Monday, June 24, 2013

Homemade Cooking Spray

As Americans, we love our “convenience” items (cereal, spray butter, tv dinners, etc…). Sometimes these items can come with a hefty price. And since I want my grocery budget low, as humanly possible, I have to be creative with convenience items that I buy at the store.

One “convenience” item that I have recently replaced in my kitchen is Pam.

Since I am into baking almost everything at home (because it is cheaper), my Pam costs have skyrocketed. One can of Pam cost $3, and if I use one can a month for a whole year that total adds up to $36 a year. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot to spend in a whole year for Pam, but we are adopting debt free and we need to save every penny that we earn. 

And so the research began to find a homemade recipe for Pam. I first tried a spray bottle filled with water/oil (some websites recommended this). That was a compete bust! Don’t try it. Of course water and oil don’t mix well together and shaking it really fast did not help either. And it didn’t even do a good job coating the pan very well and then I read about bacteria developing from the water and that got me really freaked out. I guess Pam has really spoiled me. So back to the drawing board I went for a “sprayable” type of oil for baking. Then the thought occurred, “does it have to be sprayable?” Of course not!  And that’s how I found this recipe, Better Than Pam Spray.
You probably already have the ingredients in your pantry, or at least I did (flour, vegetable oil, and Crisco). You don’t spray it onto the pan, but instead you brush it, which is even better because you don’t have to worry about spraying other things (countertop, oven) to coat the pan evenly. Side note: If you don’t want to give up your Pam, open the door to your dishwasher and set your baking pan on the inside of the door of your dishwasher and spray. And no mess to clean up on your countertop. I learned that a couple of months ago on someone's blog.

Here is the link to the recipe that I use to replace Pam:
I doubled the recipe so I don’t have to make it very often.

So here’s the breakdown:
Store bought Pam: $36/year
Homemade pan release: $8/year (Crisco $6, Flour$.50, Vegetable Oil $1.50)
I am pretty sure that this could last me more than one year but for number reasons let’s just say $8/year.

That’s $28 a year that I’m saving on my grocery bill. Recipes like this really add up to help keep my grocery budget low.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Homemade Coffee Creamer

We drink coffee everyday at our house. Wes enjoys his cup of joe black. I am just the opposite. I love lots of sugar and coffee creamer. I love the different flavors that they make with the coffee creamers. I want to try them all, but they can really take a toll on our grocery budget. For one 32 oz. coffee creamer could cost around $3 a piece. Not cool!

How do we keep our grocery budget low enough and be able to enjoy the simple pleasure of coffee creamer? What about making a homemade coffee creamer that is cheaper than the store bought? Is it possible to make that homemade? Will it taste good? These are all questions that I have been pondering over in the past month. And since we are trying to save all of the money that we make, we are being extra careful how we spend our grocery money.

Looking at the price of store bought creamers, I am determined that we could make it at home for a better price. In order to do this, I searched the internet to see if others had any ideas or recipes for homemade creamers. I didn't want to "re-invent the wheel" if I didn't have too. To my surprise, of course there are recipes for homemade creamers. After years of drinking coffee and using creamer, why did I not think of this long before. So the following recipe is a recipe that I have modified to fit my taste from a recipe that I have found online. You can modify it to fit your taste as well or you can revert back to the original recipe.

Homemade Creamer Recipe:

Always start with a base for your creamer and then add your flavors.

Here is the base recipe that I use:  

Take a 14oz can of (fat free) sweetened condensed milk (generic brand). Use only a 1/4 of the can for the small bottle of creamer (16 oz) and use 1/2 can for the large bottle of creamer (32oz). Take whatever creamer flavor you want and add it to the base recipe and pour all the ingredients into your old creamer bottle through a funnel. Add milk (skim, half & half, soy, or whatever preferences you have) to fill the rest of the bottle. Shake the bottle of ingredients and you're done!

Helpful hint: If you are using chocolate syrup or other hard to dissolve ingredients, you can melt the sweetened condensed milk, a little bit of milk, and your hard to dissolve ingredient together in the microwave. And then add the rest of your ingredients to the creamer bottle. 

Last but not least, label your creamer with the expiration date of the milk. You don't want spoiled creamer in your coffee.

Store bought coffee creamer: $3
Homemade creamer: $1.05 ($.75 for sweetened condensed milk, $.15 for milk, $.15 for extracts)

That's a savings of $1.95 per creamer! I buy at least three 32 oz creamers a month, costing me $9 (not including seasonal creamers that the store tempts me with). Now I will only pay $3.15 a month for creamer. Saving me $5.85 each month ($70.20/year).

Here is great website where you can get recipes for flavored creamers. This is where I got my initial base recipe from.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Homemade Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is great. It keeps your hands feeling cool and clean (in between washing your hands of course). A bottle of Purell could cost you between $2-3 a bottle. And if you have kids, you probably are buying at least 3 or 4 bottles a month, costing you about $10 every month. So could we make homemade hand sanitizer at home and be cheaper than the store bought? I definitely think we can!

Purell is basically alcohol, aloe vera, and smell good stuff. That seems pretty simple to make. So how do we make it and what's it going to cost?

2/3 cup Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol)
1/3 cup Aloe Vera gel
8-10 drops of essential oils (optional, to make it smell good)
or you could add a couple drops of Vitamin E oil (to help with moisturizing, which is what I do instead of adding essential oils)

Funnel all the ingredients into your old hand sanitizer bottle or an old soap dispenser. Give a good shake and your done.

Here's the cost:

Isopropyl alcohol (1 bottle) $2
Aloe Vera Gel (1 bottle) $5
Total $7 

Makes about 6 or 7 bottles at $1.17. That's $1.83 savings per bottle!

The above recipe is adapted from:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Adopt Debt Free: Clean Out the Freezer and Pantry

Here is an obvious money saver: eat your frozen meals. I have thrown out so many meals that I have frozen because of them being freezer burnt. Not anymore! Once every six months or so, I will stop buying ingredients for meals to cook and use all the ingredients on hand to make our meals. Give your freezer a good "cleaning out" so you can save money and make more room in your freezer for future meals. You could also call this a "grocery store fast". During that month my grocery budget drops drastically. I still go to store to buy little things like eggs, milk, etc..., but for the most part we do without to see how far we can make it in the month without having to do a normal "big" grocery run. Depending on how much you don't spend out of your grocery budget for that month, you could save at least $100 that month (of course this also depends on how much frozen meals/pantry items you have). However much you don't spend that month does not have to go to Wal-mart (or wherever you grocery shop), but instead goes in your bank account!

This "cleaning out" method is also great for your pantry. Instead of letting your food expire, use everything you can to make meals so you don't throw your money away (literally). It will also give you a chance to see what you have in the back of your cabinets. I have found some great stuff in the back of my pantry that I forgot that I had bought a couple of months ago.

Some of the best meals that Wes and I have ate, have been freezer/pantry meals. You can be creative with inventing your own meals. Sometimes I am not as creative so I will have to google some recipes or use is a great resource for your "grocery store fast". All you have to do is type in what ingredients you have and it generates recipes from your list.

And the best part is, you don't have to waste gas going to go to the grocery store every week!

Fun Fact: One of our craziest meals has been hotdogs and hummus, not very creative, but we saved a ton that month eating stuff we had on hand!