So it's been a minute since I've done a food post (uh like 3 months!) so I thought I'd bring it back with a homemade gift guide. Personally, I think nothing beats a homemade gift for a co-worker, neighbor, friend, or especially to round out a gift you're giving to someone special. Here's a list of some of my favorites. . . .
BOURBON Pecan Pie from Smitten Kitchen -- I made this for my husband for Thanksgiving last year and the Christmas that same year. He was psyched.
Your friends will love these Slutty Brownies from What's Gaby Cooking -- I mean, look at them!
For the women on your list, you have to make this granola from Joy the Baker. One year I made it for my mom and aunt, filled a mason jar with it, and tied it with a bow. It was one of the most talked about gifts! This year I'm making it with pistachios, pepitas, and dried cherries for a Christmas colored version.
If you're trying to impress someone, making marshmallows yourself is the way to do it! Smitten Kitchen is going to help us do it this year.
Your neighbors will love you for bringing over a still warm batch of these out of this world gingerbread muffins from How Sweet Eats. They are a warm hug of the holidays and would also make the perfect meeting my boyfriend / girlfriend's parents for the first time gift or Christmas morning breakfast. Basically, they are perfect.
We always make a bunch of hot fudge and caramel sauce for the holidays. People think you are really fancy and will love you for it! This peppermint chocolate version from Smitten Kitchen is on my list for this year. I'm also making this red wine version for my co-workers.
If you know a chocolate peanut butter lover, you MUST make these cookies from How Sweet Eats for them for Christmas! I made them for my dad's birthday and then my husband's birthday and they are always a hit!
These Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies are a labor of love but will be the talk of any Christmas party you bring them to. I've been making them for as long as I can remember and am so happy I found the recipe online. They are the holidays in a cookie, seriously.
If you're looking for a cookie to decorate, these sugar cookies from Williams Sonoma are fluffy and so perfectly vanilla flavored. You will be a hit with these plus some frosting and icing for cookie decorating with the kids! I also love adding peppermint chocolate chunks in the dough or dipping them in chocolate after they bake.
Speaking of peppermint, I added these to my list this year--the Christmas version of the perfect chocolate chip cookie! The great part about cookies is you can make a lot of dough (around the holidays I'll double the cookie recipes I make) and freeze it in cookie dough balls to bake off when you're ready for gifting. This is a huge time saver for me and something I always do but especially during the busy holiday season!
I'm making this bundt cake for a co-worker's holiday party later this week and can't wait -- cranberry and strussel are not only two of my favorite things but also seem so quintessentially holiday to me. Thinking about bringing this punch and a bright, Christmas-y salad (spinach, pomegranates, candied pecans, and cheese) to my parents' Christmas party. These coffee blondies (pictured at top) were the suprise of the season. I used to think I was more of a cookie person but these blondies converted me. I may have added extra coffee and just a hint of bourbon--just a hint!
If your recipients are sensitive to gluten or dairy, I definitely recommend the recipes in Celebrations, as I"m sure you know by now! I also made awesome chocolate peppermint vegan cookies from the Oh She Glows App. Other ideas: Thinking these look amazing and I'm pretty sure I need to see how close these come to the other chewy chocolate gingerbead cookies above! I have a bag of quinoa flour in the pantry just tempting me to try these, too. If you're sensitive to dairy, definitely check out the Enjoy Life brand -- I was skeptical but they're REALLY good.
Other homemade favorites include biscotti, homemade spiced nuts, chocolate truffles, pretzel rods dipped in chocolate with Christmas sprinkles, chocolate and white chocolate bark, homemade beef jerky, loaves of cinnamon pull apart bread, and fancy bundt cakes (this one would be amazing with the hot fudge above!)
What are you making this holiday season?
You guys, how is it already the end of September?
At the beginning of this month, I found out that I would be getting Danielle's book, Celebrations, early to share some recipe photos before the book's release and I was clearly psyched. If it's possible, making Danielle's recipes from Celebrations has made me so much more excited about her book. You know, it's always hard to know how good gluten, dairy, and refined sugar free recipes are going to be but everything I made was fantastically good and total crowd pleasers--as you'll see!
First up was the Labor Day celebration with my parents eating ribs, "corn"bread, tomato and watermelon salad, and lemon bars. Everything was great and my dad swore he was only ever eating this as corn bread again!
Next, we made the salmon and it was SO GOOD. David was blown away by the blackened rub and we've used it on chicken and in burgers since and it makes everything so delicious. Plus, we all know that I'm up for anything salmon or stone fruit so the combo made me very happy!
Then we had our weekend of hosting three couples in three days. First up was chicken dinner with peach cobbler for dinner. I can't say enough good things about it-- juicy, sweet, spiced peaches plus a nutty, rich topping--so amazing. I want some right now.
The next night we had the cabernet braised short ribs with vegetable puree. The ribs were so perfect. Our friends asked for seconds which is always the best compliment.
For dessert I made these chocolate salted caramel panna cottas and didn't even give them the full time to set up and they were still amazing. The nuts on top were the perfect compliment and the panna cotta was rich but not overwhelming--blissfully well balanced.
If I had to pick a favorite recipe ( which would be really unfair! ) I would probably pick this chocolate cake we had for my friend who is gluten and dairy free. First, it was an amazing cake and second she was able to have great birthday cake, which doesn't always happen when you're gluten and dairy free. Danielle has said this was her goal for the book--to give people with dietary restrictions the ability to enjoy delicious foods. This cake -- goal accomplished!
Finally, this past weekend we celebrated my mom's birthday ( happy birthday, mom! ) with a fun backyard party and since she loves whoopie pies, I knew I had to make the ones from Celebrations. They didn't turn out as pretty as Danielle's but there was only one left at the end of the night and one party guest ( not gluten or dairy free! ) said they were the best whoopie pies he's ever had and many other agreed.
I've had rave reviews on everything I've made from Celebrations and it's made me SO excited to make so many more things from the rest of the cookbook. First up, I can't even wait to have a halloween party and make everything from that chapter -- spider cookies, caramel apples, mummy dogs; I'm dying. I also NEED to make literally everything from the autumn dinner party section--cider cocktails, harvest salad, butternut noodle carbonara, and chia poached pairs--yes please! Obviously I can't wait to make everything from the Thanksgiving and Christmas sections too. If it's possible for me to be more excited about the holidays than I usually am then it's totally happening this year because I'm even more excited to bake and cook.
Even if I hadn't gotten an early copy of this book, I would totally recommend Danielle's book. It is SO GORGEOUS.
It's seriously a coffee table cookbook--I'm a very visual person so this is really important to me, but of course the recipes have been amazing too and people can't even tell they're gluten or dairy free. This book has brought me so much joy and I know if you decide to get one for yourself that it will for you too. I can't wait to hear what you make if you get a copy too! Her book comes out tomorrow, Sept. 27th and you can get it on Amazon or Target or lots of other retailers. Enjoy!
Okay, by now you guys know how totally obsessed I am with Danielle Walker's third and latest cookbook, Celebrations. Though I don't have to eat gluten free or paleo, I prefer to because it makes me feel better. With that said, it's often SO difficult to eat this way at celebratory gatherings but Danielle's cookbook has really helped with this. We suddenly decided to be extroverted and had three couples over in three days! The best part, other than of course seeing our friends, was that it was the perfect opportunity to make a ton of recipes from Celebrations.
For Friday night, we went for roast chicken, corn bread, and the watermelon tomato salad from Celebrations that I've been making non-stop--like literally four times in just a few weeks! So fresh and delicious.
We followed it up with the amazing peach cobbler I talked about earlier. The caramelizing peach goodness was unreal with the cashew topping.
Saturday night, we couldn't figure out at first. Our friends said they were bringing quinoa salad so we flipped through the book to find a good pairing and couldn't stop staring at the short ribs. I mean . . . short ribs braised in wine? OH YES. We paired it with parsnip and carrot puree and we couldn't stop talking about how much we loved it. If you want to make a special meal, I can't possibly recommend the short ribs and puree enough.
For dessert, we decided to make the chocolate, salted caramel panna cotta. When Danielle recommends reading recipes in advance, she means it. I forgot how long this would take to make and hustled to get it into the fridge. It didn't have the full time to set but it still came out well! I've never had panna cotta before but I thought it was delicious.
On Sunday, we had a birthday celebration for a friend so I knew I had to make burger bites and chocolate cake from the birthday section. Uhm, the cake? One of THE BEST cakes I've ever had! We all agreed that no one would be able to tell it was gluten free and my friend's husband (who is not gluten free) was first to say the cake was good. It was very chocolatey so I was in heaven and happy to have vanilla frosting to balance it out. I can't even describe how much I wish we hadn't just finished off the last slice. . .
Everything I've made so far I've loved and I already have a to-make list a mile long. At the top? Pumpkin spice lattes, asparagus leek soup with poached egg, ginger peach sangria, caramel-pecan sticky buns, whoopie pies, and literally everything from the Halloween and autumn dinner party sections (caramel apples, spider cookies, mummy dogs, curry pumpkin soup, butternut sage carbonara, roasted autumn harvest salad, and chia-poached pears). I could go on but I meals to make!
Don't forget--if you want the 7 free recipes you need to pre-order before the 27th!
Celebrations Peach Cobbler
Are you peach cobbler fans? There are few things that I love more than fresh peaches and that plus fall spices? Oh man. When David and I saw the peach cobbler in Celebrations, it was one of our first priorities.
I honestly wasn't so sure if I would be into it because the topping is made primarily of cashew butter--would it be gooey? Would it seem undercooked? Of course, I decided to make it for people who eat gluten daily and are pretty into it so I knew I would get their honest feedback.
We all loved it. It was rich and full of flavor-- I mean look at all of that caramelizing peach goodness. It was comforting in all of the best ways. The cashew flavor was an exceptional pairing with the peaches and spices. I even modified the recipe by halving it (except I forgot to halve the sweetener!) and used a different pan size and it still came out beautifully. This recipe is gorgeous, will please everyone, and is the perfect summer dessert.
If you pre-order Danielle's book, you can get 7 FREE bonus recipes (including pumpkin bread pudding, cherry pie, chewy molasses cookies, and more!) too! Just email CelebrationsGiveaway@againstallgrain.com by September 27th to get the recipe bundle.
Don't mind me, I'll be dreaming of peach cobbler and wishing there was still some cobbler in the fridge. . .
Hi food friends!
As we talked about last time, I've been making recipes from Danielle Walker's new cookbook, Celebrations, to show you why you should buy her book. It. is. stunning. Have you seen her flip through it on Youtube? If not, watch it below! If you were on the fence about buying it before hand, you will be SOLD after watching this--you can see all of the holiday and celebratory sections and a lot of the recipes. The pictures are gorgeous and I just can't wait to make everything.
One of my all time favorite dinners is salmon and green beans so I KNEW I had to make the blackened salmon with stone fruit salsa. I can't even. It is SO GOOD. Like, David was SO impressed--and if you know him (or read the blog) at all then you know that this is rare. The method of preparing the salmon, the rub, the salsa, and the all around flavor were just amazing.
I never would have thought to put stone fruit with salmon but somehow it just WORKED. I haven't used blackened seasoning before and shy away from it at restaurants because I worry about it being too spiced and overwhelming. This wasn't. The spice and heat were definitely there but it was balanced by the fruit and avocado in the salsa and just made the perfect bite.
There are still a few weeks left of summer weather and this is the PERFECT meal to make to celebrate it! Though I can't give you the recipe, it is in the preview of the cookbook on Amazon so you can go see it for yourself and trust me, you need this in your life!
Hi food friends!
By now, I'm pretty sure you know that I love a freezer meal. At the end of every summer, I channel my back to school anxiety into making freezer food. I try to make a variety: proteins, snacks, breakfasts, and quick eats. Here's what I made this summer to have easy food on hand for those brutal first few weeks back to school.
I've learned that what always leaves the freezer first is grab and go snacks so I stock up on ones I know we'll love. This summer I made two energy bite types: Cherry almond (above) and "brownie" bites (below).
What I love about these is I know that they'll be about 50 calories a pop so I can have 2-3 for a snack and they're so easy to throw into a lunch box. Plus, I made them myself so I know there are no funny ingredients or added sugar. I also made these trail mix bites I've talked about before, which take a little longer to make but are so delicious. Honestly, they're almost gone!
No back to school snack prep would be complete without granola bars. This recipe from Smitten Kitchen is my go-to because it's lower sugar than so many I've come across. Personally, I really don't want a cup of sugar in my granola bars. Usually I adapt the recipe by changing it to like 1/4-1/2 a cup of chocolate chips and filling the rest with dried fruit / seeds / nuts. I love making my own combos based on what I have on hand.
I also made these protein oat bars, except instead of blueberries I used raspberries and it was a very good idea.
I made these pineapple muffins a while ago and they are a frequent pick for me because they're healthy, low in sugar, and delicious. If you're into the tropical vibe, I would go for these. They freeze pretty well for muffins too.
I dare say these chocolate chip zucchini muffins were the recipe find of the summer--that's how much I liked them. I had to put them in the freezer before I ate them ALL. ( I still managed to eat two or three! ) They are moist and delicious. Can't stop won't stop. I also made these paleo banana zucchini muffins but I'm not a fan of recipes that only call for coconut flour so I should have known I wouldn't love them. I'm just not into the coconut flour flavor but if you are, do it!
I thought I was all done with the zucchini baked goods but then my aunt dropped off a giant zucchini so what could I do? Make chocolate zucchini bread muffins, obviously. I do like breads but I prefer muffins since they are better for grab and portioned out.
Pancakes maybe aren't what you'd think of when you think grab and go breakfast, but if you pop these in the toaster (or even microwave), and add some syrup and fresh fruit, you have a fast breakfast. I adapted these from poppy seeds to chia seeds because I never have poppy seeds and chia seeds are a great substitute.
I also made these paleo almond coconut waffles. They were a little dry for my taste but I was psyched that I just happened to make them on national waffle day. Plus, I just buried them in toppings, not that I would ever do anything like that.
One thing I've realized from making many freezer foods over the last few years is that proteins are key. Sure, snacks are great but when it comes to dinner time (at which point in the day I have ZERO energy or interest in spending forever in the kitchen) I need something delicious and fast. My go to is meatballs, which is why I made SO MANY MEATBALLS. The above are turkey + basil and these spinach and feta ones from How Sweet Eats which are SO GOOD that I've made them twice more since!
I also did a meatball recipe show down. I made these bahn mi meatballs from Not Without Salt and these Bahn Mi meatballs from Pinch of Yum.
The winner? Hands down the Pinch of Yum ones. I had never used the lemongrass paste before but it gave them an amazing flavor without the consistency of the chopped herbs. Next time I would reduce the salt since my paste had salt in it and my meatballs became pretty salty ( not that I would complain about that! ). I would also crisp them in the pan and then throw them in the oven next time instead of trying to just pan cook them. I like them so much that we devoured the batch I'd intended to freeze so I'm making them again and actually putting them in the freezer! They're great to throw in a noodle bowl like I did above, with quinoa, in a stir fry, in an actual bahn mi sandwich, or just on their own!
I've made these Indian Spiced Chicken Burgers before but decided to turn them into meatballs when I saw this marsala paste / sauce recipe. I can't wait to make the sauce some fall night, defrost the meatballs, throw them into the sauce, and cook up some quinoa and a veggie. I'm so excited for it.
Obviously I made these black bean burgers too because you know I"m obsessed with them and I know they won't stay in the freezer long.
Yes, this did have to be its own category! Though not the healthiest choice, we often have cookie dough in our freezer. This can be problematic if you get into the habit of having cookies every night--so don't do that!--BUT if you can contain yourself, it's great to have cookies without having a whole cooked batch sitting around your house. Plus, if people come over you can just throw a few in the oven to have--and fresh baked cookies for guests is pretty much the best ever.
We have healthier peanut butter, oat, chocolate chips ones, and these from Smitten Kitchen which are my absolute favorite. I also make these every summer and then bake them off the night before open house so parents get a handout and a cookie when they come to my room. First impressions are important and cookies really help me out! I find this recipe very adaptable--I have taken things I like from other recipes to adapt the recipe and make lots of variations--I added some of a strawberry white chocolate bar we had from s'mores instead of chocolate chips to a small batch. I'm not upset about it.
I had to make Real Food Whole Life's dairy free pesto. If you've ever read a food post here, I've probably talked about this pesto. I'm pretty sure I'm its biggest fan. I'm pretty obsessed with it and it freezes SO WELL. I take the small ball jars and just throw 'em in the freezer. When I'm making zoodles or pasta or even turkey burgers, I grab one or two out and defrost 'em--easy dinner!
That's a wrap! If you're wondering how this is all in my freezer right now. . . I am too. Here are some tips: Pick the right container--often this is a plastic bag / Ziplock so that it can squeeze into tight spots in the freezer. Just remember things like the granola bars are more fragile ( than say meatballs ) so they'll need a structured container. Also, labeling is your friend. Sure, you know what that pesto looked like originally but a few weeks from now you'll be all "uhhhh what is that green stuff?" Yea, trust me, labels.
Any you want to try? Comment if you make anything!
When I heard that Danielle was coming out with a cookbook of gluten free and dairy free holiday recipes, I was really excited. It can be hard to figure out what to eat at celebratory gatherings when you have food restrictions or just want to eat healthy and Danielle knows this better than almost anyone.
When I first came across her blog a few years ago, I was stopped in my tracks by her health journey. Essentially, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at 22 and was very, very ill because of it until she turned to healing her body through food. This resonates with me so much. Though I was never any where near as sick as Danielle, I can empathize with her as we do have parallel journeys of being sick and turning to food instead of medicine (you can read more about mine here, if you're interested). Bonus-- her recipes are amazing and she has such a bright, bubbly personality even with everything she's been through.
So, you can imagine how totally psyched I was when I read in her newsletter ( which you can subscribe to HERE - highly recommend! ) that she was going to have a launch team of "regular people" who will be reading and making recipes out of her book the month before it's released to the public AND that I could apply to be one of them! Then I found out I was part of the launch team and oh man, let's just say David knows how much I couldn't stop talking about it!
Throughout the month of September, I'll be cooking recipes from Celebrations so you can see how fantastic her recipes are and feel confident that buying the book is totally worth it. If you have dietary restrictions, just want to eat healthier, are interested in paleo, or just want delicious food, you have to check out her book! You can read more about what's in the book and see some photos of the DELICIOUS food in her blog post on it here.
Danielle wanted to get us the recipes as soon as possible so she sent us 8 of them so we could make some over the long weekend. I told David he had to help me and we still had a hard time narrowing it down. We decided to have a fun Labor Day menu of heirloom tomato, watermelon, and basil salad, ribs, "corn" bread, and lemon bars for dessert with my parents after we went out on their boat.
How beautiful is this bread? Swoon. It's not corn because that's inflammatory for some people but it's a delicious substitute. As my parents said, corn bread is often dry but this was so moist and perfect. My dad even said he would much rather have this than cornbread!
I'm always uncertain how I feel about the fruit + vegetable combo but I loved this salad--so fresh and quintessentially summer. I'm dying to go grab some from our fridge right now!
Ribs just seem like the perfect Labor Day treat and they were amazing. When we were out shopping for Labor Day deals, we found the absolute perfect outdoor table and chairs for more than half off! It was so fitting to have ribs at our outdoor table for the first time. I wish there were still leftovers of these but of course they were gobbled up.
We finished the meal with lemon bars. I love the tart lemon with the sweet strawberry combo. The filling was creamy and delicious and it's all gluten and dairy free and has no refined sugar. YES.
Look at those cuties!
My copy of Celebrations is supposed to arrive at the end of this week so if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go stalk our mailbox. Have a great rest of your long weekend, friends!
P.S. Check back later this week for my post on Danielle's blackened salmon with stone fruit salsa--I can't wait!
Happy last day of August!
I probably shouldn't be celebrating that considering I went back to work this week, but, even though starting school again is stressful and overwhelming, I love what I do. In any case, I've been sharing recent recaps of life events, but I thought it might be fun to share a recent recap of food. Ready?
For a while there, our food was basically whatever was convenient and at times that meant take out or microwave dinners but, when we finally got into our house, I was happy to be able to buy new groceries (even if I still wasn't really cooking anything). This breakfast became an obsession. Yogurt + granola + summer blueberries on our porch for the win!
Continuing with the go-to theme, we know I love chia pudding and I don't know whose brilliant idea it was to add peanut / almond butter and jelly to the equation but mad props to them. Loving it.
Can I brag for a second? We have the sweetest new neighbors. They brought over this pumpkin bread which is THE BEST pumpkin bread I've ever had. Seriously--and I've had great pumpkin bread. It could be that we hadn't had homemade food in a while or that it came at a time when we were basically out of groceries but I think it was mostly that it was perfectly seasoned and had nuts AND chocolate chips in it. SO GOOD. Thank you new neighbors!
In a recent recap post, I talked about having BBQ chicken taco cups and the obsession with slow cooker BBQ chicken continued. We had these bowls with quinoa, BBQ chicken, and veggies for many nights during and after our renovation week. Low prep and high flavor for the win! Plus, they're so versatile--you could use the chicken in bowls like this, on top of nachos, with some eggs, in a burrito, or on a salad.
Avocado toast + all the fruit -- dream breakfast! Still digging the convenience factor but obsessed with summer fruit and produce too.
Speaking of summer produce, every year I am obsessed with cherry tomatoes. I can't even. They are SO. GOOD. Obviously I added some of the dairy free pesto with some pasta (you could also do zoodles!) and it was a dream dinner.
Now that we finally have a functional kitchen again, I've been upping my smoothie game to smoothie bowls again. And, BREAKING NEWS: I've gotten David to enjoy green smoothies. Usually when I make smoothies he says they're not sweet enough--like he basically wants a fruit milkshake. The few times I have been able to convince him to try a green smoothie I've made he's like "I can taste the spinach." So, I have no idea what made me think I should make him a smoothie bowl but I did and he LOVED IT. He even said "good job" after he ate it, which on the David food compliment scale is basically the top. WIN. Moral of the story: make a smoothie into a smoothie bowl (toppings always win) and never give up.
I am LOVING peaches right now. Even if it means I have to put up with the fruit flies (WHY?), I will keep them on my counter. Current fave snack that you will not be able to get me to shut up about? Peach + almond butter. It is THE BEST snack.
Since I can't help myself, we had a ton of peaches lying around and ripening too quickly in the (HOLY HOT) summer heat so I had to use up a bunch fast. On the less healthy side, I wanted a cake and this paleo caramelized peach upside down cake was calling my name. I couldn't resist. I mean, look at it.
Other things I love? TACOS. Tacos for life. I LOVE mango salsa. It's so easy and fresh. I cheated and bought the pre-cut kind in the grocery store because a) lazy and b) I hate cutting mangoes. #firstworldproblems. I added fresh lime zest to this batch and it was a really good decision.
Last but not least, I'm finally back in the salad groove. While we were moving and functional kitchen-less, it was hard to make salads and find the time to prep the ingredients. Now that we're settled, I'm finally getting back into the routine and loving it. I've noticed that after a while I start to crave healthy food and when I finally find my way back to it, I remember why I love it and wonder why I thought I'd be happier eating junk. This salad was everything.
So, that's what we've been eating lately. Hopefully it gave you some good ideas, especially during back to school when it can be hard to find food inspiration. Even though most of us think fall when we think back to school, there's still plenty more summer so take advantage of all of the wonderful produce and warm days--fall and pumpkin spice will be here before we know it!
If you've bought a house then you know how tight money can get, but if you haven't then know that when you buy a house you will not be interested in spending money on much of anything else. One of the biggest things we spend money on is is food ( no surprise there! ). So, we knew we wanted to focus on limiting that expense and also use up our pantry to prepare for moving. Here's what we did to limit how much we spent on food:
1. Make things yourself: This is not always successfully cost effective so know that first, but most of the time you will save yourself at least a little money by making food yourself. For example making black bean burgers at home is way cheaper than the grocery store. ( I haven't bought store made black bean burgers in a while but I think they are $5-6 dollars for 4 burgers and if I make them at home I would spend $2 on beans plus another few on frozen corn--which it takes several batches to use up--and I usually have some pasta sauce and bread crumbs on hand. So I end up spending about half as much to get 6-8 burgers, which is pretty great! ). We also make our own pasta sauce sometimes and I always make my own peanut butter because I hate the added sugar, salt, and oil in commercial peanut butter--plus it's so easy!
2. Eat at home: This ties into #1 pretty well and I'm sure you know this already but eating dinner out is really expensive. Also, going out to eat when you're trying to save money is just not fun so you're always tempted to spend a bit more--and then there's tip and taxes, etc. So, eating at home is your best bet.
3. Choose wisely: If you do go out to dinner, remember that restaurants usually give large portions that are very calorie dense. So, it will be both cost effective and healthier to choose to have some appetizers as your dinner or even to split a meal with your date or a friend instead of both getting something or consider just having water since soda or alcohol are both pricier and more calories. It's all about balance. You can also try to stretch it into two meals by taking half home with you for lunch the next day.
4. Plan ahead: Y'all know that I love my Sunday meal prep and one of the reasons is because I make a list of the meals we'll eat and write down all of the ingredients. When I stick to the list then I only buy food I'm certain I'll use and then I won't waste money or ( usually ) cave to impulse buys. Plus, and you know this, don't go hungry so you are less likely to grab everything off the shelves.
5. Price Shop: Figure out where you can find the best price on the things you buy most. A prime example? We buy quinoa every few weeks since it's a staple for us and it's about half the price at Walmart that it is at our grocery store so it's worth the trip!
6. Cheap Staples: Think of what you can make with some cheap staples. Think bananas, oats, eggs, beans, and seasonal produce. You'd be surprised what you can make with cheap ingredients, like overnight oats, breakfast cookies, breakfast for dinner, black bean burgers, nachos, etc.
7. Shop Sales: Don't be afraid to buy what's on sale--even if it's not ready to eat. Most grocery stores have sales flyers that you can read before you head to the store so you can plan. However, when you get there you might find that what is on sale isn't ready to eat--buy it anyway! For example, this week peaches were on sale but really not ripe so I threw them into a bowl with a few bananas ( it works! ) and let them ripen. It didn't cost me anything to have them sitting on the counter for a week and next week when they're ready to eat they'll cost twice as much at the store.
8. Embrace Leftovers: Yea, leftovers are not everyone's favorites but if you're trying to save money, you'll have to learn to love them. Sometimes the best way to use up leftovers is to make them into something else. For example, you could buy chicken ( on sale ) and grill it to use during the week. One day you could put it in a stir fry, another day on a salad, and yet another in a burrito or wrap. Finding ways to use up leftovers can be a fun challenge--if you think of it that way.
9. Treat yo self: This one may seem counter-intuitive because you're like "how can I treat myself when I'm trying to save money?" I think that the key to success with any long term goal is balance. If you want to eat healthier, you can't expect yourself to never have sweets or a cheese burger; it's just not realistic. The same is true with money. Now, I'm not saying spend a lot of money on your treat; that would defeat the purpose, but if you plan a small treat that is a reasonable price then it will help keep you from feeling deprived and sad about the fact that you can't go have a steak dinner. For example, raspberries are something I love and I often pick them up at the grocery store but then it wasn't cost efficient or practical. However, when they went on sale, I grabbed one and was really excited about it-- and it made me feel like I wasn't even trying to save money, score.
What are your tips for saving money on food?
If there's one thing I can get excited about, it's snacks. At one point, a student saw how many snacks I had in my desk at work and basically asked if I thought an apocalypse was coming or something. "Uhm, no. I just have a fear of being without snacks," I said. So true, so true. Here are my favorite snacks:
Found these at Marden's for $2.50!
1. Beef Jerky: First of all, the best beef jerky of all time was made by my father-in-law and now is made by my husband. For those of you who can't cajole your husband into making you beef jerky ( or, heck, who has the time? ), my favorite brand is Krave, pictured above. My husband claims not to like this kind but I'll just let you guess who ate the last of it. Keep in mind that anything dehydrated from fruit to beef is going to be calorie dense--i.e. don't eat the whole bag in one sitting ( the struggle is real ! ).
2. Chia Seed Pudding: Okay, I'll admit right now to being hipster. Go ahead, judge. The thing is, I really do like chia seed pudding. My husband is not a fan and my students think it is the weirdest thing they've ever seen ( Yes, this is the stuff that you see on T.V.-- Chi, chi, chi, chia! ), but I still like it. First of all, it's a great source of protein, like all seeds. Second of all, the versatility makes it a total win for me. On my to make list: one from Paleomg's cookbook, this Cherry Jubilee one from Real Food Whole Life, and obviously this colorful one from How Sweet Eats. I mean, come on. Plus, you can top it with toasted coconut or fruit (so, obviously I'm in) or even jam or whipped cream ( or coconut cream for those fellow lactose intolerants! ).
3. Energy Bites: We've totally talked about this before, but they travel well, freeze beautifully, and are easy to make so yes, I'm a bit stuck on them. My favorite, and David's favorite, are probably these from Eat, Live, Run. As he said, they taste like cookies--uhm, yes please.
4. Smoothies! If you haven't noticed yet, I'm pretty obsessed with smoothies. First of all, anything fruit and I'm there. Second, they are easy and fast to make and travel well in mason jars. Third, since I'm often running late or going somewhere, they are perfect to take on the road. Usually I make them for breakfast but in the summer I just want smoothies all. the. time. In this same realm, I also love green juices--is there anything that can make you feel healthier? But it has to be like, I woke up late and in 20 minutes I'm going to have lunch anyway because no one is full after drinking a green juice, no one.
5. Toast: Okay, before you roll your eyes, toast can be wonderful ! When we stay with my parents probably 9/10 times I'll have sprouted grain bread and almond / peanut butter toast for breakfast. I'll top it with fruit or granola to give it some extra oomph and texture. There's also Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter on toast with some milk, which is obviously the snack of champions. And, since I'm still a hipster, don't forget about avocado toast because toast + perfectly ripe avocado + a little sea salt (and maybe some lemon juice) = one of the best simple snacks ever. Give toast a chance!
What are some of your favorite snacks?