Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Another installment of how did she do that?

 Last night we had hot dogs. Oven fries, and a fruit platter.   Its the season and we had grapes, cherries, strawberries,  blueberries and raspberries.

We continue to spend less than our 4,00 a day budget,  I did, however, prorate our case of hamburger purchase,  Zaycon is out of business .

How did she do that!   Meals that are super cheap, especially when you efficient scratch cook

  1. Beans, rice, and cornbread .  Rice in the insta pot is easy. Ditto the beans,   Scratch beans and rice save a ton of money,   Bagged Reid rice can be 50 cents a serving,   Homemade costs .02.  Cornbread is another cheap side.  My family doesn’t eat cornbread, so we make beer bread.   It, too, is really easy,   
  2. Spaghetti w pasta sauce .   Sour dough bread takes 10 minutes and costs a quarter. 
  3. Split Pea soup. 
  4. Homemade pizza.  Another one that is cheap and easy. 
  5. Bbq chicken (leg portions) and oven fries.  Leg portions  can be less than a buck a pound. Potatoes are a quarter a pound here,  wash potatoes with vinegar water.  We have a dedicated brush,  cut potatoes in eights, dry with a paper towel.  Toss with olive oil and  sprinkle with  desired seasoning,  we use garlic pepper.   Place on sheet pan and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes,or until done. 
  6. Mac and cheese,  scratch Mac and cheese is easy.   Start with a white sauce mix (homemade) add grated cheese.   Cook elbow macaroni until done,   It takes 2 minutes in the insta pot, quick release,   Use a quart of water for a box of pasta.   Have been finding Barilla at the DT.  Put the Mac and cheese in a baking pan and top with a breadcrumb mixture of breadcrumbs, parmesean  cheese and parsley,   Bake at 350 until heated through.  We use homemade breadcrumbs, real parmesean cheese.   You can have real foods and still stay on a low budget. 
  7. Stirfry,   Stirfry s t r e t c h e s.   A little meat,    When you are butchering your bulk meat, you can often set aside bits of meat for stirfry,  add veggies and you have a meal.  Add rice or top ramen noodles,  
  8. Fried rice, 
  9. Cheeseburger macaroni,   Scratch takes no longer than the box and has better and more ingredients,   When we dissected  a box  of mix it had 4.2 ounces of macaroni including the take weight, and a 1.57 ounce package of cheese sauce that didnt have any cheese in it,  It did have a whole lot of things that we couldn’t pronounce .   The recipe is on the blog.   
  10. Tuna Melts.   
  11. Nachos,   
  12. Breakfast for dinner,   Pancakes, waffles, french toast, eggs, fruit,   

The best tip I can give, is to develop a set of meals your family likes that use inexpensive sources of protein,   Keep a stock of shelf or freezer safe foods that you will use to cook those meals,  buy stocking when prices are low,you can maintain a 4-6 week supply of ingredients and you will avoid the pantry is empty and there is 4 days until payday syndrome.   Its a nice place to be.  It doesn’t happen overnight,but it can happen.   

Monday, July 30, 2018

Monday Kitchen Management

Kitchen management is a tool that saves time and energy.  By prepping your weekly food, you do things in big batches and wash up once,  

Reminder of meals,

  • Hot dogs , french fries fruit 
  • Pizza salad 
  • Salisbury steak meatballs, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, 
  • Chicken salad, rolls 
  • Salmon, rice, green beans 
  • Chicken stroganoff , salad 
  • Breakfast for dinner 
  1. Wash kitchen floor 
  2. Wash and disinfect counters and sinks and drains,
  3. Clean out refrigerator and dump anything dead.
  4. Put stove vent screen in dishwasher, 
  5. Wash potatoes and cut french fries, soak in vinegar and put on container for tonight, 
  6. Wash fruit and put in containers 
  7. Make salad and oit in paper towel lined container 
  8. Cook chicken for stroganoff and salad 
  9. Check to see of the rice mix is full. 
  10. Fill the oatmeal, flour and sugar canisters. 
Notes : 

Peas and carrots were a dollar at safeways,   I bought seven bags including white corn, peas, greenbeans. Peas and carrots and mixed veggies,   This should last us untIl they go on sale again. The new crop should be coming in and I expect about September there will be more sales.  Both canned and frozen.   

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Meal Plans -week of 7/30/18

Meal Plans  are a tool that saves time and money. A little time before the hectic week saves  a lot of stress during the hectic dinner hour.

  • Sheet pan dinner:   Sausage, potatoes,carrots, radishes. 
  • Pizza Bread, salad 
  • Salisbury steak meatballs, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots 
  • Chicken salad, rolls or bread sticks 
  • Salmon, seasoned rice, greenbeans 
  • Chicken stroganoff, salad 
  • Breakfast for Dinner 

  1. Sheet pan dinner:   Line sheet pan with. Parchment.  Cut rope sausage into pieces, wash carrots and potatoes, radishes in vinegar water.  Cut potatoes and carrots in uniform sized pieces so that they cook at the same time.  Add all vegetables to sheet pan and toss with olive oil to coat. Season with garlic pepper or salt and pepper.   Roast at 400 degrees for 45 mnutes or until potatoes and carrots test done. 
  2. French bread purchased at .95 is the base for pizza bread.  
  3. Salisbury steak meatballs is from Betty Crocker 
  4. Chicken salad uses the rest of the bread from pizza bread 
  5. Salmon is purchased at Winco for 5.00 a pound.  Green beans are frozen from the sale at Alberways.  
  6. Chicken stroganoff is a Betty Crocker recipe . 
  7. Breakfast for dinner -everyone cooks, using Texas toast from the bread store and bacon and fruit. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Grocery Hauls

Steak fries 1.06
Mama Rosa Pizzas (8) 4.98
Cherry tomatoes 2.28
Beans .96
Rope sausage 2.58
Bacon 3.48
French bread .95
Total 20.83

Fred Meyers

Cherries. 1.88
Butter 2.50 less 2.00 coupons for 2
Tortilla chips 1.25
Classico sauce .99
Salad dressing mark down .79
Diced am 2.00
Total. 11.64

Total. 32.47


Vegetables 1.00
Yogurt .33
Grapes 3.54   (1.77)

Total 8.54


Saturday Concept

For years I have been reading all I could about cutting food costs.  It has been a constant adjustment for rising food costs ,  availability of foods , and a new approach to eating basic food instead of so much processed foods.

Our media blitz is full of store pick up food and ready prepped food.  All this is more expensive than doing it yourself.  Duh!

Groceries on the cheap takes a different approach to buying food.   Instead of buying 1 day, 1 week at a time, you are buying to replenish a small stock.  Sales are on a 4-6 week basis.   By taking advantage of that, you can save a lot of money and still have good basic food.

By sticking to basic food and avoiding a lot of processed food, you can eat better and spend less.  That’s  a good combination.

In addition, buying in bulk when it makes sense is a really good tool in lowering food costs.   Rice in bulk at Costco ( we dont have Sams Club or BJ’s here ) makes white rice 02 a serving.  Oatmeal is .085 cents a serving as opposed to .40 a servingfor instant that takes no less time.   Flour at Costco is .08 a cup.  That makes a batch of muffins even with fruit added less than a buck instead of five dollars.   It makes pizza crust .19 instead of 1.50-2.00.  A loaf of sour dough bread is upwards of 2.50.  It takes ten minutes and .25 to make it.   Other than the dealing with the very hot oven, a child can make it in ten minutes hands on time.

There is something about a hearty bowl of home made soup and hot crusty bread that is nutritious and satisfying.  It is one of the cheapest meals you can make.   It can be one of the most efficiently cooked meals as well.  That’s a winner in my book.

Another concept is simplicity.  The least amount of things in your cart simplifies grocery shopping.   When you buy a rotating RBP protein and stick to one cut of meat per variety, you save money and time.   The concept is to buy one meat or protein source a week and rotate in a 4-6 week interval.  In other words, If pork loin is on sale for .99-1.69, you buy enough to eat that protein a specified number of times a week.   In other words, we eat pork loin in some form along with chicken three times a week.   So we need six servings for four weeks.  That is because if I cut a roast from the pork loin, we have enough for a Sunday dinner type roast meal and a pork slider eat agin sometime in the week.   This saves time an money. The other three days we eat boneless, skinless chicken breast.  It, too is purchased for a dollar or so if possible.   It is possible to purchase bonless, skinless  chicken breasts for as low as .88.  It may take a few minutes to prep and portion control.

Hamburger is purchased at the RBP as well.   We eat beef once a week.  Buying hamburger in bulk, cooking it until it is no longer pink and de-fatting it is a good way to cut fat and costs.   Portion control it in quart bags and put the quart bags in a gallon bag and mark it with the date.

We have a side by side refrigerator.  I have marked the freezer shelves(bins) with beef, chicken, pork, and fish or veggies.   It makes live simpler.  We eat fish once a week as well.   Please don’t buy tilipa.  It is as far as I ca tell garbage fish from china.

If you don't have a side by side, you can by baskets from the dollar tree and label the with a laminated label and put on with zip ties using a punched holes.   Yes, that takes time, but you only have to do it once.

By picking a limited number of meats that are versatile, you save time and money.   Chicken breast, hamburger and pork loin are all very versatile.   The internet and cookbooks have literally a ton of ideas so you wouldn't have to eat the same thing for months.  That being said, the average family eats a variety of 7-10 dinners.

Eating vegetarian two nights a week helps too.   Our family likes breakfast for dinner.   It’s a way to involve the whole family and it can be a cheap meal.   Or not.

Using these ideas,  we can eat an entire week of dinners for the cost of two dinner at your door meals.    And, you still have to cook those dinners and do the dishes.   LOL.

Sample meal plan :

Breakfast for dinner :  french toast, fruit, eggs 
Pizza - vegetables and pepperoni or buffalo chicken
Pork roast, mashed potatoes, vegetable 
Pork sliders, oven fries, salad 
Baked salmon, seasoned rice, green beans 
Vegetarian chili, sourdough bread 
Spaghetti with pasta sauce, sourdough bread with garlic spread, salad 

In concept , you can save money and cut your food costs by :

Simplifying the food that you buy
Shopping at a variety and more than one store. 
Buying in bulk and stocking when prices are low. 
Portion controlling your food.   No one needs to eat the better part of a two pound roast.   LOL 
Planning meals and cooking scratch efficiently 
Eliminating waste by portion control and morphing  leftovers.  

Friday, July 27, 2018

Friday recipe: Italian hamburgers

Sandwiches on the grill and a salad is a good choice for hot days.  The salad can e made early in the day. 
  • hamburger buns. Toasted 

  • 4 ounces tomato sauce 
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce, divided 

  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound ground beef 
  • 3 T dry bread crumbs 

  • Mozzarella cheese 
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce with the herbs, 

  • Mix tomato sauce and herbs in small bowl or the can 
  • Mix together the sauce, ground beef, egg and bread crumbs .
  • Shape into 4 patties. 
  • Broil or grill patties until done and no longer pink 
  • Place some sauce and some mozzarella cheese on top of meat patties 
Place dressed patty on toasted bun 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Thursday grocery Hauls this week

Roma  tomatoes .77
10 lbs potatoes 2.56

Previous bread 7.88

4 lean cuisine 6.00
Raspberries 2.99
Total 8.99

Total 12.32-week

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Chain store ads

Note:  FredMeyers does not have a paper ad.  The prices are from favado and sometimes include coupons to find or load.  My husband says that he is getting a pop up on his phone fror an ap.

Fred Meyers - the best bet this week. 

Classico Pasta sauce .99 @@
Kraft dressing .99@@
Sour cream/ cottag cheese .79@@
Hebrew National 2.99
Folders coffee 5.99
80/20 ground beef 3.49
Blueberries 5 lbs 9.99
Cherries 1.88
Butter 2.50
Pumpkin pie 4.00


80/20 beef 2.99
Grapes 1.77
Milk 1.79@@
Frozen veggies 1.00


Berries 2.99
Grapes 1.99

Digital coupons -
Lean cuisine 4/6
Ice ream 1.99
Red Barron pizza 3/8

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

How did she do that?

Sweet and Sour chicken or Pork 

  • Cook rice in insta pot or rice cooker:  insta pot place equal parts rice and water or broth in insta pot.  Stir.   Cover and seal pot.   Push the rice button. 
    • We used pork cubes from a dollar a pound pork loin.  , a can of pineapple from the DT and a slice of red pepper from peppers purchased for.88.
    • Sauté meat cubes (1 lb)  in a little olive oil on the sauté feature until cubes are browned.   Add 3 cups water.   Seal and set the insta pot on manual for 35 minutes. 
    • In saucepan on stove : make sauce.  1/4 cup brown sugar , 1 T cornstarch, 2T vinegar, 2T soy sauce, 3/4 cup ketchup, 1/3 cup reserved pineapple and slice of red pepper, diced small  .  Cook on medium heat until sauce has thickened.   Measuring the ingredients before starting to cook helps make this go smoothly.   
    • Add drained meat and canned pineapple cut into chunks into sauce.  Turn heat off and pour sauce ,meat and fruit over rice.
  • Cost: less than 3.00 for 4 servings. 


Monday, July 23, 2018

Kitchen Managment

Kitchen management is a tool to save time and money in the kitchen and make the hectic dinner hour less hectic.

Reminder of meal plan

  • Skinny, creamy chicken enchaladas 
  • Pizza
  • Hamburgers, hot dogs 
  • Pork chops 
  • Salmon
  • Pork stew 
  • Breakfast for dinner 

  1. Clean out the refrigerator and dump anything dead.
  2. Wash refrigerator and clean the bins and shelves 
  3. Wash kitchen floor 
  4. Wax south side cabinets 
  5. Wash and disinfect counters and sinks and drains 
  6. Cook chicken for enchiladas 

  7. Scrub potatoes and carrots 
  8. Check the seasoned rice mix replenish if necessary. 
  9. Make muffins 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Meal Plans

Its going to be hit hot hot this week here .

Meal plans are a tool that makes life easier and saves time and money.

  • Pizza , green salad 
  •  Breakfast for dinner 
  • Skinny creamy chicken enchaladas (BC) 
  • Hamburgers/hotdogs, parmesean fries , 
  • Pork chops, apple, craisens dressing , green beans 
  • Peppercorn salmon, seasoned rice  salad 
  • Pork stew, sourdough bread 

  1. Pizza is a favorite here.  Its a good averager—when you are going for a 2.00 average protein, you need some really cheap meals to offset the more expensive ones.   , The cost of pizza is a dollar a cheese pizza.  Saving bits of meat and veggies from other meals adds toppings for almost free. 
  2. Breakfast for dinner can also be a good dinner for an average. 
  3. Hamburgers uses buns from Winco at .75.  It always pays to know your prices and where things are the cheapest  .  The bread store is good for bagels, English muffins and loaves of low carb bread, but buns are more expensive than Winco.   This time, they had no bread sticks that were low priced.   You just have to “roll with the lunches, so to speak and adapt to what is a good price.   I plan to have french toast for breakfast for dinner because Texas toast was on the 4/5 racks  
  4. Pork chops and stuffing is easy and you can put it in the oven and leave the kitchen when the kitchen is hot  
  5. Salmon is from Winco and its really good, not too spicy    We make seasoned rice mix ourselves, rice, chicken or vegetable stock and herbs. 
  6. Pork stew takes minutes in the insta pot.  Again, you can set it and leave the room. 
  7. Skinner chicken enchiladas is a Betty Crocker recipe and is easily adapted to be scratch,   Find it online,   

  Pricing is sooo important,   With the procuring of food at a RBP, you can eat well on a limited budget.  I have heard so many horror stories, that I work hard to teach people how to eat a reasonable balanced meal on a low budget and buy good food.   We have salmon, tilipa is dirty food,  Buying real food instead if fake is always good,   Buying local chicken is always good.   Learning safe food handling procedures  is good,   Buying produce in season is good.   Buying in bulk when it makes sense is good, using coupons when it makes sense is good.   Anything can be bad if it’s over the top,

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Thursday: Grocery Hauls this week

Franz bread store has military and senior discount of ten percent on Sunday and Wednesday .

White bread .99

Four for  five dollars 
English muffins -2
9 carb bread 

Sour dough loaf 
Total. 7.88


Kitchen Hacks

...Tips and tricks to make life easier.

  • Having a basic food pantry /freezer reduces your stress because you have the peace of mind knowing that there is always a meal in the house. 
  • buying basic food at the lowest possible price and in bulk when it makes sense saves money and time.   
  • 70-80 percent of all grocery purchases are impulse buys.   Avoiding impulse buys save money.  Stick to a list or at least get a good idea of what you need before you shop.   Studying the ads for produce in season and a rotation protein on a 'real' sale.  
  • Meal Plans just make life easier.  
  • The internet is full of ideas for new recipes or variations of old ones.  Switching up recipes helps to keep things fresh.  
  • That being said, the average household has 7-10 dinners that almost everyone likes to eat.   rotating the same 10 meals makes you only eat the same things 3 times a month,. 
  • Celery and Carrots are cheap and versatile.   
  • On a four dollar a day budget, you need to average your protein at 2.00 a pound.   This is believable by having a couple of vegetarian meals a week and buying versatile meats that are low in price when bought on sale.   Chicken breast can be as low as .88-1.00 here at times.   Stock 4-6 weeks.  Pork Loin can be as low as .99.  Again, buy bulk and butcher it yourself.   
  • Stick to basic meals.  We like Italian  and Tex mex.  I surmise that others do as well.   Many ethnic food has many inexpensive meals.  Rice and beans, bubble and squeak, fried rice, spaghetti and sauce ....
  • Waste not, want not......with a little attention, many bits that may be thrown out can be recycled.  Anything that can be put on a pizza can be frozen and gathered for the next time you make pizza.   Ditto. Bits of veggies for vegetable soup.    Even good, but somewhat wilted greens can be used for fish packets.   (Layer spinach or wilted romaine, cooked rice, white fish, a green veggie on parchment. Wrap it up and bake,   
  • Portion control.  Its good for your waistline and your pocketbook.   Buying bulk meat and portion controlling meal sized packets saves a lot of waste...or waist!   
  • Taking a bulk package of hamburger or ground meat and frying it up until it’s no longer pink, then draining it and de-fatting it is the best and easiest way to store hamburger.   No thawing, low fat, and dinner can be made into any number of entries faster.   Tacos in 10 minutes.   

Friday, July 20, 2018

Pick up meals ......

We have all been there.  The day has gotten away from us and suddenly its dinner time.   The enemy of any food budget is take out or worse going out for dinner.   At the cost of one dinner out for one p reason , you can feed two people for a week!   Thats probably why I could count on one hand the amount of times during my childhood that I waste fast food or food in a restraunt.  

Having a few quick and easy meals that aren’t premade food gets you beyond the  ‘crisis’.  

  • Spaghetti and meatballs 
  • Nachos 
  • Sloppy joes 
  • Salmon, baked potatoes, frozen or canned veggie 
  • Tomato soup and toasted cheese 
  • Egg sandwiches with English. Muffins. Fruit 
  • Chilli
  • Impossible pie 

All of these take minutes to prep and a lot of them are a step away from the freezer or pantry.   Keeping a pantry or freezer with some basics helps.   

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thursday hauls

This month’s weekly total average is 56.24.



Grapes 4.06
Blueberries 2.98
Nectarines 2.07
Lettuce .98
Buns 2 1,50
Steak fries 1.06
Salmon 4.98
Pickles 1.98
Milk 1.98
Bacon 2.38

Grocery Outlet
Salsa 1.49

Dollar Tree
Cookies 2–2.00
Pasta Barilla 2-2.00

Total 4.00


4 Nalleys chili  .99
2 Coffee 5.99
Taco shells 2-2.00

4 frozen dinners. 1.88 ea
eggs .99

cod fish 1 lb 5.00

cherries 1.77 lb
2 cucumbers -.88ea
total 37.84

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Chain store ads

Tomatoes on the vine.   .99
Milk .99

Buy 5, save 5
Cheese 2 lbs 4.99
Ice cream 2.49


Red cherries 1.77
Blueberries 2 lbs 4.99
Cucumbers/  bell peppers .88

Mi8x or match 4 or more
Cheerios 1.69
Old El Paso taco shells .99
Maxwell house coffee 5.99
Nalleys chilli .99
Sliced cheese 1.99

Bread .89@@
Eggs .99@@

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

How did she do that...

Putting up hamburger. 

Precooking a batch of hamburger is a good way to make dinner easy and it can be done when the kitchen is cool to save time and money in the kitchen. 

Pictured is a meat loaf in a meat loaf pan that has holes in an inner pan to reduce the fat and not cook the meat sitting to re-absorb  the fat. 

Hamburger crumbles can be added to pasta sauce or you can make taco meat. Cook the hamburger until no pink remains.   Drain in a colander with a pan to catch the fat.   Remove the pan and pour boiling water through the meat in the colander.   This can reduce fat by as much as 17 percent.  Bag the meat in portion controlled batches. 

Meat balls can be made in the oven .   Use a portion scoop to make the meatballs consistent in size.  Place on baking rack over a sheet pan.  Fat will drain and you can bake a large batch saving energy and time.   Portion control meatballs in a zip lock bag.   

This cuts a lot of time out of meal prep at dinner time.   Tacos can be from freezer to table in as little as 10 minutes.    

Monday, July 16, 2018

Monday Kitchen Management

Kitchen management is taking an hour out if your bust schedule to save stress during the usually hectic dinner hour,   It saves time and money,

Freezer cooking has its place , especially if the resident cook is going to be gone or life is going to be hectic, but I don’t  do it because I dint have the stamina to work 8 hours on my feet and we don’t have enough freezer space to put  things that don’t need to be frozen in it.   Its a time vs stock issue
We are eating down the freezer now and I have  been only buying fresh produce, dairy, and just what needs to be replenished,

I digress, Kitchen Management :

  1. Clean out the refrigerator and dump anything dead.  
  2. Scrub the bins and shelves . 
  3. Wash and disinfect counters and sinks and drains. 
  4. Wash kitchen floor
  5. Wax north side cabinets. 
  6. Wash vegetables for dinners— potatoes and salad ingredients 
  7. Thaw chicken breast 
  8. Straighten the pantry. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Meal Plans for week of 7/16/18

Meal Plans are a tool that saves money and time.   Being organized always makes life easier and reduces stress. 

  • Chicken Parm, salad 
  • Pizza - a family favorite 
  • Minestrone , cheezy rolls 
  • Beef enchaladas , lettuce, tomato 
  • Beer chilli , bread sticks 
  • Tuna cassarole,  peas and carrots 
  • Breakfast for Dinner- another favorite, everyone cooks. 
  1. Chicken parm is an easy, quick dinner.   Spaghetti remains to be a good price often.   It cooks i. 2 minutes in the insta pot.  Quick release.   Pasta sauce is less expensive than scratch.  Parmesean cheese is real and in a deli type container.   Watching at Winco and FM, you can find it on sale often.   If not parmesean, then a blend or Romano works. 
  2. Pizza is a favorite.  A cheese pizza from scratch is a dollar.  Pepperoni is a dollar at the DT and there are 14 pieces in half a package.   Freeze pizza sauce from the DT .  One jar makes 5 pizzas.   Save veggies and meat scraps when appropriate.   Buffalo chicken pizza is an alternataive without tomato.  
  3. Minestrone is meatless.   Cheezy rolls are a biscuit dough rolled out jelly roll fashio. And filled with cheese.   
  4. Beef enchaladas are made with homemade enchilada sauce. Add lettuce and tomato. 
  5. Beer chilli is from one of the DT cookbooks .  Cook beans in the insta pot instead of buying cans saves a lot of money.  Beans, hamburger (already cooked) Taco type seasonings, tomatoes, corn, and peppers and beer. 
  6. Tuna casserole made with scratch soup base.  Frozen peas and real carrots. 
  7. Breakfast for Dinner is a hit here.  Everyone cooks something.   

Groceries on the cheap takes a different approach to putting food on the table.   Purchasing groceries in bulk and when they are at their RBP saves time, money, and affords a piece of mind that cant be achieved buying your food one meal at a time.   Life happens.   Bleep happens to the best of us.  Being prepared and self sufficient is the gateway to piece of mind.  

Studies have shown that people that have to worry about where there next meal is coming from have a lower life expectancy .   Stress is not good for anyone,especially not children.   

You can eat well on four dollars a day.   We didn't set out to do that, it just happened.  I challenged myself to find every trick I could to lower food costs while maintaining a balanced diet .   It became a game.  Groceries are the most expensive thing in most peoples discretionary budget.   If one’s budget is tight, it is the most logical place to learn to economize .  

This blog is free from advertising.   I don't make money from this, I just want to help people.   Bee. There, done that.  I’m sharing.  Please share.   You never know who or when you might be helping someone.   

Friday, July 13, 2018

Dollar stores cook books

There are a few things...that we usually get at the dollar tree.   There are some name brand items that are just plain cheap and are the same quality as you can get other places for more money.

Cookbooks purchased at the Dollar Tree. 

All have really good recipes in them and use name brand ingredients.   Of course, you can always substitute scratch for the name brand ingredients or purchase the items on sale.   Scratch eliminates 
ingredients that you cant pronounce.  

It is always nice to get a different perspective on meals.   We all tend to get in a rut.   Something new is a pleasant change.   These cookbooks have many recipes that can be made efficiently and economically.   

And, who can turn down chocolate....did somebody say chocolate!

Classic baked apples 
Tomato topping for bruschetta
Pulled pork with cola bbq sauce 
Chicken tortilla soup 
Mama’s beer chili 
 Heavenly Harvest Pork Roast 
Boneless Pork Roast with garlic 

From the Crock Pot slow cooker recipes 

Beef Taco Skillet 
Pork chops Florentine 
Beef and Broccoli 
Cheddar penne with sausage and peppers 
Mexican pizza 
25 minute chicken and noodles 
Country chicken casserole 
Chili land rice 
From Campbell’s great for cooking 

Simply. Special brownies 
English toffee bars 
Chocolate and peanut butter fudge cheesecake 
Nutty toffee coffee cake 
Fudge brownie pie 
Easy chocoberry cream desert
Deep dark mousse 

From Hershey’s cocoa 

Well worth a buck.   

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Thursday Grocery Haul

Per week expenditures
2107 55.06
1QQ 18 —51.98
2Q 18 —52.40
July 52.57

This’s includes a bulk chicken purchase , bulk pork purchase and prorated beef.

Total below 33.13

Dollar Tree
Kosher spears
Sliced pineapple


Grocery Outlet
Pacific Tomato soup 1.99. (3.49 at FM)
Stuffing mix .99
Cheese , shredded with bacon 1 lb 2.98

Total 5.98

Fred Meyers

Tortilla chips 1.99
Taco shells 1.00
Bananas .96
Gala apples 2.09
Blue cheese 4.99
Total 12.03

Total 21.01

Wednesday,, 7/11

Mission tortilla chips .99
Tillamook ice cream 2.99
Lettuce  .99
Bananas .45

Fred Meyers

Tomatoes 1.22
Pasta 1.00

Cherries 4.48

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Concept: Chicken Breast

FM has split chicken breast for .88 a pound.   Chicken breasts here can cost as much as 8.00 a pound.
Foster farms is local chicken here.

Split chicken breast is the breast with the ribs attached.

Its not hard to get your moneys worth and its a good stock up price.

  • Work on a sheet pan to contain chicken cooties .   LOL 
  • Cut the rib section off of the breast.   Place the rib section in a zip lock bag. 
  • Place the breast in a quart bag.  Uses tongs.  We use dollar store bags for this because then we put the quart bags in a zip lock gallon bag to label and freeze. 
  • Before you go to bed, place the rib sections in the slow cooker, add water up to within an inch of the top of the pot. And add some vegetable trimmings and herbs of choice.   Set to Low. 
  • In the morning.  Drain the stock into a pan through a colander and place in glass jars or deli containers up to an inch or so from the top .  Chill and freeze. 
  • Pick the meat off the bones and place in freezer bag. 

Chain store ads; the best of them.....

QFC - we didn’t get the ad this week....my husband went down and got one from the store.  It was on his way to the beach. 

Strawberries 2 lbs 1.99
Raspberries, blackberries 3.99 - 12 ounces 
Cherries 1.99

Buy 5 save 5 
Tillamook ice cream 2.99
Kelloggs cereal 1.79 - should be coupons
Daves killer bread 2.99

NOT A BARGAIN.  Ground beef 5.99 lb 


Broccolli .99 lb 
Grapes 1.99

Salsa 24 oz 1.79@@
Tillamook ice cream 2.99@@

@@ means there is an in ad coupon or you can use a digital coupon.





4 days only:  W, TH, F.S
Pork ribs .99
Broccolli 99
Tomatoes on the vine .99

Eggs .99
Cherries 1.99
Ground turkey 2,99


Digital Coupons, Friday and Saturday Only, up to 5 quanity 

Ice craeam .99
Shrimp 4.77

Buy 5, save 5 
Kelloggs cereal 1.79
Cheese 4.99 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

How did she do that?

Meal Plan Form including basic food list 

Meal Plans can be done efficiently.  We all are busy with life and meal plans help save time and money.  

The meal plan form was made in an excel spread sheet.   The left side has boxes for the days of the week and the right side has. List of basic foods .  A column for what you have and a column for what you may need to purchase.   A quick glance at the fridge makes a grocery list easy and simple. 
Add the things on sale from the grocery ads that you can use to complete meals.   What rotation meat is on sale?   What do you need to stock that is on sale?   

Using the list, and a matrix of your choosing, you can write a meal plan in a few minutes.  
Our matrix is protein based.  This allows for a variety of meals.  At a four dollar a day per person budget, its no surprise  that we don't eat a lot of steak and lobster.   LOL 


Pork loin was on sale for 4 days only at QFC (Kroger ).  We purchased 2.   One was used for pork chops and stew meat, and one for 2 pork roasts.   We made three meals out of the pork roast: Pork Roast ‘Sunday” dinner, pork sliders, and sweet and sour pork.   With a matrix of 1 beef, 1 fish, 3 pork or chicken, and 2 vegetarian, that took care of the 3 pork or chicken.   Add tacos or nachos, pizza, breakfast for dinner, and a pasta with fish and you have a variety of 7 meals.   

Your standard grocery list would include perishables in the dairy and produce departments.  Frozen vegetable are a good bet if they are on sale.   Any fruit on sales rounds out a balanced diet.  

Finding the RBP on almost everything you buy is paramount.   Stick first to the basics that you use on a regular basis.   Bulk purchases make sense if they are versatile and a part of your regular diet.  Flour, oatmeal and rice are examples.   Making best use of what is in season and on sale is a good plan as well.   

The average family has a list of 7-10 entrees  that they eat on a regular basis...tried and true family favorites.   This makes meal planning easy.   

List your favorites in columns based on the protein used.   For 5 dollar dinners or less, the rule of theumb is to make kyour protein average 2.00.  That hasn’t changed here since the 70’s.  The meats, however, have changed.   We no longer can afford a real piece of beef very often.   I always check the markdown bin for bargains.   Here, unlike some stores in the mid west, they are few and far between.  .
Save grocery shopping can make it possible for your family to eat well balanced meals on a four dollar a day budget— even with heavy eaters.   We do it and carry a stock.  Carrying a 4-6 week stock is possible with that budgetary constraints.   

Having a four to six weeks stash is a good thing to enable you to be prepared for emergencies and it makes it possible to buy food when its on sale.   Almost all staple things work on a 4-6 week cycle.   

Setting goals as to how many of each staple item keeps you from over-buying.   If you use 2 cans of diced tomatoes a week, you need 12 cans ahead.   Putting the same can in the same section off the cupboard, lets you look a a glance tho see if you need to replentish when you see a sale.   

Keeping it simple helps save time and money.   Diced tomatoes are very versitile and with the push of the food processer or blender button, you can have tomato sauce.   

Simplify, buy at the RBP, and keep a stock.   Basic concepts for a budget friendly pantry.   

Monday, July 9, 2018

Monday Kitchen Management -notes

You can make a pork roast do double or triple duty, depending on the size of your family.   
  • Pork roast, mashed sweet potatoes , green beans with bacon
  •  Pork sliders, corn on the cob, salad
  •  Sweet and sour pork, rice green beans 

Reminder of this week’s meal plan :

  1.  Pork Roast, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans w bacon 
  2. Pizza 
  3. Pork sliders, corn on the cob, salad 
  4. Mac and cheese, peas and carrots : a blast from the past. 
  5. Chicken bake, rice 
  6. Tacos, Spanish rice 
  7. Breakfast for Dinner. 

Notes : 
  1. Wash floor 
  2. Clean out the refrigerator and dump anything dead.
  3. Make note of things that need to be used up soon. 
  4. Wash counter tops  and sinks and drains, disinfect. 
  5. Wash the carrots for peas and carrots.   Use frozen peas and fresh carrots:  buying whole carrots instead of the ‘baby ‘ ones saves a lot of money.  A farmer years ago realized that he was having a trouble selling the not so perfect carrots.   His solution was to make baby carrots and pay for a  marketing campaign.    The end result was that carrot producers are getting a dollar or more a pound for their carrots when whole carrots are 5 lbs for 2.28.   Double the price .
  6. Straighten the pantry.  
The cost on meals for 2 people. Note this is for a reasonable dinner, we aren't feeding a 17 yo linebacker.   Cost would be more for growing childcare or very active adults. 

Pork Roast dinner 1.66-  we had sweet potatoes left over but cost the whole amount out,,  Used 1/3 of a bag of frozen veg.
  1. Pizza 1.50. Used scratch pizza with 1/2 package of pepperoni.   
  2. Pork sliders: 1.45  Used rolls on sale and corn on the cob on sale for the 4th 
  3. Mac and cheese, peas and carrots  1.75 uses cheese from GO with bacon 
  4. Chicken baked , rice, carrots - 1.24. Rice is bought in bulk, chicken in bulk was .99 a pound.   4 ounce portions. 
  5. Tacos, Spanish rice 2.04
  6. Breakfast for dinner :   Eggs, English muffins, yogurt parfaits. 1.91.  Uses yogurt for .38, eggs at .88 a dozen , and English muffins bought for a dollar.   

Total 11.54 for 2 people.   

Its not as much what you buy, but when and where you buy it.   
Admittedly, this if for 2 adults that are not really active.   Portion control is a must.   That being said, the total is sooo low, that even if you have big eaters, you would still be in budget .  

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Meal Plans for week of 7/9/18

Meal Plans are a necessary part of Groceries on the Cheap.   They save time and money. Making best use of the bargains you found shopping is a good way to save lots.

  • Pork Roast , mashed sweet potatoes, green beans with bacon 
  • Pizza
  • Pork sliders , salad, corn on the cob 
  • Mac and cheese, peas and carrots.  
  • Baked chicken with stuffing 
  • Tacos or nachos 
  • Breakfast for Dinner 

  1. Pork Roast is from Pork Loin bought at .99 from qfc. 
  2. Pork roast does double duty sliced thin for pork sliders using bbq sauce purchased for .50. 
  3. Mac and cheese is from grated cheese with bacon purchased at GO. 
  4. Baked chicken with stuffing.  Stuffing purchased in a double box at GO.  Chicken breast was a dollar a pound at Zaycon. 
  5. Taco meat already cooked in the freezer.  We purchased taco shells and tortilla chips this week. Taco shells were a dollar and the chips were two.  
  6. Breakfast for dinner  is a family time: everyone cooks.   Eggs were .88 this week.   
  7. Pizza is a cheap meal that everyone eats.   Pizza crust from scratch is .19 as apposed to 1.50-2.00 to purchase the dough.  Pizza cheese is low fat.   Pizza sauce is from the DT and one jar makes 5 pizzas.   Freeze the sauce in ice cube tray and pop into a zip lock bag.   

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Saturday concepts.

Groceries on the cheap works on the concept of not paying full price for groceries.   We want the best quality we can have, but not at what my mother used to call top dollar.

QFC has 1/2 pork loins for .99 a pound with a digital coupon for a limited time.   I got 2.   Or, rather , my husband got two while I was getting my hair cut.

Pork loin can be cut into a stew cubes, pork chops, or roasts.   At a dollar a pound, it makes the highest component of meals cheap.   I also got chicken breasts for a dollar a pound and eggs for .88 a dozen.  That goes a long ways to cut food costs. You can still add a low fat hamburger and average two dollars a pound.   We eat beef once a week.  

Fresh fruits and veggies is also a component of a balanced diet.   If you buy the fruits that are on sale and in season, you can eat well on a low priced budget.  

Starch seems to be inexpensive a lot of the time.   The price of flour has taken a hike and it means youhave to be a bit more creative muting carbs.  We are all trying to cut carbs, but our bodies need some carbs to function.  Its all about balance.  

I was getting Barilla pasta for a dollar at the dollar tree and orowheat bread.  That source has all but dried up.   I will continue. To check, but lately we haven’t seen much.  I did stop at the Franz bread outlet and get some bread at a discount.  Wednesday is discount seniors and military day.   Since my husband is both, we took advantage of the discount.   Any discounts that you can find is a good thing.  Also, any free products that seem to be happening not only at Fred Meyers and QFC, but now sometimes at safeways.   Please dont take things just because they are free.  But, consider taking anything that they are offering that can be appropriate for the food bank or a friend.   I always take the cat treats for my grand cat.   We dont eat cold cereal , but it is more than approptiate for the food bank.  

This blog is about eating well for less and saving time in the kitchen.   This is especially appropriate during the summer months when kitchens can be hot for a lot of us, budget challenged or not.  

Ideas for food groups

Eggs, beans, cheese, pork loin, hamburger, chicken breast

Fruits annd veggies

Bread, whole wheat
Rice, in bulk

Friday, July 6, 2018

Recipe Friday

This blog is supposed to be about efficiently.   Its about buying your food in the most efficient manner in order to reduce your food costs.   Its also about cooking  efficiently to maximize your time in the kitchen.   “ I want to spend my entire day in the kitchen”. Said no one ever.!

Making mixes ahead of time saves time when life can be more hectic.  

A batch of 12 muffins costs five dollars at the store.   The cost of baking them at home is .94. and thats a gourmet recipe, not a basic one.   Silicone baking cups were 5.00 on amazon.   Considering a small package of paper liners cost a dollar even at the dollar store, it doesn’t take long to recoup your money and you arent adding to the landfill.   However, the paper is degradable and the silicone isn’t.

Mix : Makes 4 batches
8 cups flour
3 cups sugar
3T baking powder
2 t salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg

Mix and store in air tight container in a cool place.

To make muffins

Mix wet ingredients together:
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter.  
Note:  do this in exact order, you dont want to cook the egg.

Measure 2-3/4 cups of the mix .  Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients.   Do not overmix or your muffins will be tough.  

Fill muffin cups ( greased, or lined with silicone or paper liners 3/4 full.

Bake at 400 degrees 18-21 minutes or until top springs back when touched or cake tester comes out clean.

Additional mix ins options

1/2 cup shredded apples and 1/2 cup cheese

Chocolate chips and 2 tsp instant coffee powder

3/4 cup shredded carrots.. 1/3 cup raisins

Muffins are a good breakfast or afternoon pick me up .

Find the recipe on line .

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Thursday : hauls

Winco Haul

Salmon 1 lb 4.98
Large salad 2.68
Bananas .66
Corn .96
Roma tomatoes .91
Cherry tomatoes 2.28
Bacon (3) 1.98-5.94
2 strawberries 2.96
Total 21.25

Thursday 7/5/18

Coffee 5.99
Eggs, 2 doz 1.76

Winco 7/5

Corn .20 - 1.00

Strawberries 3.36

Salmon 4.98
Blueberries 2.98
Nectarines 2.04

Total 14.24


2 butter
1 pork loin
Total 11.66

Total for 2 weeks is 54.90

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Weekly store ads—chains



——-strawberries 2.49.


90/10 GROUND SIROIN 3.77

CORN 5/1



EGGS .88


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

How did she do that: Suddenly Salad

Suddenly Salad is a box from Betty Crocker.   It is 1.00 a box at the Dollar Tree and at Winco this week. There is also coupons for it at coupons.com . The coupons are for 1.00 off four.   That makes them .75. 

Directions call for oil and water mixed into a dressing packet.   The salads come in various flarours.  We use olive oil because it is more healthy.   
Then  add chopped, seeded tomatoes, sliced black olives, chopped red or other peppers.  

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions.  

Note:  You can also cook it in the insta pot.  2 minutes with a quart of water for a full pound box of pasta.  You will need to adjust accordingly.  You also need to de pressurize manually almost immediately when it is done.   The water will be almost gone ,so putting too much water or letting the pot to stand will result in ‘mushy’ pasta.   

Drain Pasta and add dressing.   Chill. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Concept: Making a recipe less expensive.

It is a misconception that just because one doesn’t have all the ingredients for a recipe that the recipes is off limits.   Many recipes come from the home economists that work for a food company.   Naturallly , their object is to sell their products.   That doesn’t mean that you can’t substitute scratch for something in a can or box and not sacrifice flavor.

  1. Chicken boullion (low sodium ) can be substituted for a box or can of chicken broth.  Better yet, you can freeze chicken broth that is home made .  
  2. Parmesean cheese can be substituted with any hard cheese.   Buy whatever is cheapest.   Sometimes a blend of Romano and parmesean is cheaper.   Buy fresh, in a deli type tub or a wedge.  Don’t buy the stuff in the green box.  It has wood pulp in it and the taste is a whole lot different. 
  3. You can buy biscuit mix at costco pretty cheap, but you can also make it without preservatives and hydroginated oils.  
  4. Shallots can be substituted with green onion tops ( cut off the tops and plant the bulb part and get more for your money. Or use chives . 
  5. Taco seasoning is a lot less expensive than the envelopes and you control the heat. 
  6. Instead of whip cream, you can use a little less milk. 
  7. Canned beans can always be substituted for cooked dry beans for a fraction of the cost....like as much as a dollar a can.
  8. Diced tomatoes can be substituted for any recipe that calls for tomatoes.   Buying one kind of canned tomatoes saves a lot of aggravation.  Simplify canned goods to make life easier. 
  9. Homemade enchalada sauce is a lot cheaper than canned.   Canned sauce tends to be expensive.   Green sauce for enchaladas is easy.  
  10. Almost everything you can make that calls for cheese can be made with mozzarella, Mexican blend, or parmesean.   Again, simplify.

Monday Kitchen Management

Kitchen Management is a tool that saves time and money.  Taking a little time ahead of the week, saves a lot of time when the hectic dinner hour is here.  

  • Wash kitchen floor 
  • Clean out refrigerator and dump anything dead.
  • Take a quick inventory of thing that need to be used up soon.   
  • Cook chicken for chicken enchaladas 
  • Wash apples and potatoes, veggies 
  • Make a green salad and fix it in a ‘Tupperware” 
  • Wash kitchen cabinets.  
  • Put the fan filter through the dishwasher. 
  • Clean kitchen counters and disinfect countertops and sinks and drains. 
  • Bake something.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Meal Plans -Week of 7/2/18

Meal Plans are a necessary part of cutting your food bill.   Make a plan, or plan to fail.   Having a plan saves time and money and planning a couple of easy meals helps to stave off the take out demons.

  • Chicken enchaladas - scratch sauce 
  • Pizza- homemade 
  • 4th of July: Hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta salad, veggie platter
  • Pork chops, apple/cranberry bread dressing, green beans 
  • Baked chicken, diced potatoes, and green beans. ( facebook) 
  • Salmon, baked potato, salad 
  • Breakfast for dinner 
Notes : 
Planning meals around what’s on sale or free and stocking when things are cheap is a good way to stretch your dollar..   
  1. Sauce for enchaladas is made from a “ white” sauce substituting chicken stock for the milk.   When done, add mild diced chillies (1/2 can) and sour cream to correct consistency.  
  2. Homemade pizza crust costs .19.   Mozzarella cheese is made with low fat milk and i got it for a dollar for 8 ounces.  Pizza sauce is a dollar at the DT and you can get five pizzas out of a jar.  Freeze the sauce in ice cube tray and 2 cubes equals one pizza topping.   You can dump the ‘cubes’ into a quart zip lock.   We keep one part of the freezer door for pizza toppings and Sauce. 
  3. Hamburgers and Hot dogs for the 4th- hot dogs ( Hebrew National or Nathans) were 1.99 at QFC on Friday.  The buns were 49 at Alberways.   There are coupons for Suddenly Salad on coupons.com right now and they are a dollar at the DT and I believe Winco.   
  4. Pork chops were cut from a pork loin purchased for 1.00 a pound.   Make your own dressing or buy it for a dollar.   Add chopped apple and dried cranberries.  Brown the pork chops on both sides in a little olive oil, place on top of the dressing and bake it off until the chops are done and the dressing is heated through... 
  5. There was a recipe on Facebook for chicken bake.   Grease a baking pan,  visually divide the pan and place cooked, diced chicken, new potatoes in a small dice, and green beans, in separate  sections.   Drizzle with vinegrette.   Bake off until potatoes are tender.   
  6. Salmon, baked potatoes and salad is pretty self explanatory.   The salmon is frozen at winco and comes in portion controlled pieces that are individually wrapped.   We like peppercorn.
  7. Breakfast for Dinner is a mainstay here.  The whole family cooks.  We got bacon at winco for 2.00 ..  ( 12 ounces ). Eggs were .79 last week.  Bread is inexpensive to make and biscuits are cheap to make too.   Children love to roll dough and cut with ‘cookie’ cutters.