Thursday, March 31, 2016

Things to buy at the dollar store.

The  best smelling hand soap.

Organizing baskets - when all of one thing is in a basket, it's easier to find and things are neat.  

A dust pan with a handle saves your back....

Bowl covers.   Easiest way to solve the problem of putting a bowl in the fridge you can't find a cover for. Or that has no cover.  It doesn't touch the food.  

Why pay big money for tissue you are going to throw away.   Sometimes they have counts of 200 per box.  This was 175.  They have puffs too.  

Gift bags, tissue, gift boxes 

Best cookies that sell for upwards of four dollars elsewhere.    

Canvas cubes that sell for five dollars elsewhere.   We are using them to sort clean c,others ready for the chest of drawers downstairs.  

What's in your refrigerator?

Wednesday is usually clean the fridge day.   Life in the kitchen is a lot easier if you have zones in your refrigerator.   If  categories of food are placed in the same zone, it is easier to tell if you have enough if a particular product , or even where it is.  

Top shelf - condiments. That is where you will find the pickles. Jelly, mayonaise, etc.
next shelf. bread those products and eggs .    Tortillas. Baguettes. Eggs
Next : dairy.   Leftovers,  yogurt, sour cream cottage cheese
Bottom shelf.   Cheese in lock n locks, fruit in green boxes.

Drawers.  Meat, vegetables, cheese.
Door. Milk, small bottles of condiments, syrups etc.

On cleaning day, wash any spills.
I go threw the fridge top to bottom.   This week, I baked another dozen eggs.  I had a surplus because of Easter specials.  
Next stop, check expiration dates on dairy.  What needs to be used up soon.   Can you incorporate leftovers into lunch!
Fill the cheese boxes if,needed from cheese in the freezer.    Check the fruit and veggie for freshness.

Meat drawer.  Check dates.   Use up oldest first.  
Vegetable drawer, change the paper towel in the bottom of the drawer. Check freshness and not what needs to be used  soon.
Cheese drawer.  Check stock . Grate cheese if needed.  

Post what you have and star  anything that needs to be used up soon to meal plan work sheet.

This only takes a few minutes, but saves a lot of time and money,    You know what you need and what you have before you shop so you aren't duplicating anything.   You also use up what you have before it is food for the garbage disposal.  

No food can do you any good if you are feeding it to the garbage disposal.  

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

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easy Peasy artisan bread

I am on a mission to replace the things I buy ready made win easy , quick homemade equivalents.   To save money and have more control of what goes into our food.  But, I also am not all about spending all day in  the kitchen.   If you spend more time on the planning and the shopping and less in cooking, your budget will be better off and you will have more, healthier food as a bonus.

Artisan bread.   This is a far different concept than I have ever used to bake bread,   I can bake bread in the bread baker in a very short maybe five minutes non passive cooking.   But, this bread is more artisan than what comes from the bread baker.   

This calls for bread flour.  One of thei-tubes  I watched said that all purpose flour works too.   

In a large bowl, mix.  

3.5 cups flour 
2 tsp table salt 
1/2 tsp bread baker yeast 

Add 14 ounces of cool water.   

Stor dry ingredients to incorporate the salt and yeast. Add water and stir until dough forms a ball.   Cover with plastic wrap and set out on a counter for 8-24 hours.   

(My dough looked untouched after 10 hours.  It  was a sponge at 23.  It might have been sooner, but I went to bed and looked at ot on the morning,    )

Flour your counter or a board and dump the batter out .  Flour the mass and using a dough scraper, form it onto a loaf.  Dough will be sticky  and soft.    Turn it into a greased loaf pan.   

Cover and let proof for 1-1/2 hours in a warm place.   Meanwhile place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.   15 minutes before your 1-1/2 hours so up. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  After the 1-1/2 hours loaf should be over the top of the pan,    Bake 45 minutes.    Total non- passive cooking about 15 minutes.    

Dry ingredients 

Sponge after 23 hours 

Proofing , taken before it was done.   

Done after 45 min.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The ads

The ads came,  


Ground turkey 2.99
Grapes 1.99
Yoplait 10/5 - same price at fm
Milk 1.99
Nathan's 4.99

Five dollar Friday
Barilla 5/5
Chilli, nalleys  5/5

Berries 2/4
7 percent ground beef 4.99
Hebrew national 3.99***
Mission tortillas 2/4

Terrific Tuesday

It's Tuesday , the ads come out today.   I will post them , but I really don't have to go shopping.  Mthe fridge and pantry are full.  

Yesterday. I made cranberry chicken in the crockpot.   I de-boned four other chicken 1/2 breasts.   The weighed a little more than a pound each.   I put the bones into a stockpot and added some herbs.  
I now have some chicken left over from last nights dinner, soup stock and a tub of chicken pieces, and four more de-boned  chicken breasts.   Cost of last night's  meat was about .50.   Even if we use the entire breast, it  would be a dollar.    That goes a long way to balance  with a salmon dinner and still stay within a five  dollar dinner.   I will use the chicken from the bones for chicken enchiladas later in the week.   I will freeze the chicken stock after I defat it and I take the salmon out of our baby freezer.
That means I will get seven meals from  5.50 worth of chicken.    That's  .79 a meal.  

The dollar store has them stale brothers cookbook.  It has a variety of surprisingly sophisticated dishes in it.   Just saying..

I have been watching a lot of food hauls on u tube.   Most of them are for two hundred dollars and up.   Most of them either have copious snack food, or  are real heavy with alternative foods.   I try to hit the middle of the road. . . I don't buy expensive alternative food, nor do we buy four bags of chips every week.    I buy tortilla chips sometimes.    Sometimes we have nachos for dinner,  or we have them with chilli or taco soup.   They don't seem to be lady with salt.    Sometimes I buy hummus when I can get it on sale and we dip veggies in it.   Popcorn and an air popper make for a good snack.  You can control the salt and the butter, and there is no garbage in it like microwave popcorn has.  

Buying junk food will surely  derail your food train and besides, those foods are not good for you.  

Monday, March 28, 2016

The next step

now that I have nailed the under four dollars a day and built and maintained a stockpile of food, I am going to go one step further.   I always want to learn new things.   It's what keeps us young and our brains working.   I checked the February 2016 stats    from the USDA  and  we are sitting at less than 1/2 of the family stats and that is for food eaten at home, that does not include a pantry.

Now, I am on a mission to reduce the amount of hydrogenated oil we consume.  Hydrogenated oil is in everything.   By all accounts, it is bad for you.    Somethings   have different viewpoints, but not hydrogenated oils.   They are in everything.  - a lot of manufacturers are attempting to offer alternatives.   You can buy mayo with part olive oil.   There is peanut butter with a reduced amount in it.   Read the labels.   The ingredients are listed in order of volume.    It's a given that potato chips and other chip type snack foods are loaded with it.   But, on a thrifty budget, you can't afford them anyway.   Making something from  scratch lets you control what kind of oil you use.

Therefore, my next mission is to learn efficient ways to cook some of the few  thngs that we buy ready made.  My criteria is how much hydrogenated oil does it have in it and is it cheaper to buy it ready made, or can I control the oil better without slaving over a stove for hours.   The other option is to see if we can reduce our usage or eliminate it altogether from our diet.

I found a recipe for a simple bread dough and pizza dough that takes little non-passive cooking time.   Baguettes cost a dollar at best.   The thing that will hold me up is that it takes a pizza stone for the oven.   That's not on my budget yet.

I do have a bread baker.

I am trying rice on the pressure cooker.   It actually takes less time than instant.

Wish me luck !,, LOL.

Meal plans

Meal plans for this week.
I am trying to use up what we have.   This months foo was at 67.00 a week; first quarter food is at 70.99 a week.   USDA stats for our daily is 149.40.    We are at less than half.   That figure is the cost of food eaten,    We have a stock built and maintained.   

Meals - I dont necessarily assign a meal to a particular day of the week except if I want an exceptionally easy meal because of a busy day etc.   

  1. Cranberry chicken breast, a gratin potatoes, broccoli.   ( chicken breast was a dollar a pound again  at fm.   Boneless chicken breast was 2.49 a pound.  It takes about ten minutes to debone half breasts of chicken.   I need to use cranberry sauce from the pantry.   A gratin potatoes were less than .70 and broccoli is left over from a veggie tray for Easter.   The recipe is BC ( bettymcrocker) 
  2. Pizza ( DiGiorno was 2.44 super bowl weekend with sales and coupons. ) 
  3. Chicken enchiladas.   ( I got tortillas for .25 with a coupon,  I use more expensive 6 carb ones for myself .  Chicken is from the dollar a pound chicken and I am going to try a new recipe for enchilada sauce from scratch, ) cheese is always aboutm200 a pound grated.   The best price on a block I have found is 2.50 a pound.   
  4. Breakfast for dinner.   ( using eggs I got for 2.00 for 18.   - th best data I can find is that an egg a day is still in healthy eating guidelines.   We only eat eggs when we have breakfast for dinner except if I use them in baking.   
  5. Speghetti with red sauce/ hambirger.   Bread, salad.   ( the bread was on sale at Costco nets a little less than a buck for 1/2 a loaf.    Hambirger was 318 a pound for 7 percent and I defatted it and froze the cooked meat.   Speghetti I got Barilla from the dollar store.    ) 
  6. Salmon and gnocchi . Mixed veggies ( carrots, cauli, carrots.) this was touted as a dollar store dinner.    The gnocchi is at the dollar store  and is from Italy.    Our salmon is from Costco.   The veggies are from Easter veggie tray,   
  7. Chicken club pie.   , broccoli.    ( chicken is a buck a pound, ham is some cubes I got at Winco for 2.38. Cents and we will use part of the bag.   Broccoli , you guessed it, is from the Easter veggie tray,   ) the recipe is Betty Crocker.    

All of these meals with the exception of the salmon one is less than five  dollars a meal.   Because the pizza and the chicken enchiladas are less than five dollars, it should average out.   
I can't reprint Betty Crocker recipes, but if you google them, they should be there.   I dos veered that enchilada sauce is basically a two cup thin white sauce recipe with the fo,losing substitutions : start with a fat to flour ration of 1 to 1. - two tablespoons flour to 2 tablespoons olive oil or another fat of choice.  Cook for a minute or so to get rid of the flour taste.  Add taco seasonings and blend in two cups of veggie stock or chicken stock.   The color comes from paprika and chilli powder.    
I found the recipe on Pinterest.   It's a real money saver since enchilada sauce is about a buck a can.   

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Fred Meyers ad

Got the ad for Fred Meyers today,    My hubby went to the dollar tree and bought the paper and another pair of dress sox for granddaughter.   Seems she has lost one of her dress sox.   It was either buy another pair or let her do the bunny  hop! !   !  

The ad

Foster farms split chicken breast. .99.  

This is a really good price and it is easier to debone them when they are split.   I debone them and save the bones  for soup stock.   Buying soup stock in a box or can is another good way to derail your meal train.   I get low sodium chicken granulas or  better than Boullion.   I prefer better than boullion, but the dry granulas work for mixes.  

Grapes 1.88
Tillamook cheese 5.49@@.  Cheaper at Safeways,  

Hillshire farms smoked sausage 2/5@@

Berries 2/5

Chick roast 3.99

Kroger pasta 100.    Nite the dollar store has Barilla for a buck .  

That's about it.  

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Eggs --so what Else would we talk about the day before Easter?

LOL.   ...

Two weeks ago, eggs were 18 for 2.00 at Fred Meyers.    It's another reason why you strike when the iron is hot.   If you wait  until the day before a holiday, often the prices go up.   They are banking on the fact that some people will wait until the last minute and taking advantage of that.

It still goes back to know your prices.   You don't have to know the prices of everything in the store, just the things that you use on a regular basis.    Have a target price and stick to it I less it is something you just can't live without....milk?

I digress.     Eggs

I hard cooked eggs on the oven this time.    It was really easy and a great way to get a lot of eggs done at one time.   No eggs cracked and it is really easy.  

Preheat oven to 325.   Place eggs , one each in muffin cups.  Bake for 30 minutes.   Meanwhile, make a ice water bath.  I put a big plastic bowl in the sink.  When the eggs were done take them  out of the oven  and use a hot pad  to remove the eggs to the ice water.   Cool 10 minutes and remove from the bath.    I placed them on a folded kitchen towel to dry.   Refrigerate after .   They are really easy to peel.   If you overlook hard cooked eggs, they will have a gray tinge around the edge.  They are still good to eat, just overlooked.  

Adding a hard cooked egg to your breakfast helps you to stay full until lunch.

Breakfast for dinner is a way I get another vegetarian meal in the meal plan and it's inexpensive.  
There are a lot of good quiche, breakfast casseroles. Omlettes. Waffles, pancakes. Muffins.
A Cobb salad is always good in the summer for a cool dinner.

At .11 a piece, it's a good way to stretch your dinner dollar amd leaves you open to have a more expensive cut of meat to average your costs.  

Contrary to what the rumors were in the past, now the guidelines for protein are so ounces of protein a day and some of that should be from eggs.

We don't eat eggs every day.   Moderation is the key again.  

What do you do with the hard cooked eggs after Easter?  
You can comment below.

Friday, March 25, 2016


Easter crept up on me .   I got product out in the stores, but I never managed to get decorations up.   I did stop and make treat boxes for the children  at granddaughters school amd went shopping yesterday and found granddaughter an Easter dress 55 percent off plus another 25 percent, and another twenty dollars off on a rebate.   Shoes were on sale at Sears.    I am not to particular about the sturdiness of little children's dress shoes.   They don't wear them enough to spend a lot of money on them.  It's better that the money go on a pair that they wear everyday.   After shipping,mew were hungry and decided to stop and have lunch at Denny's,    I had soup and a delightful sandwich of avacado and turkey and Swiss cheese,    Yummy, and it's in the menu.  Besides we get a twenty percent discount with aarp card.   But, we weren't hungry at dinner time.  I fixed pizza  Quesadeas. I had seen them in on a u tube vlog.   Picky granddaughter are the whole thing!    Guess that's a winner,   Low carb to boot and quick. If I was  making a real meal, I  would add tomato soup.  Mission makes a low carb tortilla that has six carb grams.  

Tonight, we will make fish packets and get back to the plan.   

There is a lot of hype out there about food.   You could go crazy either trying to afford food from Mars or go crazy trying to make sense of a climate that has two sides to every food . My take is to eat in moderation, and eat a wide variety of foods.    I don't believe that it is appropriate to leave a whole food group out of your diet unless your doctor says that it is not good for you because of a disease.    I wholly agree that we eat too much fat, sugar and salt in this country.   There was a good program on pbs about food.   Basically, they said the same thing.    The French people eat everything pretty much, they eat in moderation and usually don't eat on the fly according to the program.    

We eat on 70 percent of the snap budget at four dollar a day per person.  We are not on snap.  I have built and maintained a stock on that amount of money.  I spend 75.00 a week on food and have lot of years now.  We eat a variety of protein, we eat inexpensive cuts of protein,but I buy the best quality I can of those proteins.   We always have fresh fruits and veggies.   I wash fruits and veggies or peel them if it is appropriate to do so.   I don't buy junk food.  Of a food has no food value, I don't buy it, sans herbal teas.   

Just a note,  there is absolutely  no reason to buy organic bananas unless you are trying to impress your neighbour.   

Nutrition wise, there is no reason to buy organic milk either.   In fact, organic milk does not have some of the nutrients that regular milk has.  Organic milk is processed longer and kills some nutrients.   

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jenny can cook

I just found a u-tuber that is remarkable.    She has videos on cooking healthy that won't break the bank.   Scratch cooking that is fast , easy and low fat.  unfortunately, she's not low sugar too.    None the less, she bakes with extra light olive oil which is a much better alternative to hydrogenated oil.

Flat bread, 20 minute pizza crust, no butter, no egg chocolate cake, easy mac and cheese, buttermilk  Biscuits-- and she is funny!     Jenny can cook.

Easy cooking from scratch saves time and money, besides not buying things with ingredients you can't pronounce!  

Trying too many things at one time can be overwhelming.  am planning on introducing a new dish a week along with trying to do more scratch cooking,  I was already pretty much scratch, but I am trying to reduce the hydrogenated oils we consume.   They are worse than the butter.   We don't consume a lot of butter either.    I already use olive oil for a lot of things.   Not all oil is created equal.  Someone told me oil was oil.    Wrong...... Vegetable oil, from what I read on the Internet, isn't recognized by your body and your body doesn't break it down.     It's not natural.  It gets into your bloodstream and thickens the blood.    Butter at least is natural.  Now, I'm not saying put a whole pat  of butter in your toast.   Moderation is the key.

Last night we had pork chops and roasted veggies : potato, carrot, cauliflower and radishes. That  wasn't  the plan, but Winco had gorgeous pork chops for two dollars a pound.    I will adjust our meal plans.   I also want to try no knead rolls.   The granddaughter is home, and she lives to help gram cook  in. the kitchen.   I think it is important for children to see where food comes from.   Not out of a box or plastic bag.    I, however, don't intend on spending my whole day in the kitchen.   My hip won't stand for it, and I have other projects I need to do and a house to run.  Cc

If I can, I'll take you along for the ride in pictures.  

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

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Winco prices

Went to Winco, next to the doctors.    
Since Wimco has no ad, here are prices I saw.  

Nissin terriaki bowl are basically free with a coupon.   They are .58 and there is a dollar coupon with three.    The bottom line for three is .25 each.  

Yoplait is .50 with coupons .40

Ten pounds of potatoes are 1.00

Sliced olives are .58

Grapes are like 200 a pound.

Pork loin chops are 1.98 a pound

Cutting the food baby step at a time,

I have started micro managing our food bill......well, maybe micro managing is a strong word.   I have been broadening my horizons and finding recipes that are easy to replace the few things that imbue ready made or from a box or can.

Enchilada sauce is a dollar  a can.    It is sooo easy.   I always,thought that oatmeal tomato sauce in it. In a pinch. I used the leftover tomato paste from pizza sauce and added water and taco seasoning.   I wasn't far off the mark.   All enchilada sauce is is a white sauce recipe basically.  You start with the roux that you would make 2 cups of white sauce with.  Add taco type  seasonings and substitute the milk with either vegetable or chicken stock.  Easy and I probably can make a mix ahead of to,emto make it even easier.    The sauce keeps 2 weeks on the fridge, so the recipe on Pinterest says.

Next, I am tackling rice  from scratch.    I got brown rice don, rice is proving to be a little harder.

I found a recipe for thin pizza crust.   I have made thick crust in the food processor lots before. But hubby prefers a thin crust.   I found that recipe on the Pinterest too.

It's cheaper to buy pasta sauce than it  is to make it when you buy Hunts   on sale.  We buy instant mashed on sake and the price comparison is close to scratch.   Potatoes are hard for me to keep from going bad.   Many are already bad before I get them home.   It's just easier for us.   I do make oven fries .  I also buy fries frozen for 3.00 amd a few cents for five pounds at Winco.

That's about all buy that isn't scratch.
There are all kinds of seasoning packets in the store.   It is a good way to jack up the price of a  meal that would have been  an economy meal.  Spices are a dollar all over.  If you are in a pinch or you only need a little bit, Winco has bulk spices.   It is far cheaper  to make your own seasoning amd you can control the salt and heat.    Recipes are on an earlier post.  

The ads

Last  night we got the ads in the mail. Dare  I say two ads.   One for Alberways and one for QFC.  
I did part of our shopping on Sunday.    Basically dairy and perishable produce.  

This weeks ads are not surprisingly all about Easter.    It's. It usually a good time to stock.


Ham 1.49
Broccoli , cauli, .99
Tillamook cheese bricks 5.99

Nothing on the ten for  10 sale is a bargain,   The same frozen veggies are .79 at Freddie's.  
Ditto buy 3. Save 3.    Jenne o turkey bacon is a buck at the dollar store.  


Ham 1.57
Strawberries 3.99 a 2 lbs
Tillamook cheese -2 lb loaf 4.99@@
Kraft mayo 3.88@@

Five dollar Friday
Pork tenderloin
General Mills cereal 3/5
Stove top stuffing, potatoes Bc 5/5@@$$

 Coupons in ad ....note a fm after them means that Fred Meyers has the same or lower price.  
Butter 1.99 fm@@
Cake or brownie mix .99 @@- always that price ot lower at Winco
Cream of mushroom soup .79@@$$

That's about it.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Terrific Tuesday

Its pizza Tuesday.    I had a quick and easy pizza crust recipe years ago, but it is for a thick crust, more like DiGiorno.    My husband would prefer a thin crust.  O tried the dollar store crust, but it was too thin and reminiscent of cardboard,    

I saw a recipe on Pinterest.   I'm going to try it .  It looks like I can make it in the food processor.    I'm was looking for come that didn't have to many stand times.   This still takes an hour and a half.  

Winco has ready made Pizza dough,    It is 1.50 last I saw it.   Scratch will be fractions of that.    

There are still coupons lit there for Hormel pepperoni.    They are form.50 off off one and they're at the dollar store.    One of the last coupons I can still find that work at the dollar store.   I am nit rinsing the same name brands that I have in the past.   I see hauls in the Internet, but not  here.   They have  uncle bens rice, hunts pasta sauce. Dole pineapple, sometimes  Betty Cricker  potatoes, Marie Calanders, jenne o ,pic sweet frozen veggies.    Some things you can find cheaper at the regular grocery store.   I'm 

I digress.   Back to pizza.  Motts cheese is two dollars a pound at Costco.    It is mix information that it is cheaper to grate your own.    I tried that because I have a stick of brick cheese.    We went through four pounds in a week.    If you can get a finely grated cheese, it stretches it further,    I did grate my own parmesean.  Actually, Romano was cheaper so we used that this time,   I used a micro plane, it makes it last a lot longer.    The cost of grated cheese has gone down,    Yellow is 2.08 a pound at Costco  and the motts was 2.00 in five pound bags,   I freeze and take out enough to fill a large  lock and lock.   I'm 

I got peppers at grocery outlet six for 3.00 a while back.  I took them hi,e and sliced them and stuck them in the freezer.  I have been working on them for months,   Sometimes just a few will put some color in a dish,   We eat first with our eyes.  

I got a jar of pizza sauce at the dollar store.   I never do that, but saw it on a haul and thought we could try to.  After I open it, I'll use what we need and freeze the rest in an ice cube tray so we can pull out what we need.    

Sausage is cheapest in a roll at Costco.   Take it home, defat it ,and freeze.    

Black sliced olives are .58 at Winco.    I haven't done a comparison yet, but it certain,y looks like if you take the air and liquid out of a can of while olives, you would have the same volume left.  
Sometimes, it is miss-information that something cut up is more expensive than the whole.  

It's still a lot of money to buy a hamburger meal box at any price along with boxed Mac and cheese.  

Buffalo chicken pizza.   
  1. Crust 
  2. Blue cheese, or ranch dressing 
  3. Chicken cut up into small cubes, season with hot sauce ( Tabasco or hitter, your choice) 
  4. Blue cheese
  5. White cheese
  6. Red pepper cut up.   ( color) 
Another concept is almost free pizza.   My co- workers retort to that was, who's giving
Away pizza?  
Operative word....almost,    
Whenever you are chopping anything that goes in a pizza for another meal during the week, chop a little more and shove it in a bag that you place in the freezer door.    Ditto meat.   Chicken?  Ham for ham and pineapple pizza.    When you have enough make pizza.  

Guess that's all .   

Monday, March 21, 2016

Grocery trips

I did some research on grocery shopping,  The average family grocery shops twice a week.    There are four types of grocery shopping hauls according to the food marketing institute.  

  1. The once a week stocker that buys just what they need for the weeks meals.   
  2. The shopping trip to prepare for a party. 
  3. The fill in trips to get odds and ends that you need to complete your meals. 
  4. The quick trip to buy one or two meals.   
The fourth one is the most disturbing to me,   It is a good way to overspend,    You don't have a list and you are looking for what looks good to you for the next two meals.    Sales aren't on your vocabulary and you can bet your bottom line is going to be high.    

The average family of four spends 786.00 a month on food.    We spend 300.00 and I have a stock built and maintained,    I used to shop on Friday, hit two stores. And be done.    After the shake up of the food industry here, I find that Fred Meyers and Winco are the best price leaders of the moment,    Fred Meyers has ads that come out on Sunday.   Winco has no ads.  It has changed the way I shop 
It also has made my grocery bill go down.    

I heard a checker one day say that she  wasn't going to go to two stores to save 25 cents.   Good point.   But, I save about five hundred dollars a month.   What can you do with five hundred dollars a month?    That goes a long ways to pay our lower bills.  

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

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

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Five dollar meals

In order to keep to a four dollar  a day budget and still cover the things that you need to complete meals;  you need to stick to averaging five dollars a day based in a budget for four people.

4+1 =5.    Four people, one meal, five bucks,
 By averaging , you can afford a more expensive meal by balancing it with an inexpensive one.

I cleaned the pantry, took inventory, rotated stock and tidied it up.  If the pantry is cleaned up, there is a place  for everything and you can tell at a glance what you may be running short of.   If the basket is getting empty, it's time to watch for a sale.  

I am on a mission to eat down the pantry and then replenish.  We ate a lot from the fridge freezer, and I replenished it from the downstairs freezer with the foods we will need to complete this weeks meals.

None of this takes a lot of time.   Ok, I'm not going to lie, the pantry clean up took several hours.   The meal planning and shopping trip planning does not take a lot of time.    It probably takes less time that if you shop weekly for a weeks worth of food.   You aren't writing detailed lists.    You are buying - a protein that is RBP and on your rotation, replenishing dairy and perishables.  If you are low on a stock item, and it's at a RBP, you will replenish.   I work left to right on the shelf, so the new stock will be placed on the right so it is rotated through.

Ok, next weeks meal plans.   We have a LOT of eggs.    They were 18 for two dollars last week at Fred Meyers.     My granddaughter and I love hard cooked eggs.   We have been eating them all week.   I ate a hard cooked egg and my regular bowl of oatmeal the other day.  I stayed fuller longer.
We still have two packages of sausage to use up.  One of them is chicken.    They have April and May pull dates.

  1. Breakfast for dinner.   Eggs, confetti pan  cakes ( mix bought for .50 at GO) fruit.   
  2. Pizza, salad ( pizzas bought for 2.44 super bowl week) 
  3. Speghetti and meatballs.   Bread.  ( bread on sale  at Costco, vegetable speghetti gets an additional veggie into our diets. Meatballs from the freezer.   Salad 
  4. Chicken pot pie.    Chicken , peas, carrots. Cream soup base, Bisquick crust 
  5. Fish packets  : salmon, rice, beans, broccoli 
  6. Sausage and peppers 
  7. Easter 

  1. Mac and cheese, broccoli 
  2. Lemon chicken stirfry ( Betty Crocker) 
  3. Buffalo chicken pizza ( scratch crust ) 
  4. Beef and bean taco casserole ( Bc) 
  5. Bacon and bean quesadilla and tomato soup.  ( tomato soup from Costco in a box is 2.00.  ) (Bc) 
  6. Tuna casserole with peas 
  7. Beef and broccoli stir fry.
  1. Tacos , refried beans, rice. ( kit from GO) 
  2. Pizza , salad 
  3. Tomato soup, cheezy biscuits 
  4. Chicken pot pie
  5. Pork chops with bread dressing with Apple and craisens , peas 
  6. Chicken carbonara (Bc) salad 
  7. Salmon, a gratin potatoes. Green beans 
I decided to mix things up and try a bunch if new recipes from the Betty Crocker on line  cookbook.  It is free to download and is a good resource.   If you have something you need to use up, you can plug it in and ideas will magically appear.   

Protein rotation

Face  it, the most expensive categories of your food bill is protein.   One of the easiest ways to cut protein costs is to buy your protein on bulk when it is a loss leader.   You wait until a particular meat is on sale at a RBP and then buy enough to last you for a month of those meals.   Bring it home, batch cook it, if appropriate , and portion control it into packets for the freezer.  

Based on the proverbial family of four  .... Working in two - one month rotations,    The weeks probably won't be in order , you will be picking your meat based on sales  ads.  Be prepared to change your rotation mid stream of you get to the store and they are out of the meat, or it doesn't look good.   

Month one 
  1. Chicken 2-about 5.5 pounds each.    ( RBP 1.00 or less a pound ) (8 meals) 
  2. Ground beef - 7-9 percent fat. ( RBP 3.00 and change a pound ) 6-10 pounds ( 4x2 meals) 
  3. Cheese - white and yellow and eggs - RBP 2.00 a pound and a dozen.   
  4. Fish, or shrimp, or canned tuna or salmon.    - enough for four meals.   
Month two 

  1. 2 chickens - 8 meals 
  2. Pork- either sausage ( Costco has three pound logs) or a pork loin ( RBP 2.00 a pound.) ( 4x2) 
  3. Cheese- eggs (8) 
  4. Fish, shrimp, or canned tuna, salmon (4) 
28 meals each month -
2 chicken 
1 beef
1 pork
2 vegetarian 
1 fish 

Beef and pork are so lot between two months , the other "meat" is purchased  monthly.    
By being flexible, you can fill in the blanks with the most cost friendly items of the month.   

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fred meyer ad for tomorrow

Fred Meyers ads..  It's all about Easter.   Traditionally. It is not a good stock ad when it is a holiday with few exceptions.    Picnic supplies are best stocked around Memorial Day to Fourth of July,  

Spiral ham 1.49
Butter 1.99@@
Milk .99@@
Foster farms .99 whole chicken
Strawberries 2/4
Cantaloupe 2/4

About it.     A good day to stock the dairy.  

Thinking on your feet!

Yesterday we went to th grocery outlet.    For those not living in the PNW, grocery outlet is an overstock store.   You certainly have to know your prices, some things are best suited to a very large family.  They carry a whole wall of organic.    They sometimes carry test market things this don't  fly well.      They can be really a good thing if you can quickly think on your feet.   Obviously, if you don't eat what you buy, you haven't saved any anything.

Example : a few months ago, they had Kraft jalapeño white cheese.   We all like spicy, it was a buck a pound. I was all over it.   After analyzing it, I see why it didn't sell.   Some people would not touch a jalapeño for anything. They just don't  like hot.   The people that like hot, probably weren't all over it because it wasn't that hot.    Like goldilocks, it was just right for us,   The price was right.

Often times, like yesterday, we hit the jackpot.   Dole fruit snacks were .50 and they had no sugar added, very low in carbs considering the volume.  
I had already planned to put  bacon on part of them and cheese. I had a recipe for Mac and cheese with chicken and bacon,    Bacon was .50.     There were two left and I took both of them.   They have to be eaten today..or shortly thereafter.  We already have breakfast for dinner planned.    It worked out fine.  If it hadn't, I would be rearranging the meal plan to fit.

Sara Lee pound cake was frozen and it was gingerbread.    It was fifty cents.   I thawed it and we ate it for desert after dinner with some whip cream.   I put the rest in the fridge and it no doubt will be eaten today.  

I also picked up another taco kit.    It was a buck and had a May pull date.    I make my own taco seasoning to save money.  But, of they are going to give me taco seasoning and taco sauce for more than free, I'm not stupid, I'll take it.  Thank you very much.  The kit is cheaper than buying the taco shells plain from another store.  

I purchased chicken, artichoke and cheese sausage for three dollars.    I figure when the sausage is cit with veggies and cheese, it will have less of the sausage on it along with its excess baggage.  

I saved 75 percent,   Total spent was less than eight dollars.

Buying some things that cheap and incorporating them onto your meals goes a long ways to stretching your food dollar.  

Yesterday we had a Mac and Cheese  with chicken and bacon casserole that was made from sauce that had non fat fry milk in it instead of a high salt and fat alternative.    And broccoli.     Gingerbread pound cake with whip cream for desert.

I have breakfast for dinner and sausage and peppers left on the meal plan.    It just happened that all the processed meat landed at the end of the week.    I might switch one of next weeks meals to spread it out.  

I am trying at is point in time to eat down the pantry and freezer so we start fresh again.    It gives me a better perspective of what we really are so doing on food.    I spend seventy five dollars a week, consistently for several years now.   Ot bumped a little before Winco graced us with their presence.    Haggens did  a number on Albertsons and Safeways price structure.

But, that seventy five dollars a week built and maintained and grew a decent pantry and freezer stockpile.   We could probably eat for four to six  weeks on it.   It's that time to fmthemuear tomdoma pantry and freezer reduction and refill.   The can goods get rotated consistently.  The freezer does not.  
I want to get it back to a fair to eight week rotation on protein.  
Only then will I tell just how low , low is.   Right now, we are at 2/3 of snap and we have grown the stock and maintained it.   Thats not a bad thing, it will get us through the donut hole and if I invested that money, I sire would not have got fifty percent interest on my money.  
Fred Meyers ads are in.   Next post.

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

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

Friday, March 18, 2016

Grocery outlet and dollar tree

We went to Kenmore today.    It was a gorgeous day and the drive is beautiful.
It was very fruitful.     The dollar store netted  three pair of sox for granddaughter and some odds and ends of household maintenance.    The only food was pizza sauce.

The grocery outlet had a lot of fifty cent clearance.  Bacon, fruit snacks, low carb, Sara Lee pound cake,
Chicken artichoke sausage was 2.99.

I saved 75 percent.


Yesterday, I went t a delightful luncheon with friends,   I also worked on my studio and did some housework.    I went to Winco to fill in what I was missing for meals.

I got
Stir fry veggies
Tomatoes, ( Roma's were about a buck a pound )
Strawberries were on sale

4 cheese pasta sauce by Huntsn was .88
Sliced black olives were .58

My ice cream was 2.97

The whole trip took 30 minutes.  

We had BBQ chicken , waffle fries, and green salad for dinner and strawberries with cream for desert.

We are thing to eat down the pantry and freezer.    I have Ben adding a little stock, but mostly fresh perishabkes.  

Oranges were less than a buck a pound in a bag.  

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

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

Thursday, March 17, 2016

5 hacks.

Five kitchen/ shopping hacks.  

  1. Roma tomatoes  are cheaper and you get more bang for your buck because they have more flesh and less seeds.    
  2. Canned diced tomatoes can be used for soups, but also for nachos in a pinch ( drain and reserve juice for soup etc.    
  3. Bagged salads that have nit lost their shrink wrap are best.  Mc they sort gang, they start giving off gases that swell the bag.    
  4. Always check bagged produce. If one piece is bad, you haven't saved anything.  
  5. Fiv pond bags of carrots are the Best Buy.  Baby carrots are just large carrots cut down.   Carrots last a long time on the fridge and are very versitle.   

Winner, winner, not chicken dinner.

Last night we had tacos, refried beans and Spanish rice.   I made the tacos from a kit that. Got st grocery outlet for a buck.   That was less than the cost of the taco shells.    It had the seasoning and the taco sauce.

Hambirger 100
Taco shells 1.00
Rice .15
Salsa. .50
Refried beans. .88
Cheese , lettuce, tomato.    .50+ .75

Some of this is guesstimate.    It's really hard to price minuscule amounts of things.    4.78 and that was five of us and there was leftovers of rice.

Tonight  we are going to have BBQ chicken thighs, French fries and a salad.
Thighs 1/4 of a whole chicken.    1.25
BBQ sauce
Fries 1.00
Salad 1.00

Total 3.25
Sausage, potatoes, peppers, bread

Sausage 3.00, peppers 5/3 ( .50) , potatoes ..40at 5/1.   , bread 1.00 ( brown  and Serve
 1/2 loaf ( Costco)  4.90


Breakfast for dinner
Eggs (8) .88
English muffins .56
Fruit  - oranges and blueberries    3.00

Mac and cheese with chicken and bacon.    ( note this is enough for lunch the next day)
Pasta .50
Bacon 1.00 ( jenne o turkey at the dollar store)
Chicken, in  cubes   1/4 breast.  .75
Cheese.   100
Broccoli.  .65

Total.   3.90

It's not hard to keep a meal for four people under 5.00 if you are diligent at finding protein sources that are under two dollars a pound.    By averaging , you can have a more expensive cut of meat sometimes.  

Haggens rises from the ashes

Haggens will  have half the stores that were sold to Albertsons under  Albertsons management.    The brand will still be visible.     Mostly they will be north and south of here.    This shake up of the industry has been going on for close to two years.    A lot of people lost their jobs and a lot of people have been inconvenienced with closed stores.  Someone wanted to be the biggest in the northwest.  It reminds me of the teenager  that goes through a buffet line and takes all the fruit to prove he's macho and then can't eat all of it.   ......except the reprocussions to other people are far more  out-reaching and devastating.

Albertsons will take over the remaining stores.   This came out of the merger between Safeways and Albertsons.  At this point in time they have slowly incorporated each other's ad campaigns and both ads are virtually identical sans a pic or two.

Of the two stores, Safeways had the best buys and was cleaner in my opinion.   We should see soon how things fall out.

We still have two Kroger stores - QFC and Fred Meyers , Winco, grocery outlet and Costco.   SAMs club is in the next town.    Lately, Winco and Fred Meyers are the best prices.
Our Albertsons is inconvenient to get to.    Safeways is not and th dollar store is nearby.   I like it,when I can clump errands.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Without a PLAN.

I JUST READ AN INTERESTING  ARICLE ON PINTEREST.   Now , we all know that Pinterest is the whole truth and nothing but the truth!    LOL

According to the article, you save three hours, fifty dollars, unlimited stress and net seven healthy dinners instead of 1-2.  

It is true that having a plan and hitting your two grocery stores a week diligently, can save running to the store for everything that you might be out of or forgot.   The least amount of things that  you HAVE to have for meals, the less stress you are going to have.    Trying to remember and do meal plans on the fly is  stressful.

  • Check the ads or favado for a loss leader protein.    Take a quick look at your meat stash and see what will fill on your inexpensive protein.    
  • Using the protein sources you have on hand, jot down seven  dinner plans.    Use a matrix or a theme based matrix to make things, easy.   
  • Check the vegetable bin and note  what needs to be used up.  Make stock!  Blanch and freeze!   Incorporate into your meals.    
  • Add perishables you will need to finish the meals to your list.    
  • Check for good prices on stock items and then check your quantities.    Add to your list of necessary.    
You are done.    
I have a form...fill in the blanks . Note which store has which items on  a good sale.    

A little planning saves a lot of time and money.     

This week, I would have purchased two chickens from Safeways and eggs from Fred Meyers.    
Strawberries are 1.28 at Winco.  

Note six English muffins are two dollars .     Twelve are 1.67 at Fred Meyers.   That is less than 1/ 2 price.    

S c r a t c h

When  is scratch cooking , scratch cooking?      Scratch cooking conjures up thoughts of the commercial of several decades ago where some lady is cooking biscuits out of a can.   Pits flour in her hair and makes like she is slaving over a counter to bake the biscuits or cookies or something.    ...

Scratch cooking is not what it used to be.    No one makes their own crackers, pretzels, or refried beans.   Well, no one I know anyway.  

Convenience food these days is often loaded  with preservatives and salt.   Many times the regular food has been reduced to a lot of fake something..

Groceries on the cheap spends more to,e buying the food than cooking it.    You get paid for finding food 1/2 price in having an adequate supply of food to eat and have on hand in case of an emergency. Buying food 1/2 price is like getting fifty percent on your money.   No bank anywhere is going to give you fifty percent on your money,     Because we all love busy lives, the time o spend shopping and planning is made up by cooking from scratch efficiently.  

If I cook two chickens at the same time, it takes the same oven space, saves power and saves time.   Portion controls save money.    And I am cleaning the kitchen once for eight dinners.    Dinner is a snap when the protein is already cooked.  

We make our own taco seasoning, dry rub, and cream soup base.   There was a time when I made my own biscuit mix, but it takes shortening, and that is something I avoid these days.  

There are some convenience foods that I still buy.   My criteria is is it cheaper than scratch?   Or is it something  that takes a lot of time to make without superior results.  

I'm not going to lay top dollar for so,done else to mix some vegetables  in my chicken and lit it in a bag.    I am going to lay for stir fry vegetables in a bag at Costco, because it is less expensive than buying all those vegetables for a small family.   I can portion control and not waste.  

I buy Bisquick, I buy instant mashed potatoes, and a few a gratin potatoes.   At the cheapest price, they are about the same price as making them from scratch, or cheaper.     Tortillas are inexpensive.   I keep them on the fridge and have them whenever we need them.  

I make our Mac and cheese from scratch with real cheese.   Read the ingredients on the back of the package.   If the first ingredient is the food on the package, you have a winner most of the time.    By keeping boxes of things in moderation, you are getting the best of both worlds.  Too much ready made is not  the best for your health.  

I am starting to learn to cook rice from scratch.     It's better for you than instant and cheaper.    I just have never been able to make it come out good.  

The bottom line is that we eat well.   We eat balanced and a variety of foods.  We always have fresh fruits and vegetables on the house.   And I have consistently fed us on 75.00 a week.    That , right now, is 2/3 of the snap basis.    And, I have built and maintained a stock fir that money.  

I'm not a rocket scientist.    Anyone can do this.   It takes initial planning and some follow up planning,   Actual tome shopping is usually an hour or so a week.  

Shop the same stores,    I pick two chains a week.   Hit the grocery outlet, dollar tree ( name brands only) and Costco on a need to basis or when I am on the area for another errand.  

By shopping the same stores you can direct your own path, and only hit the places you need to be.   This saves a lot of time, avoids impulse buys, and gets you in and out.   I know what I am buying when I walk onto the store.  Only of a coupon matchup hits me between the eyes, or I see an unadvertised special on a staple I, running low on do I deviate........except for a treat for granddaughter every once in a while.....I get to spoil my granddaughter, right!    

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Alberways deals up

tomorrow's deals

I am assuming as usual that Albertsons and safeways have  the same deals.   I am going from favado.

Grapes 1.99
Albertsons lists Foster farms chicken for .87
Nathan's hot dogs are 3.99
Bumble bee solid albacore tuna 125
Broccoli / cauli .99

And wait for IT.........

GRATED CHEESE IS 7.00 a pound!      Lucerne is 5.00 for two pounds.  
Note: it is two dollars a pound at Costco for white at regular Costco,and  2.08 a pound at business Costco.

Strawberries 2/5

That's about alol. Not the best week for stocking except the chicken at Alberways.    LOL

Off the grid.

I have not a clue what to write about today.    Anyone have things they want to read about please comment.  

Yesterday, we had tuna melts.   Fruit salad, amd a green salad with black olives and tomatoes.

I went to Fred Meyers and bought just what was on sale that we needed to fill in our meals.
Eggs were on sale for two dollars for 18.   That's eleven  cents an egg.    .88 for protein a meal is about as cheap as you can get.   We will have breakfast for dinner once a week for the next month.  

I replenished the raspberries.   I always have fresh fruit and veggies in season.

I bought four boxes of cheesy potatoes.   Betty's Crocker made with real potatoes.   They were a dollar each.   I had two coupons for .50 off of two.   There was a .50 Ibotta on them.   Net cost .62.
You can add a small amount of ham to the potatoes, make a salad using hard cooked eggs and vegetables and have a dinner  well unde  a five dollar guideline.

English muffins are the base for our tuna melts.  Fred Meyer always has a l a r g e  bag of English muffins for 3/5 or 1.67 each.    We had tuna melts and still have enough for egg muffins another day.  That is cheaper than Costco.

Coffee was 4.99.   I keep a back up when we open the last coffee, I buy a new one.   I avoid running to the store for one thing like the plague.  Going to the store without a plan is a sure derail manuvere.

We had to go further into town for an errand.   Grocery outlet netted nothing.    Everything was too high priced.   No harm, no fowl, we were already there.   I did check the coffee prices, more
expensive than Fred Meyers.

We were gone 1.5 hours and stopped for our errands for part of that and got gas.

We are full and I only need to fill  in perishables the rest of the month.

  1.  Tacos, refried beans , rice with salsa 
  2. Pizza 
  3. BBQ chicken thighs, French fries, salad 
  4. Pork sausage, potatoes, peppers, bread 
  5. Mac and cheese with chicken and bacon ( Pinterest) 
  6. Breakfast for dinner 
  7. Tuna melts.   , salads 

Monday, March 14, 2016

25 pantry staples

Having a well stocked pantry means that you don't stop and run to the store when you are on the middle of cooking.  Everyone has a stock set of recipes that you use to cook meals.   Your family likes them and they usually are easy to cook.    This makes it easy to keep a pantry and make a meal.

25 pantry items

  1. Olive oil.   Costco is good.     I cook almost exclusively with olive oil.   It boosts your good cholesterol and is a natural oil.    
  2. Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning. Parsley. Chilli powder, cumin, garlic, oregano. Paprika.    All these can be had at the dollar store or at grocery outlet in bulk jars.    Costco has many, but grocery outlet has smaller jars so you can be fresher.
  3. Sugar, brown sugar, flour, cornstarch, baking powder. Non fat dry milk 
  4. Chicken and vegetable stock.   Better than bouillon, or granulas.   Winco has some of that in the bulk isle.    
  5. Coffee, tea, 
  6. Beans, dried, split peas, rice.  Costco had rice for .33 a pound.   Winco had it for a dollar a pound on a bag.    
  7. Pasta. Pasta has a eight year shelf life.    I wouldn't want to keep it that long. But we go through a lot of pasta.   I buy only good brands and I buy it when I can get it less than a buck.  I have bought it for as little as .38.   Coupons for pasta aren't as plentiful as I have seen on the past.    I did get a good brand,without  a lot of variety of shapes at QFC a few weeks ago for .50.    
  8.  Pancake syrup
  9. A brownie mix 
  10. Instant mashed potatoes.   Idahoan makes flavored mashed potatoes and I can get them as cheap as .60 with coupons,    
  11. Diced tomatoes.   Diced tomatoes are tomato product that is the most versatile and often on sale for as little as .38 at Winco, almost always at least one we k a month at Freddie's for .50.   
  12. Beans.   Several varieties.   Also .50 or close to it at Winco and Fred Meyers.    Win is own beans have no preservatives on them.-- just beans, water, and salt.   Always rinse your canned beans and drain off the liquid.    
  13.  Canned green beans , a few corn! 
  14. Chicken noodle soup , tomato soup.  Costco has tomato, roasted red pepper soup for two dollars a box.   It's really good and o out basil, milk, amd cheese to it.   
  15. One each of a backup of catsup. Mustard, mayo.   
  16. Oatmeal, bulk.   (Quacker  oats at Costco) 
  17.  A cake mix in case of an emergency.  
  18. Bread crumbs ( home made ) 
  19. Yeast
  20. Black olives ( a treat) or for pizza and salads.   Slices are .58 at Winco.  
  21. Refried beans 
  22. Cream soup mix ( scratch) 
  23. A box of a gratin  potatoes ( Betty Crocker is sometimes BOGO with coupons at the dollar store.   
  24. A box of suddenly salad.  I was buying them on the summer for as little as .75.   
  25. Salsa 
With this stock, I can always make a meal without going to the store with a few added staples from the fridge or freezer.  We always have grated cheese, eggs, and my rotation meat.    Fresh carrots and celery.   They are cheap and can fill in any number of dishes from soup to roasted root vegetables with a chicken breast.   

Hope this helps. If you are just starting out. Don't expect to get all of,this on one trip to the store.  It takes time.  When you have s well stocked pantry, life is a lot easier.    Your scope of shopping just got easier.    There are on,y a few that nags you HAVE to purchase, and you don't have to try to remember that last little thing to make a recipe.     

You are looking for a loss leader protein that you don't already have , fresh produce to fill in your meals, dairy , and a stock item of you find one and need it.   

Protein sources and what they make

Obviously, what protein sources you use will be your personal preference.....within reason.  

I am going to try and identify common ones and what can be made from them.  Variety of good when cooking on the cheap. It keeps things fresh and not boring.   That being said, I don't know a child that wouldn't just love speghetti and meatballs or pizza  every night.    lol.  

  • Chicken.  Target price 1.00 or less a pound.    I only want Foster farms.    Whole chicken is your Best Buy unless you get split breasts for .98 like I did  last week.    Sometimes Winco has thighs for .58; they come out of Idaho.    I roast a whole chicken or cook it on the crockpot and divide it into t breast portions, the dark meet and the bones and broth for soup.    Thighs can be roasted off and either cooked with BBQ sauce or shredded for tacos of pulled chicken sandwiches.   
Chicken pot pie
Roast chicken dinner 
BBQ dark meat , fries , salad 
Chicken and noodles 
Chicken soup.  
Buffalo chicken pizza 
Chicken and bacon Mac and cheese 
Chicken taco
 Chicken enchiladas  
Chicken burritos.    
Chicken Quesedas 
Chicken impossible pie 

Pork loin roast or pork  sirloin,   
Slice off pork chops 
Section off a roast and roast on the oven.    
Slice off thin sliced for BBQ pork sandwiches.   
Cut some into cubes for stew, soup, tacos. Pork hero.   

Cheese : white and cheddar.    Grated cheese is cheaper and gives you more bang for your buck.    When  I grated a block of cheese, we went through four pounds in a week.   The finer grate stretches the cheese.    Target price 2.00 a pound.   Usually at Costco, but you sometimes can do better at grocery outlet.   
Mac and cheese
Cheeseburger macaroni. (scratch) 

Ground beef - 7 percent fat.   Best price o see these days s 3.18 a pound at Winco.    Keep your eyes peeled, it's not always advertised.    I buy between three and six pounds.    I make meatloaf. Meatballs, taco meat and crumbles.   Defat the taco meat and crumbles.    Meat balls are baked on the oven on a sheet pan that has a metal screen on top to wick away the fat.    Meatloaf is cooked on
meatloaf pan  that wicks away the fat.    It's not healthy to cook meatloaf on its own juices.    

Red sauce 
Meatloaf with baked potatoes 
Meatballs with spaghetti. (Red sauce) 
Meatballs over noodles ( white sauce ) 
Meatballs over rice ( sour cream sauce) 
BBQ meatball sub 
Meatballs with brown gravy.   

Tomato basil, Gorgonzola soup and toasted cheese sandwichesn

Pepperoni pizza ( pepperoni is 1/2 price at .50 with coupons at dollar store) 
Sausage, potatoes, peppers.   

Beans and rice 

Breakfast for dinner 

Cobb salad 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

getting started, now what.

You have an empty fridge and pantry.    How do you proceed.  

Start my taking your total monthly amount you have for food and divide it by 4.2 ( the number of weeks in a month) .

Now, you are going to divide that figure up by food groups.    Protein is going to take more, followed by dairy and vegetables, staples.

Week 1
Staying in budget, find two loss leader proteins.   Buy enough for eight meals each.  - two per week.   Obviously you aren't going to buy the most expensive meats in the store, and portion control for use in a stirfry or a casserole, tacos, or something you can stretch meat with.  

Fill in with dairy and veggies, maybe a pasta package.

Plan really inexpensive meals to fill out.  A vegetable bean soup. Mac and cheese, eggs.  Use two meals of each protein, and fill in.
Week 2
Next  week, add a loss leader and buy the dairy and vegetables you need to complete meals add a
stock staple in modera
Week 3 concentrate on the perishables you you need to fill out our meals and stick what you can stock  on.

While you are building a stock, pick  vegetables that are plentiful and cheap.    Add frozen peas and

carrots , or just peas.   Buy just what you need in dairy, provided you are not paying  a premium  for a small container.

This is the hardest stretch month you will have.   You are building a protein rotation.    Decide  your protein rotation ahead of time and watch for really good loss leaders.   They won't happen all in the same week.  Occasionally, I find two in a week.

Sausage, cheese, and tilapia are pretty stable prices at Costco and Winco.    Costco is the cheapest for the best quality in sausage in a three pound tube.   You should be able to get six  meals for a proverbial family of four out of a tube.    Cook crumbles and use in pizza, in eggs , in soup.......

Cheese is a staple around our house.  We go through five pounds of white and 5 pounds of yellow in a month to six weeks.    Cheapest at Costco...about twenty dollars for both.    Cheese can make a cheap dinner.

Good hamburger 7 percent, is hard to find on a loss leader.     It happens, but they don't always advertise it.    You have to have an eagle  eye.  

Whole chickens are pretty easy to find ( Foster farms ) for a buck or less.    So,etimes there are chicken thighs at Winco for .68.  

Pick three loss leaders, enough for 8 meals each.   Portion control.  You are based on six ounces of protein a day.      Use cuts while you set yourself up that can be put in pizza, soups, casseroles, tacos with some beans...etc.  in other words s t r e t c h.
Rotate 2 a week of 3 proteins and add a vegetarian.   Make sure you get a lot of cheese in case you

misjudge the protein.   You can always fill in with Mac and cheese and pizza or soup and toasted cheese sandwiches.  

Examples :
First week. Buy two chickens.   Cook. Divide into 2 half breasts, the dark meat, amd soup bones and stock.  Buy 5 pounds of cheese.  About 20.00 worth of meats/ protein.  Bisquick, eggs, carrots, celery, potatoes  2 cans of tomatoes and 2 cans of beans. Dairy

  • Chicken soup, cheesy biscuits 
  • Roast chicken dinner with root vegetables 
  • Pizza 
  • Mac and cheese 
  • Vegetable bean soup
  • Eggs, pancakes, fruit 
  • Potato soup.   

Second week.   Loss leader  pork loin.   @ 1.69.    Buy about five or six pounds.   Or pork sirloin for about the same price.    Cut 1/2 inch slices off for a pork chop Dinner.   Roast a small 2 pound section, and then cut the rest into cubes.    Portion for  8 dinners.    You can make tacos, roast pork.  Thinly slice the left over roast for BBQ pork sandwiches.   Pork pie, or stew.    
You still have chicken and cheese.    So. Prolly 2 pork meals, 2 chicken meals, 2 vegetarian with
cheese and a breakfast for dinner.    

Third week: let's say you got 7 percent hamburger.   Buy six pounds.  two pound meat loaf, 2 pounds of golf ball or smaller sized Meat balls, and the rest of cumbles or taco meat.  Portion onto 8 meals.    

Now, you will have 2 beef, 2 chicken, 2 pork, amd a vegetarian or a fish.    

Fourth week, add another opposit. Color of grated cheese/ and or a bag of fish.     This s a wk to try and replenish dairy and stock for the next month.    

Of course, you need to adjust your sources of protein to suit the needs and tastes of your family.   There are a lot of recipes out  there for very good meals that use smaller amounts of protein.   We have a fee meals with a "Slab" of meat.   For the ,oat part, using smaller pieces and adding them to other ingredients  uses less meat.    Sloppy joes use less than a hamburger would.  You can add beans to taco meat.   Or use refried beans on the bottom of the taco shell and add meat amd cheese.  Remember. Cheese is a protein too,  So you can use less meat and still get six ounces of protein a day.    

Chicken thighs at .68 a pound can be cooked and shredded for pulled chicken sandwiches or tacos.   
Or cook, add BBQ sauce homemade at the last minute and serve with home style fries or French fries (3.00 and change at Winco for five pounds.   

Our matrix for meals is 2 beef, 2 pork or chicken, 2 vegetarian, and  a fish or shellfish.    By rotating a loss leader a week, and identifying what kinds of protein you are going to buy, you can eat well.   On a 75.00 a week budget, I would plan twenty dollars for a protein.     
That buys: 
4 chickens 
10 pounds of pork sirloin. 
6 pounds of ground beef (7 percent) .
6 pounds of pork sausage at Costco (Jimmy Dean ) 
10 pounds of cheese ( Costco)

That is less than four dollars a day.    The best way to assure that you have good food all. Moth is to buy loss leader protein. Buy vegetables and fruit in season, the dairy you need, and stock items you find at RBP.  By making meal plans and portion control, you can have food on the pantry at the end of the month.   With some families, if you put a whole chicken on front of them, they will eat a whole chicken.   Dietary guidelines say six ounces of protein a day.   No one needs a whole chicken.   

After you get to the point where you are stocked, it's easy just to go to the store and buy your staples to fill in and a loss leader.  Some weeks, you won't have to go at all.    Your pantry will
have the ingredients for a. A fiery of ,eat you amd you can meal plan from the from the freezer and pantry.   

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Meal plans

  • Meatballs and rice w sauce , stir fry mixed veggies : zucchini, carrots, celery, peas, peppers 
  • Pizza ( parents night out) salad. 
  • Tuna melts , salad 
  • Sausage, potatoes, peppers,  rolls , salad 
  • Breakfast for dinner 
  • Tacos, refried beans and Spanish rice 
  • BBQ chicken thighs fries, green salad 

Fred Meyers ad for tomorrow.

Quick Fred Meyer ad

Ham 1.49
Grapes 1.99
Broccoli, cauli.  .99
Milk 4/5
Corned beef 3.99

Fred Meyers
Grapes 1.88
Pot roast 3.47
Point cut corned beef 2.77
Best foods 2.49@@
Sour cream/ cottage cheese ,99@@
Hillshire farm sausage 2/5@@
Berries 2/5
Cream cheese ,99@@
18 count eggs 1.99@@

Saturday madness

Yesterday, QFC had a coupon for a free Marie Cahlanders  chicken pot pie; I ate it for lunch.   I love free.    It goes a long ways to stretching your food dollar.    I feed is on less than four dollars a day and we don't eat beans and rice everyday, omit whole food groups, and starve,    None of us are overweight,

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

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

With the lack of sales ads last week, I had to resort to going to the stores and making a quick glance of the in store ads or just walking the store.   It doesn't take long, I can get in and our of a store pretty quickly.  If an isle doesn't have what I need or use, I skip it.    That means I am going down about four isles and across the back of grocery outlet. The freezer is full, so I skipped the frozen isle. I checked the coffee price and moved on to the cheese that I did need.   I stopped by QFC for meds and picked up grapes because they were cheaper and better quality than anywhere else.    Fred Meyers was a planned trip as well as Winco.    They have been my go to chains since Haggens took over Alberways and jacked the prices up.   I go when there is something I need and it's a loss leader.    I plan trips to piggy back on to other errands to save on gas.   We have a very fuel efficient car.    I hit QFC for meds when I got my haircut.   I hit grocery outlet when I had business deliveries to make.    I hit Winco after the doctors.    That means  that Fred Meyers was the only store I went to by itself.   I had planned the trip and knew exactly what I was going to buy.   It made getting in and out fast.    I probably spent less time on all four stores than if I had walked Costco and got in and out of its parking lot.    lol.  I don't do two hundred dollar grocery hauls.   Most of the time my ticket is 15-30 dollars a store.   Sometimes less.  We go to Costco on a need to basis.   It's close to the house and we get gas at the same time.     

I brought home the split chicken breast from Fred Meyers and deboned  them and made stock from the bones.   We'll have chicken soup for lunch.   Mid week, I cleaned out the fridge and noted what needed to be used and what we needed to fill in for perishables for the  weeks meals.   

I can't emphasize enough how important it is to know the answer to what's for dinner question at least early on the day.    It affords you the ability to plan to use up all your perishables  and not waste.   It also staves off the order pizza demons.    lol.   It gives children a sense of security.   

I don't spend a lot of time cooking.   I have found ways to cook things with passive cooking.    I am 70 years old and I am still learning,   I try new things.   I tried rice in the crock pot.  I used a controlled amount of rice so that I wasnt wasting a lot if it was a bust!   I tried brown rice in the microwave.  It works out better for us and is very easy.   You can cook the rice while you cook the rest of the dinner or earlier in the day.   Just remember, rice and beans are not supposed to be left out of the fridge after cooking  more than two hours and not in the fridge when they are in a dish more than two days.   These things spoil fast. It's not worth a few cents of rice or beans to make your family sick.    

Tonight we are having breakfast for dinner.    Last night we had a salmon noodle casserole with peas  and fruit salad.   The cantaloupe I bought for two dollars a fofty cents Sunday was really ripe.   We ate some last night and I out the rest on a green box so that it quit ripening until I got it used up.    We will have fruit again for dinner with our eggs and hash browns.  

Next weeks plans are done and are coordinated to use up things we need to use before pull dates.  I got taco shells with the sauces for a buck at grocery outlet.  It has an April pull date.   Well eat them this week.    
We have a fair amount of lettuce, so we will have salad a few times.    I bought lettuce for the tacos.   We have more burritos and enchiladas on the winter when lettuce is at a premium or doesn't look good.    Flexibility helps stretch your food dollar because you can use the things that are cheap on the marketplace  at any particular point in time.   

The Sunday paper is here.   Will post Fred Meyers on another blog.