Raisin’ the Bar: Cool Ideas for the Mother of All Bargain Fruits
When it comes to bargain produce items, it’s hard to beat raisins. And since they can be stored without refrigeration, they are an excellent candidate for bulk purchasing. Check out this list of twenty-nine raisin recipes to keep your wow factor high and your grocery budget low.
1. Make some candy.
Chocolate covered raisin peanut clusters are kid pleaser every time, and very inexpensive to make.
2. In a dinner casserole.
My favorite is a Lebanese inspired one that a friend of mine in Kuwait turned me on to. Basically, it’s chopped eggplant, raisins, rice, cooked ground lamb (or hamburger), onions, olive oil, honey cinnamon and ginger. Sautee everything in a pan except the rice. Then mix in a fair amount along with some shredded mozzarella and bake in the oven at 350 for an hour. Not exactly authentic ethnic, but it gets the job done, is tasty and keeps the budget on track.
3. Put some in a batch of scones.
One thing I like about scones in general is they provide an affordable breakfast option that helps turn the focus away from “sweet”. This affordable recipe for oatmeal raisin scones could easily be served as a side to a savory dinner menu as well as for breakfast or afternoon tea.
4. Make a serving sauce for ham.
5. As a salad topper.
I’m a huge fan of jazzing up salads with unexpected ingredients to keep things affordable. Raisins really add some tang and style, particularly with a darker mixed green or baby spinach salad.
6. In a vintage Depression Era cake recipe.
Here’s a link. (You’ll have to scroll all the way to the bottom, but it’s there.) There are some other recipes from that time period as well. I dare say that if the ideas listed on this link got those people through a time as tough as that, we can probably all benefit in our time as well.
7. Add some oomph to homemade cookies.
8. Cereal toppers.
Whether you sprinkle them in your cold cereal or use them as part of an oatmeal topping bar, raisins add a fair amount of nutrition.
9. DIY snack mix.
Homemade granola, a raisin and sunflower seed mix, gorp, or trail mix are all ideas you could use here.
10. In a rice pudding.
Depending on how you sweeten it, this could be breakfast option as well. Here's a recipe for raisin and rice custard to get you started.
11. Dessert bars.
If you don’t already have a recipe, here’s a cool link.
12. As a feature ingredient in a pie.
13. Jazz up a grain dish.
Brown rice, couscous or barley with raisins, nuts, onions and allspice is a very doable and affordable special occasion side dish.
14. Breakfast bread.
Put some in a whole wheat batter bread for some slammin’ breakfast toast on the cheap.
15. Muffin magic.
Toss some in a batch of bran muffins with some DIY orange zest. Nutritious and cheap.
This stuff definitely falls in the elegant category. Here’s a link to a recipe for a raisin pistachio variety.
17. Rum raisin semi freddo.
Never heard of it until I researched this piece. But it sounds fun, unusual, affordable and fancy. I’ll likely be checking it out.
18. In a spread.
Here’s a link for an apricot raisin chutney recipe. I’m sure there are other ideas out there.
19. In a picnic salad.
Here’s a link to one I always saw in New England at summer picnic gatherings. Carrot-raisin salad.
20. Salad dressing.
Who knew? This ginger raisin vinaigrette recipe sounds too good not to try.
21. In a poultry stuffing.
Raisins really add something here in my opinion. Have a favorite version? Share it with us.
22. With peanut butter on a celery stick.
Bonus? Kids dig it.
23. Mince meat.
24. Homemade rum raisin ice cream.
One word. Yum. Here’s a link.
25. Stuff a dinner pumpkin.
This is a really elegant way to serve the sweeter sugar pie pumpkins available in the fall. You can also do it with squash. Whether you stuff it with sausage and bread crumbs or polenta and Parmesan, raisins really jazz up the entrée.
26. Chicken pie with rice and raisins.
Need an elegant holiday baked good? Stollen may just do the trick.
I got introduced to this stuff in Kuwait where they have a large Indian population. Man, is it good. Raisins are a significant ingredient, at least in the versions I always had.
29. Italian Christmas bread. This stuff was everywhere during holidays when we lived there. Here’s a link to a recipe.
I’m sure you all have some additional creative ideas and recipes out there. As usual, I’m always open to hearing about them. And with raisins consistently in the budget ingredient category, I’m sure we’d all love additional information on how to creatively save a buck. Hope these help!