Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thrifty Thursday #3: Scratch That Off Your List!

Could you tell I was working hard on that title?

Hello, Friends! I know it's been a while, but, as usual, I've just been too plumb busy or tuckered out to compose a coherent post. Believe me, it's better that way. I ramble enough as it is with out me rushing or being semi-conscious during blogging!

So, it is another Thrifty Thursday, and today I'm getting out from behind the sewing machine and into the kitchen. One of the best (and tastiest!) ways to save money is to make your own baked goods from scratch. This is also the healthiest way to enjoy your cakes, cookies, muffins and other treats. Now, I know that for somethings, it may seem cheaper to buy some items ready made, or even from a mix. In the long run, though, I think that once you get into the habit of making things from scratch everything will even out. And you might find that you can give up some things because you have replaced it with something homemade.

Now, if you have been reading my blog for a length of time, you know that I bake just about every Saturday. Sometimes I only get to make the kiddo's breakfast item and snack item, but that is a huge help. I like to do a majority of my baking on one day because I do not like firing up the oven for only one thing. This way I can run my oven all at once and bake more than one thing at a time. This saves money by conserving electricity.

I think I'm going to revert to my bullet structure here, cause I can sense some rambling and backing up in the near future!

  • Baking from scratch saves money because you are buying 1 ingredient with multiple uses. Yes, you may be able to buy a chocolate cake mix for around a $1 a box, but if you buy a can of baking cocoa for about $2.75 you can make a chocolate cake, chocolate zucchini bread, hot chocolate (made with actual milk, not boiling water!) and chocolate syrup for ice cream or chocolate milk. Talk about more bang for your buck!
  • Baking from scratch gives you more versatility and can be adjusted to your family's preferences. You could buy a loaf of bread for sandwhiches and then a bag of rolls for dinner. But if you make a batch of bread dough, you can have both!  Or, maybe Timmy likes plain chocolate chip cookies but Betty Sue like walnuts in hers. You can make one batch of cookie dough and split it in half for them both to take to school with their lunches.
  • Baking from scratch is healthier. YOU control what you put into your food. You can add whole wheat flour to your cookies, substitute some of your butter or oil with unsweetened applesauce, and eliminate corn syrup, food dyes, additives and preservatives.
Now, I could go on. (And you know how I can go on!) But I have the feeling that you can all get my point. If you are not use to baking and don't have baking materials, or you really want to embrace making more things from scratch, you may need to invest in some things. You will find that investing is and will be a recurring theme in these posts. You may cringe at the price of a rolling pin, but that is really a one time purchase, whereas refrigerated ready made pie crusts are only good for one or two pies. That rolling pin will make you pies for practically your entire life time, and maybe even your daughter's lifetime. That is an investment worth making and money well spent!

Before I get to the recipes, I would like to tell you about some of the items I have in my kitchen that I find invaluable to have. I am by no means Julia Child or the Cake Boss, so don't feel that you have to have them, or even agree with me! And by all means, if you have something you would like to share, I'd love to know about it!
  • Large Pyrex mixing bowls: I have 2 large and one really big one. And every Saturday all 3 of them get used at least once, if not more! I like Pyrex (or Anchor Hocking) because they are sturdy, easy to clean, and you can mix and bake in them.
  • standard size muffin pan: good for (obviously!) muffins, cupcakes, mini meat loafs, stuffin' muffins and cloverleaf yeast rolls. My pan has a dozen cavities, so my basic muffin recipe can be made in one batch.
  • 2 to 3 bread loaf pans: or even more! I like to make quick breads and yeast breads, and if you are inclined to make homemade bread for your family's weekly supply, it is a very sound investment. And they can stack together so that they don't take up much space.
  • a 13x9 oblong pan: I have 2 Pyrex, and 3 metal ones. And I have used each and every one on certain Saturdays. I make the kiddo's breakfast cookies, cakes, casseroles and brownies in them. And all but one of the Pyrex pans have lids, so I can store in them as well. Now, this may be a lot for some people, but I also make snack for our church refreshments on a regular basis, as well as making birthday cakes for my DH and children. I can make the cake for our family party, the children's friends party and the goody to bring in to school to share for a treat. These pans to not sit in the cupboard in neglect!
  • a glass 4 cup measuring cup: This, too, is a recent purchase. I wondered if I really would use it as I stood looking over the Pyrex/Anchor Hocking shelves at my local Kmart, $1 off coupon in hand. But, like the sheet pans, I do. I use it for measuring and mixing my wet ingredients for homemade bread and other recipes. And I have even used it for the DH's and mine scrambled eggs.
  • a glass 8 cup (2 qt.) measuring cup: I have a Tupperware version of this that I used for about 7 years before I started to become a bit leery at the thought of there being Tupperware scrapings in my muffins, pancakes and waffles. Then I purchased an Anchor Hocking one and gave the Tupperware one to Hubby for a sap dipper. This is the perfect size for a batch of muffins, chocolate chip bread, or homemade waffles. It is also used for pouring off the juices of a turkey or when straining homemade stock.
  • rubber or silicone spatulas: I have 4 of these. One is a very large one from Tupperware that I use for mixing up snack mix, granola or sauteing with. It doesn't really get the job done when it comes to scraping the sides of mixing bowls, so that is where 2 others come in. And then there is the double ended one that is more narrow for scooping out of jars with. You will never waste a drop when using one of these, and scraping the bowl clean is handy when it's time for clean up.
I'm pretty sure I'm missing a dozen things, but those can be for another post. It's time to get onto the fun part: recipes! I have posted these recipes before, so I will only be adding the links, but I'll be giving some hints and tips for each. And as I'm writing this, I'm thinking that this is going to be part one of a series because I have so many more basic recipes to share!

Boynton Breakfast Cookie Bars I make these just about every week for my kiddos! You can add what ever stir-ins that you and your family like. These have replaced the white bread toast and cheerios that the kids used to eat for about 2 1/2 years now. I would really like to figure out how to soak the oatmeal for this recipe, but just haven't had the time to experiment. If I figure it out, I'll be letting you know!
Chocolate Zucchini Bread While going over this post, I realized that I didn't include the sugar!! I feel like such a big goober. If you tried to make this, I SOOOO apologize! The sugar is now included in the recipe. Another note on this is that I no longer use canola or vegetable oil, I use olive oil. This is great for a snack or for breakfast. It's yummy with cream cheese, too! I use my food processor to shred the zukes, and take out the big seeds. I'm going to have to make a batch of this Saturday, I froze shredded zucchini for this purpose!
Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies I make these every week for the kids to put in their lunch boxes. I have taken to making these in the sheet cake pan and substituting 1/2 to 1/3 cup of the butter to unsweetened applesauce. I also do not use margarine or shortening any more. You could use coconut oil in place of butter, too. This recipe is really just your basic chocolate chip cookie recipe that I tweaked. If you don't have oat and wheat flour, you can use all purpose flour. By using the sheet cake pan I can save time and I have enough for the entire week for both the kids and my DH. (O.k., o.k., and I can filch a couple for myself!) They also seem to stay more moist in bar form, too.

Well, I was going to post a couple more recipes, but this has been long enough! Have a wonderful rest of your Thursday.

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