Beast Burger

It’s a beast because it performs consistently well and WOWs.

Now, sure… you can buy the pre-made patties, throw them on the grill this weekend and call it a day.  I’m not beyond convenience.

But for an extra 2-5 minutes (no really, that’s it!) you can take burgers to a melt-in-your-mouth level.  Not to mention it’s almost always cheaper to buy ground beef as ground beef than a pre-made patty.  (Regardless if you’re buying it from the farmer or the store!)

Here’s my story: my children have been resistant to trying burgers (again).  We deal with some legitimate texture aversion so I haven’t pushed it.  The last time I asked my kids to try it, I got a “thank-you” bite out of it, but that was it.  You should know it was plain ole hamburger.  I didn’t make those burgers.

I made these burgers – with these few minor extra steps as detailed below – my texture-averted kid actually asked for a SECOND.  It’s a huge deal for her, because I know she’s not a big fan of the ground meat texture.  This tells me the flavor was ON POINT.

You see my thoughts?

Without further ado, here’s how you do it:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1tbl Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tbl dried minced onion
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Beast Burgers - Foodies Gone Real

Dump all ingredients in bowl and mix well.  Y’all, hands work best.

Beast Burgers - Foodies Gone Real

Work into patties.  Personally, I usually make 1 pound into about five burgers. You could easily make it into quarter-pounders if you preferred. Also… note how easy this would be to double or triple to suite the size and needs of your family or feast!

Note that the burgers do not have to be perfect. This is not about perfect looking burgers. This is about perfect tasting burgers.

Beast Burgers - Foodies Gone Real

Grill to your preferred doneness.

Enjoy that beast burger.

Beast Burgers - Foodies Gone Real

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Favorite Ways to Save Kitchen Bucks

So there are really only a handful of ways you can make real food work in a kitchen:

  1. Save money by making a lot of it from scratch, but it will cost you time
  2. Save time by buying real-food shortcuts, but it will cost you money
  3. Somewhere in-between the first two options, using both as you can (this is me, although I tend towards option #1)

I recognize this can feel daunting. And as someone who’s been at this for Y-E-A-R-S there are seasons in life – due to schedules, motivation, health, etc… that sometimes, this real-food-thing doesn’t seem possible, effective, profitable.

I am not above vacillating. We’ll go backwards. I’ll allow just enough cheats and junk in the house… and y’all, we FEEL it. Colds we can’t kick. Digestive issues that are awful. And of course, hormonal imbalances and weight gain. So while I, just like the rest of this planet, falls into it… I’m here to say a) give yourself some grace and forgiveness (and let’s not forget this is not about rules, y’all! So when there’s freedom from rules…) and b) encourage you and give you a few tools in the toolbelt.

Because sometimes, this wavering is because of money and schedules and not just laziness. (Disclaimer: sometimes mine is just laziness, so no judgment here.) You’re not sure how you can get this done and it just feels better to cheat. And cheat frequently. There are some basic skills that I feel keep me away from full-out junk diets AND still save money and don’t cost an exorbitant amount of time.

So…. If you’re wanting some easy ways to cut your costs in your kitchen and still get nutritious food in, here’s some suggestions….

Easiest ways (assuming you own a VERY basic slow cooker):

Cook your own beans. Buy them dried, and let them soak/cook in a slow cooker. After they’ve cooked and cooled, I freeze them in tupperware to thaw as needed.  I recommend this method as shared by fellow blogger and as I discussed in my recipe for Cajun beans ‘n’ rice.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

Oatmeal. Soak it and then cook in your slow cooker.  I detail my method over in my recipe for Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal… I wrote up how to do it for plain oatmeal, and then tacked on how I made it with pumpkin (which is really just added flavor at the end).  I usually make a huge batch, then once it’s cooled, keep in the refrigerator to reheat throughout the week. It’s super cheap and easy, filling food in the mornings. I don’t do pumpkin all the time (maybe only a 1/10th of a time?). Mostly, it’s just cinnamon + sweetener because that’s cheapest and easiest.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

Make your own broth. Of all my slow cooker methods, this is my favorite. Because most people just throw away chicken skin and bones and vegetable peelings… and this is using something you would ordinarily throw out! It’s like better than free! Haha. Shaye at The Elliott Homestead explains it best! I use this method ALL the time. I haven’t bought broth in probably over five years.

Make granola. Okay, so this obviously does not require a slow cooker, but an oven at minimum.  It’s easiest, though with a dehydrator (but please, oh please, don’t let that deter you!).  Method and recipe can be found here.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

If you have more time and/or right tools:

Make bread. I used to do this EVERY week. I now do this not out of obligation but for fun, and we buy our bread. This is a prime example of choosing to spend more money on something so that’s healthy so I don’t have to spend my time on it.  There’s loads and loads of great recipes out there, but due to my own gut/dietary needs, I rely heavily on Jovial Foods Einkorn Cookbook (check it out here… I raved about it in this post… and I still can’t say enough about it.)  It can be SUCH a rewarding experience, and there’s no taste or texture comparable purchased in the store.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

Make yogurt. This feels like a science experiment or chemistry lab every time.  It’s a pretty fascinating experience learning about how bacteria grows (or doesn’t).  I learned a great deal from The Prairie Homestead here.  I use a dehydrator, now, for this – but you can do without it. It does take some time and patience… BUT WILL SAVE YOU GOBS.

Make your own bars. Granola, larabars, fruit-n-nut, etc. I will confess I’m still learning this… in that I haven’t done as many.  Granted, it’s still cheaper to buy generic store brand granola bars… but don’t look at the ingredient list if you do. If you do, and want a cleaner option… then you’ll likely end up with an option that is closer to $1 (if not over) each.  I’ve collected quite a few recipes at my pinterest board here.  My current favorite are these blueberry bliss bars.  YUMMO.

Make waffles. This is no surprise to you, right? I’ve raved about waffles and the Einkorn recipe posted here is a top sought post. It obviously requires a waffle iron (special tool)… but you can get them inexpensively.  I usually double (sometimes triple!) the recipe and freeze 7-10 in bags so I can pull them out as needed, akin to the waffles you can buy at the store. I promise… THIS SAVES MONEY. Serious money.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

There are other options, too, for overall savings.

Overall stewardship of resources can make money spent in the kitchen possible, too.  (More info on that concept here.)  Here’s some other ways I save money:

Swagbucks. I earn swagbucks points on Swagbucks that converts into gift cards, which in turn gets used mostly for Christmas shopping.  Check it out here. I combine those gift cards with Black Friday savings (and other deals around that time of year) and make out like a bandit. No joke. With swagbucks and deal-hunting, the net worth of those gifts is often quadruple the amount of money I actually spent. I do not lie, I can show you the spreadsheets for proof! :)

Cleaning Supplies. I buy very, very little cleaning supplies. I have managed this between baking soda, vinegar, and Norwex.  Norwex products are mostly cloth-based and you combine them with water, clean whatever it is that needs it… and done. Yes, that simple. You wash the cloth and do it all over again. I use Norwex for dusting, wood, glass, toilet bowl, make-up removing, floors, just to name a few. Those are all areas of my home I’m not longer spending money on products that get consumed and I have to repurchase.  This isn’t even touching on the issue that there’s no chemicals and you don’t have to worry about toxicity.  Check out Norwex here.

Laundry Detergent.  I make my own … recipe forthcoming.  It’s a basic combination of washing soda, borax, dye-free oxiclean, bar soap (that’s been shredded).  There are loads of other options online.  I still buy some detergent, too… because we only have so much time. Sometimes, I need to buy it because I just don’t have time to make it and I’m running low.  However, it’s much cheaper to make it than buy a clean/green detergent… so it’s back to that basic choice of money versus time.

Reusable Bags for Snacks & Sandwiches.  I love, love, love these things.  They save money on the plastic bags, I’m no longer buying a consumable. I’m not contributing to the plastic-consumer-driven economy, either. They wash well with dishsoap.

 

So….

What do you do? How do you balance your time and money?

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISCLOSURE: There may be affiliate links within this post. I never recommend anything arbitrarily and receive small financial benefit. If I choose to recommend something, it’s of my own free will and volition and MORE because I think you’ll benefit from hearing about it more than me gaining the $$. 

The title.

So as this blog evolves, it’s much more than a foodie sharing how she eats, or saves money on what she eats, or the grace on how she eats.

It’s turned into a breathing blog, where I ramble about disease and suffering, ticks and farm stuff. So I’m not sure… is it fair to still be called, “Foodies Gone Real”?

As I begin the ground work to make this a fully functioning website, what are your thoughts? Weigh in! Vote on the poll, comment here on the post or comment on the blog.

And by all means… if you have an idea… pass it on!

Cinnamon Granola a.k.a. Best Granola of Your Life

We love cereal in this house.

Cinnamon Granola - Foodies Gone Real

But I am faced… EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN’ MONTH making the same choices everyone else makes: spend less on food and eat ingredients that aren’t as beneficial, or spend more on food and sacrifice something else.  Sometimes, I don’t have a choice. Medical bills from ongoing issues (story here), car repairs you don’t expect, the vacuum cleaner breaks. You know, life. And then it means we have to eat cheap because if I don’t have the money, I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY.

And you all know what I’m talkin’ about.

Now, I have my methods around this. First off, Aldi’s, y’all. ALDI’S. This store saves me. In the perfect world I would be a perfect locavore. But… when it feels like everything breaks in your home at the same time and the family still has to eat… Aldi’s. I’ve told you all before how this store makes up for my imperfect life.

So back to my cereal… the ingredient lists are mostly disheartening.  And if the ingredient list is not disheartening, then the price tag is… I can guarantee it. Do I sacrifice ingredients or my money?

My work around: granola.

Oats are CHEAP. I throw in nuts when I have them (a.k.a. can afford them) but you can easily sub in more oats instead. Run out of milk already? Sub in more water. I use coconut oil (back to finding something awesome at Aldi’s!) but you can put in whatever oil/butter you have on hand.  You can make this what you want and as expensive OR cheap as you desire.

Cinnamon Granola - Foodies Gone Real

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 Cups of Rolled Oats
  • 1 Cup of Slivered Almonds
  • 1/2 Cup of Melted Coconut Oil
  • 4 Cups of Warm Water (just not ice cold…. does funky stuff to that oil)
  • 1 Tbl Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Cup of Whole Milk
  • 1.5 Cups of Sweetener of Choice
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbl Cinnamon (or Pumpkin Pie Spice is great, too!)
  • Good Dash of Salt

TOOLS:

  • Large Bowl for Mix, one that you can seal up for several hours (cling wrap is fine)
  • Dehydrator OR You can use the oven (see instructions further down on this)

DIRECTIONS:

Okay, so are you ready for this: MIX ALL THE INGREDIENTS THOROUGHLY.  Let it sit on your counter at room temperature for about 7-8 hours. (You can let it sit for longer if you need to!)

YES.

You read that right.  That’s all you gotta do before the cooking.

I recommend covering it… but really just to ward of bugs and hands who want to taste it early.

Cinnamon Granola - Foodies Gone Real

Now onto the cooking part:  You’ll need to cook this one of two ways:  either a dehydrator on its highest setting or an oven.   I’ve made it both ways, my preference is a dehydrator.  I own this dehydrator and L-O-V-E it.  You can buy it new, you can also buy it used. I mean… I am talking about saving money here. I asked for one for Christmas a few years ago and my dear, sweet husband who knows his wife’s heart found a used one, in good condition, on ebay.  You do what you gotta do.

1) You can leave it in a dehydrator for days and it won’t go bad.  Don’t have time to deal with it right then? It’s fine.  Leave it (you’ll just keep using electricity).
2) It doesn’t burn.
3) No stirring required or watching.
4) It takes about 6 hours at the highest temperature on the dehydrator.

If you use an oven, preheat to 350* and spread it as thin as you can across at least two cookie sheets. You have to watch it, take it out and stir frequently. (And taste frequently!) This method will work, it’s just more time intensive.  You can’t put it in and walk away like you can with the dehydrator… you need to stir it about every 15 minutes until it’s just starting to crunch when you taste-test it.  In my experience this can take an about an hour, but will depend on how thin you spread your granola across baking sheets.

You can store your in an airtight container… for a couple of weeks.

Here’s how I usually do it: I start the granola in the morning sometime.  In the evening, I put it on the dehydrator.  The next morning… viola. Breakfast ready.

No yucky ingredients.  I mean, you know exactly what’s in it.  You’ve got around 12 cups of crunchy goodness for breakfast. Depending on appetites and family size, this can carry you for quite some time!

We eat it like cereal… but is great with the traditional yogurt, too. Enjoy your money-saving treat as we do.  My girls say it’s the best granola of their life.

Cinnamon Granola - Foodies Gone Real

 

 

 

 

DISCLOSURE: There may be affiliate links within this post. I never recommend anything arbitrarily and receive small financial benefit. If I choose to recommend something, it’s of my own free will and volition and MORE because I think you’ll benefit from hearing about it more than me gaining the $$. 

Cookbooks & Recipes

So I realized that in a pinch, I know where to go.

  • What book do I go to when I want to know how the French did it?
  • Where do I go when I want some background research on ingredients – both in food and in other household products?
  • What book do I go to when it’s the end of the budget and the bottom of the freezer and I’m just not sure how I can pull this together for two more dinners?
  • What book do I go to when I want a modern explanation and pictures on how to do a reaaaally technical feat?
  • Where do I go when I need something new or a cleaned-up version of a classic recipe that’s typically full of junk?

The answers to these questions are how I know to cook. It’s because I spent time – hours (probably months) of my life pouring over these books.

So! If you’re wanting a new cookbook, or wanting to know where I go on the web for fresh inspiration, how where I learned… viola:

COOKBOOKS:

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, & Julia Child. This is the Piece de Triumph. The place where culinary masterpieces were finally described for normal American women. I could write a whole other blog post devoted to entirely to what Julia Child did to the realm of gastronomy, but this brief paragraph will do for now. You should follow this up by reading her memoir, My Life in France and watching Julie and Julia.

What To Cook - Foodies Gone Real

Julia Child gets her own picture in this post, y’all.

From Scratch, by Shay Elliott.  This is the BEST cookbook I’ve ever encountered for cooking real food on the cheap.  The ingredients are not complicated or expensive.   You may also want to check out her blog at The Elliott Homestead.  This is my book for end of the month.

Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, by Martha Stewart.  An excellent technical resource on how to perform basic culinary feats. It couples well with Julia Child’s books, but I feel it’s a little more practical and definitely more modern.  I love that it really is a resource manual and could be read even as a textbook.  This was the first real “manual” cookbook I received and I tried to soak it up like a sponge.

Animal Vegetable Miracle: A Year in Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver.  The best description on what it means to eat seasonally… but bigger than that, how we are connected to it. It’s beautiful.  She puts things in proper order if you’re concerned about seasonal eating, and also lots of tidbits on raising your own food.

Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat, by Carla Bartolucci.  It should not surprise you that this is here… if you follow over on instagram, you know how much I love, love, love this cookbook.  This is the cookbook that revolutionized my baking. If you’re wanting to clean up your bread, get back to your roots or interested in eating heirloom wheat, you must check this out. It’s a phenomenal book for a phenomenal food.

BLOGS/WEBSITES:

Mommypotamus:  Heather, writer and Mommy of this blog has done (and continues to do!) an immense amount of research.  She not only gives recipes for food that’s allergen friendly (issues with dairy, gluten, etc.) but she also has homemade solutions for LOADS of stuff.  My inspiration for homemade cleaning stuff comes primarily from her.

The Elliott Homestead:  I referenced Shaye above and her cookbook, but there’s loads here, too. (She has other recipes and cookbooks!)  She’s very end-of-month and end-of-budget friendly that FEELS like a feast.  Still with a farm flair.

Weed Em and Reap: Danelle’s site is akin to – but different, still – thank Shaye at The Elliott Homestead.  There’s farm stuff there, of course, but there are home remedies and recipes galore.  Danelle taught me gobs and gobs about wheat. No really… go look it up.

Jovial Foods:  If you don’t want to go all out on the Einkorn cookbook (you should if your body can tolerate, it, though!) OR if you really just MUST be gluten-free, check out their website. This is excellent einkorn AND gluten-free dishes that focus primarily on bread-ish products. Breads, pastas, baked goods. I’ve yet to try one of their recipes that flopped.  They know their stuff because they also make their stuff.

Don’t Waste the Crumbs:  This site also has great recipes, but overall great money-saving tips.  The site is not gluten-free or traditional diet (necessarily) but it’s primarily whole foods and from scratch.  Her focus is big on stewardship (one of my favorite, favorite, words! My rant here.).

The Domestic Man: Russ creates masterpieces.  They are always gluten-free which is wonderful for me.  (And not JUST gluten-free, but healthy. Those two words are not always synonymous.)  But they are… fantastic. Phenomenal. Restaurant-grade. For someone with finicky needs, this website scratches the itch when you just want take-out, and you want it bad enough to buy the ingredients and learn to do it yourself.  They often have international flair, too.  For someone who grew up all over the world and has a pretty wide palette… it just works. I can’t recommend this one enough when you REALLY want to wow or take it up a notch.

THESE ARE REALLY JUST MY TOP….

But there are loads out there? What are your favorite cookbooks? Bloggers? Link it up! We’re all better for the sharing!

What To Cook - Foodies Gone Real

 

 

 

 

 

DISCLOSURE: There may be affiliate links within this post. I never recommend anything arbitrarily and receive small financial benefit. If I choose to recommend something, it’s of my own free will and volition and MORE because I think you’ll benefit from hearing about it more than me gaining the $$. 

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