Friday, February 28, 2014

Finally Friday-- the basics

This is usually the day we grocery shop.  Last week I spent 126.00.  Because there were a lot of good buys.  Thos week,I am only seeing a few things on my target prices, and  I have a stock of both. It gives me the luxury of staying home and catching up on the laundry.  LOL.  I may bake bread and prep next weeks meals.

This is usually the time of the month that I recap the basics.  This time I'm going to do it in bullets .  If you have questions or want more detail, please comment below.  If you aren't signed up on google, you can comment  anamous.

Groceries on the cheap takes a three disciplined approach to getting food on the table.

  • Planning and organizing
  • Shopping wisely
  • Cooking from scratch 
Like everything in life, it starts with a plan.  
  •  Identify the inexpensive sources of protein your family will eat.  In our house that is eggs, cheese, rice and beans, chicken, pork, and beef.  
  • List 7-14  meals that your family will eat.  Start a cookbook with the recipes .  I use a three ring binder and plastic page protectors so they stay clean.  
  • List the shelf ready or frozen ingredients that you use on a consistent basis.  We use diced tomatoes, beans, refried beans, tuna, instant mashed potatoes, some  green beans, pasta, pasta sauce , black olives.  This is your target list ( no reference to the department store,  ) 
  • Start a price list.  It can be a notebook or a spread sheet on the computer.  The heading should 
  • be the name of the product and  the size of the package.  Then do a line that has the date, store, how much you paid, ( or advertised price) and if you used a coupon, net cost.  You are tracking a basic few foods that you use on a regular basis. 
Most of this organization is a one time only project.  You will save a lot of time and money in the long run.  

When you get the grocery ads for the week.  
  • Sit down with a piece of computer paper.  I use something out of the recycle bin.  Section it off. Top  each section with the name of a store.   Start listing any perishables that are a good price.  ( produce and dairy)  and anything that is a good price on your target list.  Find the meat that is a " loss leader" .  This week In Seattle, it would be chicken for a dollar a pound at SAFEWAYS.  
  • Now, cross off anything you don't need and anything that is a cheaper price elsewhere.  You should have two stores that are shouting "pick me pick me " by now.  
  • Go to those stores, buy the list and anything you need, and get out.  The longer you spend in a store, the more you will spend.  
  • Remember, you are only buying real food.  No sugar coated cereal, chips, and the like. Junk food will jack up your bill and defeat your purpose.  You want  to get to the end of the month on budget and with food in the pantry.  
  • With your price book, you are looking for the rock bottom price ( RBP)  on the foods that you eat on a regular basis.  That should be about ten - twelve items.  You are going to stock these items when they are at their RBP and stock enough to last you until they go on a RBP again.  Most stores work on a eight to twelve week cycle.  Of I use an article once a week, I keep 24, of I use it once a month, I keep six.  Things like mayo and catsup I keep one ahead.  When I open the one in the pantry, I start looking for a sale. 
  • The main object here is to NEVER PAY FULL PRICE.  If you are paying full price, you are wasting money.  You might as well put your money on the fireplace and burn it.  Now, that being said, there will always be times when you just can't find a bargain or you miscalculate a sales rotation.  And, building your stock will not happen overnight.  It happens a can at a time.  It doesn't cost any more money than you are spending now, but it takes some time.  Your budget is the same whether you buy a can of pasta sauce for 1.59, or you buy two cans for 1.56.  The difference is that you are eating twice, not once.  Pasta has an eight year shelf life.  I pay anywhere from .50-1.00 for pasta, tops.  Once I got it for .38.  
  • Use coupons for things you would normally buy on a thrifty budget.  There are a lot of coupons out there for junk food and cosmetic type things you don't need.  But there are also some for necessities and things that you would normally buy.  Printable coupons are on a web site called There are other sites, but most of them use the same data base.  The coupons are listed at the beginning of the month. They are rationed and they only can print so many.  Get there at the first of the month for the best high figure coupons.  You can print two coupons per product.  I buy a Sunday Newspaper  at the dollar store every Saturday or Sunday. Save the coupon inserts.  I put them by month in a binder clip.  
  • There are coupon matching sites everywhere,  they take the ads for a particular area and match the sales with the available coupons. They either link your coupons, or they tell you which insert they are in,  I only put printable coupons that are for products I will use in a coupon binder with tags that section off types of food and cleaning and personal  products.  One matchup site in Seattle is  If you are not in Seattle, google coupon matching/ ( the nearest big town you live by)  ie.  Coupon matchups / Portland, Or.  This is a wonderful time saver.  These should be free, and if they ask you personal info or want money, move on because there are free sites.  
  • I don't want to spend more than ten minutes or less a week couponing.  This is not about hoarding or spending a forty hour a week coupon quest.  I download once a month  keep my inserts and pull them when the matchups show me a good bargain.  I love the word FREE when it is something I can use.  I get toothpaste and deodorant and soap for free.  I save up the toothpaste for the women's shelter.  The dollar store accepts coupons ( dollar Tree) . You can use two per family per day. You should never have to pay for soap, deodorant or toothpaste.  
  • A thrifty/ SNAP budget doesn't leave much room for specialty foods or junk foods or meals on a box ( ready mades) .  Scratch cooking doesn't mean you have to slave over a stove all day.  There are plenty of recipes all over for things you can make easy.  The slow cooker can be your best friend.  My daughter and I dissected a hamburger meal box.  The results were remarkable. ( see an earlier post) .  If you analyze what is ( or is. Ot) in there, you probably would never buy another one again. 
Living on a thrifty budget or on SNAP, doesn't mean you have to sacrifice good nutritious food.  No child should have to exist on top ramen and potato chips every night for dinner, and no child should have to suffer the insecurity of waking up to a pantry that is empty.  

Knowing how to shop and cook wisely can make the difference between running out of money before you run out of month and resorting to top ramen and potato chips or chicken fried oatmeal, or eating well and having food in the pantry at the end of the month. 

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Terrific Thursday : what to do with what you got

Yesterday, we had a stirfry and rice.  I cleaned out the vegetable bin.  Safeways has chicken for a buck a pound.  I can get a roast chicken dinner, a chicken pot pie, BBQ chicken and chicken noodle or vegetable soup out of a five  dollar chicken.  Ot takes ten minutes for me to put a chicken in the oven to roast.  The savings over a deli chicken are remarkable.  Never buy a chicken under three pounds 4.5 to 5.0 is better.  The ratio of bone to meat is at break even at three pounds,  the heavier from there the better.  We always want more bang for our buck!!LOL.

Chicken would be my batch cooking protein for the week.  You will need to adjust the quantity of chickens to your family.  I am working on a scenario of two adults and two school aged children.
We actually have three adults and a toddler.  Probably about the same amount of protein  used.  Casseroles, pot pies, tacos and soups all use pieces of meat.  They will stretch your food dollar more than having a slice of meat.  We need four ounces of meat a meal.   If you have something with less than four ounces ( you use less than a pound for four people) then augment the meal with other sources of protein.  Taco dinner can have some refried beans or rice with some salsa in the rice  water.  Chicken soup can be paired with cheesy biscuits.  If you have a vegetarian meal without protein, augment the meal with a protein rich desert.  Being flexible and creative goes a long way to stretch your dollar to maintain a thrifty budget.

I always stock cheese.  I get it when it is 2.50 a pound.  I have seen it as much as eight dollars a pound.   I make Mac and cheese by making a white sauce ( or use the basil recipe starter that I got for free) and adding any bits of cheese I have in the cheese drawer.  I usually use several different kinds.  Last time I used some pesto cheese with the basil sauce.  Grocery outlet is a good source for unusual cheeses and most of the time  they are reasonably priced.

There is a whole generation of children that think Mac and cheese comes out of a box with dried cheese powder.  It's not that hard to make  scratch Mac and cheese.  Unfortunately, recipe starter is almost gone from the dollar store.  I am now seeing coupons for a pouch version, so I'll be going back to white sauce when this stock is depleted.  The recipe starter was free or nearly free and it made it cheaper than homemade white sauce.

Using up leftovers is a key to saving and not wasting. The best tool you can have is to KNOW YOUR PRICES.  If you can't remember, keep a small notebook on your purse, or make a spread sheet , update it regularly and carry it in your purse or coupon binder.

My mother used to have the expression, some people wouldn't know a bargain if it got up and bit them in the butt.  Don't be one of those people!

It would be nice to say that you can make everything from scratch.  I make as much as I can from scratch and make my own mixes often.  Sometimes it is cheaper to get something made than it does to make it from scratch if you find a good sale and use a coupon.

Case in point.  Salsa is on sale for 2.99.  I paid 1.50 with a coupon.  That's 1/2 price.  Making it from fresh tomatoes this time of the year would be prohibitive.  Making it from a full price can of diced tomatoes would cost more than the 1.50.  I scratch cook when it is worth my while.  It either has to taste better, or be cheaper.  We buy few ready made or mixes, but sometimes it is not to your best advantage to scratch cook.  It's a balancing act.  Remember almost every ready made or mix has preservatives in it  and the closer to scratch you can make something the better off we are. Most of the time scratch is more cost effective and better tasting. Sometimes not.  Do the math and see if it's worth it and weigh the cost and time vs the store bought version.  I, not talking about a hamburger meal box.  But things like salsa, tortillas, refried beans, and pasta sauce bear a second look.  Pasta sauce at .78 or lower is cheaper than homemade.

The concept of virtual pay is not a concept that everyone can grasp.  I ran that by a co worker.  She just didn't get it.  She also refuses to use a computer unless she has to use the cash register at work.

If you want to know of making something vs buying it is worth your time do the math.  ( there are more concerns than time, I realize.  Sometimes it is just cost prohibitive, or the nutrition is not what you want, salt and sugar, fat? )

Price the ready made per pound, slice, etc.
Price the scratch.
Find the difference.
Calculate the time you took to make the product
Divide the time by the money saved.
This is how much you are virtually making an hour.
If it is under two bucks, you are better off buying it.
Many times it is more than I have ever earned in  my life.

When you plan your shopping trip and find the RBP and match coupons for things you would normally buy anyway, you will find your savings will net you a pretty hefty wage.  Often I find I have made 75.00 an hour.  The savings are real. The wages are not!   Darn!?!!!

That's all I have time for.
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wednesday,the ads 2/26/14

I would be remiss if I didn't post the buys .  Don't forget when you are  making your list to cross off anything more expensive than elsewhere,and check the coupon matchup stores for any coupons to help reduce your bill.

Onions .47
Kale 2.00
Roma's .67
Shrimp 5.99 lb-- wild from USA

Eggs 2/3@@  ( cheaper at Walgreens)
Cheese 4.99@@
English muffins .99@@
Yoplait 10/5$$

Pot roast 2.99
Salads BOGO
Cheese BOGO ) don't know the prices, cheese should be 2.50 a pound RBP?
Chicken whole, .99
Smoked sausage BOGO $$
Strawberries 2/6 ( on the edge of RBP)

Five dollar Friday
Peanut butter

Pork chops 2.50
Blues 4.99
Yoplait 10/5$$
Grapes 2.99
Pork shoulder 1.79

Buy 6. Save 3
Most processed junk food
Best foods
Sour cream
Ragu might work if there is a coupon


Salads .98
Kelloggs cereal 4/10 with free milk ( there are Special K and mini wheats and this might work if there are coupons). I want no sugar loaded and less than 1.50 a box.

Yoplait .38@@$$ I see more than free for at least one.

.88 sale
Mayo 2.88
Tuna 98
Peanut butter 1.88
Hunts pasta sauce  ( buy 10 mix or match ) .88  more than my target, bit still believable )
Pudding pack ( not something I would buy, but on the backpack list)

Eggs 1.99( see the spread of prices-- 1.29 at Walgreens before next Sunday)

That's about it. I can't emphasize enough the value of shopping two chain stores.  Plan your trip.  Bring a cooler.  Bring the ads, your coupons, and your list.

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BLOOD Pressure check!

Yesterday I spent most of the day tracking down a Disney princess Toddler Bed for my granddaughters birthday.  We purchased one for ten bucks at the goodwill, but the goodwill had a mixup with paper work and sold it twice!   The first lady got it first.  I ordered it from K Mart
 but the order got lost in cyberspace and k mart didn't have it in stock.   I started calling every retailer of children's things until I finally found one at toys r us in stock.  And, I go it 15 percent off.  We wound up getting one with a canopy .  It wasn't ten bucks, but it's new and very cute.  And she was so delighted.

Meanwhile,  the morning show on channel 5 had a lady that was known for feeding her family on one hundred dollars a month.  She has a garden.  I don't know what they eat, but I think that is remarkable.  Most things you can get for under a hundred  dollars a month my family wouldn't eat!

She had been given 1500 dollars from GLAD wrap to show how much food we waste in America.  I thought it ironic that I had just posted about that the same morning.  She proceeded to go to every yuppie, designer store and buy 150.00 worth at each one.  I'm not quite seeing the correlation.  You might not be wasting food, but you are sure wasting money.   I know for a fact, one of those stores that shall remain nameless, has a 42 percent markup.  The more specialty foods a store keeps in stock, the more money you are going to spend for food.  They have to keep fresh stock.  It's only common sense.  I worked retail enough to know that shelf space has to turn or you don't make a profit. That is why Costco can sell some things so cheap.  You would never have to worry about a stale date there.  LOL.

You are not going to shop at designer stores and feed your family on a hundred dollars a month.  It is not possible.  I have read a lot of articles lately about food shopping.  I try to keep well informed.  There are two ends of the spectrum.  I have read people that feed their children .29 chicken parts, hot dogs, and dollar cheese pizzas, fried oatmeal called chicken fried steak!  Yum!   And I have read
about people that buy no MSG, GMO, gluten free, salt free, sugar free, processed free foods.

Groceries on the cheap Tries  to reach  a happy medium between the two.

According to what I just read, anything that comes on a box, bag, or can is a processed food.  In this day and age it  would be pretty hard to achieve a no processed food status.  Maybe if you lived on a farm in some parts of the country.  We are too global and too urban.  As the population rises it would be harder and harder.  Oh, reality strikes.

If you didn't eat  anything that someone has decided wasn't good for you, you would not die  from a touted list of ailments, you would die from malnutrition.  I read on a science fiction story years ago that we would eventually get to the point where dinner would be a handful of pills.  LOL

The bottom line is this :

  • Whether you eat a steak or hamburger, it all looks the same when you are through with it.  
  • We all need a balance of protein, carbs, and vegetables for our body to run properly.  We also need a certain amount of salt, sugar, and fat.  Moderation is the key.  
  • We eat first with our eyes.  As long as the food is tasty, looks good, and is nutritious it's fine.  I am amazed at the variety of foods you see if you look at traditional ethnic foods.  Yet, many nationalities of people have survived.  
  • Through the years, what foods are good for you have evolved.  What was good ten years ago, isn't good for you now.  And ten years from now,the list will be different.  My take is to just eat!  Eat a variety of foods, eat in moderation, and do what you can to limit your intake of salt, sugar and fat.  We all know that we need some of those things to survive and make food taste good to us,  we also know that too much is not good for our bodies,  the entire scientific community has endorsed that idea for years now. 
  • SNAP funds are being cut.  Many people are still reaping the consequences of the drought and the last recession.  Unemployment and under employment is a fact of life for many.  Eating is a basic necessity.  But, designer food from designer, yuppie stores is not.  I have target prices for all the foods that I use often.  I went to one of those designer stores.  I walked out with a BOX of strawberries, that was a little over my target price, but looked beautiful, and a basil plant.  
  • You can feed your family on the USDA thrifty stats or below them if you use coupons wisely, buy good food and not junk food, and buy your food from the down home regular people chain stores shopping wisely.  Down home regular food  stores is characterized by ALBERTSONS, QFC, Fred Meyer, SAFEWAYS, TOP Foods  in the Seattle area.  I'm sire there are other chains in other parts of the country.  
  • You can't eat on a low five digit income or less buying specialty foods at specialty stores.  It just doesn't work.  It doesn't pass the BLT.  

That's about all . 

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Terrific Tuesday, no waste edition

I read an article yesterday about a study that says we throw too much because of misreading stale dates on food.  Many times the date is just to tell grocers how long it has been  in the store, not necessarily when the product is not good to eat.  Cold cereal is good for three months if you close the inside wrapper after you use it.  Deli meat will last two weeks unopened even if it's after the pull date.putting the bread on the fridge will extend it's life two weeks.  Eggs will last 3-5 weeks in the fridge.  Red apples will last 3 weeks if in a ventilated plastic bag in the fridge.

One of the ways to cut food costs is to use up perishables and keep track if your fridge.  About Wednesday, I try to check the fridge an use up anything we need to use.  It might be a good day to make soup.  Stirfry , or oven roast  root veggies works too.  Just grease or line a sheet pan with foil rough cut veggies about the same thickness, toss them with olive oil and salt and pepper them.  Any herbs you want to add is fine too.

There are web sites where you can plug on what you have and you can see recipes that use that ingredient.  Make best use of perishables..  Milk getting close to the pull date?  Make a milk based soup or bread pudding , or chocolate pudding.  Bread crusts go in the oven to dry before they turn to mold. Leftover heels of baguettes can be dried and grated for crumbs.

Bread crumbs can be used in a topping for casseroles.  I use breadcrumbs, grated parm or other hard cheese, and herbs.  Also you can bread chicken or veggies or use breadcrumbs in meatloaf, meatballs, or Salisbury steak.

I make meatballs when I batch cook hamburger.  I use a portion scoop  to make them about the size of a walnut.  I put them on a baking rack on top of a sheet pan and bake them at 375 until they are no longer pink.  This way the fat drains into the sheet pan and they brown on all sides without having to turn them.

Using portion scoops assures you that they are all some at the same time.  It works good for cookies as well.  Ditto cupcakes.

I only use olive oil for everything but baking.  Olive oil boosts your good cholesterol.  I keep salad oil for baking when I need it. If I am making white sauce, I start with 1/2 butter, 1/2 olive oil.  It keeps the butter from browning too soon and cuts the bad fats.  My nutritionist says it is better to have a skim of butter on your toast than to have a slathering of some margarine product.  The key here is moderation.  The denser the butter, or spread product. The worse it is for you.  Ditto lard.
I would not cook with bacon fat either.

You can defat hamburger so that it has less fat than a boneless, skinless chicken breast.  When I make hamburger crumbles or taco meat, I

  • Fry the meat slowly, breaking it up.  
  • When it is browned and no pink remains, drain it in a colander in the sink.  If you don't want fat to go down the drain, put a pie  plate or bowl under it,  
  • Pour boiling water over the colander ( after you remove the grease pan. ) 
  • Return the meat to the pan and bring up to temp.  
  • Pull the meat you want for crumbles and portion control it into freezer bags.  I usually use 1/2 to 1 cup portions.  ( 1/2 cup for pizza, 1 cup for things like spaghetti sauce etc. 
  • Add water and taco seasoning to the  rest of the crumbles and simmer long enough to season the meat.  Drain and bag in meal sized portions.  I use a cup for four people.  Remember tacos also have cheese and beans in them.  We also usually have rice with salsa in it on those nights.  Some of the family are semi vegetarian.  
That's all, I'm out of time.  

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Basics, revisited

I had 150 hits yesterday.  Yay!  

With new readers, I think a synopsis is in order.   Groceries on the cheap was started because I was hearing of people that wanted to know how to stretch their food dollar.  They were on snap and they were running out of money before they ran out of month.  I had been a single parent on the 70s and with double digit inflation and a recession, had gone through challenging times.  Almost 1/ 2 my months pay went for day care, and the  other 1/2 went for rent.  There was little left.   I remember one month spending 25.00 on food.  I learned a lot from  my mom.  Then, I began reading everything I could to learn to stretch a buck.  I tried a lot of things and streamlined a lot of ideas to tailor them to our needs.   I came up with a plan that was not too time consuming, but cut our food bill in half and still gave us decent meals.

Like about anything in life, it begins with planning.   Add smart shopping and cooking from scratch and you have a concept for success.  There are a lot of people that feed their families for less.  I usually take a middle of the road approach to everything.  I'm a libra, as if you couldn't tell!   I don't want to make my while life cooking.  I have a lot more to do even though I am retired.  I have grandchildren, a business, a blog, and belong to a women's group .  I'm old.  By the time dinner time comes around , I want fast and easy.  I don't want ready made or dinner in a box.  They are expensive and full of preservatives.

My solution is batch cooking.  When your meat is already cooked, dinner prep is 1/2 way done
When you pair that with the concept of buying the " loss leader" of meat for the week it's a real
winner.  Every week, the stores put one meat on a really low price.  Often they rotate the meats.  We used to call them loss leaders.  I was corrected by a reader that had worked in the industry.  Apparently in some states stores can't sell things at a loss.   Never the less, stores have really good
sales on meat in a rotating basis.  I can almost bet that one week of the month I can find chicken at a dollar or less a pound.  Last month I found it for .50.  I bought two.  If you purchase enough of the loss leader in.bulk to feed your family once or twice a week for a month.  Cook and freeze it.  Rotate the meats .  In four weeks, you eat a variety of meals and the meat is cooked ready to go and you have paid the RBP ( rock bottom price) and portion controlled your meats.  I use chicken, pork loin, sausage( Costco) good hamburger.  I used to buy  a sirloin beef roast, but now the cost is prohibitive.  I try to average two dollars a pound for meat.  Averaged in with two vegetarian meals a week and a fish, I can average five dollars a dinner--total, not a plate!

We are lucky to have 4 chain stores within a couple of miles from the house.  Two of them are paired with dollar trees.  Of course there are also at least two princess stores too.  Sadly, on a thrifty or snap budget, they are off limits.  I hear they have good buys-- good buys on designer, specialty foods that are out of reach for a person on a three hundred dollar a month budget.  I try to buy and eat low fat, salt, and sugar.  That's about it for my budget.  Those are  the things that have been proven to be bad for your health that are also doable on a shrinking food budget.

Snap is being cut yet again.  The drought is making prices rise, and now we hear of more drought so there doesn't seem to be an end. It's a bad combination.  ( I would really like to see the legislators that feel the need to give mass bucks to foreign aid and cut SNAP live for a week on snap allotment.  ). We just have to cope.  I was always going to write a book when I was a single parent, " cope is a four letter word spelled HELL". LOL

Fortunately, there are tools to deal with high food prices.  Groceries on the cheap is all about using those tools. Some people not concerned with prices read this blog for the time saving tips that go along with cooking on the cheap.  I spend more time shopping, and less time cooking to create a balance.  If cooking is your passion and you enjoy spending all day cooking dinner, go for it.  That just isn't my forte.   LOL

Cooking from scratch doesn't have to take all day.  I love the concept of passive cooking.  The crockpot can be your best friend as well as a food processor.  Often times you can find them on sale or at estate sales cheap.  They are real time savers as well as money savers.

Things NEVER to buy

  • Deli roasted chicken ( not enough ratio of meat to bone, usually four times the price of DIY, and you don't know where it came from.  ) you are paying dearly to save ten minutes of work.  
  • Bread crumbs. Why pay exorbitant prices for someone else's dry bread. Stick it on the oven to dry, whirl  it in the food processor  and store it in an air tight container. When I didn't have a food processor, I grated it on the biggest side of the box grater outside onto a sheet pan.  The 
  • birds got the mess !  
  • Pre-made anything.  You are paying dearly in most cases for someone else's labor.  Do the math.  My daughter and I made lemon pound cake.  We did the math, we figure we made 212.00 an hour making it vs buying it by the slice at the big bucks coffee shop.  That being said, there are a few things that are either too time consuming to make, or are cheaper than scratch especially with a coupon.  
  • Spice mixes or pre-made  extras that go with your meat.  Often they cost more than the meat!  That doubles the cost of your meal and most of the time there is a recipe on the Internet for scratch that takes little time.  There are recipes for mixes on earlier blog posts. Taco seasoning is especially expensive. 

That's a bunch in a nutshell.  

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Walgreens, Rite aid, Fred Meyers

I went to the Sunday ad stores thos afternoon.  I had three dollars to spend at Walgreens.  It was not easy and I doesn't buy anything to roll my rewards over so to speak.  turkey bacon was 6 oz for 1.29, as was eggs.  Light bulbs were still 4/1.00.  The logs were marked down 25 percent.  Since we live where there are big wind storms in the winter that can leave us without heat, I like to keep a few logs for emergency.   I spent .60 plus the price of the logs.,

At Rite  aid, I got a toothpaste for FREE and a package of candy and two pair of valentine sox regularly 4.00 each for a buck each and the sox barely shout valentines day.

Total OOP 3.49.

Fred Meyer netted blackberries,grapes, bread, 1 pkg French fries, blue cheese for three dollars and apples.   About it.

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No matter where you are, if you are near a reasonably habitated  town, you will find stores that you can work.  Walgreens and CVS have similar programs to rite aid.  They have different terminology and different coupon rules, but they can be just as effective.  There are coupon matching sites that cover all over the US.  I can almost always find toothpaste for free or nearly free.  Also soap and deodorant.  Check your dollar store. You have to be mindful of the size of packages with the verbiage on the coupon, but you can make it work.  Our dollar tree only allows two coupons per family, per day.

Every grocery store chain is different.  I can only talk about the ones I see in the pacific NW.  But, the general ideas of groceries on the cheap will work anywhere.  Prices are relative.  SNAP prices are based on COL as well as the USDA stats for your size family and ages of the members.   So you may not pay fifty cents for an item, but you can still find the RBP.

Yesterday, we had meatloaf, baked potatoes,  and mixed veggies.  The meat for the meatloaf was 2.99 for 9 percent hamburger, the potatoes I had on hand, and the veggies I got for a buck a pound in the frozen food section.  Our Fred Meyers and QFC is Kroger.  SAFEWAYS is all over the US. And Albertsons is based out of Utah. I think.  TOP is definitely a Washington grocery store.

Your coupon march up site will enable you to see the best buys for the week.  When I started this blog, I had no idea that it would reach well beyond the northwest, let alone the US boundaries.
The principles are good, no matter where you live.  I do realize that there are some places that have a limited number of grocery stores.  I think that that might necessitate carpooling and hitting a large chain store once every two weeks or a month to stock the specials.  Often you can get the ads on line or have the store mail them to you.  We were made well aware of that when we went to the beach off season for our anniversary last year.  The motel was really cheap on a groupon.  Now we know why. There was no food there!  We found one grocery store. An independent with a very limited amount of food, and the "fresh food" left a whole lot to be desired.  Without cooking facilities except a microwave, we were pretty sparse.  We found one eating establishment    .  Fish and chips, two of us, I had tea and my husband had 1 beer.   40.00.  It was twenty some miles to the next town.  I googled subway and found one in a gas station four miles from the motel.  My husband got us dinner both nights.  I had brought a little food from home. We survived, but had I known, I would have brought more premade food in a cooler or stopped at a larger town and stocked our cooler.

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Four hits, really?

I started this blog to help people, from the looks of my stats, I have failed miserably at reaching people.  I am wondering if this is worth my while.  

The ads, Fred Meyers goes from Sunday to Saturday. 

Broccoli and cauli. .98
Pot roast 2.97
Milk 4/5@
Bread 3/4@@
Mayo 2/5@@
Grapes 2.48
Celery .48
Berries 2/5
Apples .98
Fred Meyer coffee 5.99
Frozen potatoes 3/5 ( get two pound bags)
OCR cream 2/5
Vegetables 20/6

Milk 1.99
Eggs 1.29

Rite aid
Colgate toothpaste 3.50.  Coupon .50, 3.00 up bal FREE

That's about it. 

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Yesterday's shopping trip

I know it might seem quaint for me to talk about yesterday's shopping trip.  I'm not relying to tout my adventures, I'm trying to show how what seems like an extravagant trip can be saving money in the long run.  There have been many weeks lately when the good buys are none existent.  I think because we have had Christmas, New Years, and a Super Bowl that would tend to make the retailers push the party booze and food. The first three weeks of the month I spent less than budget.  I still managd to find stocking items at alternative stores.  We seem to be well stocked.

The difference between buying only the food you will use up on the week you are purchasing it and stock buying is that you don't necessarily spend the same every week.  I have a good idea of my budget.  I break out how much I spend for each meal and know the rock bottom price of most of the limited foods we buy.  Some weeks I have spent thirty dollars.  This week I spent 106.00.  SAFEWAYS had two of my RBP stocking meats.  I addition, ALBERTSOMS had a quarter sale and QFC had a buy 6, get three sale.  All in all I did good price wise.  The average for the month was 71. And change a week-- still under budget and I have a large at capacity stock.  USDA stats Re for food EATEN at home.  Stock doesn't count unless you eat it.

I bought :

  • Five pounds of 93 percent hamburger
  • An almost five pound chicken 
  • A bag of ham cubes
  • Two packages of lunch meat
  • Five packages of cheese slices
  • 2 Freshetta pizzas with a 1.50 coupon 
  • Lettuce
  • Frozen veggies for a buck a pound .(2) 
  • 7 up for .25 for two liters. 
  • Two cartons ice cream, one blue bunny that is ten carbs a serving 
  • Five cans of Campbell's soup
  • Five cans of enchalada sauce ( cheaper than scratch) 
  • Three cans of chopped black olives. 
  • Four boxes of 175 count tissue at .75
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • A pound of shelled peanuts
  • A pkg of pasta shells ( just enough to replace what we ate last week at .75)
  • Milk
  • Cake 
I spent less on canned goods because I cleaned out the pantry last week and know exactly what items we needed to stock.  I have two monthly allotments of my stock meats and pizza and a Dagwood sandwich to fill in .  If you just buy the sales and stock up on your target things you normally buy when they are at RBP, you are going to spend less and always have something to make a meal of on the pantry and or freezer.  They are whispering that S word here.  Some  parts of the country are geared for snow and are flat.  My husband is from the mid west.  We have lots of hills here and are not so prepare because snow happens rarely.  Some years we have almost no snow at all.  Rain,on the other hand......   It pays to have a stocked pantry-- both for saving money and being prepared in an emergency .

This trip leaves maybe one more pork stock item to finish a months worth of meats.  Rotating makes
for variety.

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Freaky Friday

Friday already.  We were spared really  bad weather this week.  I don't need a whole lot of stock up. But ALBERTSONS is a good place for canned goods this  week. And SAFEWAYS has three good sources of protein with target prices.  I see a meatloaf on our future.  Since it takes ten minutes to spit a chicken in the oven, I can wash up and batch cook hamburger.  Good hamburger does take putting something on it to keep it moist to compensate for the no fat.  Better a veggie than the fat.  

I can get about ten meals from twenty dollars worth of meat.  That takes us threw almost two weeks when you add two days a week vegetarian.  It does take cooking from scratch.  Batch cooking is easy,takes a couple of hours and saves much more time  at dinner time.  Having the discipline    to prep meals and plan makes mealtime easier and scares the take out demons away.  If you get take out or go out for dinner, it's because it is an educated decision, not one made under stress.

Most of our cooking is scratch.  We are not extreme at anything. That might be shooting yourself on the foot.  There are two sides to every thing and moderation is the key.  There are some things on sale for the right price that are cheaper  than scratch.   I would rather be playing with my grandbaby than slaving over a hot stove and paying more for something than I have to.  Case on point, enchalada sauce at ALBERTSONS this week.  .75.  By the time I pay for the salad oil and chili powder, I'm not paying much for someone else to make it.  I am not going to buy ready made when it costs more than scratch, or when the quality suffers.  Case in point, chicken pot pie.  Homemade chicken pot pie is cheaper and better.  We don't eat enough potatoes to use them all up before they go bad.  I am better off buying frozen on sale and instant mashed and a few potatoes when I know we are going to eat meals with real potatoes.  I make an effort to use them when I have them.  We like the instant mashed potatoes with flavor ones.  I get them when they are less than a buck.

OK.  Ten meals on sale prices at SAFEWAYS.
1- 4-1/2 to 5 pound chicken at a dollar a pound.
5 pounds good hamburger at 2.99
Total cost 20.00

  1. Roast chicken dinner: mashed potatoes, veggie, salad ( spinach) 
  2. Buffalo chicken pizza
  3. Chicken pot pie
  4. BBQ chicken legs and thighs 
  5. Chicken soup
  6. Meatloaf( dinner and lunches) 
  7. Tacos x2
  8. Tacos 
  9. Spaghetti and meatballs 
  10. Sloppy joes 
Now, the plan is not to eat all the meat in a two week period, that wouldn't make for much variety.  But, if you buy four things to batch cook in a month, you can have variety and eat cheap.  To use my matrix, you would still need to make pork ( 3 days) , beef( 3 days) along with 4 days of fish and 8 days vegetarian.  

To stay in a budget, especially on snap where you have to be diligent, break down costs for a food group.  It is easier not to overspend if you know you are trying for 2-3 dollars a day for protein ( average) and five dollars a dinner.  That leaves you fove for breakfast and lunch.m many times lunch for children if you are on SNAP  is free at school.  

I am getting a lot of coupons lately on the Internet. Mi only download what I would buy anyway, unless is it something new for free.  That doesn't happen often.  Recipe starters for free comes to mind. I  can substitute them for white sauce or tomato sauce and for FREE , it works.  No way would I pay 2.79 for that can of sauce.  There are other sauces and flavored butters on the market.  They are just plain expensive.  You are paying a exhorbitant amount of money for someone else to outmanned spices into some butter or white  or tomato sauce.  Spices are .88 some places on sale, a buck at most.  
Ditto taco seasoning.  If you have old enough children or grandchildren, it is a good way for them to learn fractions.  Helping is a good lesson and self esteem builder. 

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Terrific Thursday: the ads

I did get the ads yesterday. I haven't looked at them yet, so you're getting them at the same time as I am.


TOP  is featuring breakfast.  Breakfast for dinner is a way to stretch your dollar and shake things up a bit.

Haggen large eggs 2/5.00
Haggen med, cheese 5.00
Blues 18 oz 5.00
Blackberries 2.00
Tomatoes 1.29

Haggen tuna .69@@
Nalleys chili1.00


Oranges ,68
Apples .99
Blackberries, raspberries 2/5
Tillamook yogurt 10/4

Buy 6,save 3
Sargento sliced cheese ( buy 8 ounce bags)
Oscar mayer lunch meat 2.99$$
Best foods mayo 3.29
Sour cream 1.49
BREYERS ice cream 2.49
Cheerios 1.99
All prices  are net


Chicken, whole .99
Boneless pork loin 2.99
Whole pork shoulder .99
Grapes 2.99
Milk 2.79
Barilla pasta .99$$

Lipton tea 2.99@


ALBERTSONS eggs 4/5@@

Quarters sale
Water chestnuts .50
Refried beans .75
Enchalada sauce .75
Pasta .75
Facial tissue, 175 count .75
Tomato or chicken noodle soup 1.00$$
Nalley chili 1.00
Bumble bee tuna 1.00
Cucumbers -79

SAFEWAYS also had a large coupon flyer with their ads.  New things.   All I see is finish dishwasher detergent.mthey, however,they don't tell you the price, so wether or not there are any bargains is a good question.  Again, this is a case where  you have to know your prices.  If you can't remember,carry a little notebook ( the dollar store has them ) to keep track.

Note: @ means there is an in ad coupon.  $$ means there is a coupon matchup.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wicked Wednesday

Wednesday,the start of our week.  The laundry is done and we cleaned out two cupboards yesterday.
I tried a couple of new cards, not terrible excited, but think they will work if I use different materials.
I have a few more sketches in my mind I need to get out.  LOL

The ads are not here because of the holiday.  This is the day I usually study the ads.  It's also clean out the fridge and do something with the leftovers.  I think we shall have oven roasted veggies and chicken.  We have zucchini and some radishes.  Radishes take on a whole different taste and texture when oven roasted YUM!    I love recipes that Are passiv cooking,  nth roentgen in a crockpot or the oven and pretty much walk away,  chicken on a buck at Fred Meyers until Saturday, NW grown,

Last night we went to a casino for happy hour.  We didn't gamble. But the food os really good for reasonable money.  I had Asian nachos.  They were really good, low carb and filling.  I also ordered a Cesar salad because my husband ordered BBQ pork. I didn't realize that it already came woth a salad. We sound up bringing the Cesar salad home to my daughter.  I guess the lesson is to ask what things are included with the dish.

I am trying to look at the coupon connections site to find the bargains. It's an arduous task,so I will probably hope we get the today.  That being said, SAFEWAYS doesn't have a lot of bargains in the produce department, but pork shoulder roast is a buck, as well as whole chicken.  And 97 percent hamburger is 2.99.   It's more than a good week to batch cook your freezer. I can't emphasize enough how liberating it is to have the meat already cooked and ready when you are making a dinner and time is crunching  your style

 Barilla pasta is .99.  There are coupons out there.m the last time the only matchups I could find were for  the white fiber kind.  Lipton tea in a box is 2.99.  7 up is .88, there is a .75 coupon out there, making it .13 for a two liter bottle.

The Only other chain was ALBERTSONS where I found tomato or chicken noodle soup for a buck. There are coupons out there,  I used mine with Walgreens coupon for .75.

More comprehensive ads I guess tomorrow, I am at the mercy of the mail person.

That's about all.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Terrific Tuesday

It's Tuesday.  I read something this morning that was very disturbing to me.  Some lady was saying that if someone used texting verbiage or had misspellings or missed auto checks  in their text, she wouldn't read theor work.  Are people that shallow that they expect everyone to be perfect.  I write with two fingers on a reader.  Sometimes I can't see what I am writing , sometimes I have a two year old " helping me". I don't think because the auto spell check doesn't see an on instead of an in, that makes what I am saying invalid.  The other thing I read was that processed foods were linked to auto immune disease. Also, microwaves.  That would sure explain why my husbands grandmother who lived on a farm with no microwave or processed food  had auto immune disease.  There are generations of families that have auto immune diseases.  I think that tells me that you can't believe all you read on the Internet.   Does it pass the BLT?

I still try to limit our processed food to one night a week.  That's why I try to stick to a matrix of protein for our meal plans.

2 beef
2 pork or chicken
2 vegetarian
1 fish or shellfish

There are study after study.  I suspect that some are more scientific than others.  If you believed all of them, you wouldn't eat anything.  Then you wouldn't die  from whatever they are touting you will get, you would just die  from malnutrition.  I think the solution is moderation.  I do know that it is a well proven fact and most doctors and nutritionists will tell you to limit your salt, sugar, and fat.  I do try to do that.  It is something very doable even on a very thrifty budget.

If you are on SNAP, it doesn't cover paper products etc.  If you are not on snap, you can save on necessities and supplement your food budget.  I just got 16.00 worth of cosmetics and 16 rolls of bounty paper towels, and a 15 ounce bottle of body wash, and two very large tubes of toothpaste  for 17.75.    I am humored by a lady that said it wasn't worth jumping through hoops and holding your tongue  just right to get a bargain.  To paraphrase  a lady once on the today show,"  if you don't get it , you ain't been broke enough."  LOL. If that same person was asked if they would like 70 percent interest on their money, they would probably jump at the offer.  I get the fact that some people can't think in abstracts.

I digress.

I purchased an old magazine from the goodwill.  Magazines on cooking are still good long after their publish date.  I have cookbooks from the WWII years.

This particular magazine was talking about cooking ahead, and prepping for the next weeks food.  Planning meals,even of you aren't so rigid as to Mondays meal on Monday! helps in cooking on the cheap.  It makes meal prep during the hectic time of the day a lot easier.  It used to be that I was cooking dinner after picking the children  up from daycare and dealing with tired, cranky children and the reality of getting ready for the next day.  Now, I work the late shift two days a week, and sometimes I am just too tired.  Prepping ahead of time is a great tool in the kitchen. You can cook when you're day is less hectic.  Another tool is to clean your fridge and keep all of one thing on a part of the shelf.  Dairy, leftovers, condiments, etc.  I try to keep sweet things on a door shelf, and savory on another.  It's easier to pull what you need because you are looking at less stuff!   Keeping leftovers in one grouping makes it easier to use them for lunches or to incorporate them into another meal.  All the meat and cheese for sandwiches I keep on one drawer.  The cheese goes in one drawer.  The vegetables in another.  It makes meal prep more steamlined.

On another note, Betty Crocker has a lot of really good recipes in her e mail this week.  Chicken enchiladas, bacon, cheese, potato chowder,  my granddaughter eats turkey bacon, it's not bad.
Enchalada sauce is really easy to make. There are a lot of recipes on I tube for it.  Basically, it is white sauce technique using WATER instead of milk, and CHILI POWDER instead of flour.  It's a lot cheaper to make than it's canned counterpart.  I did get it really cheap one time at ALBERTSONS.  I was hunting for it and got a good chuckle.  I asked the manager who happened to be walking down an isle where it was.  He said on isle xx and pointed to it.  oh, I said, you mean right under the oriental foods sign!   He had a chuckle too.   It is interesting though how some basic foods and spices cross the ethnic lines.  Rice and cilantro come to mind.

I guess that's enough random  thoughts.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday Madness

Yesterday, we went to Rite Aid and Walgreens before I got my haircut.  I had ten dollars rite aid up rewards.  Paper towels were BOGO so I bought two and used a .25 coupon and a 15 oz bottle if body wash.  It was free.  Total cost 1.74.  That brings me to zero roll over up rewards.

Walgreens netted soup for 4/ 2.60  using two coupons.and two very large toothpastes for FREE using rewards and two coupons,  Also, we got light bulbs 4/1.00.

Walgreens register rewards are in the form of a Catalina.  Just a heads up, I didn't know that.

All on all, we really scored.  I saved more than enough to pay for my haircut!   It does pay to plan your trips and watch your register receipts. Check them before you leave the store.

While most of that wasn't food, it was all necessity type items.

Yesterday we had Mac and cheese and broccoli. I used a .50 package of pasta, a free can of recipe starter and all the leftover bits of cheese in the cheese drawer.  The broccoli I got for a buck a pound.
Taking advantage of sales and coupons made for a really cheap dinner.

I'm going to a meeting this afternoon, so I will probably put a pot of soup in the slow cooker.  It has been cold, rainy and blustery all weekend.  We still have it a lot better than most of the country.  

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Please share with snap being cut and food prices rising, I would like to reach as many people as I can.  Your friends might not need this,  but get an idea or two to save time on the kitchen.  They may also know someone that does need it.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Coupoms, coupons, coupons,

Good morning.  I always check coupon connections before heading out to shop.  I shopped twice this  weekend because I thought I was going to have more than two coupons for the dollar tree and we did t get there on Friday.  There was only two matchups anyway.  I got sandwich bags for .50 for a extended package of 15.  And I got toothpaste for a quarter.  I am still trying to accumulate a basket for the women's shelter.   I can get two more at Walgreens for free today.campbells soup os .75 and I have .40 coupons .  I can remember when tomato soup was a dime.  Guess I'm getting old.

  I need to use the ten dollars I had from last week at rite aid.  Kellogg's cereal is cheap with ups and coupons.  She says .50, but I can't see her math calculations.  2/4, 1 up and a 1/2 coupon doesn't add up to .50.  I figure a buck, which is still cheap.  TP and paper towels are BOGO.   And soft soap is free with a coupon from the ad and a coupon from the inserts.  

If I can average six dollars a week, I can save 312 dollars a year.  That's a crunch of change on my book.  That's over two weeks salary for both my husband and I most of the time.  Just putting things in perspective.  I don't think that extreme couponing to buy a bunch of things that I will never use is fruitful.  I have seen a lot of postings on Facebook of getting 100 plus dollars of food for a few dollars.  Most of it, I would never buy in the first place.  I can see the stick pens that I know when I fond for a buck will be free.  Our dollar store does not carry bic.  If we don't use them, they are always disappearing from the store. But, most of the other stuff is ready made stuff or cosmetics we just don't use,  very little was honest to God food.  

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Suddenly Saturday,

Yesterday, we went to SAFEWAYS and never made it to the dollar store.  My husband had another stop to make.  I saved 49 percent.  I used coupons, JFU at SAFEWAYS that netted lemons and five dollars off our order.  My husband went for ink for the printer and used a ten dollar off card and got computer paper free Basicly.

I bought just things that were on sale and see coupons whenever possible.  I won't to for coupons where you have to give up your personal information.  It's just not worth it for me.

When you combine coupons with sales and just buy whats on sale you can lower you food costs dramatically.   The staples that are not on sale often, I find the store that typically has the lowest price.  Often, Costco is the cheapest on dairy.  The bread store is cheapest on bread, and in get brown and serve baguettes from Costco wholesale because they are cheaper than busting French bread from the store.  I could make it myself, but we aren't that predictable and when I did a lot went to waste.

Last night we had roast beef a jus sandwiches and green salad.  I had a coupon for salad and found it basically one  plus for free-- .45 each bag.  Tiramisu for desert.  It was valentines day.
I fed the kids chicken and cheese sandwiches because they don't eat pork or beef.

My husband  purchased tomorrows Sunday paper. Did they didn't have any coupons. I have ten dollars in Rite Aid rewards.  . I have been trying to roll over Rite Aid  dollars and see how long I could go. I think that I am at  the end of the rope.
Colgate total advanced or optic white toothpaste is 2/7 with the three dollar up. There should be coupons as well.  That's about it. Getting the paper early gives  me the option not to  rollover but get dollars soup with coupons again plus something else.  Or I can buy TP tomorrow for BOGO.

On to the Sunday ads

Bartells has facial tissue for .79 as well as pasta sauce for .79.
Wallgreens has tomato or chicken noodle soup for .75 and I have coupons.
Colgate max fresh is 2/5.  With 3 rewards makes it 2/2 and there are coupons.
To figure!  


Whole chicken .97
20 percent hamburger 2.59
Beans/ tomatoes 2/1 @@ limit 6
BREYERS ice cream 2/5@@
Fred Meyer yogurt 10/4
Pears .88
Oranges .88

That's about all.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Freaky Friday: home edition, coupons!

Last night my husband discovered that the sink was plugged.  He went downstairs to his workshop to fond a wrench and discovered the pipes were leaking.  Bummer!  Here comes an expensive bill from the plumber!   LOL.

On another note more  suited for this blog.  SAFEWAYS just for you has a coupon for 5 bucks off you 20.00 purchase. There is not a whole lot of things on sale, but I will rework the ad to plan a trip.
They do have BOGO Nathan's hot dogs and lunch meat that I have a coupon for.  My first step will be to check the coupon connections  to see if there are match ups I may have missed.  My plan was not to go shopping this week,map I am going to plan the trip to buy just the twenty dollars worth of things I need .


4 lbs sugar 2.50
Granny Smith apples .99
Pot roast 2.99
HORMEL lunch meat 2.99@@$

DOLLAR TREE ( in the same complex)

Mayo. Free, RP 1/26. This Rp has no mayo coupon, at least mine doesn't .
Wet and wild   SS 2/9 ok, I didn't find that either.
Max fresh Colgate - 1.00 printable

Bar S ham - printable
Back to nature Mac n cheese -
Recipe starter
Wish bone dressing nets .30

NOTE: you can only use TWO  coupons per day at dollar tree.  See couponconnections  for the printable coupons.

I will probably go today for my Safeway trip and then go to dollar tree.  Then, go Tomorrow for the newspaper and get two more things.

Planning your trios saves time and money.  Sometimes you have to use your creative problem solving skills if you run onto a snag, but having a plan helps you get out of the store fast.  Time in the store is money. The more time you spend in the store the more money you are going to spend.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Re posts.

Dissecting a hamburger meal box

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

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

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

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

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

Pizza crust 
1/2 to 3/4 cup of warm water (105 to 115 degrees
1T dry yeast
1tsp sugar
2cups flour
1T veg oil
1/2 tsp salt

Combine 1/4 cup water with the yeast and sugar.
Let stand in a warm place till bubbly --about 5 minutes.
It will look like a root beer with a head on it.

Put flour, oil, and salt in food processor with a steel blade. Process a few seconds, add yeast mixture through the tube with processer running. Add enough water through the tube until dough forms a ball.  Process until the ball makes 25 turns around the bowl. Approx 1 count every 25 seconds. Put dough ball on pizza pan. Let rest for 10 minutes. ( a good time to assemble your ingredients.).
Put tomato sauce and Italian seasoning, garlic and onion powder in a small pot and simmer till warm and somewhat reduced.
When dough has had it's resting time, pat into a circle on pizza pan.
Spread sauce and pizza toppings on the crust. Bake 425 degrees for 15 a 20 minutes
Until the crust is golden and the cheese is melted.


6cups flour
1/2 cup PLUS 1 Tablespoon non fat dry milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, margarine or shortening cut into small bits
Mix together. Store in a cool dark place . Shelf life. Two weeks.


1/2 cup plus 2T chili powder
2/3 cup paprika
1/2 cup plus 1T cumin
1/3 cup onion powder
1/3 cup garlic powder
1 2/3 tsp cayenne pepper
2tsp red pepper flakes

Mix well and store in an airtight container. Use 2 tablespoons per pound of ground meat.

You still have to add the hamburger. And milk.

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

My Cheeseburger Macaroni

Cook 1/2 lb macaroni until done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serves six.

No Brainer Pasta.

Grease or spray with PAM a 9X13 pan.
Pour a 1 lb package of DRY pasta in the pan.
Open a 28 ounce can of pasta sauce and mix  it with a whole can of water.
Stir.  And pour over pasta.
Cover with foil and bake at 425 for 45 minutes  or until pasta is tender.
Reduce heat to 400, uncover and add grated cheese and any leftover meat you have.
Return to oven and bake an additional 15 minutes one until cheese is melted.

You can use any flavor of pasta sauce and tailor the pasta shape with the cheese and meat.
Like wagon wheel pasta with hamburger crumbles and cheddar cheese.  ( cheeseburger) .
Pasta sauce comes with chunky veggies too, or sausage , three cheese, etc.

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Terrific Thursday.

It's Thursday.   Maybe it's  time to talk about what to do with what you got.  One way to stretch your food dollar is to check your fridge often and incorporate what's in there into your meals.  If you are stumped there are web sites that match what you have with recipe ideas.  Betty Crocker is one. But there are more.

Today I have zucchini, carrots, brocolli, cottage cheese, eggs , salsa .

I could make:

  • A quiche with broccoli, chicken and cheese.  
  • A chicken stir fry with carrot, broccoli, red peppers from the freezer . 
  • Baked zucchini chips
  • Stuffed shells with red sauce.  ( using the cottage cheese ) 
  • Chocolate waffles and yogurt parfaits.  
  • Sausage and vegetable bean soup
  • Pepperoni pizza
  • Buffalo chicken pizza
I  always have a rotation of meats.  Chicken, sausage, pork loin, hamburger in the form of crumbles, meatballs, and taco meat.  I will add sliced beef roast for a jus sandwiches when the price goes down to a realistic price.  

Using up what you have is a good way to cut your food costs.  Soup is also a good way to use up bits and pieces.  Sometimes I freeze something before it goes bad, that how I have chopped red peppers in my freezer. I use the door to store the little things so they don't get buried .  

I introduced the concept of almost free pizza.  My co worker didn't hear the word almost... She wanted to know who had free pizza!  LOL.  When you are cooking meals, of you chop a little more of anything at goes on a pizza and put it in a carton in your freezer door, onions, red or green pepper, ( a good way to use the tops of the pepper if you only want the strips) , bits of leftover chicken,  -- anything that you can put on a pizza.  When it comes to pizza night make pizza crust ( recipe on a previous blog) and bake a pizza.  

On a previous blog I have a recipe I made up for no Brainer pasta. ( my nephew named that one ) it's my answer to the meal in a box.  My daughter and I dissected that one, also on a prior blog.  The recipe is super easy,almost no non- passive time.  It makes a ton of dish for very little money.
I will try to link or repost the previous blogs.  

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wicked Wednesday - the afs

The ads actually arrived on time. Such as they are.  I haven't decided if proces have gone up again, or this is a holiday week and they haven't room for sales.

Ice cream 1.99@@
Skippy peanut butter 1.99@@
Blues 18 oz 8.99


Apples .99
Strawberries 2/6
Skippy peanut butter 1.99@@

Nathan's BOGO
HORMEL lunch meat 2.99@@$$

 Five dollar Friday
Blues 6 ox 2/5

Tillamook ice cream 2.99@@
Butter 3.49**.  Note it is 2.00 at Costco.

Oranges .99
Chicken .99
Butter 1.99
Blurs 18 4.99
Top round 3.25 BOGO net
Ice cream 2/5

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Terriffic Tuesday

As I have said before, the retailers have spent considerable money to research our habits and find ways to get us to spend more money.

Advertising multiples, when you can only by one item is one trick they use. Because something is 3/1.00 doesn't mean that you have to buy three.

The longer you spend in a store, the more money you will spend. That's why some retailers change things around frequently. Costco is notorious for it. If you have the mind set that you are on the clock and want to get the most bang for your buck, you'll spend less time. It's a game. I want to save as much as I can in the least amount of time.

Impulse buying is the retailers profit. They figure that 70 percent of what we buy is impulse. Often it is the most expensive things in the store that. you don't really need. We want the retailers to prosper but they can do it on someone else's dime who can afford it more.

Create your own path through the store, if you don't need anything in an isle, don't go there. The true necessities are on the outside perimeter of the store.

Sometimes, what is truly on sale isn't the featured items up front.

Exercise the hands off rule. Studies say that if you touch it, you are most likely going to buy it.

It's a well known trick that if prices have to increase, the manufacturers will reduce the size of the package instead of outwardly increasing the price.

Know your prices, the bulk isle isn t always the cheapest price. I can't emphasize enough to know your prices. It's you best tool for groceries on the cheap.  A sale isn't always really a sale. 

Keep in mind that foods are sold other places other than grocery stores. Many time you can find overstocks at the dollar store, big lots, Bartells and almost anywhere. Keep your eye open, and know your prices.

Pick your grocery store based on the prices, not how friendly the clerks are or how fancy the store is, or how uncrowded it is. think about it, there is a reason why the store is crowded. Either they have just forecasted that dreaded S word, or it's because they have the best prices. You go to the grocery store to purchase your food.

Stores charge manufacturers slotting fees. Basically they charge rent for the eye level shelves. You can just bet they are going to pass on the cost. Look UP and DOWN for the best buys.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Madness

I have already posted my rite aid saga for the week.  I had a little surprise when I went to the register. I painstakingly bought makeup so as to just spend as close as I could to the fifteen dollars worth to get a ten dollar reward.  It seems they discounted ot without posting that there was a discount.  I was some .96 short and had to go back to the drawing board.  Because I hadn't bought any makeup for a couple of years, it didn't bother me too much, but it was a lesson learned.  I am still a lot of money ahead.  Basicly, I bought 17 cans of chili, and got 2 expensive light bulbs, a package of stay free, seven cans of soup, and makeup for 19.00--  less than the 17 cans of chili would have cost of I went to the store and bought  them full price.  It's a game that takes some effort, true and of you don't like shopping and are lazy, it won't work for you.  But, I only buy what I can use and would buy or need anyway.  The light bulbs are energy saver, I like them, need them, but seven dollars for a bulb is a bit pricy for me.  FREE is a good word when it's something that you need.

Fred Meyers netted us milk, ice cream! And a cake mix.  The diced tomatoes were .50.  If I didn't have my stock of them, I would have bought ten.

I cleaned out the pantry and rotated stock and rearranged to put everything in its own space.  I threw out only a few cans that were hiding under the shelves.  I made it a point to only out the tall pasta sauce under there so we would look under there and it wouldn't be out of sight, out of mind.  While throwing food out is upsetting, I saved so much more money than I would have of I bought just what I needed at full price, it more than compensates.

Cleaning the pantry and putting things on their on space on the shelves gives you a good idea of what stock you have a shortage of.  We, Basicly need black olives and I was short cream of mushroom soup. If  I hadn't got a sale on them, I would have used recipe starter.  We can always do without black olives.  Now I know I can coast with the meat that's on mega sale and the perishables.  I got a large carton of cottage cheese and sour cream at Costco, so I am good for the month.  Butter was bought on bulk, it was two dollars a carton, Winco had for over three dollars.  Costco is good for dairy and bananas. They have such volume, you rarely get stale dated.

  • Identify the stock items you use  on a regular basis.  
  • Buy enough of them to last until they go on sale again.  If you use the item once a week, you need 12-24.  If you use it once a month, you need 3-6.  I keep one ahead of things like catsup, mustard, and mayo.  I usually have a can of sauerkraut.  When I use my backup, I start looking for a sale.  The dollar store is good for mustard and catsup.  
  • Arrange them on shelves in a manner so you can tell at a glance what you are running short of. 
  • Stocking won't happen overnight.  It will take time.  Whenever your stock items are on sale, buy a few extra as your budget will allow.  If you don't have money for them, look realistically at your shopping cart.  Remember junk food is not good for you or your budget.  Oatmeal is much cheaper than four boxes of cold cereal.  Most 
  • Most  cold cereal has no protein and does not stay with you or fill that hallow leg a growing child might have.  Boxed meals often have little food value.  My daughter and I analyzed a hamburger meal box.  The results are remarkable. ( see earlier post) 
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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Update Rite Aid saga

I thought for fun I would keep track of my Rite aid buys.  Last year I kept my Rote Aid up rewards aka Rite - aid bucks  going for several months.

This year I

Bought 17 cans of HORMEL chili and used 4-.55 coupons for a net of 14.80 and got 5 Rite Aid bucks.

Took the five rite aid bucks and added three bucks and got
2 energy saver light bulbs and a 24 pack of stay free pads and got
8 right aid bucks.

Took the eight rite aid bucks and bought 7 cans of Campbell's soup with coupons , and 16.00 worth of makeup for a total of 22.20 less eight rite aid dollars is 14.20 and got 10  Rite Aid bucks.

Nets total outlay of 19.00 net.

17 cans of chili at 1.59
2 energy light bulbs at 7.00 each
1 pkg stay free maxis 4.00
7 cans Campbell's soup at 1.29 less .80 coupon 
1 lipstick and eyeliner at 16.00 total.

I took ten rite aid dollars and ........
Bought 2-8 packs of bounty paper towels.  12.00 each.  BOGO.  Net 1.7 using a .25 coupon


Fred Meyers and rite aid ads

Fred Meyers
Strawberries 2/5
Butter 2/4
Cake 10/10
Milk -1/2 gal 4/5@@
Counter bread 3/4@@
Ice cream 2/5
Hebrew national 2/6
Tangerine  98

Rite aid

Ice cream BOGO
Physicians formula makeup buy 15.00, get 10.00 up reward
Campbell's soup 1.00
Finish dw detergent. Buy 1, get 2nd one 1/2

That's about all

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Basics: Four plus One is Five

Four people. One meal, Five bucks.

If you are on snap and get 300.00 a month,you have Basically ten dollars a day for three meals.
Dinner has to be an average of five dollars.  I just heard that they were cutting snap again. bad timing when we are still seeing the effects of the drought.  It just makes it more important to watch your food dollar.

There are still ways to put a good meal on the table for five bucks.  ( I am talking about the proverbial family of two adults and two school aged children.  Snap figures vary with ages of children and sizes of families, and location of residence.  ).

I'm not going to tell you that some little fairy is going to make food magically appear in your cupboard and the meal will just appear on the table. It takes work.  I spend more time shopping and have streamlined meal prep at dinner time.   I have energy during the day, by mealtime I am tired especially if I have run after a two yo or worked on my feet.  You can cut more food costs if you are a bread baker.  I get bread from Costco or the bakery outlet.  Making sour dough at home would be a lot cheaper.  I baked bread until we weren't using it up fast enough and I was wasting my time.  Your family may be different.

I digress,,   Meals for five bucks.  Remember that is average.  If you have a shrimp stir fry, you need to have eggs or something a lot cheaper another night  to average  the cost.  I try for two dollars a pound for meat.  A quarter pound serving looks like a lot more if you make something that uses  bite sized portions. Sloppy joes go further than hamburgers.  Chicken pot pie goes further than sliced chicken.

  • Spaghetti with meat balls
  • Sloppy joes
  • Shepherds pie
  • Tacos
  • Burritos
  • Cheeseburger macaroni (scratch) 
  • Meat ball, subs, with a gravy over mashed potatoes, rice or noodles. 
  • Sausage quiche, or ham quiche 
  • Pizza with just about anything 
  • Pork loin roast
  • Pork chops 
  • Soups, split pea with ham*
  • Chicken vegetable  soup
  • Chicken and noodles
  • Chicken pot pie
  • Roast chicken 
  • BBQ chicken thighs and legs
  • Buffalo chicken pizza
  • Vegetable bean soup with or without sausage
  • Sausage ( dinner) with peppers and potatoes and onions.  
  • Chicken stir fry
  • Sweet and sour chicken 
  • Potato soup
  • Clam chowder
  • Shrimp stir fry on rice
  • Tuna casserole  
  • Tomato , basil, blue cheese soup
  • BBQ beef or pork sandwiches
  • Chicken or pork fried rice, egg rolls 
  • Mac and cheese( scratch) 
  • Chopped salad ( chefs salad ) 
  • Meatloaf
  • Nachos
  • Taco tot casseroles
I'm sure there are more, but that's off the top of my head.  

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Winco Trip

We went to Winco yesterday.  There wasn't really any buys at the chain stores this week.  We had time, so we went to Winco.  We stopped at Costco Business on the way back.

This was a case where, again, you have to know your prices. Some things were really good prices, some not.  I am constantly checking the things I buy to keep track of what's cheap where.

  • The Kraft BBQ sauce I paid .79 for last week was 1.29. 
  •  Pasta sauce was .98, I pay .79
  •  The small cans of tomato sauce were .28
  •  Green beans were .58
  •  Frozen mixed veggies were below my target price as well as corn.
  • BBQ pork or beef for sandwiches were 2.99 with a .50 coupon attached.  Instant 2.50.  Less than you could buy the beef to make it.  
  • Hamburger buns were a dollar.
  • Diced tomatoes were at my target price.  
  •  Delicious apples were .79
  • Butter was too high.  
  • Yoplait was less than .50 in a carton of eight.  
Winco has an extensive bulk section, and it is set up so that things are more sanitary.  Some bulk sections have their bins so that people can put their hands in the product.  Winco has gravity fed hoppers that you can fill your bag from.

Costco netted bananas, sour cream, cottage cheese, tortillas, brown and serve baguettes,

We were still under budget and got a lot of things that will last the month.
We could do that because I have meat and fresh veggies from last week.

Knowing the rock bottom prices of the things you buy is the first best trick you can have up your sleeve to cut your food costs.  Buy low, eat when prices are high.  It's no new concept.  Our great grandmothers put fruit and veggies up for the winter on the farms.  They made sauerkraut and smoked meat.  It's really no different.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Finally Friday...that dreaded S word.

That dreaded s word...scratch!   A thrifty budget has not much room for ready made and boxed food.  You are paying a lot of money for convenience in most cases.

That being said, there are a few things that lately have been cheaper than or the same price as scratch when you use a coupon and find a sale.  HORMEL sirloin tips come to mind,  I can't say that they are a lot better than homemade in taste, but I got them for 2.99 for almost a pound and sirloin is hard to fond for under three dollars a pound these days.  It makes for a really fast dinner on a pinch.  I can get dinner on the table in six minutes flat.  LOL

But, mostly, scratch is the word of the day.  Scratch cooking conjers up pictures of women in 1950s bib aprons with flour on their foreheads!  LOL.  It doesn't have to be a labourous task.  There are many tips and secrets of meals that are tasty and easy to prepare.

The slow cooker can be your best friend.  They are realitively  inexpensive ans if you don't already have one, you can probably find  one at an estate sale cheap.  They can save a lot of time. I see a
Sauce for slow cookers advertised.  Usually, they cost more than the meat you use them with.m it only takes a few minutes to make the sauce yourself.  There are many recipes put there.  Betty Crocker will send you receipes via e mail every week if you sign up on er web site.  They also send you coupons with large dollar values.

Pre cooking your meat takes a lot of stress off of the dinner hour.  Whole chicken is inexpensive often on sale.  I have been getting it for anywhere from .50 to a dollar a pound. Deli chicken is NEVER A BARGAIN.  Never buy a chicken that is less than three pounds.  That is the break even point for the bone to meat ratio.  If you buy a chicken that os under three pounds,  you are paying too much momey for bone and getting too little meat.  Closer to five pounds is better.  It only takes me about

ten minutes to get a chicken in the oven.  The rest of the cooking time is passive cooking and you can go about your business doing other things. If you do the math, you are being compensated a healthy hourly " wage" for your time. I realize that is a concept some people can't grasp-- virtual wages!  We use it as a tool to figure if scratch cooking is worth our while.  If I make things from scratch, I want it to be worth my while on money saved or taste.  Most things are a lot cheaper from scratch.

Take pudding, for example. The cooked pudding takes the same amount of time as the kind out of a box.  Most mixes you buy have recipes for them on the Internet.  My baking mix recipe takes shortening and dry milk. At the cost of dry milk these days I am. Ot sure it os cheaper than buying bisquick from Costco.  I make several recipes from bisquick that we like and it is easy.  We like impossible pie, beer bread, and banana, oatmeal, blueberry bread.

I have been "buying" recipe starter lately.  It has been free at the dollar store lately with coupons.  It is 2.59 at SAFEWAYS. Even at the .50 that the dollar store charges, it is cheaper than making white sauce from scratch. Our dollar store is almost out, but others might not be.  They are coming out with a pouch instead of a can, so my guess is when they are gone, they are gone.
Otherwise, I make my own.

Pasta sauce from hunts is cheaper when purchased at my target price than buying the tomato sauce and making it from scratch.

I buy canned refried beans and beans on sale.  At fifty cents, unless you buy mass quantities bulk, it is the same price as scratch.  Rice and beans have a short fridge life, and most people say they don't freeze well.  It is  just makes a lot more sense with the amount of beans we eat.

Soup from scratch on the crockpot is a very good economy dish that takes little time. Canned soups are becoming very expensive.  You can almost make a whole pot for the cost of a can of soup.  I used to always use cream of mushroom soup for a sauce base. It  has gotten too expensive and I rarely find a good sale to march with a coupon.  Last November I got cream of mushroom for .30 in a limited amount with a store coupon and a manufacturers coupon.  It was a rarity. There is a recipe for cream soup base on the Internet.  I made some, but haven't had an occasion to use it.

By carefully picking your main dishes, you can come up with meals that scratch cook fast and easy.

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