Vintage Cooker

Save Money With Big Batch Cooking and Baking

On the practical side of cooking and baking, it just makes sense to do big batches.

You’ll have a messy kitchen to clean up either way, so why not double or triple the recipe and end up with enough left-overs to put in the freezer for those busy days when you don’t have time to cook a meal?

Vintage Cooker

My trusty, vintage Westinghouse cooker

One advantage of big batch cooking is taking advantage of good sales.  Especially good sales on meat, which can save you a ton of money.

Another advantage of having quick meals in the freezer, is that it re-routes that urge to stop for fast food!

We have a few favorite “big batch” meals that always freeze well and taste just as good out of the freezer as they do the day they’re made.  (Sometimes, better)

Our list includes: chili, spaghetti sauce, soup, broth, beef burgundy, and lasagne.

We also love our baked goods, so those big batches include: cookies, pies, muffins, and breads.

Whatever your family favorites are, they can probably be made in a large batch and frozen.

Speaking of favorites, I’ll share our favorite spaghetti sauce recipe.  I’ve never found a better one!  This is the recipe that I will make in triple batches and cook in that nice, vintage cooker pictured above.

Favorite Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

And for big batch baking, I will share the link to our delicious: Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

My Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

BENEFITS:

  • Having ready made meals in the freezer
  • Taking advantage of sales on ingredients
  • Cooking once, enjoying many times
  • Home cooked, quick meals instead of fast food

The average American spends $1200.00 per year on fast food.   Let’s be conservative and say that the ingredients for these quick freezer meals would cost half that amount.

MONEY SAVED:  $600.00!!

🙂

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Pear Butter Recipe

Yummy Pear Butter Recipe

When the pears show up in lugs in the grocery store, it signals to me that Autumn is coming near!

Pear Butter Recipe

Besides eating as many pears as we’re able, I always can fresh pears.  We enjoy having them in the winter with comfort food type meals.

After I have canned all the pears I want for the winter, the rest are designated for  Pear Butter.  I love pear butter and will flatly state that it’s far better than apple butter.  Just to prove it, I will share my Pear Butter Recipe!

Pear Butter Recipe

Wash, slice and cut out stem and seeds from the pears.

Put into large pot and cook in a small amount of water.  (I use whatever left-over syrup I have from canning the pears)

Cook until mushy and then put through a sieve to get the pulp.  Throw the skins into the compost.

To each cup of pulp, but 1/2 cup sugar.  Add some cinnamon to taste and some pumpkin pie spice (because…why not?)  Cook until thick.  Can the butter according to safe guidelines.  http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html

This recipe is great on toast, waffles, ice cream or straight from the jar!

Hope you enjoy!

BENEFITS:

  • The joy of canning 🙂
  • Making a fruit butter without preservatives
  • Making enough to have extra for gift giving
  • Enjoying the wonderful taste of pear butter in the middle of winter

Most fruit butters are $5.00 per pint.  A lug of pear is $10.00, plus about $3.00 for sugar will give you about 14 pints of butter!

MONEY SAVED: $57.00!!!

🙂

Mouth-Watering Meatballs

The Secret to Delicious Meatballs

I finally learned the secret of delicious meatballs!  I have the recipe and directions!!

Meatballs are a very versatile item to have in the freezer.  They can be tossed into casseroles, made into Italian meatballs subs, or my favorite…Sweet and Sour Meatballs!!

Best of all, I finally learned how to make tender, juicy meatballs with a recipe that’s large enough to have lots left over for another meal (or two)!

My recipe is very basic, but you can add whatever spices you want to change the flavor according to how you are going to use them.  Love how meatballs are so versatile!

Baked Meatball Recipe

3 pounds ground beef

2 eggs

1 – 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (your own of course)

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped onions or onion powder (optional)

Mouth-Watering Meatballs

Mouth-Watering Meatballs

Mix all ingredients by hand until mixed well.  Gently form balls about 1″ across.  Place on a jelly roll pan that has been lined with aluminum foil.  Bake for about 1/2 hour.  Test to make sure they are done.  That’s it!!

Mouth-Watering Meatballs

Forming loosely packed meatballs keeps them tender and baking them makes them juicy!  They will melt in your mouth!

Whatever is left after your meal can be taken off the aluminum foil and placed directly on the jelly roll pan and popped into the freezer.

Mouth-Watering Meatballs

The meatballs will freeze separately and you can transfer them to a freezer bag and take as many as you need the next time you want meatballs!  Easy peasy!

BENEFITS:

  • Homemade meatballs that you can season as you like
  • Easy meals that are waiting in the freezer
  • Saving money

Bags of ready to eat meatballs average $20.00 for three pounds.  On sale, I can buy hamburger for $1.99 / pound, plus a little extra for bread crumbs, eggs and onions.  If we eat a meatball meal once a month, that’s a savings of about $17.50 per month, x 12 months = $210.00 annually.

MONEY SAVED:  $210.00!!

🙂

homemade-bread

In Search of the Perfect Loaf of Bread

(Post written by my daughter, Amanda)

I’ve been starting to crave good, crusty bread. Grocery store bread tends to be filled with preservatives to keep it shelf stable for as long as possible, and I try to avoid unnecessary food additives. I could buy organic bakery bread, but that breaks the bank at $5 or more a loaf in our city. So, I seem to be left with only one good option – make it myself!

A lot of people, myself included, are at first intimidated by the idea of making bread. Having to “proof” your yeast, knowing when it has “doubled” in size, etc. can seem like a lot. However, after quite a few attempts with very few issues I can attest to the fact that it isn’t rocket science (and I would know, my husband is an astrophysicist.)

homemade-bread

The most important thing I can recommend is finding a good recipe that works for you. I personally recommend this one, from food.com: http://www.food.com/recipe/crusty-french-bread-101476 The recipe is simple enough to make two nice loaves without any difficulty (hopefully) and basic enough that you can easily fiddle around with different washes and baking options to make your ideal loaf.

A few more things to note:

Proofing your yeast simply means making sure your yeast is still alive. Always be sure to test your warm water on your wrist, much like testing milk for a baby. If it’s too hot for your skin, it could kill the yeast. If the yeast is active you’ll hear a quiet fizzy noise, like soda, coming from the bowl and the water will look a bit frothy.

Washes can drastically change the appearance and outer texture of your loaves. An egg yolk mixture makes the darkest crust. Egg whites give a nice bit of sheen and a slightly darker crust than no wash. Spraying water on the crust will make it crustier.

By far the best way to get a nice crusty, “proper” bread texture is to put a pan of boiling water on the rack below your bread while baking. I tried this on my latest batch and the results were fantastic!

A note on kneading – I am a cheater! I’m fortunate enough to have been able to buy a Kitchenaid with a bread hook, which makes kneading infinitely easier. If you don’t have a mixer that can knead for you, make it a family affair! Everyone can take turns and children LOVE to get their hands dirty in baking.

My last recommendation would be to keep notes on your variations. Write down washes, temperature, whether you used the boiling water pan, etc. so you won’t forget how you achieved your perfect loaf.

Happy baking!

BENEFITS:

  • Home baking is always better than store bought
  • Smell of fresh bread in the house
  • Satisfaction of learning a new skill

$5 or more for an organic bakery loaf
My batch of two loaves: About 50 cents per loaf

MONEY SAVED!!  $4.50 per loaf or $234.00 per year!

🙂

1956 Ball Blue Book Jams and Jellies

Ball Blue Book 1956 Jam and Jelly Recipes

Old recipes are things of beauty.

Looking through old recipes books is a lot like reading pages of history.  Recipes are a history of our tastes and habits as they change through the years, as well as a history of our economic and social changes.  Think of the differences in cookbooks from the 1930s, compared to now!

My hubby bought me a bunch of old recipe books at the thrift store and I found a home canning book to be especially wonderful!

I’m excited to share these recipes and found some of them to be quite curious, like Tomato Butter.  I’ve never heard of it!  Does it sound good to you?  Would you eat it?

Some others that sound fun are….Apple-Pineapple-Coconut Conserve, Gooseberry Conserve, Quince Honey, Elderberry Jam, Prickly Pear Marmalade, Bar-le-Duc, Ground Cherry Preserves and Maraschino Cherries!

Every winter, I enjoy jams that I’ve made the previous summer, and I’m definitely going to have to make some of these.  What better way to spend a crisp, winter morning than by sipping coffee, looking out over the snow covered gardens and daydreaming about spring, while eating homemade jam on toast?  Cozy!

These recipes are from the Ball Blue Book Home Canning of Freezing Recipes and Methods, 1956.  Please note that not all the recipes mention a hot water bath for preserving.  Please use safe and up to date home canning methods.

Hope you find a new favorite!

1956 Ball Blue Book Jams and Jellies

1956 Ball Blue Book Jams and Jellies

1956 Ball Blue Book Jams and Jellies

1956 Ball Blue Book Jams and Jellies

1956 Ball Blue Book Jams and Jellies

1956 Ball Blue Book Jams and Jellies

1956 Ball Blue Book Jams and Jellies

1956 Ball Blue Book Jams and Jellies

1956 Ball Blue Book Jams and Jellies

1956 Ball Blue Book Jams and Jellies

 

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread Recipe

Bag of Bananas Saves Me a Bunch

I scored an 8 pound bag of bananas for $1.48!

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread Recipe

Whoo!

I enjoy finding these, because, not only do we eat as many bananas as we can possible stuff into our faces, but we also have tons left over for making bread, cake or muffins!

Here’s my favorite Banana Bread Recipe:

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread

Cream together:Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread Recipe

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup shortening

Add 3 bananas and mash them with a fork

Add 2 eggs and mix well.

Combine:

1 3/4 cup flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Add to wet mixture and mix well.

Add enough chocolate chips and walnut pieces to make you say “Oh man, that’s going to be good”.  Sometimes, I also add some flaked coconut!

Grease a loaf pan or cupcake pan and pour batter in.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes.

Cool, remove from pan and enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread Recipe

BENEFITS:

  • Homemade is always better than store-bought
  • Wonderful aroma fills your home
  • No additives or preservatives

I saved $4.64 just on the bananas.  Out of this bag, I made three loaves of bread and two 9″ by 13″ cakes.  Banana bread in the store is a small loaf for $4.50 and any 9″ by 13″ sheet cake at our grocery store is at least $15.00.

MONEY SAVED: 43.50!!

🙂

Homemade Dog Food

Homemade Dog Food: aka Doggy Stew

Doggy Stew is what we call the “wet” food we feed our dog, Heidi, in addition to her regular food.  (Always check with your vet before changing your dog’s diet)

A few years ago, we had what we called a doggy nursing home, because we had 3 old rescued dogs with various maladies and found that giving them warm doggy stew on top of their kibble, was a great way to coax them into eating if they were being finicky.  It also gave them some extra nutrients, so it was win-win!

Canned dog food can get very expensive and the ingredients are sometimes called into question, so we have found that this homemade dog food is what works for us.

Here’s the recipe!

Homemade Dog Food

Doggy Stew:  Homemade Dog Food

3 pounds fresh beef, chicken or pork

1-2 cups sliced carrots

1-2 cups chopped green beans

16 cups water

1-2 cups rice

1-2 cups oatmeal

Brown the meat and veggies in a large pot.  Add 16 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 4 hours or until meat is tender and falls apart.  Add the rice and simmer another 1/2 hour.  Depending on how thick this mixture is, add 1-2 cups of oatmeal to make a thick stew.  It will also thicken a bit more as it cools.

Doggy Stew

Doggy Stew

 

Place in the refrigerator overnight.

 

The next day, I take a 1/2 cup measuring cup and scoop 1/2 cup mounds of the food onto cookie sheets and pop them in the freezer.  Once they are frozen, they can be put into bags and you can take a single serving out and warm it in the microwave!  I also add a little water at this point to make more gravy.

Doggy Stew

I give Heidi 1/2 cup of stew, twice a day over her kibbles.  She gobbles it up!

Life Lessons I've Learned From My Dog

The average can of dog food with meat and veggies is $1.50 per 12 oz. can.  If you feed your dog 1/2 cup, twice a day, over a year, that’s $ 363.00.   Doggy stew costs on average $ 180.00 per year (less if you find good sales or raise your own veggies)!

MONEY SAVED $183.00!!

🙂