Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Odds and ends of quick thrifty recipes

One of the quickest ways to jack up the food budget is to buy ready made anything. In most cases,cooking from sctatch is a lot cheaper than ready made. In some cases, the labor involved justifies the expense. But most of the time when you figure the difference in price and the labor involved, you are being paid well for your labor.
This is a concept that some people cannot grasp. If the money is not in their hand, they don't think they are being paid. Lol.

If making your own salad dressing takes you an extra 10 minutes, and the salad dressing
Costs 1.00 and the bottle of dressing cost 3.50, you are saving 2.50.
2.50 times 6 (there are six units of 10 minutes in an hour) is 12.50 or you are being compensated 12.50 per hour for your time.

Now if you make tortillas from scratch, the amount earned hour is not enough to make it worth your while.

Raspberry Vinegrette

3 T seedless all fruit raspberry jam
1/3 cup vinegar
Dash of salt and pepper
1cup of vegetable oil

Whirl in blender until blended.
Put in jar or plastic with lid .
Shake before using.

This Is good on field greens with fruit :oranges, blueberries, strawberries or any combination.

Greens are in box at Costco. If heads of leafy lettuce are less than 1.35 a head, they are cheaper.

Vinegar is 3.00 and change at Costco. If you steep washed organic nasturtium flowers ,in vinegar. It makes a peppery vinegar good in salad dressings and on cucumbers. Put a couple of flowers on a quart of vinegar on a stainless steel or enamel pot. Bring almost to a boil, turn off the heat, and let steep for a 1/2 hour or so. Strain into a bottle.

Spinach Pesto

1/2 cup walnut pieces
2cloves garlic
1/2 bunch of parsley
3 cups packed spinach leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup shredded parm
Dash of salt.

Zap walnuts in microwave for two to four minutes, stiring 1/2 the way through.

Peel the garlic and drop in food processor and whirl, add washed parsley , a little at a time. Washed spinach is next. Process in batches. Add olive oil in a stream, then the lemon juice. Add the parm and process the walnuts.

Lasts 3-4 days. You can freeze it in plastic lined muffin cups 1/4 of a cup each.
Put in freezer for two days and then pop into plastic bag. Lasts 2 months. Label the bag.

Next time, what to do with it.

Thanks for stopping by


Monday, July 30, 2012

Martha Stewart show and twenty dollar budget dinner.

Ok.  I am not really one for negativity, but Martha Stewart Show was on cooking on a "BUDGET".
What kind of a budget is twenty dollars a dinner?  That's four dinners, not one.  Of course, they were buying their food at Whole Paycheck Foodstore.  Now I know where the 15 dollar a pound chickens are from > LOL.  Honestly, the dinners weren't that great.  They did have desert with them, something that I usually don't plan.  I usually get one $5.00 Friday cake or whatever Safeways has and fruit.

They also bought panko bread crumbs foe 2.39 a box.  Honestly, 2.39 for about a ten ounce box of someone else's dry stale bread.  I can get that at home for almost free.  Chicken is a dollar or less a pound for northwest grown, natural, grain fed chickens.  What more,  really, can you ask for?  So I usually roast the whole chicken...a ten minute  prep job and the rest of the time is in the oven so I can go do something else.  After it is cooked, it is easier to cut up the pieces and then make BBQ chicken with the legs and thighs and something else out of the breast.  A chicken breast dinner and some leftovers for a cassarole , pizza, or pot pie. 

Salad greens are always less than a dollar a salad.  Even for the dark leafy greens.  The darker the green the more food value is in them.  I usually make salads really simple.  One of the best ways to save on salad fixings is to make your own croutons and salad dressing.  It is really fast., and saves a ton of money.  Again, croutons are buying someone else's dry bread for an exorbitant price. 
So, does it make sense to throw away your stale bread and pay big money for someone else's.  Just get the bread out of the plastic wrapper before it starts to mold.  I put mine in the oven with the oven off and let them dry.  

Recipe for Croutons.  ( can also be adapted for dressing mix., another money grabber.) 

12 Bread slices ( makes 4 cups)
1/4 cup olive oil or 4T butter melted. 
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dry basil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Trim the crusts from bread.  (save them for breadcrumbs)  Cut bread into 1/2 inch cubes and place in single layer on baking sheet with sides.  Bake uncovered for 10 minutes. 

Remove from oven.  Drizzle olive oil over crumbs and sprinkle with herbs.  Stir.  Continue baking the cubes for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.  Allow croutons to cool to room temperature.  Store in air tight container at room temperature for up to three weeks. 

Cheap Almost Caesar Dressing. 

1 lemon
2T vinegar
2 T Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup oilve oil. 

Into 2 cup or larger bowl. 
1. Juice the lemon. 
2. Add vinegar, mustard and pepper. 
3.  Peel the garlic and mince.
4. wisk together. 

Drizzle the oil into the bowl in a thin stream, wisking as you go until the oil is incorporated into the dressing.  

Lasts three days. 

Thanks for stopping by..


It Figures !

Here I go with figures again.  Bet you can't guess that I was an accountant in my former life!  2003 United State Department of Agriculture stats on a family of four for food shopping is 107.70.  That's almost ten years ago and that was for a "Thrifty Meal Plan". We are talking less than 75 dollars a week.  We have opted for meatless meals a couple of nights a week, and smaller portions of meat.
Times have changed and the 8 ounce steak is really a thing of the past. 

Thrifty shopping and scratch cooking is the key.  I opted to spend more time shopping wisely, and less time in the kitchen.  You can still cook from scratch and not slave over a hot stove for hours. 
If that's your hobby and you enjoy it, go for it.  But, I can "make" more money shopping than I can

Staples are purchased at rock bottom prices, but  I don't count them in when I price meals.  I do count them in when I post my grocery receipts.  I do not count in coffee or snack foods. I don't usually buy any exotic foods .  I try to keep servings to the amount we are going to eat, unless I can use the leftovers for lunch the next day. 

We have set dollar amounts....2.25 per pound for meat...(average) and 1.00 per pound for veggies.  This is getting harder and harder.  Sausage has just jumped from 6.13 for three pounds to 6.89.  I suspect with the drought, it won't be the only thing that jumps up in price.  The realitive word here is ADJUST. 

Make meals that your family will eat.  It doesn't save any money if your family doesn't eat it. 
That doesn't mean that you have to cook pizza every night.  If you have a picky eater, they will just have to get over it.  We were not allowed to be a picky eater when we were growing up.  Dinner was on the table.  Take it or leave it.  There was always breakfast in the morning.  Consequently, we ate liver (it was good for us in the 50's LOL) and anything else that came our way. 

Lets Talk Main Dishes. 


1 cup Taco Meat ( Ground beef with taco seasoning) 
4 large flour tortillas
1 can refried beans
1/2 cup cooked rice
Sour cream , divided
2T mayonaise
1 cup mexican shredded cheese , divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9X13 pan with cooking spray.
Warm taco meat in microwave .  Assemble enchiladas . Place 1/4 of the filling in the center of each tortilla.  Continue with the refried beans , rice, sour cream, and l/2 cup of the cheese.   Fold the ends in and roll the tortilla to form a "package".  Plase seam side down in pan. 

Mix salsa, sour cream, and mayo and spread over enchiladas .  Cover pan with foil and bake 25 minutes.  Uncover and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake an additional 3-5 minutes until cheese has melted. 

By planning meals, making best use of food in season, and shopping wisely you can eat well on less money. 

Thanks for stopping by


Sunday, July 29, 2012

5 Reasons why you want to buy your food at 1/2 price

1) There is a smug satisfaction in knowing that you beat the stats. it gives you a sense of enpowernment.

2) you actually can have money left over at the end of the month.

3). You have a sense of security knowing that if something happens,you have food In the house -- anything from getting sick and not feeling well enough to go to the store, to not getting your paycheck, or weather not permitting the grocery stores to get deliveries or any of the million things that could go wrong.

4) you know you have made the best use of your grocery money and have been able free up some money for something else you want or need.

5) you are teaching your kids life skills that will carry with them the rest of their lives. A millionaire boss of mine one time asked me why my children worked when they were in high school. I told her that we weren't rich enough to give them everything, so the best I could do was teach them how to work and how to make the best use of what they did have.

My mother always said that we all pay our dues, sooner or later. No one gets through life without their share of rocky roads. 1-2 price foods can smooth over a rocky road, or just make your life better. You can cook faster, or more efficiently, or just enjoy trying a new recipe.

I just wish that I could figure out how to reach more people.

Thanks for stopping by

I'll post more recipes later.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Now that you have 1/2 price food, what do you do with it?

Yesterdays food jaunt saved 1/2. Now, what to do with it.

I took a mental inventory of my fridge and am going to make a weeks meal plans.

1) sausage, corn on the cob, red potatoes, blueberry cobbler for desert.( I fried some of last weeks sausage, microwaved corn om the cob, added potatoes cut in 1-2 to the sausage and cooked them, then added corn, broken into thirds. Sprinkled with parsley.

Corn .67, sausage 1.67, potatoes .30. Blueberries 4.00. 6.64

2) clam chowder, crusty bread. Berry cup. ( blues from this week and others from last)

Use 2 cans of minced clams, potatoes , I slice bacon and milk. The clams were 1 buck a can, the potatoes were ten pounds for 2.00,, the milk was 2.19 a gallon the berries were 11.99 less 20 percent for a 1/2 flat. The bread was from the bread store last week. Frozen. 4.22

3) baked salmon, rice, frozen mixed veggies. Coleslaw. Coleslaw was .79, salmon was 5 bucks, frozen veggies were 1.00 for 12 ounces. Rice was bulk in the pantry.  6.79

4) chicken, green salad, potato salad, coleslaw.  3.79

5) baked breakfast burritos. Taco sauce, sour cream

8 mushrooms, sliced, green onions, green pepper, garlic. Sauté veggies until limp in a T olive oil. Set aside and keep warm. Beat 8 eggs and 1/4 cup sour cream in a bowl. Stir on 1/4 cup Mexican cheese and 3 T taco sauce. Put on a frying pan and cook until eggs are set. Add veggies. Spoon mixture down the center of 4 large flour tortillas. Place seam side down in baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 for 5 minutes until cheese has melted.

Low cost: substitute any veggies that sound Tex Mex to you. Any peppers, corn, ?
Eggs were 1.00 a dozen, large red pepper was .79 . I have dried hot peppers. Corn from the three for a dollar. I keep flour tortillas in the fridge from Costco. Serve with Baked bananas for desert.  2.55

6) Spaghetti with red sauce, parm cheese, garden vegetable salad ( last weeks
Crusty bread.

Garden vegetable salad
2/3 cup zucchini , sliced
2/3 cup sliced, blanched mushrooms
1/2 a large tomato, cut into pieces
Green pepper, celery, onion
Toss in bowl.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 T vinegar
1/2 tsp oregano

1/4 EACH tsp of salt, pepper, garlic powder
Mix and pour over veggies. Let set while you make the main dish.

Pasta was .88 , sauce is .78. Zucchini was a 1 a pound if your neighbor doesn't have a ton of it lol

7) Zesty Steak Salad, fluffy muffins

1 pound steak, sliced thin into strips. 
1/3 cup W sauce
1 medium onion , julienned or1/2 a  red onion in rings
1/2 a lartge  green pepper, julienned
1T butter
shredded lettuce
salsa if desired. 

Marinate meat in w sauce.  Saute onion, green pepper, in butter.  add sliced meat stir fry until done. 
Toss with lettuce and add tomato.  5.50

This averages 4.74 a meal.  It does not include, oil, vinegar, or spices.  Vinegar is three dollars plus change  a gallon at costco.  Spices I either get a the dollar store, or at Costco in bulk.  Store them in a dark, dry place away from the stove or oven.    Sour cream is at Costco in bulk for really cheap. Taco sauce is really cheap at the dollar store. 

Thanks for stopping by

Friday, July 27, 2012

Specials I just found 7/25

Just for you at Safeways.com has a lot of specials worth talking about.

Eggs are a buck.
Barilla pasta is .88 limit 10
.50 off two Safeway frozen veggies (I have not checked the reg price yet, but there is a reg coupon for them too. I don5 know if you can double dip, I suspect not.)
Milk 2.19
1.00 off best foods
2.50 off farmers garden pickles ( I'm going to check them out too)
salad is .79

Also, BARTELLS has minced clams for a buck and my husbands roast beef hash for two bucks...yuk...he eats that when I go out with the girls LOL

Thanks for checking in


Cookimg for two

I think it is really hard after you have been cooking for a family to get used to cooking for two. Although it hasn't happened to me much, our family just seems to be growing imstead of shrinking. lol.

These recipes are for two, but can be doubled if you have four.

Cranberry Chicken

In plastic bag, combine

1/2 cup cranberry juice
1T soy sauce
2garlic cloves

Add two 1/2chicken breasts and torn to coat. Refrigerate 8 hours.

Put chicken in pan and bake uncovered at 350 for an hour, or until chicken is done.

Serve with rice. ( add craisens and nuts to the rice )

Cream of broccoli soup ( a good way to get veggies I to a non vegetarian!)

2 cups chopped broccoli, 2 cups chicken stock.

Steam broccoli until a bit past the crisp tender stage, add to chicken stock.Cool slightly - 10 min. Process in food processor until creamy.

Add broccoli mixture back to pan and add 1-2 cup milk. Heat over low heat until hot.

Garnish with a teaspoon of sour cream and parsley or chives.

Biscuit Muffins

1 cup self rising flour ..**
2T mayo
1/2 cup milk.

Put flour in a bowl. Cut in mayo. Add milk and stir just until moist.
Pour in four greased muffin cups and bake at 425 for 14 to 16 minutes.

** self rising flour is expensive. Substitute 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt and 1 cup flour.

Apple crisp for two

2 large tart apples, peeled and sliced.
1T lemon juice

2T brown sugar
2T oatmeal
2T butter, melted
Dash of cinnamon.

Place apple in small baking pan. Add lemon juice.

Combine dry ingredients and butter. Sprinkle over apples.
Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 u til apples are tender.


Lemon juice is far less expensive in a bottle, than it is to squeeze your own.

You can double up on recipes in the oven. My mother used to always cook meatloaf, baked potatoes and acorn squash together in the oven. Wrap the potatoes in foil and cut acorn squash in half and put butter, brown sugar in the cavity and sprinkle with cinnamon. We didn't even care that we were eating squash. LOL

If you don't have an ingredient, consider a replacement before you run to the store for it. Apple juice could be substituted for the cranberry juice in the chicken recipe.

I might add some parm to the muffins.

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave me a comment and tell me what you WA t to see on the blog. I know if you aren t in the pacific Northwest our grocery ads aren't of
Interest to you.


our grocery adds aren't of interest to you.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The future..without a crystal ball

I read an article last night on the drought. According to this article the Feds say that beef prices have taken a hike...duh. Like we hasn't already figured that out ,
Some 6.9 percent. Chicken took a 4.2 percent hike.

Their stats say that prices of food went down in 2009 and went up overall 2.7 percent from June 2010 -2011. I don't know about their overall stats. I do know that the price comparisons I have done between 2009 and 2011 are up 13 percent. In 2009 I could get hamburger for 3/5.00 at QFC. Now the price is 2.29 on sale for 80 percent. Corn used to be 6/1 in season. Now we are lucky to get it for 3/1.00. I started out in the 70's allowing .39 cents a pound for fresh veggies, if they were over that, I bought something else, then it was .69. One it's a dollar and sometimes I have to break my rule to get apples. The one thing that should be cheap in Washington.

Because of the worst drought in 25 years, we will probably see anything connected to soy and corn take a hike. I am not going to panic and start horsing at this time.
My normal stock will take care of us for a while.

The government might subsidize like they have in the past. If not, we homemakers have got a real knack for adjusting. If you look in old cookbooks written during 2
WW 2, there are all kinds of recipes for the things that were in short supply. That s how red velvet cake came I to being. Someone wanted to make a cake that resembled chocolate cake without using chocolate!

Exactly what foods will be impacted by the drought, I really don't know. But, I will worry about it when it happens. In the 70's we used tvp to stretch hamburger. Yuk.it wasn't very good.

This article reminded me of what I already have been saying, but in different terms. The grocery stores put items on sale as loss leaders . They do thisbto get you to shop at their store. They are assuming that you are going to shop at one store a week and spend money on high priced items too.

When you only buy the specials, and shop two stores you beat the system. There are still going to be some things that you have to have, but if you avoid the high priced things, you will win out.

Stocking when something is really cheap helps us get through times when it's not cheap and will help your food budget.

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment or e mail and let me know what you want to see on this blog.



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Getting started on a dime

First, I thought I might talk about how you start acumulating a stock when you haven't many resources.  I managed to do it on a dime years ago. Just start by omiting the junk food (popcorn is an inexpensive substitute) and not buying anything that is premade or  a high price. Invest what is left over from your grocery money into something that is low priced.  If there is nothing that particular week, save the money for when it is.  The old envelope trick.  Slowly one can at a time, you will accumulate a stock. 

If you are on SNAP, just buy what you need from sale items and add what you have to have.  You
don't need pudding cups, fruit cup, potato chips  and hanburger helper. LOL.  It might me a culture shock for the kids, but they will get over it and learn to eat healthy foods.  There are a lot of kids shows that talk about healthy food and you will be doing your kids a favor.  Lessons learned now will follow them the rest of their lives.   You will be surprised how much you can save for a stock.  It is really comforting not to worry about where your next meal is coming from; that stock gives you a sense of security.  Grocery stores want you to buy the junk food, they have the highest markup. 

My dad had a job where your worked when there was work.  My mother was a stay at home mother and we never knew she was economizing. We always had good quality food.  We never had snack food or ready made food.  We thought everyone ate like that.  We all learned to buy groceries by her example. 

Off the soapbox. 

Meals from Grocery ads

Eggs are 1.29 a dozen at QFC. 
Chicken is .89 Northwest grown. 
corn is 3/1.00.( 1/2 an ear is a serving) pick large ones.
lettuce is a dollar. 

Lettuce 16 ounces for .99-salad
blueberries 2.99
Ground Beef 2.29 pound

1)  Quiche. leaf lettuce salad with blueberries and balsamic vinegrette. (Bisquick Box )
      ssusage from costco )
2)  BBQ'd chicken thights and legs, corn on cob, salad
3) Chicken Breast, Mashed Potatoes, Brocolli ( last week's 1.00 a pound)
4) Pizza - with last weeks motz. cheese, chicken and red peppers. 
5) Cheeseburger macaroni, green beans, (last week)
6) Taco Soup
7)  shrimp stir fry with yellow summer squash, red peppers, celery and carrot.  , rice

When it is a slow week at the grocery store bargain parade, rely on  previous weeks bargains to supplement.  If you store your veggies properly, they will last two weeks.  --except maybe lettuce. 

thanks for stopping by


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What's on sale where !

Surveying the ads for this week.


Country style ribs. 1.97
Blueberries 3.00
Yellow squash / zucchini 1.00
Black olives 1.00 ( I have not done the comparison between sliced and whole olives. I suspect that the slices are cheaper, because of less air and juice in the can.)


Hamburger helper 1. ( it's still too expensive )
Buns 1.00
Frozen veggies 1.
Chicken .89
Blueberries 3.00
Lettuce 1.00
Corn 3/1.00

SAFEWAYS &&5.00 off 20.00 purchase.

Milk .99 1/2 gallon
Pasta 12-16 ounces .88 ( get the 16 ounces)
eggs 18/ 1.99 coupon

Best foods 1.99

Spinach and salad .99
2.79 lean ground sirloin
Grapes 1.49
Tomato 1.29
blueberries 3.00


Chicken .79

Not a lot out there
Remember to cross off everything that is cheaper somewhere else. Mark coupons, sign up for jfu. And bring the ads and coupons.

I suspect there is going to be big sales in the next few weeks. Canned tomatoes are still a buck.

Thanks for stopping by


Monday, July 23, 2012

The proof is in the pictures

My daughter and I decided to do an experiment. She volunteered to make the cheeseburger Mac from the box and I made cheeseburger Mac from scratch. We both took 27 minutes. We both used already cooked meat.

My recipe cost 1.75 excluding the meat. It made 9- one cup servings for a cost per 5 servings of .97. It contained vegetables, tomatoes, tomato paste, macaroni, and a cup of real cheese and spices. I added a salad and a piece of crusty bread for a total cost of 2.47 plus the cost of the meat.  ( 4.72 for the meal)

Her box cost 2.33 excluding the meat. It made 5 servings for a cost of 2.33. It contained macaroni, 2cups of milk, and 1.57 ounces of a sauce mix that contained cornstarch,salt, flour,sugar, Cheese whey, lactic acid,salt. Tomato, msg,flavor, citric acid, hydrogenated soy oil, modified corn starch, paprika, spice, colors, ,monoglycerides, cheddar cheese (milk,cheese cultures, salt enzymes)
cheese, buttermilk, cheese , milk, cheese cultures, salt,silicon dioxide, sodium phosphate and modified cheddar cheese. They have to list the ingredients in the order of volume. The first ingredient on the list is cornstarch, the last ones are cheese cultures, salt and enzymes and words I cannot pronounce. 1.57 ounces is translated to two tablespoons. 

The top dish is the box mix.; the bottom is the scratch recipe. 
You be the judge. 

Muffins..the quick breakfast food

I thought that I would talk about muffins. Buying muffins could get really expensive. At THE COFFEE shop, they are really pricey, and even at Costco, they are not cheap, and full of calories. Muffins are really easy to make. If you are short on time you can put the same batter in a loaf pan and save on cleanup . There are silicone liners that save on paper cup liners;and as a added bonus, you can sneak veggies into an picky eater. Lol

Taste of Home's ultimate freezer cookbook has two recipes for muffims that are really either inexpensive or full of good ingredients. Monkey muffins ( what a fun name for kids) have ripe bananas and peanut butter and morning muffins have carrots.coffee nit muffins could be adapted to be really cheap too without loosing flavor. (Costco has it on their magazine rack for 30 per cent off)

You can vary any basic muffin recipe or Bisquick base by adding ingredients. Change orange juice for coffee or another juice that sounds good to you. Add or subtract nuts. Replace blueberries with chopped apple.

Cheddar muffins

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1cup buttermilk or substitute
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1T honey or substitute
4oz shredded cheddar cheese or substitute other cheese.

Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. To avoid tough muffins, don't over mix. The dough can be lumpy, but there should be no dry spots.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Top of muffin will spring back when touched.

Raspberry muffins

2 cups bisquit mix
2 T sugar
1/4 cup butter, cold
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup raspberry jam ( you could substitute any other jam too. )

Confectioners sugar glaze if desired.

Combine bisquit mis and sugar. Cut in butter. Add milk and stir until combined. Spoon about a tablespoon into each muffin cup. Top with a tsp jam. Spoon another tablespoon of batter over jam. Bake at 425 degrees 12-14 minutes. Glaze if desired.

Rhubarb oatmeal muffins

1cup flour
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2cup brown sugar
2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup of orange juice
1tsp orange peel
1cup diced rhubarb. ( you can use frozen)

1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup brn sugar
2T chopped nuts
2T butter
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Combine dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Combine wet ingredients into dry ingredients until mixed without dry spots. Don't over mix. Put batter in muffin
Cups 2/3 full. Combine topping ingredients, sprinkle on top of batter in the cups.
Bake at 350 18-20 minutes until done.

Any muffin basic dough can have a variety of ingredients added. Nuts, dried fruit( cranberries, raisins, cherries etc).

Muffins can be frozen and quickly thawed. Or keep in a plastic container for a few days.

Thanks for stopping by


the substitute for buttermilk is 1 T vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to equal one cup. 
Let stand 5 minutes before using. 

The substitute for honey is (for 1 cup) use  1 1/4 cups granulated sugar with 1 cup of any liquid called for in the recipe.  If recipe calls for a tablespoon, use I tablespoon of product.  1Tablespoon honey equals 1 1/4 tablespoon sugar with 1T Milk. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Italian dishes..on the cheap

Italian food and Tex Mex are foods that have always been kind to the Budget.
We all remember the spaghetti dinners for a croud. Church dinners or family ones. Italian has come into it's own with a lot more sophisticated dishes that are still budget pleasers. Often times,dishes that maybe a little pricy can be adapted to be within your guidelines for a budget meal and still not Change the flavor of the dish.

Pasta Carbonara

2.5 cups penne

4 bacon strips, diced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

1/2cup sour cream, 1/4 cup 2%milk
1/3 cup butter
Hot pepper sauce
Green onions

Cook pasta until done. in skillet, cook bacon remove from pan.Drain the pan, reserving some fat. Cook mushrooms and remove from pan. Add sour cream, milk, butter, parsley, garlic, hot pepper sauce and salt.
Stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Stir in bacon, mushrooms ,and cheese.
Toss pasta in sauce. Top with grated parm and parsley.

Note: you can use low fat sour cream and less butter. there are 13 grams per serving without the butter , using regular sour cream and bacon. You could use low fat sour cream, turkey bacon and omit the butter or use a substitute. It just wouldn't be as rich.

Balsamic chicken breasts

1/4 cup flour
Salt, pepper
4 chicken breast halves - 4 ounces EA ( chicken breasts sometimes are 1 a pound at Safeways. It's not hard to debone them. Run your sharp knife right next to the bone, pulling the meat away from the bone as you go. )

1T oil
1 small onion, sliced (rings)
1/4 cup water
2T balsamic vinegar (dollar store)

1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1/8 tsp dried rosemary.

In large plastic bag, place flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken breast.
Place on rack to rest.

In large skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chicken on both sides until juices run clear. Remove and keep warm.

in the pan, cook onion until soft. Add water and deglaze he pan.
Add vinegar, and spices. Simmer a couple of minutes until sauce is slightly thickened. Pour over chicken.

Italian sausage and vegetables. ( good for garden season)

1 pound sausage. ( tubular like johnsville etc )
1can diced tomatoes, undrained.
6 medium red potatoes, cut in half
4 small zucchini, cut into one inch pieces
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into wedges
Garlic powder
Crushed red pepper flakes
1T dry bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated pepper jack cheese

Place already cooked sausage In Slow cooker. Add veggies and seasonings. Cover and cook on low 6 hours or until veggies are done. Remove sausage and cut into 1 inch pieces. Return to slow cooker and add bread crumbs. Stir. Serve on bowls with grated cheese.

Note: sausage was 42 ounces for 5 bucks at Safeways bucks this week- Friday only special. Safeways always has five dollar specials on Fridays. Usually a bakery treat, and some kind of a dinner item.

Thanks for stopping by


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Disecting Cheeseburger macaroni mix

In order to expose the true value of cooking from scratch and the actual cost of dinner mixes, I bought a box of  a cheeseburger dinner mix.

The actual cost of the box was 2.09. That works out to 5.77 cents a pound for the whole box.

The amount of macaroni in it is 4.23 ounces, about .21 cents

When you subrtract the amount of the macaroni, that leaves you 1.57 OZ for the sauce. That means, that you are paying 1.88 for 1.57 ounces of cornstarch, salt, and spices, dry milk and cheese powder. The ingredients have to be listed in order of volume. Cheese is the last on the list. There is more cornstarch than cheese powder and the total of all of it is 1.57 OUNCES.

That's about 13.28 a pound for cornstarch, tomato powder, salt, parsley, paprika and cheese powder.

You still have to add the hamburger. And milk.

Scratch hamburger macaroni is cheaper, more nutritious and doesn't take much more time.
You open two packages instead of one to make the same version.

My Cheeseburger Macaroni

Cook 1/2 lb macaroni until done.

Sauté 1 celery stick, finely chopped and 1 slice red pepper, chopped in 1T olive oil until soft, add tsp each of onion powder and garlic powder.

Add 3/4 pound hamburger and cook until no longer pink (or use already cooked hamburger.

Add 1 can of diced tomatoes,drained and 1/2 can tomato paste.

You can add the tomato "juice "to the pasta water if you don't want to waste it.
Simmer 15 min until flavours blend.

Add cooked macaroni and pasta water if needed to make it the right consistency.
Add 1 cup (2 oz) of grated cheese and cover. Cook on low heat until cheese is melted

1.75 for other ingredients plus hamburger and you have more nutritious food.
You are getting a whole cup of tomatoes,plus the tomato paste instead of less than a tsp of dried tomato and a cup of real cheese.

Serves six.

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, July 20, 2012

And you buy your groceries...WHERE?

You would be surprised how many stores carry food . Some are cheaper and some have a limited amount. The Dollar Tree stores have a couple of isles of food. Some of it is off brands and I usually steer clear of off brands. Some of the items are more money than what you can get them on sale for at the regular supermarket.

My daughter goes there for school supplies. She picked up a box of " Larry the cable guy"'s beer bread for a joke for her father. I fixed it , not wanting to waste money. It is actually good. It is kind of like cornbread, but with a finer texture and different taste. I understand from someone, that the cornbread is not as good. 

Salami and pepperoni is a dollar a package instead of the 3.50 a package that it is in the store. It's a name brand and has a far out pull date. I always check pull dates on food.

As a side note, I always get facial tissue and other cleaning products and paper products there because they are cheaper. What I don't get there I get in bulk at Costco. Almost always, soap etc is more expensive at the grocery store than getting it at the dollar store or at one of the department stores ( like k mart or wall mart.) I don't count these items in my grocery budget, and try to keep them to a minimum.

BARTTELS sometimes has good buys on a select group of food items.

Basically I am saying keep your eye open everywhere you go and don't pass up a bargain just because it is in an unusual place. Stick to name brands that you have tried before.

I would draw the line at the side of the road! Lol.

Someone asked me why I do this blog. I don't get any money for doing this blog.

I learned how to shop from my mother. During the Nixon era, when we had double digit inflation, I was a single mother, we had double-digit inflation, I didn't get a raise in three years , and seldom got child support. Something had to give with my budget and since I had the cheapest car I could find and had already turned off the heat in some rooms, there wasn't much else I could economize on. Unfortunately, a lot of middle class people were in the same boat. I read everything I could get my hands on about saving money on groceries. After the crisis was over , it was a habit and became a game that freed up some resources for other things.

To make a long story short, I am doing this in the hopes that I can help just one person that is in the dire straights that I was in to get through a hard time. 

The single mom that doesn't want to take a second job to make ends meet and would rather be doing something with her kids.

The senior that has little left after paying medications reaching the donut hole.

The family that is trying to save for a condo.

The family that can't quite afford the orthodontic bill or college Fund for their kids.

The family whos breadwinner is laid off.

I am sure there are more situations, but you get the point.

Whether it is a game, you enjoy the recipes or the time savings, or you really need it, I hope that you enjoy the blog.

Thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Meals from this weeks grocery ads.

First a little heads up. My Safeways " Just for You " just arrived in my e mail box. Cheese is 3.91 for 2 pounds. If I am getting a lot in the drawer, I try to get a white cheese if it is available.

Meals 2 chicken or pork, two beef, 2 vegetarian, 1fish . If I use this as a guideline, it is easier to think of what to cook.

1) Mac and cheese, broccoli.
2) Quiche with ham and cheese, mixed green AMD blueberry salad
3) chicken legs and thighs, corn on cab, vegetable salad
4) Roast chicken, mashed potatoes , tomato and zucchini stir fry.
5) BBQ pork sandwiches (Pork loin sliced thin heated in BBQ sauce on hamburger buns.
6) Pasta Puttanesca, salad *
7) Meatball subs, roasted red potatoes, vegetable sticks**

My time is up, thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment so I know what you might want to see.


** cut red or new potatoes in half or quarters to make them about the same size.
On a foil lined baking pan with sides, toss with olive oil and steak seasoning OR
Thyme. Roast at 400 degrees until done. About 15 minutes or more depending on
your oven and the size of the potatoes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wednesday: this weeks ads and Chocolate Decadence.

First:  This weeks ads

grapes 1.99
strawberrues 4 lbs/ 7.99
Blueberries 1.99
Chicken breasts .99
Corn 2/ 1.00

Blueberries 2# 4.99
Milk 1.00 1/2 gallon  ( 2.00)
Green beans .99
zuchinni  .99
Pork Shoulder Roast 1.49
corn 2/ .88


Pork Loin 1.79
Strawberries 1.99
Plums .99
Raspberries 1/2 flat 11.99
$5.00 FRIDAY
32 oz grated cheese 5.
2# blues 5.00
cake 5.00


London Broil 3.00
corn 3/1.00 Coupon
Butter 1.88 Coupon
radish .50
grapes 1.98
Brocolli 1.00

remember to cross off anything that you dont like or need; and cross off anything that is less expensive somewhere else.  Get down to the two cheapest stores. 

I might have to go to three of them.  I want the milk, the veggies and the pork loin., 
This works for me because I have to go to QFC area for other things and it is on the way to Safeways.  Top is on the way home. 

Now for Chocolate Decadence.  This is not what I would call inexpensive desert.  It is a good one for a progressive dinner it cooks in the crock pot and is warm.  Just right for ice cream a top. 

1 package chocolate cake mix
1 8 oz carton sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup water
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 package (4 serving size INSTANT pudding and pie filling mix.

Coat 4.51 quart crock pot with cooking spray.  Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well.
Transfer to crock pot.  , Cover and cook on low 3-4 hours or on High 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. 
Serve hot or warm with ice cream.  Makes 12 servings. 

Thanks for stopping by


Please pass this blog to a friend.  Let me know if you want to hear about something else food shopping related.   Leave a comment or E mail. 

Cook once- Eat for a month and other recipes.

First, let's recap the basics. The typical family of four (two school age children and two middle aged parents) would spend $132.70 per week according to USDA 2009 stats for the thrifty plan.

I actually have three adults in our household and a child. We actually spend about $ 65.00 on food. I have been spending $75 , but we have developed too large of a stock and I will be reducing my grocery bill until we go back to a more realistic stock.
$128.80 ( 2009 stats) . That's about 1/2.

The basic plan to achieve this is three fold. Plan and organize, shop wisely, and cook from scratch.

1) Plan your meals
2) Stock your non perishables at the lowest prices.
3) Only buy real food-- not convenience food .
4) cook from scratch.

I went to a class years ago on cookimg for a day and freezing your meals so that you have meals for a month. A regular freezer in your fridge will hold dinners for a month for a family of four. You package most everythimg in gallon bags and lay them flat.
Personally, I don't like this concept because I don't have the stamina to cook for eight hours. It is more efficient, but probably best done with a buddy. I call it, marathon cooking.

The new TASTE OF HOME cookbook (The ultimate freezer Cookbook) ( Costco for 7.00)
On the magazine rack, talks about it too.

I, however, do batch cook. If I grind or buy a lot of hamburger, I will make meatballs or a meatloaf, taco meat, and some just plain hamburger.
Chicken can be roasted off and the remainder of a roast chicken meal can become chicken cubes or pieces for pizza, casseroles, or chicken pot pie and soup stock. I buy sausage in quanity at Costco and fry it all, bag it into 1/2 lb bags and use it for pizza, egg dishes, soup.

Roast beef can be a roast one night and thinly sliced and frozen for roast beef a jus sandwiches other nights.

When I want a really quick meal, I run cold water over the food saver bag of meat while I make some a jus in a small frypan on the stove. When the meat is thawed enough to separate it, I turn off the a jus and let the meat " heat" while I make a green salad and toast hard buns.

Pork loin becomes pork chops, pork cubes, pork roast and BBQ pork sandwiches.

All of these meats come in at around $2.00 a pound average.

Next time, chocolate decadence... A real treat.

Thanks for stopping by, tell a friend you think might benefit, and let me know what you might want to see here.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Breakfast from scratch

Breakfast is usually coming in cheaper than dinner costwise. We have breakfast for dinner at least once every two weeks. I do usually make it Sunday breakfast fare.

New cookbook on the magazine shelves is taste of home "Ultimate Freezer Cookbook". It is 30% off at Costco. I don't think you have to have a freezer to benefit from this book.

Freezer waffles are a lot cheaper than ready made. You can cook when you have time to make it less hectic when you don't have time. Also a recipe for homemade sausage. It uses pork butt. Unless you can get pork butt for a buck a pound, it is not worth it. Unless maybe you can control the fat better.

Avoid freezing milk based casseroles, potatoes, raw produce, and cooked pasta. I do freeze red and green peppers without a problem.

Breakfasts for dinner.

1) quiche, mixed greens salad with fruit and a raspberry or balsamic vinagrette

2) apple spiced waffles, sausage links. Fruit.

3) andouille egg burritos.

4) bacon, eggs, hash browns, toast ( hash browns from scratch are a pain. I either use
Hash brown patties that ivget at Safeways or I get dehydrated ones at business Costco.

Regular breakfast we use muffins, banana- blueberry bread, oatmeal with fruit,
You would be surprised what fruit and veggies you can hide in muffins.
We don't buy cold cereal. Maybe anboccasional cherrio. Sugar coated cereal is one of the most expensive way to bust your budget, and not to healthy either.

Thanks for stopping by...

please leave a comment and let me know what you want me to talk about.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Meals from grocery ads

Basically a bargain isn't a bargain unless you eat it. I have been buying a lot of fruit lately because it is in season. We eat a lot of fruit for snacks and desert.

Making a meal plan helps ensure that you use up what you bought, nothing gets away from you, and you don't have to think about what to cook when you are tired. Just seven main dishes works. They don't have to be tied to a particular day of the week. I do plan a meal for a specific day if I know we are having company or we need to get our of the house before our regular mealtime.

Here goes based on this weeks specials.

1) roast chicken, leafy green salad with strawberries, mashed potatoes.

2) French toast, strawberries and blueberries, whip cream, bacon

3) shrimp stir fry with red pepper, carrots, and celery. Rice

4) chicken chimichangas with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, salsa.

5) BBQ pork sandwiches, sweet potato fries, carrot and celery sticks.

6) macaroni and cheese, glazed carrots, strawberry shortcake

7) spaghetti and meatballs, lettuce salad, French bread.

Most of these are 4 plus1 is 5.

Happy eating.

Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tex Mex using the leftover mashed potatoes from stuffed potato akins


1 egg
3Y milk
Chopped onion
1 can chopped chilie
10 saltiness crackers, crushed
4.5 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
3cups hot mashed potatoes
1 can mexicorn, drained
Green onions
1/2to 1cup grated cheese

Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.Pat into a greased 9x9 pan. Bake at 375 for 30 min, or until meat is no longer pink or has internal temp of 160 degrees.
Combine potatoes,corn and onions. Spread over meat.
Sprinkle with cheese and broil 6 in from heat 3-5 min until lightly browned.

I would use bread crumbs ( virtually free) instead of crackers.I would use less chilies.use leftover potatoes and add enough warm to make the three cups.
I would omit the onions and corn from the topping. Sprinkle regular corn and some chopped peppers to the top of the meat and then top with potatoes. Sprinkle green onions over the top of the finished product. Or use dried parsley instead.

Tex Mex recipes on the cheap.

Flour tortillias are cheapest at Costco. They are also cheap at grocery outlet and they carry smaller omes. WinCo had corn taco shells for a buck. Beans are .50 cents a can at TOP sometimes and often they are .67. Beans from scratch are about .50 to cook the same amou t. Cooked beans have a very small fridge life. If you have enough time to cook beans and use them in the same day, it works ; but using canned is more efficient. I got Tillimook cheese for 2.50 a pound at Albertsons. Safeways had their brand for 2.50 as well. Tex Mex can be healthy if you watch the cheese quanity and fry
Things with olive oil. Olive oil boosts your good cholesterol.


2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion chopped
2 cans tomato sauce
1can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1can diced tomatoes
1 can corn, undrained

Shredded cheese

Brown the meat and cook onions over medium heat until meat is no longer pink.
Add the cans of food.
Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Garnish with cheese and tortilla chips.
Makes 2.5 quarts, 10 servings

I would use 1/2 the ground beef and add another can of beans. You van cut flour tortillas into wedges and fry them yourself. Tortilla chips are often on sale.

Taco potato shells
3 large potatoes
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 pound ground beef
1 can ( 14-1/2 oz) diced tomatoes undrained
1 envelope taco seasoning equals 7tsp homemade.
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
2 green onions sliced

Scrub and pierce three potatoes. Bake at 375 degrees for an hour or until tender.
When cool enough to handle,cut in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out pulp,leaving a thin shell ( refrigerate pulp for another use).
Brush inside and out of potato with butter. Place cut side up on an un greased baking sheet. Bake un covered,at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Meanwhile,in a skillet cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink;drain. Add tomatoes and taco seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat;simmer, uncovered,for 20 minutes. Spoon into potato shells; sprinkle with cheese. Bake,uncovered 5 to 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Top with sour cream and onions. Yield: 6 servings.

I would bake the potatoes the first time in the microwave. Use homemade taco seasoning
The recipe is in last months blogs. My ground beef is usually been cooked a d defatted already.

Meals from the grocery trip next time

Thanks for stopping by


Friday, July 13, 2012

Things your grocer doesn't want you to know

I used to be the accountant for a wholesale grocer years ago. It probably will come to no surprise to you that the stores have spent great time, money and effort to ensure that you spend more money at their store.

They know that most people go right when they enter a store.
They know that the longer you spend in a store, the more money you will spend. That's why some stores are constantly changing their layout.

The more people you bring with you, the more you will spend.

People are lazy. They look in the middle of the shelf. Grocery stores get "rent" called slotting fees from manufacturers to show their product on the eye level shelves.
So look down and up on the shelves for the better buys.

It is no accident that the toys are next to the kids sugary cereal. Or that they have impulse buys by the checkout lines to tempt you while you are waiting.

There are stores that shall remain a secret that have a 42 percent markup. Probably because the more exoctic foods and the fancier the store, the more markup they have to have to make a profit.

Never go shopping when you are too hungry. You will be tempted by too many impulse buys.

That is one reason going to the store every two days to buy two days worth of dinners is a budget mistake. Another is it wastes time and gas. Going to a store only because they have the friendliest checkout personnel is another dumb thing. If going to the grocery store is your social time, you need to get a life! Lol

After you get yourself set up, you will find that you spend less time on the whole FOOD thing than you did before.

My whole life isn't getting food cheap. I run two businesses, write a blog, belong to a service organization for women, work, and run a house and Im a grandmother.
I just budget my time, like I budget my food budget.

I found a book on ground meat recipes for 3.00. It has a lot of good recipes. Anytime you can find an inexpensive bool from "Taste of Home" it is a good investment. I have written for them, and many other home cooks have as well. Their recipes for the most part are down to earth recipes that are very doable. If they call for a mix, adjust your recipe.

Green Chili Flautas
(Taste of Home)

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1cup grated cheese
1can chopped green chilies, drained
1/2 tsp ground cumin

10 7" flour tortillas
1/3 cup butter or margarine,melted.

Toppings: lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream

Cook meat in skillet until no longer pink. Add cheese and chilies, and cumin.
Set aside.
Warm tortillas. (30-60 seconds on a paper towel in the microwave.
Brush both sides with butter.
Spoon about 1/3 cup meat mixture down the center of the tortilla. Roll tightly.
Place seam side down in a 9x13 pan.
Bake uncovered at 500 degrees for 5-7 minutes until golden brushing once with butter.

Notes : I would use a little less hamburger and cheese. I would also use olive oil instead of butter or a combination of olive oil and butter. Maybe olive oil to soften the tortilla and butter to brown them. Tortillas are cheapest in that size at grocery outlet. Larger ones are cheaper at Costco. Green chilies are often on sale especially around the 5th of May. I want to pay .50. You could also use chopped or shredded chicken that you add some taco seasoning to. ( then I would omit the cumin.)

More Tex- Mex tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to adjust a recipe

Many recipes sound really good, but have real expensive ingredients or start with a mix. A lot of times a minor adjustment will make the same dish just as good, but cheaper.

Blueberry pie or cobbler first comes into mind. Blueberries have been inexpensive a lot lately. Blueberry pie filling is a little blueberries and a lot of " sauce".
all that "sauce" consists of is sugar and cornstarch. To make a blueberry cobbler, grease a 8x8 pan. Put washed and drained blueberries in it. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of sugar (less if using sugar substitute) and a tablespoon of cornstarch. Toss berries.
Make the cobbler part from the Bisquick box. Put the blueberry mixture in the oven for an extra 5 minutes, or until the berries are bubbly. Then add your cobbler mixture and finish baking off. My daughter and I tag team this and have a cobbler together in five minutes flat!

You can do the same thing with blackberries. They may need more sugar.

Any recipe can be made cheaper if you substitute for the ready made part. Cream of mushroom soup is often the base of some casseroles. Use a thin white sauce.
White sauce is 1T fat ( butter, olive oil,vegetable oil) in a saucepan. Barely heat and add 1T flour and make a paste. Whisk in quickly a cup of milk, cream or chicken stock and milk mixture and whisk until thick. This makes 1cup of sauce. Multiply the recipe for how many cups you need.

This is the base for Mac and cheese. Make two cups of white sauce , after it is thick, add grated cheese. I use whatever cheese is in the cheese drawer of the fridge. Bits and pieces of different cheeses make a good Mac and cheese. I top it with dry bread crumbs mixed with parsley and parm that I have run across the micro plane. It makes the cheese real fine grate. Bake at 350 until heated through. About a half hour.

Often times if I don't have a fresh herb in my garden, I use more dried herbs instead.

Bisquick biscuits are really fast and easy and a lot less expensive than the ones out of a tube.

Hamburger helper is noodles and sauce. It often costs more than the meat you put In It.

Toppings to cover chicken are just breadcrunbs mixed with herbs and cheese. A few minutes work, and the are 4.00 a pound where I looked.

Take a calculator and figure out how much some things in small packages cost per poumd. It will really surprise you.

Thanks for stopping by


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Oops, I forgot albertsons, the best buys this week.


Usually I don't find any bargains a Albertsons. My daughter found this.

Peaches, nectarines, plums .88
Chicken of the sea tuna .59
Eggs .99 limit 2
Tillamook cheese 4.99
Blue berries 2.99
Corn 2/1.00
Grapes 1.99
Strawberries 4/7.99

Thanks forcstopping by


This weeks grocery ads


Eggs .99 with ooupon, limit 1
Sirloin tip roast, buy 1, get 1. 2.50 lb
Pork chops 1.69
Coleslaw mix 1.00


80 percent beef 2.79

Butter 2.00
Chicken .99


Plums .99
Chicken .88
Beef chuck 2.49

Cheese 5.00 2 lb. Limit 4. FRIDAY ONLY
Turkey burgers 3 ilbs 5--FRIDAY ONKY
Shrimp 5.00 lb
Cake 5.00

One for a price comparison. Roasted chicken is 5.00 at Safeways, 5.99 at TOP.

At Safeways raw chicken is .88 a pound. Roasted chickens are 3 pounds. That's a minimum of 1.67 a pound. Almost twice as expensive as the raw chicken.

It takes about ten minutes to put a chicken In the oven. That's 15.00 an hour you are making for your labor! Not to mention you can get a 5 pound chicken and get a better
meat to bone ratio.

80 percent hamburger is 2.69, sirloin tip roast is 2.49. You can grind your own and be .20 cents a lb cheaper and with a whole lot less fat.

2.69 lb equals 3.23 dollars for meat, 2.49 for your ground sirloin is 2.66. .57 a lb difference and a lot healthier.

9 percent hamburger is 4.11 at WinCo. The difference is 1.62 tines 10 pounds is about
32.00 an hour for your time.

The chicken can be cooking while you are grinding the meat!

That's all for now

Thanks for stopping by


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Grocery outlet /lynnwod buys

Reduced fat Hebrew national franks 2.49
Tomato paste 2/1.00
Hamburger buns 1.09
Texas toast .49. Can u spell French toast!!
Red pepper large . 79

I saved over half!!

If you have questions or comments please feel free to comment below

Thanks for stopping by


Meals planned from the grocery ads

I plan my meals from the grocery ads after I finish shopping and putting away the groceries. Fruits and veggies in fresh proof containers, meat in the freezer, or set in the fridge for cooking later. Packaged goods, or canned goods in the pantry. Our pantry is over the top so its time to slow up the stock. That means that I am spending less than 75 a week for 4 people.

I plan after shopping in case I find a really good deal on something I need to use up quickly, or something that was on sale was either gone when I got to the store, or was not to my liking.

Not having a plan is the quickest way to fall off the budget wagon because it is hard to think of the answer to what's for dinner when you are tired.

Imaginary grocery ad

Chicken breasts .99
Tuna .88
Country spareribs 1.99
Eggs 1.29 a dozen
Cheese 4.95 2 pounds


1) chicken parmigiana ,noodles, green salad, French bread (6.00)
2) chicken veggie foil wraps, French bread (3.75)
3) BBQ spareribs, coleslaw , rice. (6.00)
4) tuna casserole, mixed frozen vegetables, (3.20)
5) skillet cheeseburger Mac, salad, bread (4.08)
6) quiche, designer salad ( field greens, strawberries, strawberry vinaigrette 5.00
7) tacos, refried beans (5.00)

1) 4 boneless chicken breast halves in 8x8 greased pan. Combine 1 can tomato paste, 3/4 cup water, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 T parsley flakes, 1/2 tsp EACH of Italian seasoning, oregano, pinch of red pepper flakes in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
Pour over chicken. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes at 400 degrees or until juices run clear and chicken is done. Sprinkle with 6 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of parm. ( I think that you can use less cheese and use 1/2 cup of tomato sauce or reserved pasta sauce instead. Adjust for the seasonings that are already in the sauce). Bake for an additional 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.

2) chicken veggie foil wraps.: flatten 4pieces of chicken breast. (1#) 1/2pound mushrooms, baby carrots, red peppers, salt and pepper thyme. Place chicken on double thickness of greased foil. Add the veggies on top. Seal inside pouch. Bake on cookie sheet at 375 for 20 minutes or until chicken is done.

3). Place spareribs in crockpot. Add a can of beer or chicken broth to cover. Cook on low 8 -10 hours. Take ribs out and carefully put on foil on broiler pan. Spread BBQ sauce on them and broil until sauce is bubbly.

4) tuna casserole , mixed veggies

5)cook 1/2 pound of macaroni . Sauté 1 stalk of celery , chopped;1/4 of red pepper, one carrot, chopped, garlic powder and onion powder in 2T olive oil until soft.
Add 1# hamburger and fry until no longer pink. Add 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 8 oz can tomato sauce. Simmer 10-15 minutes until flavors blend. Add 1 cup grated Mex cheese blend and cover and cook until cheese is melted.

6) ham quiche ( Bisquick box)
7) taco meat ready made by you. Fry hamburger.drain, pour boiling water over, drain. Return to pan. Add 2 rounded T taco seasoning. Use 3/4 pound. Add lettuce, tomato, cheese. Heat refried beans in microwave safe bowl in microwave until warm. Add skim of cheese and microwave until melted.

Total of seven meals is 33.03 or 4.72 a meal.

Thanks for stopping by


Monday, July 9, 2012

Cheap not inferior quality

My object is to find good food cheap ; not to find cheap food. There are some things that I will not compromise on. Hot dogs have a lot of "stuff" in them. I only buy nathans or Hebrew national. Hebrew national bothers me because they have less hot dogs in a package than hotdog buns do. Both are good quality. Not everyone carries nathans.

Chicken is the next thing. I only buy northwest chickens that are over 3 pounds -- usually five pounds. They last several meals and a lot can be done with chicken.

I usually stick to the bigger name brands of canned goods. Chicken of the sea tuna is good, but I found that hagan (TOP FOODS brand) is better than chicken of the sea. Bumble bee is good too

You don't have to eat cheap food to eat food cheap.

Eating on a budget can be more healthful than not eating on a budget. Snack and processed foods are usually not that good for you.

We live in a fast paced society. But there are ways to cook dinner fast without resorting to dinner in a box or fast food.

Thanks for stopping by

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Notes on shopping and recap

I have been reading every article, book, and cookbook on economy food since the 70's.
Some of them are Just a rehash of what I already knew, and some were downright comical.
Like who gets chicken parts for .28 cents a pound and just what part of the chicken is it? Lol

Some are really cheap, but not what I would consider good nutrition. I have tried to compile notes and observations that were middle of the road; not over the top health conscious, but not cheap hotdogs, 28 cent a pound chicken and hamburger once in a while.

That being said, here is an overview of my philosophy and some notes.

My mantra is never pay full price. I try for half at the checkouts. Being retired, I have more time than money, but if you aren't retired, the children can do some of the prep work and learn something in the process. The old native American adage, give a man a fish and he eats for one day ; teach a man to fish and he eats forever ( paraphrased) makes a lot of sense.

Stock anything that you use a lot of when it is the cheapest price. Stock as much as you will use until it goes on sale again, or as much as you will use before the expiration date. If I use the item once a week and it is rarely on sale, I will buy 24 of them so I have enough for 6 months. If I only use the item once a month, I might buy 4 - 6 . Keep a small spiral notebook and log the items that you use a lot, the size of the item, and where you got it for what price. Sometimes you will begin to see

Periodically during the week , take a quick overview of your perishables and use them or preserve them before they go bad. ( eat, freeze, dry ?)

Go to more than one store, research before you go, and plan your trips for gas conservation. Once a month to six weeks, go to the stores that are farther away from home and stock up . My list of stores would be WinCo, Costco, grocery outlet.
Certain things are consistently cheaper at these stores.

Plan meals and work in a few almost no effort meals for the days that you know are going to challenging.

Try to cook everything from scratch. Ready made food has preservatives and you usually pay dearly for someone else's labor. Some things aren't worth making from scratchmayonnaise and refried beans come to mind. Sometimes instant mashed potatoes are cheaper than homemade. Non fat dry milk is more expensive than low fat liquid milk.

Now to nitty gritty

Tomatoes are really seasonal. We get tomatoes year round,but the quality and price make them better in the spring and summer. Ck the price between cherry and larger tomatoes. Do the math, usually the larger ones are cheaper. Also, roma tomatoes are more flesh and less seeds.

Field greens ( designer lettuce) or whatever you call it, is cheaper usually at Costco.
If the lettuce is cheaper than 1.33 a head, it is cheaper than buying the 3.99 box at Costco. There are storage solutions on the market that keep veggies fresher longer, they are more than worth the investment.

When round or sirloin roasts are 2 for; consider making stew meat and grinding your own
Hamburger. The fat content is more controlled, and you know what is in it. If you don't have a grinding attachment on your mixer, you can get grinders that our grandmothers used at almost every antique store, or find them at garage sales. Ask, someone might have one they haven't put out for sale. Sterilize it and go for it. Make sure it has all it's parts. You should have several grinding disks. They are usually well under ten bucks and will pay for themselves in A short period of time.

Don't but snack foods out of your regular budget for food. If they are separate you can rapidly see just how much they cost and how healthy alternatives are better.

Coupons are sometimes a good thing, but if it is for something you wouldn't ordinarily buy anyway, they are not a bargain. Rarely do I see coupons for something that is what I consider real food. Ask yourself, is there a cheaper alternative. Store brands come from the same assembly line that the brand names do. They just cost more. All those ads on tv cost money and it gets added to the price of the product.

That's all I can squeeze into this time.
Thanks for stopping by


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Foil bakes..it's summer time.

An easy fun dinner especially for kids is foil bakes. There are no dishes for mom, the kids get to open a surprise "package" and each person can customize it to their taste.


Mix together veggie, and seasonings, and sauce
Place starch in GREASED 12x12 foil. If your foil is thin, double it

Top with vegetable mixture
Layer protein
Top with topping
You will end up with a pile of food.
Lift two sides of foil up and seal snugly. Then fold the ends over several times to seal..place on baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for allotted time


Veggie: 1 cup corn, drained, chopped onion and red pepper to taste
Seasonings:taco seasoning
Sauce: 3/4 cip beef broth with 1 tsp flour or cornstarch

Starch: 2cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed

Protein:1# ground beef , salt and pepper and form 4 patties

Topping: black olives

Bake 20 minutes


Veggie: 10 oz package of chopped broccolli, drained.
Seasonings 1/3 cup grated parm cheese, 1/4 tsp EA thyme, nutmeg and crushed red pepper
Sauce: 1cup white sauce
Starch cup new red potatoes thinly sliced
Protein: 4 chicken cutlets
Topping:parm cheese or sesame seeds

Bake 25 minutes or until chicken is done.

Next time notes on shopping

Thanks for stopping by


Friday, July 6, 2012

Our trip to WinCo

We went to WinCo this week and TOP Foods. WinCo requires you to bag your own foods, so
Bring a buddy to help you. Like any grocery store ,some things are more expensive than elsewhere but the majority of things are cheaper. It is just too far away to go every week.


Hebrew National HOT DOGS 3.11
Diced Ham 3.58
2large Pork Sirloin 7.98
Tomato on the vine .98
red potatoes 5 # 1.98
refried beans .78
Taco shells .98
Granny smith apples 1.28
Cherries 1.48
Raspberries 1.98
Hunts pasta sauce .78

Total 65.08

Sometimes I get diced ham for cheaper at the grocery outlet. They have it intermittently. Diced ham can go in a chef salad, in an omelet, on pizza, in split pea soup, I can make the bag augment 3 meals.

Hunts pasta sauce can make a pasta dinner inexpensive and fast. Let's cost no brained pasta. Sauce .78, pasta .88, 2 oz cheese (1 cup grated).32, 1/2 # ground beef 1.12
Totals 3.10. Serves 6. .52 a serving.
Add a vegetable and you are still under 4+1 is 5.

I will roast the one of the pork sirloin off and slice for roast pork, or sandwiches. The other one I will cube and braise for stew or soup, or grind for meatloaf mix.

The red potatoes with the eggs that I got for free last week and some of the ham will make a frittatas for well under the 5 bucks. That's 1.30 add field greens and strawberries with a balsamic vinaigrette. 3.30 for the meal.

Seven dinners basically from the above shopping list plus veggies from previous trips that average 5 bucks or less each.

No brainer pasta, veggi
Frittatas, salad
Pizza, green salad ( ham, peppers, )
Roast pork, red potatoes, green beams , fruit salad,
hot dogs, potato salad, fruit salad, veggie salad
Tacos, refried beans
BBQ pork sandwiches, veggie sticks, French fries.

Next time foil wraps

Thanks for stopping by


Thursday, July 5, 2012

The grocery adds this week

There is am popular show on television on at noon in our area. The chew it is called. They had a popular chef on that was trying to shoe how to feed a family on food stamps.
In other words on the cheap, but nutritious meals. He stressed the need to go to more than one store. He also priced a chicken for anywhere between 5 and 15 dollars. I really don't know where one would go for a 15 dollar chicken. Maybe NYC.

Back to reality


Country ribs 1.77
2 pounds tillimock cheese 4.99 w coupon
Milk 2.49
Morning star vegetarian meat 2.99
Potatoes, russet 10#. 2.00


Bumble bee tuna .88
Pasta .88
Hunts pasta sauce .88


Peaches .77
London broil 2.49
Yogurt 10/5.00


Ribs 2.00
Milk 2.49
QFC bread 3/5.00--1.67

This weeks adds leave me cold. Almost everything featured is a ready made item.
On weeks like this, I will pick the best store around and go to one of my alternative stores a little further away. Perhaps, Winco and the bread store or grocery outlet.

Several things caught my attention. Side dishes (ready made mashed potatoes) were 24 oz for 2.50. Potatoes were 10 pounds for 2.00.and you don't know what preservatives they have in the ready made potatoes.

Next time..it is a surprise...lol
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Extreme couponing

This week is the first time I have been exposed to an extreme COUPONER. I was at Albertsons in poulsbo. The lady in front of me bought a case of keikomon sauce because she had coupons for free. The checker had to ring them up three at a time because the cash register will only take three coupons per transaction. Now, who needs a case of soy sauce?

My main objection to extreme couponing is that most of the items that have manufacture
Coupons are things that are over priced in the first place and things that you don't need for good nutrition. Why take up room in your pantry with a case of soy sauce or Tabasco sauce when you could be using the space for items that are real food. One woman on a show was real proud of her hall closet full of 2 liter bottles of soda pop.
Who Really needs a closet of soda pop.

I do applaud the people that use coupons for real food that they intend on giving to shelters to Feed the homeless.

I use the store coupons and the new e coupons from Safeways. Seldom do I use manufacture coupons.

I think it is a bit extreme to spend 40 hours a week and two thousand dollars on newspapers to buy food that you cant use before the expiration date. Two thousand dollars will go a long ways to buy real food at discount prices.

Off my soapbox.

Have a wonderful holiday and keep safe.

Thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

2009 dinners on the cheap

I ran on to a woman's day from 2009 "Feed your family for 99. A week.
They use the same concepts that we talked about earlier.
Pork roast Sunday dinner becomes pork and beans for Tuesday --stair stepping
A tortilla with ham, potato and eggs
Cube steaks w peppers
Pasta prima Vera --vegetarian fare
Chefs salad -- another stair step from the tortilla

Breakfasts are cereal and fruit and eggs a couple of times a week
Lunches are tuna sandwiches and salads again that are stair steps from dinners.

They have a list of foods, but not cost out. They do think that one pound of cube steaks feeds four people. In think that with proper shopping skills, you can still do it for 75 dollars a week. Not paying full price for food is the key. Many times it saves 70 percent.

Next, my take on extreme couponing.

Thanks for stopping by.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer in the great pacific nw.

Well it's supposed to be summer but it has rained and been cold everyday this week.
We are still having winter foods.

Let's talk about using up and managing the refrigerator. Every day or so survey the refer and incorporate anything that is approaching it's lifespan into your meal before it expires. Can it be frozen ? Can you make veggie stock? Do you need to make banana bread. Betty crocker has a good recipe for banana blueberry bread that has some oatmeal in it. You can use fresh or frozen blueberries.

Bread can be dried for breadcrumbs. Apples can be applesauce. Veggies can be stock.
Not letting your fresh foods get away from you is a good way to stretch your dollars, and as our grandmothers would say, not wasting food.

Children should know that soup doesn't come out of a can. Or that Mac and cheese doesn't come out of a box. I can remember when my husband and I were both out of work, we were economizing. I started soup bones early one Sunday morning. My young son took a look at the pot and asked what that was. Soup I informed him. Well, hebsaid it doesn't look like soup. I said " trust me it will by dinner time.". All day I stocked the pot and by the time dinner time was there, it was soup and a loaf of bread was on the table.

I guess he was amazed and astounded??? He went to school and told his teacher. His teacher (thank you teacher) said home made soup is so much better than canned soup.

A lot of this is either set it and forget it cooking, or something that an be done quickly in the microwave you do other chores in the kitchen.

It's all about shopping wisely and getting out of the kitchen quickly unless you have the time and want to cook all day.

Thanks for stopping by...

Please leave a comment and tell me what you want to hear about.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

More on the water

Cooking on the boat is a challenge, one thing at a time and then keep itnall warm. Using the grill and making one dish meals with a salad works best. Like tonight we are going to have sausage, peppers, and new red potatoes.

You can cook the same as home, but restrict your dishes to the most simplified ones. The first night we had retried beans and tacos. We cooked the refried beans and two kinds of taco meat...reg and veggie in foil in the same pot.

Foil bakes work well on the grill. The recipes are at home, but basically you take a double layer of heavy foil and stack some sauce or liquid in the bottom, and add
Starch, protein , and veggie and seasonings.

Example. Water ( a couple of tablespoons
Thinly sliced potato
Hamburger pattie
Green beans
Salt and pepper

Wrap in double thickness of foil and grill or put on hot coils if you are camping
And cook until the meat is done. Time depends in the heat of your fire.
We do the same recipe at home in the oven.
More combos later.

Thanks for stopping by