Frugal Real Food Tip: Sweeten with Bananas

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If you want to save money cooking real food, it's a good idea to sweeten with bananas. They taste great and cost less than other real food sweeteners.

One of the financial challenges of a real food diet is the cost of sweeteners. I do a lot of baking because I like to know exactly what’s going into the snacks my family eats. I tend to cut back on the amount of sweetener found in traditional recipes, but I do use my fair share of sweeteners because we go through a lot of muffins, snack bars, and other healthy sweet treats around here. I rely heavily on maple syrup and honey because they’re less processed than white sugar. They contain trace amounts of minerals, they’re minimally processed, and I have access to local versions of both.

However, as a frugal real food cook, I cringe at the price of both maple syrup and honey. I get maple syrup for about $40 a gallon when I visit relatives in Vermont, which is nearly half the price I find at the grocery stores here in Massachusetts. It comes out to about $2.50 for a cup of maple syrup. I haven’t found a great price for high quality honey either, so I pay about $2.40 a cup for honey. With prices like these, I need other sweet sources in my baking.

Sweeten with Bananas

That’s where bananas come in. I love the fact that I can mash up a banana and put it in all sorts of different baked goods. It adds sweetness and moisture to the recipe, and it costs much less than honey or maple syrup. It also boosts the nutritional value of the final product because bananas are rich in vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, fiber, and potassium. Even though bananas aren’t on the “dirty dozen” list of produce, we only buy organic bananas. A friend of ours came back from a mission trip several years ago and told us about the awful impact of pesticides on the field workers picking the bananas in Central America. After hearing about that, we committed to buying organic bananas.

I can get organic bananas for $.29 each at Trader Joe’s. It takes about 4 of these bananas to generate a cup of mashed bananas, for a total of $1.16. This is much less than the $2.56 a cup I pay for maple syrup. That’s why I often throw a mashed banana or two into my baked goods so I can cut back even further on the added sweeteners.

Baking with Bananas

Here are some baked goods that include bananas in their ingredient lists:

Apple Cinnamon Bread

Gluten-Free Waffles

Chocolate Zucchini Bites

Brownies

Chewy Blueberry Banana Oat Bars

Blueberry Banana Muffins

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you’re looking to make your baked goods healthier, try using half a cup of mashed ripe banana in place of half a cup of sugar or other sweetener. You may be surprised by how much better they taste!

4 Comments

  1. Such great advice! I love baking too and it would be nice to cut down on sugar. Bananas are a perfect answer!
    -Dana

  2. I love the idea of using bananas in baked good recipes. I do it once in awhile, but realize I should do it more often!

    1. Thanks, Jill. It’s a great little trick, and if anyone in your house doesn’t love bananas, you can just use a little bit and they won’t even notice it.

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