Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cut the Calories- Create Amazing Ranch Dip!

Today we are comparing homemade ranch verses store bought.  Hidden Valley Ranch has 140 calories and 14 grams of fat per serving, which happens to be 2 tablespoons. That’s a lot of calories for only 2 tablespoons! In our homemade ranch you will be cutting out almost all of the fat and your calories significantly. Here is the recipe:

                     Ranch Dip

            2 Tbsp. dried parsley
            1 ½ tsp. dried dill weed
            2 tsp. garlic powder
            2 tsp. dried onion flakes
            1/4 tsp. black pepper 
            2 tsp. dried chives
            2 tsp. salt
            1 cup Greek yogurt
            1-2 Tbsp. 1% milk

It’s pretty simple. Mix the herbs in with the nonfat Greek yogurt and thin it to desired consistency using 1% or skim milk. I added a little extra salt to kick it up to my desired flavor.

So I bet your wondering just how many calories our ranch ended up being, right? Here is the math.
1 cup of Greek Yogurt has 140 calories. The conversion from tablespoons per cup is 16 tablespoons per 1 cup. To calculate a 2 tablespoon serving size I divided 140 by 16, which gives us how much is in 1 tablespoon, then multiplied that number by 2; same formula for the milk. Drum roll please…..
Our ranch is roughly 30 calories per 2 tablespoon serving.  That is almost 5 times less than the store bought version!

This recipe is quite flavorful and tastes delicious on salads or for dipping veggies. Remember to stir it when you use it and enjoy your healthier version of ranch!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Cooking for two:Tips on how to shop at Costco!

 There are learning curves in life, and learning to  live with another person, who you share your money, time and food with is one of them. You may be learning how to have to live life on the frugal side, this creates challenges especially when it comes to planning your food budget.

When I first got married my husband, Mark, and me didn't just jump into meal planning like a pro. In fact we ate out way more than i'd like to admit. We indulged in our newly living togetherness, and didn't know what we were doing budget wise, particularly with our food budget.

Regardless of if you live with a girl or a guy, feeding an extra person is more spendy than feeding just your self. It doesn't seem like it should be, but I remember being surprised by how much my husband could eat. I couldn't believe how fast we would run out of grocery's, and the amount of money we spent on food seemed to take up most of our pay checks. It was frustrating, and concerning.

Eventually we came to the conclusion that in order to save money, we needed to start meal planning, in an attempt to eat healthier, and save money on our food budget.

A simple thing we did, which helped us save money, was purchasing our own Costco card .It is only 55 dollars a year, and you save a lot.

 Costco came in handy for the items we used often, and ran out of quickly.We also found that Costco is a great place to buy items that we would need for meals we planned to make for the week.

So, here are my tips for shopping at Costco

1.Set a budget- get the items you need, and then if there are extra things you want, and you have room in your budget,go back and get them. If you don't do this, you will end up with more than you can afford at the end. We made this mistake a few times, even though we used what we bought, we didn't stay in budget, and were stressed later in the month because of it.

2. Plan your meals out for the week before you go- at Costco everything is in bulk, which is good for meal planning because you can make three meals in a week, and have left overs for lunch and dinner. It's nice to have something new to eat after a day or so. if you plan out your meals you are less likely to waste the things you buy. It's good to have a plan for them.

3-Plan your meals around produce that's in season- This automatically lessens your spending costs, because there is plenty of the produce to go around. It will also taste better!

4. Don't go hungry!- this is kind of common sense, because you'll end up buying things you don't need.
*as a side note Costco does have free samples on Fridays and Saturdays.

5. Have fun!- Costco is easily one of my favorite shopping trips to go on with my husband. It is so fun to find the good deals they have on items, and its fun to try the samples they have there. Plus there are lots of things to look at other than food items.

6. don't wait to make your meals- since you have bought a lot of things in bulk, some of it might go bad if you wait to make the meals. This happened to us, where we had intentions on making something and then we never did. Those items go to waste, and so does your money.
 One of the things that helped us to actually meal plan was to set aside one day where we did food prep and made the meals. For us this day has been Sunday.

Yes it is time consuming, and can be a lot of work, but if both of you work together it goes by quickly, is pretty fun and obviously rewarding. once the meals are done divide them up into Tupperware, or sandwich baggies- enough for a meal,  and put some of them in the fridge, and place the rest in the freezer to be used later. This saves time and effort later on in the week, and is nice to have some variety.

Here is an example of things I buy at Costco that I love

Kodiak Pancakes-full of fiber, and protein, they're whole wheat, and they taste spectacular. I'm usually skeptical, when anything has to much protein in them, but these really are amazing pancakes.

Chicken and fish. They have really good deals on chicken, and while it's usually around $20-25 dollars, you get a lot of it. The Tilapia isn't that expensive there, and you can buy it fresh. The pieces are so big, I would cut them in half. One piece could feed two people. Having chicken and fish as a variety made meals more exciting. More variety for me, equals less boring meals. When we got home we would portion them and freeze them. They also have amazing Salmon there, but again it's more spendy, but you get a lot of it

Produce- I am a believer in buying fresh produce, but only if it is going to be used really pretty quick, or if it stays well in dry storage or the pantry. We often bought onions and potatoes/sweet potatoes there, and sometimes our collard greens/ spinach. When in season they have really good deals on berries, which is great because berries can be frozen just fine. We also bought bags of mixed frozen veggies, they last forever, and it's so convenient to have them.

Bread- The Aspen Mills Honey Hole wheat bread is four dollars for two loafs, it's healthy too, and I find it very delicious

Eggs- We go through eggs so fast, that we needed to buy them in bulk. Sometimes the eggs aren't always cheaper at Costco, but usually they were

Butter- I'm a butter person. I eat a lot of it, we freeze the extras.

chia seeds/flax seeds/ granola- If you are into these types of foods, they are pretty darn affordable at Costco, and it's awesome. One bag, depending on how much you eat, can last you a year.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Do you ever get sick of the same old snacks? Try These! Fruity Yogurt Bites. Simply put a scoop of yogurt and your favorite fruit in a muffin baking tin and freeze for two hours. Eat immediately from freezer or serve over granola for an easy parfait. The options are endless for using the Fruity Yogurt Bites. For more easy, healthy snacks visit our Pinterest board for more recipes. Interested in attending one of our classes visit our calendar for details. 
Happy July Everyone!