I used to buy everything we eat from the grocery store and now, I just try to do it myself and if it works then great! I keep on doing it. If it doesn't work then it's back to the drawing board until I get it right.
I used to buy a lot more dried herbs, spices and dried foods in general. But then I invested in a dehydrator over a year ago. All-day sunshine and a basic oven were not available to me at the time. Even still, I used it only a few times back then... not like I do today. But you don't have to have one to dehydrate foods. Most things will do fine in the oven below 150 degrees, and most herbs can be dried in a simple brown paper bag, while if you have sunshine for most of the day, then certainly that is the best way to go.
Since then, I decided to buy extra trays for it to make the most of the time it takes to dry foods.
For this post we're doing onions. Yummy onions. Versatile onions. I use them all the time and I'll be needing several dried variations for all the meals I cook from day to day. The first batch of onions was sliced slightly smaller than a 1/4 inch thick. I don't worry about separating the rings because after it dries it easily separates on its own. These take about 12 hours to dry and will go in soups, stews, crock pot meals and much more.
The next batch was minced for two purposes: To keep minced and powdered onions on hand.
Start by laying down parchment paper so it doesn't fall through. (Or use a tray for making fruit leathers if you have one.)
Spread out the onions somewhat. These take a lot less time to dry... around 8 hours.
Put the rack with the parchment at the bottom. This will keep the air flowing like it should.
Remember to crumble them up a bit sometime during the process because they tend to get stuck together. This is my favorite way to keep dried onions: minced. Super handy!
Finally, minced onion can be turned into onion powder. Just get out your coffee grinder*, blender or whatever tool works best for grinding things into a powder.
And voila! Onion powder. Now, would I really keep on buying it at the grocery store after that? I think not!
If you don't grow onions, then by all means, buy them in bulk when you find a good sale. Onions are used in soooo many meals and in so many different ways, that all a manufacturer has to do is figure out your needs and provide it for you at the highest price you're willing to pay. So just stop paying them!
Tip: To keep onions from turning dark, parboil them for one minute or less before dehydrating. (Minced onions won't have to be parboiled.)
*Tip: Buy more than one coffee grinder so you don't have to wash it every single time you want to grind stuff. I rarely wash the grinder used for coffee because I have a separate grinder for onions, garlic, tomatoes and peppers, which just gets wiped out after each use and washed only when I switch from one type of food to another. And I have a third for grinding only eggshells. It all seems to be working out fine. (You can buy one for as little as $10.00. Good deal!)