Maple syrup surrounded by other sweeteners and baking supplies - sugar, cinnamon, shredded coconut, and carob powder

A couple months after my husband and I got married, we decided to do something crazy. We were young, kid-free, and we had a bunch of money squirreled away from our wedding.

Chris is Greek, and some of his family still lives there – tucked into their remote hill village where everyone raises sheep and harvests olives. We packed everything we owned into a storage unit, threw some clothes into a suitcase, and flew to Greece for 2 months.

It was glorious and messy, fun and awkward. Our family treated us like long lost grandkids. We explored the countryside and never ate enough to satisfy them. We also ate gobs of golden honey.

Our aunt and uncle are beekeepers, so one day they took us to their farms. After gearing up, we watched as they cared for their bees.

For weeks, we’d been enjoying the sticky nectar in our tea and on our tigonitas . Seeing where it came from was a game changer.

I think we should all be mindful of where our food comes from. The food industry is a beast that is hard to understand, and it’s difficult to learn whether your food is actually healthy.

On the other hand, we don’t to develop anxiety over what we’re eating and crawl into a hole and starve.

Let’s shoot for balance.

A golden drizzle of honey falling into a glass bowl

What We Eat & How We Save:

Today for How to Build your Frugal Kitchen (with Real food), I’m talking about sweets. I try really hard to make mindful decisions about our sweeteners, but I’m also going to put most of my money into quality meat, fruits, and vegetables. No sweetener is as nutritious as fruits and vegetables, so the goal is to lower my intake of sweets in general.

Fair Trade Pure Cane Sugar

Our local Aldi and Walmart sells Zulka Morena Evaporated Cane Juice (this is an affiliate link, which means I receive a small compensation if you make a purchase using the link. You can view my full disclosure policy here.) at the best prices I’ve ever seen. It’s fair trade and non-GMO certified, so it doesn’t support slavery. Which you think wouldn’t be a thing in our world anymore, but it is. I try to support companies that are intentional about how their products get to them. I’m not saying it’s the best sweetener. It is still sugar. However, it’s a step up from regular cane sugar.

There are a ton of granulated sweeteners – turbinado, evaporated cane juice, sucanat, coconut sugar, maple sugar, etc. Each has its own pros and cons.

Raw Local Honey

I buy it by the gallon, not just because I miss Greece and my theo and thea. Raw, local honey is supposed to be one of the “healthiest” sweeteners, as long it’s consumed raw. I use it in tea, oatmeal, and sometimes on pancakes or in baked goods.

Build Your Frugal Healthy Kitchen graphic

Maple Syrup

Not pancake syrup – real maple syrup. We also buy this by the gallon. We buy from a small family farm that sells to a lot of restaurants, so we get a deal. I use it in all the ways you would expect to use maple syrup. Also, in baking. Aldi carries this at a pretty good price. 

Blackstrap Molasses

Molasses is supposed to be super nutritious, but it has a really strong flavor. I only use a little bit to supplement maple syrup or honey or when recipes call for it.

There are about 543 kinds of sweeteners out there, and many of them are delicious and extremely expensive. These are the sweeteners I buy to balance nutrition and cost.

What About You?

What kinds of sweetener do you use, and how do you keep it cost effective?

How to save money on more natural sweeteners, like honey and fair trade sugar - plus what kinds of sweeteners are in our Frugal Kitchen. From