Homemade Food Gifts: Baked Goods

The most frugal way to make these foods is from scratch. Admittedly, I often use boxed items when I’m able to purchase them on sale, with a coupon. They can be pretty affordable just before and during the holidays. The trick to doing this in the most frugal manner possible is by figuring out whether it is cheaper to bake from scratch or a box when all factors are added in, or deducted šŸ™‚ Be sure to factor in home preserved produce for the food items that have fruit as an ingredient.
Just a note: These are not healthy baked-goods. But most people on my gift list won’t likely eat healthy versions. They like what they are used to. So yes, I give sweets at the holidays. Also, I don’t think it is necessarily bad to treat yourself once-in-a-while. You just don’t want to make a habit of it.

Fill baskets with one or more of the following:

  • HM (Homemade) quick breads
  • Quick breads from a box: Lemon poppy seed, apple cinnamon, pumpkin and cinnamon swirl are all tasty options.
  • Brownies
  • HM pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or bars.
  • HM sugar cookies decorated with colored sugars or icings.
  • HM apple or zucchini bars with chocolate chips.
  • HM mints


  • To save money on electricity, I bake multiple items at once.
  • To save time, I mix up multiple batches at once in large bowls.
  • To save a few more pennies, when mixing up multiple batches I delete and egg or two.
  • To save more money, I use small or medium eggs – or large depending on what is on sale. You can use any size eggs in baking, even if large eggs are specifically called for. 1 small or medium egg = 1 large egg.
  • Use mini loaf pans, if possible.
  • Use mini decorative cake pans for breads, bars and cakes.

What homemade baked goods do you make to give as holiday gifts? Please share with us in the comments below.



Freezer: Using up the Winter Stocks

Since it is the time of the year when we spring clean, I thought it would be nice if we all considered our freezers for a few minutes. Do you have any leftover produce in the freezer? I know that I still have some frozen smoothie packs and berries in the freezer that need to be used. Here are some pointers for using up your winter stores:

* The eggs you purchased on sale and froze will need to be used. Since theĀ yolks had to be broken to freeze, you cannot make boiled or fried eggs with them. You could make other things, though:

  • scrambled eggs
  • french toast with a hearty paleo bread
  • use them when baking

These can be frozen in snack size baggies, then put all the baggies into a quart or gallon size freezer baggie until needed. Freeze them one egg to a snack size baggie, or use bigger bags and freeze more than oneĀ  in each.Ā  Take the eggs out of the night beforeĀ  you need them.

* Use grated zucchiniĀ  to make:

  • muffins
  • breads
  • omelets
  • cookies
  • brownies
  • cakes

* Diced apples are great for breads and muffins, brownies, cookies and cakes.

* Sliced apples make great crisps, pies, sauces, and cobblers.

* You can make a great soup from (saved) leftover vegetables, meats, and liquids from cooking the veggies.

* Make smoothies using the smoothie packs you froze during the winter.

Happy eating!


September Baking Day

I love September because it’s the month I start having huge baking days each year. I had one such day on the 9th. Mind you, it was still quite warm, and I rent a room so it heats up quickly. At this point, the AC is used to keep the temperature regulated on baking days. Soon, it will not be necessary.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015This is what I ended up with at the end of my baking day. Quite a bit, and well worth my time.

  1. I made applesauce in one of the slow cookers, using the red delicious apples I had left from the previous week. All I did was core and peel them, slice ’em up, and layer them in the crock. I covered the slices with water, filling to just above thePhotograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015 tops of the apples, then cooked on high for 3 hours. I ended up with enough applesauce to go with 4 meals. At no added cost for the week because the apples were left over.
  2. I cooked up a batch of this wonderful Apple-Pumpkin Butter (Civilized Caveman Cooking) in the other slow cooker. It came out perfect. I did not add the pecans, because I don’t eat them, but the recipe still came out well. I got almost 3 jars of this, put one in the refrigerator and 2 in the freezer. (This butter is very good on both the muffins and the cornbread below.) (It is also a great topper for Paleo ice cream.)
  3. Pumpkin Muffins (PaleOMG) were next, using another Paleo recipe. Paleo muffin mixes are not going to be exactly like regular ones, but they turned out well. This recipe made 10 muffins. (NOTE: I did not add the chocolate chips, but I bet they are delicious in them. I knew I was using the chips in another recipe, plus already had no-bakes. I didn’t need any more chocolate.)
  4. Then I started the Paleo Cornbread Muffins (Empowered Sustenance). Again, these are not the same as regular cornbread but turned out well. This recipe made a dozen.
  5. And I wanted to have a breakfast on hand that would be quick and easy to put together each morning, so I made some Paleo Pumpkin Pancake batter (Paleo Newbie) and put it in the refrigerator to be cooked up as I wanted, at a rate of 1 pancake per day to go with a smoothie.

My budget for groceries was only $3.00 for the week. A lean week indeed. I bought a package of hot dogs for $.70, a 3-pack of string cheese for $1.00, and a can of peas for $.69. Everything else I already had on hand, except some cucumbers, kohlrabi, a tomato, and zucchini from Mom’s and Lloyd’s garden.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015

Lunch was a simple, leftover mixed salad. I topped it with some string cheese. It was a refreshing, light lunch.



Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015

And this was dinner. I cooked the hot dogs and peas in a fry pan, and served it with fresh cucumber, tomato, and kohlrabi. This made a few meals.

It was a pretty good meal, despite the hot dogs.



A couple of days earlier I’d made Chocolate-Coconut No-Bakes (Here on the blog.) and Easy Slow Cooker Taco Meat (Rubies & Radishes). Both recipes were absolutely delicious, and helped me get through the coming week. With all the fresh produce from the garden, there was plenty of food to last.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015

This was one of my meals later in the week. Sweet potato topped with leftover taco meat, cucumbers from the garden, and the Paleo cornbread topped with the homemade pumpkin butter. It was a delicious meal.

What are you cooking up this month? Let us know in the comments, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I always reply to comments and emails.


Simple Chocolate-Coconut No-Bakes

I love super easy recipes, especially when they involve chocolate and coconut. And this recipe is as easy as they come. I’m sure you’ll enjoy these cookies as much as I do.

And the health factor? Regular no bakes have so much sugar in them, not to mention the sugar in the peanut butter. I’m happy with these, even with the sugar in the chips. If I could afford the expensive healthier stuff, I would certainly buy it. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of money in the budget.

I don’t make these all the time anyway, maybe a few times a year. So, I very much enjoy them when I do.


12 ounces dark chocolate chips (If there is extra melted chocolate, I use it to dip fruit into later. May need to be re-melted.)

2 or 3 tablespoons chocolate almond or cashew milk, or a tablespoon or so of organic coconut oil

3 cups organic unsweetened coconut flakes

  1. In a pot, melt 12 ounces of dark chocolate chips with the milk or coconut oil. Stir every so often to begin, and then almost continuously once the chocolate is really melting.
  2. Pour all 3 cups of unsweetened coconut flakes into a bowl.
  3. Pour half of the chocolate over the coconut, and then mix it all together.
  4. Add a little more chocolate at a time while stirring, if necessary, until there is enough to coat all the coconut.
  5. Pour leftover chocolate quickly into a canning jar and set aside.
  6. Spread out a sheet of parchment paper on a table or sideboard. Use a tablespoon to spoon the coconut mixture onto this sheet.
  7. Let the cookies sit until set.


  • Cover the remainder of the chocolate and set aside for use with fruit.
  • Do NOT put the no-bakes in the refrigerator if you can help it. They may get very hard, making them difficult to bite into.
  • Use whatever you have on hand for chocolate.
  • Add dried fruit, such as cranberries.
  • Add slivered almonds.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a cup of organic almond or cashew milk.
  • Make a few batches and serve during your next get-together.
  • Serve with Paleo hot cocoa, while sitting on the porch watching the night sky this fall.

Enjoy the treat!


Pumpkin Butterscotch Chip Cookies

Contributed by Sheila Buck

(Update January 2017: Yum! I know these are in no way healthy, but I just love them. I might try tweaking the recipe in the future to use Paleo approved non-grain flour and honey, or something like that, just to make it a little healthier. But I’m keeping this recipe here because it is a family favorite. I’m fine with having a treat once-in-a-while.)

During the holidays, my oldest son and I like to do a lot of baking. One of our favorite kinds of cookies to bake this time of year is pumpkin cookies. They taste great and are a big hit at our home. Our friends and family also like them.


1 can pumpkin

2 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 2 teaspoons of milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups flour

1 package butterscotch chips (11 ounces)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the pumpkin, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a large mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients thoroughly. Add eggs, oil,vanilla and the baking soda mixture. Mix well. Add the flour one cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each cup. Add the butterscotch chips and mix well. Drop cookie dough by teaspoonful onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies.

All of the ingredients we use to make this recipe are store brand, except for the butterscotch chips and pumpkin. I have been unable to find the butterscotch chips and pumpkin in the store brand packaging. During the holiday season many grocery stores offer sales on baking stuff including the butterscotch chips and cans of pumpkin.

Pumpkin butterscotch chip cookies make great gifts. You can also bring some to holiday parties or make some for your family to enjoy.


Sheila Buck is the single mom of two teenage boys. She has a Bachelorā€™s Degree in Clinical Psychology. Sheila is a freelance writer, and also writes books and short stories in her spare time. Sheila also writes for Frugal is Fabulous!.

Earl Grey Tea

Note 1: Do not use dairy products in your tea. These types of products take the effects of the antioxidants away.

Note 2: I do not add sugar to my tea. I got used to this practice slowly, by using less and less sugar over time.

Note 3: Consult a doctor if you are being treated for any illnesses before using any type of food for its’ health benefits.

With roots in British History, grey tea is a great tea to keep on hand. Water is known to be a filler, but adding tea to the water turns it into a healthy beverage.

The antioxidants in the tea are what gives it the healing properties

  • The tea is thought to have anti-depressant properties.
  • It is used to relieve fever.
  • It has cancer-fighting properties.
  • It hay also help with heart disease.

Made from both Indian and Ceylon teas, grey tea also utilizes oil of bergamot giving a slight citrus taste.

You may also enjoy:

Green Tea

Chamomile Green Sun Tea

Earl grey tea would make a good beverage at tea time served with a citrusy type dessert such as lemon cookies or orange glazed cake.