Friday, January 31, 2014

Freaky Friday, the basics.

It's finally Friday.  Last night I oven roasted potatoes, carrots and radishes and cooked sausage.  We had cheese pizza the night before.  We eat more simple on work days.

Its  that time of the month when I go over the basics of groceries on the cheap.

I started this blog when it came to my attention that some people were running out of money before they ran out of month on SNAP( food stamps). It wasn't hard to tell why when I heard what what they were eating for dinner.  The sad truth is that if you spend ten dollars for dinner and there are 30 days in the month, your three hundred dollar food allowance is spent and you don't have breakfast or lunch.  Aw, the ugliness of reality. LOL

I learned groceries of the cheap over the past 47 years. In the early 70s I found myself a single mother.  It was a time of double-digit inflation and wage and price freezes. The wage freezes held steady , but the price freezing didn't.  The reality was half of my income went for rent the other half went for daycare .  There  was very little left over. I started reading everything I could find how to eat on the cheap. I wasn't alone most of the middle class was in the same boat.  What all that was over, it became a habit to eat on the cheap. Over the years I found the new ways and new tricks. I took the best of what I found and tailored them to fit our needs.  The result is groceries on the cheap.  I feed us on less than the USDA stats for thrifty cooking.  That is the basis for snap.  They add COL adjustments.  That's why you get more in NYC than you do in some other places.

Groceries on the cheap takes a three disciplined approach to feeding the family.

  • Planning and organizing 
  • Strategic shopping 
  • Cooking from scratch 
I'm going to try something different.  Over the next month, I will break this down and deal with one concept a day.  Every basic blog I write comes off the top of my head, please feel free to read past blogs to get different ideas, or the same ones written in a different way.  

Let's start with planning and organizing.  This is not rocket science, it's  actually pretty simple. If your not an organizational person. It is not as hard as you think. Some of it you are probably doing.  

  • First, list the sources of inexpensive  protein your family will eat.  
  • Now, list 7-14 meals that you can make from these sources.  Remember, this is scratch cooking.  
  • Make a list of the things that you use to make these meals.  We are talking basic shelf and freezer ready items that you use on a regular basis. There is probably a list of ten or so things. In our house that would be diced tomatoes, beans, refried beans, black olives, pasta sauce, pasta, instant mashed potatoes, tuna, and some green beans and corn.  
  • Start a spread sheet or small notebook and list these items, the size of the package on the top of the page.  Then create a line that has the date, store, price paid, coupon? And net price. Ie: pasta sauce, Hunts .  First  line: 1/3/14. Bartells. .79. No coupon .   The object is to find the cheapest price available for this product and how often it goes on sale.  
The main mantra here is NEVER PAY FULL PRICE FOR ANYTHING.  we are buying quantity of our staple items so that they will last until they go on sale again.  This is not hoarding. You want a three to six  months supply, depending on your situation.     If I use the item once a week, I keep 24.  If I use it once a month, I keep six.  Watch your pull dates.  Canned goods , I have been hearing
are good for some time after their pull date, pasta has an eight year shelf life.  I don't  expect the cans to last that long.  Rotate stock.  If your children are old enough, that's a good job for them.  Don't buy anything that has a pull date close to the real date unless you are going  to eat it that day.  
You are looking for half price or more.  If you can add a coupon with it, all the more sweet the deal.  

That's enough to digest for one day.  
Tomorrow: how to read a grocery ad!  

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Aw... SNAP

I read an article on Facebook written by an nutritionist from a college.  She was clearly uninformed without logic.  She stated that the average person on SNAP had 4.50 a day to eat.  The next statement was that most of the supermarket coupons were for junk food and that was making the poor people eat unhealthy food.  Any time I read anything I ask myself, does it pass the BLT-- Basic Logic Test.

Let's get this logic.  Last I looked, a bag of potato chips was at least two dollars.  If one ate a bag of potato chips and a soda for a buck. That would leave a 1.50 for food for the day.  It is nearly impossible to buy junk food and still feed a family on three hundred dollars a month.  It is true that you can't pay the prices for designer coffee and organic everything.  The figures just don't add up.

Coupons come in all shapes and sizes.  Because they are out there, doesn't mean people have to use them.  If you can't find coupons for real food, you aren't looking in the right place.  The smart source that came with the ads has a coupon for MJB coffee and one for spaghetti.  There are coupons for basic food, you just have to look past the garbage.

Last months spread sheet showed me spending an average of fifty dollars a week for three adults.  That does not cover the food my daughter buys, but we supplement the grandbaby too.  Regardless, the figure for just my husband and myself is about 85.00 a week for the USDA thrifty plan.
We eat some processed food, I try to limit it to one day a week.  We don't eat organic,gluten free, salt free, or fat free; I do cook low fat meats, defat hamburger and sausage, and watch the sugar content of foods.

SNAP can happen.  It does take a realistic approach to food prep and purchasing.  It takes some knowledge of how to do it.  I have read everything I could find since I was in the position of having to get by on next to nothing in the sixties and seventies.  I took the BLT test on everything I read and tried things that didn't work,but in the end I have come up with a system that works.  I just wish I could reach the right people.  I cringe when I hear someone running out of money before they run out of month because they have fed their family a hamburger meal box and sugar laden fruit cups and drinks.  Reasonable nutrition can happen.  You just have to know how.

I feed us well.  I don feed us what an extreme foodie would, but I don't feed us what an extreme couponer would either. ( based on what goes on the cart on one reality show) .  I try to hit a moderate happy medium.

I use coupons for real food.  I usually save about six dollars  a week.  Six times 52 is 312 dollars a year.
That's 312 dollars that I am not wasting.  Because, when I don't take advantage of a coupon on something that I would buy anyway,I  am wasting money.  That savings does not include the coupons in the store ads.  The store ads, I feel have coupons to limit the amount that can be purchased by one individual. Otherwise,when something is a really good price,  some people would clear the shelves. Clearing the shelves is just plain rude. Even when you're stocking you should take a reasonable amount and leave the bargain for someone  else too.

It is true, you can get a real sense of accomplishment when that register receipt has a 67 percent savings at the bottom, but it is only real if you have bought real food your family will eat.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wicked Wednesday--the ads

I would expect that the ads will be full of game hype and expensive booze and snacks.  Probably not a day for stocking.  Let's see.... LOL


Chicken thighs, drums, leg quarters.  .99
Nabisco snack crackers 1.50
Blue or blackberries 2/5
Dreyers 2.88
Digiorno pizza 3.99$$
Hebrew national hot dogs 2.99
Oranges .99

Salsa 3.49@@
BC cake or brownie mix .99@@

Green mountain k cups
C and h sugar, 10 lbs

Broccoli .99
Tillamook cheese 4.99 *****
Freshetta pizza 3.99
Cucumber .68


20 beef, or turkey 2.99
Brandon cheese 4.99
Roma's .79
Dreyers ice cream 2.99
Dole salads .79@
Red Baron and Freshetta pizza 3.99


Broccoli , cauliflower .99
Dryers 3.00

Buy 10, save 5
Yu ban coffee 6.49
Taco shells .99
Salsa 1.49
Oscar Mayer lunch meat 2.99
There is. Not enough there to stock on.  Taco shells would go stale before they would be eaten.

@@ means there is an in ad coupon.
$$ means there is a manufacturers coupon out there

I would be sure to take advantage of the Tillamook cheese for five bucks.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Terrific Tuesday, recipe edition

OK, I've got writers block.  I have been working on St. Patricks D ay to get the product out on a reasonable time.  There's not much paper to work with, so I'm having to be very creative.

One of the ways to stretch your food dollar is to take advantage of what produce os plentiful in season.  It's usually better quality and better prices--a real win-win.
Carrots, potatoes, kale, cabbage, apples, oranges, squash.

Carrot - potato casserole

 2T butter

1 T flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 t pepper
1-1/2 cups milk
Pinch of nutmeg

4 ounces grated cheese ( 1 cup)
3 cups grated potatoes- raw
1 cup grated carrots

Make a roux with the flour and butter.  Add milk in stages until you have a white sauce .  Gradually add in 1/2 cup cheese .

Combine with grated vegetables.
Place on well greased 8X8 baking pan.
Bake at 350 for an hour
Top with remaining cheese

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday madness

I want to talk about yesterday's shopping trip.  It takes some tenacity to make deals work.  Often the karma is not working like clockwork.  Yesterday was the ultimate work with it day.

Bartells has almonds, 6 ounce cans for 1.79.  There is a dollar coupon on the flyer on Sundays paper when you buy 2 . It is misprinted to be for 16 ounce containers.  There are no 16 ounce containers.  The coupon inserts has a coupon for .75 off of two cans of 6 ounce containers.  That makes just about a BOGO.  After some discussion, we got the almost BOGO.  Roast beef hash was on sale for 1.99, it rang 2.99.  Another discussion.

At Rite Aid, HORMEL,chili is a buck.m buy 15 of anything on the section of the ad, and get a 5 dollar up reward.  There os not much on that ad that I would buy except the chili that I had .55/2 coupons for.  I had four coupons.  they did not have 15 cans of chili.  I bought 8.  And used my coupons.  Effectively getting 8 cans , but paying for 6.  I went to another rite aid to buy the remaining 7.  Turns out, the two I got for free didn't count, so I bought 9.  I wound up paying 9.89 for 17 cans of chili.  Some of them are no beans.  I'm thinking they might be good on tacos or on baked potatoes for a loaded baked potato.  Either way, I saved about a buck a can.  More than a half price trip.
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chicken, glorious chicken .

One of the ways you can stretch your dollar and clean the refrigerator at the same time is to make soup. My husband cooked two chickens I got for $.49 a pound at QFC yesterday. I've broke them apart into bags.  . I put one chicken breast in each of two bags. I put the dark meat in one bag and what was left in the other for soup.  This will provide many meals for five dollars worth of chicken.

Buying  in bulk and portioning you're meat in meal sized bags saves a lot of time and money.  Food is wasted because it is not all eaten and finds it's way to the back of the fridge and is forgotten.  You are not spending a lot of money on a box of something to go with your meat.  Chicken is a staple that has a stable price in the meat department. Pork and beef have both Rosen on oroce,meet with the largest percentage.  

I purchased " frugal moms guide to Once a month cooking" by Candace Anderson. While I am not in a position to cook a months worth of foods in a day, the recipes are good and jump start a menu plan. My spin on once a month cooking, is to batch cook a meat a week.  It is less taxing both on your energy and your time and gives you the benefit of scratch cooking lower cost meats , portion controlling, and speeding up dinner time.  In most homes, dinner time is the most hectic  time of the day.  Streamlining dinner can go a long way to reduce that stress.  

Ways to use chicken

Sweet and sour chicken 
Chicken pot pie
Roast chicken dinner
Chicken nuggets
Chicken quesadillas
Chicken nachos
Chicken tacos
BBQ drumsticks 
Chicken Tetrazzini
Chicken parm 
Chicken broc casserole 
Chicken Noodle soup
Chicken rice  soup
Chicken vegetable soup
Buffalo chicken  pizza
Buffalo chicken pie
Chicken pizza

The list could go on......and on..... LOL

That's all for now .  

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pizza pig heaven

I found an even better deal on digiorno pizza. Target has 2/9 with free 2 liter soda, and there is a coupon  in the 1/26/14. RP insert for BOGO.   I think that means that you are getting 2 pizzas, normally at least five  bucks and a bottle of soda for 4.50.

Rite aid and Fred Meyers ...early.

My husband got the paper for me--tomorrow's paper.  It has P&G  COUPONS as well as smart source.

Fred Meyers

Fryers .97 ( QFC has them for .50)
Roma's .78
Milk 4/5@
Snack crackersv3/5@
Blues 2/5
Cauliflower .99
Duel monte veggies 3/2
Kraft Mac and cheese 1.00--it's .50 at QFC
Kraft BBQ sauce 100-.79'at QFC
Fm sour cream or cream cheese .99@@
Nalley chili .89@

Rite Aid

Scope 2.99 w 1.00 up reward nets 1.99
Ragu 4/5.  Less coupon in the paper .50 nets 4/4.50 or 1.12 each.

That's about it.  Please be sure to check  for any more that my appeal to you.

HORMEL chili at  Rite A id is a buck.  Coupons for .55/2

The Red plum for 1/26 has a BOGO coupon for digiorno pizza.  It's 4.49 at QFC this week when you buy six of assorted buys.  These also include Mac and cheese and water.  BBQ sauce for .79  and snack crackers.

Bartells has red vines for 5.99.  Also 1.00 off coupon for 2 blue diamond almonds.  Add to that a .75 off coupon for two in tomorrow's smart saver.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Freakin Friday

I am late .  Had a early appointment with the physical therapist.  Went shopping afterwards.  I usually go to Big Lots for pads and Kleenex.  I got 600 sheets for 4.00.   Mandarin oranges in cups are 4/1.00.  No sugar added,  pizza crust wad 2/2.50.

Next QFC

Draper valley chicken is .50 a pound.  Kraft Mac and cheese is .50.  Not quite a comparison, but I don't choose what my grandbaby gets for lunch! LOL

I took advantage of the fresh fruit buys and pepperoni at .50 a package.  Red Baron rising crust pizza netted 2.29.  A cheap lunch!

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Thursday, January 23, 2014


I just read an interesting Article on one persons experience trying to voluntarily live on food stamps in NYC.  I was surprised at how much she got for a week, until she listed her grocery purchases.  The prices were our full prices and some were twice what I pay.  I realize that what you get is based on what the COL is in your part of the country.

  I didn't expect to have an audience in other countries or in different parts of the USA when I started this blog. Obviously, prices at our grocery stores are different than that stores in other parts of the country.
 Clearly,access to chain grocery stores has a lot to do with the prices you pay for food and storage on NYC is probably,not an big option.  But, the majority of us do not live on NYC.  One point she made that I thought was interesting was the realization that you can't live on SNAP and afford gluten free, organic, and specialty anything.  I can eat better than she did because of stocking and having access to four chain stores, 2 warehouse stores, and some alternative stores.  The gist is, you get less money on metropolitan areas, but you have more access to cheap food if you  look for it.

I also thought it was interesting that 80 percent of Walmart employees are on SNAP.  Walmart prides  themselves on contributing to the food banks.  H E L L O!  If Walmart paid their employees a decent wage, they wouldn't need SNAP!   And,  QFC is union, does pay a decent wage in comparison, and gives  to the food bank generously.  They just don't toot their own horn!   LOL

My principles of groceries on the cheap will work, no matter where you live.  The  prices will be different. The snap allotments are different.  The principles are the same.

I have read everything I could get my hands ( or eyes) on about thrifty cooking for some 45 years.  I have analyzed the ideas, added what I learned from my mother, and took the best of what I learned and put it together using my BLT approach.  Balance and logic test.  I don't want to spend my entire waking moments on groceries and cooking.  I want a reasonably healthy diet and a balanced diet.
Don't want  to stock until I look like a hoarder.  I want a reasonable amount of food to tide us over a disaster, and enough to last us until our staple items go on sale again. The only thing I stockpile as much as possible with no limits is toothpaste.  That is because I only buy it when it is free or almost free and I save it until I get a basketful to take to the women's shelter.

The secret to saving money is not to go buy just what you need at inflated prices.  It doesn't make sense to me to pay 1.59 for something you can get for .60.  My mother would have said, better the dollar in our pockets than someone else's.

That's not to say that she was not charitable.  I remember one time I went into Rite Aid and children's underwear was on a clearance table for next to nothing.  Knowing that a grade school in the area had children coming to school with no underwear, I bought all that I could afford.  I called my mom, she bought the rest!

I am a firm believer that no child should  wake up to no food in the pantry and the basics of a normal life.  I can't save the world, but I can do all I can to help.  Knowing how to stretch a buck and feed a family good, nutritious food can go a long way to help those on SNAP make it through the month and have food in the pantry at the end of the month.  It's not hoarding to have a reasonable stockpile of staple items that you use on a regular basis that you can make a meal from .

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Terrific Thursday

The ads finally came .


oranges .68
Berries 2/5

Buy 6, save 3
Kraft ez Mac .49 net
Kleenex .99
Smoked sausage 2.49
Kraft BBQ sauce .79
Red Barron pizza 2.79

Strawberries 2/5
Oranges .99
Brownie mix .99
Skippy peanut butter 1.99@

Five dollar Fridays
Blues - 18 oz
Flan, fruit


Save 3, buy 5
Fresh express salads 2/5$$
Berries 2/5

Eggs 4/5@

Quarters buys
Yoplait .60$
Bumble bee tuna 1.00
Tomato paste .50
Tomato sauce .25

Potatoes BOGO 2.79

That's about it.  I'm not seeing much.
Sometimes,  it might be better to choose an alternative store.  We might try Winco

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Wicked Wednesday

Another week.  We didn't get the ads yesterday. Probably because of the holiday.  My mantra is never to pay full price for anything. More the most part, I try to get the best quality I can for my buck.  There are a few things that I doesn't pay to buy quality.  Disposables come to mind,then I try to buy the least amount as possible.

My daughter has decided that she will eat chicken now.  Before she was a vegetarian.  We eat a lot of Mexican recipes because we like them and it is easy to accommodate diet restrictions.  It uses beans and cheese for protein.  Tacos can be chicken or pork as well as hamburger

.  When we went for lettuce tacos for happy hour I had chicken nachos.  It had some taco chips, a lot of shredded chicken, beans and some cheese.  Cheese is full of protein and calcium.  A lot more food value than the lettuce tacos that is mostly water.  Iceberg lettuce is mostly water, very  little food value.  The darker the green, the more food value it has.  Those tacos have one tablespoon of meat, doodles of lettuce with no food value, and a very little sprinkling of a tomato and cheese.  Look hard, you might miss it.  You are getting ten carbs of taco shell, very little protein and a lot of water.  Knowing how to analyze your food and balance protein and carbs along with analyzing the fat content is a good start in providing good food on a budget.  

Ortega put out a recipe booklet a few years ago.  It had more dollar value coupons than the book cost.
I don't think I can duplicate the recipes, some of the, are really fat loaded, some are somewhat healthy.  Some are expensive, some can be adjusted to accommodate the fat content and the cost.

Bacon shrimp quesadillas.
Mexican egg rolls ( turkey, peppers, black beans, cheese )
Chicken nachos
Corn chowder
Pasta and grilled vegetable salad
Chocolate chili
Taco salad
Taco soup
Chicken  enchiladas
Shrimp tacos
Oven roasted veggie tacos
Taco rice and beans

Many good recipes.  You might find it at a garage sale or the goodwill.  I get magazines at the goodwill for fifty cents.
Any recipe you can partially cook when time is more relaxed, or comes together quick is a good recipe. Add inexpensive sources of protein and it's a great recipe.

That's all for now.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Extreme couponing---NOT

There is always some discussion when the subject of extreme couponers comes up. The show is planned to show someone getting a zillion bucks worth of stuff for next to nothing, a zillion bucks worth of stuff is only good if you are going to use a zillion bucks worth of stuff in an appropriate period of time as to eat things before the expiration date. No one needs 93 bottles of hot sauce. LOL

When I first started writing this blog, I was of the opinion that coupons were a waste of time. I only used coupons from the store ads. I saw a few down to earth extrememcouponers videos, and went to a free extrememcouponers class with my daughter at a local church. No one is twisting your arm, you can pick and choose what you cut coupons for.
( good thing , since mine is broken at the moment. LOL)

There are two sites I go to. is the main site for printable coupons. A lot of others just revert you to the site anyway and some of that ask for your life's history to use them. Not my cup of tea. Each month at the first of the month, the site is loaded with new coupons. The manufacturers specify how many coupons can be printed. The high figure ones go first. I down load the ones I think I will use because they are things that I use on a regular basis. Things like yogurt, ice cream, eggs, coffee, cheese, butter, toothpaste and soap and deodorant. I can parlay the coupons for personal hoe gene products into free things for the women's shelter.

My friend saves me her coupons from the Sunday paper. I usually buy one Sunday paper at the dollar store. I place them in a binder clip for each month. Our coupon match up site on Seattle is If you google coupon matchups, ( your nearest big city) you can find the one near you, these sights are free and post the ads and the coupons, where they are, and your net out of pocket cost. After I choose my best prices from the ads, I visit th site and look up the store and see
of what's on my list is matched with a manufacturers coupon to be a really low price. Then, I go to the binder clip for that month and pull the coupon. I don't spend 40 hours a week couponing, maybe twenty minutes, but I save an average of six dollars a trip.

The bottom line, between finding the best prices., Stocking the things we use on a regular basis, (enough to last us until they go on sale again) , and scratch cooking and, not buying junk food, I feed three adults on less than the USDA stats for thrifty meals at home. Actually, almost half.

We eat well. We don't eat like we would if we were foodies or puritianists. We just eat good basic food.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

It's all in the receipt.

The matter how you look at it, your receipt is your bottom line. Whether or not you can make it on the cheap, depends on what you buy. . It's the plain and simple truth.

I am in possession of two grocery receipts. My weekly trip and someone else's. To be fair, I don't know the situation of the person buying from the specialty store. This is just all about choices.

My trip to QFC

I am dictating this because I still have a broken arm. QFC was my store of choice this week. He could have just as well have been any of the other three chain stores I frequently at times.

3 lbs cheese 10.00
1 toothpaste
2 drinks @.88
4 blueberries 5.00
2 Tillamook ice cream @3/10
1fresh strawberries 2.50
1sour cream 1.00
1 -4.5 lb chicken
10 Yoplait yogurt

Less coupons on 1.00 each for ice cream netted 2.33 ea, .50 on toothpaste netted .50 ( women's shelter )
.40 on Yoplait netted 3.60 for 10. ( .36 each)

Total 33.66 less .26 tax and .50 toothpaste is 32.90.

Receipt from the specialty store

Yogurt 2.99
Cinnamon apple sticks 2.49
Peanut butter crackers 2.69
Lentils 2@1.99
Apple sauce 2@2.99
Cooked brown rice 5.07
Guacamole 3.99
Apple juice .44
Chocolate 4.58

Total. 32.21

Almost the same in bottom line.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rite aid and Fred Meyers ads

Here are the ads.
Rite Aid.
I am not finding any bargains at writing. There are a few exceptions. Shredded wheat , Honey bunches of O 's,  and Great Grains no Topleaf are cheaper six with a two dollar after the board. There is probably coupons out there check your coupon matching site.

Colgate our toothbrushes. Retail 6.99, three dollars in ad coupon , two dollars coupon in the paper NetPrice  is 1.99

Fred Meyers

Apple $.88
Tillamook cheese 4.99 limit two,  coupon in ad
Dryers ice cream 2/5 , coupon in ad
Di Giorno Pizza $3.99 coupon in ad
Raspberries or BlackBerries 2/5
That's about all.

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I don't know how this popped up in my blog.  We had this at Christmas.  Yum.  I'm sharing my e mail.

A Taste of Home Cooking

Posted: 17 Jan 2014 04:00 AM PST
Another staple on our Christmas table is Yorkshire Pudding. I'd never heard of it before my stepdad joined our family more than 25 years ago, but it's similar to popovers - crusty on the outside and custardy on the inside.

In the years when my stepgrandmother made Christmas dinner I always assumed the Yorkshire pudding was a difficult thing to make. The year I took over making dinner I was worried about getting it right. It turns out Yorkshire Pudding is very easy to make. I've never had enough beef drippings to make it with those so I just use melted butter. This year's version was especially beautiful.

Yorkshire Pudding
The Joy of Cooking

1 cup minus 1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup beef drippings or 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Whisk together the flour and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat until well blended.

Heat a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and add the drippings/butter, then add the batter all at once.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until puffy and golden brown. Don't open the oven while the pudding is baking.

Remove from the oven and cut into squares. Serve immediately - this is best eaten piping hot. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Today  is a prime example of why I stock food. And, why I keep a certain amount of easy to cook meals already prepped. There's no way with a broken arm and a sprained foot on the opposite sides of my anatomy I could cook a scratch meal and go to the grocery store.  It really helps to be prepared.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Oops, went to the mailbox.

Oops, I went to the mailbox and twisted my ankle and fell on my arm.  Broke my elbow, they think.  Guess that's what I get for having the oddisity to go to the mailbox?,LOL

I did go to the QFC yesterday.  Lucky for me, today it would be a hardship.  I saved 51 percent between ads and coupons.  Tillamook ice cream was 3.33 and I had a dollar coupon, making it 2.33.  I did not buy the oranges because they didn't look good, and they substituted the blueberries because their shipment had a problem.  That's why I like to make meal plans after the store. I could not get more than a 4.50 pound chicken.

Yogurt for Yoplait was 10 for four dollars. In  addition I had a $.40 coupon which made it $3.60 or, basically , getting one free.  Free  is a very good word when you're trying to operate on a thrifty budget.

I didn't buy everything on the list that I posted yesterday because a lot of it we already had. I was trying to show someone  how you could start to stockup and still spend  an allotment of $75 a week or $300 a month . This senecio would leave the dark meat of the chicken and 14 cans of vegetables and beans.  After a while if you continue to stock up on the lowest priced items, your meal plans will be more varied and you will develop a stronger stockpile.  . Finding  your stock items at the lowest price affords you the opportunity to have a variety of foods and more of them.

You can start out by allocating yourself a certain amount for stocking , a certain amount for meat rotation and a certain amount for perishables. But soon you will find that you going to buy your perishables and the meat and sometimes you will buy stock  items and sometimes you won't depending on what the sales are for the week.  I keep track of how much I am spending on a spread sheet so I don't go over budget.

Yes that's all for today. Thanks for stopping by. We share. Jane

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday : virtual shopping trip

I'm going to do something different today. I'm going on virtual shopping trip.  Let's get started. I am also dictating this .we will  see what the reader does with auto spellcheck.  LOL.

Will start with QFC. I'll buy a

5 pound chicken at $.99 a pound.
2 lbs strawberries at 2/5
2 pkg Flour tortillas 2.00
Sour cream 1.00
Pasta, spaghetti , and elbow Mac 2.00
Frozen French fries , 4 pounds 2.00
Cheese 3/10. Three pounds, grated or solid
Pan bread 2/4, 2 loaves
Blueberries 2/5
Hillshire farm smoked sausage 2.50
Ice  cream  2.33 ( 3.33 w dollar coupon )
Yogurt 10/4 w .40 coupon is 3.60

Total 43.40 approximately, I did it in my head.

Top foods
20 cans of stock up items , 12.00
4 kidney beans
4 black beans
4 refried beans
4 cans green beans
4 cans diced tomatoes

2 lbs carrots .89
Butter 1.99

Total 14.88

Ok that's the trip.   58.00 and change.

Part of this would stock.  Assuming you haven't stocked before but have a few staples on hand, you could eat and still have food left.

I see

Bean and rice burritos.
Chicken soup and quesadas.
Chicken Alfredo with spaghetti noodles
Chicken dinner.
Sausage and bean soup
Sausage and peppers stirfry with rice.
Mac and cheese
Blueberry  waffles, yogurt parfaits,

7 dinners, Sunday breakfast and  Oatmeal. Fruit, yogurt for the rest of the week.  Leftovers for lunch.

 Assuming a 75.00 budget, you have 17.00 left to fill in the meals.

Eggs , milk ( 6.00)

Peas, rice, mixed veggies , peppers! Cookies From the dollar store ( 5.00)
Canister of oatmeal 3.00
Potatoes 3.00

Total 75.00

That's assuming you have limited things on hand and have not stocked.  By stocking, you can have a more varied meal plan, and take advantage of other things when they are on sale. The canned items are not on sale every week.
You are  going to use six of the 20 cans, leaving a stock of 14 cans.  If I didn't already have a stock, I would buy at least ten more cans.  I could do that because I already have rice, oatmeal, and pasta that I have got on sale cheaper than these prices.

This post sounds disjointed, bit it would be the way I would plan my shopping trip if I had not already stocked our shelves.

Thanks for stopping by

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Elizabet rose and the simpler days.

Many years ago I designed a simple girl figure with a upbeat personality.  She's a young girl with wisdom beyond her years.  Part funky fashion designer, part smart mouthed teenager. "Life" ,she says, " was much simpler when boys had cooties and your clothes didn't have to match.  "
Her name was Elizabeth. She just came back  into my life.  I think her name,appropriately,should be Elizabeth D Rose.  

This has nothing at all to do with  groceries on the cheap, other than to say that creativity in life whether  it is on the kitchen or the studio, can enrich your live and the live of others.  That extra spice to a dish can make a big difference in cooking on the cheap.  That cinnamon on the apple pancakes , or the cumin in the taco mix can make a real difference.  

I Digress, the ads because it is Wednesday 


Roast 2.99
Chicken .99
Blues 2.99

Friday five dollar specials

Strawberries 2 lbs
Black Forest cake

Refried beans, beans,corn, green beans, diced tomatoes 10/6 note you must buy six,mix or match . 
Haggen  pasta 1.00
Pears .89
Butter 1.99@@
Carrots 2 lbs .89@@

This was a test.  I wanted to see if it was possible  to use your carry-over coupons to make best use of the money you would save if you took advantage of their specials last week.  
Bone in pork chops 1.48
Apples .98
Snack pack .88
Hunts pasta sauce .88
Kens salad dressing 1.58$$$

Chicken 1.00
strawberries 2/5
Tillamook ice  cream 3/10$$
Mandarins 3.99
Nalleys chili 1.00
Barilla pasta 1.00

Yoplait 10/4$$
Blues 2/5
Colgate 1.00$$

Please note differences in prices.  $ means there's a manufactures coupon out there in cyberspace. 
@Means there's in ad  coupon.

  My picks this week would be QFC and TOP food. Top foods because of the chuck roast and the  can goods that have a good stock up price . Butter is also a good price.  

QFC is good on fresh chicken .   ice cream is a good buy with a coupon. The fries are the same good price as Freddie's had last week.  barilla  pasta is a dollar also is  Nalleys chili. Thursday to Sunday 
Yoplait yogurt is 10 for four with a  manufactures coupon out their to make it even a sweeter deal.  franz  bread is two dollars.  Along with toothpaste and there are coupons too.  

Terrific Tuesday! January 14

My daughter tagged me an article on Facebook.  Ot was titled " feed a family on 50.00 a week.,   It Basicly was the same tried and true principles that I write about all the time, Sans the stockpiling part.  .  I don't know when this  piece was written, but 1.50 a pound meat is not really realistic now.
My plan is a bit more, Basicly we eat about sixty dollars a week and I spend a little more than that, 75  on a good price week, but less other weeks. Their meal plans were not as hearty either.

Recipes are all over, everyplace you look, you can find new recipes.  Some call for ready made ingredients that can be a bit pricy , but substitutions are a good fox.  Women's magazines, the Internet, my e mail box has weekly recipes from Betty Crocker, backs of packages, even a candle I was given as a gift had a recipe on it.  Trying new recipes keeps meal times interesting.

We had taco rice skillet last night for dinner.  It was on Betty Crocker website,  Basicly taco meat, corn ( my corn had peppers and beans in it) salsa, and rice.  Top with cheese.  We added sour cream and some tortilla chips.  No box here.  No more time than using the box either.  I make my taco meat ahead and batch cook.  Ot makes dinner time less hectic.  Microwaves defrost things in a snap.  Taco meat can be banged on the counter to break up and cooked I'm the microwave for a couple of minutes for tacos, or just added to th skillet for taco rice skillet.

So far this week , we have had

  • Pizza ( pepperoni was .50 at the dollar store with a coupon.  
  • Blue cheese hamburgers.  
  • Salmon 
  • Taco rice skillet
We go out with friends in Tuesdays to a happy hour someplace.  Last week we went to the claim jumper and I had a Caesars salad and a six  inch pizza for 6.00.  Tonight we are going for all you can eat lettuce tacos for five dollars.  Personally, or would rather have three tacos with more meat on them.  I can only have three or four tacos to maintain my carb limit, and I'm not getting much cheese and meat for my five dollars.  That works for the guys that can eat 12 tacos.  LOL.  

That's 1 pork, 2 beef, 1 fish.  To complete my matrix we will need a pork or chicken and a vegetarian.  I'll count the tacos with a tablespoon of meat and a butt load of lettuce with a garnish of cheese and tomato as vegetarian ! lol.  

I'm only telling you what we eat so that you can see my thought process.  Your menus will reflect your family's taste.  Basicly, we can eat plenty of good food on our budget.  If you stock and have more momey on snap, you can add a better cut of meat every now and  then.   It's easy to spend more, having food left over at the end of the month and eating well on a more than thrifty budget is a bit harder, doable, but harder.  

I try for close to two dollars a pound ( or meal) for meat.  That's an average.  I can get sausage , ham and pork loin for that.  Chicken I can get for a buck or less.  That can offset the three dollars I have to pay for beef.  These days I pretty much am left with good hamburger and a pot roast sometimes.  As the USDA predicted, I can find ready made beef tips and BBQ pork or beef for around three dollars a pound with coupons and a sale.  I also augment the protein with cheese , rice and beans, and eggs.  

Being flexible and taking advantage of the meat you can find on sale is a way to eat well and lower you food bill.  Protein is traditionally the most expensive food group on your plate.  

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Monday, January 13, 2014

A blog before coffee!!!

It's really early for me and I have a busy day.  Hence,I'm  writing thos even before I get my coffee.

We did go to Fred Meyers yesterday.  That was my 2nd store for the week.  A lot of things were on sale and I had coupons.  Milk was 1.25 a half gallon.  Salsa was on sale for 2/4 and I had a coupon,
The strawberries were delightful.  The frozen fruit on ad did not have any 24 ounce packages.  At 16 ounces, the price was iffy.  I need to check Costco and grocery outlet to see the best price.  I froze some blueberries last summer.  We like blueberry banana oatmeal bread and blueberry pancakes and waffles. -remember to coat the blueberries with a little of the dry mixture so they incorporate into the batter better.

French fries were 2 pounds for a dollar.  The cheapest I have found them is a dollar a pound at the dollar store.  We have BBQ pork I got really inexpensive with coupons  and add the .50 a pound for fries and some coleslaw and you are still  under the five dollars.  I try to keep processed meat down to one meal a week.  Moderation , in my opinion is the key .

Four plus one is Five....Four people, one meal, five dollars.

We had salmon,rice, and a fruit cup last night.  That was a more than five dollar dinner.  I'll average it with a quiche or other cheap dinner another night.

  I cooked the rest of the hamburger meat to freeze.  It is surprising to see how little water came out of the hamburger.  Very little fat.  When I cooked a meat loaf with 20 percent fat, the meat loaf underpan was full of fat.

Keeping your meat budget down per meal is a must.  Because the price of meat has gone up 30
percent, it is getting harder to serve a slab of meat.  We rarely have pork chops, hamburgers, or a roast beef.  I still can serve proper protein by having things like casseroles, tacos, etc where the protein is augmented with cheese or eggs.

I found a pulled pork recipe.  The problem is that it was 1.79 a pound last time.  I have seen it as cheap as a buck a pound.  ( pork shoulder) . It calls for five pounds of pork.

Pulled pork BBQ

2 T chili powder
1 T onion powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1-1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

5-6 lb pork shoulder roast, cut in half.
4 - 1/2 cups water

2 cups BBQ sauce

1) dry roast with a paper towel.
2) rub the dry rub on the roast.  Cover and let stand in the fridge overnight.
3) uncover roast place roast in slow cooker
4)  add water
5) cover and cook on low 10 hours.
6) remove from cooker and shred meat with fork.
7) return to empty cooker with 2 cups of BBQ sauce and 3 cups of strained broth.
     Cook an additional 2 hours.

The USDA said the effects of the drought would be seen well into 2014.  Now there is a dairy scare.  I dont think that that will materialize.  Other than freezing cheese, there os not a lot you can do to hedge on that one.

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Suddenly Sunday

There was a big football game on yesterday and my husband bought me the Sunday paper.  I was thinking it was Sunday all day.  My daughter went out to lunch with a girlfriend and my husband went to a football party, I had the day to spend on my studio.  I got a lot done. valentines Day product has to hit the stores soon.  LOL

We had blue cheese burgers for dinner.  With the cost of beef these days, groceries on the cheap doesn't leave a lot of room for sinking your teeth into a whole piece of meat.  It was a really good treat.

Taking advantage of coupons and matching them with sales can make a big difference in the cost of your food.  You can eat well, and not spend your whole allowance for food.  There is another opinion in how to save on food out there.  It is based on the fact that if you don't eat from the inside of the isle  of the grocery store and only buy just what you need each week, you will save money.  Paying full price for food is just plain stupid.  Not eating beans, or rice and having no flour or salad oil or spices is also not very logical to me.  And, not having any backup reserve is also not an option for me.  We have storms in his part of the country.  Also, being left with no food in the fridge is not smart.  It forces you to go the store whether you feel like ot or not.  When you have to drag your but to the store, you don't make informed decisions.  When there is a disaster, you will be forced to pray on the generosity of those of us that stock.  In my opinion, it just not a sound practice. I guess maybe it is because that was not the way I was brought up.  My parents survived the Great Depression. It left it's mark on their way of thinking.

It does take some planning, somedue diligence    in managing your fridge and pantry.  Marking the shelves helps.  You know at a glance how many of something you have.  When the section of the shelf is full, you don't need any more.  Taking a good look at the fridge mid week, allows you the luxury of using up the bits  of things that are left.  It's a good day for a crock pot soup or stew.

There are times when the fridge seems empty, but we always have cheese and the basics of root veggies and most of the time sour cream and milk.  I have a back up supply of dry milk to use on a pinch, even though it costs more than fresh milk.  I almost always have brown and serve baguettes so we are not completely out of bread.

My husband informs me that we have a six  months supply of recipe starters.  I have been getting them for free.  There is not a large stock of them left at the dollar store, so I don't think that will be a problem.  I only "buy " them when I have a coupon and they are free.

The average SNAP that I have seen from the people that consult with me os 300.00 for a family of three .  They have cut that by 5 percent.  If a family is used to spending the average of 150.00 a week for food, they are rapidly going to have a problem living on the three hundred dollars a month food budget.  It is believable to eat on that. But not without some effort.

Let's break down some good, but inexpensive meals.

1) pizza, green salad when greens are inexpensive, fruit when it is not.
     Pizza crust 1.00 ( big lots) or scratch
     Pepperoni .50 ( dollar store with a coupon)
     Cheese ( 1/4 pound at 3.33 a pound at QFC) .84
     Tomato sauce ( 1/2 can ALBERTSONS .25
     Total. 2.59

2)  pasta primavera
      1 can recipe starter ( basil flavor) free at dollar tree with coupon.
       12 ounces pasta ( .88 at Fred Meyers). 66
       4 ounces cheese .84
       1 pkg veggies frozen  1.00 ( dollar store or QFC)
       1/2 cup sour cream .50 ( 1.00  Fred Meyers) or milk and some flour to thicken
Total 3.00

3) HORMEL BBQ beef or pork ( with coupon at QFC) 2.99
     Buns free at the bakery outlet
     French fries  ( 1 pound at Fred Meyers .50-- 1.00 for two pounds)
Total 3.50

This is all possible because of stocking and buying only the specials.  Some things can be frozen, some have a long shelf life, pasta for instance. Take advantage of what's free or on sale and incorporate it into your meal plans.  It's a little work. The rewards are  a small food bill , the peace of mind that there is always food in the house, and the smug satisfaction that you did it.

For a family not on SNAP, half price groceries saves the average family 4000.00 a year.  What would you do with an extra 4000.00 in your budget?

Thanks for stopping by

Please share.  I don't get money for this blog. I am trying to help people either get by on their SNAP
Allotment and have food left at the end of the month, or save money if they are not on snap.  I throw out ideas, what you do with the is your call.  I just want to help as many people as I can.  A lot of people are hurting, unemployment is still high, and many are underemployed.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Eventful Saturday: Rite Aid and Fred Meyers for tomorrow.

After taking almost an hour to get into google to post this, a "tree" falling on my car, and a mishap with granddaughters toilet training, I am spent and the day has just begun! LOL

My husband brought me the paper for tomorrow.  He also brought me a can of recipe starter that he purchased with a coupon for free.  We got one yesterday too along with two 3.50 packages of pepperoni for a total of .50.  That's 9.79 cents if you bought it straight out at the store, for a total of .....wait for it   .50.  That's extreme couponing.  I realize that some foodies wouldn't buy the stuff in the first place, but it is good food from name brand companies.  And,when you are on a strict thrifty budget, a pepperoni pizza or a casserole made of pasta, 9 percent meat and a tomato starter is good food.  

I am not seeing any bargains at rite aid.

Fred Meyers  has a very short ad for food.  Remember this ad starts tomorrow.,

Pot Roast  is 2.88
Loin chops are 1.99
Strawberries 2/5
Butter 2/4@@
Milk 4/5 ( 1/2 gallon ) includes chocolate milk and on @@
FM yogurt 3/1 @@
Hillshire farm smoked sausage 2/5@@ check for a matchup
Sour cream 10/10 remember,you some have to buy 10
Cottage cheese 2/4
Frozen French fries 2 lbs 10/10. That's a real bargain.
Pasta .99
Peanut butter 3/5 @@

Note 2-3/4 lbs deli chicken 8.99.  Do the math.  Regular chicken raw would be 2.75 or less.

Please note that there are a lot of really good coupons in tomorrow's paper.  Several are for a buck and the paper at the dollar tree is a buck.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Life is just one big balancing act

My son walked in a few days ago . He had been to the sample shop that was open before Christmas to benefit charity. His big purchase was three light up juggling balls.  He's really good at it.

It reminded me of my life.  My entire life since adulthood.  It's just one big juggling act, a big balancing act.  Trying to do everything that needs to be done and then some,

I run two businesses, work two days a week, take care of my granddaughter, run the house, write a blog, and belong to a service group for women.

I think that's why I am also for a balanced approach on grocery shopping on the cheap.  I coupon.  I do not spend 40 hours a week couponing.  I also don't buy 93 bottles  of hot sauce, or 120 candy bars.
I spend about two hours a month couponing-- an hour at the beginning of the month downloading the new months coupons, and about 10-15 minutes a week checking the match up web site for good matchups.

I think what I am saying is that groceries on the cheap is not my whole life.  I probably don't spend more time than the average family on grocery shopping.  I have learned to "make up any tome I spend on the front side of grocery shopping ( planning) on the cooking part.  Night before last we had a taco rice skillet from scratch.  It didn't take any longer than a hamburger meal box, but it was scratch, not out of a box.  Last night we had steak strips with veggies over rice and fruit cup.

There is a balance.  A balance in serving protein, veggies and starch in proportion, a balance in not spending your whole day grocery shopping, or planning your meals.  A balance in buying just the amount you need to get you through until the next time something is on sale.

Life is just one balancing act.

What to do with  what you got.

SAFEWAYS has good hamburger for 2.99.  Good hamburger is best for meatballs and meatloaf where you can replace the fat that isn't in the meat with veggies that will maintain some moistness.
Taco meat and crumbles can be defatted to render them with less fat than a boneless, skinless chicken breast.

Apples are on sale.  I see an apple cake in my future. Oranges are cheapest at Fred Meyers, a difference of half.  Orange quick bread or muffins are good for breakfast.  Also good side for breakfast for dinner.  Ditto berries.

Unless I am baking, olive oil is my oil of choice.  It boosts the good cholesterol.

What not to buy:  roasted chicken on the deli at SAFEWAYS os 6.49 for 30 ounces.  That is a little less than two pounds.  Forgive me for repeating myself.....

  • That os a net of 3.25 a pound.  That is over three times what it cost last week for raw chicken whole.  And well over three times when it was .79 a few weeks back.  
  • Less than two pounds means that you are paying too much for bone and getting little chicken.  Three pounds os the break even point and more is gravy.  
  • It takes about ten minutes to put a chicken on the oven.  Do the math.  Never mind the balance of meat to bone ratio, cooked chicken is 6.49.  Two pounds of sale chicken is 2.00 ( or less) difference 4.50 rounding.  Remember,get we also rounded the weight.  Ten minutes is 1/6 of an hour .  Six times 4.50 is 27.00 an hour.  With no taxes, that means to clear that much you would have to make 33.00 an hour.  
Remember, you want to average five dollars a dinner.  London broil is 2.99 a pound.  If you have a couple of I expensive meals, you can still have steak and stay on budget.  
I am writing this blog as if you are on snap and have an average of three hundred dollars or so for two to three people.  You can always spend more, learning how to spend a lot less is harder.  

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Terrific thursday

It's finally Thursday.  I  It's been a long week already.    The ads did not pop out as a good stocking week.  I do see good hamburger for low prices at SAFEWAYS.  In fact, SAFEWAYS seems to be my store of choice thos week.  ALBERTSONS has good prices on some staples of you include the " coupons".  My hesitation comes on wondering if that means that everything will be at sky high proces when you redeem them.  Then, you haven't saved anything.  If you can use the coupons when other things are a good proce, it might work.  It's a ploy to get you to come back week after week.  Most people shop one store.  The retailers make a lot of profit on the fact that the ads being you in and you will buy impulse buys to fill your cart.

Groceries on the cheap beats them at their own game.  Just buy the sales and what you really need and move on to another store to just buy what you need and the sales.  Avoid the impulse buys.  Thos helps if you don't go to the store hungry and you don't go with screaming kids or husbands that like to put stuff into the cart.  I don't begrudge the retailers a hefty profit, that's what they are in business for, I just think the people that have more money than time can be the ones to give it to them.

Sing two stores, buying the sale items that are on your target list, and getting out of the store is the ticket to saving a lot of money.  I get into two stores in a half an hour usually, unless ot is a store that I haven't been in lately and have to familiarize myself with the layout of the store.  It doesn't have to take all day.  Stick to the basics and plan your trip.  A little time at home will save you lots of time at the store.  Make your list.  Maybe as simple as staring or circling the things on the ad.  Check your coupon matchups.  Take your ads, your list and your coupons to the store.  Get on and get out. Mthey more time you spend in a store,the more money you will spend.

These are basic principles that are tried and true and can save you a lot of money.  Having the patience to plan your trip and work out the reward dollars the stores are offering you,can make a big difference in what you spend for groceries.  Groceries is the biggest discretionary item in your budget.  It os worth your while to cut the expense.

On to food.

Bananas are always a good price at Costco.  They were adding something to make them last longer, it made the packages wet and the bananas were yucky.  We returned them.  Watch for the bags to be sure they are not wet.  Berries are rich in antioxidants and remain within a budget.

Regular carrots are still within budget.  With careful planning, you can still find beef reasonable enough if you supplement it with pork and chicken and some vegetarian.  Eggs are still an inexpensive source of orotein, even with winter prices.  I do watch for the lowest proce, they have a long pull date.

I found a recipe for a bisquick beer bread, we are going to try it.  It should taste good with a hearty soup or chili.   Adding a bread to a meal is a good way to fill up hollow legs.

Guess that's all.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wicked Wednesday : the ads



Foster farms chicken .99
Yoplait  10/5
Cheese 2 lbs. 3.99@@
Pan bread .99@@
Fresh express salads 2.98 $$

ALBERTSONS had a new program.  They do not have store cards anymore.  But, they have something akin to rote and dollars, except ypu have to save the coupons.  There are some decent prices if you take onto consideration that you are getting coupons for more groceries., it is a bit more of a hassle than rote and, bit the savings Re there.  Plus, if you show upon game day woth a Seahawks jersey, there os another ten percent off.

Apparently there are people that are of the thought process that anything that takes a thought process is not worth the time.  Ifmyounhavemoldermchildren enough money, I guess it isn't,  to each his own.  I am not sure this is the best program for us.  I don't go to ALBERTSONS on a regular basis and it is on the next town.  I'll call these coupons rebates to be less confusing.

Ice cream 2/6 --2.00 - 2 rebate
Canned veggies 10/10 - buy 10, get 5 rebate
Canned beans 20/10- buy 10, get 5 rebate
Frozen veggies 10/10- buy 10- 5 rebate
Frozen potatoes 2/4 - buy 2- 1 rebate

That's forty dollars with 18 dollars of ALBERTSOMS money.  Almost half price.  The next question I would have is what kinds of specials are on the next week, and how long do the coupon ( rebates) work.  They won't do you any good of everything that you buy is full proce the next week.


Nalleys chili 1.00


Barilla pasta
Stagg chilli

Good ground beef 7 percent 2.99
Cheerios 1.88
Apples .99
Oranges .99
Chicken noodle soup .69$$
London broil 2.99

5 dollar Friday
Boston cream cake
Olive or cookin oil
K cups

That's about all.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Terrific Tuesday: winter veggies

I thought we could talk about winter veggies. We do resort to a lot more fruit in the winter.  None the less, root vegetables are a food substitute for summer veggies.  Carrots can be glazed, a nice addition to a chicken dinner.

You can oven roast almost any root vegetable.  I cut veggies I'm approximately,a rely the same thickness, drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle them woth salt and pepper,or a little rosemary.
Bake at 350-375 until they are done - about 20 minutes or so depending on the size of your veggies.  I use any combo of red potatoes, turnips, rutabagas. Onion, radishes, carrots,

We like sauerkraut. It is cheapest at Big lots.  I tried to make our own once, but my husband didn't like ot.  He likes sauerkraut,but not cabbage.  My mother used to fry cabbage with some bacon.
It was really good.

We also resort to frozen veggies.  Stir fry veggies are at the dollar store and you can add some chicken pieces with some soy sauce  over noodles or rice.

There is a coupon on last Sundays paper for 1.50 off of two bags of salad.  The last salad I looked at wasn't good, but you may catch a better shipment.  Don't rewash salad.  They did resting, and the salad that was not rewashed  had less germs than the one that was washed.  Go figure.

I just saw a butternut squash and bean chili recipe on Facebook.  I forgot all about squash.  We like acorn squash with butter and brown sugar and cinnamon.  It's really good with meat loaf.  Spaghetti squash is good too.  You can mash it like potatoes, or add rutabagas or turnips to your mashed potatoes.

I guess that's all  I can think of.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday madness

Here it is Monday again.  Yesterday I did not go to Rite Aid or Fred Meyers.  Whilst there were some good buys  at Freddie's, I didn't need anything.  I made split pea soup , this time with new split peas.  There were done in less time than the slow cooker recipe called for.  I guess the lesson here os to buy just the amount of split peas that you can use in a reasonable time.  We tend to go in cycles and like something for a while and then get tired of it  and try something else. 'Y husband did go to Costco with my daughter and brought home bananas.  They are cheaper there than anywhere else.

During the winter, some standard veggies are cheaper than other places at Costco because their prices are pretty stable year round.

One of the ways you can keep costs down is to go with the flow.  In other words, when something os too expensive, find an alternative.  Especially when the expensive thing is a perishable that is not at it's prime that time of the year.  If you are out of something. Think outside the box.  Out of bread for toasted cheese sandwiches, use tortillas and make quesadas.  I buy them in bulk at Costco and keep them in the fridge.

One way we have been able to keep a low budget is that we went to two nights a week eating a vegetarian dinner.  It was my answer to the droughts high prices on meat, especially beef.  The USDA  thinks that the high prices will still be here well into 2014, last time I checked.

Using leftovers wisely is another way to keep costs down.  Mid week is the time to survey the fridge and use up anything that could be rapidly approaching the edge.  Vegetable soup?  I saw a recipe for lettuce soup.  Pizza?  There is a post on an earlier blog about almost free pizza.  My co worker didn't hear well, she wanted to know who was giving away free pizza!?! lol.
There are still coupons out there for recipe starter.  It makes them cheaper than scratch.  The problem is that our dollar store doesn't have any left.  The coupons used to be for .50 and that made them free.
There is a coupon out there for a dollar off cheese and it is a dollar at grocery outlet.  It os circulating on Facebook.  I didn't know that grocery outlet took coupons. I do know that big lots doesn't and they don't take snap either.  You can at times find good free at the store with a coupon.  If I find one, I will certainly tell you.  I realize that not all of the people that read this are in the PNW.  Your coupon matchup site should tell you of these.  Be diligent and keep your eyes open.  You never know where you might find a bargain.

The biggest thing in all of this is to know your prices.  If you don't have a memory for numbers, write the prices  down of your stock items.  It's the best tool to stretch your food dollar.  If you just buy the same things regardless of price, and just buy what you need for that week, you are shooting yourself in the foot.  It's a good way to run out of money before you run out of month.  You are throwing money away that you could be spending on a stockpile so that you have a cushion if something happens.  You might have enough money in the bank, but preparing for that day that you're too sick to get out, you are home with a sick grandchild that can't go to school, the weather is not conducive of going out safely.  It snows here, and we are crippled because of the high hills.  It's so cold in Chicago today, people are being advised to stay home. It's good to have a stockpile of so,etching besides a jar of pickles.  LOL.  I'm not advocating hoarding a Nd you won't find 93 bottles of hot sauce on my pantry.  You can laugh at the hoarders and the extreme couponers, or you can take the best from them and do it on moderation. Our grandmothers put food up for the winter.  It was the thing to do.

Guess that's all.  Thanks for stopping by

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday notes

I spent yesterday cleaning house and taking down some Christmas decorations.  I roasted a chicken and we had Chicken  Alfredo for dinner.  I still have a half of a chicken breast and the dark meat for meals.  The bones for soup stock.

That is four meals from a five dollar chicken.  Now, I realize that if you have teenage boys and a large man to feed, that probably won't work.  But, I am also feeding is on HALF of the USDA statistics for thrifty budget.  You, if you are on snap, you have a lot of wiggle room and can still manage to eat well and have some food left over at the end of the month.

The things to remember is  :

A) don't pay what my mom used to call top dollar for anything .  You want to find the food items that you use on a regular basis for 1/2 price.  You can achieve this by buying in quantity    when they are on sale and not purchasing them again until there is another sale.

B) portion controlling your meat.  By cooking a batch of meat and portioning it in freezer bags, you can control the amount of meat eaten.  A four ounce portion of meat is adequate for anyone.  No one needs to eat a whole roast by themselves.  LOL.

 When my children were going through the hollow leg syndrome, I bought inexpensive " snacks" that they liked and they knew they could eat all they wanted of .  I always had beef and bean burritos, peanut butter sandwiches, Top ramen, popcorn and an air popper and oatmeal.

The meal plans were posted on the fridge so they knew what was supposed to be for a meal.  I used to stair step meals so often there would be something in the fridge earmarked for the next meal.  If you have a child that would be a glutton for a particular food, don't buy it or hide it; especially if they are over weight.  Or tell them, this is the months allotment, when it is gone, it's gone.  

Not buying sugar coated cereal is another must.  It's  expensive and not good for the children.  Cornflakes, Cheerios, shredded wheat, puffed wheat are all good and inexpensive especially when you can get a coupon and a sale. No child needs to eat four boxes of cereal in a week.  A bowl in the morning with some fruit and whole wheat toast is ample.  I have seen some young men take everybody's  share of a food because they like it,  and then not be able to eat it all.  That is just plain rude, especially at someone else's house.  Teach children to look at the serving bowl and the amount of other people that haven't been served yet, and take an appropriate portion.  If they are too young to do that, you probably need to be fixing their plate.  I have seen some families that the children were allowed to take a little but of everything.  When they wanted seconds, they could have a little bit of everything again.  It forced them to eat well balanced.  I am not sure that is the best idea because of they hated Brussels sprouts, they might leave the table hungry.  I don't want to see any child be hungry, but I don't think they need to get onto the habit of gorging on a particular food either.  The key to anything in life is balance.

 You can with some planning and some careful shopping feed your family good nutritious food on a budget.  I have averaged less than seventy- five dollars a week for three adults.  I have a pantry and freezer full of food.  I would not need to go to the store for anything but perishables for some time. Periodically, I do that.  There were several weeks last month that I spent about thirty dollars a week.
It's a good feeling to not have to run to the store for something-- especially when it is bad weather.

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Suddenly Saturday.. A sneak peek at Fred Meyers and Rite Aid,

My husband got me tomorrow's paper at the dollar tree.  It was complete with two smart sources.
I save my coupon inserts in binder clips by month.  When I look at a coupon matching site, it will tell me what inserts the coupons are on that match up with the ads.  That way I am not spending a lot of time clipping coupons for things I won't use.  I do see a coupon for toothpaste for .50 and one for 1.50 off fresh express salads including spinach.  I buy toothpaste when I can get it for free or nearly free to give to the women's shelter.  Lately, I haven't had a lot of ouch finding cheap toothpaste.

The ads

Snows clams or clam chowder .99
HORMEL chicken or turkey 1.29$$
Dried cranberries .79

Hamilton beach 3 quart slow cooker 12.99

Walgreens I got three Wallgreens flyers and no rite aid flyer.

Senior day, Tuesday the 7th
20 percent off all Walgreens brand and 15 percent off almost all else.  Use AARP card.
I am not seeing any real bargains.  Special K is 3/5 and I think there are coupons out there.

Oranges .49 lb
Broccoli, cauliflower. .99
Barilla pasta, blue box .79@@
Fred Meyers beans or tomatoes 2/1@@
Staff chili 1.00
Bell peppers 2/1

That's about all.  I will check the coupon match ups or try to fond a rite and flyer!  

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Friday , strategies of groceries on the cheap

I thought today I would talk about strategies. You can take groceries on the cheap as a game.  The USDA has dollar figures of what it should cost you for food at home for three different budget situations. This gives you bench mark.  It does not include junk food, just the regular food groups.  The other bench mark, a bit less scientific, is to look at the savings at the bottom of your receipt.

I usually see about 46 percent at the bottom of the receipt.  I have seen as much as 69 percent.  Not quite  the stats of an extreme couponer, but I only had things on our cart that we actually would use up and eat.    The only time anyone has paid me to bring stuff from the store is at rite aid.  That is because you can matchup sales with coupons AND get rite aid  up rewards ( rite aid cash) the next day and the net of that is a negative amount.  I can usually roll over my rite aid dollars for quite some time.  I don't buy a lot of meds and makeup, so sometimes it is difficult, but I can usually spend the rite aid dollars on something else that is a bargain.  One time it was sox for a quarter a pair. One time I netted four pairs of underwear and 4- two liter bottles of soda for 4.00 and change.  The pop wound up being a dime a bottle.  I have some for the holidays, but most generally don't buy pop.  It's one of the things that there is little room for on a tight  budget or snap.

Going to two stores and just buying the good priced items is a way to get the best of two stores and allow you the luxury of buying the best looking produce.  This is most beneficial during the summer. When fresh produce gets too high in price and the quality goes down, we switch to canned and frozen a lot augmented with the fruits that are in season and cheap.  Apples and oranges come to mind this time of year.  I try for a buck a pound as a benchmark now,  in the seventies it was .39.  The eighties brought us .69.  And now it is a buck.  How times change.

My benchmark for meat is two bucks.  I have had to amend that for beef when the effects of the

drought sent the price of beef soaring out of control.  We cut the number of times we ate beef a week, and the roast that we had frequently has become less frequent.  If I can get a roast cheaper than good hamburger, I grind my own.  Actually, my husband grinds it.

I have a matrix for meal plans so that we eat a variety of foods.  Your matrix is probably not the same.  Have a plan.  You don't have to always follow the plan, but have a plan.  Without a plan, it is too easy to fall into the take out or order pizza trap.  Make meal plans when you get home from the store using your outline.  Making meal plans before is harder because the meat you were going to buy may look bas, be gone, or be on too large a package.  I once was going to buy a pork loin.  When I got to the store, it had previously been frozen and was huge.  For top much meat for us to use up effectively.  Only two of us eat pork.  Be flexible.  One time I walked onto ALBERTSONS and they announced that Dover sole was two bucks a pound because they overbought and needed to move it.  Get you can't guess what we had for dinner that night.  I always keep a couple of really easy, quick
meals on hand.  You never know when the situation arises when you need to make dinner fast.  That's when a ready made that you have found cheaper than scratch comes on, or a cheap pizza, or breakfast for dinner, soup and sandwiches.  I buy boxed tomato soup at Costco when I find it.  It is two bucks or so a box.  I add basil ( fresh if I have  it in the garden) and blue cheese and a little milk.  The soup is upwards of three dollars, closer to four on the store.  I refuse to buy anything that is overpriced unless I don't have an alternative and it is something we just have to have, like milk for instance.  Dry milk is more expensive than regular milk.  I only buy what I need for some mixes.

Making your own mixes can be a real momey saver.  Taco seasoning is really expensive.  I see it on sale for a buck.  There is an older post with the recipe.  Spices are a buck at the dollar store and sometimes I see them cheaper at some of the alternative stores.  If I can't get them there, I get them at Costco.  If Costco  regular doesn't have them, I go to business Costco.  If all the spices are too much, consider getting together with some friends and making a batch and splitting it.  That also works for  large sacks of beans or rice.  I have purchased my spices a little at a time and so it wasn't a burdon on
the budget.

Bread crumbs are another thing that is stupid to buy.  You are paying big money for someone else's dry bread .  When we have crumbs, or leftover heels of a baguette, I put them on the oven to dry. ( cold oven) when they are dry, I whirl them in the food processor.  Before I had a food processor, I grated them on a sheet pan with my box grater outside on the deck.  Do the math.  I saw a 10 ounce box of breadcrumbs for 2.40.  That's .24 an ounce or 3.84 a pound.  More than the meat on your table.

I do buy bisquick now, the cost of the dry milk to make it is cost prohibitive, and   My recipe calls for shortening that I don't want to ingest.  I only use olive oil if I can.  There are a few things in baking that I use vegetable oil for.

I try to walk a fine line between economy and reducing our exposure to unhealthy foods.  We all need to reduce our salt and sugar consumption.  Fat has always been a problem.  By using portion control with our meats, and avoiding the purchase of snack foods like potato chips, we can eat more healthy.  We eat lean pork and chicken , and I defat our hamburger and sausage.  Defatting hamburger can render it with less fat than a boneless, skinless chicken breast.

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thursday ,the ads and some notes

The week is almost gone and it will be time to put away the Christmas decorations and get back to normal around here. I, for one, will welcome the getting back to a normal grocery ad.  We don't need half of the ad being taken up with expensive snack trays and booze.  I just want real food.

I did take advantage of the premade cookies with Christmas on them.  They were fifty cents a tray.  My granddaughter had a good time making cookies with her mom.  Like my daughter said, your stomach doesn't know  that they have Christmas trees on them.  LOL.

I did gleam a couple of bargains at Wallmart.   I don't usually go to Walmart, but we went to the bread outlet.  I got bread for 1.59 and found the brown and serve bread that Costco regular hasn't had lately.  It is a buck a loaf, which is a good price as baguettes go, and it keeps on the fridge quite a while.  Walmart did not have a lot of food buys. It is not a super store, but the prices were mostly higher than what I normally pay.  I did  get chicken noodle soup for .75 and a smoked bacon mashed potato packet for a buck.  I would rather pay the .80 I usually pay, but we liked the smoked bacon and not everyone carries it.

I did score a. Hello Kitty nightgown for granddaughter.  It was ten dollars, but all Christmas was 50 percent off.  It rang ten bucks and my husband told the cashier that it was Christmas and was supposed to be 1/2 off.  The guy charged us three dollars.  Again, that is a way to get more for your money.  We don't care what is on her Nightgown, it's perfectly useful.  She likes it because it has hello kitty on it.  It's a lesson in frugality.  The same held true on the 70's when my dad asked me why we had pear pieces instead of whole pears.  They were half the proce and our tummies didn't know the difference.

The ads.

chicken .99
Pasta 1.00

Buy 5, save 5, net prices

HORMEL entrees 3.99$$
Crackers. 2.29
Kellogg's Special K 1.99

Tillamook yogurt 10/5
Tangerines 3 lbs/ 3.49

Five dollar Friday
8 lbs oranges
Ground turkey

Apples .99
Yoplait 10/5$$
Berries BOGO

Bread , tuna 10/10
Milk 2.19@@

1.00 each
Nalley chili
Diced chilies
Pasta, barilla

That's about it.  No one store stands out as having a lot of bargains.  I got tuna for .77 at Bartells,
probably still .77 if you shop early in the week, usually drug stores run Sunday threw Saturday.  The Nalley chili is the same price as ALBERTSONS and there is turkey chili.   Coffee for five bucks at Safeway would be a draw for me as well as 40 ounces of frozen fruit for five bucks.  Petite sirloin steak is 2.99.  That would make it a good time to grind hamburger.  Good hamburger is five dollars or so a pound last I checked.  You can net the same fat content for three bucks and a little effort.  If you have a kitchen aid mixer attachment, it's easy, but you can also use the kind great grandma used.

They are cheap at almost any regular antique store.

Pasta is a buck, I am not finding any blue box pasta coupons.  I am finding all of specialty pasta coupons.  Be sure to check the coupon matchup sites because I very well could have missed something. I am not a coupon guru.  Extreme couponer I am not, but if I can score a few bucks off
my bill with little effort, I will.  The coupons for the month are not great.  The best buy that I found was the HORMEL entrees for 3.99 at QFC.  Not all the " flavors" are good.  We do like the sirloin tips. With the coupons out there, it makes them about the same or less than scratch.  With a salad or frozen vegetable and rice or instant mashed potatoes, you can have dinner on the table in less than ten minutes and still under five bucks.  Now, as a kaviat , if you have a man that doesn't eat anything until dinner, it probably won't be enough for 2 adults and two children.  We are talking a 1/2 cup ( four ounce) portion.  It does feed, my husband and and our adult son.

One other note, ALBERTSOMS has pasta sauce for a buck. Bartells has the same sauce for .79.
I do not run to a store for one thing if the savings is not substantial.  I won't go to ALBERTSONS just for the milk, ot would cost more to get there than the savings.  But, QFC is close and the savings are remarkable.  SAFEWAYS is also close enough  and has enough buys to make ot worth my while.  Bartells is close by and the savings were remarkable there too.  I suspect when Wallgreens opens across the street, we might see better buys at Bartells too.

Guess that's all.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year...the basics, part 3. Cooking from scratch

Happy new year!  New Years is all about resolutions!right, LOL.

The third on the basics  of groceries on the cheap is cooking from scratch.  We all know that cooking from scratch is more healthy because we aren't eating a whole lot of preservatives and things that we can't pronounce.

Cooking from scratch does not have to mean that you are spending hours on the kitchen.  We all have busy lives.  If it is you hobby and you enjoy cooking all day, go for it.  If not, there are alternatives that still allow you to eat better for less.

One of the biggest time and money savers is batch cooking.  There are people that freezer cook.  For some reason, that doesn't appeal to me. Probably  because it takes two days out of your life-- a luxury that most people with kids on the house don't have and I don't have the stamina at my age to stand on my feet for all day.  Batch cooking takes a single item of protein and cooks enough for that particular items worth of meals for a month.

For instance, I usually cook two chickens when they are at a buck or below a pound.  I bag them in dark meat, breast, and soup bones enough for a meal.  Dinner time is a whole lot less hextic, the mess happens once, and then weeknight dinners are easy.  Shopping os easier because you are looking for a particular cut of meat that is on sale cheap.  Remember if your family won't eat it, it's not a bargain.

There are many recipes out there for skillet and slow cooker meals.   Soup from scratch is a good, inexpensive dinner with a roll or bread.  No need for the expensive boxed dinners.  My daughter and I dissected a hamburger meal box.  It was really an interesting eye opener. ( see older post).  Since then, the company has redone their boxes.  I got one for free, but haven't dissected that one yet.

Juice boxes and most fruit cups that are ready made are really expensive and full of refined sugar.  We feed our children way too much refined sugar and salt.  It is hidden on a lot of foods.
You are much better off making your own fruit cup, or better yet, just having the raw fruit.
Convenience foods start with the letter $$$$.

There are a few dinners that I can put on the table on about fifteen  minutes.  Tacos is one of them.  I have to admit that there are times when I enlist help to do it sooner. Tomato soup and cheese and a baguette is another fast meal.  I used to have roast beef in freezer bags for roast beef a jus sandwiches and a green salad-- before the price of beef took a big hike.  I am afraid that once people have learned to either suck it up and pay the high price, or do without that "they" will decode we can continue to pay the high price.  Fortunately, we have learned to eat hamburger when I can get it cheap, or a roast when I can find  it under three bucks and chicken and pork along with a couple of vegetarian meals to fill in.  If we have a meal that seems short on meat or other protein, I serve a desert or salad that beefs up the protein.  Creme brûlée , pudding, cottage cheese salad, deviled eggs and a veggie tray starter.

Breakfast for dinner is a good save for a low cost dinner.  Kids love it.  Chocolate waffles are just waffles with some raw cocoa in the batter.  The kids think they are having desert for dinner.  I usually serve it with yogurt laced with granola and fruit.  The nutrition is there, but they think they are getting desert for dinner!  I don't do it often, but it's a real hit!!! ( like maybe twice a year). Yogurt is sometimes really cheap with a coupon,  I have got it as cheap as .12 a carton for Tillamook.

There are coupons out there for real food.  I am not finding them so prevalent the last couple of weeks, hoping the new year brings better ones.  The new months are out, download them soon, when the high procedure ones are gone, they are gone.  There is a limit on them.  The manufacturer allows just so many to be printed.  To be polite, don't print one that you aren't going to use.  It's goes along with the polite rule not to clear the shelves.  Leave some for someone else.

I digress.  Off the scratch food

BBQ chicken made with homemade BBQ sauce and the dark meat you cooked.  Spread the pieces and heat on the oven finishing off under the broiler for a few seconds.

Chicken pot pie
Chicken and noodles  noodles are easy to make of you have the time.
Chicken cassaroles are plentiful on the Internet.
Buffalo chicken pizza ( pizza crust is on a real early post)

Meatballs can be made a zillion ways, meat ball subs, meat balls with rice, noodles, mashed potatoes, spaghetti sauce....
Taco and rice skillet

No Brainer pasta ( earlier post)

Pork chops
Pork loin roast
Sausage breakfast for dinner
Sausage and bean soup

Ham and split pea soup
Ham quiche
Ham amd pineapple pizza
Ham and scalloped potatoes

Bean and rice burritos
Bean vegetable soup
Cheese pizza
Scrambled eggs and hash browns and fruit

There are many more, but that's what I came up with off the top of my head!

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Please feel free to share and comment on what your favorite cheap dish is.