Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thursday the basics

I am still I'm this glorious rehab center and my husband has not bring me the ads.  He has,been such a trooper taking care if the two yo grandbaby and trying to keep a home running along with retro fitting it with rails etc so I can come home.  

My other passion is designing greeting cards.  Greeting  cards have a basic plan.  The plan can be found in cards dating back to the early 1900s .  I have seen post cards from the early 1900s and they all have the same plan.  1) a cover background 2) a stripe 3) a greeting and 4) a focal point or icon.  

A meal plan isn't much different.  You have a protein, a starch, and a vegetable or fruit.   I try to vary our protein sources so give us variety and balance,  
I developed a matrix to make life easier.  Your matrix may very well be different.   Every family has their preferences.  

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

I find that skillet dinners, or slow cooker dinners are a quick way to get do dinner on the table with little effort and time.  In these days if a hot kitchen, getting in and out if the kitchen in a flash is. Big plus.  

Betty Crocker has a newsletter that comes on your e mail of you sign up for it.  It is full of new and different ideas for meals.   I tend to stick to the old tried and true meals from the 50 and 60s, so ot of fun to shake things up every now and then with a new taste or two.

We have been eating things with a buffalo chicken taste lately.  Everyone in our family likes hot, including the little one, so it works.   My husbands main object to chicken is that it has a bland taste.
That kicks it up a notch.

The object of meal plans is not to get to dinner time and stare at the fridge when someone says what's for dinner?    It's too easy to be tempted ot get take out or order a pizza.   That's a good way to derail your budget.    My favorite answer to the proverbial what's for dinner sometimes is  Whatever you cook!   Takes them back every time.   LOL

You don't have to follow the plan to the letter,but have a plan.  

Don't be afraid to try new things.   We had fish tacos a couple of nights ago.  I have to admit I wouldn't  have eaten them if it wasn't that I am in here and it's eat or starve!   They weren't bad.   I a, sure that if they were cooked in a dofferent venue, they might be even better!  

I'm not feeling well, guess that's all

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday madness

Tonight I had a chef salad ( of sorts) and a roll for dinner.  they had a glorious raspberry sweet roll for desert, but I opted for blue binny sherbert.   Trying to keep my blood sugar in tact.  

It is entirely possible to keep a strict budget and still take care of therapeutic diets.   It takes a bit of planning and some education as to what is needed to stay within guidelines.  It isn't necessary in most cases to completely do without a particular food, just really important to modify quanitites and replace some foods with similar ones that are better for you.   Being diabetic doesn't mean I can't have desert, nor does it mean that I have to have dry cake .  Ot means that I either have to modify the quantity of the cake,mor substitute it for another desert that is more appropriately within the carb guidelines that I need to keep.  

Moderation is the key.

We have purchased almost no food this month.  A few specialty items that my daughter needed for a new recipe,mand milk,bread, and some fresh fruit,   I suspect we can go on for several more months with the status quo.  It couldn't have been done without me having stocked more than usual anticipating that someday the mall we worked at would be closing for a time.   I suspect that we will venerating different when I get back home so I can cook and my husband will have to help because I still can't bend at the waist and going downstairs to the freezer will be a chore.   I anticipate it bring a once a week occurrence.  

Buying in bulk when it is on sale is the only way I know to eat for 1/2 the price of food these days,  
Buying perishables in season.   Looking for specials on dairy ( skip far. , Fred Meyers is really good at putting them on sale on a regular basis.   Kept at proper temp,dairy has a long enough shelf life to get you through a couple of weeks.  I am it finding a lot of sale meats these days.  Looking forward to Winco coming soon.  It'll be a while until I can grocery shop, so I'll be making lists and taking advantage of instant  photo exchanges we can access with today's technology.  

Having a kitchen stool and island I am sure will be a good resource for me. As well as the crock pot.  

Keeping on a strict budget takes some ingenuity in adjusting recipes for less expensive ingredients that will still give you the taste and texture that the original recipe called for.  Finding recipes that are new to keep things fresh helps too.   Add finding and taking advantage of sales on produce.  

I have been writing waiting for my pain meds to take effect.  I think tat they might be close to doing that.  

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday, the ads

Fred Meyers

Strawberries. 1.88
Triskit crackers 3/5@@
Milk 4/5@@
"Bread 3/4@@
Pasta sauce .79@@
Smoked sausage 2.99@@
Jif 2/4
Yoplait 10/5
Frozenotatoes 3/5
Cherries 2,99
Peaches 1.99
Cucumbers, radishes 2/1
Green beans 1.49


Paper folders .10
Clams .89@@
Olives .89@@
Milk 2.49
Optic white toothpaste, with register rewards and coupon on Sundays paper is .50.

That's about it.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Suddenly Saturday-- getting dinner in the table.

There are many ways to save time and energy getting food din the table.   The one basic concept that works the best for me is to batch cook whatever protein that is the best special of the week.  The meats vary , but usually bought in bulk saves a lot of time and money.

You are buying the "meat " at rock bottom prices, cooking it once, amd portion controlling it onto batches just big enou for a nights meal.   There is no waste and you have saved labor and energy cooking it.

Stair stepping ingredients for meals helps a lot too.   Making a double batch if rice so that you split it and have Spanish rice with tacos, and rice under a stirfry the next day.   Roce and beans have a short fridge life, so don't hold them too long.

The crockpot is your best friend,   The is something  very therapeutic about coming home to dinner cooked.  I imagine the smell is glorious.   Simplest pot roast ever. Put  pot roast in the crockpot.   Slice a peeled onion and out on top. Salt and pepper.  Pour a beer over top.  Add enough beef stock or water to almost cover.   Set on low for 8-10 hours.,  I. Microwave potatoes and carrots until tender and put in the pot with the cooking liquid the last 1/2 hour.  

There is a method out there called freezer cooking,  we used to call ot marathon cooking.   Basically you shop once a month and cook a months worth of meals in a day.   It's hard work.   It works for some people.   I can see it working for a mom with a weird shift at work.  Meals would be  ready for  another family member to heat up when dinner time came,

Personally, I  don't have the stamina to cook for eight to ten hours straight. I would prefer batch cooking.   You have to pick what works for you on a long term basis.  

I just Re read a cookbook called, " don't panic,dinner  is in the freezer.   " I got it as a e book from amazon I think.   Even of you dint want to marathon cook, it has some really good scratch recipes.  It's also breaks down a recipe for number of batches you wish to cook.   A good go to if you need to cook for a crowd.,

Whatever works for you.  

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Suddenly Saturday.

Had a fruit plate last night, thought it would be better than pizza.       Top high sugar this am.  Guess the cottage cheese wasn't enough protein.     Trying to something's around a hextic therapy schedule.  

I was reminded today about stuffed potatoes.    It's a good way to ise bits of things for dinner. Bake potatoes amd gather bits of things that go on them.   Everyone makes their own.   Chili. Taco meat, broccoli, cheese, bacon, whatever.  

Sometimes, I okay clean out the veggie bin and either make soup, or stir fry with chicken or shrimp over rice or noodles.

The ads

A real quick take on the ads
Chicken drums  .88 not they dine tell u where they are from

Corn 3/1
Yoplait .38@@

Blues 5.99
Cantelope 1.00
Chicken .88

five dollar Friday


Berries 4.99
Milk 4/5
Pasta 1.00
corn 3/1

That's about all



Wicked Wednesday-no ads

It's Wednesday.  I'm still in rehab with some good days and some not so good days.  

What to do with what you got.

Beef with roasted veggies and mustard cream sauce,  

Mustard sauce

1/2 cup sour cream
2 T Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice

Sour cream is on sale at Fred Meyers
Dijon mustard os cheapest at grocery outlet or Costco
Lemon juice out of a bottle is supposed to be cheaper.  


I use a combination if any root vegetables that are in my vegetable bin.  Often i do this in Wednesday to clean out the veggie bin,    Regular  or red potatoes, carrots, radishes, celery, turnips or rutabagas if I have them.   Cut them in pieces so that they will cook at the same time.   Toss them with olive oil.  Salt, pepper and sometimes a few red pepper flakes.  Roast at 375 to 400 until they are done.  Sometimes I add rosemary and skip the red pepper flakes.  The oven temp is flexible so they can be roasted with other foods.     Good with meatloaf, chicken, etc.  

White bean and pasta soup

Soup is not an exact science. If you don't have an ingredient , substitute or leave ot out.  The amount of veggies is up to you,   Play it be ear.   I always use less onions because my husband is. It particulary find if them.  He likes the taste, but doesn't like to bite into one. I either chop it fine, or use the micro plane to "grate" it.

Sauté vegetables in olive oil

Red peppers, chopped fine

Add 4 cups water and sautéed veggies to soup pot.  
Add 2 cups cooked white beans with 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid. ( or use a 15 ounce can of white beans , rinsed and 3/4 cup of chicken stock. Or water.  
Add a large tomato, chopped amd seeded.  
Cook until tomato is tender and soup is heated through.
Add 1 cup cooked small pasta.  ( maybe orzo or small shells.  )

Heat through.
Salt and pepper.  

I like to serve soup with grated hard cheese on top, maybe croutons made from stale bread.   Some sour cream and chives.   Anything that would taste good and make ot taste good.  A little extra touch sometimes makes things a little more gourmet instead of just a bowl of soup.  

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday ads

Here are Sunday ads.  

Fred Meyers

Peaches or nectarines    1.28
Reg hamburger 2.48
Red cherries 1.99
Ice cream 2/4

French bread 1.00
Buns 1.00
Sour cream 1.00
Pumpkin pie 2.99
Hebrew national 3.49
Peanut butter 3/5
Blues 4.99
Zucchini .99

Milk 2.49
Coffee 6.99
Bumble bee Tina .99@@
dreyers 3.99***

Note the spread of prices on ice  cream.   Pumpkin pie is a bargain because pumpkin canned is not cheap.   Add evaporated milk and this os prolly cheaper.

Watch drug stores or other stores where food is not their main focus.   Sometimes they  are cheaper on what they do have.   Think outside the box.  

Hot dogs and buns are on sale at Fred Meyers.  Stir frying veggies with some olive oil and adding chicken or shrimp is good over rice or noodles.



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Thursday, July 17, 2014

The ads and what to do with them

My husband brought me the ad s.

Cherries 1.99
7 percent hamburger 3.99@@
Tillamook cheese 6.99

Muffin mix .25
Pineapple slices .75
Tomato paste .25
Barilla pasta 1.00$

Blues 2.99
Peaches 1.49
Grapes 299
Barilla .99$

5  dollar Friday
Chicken?  Depend another weight


Blues 4.99
Grapes 1.99
Cherries 2.99
Gree beans,  squash .99
Nectarines 1.99

Sirloin tip roast BOGO nets 3.25

Rite aid
Pyrex buy one, get two

That's about all.  
Please check the matchup sites, I don't have my coupon book at the rehab! LOL

I would say that it is cheaper to get two sirloin roasts and roat one off and make hamburger out of the other one ,   Slice the roast thin and freeze for a jus sandwiches.   Chicken is a food buy if it is five pounds or more.  There are many fruits and veggies.   Stir fry with some chicken in rice!    Blueberry pancakes or waffles .   Muffins are a quarter.  Prolly cheaper than scratch.   With a salad for dinner, add chicken ,nuts, grapes and some apple to greens,   Soak the apple woth some lime or other acidic  juice. I save the juice from pineapple.  



Terrific thursday

It's in the middle of the night. I just had a real bout with muscle spasms and a ice pack that leaked and got my bed and my pjs wet.    Trying to not wake my roommate with the commotion of changing clothes and sheets.   LOL

My husband is going to bring me the ads, so they will be late.  

We have talked about batch cooking and buying in bulk and at rock bottom prices.   Making sure that you only,buy foods that you will use on a regular basis assures that you will use things up before there is a stale date.  

Tonight we had a tater tot casserole, pickled beets, and  a bread stick.  Fresh pineapple for desert.    I hadn't had beets  for years and the pineapple was refreshing on a hot day.    Fresh pineapple is one thing I find not hard to buy on a budget.   We manage to get berries, bananas, and apples, sometimes oranges.  

Using up the bits of fresh foods helps keep costs down.   I haven't shopped for several weeks now, I don't know how the fresh foods have favored.  

About all.  


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Terrific Tuesday

It's Tuesday, the 15th.    It is a milestone for a family member and we are all jumping up and down to say "Hip Hip Hooray! " it's been a long time coming and we are all thrilled!    Well, my brain is jumping. My body. Not so much!  

Last night we had a vegetable bean soup. Cornbread, a  tomato and cucumber salad,and chocolate pudding for dinner.   It would be a very inexpensive dinner to serve.  You could put the soup in the slow cooker in the morning,  the cornbread is a quick fix as well as the salad. When you are having a soup that has a limited amount of protein in it, you need to add a side or desert that has protein in it.  
Pudding is one of those things that is easy to make without the box.  You are getting very little effort in the box for a lot of money.  

Averaging your meat costs is one way to afford a more expensive cut if meat every new and then.   I use a matrix when planning meals.  It makes it easier and affords a degree of balance.   By rotating your meats( proteins ) using the bulk system, your meal plans fall into place.

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

SAFEWAYS  has pork tenderloin and shrimp on five dollar Friday often.
I am finding a buck a pound chicken often.  There is an expose on deli chicken on an older blog. It's very enlightening.   I make our own ( actually I cut the meat up and my husband puts it through the grinder ) hamburger when it is cost effective.   Batch cooking hamburger is the most labor intensive of the batch meats.  I buy grated cheese when it is reasonable, otherwise I grate our own and add a little cornstarch to keep it from clumping. It freezes well.  

I can always get pasta for a buck a pound.  Often,  I can also get coupons or  coupons matching with a sale.   Pasta has a v e r y long shelf life.   Stock when you can.   I developed a pasta dish that is my answer to a  hamburger meal box.  Better, cheaper, faster.   My children call it no Brainer pasta.   There is a blog on hamburger meal boxes as well.    It's a real eye opener!  

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday ads

I got the paper today.   Smart source has a few cereal type coupons, but not many,  

Walgreens has pink salmon for 1.99@@


Chicken , whole .99
Blues 4.99
Tillamook yogurt 10/4
Milk 2/5@@
Bread 1.49@@
Ground beef 15% 2.99@@

Buy 5 save 5
Freshetta 4.49
Sour cream 1.49
Salsa 3.79

Fred Meyers

Sirloin steak 3.99
Cherries 1.88
Milk 4/5@@
Bread  1.33@@t
Tomatoes or veggies. 2/1@@ limit
Smoked sausage 2/5
Corn 4/2
Cukes. .67
Green beans 1.48
Berries 2/5
Broccoli .99
Pizza 3.99
Ice cream 2/4@@
Peanut butter 2/3@@
that's about all

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Suddenly Sunday- the basics continued.

We have talked about looking for the best buys and taking advantage of sales.   The old adage of my mothers is still true---never pay top dollar for anything.   Today it's random bits of information.   If I was my normal logical self, this would be a bit more cohesive, but given my drugged body, all bets are off! LOL ( I'm in rehab for a hip replacement! )

First, the USDA publishes stats for different income levels and for different sized families.   An older couple , thrifty , is about 82.00 a  week.   Mind you,there are 4.2 weeknight in a month.   If you are getting less, they are  figuring that some of your other income  is going to supplement.

It helps to divide your grocery money into the food groups, in proportion to the food pyramid.   We work on 5 dollar dinners for a typical family of four, based on 300. A month.   That would be probably  closer to two bucks for a couple.

Don't forget coupons.  Many times they are for expensive things you don't need, but you can still get good food cheap.  I like free.   It happens sometimes.   Coupons come out in the Sunday paper in the form of inserts.  I have a friend  that brings me hers,   And I get one from the dollar store weekly.
Coupons come out once a month on the computer.  You snooze you loose for the expensive ones.   You can pick and choose the ones you will print.  You can print  two per item.   There are a lot of web sites, but most take you back to coupons,com and they don't ask you for your first born sons name? LOL.

Don't overlook other stores.   Buy the best of two chain stores and keep your eye open at the other stores.  I use Costco for a few things.   We have over stocked stores . Sometimes they have really good food that is a bit out of the ordinary and never took off in the regular market.  We have Big  Lots  and Grocery Outlet. .  We are getting a Winco near us soon I hear.   Bakery outlet stores are good for bread products.   If I was really short on budget,  I would make my own,  there are recipes
that make it easy.
The dollar store is cheaper on some things, but it really pays to know your prices.   I can't emphasize that enough.  If you can't remember, use a spread sheet or a notebook to keep track.

Last night, in the rehab, we had a baby pizza and spinach for dinner.   Pepperoni is .50 a package with a coupon at the dollar store.   The crust looked suspiciously like bisquick.  I could have done without the spinach and had a little green salad.  There was bits of bacon, pepperoni and sausage on the pizza.
I have been getting cheese for as little as two bucks a pound.   A little more for a Mexican blend at business Costco.

Portion control is  a real key player when you have a less than USDA stat budget.    Identifying protein cheap and finding the cheapest cost is paramount.  We eat far more protein than we need to.
You can stretch a lot using portion control.  It's real easy, especially after being used to cooking for a large family, to overlook.  Remember, you can split recipes and use them for more than one meal.  Use up bits and pieces for soup, pizza, enchiladas etc.

Popcorn is a good snack.   Air popped is real healthy.   Something as simple as an enchilada sauce can jack up up your total meal cost.  Make your own sauces.  The sauce can cost more than the meat.
I was surprised how easy it is to make.  If a recipe sounds too complicated, keep looking, the Internet is full of information.   I have been getting recipe starter for .50 and less.   Recipe starter was introduced a year or so ago.  It didn't fly.  It is a good product, made by a good company, but the cost was more than the meat  you put in it.   It hit the secondary market.   The dollar store had it for 2/1.  I had fifty cent coupons.   The dollar store is out now, And so are the coupons.  But, Big Lots  has them for .50 and they have cheese.  Add real cheese and frozen veggies ( often cheaper at the dollar store( watch weights) to coupon purchased pasta and  you have a dinner for often times a buck.   Or use garlic or basil with tuna.

Your meals can be filling, good, tasty and inexpensive.   They don't have to shout economy.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Step 2, suddenly saturday

Normally I would have grocery shopped yesterday.  This summer is a lesson in coping and rolling with the punches.LOL

Yesterday we talked,about identifying Our needs and meal planning the basics.  

Each week, when I get the newspaper ads, I analyze them.   Take a piece of scrap computer paper, divide it into quarters and head each with a grocery store.   Now go through the ads and write down any perishable or dairy ad price that is the cheapest.   Ditto the stock items on your list.  Now pick the one " loss leader protein that is on your list". By buying one meat a week and rotating it, you can save time and money.   You portion control the meals for no waste, and dinner is half started.  
I rotate hamburger, chicken, pork roast or sausage, and cheese.  Sausage last I looked was 8.49 for three pounds at Costco.   I watch for cheap 9 percent hamburger.  Sometimes a chuck roast will be on sale and grinding my own  is a better option.  My husband does it with the kitchen aid and controls the fat.   You can also use the old fashioned meat grinder.

Chicken continues to be inexpensive.   I usually buy a whole chicken and roast it.  Use dark meat for BBQ , breast for a chicken dinner or casseroles or other chicken dish and the bones for soup.  If I get grill packs. I debone the chicken breast and either cook the quarters for BBQd chicken or shred    it for tacos etc.

Hamburger becomes crumbles for pasta sauce, pizza, or sloppy joes. Also, taco meat and meat balls.  We usually get a meat loaf from it.  Meat balls are a meat group in itself.,,,meatball subs, on rice, potatoes, noodles, the possibilities are endless.  



Friday, July 11, 2014

Freaky Friday- the basics edition.

 I'm not on a position at this time to shop and cook and clean out the fridge.  Long story, bit the short of it, I landed in a rehab center and are taking a mini vacation.    LOL

So, it's time to get back to basics.

The reason why I started groceries on the cheap is because I was getting requests for people to teach them how to make it  on food stamps.  They were running out of momey before they ran out of month.   With the rising costs of food and the shrinking snap dollar, ot os getting harder to make the meals hit the table.   The good news is the Internet if full of information everywhere you look and you get to filter out what is usable to you.

The main objective in groceries on the cheap is to NEVER  PAY FULL PRICE FOR ANYTHING.  BUY LOW AND EAT HIGH.

A few exercises will set you up do eat well on less the rest of your lives.

  • Identify the inexpensive sources of protein that your family will eat.   In our home that would be chicken, eggs, cheese, pork, beans and rice,beef, 
  • Write down meals that incorporate these sources .  Do at least 7' preferably 14 to assure variety. 
  • Identify the shelf ready staple items that you'd will use to cook these meals.  Also freezer.Start a price book and identify the lowest prices for these foods. Use the weekly ads and your shopping trips to post prices.    Name of product, size, date, store, price?   with coupon? 
  • When you find the right price, buy a) as many as you can, b) as many as the store will let you ( limits) or c) as many as you need to reach your goal.  I keep a six to 12 week supply.   
  • If you can match a store sale with a manufacturers coupon you.  really hit pay dirt!   
That's all for today.  More tomorrow.   

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wicked wednesday

Our whole life has blown apart the last month.    I have come to the realization with pain and ice, that we have to take stock I'm what we do have left and  trudge on.   This old  Doe-Blood has  blood is pooped.  I've lost my fight.  

That being said, our family unit is  intact.  
I have no place to sell cards, I have no place to teach cards.   I have put put feelers. All I can do is keep trying,  
My husband is applying for a couple of jobs that would suit him well and only time will tell.  
Baby granddaughter still needs help understanding rules.  We can concentrate on that.
If I can emphasize  my budgeting skills to my family, we should survive a while anyway.   I have a lot of stock in the pantry.    That's what it is for.  And, I didn't pay more than 1/2 price for any of it.

I digress.

I am not buying food now, stuck in a rehab torture chamber , LOL.  Thankfully, I don't have to.  Hopefully, my daughter and husband are making dinners work.   The lack of grocery shopping should
Do a reasonable help in replacing our income for a while.  

I,will go,back to analyzing the ads as soon as I can get the ads.   Stick in a hospital bed is not very conducent  of that.  

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Suddenly Sumday

It os sindY.  I've been fighting the what day is ot demons all week.   LOL

The ads
Fred Meyers

Cherries 1.99
Blues 4.98
Chicken .99
Eggs 4/5@@
Butter 2/4@@
Bagels 1.99
Canned veggies 2/1@@
Radishes 2/.88
Dreyers 2/6$$

Tom sauce 2/1@@
Nuts 1.99

That's about ot.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

What a revolting development! This turned out to be!

Ok, as if my blogs haven't been sporadic lately with the mall closing , Tuesday I fell and broke my hop and wrist!   I'll be I'm rehab for three weeks, will coots when I can.