Category Archives: Cooking From Scratch

Chocolate Sauce

Chocolate Milk

My kids go through chocolate sauce at an alarming rate. At about $6 for a 700ml container I figured I could do better both on the price side and the contents. Searching the internet brought up a lot of options. I wanted simple and cheap. That meant cocoa, sugar and water. No milk, butter or dark chocolate brought the price down. I then modified from there


Ingredient Last Purchase Price Cost in Recipe
1 cup Cocoa (~125g) $5.50 /500g bag $1.38
1 1/4 cup sugar (~280g) $13 / 4.54kg bag $0.80
1 1/2 cup water Free Free


Mix everything together in a pot over medium heat. Keep stirring or it will burn to the bottom. When it comes to a boil it is done. Remove from the heat and let cool. I store mine in glass jar in the fridge.

Total Cost $2.18 for about 500ml so about $3.05 for the equivalent 700ml bottle. That makes it about half the cost. Its very easy to make. You can vary the ingredients. I cut down a bit on the sugar and upped the cocoa. It makes it more chocolatey than the store bought. We use it mostly in chocolate milk but it also works great as a topping for ice cream. There is also no artificial flavors or colors in it so that’s a victory as well.

Taco Night

Tacophoto © 2010 Evan Swigart | more info (via: Wylio)

My kids decided it was time for a taco night. This usually involves a buying a sleeve of shells and a package of spice mix. Budget wise I am trying to avoid prepackaged anything. This also allows us to avoid all the other stuff that gets put into those packages. The sleeve of shells actually had a good list consisting of corn, oil, water and calcium hydroxide. The spice mix at $2 had all sorts of stuff in it:

  • Dehydrated Vegetables (Onion, garlic, Celery, Bell Peppers)
  • Salt
  • Dextrose
  • Cornstarch
  • Spice
  • MSG
  • Flavor
  • Artificial Flavor
  • Citric Acid
  • Hydrogenated Soy and Cottonseed oil
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Disodium Inosinate
  • Guanylate

So what do I actually need: Veggies, Spice, Cornstarch, and much less salt.

I decided to fry the onion with the meat and I didn’t have peppers or celery so I left them out. Searching online I found a number of different recipes and ended up picking the ideas out to make my own based on what I had and how hot I wanted it to be. I ended up with:

  • 1 TBSP Chili Powder
  • 1 TSP Cornstarch
  • 1 TSP Salt
  • 1 TSP Garlic
  • 1 TSP Cumin

This made enough for 1lb of ground beef.

Brown up 1lb of ground beef with 1 small onion diced small. Drain the fat. Add the spice mix and 1/2 cup of water. Turn down and simmer until most of the water is gone. It will have a nice spicy gravy coating the meat.

Serve with you usual extras.

My Daughter: meat on the side, a shell that she eats like a chip, and carrot sticks.

The rest of us: Sour cream, meat, tomato, cheddar cheese and I can’t forget to buy my wife some lettuce for hers.

End Results. Nobody but me knew that I had made the switch. So it passed the taste test. Price wise it was cheaper but everything was already in the house so I couldn’t do a true comparison. Most importantly I know every ingredient I put in.