Real Food Recipes That Are Easy AND Save You Money

I used to make everything from scratch. Everything. Ketchup, graham crackers, and even mozzarella cheese. It’s great to have the skills and knowledge to do this. But at a certain point I had to ask:

Am I getting enough bang for my buck, here? As in, is the time I’m taking and the energy I’m extending to make all of this food really saving me money and therefore, is it worth it?

mozzcheese2sm

For the record, homemade mozzarella costs more than store-bought.

Now, sometimes it’s worth putting forth the effort or spending more to make food from scratch because of the health benefit and great flavor. I mean, I don’t even care how much it saves or doesn’t save to make Homemade Ranch Dressing because this recipe tastes thousands of times better than the bottled stuff and it only includes healthy ingredients. I don’t want high fructose corn syrup on my salad.

ranchdressin2sm

But as my schedule has gotten busier and as the quantity of food we plow through every day has increased, I’ve had to be more choosy about what I make, what I buy pre-made, and what I skip altogether.

For instance, I used to make all of our Whole Wheat Tortillas, without fail. These taste amazing and we miss them, but it takes triple the amount of tortillas to get us through a meal now, compared to the days my kids were little. It’s a rare occasion that I “go to the trouble” to make tortillas now, because it takes over an hour to get the job done. (Though when I do, there is much rejoicing.) We either skip tortillas now (often subbing corn chips), or I’ll buy a case from Azure Standard to keep in the freezer.

Having said all of that, today I thought I’d share some recipes I’ve stuck with for all these years, even with a busier schedule and a higher volume of food consumption. These recipes are worth my time, because the time investment is tiny. And they are cheaper than store-bought so they are a win-win! Also, homemade always tastes better, so score one more for that!

Real Food Recipes that are Easy and Save Money

Seasoning Mixes

I make all of our Ranch Dressing Mix, Italian Dressing Mix, Onion Soup Mix, and Taco Seasoning Mix. These cost pennies to make, saving a significant amount. And since I make big batches, the time saved on these is great!

condiments

Vanilla Extract

The price of beans has gone up, but it still saves money to make Homemade Vanilla Extract. It’s ridiculously easy to make, and well worth the effort because homemade vanilla is amazing!

vanilla_four

Stir-and-Pour Whole Wheat Bread

We don’t eat as much bread as we used to at our house. I think it’s wholesome and filling and my family loves it, but I prefer to fill everyone with more nutrient-packed sides like fruits and veggies. So bread has taken a back seat at our house.

I do sometimes buy a loaf of 100% whole wheat sandwich bread for sandwiches when we need to pack them for a road trip. But for bread at home, when as do eat it with a meal, I make this Stir-and-Pour Whole Wheat Bread. It takes hardly any time or effort, and it doesn’t cost very much. And it tastes awesome!

stir and pour bread loaf 5

Homemade Granola

I discovered this 5-Minute Granola Method and haven’t looked back. I add in whatever we have (dried fruit or chocolate chips) and we’ve got ourselves a great cereal for much less than store bought!

Stove-Top Granola

All of these Simple Meal Recipes

Check out this Spanish Rice Bowl and the long list of other Simple Real Food Recipes it includes. I keep coming up with more of these recipes and am amazed at how much time and money they are saving! I’ve cut down my kitchen time with these Simple Recipes so much that I feel like a cheater. Almost. ;)

spanish rice bowl11

Cool Pineapple Cream Dessert

This is ridiculously easy and so super yummy! Throw three ingredients in the blender and you’re set!

pineapple dessert 3

Special Coffee Drinks

It’s a rare thing for us to spend $$ at a coffee shop since we can make fun coffee drinks at home for much less! This Chocolate Frappe is awesome. Sometimes we put this Chocolate Whipped Cream in our coffee. We freeze coffee into ice cubes like this to make easy Iced Coffees. This Coffee Milkshake is awesome in the summertime. Sometimes I make a big batch of Chocolate Iced Coffee to offer several people at once. While all of these take a little time, it doesn’t feel like a lot of effort because it’s FUN to make drinks like this!

What are some of the foods you make from scratch that are easy and save money?

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Top 10 Money Saving Recipes

30 Real Food Money Saving Tips

Sign up here, confirm your subscription, and both booklets will be in your inbox very quickly! Then we can keep you informed of any other money saving tips and deals we come across!

Why I Don’t Make Broth in the Crock Pot

I’ll get right to the point.

I think it’s a fabulous idea to make homemade bone broth in the crock pot. But that doesn’t work for me and here’s why:

My crock pot only makes 3 quarts of broth at one time.

(It’s a 6-quart crock pot, but after the bones are strained out, the amount of broth only ends up being about 3 quarts.)

Instead of a crock pot, I make broth in my big stock pot, which makes almost 2 gallons at one time! (The same is true for applesauce. It absolutely doesn’t save me time to make a crock pot full of applesauce when I can make many quarts in my stock pot in much less time.)

broth in stock pot

My food prep mantra: Go big or go home.
Except that the food prep happens when I already am home. So…
Go big or go bigger.

Indeed, my stock pot makes almost three times the amount of broth (or applesauce) at one time compared to my crock pot. Since broth simmers slowly for several hours no matter what I cook it in, efficiency tells me to always use my stock pot.

In addition to this, I typically make two huge batches of broth in one day to make the most of my chicken or beef bones. I make one batch of broth when I’m cooking a couple of chickens. Then I strain the broth to put into jars, pull the chicken off the bones, and throw the bones back into the pot to make a second batch. In both batches, I throw several pounds of onions, carrots, and leeks. I get almost four gallons of broth in a day when I do this! (Read the following links for specifics on  how I make Chicken Broth and Beef Broth.)

This process gives us enough broth for soups and other recipes for about two weeks. It is awesome.

A Side Note: I Make Orange Chicken or Beef Broth

Let’s talk for a moment about all those veggies I cook into the broth. They get ridiculously mushy after cooking for so many hours, so I just blend them up and stir them back into the broth for added nourishment. You know what this means, don’t you? This means that my broth always turns a beautiful orange color.

How to Make Chicken Broth

A word to the wise:

If you follow this example of cooking and blending carrots/onions/leeks/celery/spinach into your broth, turning it a beautiful orange color – I suggest that you inform your family about the contents of the pretty orange liquid you’ve placed in jars in the fridge. Otherwise they might say, “Can I have some orange juice?” and you might absentmindedly say, “Sure” before you realize you don’t actually have any orange juice. And then your kid will take a big swig of chicken broth and almost puke.

Hypothetically.

It could happen I think.

I have no idea why my youngest won’t touch orange juice anymore.

Back to talking about the Stock Pot Broth Making Method

Now in a few years when all these strapping teenage sons of mine have left the nest (sniff) and I no longer need pounds and gallons and cases of food like I do now, might I go back to using my crock pot to make broth again?

I haven’t decided. I like efficiency. Broth freezes just fine, so I may always use the stock pot for broth-making to avoid having to make the mess as frequently.

And the truth is, I’m not even sure I remember how to make less than 16 quarts of something at once. We may enjoy a lot of leftovers (or company) until I can figure that out.

In the meantime,

This is why I don’t make broth in the crock pot.

Why I Don't Make Broth in my Crock Pot

How do you make your broth?

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Pssst…a note from Lilla Rose

Look at the GORGEOUS new Flexi-of-the-Month for April…Felicite!!! It is so beautiful for spring! Also, get a free hairband with any $80 purchase!

Felicite purple (1)

How to Make Fun and Easy Sparkling 100% Juice

I’m in it for the bubbles. Easy Sparkling 100% Juice is so very perfect.

sparkling juice 2

I shared all kinds of thoughts (that didn’t necessarily make sense) about “how much I love drinks” in this post. I guess with warmer weather coming, I’ve been thinking more about fun drinks (not that warm drinks aren’t fun in the colder months too, of course).

One of my boys’ favorite things to splurge on is Martenelli’s (and by boys’ splurge, I should clarify that they prefer it if we parents do the splurging, because it is much easier to enjoy something if someone else has paid for it).

Have you tried Martinelli’s? It’s a very tasty sparkling cider that is 100% juice, made especially fun because it comes in a cool bottle and pours out nice and bubbly. I find it in the juice aisle at Wal-mart.

Martinelli’s is great for a special occasion, like New Year’s Eve, when I might not mind spending close a few extra dollars for each of us to have a sip of sparkly bubbles. But for a random Tuesday, I’m a little more selective about where I put my grocery money.

Soooo, we’ve found a way to have our sparkling juice and drink it too. We call it “Mom-inelle’s” because I invented it and we are all quite proud. The boys are especially happy because this invention means they can enjoy this fizzy drink more often than every December 31.

This has become the drink we enjoy when friends come over, and it always receives rave reviews. Note that you can add any 100% juice that you choose. We’ve discovered that our favorite is 100% Cranberry. Who knew? 100% Grape is a close second.

You may also find it fun to make this with combo-juices like 100% Cran-Raspberry or 100% Cran-Grape or 100% Apple-Raspberry.

It may just be us, but we have also found that this Sparkling 100% Juice tastes best with Mexican food or Pizza. There’s just something about fizzy drinks with food that has a bit of a spice. Try this!

Easy Sparkling 100% Juice

How to Make Fun and Easy Sparkling 100% Juice
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 11.5 ounces of frozen juice concentrate (thawed, butnot diluted)
  • 33.8 ounces Seltzer water (carbonated water)
Instructions
  1. Pour the juice concentrate into a ½ gallon jar or pitcher.
  2. Slowly pour in the seltzer water (if you pour it too quickly, it could bubble over).
  3. Stir slightly so as to mix the two liquids but not release too much fizz.

How to make Sparkling Juice

Do you love bubbles like I do? Ever tried making Sparkling Juice like this?

P.S. If you’re having a hard time giving up soda (pop/coke/whatever you call it where you live) – I recommend this fizzy juice as a great alternative. :)

What to do if you love coffee but need to watch the caffeine. (Have you tried Teeccino?)

Sometimes a person says something she means but doesn’t really mean. You know what I mean?

Take, for instance, when I say, “I love to drink. Drinking is so fun! Drinks make me happy.” You might think I have a drinking problem. It’s definitely not a problem, though, because I can stop any time I want to.

Now, what I’m talking about, isn’t drinking. No, no. I’m talking about drinking. Understand now? I actually stay away from drinking because my system can’t handle it, I’ve seen too many dear friends struggle with it, and anyway, I have way more fun when I’m drinking instead.

I drink at home and I drink with my family and it’s great to invite friends over and say, “Do you want to come over for drinks?”

Well now. I think after reading that we can all use a drink. What can I get you?

  • Coffee? (Iced or hot? Decaf or regular? With cream and a spoonful of my homemade chocolate sauce?)
  • Tea? (Hot or cold? Sweet or unsweet? Mango or peach? Raspberry perhaps?)
  • Water? (Ice or no ice? With lemon or lime?)
  • Sparkling Juice? (Cranberry is our favorite. Recipe is coming soon.)

Now that we’re all clear (as mud) on where I’m coming from, allow me to explain further.

I always drink a nice amount of water during the day so I stay hydrated and healthy. I actually like water, even if it is just…water. But I also really like to enjoy another fun drink or two throughout the day.

pumpkin_custard_drink

Desserts? I’m over them. Junk food? I really don’t want it. But a variety of drinks? Yes, please. I think they are a ridiculously fun treat even though I don’t even add sugar or stevia to them.

I realize this puts me over the edge into the complete nerd category, but you guys, sipping an iced coffee in the afternoon is as much a treat to me as brownies used to be back in my “I can eat anything” days. Tossing a slice of lemon in my water makes me feel like I’m indulging in something special when in reality, I’m still in my pajamas and I’m about to embark on a science lesson with my kids.

Having a cup of hot tea mid-morning (let’s call it a “spot of tea,” shall we?) in a special mug really hits the spot while I’m answering emails. Enjoying a flavored sparkling water (lime is my fav) with my lunch makes me feel like I’m splurging at a restaurant. And setting out an assortment of hot drink choices for my family before we begin a game night is way, way more fun than one would think.

Coffee Milkshake

This leads me to share about a fun drink many of you already know about (because several of you have mentioned it through the years). A sample of Teeccino came in my last Azure Standard order.

I made a BIG DEAL of trying it. As in, I made it, put on my pj’s and slippers while it was brewing, added cream, and snuggled under a fuzzy blanket in the living room so I could sip it slowing and savor it. I only had one kid at home with me at the time, so naturally I made him try it with me. He was a good sport, skipped the slippers, and added sugar to his.

We both came back with a thumbs up. So now I have yet another great drink to add to my drinking repertoire. Can life get any more fun than this?! I think not.

teeccino

What is Teeccino?

It’s an herbal tea, completely decaf, which tastes similar to coffee. But don’t expect it to taste exactly like coffee because it doesn’t.  I think it has a unique taste – kind of a mixture of coffee, tea, and chocolate.

It is delicious, though, and I love that it’s decaf so I can enjoy it in the evenings!

All of my family has tried it and enjoys it too. Therefore, I ordered a case which is a variety pack, because of ALL THE FUN this will provide for us.

Now that you’ve heard my drinking confessions, it time for you to share what your favorite drinks are. Also, have you tried Teeccino and do you like it?

What Does Laura Think About the Instant Pot?

I think I might be the only person left on the planet who doesn’t have an Instant Pot. If you didn’t have one before, you surely got one for Christmas. Me though? I didn’t ask for one; didn’t get one. I’m the weirdo who still cooks everything the “old fashioned way” – in my crock pot, on my stove-top, and in my double oven.

instant pot

Am I anti-Instant Pot? Absolutely not. Research tells me they are healthy to use, and according to everyone (on the planet) who has one, they are fantastic.

So what in the world is wrong with me? Why don’t I have or even want an Instant Pot?

I liken my Instant Pot mindset to the way I feel about a Bread Machine. Great as they are, I never wanted one of those either. Why? Because I’m so used to making bread without one that I don’t have to think about how to make bread any more. I just do it. So if I got a Bread Machine, I’d have to actually read a manual and relearn how to make bread and while surely this learning curve would only take about 20 minutes, I just can’t wrap my brain around the endeavor without feeling overwhelmed.

Some things just don’t make sense, but inside my brain, it all makes perfect sense, so do try to understand. Making bread “the hard way” is easier than making bread “the easy way” because the harder way is easier for me. There. That ought to clear things right up.

I believe the same is true with the Instant Pot. I’ve heard I could cook hard boiled eggs in an Instant Pot in a shorter amount of time than it takes to boil them on the stove-top, but I’ve decided that by the time I figured out how to do it the new way, I could already have my eggs boiled and made into Deviled Eggs, amen and amen.

Perhaps I’m being dramatic. Perhaps I should just admit my abhorrence of owner’s manuals. Perhaps I’m set in my ways and I’ll turn into one of those grandmas who can’t handle change and never gives in to the latest and greatest that promises to make my life better.

Oh my goodness. It’s happened. I’ve become my grandma.

Indeed, my grandma hated air conditioning (can you imagine?) because she was so used to going without it that she didn’t know how to use the window unit her kids installed for her comfort. So she either left it off on 102 degree days, or she turned it on but still left all the windows open so the hot air had to compete with the cold air.

Heavens, what would Grandma have done if we gave her an Instant Pot?

There may be hope for me, and maybe one of these days I’ll go ahead and give an Instant Pot a try. (This one looks promising. Any thoughts? Recommendations?)

No doubt, I’ll love it once I’m used to it. I will admit that it really does sound great (owner’s manual notwithstanding). But in the meantime, I declare that the hard way is easier. If you are an Instant Pot owner, now’s your chance to talk some sense into me…

Just Because I Can, Doesn’t Mean I Always Do

I can make mozzarella cheese. I can make Gatorade. I can make bread, pie, bagels, and pizza.

Homemade Gatorade

I share all of these ideas and recipes with people here. It’s so much fun! I talk about ways to save time and ways to save money. I’ve figured out ways to put nutritious meals on the table in less than 20 minutes, letting people know that none of us ever has to rely on take-out.

But just because I know these things, teach these things, and have experienced so much good because of all these things doesn’t mean I always do all these things.

Does this mean I’m a hypocrite? No. This means I’m human.

How about you? Human much?

I bet you know a lot of great tricks for saving money and time. But if you’re like me, sometimes there simply isn’t time to execute the time saving strategies (does this even make sense?). Sometimes the extra few dollars we need to pay for convenience is worth it so that we avoid stress and overthinking.

Check out what I did a few weeks before Christmas:

bagel-basket

I bought four packages of bagels (without reading the ingredient labels, if you can possibly imagine). I bought four bags of different varieties of granola. I bought a box of instant oatmeal pouches. I put them all in a big basket in the kitchen and told my kids, “This is breakfast for the next few days. Make eggs if you want. Always eat fruit. Beyond this, I won’t be making anything for breakfast because I have too much to do before we leave for California and I’m trying very hard not to be a crazy mom.”

I felt no guilt over the extra expense and the extra sugar and white flour. (Okay fine, I did cringe just a little bit, but only for half a second until I remembered my purpose.)

Nothing is worth anxiety and stress – not even the occasional ingredient label I can’t pronounce. Not even the extra few bucks I could have saved making it all myself.

Do I know how to make bagels? Granola? Instant oatmeal packets? Yes, yes, and yes. It’s fantastic to have such great money-saving recipes in my hip pocket. It’s wonderful knowing I’ve done all I can to put the best of the best on the table for my family.

But it’s more important to be able to love my family with a peaceful heart. It’s crucial for my mental and spiritual health that I spend as much time as possible each morning in prayer and reading the Word. And just before Christmas, the priority of enjoying the season with my family meant much more to me than flipping whole wheat pancakes and serving them with homemade blueberry syrup.

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I always do. Just because it sometimes works, doesn’t mean it always works. Just because I could, doesn’t mean I should. Just because change is hard, doesn’t mean change is bad. Just because I’m doing it now, doesn’t mean I always will.

just-because-i-can

Our family is home now after over 57 hours on the road and two weeks away from home. Things are starting to settle back down (sort of, if they ever actually do). I don’t plan to make bagels anytime soon. But I bet I’ll find time to make a batch or two of granola.

No matter what, I’ll seek to make the most important things in life the highest priority, remembering that just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I always should.

How about you? What are some things you (should) give up during times of additional stress and extra full schedules?

simplemeals300

16 Simple Recipes You Can Make in 5 Minutes

Good things come to those who wait. But good things can come to those in a hurry too, so let’s hear it for a few great recipes we can make in about 5 minutes!

Now, making these is all dependent on the fact that you have these ingredients on hand. But the ingredients are all pretty basic, so I’ll bet you do have these ingredients in your kitchen most of the time. (Cream cheese is a staple food, right?)

Let’s say you have last minute company stop by and you need a quick snack to share. Or maybe you have only a few minutes of work time before you have to head to the next thing. Here are some recipes you can quickly throw together for your favorite people to enjoy.

16-recipes-you-can-make-and-serve-in-about-5-minutes

First a quick list of recipes you can make in 5 minutes:

And now a list with all the tempting pictures that will make you want to lick your computer.

Homemade Nesquik

This is a great one because you can use it to make both chocolate milk or hot chocolate!

Homemade Nesquik

Cream Cheese Salsa Dip

supersimplechipdipsm

Caramel Apple Dip

Cream_Cheese_Apple_Dip

5-Minute Stove-Top Granola

Stove-Top Granola

Coconut Fudge Bars

Coconut Fudge Bars

No-Bake Chocolate Fudge Bites

No-Bake Fudge Bites

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookie Bites

Peanut Butter Cookie Bites - No Bake!

No-Bake Snickerdoodle Bites

snickerdoodle bites2

Pineapple Fluff Salad

Pineapple Fluff

Pineapple Mango Smoothies

pineapple_mango_smoothie

Chocolate Whipped Cream for Coffee or for a Bowl of Fruit

Chocolate Whipped Cream - Perfect For Your Coffee

Chocolate Whipped Cream on Strawberries 2

Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits

Low Sugar Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait 1

Chocolate Cheesecake Parfaits

chocolate cheesecake parfait

Easy Fruit Dip

strawberry_dip
French Onion Dip

french onion dip

What are some of your go-to recipes to make when you only have a few minutes to throw something together?

What Do I Eat? (My Mostly Grain Free Food Diary)

When I shared the latest about my Grain Free Journey several asked, “Can you tell us more about what you eat?”

To answer the question, I started taking pictures every time I got myself some food. Here’s what I learned:

I eat approximately every two hours. If I don’t, I get fussy. I’m like a newborn. If only I got to nap after every feeding.

Why I eat frequently:

I can’t eat big quantities anymore, which means I get hungry more often. Also, I’m not filling up on empty calories, so it seems I need worthy calories quite frequently. I’m trying to listen to my body and give it what it’s asking for!

As mentioned here, I’ve been given the green light to eat grains again. I’m eating them occasionally but not often. When I do eat them, I’m making sure it’s worth it! I mean, I’m not going to waste grain consumption on something silly like crackers or a store-bought hamburger bun. It’s going to be a thin slice of Homemade Bread with butter or well…a Homemade Poptart.

diary1

That picture is an example of how much I eat in one sitting. You should know that I savored that fresh-from-the-oven poptart with my cup of coffee that morning as if I was eating a gourmet breakfast. It was amazingness.

Mid-morning, I was hungry so I had a half a sweet pepper and a hunk of cheese. Exciting, huh?

diary2

Lunch at noon was a big chef salad with mixed greens, fresh tomato from our garden, leftover grilled chicken, avocado, and Homemade Ranch Dressing.

diary4

Sometime later that afternoon I had a bowl of Pineapple Fluff Salad. I forgot to take a picture. :) The rest of the day got away so I didn’t take pictures of my dinner, nor do I remember what I had. Great diary, huh?

The remaining pictures I took sporadically throughout the week to show other meals or snacks I ate. Here, you’ll love this next one. I was feeling sluggish one morning so I decided I might need some extra fat. Therefore, I got myself a little scoop of coconut oil. I kind of like eating it straight and I kind of don’t because eating fat off a spoon is weird. I took a “down the hatch” selfie for your viewing pleasure.

diary3

The following pictures are good examples of what I typically do when I feed my family something grainy.

One day I pulled Homemade Corndogs out of the freezer. While they were warming, I fried sweet potatoes and steamed green beans from our garden. Sometimes I just eat the non-grain parts of the meal, but I hadn’t had many grains all day so I splurged and enjoyed a little corndog. It was quite tasty, but I really, really loved the veggies! (I mean, green beans from the garden? It doesn’t get any better than that.)

diary6

Now I will show you what has become one of my favorite meals. Instead of eating my much loved Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel Dip with chips, I am loving it stirred into fried zucchini. What an amazing combination!! Matt usually joins me in having this with zucchini while the boys stick with the tortilla chips.

diary7

It tastes much better than this picture makes it look.

It’s easy to avoid grains on mornings we make eggs. We almost always make them with cheese because that makes the egg rating immediately go from 4 to 10. If you look closely at the picture, you’ll see that while I served a few leftover Breakfast Cookies and Homemade Poptarts to the boys with our eggs, I also cut the tops off the leftover Chocolate Zucchini Muffins. I’d made the mistake of leaving them on the counter for one day too long and they got moldy on top. No problem. I just cut off the tops and served them. You can probably guess that those were not the favorite choice of the morning.

diary5

Last I will show you a boring picture of what I ate the day I served a Build Your Own Burrito Bar. I was not in the mood for cheese or anything fancy, so while Matt and the boys loaded tortillas with Salsa Chicken, olives, rice, cheese, salsa, sour cream, greens, and tomatoes – I ate greens with chicken. It tasted great and was all I needed for the moment.

diary8

Then of course two hours later I needed a snack. Surprise, surprise. :)

Care to share some of the meals and snacks you eat throughout the day? How often do you find yourself needing to eat?

All the ways I’m using these little cups with lids…

I am such a big fan of jars. You know this about me, and you also know that I’m not actually a big fan of plastic. But still, I bought these delightful little plastic cups last year, and I’m happy enough with their function that I feel it’s worth telling you about them.

plastic cup

See how adorable? How functional? How plastic?

I know. I know.

While I know that glass and stainless steel are much better options, I also know that I have a family that is on the run a lot. Sometimes we need disposable containers. So I bought a package of 100 cups with lids last fall, and today I want to tell you a few of the great ways we’ve used them to make life a little bit simpler.

Note: While these are disposable, if it works, we wash and reuse them. We can’t help it.

Homemade Applesauce Cups

Homemade Applesauce Cups

In an effort to save money on purchased applesauce cups last fall, and to prepare an on-the-go applesauce option – I filled a bunch of these cups and froze them. These turned out to be a lifesaver when we headed to soccer games or basketball games during the school year.

Note: I don’t recommend throwing these into a diaper bag or backpack. These only travel well when placed carefully in a cooler or lunchbox that isn’t likely to tip or crunch cups.

Berries to Go

I found it easy to cut up strawberries or fill cups with blueberries to pack for the road. These cups work so much better than a plastic baggie.

Pudding Cups

pudding cups

When we headed to church camp for a week of teaching Bible class, I knew I’d need some special food items to accommodate my “special diet.” I filled several of these cups with Homemade Tapioca Pudding and I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to have these to help fill me up when my food choices were limited.

Obviously, these would be great for Chocolate, Vanilla, and Butterscotch Pudding too.

Other great ways to use these cups with lids

These cups are great filled with Ranch Dressing to go with carrots and cucumbers on the road. Or use them for Homemade Peanut Butter to dip sliced apples. Or fill them with trail mix.

What else can you think of?

Great uses for these plastic cups with lids

When possible, I stick with glass. But it sure is nice to have these disposable cups with lids on hand as a convenient option!

This post contains affiliate links.

The Sentence I Never Thought I’d Hear Myself Say

My natural doctor just took me off grains.

All grains. Not just gluten. Grains. Wheat, rice, corn, oats, and all the others.

What???

I believe (but am not entirely sure) that this will be temporary. Who even knows? Since 2012, I’ve been detoxing heavy metals, trying to get rid of migraines, and cleansing my body under the care of my doctor who strives to get to the root of our symptoms. (It has been a fun four-year party.) As a result, my body started hating sugar about three years ago. Now I’m removing grains to promote further healing.

It’s been almost two weeks that I’ve been grainless. The journey so far has gone something like this:

Day 1: Avoid grains? Fine. No biggie. I don’t eat many grains anymore anyway.

Five minutes later: Hit with the reality that I eat way more grains than I thought. Kept a good attitude.

Days 2 and 3: I’m starving. Eating round the clock. Eight meals a day. Discover that eating constantly is only fun in theory.

Day 4:  Still hungry. Food isn’t fun. I’m so mad that food isn’t fun. Now I’m mad and sad at my doctor. Except not. Except yes.

Day 5: Waffling (which is ironic seeing as I’m not eating waffles) between being grateful for so much food variety and feeling completely sorry for myself because I just want one little biscuit. And also corn chips.

Days 2-9: Grumpy. Fine. Grumpy. Fine. Grumpy.

Day 10: Turned a corner. Oh hey. My body seems to be getting used to this. I only need to eat 4-6 times a day now and the grain cravings are lessening. Cool.

Day 11: Who even cares about bread? (me. still. sometimes.) So very grateful that coffee is a bean and not a grain. So very, very thankful.

Days 12-13: Adjusting. Lettuce makes great nachos. My pants are looser. I’m not starving all the time. Spaghetti squash rocks.

Apparently, there is a normal period of time that your body, which is used to being fed grains, will beg for grains and make you think you’re hungry all the time (which you are) even though you are eating constantly (which I was). There might have been some tears. My husband is very, very nice.

So here we are.

I’m not going to make a big deal of this and I’m not going to change how I cook for my family. They’ll still get their share of whole grain bread and pancakes and rice and granola. For now, I’ll just eat the non-grainy parts of our meals.

If you know me very well, you’ll probably enjoy this giggle:

After the first four days of eating meat and vegetables and meat and vegetables and meat, I actually said this sentence to Matt,

“I’m just so tired of meat!!”

Me. I said this. I’m the carnivorous girl who has always loved and craved meat. The moment the words were out of my mouth, Matt looked at me with a smirk and I said, “Who even just said that?!”

Weirdy weirdness. I was having a moment. I was out of my head, and also I was hungry for pizza.

But now look at me. I am just fine. I am so happy to snack on a spoonful of peanut butter. Who even needs grains? Not me. This is the only snack I could ever want.

yum. peanut butter.

This grain free time (probably) won’t be forever, and I’m so grateful to be on the road to great health. Also? As if I hadn’t already learned that cutting back on breads and desserts leaves a lot of room more more nutrition-packed foods (like vegetables), I’m really finding that now. Yay! My body is receiving so much nourishment!!

Now your job is to leave yummy grain/sugar free food ideas in the comment section.

P.S. I fudge (again, the irony) and eat a little fruit even though it has natural sugar. Also, I can have dairy. Praise God for cream cheese. Amen.