Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lettuce and greens

As part of trying to eat healthy, we've been buying mixed spring greens. Lots of different types of greens, all nice and healthy and good for you. Unfortunately, for the frugal part of me, it's not so frugal. The pre-bagged greens are usually $2-3.50 per bag. New Seasons Market sells them in bulk, at $6.99 a pound. Still not a good value.

I think I may have found a more frugal, if slightly less healthy alternative. I buy a head of iceberg lettuce. (Not much in the way of vitamins there, I know). This provides bulk. Then I buy a bunch of spinach (at least for now, since I can find it fairly cheap). Add some spinach leaves. That adds some vitamin goodness. So for now, that works for us.

Our car lost all it's transmission fluid yesterday just as we got back home. Had it towed today and it was a tube had come loose. Tow was $72 and repairs, which included 6 quarts of transmission fluid, was $72. Not too bad.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Spring 2007 in Portland

I went out to a local park last week and took some pictures. Spring is definitely here in Portland. Temperatures in the 50s and 60s and even 70 one day. I love this city.

Daffodils, tulips and all sorts of flowering trees and shrubs are in bloom everywhere.

I also wanted to put in a picture of the trees in the park. Remember, this is in the middle of a city. These trees are probably a hundred years old and about 60-70 feet tall.

I love spring!


Friday, March 23, 2007

Yet more benefits of price books

I've been using a price book and really keeping track of prices for about a year and a half now. It has really paid off. Yesterday was a good example.

I go grocery shopping every two weeks. Between trips I write down things as I think of them, as they come up, as we run out. On Wednesday, I took my list and put it down on a sheet of paper. I list each store I go to then what I need to buy there. For the first time, I went through and estimated how much all the items would cost and I wrote this down next to the store name.

For Fred Meyer, I had coupons for toilet paper and english muffins. I also found a dollar off in store coupon for tampons I used. I bought everything on my list and the only two things I bought that weren't on the list was a head of lettuce and a large bunch of spinach. My estimate was $50. My total: $50.00!! :)

I was also on target for most of the rest. Wal-mart estimate $10, actual $10.31. New Seasons Market estimate $15 actual $15.63. Trader Joe's surprised me. The automatic dish washing detergent I use (along with washing soda and borax) was WAY cheaper then the Seventh Generation one I bought about a year ago. I estimated $30, actual was $20.

Of course, this works if you only buy what's on your list. Other than the lettuce and spinach, I did not buy anything not on my list.

I think I'm finally getting the hang of this frugality thing! :)


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Great chicken deal

I went to the library today to return one book and get two others, and the DVD set of "I, Claudius". On the way back, I stopped at a local QFC grocery store. I like this store, because it is small, friendly and open 24 hours. It's prices though, are a bit higher than other stores. However, when they have sales, often they are really really good sales.

I had talked to my partner about eating more chicken and less beef and she was amenable to this. So I checked out the meat counter. I found they had quite a bit of split fryer chicken breast that was expiring today. This is free range chicken, very good stuff. It was marked down to $1 a pound. I bought five pounds, which came in the form of six large chicken breasts. The three largest I put in my Nesco roaster and roasted them.

The other three I put into my stock pot with water, carrots, turnip, onion, garlic and lots of celery. Cooked it for an hour then took the chicken out. I let them cool a bit, then removed the skin and bones and put that back into the pot and cooked it another hour or so. The chicken meat will be put away for stir fries and chicken salad. The roast chicken will be used in sandwiches.

So for $5, I got five pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast and a huge pot of chicken stock. I'll put that in the fridge tonight (after removing all the veggies and chicken parts) and remove the fat tomorrow. Then store it in the freezer in various size plasticware.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Cooking update

I've been busy cooking and trying new recipes lately, with good results.

First up is a Pizza Quesadilla. It uses mozzarella and cheddar cheese with pepperoni and italian seasoning inside. Very very tasty and good dipped in marinara sauce.

Then I tried a Potluck Chicken casserole. I grilled up some chicken breast, mixed it with a can of cream of chicken soup and some sour cream. Put that in the pan. Made a mixture of crunched saltines, melted Earth Balance and celery seeds. Put that on top of the chicken and baked for 30 minutes. Made some rice on the side and it was great!

Yesterday I made chocolate chip cookies. Well, I made some and the rest of the dough I left for my partner. She loves to eat chocolate chip cookie dough and this is way cheaper than buying it. The cookies came out great. Last time I didn't put enough flour in and they spread all over. It was nasty.

Then I made Challah (or since I made 2 loaves, Challot). Challah is a egg bread that is slightly sweet. It came out great, both my partner and I loved it. It's not a sandwich bread, it's a rip off pieces and have with butter or dip into stews. Very tasty and it looks nice too.

All in all, a good few days of cooking.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Pinto corn barley stew

Today I did what I think of as Katie cooking. Some leftovers, some new stuff and voila! A tasty dish.

I had a little bit of leftover homemade enchilada sauce and some pinto beans. I added some water to the sauce, a little seasoning, then added the pinto beans and some frozen corn. I cooked that down some while I made some barley. Here's the result:

It was tasty and filling. Ended up as more of a stew than a soup.

I love barley. I think it's not used as much as perhaps it should be. This great website, World's Healthiest Foods, is a great source of information on all kinds of good foods. Here's the page about barley. It's very healthy and it will hold up for about a week in the fridge.

I also used this site to find out about nuts. Everything you read is about eating almonds and walnuts. Neither are favorites of mine. I'll mostly only eat them if they are very finely ground and mixed in other things. But I do love cashews and I found out that they rate very high in antioxidants and in keeping your bones healthy.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bob's Red Mill deals

I love living just a couple of miles from Bob's Red Mill headquarters and store. I ran out of yeast and I was low on a few things so I stopped by there this morning.

Whole wheat flour was on sale, so I got 20 pounds for $8.06. I also got a free clip that is perfectly sized to close five pound bags of flour. I also picked up a few smaller ones, which work on the smaller size bags they sell and also work to close other bags, like frozen veggies and such.

I also got 8 ounces of yeast for $3.39. I know I might find flour a bit cheaper elsewhere, but I know that BRM products are fresh, high quality flours, beans, lentils, whatever.


Monday, March 05, 2007

Peasant bread and sloppy lentils

I tried some new recipes today and they all turned out great.

First up was a recipe from Italian peasant bread. Supposedly it tastes like the bread at the Macaroni Grill. Don't know, never been there. (Here's the link, if you're interested.)

I tried this with half wheat and half white bread flour. Tasty, smells great. Tried 4 different seasonings on top and they all came out great. (Rosemary, italian seasoning, onion/garlic powder, and Vegebase powder).

I bake a lot of bread and this one was very easy to make. It's not sandwich type bread, but good for tearing off and dipping into stews or soups. Or just munching.

I had mine with sloppy lentils. I've gathered about four different recipes for this, so I made kind of a generic version. Mine had red lentils, kale, celery, green pepper, onion, carrot and garlic. It was very tasty and good with the bread.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Heathy vegetable bouillon finally

I was shopping at my local Fred Meyer's this morning and found VegeBase, by Vogue Cuisine. I hate buying the containers of vegetable broth because I end up not using them quickly enough and wasting money by throwing them out. So I've been looking for a veggie soup bouillon. Most have too much sodium and have MSG. This one seems different.

A 1 tsp serving is 15 calories with only 140 mg of sodium and 1 g of protein.No preservatives, additives and is gluten free. It makes a tasty veggie broth. I think this one is a keeper.