 small eggs, 1/3 cup of water, and 1 tsp. of vanilla extract. Mix well and drop onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Sprinkle with sugar immediately after you remove from oven.
Brownies-1 cup mix, 1 cup of brown sugar, ½ cup of cocoa, ¼ cup of vegetable oil, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, and 2 eggs. Mix everything together well and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Bad banana bread-2 cups mix, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 egg, 1 or 2 bananas past their prime mashed up, 1 or 2 tsp. vanilla extract and enough water to make a smooth batter. Mix thoroughly and bake in bread pan for about 1 hour at 375 degrees.
Fruit pudding-2 cups mix, 1 cup of sugar, 2 eggs, ¼ cup of water, and two cups of fruit. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking pan or casserole dish. Pour fruit onto bottom of pan, mix other ingredients well and pour on top of fruit. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees or until done.
Beer and apple bread- 2 cups mix, 2 tbsp. Sugar, 1 cup of apple sauce or finely chopped apples, and enough beer to make a medium batter. Bake in a bread pan for about an hour at 375 degrees.
Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be time consuming but it does usually require a little planning ahead of time. Collect recipes that use mostly basic ingredients and plan your menu for the week in advance. Use the batch mix cooking technique described here to create your own recipes and you will save a lot of money.