I have quite a collection of herbs and spices, so instead of buying preservative and salt-laden seasoning packs, I make my own. It’s frugal, and less expensive. And with taco seasoning, you never know if it’s going to end up being spicy. I love spice, but my kids don’t. I add salt while cooking the beef initially, before adding the seasoning. You can play around with the recipe according to your tastes, but there is my recipe for taco seasoning:
- 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsps. dried minced onion
Mix all ingredients and store in dry, cool place.
I add the beans to incorporate leaner protein, and to save money. A few cups of beans can turn two pounds of ground beef into three meals for a family of four. I use 90 percent lean ground round from Costco at $3.17 a pound. I get my dried beans at Aldi – – two pounds for $1.67. That’s the best deal I’ve ever found. I also add dried red bell peppers to the filling. While the meat is still pink, I add the dried peppers so they can start hydrating. I dehydrated red bell peppers this summer, when I got them for 24 cents each.
I make taco bean and meat filling in triple batches and freeze the leftovers. Taco meat and beans are great in taco soup, soft tacos, taco salad, and nachos. I dirty a pan once, and make enough for three meals. This is in the same spirit of my ground beef crumbles and chicken chunks — fabulous and economical meal helpers to have on hand.
The other night I made taco salad with my taco meat and beans. I offered my family avocado (59 cents each), roasted corn (which is from this summer for 8 cents an ear), black olives, tomatoes, onions, light sour cream, pickled jalapenos, cheese, and crushed tortilla chips. My girls and I just made homemade pasta the night before, and wanted something lighter. Doesn’t it look great? (Although, maybe not so light?)
Before buying seasoning blends, see what herbs and spices you already have on hand. Learn to experiment and find your own signature seasonings.