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 […]

The post How to Steam Fresh Green Beans appeared first on Budget Bytes.

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 […]

The post How to Make Veggie Noodles appeared first on Love and Lemons.

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!
(more…)

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

        

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 […]

The post How to Measure Flour appeared first on Love and Lemons.

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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How to Make Baked Potatoes

Let’s talk about baked potatoes for a second. This simple food is waaaaay overlooked. They’re inexpensive, simple to make, and can be turned into so many different meals. But there’s a little more to making a good baked potato than just tossing a potato into a hot oven. So today I’m going to share my […]

The post How to Make Baked Potatoes appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Let’s talk about baked potatoes for a second. This simple food is waaaaay overlooked. They’re inexpensive, simple to make, and can be turned into so many different meals. But there’s a little more to making a good baked potato than just tossing a potato into a hot oven. So today I’m going to share my simple method for how to make baked potatoes, plus some fun topping ideas so you can turn your baked potatoes from a simple side dish into a decked out main dish.

Overhead view of baked potatoes lined up, opened and fluffed, with pats of butter inside

How to Make a GOOD Baked Potato in Three Steps:

There are a million different ways to bake a potato, but here is my simple, tried and true method:

  1. Prep the Potatoes: Wash and dry the potatoes, then prick them all over with a fork. Drying the skin helps it crisp up in the oven instead of staying leathery. Pricking the skins allows steam to escape while they bake, preventing the potato from exploding in the oven.
  2. Season the Potatoes: Rub the outside of each potato with oil, then season with salt. Rubbing the skins with oil prevent the skins from becoming dry and papery. Seasoning with salt keeps the skins flavorful, and helps them crisp up a bit.
  3. Bake the Potatoes: Bake the potatoes in a preheated 400ºF oven until tender. Total baking time will depend on the size of your potatoes.

How Long Do You Bake Potatoes?

The total baking time depends on the size of your potatoes and the temperature of your oven. When baked at my recommended 400ºF oven, a ½ pound potato will take about 45 minutes, and a ¾ potato will take about 60 minutes. Always make sure to test your potato by piercing the potato in the center with a fork to make sure the potato has cooked through. The fork should slide into the potato easily without resistance.

What Temperature Should You Bake Potatoes At?

There are many different opinions on this, but my preferred temperature is 400ºF. I find this temperature to be a happy medium between long baking times and even cooking. Lower temperatures can make the potato take forever to cook through, while higher temperatures can sometimes overcook the outside before the inside of the potato has a chance to become tender.

Should I Wrap My Potato in Foil?

I don’t like the foil method. I like the way the potato skin has a nice “snap” to it when the skins are coated in oil and seasoned with salt, but are baked uncovered. Potatoes wrapped in foil have a much more delicate skin and I prefer my potatoes to have plenty of texture.

What is the Best Potato for Baking?

I’m team russet for baked potatoes. The flesh of russet potatoes gets nice and fluffy when baked, compared to waxier varieties, like Yukon Gold or red potatoes, that tend to be more dense. I also like the russet potato skins quite a bit (when cooked correctly–see tips above). Plus, russet potatoes come in a great size for single portions!

Side view of baked potatoes lined up, seasoned with pepper and butter

 
Side view of baked potatoes lined up, seasoned with pepper and butter
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How to Make Baked Potatoes

How to make baked potatoes with flavorful, crispy skin and fluffy insides in three easy steps. Plus baked potato topping ideas to make it a meal! 
Total Cost $1.26 recipe / $0.31 each
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 1 potato each
Calories 207.75kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 4 russet potatoes (½ lb. each) $1.20
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04
  • 1 pinch salt $0.02

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Wash the potatoes well, then dry them with a towel. Use a fork to prick each potato several times.
  • Drizzle the cooking oil over the potatoes, then use your hands to smear the oil over each potato until it is fully coated. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet (you can line the baking sheet in parchment or foil for easy cleanup, if desired). Season the potatoes with a pinch of salt.
  • Bake the potatoes in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork. Total baking time will depend on the size of your potatoes.
  • Carefully cut the potatoes open, fluff the inside with a fork, and add your favorite toppings!

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 207.75kcal | Carbohydrates: 40.65g | Protein: 4.83g | Fat: 3.68g | Sodium: 109.58mg | Fiber: 2.93g

Scroll down for topping ideas!

Four baked potatoes lined up on a baking sheet, each topped with different ingredients

Baked Potato Topping Ideas:

My favorite part about baked potatoes are that they are a total blank slate and can be turned into so many different meals! They’re a great way to use up leftover odds and ends in your fridge, so get creative! Here are some of my favorite combos, starting with those pictured in the photo above, top to bottom:

How to Make Baked Potatoes – Step by Step Photos

Four prepped russet potatoes on a small white baking sheet

Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Wash the potatoes well, since they grown under ground and even the factory washing can still leave some remaining dirt. Dry the potatoes well so the skins crisp up nicely in the oven. Prick the potatoes several times with a fork to allow steam to evaporate while they bake. Rub oil all over each potato, then season each potato with a pinch of salt. The salt helps give the skins flavor and helps them crisp up a little.

Note: I like to place the potatoes on a baking sheet for easy transfer in and out of the oven. You may want to line the baking sheet with parchment or foil for easy cleanup.

A fork piercing into a baked potato

Bake the potatoes for 45 minutes, or until they’re tender all the way through. Test the potatoes for doneness by piercing with a fork. The fork should slide easily into the center of the potato with no resistance.

Baked potatoes lined up, seasoned with pepper and butter

 

Slice open the potatoes, fluff the insides with a fork, and add your favorite seasonings or toppings! Pictured with butter and pepper.

Four baked potatoes on a baking sheet, each with different toppings

Have fun with it! What are your favorite potato toppings? Share with the rest of us in the comments below!

 

The post How to Make Baked Potatoes appeared first on Budget Bytes.

How to Slice, Dice, and Mince

If you’re learning how to cook for the first time, you’re not alone. When you first dive into cooking and trying to follow a recipe, it can seem like a foreign language. Cutting vegetables the right size and shape does make a difference in recipes, so it’s important to know the difference between how to […]

The post How to Slice, Dice, and Mince appeared first on Budget Bytes.

If you’re learning how to cook for the first time, you’re not alone. When you first dive into cooking and trying to follow a recipe, it can seem like a foreign language. Cutting vegetables the right size and shape does make a difference in recipes, so it’s important to know the difference between how to slice, dice, and mince different vegetables. Hopefully with a little instruction and practice, you’ll get comfortable with these techniques and be able to tackle any recipe!

This post includes affiliate links to products we use and love!

Knife Skills: Slice, Dice, and Mince

A white cutting board with sliced red onion, bell pepper, and sweet potato

How to Chop the “Right” Way

There are many ways to cut an onion (or bell pepper, or sweet potato…) and I’m presenting the technique that works for me. This is not the only way and is not the “right” way, because I think the right way is unique to the individual. The more you use your knife, the more you’ll become comfortable and find a technique that works for you.

I’ve included photos and video for three different types of vegetables, so you can see how the basic technique translates to different shapes. This way you’ll know how to tackle anything from an eggplant to a rutabaga! 

Tips Before You Begin:

  1. Use a sharp knife. Dull knives are more likely to slip, which can result in a knife accident (not fun). So invest in a simple knife sharpener to keep dull blades at bay.
  2. If your cutting board tends to slide on your work surface, lay a thin damp rag on the work surface under your cutting board. This will help lock your cutting board into place.
  3. Use the correct type of knife. For slicing, dicing, mincing, and chopping you will want to use a chef’s knife. This knife is big enough to easily slice through vegetables, but small enough to maintain a high level of control in your hand. Depending on the size of your hands, you’ll want either an 8″ or 10″ chef’s knife. I’m using a Victorinox 8″ Chef’s Knife.

Need more help getting started in the kitchen? Check out my 10 Tips for Recipe Success!

 
 

How to Cut an Onion

Root end of a red onion being cut off

Step 1: Slice off the end(s) of the onion. Some people prefer to leave one end intact, to hold the onion pieces together as they slice (this can help, especially if you are a beginner), but I usually slice both off. 

Onion being sliced in half

Step 2: Turn the onion to sit securely on one of the flat cut ends, then slice the onion in half. Now that there are several cut edges, it should be easy to peel the papery layers off the onion.

Onion half being sliced

Step 3: Turn the onion to lay on one of the larger flat cut sides, then slice into strips. Make sure to keep your finger tips tucked as you slice to protect your fingers. Some people prefer to slice along the latitude of the onion, I prefer to make a longitudinal slice. Cutting in this direction makes straighter slices, whereas slicing the other direction makes half-round slices. You can choose the direction based on the recipe or how you want the onion slices to look.

How to Use Sliced Onions: Sliced onions are great for recipes where you want the onion pieces to stand out. They’re great for roasting (Roasted Bratwurst with Peppers and Onions), sautéing (Fried Cabbage with Noodles), pickling (Pickled Red Onions), and caramelizing (Pineapple Pork Hawaiian Burgers).

Red onion being diced

Step 4: To dice the onion, line up the slices, turn 90 degrees, and cut across the slices. This is where it can help to leave one end of the onion intact to hold the slices in place, but I just hold them in place with my hand.

How to Use Diced Onions: Diced onions are good to use in recipes where you may want some texture, but not large pieces. Use them for sautéing (Turkey Taco Skillet), in soups and chilis (Chicken and Lime Soup), and Salads (Honey Mustard Broccoli Salad).

Red Onion being minced

Step 5: To mince the onion, place one hand over the tip end of the knife to create a fulcrum, and rock the knife back and forth with the other hand to further chop the diced onion into smaller pieces (see video above to watch this in action).

How to Use Minced Onion: Minced onions are great for recipes where you want some onion flavor, but you don’t want much, if any, texture. Mince onions tend to melt into any dish they’re cooked into, and often have an undetectable texture. Use minced onions in: meatballs (Beef Kofta Meatballs),  burgers (Greek Turkey Burgers), meatloaf (Cheeseburger Meatloaf), and salsas (Easy Pineapple Salsa). 

 

How to Cut a Bell Pepper

Bell pepper being sliced in half

Step 1: Slice the bell pepper in half longitudinally (top to bottom). 

Seed pods being pulled out of the bell pepper

Step 2: Pull the seed pods out of the bell pepper, as long as any excess white flesh. 

Bell pepper being sliced

Step 3:  With the skin facing down, slice the bell pepper longitudinally (top to bottom). Slicing on this side of the pepper is much easier than slicing the tough skin side, which can cause the knife to slip.

How to Use Sliced Bell Pepper: Sliced bell peppers are great for recipes where you want the pepper pieces to hold up to cooking, like roasting (Easy Oven Fajitas), stir frying (Vegetable Lo Mein), or when you want the pieces to lay flat and stay in place, like sandwiches (Sriracha Chickpea Salad Wraps).

Bell Pepper being diced

Step 4: To dice the bell pepper, line up a few slices, turn them 90 degrees, then cut across the slices into squares. 

How to Use Diced Bell Pepper: Diced bell peppers are great for when you want a distinct crunch, but in bite-sized pieces. They’re great for salads (Sesame Tuna Salad), Stir Fries (Ground Turkey Stir Fry), and soups and stews (One Pot American Goulash). 

 

How to Cut a Sweet Potato

Sweet potato being peeled

Step 1: Peel the sweet potato. 

Sweet potato being cut into rounds

Step 2: Slice the sweet potato into rounds. Remember, keep those finger tips tucked!

How to Use Sliced Sweet Potatoes: Sliced sweet potatoes are good for when you want to display the sweet potato as the main feature of a recipe. Sliced sweet potatoes can be roasted (Smoky Roasted Sweet Potatoes) or baked.

Sweet potato being cut into strips

Step 3: To cut the sweet potato into strips (for things like sweet potato fries), stack a few of the sweet potato rounds, then slice into strips.

Sweet Potato being diced

Step 4: To dice the sweet potato, line up a few of the strips, turn 90 degrees, then cut across the slices into cubes.

How to Use Diced Sweet Potato: Diced sweet potatoes cook faster than strips or slices, so they’re great for many different types of dishes. They’re great in soups and stews (West African Peanut Stew), roasting (Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes), and salads (Roasted Sweet Potato Rainbow Salad).

Sliced, diced, and minced red onion, bell pepper, and sweet potato

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Homemade Pasta

This homemade pasta recipe is our new favorite cooking project! Lately, Jack and I have been spending even more time than usual in the kitchen, experimenting with bread, baked goods, and even okonomiyaki. But we keep coming back to homemade pasta. It&#…


This homemade pasta recipe is our new favorite cooking project! Lately, Jack and I have been spending even more time than usual in the kitchen, experimenting with bread, baked goods, and even okonomiyaki. But we keep coming back to homemade pasta. It’s super fun to make together, and it only requires a handful of basic ingredients. Of course, the fact that it’s absolutely delicious doesn’t hurt either. 🙂 My homemade pasta recipe refers to the pasta maker attachment for the KitchenAid Stand Mixer, which is how we roll out our fresh pasta at home. If you don’t have a KitchenAid, […]

The post Homemade Pasta appeared first on Love and Lemons.