Cheese Board for Sharing

Finally bought myself a cheese board! I’ve been wanting to for a while now. At some point I want to have my daughters over for some family time, and this will be a big hit. Who wouldn’t want to share the deliciousness with loved ones?

I love that this board has a place to keep crackers separate from the other foods on each side. I also love that you don’t necessarily need to have cheese on the board, though this arrangement has two goat cheese dips I’m sure you will love. (I’ll be sharing links to a few of these dips below.)

The combinations of foods to be placed on a cheese board seem endless, and I promise you I will be trying many. I might even share some more with you here on the blog. I can’t wait to use this at future get-togethers with family and friends.

Try to use organic foods when possible. Rinse and dry produce before use.

NOTE: I prefer goat cheese over that made from cow’s milk. I have an intolerance to cow’s milk, and am so happy to have an alternative cheese. Regardless, I don’t eat cheese all the time. It’s a real treat for me.

Fruit & Vegetables Cheese Board

1 cucumber, sliced

1 apple, sliced

1 pear, sliced

1 or 2 carrots, cut into sticks

1 or 2 celery stocks, cut into sticks

1 orange, sectioned

grapes

pineapple chunks or tidbits

Paleo crackers

1 or 2 goat cheese dips: Fig & Goat Cheese Dip, Almond & Goat Cheese Dip, Fig & Almond Goat Cheese Dip, Blueberry & Goat Cheese Dip.

All you’re doing is placing the food onto the cheese board in a pleasing manner. You can use my photograph as a guide, and experiment.

Tips

  • Use your favorite fruits and vegetables.
  • Try different types of dips and sauces.
  • Leave the peels on apples, pears, cucumbers, and the like, for added nutritional value.
  • On rare occasion, I order Chinese from a restaurant near work. It’s not the healthiest, but it is convenient. Every time I order, they send me at least four of the spoons that are used in the photo. I finally found a good use for them!
  • Make your own Paleo crackers. Use a recipe you find online. They will be healthier than traditional crackers.
  • If it will be a bit before you eat, dip apple & pear slices in lemon juice for about 30 seconds.
  • Growing grapes, celery, and carrots, or other fruits and vegetables, will save you a good deal of money.
  • Cheese boards would be great for any celebration.

Enjoy your cheese board!

~ Shannon

 

 

 

 

Quick Tip: Using Leftovers to Make Smoothies

I know, it sounds gross. But those aren’t the type of leftovers I’m talking about.

I am talking about using those leftover bits of raw fruits and vegetables. You know, that half of a banana your little one didn’t eat at lunch, or the three pea pods he neglected. The chopped vegetables, such as carrots, cauliflower, celery, and broccoli, from the get-together you had the other day.

It’s also okay to use that hard-boiled egg no one wanted at breakfast, and the last of the fresh parsley or thyme.

Go head. Use stuff up. Doing so will save money on your grocery bill, and add necessary nutrients to a smoothie that your body will love you for. And you wont even notice the taste of those foods, unless they are being used as the main ingredient.

You’ll notice that I implement this tactic often in the smoothies I make.

Shannon

 

Watermelon and Blueberries with Coconut Cream

I love melons and berries, and find combining the two makes for some tasty recipes. These combinations are great for spring and summer.

This recipe makes a great side dish to any meal, but will also make a delicious snack or dessert.

Ingredients

1 cup cubed or balled seedless watermelon

½ cup blueberries

2 to 3 tablespoons coconut cream flavored with pure vanilla or mint extract to taste

  1. Rinse the blueberries well. Lay them out one towel and pat dry with a towel.

  2. Place the watermelon and blueberries in a salad bowl, and top with coconut cream.

Tips

  • To save money, use fresh produce from your own garden.

Serving Suggestions

Shannon

Blueberry-Strawberry Parfait

I love parfaits during the spring and summer months. This berry based parfait is easy to make for a quick snack any time, and a little dark chocolate can be added if it is to be consumed as a dessert.

Ingredients

blueberries

strawberries

coconut cream flavored with pure vanilla extract

unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Paleo granola (optional)

dark chocolate chips (optional)

  1. Rinse the berries well, and lay them out on a towel to dry for a few minutes.

  2. Slice the strawberries, disposing of the tops.

  3. Layer the ingredients like so: Coconut cream, blueberries, strawberry slices. Do this, being sure the top layer is of coconut cream when done. Sprinkle Paleo granola over the top, and some dark chocolate chips if desired.

Tips

  • To save money, grow your own berries.

  • Try other berries when in season.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a vegetable-based salad on a warm day.

 

Shannon

Freezer Mix-Ups

What are mix-ups?  Well, to make a mix-up, all you do slice or chop fruits and/or vegetables for freezing. These will likely be different each time you freeze, depending on the available produce and the amounts. They are easy to throw together and place in the freezer for later use.

This is a good way to use up produce that may be a little less than fresh, and to use those odd pieces not used in recipes or eaten with meals.

Here is how I make a vegetable mix-up:

  • Take out a large mixing bowl, and a cooking spoon for mixing.
  • Get out your cutting board and a sharp knife.
  • Take the vegetables you are worrying about going to waste out of your refrigerator. Produce that may not be the freshest, but could be used in a stew or something else.
  • Look at the counter produce to see if any of it needs to be used.
  • Rinse everything and wipe dry with a towel.
  • Chop all the vegetables and throw them into the bowl.
  • Throw out the trash (or compost it!), and then mix up what is in the bowl.
  • Judge how many freezer containers you will need, get them ready, and label them veggie mix-up and put a use-by date on the label. (Six months would work)
  • Spoon the vegetables into the container(s), cover, and freeze.

Use these mix-ups for:

To make fruit mix-ups, take the same steps above and use the fruit mix-ups for smoothies or homemade ice cream.

These are great ways to help you save money. It is frugal to also use leftovers in the same manner, adding even as little as a teaspoon of corn or pees to a freezer mix-up will allow you to save money in the long run.

How do you save money in the kitchen? Get a copy of my eBook Frugal Ways to Save Money in the Kitchen + Frugal Recipes for the Health Conscious. It is FREE!

Shannon

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.

Shannon

The Experiment: Saving Money by Not Using a Shopping List

If you read Try This to Save Money on Groceries and A New Way to Plan Meals, you know I was planning an experiment. I meant to do this before now, but the temperatures have been too low for me to walk from Walmart to work. Ordinarily I do the shopping then walk to work, placing my food in the refrigerator until my shift is over. However, I’ve not been able to shop regularly because my asthma kicks in at drastically low temperatures.

This weekend has been marvelous! And I decided today was the day to shop.

Ordinarily I plan my menu before I go to the store, shop sales, and use coupons (trying to use sales with coupons when I can!) and keep it all very organized. Today I decided to do things a little differently. I did not plan a menu, except to know that I wanted lemons and limes so I could make some lemon-limeade this week. I also needed some almond milk.

I did take stock of what I have available at home. I was all set with:

  • Organic diced tomatoes
  • Organic coconut milk
  • Coconut water
  • Coconut cream
  • Organic coconut oil
  • Organic ghee
  • Organic almond flour
  • Organic coconut flour
  • Organic tapioca flour
  • Organic raw honey
  • Organic maple syrup
  • Eggs (A few store-bought + 1 dozen farm fresh from my friend Tam!)
  • Carrots
  • Sausage, enough for 1 meal
  • Frozen fruits, for smoothies (Some melon chunks, and some citrus fruits.)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 side salad
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 Buttercup squash

Keep in mind, I usually have most of the above items on hand before a grocery shopping trip.

During a good shopping trip, where I buy quite a bit, it would not be uncommon for me to spend between $60.00 and $65.00. Just for me. And that is (mostly) good-for-you stuff, with just a few items that are processed and not real good for you to lessen costs a little.

I did not want to spend that much, and I wanted to test out my theory that one can save money without planning for a shopping trip, while buying many of the less expensive things and still getting enough healthy food to feed oneself for the week.

Stew meat, on sale at $3.80 per pound = $16.07 (saved $7.53)

Organic spinach and arugula, good size package, 5 ounces = $3.28

Almond milk, 1/2 gallon = $2.98

Vegetable tray (cherry tomatoes, green beans, celery, carrots), 2 1/2 cups = $5.98

Organic Red Delicious apples, 7 count = $3.67

Kiwi, 3 = $1.35

Bananas, 4 = .77

Limes, 4 = $1.32

Green cabbage, 1.94 pounds = $1.32

Strawberries, 1 pound = $1.98 (Saved $.50)

Meyer lemons, 7 count = $1.98

Sweet potatoes, 2.15 pounds = $2.11

Red potatoes, 1.19 pounds =$1.17

Total Spent = $43.98

Savings over a typical week = $16.02 – $21.02

  • I can get quite a few meals out of the stew meat, red potatoes, and sweet potatoes, when using them with the carrots and squash I have on hand.
  • The spinach and arugula will mainly be used in smoothies, but I might also make a couple of meals where I serve them with eggs and sausage. This will allow me to stretch the sausage to two meals, and be plenty filling.
  • I may also make some homemade applesauce.
  • I was so happy they had lemons and limes. They didn’t the last time I was in there.
  • I was surprised at how good the strawberries looked, and could not resist the price.
  • Organic is expensive, and I cannot afford to get everything this way. So I do what I can, with what is available. I hear apples are one of the worst fruits to buy non-organic, so I’m trying to be good with that. The same with the spinach.
  • I do know the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen, but Walmart in my area does not always have organic options for everything, and I couldn’t afford to get all organic anyway.
  • I truly wish I could afford grass-fed, etc., meats, but they are just not in my budget.
  • The trays of organic vegetables did not look all that fresh this week, so I went with the non organic tray.
  • Notice how I did not use coupons, and only a couple of items were on sale, yet I still came in at less.

I’ll have to deal with what I have on hand now that the shopping trip is over, but I don’t think that will be a problem. Between my groceries and what I already had on hand, I am pretty well set.

Tomorrow is my day off, and I’ll spend it making meals for the week. I will better know afterward how many meals I have for the coming week.

Happy shopping!

Shannon

Meal Prep for the Coming Workweek

Another workweek. Another food prep day. Do I mind spending an entire day each week cooking? Absolutely not! I love to cook. And I have less to do on a day-to-day basis when I do this.

This week was pretty basic, and not overly expensive. Here goes:

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

I started with a slow cooker meal. This week I made an Autumn Sausage Slow Cooker Meal that came out real well. I love slow cooker meals. They’re so easy to put together, and free up plenty of time for preparing other foods and getting my cleaning done. Then I also have time for writing. The squash I used in this recipe was a freebie from my parents garden. And the cost before taxes for the sausage was $3.75. Take a look at the store’s selection. You may find a more affordable sausage option than what you use already. I did.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

I then made the base for my iced tea for the week, Berry-Orange Iced Tea. In a few days I will change the tea bags and replace the old orange slices with new. I just keep refilling the pitcher with water during the week. The tea bags were left over from last winter. The fruit was left over from last week. So I did not pay any more to make this.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

Next I made more Chunky Applesauce. This is such a simple recipe. I cook the apples down in water. I don’t add anything else when cooking. When I’m ready to eat the sauce, I add some organic cinnamon. Organic tastes so much better than the stuff I used to buy. The apples were also leftover from last week, so this is essentially another freebie.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

And I put together 6 Vegetable Jars. This weeks jars consist of carrots, celery, broccoli, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and a bit of cheese. The carrots were left over from last week. As was the slice of cheese that I broke into 6 pieces.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

Plus I had leftover vegetables to have with other meals or as snacks.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

After using up all the sandwich meat that comes in the covered containers, I reuse the containers for packing my lunches. I split the food between the containers. I know it does not look like much, but I bring other foods as well.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

This all made 6 meals, and I have a few snacks. Not too bad.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

So, this is my food from the days work:

  • 6 proportioned out slow cooker meals.
  • 6 vegetable jars.
  • Extra vegetables.
  • 2 applesauce jars.
  • A jar of pickled beets.
  • An orange.
  • 2 bottles of water. Free from a guest at work. (She actually gave me 8 bottles.) I’ll drink tea at work when I don’t have the water (also free), or the iced tea I made is for when I’m at home.

That is 6 meals and, because my work schedule changed this week, I only need two of them for work. I put three slow cooker meal portions into the freezer. They will be good on my days off.

You may also enjoy

More Work Week Meal Prep

Even More Work Week Meal Prep

Enjoy!

Shannon

 

Fruit Jars

Fruit jars are so easy to make. Start by rinsing off the fruit, and patting them dry with a clean cloth. Then prepare the fruit by cutting, sectioning, and whatnot. Make sure the canning jars are clean and dry.

There are many fruit combinations you can create, or you may choose to have just one fruit. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Orange sections
  2. Watermelon, cantaloupe, and honey-dew melon balls
  3. Grapes, strawberry slices, and raspberries.
  4. Grapefruit sections, orange sections, and halved grapes.
  5. Grapes. (These can be frozen.)
  6. Blueberries and raspberries.
  7. Kiwi, halved grapes, and raspberries.

Fruit jars will last at least 3 days in the refrigerator.

These make a great component to any meal, or can be used as a snack, and are easily placed into a lunch sack.

Enjoy!

Shannon

Patriotic Holiday Recipes: Red, White, and Blue Parfait

A simple treat that can be used as a side to any meal, or a snack, or even as a dessert. And, they are great when served at Patriotic holiday tables. Small children can help with this one as well, if you cut the grapes yourself.

Keep these in the refrigerator until they are ready to serve. The measurements will depend on how many you need to make.

Ingredients

red grapes

blueberries

coconut cream concentrate

pure vanilla extract

  1. Rinse the fruit. Dry carefully with a clean towel.
  2. Halve the grapes.
  3. Combine the coconut cream and 1+ tsp pure vanilla in a bowl, and whisk or beat a couple of minutes to blend well.
  4. Place some blueberries into the bottom of each sundae cup, and a dollop of cream, then add grapes.
  5. Add another dollop of cream to the top, and a few more blueberries.
  6. Refrigerate.

Tips

  • Rather than using grapes, try red apple slices, raspberries, or strawberries. Whatever will allow you to save a little money.
  • Drizzle the top with an easy syrup: Raspberries or strawberries, boiled in water to make a syrup. Do not add sweetener.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve at breakfast with pancakes and sausage.

You may also enjoy these patriotic holiday recipes

Watermelon Stars

A Simple Food Platter

Berries and Cream

Fruit Salad

Berry Parfait

Happy 4th of July!

Shannon