Tag Archives: frugal health

How to make elderberry syrup

Last night I made my first batch of elderberry syrup.  It is filled with antioxidants and is good for preventing colds or treating them, depending when you take it.  I bought dried elderberries online, but if you are able to pick them fresh locally, all the better!  Here’s how simple it is to make:

Elderberry syrup

  • 1/2 c. dried elderberries (or 1 c. fresh)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 3 c. water
  • 1 c. honey

Put the berries in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.  Let simmer for 30 – 45 minutes.  Mash the berries with a potato masher, and strain through a fine strainer.  Add honey while liquid is hot, stir, and bottle.  Keep in the fridge – should last 2 – 3 months when refrigerated.

I made four times this recipe and I ended up with three full quarts plus one 16 oz honey jar. I forgot to mash the berries, but since they were dried to start with, I think this was probably less important than when using fresh berries.  I added the cinnamon sticks because they taste good, but also because cinnamon kills bacteria and is great for fighting infections.   I used crystallized honey that was sitting around not being used because the kids said it doesn’t taste as good when it’s crystallized.

Here’s a breakdown of the cost to make it: I bought the dried elderberries for 7.95 lb, and used 2/3 of that (wanted to save some to tincture), so the berries were $5.30.  I used three cups of honey, and if I figured the cost correctly, each cup was $3.33 cup.  That seems high to me (I thought I paid about 2.50 per cup, less when I recently bought small 16 oz containers for 1.99 each), but I based it on googling how many cups of honey are in a gallon (supposedly nine); I buy a gallon/twelve pound container for $30.  So the honey was $10.  I’ll add in .14 for the cinnamon sticks, since I got a container that had thirteen sticks in it for .88 so each stick rounds up to .07.  The total for 12.5 cups of elderberry syrup came out to 15.44.

When you consider 4 fl. oz of Sambucol costs around $12.99, or to use their cheaper price for a larger bottle, 7.8 oz is $21.99, that’s a real bargain! Elderberry syrup from Mountain Rose Herbs is similarly priced with a 4 oz bottle being $13.25.  To put it further into perspective, 4 oz is about a quarter of a cup and 8 oz is half a cup – so I’m getting about thirty five times as much for the same price (my price for 1/4 c. is .31; 1/2 c. is .62).

Because this has a limited shelf life and I don’t want to use up my fridge space hosting three quart sized jars for months, for immediate use I kept one quart plus the little honey jar, and canned the other two quarts so I can keep them on a shelf out of the fridge.

This can be given when a child is showing signs of the cold or a flu, a tablespoon every hour or two, or you can give them a teaspoon each morning as a general immune strengthener.  This could easily be added to tea or (if you let the water boil down more so the final result is thicker) poured on top of pancakes or waffles.  Getting kids to have some of this isn’t hard at all.  This morning we gave the younger kids a teaspoon each, and a minute after ds3 got his spoonful, he came back holding out a cup and asked for a cupful!


Is it more important to be frugal or healthy?

>>Also, I notice that a lot of the food you eat is healthy, but not necessarily the most frugal. Like, mac and cheese would probably be cheaper to make than stuff with nuts, etc. And that soy bean oil is cheaper than coconut oil. But, for the healthy food you buy, you make sure to buy it in the cheapest way possible. So my question is this:
Are you frugal because a healthy lifestyle is important to you, and this is how you make it affordable? Or would you be just as frugal if healthy food wasnt as important to you? If you had to make a choice between frugality and health, health would come first, correct?<<

This is a hard question to answer directly, maybe because I don’t understand it very well.

I often hear people complain that it’s so expensive to eat a healthy diet.  While healthy food can be more expensive, I don’t think that a limited food budget should equate with low quality food.   Right now I’m spending about $600 on food monthly for a family of 11, but that’s a pretty generous amount and it allows me to buy more than a month’s worth of food.  Since my monthly food budget is lower than most people, even those who don’t keep kosher or eat healthily, it would seem even if I wasn’t particularly concerned about health I’d have to be frugal to eat well on this amount.

My food budget is what it is because that’s what I have.  I can spend it any way I want and on whatever foods I want, but in the end, that’s the limitation.  I choose to buy foods that nourish us because I think health is important.  But staying within my financial constraints is primary to me – I believe in living well with whatever you have, so having limitations doesn’t denote deprivation to me.

I’m frugal for two reasons – 1) my financial resources aren’t unlimited; 2) I believe our resources are sent to us by H-shem (G-d) and it’s our responsibility to use them well.  There’s no joy for me in spending more than I need to just because I have it.  My dh once asked me if we were millionaires if I’d shop the same way, and I told him there’s very little I would change.

By being careful I have fewer choices to make between health and frugality in regards to the foods I buy.  But if I didn’t have as much money to spend as I do – if the choice was between going hungry and having healthy foods – rather than let my family starve I’d feed them cheaper and less healthy foods.  (But as I said above, I don’t think this is usually the choice.)  I already make this choice to a degree – my strong  preference is to eat only grass fed meats, pastured eggs, and raw milk from grass fed cows.  Also, I’d like to only use organic produce from local farmers.  If I had the money, I’d gladly spend more for all of these choices, but I won’t financially overextend myself for them.  I do the best I can and I’m okay with that.