Tuesday, December 30, 2008

No Coupons!

I have a budget of $30 per week to feed two people. I don't use coupons, but I routinely save 40-50% on my grocery receipt. It can be done with a little planning and some basic information about the normal price of things on your shopping list.

Next time you're buying something basic with a coupon, take a minute to compare the coupon price with the price of the store brand or value brand. Often, even with a coupon you're paying more than the regular price of the item.

But I seldom buy the store brand at the regular price. For example, elbow macaroni is 98¢ for a 1 pound box when I buy the store brand. When it's on sale, it's only 50¢ a box. So I only buy macaroni and spaghetti when they are available for 50¢ a pound. At that point, I stock the pantry with the amount I'll need until they go on sale again (about once every 6 weeks).

I also only buy milk when it's on sale. The week it's available for $2.00 a gallon, I buy enough for 2 weeks. I also have noticed that Meijer and Kroger usually have milk on sale at different times. So even if I need another gallon, I know where to pick it up at its lowest price.

Using the Simply Frugal inventory list, I've recorded the regular price and the sales price for each of the 53 items on the list. I can immediately tell whether the sale + coupon price of a brand-name item matches the usual sale price of these basics.

Every week, in the post The Price Is Right, I post the current sale prices at Meijer, SaveALot, and Kroger for southeast Michigan. I list pantry items to stock up on, along with the fresh fruits and vegetables, and meats. Check through the recipes to see how I've used those ingredients.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Extremely Frugal Vanilla Wafers

Vanilla Wafers
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
Sugar 1 C 1/2 C
Butter 1/2 C 1/4 C
Flour 1 1/3 C 1/2 C
Baking powder 3/4 tsp 3/8 tsp
Salt pinch pinch
Egg 1 1/2
Vanilla 1 tsp 1/2 tsp

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Cream sugar and butter.
Beat egg and vanilla together, then mix into butter mixture.
Stir flour, baking powder, and salt together, and incorporate slowly into batter.
Drop by teaspoonsful about 2 inches aprat on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes until edges of cookies are brown. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Simple BBQ Sauce

BBQ Chicken
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
Onion 1 C
Garlic clove 2
Butter 3 Tbsp
Worcestershire sauce 2 Tbsp
Sugar 2 tsp
Chili powder 1 tsp
Dry mustard 1/2 tsp
Red pepper flakes 1/2 tsp
Vinegar 1 C
Coffee 1/4 C
Tomato sauce 1/2 C
Mince onion and garlic very fine. Combine with butter, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, chili powder, dry mustard, red pepper flakes, vinegar, and coffee.
Bring to a boil and stir in tomato sauce. Boil 5 more minutes.
Reserve 1/2 C sauce and use remainder to marinate meat 3 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
Baste with marinade while cooking.
Serve reserved sauce at the table.

Note: the cold coffee can be as strong as you like. Even if it's been left warming in the coffee pot all day, the intensity of the flavor will work well here. Instant espresso is a substitute for strong cold coffee.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

Hard Boiled Eggs
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
Ever wondered why you get that black stuff on your hardboiled eggs?

It comes from overcooking them.

Start the eggs in cold water, bring them to a boil, and time them carefully. After exactly 10 minutes, run cold water over them to stop the cooking process.

Same cooking times, but the egg on the left was cooled quickly in cold water. The egg on the right was allowed to cool by sitting on the counter at room temperature.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Salmon Quiche

Salmon Quiche
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal

Ingredient9 inch Tart
Salmon1 C1/4 C
Swiss cheese, shredded8 oz2 oz
Onion, grated2 tsp1/2 tsp
Flour1 Tbsp1 tsp
Salt1/4 tsppinch
Milk1 C1/4 C
Preheat oven to 450 F.
Grate onion, shred cheese.
Shred salmon.
Combine cheese, onion, flour and salt, mixing well.
Layer filling and cheese mixture in pastry shell.
Mix egg and milk, pour over cheese and filling.

Bake in 450 oven 15 minutes, then lower heat to 325 and bake 30 minutes longer, or until just firm in center. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

Coring The Apple

Apple Core
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
A utensil that finds a lot of use in my kitchen is the melon baller. I primarily use it to remove the seeds and core of fresh pears and apples.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Extremely Frugal Bread Pudding

Simple Bread Pudding
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
Buy: nothing

Milk 2 1/4 C
Sugar 1/2 C
Cinnamon 1 1/2 tsp
Eggs 2
Bread* 1/2 pound
Raisins 1/2 C

Beat milk, sugar, cinnamon, and eggs in large bowl. Stir in bread cubes and raisins.
Pour into greased casserole.
Bake uncovered at 350 F for 40 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean.

Serve with custard sauce or hard sauce.

*A slice of bread is about 1 ounce. Use 8 slices, or the equivalent in stale bagels, Italian or French bread, or any leftover yeast rolls. Muffins, biscuits, cornbread, and other quick breads don't work as well.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Extremely Frugal Caramel Onions

Caramel Onions
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
Onions 4 C
Sugar 1 tsp
Slice onions very thinly.
Put a cast iron or heavy stainless steel frying pan on the burner but Do Not Add Water Or Grease.
Stir sliced onions over medium heat until most of the water has evaporated and onions begin to brown. This will take 20 minutes or more.
Stir frequently and avoid sticking. You're carmelizing the sugars in the onions. If necessary you can add a bit of sugar to help the browning process.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sesame Oil

Sesame Oil
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
There are two kinds of sesame oil sold. One, a light golden color, is used as you would use any cooking oil. Dark or roasted sesame oil is a flavoring ingredient that can be purchased in Asian grocery stores and in some supermarkets in the ethnic foods section. Don't try to substitute one for the other. The darker oil has a very powerful flavor.

The dark sesame oil adds its special flavor to salad dressings as well as hot dishes.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Brynt Potatis I Ugn (Extremely Frugal Roasted Potatoes)

From a Swedish friend

Roasted Potatoes
4 Servings
Butter4 Tbsp1 Tbsp
Salt1 tsp1/4 tsp

Preheat oven to 450 F
Melt butter.
Cut each potato into 6 wedges. Blanch for 3 minutes in boiling water and dry.
Butter a baking dish and place potatoes in a single layer.
Dribble melted butter over the wedges and sprinkle liberally with salt.
Roast for 1 minutes in a 450 F oven, turn and roast another 15 minutes.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Simple Texas Dry Rub

A spicy mixture that I make up in quantity to give oven-roasted meats a summer flavor.

Garlic2 cloves
Salt1 Tbsp
Chili Powder1tsp
Black pepper1 tsp
Paprika1 tsp
Cumin1/2 tsp
Coriander1/2 tsp
Dry mustard3/4 tsp

Mash garlic, and combine thoroughly with spices.
Rub into meat on all sides and let it stand for two hours at room temperature before cooking.

If you are making up a large quantity, leave out the garlic. When you're ready to use it, mash 1/4 C dry rub with two garlic cloves.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Baked Ham

Precooked Ham3 lb
Apple juice concentrate1/4 C
Brown sugar1/2C
Dry mustard1 tsp
Cloves1/2 tsp
Cinnamon1/2 tsp
Cloves, whole18

Mix apple juice concentrate (or cider), brown sugar, dry mustard, cloves, and cinnamon into a paste. Spread over surface of the ham. Score ham surface with sharp knife, and stick a whole clove into the center of each diamond shape.

Bake in 425 F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until fat is crisp and coating has melted. Lower heat to 250 F and heat through, about 1 hour.

Buy: Ham, frozen apple juice or cider.
Pantry: brown sugar, dry mustard, cloves, cinnamon

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Extremely Frugal Biscuits

A favorite from the San Jacinto Inn, near the Battleship Texas, in Houston. It closed long ago, but on Sunday, you could have as many biscuits as you wanted with your fried chicken and mashed potatoes. They had home-made strawberry jam to go with them.

10 biscuits
Flour2 C
Baking powder2 1/2 tsp
Salt1/2 tsp
Sugar1/2 tsp
Shortening3/4 C
Milk3/4 C + 2 Tbsp

Preheat oven to 400 F
Blend flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
Cut in shortening until its the size of cornmeal.
Make a well in the center, and pour in milk. Stir quickly (about 30 seconds) to combine flour and milk.
Turn out on floured counter and pat or roll into 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into 10 biscuits.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

For cheese biscuits, stir in 1/2 C shredded cheese before adding milk. If you use swiss cheese, a pinch of nutmeg adds an interesting hint of flavor.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Extremely Frugal Spoonbread

Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
An old Southern cornmeal dish.

Serves 6
Water1 C
Butter3 Tbsp
Cornmeal1 C
Salt1 tsp
Baking powder 1 1/2 tsp
Milk1 1/3 C

Preheat oven to 375 F

Bring water to a boil. Add butter.
Mix cornmeal, salt, baking powder.
Pour boiling water over cornmeal mixture, stir until well mixed.
Slowly stir in milk, a few spoonsful at a time. When milk is incorporated, add eggs. Beat until well blended.
Pour batter into a well-greased baking pan.

Bake at 375 F for 40 minutes. Mixture will still be slightly soft in the center.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Extremely Frugal Carrot Raisin Slaw

Carrot Raisin Slaw
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
A nice alternative to cabbage is this carrot and raisin combo.

Carrot Raisin Slaw
4 servings
Carrot2 C
Raisins2 Tbsp
Mayonnaise2 Tbsp
Salt1/4 tsp
Pepper1/8 tsp

Grate carrots and mix in raisins. Stir in mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Extremely Frugal Carolina BBQ Sauce

A sharp contrast to the usual tomato-based barbeque sauce

Cider Vinegar 1 1/2 C
Water 1 C
Butter 1 Tbsp
Dried red pepper flakes 1/4 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Garlic 2 cloves

Heat vinegar, water and butter until butter melts. Add dried red pepper flakes, salt, and crushed garlic. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Use as marinade and basting sauce for pork, chicken, and beef.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Simple Apple Onion Saute

An easy accompaniment to roasted meat.

Apple Onion Saute
4 servings
Apples, Granny Smith1 pound
Onions 1/2 pound
Butter1 Tbsp
Celery (optional)1/2 C
Sage1 tsp
Salt1 tps

Slice onions into thin rounds.
Core apples, but do not peel. Slice into thin wedges.
Melt butter in frying pan, and saute apples until slightly browned.
Add onions (and celery) and saute until translucent.
Add sage and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook 5 minutes longer.

Can also be used as a base while roasting pork or beef.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Simple Rosemary Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

An easy oven dinner.

Rosemary Roasted Chicken
4 servings
4 serv
Chicken leg quarters2.5 lb
Potatoes1 lb
Oil1 Tbsp
Garlic 3 cloves
Rosemary1 Tbsp
Salt1 tsp

Cut potatoes into thick wedges.
Rub potatoes and leg quarters with oil*.
Crush garlic and rub over leg quarters.
Crush rosemary and sprinkle over potatoes and leg quarters.

Place in covered roasting pan and put in oven.
Turn oven to 350 F** and roast chicken for 45 minutes.
Remove cover, and roast 15 minutes more or until potatoes are browned.

*Olive oil tastes especially good.
**There is no need to preheat the oven

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Simple Egg Salad Sandwiches

Egg Salad Sandwich
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
When eggs are on sale, use them as a lunch as well as breakfast

Egg Salad Sandwiches
4 servings

Hard-boiled eggs62
Mayonnaise1/4 C4 tsp
Salt1/2 tsp1/8 tsp
Worcestershire sauce1/2 tsp1/8 tsp
Basil1/4 tsppinch
Marjoram1/4 tsppinch

Slice eggs in half and remove the yolks.
Thoroughly mix yolks, mayonnaise, salt, Worcestershire sauce, basil, and marjoram.
Roughly chop egg whites, and stir into yolk mixture.

Spread on bread or roll.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Extremely Frugal Quiche

Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
Eggs and milk create a wonderful main dish that lets you use up leftovers. With milk and eggs coming down in price, these savory custard fillings are regaining their spot on my frugal meals list

Ingredient9 inch Tart
Meat or vegetable filling1 C1/4 C
Swiss cheese, shredded8 oz2 oz
Onion, grated2 tsp1/2 tsp
Flour1 Tbsp1 tsp
Salt1/4 tsppinch
Milk1 C1/4 C
Preheat oven to 450 F.
Grate onion, shred cheese.
Shred or chop filling small.
Combine cheese, onion, flour and salt, mixing well.
Layer filling and cheese mixture in pastry shell.
Mix egg and milk, pour over cheese and filling.

Bake in 450 oven 15 minutes, then lower heat to 325 and bake 30 minutes longer, or until just firm in center. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

Cooked broccoli or asparagus
Spinach (squeezed nearly dry)
Sliced onions and bacon
Chicken and softened dried tomatoes.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Simple African Peanut Chicken

A tomato and peanut sauce provide an interesting twist on chicken

African Peanut Chicken
4 servings

4 servings
Oil 1 Tbsp
Chicken leg quarters* 2.4 pounds
Tomatoes, diced 1 C
Onion, sliced 1/2 C
Garlic 1 clove
Red pepper flakes** 1/2 tsp
Ginger 1/4 tsp
Chili powder 3/4 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Peanut butter 3/4 C

Brown chicken in oil. Remove chicken.
Add tomatoes, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, ginger, chili powder, and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes.
Add chicken and simmer 45 minutes. Add water as necessary.
Stir some of the hot liquid into the peanut butter, pour back into chicken mixture. Stir until well blended.

Serve over hot rice.

*Bone in chicken breasts: buy 1.5 pounds
*Boneless skinless breasts: buy 1.4 pounds
**Tabasco or other hot sauce: 1/4 tsp

Monday, December 8, 2008

Extremely Frugal Pie Crust

Size Of Peas
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
An easy piecrust.
Ingredient1 9-inch1 tart
Flour1 C1/4 C
Salt1/2 tsp1/8 tsp
Lard1/3 C1 Tbsp
Water2 Tbsp1 1/2 tsp

Stir salt and flour together. Cut in lard or shortening until fine. Sprinkle water onto flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
Mix lightly with a fork until moist.
Gather dough together, pressing into a ball.
Roll out 1/8 inch thick.

1/4 C flour = 1 tart
1/2 C flour = 1 6 in2 tart
3/4 C flour = 1 8 in
1 C flour = 1 9 in2 6 in
1 1/2 C flour = 2 8 in
2 C flour = 2 9 in

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Extremely Frugal Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
Tart apples with a simple oatmeal, butter, and sugar topping.

Apples, tart4 C
Lemon juice2 Tbsp
Water 2 C
Oatmeal1 C
Flour1/2 C
Brown sugar1 C
Cinnamon2 tsp
Butter1/2 C

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix lemon juice with water in 1 qt bowl.
Wash, core, and slice apples, dropping them into the acidulated water as you slice them.
Mix oatmeal, flour, sugar, and cinnamon well.
Cut or rub in butter until it is the size of small peas.
Place apple slices in greased casserole. Add 1/4 C acidulated water.
Cover with oatmeal topping.
Bake for 35-45 minutes.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Simple Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki Chicken can be grilled, broiled in the oven, or simply roasted.
6 servings

Ingredient 6 servings2 servings
Chicken leg quarter 2 1/2 lbs1 lb
Teriyaki sauce3/4 C1/4 C
Cornstarch3/4 tsp1/4 tsp
Cold water3/4 C1/4 C

Marinate chicken for 20 minutes, and then put in roasting pan. Put in oven, and set temperature to 350 F. Roast chicken for 40 minutes, basting from time to time with sauce. Mix cornstarch with water and set aside.

When chicken is done, pour off juices into a small saucepan. Stir cornstarch mixture and pour into juices. Heat until gravy thickens. Serve in small pitcher to flavor rice at the table.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Extremely Frugal RICE!

Rice Volcanos
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
The easiest way I know of to make rice doesn't require measurements. It's an old family recipe, from a Japanese friend.

1 cup of uncooked rice makes about 3 cups of cooked rice.

Place rice in saucepan. Fill with cold water. Water should stand about 1 inch above the surface of the rice. I use the tip of my finger, touching the top of the rice, and adding water until it reaches the first joint.

Place uncovered pan on burner, and turn heat up high. Boil the rice rapidly until the water level is lowered to the top of the rice. Do not stir. You'll see "volcanoes" in the top of the rice.

Cover the pan. Turn heat to low and let the rice sit for 15-20 minutes. Don't lift the lid until the time is up. Fluff with fork before serving.

I usually turn the heat off entirely if I'm cooking white rice. Brown rice should steam about 30-35 minutes.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Simple Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki Sauce
Use as marinade and stir-fry sauce.

Soy Sauce1 1/2 C1/2C
Sugar3/4 C2 Tbsp
Ginger, grated1 1/2 tsp1/4 tsp
Garlic, crushed3 clove1/2 clove

Mix soy sauce and sugar well. Crush ginger and garlic, and add to liquid.
Can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Substitute 2 tsp dry ginger for each tsp of fresh ginger if necessary.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Simple Recipes

Nutrition and Cookbooks
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
As food costs spiraled upwards in the past year, I adapted and adjusted my favorite recipes to help keep my costs down.

I have created a limited shopping list of ingredients, and using that list, I have substituted and eliminated ingredients until I got it down to the least expensive way to prepare all my favorites. All the recipes on this blog that start with "Simple" are adjusted to include only ingredients on the Bare Cupboard Basics shopping list.

To do this, I relied on research I've been conducting since I was in college. The primary source was Joy Of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. The other main source is the US Government's wonderful publication, The Food Buying Guide.

Over the years, I've delved into a lot of nutrition information. From Francis Moore Lappe's Diet For A Small Planet through Pritikin, Ornish, and Eades, I've tried to learn how to eat wisely, packaging as much pleasure, flavor, and nutrition as I could into the foods I prepared.

I've learned to calculate caloric and protein needs for everyone from healthy teen-aged athletes to friends dying of cancer. I can balance fat, carbs, and protein with the best of them

The changes I made in my family cookbook have reflected the best research available, without charging off in dramatically new directions with every headline. My menus reflect my own personal preference for a low-carb eating style.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Simple Cooking

Simple Ingredients
Originally uploaded by Simply Frugal
A lot of people would like to cut their food costs, but don't know how to get started in a kitchen. Too many of us never learned how to do much more than heat up something that someone else has made.

It's really not that hard, and you can save an unbelievable amount of money by cutting up a few vegetables and pieces of meat, and cooking them yourself.

I've pared my own food budget down to approximately $15 per person per week. That includes 21 meals per week, with sufficient protein and calories for an active adult.

I'll be sharing some of the things I've already learned, and whatever new ideas and techniques I can find.