Gluten/Dairy Free Chex Mix

Since my college finals days, I’ve been a holiday baker. One of my signature dishes is Chex Mix. This year, I set out to make a dairy free/gluten free version so that Jeremiah’s oldest nephew could enjoy it.

The gluten free cereal part was easy since Rice Chex and Corn Chex are both Gluten Free. We also knew we could get a fake butter – Smart Balance is the brand his family uses. It’s pretty much just a mix of different oils.

The gluten free pretzels was the hardest ingredient to find. We ended up going to Sprouts to get a bag of Glutino – gluten free pretzels. I love Sprouts – they make buying foods for people with specific dietary needs easy. It’s where we picked up the fake butter. Plus, we were able to buy about 1 1/2 cups of peanuts from the bulk area for about $.70. This is way cheaper than the grocery store packaged bags. We couldn’t use mixed nut because Jeremiah has a pretty serious allergy to cashews.

Here’s hoping you and your Gluten Free/Dairy Free family & friends enjoy this recipe.

Gluten Free ChexGluten & Dairy Free Chex Mix by Amber Bourek
3 c. Rice Chex
3 c. Corn Chex
3 T. Smart Balance Non-dairy Butter
2 c. Glutino (Gluten Free) Pretzels
1 c. Peanuts
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder

Melt fake butter and stir in seasoning. Mix with dry ingredients. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour – stirring every 15 minutes.


  • I used a the Chex seasoning packet. It is the same ingredients as the seasoning listed above.


Harvesters SNAP Challenge – Day 4

I’m very lucky. I can afford the gas to shop the best deals in town. I know so many others can’t. I’m often reminded how many people rely on public transportation or need to walk to get places. I know this gives me an advantage in the SNAP Challenge. Even though many stores are in close proximity to me, the only one directly across the street from me is HyVee. I could probably walk to Hen House or Sprouts but I would be limited in how much I could purchase based on what I could carry.

I’m also very fortunate to be a part of my family’s Sam’s Club membership. This allows me to purchase food sometimes at cheaper prices buying in bulk.

Skinny cowI was very excited to learn yesterday that I can just use the actual cost per serving of what we used in the SNAP Challenge. This is great because one of the items Jeremiah and I cut from our budget was Canola Oil. At $2.18 for the smallest bottle the sell, we couldn’t justify the purchase for two recipes using less than a 1/3 cup. One recipe, we would have been able to substitute applesauce (Whole-Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies). Applesauce cost just $1.50 per six pack. The other recipe (Extra Easy Hummus Dip), we would not have been able to. This valuable piece of information means we might actually be able to make both recipes.

Although Sam’s Club has hands down the best price on items like bananas and Skinny Cow snacks, some of their prices are comparable to weekly discounts in area grocery ads. For example, we couldn’t buy whole wheat bread or chicken any cheaper last night.

I’m a pretty savvy discount shopper so I thought I would share a few tricks I’ve picked up over the years.

  • Hen House doubles coupons of $.50 or less. This means you can sometimes get better prices on name brand items than store brands.
  • Target allows you to stack coupons. That means you can use a Target coupon plus a manufacturer coupon. For example: If you wanted to buy Ziploc bags and you had $1.00 off Target coupon and a $1.00 off SC Johnson Company coupon, you could save $2.00 on one box of Ziploc bags. Awesome!!
  • Wal-Mart will match any advertised price at a competitor. Take your ads with you in case you need to show the cheaper price. Please note though, they don’t honor things like “Buy One Get One Free”.
  • Pick up a Sunday Kansas City Star. The coupons inside are usually for items currently on sale or about to go on sale. I used to be an avid clipper. I’d often share coupons with my sister for items I didn’t need but I knew she might use.
  • I used to also print off online coupons. Penny Pinching Mom and Target are great sites to get them. I used to save about a third on my grocery bill by watching for sales and clipping coupons.
  • If you have two coupons for the same product, you can use both of them when you buy two of the products during the same shopping trip.
  • If you head to Dollar Tree on Sunday mornings, you can sometimes get the Kansas City Star for $1 instead of $2.00. It’s limited to if the delivery drivers have extra. You better be there early though because they get picked up fast.
  • Ask a friend who gets the paper if they use the coupons. If not, ask if you can have them. One of my sister’s friends does this for her.
  • Compare ads and save. The big picture on the top of the front page is always the best deal. This price is often half the normal price. Jeremiah and I like to buy our veggies at Sprouts. We compared ads and walked about with two bags of fresh produce for $7.
  • Stock up and save. If you know it is something you will use, buy more of it when it is on sale. For example, I always take advantage of Target deals with free $5.00 gift cards when K-Cups, toilet paper, or cleaning supplies are on sale. (Even better if you clip & stack your coupons.) Not only do you get a better price but you also get $5 off the next time you shop. Be careful to watch when it is ringing up though, I have had to go to customer service more than once because I was overcharged.
  • Buy gift cards for things you use at HyVee. You can often earn $.10 off per gallon in Fuel Saver for every $25 gift card you buy. I did this just the other day for Jiffy Lube. I have to pay to have my oil changed. Why not save some money on gas later? Plus, this can really help you with your month budgeting. My sister often buys gift cards instead of caring around cash. It also limits her spending at particular stores.
  • Sprouts honors both ads sales on Wednesday. Totally shop then! Plus, they have ads for monthly deals.
  • HyVee’s meat counter sometimes has the best unit price. This is how Jeremiah buys meat and it always taste good.
  • Check out the price on frozen chicken breast versus fresh chicken breast. Usually one of them is on sale. Jeremiah and I usually buy it at Sam’s Club for $1.98. If you see it cheaper in an ad, it will usually be above the fold on the front cover. This week, HyVee has boneless, skinless chicken breast on sale for $4.99 per 2.5 lb. bag. That’s a $1.99 per pound.
  • If a store is out of an item, ask for a rain check. I did this about a month ago to get Cutie oranges for $3.99 at Price Chopper the next time they had them.
  • Sprouts sells things like flour, sugar, rice, and seasonings in bulk. This is often a great way to buy the exact amount you need for a recipe. Jeremiah and I are using it to mix white and wheat rice together for healthier versions of recipes.
  • Did you know that area Farmers Markets will double your SNAP benefits. That means if you have $14 in SNAP benefits you can get $28 in food when you buy it at the Farmers Market.
  • Did you know that Papa Murphy’s takes SNAP? It is uncooked pizza so you can use your SNAP benefits for it. They also sell a large cheese, sausage, or pepperoni pizza for $5. The price per serving is very SNAP budget friendly. Jeremiah and I are considering doing this and pairing it with a salad. (In the words of one of my eight year old volunteers, everybody deserves fun food sometimes.)

Even if you don’t participate in the SNAP Challenge, I hope you learn something new that will save you money.



I Can’t Sleep

HJ Pancake

Creative Common Flickr photo by: rob_rob2001

It’s 5AM and I can’t sleep. I woke up worrying about how Jeremiah and I are going to eat on the Harvesters’ SNAP Challenge budget for the next week.

Our original plan sounded great. After dinner last night, we started working the numbers. Our original estimate was $93. Yikes! After taxes, we have about $41 to spend on food. It may sound like a lot – but I promise you it isn’t. We decided to go to Sprouts & HyVee and spent over two hours getting actual prices. Sadly, that was about $60. Then, we stayed up until 10:30 (way past our bed time) trying to figure this out. We made tough decisions like to buy the full sodium chicken stock to save $.38 per can. This was really tough for me since I am trying to watch my sodium intake for blood pressure reasons. We cut out meat. We cut cheese. And before going to bed, we cut our $3.99 Hy-Vee brand K-cups.

Day 2 – Back to the drawing board. We have two days to try to figure this out.

Breakfast was one of my biggest concerns. I work out in the mornings and burn 300 calories before breakfast. Plus, Jeremiah needs to eat something with his medicine. Our original plan was to make Harvesters’ Breakfast Burritos. My breakfast epiphany this morning was to buy the $1.25 Hungry Jack pancake mix and syrup (on sale at HyVee) for the week. (Bonus note – you earn $0.01 per item in Fuel Saver Rewards.) You only have to add water to the Hungry Jack mix to make pancakes. Water is free – not really but at least as far as our SNAP budget goes. We can each eat three pancakes every morning and will still have mix left. That means our price per serving is less than $0.09 per pancake (with butter and syrup). Take that SNAP budget! I couldn’t make basic French toast,  Oatmeal Cottage Cheese Banana Pancakes, Cinnamon Applesauce Pancakes, or the Whole Wheat Pancakes for less than that price per pancake.