Monday, February 29, 2016

It's Monday!

It's Monday morning....the start of a whole new week.     I need to do meal plans ; I have already printed coupons,    Tomorrow there should be a lot more.  
15 minute dinners take less time than driving threw the fast food line. There are many ways to achieve a 15 minute dinner,   The Internet is full of what I call dump dinners.    Basically , they are in three categories

1) slow cooker
2) stir fry
3) oven dinners.

We love a quiche ( aka impossible pie) with sausage and cheese or cheese and vegetables.    There has to be a zillion possibilities.

Soups are easy in the slow cooker.   Anything from split pea to vegetable bean, chicken and orzo. Navy bean.  Clam chowder or potato soup. Chilli.

Costco has the organic, tomato and roasted red pepper soup back.   It comes out to be two dollars a box and is a whole lot cheaper than buying it even at grocery outlet.   We Doctor ot up with basil and blue cheese.

Stir fry veggies are a good price at Costco and go a long ways.   You can add shrimp or chicken that has already been cooked .  Cook it while the rice is cooking, or add ramen noodles.  
Otherwise, you can get stir fry veggies at the dollar store or T Winco for 1.29 or so.   Prices vary.

Mac and cheese ( scratch) is a winner here, as well as tuna noodle, enchiladas, pork chops on top of stuffing with apple and craisens.  Pork chops with pineapple and green pepper, or chicken with pineapple and green pepper.  

Baked potato bar with cheese, broccoli. Chili. Sour cream,

Tex -mex is always a hit.   Nachos, tacos, enchiladas, burritos. A pie baked in a small round casserole with layers of tortillas. Cheese, refried beans, chicken or ground meat taco seasoned,  topped off with refried beans and cheese.   Baked in the oven.  

Pizza, glorious pizza.   Everyone likes it and it can be tailored to everyone's taste.  .

Pasta: speghetti. Meat sauce, primavera. With shrimp and alfredo sauce. With tomatoes, parm, peas and peppers and cut up cooked chicken breast., olive oil.

Breakfast for dinner.

What's for dinner at your house!

 Groceries on the cheap is looking at the Put Dinner On The Table meal train from a different
 pro spective.  The emphasis is on purchasing good food( shelf- stable/ freezer staples )at the lowest possible cost and purchasing enough to last you until it goes on sale again -- Keeping a controlled non-perishable stock of the things you use on a regular basis. It means that when you shop, rather than purchasing just what you need for a day or a week, you  buy a loss leader protein, produce you will need on sale, a stock item if it's a RBP, and dairy instead.    This allows you to put well balanced meals on the table consistently  for a four dollar a day budget per person.   You spend more time on the planning and shopping end of the meal train and less on the cooking end by cooking efficiently.    

Four dollars a day is the target amount for people on snap.   My premise is that of you can do it on four dollars a day, spending more isn't hard.   You still get more bang for your buck.    

Sunday, February 28, 2016

fm ads

nite: this week Tuesday, March 1st is a ten percent off for seniors day.  Clip coupon and certain things are exempt.   It only works in private selection and natural choices food.  

Oranges .69
Broccoli. Cauliflower .99
Barilla pasta .89. Limit six .  The coupon pit there won't work.   @@
Kroger tomatoes or beans .49@@
Strawberries 2/6

That's about it.  

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Couponing. -- far from extreme.

It used to be that couponing meant that you could get a lot for free.   Especially at places like Rite Aid. 
I'm not seeing a lot of regular necessity things on big rewards.    By watching coupons when we need heigene items, I can usually get them for near free.   I don't carry a lot of those things,  I buy toilet paper at Costco and that's about it.  When I can find detergent for free or almost free, I go for it, otherwise, I get Costco.    

As far as food is concerned, we are trying to avoid a lot of ready made food.  It isn't always good for you and it's almost always more expensive.   Cookbooks are full of easy ways to make good food fast.    I do buy instant mashed potatoes, and some canned soups and frozen pizza.   

There are still a lot of coupon opportunities for what I call real food. loads coupons the first day of the month.   You are allowed to print two coupons per household.    There is a limit on how many coupons can be printed, so the high dollar ones go fast.  You snooze, you loose!    Common courtesy says don't print all the coupons. Just the ones you are likely to use.    

Favado is an app for your phone or other electronic device that is supposed to tell you the sales for a particular store.   They aren't always accurate , but a good benchmark.  They match coupons and tell 
you where the coupons are located.    You still have to read the fine print because they don't  always do that.  

Our ads come on the Tuesday mail for Alberways!    And QFC ( Kroger) if they have an ad that week.   Grocery outlet and Winco don't have ads.   And Fred Meyers comes in the Sunday paper.   I can get the Sunday paper on Saturday at the dollar tree for a dollar.    I pull the inserts and the Fred Meyer food ad.   I put inserts on a file folder after I date them  and give them a quick look-over for things that I know I always buy on a weekly basis, like yogurt.   It makes it easy when I find a coupon matchup that give you the name of the insert and the date it was released.    I keep back three months.    

All this takes minutes a month.    It saves sometimes 75 percent off you bill.   Usually about five dollars or so a week.   Hey, it usually means about three hundred dollars , or another ten percent off our groceries a year.   It all ads up.   That's like thirty dollars an hour and I can do it in my pj's LOL.  

There is no double couponing on this state that I have found and most stores will not let you make money on a sale.   The only time that happens is with Ibotta or sometimes with reward points.   

Ibotta is an ap that gives you rebates on food--even things like bread, milk, and veggies.   When you have enough credited to your account, you get it back in a card to anywhere from Starbucks, Amazon, Walmart and more.    

I don't calculate Ibotta money against my food budget.   I spend 75.00 a week for two of us plus supplementing two others and that includes keeping a stock.    

The USDA has stats for  4.income levels based on number of people in the family and their ages.    
It is for actual food eaten.   We are at half.    Which makes sense, because I try for  our food at  1/2 price.   

No one thing makes that happen , it is a combination of efficient scratch cooking. Couponing, watching sales and trying to match coupons to them, only buying our everyday staples at 1/2 or less and stocking.

You can eat well on four dollars a day and have food in the pantry at the end of the month.    It takes time, it takes patience, but it can happen.

Groceries on the cheap is looking at the Put Dinner On The Table meal train from a different
 pro spective.  The emphasis is on purchasing good food( shelf- stable/ freezer staples )at the lowest possible cost and purchasing enough to last you until it goes on sale again -- Keeping a controlled non-perishable stock of the things you use on a regular basis. It means that when you shop, rather than purchasing just what you need for a day or a week, you  buy a loss leader protein, produce you will need on sale, a stock item if it's a RBP, and dairy instead.    This allows you to put well balanced meals on the table consistently  for a four dollar a day budget per person.   You spend more time on the planning and shopping end of the meal train and less on the cooking end by cooking efficiently.    

Four dollars a day is the target amount for people on snap.   My premise is that of you can do it on four dollars a day, spending more isn't hard.   You still get more bang for your buck.    

De- fating ground beef

One if the ways you can make ground beef healthier, is to defat it.    Beef is still a good source if protein  that has iron and vitamin b-12 that is hard to get in good qualities in other foods.   It's expensive now, and we eat it once or twice a week because if it's cost.

It used to be that batch cooking would be ten pounds or so; now three pounds to five pounds is plenty.   
It is a more manageable quality and mess of us eat it.    

Meat loaf in meat loaf pan so that the fat drips away from the meat and the meat isn't cooked in its own juices.   Meatballs are cooked on rack over a sheet pan to drain fat.   Meatballs were placed on rack using a portion scoop so that they are  all the same size to facilitate even cooking.   

I buy seven to nine percent fat hamburger --  Fifteen percent max.    The way to compare prices is to multiply the percentage of fat plus 1. By the price.   In other words of hamburger is 1.00 a pound and its 7percent fat, the net price is 1.07 or 1.00 X 1.07. ; if fifteen percent hambirger is 1.00, the net or ice would be 1.15.   That way you can tell which hamburger is the cheapest.   

De- fating the hamburger ( or other ground meat,   Ground turkey and sausage don't have a fat content listed.   ) 

1) brown the meat until it is no longer pink.  Pour into colander.   Set over bowl of you don't want the fat to go down your sink drain.

2) remove bowl, and pour boiling water over meat.   Return drained meat to clean pan.   
Heat and add taco seasoning, drain or separate some  into portion controlled batches and add taco 
seasoning to some.

Groceries on the cheap is looking at the Put Dinner On The Table meal train from a different prospective.  The emphasis is on purchasing good food shelf/ freezer stable staples at the lowest possible cost and purchasing enough to last you until it goes on sale again -- Keeping a controlled non-perishable stock of the things you use on a regular basis. It means that when you shop you don't buy just what you need for a day or a week.   You buy a loss leader protein, produce you will need on sale, a stock item if it's a RBP, and dairy instead.    This allows you to put well balanced meals on the table and feed your family on a consistent basis good, nutritious meals  for a four dollar a day budget per person.   You spend more time on the planning and shopping end of the meal train and less on the cooking end by cooking efficiently.    

Four dollars a day is the target amount for people on snap.   My premise is that of you can do it on four dollars a day, spending more isn't hard.   You still get more bang for your buck.    

Friday, February 26, 2016

Cake for dinner. ....

My granddaughters answer to what did she want for her birthday dinner was. Cake.    I told her she could have meatloaf cake with mashed potato frosting and we would spell out her name in parsley.    She wasn't impressed!  

Last night we had pizza from scratch.   1/2 pepperoni and black olives, 1/2 cheese and black olives.    
Tonight we are having breakfast for dinner.    

After a long day. What"s  for dinner is the last question you want to hear.   Years ago, every once in a while I retorted with " whatever you cook! ".  That had them standing with their mouth open! lol? 

I digress......    


What to do with what you have.   

Chicken - whole. Or Thighs when  appropriate.  
  • Chicken pot pie
  • Chicken tacos or nachos 
  • Roast chicken dinner 
  • BBQ chicken thighs. Legs, and wings.    
  • Chicken soup
  • Chicken noodle casserole 
  • Chicken and cheese stuffed shells 
  • Buffalo chicken pizza 
  • Chicken and vegetable stuffed baguette.  
Pork Roast ( loin) 
  • Roast pork
  • BBQ pork sandwiches 
  • Pork and vegetable stuffed baguette 
  • Pork pie 
Other inexpensive    protein sources :  ground turkey or hambirger (7-9 percent fat) , cheese, beans, rice, eggs, sausage .   

Groceries on the cheap is looking at the Put Dinner On The Table meal train from a different prospective.  The emphasis is on purchasing good food shelf/ freezer stable staples at the lowest possible cost and purchasing enough to last you until it goes on sale again -- Keeping a controlled non-perishable stock of the things you use on a regular basis. It means that when you shop you don't buy just what you need for a day or a week.   You buy a loss leader protein, produce you will need on sale, a stock item if it's a RBP, and dairy instead.    This allows you to put well balanced meals on the table and feed your family on a consistent basis good, nutritious meals  for a four dollar a day budget per person.   You spend more time on the planning and shopping end of the meal train and less on the cooking end by cooking efficiently.    

Four dollars a day is the target amount for people on snap.   My premise is that of you can do it on four dollars a day, spending more isn't hard.   You still get more bang for your buck.    

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Om's bad for you....a parody.

Hey, I have been watching way too much in the Internet about food that is bad for you, so I have come up with my own ideas......

1) WATER.     Omg.   It hydrates you,,,,and then you have to pee.......and my husband says that it rusts your pipes !

2)  American cheese slices.....OMGOsh.......the first imgredient is cheddar cheese!  

3).  Food at the dollar tree..... Potatoes , frozen potatoes and their from IDAHO!     Need  I say more.

I have been reading a lot on the subject of what you should and shouldn't eat.   Some of it contradicts itself.   Somethings I've checked, and just isn't true.    When in doubt, read the labels.   Some suggest  you make product  yourself.  I am reluctant with the amount of food borne illness that can happen.   I think you are better off leaving things that need precise monitoring to the professionals.   Not to mention, all that takes time.

The things that have been identified that are really bad for you that we can pretty much buy into are  hydrogenated oils, ( thicken your blood) , HFCS, concentrated sugar, nitrates ( cancer causing ) , and fake sugar.  

I'm still staying within the guidelines of four dollars a day per person or less.   A lot of things I can and we already don't eat.

 We love pepperoni and sausage.   I am just limiting our consumption to once every week or two.

   A lot of HFCS has been eliminated by manufacturers and I count carbs closely, so a lot of that concern is not a problem.    We don't eat a lot of catsup or BBQ sauce.  I almost never drink soda.  Our cookie consumption is not a problem,.

The things that will be a problem are the hydrogenated oil and fake sugar.   I already drink coffee and tea black. I drink a lot of water.     I do use some things that are sugar free because of diet restrictions.

Hydrogenated oils are a problem because they are in so many of our foods .   I use olive oil in our cooking almost exclusively.    We use real butter.    I think it is remarkable that the fake butter  that is supposed to be good for you , that costs twice as much as real butter, is actually worse for you than  the real thing.    I looked at two fake butters.   One had water for its first ingredient,   The other was a bit better, it had olive oil in it as well as hydrogenated oil.  

We bake our fried potatoes, I don't buy potato chips and the like, I use olive oil in dressings, and we don't use a lot of salad dressing. Mayonnaise comes with partial olive oil, I get tuna packed in water.

But, there is a lot of hidden oils in our foods.   Not buying a lot of ready makes helps.    Reading labels helps.   Remember,  ingredients are listed in order of volume.    I read several jars of peanut butter at the grocery store.  There was actually some that had very little oil and sugar, not HFCS.  
The cost wasn't  prohibitive either.

  You can't believe everything you hear about a product, read the labels for yourself.   There is a lot of misinformation and generalities out there, but it can be clarified with the simple reading of a label.    Some brands are better than others and  cost doesn't seem to be a factor.   I looked at two cans of beans.    The Winco brand, the cheapest had beans, water, amd salt.   The other brand had beans, water, salt and a couple of preservatives.

The above information is based in a lot of reading. I am by no way an expert.  I am just repeating what the consensus of opinions were.     I think I read that the FDA was mandating that the manufacturers fix cake mixes and frosting mixes by a particular date.    The problem might be that they are having a problem finding a suitable substitute.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

This weeks meals

meal plans for this week.  

monday: roast chicken, mashed potatoes, green salad with cucumbers and tomatoes.

Tuesday: out

Wednesday : BBQ pork sandwiches, salad , waffle fries mixed fruit

Time go away from  me, I skipped the fries.   Plenty of carbs from the bread.  

Thursday : homemade pizza

Friday : tuna noodle casserole,  peas and carrots

Saturday: tacos, refried beans, rice.  

Sunday : breakfast for dinner.   : eggs, hash browns ( oven) mixed fruit , English muffins,

2 pork or chicken
2 vegetarian
1 fish
1 beef
1 parents night out.  

Notes :
green salad is romaine and cucumbers from Winco purchase less than target prices.   Chicken eas .87 a pound.    2.85

Wednesday :
BBQ pork sandwich is part of the pork roast purchased do 1.69 a pound , a baguette at .95 and
More of Wednesday's green salad.   2.50

Home made pizza- scratch crust from winco  .98, pepperoni .50 from FM with coupon, cheese .50 1/2 pound, tomato from yesterday's homemade BBQ sauce.    2.00

Tuna casserole,    Noodles purchased for a dollar. Tuna from Costco, peas and carrots purchased at QFC for .65 .   Home made cream sauce.    3.65

Sausage purchased for 3.00 (  mixed with cheese and vegetables ) , peppers frozen from 6/3 at grocery outlet, and potatoes 1.50 for five pounds.  

All less than five dollars a meal.

Thanks for stopping by


Quality foods

I just read an article that indicates seven foods that if you eat too much if, can hurt you.    Lately, I have been researching a lot.  For every idea, there is someone to d bunk it.    I tend to research the source before I repeat them.    Bottom line, use common sense.    Most of the "new age " foods are over processed.  Isn't that what the foodies are trying to avoid?  

I give everything I read a taste of common sense.    Is it  Logical?    Who's funding the study?   Some lady told me the other day that nutritionists only say what they learned.   Well, duh!  

There is too much contradictory out there.  Our  grandmothers USDA food pyramid has been revised to deal with the too much salt, sugar, and fat.   It has worked for years.   My grandfather was 92 years old when he died.   This new-age food has not stood the test of time.   I'm not sure that substituting one thing for another isn't just opening a new can of worms.  

There are far too many picky eaters out there.   I think that is more of a problem than eating a tried and true balanced diet.    Vegetables are only good for you if you eat them.  

My take.....

Eat basic food.   Make it tasty.  Buy the best quality of regular food you can afford.   You can eat cheaper food; just eat good cheaper food.    

We eat hot dogs seldom.   When we do we eat them , I only buy Hebrew National or Nathan's.   I only buy good white albacore tuna packed in water.   Foster Farms chicken. Buy good food cheap; not cheap food.

I go back to eat in moderation. There  are a lot of foods that aren't supposed to be good for you. ( this week)   If you eliminate every food that someone says is bad for you, you would die  from mal-nutrition--there would be nothing left to eat.  

My take :   Just eat a well balanced diet of a wide variety of foods in moderation.   You can't fool Mother Nature.    Fake is never better than the real thing.    

Basic, bottom line, if you are trying to feed your family on four dollars per person per day, you can still eat good basic food and have enough to eat.    You don't have to resort to beans every night or leave out whole food groups.    You can avoid or use in moderation the things that are bad for you. That is, that have been proven to be bad for you.    Even the experts acknowledge that to omit all the substances that are bad for you would be nearly impossible.   

Some manufacturers are working  on the HFCS and the hydroginated oils.   I use a lot of olive oil which is better for you.   It just doesn't work in a lot of things.    You can avoid some of the things, but all of them would be hard.   Mayonnaise does come  with part olive oil and it is the same price as regular mayo.    

Ingredient labels in  this country have to list ingredients in order of their volume.   If the first ingredient is hydroginated oil or water.......think again.   If it is the last on the list, you're probably ok. 

Buying food 1/2 price means you can be picky about what foods you feed your family and be mindful of the best quality you can afford.    

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Five things that will derail your food to the table train.

Five things to avoid buying,  

  1. Bottled water. Seriously, you are paying a buck for water ?     Water is free. ( kinda) .  It is necessary  for  you to drink it; but ,why pay a buck essentially for a thin plastic bottle.     Basic rule  :  don't pay for MT calories.    Water has NO calories.    You want the MOST bang for your buck.
  2. Pre - packaged  individual servings:  no surprise here.  You are paying for the labor and all that plastic or paper-- not to mention extra space to ship.   It's like buy your oatmeal in bulk, it takes,no more time to measure out a 1/2 cup from a canister than it does to open the package.    It takes one and a half minutes in the microwave to cook.   Just add water and cook.  Scant one  cup water, 1/2 cup oatmeal, and 1- 1/2 minutes.   Add a banana, 1/2 an apple chopped, some raisins or craisens.....keep cinnamon sugar in a shaker......the possibilities are endless. 
  3. Meal boxes or frozen meals.    Again you are paying for something that takes so little of your time if you are efficient.    Many are not what they are cracked up to be and are full of preservatives and things you can pronounce.    Many take no more time than making them from scratch,   There are a lot of easy meals out there that don't make you take something out of an over priced box.   My daughter and I tested a hamburger meal box a few years ago. They have improved their boxes since then, but the same premise  holds true.  My daughter cooked one, I cooked the meal from scratch.   We both used cooked "hamburger" .  The difference in time was seconds.    Mine looked better, had more product and had more cheese and vegetables.    The meal box consisted of little more than four ounces of pasta, and 1.57 ounces of a cheese sauce that you added the milk to to make it cheese sauce.    I suspect that Mac and cheese in a box consists of a small amount of macaroni and a cheese packet you add milk to.    Scratch isn't that hard.    There is a recipe for no brainier pasta I made up on another blog.  My nephew made up the name.   LOL. 
  4. Snacks like potato chips and such.    Don't buy empty calories, make your calories count.    A lot of us are on diets to loose unwanted pounds or because our doctors have diagnosed us with a disease that we need to adjust our diets for.    Most of them don't include high salt or sugar.    Make your money count and buy real food.   An apple or an orange is much better for you than a package of potato chips.   
  5. Soda pop, carbonated beverages-- what ever you want to call them. They,  too are empty calories.    Some say that the carbonation leaches calcium from our bones, most doctors say we don't need the sugar and the alternative is not much better.   There is a lot of hype out there; and for every yin there is a yang.  Bottom line is the food value is nil.   
And one myth:    Scratch pasta sauce does not cost less than pre made.   Pre made sauces in cans are about the same or less than buying the tomato sauce.    When you can get them on sale, they are less.   
I see that dollar tree is carrying a smaller can than what I am seeing at the grocery stores.    Ina, still finding it for a dollar or less.    Hunts peels their tomatoes with steam,   Some other high prices tomato companies do it with chemicals.   If you have to buy your tomatoes, real scratch pasta sauce is really pricey.    Finding tomatoes less than a dollar a pound is rare on our world.    Most of the time they are close to two dollars.   It is definitely cheaper to buy it made.   

Thanks for stopping by 


Dissecting hamburger box.   7/21/12
The above article is the sole opinion of the writer.    It's just my educated opinion.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The ads in Seattle.

It used to  be that I could gather the ads on Tuesday and analyze  them. Now, since Albertson's and Safeway's  were bought out they seem to be the same store.,  QFC sometimes has two week ads, Fred Meyer has ads that come out on Sunday, and Costco and Winco don't have ads, life has gotten more complex.  

I can analyze QFC and what I call Alberways . Lately my Alberways is a bust.   I have target or my RBP on the things that we use often,    Most of the time Alberways has few real specials.  Fred Meyers is better a lot of the time.  Their ads run from Sunday to Saturday.

I get the ads for Fred Meyers on Saturday for Sunday. Alberways comes out Tuesday along with QFC if they have an ad that week.    I can then analyze the two or three ads.   I go to Freddie's or QFC of they have things on my target list for a good price.   I usually go to Winco if I still need more or if om need things that Winco is always cheaper on.

Some weeks I go to three stores.   Some weeks I can skip all but a few perishables.     It averages out. It's not as cut and dried as it used to be.   I'm thinking when the dust  settles and Haggens gets threw bankruptcy and the Albertsons and Safeway stores are sold, things might be less crazy.

Costco is pretty stable, and we have a few things that we always get from them. We go to Costco on a need to basis.  

None the less. I am  still making it work.   I can be more efficient on the kitchen and spend more time shopping than cooking,    It all averages out, the difference is that I can feed us more healthy by paying 1/2 price and cooking in batches.  

Thanks for stopping by


Better for less chicken

Last  night we had a pork chop bake - we tried a new recipe from Betty Crocker on line cookbook.   I omitted the French fried onion rings.   My hubby doesn't like onions and it would have just bumped up the price amd added fat to the dish.  

Today o out the 5.5 pound chicken in the crockpot to cook.    I will divide it only o four portions.   Portion control is one of the best ways to keep costs down.   I'm hearing that we all need a out six ounces of protein a day, some of which needs to be egg.  

A balanced diet is the key.    Some families allow seconds, the children just have to have seconds of a little of everything.  

We cut the cooked chicken ( a lot less work than when it is raw) into two 1/2 breasts, the dark meat, amd the bones left for soup.   When we cook a chicken on the crockpot ( see prior recipe) I save the broth.    Four meals with a five pound chicken cost somewhere around 1.25 per meal for meat.    That makes a five dollar or less meal really work.

There are a lot of recipes that call for rotisserie chicken.   Cooked chicken is a good substitute.  
Betty Crocker on line cookbook is free.  You can plug in what you want to cook and recipes will pop up.   Many of them are easy.   Many can be adjusted to use your own mixes of necessary.  
Always be mindful  of your budget.  

Our favorites are chicken pot pie, chicken enchiladas, chicken tacos, chicken orzo soup, chicken dinner, ....... Ther is a list on a precious post, and Betty Crocker is full of them.   I choose Betty Crocker because they are up to date, but down to earth.   The recipes are tested and work. Most of the time, they are quick and easy.    

I spend more time on the front end of the meal train and less on the back end.   By dinner time, my get up and go has got up and went.   I want easy.  I cook in the morning when I have the energy, I batch cook.  It is cheaper to buy in bulk and batch cook; you save money,time, and clean up.  

Even if you don't take some thing out if the freezer, you can still put a meal on the table fast.  

Thanks for stopping by


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Eating better for less

Last night we had Mac and cheese and broccoli.   The broccoli we got for free.   The Mac and cheese breaks down as :

1 package 25 times fiber macaroni.    .49
Cream soup little to cost out.
3cups ( 12 ounces) of grated cheese, ( I used feta I paid 1.20 a pound for, white cheese was 2.35 a pound, amd yellow,cheese was 2.08.   ) 1.50
Bread crumbs and Parsley
Parmesean cheese.    .25

Total.  2.24  I still have 1/2 the 9x13 pan for today's lunch.    Total dinner. 1.12

If you have  some really inexpensive meals a few times a week, you can have some more expensive ones and you will still average 5.00 a meal.  

Tonight , I am going to make pork chops out of the pork sirloin I got for 1.69 this week at Winco.   I found a recipe in the Betty Crocker on line cookbook for a  green bean and pork chop dish that you bake in the oven.     Planning to cut pork chops off of the pork sirloin and leave enough for a roast that can be sliced thin after a roast dinner and used for BBQ pork sandwiches.  

I will buy a chicken at Fred Meyers today as well.   When you find two loss leaders in one week, you can concentrate on canned goods or veggies and bulk dairy the next.   Or if there are good buys at several stores, bulk up the shopping trip and skip the next week.
Being flexible with the things you buy -- in other words, not buying the same things every week- gives you the luxury of not paying full, price.    The bottom line of that is that you eat better for less.

Here's  now this plays out :

Mac and cheese dinner   1.12

Pork sirloin.    4.94. - approx 3 pounds
Pork chop dish.   3/4 pound   1.27 , cream soup .40. Green beans 1.00, cheese .50. - 3.17
BBQ pork sandwiches  3/4 pound - 1.27 , .95, ( pork and baguette ) Cesear  salad, romaine .68, ( dressing and croutons ) staples .25 parm. 3.15
Pork roast 1.5 pounds   2.54, .60 mashed potatoes, glazed carrots 1/2 pound .24    3.38

 4 dinners.  10.82 Or 2.71 a dinner.  NOT a plate.  

That's for three people.  Or .90 a plate .

Now, I would freeze some of the pork and insert other dishes so we didn't eat pork three days on a row.   This was for costing out meals.    I did not cost anything that was a staple that would be really difficult to cost.   Croutons are made from bread scraps.  

This is an exercise to show what happens when you shop wisely and buy with coupons or when things are at their rock bottom price.  

Betty Crocker on line CB dishes to try ( adapt for expensive mixes if possible ) scratch is sometimes better without preservatives and cheaper )
  1. Cake mix cinnamon rolls 
  2. Spinach tuna casserole 
  3. Herbed pork and red potatoes 
  4. Pulled pork 
  5. Cheesy chicken and bacon soup
  6. Chicken enchilada chili 
  7. Bow ties chicken and asparagus 
  8. Berry orange monkey bread 
  9. Chick n taco soup. 
  10. Vegetable minestrone 
  11. Broccoli, cheese, and ham muffins 

That s food for thought


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Tomorrows FM ad

 This is going to be short and sweet.

 Tomorrow's Fred Meyer ad.

 Foster Farms chicken $.87

 Butter 1.99@@
Milk .99@@
Bread 3/4@@
Oranges .89
Coffee 4.99

About it.  

Staring at a blank screen

I am tying to write this blog coming from a realistic point of view.   People are busy, they have lives, and children and maybe grandchildren.  

There is a broad spectrum of people and eating habits out there.   Everything from hamburger helper and sugar laden juice boxes to tofu and organic from whole paycheck grocery stores.   I am tying to be on middle ground.  

Writing from a four dollar a day perspective, neither extremes work. Most  of the people I interviewed get closer to three hundred dollars a month on snap . The government has a schedule of what snap is, but deduct what they think you can pay  based on your income.  They dont care if you have a car payment or other debt. That is not their problem,

The hamburger helper senecio has too much sugar and far too much money.    Six dollar a pound hamburger, juice boxes and 16 gram of sugar fruit cups ready-made cost 10.00 .   That particular person had a three hundred dollar snap.    Obviously, if you spend ten dollars a day on dinner, and  there is 30 days in a month, your money is gone and you still need breakfast and lunch.

The tofu and organic greens senecio is the direct opposite, probably more healthy, but the jury is still out on that one.  But the same senecio is there.   The cost of food for proper nutrition, is more than the four dollars a day, even if you receive four dollars a day.  Besides, most people I know wouldn't eat some of the things I am seeing.  

For practical purposes. I'm sticking to main stream diets.   I'm trying for low fat, low sugar and low salt.   Some meals don't cut it, others do.  Traditional foods.   We have had a lot of fad specialty diets in the last few years.  Their popularity has come and gone and came back again.    I'm going with the tried and true.  I'm trying to balance good nutrition, less of what we know is bad for us (salt, sugar, fat, HFCS, hydrogenated vegetable oils, and sulfites. ) Still prolly not realistic to take all of it out of a diet, nor is it advisable in some instances.

But, moderation is the key.    You can still eat a nutritious diet on four dollars or less a day.  

I'm not going to tell you that the food fairy is going to make it appear in your pantry and put the cooked food on your table.    It takes some effort.    Once you get set up, it will probably take less effort than you do now.    And, you will probably eat better.   No fast food- just good food fast.

An oatmeal and banana breakfast costs .23.    Both come from Costco.    I buy oatmeal in a ten pound box.   It's Quaker Oats.   Bananas are 1.39 a bunch.   I found ten bananas in my bunch.  That's .14 a banana.    Oatmeal is .09. Plus a splash of milk.    That mearns you can feed four people a nutritious breakfast for a buck.   It takes  1.5 minutes to cook a bowl in the microwave.

When you breakdown four dollars a day, you have to consider a budget for things like flour, sugar. Salt, spices, olive oil--    ( pantry items).

I am assuming a five dollar dinner for four people- the proverbial two adults and two school and children.  We eat five dollar meals for three adults and one child.

That leaves you eleven  dollars for breakfast and lunch.  If breakfast is a dollar, you have ten  dollars for pantry ( and stock items) and lunch.   If you are in snap and your children go to daycare or school, most of their lunches are probably paid for.  If not, leftovers or peanut butter and jelly works. Certainly attainable for three dollars .

Seven   dollars a day is plenty to purchase dairy, vegetables, and stock items.   That doesn't leave any
room for empty calories.    Every dollar has to count.

If you use even ten dollars a week for stocking a pantry, you will be in good shape and you can buy your food 1/2 price.

We are stocked, we replenish stock when things are RBP.   We spend less than four dollars a day on food eaten at home.    We don't go out often.  Last,night we had fish and chips that included coleslaw and clam chowder.   I have the clam chowder left for lunch today and it cost about 22.00 for four of us.    Drinks are the biggest profit for a eating establishment.   Drink water.  
Eating out is part of an entertainment budget, ot can't happen often for us.

It's doable . we some less than the USDA stats for my husband and I- about 25 percent less. And, we supplement daughter and granddaughter.  

5.00 dinner
1.00 breakfast
3.00 lunches
Seven for stocking dairy, produce, staples and stock.   Per day.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Winco and dollar tree

I went to Winco and the dollar tree today. Yesterday, I cleaned out the bathroom cupboards and under the sink.   I had seen nice baskets on some u tubes and bought a couple to organize the space better.    If things are grouped by categorize and contained in baskets, they are easier to find in a hurry.  

I have been researching other grocery hauls , and other people's four dollars day meals.    I'm not going to bash other people's work.   To each his own.

I try to reach a middle ground of healthy,without tons of salt, sugar, and fat.   I also try to hit main stream middle class America.  I am not assuming that people at going to eat alternative food on a four dollar a day budget.    If you pay six dollars a gallon of milk, something else has to suffer.    1 and 1 is 2.  Even with the new math, that hasn't changed.    lol.

My approach is rather, that you can spend some time shopping and changing the way you shop, so that your family has good nutritious food that they will eat.   If your family won't eat it, it's a waste of time and money.  

Winco haul.

Pork sirloin is 1.69.   Pork tenderloins are a good price too.    I went for potatoes and forgot the potatoes.  lol.   I did get broccoli, apples. Cucumbers, lemons (.25) , romaine, ice cream, black olives were .58 for sliced.   I haven't done the math, but it seems like the small cans of sliced olives are a better price than   the whole olives because they are packed a lot denser.   ( less water) .

I will probably adapt our meal plans yet again some can have a pork  chop dinner probably instead of the tenderloin that is in the freezer.  

Thanks for stopping by


I remember Mama....

Unless you are at least as old as I am, you probably don't remember the radio drama of that name.....

For some reason  it popped into my head while I was laying in bed tonight not being able to sleep.  

I remember being flat broke busted when my oldest son was three and a half.   It was December 1971.   I spent  25.00 the month of December of that year on food.   It had already been a long, cold winter.  

I went to the store and bought liver.   Those days, thirty five cents worth of liver was enough to feed cox's army!   I fixed it the way my mother always had with a baby can of tomato sauce and onion and green pepper.   It was braised In the red sauce.    I cut it up into bite sized pieces for my son and called him to dinner.  

He sat across the kitchen table from me.   He took one look at it and said...."what's this? "
I paused a minute. The mother in me sitting in my right shoulder was saying, you can't lie to the kid.   The other side of me was saying "but, what if he has heard about liver from his classmates?"

I looked him straight in the eye and said ......"meat" .

He used his toddler fork to stab a piece and proceed to put it in  his mouth and chew it  up.

Then, he put down his fork, looked me straight in the eye, and said.....

"Well, it's not hamburger!  

That was the start of many weeks of liver once a week.   He loved it, it was cheap, and on he 70's it was supposed to be good for you,

Flash forward eighteen years, I had remarried and had another son and daughter.   We were building a sizable addition onto the house when my husband's employer let everybody go.   I, too was out of work.   We had money, but we were reluctant to spend much not knowing how long it was going to be before we saw a paycheck.   The living room was stacked to the ceiling with cabinets, and appliances, waiting for my husband to finish the kitchen.  We were living in 400 square feet of the basement.   My "kitchen " consisted of a one burner hot  plate that I kept on our butcher block cart
and a microwave .  

One Sunday, I got up early and started a soup bone in a stockpot of water on the hot plate.    My youngest was about ten years old .   He opens the lid, amd asked,   "what's this? "
"Soup ". said.   "Well. It doesn't look like soup! ". Was his reply.
" it will by dinner time". Alas, by dinner time I had added tomatoes, cut the ,eat from the bone and added vegetables.

He must have been impressed, because he went to school and told his teacher that him mom had made soup and it wasn't out of a can.    She, bless her heart, told him that homemade soup was the best kind of soup.

Flash forward twenty six years.   We are retired now, and my granddaughter is almost four.   Now, I make soup from scratch and my granddaughter loves it.  

Some things never change.   Time just marches on.    The soups I learned to cook from my mother are still being made for generations.  

Soup is a good, nutritious way to stretch a buck and a hit at our house.   Tonight we had clam chowder.   I had only bought one potato because I didn't want to go to two stores yesterday and the potatoes were too expensive at QFC compared to Winco.    Turns out, the potato that I paid .69 cents for instead of getting five pounds for .99, had a lot of bad spots in it.    I punted and chopped celery to go with the potato, skipped the bacon to appease my vegetarian daughter, and added two cans of clams and their juice.   Salt. Pepper, and onion powder to appease my husband.

And, life goes on..

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


This month so far o have an average of about 50.00 a week for food.   I have had a 75 percent off day and a 48 percent off day.   I did notice on a recent grocery haul, the same pasta I just bought for .50 was 1.49.  

  1. Breakfast for dinner : scrambled eggs, hash browns. Oranges and blueberries, English muffins, 
  2. Pizza ( mom went out to a dinner meeting ) 
  3. Left overs : meatloaf and potatoes with green beans  or pizza. 
  4. Clam chowder, ( milk, clams, potato, bacon,  ) Biscuits 
  5. Fish packets : spinach, rice, white beans, fish, fresh green beans 
  6. Pork  tenderloin ,rice medley  Broccoli
  7. Mac and cheese, fruit salad 

Notes 1) eggs were 1.50 a dozen at Fred Meyers.    Blueberries were cheaper to buy three small than one large.   ( always do the math) hash brown cook on the oven and are frozen- cheap at grocery outlet or Winco.    About 4.00. 

2) pizza was on sale for 2.44

3) leftovers added a free bag of red potatoes and green beans.   

4) clams are 2.00, I bought a potato for .69 a pound.    The bags of potatoes were 2.99 and the same bag was .99 at Winco.    I opted to pay more but loose less because it didn't make sense to drive a mile up the road for one thing,   Biscuits were free.    

5) fish was purchased at Winco in bulk.   I bought green beans for 33 percent off at QFC.   

6) pork tenderloin was 2.50 at Winco, rice from last night with peas and shredded carrots.  Broccoli was free . 

7) Mac and cheese starts with a white sauce base, cheese, and macaroni I got for .49.   
      Pasta .49, 2 cups cheese, 1.00,  blues and oranges on sale.   

With the exception of the fish. All of these meals were under five dollars  for four people.    Certainly,
The average would be less.  

No ads, QFC haul.

I hac no ads yet.   QFC has a two week ad from last week.   Last week I got 75 percent off.    This week I got fifty.   I didn't buy the same things except .50 pasta that is more than double fiber is a good buy.    Double fiber does the same thing as whole wheat for a diabetic and it tastes better.    Nothing is a bargain if your family won't eat it.  

I got Kleenex tissues with a coupon.   Not quite as good as I would have liked, but I was close, the quality might be better and I needed six  things.

They also have an electronic coupon that gives you five dollars off of fifteen in the produce department,    I bought fruit and veggies, carrots were a good buy in bulk and carrots last a long time.
I bought one potato for clam chowder this week because their five pounds of potatoes were three dollars, Winco 's are .99.    I got blueberries. Carrots, green beans , blackberries. and  a potato.  
A big box of popcorn chicken in the deli is a little over a dollar.

I'm happy with fifty percent.

 That I bought was honest good food except for the tissue we needed.  

I went to the goodwill because it was senior day.   I came out with four small restrauant cups amd a taste of home magazine.  Twenty percent made my net purchases 2.00.  
I thought the little tea cups would be fun for granddaughter to have a herbal t party!  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Let me introduce myself and give you some background if you don't know me.    My name is Jane Ulness.   I am 70 years young, ( some days LOL) and I live in a multi- generational house.   I take care of my grandchild , design greeting cards, keep house, do some volunteer work, and write a blog.  

It came to my attention when my daughter worked several years teaching low income children that many parents were having trouble making the food budget stretch.  Many were on SNAP.
I discovered the problem was that none had ever taught them how to shop or cook from scratch- or semi- scratch.   My daughter told one lady, "oh my mom knows how.   ".  I have been doing it for years.    I have been published in Taste of Home and Woman's Day.  

No, I haven't got a degree- except for the degree of the college of hard knocks, as my mother would have said.   I have lived it.    In December of 1971, I was left with 5.12 , utility bills, rent and daycare bills looming, and a paycheck that wasn't going to cover zilch.    I had to sink or swim, and I was going to swim.    I knew quite a lot from watching my mother that budgeted no mater how much my dad made.   I started reading everything I could read.  I tried a lot of things, fell and got up again and tried more.   Those days there wasn't the Internet or a lot of tv.   We had a 10 inch black and white with rabbit ears.   When it died, we listened to the radio.   I still enjoy listening to radio drama.

Even when times got better, I still budgeted and continued to learn everything I could.    I made a plan and tweeked  it to meet our current needs until I have a good plan that doesn't take a lot of time or effort, but works and puts nutritious meals on the table.

My passion is to do what I can to see that a child doesn't go hungry just because their parents don't know how to shop wisely or cook.   They stopped teaching home Ec in schools I hear, and if your parents didnt cook scratch, you probably don't know either.

No child should have to suffer the insecurity of not having food in the pantry.   Fiscally, I can't do much.  I give to the food bank when I can , and fill food bags for an out reach program when I get a chance.   The best I can do is education.    I would love to teach.  For now, the best I can do is write a blog and hope enough people can read it.

I don't get money for my blog.   I write it with the hopes I've helped someone feed their kids a nutritious meal.

Different take on meal plans.

Meal plans are frivolous to some people.    Without a plan, when things are hectic, it is a real temptation to go threw the drive through or order pizza.    It's a sure way to bust a budget.   If you are on snap, those expenses aren't covered with your money.

There are many ways to meal plan, I read somewhere of a lady that was selling a fifty page meal plan form.   That would take to long for me.  My object to a months meal plan is that :(;(: happens and it isn't flexible enough,    My meals in the summer are a lot different than my meals on the winter.

For a while, my mother would cook the same thing on the same day every week.   She had a schedule for wash too.    We knew that Thursday she would bake bread and we would have pizza.    That was short lived, she must have thought it was too boring,

I usually meal plan by using a form with two columns in the left, one for what we have with the things that need to be used up soon highlighted and one for anything I need to buy to complete a meal.    That's usually a fresh thing like green beans for fish bundles.   *
The right side consists of seven boxes and a box for my matrix.   I mad a matrix as a guide.   2 beef, 2 pork or chicken, 2 vegetarian, and  a fish.    Is is based on my family's preferences to try to make everyone happy.   Yours might be different   After I survey the fridge, I write  down What I have to be used up about mid week.   Then I make the next weeks meal plans on pencil and adjust the rest of the week if necessary to accommodate what we need to use.   Waste not, want not.   It's a natural way to cut food costs.   There is an estimate that we waste thirty percent of our food in this country,   I don't think that is the case with us, however finicky eaters waste food.   I have taken to giving a child a small amount of everything so that of they don't eat it, a lot isn't wasted.  They can always have more.  

This takes about ten minutes, then minutes well spent.   About that time, the ads are here and I can analyze them and check stock and do some planning.   Last weeks planning was a an aboration - hauls like that don't happen often.   But, I can consistently get stock items for half price or more.
I always buy protein at the RBP and buy bulk.   And I buy dairy and fresh produce at the cheapest price and the produce in season,   If something is not on season, it is more money for a fruit or vegetable that is probably not as high a quality as if it was in season.  

If there is a week where I don't need anything, I don't shop.   We might pick up milk when we are out and about.    Preferably where it is the cheapest.  

Lately, I have taken inventory and rotated stock per sell by date and bought a lot of pizza because I got 6.77 pizza for as low as 2.44.  I also got eggs for 2/3.   So, I temporarily changed my matrix to a theme based, rather than protein based plan.

We are having

  1. Pizza 
  2. Breakfast for dinner 
  3. Fish - salmon or clams 
  4. Pasta 
  5. Sunday dinner 
  6. Leftovers 
  7. Soup
This is based on things I need to use up and have a large stock on.    

Whatever works.    You don't have to stick hard fast to a plan, just have a plan.   


Monday, February 15, 2016


beans beans the musical fruit; the more you eat, the more you toot!    So says my grandfather, I hear tell.   I surmise it was a nice way of saying that beans can give you gas.    ..make you fart a lot,  LOL

Beans and rice has long been thought of as the perfect pair-- a complete protein.  Actually. nutritionists see that beans are more expensive and people are eating more rode than beans,   Eating more beans they say, can reduce the chance of diabetes and heart disease.   But, the kicker for most vegetarians, is that they aren't in total the best source of protein,  you need to eat meat too.    Brown rice is better than white.

If you are vegetarian, you need to be mindful of your iron and vitamin b12 levels on your blood.    Lack of vitamin B12 can be very serious.  If you are vegan, double the concern.  

Beans that are not cooked well can make you sick, albeit short lived, not pleasant.  Beans shouldn't be left out of the fridge more than two hours.   They should be eaten or tossed after two days.    They do not freeze well; the freezing changes the texture.  

All this makes me believe that they are not worth cooking from scratch unless you cook a small amount and eat it that day or the next.   For a small family it hardly seems worth while.  

Canned beans are inexpensive on sale.   You can and should rinse them and throw out the water that they are packed in.   This reduces the salt.  Some are concerned about BPA.  The FDA says it is harmless in the dices we get as humans.  

For everything that exists in the food industry, there is someone that can dream up a reason why it's bad for you.    If you took all of those items off your table you wouldn't die  from the cancer, heart disease or other toted diseases, you would die  from mal- nutrition.   I thinI one has to use some common sense.   Moderation is the key.

Remember when butter  and eggs were terrible!    Seems that eggs are supposed to be eaten even daily, and, butter in moderation is better than the fake alternative.   The fake alternative has palm oil in it and other vegetable oils that they are saying are processed with metals.   Did you know that if you eat too much kale, you can get lead poisoning.    I could go on and on, but you get the drift.
Everything has its good and bad.

I read an article about what we shouldn't be eating.   Some of it  isn't in  our diet anyway,   I tend to buy only are items with food value in them.   Potato chips and soda are not it!   I use some sugar free, but use it sparingly.    The article says that you can't cut all of out, there would be nothing left to eat.

Salad dressing is a culprit.    I guess when ours is eaten, we will use an oil and vinegar with olive oil and make our own ranch and blue cheese.   You can get mayo that has olive oil in it.  It was the same price as regular.     It doesn't cut all of the salad oil, but it cuts down on it.

Baked deserts are also a culprit.   That's easy to reduce or cut out of your diet.   I've already done that except for occasional special occasions.

Again, I think that moderation is the key.   There has to be other factors in these foods making you get a particular disease, or all of us would have all of those diseases.

We do know for sure that our bodies need a certain amount of salt, sugar / carbs and fat.   We eat far too much in America.  There are easy ways to reduce our intakes.

Ps  I did see. Ore research on that article.    There is no BPA in canned beans.  There is salt and it can. E greatly reduced by rinsing the beans.

Lay off the salty snacks. Rinse anything that is canned.   Make a substitute for cream base that has low sodium and fat free ingredients.   Steer clear of baked goods and eat fresh fruits on season instead, or yogurt.

For those that have Pinterest, the article I am feeling to is on it.
disclaimer -  Many of the products that they say are bad do not have those ingredients in there. I think you have to read your labels.

Thanks, Jane

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Fred Meyer ad

Not a lot. But what there is bears repeating, 

Stock up time.    This is when you take someone with the on there are limits.    
Vegetables, cleans, tomatoes. .49@@ limit six.    A good time if you don't have your stick yet.   

Eggs 2/3@@
Hillshire farm sausage 2/5@@
Best foods 2/5 @@
Chuck roast 2.99

Best ever deals on clearance clothes in the am.   

That's about all.   

One note.   We never use a whole bag of potatoes.  Single potatoes are usually too expensive and too large.   I bought a five pound bag of potatoes for a buck,    I made a concentrated effort to be sue the, up before they went bad and not burn is out on potatoes.    
I made 
  1. Clam chowder
  2. Sausage, peppers and potatoes 
  3. Baked potato bar 
  4. We are having baked potatoes and meat  loaf for dinner.    
That about does it.   

Saturday, February 13, 2016


Oops one of the most Important  things I didn't discuss was the fact that you need to set a budget.  If you are on snap, it's pretty much done for you.  Otherwise, the USDA has stats to go by.   There are four levels of budgets, and it is broken down by age groups .   Remember to read the fine print,   There are adjustments for smaller and larger families.

If you are on snap. Divide your monthly total by 4.2 to get your weekly budget.  

To recap

 Groceries on the cheap  takes a different approach to grocery shopping.   Instead of going to the store and buying one weeks worth of groceries you think you will need. You buy the perishables you need and a loss leader protein..  You identify shelf ready stock and frozen foods that you use on a regular basis, decide  how much stock you will carry and replenish the stock when you can get it for a rock bottom price.    ( sales and coupons,) .

Stocking affords you the luxury of always having food In the house.   It is a good hedge against many disasters, great or small.    Anything from being to sick, or having a sick baby and not wanting to go shopping, to that dastardly s word in this part of the country.  (SNOW) .

No child  should suffer the insecurity of having no food in the pantry.

On the meal train of life, the engine makes the planning and the direction.    The cars are the shopping and the planning of the meals, the next car the cooking,     If you spend more time on the front end of the meal train, and less on the back end, you will be better off financially.

After analyzing the ads, pick the two stores that have the best buys on what you need to buy,   Take your coupons, the ad, a calculater and leave the family at home.    Get in and get out,   The stores make most of their money on impulse buys. Stick to your list unless you find an unadvertised special that is on your stock list.  Get in and get out.  

Make final meal plans after you get home from the store.   A plan beats the take out gremlins.

Finding recipes that your family likes  and learning how to semi- scratch cook makes cooking more efficient and saves time and money.

 Taking a quick survey of the fridge mid week saves money because you can incorporate anything that you need to use up on your meals.

Use bins or mark shelves with you shelf ready stock items so that you can tell at a glance what you need to start watching the sales for.

Snap has been reported to be four dollars per person per day.  That breaks down for a four person family to be 1.25 a meal and a .25 snack.  That's a five dollar dinner.    Remember that the total you spend on lunch and breakfast has Leave money for  pantry items like mustard , catsup, flour, sugar etc.

Balance every meal with protein and fiber.    Sugars and carbs leave the body fast, protein and fiber stay and will help you not be hungry before the next meal.  

Buying your food for 1/2 price or less allows you to have a treat every now and then and give you the luxury of always having food in the house.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Your own cookbook.

I started a personal cookbook on the 70's.     It's full and still has recipes o use often.  It also has my recipes for mixes.    I used it for years. I started a year or two ago making a  I used it for years. I started a year or two ago making you one new one.. Mostly of recipes that were given to me and some from the Betty Crocker recipes I get online. Now I have three binders  hey now I have three binders college :  One for desserts and baking, one for side dishes , and one for main dishes.    I keep two sheets back to back in page protectors from the dollar store. This helps so if you take one out and use it while your cooking, it's staying clean.  

Just remember, no recipe so etched on stone,   The only recipes that you have to stick pretty much to the letter are ones that have leavening in them.    If you don't have a particular mix or bottle of something, punt with  something similar or find a recipe for the mix.  

You can find binders at the goodwill or sometimes at yard sales.  

Thanks for stopping by


Next car on the meal train.

Next car on the meal train is related to the efficient cooking car.   Stair stepping is when you cook more of an ingredient for one nights dinner so you can use it for the next day's dinner.  

One idea is to chop extra of anything that goes on a pizza.   Put it in a small container or zip lock and put it on the door of the freezer.   Of you are like most people putting it in the main freezer portion is like putting it in a black hole.   lOL.

If you are making sweet and sour chicken or pork, save a little pineapple for your pizza meal later on the week.    Ham cubes come in a bag and can be used for many meals including ham and pineapple pizza.    I get three to four meals from a door to five dollar bag.  

Pineapple and ham pizza
Ham and cheese quiche
Ham and beans
Ham  and split pea soup
Chop salad
Ham and scrambled eggs.
Ham and scalloped potatoes

Wednesday's stirfry rice can become Thursday's rice pudding, or part of the rice and bean burritos another day.    ( rice has a short fridge life.  Use it fast.)

Many other ideas are in a recent blog.   Examples

The slow cooker can be your best friend on the kitchen.  There is something about coming home to dinner cooked and the smell is glorious.    Just don't forget to plug it on or turn it on!    Slow cooker recipes are all over the Internet and many cookbooks address them as well.  Betty Crocker   on line cookbook is a good resource for ideas.

Many people freezer or marathon cook. It can be a few batches of something  or you can cook for a day and eat for a month.    I don't have the stamina or time to do that.    Plus, I would rather not fill the freezer with items like carrots that can be in the fridge.    My freezer is precious territory and can be better used for meat and vegetables.    And ice cream......did someone say ice cream!
A few go to easy meals always help when you are going to or have had a hard day.   Always have a back up easy meal to revert to when you just don't feel like cooking or you are having an Alexander  day.   It used to be a jus sandwiches when beef roast was within reason.  I froze th thin slices of beef in a freezer shrink bag and always had sourdough brown and serve baguettes.    Dinner could be done on fifteen minutes flat.    Now, I resort to pizza.    I buy pizza on sale cheap and can add toppings .   Sometimes , we make it from scratch. But a frozen pizza that I can get for less than three dollars with coupons can also fit the bill and everyone eats it without complaints.  

The pressure cookers of today are electronic and a lot safer than our great grandmothers version.    Split pea soup can happen in  a flash.    There are pressure cooker cookbooks and a lot of recipes on line.  

Next : your own personal cookbook.  

Quick hauls

The second haul was from Winco.   I got three pounds of the leanest hambirger you can buy at about three dollars a pound.    Hamburger and hot dog buns were .38 with an Ibotta.   My daughter found buns for 3.50.    That's a difference of about 90 percent.   Grands biscuits were bought with a coupon and an Ibotta was use that nets them at a -.02.   ( they paid me two cents to take them from the store) 
If only we could buy all our food that way!    Olives were less than a dollar, and donuts were 1.69 ( my granddaughters favorite! ) a gram can spoil her granddaughter...right!!!.    

The first haul was from QFC.   I saved 75 percent.   All that was six dollars and change.   I used coupons and sales.  Because I kept the haul small and just got what I could use, ot only took a few minutes to complete the planning,    I got a dozen eggs, three cans of Campbell's chunky soup, two boxes of 2.5 more fiber pasta elbows, a package of Hillshire Farms  sausage, a package of frozen broccoli, a package of chocolate chip cookies.    

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Batch "cooking" pork.

When it comes to pork and batch cooking, I only cook crumbles of pork sausage.   I buy jimmy dean from Costco.    It has been the cheapest price on a three pound log.  

When I can find a half of a pork loin for as low as 1.69-2.00, I bring it home and slice off pool chops, leaving enough for a roast.   I freeze the port chops and cook off the roast for that,nights dinner.( or the next night) leftover roast gets sliced thin for BBQ pork sandwiches or leftovers.    Stir fry works too.  

Sometimes I find a pork tenderloin for five dollars on Safeways five dollar Friday.   I recently got two for five dollars at Winco.   They taste so good.   I just roast them off on the oven,    They don't take very long.  

To recap:   Buying the loss leader and filling in with freezer/ fridge things on weeks when proces aren't being friendly is a way to hav protein with the lowest cost and cooking efficiency,  

Rotate per week using the loss leader and buying enough of that meat to cover that meats meals for a month or six weeks.   Some weeks there may be two loss leaders and some weeks, you might not find any.
I rotate :

  1. Whole chickens my RBP is .87-100 a pound - Foster farms 
  2. Pork loin RBP 1.69-200
  3. Pork sausage , jimmy dean at Costco.- around 250 a pound 
  4. Ground beef - 7-9 percent RBP - 3.25-350.   -
  5. Tilipa - Winco in a bag , shrimp RBP 5.00 at Safeways, tuna from Costco, 
  6. Cheese, grated, Costco RBP is 2.08-2.25 in a five pound bag.  

1) Chicken we eat 1-2 times a week.   Once a week would mean I need a whole chicken a month.   
2) Pork loin and sausage would share once a week.   I would buy a sausage roll every every three months.   ( six meals, shared with a pork loin six meals , is 12 weeks.  Pork loin would be every three months as well.    
3) ground beef we eat twice a week,   Three to four pounds will cover a months meals.   
4) tilapia shares the limelight with tuna, shrimp, amd clams.   I buy a bag when we are out. 
5) we eat a lot of cheese. I buy it when we are running low.   
6) I buy eggs as needed and try for two dozen at a ceiling price of 2.00.   

I rotate on a regular basis : 
Chicken, ground beef, port loin, and rotate the fourth week between cheese, sausage, and a fish.   
We only eat fish once a week.   Once you have stocked, you can skip a week of there are no sales.    

Pre cooking and batch cooking saves time in the kitchen.   Portion controlling protein saves money .   The guidelines I am hearing is that we need six ounces of protein a day and part of that should be 
eggs.    A quarter of our plate should be protein, a quarter should be starch, and 1/2'should be vegetables or fruit.    That's hard to figure with a casserole, but a good rule of thumb.   

Some children would eat all one thing of you let them. portion controlling the meat ( protein) will force them to eat the rest of the plate.    

Next: stair stepping.   

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Batch cooking ground beef or turkey

I recently have seen some ground turkey for three dollars a pound.    I get ground beef ( 7-9 percent fat) for 3.20-3.50 a pound.  The price of beef rose dramatically a couple of years ago.  Supposedly it was because of the drought and it would be temporarily.  I'm  not seeing that.    A lot of people choose not to eat beef altogether.  I believe that it is the easiest way to naturally get your iron.   I try to get one or two servings a week of beef.

Flavorful meat loaf can have a mixture of beef, turkey, and or pork.   I don't buy ground park often, but I got it for free when Winco opened.  

Batch cooking ground beef takes a little longer than chicken.   I get between three and five pounds of ground beef when it's a good price.   I will opt for five if it has a larger fat content.   Five pounds are easier to work with.  
I set out to make :

  1. A meat loaf 
  2. Meat balls 
  3. Crumbles 
  4. Taco meat.  
1) I first make the meat loaf.  This will be that nights or the next nights dinner.    
     Meatloaf consists of about 2 pound of ground beef, a handful of bread crumbs you have made yourself, 2 eggs, a  teaspoon each of parsley, onion powder or a bit of grated onion, 2 tsp Italian seasoning.  Mix together and place in a loaf pan .HINT: Set out the ingredients in small bowls ( eggs, spices. And breadcrumbs before you start,) after you dump everything on the bowl, all you have to do is wash the bowls.  It  saves cross contamination, and a lot of washing hands.    I use a meat loaf pan. It consists of two pans, one inside the other, and the top pan has holes for drainage.    

2) meat balls - about the same recipe as meat loaf, I set a metal rack on top of a sheet pan ( or use your broiler pan that has been sprayed with cookin oil. ) and a portion scoop to make meatballs.   The trick is to make them all the same size so that they are all done at the same time.    Bake at 400 degrees, start checking after 7-10 minutes.   They should be 180 degrees and no longer pink in the inside.   Cool and portion control into bags for the freezer.   

3) crumbles are just fried ground beef, defatted.      Cool and portion control into enough to add to pasta sauce or a casserole, make sloppy joes, or pit on a pizza.   That's about a third of a quart bag or about 1.5 cups for us.   I make my own sloppy joe sauce .   

4) taco meat - cook crumbles, defat, and add taco seasoning.  ( I make it myself.) 

Mixes and sauces will derail your meal train fast. I take some time in a lazy day and make my own for the few things we use.    I make taco seasoning and a cream soup base mix. 
Sloppy joe sauce is catsup, water, a tsp of mustard ( I use dry) and a drop of liquid smoke.    Liquid smoke is two dollars and lasts forever.    I skip the sugar, no one has noticed.   

The least expensive buns  I have found are at Winco.  I found some at the bakery outlet for 1.25.   They were 3.50 at one store.   One of the tricks a retailer will do is to put the hot dogs ( I only buy Hebrew national or Nathan's) on sale  and Jack the buns to full price.    That's where shopping at two stores really helps.    I don't stock buns.     I buy them on a need basis.  

I try to limit our consumption of processed meats to once a week or less.    

That's about it for ground meat.   
Mixes are addressed on a precious blog.   


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ways to beat the clock in the kitchen.

I am all about not standing in my feet for an hour at dinner time. I suspect that dinner time is hectic around many households.    The more you can do ahead of time, the better off you are in aleveating the stress.  
 One of the things I found most useful is too batch cook.    Buying a loss leader meat in quantity and cooking it all at one time saves money and time.   You are washing the pans and kitchen once.    I am always careful of raw meat.   I disinfect all my surfaces and the sink after I cook.  This means that I am doing it once, not three or four times.    Some of this work can be done while sitting on a stool or at a kitchen table.

  • Chicken.   Whole chickens are the cheapest way to buy chicken.   I get Foster Farms for a dollar or less a pound all the time.   Never buy a chicken that is less than three pounds.  Three pounds is the break even point.  Your pay is much for bones as you do for meat.   Most deli roasted chickens are 3 pounds or less. Even at Costco, you are paying  1.67 a pound.  That's twice as much as cooking it yourself and you get more meat for your dollar.    
  •   The easiest way, by far, to cook a whole chicken when you have no time is to put it in the slow cooker.  Peel one large or two small onions.   Cut them in half or quarters accordingly.   Dump them in the slow cooker.    Wash the chicken under cold water.   Clean out the insides.    Use plastic gloves if you want.   Pour a couple of tablespoons of salt in the cavity.    Put it in the slow cooker and put a dry rub on the skin.  Use a dry rub that doesn't use sugar.   I made one out of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and some pepper.    Like more paprika than the rest of the spices. Cover and cook for an hour a pound on high.  I take it out and reserve the broth for soup.  You can easily separate the breast onto two meals. Take off the thighs, legs, and wings for another meal, and put the rest of the meat and bones on a bag for soup.   Four meals for about 1.25 per meal for meat.    
  • Chicken pot pie
  • Chicken tacos
  • Roasted chicken "Sunday dinner" 
  • Buffalo chicken sandwiches 
  • BBQ chicken sandwiches 
  • Chicken orzo soup
  • BBQ hicken thighs and legs 
  • And the list goes on .....check the Betty Crocker on line cookbook.   

 Roasting a chicken takes a little more time, not much.   
Wash the chicken and clean out the insides.    Salt it.   
Put about anything inside the cavity that you have laying around the kitchen--
An apple, orange, lemon, onion...... Rub olive oil on the skin.   Put a meat thermometer in the chicken by the thigh half way in, not touching a bone.   Use a thermometer that is supposed to be left in the oven.  I have a programable one that works great. It beeps when the meat is done.  It was about twenty five dollars at Amazon.  Cook until the temp is 180 degrees.   I check several places.   I cook it at 375 and turn the oven on for 1.5 hours and add time  if necessary.    

Sometimes I get chicken thighs for as low as .68 at Winco.   I only want chicken that comes from The PNW.   I bake them off in the oven and freeze them.   When we are ready to eat them, I thaw them in the fridge and either shread the meat for tacos or BBQ sandwiches, or I put BBQ sauce on them and broil them until they are warm.   

Frozen boneless chicken breasts are 6.99 at grocery outlet - Foster farms.   
I keep one  bag for emergencies.    

I think the reason why a lot of people don't scratch cook is because they have stopped teaching home Ec in school. Watching some of the cooking shows, ought gove you the impression that it takes a long time in the kitchen.   There are simple ways to cook that don't take hours in the kitchen and still make a flavorable meal.   Knowing how to cook a good meal from scratch is key to feeding a family on a four dollar per person a day budget.   

We, actually, eat on less. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

What now!

OK we talked about the meal train. We talked about the engine being the start  of it all, the brains that plan and identify meals, ingredients we should stock, and how many we should stock.   We want enough for us to be covered in an emergency and enough to last us until we can find a RBP again.   But, not so much that we can't use it all up before pull dates.  

Next, planning and analyzing the ads to make a list of things we need to buy to fill in our stock, buy dairy and other perishables, and our so called loss leader protein.   

With lists of ingredients in hand, we can plan our meals with a matrix to speed the process.    

The shopping day, or a day or so later, ( watching sale dates) we can batch cook or separate the loss leader protein and place it in portion-controlled packages for the freezer or fridge whichever is appropriate.    This makes the dinner hour less hectic and more pleasant.   Having a plan keeps the drive- thru gremlins away,   On days when you know it's going to be hectic , you can put a meal on the slow cooker and dinner is covered.

On shopping day, enter the amount you spent on groceries on a spread sheet or in a notebook.   I keep a spreadsheet with how much I spent per week at which store and keep an envelope with the receipts in it.   

The next car on the meal train: 
Ways to make cooking stress free or be more efficient at cooking a meal.  
  • Pre cooked, portion controlled meats- batch cooking.   
  • Stair - step cooking. 
  • The wonderful slow cooker 
  • The pressure cooker. 
  • Your personal cookbook of easy recipes your family likes
  • Freezer meals.

Coupons, favado and Ibotta .

Coupons got a bad rap when the extreme couponing  show came on.  In case you haven't figured it out, that show is scripted and those deals don't really happen in real life.     Most grocery stores now do not take dozens of coupons for the same thing,    Good thing, most of us dont need  85 bottles of hot sauce.    lol

Coupons are a good way to further reduce your cost of food. You can also at times get personal hygiene products for free.
It doesn't have to take 40 hours a week to clip coupons. I buy a Sunday paper the Saturday  before at the dollar tree and pull the Fred Meyer ad and the coupon inserts. P &G comes out the first weekend  of the month. Also, we get other inserts in the mail about Wednesday or Thursday. I put the inserts in a file folder  sorted by month.   It really helps of you write the date on the outside of the insert.

Once a month at the first of the month, I download coupons that I will use from
I file them in a binder.  

When I find a good buy for something on my list, I look at favado to see if there is a coupon  for it.
If don't have the insert or coupon on my binder, I download the coupon, or go to the insert  and clip it. This takes minutes, instead of clipping all the coupons and filing them so you can pull them when they expire.    Minimal time for maximum benefit.   Watch for coupons everywhere.    Today, I found a coupon for a dollar off of two cans of green chillies.   It made two cans of,chillies thirty five cents each.   That was over a two dollar savings, depending on where you shop.   All those two dollars add up.  

Ibotta so a program ap that I downloaded.   I check it after I get home from the store.   You listen to a shirt commercial while putting away the groceries, and snap a pic of the barcode and your sales slip and they put money in your account.    You can get rebate money for many fresh perishables that almost never have a coupon .  I am saving for an Amazon credit so I can use it for printer ink or toilet paper.

I can average five or six dollars a week using coupons.    I don't think I spend more than five  minutes a week getting them.  That's sixty dollars  an hour for my time.   I have never made sixty dollars an hour tax free!  

There are a lot of naysayers out there.   I've heard it all.   It's just for processed food is one of them--
Most of us use things like yogurt, butter, ice cream, cereal and a whole lot more that is not a hambirger meal box or a box of Mac and cheese.   Talk about processed foods!

   There are a lot of fat free, sugar free, gluten free, taste free foods out there.   Most of them have something else added to them that maybe worse than what you are trying to eliminate on the first place.

   My attitude is to eat basic foods, eat in moderation, use the USDA food pyramid and stick as close to real food as is realistically possible.  Tongue in  cheek news flash.... You are not going to spend six dollars a gallon for milk, and eight dollars a pound for quinoa and feed your family on four dollars a day!  Reality check!

I looked at the butter substitute today.   Ingredients are to be listed in order of volume.    The first thing on the list was water, the next thing was palm oil.    Palm oil is a trans fat.   My nutritionalist told me that I was better off using a skim of butter on my toast than to be using a fake butter.    Notice I didn't say a pat of butter!  

In my opinion, there is too much hype, controversy, and opinions out there to not take them all with a grain of salt.

I do know these things to be true:

1)  You can't take a entire food group out of your diet and not find out from someone who knows what they are doing ( not Aunt Martha) LOL. What you need to replace it with to give you a balanced diet.
2) Many things that weren't good for you a few years ago, are good for you now.   Time has a way of changing people's minds.

Now, I am a firm believer that too much salt, sugar, and  fat is bad for you.    I also believe you can rinse canned food, defat  ground meats, avoid processed meals and some take out meals that are sugar loaded, not serve desert every night, avoid things like potato chips and other salt and sugar loaded snacks.   Oven roast your fries instead of frying  your food.   You can do a lot without becoming an extremist .


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Retailers dirty little secrets.

If You know their tricks, you can  beat them at their own game.   I used to work for a non profit that helped small companies to bring their food products to market.    It is really tough for small companies to get onto larger stores.    Shelf space is at a premium.

  1. Manufacturers pay slotting fees ( basically rent ) for shelf space.   The eye level shelves are most desireable and command the highest "rent ".  It's not too far of a stretch to expect that they are going to factor  their rent into the price of their product.   Save:  look up and down.   
  2. Most of a grocery stores profit lies in impulse buys.   Write  yourself a list of sale items and stick to it unless something shouts I really can use that and the price is right.   You don't really NEED M and Ms-- that hamburger that is priced at two dollars a pound because tomorrow is the pull date, however, can be a bargain to be wreckened with.   Take it home and cook and freeze immediately.
  3. It is No accident that the toys are on the same isle as the sugar coated cereal or the candy and gum are near the checkouts.    First of all, avoid taking children to the store with you.   Some husbands can be just as bad.LOL. Leave the kids home if you can possibly find a way.   You will be less distracted and can make better decisions.   Try swapping babysitting with a friend or neighbor.    Leave them with dad or grandma....
  4. It is also no accident that some retailers change their stores around what seems like weekly.   Costco is notorious for that.   The longer you spending a store, the more money you are going to spend.   The bigger the cart, the more money you are likely  to spend.   If you have to look for something, you are likely to go down every isle.   Costco does not mark their isles.  
  5. When walking around the store, the  outside perimeter of the store has most of the dire necessities : dairy, bakery, produce, and meat departments.    The inside isles have sundry items and canned, boxed goods.    Don't go down a isle unless  there is something you need down it.   
  6. Don't touch anything unless you are going to buy it,   Statistics show of you touch it, you are probably going to buy it.  
  7. Retailers use, music, lighting, and smells to draw you in and keep you there .   They have studied shopping trends.  Focus on your list.   
  8. Pricing is another way to disarm you.   Just because something is 10/10 doesn't mean you have to buy ten.   Some smaller packages of cheese are price low until you do the math,   And find out they have exorbitant prices.   It helps to learn basic figures in your head .  If something's 3/2 it is .67 each.   3/5 is 1.67 each.   There are 16 ounces in a pound, but a cup of grated cheese is four ounces.    Go figure.    
  9. Ten dollar off fifty dollars. Those coupons are meant to get you in the store.   The more you spend over the fifty dollars, the less percentage you are getting off your purchase.   If the products are 125 percent of retail, you haven't saved a thing.   Do the math, and plan your trip.  If you have coupons, factor them on and try to stay as close to the fifty dollars ( or whatever the amount is ) I shop with a plan and my husband adds our purchases with a calculator from the dollar store.    
  10. Buy six save three.   Do the math.  check the bottom line,  if all the products on  their list are highly processed junk food, it's not a bargain at any price.  It all boils down to the first basic tool you need to do groceries on the cheap!    
KNOW YOUR PRICES.   Every item in that store has a RBP.   You can really score if you know what that RBP is and use coupons or rebates to get prices as low as possible.  Remember, the store doesn't care if you use coupons. They get reimbursed for the coupon and are paid a