Our family was recently invited to a “potluck” type Christmas party. And my husband suggested that since we have so many hatch peppers growing in our garden, we should make and take something featuring our peppers. Well, I put the peppers in almost every entree I make, but I don’t make anything that “features” them. So, I looked online for a recipe and found one. I wasn’t quite sure about it but it was worth a try. The only problem is that I should have tried it out for us before making it on the day of the party.
Long story short, it was not good. I needed a plan be and fast. Thankfully, a fast, easy, tried, AND tested recipe came in handy. They are healthier than most cookies but still so yummy. We use all organic ingredients, including raw honey and raw milk (from a local dairy). This is our latest go-to recipe just around the house, partly because they are tasty and healthy but mostly because they are very easy to make. They saved the day for us.
If you need an easy, tasty, and healthy back up, here it is.
3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup ground flax
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut oil or butter (melted)
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 – 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, depending on your taste preference
1. Combine all the dry ingredients into a small bowl and mix.
2. Mix all wet ingredients in a large bowl (make sure you have melted the oil or butter you are using).
3. Pour the dry ingredients into the large bowl and blend.
3. Mix in the chocolate chips.
4. With a spoon, form cookies and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
5. Bake for 10-12 at 350.
What are your favorite go-to quick, easy, and healthy recipes?
I’m pretty sure that we’ve now officially entered the “late shopping” zone. If you are still shopping today, it’s late! But it’s not too late to come up with some frugal and personal gifts for friends and family members. I actually thought that I was done with all my shopping until just a few days ago. We decided to get together with some friends for dinner this week. It dawned on me that we should get them a little something. I racked my brain trying to think of something that would be personal, practical, and frugal for a family of six.
Then, it came to me! (And I just had to share it.)
So, here are just a few tips to making a gift basket suited to the recipients tastes and to your budget.
1. Personal does not have to be expensive.
Our friends share the desire to eat healthy but have admitted to needing a re-start and not really knowing where to start. Since eating healthy (or, mostly healthy) is so important to us, it was easy to figure out what to put in the basket once the idea finally came to me.
I went to Costco and bought the same coconut oil we have been using lately… for just $12.
Then, I happened to find a coupon for one of my favorite brands of raw honey. So, I got this for $6.99.
We bought an extra gallon of raw milk (from our local farmers) to add to the basket. That was $7.50.
2. It can be pretty and practical.
Then, I put all three items in a basket that I’ve had around (and never used) and tied some ribbon around it.
3. It doesn’t have to be complicated! I actually enjoyed doing it. Those of you who are much more creative will be able to make it look so much cuter than I made mine. But, you get the idea. It works. We know they will like it because of what we know about them and we were able to make it happen fairly easily.
So, even if you’re shopping at the last minute, you don’t have to spend a ton of money or time to make a special gift for a friend.
What other gifts have you made for friends or family members?
You may already know that stores have sales cycles that change every month or so. Often they stock up on certain items (often ones related to the holidays or seasons) that then need to be removed from the shelves once the appropriate time has passed. When those stores are looking to move items from their shelves is the best time to buy those particular items.
Let’s move from the abstract to the concrete as we look at what items are discounted this month.
1. Baking Supplies. The best thing about baking supplies going on sale is that they are easy to store. If you use baking cups regularly, be on the look out for discounts. Also, if you don’t mind the holiday decorations on them, you will be able to get those at half price or better on the day after Christmas. You’ll also find flour, spices (I just bought organic spices at 50% off last week!), chocolate chips (which store very easily in the freezer or the pantry), condensed milk, and pumpkin puree (who says you can’t have pumpkin pie in January!) discounted this month.
2. Thrift Store Merchandise. This is not as much about a discount as it is about availability and selection. A lot of people are trying to get last minute donations in before the end of the year for tax purposes. So, thrift stores like Goodwill and other organizations (with the tax-exempt status) will have plenty to choose from by the end of the month.
3. Gift Cards. Right now there are lots of promotions offering “bonus cash” if you buy a gift card. So, if it’s a store or restaurant you frequent regularly and you have the cash (after you’re done with all your shopping), then it’s a great way to maximize your money.
What else do you buy in December?
1. Procrastinate. To be honest, sometimes procrastinating at this time of the year ends up working for you, as some of the deals right before the big day are fantastic deals. (I think of those amazing deals the day before Christmas as a reward for the trauma of dealing with all the other procrastinators in the store with you.) Procrastination will not work for you, though, when it comes to ordering and shipping gifts. Waiting until the last minute can be very expensive with expedited shipping costs. A little bit of planning can save you a lot of money.
2. Buy Expensive Wrap. Holiday wrapping paper can be very expensive. While I do appreciate some of the fancy paper, I always remind myself of how that paper will end up only minutes after the presents are taken out from under that tree. Don’t do it. If you didn’t purchase your paper after Christmas last year (which you should always plan to do), then go to the dollar store and get it there. The only one who will know the difference is you–and your wallet.
3. Don’t Plan. You know what it’s like to shop for groceries without a list, right? You ALWAYS buy more than what you intended (and usually forget something that should have been on the list)! Don’t approach holiday shopping that way. Get a plan and do your best to stick with it. If you don’t, you’re likely to be lured by all the advertisements and “great deal” labels that don’t necessarily mean a thing.
4. Treat Yourself With a Big Gift. Buy yourself a fun cup of coffee, chocolate, a pastry, or even a candy cane instead. Don’t splurge in the name of treating yourself; you and your bank account may regret it later.
What do you do to stick to your holiday budget?
It’s not yet Christmas and I feel like I’ve been cooking and baking almost non-stop these days. One more weekend coming up between now and Christmas will likely mean more parties, get togethers…and more cooking. In case you find yourself needing a little break, make it a thrifty one. Here are a bunch of deals you can get right now. Give yourself a break without breaking the bank. Check out the great restaurant coupons and deals below.
Spend $8.00, Receive $2.00 with Ibotta.
Click here to print a coupon good for a free dessert with the purchase of one regular sub and fountain drink. This offer is valid through 12/16.
Click here to print a coupon good for a free appetizer or kid’s meal with the purchase of one adult entree. This offer is valid though 12/31.
Click here to print a coupon good for a $5.99 adult buffet. This offer is valid through 12/14.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill
This coupon gets you $5 off your next visit. This offer is valid through 1/4.
If you join Club Cinnabon here, you’ll get a coupon good for a free Minibon cinnamon roll and free MochaLatta.
How does endless appetizers for $10 sound? 🙂
Here’s a coupon for $1.00 off a regular Grand Gobbler sandwich. This offer is valid through 12/31.
Mix and match two sandwiches for only $5.00. You don’t need a coupon for this deal.
Click here to print a coupon good for a free combo meal upgrade with any purchase.
Hardee’s has a lot of freebie and $1.00 off coupons here.
How about a free pizza? Get a free pizza with every $25.00 gift card purchase. This offer is valid through 12/31.
Anybody else already tired of being in the kitchen so much?
You’ve put up your decorations. You’ve begun shopping and maybe even wrapping presents. You’re gearing up for the holiday you’ve waited for all summer. 😉 Okay, so maybe you haven’t yet, but I have.
Maybe it’s the planner in me. Maybe it’s the shopper in me. Whatever it is, I have started thinking about what deals I’m going to be looking for on December 26.
As our family decorated the tree this year, we managed to break an ornament. We broke a couple last year because the little ones couldn’t keep their hands off of the shiny, colorful “balls” on the tree. So, I’m taking notes.
1. Tree Décor. Take note of the tree décor you have and what you’d like for next year. Maybe you would simply like to replace ornaments that have been broken or lost. Perhaps you’re thinking you’d like to make more dramatic changes and alter the style or color combinations on your tree. You’ll never have a better perspective on the changes you’d like make than right now.
2. Wreaths and other holiday décor. I got a great deal on a wreath about six years ago. It’s been a great wreath. But, it was one of those that you buy green to add your own decorative pieces. It was a fantastic deal and super cute. But, some of those pieces are falling off now. So, I’ll be looking for deals on wreaths on December 26 this year so that we can be ready with a wreath for next year. If you have tablecloths that are worn or if you added another table to your holiday supplies (as we did), you may need a new tablecloth for next year. The best time to get the best price on a holiday tablecloth will be right after Christmas.
3. Lights. They can be such a headache. How is it that in the year that they simply sit in storage, they just decide to stop working? That happens every year it seems, right? Don’t wait until next year to be reminded how many strings stopped working this year. Take notes and replace them in two weeks!
4. Wrapping paper. I almost always buy Christmas wrapping paper the day after Christmas. It’s always at least 50% off right after the holidays. Since it’s so easy to store, it’s worth it.
Bonus Tip: Many stores now begin their Christmas clearance markdowns as early as December 23rd. So if there’s something that’s a high priority on your shopping list, it may be worth it to take a look early!
Will you be doing any Christmas décor shopping the day after Christmas?
Shopping for gifts can be fun and joyful or it can be stressful and frustrating. The difference is not simply about when and where you go shopping for your gifts but in how much you actually have to spend. When funds are tight, buying gifts can feel like a heavy burden. It can become difficult to imagine buying an iPad for your teenager when you know that he or she needs gas money or new shoes. So it’s important to keep in mind that giving can still be joyful if what you’re giving is something more practical than fun.
Here are a few gift ideas that may not seem exciting but would still be a blessing to a person who could use them:
•Gas cards for the teenagers
•A grocery store gift card for a friend or relative
•Paying a relative’s cable bill
•Drugstore gift certificates for family members
•Gift certificates at a campus bookstore for students
•Car insurance payment for college students
•Pizza delivery coupons for a college student
•Household or bath essentials
•Batteries or a battery charger
Stockings are also a fantastic place to stuff practical gifts. Items such as chap stick, shaving cream, razors, deodorant, and shampoo and soaps are great choices mixed with fun, but inexpensive, treats…like chocolate! 😉
Children don’t appreciate unwrapping practical gifts quite as much, however. That does not mean, though, that they need to have twenty boxes of toys to open up on Christmas morning. Opt for buying fewer but higher quality toys for younger children. They don’t know how many you wanted to buy them. Buy toys they like but give yourself a limit (either the number of toys or amount you can spend) so that things don’t get out of hand.
What other practical gifts have you given or received for Christmas?
It’s sweet potato season, in case you hadn’t noticed. You can get sweet potatoes at amazing prices right now. We happen to have a bunch because we grew sweet potatoes in our garden this year. So, it has been fun coming up with various recipes to use the yummy veggie.
This weekend my husband asked for a sweet potato pie. We had made one for Thanksgiving. One that was full of butter and sugar, among other things. All that sugar was part of our Thanksgiving exceptions. This time, I didn’t want to make an exception. Instead, I thought I’d give the same recipe (from Paula Deen) a healthier makeover. I cut the amount of sugar used and replaced it with honey and I substituted coconut oil for the butter. I did the same thing for the pie crust. I don’t think I have ever made pie crust by substituting coconut oil for butter. But, since the pie was just for our family, I thought I’d give it a try. (It worked!) So, here’s what I did.
2 cups peeled, cooked sweet potatoes
3/4 cups honey or maple syrup
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup milk
9 -inch unbaked pie crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the filling, using an electric hand mixer, combine the potatoes, the honey or maple syrup, the coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, salt, and spices. Mix thoroughly. Add the milk and continue to mix. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for about an hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
The coconut oil won’t give you a flaky crust; it’s crunchier. But we like it! And while my ideal “healthy” pie would substitute some other kind of flour for the white flour, overall it’s a healthier yummy rendition of an old time favorite!
How do you make old time favorites a little healthier?