Friday, August 18, 2017

Smashed potatoes

A good side dish for a potluck.

8 medium sized russet  potatoes
1-1/2 cup homemade ranch dressing
1/2 lb shredded Mexican blend cheese
Salt , peppers
Bacon bits

  1. Bake potatoes.  Peel.
  2. Place in a mixing bowl. 
  3. Smash potatoes ( leave a bit chunky) 
  4. Add remaining ingredients 
  5. Pour into greased 9X13 pan 
  6. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes 
  7. Garnish with green onion and bacon

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What can you do with cottage cheese

Cottage cheese continues to be a bargain.   Fred meyers has it for a dollar a small carton frequently.
It's a good source of protein and calcium and can be 'hidden" in all kinds of dishes.   Lately, I have been finding all kinds of recipes that you would never dream you could add cottage cheese to.

  1. Cottage cheese and fruit salad was a mainstay for us growing up. 
  2. Cottage cheese biscuits.   
  3. Cottage cheese and rice in hamburger for meatloaf or to stuff peppers, or hamburgers.   
  4. Cottage cheese pancakes 

What can you do with cottage cheese?  


1 cup flour
2 tsp sugar
1-1/8 tsp baling powder
1/4 tsp soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup cottage cheese

IN MEDIUM BOWL, measure dry ingredients.
Mix.   Cut in cold butter.

In separate bowl, beat cottage cheese for 2 minutes until smooth.  Ad egg and milk jutnuntil blended.  Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.

Turn out onto flour covered board.   Knead 8-10 times.   Pat out to 1/2 inch thickness and cut with biscuit cutter.

Bake at 450 8-12 minutes.                                                                        

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Chain store ad for the week

QFC was a two week ad last week


Kellogg's cereals 1.88. Buy 3

Milk 1.79@
Just for u digital coupons

Suddenly salad .88
Kens salad dressing 1.79


How many quirk sayings are in your childhood?  Everybody grew up wth some.  A lot of them had some insight into life.   Some were just funk.

  1. I'm not as green as I am cabbage looking.   :   Lesson:  retailers have studied the phycology of shopping.   They know how to trick you into spending more at their store.   Bigger carts.  Displays of junk food might be one of the first things you see when you walk in the door.  This is to get you so start putting high priced junk in your large cart.  There is much more.  There is a separate post on the subject. To be informed is your best defense.   
  2. It's a new one.   Alternative facts.  Almost every food you can name has an opinion associated with it.   This is good, or not so good.   I think you have to look at the source and use your common sense. Someone (MSN) just said that the dollar tree was a good source for food.   Try and not so true.   Not all the food is cheapter than the discount grocery stores.   Not all the packages are as big.   Some things are made in China.   Some things are a bargain and some things are what's left from a test market and are outstanding buys.   Like free is good.   
  3. No food will do your family any good if you are feeding it to the garbage disposal.  Kale can be good for you, but if your family won't  eat it , it's not a bargain at any price.   If your high priced organic food rots before you can eat it , its not a bargain.    
  4. He who poops his britches accuses other chap of smelling of it.   Just food for thought.   
  5. Some people would not see a bargain if it got up and bit them in the butt.   Don't be that person.   Knowledge is power.  Know your prices.   Know who has the best price on certain foods.  No one store has the best prices on everything.   If you don't have a clue, ask a lot of people--especially someone with a lot of children to feed.   Get the ads and make it a point to study them for the prices of the things that you buy on a regular basis.   Doing it for a few weeks wil give you a good idea. There are apps like favado, but they aren't always accurate.    

Monday, August 14, 2017


When you are retired, or not, it helps to have a schedule.   Otherwise, I could putts the whole day and accomplish, but it surely wouldn't look like it.....a little thing here and a little thing there.  

Kitchen management is a task that takes about an hour or an hour and a half , but saves a lot more time and stress when it is time for making dinner.

Recap meal plans :

  • Pizza 
  • Breakfast for dinner 
  • Chicken strips, french fries, veggies
  • Sausage and peppers
  • Mac and cheese
  • Tuna casserole 
  • Beef vegetable soup

Management tasks 
  1. Disinfect the counters, sinks, and drains. 
  2. Load the dishwasher.
  3. Clean the fridge and organize.  Dump everything dead.   Revitalize anything on the edge. 
  4. Make bread 
  5. Cook and de fat hamburger I bought yesterday. 
  6. Wash potatoes , carrots, celery.  Save tops for soup 
  7. Wash and cut peppers , freeze 
  8. Sub mac and cheese for cheeseburger macaroni. 
  9. Wax north side cabinets/island 
  10. Wash kitchen  floor. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Fred Meyer and winco hauls

Well, so much for no spend.   The meat buys were too good to pass up.   I did pass up a whole pork loin for 1.79 a pound at Winco.    The freezer is supposed to be purging, not filling LOL.  

Fred Meyers

Barrilla pasta -veggie speghetti ( for charity)
Milk 1.99
2 packages popcorn shrimp ( over a pound) 7.99
2 cans silver label solid albacore tuna.  1.09 ( clearance table)
Grapes .99
Zucchini .99
Cucumber -English .99
Peanut butter 1.49
2 pkg ribs 11.99
3 pkg organic, grass fed, 10 percent fat hamburger @ 3,99 a pound
2 strawberries at 1.25

Most of this haul was protein that is stock :  it will last us more than a week.  

Yoplait  8/2,98 with coupon
Hamburger buns .75
Hot dog buns .75
Zucchini .89
Corn .33
Peppers .88

Bag refund.   .06

Lots of protein.   Perishables are minimal.  
I deviated From the menu plan today and made vegetable soup to go with our cheddar bread and rice pudding.  

Last weeks fruit that we had leftover is in the dehydrator.   Head start for tomorrow morning kitchen management.    

Meal Plans for week of 8/14/17

Its a no spend month this month.   I didn't grocery shop this week.   Last week we bought a bunch of veggies and fruit and I picked up a couple of lunch box items for granddaughter and a box of tomato bouillon.because it's was at the overstock store for a quarter of the Costco price and we were almost out.

  • PIZZA 
  • Breakfast for dinner. 
  • Chicken strips, french fries, veggie or fruit 
  • Sausage and peppers 
  • Mac and cheese, peas and carrots. 
  • Tuna casserole, carrot coins with honey ginger sauce 
  • Beef vegetable soup with cheese bread 
Notes for economy 
  1. Breakfast for dinner is a good family activity.   Eggs continue to be less than  a dollar a dozen.   That makes the protein about .12 a serving.  If you are short on eggs, you can put almost any leftover meat and veggie in a pie plate and add a two egg, 1/2 cup bisquick an 1 cup of milk mixture to it and have a quick meal.   (Impossible pie) 
  2. Pizza is a no brainier.    Granddaughter loves to make them and the cost for a pizza is 1.01 . Win , win.  Happy family, happy budget.   
  3. Chicken strips are homemade.  Chicken tenders gleamed from the butchering of the split chicken breasts, breading of homemade breadcrumbs, parm, and walnuts.   French fries are still cheapest at Winco.   
  4. Sausage continues to be cheap (2.00 here ) when its on sale an you can use a coupon.   Peppers are usually cheaper at winco.   I freeze them when I can get them for under a dollar.   Green peppers are cheaper, but not a hit with the family.   Oven roasted is good, but you can also just use a skillet.    
  5. Mac and cheese is scratch and starts with cream soup base.   Cheese was 2.19 a pound at Costco.   
  6. Tuna casserole is an inexpensive meal.  Using cream soup base and tuna makes it inexpensive. I usually buy costco tuna, but tuna goes on sale for as low as fifty cents.   A topping of homemade breadcrumbs (free) and some parm and parsley makes it more appealing.   
  7. Beef vegetable soup is a no brainier and easy too .   Anything you can dump in the slow cooker or insta pot and walk away from is a 😊 meal.   Cheese bread is on a blog at www.janefrugalfood.blogspot,com.  --a resource for recipes, some old remade to be better, cheaper, and/or faster.   
All of these recipes are well under a five dollar dinner for the proverbial family of four-- two adults and two school aged children.   Five dollars is a benchmark for eating on four dollars a day.   

My mantra is that if  someone can shop and cook good meals on a sparse budget, it is  not hard to spend more.   LOL.   Avoid too much salt, sugar, trans fats, hydrogenated oil,HFCS aka natural sugars, and fake anything.   

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fred Meyer Sunday ad

The ad for Sunday.  

Grapes .99
Lean ground beef (10%) 3.97
Milk -reg or chocolate 1.99
Strawberries 4/5
Barrilla pasta .88
Sour cream / cottage cheese small 4/5

Zucchini .99
Blues 4.99
English cucumbers .99

Some meats are bogo, but without the basic prices, its hard to tell if they are a good buy.  
Its worth checking out though.   Know your RBP.  

Heritage farm chicken is southern grown.  
It's my opinion that Draper Valley is good chicken but leaves a lot desired in the butchering department.  
My personal opinion is that Foster Farms is washington , California and Oregon grown and it is processed in the state it is grown.    And, a lot cleaner.    I butcher our split chicken breasts and dont care to be grossed out.  

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday recipe : better, faster, cheaper

Sweet and Sour Pork 

1 can pineapple chunks, reserve juice.  
3/4 pound  pork cubes **
1T olive oil 
1/2 cup water 
1/3 cup vinegar 
1/4 cup brown sugar 
1T soy sauce 
2T corn starch 
1/2 cup water 
Green and red peppers, cut into cubes 
2 stalk celery 

Hot cooked rice. 

  • Drain pineapple, reserving juice 
  • Sauté pork cubes in a little olive oil until browned
  • Add reserved juice, water, vinegar, brown sugar and soy sauce to skillet. 
  • Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes
  • Add vegetables and pineapple  and simmer an additional 2 minutes 
  • Make a slurry of cornstarch and water.   Add to skillet and stir until liquids are thickened. 
  • Serve over rice.   
Pineapple comes in low sugar syrup. 
Cut top and bottom off of peppers and reserve for garnish or to top a pizza.   Cut the remaining pepper into wide strips and cross cut into inch long pieces. 
You can add fresh green beans instead of some of the peppers. 
Pork cubes is what happens when you butcher a whole pork loin and cut the tapered ends off an cube the meat.  Cut two pork roasts , one off each end, and cut center loin chops from the center of the loin.    5 meals for four people out of a pork loin that should cost less than ten dollars.   

Total cost about 4.00.    

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thursday bullets: Meals in a hurry list

It's always a good idea to have a few meals you can do that are easy and in a hurry from things you keep on hand in the pantry or freezer.   You never know when life gives you a s);)t storm day,   Meals should consist of a protein, starch and veggie or fruit.

  • Scrambled eggs, hash browns, fruit .   
  • Quiche ( impossible pie ) fruit 
  • Waffles. Fruit,  bacon or sausage 
  • Tacos, Mexican rice, lettuce , tomato, cheese, ( rice in insta pot or microwave, frozen, batch cooked  taco meat ,  in freezer ) 
  • Roast chicken , oven roasted veggies.   ( veggies are pre-washed  chicken precooked ) 
  • Chicken parm , ( use chicken patties when they are on sale ) 
  • Spaghetti and meatballs ( meatballs frozen homemade or store bought ) Armour 
  • Nachos 
  • Slow cooker vegetable bean soup.   

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Wednesday chain store ads

Just  a heads up fred Meyers is better than all this week.

QFC is a two week ad

Personal watermelon 2/4
Milk 4/5
Peaches 1,28
Strawberries 2/5


Cherries 1.79
Ice cream 2/5
Lettuce .99

I'm not seeing much.    Fred Meyers ad is good til next Sunday, and peaches, strawberries,and cantaloupe are cheaper than either of these stores.  

It's all a state of mind.......

Ten easy hacks to save  little bits,

  1. Cut the top and bottom off a sweet pepper when slicing  for stir  fry or another dish,    Chop the top and bottom for pizza or salads.   
  2. Bake multiple things  in the oven to get the most use of your  power.  My mother used to make baked potatoes, baked squash and meatloaf together,  putting muffins in 1/2 dozen pans instead of full dozen pans makes it more flexible.
  3. Save the heels of your bread for bread crumbs,  why pay someone else for their dry bread. 
  4. If you have no eggs, you can still bake muffins by adding a can of pumpkin to a cake mix and baking muffins at 350 degrees  for 20 minutes. .   
  5. Fridge full of bits of leftovers?   A quick simple meal is baked potato bar.  Bake medium sized potatoes and out out anything in the fridge that would go on a baked potato.    Broccoli, cheese, chilli, taco meat, sour cream, bacon,        
  6. Bits of meat and any salad ingredients that go on a pizza can be frozen in a bag  to save for pizza night.  We call this almost free pizza.   
  7. Freeze the pizza sauce ( Dollar Tree) in ice cube tray and after it is frozen, place it in a zip lock in the freezer door.   We get at least four pizzas out of it.   
  8. You can also freeze herbs or small amounts of lemon or lime juice too. 
  9. You can dehydrate almost anything that is not going to get eaten before it goes bad.   Eggs, potatoes, carrots, parsley, berries.   
  10. Leftover tomato paste can be used for pizza sauce, or watered down and used anywhere you would  use diced tomatoes or tomato sauce.     

Monday, August 7, 2017

Fred meyers and grocery outlet haul

We are on no spend,   However, I did find a couple of things that I had been looking for and with graocery outlet its you snooze , you loose.   Here today, gone tomorrow.   Treats are always coming out of a entertainment budget .   That way expenses are separate and less is spent.

Fred meyers

Eggs 79
Cheese slices 1.99
Cantaloupe .99
Cottage cheese
Sour cream

All perishables.   YAY!

Grocery outlet ( AN OVERSTOCK STORE )

Fruit snacks for granddaughter lunch
Tomato stock 3.99 - this is closer to ten dollars at costco,
Split peas
Pudding pops kit....24 servings with the forms 1.29 (granddaughter)

Kitchen management

Recap meals

  • Cube steaks , baked potatoes 🥔 loaded, and salad 
  • Pizza
  • Chicken in rosemary butter sauce, rice medley, veggie 
  • Salmon patties, rice, vegetable 
  • Toasadas 
  • Sausage quiche 
  • Breakfast for dinner 

  1. Disinfect counters, sinks, and drains.  
  2. Clean fridge and dump anything dead.    LOL 
  3. Note and take action on anything that can be saved.   Cook?  Dehydrate?   Freeze?
  4. Prep:  wash potatoes in. Vinegar water.   
  5. Wash salad greens if necessary an salad ingredients.  
  6. Check to be sure you have enough rice mix.  If not, make some.  
  7. Cook and de-fat sausage
  8. Sweep and wash floor.   

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Meal Plans for week of 8/7/17

Meal Plans for week 2 of no spend.   Yesterday I bought tomatoes and strawberries.  6.99

  1. Cube steaks, loaded baked potatoes,salad 
  2. Pizza
  3. Breakfast for dinner 
  4. Chicken in rosemary butter sauce , rice mix, veggies 
  5. Salmon patties. Rice, veggies 
  6. Tostadas 
  7. Sausage quiche 

  1. Cube steaks were bought on a bogo. 
  2. Pizza continues to be a favorite and is 1.03 to make .
  3. Breakfast for dinner opens up many possibilities , 
  4. Chicken breasts were 1.50 last time.   Sometimes they are as low as .88
  5. Salmon -patties from costco canned salmon
  6. Meat, cheese, tomato,lettuce, olives 
  7. Sausage quiche is a favorite here and the sausage was free.    That makes the dish 53 cents.   
Averaging a few really cheap dinners with some that are a bit more expensive makes for a variety of meals and means you can have some meals that are a little more pricy.   

Our sausage was free with a digital coupon.   It took me all of ten seconds to click a box on an e mail.   It gave us a 5.79 chub of sausage.   I usually only pay around two dollars for sausage.   The price went up , but I ave still been able to find sales and coupons to keep my RBP.   If it gets to high, we will make our own.    With proper equipment , things are easy to make from scratch.   It doesn't happen overnight but buying one thing at a time and buying quality pays.  My insta pot and food processsr are workhorses in the  kitchen.  

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Fred Meyers ad for Sunday

Fred Meyers (Kroger ) Sunday ad

Foster Farms chicken breasts 1.88
Eggs .79
Cantaloupe .99

Fred Meyer sour cream - 2.00 lrg

About it.  

Sausage is 2.99 with a digital coupon....i got it for free with a digital coupon at qfc (also Kroger )

Friday, August 4, 2017

Visuals .....making the best use of free.

Celery from the end of the celery stalk..--just add clean water to the bowl daily.  

Grated zuccchini draining.   Zucchini has a lot of water.   
Ready to squeeze the water out and bag for zucchini muffins or bread .  
Chocolate, did someone say chocolate.   

Our old but still working dehydrator.   

Sliced zucchini in the food processer .   All the trays ful made 1/2 a quart.    I can rehydrate them, or pulse them in the blender and sneak them into sauces.   

Good nutrition ,  no money .  
It all ads up.   

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ten pantry dinners

Five pantry dinners for those brain fart days when you didn't thaw anything.
Foods from a basic pantry and fridge

  1. Tuna potato chowder ( all basic pantry ) 
  2. Speghetti and red sauce 
  3. Nachos 
  4. Frittata 
  5. Veggie bean burger 
  6. Vegetable bean soup 
  7. Mac n cheese
  8. Salmon patties 
  9. Tomato soup and toasted cheese -or cheezy biscuits if you are out of bread 
  10. Omlettes or impossible pie ( takes only 2 eggs.) 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Chain store ad

Last weeks qfc ad was a two week ad.  

Milk 1.79
Watermelon. 3.99
Best foods mayo 2.99

Friday only

Ragu pasta sauce 4/5

Pork loin asst chops. 1.99. **

** not my favorite buy.   This way you get nasty chops hiding below the good ones a lot of the time no mattter where you get them/.  

There may be coupons out there for best foods.   I saw a coupon on , but my printer was not in a good mood today.  LOL.   The question would be that this mayo is listed as organic so the coupon might not match up.  

The basics: making riotation work.

The biggest hurdle to get over is the transition between buying your food on a weekly basis at one store and buying rotation at two stores.

If you buy your groceries at one store and you are buying just what you need for a week, the odds are against you , about the same as winning at the casino.    One of the easiest change  for most people is to investigate which two stores in your area have the best prices.    If you only have one store, think about going to a neighbouring town once or twice a month and either getting them to mail you their flyers or finding them on line.    If it's too far, group them with other errands or carpool with a neighbor or family member.    Buying the real specials that you will eat at two stores cuts your grocery bill a lot.    Here, Winco and Fred Meyers have the best prices , but that can change.  

The biggest difference you can make is to know your prices.

My mother used to say that some people could have a bargain get up and bite them on the butt and they wouldn't see it.   Don't be that person.   

You don't have to know the prices of everything in the store, but you need to know the RBP of the things you use in a regular  basis.    That can of cranberry sauce that you buy once a year won't make much difference in the overall scheme of things, but the can of diced tomatoes you use twice a week will.

Make a list , one item per sheet on a small spiral pad.  They are three for a dollar at the dollar tree.   Write the prices off the sale ads for those products and the dates.   You will soon see a pattern and can predict when things will go on a good sale.

Take little steps.   Start with the first thing you find that you use on a regular basis that is on a RBP.   Buy two instead of one ( probably no more capital outlay) .  Ditch  one on the back of the pantry.   Keep doing it.   Just plug away at it.   Soon you will have a stock built and instead of buying a weeks worth at a time, you can only buy what needs to be replanted and you will be shopping your  pantry  instead of shopping  the stores.    That six pack of green beans you bought this week, will be replaced by a six pack of corn next week, and so on.    This will be easier if you get your budget amount in one lump sum.    Buy your basics and set aside a certain amount a week for the perishables.  When you buy your food 1/2 price, it doesn't take long to realize the profit.

Being in a position of not having to buy things gives you the upper hand.   You can wait until the price is the lowest to buy your food.   This won't work for produce. But it will work for a lot of staples.   Watch for dairy sales.   I can almost  always get milk for 2.00 a gallon.  Sour cream for a dollar for 8 ounces,  butter for 2.50 a pound. And yogurt for .40 or less.    I only buy yoplait light because I watch my carbs and they are the lowest I have found.  

Stocking is a good thing of you know your limits.   Have a good idea and a limit set in your mind of how much you use and how much of a supply you are stocking,   I have shelves in my pantry and a certain amount of shelf  space is allocated to a particular food.   I can tell at a glance when I need to watch for a sale.    Moderation is the key.    Watching pull  dates is key.    No one needs a whole closet full of pop, or anything else for that matter.

Two major things you can do to cut your food budget drastically and grow a stock is to
1) don't buy snack foods and drinks,   1/2 the average grocery cart is snacks and drinks,   Stick to coffee, tea and milk.  Give your children the RDA of milk a day I'm kidding what they get in their cereal and in pudding etc,   And, don't buy chips and snack foods, especially the individual packages
We buy tortilla chips in the big sack at Costco. Anything else has to come out of a entertainment

2) shop two stores and shop the RBP..  Let your meal plans be dictated by the produce in season
And the foods that are on a good sale.    It everything listed on the "sale " ad is really on sale.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Kitchen management

Yeserday ,I wrote out five weeks of meal plans.  I hope to go that long without a major grocery haul--basically just perishables.  

Kitchen management is a tool to make your life easier at dinner time.    Setting aside an hour or so during the week to prep your meals saves a lot of time during the hectic meal time.    Its a good way to stave off the take out gremlins because when you are tired, dinner is less of a chore.  

Meal Plans revised

Hot dogs with buns , potato salad, veggie sticks
Chicken nuggets, corn on the cob, fruit
Chicken parm sliders. Spinach salad
Tuna potato salad, cheese biscuits
Breakfast for dinner

1). Wash potatoes and vegetables with vinegar water. 
2) clean refrigerator and note anything that needs to be used up. 
3) put the stove fan vent  screen in the dishwasher.  
4) disinfect the sinks and counter top.   
5)check recipe for choice parm sliders 
6) prepare the coating mix for the chicken nuggets
7) make cream soup base or rice mix if needed 
8)  make lettuce salad 🥗, store in bag with paper towel 
9) straighten pantry.
10) Wash kitchen floor 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fred Meyers haul

quick haul from fred meyers

1 pkg chicken for 7.50 for five pounds.   That's 1.50 a pound.  Boneless, skinless chicken breasts at fred meyers was 4.50 a pound.   It took me 2 minutes per breast to de bone it.   I have the six quart insta pot on slow cook cooking stock and meat.  

At 8 minute to de bone the chicken, and a savings of 3.00 a pound I virtually made 112.80 an hour.  
And, we get 6 quarts of stock at 2.79 for a quart.   2.79 X 6 is 16.74.  

So for 7.50 I got

4 very large chicken breasts
6 quarts of stock for a retail of 16.74.
And chicken pieces.  

For a total manual outlay of 8 mnutes.  

We also got a large package of English muffins ( equivalent of two packages for 1.67
A gallon of milk for 1.79

Winco Haul with prices

Winco haul with prices

Corn .33
Blueberries lrg 1.98
Grape tomatoes 1.48
Strawberries 1 lb .98
Cake mix .88
Green chillis
Pink ladyaples .98
Bread 1.98
Fries 1.28 2 lbs
Steak fries .99
10 lbs potatoes 1.98

Total 20.37

List of staples

In anticipation of a no spend month , I took inventory and made note of things we were going to need to buy and what we could use for meals.

List of staple shelf ready items.

Dry beans
Canola oil
Olive oil
Bisquick -real or homemade
Popcorn -raw
Brown sugar
Oatmeal -raw
Chicken stock granules
Beef stock granules
Vegetable stock graduates
Dry milk

Pantry items
Diced tomatoes
Pasta sauce
Pizza sauce
Tomato paste or small cans of tomato sauce
Green beans

Rotation meats
Chicken breasts
Pork loins
Ground beef
Pork sirloin in a pinch /ham cubes **
Dry beans

** to replace sausage on the rotation if sausage isn't needed.   Makes a six week rotation, Most stores will have those on a good sale during a six week period.  

Sunday Meal Plan for next week

Using the stock you have on hand is an easy way to meal plan.   Also, incorporating what's on sale any particular week helps too.  

Sausage and bean soup, bread or biscuits
Chicken nuggets, oven fries (homemade ) veggie sticks
Chicken parm sliders , salad, ( make slider buns)
Tuna surprise
Breakfast for dinner

Notes: my grocery expenditures have maintained at less tha 55.00 a week for three of us and we have continued to build a stock.  I made a concentrataed effort this month to replentish any basic necessities that were running dry.   My goal is to go on a no spend August.   No spend means we will buy perishables .    Anything that is end of the season cheap,I might buy in bulk an dehydrate.  

  1. We purachased sausage a 2.50 on sale last week and still have a bag from a bulk purchase in the freezer.  
  2. Pizza is a no brainer.   Everyone eats it and its cheap and an easy way to use leftovers.  
  3. Nachos for movie night.   
  4. Chicken nuggets scratch.   Use parm, ritz crackers, and walnuts.   Walnuts are cheap at winco and they are already chopped.   
  5. Chicken parm sliders need slider buns.  A new adventure to made scratch buns. 
  6. Tuna surprise is a recipe I just found.   Let me know if you want it shared.  
  7. Breakfast for dinner is another no brainer an usually a Sunday night affair with the entire family participating in the cooking.   

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Salad dressings: scratch

Its the time for salads, summer fun and low calories.  

Creamy italian dressing

1 cup Mayonnase or low fat sour cream.
2T parmesean cheese
2 T vinegar
1 T grated onion
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp italian herbs
Salt, garlic powder, pepper
Enough milk to thin dressing

Combine ingredients and chill for a couple of hours to develop seasoning.

Basic vinaigrette

2 T vinegar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
Pinch of salt
Ground pepper to taste
6-8 T olive oil

You can add herbs to your liking
Italian seasoning
Chives or

Fred Meyers ad

Not here yet, but I heard a outstanding story on a grocery haul I would like to share.   The gentleman shopped at the whole paycheck store.   He had a thirty dollar grocery haul.   To put things in perspective, our grocery bill for the last three months averaged under 55.00. .

He had a sparse haul, maybe seven items for thirty dollars.   His remark was that things were displayed nice.    Hey, you cant eat displayed nice.!  When you leave the store, the memory is long gone and its not in your tummy.    Just a reality check!  LOL.

4 day sale SMTW

No bargains

Regular:  not much there, all back to school

Grapes .99
Milk 1.79
Leg cottage cheese /sour cream 1.79
Hillshire farm lunch meat 2/6
Frozen potatoes 1.79 2 lbs
Pie 3.49

Foster Farms split chicken breast 1.49

Red onions .99

Friday, July 28, 2017

Toasted cheese sandiwiches and tomato soup

Who rmemembers toasted cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.   A right of childhood along with watermelon, s'mores, licking the beaters , and ice cream cones.  LOL 

I have long been hunting for a scratch (not canned ) recipe for tomato soup.   Till now I have resorted to the box of tomato and roasted red pepper soup from Costco.   Its a lot more money at other stores, but you can get it at costco for about two dollars when they have it.   

We use it as a base and add cream, basil, and blue cheese.   Yum.   Blue cheese is a ingredient that either you like or you dot like.   You could sub Romano or parm.   

I did find a new recipe that can be adapted to work .  

Tomato soup with basil 

2 cans of diced tomatoes , crushed. ***
1-1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth **
1/2 tsp each of onion powder, garlic powder , sugar 
1Tablespoon dried basil, 
6 Tablespoons of orzo 

1/2 cup cream **
3T parm**

  1. Crush tomatoes by putting in a blender or using a potato masher or stick blender..
  2. In a slow cooker or a stock pot. Place tomatoes broth and seasonings.   Bring to a boil over med high heat and reduce heat to a simmer.   Simmer 15 minutes . 
  3. Add cooked orzo and cream.  
  4. Serve with parmesean for garnish.  

Buying one kind of tomatoes makes your pantry simple and facilitates getting a RBP. 

Scratch broth is best but in a pinch, there is granules and better than bouillon
Substitute milk if you dont have cream.   Whole milk powder is a good substitute and you ca make just what you need.   

I buy any hard cheese that is the cheapest when I needn't to buy it.   Parmesan cheese in a brick is good, buy Romano or another that comes in a wedge at costco is good too.    Its a expense, but will last for a long time.   

Substitute cooked rice if you dont have orzo.   Good way to use leftovers.   

Toasted cheese on 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sausage - two ways

Yesterday , i purchased two chubs of sausage for 5 dollars.   I froze one. And the other one I fried and de-fatted.  

I used 3/4 of the pound in a 'quiche" (impossible pie ). Impossible pie is easy, quick, and almost all protein and dairy.   Very little carbs per serving.   1/8 of a cup of flour base. Not really low fat , however.   Balance the fat with a no fat vegetable bean soup for another meal.   Its all about balances.

Today we are taking the rest of the sausage and making a pizza.  Mozzarella cheese is made with part skim milk.   That lowers the fat and a quarter pound spread between four servings is reducing the amount of meat without sacrificing then protein grams.  

Scratch pizza is a very low cost meal as well as the quiche.   Both are well below the five dollar threshold.   A cheese pizza is a buck and one cent.  My sister made me price the olive cost four cents, thus the penny.    I refuse to price salt.   I got five pounds for four dollarsnten years ago.  Three generations later we will still probably have salt left.   LOL.  

Add 62 cents for sausage to the 1.01 cheese pizza and you have 1.63.   Salad is a dollar at Safeways this week.  

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The basics ,:scratch cooking

I saved this one for almost the last.  It was one of my last hold outs.    I got our food budget down to 72.00 a week.   The stats  were close to 150.00.   But, I wanted to challenge myself to see just how low are expense can be and still eat well balanced good food.    It was a game by now.   My original object if this blog was to help people on low incomes or snap to stretch their food dollars so they could have good food and still build a small emergency stock.   I started cooking a lot more things from scratch and I cut our budget  to 53.00 a week and we still are building our stock. The USDA stats  are based on actual food eaten at home, they don't count  school lunches or stock .   We are sitting at 45 percent of the USDA stats.   We eat well. We eat fresh fruits and veggies, we portion control,  none of us are overweight.   We try to avoid extra salt,  sugar, trans fats, hydrogenated oils. HFCS and fake food.

The words scratch cooking scares some people and they envision spending all day on the kitchen while the laundry stacks up , the house is a mess and you don't get to work.   The Lucy bread baking episode comes to mind. LOL .   Not so. I set out to scratch cook efficiently,    My mantra is that  if you spend  a little more time planning  and shopping wisely, you can spend less time cooking.   Of course, with a five yo in the house, the neat house doesn't always happen.  

The internet is full of scratch recipes-  some efficient, some not so much.   Developing your personal cookbook  one recipe at a time will take time.  It's totally worth it,   I have my first one from 1970.   I brought a new one up to date with more healthy choices-- times have changed and some things never change.   Grandmas recipes have just got a little more healthy,

Spending a block of time to make your own mixes helps greatly,   You have the convenience of mixes, but not the cost  or preservatives.   Engage your children,   I have been following some people on u tube.   I have learned  a lot.   There is one family of ten that all work together at maintaining their  quality of life.   Children as young as 1.5 years are "helping " in the kitchen. Consequently, their 13 yo can cook remarkable dinners.    It is a good thing to do at home since the schools don't have the same home ec departments they once had.  It is really a necessity if life to learn to cook.    My daughter never wanted to, my son wanted to learn to bake.   My granddaughter wants to do anything she can.   Engage them.    Mixes are good for learning fractions, counting, and children love to stir or push the buttons on the food processor.  My mother used to say that if children were helping, they weren't making a mess for you to clean up afterwords .   How true.

 Making your own spice blends and mixes saves a lot of money,   You can get small amounts of spices in the bulk isle of some grocery stores pretty cheap. I needed dill one time .ot was sox dollars for a tiny one by one inch bottle.   That much dill in the bulk isle was.    W a i t.   For it........   seventeen cents.  

Baking mix, pancake mix, or muffin mix are all cheap especially when you get bulk flour.
Making your own bread can take all day, or you can make easy ones that take ten minutes hand on time,    The time that you let something sit on the counter while you grocery shop, or do the laundry , or take the kids to the park doesn't count ! Lol.

Anything you can throw in the slow cooker or insta pot and walk way from is a good thing.

I don't have stock in insta pot, but I wish I Did! Lol.   It's one of the most versatile work horses in the kitchen.   It's a slow cooker, it's a rice cooker, it is a pressure cooker that is almost fool proof.  Remember to put it on seal to pressure cook , and remember to add enough water.   That s about it.   Don't put more than 1/2 full  when cooking anything that expands like pasta or beans.   Easy peas!  And saves sooo much time!   Scratch soups on five minutes, Pork chops in three,   Chicken from frozen on 8 minutes..   considering that it is three appliances that   all  work well in one footprint, it's a real bargain. It also sautés.

Going out on a limb and trying to do  all this at once is a deal breaker.   Terminal burnout.  Take baby steps and build your talent.   Every little thing will save money.   The snowball effect is a wonderful phenomenon.  It works.   Give it time.

Goodwill and QFC

Fitz and Floyd plates ,  I paid 20.00 for them years ago.   I had 4, now i have 8.  
2 pkgs of unders or granddaughter and a jumper for granddaughter.  Total was 
About the price of the underwear.  23.96 plus tax.   

2 jimmydean sasuages , 2 tillamook ice cream, a box of protei bars, blueberries, tomatoes, 2 bars of soap, and a pint of birthday cake ice cream for .....wait for it.  14.06.
The sausage cost 5.79 each.   Savings 67 percent.   

Extreme couponing

QFC has a buy five save 5 sale for the next two weeks.  This is usually when you can make out with coupons.   I have saved as much as 78 percent.  

I need to plan this trip.  
First , granddaughter needs underwear and new underwear is at goodwill and we get twenty pencent off today.   (Seniors) .  

Tillamook ice cream is 2.99 and I have a coupon for 2.00 off of 2.   Makes it 1.99.
Jimmy dean sausage is 2,49. ( 5.79 reg ) have no coupons
Nature valley fiber bars 1,79 less 1.00 coupon is .79
Free ice cream 3.99 nets 00

Total 9.75

Total cost 26.34 savings 63 percent

Wednesday chain store ads

Wednesday chain store ads


Johnsonville dinner sausage 3.77

Grapes 1.28
Pork Loin. Roast 1.99 limit 2

Coleslaw, garden salad , spinach .99
Eggs .99@@
Cherries 2.99
Leaf lettuce ...88
Walla walla ibuibs .99

Just 4 you coupons
BBQ sauce .99
Lipton tea 2.99

Two weeks ad
Blueberries 2/5
Red tomatoes .88

Buy 5, save 5

Tillamook 2.99. $$
Jimmy dean sausage 2,49
Johnsonville better cheddar 2.49
Nature valley 1.79$$

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ten things that will sabotage your food budget

Ten things that will sabotage your food budget.

  1. Sugary drinks.   No one needs them and they are not good for you.   They also inflate your grocery ticket.   Recommend :  water , milk, tea  coffee.   
  2. Snack foods.   Again, sugar and salt are not the best things for you.   There is sugar hiding in a lot of foods.   Scratch cooking gives you the luxury of knowing exactly what you are eating.   The manufacturers are sneaky and have all kinds of word to hide the amount of sugar you are eating,    Another big budget buster and diet buster . 
  3. Ready made anything.  It just makes sense that the more labor that goes into making something the more its going to cost.   There are a few exceptions.   Pasta sauce is one.   It cost more to buy the tomatoes than it does to buy then sauce.    It might be different if you grown them from seed and have a bumper crop.   A few other things just take too much time to be worth your while.   Most of us have more to do than to cook all day.   Pick your recipes wisely.   
  4. Spice mixes .   The cost is prohibitive for a few teaspoons of a spice blend.  Most spice blends have a recipe somewhere on the internet.  Spices are cheap at the discount stores or you can get small quantities in the bulk isle.    Note to people in the PNW:  winco is cheaper than QFC on their spices.
  5. Cereal and granola.   Again not much bang for your buck.   Oatmeal is one of the cheapest cereals and very nutritious.   Granola is easy to make.   Again, children can learn to cook as you go along.    We started baking at 9.   My granddaughter knows how to make pizza from scratch with supervision.   No hot , not sharp,and no raw meat.   She is 5.   Teaching them at an early age to wash their hands and make things will save you a lot of time later and teach them life skill in the meantime.    Life skills are not taught at school anymore. I hear.   
  6. Small quantities of things that you use almost daily.  Generally, the smaller the package, the more per ounce it is going to cost.   There are always exceptions.    It doesn't pay to buy a huge can of something that will go bad before you will use it all up.   Most families cant use a number 10 can of anything.    Sometimes if you are using a coupon matching it with the smaller package will make it almost free.    I buy popcorn, oatmeal, flour, and rice in bulk.   For the cost of 8-1/2 pounds of rice, I can have 25 pounds.   Almost three times as much.   It will not spoil before we   If  I buy a quantity of fruits or veggies because the  price is beyond right I will plan to dehydrate them.   If something isn't getting used up fast enough, it gets put in the dehydrator.   Carrots come out exactly like they went in after you put them in soup.
  7. Bringing people to the store with you.   Children especially.   If kids are throwing a fit, you can't concentrate on what you are doing.   Spouses are notorious  for adding things to the cart.   
  8. Buying individual packages of meat.  Rotation of meat and buying in quantity ( mega packs) when they are a good prices saves a lot of money.   It only takes a few minutes to break down the packs in portion controlled meal packets and freeze.   Buy enough to cover as many meals of that meat you will eat in a four to six week period of time.  Buy something else the following week.   You are still eating a variety of meats , you are just not paying full price for anything.  
  9. Buying anything at full price.   Buy the things that are on really good sale.   For veggies and fruit that is usually what is in season.  It tastes better and is more healthy because it is fresher.   Meats are usually on sale on a rotation basis in the larger supermarkets.   Take advantage of the mega packs and rotate your meat purchases.   If you only buy what's on sale and buy enough to last you until it goes on sale again you will never pay full price.   Your market basket might not look balanced but your pantry will.   Less money, more food.   
  10. Know your prices.  Don't sweat the price of that can of cranberry sauce that you buy once a year.  Identify the things you use on a regular basis and keep a little notebook if you cant remember.   Little notebooks are 3/1.00 at the Dollar Tree.   Or type an excell spread sheet and put it in your purse or coupon book.   Most shoppers have a list of about 15-20 items.   Things like diced tomatoes, green beans, pasta, pasta sauce, dairy products, chicken, cheese, pork chops, hamburger, diced chillies, tuna, canned salmon and veggies.   I have a rule, I dont buyI dont buy  a vegetable or fruit unless its under a dollar.   In the 70s it was .39, then it went to .69 in the 80s . Now its a dollar.    Rarely do I pay more .  That usually means we dont eat much asparagus LOL.   
Extra thing:   Don't buy your groceries on line unless you are in a pickle or have health issues that don't enable you to go to the store.   Its a convenience and you are paying with higher prices and delivery fees.    

Watching what goes in your cart is paramount in keeping your bottom line down.   

Monday, July 24, 2017

The basics :portion control

Portion control is important for several reasons, namely maintaining a good body weight and keeping a budget.    This information is from the best source on the internet I could find,  nothing can take the place of an consultation of your own nutritionist.    These are basic guidelines and should be taken as such.  I'm am not a nutritionist and you have to make your own decisions  regarding your nutrition.

Dairy : 2-3 servings a day ( some of this doubles for protein )
A serving of dairy is
8 ounces of milk for an adult, six for  a child
1cup  yogurt
2 cups of cottage  cheese
1/2 cup  non fat milk
1 cup frozen yogurt

Vegetables - 5 servings a day

The basic guideline are for .08 grams per kilograms of weight.   In American language, that's .65 grams per pound of body weight.
Average is 56-91 grams for a male, depending in activity levels.
Average for a woman is 46-75 grams depending on activity level.   The 75 is if you are an athlete or do heavy manual labor at work.

Animal protein provides all essential amino acids for the right ratio for us to make full use of them.    This only makes sense because animal fossils are like our own.   

In obese men, protein at 25 percent of total calories makes you feel full and helps you to loose weight,  

Beef has 7 grams per ounce of protein
Chicken has 21 grams in three ounces of cooked chicken breast
Chicken thighs have 10 grams in a average thigh,
Eggs have 6 grams - and good fat
Yogurt has 5 grams per serving average. . Greek yogurt has more.   Check the label.  
Note  bread and peanut butter.  - 15 grams of protein

My daughters nutritionalist when she was a toddler said nontinfeed her juices.   She was better off eating the fruit.  Fruit juice from concentrate has more sugar than pop.

Sugar, beer, and too much meat will cause your kidneys to go bad a I just read that and have some doctors info to assume it is true.

It goes without saying, if you let your kid fill up on snack garbage, they won't have room for good food, especially if they are picky or light eaters.

Personally, we stick to three to four ounces per person for meat for a dinner,   By the time we add breakfast, dairy, and lunch, we have more than enough to meet the RDA for seniors.   Obviously, a teen age boy in skirts needs more calories and more meat,   They don't , however, need to eat a whole 2'  pound roast.    Lol.

Monday : kitchen management

Kitchen management is a tool to use once a week ; the results are efficient cooking and a less hectic dinner hour.

A few hour set aside will save many hours later.   It is more efficient prep for dinners.

Based on this week's meal plans. :
Hamburgers, oven fries , fruit
Pork chops, sweet potatoes
Speghetti with meat sauce, bread, salad
Tuna cassarole , peas and carrots
Tacos, Spanish rice
Breakfast for dinner.

  1. Wash potatoes and fruit 
  2. Mark pork chops to be thawed.  
  3. Make bread dough 
  4. Clean fridge 
  5. Take inventory based on your list 
  6. Wash floor 
  7. Clean counters, sinks and disinfect drains. 
  8. Straighten pantry 
  9. Clean oven 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Breakfast for dinner

Breakfast for dinner is a real hit in our family. Because it is much a short order type meal ( where everything gets cooked  at the same time, everyone pitches in. Granddaughter is really good at buttering English muffins or setting tables.  

It isn't always the cheapest menu on the week's menus , it depend on what you choose for protein.  

  • Bacon, pumpkin pancakes, real maple syrup , blueberries 
  • Quiche with sausage and cheese 
  • Eggs,  fruit, English muffins 
  • Waffles , eggs, fruit 
  • Breakfast burrito 
  • Vegetable omelets 
  • Eggs, toast, yogurt parfaits ( yogurt, berries, granola layered, )
  • Sausage and apple puff pancake 
  • Ham and feta omelette 
  • Veggie strata 
  • French toast, bacon or sausage, or ham, fruit 
  • Oatmeal pancakes, fruit 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Meal Plans

Meal Plans for week of July 24, 2017

Meal plans are a real help to facilitate easy meals.
Planning meals and some weekly prep work makes it easy to get the dinner on the table without consulting the pizza delivery demons.   LOL.

  • Hamburgers , oven fries fruit salad 
  • Pizza
  • Pork chops, sweet potatoes, salad 
  • Speghetti with meat sauce , salad , bread 
  • Tuna cassarole , peas and carrots 
  • Tacos , Spanish rice 
  • Breakfast for dinner

Winco haul

I did some kitchen management today.   Noticed that I was running low on some staples.   Some I had already put on a list.  

Strawberries .98
Blueberries large 1.98
Lean ground beef was just at 3.00 for 15 percent
Suddenly salads were .98 and u had a coupon for a dollar on four
5 lbs cornmeal.  3.07
Canola oil 1.98
Olive oil 8.48

Total  29.54

Pork sirloin was 1.69 if i remember right.   Well under two dollars.  

Fred meyer Sunday ad

Fred Meyers ad for Sunday (kroger)

Broccoli .99
Cherries 1.47
Petite sirloin steaks 2.97 - cheaper than good hamburger (grind)
Ground beef - 20 percent fat 3.49.
Milk 1.79
Sour cream/ cottage cheese 1.00
Strawberries 2/5
Zucchini .99

Note:   Costco business has pork loin for 179

Friday, July 21, 2017


Better, cheaper, faster is a series of posts that address the issue of old recipes .  I try to remake them to be better, cheaper and /or faster.   This is about efficient cooking because with a busy schedule, making the best use of your time is essential and spending more time planning meals and shopping trips and less time in the kitchen gives you good food with more bang for your buck.

Our average for this year is 53.00 a week for three of us.   We live in a high COL part of the country.  Our COL is 121 as apposed to 98 for Colorado, and 90 for Idaho.   Twenty% more.  

Anytime you can make a mix in a few minutes instead of buying a  single serving box , you are saving money and ingredients you cannot pronounce..   the time expended is minimal.

Rice mix

6 cups white rice
1/2 cup dried parsley
3 tbls chicken granules **
1 Tbls onion powder
1-1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp thyme

Mix .  To cook use two cups water with 1 cup mix.  UNLESS you are using the insta pot ..  then use equal parts and cover, seal, and push the rice button.

**. You can also add broken pieces of speghetti.
** chicken granules are found in the  spice or bulk food isle.  You can sub vegetable or beef for the chicken .  You can also find low sodium options.  

Chicken BOWL

1 lb cooked chicken in cubes or shredded.
Season with garlic and paprika

Cook 1 cup mix with appropriate water.

Add chicken, cooked rice, and peas, chopped onion, black olives and chopped tomato.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The basics : Coupons, are they worth it?

Coupons these days are for bigger amounts than they were in our mothers days,    There are a lot of dollar coupons , so it doesn't take a lot to add up.  We don't buy a lot of ready made things and I can still save three to six dollars a week usually.  

 Coupons can be found in inserts that come in the mail and in the Sunday paper.    You can also print coupons on   You can print 2 of each,   Of course, if your printer messes up, you are out of luck.    That's what happened this month! Lol

Coupons are on a first come first served basis.  There are limits as to how many coupons can be printed,   Be kind and don't print  any coupons you know you aren't gong to use.

Example,:  I saw a package of sliced sargento cheese that retails for 3.50 an 8 ounce package.   That's 7.00 a pound and over my target price.    But, it was on sale for 2.50 and I had  .55 coupon.  Now it is 1.95.   Now, I got a .50 Ibotta on it and now it is 1.45.  

I keep my coupons in a 3  ring binder in plastic sleeves.    You can also find a coupon envelope at the dollar tree.    Or use a envelope or envelopes from the recycle.

Ibotta is one of the rebate sites.   You sign up, preferably with a friends code, and you can get rebates on many things, sometimes just for buying tomatoes or other generic food.   When you have enough. They will give you a gift card for Amazon or movie tickets or.......

It all adds up.   It only takes a few minutes while you put the food away!

I recently had a Facebook post from years past pop up.   It was on a coupon that I had found.
Rite aid had laundry detergent for 3.99.  I had a three dollar coupon.   That made the  detergent .99.  Now, there was a coupon for a free detergent bottle on the bottle.   The second detergent bottle cost me the price of a stamp.   240 loads of wash for 1.47.    And who says its too time consuming and there are only coupons for stuff you don't need. LOL.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Costco and winco grocery hauls

Costco - business
6 cans chicken 9.99
3# bananas 1.39
Large strawberry. 3.99
Large cornstarch 2.99


Hot dog buns .75
Blue bunny ice scream w coupon 2.75.  Compare to 4.50 at fred Meyer.
Salmon burgers 2.48
 Total 5.92 

Wednesday chain store ads


Johnsonville brats 3.77
Blues 2.77
Extra lean ground beef 3.99
Star kist tuna. .59 @
Walla walla onions .99

Five dollar friday

Corn 10 ea.  - thats fifty cents an ear.  
Salsa 3/5

There are some BOGO things,   But not knowing prices doesn't give me a clue.


Peppers, English cucumbers .99
Milk 4/5
Cottage cheese, sour cream 4/5
Red cherries 2.99

That's about it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The basics ,Finding a RBP.

Finding the best prices on food is not such a hard task.   It can be overwhelming, but not of you break it down to a few steps

You have already--

  • Identified sources of protein  that you will use in your meal plans.    These should be less than two dollars a pound of you are trying for a four dollar a day budget.   (Snap guidelines ) 
  • Identified the items you buy on a regular basis to prepare meals from those protein sources. 
  • Now, gather your ads,    Our Winco doesn't have an ad, so you just have to visit the store. Every Winco has different prices because they work  off of a list to provide prices lower than  the competitors.  It's important to note, that no one store can have the best prices on everything,   
  • Take a short inventory of your fridge,pantry  and freezer.    This will tell you what you are missing.  
  • Now, start circling everything that you need that is a good price.   Check for coupons to  remember what you clipped.   $$.    I usually do that for people on the Seattle area.  There are some sites that work in other areas.   Try favado.   
  • Soon, you might start seeing better prices at one store over another in an item.  
  • Circle, star, or tag any item you intend to buy,   I put a check mark on anything I might have a coupon for,   The best use of coupons is when you find a good buy and can stack a coupon with it.  You can't stack an electronic coupon with a paper one. Most  all stores take them.   
  • I have a meal plan form I made in excell.   It has seven blocks in one side of the landscape sheet and two columns on the other,   In one column I have listed the things we buy on a regular basis that are perishable to fill in meals,    The second column is blank so I can either mark how many we have or note that we need it.   This  makes doing an inventory a couple of minutes. 
  • Now, decide who has the RBP  on what you need.   Here, it is usually Fred Meyers and Winco,    Occasionally, we find a good sale with coupons at Safeways or QFC.   Costco is always go to to for bulk Purchases.    I continue to check prices, but unless something is in a huge sale, you can't beat the few things I get from Costco,   Not everything is a bargain at Costco.   Look for a rotation meat.    My standby if I can't find pork loin cheap is to look at Costco business.    It's in the next town, so I don't go unless I'm out of a few things that they have that regular Costco doesn't carry.  Costco has grains that were not part of our vocabulary in the fifties, and seaweed.   But, they don't carry corn starch, or large canisters of broth granules or some spices.    I bought a larger than large sack of salt and soda.   I will never have to buy them again! Lol.  They were cheap.    They can be used for cleaning as well as food.    
  • Having a target figure ( nothing to do with the store with the red balls ) for your basics list is Germaine in knowing if something is a stick up price.  Try to never lay full price  for your basic needs list.    Canned veggies should be less than fifty cents,   Ditto diced tomatoes, beans of you buy canned.   I want 149-1.69 a pound for pork loins,   I want .88-1.00 a pound for Foster Farms chicken,    (Locally grown ) hamburger  3.28 or less for 7 percent fat.   I want pasta sauce in glass for close to a dollar.   In cans for under a dollar, pasta ( Barilla) should be under a  dollar...preferably .50-.75 cents.    It is always a dollar at the DT. ( dollar tree) as is canned pasta sauce and they take coupons- up to four a  day, and some won't take two  coupoms for two   of the same thing.    That's not the written coupon policy, but best not to argue.  They have the last word.   I want frozen v goes for under a dollar a POUND.   Many vegetables are in 12 ounce pkg.  Cheese  should be less than 2.35 a pound.  Different states have different prices.   
  • If you live where there isn't a variety of stores, you probably have higher prices,because there is no competition.  Consider scoping out the next big town and finding the best priced stores.   You can sometimes get the store to send you the ad, or find it on line.  Or get a family member or friend to take a snapshot of other and Facebook it to you.  Find the best sake week and go once a month,   if it isn't  near other errands you,need to do, consider carpooling with a friend or neighbor.  Split the gas bill, or take turns.    We used to drive ten mikes to Winco once a month before we got one in our town.   I hear Aldi is expanding to almost double stores.  Think outside the box.    
  • The best prices you can get with coupons is when you can find something on a mark down table and have a coupon. ( I got two cans of s and w beans for .08  total.    ) or you have a buy XX things, save XX dollar sale .  Our Kroger has those often,    You have to make your choices carefully, a lot of junk food here sometimes, but with careful planning, you can match coupons and make out.  I saved 78 percent one time.   
  • You can a,so make out with a basket coupon ,   That's where they give you  XX number of dollars off a XX dollar basket of food.   Do the math,    Find the percentage of discount,    A five dollar off of fifty dollar basket is only ten percent,   If the prices are already high, it doesn't  pay.  This is another time when buying what's on sale with a coupon and adding the basket coupon can make you really clean up.   IF.  You stick to buying the maximum of the blanket or basket coupon.  Any amount over will lower your percentage off.   
Why bother, my time is worth more than that!  Is the most heard excuse about coupons and target shopping.    Let's break that down.     The average family our size spends 7800 a year on food.   We are at a pace to spend 2700 dollars his year and maintain a small emergency stock.    That's five THOUSAND dollars.    That's one nice trip to Disneyland or Hawaii.    Or covers the cable and the heat bill.   Or makes a car payment.     

Monday, July 17, 2017

Its a matter of thinking

Saving money and trying not to waste is a  matter of thinking. Its a frame of mind.  
Little things add up.   One attitude leads to another.  


  1. Cut the ends  off a pepper first.  Then slice peppers from the inside out.   It will make slicing easier.   This works for tomatoes too.   Save the ends to chop for cassarole, salads, or pizza.   
  2. Save the ends of your bread (heels) .   Why pay upwards of 2.40 cents a pound for someone elses dry bread?   Use it for meatballs, breading, toppings for mac and cheese or other cassaroles.   
  3. Buy diced tomatoes with seasonings.   Buy the seasonings according to what your family likes. Our family likes to eat italian and Tex mex.   So chillis and italian herbs work.  
  4. If you know you are going to make a recipe with jalapeño in it. Try buying the jalapeño cheese instead of regular.   I added a 1.25 bag of cheese to my order at Safeways because i needed to come up with a 20 dollar market basket to get a 15 percent discount.   I used the cheese in my cornbread instead of adding jalapeños.   That saved me a 66 can of chillies.   It also kept our cost down to the proverbial five dollar dinner.   
  5. When chopping celery for soup or stews, use the top an bottom of the ribs.   Leave the middle for celery sticks.  
  6. Baby carrots are just the culls of the carrots that are cut down and bleached.  It cost a dollar for a pound of carrots.   Five pounds of carrots are less than three dollars.   
  7. Ends of carrots an celery can be used for chicken stock.  
  8. Butchering you own split chicken breast to make boneless , skinless , chicken breast saves about seven dollars a pound.    Throw the rib bones in your slow cooker with water, the ends of carrot and celery and cook on low until the meat falls off the bones.    Pick the meat and freeze the stock.   Now you have not only saved a lot per pound on your chicken, but you have free chicken stock that costs over two dollars a quart.    
  9. Use the bits of chicken that you pick off the bone for taco meat, cassarole, chicken soup, chicken and dumplings. Burritos, chicken chimichangas, chicken salad. Pulled chicken sandwiches. Etc.   
  10. A few meat dripping can make gravy.   No need to buy an expensive gravy mix.   All gravy is is the meat drippings, some flour, and water.    Some cheap flour and the dripping you throw away.    Heat the drippings in a frying pan. While the drippings are on low, shake some flour into the drippings to absorb the fat.   Gradually add water and stir with a wisk until the right consistency.    Add salt to taste.   

Grocery haul 7/16/17

I did the kitchen management today so we could work in the yard later.    Went shopping after we cleaned out the fridge.
Fortunately, we threw very little out.   
A 48 cent cucumber did not get eaten.   

Fred meyers:   Not everything on my list was a good price at Freddies.    There were no bags of real carrots.   The trick is to get the best of to stores.    

Fred Meyers
2 dozen eggs. .89
Cottage cheese 1.25 
Apples 2.80
Tomatoes 1.43

Total 7.25


Pizza snacks 2.18
2 lbs FRIES. .....99
Milk 2.28
Grape tomatoes 1.78
Mild green chilies 66
Carrots 2.28 - five pounds 
Celery 2 heads 1.96
Lettuce .98
Watermelon 3.97

Total 19.42

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Monday: kitchen management

kitchen management is a tool that saves a lot of time during the hectic dinner hour.   Prep work done in mass is a lot more efficient than doing it piecemeal.  

Based on yesterday's meal plans.  

Pizza is a no brainer.  I just have to make the crust the morning of and put it in the fridge.   We already have grated cheese, pepperoni if we want it, peppers are always chopped in the freezer because I save the ends of the peppers for pizza topping.   Ditto any little extras that happen to be hanging around the freezer or fridge.

Mark the meal plan for the day before we have chicken nuggets so the chicken is defrosted.  
The dredging is done the day of.  It can be done in the morning and put in the fridge so that the breading sticks better.  

Wash the potatoes for the nugget meal and the corn chowder, and oven  tries  and dry.   Put in colander to store.  

Wash and cut veggie sticks

Cook chicken in the insta pot from frozen. Dice.

Clean out the fridge , noting anything that neeeds to be used soon and adjust meals accordingly.

Wash the kitchen floor and disinfect the sinks, counters, and drains.

Rotate the chores of cleaning the stove filter, icemakaer drip tray, waxing a side of the kitchen cabinets and washing the outside of the fridge (air vent )

Straighten the pantry.  Note low quantities .  

Ham and Corn Chowder

Taking old recipes and making them better, cheaper, and/or faster.

Ham and Corn Chowder

 Two medium potatoes , peeled and diced
1/2 of 16 ounce bag of frozen corn
2 cups ham cubes,diced small.
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2  TSP EACH of garlic and onion powder
Salt, pepper
3 cups chicken broth - homemade and defatted.

Place ingredients into a six quart stock  pot and cook on medium heat until the potatoes are tender.
Make a slurry of 2 T cornstarch , 2 cups milk
Add to the pot and stir.  Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

1 cup cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
Stir unti the cheese is melted.

Insta Pot.
Place all ingredients down to the chicken broth in the pot.   Cover and process 4 minutes.  Quick release.   Check potatoes for doneness.

Turn off the pressure cooker and switch to sauté mode.   If your potatoes weren't soft, cook until they are soft before you make  your slurry .   Add slurry to pot and stir unti soup has thickened.   Add cheese mixture and stir until the cheese has melted.

Sunday meal plans

  1. just a note:  Sunday meal plans will continue to be on this blog.  They will also be on my new blog "Dinner:  Better, Cheaper,Fasster.    The second bog will have content that is strictly related to recipes.   Recipes that are adapted to be cooked in the insta pot and recipes that have been family favorites , but they are adapted to be a bit more healthy .   Less saturated fat, salt, sugar, preservatives, hydroginated oil, transfats, and hfcs and still with less money and efficient cooking.   

Meal plans : 1 beef, 1 fish or seafood, 2 vegeartian, 3 Pork or chicken,

  • Pizza 
  • Breakafast for dinner 
  • Ham corn chowder , loaded cornbread 
  • Nachos loaded 
  • Salmon patties, oven fried potatoes, fruit 
  • Chicken burrito bowl 
  • Chicken nuggets, oven fried french fries, veggie sticks 
Notes : 
Pizza is scratch.   Cost is a little more than a dollar for a 14 inch pizza.   
The last of the pumpkin pancakes, maple syrup, fruit cup, eggs 
Ham corn chowder adapted for the insta pot 
Nachos:  taco meat, tomatoes, black olives,  green chillis , cheese, chips from Costco . 
( 3 lbs for 3 dollars and change and they dont shout grease!)
Salmon patties can be made from a can of salmon or purchased from winco quite inexpensively.   
Cut potatoes in wedges an toss in olive oil and sea salt or garlic pepper.   
Chicken burrito bowl is on the dinner site.   Delish.   
Chicken nuggets are homemade, along with the fries.  New topping will appear on dinners sometime this week.  

Spending more time planning a. Shopping trip and planning your meals and less time in the kitchen is a way to eat well and cut food costs.   

Saturday, July 15, 2017




Blues 377
Peppers 88
Eggs 89
Washington cherries 299 **
Jazz apples 99
Ground turkey 350
Tomatoes 99

Sour cream 125
Frozen potatoes 179 - 2 lbs
Butter 2/5 **

Notes i think it interesting that Washington cherries 🍒 are cheaper in other part of the ountry.   
Frozen potatoes are cheaper at winco, but they arent uniform in size.   
Butter is cheaper at Safeways this week nad even cheaper if you have a just for u basket digital coupon.   

The gal at Safeways loaded the just for you to my phone that will make it a lot easier to use th just for you and you can google an article and see if there is a digita coupon for it and instant add.   

I dont think that turkey is a good buy, it is a buck in other parts of the country.    Just a note.    
Eggs are remarkable.   If I have an abundance i dry them for when they arent as cheap or if we canat get out for some reason.  

Crayons 49 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Recipe ; better, cheaper, faster

Chicken Tetrazzini - serves 4

8 ounces spaghetti, broken
1 frozen chicken breast - at least 6-8-ounces
2 recipes cream soup base **
2 slices red pepper, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
2 ounces parm cheese for topping

  1. Place frozen chicken breast in insta pot on rack.  Add 2 cups water or chicken broth.   Seal the pot. ( close lid and make sure the vent is on seal) and push the poultry button.   
  2. Cook and drain the spaghetti.   
  3. Make a double batch of cream of ....soup base.   
  4. Grease a two quart cassarole and add the cream soup base, chopped red pepper, peas, and cooked spaghetti .  
  5. When chicken is done with its cycle, finish de-pressuring and remove chicken from pot. 
  6. With two forks, shred the chicken and add to the baking dish.   
  7. Stir gently.       
  8. Cover the dish, bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Uncover and add cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes or until the dish is bubbly on the sides.
Your chicken, spaghetti and cream sauce can cook all at the same time.   I cook thespaghetti in the microwave, so the spaghetti and chicken are self cooking.   All I have to watch closely, stir, is the cream  soup base.   

Toss all ingredients in a covered, greased cassarole and bake in the oven and you are free to make a salad and set the table.    

Thursday bullets - cookbook review.

Taste of home - make and take

A complete book of all kinds of summer recipes from appetizers to deserts and everything in between.

  • Chicken parm sliders  
  • Cheddar veggie appetizer torte-- surprise crust and enough protein  to be a main dish. 
  • Mini BLT - stuffed tomatoes 
  • Texas taco dip platter 
  • Swiss cheese bread 

  • Hawaiian Pork roast (butt) 
  • Beef  and cheese tortilla pie 
  • Greek pasta and beef 
  • Monitire meat pies
  • Sauerkraut cassarole 
  • Beef and veggie sloppy joes 
  • Meatball subs
  •  brocolli slaw 
  • Layered picnic loaves. 
  • Chicken chilli with  black beans  
  • Double butterscotch cookies 
  • Raspberry white chocolate bars. **
  • Berry white ice pops ***

** white chocolate chips are on the bulk isle at  Winco.    Buying just what you need sometimes saves money. 
*** popcicle molds are at the Dollar Tree this time of year.     A lot more healthy than  sugar water.    


Thursday, July 13, 2017

dinner take along.

Made new recipe of bread dough.
King Arthur refrigerater bread makes two loaves. 
The last batch 2nd half is above.   Take it out of the canister, knead it a couple of times on a flour covered  board and set it on parchment paper in a Dutch oven to rise in a warm oven, turned off.   
Parchment paper is cheapest at the dollar treee. 

Meanwhile, I cooked a cup of mixed beans in the insta pot with 8 cups of water. Seal, and push the bean button.   Walk away!  When it was done, I released the pressure, (use a towel and a wooden spoon) and drained the bean juice.    Turned the insta pot off.   

I opened two cans of non bpa lined diced tomatoes I paid 39 and 50 cents respectfully, and a handful 
of dried carrots and celery.   The pic is an old pic because i took pics but forgot to G plus them. We added sausage to that one.     I added 2 quarts of tomato stock and Italian spices.   Put the pressure cooker on slow cook for 8 hours. 

Meantime, i swept the kitchen floor and filled the 5 gallon bucket with flour and put  my dishes to soak.   

After the bread doubles in size, I will bake it for 35 minutes, covered, and another three uncovered so it browns on top at 450 degrees.   

The new bread dough will rise on the counter unti double in size.   It is 2 liters now and will be at the four liter mark when i place it covered in the fridge.   Now, it is partially covered to let the gasses out.

Total time, a little mor than an hour.   That's cooking beans from scratch and taking pictures even though they are lost in cyberspace.      

Ill post them on facebook for anyone on my Facebook.   

In depth ~. Scratch cooking

Scratch cooking...the art of spending all day slaving over a hot stove to produce dinner.   ~~ not any more.   The old days left with the invent of frozen premade meals and components.  Now, the tides have turned and to save money and avoid preservatives, we are going back to scratch cooking.  Everything old is new again, but with a twist.

The invent of countertop appliances and the ingenuity of five ingredient or less cooking. Scratch can be just as efficient and a lot cheaper than using something out of a box or bag.    Buying basic ingredients in bulk is a lot cheaper than buying individual boxes of food.

A box of bread mix is almost three dollars.   A loaf of artisan bread is three dollars at winco.   A loaf of bread made from bulk flour and bulk yeast cost.  Thirty cents and takes ten minutes.  And thee ten minutes doesn't t have to be in the same block of time.   It can be that ten minutes while you wait for something else to be done.   I like to pay a game:  what can I get done before the  microwave finishes.
I can get the floor swept, unload the dishwasher sans the silverware, or throw the ingredients for pizza dough in the food processer.

When a pizza costs less than driving to little Cesar's, the cost of a food processer just became manageable.   It cost 1.40 with pepperoni and peppers.   A loaf of bread cost between .22 and .30 cents.   That five dollar bag of cooled chicken breast pieces costs about .66 . And takes about four minutes to cook and chop in an insta pot.   You are cooking with steam, no fat.

Before I went to almost all scratch cooking, my weekly average was 72.00 ; after it is about 53.00.   That more than pays for a insta pot and a food processer.   Honestly, I have a kitchenaid mixer, but i don't use it as much as i do the food processer and the insta pot.   I use the meat grinder and the  slicer attachment more.   At twenty dollars a week, it doesn't take long to pay for an insta pot.

When food is going to be wasted because we didn't eat it fast enough, i have been slicing it and dehydrating it.   That 1.39 bag of bananas got ripe too quickly.   I sliced them and dehydrated them.   My granddaughter ate them in two days.  She would not have eaten the bananas that quickly.    We paid 69.00 for the dehydrator and have used it twenty years.  Beef jerky, eggs, carrots, potatoes, fruit. That 40 cents worth of dried bananas would be well over a dollar and took me very few minutes.   My husband opens the banana and leaves  section of skin on it.   Then he can slice it really fast and dump the slices.

No, I'm not getting paid to promote the insta pot,  I just love mine.   Its three appliance in one, does all of them well.  Saves time and money.    Beans don't freeze well.   They don't hold well.  Their refrigerater life is short.   Beans and rice spoil fast and I don't take chances on food poisoning.    Before the insta pot where I can cook beans in a matte of a few ~ like maybe two minutes , we used canned beans,   The difference in sodium and cost is remarkable.   Retail on beans is a dollar a can.  I can usually find them for 50 cents.  The cost of scratch is about 16 cents.

Efficient scratch cooking can save time and money.  Invest in appliances that make sense and are workhorses in the kitchen.   Develop a binder of five ingredients or less recipes that your family will gladly eat.   Take the time to make your own mixes and spice blends.   Even at 50 cents taco seasoning is a rip off.   Cream of xxx soup is more of a rip off.    That hour you spend on a rainy Saturday can save tons of money.  

The average family spends 5000 a year more than we spend and probably don't eat any more nutritious.   .