Frugal living


Recipe: Soft and Easy Gluten Free Bread

If you’re gluten free, you know the bread you buy in the stores tends to be hard, tasteless, overpriced and basically awful.  The good news is that you can easily bake gluten free bread that is soft, tasty and easy — and it’s much healthier than the stuff you buy in stores! Here’s one of my basic go-to bread recipes.  […]

soft and easy gluten free bread

why you should avoid conventional grocery stores

FYFO-100 Tip: Why You Should Mostly Skip the Conventional Grocery Stores

Here’s an easy way to lower your grocery costs.  At the start of each week (or whenever your local stores change their sales), check out the sales flyers for any grocery stores near you.  Only check for grocery items that you either use regularly or would use if they were cheap enough.  Make a list for each store in a […]


How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

Sure, you can go buy those orange cans of pumpkin puree at the grocery store, but making your own is so much more satisfying! It’s also much easier than you might think.  Best of all, this time of year it’s incredibly cheap, even if you didn’t grow your own pumpkins.  My kitchen table is currently covered in pie pumpkins that […]

How to make pumpkin puree

Fabulous free permaculture book teaches DIY urban rainwater harvesting

Fabulous Free Permaculture Book Teaches DIY Urban Rainwater Harvesting

Here’s a wonderful free booklet to help you use permaculture principles to harvest rainwater and put it to use in your yard and gardens.     The wonderfully-illustrated 8-page primer was created by by Joe Linton (of LA Creek Freak) to accompany a workshop he did in 2008.   The guide draws heavily from Brad Landcaster’s books Rainwater Harvesting for […]


Recipe: Acorn Maple Ice Cream (Paleo & Vegan)

I thought I’d share another acorn recipe from my upcoming acorn book, in case anybody else has a stash of newly foraged acorns waiting to be put to good use.  This is an ice cream recipe I developed, and like the acorn drop biscuit recipe it is also vegan.  There is a traditional acorn ice cream recipe in the book, […]

Acorn Ice Cream (paleo and vegan)

Acorn drop biscuits

Acorn Drop Biscuits

It’s acorn season, and anybody who follows my Instagram knows that our family has been foraging, processing and cooking with acorns all month.  Acorn processing #fallforaging #forageandharvest #wildedibles #foraging #foragingfamily #septemberforaging #fallflavors #acorns A post shared by Alicia Bayer (@magicandmayhem) on Sep 4, 2017 at 11:04am PDT I made up a batch of acorn drop biscuits last night and they […]


It’s Acorn Season! 2

Our family has been busy lately with one of our favorite wild edible foods of fall — acorns. Acorn processing #fallforaging #forageandharvest #wildedibles #foraging #foragingfamily #septemberforaging #fallflavors #acorns A post shared by Alicia Bayer (@magicandmayhem) on Sep 4, 2017 at 11:04am PDT Yes, you can eat them, and they are absolutely delicious.  They’re also nutritious and versatile.  You can use […]

It's acorn season!

It’s Elderberry Season! 2

Daryl and I have been faithfully checking our elder patches for the past few weeks and he brought home a bag of our first elderberry bounty for the year this week. This particular clump of elders is bordering a nursing home that has given us permission to pick their pears and elderberries.  He harvested them in the dark, bless his […]


Is Azure Standard’s Organic Fruits and Veggies Box Worth the Cost?

If you don’t have access to affordable organic suppliers like Bountiful Baskets or a good local CSA, Azure Standard is one option to get a monthly box of assorted organic fruits and vegetables.  The box costs $33 (as of August 2017), plus a small delivery fee (generally about $10 for my order of about $120 worth of items, so under […]

Azure Standard's Organic Fruits and Veggies Box

25 Garden crops to plant in August for your fall garden

25 Herbs and Veggies to Plant in August for Your Fall Garden

If you want to extend your back yard bounty of fresh veggies, now is the time to start your fall garden.   There are many garden crops that can handle some frost and some that can tolerate temperatures well below freezing. Root veggies such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi and turnips actually taste better after some frost, as do leafy greens […]


The Top 10 #FYFO-100 Strategies for Eating Organic for Less

I’ll mostly be focusing on 10 main ways to save money on healthy and organic foods in the FYFO-100 series (Feed Your Family Organic for $100 (or less!)). Everybody has different circumstances, so different strategies will be better for different families. You do not need to do all or even most of these to save money, but the more you […]

#fyfo100 checklist of 10 ways to afford organic foods

FYFO 100 Feed Your Family Organic for $100 (or less!)

FYFO- 100: Feed Your Family Organic for $100 a Week (or less!) 2

Yes, you can feed your family healthy, organic, non-GMO food and not go bankrupt doing it! Welcome to FYFO-100, where I’ll share how we feed our family of 7 for around $100 a week. Every few days, I’ll share more tips for how we make it work. You can go all-in and learn skills like foraging or canning, or you […]


Now in Paperback!

  My elderberry book is now available in a paperback edition!  We heard from many people who wanted a physical copy of the book, especially to make use of it while foraging and for the cookbook section.  I worked over the past couple of months to create the best possible paperback version, with black and white photos and illustrations throughout […]

Elderberries: The Beginner's Guide to Foraging, Preserving and Using Elderberries for Health Remedies, Recipes, Drinks and More

Seven Plants That Naturally Remove Lead from Your Soil, Ponds and Wetlands

Seven Plants, Weeds and Flowers That Naturally Remove Lead from Your Property

If you have soil that’s been contaminated by lead, you know that it’s probably not safe for vegetable gardening and it can also be a hazard to children and pets who play on your property. Lead can be a serious problem in gardens, ponds and wetlands, in addition to posing health risks for growing kids.   Lead contamination is a […]


How to Make Your Own DIY Natural Sunscreen

It’s starting to get to sunburn season! Wearing hats and staying in the shade isn’t really cutting it the way it does the rest of the year, especially if you spend a day at the beach or out in the hot sun. With that said, there are some pretty scary ingredients in even “natural” sunscreens. One alternative is to make […]

DIY natural sunscreen

How to make elderflower syrup (or elderflower sparkling wine)!

How to Make Elderflower Soda (or Elderflower Sparkling Wine) 2

Have you heard of elderflower soda?  This is a traditional elderflower delicacy that is so popular in Romania that it inspired Coca-Cola to release their own version, Fanta Shokata (though theirs contains no real elderflowers). It is also known as Socată or Suc de Soc. Here’s the recipe to make your own, which is another from my book, Elderberries: The […]


How to Use Banana Peels for Fertilizer, Dried Mulch and More

Banana peels are some of the best food sources you can give your houseplants and your garden. Yes, you can just toss them in the compost pile, but you can put them to even better use in other ways.   Banana peels are full of nutrients that plants need. The Micro Gardener says these include: Potassium – helps promote general […]

All kinds of brilliant ways to use banana peels for your houseplants and gardens

20 Vegetable, herb and edible flower seeds you can still plant in June

20 Vegetable, Herb and Edible Flower Seeds You Can Still Plant in June

Think June is too late to start seeds in your garden this year? No way! There are still lots of veggies you can direct seed in your garden.   Indeed, many garden plants grow much more happily in June when the soil has warmed up. Some bean varieties mature in as little as 35 days, and herbs like cilantro can […]


10 Natural and Organic Ways to Defeat Grasshoppers

The recent hot, dry weather has brought a small plague of grasshoppers to my garden for the first time in years, and I’ve been working hard to defeat them.     We garden organically and I didn’t want to douse our family’s food sources with pesticides and poisons. Also, they’re just not terribly effective. Timing is important in their life […]

Natural Ways to Defeat Grasshoppers

Quick and easy gluten-free buns (vegan)

Quick and Easy Gluten Free Buns (Vegan)

Store-bought gluten free buns are expensive and generally taste something like dish sponges.  The good news is you can easily make your own.  This recipe is my go-to recipe for quick gluten-free buns.  It’s also egg-free, dairy-free and soy-free (and vegan!), so it’s great for folks with multiple allergies.  I tend to make these at the last minute and they […]


How to Find Wild Asparagus

Few wild edibles are as satisfying to forage as wild asparagus. It’s tasty, prolific, nutritious, and you can gather a huge bounty of it in just the few weeks of its season. Indeed, it grows so fast (many inches per day) that you can sometimes visit the same foraging spots twice a day and still keep harvesting new spears.   […]

How to find wild asparagus

What to forage in May

31 Wonderful Wild Edible Foods to Forage in May

There are so many fantastic wild edibles to forage in May! Many of the best wild foods can only be found this time of year, such as wild asparagus and morels.  Greens are still mild and delicious, and more and more favorites are starting to show themselves. Here are 31 wild edible foods to look for in May, along with […]


What to Forage in April

April is a fantastic time to forage for wild edible foods. The weather is generally beautiful, and it’s great to get back out in the outdoors after a long winter. Greens like dandelions and nettles are tender, mild and at their peak for cooking, teas, salads and medicinal uses. Many of the best wild edibles can only be found this […]


Quick Mix-and Match Glazed Mini Donuts (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

Our 9 year-old, Alex, asked last night if we could make mini donuts together for breakfast for everybody today.  I said yes, and dug out this recipe that I came up with a few years ago.  This is a really easy but delicious recipe that also includes lots of fruit and/or veggies, since each batch contains a cup of whichever […]


Foraging, 9/14/16, part 2

  1) The Windom hospital cut down its apple trees! I’m really sad, those were wonderful Red Baron apples. I mean, I still have too many to pick and process, but I liked those apples.   2) They *do* still have pear trees, though. Two different kinds – the larger ones (almost all gone) have a very thick, leathery skin […]


Roasted Tomato Sauce (Simple and Delicious!)

Nothing smells better on a fall day than roasted tomato sauce. With back yards and farmers’ markets brimming with fresh tomatoes right now, this is the perfect time to make up a batch.  Once you try, you’ll never want make tomato sauce any other way! If you’ve never made roasted tomato sauce, you don’t know what you’re missing. This pasta […]


25 Garden crops to plant in August for your fall garden

If you want to extend your back yard bounty of fresh veggies, now is the time to start your fall garden. There are many garden crops that can handle some frost and some that can tolerate temperatures well below freezing. Root veggies such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi and turnips actually taste better after some frost, as do leafy greens like […]


Roots to Stems: How to use every part of your produce!

Root to Stem Cooking: How to Use Every Part of Your Produce

  When you stroll through the farmers’ market or pick up your CSA box, you’re likely to find something that you won’t find in area supermarkets — whole plants.   Local growers tend to leave the leaves on root vegetables like beets and carrots, keep the flowery fronds on the fennel and otherwise give you a lot of extras with […]


30 Ways to use mint

Mint is one of those workhorses of the garden. Once you plant it, your hardest job is keeping it from overtaking everything else in the yard and figuring out what to do with it all. It grows easily in most of the country and robustly returns to zone 4 Minnesota gardens every spring, where it grows happily until fall frosts. […]

30 Ways to use mint

Tree Craft offers easy projects from tree trimmings and found wood

I have a new favorite craft book. I just got Tree Craft in the mail yesterday and already I’ve read it cover to cover and am planning projects to do with my kids. Tree Craft, by Chris Lubkemann, offers “35 rustic wood projects that bring the outdoors in.” From salt and pepper shakers to coat racks to a giant checkerboard […]


40 Fruits, vegetables and herbs that will grow in partial shade 1

We all know that most garden crops want as much sun as possible. Tomatoes, melons and peppers will positively pout if they don’t get oodles of light. What you may not realize is that many other garden crops will do quite well with limited sunlight. Which plants will put up with lower light levels? A general rule is that plants […]

All kinds of great articles about organic gardenings that will grow in partial shade

16 Ridiculously easy seeds to plant in your first garden

If you’re new to flower and vegetable gardening, it can seem overwhelming. There are so many varieties of flowers, herbs and vegetables to plant. Some need to be started indoors six to eight weeks (or longer) before transplanting into the garden. Some need very long growing seasons or special conditions. Some seeds need to be notched, cold stratified, or soaked […]


Best-ever gluten-free sandwich bread

When our family had to go gluten free, all of our kids really missed bread. Our daughter Rhiannon was twelve years old at the time and she took it upon herself to start baking gluten free breads for the family. This recipe was a winner that we have been making ever since. This bread is dairy free and soy free […]

Best-ever gluten-free sandwich bread

Seven benefits of backyard chickens

Seven benefits of backyard chickens

Citizens in cities around the country have been battling over backyard chickens in recent years.  Many residents have been up in arms at the idea of allowing their neighbors to own chickens, suggesting that the neighborhood will turn noisy, unsanitary and out of control. In truth, backyard chickens have many benefits.  Here are just a few. 1.  They provide better […]


12 Great sources of natural mulch for your vegetable gardens

Do you mulch your vegetable gardens? If you don’t, you should. The right mulch helps retain moisture, prevents weeds from getting a foothold and even enriches the soil as it breaks down. Here are 12 great sources of natural mulch (many of them free!)… Bagged leaves (except from the black walnut tree due to the presence of juglone, a chemical […]

12 Great sources of natural mulch for your vegetable gardens

Free printable nutrient deficiency charts for your garden plants

Free printable nutrient deficiency charts for your garden plants 1

Here’s a wonderful free resource to help you identify nutritional deficiencies in your garden plants. The University of Arizona cooperative extension office has developed a free color guide illustrating how deficiencies of micronutrients typically look on leaves, along with a handy chart to help pinpoint the problems and solve them. The 8×10 color poster shows common characteristics of leaves on […]


25 Fantastic foraging groups and pages on Facebook

Has your family tried foraging yet? Foraging for wild edibles is a great way to get healthy, pesticide-free, tasty food for free, plus try wonderful new tastes and get out in nature. There are many great books out there to give you basic information about foraging and I recommend you check out a pile of them from the library since […]

25 Fantastic foraging groups and pages on Facebook

How to tap black walnut trees for syrup

How to tap black walnut trees for syrup 1

                            Did you know that black walnut trees can be tapped in late winter to produce a syrup similar to maple syrup? If you have access to black walnut trees, this is a great way to put them to use. Black walnut trees are unique in that […]


Setting up a green kitchen on a budget

                                      So you’ve decided you want to start cooking and eating more naturally, but you don’t have the money to invest in $500 blenders and fancy bakeware. The good news is that it doesn’t take a huge budget to make a huge […]


Free book teaches how to build a cob house

Cob houses are becoming more and more popular again, thanks to how amazingly inexpensive they are to build and the fact that just about anybody can build them. Becky Bee’s landmark book on the subject, the Cob Builder’s Handbook, is available for free online to help teach people how to do it. Despite the unusual sounding name, cob houses are […]


How to make acorn flour

Late summer and early autumn are acorn harvesting time in Minnesota and much of the country.  If you’ve never tried making your own acorn flour from this plentiful, free, nutritious food source, you’re in for a treat!  It’s a lot of effort, but the results are delicious. Acorns were a large part of many Native American tribes’ diets and have […]


How to tell the difference between ramps and lily-of-the-valley 1

New foragers sometimes worry about telling the difference between highly sought-after ramps (wild leeks) and their poisonous look-alikes, Lily-of-the-valley. It’s always wise to be leery when you’re new to foraging, but once you know what to look for you don’t need to worry. There are quite a few ways to accurately tell the difference between the two plants. Ramps (ramsons […]


How to forage and cook with spruce tips (with video for spruce tip jelly)

Spruce tips are wonderful spring edibles that are not only tasty and unique, but also great for us. They are rich in Vitamin C and have been used traditionally for years to soothe coughs and sore throats, as well as to alleviate lung congestion and to treat lung and kidney infections. Best of all, they’re abundantly available this time of […]


How to cook with ramps

It’s ramp season, and whether you buy them at the farmer’s market or forage them yourself in the wild, this is the time to take advantage of this delicious (but short lived) delicacy. What are ramps? The Huffington Post says: Here’s the short answer: ramps are a wild onion that grow during the spring in Eastern Canada and the U.S. […]


30 Wild foods to forage in April

April is a fantastic time to forage for wild edible foods. The weather is generally beautiful, and it’s great to get back out in the outdoors after a long winter. Greens like dandelions and nettles are tender, mild and at their peak for cooking, teas, salads and medicinal uses. Many of the best wild edibles can only be found this […]

30 Wild foods to forage in April

How to cook pheasant’s back or dryad’s saddle mushrooms 3

Pheasant’s back mushrooms can be incredibly easy to find this time of year and incredibly tasty — but you have to know which ones to use and how to prepare them right. Many foragers are told not to bother with pheasant’s back mushrooms, also known as dryad’s saddles. While it’s undisputed that they are edible (as in non-poisonous), many experienced […]


31 Wild foods to forage in July

July is a fantastic time to forage for wild edible foods. Whether you’re in the country or the city, there are wild foods all over that are tasty and nutritious. This is a good month for wild fruits, such as black raspberries and wild plums. Wild greens are still plentiful, such as purslane and lamb’s quarters (just look for the […]


31 Wild foods to forage in May

There are so many fantastic wild edibles to forage in May. Many of the best wild foods can only be found this time of year, such as wild asparagus and morels. Greens are still mild and delicious, and more and more favorites are starting to show themselves. Here are 31 wild edible foods to look for in May, along with […]


50 Reasons You Should Forage for Wild Foods

If you’re not foraging for wild foods, you’re missing out on opportunities left and right. Foraged foods are spectacular in so many ways, from saving money to exposing you to foods can’t find elsewhere to giving you awesome health benefits, just to name a fraction of the benefits. Foraging helps you, your family, your health and the planet. It’s good […]


What is urban foraging anyway? 2

I consider myself an urban forager, and many people have asked me exactly what I mean by that. To me, urban foraging is more than just walking through the woods (although that’s definitely a part of it). And it’s more than just wandering through town looking at people’s yards and gardens. First, let me say what it is not (at […]