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Make your own mixes

By on May 27, 2012

Gifts in a jar are popular to give away, but they’re wonderful to have in your own pantry, too. The pre-measured ingredients can save time, which can save money, too, by helping you avoid buying convenience foods. You can find a large variety of homemade mixes and gift-in-a-jar recipes on my community forums at (keyword search: “mixes”).
The first reader shares her experience:


Baking mixes:

I received a brownie-in-a-jar mix for Christmas. It was so easy to make, and it gave me the idea of creating and storing mixes (as we bake everything from scratch) to make baking easier. I bought mason jars, and I’m reusing pickle jars for my mixes as well. When we realize we need more snacks for school and work lunches, it’s so easy for us to just add margarine, water, eggs and/or vanilla to a mix. Baking doesn’t seem so daunting now! Bonus tip: I use a spout I cut from a two-liter pop bottle to get the ingredients into the jar with little mess. — Wendy, Canada

Button organization:

I use a 3-by-5 photo album to organize my buttons. Whenever I buy new clothing with extra buttons, I put the buttons in a pocket of the photo album, with a sticky note detailing to which garment they belong. If I lose a button from an article of clothing, I just go to my photo album and find the replacement. — Jean, Canada

Ink cartridge tip:

If your printer cartridges are refillable, make sure you refill them when the ink first begins to run low rather than waiting until they’re empty. We have two HP printers with refillable cartridges. We saw the warnings that the cartridges were low on ink, but both printers were printing fine, so we didn’t refill them right away. When both went out within four days of each other, we tried refilling the cartridges as usual, but they still weren’t working. It seems once the cartridge is dry, refilling it won’t work; the whole cartridge has to be replaced. We finally gave in and ordered new ink cartridges online, and both printers are now working. — Pam, forums

Homemade Tuna Helper:

Whether or not homemade Tuna Helper is cheaper than store-bought depends on the deals you get on things like noodles, cheese, peas, margarine, milk, etc. But here’s how to make it yourself:

White Sauce Mix
2 cups instant nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup cold butter or margarine
Additional ingredients:
1 cup water

Combine dry milk, flour and salt; mix well. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
To prepare white sauce: For a thin white sauce, combine 1/3 cup mix and 1 cup water in a saucepan. For a medium white sauce, use 1/2 cup mix. For a thick white sauce, use 3/4 cup mix. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Yield: 1 cup sauce per batch.
To make the casserole: Grease a casserole dish. Add one layer each of cooked egg noodles, peas, tuna, American cheese slices and white sauce. Repeat if making a big casserole. Cover in buttered bread crumbs. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until golden and bubbly. — Polly, Pennsylvania

photo by jgrebedw

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