If I didn’t know better I’d swear that cake mixes reproduce in the dark of night on the shelves of my pantry. One day not so long ago, I counted 18 boxes of cake mix.

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Here’s how that happens: Cake mixes go on sale routinely. One week it will be Betty Crocker, then Pillsbury takes its turn and so on. This week in my supermarket Duncan Hines cake mixes are on sale for $1.57—that’s a good deal. Here’s how I make it an even better deal:

I still come across coupons for cake mix, so I hold onto them until that particular brand goes on sale and then time my purchase so it falls on double- or triple fuel points day. The sale price, minus my coupon’s value plus accounting for the $.20 or $.30 per-gallon discount I’ll get when I fill up at the store’s gas station equals free, or super cheap, cake mix.

While not all the cake mixes in my stockpile are freebies, rarely is my net cost more than $.50 for a cake mix.

Because no one my family is fond of plain, boring cake made from a box mix, my challenge has been to find better ways to use a cake mix than to simply follow the instructions on the box. Today, I’m sharing my favorite cake mix hacks:

Cake Mix Cookies

  • 1 (15.25 ounces) yellow cake mix
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Dump cake mix into a large bowl. Stir in the oil and eggs until well blended. Mix in the chips. It will be very thick. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls or roll into balls the size of walnuts and place 2-inches apart onto a greased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie just a bit with your fingers. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not over bake. Remove from pan to cool on wire racks. Yield: About 2 dozen 2-inch cookies.

Note 1: Because there are so many different kinds of cake mixes (with pudding, with double pudding, extra moist and so on), you may need to make slight adjustments to this recipe. For example, I’ve found that with some varieties of mix the dough is so stiff and dry it’s not possible to form the cookies into balls. When this happens I simply add one or two tablespoons of water until the dough is workable.

Note 2: If you want to cut down on fat, try substituting half the oil with applesauce (still 1/3 total—half oil, half applesauce).

Note 3: If you need lots of cookies in a hurry, this recipe multiplies well. Just start with two cake mixes and double the additions.

Note 4: Depending on the type of cake mix you use, these cookies may dry out after two days. To prevent this, store them in an airtight container along with a piece of bread. I don’t know why, but for some reason, this keeps the cookies just as fresh and moist as can be.

Variations: You can use just about any combination of cake mix and chips. Example: Carrot cake mix with white chocolate chips; chocolate cake mix with peanut butter chips; devils food cake mix with toffee bits chips; German chocolate cake mix with pecans and coconut; white cake mix with crushed pineapple (drained) and coconut.

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