Pita and corn chips prepared and bagged or boxed up, and, lots of the time, seasoned with every flavor imaginable, wait for us at the grocery store.

The container usually holds not many ounces and always a portion of broken bits rest at the bottom, good for sprinkling into soup, or atop salad, or tossed casually into the palm of a hand and then into an open mouth.

I hate to think how much I have spent on these little treats over the years, how much shelf space I have dedicated to storing them.         

Each can be a do-it-yourself project, requiring only the pita bread and tortillas they are made from. So I do have to buy something I probably wouldn’t make at home. Still, I have the choice to season them or not, and to make them as needed. I won’t always save money but as your friendly local kitchen control freak, I like being in charge of their manufacture, and can please my own taste. Also, I eliminate some non-reusable plastic from my waste stream, and can feel a little comforted that I didn’t participate in generating a lot of cardboard shipping boxes.

None of these require enormous effort though you’ll need to pay attention during their oven phase. A good sharp knife and a pair of scissors, a baking sheet and pastry brush — may I recommend a silicone one because they are very flexible, wash easily and can be tossed into a dishwasher — round out the utensils you need.

I use olive oil to make chips. Before you cut the pita slabs or tortillas into chip-sized pieces, pour a little oil into a saucer, dip the pastry brush into it, and paint them.

At this point you can sprinkle pepper, coarse or flakey salt, seasoning salt, garlic, curry, chili, cumin, chipotle powder, paprika, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, or more exotic spice blends like ras el hanout, za’atar, or Lebanese seven-spice blend onto the chips. For barbecue chips use a sugary salty barbecue dry rub blend. You can find a zillion make-it-yourself spice blend recipes online.

If you want to use dried herbs like basil, rosemary or thyme, crumble them very small and whisk them into the olive oil along with salt and pepper before spreading it on the chips.

After they’ve been oiled and seasoned, cut the breads into chip-sized pieces. Usually I lay pitas flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and for the tortillas, a bare pan which helps them bake dry.

For pita chips, plain or whole wheat pockets work; make sure they are fresh and fairly moist so they don’t fall apart, and use scissors to cut through the perimeter fold. You can cut them into triangles or little rectangles.

Tortillas are a snap. Pile up two or three and with a sharp knife, cut wedges any size you like. These produce a very hearty chip that doesn’t break if you dip into refried beans and which will produce sturdy nachos.

Baking them requires attention. You can bake pita chips at 400 degrees Fahrenheit and it takes only seven minutes, but watch them closely. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit if you prefer less worry, and check them at five minutes, half-way through baking, then give them another five minutes or so as needed. Tortilla chips take five minutes per side at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just don’t turn your back on these rascals.

After that, let them cool, eat them right away, or stash in a container with a tight lid. I use cookie tins when they don’t have cookies in them.

Extend this general approach to bagels, lavash bread, flour tortillas or just about any flatbread. If you try bagels, remember that they require a firm and steady approach: lay the bagel flat and cut it in half across its diameter. Tip it up so the cuts are face down on the board and with a very sharp knife, cut off slices as thin as you can manage without ending up with ragged edges. Cut the last slices by laying the bagel flat and slicing horizontally.

Since these chips don’t require a precise recipe, here are some general guidelines for each kind.

I’m looking for … cracker recipes. I buy a lot of crackers and I wonder if one of you makes them and has a great, simple recipe that calls for fairly normal ingredients that anyone might have in the pantry? Willing to share?

Tortilla Chips

Use fresh white or yellow corn tortillas.

Lightly oil both sides of a whole tortilla and sprinkle with salt and seasonings.

Cut into desired shapes and spread in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes, then turn them and bake another five minutes or until they are golden.

Pita Chips

Use regular-sized white, whole wheat or multigrain pita pockets.

Cut them in half by snipping around the perimeter.

Oil and season on the rough interior surface.

Cut into wedges or rectangles.

Bake in a single layer on a parchment-covered baking sheet at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for eight to 10 minutes or until they are a golden color. You do not need to turn them.

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...