Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Whole wheat tortillas!

The whole wheat tortillas at our local grocery store cost $3.85 for 8 small wheat tortillas. Yikes. Tortillas are super easy to make, so why pay $3.85 for 8 small, crumbly, dry, tortillas? I wouldn't.

Whole wheat tortilla recipe
4 cups whole wheat flour (always use freshly ground if possible)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup butter or oil
1 cup warm water

Combine dry ingredients into a bowl. Work in butter or oil. Add enough water to make a soft, pliable dough. Roll out into circles of your chosen size. Cook in ungreased heavy skillet over med-high heat. This recipe makes 10 large tortillas.

The Breakdown
So, what did these delicious and healthy tortillas cost me?

Wheat flour- about $0.09

Salt and baking powder. Minimal cost. Maybe $0.10

Oil. This is the costly item for this dish. I use extra virgin olive oil to make it healthy, but buy it in bulk to keep costs down. Cost for 1/4 cup oil $0.20

Total cost for 10 large whole wheat tortillas? $0.39

What makes them healthy?
Each tortilla has at least 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. Olive oil has been shown to protect against heart disease, raises good cholesterol while lowering bad, and contains antioxidants. Eating foods rich in fiber can help you sustain a healthy weight and keeps our colons healthy.

But fruits and veggies are expensive!

It used to be that when we were really having financial difficulties, the fruits and veggies would have to come off of the grocery list. Keeping fresh fruits and vegetables in the house with a large family can get very costly. Apples can cost around $2/lb and the kids can go through a pound or two a day. That can really add up.
Finally, I found the solution to my problem. There is a local food co-op in my area that has saved me! Food co-ops are run by volunteers which help to keep the price to the end consumer really low.
For $15, I get a variety of fruits and vegetables that would have cost me around $45 at the grocery store. There are a variety of food co-ops across the nation. The one that we use is You'd be surprised at how much fresh food $15 can buy.
Last week, there was about 30 lbs of produce and included things such as:

pomegranates, cantaloupe, grapes, avocado, romaine lettuce, carrots, apples, oranges, celery, tomatoes, cucumber, etc.

Each week, the fruits and vegetables vary depending upon what is in season.
If you want to keep eating fruits and vegetables, but don't want to pay grocery store prices, look into your local food co-op.

Homemade bread. A great place to start.

One of the first things I did when learning how to feed my family healthy food was to learn to make my own bread. Whole wheat bread from the grocery store can cost a lot of money and doesn't have even close to the same health benefits of wheat bread you make at home. Here is my favorite bread recipe:

BEST whole wheat bread

I get requests for my whole wheat bread recipe pretty frequently. This is a recipe that I twisted and tweaked until I got it just right. Now, it is the only recipe that I would consider using. It is very versatile. You can use it for dinner rolls, breadsticks, pizza crust, etc.

Whole wheat bread

8 cups whole wheat flour (freshly ground if possible)
1 TB salt
3 TB wheat gluten
2 TB dough enhancer*
1 TB yeast
3 cups warm water
3 TB oil or butter (I use olive oil when I have it)
3 TB honey

You will probably have different people telling you THEIR favorite way to make bread. This is the way that I do it, but you can take these same ingredients and do it the way that works for you!
Mix all the dry ingredients together (this includes the yeast if it is instant- if using regular yeast, sprinkle it on your water and let it start to activate). Add oil (I do this first and then the honey because it helps the honey slip out of the measuring spoon easier) honey, and water. You can use a mixer or mix with a big wooden spoon. Add water or flour if needed to make the right consistency. Knead for 5-10 minutes until you get a soft pliable dough.
Let rise until double in bulk in an oiled bowl covered either with plastic wrap (make sure to spray it with non-stick spray so it won't stick) or a wet cheesecloth.
Punch down and form into loaves and put in loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350 Let rise until double again (about another 1/2 hour). Bake for 35-40 minutes.

This bread has a wonderful chewy texture. It is not crumbly at all like many homemade wheat breads can be.

*dough enhancer can be bought at most grocery stores in the baking isle. I usually find it either on the top or bottom shelf. You can also buy in in bulk through companies like or Alison's pantry.

It's a little difficult to break down this recipe into costs considering I buy the ingredients in giant bulk amounts. For example, I don't buy whole wheat flour. I buy wheat and grind it myself in a nutrimill grinder. The best guess I have on the cost of 2 loaves of this bread is around $0.70.

That's pretty great considering the cheapest whole wheat bread at the grocery store is around $2 PER LOAF and isn't really whole grain. It's mostly white bread with a little wheat and some chemicals. YUCK! My homemade bread is $1.65 cheaper per loaf and is delicious!

Acorn squash french toast

One of the great ways that you can have frugal meals is to use up your leftovers in a creative way. This morning I was watching the news and they featured a recipe called "pumpkin french toast". I thought that sounded pretty good, but I don't have any pumpkin laying around. I do however have 1/2 of an acorn squash left over from dinner a couple of nights ago. So, I was off on an experiment this morning to make acorn squash french toast. I didn't listen to whatever their recipe was, so I just used some common sense and made up my own. Here is what I came up with:

1 cup acorn squash cooked and blended in the blender
4 eggs (or 4 whites and 2 whole eggs)
3/4 cup milk
1 TB cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp clove
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 loaf bread

Mix the squash, eggs, and milk together until blended nicely. I like to use a pie pan for my french toast mixens. It's wide enough to dip the bread but deep enough to hold all the liquids in. Add spices and mix in. Dip each slice of bread in the mixture making sure to flip over to coat both sides. Cook in a heavy skillet on med. heat flipping each side over when cooked thoroughly.

This recipe made 10 large pieces of french toast.

The breakdown
How much did this recipe cost me to make?

Acorn squash. This came out of the garden, so this was free!

Spices. I buy my spices in bulk at a cost of $4/1b of spice. At that price, the spices cost about $0.10

Milk at my favorite grocery store is around $1.75/gallon right now. However, this week we decided to buy raw milk from a friend for $3/gallon. It's a little more expensive, but is easier to digest and is much better for you than pasteurized milk. Milk cost $0.14

Eggs. We decided a while back to raise our own egg laying hens so that we would always have a supply of healthy eggs at home. Cost $0

Bread. I have been making my own whole wheat bread for years now. The stuff they call "whole wheat" at the grocery store has several problems with it. 1)it is usually not really whole wheat bread. It's white bread with a little wheat and some chemical coloring. 2) It's expensive. Whole wheat bread can cost up to $5/loaf! 3) It just tastes bad. I wanted my family to eat bread that was healthy without costing a fortune that actually tasted good, so I learned to make it myself. Cost for one loaf: around $0.35

Total cost for this healthy meal? $0.59

So, what makes this meal healthy?
Acorn squash is high in vitamins A, C, and iron. It is low in calories and fat free. Eggs are a great source of protein and only 80 calories each. If you use mostly egg whites, it's also low fat. The homemade wheat bread that was used has no artificial preservatives and is high in fiber (and great tasting, too).