Search Results for: granola

Recipe: Homemade Granola

Granola was a staple in our house growing up. My mom rarely bought cereal, but we had granola at least twice a week. Homemade granola is simple to make, cheaper than cereal and much, much more nourishing which is why it’s one of our favorite healthy frugal breakfasts.

We eat it topped with raisins, chocolate chips, or craisins; with homemade yogurt; or as a layer in Eppli Cakka (a delicious Faroese dessert or breakfast).

Homemade Granola

Family’s Favorite Granola Recipe:

Ingredients: 

4 1/2 cups oatmeal (I prefer old fashioned oats)
1/2 cup whole grain flour
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/8 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup oil (or melted butter)
1/2 cup honey (or agave nectar)
1 tsp vanilla (homemade is delicious!)
2 T water

Instructions: 

  1. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Combine wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Bake in a 9×13 pan (glass seems to heat more evenly and avoid burning as easily) at 300° for about 1 hour.
  4. Stir after 20 minutes, then 15, then 10, then 5 until evenly golden brown.
  5. Cool thoroughly and enjoy!

  May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeHealthy 2Day ,Works for MeWalking RedeemedGraced SimplicityFabulously Frugal & Simple Lives

Eppli Cakka Recipe

Eppli cakka, a simple Faroese dessert or breakfast!

One of my very favorite fall traditions is making applesauce with my mom and sisters… and now with my own kiddos. I love the tart sweet smell of apples baking and bowls of fresh sauce sprinkled with cinnamon.

But one of my very favorite uses for applesauce (homemade or not) is Eppli Cakka. It’s a simple Faroese dessert that’s healthy enough we sometimes eat it for breakfast. The original calls for a type of sweetened breadcrumbs that we haven’t found in the U.S., but granola makes a perfect substitute.

Eppli Cakka Recipe

Layers of granola and applesauce

Ingredients 

Layer applesauce and granola. You can make it in a big serving dish, but I prefer serving it up individual bowls, since leftovers get soggy and I despise soggy food.

Eppli cakka with cream on top

Top with cream and garnish with chocolate shavings.

For variety, add peeled diced apples in between the applesauce and granola layers. So simple, but so yummy!

This simple Scandinavian dessert pairs applesauce and granola for a healthy treat!

Weekly Breakfast Menu

“Goodnight Mama. I love you! What’s for breakfast in the morning?” Almost every night, one of the children asks for the breakfast menu as I tuck them into bed.

Since breakfast is such an important meal, I try to make sure that it is sustaining and (mostly) healthy without spending all morning in the kitchen. After fielding the breakfast question for the 873rd time, I decided it was time to sit down and put a weekly menu on paper.

Not only will a healthy breakfast menu help me answer their question easily, it will help my foggy morning brain!

Weekly breakfast menu

Hootenanny-- a breakfast favorite!

Hootenanny hot from the oven! 

Sunday: hootenanny

Almost every single week, Joshua lets me sleep in while he makes up a big batch of delicious hootenanny. The outside is always the best, so he had the brilliant idea of baking the hootenanny in (non-stick!) muffin tins. Deliciousness! Topped with real maple syrup and lightly dusted with powdered sugar, it makes a lovely Sunday breakfast.

Yogurt and granola: a simple, healthy breakfast

Homemade yogurt topped with homemade granola

Monday: yogurt & granola or oatmeal

I don’t know what Mondays are like at your place, but if there’s any chance of starting the week out on a good footing, I need something easy and sustaining for breakfast. Homemade yogurt topped with homemade granola fits the bill.

Cooked oatmeal or cooked seven-grain cereal are also good options. (My silly kids ask for sugar on their Lucky Charms, but also love soaked seven-grain “cereal.” I have yet to figure out their wacky tastebuds.)

Easy, delicious, freezer-friendly breakfast burritos!

Freezer-friendly breakfast burritos

Tuesday: breakfast burritos

On Tuesday, we have our weekly classical academy which means we ought to be out the door at 8:00. Which is not when we are usually ready to walk out the door. Freezing a big batch of breakfast burritos for Tuesday mornings has made getting out the door much less hectic. Plus, they are yummy and filling!

Mocha muffins with a fruit and yogurt shake

Hot mocha muffins with fruit-sweetened homemade yogurt shakes 

Wednesday: muffins with yogurt shakes

Every few weeks, I make up a big batch of muffins (mocha muffins are our favorite!) to freeze. Served with a homemade yogurt shake, they make a delicious healthy breakfast.

Thursday is "official" cereal day at our home!

I don’t for a moment consider this healthy, but at least Aldi used purple carrot extract as a food coloring. Just one more reason why I love Aldi

Thursday: Cereal Day

Thursday is official cereal day at our place. Yep, it’s even marked on Rose’s calendar. You see, the kids love cereal. I don’t. I think it’s way overpriced, generally unhealthy, and totally not filling. As a compromise, I told them they could have cereal every Thursday morning… after they eat a bowl of oatmeal. (If all they eat is cereal, it only takes about 27 minutes for them to start complaining that they are starving.)

Friday: eggs & toast

Even through the winter, our little flock of chickens has been faithfully providing us with beautiful fresh brown eggs, which makes serving eggs and toast way more fun!

(My little sis Bekka accidentally stumbled on the secret to perfect scrambled eggs: butter. When the eggs are almost finished cooking, add a dab of butter and let it melt over the eggs. Butter makes everything better.)

Pancakes

(These buckwheat pancakes make a good gluten-free variety!)

Saturday: waffles or pancakes

Homemade waffles or pancakes have been a Saturday morning tradition for as long as I can remember. They are a perfect for a nice leisurely breakfast.

A good breakfast can make a world of difference in a day! Here's our simple, varied and (mostly) healthy breakfast menu.

Our (mostly) healthy breakfast menu

On special occasions we substitute a fancier breakfast option. Crepes are always my children’s breakfast of choice, Joshua loves biscuits and gravy, and traditional Faroese smorkaka is my favorite.

The rest of the time, having a weekly healthy breakfast menu will help me avoid morning stress while feeding the family a healthy, varied breakfast.

What are your favorite breakfast foods? Do you have a set breakfast menu?

20 Items Worth Buying in Bulk

A while ago I stood in the store, wavering between a “bulk” and normal-sized package. While trying to decide if I could use up the bulk package quickly enough, my eyes zeroed in on the price per ounce. That instantly settled the question. The bulk package was quite a bit more expensive, per ounce, than the regular!

Buying in bulk isn’t always a bargain. Sometimes you end up paying more, just for the bulk packaging.

And of course, buying in bulk isn’t worth it if the package is just going to sit in the back of the cupboard and invite weevils, ants, or other pests into your kitchen. (Or meet a less dramatic end and simply expire.)

There are two important questions to ask before making bulk purchases: “Do we use this often enough that it won’t go bad?” and “Does it actually save enough to buy it in bulk?”

Since Aldi is my favorite store, a bulk purchase needs to beat Aldi, either in quality or price… and be one that I use enough of to avoid a dismal fate at the back of the cupboard.

These are 20 items that are worth it for me to buy in bulk.

Buying in bulk can save big... or cost you big. These 20 items are ones that we use regularly and that cost WAY less to buy in bulk.

[Links to some products in this post are my referral links.]  photo credit 

20 Items Worth Buying in Bulk

1. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a family staple and ordering in bulk saves so much. We order 50# bags from our co-op (if you are in their route, I highly recommend CLNF!) We eat oatmeal for breakfast once a week and use it to make granola, energy bites, protein bars and much more.

2. Grains

One of my very favorite kitchen tools ever is my grain mill. It’s an investment, but if you love baking with fresh wheat or other grains it is totally worth the cost! I order chemical-free white wheat and other grains from CLNF for making fresh bread, muffins, waffles, pancakes, and much more.

3. Flax seeds

Flax seeds are a great source of fiber and make a good egg-replacement in baked goods. Now that we have our own chickens, I don’t run out of eggs nearly as often as I used to, but it’s awfully handy to have on hand when I do. I also add flax to healthy snacks like energy bites and protein bars.  (From CLNF)

4. Organic raisin

Since raisins are so heavily sprayed with pesticides, buying organic raisins was worth it to me, especially since I can buy them in bulk from CLNF for not too much more, per pound, as regular raisins from Aldi. {They have raised their prices quite a bit since last time I ordered. But for me it’s still worth it.}

5. Coconut Oil/ Coconut Chips

We go through a LOT of coconut oil. Prices vary considerably depending on the quality, but I’ve ordered it by the gallon from Tropical TraditionsSoaper’s Choice, and CLNF.

We also buy shredded coconut and coconut chips in bulk from CLNF. It’s delicious in granolaenergy bites, protein bars, and cookies. Plus, I use it to make my own coconut milk.

6. Olive oil

I don’t buy enough items at Sam’s to make it worth buying a pass (and we don’t have a local Costco), but they usually offer two weekends a year when you can shop without a pass. So, I try to stock up on the few items that I find worth getting those days. Olive oil is one of them. Thankfully, it stays good for over six months.

7. Raw nuts

Despite what the expiration date may say, nuts sometimes go rancid. I stock up on almonds, pecans, and walnuts on my twice-yearly trip to Sam’s and store extra bags in the freezer.

8. Cheese

We are really blessed to have a family member who works at a cheese plant and sometimes picks up extra cheese for us. Other times my sweet mom picks some up from Sam’s for me. I buy the blocks, shred and freeze it.

9. Raw Honey

Whenever possible, we order straight from a local bee keeper. Due to the honeybee problems, sometimes that isn’t possible and honey is another bulk Sam’s purchase.

10. Maple syrup

Real maple syrup is amazing. And expensive. And worth it to me (since most regular syrup is mainly corn syrup and food coloring!) We order by the gallon, straight from the producers, which helps cut down on the cost… and usually ensures that we don’t have hot hootenanny ready to eat, but no syrup to put on it.

11. Vinegar

Good for things as diverse as ear infections and a hair rinse, vinegar gets used up quickly. We buy it by the gallon.

12. Yeast

Buying packets of yeast is WAY more expensive than buying in bulk. Personally, I prefer SAF yeast, which I order from Amazon. Once opened, I store yeast in the freezer and have never had it lose its potency. (One of my goals for the year is to learn to make amazing sourdough bread that doesn’t need purchased years. I still have a long way to go though!)

13. Frequently-used herbs

If you drink a lot of herbal tea or make your own herbal remedies, buying herbs in bulk makes sense. Most herbs will stay fresh for at least a year if you store them in air-tight glass jars in a dark cupboard. I get this delicious peppermint tea plus herbs for making tinctures and DIY salves in bulk.

14. Coffee

Joshua’s parents are amazing at finding local deals on bulk purchases. Thanks to them, we get good quality freshly-roasted coffee beans in bulk from a local coffee company. If you go through a lot of coffee, check to see if your local coffee shop sells bulk beans. We save at least 30% on good quality coffee by buying in bulk. (We grind it ourselves, so it still tastes fresh every morning.)

15. Chicken & beef

Often, if you can trace the meat to its source distributor, you can get great deals on bulk purchases to store in the freezer.

16. Local, in-season produce

If you like putting up your own foods like applesauce or salsa (and haven’t managed to grow your own apples or tomatoes), buying produce by the bushel from local farmers can really save!

17. Diapers & Wipes

I do not coupon, so maybe I don’t get the best deal ever, but love Subscribe & Save with Amazon Mom. 15% off and diapers delivered straight to my front door works for me!

Same goes for wet wipes.  (I’m super picky and way prefer Huggies Fragrance-Free!)

18. Toilet paper

Another Subscribe & Save bulk purchase which I’m happy not to try to squeeze into a shopping cart that is already holding two or three kids!

19. Personal products

About half of the personal products we use are worth getting in bulk. Things like shampoo and castile soap for making natural DIY foaming soap.

20. Vodka

Yes, vodka. The cheap kind. Not for drinking, but for all sorts of DIY projects, like homemade vanilla extract and DIY herbal tinctures.

Buying in bulk can save you hundreds of dollars... but it can also lose you lots of money. Here are 20 smart bulk purchases.  photo credit 

Buying in Bulk

Buying in bulk can either save or waste a lot of money. Even if the 20 pounds of millet flour seems like a great deal, if it just sits in the pantry and goes bad, it’s not such a great deal after all.

But by only purchasing items we regularly use and making sure that the cost per pound is actually lower, we save hundreds of dollars a year on our food purchases by buying in bulk.

I’m really curious. What things do you think are worth buying in bulk? 

Winter Travel Emergency Kit

Winter is almost upon us. It's time to build a winter travel emergency kit.

Winter weather is in the air. When there is snow on the ground, I like to turn on the fire and get cozy or go outside and enjoy the snow.

Driving on frozen roads though? That’s not my favorite thing. But being prepared with a winter travel emergency kit makes me feel a little better about braving the frozen world.

So this week I stocked our van with emergency essentials. I hope we never need to use them in an emergency, but it’s always best to be prepared for any adventure!

Be prepared for any adventure on the road with these 8 essential winter travel items.

Be prepared for any winter adventure on the road!   (photo credit 1/ photo credit 2)

Winter Travel Emergency Kit

Water

It’s totally obvious, and totally important.

The kids and I have Lifefactory glass water bottles that we take with us try to take with us everywhere we go. (I totally love them!) We also keep bottled water in the trunk.

Food

If you are traveling with children, it is a good idea to have food in the car. Emergency or no emergency. A simple snack is amazing at averting melt-downs…and distracting kids in the face of real emergencies..

Trail mix, granola bars, crackers, and beef jerky are good choices that don’t spoil easily.

A good-quality phone charger

What’s worse than being stranded in the middle of nowhere? Being stranded in the middle of nowhere with a dead phone.

Since, ahem, I’m not the best at managing my cell battery life, I have both a car charger and an awesome “anywhere” charger. (Thanks, darling!) Having at least one would be a good idea!

Basic (Herbal) Emergency Kit

It seems like anytime we leave the house, at least one child has a mini “emergency”, like a scraped knee or bruised hand. With band-aids and a few basic herbs, you can be prepared for the many mini emergencies you are likely to face…and even be ready for more major events. ‘

(If you’d like a free copy of my simple and concise “Build Your Own Herbal Emergency Kit” guide—complete with instructions and printables for on the road— sign up here.)

I also printed off CPR guides to keep handy in the van: infant CPR, toddler CPR, and CPR. No matter how many times I read through the guide, I’m positive I would want a reminder in the stress of the moment.

Blankets

Come fall, we start keeping a few cozy blankets in the van. They get used while the van heats up, and are there if we ever need them during an emergency.

A change of clothes (for the kids, at least)

Whether you’re stranded in an ice storm or a child couldn’t quite make it to the bathroom, being prepared with a fresh change of clothes is always a good idea!

Warm gloves

My hands get so cold, so fast. Driving with stiff hands, especially in bad weather conditions, is just not very smart. Keep a special pair in the van in case you need them.

Entertainment of some sort

This one isn’t strictly essential, I suppose. But it is a very good idea to keep an assortment of entertainment in the car, for you and the kids! Books, coloring books, and car games make good choices.

Build your own winter travel emergency kit and be prepared for any icy adventure that comes your way!

Assemble your winter travel emergency kit

Since getting married, Joshua and I have had trees fall on our house in an ice storm and survived a terrible tornado.

Being prepared for mishaps makes them much easier to handle. If you have to travel on frozen roads, make sure to assemble a winter travel kit to take with you!

What do you keep in your vehicle? (Do you like driving in winter weather?) 

How to Make Meals for Others (When the Thought is Totally Overwhelming)

A few months ago, I stood in my kitchen feeling totally overwhelmed.

I had offered to bring a meal to a friend, but couldn’t come up with a good dinner idea. All morning I’d stewed over what to make, and still hadn’t pinned down an idea.

Something needed to change.

That’s when I realized I was going about the whole thing wrong. Instead of focusing on the reason for making a meal in the first place (to bless a friend with dinner) I was stressed out because I just knew it wouldn’t be good enough.

Over the course of the afternoon, I realized that my heart needed to change.

  • I needed to STOP worrying that my friend might think I wasn’t a good cook.
  • I needed to STOP stressing over having it look like the meal from Pinterest.
  • I needed to START seeking to serve my friend in love.

If you have ever stood in the middle of your kitchen wishing you hadn’t signed up to bring that meal because the thought it totally overwhelming, here are a few things that helped me.

Embrace the WHY

Why did you sign up to bring that meal in the first place?

Jesus serves His church with food: by making food spring from the earth & giving us of His body at the Lord’s supper. Sharing food is one way we can serve others too.

This is why we bring one another meals: to serve, to love, and to support. When serving others as we’ve been served by Jesus is the focus, a lot of the stress melts away.

Select Go-To Meals

The hard part for me isn’t actually making the meal, its’s deciding what to make in the first place. Select a handful of meals that you like to prepare, get generally good reviews, and freeze well as your go-to meals. Think back on the meals that you’ve received. Which ones did your family love the most?

Since many of our friends prefer gluten-free, two of my options cater to that. These are my meal options:

  • Creamy Spinach & Chicken Alfredo
  • GF Southwestern Chicken & Black Beans (it’s one of my favorite meals ever. Recipe coming soon!)
  • GF Lentil Rice Casserole (this one was a favorite from our law school days. I like to dress it up now by cooking it in beef broth and adding shredded beef. My kids and I still love it as a vegetarian dish too though.)
  • Lasagna

Preparing breakfast is always a challenge for me when we’re sick or have a new baby, and the breakfast foods we’ve been given were such a huge blessing. When I can, I try to include a breakfast-y food, like hearty protein barswhole wheat pumpkin muffins, or a jar of homemade granola.

Work the Go-To Meals into your Menu

I use a revolving monthly menu. It has made life SO much easier for me. Each week’s menu includes one of my go-to meals that I can easily double to bring to a new mom or sick friend.

I highly recommend working out a revolving menu, but even if you don’t have one, you can still incorporate one of your go-to meals into what you have planned for your family to eat that week.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed after offering to make a meal for a friend? Here are a few simple ways to make it a blessing (to both of you!)

Let Go of Perfectionism

A perfect meal for a friend includes a delicious main course, healthy green side, homemade bread of some sort, and a tasty dessert, delivered with a darling Pinterest-inspired presentation. Right?

Sometimes.

And sometimes the “perfect” meal is a simple pasta dish thrown into a foil pan with the heating instructions scrawled on the top.

The point is serving a friend. Sometimes that might mean pouring your creativity into making it beautiful. Sometimes that might mean cheerfully welcoming a toddler’s help and smiling when your last egg cracks on the floor and all hope of dessert is lost.

Go Make Those Meals

As my heart has changed, making meals for others ceased to be a cause of stress and anxiety. Many of my friends are also young moms with lots of little ones in their homes. You know what I’ve realized? They’re not expecting perfection.

Making meals for each other is simply one more way of sharing this journey of life together. So stop stressing, make a plan,and serve your sisters.

What’s your favorite meal to share with a friend? Or that a friend has shared with you? 

 photo credit 

Keep Weevils at Bay (or Why I Put Dirt in My Cupboard)

It was a beautiful morning. I was crossing things off the to-do list with delightful speed. I pulled out the bucket of oatmeal to whip up a huge batch of homemade granola. As I set the lid down, I noticed a bug.

It must have been sitting right on the rim of the bucket, I thought.

I looked in the bucket again. There was another bug. Hmmm, that’s odd, I thought. It must have slid inside when I opened it. 

And then the awful truth, which I was trying desperately to avoid, sank in. The bugs weren’t from the outside of the bucket. They were crawling out of it. And it wasn’t just one or two.

As I learned to my dismay, weevils can make their way into your cupboard from a bag of flour! Major yuck! Be proactive and protect your food with diatomaceous earth.

 Thank goodness this was not my pantry. It was disgusting, but nowhere near this bad. (photo credit)

Tiny black bugs infested the bucket of oatmeal. In dismay, I turned to the internet to try to figure out what the disgusting little critters were… and how to get rid of them.

The identification was easy: weevils. Getting rid of them was a much more difficult task.

Opinions on the gravity of the situation varied from “OH MY GOODNESS! I saw a weevil in my crackers and threw EVERYTHING in the pantry in the dumpster, bleached all surfaces in the kitchen and have an exterminator on the way,” to “No big deal! It’s just a bit of protein. Besides, you’ve almost certainly eaten some without knowing it.”

The first position seemed rather extreme, but (as all guests we’ve hosted recently will be relieved to know) I’d much prefer serving my family other sources of protein.

So, what to do if you find a weevil in your oatmeal?

Natural Kitchen Pest Control

First, don’t panic.

As disgusting as it sounds, you’ve probably eaten a fair number of weevils without knowing it and survived. Grain weevils lay their eggs in, you guessed it, grain. Given the right conditions, the eggs hatch and the weevils multiply. Chances are, the weevil larva entered your home in food you bought.

Second, survey the damage.

As I feared, it wasn’t just the oatmeal that was infested. I completely cleared out the pantry and found weevils in flour, shelled nuts, chips, crackers and more. Thankfully, I’d already started storing many things in mason jars with lids tightly shut. These little stinkers can chew through cardboard and plastic, but not glass.

Properly dispose of infested food

(unless you hold to the “it’s just protein” camp): I gave bulk grains to a friend with chickens and carefully disposed of other infested food in the dumpster (putting it in the garbage can in the kitchen would just spread the problem!) Anything suspicious got tossed or frozen.

Clean thoroughly

Add tea tree essential oil to dish soap for additional cleaning power. If you need to vacuum out crevices, make sure you throw the vacuum bag in the dumpster.

Store food carefully

I love having a well-stocked pantry, but sure don’t want a repeat of that disaster! Rice and other grains go straight to the freezer for a week to kill any larva that might have been present in the store. Things like Saltine crackers that we don’t eat often but keep on hand in case we get sick either get stored in mason jars or in the freezer.

After tossing about $150 worth of food and cleaning like crazy, I thought the pantry was weevil-free. Guess what I found a few days later crawling in the pantry? Yep! Another weevil.

Did you know that you can carry weevils home in a bag of flour or box of cereal? Keep your cupboards safe from infestation with diatomaceous earth!

Food-grade diatomaceous Earth from the Bulk Herb Store 

Spread diatomaceous earth in the crevices

Clearly we needed something to kill off the rest of the weevils, but I didn’t want to use anything toxic in the pantry. Diatomaceous earth to the rescue! (Thanks Mom!) Diatomaceous earth, or fossil shell flour, comes from hard-shelled algae. Although it’s safe for mammals and earthworms to take internally, when weevils or other insect pests crawl through it, it dries out their exoskeletons and kills them. (Make sure to use the food-grade kind!)

I sprinkled it generously around the edges of each shelf, under any bags of chips that didn’t fit in the freezer, and inside the buckets of un-infested grains. “Dirt” pretty much covered all the crevices of my freshly-cleaned pantry. Then I sprinkled diatomaceous earth in all the cupboards that weren’t affected, just in case.

As added precaution, I taped bay leaves to bucket lids and put them on each shelf because they are traditionally reputed to discourage weevils.

It’s been about three months. I’ve seen a few dead weevils (who appeared to have trekked through the “dirt”) but NO MORE LIVING WEEVILS. Hurray!

Be proactive. Prevent a disgusting weevil infestation with diatomaceous earth... because weevils could be lurking in the bag of flour or box of cereal you just brought home!

Keep your cupboards weevil free

Even if you’ve never seen a weevil in your pantry, I highly recommended sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the edges of your pantry, just in case. Believe me, dealing with an infestation is not fun.

Anyone else had a pantry infestation? What did you do?

 [Full disclosure: links to some products in this post are my referral links.]

Clear out the Pantry Challenge

We’re rapidly nearing Moving Day (hereafter affectionately referred to as M-Day.) A quick glance at my cupboards and freezer convinced me that I have more than enough food to feed my family for the next four weeks without setting foot in Walmart. (We get milk and produce from a friend’s farmer’s market.)

I don’t want to move half-used boxes of pasta, frozen chicken breasts, or a quarter bottle of dressing (and I doubt food pantries would appreciate the donation!) That leaves throwing food away or using it up.

I vote use it up!

Maybe you’re not moving, but summer is a great time to clear out the freezer before re-stocking with garden produce. Or simply saving money on groceries to put toward travel, school supplies or savings.

My goal is to spend $10-20 a week on milk, eggs and produce and save the extra $30-40 a week for re-stocking my new kitchen. *Happy squeal!* (Oh, and my husband is on board as long as meals don’t get “too weird” so, that’s an added challenge.)

Want to join the clear out the pantry (and freezer) challenge?

Take inventory

Grab pen and paper and take a quick survey of the food on hand. In addition to a good amount of chicken and mozzarella cheese, I have several freezer meals and dozens of odds and ends in the freezer. (Anyone brilliants ideas for how to use 3 corn tortillas, a cup of canned chicken and half a bag of corn?)

Plan ahead

I really doubt I’ll have time for creativity that last week when my kitchen is in boxes. This week I plan to make extras to set aside for those final busy weeks so we dont’ have to resort to picking up pizza (at least not too many times!)

Make a Menu

Here is this week’s “pantry” menu:

Breakfasts 

Eggs and toast with fruit
Homemade yogurt with homemade granola (x2)
Cooked steel cut oats (want to finish up the box!)
Sweet potato muffins with yogurt shakes
Eggs, bacon and toast

Lunches

Leftovers
Pb&j with vegetables/frozen grapes (x2)
Homemade mac & cheese with salad (thanks to Playing Grown-up for the yummy inspiration!)
Bean burritos with lettuce and cheese (x2)

Dinner

Spaghetti with homemade french bread and salad
Chicken & spinach pasta salad
Meatloaf with baked potatoes and mac & cheese
Chicken fajitas (with homemade tortillas!)
Angel Hair Chicken
Lentil Rice Casserole 

What’s on your menu this week? 

12 Healthy (and Frugal) Breakfast Alternatives to Cereal

Every year, over 2,500,000,000 boxes of cereal are sold! That’s enough cereal to build three great pyramids. Cereal manufacturers use an incredible 816,000,000 pounds of sugar yearly. (Source)

Of course, there are many cereals that are not heavily laden with sugar (and food coloring) but most do not compete with a fresh homemade breakfast.

Plus, the average box of cereal costs between $2 and $5… and my kids are begging for a snack about six and a half minutes after breakfast on the rare occasions I do serve cereal.

The problem is, cereal is so convenient. To paraphrase a marketing joke, “You can have it convenient, healthy, or frugal. Choose any two [or just one].”

A bowl of cereal is convenient, but it is rarely cheap or healthy.

These 12 breakfast ideas are more healthy and thrifty than most cereal. Some of them do actually meet all three criteria: convenience, health, and thrift. I arranged them roughly in order of convenience.

  1. Reheated Rice, Barley, or other whole Grain (2 minutes): Any time I serve rice for dinner, my children make sure we save enough for them to have leftovers for breakfast. This makes for a frugal and convenient breakfast. Just heat leftover brown (or white) rice, barley, quinoa, or other grain. Top with maple syrup or cinnamon sugar and fresh milk.
  2. Homemade Granola with Yogurt (2 minutes, once made): A great way to get more yogurt! Once the yogurt and granola are made, this breakfast takes just a minute to serve. (See Amy’s great tip for speeding up the granola prep!)
  3. Sliced Banana with Milk and Toast (5 minutes) Another of my kids’ favorite breakfasts: slice bananas and serve with milk (and brown sugar/maple syrup if desired.) Whole grain toast on the side helps make it filling.
  4. Yogurt Shakes (5 minutes): I make homemade yogurt on a regular basis. It’s easy to make and so full of beneficial bacteria. We eat it in some form multiple times a week: shakes is one of my favorite. Just blend yogurt, frozen fruit, juice/honey to sweeten, and a handful of spinach or other greens, if desired. (I added spinach recently and my 2-year-old was convinced I’d added green sprinkles.)
  5. Energy Bites (10-20 minutes to make/ 10 seconds once chilled): A yummy mix of protein, healthy fats, flaxseed, and chocolate, these energy bites make an equally delicious breakfast or snack. Once chilled, they’re even faster than cereal and so much healthier (and more filling!)
  6. Eppli Cakka (10 minutes): This delicious breakfast is a family favorite. Layer applesauce, granola, and freshly chopped apples (if desired). Top with whipped cream. Based on a Scandinavian dessert, eppli cakka makes a light and healthy summer breakfast. (View picture here.
  7. Egg Omelet (10 minutes): A great way to use up vegetables. Fry onions, olives, peppers, etc. in a bit of butter or coconut oil before adding eggs.
  8. Breakfast Burritos (15 minutes to make, 2 to reheat): Healthy, filling, and easy to make ahead. Just fill tortilla shells with scrambled eggs and your choice of hash browns, sautéed vegetables, sausage, bacon, cheese, etc. Serve fresh or wrap tightly and flash freeze. Then store well-sealed until ready to thaw and heat. (Homemade tortillas are delicious, but don’t freeze quite as well.)
  9. French Toast (15 minutes): This is a great way to rescue bread before it gets stale! As a commenter pointed out, not all french toast is healthy. I use homemade bread, dip it in eggs and milk, and fry. Once it’s golden, I top it with butter and real maple syrup.
  10. Whole Grain Muffins (20 minutes fresh/2 minutes reheated): Homemade muffins are a great way to start off the day with whole grains (yummiest and healthiest freshly ground!) These whole grain applesauce muffins and pumpkin/sweet potato muffins freeze very well. I usually serve them with homemade yogurt.
  11. Breakfast Casserole (Varies widely!)
  12. Whole Grain Pancakes or Waffles (30 minutes) They may be more work, but I’m sure to get lots of hugs and kisses on the mornings I make waffles or pancakes. Plus, it’s so easy to use a variety of fresh grains in pancakes (like these grain-free buckwheat pancakes). We usually alternate pancakes and waffles for our Saturday morning breakfast.

What are your favorite breakfasts? 

 Linked up at Teach Me TuesdaysTitus 2sdaysLiving Green, Healthy 2Day WednesdaysFrugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Thankful Homemaker,  Homemaking LinkupWomen Living WellWorks for Me, & Simple Lives

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9 Energy-Saving Kitchen Tips

Do you ever have “duh” moments in the kitchen? I do.

My latest involved a should-be-obvious kitchen tip: Keep the lid on while your food is cooking.

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Earth-shattering, huh? For over a decade, I’ve happily cooked away while letting all that steam escape into the kitchen.

Now I’m scratching my head wondering why it took so long to grasp this simple time & money-saving tip! [Especially since Joshua has several times asked, “Don’t you want the lid on that, babe?”]

No wonder my kitchen got so hot before!

Summer is right around the corner. Avoiding unnecessary heat in the kitchen is a big money (and comfort) saver. Here are a few other ideas:

  1. Fill the grill. Grill dinner, but also grill the meats you’ll need for the coming week. (See Amy’s example here!)
  2. Maximize the oven heat. If the oven has to be on, don’t just bake one item. Slip potatoes in while your bread is baking. Slide a couple loaves of quick bread for the freezer next to dinner, etc.
  3. Leave the oven door shut until you need to open it. Once you’ve made a recipe and know how long it takes to cook in your oven, jot down exactly how many minutes it takes. That way next time you don’t have to check it multiple times (and spill hot air into the kitchen!)
  4. Turn off the oven and let things finish baking while the oven cools. (Easy way to cook granola. Another brilliant idea from Amy! It must be hot in Texas, or something.)
  5. Do the same thing with the stove.
  6. Use the crockpot. If you can safely plug it in on the porch or in the garage, all the better!
  7. Use the freezer: fry up a big batch of hamburger, double/triple dinner, etc. Freeze the extras
  8. Plan ahead. Frozen food heats up much faster when it’s thawed…. especially if you don’t have a microwave.
  9. ….and don’t forget to put the lid on when you’re cooking!

What about you? How do you keep your kitchen a little less hot during the summer? 

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Feminine Adventures

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And now, join Jenn (from The Purposeful Mom) and me for our weekly Thrifty Thursday Blog Hop!

Posts about living frugally, thrifty tips and tricks, money-saving DIY projects and gardening, frugal recipes, and encouraging posts on financial stewardship are all welcome. Link up to either of our blogs–your post will be displayed in both places.

We’d be very grateful if you’d share only thrifty-themed posts. (Read full guidelines here)

Linked up at Homemaker by Choice, Consider the Lilies & Delight Thyself