Friday, May 19, 2017

Some Fabulous Deals at the Market and Lots of Free Food

The other day I was in town, heading to the market via public transportation and I met another English speaker. She saw my empty folding shopping cart and asked me if I was heading to the market. I confirmed that, so she commented, "You can get some pretty cool deals there." Yes, definitely.
We were talking a bit and then introduced ourselves by name, and when I said mine she exclaimed "Oh! You're the frugal market lady! I read about what you get there!" That was amusing.
Anyhow, we then started talking and she asked me what I was planning on getting there and how much I planned to spend. Since I had a decent amount of vegetables in my house already, although not all the ones I needed, I told her that I planned to spend no more than $30, but ideally less than $15... Usually when I go to the market I don't decide beforehand how much I plan on spending. I just buy what I need for as little money as possible—trying to find as many free or nearly free things as I can—and whatever I spend, I spend.I does typically end up within the $15-$30 range, hence my goal. Once I have a challenge though, I have a lot of fun seeing just how little I can spend, because I enjoy proving something to myself and the one who challenged me.

I came home with all this food. 83.6 lbs of produce. 22.2 lbs of fish. 105.8 lbs of food, all paleo and unprocessed and healthy, for a grand total of.... wait for it... $11.42!
That works out to under 11 cents a pound for all that food!

Modern Ways to Save Money

As a frugal conscious person living in today's modern world, I am very appreciative of the fact that today's technology and specifically the Internet allows me even more ways to save money than were open to us in the past. Here's a few ways the Internet can help you save money in 2017.

Save differently.
I know how challenging it can be to put away money to savings when cash is short and you can't find many ways to save. This 52 Week Saving Challenge is based on the idea that it's hard to find money to set aside to save, so it starts you off small- just one dollar put into savings the first week, two weeks the next. Because of the gradual way in which you are putting aside money you don't feel a big hit to your wallet. Instead gradually you learn to spend less and less money so you have what to put in savings but by the end of the year you will have saved a lot of money.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Homemade Carrot Peach Leather Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, Easy

I got a very large amount of carrots recently for free (more about that in a later post), but because they weren't in the best of conditions, they needed to be used up sooner rather than later, or at least something needed to be done with them to extend their shelf life. 
With some, I made my sweet and spicy carrots medallions. With others, I made a stir fry with other free vegetables. I made Vietnamese carrot pickles (recipe to come soon). But I still had so much more left and was trying to figure out what to do with them. (Chilled carrot soup will probably make it to my menu soon, either with orange juice, or with leek and cumin.)

When I was on my recent hiking getaway with my mom and sisters, we were brainstorming with ideas of Paleo food to bring along that wouldn't be too heavy (since we had to carry it on our backs) and while homemade ground beef jerky was for protein, figuring out vegetables was harder. I thought of making butternut squash leather, and my mom did so, and it was pretty tasty but lacking something. Eating it together with the banana leather it was perfection.
Seeing my carrots on my counter, I thought I'd take inspiration from that butternut squash leather, and see if I could turn my carrots into "fruit" leather. (I know it as fruit leather, but have a hard time with calling it fruit leather when its pretty much vegetable leather.) I did some googling to see if carrot leather worked on its own, and all other people seemed to add fruit to it, so I figured why not. It still is predominantly carrots, but I added a few peaches that had soft spots and would spoil if I didn't use them up soon. I decided to add some ginger and cinnamon so it would be reminiscent of pumpkin pie.
Well, I can't say that it worked. I don't taste the pumpkin pie. Next time I should probably increase the amount.
But what I can say is that this leather tasted amazing. In fact, I'd say its probably some of the best tasting "fruit" leather I've eaten in a while. My kids loved it too.
It doesn't taste quite carroty and it doesn't taste quite peachy, but somewhere between the two, just the right amount of sweetness, etc...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Homemade Egg Free Hollandaise Sauce Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, and Delicious

Foraged asparagus with vegan hollandaise

My 9 year old son Lee sometimes asks me "Mommy, how do you come up with all your recipe ideas?" and I tell him, more often than not I get inspired by recipes I see on the net or elsewhere. I don't usually make recipes as I find them, because of food sensitivities and monetary constraints. Some recipes I am especially proud of, as I figured them out from start to finish, not basing them off any or even multiple other recipes, but entirely out of my head.
My vegan, flax seed based mayonnaise is one of those recipes that I figured out entirely on my own, and it is really an amazing one, with the exact texture and taste of egg based mayonnaise (unlike most vegan mayonnaise recipes whose texture leaves much to be desired).

When I was lucky enough to be able to forage a bunch of asparagus (something I rarely eat, as they are ridiculously overpriced here, and wild ones don't grow so frequently where I live), I wanted to serve them in the most delicious way possible, that would let their flavor shine (and not be hidden in a quiche or soup) while adding something to bring its flavor up a notch. Cliched though it is, I decided to serve my asparagus with hollandaise sauce.
Or my version of it anyhow.

I'm not a vegan by a long shot, but unfortunately I've got a sensitivity to most dairy and eggs. I've tried my way around it, tried duck eggs instead of chicken eggs, but I can't eat them either. And even ghee, which is clarified butter, with the milk protein removed, something many dairy intollerant people are able to have, makes me react, unfortunately. So the classic hollandaise sauce, made from egg yolks and butter is out for me. But that didn't mean I wanted to give up on it.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Easy Homemade Peach Sauce Recipe - Paleo, Vegan, Delicious

Peaches are coming into season around here, which means that I can find them on the reduced rack at the grocery store or market, being sold for very little or even sometimes free. When I get them extra frugally or free, they often are mushy and/or banged up, which means that they should be cooked so they don't spoil. This peach sauce works perfectly well with overripe and/or mushy peaches, and is freezer friendly too.
We had this peach sauce with my homemade strawberry chocolate cheesecake swirl ice cream, and while each tasted amazing on their own, they were perfection together. This peach sauce, so delicious, is extremely easy to make, to the extent that I almost feel silly sharing the recipe here. It works great as a topping on ice cream, pudding, yogurt, or any cakes or brownies, or even eaten on its own.
And of course, it is paleo, vegan, without any refined sweeteners, etc...

Easy Homemade Peach Sauce Recipe - Paleo, Vegan, Delicious

Friday, May 12, 2017

Homemade Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake Ice Cream Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

I had another recipe that I wanted to share today, but upon request I'll share this delicious and easy recipe with you today instead. I debated what to call this. My kids call it ice cream, so I might as well just call it that. However, it is based on an idea for cashew based vegan cheesecake with strawberries that my family and I really love. Cashews make a delicious mock cheesecake, with a cheesiness that you don't often find in vegan foods. This recipe is made with almonds, not cashews, but it still has a resemblance to it, hence the cheesecake ice cream name I gave it. While I made this with almond butter, feel free to make it with cashew butter instead. I have not tried it with other nut butters, but if you want to experiment, feel free.

This recipe is pretty easy to make. The only thing to note is that the ingredients do need to be added in the order written, otherwise it can flop, so keep that in mind and follow the instructions precisely.

Homemade Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake Ice Cream Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

My Frugal Produce Cooking Marathon

Yesterday I had a really great shopping trip, bringing home a bunch of produce for very little money. Much as I love a good deal on produce, bringing home that much at once does mean that I need to figure out what to do with it all so it doesn't spoil and gets the most use.

Here's what I did with the produce I brought home yesterday. Of course there is still much more fresh in my fridge to use up at later dates, but this is the food prep I did for now.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

My Latest Super Frugal Shopping Trips

I love a good bargain. My husband frequently sees what I buy cheaply and laments that I "brought the entire market home with me". But yes, I do have a hard time passing up a great bargain, and yesterday's shopping trips were no exception.

Here's my total shop from yesterday. Guess how much it cost?

The entire shop cost me $76.15!

If you break up the shop into produce and meat, all that produce (the vast majority of what is pictured) cost me only $30.70, and the meat cost me $45.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Frugal Girls Mini Vacation

I just got back from a great trip with my mom and two sisters, Violet and Lizzy. We moved abroad when my little sister Lizzy was only 6, and Violet and I moved out of the house right around then. We realized that we girls never really did trips together, and Violet had the idea to go on a hiking trip/mini vacation with the three girls and our mom, and we had an awesome time. 
It was frugal and fun and just hit the spot.

Violet wanted to go to this specific water hike that is very famous, and is a rite of passage, of sorts, for locals, as it something a large percent do growing up here, which we never did since we only came at a later stage.

We left yesterday afternoon, came back yesterday night. 

Entire cost of the trip? 

$25 per person plus groceries.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Nightshade Free Hot Sauce Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, Delicious

I love my hot sauce. Whether tobasco or sriracha or any other type, being able to add a kick to my food easily is something I really enjoy. In a discussion with a friend of mine who is off of nightshades (the family that includes potatoes, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes), she noted how I use nightshades in most of my dishes. That confused me, as I avoid potatoes, eggplants, and peppers because they bother my stomach, and make many tomato free dishes. Then it hit me- hot sauce. I use it a lot. And it is made with hot peppers or hot pepper flakes.
It got me thinking- what if I could make a hot sauce that is nightshade free? Peppercorns are actually not in the nightshade family, so if I could make a hot sauce based on them instead of the usual hot peppers, we'd be in luck, and hopefully all those sensitive to nightshades would be able to finally have hot sauce. (People off nightshades are often told to add horseradish or mustard or fresh garlic or ginger to their food in place of hot sauce, but it is definitely not the same. They have very different tastes.
I set out to see if I could make a peppercorn based hot sauce, but first scoured the internet to see if I could find something like that already out there, but came up empty. So here it is. And it's darn good. I would say it rivals my homemade sriracha sauce in terms of taste. I highly highly recommend this recipe, and not just to people who can't use nightshades, but everyone. The one issue with it is the color not being as attractive as the bright red sriracha you see in the grocery store. Oh well.

While I used sweet potato in this recipe, if you're on the GAPS diet or another diet that forbids sweet potatoes, I am confident that it would work just as well with pumpkin, butternut squash, or carrots in place of the sweet potato. The purpose of the sweet potato is to add a mild sweetness that sriracha has, as well as thickening it, and any other orange veggie would work as well.

Nightshade Free Hot Sauce Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, Delicious

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