Monday, January 11, 2010

How to Make Soft Tacos - Easy, Frugal Recipe

Tacos have changed considerably since I first wrote about them. Between home-made salsa, taco seasoning, and homegrown lettuce, I think the only thing that has stayed the same is beef and tortillas. First, make tortillas, mixing:

2 cups whole white wheat flour ($0.32)
3/4 teaspoons salt ($0.03, if that)
1/4 cup shortening ($0.25, softened butter, but you can use whatever)
1/2 cups water ($0)

For a soaked grain tortilla, add 1 tablespoons of whey, yogurt or cider vinegar, mix dough the day before and leave at room temperature until you are ready to cook it.

I divide it by ten, as that is just right for my family, with enough for leftovers for my husband. My kids have disassembled tacos. They like the tortillas with the salsa on them, but everything else they eat separately. So, each ball of dough I roll out flat. The aim is a circle, but it doesn't have to be perfect.

Fry in a dry pan for roughly thirty seconds on each side.

Brown one pound of ground beef ($1.30) with

1 large chopped onion - $0.15
1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped - $0.06
1 teaspoon of garlic -$0.04
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or hot paprika -$0.03

Divide the seasoned beef (or chicken or shredded pork or turkey) onto each tortilla. Sprinkle with 2/3 of an ounce of cheese on each ($0.79), then lettuce, preferably from a window garden ($0.08).

Lacto-fermenting a condiment like salsa is a means of preserving it as well as turning the food into a probiotic. I lacto-ferment my salsa, but if you're not interested in lacto-fermenting, the same recipe can be used to make regular salsa. Just immediately refrigerate instead of letting it ferment on the counter. I put one heaping tablespoon of salsa onto each taco ($0.30), then fold it over.

I didn't know until I finished this post that this recipe is the exact same price as my old taco recipe, but I like these better. They are more from scratch, homegrown, with no mystery ingredients, and they taste amazing.


Anonymous said...

These sound delicious! I have been meaning to try your taco recipe...maybe I will this week. Thanks for the updated recipe.


Penniless Parenting said...

Tacos are delicious! I usually make mine with beans instead of ground meat, because ground meat is expensive in my location.
Have you tried the TWG's tortillas stuffed with taco flavored lentils and bulgur, served with sour cream and salsa? They're my absolute favorite meal and i don't even own the tightwad gazette, just got the recipe from a friend.
I'm putting up the recipe on my blog if you're interested.

Henrietta said...

I'm having trouble interpreting the last picture.

It looks like the right side has the meat, cheese, and lettuce, but what is on the left half of the tortilla? At first I thought it was beans, but I re-read the post and didn't see them listed. Is that an air bubble in the tortila? Or the salsa? I just realized your salsa doesn't have any tomato in it, so maybe that's it (if so, I'd love to see a close-up of the salsa). I'm confused! LOL!

I wanted to compliment you on how much rounder these are than the last time you posted tortillas! I had some pretty funky-shaped ones on my first batch, but they are (mostly) coming out round now. Thanks for inspiring me to give it a try!

Emily said...

Henrietta, it is salsa. It has tomato, but I blend it after chopping, so it comes out with a spread-like consistency.

Bubblej said...

I'm glad you posted this, as I have been meaning to ask, but didn't want to randomly add it to a comments section, would the taco dough be OK if I made it ahead of time and put it in the fridge or freezer until I needed it? Have you done this? I really want to start making my own tortillas, as it will save me $2.50 per meal (premade are expensive!) but I never seem to have the time when I want to eat tacos, but I have random pockets of free time when I could make the dough for later...

Emily said...

Bubblej, I've frozen my tortillas, already made, happily. I've never made the dough ahead of time because it takes just a second to mix up, but I think it would work fine.

Henrietta said...

Oh, I just realized I was reading your beef-seasoning items thinking they were your salsa recipe! I really need some sleep!

I also freeze my tortillas; I was going to experiment with freezing the dough but decided freezing them already cooked made more sense for my family.

crabcakes said...


Since I started following a lower-fat diet (to reduce these tortillas from 3 pts each to 2 pts each for me, I reduced the amount of oil to 1TBS for this recipe and it still worked great. It actually made the tortilla's a little chewier.

So for anyone wanting less fat in their diet, you can do the same. I roll 9 equal sized tortillas from your recipe using only the 1 TBS of oil and each tortilla is 2 weight watchers points.

Thanks for the recipe updates. I enjoy most of your posts, but the food ones I can apply to my own family are my favorite.

(Wanted to add that if you have a whole foods near you they have london broil on sale for 2.99 a pound. I just bought five pounds to grind. Some people don't like it for ground beef but it's a higher quality meat and I think if you used half you'd still get good protein and iron better than preground beef, if you were interested in it)

crabcakes said...


I second PP's post about the lentil bulger mix! My family eats mostly vegetarian and we use the TWG "base" in everything and it really is a great meat-tasting substitute. When we make shepherd's pie with it, we mix vegetable boullion in the base and I swear you almost can't tell it's not meat.

On recommendation is to use it the day after you make it or later. If you use it the same day, it's more mushy. Letting it firm up a bit allows it to crumble more like burger.

My shepherd's pie feeds 8 and costs about 1.50 - 2.00 this way unless I can't find frozen corn on sale...but I usually can.

Betsy said...

I third the recommendation for taco lentils. I do lentils and rice (ala Hillbilly Housewife). They are so good, and my children eat it better than taco meat (go figure). It also has the benefit of cooking in 20 minutes (if you use white rice), which is faster than thawing, then cooking ground beef. :)

Tacos are the go-to meal at our house, too. Easily everyone's favorite.

chickennon said...

Emily, have you tried using to log your recipes? I use it to check my own recipes, just in case my general sense of healthy and unhealthy isn't giving me the whole picture. Assuming the above recipe is five servings, it's 672 calories (about half of them from fat, but you've said before you don't try to eat a low-fat diet), about a third of a day's RDA of vitamin A, half a day's protein, and a quarter of a day's iron. It's not a great source of everything else, but I imagine you eat other meals.

Rachel in florida said...

Wow crabcakes! A meal for $1.50! That is awesome frugality! I am at the $5 threshold for most meals. and I am only feeding three people, but one is a very hungry 16 yr. old boy.

Emily, have you ever made taco soup? It is a great change from tacos for mexican lovers. a friend at church gave me the recipe years ago and I have been making it ever since.

Taco Soup

1 lb. hamburger meat, fried with some chopped onion.
1 can corn
1 can kidney or chili beans
1 can rotel
1 can tomatoes
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 pkg. Hidden Valley ranch mix

You can use your own homemade salsa instead of the rotel, and your own taco seasoning. But it is the hidden valley that gives it its unique taste, so you really can't leave that out. With all the cold weather it would be really good!

crabcakes said...


My cheat in the pie is to use instant potato flakes. (The kind that just reads "deydrated potatos) I bought them in bulk online mainly for thickeners and for refrigerator dough but in a pinch they work great for my pie.

I use 2 cups potato flakes (works out to be about 20 cents), I use one bag of frozen corn (after coupons 30 cents a bag), and I use 2 cups of lentil bulger mix (which I buy in bulk at whole foods) This is less than 1.00. So the entire meal is about 1.50 unless I don't have sale corn. The veggie boullion is negligable for the amount I use. Maybe 10 cents at most. It's a nice well rounded meal and we usually serve it with a salad.

Of note, if I don't have bags of frozen corn, frozen mixed veggies work fine.

Anonymous said...

I will have to post my GF/CF/SF tortilla recipe that I use later. Actually, it's not MINE. Someone else came up with it. But it's excellent. I will let you know when I put the post up. I make my own taco seasoning (if I knew how easy it was, I never would have purchased it premade) as well. Very, very good flavor.

Amber said...

I've got to be honest... that salsa does not look appetizing! And how is lacto-fermenting any different than leaving something out to spoil? I'm not being snarky intentionally, I'm honestly curious!

Emily said...

Amber, The lactic acid in lacto-fermenting acts a preservative against rotting while encouraging the growth of lactobacilli, a good bacteria. Thus, the result is a probiotic, not rotten food. It is the old fashioned way of preserving food, like saurkrout.

Your first comment I found to be much snarkier, and snark only encourages more snark, but this one was fine. Thanks for resubmitting the question, as I did want to answer it.

Amber said...

So do you do anything special to it so that it does not spoil? Or do you literally just leave it out on the counter? Once again, not trying to snark, just trying to wrap my head around this.

Amanda said...

Emily, I am curious why you don't seem to make soup often (ever?) This is not snarky, I promise, just wondering. Soup can be so healthy and filling and is so cheap to make. You could experiment with a Minestrone soup to add more beans to your diet. It would be another thing the kids could snack on throughout the day.

Also, have you thought of making your own soy milk ever for the health benefits? That is something I would love to try doing.

Emily said...

Amber, I add whey, then cover tightly (you don't want airborne bacteria in the mix) then cover tighty. They whey is what promotes the lactic acid in the vegetables. If I don't have whey, extra salt does the same thing.

Amanda, we have soup sometimes during the day, especially in the winter, but I don't make it as our big meal since my husband doesn't find it hearty enough.

Elizabeth said...

I'll have to try your tacos! My mother-in-law makes the best homemade tortias but she frys them in oil and they are just too greasy for me. Yours look much healthier and less time consuming!

My husband is usually the same way about soup but I suggest you try the cabbage soup recipe I posted on my blog. That soup, along with my homemade rolls (which I will be posting the recipe on my blog soon) fills up even my hubby and he loves it! Now that I think about it, I have a wonderful Beef Stew recipe for the crockpot as well that my hubby loves too...I'll have to dig around and post that someday too!

Simple in France said...

Mmm your tacos look good! I love the way you use home made ingredients because in France, you can't find pre-made Mexican food--ok, well, my mother in law found some but it made me really sad to eat it. There were so many mystery ingredients I could not believe it. I used to get locally made tortillas down in San Diego--they were so good. But making your own is a good option. And I'm getting more and more interested about the fermented foods. Do you have a book you recomend on the topic? I read your earlier post, but want more info.

Also, I'm sure you know this, but you can cook down chicken meat in any form to get that traditional shredded chicken for tacos--my personal favorite.

Emily said...

Elizabeth, Your cabbage soup recipe looked good and was one I was thinking of making for the boys and me.

Simple in France, the book Nourishing Traditions has tons of recipes and explains a lot about the reasoning behind it. I highly recommend that book, but you can find a bunch of recipes and info online as well.

Mary Jane said...

Something I'm mildly curious about: do you actually measure out 3/4 an ounce of cheese or is that just your rough estimate for the sake of being able to give a cost for the meal?

It's interesting to see how everyone does it differently though- tacos in my household aren't a particuarly cheap meal. I'd estimate it like this:

Tortillas: $1
1 lb. ground beef: $5
Salsa: $0.75
Cheese: $0.75
Sour cream: $0.75
Avocado: $1.25
Lime: $0.50
Cilantro: $0.50
Misc spices, onion, oil, etc: maybe another $0.50?
Tomato: free from garden, we skip it in the winter

I suppose I could do without the sour cream (and sometimes I'll sub my own homemade yogurt for sour cream), avocado, etc. but no one would be very pleased and there would be lots of grumbling from everyone sitting around the dinner table. That also doesn't include any sides such as some sort of bean (black beans, refried beans, etc) and rice. I guess that's what happens when two foodies marry and produce children who are equally discriminating about their food, LOL.

Anonymous said...

These look good. I've never made my own flour tortillas. I'll have to try it.
I agree that lentils make a GREAT taco filling. We do a lentil/brown rice mix and it is really yummy and so cheap. It doesn't even taste like rice (I know you don't like it). I serve these on homemade corn tortillas (just masa harina and water).

Amber said...

Have you ever considered signing up for that show Wife Swap? I can only imagine that they would pick you up in an instant. You could make some money for your family (it's usually quite a bit!) to fund your homestead, and you would be able to show your frugality to another family that might appreciate it.

Devon said...

OT: Sarah, I'm really interested in your lentil/rice mix...could you post a recipe?

Shannon said...

I agree that lentils make an amazing taco filling and are much more economical than beef! and healthier too.

Devon said...

Well, I just tried to post but my computer freaked out.

Sarah: I'm really interested in the lentil and rice mix--can you post a recipe? I'm looking for ways to introduce lentils to the husband...

Emily said...

Amber, I almost rejected that one. NO.

Anonymous said...

We're taco lovers around here, too. My post yesterday was comparing scratch vs. store bought taco mix.

I've been making the lentil taco recipe from It is delicious and super cheap. My kids eat them disassembled, too. :)

I'm again perplexed by the lack of vegetable side dish! Even Nourishing Traditions recommends vegetables, and the amount in salsa and lettuce doesn't seem like enough. A bag of frozen broccoli or green beans is $2 and has 8 servings; surely that would fit into your menu plan without increasing your costs too much.

I usually serve a Mexican style cole slaw on the side. I've been making it with shredded broccoli stems lately but cabbage works great and is cheap, plus rice wine vinegar, a little oil, and lots of cilantro. Tasty and super cheap!

Hopewell said...

$0.08 for homegrown lettuce? Is that for real?? Why not serve a nice salad or brown rice made Mexican style. Seems like it's not a very filing meal without a little more to it. Maybe you guys just eat very little.

Sukey Day said...


Tacos are a staple around our house. I have not used a taco seasoning packet since 1975. I just use chili powder and cumin or mexican oregano, if they are on hand.
We also like 'enchilada casserole'. Just layer your taco ingredients in the crockpot, we add a cup of beans and sometimes corn, and cook until done. Yum: :) I like to take off the lid the last 1/2 hour or so. Otherwise the casserole is too wet. Fun to experiment.

Nydia said...

This post makes me want to make some homemade tortillas right now. I love tacos, they are one of our most favorite meals around here!

Jen said...

I second the recommendation of Nourishing Traditions for info on lacto fermentation. I've also heard great things about the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. I got it for Christmas, but haven't read it yet. It looks great though.

So far I've successfully made saurkraut, and it's good. Even more amazing... my 2 yo son LOVES it! If there is saurkraut on his plate when I serve his meals, he digs into that first. It's also a great addition to sandwiches.

One of my goals this year is to increase my fermentation efforts, and serve one with every meal.

Clisby said...

Amber: Are you familiar with how sauerkraut is made? Or how kim chee is made? No, it's not just leaving something out to spoil.

Unknown said...

Another vote for lentil/rice taco filling. We absolutely love it at our house. Quick and easy to throw together and very filling. I have a good recipe for it on my blog if you are interested :)


frugalredneck said...

I don't know if emily is like this or not, But I get the feeling she is from what I read. Dinner is not the main meal of the day, and is not left for most nutrients to come from. For years dinner was our main meal, Huge big meals, where I tried to fit everything in, With not great results. I gave that up slowly about 3 years ago. Now dinner is just another meal, None of my meals are the main meal. There is a breakfast, lunch and dinner, But many small snack size meals throughout the day. This has worked so much better for my family in getting them to actually eat. Most of my dinners are just, for instance tacos, nothing else. Even when I make a meat meal, for instance roast, That is intended for many meals, Just enough is put on plates for a small meal size, What is on your plate is enough, to get you through to the next, No one complains, nothing getting shoved to the back of the fridge etc. This just works better for us, And suprisingly everyone that needed it lost weight. My older ones are overweight from the way we used to eat, and all 3 of the little ones are not. I noticed that with my older ones they were always hungry and snacking on junk, My little ones never seem hungry in between and now niether do the rest of us. Is this similiar at all how you do it Emily? I find it so much more calming at dinnertime doing it this way, instead of having to make huge meals to fell like I have to stuff everyone at night. Michelle

Amber said...

Clisby, that's why I asked the question and Emily answered me.

Anyway, we love tacos here, too, but whenever I make them I do NOT make a side. I do make two sides with every other dinner (usually a starch and a veggie), but tacos really don't need a side dish, IMO. Then again, we have them only once every other month or so and not on a regular basis.

Niki Turner said...

I just started doing tortillas, and I'm amazed at how much better they taste. YUMMY!
BTW, I've been lurking for a brief time, don't usually read the comments at all, but I just wanted to let you know I enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and opinions and ideas. Don't let the jerks out there in cyberworld win.

Anonymous said...

Devon--This is the one we love

And shameless plug here lol-- We really like lentils so I'll be posting plenty of recipes on my blog.

chickenon said...

frugalredneck, it's actually good nutritional practice to feed small children lots of small meals, too, especially if your diet is really heavy on whole wheat or other basic grains; their tummies are small, and their nutritional needs are large.

I also love lentils, but it's not an either/or! What about mixing lentils or another friendly bean with the ground beef, to make a high-protein blend that's rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals? I just went back and ran the nutritional data again with a cup of black beans and only 12 oz of ground beef, and the result is a little higher in iron, calcium, zinc, and fiber - though a little lower in overall protein and calories.

Clisby said...

The solution to kids not snacking on junk is not to have junk in the house. Mine (7 and 13) know they can eat as much raw carrots, apples, bananas, cheese, bagels w/cream cheese as they like. There's not much else available for snacking, unless the 7-year-old persuades the 13-year-old to make a pot of rice. (Granted, that doesn't take much persuading - we eat a LOT of rice.)

However, you do have make sure that as your kids get older, you give them enough to eat. My 13-year-old daughter eats way more than I do, and she's quite thin. That's normal - an active 13-year-old girl needs a lot more calories than a not-so-active 56-year-old woman.

Devon said...

Thanks Sarah!

Unknown said...

I guess since I live in CA your salsa doesn't seem very appetizing to me. This is what I consider salsa:

2-3 medium sized fresh tomatoes (from 1 lb to 1 1/2 lb), stems removed, finely diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeƱo chili pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced
1 serano chili pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced
Juice of one lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: oregano and or cumin to taste
1 Start with chopping up 2 medium sized fresh tomatoes. Prepare the chilies. Be very careful while handling these hot peppers. If you can, avoid touching them with your hands. Use a fork to cut up the chilies over a small plate, or use a paper towel to protect your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours. Set aside some of the seeds from the peppers. If the salsa isn't hot enough, you can add a few for heat.
2 Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Taste. If the chilies make the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato. If not hot enough, carefully add a few of the seeds from the chilies, or add some ground cumin.
Let sit for an hour for the flavors to combine.
Makes approximately 3-4 cups.

It's a standard condiment on our table. We love it.

Emily said...

alumbunny, that's similar to my recipe, but I blend mine in the blender.

crabcakes said...

We don't serve sides with our tacos either. That's the meal...tacos. Grain, protein, veggie. Not sure why anyone would think something was missing from that. You don't "need" anything else with tacos. Refried beans are nice once in a while but it's definitely not served every time we have tacos.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I just made your meat and tortilla recipe and it was great!
I did not have anything to make salsa but it was still good without it. I was starving and put extra meat and cheese and mine though so I lost some savings but still no mystery ingredients :D

Thanks for sharing and more more please!

Erin T. said...

Emily, they look delish!!! Ummm. Might make some tortillas today as I'm home with 3 whiny sick kids. I was gonna say, I just remembered my friend April makes chicken salad tostadas. SO GOOD. She fries corn tortillas in a tiny bit (1 tbsp?) Then makes chicken salad (maybe you could roast a chicken in your roaster?) Chicken salad is just chicken, mayo or sour cream, and garlic salt. Spread maybe 3/4 c. on the tortilla, top with a sprinkle of cheese, and some thinly sliced avocado. They are SO yummy, maybe you could find me a cheaper way to make them? Hmm. Also, it always seems pricey when I make salsa, like Maryjane said. Oh well. Thanks for the ideas. And I'll have to try the tacos your way.

Cris said...

Ok, so for taco dinner you have JUST the tacos and it's $3.35 per person? Or the entire family meal is $3.35? Trying to understand the concept of a -$5 meal.

Emily said...

Erin, that sounds like yummy chicken salad. I make my own mayonnaise, but I'm not sure it's any cheaper than store bought.

Cris, it is $3.35 for the whole meal for all of us, including leftovers for Dan the next day. It is not $3.35 per person.

Allie Bague said...


I noticed you guys sure love Mexican! Have you considered adding beans and rice to your diet? It is really easy to make, is a complete protein when eaten together and is really cheap to make!

Rehydrate the beans according to package directions. Cook the rice according to package directions. Combine the two together with your salsa and taco seasoning. Add some of your yoghurt sour cream and a side of vegetable in season and you've got one yummy, wholesome meal. My family of 7 can eat for less than $5 with leftovers for my hubby's lunch the next day. Yum! You could also substitute the beef in your tacos with beans and add your cheese to complete the protein, or add your leftover chicken instead of beef.


Can't wait to try your crockpot yoghurt!

Unknown said...

Re Soup. I get a hambone and cook it with a bay leaf and celery salt for about 2 hours, take it out and pull off all the remaining meat, toss the bone and put it back in the water.
Add 2 packages of yellow split peas,1 small diced onion, 2 cut up potatos, 1 lb cut up carrots and 1 bunch of celery, cook it for about 2 hours and season to taste. You can do it in the crock pot. Serve with bread and it's a filling and hearty meal. If I don't have potatos handy, I'll pour some instant ones in and that will thicken it up fast.

It's basically a porridge and it's good and filling. No one ever complained about it not being hearty enough in my house.

Emily said...

Allie, we have beans, and I have just started sprouting rice, and I love it, so does Dan. We were both surprised at how good it was, and we've put it in our taco mac in place of the pasta.

Anonymous said...

Emily, just saw this article on homeschooling and thought you might appreciate it. I know it's totally off-topic for this thread, but feel free to use it later if you want to discuss it's findings. However, really take time to read it because the findings are superb.

Elizabeth said...

Have you seen the "Whole Foods For The Whole Family" cookbook put out by La Leche Leauge? I found mine at a used bookstore and also have had it on my wishlist on Paper Back Swap (it tends to sell high on Amazon and Ebay). It has such wonderful recipes and so many helpful tips on switching to more healthy foods and saving money in the long run. I think it is a cookbook you would love!

Jessica said...

Our tacos are similar, except I use oil in my tortillas since my son has a milk allergy.

Have you tried adding some veggies to the meat? This is one way I trick my toddler into eating something green. I basically fry up whatever veggies we have in the fridge with my meat.

Coincidentally, my meal plan has tacos on the menu for tonight. I'm throwing spinach, carrots, green onions, celery and green beans into my meat mixture since that's what I have on hand.

Jena Webber said...

Yummy! Thanks for your comment on my blog also.

Gina said...

Out of curiosity, is there a reason you don't serve any sides with this dish? Some spanish rice is really very easy to make, along with some homemade refriend pinto or black beans.

When I make my spanish rice, I brown on a low flame, 2 cups of white rice. About halfways through, I add in some finley minced garlic and diced onion. Cook until brown, then add 2 cups of water with 1 tablespoon chicken bullioun, and pour in a 15 oz. can of tomato sauce (which I am sure you can make yourself). Add in some garlic powder, pepper and seasoning salt (easy though, so you don't over salt it), bring to a boil, cover with a lid and let cook until liquid is almost all gone. Stir once, turn flame off and cover back up with the lid for 10ish minutes to soften and fluff up the rice (otherwise it can be a bit crunchy).

Sister in Christ said...

Emily, I wish I could use your recipe but my Issac doesn't like Mexican food. It's been years since I've had tacos, but as my authority, it would be wrong to serve something my husband doesn't like.

Do you grow your own tomatoes? I do, even in an apartment. It really makes a difference when you make fresh salads. Issac insists on a fresh salad with every dinner.

What food items does Dan insist on?

Emily said...

Our Family, what an excelent article!

Gina, we don't have a side becuase this is enough to feed our family.

Sister, there is no food Dan insists on. We don't grow tomatoes over the winter. I didn't even know that was possible.

mrs. c said...

i know your family doesnt like rice, but we make yallow rice on the side, with sour cream to top it, my teenage sons make huge wraps with the meat, and veggies, and the rice thrown in, stuffs them right good, lol!!

Amber said...

Sister in Christ, do you ever serve something that YOU do not like?

Your husband is commanded to love you with the same sacrificial love that Jesus gave to the church, aka all of us. If he was doing that then he would be fine eating a bowl of cereal so that you could have the tacos that you love :)

Patti said...

Hi Emily,

Why do you sprout rice? I wasn't really sure what you meant (I'm only familiar with bean sprouts) so I googled it. Found this:

He thinks it taste the same so I was wondering why sprout the rice? Does it take on a different texture that you prefer?

I love brown rice but have never mastered cooking it.

You know, I searched your blog for "sprouting rice" to see if I had missed it somewhere. You have gone over a lot of the questions that people are still asking.


Magda said...

I don't get why folks are shocked that you don't serve a side with your tacos. We are absolutely no where near as frugal (nor healthy for that matter, working on that) and we eat tacos as is, no sides.

Emily said...

Patti, there is something about the texture of regular rice, I'm not sure, but we are enjoying sprouted rice. Sprouted anything packs a nutritional punch compared to their unsprouted counterparts.

Bubblej said...

Sister in christ,

How silly. You have gone without food you love because you husband doesn't like it? The rule in our house is that if you don't like what you are served then you sort yourself. Make tacos, if he doesn't like it, cereal is quick and easy!

I get that some christian woman are submissive, and as a stong willed and independant atheist I won't understand, but come on, just make the tacos. He may be surprised that after years of stubbonly refusing mexican food that he may actually like it!

Rapunzel's Room said...

We don't usually have a side with our tacos, either. We do make beans/rice and put them in the tacos.

Tacos are a staple here, we have them 1x or 2x per week. Yours look yummy!

Sister in Christ said...

Amber, I understand that's what more worldly women believe, but I could never serve my husband cereal. I truly believe I'm under his authority and I joyfully submit to his will. Yes, my husband WOULD eat cereal if need be and he would be happy to watch us eat Mexican food for he does love his family and loves me as Christ loves the church. But out of respect and love I do not work against him like that. Dinner is a family affair and we eat AS A FAMILY and that means we eat what we ALL like. I very much dislike peas, so my husband would NEVER make peas for everyone but me. It's an act of love to submit to my husband. But yes, I do serve peas because they are nutritious for my children but my husband would never insist on peas.

bob said...

nice pan cake, looks delicious

Cris said...

Thanks for clarifying! I'll try out tracking price-per-meal one of these days.

Elizabeth said...

I think "Sister in Christ" was joking, or I hope so! Even after reading her second post I have to think it is a joke, because even though your husband doesn't like tacos I can't understand why "you love tacos but haven't had them in years" just due to the fact that your husband doesn't like them. Is he not gone at work all day where you could make them for lunch for the rest of the family members?

ly said...

I am not sure on your policy of links but here is what we use for our tacos/burritos

This recipe is good for at least two meals for my family of four and the beans are not overly spicy. I use beans instead of meat and do not miss it. Plus it should be a little more nutritous than hamburger. I do use chicken stock instead of water but since I make my own it really does not add to the cost of the meal.

In another thread the was concern about your eating habits and if you were getting the balance you needed. is a weight loss sight that is free. I am not saying that you need to lose weight,please do not take it that way, it keeps a food diary for you and automatically calulates fat, vitamins, etc. It is a nice tool to have.


Guinevere said...

Sister in Christ is a spoof -- check out her blog. Silliness.

I want tacos now; I might have to try making tortillas. This recipe looks delish.

Buttercup said...

I don't serve side dishes with tacos either, but we also usually have our tacos loaded up with more vegetables.

Bubblej said...

I have tacos about once a weak. Its my "i'm feeling too lazy to cook" meal. I also don't serve it with a side dish. I grate a zucchini into the simmering mince and add cucumber and tomato on top. My boyfriend puts cheese onto too. There is no need to serve it with a side dish, it is a meal. However, we have 3 tacos each, I couldn't have just one, I would be starving

Gabriella said...

Elizabeth, I read "Sister"s second post as well, and I am convinced she is joking. It is very hard to imagine, that her posts are on the level.

Gabriella said...

Do you have a link to Sister...'s blog?

sunnymommy said...

Emily, we did the tacos tonight. I loved not having to premix up the seasoning. Although I really wished I had lettuce growing in here. If you can do it in the winter inside in Maine, surely I can do it in Nebraska! We just don't seem to have any good south windows..

Anyway, I made soaked tortillas and my kids loved them fresh - ate them straight out of the pan with butter on them! But, a couple hours later when we made the tacos we couldn't fold them up without them breaking and everything falling out! Does that happen to yours? Is there a secret to making the tortillas more flexible??

Also do you know how to make hard shells (corn)?

Yesterday I tried the pasta, but it took over 30 minutes to cook and was all smushy.. Not sure what happened there. I will try again and bring the water to a boil before I put them in I guess.

G&Z said...

Hi Emily,
I've never commented before, but I've been reading you since the beginning, but I digress. One of my favorite things to eat on the side of tacos as sopa de fideo which is sort of like a very thin noodle soup in a super light tomato broth with onion. Just thinking about it brings me back to childhood. The other tacoside dish that you'll find on my table and on really authentic mexican taquerias would be baked potatoes. :)

And one more thing on tacos, one of my favorite taco fillings growing up was left over brisket. That's probably just the texan in my and not so much the mexican.

<3 G

Cate said...

I've thought about trying your tortillas, but I just love corn tortillas too much to switch. My dad spoiled me by making his own corn tortillas and the flour ones just aren't the same anymore. Though I did get used to boxed macaroni and cheese again, so maybe I'll give it a shot.

Emily said...

sunnymommy, I make the tortilla right before I need them or put them in an airtight container. They dry out and become hard to fold. To make the hard shells, you need to deep-fry them, so I don't bother. It sounds like you cooked the pasta too long, for sure. Taste it every few minutes while it is cooking to see if it is the right texture. It took me several tries before I got it right.

Andrea said...

Those look very good. I tried to make homemade tortillas once and they were no where close to being round. For a more frugal meal I sometimes mix my burger meat with lentils as I am not a huge fan of lentils plain but they hide well mixed in with the meat.

Rendy said...

I'm concerned about the quality of your meat. Have you researched the safety and cleanliness of what you purchase? I just came across this article that I thought might be of interest to you: December 30, 2009 article in the NYT, entitled "Safety of Beef Processing Method is Questioned." For some reason I couldn't paste the link (I'm sure I'm not doing it right)

Dana said...

I have an enchilada recipe that you might like. It costs ~$2.50 per serving and you can see it at my blog This Hectic Life.

I hope you enjoy!

Millie said...

Hi Emily,
I know you mentioned you have a sourdough starter. I thought you might be interested in sourdough tortillas
I have made them before (and have them in process right now for tonight's dinner). They are wonderful!
To keep my homemade tortillas pliable I put them in a baggie a few minutes after taking them off the heat. They are still soft the next day.

hd said...

I know you like to read & research, but have you really looked into the food choices you are making for your family? You seem to grab onto an idea here & there, but it seems to me you are taking bits & pieces from various sources (Sally Fallon, sprouting, anti-GMO, etc) to form the basis of your families food guidelines without doing any critical thinking of your own.

Let me say I understand dietary restriction far better then most, as I am extremely allergic to corn & corn derivatives. I also understand having to eat on a budget, which doesn't always go hand & hand with having a severe food allergy.

One thing that caught my attention was your homemade baking powder- yes, most baking powder in the US has corn starch in it and it is easy to avoid by making your own- I do. But you seem to think it has to be mixed up as you use it; it doesn't. Even when a couple people posted comments/questions about it, you never thought to see why the version you posted couldn't keep. A simple solution is to is to use a different starch in place of the corn starch, such as potato starch, potato starch, tapioca starch or arrowroot, all readily available at ethnic food stores for very little $ (potato starch can also be found at many grocery stores in the Kosher section). The starch keeps the acid (cream of tartar) and the base (baking soda) from reacting until they get mixed into the batter. I mix up a batch every 6-8 months, keeping it in a glass jar in my cabinet. Another thing to consider is that this type of baking powder is single acting, meaning it reacts as soon as it gets wet, so you can't mix up, say pancake batter, and use it over several days. You have to understand its restrictions & how to work around them.

Another thing is you are trying to avoid GMO corn with your homemade baking powder, yet you use NuNaturals brand Stevia powder, which contains 92% corn maltodextrin:
"Where does Maltodextrin come from? The maltodextrin NuNaturals uses as an ingredient in NuStevia™ White Stevia Powder™ is made from corn."

Another thing on your site that concerns me is your baking bread in tin cans. Do you realize those cans are lined with BPA, which has been linked in recent years with numerous health effects. BPA was removed from baby bottles & many other plastic products in the past few years, but as Consumer Reports ( reported in December 2009, we now need to be concerned with the lining in cans. I understand most of us cannot avoided commercially canned foods for the most part, but why expose yourself & your young children to more BPA then necessary by baking bread in cans when we know one of the things that caused it to release into bottled water was excessive if the bottle water was left in a car in the summer?

I noticed you also use white vinegar in your laundry- you do know that is made is made from GMO corn also? Also, the vanilla extract you listed in your hot chocolate recipe is 99% GMO corn- from the corn alcohol, to the caramel food coloring made from corn to the corn dextrose or corn syrup often added.

hd said...

continuing comment...

A finally point is the cheap ground meat you use so frequently and defend by saying how cost effective it is, how you need the extra iron, etc. Have you looked at the nutritional difference between ground hamburger & cheap roast? Using the USDA database and a 100gram edible portion, ground hamburger has 332 calories, 14g protein, 30g fat. 100g of cheap roast (I picked chuck arm roast) has 244 calories, 19g protein, 18g fat. So more protein and less even mention in your taco recipe that you drain your cooked hamburger, so you can't claim you are getting more calories from it as you are disposing of the fat. Even the iron increase from the ground, at 1.64mg to 1.73mg for the roast. I looked at bottom round, brisket and other cheaper cuts and the numbers were pretty much the same. I bet if you actually look at the final cost per usable pound of meat, the price of the pre-ground chubs is much, much higher. The same goes for the chubs (tubes) of ground sausage- if you watch, you can probably find pork butt (actually its shoulder-lol) for around $1/lb fairly regularly. I know for me, I purchase whole pork loin when its on sale for around $1.50/lb. As for beef, I never pay more then $2/lb- and that includes New York Strip Steak (one store I keep an eye on 45 miles away runs it on whole New York Strip for $1.99 every few months). I am more limited, in that I have to be very careful that any meats I buy are not injected with various liquids to improve moisture, like much chicken & pork is.

You also state the only ingredient listed on the ground beef is "meat", so therefore it only contains meat. There are a few things wrong with that type of statement- first off, ground beef, sausage & such fall under the jurisdiction of the USDA, not the FDA, so its an entirely different label requirements then most foods in a grocery store. Also, you have to look at what end up on the label- only things deemed 'ingredients', but not things that are used as 'process agents', even though both end up in the food item. This is why the ammonia used in the process to separate meat & fat from scraps doesn't end up on the label of ground meat in chubs. Just think about that the next time you are shopping and see a label that just doesn't seem right.

hd said...

FYI- for those of you who want to make round tortillas easier, pick up a tortilla press at a Mexican food store. Go for the heavier, cast iron ones- I paid less then $10 for my 8" one 2-3 years ago. You place the ball of dough in the center, close and press down and you end up with round tortilla every time!

You can find DIY instructions on line for one made of wood and I did try that first, but I ended up spending more $ and it didn't work as well-lol.

Tortilla presses can be used for other things too- pressing dough flat into a circle to make pizza pockets, starting a pie crust (gets it started in a perfect circle), Asian dumplings, etc.

Emily said...

hd, apart from the misquoting me, I thank you for the info.

hd said...


Don't cook your tortillas as long and they shouldn't be as hard will almost seem like you are under cooking them at first, but they do have enough heat in them to 'carry over cook' a little more after you take them out of the pan, as you found out. It took me more then a few batches to get this figured out-lol...not that my dog minded all too much. I learned the same thing making waffles ahead.

Also, as you finish cooking them, lay them together wrapped in a tea towel- it lets some of the moisture out, but keeps enough in to keep them softer later.

A Baby Peach said...

I have an honest question from just discovering your blog... you appear like you care a great deal about giving your kids foods that aren't totally crap (processed sugary foods) yes??? Does it not concern you about the quality of the very, very cheap ingredients you are using (ie: meat). Why not buy cheaper ingredients that are cheap b/c they are just that way (beans, etc) vs. cheap quality meats and such that are not healthy at all. I'd rather go without meat all the time and get the more expensive high quality meat every so often than fill my body with disgusting 1.30 (?) a pound meat.

Bubblej said...

Emily, I made your tacos today! They were great. My only question is how do you get 10 shells out of your dough? I got 4! And that was rolling them as thin as I could.

Holly said...

Hi, Emily! I just found your blog a few days ago and I'm enjoying reading back through it. I made these whole wheat tortillas last night and they are fantastic! I've tried "store bought" ww ones and didn't like them, but I can see making these at least once a week!

I'm sorry that some people are so critical of the way that you(and some posters) choose to live. I may not share all of your beliefs or practices, but I think we can all learn from one another.

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