Time Saving Budget Part 3

Finding exciting ways to use leftovers is what we all struggle with. There’s one simple thing that you can do to transform them: Stock your pantry.

Damaris Phillips

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.

Calvin Trillin


Welcome back everyone this is part three. By now, you are experts in blending your own spices and meat rubs. Now here is one for y’all – how many of you have not mastered the art of gravy-making?  Maybe you have and have gotten lazy in the kitchen? I dare say you go to the market and buy those instant packages and doctor them up a bit. Do you know you can make your instant gravy packets at home?

Tilly: Do you know how much salt they contain? Beware if you have blood pressure issues. Stock cubes and gravy mixes often have salt as one of the highest ingredients.

Homemade mixes are easy, cheap and versatile. I won’t tell you how much healthier they are…I lied.  I intend to.

Let’s start with the ingredients listed on the back of the package. Does your product have any of these ingredients? Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Mono and Diglycerides and, of course Maltodextrin. Just what are these critters doing in your packaged gravy mixes? Well, hold on.

Starting with the last one, Maltodextrin, it is an artificial sweetener. Ask yourself this why does a gravy mix need a sweetener? Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate are food preservatives and will extend the shelf life of a product. They also act as flavor enhancers. In the same way that, MSG thing did before people got to know it better.

Now Mono and Diglycerides. These two minor ingredients are fatty acids are used as emulsifiers and most often comes from pork. I hope the vegans and some religious groups don’t find that out.

Important of all is READ THE LABELS.

Now that have had your chemistry lesson, enjoy the recipes below.

Olive and Tilly

Instant Gravy Mix


1 1/3 cups / 315.5 ml of powdered milk

¾ cup / 177.5 ml of flour / soft or cake flour

3 Tablespoons / 44.4 ml of either beef or chicken bouillon granules (3 cubes crushed equals 1 T.)

¼ teaspoons / 1.23 ml of onion powder

Tilly: In Tilly’s world, ideally, one would dry onion slices in a cool oven, in the sun, or in a food dehydrator, then grind them to a powder. Check the stock cubes for salt and additives!

Olive: Most people today do not have the time to dry all that out. But I must say I like your idea.

Tilly: Leaving the onions in an oven at the lowest setting for a few hours is hardly arduous. But there you go. Or not!

Store in an airtight container

To use:  Combine 1/2 cup (118.3ml) mix and 1 cup (236.6ml) water with 1 1/2  T. ( 22.2ml)    butter in a saucepan.  Whisk this over medium heat until it is smooth, thick and bubbly.  It takes about 2 or 3 minutes to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.

Tilly: Be better with a good stock. Can also use oil – olive or a good vegetable oil. And given the likely salt in the stock cube, it shouldn’t be necessary to add more salt?



Dried sage leaves plus a pinch of ground sage

Pinch of dried thyme leaves

Salt and pepper to taste


Dried thyme leaves

Dash of ground sage


My favorite is below. This blend goes with beef, pork, and chicken.


Savory gravy blend

2 cups / 236 ml cake flour or soft flour or Wondra

1 tbsp / 14.8 ml salt

1 tsp celery salt In Tilly’s measurements just a pinch

1 tbsp / 14.8 ml black pepper

2 tbsp dry mustard

4 tsp paprika

1 tbsp garlic powder

5 tsp dried thyme Tilly’s measurements 5 just a pinches

1 tsp savory / thyme

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp dried basil Tilly’s measurements 1/2 a pinch

1/2 tsp dried oregano

Tilly: Don’t be daft – I can’t hold a teaspoonful of celery salt, or dried thyme or dried basil between my fingers and thumb!

Olive: I thought you had talent. Boy was I wrong.

Tilly: That, or you have much larger fingers and thumbs that I.

Blend together and store in an airtight container.

2 to 2 1/2 tbsp. to 1 1/4 cup of water, stir to blend then add to the skillet or pot.

Alfredo Noodles Mix

1 cup / 236.59 ml instant nonfat dry milk

2 tsp / 9.85 ml grated Romano or parmesan cheese

5 1/3 Tbsp./ 78.84 ml  dried minced onion

1 tsp garlic powder Tilly’s measurements just a pinch

1/2 tsp salt Tilly’s measurements 1/2 a pinch

1/2 tsp white pepper Tilly’s measurements 1/2 a pinch

Tilly: Olive, given you are obsessed with precise measurements, a pinch is equal to one-sixteenth of a teaspoon, which would not provide the desired results of your recipe,  in terms of flavour.

Olive: Tilly, precise measurements only when writing out a recipe, otherwise hell no. It is pinches, dabs or whatever I have around.

Tilly: Pinches are a heck of a lot smaller than half a teaspoon …

Measure all ingredients into a large Ziploc bag, seal and shake to combine.

Servings: 4

To use, combine 1/4 cup Noodles Mix with 2 tablespoons melted butter and 1/4 cup milk. Toss with pasta.

Tilly: Some other suggestions:

–           Make stock with bones, heels of cheese (when you can’t cut or grate any more off the rind), ends of vegetables, (washed) vegetable peelings, herbs, but don’t include brassicas (cabbage, sprouts, kale, caulifower, broccoli) – spoils the taste of the stock. Reduce the liquid to one-third and freeze in ice trays.

–           Many recipes say not to use the stalks of herbs, only the leaves. Instead of wasting them, blitz them (or snip finely with scissors) with olive oil or vegetable oil, some wine vinegar and seasonin. Freeze in ice trays . Proportions? A large handful of herb stalks, mixed or all the same type, 4-6 tablespoons oil, 2-3 tablespoons vinegar, seasoning to taste. Use in sauces, soups, casseroles.

–           Don’t waste citrus skins and peel.

1.Grate the peel on to cling film in small portions and freeze in a bag.

2, Strip the peel with a zester for curls for decoration.

3,Dry the half shells and light your barbeque with them.

  1. Use the inner side of a shell to clean the sink.

5,Put them in a spray bottle with water, leave for two or three days and use as a cleaning agent.

–           Coffee grinds are useful too:

  1. Put them down your sink with boling water to remove any fat or oil that has gone down.
  2. Sprinkle around plants and tubs in the garden that attract slugs. Put them around the edges of flowers beds too, to ward off slugs.

–           Don’t like kale? Try tearing the leaves (no stalks, please) into crisp/chip-sized pieces. Toss in a small amount of olive oil, spread on a baking tray and cook in a medium oven for 15-20 minutes, till crisp. Slide into a bowl and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Delicious!


Sacred cows make the best hamburgers.

Mark Twain


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  • Cristie

    I make fabulous gravy and don’t understand why folks think it’s difficult. I have been told I could probably make fabulous gravy with dish soap, but I’ve not tried it!!!!!

  • Jerry Bell

    These mixes are valuable to have around. I didn’t think about home mixed gravey and Alfredo mixes. I have used coffee grounds for all kinds of things but not to repell slugs. I will try them out. Can’t wait to taste them.

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