What is the appeal of convenience foods? Convenience foods are either ready to eat or quick to prepare. Whether you are buying cookie mix, chili mix, cornmeal mix or any other type of mix, many individuals feel they are saving time and money by purchasing these convenience foods. What you might be forgetting is the nutritional aspect.
Many pre-packed, convenience foods are not always as nutritionally sound as what you might prepare at home. Many mixes contain seasonings or sauces that are high in sodium. In addition, many also contain fat or recommend the addition of fat during cooking.
A look at the Dietary Analysis for Homemade Rice Seasoning Mix versus Commercial Rice Mix shows the difference.
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Total Fat: 1 gram
Sodium: 187 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 18 g
Protein: 3 g
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Total Fat: 4 grams
Sodium: 356 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 21 g
Protein: 2 g
You can see from the Dietary Analysis of these two products that the homemade mix is considerably lower in calories, fat, sodium (a major part of salt), and carbohydrates. Plus it is higher in protein, which helps build and repair muscles.
From the above analysis, you can see that making your own mixes definitely has an added health benefit when it comes to nutritional value, but what about cost?
Making your mixes from scratch allows all the convenience of commercial products for about half the cost. For example, you can make a cornmeal master mix, which yields 13 (1 cup) servings of mix for about $2. If you were to purchase 13 packages of cornmeal mix, it would cost about $9.50. This is a savings of $7.50 that can be used for other food items.
In addition to nutritional value and cost, master mixes are economical, efficient and require very little clean up during preparation because you have already done most of the work ahead of time.
Storage of the master mixes needs to be in a cool dry place in an airtight container, unless otherwise specified on the recipe.
Here is a master mix recipe for Homemade Rice Seasoning Mix used in the dietary analysis comparison. It is very inexpensive to prepare, about 30 cents per package, and quick to assemble.
If you would like to receive more information on Master Mix recipes, please contact the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture in Miller County by calling 870-779-3609, email [email protected] or visit Room 215 in the Miller County Courthouse, 400 Laurel, Texarkana, AR.
Rice Seasoning Mix
1 cup rice (white or brown)
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1-2 teaspoons dehydrated onion
1 teaspoon parsley
Combine all ingredients in zip-top bags and store in a cool, dry place.
To Prepare: Bring rice mix and 2 cups of water to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover pan tightly with lid. Simmer 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit an additional 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.
Carla Due is a county extension agent-staff chair, with the Mmiller County Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.