It is the time of year for sharing food, especially cookies. Our December recipe of the month, Oatmeal Cookies, is perfect for sharing. Take these delicious cookies to a party, family gathering, or cookie exchange.
You can also make these cookies into a gift. Start with a quart sized glass jar. Pour in any optional ingredients you would like to include from the recipe such as dried cranberries, raisins, white chocolate chips, or coconut. Then pour in the oatmeal. Top that with the brown sugar. Pour in the rest of the dry ingredients – the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Close the lid tightly on the jar so there are no accidental spills. Write out the instructions to the recipe on a card to give with the jar. Make sure to include amounts for the wet ingredients that are not included in the jar. You could even give out an individual serving size cup of applesauce with each jar – these are the perfect amount for this recipe. Finally, share your jar as a gift! It is so fun to give and receive homemade gifts like this.
Last week, I shared our homemade taco seasoning mix. This week, I would like to share our homemade dried onion soup mix. This dried onion soup mix is useful in seasoning soups, dips, and meats. To make this mix, stir together dried minced onion, sodium free beef bouillon granules, onion powder, and sugar and store in an airtight container for up to six months.
This mix makes the equivalent of three packages of store bought dried onion soup mix. This homemade mix is more expensive than the store bought version. Homemade costs $3.72 for the equivalent of three packages and the store bought is $0.72 for two packages. However, the extra cost is more than balanced out by the savings in sodium. The homemade version has 15 mg of sodium in 1/3 cup (about the same as one store bought package) while the store bought version has 4,560 mg of sodium in one package, which is 570 mg of sodium per serving.
The savings in sodium in this mix is important because reducing sodium consumption has health impacts. Find more information about the connection between sodium and high blood pressure here and sodium for children here.
Try our homemade Dried Onion Soup Mix in our Slow Cooker Roast or any other recipe that calls for dried onion soup mix.
Taco seasoning mix is a staple in many people’s cupboards. It adds great flavor to taco meat, beans, soups, and dips. You can buy pre-packaged taco seasoning mix at the store or you can use our homemade version. To make homemade taco seasoning mix, you simply need to combine minced onion, chili powder, cornstarch, crushed dried red pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, and ground cumin in a container with a tight fitting lid. This seasoning mix lasts a year in your cupboard.
This seasoning mix makes the equivalent of six packages of store bought taco seasoning mix. The homemade seasoning mix costs about the same as store bought. Homemade is $2.46 for six packages and the store brand at my local grocery store is $0.44 for one package, which comes out to $2.64 for six packages.
The big difference between the two mixes is the sodium content. One package of store bought taco seasoning mix contains 2,580 mg of sodium, which is 430 mg per serving. Two tablespoons of our homemade taco seasoning mix (the equivalent of one store bought package) contains 80 mg of sodium, which is about 13 mg per serving.
Use our Taco Seasoning Mix in Lentil Tacos, Slow Cooker Lentils, or in your own favorite taco recipe.
Our November recipe of the month is Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup. It is perfect for a busy day. All the ingredients go into the slow cooker in the morning, cook on low for 8-10 hours, and you have a delicious soup ready to eat in the evening.
There are some wonderful things I love about this recipe.
- It is easy to put together. There is no cutting up or chopping needed to get this recipe into the slow cooker. The chicken just needs to be shredded right before serving this soup.
- It uses dried beans. Dried beans are tasty, inexpensive, and nutritious. They take a little longer to cook, so they are perfect for the slow cooker. Fair warning, the dark color of the black beans changes the outer color of the chicken.
- It freezes well. This recipe is great to measure out into single serving containers and freeze for lunches. Or, you can eat half of the soup one night and freeze the other half of the soup for another night.
- It is great for a party. This soup tastes delicious with different toppings – avocado, crushed tortilla chips, sliced jalapenos, plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheese. You can serve the soup out of the slow cooker and let your guests add any toppings they would like.
Our October recipe of the month is Sweet Pork Stir Fry. To be honest with you, my children are pretty picky when it comes to stir fry. There is only one stir fry recipe I make that they really like. This is one that they tend to pick around and eat only their favorite pieces.
When this recipe was in the testing phase, I had to make it often to get it just right. Since it was not my children’s favorite, I made it for my mother-in-law and father-in-law. It was such a hit with them that my mother-in-law called me a few days later asking for the recipe because she wanted to make it for her own in-laws! That was almost two years ago, and they are still making this recipe regularly.
What I really like about my in-laws using this recipe regularly is that they have made this recipe their own. They try different vegetables depending on what sounds good to them – carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, and asparagus. They will change out the meat depending on what is on sale at the grocery store or even skip on the meat to make a vegetarian meal. They will also switch the noodles out for brown rice sometimes.
This past winter they invited me over to share a meal and they made this recipe for me. This recipe has been one that we have enjoyed together and I hope you can enjoy it with friends and family too!
Welcome to the third part of our blog series about on-line grocery shopping. If you did not see the first two parts of this series, here are the links to the overview and the pros of on-line grocery shopping. Today we are going to look at, what I think, are the cons to on-line grocery shopping.
The first challenge that I have with on-line grocery shopping is the PRODUCE.
- I like to look around the produce section to see what looks best and is the best value. I cannot do this when looking at the pictures of the produce on-line.
- Someone else chooses your produce for you, so you may not get what you would usually choose for yourself. However, I have received good quality produce in my experiences so far.
The second challenge that I have with on-line grocery shopping is LEAVING AN ITEM OFF.
- It usually happens that I forget to buy something or that an item is unavailable. This leaves me in a bind when I am trying to make a meal later in the week. I either have to make a special trip to the store or use what I have on hand to make a substitution.
- When this happens, I cannot do on-line shopping for the single item because they have a minimum order cost ($30 at one store and $100 at the other). However, at one of the stores you can pay a fee if your order is under the minimum cost.
The third challenge that I have with on-line grocery shopping is PERSONAL.
- I am a food person, so I like to look around at all the different foods in the store. I do not get this chance with on-line shopping.
- I like to take my children to the store so they can learn about shopping and choosing foods.
- I cannot use re-usable bags with on-line grocery shopping.
I feel like I have balanced these challenges well with alternating on-line and in-store grocery shopping. I think the pros of on-line grocery shopping outweigh the cons and I plan to continue with on-line grocery shopping.
Welcome to the second part of our blog series about on-line grocery shopping. I hope you enjoyed our overview last week. This week I would like to tell you about all of the things I think are great about on-line grocery shopping.
The first thing that I like about on-line grocery shopping is the TIME SAVINGS.
- It only takes me about 30 minutes to select the foods I want and set up my pickup/delivery time.
- I do not need to fight the crowd in the store or in the parking lot.
- I do not have to take my children into the store.
- The grocery store staff load up my car or help me carry my groceries into my house.
The second thing I like about on-line grocery shopping is the MONEY SAVINGS.
- It is easy to stick to my budget because I can see the total price increasing as I add foods to my cart.
- I can easily add or take away food items as needed to fit my budget and my needs.
- There is no temptation to buy the extra things displayed around the store, so I avoid impulse buys.
- I have all of the information on the website to determine unit prices and compare products easily.
The third thing I like about on-line grocery shopping is the KINDNESS of the staff.
- I have had great experiences with the grocery store staff being very kind and helpful.
- The staff do a great job of explaining any substitutions that were made.
- The staff make a point of keeping fragile foods (bread, eggs) safe.
Overall, I think that on-line grocery shopping is a great experience and it is very helpful, especially when I do not have a lot of time. I would recommend on-line grocery shopping to anyone who wants to try it.
Have you tried on-line grocery shopping yet? If not, tune into our blog for the next three weeks as we look at what on-line grocery shopping is and the pros and cons of on-line grocery shopping. If you have, send us a comment over the next three weeks and let us know about your experiences. Today I am going to give you an overview of on-line grocery shopping as I have experienced it.
Who: Justine Hoover. I plan meals and buy food for a family of five including my husband, an eight year old son, a six year old daughter, a two year old son, and myself.
What: On-line grocery shopping. I plan my meals and make my grocery list as usual. Then I log in to my account on the store website, choose my groceries, pay, and set up a time to get my groceries.
When: Every other week. I actually go grocery shopping once per week, but I have been alternating on-line grocery shopping with going to the store to shop. I do this because I like to shop at different grocery stores and two of my favorite stores do not have on-line shopping. I also like to take my children shopping with me sometimes so they can learn how to grocery shop.
Where: Two stores. There are two grocery stores in the community where I live that offer on-line grocery shopping. Both stores have grocery pickup – I drive my van up to a designated parking space, notify the store that I have arrived (either by calling or through an app), and then they load my groceries into my van. One of the stores has grocery delivery – they bring the groceries directly to my home.
Why: Three reasons. I decided to start on-line grocery shopping for many reasons, but here are the top three.
- Convenience – it is so easy to order groceries from my home and either have them delivered to my door or loaded into my van.
- Cost control – I can stick to my grocery budget much more easily because the website tracks my costs as I add items to my cart, and shopping on-line cuts down on impulse buys.
- Children – I had three children home with me all day, every day this past summer. I usually enjoy taking them shopping with me, but we decided there were other things we wanted to do with our time this past summer.
So far, these have been my experiences with on-line grocery shopping. Overall, they have been very good and I am excited to share the details with you. Join me for the next two weeks as I look more deeply into the pros and cons of on-line grocery shopping for my family.
Our September recipe of the month is Blueberry Pancakes. Pancakes are a favorite meal in our family. We eat them for supper just as often as we eat them for breakfast. I even made pancakes for supper for my husband the evening I was in labor with our oldest!
Since we like pancakes so well, I try to change up the types of pancakes we eat. That is where these blueberry pancakes come in. The batter for these pancakes is a traditional whole wheat pancake batter. Before cooking, gently fold the blueberries into the batter.
If you find cooking pancakes challenging, I have a few tips for you.
- Pre-heat the Pan: It is important to make sure that the pan is heated up before starting to cook the pancakes. You can use a water test to make sure your pan is hot enough. Use your fingers to sprinkle some water on the pan. If the water sizzles, your pan is pre-heated.
- Patience: Be patient with your pancakes and do not flip them over until the tops are bubbly. This will ensure that your pancakes flip easily and get cooked all the way through.
- Practice: Cooking times and temperatures for pancakes depend on your stove and your pan. With practice, you will find the right cooking times and temperatures for you.
Cranberry Almond Wrap is our August recipe of the month. I like this type of recipe in the summer because it is quick and cool.
In the summer, quick and cool recipes are frequently used in our home. We love spending time outdoors in the summer, so taking time to prepare meals gets cut way back in order to get the most of our outside time. We are almost always hot when we come inside, so a hot meal does not appeal to any of us. My older two children often tell me that they do not want any hot food.
This recipe can be made ahead of time by stirring chicken (that has been cooked and shredded), sliced almonds, diced celery, dried cranberries, and mayo in a bowl and covering it and storing it in the refrigerator until meal time. When it is time to eat, spread the mixture on a tortilla, lettuce leaf, or slice of bread and enjoy! For the chicken, I recommend cooking extra when you have the grill fired up or the oven on. You can store cooked chicken in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months.