I occasionally make fruity smoothies, but most of the time I do some variation of this one. It’s sooo yummy and helps with my ice cream cravings. Ice cream is probably my all-time favorite food, but I know that this is healthier and just about as good. I like to make it thick so it’s almost the consistency of soft serve ice cream. I don’t have exact ingredients, if you like it more peanut buttery, add more peanut butter. If you like it thicker add more frozen bananas, thinner, add more milk. I’ve done it with out the chocolate powder and chocolate chips. I’ve even thrown in raw spinach and leftover oatmeal.

  • Frozen bananas-This is one of many great ways to use up those browning bananas!
  • Milk
  • Peanut butter – I’ve done it both with natural peanut butter with no added sugar and with the regular peanut butter.
  • Cocoa powder – This is optional.
  • Chocolate or carob chips – Also optional.

Mix it the ingredients (except for the chocolate  chips) in your blender, then top with the chips and enjoy!!!



Today I made a big ol’ batch of this soup, some we ate for supper, some I’m going to freeze.  Its both a  super frugal meal, yet very nutritios. It’s filling and everyone in our family likes it. You can top with tortilla chips, salsa, sour cream, cilantro, jalapenos and cheese.

You can switch out the recipe in so many ways depending on what you have on hand, but here’s how I made it:

  • 2.7 lbs. of chicken thighs – You can use any kinds of chicken parts, but the thighs were on sale, so that’s what I used.
  • 8 cups cooked white beans
  • Veggie scrapsThis is one of the things that makes this so cheap, instead of buying broth for the soup, make your own while cooking up the chicken. I like to keep a bag in the freezer with veggie scraps.
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped – If you wash the carrots before peeling, add the peels to make your broth!
  • butter or oil
  • salt & pepper
  • taco seasoning – I don’t have a particular recipe, but it’s usually a combination of chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin. Although there are lots of homemade taco seasonings on the web, if you want exact proportions.

Other options: Diced onions sautéed up with the veggies would be tasty too, I was just out of onions this time. Corn is good in it too.

I had my white beans, soaked and cooked up the day before. So I started my cooking session with putting the chicken, veggie scraps and lots of water in my pressure cooker. I chopped the celery and peeled and chopped the carrots and included their scraps in the pot too. I added some salt and pepper, then cooked up the chicken. I love how I just have to turn the cooker on, let it cook at pressure for about 8 minutes, then turn it off.* It uses a lot less energy than just cooking in a regular pot. But you could also cook it up in a pot, or even use a crock-pot and do this part the day before.

Once your chicken’s cooked (and the pressure has released on the cooker) let the chicken and golden broth cool, then strain out the scraps and chicken. Toss the scraps and cut up the chicken into pieces.

Put the broth, chicken and beans all into a pot and add the sautéed veggies. Cook until every thing is heated through and the flavors have all melded, you can taste to see if you want to add more seasonings.

Cool and put in ziptop bags or containers for the freezer. And maybe enjoy some for supper tonight! :)

Dinner is served!



*If you use a pressure cooker, make sure to read the instructions in the manual for your own saftey.

For our drive down to Texas, I knew we’d be in the car all day, long enough for all 3 meals to be on the road….which could mean a lot of eating out and grabbing snacks at gas stations. That’s always been a weakness for us on road trips, but I determined to fight that temptation and take meals, snacks and drinks. Unfortunately on the drive down we did end up buying the kids some Gatorade and I had underestimated how much water we’d drink, so we bought some bottled water too. But no food was bought on the drive down (we did get some on the drive back though).

So what did I pack?

  • Quiche cups for breakfast. This was basically just eggs, milk, sausage, spinach and seasonings baked in a greased muffin pan. The only problem with these is we had to eat them cold, but other than that they were an easy to eat breakfast full of protein! And if you have a microwave, you could always heat them up before heading out the door.
  • I made a double batch of pizza muffins, much to the delight of the kids. They made a perfect lunch and I plan on making these in the future when we do more traveling. We just skipped the pizza sauce for dipping…I didn’t want to deal with that mess!
  • Wrap makings - Okay, I must confess we didn’t eat these on the road, but all the ingredients came back home with us and made for some quick meals after we got back. Instead of the wraps we just had snacks and more pizza muffins for supper. I packed wraps, lettuce, salami, cheese, and my favorite wrap filling….hummus! Wraps tend to hold together better than sandwiches, making them a nice choice in the car.
  • Snacks: Chips, grapes, apples, veggie sticks with hummus, animal crackers, raisins, almonds, peanut butter popcorn and gum. I know that sounds like a lot of snacks, but we didn’t eat them all in one day, and like I said, I was trying really hard to help us avoid buying overpriced junk food at gas stations.
  • Drinks: Water, juice pouches and homemade ice-coffee.

If we had bought 3 meals on the road, plus all our drinks and snacks on the way it would’ve cost way more, taken more time and been less healthy. Also when we did stop we were able to let the kids play instead of making them sit down in a restaurant, believe me they needed to run around!

What are your favorite foods to take on road trips?


Let me tell you something about Little Dude…he eats a lot of bananas. I almost always buy bananas and apples. Gracia happily munches away on apples, while Little Dude chooses bananas. So, since he’s been here, we have a lot fewer bananas that make it to the browning stage. But still sometimes we get those bananas that are getting soft and darker in color. But in theory (of course theory is always easier than real life) a banana should never be wasted cuz there’s just too many awesome ways to use them up!

When your bananas are getting brown, you can easily freeze them. I freeze my bananas in 2 ways:

  1. Just put the whole banana, peel and all into the freezer. This is the lazy-woman’s way, but it’s also a good way if you want to use the banana for bread or muffins, just take it out and let it defrost, it should mash up very easily.
  2. The second way is to peel and cut up the bananas, then put them in an airtight bag in the freezer. These bananas are perfect for using while still frozen in smoothies, or you can defrost them and use them in baking too.

15 ways to use bananas!

  • Fruit salad

  • Layer yogurt, granola and bananas for a delicious parfait.
  • Banana splits!
  • Banana pancakes - These are so yummy, I actually prefer them to regular pancakes, and since they have bananas in them they’re even sweet enough to eat without syrup or honey if you want.
  • Banana cookies - These are totally AWESOME!! The recipe only calls for 2 ingredients, oats and bananas, plus any other goodies you might want to mix in. I’ve mixed in chocolate chips and cocoa powder. They’re healthy, quick and the kids LOVE them!
  • Make healthy jello (without any added sugar) and put bananas in it.

  • Frozen peanut butter bananas – When I eat these I feel so elegant and luxurious! Who knew using up bananas could make me feel so fancy? There’s lots of varying recipes out there, but I like to just cut the bananas into bit sized pieces, then put a smear of peanut butter on them, then dip them in melted chocolate. Freeze and eat! Or you can melt the peanut butter in with the chocolate, then dip the bananas in it.
  • Frozen Banana Split Bites – I’ve never tried these, but they look yummy!
  • Popsicles, this recipe looks yummy. When I have leftover smoothie (which almost always have bananas in them) I like to pour the smoothie into popsicle molds for later.
  • Baby food...although this idea is best for those who  have babies.

BONUS TIP: If you have a pastry blender, they work great for mashing up soft bananas.

Do you have any other ideas for using up bananas?


Linked at Frugally Sustainable.


Pantry in our travel trailer we lived in for 2 years.

A guest post at Thankfully Thrifty called 5 Things You Won’t Find in my Pantry got me thinking and I came up with this post, which is the opposite. 5 things you WILL find in my pantry:
  1. Baking Supplies - White flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, etc… The wonderful thing about baking ingredients is you can whip up a variety of things, muffins, pizza crust, breads etc…
  2. Dry Beans – Instead of buying canned beans I usually buy bags of dry beans, it’s such a cheap source of protein and vitamins! I like to soak and cook a big batch and freeze them in bags for later use.
  3. Rice – Brown and white rice are a cheap staple for stirfrys, soups, breakfast rice and all kinds of things!
  4. Vinegar - I use this for salad dressing, window cleaning, occasionally laundry, and even in this cookie recipe!
  5. Oatmeal - Perfect for a breakfast of oatmeal, scrumptious granola, or toss in cookie, muffin and bread recipes.


What things are staples in your pantry?



This is definitely the most unique muffin recipe I’ve tried, but they were all consumed within 2 days, so I think that’s a good sign!


  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (yogurt would work too)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix quinoa, sugar, flours, baking soda, salt, chia seeds and sesame seeds. In separate bowl mix oil, sour cream, vanilla and eggs. Combine both bowls, then fold in the grated carrots.

Bake in greased muffin tins for 18-20 minutes or until done.

Yield: about 18 muffins

Here’s the original recipe with a few different ingredients.


Linked at A Blossoming Life and Living Well Spending Less.



We all know that a giant canister of oatmeal can provide many healthy and filling breakfasts, but what if you make too much? What can you do with that oatmeal other than re-heating it or dumping it in the trash? I’ve faced this dilemma myself and have had fun experimenting with recipes. Today’s recipe is a sweet bread, with wiggle room for variety.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (When I made this with chocolate chips, I only used 1/2 cup of sugar and thought it still tasted great).
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (I used unsalted)
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (rinsed)

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separate, then combine. Fold in blueberries or chocolate chips. Put in greased loaf pan and bake at 350 until done (45 minutes?).


Chocolate Chip - I’m sure you could do this many ways, but I’ve done ti with a cup of chocolate chips instead of blueberries.

Muffins - I’ve also made it into muffins, just decrease the baking time.

TIP: Since this recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter, that’s exactly one stick. Let the butter sit out a little before taking it out of the wrapper, then use the wrapper to grease your loaf pan!

Yummy bread, thanks to that leftover oatmeal!

Linked at A Blossoming Life and Tammy’s Recipes.

You all know how much I love muffins, so I was pretty excited about a library book called Mad About Muffins by Dot Varton!

I tweaked the sweet potato muffin recipe just a little and ended up making it this way:


2 C. white flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 c. brown sugar

1 egg lightly beaten

1/4 c melted butter

1 c milk

1 c. cooked and mashed sweet potato

1/2 c. carob or chocolate chips


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Mix the dry and wet ingredients separate, adding the sweet potato  and carob chips last. Put in greased muffin tins and bake 15-20 minutes or until done.

And if you like muffins too, I recommend checking out your local library to see if they have this book!


This post is linked at A Blossoming Life and Frugally Sustainable.



Grains are important in any frugal diet! They help stretch those other more expensive grocery items and add plenty of nutrients and fiber!

Go Whole Wheat

We all know that whole wheat is healthier than white, so most of the time opt for whole wheat breads, pastas and rice. Often the whole wheat varieties are the same price as the white, but even when they’re a little more expensive, I think it’s still worth the few extra cents.

Cook from Scratch

I do occasionally make whole wheat bread, but am by no means an expert! However, I do recommend an excellent post by The Frugal Girl called, “Does Homemade Bread Save Money?” She does an excellent price-break down and even compares the nutritional value of the ingredients.

Even if you don’t want to make your own sandwich bread, there’s plenty of other nutritious”breads” out there you can whip up, like corn tortillas which only consist of masa harina, salt and water. Or how about muffins from scratch? You can healthify them, but substituting some of the white flour for whole wheat, including fruits, cutting back on the sugar and using applesauce in place of the oil. Instead of buying cereal you can make your own granola. You could try this recipe that only uses honey to sweeten it or this clumpy recipe.

Gracia a couple years ago helping me bake bread.

Buy “Day Old” Bread

I’ve heard of “Day Old” Bread stores, but even if you don’t have that in your area, chances are your local grocery store will have a spot in the store where they sell reduced for quick sale bread. Keep your eyes out, as it often isn’t in the bread section where you’d expect it. Look over by the deli, meat department or freezer section, and if all else fails, ask someone!

Don’t Waste Stale Bread

Croutons, bread pudding, stuffing or bread crumbs are perfect ways to use up old bread. Some might consider this too gross, but I’ve even cut off small moldy parts of bread and eaten the rest of the bread that’s still good.

Brown rice is affordable and very nutritious!

Buy in Bulk

Grains are something you can usually get in bulk. Some people even buy their own wheat and grind it themselves. Buy the bigger bags of rice instead of the Minute variety. Buy oatmeal in a canister instead of the individual oatmeal packets, and  you can even make your own instant oatmeal packets.

Stock Up on Great Sales

Honestly I’ve yet to do this, but when you see things like flour go on sale, stock up! If you buy extra bread you can freeze it for later.

Grains are Great Fillers

Because so many grains (rice, oatmeal, etc…) are so cheap compared to things like meats, they’re a great way to fill up your family and stretch a meal. Serve them as a side dish or add a little extra to soups and casseroles.

Black Bean and Rice Burritos


Breakfast rice
The Gracious Pantry’s big list of oatmeal ideas
Homemade instant oatmeal packets
Honey Granola
Clumpy Almond Granola
Popcorn without a popcorn popper.
Homemade Corn Tortillas - Corn tortillas are healthier than white and so yummy when freshly made!
Amy Dacyzyn’s Universal Muffins – This is a great “recipe” for making muffins out of whatever you have on hand!
Whole Wheat Bread
Whole Wheat Honey Carrot Cake
DIY Bread Crumbs plus 8 ways to use up bread crumbs

This post is linked at Tammy’s Recipes.

I LOVE muffins! They’re fun to make, a quick breakfast, snack or dessert and can be pretty healthy! What’s not to love? I’m going to be trying various muffin recipes and if I like them I’ll share them with you too!

Morning Glory Muffins

Yesterday I made morning glory muffins, a recipe that my Mom sent me.


  • 2 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 white flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and grated
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I didn’t have any so I left these out)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Mix the first 5 ingredients together then add the carrots, apple, coconut, nuts and raisins.

In a separate bowl mix the eggs, oil and vanilla. Then mix it together with the rest of the ingredients.

Put in greased muffin tins or in tins with cupcake papers. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until done!



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