Monday, October 5, 2009

Food: Savings knocked me flat

Last week was amazing in the food department. I joined a new website that is a really useful tool for finding local bargains while grocery shopping. It *is* a subscription site, but my first grocery savings on Tuesday paid for the tiny every-other-month fee five times over. It's called The Grocery Game, and if you'd like an invite, shoot me an email at tilandra(at)gmail(dot)com. I'll set you up, or you can go to the website at and sign up. Just please be kind enough to enter my email address as your referrer. I don't get much, just a free week of membership, but it would be nice if you did so.

ANYWAY... the savings. Thanks to the list, we found a couple of deals that were really worth tracking down a store we don't normally shop at. Two family packs (the limit) of ribeye steaks and ten one-pound packages of pasta (angel hair and fettucini, which we were out of). Original total was over $75, after sale price deduction.... $35! My husband just about had an apoplexy. The sale price on the meat was the real savings, but it didn't hurt that we only paid a dollar each for the pasta. Especially since we were out and I had a recent freezer full of meatballs, hah.

I ended up cooking one steak for dinner that night (to feed the three of us! Those things were huge) and froze the rest flat, then put in gallon zip freezer bags (more for the huge size, not the volume). The steak was tender, flavorful, and very satifying. The pasta is, of course, shelf stable.

We also found a wonderful deal on one-pound boxes of whole strawberries. We only got two, but I wish we had been able to get more. They were half the usual price, and so tasty. I ended up quartering them, macerating them in sugar, and making strawberry shortcake to go with the steak dinner. What we didn't use for the shortcake I packed into a quart freezer bag and froze it for later.

The new list was posted on Sunday morning. My husband has not done the shopping yet, but so far there are great deals on apples (I plan on getting 8-10 pounds and making apple sauce and apple butter), red grapes (possibly will be used for making jam), beef shoulder roasts, chicken leg quarters, and cake mixes of a certain well-known brand. The meat is half-price per pound, same with the fruits, and the cake mixes are 10/$10.

I plan on taking the beef and after I cut some up for stew, I plan on cooking and shredding the rest. It will then be packed in 2 cup portions into freezer bags and frozen. The chicken leg quarters (they come in ten pound bags at an unbelievable .59 cents per pound) I will divide in half (ish). Two one gallon bags I will put three in each and freeze as-is, or possibly in a marinade. The rest I will cook up, cool a bit, then de-bone and package the cooked meat in 2 cup portions into quart freezer bags. This works excellently for casseroles, Chicken ala King, and such. By pre-cooking, it saves space in my tiny over-fridge freezer, but I can still take advantage of the savings. I also save the broth from cooking the chicken, refrigerate overnight, and skim off the fat. I can then can this in a pressure canner, or freeze, depending on space limits.

Meanwhile, I will leave you with my "Cream of Soup" mix that I use for my sauce for Chicken ala King, to which I add the chicken and then serve over rice or biscuits.

Condensed Cream-of Soup Mix
Makes 9 batches, each batch equal to one can of soup.

You can substitue just about any herbs for the thyme and basil. To make a specific flavor of soup, add sauteed mushrooms, cooked chicken or beef, tomato sauce, sauteed celery, etc.

2 cups non-fat dry milk powder
2/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup chicken or beef bouillon granules (I use 1/4 cup of each to save having to make two batches of mix, but that's me)
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl and mix well with wire whisk to blend. Store in tightly closed container in a cool, dry place or freeze up to 4 months.

2. To use as a substitute for a can of condensed soup: Combine 1/2 cup mix with 1 1/4 cups water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened.

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