Eat Well, Spend Less: Homemade Substitutes for Grocery Staples

Has anyone else noticed the rapidly rising price of food lately? That the usual grocery run is costing more and more? I have, and I’ve been comparing receipts with several other food bloggers. The results of our research has prompted us to bring you a series to help you spend less while continuing to eat well.

Spearheaded by Jessica of Life as MOM, our series Eat Well, Spend Less will touch on topics such as buying (and storing) food in bulk, frugal meals, menu planning, and much, much more. Besides Jessica and myself, on board and digging deep to help you eat better on a budget are also Shaina, Mandi, Katie G, Alyssa, Carrie, Katie K , and Tammy.

The series will run on Mondays or Tuesdays for the next 3 weeks, depending on the blog.  Simplebites will contribute on Mondays and we’ll link up everyone’s posts for the week on Tuesday. Get ready to learn a lot and be equipped for the rising costs of everyday food.

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Five Simple, Natural Recipes for Homemade Pancake Syrup

Pancakes are somewhat of a religion in our household, but contrary to what most people think, we don’t enjoy them exclusively with pure maple syrup. Yes, around here it is easily accessible and somewhat affordable, but I like to change things up for pancake toppings from time to time.

A favorite of ours is fresh yogurt with apple butter, but we get even more creative than that and today I’m showing you some of those variations. Pictured above from left to right: buttery maple, honey-orange, molasses-cinnamon, vanilla-rice syrup, and blueberry syrups!

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Spices 101: Three Options for Grinding Spices (Recipe: Quick Mojo Sauce)

If you’ve got a pepper mill, then you are off to a great start to grinding your own spices. Why grind your own? Well, we’ve already discussed the benefits of buying whole spices, so now you’ve got to break them down. Fortunately it’s easy to do and well worth your time. One sniff of freshly pulverized cinnamon will likely convert you forever.

As with most kitchen equipment, a simple tool is best for grinding spices; here are my recommendations for three different types.

1. Mortar & Pestle

I love pulverizing whole spices by hand in a mortar and pestle, because I feel like I am connecting with women all throughout history who have done the same thing. It’s like kneading bread by hand, it brings a satisfaction that only working ingredients by hand can provoke. [Read more…]

Ten Ingredients You Absolutely, Positively, Must Have on Your Spice Rack

Today Simple Bites is honored to welcome spice enthusiast extraordinaire Lydia Walshin from The Perfect Pantry. After hearing about our Spices 101 series, she readily agreed to guest post and we are most fortunate to have her share her wealth of knowledge with us.

Welcome, Lydia!

My first kitchen, the one in the third-floor walk-up apartment I moved into post-college, had no pantry. No cupboards, no shelves, just a bit of a ledge behind the stove where I lined up a few essentials (not a great idea, but I didn’t realize back then that I was shortening the life span of my oils and spices by bathing them in stove heat).

I didn’t know much about cooking, so I didn’t need much in the way of herbs and spices. I’m sure I had salt and pepper and cinnamon, and maybe Hungarian paprika because my mother always seemed to sprinkle it on fish. I probably had oregano, which I knew to use in spaghetti sauce, and most likely I had garlic powder, for the same reason.

That was then.

Today, though I have more than 60 spices on my spice rack, I know exactly what I’d want on that little ledge behind the stove in my first kitchen, if that’s all the space I had for my herbs and spices. [Read more…]

Stocking Your Pantry for Success

One of the very first keys to successfully eating as a family and cooking meals on a regular basis is having a good base to start from in your pantry. Having food on hand and available makes this process less stressful and much less work.

Can you imagine if you had to purchase every spice and herb and tablespoon of ingredient in each and every recipe you make every time you make it? The task of shopping just to make one meal could feel a bit overwhelming, much less trying to plan a week’s worth of meals. This is just one reason why having a well-stocked pantry is so important.

Stocking your pantry…

  • helps you steer clear of prepackaged and processed foods.
  • saves you money by allowing you to stock when food items are on sale.
  • keeps food on hand in case of an emergency (remember all those snow days last winter?)
  • helps maintain a healthy diet full of real foods.

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