The Chocolate Secret

Chocolate Bars

There are only a few delicacies affordable for the average person and chocolate is one of them.

In an effort to make chocolate more affordable to our family, I have found a couple of secrets and I am sharing them here with you.

Least Expensive Quality Chocolate Bars

I only eat bars with 60% or more coco in them – no Hershey’s® for this gal! My two preferred bars are Lindt® and Ghiradelli® 60% or 70% cocoa bars. The typical price I have seen for these 3.5 ounce bars are around $3.00 per bar. Walmart® has the best prices I am aware of for the past year, ranging from $2.40 – $2.70 per 3.5 oz bar and this was the price I was (willing) to pay…until I discovered a secret:

If you go to the baking isle of Walmart® and look amongst the baking chocolate, Ghiradelli® has a 4.0 ounce baking chocolate bar – for $2.08.

So, not only is the bar bigger, but it costs $.30 to $.60 less than the candy bar. The ingredients are the same as the one in the candy aisle, only the packaging is different. I (although I admit I don’t have the most discerning palate) can not tell the difference in flavor / taste.

Now, in all fairness, when I went to the candy aisle this week to pick up the 3.5 oz bar for the photo shoot, I did notice the price was lower – $2.23 to be exact or $.63 per oz. The baking isle bar is $.52 per oz.

Make Your Own Simple, Healthy, Cheap Chocolate

I came across a recipe awhile ago in my search to make my own chocolate using coconut oil, and after a little modification can produce a homemade chocolate bar that I enjoy and know is healthier and cheaper than most of what can be found on the store shelves. The recipe follows:

Ingredients:

½ cup coconut oil

¼ cup raw cane sugar

½ cup cocoa powder (100% cocoa)

Instructions:

1) Grind the raw sugar (blender, coffee grinder, etc..) – this makes it “powdered” and will dissolve easier in the coconut oil.

2) In a small pan, heat the oil on medium-low. Add the sugar and stir gently for a couple of minutes until the sugar is dissolved.

3) Add the cocoa and stir until the cocoa is well blended.

4) Pour the mixture into a well greased small baking dish and then put in the refrigerator to set for a couple of hours – or if you can’t wait that long to dig in, put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

5) Since coconut oil melts at 76 to 78 degrees, you will have to store your chocolate bar in the fridge.

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Super Simple Menu Plan: One Week Of Meals For Less Than $100

Menu

Our goal for a family food budget is $450 per month. This means that we have $100 or less to shop on each week (since there is 4 ½ weeks to almost every month). We eat fresh, healthy, whole, homemade food, which means very few coupons are useful to us. So how do we do this?

The following is our menu for a week, which I plan Thursday to Wednesday, since Thursday is my usual shopping day:

Thursday –

Breakfast: homemade whole grain waffles with maple flavored agave syrup.

Snack: ½ orange

Lunch: tuna-fish sandwiches on homemade bread (with pickles)

Dinner: Black beans with shredded cheese and tortilla chips

Friday -

Breakfast: ½ banana, oatmeal with non-dairy milk and honey

Snack: store-bought cheesy crackers (with whole grains and real cheese)

Lunch: tuna-fish sandwiches on homemade bread (with pickles)

Dinner: top-sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and carrots, homemade bread, ice cream

Saturday -

Breakfast: grape juice, ½ banana, cold cereal (whole grain, low sugar), non-dairy milk

Snack: store-bought ginger snap cookies (natural, no artificial ingredients)

Lunch: top-sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and carrots, homemade bread

Dinner: mixed veggies and pirogies

Sunday -

Breakfast: oatmeal with berry mix, honey, non-dairy milk

Snack: ½ orange, ¼ protein bar

Lunch: mixed veggies and pirogies

Dinner: Black beans with shredded cheese, tortilla chips, salsa, Panda black licorice

Monday -

Breakfast: grape juice, ½ banana, cornmeal mush with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack: cheesy crackers and peanut butter (no salt or sugar added)

Lunch: veggie salad and tortilla chips

Dinner: whole grain pasta, marinara sauce with ground turkey sausage

Tuesday -

Breakfast: oatmeal with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack: ¼ orange, whole wheat crackers

Lunch: homemade artisan bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, mixed veggies

Dinner: whole grain pasta, marinara sauce with ground turkey sausage

Wednesday -

Breakfast: cornmeal mush with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack:  gingersnap cookies and ice cream

Lunch: homemade artisan bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, mixed veggies

Dinner: veggie stir-fry with rice noodles

If you would like to see any of the recipes, please post a request. I would love to hear your healthy, simple menus – post a link if you have one!

Blessings and healthy eating.

 
YWAM

Tell Her That She Counts!

Tell Her That She Counts!

Poverty. Malnutrition. Inequality.

This is the stark daily reality for too many women in India—and they see no way out.

As I started to learn about the harsh realities these women survive every day, I was inspired to take my own challenge for the She Counts campaign—to bring health, hope, and Christ to these women (and their families!).

For every $30 I give, one person in India receives a year of literacy classesthrough Mission India.

For $30, a student will learn about proper nutrition, cleanliness, and avoiding diseases. Graduates reach a 5th grade education and learn practical skills like how to start and maintain a business  to hlep lift their family out of poverty—using materials common in their area to make things like soap, cleaning detergents, and brooms. They learn that women and girls should be valued and treated with dignity. Best of all, students are introduced to Christ through the Bible-based lessons!

You can help me reach my goal faster by donating right here on my challenge page! http://www.stayclassy.org/SchroaderFundraiser

My campaign ends on March 8, 2014 (International Women’s Day)—and between now and midnight on the 8th, every dollar will be matched!

Tell Her That She Counts!

The Work At Home Mom: A Penny Saved

Stack Of Pennies

A Penny Saved…

What IF, the first thing you need to do as a mother working from home, is not to figure out which product to sell, MLM to get in on, or party business to throw next? What if, instead, you need to figure out how to make use of what you already have?

Ben Franklin said: “A penny saved is a penny earned.” And God calls us to be a good steward of the money and things we already have.

Could you consider for a moment that you might do more for your family by learning how to budget, save, and make use of what you already have than you would by selling Amway (or Avon, or Scentsy or ???)? Not that I am nay-saying these legitimate businesses, some of which have great products.

I am just suggesting that before you commit yourself to a business and the work that comes with it, that you are sure you are already doing everything you can with what you already have.

It is a much simpler life (and therefore a lot less stress) to do so.

Here is an example:

Our “household items” budget was too big and we needed more money to spend on food. One item that we were purchasing monthly kept bothering me – paper towels. We were spending $15 – 20 a month on paper towels and that just seemed like a waste to me. So, I purchased a 12 pack of colorful wash-cloths for $5 and started using them as our cloth napkins at the table. We started to use old towels as rags for cleaning and we almost eliminated the use of paper towels in our household. Even considering washing a load of towels every week or so, we are saving at least $15 a month from our budget.

This is $15 I did not have to go and earn. I just made a simple change in how we do things around the house. Everyone got use to it and our environment is a bit happier for it too.

The practical to do:

Make a list of why you want to start a businesses from home. If one of the main reasons is money, then make a list of what you want the money for. Then, consider it for a few days. Are there other ways to get the money?

  • by saving from income already coming in

  • by reducing your budget in some way

  • by selling things you don’t really use or need

  • by creating something out of stuff you already have and selling it

Next: How to Start Budgeting

What if you have no idea what your household budget is, or what you spend on anything in a give month? Where should you start? 

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,400 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 40 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Three Injera Recipes

Image

Based on my $25 weekly menu, I have had some requests for some of the recipes.

Here is a link to a traditional, Ethiopian Injera Recipe using teff flour:

http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/bread/recipe-injera.html

If you forget to start your Injera one or more days before you want to cook and eat it, you can use this quick version. This is one I have used a few times and it is good, although I wouldn’t call it traditional or as healthy:

http://www.aspicyperspective.com/2012/03/ethiopian-recipes-injera-doro-wat.html

The following is my “Americanized” version of Injera. I still ferment it for a day:

Americanized Injera Recipe with variations

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups rice flour

4 cups water

2 tsp salt

oil for cooking (grape-seed, coconut, olive)

Instructions:

  1. Mix the whole wheat flour, the rice flour and the water in a non-metal bowl. It should be thin like crepe batter.

  2. Let stand in bowl for 1 day (24 hours or close) with a cover over the bowl.

  3. Add and stir in the 2 tsp salt before cooking.

  4. Add a small amount of oil to a fry pan or wok on medium heat (just to coat the bottom).

  5. Pour in enough Injera batter to cover the bottom of the pan.

  6. Cook for a couple of minutes. Flip and cook for another minute or two.

  7. Remove from pan.

  8. Serve while warm or keep warm in oven until all are finished.

Variations:

Other flours that can be used besides rice flour: buckwheat, millet, lentil, garbanzo.

Holiday flair: Add two cups mashed pumpkin or squash right before cooking.

Spices: Try cardamom, gram masala, or cumin, depending on what you serve it with.

We have enjoyed this bread with lentil curry stew and chutney and just by itself.

Let me know if you have any favorite variations of it!