Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thrifty Thursday - Taco Meat Seasoning

Since I'm one of those lucky California teachers that has a signed contract for the upcoming school year, I do not qualify for unemployment benefits despite the fact that I had to take 6 weeks of mandatory, unpaid time off. That has required me to do some very creative financing this summer. Our new pad came with a refrigerator, washer and dryer. I had ours from the old house which we purchased less than two years ago (the appliances not the house). So.... I sold the refrigerator and have people interested in buying the washer and dryer. That along with my birthday money MAY pay the rent for August. I'm selling my creative projects on Etsy, collecting plastic for recycling, and anything else that I can think of that is legal and ethical.

Which brings me to this post and the title "Thrifty Thursday". I've been in this predicament before so unfortunately I'm no stranger to this (although I kind of thought it was be over once I finished college - that was the point of going to college, right?)......OK, I got sidetracked there.....

One way that I save some money is by making whatever I can from scratch. DD loves beans, beans, beans (good thing cuz' they're cheap and sometimes FREE from our "secret source"). And, what goes good with beans? Tacos!

I usually buy ground beef when it is on a really good sale, brown it all up (yes, 10 lbs of it - sometimes more). Then, I put it in ziploc bags and freeze it. Makes for easy meal preparation. And, I (umm....DD) only has to wash the nasty pan once.

So, I take one pack of the already browned ground beef out of the freezer and thaw it in the microwave. Then, dump that into a skillet, add 1/2 cup of water and the following Taco Meat Seasoning mix. Simmer for 5 - 10 minutes. VIOLA! Yummy taco filling! (Thrifty too!)

It's much cheaper to make our own mix than buy those little packages at the supermarket, and it's easy! Get your spices in bulk at Costco, Sam's Club, Smart and Final, Dollar Tree, wherever you can find them (BUT not at the grocery store - TOO EXPENSIVE!)


Makes enough mix for one pound of ground meat.

1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper (Ceyenne) (optional) (I actually only use 1/4 tsp because this stuff is HOT!)
1/2 teaspoon instant minced garlic or garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon drived oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and blend well.

I usually make about 10x this amount at once. I line up 10 little Tupperware midgies (you know the ones - those little cute, tiny ones) and I measure away into each container, put the lid on each and shake. That way, whenever we're in the mood for Mexican food, the seasoning mix is all ready to go. If you don't have the containers, you can use sandwich bags just as well (I've done that too).

Another easy way to use this which I'm doing right now is to place some boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the crockpot, add enough chicken broth to cover the chicken and add the above taco meat seasoning. Cook on high for about 4 hours. Shred cooked chicken with two forks and roll it up in a tortilla with your other fixin's. Super easy, super good and best of all for HOT summer days like today - it doesn't heat up the kitchen.

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