One of the very best ways to save on everyday recipes, is to make some of your kitchen staples homemade. For instance, I am making chicken cakes (like crab cakes only with less expensive chicken in place of the crab). For this recipe, I need chicken, bread crumbs, veggies, and eggs. Rather than buying canned chicken, I took one chicken breast, seasoned it up, poured some Italian dressing on it, and baked it in the oven to chop to size or shred myself. Instead of buying bread crumbs, I toasted 5 pieces of wheat bread in the oven VERY well, and then pulsed them in my food processor until they were the right consistency. Since the chicken breast cost about $.95 and the 5 pieces of bread cost approximately $.18 (rather than $2.50 for a can of chicken, and 2.39 for a can of bread crumbs), I have saved about $3.76 just by making some of the ingredients myself. If you were to save this much on your recipes twice per week, then you save $30 per month and $391 per year. That is amazing! Not budget saving, but every little bit helps.
There are tons of kitchen staples you can easily make yourself! Below, I am sharing a few such recipes, along with a breakdown of how much you will save.
Homemade Chocolate Syrup
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Mix the cocoa powder and the water in a saucepan. Heat and stir to dissolve the cocoa. Add the sugar; stir to dissolve. Boil for about three minutes on medium heat. Be careful not to let it boil over! Add the salt and vanilla. Let cool. Pour into a clean glass jar and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for several months.
Yield: 2 cups
Directions: use one teaspoon per glass of chocolate milk
Okay, a 48 oz bottle of hershey syrup is $3.88 at walmart.com. It has 35 servings per container, so it's $0.11 per serving.
I bought 4 cups of natural cocoa powder from the Amish near my old house for $3.80, so the cocoa in this recipe cost $0.48. A 5lb bag of sugar has 11 1/4 cups in it (1lb=2 1/4 cups) and costs $2.88. So, the sugar in this recipe cost $0.51. 2 floz of vanilla is $3.48 and has 12 teaspoons in it, so it's $0.07 for the vanilla. The salt and water cost are so slight, we'll say $0.02 as an estimate. That means, my recipe costs a total of $1.08 to make, and has 96 servings in it (48 teaspoons in a cup), so it cost $0.01 per serving!
That's a savings of $0.10 per serving. If you have a child that drinks 2 glasses of chocolate milk per day, then you will save $6.00 per month and $73 per year. . . just on chocolate milk!!!!
This could not be any simpler!
2-5 of bread the thickness you want your croutons (depending on how many croutons you need)
2-4 Tablespoons of butter (again, depending on croutons needed)
Sprinkle of Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and/or other desired seasonings
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the crust from your bread slices. Melt the butter in the microwave and stir in seasonings. Cut your slices of bread into cubes. Toss bread crumbs in seasoned butter and place on cookie sheet in single layer. Cook until it crisps (about 5-10 minutes.
Now then, one of my loaves of bread costs about $0.85 to make, and I only used about 1/5 of a loaf, so lets says this recipe costs about $0.30 to make ( got to count the butter and sprinkling of spices)
A bag of croutons costs about $2.25, so that's a savings of $1.95 for every salad with croutons! If you have one salad with croutons a week (and we all KNOW we should eat salad more often than that), you save $7.80 a month and $101.40 per year.
Do we get the idea yet? I know we must be getting it. Surely we are. I mean, I just saved us nearly a weeks worth of groceries on bread crumbs, croutons, canned chicken and chocolate syrup. I even saved us money while cutting out things like preservatives and high fructose corn syrup!!!! I will add more recipes for homemade kitchen staples as I find them.
My next challenge was given to me by my Mom. She is currently trying (and doing a damned fine job, I might add) to lose weight. My mission is to find ways to eat healthy, low fat foods on a budget. As if this isn't hard enough, she is super picky about health foods, especially veggies. The ideas I suggested on the phone (frozen/canned veggies, etc) were all met with "I don't like that". She doesn't like veggies really. She can eat raw carrots, celery, and tomatoes. She loves onions. Hates peppers, broccoli, green beans, and a host of other healthy things. My answers to her will be in the next post. Be sure that homemade kitchen staples will play a large roll again.
Everyone else should feel free to give me "challenges" and I will do my best to meet them in a coming post.
Until next time. . .