The Penny Pincher's Pantry: 9 Money-Saving Kitchen Staples
Budget Kitchen Basics, Continued
Need it: Packaged Croutons
Make it: Cut any type of bread into cubes and coat them lightly in oil, then sprinkle with salt or garlic salt. (Add even more flavor by tossing in oil-and-vinegar salad dressing or dry herbs.) Toast on a baking sheet in the oven, stirring occasionally, at 350 degrees F. until just golden.
Need it: Jarred Spaghetti Sauce
Make it: Saute half a chopped onion, 1 minced garlic clove, and 1/4 cup olive oil in a medium saucepan until onion is soft. Add a 28-ounce can diced or chopped tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon dry oregano and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with ground black pepper.
Need it: Taco Seasoning Packet
Make it: Stir together 4 teaspoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons dry oregano, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Use 2 tablespoons to season 1 pound ground beef, chicken, or turkey.
Need it: Packaged Bread Crumbs
Make it: Dry slices or cubes of any type of bread about 15 minutes in the oven at 300 degrees F. Crush in a food processor or with the bottom of a pan. For seasoned bread crumbs, add dry herbs like oregano or thyme (a little garlic powder tastes great, too). To make flaky panko-like crumbs, mince fresh bread by pulsing it in a food processor, then dry the crumbs at 250 degrees F.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, November 2009.