Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday : recipe day

I am trying something new.  Friday's are recipe day, where I try to take a classic  recipe and make it better, cheaper, and faster.

We are doing pancakes from scratch.   It was my mission to adapt the recipes to have less fat, sugar, or salt and be relatively quick.  Pancake mixes have anti clumping agents  and preservatives in them,

Scratch pancakes

Sift together
1-1/2 cups flour
3.5 tsp baking powder
T tsp salt
1 T sugar

Mix together wet ingredients
1-1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3T melted butter.

Whip egg into milk with a fork, breaking yolk . Temper the butter with some of the  milk .

Add the floor mixture to the wet mixture.  

Cook pancakes on pan griddle.   Turn when bubbles form and the edges of the pancake are  dry.

Keep in a warm 200 degree oven until all pancakes are made.

Sercemwith bitter, syrup, or jelly.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Thursday bullet day : 5 things where making is better than buying,

Never say Never, but.......

5 things it's a waste to buy -

  1. Bread crumbs and shake n bake .     It doesn't make sense to throw away your bread heels and then go buy someone elses dry bread.   Dry the bread on the oven and out it through he food processer. Or, before o had a food processer  I used a box grater on a sheet pan.   Shake n bake is no more than dry bread crumbs with some spices  and herbs.    I add some grated Parmesan cheese.  Ditto croutons .    
  2. Chicken stock.   Paying a dollar for two cups  of chicken stock that you can get for free is not practical.    Besides the fact that the canned stock has more sodium in it.   It's not a lot of effort to throw bones on a slow cooker and add the scrapings or ends from your veggies and some herbs and let or do it's thing.    
  3. Vegetable stock .   
  4. Muffins,   Store bought muffins can cost fifty cents a piece and are full of carbs.    Homemade are still carbs, but you can portion control and they take minutes to make.   Use your own muffin mix and add whatever bits of fruit you may have hanging around.   Grease your muffin tins  or buy silicone so you only buy them once as apposed to paper ones.    I still have some paper ones for times I have to take them someplace.    
  5. Rice crispy treats,   Buying individual treats are expensive,   I can always find marshmallows for a dollar or less.  Chocolate crispy cereal on a bag is inexpensive and my RBP for butter is  two dollars a pound,   They take minutes to cook and make a special treat every now and then,   

Safeways and QFC haul.

Safeways was first.   I had a twenty dolkarmbisgetmbecause that was the amount of the basket coupon.  The closer you come to the dollar amount, the more percentage you save.  I spent 20.61 less the two dollar basket coupon made it 18.61net

I got

Pickles 2.52
2 Top ramen noodles .36
Salsa  1.30  with coupon additional
3 pillsbury rolls 4.50 with coupon additional
2 - 2 lb cheeses 3.60 each
Strawberries 3.69

Total 18.61

Spent 12.94
4 pkgs tortillas 1.00 each
2 eggs .99 each
2 jars pasta sauce 149 each
2 sausage ropes at 1.99 each

Total 31.55 spent

Wednesday ads - 4/26

The ads for QFC and Alberways
NOTE: QFC is a two week ad

Alberways - my rendition of Safeways and Albertsons - same ad, different locations

Chicken thighs, drums, or leg quarters, .67 ( we have no idea where they come from )

Cantaloupe .99. EACH

 Cheese Lucerne : 3.99 for TWO pounds @@  
Note too that my just for you has a 2 dollar off twenty dollar basket coupon .  
Ten percent makes it 180 a pound.  

Friday only old El Paso taco shells. 1.00  nite coupon out there for 1.00 off of two dated 5/1
Makes taco shells .50.    Or .45 with basket coupon,  

This could be a great gricerynhaul of played right.   It always hekosmofmyoumcan double dip the coupons,  

QFC TWO week ad

Strawberries 1.88
Avocados 1.00
Eggs .99
Barilla 1.00. - cheaper at FM this week

Boneless  1/2 Pork loin 1.99.  Top of my target price , but within reason especially considering
Center cut Pork loin chops 3.99.   That's a heap of difference if you care to spend five minutes cutting off Pork chops.

Mission tortillas 1.00 hard or soft
Refried beans 100


Craft ranch - 1.49 - look for coupons
Hillshire farm sausage  1.99
Classico pasta sauce 1.49 - look for coupons

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuesday thoughts

Back to basics :  solid principles to drastically lower your food expenses in easy steps.  

  • Rotation protein.   The object is to get the best price ( RBP or buy price, or target price ) on your protein. Protein is the most expensive  food group you buy so starting with it makes most sense.   Make a limited list of protein you will need to make your meals.   Limit the cuts of meat for simplicity.    In our house, for example, that would be pork loin, split chicken breast, 7 percent fat hamburger, sausage, grated cheese, dry beans, tuna or salmon canned. 
  • Using your ads for a guide. Pick the meat for rotation based on a RBP.   Buy enough to make as many meals as you need  of that protein for a month.  If you eat beef once a week, you need enough for four meals.  I buy here pounds at a time for three of us.    Rotate your meats in a four to six week cycle,   If there is a quiet week, choose cheese or beans that are pretty stable in price.   Pintos here are 1.5 pounds for a  dollar at the DT.    I look for under a dollar a pound, pinto beans work  well for re-fried beans or chili . 
  • Plan your meals for variety,   
  • To stay within a five dollar dinner budget  the proverbial 4 person family, you need to try for two dollar a pound or less protein.  That's my target price - average.  Making some meals from really inexpensive   protein means you can have some more expensive  protein some times.   M
  • Prices differ a lot with location, but we have some of the most expensive prices  in the continental US.  Ground beef (7 percent ) is 328 at Winco.  Split Chicken  breast is anywhere from 1.28- 1.50 a pound as apposed to boneless, skinless at 8.00 at QFC (Kroger) .  Pork loin is anywhere from 1.50 for a whole one at Business Costco to 1.69 at almost everywhere. 
  • Chicken breast that is split breast has the ribs attached.   It's a simple task to run your knife blade along the bone and separate the ribs from the breast.   A lot better than separating you from your money,   Cook the bones and meat attached to them in a big pot of water.   Throw in the bits of veggies you have from trimming the vegetables or add some herbs and let it simmer or put the water, bones and herbs in the slow cooker and let it go all day or all night.   There is usually enough meat on the bones to make another meal ( pizza, casserole, tacos...) and you have virtually free chicken stick that can be as much as two dollars a quart.   
  • Pork  loin.   Looking at a whole loin can be daunting the first time.   I wrap it in the clean sink so it drains without a mess.   Place on your cutting board and slice a couple of inches off the ends where  they taper down.   Dice this for stew meat or a pot pie etc.   now cut two roasts off each end about five or six inches each.  Slice the middle section in 3/4 to an inch slices for chops.   Bag or wrap for the freezer.  Label and date.   Depending on the size, you should get six or seven meals.   Portion control the chops and cubes, and plan on two meals a roast for 3-4 people.    We have actual roast i time and slice thin for BBQ sandwiches another.   Or, mince the meat really fine and use it for taco meat.   Fifteen dollars (10 pounds ) should make six meals for a cost of 2.50 a meal.    Portion control is key,   Some families of you out a two pound roast in front of them, they are going to eat a two pound roast, especially if they are not found of vegetables or potatoes.    That's. It good for them or your budget. Unless  they are body builders, six ounces of protein including eggs is the RDA for protein according to my source.   
  • Ground beef (or turkey) . Fry ground beef and de-fat it.  Portion control.  1/2 a pound with another protein is plenty for four  people.   You will use more of you make meatballs or a meat loaf.    I occasionally do , but it ups our cost so we have to average.   Everyone has a multitude of recipes for ground meat.   Armor makes meatballs ready made for about two dollars a almost pound in the freezer case at Winco.   They aren't what scratch are, but granddaughter loves them and she is picky.   My RBP for good hamburger is 3.28 a pound.   Ground turkey is more.  
  • Sausage is cooked and de-fatted and bagged.   We use it in quiche, on pizza, or as a substitute for ground meat in pasta sauce .   
  • It's an alternative fact that block cheese is cheaper than grated cheese.  A pound of,cheese is a pound of cheese, no matter what shape it is in.   Look at the price per pound.  Small packages can be deceiving.   We toured a cheese factory.   They mold the cheese on huge bricks.  The. It goes to a station where they cut it with a machine into two pound bricks.   The left over edges go onto a tray much like a bus boy tray and it goes to the shredder.    My RBP for cheese is close to two dollars a pound.   

Monday, April 24, 2017

Kitchen management

Yesterday , I bought seven  pounds of split chicken  breast and de-boned them while my granddaughter made ninja turtle cookies.   I was done about the same time her mix was made and she had rolled her dough into balls.   Then, I cooked the bones with the meat in them,

For Monday. I need to

  1. Clean the fridge 
  2. Make bread 
  3. Make apple cake 
  4. Chop the peppers I bought and dehydrate  them 
  5. Cook chicken 
  6. Cook stew beef 
  7. Disinfect counter tops
  8. Wash floor 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tuesday notes

I made five meals from 6.75 worth or sirloin;  this was beef, but you could do the same with pork.

I thought I could take you along,

Meat pack   6.75 

Stir fry strips 

Stew meat 

Ground beef in food processor for chilli to be chilli one day and baked potato bar another,     

Strips for beef stroganoff 

Five meals for 6.75 for meat a meal.   This is for three of us.   135 per meal.   
Breaking down whole pieces of meat cuts costs dramatically.   

Meal plans for week of may 1st

meals for may 1st

Focus is on the sirloin ingot last week and some of the chicken.   Note the s t r e t c h I n g   Of the sirloin.   That makes eating beef more than once this week, but it is one of the leanest cuts of  beef.

  • Pizza 🍕- a staple in this family 
  • Breakfast 4 dinner - a time and money saver - everybody cooks something 
  • Chicken pot pies 
  • Braised beef on noodles , green beans 
  • Chilli, nacho chips with cheese ( from sirloin meat ) 
  • Loaded baked potatoes with leftover chilli 
  • Beef stir fry 

Notes :   This is a lot of beef,  six dollars and 75 cents worth of beef,   I see some substitution strategy in our future.   I just wanted to show how far you could  make a bulk meat purchase stretch. That will leave me enough for another stir fry.   That would be five meals for 6.75.   Little more than 1.25 a piece.    The RDA for protein is 6 ounces a day and some of that should be eggs.    

I always keep a back up plan for what I call );)() storms.  We all have them and it beats  the take out pizza fairy,    A twenty dollar pizza  can bust a budget fast,    Consider that all the meals last week cost less than twenty dollars.    

Last week I hurt my hip cleaning the storage room.    Because I had prepped on Monday, dinner was almost made and the finish work could be done by culinary challenged family member.   LOL.  

Sunday : meal plans for week of 4/24

Meal plans,  

Rotation proteins to work from:

Chicken breast
Pork loin chops, roast
Ham chunks
Turkey sliced

  1. Pizza - ham and pineapple 
  2. Breakfast 4 dinner (ham ) 
  3. Toasted turkey and cheese sandwiches, tomato and roasted red pepper soup.    
  4. Tuna cakes, oven roasted veggies . 
  5. Speghetti with meatballs , salad . French bread 
  6. Mac n cheese, broccoli 
  7. Vegetable soup , rolls or bread sticks 

Notes : working on the 3 pork or chicken, 2 vegetarian, 1 beef and 1 fish or shellfish matrix.   
Eggs are reaching their pull date.    I got tomatoes this week for .38 a can and we have turkey with a may pull date.    We have already had five meals off a eight dollar ham  and I have at least five meals more : we will freeze some.   

1) pizza crust costs less than .20.   Add pineapple, cheese, ham ,and part of a dollar pizza sauce.   Total 1.90
2)  eggs .39, ham .80, hash browns .78 and strawberries 100.    3 .00
3) soup 1. 00, sandwich 2.67 total of 3.67 
4) tuna 2.00, egg .06, bread crumbs free, veggies .60 total 2.66
5) speghetti, .75, meatballs  1.00. Sauce, .68. Salad 100.    3.41 
6) Mac n cheese 2.35 
7) soup 1.72, bread sticks .20.    1.92 

Total 18.91.  

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Snarky editorial.

I got a post from an unknown person.   Because I don't have a clue who this person  is, but I suspect some people are thinking the same things, I thought I would answer it,  

The gist of the letter, not directed at me. Was stop shaming  poor  people for not eating well.   First of all I don't shame people.   I tell people ways to  stretch their dollar so that you can eat well on a limited budget.    I can suggest and tell people what I do , it's up to them to take the information or leave it,    It's their life.

Grocery haul : 32.00

6 ounce box of raspberries,
2 bags of green grapes
1 pineapple
2 snack  peanut packages
1 soda

This person didn't say where they were from.    But, we live on one of the highest COL states in the continental US.    Shopping wisely, you can eat well on a limited budget.

For 13.93 - less than half of her basket , I got

2 poumds of French fries
1 pound of green beans

1 pound of strawberries
1bag  of baby tomatoes
18 eggs
1 can of green chilies
And 6.75 worth of petite sirloin at 2.69 a pound

All good food.   None of it out of season or expensive this time of year.  

Considering I had 18 dollars left of her budget , I could have easily purchased
stir fry veggies
2 poumds apples
2 pounds carrots
1 bag noodles
1 package celery
1/2 gallon milk
5 pounds chicken breast

You can be poor and Eat well. .  

Winco haul with prices - meat alert

quick small Winco haul 
Good prices 

2 pounds frozen fries.98

Frozen green beans .97

Strawberries 1.98

Mini tomatoes .98

18 count eggs 159

Green chillis can .58

Petite sirloin 2.69 a pound 6.75 

I couldn't pass up good beef that had little fat for 2.69 a pound,   We can have a stir fry and I can cut it up for stew.   Time to adjust the meal plans.    Groceries on the cheap works best of you are flexible and tak advantage of a good buy when you see it.   

You can always change aplan, but you need a plan to begin with.   


Rotation alert : Foster Farms split chicken breast .87 

Peppers, avocados .77 
Milk .99
Cantaloupe 2/3 

Barilla pasta .88
Kroger frozen potatoes 179

Strawberries 2/5

 Boneless Pork Loin Chop 399 - note this is why it's such a good buy to purchase  a whole loin and take ten minutes to cut your own. Usually you can get pork loin for less than half that price.    

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Friday recipe : fast taco soup

There is something about a steaming hot bowl of soup that seems so inviting and comforting,    The best part is when you can out it in a slow cooker and have the wonderful smell occupy the house all day,   Dinner is done the mess is cleaned up and dinner is a snap.  

Taco Soup - revisited - less cans 

2/3 cup pinto beans , dry
2/3 cup kidney beans, dry

1-1/2 cup frozen corn 

1 can diced tomatoes with jalapeños (or not) 
1-small can of enchalada sauce 
1 quart chicken stock - homemade or from low sodium granules 

1/2 lb cooked hamburger 
1 T scratch taco seasoning,    


  1. Cook the beans in a pressure cooker according to directions.   Drain.  
  2. Add all ingredientd  to slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours,or on  low for 8-10 hours.   
  4. Garnish with any of the following : tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, avacado.  
My cost 3.08 without garnish 

Thursday : take it up a notch : Bullet day

Last year our average weekly food bill was 72.00 a week.    That's less than 25.00 each,   This year I set out to lower the bills.  Because we haven't had a raise in several years, and  another raise doesn't seem like it's gonna happen any time soon.   And, because it's a challenge!     I still read and try to learn new things.

This year, so far we are sitting at 55.00 a week.   17.00 or not quite 25 percent less.   I'm still working on it but so far I have made changes ;

  • We learned how  to make easy breads.   I started with peasants  bread,  then went to refrigerator bread and sweet rolls.   The cost of a good bread 🍞 in the bakery department is  upwards of three dollars.     It cost less than thirty cents .    That's a big difference and some recipes are really easy and not time  consuming.    
  • I've made it a point to use up small amounts of leftovers or dehydrate them and put in jars.   
  • Finding recipes that turn leftovers into another different dish has been a help.   Hubby does not like to eat warmed overs.    But if I can make a new meal it works.   
  • After cooking for a large family, it's hard to downsize.   I started making 1/2 batches of things,   Using a 8X 8  pan instead of a 9 X 13.   Less waste.  You don't have to cook a whole box of pasta,  measure it and cook 1/2 a box,   
  • Cooking more from scratch means that I can cook little bits  instead of opening a can of something and not using it all.   
  • Freezing bits of anything that can go on a pizza and keeping them in the freezer door so that  they don't get buried in the back of the freezer helps too. 
  • I went from buying all cans of beans to having some cans for emergencies and making my own re-fried beans and cooking dry beans.  The deal breaker here was getting a insta pot.   
  • Adding a vegetarian meal to the meal plan sometimes isn't even noticeable,   Eggs and cheese are relatively cheap and can make a good  meal.   Or add a little meat to eggs and cheese.