Ever  have apples that are starting to get soft and mealy? Maybe their bruised and just don’t look too appetizing? Instead of just throwing them out, you can make applesauce! I’ve made it twice now and it’s really pretty easy.

Get some apples. This is the perfect way to use imperfect apples!

Peel them.

Chop up the apples discarding the cores. Put the apples, water and cinnamon in a pot on the stove.

Chop up the apples and throw away the cores. Put the apples, water and some cinnamon in a pot on the stove.

Turn on the stove and let the apples simmer until they’re really tender (note: I did have a lid on the pot, I just took it off for the picture). Let them cool a little.

Then put them in a food processor and give them a whirl (make sure to not get too much of the water or it’ll be runny). The first time I made applesauce I didn’t use the food processor, I just mashed them up which gives it a chunkier texture.

Taste and see if it needs sugar. If you used really sweet apples, it should be sweet enough by itself, but I did add a little sugar to mine this time.


  • Apples
  • Water
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  • Sugar (optional)


This post is linked at A Thrifty Mom and Little Natural Cottage.

You know those cream cheese spreads you can buy at the store? You can easily make your own at home, which is probably cheaper (although I haven’t done a price comparison), and it can be healthier too! Here’s an easy recipe for honey pecan spread.


  • 1 package cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup pecans chopped
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix it all with a hand mixer and wa-la! You can spread it on a toasty whole wheat bagel or dip your apple slices in it! And since you’re making this at home, you can switch it up and make it other ways too, try chopped walnuts or use brown sugar or maple syrup to sweeten it. If you’re trying to cut back on fat, you can even use low-fat cream cheese.

Also check out this similar recipe from Tammy’s Recipe’s I’ve made it and LOVE it for apples!


I’ve been thinking about making this post for months, but I’ve been dreading it because the options for lunch boxes are endless and it seemed overwhelming to me.Then I thought, “Why not just share what I do?” So instead of this being a comprehensive list of all lunch box ideas I’ve ever heard or seen, I’m just going to share with you what I normally do for Cameron’s lunches.

The Main Dish

  • Chicken Sandwich – When I started reading about the nitrates in lunch meats, I decided that I didn’t want to put that in Cameron’s lunch on a regular basis, so I started buying the more expensive all natural sandwich meat. But for the amount you pay, you get very little meat, that got me thinking of other options. Now I like to marinate some chicken breasts then cook them up and cut them into pieces. When I make Cameron’s sandwich I just grab the already cooked chicken from the fridge and put it in a sandwich. I can get about 3 sandwiches from one chicken breast. To add some extra crunch and nutrients try adding some home-grown sprouts (which reminds, me I haven’t grown any sprouts in months).

Chicken all ready to be put in a sandwich!

  • Pasta salad -  Sometimes I make chicken pasta salad and put that in his lunch or a pasta salad with Italian dressing, olives and pepperoni.
  • Bean burritos – Of course if you don’t have access to a microwave, they won’t taste as good.
  • Chicken or tuna with crackers  – I haven’t done this in a long time, but occasionally I’ll pack some chicken or tuna salad with crackers, like those tuna-to-gos you can buy.

Side Dishes

  • Fresh Fruit – Grapes, an apple, tangerine, cantaloupe pieces or whatever!
  • Fruit salad
  • Veggies and dip
  • Cucumber tomato salad
  • A tomato cut into wedges and sprinkled with lemon pepper
  • Toss salad
  • Ants on a log – Celery topped with peanut butter and raisins
  • Trail mix
  • Tortilla chips and salsa
  • Cheese sticks – Occasionally I’ll buy individually wrapped string cheese, but usually I just cut up some sticks from our big block of Sam’s Club cheddar cheese.
  • Muffins
  • Granola bars
  • Power pucks – These are pretty high calorie, but are nice to put in for breakfast, if he hasn’t already eaten.

These are my usual options, but sometimes I get something different to switch it up, like sesame sticks, potato chips or pretzels.

I usually just send water, but occasionally I’ll send some juice, Gatorade or homemade ice coffee.

What do you like to pack in your lunch box?

This post is shared at Good Cheap Eats for Kitchen Tip Tuesdays. Good Cheap Eats is hosting it for Tammy’s Recipes today.

When I buy food I tend to think of it’s cost compared to how filling it is. A sack of potatoes is cheap and it’s really filling, so it has a low cost per serving. An expensive type of lettuce would have a high cost per serving because it’s not very filling, so you need to eat more of it to fill up. But lately I’ve been trying to not think only about cost compared to how much it fills you up, but also cost per nutrition. Thinking this way is really helping me get the most bang for my buck nutrition-wise.

A perfect example is the other day when Cameron wanted to buy some juice that was priced over $6!! I’ve never spent that much on juice! But after thinking about it, it’s not as bad of a deal as it seems, because it’s a really healthy juice loaded with lots of different kinds of fruits and no high fructose corn syrup. It still cringe a little when I go to buy it, but I have to remind myself of all the vitamins that are in it, plus it’s a pretty strong juice so we usually water it down a little and that makes it go further.  I could be spending money on soda, which has no good nutrition at all. Looking at soda or kool-aid with the cost per nutrition mindset, you’re getting zero nutrition for however much money you spend on it. I’m not

saying we’ll never buy soda or kool-aid, but we definitely will keep it to a  minimum, because it’s not the best deal health-wise.

Since I have a tendency to be so cheap, I often pass up really healthy fruits and veggies because of the price. Now I’m trying to think about whether I want my grocery money going to some healthy fresh fruits or some junk food that offers little to no nutrition. And of course like I’ve talked about before there are plenty of healthy foods out there that aren’t expensive. Dry beans, raisins, bananas, oatmeal, brown rice, carrots and potatoes are all very low cost per nutrition, because they don’t cost a lot and you get a lot of nutrition out of all of them.

Cheesy Chili Popcorn

A couple of weeks ago we went to a used book store and I picked up a little recipe booklet called Healthy Snacks put out by Better Homes and Gardens. It’s hard finding snack ideas that are frugal, healthy and easy, so I hoped this book would help. So far I’ve only tried one of the recipes, but it’s a keeper! It’s called Cheesy Chili Popcorn.

Pop some popcorn (I make popcorn with a stove top whirley popper). Melt some butter (I melt it in the whirley popper after popping the popcorn so only 1 dish is dirty). Pour the melted butter over the popcorn then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, chili powder and garlic powder. It’s a really good salty snack, full of fiber and really cheap!

The exact ingredients are:

  • 8 cups popcorn (already popped)
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese

Here’s a healthy, delicious, and refreshing salad. My mother-in-law made it for us once, and I’ve been making it ever since. And it’s SOOO simple! All you need is:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • A little bit of olive oil
  • Lemon pepper or salt and pepper

Cut the tomatoes in wedges and slice the cucumbers. Then drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle on the seasonings then gently toss. It’s a perfect side dish on a hot summer day!

Salmon Patty Sandwich

Fish is a healthy protein, but it can be pretty pricey too. This recipe uses canned salmon, which is very affordable. It’s a great source of Omega-3 and it’s low in mercury (for more info on mercury in fish go here). A lot of cans of salmon have a salmon patty recipe on them, I use the can’s recipe and tweak it a little. Here’s my tweaked version:

  • 1 (14.75 oz.) can of salmon
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • lemon pepper (or any seasoning you like)
  • oil for frying

Mix all the ingredients except the oil. Form into patties (I usually get 3 large patties out of one can). Heat up a small amount of oil in a pan then cook the patties in it. Once the patties are golden brown on the bottom, flip and cook on the other side.

You can eat these just as is, on top of a salad or as a sandwich (that’s our favorite way).

Exercise is a part of being healthy, but so is eating right. I’ve heard so many people say that they can’t afford healthy food. I won’t deny that some healthy foods are expensive, but there’s actually a lot of very affordable healthy foods out there. You may even find that you eat cheaper when you eat healthy.

Here’s a list of a few cheap and healthy foods (this is by no means all of them):

  • Oatmeal – Has iron and fiber. Costs $2.24  for a big thing of it that makes 30 servings! Or if you don’t like eating hot oatmeal you can make granola out of it.
  • Potatoes – Keep the skins on, that’s where most of the nutrients are and nothings wasted.
  • Beans – High in fiber and protein. And they’re not only way cheaper than meat, but also a lot lower in fat!
  • Lentils – These are not only cheap, but easy to cook. Unlike beans they don’t need to be soaked overnight.
  • Raisins – I love dried fruits, but most are expensive and some have added sugar. But raisins don’t have extra sugar and they are the cheapest dried fruit I can find.
  • Fruit and veggies – Buy in season, locally grown and on sale to get the most for your money. I find that things like carrots, bananas and apples seem to pretty much always be cheap.
  • Whole wheat bread – It usually doesn’t cost much, if any more, than white bread, or you can make your own.
  • Brown rice – it only costs a little more than white rice, but it goes a long way.
  • Whole Wheat Pasta – I’ve only cooked with this a few times, but you can get it pretty affordably.

Here’s some other tips:

  • A lot of regular grocery stores are carrying health food items, and it’s probably cheaper there than at a health food store, but compare prices to make sure.
  • You may be able to get some healthy foods cheaper at warehouse stores. The cheapest unit price I’ve found on honey is at Sam’s Club.
  • Eat the right sizes, if you eat too much it not only isn’t healthy, it also makes your grocery bill higher.
  • Skip the unnecessary and completely empty calories like soda and candy. There’s nothing healthy in it and the cost really adds up. Save that money to buy healthy food instead.
  • Cook from scratch. You have more control over what goes in, and don’t have to worry about all the preservatives that are in prepared foods. Plus it’s usually cheaper.

Cereal is a perfect breakfast because it’s so easy and fast in the mornings. But if you look at the ingredients usually sugar is one of the first 2 ingredients. So here’s an alternative. This granola recipe only uses honey, instead of sugar, and it’s chock full of fiber. Just make up a batch every now and then and you have granola ready to go for many breakfasts to come! You can also use in it making peanut butter power pucks, or a yummy parfait.


  • 6 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 3/4 cup of honey
  • vanilla, maple flavoring, almond extract, cinnamon, or any flavoring you would like
  • Add-ins: raisins, craisins, chopped dates, sunflower seeds, coconut, chopped nuts or whatever else sounds good to you.

Melt the butter. Then mix all the ingredients, except the add-ins. Bake in a glass 9 by 13 pan at 350 degrees F, stirring occasionally. Bake until granola is light brown. Let cool then add dried fruit and nuts. Keep in an airtight container.

Wanna know the perfect thing to grow for non-green thumbs? You don’t even need a planter for this! Sprouts! They’re really healthy, especially since you can eat them at their peak all year long!

What You Need

We bought a sprouting jar that came with a jar and 3 different lids with differnent sized holes. But I read in a book (can’t remember the name of it) that you can just use any jar with some nylon (like from stockings) and a rubber band around the opening. Then all you need are seeds to sprout and water!

What to Do

All you have to do is soak the seeds overnight in your jar. I usually do about 1-2 tablespoons. Then rinse and drain them the next day and leave them upside-down or laying sideways so they can drain. Rinse them out a few times every day until they’re ready to eat. How many days it takes will depend on what exactly you’re sprouting. I’ve done alfafa and a spring mix, which has lots of different things in it. Sprouts are SUPER healthy, and a perfect way to get really fresh food, especially in winter or for those of us that don’t have a garden. If you can’t find any sprouting seeds, try a health food store, that’s where I get mine.

How to Eat Them

There’s endless ways to eat your sprouts. I saw a whole book with just sprout recipes at the library! I usually just throw them in a salad or on a sandwich. Some people use them in stir fries and wraps too.

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