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.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

How to inspire confidence

Put up a post saying that the sundried tomatoes and pine nuts at Sunflower Market are a great deal, then backpedal and say they are not, then put up a brand new blog post saying 'I WAS WRONG!!!'

I just checked the price on some pine nuts I picked up at Sunflower a few months ago at full price - $18/lb, so $5 for a 6-oz package is a really good price. Go immediately and buy 2 packages and also get those sundried tomatoes and anticipate some lovely gourmet eating in the coming weeks.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Stockpile Surfeit of Riches

This is one of those weeks when I have to make hard choices about what to stockpile, mostly because there's a great chicken deal at Albertson's, a great meat deal at Basha's and some great bulk bin buys at Sunflower Market.

I'll start with the bulk bin buys. Take $29 and buy two pounds each of the following:

Dates at $1.99/lb
Dried Cranberries at $2.99/lb
Pine Nuts, raw at $4.99/4 oz package
Sundried Tomatoes at $3.99/6 oz package
Jasmine Rice at 79c/lb

mmmmm...I can already see terrific stuffing for chicken in that list. Also, some wonderful rice mixtures as well as pasta toppings. Pine nuts usually go for upwards of $11/lb, Sundried tomatoes are often the same. Jasmine Rice tends to be a little more expensive, as are dates.

EDITED TO ADD: I'm beyond bummed out. I read the ad wrong! As you can see above the prices are for a 4 ounce and a 6 ounce package. Soooo...I can't justify $20/lb for Pine Nuts or about $10/lb for sundried tomatoes! That's expensive, so I'm pulling both off the list!

I'm going to do a little thinking about what might be good to replace. The dates are a good deal because often the bulk bin raisins go for $1.99/lb and I think that's a pretty good price.

Albertson's has whole chicken for 57c a pound, limit 4 to purchase at a time. Purchase 4, that will cost you $10 to $11.

Then go to Basha's and pick up the boneless bottom round roast for $1.37 pound. The limit on that is 2 'value' packs (if you buy a smaller package, it's more expensive per pound.) Ask the butcher to grind up one package for cheap, lean ground beef and if the roast is cut into steaks, to run that through the cubing machine once for swiss steak that's really tender. I haven't purchased my meat yet, so I'm guessing 2 packages is about 10 pounds.

That brings you total to about $54 dollars or so.

If you're willing to make some of this for your food this week instead of stockpiling, you've plenty of chicken and meat dinners in the lot, as well as gourmet toppers for salad and pasta in the dried items. You might consider purchasing more for cooking this week and put the rest into stockpile.

If you have extra funds, and even if you don't - cantaloupes are 3 for $1 at Sprouts this week, corn 6 for $1 at Albertsons (think slow-cooked chicken and fresh corn for dinner tomorrow night - total cost, under $4.00 for the meal. Add some sliced and steamed with a little salt choyote squash to that mix (3 fresh squashes for $1 at Food City) and you've a nicely balanced meal. I googled this recipe and started salivating.

Oh, and grapes are 77c pound at Albertson's. Great snacking for kids and adults alike.

If I come up with anymore brilliant ideas, I'll post some more.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How to make popcorn

Hi all. I'll have a stockpile post up tomorrow, or later today. There's a lot of good stockpile buys out there and I'm putting the list together.

Somewhere in my recent Google travels, I came across some article that said microwave popcorn is bad for you because it has transfat, or maybe because it emits fumes, or possibly because it contains phalates. I checked out Snopes on the question and I'm no more enlightened on the matter than I was before checking it out. So here's the short version of why Mindy Likes to Coupon won't eat microwave popcorn herself and why she recently informed the progeny that she'll no longer be buying it:

It's expensive and it tastes nasty.

The butter in the popcorn isn't butter at all, it's some kind of chemical and the slick stuff that sticks to the side reminds me of an petroleum spill. Popcorn is so easy to make anyway, I don't get why anybody would settle for the oil-slicked styrofoam stuff in a bag when you can make your own in less time and without any tongue-twisting ingredients.

Ready? Here's the recipe:

1) put a few tablespoons of vegetable or corn oil into the bottom of a 2 or 3 qt sauce pan. You want enough to cover the bottom of the pot.

2) pour a layer of popcorn kernals into the pot, enough to cover the bottom.

3) cover, turn heat to high.

4) shake the pot, just like on those old Jiffy Pop commercials - this is your chance to burn a few calories in anticipation of this luscious, fluffy treat.

5) when popping slows, or pot lid starts to lift, remove from heat and empty immediately into a bowl big enough to hold the stuff, which you should have gotten out and had waiting on the counter in anticipation of this step. Otherwise, the popcorn will burn and be gross.

6) turn off burner, put pot back on stove, melt a tablespoon or two of butter in the bottom. Let it melt while you sprinkle a LITTLE salt over the popcorn.

7) Drizzle popcorn with the melted butter, toss it around with the knife you used to slice the butter pat to melt and you are DONE.

8) eat.

"But the dishes!" I hear you whining!

What dishes? A bowl and a pot and a butter knife? Get a grip. Eating involves crockery, that's why appliance manufacturers invented dishwashers. How much better than the box that needs to be recycled and that chemical-smelling bag that's destined for the landfill. I mean, you run your dishwasher anyway, right? May as well make it a full load.

And yes, it actually does take less time to make it on a cooktop than to microwave a bag of the stuff.

Happy Netflixing, tonight!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rice is twice as nice

Sorry - you're all waiting patiently for what to do with this week's stockpile food, aside from eating it fresh of course, but I got caught up in getting the kids off to school. Today, I have my kitchen back and the first thing I did, besides defrosting cube steak for dinner and put potatoes on to boil for mashed potatoes, was make rice pudding.

My kids love rice pudding. It's sweet and filling and they don't know that it's full of protein and calcium (from the milk), as well as fiber (because I use brown rice). They just know that I don't care how much of it that they eat.

Rice pudding is versatile. You can add anything to it, like fresh blueberries or strawberries or peaches after it's made, or cook it with raisins or dried cranberries or dried apricots or with nuts or whatever you have lying around in your dried fruits and nuts supply. Homemade rice pudding can be plopped into a small plastic container and sent to school for dessert for a cheap and nutritious alternative to those Jello Pudding cups.

Here's how I make my rice pudding:

In a slow cooker put:

1 cup brown rice
3 cups milk
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar
couple of dashes of nutmeg
a few more sprinkles of cinnamon
whatever dried fruit listed above I feel like adding
1 tsp vanilla (that's edited to add. Sorry about that. Don't know where my mind was. vanilla makes lots of recipes better.)

Stir it up and cook on medium to high for about 4 hours. You'll know when it's done. It will be creamy and nice and the rice kernals will explode. If it seems a little dry, add more milk (or cream or half-and-half). If it's too wet, let it simmer a little more. If your family is full of big eaters and rice pudding addicts, double the recipe, if this is for you and you're on a diet, use stevia or splenda and skim milk and skip the added butter.

Serve for breakfast or as a side to lunch or dessert for dinner.

When it runs out, slow cook some more.

Good stuff.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yummy things to do with this week's food

I'll start with the chicken leg quarters and potatoes from Food City:

1) Remove the skin - yes, it's gross, but the fat on the skin is grosser. Okay, personal preference here, but seriously, if you make chicken broth/soup without taking the skin off the chicken you end up skimming a 2 inch layer of fat off the chilled soup. Trust me - skinning is far less gross than skimming.

2) put the chicken legs in a big pot of water. Add onion, carrot and celery. You don't have to peel the onion or the carrots and chop the celery into big pieces. You have to sieve it out later and leaving the stuff whole makes that easier. I like to add garlic also, but that's me. I add garlic to everything.

3) heat the water to a boil, then let it simmer until the chicken meat is falling off the bones. When that happens scoop out the chicken legs and meat as best you can with a ladle or big slotted spoon. Let the legs cool, then pull the meat off the bone, return the bones to the broth and put the meat aside.

4) simmer the broth down to about half it's volume, use a strainer to scoop out the onion, carrot and celery and the bones and whatnot. Remove from heat and let it cool. When it's pretty cool, put the whole pot into the fridge.

5) The next morning, remove the pot from the fridge and skim off any chicken crud (you'll know what I mean when you see it) and fat from the top of the broth, then freeze in whatever quantities make sense for your family and cooking habits. You can freeze in plastic bags, or freezer containers. Lots of people like to measure it out in 1 cup portions for use in recipes, or freeze it in ice cube trays to add to a veggie saute for some flavor. I freeze a 4-5 cup portion and the rest in 1 cup portions. The larger amount is for making a big pot of soup from leftover meats and veggies.

That's an old frugal trick - save dinner scraps in a freezer container. Every once in a while empty the contents into a pot with some frozen chicken broth to make a yummy lunchtime soup. Serve with a nice crusty bread.

I digress.

Okay, now what do you do with all that chicken meat. Remember, I suggested buying 20 pounds of those legs, so you probably have about 10 pounds of meat after getting rid of the skin and bones. Well, you can freeze that also, in 1/2 to 1 pound portions. I use it to make chicken salad, as a topper for green salads, to use in rice dishes (remember the bulk bin brown rice you just picked up?), barley dishes, pasta dishes, potato dishes (remember the 10 pound bag you just bought?) make soup!

There's a lot of mileage to be had in those chicken and potatoes.

And the apples - think applesauce, apple/barley pudding, apple/potato gratin (remember, Google is your friend), apple brown betty...

And speaking of rice (Yes, I was, two paragraphs ago), make rice pudding with dried apricots, nuts and some of those dirt-cheap raisins I hope you picked up last week at Sunflower Market.

You can also make chicken and rice (make the rice in some of that chicken broth - 1 cup rice, 1 cup broth, 1 cup water, Italian seasoning, or whatever you like, bring to boil, reduce heat to very low, cover, let cook for 20 minutes. Eat.

I'm tired of typing, so I'll be back tomorrow with more ideas for what to do with all that food I suggested buying yesterday.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Addendum to Stockpile Post

Some of the Food City stores have got some screaming sales going. The Food City at 32nd St and Greenway in North Phoenix has 10 pound bags of chicken leg quarters for $2.90 total, or 29c/lb. You're limited to 2 bags or 20 pounds. Chicken will never go lower than that. The same store has the 10-lb bag of russets for 99c and 3 lb bags of golden delicious applees for 99c.

$8 for 33 pounds of food. That's a really good deal.

Here's what I plan to do - remove the skin from the chicken legs and boil them in a great big pot of water with onion, carrot and celery (all on sale this week also). I'll simmer until the meat falls from the bones.

I have to eat dinner with the family. I'll talk more about what to do in my next post.

Stockpile post – Bulk Bin Bonanza

Took me a little while to get enthused about this week's grocery ads. At first glance, they looked like a lot of ho-hum, then I logged into CouponSense and powered up their hand-dandy 'Create Shopping List' application, searched out items under broad categories such as PRODUCE, MEAT, SEAFOOD, BAKING SUPPLIES, etc. and saw that there's a goldmine in the bulk bins at Sunflower Market and Sprouts this week.

I'm in Sedona, the last stop of my cross-country and back road trip with the kids. I've been eating out of grocery stores, have had a couple of really good restaurant meals and a few diner type meals. Despite best efforts, this kind of eating has been off my usual game of healthy home-cooking, and what with the change of schedule, blah blah...well, you know how the story goes:

My name is Mindy Likes to Coupon and I'm fat.

Here's what I've noticed – pretty much all restaurants, expensive or cheap, haute cuisine to cheap eats use vegetables as an accent, mostly to make the plate look pretty in haute cuisine and mostly as an overcooked, limp imitation of life at cheap eats.

I tried to compensate with fresh fruit and salads, yogurt and cottage cheese, but, in the end, the over-oiled fare available at most U.S. eateries won out.

Time to pull myself up by my over-stuffed bootstraps and get it together. And I'm starting in the bulk bins.

Here's the list:

Sunflower Market

Fresh -

Beefsteak tomato – 99c/lb
Bartlett Pear – 34c/lb
Grapes, black, red, green – 77c/lb
Peaches, 49c/lb


Long Grain Brown Rice – 69c/lb
dried apricots, turkish and regular - $2.99/lb


Fresh -

Watermelon, seedless, 15c/lb
Plums or Pluots – 77c/lb
Lettuce, red leaf and green leaf – 99c each (buy big bunches, wash, dry and chop up the suckers with a big kitchen knife. It only takes a minute and you get way more than you do in those bags. Put the chopped lettuce in an airtight container with a paper towel or two to absorb extra moisture and voila! Bagged salad even cheaper than the $1/bag stuff and filled with way more nutrients than iceberg.
Celery – 77c/bunch
Cauliflower – 99c/lb
Broccoli Crown – 77c/lb (this is smoking deal)
Apples, Fuji or Braeburn – 77c/lb
Blueberries - 99c/pint

Bulk -
Walnut halves - $2.99/lb
Brazil nuts - $3.99/lb
Oats, steelcut and rolled, 50c/lb (I'm pretty sure about steelcut being included, but check the price before purchasing)

Food City


Cucumbers – 25c/each – (Buy a bunch and make Cucumber Water – sooooo refreshing on a hot summer day and soooo much cheaper and better for you than soda.)
Bananas – 33c/lb
Mexican Grey Squash – 59c/lb
Potatoes Russet – 10 lb bag/$1.00 (This is only available at a few stores. Go to the Food City website, plug in your zip code and see if you got lucky.)


Strawberries - $1/pint /lb– maximum of 5 containers.

Yes – there are some meat items worthy of mention, such as London broil at $1.67/lb at Albertson's. You know the drill, have the butcher grind some of it up for very lean hamburger, marinate the rest in salad dressing or lemon juice with pepper and foodsaver it.

Also, whole Sanderson farms chickens are 69c/lb at Safeway, pick some up and freeze them.

T-bone steaks are $3.88/lb at Bashas, great for grilling on a Saturday night.

Speaking of grilling, consider Wild-Caught Sockeye salmon ($6.99/lb at Fry's) or Xtra-Jump WILD-CAUGHT Shrimp ($6.99/lb at Safeway). Though more expensive, the taste and nutrition of wild-caught versus the farm-raised stuff is worth it.

Wow. That's a lot of food. Now I have to tell you what to do with it all.

I'll do that in the next post, which I'll hopefully have up by tomorrow morning! Meanwhile, make yourself a banana, peach, blueberry smoothie, or maybe a strawberry/banana smoothie (see previous post) put your feet up and remind yourself that next week the kids are BACK IN SCHOOL!!!!

EDITED TO ADD: Yikes! I almost forgot dairy.

Eggs - Food City - 79c/dozen grade AA Large
Orange Juice - Frys - Kroger brand 64 oz - 99c
Butter - Frys - Kroger, 16 oz $1.99
Milk - Basha's or Albertsons - $1.39/gallon. 99c/gallon at Basha's with a $40 purchase.