Friday, October 9, 2015

Middle Eastern Style Braised Chicken Necks Recipe- Super Frugal, Paleo, Easy

 photo necks_zpsnyhsdqwr.jpgIn my last post, about my recent grocery shopping trip, I'd mentioned that I was looking to buy meat, and saw that the cheapest meat to buy was chicken necks at 50 cents a pound, and the next cheapest meat was chicken wings at $1.94 per pound, so I stocked up on a bunch of chicken necks, which I plan on using as our protein for quite a few meals, especially since it is so cheap.

However, when I posted about that, I got some interesting reactions. Among them was someone insisting that it doesn't matter how cheap chicken necks are, they aren't actually cheap if you consider how much meat is on them, which this person was insisting was barely anything, that they're mostly bone.
Now don't get me wrong, I know there is a lot of bones in chicken necks. But I also know that there is a lot of bones in every single type of poultry out there, other than breast meat or organ meat, and that people have these misconceptions about what is "all bones" and what is not. Like people think that chicken wings are "all bones" but thighs and drumsticks are not, etc... but I put that to the test already 5 years ago, when I did my breakdown and calculated the true price of meat per pound once you factored in the bones. And I discovered, shockingly, that chicken wings were 49% meat, drumsticks 51% meat, and thighs 53%, really negligible differences.
But that isn't what this post is about.
It's about chicken necks.
Which are 37.5% meat. 11.5% less than wings, which is a difference, yes, but not significantly so. Especially if you consider the fact that some people don't eat chicken skin (I do, and even have some great chicken skin recipes), in which case they're 35.5% meat, which is less meat than chicken necks.

But lets assume that you do eat the skin. Because we do.
Let's compare how much I'd be paying per pound of meat for wings vs necks.

According to my calculations, to figure out the true price of wings, you multiply the price per pound by 2.03 to get the price per pound of meat. Based on the prices I saw in the store, the $1.94 per pound wings are really $3.94 per pound.
And to figure out the true price of necks, you multiply the price per pound by 2.66 to get the price per pound of meat. In which case, it would be $1.33, which means that even discounting the bones, you're paying 2.96 times the price for wings vs necks.

Ok, but sometimes I find wings cheaper. The average decent price I find for wings are $1.28 per pound, which means that their true price is $2.61, still much higher than the price of necks.
When I find wings on tremendous sale, sometimes I can find them for $1.03 and I think once I saw them for $0.77 per pound. Respectively, for the meat those are $2.09 and $1.57 per pound of meat.
So, even at the rock bottom prices for wings, they still are more expensive than chicken neck meat.

The cheapest "straight meat" I can get, with no bones, is chicken gizzards, at $1.29 per pound. When I can actually find them. Once cooked though, they lose a lot of their weight, and to find out their true price per pound you have to multiply that by 1.49, which works out to be $1.93 per pound of cooked meat.

In short, chicken necks at the price I bought them are the absolutely cheapest type of meat per pound, by a long shot.
Well worth it.
I gotta go back to the store and stock up- the 20 lbs of chicken necks I got aren't enough, now that I realized just how dirt cheap they are, via writing up this post!

Ok, so, on to the recipe!
Or rather, almost.

I was trying to figure out what to do with the chicken necks. It is just starting to be a bit cooler here now, so just the start of soup weather, but I live diversifying my meals, and didn't only want to serve chicken neck soup meal after meal after meal, since soup is the standard thing to do with chicken necks.
Then, of course there's stews, and I made some really delicious chicken neck and watermelon rind stew this past summer which was the bomb!
However, sometimes you just want something that doesn't require a bowl to eat it. I wanted to know if it was possible to make some chicken necks that could be eaten on a plate together with the rest of your meal, and googling helped me come across a recipe for braised chicken necks, Indian style, but the problem was that the recipe that kept on coming up was in video format, without an ingredient list written out, and from what I could piece together, the recipe called for jeera seeds and dhania seeds, which I had no idea what they were, so I couldn't do that recipe. (Well, then I found out that jeera is cumin, and dhania is coriander, so mystery solved.)
So I decided to use a similar cooking method, braising, but making my own spice mix for it. I tried figuring out whether this spice mix is better labeled as curried or simply Middle Eastern style, but decided that the flavor reminded me most of Middle Eastern cooking (it tastes similar to baharat, but not exactly).

It truly came out delicious.

I made 3.25 lbs worth of chicken necks- feel free to use less if you don't want to make a large amount, and then just reduce the spices accordingly.

Middle Eastern Style Braised Chicken Necks Recipe- Super Frugal, Paleo, Easy

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

You know me- I'm all about eating healthy, on a minimal budget. So this guest post by Mark was totally up my alley!

If you’ve ever tried to eat healthily, you may have noticed how expensive it can get. If you plan and strategize, though, you can absolutely maintain a high-quality, nutritious diet and also stick with your budget. Here are five strategies you can use to save some money while also eating well.

One tried-and-true way to save money on all groceries is to buy packaged items in bulk. This strategy is something people often think of in terms of snacks and things like that, but it absolutely works for healthful food items as well. Packaged foods like pasta, quinoa and protein bars can be bought in bulk for great discounts. You can use this strategy at normal grocery stores, but to save even more, you may want to consider shopping at warehouse stores like Sam’s Club or Costco. To make sure you’re saving money, compare the cost per ounce of the larger package to the cost per ounce of the smaller package. It’s often possible to get a significantly lower cost per ounce when you’re buying larger packages.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My Latest Grocery Shopping Trip

I know I'm not the only one who sometimes notices what is in other people's shopping carts. Today, if anyone would have looked into my shopping cart, they would have probably been very confused, because my shop was far from a typical grocery shop. I haven't shared one of my grocery shopping trips with you in a while, but decided why not today?

Today my husband had off work, and I had some errands I needed to run in town, and while I was there, decided to go grocery shopping, sans all the kids. Just me and my lonesome. The last time I did that was too long ago to even remember, so it was really enjoyable for me!

The reason for my shop being "weird" was because I make and sell gluten free bread mixes, and I had so many orders that people wanted me to fill already, but I couldn't fill them without having all the necessarily ingredients.
Only the ingredients are heavy, and I wanted to be able to deliver the bread mixes when I do my regular shopping trip, so I decided that I needed to do two separate trips- one in a few days to get my usual things from the market, and another today to get the base ingredients for my bread mixes, as well as the big and the heavy things that I can't carry home easily when my stroller is already loaded with my usual groceries, in addition to the things I wanted to buy from places that are that are harder to get to if I am shopping with 4 kids.
And so, my shopping trip today was weird, but nearly everything I bought was premeditated and purchased to be as frugal as possible.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

No Bake Paleo Cheesecake Bars Recipe- Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free

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For as much as I have a million recipes on my site, sometimes I really am not inspired in the kitchen, but when people post links to yummy things on Facebook, then I get my creative juices flowing, adapting those recipes to suit my needs.
Someone recently posted this recipe on Facebook and oh boy did I start salivating from the picture alone. Then I saw that it had ghee in it, something that, unfortunately, I am not able to handle, despite the fact that officially it should be tolerated even by people like myself who are sensitive to dairy. And I know from experience that caramel sauces cannot simply be made subbing coconut oil for the ghee or butter, since they have different melting points.
So that wasn't happening.
And the crust was made with coconut, which I can't really handle either (coconut oil and milk I'm fine with, just not actual coconut)...
So I wanted to make it, but the recipe as it was written simply wouldn't work for me.
But I played around with it, and came up with this terrific alternative, one that I could eat without it causing me any stomach trouble.
And it came out amazing!
I hope you like it just as much as my family did!

And if you want to use a different type of crust, or a different recipe for caramel sauce, feel free to do that, but I've linked to the recipes I recommend using.

No Bake Paleo Cheesecake Bars Recipe- Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free

No Bake Pie Crust Recipe- Vegan, Paleo, Grain Free, Gluten Free, Low Carb

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I love cheesecake. I love all sorts of pies. However, they all need pie crusts... And pie crust, seriously, is my enemy. Most of the time.

But this recipe for no bake pie crust? It's something I am really excited about, especially since I haven't seen a recipe like it before; it is something I made up entirely on my own.
You see, this is a paleo/grain free and vegan pie crust, and lower carb as well. Most paleo vegan pie crusts are nut based (as this is), but they usually use dates to bind them, and I didn't think I had any dates when I was making my crust, so I was trying to figure out something that would bind them together.
I recently have become a fan of roasted (and peeled) chestnuts- they sell them in little packages of 100 grams (3.5 ounces) for $1.25 in my local grocery store, and they're quick and easy and I like to have them on hand for a tasty no prep carb. So when I was trying to come up with something to bind my nuts in my crust, I decided to give the roasted chestnuts a try, since they seemed to me that they'd have the right property to replace dates in this recipe.

Wowza! It certainly did the trick! The crust held together beautifully and wasn't nearly as carby as dates would have been. For the entire pie crust its only 53 grams of carbs, so if you make 12 slices of pie with this crust, it's only 4.4 grams of carb per bit of crust... but if you use divide it into 20 (that's how many pieces I divided mine into) its only 2.6 grams of carb per serving of crust, so I think this would qualify this crust as lower carb.

While I used this pie crust for my paleo cheesecake, feel free to use this for anything you like, whether for a chocolate ganache tart, peanut butter pie, cheesecake, or whatever else floats your boat!

This crust is vegan, allergy friendly (unless you're nut allergic), Paleo, gluten free, etc...

To keep the costs down, I used almonds that I bought from the market in bulk bins (cheaper that way) from the cheapest store I found in the market, and they were even cheaper since they were broken almonds, so $4.90 a pound instead of the usual $9 per pound or more.

No Bake Pie Crust Recipe- Vegan, Paleo, Grain Free, Gluten Free, Low Carb

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe- Paleo, Raw, Fat Free, Dairy Free, Vegan Option

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I wish there was a way to take a picture of something like this without it looking like poop. :-D

I have to say that I am really excited about a recipe- tonight we're having our annual family shebang, and I'm doing the cooking for the entire thing. My challenge was- keep the costs low, keep the work minimal, make it all healthy, and make it taste good so that everyone could see just how delicious healthy eating could be.
Dessert planned- paleo cheesecake bar with salted caramel topping- because it sounded so absolutely delicious and I wanted to wow everyone there with the perfection that is paleo cheesecake.
I found a recipe for it, which was my inspiration, but the problem is that it called for ingredients I didn't have or couldn't use or whatever, so I put different recipes together to make this masterpiece.
For the sake of being able to find all the components when you want them, I am writing the recipe in parts- first this caramel sauce which can be used however you generally serve any caramel sauce- whether on brownies, inside chocolates, on ice cream or baked apples, or in this case, on top of the delicious cheesecake.
When I asked my husband to taste it, because I like to get a second opinion on recipes before I post them on my blog, my husband said he could eat the entire thing of sauce right there and then, and my kids agreed- it is extremely delicious.
This recipe is good for anyone unless they're on a low carb diet, because this certainly has carbs. But it is paleo, raw vegan, fat free, GAPS legal, etc... I didn't use medjool dates for this (I was out) so I used less sweet dates, which is why I added a drop of honey to it. If your sauce isn't sweet enough because you also aren't using medjool dates, and you want it vegan, feel free to add whatever other sweetener you use, but if you're using medjool dates you really have no need for any other sweetener.

Homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe- Paleo, Raw, Fat Free, Dairy Free, Vegan Option

Thursday, September 24, 2015

In Defense of SWYPOs

Paleo toffee bars. Totally SWYPO, totally Penny approved.
I've been part of Paleo facebook groups for a long time, been reading a lot of Paleo recipes, simply because even if you aren't on a strict Paleo diet, Paleo diet recipes are made from scratch recipes, using healthy ingredients. So I just was in the group to read, absorb, and get recipe ideas.

Often when someone would post a cool Paleo approved recipe into these forums, others would invariably comment "I prefer real food, that is SWYPO". Real food? I mean, if it is Paleo approved, it is "real food" using only whole, unprocessed ingredients.
So I asked- what exactly is SWYPO?
Well, I learned that SWYPO is a concept invented/popularized by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, founders of the Whole 30 diet, and it stands for "Sex With Your Pants On".
Essentially, what it means is- something good, close to the original, but not quite, which leaves you wanting more of what is forbidden for you.
In other words, if you're coming from an unhealthy diet, full of all sorts of junk, and instead you replace your junk with Paleo versions of the junk, you won't be satisfied and it will just lead to you to wanting some of the forbidden junk. The Whole 30 diet is, in part, intended to break people from bad eating habits, and they believe that giving in to your unhealthy food habits with healthy versions of the same stuff is not a good idea, and rather, you should just learn better food habits.

I hear the point of that, somewhat, but disagree in many ways. But the more I heard about it, the more I actually got upset about this concept.

You see, I did something very similar to the Whole 30 diet plan- the 30 day Paleo Reset diet, according to the instructions in Chris Kresser's book, The Paleo Cure.
These diets are almost the same, other than that on Chris Kresser's diet, cocoa products aren't allowed for the 30 days, neither are white potatoes or fruit juices. And nuts and seeds are supposed to be more limited. And seed oils like soybean, canola, sunflower seed oils are strictly prohibited on Chris Kresser's diet. On Whole 30, cocoa is allowed as a seasoning (for things like chili), white potatoes are allowed, fruit juices are allowed as flavorings in recipes, nuts and seeds are encouraged actually- to even have some at every meal as one of the possible fat allowances. (Chris focuses a lot on the Omega 3/Omega 6 ratios, which is why he says to limit your nuts and seeds to a handful a day, but the Whole 30 diet requires you to have fats with every meal and includes nuts as one of those fats that you should add to your meal.) And Whole 30 allows you to eat canola oil when out, in restaurants, etc...

But you see, essentially, these diets are the same.

But the biggest difference seems to be about SWYPOs. No such concept in the Paleo Reset, but in Whole 30, it is such a strong concept, that if you eat even one bite of something they call SWYPO, you need to start over your 30 days entirely.

Ways to Recycle Old Eyeglasses

I've been a glasses wearer since I was 9 years old, and I've gone through many pairs of glasses since then. Whenever I get new glasses, I always wonder what I should do with my old glasses. This guest post, with some ideas of how to recycle your old glasses hit the spot and gave me some ideas I'd never even considered before.

Have you ever felt you are not likely to continue using your eyeglasses anymore? Have you ever wanted to replace your old spectacles with new Porsche Design eyewear but didn’t know what to do with the ones that are becoming boring? Not everyone can afford buying eyeglasses. There is a chance for you to get rid of your eyeglasses and help a person in need by donating your old pair to him/her. To recycle your eyeglasses in such a way is a good idea because a person will be wearing them and they will get a second life.
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Moreover, there are creative people who use old eyeglasses for an absolutely different aim and give them a completely new life! Thus, the main function of eyeglasses is transformed into an advanced one. We would like to share with you some of these fresh ideas that could be done even at home without any special technologies. You can use either the whole pair of eyeglasses or sometimes one or a few parts.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments This Week

So, if you've noticed, I haven't really been posting my "frugal accomplishments" these past few weeks- life got a bit overwhelming, and on top of everything else, I felt I wasn't really doing all sorts of things that were really frugal- nothing dramatic like making homemade pasta or upcycling really cool. So nothing to share, right?
I honestly didn't feel like doing anything this week but veg out, so anything frugal that we did do, I consider a great accomplishment.

Well, not really.
Sometimes just plain day to day life can be frugal, depending on how you look at it.
You see, lately, I haven't been making any vegan dishes. I haven't been making so many things "from scratch" (I mean, everything I'm eating isn't processed, but I'm not making many homemade versions of store bought things), I'm eating paleo and still cooking mostly paleo (other than breakfasts) for my family. And I've just been a super lazy cook and super lazy in general. And even so, our grocery bills have actually gone down.

My Teen’s a Football Fanatic: Affordable Ways to Keep Up with the Games

I have to admit, neither Mike nor I are sports fans. In fact, Mike wishes he could get into sports, so he could know what all "the guys" are talking about when they're endlessly discussing football, the superbowl, etc.... but he just doesn't get the hype. And me? I'd rather be playing than watching.
However, since I know we're probably the exception, not the rule, and many people really are into their sports, hopefully this guest post by Nancy Evans will help give you some tips on how to not let your sports habit get too expensive.

If you’re a parent of teenage boys, you’re probably starting to hear all the hype about the latest football games. Whether they prefer college games or the national league, it seems to be all they talk about from now until Christmas. My boys in particular like to keep up with their favorite team so they can go to school the next day and brag. It’s also necessary for them to sometimes watch games as they learn new skills to take back to their own team (they’re both football players).

As nice as it would be to be able to take my boys to each and every game (local and national home games), I know that’s unrealistic. Sure, we’ve found affordable ways to watch some of the games  in the area, but we certainly can’t do that every time or I’d have to find a second job. So I did a little research and found that there are actually some really affordable ways for them to keep up with the latest games, scores, and stats.

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