I say, “Let them eat chocolate- even if they don’t have money!”
Here’s the conundrum for poor chocoholics: have you ever craved chocolate-dope so bad, but you couldn’t fit it into your grocery budget? Are your kids addicts too? Where they bugged you relentlessly for Hershey’s chocolate sauce or that 2 lb. chocolate bar, but you just couldn’t afford it (all facts aside that your kids don’t even really need it, but, c’mon- what childhood didn’t revolve around the threat of pocking your teeth with cavities)?
So it is without delay that this post is specially dedicated to my fellow mothers, wives, ladies, girls, guys (don’t want to leave anyone out on this because its sweet application is universal) who work hard at maintaining a strict food budget due to a single-income (or two), job loss, unexpected emergencies or any other kind of pickle that forces restraint on a grocery bill.
And it’s also for “the others” (just kidding). The others are people who may not have a cash flow obstruction, yet just like the rest of us spend their days dreaming of a place where chocolate is provided free, is a basic human right and believe it should be considered a staple that’s handed out in society. Desiring it to be as free as let’s say crystalline water slurped from drinking fountains, super strong wi-fi that’s public, or dare I say, a mother’s love?
If you fit in any category listed above, today is your day…
Chocoholics far and wide, big or small- UNITE! The time of deliverance has arrived!
How do I make homemade chocolate when I have no money?
Chocolate is something you take for granted until you don’t have any.” –Marja McGraw
I’ve always been a big fan of chocolate covered fruit- whether it’s strawberries, bananas, or apples (don’t even get me started on the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store), I’m totally game. Even paid eight whole dollars for a Godiva covered strawberry once; now *that* is dedication. Anyway, chocolate covered cherries? Well, it has to be dark chocolate and I’m very particular about how I eat them. My “method” involves prying the bottom off with my teeth, drinking- or sipping- the juice inside, slowly biting the rim of the chocolate down just a bit, then gobbling up the remaining cherry and surrounding lid. Mmmm… Anybody else play that game? If you do, we were probably separated at birth and one day when we reunite we’ll be the bestest of friends and eat all our favorite desserts together in the same exact way!
[[[excitedly claps hands]]]
I digress. [[[clears throat]]]
One day, I don’t know how, but I got an idea. Buy some fruit, buy some Magic Shell. Grab my trusty dinner plate (which later graduated to a cookie sheet), cut some fruit up onto the plate and squirt some brown chocolaty shell-sauce all over that fruit. Put it in the fridge and then proceeded to bite my nails down to the nub waiting for the timer to buzz. Took it out right at the 15 minute mark, and voila! Chocolate covered fruit…
Little pieces of heaven
The kids and I had our forks ready and wielded them about like swords poised for battle. To ensure everybody’s safety, we carefully ate one at a time and made SURE everyone got an even amount of pieces. We nervously sat around the tray eyeing each other like rabid dogs; there was NO WAY someone was coming out ahead!
Since then, when there were days when the food budget was tight, I reeeeeally wanted some chocolate covered fruit. I don’t know how, and I don’t know the exact moment, but I came to the idea that I could probably make my own chocolate dipping sauce. After all, I’m a motivated and industrious woman and dang it- I’ve made no bakes before; of course I could make my own chocolate!
And, I could have sworn there were some apples left over in the cupboard… Hmm…
But before I take you to the end of this trail, I’m going to quickly interrupt at this point and bring in a very brief public service announcement. Let’s take a second and ask what can “being poor” be compared to? I’ve racked my brain for a few weeks now working on this post and I just can’t come up with a good analogy. Because that’s the point- you don’t have enough dough to just run out and buy fancy things like toppings and sauces. Sometimes you have to experiment with what you already have.
You see, I checked out at the library a documentary called, “A Place at the Table”(highly recommend watching it- it’s emotional) and it was about the hunger issue in America. As part of the film there was a story on a single mother of two little ones, who as a family, struggled to eat every day. In one particular scene the young mom heated up a can of Chef Boy-R-Dee ravioli, split it between the little boy and the little girl who were sitting at the table, and proceeded to make herself a sandwich to eat by herself in the kitchen- there wasn’t enough ravioli in the can for her. In this scenario, she was between jobs, on public assistance, yet the assistance only allowed a few dollars a day to eat on. When she did have a job, it only paid minimum wage, therefore she made “too much” for food assistance; so again, she struggled.
As for my family we’ve been blessed beyond measure that we haven’t faced what this brave young mother did. I found her story to be very touching and at one point in the film, when the tears fell, mine fell right alongside hers.
The good news in the story is that she went on to acquire a really good, dependable job and she even went on to Congress (I believe) to speak on behalf of other families like her own that struggle to provide healthy and nutritious food to her children. If you get a chance, Google “food desert”, you might be surprised!
All this to say, when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, you have to be creative in so many ways in order to make all the food you do buy stretch. And, I mean STRETCH! So, as part of my blog I’m going to start sharing little tips and tricks of the trade I’ve learned along with my own mother, who as a single mother *also* learned to make a lot from a little. I want to give away anything that will profit another and one way to do that is to help make your food budget go so much further than anyone can imagine (hint: putting money in your pocket for other things!).
(Psst… and I don’t mean eating pancakes 25 days out of the month, either!)
How to make homemade chocolate/chocolate sauce and/or dip that costs pennies using what you have in your kitchen!
Now back to the apples in our cupboard.
As with any home there are “staples” in the kitchen. You know, condiments, spices, baking supplies, etc. They are ALWAYS there. For some, there’s always salt and mustard. For others, there’s always chips and beer. Just kidding, so… what’s your staple? Among ours is the usual round-up of:
- White sugar (yes, I know that it will kill us someday)
- Milk (or coffee creamer if you’re in a real pinch)
- Margarine (one molecule away from plastic- sweet!)
- Powdered sugar (don’t judge me; I can’t eat sugar cookies without homemade icing. And, the cookies taste better when they are baked in shapes like stars, hearts, snowmen and bells)
- Cocoa (I’m usually a snob and only buy Hershey’s, but today, I actually bought Aldi’s brand. We’ll see how she goes)
So, guess what? If you have these ingredients in your cupboard, you can totally make your own chocolate! Be prepared for a new era in your life: BC=Before Chocolate, and AD=After Dhocolate.
I got nothin’ people!
Wait, wait, wait- you said this cost hardly anything- free, even!? As my daughter so studiously pointed out, those food items cost money. And, she’s right. They do. BUT, if you are going to buy them *anyway* and you are only using mere ounces at a time, it *truly* breaks down to costing pennies. For us, we ALWAYS have sugar, milk, and margarine. When we do buy powdered sugar and cocoa, we make every effort to buy the economy size because that’s where you get the most for your money. Besides, having cocoa around is *great* for stretching those $1 brownie mixes, $1 cake mixes (it’s like getting two boxes for the price of one- I’ll explain how to do that in a later post), whipping up a batch of no bakes and many other things. Trust me, it’s worth it to save up (if you have to) and then buy!
Now, here are the quantities (if you, reader, disagree with these ingredients, please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this section):
4 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cocoa
1 tbsp. milk (I just fill up the cap)
Small tbsp. of butter
2-4 heaping tbsp. powdered sugar (optional – makes it thicker)
This is how I do it. And, when I do it’s usually an extreme emergency because someone is going through the DT’s and I have to be quick. Plus, it’s super easy too! Bonus!
- Use 2 mugs. In one, mix your sugar and cocoa together. Blend well or you’ll have cocoa globs.
- Microwave the butter and milk in the 2nd mug until melted (microwaves vary- ours usually does the trick in 25 seconds).
- Add wet to dry or vice versa. Mix well for about a one minute- and I MEAN one minute, let the sugar dissolve (unless you like your sauce grainy).
- Microwave again until bubbling (approx. 25-30 seconds), then stir again for a bit until smooth (should have a shiny look to it).
- Add powdered sugar a spoonful at a time until desired consistency. Adding more powdered sugar will make it more like icing/frosting. TAKE NOTE: when the powdered sugar is added this late in the game it has a tendency to leave a clump or two here and there —>clumps do not deter this family<—. However, if clumps give you the willy’s just add the powdered sugar to your sugar/cocoa mixture and mix well. IF your mixture gets too dry, just add a little extra milk.
DISCLAIMER: Let me preface to say that we are not organic hippies. Please don’t be offended by this term. You have to know the kind; they use essential oils to heal everything from cancer to dust in your eye. They eat only organic. Their water is perfectly Ph balanced. They wouldn’t be caught dead in a Walmart. You couldn’t pay them to use VO5 shampoo and they don’t shave their armpits.
But, that just isn’t me-us, no offense to those who want to break the age barrier. I use refined sugar, shampoos with sodium lauryl sulphate, meat that comes from cows that aren’t happy, the list can go on for days.
Honestly though, in real life I have some of the dearest and bestest organic hippy friends in the whole world and I love them dearly. Surprisingly, they love me back.
Even in all my facetious glory.
So there you have it! Feel free to dip apple slices, strawberries and diced bananas (or anything else you can think of (popcorn? toasted cereal? PRETZELS!). It’s delicious! Just yesterday, I made it a little thick with the powdered sugar, but not thick enough to dunk things, and dipped toothpick’d marshmallows into it. Once the marshmallows were sufficiently covered, I plopped each one onto wax paper and refrigerated them for that excruciating 15 minute wait time. The chocolate didn’t *completely* harden, but it hardened enough and they were AWESOME! Maybe if you are like Martha Stewart and know all there is to know about certain kind of hardening agents (like edible wax), you could develop your own chocolate covered marshmallow business! Or dipped apple slices, like this:
I have to make a dessert for a party, but I’m super broke, what do I do?
Pinterest has a lot of yummy looking images of food and desserts. I get a lot of my ideas from there. Some recipes are real gems, some are real stinkers (they always sucker you with that professional photography, don’t they?). And some of them are killer expensive; for example, I wrote down a recipe hemming and hawing the whole time because I knew the ingredients were going to be expensive. But, that dang high-def image hooked me line and sinker.
The recipe was for caramel bars that required 4 sticks of butter (yes, 4), a bag of caramels and a whole bunch of other things. I actually made the dessert and it turned out to be not only expensive (like $12-$15), but was very time consuming also (why not just be one or the other: cheap and hard, or expensive and fast? I mean, there should be some kind of trade-off). Was it good? It was good, but for all the effort and money, it should have DANCED in my throat.
Are you super broke? Is your work party or birthday party on a Wednesday? Here’s just one idea: buy a $1 cake mix, make the frosting listed in the chocolate recipe adding extra powdered sugar. Voila! Dessert for many for only a dollar! All you would have to do is mathematically figure out how to get a couple cups (the recipe I posted makes about a half cup).
I often challenge myself just to see what I can get away with how much I can NOT spend, i.e., save $$$.
Does that make me cheap? Heeeeck no. It makes me the whiz kid of finance! I take all that money and I spend it on way better things, like the fair, a day trip, dairy queen, gymnastics, various lessons, schooling, etc. There are so many ways to either A.) make what you want/need, and B.) stretch what you have! Every little bit helps reduce your food bill and put money into your pocket.
Give this recipe a try. It’s really good and you can make chocolate anytime with just a few ingredients and literally in only a couple minutes. Let’s also not forget that you can use this on ice cream, cupcakes or brownie frosting- now that’s rich!
Your kids will love it so much you many never have a quiet moment to yourself again. Ever! (Psst… we think it’s even better than the store bought stuff!)