Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sweet Potato Chips

Have you ever had sweet potato chips?  They’re pretty much the best thing ever.  When I was pregnant with Spencer I ate a ton of them made by Route 11. Crazy good!   Fast forward to this morning, when I found myself giving a dry-looking sweet potato sitting on my counter the stink eye.  “What am I going to do with you?”  I saw on Pinterest that you can make potato chips in the microwave, but even though that sounds novel, it also sounded a little gross.  I used a Martha Stewart recipe to point me in the right direction for making them in the oven, and took it from there.

You will need

1 sweet potato ($.87)

2 Tbsp olive oil ($2.99 per lb, .06lb x $2.99 = $.18)

Salt to taste, ½ tsp (est) ($.47 per 26oz, $.47/30.69tsp = $.02 x .5 tsp = $.01)

I've definitely seen fresher sweet potatoes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Slice the sweet potato in ¼” rounds (you can peel it first if you want, I left the skin on).  It’s more important that the slices are even than that they are ¼”.  Toss the slices with 1 Tbsp of the oil.  Spread the other Tbsp of oil evenly onto a baking sheet. Spread the slices onto the sheet in a single layer and bake for about 30 minutes, flipping them half way though, and watching them CLOSELY towards the end!  Remove them from the pan when they come out of the oven to stop the cooking process, and sprinkle them with salt.
A little dark, but still great.

Right towards the end of the baking time Spencer’s preschool carpool pulled up and the chips got a little overcooked, but they were still delicious!

Try It

$1.06 per… I ate them all before I could weigh them.

Buy It

$1.50 per 1.5oz bag


Well, it’s hard to compare since not only did I eat them ALL before I thought to weigh them, but they’re also just really different.  I like that mine don’t involve a plastic bag, and they’re pretty tasty, so I’ll say Try It.  I think I prego burned out on the Route 11 version, anyway. You could also go a cinnamon and brown sugar route seasoning them, I do that to wedges sometimes (in which case you would add the seasonings to the olive oil before tossing).  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Brown Sugar Oatmeal "Packets"

Spencer loves oatmeal, the sticky glue type that comes in packets that my mom keeps.  I won’t buy them, I think they’re gross.  Thankfully, there seem to be a number of recipes floating around to mimic these.  I first saw the idea on The Simple Dollar, but that wasn’t so much a recipe as a guideline.  I found this one on Allrecipes.  I liked it because it was simple and used old fashioned oats which have a much better texture than instant.  I only made half a batch of the original in case I didn’t like it, and made a few slight changes.

You will need

2 cups organic old-fashioned oats ($1.49 per lb, $1.49/16oz = $.09 x 8oz = $.75)

½ cup wheat germ ($2.79 per 16oz, $2.79/3.5 cups = $.79 x .5cup = $.39)

6 Tbsp packed brown sugar ($1.79 per 32oz, $1.79/4.73cups = $.38 x .375 cup = $.14)

½ tsp cinnamon ($1.97 per 2.37oz, $1.97/2.37oz = $.83 x .03oz = $.02)

This is what I decided powdery looks like, but if it's too coarse you could blend everything again after tasting it.
Put the oats in a food processor, and blend until kind of powdery.  Add the remaining ingredients, and pulse until combined.  Store in an airtight container.

To prepare oatmeal, pour ¼ cup of mixture into a bowl.  Add ¼ cup milk, stir to combine, and microwave 
for 30 seconds. 
It looks terrible, but it was delicious!

Try It

$1.30 for 10 37.5g servings, or $.13/serving ($.35 per 100g)

Buy It

$3.59 for 10 43g packets of Quaker’s Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal, or $.36/packet ($.83 per 100g)


Holy moly that stuff is good!   I was expecting to feel better about Spencer eating it since it’s not pasty and sticky sweet, but since I’m not a big oatmeal person, I didn’t expect to like it myself.  It has texture and flavor.  Definitely Try It! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Biscuit Baking Mix

I make biscuits from scratch.  They’re too easy to cheat.  My friend made a crustless quiche that was really fantastic, so I asked for the recipe, and it included biscuit mix.  Since I had no intention of using a whole box, I looked up a recipe.  Easy peasy.  I only made .83 of the original recipe, because who needs 11 cups of biscuit mix?  Crazy!

You will need

 ¾ cup, 1 Tbsp, and 1 tsp organic flour ($4.99 per 5 lb, $4.99/80 oz = $.06 x 4.58oz = $.29)

2 tsp baking powder ($1.79 per 10oz, $1.79/59.06tsp = $.03 x 2tsp = $.06)

½ tsp sugar ($2.99 per 5 lb, $2.99/80oz = $.04 x .08oz = less than $.01)

1/8 tsp salt ($.47 per 26oz, $.47/30.69tsp = .02 x .125tsp = less than $.01)

1 Tbsp and 2 tsp vegetable oil ($2.79 per 32fl.oz, $2.79/32fl.oz = $.09 x .83fl.oz = $.07)

Mix all the powdered ingredients together in a bowl.  Add vegetable oil and mix it in with your fingers till it feels crumbly.  

The line up-

Vegetable oil feels so soft and lovely when you're mixing it into the flour.
The quiche turned out wonderfully.  I can’t speak for making actual biscuits from this stuff, I imagine they are passable, but why not make real ones?

Try It

$.43 for about .78cup, or $.55/cup

Buy It

$3.79 for a 40oz (8.75 cups) box of Jiffy Biscuit Baking mix, or $.43/cup


Even though it’s more expensive to do so, I will continue to Try It because it’s really fast and easy and I use it so infrequently.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Downsizing a shower caddy and other stories

Lettuce vs Spring Greens

I used to buy spring greens.  I know, they’re expensive.  But they seemed so convenient, they were just ready to go when you opened the container, and they were tasty!  Not so convenient, though, was dealing with the disgusting remains in the container when it inevitably went bad before I could eat it all.  What a waste, not to mention the container itself!  Then when I went on my crazy Caesar salad kick I remembered hearing somewhere that if you keep lettuce in the salad spinner it’ll keep for a long time.  Boy does it keep!  It’s awesome!  If you have the fridge real estate to devote to the spinner, give it a try.  

 Swiffer Replacement Pads

I bought a Swiffer years ago to take care of the minimal mopping I do.  In my quest to reduce waste, I stopped buying the Swiffer wet pads, but I didn’t have a plan for what I would replace them with.  Looking at the Swiffer pad, you can see that any cloth would fit into those little spots on the top, so I shoved a micro fiber cloth in there, and tried spraying the floor directly with my vinegar mixture.  And guess what- it works just as well, costs much less, and leaves no faky clean smell!  Success!  They also work pretty well as a sweeper pad replacement when you use it dry (Spencer does this for me sometimes and calls out “Swabbing the deck!”).
Any cloth will do!

Downsizing in the Shower

Change has come to my shower, but I’m not done yet!  I started to write all this out, but I thought it might be easier as a table:

Products I used 2 years ago
Products I currently use
Products I’d rather be using
Sisal bath mitt
Skintimate shaving gel
Reject conditioner
Bulk soap
Venus razor
Venus razor
Safety razor
Oil of Olay soap
Bulk soap
Bulk soap
Liquid face wash
Aveeno face soap bar
Bulk face soap
Suave shampoo
Suave shampoo
Baking soda rinse
Suave conditioner
Suave conditioner
Cider Vinegar rinse
Method baby shampoo
California Baby shampoo
Bulk soap, solid shampoo
Method kid shampoo
Reject shampoo, bulk soap
Bulk soap, solid shampoo

So you can see what I’ve switched out in my attempts to simplify.  Some change comes slowly, since it takes a while to perfect a routine, and I first need to use up all the crappy conditioner and whatnot I have in my cabinets.  My method for using it up is to use bad conditioner as shaving lotion, and use bad shampoo on the kids (well, just Spencer, Elizabeth will be using her California Baby shampoo till it’s gone, which might be another year at this rate!).  I’m really interested in trying out the no ‘poo method of washing my hair, but I’m waiting till summer when I don’t have to look as presentable since I hear there is a transition period where you look terrible. 

So there are three of the ways I’m trying to reduce my waste and simplify my life these days.  What about you?  What change have you made that makes your life easier?