Saturday, April 21, 2018

Easy RV Meals: Restocking Shop

We are parked at a military base, $23/ night vs $75/night, and decided to do a restock shop at the commissary.

Here is what we bought for the next week or so:

Pretzels since we are out of the chips we brought
Poptarts for breakfast since they were on sale
Onion soup mix for burgers since it was only fifty cents for two envelopes
Italian dressing for salad
Canned sliced peaches, pears and mango since fresh was costly
Chocolate frosting for a chocolate cake I made
Greek yogurt to go with fruit and for a recipe
Frozen limas for vegetable variety
Premade garlic bread to make pizza and serve with meals
Multi grain bread for sandwiches and toast
Rainbow sweet peppers for pizza and salad
Green onions, cucumber, salad greens and tomatoes for salad
Carrots for salad and vegetable variety
Bagels for breakfast and to serve with meals
Brownie mix because Mike is hungry for some
Green tomatoes because I love them

The above cost us $34.23.

We still have prefrozen meals, meats, cheeses and eggs.  So, we are all set for awhile now at a cost that doesn't break the bank.

I could have made the pizza crust and bread and skipped the onion soup mix, but opted for ease and convenience over cost.  The poptarts, brownies, and green tomatoes are pure treats.  Money isn't everything.  :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Easy RV Eating

RVing is supposed to be a vacation.  But, if we eat out every meal it's a vacation we can't afford.

So, cooking a lot in the camper is a given.
Feeling like a drudge is not.
Here's how I do one without the other.

First, in the couple of weeks before we head out, I cook extra and freeze meals.
I stock these frozen meals in the camper freezer to draw upon during our trip.

This vacation we will be feasting on:

Cuban black bean soup
Beans for bean nachos
Ham and cheesy potatoes
Bacon and lentil soup
Penne with sauce and cheese
Leftover steak for steak salad
chicken slices in gravy
White bean Alfredo

Then, I think of easy sides I can cook and freeze:

rice side dishes
cheesy potatoes
tomato bread
fried green beans
garlic cheese bread
Asian rice salad

Then, I go for basics out of my freezer and cupboards to make easy meals:

frozen veg
boxed potato mixes
rice mixes
Beans and hotdogs
Ham steak
pasta sauce and pasta
tuna for sandwiches and tuna casserole
canned potatoes for tortilla Espana
canned garbanzo beans for hummus
Pasta and peanut butter for spicy Asian peanut noodles
Cold cuts and cheese for sandwiches

For breakfast I have been making and freezing:

sticky buns
French toast

We also have eggs, bacon and bagels along.

A few things will be bought along the way and there will be a few meals out.

But, we are fairly well set for the trip.  It will be pretty easy and most was purchased at sale price so we don't break the budget.  A win all around.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

April 1-15: Buying and Eating

Our April monthly allocation is $369.30.  We have carried over a cushion of $587.83, of which $261.23 is from this year.

For the first half of the month:

What we Ate:

white bean pasta Alfredo with peas, cheesy bread, fruit, yogurt; meatless chicken fried steak, green beans, stuffing; for Sandy liver and macaroni and cheese; Welsh rarebit on English muffins, fried potatoes, peas and carrots;  maple glazed grilled salmon, oven roasted smashed potatoes, corn; leftover turkey from the freezer with gravy, rice made with chicken broth, fried green beans, strawberries; pasta and sauce from the freezer, tomato cheese bread from the freezer, peas and carrots; ham and potato from freezer, mixed vegetables, toasted bagel half, grapes; chicken with gravy, stuffing, cheesy potatoes and peas, all from the freezer; ham steak, baked sweet potato, fried cabbage, tomato bread, grapes;cheesy and creamy chicken with rice, baked sweet potatoes, mixed vegetables, and raspberry muffins; BBQ chicken, corn, macaroni salad; tuna noodle casserole, peas and carrots, grapes

What We Bought:

Save a Lot:  cherries  $1.99

Aldi:  olives (2)  $6.58

Price Rite:  jasmine rice (25 lb), spaghetti sauce (4), salt, cherries, ketchup (2), coffee, ground turkey (3 lb.), grapes, cheese (2), eggs (6)  $30.26

Total groceries:  $38.83

Eating Out:

Lunch coming home from D.C.    $4.02
Bar Stool Sailing for Mike:  $ 9.79

Total eating out:  $13.81

Grand total:  $52.64

We have $316.66 left of the monthly allocation for the last half of the month.
I feel great about that.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Two New Meatless Recipes

The Prudent Homemaker, a wonderful frugal blog, has a recipe section that I often peruse.  These two recipes, husband approved, come from there.  I'm trying to increase our number of meatless meals since they are better for our health as well as our budget.

White Bean Alfredo:

2 cups cooked white beans
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
12 ounces evaporated milk
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 pound pasta

Blend first four ingredients and heat.  I use the microwave so it doesn't stick.
Serve over cooked pasta with extra cheese.
I add peas for color.

Meatless "Chicken" Fried Steak:

2 2/3 cups oatmeal, not steel cut, they won't work
1/4 cup dried onion
1 1/2 cups water or chicken broth. I use chicken broth
2 eggs
2 tsp sage
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp seasoned salt

Mix above ingredients til wet and sticks together.
From into patties.

Oil for frying


Serve with gravy:
2 cans cream of chicken soup
3 cups milk, I use reconstituted dry milk

Mix together and heat.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Use It Up Stromboli

Leftover pasta sauce, a few slices of pepperoni, a small amount of Italian sausage, sauteed onion, mushrooms and sweet or hot peppers, chopped olives, mozzarella cheese, the dough for one loaf of bread.

Roll out into a rectangle.  Cover with toppings.  Roll.  Bake.  Slice.

Sub in leftover meatloaf or hamburger and use cheddar cheese.

Try smoked turkey or ham with Swiss cheese and ranch dressing instead of pasta sauce.

This is a great way to use up the bits and pieces lurking on your refrigerator shelf or in your crisper drawer.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

1963 Cake Mix Cookies, Slightly Updated

One white cake mix, chocolate peanut powder, and peanut butter pieces equals easy chocolate peanut butter bar cookies.

I have an old 1963 Cookie Cookbook.  It's one of my favorites.

Some of the recipes make life easier by using a cake mix as the base.  These were my go to cookies when my girls were young.

The Original recipe was

1 cake mix
1 egg
1/3 c oil

Mix and bake.

Today I decided to try a new take on these cookies.

Awhile ago I purchased some chocolate peanut butter powder at salvage that I have been working my way through.

In my Christmas stocking Santa gave me some peanut butter pieces.

I decided to take one of the inexpensive cake mixes I have and make some chocolate peanut butter cookies.

1 white or yellow cake mix
4 ounces peanut butter pieces
1/3 cup chocolate peanut butter powder
1 egg
2/3 cup oil
1 tsp. Real vanilla

Bake at 375.  Do not over bake.  They will get crunchy if you do.

If you use real peanut butter and don't use the peanut butter powder, decrease oil to 1/3 cup.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Chicken Paprikash Soup

My mom and sister make/ made straight Chicken Paprikash.  Me, it's too much work.

So, I turned it into a soup.

Chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
2 cups chicken broth, I used homemade

Put all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 5-8 hours.

Mix 1 cup sour cream with 2 Tbs. flour.

Add to above just before serving.

Serve with crackers to take the place of the traditional dumplings.  Oyster crackers work especially well.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

March: Buying and Eating

We began March with a monthly allocation of  $381.30 and a cushion of  $498.91, with $172.31 of the cushion coming from this year.

After the first 15 days of the month we are left with $218.78 to see us through the end of the month.

What we Ate:

Asian glazed shrimp from the freezer, Asian rice salad from the freezer, peas, cake mix peanut butter cookies from the freezer;  Reuben, potato and cheese slices, Irish Chocolate cake; Stromboli from the freezer and popcorn;  leftover pizza from the freezer and homemade snack mix;  homemade clam chowder from the freezer and leftover sandwich and stromboli from the fridge; cheesy potatoes and ham, salad, corn on the cob;  penne pasta bake, peas and carrots, tomato bread;  Moroccan spiced garbanzo beans with vegetables over couscous, homemade chunky applesauce, toasted tomato bread; venison stroganoff with noodles, asparagus , salad; pork chops, broccoli and rice, strawberries and bananas; red beans and rice with Cajun venison sausage, garlic roasted cabbage wedges; leftover smorgasbord;  Cuban black bean soup, cheesy cornbread and fresh fruit

What we bought:

Aldi:  pretzels, cabbage, onions (3lb.), bananas (1.5lbs), cream cheese, bleu cheese, feta cheese, nectarines (2lbs), strawberries (lb), asparagus (lb), tomato juice, orange juice.  $18.03

Semi boneless ham (11.94 lbs), Folgers, cream cheese, cheese (2), chocolate chips. $21.09

Giant Eagle:  protein bar, breakfast seasoning    Free with coupons

CVS:  instant Maxwell House (3)  $8.97

Aldi:  mushrooms. $1

Save a Lot:  cantaloupe, sweet potatoes (2),  butter (10)    $22.23

Dollar Tree:  vanilla syrup for coffee  $1

Aldi:  butter (6)  $11.94

Giant Eagle:  frozen vegetables. (10),  fresh asparagus,  yogurt ( free)  $13.98

Tops:  cheese (4)    $9.99

Save a Lot:  au gratin potato mix (2), scalloped potato mix (2)  $3.16

Whole Foods:  frozen edemame (2)  $3.98

Total groceries:  $115.37

Eating Out:

Lunch with Angela . $12.49

Mike lunch:  $2.00

Total eating out:  $14.49

Grand Total:  $129.86

We had $218.78 to spend this two week period.  So, we get to transfer $88.92 into the cushion.

A good month.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Dinner for two for $1.00

A container of Moroccan chickpea soup $.49 bought at salvage but you could buy any chunky soup on sale.

Served over Couscous $.25 bought at salvage.  You could use pasta, rice, or potatoes.

Homemade Toasted two ingredient tomato bread $.10 .  Any bread or roll bought on sale would work.

Homemade chunky applesauce  $0.15.  Any fresh or canned fruit bought on sale would work.

You may not hit on $1.00 depending on your choices and your sales, but you can get close.

We even had enough leftover for a lunch.

Do this a few times and your budget will thank you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Two ingredient Quick and Easy Italian Tomato Bread

This recipe is making the rounds of British food blogs.  I tried it recently.  We liked it out warm out of the oven and even more toasted with butter.

2 cups self rising flour
1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce

Mix and put in loaf pan.
Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until it tests done.

Since I am unable to ever follow a recipe exactly, I did add some Italian seasoning and garlic powder to my batter.  But, you don't have to.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Restaurant Copycat Bacon Lentil Soup

A friend and I used to love to meet for lunch on Mondays to enjoy a bowl of bacon lentil soup and a slice of the restaurant's famous cheesecake.

So, when times changed and our visits didn't often occur on Mondays, I started searching for a way to make that tasty soup at home.  This is what I came up with.

Several slices of bacon chopped into small pieces ( or some leftover Easter ham)
2 cups chopped onion
2 carrots diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced or equivalent of garlic powder
12 cups of chicken broth.  I used homemade.  You could use bouillon cubes.
1/2 Tbs. Thyme
1/2 tsp.  ground celery
1 1/2 c. Lentils. (As they cook they will be absorbing some of that broth)

Put all ingredients in your crockpot and cook overnight or all day.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Easy eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is a wonderful Easter brunch.  And it doesn't have to be hard to make.

First, toast three English muffins and butter.

Heat up thin slices of ham and place on muffin halves.

Poach six eggs (I use a microwave poacher).

Put one egg on each muffin.

Prepare some blender hollandaise sauce.

Blender hollandaise:

3 egg yolks, 1 Tbs lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp cayenne
Combine in a blender, blending until light in color then slowly blend in  10 Tbs of melted butter.

Spoon sauce over each half and serve.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

March 1-15: Buying and Eating

We have $381.30 allocated for the month to cover the cost of groceries and meals eaten out for the two of us.  We also have a cushion of $498.91, with $172.31 being from this year, of money allocated but not yet spent.

What We Ate:  Buffalo chicken dip with homemade toasted tortilla chips, Italian green beans,  Mexican fried cheese and strawberries; tilapia with Parmesan crust, broccoli and cauliflower with cheese sauce, grilled asparagus;  sausage in sauce, garlic cheese bread, Italian green beans, zucchini pancakes, chocolate-peanut butter protein pancakes;  Mexican hamburgers and leftover vegetables;  Dutch oven roasted chicken, cranberry sauce, fried green beans, salad and homemade chocolate pudding; Chicken Paprikash Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches; leftovers for Sandy; leftover smorgasbord; eggplant Parmesan, asparagus, roasted cauliflower and broccoli; Thai red chili chicken and vegetables curry with Asian onion pancakes and strawberries; venison, spinach and feta pie, salad; boneless pork chops, cheddar and cabbage bake, asparagus, blueberries; ham, green beans, beets, garlic cheese bread; chicken Paprikash Soup from the freezer, cheese bread, frozen strawberries

What We Bought:

Aldi:  eggs (4), Romaine lettuce, cucumber, Bleu cheese, Parmesan cheese, strawberries (2), grape tomatoes, sweet peppers (3)   $18.27

Giant Eagle:  cheese (11pkgs)  $20.68

Price Rite:  Goya beans (3), cabbage, celery (3), hotdogs, roasting chicken (7.5 lbs), cheese (3pkgs)  $15.29

Aldi:  peanuts, almonds, cream (2)   $10.86

Giant Eagle:  Chobani yogurt drink. Free with coupon

 Price Rite:  cheese (10pkgs),  olives, roaster chicken, bacon, corned beef point cut, fresh garlic (2 lbs).  $44.71

Aldi:  Greek yogurt, Pam, cream. $7.17

Whole Foods:  yeast. $1.50

Bread Store:  rye bread, cinnamon raisin bread, English muffins, everything bagels (2)  $4.55

Sam's:  yeast (2#)  $4.78

Total spent on groceries: $123.81

Eating Out:
Lunch with Jim and Robin:  $20.59
Mike Barstool Sailing:  $7.47
Lunch with Girls:  $10.66

Total spent eating out:  $38.71

TOTAL this two week period:  $218.78

We stocked up on cheese, taking advantage of some good sales.  I also invested in quite a bit of meat, including 2 roasting chicken and a corned beef.
Over the next two weeks I will looking to be investing in a ham or two, maybe some butter if it's on special and eggs which are almost always on special around Easter.  Of course, there is always asparagus, the taste of spring.

For the rest of the month I have $218.78 of the monthly allotment remaining.  If necessary, I will go into the cushion of $498.91, $172.31 of which comes from this year.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Low Battery Diet

I inadvertently started a new diet yesterday.

When I stepped on our digital scale it told me I had lost 17 pounds in 24 hours!

Boy did I like the look of that number!

However, I have a feeling I will be gaining it all back very quickly.

Mike is going to replace the batteries today.

I have a sinking feeling the number won't be nearly as nice.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Irish Chocolate Cake: Made Easy With a Mix

I found a recipe for a scrumptious chocolate cake with coffee, Irish whiskey, and dark chocolate chips.  It sounded wonderful but time consuming.  So, I decided to simplify it.

In December, I bought some cake mixes at a great price.  One of them was for a Devil's Food cake.  So, that is where I started.

One chocolate cake mix
1 cup Irish whiskey (to take the place of the liquid called for in the recipe, don't worry, the alcohol cooks out leaving only the flavor)
2 Tbs. Instant coffee granules
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Mix and bake as directed on the box, adding the chocolate chips at the end of the mixing.
Sift confectioners sugar over the top of the cooked cake.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Homemade Asian Feast

Going through the freezer I discovered some peeled halos, an orange and some citrus peels.  My brain immediately went to Asian cuisine.  Using several recipes as a base, this is what I came up with.

Orange Rice Salad:

3 servings cooked rice. ( I had some in the freezer to use up)
1 orange, peel and all, zapped in the food processor
1/4 cup sugar
One fourth onion, chopped fine
Red or orange pepper, chopped fine
Tablespoon of sesame oil
Dash of vinegar
Crushed red pepper to taste
Halo orange sections

Mix all together.  Can be served cold as a salad or heated through to use as a warm side dish.

Orange Glazed Shrimp:

5 halo oranges, with peel, zapped in the food processor
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbs sesame oil
Dash of soy sauce
Crushed red pepper to taste
1 Tbs. Corn starch

Mix all together and cook until thick.

I cooked some battered shrimp and then tossed them in the sauce to coat.
This turned out really well.

Sesame Peas:

Frozen peas
Dash of soy sauce
1 /2 tsp sesame oil

Mix and cook in microwave.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Homemade Snack Mix: All the Taste, Half the Cost

50 ounces of Chez Mix costs about $5 when homemade or about $10 when bought at Wal-Mart.

  And, homemade has no preservatives or other ingredients you can't pronounce.

We also like to tell ourselves it's healthier than other snacks.  (Leave us with our delusion.)

I tweak what I put into it every time I make it, depending on what I have in my cupboards that I manage to get good sale prices on.

Today I used a box of rice chex ($1.50),  a box of cheerios (50 cents), a bag of pretzels (99cents), and a box of cheese crackers ($1.44).  Add some butter, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder, cook slowly in the oven and enjoy.

Get creative with what you use.  Your imagination is your only limit.  Bagel chips?  Goldfish crackers?  Nuts?  Dry roasted edamame or garbanzo beans?  Small size wheat crackers?

I'm already planning the next batch.  :)

Friday, March 2, 2018

$1 Equals celery For A Year

We went out to do some grocery shopping yesterday.  We go through the ads that come every Wednesday and check on the specials.  After that we decide on which specials we will take advantage of. 

But, as we go through the store we keep our eyes open for in store/ manager's specials.

Yesterday we found celery 3/$1.  A great deal.

This morning I used my food processor to help me get it ready to freeze.  That saved me a lot of chopping.

Now, we have one and a half cups of celery leaves and four cups of sliced celery ready for the freezer.

We are also having braised celery with blue cheese as part of our dinner.

Not bad for $1.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February 15 - 28: Buying and Eating

Allotment remaining:  $262.86

At the beginning of this two week period I was bitten by a cold/flu bug so meals were simple and based on freezer leftovers.

What we ate:  Roast beef sandwich and popcorn; leftover roast beef, shrimp cocktail, spinach balls and bread pudding;  pasta and tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwich; leftover sloppy Joe from freezer, corn on the cob, pasta with garlic and oil;  homemade corned beef hash and toast with fruity yogurt; Italian stromboli, garbanzo bean salad with olives, pimento and sun dried tomatoes, steamed green beans; chicken Swiss Casserole from the freezer, peas, applesauce;
lasagna from the freezer, green beans, garlic bread; Asian glazed shrimp, orange rice salad, sesame peas; lentil bacon soup with cheese and crackers; clam chowder with egg and tuna sandwiches; Stromboli with potato medallions and yogurt with applesauce;  leftover soup and sandwiches; spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread and fruit with yogurt

What we bought:

Aldi:  cream cheese, feta cheese, parmesan cheese, Ahi tuna.  $10.96

Erie County Farms:  smoked turkey breast, bologna (2), ham, pepperoni (2), corned beef (2), Swiss cheese, provolone cheese.  $27.03

Save a Lot:  onions (2), Italian sausage (3 lbs)  $7.60

Giant Eagle:  cod fillets, salmon fillet, battered white fish, tilapia, shrimp, canned tuna (6)  $54.41

As you can see, we did our yearly seafood stock up.

Salvage:  low carb tortillas (4), coffee (8), cereal (6), granola bars (10 boxes), organic Mac and cheese (4), flour (10lbs.), crackers (2), craisins (2), croutons, cheeze it's (4), sunflower seeds (36 oz,), sesame seeds (21.5 oz), lime juice, canola oil spray, Ghirardelli chocolate chips (2), Alfredo sauce (2), Thai red curry, tomato paste (6), soft taco boats, pine nuts, poppy seeds, yellow curry lasts, sun dried tomatoes, dill pickles, grey poupon mustard, cream soup (4),broth (2), evaporated milk (2), diced tomatoes (2), tomato sauce (2), Rotel tomatoes (2), green beans, cream style corn, water chestnuts (2), Chinese mixed vegetables, vegall, great northern beans, Italian green beans.   $68.55

CVS:  cereal (3)  $4.97

Aldi:  Worcestershire sauce (2), olives, grapes, pretzels. $8.45

Aldi:  cheese (8), onion powder.  $20.01

CVS:  instant coffee (3)  $8.97

Eating Out:

Ruby Tuesday:    $5.35

This half of the month we spent $210.95 on groceries, including stocking up on fish and doing a big salvage shop.

We also spent $5.35 on a lunch out.  The last of the big time spenders.  :)

That means we get to add $46.56 to our cushion.  It now stands at a total of $498.91, with $172.31 being from this year.

Saturday, February 24, 2018


Chowder is a comfort food for the winter.  Give one or all a try.

Tuna Chowder:

2 shredded carrots.         1 chopped onion.           1 small rib of celery, chopped
1/4 cup butter.                   1/4 cup flour.                 1 can corn     
  1 can tuna, undrained.    1 large potato, diced
2 cups chicken broth.       2 cups milk.                   Salt and pepper to taste

Saute carrots, onion and celery in butter.  Add flour.  Add remaining ingredients. Cook until potatoes are done and soup has thickened.

If you find a good deal, substitute canned salmon for the tuna.

Easy New England Clam Chowder:

1/4 cup diced bacon.           1/4 cup diced onion.           1 can cream of potato soup
3/4 cup milk.                         2 cans diced clams.            1/8 tsp pepper

Cook bacon and onion together.  Stir in soup and milk and heat through.  Stir in clams and their liquid.  Add pepper.
Note:  I add corn to this, too.

Easy Corn Chowder:

1/2 pound diced bacon.         1 medium diced onion.       
2 tablespoons flour.               4 cups milk.                                Salt and pepper
1 can cream style corn.         1 can corn.                   1 can tiny whole potatoes, diced

Cook bacon and onion.  Blend in flour.  Cook until bubbling.  Add milk and heat until boiling, stirring constantly.  Stir in corns and potatoes.  Season as needed.
Heat through.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Spent $17.17 And Saved $30.66 Plus

CVS, Walgreen's, and GNC had some good deals that I paired with some coupons and got some great deals.

I bought 6 Valentine's Day cards, 2 jars of instant coffee, a 25 load bottle of Purex detergent, a 25 load bottle of Tide, a marshmallow treat bar, broad bean crisps , two  34 load bottles of Xtra laundry detergent and a 6 ounce tube of Colgate toothpaste.  My cost for ALL of this was $17.17.

I also got two free 8x10 pictures of the grandchildren thanks to CVS and Walgreen's.

Another successful shopping trip. I love getting things for nothing, or next to nothing.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Cranberry Orange Muffins from Leftovers

I had about 3/4 cups whole berry cranberry sauce and about a tablespoon of orange juice concentrate languishing in the freezer.

Cranberry orange muffins for breakfast made sense.

I used the basic sweet muffin recipe found in my 40 plus year old Betty Crocker cookbook.  This one uses oil instead of butter which works because I am rationing my butter supply.

 I just didn't see the sales at Christmas on butter to allow my usual stock up for the year.  I only have about half of what I usually buy.  Therefore I need to make what I have go further.


1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt

I used self rising flour I got for 10 cents per pound before Christmas.
 The egg was from a dozen I spent 69 cents on. 
I used the moisture from the cranberry sauce and orange juice in place of most of the milk. 
I did need a little more liquid to get the batter at the right consistency, about 1/4 cup.  I used water and dry milk.

My grandmother's old muffin tin was used.  No mini or maxi muffins here.  Just twelve average ones that were baked at 400 degrees for about twenty minutes.

Result, three breakfasts for us that are quite tasty, if I do say so myself.  :)

And, only about 15 cents, or less, per person per breakfast.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

February 1-14: Buying and Eating

Allocation for the month:  $ 344.40.      Cushion:  $ 452.35. ($125.75 from this year.)

What We Ate:

Baked potato, salad, butter beans and homemade apple sauce;  Ham and bean soup with homemade bread; leftover Mexican casserole from the freezer and salad; turkey pieces in gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted beets; leftover nachos from the freezer, cheese/beans and rice, homemade applesauce;  liver and onions for me, meal out for Mike; leftover ham and bean soup and Mike's leftover soft pretzel; pasta with faux meat sauce and garlic bread;  mushroom rice, cranberry sauce, dilled carrots, buttermilk biscuits; pizza; leftover mushoo from the freezer; Philly cheese steak sandwich with homemade French fries and peas;  ham and cheese strata; shrimp cocktail, spinach balls, Delmonico steak, yogurt and strawberries,  heart shaped cinnamon rolls

What We Bought:

Aldi:  pretzels (for chex mix), Swiss cheese (2), bleu cheese. $8.55

Price Rite:  butter (2), eggs (6), frozen pizza (2), kielbasa (4),  Italian sausage (3 lbs), pasta sauce (4), cheese its  crackers (2), peas (2.5 lbs)  $30.79

Bread Store:  bagels, artisans bread (2), hearty rye, English muffins. $3.54

CVS:  Honey Nut Cheerios  (2)  $2.98

Save a Lot:  cider for vinegar. $2.99

CVS:  Maxwell House instant coffee (2)  $5.98

Giant Eagle:  Chobani yogurt. FREE.    Saved $1.79

GNC:  marshmallow treat and broad bean crisps  FREE. Saved $5.98

Tops:  butter, cereal. $3.68

TOTAL:  $58.71

We did a lot of eating out of the cupboards for this two weeks and it shows.  We basically bought only what we needed or what was just too good a deal to pass up.

However, we do need to do a salvage shop.  And that will cost.
Also, I hope to take advantage of some Lenten fish and seafood specials.
The last two weeks of the month will definitely cost more but I'm OK with that.

Eating Out:

Mike Barstool Sailing:  $10.44
Jury duty lunch:  6.25
Arby's 2/1 sandwich. $6.14
Mike breakfast with Rick:  $2.68

TOTAL:  $25.51

Grand Total:  $84.22

Remaining Allotment:  $260.18

Monday, February 12, 2018

Irish Coffee, With Coffee This Time

Recently I met a friend downtown at an Irish Pub and ordered an Irish Coffee.
I was confident what I would receive.
I was terribly, terribly wrong.  Emphasis on terrible.

First, my drink arrived over ice.  Wrong.
Next, there was no whipped cream.  Wrong.
Third, believe it or not, there was no coffee!!!
Wouldn't you think the name might give it away?

I'm not sure what they did give me because one sip did it for me.
But they swore it was Irish Coffee.


Below is a process that is guaranteed to give you a REAL, traditional,  Irish Coffee.

First, brew a pot of Good coffee.
To a mug add a shot of Irish whiskey.  (Regular whiskey will work in a pinch.)
Add 1-2 teaspoons of sugar to the whiskey.
Fill the cup with the coffee.
Top with whipped cream.

This is a wonderful ending to a great meal in the cold of winter.


Friday, February 9, 2018

Saving 71 Percent

Yesterday I did a shop at CVS.  Taking advantage of their sales and my coupons I saved 71% and purchased :

4 liters of Pepsi
1 box of Puffs with lotion,
2 Arm and Hammer Detergent with Oxiclean (25 loads each)
6 mega rolls of Scott's paper towels
2 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios (12.25 oz)
1 Dial foaming hand soap (7.5 oz)

I saved $33.11 overall, spending only $13.68.

Not bad, if I do say so myself.  :)

Monday, February 5, 2018

Hourly Rate

It takes too long.  It's not worth my time.  But is that really the truth?  How long does it really take?  What does it "pay" you per hour to do it?  What is your hands on time actually worth?

I can make a large pepperoni pizza in 20 minutes of hands on time:  making the dough, stretching the dough to fit the pan, adding the sauce, cheese and pepperoni and getting it into the oven.  I'm not including the time it takes for the dough to rise or bake because that doesn't take any of my effort.
Theoretically, I could make 3 an hour.  Each pizza costs me less than $3.  To order a large pepperoni pizza, using a coupon, would cost me a bare minimum of $7.  I save $4 per pizza, or $12 per hour. 

Because I can buy my flour for 50 cents a bag, and I buy my yeast in bulk, I can make a loaf of delicious homemade bread in ten minutes for 20 cents. The same quality of bread costs at least $3.50.  I can make 6 loaves an hour, saving $19.80, at a minimum.

I can make two quarts of ham and bean soup, using my homemade broth and meat picked from the ham bone and dry beans bought at the salvage store for a total cost of 55 cents.  I would need to buy 2.5 cans to make the same amount of soup, and I don't think it's as good.  The canned soup, bought on sale, with coupons, would cost me at least $3.75.   Because it only takes me 5 minutes to gather together the ingredients for the crockpot or pressure cooker, I could make 12 batches an hour.  Each batch saves me $3.20 so 12 would save me  $38.40,  $39 an hour. A great wage in my book.

And, besides saving money and making a decent hourly "wage", I have the enjoyment and satisfaction of making something and knowing exactly what's in it.  No small thing.

Then there's my salvage shopping.  I go once a month and the round trip driving and shopping takes about 2  hours.  I estimate, conservatively, that I save an average of $120 each trip.  That comes to $60 an hour.  And, because I go with a friend I get some very enjoyable girl time thrown in for free.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Buying and Eating: January 16-31

I'm reminded of how expensive protein sources are.  The nuts and the protein powder put more stress on my budget than I wanted.

This was to be a month we relied on the freezer and pantry.  We did, but we also bought more than I expected.

And, of course, this would be a month we ate out more.

But, such is life.  One must roll with it.  :)

We began the second half of the month with $ 291.74  left of the monthly allocation and a cushion of $ 326.60 .

My goal was to add a fairly good amount to the cushion.  I added some, but not as much as I had hoped.

What We Ate:  beef stew with red wine;  taco salad with avocado and homemade salsa; pork stir fry with bacon wrapped water chestnuts;  mooshu pork (makeover);  creamed chicken and vegetables over mashed cauliflower;  beef fajitas with Mexican slaw; pork with lemon and caper sauce, balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts, tzatziki cucumber salad ; slow cooker BBQ country style ribs, three bean salad, spinach pancakes; tortilla chicken and pesto and traditional pepperoni tortilla pizza;  cheesy salmon patties, bleu cheese wedge salad, leftover spinach pancakes; sloppy Joe; grilled cheese sandwiches

What We Spent:

Trader Joe's:  soy protein, soy and flax tortilla chips, peanut butter (2), low carb chocolate (2), cheese (2) , low carb flax bread. $37.64

Save a Lot:  Apple cider (to make vinegar), Pam. $7.54

Wal-Mart:  instant coffee, low carb tortillas. $ 5.80

Aldi:  lettuce, nuts ( 6), yogurt, mushrooms. $31.16. Nuts, for low carb, are expensive!

Tops:  goldfish crackers (3)  $3.00

CVS:  Adkins bars (2)  $12.68. Good for an overactive sweet tooth.  If not used now will be good in March.

Price Rite:  butter (2), frozen pizza (2), low carb tortillas, eggs (4)  $13.31

Total of groceries:  $110.53

Eating Out:

Lunch Before a Movie:  $9.58
Breakfast with Dad.  $23.80
Lunch with Joyce. $11.42
Dinner using an $11 coupon from Ruby Tuesday and free sandwich coupon from Arby's   $2.11
Lunch at RV show:  $8.55

Total of eating out:  $55.46

Combined total:  $165.99 for this two weeks.

That left me with $ 125.75 of the allocation for the month to add to the cushion which now stands at $  452.35.

And, February will be a low meat, eat from the pantry month.  I will, however, be taking advantage of the Lenten specials.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Adjusting the Recipe to Cut Cost, Not Flavor

The Original Many Faceted Seafood Casserole:  (from Amy of the Tightward Gazette)

4 to 5 ounces pasta
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 white wine or milk
1 can condensed cream of whatever soup
1 cup shredded cheese
1/2 tsp dry mustard or dill weed
6-8 ounces drained canned seafood (shrimp, crab, tuna, salmon)
Crunchy topping

Cook pasta.  Drain and set aside.
Combine mayonnaise with wine or milk.
Stir in soup, cheese and seasoning.
Gently stir in the pasta and drained seafood.
Put into a greased casserole dish.
Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Uncover and top with the crunchy topping.
Bake five minutes more.

Crunchy Topping can be:
Breadcrumbs tossed with butter, crushed potato chips, delivered almonds, or French fried onions.

To Adjust and Save$$:

If mayonnaise is too expensive, try salad dressing.  Always look at the cost of store brands.  They are often made by the same company as the name brand.

Wine or milk:  both will work but the wine does elevate the flavor for special occasions.  Milk is cheaper.

For cheese, use what you have.  Hopefully you bought it at its rock bottom price.

Pasta can be any shape you managed to buy on sale.  You can up the pasta to  6 or 7 ounces since the recipe makes a lot of sauce.. The result is an extra serving.  Lunch anyone?

Buying premade condensed soup can be expensive if you can't get it on sale.  Any cream soup, celery, mushroom or chicken works.  Don't be tied to a specific kind.  Or, make your own based on a white sauce.

The seafood, tuna is the cheapest.  But sometimes you can find a sale on shrimp, crab or salmon for special occasions.

Using less expensive ingredients can cut the cost of the recipe by 75%.  Nothing to sneeze at.

For special occasions pull out all the stops.  It will still be cheaper than going to a restaurant and may even taste better because it was made with love and care.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Create a Casserole

Soups are a great way to recreate and use up leftovers.
So are casseroles.
Below is a basic plan for creating casseroles with what you have.

Create a Casserole:

1 cup of a main ingredient such as leftover chicken, ham, turkey, tuna, roast beef
1 cup of a second ingredient such as onion, celery, mushrooms, vegetables
1-2 cups of a starchy ingredient such as potatoes, pasta, rice, make sure they are cooked or the potatoes are thinly sliced to cook quickly
A binder such as white sauce, sour cream, canned cream soup
A goodie such as nuts, water chestnuts, roasted red peppers (optional)
A topping such as crushed potato chips, cheese, buttered bread crumbs

Mix your desired combination of ingredients.  If too dry, mix in some milk, broth, or wine.  Put in a buttered casserole dish.  Add your topping of choice.  Bake at 350 until hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Eating Across the Grains

The following recipe is low in fat, good for your cholesterol level, high in fiber, vitamins and complex carbohydrates.  Depending on your choices, it is also very to moderately frugal.  And, it can be dressed up for company.  Wonderful!

The Many Possibilities of Pilaf:

2 cups of uncooked rice, quinoa, couscous
1/4 cup of oil, butter
4 cloves of diced garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups broth
1 cup of vegetables such as mushrooms, peas, broccoli, spinach
1-2 cups of cooked meat or beans for protein if this is the main dish
Seasoning as appropriate

Saute garlic and onion in oil or butter.
Add grain of choice and coat with fat by briefly sauteeing.
Add the liquid and protein and vegetables.
Bring to a boil, then turn down and let simmer until grain is done.  The amount of time will depend on the grain used.
Check frequently.  All the liquid will be absorbed.
Serve and enjoy.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Cake Mix Biscotti

A great treat with a delicious cup of coffee.  Feel free to dunk.  You're supposed to dunk.

Cake Mix Biscotti:

 1cake mix, anything but angel food
1 cup flour
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract

Preheat to 350
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with Pam
Combine all the ingredients.
 Divide the dough in half.
Form into two logs
Place both logs onto the prepared pan
Bake at 350 for 35 minutes
Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes
Cut each log into 1/2 inch slices
Arrange the slices on the pan and bake an additional 10 minutes until crisp

Monday, January 15, 2018

January 1-15 2018: Buying and Eating

Allocation for the month:  $381.30 plus a carryover cushion of $326.60.

Once again, just like last year, we are eating a high protein, low carb diet this month to help counter the effects of too many holiday goodies.  Translation:  expensive.

 I also decided to try and accomplish a low shop month as far as groceries are concerned.  ( I know, doesn't make great sense.)  This is to help kick start a needed clean out of stuff in the freezer and pantry.  I hope to do this a couple more times this year.

What we ate:
Roast pork, sauerkraut, black eyed peas, corn; roasted chicken, Caesar salad, mashed cauliflower; liver and onions for me since Mike is at a sailing event; soybean and beef chili with cheese quesadilla using low carb tortillas and tofu chocolate mousse;  meatzza (pizza with a meat base);  savory spinach cheesecake, cucumber dill salad, bleu cheese slaw; leftover chili with deli cold cuts and cheese rolls; leftover savory cheesecake and salads;  Greek egg and lemon chicken soup; ham and cheese Florentine casserole; eggplant Parmesan with meatballs, salad; grilled pork chops with salad and fried cabbage; leftover ham and cheese Florentine casserole; leftover eggplant Parmesan

What we bought:

Aldi:  Splendid type sweetener to replace the Stevia sweetener I had purchased but neither of us liked. $3.89

Wal-Mart:  low carb tortillas, almond flour. $16.60

Wegmans:  low carb bread. $3.79

Aldi:  a low carb stock up
Eggs (3), mixed hard cheeses (7), ricotta, cottage cheese, cream, (2), Brussels sprouts, cucumber, cantaloupe, braunschweiger , peanuts, almond, mixed nuts, blackberries (2)   $54.42

Eating Out:

Barstool Sailing:  $10.86

We spent $78.70 on groceries the first half of the month and $10.86 eating out for a total of $89.56.  Not bad!

We have $291.74 for the next half of the month.  My goal is to spend about a third of that and roll the rest over into the cushion. 

I inventoried the freezer today and if I can just control my "bargain" impulses we can make it.  I live in hope.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Where's the Beans

Beans are super easy on the budget, super nutritious and supper yummy.
Save some money, eat healthy and enjoy.

Lentil Rice Casserole:

3 cups broth
3/4 cup uncooked lentils
1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Mix everything together in a greased casserole dish.  Baked, uncovered, in a 300 degree oven for 2-2 1/2 hours.
If you like, during the last half hour top with grated cheese.

Because of the long cooking time, throw in a dessert, garlic bread and some vegetables to roast.  Make good use of that heat.

Vegetarian Chili:

1 cup chopped onion
40 oz can of kidney beans
40 oz can of black beans
56 oz can of crushed tomatoes
16 oz can of corn
1 1/2 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs cumin

Mix everything together and simmer for about an hour.

Note:  using cooked dry beans would be even cheaper than using canned beans

Split Pea Soup:

1 lb. Dry split peas.     1 chopped onion.         2 chopped carrots.   
1 cup chopped ham.  8-10 cups of ham broth/water.          Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and simmer until split peas are soft.

White Beans and Ham Soup:

 See the above recipe.  Just substitute 3 cans of white beans for the split peas

University of Delaware Lentil Soup:

1/4 pound of bacon, cooked and chopped fine.         1/2 tablespoon thyme
2 cups chopped onion.           1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 carrots, diced.            2 bay leaves.           1 pound lentils
3 cloves garlic.              12 cups broth

Cook all the above until the lentils are soft.  Partially puree to thicken.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Stale Bread Can Make a Good Meal

If you have some stale bread, try using it up by making one or both of these.

Tuna Souffle Sandwiches:

4 slices of bread, spread with mayonnaise
Combine a can of tuna, chopped celery, chopped onion and a dash of salt
Spread the tuna mixture on the bread
Top with a slice of your favorite cheese
Place another slice of bread on top
Combine 3 eggs and 1 1/2 cups milk
Pour over sandwiches and refrigerator at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours
Bake at 375 for 45 minutes

Applesauce Bread Pudding:

Preheat oven to 350
Grease a 9 inch square pan and place 4 slices of bread across the bottom
Combine 2 cups applesauce, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/4 c brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Spread over the bread
Top with four additional slices of bread
Beat together 2 eggs, 2 cups milk, 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp salt, dash nutmeg
Pour mixture over bread
Top with 1/2 cup applesauce
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar
Bake 55-60 minutes

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Savings for the Cats: $25.56

Using coupons matched to sale prices we spent $3.59 at PetSmart to buy a harness for Peanut (she will need one when we go RVing), 15 cans of soft cat food, and
a large container of dental cat treats.

The harness is regularly $11.99 and we only spent $1.99 plus $0.12 in tax.
The cat food is normally $5.98 and we spent $0.41 plus $0.02 in tax.
The cat dental treats usually cost $10.99 and we spent $0.99 plus $0.06 in tax.

The coupons and sales saved us $25.56.
A good way to start the year.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018 Buying and Eating Plan

In 2017 I allotted $12. 31 a day to cover our food costs.    That comes out to $6.16 a day per person.   This covered our groceries and the cost of eating out.  We managed to end the year with $$326.60 of the money unspent.  That averaged out to $0.90 per day less than the $12.31 allocated.

Technically, I should lower our daily allocation to $11.41 a day.  However, I spent too much time in the hospital this past year.  And, health willing, I want to spend more time eating out with friends this year.

So, I am leaving our allocation at $12.30 per day and I am carrying over our $326.60 surplus.  Hopefully, that will work for 2018.

Our pantry and freezer are full, so it should be doable.  Time will tell.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Patience: My Word for 2018

Patience is something I have always wanted.  And I have wanted it NOW, as the saying goes.

This will be the year I work towards finding it.

Patience with myself.
Patience with others.
Patience with inanimate objects.

I may be constantly challenged, but I will live in hope.