How to Feed Yourself Cheaply and Easily


I don’t know if this is a thing I continue, but particularly since most of you are hyper-competent people.  But it occurred to me I had ONE expertise that is not common.

As I’ve told here several times, due to several things, one of them being that because I was one of the few who made it into university (there was no private at the time, and the places were few, the grades very high to get in) it wasn’t expected that I (as mom would put it) “would ever have my hands in dishsoap”, I was never taught even the rudiments of cooking.

I’d picked up some by virtue of taking extra classes and doing tutoring, which meant that I often came home way after the family had eaten. I was competent to take a seasoned, prepared chicken leg and fry it, for instance.  I could make popcorn.  I knew how to make tea and coffee.  Oh, and I knew how to bake, but Portuguese views of cakes are completely different from the US (they PREFER them dry.)

So on my first day as a married woman, after my husband went to work, I set about looking for stuff to cook, and I literally read the instructions on the back of a pasta package to figure out how to make it soft.

Sure, in the US the joke is that college students survive on ramen noodles.  We were living like college students for the first three years of our married life, but here’s the thing: I didn’t even know ramen noodles existed.  Also I’d been raised in a tradition that made meals at least two courses and occasional desert necessary.  (Which yeah has a ton to do with our weight issues. Never mind.)

Fortunately my SIL in Portugal had anticipated my problems, and got me a very basic cookbook for newlyweds, with pictures.   It is now in pieces, which makes finding things very difficult (same as my joy of cooking) but the principles I learned in those first ten years of cooking with as little expense as possible tasty enough meals to keep us out of restaurants most weekends is now in my head.

I can’t use most of it now, because Dan is diabetic and — thanks to many many prednisone courses — I hover on the verge of it. At any rate, carbs and stress are the triggers for my auto-immune attacks and I’ve managed to stay off the pred for a year now and would like to keep it that way.

But there are tricks and work arounds, which I’ll also be glad to share.  If you guys are interested, I’ll start doing this on Saturdays and include low-carb work around for recipes.

This is also germane to us right now, because I’m switching from cooking for a family (with two boys/later young men) to cooking for just two late middle aged people, who don’t actually eat as much as they used to. I find in terms of not wasting food (look, the way I was brought up,  if you dropped your bread you were supposed to pick it up and kiss it to apologize) and not eating the same thing every day (you know, if I make a roast it lasts forever. Unless we invite the boys and DIL for dinner.)

So I’m also learning tricks and work arounds and ways to do things.

Anyway, if you guys are interested I’ll do this as a feature on Saturdays, and make note of your own contributions in comments.

So, to begin with, some cheap staples:

Eggs- look for them on sale.  Seriously. Sometimes they’re 99c a dozen.  Sometimes, in my area, they’re less. Yes, you can freeze them, though as whole eggs it tends to burst them.  Back in the days of feeding what felt like a horde of males, I’ve been known to put cheap ziplocs (though the cheap twist close bags would work too) into muffin cups, break an egg into them, freeze, seal, and then put a dozen or so in a freezer bag.

Eggs are wonderful stuff, because if you’re otherwise out of most food, you can use very little of other stuff to make a tasty meal from eggs. Omelets souffles and quiches are all cheap –if you get your eggs on sale.

Parmesan in the shakeable packages – It’s not extremely perishable, it’s a good flavoring and it’s additional protein and fat.

Rice – if you can eat carbs, find one of the bulk places or the Asian grocery stores. Get a fifty pound bag of rice. It’s usually fairly cheap. It can be turned into all sorts of things from soups to deserts. And it’s just good filler.

Frozen vegetables – but Sarah, they’re more expensive than fresh.  Yeah, they are, but they don’t go bad as quickly.  Again, the thing is to watch for sales and large packages.  (Again, it is a good idea to freeze them in smaller portions.)  We usually have cauli flower and broccoli, green beans, and some kind of mix in the freezer.  In our case now it’s mostly because we forgot to buy vegetables, or have been too busy to go to the store. BUT when we were very broke, we used to buy the big cheap bags at Sam’s (we got membership through Dan’s work) and live on it and rice with a little bit of meat…

A little bit of of meat: chicken.  No, seriously, chicken.  Unfortunately I hate chicken, so I’ve found a million and one ways of disguising it.

The cheapest chicken I’ve found is at Walmart (in our area) and comes in10 lb bags. It’s also all legs and thighs, which means first I need to debone and refreeze most of it (though we also eat legs and thighs, obviously.

The cheapest POULTRY we’ve found is the day after Thanksgiving hitting the local grocery store and buying a couple of the largest turkeys.  Then de-bone and slice into various things.  Turkey breast fillets make a good substitution for veal fillets, btw, in most dishes.  You can also make hamburger, mini roasts, etc out of one turkey.  With both kids eating with us, I could get a large turkey to last us 2 or three weeks, depending on what we were eating.

If you’re going to engage in this sort of thing, it might be worth it to buy one of the food sealers where it sucks the air out and seals the food.  I was told here years ago that if you use those instead of freezer bags, not only is it cheaper, but you don’t get freezer burned meat. I’ve found it to be right.

Now, how do you do all of this labor intensive stuff if you both work? When we had the boys, I used to cook on Saturday while I was cleaning.  Saturday morning was for all the prep, and then I let things marinade/baste/cook while I cleaned.  Then let everything cook and freeze a meal for work day.  This is harder with only two people/low carb, and I haven’t found my rhythm yet.

Anyway, is this something you guys would be interested in? Both the “We only have x in the pantry, what do we do now?” and “How to prep/cook ahead?” and “How to make this low carb?”

Are you interested?  It can become a Saturday feature.

And now I go clean and stuff….  (I still have to enter all the changes into Deep Pink to send to betas.)



327 thoughts on “How to Feed Yourself Cheaply and Easily

          1. Our cat loved chicken feet. This led him to drag whole chickens home, very thoroughly dead. What could mom do but make the evidence disappear so he could eat the (boiled) chicken feet?

            1. I can just imagine the cat: “Here, my human, I have brought you dinner, in exchange for the tasty treat.”

              My mom started increasing her intake of chicken feet I think, a year ago (she would make adobo or broth out of them) because they were a cheap source of …uhm. Tendon? Brain is failing me right now, but they’re a health food made into a supplement now, for knees.

                1. Yes! Collagen.

                  I blame sleep deprivation, from adorable baby, whose favorite methods of waking mum at the Witchling Hour are either vomit, or the slightly more pleasant “land on Mum’s face, giggle when she shrieks in alarm and terror, then give happiest smile and cuddle.”

                  1. That last is adorable. Mine just shrieks, unless for some reason we’ve let him sleep with us, at which point he eats and I sleep.

                    1. She has her own little cot, which is attached to the side of the bed. One side can be let down, for easy access, or zipped up when sleeping.

                      I tend to leave it down, since she vomits at night and I have to be able to see her at a moment’s notice, and possibly clean and change baby and bedding.

                      I miss breastfeeding. Couldn’t,with her. Was so much easier (and oodletons cheaper!) Looking forward to when she’s no longer tube fed; if only she’d take to eating orally more. Right now it’s when she likes to, and only eats half a pot of the Heinz baby food things. Then I have to make up the rest of her requirements in a tube feed of milk.

          1. Got to a novelty shop and pick up a handful of rubber toes and just dribble them around Sarah’s table (assuming she has one and isn’t just wandering at large.) Simulate Mr. Garbage Pails with a bucket of silly putty, dye, fake eyeballs and fake teeth?

          1. To the contrary: sanity is under-rated and under-utilised.

            Sobriety is overrated, as too many mistake it for sanity.

  1. I’m an “open a can of soup” or “heat a frozen dinner” type of “cook”. 😀

    Now Mom was the “from scratch cook” and it annoyed me in later years to hear her call me a “good cook” (see above). 😦

    1. When I moved to a rooming house in college, I got a few pots and pans from my mother. I also found a cookbook at the bookstore in the college town mall. This one was entitled something likje “Cook it Quick — Recipes and instructions for meals in 30 minutes”. It had the basic recipe, and a timeline of how to pull off the meal. IIRC, the tightest schedule was for a decent spaghetti with ground-beef enhanced sauce.

      In the apartment next year, I had a few more well-used cookbooks, and my 3 roommates came up with their own recipes and ideas.

      After college, I went with the Joy and some others, until remodeling (regular oven eliminated for the duration, then all but microwave) and an MS program (little to no spare time), when I went to frozen and/or grab-n-go food.

      After we got married, $SPOUSE took over the cooking (mostly; I’ll do prep work and such), and we’ll use canned veggies for salads. I have to stay away from high vitamin K veggies, so it’s usually beans (green, black or kidney) and corn. I miss fresh spinach, but it would force a whole new titration of my warfarin. Consistency is a good thing…

  2. Protip: if you get packaged foods like Hamburger Helper or the more high-end versions, cut the amount of meat in half or double the pasta and veggies. Seriously, all of those recipes put enough meat in there that I wonder if the makers don’t also own cattle/chicken/pig farms.

    1. That wouldn’t work so well for those of us who need to eat low-carb, though. Probably helpful for the healthy college student (although they might stay healthy longer if they didn’t eat so many carbs when they were young).

      1. Fair point, though I think doubling the veggies probably won’t hurt most people. (With selection adjusted for allergies, sensitivities, vitamin K issues as discussed above, etc.)

      2. For low carb, I tend to make my own, instead of the prepackaged. Almost as easy, if you use frozen vegetables. And then I can use whole wheat pasta, so that the carbs I DO get are slower to hit the bloodstream.

        The trick with that, though, is to keep the pasta separate, and only add it to your own serving. Otherwise, any leftovers wind up with disintegrated pasta.

  3. My cheap protein in grad school was liver. Everybody else hates it so it is cheap at the grocery store. Also my cat liked it and for $2 we got multiple meals (he had his raw).

    I am now the proud owner of an Instant Pot and looking for low-carb recipes!

    1. Start with chuck roast. The pressure cooking will dissolve the connective tissues in cheaper cuts of meat and the next day leftovers they have that gelatinized giving the meat a more unctuous mouth-feel. As we speak my son is out buying an Instant Pot…

      Cooking liver in an Instant Pot. INTERESTING. It is sooo tough when cooked improperly and so much better when cooked well. Please report your findings.

    2. My daughter and I both like liver, so we have it fairly often (speaking of…I need to add it to the list for my next shopping trip). I haven’t found any better way of cooking it than to fry it in butter — sometimes with mushrooms. My mother used to bread it in seasoned flour, but she did that with nearly all the meats she cooked; since we found out we have celiac disease, we’ve stopped doing that, but if you can eat flour it is tasty. The key is to just cook it to barely done. Overcooking ruins liver.

      Alternatively, grind it up with some hamburger and make either patties or meatloaf with it. That one is good for people who really don’t care for liver.

        1. I was thinking of suggesting potato flour as an alternative to wheat. I was reading about onion bhajis the other night and they use chickpea flour. I haven’t the foggiest about gluten-free suggestions, but those might be good alternatives?

          1. My mother’s recipe for liver was to use non-fat dry milk as the breading. Which actually worked pretty well.

      1. I’m one of those who hate liver, though some of it was Mom’s tendency to overcook it. We don’t eat much breaded stuff (celiac/gluten intolerance), but in recipes that need bread fillers, we’ll use gluten free bread. Normally, it’s rice-flour bread (from the Betty Hagman baking book) we do, but between summer heat and my being laid up for too many weeks, it’s been GF bread from the stores. Franz is good in the Pacific Northwest, and Udi is good, but expensive.

        (10 days til I see the doc. That should release me for driving and at least light yardwork until I get some stamina built up.)

        1. Oh, ghod – I’d never eat cow liver. It was one of Mom’s go-to-weekly meals, sauteed with bacon and onions and I hated it with such a passion that I never ate it again, after I left home.
          Chicken liver pate, from a recipe in the Sunset Provincial French cookbooks? OK, that, I’d do. The Daughter Unit hates it, so … there we go.

          1. Mom ate it weekly when she was doing a Weight Watcher’s plan one summer. Smothered in ketchup, it was possible to eat, but decidedly unpleasant. Boiled leather might have been more enjoyable. ( IIRC, I ended up getting something else on liver nights. I recall going out to eat with friends a few times that summer…

          2. Deer, Elk, fresh in hunting camp, fried with onions and mushrooms … despise it with a passion. Mom used to try to sneak it in for the iron content
            when sis & I were on WW *diets as teens … didn’t work. (* No we should never had been on those diets back then. We were not overweight by any stretch of the imagination. But, water/bridge.)

            Hubby loves liver and onions. I can’t stand to buy it or even smell it cooking. The other 2 adults we often did pre-scouting trips with also, loved it. I was warned. They were warned (they, all 3, did not believe me). I had a light sandwich (had to eat something). Then threw up most that evening, just from the smell, and it was cooked outside. After that liver and onions were reserved for pre scout snow trips, which I did not go on.

            I’m a lazy cook. Prep. Put in oven or simmer on stove. Set timer. Anything more complicated … uh, no? Should be low(er) carbs to keep the blood sugar balanced, but cutting it out altogether isn’t good either.

            1. As a kid, we’d save the turkey liver and goodies for including in the stuffing/gravy. Somehow, the t-liver would get cooked to a decent softness, and it was actually enjoyable.

              $SPOUSE doesn’t care for any liver, and we never do stuffing. I’m not willing to experiment with beef liver.

            1. I don’t generally buy whole chickens anymore but turkey… The heart and gizzard get chopped up and added to the giblet gravy. The liver gets fried and fed to the dogs. They love it. 😉

            2. I love chicken liver. Incidentally, hit them with a little kosher salt and toss them on the grill and they’re done in no time. Tastes even better than fried.

              I also like gizzards, but those I get as a treat at the gas station.

                1. Slow cooked with hot tomato sauce?

                  The gizzards or the son?

                  I maintain English loses a lot by lack of declensions … but admit it creates fertile playground for the likes of me.

          3. I’m going to try beef liver again one of these days. When i was younger, I hated it, but I’ve found that part of the horrible texture I hated is caused by the popular tendency to cook it with onions.

            I’m going to try cooking it in butter, as freeholder45 suggests, and will see if that makes a difference. I like sauteed onions, but I’ll cook them in a separate skillet.

        2. I hated the taste. My father had a good-smelling recipe of it (a variation of Beef Steak Filipino, which is a stew with lots of onions, soy sauce and calamansi lime) and I managed to eat a thin slice of it. The rest of the time though… the taste. The crumbly texture… ugh.

      2. My mother-in-law’s fried liver (seasoned flour, true) is magnificent. Especially with a sweet potato.

        1. I really love liver… cooked by someone else. Somehow, I can cook calamari without turning it to rubber, but alas, not so much on liver. Not being broke anymore, I pay someone else to cook it for me.

        2. Oh man… now I’m hankering for some of mom’s liver-and-onions… and Braunschweiger and tomato sandwiches, and liver-dumpling soup…

          Nobody I know but my parents like these things.

          1. Braunschweiger is awesome! I love to get it, and a loaf of sourdough… but if I’m managing keto, I just spread it on a slice of Dubliner or sharp cheddar, instead. Still awesome!

              1. I got more generic liver sausage than braunschweiger when I was a kid. Liked them both, but haven’t had any in a long time. I guess it’s how the liver is prepared, and they’re not leather.

    3. I got a Hotlogic instead of an Instant Pot. It’s another type of slow cooker, basically an insulated lunch box with a hot plate inside. Heats leftovers or frozen dinners, or cooks most foods from raw (only gets up to 165, so nothing that needs to be boiled).

      I never really cooked, usually just either microwaving or whatever I could make in a single pot, but this thing is great for lazy people like me. Plus the portability is nice for work, travel, or even cooking in your car.

  4. First, there’s an obesity/diabetes epidemic b/c America needs to flip the “food pyramid” upside down. Maximize healthy fats. Minimize carbs. Like Atkins on steroids! Lots of veggies in between. Veggies are cheap. Processed foods are expensive. Olive oil, butter, lard, bacon grease are tasty and cheap media to fry your veggies in.
    Second, if you buy 50 lbs of anything, store it in the freezer. My friend bought 50 lbs of rice and found it infested with moths after a few months. The freezer will kill (keep dormant) unadvertised protein supplements (bug larvae).
    Third, fasting costs nothing. BUT wean yourself off carbs first. Get yourself into ketosis before fasting & your body will be tuned to retrieve energy stored in visceral fat.
    Fourth, exercise is a great way to kill appetite. Run 5k and you won’t be hungry for hours. Or walk if the knees/stamina are not yet trained for it. Sadly, I have not learned how to leave a running store without spending $200, but I figure it’s cheap health insurance.

    1. Back in law school I brought a 50 pound bag of rice with me, and it lasted almost the whole semester. I was in Philadelphia, where it’s cold. I tried it again years later and found that unadvertised protein.

      1. eating like a wolf is what more people should do. wolves are carnivores. they never eat sugar or refined carbs.

        1. Exercise makes me eat carbs. Lots. If I don’t, I get the shakes, the chills, rage, inability to do anything including eat or drink, and so forth.

          Let us not talk about fasting. Not much good.

            1. No. *chuckle* In my case, it’s a pretty fast metabolism. I’ve had my thyroid checked so much. Apparently it’s fine. I have perpetual low blood sugar though, so I have to work to keep it up, or I end up much like Suburbanbanshee, along with crippling headaches.

              I’ve pissed off a LOT of people who were certain I was diabetic with all the carbs and sugar I consume.

    2. Do not, for the Love of whatever Gods you hold dear, put yourself into ketosis without medical supervision of some sort, even if it’s only checking in regularly with your GP.

    3. We buy in bulk a lot. White rice hasn’t been a problem; we keep it in airtight containers and it lasts well. Brown rice has been a problem. After a 25 pound bag turned into weevil hotel, I looked it up. There are two ways to kill off the eggs. One involves heat (never used it, so no recollection of details), while the other needs you to freeze the brown rice for 72 hours. After that, airtight storage and you are good to go. $SPOUSE grinds a few pounds of brown rice for baking (white rice flour is readily available, and has a long shelf life) bread or pizza dough.

      1. We’ve got several one- or two-pound bags in plastic (they were on sale) — mmmaybe I should stick them in the freezer for a while just to be sure.

      2. Empty screw-top water or soft drink bottles are good for storing rice. They work for flour, though getting it out can be a hassle.

        We buy apple juice; it comes in heavy plastic jugs with a larger-than-normal screw cap. Beans, etc. store conveniently in them.

        1. The farm and ranch store had some used-once egg buckets one year. About 5 gallons, with airtight lids. We used these for staples and for dog food. (Now we use 5 gallon buckets with Gamma screwtop lids. A 40 pound Costco bag fills two buckets.)

          Bulk storage depends on what we need. We use anything from mason jars (available in half-gallon size) to 20 quart restaurant containers. (Yeah, we’re country and get snowed in from time to time…)

          Half-gallon juice bottles work in the shop fridge, and we’ll use marked ones for seedlings. The fertilizer-water bottle is specially marked.

          1. We store rice and pinto beans in bulk in 5 gallon buckets with Gamma lids. Also some GF flour for my husband. We’ve just had a budget halved due to my position being eliminated at work, and we’re eating rice, beans, frozen veggies, eggs, and ground turkey. Cooking and seasoning advice posts would be amazing because I am NOT a good cook and my husband can cook a mean bowl of cereal. 🙂

            1. You may need to start with a few cookbooks, just to see what is possible. Alibris or Abebooks may have used copies. Joy of Cooking, an older edition from the 70s or 80s would be good, and the Craig Claiborne New York Times and Times International cookbooks for a wide range of recipies.
              Spice blends are also a good way to get a balanced flavor into food. We get most from a GFS, Costco, or Sysco Foods store, or online.
              We use a lot of Tony Chacheries Cajun Seasoning, as well as curry powder, Canadian Steak seasoning (salt, pepper, and garlic), taco seasoning, soy sauce and 5 spice powder for Chinese flavors, Shwarma seaoning and a few other mideastern blends. We use Everglades Srasoning Cactus Dust for a mesquite smoky flavor on just about anything, including popcorn.
              I learned spicing by holding the spice jar over the cooking food and seeing if they smelled good together.
              I find that savory and bay leaves are called for in most European beef dishes, while tarragon is great with chicken, and dill with fish.
              Have fun experimenting.
              John in Indy

              1. If you’re trying to save, and depending on your location, you can grow a lot of spices yourself. Even someone like me, whose veggie garden … is never good (3 beans. Three.) can grow oregano, chives and dill. David the Good’s Push the Zone (you can Inter-Library loan a copy) is also helpful: I’ve managed to get a good cooking thyme and a wee bay tree to survive.

                My mom is promising to teach me how to make idiot-proof teriyaki sauce soon…

              2. I’ve always liked the Fannie Farmer cookbook. It was my mother’s favorite. It’s companion, the Fannie Farmer Baking Book is also good. My holiday cooking has long come right out of he first of those two books, albeit modified for my low-carb diet. I can’t really use the latter any more, but when I could…

            2. The gold standard (IMHO) for gluten-free cooking are the books by Bette Hagman.

              There’s links to her other books. The baking book is a wonder; some of the ingredients might take a bit of looking, though the Kroger affiliate is carrying the specialty items.

              My copy of the Joy dates to the 1970s, but it’s a good start for basic instructions and some good recipes.

              1. I had all of her books (well, at the time — maybe she’s written more since I first found out my youngest and I had celiac disease about 25 years ago), but haven’t used them in a long time, and finally passed them on to friends who were new to celiac disease. I don’t do a lot of baking anymore, for one thing. And for another, I don’t need the carbs. Also, we (daughter and I) both have auto-immune diseases. Daughter has lupus, which is serious stuff. So we have to keep inflammation under control, and there are diet things you can do to help with that. One of those diet things is avoiding a lot of the gluten-free flours and stuff, since all the grains/seeds and legumes seem to contribute to inflammation for one reason or another. I know that daughter and I both feel a lot better if we don’t eat very much of that kind of thing.

          2. *sighs with envy at the description of the large storage*

            My minimum requirement is a chest freezer. When we bought ours, I said “I want one big enough to store a body in. That size. Not for storing bodies though.”

            Though, I do have a couple of rabbit carcasses in there, skinned and cleaned. I just haven’t any idea of what to do with it. I’ve pondered more than once to make a soup of it, or a brown-gravy stew with carrots and potatoes.

            I prefer frozen veg, because fresh is expensive where I live.

            1. Freezers. We started with a *30 cu ft upright. Sold it, rather than try to move it. Down sized to a 20 cu ft upright, which was at least half to 2/3 empty; it died about a year ago, over 30 years old. Replaced it with a 9 cu ft chest. It is 75% to 95% full all the time. I got 3 stackable recycle bins, beyond the two upper baskets, to store stuff in. Makes it easier to dig out stuff from the bottom reaches (especially since I can not reach and touch the bottom).

              * In-laws had a 30 cu ft upright. Convinced us we needed one. BUT they froze gallons of milk that we brought over from the valley for them … FWIW, milk after it has been frozen? Yuck. To cook with it, fine. To drink … ewww. Plus for them it wasn’t a quick dash to the store for anything they needed. Their place bordered La Pine State Park south of Bend, north of La Pine, and before La Pine had much of anything there.

              1. In my case, it’s because I don’t know how to drive yet. After I lost the babies I would have random, out of the blue flashbacks where I would freeze and not see the world around me, and relive the moment. Was one of the signs that I was suffering from PTSD. Made trying to learn to drive… or driving… dangerous. I’m getting better, so hopefully in a year or so, I’ll be driving.

                I’m also rather small, so I can’t really carry much weight (plus, a baby carriage filled with everything she might need while out, because vomiting baby. sigh: note to self, pack a spare sundress in case I get barfed on.)

                So when hubby isn’t around, I order groceries. I’ll be cooking for a large family for a while still, so the freezer is handy for meat and veg. I rather miss the setup I had in Townsville, where I had an upright shelf freezer for frozen meals, and a separate fridge for marinating, but that wouldn’t work here. We gave those away when we moved, full of frozen food, to a young family whose missus was delighted that she wouldn’t need to stock up for a while on a lot of things!

              2. Keeping freezers full is a good idea. For instance, if you lose power, a full one will stay frozen for longer.

                1. Yes. Full freezers stay cold longer. Used to keep 1 gal milk cartons of ice blocks for car camping and coolers. Don’t have enough room in new chest freezer. Doubled as ice blocks on the rare occasion we lose power in southern Willamette Valley. Been happening more an more the last few years. Happened a lot when I was growing up. Almost like the little ice age was threatening again, like it did when I was in grade through HS locally. (Okay, uncalled for, maybe … okay a little.)

            2. What are your thoughts on chest freezer vs standing? We have 2 chests, but limited floorspace, so I was thinking of replacing one with a standing unit

              1. I like the convenience of the upright freezer. The drawback is that it takes more energy, because every time you open it, you let out far more of the cold air and let in more warm air than you do with the chest freezer. But, particularly for less flexible and/or smaller people, the chest freezer is much more difficult to get things out of the bottom.


                  Getting things out of the bottom of chest freezers is helped if you organize. Did research via google and ask (dot) com. Above was one of the suggestions. Our chest freezer is only 9 cu ft. With two baskets it came with, only can stack one pair of the bins above, plus only room for two across the bottom. Really made a difference. I can’t reach the very bottom of the chest freezer. But don’t have problems using these.

                  Energy and size we wanted were a factor this time around. Couldn’t find an upright freezer smaller than 15 cu ft. We were looking to at least 1/2 the capacity of the former size. Plus energy savings of a chest freezer. Then any newer freezer was going to save energy over a 33 year old up right.

              2. I preferred one of each; a chest freezer for things like meat and frozen vegetables, and the standing one with shelving for frozen pre-made meals, desserts and tv dinners. I would love to be able to do the OAMC prep stuff, but I only did them partially; it’s harder with the chest freezer, in my opinion, but some folks work it just fine.

      3. Brown rice also goes rancid due to the unstable fats in the bran portion. So for long-term storage — white rice.

        If you think rice is boring, try jasmine rice. Same chemical as turns fresh-baked bread into crack. Remember MJB Rice tasting different? jasmine rice.

        Side note: Minute Rice works better in Quick Microwave Glop (any leftover meat, any random veggies, chopped onion, a can of condensed cream-of-soup and/or tomato-something, a can of water, five palmfuls of instant rice, season to taste; cook covered on high for 10 minutes. Serve with lots of butter and lemon pepper.)

        Bulk seasonings (and rice) at Winco or Costco/Sam’s Club: a whole pound for the same price as half an ounce at the grocery.

    4. Here in Florida, all flour, pasta & rice (not sold in an airtight container) needs to go in the freezer overnight before it goes in the pantry. If this is neglected they will eventually hatch out flour weevils or moths – and aside from the spoilage, it’s not easy getting rid of the flour bugs once you have them.
      My daughter’s partner once left her italian bread crumbs in a cardboard container in our pantry. A few months later the bugs came out and we had to tear apart & disinfect the the pantry, throwing out a lot of food in the process.

      1. An ex-girlfriend brought weevils into my house, probably with some questionable discount foods. Tiny brown beetles less than 1/8 inch long. If it’s too cheap, it ain’t a bargain!

        I emptied the kitchen cabinets and scrubbed them out with bleach. Put everything to be saved (except cans) into the oven in batches. 6 hours at 225 F, then let it cool. Never saw another weevil.

        175 F (80 C) might be hot enough for merely suspected weevil infestations. As long as the bags don’t melt.
        Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!

  5. I’m certainly interested! The wound in my heart from my wife’s death is mostly healed now, so I do a lot of home cooking instead of buying nearly so many ‘instant meals’. But I’m allergic to fish and fowl, so most of my cooking uses minced beef – I’ve adapted quite a few commercial recipes to suit myself.

    1. Can you eat pork? I have a very simple, and fairly easy recipe (we had it for dinner tonight)

      Tools: A good solid steel pan with lid
      A pair of tongs
      A wooden spoon
      A mallet
      A board
      A small swatch of plastic wrap
      A sharp knife
      A teaspoon – the spoon, not the measure.
      A cup
      A cutting board you only use for raw meat and clean with scalding water and bleach.
      Paper towels
      2 plates
      A cup
      A bowl

      Green leaf lettuce about 1/3 of a small head
      Yellow mustard
      Martini and Rossi dry vermouth or 1 bottle pinot grigio
      Olive oil
      Salt and pepper
      Goat cheese
      Garlic powder
      Wondra ultrafine flour in the shaker jar
      1 package of pork cutlets. Freeze separately, thaw 1 the day before. When it is almost thawed, cut it in half to make two thinner cutlets, let finish thawing
      Spice House sunny Paris seasoning OR blend about 2 spoonfuls of chives, scallions, and dill

      Wash and dry your lettuce, tear into bite-size chunks and put in bowl

      Shave off thin bits of goat cheese into the bowl w/knife. Don’t stint!

      In a cup, put a spoonful of olive oil, one of honey, one of wine or vermouth, and a dash of salt and pepper. Stir. Dip a bit of lettuce and taste, adjusting honey, mustard, salt and pepper in small dabs until you like it. Thin with water if needed. Let sit.

      On your meat board, use one hand to transfer one of your thin cutlets. Use your clean hand to cover the cut let with the swatch of plastic wrap. Pound with mallet until evenly thin ~ 1/4 inch.

      With clean hand dust lightly with ultra-fine flour and garlic powder. Flip cutlet, dust other side, place on plate.

      Repeat with second cutlet.

      Clean hands thoroughly and fill the steel pan with a very thin layer of olive oil.

      Heat on medium until the oil starts to smell nice.

      Use the tongs to place the cutlets in the pan. Use them closed to push them around the pan until the olive oil has coated them and they slide smoothly. This part goes very fast! Sprinkle with salt, pepper and seasoning mix. In about a minute and a half check the underside, for a nice golden color. Flip. Season other side. In about a minute transfer to your plate and turn stove heat to low.

      Cover plate with lid, let meat rest, and splash a generous dollop of wine / vermouth into pan. Stir with wooden spoon to get the browned bits up.

      Pour hot sauce over cutlets. Toss salad with dressing.

      This expands up or down, but if you want to serve a lot of people, you’ll need a larger salad bowl, an oven set to “warm” to keep the covered cutlets warm as you work on them in batches.

      I’ve also added apple chunks to the salad and lemon pepper to the seasoning mix.

  6. Cornmeal and beans, the staple foods of the South. (Also turnip greens, but I have some standards.)

    Lentils are economical only if you can persuade your family to eat them; I can’t.

    Never let a chicken bone, a carrot peel, an onion peel or a celery trimming get away without a sojourn in the stockpot.

    Chicken leg quarters on sale.

    Befriend the butcher and the fishmonger for soup bones and fish heads.

    Most food coupons offer a discount on prepackaged foods you weren’t going to buy anyway.

    Shun “organic”, “gluten free” and other popular labels for the Woke; you’re paying extra for zero benefit.

    1. Mostly good advice, but those of us who have celiac disease really do need those ‘gluten-free’ products! Mostly, I buy raw ingredients which need no labels, but once in a while the labels do come in handy (takes forever to get the shopping done if you have to read every single label before you can put something in your cart!).

      1. So true, freeholder45. For us, “gluten free” tends to be a starting point, since there can be traces of gluten even then. At that point, we try it and see if it tears up my husband’s stomach. If not, we start trusting that brand.

        1. Sorry, I was thinking about the many people I know who decide on no evidence and with no dietary problems that “I’m going to be gluten free because it’s healthier.”

          1. I have to confess, I’m grateful for the whole gluten-free fad because it increased the variety, decreased the cost, and improved the flavor of many gluten-free items. But, yeah, “gluten free” doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.

      2. At a guess, I think maybe Margaret was talking about the products that advertise “gluten free” when there isn’t any gluten in the foodstuff in question, ever, just to be able to charge more. Things like “gluten free” peanut butter, for example.

        1. ‘Gluten free water.” “Gluten free sugar.” I wish I was kidding.

          (I know some places do that label to show that absolutely nothing with gluten has been in the factory/bottling plant, but GF water? I should hope so!)

          1. At the height of the last Atkins fad, I spotted an endcap display of honey proudly labled “SUCROSE FREE”.

            I mean, *technically*…

            1. I do buy at least one brand (because I like the flavor best) that include remarks like “Gluten free, as always,” which always entertains me a bit.

                1. Oh, how could I forget GMO? I love suggesting to my idiot friends that they seek out research labs that might just possibly have a strain of something resembling the “wheat” and “corn” that existed before humans began altering their genes via selective breeding.

          2. My favorite is still carbon-free sugar. Wouldn’t removing the Carbon from C6H12O6 just end up as water?

                1. E-fecking-gad
                  Paying a penance is not making that “Carbon Free”.
                  I know they changed how they harvest the cane and rarely burn the fields(I was traveling all over cane area when the choppers came about) but still.

                2. Much like the inverse… whenever my inner chemist sees “organic” I feel an urge to so label a can of motor oil, or perhaps a lump of coal.

          3. On a similar point, my wife was highly amused by the “Organic” label on… wait for it… a package of Himalayan salt. Salt is about the only thing we consume as food that’s actually inorganic. Everything else we eat has carbon in it somewhere, but not sodium chloride.

            1. “Organic” was one of my late Father’s pet peeves. “All Natural” is mine. Arsenic is natural. Botulism is natural. For humans, crouching naked in the rainforest while picking parasites off of our relatives and plotting against the Alpha so we can take his females is natural.

              You can bloody well KEEP “natural “

              1. I have made similar comments to my idiot children without result. What do they teach them in these schools? They probably don’t believe in Narnia either.

              2. Not to mention that they keep trying to buy things without chemicals in them. You know, like dihydrogen monoxide.

        2. LOL! That’s true — I’ve seen stuff like that. Seems like I saw a carton of eggs labeled gluten-free one time! (And then there are the eggs labeled vegetarian…as if even caged chickens won’t eat flies if they can catch them, or peck their cage-mates.)

              1. I don’t know. Son started making jokes about it, just before loudly complaining that the all natural m&M knockoff didn’t have brown m & m’s and was therefore “Racist” and denouncing something else as homophobic.
                This is know as “the day I learned son is not allowed to go with me to Whole Foods.” (At the time the only place locally to buy sugar free flaked coconut, which was the ONLY reason I was there.)
                I thought we’d be pursued out the door by the sort of woman who braids their underarm hair.

                1. I heard about that particular dad, and honestly I’m kind of okay with it.

                  Mostly because it serves as a great red flag, or at least a yellow one.

                2. The absence of brown “M & M”s is probably an effort to avoid cultural appropriation, although that ought preclude yellow and red “m & m”s as well.

                  The correct response to such observed exclusion is, of course, a strongly worded letter to the store management (cc: The Nation, Rachel Madcow and the NY Slimes) demanding an end to “m & m” apartheid. Raising a fuss in the store is inconsiderate of their wage slaves who doubtless have no say in corporate policy.

            1. I understand the bafflement. I lean toward an artisanally-crafted free-range hair brush, myself.

          1. Organic, Gluten Free, Free Range, Vegetarian, Eggs is my favorite.
            Something there HAS to be a lie, or like “Certified Black Angus” there is a standard most people will say “That’s not right!” to.

          1. WARNING: CONTAINS NUTS seen on package of… peanuts.


            Ingredients: peanuts, salt.

            Contains: peanut.

            Manufactured in a plant that processes tree nuts.

            No kidding. I’d hate to meet the person that *needs* these labels.

            1. Tree nuts and peanuts are not the same, as my nephews’ half sister is allergic to cashews (and likely other tree nuts), but not peanuts. She wasn’t fond of peanuts or peanut butter but tried one cashew and within minutes was turning blue. Luckily her mom is a nurse, and they were within a few miles of a decent emergency room that listened as she ran in telling them what was going on.
              She isn’t hyper sensitive, but any peanut butter, if they were to buy it, with the warning tree nuts were in the same facility, would not be the brand that got picked.
              But peanut butter that has to warn you it contains peanuts? Yeah. G.W. Carver weeps

              1. Cashew and pistachio allergy can be an urushiol thing. So also watch out for poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, mango sap and unripe skins, etc.

                OTOH, if she has problems with almonds, walnuts, etc., that would be the tree nut part.

              2. My middle daughter and a niece both are deathly allergic to tree nuts (all of them, as far as I know, except that coconuts evidently are safe), but not allergic to peanuts. I’ve been fine with tree nuts up until recently, when I began to discover that they caused severe gut pain (a new development). I do not like peanuts or peanut butter, but it doesn’t seem to cause any problems like the tree nuts do.

                1. they have never been an issue for me, either, but was warned off after my first enjoyable episode of kidney stones.
                  As that was one of the things I had upped intake of since moving up here, I decided to go back to the “on occasion” partaking.

                2. Cashews started doing that to me in smaller and smaller quantities. Then I discovered that if I chew them buggers up to an absolute pulp before swallowing I can have as many as I want without even getting gas.

            2. At college, I remember one time when they put the little sign that says “Contains nuts” in front of a bowl of walnuts.

              And before you say, “Well, it’s a liability thing, they have to put it in front of everything,” they were distinctly not good about putting the little sign in front of things like the plate of chocolate chip cookies where it wasn’t obvious if they contained nuts or not…

            3. There’s a song in there somewhere…

              Some folks eat peanuts,
              And gobble up the tree nuts,
              They act just like the monkeys at the Zoo.

              And some eat peanuts,
              Or try a couple tree nuts,
              And turn a most alarming shade of blue.

              I don’t need peanuts,
              Or Q-R-S or T-nuts,
              I get along without them, yes I do.

              For I can be nuts,
              Without the pea- or tree nuts,
              ‘Cause sweetheart, I am nuts about you.

            4. The person that “needs” these labels is the attorney for the company that makes them, the next time somebody with AOC’s level of brainpower hurts herself and goes looking for a deep-pockets defendant to blame.

      3. And we’re so happy that the gluten free fad/trend is staying around. $SPOUSE is allergic to it (celiac runs in her family), and I developed an intolerance (cue the Monty Python line about “sluicing at both ends”) that’s incredibly painful before it gets to the sluicing point. No, nope, not going to do it. There are now so many products available; it’s nice to find something I can eat on the road. I’ll get GF bagels from Trader Joes and bring one down to the breakfast buffet at the hotel when I’m doing a medical trip.

        Progresso soups have some that are gluten free, though we’ve seen some types where gluten-containing and GF cans were intermixed. So far, their clam chowder, lentil and chicken + wild rice are consistently gluten free, with (I think) Hearty Tomato and a beef/vegetable one also. (I really don’t care for the beef/veggie soup, so pass on it.) With Progresso, though, I check every can to be sure.

      4. OK, thinking of the “gluten free” labeling fad for things that should never have gluten in them in the first place: HOW much gluten does it really take to cause a problem? Are things like Oatmeal, that might be SLIGHTLY contaminated with something that contains gluten, really a potential source of trouble?

        I ask because I’ve seen some products point out that their [product with grain that has no gluten] is specially processed so that it doesn’t get contaminated.

        1. I think it’s like peanuts and some other things — you have varying levels of sensitivity, but I think people here have posted about not even being able to walk down the bread aisle without a reaction.

          I’m ashamed now of some youthful frustrations with being asked to avoid foods that were a problem for people I was eating with.

          1. Yeah, $SPOUSE is one of them. I can handle bread smells, but she can’t, and if anything wheat is baking, she can’t breathe. (The church we went to had a monthly potluck, and rolls or whatever would be baking for the service. When the minister decided that it would be a great idea to move the day’s service to the fellowship hall, (and couldn’t be talked out of it), $SPOUSE had to be a no-show until he relented.)

            She gets a bit of a reaction to ordinary oats. Trader Joes sells GF oats (grown far away from wheat fields, and processed separately from wheat products) that she’ll use for cookies, and on occasion, oatmeal.

            I don’t have a problem with *tiny* amounts of gluten, but discovered that the house sauces at the taqueria were *sometimes* made with wheat flour. Didn’t get the full reaction, but having a seriously upset stomach for a few days was a good reason to stay away from them. Bottled sauces, OK.

          1. $SPOUSE tells me there *are* baking powders with wheat starch in them. She uses Clabber Girl, since it’s guaranteed not to.

            1. I just checked the label, and corn starch is the first (largest) ingredient in Clabber Girl. I don’t know the other brands any more.

    2. If you don’t care for how slimy turnip greens or spinach get when you cook them, try collard greens. They stay firmer, even crunchy. They’re fairly inexpensive, and if you grow a garden you can get much more collards that you’ll be able to eat with just one or two plants. You can find good recipes for them on the internet (ask Sarah for a caldo verde recipe or two; I can also provide a Brazilian sopa de fuba recipe).

      1. I hear other things are really eager to eat them, though. My in-laws’ neighbor who grows them is… not an organic farmer, let’s go with that.

        1. This year, my wife and I bought a 6-pack of collard sets at Lowes (or Walmart, or somewhere) and planted them in the garden. The darned things grew to be 3-4 feet wide, and had so darned many greens that I was filling grocery bags and trying to give them away after church, every Sunday, and serving something collard-based to any and every visitor we had. We gardened organically, in that we stuck the things in the ground and never did anything more to them than occasionally watering them when it got dry, so eventually the bugs did get at them pretty badly. Frankly, we were a little relieved–it meant we didn’t have to feel so bad about not being able to use all the vegetables we were getting. 🙂

          1. I thought zucchini was bad (one zucchini can feed India), til I planted four spaghetti squash, under the widely-published delusion that each vine produces 4 or 5 squash.

            I gave away 130 squash (some the size of watermelons) and lost another 30 or so to being forgotten in the shed when it froze… in total, about 500 pounds worth!!

        1. Talk to the butcher in your grocery store. Sometimes they will give you the fish heads/bones free especially if you buy other stuff. Makes a nice stock.

          1. if I was looking for fish (not a big fish eater) I’d just walk a few blocks to the river and go toss a line. Seen some vera big walleye caught from the bridge and shore.

    3. radio show host (in jest) was going to sell gluten free gluten. and send small empty jars

    4. I hear you on the lentils. I have a very protein heavy stew we learned to make in Germany; different kinds of sausages, pork and beef stew cuts, 5 different kinds of beans, and lentils, lots of onions, salt, pepper. Cook on low for eight hours. We call it linsensuppe but when I looked up recipes it looks nothing like the linsensuppe my parents were showed to make!

      1. Don’t make it often. Expensive (and for some reason 🙂 it *hates me). Heavy protein stew, contents: Baby carrots, potatoes (any kind), chopped onions, in bottom layer. Add about 1 cup of water. Add Elk or Beef stew meat. Add chopped hot sausage links. Layer on top pork ribs. Grind up hot pepper with 1/2 cup of water (seed removal before grinding is according to taste, didn’t first time, did not make that mistake again). Pour over meat. Top ribs with more spicy honey barbecue sauce. Put cast iron Dutch Oven in campfire coals, with some coals on lid (electric Crock Pots work too). Let cook all day, adding water as needed to keep liquid from getting too thick. Potatoes, depending on type will melt, to somewhat melt, into a gravy. Before serving, remove bones of ribs (meat will have slid off).

        First time made was Spring Camporee, Adult cooking competition. Won 2 Dutch Ovens. The name – “Honey Bucket Stew” (note: One of the local kybo/outhouse providers, at the time used “honey bucket”.) Came about because they guys didn’t plan on what meat went into it. Just brought from home what was available.

        I don’t make it with wild game, as we don’t typically have it. Works great also to cook, eat, freeze, and reheat. Actually cooked a batch, froze it, then hubby brought it in to catch up on a backpacking trip. Reheated (it thawed by then) for entire group (well patrols reheated their own portions).

        * I don’t do well with hard hot & spicy.

        1. I think in the six years I’ve been in Australia, I’ve made it a grand total of twice, both in winter, where the warmth would be welcome. The beans had disintegrated into the broth, thickening it, so I didn’t get many complaints about lentils. I tried putting lentils in a soup once, to help up the protein in it and that got left behind a lot.

          The recipe you gave sounds intriguing. I don’t do well with hot and spicy often; just a touch of heat and flavor is enough for me. I made the mistake once with the seeds. Never again!

          I prefer meat with bones that you cook for a long time in soups and stews; you get a richer flavor. I take the time to get the bones out. (That’s the cheapest thing I can get here too; soup bones.)

          My bigger thing is coming up with food for the hot months coming. If it was just me, I’d be fine with cold cuts, cheese and buttered bread most of the time, but I have a teenaged boy who has a black hole for a stomach craving meat and more filling things (and might end up taller than his dad…)

          Ah well. Adjust as I go.

          1. Ahh. The teen boy see food diet.

            Two stories.

            Our son. He and dad went on a council contingent, with 3 other adults, and 7 other scouts to Philmont Ranch in Arizona. Kid was (still is somewhat) a very picky eater. So, they get off the 10 day backpacking trip, dad calls to check in. Usual questions and answers. Then we get to the food, and how was it? Implying … how’d the picky eater do? Dad’s response “It was awful.” I’m thinking oh, no. Dad went on “The camp provides supposedly enough food between sections for groups to be able to trade with other groups they encounter. Our group had very little food left over to trade/share. Kid couldn’t get enough to eat. He ate everything. He is the ONLY one who gained weight on a 100 mile 10 day backpacking trip.” He’d started on the see food diet; and grew 3 inches (I swear). Food they had was very high caloric. Youth ages range (for all treks) 14 to 20. Their group was 14 to 18, with our son 2 years younger than the next oldest. During this phase I’d wait to buy pants for him for school until I couldn’t put it off (well into late September, early October), get them too long, and he’d still out grow the length by Christmas … I grew up with sisters. This was news to me. Came as a shock to grandma (my mom) too; she was married and out of the house by the time her little brother hit this phase.

            Husband. There is, or used to be, an all you can eat called the Rusty Inn in Bend, in the ’60s. His folks had property there they’d come up to during the summer. When husband was 13 or so, his brother 18, the family went to the restaurant for lunch/early dinner. The family was asked to leave, not because of behavior or wasted food, but because the two boys were eating, and eating, and eating, and … you get the picture.

            1. *sighs* They don’t have eat all you can buffets here. We didn’t get a chance to go to one in the Philippines the last time we were there. I would totally bring son to one of those.

              I was something of a bottomless pit myself when I was a teen, but goodness knows where it went, because I didn’t grow tall or gain weight. Even after so many pregnancies my chest isn’t huge either… *helpless shrug*

  7. It’s interesting to me! We are also a two-person family; I need to eat at least somewhat low-carb, while Juniper is at the bottom of her desirable weight-range, so I’m trying to get her up a few more pounds (because when she has a lupus flare, she refuses to eat and loses a bunch of weight quickly, so she’s got to keep a cushion). We are also still eating mostly on the auto-immune protocol, though I’ve been slowly reintroducing some things (and finding a few things that we can’t reintroduce). And most days I’m doing intermittent fasting, although it isn’t really recommended for people with auto-immune diseases. I’ll give Juniper some fresh fruit for breakfast, to hold her over until later when I cook a real meal. That’s usually between ten and noon; we’ll have a snack later, too.

    I have been working on a monthly grocery list to try to keep us on a tighter food budget. Unfortunately, all the stuff that is cheapest (rice, pasta, dry beans and so on) is also stuff we can only eat limited amounts of.

    Frozen vegetables have some big advantages. Because they are processed immediately after they are picked, they may have retained more nutrition than the ‘fresh’ produce at the grocery store. There is also usually no waste at all, which means that even if they are a little more expensive initially than fresh, the amount that is actually usable probably costs about the same either way. And there’s little to no prep time involved, which is helpful when my back is bad (as it often is). So we use a lot of frozen veggies. I prefer canned green beans over the frozen ones, but we keep spinach, kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts on hand, and usually have some frozen okra, too. We like our carrots best fresh and I just buy the bags of baby carrots because Juniper will eat those like candy. It’s not the cheapest way to buy carrots, but if she’ll eat them, it’s worth a little extra cost.

    I was using Walmart’s website yesterday when I was working on the monthly grocery list, and I think I’m going to have to start ordering some of our food through the website. You can get packs of multiples for a lot less that way. As long as it’s stuff that will keep, you can buy enough to last for quite a while, and save a little. For instance, black tea, 100 bags in a box, package of three boxes, came to three cents per bag. I’ll re-use those tea bags at least once, sometimes twice. One of those packages of three boxes would last the two of us for a year or more (and yes, the tea keeps, well enough for my tastes, anyway, though it might be a good idea to put most of it in air-tight containers in the freezer in this climate).

  8. Yes, I’d be interested in your techniques/thoughts/recipes. I do most of our cooking (for my wife and myself), and avoid carbs, so cooking for two late-middle-aged people is definitely of interest.

  9. Big chunk of beef, cheap cut, cooked in crock pot with potatoes, carrots, and onions, yields a fine dinner. Then sliced for sandwiches for several lunches. Last bits along with more veggies and a good bit of broth makes enough stew for several more meals.
    One of those store brand spiral sliced hams, weeks of dinners and sandwiches, chunks added to potato soup, bits added to scrambled eggs. The meaty bone cooked with a pot of beans.
    Boneless pork chops generally run at least three bucks a pound. A whole pork loin can often be found on sale for a buck a pound which you then slice into boneless pork chops yourself.
    Whole turkeys yield a bunch of flavorful meat for dinners, sandwiches, and so on. Boil the bones and skin long and slow to extract a turkey broth useful in soups and gravies.

    1. We found Costco to be useful. Boneless/skinless chicken breasts come in 10 pound bags, though sizes of the breasts have been getting large. You have to search for it, but they have 5 pound bags of hamburger meat (separated into 1 pound chubs). Costco does other varieties of chicken cuts, both raw and precooked. I assume Sams does the same (none in Oregon, so I don’t know).

      Because we’re a no-sales tax state (so far!), we can shop at the restaurant supply. We don’t need 50 pounds of pinto beans for ourselves, but we can use 50 pounds of white rice. We can’t use a 50 pound box of baker potatoes, but we can use half of them. Stuff like dried onion and garlic can be picked up in gallon containers.

      We’ve been getting deli turkey (unsliced) after we found a gluten-free variety (don’t laugh, most have gluten somewhere in them, perhaps in a sauce or rub) and slice that for dinners. Kroger has been doing periodic buy-one-get-one-free sales on pork roasts. These do well for pulled pork as well as the roast.

      Generally, except for our weekly pizza, our dinners are prepared with multiple servings and the extras frozen. Usually it’s three dinners per entree, though in some cases it’s a lot more (we’ll cook 20 hamburgers at a time, and that’s 10 weeks).

      1. I read something on potatoes a few years ago (in Smithsonian magazine, while waiting for my wife to get through physical theraly sessions), about the origins, and how the South American farmers use them. I haven’t tried it, but according to the article, the farmers will take potatoes and let them freeze in winter, then thaw them and squeeze out the water, leaving a semi-dehydrated potato that stores well.

    2. Oh, yes – whole tenderloins at Costco, cut into chops and roasts!
      And yes – whole fresh turkeys the week after Thanksgiving. So much cheap goodness there!

      1. Hmm. There’s a Costco deal running where you get a membership along with some coupons that make up a good bit of the cost of it…. Y’all are making it sound tempting.

        1. We used to get a lot of basic foods from Costco, but the usual store has been going upscale. When they dropped SunMaid raisins for free-range cruelty-free organic raisins, it was a clue. Their green tea price went through the roof when they went to a different supplier.

          OTOH, they are good for meats. We use country ribs, and lately, Costco has them at a good price. (Cook in water to cover, boil for IIRC 40 minutes. Once that’s done, drain and grill. I do 6.5 minutes on a side on the Weber.) Also, sausages and cheeses.

          The precooked chickens are sold at $5.00 each. We’ll get a couple each trip. Pork loin and various beef.

          For us, we found some alternative stores have been a better choice for our needs. Kroger has been doing BOGO sales occasionally for pork shoulder roasts, and we’ll use one for pulled pork and roast the other. We haven’t been able to find the Adell’s sausages at Costco, so we’re getting them locally (pizza toppings…)

          Oh yeah, they changed to a “green” no-propellant cooking spray. The old red cans are now green, and they work as well as one might expect. $SPOUSE isn’t quite swearing, but it’s the last we’ll get from them. (The emulsifier in the oil doesn’t stay suspended, and the effort to shake it sufficiently wants an industrial paint mixer.)

          On the gripping hand, it’s worth checking out. Produce is usually good, and the fresh/frozen products are a good selection.

          1. We love Costco Rubbed Ribs. The small size is dinner for 3 (with baked potato), plus left overs. Meat falls off the ribs just cooking the the way Costco puts it on the label.

            Also love the bake goods that come out of the onsite bakery, at least at our local Costco; very fresh and freeze. Cake frosting isn’t sickly sweet like you get out of a lot of bakeries; tho it has been awhile since we’ve gotten one.

            Mostly we get items there that we can get other places locally, but Costco is slightly less expensive, and item is something that in bulk storage won’t spoil, or we use it fast enough that doesn’t matter. Also get our prescriptions at Costco. Prescription coverage through insurance is lousy; very small maximum. Costco has a program for those without prescription insurance that is essentially their cost. Sign the paperwork. When we started hubby’s insurance copay for 3 x 30 day was 60% more than Costco’s no insurance 90 day supply. Savings for mine isn’t that stark, but there is some.

            1. Haven’t tried their ribs, though I’ve checked the labels a few times. The last time I looked, they were celiac-safe, but before that, they’ve had wheat in the rub/sauce. Occasionally, they’ll have cooked ribs at the chicken counter; I’ve been tempted when over for a hotel stay, but that’s a serious BBQ overdose. 🙂

              I get my prescriptions through Bi-Mart. They’ve ended their old discount plan, but if you don’t have prescription insurance, you end up on the replacement for MODA (the Oregon Med plan). If it’s in the plan (most generics are), it’s $11 for 90 pills. I have a couple 2 X per day, so one three-prescription refill costs $55 for each round. It’s also handy, like when I needed an antibiotic in Medford; the Bi-Mart there was able to fill the prescription.

              Exotic/expensive stuff (had a post-op glaucoma med that was $300 a 5 ml bottle) has to be next-day ordered, and is not covered on the discount program. No surprise, not generic.

              1. Post glaucoma op medication $300/5 ml … blink, blink, oh dear.

                My current glaucoma drops are $20.19/5 ml … Hopefully will be on Medicare before glaucoma surgeries. We do have prescription coverage, it is just crappy. Hubby is off the Costco discounted side with medicare and the prescription coverage. I’m not. Between the glaucoma and rosacea gel my meds are running $230 a year out of pocket (only because the gel is $99.99/tube), with no help. Hubby’s 4 meds run, out of pocket $210, with insurance & medicare paying; dropped $50/year from before.

                1. Postop eye medications can get a little (or a lot) steep in price. With the two rounds of day surgery (at a hospital in Ashland), the meds were provided at the time of the surgery and were included in the Medicare/Medigap coverage. Refills, and later prescriptions not so much, and I elected not to go with Part D. The doc couldn’t/couldn’t prescribe the glaucoma med at the time–I think it’s not commonly used.

                  The glaucoma medicine is (I believe) intended for extreme cases. My eyes are “steroid sensitive”, in that with a sufficiently strong steroid (Prednisolone), the intraocular pressure spiked to dangerous levels. Combigan (the expensive crud) combines one common med with another one less common. That makes it really expensive. It’s also not stocked at the pharmacy level, and takes a day or two to get it from the wholesaler.

                  There are milder steroids, which were used for the cornea work. That wasn’t bad. I was also using Prolensa, a NSAID, but that was almost as expensive as the Combigan.

                  1. Unfortunately. I suspect I’ll find out someday. I’ve been under treatment now for just over two years. My sisters are being monitored as they have the marker in their eye pictures too, but their eye pressures haven’t risen. OTOH they are on blood pressure meds. I’m not.

                    1. No idea if blood pressure medications interact with eye pressure. On the steroid drop, the other eye had normal pressures, but that’s going to be different from real Glaucoma.

        2. PK – my wife and I joined Costco when we found out that the $$$ we saved on our glasses more than made up the cost of the membership. (Her prescription is complex and hence wicked expensive most places; I got bifocals, bifocal sunglasses, and computer “reading” glasses for less than the cost of 2 pr. @ the ophthalmologists.)

          Also, their gasolene is usually $0.10-0.25 a gallon cheaper than any other station in the area.

          1. My prescription isn’t that complicated, yet I paid, total, what my deductible would have been anywhere else in town, for the same frames, and more features. Then when turned into the insurance, they paid 75% of the total cost (they won’t pay for photo sensitive lens).

            Costco Gas runs $.08 to $.11 less than Fred Meyers (Krogers) or Arco (cash). Fred Meyers I can get discounted any one month $.30 to $1.00 per gallon. To be fair, only during the summer when double fuel points* are available during the summer do we approach the $1.00/gal discount. But that is one fill up per month, then the discount is gone and has to build up again.

            * Fuel points = 1% of store purchases, except double fuel point days (weekends generally July weekends Fri – Sun).

            1. We buy Home-Depot (or JoAnn) gift cards at Freddys whenever there’s a relevant project. Those usually run 2X fuel points, or 4X on special days. I think we have a 70 cent discount for the next fillup.

              Since Depot trips are common, I usually have a loaded gift card on hand, and $SPOUSE does the same with the JoAnn card. We’ve had times when we went over the $1.00 per gallon discount, and used them later. Being able to carry the points from Month X to Month X+1 is handy.

              FWIW, both of us had good luck with WalMart for eyeglasses. I tried single-vision safety glasses a couple years ago, and they were incredibly inexpensive. OTOH, I always had the wrong glasses, so went to bifocals, except for a special midrange focus pair for shop computer and some machining work.

  10. The hubby and I are always interested in new recipes.

    For eggs, our Walmart sells 60 for under $4–$3.73 right now. The box is sealed so you can’t check for broken eggs, but we’ve only had that happen once. They last for weeks in the fridge and a year or so if cracked and frozen as mentioned in the post, so why not buy in bulk?

  11. Here in east Tennessee, we buy 10 lb. bags of chicken thighs and legs for $6.90. We freeze the bag immediately, and pull out what we need to cook, for thawing, a day before cooking. We can usually find pork loins for $1.99/lb, and get them sliced into chops for free at the meat counter.

    Fresh veggies always, as we go to the grocery maybe twice a week. We do buy peas and corn frozen, but only use them somewhat sparingly in vegetable mixes.

    Oh, one more tip: If you like collards, the leaves attached to kohlrabi are basically the same thing. If you use kohlrabi, don’t throw out the leaves, use them. Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, brussel sprouts, collards, kale, and maybe a few others I forget are genetically the same plant, just different varieties specialized for specific features.

  12. For the eggs, get muffin tins. Mix up a batch of eggs plus additives like bacon bits, veggies, and cheese—whatever you’d like in an omelette. Pour those into the muffin tins and bake (quick tip: if you don’t know what temperature to bake something at, it’s usually 350º) until they’re cooked through, THEN freeze them in bags. You can pop them in the microwave for quick breakfast.

  13. One more tip–if you use spices a lot, try to buy them in a Mexican market. You’ll find the same spices you can get in a mainstream grocery store, usually at wildly lower prices.

    1. You might ask around, though. Sometimes the herbs and spices in MexiMarts are not quite as advertised. (Friend had a bad experience. Short version: a native wild plant was mixed in with the Mexican oregano. Wild plant is toxic.)

    2. The restaurant supply stocks up on Mexican spices near May 5th. I have a large quantity of cumin I’m working through, and we’ve bought paprika that way.

  14. Time crunched, diet limited, and budget conscious is why I started the sporadic “Feeding the Active Writer” feature over on my blog. It was originally intended to be a weekly recipe but, well, after a while I just wasn’t coming up with that many new recipes so it’s now as the mood strikes.

    Currently a big staple for me is riced cauliflower. Run a head or two through the grating blade on the food processor and store in the refrigerator in a plastic container. Scoop some out and top with sauces, chilis, stews, or make into “fried rice”, all sorts of things. Or I can just add some seasoning and have it by itself. You can leave it raw for a bit of “crunch” or cook it (nuking with some water, for instance) to soften it. It adds bulk to the meal without adding a lot of net carbs and what you have with it. And what I serve it with gives the meal some variety.

  15. Years ago, a friend pointed out that beef was actually cheaper than chicken, once you accounted for the inedible portions.
    This may not be true now, but it’s a reminder to stop and recalculate every so often.

    1. Often the least expensive beef I can find is an eight-pound box of frozen hamburger patties (which is also convenient, so win-win). The price is about the same as boneless, skinless chicken (which I seldom buy). The legs and thighs in a ten-pound back for $6.90 is still the cheapest meat I can buy, even allowing for the bones.

      1. Yeah, legs and thighs are good; so are the 10-lb boxes of frozen leg quarters. I bought a couple of those for a banquet serving 60, and used them to make the chicken noodle soup. At the time, they were 49¢ a pound. The technique I used for par-cooking them left me with a couple of gallons of concentrated chicken broth, which went into the soup.
        Then, roasting the bones and simmering them in water yielded more broth. So I got my money’s worth out of the boxes of dead bird parts.

        In other adventures, I’ve bought flank steak, chuck, and other cheap cuts. The chuck and brisket, depending on which is cheaper at the time. is good for braising, so I’ll use it in pot roast. In fact, at the same banquet, I used chuck for a big batch of pot roast, five pounds of meat seasoned with a little salt and pepper, and braised in one bottle of Guinness.

        I had a budget of $6 per person, and came in under budget, including vegetables, salad bar, and dessert.

    2. If you’ve a farmer that raises cattle locally, I’ve known one or two to slaughter once a year and give free beef in exchange for hands to help with the quartering. Darn cheap way to fill a freezer. Local fellow is getting on in years and doesn’t mind. Arthritis, y’know. Keeps him and the missus in beef for the grandkids with a lot less effort.

    3. Not when Sam’s Club sells fresh boneless/skinless chicken breasts for $1.79/lb. There’s almost no waste on those (just that one tiny piece of tendon/gristle). They’re in ~ 5.5 – 8 lb packs so I have to bag & freeze most of them unless I’m making Chicken Parmigiana for the local extended family.

  16. This is a subject I am somewhat of an expert on, as well as the mass freezer meal production. Cooking small, however, is a skill set I don’t have or need at this time. I could do a guest post on cooking for a mob or freezer meals for a mob if you like.

    If someone has a burning desire for something like ramen but better for you, boil up whole wheat spaghetti noodles, drain partly, drop in a cube of frozen reduced stock, frozen veggies, and season to taste. It’s the “I ended up with ramen as a comfort food but don’t eat white flour or that much salt” substitute, and very tasty.

  17. Yes, please! I’m very interested in your how-to and your recipes, especially low-carb. We are two late middle-aged folk, who need to really watch out for carbs. Thanks!

    1. Sooper Mexicans vid on eating cheap was pretty funny
      Especially the examples the leftoids gave that he used.

      Though I would have made it all at once and did a reheat on it the rest of the week.

    2. *chuckle* I remember that one. There’s poor, and there’s just plain stupid. And an ocean of difference there is between the two, at least.

        1. Well… I can’t boast that I’ve never said or done something stupid in my life. But still. That would be a new low. *chuckle*

        2. Oh, dear ghod … there was a brief time in the early 1980s when I was living in base housing at Mather AFB – my food budget was $25 every two weeks. For myself and a toddler who had most of her meals during the week at the child care center. I don’t think that any meat protein costing over a dollar a pound crossed my threshold. Homemade bread, home-brewed yogurt, home-made applesauce for the kidlet… yeah, I’d finish out the end of the pay period with about .25 in my pocket and a dollar in the bank account…

      1. I think that case turned out to be less poor stupidity, and more rich stupidity or malice. The context was absurd rich people assertions about minimum budgets for feeding mouths in poverty.

        I vaguely recall that one of the rich people writing the columns was the one whose girlfriend got that gaming convention to uninvite Larry. Might be wrong on that. If I am correct, that perhaps argues that the original column was not written in good faith.

        1. I disagree. I think that person has been poor ever since Mummy & Daddy stopped paying the bills.

          Oh, he’s had plenty of money; his poverty is of a different sort.

          1. I wasn’t even referring to something like that. I’m referring to American Poor.

            The guy in the article Larry was fisking was talking about how the cost of entry into cooking at home is too expensive for poor people, because of all the essential items you need. Then goes on to list more stuff than lots of people who do just fine cooking at home don’t have.

  18. I like seeing how others do their meal prep and what meals are their favorite. I think if you add some anecdotes and life lessons with your food blogs, it could be informative and entertaining. Like a Portuguese Justin Wilson! “OOOWEE! I tell you what!”

  19. I think it would be enjoyable if you added anecdotes and life lessons to your food blogs. It could be entertaining and informative. You could be the Portuguese version of Justin Wilson. “OOOWEE! I tell you what!”

  20. My least expensive source of meat is turkey thighs. Put two to four of them in a Dutch oven, cover them with decent quality water, and boil them for around four hours, till the meat starts to fall off the bone. Then you have about one meal for two for each turkey thigh. The meat has a hearty flavor; we use it in a dish we call “turkey pot roast.” And save the broth! After you’ve done about three or four cycles of cooking turkey thighs in reused broth, you have a richer flavor than you’ll ever get out of bouillon cubes. . . .

    (A little ground pepper and a single bay leaf are good additives to bring out the flavor.)

    1. Save the broth?

      I don’t doubt the flavorful effect you describe, but it’s very difficult for me not to just eat the broth.

      1. (a) I’m not that big a fan of broth by itself; I like stuff in it.

        (b) C isn’t a big fan of soup in general, and I want to use it to make a meal for both of us.

        (c) The cumulative flavor effect is more than worth a little delayed gratification. And the flavor isn’t all that rich after just one set of turkey thighs. What’s hard for me is not just eating the turkey thighs. . . .

        1. All excellent reasoning, and I have on occasion cooked more chicken in the leftover broth when there was any, which was very nice — I just usually do eat all or most of it with the original meat.

    2. > Dutch oven

      I’ve been considering buying one of those. “Dutch oven” seems to be a pretty loose term in the utensil marketing world; mostly I see plain steel pots sold as Dutch ovens, with the cast iron types being quite expensive.

        1. Yes. 🙂 FWIW. True cast iron Dutch Ovens are never washed with soap. Should be seasoned before first usage, and after cleaning. Cleaning is wiping it out of all food. Depending on what was cooked in it might mean scrubbing it out so all remaining food is out, rinse with water. Then put at least 1/2 full, or more, of water, then boil the water in the Dutch Oven. Scrub with the boiled water. Re-season with a light layer of cooking oil before storing.

          The more seasoned a cast iron Dutch Oven is, the better the food cooked in it (so I’ve heard … um, not that brave …)

          1. When it comes to cast iron (Dutch ovens and other wise) if you have particularly stubborn gunk to remove coarse ground kosher salt is a reasonable abrasive that won’t strip the seasoning, or at least not all of it. At most another round of seasoning will get you back in operation.

            Indeed, one of the things I like about cast iron is its durability and recoverability. Unlike teflon which, in my experience, no matter how careful you are about not using metal utensils and other care issues, it will sooner rather than later lose a lot of its non-stick character. Cast iron? Short of actually breaking it, at absolute worst case you scrub with abrasive down to the bare metal and then re-season. It’ll last if not forever than the next thing to it.

            1. We always used salt & a paper towel for scouring our woks.

              After use:

              0 – Rinse with HOT water

              0 – Heat briefly on burner to dry

              0 – Sprinkle interior with salt and rub with folded paper towel to remove cooking residue

              0 – With fresh paper towel, lightly wipe surface with cooking oil to coat against oxidation

              If the cooking pan is regularly used it is probably not necessary to re-coat with oil against next use. Light use of a plastic scrubbie in the rinse stage is an option.

              1. Most Dutch Oven usage we’ve been involved in was on scout outings. Thus they got used once a month, at most. If monthly outing was scout camp, or backpacking, then it could be months between usage.

                Our personal ones have not been used in years. Can’t use them on my stove (could use in oven, but bigger than what I need and I have other tools). Can’t use them camping, generally. Won’t fit in RV oven. Fires whether wood or coal aren’t normally an option when & where we go. Storage in the RV also a problem.

                    1. I keep eyeing the Lodge combo cooker — three-quart/10″ deep skillet with a shallower frying pan/griddle fit to it as a lid, advertised to work as a dutch oven. I don’t camp, but the handle not fitting in a less-than-full-size stove is something I shall have to give further consideration.

                      Only thing is, I seem to be bad at cast iron. Letting the smaller one I’ve got rust — that was my fault but also relatively simple to avoid repeating. But my efforts to scour down and reseason have never quite satisfied me, and I’m never sure if I’ve actually got it clean… and I’m not totally sure whether the deficiency is all in me or if Lodge’s textured-not-smooth design is partly responsible. So for now, I’m not trying.

                    2. “Only thing is, I seem to be bad at cast iron. Letting the smaller one I’ve got rust — that was my fault but also relatively simple to avoid repeating.”

                      Guilty of that too. Was given hand-me-down and never taught how to care for it. It has since been cleaned up. That is in the trailer. Works great on gas stove top, or using to fry up on cook fire when we can have one.With just the two of us the two bigger dutch ovens don’t make sense anymore. Probably should just give them to someone who dutch oven cooks for a hobby, and get something smaller that we can actually use. But good dutch oven options are expensive. If I had a gas stove at home, it’d be different. They would fit in my electric (convection option) oven at home and now that my crock pot croaked, they’d work instead of replacing, even with the legs being a PIA with the racks. But won’t work on the top (glass top).

                      Using the self cleaning oven option …. hmmm.

                  1. > clean

                    Well, modern ideas on that are a bit different than centuries ago, but you have to consider that once any unwanted bacteria or food particles have been turned into Burnt Crunchy Bits, there’s nothing actually harmful there any more…

                    1. The thing is, if I can’t get them all *off*, then they get into the next food and vice versa, and I wind up with more stuck places.

            2. Now cast iron goes to thrift stores, but it doesn’t sit there long, no matter how bad of shape it is. Used to be it was the most valuable portion of an estate and was explicitly mentioned in wills. I thought we’d find a few when we cleaned out grandma and grandpa’s place in 2005. Nope. She’d gotten rid of them (that or her second daughter *absconded with them in years past … they would have been just stashed somewhere, not in use. They had to have at least one cast iron dutch oven, with handle, and I remember one cast iron kettle. They lived in a (tiny) cabin with pot belly stove, and fireplace. That is where she had to cook. This was in Montana, and a long time ago.

              * Probably with permission, cleaned them up and sold them on ebay for grandma.

              1. That’s likely to get worse; my parents just replaced their cooktop with an induction range. They are having to pull all their Revereware (some of it that’s been in use since their wedding 65+ years ago) because it won’t heat on the new range.

                1. We discussed getting a gas range replacement. Plus bite the bullet and replace the water heater with a gas on demand one. But the cost to run the gas to the stove (most the difference), and the water heater, would be Expensive (capital E on purpose). Plus, gas venting for each is a problem. Wasn’t really thinking about using the dutch oven on the glass top induction, didn’t with old coil electric, not with dutch oven with legs. OTOH the new stove doesn’t have coils in the bottom so I could pull the racks, put the dutch oven in the bottom and use the convection feature, safely. I’m not having any problems with the older pots not working on the glass top heating up. The skillets that curl on the edges aren’t as good, but they work fine. Some of our skillets are 40 years old.

          2. I clean my cast iron by throwing it in the oven and turning on the self clean function

  21. I use low carb pancake mix like Birchbenders, Carbquick or a mix of them as breading on sliced chicken breasts and zucchini slices. I ‘rake’ skin of the zukes with a fork to make the batter stick better after an egg dip. Processed vegetable oils like ‘canola’ (marketing name for rapeseed oil) are bad for you. Trust me. I use peanut oil and use it three of four times before discarding or using in other recipes. No fancy frier needed – I just use a pot on the stove but never more than half way full. More ideas another time…

    1. Sorry, you’ll have to do a lot more than just telling me to convince me that canola oil is bad for you.

      Note that the reason it’s called “Canola” oil and not “rapeseed oil” is NOT specifically because of the bad association of the name, it’s because the variety of plant used for canola oil was developed so that the oil would not be toxic (which original rapeseed oil is), therefore it needed a new name.

      1. It’s one thing you don’t want to use much past the sell by date, as as it oxidizes it starts to get toxic again. The alkaloids that make rapeseed toxic are still present in canola. All they did was breed them down to safe levels, and apparently age affects that.

        I can tell you though, that old stuff seems to be working just fine on my hand tools.

  22. My mother was determined that I should not leave her household without having some basic cooking under my belt. Consequently, I could fix her spaghetti sauce (with meat and red wine), do two basic casseroles, and bake a sheet cake before I entered high school. I had learned to read a recipe, and quickly developed a sense of when a recipe was going to go wrong for me. Figuring how to prevent that took longer.

    One thing I picked up from her was a good working definition of a ‘basic’ cookbook;

    If it assumes you kn ow how to scramble eggs, it isn’t basic enough.

    1. Heh. ‘Twas my grandmother who sat me down and said something to the effect of,

      “Grandson of mine, you are entirely too stubborn and ornery to get married young. You are going to have to look after yourself. You will learn how to cook if it kills me.”

      Spoiler alert: She didn’t die. *chuckle*

      Grandma’s lessons in cooking started with “this is a spoon,” and ended with. “and this is how you prepare a four course meal using a fireplace, a pan, and a spoon. It’s easier if you have a full kitchen.” Those lessons helped pay for college that I wouldn’t have needed, had the internet been more of a thing back then…

    2. My children are not leaving the household without them knowing how to household, regardless of their having balls or breasts. My husband occasionally teases that it was probably his fault, having traumatized me with his small saucepan and frying pan when son and I came to live with him for six months for the military to recognize us as a household, which was fine and dandy for a single person living by himself, but I couldn’t cook a stew in.

      1. Mom and both grandmothers tried. Not their fault I’m an indifferent cook at best. Most the time, I’d rather do clean up rather than cook … most the time, if a cook is a sloppy cook, then not so much. When I cook, other than after dinner dishes, eaten on, and used for dishing up food, everything else has been cleaned as I go, or already in dishwasher. Except for holiday meals, it is: Prep. Throw in oven, or crock pot, or simmer on stove. Clean up prep stuff. Yell dinner is ready. Clean up & done.

        1. I’ve gotten son into cooking enough that he criticizes recipes they do in the odd occasional home rec thing class they have in school. They get EVERYTHING set out for them, told to mix and make. That’s it. He complains that he can’t improve the taste or ‘fix the whole thing, it’s so bad.’

          So I have a food-hold at least, on one child. The other one is good with housecleaning, but I think if I can get her to at least learn to stock up on easily heatable foods, she’ll survive.

          Harder to do things with a baby who’s teething right now and clingy and wanting cuddles. I keep reminding myself it’ll pass, and enjoy the cuddles.

          1. Yes. Enjoy the cuddles. As you know. They grow up way too fast. I told my mom that I’d ask how to slow down the littles growing up too fast, but then I realized she failed 3 times. Every parent who is doing their job fails at preventing littles from growing up, even if it feels like it is too fast. So enjoy cuddles while they last.

            1. I STILL tell my older children ‘Go back to being a baby, for a few hours, go on, I want to be able to cuddle you on my lap again and snuggle my babies.’ Of course, they know this is a joke and I just miss the times they were small…

  23. Fifty pounds of beans, 50 pounds of rice… those go a long, long way when poor (and carb tolerant). Between rice and beans, you get enough complete proteins that you don’t need the meat for avoiding malnutrition. Meat, being expensive, goes into sauce or gravy to be a flavourant, along with vegetables, to stretch it out.

    Also, soups. Soups are a wonderful way to be filling, flavourful, and cheap while using very little meat, and bulking with beans and veggies.

    Stir-fry; it’s a wonderful way to turn ends and pieces and bits and bobs into a complete, full meal.

    I tended toward more can heavy than frozen, because there’s only so much room in a freezer. Canned tomatoes (diced, stewed, flame roasted, paste) are a staple of many dishes. Also, with increasing income, I can save hours and increase variety by moving from dried beans in bulk to canned. Canned mushrooms, too, because the fresh mushrooms go off far too quickly, and can be a whole lot more expensive. We also keep some canned soups, because say what you will about Campbell’s cream-of and chicken soup, when you’re sick and exhausted, it’s almost an insta-meal, for a whole lot less than delivered pizza.

    When it comes to lower carb, stir-fry without rice. You can use diced cauliflower to imitate rice, or you can just stir-fry stuff together and pile it up with lots of veggies – especially with cabbage; it’s a cheap pile of shredded vitamin-C rich veggie.

    1. Canned tomatoes are a darn good base for a lot of stuff. Stews, stir fry, cassarole, pasta, you name it. I have a *big* freezer, so I’ve a lot more room to freeze things… But canning doesn’t go bad if the power is out for an extended period.

      I also get #10 cans of some staples just in case. Things like potato flakes, whole egg powder and the like last practically forever, and can go a long way to supplementing the flour, salt baking soda and spices.

      A can of frozen blueberries can go a long way to making bland breakfasts tastier (and not just the same old protein mash). A good trail mix is some form of dried meat/jerky, nuts, and berries for a bit of sweetness. Lasts pretty good in a hot pickup cab while you are working, too.

      1. We dehydrate excess tomatoes from the greenhouse. Combined with a can of tomato sauce, it makes for a richer chicken and sauce (frozen chicken breasts thawed and cooked in the sauce), and the excess sauce makes a great hearty tomato soup.

      2. Various outfits sell frozen fruit in multi-pound resealable bags. Costco is one, and there are other regional suppliers.(I was surprised to see that the company that sells Flav-R-Pac in the PacNW is in Chapter 11 reorganization/bankruptcy. I hope it works out OK, they’re a good source.)

        $SPOUSE picked up a couple bags of marion-blackberries on sale, cheaper than strawberries. Yum!

    2. Pinto beans are good for low carb – they have a lot of carbs, but a LOT of those are dietary fiber, so come off the total carb count, leaving a moderate amount.

  24. try this
    16 oz of rontini noodles
    16 0z of sour cream
    2 cans of beefy mushroom soup
    Boil and drain noodles, stir in soup, stir in sour cream, serve
    feeds four
    cost at or about 8 bucks
    cooking time is less than 15 minutes

    1. Yeah, I’ve seen similar done as simple as, bag of egg noodles, cooked and drained, then add can of cream of chicken (or mushroom) soup. Maybe just a bit of milk to thin out the soup.

      1. No, you added a can of soup full of milk to it. Also some shredded dried beef. (You may want to rinse off some of the beef’s salt first.)

        Then you put it in the oven for 30 minutes or so.

        Dried beef casserole.

    1. I shouldn’t laugh, but AOC said she didn’t react to the woman yelling that because she experiences worse on a NYC subway. I thought, “People eat something worse than babies on the subway? Or do they just cook tgem wrong?”

      1. What? You never watched C.H.U.D.?

        (a complete gross-out when it premiered; now, not even PG-13…)

  25. As an elderly I’ve been doing the cooking for two for many, many years. I found long ago I should could for six, set dinner for two and have frozen dinners for two more days, whenever. I am diabetic and have been for years.
    I adjust my insulin to what my blood sugar is and what I plan to eat. If I don’t get red meat frequently I crave it. I spent most of my life being anemic, but am now stable with my blood count.

    As for the carbs, I recently had pancreatitis, which means I have to watch my protein levels, too much protein is bad. So I was on a high carb, bland diet for about two months. That is so boring I lost weight. Well, it was only high carb because bland is high carb. Pasta, pasta with cheese, bla, bla bla.

    Anyway, to get to YOUR point. I would love some dinner suggestions. We have been married for 61 years, I am so tired of deciding what to cook, too tired to cook many days, so some suggestions and recipes from you would be great.
    Thanks for the offer. Ruth H

  26. I used to take chicken thighs, cook them and cut them up, freeze them, and throw them into a bowl with frozen mixed vegetables. When time came to prepare ramen, throw a handful of chicken and vegetables in the pan (didnt have a microwave). Hey, it got me thru a couple years…

  27. Oh, ghod yes, a vacuum-freezer! We do a once-a-month trip to an old-style meat market about half an hour drive from our house, spend $40-50 each on their wonderful meats and sausages, then I break it all down and package in one-meal-for-two portions, sealed and in the garage freezer. We’re set for the month, and probably more than that for to bring our freezer stock down to absolute-empty…
    Yes, to eggs. And cheese in blocks from Sam’s or Costco. And the big bags of frozen veg. That and job-lots of pasta and rice from the local Middle-east grocery…

    1. We have an absolutely bugnuts bargain grocery store near us. I go there every couple of months to see what kind of fascinating stuff they want to throw at me (the 8-dollar capon got my attention). Good stuff gets savored, mediocre stuff gets processed to be put in stir fry/casserole/soup/whatever.

    2. Are you going to the meat market in Marion? We used to go there when one of my sons had a ranch between Wimberley and Blanco, Their peppered bacon is wonderful. The meat isn’t bad either. We don’t go that way anymore since the ranch was sold.

  28. When things are tight, we have Chicken Gack*, as follows:

    A poundish of bits-of-chicken (ground, cubed, left over from Sunday’s roast…) plus
    Two cans of spiced tomatoes (or plain tomatoes if you have sufficient spices) plus
    Two cans of condensed Cream of Soup (any flavor except celery)

    Mix the above three ingredients in a big bowl to create Gack.
    Lay half the Gack in a casserole dish. Top with cheese and a layer of tortillas. Repeat until you are out of Gack. (Or out of cheese. Or out of tortillas.) Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. It’s filling as heck, especially if you sneak in some onions or black beans. I generally get 8 adult-size servings out of this and don’t need a side.

    My go-to meal planning in the summer is 1) buy and roast a chicken for a good weekend dinner; 2) use most of the chicken bits for casserole, salad or Gack; 3) use remaining bits plus the carcass for soup.

    *except in November and December, when the menu tends toward Turkey Gack

    1. Count me among the opposed to this being a Saturday thing.

      Make it a Friday thing, or a Wednesday thing and take Saturday off to be with Dan, or clean house or go to the zoo or even to walk in the park. Or just to sit quietly and softly sing ”Love to eat them mousies,/Mousies what I love to eat./Bite they little heads off . . ./Nibble on they tiny feet.”

  29. Got home from fencing this afternoon.
    Half a carton linguini, and half a carton of fettuccine (no idea why there was half a carton of each in the cupboard.) Started the water boiling for the pasta and dumped the fettuccine in and set the timer for when to put the linguini in (they take different amounts of time to cook.)
    Took out 2 dozen large frozen shrimp, olive oil, marsala wine, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper and a large onion.
    Large skillet with the oil and seasoning heating up. Slivered the onion and tossed it and the shrimp in to cook down on low.
    Tossed in the linguini.
    When the pasta was done, took it off and drained it, then took the shrimp off.
    I’m a bit weird, so I took all the shrimp out and pulled the tails off, and threw the shrimp back in.
    Take a serving of pasta, and then dump a cup of the shrimp and onions on it. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

    1. As several here have mentioned Parmesan cheese, I trust none are unaware that the Kraft stuff is available in bulk, enough to refill the standard dispenser bought at the grocery about ten times, sold at Sam’s and likely Costco.

      For those who prefer the real thing, well, you pays for what you want but keep in mind that Parmesan is that which is made in a specific neighborhood and comparable cheeses costing rather less can be found, especially if you become friends with a good cheese counter clerk.

  30. Yes on vacuum sealer.
    Yes on Pressure cooker (I bought an Instantpot and I like it way better than my buddies knock off)

    “only gets up to 165” Anyone remember The Accidental Tourist? Cook the turkey at 140º overnight to keep it moist? Hysterical.

    For recipes, including Instantpot, check out my recipe blog, An Egg Without Salt over at

    1. A pressure cooker will do wonders for tough cuts of beef. And it’s *fast*. Sometimes that’s the difference between a decent meal and “oh, sandwiches again…”

      My wife’s cousin’s uncle’s next-door neighbor’s workmate (or someone equally specific) had some undefined bad experience with a pressure cooker in the 1960s, or maybe the 1950s, therefore she hated them. Until I showed her how fast it could cook a turkey breast…

      1. MomRed is leery of pressure cookers since one blew up in her mother’s kitchen in the 19coughcough’s. The pressure relief valve… didn’t.

        1. Modern ones, the “valve” is a loose weight sitting atop a spigot. You have to be careful not to lose it.

          They depend on gravity, not springs.

    2. I do have a knockoff and it’s pretty good. I whimpered a bit when the Instant Pot proper went on a spectacular sale a few months later, but then I considered that I had gotten several uses out of the other already. And restrained myself from buying a few as backup/possible future gifts that would end up gathering dust for too long.

  31. Sous Vide – Buy one of the wand types (NOT A BATTERY TYPE) that you can put in any pot.
    Get a big pot or container that will stand 200 degrees F. Put the wand in it fill as per directions. Put what you want to cook in a Ziploc bag or Vacuum sealer bag. Put bag in water with Sous Vide set to the temp you select. I have been using 140 and cooking chicken breast, one per bag. You can put veg or anything else in the bag. I’ve cooked oat groats and barley.

    WHY, do this. Because it doesn’t matter how long you let it cook. 12, 24, 36 hours no big deal. The chicken or other meat will actually be more tender. It will always be moist because its temp NEVER went over 140 F or whatever other temp you set. When you want, just take the bag from the water and put in freezer. By in bulk cook, freeze, eat for a LONG time and eat GOOD. Moist tender and absolutely no worry about overcooking.
    No worry about undercooking or overcooking, cook in the spices, marinade you want.

    It may not be fast, but it could not be easier. Get the simpler, with a cord. Those are cheaper and better.

    And best yet, there is almost NO clean up. The Sous Vide might have some scale on it, nothing else. The pot or whatever you use has just had hot water in it, nothing really to clean. What could be better??

  32. I would very much like to see this. I’m single, 60ish, don’t eat much, and disabled which means broke.

  33. I know this will sound weird, but after our second vacuum sealer broke, I really studied a 1950’s book I found at a book sale called something like “the Home Freezer”. Saying what the heck, I bought specialty freezer paper and tape. I then followed the steps for wrapping meat after buying a large pack. I was shocked. There was no freezer burn even after months. Has to be wrapped tight with the shiny side to the meat and kept dry, but other than that, way cheaper and handles weird shapes.

  34. (1) Yes, please. One never knows enough sneaky tricks, especially in the kitchen.

    (2) My own contribution: Save time, trouble, and money by controlling your
    “back end” waste–leftovers. The obvious way is to incorporate them in a future dish, e.g. leftover veg finds it way into soup or stew. The tricky way is to train yourself in portion control during food preparation. I’ve learned to make only enough salad for two servings, which avoids waste and allows some nicer ingredients.

    1. I recall my breakthrough from “somebody able to follow a recipe” to an actual cook came about when a cookbook recipe for Fried Rice opened by saying they really hate giving recipes for Fried Rice. The way they see it, the dish is all about looking in the refrigerator, spotting what leftovers are available and working from there.

      Slice some onion, a little sliced bacon, julienne some carrot and possibly celery, scramble an egg to be folded in later, saute some garlic and ginger, blend, add rice, egg, toss with soy sauce and rice wine vinegar and heat through. Serve, thank G-d and eat.

  35. My diet would probably horrify a trained dietician, but I eat well for US$30 a week. That’s probably because as a widower I only prepare the amount I actually want to eat for each meal. So when I indulge in a supermarket ready meal I habitually split a 400 to 450 gram meal into two portions and freeze one for another day, though I do tend to add extras – some potato to a macaroni cheese, for instance – and I rarely have a pudding after the actual meal. And home cooking means that my 500 grams of minced beef goes with veggies into four meals. Tonight I’m having sliced roast beef from the supemarket chiller, with roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding, brussels sprouts and peas, all from the frozen aisle, gravy from a quality granule bottle, ready-made horseradish sauce, and no pudding. And I shall enjoy it without feeling stuffed afterwards.

  36. This would be a great series. I describe my style of cooking as hearty peasant food. We eat a lot of dishes that feature various beans: cheap, filling, and healthy.

    1. I cannot help but notice many here seem to consider beans an essential dietary element.

      One more reason to eschew elevators at cons.

  37. Yes to interest. Also we went down to two older a few years ago. Switched biggest meal to lunch. For evening I make one plate we thin sliced meats cheeses olives pickles small veg with mustard or some sauce in a little thing. It suffices can be switched up (gluten free crackers) and is fun to look for things to use ( pickled okra was surprisingly good)

  38. Here’s a fast soup
    canned tomato juice (big can, 48 oz. or two, depends on how much one wants to make)
    ground beef, or pork, or chicken or turkey for meat (for faster making use frozen diced chicken etc)
    bullion or broth if you wish. or water
    shredded veggies or diced or chopped very very small (mom used a grater for hers, I’ve used a food processor both chopped and a shredder attachment, for ultra fast prep, get a bag of coleslaw and hashbrowns)

    the trick is to have the veggies so small, they cook fast,
    Brown meat, drain fat if there is any. Deglaze pot and add juice, veggies and broth or water, bring to a boil. season to taste.
    Mine for this week’s lunches and some suppers is the fast version. I had diced chicken and for variety, added a bag of stir fry veggies to the slaw, I had chicken broth and used a bit of Old Bay

    This was my Great Grandmother’s method to cook fast suppers.
    ground beef, shredded veggies, and tomato juice was something mom made when we didn’t have a ton of money and she was feeding 6 of us.
    I was out in the yard all day, didn’t get to shopping until late so food for the week needed to be cooked fast. By getting stuff on sale, or the store brands, it is about $14 for two week’s worth of lunches and a few suppers for me, with some frozen for later meals or starting other soups/stews.

  39. What I do for saving money on ground beef:

    Find store with large pack ground beef (my local GFS store often has 10lb chub packs), on sale if possible.
    Divide pack into single-meal portions (I use 2lb portions for us).
    Find the correct size ziploc storage bag (1 gal. for 2lbs, either sandwich or quart size for 1lb).
    Put portion into bottom of bag, then mash it into the bottom corners first, to get the air out there, then mash it upwards from the bottom, until you have a thin, flat package that you can zip shut with almost no air.

    This produces a stackable, quick-freezing, quick-thawing, pre-portioned package, usually for considerably less than buying it a pound at a time.

    1. I do the same with the Costco hamburger that is broken into many parts; in theory for very large hamburger patty amount. Same per pound cost as the bulk. Take the individual and wrap them in the plastic seal wrap. Stack those into 2 gallon freezer Ziploc bags. Depending on what I’m making for how many, I pull out 2 or 3 wrapped, and use. I’ll also take this and pre make hamburger patties (2 sections for 3 hamburger patties), wrap them, and freeze for cooking later (saves me from having to make hamburger patties out of low fat prior frozen hamburger). Will do the same for bulk boneless chicken. Idea is to make 1 person portions then pull out for the number of people serving.

      Leftovers around here generally do not get eaten. There is a few: Pizza, Chile (not premade canned), Costco Ribs, Taco/Tortilla meat & beans. These because our kid/housemate works nights so he’ll come home and use leftovers. Beef & Chicken left overs are reserved for high value training treats for my dog.

      We eat either fresh or frozen vegetables or fruit. Very little canned of either. I won’t touch stewed or canned tomatoes or creamed corn, don’t care what the source.

      Yes. It was interesting with the kid trying to get him to try new things. Both dad and I are very, very, particular about what we eat. I have a very small list of what I make.

      Growing up it was meat, potatoes, and home grown fresh or canned vegetables. As long as the potatoes were in 10# bags and the meat was wild game: deer, elk, trout, salmon, occasionally mutton, or beef. Latter because great-Uncle raised sheep & mom’s sister raised beef. Maybe true now that wild game & fish, for most, is more expensive than getting at a store. For my folks and extended family, then, no. You know those freshman 15# the average person gains? I lost 15#’s because I couldn’t tolerate the fat, salt, or sugar, content, hidden in dorm food. Still can’t. For all that I’m overweight (now). Once I was out of the dorm, it was what I could raid from home, or egg & cheese sandwiches.

  40. Many of you are very lucky. You can eat chicken! If I was to try most of these cheap mrals I’d be rushed to hospital very soon afterwards. And can you guess what is so often featured on hospital meal trays because it’s ‘healthy and nourishing’? In my latest hospital stay I was offered nothing I could safely eat except lukewarm toast (and butter if I was lucky) for four days. I lost 3 kilos in those 4 days. The medics always ask if one has any allergies, but only for prescription drug purposes – they never tell the food caterers!

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