We had a lively discussion on Facebook recently about the ways to save on groceries and still buy mostly organic food, which is lower in pesticides and fertilizers, GMO free and better for the planet. In this post I would like to share some of the great ideas we came up with. I also could not help including a great money saving recipe: homemade pita chips and hummus that are very popular in my household.
Here are some of the money-saving tips shared by our Facebook community:
1/ Use the guide from The Environmental Working Group to decide which conventional produce is lower in pesticides. The guide helps save money and buy the conventional produce that is less likely to be contaminated with pesticides.
2/ Make most of the meals from scratch. This way you can buy more expensive organic ingredients to prepare something that will be still cheaper than a precooked meal made from conventional ingredients. Most dips, sauces and salad dressings can be prepared in a flash with the ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard.
3/ Reduce food waste. Whatever is leftover from dinner can be recycled in the next few meals. I like to keep several bowls with leftover steamed vegetables and whole grains in the fridge so when I need a quick dinner I just stir fry some tofu or pan fry chicken or fish and the meal is ready in a flash! You can also cook a big batch of soup or stew I make sure to freeze half of it to have a ready meal to enjoy in a couple of weeks.
My kids love pita chips with hummus but I was struggling to find inexpensive organic hummus and whole wheat pita chips. The point was to avoid GMO canola oil often used to produce conventional hummus and boost my kids fiber since they already get so much white flour based snacks at school, playdates and parties.
So we made our own pita chips and hummus! They not only taste amazing, but also cost a fraction of the cost of the prepackaged kind. Oh, and they take only about 15 minutes to prepare from beginning to end. Smoked paprika adds another layer of flavor to the hummus and the chips, my Spanish husband insisted. And he was absolutely right!
Now, here is a snack you can feel good about!
Whole wheat pita chips
- A package of whole wheat pita bread (4 9 inch pita breads)
- About a tablespoon of olive oil
- Paprika (optional)
- Heat the oven to 325 F.
- Separate the pita breads horizontally into two parts, stack the halves on top of each other and cut them into 8 wedges each.
- Place the pita triangles in a single layer on a baking sheet and brush lightly with oil. I also like to sprinkle them with paprika, for added smokiness.
- Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until they are crisp, turning once.
The hummus recipe was shared with me by one of readers, Moira Bundschuh from Cape Cod Aupair Childcare. Moira is amazing because she even makes tahini from scratch! If you have store bought tahini, feel free to use 2 tablespoons of it instead of the sesame seeds.
You can also substitute the dried chickpeas with canned variety, just make sure to buy the ones that come in cans with a BPA free lining or tetra packs.
Here is the impressive Mediterranean platter Moira prepares for her family, including hummus and tabouli.
- 1/2 cup of sesame seeds
- 1/4 cups of olive oil
- 2 cups cooked dried chickpeas or canned chickpeas
- 2 teaspoons salt, more if needed
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (about 2 cloves of garlic). I found it a little too much for my girls so feel free to adjust the amount if needed.
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice, more if needed
- 1/4 cups water leftover from cooking chickpeas or plain water
- Toast about 1/2 cup of sesame seeds in a pan on low-medium heat, stirring/shaking regularly until you can smell them.
- Pour into a food processor (a very good blender and a magic bullet will work).
- Add about 1/4 cup of olive oil, process until smooth (that’s mostly tahini).
- If you are using a premade tahini (a sesame paste), skip the first two steps and just add 2 tablespoons of tahini to the blender together with the oil.
- Add the chickpeas, salt, lemon juice and garlic to the food processor, continue to process
- Add gradually the water and process until the hummus has the consistency you like.
- Taste, add additional olive oil, salt or garlic to your liking.
- Serve with pita chips and cut up raw vegetables.
And here are Moira’s lucky girls enjoying the pita chips and hummus with yummy broccoli!
Tell me, how do you save money on groceries?