Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween : Insta Pot chili

Halloween brings back memories of chilli on the stove  when we got home from school.   There wasn't microwaves or insta pots those days.   There was a deep well cooker on the stove.

Insta Pot Chili

1.5 cups dry pinto beans

2 T olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
2 T garlic

1.5 lbs ground meat, cooked

5T taco seasoning
2T cocoa powder ( not hot cocoa mix )
Salt, pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne

4 cups beef broth
2 cups crushed tomatoes ( diced tomatoes can be zapped in the blender.

Rinse and drain the beans.   Place in insta pot with enough water to be 1 inch over the beans.   Process 5 minutes.  Use a natural release.

Drain beans.

Switch to sauté mode.   Sauté vegetables in olive oil.   Add seasonings.

Switch sauté mode off.  Add drained beans, cooked meat, broth and tomatoes.   Process on manual setting 20 minutes.   Allow for a natural release.

Serve with cheese, tortilla chips, avacado, sour cream.....

Monday, October 30, 2017

Kitchen Management - October 30th 2017

Kitchen management is a tool that saves time and energy with dinners in mind.   Meal prep in advance and a rotation of deep cleaning chores help keep you on top of things.

  • Turn on snappy music....you work faster.LOL. 
  • Disinfect counter tops, sinks, and drains. 
  • Wash kitchen floor. 
  • Clean out refrigerator and note things to be incorporated into meals.  
  • Wash veggies you are going to use this week with vinegar and a dedicated brush if appropriate. 
  • Precook anything that can be precooked.   Cook rotation meat if appropriate.
  • Wash the stove and put the filter through the dishwasher.   (1st of the month) 
  • Straighten the pantry.   
  • Bake something.   

Fred Meyer Haul

Fred Meyer and the buy 10, save 5

This only works if the end cost is at or lower than your RBP.

Swiss Miss cocoa packets 1.00

2 avacadoes at .88. (Chicken Burrito Bowls )

2 spaghetti ( charity) .50

1 mission low carb tortillas


Kleenex - 160 ct tissue .99

Bag cranberries 3.00

Butter 3.00

Parmesean cheese 3.59

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Meal plans

Meal plans take a couple of mnutes , but make life a whole lot easier.  Its the answer to “What’s for Dinner and goes a long way towards making your meals for efficient.  It aids in the concept of using everything up out of the fridge and avoiding waste.

  • Sloppy Joes, oven fries, veggie platter 
  • Chilli ....traditional Halloween fare.  
  • Chicken stir fry 
  • Salmon cakes, rice, broccolli (make rice once, eat twice) 
  • Chicken burrito bowls 
  • Pork Pot Pie.  Fruit salad 
  • Breakfast for Dinner 
Notes : 
  1. We have buns to use up.   
  2. Chili  is easily made in the insta pot, or its on sale at Alberways this week.  Its a traditional Halloween fare.   Warm the children’s tummy before they go out in the cold. LOL 
  3. Chicken stir fry and the burrito bowls are stair step menus.  Cook once, eat twice. Ditto the rice. 
  4. Breakfast for dinner is a mainstay here.  Its a family affair and everyone does something. Granddaughter a few years ago got the job of buttering the bread.   She got half way through and announced, “I cant believe I get to do this!”
Stair stepping ingredients is another way to save time in the kitchen.   
Spending more time planning and shopping, and less time cooking scratch is to your benefit. 
You don't get paid to cook, but spending some planning and research on the shopping end can save a lot of money.   It can very well cut your food bill in half or more without sacrificing good nutrition.  
My aim is for balanced meals: protein, starch, fruit or veggies and avoiding too much salt, sugar, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and HFCS.  


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Fred Meyer Sunday ad

Halloween sale :   3 days = doesn’t say what days....assuming SMT

Apple juice .99
Hebrew National Hot dogs. 2.99
Ground turkey 2/5

Foster Farms boneless chicken breasts 1.97
Avocados .88

Yogurt : tillamook or yoplait 10/5 **

Buy 10, save 5
Net costs
Land of lakes butter 2.99
Chilli or progresso soup .99 $$
Milk .99
Campbells cr/mushroom or chicken noodle .75**
Cocoa mix .99
Sparkling cider 1.99
Tide 5.49
Kleenex tissue  -160 count .99

Canned corn or green beans 2/1 -RBP
Peanut butter 1.49
 Strawberries blackberries 2/5

** soup usually has a coupon
** yoplait is a better price because there are coupons for a dime off each carton.

I got canned veggies for .39 , but that was with a basket coupon.  My RBP is 50 cents for diced tomatoes, beans, and veggies.  

Friday, October 27, 2017

Bullets: soups in the insta pot

It was dark at 7:30 this morning....time for hot hearty soups and a chunk of bread for dinner . These soups can be made in the insta pot in minutes, or can be made in a slow cooker early in the day and make the house smell divine all day.   

  • Ham and bean soup 
  • Vegetable bean soup with or without sausage 
  • Potato soup/ potato cheese soup, clam chowder
  • Pumpkin or butternut squash soup 
  • Chilli 
  • Lentil stew 
  • Minestrone

Recipes on request 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Basket coupon qfc and costco haul

So here goes....I was .04 over!

Treat bags .30
Ice cream 2.77
Beef patties 7.99X2
Sargento cheese 3.50X2 less 1.00 coupon
Dishwashing tabs 5.00
Paper towels 5.00
Chicken dunking lunchable 1.00
Pumpkin pie 3.99

Net 30.04


Bananas 1.39
Bacon 16.99
Blue cheese 7.63
Parm 10.49

Planning for a basket coupon

Making the best use of a basket coupon means you need to keep your basket total to as close as you can to the amount of the coupon’s basket dollars.   In other words , if the coupon is for 10.00 off of a forty dollar basket, you are going to get 25 percent off if you stick to forty dollars worth of merchandise.   It is also helpful if you only buy the things that are on a real sale and use coupons if you can.   I have got as much as 78 percent off using basket coupon, regular coupons and sale prices. It pays to plan.   We have more time than we do money.   We are retired.  If you dont have time, enlist help.   Children at early ages are computer savy.   A pre teen can click take items on a coupon web site for the things that they know you buy on a regular basis.  

QFC master plan 10 dollars off of forty

  • 1 lunchable 1.00
  • 2 pkg. hamburgers 7.99
  • 1 pkg bounty paper towels 2/10
  • 1 pkg cascade dishwashing detergent 
  • 1 pumpkin pie 3.99
  • 2 sargento sliced cheese 2/7 -use coupon 
  • 1 Tillamook   ice cream 2.77 
40.74 less .55 coupon is 40.19

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Chain store ads


Fresh whole chicken .77 ( Mystery brand name)
Gala apples, or Bartlett pears .67
Top or bottom round roast 2.77 ***
Nalley’s chilli .88@@

Coleslaw and garden salad .99
Cucumbers .69

Friday only
Avocados 5/5
Foster farms breaded chicken 5.00

Honeycrisp apples 1.49
Tillamook ice cream 2.77
Avocados 2/3

** at 2.77 for roast, it would be a good time to grind your own hamburger.   Less price, low fat because you control the fat.  

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Lists .. for emergencies.

My goal for Groceries on the Cheap is to maintain a small stock of the basic foods we iuse to cook .
By shopping your pantry instead of going to the store an buying 1 weeks worth of garoceries you can cut your food bill because you are never paying full price for your food.   Top dollar was my mother’s buzz word.   The trick is to assess what you use on a regular basis, design meal plans to work with a minimum of proteins, and decide how far out you can buy food.   Usually four to six weeks will afford you the luxury of finding another sale.   Buying too much that can go stale dated is not in your best interest.  

One key to make life easy is to make an informed decision on a limited variety of meat.   We stick to chicken breast, hamburger , pork loin and sausage.   I can get all of these.except good hamburger, for 2.00 or less a pound.   All of these are versitle cuts of meat.   The internet and Pinterest are full of recipes.  This affords enough variety of meals so we don’t get bored.  

I’m not going to pretend that this doesn’t take work to get set up.  Once you have set yourself up, itnactually takes less time than trying to remember if you have all the ingredients to make something for dinner.    Stick to basics.  

We are going to have a harsh winter, according to the weather people.   Its a good time to stock because stocking reduces the stress of having to embrace the weather to go out shopping.   Stocking assures you the luxury of never being out of food.  

Things to stock in case of emergency.  

  • Dry milk:  you can get dry milk that has fat in it.   It’s a lot better tasting than the non fat version that we had as children.  It is more expensive than regular milk, but it is a good thing in a pinch.   There are also shelf stable milks these days.  I don't drink them, but my daughter does.
  • Yeast:   Storage in freezer prolongs its life.   It is a staple here, so we use it up.   There are recipes for easy breads.   The most economical way to buy it is in a bulk block at Costco. —like three dollars or so.   
  • Flour:   Another staple here, we buy it in the 25 lb bag.   
  • Eggs.   A few dehydrated eggs are a good thing. 
  • Water - especially if you rely on a well for your water.   
With those shelf stable ingredients, and canned goods you can survive without going to the store for some time and still maintain a regular diet.   

Bleep storms happen to everybody sometimes.   We have had emergency surgeries, the snow plow dump the snow in front of our driveway that turned to a big ice mound, any number of things can happen.   Having basic ingredients that are usually purchased fresh goes a long way to reducing your stress.   We have power outages here because of storms and trees.  We keep logs and a power box charged and oil lamps and battery powered candles.   

Cutting your food bill in half or less affords you the opportunity even on a small budget to prepare for emergencies—small or large.   

No spend October meals

  1. Hamburgers, french fries, salad 
  2. Soup, beer bread
  3. Pizza 
  4. Hamburgers, oven fries, salad 
  5. Stuffed baked potato bar. 
  6. Tuna casserole, peas and carrots, apple dump cake 
  7. Hamburgers, french fries, veggie sticks 
  8. Pumpkin pancakes, turkey bacon, fruit 
  9. Sausage and cheese quiche, broccoli
  10. Potato soup with bacon , rolls 
  11. Night out 
  12. Pizza
  13. Spaghetti with meatballs  
  14. Fish and chips 
  15. Egg mc muffins, strawberries 
  16. Soup, bread
  17. Sausage patties, hash browns, fruit 
  18. Pot roast soup 
  19. Sausage., eggs, fruit 
  20. Salmon, rice medley, broccolli, blackberries
  21. Potato cheese soup, peasant breads
  22. Quiche, fruit cup 
  23. Chicken and noodles 
  24. Pizza
  25. Tacos
  26. Pizza

Monday, October 23, 2017

Monday Kitchen Managemenat

Kitchen Management is a tool you can use to save time and some of the stress of dinner time and rotation  chores for deep cleaning.

Review of meal plans:

  1. Pork stew, w potatoes and carrots, bread 
  2. Pizza
  3. Chicken and noodles, carrots and peas r
  4. Enfrijoladas 
  5. Chicken parm 
  6. Salmon cakes, rice medley, broccoli 
  7. Breakfast for dinner 

  • Wash and disinfect kitchen counters and sinks and drains. 
  • Wash kitchen floor. 
  • Wax east side cabinets. 
  • Clean drip pans 
  • Clean out fridge and incorporate anything that needs to be eaten soon in your meals. 
  • Wash potatoes and carrots.  
  • Make refried beans if necessary . 
  • Check mixes and make any that are low. 
  • Bake hard cooked eggs with the remainder of the last batch of eggs. Place an egg in each muffin cup of a muffin pan , bake at 350 for 30 minutes.   Immediately , dumps eggs into a bowl of ice water.   
  • Bulk cook any rotating meat if necessary.  Ours is sausage that needs to be fried and de-fatted.   
  • Wash fruit .   
  • Precook dinner if appropriate.   

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Mini Hauls

Yesterday we went to Winco  and Dollar Tree.    At Dollar Tree i purchased a lined , white board that had the capital and lower case letters on it.  It is so granddaughter can practice her letters.

I also got :
4 cans pumpkin
1 package chocolate covered graham crackers
(Because everyone needs chocolate!)
1 package pepperoni -didnt have a coupon.

At winco we just bought a bag of potatoes.

Planning to get blackberries and eggs at Fred Meyers.

Meal Plans

A note on perspective —we have a ton of carrots to use up because we had a vegetable try last week . Some meals didnt happen last week, we had alternatives so they are reappearing on the meal plan.   Pizza and breakfast for dinner are staples in this house.  

  1. Pork stew , with carrots, potatoes, celery.   Bread 
  2. Pizza
  3. Chicken and noodles in the insta pot.  Add carrots and peas 
  4. Enfrijoladas. Greens, tomatoes, salsa,sour cream
  5. Chicken parm, speghetti, greens, bread
  6. Salmon patties, rice medley, broccolli 
  7. Breakfast 4 dinner. 
  1. pork stew meat comes from the end of a pork loin.  Pork loin is 2.00 this week.   A little higher than I like to pay, I have some in the freezer that I got for 1.79.  Using up carrots.   
  2. Pizza costs 1.04....a little cheaper now that we got cheese for 2.05 a lb.   
  3. trying chicken and noodles in the insta pot—four minutes.   
  4. Enfrijoladas are a new to me Tex mex dish from Betty Crocker.  
  5. Chicken parm is a good go to when you dont have a lot of time.   Pasta was purchased on sale for .72 and sauce for .59.   
  6. Salmon patties from canned salmon from costco bought on sale for 3.00 off a ‘case” .  Aka stack.  
  7. Breakfast for dinner.  Eggs are .78 at FM (kroger) .   
Getting virtually everything on sale at as close to 1/2 price as I can and limiting the diversity of products is how I feed us on about 40 percent of the USDA stats for “poor” people.   They call it thrifty.   We eat well.  We eat balanced.  There is always fresh fruit in the house of some kind.  This week it’s will probably be bananas, apples, blackberries, blueberries, and grapes.   I make our own bread sometimes.   I also have been getting orowheat bread , double fiber, for a dollar at the DT.   
I limit my meat purchases to split chicken breast (foster farms). Whole pork loin that I butcher myself, and extra lean (7-10 percent ) ground sirloin and we eat meatless about 2 times a week.   

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fred Meyer Sunday ad

Ground sirloin (10%) fat 3.77

Apples 1.49

Eggs .79

Blackberries .99

Sour cream 2/4

Red Barron 2.88. $$

Hebrew National hot dogs 3.49

Pumpkin pie 3.99

Half Pork Loi. 1.99 (top of my target list price )

My vote for the best place to shop this week would be Alberways .   Safeways has a just for you basket coupon for 5 off of 25.  If you stay close to 25, thats 20 percent.

They have diced tomatoes , greenbeans and corn for .49. Which with a basket coupon.makes them .39.   A good time to stock up for the winter.   Diced tomatoes are the most versatile of the tomato products and I saw BPA free cans at Safeways.

Don’t underestimate the close out bin at qfc.   I got pasta sauce for .79.   Our QFC had a 25 percent basket coupon that made it .59.   Add sale Barilla pasta, some parm cheese, and a can of green beans and a loaf of peasant bread and you have a meal for four at a cost of 2.30. TOTAL. Not per plate.
You can still use coupons on the closeout baskets.   One time I got low sodium beans for free.

Using every available means of discounting food is a way to cut your grocery bill dramatically.  We are averaging less than 55.00 a week for the first three quarters of the year/.  Last year it was 72.00.   Since then, I bought a  insta pot and that allowed me to scratch cook rice and beans and make scratch cooking easier.   I spend an hour to an hour and a half on Mondays doing kitchen management . But, I rarely spend more than twenty minutes at dinner time making dinner.  The  55.00 includes maintaining a small stock.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Peasant Bread

3 cups flour
1-3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water. 105-110 degrees

Mix ingredients.  Cover.   Let rest on counter 12-24 hours

Turn onto floured counter.  Fold on itself to shape into a round or loaf

Heat oven safe Dutch oven in 450 degree oven until oven comes up to temp.

With very good oven mitts, remove lid from pan in oven .  Place bread dough in pan.  Cover an bake covered for 30 minutes.   Again, with very good oven mitt, remove lid and cook an additional 10-20 minutes or until bread is 200 degrees.

Extremely easy recipe.  The hardest part is to be every careful and use proper oven mitts so you don’t burn yourself.   Always have a designated safe place to set hot pans.   It’s helps to make a sling out of parchment paper to drop the dough into the pan,

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What to do with what you got.

Leftovers in refrigerator

Part of a veggie tray:
Baby carrots 
Grape tomatoes 
Celery sticks 

Some grapes 
Strawberries 🍓 looking a little old. 
Lettuce, designer and regular 


Cooked turkey bacon 
Cooked sausage including patties 
Refried beans 

  1. Sausage and potatoe stew with carrots 
  2. Penne with chicken and broccolin. Uses the broccoli in the veggie tray  
  3. Salad , with cucumbers, tomato
  4. Dry strawberries 
  5. Pizza with grape tomatoes, sausage
  6. Taco pie uses the leftover refried beans 
  7. Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Safeways and qfc haul

Total savings were a minimum of 53 and 55 percent.  

Basket 20 percent coupon. (5 off 25)
Saltine crackers .97 lb. .77
12 green beans at .49 ea .39
12 corn at .49/.39
24 diced tomatoes, 12 w jalapeño, 12 with Italian at .49/.39
2 lb green grapes .99/.79
 Basket coupon for 5.00

Total 21.41.

Buy 4, save 4
10.00 basket coupon
2 lb pkg bulk sausag 2.40 less .62 nets 1.87
V8 juice (2) 1.99 save 1.00 plus .50 off
6 closeout pasta sauce from 1.29 to .79 plus 20 cents off
Goldfish .99 plus .20 off
Tomatoes 1.14. Less .28
2 lb cheese less 25 percent is 5.49 plus 20 percent 2.05 a lb
Sausage ,on closeout 1.99 or 1.50
Blackberries and raspberries 3/5 or 3/3.75
Brawny paper towels 4.99 or 3.74

Total spent 30.79 less 3.74 for non food is 27.05

Total is 48.46

Total product 121.89

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Chain store ads

I have a ten dollar off basket coupon for qfc, but I cant justify using it with this weeks ad.   

Black and raspberries 3/5

Tomatoes on the vine .88

Progresso soup - buy 8.  .99 there are coupons, but I only have one, need two. 

Nathans hot dogs 3.49

Buy 4, save 4 

Brawny towels 4.99
Goldfish .99
V8 juice 1.99


Grapes .97

Bread .67

With in ad coupons 
Chunky soup .99
Saltines .97

Case lots:  you have to buy the case 

Ragu 12 only 1.19 total 14.28

Diced tomatoes 12 only .49 total 5.88

Green beans/ corn .49. 5.88

Refried beans 24 only .59 total 14.16 

Beans 12 only .49 total 5.88

Taco Pie

This is a taco pie recipe that I used to make all the time.   

I used a round pie type pan with straight sides and a lid.   Almost any baking dish will work   —just cut the tortillas to fit.   

Layer in a  greased baking pan. 
  • Tortilla 
  • Refried beans 
  • Tortilla 
  • Taco meat, cooked 
  • Chees
  • Repeat:   
Top with salsa.   

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until the cassarole is heated through .   

Top with sour cream, salsa, lettuce, tomato, peppers, whatever you have and prefer.   

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Meal Plans week of 10/16

Meal plans are the first start in kitchen management.   They take away a lot of stress and avoid the take out gremlins.  

  1. Soup/ bread 
  2. Pizza
  3. Pork stew/ rolls 
  4. Insta Pot Chicken and Noodles , carrots 
  5. Salmon, rice medley, mixed vegetables 
  6. Tacos re-fried  beans
  7. Breakfast for dinner.   

Notes :    

  • Soup is a good meal when people are coming home at different hours.
  • Pizza is a mainstay and cost 1.04 each 
  • Pork stew is made from the ends of the pork loin where they taper down.   You can get two small roasts, stew, and center cut pork chops from a whole pork loin.   Cost is between 1.49 and 1.79 for RBP.   Its 1.99 for a half loin this week here. 
  • Insta pot chicken and noodles.  - four minutes, thicken the stock after cooking.  
  • Rice medley is a homemade mix with chicken stock and herbs.   
  • Taco shells were purchased on a sale, basket coupon and coupons for .66
  • Eggs have taken a hike, but we have dehydrated eggs.  Alternative is pancakes or waffles, a breakfast meat, and fruit in season.  Strawberries are really cheap here this week.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fred Meyer ad for Sunday

Not much, but some of it is good,

Foster Farms Whole Chicken .87
Grapes .99
Tomatoes on the vine .99
Butter 2.99
Pork Half Loin 1.99

Tri tip steak.4.99

The pork loin is at the top of my RBP amount.
Chicken is a good buy .

Friday, October 13, 2017

The basics

Groceries on the cheap takes a different approach to purchasing food and getting food cooked and on the table.

Assuming we all live busy lives and have a limited amount of time to manage the get meals on the table, the approach is to spend more time planning and shopping, and less time cooking scratch food. It sounds impossible to spend less time scratch cooking, but it is entirely possible.
We call it efficient cooking.

The concept boils down to five segments.  Some are easy fixes and some will take a while.   One step at a time.   The basic concept is rather than going to a store an buying just what you need for one week, you go to the store to replenish a pantry of items you use on a regular basis.   You cook from your pantry.   The simpler the list of ingredients, the better.

  1. The simplest ever. Go to multiple stores.     If you are going to one store and buying just what you need for a weeks worth of meals, the odds are against you.  The monetary odds are rigged in favor of the house just like when one would go to a casino.   Study the ads and pick 2 chain stores that have the  best prices .  This gives you the advantage of two sets of sale prices and two options for fresh produce.  Don’t overlook overstock stores or the Dollar store.  
  2. Bulk buy what makes sense for your family when the cost is dramatically different.   It just makes sense to buy things you use on a daily or almost daily basis in bulk.   For us , it is oatmeal, flour, rice.  We don’t eat enough beans to use a bulk bag before they go bad. Not everything at the warehouse stores is a great buy  
  3. Know your prices.  Find the rock bottom price on the things you buy on a regular basis.  Most families have a list of ten or so different meals.  List 10 -14  meals your family likes that use inexpensive sources of protein .   Make a list of shelf stable or frozen ingredients that you will use to make these dishes.   Its a project that you only have  to do once.   Now , find the RBP on these things.  Simplify.  The less things you have to buy, the less prices you have to remember.  Use a small spiral bound notebook if you need to.   (They are three in a package at the Dollar Tree). My mother used to say “ Some people could have a bargain get up and bite them in the butt,and not see it”. Don’t be that person.   When something is at a RBP. Buy as much as you can, as much as the store will allow, or as much as you need to fill in your stock, whichever comes first.  Stock a set amount of items.   Base the amount of your stock on how much you need for a particular number of meals .  Say three months, or enough to last you until you think they will go on sale again.   Its easier for me to set a particular amount of shelf space and when I see white shelf, its time to look for a sale.  The object is to NEVER PAY FULL PRICE FOR ANYTHING.  
  4. Every chain store has a ‘loss leader protein” on their ad, usually on the front page.   If you buy enough  bulk ‘meat’ to last you for a month to six weeks of that meat, you will be better off.   In other words, if you eat hamburger once a week, you need enough hamburger to feed your family 4-6 times.   Simplify the cuts of meat you buy.   Pork loin, hamburger or ground turkey, chicken breasts or thighs, or whole chickens are an example.   When you get the months worth at home, portion control per meal portions, and freeze.  Butcher yourself if needed, and cook hamburger, defat, and put in portion controlled bags.  It helps if you put smaller bags in a gallon bag and label with date and description :  GB 10/17 Pick cuts that are cheaper and versatile.  
  5. Waste not, want not.   Keep track of things in your refrigerator.   Use up anything that is going to expire soon.   Cookbooks on the web have search engines that will give you ideas.   
  6. Learn the basics of scratch cooking—making bread, muffins, a white sauce etc.  Having the tools helps too.    Find recipes that take few ingreients and take little hands on time.  Pre-made  things cost money for others time.   There are many appliances and recipes that take little hands on time.  Pinterest is full of them.   
To sum up.  Keep a stock and replentish your stock.  Cook meals from your basic stock on hand.   This allows you to be prepared if the bleep storm happens and you can’t  get to the store.   Its piece of mind.   Waste not.   Scratch cook as much as possible.   A few things are either way too time consuming, or scratch is a lot more money than readymade.   Pasta sauce come to mind.   

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Spaghetti Carbonara

Basic ingredients that we almost always have in the house.   ... a good pantry dish.                  

1 lb thin spaghetti 
8 slices bacon , cut into small pieces 
1/2 cup olive oil 
1/2 Medium onion, chopped 
4 T butter, cut into pieces.  
1/2 cup chicken broth 
Salt , pepper
2 beaten eggs 
1 cup parm

  1. Cook spaghetti. Drain 
  2. Cook the bacon and drain on paper towels.   
  3. With oil, cook the onion until limp.  Add broth, butter, salt and pepper.  Do NOT boil.  Cook 2 minutes until warm. Remove from heat. 
  4. Toss spaghetti with the sauce.   Ad eggs and continue cooking until sauce has thickened.  
  5. Add parsley and cheese and toss. 
  6. Crumble bacon on top.   

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

QFC haul -basket coupon

QFC haul with 10 dollars off of Forty coupon and debut 4 , save 4.

3 - v8 juice. At 1.99.    Nets 1.49

2- shredded cheese @ 4.99 nets 3.74 or 1.87 lb

5 Barilla pasta @ 1.00 - net .75 ea

3.72 pounds apples 6.25  nets 4.93

2 sausage @ 2.49 nets 1.86

1 dijiorno pizza 3.99 nets 2.99

Kind granola bars 1.99 nets 1.50

1 cherry pie 2.99 nets 2.24

Total 31.15

Chain store ads

Notes :
DT is Dollar Tree
FM is Fred  Meyer (kroger)
$$ means there is a coupon on coupons.com or in a insert
@@ means there is a in ad coupon.  Usually the ad is at the front of the store.

Strawberries 1.37
Milk 1.77 includes chocolate
20 percent ground beef 1.97
Top round 3.99

Yoplait .50 $$. Note .44 at FM
Coffee: maxwell house 5.99
Campbells soup 1.00 $$
Cake mix 1.00
Olives 1.00 - cheaper at Winco

Just 4 you
4 b sugar 2.79
Beans .59
Both of these ar name brands.

Regular prices
Cheese 4.00 lb :  my buy price is less than 2.50
Olives 1.50.  - always cheaper at winco.

QFC (Kroger)

Note :  Westgate mailed 10.00 off of 40.00 coupons to local residence.  If you spend just forty dollar, thats 25 percent off   It pays to plan your trip an use coupons. They register the 10.00 coupon first.

Apples 1.68
DiGiorno 3.99
English Muffins BOGO.  - always 1.68 a dozen at FM
Fruit pie 2.99
Milk 4/5 -safeways is the better buy , includes chocolate
Sour cream 1.25
Orowheat bread 2/5 - note DT is a dollar
Grapes 1.99
Brats 3.99
Barilla 1.00

Progresso soup .99 when you buy 4 $$ for 1.00 off out there

Buy 4, save 4
Mix or match

Cheese 4.99
Sausage 2.49
Bacon 399
Kind bars 4.99
Ice cream 2.49
Apple juice .99
Goldfish .99


LETS break that down.
37 ounces is 2 lbs 5 ounces.
3 lbs is the break even point on whole chickens .  So, at least 18 ounces is bone . That leaves 19 ounces.   19ounces at 8.99 means you are paying .47 an ounce or 7.52 a pound.   Whole chickens are often less than a dollar a pound.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bullets; When spending money makes sense

It goes without saying, that buying things on sale or being able to find something at a estate sale is a good thing.  

  1. Silicone cupcake liners.  Five dollars buys 12.    Not buying paper saves the planet.   You are’nt greasing the muffin cups and the muffins just slide out.  
  2. Insta pot.   Its three appliances in one.   Just cooking beans from scratch pays for itself in a  year if you buy 2 cans a week.   Add not buying ready rice or instant rice and you probably can pay for it in 1/2 a year with savings and have better nutrition too.  No preservatives  or added salt.  It slow cooks, makes rice, and pressure cooks.   Chicken breast from frozen in 8 minutes.   Not that any of us would forget to defrost.  LOL. 
  3. A good coffee maker.  Big bucks coffee is expensive. 
  4. A good food processor.   Make your own bread crumbs, ground meat from scraps, slice and grate foods.  With the exception of grated cheese, buying processed foods and someone else’s  dry bread is expensive.   In the long run, a food processor with pay for itself.   It makes scratch bread  and pizza dough a snap.   Pizza alone at once a week would be a six month payback.   
  5. If you are buying frozen waffles, a waffle iron will pay for itself in a matter of months.  

Monday, October 9, 2017

Kitchen management

Kitchen management is a useful tool that along with meal plans affords you the luxury of a less hectic dinner hour.  

Doing your deep cleaning of the mechanics of the kitchen on a rotation basis makes light work instead of a whole Saturday spent cleaning a really dirty kitchen.  

  1. Clean and disinfect the counters, sinks, and drains. 
  2. Sweep and wash kitchen floor. 
  3. Wax south side cabinets. Howard’s  clean and wax is my favorite.   
  4. Wash drip pans on the stove.  
  5. Bulk cook any meat/protein that you purchased this week. Portion control for the freezer. 
  6. Wash potatoes, and make veggie sticks 
  7. Straighten pantry. If you keep all of one thing in the same spot, you ave time looking and digging for what you need.  It is also easier to take a inventory at a glance when something is on a good sale.   
  8. Premake dinner if possible 
  9. Make a dessert or muffins.   
  10. Mark the meal plan to remind yourself to defrost meat when needed 
  11. Clean the refrigerator and note things to be used up.   

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Winco and Fred Meyers

Alert :  fred meyer is notorious for messing up the sales receipt.  They charged us for our grapes twice this time.    

Fred Meyer total.37.10

Goldfish .99
Grapes 4.40
Chocolate chips 1.79
Sour cream 1.25
Strawberries 1.25
Yoplait yogurt .34
English muffins 1.67
Mini ravioli 1.00
Nathans hot dogs 3.99
Sausage 2.49


Cucumbers 1.18 (2) 
Stove top stuffing 1.98 (20 
Buns .87
Bulk peanuts 1.29

Total 12.65


Meal Plans for week of October

Meal plans are a way of being organized and making life easier at the dinner hour.   

Meal plans 

Breakfast for dinner


Hamburgers, oven fries, salad 

Chicken and noodles in the insta pot 

Out:  steak, baked potatoes, salad, veggie 

Speghetti and meatballs , salad, french baguette 🥖 

Pork chops with apple, cranberry stuffing, sweet potatoes, broccolli 


  1.  Breakfast for dinner is a mainstay here.  Everyone likes it and it is an everyone cooks activity ,
  2. Pizza is another favorite and the cost is low.   A cheese 🧀 pizza 🍕 is 1.04 for a pizza,   
  3. Hamburgers were bought at qfc ( Kroger) for 3.00 a pound.  Winco has buns for under a dollar.  
  4. Chicken and noodles cook in 4 minutes in the insta pot.   So the recipe says.   I intend to make it .   
  5. Parents night out.   YAY>
  6. Speghetti and meatballs .   Bread was purchased at grocery outlet for .75.  You could , of course, make scratch.   
  7. Pork chops are from a pork loin.   1.50-1.79 is a target price.  Sweet potatoes were .33 a package at grocery outlet.   
All thee meals would average less than five dollars a meal for the proveribial family of four.  
My mantra is that if you know how to shop and cook on the cheap, spending more isn’t a hard stretch.    


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Grocery outlet haul

big lots netted pads, a .95 package of marshmallows, 1.00 for applesauce , and 1.00 for pretzel and cheese pots.

Grocery Outlet

Diamond smokehouse almonds 9.99
Roasted garlic and potato soup 1.50
Organic roasted diced tomatoes bogo nets .50
Tomato , grape. 1.00
Yellow onions bag 1.50

Sliced cheeses 2.00
Hummus .99
Pepperoni .99
Smoked Gouda 2.00
Total 28.87
Total saved 51.93

Fred Meyer ad for Sunday

Fred Meyer Sunday

Apples ,99
10 percent fat hamburger 3.99
Strawberries 4/5
Milk 1.79
Buy 4 progresso 1.00 each -check coupons
Yoplait 2/88 coupons out there
Barilla pasts 1.00
Sour cream1.25

Pears .99
Grapes 1.99

Buy 4, save 4
Net prices

Ice cream 2.49
Daves killer 3.29
Jimmy Dean  sausage 2.49
Cheerios  2.49
Goldfish .99
Cheese 5.49 2 lbs

5 things to make instead of buy.

Watching other peoples grocery hauls reminds us of things that we can make easy and save money in the process. 

Five things that take almost no effort and save a lot of money over time. 

  1. Jars of gravy.   Gravy is a thickening agent, water, and beef or chicken stock or drippings from cooking beef or chicken.   Take the drippings off the pan , shake flour into the drippings until the fat is absorbed ( off the hear). Now put back on the heat and start adding water a little at a time until you have the consistency you want.  OR place bouillon in a skillet an add a slurry of. Water and flour or cornstarch into the bouillon until it is the consistency you want.  
  2. Bread crumbs.   Why pay for someone else's dry bread and throw yours away?    Ditto croutons.   
  3. Taco seasoning.   Anything in an individual packet is going to be expensive.    You can tailor your own level of heat when you make it yourself.   Making a bulk batch is quick and easy.   
  4. Muffins: Muffins store bought can cost as much as a dollar a piece.   A few minutes with inexpensive ingredients can make a dozen in a snap.   Add any fruit or veggie .   
  5. Sloppy joe sauce.   Many recipe out there.   Another simple, quick fix.    

Friday, October 6, 2017

Insta pot chicken and pasta

This is a basic recipe.   Its no secret that I am in love with the Insta pot.   I dont have the stamina that I used to have when I was younger.  Gone are the days that I could make pasta from scratch .   I can remember my aunt making noodles from scratch and delicious little pockets of meat and bread dough.  My dad’s sister loved to bake.   Baking day was Thursday.   She lived three doors up from us.  You could only guess where we stopped after school every Thursday.    LOL.

Insta Pot chicken and pasta.

2 medium chicken breasts, raw, cut into about 1 inch or less cubes.
4 cups chicken stock
1 pkg. small pasta....rotini  , medium shells, penne

Place in Insta pot.   Add enough water to cover the pasta.

Pressure cook on high for 4 minutes.
Manually release.
Drain pasta.

At this point you can :

1) Reserve the stock and make a white sauce or a cheese sauce for a casserole.  Add peas or frozen peas and carrots.

2) Drain and add pesto.,homemade or from costco.

3) Pour drained pasta into a casserole and add cream soup or cooked cream soup base and top with bread crumbs, parm and basil or parsley and bake until bubbly.

4) cool the chicken and pasta base and make a pasta salad.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Non food items that save money at the DT

PS:  DT means Dollar Tree

  • Books:   There are hard bound books , some are better than others, but it is always a good place to check .      Recently I got a book on design and one about behind the scenes at the Food Channel.   
  • Children’s learning tools.   Flash cards, maps, workbooks, coloring books.   Why pay more.  
  • Decorations.   A couple of things can liven up the season.   
  • Craft supplies :   Some thing are not cheaper, but a lot are.   Stickers, vases, rocks, pipe cleaner. Etc.
  • Parchment paper.   Lots cheaper and a better size for lining most pans.  
  • Glasses.   All kinds  including stemware.   
  • Steer clear of the linens.   They are not quality and the kitchen towels are basiscally decorations only: they do not absorb water well. 
  • Cleaners.   Outside of dawn that is cheaper at Costco, most cleaners and wall scrubbers are far cheaper and do as good a job.   
  • Liquid hand soap in bulk.   
  • Napkins.   Hey, you use them once, and throw them away.   Huge napkins are a waste for every day.  
  • Toilet paper hack.   I got toilet paper for free at qfc last week.  Next best is costco.  But, its a good idea if you pick up a 4 pack at the DT and put it in the back of the closet.    That way, if no one tell they ar taking th last roll, you will never be stuck without any.   Toilet paper is a bad thing to run out of.   LOL.    
  • Balloons.....cheapest yet!     Need I say more.  
  • Kids sox.   We went through a time when granddaughter would come home from day care with one sox.   There is always the dryer gremlin.   Sometimes you can find six pair for a dollar all the same .  Best sox stretcher.    
  • Gift bags.   About anything that is single use is a good buy.  Why pay more when it isn’t a durable item?    

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

QFC haul

I still have ten dollars off of 40 coupons, but they are not good until next week.

2 tillamook cheese blocks 4.99
Pumpkin pie 2.49
Butter 2.99
Daves killer bread 2.99
Tilllamook ice cream  2.77
Strawberries 3/5

Total 29.98

Chain store ads 10/4

Chain Store ads. 

Every once in a while there is just no rotation protein buy that stands out in the ads.   The best I see is 3.99 for roast at Alberways that allows you to grind your own hamburger.   Pork loin for 1.99 isn’t bad, but that would be the top of the price heap. 


Honey crisp Apple 1.58
Tomatoes .88
Yoplait 3/1@@
Bread .99@@
Old El Paso shells 1.00 $$
Barilla Pasta 1.00 $$
Cream cheese 1.29@@

Note:  @@ means in ad coupon.  You can usually find ads in the front of the store. 

QFC (Kroger) 

QFC:   Westgate only 

Tillamook brick cheese 4.99
Daves bread 2.99
Broccolli .99

Regular ad 
Strawberries 3/5 
Tillamook ice cream 2.77
Perrier water 1.00
Pumpkin pie 3.99

Campbell soups 1.00 -use coupons 
Half pork loin 1.99 

Brats 3.99

Pears .99

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tuesday notes relativity

It is a habit of mine to watch grocery hauls.  Its a matter of studying the shopping habits and prices in other parts of  the country.   Its interesting to note that the same thing can be as low as 28 cents one place and 1.10 another.   Prices can even vary drastically in the same area.   A lot of how much is spent depends on how much money is available and the fact that many people add everything from crock pots to shampoo to their basket.   As a rule of thumb, buying non food items at the grocery store is usually not a good idea.   You are paying a lot more than you need to.   Grocery stores assign a different profit margin to categories of merchandise.   Sundry items are their moneymakers.   

I have seen grocery hauls for as much as 2600 an 942 dollars and as low as 32.00 a week for a family of four.  Setting a budget is the first step.   Kinda like dieting....if you have brownies in the house, you are going to eat them!   LOL.  

There was a time when both my husband and I both lost our jobs within a week or so of each other.  Needless to say, we cut all spending.   We took the mantra that what resources we had might have to last a long time.  We were also building an addition on the house.  Four of u lived in 400 square feet of the basement .  We had a kitchen that was unfinished.   I had a folding table with a microwave and a chopping block on wheels that housed a one burner hot plate.   

One Sunday I started a soup bone in a stock pot on the hot plate.   My son came up to me and asked what was in the pot.   I told him soup.  He took one look and said , well, it doesn’t look like soup.  
Trust me, by dinner it will look like soup.   I proceeded to cook the bone, pull the meat off the bone and add stock and veggies.   By dinner time, it was soup.   

He went to school and told his teacher that he had homemade soup for dinner.   His teacher, bless her heart, told him homemade was sooo much better than anything out of a can.   

Living on a budget and knowing how to stretch a buck is a good thing. Even if you are in a position to live more than comfortably, knowing how is a good skill.   If you know how to live on a dime, living on a dollar isn’t hard to master.   

There are all kinds of recipes out there and u tubers that show you how to do almost everything.  Somethings like making soda crackers, seem fruitless, but knowing how at least would teach children that they just don't come out of a box. Like my son who realized that soup doesn’t necessarily come out of a can. 

I discovered   yesterday how to make sweetened condensed milk.   It is really expensive and you can make it for pennies.   My concern was that you put hot syrup into a blender bowl.   Maybe if you heated the bowl first with hot water.  Or used an emulsion  blender. Its one of those things you usually only use at holiday times.   It is still nice to know how to do in a pinch.   

Needless to say, having basic ingredients in your pantry gives you great flexibility vs having boxes or bags of ready made ...and it does it cheaper as well.  

Buying food efficiently and cooking efficiently has its merits.  

Monday, October 2, 2017

Monday Kitchen management and notes.

Kitchen management is a tool that allows you to prep for the next weeks meals and deep clean the kitchen.   I have a real issue with the new terminology of “clean” food.  If you have a clean disinfected kitchen and you wash your hands didn’t double dip the tasting spoons, don't cross contaminate raw foods, and wash your fruits and veggies in vinegar water, you are  probably clean.   

We have a generation of people that think they need to be special.  Remember the me generation?   This will go down in history for being the “special” generation.    After going through the 70s with double digit inflation and no raises for 3 years as a single parent with no child support, I have little patience for special.   Just eat as healthy as you can and be darn glad you have food to eat.   Not everyone does.    Ps:  I had an ex husband, he just thought playin 36 holes of golf was more important than paying child support.   There is always a reason why we have ex’s.  LOL 

I digress: 

  • Wash kitchen floor 
  • Wash and disinfect countertops, sinks and drains.  Believe it or not, drains get nasty.   Use a dedicated brush.  
  • Wash veggies.  I use a dedicated brush and vinegar water in a dedicated plastic bowl.  
  • Make tonight’s soup.  Make beer bread.   
  • Wash salad greens and store in fresh containers
  • Wash the oven vent screen.  (First of the month) 
  • Wash the bottom vent on the fridge.  Scrumbing bubbles in the sink makes it easy.  
  • Wax north side cabinets.  (Howards) 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Meal Plans for week of Oct 2

Meal plans help assure you use up what perishables you have.  They are a tool to make dinner time less hectic.   You can schedule easy dinners the nights that you know a lot is going on.

  1. Soup, cheezy rolls, 
  2. Pizza 
  3. Hamburgers, oven fries, salad
  4. Chicken enchiladas, rice, beans 
  5. Tuna cassarole, peas and carrots 
  6. Pork stew over noodles, California blend veggies, salad 
  7. Pumpkin pancakes, turkey bacon, fruit plate.  


  • Soup is an easy dinner when family has to eat at different times.   
  • Pizza is always a favorite. 
  • Hamburgers were purchased at qfc for three dollars a pound.  I am anxious to try the applewood smoked ones. 
  • Chicken enchaladas are made with chicken from the ribs of chicken breasts.  Sour cream green sauce is easy and inexpensive.   
  • Tuna cassarole....make with cream soup base . 
  • Pork stew is made from the ends of the pork loin.   Cook noodles once, use twice.   
  • Pumpkin pancakes -a fall favorite.    Turkey bacon bought on sale.   

Costs : 

  1. 3.00
  2. 1.04
  3. 4.22 (4) 
  4. 2.94
  5. 3.15
  6. 3.54
  7. 5.00

Total 22.89