Homemade Chocolate Syrup Recipe

photo(8)I love vanilla ice cream……but only if it is smothered in chocolate syrup!

A few months ago I had some ice cream in the freezer, my kids were in bed, and my husband was in another country on a mission trip.  I NEEDED CHOCOLATE, but had no way to get to the store.  So I did what any chocoholic would do….I MADE some!

I was surprised how EASY it was to make this amazing chocolate syrup!

Here is what you need:

1 cup of cocoa powder

1.5 cups of sugar

1.5 cups of water

pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla

photo(7)Throw all the ingredients in a pot and heat it on medium.

photo(9)Recruit ADORABLE little helpers to stir!  Stir constantly so it doesn’t burn.  Once it boils keep stirring for about 3 minutes.

photo(6)Let it cool and pour into a jar.  This needs to be refrigerated!

On the Frugal scale…..this is only slightly cheaper than buying it in the bottle.  It cost me about $1.15 to make it.  But if you are comparing taste, this wins HANDS DOWN!  (I use it in my coffee to make mochas…….see, I am a chocaholic!!!)

ENJOY!!

Keeping Produce FRESH

photoSometimes being frugal takes a lot of time and effort, and sometimes it can be as easy as a………paper towel!

The girls in my house LOVE salad so I keep lettuce on hand to make them several times a week.   You will notice when circling the produce section that you can get a head of lettuce for about $1.25 and a bag, which contains half as much, is about $3 or more.

My sister gave me a FRUGALTASTIC  tip recently…..put a paper towel in the bag of lettuce when you bring it home.  Lettuce ruins from all the moisture in the bag, and the paper towel absorbs the moisture for you so your lettuce last MUCH longer.   I started out using this just for lettuce but have found that it works GREAT for any produce that tends to get slimy due to moisture.

The lettuce in this picture was purchased TWO WEEKS AGO.  Eat Fresh…..for longer!

Laundry Detergent Stockpile

detergent          detergent 2

Are couponers weird?  I suppose we’re all weird in our own ways, but I used to have this conception that people who coupon are particularly quirky. Who has the time to spend on couponing and finding deals to save a few bucks here and there?  Then I realized that I’m not weird…I’m just a frugal gal who likes to save money where I can so I can go on a few more crazy date nights with my honey.  So, in order to stretch my dollar, I’ve realized that the main key to couponing is getting the biggest bang for my buck.  How you ask?  The “secret” I’ve learned is to wait until an item goes on sale that I have a coupon for, then I “stack” that sale with the coupon for additional savings.

It’s simple, but let me explain:  I, like most moms spend a lot of time doing laundry for my active family and realized that I was constantly buying expensive laundry detergent.  I quickly found coupons for laundry detergent and then searched for sales when doing my shopping.  A 50 oz bottle (pictured on right) can be as high as $5.29.  I’ve frequently found detergent on sale for $3.99 and regularly find coupons for $2 off.  So, by “stacking”, I’m able to buy a bottle of detergent for $1.99….that’s a 62% savings!!  The great thing is that there’s typically no limit on how many you can buy.  Through “stacking”, I’ve been able to purchase more of what I need at one time for the same amount of money I was previously spending, and once I’ve built a small stockpile (picture on left), I don’t have to buy that item for quite some time.  I’ve found that it’s super easy to stockpile and save big on items like detergent, shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste, dish soap, etc., all items everyone is going to buy anyway.  This method is so simple and can be used by anyone willing to give it just a little bit of time.  Why wouldn’t I want to coupon?  Not weird, but smart!

Now for my dilemma….I’ve got plenty of detergent to clean my laundry.  I just don’t have enough space to store my towels and sheets since my “stockpile” has taken over my linen closet!

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

photo(4)Just recently I discovered the coolest thing.  You can make microwave popcorn in a brown lunch sack.  It is super easy, and FANTASTICALLY FRUGAL!

All you do is put 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels in the bag, and a tablespoon of popcorn oil (although I think any oil would work).  Shake the bag and fold it down tight a couple of times.  Pop it in the microwave for about 2 minutes.  Be sure to stay close because as soon as you stop hearing pops, you need to pull it out!

If you like butter flavored popcorn, just melt a couple of tablespoons of REAL BUTTER, pour it over and mix it up.  (If you use margarine you will end up with soggy popcorn.)

Ta Dah…..DONE!

A bag of this popcorn cost about $0.15

Bread Machine…. I LOVE YOU!

photo(3)I have a confession to make.  I. Love. My. Bread. Machine.

This has not always been the case.  It was a wedding gift that I used once and then it sat in the box for about twelve years.  About a year ago, I was cleaning out the garage and came across it.  I carried it to the kitchen determined to put it to use.

Here is the thing, I NEVER actually cook bread in it.  It makes funny shaped loves and it is too crunchy for my taste.  But what it does have is……….. a dough cycle.  Oh, the wonderful little handle at the bottom willing to slave itself away so I don’t have to knead bread.

Of all my small kitchen appliances, this one is at the top!  I make sandwich bread, hot dog buns, hawaiian bread, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, garlic loaves and pizza crust.

Making your own bread products is incredibly easy with a machine, and it saves you a lot of money.  It will cost a minimum of $2 to buy any one of those items.  That is not too much, but in the course of a week you could make all of them combined for just a little more than that!  For our family of 7, I can shave about $10/week ($520/year) off my grocery bill simply by making my bread products rather than buying them.  It honestly only takes about 2 minutes of my time to throw the ingredients in, take them out, shape them and put them in the oven.

These machines can be pretty pricey.  It is an investment up front to buy a new one, but in the long run would be worth it.  If you want to be FRUGAL-RIFIC, you can pick one up second hand.  I have seen them in many garage sells, discount shops, and even at good will for about $10!

What are some of your favorite homemade bread products or recipes?  I would LOVE to try them 🙂

Taco Seasoning Mix

Ok, so there are three types of people who can tell me the truth about myself: an enemy who has lost their temper with me, a friend who loves me dearly and a Google search when I need to learn how to make taco seasoning at five o’clock in the evening when I’ve run out.  I am amazed at how easy this turned out to be!

Spices

What you need:

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Spices 2

Don’t you love these colors?

Spices 3

Mix all ingredients together.  Use 2 Full tablespoons of seasoning for 1 pound of beef.  Yeah, to avoiding the grocery store during  witching hour and saving our evening meal!

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

A few months ago I was in the middle of a recipe when I realized that I was missing an ingredient……the infamous Cream of chicken soup.  Hubs was gone and I did NOT want to load up the crew and head to the store.  So instead, I spent a little time with my good friend Mr. Google.

I found a recipe that was pretty good.  Since then, I have adapted it to be FRUGAL-TASTIC!  The original recipe called for canned chicken broth but I use  homemade broth.

(That may sound fancy.  It is NOT!  Every time I boil chicken, I cool the water and divide it into 12 ounce portions.  I then pour it into baggies and freeze them. I can use it for this recipe and any others that call for chicken broth.)

Here is what you need to make your own soup:

This recipe makes the equilvalent of 2 cans of store-bought soup.

1.5 cups of chicken broth

2/3 cup of flour

1.5 cups of milk (divided)

pinch of onion powder

pinch of garlic powder

pinch of salt

pinch of black pepper

First, pour the broth, 1/2 cup of the milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder into a pan and bring to a boil.  Let it boil for 2 minutes.

photo-3  While that is boiling whisk together the remaining milk and flour.

photo(3)Then remove the pot from heat and whisk in the flour/milk mixture.  Whisk until there are no lumps and the consistency is thick.

photo(5)You are DONE!  Seriously.  That’s it and it literally takes about 5 minutes of your time.  The cost for the whole batch is $0.35.  That is only 0.18/can.

Now I am off to go make my delicious cilantro cream sauce!  YUM!

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