Baking and Desserts
by Hsiao-Ching Chou
The world of convenience products is vast and has led many time-starved families into believing that scratch cooking is “gourmet.” But if you stock some staple ingredients in your pantry, you can whip up any of the five items above with ease and save money in the long run, not to mention trips to the grocery store.
Pancake Mix in a Bag
photo courtesy of Joana Hard
There is no magic in a box of pancake mix. If you have flour, milk, eggs, baking powder and baking soda, you can make pancakes from scratch in five minutes. If you like the convenience of opening one canister for the dry goods, mix a large batch of the dry ingredients to scoop out as needed. Just add the wet ingredients (milk or buttermilk, eggs, butter).
Salad Dressing in a Bottle
photo courtesy of Steve Snodgrass
If you keep olive oil, vinegar (such as balsamic, red wine or white wine vinegar), salt and pepper, and mustard on hand, you will always be able to make a vinaigrette for your salads. From that basic vinaigrette, you can add shallots or your choice of fresh herbs to change the flavor profile. If you prefer something creamy, you can make ranch dressing by combining sour cream or mayonnaise with buttermilk and dried herbs.
Whipped Cream in a Can
photo courtesy of sameold2008
When you buy whipped topping in a can or tub, you’re paying for air and preservatives. Your money is better spent buying a carton of heavy cream to make fresh whipped cream. It takes just a few minutes if you have a mixer or some elbow grease and a whisk.
Hot Cocoa Mix in a Packet
photo courtesy of chatirygirl
If you have cocoa powder, powdered sugar and milk, you can make hot cocoa at home without too much effort. Or, if you like the convenience of “instant,” you can make your own mix with cocoa powder, powdered milk and powdered sugar. Just mix well and store until ready to use.
Household Cleanser in a Bottle
You can disinfect counters by using a towel soaked in distilled white vinegar. Combine ¼ cup baking soda, 1 tablespoon detergent and enough vinegar to make a paste and use this for scouring.
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