Spices aren't always cheap (although those huge ones at Sam's Club do make life a little easier on your wallet). But spices are our friends and we accept them as they are. However, those seasoning packets--they are not our friend (well, usually) and we need not accept them as they are. First of all, they're pricey--way more pricey than their plain spice brothers. Secondly, seasoning packets tend to be full of other stuff--stuff that is not spice, but chemincal otherness. Chemical otherness is not our friend.
Speaking of both friends and chemical otherness: I have a friend with celiac disease. Several weeks ago she had a reaction from some food she ate. The culprit? Taco seasoning. Turns out it can have all kinds of funky stuff in it, including (sometimes) gluten. And other stuff too. Online I found the ingredient list for Old El Paso Taco seasoning. It doesn't have gluten. But the first ingredient? Chili? Onion? Peppers? Um, try maltodextrin. This is Old El Paso's list: Maltodextrin, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, spice, monosodium glutamate, corn starch, yellow corn flour, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, silicon dioxide (anticaking agent), natural flavor, ethoxyquin (preservative).
But wait, you don't have celiac disease and you find those packets so wonderfully convenient and you're sick and tired of my lame-o preaching. Um, sorry, I'm a mother of four and can't help myself. And yes, I realize that seasoning packets are very convenient. And time is money, right? Yes, right. But time is what you don't have to spend a lot of to make your own seasoning blends. It takes approximately 3 minutes. That's faster than you'll read through the ingredient list on one of those store-bought packets. Besides, I'm not saying you have to do it all the time. Although after you do it once, you might find that you want to do it all the time. It's super easy. It's super cheap. And you can customize your blends to your family's tastes. Furthermore you can make a lot in one swoop and then have all the seasoning "packets" you need for the next several months. Give it a try and see if you don't convert.
adapted from allrecipes
Prep time: 2 minutes
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Mix everything up and store in an airtight container.
Stir 2-3 Tbsp into 1 lb beef (depending on how strong you like your taco seasonings; we're a little weak around here).
I like to store mine in old baby food jars. Because I am a person of class and refinement.