Friday, July 22, 2011

Little Expense, Big Savings: What's Your Favorite Frugal Buy?

We purchased this toothpaste squeezer doohickey for $0.99 cents about four months ago: 

Since then, we're buying way less toothpaste. It should save us quite a few bucks in the long-term, too, provided we don't lose it / the cat doesn't eat it / it doesn't get sucked into the sweltering pit of despair we call "outside right now."

Which leads us to this softball question for a fiery Friday:

Sweet readers, what's your favorite frugal buy?

Do tell! Pass it on!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why and How to Freeze Blueberries

Ahh, summer. Full of hazy days, humid nights, and lots and lots of blueberries. Those sweet orbs of azure joy are welcome anytime of year, but especially right now, when they provide a fruitacular (fruitacular?) balm for the grossest weeks of summer.

That's a flowery way of saying that blueberries are currently on major sale at both my supermarket and Costco, going for about $0.16/ounce. That's just about as cheap as they'll get around here, and I want to preserve the bounty for the winter months. (That's when I  crave blueberry pancakes, but have to usually settle for acorn squash pancakes. It's just not the same.)

Fortunately, freezing blueberries for future use is easy as (blueberry) pie, and a heckuva lot cheaper than buying off-season ones come January. All you need to do is follow these simple steps. You'll thank me come Christmas (because surely, there's no one more deserving of expensive gift-like things than a babble-prone, extremely lax blogger you barely know.)

Anyway, let's get to it. 

Step 1: Cut a hole in the box. Buy an Ark-of-the-Covenant-sized carton of blueberries from your local farmer's market, big box store, or preferred fruit venue.

Step 1.5: Get some freezer baggies while you're at it. Honestly, they're nice to have around, regardless. Tom Bosley was right on.

Step 2: Take a picture that you may someday use as a computer background. Make sure it is well-lit and in focus, so people (note: your mom) think(s) you're super awesome.

Step 3: Measure out your desired amount of blueberries. It could be in cup or half-cup increments, or by weight. Whatever you prefer. For my own nefarious purposes, I did eight ounces at a time.

Step 4: Place the blueberries on a small baking sheet. Stick that sheet right in your freezer.

NOTE: Blueberries are weird in that you should generally wait to wash them until right before using 'em. Less mushiness that way.

Step 5: Freeze for a few hours. Overnight is best.

Step 6: While the freezing process is occurring, watch the finale of Friday Night Lights and contemplate your values. Hope that someday you may make Coach Taylor proud.

Step 7: Once berries are frozen through, pour them into a freezer-safe Ziploc baggie. Get as much air out as possible, using a straw or your purty, purty mouth. Then, label that sucker.

NOTE: You do not have to write "Frozen Blueberries," as so brilliantly demonstrated here. Odds are you'll know they're frozen when you remove them from ... wait for it ... yep, the freezer.

And that's pretty much it. The blueberries should keep for a couple of months this way. (If you start seeing major freezer burn or frost buildup, it's probably a pretty good indication they should be used soon.) Try them in smoothies, crisps, or the aforementioned flapjacks. Viva la France!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Throwback: 68 Cheap, Healthy No-Cook Recipes

Sweet readers! Something new coming late today, but I figured this was a good time to re-post this one from last year. Enjoy, and stay cool.

Alas, CHG’s No-Cook month is slowly coming to an end. It’s been a joyous, ovenless journey, sweet readers, and we couldn’t have done it without the blistering sun or the stifling humidity. Thanks, Mama Nature.

Article-wise, we’ve already discussed 13 Ways to Cook without an Oven as well as 18 No-Cook Meal Ideas. This week, we’re giving you the actual recipes: 68 inexpensive, nutritionally sound dishes you can make without ever lighting anything on fire. (Hopefully.)

Each one of these links comes from either Cheap Healthy Good or my weekly Healthy & Delicious column over at (newly redesigned!) food dynamo Serious Eats. This means three things: A) we know they work, B) there are pretty pictures involved, and C) um … turns out there were only two things.

Enjoy, everybody! And as always, if you know of a really great no-cook recipe not mentioned here, please (please) add it to the comment section.

Black Bean Dip
Blueberry Salsa
Green Garlic and Garlic Scapes Pesto
Guacamole-Bean Dip Mashup
Lemony Hummus
Mango Salsa
Pesto (Don't toast pine nuts.)
Seven-Layer Taco Dip
Tomatillo and Yellow Tomato Salsa
Tomatillo Guacamole
Tomato Avocado Salsa
White Bean Dip

Creamy Caesar Dressing
Grasslands Herb Salsa
Horseradish Mustard
Lemon-Ginger Dressing
Spicy Brown Mustard
Vegan Mayo
Vegan Worcestershire Sauce

Buttermilk Cucumber Soup
Cantaloupe Soup
Fruit Gazpacho
Summertime Gazpacho

Chlorophyll and Awesomeness Salad
Chopped Salad
Grape and Feta Salad with Rosemary
Grapefruit and Avocado Salad (Skip toasting almonds.)
Relaxed Kale and Root Veg Salad
Strawberry and Avocado Salad

Autumn Apple Salads
Basil Tofu Salad
Beet and Cabbage BBQ Slaw
Black-Eyed Pea “Caviar”
Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Chickpea Salad
Daikon/Jicama Mango Slaw
Greek Antipasto Pita
Greek Salad Skewers
Greek-Style Chickpea Salad
Greek Tofu Salad
Herbed Tuna in Tomatoes
Marinated Mushroom Salad
North African-Style Chickpea Salad
Orange Yogurt
Peach, Tomato, and Basil Salad
Refrigerator-Pickled String Beans
Sprouted Grains
Sublime Fruit Salad and Mint
Summer Panzanella (Bread Salad)
Watermelon and Feta Salad with Mint
White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Wraps with Spinach
Yellow Tomato Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Feta, and Mint
Zucchini Carpaccio with Feta and Pine Nuts

Cantaloupe with Honey and Lime
Chocolate Cherry “Ice Cream” Popsicles
Date Coconut Balls
No-Cook Berry Crisp
Plums with Orange and Mint
Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar
Strawberry Mousse
Tamarind-Blueberry Granita
Three-Ingredient Banana, Honey, and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Basil Lemonade
Cranberry and Blackberry Champagne Punch
Mango Lassi
Sweet Lassi
White Sangria with Fresh Fruit Ice Cubes

Cherry Lemonade, Limeade, and White Peach Bellinis are all delicious, as well, but require simple syrup. There are ways to make it without using heat, but these three recipes all include a boiling step.

And that's it. Readers, any suggestions? We would love to hear.


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