It’s Not Too Late! Join our 30-Day Real Food Money Saving Challenge!

It’s time for the 30-Day Real Food Money Saving Challenge! It’s FREE. It’s fun. It’ll save you money. It’ll encourage you to eat right. (And by eat right, I mean spread butter on your bread and pour sweet cream on your peaches. This is the good kind of eatin’!)

We’ve got a whole slew of participants, but we still need more! For everyone who is interested in eating real food and saving money too, this is for you!

Take the 30 Day Challenge

Throughout the month of September, I’ll send out quick and easy real food money saving tips to everyone who signs up to take part in the fun. Should you choose to accept each challenge, you’ll be on your way to filling your table with simple real foods while keeping extra money in your wallet.

This 30-Day Challenge is FREE!

Yep. There’s no cost to join. The tips are fun and practical no matter where you live and what your grocery store options are!

This isn’t about couponing. This is simply about making the most of your grocery dollars while putting great, real food on the table.

Ready to join?!

All you have to do is:

Sign up to take the 30-Day Real~Food~Money~Saving Challenge here.


Throughout the month of September, I’ll send out quick and easy real food money saving tips. Should you choose to accept each challenge, you’ll be on your way to filling your table with simple real foods while keeping extra money in your wallet.

Let the 30-Day Real Food Money Saving Challenge begin!

Join here. 

All Chocolate, All the Time, All Less Than $1.00

I think we should have a chocolate themed “Less than $1.00″ day – wouldn’t you agree?

$1.00 or Less Recipes, Crafts, Gift Ideas, and more!

Chocolate for breakfastYum

I’ll start us off with a breakfast (or snack) recipe that tastes quite a bit like a specialty store-bought granola, but costs much less. This Dark Chocolate Almond Granola is our family’s favorite of all granola options. It costs less than $1.00 per serving!

Tip: Want to make granola this summer, but prefer to leave the oven off as much as possible to avoid heating up the house? Make it with this 5-Minute Stove-Top Granola Making Method. I kind of like cheating and making granola this way. Be sure to wait and add the chocolate pieces after you’ve removed it from the stove. Come to think of it, you could just stir them right in to make a chocolate coating all over the granola. No one would complain, right?

dark_chocolate_almond_granola

Make your own Chocolate Milk Mix!

Follow the recipe for Homemade Chocolate Syrup and not only will you be avoiding high fructose corn syrup, it’ll cost you less than $1.00 for the whole batch. You’ll notice that I wrote that recipe before I began cutting down the sugar quantities in my recipes. Feel free to experiment with using less sugar. I’m sure it will still taste great!

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

Here’s another variety of chocolate milk mix you might enjoy: Homemade Nesquik! Again, that entire mix can be made for about $1.00. :)

Make Your Own Nesquik

Make your own Frappe

Save a bundle by avoiding the coffee shop and making yourself a Chocolate Frappe at home. A big glass of this definitely costs less than $1.00. You can make this as sweet or as “barely sweet” as you like. I use stevia, but you can use sugar if you prefer.

Healthy Homemade Chocolate Frappe

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups?

Yep. These Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups aren’t necessarily low in sugar, but they are made with healthier ingredients. I only make these every once in a while as a special treat – and they fit the theme because they are less than $1.00!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

See the other “less than $1.00″ ideas I shared this week here and here. More “less than $1.00″ ideas coming up tomorrow!

Easy Raspberry Pancake and Waffle Syrup Recipe – Two Ingredients!

Easy Raspberry Pancake and Waffle Syrup

I just priced it. An 8.5 ounce bottle of Raspberry Syrup costs $6.99. But neener-neener, I just made some for pennies.

Now granted, I got the raspberries for free – although we did pick them ourselves – and time is money, so there’s that. We got fresh air, sunshine, time with friends, and a bit of a workout while picking (swatting bugs) – so I’m going to go with priceless on this endeavor.

Friends, let us not ever pay seven bucks for a tiny bottle of sugary syrup. Let us, instead, save oodles of money by making our own. Let us keep the ingredients healthy. Let us drizzle this good stuff all over our pancakes and waffles, and even top it with homemade whipped cream. Then let us rejoice together at the amazing deliciousness of this treat.

Easy Raspberry Pancake and Waffle Syrup - Only Two Ingredients!

Check out what I finally, finalllllly set up for you here! I seriously should have done this five years ago, but by default it fell low on my to-do list. Therefore, I skipped some housecleaning this weekend and got this done. Seeing as cleaning isn’t my fav, this to-do list swap was perfectly okay with me.

Little by little I’ll switch over all my hundreds of recipes to be easy to read and print like this. You can even leave a recipe review after you give it a try! It is too fun.

Easy Raspberry Pancake and Waffle Syrup Recipe - Two Ingredients!
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 2 Tablespoons sucanat
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, stir raspberries and sucanat over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the berries are tender and the ingredients have formed a syrup.
  2. Serve warm over pancakes or waffles.

If you need some pancakes or waffles to go with your Raspberry Syrup, here are our favorite recipes:

Hope you are enjoying fall weather, fall food, and fall um…what else? What do you love about fall? I’d have to say it’s all pretty fun except for the way fall soccer season makes our shoe closet smell absolutely terrifying. Ask me how I felt when I realized that all of the York College cheerleaders came into my living room and walked right by the open – OPEN – closet door before I realized that one of my boys had left it that way. Messy closet aside, I just hated that they had to be put through the torture of breathing in the green cloud. No one died, and we are grateful.

One of my boys said that he feels it’s best to leave the closet door open so that it can air out. This is a great idea except for how that creates 3,000 square feet of stink throughout our entire house (notice the double meaning on the word feet there). SHUT THE CLOSET DOOR already. Or maybe burn the shoes.

Friends, you are so sweet to hang out with me here. You all smell so good and you are so nice. Here you came by for a Raspberry Syrup recipe and I share all the gross details of my happy life.

Raspberry Syrup smells oh so sweet. It also tastes good. And look! I installed a new easy-to-use recipe reader and printer-outer.

That was me, distracting you and taking you back to the good parts of this post. Love ya.

Money Saving Monday: Clean out the Pantry and Freezer

Money Saving Monday Banner

Since I’ve been doing my “eat from the pantry and freezer instead of buying groceries” challenge for exactly one whole day, I thought it was high time I posted an update about how it’s going so far.  That, and I thought this idea of “using what you have” fit perfectly into our Money Saving Monday series.  ;)

So there you have it.  Today’s Money Saving Monday tip is:  Challenge yourself.  Instead of running to the store for ingredients, try creating a few meals and snacks from what you have stored in your pantry and freezer.  This can save you quite a bit of money in the long run!

So far, all one day of this challenge has been very fun for me.  By the end of the month, I might not be as enthusiastic.  Either way, this is a good practice to bless your grocery budget and to help insure that you don’t waste food.

Sunday after church, we invited several college students over to eat with us.  Matt and I worked together to make a mountain of Whole Wheat Waffles, scrambled cheesy eggs, Homemade Hashbrown Patties, and fruit.  I was planning to make Peach Syrup but would you believe?  We only found one little bag of frozen peaches in our freezer.  (I guess the “eat all the frozen peaches” part of the challenge was completed before the month began.)

I decided instead to put that small amount of peaches into a pot with all the frozen berries I found hanging out in all my freezers.  Therefore, using this Peach Syrup idea, I made a Peach-Strawberry-Raspberry-Blueberry Syrup.  Matt declared it to be the best part of the meal.  And now I’m completely out of frozen fruit (except for pineapple).  Well that didn’t take long.  :)

Here’s all that was left after our feast, but I’d say there are enough waffles there to give us an easy breakfast this week:

eat from pantry 1

For High School Huddle Sunday night, I made a huge pan of Apple Crisp from the bags of apples I’d sliced and frozen this fall.  How easy was that?

eat from pantry 2

I will say that after just one day of this, I am really recognizing how much food we go through during a 24 hour period – especially when we invite others to join us.  That’s the point though.  We have plenty of food – and we are happy to share!  If this challenge only lasts a week or two before I need to start stocking up again, so be it.  That will be one or two weeks of grocery savings, and it all adds up!

Give this idea a try – I dare you.  :)

Leave a comment, inspiring us with what you have creatively come up with in your kitchen when you’ve avoided going to the grocery store!

Switching to Whole Food Sweeteners Without Breaking the Bank

Money Saving Monday Banner

While switching from processed food to nourishing food doesn’t have to be terribly expensive, there’s no way around this one:  White and brown sugar are cheap. Sucanat, real maple syrup, muscovado, honey, and stevia are not cheap. I can get a 2-pound bag of brown sugar at the store for $1.78. Sucanat, on the other hand, is usually $5.00 for 1.5 pounds. Ouch! It’s worth it to buy the good stuff, but it isn’t fun to pay for.

While I don’t have any earth shattering advice about finding fantastic deals on these wholesome sweeteners, I do have some suggestions based on what works for me.

Switching to Whole Food Sweeteners Without Breaking the Bank

1. Stop eating so many sugary desserts.

I know. You’re rolling your eyes. I feel your pain on this one because I’m a recovering sugar addict. Pray about this and let God’s power be your will-power. You don’t have to cut out desserts altogether (unless you feel called to). You simply need to keep sugary foods a treat instead of pouring on the sugar like it’s a food group. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save on sucanat, honey, and maple syrup when you stop eating so much.

2. Cut the sugar in half.

When baking muffins, quick breads, and breakfast bars, I find that half the sugar called for in many recipes (even mine!) works just fine. The baked goods are still sweet and tasty. This saves quite a bit of money on wholesome sugars!

3. Drizzle your syrup.

Dousing your pancakes or waffles in real maple syrup? That’s an expensive breakfast! A little drizzle of rich, flavorful maple syrup goes a long way. It’s also fun to pour a tiny quarter-sized bit of syrup onto your plate, then dip the corner of each bite to sweeten it just a touch.

4. Pull out the cheap stuff when feeding a crowd.

If I’m feeding 40 teenagers, I leave my sucanat in the pantry and pull out the cheap brown sugar. There’s no need to use $6 worth of sucanat when I can use $1.50 worth of brown sugar for a big group of kids who really don’t care about whether or not the brownies were made with organic sugar or not. I certainly don’t mind sharing “the good stuff” with company occasionally, but it just really isn’t worth spending extra money when three pans of dessert are going to be devoured in two minutes. I never compromise on using real butter (instead of margarine), and I always use my freshly ground flour (no one can even tell) – but compromising on sugar? At least it’s actual sugar instead of artificial sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Which leads me to…

At the end of the day…

It’s all sugar.  Sucanat is healthier because it’s processed very little and still contains nutrients. Real maple syrup is straight from the tree. Honey is made by bees and is as natural as it comes. But to our bodies? It’s all sugar. Read this post about Breaking Free of Sugar Addiction for more of my thoughts on this.

This means you may decide that switching to sucanat (and paying the higher price tag) is just not worth it.

I believe the bigger focus needs to be on cutting back on sugar (in all its forms). Focus on filling up on fruits and vegetables instead. You’ll be amazed at how sweet your fruits and vegetables taste when your palate isn’t coated with a cookie.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Which sugars do you choose to purchase and use for your family?

Make Homemade Broth ~ Money Saving Monday

 

Money Saving Monday Banner

Welcome to our very first Money Saving Monday tip! I have to start with talk about making broth. Why? Here’s the back story…

Once upon a time (otherwise known as two weeks ago), we were having a houseful of company for the weekend. I had the meals planned, and worked to get as much cooking done ahead of time as possible so that I could enjoy my guests once they arrived.

The only task left on my list was “make broth for soup” which kept getting pushed down because of everything else that kept getting added to my list – you know how it is. I decided, “Fine, I’ll just buy the broth. No need to kill myself and be exhausted before guests arrive.”  So I checked “make broth for soup” off my to-do list and added “broth for soup” to my grocery list. (This has got to be the most intriguing story you’ve ever read…)

Fast-forward to the part where I was standing at the store in the aisle of broth. I saw the tiny little box of broth along with its price tag. Out loud to the shelf, the broth, the price tag, and likely to a few other shoppers passing by, I said, “Ugh. $2 – for this??”  I cringed as I put three boxes in my cart. I cringed even more when I poured the watery broth into my soup pot. When I make broth, it’s thick and rich, full of vegetables, fat, and gel from the bones.

Purchasing broth that day really was a life saver. But a money saver it was not. Plus, what I make at home is much more nutrient packed. So Money Saving Monday tip for today:

Make Your Own Nutrient-Packed Broth

For the price of three boxes of store-bought (watery) broth, I can make 2 gallons of homemade, nourishing broth. I pack it full of veggies. I cook it slow and low until the good fat and nutrients seep out of the bones. You haven’t had broth until you’ve had homemade bone broth. This is incredibly delicious, and so very good for you!

Even better, beef bones are very inexpensive to purchase. I purchase beef bones from a local farmer who raises grass-fed beef. You can also check butcher shops and your grocery store meat department to see about getting a good deal on beef bones.

I personally love how easy beef bone broth is to make. In addition, I often make Chicken Broth, which is also incredibly nourishing and rich. But it does take a little more effort if you are starting with whole chickens. Making broth from beef bones requires very little effort – and very little money – just to restate one of our main points today!

Below you’ll find links to our Beef Broth and Chicken Broth instructions:

How to Make Beef Broth

Homemade Beef Broth

How to Make Chicken Broth

How to Make Chicken Broth

So, three cheers for homemade bone broth! It’s one of the most inexpensive ways to get loads of nourishment into your family.

What to do with Beef Bone Broth or Chicken Broth:

In case you lost count, that’s 12 amazing ways to fill yourself and your family with nourishment in a very inexpensive way. Homemade Beef and Chicken broth are amazing!

Make it Ahead

Beef and Chicken Broth can easily be made ahead and frozen for future use. This means you are not only saving money, you’re saving time! To freeze broth, be sure it has completely cooled. Pour it into jars, leaving 2-3 inches of space at the top of the jar to allow for the broth to expand as it freezes. You can also freeze the broth in freezer bags. Just be sure the bags are sealed well before putting them in the freezer. Otherwise, they will spill and leak, creating broth-sicles all over the freezer – ask me how I know. :(

What are your favorite ways to make and use beef or chicken broth?

How to Stretch a Chicken to Make Six Meals

How to Stretch a Chicken to Make 6 Meals

When I mentioned that I can stretch a chicken to last us six meals, many of you thought I was kidding. I can’t believe you thought I was kidding. I’m always so serious about everything I say around here. Just kidding.  About being serious. I’m not kidding about the chicken though.

(eh?)

There are six of us in our family and we all enjoy our food. That’s my polite way of saying, “Good grief, my boys can put away a lot of groceries in a short amount of time and then come back in an hour asking for more.”  That said, if I roast a nice chicken for dinner and serve it as the main dish, there won’t be much left of said chicken at the end of the meal. Just enough to pull a few scraps of meat together for a small casserole, then the bones are used to make broth. So, worst case chicken scenario at my house:  One Chicken, Two and a Half Meals.

But if I cook a chicken to make broth, and then use the meat from the chicken to make several different meals…now that is the best way to get the most out of a chicken!  It’s cost effective, it saves loads of time and it’s easy.

The chickens I buy are from a farm nearby and they are big (between 4-6 pounds) and nice and meaty. I pay good money for them (around $15), which sounds like a lot…but if I get SIX meals from one bird? That’s only $2.50 worth of excellent protein per meal (42¢ per serving)…for my family of six!

Okay, so let’s say I cook a chicken all day to make broth and to have cooked chicken meat ready for meals.  This has got to be one of the easiest things to do ever when it comes to cooking nutrient rich and inexpensive meals for your family, by the way. To stretch the chicken to last our family six meals, here is an example of what I might do over the course of a week or week and a half (freezing the broth and/or chicken after a few days to pull out as needed):

1. Use one batch of broth and a little bit of chicken to make Chicken Tortilla Soup. Because I’m using the rich broth, I don’t feel the need to use much chicken (if any) in this soup.

chickentortillasoupsm.JPG

2. Use the other batch of broth to make Chicken Noodle Soup. Again, I would use very little chicken to make this as there is so much goodness in the broth. And if you recall, sometimes I forget the chicken altogether, much like I forget to put the bananas in my banana bread. You’ve got to love my “duh” moments.

3. Next, I’d throw some chicken in Homemade Alfredo Sauce with pasta. I just use about 1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken for this as the sauce and noodles make up the bulk of the meal. (Add steamed veggies and a salad and you’re good to go!)

4. For a tasty lunch later in the week I’d make Black Bean Taco Salad. Because there are black beans and cheese in this salad, it doesn’t require a lot of chicken to complete the meal. Yum – this salad is so good!!

5. Not out of chicken yet, I can now make Three Cheese Garlic Chicken Pasta. Again, the pasta and cheese and milk are so filling, not a lot of chicken is needed. Plus, the cheese helps add protein to this meal.

garlicchickenpastasm

6.  Last, I’d use whatever chicken is left to make Chicken Veggie Quesadillas. With all the veggies to fill these quesadillas, the small bits of chicken add just a little bit of protein to complete the meal!

veggiequesadilla1sm.JPG

Now, I feel very strongly that our family needs good, healthy protein at each meal, so I’m not usually parked in the “skimp on meat” camp. We eat lots of eggs and nuts and beef and other meat. But getting a lot of goodness out of one chicken is a great way to cut down on time in the kitchen and save money too!

The moral of the chicken stretching story is:  If you don’t use the chicken as the main part of the meal, but just as a supplementary part…you too can stretch a chicken for all it’s worth.

What is your favorite way to stretch a chicken? As in…what are your favorite meals to eat with leftover, cooked chicken?

Disclaimer:  No chickens were actually stretched during the writing of this post.

This post was originally published on January 23, 2011.

Real Food – Low Cost Challenge Link-Up!

As we reach the end of this Real Food – Low Cost Challenge, I have concluded that if you are ever wondering if you’re spending too much on healthy food – do a price break down. It’s a bit of a headache. It might make you a little crazy (or maybe that was just me having issues). But the effort is worth it. To learn that most of my real food recipes can be prepared for an average of $1.00 per person – that was very encouraging to me!

To finish up the cost break down on the remaining items on the challenge list, I’ll let you know that Italian Pasta Bake costs about $8.85 to make, breaking down to $1.48/person in my family.

Cheddar Ranch Burgers came in at $11.93 for eight burgers – $1.49 per burger. Not super cheap, but made with the finest ingredients and very filling. Throw some veggies in and we’ve got a complete meal for around $2.00 a person.

But enough about my recipes and the costs that come with them. I’ve been very anxious for today to come so that you would have an opportunity to share some of your favorite real food recipes that are low in cost. Help me prove that eating healthy does not have to be expensive!!!

If you have a blog, and have some Real Food – Low Cost recipes to share with us, link them up with us here. Be sure to link back to this post so that your readers know where to find more healthy recipes! If you don’t have a blog, please feel free to post your recipes in the comments section of this post. If you care to share the cost break down of your recipes – even better!

Let the Real Food – Low Cost Challenge Recipe Sharing begin!