Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bread and Babble

Today I made THIS. It's my second time making it because the first time worked out so well. Isn't it funny how when something works out well we want to do it over and over? I have the same kitchen tools as my friend, Jeri - a Bosch Mixer and a Nutrimill. I made one change to her recipe. I ground up a couple of cups of cornmeal from some ancient popcorn I had in the pantry and added it to the mix. This is what I love about breadbaking, you can pretty much do what you want with it and the very least you'll finish with is something edible.

But this recipe that Jeri recommended is wonderful. Actually, it's her friend's recipe, and if I ever meet her friend face to face, I'm going to thank her. The loaves come out looking like 'real' loaves of bread from the supermarket. They are soft and nice and have the right amount of loft, but do not have the uniform styrofoam stuffed with cotton taste of mass-produced supermarket bread.

Hmmm...were my feelings showing?

Here's something else I changed from Jeri's recipe. I'm not baking all five loaves at once. Here's the reason:

I only have 3 loaf pans. What I did last time was make a great big round loaf with the extra dough.

Not a good idea. The stuff was good. Really good. So good I ate it. Not all of it, but most of it.

I have a hard time saying 'no' to bread.

See, my kids only like 'real' bread that looks like bread from the supermarket. They got this 'has to look like store-bought' thing going on with their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They don't eat round bread except with spaghetti or to soak up a little gravy, but in general, oddly shaped bread bamboozles them.

To forestall a situation where it's just me, the husband and a mound of oddly-shaped bread, I have the other two loaves worth of bread rising in plastic containers. Depending on how my time goes this afternoon, I'm going to rise it a second time and bake it, or pop it into the fridge and bake it tomorrow or the next day. Or maybe the day after that.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Moving on to stockpiling...

Now that the holidays are upon us, the sales don't warrant any major squirreling away. Pros Ranch Market, Food City and El Rancho Market (I'm sorry, they still don't have a website) have good produce prices. You can get a free range turkey for 87c/pound at Sprouts. Also, dried cranberries for $2.99/lb in the bulk section. I love dried cranberries but I wish the people who make it wouldn't sweeten them first. Check out the Sunflower Market ad for fresh produce also.

Most of the grocery stores are closed on Christmas and the current ads are pretty much good through Thursday, Dec 24. If you're in the mood, it might be worth it to hit up the stores on the 26th. There may be some really good sales and the grocery stores will likely be empty because everybody will be at the malls exchanging gifts. Otherwise, with the holidays ongoing now, I'd get to the store early, get what you need and get out.

Egg nog is $2.99 a half-gallon at Fry's. I mean, what's in the stuff? Milk, nutmeg, allspice, cream and rum for those who imbibe? Gotta be a recipe out there I can make without all the sugar and fat...

off to fire up the search engine.

Ho ho ho.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Mindy/Julia Project

Last night I watched Julie/Julia. The food was divine, Meryl Streep as Julia Child was divine, Amy Adams did a good job with a character, who, considering her blog which I am only today discovering, sounds nothing like her inspiration.

Leaving me to wonder if Julie Powell got rewritten for the book.

I don't know. I have the blog and the movie, I'm good.

By the way, The Julie/Julia Project blog is here. It's funny. It's worth reading:

(first posting is in August of 2002, use calendar to navigate around)

So far in the blog, it's a lot of cream, butter and roast chicken. In honor of the movie and the blog, I decided to toss 4 whole chicken legs in the slow cooker with onion, garlic, thyme and potatoes and set my house to smelling good.

(This is why I don't understand scented candles that smell like cinnamon oatmeal. So much nicer to make real cinnamon oatmeal and save the cost of the candle.)

I just finished reading a blog post in which Julie Powell mentions that people don't eat cooked carrots much anymore. Ain't that the truth? I rediscovered them recently, which seems ridiculous, considering how much I cook. I stopped eating them because somewhere along the way carrots became 'bad' as in 'too much sugar' for weight-conscious people.


Leaving me to wonder why, after years of avoiding carrots, I failed to achieve the slim, svelte contours to which surely G*d wants me to become accustomed.

Could it be the cake? The ice cream? The donuts? The bread? Could it be crazy-a$$ diets that leave out whole food groups, demonize ingredients historically considered healthy and involve pre-made shakes?

Which is not to say that I've mended my ways and now eat only well-balanced, calorie-counted meals. But maybe, someday...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This is one of those week's when having a stockpile is good...

Because the sales are...lackluster.

(See the Stockpile Post Amendment at the end!! Not a total loss!)

Fresh and Easy has Farmer John or Smithfield hams for 77c/lb. I think that's a good price because even hams that have water added are useful to cook and use for lunchmeat.

Basha's has Value Pack pork chops for 99c/lb. That's a pretty good price.

And all other kinds of meat - you shoulda bought it already.

Pros Ranch has good produce prices this week, some extra good deals today, but nothing I'd run out of my way for. Food City tomorrow has some good produce prices and if you have one near you, it's worth stopping in.

For my part, I'm glad I have a lot of veggies and fruits packed into my freezer. Ditto on chicken, beef, and those wonderful strip steaks I got at Basha's last week. That same cut is $3.97/lb at Fry's this week.

Eggs are 99c/dz at Walgreens and milk $1.99/gallon. At Bashas, half-gallons of milk are 97c.

BUTTER is $1.47/lb at Albertsons, limit 2.

Yes, the week is boring, the prices aren't bad, but they aren't all that good. The time to buy was last week or the week before or the week before that. The holidays are here, the stores know you have to have the food, so the sales have moderated. Things will improve after the holidays. After the holidays, they figure you have a lot of leftovers in the fridge, it's cold and gray and you don't want to leave your house and you're buried under a blizzard of credit card bills. They need something to get you out to the store and the sales will be back.

THIS is why we stockpile. So when you come here and read a downer blog post like this, you can defrost a roast, steam a package of frozen veggies and make muffins from the fruit compote you put up last fall and be happy to give your grocery budget a week off.

Hunt's pasta sauce is 88c/26 oz can this week at Fry's. Fry's. Basha's and Albertson's has cheap pasta this week. Good to know if you're down to your last noodle.

STOCKPILE POST AMENDMENT! (Many thanks to Miss Deborah!):

Safeway has London broil for $1.77/lb. This makes an excellent ground beef. Have the butcher grind it for you and freeze. Very lean ground beefs are often well over $2/lb and they won't be this lean.

Whoo! I feel better. Buy butter at Albertson's and London broil at Safeway. Make hamburgers, meatloaf, meatballs. Better yet, shape it into tiny reindeer, use rosemary sprigs for antlers and sprinkle with white bread crumbs.

Put it on your kitchen table for a centerpiece.

Friday, December 4, 2009

New York, New York! It's a Heckuva Steak!

Gotta keep things family friendly, more or less, around here. :)

Basha's has New York Strip Steak, bone-in (by definition), for $2.99/lb sold whole. They are about 10 lbs each. I purchased one today for just over $30. The butcher at Basha's cut them into 1 inch steaks, cleaned and trimmed them for me. This is a complimentary service at Basha's and well worth it, considering that the already cut-up and packaged New York Strips sitting right next to the whole ones are $3.99/lb.

I'm happy when I can get New York strips for $4.99/lb, so don't miss out on this. I've had them from Basha's before an they're delicious. Add homemade garlic-mashed potatoes and a bag salad for an easy, special homemade meal.

Packages are limit 1, but I won't tell, if you stop back again for a second one. You know I'll be doing so.

EDITED TO ADD (In case you go today...):

Friday's are Donut Days at Basha's. Buy a dozen for $5.99 get 6 more free.

Just sayin'

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why I'd stop at Food City this week preferably on Thursday (produce special day)

Yes, that's THURSDAY, as in TOMORROW.

Sorry, I've been gone. Been overcome with paint fumes and overstuffed with turkey. All I can manage tonight is a list, but I put it up so you can take advantage tomorrow.
  • Banquet Pot Pies - 2 FOR $1
  • Fiesta! Crema Mexicana - 99¢ lb. (At Meat Service Counter - Wednesday Only Price. Worth the trip. Have you ever had this stuff? It's GOOD. Like less sour sour cream, if that makes any sense.)
  • Banquet Value Dinners - 88¢ (Does NOT include Classic Chicken or Select Dinners)
  • Boneless Chicken Breasts - $1.49lb. (best price in town. Time to stockpile.)
  • Boneless Beef Chuck Steak $1.99lb. (Have the butcher grind it into hamburger)
  • Green Cabbage 4 lbs $1
  • Cilantro 4 FOR $1
  • Italian or Mexican Grey Squash - 33¢ lb.
  • Cucumbers - 6 FOR 96¢
  • White Onion 5 LBS $1 THURSDAY ONLY
  • Avocados 3 FOR 99¢ THURSDAY ONLY
  • Bananas 3 LBS 99¢ THURSDAY ONLY (think adding it to the mangos below)
  • Mangos 3 FOR 99¢ (think smoothies) THURSDAY ONLY
  • Red Delicious Apples 3 LBS 99¢
Also, head over to Sunflower Market where the blackberries are 77c a container and the kiwis a mere 19c each.


Interesting tidbit: I just found out that kiwis are supposed to be eaten whole, hairy skin and all. We're not supposed to peel them. Remember when peaches had fuzzy skin? It grossed everybody out, but the peaches tasted so good. That's what kiwis are like. Here's my prediction: Somewhere somebody is working on a hairless kiwi. It will be more acceptable to us finicky civilized types, but won't taste near as good as the fuzzy, itchy kiwis we buy today.

I'll be back with more tomorrow.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What I bought today at Kmart

Cheap towels.

In bright colors.

I mean REALLY bright.

Lime, purple, red, yellow. They match the new Fiestaware. They match the new wall colors. They are quirky, and useful and they


When they wear out, rip, get used to wash the car


(The bath size are $2.50 each. Hand towels are $2.39. I use Hand towels in the kitchen. They're sturdier and more absorbent than typical kitchen textiles. Check this week's Kmart ad. I think the price is good through tomorrow at least. Maybe all week.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009


It's overwhelmed, buried under a sea of painters and ladders, plastic wrap, tarps and burly guys clunking heavy boots across the floors. Also, it's been an amazing time for couponing, so I've been busy chasing down the deals for my subs and clipping my own coupons.

In a nutshell. If you're buying a lot of groceries, you can get a turkey for free from Basha's. (spend $100, get a free turkey). I never spend that much in one trip. Otherwise, their turkeys are 39c/lb, which is still an awesome price.

Fry's has them for 37c/lb. Albertson's and Safeway are also comparably priced. So is Pros Ranch Market.

Check out the Pros Ranch ad. They're Wednesday special is good again next Wednesday because of the holiday. As are the Thursday meat specials. Most of the stores do not print out a new ad on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I presume because they figure people have so much food in the house and are so preoccupied with the holiday that they won't be out shopping the day after. But here's a tip:

Keep an eye for in-store specials (probably listed in a newspaper ad) at the major grocery stores. Last year I picked up orange juice, bacon, eggs, fruit, a few other staples for super-cheap the few days after Thanksgiving from a store flyer posted at the store.

I just looked at Pros Ranch...they have the HONEYSUCKLE turkey for 37c/lb. It's 79c/lb at most of the other stores, so if you like that brand, Pros Ranch is the place to get it.

Gotta go. I'm hoping my equilibrium returns when the smell of paint departs.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The lowdown on produce

Winter is coming and prices aren't as awesome as they were when the harvest first came in a month or so ago. That doesn't mean that prices aren't still pretty awesome. El Rancho Market's produce specials run Wednesday and Thursday. So you can still take advantage today.

This week they have fresh broccoli 33c/lb, Fuji apples 2 lbs/99c, roma tomatoes 33c/lb, potatoes - 10 lb bag for 89c.

All week, they're offering cabbage 20c/lb and cantaloupe 20c/lb.

Food City has bananas 33c/lb, cilantro and green onions 25c/bunch and mangos 33c each. As mentioned on Monday's post - chayote squashes are 20c today.

El Rancho Market wins the chicken wars this week with bonless, skinless chicken breast for $1.39/lb. Next up is Fry's at $1.57/lb. Both are good prices and worth the stockup.

Fresh and Easy has Jennie-Os basted frozen turkeys for 37c/lb. Safeway has boneless round for $1.47/lb. Cube it and slow-cook it for stew. Also, it's a good bet for grinding into hamburger.

Fry's has Kroger sugar 97c/4 lbs. I doubt it's going to get any cheaper without a coupon, so now is the time to stock up for the year. It's limit 4.

Gotta go. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to post later!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The problem with frozen produce is...

...I never seem to get to it because there are so many great deals out there on the fresh stuff.

Hello, my name is Mindy.Likes.To.Coupon and I'm a produce junkie.

Food City has chayote squash 5 for $1 on Thursday. That makes my heart go pitter-pat. How many people get happy over squash?

They also have mangos 33c each all week. Good. Been looking for something new to put in my smoothies. And shhhh...(don't tell anybody) I'm going to swing by on Wednesday to pick up fresh crema in the deli for 99c/lb. That stuff is so good, it should be illegal. I should pair it with the bacon-grease laced potatoes I fed my family yesterday. That way I can get all the guilt over at once.

I'm heading to El Rancho Market today to pick up Donald Duck Orange Juice for 99c (limit 1), Value time Paper Towels for 3/$1 (limit6) and Gamesa Marias Cookies, 4.9 oz roll, 5/$1, first 10.

Don't tell anybody about those cookies, either. They aren't for me. They're for the kids. They like to dunk them in their milk. I figure the milk balances out the empty calories from those delectable dunkable cookies.

I'm also going to get the Abuelita Chocolate tabs I told you about a few posts ago. And something called Klass Atole (4/$1). I bought a few of them last week and my family loved it. It's kind of like blancmange and you sweeten to taste, instead of that oversugared pudding you get in the box. It's great with cooked fruit.

No extra gas will be used in my pursuit of these items. It's on my way. Pretty much. And I drive a Prius, okay?

I know I'm flagged from shopping, but my family makes exceptions for cookies. And pudding.

Oh - and what's cooking at the Stockpile Lady's kitchen?

LEFTOVERS! My son made us pasta last night topped with the tomato sauce I made a week or so ago. The pasta was free with coupons and the tomatoes very cheap at Pros Ranch market. The parmesan cheese wedge that we grated fresh was not cheap, but hey! when coupons make everything else free, why not go for a little luxury?

Speaking of coupons...CouponSense is running a great promo right now. Sign up for a $4 trial month, subscribe to the Arizona Republic through CouponSense (we have great rates and several options for subscriptions) and be refunded for your trial month! So you get to see CouponSense in action for free, get the paper to read, as well as have your weekly coupons delivered right to your door, and get ME, Mindy Likes to Coupon as your very own instructor.

Kinda makes you tingly just thinking about it, huh?

Email me at at gmail dot com for details and to get signed up. C'mon, you definitely want to get signed up. Yesterday, I purchased frozen vegetables, tissues and fresh pineapples for free.

You heard me. Free.

Well, 6c. I had to pay tax on the tissues.

It was a $10 savings off the already low sale prices. That alone pays for a trial month and then some. And you know, $10 today, $30 tomorrow, $40 the next day, pretty soon, you're talking about a college fund.

And if you're already a subscriber and YOU DO NOT HAVE AN INSTRUCTOR, email me. You can also take advantage of this offer. What a deal!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Don't make this because it's truly horrible for you...

...although it is a great way to get rid of leftover mashed potatoes.

Here's the first part of the problem:

I have at least 20 25 pounds of potatoes in my pantry from various recent sales. They're holding up pretty well because they're in a cool, dry place, but they aren't going to last forever.

Here's the second part of the problem:

My family are not big eaters. I'm the biggest eater here and I'm always on a diet. That's because I'm also the biggest person here. Because I'm always on a diet, I rarely eat potatoes.

Potatoes are great fillers for meals, but my family doesn't really need fillers because they don't eat that much. They like potatoes, but the potatoes fill them up and they can't eat more.

Hence, my problem.

So I made up a bunch of mashed potatoes earlier in the week and have been looking for ways to get rid of them ever since. I made a casserole with them and the family LOVES the casserole, but there's still some left!

Because they aren't big eaters.

This morning, everybody has a hankering for eggs, or, to be more correct, bacon. I mushed up the mashed potatoes and cooked them in the grease left from the bacon and fed them to my family.

You heard me.

I didn't make much of it because with the picky eaters around here, I was afraid they wouldn't like it.

I was wrong.

So I'm making up the rest of the mashed potatoes tomorrow morning in more bacon grease and I'm going to serve it to my family.

Fortunately, it's Saturday. I can go to confession and get pre-forgiven for this impending heart-unhealthy sin.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A little more stockpiling and what I'm cooking for dinner tonight

Check out Albertson's ad.

They have a 5 for $5 sale going on through Tuesday.

Pineapples - $1
5 lbs Pillsbury flour - $1 (please get unbleached, whole wheat if it's offered!)
Albertson's cereal - $1 - good variety.


Soooo, what's cooking at the Stockpile Lady's Kitchen tonight?

That whole turkey breast I got for free at Fry's yesterday. Yes, I said free. There's a coupon for a free turkey if you spend $100 in the Albertson's circular this week. Fry's is taking competitor coupons. Hence, free turkey.

But, Mindy, we thought you said you spent under $60.

That's AFTER coupons. The cool thing is Fry's will honor a promo price BEFORE coupons. Since I saved over $300 yesterday, making $100 BEFORE coupons wasn't difficult.

Back to the turkey breast:

My freezers are packed. There just isn't anymore room. That's why I have to cook the turkey breast. When it's defrosted, I'll split it and pressure cook it with onion, garlic and whatever else looks good.

I have leftover mashed potatoes. I'm going to 'remake' them with some free Garlic and Herb Marie Callender's croutons I picked up a while back (soften with balsamic vinegar, mix into thinned down potatoes.) I'll put the potatoes in individual casseroles, place thin slices of turkey breast over that, top the whole thing with chedder and broil for a few minutes.

I think I'll add a layer of frozen broccoli from one of the many free or near-free bags of frozen veggies populating my freezers. I'll put that under the turkey.

It'll be kind of like a turkey, chedder, broccoli sandwich over herbed bread. It'll look great and I'm making it for pennies.

The rest of the turkey I'll refrigerate in the coldest part of my fridge, in the gellee left from the pressure cooking, sit back and try to think of other inventive things to do with it in the days to come. It's almost 9 pounds. The family will be turkey'd out by Thanksgiving.

The good news is, if I can clear some of those frozen veggies, I may be able to finagle some room to foodsaver and freeze some of the turkey before my family is tired of it.

Which is to say...

My family has flagged me from food shopping for a while. They say to eat what we have. I'm forced to agree or put an addition on our house for all the extra food. Therefore, aside from my stockpiling posts, you'll be subjected to running litanies of my daily attempts to eat a dent into our stockpile.

Preferably without me getting fat.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

El Rancho Market - a stockpiler's haven

I meant to put this up earlier, but I lost my ad. Then I found it. Then I lost it. Then I found it. Lost it. Found it. Lost it. And finally...


found it.

(Oh please great corporate people who run El Rancho Market, take pity on me, your lowly, forgetful novitiate and put up a WEBSITE.)

Until then, I must be satisfied with a single ad, mailed to arrive on Tuesday.

Here goes:

T-bone steak, 3.77/lb, limit 2
Milk is $1.50/gallon
18 ct. Hickman's Large Eggs, $1.50
Betty Crocker Cake Mix - 77c
Ronzoni Smart Taste Pasta - 99c

(savvy couponers among you know there are coupons out there for the Ronzoni.)

But the real reason, El Rancho Market holds a place in my stockpiling soul this week? Or at least tomorrow, Thursday? The following specials!

Bananas 4/99c
tomatoes 4/99c
Cilantro 5 bunches/99c
Radishes 6 bunches/99c
Red Globe Grapes 69c/lb
Mexican Squash 3 lb/99c
10 lb bags of chicken leg quarters, 39c/lb or $3.90 for the bag

And piloncillo. That stuff I was so happy to get on sale at Pros Ranch a few weeks ago? Only 33c/lb.


Abuelita Chocolate, the 19 oz size is $1.99. Go to the website, here, and register and you can print two coupons worth 75 cents each. That makes the chocolate $1.24. As lovely as Abuelita chocolate is, it's even lovelier at over 1/3 off the sale price.

If you haven't an El Rancho near you, stop in at Food City for their Thursday produce specials:

cukes 20c each
cabbage 25c/lb
FUYU Persimmons!!! - 25c each
Mexican squash - 33c/lb

1 lb bags of carrots are 33c all week.
Brown Onion are 25c/lb all week
Chayote are 25c/lb all week
Wanted to point out that hats, gloves and fleece throws are cheap at Walgreen's this week. They also have a bunch of small appliances on sale for $7.99 each. I own and use a few of them regularly, so I'll attest that you'll get your $7.99 worth and beyond out of them.

And always, ALWAYS check out the clearance bin. You never know what will pop up there. The other day I picked up a ton of storage containers for a few dollars.

Pros Ranch had good deals this week, just not good enough for me to drive the distance. Be sure to check out the ad. Also, Fry's Mega-Event, even if you don't coupon, has some great prices. Of course, if you couponed, you might have done like I did today and walked out of the store with two carts full of food for under $60.

You know the drill. Sign up for CouponSense, use my referral number, choose Mindy C****** from the instructor list and you too can hold up a line of disbelieving shoppers while they watch your total drop, drop, drop.

Fry's is taking competitor coupons this week.

I'll be back.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh My Goodness! HALLOWEEN!!

When did my kids become such social butterflies? Seems all I'm doing is dealing in costumes and parties and errands. This is a great week for those who coupon. The deals are amazing. Here's a way to take advantage if you're just thinking about couponing:

Check the ads from yesterday's paper. There's a $3 off $30 coupon in there on the Fresh and Easy ad. Fry's is accepting competitor coupons this week, so if you take advantage of their Mega Event, even if you aren't using coupons, you can get $3 off your purchase of $30 worth of food. Also, Albertson's has a $10 off $100 coupon. Same deal.

This is a quick post:

Other deals at Fry's:

1. Pork Spareribs - 97c/lb
2. New York Strip Steaks, bone-in - $3.77/lb
3. Milk is $1.47/gallon

Moonlight Madness at Fry's today. 3 pm to 9 pm. If you're not there early, the deals will be GONE. I learned this last year. No rainchecks will be given. Good deals on apples and candy. Check the Fry's Ad.

Reasons to go to Safeway:

1. London Broil is $1.77/lb. Have the butcher grind some of it for very lean ground beef.
2. Shop before 10/31, you can buy Lucerne Ice Cream for $1.99 1.75 quarts with their 'Spooky Savings' Promo
3. Spend at least $20, you can use Safeway In-Ad coupons to purchase:
  • Safeway Apple Juice - 88c
  • Fritos - 88c
Good deals at Albertsons:

1. Whole chickens - 48c/lb - limit4
2. Bananas - 39c/lb
3. John Morrell Weiners 49c (use in-ad coupon)
4. and a $10 off $100 purchase.

Reasons to check out Bashas:

1. Bashas Sour Cream or Cottage Cheese, 16 oz - 99c (first 4)
2. Honeycrisp apples - 87c/lb - AWESOME price for honeycrisps
  • Heh. I see apples and cottage cheese together and I'm happy. I had it for breakfast this morning.
3. The Sunsations brand dish liquid is 99c/25 oz - that's a really good price. I use dish liquid for all kind of cleaning - floors, bathrooms, kitchen...even spot cleaning on the rug. I add a little vinegar to the water. It does a great job and is a lot cheaper than most commercial cleaners. If you're not sure about a surface, test an inconspicuous spot first.

Halloween Party at Basha's on Saturday!!

They have a 'Decorate Your Own' Jack-O-Lantern Cake for $5. Looks like fun. Also free cookies and cider. Another chance for the kids to wear their costumes. Go and support our hometown grocer!

Sunflower has pears 25c/lb! Doesn't a softly cooked pear over rice pudding sound good?

Also, they have Fuyu Persimmons for 50c/each. If you've never had a persimmon, now is the time to try them. They're good. Let them ripen to soft and eat like an apple, or slice to serve.

Gotta go! Hopefully next week will be less hectic!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why you should stop reading this and...

...go to El Rancho Market immediately:

See previous post for addresses for the two locations. Sorry, no website yet, I asked at the store, but boy are they serious about customer service!! I filled out a card with my name and address so they can mail me their ad every week.

Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts are $1.47/lb
Bananas are 4 lbs/99c
tomatoes are 3 lbs/99c (if you missed the screaming deal at Pro's Ranch yesterday)
Carrots are 25c for 1-lb bag
Onions are 5 lbs/99c
Iceberg lettuce is 33c/head.

Also, on the side of the ad are coupons good for today only:

64 oz Sunland Orange Juice - 99c - first 1
Food Club MaC and Cheese 33c - first 6
8 oz Food Club Shredded Cheese - 88c first 4
24 oz loaf IGA white or wheat sandwich bread - 69c first 4
Farmland Link Sausage - 50c, first 4
Tyson Bacon - $1.88, first 2


I was interested in the OJ, shredded cheese, bread and sausage. They were out of sausages, but cheerfully handed me a raincheck and advised me to keep it with the receipt and show that when I redeemed it.

I did not buy the chicken (though it is a terrific price) because I have so much chicken already, my freezer is clucking. Instead, I purchased $10 worth of goat meat ($1.79/lb) to make my own version of Birria.

The link isn't my own version of Birria, it's a recipe for authentic Birria. I'm marinating the meat in lemon juice and pico de gallo for a day or two, then will slow cook until the meat is mouth-watering tender.

I digress.

El Rancho Market, like Food City and Pro's Ranch Market, has special sales on different days of the week - Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The Thursday coupon specifically states the $10 purchase does not include the coupon items. The checkers are on top of that and will cheerfully offer to set your coupon purchases to the side until you find another 10 bucks worth to get the coupon prices. There were a couple of young guys who had me chuckling. Their basket contained only the coupon specials and a case of beer.

I'll post again with regular stockpiling.

BTW, if you're still on the 'Should I Coupon?' Fence - today I picked up 20 cans of Campbell's soup - tomato and chicken noodle and 2 jars of Ragu (the cheesy alfredo white ones). Without coupons, the sale price would have been $12.34, still good, but not near as good as the $5.34 which I paid. Took me a minute to check the CouponSense database. Another to cut the coupons. I hit the store on my way while doing other commuting. Seven bucks for 2 minutes of my time. Pretty good return on my investment.

I mean - who doesn't need to keep a few cans of soup and a couple of jars of pasta sauce on hand?

If you sign up, please use my referral code 1707971 and ask for Mindy C****** as your instructor.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Here's what I bought at Pro Ranch Market Today!!

I'll be back later for a better stockpile post, but I don't want anybody to miss out on these deals if they are anywhere near a Pro Ranch Market.

3 1 lb bags carrot
14 large onions - 7.16 lbs
2 enormous cabbages
8 kiwis (the fruit, not the people)
8 piloncillo (I have to look up what they are again, but I remembered when I saw them that I'd looked them up before and decided I'd buy them when they were on sale again. Well, they're on sale again. Look like a brown sugar thing.)
2 pretty large pumpkins, about 15 pounds each - 16c/lb. So well under 5 bucks for the two. This is the cheapest I've seen anywhere so far.
2.76 lbs Red Yams - The color on these was extraordinary. Simply extraordinary.
5 cucumbers
10 lb bag of russet potatoes - 89c/bag
9.61 lbs tomatoes
7.77 lbs bananas

Grand Total - $16.82


I found the carrots cheaper at El Rancho Market at 8901 N. 19th Avenue - 4 1-lb bags/99c and the kiwis are cheaper at Food City if you go there for the Thursday special (1o/$1) but overall, I feel like I got away with robbing a produce bank.

And my cart looked soooo beautiful, all yellow and red and orange and green (light and dark) and brown. I wish I knew how to use the camera on my phone because I wanted to take a picture.

Can't give you a welsite for El Rancho Market, though I looked long and hard. (well for a couple of minutes, anyway) It's an IGA market I just found. It opened in July. There's a second location at 1076 N. Arizona Avenue in Chandler. I didn't have time to check it out, beyond buying some beautifully fresh garlic bulbs (nice and firm, not all dried out and nasty) for 79c total. If you live near either location, I think they're worth a look see. Produce prices are much cheaper than the mainstream stores, although not as good as Pro Ranch from what I could see.

I did other shopping today, using COUPONS. I purchased

16 boxes/bags of granola bars and Nature Valley Nut Clusters
8 12-packs of coke
3 Thai Kitchen Noodles
2 big bags and 2 smaller bags of Nestle Crunches for the Trick-or-Treaters
4 boxes of Cheezits
2 candy bars (for the kiddies)

Grand total of those purchases? $26.11.

No, I'm not lying to you. No, I'm not some super-duper genius who spends all day surfing the web for deals. I'm just an everyday mom who found a Coupon Sense. Give it a try. Seriously

Give. It. A. Try.

It's 4 bucks for the 1st month, about $14 for every month thereafter. Just in the list I made above I saved enough to pay for several months worth. I do that week after week.

When you sign up, please use my referral code 1707971 and ask for Mindy C****** as your instructor (it's in the drop-down menu, you'll see it). I'll help you save big bucks for the kids' college fund, or maybe just to make the mortgage payment.

If you are already with CouponSense and you DO NOT have an instructor, please contact them and ask for me. Reference this blog, they'll put us together.

Instructors are FREE, so...take advantage of me. ;)

Monday, October 19, 2009

What I'm cooking tonight


More or less. I had some leftover steamed carrots from the weekend, and some sweet potatoes I made last night so I went to All Recipes, plugged in the ingredients and got the mash. I have plenty of cooked apples. I'm still cooking down the honeycrisps I picked up from Bountiful Baskets a week ago. I'm pressure cooking a small pork roast I picked up for 4 bucks at Fry's a few months ago to go with it. From start to finish, this is a half-hour meal.

Good eating is as easy as having yummy ingredients in your stockpile. Leftovers aren't leftovers, they're another chance to make something that will keep your family at the table and under budget.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pro Ranch is the best deal on produce this week!

This is just a nudge. I'm away and not able to do a full stockpile post. Check out Pro Ranch Market this week for great produce deals and some pretty good meat deals. Today's Wednesday produce deals are awesome pears 6 lbs/$1 for example and potatoes 10 lb/79c. Tomatoes are 4 lb/$1 all week. Pick up a bunch, make and freeze your own tomato sauce.

If Pro Ranch isn't possible for you, Food City has some pretty good produce deals on Thursday - Cukes are 5 for $1, for example. IF you've no Food City near you, check out Sunflower Markets, or Sprouts. Bashas has 5 lb of potatoes for 69c - excellent price. Bashas also has a great deal on Shamrock Farms milk - $2.99/2 gallons. It's a Buy One, Get One that works out to $1.50/gallon.

Also, Safeway has their Lucerne milk, $1.37/gallon, first 2.

If you're looking for Halloween Candy, the 99c Only stores have some pretty good deals this week.

Frys has whole chickens, 49c/lb, limit 4. Buy 4.
Safeway has Ribeyes and T-bones, bone-in, $3.77/lb. That's a good price for those cuts.
Basha's has b1g1 on it's Value pack Boneless Cross-rib or bottom-round roast. I think that will work out to $1.50/lb because the cross-rib and bottom round is $2.99 pound elsewhere in the ad. Basically, buy the big pack, get one free.

And Frys has Kroger PB, 99c/18 oz jar, which is a decent price. They are having their 'Anniversary Case-lot' sale. The prices are so-so.

If you need regular pasta, Sunflower Market has Luigi Vitelli for 77c/1 lb package.

Sorry this is so truncated. I'll post up something better when I'm back in a few days and can spend more time with the ads.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Can we talk? - baby food

When I was a new mom, I thought babies were some strange species requiring food different from the rest of us. When mine moved to solids (I had twins, I always refer to kids in twos!) I only fed them properly sealed 'Baby Food' in tiny jars and boxes lest I poison them. If there was a sale, I loaded up, but if there wasn't a sale, I loaded up anyway because the kids ate all the time and they had to have the special Baby Food or they would starve.


So one day, I'm wondering what babies ate before special Baby Food was invented. How did those pioneer ladies keep their babies alive? What did moms in third world countries do? How did Roman babies live to become Roman citizens? And how did early man ever evolve to walk on two feet without Beech-nut?


They ate food. They ate the same food their parents ate just mushed up smooth and devoid of spicing.

Duh. I knew all those degrees I got would come in handy one day. Also, I saw on Discovery Channel that in a lot of primitive cultures, moms pre-chew the food, then squirt it into baby's mouth.

You don't have to do that. This is America. We have food processors. We have blenders. We have Magic Bullets.

Do you know what's in baby oatmeal? Oatmeal. Also wheat and it looks like they spray it with vitamins or something but basically it's very fine oatmeal.

What's in baby applesauce? Apples and water

Baby peach and bananas? Peach, bananas and water

Baby chicken? Pureed chicken.

Conclusion? You can make baby food at home for pennies rather than blowing dollars on it at the grocery store. Just cook whatever you want to feed baby. Leave out the salt and the sugar. Baby doesn't need it. Pop it into the processor of your choice with a little water and whirl it until the consistency is smooth.

Feed the baby.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I just saw Basha's Ad

And I feel like an idiot.

The good news? These prices are good until Tuesday, the 13th.

The bad news? If you qualify for a senior discount - you need to get there before the store closes to take advantage.

Here goes:

Large eggs are 88c, 80c with senior discount (s.d.)
Food Club Butter, $1.50/lb - $1.35/lb with s.d.
Simply Orange or Minute Maid orange, 59 to 64 oz - $1.99, $1.79 - s.d.
Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna - 48c, 43c s.d.
Chicken Leg Quarter, sold in 10 lb bag - $4.70, $4.33 s.d. (that's 47c/lb or 43c/lb)
Food Club frozen vegetables - 16 oz, $1, .90 s.d. (Yes, it's cheaper to blanch and freeze your own, but if you know you won't do that, get these, it's a pretty good price for frozen veggies.)

So sorry I didn't put this up earlier today. I hadn't seen the ad yet. I receive them on Wednesdays usually and Bashas hadn't yet put theirs online when I went to bed.

If you're a couponer, you can get your fabric softener for free at Basha's. I picked up 3 today, enough for 3 months or more of laundry. Total cost - 50c or so in tax.

Wanna learn more? Give CouponSense a try. Four bucks. Less than the cost of a Starbucks. Please enter my referral code (1707971) and ask for Mindy C****** as your instructor.

Can we talk? - Tomato Sauce

Take a look at this!

That's my Pro Ranch ad for this week. If you've a store anywhere near you, go visit. The produce prices are amazing. The pears I bought last week were sweet and nice when ripe. I cooked them in the slow cooker along with the bananas, and cloves and cinnamon, some peaches. We've been putting them on pancakes, on ice cream, in smoothies, with oatmeal. It's just so good!

Remember, there are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday specials. Wednesday is produce, Thursday are meats, Fridays are a variety of items. Wednesday is totally worth it this week. Check the ad for your location because there is some variance in prices.

So yesterday I took the 5+ lbs of tomatoes I purchased at Pro Ranch last week (at 4 lb/99c, same price as this week) and turned it into Tomato Sauce. I'm going to teach you the Italian way of making tomato sauce. You have to pay attention because you don't want to miss any of this.

Are you ready?


Here goes:

1) Cut tomatoes in half
2) put in large saucepan with just a hint of water (waterless is best, but use anything you have)
3) turn on heat to high
4) sprinkle with a generous amount of Italian seasoning or basil or oregano or marjoram or all three or whatever you have.
5) Chop onion and garlic together, put in saucepan.
6) Cover saucepan with lid.
7) turn heat to low, simmer for 20 minutes, stirring and smooshing occasionally to keep it from burning on the bottom and make it look more liked gravy.

That's all there is to it. Cook your pasta, pour the sauce over the pasta and you have a beautiful chunky homemade sauce.

No, you do not have to blanch the tomatoes and peel them first.

It does not matter what order the ingredients enter the saucepan.

It does not matter when the ingredients enter the saucepan. If you forget the garlic, add it while it cooks.

You can't over simmer it.

You almost can't undersimmer it, except you may not like your onions and garlic underdone.

It's okay to cheat by adding onion powder and/or garlic powder instead. I won't tell anybody and you're the one eating it, not me.

If you have fresh basil in your garden, by all means, add it.

If you have capers in a jar that you haven't known what to do with, by all means, add it.

If you have any combo of roasted veggie in jars (probably picked up at the dollar store), including, but not limited to artichoke hearts, by all means, add it.

You can add that zucchini that's been sitting in your vegetable bin.

You can add those bell peppers you keep forgetting to add to salad.

You can even add ground beef, although truthfully, it will make the sauce greasy and wouldn't you really rather make Italian meatballs?

Cooking is easy.

Repeat after me:

Cooking. Is. EASY.

Go ye, and do it.

Albertsons has Pork Chops for 88c/lb this week. If you qualify for senior savings (55+, I think) take 10% or 9c off that price. Senior Savings are today only. Other than the whole chickens at Food City, nothing else of a protein nature is talking to me this week.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Early Ads Stockpile Post

Most of the ads turn around tomorrow, but Food City already has its ad out for the week and Sunflower Market puts their 'Double Ad Wednesday' up on Tuesday. Also, Bountiful Baskets has some good deals this week and spaces go fast. I'll update tomorrow for Pro Ranch Market because their ad doesn't go up until midnight and also for the major grocery stores and Sprouts. I got a peek at the ads for one of those majors and I about died of boredom, so I don't want you to miss Bountiful Baskets if you decide to go that route, or you might want to plan a trip to a Pro Ranch Market if you have one within 15 or 20 minutes. goes:

First, Bountiful Baskets:

They have honeycrisp apples - $22.50 for 30 pounds. That's 75c/lb.

My mouth waters just saying the name. These apples are sooooo good and sooooo expensive. This is a screaming price. Bountiful Baskets also has local raw citrus-mesquite honey - an 11 lb jar for $26.50 or $2.40/lb. Frankly, I don't buy enough honey to know if that's a good price, but it seems pretty good for the product being offered. I have a weak spot for really good honey, though I don't eat it much, so, yeah, I'll buy this.

In addition, you have to buy the regular basket for $15 ($18 if it's your first basket) Also, there's a $1.50 processing fee. Sooooo...$65.50 for a ton of honey, all those apples and produce for at least a week.

But gosh, can't you just imagine slicing those apples into a pie, sprinkling with clove and cinnamon, drizzling with that honey?

My big debate? Have I enough fridge space for everything because I'll be gone most of next week and won't have time to deal with the basket and apples until I get back. On the other hand, I won't be around to pick up a basket the week after and the honeycrisps may not be available anymore in three weeks. On the other hand, I could probably get those apples cooked down in one of my big pots and into freezer bags before I go. Then the produce can go in the coldest part of the fridge and will probably be fine when we get back.

On the other hand, do I have enough freezer space for all those apples?... (do I sound like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof?)

I'm still debating for myself, but be sure to grab a spot while it's still available if you decide to go this route.

Otherwise, Sunflower Market will have Jonathan apples 47c/lb starting tomorrow and canteloupes 3/$1. Yes, 3 melons for $1. Pretty good deal.

Food City has whole chickens this week 49c/lb. Unless one of the majors has something fantabulous planned for this week, stock up on chickens. Check the ad, they've got other good prices on some of their basics I've been talking about the last few weeks.

If you're a CouponSense member and do not have an instructor, I'd be happy to help you. Contact CouponSense from their homepage and give them my referral number (listed in profile) or reference this blog and tell them you'd like me for an instructor. For those of you who have not tried CouponSense, remember, if the meat and produce ads aren't exciting, the coupon deals often are. It's only $4 to try CouponSense for a month. Please use my referral number and ask for Mindy C**** under the 'choose an instructor' drop-down menu.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What a CVS addict does in her spare time...

Check out my friend and fellow CouponSense Instructor, Tracy's blog. She's posting a preview of CVS deals right from the store starting Sunday, thanks to her Blackberry and a friendly assistant manager!

Start clipping those coupons early, kids!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More Stockpiling Fun

It's kind of hard to get excited about the other ads after my wonderful shop at Pro Ranch Market today (see previous post). So I say go to Food City and get a 20-oz bottle of Food Club Mustard (I like mustard and if you need it and don't coupon, this is a good price).

Also get 6 of the FUD brand Queso Freso. My kids have fallen in love with this stuff. I don't know why. It's really bland...

Hey! Maybe that's the reason!

Pick up 3 pounds of apples, 3 bags of carrots, 4 pounds of white onions, 3 pounds of Bartlett pears and 4 Chayote Squash - These are all pretty well priced for tomorrow's Thursday Only specials. Add 3 rolls of toilet paper to the mix and you've spent less than 16 bucks total at Food City.

Safeway has Lucerne milk $1.39/gallon, first 2 only. Sprouts has cantaloupe for 50c each. Sunflower Market has Short Grain Brown Rice in the bulk bin for 69c/lb.

Albertsons has Half and Half for 99c and 25 sq ft of aluminum foil for 99c. Also strawberries for a buck a pint.

I think the 99c/can for Evaporated milk at Fry's is pretty good. I'm debating whether it will go cheaper. I think it will. Back in my pre-children days, I kept a few cans of these around for my coffee in case I ran out of milk and didn't want to run to the store. And if you're desperate for corn flakes, the Kroger value brand is on sale for 99c.

Which brings me to Basha's and my most recent obsession - dehydration. Broccoli and cauliflower are 69c/lb at basha's. I'm wondering if I cook and dehydrate the broccoli if I could then Magic Bullet it in a coarse powder and use that to make 'instant' broccoli soup at a later date.

I'm thinking I could toss it into a watered down chicken broth, maybe add some half and half or milk, a little salt and onion...

I'll let you know. I googled for homemade dehydrated broccoli soup, but all I could find were companies that sell already dehydrated stuff for camping or preparedness or bachelors who do their cooking over a bunsen burner.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Pro Ranch market again for the chicken meat mentioned in the previous post. I'm also going to check the store out a little more closely.

Oh! Challenge Butter is 88c for 1/2 pound at basha's this week. Go to the Challenge Dairy Website and sign up for a printable coupon. Once it doubles, the butter will be free. You should be able to print it twice. That makes for a pound of butter for free.

Free is good.
Couponing is fun.

Coupons can make a kinda blah week like this into a more interesting week. CouponSense makes it easy. If you'd like to give it a try, go for a trial month at CouponSense for $4.00. Please use my referral number noted in my profile and asked for Mindy C***** as your instructor.

If you're already with CouponSense and do not have an instructor, I'd be happy to work with you. Just email and let them know you'd like me for an instructor. They'll put us together.

Doing the Stockpile-Part 1, at Pro Ranch Market

Everybody should check this place out at least once.

Here is what I bought there this morning because I wanted to take advantage of their Wednesday specials. I'll do a better stockpile tonight, but I don't want you to miss out on these great prices.

Here ya go:

7.34 lbs Bartlett Pears (99c/6 lbs!)
3.87 lb Black Beans (99c/2 lbs)
3 8 oz packages of mushrooms (99c each and they were GORGEOUS)
6.23 lbs peaches - (99c/2 lbs) I know I bought from Bountful Baskets a couple of weeks in a row, but they're all cooked down and frozen already!
5.45 lb Tomatoes - 99c/4 lbs
6 Avocadoes - 99c/4
9.06 Seedless Watermelon - 99c/7 lbs
8.17 lb bananas 99c/4 lbs
2 half gallons of OJ - $1.99/each
Two enormous bottles Downy Fabric softener (1.99/first 2)
48 rolls of toilet tissues. (24 paks - $3.99 each)

Total, including tax was 32.25!!

This store may be out of your way, and they don't put up their ad until midnight on the day the sale begins, but I think planning a run for their Wednesday special is probably wise. I'll be dehydrating and cooking down and freezing most of the bounty. The kids are going to love seeing that watermelon.

Pull out the cost of the toilet paper, the OJ and the fabric softener, it was about 16 bucks for almost 42 pounds of produce and 6 avocados. That's about 34c/lb on average.

There are other great Wednesday specials going on like Yams 33c/lb and Kiwi 7 for 99c. Also there are Strawberries for 99c/pint, but they hadn't arrived yet when I was there. I know the 99c Only Store has them for the same price this week, so I didn't wait.

Tomorrow, I plan a return for boneless, skinless chicken leg meat for 88c/lb. I was so happy to get it for $1.29/lb at Food City a week or so ago, now I'm REALLY excited.

By the way, Food City has the leg meat again for $1.29/lb today, as part of THEIR Wednesday special. They also have liver for 69c/lb. If you liked the liver a few weeks ago, now is your chance to try your hand at it again.

Tomorrow, Food City has some pretty good produce specials - Chayote 4 for $1, for example. It's a good alternative if it's not practical for you to find a Pro Ranch Market.

I'll be back tonight with a little more info on stockpiling. I have to unpack the groceries!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Find me on Facebook!

Hello, $50 Stockpile People! Find me on Facebook. I'm:

Mindy Likestocoupon

Clever, huh?

If you're already on Facebook, friend me. I'm lonely over there. If you're not already on Facebook, join and friend me. If you do, you'll see my lame profile pic. I even give you permission to point and laugh.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pick and Choose Week - Stockpile Post

There's some really good stockpiling out there this week, but it requires a little planning. Here's what I'm buying:

Today, I head to Pro Ranch Market (Location #5) for their Wednesday Specials:

tomatoes - 25c/lb
Bananas - 33c/lb
grapes - 69c/lb
zucchini (Italian Squash) - 33c/lb
brown onions - 6 lb/$1

Also, here are items on sale thru Tuesday that I'll pick up today:

dried pinto beans - 50c/lb
The Jamaica Hibiscus tea I wanted last week - $2.39/lb
Verdolagas (aka Purslane) 33c/lb - I found this YouTube video that tells you about Verdolagas and how to cook them. They're very good for you.

By the way, here's the ad page for the Thomas St. Store for what is catching my eye at Pro Ranch Market. Different stores have different prices, so go right to the ad to figure out what you want to buy, or if the prices warrant a visit.

Also cheap this week at Pro Ranch are Golden Delicious apples at 33c/lb and pears for 33c/lb, but I'm putting the pears in the Food City list because that store may be more convenient for most people.

Food City
has some great deals this week in produce. Check out their Thursday specials:

Chayote Squash and Cucumbers are 5 for $1. Remember way back when I talked about making a cooling drink with the cucumbers? You'll have to look it up, no time to look for links right now. Also, for those who didn't purchase from Bountiful Baskets, peaches are 50c/lb and as I mentioned previously pears are 33c/lb.

Pork chops are 88c/lb at Fry's this week, limit 2 and pineapples are $1/each, limit 4. I'll also head to Safeway on Friday, Saturday or Sunday for 99c raspberries, limit 4.

That's it for me this week. What am I doing with all that produce? The tomatoes will be dehydrated and also turned into an al fresco tomato sauce, which I'll freeze because I'm too lazy to can. (Yes, al fresco and freezing is a controdiction in terms, but you get the idea. Just cook the stuff down and put it in freezer bags.)

I'm cooking down what fruit we don't eat, or dehydrating it. My kids are lately into smoothies, so all the bananas and fruits are making healthy snacks for them. Also, I put anything overripening into muffins and pancakes, or cook it down. Produce never goes to waste in my house.

Do I seem like a squirrel storing nuts for the winter? That's because I am. I prefer my family eat fresh food, minimally processed. I try to keep sugar and bad fats out of their diet. This is autumn, the time of bounty and a great time to put it all away because in winter, it's apples and bananas until you want to scream. Not so much here in Phoenix, but prices do go up in winter. Stockpiling now, while prices are low, ensure you won't be spending that cash as the holidays close in. And wouldn't it be nice to have plenty of food on hand in January, when all the holiday bills come due and it's time to pay taxes?

Other good prices - cantaloupes 50c/each at Sprouts. Walnuts are $2.99/lb in the bulk bin at Sunflower markets.

Have a great week, everybody!

EDITED TO ADD: How to cook a porkchop!

This is an old Italian method of doing it and very fast.

Put a couple of cups of water in a skillet.
Add Pork Chops
Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning, salt, pepper.
Cover and cook for 20 minutes, simmering and adding more water if the water boils away.
Sprinkle with bread crumbs
Turn off heat, let finish in the dry pan. The bread crumbs absorb most of what moisture is left. Since there is fat on the pork chops, that boils off with the water and provides enough coating on the pan to keep the chops from sticking.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Adventures in Cooking

Today I went to Dottie's Kitchen Store out in Sun City for a lesson in pressure cooking. It was almost my first time there. Greg demonstrated how to pressure cook a hamburger rice medley, chicken and dumplings, and a bread pudding I might well be tempted to commit a crime to get.

Of course, I had to buy the pressure cooker, if, for no other reason than to keep me out of jail. And it's a nice pressure cooker, a wonderful pressure cooker, a cadillac of pressure cookers.

Or at least I presume, it won't arrive in stock for a week or so. In the meantime, I decided to pressure cook a chicken in my old pressure cooker, an ancient presto that was ancient when I picked it up for a few bucks at a flea market 20 years ago.

Here's what I learned:

It is indeed true that one can pressure cook a chicken from the frozen state. It's equally true that if one pressure cooks a chicken for longer than the recommended time, one will have high-calcium chicken because the bones will melt.

I'm eager to make that bread pudding, but it has to wait until my new baby arrives. Don't worry, my old pressure cooker is finding a good home with a friend who does not have one.

Whole chickens are 49c/lb at Basha's thru Tuesday. Limit per store visit is 3. Buy the limit. Go back and buy more. If you have a pressure cooker, you can get that chicken from frozen to done in under an hour.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How to Handle the Great Ho-Hum - This week's stockpile post

Blech. Nothing excites me this week. Even the coupon deals aren't making my heart go pitter-pat. I'm sticking with my Food City list I gave in my previous post, but I'm adding a few things:

Bashas has whole chickens for 49c/lb, limit 3. Buy 3. Go back and buy 3 more. I don't know how big the chickens are. I'll guess 4 or 5 pounds, so that's about 4 chickens for 10 bucks. That equals 8 dinners:

Slow cook the chicken whole the first day. Add a little water, onion, celery, etc. Save the resulting broth. On the second day, or maybe the third (have something else the evening in between) cook rice in the chicken broth. Add whatever leftover chicken meat there is to the dish. If you didn't season it heavily when you first made it, toss the chicken/rice mixture with a little Italian salad dressing.

I'm checking out a new store this week - The Pro Ranch Market. There are six locations in Phoenix. The stores on Thomas, Indian School and Camelback have better prices than the others. I'm hitting the Indian School store tomorrow to pick up tomatoes at 25c/lb and avocados 6 for $1. Also probably some bananas, because bananas taste good. I'm also intrigued by the Jamaica Hibiscus tea, sold as loose flowers by the pound. I'm on a diet, so I'm interested in making it iced with stevia as a treat.

OOPS! My bad. Pro Ranch Market runs it's ads from Wednesday to Tuesday as do most of the grocery stores. I was looking at an expiring ad last night. It's still worth a trip if you are somewhat nearby one in your travels because the really good Wednesday specials are bananas 3 lb/99c, carrots, 4 lb/99c and 10 lb bag of potatoes for 99c.

Otherwise, I'm going with Bountiful Baskets again this week. I'm getting more of the peaches and more of the gala apples. My dehydrator and slow cooker were my best friends this week. The apples came out so sweet, just like candy. I'm dehydrating some peaches overnight. I'll let you know how they came out. Otherwise, I used my slow cooker to make compote with allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon and just a little honey. So simple. Toss as many peaches as you can into the slow-cooker, stir it up, leave it alone for a few hours.

And no, I didn't peel the peaches. Or any apples. Believe me, if I have to start peeling stuff, I won't make it. I think everything came out just fine.

This year, I've decided not to buy fruit out of season, especially peaches. Peaches out of season are nasty. They rot instead of ripening and mostly taste like plastic.

I'm going to dehydrate some of the pears from Food City, also.

And here's a recipe to go with everything, courtesy of my friend, Tracy. This is from the Crockpot 365 blog. I think it looks really good, but I had to laugh at the end when the blog author said she wouldn't be making it again. If you try it, let me know how it came out. Chicken and apples and chicken and peaches would be good search terms for recipes this week.

Here's the recipe:

Well, there ya go. Maybe not so ho-hum as I was thinking, just required a little more searching to find good deals. Those of you out in the Chandler/Mesa area should check out Superstition Ranch Market. My fellow couponers at CouponSense say it's a great place for produce out that way.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mmmm...good eating on a budget and a giveaway!

Calling all stockpilers! Head over to my friend, Jeri's blog (Budget Menu, link in sidebar or right here) and check out her ideas and menus for the week. She has a recipe for celery bread pudding/stuffing that actually had me salivating just to read it. That's a good thing because celery is only 50c a bunch at Sunflower Market this week. Jeri's pairing it with pork.

Also, it's the last day for her Fry's gift certificate giveaway, so get on over and put a comment on the post she references.

Also, for anybody looking ahead, I've been checking out the Food City ad. Food City runs their ads from Monday to Sunday. On Wednesdays, they have extra terrific prices on meat/cheese/fish items and on Thursdays, you'll find really great deals on selected produce.

This week, on Wednesday, they have boneless chicken leg meat for $1.29/lb and crema for 99c/lb. On Thursday, white onions are 20c/lb, pears are 33c/lb and peaches are 50c/lb.

Additionally, Fud brand Queso Fresco is 99c for 9 ounces and 7 oz bags of Pagasa Pasta is only 17c/bag.

Now I like whole wheat pasta, but do see uses for regular pasta, like making homemade chicken helper you can freeze for a cook-ahead meal. I'll be back on Wednesday with a recipe for it. I want to try it out first, but I'm thinking 2 lbs chicken meat, queso fresco, onion, garlic chopped up, maybe some coriander, put in a freezer bag and frozen. When ready to cook, defrost ahead of time, put in skillet, cook a minute just to give the chicken a little bit of go ahead, then add 2 cups of water plus the noodles and cook for 12 to 15 minutes. A little cornstarch should help to thicken things up. Add more water if the noodles aren't cooking quite right.

Gotta go. Also, the chayote squash are 3 lbs for $1 at Food City this week. I love that stuff.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bountiful Stockpiling

Food City is my choice this week for general stockpiling. They have boneless chicken breasts for $1.39/lb. I don't know if the chicken breasts are also skinless. Even if they are not, it's still a great price.

Also, on Thursday, Food City has some great prices on produce. This week it's

White Onions - 20c/lb
Barlett Pears - 33c/lb
Granny Smith Apples - 25c/lb
Peaches- 50c/lb

Bananas are 33c/lb, limit 10 lbs, until Sunday

Also, the Bar-S Bologna is still 49c/package, limit 4 packages and sandwich bread is 79c/loaf if you're looking for something cheap to make school lunches.

Here's what I'm doing this week - I'm purchasing from Bountiful Baskets. This is a local co-op that offers high-quality produce at good prices. This is only my second time purchasing from them and I enjoyed my first basket so much, I decided to give them another try. In addition to their normal 'basket' ($15.00 for repeat customers, $18.00 if it's your first purcahse) I'm purchasing a 38 lb box of Gala Apples for $16.50 (that works out to about 43c/lb) and a 32 lb box of Utah peaches for $20 (that's 62.5c/lb).

If you want to give Bountiful Baskets a try, you have to order by 10 pm tomorrow night. The pickup date is Saturday and they have a variety of pickup spots around the city and the state as well as sites in other states. Check them out. Be sure to read all their terms and conditions before you purchase. There are no refunds and if you miss your pick up, your order will be donated.

Yes, apples and peaches are cheaper at Food City, but the apples aren't galas and I don't know if the peaches are from Utah, so I'm giving this a shot. Since I'm a repeat customer, I'll pay $53.00 total for a big basket of fruits and vegetables and the Galas and the Peaches. Were I a new customer, it would cost me $56. By the way, the produce from my first basket with them lasted my produce loving family more than a week. Pretty good deal for 15 bucks.

And yes, it's a lot of fruit and no, I'm not canning it. I'm not even freezing most of it.

I'm dehydrating it.

You read right - I'm drying it out.

About 15 years ago I picked up a Mr. Coffee Food Dehydrator, used it a couple of times and packed it away. I pulled it out the other day because I had some produce getting ready to go bad. I dried banana slices, apple slices, and tomato slices. I got the idea for the tomato slices from a fellow couponer at CouponSense. She suggested drying them down to chips, so I did.


I mean, WOW!

So sweet and nice. Next time I get tomatoes for cheap I'm going to salt the slices before dehydrating and enjoy the crisp, sweet, salty flavor. I'll also dry some to a more pliable state for sun-dried tomatoes.

Here's the deal - I like dried fruits, but I don't like the price tag. I also don't like the added sugar and preservatives often added to them. My dried apples contained apples, nothing else. The bananas were made of banana. In the future, I plan to try my hand at fruit leather and I'd like to try pureeing cooked vegetables, salting them and making dehydrated veggie chips - no oil.

Do some googling on dehydrating food. See if it's something you'd like to try. Before you purchase one, try out a friend or neighbor's unit. When you do purchase one, go cheap and see what you can find at Salvation Army, or St. Vincent dePaul or Goodwill for a few dollars. Run it during the cheap electricity hours to cut down those costs. My understanding is that more expensive units use less power because they work faster, so it's a trade-off, but best to be sure you like this kind of cooking before making a big investment.

Dried fruits and veggies keeps beautifully and are great for a stockpile. You can reconstitute them in water, add them to soups, use them in baked goods, endless possibilities. Because the fruits are so sweet, they make great snacking for the kids. Also great for backpacking because they're so much lighter.

Other great deals for this week:

Milk is $1.43/gallon at Basha's, $1.39/gallon at Albertson's and $1.37/gallon at Fry's. All are for the first 2.

Fry's is running it's Case Lot sale. You can buy by the unit. Tuna is 47c/can and the Value Brand sugar is $1.69/4 pounds. Fry's tomato sauce is 15c/can. Check the ads, lots of good prices. If you'd like to get a lot of the sale items for way cheaper than the ad, check out CouponSense. It's only 4 dollars for the first month. Please use my referral number 1707971 when you join and choose me, Mindy C*** as your instructor. I'll show you how to get the most for your money.

EDITED TO ADD: Raspberries are $1 for 6 oz at Fry's. Y'all know how much I love raspberries, so enjoy!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

And what if all you have to spend is 50 bucks?

I'm doing something a little different this week. I want to show how you can spend 50 bucks and get enough food to feed your family dinner, some breakfasts and some snacks and still have items to stockpile. No cakes and cookies on this list – if you've been stockpiling with me you probably have baking supplies stockpiled, cooked down fruit frozen in the freezer, possibly even frozen cream and half and half for making ice cream. No frills, this is a list of mostly fresh food that will give you a pretty varied diet without making you feel as if you are on a budget.


ribs – 88c/lb – limit 2 packs. I don't know how many pound are in a pack, so I'll presume 7 pounds each for a total of 14 pounds at $12.32

chicken leg quarters sold in 10 pound bags at 38c/lb or $3.80 for one, total $7.60 for 20 pounds.

10 of bags of russet potatoes – limit 2 – for 99c/each – buy 2 for $1.98

Stop right there – That's $21.98 for 44 pounds of food. Pretty good deal. Take the potatoes out of their bags and store in a basket in a cool, dark, dry place – like your pantry. Use to make side dishes. 20 pounds should last you 2 weeks or more.

Also get a seedless watermelon for $1.99 – there's 12 to 16 pounds in size. Who needs dessert when you've got watermelon?

An aside: Have you noticed that watermelons never have seeds? I prefer the taste of the seeded variety. I also like to spit the seeds into the grass, or speculate if a vine would grow in my stomach should I swallow one.

By the way - with the coupon on the front page of the Basha's ad, you can pick up Bar S hot dogs for 28c with an additional $20 purchase, so you just make it with the items purchased above. Go here and print out a coupon for the hot dogs, stack it with the store coupon (don't worry, that's allowed) and you get those hot dogs for FREE. (Isn't couponing fun?)

Sunflower Market

eggs – 99c/dozen

avocados – 3 for $1

raw almonds - $2.99/lb (this is a SMOKING price)

Avocado makes a wonderful sandwich mashed with a little salt and balsamic vinegar on toast. If the toast is whole wheat (preferably homemade), it's a very healthy and filling lunch.

Eggs would be great for breakfast a few mornings a week with some of the leftover potatoes from a previous night's dinner.

Almonds are great in cooking, in cereal, with fruit and yogurt and alone for snacking.


Vine ripened tomatoes for 77c/lb

Corn on the cob - 20c/each

Toss some sliced tomato on that avocado sandwich, or in the eggs, or grill them with the ribs or chicken. One of my latest things is to saute tomato cut side down in a flat pan with white wine vinegar and chopped garlic. No oil. Very tasty, very low calorie.

And corn goes with bbq. At 20c/ear, eat a lot of it.

Fresh and EasyBold

Strawberries – 98c/lb

red bell pepper – 2 for 98c

Bell pepper is great in eggs, cooked with chicken, chopped with avocado. Put the strawberries in oatmeal I hope you purchased a few months back when it was 50c/lb and eat for breakfast on the days you aren't eating eggs. Or you can pick up some cheap cornflakes for 98c/box instead.

Food City

Campbells Pork and Beans are 25c/can – pick up a dozen. These are great for quick lunches, as a side dish for dinner or breakfast and even make good snacks. Great to have around when you don't have a plastic container full of pressure-cooked pintos on hand.

Cucumbers – 25c/each – salads, snacking, in sandwiches

broccoli or cauliflower – 69c/lb – I like both and both are so full of vitamins and fiber.

Cantaloupe – 33c/lb

It's a melon kind of week – most other fruits are a lot more expensive. I meant to get this list up earlier and tell you to run to Food City for their Thursday specials – today is was cheap apples, oranges and pears, also onions. I'll do better next week. Definitely check out the Food City ads when they come out on Monday. They often have wonderful deals on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Also, pick up a couple of pounds of Tilapia fillets at $1.99 pound


chunk of shredded Kroger cheese for 97c/8 oz. Pick up 6


Pasta at 99c/box – pick up 2

Milk is cheapest at Fry's and Basha's for $1.99/gallon this week and if you MUST pick up store bought bread – Fresh and Easy has it for 88c/loaf.

There ya go. You'll spend at most 50 bucks on the above – and that's with stuffing your fridge. You'll have enough to make 2 rib dinners, 2 chicken dinners, 2 pasta dinners (al fresco sauce and shred some cheddar over it, if you like) and a fish dinner. You'll have at least a rack of ribs to stockpile in the freezer and probably 15 pounds of chickens to store there also as well as a couple of pounds of cheese. Breakfast is taken care of and so are a lot of lunches. And there's plenty of healthy snacking. Remember all that rice I had you buy last week. Shred cheese over it, slice some red pepper rings on it, or some tomato and cook until bubbly. That's a great lunch or dinner. Makes a good side with eggs the next day.

That's it for this week. If you'd like to learn more about eating good on the cheap and getting lots of groceries for free, log into CouponSense, sign up for a trial month, list me as your referral (number 1707971) and choose me for your instructor (Mindy C****). It's only 4 bucks for the first month and I promise you you'll get that investment back many times over in the first week.

Have a great holiday!

Monday, August 31, 2009

When is more than enough too much?

Anybody who has been stockpiling with me here for a while, and previously on the CouponSense message board may be noticing that their freezer is stuffed, their pantry cabinets overfloweth and their refrigerator is on the verge of harboring science projects.


Stop buying for a while and eat what you have.

The beauty of the stockpile is to save money. If every week you're spending $50 to stockpile and you never eat it, you're just spending an extra $50, not saving any money. Try 'shopping' out of your stockpile for a while. Turn that extra $50/week into the total $50/week you spend on groceries. Now take the extra $50/week and put it in a savings account, start a college fund, make extra principal payments on your mortgage.

Here's another challenge to look forward to, take that $50 a week you're going to limit yourself to for groceries and get your stockpile out of it also. It's not hard, it's really not hard. It just requires a change of focus.

To wit:

Can what I want to eat be made better and cheaper from scratch?

That's a trick question, the answer is almost always 'Yes'.

Couponing is a great way to stockpile all those other items that eat at the grocery budget, such as cleaning supplies, paper products, shampoo, soap, deodorant, shaving cream, and yes, convenience foods. CouponSense is a system for matching up coupons with weekly sales to make sure these items cost pennies on the dollars you're probably used to using. The investment will pay you back the very first time you use it.

If you decide to give it a try, please use my referral code, 1707971, and choose me, 'Mindy C*****', as your instructor from the dropdown list when you sign up.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Stockpile Post - Liver and Onions

In a fit of synchronicity, the universe responded to a recent conversation between my husband and I regarding, 'How comes nobody eats liver and onions, anymore?' with a screaming deal on liver.

And onions.

The liver is at Food City until Sunday for 59c/lb and the onions are at Albertsons 3 lbs/$1.

I'm willing to bet that liver and onions has fallen so out of favor that there are entire generations of you reading who've never eaten it. Perhaps you didn't know that it was something you COULD eat.

I don't know what the real reasons are for why people don't eat liver, so I'll make something up:

Liver was supposed to be really good for you because it contained a lot of iron. Cod Liver was something kids who lived in the days of Beaver Cleaver and before had to muscle down by the tablespoonful every time they caught a sniffle. I don't know why that was, but it probably had something to do with the fact liver meat is high in iron, so good for the blood, and good blood keeps the sniffles away.

How am I doing on my made up history?

People ate liver because it was good for them. Once a week to keep their blood up. Early Weight Watchers programs required that you eat liver once a week and people choked it down even though they didn't like liver and they really didn't like Cod Liver Oil.

Then nutrition science and medical science collided. Liver contained a lot of cholesterol which made it very bad for you instead of very good for you and nobody had to eat liver anymore and liver was consigned to the pet food factories and manufacturers of paté.


Hold it. Not YAYYYYY!!!!

Not even 'yay'. Because liver tastes good when it's cooked good. That means not cooking it until the leftovers can be used to resole a worn heel. Cook it gently, with plenty of liquid, and a deft hand and liver is a treat.

Now the onions? Cook those for a really long time, preferably in a little bacon fat. Yes, this is probably horrible for your arteries, but I'm not saying to eat it once a week, I'm saying to eat it once in a while.

When the onions are soft and carmelized and whatever, put the thinly sliced liver in the pan with some chicken broth. Give it a minute, flip it, give it another minute, lay it over the bed of onions, serve with fava beans and a good chianti.

Sorry, I couldn't resist that last independent clause.

Look, at less than a buck for a pound of liver and and a pound of onions, give it a go. If you don't like it, toss it down the disposer. (Don't give it to your dog because somewhere in my travels I heard that onions are bad for them, although they never seemed to bother my dog any).

If you like it, you can always buy more liver for 59c/lb and freeze it for another time. If you don't, at least you followed the advice you give your kids to 'give it a try'.

By the way, it generally take 3 to 10 tries to develop a taste for something, so don't sell your first attempt short.

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah! Stockpiling.

Here's what else I'd buy at Food City:

4 dozen medium eggs at 79c/dozen
4 packages of Bar-S bologna at 49c/lb
bananas at 33c/lb (remember the muffin mix mentioned in the last post?)
chayote squash at 33c/each (I'm a newly-minted fan of this stuff, having tried it for the first time recently.)
Blue Ribbon Long Grain White Rice - 49c for a 2-lb bag, 4 bag limit.

I know I advocate brown rice, but this is such a good price and rice is a great base for so many recipes, that I'd be remiss in my duty not to recommend 8 pounds of it for 2 bucks.

At Albertsons, I'd get:

a 2 lb bag of carrots for $1
6 ears of corn for $1
And those yellow onions I mentioned earlier.
I'd also buy about 10 pounds of the boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.57/lb because that's about a low as I've seen them in the last year.

Then go to Bashas to get:

16 oz containers of Bashas cottage cheese for 88c each. - That's a really good price. I whirl different fruits into smoothies with my Magic Bullet and pour it over my cottage cheese for a low-fat, high protein, high fiber treat. This morning I made a peach/blueberry mix. Yum.

half gallons of milk are 88c/each - best price in the area this week.

London Broil for $1.67 pound. I'd marinate some and have the butcher grind some up for very lean hamburger. These are value packed at 2 steaks to a pack and you're limited to buying 2 packs at a time.

Baby portabella mushrooms - 8 oz for 99c (for the steak)


grapes - 67c/lb

I'm thinking a chicken salad kind of thing with those chicken breasts, some of the walnuts I hope you purchased a few weeks back and the grapes. Grapes and chicken taste SO GOOD together.

Sprouts has

Raspberries - 99c - grab and eat as many of these as you can.
Broccoli crowns - 77c/lb - I really like broccoli, you may have guessed
Cauliflower - 99c/head - I also really like cauliflower

Have a good week!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why stockpile?

Does this seem like a 'duh' kind of question? If so, you probably already stockpile and can go back to eating your five-minute muffins with freezer jam.

I didn't mention the five-minute muffins? I did, I just didn't call them that. It's when you make up a bunch of muffin mix on a lazy Sunday and use it to make muffins whenever you feel like it, or whenever you have a lot of fruit threatening to overripen. This afternoon I made banana five-minute muffins for my twins to snack on during the after school chauffeur chase. Here's my mix:

5 cups corn meal
5 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups non-fat dry milk
7 tablespoons baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp salt

To make the muffins, I use 2 1/2 cups of muffin mix, 1 egg, 1/4 cup oil, 1 cup water and whatever additions I want to make like applesauce or bananas or blueberries or cinnamon or nutmeg or cloves. Whatever makes me happy.

I bake at 425 for 15 to 20 minutes.

The five minute part is the stirring it in the bowl and dropping into the non-stick muffin tin once the mix is made. All the heavy measuring is done. I use a 1/4 cup measure to measure everything, so there's not much to stick in the dishwasher when I'm done. This makes a dozen normal-sized muffins, but you might want to keep the bowl at the ready because I've seen a dozen disappear in 10 minutes on a Sunday morning.

Which I guess means I could call them Ten Minute Muffins, huh?

Which is pretty much the truth since making the actual homemade mix only takes five minutes.

I'm babbling, aren't I?


The point is, the reason this is so effortless is because I stockpile. I pick up the flours and other supplies when they are on sale and cheap - generally around Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter - and use it all year. Squeamish about bugs getting into the flour? Store it in the freezer for a few days first to kill anything that's germinating.

Stockpiling is like having a savings account. It's security. It's 'sticking it to the man' so you're not at the mercy of the manufacturers or grocery stores or restaurants when you have a craving for barbecued ribs. Or pie ala mode. Or ratatouille. You don't have to go shopping when the weather is bad, or when the kids are sick, or when you've wrenched your back. That's 'cause you already got what you need. In your pantry, in your freezer, and in your slow-cooker.

Stockpiling is POWER, baby.

It's also an enormous moneysaver. It's SUCH a moneysaver that if you don't have a savings account, the money you save because you stockpile can be used to grow one.

Friday, August 21, 2009

But it's the most IMPORTANT meal of the day...

I don't suggest stocking up on breakfast foods much, do I? There's a reason. I generally get them for free, or close to free with coupons. That makes it difficult for me to suggest a non-couponer blow that extra $50 bucks on items I'd never pay more than 50c for. A few posts back, I gave a commercial for CouponSense, so I won't give another, I'll just mention that if you want to give it a try, I'd appreciate if you'd use my referral code, listed in my profile, when you join. It's $4 for the first month, $14 plus tax (for Arizona residents) for subsequent months.

It's worth every penny.

Last week I paid less than $4 for 10 boxes of cereal because of the information I got at CouponSense, both on the message board and in the interactive shopping list. Those savings alone paid for a month of the service.

I find deals like that every week. I'm so used to it that many items don't even register when I search the ads every week. If you're not a couponer and you see catsup for 99c, go buy it, because it's unlikely to go cheaper. If you want to get that for free and put that 99c towards some of the filet mignon mentioned in the previous post, then consider learning to shop a different way.

Okay, that sounded like a commercial. Sorry. As you may have guessed, I spend a fair amount of time in grocery stores. You may have met me there. I may have handed you a coupon to make that catsup free because I already have 10 bottles in my pantry and one more or less won't make a difference to me.

I'll post later in the week about stockpiling philosophy, or 'Why We do This.' Otherwise, check out my fellow couponer, Jeri's, blog in which she gives ideas for feeding the family from this week's specials. There's also a link in my sidebar. Lots of good stuff there and I drop by every week to see what Jeri's cooking up. She has a suggestion for ramen noodles (10/$1 at Albertson's this week) that makes even a noodle snob think, 'Hmmmm, THAT's a good idea...'

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Some things are just convenient

This is an easy stockpile post because there isn't a whole lot out there this week that's making me froth at the store savings card. I hate weeks like this because if you're just starting out with me on the stockpile blog, you may be thinking, 'I don't get it, what's the big deal?'

But those of you who have been with me since the beginning may have so much stocked and are spending so little on groceries that you're looking at the $4.99/lb whole tenderloin (limit 1) at Basha's and thinking, 'Yes! Filet Mignon! Fire up the grill!'

That's because as the stockpile builds and the shopping savvy sharpens, there's money to spend on the luxury items (i.e., items that cost more than $1.75/lb!) like the sundried tomatoes and pine nuts of last week. Think about that tenderloin in these terms - 'A lackluster steak dinner at Outback will cost me at least $12.00 (just for me) and probably put me over my fat grams for the week. I can grill filet mignon at home and feed the entire family a quick gourmet meal for that same $12.'

Actually, it will probably cost you less because you're handing out 4 to 6 oz steaks with scratch mashed potatoes (remember that 10 pound bag you bought a couple of weeks ago?) and grilled tomatoes (67c/lb and 77c/lb at Sunflower this week).

I'm not certain how big those tenderloins are, I haven't purchased mine yet, but I'll presume about 10 pounds, so there's your $50 for the week.

Now then, if you have a bit extra this week, Albertson's is having a stock-up sale that's worth looking at. You can buy the max number of items and spend about $21. Most of these are staples except the except the banquet frozen items, and all make for easy lunches for the kids. These items are on the very last page, the back of the skinny page in this week's Albertsons ad.

4 can tuna
4 cans sardines
6 Banquet pot pies
4 Banquet value meals
12 Albertson's mac and cheese
10 8-ounce packages of Albertsons chunk cheese

Also, if you have another 2 bucks, hit up Food City for 4 packages of Bar-S bologna at 49c package. (Don't forget to get some bananas, they're only 33c/lb this week)

Okay, that's it. It's a little bit different from my typical stockpile posts, but you work with what you got, y'know?

EEK!!!!!!! I forgot to tell you what to have that butcher do with the whole tenderloin!!! Have him cut it into 3/4 inch to 1 inch steaks. I prefer the 3/4 inch steaks because they cook faster and just a little more evenly. Those who like a really red center should go with 1 inch steaks. I like warm red, not cool red, so I go with 3/4 inch.

Also, if you're expecting a crowd, having the butcher cut a portion of the tenderloin into a roast will make for a really special meal, although you'll get fewer steaks. Repackage, foodsaver and freeze the steaks when you get home.

EDITED TO ADD: Seriously? I have to tell you how to make mashed potatoes? Don't feel bad, it was a mystery to me for a long time. It was years before I realized they grew in the ground and didn't come flaked from a box. Here it is, easy mashed potatoes:

1) wash potatoes. DO NOT PEEL, lots of great vitamins just under the skin! Also lots of good flavor there.

2) put in pot

3) cover with COLD water a couple of inches about the potatoes.

4) turn stovetop to HIGH, and bring to a boil

5) lower heat to whatever you have to so you maintain a rolling boil (in other words, you don't want hot water baptizing everything within 2 feet of your stovetop.)

6) after about 20 or 30 minutes, stick a fork in a potato. If it goes in easily, the potatoes are done. If not, cook another 10 minutes. You'll get a feel for it.

7) when done, turn off heat, dump water off, get out your potato masher (it's that utensil with the round, flat bottom you inherited from your grandmother that you've been wondering what to do with.) If you don't have a potato masher, use a can of soup or vegetable to do the mashing. (wash the mashing end of it with soap and water first, please)

8) Mash potatoes directly in pot. Mash as in smoosh. Add some butter, add some milk, smoosh some more. Stop at whatever point you think they're smooshed enough. If your potatoes HAVE to be smooth just like the ones out of the box, either resign yourself to a lot more time messing with an electric mixer, bag this 'from scratch' idea and add water to that stuff in the box, OR, give yourself a chance to enjoy minimally processed, mostly smooshed potatoes.

9) during step number 8, add what you want to the mix that will make you happy - garlic powder, onion powder, actual cooked garlic cloves and onion slices, leftover veggies you got hanging around, parmesan cheese, shredded other kinds of cheese, leftover bacon, whatever strikes your fancy. Potatoes are endlessly versatile.

10) eat.

Monday, August 17, 2009

S-t-t-r-e-t-C-H, Stretch, Stretch

The nicest thing about cooking is leftovers. The nicest thing about leftovers is remaking them into 'not-leftovers'.

To wit:

Dinner One: Slow-cook a chicken (skin chicken, put breast side down in slowcooker with a little water, sprinkle with chopped onion and garlic, or onion powder and garlic powder, and tarragon, or Italian seasoning...whatever you like. Add sliced carrots for cooking. When tender, scoop the chicken onto a plate and pour off the chicken broth and store for cooking on another night.)

Serve with biscuits (you got crescents cheap with coupons a while back, didn't you?)

Dinner Two: Slow-cook potatoes au gratin (thinly slice 4 to 6 potatoes, layer in crockpot, layer in some onions and garlic, pour 1/2 cup to 1 cup of half and half, top with a few ounces of shredded cheese, salt and pepper to taste, cook for 4 to 5 hours on low, maybe longer, I'm no good on timing, I just check the stuff)

Quick cook swiss steak that's been marinating in the freezer and as it defrosts. Put it in a skillet (you don't need butter) add whatever extra seasoning you want, cover, cook a few minutes, turn, cook another minute or so.

Service with potatoes and maybe some steamed broccoli.

Breakfast One: Scramble up some eggs with some leftover potatoes, steak and broccoli. If you have any leftover biscuits from dinner one, douse them quickly under the faucet and chop them right into the eggs. You can feed an army with a few eggs and a bunch of leftovers.

Dinner three: Remember the chicken broth you saved? Use it to cook rice, add the leftover chicken from Dinner One. Add whatever leftover broccoli you've got also. If you're sick of broccoli, serve with a salad and whirl the broccoli in your blender the next day with some more chicken broth, a little milk or half and half and some cheese. Heat in the microwave and voila! Broccoli/cheese soup.

Dinner Four, or breakfast Two: Any leftovers left? whichever you have, make two quiches - the swiss steak one and the chicken one. Add broccoli to either. Or mix them all together, just be cautious if you used tarragon. It's a great herb, but would do better in a quiche by itself

Hmmm...I'm losing count. From a whole chicken and a pound of swiss steak, you've got three/four dinners and one/two breakfasts. Remember the chicken cost you about 2 bucks, the swiss steak was under $3. The broccoli was 77c/lb, so may 2 pounds max, you picked up the cheese a few months ago for $1.25/8 ounces and the rice was about 60 cents a pound, or about 20 cents max for the amount you made for the family.

I don't feel like doing all the math, but I'm figuring less than 10 bucks for 5 really good meals. And soup.

Don't think you have to eat the meals in the orders listed. You can refrigerate leftovers for a few days, or even freeze them for a week or so before using. The addition of a little broth and a little pureeing can do wonder for anything getting a little dried out. Eggs are great ways to make leftovers look like you meant to use them in the first place.

Other good uses - bread pudding to use up stale bread or leftover biscuits and make use of some of those stockpiled dried apricots and raisins. Or grind the biscuits in the blender and call them bread crumbs. You can use them to bulk out any leftover swiss steak which you've doused with a little bbq sauce you picked up free with coupons to be served on day-old rolls you picked up in Albie's bakery section for make-shift sloppy joe's. The sauce softens out the bread.

Use your imagination. Put the leftovers away in the freezer or the fridge. Pull them out before they go bad and think of them in a new way. Since they're already cooked, remaking them can be done in a jiffy. When all else fails, puree with mayo, mustard or relish and call it 'sandwich spread'.

EDITED TO ADD: If you're wondering where you got the swiss steak - it's disguised as 'bottom round' for $1.37/lb at Basha's this week. Or you have it sitting in your freezer from having gotten the butcher to run something like it through the cubing machine in weeks past.