Tag Archives: clean food

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 $$. 

Sarah’s Chicken Cordon Bleu

You ever just crave something that you know is crazy bad for you, but you just HAVE to scratch the itch?

Yeah, me too.

Terribly.

So I created this mainly because I like those cheap, breaded, pretty-bad-for-you chicken cordon bleu frozen dinners.  And, while I could go buy some and use it as a “cheat” meal, I’m pretty sure I would just continue this bad habit and have more cheat meals than is healthy.  (This is not for everyone… I just know myself well enough.  I usually save cheat meals for special occasions, going over to someone else’s house for dinner, going out to eat, traveling, etc.)

Your chicken breasts will look something like this:  Chicken Cordon Bleu - Foodies Gone Real

I knew I was doing this a little bit different than the conventional cordon bleu recipe … I was putting the cheese on the OUTSIDE instead of in the chicken breast.  So, in order to defend the “original” way of making this dish, I titled it with my own name, just so we understand the difference… however, as it turns out, it seems to be up for debate what chicken cordon bleu “originally” was!

The recipe appeared in U.S. newspapers in the 1960s, and there’s quite a bit of indication that it didn’t even originate in France, but America, as its attempt to mimic popular French dishes that incorporate stuffing one meat with another filling.  (Another great example of Americanizing food?  Look at many popular pizza or Italian restaurant choices, then go visit Italy.)  And, contrary to any sort of “word” connection, there is no origination of this recipe from something at the famous Cordon Bleu cooking schools in France (if you’re up on your food history/gastronomy).

So, as it turns out, I can pretty much make this dish WHATEVER I want because I’m not really dishonoring some great classic piece!

To get this dish started properly, you’ll need to read up on my instructions on stuffing a chicken breast.  You can find the instructions here.  If you have another (or better!) method for stuffing a chicken breast, knock yourself out.  You do not have to use my method of stuffing for this dish to work!

Last note… I recommend that one chicken breast serves two people.  The logic is two-fold:

A) You’re getting more meat in as it’s a LARGE breast, and you’re stuffing it with ham

B) Americans tend to over-do the meat thing.  One serving of meat is the size of your fist.  (Men need a little bit more than women, due to nutritional requirements.)  I don’t have the source for this information, just recalling it off the top of my head.  I did a quick google search on the topic, though, and you can find scores of sources saying the same thing. (Point B.1.: Quality meat is also incredibly expensive.  So we hold very true to one serving of meat per meal as to keep our grocery costs down.)

So needless to say, this is instructions for one breast, serving two people.

INGREDIENTS:

For the meat:

Large, plump chicken breasts

Precooked ham – one ounce per chicken breast is usually enough

Almond Meal/Sprouted Flour (either will work) – you’ll need about 1/4 cup for one breast

For the sauce:

1.5 cups of shredded cheese, I recommend super-sharp cheddar

1 cup milk

1/4 tsp. prepared spicy mustard

Sprinkle of pepper

Sprinkle of nutmeg

2 tsp Sprouted flour, rice flour, tapioca/arrowroot (you’re using it as a thickener)

1 tbl Butter (preferably grass-fed for optimal nutrition)

dash of parsley

TOOLS:

Sharp Knife

Toothpicks

Plastic Wrap

Dredging dish

Oven-safe dish for roasting breasts

Small pan for making sauce

whisk

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the over to 425*.

Go over to this page and follow the instructions for how to cut and stuff.  You are going to stuff it with all that cooked ham (as pictured in the other post).

Chicken Cordon Bleu - Foodies Gone Real

You’re going to want to bread it – so now is when you’ll throw your almond meal or sprouted flour in your dish for dredging.  Very carefully roll the stuffed chicken breasts in your meal/flour.

Chicken Cordon Bleu - Foodies Gone Real

Once it’s thoroughly covered, move “breaded” stuffed breast to your tray for baking.

If you’re making more than one stuffed chicken breast, repeat the process.

Once all your chicken breasts are stuffed and breaded, cover your dish and place in the oven for 15 minutes at 425*.

While this is cooking, shred up your sharp cheddar cheese.

After the first “set” of 15 minutes, you’ll want to turn the breasts over, uncover, and put in the oven for another 15 minutes.

Now you can start working on your cheese sauce! (And let’s be real… this is what we’re really want!)

Warm your milk to almost boiling.  Once it’s almost boiling, turn the heat down as low as it will go.  Whisk your mustard, pepper, nutmeg, and sprouted flour/arrowroot/tapioca/rice flour.  Make sure there are no lumps!

Slowly stir in your shredded cheese.  Keep stirring.

Stir some more.  You’ll see that your ingredients are combining well (keep that heat on low!) and when you bring your spoon up, it’ll be like a really thick sauce, not too stringy.  If you notice it’s starting to become “stringy,” go ahead and turn the heat off.  Just remember to stir it every so often.

About this time, it’ll be time to take those chicken breasts out of the oven!

Your chicken breasts will look something like this:

Chicken Cordon Bleu - Foodies Gone Real

Stir your cheese sauce some more.

Carefully take the toothpicks out just as soon as you can bear touching the chicken.

Plate your chicken and smother those chickens with your cheese sauce. Top with a dash of dried parsley.

Your chicken breasts will look something like this:  Chicken Cordon Bleu - Foodies Gone Real

And now, you can go guzzle.  Enjoy that cheesy chicken cordon bleu!

Sources:

Cordon Bleu (dish), http://www.en.wikipedia.org

History of Chicken Cordon Bleu, http://www.ehow.com

The Chicken Dance and Wings

The moment I start talking about chickens, my girls are breaking out to their own version of the chicken dance (which is some combination of “chicka-chicka-brawk-brawk” and whatever funky chicken dance moves they imagine).  I think I sort of created this animal by introducing them to the polka chicken dance. (what do you want?! I’m from Texan-German descent! This is just what we do at weddings! I’m sorry!)

So I was mumbling under my breath about this recipe and of course now I’m surrounded by some pretty funky chickens.  ;-)

At any rate – this is what I REALLY wanted to write, in regards to chicken:

There are some foods that I admittedly really, really, really miss after cleaning up my diet.

Chicken wings weren’t one of them.

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These wings made me wonder why I’ve never been a “wings” fan. These are twice-coated BBQ wings, baked. (You can make them THREE times dipped! Instructions are below!) You could definitely fry them up (I’d highly recommend pastured tallow or lard) instead of baking, but I haven’t tried it (yet). If you do, please come back and let me know how it worked!

Someday, I’ll perfect a good, clean, nutrient-dense pizza, and make these wings, and have a guilt-free pizza and wings night. Until then – these shall do!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Chicken wings
  • Favorite BBQ sauce, separated
  • Coconut flour
  • Fat of choice (coconut oil, grass-fed butter, or pastured lard/tallow – in a liquid state)

*Note: I didn’t list any amounts.  This is because it’s largely an “eyeball” type of recipe, and is going to change depending on the consistency of your favorite BBQ sauce.

TOOLS:

  • Foil/parchment lined baking sheet
  • shallow dish for dredging (I use a plate that has a high rim! Tupperware, pie plate, casserole dish… anything will do!)
  • 2 bowls for BBQ sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Marinate your chicken wings for at least 30 minutes.  Feel free to do this overnight/all day (what I often do: start it marinating first thing in the morning, then come back to it when I’m ready to cook). Please note: you are going to need MORE BBQ sauce to coat the wings right before serving, so don’t use it all up on the marinating!

P1140894

Preheat your oven to 425*.

Coat your lined baking sheet with fat of choice.  These wings REALLY like to stick to the cooking sheet.

Remove the wings from the marinade, letting the excess drip off (don’t go crazy here, just do your best).

Dredge your marinated wings in the coconut flour. You may need to add more flour as coconut flour is quick to absorb into liquid.

P1140899

Pat some more coconut flour on the wings as needed – if it looks like the sauce has absorbed all the flour, go ahead and add more.

Spread these wings out on the cookie sheet – at least 1 inch apart.  Crowding makes it so that they won’t cook through/evenly.

P1140835

Now spoon some more sauce over these wings.

Cook for 20 minutes at 425*, turning halfway.  After you’ve flipped them at the halfway point, spoon more BBQ sauce on the other side of the wings.

P1140836

If you’re feeling really saucy, you can go for a THIRD coat after 20 minutes of cooking — let the wings cool slightly, then coat the wings in another batch of your favorite BBQ sauce.  I would suggest doing this one at a time, as the flour “likes” to come off the wings if you put them all in at the same time and then “stir” them up… this won’t work.  A good method is to use tongs to dip them back in, and pull them back out, gently. Repeat this process with all your wings.

BBQ Chicken Wings - Foodies Gone Real

(The picture above is WITHOUT the third coat of BBQ sauce.  I simply ran out.  But seriously, you can’t go wrong making these saucy!)

And serve! Viola! And, if you’re feeling so inclined, celebrate with a chicken dance. :)

A little bit of Italian and Alfredo

I am working Mom that L-O-V-E-S to cook. For me, it’s not a chore. In fact, I feel all out of sorts when I have to take a break (sick, weird work schedules, etc.) from my kitchen. It’s my little space of the house, and there is such a satisfaction I get from making, mostly from scratch, meals for my family. Not to mention, good-tasting food is SUCH a weakness! I would pick savory over sweet most days, and I am positively in love with flavor.

Cooking has been a love long before it was a necessity, but with my increasing health issues (and increasing weight!) I did a major overhaul of my eating habits. One of the biggest changes we instituted was over breads and bread-products. We are not definitively gluten-free, but we are pursuing bread options that are actually good for us versus empty calories. This might sound fine and good until you are introduced to a little bit of our food dynamic. Husband = 1⁄2 Italian = lots of pasta and bread = lots of changes and conversions to make. Combine this food culture, our commitment to purposeful eating, and my absolute adoration (or demand?) of good-tasting food … and I have my work cut-out for me!

That is why I am proud to share a recipe for gluten-free alfredo sauce, and I hope it helps your family, too!

Alfredo in the making!

More often than not, to make a sauce thicken, you need a flour. And if you’re trying to avoid white flour, this can sometimes be a challenge. This recipe’s success was a HUGE win for us! It has been a long time since we’ve been able to enjoy alfredo!

INGREDIENTS:

4 tbl butter

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1⁄4 c. rice flour

1 1⁄2 + c milk

1 tsp dried parsley

dash of onion powder

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Once butter is melted, add minced garlic.
  2. Stir minced garlic, and slowly cook garlic. Stir occasionally as it cooks. You want it to be fragrant and light brown, but not burnt!
  3. Turn heat off, and stir rice flour into butter/garlic mixture. (This is making a “roux”.) Stir until combined; it will look like a flour/butter mass – the mix will come together.
  4. With a whisk, stir in 1 1⁄2 cups of milk. Turn the heat back on medium-low. Continue to whisk until milk is well mixed, and use the whisk to break up any clumps.
  5. Bring mixture to a boil, and let it boil for 5 minutes. Keep stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan –  you don’t want to bottom to burn.
  6. Turn heat down to a low, and add parsley and salt. Let this simmer for about 15 minutes.
  7. As it simmers (and cools) it will thicken. Some people like alfredo sauce that’s very thick, some like it thin. You can slowly add milk, 1-2 tablespoons at a time until sauce is at a desired consistency.
  8. Mix in with desired stuff – I used about 1⁄2 pound of sprouted flour pasta (more on that someday!) and 1 grilled chicken breast, and 2 cups of broccoli.

Presto! Alfredo that's not too bad for you!

I hope this helps you on your journey to help your body with your food!

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