5 Budget Saving Staples for the New Year!

5 Budget Saving Staples for the New Year!


Happy 2014 everyone! Thank you for spending time with me last year and telling me all about making my recipes. This year there will be more recipes, ideas and ways to make dinner easier. You can look forward to a few ebooks this year and my new oatmeal book from Page Street Publishers will be coming out in the fall.

Most people, including me, try to make some changes in January. My goals this year include:

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  • unpack the two rooms full of boxes (with Cheryl)
  • eat at home for most meals (pack meals for Cheryl for work)
  • write 2 to 4 short specialized ebooks
  • write new cookbook to be published 2015
  • get new writing gigs
  • schedule in at least one day off a week
  • schedule in 1 to 2 hours of downtime everyday

All of this is doable, but I worry about my time management the most. When I’m in cookbook writing mode most things get pushed to the side and I spend all my time working. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

What are you working on this year and how are you going about meeting your goals?

Here are 5 Slow Cooker Budget-Saving Staples for you to integrate into your lives this year. Even if you only have one slow cooker you can make a few of these before Monday!


5 Budget Saving Staples for the New Year!

Making your own bouillon saves a ton of money and adds lots of flavor to cooked grains, soup and stews. You can make it in your slow cooker or even your oven if you’d like to warm up the house a little while it’s still cold. I actually found a bunch of celery for 50 cents on the reduced produce shelf of the grocery so I made a huge batch to freeze. Get the free-form recipe here.

Cooking Dried Beans:

5 Budget Saving Staples for the New Year!

Buy dried beans and cook them in your slow cooker . It will save you so much money over the course of a year. I admit I always have a few cans on hand for last minute recipe ideas, but I also have beans that you can’t buy in cans cooked up and frozen in 1 1/2 cup portions in the freezer. Mother Stallard beans, runner beans and others, can be made into a quick soup or stew this way.  Try my recipe for Beyond Easy Slow Cooker Beans – 1 1/2 Quart Version and see how easy and cheap it is for yourself. I buy Rancho Gordo heirloom beans with the money I save.

Winter Squash Puree:

5 Budget Saving Staples for the New Year!

It may seem off-season to talk about cooking pumpkin but  you may still have a winter squash or two on hand. You can slow cook them by just poking a few holes in it and slow cooking, let it cool, scoop the seeds and scrape out the good part. Freeze in 1 1/2 cup portions and you have the same amount that’s in a can or in 1/2 cup portions to drop in your slow cooker oats. Step by Step Slow Cooker Pumpkin Purée has the instructions with photos to get you started.

Don’t forget that you can also “bake” potatoes and sweet potatoes in your slow cooker and they make a great meal. Just wash, poke holes and cook on low while you are away at work. You can even throw a few on top of the batch of chili you are slow cooking to make your meal complete!

Not Really Refried Beans:

5 Budget Saving Staples for the New Year!

While you are working on making beans from scratch instead of using cans, go ahead and give up the cans of refried beans. I have 2 very simple slow cooker recipes that can be doubled or tripled to stock your freezer. The plain refried beans aren’t pretty but are super easy and aren’t even fried. You can add even more nutrition by adding in some butternut squash or sweet potato.


  1. says

    What a helpful post this has been. Thank you so much for your generosity! I am especially happy, because I do, in fact, have only a small slow cooker, so the beans recipes are absolutely perfect. Happy new year (indeed)!

  2. says

    Great post!
    Don’t forget you can bake almost anything in the slow cooker.
    Whole Garlic in together with your potatoes, all kinds of onions, I often just dump a mixture in the pot, no peeling, nothing extra at all – a few hours later they can be added to other recipes, hummus, stews, soups or eaten as a side dish – so easy and delicious
    All root vegetables, gourds, squash, wonderful I keep an extra crock pot just for this – today I just cut up slices of golden pumpkin, stood them upright with the thick skin down on the base of the pot, took only a couple of hours and when they were cooled a little they never made it to the soup I had planned, just tasted too good and eat them straight off the rind – wow.
    I think it’s the combination of baking and steaming in their own juice.

  3. says

    Great post! Now what about making one’s own broth? If you have some freezer space (we’re buying a chest freezer when we move this year) I’ve heard people just toss in their veggie snips and peelings during a food prep session into a Ziplock freezer bag (NAYY) and freeze. When full, over a few cumulative sessions if needed, chuck in the slow cooker with water. Strain and store broth by canning it or in freezer bags, with the broth frozen flat. Very curious if you give this a whirl, you’ve beens o helpful to me, I hope this is giving a little back (I also have your books). :)

    • Kathy Hester says

      It’s a really great idea and I think it works for a ton of people. I prefer bouillon because my freezers (yes I have a big one too!) are always full of recipe testing food 😉

  4. Barbara C says

    Love my new little crock pot and Vegan Slow Cooking cookbook that I received for Christmas. I’m working my way through many of the recipes and love them all. I have a suggestion though… Instead of using a food processor to puree at the end of cooking, I used a stick blender and did it right in the pot. Faster, safer, and a breeze to clean!
    Thank you for all your hard work in bringing these wonderful ideas to us all. It’s just what I was looking for!

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