By Mike Thayer
I've GOT to have coffee in the morning, but I can't drink it black. It HAS to have creamer in it. I used to add sugar to my coffee too, back in the day when I first started drinking it, but that became too sweet (like me) so these days it's just the coffee creamer added to my cup of java.
My favorite store bought stuff is Hazelnut flavored creamer. My Plan B is Italian Sweet Cream (shout out to Vicki S for that recommendation). French Vanilla doesn't do much for me and if I have to do a Plan C because the store is out of my Top 2, then I usually go with whatever seasonal flavor might be in stock. It's been a challenge buying my preferred creamers lately though, my neighborhood grocery store has been out-of-stock much of the time.
So, tired of going to the store and seeing they're once again out of my favorite creamers and not feeling like driving to another grocery to get some, I decided to make my own.
Milk + extract + sugar + cornstarch = home made coffee creamer.
This takes about 10 minutes tops to make and it's actually quite a bit healthier than store bought creamers, take Kroger's Italian Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer for example:
Ingredients: Water, sugar, vegetable oil (sunflower oil, and/or canola oil), and less than 2% of natural & artificial flavors, sodium caseinate (a milk derivative*). Dipotassium phosphate, polysorbate 60, mono and digiycerides, color added, sodium stearoyl lactylate, salt, sucralose and carrageenan.
*Not a source of lactose.
I can't pronounce half that stuff, let alone know what it is or does for the creamer. General rule of thumb, if a bunch of ingredients listed are tough to pronounce and/or you have no clue what it is, then it's probably a highly processed food and not so good for you.
So in making my own creamer, I control the ingredients and there are only four or five of them. Bonus: Store bought coffee creamers will typically run you anywhere from $3 - $7 depending on brand and variety. I can make a good creamer from items I already have at home. Healthier + cheap to make + tasty = Bachelor on the Cheap wallet and taste bud friendly!
Maple Cinnamon Coffee Creamer
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- A splash of Maple extract
- A couple dashes of cinnamon spice
- 1 healthy teaspoon of corn starch (to thicken the creamer)
Directions: In a small saucepan over medium heat, add all ingredients, whisking to blend. Bring to a boil while continuing to whisk, dissolving the sugar and fully incorporating the cinnamon. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer, stirring occasionally, simmer for about 5 minutes. Allow creamer to cool, then pour into a container and refrigerate. It will keep in the fridge for as long as the expiration date on the milk you used.
You can use 2% milk but it won't have the robust flavor or consistency of a good creamer. You can also use heavy cream or half & half, even add sweetened condensed milk for a richer flavor, but that also drives up the calories. If you don't have whole milk, try the 2% milk blended with heavy cream or the half & half.
I would have made a Hazelnut flavored creamer, but didn't have that extract flavor on hand. You can really get creative with the flavors, playing with all the extract options out there. Try to stay with the pure extracts, the imitation stuff can contain some of those ingredients you can't pronounce... And don't forget to look at your spice rack too, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cocoa for a mocha flavor and then there's the dreaded pumpkin spice... You could even change up the milk, going with coconut, almond, cashew but those tend to be thinner in consistency. Just amp up the corn starch a bit, tapioca starch works too.
Putting this home made creamer together cost me maybe... 50 cents and it's quite tasty! I'm digging the maple/cinnamon combo. It kind of has a Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal taste to it.
$pend Wisely My Friends...
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