Our current culture in America is all about consuming. Advertisements and commercials tell us that there are many things wrong in our lives, and if we only purchase their ‘wonder product’, everything will be better. These ‘wonder products’ are usually pre-made and packaged versions of products that people have been making themselves for decades. Buying these pre-made products is (unfortunately) commonplace nowadays, especially in the kitchen. Pre-made bread, pre-made salad dressings, pre-made brownies and cookies, even pre-made meals. This ‘convenience’ comes at a high cost; monetary and health. These processed, pre-made foods are always priced at a huge profit margin for the sellers, and they are usually loaded with additives, preservatives, synthetic chemicals, and unnecessary ingredients. But your wallet isn’t the only thing taking a hit, it’s your physical and mental health.
By breaking free of the pre-made chains, you can protect yourself and your family, and also save money. It’s true, making things yourself at home will take a little forethought, and a little money, but it’s (literally) pennies compared to what you would have spent otherwise.
With that in mind, I’m excited to start a series of instructional posts designed to show you how to make products yourself. Save money, time, and (most importantly) your health!
Taco seasoning packets seem to be an ultimate convenience: rip off the top, pour it into some meat or beans, et voila! You have a flavorful filling for your tacos, enchiladas, or tostadas. The only problem is that the envelope you just added to your meal also probably added maltodextrin, monosodium glutamate (or one of it’s many disguises), caramel coloring, and a whole host of other additives and preservatives. ‘But Pam!’ you exclaim, ‘how else can I get that great taste with so little effort?’
There is another way!
Instead of taking three seconds to purchase the envelope packets at the store, put your time toward making your own seasoning! Not only will it leave out all those nasty preservatives, but you control the taste. Like a little more spice? Blast it! Bam! Controlling your salt intake? Leave it out, and add salt as you need during your meal prep. Easy!
My taco seasoning recipe is adapted from this one by my favorite kitchen guru, Alton Brown. A neat trick included in his “Taco Potion #19” is that it calls for cornstarch, which when added to ground beef and a little broth or water, creates a sauce which gives a great even coating to your meat or beans. I substituted arrowroot powder for the cornstarch, because that’s my personal preference.
Adapted from Taco Potion #19
Yield about 1/3 cup
1 T chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp arrowroot powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chipotle pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. I used about 1/3 to 1/2 of this recipe with one pound of ground beef, and the flavor was perfect. Remember to add about a half a cup of water or broth after you add the seasoning. Then stir well, and simmer for a few minutes for the flavors to meld.
Overall, this recipe took about five minutes to mix up, including the time I took to take pictures. Now this spice mix is ready for my next batch of tacos, and I don’t need to worry about what is lurking inside.