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“What In The Heck Do I Do With These Potatoes??” Soup Recipe…Super Cheap, Super Easy, Super Yummy!

"Don't just throw me away!! Eat me, for God's sake!!"

OK, we’ve all been there…you take a peek down into that dark, cool place you stored your last 10 lb bag of potatoes (for only $2.50!) find, and you realize…GASP!!…they aren’t going to make it very much longer!! Hating to chuck out some perfectly good (for now) spuds, you wonder, what on earth am I going to do to use up the rest of these potatoes, and fast??

Here’s a very delicious answer…a very easy, adaptable potato soup recipe that will do nicely as a meal for the evening, and, after that, be very much appreciated in lunch thermoses for the rest of the week. I made it with a nice batch of corn bread muffins for dinner tonight.

I just had this conundrum this evening, and I’ll dictate the recipe as I made it (I had some ham on hand), but the truth is it’s a very versatile cream of potato soup recipe that can just as easily stand on its own…or be equally delicious with bacon instead of ham…or be even more delicious with a bit of cheese and ground meat thrown in for a kind of Cheeseburger Chowder (which is always a hit with the kiddos!)

The important thing is that it will allow you to use up any iffy potatoes you have laying about, and ease your guilty conscious…don’t let the angry potato-with-eyes haunt your nightmares!!

DO NOT delude yourself into thinking (as I have many times before) that you are going to make a fabulous potato side dish for dinner every night for the next three nights to use up that nearing-death bag of Idahos…that’s too much pressure, and I practically guarantee (unless you are a better woman than I, which you may well be!) that you will end up taking out your taters with the trash come garbage night! Instead, make a big ol’ pot of this potato soup, use them all up at once, and say goodbye to food-waste guilt!! All you’ll need are a soup pot and a saucepan for the roux, and perhaps a cutting board to chop everything up on. I didn’t even make a mess tonight creating this!! Hallelujah!

Estimated Total Cost: $3.00 for my batch (remembering I stock up on super-sale prices, and coupon quite a bit!)

“What In The Heck Am I Going To Do With These Potatoes??” Soup

Note: Besides the making of the roux (which I’ll explain in a minute) this is a very simple and adaptable recipe. Feel free to add more potatoes, onion, celery, carrots, seasoning, etc. It’s very hard to screw it up…use your personal tastes as a guide!

Ingredients:

  • approx. 3.5 cups of peeled and diced Idaho or Russet potatoes (more or less will still work, just remember they should be covered with chicken broth when boiling and simmering, so you may have to adjust the amount of that as well)
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots (optional, will add a bit of sweetness)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup diced ham (you could also use bacon or ground meat!)
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth/stock (homemade is the bomb!! But a carton or can will do fine!)
  • 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper to season (sea salt is best)

Ingredients for the roux:

  • 5 TBS butter (please use REAL butter in this dish, unless you have a health condition that prohibits it! It won’t turn out as nicely!)
  • 5 TBS all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of milk (again, I recommend using WHOLE milk for this dish…this is a roux, and low-fat just doesn’t cut it unless there are health issues that warrant it!)

Optional Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of your favorite cheese, especially if you’d like to do cheesy potato soup (you can still add the ham!) or if you’d like to substitute ground meat for the ham and do a Cheeseburger Chowder

 

Easy Instructions (Don’t be afraid!):

  1. Hack up every ingredient that calls for cutting/chopping/dicing/etc (this would be potatoes, veggies, pre-cooked ham). Note: If you are using bacon or ground meat, that should be cooked beforehand in a skillet and added after it’s no longer raw! Chuck it all in a soup pot and cover it with the chicken stock. (Remember, if you’ve decided to add more potatoes, ham, etc., you may have to add a bit more stock/broth. That’s fine. Just make sure it’s covered. Bring it up to a BOIL for a minute, and then crank the heat back down to medium (a fast simmer) for about 15 or 20 minutes so everything gets nice and tender. Season to taste with your salt/pepper/etc. now.(If you want to add cheese, the end of this phase would be a good time to melt it in.)
  2. That’s it for the soup pot, now all you have to worry about is making a roux. This is done in a separate skillet, on low to medium-low heat, and a successful roux requires constant stirring, a low temperature, and a little bit of instinct. After the roux is finished you will add it to the soup pot, and the purpose of the roux is to thicken the soup in a most delicious way. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine!!
  3. Start by melting all the butter over med-low heat. Next, add the flour tablespoon by tablespoon while constantly whisking/stirring so the mixture doesn’t burn. You may have to adjust the temperature a few times to get it right. It should be thickening, but not sticking or burning. This is the only tricky part because you DO NOT want to burn your roux. I’ve done it before! If it happens, start fresh, you’ll get it the second time around. Continue stirring this for around a minute.
  4. Next, add your milk sloooooowly. The mixture will probably thin out again, but you eventually want it to thicken back up, so you may have to turn the heat up just a notch. Stir the whole time you’re adding the milk, and keep going (feel the burn!) for around 5 minutes. You’ll know you have it right when the consistency is thick-ish, but there are no lumps. It should be smooth, blonde in color, and thick but not pasty.
  5. That’s about it! Simply add this roux concoction to your pot of soup, and heat through a bit on medium-low while giving everything a good stir!
  6. If you’re like me, some nice cornbread muffins on the side are a must-have, but any kind of bread or biscuit will compliment this hearty soup! Enjoy!!
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Cheap Butter for Holiday Baking…$1.50 off Land O Lakes Butter at Giant Eagle (or any grocery store that doubles coupons)!

Coupons.com has a great 75 cents off any Land o Lakes Butter Coupon that should score you some cheap butter for all that Holiday baking if your grocery store doubles coupons!

Land O Lakes is on sale at Giant Eagle this week, which should make for a great deal!

You can find the coupon under zip code 60606.

How to Eat (Well!) for a Week on $20…Without Coupons!!

You don't need a wad like this to eat great meals all week long...

 

Hi friends! I’m happy to report that we are (almost) settled in our new home, meaning I should now have the time and energy to do regular posts and coupon matchups! Yay!! I’m also happy to report that my new kitchen affords me A LOT more room to maneuver and whip up some tasty dinners.

Alas, a new house means we are putting out more money every month on bills, housing costs, utilities etc., so I’ve been thinking extra hard about how to cook up a week’s worth of delicious dinners (and pack a big enough lunch for Mike and myself), while spending even less money on groceries than we usually do. I guess my gratuitous shopping trip to Pier 1 Imports for new (upholstered) dining chairs and a hand-carved trunk from India to serve as a new coffee table (with storage space!) didn’t help financial matters much either, but a girl has to shop sometime (especially when decorating a new house), and FYI I got everything I wanted for half off or more, thanks to a few barely noticeable scratches and stains. Don’t be afraid to point out imperfections when shopping the more expensive stores, or to purchase floor models, it can save you a butt-load of dough!

My new coffee table from Pier 1...a trunk from India hand-carved from mango wood...got it at over 50% off!! Love at first sight!!

If you read this blog, you know that I spend around $20 each week…that includes food, personal care items, laundry detergent, cat food, and everything else in between.

If you are smart (and short on time, as I have been this past month!), you can still accomplish this goal without clipping a single coupon. Don’t get me wrong, I loooove the coupon game. But at certain hectic times in our lives, all the researching, sorting and clipping may not be possible.

Buying grocery store loss leaders, cooking from scratch, utilizing items that you have already stockpiled, and carefully planning meals will be your greatest ally if you need to go “coupon free” for a week (or a month).

Anyway, I thought I’d share next week’s shopping and cooking plan to illustrate how easy it is to have a weeks worth of tasty home-cooked dinners, and simple, filling lunches without breaking the new budget!

Here are my steps in accomplishing this goal:

  1. Take stock of your pantry/stockpile. This will let you see what you have on hand, and you’ll probably see that you already have the ingredients for quite a few meals before you even have to open your wallet. Can of beans and a bag of onions? You’re halfway there towards a huge pot of chili. Tuna pouches galore? (guilty!) Try tuna croquettes, a tuna-based pasta sauce, or good old fashioned tuna noodle casserole (or even Tuna Helper…thanks to some awesome sales on Tuna Helper, my pantry probably contains about 40 boxes of the stuff for lazy, hassle-free dinners.
  2. Read your grocery store ads, and make note of the best deals (loss leaders). These are usually on meat, lunchmeat and veggies. When I see a great deal, I stock up in bulk, portion it out, and freeze it. For example, this week’s ads are compelling me to buy ground chuck (at $1.89 per lb), whole chickens (at .98 cents per pound), and seedless grapes (at .99 cents per pound). Combined with the deals I got in the past week or two (chipped ham for sandwiches at $1.98 per pound, a 10 lb bag of potatoes for $2.25, etc., I should be able to come up with some fantastically tasty (and super-cheap) dinners for the week.
  3. Plan your dinner menu for the week. This saves time, money and, most importantly, your sanity. Remember those chickens for 99 cents/lb I told you about?? Well, with careful planning, a 5 lb bird will easily feed us for 3 days, and the meals will be so different, it won’t get boring. I’ll show you my meal plan shortly.
  4. Keep lunches simple. And breakfast too. Here’s my answer to lunch: I stock up on lunch meat when it’s cheap ( like last week) and freeze it into pound-sized portions. Mike usually gets sandwiches made with said cheap meat and homemade/on-sale/bakery outlet bread. On the side I pack him brownies and cupcakes I make at home from mixes I bought for a quarter or less (sale+coupons), hopefully some fresh fruit (like those grapes for 99 cents/lb), and often some leftovers. Sometimes I’ll make a huge pot of chili or soup early in the week for dinner one night, and use the leftovers to put in his thermos for the rest of the week. It costs me around 50 to 75 cents a day to send him to work with a manly-man sized lunch. Breakfast is usually some cereal or scrambled eggs and toast.
  5. Try doing one meatless dinner per week. A simple pasta, some pierogies with fried onions and sour cream, filling bean burritos, or some black beans ‘n rice are just as satisfying as a hunk of cow. I know the man in your life might protest at first, but sweeten the deal with some homemade, fresh-from-the-oven brownies or cupcakes after dinner. This works especially well if you’re not the Betty Crocker type.
  6. When following a recipe, use slightly less than the called-for amount of meat. As I’ve said before, I portion my ground meat into 3/4 lb portions instead of 1 lb portions, which is what a typical recipe calls for (meat loaf or burritos or tacos or a casserole). No one is ever the wiser, and that 3 lb package of ground chuck just became 4 meals instead of 3 thanks to your craftiness. Good for your heart, great for your wallet!
  7. When it comes to meat, start big and work your way down. I call this method of cooking my 3-Day Plan. By this, I mean it’s usually much cheaper (and tastier) to purchase a whole chicken than boneless, skinless breasts, and you are able to stretch that bird into 3 nights of mouth-watering, unique dinners. Ditto for a roast as opposed to those pre-cut hunks of stew meat that cost about a billion dollars per pound. Don’t pay for small conveniences! You can buy a pork-butt roast and cook it up whole the first night, with some mashed potatoes and veggies on the side, and then re-purpose the leftovers the next night by whipping up some Carnita Quesadillas with the leftover shredded pork, some sauteed onions and green peppers, and a little leftover shredded cheese. Slap it on some flour tortillas, and grill it up on the stove-top grilled-cheese style. Serve some cheap -as -dirt rice on the side, with some mexican seasonings and maybe a can of kidney beans. The next night use the rest of the leftover meat in a stew or soup. If you’re stumped for ideas, the internet is a wealth of information. Some sites, like allrecipes.com, allow you to search for recipes based on ingredients. Be creative! I’ll show you my 3-day plan using the 98 cent/lb chicken below.
  8. Know which stores have the lowest prices for staple items you regularly buy! Especially if you are too busy to do the coupon dance. For example, I know Aldi’s has loaves of whole wheat bread for 69 cents. Dollar General has the cheapest olive oil if I need it. And so on and so on. Don’t get stuck paying a gazillion dollars at the grocery store on a jar of cajun seasoning you need for a recipe. I can tell you from experience: walk away from the overpriced, teeny-tiny spice jar that costs $4.99!! Go next door to your local dollar store and get it for 50 cents. Put it in a cute spice jar. I won’t tell. Trust me, the difference isn’t that noticeable.
  9. Be on the lookout for great sales that you can combine with coupons (especially double coupons!), and when you find them, STOCK UP!! This is how I came to have a pantry/freezer that is full of commonly used staples like frozen vegetables, shredded cheese, cream soups and butter that I got for pennies. While I wanted to do this post to show you can still get a TON of food without coupons, never underestimate the power of a great sale combined with a high-value double coupon!!
  10. Make your own snacks! I plunder the discount produce rack for overripe bananas and make some amazing banana bread or muffins. I also use all those cake/brownie mixes I scored for under 25 cents each to bake up some treats to have on hand. On the healthy side, veggies or crackers dipped in some homemade hummus are amazing! And frozen grapes are a sweet treat that’s right in my price range this week! Don’t pay for pre-portioned, pre-packaged snacks!! If you are getting store-bought chips or cookies, buy the whole bag, not the cutesy, individually packaged mini-bags! You’ll pay over double for the “convenience”.

 

My Shopping List for The Week

(Notice that I usually buy more than what I need for the week when the prices are right, freeze it, and save it for later. So, in actuality, I’m spending less than $20 for the week. Cherry-picking the best-0f-the-best deals each week and buying as much as you can afford or store can add up to tons of $$$ saved. Each week I use a combination of what I’ve newly purchased, and items I’ve stockpiled previously in my pantry or freezer.)

  • 4 lbs of ground chuck at $1.89/lb (which can be divided into 5-6 portion sizes for dinners) On sale at Shop ‘n Save this week (and at Giant Eagle until Thursday as well)
  • 2 4 lb whole chickens at 98 cents/lb (one for this week, one to freeze for later!) On sale at Shop ‘n Save this week, but you can usually find whole chickens anywhere for not much more! Giant Eagle also has fresh boneless chicken breasts on sale for $1.98/lb this week if you’d rather go that route.
  • 3 lbs of seedless grapes at 98 cents/lb (you can freeze grapes too!) On sale at Shop ‘n Save this week
  • 2 loaves of wheat bread (69 cents each at Aldi’s)
  • 1 pint of milk (we don’t drink milk, just use it in cooking) $1.19
  • Flour tortillas (99 cents at Aldi’s)
  • 1 package of generic American cheese for Mike’s lunch sandwiches (99 cents)
  • Beans for chili (I usually use black, kidney and great northern beans) $1.50 for all at Aldi’s. Note: buying dry beans is waaaaay cheaper. I love beans, and plan on starting to use the dry version, which requires an overnight soak. MUCH cheaper, MUCH healthier….slightly less convenient.
  • Red or yellow peppers (in the summer, I’d get this from a friend’s garden for free…now that it’s cold outside, I’m stuck paying ridiculous pepper prices. These babies can cost up to $4 PER POUND at the regular supermarket, but luckily, Aldi’s has 3-packs for around $1.50. This summer I’ll be growing my own out back in my garden!)
  • Spring Mix for salad (99 cents at Aldi’s)

(This all equals out to around $25, but, as you can see, I’m buying enough meat to be the basis of at least 2 weeks worth of meals. If you only bought what you needed for the week using the sale prices I’ve noted this week, your total would be around $10 for my shopping list. Yours may vary depending on what you have on hand, but remember my shopping tips above to get the best deals and the lowest prices! Remember, this is just an example!)

In addition to the items on my shopping list, I’ll be using some things from my pantry/freezer/fridge: onions, potatoes, rice, tomato paste, shredded cheese (frozen from a great sale+coupon day when it was nearly free!), frozen veggies, spices, garlic, lemons, cornbread, olive oil, butter, etc.

The Week’s Meal Plan

(I’ve included links to some of my favorite versions of these recipes below, but feel free to get creative! Use up what you have on hand, crack open those recipe books your grandma got you for Christmas five years ago, and get cookin’!)

  • Monday: The week starts off with a great big pot of chili. I use a recipe I adapted from this Jamaican Me Crazy Chili recipe. It’s VERY flavorful, and a just a little bit different, but still has that classic chili taste. Feel free to omit or substitute items if you don’t have them on hand, I do. Not only is this a great meal for the start of the week (I’ll probably make some corn muffins or corn bread on the side), but now I have a ton of leftover chili to pack in Mike’s lunch for the week so he has something hot to eat.
  • Tuesday: It’s time to bust out the bird! A simple dinner of Roast Chicken is a nice change-up from the chili last night. I usually make some homemade mashed or scalloped potatoes on the side, and pick a bag of frozen veggies (in winter) from my stockpile in the freezer.
  • Wednesday: Leftover roast chicken makes for excellent Chicken Enchiladas! To complete the South-of-the-Border theme, I usually do some Mexican rice on the side using my rice cooker, and maybe a can of re-fried beans from my pantry.
  • Thursday: I work late on Thursday, and there’s still some life left in that old bird, so tonight I’ll probably use the rest of the meat to make a nice, hearty chicken noodle soup. But first, I make my own homemade stock using the chicken carcass, some herbs, and some onions and carrots and celery I have leftover from Thanksgiving. The soup will taste 100 times better with the homemade stock!! On the side I might make some biscuits or rolls, I usually have the refrigerated kind handy from recent sales to make it easy on myself. A nice salad with the spring mix and some dressing from my stockpile will round out the meal.
  • Friday: To be completely honest, Friday is a day where we will order a pizza half of the time. Mike is super exhausted from a long week at work, and I don’t get home from work til around 8:30 or 9 pm, so a coupon for a $5.99 pizza delivered to our doorstep is a godsend sometimes. Or we might just have some of the leftover chili from earlier in the week to finish it up before it goes bad. We often make some simple grilled cheese sandwiches on the side to go with the chili, using up any leftover sandwich bread from the week. Mmmm…
  • Saturday: I’ll defrost one of my 3/4 lb packages of ground chuck and make a Taco Lasagna. We love mexican! This uses the rest of the tortillas from the package we bought for the enchiladas as well. And I always keep my own special Mexican spice blend on hand. Cheaper than traditional Italian lasagna (damn you, ricotta cheese!), but just as tasty!
  • Sunday: I work til 8 pm and usually don’t feel like slaving over the stove since it’s the end of my work week. We will probably do something simple like frozen pierogies and salad, as well as raid the fridge for leftover Taco Lasagna. I usually do a batch of cupcakes or brownies or banana bread for dessert as well, so Mike can have it in his lunch all next week.

There you have it, my low-cost menu plan for the week! Next week it’s back to coupon-clipping and building up my stockpile! I’d love to hear your low-cost menu ideas in the comment section of this post (I’m always on the hunt for some new ideas!)

Thoughts On Baking Bread from Scratch…The Art In a Humble Loaf…and a Rare 40 cents off 1 Fleischman’s Yeast Strip Coupon to Print

My sister makes AT LEAST a loaf of bread every day using a Wolfgang Puck bread machine I gave her last Christmas (it cost only $40, which INCLUDED shipping!! It retailed at almost $200! But that’s another story…) Anyway, her family adores her homemade bread. She makes a variety of different kinds (and sometimes brings Mike and I one of her concoctions πŸ™‚ ), and it’s healthier and fresher than anything available in the store…not to mention made with love.

But is it less expensive???

One problem with baking homemade bread is the cost of yeast. While the price of other homemade bread ingredients isn’t particularly pricey, buying yeast the way it is sold at the supermarket (often in little individual packets, or “strips” of packets) is by no means frugal, and there is rarely a sale or coupon to help offset the cost of what would otherwise be a very frugal bread-baking endeavor.

Because of this, I often wonder, is it worth it? I have a nice little bread machine in the closet collecting dust that I’d love to experiment with. But with sales, deals and coupons nearly every week that allow me to buy my bread and buns from the grocery store from 20 to 90 cents, is it actually worth the time, effort and money to make my own bread? Don’t get me wrong, I’m an avid quick-bread baker (banana, zucchini, and the like), but REAL bread always seems tedious and expensive…I’d whip out the calculator, do the math, and realize it would cost me 50 cents more (and 2 more hours) to bake my own loaf of bread rather than pick it up form the grocery store up the street. Frugal activity, my arse…

Yet I am inexplicably drawn to doing it. Baking bread is primal and ancient, and common to cultures all over the world. That’s what attracts me to it. The physicality of kneading and rolling dough releases stress, encourages patience and instills a sense of pride in the baker. Every loaf of bread (I think) tastes different…the hands and moods and unique ingredients of the baker add a flavor that can never be effectively replicated from loaf to loaf. Or from baker to baker.

That’s why I get very happy when I do see coupons for yeast…finding inexpensive yeast is the key to making homemade bread a truly frugal activity. With that in mind, I’m happy to share this 40 cents/1 Fleischman’s yeast. If you enjoy baking bread or making dough at home, print as many of these coupons as you can and save some dough… on your dough.

Another strategy to save money on yeast costs is to buy in bulk. You may have to do a little detective work to find a bulk yeast source in your area, but once you do the savings are HUGE. A few good places to start: your local Sam’s Club or Cotsco’s, any health/natural food stores in your area, or do an internet search for bulk yeast. In the long run, buying those little packets of yeast from the grocery store is going to cost you big time. If you’re a devoted baker, it’s worth the investment to buy yeast in bulk.

Once you get that bulk container of yeast, it will last around four months if you store in correctly in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Freezing is not recommended, but I know plenty of people who do store their yeast this way to increase its longevity. For more information on yeast, and how to use and store it properly, check out this handy FAQ article from Breadworld.com

And if you’re interested in baking your own bread, prepare to be amazed at the variety of loaves there are to be created! Yet another reason my bread machine collects dust is that I was never sure where to start…the options are overwhelming and endless, and they all look equally delicious when I see them in picutes (or in person) . From Indian Naan Bread, to French Baguettes, to Potato Bread; the plethora of recipes I come across are downright dizzying.

Here are some great blogs/websites to get you inspired and excited (and provide you with helpful recipes…often with step-by-step picture instructions…don’t be afraid like me!! Have a go at creating the “staff of life”!)

  • Wild Yeast: Everything you wanted to know about baking bread and more, with fantastically artistic picutes.
  • The Fresh Loaf: Techniques, recipes and much, much more.
  • Half Baked: Forget the bread for a minute and check out the recipe for the Two-Bite Peanut Butter S’Mores. MMM…
  • Chowhound: This recipe-sharing site allows bakers from all over the world to share their delicious recipes. Perfect for those of us who delight in experimenting with ethnic ingredients and unfamiliar flavors!

I wish you the best of luck with any bread-baking experiments! One day (soon!) I’m going to dust off that bread machine and give it a go…or better yet, mix, knead and roll my dough old-school style like my Italian grandmother used to do…her hand clenched around a rolling-pin weapon, her face streaked with flour war-paint…

I think the most delicious bread is a combination of love and frustration/anger. A wise woman once told me that baking bread is like raising a child. The first half of the process is hard, diligent work… putting everything you’ve got into preparing, kneading and shaping the raw dough, and the second half is watching your creation grow (excited and terrified) into a finished loaf, coddling it a bit the whole time…worrying it won’t rise as it should… and waiting always, expectant. Wondering… did I do it right??

Frugal (and easy!) Baking…Carly’s Mock Toffee (It’s INSANELY Addictive!)

 

Even Better Than the Real Thing...

 

Ok guys, I think I have an addiction. With eating this stuff. Damn and blast you Carly!! (my friend)…Seriously though, this is probably one of the easiest, cheapest, tastiest dessert/snack recipes out there…when I first tried it at a party I couldn’t believe how simple the ingredients/instructions were!! This is great for an after-school treat…or an awesome snack to bring to a cocktail party or a friend’s dinner party. Tastes BETTER than toffee…but it’s so, so simple to make!! Anyway, next time you need to bring something sweet somewhere, and don’t have a lot of time (or baking skills for that matter, like me), bring this and everyone will be kissing your…feet…

 

Carly’s Mock Toffee

 

You will need:

  • 2.5 to 3 sticks of butter
  • 1 and 3/4 cups of brown sugar
  • Club Crakers (about a sleeve, enough to cover a cookie sheet)…yes, you can use other brands/varieties of buttery crackers, but NO the finished product will not be as good, so do yourself a favor and just get Keebler Club Crackers for this recipe! (I think they are actually on sale at GE right now!)
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • Preheat an oven/toaster oven to 350 degrees. Get your taste buds ready!
  • Line a 9” by 13” cookie sheet (use one with a slight lip to it, like a jelly-roll pan) with foil and add a heavy dose of Pam/similar cooking spray.
  • Melt the butter on low to medium low heat in a sauce pan. After butter is melted, add the brown sugar and bring to a SLIGHT boil. BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN!! Stir the mixture constantly for around five minutes.
  • Spread a single layer of the Club Crackers over your foil-lined cookie sheet. Pour the butter and brown sugar over the crackers and bake at 350 degrees until bubbly (this should take 5-7 minutes).
  • Take out of the oven and immediately spread the chocolate chips over the cracker/butter/brown sugar mixture with a spatula while everything is still pipin’ hot.
  • Place the cookie sheet in the freezer, and leave it there until hardened. (around 15-30 mins)
  • Take the cookie sheet out, pull out the foil, and fold your mock toffee concoction in half. Place the whole folded dessert in a large Ziplock bag and go to town haphazardly breaking everything apart into small, bite-sized chunks.
  • Serve and enjoy!! DO NOT mail me any consequent dental bills for cavities resulting from any excessive, prolonged snacking on this stuff. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!
  • WARNING!! If you don’t plan to eat this immediately (and you should!)…keep it in the refrigerator or the crackers will get soggy and the chocolate will start to melt.

 

Sleeve of Club Crackers (75 cents at the highest, 35 cents during a good sale)

Butter (up to $2…if you got it at GE this week, around 25 cents)

Brown sugar (25 to 75 cents depending where you bought it/coupons/etc)

Chocolate chips (depending on how much you use, and where you got them…50 cents to $1.50…there is a coupon for chocolate chips in one of the recent coupon inserts…or check out your local Aldi’s)

 

Total Cost of Super-Deliciously Addictive Dessert: $1.75 to $5.00, depending on how crafty you are with purchasing your ingredients (READ THIS BLOG!!).

No matter what the cost, this stuff is worth EVERY penny… πŸ™‚Β  Happy Munching!!

As always, please leave a comment at the end of this post (or click on the comment tab at the beginning of it)…and if you don’t want to miss out on any deliciously cheap recipes/coupon deals/frugal tips a subscription is ALWAYS free!! Just click the SIGN ME UP button and all posts will be delivered right to your email inbox!!

Frugal Baking: The World’s Tastiest, Cheapest Banana Bread…Without Ever Turning on Your Stove!

Fast, cheap, and easy... πŸ™‚

I have found THE PERFECT Banana Bread Recipe!!!

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about this recipe. As much as I’d like to be, I’m not a baker at heart (I long to posses the necessary flair with eggs and butter to be in one of those Cake Wars competitions on TV). In an ironic genealogical role-reversal, I never inherited my mom’s love of baking…and just as ironically, she doesn’t share my love of cooking…hence me and my sister being raised on a diet ofΒ  fish sticks and tuna noodle casserole. πŸ™‚
But, adding insult to injury, I LOVE (and so does Mike) sweet treats and homemade muffins and breads. Enter this lovely little recipe for banana bread from one of my friends. ItΒ  just happened to come into my life when I had an overabundance of eggs from last week’s bounty of printable egg coupons,Β  and a hefty bag of (8) ripe bananas I found in my local Shop ‘n Save’s discount produce rack for 99 cents. (Check in the produce section for a discount rack at your local Shop ‘n Save!! In addition to the bananas, I’ve found grapes at about 1/3 of the normal price, often just because two or three grapes were crushed, and bags of romaine/leaf lettuce for 1/2 price because there were a few brown spots on the outer leaves. In the case of the bananas, they were ripe and ready to eat, instead of green and in need of a few days of sitting out on the ol’ shelf in your house…PERFECT for banana bread!

Anyway, I never considered myself someone who could bake from scratch…not even a quick bread like banana or zucchini bread. I’ve always used the overpriced mixes, or bought them from the bakery in the store. After trying this recipe, which cost me about $1 to make, I’ll never go back to my old ways again! $1 got me a nice sized loaf (6 thick slices) of banana bread, and 6 banana muffins.

Theoretically, I had a muffin for Mike’s lunch each day, plus one extra… and a loaf of bread to snack on or freeze for later (banana bread is easily frozen and enjoyed later). In reality, everything was gobbled up within 2 days, so I’d recommend baking a double batch, and secretly freezing the second loaf/muffins if you want to save something for later…it’s that good!! No preservatives, additives, or chemicals…and it only cost me around $1 to make (a double batch, obviously, would cost around $2). Enjoy!!

World’s Tastiest (and Cheapest) Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 mashed bananas (use very ripe bananas)
  • 1 and 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup plus 2 TBS sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cut vegetable oil
  • 2 TBS sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

The Method:

  1. Here’s the great part…if you’re baking this in hot weather, this bread will cook just as well in a toaster oven as in you regular oven, keeping the kitchen blessedly cool! Set the toaster oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a loaf pan with butter or margarine.
  2. You’ll need three bowls: in the first bowl, mash up the peeled, ripe bananas (I like to use a potato masher…brand new Pampered Chef Masher I found at a resale shop for 99 cents! Props!). In the second bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and baking soda. In the third bowl, (and this is the hardest part, but just think of it as a great workout for your triceps!) whisk together the eggs and sugar until the texture is fluffy and light, about 5 to 10 minutes, then slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil while continuously whisking.
  3. Combine bowls #1, #2, and #3, and add the sour cream and vanilla extract. Gently fold everything together until well blended. (If you have them on hand, you can now add dry nuts as well).
  4. Bake banana bread in the loaf pan for 45 min to 1 hour. Loaf is done cooking when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. You will have some leftover batter. Line a muffin tin with muffin papers and bake a batch of muffins after the bread has finished. These should take a bit less time to cook them the bread, maybe 30-45 minutes. Again, get out your trusty toothpick if you’re unsure!!
  6. Eat and enjoy!! Slice this up and freeze if you’d like (after wrapping it in protective plastic wrap, of course! Always use protection! πŸ™‚ )

Cost Breakdown

  • 3 Bananas (try to find ripe bananas on the discount rack at your local grocer) 25 cents
  • 2 eggs (I used the doubled 55 cents off 2 cartons coupon to reach this price, but there were several great egg coupons available in these past weeks that could have potentially made the egg price even cheaper!) 15 cents
  • Sugar 30 cents
  • Four 10 cents
  • Baking soda and other spices/vanilla (very small amounts of each, and I usually purchase these at an Aldi’s, Dollar General, or Big Lots to get BIG discounts on supermarket pricing) 30 cents

Total Cost: $1.10...or only around 9 CENTS per serving!!! Take that Betty Crocker and the bakery department at all my local grocery stores!!! And trust me, this recipe tastes WONDERFUL!!

Please feel free to give it a go and comment below with your thoughts/suggestions!! I’m always looking to improve on a baking recipe, especially since I’m a self-proclaimed bake-a-phobic!!

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