Budget Day 57: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

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I don’t know about you, but we are FREEZING here in Charlotte. Literally, freezing. At the bus stop in the mornings we’ve been experiencing unseasonably cold temps down in the teens, which is hard to deal with when you have Southern blood! And during these cold spells the last thing I’d want my girls to miss out on is hot chocolate because nothing cures cold fingers and toes better than some good ol’ hot chocolate. I am happy to report that it can easily be done even when you only eat real food and even when you are doing it on a tight budget. Just forget Swiss Miss and look at that picture…yum!

So anyway, I am sure there are many ways to make it, but my way is to mix a little unsweetened cocoa and 100% pure maple syrup together (which is the same concoction that I add to my shot of espresso and hot milk to make a “mocha”). Everyone’s taste buds are different so you may prefer more or less syrup, but I use a ½ teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa with about a teaspoon of the maple syrup for a small kid size cup. I then add warm milk and on this occasion (which is pictured) I also whipped up some cream which my dad luckily left in my fridge last week. My girls (okay, and me included) were just in heaven with this special little winter treat!

In regards to our last budget week it pretty much ended on Thursday, because that’s when I basically ran out of money. It is amazing how easily and quickly I can spend that $125! It would be nice if I actually had some money leftover at the end of the week for once, but don’t hold your breath on that one. As I reported a few days ago I did most of my shopping at Earth Fare, and I also got a few things at the Atherton Farmer’s Market. I had a little bit of money left after that and spent it at Trader Joe’s (on some bananas, an onion, and cheese), Great Harvest (on a loaf of bread), and Harris Teeter (another onion and more bananas!). So this is how last week totaled up…

  • Earth Fare $62.75
  • Atherton Market $17.69
  • Milk delivery $29.97
  • Trader Joe’s $6.35
  • Harris Teeter (2 visits to HT) $2.59
  • Great Harvest $5.00

We were also “winging it” last week as far as our dinner plan went, and the non-plan of course wasn’t perfect. We had to run to the store three times for little things that we suddenly needed, but we more than survived. This is what we ate each night…

  • Monday: Sautéed flounder, sweet potato pancakes (with raisins), and greens from our garden
  • Tuesday: Pork, rice, black bean, and spinach burritos wrapped in whole-wheat tortillas (pictured)
  • Wednesday: Pork and bean chili with whole-grain cornbread
  • Thursday: Leftover chili
  • Friday: Quesadillas filled with mushrooms, spinach, onion, corn, and Monterey Jack cheese (our girls loved these and once their plates were empty they were surprised to learn that they’d just enjoyed some spinach and mushrooms!)
  • Saturday: We had dinner club at a friends house…we love those evenings!
  • Sunday: Defrosted matzo ball soup from our freezer

For lunch we had PB&J’s, hummus & cheese sandwiches, and leftovers, among other things. Breakfast consisted of our beloved granola cereal as well as some banana pancakes and crepes that I made over the weekend. I am only on day one of this budget week and already almost broke again…what else is new! More on that later…

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26 comments to Budget Day 57: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

  • How timely – I was just looking at my unsweetened cocoa last night and asking it “How much (non-refined-sugar) sweetener do you need to be delicious? Why aren’t you answering me, cocoa?!” So now I have my answer! ;)

  • Ugh, US weather is so out of whack right now! I live in Denver and we have yet to have a significant snowfall this year. It’s been in the 60′s this week! I actually want our winter weather back and some snow! Can you send it back this way, please?
    I’m curious, when you go to supper club on Saturdays, do they serve real food?

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      I would trade weather with you in a heartbeat!
      As far as dinner club goes (or any meal at someone else’s house) no, it is not always “real” food. Although our dinner club members do spend a great deal of time cooking and preparing most items from scratch. We were recently at another friends house for a different function though and 3 people came up to me separately to voluntarily share the ingredients that were in their dish…and I didn’t even ask! I guess I have a little bit of a reputation around here :) And we treat those evenings out as “special occasions” and try not to be too picky as not to offend our hostesses. Depending on where we are going though I will sometimes fill up on some real food first (shhh!)

  • Gretchen

    We started baking our own bread – it costs less than 90cents a loaf. We use whole wheat or white whole wheat. I bake every 2-4 days depending on whether or not we want french toast or bread with our soup at night in addition to the peanut butter sandwiches and my husband’s dinner. I was scared to try making tortillas, but was inspired by your blog. Not sure if baking bread seems overwhelming for you or not – but I’ve got it down to under 3 minutes of hands on time per loaf now. New things overwhelm me sometimes – I swore I’d NEVER bake bread a year ago, and now I’m a baking fiend. ;) It tastes AMAZING. I’ve even duplicated a cinnamon whole wheat pastry that Great Harvest makes.

    • Courtney

      Gretchen – do you mind sharing your bread recipe?

      • Gretchen

        3 cups whole wheat flour (I prefer the milder taste of white wheat, but my husband prefers regular whole wheat)
        1/2 cup warm milk
        3/4 cup warm water
        (or couple tblspoons of powdered milk and 1 and 1/4 cup warm water)
        3 tablespoons of sweetener (honey, maple syrup, molasses)
        2-3 tablespoons of butter or oil
        1 tsp salt
        2 tsps yeast

        When I use my bread machine, I put all the wet ingredients in first and then add the flour on top, put the salt on one side, and make a well for the yeast in the middle. I turn on the dough cycle. When it finishes I gently deflate the dough and then shape it into a log and put it in a lightly greased loaf pan. I let it rise for about 45-1 hour. (sometimes I slash the top 3 times to help it rise more and look pretty) Then I bake it at 350 for 30 mins or until lightly browned on top.

        I am not particular about measuring anymore. You really do just get to know your bread. You get a sense of whether you need more water or flour. The dough should be soft and smooth.

        I buy some ingredients from kingarthurflour.com. I like to use vital wheat gluten to help with the rise. Maltose is great too (malt sugar) but I haven’t done any research on whether it is okay or not for real food eaters. I only use about a tsp per loaf when I do.

        I also make sourdough and knead that by hand. I am crossing my fingers for a Kitchen Aid for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day! It can do 3 loaves at a time!!!

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      Do you use a bread maker?

      • Gretchen

        I mostly use the bread maker – but only for mixing. I like the texture and taste and variety of baking it in my own oven. I often use the same recipe but shape it differently and it seems to be variety enough.

  • Jen

    Can you share your recipe for the pork burrito pictured? The white creamy mixture looks yummy, but can’t tell what it is!

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      The white creamy stuff is just sour cream (which is of course so good!!). I can’t really say we have an exact recipe for this dish, but anytime we are making “Mexican” food we add spices like chili powder, cumin, maybe some oregano and we usually add Emeril’s Essence too. Then we just wrap it all up in a tortilla with cheese, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, tomatoes and other good stuff that we have on hand. it seems like we alternate between calling them burritos, quesadillas, and fajitas. No matter what though they are all similar….and good!!!

  • Wendy

    I love the mugs used in displaying your hot chocolate. Who makes them and where did you purchase, please.

  • Rebecca

    Your blog was just featured on Yahoo and I have been reading so much my boyfriend is starting to get jealous… I took a look at most breads in our local grocery store and there were none under 5 ingredients. I am going to try and make some. I have never made bread before!

  • Ronnie Jayme

    Great post, I think people should acquire a lot from this blog its really user pleasant. So much excellent information on here :D.

  • Julee Wilson

    Had some of your cocoa last night – super yummy!!!!

  • Wendy

    Great, I was just thinking about hot cocoa. We aren’t needing it yet at this time of year but I want to be ready because my boys will want it come fall! Oh, and about the bread, I HIGHLY recommend making it yourself. We bought a Bosch mixer for Christmas over a year ago and I buy bulk flour from Azure Standard, I have thought of grinding it but am not there yet. I will NEVER buy another loaf of bread again, God willing! I had to buy some once because I was out but needed to make sandwiches and we all agreed I should never do that again! And by the way, the mixer will handle dough for 4 loaves and my oven will hold 4 loaves. The bread is mixed, risen, and cooked in 1 hr and 20 min.

    • Jamey

      Would you mind sharing your recipe and how you utilize your mixer? I just got one for Christmas and can’t to use it for bread! Also, do you find that Azure Standard has the best prices? Never used them before. Thanks.

      • Christa

        I’m not Wendy and it’s 5 months later, but I’ll share my favorite recipe…

        For each loaf, approximately:
        1c warm water
        1 scant Tbsp yeast
        2c spelt flour
        2 Tbsp honey (to taste, and I don’t measure)
        1 tsp salt

        I sometimes add a little dough conditioner, but not always. I sometimes add a handful of chis seed or ground flax seed.

        I’ve done up to 4c of water in my Bosch. i put the water in first, with the yeast, then add the honey, then work the flour in. about halfway through the flour, i sprinkle the salt in as it’s mixing. i put the dough into a bowl (sprayed with coconut oil), and let it rise in my Brod & Taylor proofer for about 20-30 minutes. Punch down, break into loaf size chunks and shape into the pan. Let rise again 20-30, then bake at 375-400 for 20-30 minutes.

  • Monica

    The hot chocolate recipe was wonderful! The cocoa and maple syrup would also be good as chocolate milk.

  • Erica Lovell

    Gretchen, in your December 2010 replay above, you mention that you make sourdough bread. curious if this is “real food” sourdough? if yes, could you share your recipe with me? does it require a starter that you feed? i would need that recipe too!! Thanks so much!! Erica

  • Adrienne

    This is a very random question, but I LOVE the mugs you have in the post about hot chocolate. Anybody seen any like them? Great size for a sweet treat. BTW, my five-year-old son and I just had some. It was lovely.

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