Grocery shopping is one of my favorite things to do. Crazy, right? Well, not so much. I love the challenge of meeting a budget, yet not sacrificing my basic needs and some of my wants. There are many ways I have learned to save money - couponing, manager sale racks, price lists, and NEVER paying full price for anything. When I hit an especially good sale or I help someone who didn't know about a deal, I like to reward myself for a job well done.
One of my favorite rewards is a nice warm, freshly baked cupcake. There is nothing better (okay, cookies and brownies tie for a close second) than the aroma of cupcakes rising in the oven, the sight of batter and sugar everywhere, and finally, the sight of the perfect dessert, right out of the oven.
It's so easy to save on these items too. Betty Crocker regularly has coupons for cake mix and frosting, as does Pillsbury and Duncan Hines. If you are in a hurry, it takes no time at all to run to the baking aisle in Kroger and pick up a box of mix and a tub of frosting. Hand the cashier your coupon, and viola! - instant savings! Pre-made frosting can get expensive though. I try to keep ingredients for frosting stocked in my house so that I can make my own. It's more fun to experiment with flavors and coloring this way too. When I priced out the cost of a single tub of frosting ($1.19 - $2.09 in my local store), I found that I can make my own for about one-fourth of that cost - roughly $0.30 - $0.55 a batch. All it takes are some basic baking ingredients and a little extra time. So why not stock up on these ingredients and some cupcake/brownie/cookie mixes (I alternate making from scratch and using boxes) and make your own instead of buying from the store?
After I make all the cupcakes and the frosting, I use Wilton's baking products and spread my icing on with icing bags and special tips, based on my mood. Somedays I want smooth creamy icing, other days I want stars and flowers. Wilton's had a ton of pans, icing, food coloring, decorating items and more! You can find Wilton's products 30% off this week only at Hobby Lobby. http://www.hobbylobby.com/weekly/coupon.cfm
How do you save while baking?
My favorite frosting recipe is out of my mother's old cookbook, but also available on Betty Crocker's website: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/buttercream-frosting/47ee314b-a783-4bd9-907a-1829a60104aa
4 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of butter, softened
1/2 cup of shortening
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat powdered sugar, butter, and shortening together with an electric mixer. Add milk and vanilla in until smooth and creamy. Add in small amounts of milk if a creamier texture is desired (I use 1% and find that I typically use about 3 1/2 tablespoons). This will frost 2 13x9 cakes.