I love shortcuts for cooking. Instead of using five different bottles of dried herbs in a dish, I like to premix my herbs so I can grab one and be done. You can buy them in the supermarket already blended, but this will save you a lot of money, and you can mix them exactly the way you like. Using my favorites that I cook with all the time, let’s make an Italian herb blend.

My favorite cooking herbs are oregano, basil, hot red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. I use them in practically everything. I like to use fresh garlic but you could include granulated garlic if you like.

The trick is measuring how much you want of each herb. I like to use more oregano than basil, for example.

Usually when I’m cooking, I will use about a tablespoon of dried oregano to a teaspoon of basil, with about a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes — or more if I’m feeling feisty. Then I’ll add salt and freshly cracked black pepper. That’s my most basic Italian blend. Sometimes I’ll add marjoram or rosemary depending on what I’m cooking. Marjoram is great in soups. Rosemary is beautiful on potatoes.

Use your favorites, then take those measurements as your guide and multiple it. Put all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl, and blend well. I like to mix it with a fork to make sure nothing sticks together. Then I funnel it all into a glass jar.

You can then use the herb blend by the spoonful in whatever you are cooking. In an omelet you might want to use a half teaspoon of the herbs. If you’re making tomato sauce for pasta, you might want to use two tablespoons. You get the idea.

For other options, you could add thyme, sage, parsley, paprika, nutmeg, anything you like best. Try making a French, Mexican, Moroccan, or Indian inspired blend. They are very convenient and save you time in the kitchen. Who doesn’t need more time, right?

I hope you try it. If you make an Italian herb blend, let me know what ingredients you decide to use. Get creative. Happy cooking.