Food and Recipe Articles

My grandmother always used to say, “If we didn’t need food, we’d all be rich!” This may be true. But then life would be a little less pleasurable. Still, there are ample ways to make great food cheap, make perishable food last and make the grocery budget stretch like nobody’s business.

Plus the tips in these articles are filled with practiced wisdom for practical solutions, novel ideas, and inspiring concepts like The Ultimate Restaurant Cheat Sheet to and awesome recipes like Muffins So Amazing They’re Insane and how to make homemade coffee cream better yourself to save a bundle, that make cooking fun and rewarding for you and your family. Bon appetit!

In a Pinch You Can Use This for That

Have you ever discovered you’re all out of a certain ingredient just when you’re in the middle of preparing a recipe? I hate when that happens. And I know myself well enough that I don’t want to run to the store.

For me, an unscheduled trip like that could easily cost $40, maybe more. That’s just how impulsive I can be. I’ve learned that when I’m in a pinch— I need a pinch-hitter!

 

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Here is my list of cooking and baking substitutes that I refer to often:

Need an egg

Combine two tablespoons of water, two tablespoons of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

Thicken gravy

If you’re out of flour, you can substitute pancake mix up to three tablespoons. It works well, just don’t go over three tablespoons or your guests will be looking for the maple syrup.

Breadcrumbs

Crumble 1/2 slice of bread and mix 1/4 cup broken crackers to substitute.

Baking powder

For each teaspoon of baking powder, substitute: 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

Baking soda

You need to use 2 to 3 times more double-acting baking powder than baking soda. Replace acidic liquid ingredient in the recipe with non-acidic liquid, i.e. water instead of vinegar or lemon juice, etc.

Buttermilk

Combine one cup of fresh milk and one tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice. Read more

7 Awesome Ways to Use Up Stale Bread with Delicious Results

Who doesn’t wince at the thought of throwing food in the garbage that is past its prime? Take bread for instance. It’s no longer fresh. So what can you really do with leftover bread, rolls or baguettes that will turn them into something great, almost if by magic?

Here’s the secret: Grilling, toasting, baking or frying gives bread a second yummy life. In fact, the following are all best when the bread is not fresh. Prepare to be amazed.

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French toast

In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices stale bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Heat lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place bread in pan and cook on both sides until golden. Serve with butter and syrup.

Croutons

Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a crushed clove of garlic. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Read more

7 Awesome Ways to Use Up Stale Bread with Delicious Results

Who doesn’t wince at the thought of throwing out food that’s past its prime? Take bread for instance. It’s no longer fresh. It’s hard and dried out. Tossing it in the garbage does seem like the only thing to do.

But wait! Provided it hasn’t begun to grow mold, you really can turn leftover bread, rolls, or baguettes into something deliciously awesome.

Here’s the secret: Grilling, toasting, baking or frying gives bread a second yummy life. In fact, the following are all best when the bread is not fresh. Prepare to be amazed.

26006816_m

French toast

In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices stale bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Heat lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place bread in pan and cook on both sides until golden. Serve with butter and syrup.

Croutons

Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a crushed clove of garlic. Cut bread into cubes, crouton-size. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Read more

13 Ways to Save Money Eating Out at Restaurants

The average American household spends most of its money—62% of an average $56,000 in annual expenditures—on just three things: housing, transportation, and food. If you’re trying to cut costs and save money, food is the place to get started.

Reducing restaurant visits and increasing your home-cooked meals is a surefire way to cut food costs. And when you do opt to eat out, here are 13 realistic, ethical and pretty awesome ways to keep your tab lean!

 

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1. Special Menu

Many restaurants offer a reduced-price menu for seniors and children. If you or someone in your party qualifies, be sure to inquire if the special pricing doesn’t show up on the regular menu. Typically these discounted menus offer smaller portions at significantly reduced prices.

2. Skip the Sodas

Skip the pricey drinks and dubious “free refills” altogether and you’ll save at least $2 a person. EC reader Lisa B. rewards herself whenever she opts for water by stuffing two bucks into her savings account.

Read more

How to Make Perfect Iced Coffee

As a coffee lover, there’s one thing I just didn’t get until quite recently: iced coffee. What?! The idea left me well, cold. Coffee is supposed to be hot. Very, very hot.

And then I made a fatal mistake. I accepted a sample of iced coffee in a popular coffee shop. It was strong, sweet, creamy and icy, icy cold. Wow.

 

Making iced coffee

The Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Iced Coffee

 

I needed to figure out how to make this myself—it was that good—because as much as I might want iced coffee again, I was not going to pay the outrageous price to have someone else make it for me. Read more

How to Prevent Cheese From Turning Green and Moldy

Call me picky, but I prefer my greens to be those of the garden variety, not something growing on my cheese. 

Don’t you just hate when that happens? You buy a block of cheese and before you can use it up it turns into something that looks more like a science fair project than a tasty dairy product.

 

I’ll admit it. Back in my carefree spendthrift days, I’d toss the cheese in the garbage when it turned moldy—oblivious to the fact that I might as well be throwing dollar bills away.

True, we could opt for buying just a few slices at a time from the deli counter, but that’s too expensive. And unnecessary. I can save more than $2 a pound off the best price at the supermarket if I buy in bulk from a discount warehouse like Sam’s Club or Costco. And that presents a storage challenge.


MORE: Food Cost-Cutting Strategies for Every Lifestyle


Whoever said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” must have been a deli owner. Think about it. With all that cheese in those cases, have you ever seen one growing green mold? Never. 

All I know about the proper care and handling of cheese I learned from one such person. That kind deli owner introduced me to the two archenemies of cheese: bacteria and air.

Read more

Einstein in the Kitchen or Let Them Eat (Carrot) Cake

I have a special treat for you today. It’s a recipe. Normally I sell this recipe for $1,000 but it’s your lucky day.

OK, I’m just kidding about that, but honestly, it’s worth even more than that because in the world of cakes, this one is worth its weight in gold, which as I update this post is about $1,531 per ounce.

 

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You may already be aware of this, but I’ll say it anyway: In this world there is carrot cake and then there is scrumptious absolutely to-die-for carrot cake—the kind of cake you’ve only experienced with a $200-per-person meal at a fancy hotel (you do that all the time, right?).


MORE: Dinner-in-a-Box is Not What I Thought!


It’s the kind of carrot cake that would surely be named the Grand Champion in a competition at a fine culinary school like Le Cordon Bleu Baking and Pastry Arts Program if I’d ever had such an opportunity to compete.

This is the cake that’s going to make your friends and family think you’re a genius! And don’t be surprised when it becomes your signature cake—the one they request for their birthdays. Imagine how beautiful this cake might look on your Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter buffet table.

As you peruse this recipe, you may be tempted to make a few adjustments. Please do not do that. You’ll think 1 1/2 cups oil is excessive. It’s not. And the pineapple. Seriously? Yes. Do not doubt me.

This is the perfect recipe both in ingredients and proportions, so please follow it exactly. It’s the recipe you’ll be tempted to keep secret and good luck with that! 😉

Read more

Here is the Secret to Healthy Eating on a Budget

Recently, I got a frantic letter from Barbara, who lives in Florida. It seems that her teenage son has taken up bodybuilding and her husband is adhering rigidly to the Atkins Diet, both of which are protein-heavy. Barb got through the first week with a major case of mixed emotions: Her husband lost 7 pounds, her son gained 4—and her food bill doubled!

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Can Barb keep her food costs down while still supporting her family’s healthy eating choices? I know she can. Special diets don’t have to be budget-busters. In the same ways her son and husband are adjusting their way of eating, Barb must adjust the way she shops.

Don’t pay full-price for protein

Tuna, chicken breasts, and lean beef cuts are always on sale somewhere. If you don’t want to store-hop, you can always find some cut of meat, fish, and poultry on sale in your favorite market.

Eat what’s on sale and if it’s a loss-leader (that means dirt-cheap in an effort to entice people through the door), stock up for the coming weeks.

Grab up the items that are marked down for quick sale because they are close to the “sell by” dates, and then freeze.


RELATED: Chicken Labeling: Prepare to Be Surprised


Buy carbs in bulk

Find a warehouse club, ethnic market, health food store, or food coop that offers rice, beans, oatmeal, nuts and, legumes in bulk—by the pound. Store dry items in the freezer to retain freshness.

Read more