Convenience in the kitchen can be a very, very good thing. As fun as it can be to spend hours toiling over Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon, there's a reason that we have canned soup, microwave dinners, bouillon cubes, and, of course, boxed mixes.
Boxed mixes get a bad rap, but they can be a lot of fun, and incredibly convenient. But the irony is that they cost a lot of money, despite containing only the cheap ingredients in whatever you're baking.
That's one of the main reasons that you should make your own boxed mixes, but there are other reasons. Homemade mixes usually contain less sugar and bizarre preservatives than store-bought versions. And even if you're not a big box mix fan, making a few staple mixes can save your butt in the kitchen, as you don't have to worry about being out of flour, sugar, baking soda, or any other dry ingredients.
Here are some of my favorite homemade mixes you can try out yourself. Just make sure to keep a note in the bag telling you how to prepare them!
Cornbread is an awesome mix to have around, because it cooks quickly, and goes with so many different meals. The recipe is simple:
- 1 1/3 cup flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
When you're ready to make your cornbread, take 1 1/3 cup of the mix, and add 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup milk, an egg, and some honey. Mix it up, throw it an oven at 400ºF, and bake until it's cooked through.
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- cocoa powder if you want chocolate cake (optional)
When the time comes to bake a cake, add the following to the mix: 1 1/4 cup milk, 1/8 cup oil, 1 stick of soft butter, 3 eggs, and whatever wet seasonings you want (I like almond and vanilla extract). Bake as a cake or as cupcakes (my personal favorite), in a 350ºF oven.
Beer bread is the most convenient mix ever, because it only requires one wet ingredient: beer. To make your mix, use these ingredients:
- 3 cups flour
- 4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- a large pinch of salt
Next time you wake up wanting some bread, pull out the mix, add 12 ounces of beer, stir it, and bake in a dutch oven or cast iron skilled at 375ºF until golden. Voilà!
If you already have a favorite way to make homemade pancakes or waffles, then just use that recipe for your mix. Otherwise, this is a pretty good standard one you can try out.
- 4 cups flour
- 3 Tbsp. baking powder
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
To make your pancakes or waffles, for every cup of pancake mix, add 1 cup milk (or buttermilk), 1 egg, and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Then cook on your pan (or on a waffle maker) like you normally would until it's how you like. For more information, check out my full guide on homemade pancake mixes.
Add these four mixes to your shelf, and you'll have easy baked treats anytime you want them.