Knowing how to cook from scratch really cuts down on emergency trips to the store.

For example, no tortillas on taco night? No problem. You can make some out of a few pantry staples. No taco seasoning? Make your own from some simple spices you probably already have on hand. Another perk of cooking from scratch is that you know exactly what’s going into your food.

We decided to move Taco Tuesday to Saturday last week. That meant I had some time to make fresh tortillas. If you have an afternoon free and feel like spending it getting to know your rolling pin, make a ton of tortillas and store them in the freezer. If you don’t have that kind of time, you can halve this recipe and roll only what you need.

We are completely spoiled by making our own fresh pico de gallo. I bought most of what I needed at the farmers market and picked up the rest from the produce stand. You can mix a few spoons of the pico into some mashed avocado for guacamole, too. It takes a little while to chop everything, but it’s well worth it, and it keeps a couple days in the fridge, if you have any left over. If you want fresh salsa instead, simply run the ingredients through a food processor.

After browning some fresh ground beef and some shrimp using this “taco” blend of spices, we feasted on a scratch-made — start to finish — taco supper. Cooking from scratch takes a little longer, but it makes a big difference.

Teresa B. Day is a local food writer and author of the “I Eat BR” blog. You can reach her at