Happy Ad Wednesday!

CHEESE!  Cheese is one of those things I spend a lot of time thinking about.

Not only how to eat it (melted? spread? baked? fried?), but how to buy it.  Sliced, shredded, bricks, sticks? The general basic price I think of as my max per pound is $4. Get higher than that, and I’m ignoring you, whether you’re shredded, fancy, or Brie.  Well, maybe not you St. André. You’re special.

This week? This week Sprouts has cheddar cheese for $1.99 per pound, which has not happened in a few years.

          mmmmMMMmmmm

mmmmMMMmmmm

Cheese freezes well, as long as you’re not planning on using it for pretty slices since it becomes a bit crumbly.  At this price, I’m going to be buying quite a lot.

Fiesta’s got Blue Bell for $3.99 again. Limit 2, but you can go every day! I would write more about this, but I’m still too excited about the cheese.

And finally, hams are already being marked down at the Randalls near me, as you know if you’re following me on Facebook. A cryovacked ham will freeze just fine (despite it just having been thawed by the store), and you can eat it later if you’re already all hammed up.

Randalls–see note below about dates

Gold Medal Flour,5 lb                                 $1.99/ea

C&H Cane Sugar, 4 lb                                $1.99/ea

Sprouts (last week’s ad still in effect on Wednesday!)

red seedless grapes                                          98c/lb (DD)Screen shot 2015-03-31 at 11.33.04 PM

pineapples                                                         98c/ea (C15)

mangoes                                                           48c/ea (C15)

red bell peppers                                               48c/ea (DD)

organic vine ripe tomatoes                                98c/lb

bulk cut mild cheddar                                      $1.99/lb

boneless skinless chicken thighs                    $1.69/lb

country style bone-in pork ribs                        $1.69/lb

organic romaine, red or green leaf lettuce      $1.50/ea (DD)

organic pears                                                   $1.50/lb

Fiesta

russet potatoes, 5 lb. sack                                        99c/ea

pork spare ribs                                                         $1.99/lb (Fiesta Limit)

beef brisket, whole in bag                                       $2.99/lb (Fiesta Limit)

bscb                                                                        $1.99/lb (Fiesta Limit)

Birds Eye frozen vegetables, 16 oz.                         99c/ea

Screen shot 2015-03-31 at 11.35.45 PMBlue Bell,half gallon, limit 2                                     $3.99/ea

Land O Lakes butter, 1 lb.                                      $2.99/ea

organic Red Delicious apples                                   99c/lb (DD)

HEB

strawberries, 1 lb.                                                      97c/ea (DD)

asparagus                                                               $1.48/lb (C15)

Halos mandarins,3lb sack.                                     $3.98/ea

corn                                                                           25c/ea (C15)

green pears, Gala apples,tangelos                          87c/lb

organic hot-house cucumbers                                $2.50/ea (DD)

BBQ or lemon pepper chicken leg quarters             77c/lb

Smithfield shank or butt portion ham                      $1.47/lb

Market Fresh sausage links                                    $2.97/lb

Last week: I’d listed apples at HEB as 50c/lb, when they were 50c/ea. Sorry about that! If it’s any consolation, I went there fully expecting 50c/lb, and had some all bagged up before I realized my error.

Randalls:  They’re either having a holiday change of sales schedule or shifting to a calendar sale week. This current ad runs from 3/29 to 4/5. 

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This Week’s Dinners, Week 5

I dread and love this post. I get to recap goals I set just a few days ago. It’s a chance to  evaluate how I’m doing on things that are important to me.

Let’s be happy you’re not on the list of things that are unimportant to me.

This week, I did somewhat follow the plan, but the nature of life with kids of varying ages and two adults working odd schedules shows its toll this week, with a lot of low scoring meals.

The goal:

  • Mon:  chicken fried rice, egg drop soup, steamed spinach, carrots and ranch, apples
  • Tue:  leftover ziti, caesar salad, celery and carrot sticks, cuties
  • Wed: baked fish, potatoes, peas, salad
  • Thur: Taco Thursday! quesadillas, beans, lettuce/tomato/cheese/sour cream, berries
  • Fri: potato soup, homemade bread, fruit & veg

The actual:

  • Mon:  chicken fried rice, egg drop soup, steamed spinach, pomegranate seeds. two kids ate sandwiches instead. Score: 1.5. -0.5 for sandwiches and no deduction for DH not showing because he didn’t feel well.  That is beyond Cheepie’s control, especially if he won’t eat vegetables.
  • Tue: leftover ziti, leftover meatballs, caesar salad. caesar with leftover chicken.  We didn’t eat together, but that’s what 4/5 people ate. Score:  1.5 points.
  • Wed: kid event. meant to cook, didn’t, Eldest and DH ate out. Others ate sandwiches and cereal. Score: 0 points.
  • Thur: Nursery supper: fishsticks, apples, carrots, salad. Meeting for adults. Score: 0 points.
  • Fri: Taco Friday! We made tortillas, and had a lot of fixings. All the people home ate this, but not together.  Score: 1 point.

That sums up to a rockin’ 4.0 points! That’s a new low! I’m incredibly bad at this!

I can’t believe I’m not improving even when I plan to be awful. I thought this weeks plan accommodated our activities, and it didn’t. I also thought it would work when I wasn’t there, and that didn’t happen.

This is an Internet Accountability Plan. What do you think I could do differently? Do you think my ‘meat, veg, raw veg, fruit, grain’ plan is not something I can do on a daily basis?  At this point I’ve learned I need to work with our actual life better when planning meals, but I’m not sure how to do that, and have us all at the table.  Having us all there is really not happening at all, despite our 7pm dinner time. DH isn’t home then, often, and Eldest has other priorities. Do I pull rank? I’m considering. We’ll see how the next month goes.

Cheep Cheep!

Happy Ad Wednesday

Here we are again! It’s another Wednesday, and another Wednesday closer to Thanksgiving, so lots of holiday staples are up for grabs.

Usually, I try to list only the very cheapest price point for an item. In the interest of saving us all gas and multiple trips, if prices are close on items for the next two weeks, I’ll be listing them.  We’re all trying to make our grocery dollar work as much as it can, and pennies on a can of pumpkin is not worth driving from store to store. If it is, to you? Get in touch, I feel like we have things in common!

Many of us are in stores more often this time of year, and many of us are spending more on food. I want you to pull up a Happy Ad Wednesday post and know that if you’re stopping to pick up milk, you can quickly check to see if there’s anything else in that store you want to grab, since you’re there anyway.

I want you to know when you walk into a store what they’ve got at the best discount that week, so you can make a choice about purchasing or stocking up. That’s the goal.

Notes: Pork is on sale again at HEB and Fiesta. The HEB boston butt is the milder, paler cut, and is what most people think of when they want to smoke a pork roast, or toss one in the crockpot. So if you want to stock up, hit HEB, that’s as low as it gets.

BLUE BELL! This is  the price I stock the freezer. I will likely buy a dozen, and it will last for about 4-5 months, if my husband doesn’t find it all (thank you pork butts, for hiding the ice cream in the deep freeze!).  Very occasionally over the past two years, Blue Bell is 2/$7, but I find the $3.99 price well worth stocking up at. Fiesta is ‘all rims’, which means all types, and Randalls is ‘selected varieties’, so some might be ruled out, though in the past I’ve never seen that come into play.

Happy Shopping Cheepsters!

HEB:

boston butt pork roast, bone-in                             $1.47/lb (whole in bag, limit 2)

Smithfield Premium shank portion ham                 $1.57/lb

sweet potatoes                                                         20c/lb  (C15)

green beans                                                              67c/lb

Sprouts:

8″ apple or pumpkin pies                                              $2.99/ea

granny smith apples                                                      48c/lb (DD)

avocados                                                                       48c/ea (C15)

celery, cucumber, green peppers                                48c/ea (DD)

pineapples                                                               $1.98/ea (C15)

BSCB                                                                        $1.88/lb

organic celery                                                              98c/ea (DD)

ending today:

blackberries, 5.6 oz.                                                         98c/ea

cranberries, 12 oz.                                                            98c/ea

acorn, butternut or spaghetti squash                                50c/lb

boneless skinless chicken thighs                                    $1.99/lb

bulk long or short grain brown rice                                       69c/lb

organic carrots, 5lb sack                                                    $2.98/ea

Fiesta:

Blue Bell half gallons, all rims                              $3.99/ea

pork picnic roast                                                  $1.49/lb (Fiesta limit)

red or golden delicious apples                              69c/lb (DD)

large avocados                                                      97c/ea (C15)

BSCB                                                                   $1.88/lb (Fiesta limit)

Randalls:

Blue Bell selected varieties                                      $3.99/ea

$5 Friday ONLY:   family size cheese pizza

$5 gets you a large pizza that will feed 3-6 kids and let you slap a movie in for them, while you catch up on Scandal (where IS my white hat?).

Central Market:

organic gala or fuji apples                                            99c/lb  (DD)

TURKEYS:

HEB: They still have the ‘Buy a 4.5lb HEB ham, get a 12lb Riverside turkey free’.  The free amount can also be put toward the purchase of a a larger turkey. I reiterate the statement from last week that the small hams are hard to find, as well as the turkeys close to the free weight. If you find differently, please let Cheepie know! I’d love to be more confident about sending people out for this deal.

Fiesta:  Jenni-O frozen Grade-A Turkeys 10-16lbs. average, 43c/lb. Limit one with $25 additional purchase. Additional purchases are $1.23/lb.

Randalls: Safeway or Honeysuckle Turkey, Grade A, frozen, 8-24lbs. 59c/lb with an additional $50 purchase, FREE with a $150 additional purchase.  Butterball frozen turkey, 10-28lb, $1.29/lb., limit 1 w/$50 purchase. Fresh Honeysuckle turkey, 10-24lb, $1.29/lb., limit 1.

Strange Holiday Aside:

Fiesta has ‘Traditional Panettone Bread, 24oz.’, NOT in a box. I might buy this just to see what it is, since I’ve never wanted to either bake it, or eat cake that’s been in a box for a while, where that ‘while’ might be ‘back when Chef Boyardee somehow invented Italian food’.

Happy Ad Wednesday!

Berries! I’ve managed to stock up on berries often enough recently that there’s a good stockpile for smoothies in the freezer. Of course, my kids are now freezing due to the polar vortex.  This week is another good chance, with berries on sale at Sprouts and HEB.  These are especially easy to store, just pop in a freezer bag and get as much air out as you can. They’ll be ready to use in a smoothie or cobbler just like a sack of frozen berries from the store.

Or your 7yo can thaw and smoosh them, and eat them with her hands. No? Just me, again? Okay.

Also this week, HEB has those pork picnics I described in last week’s ad post, a bit cheaper, with a limit of two.  If you’re thinking about that purchase, please check out my advice on this particular cut of meat here.

But don’t get mixed up and think that post is this week’s ad post, just because they look similar. No? Just me, still? Okay. I’m glad you didn’t wander CM looking for kale that one time.

Also! The 5lb sack of organic carrots is on sale again at Sprouts! Maybe this time I’ll make the carrot soup I wanted to make last time.

Randalls:

It’s their turn to be first on the rotation, but they’re just too late getting the new flyer up. A girl can only refresh so long! So I’ll note anything worth a trip tomorrow.

HEB:

raspberries or blackberries, 6 oz.                      97c/ea

organic gala or honeycrisp apples                  $1.47/lb (DD)

HEB organics celery hearts                              $1.50/ea

pork picnic roast                                                $1.27/lb  (limit 2)

vine tomatoes                                                      97c/lb

Sprouts:

blackberries, 5.6 oz.                                                         98c/ea

cranberries, 12 oz.                                                            98c/ea

green and red bell peppers, cucumbers                          50c/ea  (DD)

acorn, butternut or spaghetti squash                                50c/lb

boneless skinless chicken thighs                                    $1.99/lb

bulk long or short grain brown rice                                       69c/lb

organic carrots, 5lb sack                                                    $2.98/ea

ending today:

many apples (not honeycrisp)                                             88c/lb

organic kale                                                                         $1.48/bunch  (DD)

Fiesta:

chicken drumsticks, large sack (usually 10lbs or so)          69c/lb (Fiesta limit)

Yukon Gold potatoes, 5lb sack                                           $1.69/ea

A note on Fiesta! If you don’t usually go to one, it’s worth checking out around the holidays if you’ve got any European or Mexican holiday items you wish you could buy.  Not just the boxes of panettone, but British crackers, and all kinds of things show up there. It’s fun to check it all out.

The turkey deals have started. I didn’t really address them last week, but HEB has a good example this week.  They’ve got a free 12lb. turkey with a 4.5lb minimum purchase of an HEB brand ham deal this week. The ham is $4.99/lb, so that’s a minimum of $22.50 on the ham for a free frozen Riverside brand turkey.  I haven’t made an assessment this year yet, but in previous years, serious couponers are on this bargain the second it hits, and anything resembling a small ham disappears fast (yes, there are people vastly more serious about their deal shopping than I am! they have coupons, collect inserts and trade them, and follow folks like the HEB Bargain Hunter.)

I love turkey, and if I”m cooking one it’s going to be bigger than 12lbs.  I’m not going to sneeze at a free turkey, but I find just waiting for Randalls to put a turkey on sale for 69c/lb with a $50 purchase more straightforward than trying to find a small ham, and then find a turkey the right size to be free.  They will credit the cost of 12lbs toward a larger one, so if you’re a ham AND turkey family, you might be able to use this deal.

I’ll keep everyone posted about Turkey Deals as the next six weeks roll, because the deals vary from place to place.

Ways to Use Things That You Might Have Overbought

Avoiding grocery guilt is a goal here at Cheepie.  I don’t want you to buy things, have them sit in the crisper, and then throw them out in a week.  Or in a few weeks.  I want you to eat those deals, because they’re a good thing!

Here are some ideas for things you might buy this week.  If you’ve got ideas, please share in the comments–I’m always looking for new ways to cook the things my family likes.

HEB‘s organic broccoli:  Broccoli is super easy to freeze.  Boil it for 3-4 minutes, then dump it into a colander, then dump that into some ice water.  Drain and toss it in a freezer bag. If you’ve got a vacuum sealer, all the better.   If not, I’m here to tell you my kids have never not eaten broccoli because I didn’t seal it up properly. If yours do, send them over here and we’ll have a word.

Apples of whatever stripe you choose:  Have you been buying those pouches of apple/pear/plum/chai/rutebega puree?  Have you thought to yourself, “Hey, self, isn’t $1 a lot to pay for 4oz of fruit puree?”  If so, let me take you back to a time before cell phones, before the internet, and before people looked up recipes online.  It’s ok, we’re just going to visit a little while.

In those days, there were cookbooks, and in the early 1990s The Silver Palate Cookbook, and the follow-up, The New Basics Cookbook were the proto-foodies gestational sac.  From these books arose the sun-dried tomato craze, the over-use of pesto, and the rise of goat cheese.  I’m looking at The New Basics right now, and you know what chapter I’m on? Microwave Miracles.  This book, published in 1989, by people responsible for untold numbers of dinner parties serving Chicken Marbella (click here), has an entire chapter of recipes they call Microwave Miracles; the chapter is a list of recipes elsewhere in the book that have microwave instructions, followed by nine recipes in the chapter proper.

The only one I’m interested in is the applesauce.  Because it’s simple, and it works. They suggest you can microwave ‘Shrimp on a Bed of Leeks’.  I’m here to say please do not do that.  In fact, the list of things suggested in this chapter that I’d like you to never do is long, and that’ll have to wait, because right now you need to make applesauce.  I love this book, but please don’t microwave shrimp and leeks.

Yes, you can make applesauce on a stove top.  Of course you can,you’re a strong, independent person and can do what you want.  I’m saying this is faster, and simpler, and requires less attention.  You are free to eschew those things.  I’d happily listen to your eschewing in the comments (bless you!).

My Applesauce Plan, based on my Rickety Old Cookbook

  • 4 apples that you like, with at least one tart one
  • 1 cup water
  • 2T lemon juice
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon

Core, peel and slice apples into chunks.  Mix apples and all other ingredients in a microwave safe dish. Microwave 3 minutes.  Use a potato masher to smash the fruit, and microwave another three minutes.  Repeat the mashing.  At this point, you should pretty much have apple sauce, which you may put in any container of your liking.  If there are too many big bits, microwave for 90 sec intervals and continue with the mashing until it looks like what you want to eat.

I know it all seems complicated.  But cutting up apples and microwaving them is something you can do.  And there won’t be EDTA, guar gum, or corn syrup involved. It’s 10 minute applesauce!

So, there’s two things to do with things on sale this week. If you’ve bought a bunch of something, and are at a loss?  Let CheepieAustin know!  I have experience with this situation, whether it’s cabbage, beef tongue, or peaches.  Go ahead, try to stump me!

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter–when I find a good deal I take a photo and tweet. I try to get it on Facebook, too.  This week I found $2 watermelons, $1.49 pomegranates, and 54c cans of soup stock.

Cheep Cheep!

Raisins? Oats? Roll ’em up!

Bulk raisins are on sale at Sprouts this week, and I’ve got a great way for you to use them.

With raisins on sale this week, and rolled oats last week, I thought I’d share one of our family staples. Despite my love of all hot breakfast cereals, none of my kids want anything to do with oatmeal. It’s possible I fed them too much when they were babies, since that powdery oatmeal was so easy to mix with water, formula or breastmilk and airplane right into baby faces. So now they’re all done with oatmeal, and yet, I buy rolled oats when they are on sale.

A friend posted this on Facebook years ago, and my kids still get happy when I roll them up. We’ve done many variations, but most commonly I go ahead and toss raisins in.  The original recipe my friend posted has several more variations–cranberry pistachio and almond joy, for example.

I’m listing the ingredients below in ‘parts’, because I find it easier to vary it when I think of it that way. The link above is more like an ordinary recipe. You can substitute any other ‘butter’ for peanut butter, just keep in mind if it’s runnier, because you’ll need less, and maybe less sweetener, too.   These keep well, I’ve heard, but I haven’t had any last long enough to find out.

  • 4 parts rolled oats
  • 1 part coconut flakes
  • 1 part peanut butter
  • 1 part ground flax seed
  • 1 part chocolate chips
  • 1 part other thing you like: almonds, raisins, sunflower seeds, things like that.
  • a bit less than 1 part honey or agave nectar, depending on what else you’ve added

You basically need enough honey to make the stuff stick together. So start with some, and stir it in. It’ll be ok, they’ll eat them no matter what, really.

I’m working up to having a variation of these always available to wean my kids off granola bars. At least until I start making granola bars.

Cheep Cheep!

Stocking Up, Saving Up

Many of the specials that I bring up on Happy Ad Tuesday posts are with an eye toward stocking up. The chicken walk-through that I posted earlier was a step-by-step way to deal with a bulk purchase.  But what about fruit? vegetables? that 3lb sack of spinach I can’t resist at Costco? Taking advantage of good prices is smart, but only if you don’t end up throwing away four cartons of moldy berries in a few days.

We all have the staples we know our family will always eat–my kids will always eat berries, my husband will eat a caesar salad with every meal if I put it on the plate.  Stocking up when you see something you know is a staple on sale, and knowing how to store it, can really help your grocery budget.  Even better? When you’re not wanting to shop, or don’t have time, your stored items let you ‘shop’ from your pantry/freezer/fridge, and make a great healthy meal, and not stop at Torchy’s for something trashy (that’s their word for ‘with queso’)( I think it should be ‘awesome’ since putting queso on something is good)(I wasn’t consulted, though, and since they have about five restaurants on Lamar alone, and I’m a chick writing a grocery blog, I’ll have to concede they might know better).

If you’re not used to making purchases of size, it can be tricky to process. First, how to save this stuff you bought?  Does it need to turn into something else first, or can it be frozen as-is? Should it be canned (holy cow! more about that later)? I’ve had canning phases, freezing phases, and drying phases.

Currently, I’m in a freezing phase. I feel it is the least work for the most reward. This relies, though, on me having a deep freeze. With the smaller freezer of a usual kitchen fridge/freezer, you need to be circumspect and calculate that into your choices when shopping.  The only reason I do have a deep freeze is because it’s built into the house. When we moved in, the people we bought our home from realized they’d added onto a room in such a way that they couldn’t remove the freezer without destroying a portion of the room.  Turns out, if you’ve got a contract on a house they can’t just tear stuff up willy-nilly, so we kept the freezer.

Drying is a great thing. When grapes are 99c or less? My kids make raisins on the sidewalk in front of our house. Jerky is a snack we all will take anywhere. Fruit leather, sun-dried tomatoes, and any kind of dried fruit are all cheaper when you buy on sale and process. The trade-off is time, as drying isn’t speedy, and there’s a learning curve. A lot of jerky recipes say, “Slice thinly and put in oven on lowest setting.”  That’s not always going to work for every situation, so you’ve also got to put time in experimenting.

Canning. We’ll talk about canning another time. If you’ve got questions, throw them in the comments, and I’ll address them.   I feel like this needs a whole post of its own because of the volume of information. It’s not enough to say, “Hey! Can things, when you can!”(ho ho ho).  So I’m tagging that for a future post.

I am going to run through a few things I do regularly to take advantage of prices and keep myself stocked up on  things we all eat. These won’t all apply to you–maybe you hate spinach, I don’t know (but really, if you’re eating kale? spinach is like Royal Kale).  I’m hoping you’ll read something you can use, as well as something that will spark an idea in you as a way for you to use Happy Ad Tuesday as a way to stock up and save up.

Spinach (hereafter called Royal Kale): I buy this in the BIG sacks at Costco. Not the box, the goofily large sacks. When I get home, I blanch it all, and freeze it in portions. I’ve thrown away enough of these sacks that I know this is the only thing to do. I buy it thinking, “I will have a salad EVERY day for lunch. It will be awesome, and healthy, and look at all I have to do–toss spinach in a bowl with feta and pour dressing on it!” That never happens, and the sack takes up half a shelf in my fridge and goes that weird swamp-smelling stinky bad.  So now I freeze it all, except for one salad worth. Which my daughter eats.  Sometimes I vacuum seal them , but more often I freeze in small tupperwares, and then thaw enough to remove them and toss in a ziploc. The spinach is good for soup, omelets, creamed spinach, tossing with pasta, and pretty much anything not salad.

Berries: These get tossed in a ziploc when they’re getting a few days old. I don’t worry about freezing on a baking sheet so they won’t stick, or anything like that, because all these berries are going into smoothies. If it’s strawberries, I do cut the tops off.  I keep this ongoing bag of berries, which gets added to all the time, next to the ongoing bag of bananas. Bananas don’t really go on sale too much–they’re like milk, a staple-low.  But I often buy too many, or too ripe. All you need to do with them is peel, and then toss in a bag. I break mine into thirds, just to lessen the stress on my blender.  This way, you’ve got bananas and berries right there waiting to be smoothies whenever you want! It’s great.

Ground meat: I walked you through chicken last week, but I’d like to point out another way to save.  When brisket goes on sale, I buy a bunch and grind beef. I do this with my Kitchen Aid and the grinder attachment.  For me to do this, I have to find brisket at $1.99/lb. That’s usually on holiday weekends–Labor Day, July the 4th, Memorial Day, what I like to call the Texas BBQ Meat Sale Holidays.  I grind it and sack it up in 1 lb chunks.  It’s cheaper than ground beef, and I know it is way less likely to get recalled. If you don’t have a grinder, you can still take advantage of this by buying brisket and chunking it up–I used to cut a whole brisket into fourths.  Then I’d use that meat for stews, crockpot meals, or anything that wasn’t a stir-fry/quick heat recipe. Brisket, even when not whole, needs long slow cooking to get tender.

Eggs: Seriously, eggs keep so much longer than people think. They weren’t even refrigerated back in Little House days, and people ate them and went on to live full productive lives.  Don’t throw out eggs past their date-give them a float test. Fill a glass half with water. Does the egg float in it? If yes, that’s a bad egg. Throw it away carefully, or you’re in for a big stink.  When eggs are on sale (Easter) I buy a bunch.

Rice: This is a staple that goes on sale occasionally for 59c/lb, and I like to stock up. But I do not like pantry moths, which always seem to be rice-related. So I will stock up, but I keep my rice in old spaghetti sauce jars, canning jars or other glass recloseable jars, because that’s seemed to work for the past several years.  There is also a school of thought that if you keep your rice in the freezer it’ll be safe because the eggs will be killed. But I’ve seen Aliens too many times, and don’t trust it.

Tomorrow I’ll get my Happy Ad Tuesday post up, likely about the same time as last week. I hope you’re finding deals, and shopping well.  Cheep Cheep!