Category: Super Simple Recipes

Saving Money 101: The Chocolate Secret

Saving 101: The Chocolate Secret
Saving 101: The Chocolate Secret

There are only a few delicacies affordable for the average person today and chocolate is one of them.

In an effort to make chocolate more affordable to our family, I have found a couple of secrets and I am sharing them here with you.

Least Expensive Quality Chocolate Bars

I only eat bars with 60% or more coco in them – no Hershey’s® for this gal! My two preferred bars are Lindt® and Ghiradelli® 60% or 70% cocoa bars. The typical price I have seen for these 3.5 ounce bars are around $3.00 per bar. Walmart® has the best prices I am aware of for the past year, ranging from $2.40 – $2.70 per 3.5 oz bar and this was the price I was (willing) to pay…until I discovered a secret:

If you go to the baking isle of Walmart® and look amongst the baking chocolate, Ghiradelli® has a 4.0 ounce baking chocolate bar – for $2.08.

So, not only is the bar bigger, but it costs $.30 to $.60 less than the candy bar. The ingredients are the same as the one in the candy aisle, only the packaging is different. I (although I admit I don’t have the most discerning palate) can not tell the difference in flavor / taste when I compared the two.

Now, in all fairness, when I went to the candy aisle this week to pick up the 3.5 oz bar for the photo shoot, I did notice the candy bar was on sale- $2.23 to be exact or $.63 per oz. The baking isle bar is $.52 per oz, so still a better deal, especially if you pick up a few at a time.

If you don’t have a Walmart nearby (or don’t like Walmart), you can get a Ghirardelli Bitter Sweet Baking Bar, 60% Cacao-4 OZ bar from Amazon for $2.99.

Make Your Own Simple, Healthy, Cheap Chocolate

I came across a recipe awhile ago in my search to make my own chocolate using coconut oil, and after a little modification, I can produce a homemade chocolate bar that I enjoy and know is healthier and cheaper than most of what can be found on the store shelves. The recipe follows:

Ingredients:

½ cup coconut oil

¼ cup raw cane sugar

½ cup cocoa powder (100% cocoa)

Instructions:

1) Grind the raw sugar (blender, coffee grinder, etc..) – this makes it “powdered” and will dissolve easier in the coconut oil.

2) In a small pan, heat the oil on medium-low. Add the sugar and stir gently for a couple of minutes until the sugar is dissolved.

3) Add the cocoa and stir until the cocoa is well blended.

4) Pour the mixture into a well greased small baking dish and then put in the refrigerator to set for a couple of hours – or if you can’t wait that long to dig in, put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

5) Since coconut oil melts at 76 to 78 degrees, you will have to store your chocolate bar in the fridge unless you keep your house cooler.

The best deal I could find to purchase organic, dark chocolate online was for Newman’s Own Organics 2.25oz Dark Chocolate Bar for $2.57.

Super Simple Menu Plan: One Week Of Meals For Less Than $100

Menu

Our goal for a family food budget is $450 per month. This means that we have $100 or less to shop on each week (since there is 4 ½ weeks to almost every month). We eat fresh, healthy, whole, homemade food, which means very few coupons are useful to us. So how do we do this?

The following is our menu for a week, which I plan Thursday to Wednesday, since Thursday is my usual shopping day:

Thursday –

Breakfast: homemade whole grain waffles with maple flavored agave syrup.

Snack: ½ orange

Lunch: tuna-fish sandwiches on homemade bread (with pickles)

Dinner: Black beans with shredded cheese and tortilla chips

Friday –

Breakfast: ½ banana, oatmeal with non-dairy milk and honey

Snack: store-bought cheesy crackers (with whole grains and real cheese)

Lunch: tuna-fish sandwiches on homemade bread (with pickles)

Dinner: top-sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and carrots, homemade bread, ice cream

Saturday –

Breakfast: grape juice, ½ banana, cold cereal (whole grain, low sugar), non-dairy milk

Snack: store-bought ginger snap cookies (natural, no artificial ingredients)

Lunch: top-sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and carrots, homemade bread

Dinner: mixed veggies and pirogies

Sunday –

Breakfast: oatmeal with berry mix, honey, non-dairy milk

Snack: ½ orange, ¼ protein bar

Lunch: mixed veggies and pirogies

Dinner: Black beans with shredded cheese, tortilla chips, salsa, Panda black licorice

Monday –

Breakfast: grape juice, ½ banana, cornmeal mush with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack: cheesy crackers and peanut butter (no salt or sugar added)

Lunch: veggie salad and tortilla chips

Dinner: whole grain pasta, marinara sauce with ground turkey sausage

Tuesday –

Breakfast: oatmeal with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack: ¼ orange, whole wheat crackers

Lunch: homemade artisan bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, mixed veggies

Dinner: whole grain pasta, marinara sauce with ground turkey sausage

Wednesday –

Breakfast: cornmeal mush with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack:  gingersnap cookies and ice cream

Lunch: homemade artisan bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, mixed veggies

Dinner: veggie stir-fry with rice noodles

If you would like to see any of the recipes, please post a request. I would love to hear your healthy, simple menus – post a link if you have one!

Blessings and healthy eating.

 
YWAM

Three Injera Recipes

Image

Based on my $25 weekly menu, I have had some requests for some of the recipes.

Here is a link to a traditional, Ethiopian Injera Recipe using teff flour:

http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/bread/recipe-injera.html

If you forget to start your Injera one or more days before you want to cook and eat it, you can use this quick version. This is one I have used a few times and it is good, although I wouldn’t call it traditional or as healthy:

http://www.aspicyperspective.com/2012/03/ethiopian-recipes-injera-doro-wat.html

The following is my “Americanized” version of Injera. I still ferment it for a day:

Americanized Injera Recipe with variations

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups rice flour

4 cups water

2 tsp salt

oil for cooking (grape-seed, coconut, olive)

Instructions:

  1. Mix the whole wheat flour, the rice flour and the water in a non-metal bowl. It should be thin like crepe batter.

  2. Let stand in bowl for 1 day (24 hours or close) with a cover over the bowl.

  3. Add and stir in the 2 tsp salt before cooking.

  4. Add a small amount of oil to a fry pan or wok on medium heat (just to coat the bottom).

  5. Pour in enough Injera batter to cover the bottom of the pan.

  6. Cook for a couple of minutes. Flip and cook for another minute or two.

  7. Remove from pan.

  8. Serve while warm or keep warm in oven until all are finished.

Variations:

Other flours that can be used besides rice flour: buckwheat, millet, lentil, garbanzo.

Holiday flair: Add two cups mashed pumpkin or squash right before cooking.

Spices: Try cardamom, gram masala, or cumin, depending on what you serve it with.

We have enjoyed this bread with lentil curry stew and chutney and just by itself.

Let me know if you have any favorite variations of it!

 

Cleansing, Iron Increasing Beet Soup Recipe

English: A bundle of organic beets from a loca...

I was recently asked for my beet soup recipe.

This recipe was given to me by my (step) mom and we enjoy this soup whenever we just want to feel lighter and cleansed or when I need a boost in iron. My children really like this soup too!

Ingredients:

2 – 3 medium beets, keep some of the beet greens if you have them

2 TBL butter or good oil (coconut, olive, grape-seed)

½ tsp salt

1 – 2 tsp Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning or similar

4 – 6 cups water

Optional: substitute vegetable broth or chicken broth for some of the water

Instructions:

1 – Wash and dice beets into small chunks or julienne if you want to be fancy. Chop up a couple tablespoons of greens.

2 – Melt butter or heat up oil on medium heat in a medium size pot.

3 – Carefully put beets (but not greens yet) in pot and sauté 8 to 10 minutes.

4 – Add seasonings (salt and Mrs. Dash).

5 – Add water and optional broth.

6 – Cook for 10 – 15 minutes. Add greens for the last 5 minutes.

 

I have a similar recipe in my Simple, Healthy, Cheap! A Simple Life’s Guide to Home Economics: Beginning Cooking eBook, but uses Asian seasonings and adds rice noodles to make a more complete meal. 

Super Simple Recipes: A Healthy, Delicious Snack for Less Than a Candy Bar

Super Simple Recipes - Peanut Butter Balls


I know that sometimes a candy bar can sound and taste so good. But what about after eating it? How do you feel? I honestly don’t remember this as a child, but as an adult, a candy bar now makes me feel ill afterwards and there is nothing of value actually in it.

That is one reason our family loves this recipe – it has a taste a bit like a candy bar – but actually has nutritional value and will not leave you feeling ill afterwards.

Once you have the ingredients, this snack can be made almost as quick as unwrapping a pack of candy (well, maybe just a tad more work) and costs less than most single servings of candy bars. 

I am referring to a classic recipe: Peanut Butter Balls. Below is our family’s favorite, easiest version of this recipe.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. 

Cost Per:

Family of 5 – $2.50

Serving – $.50

*prices are approximate and will vary by where one lives and other factors.

½ cup PB – $1.00

½ cup honey – $.60

½ cup carob (price per lb) – $.62

¼ cup coconut – $.25

Shopping List:

½ Cup Peanut Butter – You may substitute Almond, Cashew, or other Nut Butter for Peanut Butter, however they are usually more expensive. Purchase nut butter from a bulk section of a store or purchase a no-sugar added kind like Adams Peanut Butter, where you find peanut butter.

½ Cup Honey – Find local Honey if possible as it can help with local pollen and flower allergies, and usually has more flavor options than the standard clover honey.

½ Cup Carob Powder – You may use Coco Powder if you are tentative about using Carob. Carob Powder is usually found in a bulk section of a store, but may also be in the baking isle of a health food store.

¼ Cup Shredded Coconut – Purchase unsweetened shredded coconut. This can usually be found in a bulk section of a store, but may be found in the baking isle.

Supplies:

1 medium mixing bowl

1 large spoon / wooden spoon

½ cup measure

¼ cup measure

wax paper (optional)

1 plate

Instructions:

  1. Measure the ½ cup Peanut (or other Nut) Butter, the ½ cup Honey, and the ½ cup Carob (or Coco) Powder into the bowl.
  2. Stir together until smooth and creamy looking. It will start to form a big ball.
  3. Place a piece of wax paper onto plate about the size of the plate.
  4. Scoop out a tablespoon of the mixture, roll into a ball, place onto wax paper on plate.
  5. Roll out the rest of the mixture into balls.
  6. Put the Shredded Coconut into a pile in an empty spot on the plate.
  7. Roll the balls through the Coconut.
  8. Place finished balls in the fridge for 1 hour or longer.

Have fun, be healthy, and learn to make good food choices!

Do you like what you see here? This is a peek into my beginning home economics curriculum for children, titled: Teach Your Children To Cook – The Simple, Healthy, Cheap Way .

 

Super Simple Recipes: Best Meal Ever

Super Simple Recipes Best Meal Ever

I don’t use this title lightly.

I recently made one of the simplest dinners and it was one of the best meals our family has ever had. Everyone liked it, including our three small children.

We acquired a fresh caught salmon.

Foolishly, I tried to fillet it. I thought after watching a video about how to do it, that it would be a breeze. Hah. I gave up after 15 minutes

My husband, currently into the Paleo Diet / Primal Blueprint (I don’t agree with the evolutionary precept behind it), sent me a link on how to grill (or broil) a whole fish. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-grill-a-whole-fish/#axzz1zCZz0Lc4 .

I salted and oiled the salmon and broiled it about 10 minutes per side.

While waiting, I sautéed some fresh green beans in olive oil, chopped garlic, and salt for 15 – 20 minutes.

That is it.

So simple, but it was so delicious. We really enjoyed the salty, crispy fish skin.

To summarize:

1 whole salmon

olive oil

salt

fresh green beans

chopped garlic

Less than 10 minutes of work in the kitchen. There was about 5 minutes of prep time to salt and oil the salmon, one flip of the salmon halfway through the cook time, and another couple of minutes of time stirring the green beans once or twice.

Bonus: We got three meals out of the fish.

Here are some cookbooks that have helped me find and develop our simple cooking:

Super Simple Recipes: Fish & Potatoes

Super Simple Recipes

Our family makes about 90% of our food from scratch. However, we don’t have a lot of time for cooking fancy meals, so I have been learning to make very simple recipes lately.

The recipes in the Super Simple Recipe series should only include a handful or so of ingredients and take 10 minutes or less of prep time. However, they make take an hour or more to cook, but with little or no further work required.

 This week, I made a simple fish and potato recipe:

  • 5 – 7 medium size, local potatoes
  • 1 lb of local caught fish – if possible – otherwise store-bought will do
  • Your favorite seasoning – I used one called Israeli spice
  • Olive Oil – other oils like coconut can work too

Chop up potatoes into chunks and put in 9X13 dish. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle seasoning to your taste. Cook for 50 – 60 minutes @ 400 degrees, give or take a few minutes for the kind of potato. We used Idaho (where we live) Yukon Gold and they take longer to cook than some other varieties.

Take dish out of oven, add fish on top, drizzle with more oil and sprinkle with more seasoning. Cook another 8 to 15 minutes, depending on the type and thickness of the fish. We used store-bought salmon here. Haven’t had time for fishing this year:-o

Serve with a mixed green salad and favorite healthy dressing.

Here are some great cookbooks for simple, healthy, and cheap eating.