For today’s frugal Tuesdays post I thought we’d talk baking, specifically frugal baking. As you know, baking can get pricey, especially if you’re using vegan, gluten-free, & unrefined ingredients.
Here’s a quick list of 10 tips
I’ve gleaned over the years of my experience with being a vegan & gluten-free (& frugal!) baker.
1. Buy in bulk. Costco (they now carry gluten-free all-purpose flour) & Azure Standard, as well as Amazon (I have a Prime membership–so free shipping!) are my go to places for most all of my baking needs.
2. Make your own flour. I use my Blendtec to make my own flours & have done so with great success for years.
3. Bake in batches & freeze half for later. Most baked goods freeze well for up to 3 months if sealed well in a freezer bag. This saves on time & energy–yes!
4. Use cheaper stuff (even if more refined), for parties. When baking for parties or get togethers, save your expensive ingredients like coconut oil & coconut sugar, unless of course, all the people at this gathering eat like you. Most people are fine with eating white sugar, & your baked goods will be a vast improvement over the alternative just by using whole grain flours & making it vegan.
5. Store perishable flours in the fridge or freezer. No use buying in bulk if it will go bad faster than you can use it.
6. Focus on using less expensive ingredients. For gluten-free flours, the cheapest grains/seeds to make flours I’ve found are: white rice, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, garbanzo beans & old-fashioned rolled oats, so I focus on using these when I can. Save the almond & coconut flours for extra special occasions. For sweeteners, I’ve found sucanat (in bulk) to be less expensive than coconut sugar, but more expensive than white sugar. It’s a good middle-of-the-road choice for a lot of my baking.
7. Use flax seed + water to replace eggs in baking. Cheaper, vegan, & works very well in most baked goods. I like 1 tablespoon + 1/4 c. water for a large “egg.” A lot of people think you have to use eggs in gluten-free baking. While this may be true with some recipes, I’ve found a good majority of recipes can utilize a flax “egg” just as well, as long as there is enough fat & the right combo of flours.
8. Use applesauce. Applesauce is a cheap way to replace up to half the oil in many recipes (like this one!). It also reduces the overall fat content. But be aware, a lot of gluten-free goods need fat as the binder, so don’t replace more than half the oil or non-dairy butter, with it.
9. Use bottled, not fresh. When a baked recipe calls for fresh lemon juice, use the bottled stuff or, if it’s not a lemon flavored baked good & you just need something acidic, use apple cider vinegar. No one will notice a difference. Save your fresh lemons for salads or fresh stuff where you can really appreciate it.
10. Use reconstituted dried fruit in place of fresh. I’ve done this primarily with craisins & figs (like in my fig-a-licous bread). For craisins, I let the craisins sit in water that has been boiled for 10 minutes or so. I can usually get dried fruit on sale & it lasts much longer than fresh–so no wasted money on fruit gone bad. Plus, no one knows the better for it!
On that note, I have a frugal baking recipe to share today. The kind of recipe that’s awesome for sharing with all your non-vegan, non-gluten-free friends.
As a Mormon, we’re often asked to serve in various non-paid capacities.
Things like Sunday school teachers, nursery workers, Boy Scout leaders, youth leaders, even our bishop (essentially the preacher/pastor of a congregation) is not paid. These service opportunities are referred to as callings. My most recent “calling” was as a nursery leader.
Which means, Joseph & I watched the 18 month-2 year olds for 2 hours each week. I think we were asked to do this because our
hellion angel/princess/sweet pea 2 year old, Salem was in there & would scream bloody murder any time we tried to leave so the only way to get her to stay is if we stayed too. After 10 months there, we got “released” (no longer had to do the calling any more) & there was a dry spell for me where I didn’t have a calling. But recently I was asked to be the youth Sunday school teacher. My response was I would be thrilled to do it.
The advice given to me was to bring treats of some sort, most Sundays. Since, you know how teenagers, I mean, you know how humans are. We respond well to food.
I love nothing more than an excuse to bake (or cook).
The tricky thing is, though, I’m sure you’ve run across this, is that a lot of gluten-free flours & vegan baking items (like agave or maple syrup–liquid gold!) tend to be on the pricier side. Not quite frugal items, let’s say.
Though I love to use coconut oil & coconut sugar, agave & maple syrup in my baking, I simply can’t afford to use these things when I’m baking for a crowd. I still keep the goods vegan & healthy-ish, but I have to bring the kosher level down a bit. In other words, white sugar, canola oil, & the like.
So, here’s what I made for my youth this past Sunday:
Buckwheat oat muffins.
Did you notice I’m on a buckwheat kick of late?
The reason why? I love buckwheat, but also, I’m a
cheapskate frugal, so I buy in bulk which means I have to figure out how to use 50 pounds of buckwheat before it goes bad.
I didn’t tell them they were vegan.
I didn’t mention they were made from buckwheat.
And, somehow, there were no complaints. In fact, I’m going to go so far as to say they were a hit.
To be honest, I think it was the sparkly sugar on top that made all the difference. Sparkly sugar makes everything so much prettier. I suppose if you want to go healthy-ish, you could sprinkle with oats, but I figured, hey, I’m already using white sugar, why not add some sparkles?
hearty muffins made from old-fashioned rolled oats & buckwheat flour--vegan + gluten-free
- 2 c. buckwheat flour
- 1 c. all-purpose flour (gluten-free or white wheat)
- 1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 1/2 TBS. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2/3 c. sugar
- 3 TBS. ground flax seed
- 2/3 c. water
- 1/2 c. canola oil
- 1 1/2 c. non-dairy milk
- bright white sparkling sugar or additional old-fashioned rolled oats, for topping
- fold in 1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries (I like wild blueberries for muffins, they're smaller) to batter
- Place muffin liners in 2 dozen muffin cups. Spray liners with non-stick spray.
- Sift buckwheat & all-purpose flours. Add oats, baking powder, salt, & sugar & mix. Set aside.
- Whip flax seed & water until thickened.
- Combine oil, milk & flax seed mixture.
- Make a well in center of bowl with flours. Pour in wet mixture. Stir until all flour is absorbed.
- Using a medium large cookie scoop (about 3 tablespoons), scoop batter into cups.
- Over tops of batter, sprinkle bright white sparkling sugar or additional old-fashioned rolled oats.
- Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick can be inserted & comes clean.
- Cool on wire rack for a 5 minutes, then if possible, serve warm.
Additional nutrition info: 17 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein, 6 g sugar, 55 mg sodium, 4 WWP points
Do you have any frugal (vegan &/or gluten-free) baking tips to add?
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