Saturday, January 30, 2016

Stair step meals.

Stair step meals are meals where what you cook today, meets up with another meal later.    Its not leftovers; but  rather, planned double batching to cut the work in the kitchen.  I'm all about cutting work for in the kitchen while attempting to make scratch cooking easy.    My mantra is spend more time planning a shopping trip and shopping for RBP, and less time in the kitchen.  With tricks you can make semi scratch cooking and save a lot of money.   I do a lot of prep and batch cooking early in the day or on weekends so that I don't have to cook an hour meal at dinner time.    ( I'm old and I have a toddler to watch at meal time. ) sometimes we cook together.   She loves to count and stir.

I digress, stair step meals. ( written some time ago)
Anytime you are chopping anything that could go on a pizza, put it in a bag or box that you keep in the freezer door.   Ditto meats ( keep them separate).  Mark the containers and reuse them.  Anytime you are ready for pizza, the hard work is already done.  I call this almost free pizza.   O

1) impossible ham and cheese pie.  Green salad, or salsa of salad greens are too expensive.  At the time of the original writing, lettuce was three dollars a head.  Ham cubes are anywhere from 4-5 dollars a package.  A package can stretch to three or four meals depending on whether or not it's the only protein in the meal.   ( use 1/3 of the package)

2) pasta bake - use sausage and cheese.   Serve with salad or fruit cup.( not in an individual cup) ,
     Save some pasta sauce for pizza.  ( freeze)

3) roast chicken or pork mashed potatoes, green beans, salad.   Save some,chicken or pork for sweet and sour chicken or pork later in the week.  

4)sweet and sour chicken or pork.  
     1 lb chicken or pork cut into cubes
      1/4 cup Dijon mustard, divided
      3 T soy sauce , divided

1 pkg chicken flavored ramen noodles
1-8 ounce can pineapple, reserve juice.
1/2 cup water
2T brown sugar
1/2 tsp ginger, 1 T cornstarch
2 cups broccoli, cut
1/4 cup chopped red paper.
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded cabbage
2T vegetable oil ( or olive)

In bowl, combine chicken , 2T mustard and 1 tsp soy sauce.  Set aside
I'm small bowl combine remaining mustard and soy sauce, chicken flavor packet from noodles, reserved pineapple juice, water, brown sugar, ginger,  and cornstarch,

This is where I wing it because my notes from forty-five years ago, got up a split from my 70s cookbook.

Stir fry broccoli, onion, cabbage, red pepper on the oil.   Add chicken, add pineapple mixture.  Heat through.

Serve over rice.    ( reserve rice)

5)  stuffed green or colored peppers ( from the bag of peppers? ) use reserved rice, cooked hamburger, chopped peppers. And a can of diced tomatoes, drained.  Reserve juice to add to tomato or pasta sauce to bake the peppers in.

6) almost free pizza.   Use reserved past sauce for the pizza sauce.   Add saved pineapple, ham, or cooked hamburger, peppers, onion, chicken and cheese, or any combination you prefer for pizzas.

Tomorrows ad- Fred Meyer and notes

Feb 2nd, Tuesday, is senior day at Fred Meyers.   Ten percent off private label food and regular merchandise ( with exceptions).  This is in addition to any other coupons  or discounts.   There is a twenty percent off housewares coupon in the paper.  

There is a coupon off red Barron pizza in the paper ( insert) .  Note that next weekend will be the sale of the year on pizzas.   I haven't found any DiGiorno or Freschetta coupons. But they will probably appear either on or in the inserts.  I do try to find red Barron on sale cheap.   We add our own toppings and I basically use it for the crust.   Sometimes ,  I don't feel like making crust from scratch.  

Private selection ground beef 3.99 ( senior ten percent on Tuesday) 3.60
DiGiorno pizza 3.99.
Nalleys chilli .99@@
Red Barron 3.19$$
Mission tortillas 1.00$$ makes them .75
Johnsonville smoked sausage 2.99- coupon?  
Private selection fruit pie 3.49 - 3.14 on Tuesday for seniors.  

That's about it.  

Thanks for stopping by


Friday, January 29, 2016

Five Easy Meals

I'm making a point this month to
A) use up the things in the pantry that are accumulating,
B) use up leftovers and not waste.   Keep a better eye on the crisper.  
C) try new recipes - broaden our horizons.  

I have a lot of cookbooks and I just found two from the dollar tree that are very interesting.   One is southern comfort foods and the other is western foods- a lot of ethnic foods.

1) tonight we had hot dogs ( the 2nd half of the package I got at QFC for three dollars.  Buns 1/2 from Winco  .68. And a suddenly salad from the pantry (.75) with grape tomatoes .50.   Total 3.09.  

2) I get a box of organic tomato and roasted red pepper soup from Costco.  ( 10.99/6) we usually ad basil, milk or cream, and blue cheese.    I plan to add the milk and basil, but skip the blue cheese.   I found a recipe for pepperoni and cheese breadsticks in the Bisquick CB.   I get pepperoni form.50 at the dollar tree .   1.83 , .50, .50 equals 2.83.

3) we have a pork tenderloin from when I got them for 2/5 at Winco,    I will add mashed sweet potatoes (1.00) and some veggies from the freezer.  .65.  Total 4.15

4) chicken pot pie.    1/2 chicken breast 1.20,  cream of mushroom soup .40, mixed veggies .65.   Bisquick   Total 2.25

5) chicken nachos : adapted from Betty Crocker on line CB.  1/2 chicken breast, black beans, mixed peppers chopped, black olives sliced, drained chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, cheese over tortilla chips.   Total,cost 4.99 less leftovers 3.99. ( see cookbook for recipe) .

Five meals all of which are less than five dollars.    Not including staple items, but still well under the five dollar amount and kid friendly.  

I've read a lot of articles , books, and booklets on eating in a low budget.   I am convinced that instead of sacrificing taste, nutrition, or omitting a food group, it makes more sense to eat regular meals and concentrate on cooking from scratch, making some mixes of your own, and buying your food at rbp's.  

You don't need to steal sugar packets from fast food, take the family through Costco on sample day , or forge for food.    Just buy the best quality inexpensive cuts of meat and be diligent about finding food at rbp's and keep a small stock so you can eat until that product goes on sale again.  

Thanks for stopping by

Please share


Thursday, January 28, 2016

The ads

Yesterday, we went to QFC with five dollar off twenty five dollar coupon.    The closer you stay at the twenty five dollar mark, the better buy you get.    Five off of twenty five is twenty percent.   If you spend more, your percent off goes down.   I spent 25.06.    I didn't use a calculator, I just kinda added on my head.   QFC has a two week ad.

I bought meat, eggs, and fruit and vegetables.  All were on sale and I used coupons.

I then went to Winco and filled on the few things that I still needed.    I still haven't found white beans at RBP, but I picked up two to get me by at .68.   Winco does not have white beans with their brand on them.    My husband informed m after the trip that we are out of French fries.  That's hard for me to believe, so I'm going to have to make my way down stairs ( no easy feat with my hip) and make sure no one put the right thing in the wrong bin.   Our freezer is organized by bin.   All vegetables , frozen potatoes, and meat by categories are in their separate bins. ( dollar store) when the bin is getting low, someone is supposed to tell me.  I don't  get downstairs often.  It's a challenge.

Buns for hot dogs and hamburgers are 3.50 at our neighborhood store.   The hot dog buns I got were .68.  That is a remarkable difference.   Usually, hamburger bins are .88.   They are a little smaller, but since  I am counting carbs, that doesn't bother me.   Sliced black olives in a small can are a good buy, more oroduct for your buck and they were lower than the usual .70.  Coffee was 5.88.
 Total 28.56 for both stores.  

Safeways and Albertsons ad
Again, not much there that is a bargain.  I used  to find good prices at Safeways.    Now, I am spending more at Fred Meyers and Winco.

Buy 5, save 5
Cereal 1.99-2.49.
I don't buy cold cereal much.   If I do, it's in a bag or at Costco.    Sugar coated cereal is another way to jack your bill up.   Granddaughter likes mush (oatmeal) .
BBQ sauce .99
Kraft salad dressing 1.49$$
Mayo 2,99
Coffee 6.99$$ maxwell house

Pork chops , seasoned B1,get three.   The last time they had this price, the packages were 25.00 and netted 2.00 a pound. With a coupon!

Five dollar Friday Safeways
Ff wings
2 lbs cheese
Pudding ring 2/5

Five dollar Friday Albertsons
Chilli 5/5

That's  about it.  

Thanks for stopping by

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Chicken soup

Yesterday I cooked a chicken in the crockpot.    Undoubtedly, the easiest, fastest, no brainier way to cook a whole chicken,   I got a 5.5 pound chicken for .87 a pound.    I'm thinking it was 5.50.   We have three other meals out of it besides the chicken soup I made last night.

Crockpot chicken. 

1) peel and rough cut a medium or two small onions and put in the bottom of crockpot.     
2) make a rub of paprika, onion  powder, garlic powder and salt and pepper.    
3) clean out the insides of the chicken.  I put it in a colander in the sink.   Put some salt in the cavity.  
4) put the chicken in the crockpot and coat  the chicken with spice rub.   
5) put the lid on and cook on high for an hour a pound.   ( I cooked the 5.5 pound chicken for six hours) 

This makes fantastic stock.   I defatted  it , added some better than bouillon, chopped  celery, carrots, and some of the tomato  spaghetti from the other night cut up. 

 I pulled the chicken from the crockpot and cut to breast portions off. I cut off the legs and thighs and wings  and put them in a Ziploc bag for the freezer. I put each breast in a separate bag. With the rest of the carcass , I picked the meat and put it in the soup pot. 
I served the soup with Italian bread made with parmesean cheese and peppercorns.  

Easy, and a lot of passive cooking,   

I will get three other meals from the 5.50  chicken plus a lunch-about 1.40 a meal .  

I will also make 

Chicken pot pie from 1/2 a chicken breast, mixed veggies, white sauce made from a homemade mix. And Bisquick.   

BBQ thighs and legs ( put BBQ sauce on thawed chicken that has been heated on the microwave for 2 min or so.  Broil in oven.   Serve with French fries and fruit or green salad . 

Sliced chicken breast,  mashed sweet potatoes , peas and carrots.     

4 meals for three ( daughter  is a vegetarian) for 5.50. 

Thanks for stopping by. 


Monday, January 25, 2016

What to do with what you got.

I am hearing that the biggest problem about meals is knowing or getting inspiration about what to cook.  I decided I would try to take what I purchased on sale yesterday, a lot of which was 1/2 price or more and make dinner plans.   Having a list of meals might give someone inspiration.  

First, I got up this morning and put the chicken in the slow cooker and put a loaf of parmesean peppercorn Italian bread in the bread baker.    I'm on the road to a chicken orzo vegetable soup and French bread for dinner.  

  1. Chicken orzo, vegetable soup.   Italian parmesean peppercorn bread . 
  2. Chicken pot pie. ( frozen mixed veggies, 1/2 chicken breast cut up,1 recipe cream soup base, and a Bisquick crust.   
  3. BBQ chicken thighs and legs.   French fries ( five pounds for about 3.00 at Winco) blueberries and oranges ( oranges are a buck a pound or less everywhere, Blues were five for 18 ounces) . 
  4. Bacon, waffles. Yogurt parfait a ( youngest, blieberroes, granola.   ) granola is at dollar tree, yougert  was .40 with a coupon at FM, ) 
  5. Roast chicken breast, mashed sweet potatoes,  mixed vegetables.  
  6. Tomato basil soup.   Parmesean pepperoni bread sticks ( Bisquick CB)  soup is at Costco in a box.   
  7. Pizza - add cheese and pepperoni 
  8. Pizza - add cheese and pepperoni 
I still have artichokes, cornbread and rice mixes.    
Other meals 
From ground meat 

  1. Shepherds pie 
  2. Spaghetti and meatballs 
  3. Meatballs, broccoli rice, white sauce. Mixed veggies.   
  4. Sloppy joes. Use buns from Winco (.88) and sloppy joe sauce ( catsup, water, dry mustard, liquid smoke, ground pepper 
  5. Hamburgers ( rest of the buns) 
  6. Chilli, beans, corn bread 

From pork chops 

  1. Stir fry and rice   ( stir fry vegetables are 1.29 or so at Winco. Cook rice from dollar store, add cooked park chopsmthatnaremcut into small pieces.    
  2. Pork chops, browned and put on top of bread dressing with Apple and dried cranberries.    Salad 
  3. Pork chops, mashed potatoes w bacon ( .60 with coupon at Winco) crazed carrots 

I could go on forever prolly, but hats a good start.   



Sunday, January 24, 2016

Grocery hauls-- Sunday

Big lots was twenty percent off the whole store.   I went to dollar store( across the street) to get the Sunday paper.    Then, we went to Fred Meyers.   I lucked out at all three stores with coupons.    Not the two cent bottom line that one might find in the infamous tv show, but half is good to me.   I want to average 1/2 on everything .

Big lots

  1. Christmas was 90 percent off and then another twenty percent off.   I got 25.00 worth of things that mostly go for year round for less than two dollars.    Wrapping paper ( stR wars, Disney princess and Dora for twenty cents a roll.    Decorated boxes for .56 instead of 7.00.   A red bow (Valentine's day) for .18.   
  2. Marshmallows that are cheapest at 1.00 were 2/ 1.52. 
  3. Marie calendars corn bread 1.52
  4. Artichoke hearts .80
Total 4.64 
Dollar tree 
  1. Uncle bens rice mixes 2/1.00 with coupon 
  2. Jenne-o turkey bacon 
  3. Hormel sliced pepperoni 2/1 with coupon 
  4. Betty Crocker mashed sweet potatoes 
Total 4.00         2.00 in coupons 
Fred Meyers 
  1. Two packages frozen mixed veggies 1.28
  2. Yo plait 10 /4.00 with coupon 
  3. Mission tortillas (10) .25 with coupon 
  4. Blueberries 18 ounces 4.99
  5. 2 milk 1.98
  6. 2 red Barron pizzas 2.88 ea 
  7. Foster farms chicken 5.49 ( .87 per lb.) 
Total 23.75  coupons 4.55

Grand total for food 32.39
Coupon savings 6.55
Does not include the savings vs regular priced .   

Quality or quantity -- ?

 Quality or quantity ?.... Why not have both.    If you shop wisely, you can have both on a meager budget.    It takes time.    I make up the time by being very efficient in the kitchen.   I don't believe that you have to sacrifice meat to keep on a small budget.    I'm not convinced that eating no meat can give you proper nutrition.   I am hearing if too many people that have iron deficiency .  It is very hard to get enough iron and not eat meat. There is iron in turkey, but more in beef.    We do not eat the beef  we used to eat when it was cheap.    We still eat beef once or twice a week.   We also eat fish and chicken and pork.

Skimping on quality is not something I'm going to do.  You can still eat inexpensive cuts of meat and buy the best quality.  There are some things I am very picky about.  

  •  I only buy NW chickens.    I buy whole usually.  It gives you the most meat for your buck.    
  • I buy hot dogs occasionally, mostly in the summer.  I will only buy Nathan's or Hebrew national.    
  • Kirkland albacore tuna is the best I have found. 
  • I buy seven to nine percent hamburger.   I de-fat  it as well as sausage.   
  • Sausage is jimmy dean,   
Staying in a limited budget doesn't mean you have to eat lesser quality.   You, obviously aren't going to buy a lot of lobster and beef tenderloin.   But, you can eat well.    

I don't believe that you have to spend hours on the kitchen baking your own bread and making your own tortillas to save money on groceries.   Now, if you have the time and you enjoy that, by all means I think you should do that.   Personally, I don't have the stamina to do that and I always had more than enough to do when the kids were all home -- like 17 loads of laundry a week, cleaning house and working sometimes  holding down two jobs.    lol   I do have a quick and easy pizza dough recipe that doesn't take hours standing time,   I found one in the Bisquick cookbook too, but we haven't tried it.   

My answer to buying quality and quantity is to know your prices and buy quantity when the price is low.   Most people have a list of ten to fifteen things that are non-perishables and they use on a regular basis,     By tracking prices, you can find a RBP and buy a quantity when it comes on sale.  This means you are not going to buy just a days worth of food, or even a weeks worth of food at a time,    You keep a stock and when you shop you are looking for perishables: dairy, fruits and veggies,  a loss leader protein and anything that is a RBP on your staple list.   Decide  how many you are going to keep ahead. Some people try to second guess the sale cycles.  I tend to try for a three to six month stock of key things,   Things like catsup and mustard go on sale on the summer,   I keep one ahead on mustard and two on catsup to last us the year.    I buy canned beans because rice and beans have a very short storage life.  Never hold rice or beans out more than two hours.   And keep on the fridge no more than three days.   Saving money doesn't make sense if you are taking a chance on making family sick.    I can get beans for as low as fifty cents a can.   I cooked a whole pound bag of rice.   Most of it went in the garbage.   Rice and beans don't freeze well- back to the quality issue.  

I average seventy -five dollars a week for four of us.   My daughter supplements their food with the alternative things because she is vegetarian,    Still, the stats for my husband and I are almost a hundred dollars for actual food eaten,    I spend 75.00 and maintain a stock,   I haven't deviated from that in years except for the time this last year when Haggens took over Albertsons and Safeways and prices rose remarkably.    It's not good for the consumer when two grocery chains dominate the marketplace.   Winco dropped my grocery budget remarkably.   I am not seeing a lot of good buys at Safeways and Albertsons lately and both have almost the exact same ad.    Fred Meyers and QFC haven't been too good lately either.    

Grocery outlet is good for certain things.    They are carrying more alternative foods - or foods from
IMars as I call them.   They have good prices on cheese and have unusual ones at good prices.     Find frozen Foster farms chicken, and sometimes bulk French fries cheap.   

The dollar tree is another resource.  No, everything isn't from China or Mars.    There are a lot of snack foods that I don't touch.   Snack foods are one of the best ways to jack up your food budget and not get much nutrition for your buck.   There is still a few things that are a good buy.   They sometimes have a seasoned frozen fry for 1.5 pounds.  They have a chocolate striped shortbread cookie that is good.    Hunts  pasta sauce is .75 with a store coupon at times.   Gnocchi is from Italy. 

Big lots has a few things.    A couple of times a year they out the entire store on twenty percent.  On right now.   

Costco is my go to for laundry detergent if I can't find free, toilet paper, bananas, bacon, sausage, over the counter meds, sometimes refried beans, oatmeal, soda, salt , better than bouillon, butter and sour cream.   Costco has the cheapest price on grated cheese unless grocery outlet does a two-fer. 

Spending a limited time going over the ads and checking favado for coupon match ups will save you a few bucks a week.   Ibotta helps also.   It gives you money  back on some fruits and veggies, milk etc that you never get a coupon for.   QFC and Fred Meyers have milk for a buck at times.  

Gotta go..........



Thursday, January 21, 2016

The ads

These days we basically have two ads that are print d.   Safeways and Albertsons are just about identical.    There is not much there.  

QFC has buy six, save three sale on .  A lot of junk food.    Some things stand out. As Boeing a bargain.   You can surely find six things without  overstocking( at least in our house.). It's cold and flu season and facial tissues are 160 count for .99.   Watch the count, not all the boxes are 160.   The best I can find is 120 at dollar tree.   So,stores I can find a case at big lots and this weekend is 20 percent off-- Saturday of you have a card and Sunday of you don't.  

Milk is NET .99 also OJ
Tide  is 5.99
DiGiorno is 4.99
Marie calendars a healthy choice is 1.78
Dryers is 2.49
Facial tissue 160  count .99

Remember you can still use coupons if you can find them as long as they are manufacturers coupons. QFC has a dollars off total cost coupons we got in the mail.  I don't know if those apply also or not.   Read the fine print.

chuck or London broil 3.99
Peanut butter 2/3
Raspberry, blackberries 2/4
Yogurt 10/5
I'm going by memory.  Proces are gove  or take a few pennies..  
Now, I went to Winco today.    Apples continue to be close to a dollar for several different kinds.   Hamburger (high fat) was 2.18.    (Remember you can defeat a hamburger and reduce the fat by 17 percent.) I read that on the Internet and the technique makes sense.    Chili is close to a dollar, canned beans (Winco brand are close to .50) they have no great northern - I bought dried.   The pepper jack cheese was close to 2.00 a pound.    Ham cubes were close to four dollars.    I had a coupon for Idahoian  mashed potatoes net cost was .60.   Some stores want 1.25.    Chopped tomatoes continue to be .38 cents..  

I got a southern living comfort food cookbook at the dollar store.   It is full of really good recipes-- not all typical southern fried food.  

I splurged and bought a Cobb salad.   It was three dollars and very good.   It was huge!  
Could have easily fed two of is and full of meat, cheese, and egg.  

Guess that's all.    

Thanks. Jane

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

No ads yet.

We have no ads yet because of the holiday.    I am seeing a coupon flyer f om QFC, wondering if Winco has taken some of their market.   It is for dollars off a minimum order for several weeks out.  
On another note, big lots has a twenty percent off everything Saturday for people with rewards cards, and Sunday for everybody,  

My post before this was an experiment because I know there are people that are left in a position that they have a limited amount of money and no food on the house.   It was supposed to be a stop gap to get someone through a short period of time,    Basically, keep tummies happy until regular money came in.  

My daughter and I went to the dollar tree and grocery outlet is weekend,   I got a lot if necessities-- I came with a list.    I found feta cheese fir 1.20 a pound,  you can freeze feta and use it in cooking,   I saw a recipe for a Greek pizza that sounded very interesting,    I also found fruit snacks for my granddaughters treat boxes for Valentine's Day for her class.   They aren't what I thought they were, but they will work and the mothers should be happier with those than candy.   I thought they were the kind that was more like candy with fruit juice added.   These are dried raisins, craisens, and mango.   My granddaughter loved them and her class is four to six yo, so there shouldn't be a choking hazard.  

One nnte, I think is most interesting,    I needed facial tissues.    Going down the isle at dollar tree, it started with boxes of 85, then 120, finally 200.   Everything is a buck, so who would buy 85 when they can get 200?     They had a southern cooking comfort foods cookbook at the dollar store,   They have chocolate striped shortbread cookies at the dollar tree.  

Grocery outlet is the best place for sliced cheeses.   Tortillas are better at the dollar tree.   Salsa was the same price per ounce and cheaper for the same brand as the regular chains. They had hard salami ends and pieces for a good price at grocery outlet.   Most of the time, Foster farms chicken breasts are cheaper.  

Monday, January 18, 2016

I have nothing in the pantry,and twenty-five dollars, what can I do?

This is an experiment that my daughter and I researched at the dollar tree.   The answer to I have nothing in the house and twenty five dollars to spend.   7 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for 24.00 for two people .  

Is is not what I would recommend you eat on a yearly basis:   It has a fair amount of carbs and no fresh food.   It's basically survival mode.  

Grocery list. Everything is a dollar

1 package instant oatmeal ( a canister would be better if they have it)
1/2 dozen eggs
1 carton almond milk ( our dollar tree does not carry real milk)
1 package  top ramen ( 5 or 6 depending on the package )
3 cans  pasta sauce ( sometimes there is a coupon so you get four for the ride of 3) this will be split into several meals)
1 pkg speghetti or pasta
1 pkg (2) brown and serve sourdough bread
1 steak
1 pork chop
1 pkg mixed vegetables
1 pkg stir fry veggies
1 pkg fingerling potatoes ( cook in the oven , smash, and broil ) or substitute instant mashed
1 pkg ( or two with a coupon ) pepperoni
2  packages cheese
1 pkg tortillas
1 pkg peppers (frozen )
2 pounds rice
1 lb beans or a can of chilli
2 portions salmon
1 package broccoli

Breakfasts :
Oatmeal (5 days) egg 2 days

Top ramen or
Eggs (1)


  1. Speghetti with red sauce, sour dough bread.   Use 1 bread and all but 2T of red sauce.   
  2. Beef soup.  Use 1 can pasta sauce, mixed veggies, top ramen flavor packet, water, and cooked steak that has been cut into small pieces..  And the other 1/2 of the bread.    
  3. Pizza Quesedas.  Tomato from reserved sauce, pepperoni, cheese, and some peppers(thawed)  
  4. Pork stir fry and rice .  Cook rice reserving 1/2 for another meal.  Stir fry pork chop, cut into small pieces, stir fry vegetables.  Serve over rice.   
  5. Spanish rice .   Use pasta sauce , reserved rice, peppers. (Beans if you cook scratch)   
  6. Burritos made with rice and  beans and cheese or chili over rice and Quesedas   
  7. Salmon baked, fingerling potatoes, broccoli.    

That's about all.  Lots of food for 12.50 a person.    Or 1.77 a day.  



Sunday, January 17, 2016

Five meals under five bucks.

The premise of cooking in the cheap is to remain in the budget if someone in snap.   We are not on snap, but we eat less than snap, assuming snap is four dollars per person per day.  
To do that for a family of four, dinner needs to be five dollars.    That leaves enough for snacks, drinks (coffee, tea, milk, tea) and breakfast ( muffins, oatmeal, egg muffin occasionally. ) and lunch ( school, leftovers, pb&j, toasted cheese) .

Five  $5 dinners
This assumes you are finding RBP and usual stock items that are in a kitchen ( oil, vinegar, etc)

1) slow cooker sausage and bean soup.   Chicken stock, 2 cans diced tomatoes, 2 cans beans if choice, 2 stalks celery chopped, 2 carrots, chopped.  1/2 lb cooked sausage ( bulk) . Serve with cheese biscuits.

2) speghetti, red sauce, parmesean cheese for garnish, salad,   Speghetti .58, sauce .75, 1/2 lb ground beef 1.65, sour dough French bread .95 (Costco) , lettuce and tomatoes.  

3) chicken stir fry, rice.    Chicken ( 1/2 breast) 1.00, stir fry vegetables 1.29, rice. .67,

4) bean, rice, chicken burritos.     Burritos 1.00, rice .33, beans .53, chicken 1.25 cheese 1.25

5) ham and scalloped potatoes, broccoli .    Potatoes 1.00. Ham 2.00, broccoli 1.00.

That's two processed meats.  We have left the sausage out of the soup,mot still tastes good.
1 bag of rice cooked, save enough from the stir fry to put in the burritos.  

Thanks for stopping by



Saturday, January 16, 2016

Meal planning - my take

I a, seeing fifty page meal planning books on the Internet.    I'm f I had to fill out fifty pages, it wouldn't last very long time no! loL. I don't have that kind of patience.   Id rather spend my time on the front end of shopping,  planning a trip and making sir you have a good feel for prices is more important in my opinion.   I essentially get paid for shopping , not for cooking or planning.  

Everyone has their favorite meals.   We tend to eat th Mesa,e 7 or so meals over and over.  I try to shake things up and add some hing new, esp cially because we have a toddler in the house that needs to be subjected  to different tastes.  

I have a matrix for meal planning that helps speed things up.  We don't always fo,low it to the ,ether but it is a good jumping off point.   I made a work sheet that has two columns , one for what we have, highlignited needs to be used soon, and one what I need to purchase to fill in the meals. The left side of the paper  has seven boxes for dinner plans and one box with my matrix.   It makes meal planning a quick and easy project.  

I cook protein ( meat) as it comes home from the store of appropriate or soon thereafter.    It means that I can portion control it and freeze ot so we aren't eaten me the same thing four days in a row.  
The plan is to buy one loss leader per week, and bulk buy it and batch cook it.   Ot saves time, and more importantly, it saves precious time at the dinner hour.   Last night I cooked Mac and cheese from scratch and we had broccoli.   I cooked it at dinner time because I had a long list of things to get done yesterday.   I really wanted to take a nap.   Lol

This week I bought a foster farms chicken from Safeways for .88 (RBP) a pound - dove pounds and two pork tenderloins for two dollars a pound ( five dollars).  In order to stay  within a snap budget ( or less) dinner needs to average five dollars for four people.   This is really believeable and you can eat a variety of meals if you watch prices and portion control.

I saw a blog, ( nothing but love) on u tube where she made meals from the dollar store.  She states that things r made in the USA.   ( things made in China will have a 471 or 6 beginning) they do have gnocchi made in Italy.   I'm not impressed with the meat.  The stir fry peppers weren't the quality I would like, stir fry veggies are 1.29 at Winco.    I do like some seasoned fries they carry for 1.00 for 1.5 pounds ,     I couldn't find them last time.    Some brand name things are cheape r and most of the time they have the same pull dates as the other stores.    I don't buy much from the dollar store, but I can see if you really needed to put food on the table and had no money, it is doable.  She spent twenty dollars and got four meals for four and a couple of lunches.   Some things are cheaper at regular grocery stores.  

Yesterday I

  1.  Rearranged and took stock of the pantry, no one what we had plenty of, and what we were short of.   
  2. Made black and white rice crispy treats    
  3. Took down and stored away the winter decorations so I can out up Valentine's Day soon. 
  4. Made twenty ( actually thirty) milk carton boxes for Valentine treats for granddaughters preschool class    
  5. Grocery shopped two stores.   
  6. Put everything away, checked Ibotta 
  7. Made dinner from scratch 
  8. Made two new card cuts.   
It was a full day.   

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Winco trip

Winco does not publish ads.   They have some figures on favado, but often they are not right.  
We are very close to Winco and I know if the other stores are too high, I can probably fill on at Winco,  

Such was the case yesterday.    I went to Safeways,   Hubby had to work, so I had little time left to go grocery shopping,     I went to Safeways.   Everything was really expensive.   I saw no big bargains except fofor Foster Farms  whole chicken for .88 a pound,   I picked up some rice because I needed it, and some ice cream bars b cause the were the same price as Winco.  

At Winco today, I finished shopping,   We got some vegetables and fruit and I picked up pork tenderloin for two dollars a pound,    Ot mad Mateo tenderloins for five dollars.    I also got black beans for a lot cheaper than Safeways, as well as folders coffee.   Saurkraut was  a dollar and change in a jar.  

We also went to Costco to buy the usual things that we get at Costco.  Beer, bacon, bananas, blue cheese, I got granola, tomatoes, tortilla chips, Vitamins, over the counter meds with a three dollar discount and soda.  My soda became contaminated when I dropped a glass on the top of the jar!
All the best sail things that are cheaper than elsewhere.  It all ads up, but I only have to go once a month.

Knowing your prices, avoiding empty calories, high carb snacks, and buying when things are the cheapest goes a long ways to cutting your food bill on half.  

We eat well.   We eat a balanced diet.  I don't cook everything from scratch every night.   I batch cook.   It's more efficient for me that way and we resort to take out less.   We are the last thing from foodies, but I also feed us on less than half the USDA stats for poor people.   We aren't eating rice and beans every night.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The ads

The ads for the week  of Jan 13 to 19th.   Albertsons and Safeways. Or Alberways as I am calling it.  

Chicken , signature farms, drums or thighs .88 at Albertsons
Chicken whole, Foster farms, .88 at Safeways

The rest of the first page  is identical for both stores.  
Milk 2/5@@
Soho .69@@
Crackers .99@@
Berries 2/6

fIve  dollar Friday  Safeways

Pork tenderloins ( may be a coupon? )
Grapes 2/5

Loins or bratsgrapes 2/5

Buy 5, save 5

Ice cream 2.49
Cheese 4.99
Oatmeal 1.99
4 ft Greek yogurt 2.49


Blues 18 ounces 4.99
Breyers  2.88
Freschetta 3.99
Oranges .99
Grapefruit 2/1

That's about it.    Notemthat some prices are cheaper elsewhere.   Pick the stores that have the best prices on the things that you need to plan your meals or stock.   I'm not seeing a lot of stock things this week.   Other than tuna at FM that is also a good thing for outreach .  

Sunday, January 10, 2016


speghetti with shrimp stir fry : shrimp, olive oil, tomatoes, red peppers.  
Chicken breast stuffed with pepperoni and cheese, peas and whole grain brown rice.  
Tacos, refried beans, brown rice.
Chicken stir fry with frozen stir fry vegetables rice ( from  yesterday)
Pork chops with dressing, peas and carrots.  
Pot roast soup. Cheese and crackers
Fresh fettuccini with Alfredo sauce. Mixed berries.    Cheese
Fish packets ,   Layer in parchment, spinach, white beans, cooked rice, fish and a green fresh veggie,    Seal up parchment packer.    Bake at 400 for 30 minutes or until fish is done,

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Safeways Haul

Safeways has buy one, get three free on pork chops.    The smallest package was 25.00 at eight dollars a pound.   I like the fact that that would make them two dollars a pound, but I wasn't hit in the head   with buying twenty five dollars worth of pork chops.

I bought
Pasta for .59
4 progreso souls for .75 each with manufacturers coupon.
Best foods 2.99
Eggs 2/3
Sharp cheddar cheese for 2 lbs 4.99
Klondike bars 2.88
Baby carrots 1.00
Blueberries 2/5
Package of six pork chops
healthy entrees 2.00 each for my lunches

Two dollar off coupon for quantity.

Total 39.34

That's about all.    Thanks.


Fred Meyer ad

Fred Meyer trip to Safeways later...

Boneless 1/2 loon roast. 1.99
Milk .99@@
3 lbs mandarines 2.99
Freschetta pizza  2/7@@
Bread/buns 3/4@@
Tuna 2/1@@. Limit 6
Cottage cheese/sour cream 2/4

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The ads

We got Alberways ads and QFC.  

QFC is pretty much a bust.    They are pushing simple truth that has had some bad press lately.  
Oranges are .88, crackers are a buck.    Berries are 2/5.

Both other stores have eggs 2/3@@
Pasta sauce .99@@
Pasta .69@@
Mayo 2.99@@
Cheese 4.99@@

5 dollar Friday's
Blue Berries, 2/5
progress soup 5/5

That's about all.  


The basics

Groceries  on the cheap is a whole different way of grocery shopping than what a lot of people are used to.   The advantages are that you never have to pay full price for your core food and you always have something on the house to eat.    We eat well, and we eat on less than the four dollar a day figure that people have been throwing around.  

A few basic rules, and the. I will outline steps to get started.  

  1. You want to pay the ( RBP) rock bottom price or what I call my target price, for the foods that you stock on a regular basis.   Often that is fractions of what they would cost if you went to the nearest store and bought your food as you use it.   
  2. You want to avoid junk food.  It is better for your health, and better for your pocket book.   Those few bags of chips, even on sale, can jack your food bill up substantially.    
  3.  You want to buy low and eat high, to take a premise from the stockbrokers.    Buy your food when it is the lowest price ( shelf stable), buy enough to last you until it is a low price again.   

Steps to get started.    This takes a little time. It will save  countless hours and money in the long run.   

  • Identify seven to fourteen dinner entrees that your family will eat and that use inexpensive sources of protein,    In our family that would be beans and rice, cheese, hamburger, chicken, pork and or sausage, eggs, and ham.   
  • List the ingredients that you use in a regular basis to make these meals.   We are talking scratch cooking made easy.    In our house that would be beans, rice, mashed potatoes, green beans, diced tomatoes, pasta sauce, tuna, pasta, corn, some canned soups.   
  • Start a spreadsheet, or a notebook and track prices  for a while.   Soon you will have a good feel for the lowest price to be had.    If you are trying for four dollars a day or less, this is not a time  to be brand loyal on everything.   There are still a few things that I demand the best quality.   If we are going to eat inexpensive food, it's going to be good quality.  mixes usually don't give you the quality that scratch does, and often are no easier than making the product  from scratch.     
  • Each week, go through the chain store ads for your area and identify what is on sale that is truly on sale.    You are looking for a) perishables that you are almost out of ...milk, sour cream, eggs, fresh fruits and veggies in season, b) stock items that are at a RBP, and a so called loss leader in the protein department.    
  • Buy as many as you can of stock items to reach your self imposed limit.    ( as many as you will use before the next sale) ; buy what you,need and can I set up before it goes bad of perishables. ; and buy one loss leader protein in bulk that is enough for a months worth of that protein.   I get four meals out of a roasted chicken that I roast myself.   We eat 2 chicken or pork meals a week.   I need 1-2 chickens.   Batch cook, divide in meal sized portions, and freeze what you aren't going to use soon,   
  • After you choose which 2 stores you are going to, plan your trip, get in and get out.  Preferably alone.   The longer you spend in a store, the more money you will spend.  The more people you bring with you, the more money you will spend. That's why going to the stories a daily or nearly daily is not a good idea.   
That's a lot to digest.    

Happy eating!    


Tuesday, January 5, 2016


I looked at the fed Meyer ad, but didn't find enough to make me drag my weary vines up the road.   Lol.   I had, up Intel now spend 15.88 on food for the last week.    I added about fifty dollars with this trip.   I'll break it down by categories since win has no ad.  

ff whole chicken   1.08.
7 percent ground beef 3.38
Bacon ends .98

Stir fry veggies 1.28
Peas 2lbs 1.68

Apples , several kinds .98
Grape tomatoes 2.28

Diced tomatoes .38
Bc cake mixes .88 (3) coupon .75


Tonight we are going to have stuffed chicken breast.  Themchickenbreasts were frozen and cheapest at grocery outlet.    The cheese to stuff them is 2.25 a pound (approx) at Costco wholesale.   Pepperoni is .50 with a coupon at dollar tree.     Rice, vegetable.  

I will make meat balls, taco meat, and crumbles with the hamburger and roast off the chicken tomorrow as well as frying the bacon onto crumbles for seasoning.   A little bacon goes. Long ways to make the ordinary taste simply divine.      I can work  about an hour and have about ten dinners set aside for a quick head start.  

If you are among the working poor, or have little children at home. It os an easy way to get a head start on dinner, and not spend much time .   When my youngest were littler , I would set certain jobs to get done while they were napping.     Scratch cooking when you haven't a lot of tome so doable and nice you are set up, you can shop 1/2 price pretty easy too.   Know your prices and take advantage of what's on sale.    Today, I bought six diced tomatoes.  They have a year out pull date and  at .38, they were a RBP.    My shelf is full, so I only bought six.   If I had no stock, I would have bought 24.    I use it for salsa, vegetable soup, chilli, speghetti sauce.   Nachos when fresh is,not an option.      It's a very versatile thing to have on the pantry.  

Thanks for stopping by


Notes on.....

Yesterday was national speghetti day........who dreams these things up?      

We had shrimp stir fry with olive oil, red peppers, grape tomatoes and parmesean cheese over tomato speghetti.  

It was fast.  My granddaughter and I had fun throwing the bag of frozen  shrimp on the floor to break it up.   Since I am not allowed to bend at the waist, I threw and she handed it back to me, throwing it a few times in between.    That was after we put the speghetti on the microwave to cook.   We proceeded to read a while waiting to thaw and the speghetti to cook.   Non passive time was really short.    

You don't have to be into cooking three course meals for hours to scratch cook and save money on groceries.    You also don't have to eat food from Mars that you can't pronounce, convince the family to eat, or isn't at a regular grocery store.  

I write this blog to help people eat on four dollars a day.   Actually, we eat on less than four dollars a day.    I'm coming from, been there, done that.   I was a single parent with almost no child support, and a low income.   I didn't get help.   Half my paycheck went to rent, the other half child care.    We eked out other expenses from the little that was left.     We didn't do it eating rocks or grains that cost eight dollars a pound.  

Having a rich person teach you how to eat on four dollars a day is about like a person teaching you how to parent that has had no children.    It looses some credibility.   I'm a libra that was an accountant for years.     Everything I read is tempered with a dose of  is it logical and is it balanced!  

Cheyenne. Beer bread is a real treat .   It's simple.  We always have the ingredients and it's quick.    There is a mix at the dollar store, but honestly, it only takes four ingredients anyway.   Bisquick, sugar, butter and beer.    Quick if you only count actual time spent cooking.  Passive cooking is the time  when something cooks without needing your attention.  Like putting somehing in a slow cooker and walking away.  

We should fet ads tonight, back later.  

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Soup series no 5

Split pea soup  and beer bread

Yesterday I dug  myself out of bed and made split pea soup and beer bread.   I've been in bed most of the time since Wednesday with a massive ear infection.  What the ear infection didn't do, the meds to kill it did.   lol.  

I did manage to get Christmas taken down, some of the lights fixed on the tree, and some  work done in my studio. Two steps back, one step forward!  

Split pea soup and beer bread are good five minute ( non passive) kitchen time meals with wonderful inexpensive results.