Tag Archives: recommendations

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.



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 $$. 

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:


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.


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.


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 $$. 

Meal Plan 5/1 – 5/7

This month I’m trying something new.  I am trying to make more of my “cheap” meals right form the get-go.

I love to cook, and try new things, but sometimes this gets the best of me (and my budget) when creating that meal plan for the first full week of a month.  In other words… I hate that I’ve used up most of my budget so early and then have the STRETCH later.  So, I’m trying to STRETCH now, so maybe buying some funky ingredients later, or treating the girls to a not-so-cheap-but-healthier-than-conventional snack later in the month.

Also, check out the links – some of them are mine, many are links to recipes for other bloggers.  You should know that NOTHING I have planned for this week is new, I have made it ALL before and enjoyed it enough to do it again.

Breakfast: cinnamon toast, bacon, applesauce
Lunch: ham sandwiches with this grain-free wrap
Dinner: ravioli (except for me!), chicken thighs cooked in red sauce
Packed for Daughter’s lunch tomorrow: peanut butter jelly sandwich, strawberries, cucumber, slices of cheese

Breakfast: leftover oatmeal (for family), greek omelette (eggs, spinach, oregano, feta), pineapple + beet + carrot juice
Lunch: quesadillas made with this this grain-free wrap, side salads with bacon
Dinner: homemade pizzas (GF crusts)
Snacks, Other: soak flour for biscuits tomorrow morning,
Packed for Daughter’s lunch tomorrow: leftover pizza, fresh fruit, yogurt, carrots

Breakfast: homemade biscuits, fried eggs, fresh fruit of choice
Lunch: salads with broiled chicken breasts
Dinner:  sloppy joes, sweet potatoes, green beans
Snacks, Other: make this apple spice bread
Packed for Daughter’s lunch tomorrow: leftover quesadillas, apples and carrots + PB

Breakfast:  leftover apple spice bread, bacon, almonds
Lunch:  leftover sloppy joes, cucumbers
Dinner:  scrambled eggs, apple slices (we have a busy night!), popcorn for snacking
Packed for Daughter’s lunch tomorrow: homemade lunchable, cucumbers, pears

Breakfast:  leftover waffles, scrambled eggs, fruit
Lunch: salads – probably this cobb salad
Dinner: chicken thighs cooked in red sauce with zucchini, pasta for those inclined :) (soak kidney beans for cooking tomorrow)
Packed for Daughter’s lunch tomorrow: leftover pasta, fresh fruit, yogurt

Breakfast:  start cooking kidney beans, leftover biscuits (biscuit egg sandwiches), mangos
Lunch:   leftovers – clean out the fridge :)
Dinner: beer braised beef (over potatoes for those who want it), broccoli, macaroni cheese
Snacks, Other: soak flour for bread tomorrow

Breakfast: pumpkin spice oatmeal, bacon (Extra for tomorrow morning), fresh fruit
Lunch:  fresh bread, cucumbers, fresh fruit, hardboiled eggs
Dinner: rice + beans (cajun style), tilapia, roasted carrots

Shopping at Aldi’s

If you’re in the real-food-blogosphere much, you’re starting to hear an increase in chatter related to Aldi’s plans to clean up their food offerings.Shopping at Aldi's - Foodies Gone Real

And let me say it right off… this is not a sponsored post.  I’m just writing this from an honest perspective as an encouraged consumer.

For those of you unfamiliar with Aldi’s, it’s a great budget-friendly grocery store.  They are significantly cheaper on many fronts (Wal-Mart, some stuff from big-box stores, etc.).  How do they get away with this? Little things… they aren’t open in the middle of the night, so costs for staffing are lower. You use a quarter to get your cart, meaning no employee has to spend time out in the parking lot gathering up carts. There are no bags – so you can either buy a few at the checkout counter or – my personal favorite – bring reusable bags that are EVERYWHERE these days.  They also very rarely offer brand name items.  Most of their stock is “off brand” or Aldi’s brand.  Those are my observations on how the store does it, but I’m sure there’s probably more to the story.

But I’m here to tell you why I really, really love this store.

Shopping at Aldi's - Foodies Gone Real

The first thing Aldi’s did recently – aside from offering organic and/or “cleaner” foods (they also have a great amount of gluten-free items MUCH cheaper, for those concerned) – was promise to cut out all synthetic dyes, MSG, and partially hydrogenated oils by 2016 (their press release here).  And they DID IT.  So, granted… a fruity sugar cereal is still not really healthy, at least the cut the red dye #40.  This is a big deal for some families… there are loads, and loads of kids that react terribly to these dyes (most cases I’ve heard of – anecdotally, of course – is related to hyperactive, bizarre and/or uncontrollable kids).  Maybe potato chips aren’t the best choice, but at least they cut out partially-hydrogenated oils.  Everyone seems to agree these are bad, bad, bad.  And don’t get me started on MSG! I’m not kidding you… some believe it tricks your brain like a drug, causing more cravings! (Read more on it here.)

And here’s what gets me really excited…

The issue with the previous paragraph is that the ingredients cut are typically in processed foods.  I’m not a big fan on processed foods, because, frankly, it’s still junk.  (There’s no nutritional benefit to canola oil, folks!)

They are now promising to expand their “Never Any!” line (these are meats that conventionally have synthetic nitrites/nitrates added… i.e., carcinogen. Like a really bad one.  Folks, we’ve known since 1994 these are bad, bad, bad! News link here).  Also, their natural lines and organic sections are expanding!  You can read more about this report here.

I save SERIOUS money at this store.

Bigger than my own personal economics is this important fact: you tell the world what you value with how you spend your money.  Choosing to put your dollars into a store or system that is most beneficial to you speaks VOLUMES.  Aldi’s has HEARD.

So back to some more practical advice: what I recommend shopping for at Aldi’s.  I haven’t tried everything, and obviously the economic benefit of choosing Aldi’s over other grocers will vary by location (i.e., I’m sure prices differ in certain places, so you might be able to find better deals elsewhere).

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Organic Salsa
  • Oven-roasted almonds
  • Gluten-Free pretzels (for splurging. I’m still not a fan of every ingredient)
  • Applesauce
  • Fruit cups packed in 100% fruit juice
  • Dried fruit (but read the ingredient list!)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Almond Butter
  • Some cereals (I don’t go crazy here. I’d still prefer to buy cleaner ones from a bigger grocery store)
  • Organic Ketchup
  • Mustards
  • Never Any! Bacon
  • Never Any! Breakfast Sausage
  • Never Any! Hot dogs
  • Organic baby spinach, baby kale, spring lettuce mix
  • Organic baby carrots
  • Organic bananas
  • Organic oranges
  • Organic apples
  • Organic cherry tomatoes
  • Coconut oil
  • Fruit juices, as needed
  • Organic canned tomato products
  • Other produce (we do not eat organic all the time, but most of the time Aldi’s has best prices!)
  • Gluten-Free Bread
  • Sprouted Bread
  • Rice
  • Dried Beans
  • Cheese blocks
  • Never Any! Lunchmeats
  • Grass-fed ground beef
  • Free-range chicken
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Organic pasta
  • Gluten-Free Macaroni & Cheese
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Frozen blueberries (frozen strawberries are hit or miss)


Shopping at Aldi's - Foodies Gone Real

Cheapest grass-fed ground beef!


This is only the list of things that I find with regularity.  There are lots and LOTS of things they pull out for seasonal items (and/or, I just wonder if they’re trying out new products) that I can’t find and wouldn’t necessarily want to recommend you try to go hunt them in your local store… because I just don’t think you’ll find them.

My last disclaimer is that sometimes Aldi’s runs out of these things.  And they may not reappear for a week or so.  Honestly, when I find something that saves me huge money (like sprouted bread), I buy it up and freeze what I can.  Every Aldi’s is different, so if you’re new to shopping there, it might take a few weekly trips to figure it out.

Do you shop at Aldi’s?  What are your favorite finds?

*All images used with permission from Aldi’s within their media usage terms.

Sarah’s Musings – 6/15/15

I am so excited to recap what I saw this week!  I either tried or reposted SO MANY GOOD RECIPES!

A few other notes – not recipe related – is my post on God’s Great Mercy.  You should read it and be thankful! Oh … and a few other articles by others such as fat is not the enemy (courtesy of Time Magazine, no less!) and the most common mistakes parents make with feeding their kids.  And please check out this article that guides you into healthier (and cheaper) options than pre-packaged stuff at the supermarket.

Now, onwards!

  • Roasted tomatoes with mozzarella … yes, it really is like a pizza party in your mouth.  You won’t regret it.
  • Basil Thyme Dressing from Real Food Outlaws… I can’t wait to make this! I have oodles and oodles of fresh herbs to use up.
  • Berry Crisp … I changed this one up a tiny bit.  I used sprouted flour and substituted rhubarb for the cherries.  I also used a combination of rapadura sugar/maple syrup for the sweetener.  I just wanted to clean it up a bit.  I made it this morning and taste-tested it… and it is GOOD.
  • Three Asian dishes were made this week:  fried rice, cabbage stir-fry (just sub in more onions if you can’t find the garlic scapes!) and Korean Beef from The Elliott Homestead.  All of which are cheap per serving and super delicious.
  • My youngest figured out that she DOES, in fact, like this Ranch Dip from 100 Days of Real Food.  This Momma rejoices as I know it is the gateway to getting her to enjoy all vegetables (and not just carrots!).
  • Want a food-heaven experience?  Combine this soaked granola from Weed ‘Em And Reap and my chocolate chunks.  Maybe a few walnuts in for good measure.  You’re welcome. :)
  • We made my chicken alfredo this week.  Never ceases to please!
  • Lastly … and certainly, not least, I went to Trader Joe’s this weekend to pick up more coconut cream so I can make healthy fudgcicles.  Yes, you read that right.  Check out the recipe here.

Hope you all have a great week!  Feel free to comment what you liked and didn’t… and share any other great finds!

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