How to Make a Thanksgiving Grazing Board

Whether you feel like you want to skip the Thanksgiving dinner all together, or you need something to keep the hungry mouths busy while you’re preparing the big meal, a Thanksgiving grazing board is a great option.

The post How to Make a Thanksgiving Grazing Board appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I have to come clean about something. I’ve spent more years than not actively avoiding cooking a Thanksgiving dinner. Pandemic or not, my boyfriend and I often eat some version of this Thanksgiving Grazing Board below instead of a full Thanksgiving dinner. This grazing board is festive, it’s easy, it’s all of my most favorite foods on one tray, and it pairs perfectly with wine and a day of relaxing. And OMG, so much easier than a full meal. 😅

So whether you feel like you just want to skip the big meal all together, or you need something to keep the hungry mouths busy while you’re preparing the big meal, a Thanksgiving grazing board is a great option.

P.S. If you’re like me and would be just as happy with a grazing board of goodies instead of a traditional Thanksgiving meal, give me a shout in the comments so I don’t feel like I’m a weirdo. 😅

Overhead view of a Thanksgiving grazing board

What Goes on a Grazing Board?

When building a grazing board, I like to have items from the following categories: meat, cheese, fruit, bread, dips or spreads, nuts, and pickled vegetables. That way you have an excellent mix of sweet, salty, crunchy, creamy, acidic, and maybe even spicy, that can all be mixed and matched into an endless combination of delicious bites. I think I just described my heaven.

Oh, and garnishes are always a nice touch, if you want it to look pretty. And food that looks pretty is always more fun.

Thanksgiving Grazing Board Options

For each of the categories I listed above, I’ll list what I used as well as some alternate ideas that stay in that Thanksgiving/fall theme, so you can easily build your own custom board.

Meat: I used salami medallions and slices of roasted turkey. Other ideas include: peppered salami, prosciutto, honey ham, genoa salami, or soppressata.

Cheese: I included brie, smoked cheddar, and aged gouda in my Thanksgiving Grazing Board. You want to try to have a variety of textures and flavors. Here are some other cheese options (try not to choose two from any category):

  • Creamy: Chevre, Camembert, Burrata
  • Hard: Parmesan, Manchego, Pecorino, aged cheddar or gouda
  • Slicing cheeses: Cheddar, Provolone, Havarti, Swiss
  • Blue: Roquefort, Stilton, Blue

Fruit: I included grapes and pears on my grazing board, as well as a few dried apricots and dried cranberries to fill in the nooks and crannies. Other fall-inspired fruits could include: apples, pomegranates, figs, or satsumas.

Bread: I used a variety of crackers (from a variety pack) to provide multiple shapes and textures on the board. I also sliced up a baguette and offered that on the side, since there wasn’t much more room on the board for bulky pieces of bread. You can use virtually any type of cracker or sliced bread for your grazing board.

Dips and Spreads: I included whole-berry cranberry sauce, honey, and Dijon mustard. Other fall-inspired spreads include: fig jam, pumpkin or apple butter, whole grain mustard or spicy honey.

Nuts: I used a few pecan halves that I had in my pantry to fill in the gaps on the board, but candied walnuts, almonds, or pecans would also be a nice festive touch.

Pickled Vegetables: I ran out of room to include any pickled vegetables on my tray, but they really do offer a nice flavor contrast to the rest of the items and I usually try to include at least one. Sweet mini gherkins would be my preference for the flavor profile of this Thanksgiving Grazing Board, but a classic olive is always nice, too.

Garnishes: I went with a couple of mini pumpkins and rosemary sprigs for my garnish, since I already had both on hand. Another fun option would be to get some fake or fresh sunflowers, fake leaves, or fake pinecones.

Close up view of a Thanksgiving Grazing Board

How to Save Money on Your Grazing Board

It’s so easy to go overboard when buying meats, cheeses, and other specialty ingredients, so here are my tips for keeping your costs in check:

  • Stick to one or two items from each category. You’ll run out of room on your board faster than you think!
  • Check your fridge and pantry for shelf-stable items you may already have on hand: nuts, dried fruit, mustard, jam, honey, etc.
  • Buy a variety pack of crackers rather than multiple boxes of single crackers. Crackers are always strangely expensive, IMHO.
  • Check for a discount bin at your grocer’s deli section. A lot of deli department will place pre-sliced meats and cheese, or even specialty cheeses on discount when they get close to their sell-by date! If you don’t see a discount section, ask! You can save big using this method, just make sure to buy the discounted items no more than 1-2 days before you plan on serving your grazing board.
  • Use a baking sheet as your “board” (this white enameled baking sheet is linked in my shop). No one is going to see it through all of those beautiful cheeses anyway! Haha! If your baking sheets are looking a little worse for wear, lay down a piece of parchment paper first.
Side view of Thanksgiving Grazing Board

How Much Does a Thanksgiving Grazing Board Cost?

This board cost me about $27.54, with leftovers of most of the ingredients that I could refill as the board gets eaten down (almost two boards-worth of ingredients). I literally “grazed” on this board and the leftovers all week long. Here is a breakdown of what I purchased and what I already had on hand:

Purchased:

  • Salami $3.99
  • Turkey slices $2.99
  • Brie $2.99
  • Smoked cheddar $3.49
  • Aged gouda $3.69
  • Grapes $3.53
  • Pears $1.59
  • Cranberry sauce $0.89
  • Crackers $2.89
  • Baguette $1.49

On hand (I didn’t measure these ingredients so I can’t calculate estimate costs):

  • Honey
  • Mustard
  • Pecans
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Dried Apricots
  • Mini-pumpkins
  • Fresh rosemary

How to Make A Thanksgiving Grazing Board – Step by Step Photos and Styling Tips

pumpkins and sauces on the grazing board

I like to start my board with any larger items and dips and spreads. I find that the little bowls or dishes of spreads make great central pieces to “wrap” other food around. So here I have a bowl of cranberry sauce, two small cups with mustard and honey, and two mini-pumpkins. I also like to avoid having the board look too symmetrical, so I just sort of scattered these pieces around the board.

grapes and pears added to the board

Next I added the grapes and pears because again, these are larger items that will be difficult to place once more ingredients are added. I left half of the pear whole for visual appeal. More pear can be sliced as the the board gets eaten (I actually purchased two pears, so I had an extra waiting to be sliced).

Cheeses added to the board

Next I went in with the cheeses. In addition to having a variety and flavors of cheeses, you want to present them in a variety of ways. Hard aged cheeses look beautiful when crumbled. Slicing cheeses, like cheddar, are great as slices or cubes, and softer cheeses are good to present whole or in larger pieces that people can slice off or scoop up as needed.

Meats added to the grazing board

Now it’s time for the meat. Again, you want to present the meat in a variety of ways to really maximize the visual texture of the board. There isn’t a lot you can do with these little salami medallions, so I just piled them on to make the board look “abundant.” For the turkey slices, I rolled them into cigars. If you have thin slices of salami or cured meat, it’s fun to fold them in half, then in half again to create a sort of ruffled appearance.

Crackers added to the board

Next came the crackers. I like to fan the crackers out and snake them around other items.

Nuts and dried fruit added to empty spots

Now the board should be very full, save a few very small blank spots. I used small items like nuts and dried fruit to fill in the blanks.

Garnishes added to the grazing board

And finally, I added a few rosemary sprigs as a garnish. The board looks abundant, full of color, texture, and flavor, while still having a distinct fall theme.

Side view of a Thanksgiving grazing board

What Else Might I Need?

If you do decide to make a Thanksgiving Grazing Board this year, don’t forget some plates, napkins, and toothpicks! Oh, and bring your appetite, too. ;)

The post How to Make a Thanksgiving Grazing Board appeared first on Budget Bytes.

How to Make Buttermilk (4 Easy Substitutes)

Did you forget to pick up buttermilk at the store? Once you know 4 easy methods for how to make buttermilk, you’ll be able to whip up a quick and easy substitute in just a few minutes. Do you ever just get a dessert craving and have to make something right then? Obviously I’m a …

The post How to Make Buttermilk (4 Easy Substitutes) appeared first on My Baking Addiction.

        

Did you forget to pick up buttermilk at the store? Once you know 4 easy methods for how to make buttermilk, you’ll be able to whip up a quick and easy substitute in just a few minutes.

homemade buttermilk substitute comes together in 5 minutes and requires only 2 ingredients. Skip the grocery store and make your own!

Do you ever just get a dessert craving and have to make something right then?

Obviously I’m a little baking obsessed, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I will often decide to make something randomly. 

Whether it’s Fresh Strawberry Bread, Moist Banana Cake, or The Best Chocolate Cake, there’s nothing more disappointing than getting halfway into making a recipe and realizing that I’m out of buttermilk.

It’s even worse when it happens after I have put on my comfy clothes for the evening and do NOT want to go to the store.

Luckily, I’ve got a few quick and easy buttermilk substitute tricks in my back pocket just for times like this. Once you know how to make this tangy baking staple, you’ll be able to whip up any number of baked goods on the fly no matter what you have in your fridge!

(more…)

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How to Make Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I’m a little late on this tutorial this year, but we finally got around to carving our pumpkins this past weekend! Carving pumpkins is fun, but roasting the pumpkin seeds is by far my favorite part. Roasted pumpkin seeds are so crunchy, delicious, and addictive, and I look forward to them every year!

The post How to Make Roasted Pumpkin Seeds appeared first on Budget Bytes.

We finally got around to carving our pumpkins last weekend, so I got to make my favorite fall treat! Carving pumpkins is fun, but the roasted pumpkin seeds are by far my favorite part. Roasted pumpkin seeds are so crunchy, delicious, and addictive, and I look forward to them every year!

And if you’ve already discarded your pumpkin seeds from this year, don’t worry! You can use this same technique for the seeds from other winter squash, like acorn, delicata, butternut, and spaghetti squash. So as you enjoy your seasonal squash over the next few months, make sure to enjoy the seeds as well!

roasted pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet with pumpkins on the side

Can You Eat the Shell?

You may be familiar with pepitas, which are the tender green inner portion of the pumpkin seed. When you remove the pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin, they still have their outer white shell (or hull). While this outer shell is very tough and fibrous, it is edible. It takes a bit of chewing, so if you have difficulty chewing or a delicate stomach, you may want to pass on roasted pumpkin seeds.

What Do Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Taste Like?

Roasted pumpkin seeds have a deliciously nutty flavor and aroma that is kind of similar to fresh popcorn. The flavor is fairly neutral and pairs well with both sweet and savory spices.

How to Flavor Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

The fun thing about roasted pumpkin seeds is that you can flavor them with just about anything you like! I used some Cajun seasoning salt in the recipe below because it’s an easy one-stop-shop for salting and seasoning, but you have so many options. Here are some other great ideas for seasoning your roasted pumpkin seeds:

  • Curry powder
  • Garlic Herb Seasoning
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Ranch seasoning (if this contains buttermilk powder, toss the seeds in melted butter and the seasoning after roasting)
  • Cinnamon and sugar (toss seeds in melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar after roasting)
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • Italian seasoning

Make sure to check to see if your seasoning blend contains salt. If it does not contain salt, you will want to add salt in addition to the spice blend.

How to Store Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

After roasting the pumpkin seeds, allow them to cool completely to room temperature. Keep the cooled pumpkin seeds in an air-tight container at room temperature for 2-3 weeks. No need to refrigerate, unless they’ve been tossed in butter after roasting.

Roasted pumpkin seeds in a small black ceramic bowl with pumpkins and leaves on the sides
Roasted pumpkin seeds in a small black ceramic bowl with pumpkins and leaves on the sides

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted pumpkin seeds are an easy and deliciously crunchy byproduct of pumpkin carving. A fast, easy, and tasty fall treat!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 10 ¼ cup each
Calories 78kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Rinse the pumpkin seeds in a colander and remove any remaining pumpkin flesh that may be attached to the seeds. Place the washed pumpkin seeds in a lint-free dishcloth and pat dry (the seeds have a slippery coating and may not feel totally dry).
  • Place the washed and dried pumpkin seeds in a bowl and add the cooking oil and seasoning. Stir until the seeds are well coated. Pour the seasoned pumpkin seeds out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and spread them into a single layer.
  • Roast the pumpkin seeds in the preheated oven, stirring every 5-10 minutes, until they are golden brown and have a nutty aroma. Total roasting time will vary depending on the size of the seeds and their moisture level. Allow the pumpkin seeds to cool, then enjoy!

Notes

*Use your favorite high heat cooking oil and your favorite seasoning blend (see notes above recipe for seasoning ideas).

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 78kcal | Carbohydrates: 1.69g | Protein: 3.43g | Fat: 7.05g | Sodium: 138.07mg | Fiber: 0.75g

How to Make Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – Step by Step Photos

Pumpkin seeds straight out of the pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. This is what your pumpkin seeds will probably look like right after they’re scraped out of your pumpkin. The extra bits of pumpkin are a lot easier to separate from the seeds while they’re in water, so let’s give them a rinse first.

Rinsed pumpkin seeds

Place the pumpkin seeds in a colander and rinse with cool water. Remove the extra bits of pumpkin flesh as you rinse the seeds. Let them drain well then place them in a lint-free towel and pat dry. This helps them get really crispy. The seeds do have a sort of slippery coating, so they may not feel 100% dry.

Season pumpkin seeds

After cleaning and drying, I had about 2.5 cups of pumpkin seeds (from two pumpkins). Place the seeds in a bowl and add your seasoning. I’m using a Cajun seasoning that contains a lot of salt, so I only needed to add the one ingredient (1 tsp). Use your favorite seasoning and don’t forget to make sure it has some salt, or add some separately.

Raw pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet

Spread the seasoned pumpkin seeds out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Transfer to the preheated 350ºF oven.

Roasted pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet

Roast the pumpkin seeds in the oven for about 25 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes (I stirred at 10 minutes, and 20 minutes, then roasted for a final 5 minutes). The total roasting time will vary depending on the size of your pumpkin seeds and their moisture content. You’ll know they’re done when they are golden brown and smell nutty, kind of like popcorn.

Roasted pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet

Allow the pumpkin seeds to cool, then enjoy! Or store in an air-tight container for 2-3 weeks.

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How to Steam Fresh Green Beans

One of my go-to side dishes is steamed green beans. Why? Because they’re so fast, they’re uncomplicated, delicious, and you can make them several different flavors to match your main dish. They’re just the perfect no-brainer side dish. If you’ve only ever had canned green beans, please promise me that you’ll try steaming fresh green beans […]

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One of my go-to side dishes is steamed green beans. Why? Because they’re so fast, they’re uncomplicated, delicious, and you can make them several different flavors to match your main dish. They’re just the perfect no-brainer side dish. If you’ve only ever had canned green beans, please promise me that you’ll try steaming fresh green beans at least once. They’re a whole different beast. A deliciously fresh beast. So, without further ado, let me show you how to steam fresh green beans, so you can have another simple, delicious side dish under your belt!

Overhead view of a bowl full of steamed green beans with butter, salt, and pepper

The One Secret to Good Green Beans

There is only one thing you need to know about making good green beans: DON’T OVER COOK THEM. Most people I come across who say they don’t like green beans have only ever had overcooked, drab, olive green, too-soft green beans (like the kind you get in a can). The trick is to cook them until they are bright green, tender, but still with a good bite. They’ll still taste fresh, vibrant, and green. Deeeelish. 

What Equipment Do I Need?

Steaming green beans is so incredibly easy. All you need is a colander, pot or a deep skillet with a lid, and a steam basket. The steam basket holds the green beans just above the boiling water so they cook evenly and makes it really easy to lift the green beans out of the pot once cooked.

Do I Really Need the Steam Basket?

While the steam basket does help produce the best results, I’m not going to tell you that you can’t steam green beans without one. For years, before I had the few dollars to spend on a steam basket, I simply steamed my green beans directly in the one-inch of water. The bottom layer of green beans cooked slightly more than the rest, but guess what? It was barely noticeable. If you’re short on cash, follow the directions below minus the steam basket and you’ll do just fine.

Why Steam Instead of Boil Green Beans?

Because it’s faster. One inch of water takes a fraction of the time to come up to a boil compared to a full pot of water. Also, less nutrients are leached out of the green beans when they steam compared to when they’re fully submerged in boiling water. That’s two good reasons, if you ask me!

How to Flavor Green Beans

I’m a happy camper with the simple combo of melted butter, salt, and freshly cracked pepper on my steamed green beans, but there are so many different things you can add. Try these flavors:

  • Sautéed garlic
  • Lemon zest and juice
  • Sesame oil and sesame seeds
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Crumbled feta
  • Bacon
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Or any combination of the above!

Can I Use Frozen Green Beans?

Frozen green beans are blanched, or partially cooked, before freezing. So, while you can steam them using this method, they may need a different amount of time to cook. Check the package for recommended cooking times.

 
Overhead of a bowl of steamed green beans with butter, salt, and pepper.

How to Steam Green Beans

Learn how to steam fresh green beans for an easy, delicious, fresh, and versatile side dish that will go with just about any dinner.
Total Cost $1.86 recipe / $0.47 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 60.38kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans $1.69
  • 1 Tbsp butter $0.13
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Rinse the green beans in a colander. Snap the end off of any beans that still have an attached stem (see photos below). Snap each bean in half, or leave the beans whole for a more dramatic presentation.
  • Place one inch of water in a pot or deep skillet. Place the steam basket inside the pot. The water should not be so deep that it comes up through the holes in the steam basket. Fill the steam basket with the washed green beans. Place a lid on the pot or skillet, turn the heat onto high, and allow the water to come to a boil (about 3 minutes).
  • Allow the green beans to steam for about 5 minutes from the time the water begins to boil, or until they have reached your desired level of tenderness. Aim for green beans that are vibrant in color and tender but not mushy. You can test the tenderness of the green beans with a fork.
  • Once cooked to your liking, remove the pot from the heat. Remove the steam basket with the green beans and discard the water from the bottom of the pot. Place the beans back in the pot without the steam basket and add some butter. Stir the butter into the green beans, allowing the residual heat to melt the butter. Season the beans with salt and pepper, then serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25lb. | Calories: 60.38kcal | Carbohydrates: 7.85g | Protein: 2.08g | Fat: 3.13g | Sodium: 237.08mg | Fiber: 3.05g

How to Steam Green Beans – Step by Step Photos

Close up of a green bean with stem, more green beans in a colander in the background

Rinse your green beans in a colander. Snap off any ends that still have a stem attached. You can see what the stem looks like in the photo above. The other end of the green bean will be pointy, but those are fine to eat. In fact, that’s my favorite part. You can snap your green beans in half or leave them long and whole for a more dramatic presentation.

metal steam basket

This is the metal steam basket that I use. It has a loop in the center for lifting the basket out of the pot and the outer edges can close in or expand to fit the diameter of your pot. You can also buy bamboo or silicone steam baskets, but I find these old-school metal baskets to be inexpensive and pretty indestructible.

Steam basket in a pot with water

Place about an inch of water in a pot or deep skillet and place the steam basket on top. The water should not be so deep that it comes up through the holes. 

Fresh green beans in the steam basket in the pot, uncooked

Fill the steam basket with the washed green beans and place a lid on the pot. Turn the heat on to high and allow the water to come up to a boil (about 3 minutes).

Steamed green beans in the pot

Once the water begins to boil, allow the beans to steam for about 5 minutes, or until they reach your desired level of tenderness. Aim for green beans that are a vibrant green color and are tender, but still have a bit of bite. They shouldn’t be a drab green or mushy.

Steamed green beans with butter, salt, and pepper in the pot

Remove the pot from the heat, lift the steam basket and beans out of the pot, then discard the water. Place the beans back into the pot without the steam basket, add some butter, and stir to melt the butter (heat is off). Season with a little salt and pepper, then serve!

Overhead of a bowl of steamed green beans with butter, salt, and pepper.

The fresh green bean flavor on its own is so delicious that I usually only add a little butter, salt, and pepper, but you can have fun and get wild with the seasonings! Let me know what your favorite flavors are in the comments below. :)

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How to Freeze Bananas

I was freezing some of our brown bananas the other day and decided to take a few snapshots of the process and do a quick little “How to Freeze Bananas” tutorial. Why? Because while a lot of people know you can make banana bread with brown bananas instead of letting them go to waste, you […]

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I was freezing some of our brown bananas the other day and decided to take a few snapshots of the process and do a quick little “How to Freeze Bananas” tutorial. Why? Because while a lot of people know you can make banana bread with brown bananas instead of letting them go to waste, you don’t always have time to make banana bread right when the bananas are ready, and sometimes you don’t have enough bananas all at one time. Freezing your overripe bananas will help you reduce your food waste even further, and makes sure you have ripe bananas on hand all the time for things like banana bread, smoothies, and more.

Two brown bananas on a marble surface with title text at the top

Can I Freeze the Bananas Whole?

You may be asking yourself, “Can I just toss the banana in the freezer, peel and all?” and the answer is yes, but that’s not the best way to do it, IMHO. While you can freeze a whole banana with the peel, the banana becomes very soft after thawing, making it very difficult to peel without making a mess. Just go ahead and peel it first and thank yourself later.

I also prefer to slice my bananas before freezing, instead of freezing the whole peeled banana, because it makes them easier to measure (thaw only what you need), faster to thaw, and easier to blend into a smoothie.

How Long do Frozen Bananas Last?

Frozen bananas will continue to brown in the freezer, just at a much slower rate than on the counter top. I find that they’re best when used within 3 months of freezing, but your milage may vary. To make sure you’ve got plenty of ways to use those frozen bananas before they get too brown and shriveled, I’ve got several recipe ideas for you listed below.

What Kind of Container Should I Use?

I like to use zip top freezer bags because they can hold a varying amount, I can remove as much air as possible, and it’s easy to write the contents and date on the front. If you prefer to not use plastic, you can freeze your bananas in glass meal prep containers or glass jars and simply add some freezer tape or a freezer label for writing the contents and date. Always write the contents and date on your frozen goods! :)

Frozen banana slices in a labeled freezer bag

How to Keep Frozen Bananas from Turning Brown

Bananas continue to turn brown in the freezer, just like they do at room temperature, but at a much slower rate. To slow the browning almost to a halt, you can dip the frozen banana slices into lemon juice before freezing, but that’s just waaaaay too much work, IMHO. Instead, I freeze the banana slices as-is, and just make sure to use them within a few months. Nothing lasts forever and you’re already extending their life a lot by freezing them.

How to Thaw Frozen Bananas

You can use the frozen bananas in recipes while still frozen (see list below) or thaw and mash them before adding to a recipe. To thaw the frozen bananas, simply leave them out at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Or, if you froze them in a freezer bag, you can drop the freezer bag (still tightly closed) in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes. 

Thawed frozen bananas will let off some liquid. You’ll want to stir this liquid into the bananas as you mash them. Mashed bananas are often used in recipes to add moisture, so you don’t want to lose that liquid that seeps from the bananas as they thaw.

What Can You Make with Frozen Bananas?

You can make so many yummy things with your frozen bananas! Here are some ideas:

Uses for frozen bananas (not thawed):

Uses for frozen bananas (thawed and mashed)

 

How to Freeze Bananas

A simple, step by step tutorial on how to freeze bananas for user later in banana bread, smoothies, muffins, and more.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Freeze Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 brown banana or more
  • parchment paper
  • baking sheet
  • freezer safe containers

Instructions

  • Peel the banana(s) and cut them into ½-inch thick slices.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the banana slices on the lined baking sheet in a single layer. Freezing the bananas individually first helps prevent them from sticking together in one large clump when frozen.
  • Freeze the bananas for 1-2 hours, or until solid, then transfer to an air-tight, freezer-safe container, like a freezer bag, glass meal prep container, or glass jar. Label the container with the contents and date.
  • For best results, use within three months.

How to Freeze Bananas – Step by Step Photos

Sliced bananas on a cutting board next to banana peels

Peel your banana(s) and slice into ½-inch thick slices.

banana slices on a parchment lined baking sheet

Line a baking sheet with parchment, then lay the banana slices on the lined baking sheet in a single layer. Freezing them individually like this first prevents them from sticking together in one large clump in your container later. Transfer the banana slices to the freezer and freeze for 1-2 hours, or until the slices are solid.

Frozen banana slices in a labeled freezer bag

Once solid, transfer the banana slices from the baking sheet to an air-tight, freezer-safe container, like a freezer bag, glass meal prep container, or glass jar. Keep frozen up to 3 months for the best quality.

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How to Cut a Watermelon

Summer is in FULL SWING and one of the most wonderful simple pleasures of summer is fresh cut watermelon. If you’re a little intimidated by how to even begin to cut into one of these things, I’ve got a quick tutorial for you! Here is a really quick step by step guide on how to […]

The post How to Cut a Watermelon appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Summer is in FULL SWING and one of the most wonderful simple pleasures of summer is fresh cut watermelon. If you’re a little intimidated by how to even begin to cut into one of these things, I’ve got a quick tutorial for you! Here is a really quick step by step guide on how to cut watermelon into classic wedges, or really easy-to-eat batons!

A watermelon cut into several different shape and sized pieces, a hand grabbing a wedge

 

While there are several methods for cutting watermelon, I’m showing you two different methods in this tutorial—classic wedges and batons. Wedges are a great hand-held way to eat watermelon, but batons are slightly smaller and easier to eat without getting juice all over your face (especially for little hands). ;) Also, once you have the watermelon cut into batons, it’s really easy to then cut the batons into cubes to use for salads.
You might also enjoy my tutorial, How to Cut and Freeze Pineapple!

How to Cut Watermelon Video

How to Cut Watermelon – Step by Step Photos

cut off end of watermelon

Cut off a thin slice from either the side or the end of the watermelon to create a flat, stable base. If you’re using a longer watermelon, cutting from the side will be easier so it’s not really tall once you stand it on the cut side.

Cut watermelon in half

Stand the watermelon on the flat cut side just created, then cut the watermelon in half down the center.

Cut watermelon half into slices

Lay one of the watermelon halves on the cutting board with the cut side down. Slice it in half down the center, then across the center cut into 1-inch thick slices.

A hand holding a watermelon wedge with the rest of the watermelon in the background

And now you have classic watermelon wedges! If you want to take it one step further…

Watermelon cut into batons, a hand holding one close to the camera

Turn the watermelon 90 degrees again and cut across the slices to creates squares. Each “square” will be the “handle” on an easy-to-eat watermelon baton!

A hand holding a watermelon wedge with one bite taken out

I hope you enjoy a relaxing, hot summer full of lots of juicy watermelon!

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How to Make Veggie Noodles

Did you know that you can make veggie noodles out of cucumber, carrots, kohlrabi, and more? We’ve all heard of zucchini noodles by now, but lots of other vegetables can transform into curly, colorful noodles too! Making these veggie noodles is on…


Did you know that you can make veggie noodles out of cucumber, carrots, kohlrabi, and more? We’ve all heard of zucchini noodles by now, but lots of other vegetables can transform into curly, colorful noodles too! Making these veggie noodles is one of my favorite summer cooking projects. It doesn’t require the stove or the oven, so unlike baking, it won’t heat up the whole house. It’s also a great way to showcase peak-season summer produce. But most importantly, it’s fun! There’s something mesmerizing about watching a humble root veggie turn into vibrant vegetable noodles. You can make vegetables noodles […]

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How to Make Self-Rising Flour

Have a recipe that calls for self-rising flour but can’t find it at the store? No problem! Learn how to make self-rising flour with all-purpose flour and two more simple ingredients. I love having a well-stocked pantry, fridge and baking cabinet. But no matter how well stocked I keep my kitchen, there are simply times […]

The post How to Make Self-Rising Flour appeared first on My Baking Addiction.

        

Have a recipe that calls for self-rising flour but can’t find it at the store? No problem! Learn how to make self-rising flour with all-purpose flour and two more simple ingredients.

Hand holding a brass measuring cup over a bowl of flour while a knife smooths out the top

I love having a well-stocked pantry, fridge and baking cabinet.

But no matter how well stocked I keep my kitchen, there are simply times when I need to dig into my bag of tricks and make homemade versions of some ingredients.

I can’t tell you how many times I have needed to whip up some buttermilk substitute or a batch of pumpkin pie spice in the middle of a baking project.

Today I’m back with another helpful baking tip: How to make self-rising flour at home!

Maybe you didn’t realize you were out of self-rising flour until you were halfway through making Beer Bread. Maybe you can’t find self-rising flour at your store. Or maybe you live outside of the United States and self-rising flour isn’t readily available to you.

Whichever the case, use this method to mix up as much self-rising flour as you need!
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How to Measure Flour

Have you ever made a bread or cake recipe that promised to be moist and tender but turned out to be dry and dense? You’re not alone. This is a common problem in baking, and often, the solution is trying a new method for how to measure flour. Firs…


Have you ever made a bread or cake recipe that promised to be moist and tender but turned out to be dry and dense? You’re not alone. This is a common problem in baking, and often, the solution is trying a new method for how to measure flour. First, if you don’t already have a kitchen scale, get one, because weighing your flour will give you the most accurate measurement every time. When you weigh the flour for a recipe, you know exactly how much you’re using. By contrast, when you measure by volume, the actual amount of flour you […]

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How To Calculate Recipe Cost

The recipe cost breakdowns are a big part of Budget Bytes. And while you’re not likely to have the exact same food costs as me (prices vary quite a bit from location to location, day to day, and even store to store), I think it’s helpful to see how each ingredient can impact the overall […]

The post How To Calculate Recipe Cost appeared first on Budget Bytes.

The recipe cost breakdowns are a big part of Budget Bytes. And while you’re not likely to have the exact same food costs as me (prices vary quite a bit from location to location, day to day, and even store to store), I think it’s helpful to see how each ingredient can impact the overall cost of a recipe. So now I’d like to dive a little deeper to show you how I make these calculations, and teach you how to calculate recipe costs yourself. Because even if you do it once, I promise you’ll learn a lot!

Originally posted 6-30-2013, updated 5-21-2020.

 

A notebook with a recipe cost calculation surrounded by various ingredients

Why Calculate Recipe Costs?

My big “Ah-ha!” moment came when I calculated the cost of my first few recipes. I was always very mindful of the total amount I spent at the grocery store every week, but seeing the breakdown of each ingredient and the total recipe cost that truly revolutionized my way of cooking.

Seeing this breakdown helped me learn how to tweak recipes to make them more filling for less money, while maintaining maximum flavor. I learned that scaling back just a little on the most expensive ingredients (nuts, cheese, meat, etc.) dramatically reduced recipe costs, but didn’t have a huge impact on flavor. Likewise, I learned which inexpensive ingredients helped give my food a big flavor kick for pennies (green onions, cilantro, freshly cracked pepper, dried herbs, etc.), and which ingredients I could use to bulk up a recipe without greatly increasing the total cost (rice, pasta, beans, lentils, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, etc.).

What Method Do You Use?

Here on Budget Bytes I use the same method of calculating recipe costs used by commercial food service operations—adding the costs of each ingredient used, in the amount used, rather than adding the full price of items purchased. Some argue that you can’t just buy 2 Tbsp of olive oil, so the recipe actually costs more to make. The counter argument to that is that you don’t buy an entire bottle of olive oil every time you make a recipe, nor do I consider an ingredient “free” if I already have it in my kitchen and didn’t need to buy it for that recipe. Both methods have their caveats, but I find the method used here to be the most representative of the recipe’s true cost.

What Do I Need to Calculate the Cost of a Recipe?

The process is simple and doesn’t require a lot of time or “equipment.” It’s so simple, in fact, that I do this, by hand, for every single recipe on this website (well over 1000 recipe at this point). To calculate recipe costs you’ll need:

  • Your receipts
  • Original ingredient packages
  • Pen and paper
  • Calculator
  • Grocery store website (as a backup for sourcing prices)

How To Calculate Recipe Costs – Step by Step Tutorial

Okay, so let’s walk through, step by step, what I do to calculate the cost of a recipe on Budget Bytes. For this tutorial, we’ll be using the Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta recipe as an example.

Step 1: Write down the recipe ingredients and quantities

Notebook with ingredients listed

If you like to print your recipes, you can do the calculations right on the printed version of the recipe. I always do my calculations in my recipe development notebook. You’ll fill out the prices in the right hand column as you do the calculations.

Step 2: Fill in prices for ingredients that were used “whole”.

Two Grocery Receipts

Gather your receipts and record the prices for any ingredient that you used in the “whole” form. This could be ingredients like a can of tomatoes, a cucumber, maybe a jar of pasta sauce, a single bell pepper, etc. In this Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta there was only one ingredient that I used in the full volume purchased—diced tomatoes. You can see this item listed as “kro tomatoes $0.59” on the Kroger receipt. Record the price next to this item on your recipe ingredient list.

Note: If you don’t have your receipts, check your grocery store’s website. Some larger stores, like Kroger, allow you to look up items online and the price will be displayed.

Step 3: Calculate Bulk Produce Items

Bag of Onions

For bulk produce items, take the total price listed on the receipt and divide by the number of items purchase. The total price for this bag of yellow onions listed on the receipt was $1.69 and there are six onions in the bag, so each onion is approximately $0.28. Record this price on your recipe ingredient list.

This method works good for other bagged produce, like apples, carrots, oranges, lemons, potatoes, etc. and also things like packages of chicken thighs or breasts.

Garlic Cloves in a bowl

For garlic, each head is usually around $0.60-$0.65 and I get on average about 8 good sized cloves from each head, so I just estimate about $0.08 per clove.

Step 4: Use Package Labels to Calculate Partial Ingredient Costs

For most ingredients you’ll need to use the information listed on the ingredient packages to determine the cost of the amount used in the recipe. Here are some examples:

Penne pasta box

This recipe used 1/2 lb. of penne pasta. The whole box (1 lb.) cost $1.49. Since I used half the box, the cost of the amount used is $1.49 ÷ 2 = $0.75.

Bag of Spinach

The same method was used for this bag of spinach. The full 8 oz. bag cost $1.29, so the cost of the 4 oz. used is $1.29 ÷ 2 = $0.65.
Cream Cheese Package

Sometimes the manufacturers are nice and provide helpful guides for measuring. This full 8 oz. package of cream cheese cost $0.79, so the cost of the 2 oz. used in the recipe is $0.79 ÷ 4 = $0.20.

Can of tomato paste nutrition label

Sometimes the calculations can get a little more involved. The cost of this 6 oz. can of tomato paste was $0.39. We can see on the nutrition label that there are 5 servings of 2 Tbsp in the can, or a total of 10 Tbsp per can. We used 2 Tbsp for the recipe, so the cost of what we used is $0.39 ÷ 5 = $0.08.

Bottle of Olive Oil

I bought this bottle of olive oil a while back, so I had to refer to Kroger.com to get the price. The total price for this bottle was $5.95. We can see on the nutrition label that there are 66 servings of 1 Tbsp in the whole bottle. We used 1 Tbsp for the recipe, so the cost of what we used is $5.95 ÷ 66 = $0.09.

Parmesan bottle nutrition label

This Parmesan cheese is about as complicated as the calculations usually get because we’re converting between unit types. We see on the label that there are 45 servings of 2 tsp in the whole bottle. We used 1/4 cup in the recipe. So first I calculated the cost per tsp: $2.29 (total bottle price) ÷ 45 ÷ 2 = $0.025 per tsp. I know there are 3 tsp per tablespoon, and 4 tablespoons per 1/4 cup, so I calculated a little further: $0.025 x 3 x 4 = $0.31 per ¼ cup.

Step 5: Estimate Costs for Herbs and Spices

A measuring spoon in a bottle of dried basil

Herbs and spices don’t have nutrition labels with serving sizes to work with, and often the entire container only weighs less than 2 oz. Unfortunately I don’t have a kitchen scale that is sensitive enough to weigh something as light as a 1/2 tsp of a dry herb. So, for my purposes I use a generic (and generous) allotment of $0.10 per tsp for most dried herbs and spices. For salt and pepper I estimate a little less and for any rare herbs or spices I double the generic estimation. So, for this recipe: 1/2 tsp dried basil = $0.05, 1/2 tsp dried oregano = $0.05, 1 pinch crushed red pepper = $0.02, 1/2 tsp salt = $0.02, freshly cracked pepper = $0.03

Step 4: Add it all together!

So finally, we have all of the prices of the ingredients filled in on the recipe ingredient list. Now just simply add them all together and then divide by the number of servings and you’ve got the price per serving. So for this recipe, the total cost was $3.28 and with four servings that’s $3.28 ÷ 4 = $0.82 per serving.

A notebook with a recipe written down and prices listed for each ingredient

As you can see, it’s not an exact science, but it will definitely shed some light on where your money is really going. I hope you try it out at least once just to see how it goes. If you want to do it on a regular basis, you can start a spreadsheet with price per unit information for your pantry staples. This way you’ll have a record of the price for items that you may only buy a few times per year (and probably won’t have the receipt handy). Luckily, my blog acts as a “record” of these prices, so I can quickly refer back to my last purchase price.

What About Electricity, Gas, and Water?

Every now and then I get a question about how utilities add to my recipe costs. Unfortunately I don’t have a way to measure the amount and cost of the most of the utilities used in the recipes, but I’m confident that it would be a very small amount. For instance, in this recipe I used 1/2 cup water in the sauce. After checking my last water bill, I paid $0.003 per gallon of water. I round to the nearest cent for these calculations, so the cost of the 1/2 cup water in this recipe is negligible. Water is easy to measure, but I don’t think I could measure the amount of gas or electricity used to heat the oven.

Handy Conversions for Calculating:

  • 3 tsp = 1 Tbsp
  • 4 Tbsp = 1/4 cup
  • 2 Tbsp = 1 fluid ounce
  • 16 Tbsp = 1 cup
  • 2 fluid ounces = 1/4 cup
  • 8 fluid ounces = 1 cup
  • 16 weight ounces = 1 pound

NOTE: “fluid ounces” are a volume unit, weight ounces are a measurement of mass. Solid ingredients are usually listed as weight ounces, liquid ingredients are usually listed in fluid ounces. 8 fluid ounces of one ingredient may not equal 8 weight ounces of that same ingredient. That will depend on the individual density of the ingredient. Cheese is a great example. 4 oz. (weight) of cheese is equal to about one cup (volume) of shredded cheese. One cup is 8 fluid ounces in volume, but only 4 weight ounces of shredded cheese.

Try It Yourself!

I hope I didn’t scare you off with all these calculations! It really is quite simple, especially after you do it a few times. If you’re interested in giving it a shot, start with a simple recipe that only has 3-5 ingredients and see how you do! Then, let me know how it worked out in the comments below. :)

P.S. Did you know you can browse our recipes by Cost per Recipe and Cost per Serving

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