How to Bake on a Budget

If you’re baking on a budget, you need to be creative to ensure that you prepare quality products without straining your finances. However, this does not mean that you survive on minute rice and pasta every night! A little planning will turn your kitchen into a den of creative recipes that no one will believe that you conceived and implemented them on a budget.

The season is ripe for hot chocolate, frosted window panes, and roasting of chestnuts on an open fire. Do not be left behind just because you are on a tight budget!

You may want to invite your friends over for a glass of wine and gingerbread cookie. Everyone has that special urge to make your house smell of chocolate while treating your family for a decorating and cake-eating festivity. These feelings are absolutely normal and you shouldn’t resist!

We will give you several tips that will ensure that you achieve your baking desires.


Apply Smart Spending

When you are working with limited finances, you may have to think through the necessity of everything you purchase.  With a little preparation you can save money which comes in handy especially around holidays like the 4th of July or Christmas, where food and gift-exchanges like secret Santa are common additional expenses.  

We advise that you buy a few must-have baking ingredients (ensure that you do not overbuy; if you need 200 grams of a specific ingredient, ensure that you don’t buy a whole kilogram of the same). Some of the crucial baking ingredients that you may want to consider include vanilla extract, whole nutmeg, molasses, and cocoa powder.

For more savings, consider buying your baking supplies in bulk around November. These things often go on sale then!


Make Proper Use of all The Ingredients Already in Your Kitchen

Before you go out shopping, it’s necessary that you embark on a stock-taking activity to avoid double buying. Only buy those ingredients that you do not have. If you have some stocks, it’s paramount that you check the quantities and top-up in case they are insufficient.

You should optimally utilize all the ingredients. For example, you can brown your butter, and toast your nuts and spices to level them up. If you have anything that’s perishable or fragile, you should ensure that you store it inside your freezer for later use.


Use Your Leftovers to Bake

There is the point when your creativity will count! You can use your leftovers to prepare an incredibly delicious cake for your family. For example, you can use leftover eggs to create a tasty meringue. Need more ideas? Well, get this; you can use wine leftovers for making poached pears, and beer leftovers for making bread!


Be Creative and Crafty!

You can DIY some of the expensive baking ingredients which will help you to cut the cost of baking significantly. For example, you can make your coconut milk or almond meal at home!


Use Cocoa Powder

Using cocoa powder instead of chocolate is cheaper yet it makes equally delicious cookies! Use the trick to cut your baking cost by a significant percentage.


Make a Big Batch of Cookie Dough

You can prepare a large batch of  dough and then preserve it in the freezer. This will reduce waste and ensure that every time you need a cookie, you’ll get the best quality fast.


Bake a Loaf of Bread

If you need to satisfy your urge to bake but you do not have enough money, you can always bake a loaf of bread! You will just need to invest in a few packets of yeast and you’ll have your bread in a few hours.


Freeze Excess Fruits and Vegetables

When you realize that you have extra fruits and vegetables, never be in a hurry to discard them. Instead, you can freeze them and use them later.

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

Tips for Freezing Food with a Vacuum Sealer

If you rarely use your vacuum sealer and just place it on your kitchen counter, you are doing yourself a great disservice. Regular use of this remarkable appliance can save you some money, especially through extending your food’s life. What’s more, it allows you to shop and even cook in bulk. Here are some eight pointers outlined below to help you save both money and time through freezing your food with a vacuum sealer.


1. How do you Pre-freeze?

Bear in mind that when you place fresh berries in a freezer bag devoid of air, they will be crushed. Hence, make sure that you spread out and pre-freeze food items such as vegetables, meatballs, and fruits on cookie sheets. Also, pre-freeze various saucy items like pasta and soups in plastic containers.

Before you pre-freeze your foods, ensure that you pack it down with a spatula or even spoon to get rid of air bubbles. Afterward, when the items are frozen, remove them from the containers used in the pre-freeze process before you vacuum seal them.

2. When do you Freeze Cooked versus Uncooked Food?

Some meals such as sauces and soups reheat quite nicely even after freezing. On the contrary, there are other foods that you can put together and vacuum seal without having to cook them. For instance, each time I get a well-priced 3-pound pack of ground turkey, I usually mix and pre-make three batches of meatballs. As such, whenever meatballs are on my menu, I only need to get the frozen ones and cook them without having to deal with the hassles of mixing and forming them. Doing so not only saves the time needed to prepare meals but also allows you to get freshly cooked dishes with limited effort.

Freezer dishes are undeniably the ideal way to save a considerable amount of time, especially when preparing weeknight dinners after a long day at work. You can consider our time-saving and delicious solutions such as slow cooker freezer recipes, IKEA frozen meatball recipes and freezer-ready casseroles.

3. Label your Packages

You think remembering the package that contains the tomato sauce you prepared in July is easy? Well, six months down the line when you use the wrong package in preparing your meals, you will be forced to reconsider your packing process. To keep the confusion at bay, always try to label or write the name of each dish you make and include the date of preparation. Although a permanent marker is highly advisable for this process, you can also utilize a label maker.

4. Vacuum seal your Food not just for Freezing

Bear in mind that vacuum sealing can extend your food’s shelf life in both your pantry and refrigerator.  In case you have bought a big chunk of cheddar, vacuum seal half of it until you are done eating the first piece. What’s even more impressive about vacuum sealing is that it stretches the life of your dry foods, on condition that you leave a barrier between the power and the vacuum sealer.  For instance, you do not need to remove the original packaging that comes with flour, instead seal the entire package.

5. Double your Recipes and Freeze the Remainder

From now henceforth, always double any meal you know that freezes well. Instantly, ensure that you vacuum seal the additional dish in a bid it preserve it even at its peak. For example, disposable foil pans are an ideal way for storing dishes such as enchiladas. With two trays of the dish, cook one for dinner and vacuum seal the rest. Therefore, when you want to have some enchiladas next time, all you need to do is defrost and heat them.

6. Get yourself the Bags

Not all bags out there are designed for use with a vacuum sealer. You need to get the ideal ones for proper sealing. In fact, these special bags are made specifically for your vacuum sealer machine, as they can keep both moisture and air out while offering a completely tight seal.

7. Portion your Food Appropriately in the Bags

Most bags can be cleaned and even reused. Nonetheless, others like the ones used in preserving raw meat are not suitable since they may contain bacteria remnants. Even with that in mind, it is recommended that you freeze each meal according to portions the bags can handle. For example, when you purchase the three-pound pack of ground beef, divide it into three pieces of one pound each and freeze them.

8. Be your own Butcher

Owning a vacuum sealer will help you make some savings, mainly when you use it in preserving meat. You simply need to purchase steaks in bulk, and then seal and freeze them individually for eating whenever you want.

March Madness Half Court BBQ Pulled Turkey Sliders

SomeShadyBrookFarms_Logomark_Spot_v2times in those final seconds of the game you have to try for the half court shot. When it goes in the basket the crowd erupts and legends are made. This is exactly what happened with my Half Court BBQ Turkey Sliders when I passed them around the team. This entry into the Life of Dad #TurkeyMadness competition is inspired by my desire to take chances and wow the crowds which definitely makes this recipe a game changer. As you read through the game plan you will see that things don’t always go the way you might imagine. Just remember that this is #TurkeyMadness and anything can happen!

I picked up an eight pound Honeysuckle White Turkey Breast and a few other ingredients to get this party started. Go ahead and read on to get the details on how I made these tasty BBQ pulled turkey sliders. Honeysuckle White Turkey breast is so delicious for this recipe and it’s great knowing that these are premium turkeys raised without growth-promoting antibiotics and are very affordable. The party will definitely have their fill once they knock down these delicious (and nutritious) sliders.

Ingredients for Turkey:

Honeysuckle White Turkey Breast
Baby Tomatoes
Baby Carrots

Ingredients for Rub:
Spanish Paprika
Chili Powder

Ingredients for BBQ Sauce:
Chili Powder
Tomato Puree
Brown Sugar
Ground Cumin
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Wood Smoked Bacon

Additional Items:
Sweet Hawaiian Rolls
Cole Slaw


I will begin by saying that you could smoke your turkey or grill it. My original plan was to grill the turkey outside. The cards weren’t in my favor and the wind was too strong for me to do any cooking safely outside. So instead I went with the classic oven technique. Start off by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Prep your defrosted turkey by removing anything inside of it and washing the turkey with water. Dry with some paper towels and then put in your roasting pan. I added some cut up celery, carrots, baby tomatoes, and broccoli inside the turkey. I just grabbed what was left over on a veggie tray from Alex’s birthday party. Once it was filled up I started on a rub for the turkey.

IMG_3479Mix a good amount of Spanish paprika with pepper, salt, and chili powder. I did not use any exact measurements for the rub so I would recommend just mixing it all together and save whatever you don’t use for later. Spread the rub all over the turkey. Get it in all of the little spots and creases of the turkey so that it is just covered with this rub.

By this time you can probably put the turkey in the oven. Based on the weight of the bird will depend on your cooking time. I was looking at about four hours in our oven. So I added about two cups of water to the bottom of my roasting pan and put my bird in the oven.

IMG_3480Check on the turkey every so often and baste the bird with the juices from the bottom of the pan. This is going to help keep that bird nice and moist. Once there was a nice golden brown around the bird and it reached the right temperature it was time to get the turkey out and let it cool enough to be cut up and pulled apart.

Start pulling that turkey apart and placing the good stuff into a container and tossing the stuff you don’t need (or save the bones to make some turkey stock). Once you have everything pulled apart I would recommend sprinkling in some more of that rub you made earlier.

Set the turkey aside and keep it warm by placing it back in the oven or covering it while we make the BBQ sauce.

IMG_3485For this sauce we will first take a couple slices of apple wood smoked bacon and chop it up into small pieces and saute it in the bottom of a sauce pan until it is nice and crispy. Once that is finished add 1 cup of tomato puree, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup of water, 3 tablespoons of packed brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder. Bring it too a boil for a few minutes and then take the heat down to a simmer.  Salt and pepper to taste.

I love Hawaiian rolls. I think they are very sweet and add a lot to a slider. I like to prepare them on my cast iron grill. Spray the grill with a cooking spray and then set the rolls down for just a little bit. You can spread a little butter on the rolls to give them a little more flavor. Once you get a nice grill mark on the rolls they’re ready.

The Honeysuckle White turkey I used for this recipe is raised by 700 independent family farmers and is a delicious (and nutritious) protein you can feel good about eating. Shady Brook Farms and Honeysuckle White are regional turkey brands that offer a variety of turkey products to satisfy every guest. Not a fan of my sliders? I may even have a turkey burger recipe coming soon! Just remember to always cook turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

IMG_3487bNow my Half Court BBQ Pulled Turkey Slider is just about ready. Grab you rolls, add some turkey and some sauce. If cole slaw is your thing feel free to add some, but it’s not necessarily. Get ready for some fantastic #TurkBQ madness. This sandwich is definitely ready for the big dance.

Enter the dance yourself and win a $250 Visa Giftcard!

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad   and Shady Brook Farms / Honeysuckle White for this promotion.

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