Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eating Organic on a Budget: Part 2

I used yesterday to e-a-s-e you into the basics of eating organically on a budget. Today, I'm going to stretch it just a little. Joining a co-op, shopping locally, and growing a garden were among the wonderful suggestions we received, but they weren't the craziest by far. I'm going to save the most extreme suggestion for last!

Today, we're going to go just a bit deeper. After all, eating organically isn't something that happens overnight, is it? Whether you're just starting out on your organic journey, or whether you've been blazing that trail for decades, all of us started somewhere. And I'm going to guess that somewhere didn't include a trip to Whole Foods for every.single.item on the least not the first trip. {smile}

One easy way to save money and still eat organically is to avoid packaged items and make what you can yourself. {Stay tuned for a couple of homemade yogurt recipes!!}

Gem, one of our wise forum friends, pointed out something very important to keep in mind every time you visit the store: Just because a box of Oreos is organic doesn't make it healthy. VERY GOOD REMINDER. My kids in particular seem to think the word 'organic' is a synonym for 'healthy'; and the truth is, it's just not.

Packaged cookies, crackers, cake mixes, and the like can, indeed, be organic. That does give them a benefit over their conventional cousins: Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Zesta, and Betty Crocker. If, however, you rotate that pretty box with the big "ORGANIC" label just 90 degrees and read the nutrition facts and ingredient list, you will certainly find sugar, salt, and a host of other ingredients found in conventional food items.

Making your own snacks, cookies, cakes, crackers, and breads at home gives you the ability to control everything that goes into your food, and subsequently, your body. And, you get the added bonus of paying for real food, not a pretty box or a high-end organic brand name.

Remember, you can take any recipe and make it organic just by buying organic ingredients. If you're an experienced or fearless cook or baker, you can also experiment with your old stand-by recipes to make them dairy-free, gluten-free, yeast-free, or sugar-free. All it takes is a little time and knowing what and how much to substitute.

A few of my favorite sites are listed below. If you're new at all this, I hope these sites will give you a place to jump from. If you're an old pro, I bet these recipes will be excellent additions to your repertoire. {We are a gluten-free family, ergo most of my favorite sites boast GF recipes. If your family isn't GF, either enjoy these recipes anyway or leave us a comment to your favorite DIY snacks, cookies, breads, or cakes.}

Simply Sugar- and Gluten-Free

Silvana's Mousse Cloud Pie from Elana's Pantry

GNOWFGLINS: funny name, seriously good, traditional food

Health, Home, & Happiness

Recipes from Keeper of the Home

P.S. From our family to yours, we pray you have a blessed and exciting Resurrection Sunday!

Written by Lindsey @ Penny-wise

Friday, April 22, 2011

Eating Organic on a Budget: Part 1

Recently, I (Lindsey) asked our SCM forum friends for their wisdom. I wanted to know if they did anything really out-of-the-box to eat organically AND pinch pennies. I did get a few wacky suggestions, but I'll try just about anything once.

So, I'm going to start a series on eating organically on a budget. Our friends at SCM (who, by the way, are not affiliated with Penny-wise directly...they just give us super great writing material, which we use with permission) are all health-conscious, money-saving, home-educating mommas who submitted some fabulous tips, which I am excited to share with you.

Here are just a few very BASIC and easy things you can do to cut your grocery costs but not nutrition or quality:

  1. Join a co-op. We have several recommended co-ops on our site. See if one delivers to your area or can ship your order to you.
  2. Shop local. Find a farmers' market or CSA (community supported agriculture) and invest into your community. With gas prices at over $3.60 across most of the nation, you're paying a high price for those organic apples that came from California or, worse, Chile. 
  3. Grow a garden. You don't have to have 10 acres to grow some of your own food. A family in a condo or apartment can grow enough herbs for their family in a few pots on the balcony. If you have a small yard, even better! Plant a couple of tomatoes or strawberry plants in pots in your backyard, or build a raised bed or two and grow some squash, onions, herbs, and jalepenos. If you are interested in growing your own organic produce, you might find helpful. We also recommend Rodale's Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening.
And all that is just the beginning. Keep checking back for more posts in this series.

If you do anything out of the ordinary to eat organically and not break the bank, would you share it with us? We'll do our best to share your tips with the world.

Happy Eating!

Written by Lindsey @ Penny-wise

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Breakfast, Brunch, or Supper Dish

I just have to share another recipe from the More-with-Less cookbook. If you haven't figured it out by now, this cookbook is a great investment in any kitchen. I made this Cheese Strata this evening, and it was gobbled up without complaint. It is so simple to make, and I'll bet you already have everything on-hand to throw one together later this week.

Here's how it goes:


12 slices bread (I used homemade, gluten-free bread, and it was fantastic!)
2 cups cheese
2 2/3 cup milk
4 eggs, beaten
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dry mustard

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread. Lay six slices in the baking dish. Sprinkle with the cheese. Layer the next six slices of bread next. Then, mix the remaining ingredients well and pour over the bread. Bake 40 minutes, or until puffy and golden.


  • My homemade, gluten-free bread is smaller than a "regular" loaf. I still used 12 slices, but found that a 8x8 pan was large enough.
  • I sprinkled 2 cups of the cheese between the bread layers and reserved the remaining 2/3 cup for the top of the strata. I topped the strata with the cheese during the last 10 minutes of baking.
  • I also added about 1/4 tsp of black pepper to the milk/egg mixture.
  • I served my Cheese Strata with grilled chicken-apple sausage, and then realized we were having a version of breakfast or brunch for supper. This meal is really versatile. We're saving our small amount of leftovers to have for breakfast tomorrow morning!
  • Make this dish gluten-free and dairy-free by using GF bread and rice milk instead of regular milk.
  • The cookbook gives a variation of adding vegetables along with the cheese between bread layers.
Thank you, More-with-Less, for another wonderfully simple, wonderfully inexpensive meal!

Submitted by Lindsey @ Penny-wise

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Homemade Electrolyte Drink (a.k.a. Pedialyte)

Gaeleen says, "Good thing we've been ill, or I wouldn't have thought to submit this recipe! One thing I have figured out is that eight children and two bathrooms is not a good equation when gastroenteritis strikes the home..."

This recipe is from Gaeleen's family doctor.


1 liter of water
8 oz. orange juice (must be orange for potassium)
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt

Shake well and use liberally to prevent dehydration.

What a handy recipe! Not only are Pedialyte and its generic forms really expensive, but they also contain high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors. This is a wonderful alternative that is additive-free and inexpensive.

And Gaeleen, we hope your bunch gets to feeling better really soon! 

Submitted by Gaeleen

Monday, April 11, 2011

Golden Potato Bake

At the recommendation of one of our submitters, I purchased the More-with-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre. Boy, was that ever a good investment! I am constantly amazed at how I can make simple, but hearty food that's also healthy for our bodies and our budget. Today, I wanted to share a very easy, very inexpensive recipe from that cookbook:

Golden Potato Bake

2 lbs. potatoes (about 6 medium), peeled
2 cups sliced carrots
1/3 cup dry milk powder
1 Tbsp. butter or Earth's Balance
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheese, optional

Cook the potatoes and carrots together in salted water until tender and preheat oven to 350. Drain the veggies, saving some of the liquid, and mash using a beater or hand masher. Add the dry milk, butter, and salt and pepper. Beat together, adding the vegetable liquid a little at a time, until fluffy and creamy. Turn into a 2-quart, greased casserole dish. If using cheese, stir it in just before baking. Bake 25 minutes.

The cookbook suggests making potato cakes with any leftovers. This, I plan to do later in the week (assuming we even have leftovers!).

Recipe from the More-with-Less Cookbook.

Submitted by Lindsey @ Penny-wise

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wheat- and Gluten-free Pancakes


2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup white bean flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup fresh buttermilk
1 Tbsp. honey
3 egg whites beaten stiff (this is optional)
2 Tbsp. canola oil (this is optional)
Mix all ingredients except the egg whites for 30 seconds with a whisk or if using electric use low speed. Fold in egg whites gently. Drop by tablespoon onto a lightly oiled griddle. I use a cooking spray, and only re-spray if really necessary. Cook until golden brown over medium to low heat, turn once. This recipe will serve 4 people. If you are using oil in the recipe, then use only 1 egg white.
Submitted by Linda @ Penny-wise

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Made-in-a-Minute Play-Dough


1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 Tbsp. cream of Tartar
1 Tbsp. oil
1 cup boiling water, mixed with the food coloring of your choice

Put all dry ingredients in a bowl and add the oil and colored, boiling water. (Mix the boiling water and coloring in a Pyrex bowl before mixing with dry ingredients.) Mix vigorously until well blended. Store in plastic sandwich bags.

Neat Idea: "My nursery school teacher friend who gave us this recipe many years ago also used fruit tea bags mixed with the boiling water to make a lovely scented dough. She often used plum or black currant to give it a gorgeous color."

Submitted by Linda @ Penny-wise