Healthy Snack Strategies on a Budget

Healthy Snack Strategies on a Budget
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links, with NO additional cost to you. 
 
                                                  
If you have kids, you know snacks are a must for life to run smoothly. Around here the afternoon snack is the biggest to avoid the pre-supper hangry meltdowns. Supper can be delayed on the farm, especially in the summertime. But how do you keep easy snacks on hand on a tight budget?
 
Summertime is honestly the easiest. Part of the garden is planted specifically for easy kid access. The snack bins in the house are usually pretty empty in the summer. For the simple fact, there is food to eat in the garden. If I have the snacks in the house the kids return and eat the snacks inside, instead of the garden produced snacks. 
 
What snacks do we grow? My kids love peas! The good news is the snap peas we can usually plant early and then plant again for a fall run. I only plant one row along the fence for them, because they take more time than I am willing to currently dedicate to preserving them for winter. Strawberries are another quick snack that can be everbearing and give snacks throughout the summer. 
 
Cucumbers take a bit longer to get going but fill the gap nicely for variety in peas and between pea crops. Radishes are another quick growing snack my kids will grab while playing and can be planted a few rows at a time, 1 week apart, to have a continual supply. Lettuce and spinach are also something kids can grab and go, with the same planting strategy as the radishes. 
 
End of summer and fall the fruit starts to come in here and the kids know those are also free range for snacking. They pick it and they can eat it. If we are harvesting a bunch for preserving, they eat from the plants, not the basket. 
 
I do usually buy a few fruits to keep on hand. The secrete here is to buy what is in season and on sale. Local farmers markets can also give you good deals. You can also use this strategy if you find a really good deal. Break out the dehydrator and dry the fruit for snacks in the wintertime or road trips. 
 
The wintertime we snack on more starchy things. Some that we preserved in the fall, like the dehydrated fruit. I usually buy bulk for the other snacks. A giant bag of oats, I can use for oatmeal, baking, and making granola for snacking. 
 
 
Wanting a community to lean into? Join the FREE Feeding Your Family: Spend Less & Grow More group! This community is for the Mommas, looking to stay home and raise their kids, but unsure how to keep everyone fed and make ends meet. I share tips from my journey from the office, to half the income and feeding my family from home, while maintaining good nourishing food. Tips include: gardening, bulk buying, caning,/preserving, livestock, homesteading, and home remedies. Your family is precious and this group is to help you gain the knowledge and tools to keep your family well and not reliant on outside professionals. Remedies and tips are easy and simple for the busy momma, time is precious after all, including pregnancy, birth, young kids, and illness. Trust your Momma gut again! This community offers the resources + community you need to help get started on your journey and prepare for whatever future you envision. Join the Free Community
 
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Homemade canned Salsa

Homemade canned Salsa
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links, with NO additional cost to you. 

I love growing my own food. Part of growing all the food is not only eating it fresh in the summer, but preserving it for winter use. One vegetable we use for several canning recipes is tomatoes. I usually can salsa with many of the tomatoes. Its perfect for that side you forgot you needed to bring, or adding to chops or roasts. Making salsa is a simple process. 

For homemade salsa you will need (this will make approximately 3 quarts)
12 large tomatoes (approximately 1 cup each)
3 large onion
1 c vinegar (I like apple cider vinegar)
1 c Jalapenos chopped
½ c sugar
¼ c salt
¼ c cilantro (to taste)
4 cloves garlic
2 c corn (½ qt frozen)

I usually make 5 times the recipe and make as big of a batch as I can at one time. For the pot pictured the recipe is 3x. The smaller pot in the back will do 2x the recipe. 

You will need the following supplies:
Canning jars
Canning lids
Canning rings
Jar Funnel
Long spatula or knife
Hot water bath
Stock pot (I usually have at least 2)
Immersion blender (for smooth salsa texture)


Step 1. Quarter tomatoes and add all the ingredients to a big stock pot. Sometimes I don’t even quarter them. No need to remove skins or seeds. If you are using frozen tomatoes, just throw them in the pot. They will cook down and chop up as you stir the pot. 

Step 2. Add all the ingredients. As I harvest produce or find ingredients on sale, I will chop them up and freeze them in sizes I will need for the recipes. It makes the process so much faster. I also like to use fresh herbs if I have them on hand at the time (you will need about double the amount using fresh). Chop onions with a food processor saves your eyes and time too. Once everything is in the pot turn the burner on high and stir occasionally. 

Step 3. Stir the sauce and break up the chunks. I like to use my mix and chop for the first part to break up the big chunks. For a smoother sauce, use an immersion blender to blend everything together in the pot. 

Step 4. Once the sauce has boiled down to the correct consistency (this will be based purely on individual preference), pour into your cleaned and sanitized jars (running them through the dishwasher is an easy way to do this).

Step 5. Fill quart jars to ½ inch below the rim. 

Step 6. Run the rubber spatula up and down along the inside of the jar to remove any air bubbles. Add more sauce if needed. Wipe the rim clean. Do NOT forget this step. Jars with bubbles can explode in the water bath. Sauce on the rims will keep the jars from sealing properly. 

Step 7. Lids. Rinse the, one time use, canning lids in hot water. This is new compared to older lids which you needed to boil first. Then set them on the jar and attach the rings down. Do not over tighten the rings, a quick tight twist will do before you burn your fingers on the hot jar. 

If you are using reusable lids you will want to boil the seals and follow the instructions from the manufacturer. I purchased some from Tattler at www.reusablecanninglids.com


Step 8. Fill your spare pot (or now empty pot) half way with hot water and bring to a boil. If you have the stove space you can actually start the pot of water when you start cooking your sauce in the beginning (this also saves time). 

Step 9. Place jars in the pot, and cover with a lid to help it come to a boil quicker.

Step 10. Once boiling, set your timer for 25 minutes, and let it continue to boil (this is called Water Bathing)

Step 11. After the 25 minutes have elapsed, pull the jars out and set them on a doubled over towel on the counter. Listen for a small “pop” of the middle of the lid dropping down. This indicates that the jar is sealed correctly (for one time use lids). Let the jars cool completely. Check seals, remove rings, label, then store in your pantry.

For one time use lids, the bubble should be down and not pop up. For reusable lids, gently pick them up by the lid (it's terrifying the first few times), if the lid holds, the seal is good. 


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Homemade Pear Sauce without added Sugar

Homemade Pear Sauce without added Sugar
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links, with NO additional cost to you. 

I love growing my own food. Part of growing all the food is not only eating it fresh in the summer, but preserving it for winter use. One of the things we were blessed with when we moved to our acreage was 2 pear trees! So of course I figured out how to make the most of them. One of the ways I found to use the pears and preserve them was to make pear sauce. Making pear sauce is a simple process. 

You will need:
Canning jars
Canning lids
Canning rings
Jar Funnel
Long spatula or knife
Hot water bath
Stock pot (I usually have at least 2)
Colander
Sieve/immersion blender/kitchen aid sieve attachment 
Pears

Step 1: Pick the pears while they are still green on the tree. This saves bruising when they fall off, and allows you to get the pears instead of the squirrels eating them all half way. Take them to a cool dark area and lay them out. I usually use an old sheet or boxes in the basement. Check on them every few days for those that are ripe. Mine turn from green to slightly yellow. 


Step 2: Once ½ to ⅔  are ripe that you (haven’t eaten), gently wash them up in the sink removing any bad spots. If you have the kitchen aid sieve attachment, you don’t need to core the pears. If not, peal, quarter, and core the pears. The sieve attachment is well worth the time saved. 

Step 3: Cook the pears. If you want to prevent darkening, dip pears in lemon juice or citric acid. I don’t mind the darker color, so I skip this step. When cooking I used my smaller pan that the colander fits into. This allows me to simply remove the pears, without having to fish them out of the water. Cook until the pears are soft and mushy. This is about 5 minutes. 

Step 4: Puree the pears by running them through the kitchen aid sieve, or using an immersion blender if you peeled and cord the pears. You could also use a food processor or blender


Any more white than this and you are loosing to much of the pear. Cook them a little longer to soften them. Peal and core should be the main thing you see coming out this end.

Step 5: cook the sauce down. Return the pear sauce to the stock pot, bringing to a simmer until desired consistency is reached. Stir the pot regularly to prevent sticking/burning the bottom. 

Step 6: Fill the jars! Fill hot jars leaving ½ inch headspace. 


Step 7. De-bubble the jars by running a long spatula or knife along the edge or the jar. Wipe the rim clean. Do NOT forget this step. Jars with bubbles can explode in the water bath. Sauce on the rims will keep the jars from sealing properly. 


Step 8. Lids. Rinse the, one time use, canning lids in hot water. This is new compared to older lids which you needed to boil first. Then set them on the jar and attach the rings down. Do not over tighten the rings, a quick tight twist will do before you burn your fingers on the hot jar. 

If you are using reusable lids you will want to boil the seals and follow the instructions from the manufacturer. I purchased some from Tattler at www.reusablecanninglids.com

If the jar is too hot to grab you can use a lid tighter as shown to help.


Step 9. Place jars (pint or quart) in a hot water bath. Wait for boiling and then set the timer for 20 minutes. 


Step 10. Remove jars from the hot water bath and allow to cool completely. Check the lids to make sure the jars are sealed. Remove rings, label and store. For one time use lids, the bubble should be down and not pop up. For reusable lids, gently pick them up by the lid (it's terrifying the first few times), if the lid holds, the seal is good. 
 

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How to dehydrate apples

How to dehydrate apples
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links, with NO additional cost to you. 

I love growing my own food. Part of growing all the food is not only eating it fresh in the summer, but preserving it for winter use. When we moved to our property, we bought 2 apple trees.  A favorite snack for the winter time is dehydrated apple slices. It is fairly simple and an easy snack when apples are no longer ripe or you're traveling!

You will need:
Core/slicer/peeler (you can use a cutting board and knife, but this tool makes the process so much faster).
Citric Acid/lemon juice (optional)
Apples

Step 1: Pick the apples just as they are ripening on the tree. This saves bruising when they fall off, and allows you to get the apples instead of the squirrels eating them all half way. Take them to a cool dark area and lay them out. I usually use an old sheet or boxes in the basement. Check on them every few days for those that are ripe. 

Step 2: Once 6-12 are ripe that you (haven’t eaten), gently wash them up in the sink removing any bad spots.

Step 3: Using the core/slicer spin the apples through the blade. I will often leave the peel on the apples. 

Step 4: If you don’t want the apple to brown, dip them in citric acid/lemon juice. I don’t mind them browning a bit, so I skip this part.

Step 5: Lay the sliced apples out on a dehydrating tray. You can buy add on trays for most dehydrators so you can do more at once. 

Step 6: Once all the trays are full, put the lid on the dehydrator and set the temperature for 135 degrees F.

Step 7: My apples usually take around 12-24 hours depending on how thick I sliced them. If you start it at night, check them in the morning and adjust depending on how they look. I typically leave a little juice in mine as they are easier for small kids to chew that way. 

Step 8: Remove apples from the dehydrator and place in freezer containers. Label and freeze. I do this because I leave some juice in them and then they last for an entire year without molding. 


Wanting a community to lean into? Join the FREE Courageous + Purposeful Mommas group! This community is for the Mommas, mommas to be, in the midst of raising, and kids grown, looking for tips on building your family up and providing for them through natural methods. Tips include: gardening, bulk buying, caning,/preserving, livestock, homesteading, and home remedies. Your family is precious, and this group is to help you gain the knowledge and tools to keep your family well and not reliant on outside professionals. Remedies and tips are easy and simple for the busy momma, time is precious after all, including pregnancy, birth, young kids, and illness. Trust your Momma gut again! This community offers the resources + community you need to help get started on your journey and prepare for whatever future you envision.

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How to dehydrate pears

How to dehydrate pears
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links, with NO additional cost to you. 

I love growing my own food. Part of growing all the food is not only eating it fresh in the summer, but preserving it for winter use. We were blessed with 2 pear trees on our property when we moved. You’d better believe I figured out how to use them! A favorite snack for the winter time is dehydrated pear slices. It is fairly simple and an easy snack when pears are no longer ripe!

You will need:
Cutting board and knife (works best. I’ve tried a slicer, but the pears are usually too soft).
Citric Acid/lemon juice (optional)
Pears

Step 1: Pick the pears while they are still green on the tree. This saves bruising when they fall off, and allows you to get the pears instead of the squirrels eating them all half way. Take them to a cool dark area and lay them out. I usually use an old sheet or boxes in the basement. Check on them every few days for those that are ripe. Mine turn from green to slightly yellow. 

Step 2: Once 6-12 are ripe that you (haven’t eaten), gently wash them up in the sink removing any bad spots.

Step 3: Slice the pears thin and even. I don’t take the time to peel the pears, but you can if you don’t like them.

Step 4: If you don’t want the pears to brown, dip them in citric acid/lemon juice. I don’t mind them browning a bit, so I skip this part.

Step 5: Lay the sliced pears out on a dehydrating tray. You can buy add on trays for most dehydrators so you can do more at once. 

Step 6: Once all the trays are full, put the lid on the dehydrator and set the temperature for 135 degrees F.

Step 7: My pears usually take around 12-24 hours depending on how thick I sliced them. If you start it at night, check them in the morning and adjust depending on how they look. I typically leave a little juice in mine as they are easier for small kids to chew that way. 

Step 8: Remove pears from the dehydrator and place in freezer containers. Label and freeze. I do this because I leave some juice in them and then they last for an entire year without molding. 




Wanting a community to lean into? Join the FREE Courageous + Purposeful Mommas group! This community is for the Mommas, mommas to be, in the midst of raising, and kids grown, looking for tips on building your family up and providing for them through natural methods. Tips include: gardening, bulk buying, caning,/preserving, livestock, homesteading, and home remedies. Your family is precious, and this group is to help you gain the knowledge and tools to keep your family well and not reliant on outside professionals. Remedies and tips are easy and simple for the busy momma, time is precious after all, including pregnancy, birth, young kids, and illness. Trust your Momma gut again! This community offers the resources + community you need to help get started on your journey and prepare for whatever future you envision.

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How to Snack Healthy in the New Year

How to Snack Healthy in the New Year

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links, with NO additional cost to you. 

 

You’ve made the goal to eat healthier,  but where do you even start? Go back to Easy Whole Cooking for tips on cooking. Snacks are also important, with the holidays, food all parties, and general need for snacking with young ones, you cannot forget the importance of snacks. So where do you start?

 

To keep a healthy snack routine, stick with the whole food guidelines. Avoid foods/snacks with preservatives or are highly processed. This includes most crackers (triscuits and a few others like Off the Beaten Path maybe the only exceptions). The beloved summer sausage or beef sticks that show up at parties are also a no go. They are full of preservatives, nitrates, and junk. Sugar is another thing to avoid. Yes that includes the leftover Christmas cookies. 

 

As with all food, read your labels. More than likely if the snack comes ready out of a box or bag, it is not going to be that healthy. Check each label for ingredients you are unfamiliar with and look them up. We are blessed to be able to look information up on our phones. Every now and the. I find a surprise treat that I can pick up for my kids, that is still healthy. 

 

So what can you have? Foods that are close to nature and unprocessed. Fruits are huge! You can dehydrate them if you find a case of sale for later use or eat them fresh.  Vegetables are another big one. Grab a bag of carrots and cut them up. Store then in cold water for freshness and easy quick snacking. Peas work fantastic right out of the freezer well. Nuts are another food that is usually easy to come by and snack on. 

 

In our house I have fresh fruits and vegetables on hand most of the time for snacking. Summer is no problem as many times we are outside and the kids get what they want out of the garden. In the winter months, I use dehydrated fruit that I picked or found on sale. Bananas are easy to dehydrate. You can get instructions on how to dehydrate them here. You can usually buy dehydrated fruit, but again check the labels! Most of them are covered in sugar and dyes. I have found some dehydrated fruits without the sugar and dyes, including: applespeaches, pineapple, mango, and banana. Carrots and peas are some favorites in our house, along with bananas, grapes, apples, and oranges. 

 


 

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Cucumber Chips

Cucumber Chips

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Wait what?!? That was my reaction at first, but having an abundance of cucumbers, I decided to try it. Besides if they were good, it would be a good way to make them last over the winter. I already had pickles and relish left from last year to get me through this year, so I needed something else.  

I started with a very small batch, there was no point in having a bunch if they weren’t any good.  The first batch I did through one of those old cheese graters. This sliced the cucumbers very thin, but still took quite a bit of time and I got many partial pieces, instead of round slices. After they dehydrated overnight we tasted them. They were dissolve on your tongue thin, but tasted good. So I tried round two filling the entire dehydrator. 

In my quest for quick easy cutting I remembered my food processor! I had to cut the cucumbers in half to fit, but cutting part went way faster, and more uniform in shape and thickness. I still tossed them in the oil and salt mixture as the recipe directed. The results of round 2 were mixed. They still tasted good, but they were too thin for a good chip

Round three, I went back to the good old knife.  While the cutting part took longer, and the thickness was not exactly uniform. I filled the dehydrator as full as I could. I also tried brushing the oil salt mix on the slices instead of tossing them. You know to save a dish to wash. These turned out good! They were the proper thickness for a chip and tasted good. I tend to not like a lot of salt, so the one side was perfect for me. My kids liked the chips as well, but they love cucumbers straight out of the garden too. 

Recipe

Cucumbers sliced thin 

1 T Olive oil

½ t Sea Salt

2 t apple cider vinegar (if you want salt vinegar chips)

1. Lay cucumbers on dehydrator trays.

2. Mix olive oil, sea salt, and vinegar (if desired)

3. Brush onto the cucumbers 

4. Dehydrate at 135 degrees F for 10-12 hours until crispy

5. Cool and eat or place in containers for storage.


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Natural Fruity Goodness

Natural Fruity Goodness

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My kids love fruit! And I love that they love it. But when you are on the go, some fruits just don’t travel well. Many of the favorite fruits are also harder to find in the winter. My solution? Dehydrated fruit! 

Last winter I was buying some dehydrated fruits to try them out. Thinking that I was getting great healthy snacks that weren’t loaded with sugar. I got bananas, pineapple, kiwi, and mango at first. Then I read the labels. Every one of them had a sugar coating and some kind of dye. Lesson learned: read the labels very carefully before buying. I did find a few brands that were actually just the fruit and do get those for the occasional treat. You can buy the pineapple here. 

Bananas proved a little harder to find without the extra sugar. So I decided to make my own, since my kids like them so much. The riper the banana the sweater they are. Bananas actually have quite a bit of  fructose (fruit sugar) naturally. What I found is the over ripe bananas actually make really good chips, because they are so sweet. Bonus? You can usually buy them half price. They cut up really nicely as long as they aren't bruised or complete mush. If you don’t want them to brown you will need to dip them in a citric acid or lemon juice. I personally don’t mind, so I sip that step and cut them straight onto the dehydrator. I have found I can get around 3 bananas per tray, depending on how thick I cut them. 

How simple is this little treat? Buy overripe bananas, purchase only enough to fill the dehydrator. They tend to go bad very quickly. Cut the bananas thinly onto the dehydrating trays. Once full, turn the dehydrator on 135 degrees and walk away for at least 24 hours. Let the bananas cool once dry and pack into freezer containers. I leave mine a little chewy, so I put them in the freezer for storage. I personally love these reusable containers


Banana Chips

  • Over ripe bananas

  • Citric acid or lemon juice (optional)

  • Thinly slice bananas onto tray 

  • Turn dehydrator on 135 degrees for 24 hours

  • Check bananas for dryness

  • Store in freezer safe containers

Wanting a community to lean into? Join the FREE Courageous + Purposeful Mommas group! This community is for the Mommas, mommas to be, in the midst of raising, and kids grown, looking for tips on building your family up and providing for them through natural methods. Tips include: gardening, bulk buying, caning,/preserving, livestock, homesteading, and home remedies. Your family is precious, and this group is to help you gain the knowledge and tools to keep your family well and not reliant on outside professionals. Remedies and tips are easy and simple for the busy momma, time is precious after all, including pregnancy, birth, young kids, and illness. Trust your Momma gut again! This community offers the resources + community you need to help get started on your journey and prepare for whatever future you envision.

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