How to Substitute Applesauce for Oil in Baking

how to substitute applesauce for oil

Substituting applesauce for oil is one of my favorite healthy baking tips. Applesauce is inexpensive to buy, easy to make, and healthier for you than oil. You can substitute applesauce for oil in cookies, muffins, cakes, brownies, basically any baked good.

Substituting applesauce for oil is very simple. The ratio is one to one (applesauce to oil) however most of the cookbooks I’ve read say that you shouldn’t use more than 1/4 a cup of applesauce as a substitute for oil. Using more can change the chemistry of a recipe and it could flop.

To keep that from happening, my suggestion is to start with 1/4 a cup and increase it incrementally if the recipe calls for more oil. For example, if a recipe calls for 1/2 a cup of oil, then the first time I make the recipe I will use 1/4 cup applesauce and 1/4 cup of oil. If the recipe is a success and I don’t notice a big difference in taste or texture, I’ll increase the applesauce by 1/8 a cup the next time I make it. If it works again I’ll substitute applesauce for the the entire amount of oil.

For some recipes, you can substitute the entire amount and for some only half the amount and it still results in a delicious outcome.  Either way, using applesauce instead of the entire amount of oil called for in a recipe will save on calories and fat without altering the taste.  An easy (and inexpensive) healthy baking tip!

baking pro tip

When making muffins use a cookie scoop to scoop muffins into the muffin tins. This will ensure that all your muffin tins are filled evenly and you have less mess on the outside of the tin to clean up when you are done!

Here are a few of our favorite muffin recipes that I personally substitute applesauce for oil:

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Muffins

(substitute 1/4 cup canola oil with 1/4 cup applesauce)

brown sugar cinnamon muffins

Simple Banana Muffins 

(substitute 1/4 cup oil with 1/4 cup applesauce)

Mocha Banana Muffins

(replace 1/2 cup canola oil with 1/2 cup applesauce)

mocha banana muffins

What is your favorite healthy substitute in recipes?

See more recipe ideas here.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

How to Freezer Cook with a Friend

A few months ago one of my friends asked if I wanted to do a freezer cooking day. Years ago, freezer cooking was the only way I could manage to get dinner on the table.

Once my kids were older and I didn’t have toddlers melting down at dinnertime I stopped freezer cooking. However, after way too many meals of frozen pizza or spaghetti, I realized that even though my kids were older, our nights were even busier than ever and meals in the freezer could be the perfect solution.

How did I make 54 meals for less than $10 a meal in less than a day? I partnered with a friend and saved time and money! Here's how you can do it too.

One thing I never liked about freezer cooking was that it took the entire day and I was always exhausted and didn’t want to look at a single foil casserole pan for the rest of my life. When my friend suggested doing it together, it seemed like a great idea.

Now, after having done it I don’t think I’ll ever freezer cook alone again. It was less work, more fun, and I ended up with 2x the meals.

In this post I’m sharing what worked for us. Feel free to try it our way, or modify it to fit your own schedule, budget, and personal taste.

Step 1: Create a recipe list

My friend and I decided to each pick ten recipes that we knew would freeze well. Before we went scouring the internet for recipes we shared food preferences and allergies. I highly recommend finding a friend who has roughly the same budget, preferences, family size and dietary restrictions that you do.

After chatting we decided that we wanted healthier meals with meat and we didn’t have any dietary restrictions or allergies. We each would come up with ten recipes and then “approve” them and go from there.

Our 20 Meals

Step 2: Create a Shopping List

We each took the ingredients from our ten recipes and made a shopping list. We then combined the two lists. This is a little tricky. We decided that we would purchase as much in bulk as possible and split the costs down the middle. There were a few things we already had on hand (flour, sugar, spices) and we would divide those up and share them. Then there were some items that we would each buy separately, like condiments.  Meat, cheese, breads and produce were the main ingredients we purchased in bulk.

If you would like to follow these recipes you can download the shopping list here. If you want to make all 54 meals you will need to double everything on the list. 

Step 3: Shop

Armed with our four page shopping list we went to Sam’s first and then Publix to purchase everything we couldn’t or didn’t need to buy in bulk at Sam’s. We did our shopping the night before so we didn’t have to store the food for very long. Any item that didn’t need to be refrigerated we kept in the car for the next day. (We were cooking in a different location) It took us about two hours to complete the shopping.

How did I make 54 meals for less than $10 a meal in less than a day? I partnered with a friend and saved time and money! Here's how you can do it too.

Be prepared to get weird stares when you are shopping with a friend and have a shopping cart full of meat. We were asked if we were on a scavenger hunt (huh?) and someone else commented that we took our shopping very seriously. 🙂

Step 4: Plan

Before you get started cooking, look over all your recipes and directions so you can create a cooking plan for the day. One mistake we made was making most of the easy meals first. We accidentally saved the chicken cordon bleu, jambalaya, stuffed shells, and lasagna roll ups and those were the most time consuming recipes on the list.

If we use this same list again I would start with some of the more difficult meals to assemble first so that towards the end of the day we have easier items to make when we’re tired of cooking.

How did I make 54 meals for less than $10 a meal in less than a day? I partnered with a friend and saved time and money! Here's how you can do it too.

Also, some of the meals require the ground beef or chicken to be cooked before freezing. As soon as we began we started cooking chicken in the crock pot so it would be ready to shred by the middle of the day. Next time I would probably cook the chicken the night before so that we weren’t waiting on chicken to cook. We also cooked all of the ground beef first thing in the morning and stored it fridge until we needed it.

We chopped almost all of the vegetables right away so that it would be quicker to assemble the meals.

Basically we did all the prep work first thing so that assembling the meals was quick and easy.

Planing this out before you get started will help things go faster and smoother.

Step 5: Cook

We were fortunate to have a large kitchen to use for our cooking day, but if you are cooking in your home, make sure your counters are completely clear, your sink is free of dirty dishes, and no one is planning on using the kitchen that day.

We started with the easy meals (meat, marinade, veggies in a bag) so we could get some recipes crossed off our list early on in the day. We started at about 9:30am and by noon we had made ten of the recipes (which was about 23 meals).

For lunch, we took a break and went to Chick-Fil-A. If that isn’t in the budget, I would recommend having something that is ready-to-eat for a quick lunch. We liked the break and it allowed us to regroup for the afternoon.

How did I make 54 meals for less than $10 a meal in less than a day? I partnered with a friend and saved time and money! Here's how you can do it too.

We stored the finished recipes in the fridge and didn’t freeze anything until we got home.

After lunch we made the other ten recipes, cleaned up, loaded up our meals and headed home. We were both home by about 5pm.

What I learned from my freezer cooking day.

Making the recipe and grocery list was VERY time consuming. I’m only exaggerating slightly when I say that I spent as much time looking for recipes and organizing our list as we did cooking. I wanted to come up with some new recipes (because my kids are tired of the same old, same old) so I started on Pinterest, did some google searches, and used a few recipes from Freezeasy.

I wanted to make sure every recipe we used was freezer friendly because people often talk about how they have tried freezer cooking in the past but the food didn’t taste good. I believe it’s because the food is improperly frozen or the ingredients in the recipe weren’t freezer friendly.

Getting all the ingredients into one list was also a chore, but I figure if we work from these recipes again it was worth the extra work because we already have a list and if we didn’t like a recipe it is easy to make minor modifications.

There are some freezer cooking services out there that give you recipes, shopping lists, and prep directions, which I think is worth paying for after doing it myself.

Print out your recipes before you get started. I thought we could work from our computers, but it was hard to scroll with dirty hands, you couldn’t really cross anything off, plus it was difficult for two people to work from one digital list. We ended up printing out our recipes halfway through the day to make it easier to work.

Get help. My friend and I have both have twelve year-old daughters who love to spend time together and love to cook. They were a huge help to us, they assembled a few recipes, did most of the vegetable chopping, shredded the chicken, and washed dishes.

Don’t leave the hardest recipes until the end. I mentioned this earlier, but at 4pm when I was covered in ricotta cheese and ground beef and my friend was trying not to barf as she dredged the chicken cordon bleu, we realized that these recipes would have been much easier to make seven hours earlier.

How did I make 54 meals for less than $10 a meal in less than a day? I partnered with a friend and saved time and money! Here's how you can do it too.

Bring laundry baskets if you aren’t cooking at home. Square or rectangular laundry baskets are great for transporting your freezer meals once you are finished. We used them to transport the ingredients to the kitchen and then transport the meals home.

Use, buy, or borrow an electric can opener. I believe we opened about twenty cans of beans, Rotel and corn for our freezer cooking session. Two cans into the chore, I found an electric can opener and it was a life saver.

Do the dishes as you go. For the first two hours we had someone on dish duty most of the time. I don’t have enough pots, pans, bowls, and spoons to make this many meals at once, so having a continuous supply of clean dishes is very helpful. We switched off dish duty so no one got stuck doing dishes all day.

Cool the food before freezing. After we prepped a meal it would go in the fridge. Everything was totally cooled down before it was frozen. This keeps condensation from forming on the inside of the container and making the food taste soggy or freezer burned.

Use heavy duty foil and freezer bags. Don’t skimp on the foil or the bags. Use bags designed for the freezer. You’ll have less chance of leaks and of the food getting frosty in the freezer.

We had more food than we expected. Some of the recipes actually made two meals, and other recipes, when doubled, actually made three meals. When we were finished prepping all the meals we divided them up (23 meals / 23 meals). Then we looked at the leftover eight meals and picked what we thought our family would like best.

It is WAY more fun with a friend. There were only fleeting moments when this felt like work because we were able to talk and laugh as we went along. If you can find a friend who is willing to cook like crazy for a day I highly recommend pairing up and splitting the work.

Not only will you end up with double the meals in half the time, you can switch off jobs throughout the day so it doesn’t get overwhelming.

To sum it up…

I ended up spending approximately $250 for the ingredients and came home with 27 meals. So I averaged a little under $10 a meal for six to seven people. (I will not have leftovers from most of these meals, which is fine because my family doesn’t seem to want to eat them anyway).

We spent a total of eight hours working, however over an hour was spent at lunch and we spent about thirty minutes cleaning up at the end. In total, we spent about six and a half hours prepping our meals. We did spend two hours the night before shopping so in total we spent about eight and a half hours on 27 meals.

Almost all of the recipes involve no prep to serve. They can either be baked in the container they were frozen in, or thawed and dumped in the crock pot.

I would absolutely do it again. It was so much fun to cook with my friend and my family has been enjoying delicious, homemade meals for the past week. We are keeping track of what meals were a hit and what meals missed the mark, so far we are 5/5 in our family approval rating.

If you are unsure about taking on an eight hour freezer cooking project start with ten meals. We had thirteen meals (each) finished in about two and a half hours. If you aren’t up for taking on such a big job, use a service such as FreezEasy to get recipes, shopping lists, and prep directions all in one place. You will still save a ton of money and have great meals for your family for a few weeks with only a few hours of work.

I would encourage you to try freezer cooking with a friend at least once. If you don’t love it, you’ll at least have some delicious dinners for your family. You have nothing to lose!


This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

10 Must-Have Items for Freezer Cooking Success

Freezer cooking is one of the best ways to save time and money on your grocery bill. You'll want to stock your kitchen with these 10 must-have items for freezer cooking success.

Do you fix freezer meals for your family? Freezer cooking is one of the best ways to save both time and money on your grocery bill each month. It keeps you from eating out less, it saves you from making too many impulse purchases, and it helps you to feed your family nutritious meals without stressing about what you’re having for dinner.

If you’re new to freezer cooking, you might be wondering what you need to do to get started. Take a deep breath, because learning the basics of freezer cooking really isn’t as hard as it may seem. The first thing you’ll need to do is stock your kitchen with these 10 must-have items for freezer cooking success.

1. Freezer Cooking Planner

Freezer cooking is a huge undertaking, and if you jump right in without a plan, you’re very likely going to end up with wasted food. With so many free printable freezer cooking planners available on the web, you can jump in with a well thought out plan. Planning right means that you’ll be successful in your freezer cooking attempts from the very first time.

2. Freezer Cooking Recipes

Contrary to popular belief, not every recipe is able to be frozen. Make sure that when you pick the recipes you’ll be making for dinner that you are paying attention. For some, you’ll be able to freeze the entire thing after cooking. For others, you may need to add ingredients to a bag and freeze those together with cooking instructions only.

6 Easy Freezer Meals

We have a few freezer cooking recipes and resources here:

3. Slow Cooker

If you don’t already have a slow cooker, pick one up before you begin freezer cooking. Having at least one slow cooker makes cooking meat and other ingredients in bulk a snap.

4. Ziploc Bags

Freezer meals that contain pasta and other firm ingredients freeze incredibly well in freezer bags. You’ll want to pick up a few boxes in both the quart and gallon sizes so that you are able to freeze smaller and larger portions.

Freezer cooking is one of the best ways to save time and money on your grocery bill. You'll want to stock your kitchen with these 10 must-have items for freezer cooking success.

5. Hands-Free Freezer Bag Holders

They might look funny, but these freezer bag holders will make your freezer cooking journey so much easier. They stand up and hold your freezer bags open and upright so that there is no fighting to keep them open.

6. Foil Baking Pans with Lids

When you’re baking casseroles, you won’t want to put your glass or metal baking dishes in the freezer. Instead, buy foil baking pans with lids so that you aren’t risking glass cracking or metal rusting. You can write re-heating instructions on the lid. If you’re worried about the cost, the baking pans are sturdy enough to be washed out at least once, if you’re careful. The lids can’t be re-used but a simple piece of foil will work as a great replacement.

7. Sharpie

Regular ink pens won’t work on most freezer bags or foil pans. Instead, you’ll need a Sharpie to write directions. Stick with a darker color like red, blue, or black to make sure that your writing can be easily read.

8. Freezer Labels

If you don’t want to write directly on bags or pans, freezer labels are a great option. You can buy them in packs of 100, and yes, a regular pen should work for them.

9. Food-Safe Freezer Containers

Freezer bags work great for firmer foods, but for things like soups you may want something firmer with a lid. Food-safe freezer containers are a great option, and since they’re made of firm plastic, they can be reused over and over again.

10. Chest Freezer

Okay, this one isn’t a must-have, but it will make freezer cooking easier for you. Most refrigerators have small freezers which means that you’re only going to be able to get a small amount of freezer meals stored. If you have a small chest freezer or small upright freezer, you’ll be able to store significantly more. If the cost of buying one new puts you off, check your local buy, sell, and trade Facebook groups or Craigslist. You can find used freezers significantly cheaper used than new ones.

FreezEasy Freezer Meal Plan


If you need some help getting started with freezer cooking, FreezEasy is a great way to go. It will teach and equip you with a key strategy and set of tools and resources that will help you get organized and finally feel like you can get a delicious, wholesome dinner on the table without losing your mind!

The FreezEasy Freezer Cooking Meal Plans are printable downloads that contain recipes, shopping lists, assembly notes, assembly instructions – both loading “by recipe” and “by ingredient” – an assembly video, and printable labels for your bags and trays. The downloads are delivered immediately to your inbox after you purchase them.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

5 Simple Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Vegetables

Wouldn’t it be awesome if your kids requested veggies as much as they did pizza and pop tarts? When my kids were little I was tired of meal time battles (and chicken nuggets) so I made it my mission to get my kids to eat healthier.

Wouldn't it be awesome if your kids requested veggies as much as they did pizza and pop tarts? When my kids were little I was tired of meal time battles (and chicken nuggets) so I made it my mission to get my kids to eat healthier.

But I didn’t want my kids to make better food choices because I forced them to, I wanted them to actually like the fruits and vegetables I served at mealtime so that when they were older (and not eating every meal with me) they would continue to make smart, healthy choices.

Here’s how I expanded my children’s palate and encouraged them to eat more vegetables.

Limit sweets and processed foods when they are young.

Most children (and I know there are exceptions) will prefer a cookie over cauliflower. You can still give your children choices, but give them two healthy choices instead. I am always amazed at the two year olds who will eat anything from salad to okra, but it is usually because they have been introduced to a large variety of vegetables and fruits as babies.

Involve your children in the kitchen.

My children are always more likely to eat something they made no matter what it is. Kids like to take ownership of things and the kitchen is a great place to start. If they are old enough, they can be involved in the menu planning process, from choosing what’s for dinner, to preparing it. Younger children can help by washing fruits and vegetables, cutting softer vegetables with a butter knife, and arranging them on a plate.

Don’t be afraid of ranch dressing and cheese.

For a long time I didn’t like my kids to dip their veggies in ranch or melt cheese on their potatoes, but then I realized that if it was helping them to eat more vegetables what was the harm? You can make your own (healthier) version of ranch dressing and kids need the protein in cheese so this can be a great way to help get kids to try new vegetables.

Pay your kids to eat vegetables.

I realize this is a bit unconventional, but I tried it a few years ago when all my kids went through an exceptionally picky stage. It worked. I made a chart, had a list of vegetables I wanted them to eat, and paid them a quarter each time they ate a small helping. Little kids (especially those who think a quarter is a lot of money) are very excited to earn money by eating. What happened when I tried this was that many of my children realized that they actually liked certain vegetables that they had been unwilling to try in the past.

Sneak them into their food.

This is my least favorite option, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Smoothies are my favorite way to add extra vegetables to my kids’ diet, but you can also incorporate cooked and pureed vegetables to soups, sauces, and even pizza crust!

If you still need help, check out my ebook The Happy Housewife’s Guide to Dealing with Picky Eaters, it’s only $1.49 on Amazon.

Next week 5 Simple Ways to be On Time with Kids.

href=””>5 simple ways to get your kids to eat vegetables FB


This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.