Ground beef tacos and taco salads are nicely enhanced by the mixture that Sue Gronholz uses in place of store-bought taco seasoning. "It's so easy to mix up a batch and keep it in the pantry," writes the Beaver Dam, Wisconsin cook. "It's convenient and saves money, too."
"Having the seasonings mixed up in advance makes stirring up a batch of chili a breeze," suggests Mary Henderson of Opelika, Alabama. "It's a bold but pleasant blend. I like the round steak and ground beef combination."
When a recipe she wanted to try called for almond paste, Anne Keenan of Nevada City, California decided to make her own. "It saves the expense of the store-bought kind," she says, "and results in a lighter baked product."
Our Test Kitchen came up with this good-for-you alternative to high-sodium packaged bread crumbs, using garlic powder and a handful of dried herbs. The crumbs make a savory topping for casseroles and a crispy coating for pork, chicken and fish.
"My daughters love packaged oatmeal flavored with maple and brown sugar," explains Marcy Waldrop from Pasadena, Texas. "But because the oatmeal can be expensive, I created my own spice mix for oatmeal. The girls think it tastes better than the store-bought variety."
You can prepare soup, make dips and even season meats with this handy mix from June Mullins of Livonia, Missouri. "My grandchildren really enjoy it as a coating on oven-roasted potatoes," she says. "It's an inexpensive substitute for the envelopes you get at the store."