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Know Your Ingredients, Know Your Costs

Recent Recipes

$0.25 and 45 Minute Rice or Quinoa

$0.25 and 45 Minute Rice or Quinoa

Rice – the definition of a food I thought I should have known how to cook but didn’t. So I never made it. Because I was too afraid of being embarrassed by potentially screwing up a food that I thought everybody knows how to make. First of all, so not true – I’d argue most people struggle with rice – hence the microwave bag of rice industry. And this negative thought process used to apply to almost everything in the kitchen which led to a lot of rotisserie chicken with a microwaveable bag of rice meals. Sound familiar? For me, that was the go-to meal Year 1 out of college. It’s time to add rice to the growing list of your kitchen capabilities and trade up to $1.25 Crockpot Turmeric Shredded Chicken and $0.25 and 30 Minute Rice or Quinoa! Also, yes I know that rice and quinoa aren’t the same things – but lucky for you they can be cooked the exact same way! Two delicious, versatile recipes in one post! Lucky you!

$2.25 and 45 Minute Eggplant Curry

$2.25 and 45 Minute Eggplant Curry

Curry used to be one of those foods that intimidated me because I had no idea what it was! Let me break it down for you. It’s sautéed vegetables with coconut milk, cumin, turmeric, and coriander. Seriously that’s it. Even curry paste is optional to create your favorite curry but feel free to add it if you like spicy food! Once you have the base, you can mix in anything you want – like chickpeas and eggplant to create my favorite curry: $2.25 and 45 Minute Eggplant Curry. Your perfect curry is less than $3 and an hour away!

$0 Crockpot Vegetable Stock

$0 Crockpot Vegetable Stock

It’s true that not many things in life are free, but eating a diet full of delicious vegetables does give you access to free vegetable stock. Oh and I forget to mention, it will be hands down the most incredible vegetable stock you’ve ever tasted in your life (and therefore the best $2 and 40 Minute Vegetable Soup you’ve ever tasted!). Why? Because not only it is made from your favorite vegetables, it’s served with the good feeling of knowing you did something to combat food waste today.

Ingredients (~10 1-cup Servings):

  • Vegetable scraps from food prep that you used to throw in the trash
    • Celery leaves, carrot tops, onion and zucchini ends
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp of whole black peppercorns
  • Any other spices you want!

Tools:

  • Gallon-sized freezer bag
  • Crockpot
  • Soup spoon
  • ~8″ Fine mesh strainer (check out Apartment Chef Tools for recommendations)
  • Plastic storage containers

Instructions:

  1. Over time, fill up the gallon-sized bag with vegetable scraps. Store the bag in the freezer in between cooking sessions.
  2. Fill up your crockpot about 75% full with vegetable scraps, add bay leaves and peppercorns, then fill to the top with water.
  3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours.
  4. Push down on vegetables with the back of the spoon to extract all possible flavor.
  5. Discard large solids that can be easily and salt to taste.
  6. Pour remaining small vegetable scraps and broth through the fine mesh strainer into plastic containers. Discard all solids.
  7. Enjoy within a couple days or store in the freezer until needed!

Total touch time = 12 Minutes (2 minutes to prep, 10 minutes to store)

Vegetable Broth with Ingredients

Tips:

Step 2 – This is what my frozen vegetables look like before adding water and turning on the crockpot:

Frozen Vegetables in Crockpot

Step 4 – I’m serious, we’re getting the most out of these veggies.

Step 5 – I recommend storing the broth in roughly 2-cup increments so you don’t have to measure it once you’re ready to use it. You can just grab what you need and go.

Cost:

  • Vegetable scraps ~ negligible
  • 3-4 Bay leaves ~ negligible
  • 1 tsp of whole black peppercorns ~ negligible

Total Cost entire crockpot of vegetable stock ~ $0!

Conclusion:

At my grocery store, organic vegetable stock costs at least $2. On its own, this $2 savings does not seem like a lot but let’s say you make soup or rice and anything requiring vegetable broth 10 times per year. That’s $20 right there – that’s enough to purchase your own domain name on WordPress for more than 6 months! By making small tweaks to what you buy and how you shop, these small saving start to add up. A couple dollars here and there can easily add up to $50+ per month. That’s over $600 per year. I don’t know about you, but there are a couple trips I could definitely spend that money on! For more cost savings tips be sure to check out my Meal Prep Tips post!

As always, make informed food decisions. Know your ingredients, know your costs!

Time to get thinking about your next homemade soup!

Potato Cauliflower Soup

$1 and 30 Minutes Roasted Root Vegetables

$1 and 30 Minutes Roasted Root Vegetables

The purpose of this post is to free you from the belief that you need some expensive course or pre-packaged meal kit to learn how to cook! I’ll get right to it – for delicious roasted vegetables, all you need is some fresh vegetables, an oven and a little oil and salt. And 30 minutes. That’s it. You heard it here first – there is no one right, perfect way to roast vegetables. Because every vegetable is different. Everyone has different taste buds and people prefer different textures. Which is why cooking is awesome – it’s not about getting it right. It’s all about what works for you and the ingredients you have. What’s important is that with this template you start with some fresh root vegetables from the grocery store and 30 minutes later you have an undeniably healthy dinner or side dish!

$2 And 5 Minute Cup of Almond Butter

$2 And 5 Minute Cup of Almond Butter

Did you know making your own almond butter is as simple as buying almonds and owning a food processor? Seriously that’s it. No additional palm oils or preservatives required. Plus when you make a cup of your own for $2 in only 5 minutes, you can really make it your own. For me, that’s Honey Espresso or Chai flavored almond butter. Sound delicious? Trust me it is!

$1.50 and 40 Minute Black Bean Soup

$1.50 and 40 Minute Black Bean Soup

Looking for a meal that leaves you feeling powerful, refreshed and ready to take on anything? Then this recipe is for you! This recipe is an awesome combination of two recipes on my blog – $0.15 Overnight Crockpot Black Beans and $2 and 40 Minute Vegetable Soup. Both incredibly delicious on their own and combined they create something magical! With the cost savings and health benefits, you’ve got nothing to lose and a delicious meal prep go-to recipe to gain!

Ingredients (~8 Servings):

  • Full Recipe of Overnight Black Beans (2 cups of dried black beans)
  • 3 green plantains, chopped with outer skin left on – either fresh or frozen
  • 1 white or sweet onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 sweet potato, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 lb of yucca, chopped (optional)
  • 1 TBSP grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 TBSP cumin

Toppings:

  • Green onion, chopped
  • Plain yogurt
  • Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Anything else you can think of!

Tools:

  • Chefs Knife
  • Crockpot
  • Large pot
  • Immersion blender
  • Spoon or spatula for mixing

Instructions:

  1. Make overnight black beans recipe and set aside.
  2. Chop garlic and onions and set aside.
  3. Chop plantains, sweet potato, and/or yucca.
  4. Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot (~1TBSP) over medium-low heat (4 out of 10), add onion, garlic, salt, cumin and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions slightly brown and soften (~3 minutes).
  5. Add approximately 1/2 of the black beans along with any leftover water/bean juice to the large pot. Use the immersion blender to liquefy the black beans, onion, and garlic mixture.
  6. Add the remaining half of the black beans and chopped plantains, sweet potato, and/or yucca to the large pot and bring to a boil.
  7. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Once twenty minutes are up, crack and drop the eggs directly into the soup while it’s simmering. Allow 3 minutes for cooked whites and runny yolks (my favorite!) or 5 minutes to fully cook the yolks as well.
  9. Turn off the burner, scoop out some soup along with the eggs, add toppings while waiting ~5 minutes for the soup to cool, and enjoy!

Total time = 40 Minutes (10 minutes to prep, 30 minutes to cook)

Blue Bowl of Black Bean Soup

Tips:

Step 3 – Removing the skin from the green plantains is a pain! The process takes a couple minutes per plantain and you end up throwing out too much of the delicious fruit trying to remove the skin. Think about trying to remove the skin from an unripe versus a ripe banana – same principle, the peel wants to stick to the fruit!

If freezing plantains, chop them up before putting them in the freezer. This way you can just drop them right into the soup! I always have a couple frozen plantains in the freezer just in case!

Step 4 – Isn’t it interesting how so many recipes (Saag Paneer, Acorn Squash Bowls, etc.) involve this step: sauté garlic and onions with some mix of spices. Keep this in mind when doing your own recipe creating!

Step 5 – The immersion blender makes the soup thicker (aka heartier) while blending the flavors of the spices, onion, garlic, and beans together.

Step 8 – Eat any eggs you put in the soup, they won’t store well for left-overs! Eggs + microwave = no thank you. You can always bring the soup back up to a simmer and cook more eggs each time you want left-overs!

Step 9 – If you’re looking to get fancy with your toppings, invest in some inexpensive, plastic squirt bottles! They’re perfect for awesome yogurt decorations and storing vinegarettes!

Cost:

  • Full Recipe of Overnight Black Beans ~ $4.25
  • 3 green plantains ~ $1.50
  • 1 large white onion ~ $0.75
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped ~ $0.25
  • 3 eggs ~$1.50
  • 1 lb sweet potato ~ $1.00
  • 1 lb of yucca ~ $1.00
  • 1 TBSP grapeseed oil ~$0.10
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt – negligible
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper – negligible
  • 1 TBSP cumin ~ $0.40
  • Toppings – $1.00

Total Cost per serving ~ $12

Cost per serving (~8 servings) ~ $1.50

Conclusion:

Hope you enjoyed this recipe! There are so many awesome recipes out there and it’s always difficult to pick which ones to share with you. Regardless of the recipe, cooking your own meals is better for your health and your wallet. I hope this post leaves you feeling inspired to try out something new! Invest wisely in your health and financial future by giving this black bean soup a try as soon as possible!

As always, make informed food decisions. Know your ingredients, know your costs!

Yellow Bowl of Black Bean Soup

 

$2.50 And 60 Minute Acorn Squash Bowls

$2.50 And 60 Minute Acorn Squash Bowls

Did you know that you’re only $2.50 away from a seasonal dish that will bring you an incredible amount of joy? Well, you are! This recipe utilizes the entire acorn squash – all the way down to roasting the seeds! – and tops it all off with sautéd vegetables. Furthermore, you’ll be left with no dishes in the sink and a sense of accomplishment that can only come from making something yourself!

$0.50 And 90 Minute Zucchini Olive Oil Bread

$0.50 And 90 Minute Zucchini Olive Oil Bread

Looking to surprise your taste buds with a delicious and unique flavor combination? Then you have to make this $0.50 and 90 Minute Zucchini Olive Oil Bread. This savory bread is fully capable of standing on its own and gets even better when enjoyed with a glass of tea! As you dig into your second slice keep in mind that this bread only uses 100% whole wheat flour and has absolutely zero added sugar. Time to get excited about that third slice!

$0.50 and 40 Minute Granola

$0.50 and 40 Minute Granola

Granola is one of my favorite foods not only to make but also to share. This is my go-to granola recipe that contains only pure ingredients with no added processed sugar for the cost of $0.50 a serving. Make sure to scroll down and check out both the Chocolate Peppermint and Vanilla Honey versions!

Ingredients (~10 Servings):

Base:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats or quick oats (can replace 1:1 with unsweetened coconut to make gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup of raw nuts/seeds, roughly chopped (I prefer 1/3 cup of pecans, almonds, and sunflower seeds)
  • 1 TBSP of whole flaxseed
  • 3 TBSP of hot water
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Peppermint Chocolate Granola:

  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 2 TBSP of maple syrup
  • 2 TBSP of coconut oil
  • 1 tsp of peppermint extract
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

Vanilla Honey:

  • 2 TBSP raw local honey
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Tools:

  • Cutting board
  • Parchment Paper
  • Baking Tray
  • Small bowl
  • Two medium mixing bowls
  • Silicon or wooden spoon
  • Spatula

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325F.
  2. Line baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Make a flax egg by combining whole flax seeds with hot water in small bowl. Set aside for ~5 minutes so it will become soupy.
  4. Roughly chop nuts, add them to a medium-sized bowl, and mix in the remainder of the dry ingredients.
  5. Adding the flavoring:
    • Vanilla Honey Granola: Mix honey, vanilla, and flax egg in the other medium bowl then combine them with the dry ingredients.
    • Peppermint Chocolate Granola: Mix cocoa powder, maple syrup, coconut oil, peppermint, and vanilla extract in the other medium bowl until combined into a smooth mixture (same as for the $5 and 30 Minute Cardamom Raisin Squares recipe!). Mix flax egg and chocolate peppermint into the dry ingredients.
  6. Scoop the mixture onto the prepared baking tray and flatten with the back of the spoon.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, flip granola using the spatula, then bake for 15 more minutes.
  8. Let rest on the counter for 15 minutes to allow the clusters to solidify and enjoy!
  9. Store in a sealed container (plastic bag, mason jar, etc.). The granola will store in the pantry for at least a month.

Total time = 40 Minutes (10 minutes to prep, 30 minutes to cook)

 Chocolate Granola Bowl

Tips:

Ingredients: You also have the option to double or remove the flax eggs all together. If you double the flax seeds, your granola will have many more large clusters and it will have a stronger flax seed taste (think less sweet). If you remove the flax seeds, your granola will have fewer clusters and still taste incredible!

Step 1 – You may be thinking I’ll just crank the oven temperature up to 400F and cut my baking time in half… Not so fast! You don’t want to bake your granola at too high a temperature because the maple syrup will burn. I’ve seen recipes that range from 300F to 350F, so I picked the sweet spot right in the middle and it has worked out great.

Step 3 – Check out my $0.50 and 70 Whole Wheat Apple Banana Bread post for more on flax eggs!

Step 4 – Don’t those ingredients just look delicious! Note the size of the nuts, roughly chopping them helps large clusters form!

IMG_5823

Step 5 – For the Chocolate Peppermint Granola: The maple syrup/coconut oil/cocoa powder mixture should be smooth before you add it to the dry ingredients. Cold maple syrup and/or coconut oil can lead to clumps. If needed, you can put the mixture in the microwave. And if still not smooth after using the microwave, add 1/2 TBSP more of maple syrup. A smooth chocolate peppermint mixture will coat the dry ingredients evenly, while a clumpier mixture will result in small chocolate peppermint clumps throughout. If this happens, embrace it! Your granola will still be incredibly delicious because you’re using great ingredients!

Step 7 – Using a spatula to flip the granola allows you to keep your precious granola clusters intact!

Step 8 – You can leave the granola directly on the parchment paper and baking tray to cool.

Good luck waiting 15 minutes before you try any of it. I burn my tongue on pretty much every batch. However the more you let cool on the counter, the more clusters your granola will have.

Cost per Peppermint Chocolate Granola:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats ~ $0.25
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes ~ $0.50
  • 1 cup of raw nuts/seed ~ $2
  • 1 TBSP of whole flaxseed ~ $0.10
  • 3 TBSP of hot water – negligible
  • 1/8 tsp salt ~ negligible
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder ~$0.25
  • 2 TBSP of maple syrup ~ $0.50
  • 2 TBSP of coconut oil ~ $0.50
  • 1 tsp of peppermint extract ~$0.50
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract ~ $0.25

Total Cost per batch ~ $5

Cost per serving (~10 servings) ~ $0.50

Conclusion:

Granola is a cost and health issue for me.

  1. How is granola so flipping expensive? It’s basic pantry ingredients (nuts, seeds, oats, etc.) with a little sugar, baked in the oven for a half an hour. Yet it’s impossible to find a bag for less than $10! I cannot figure out what ingredients or cooking technique justifies the cost!
  2. Most granola I find appears to look healthy from the outside of the bag – I mean it’s got nuts and seeds and whole grains, how could it not be. But then you look at the ingredients. Number one, usually oats. That’s fine. Number two, brown sugar. Uh oh. Number three, brown rice syrup. Ahhhhh, make it stop! So much for granola being the healthy choice.

That’s why I put this recipe together. Granola should be as good for you as it tastes and shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg to enjoy!

As always, make informed food decisions. Know your ingredients, know your costs!

Peppermint Chocolate Granola:

Chocolate Peppermint Granola 1

Vanilla Honey Granola:

Coconut Almond Granola

 

$0.50 and 70 Minute Whole Wheat Apple Banana Bread

$0.50 and 70 Minute Whole Wheat Apple Banana Bread

I can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year than with this $0.50 and 70 Minute Whole Wheat Apple Banana Bread made with no added sugar. Bananas and apples are plenty sweet on their own so any extra unhealthy processed sugar is just unnecessary. Plus, there is a cup of nuts packed up inside. It doesn’t get any better than that. Start off your new year right by indulging in this healthy treat!