By Julie Norman
Monday, February 9, 2015
When I was at the store this past Saturday I remembered Valentine's Day was only a week away and I still had items to pick up! I searched the clearance bin for some good Open Nature filet mignons, but the ones I found looked too fatty. So I wandered over to the regular Open Nature beef section and discovered 2 perfect sized New York Strip steaks for a total of $10! I was pretty pleased with that deal so I threw those in the cart. Then I noticed my favorite yellow 50% off sticker looming nearby. I looked over and found grass-fed butcher's cut ground beef (93% lean) 50% off! I hardly ever buy ground beef, but I couldn't pass up that deal.
So let's recap: so far we have 1 lb of large, raw ez peel shrimp for $7.50 and 2 NY Strips for $10 total.
I've got lettuce, lemon and croutons for a caesar salad (about $5).
Dessert? I splurged on Breyer's Lactose Free vanilla but scored a BOGO deal on the Safeway brand of cool whip in a can. I also bought some Smucker's "Simply Natural" salted caramel topping. We have roasted almonds at home that I thought would add a great topping too. So dessert was around $10.
I do still want to get another vegetable, but I'm thinking maybe just some nice baked potatoes would be great with our surf and turf. I've got those at home already too. Let's assume a 5lb bag of potatoes (about $2.99) contains 8 potatoes. That makes these .74 cents total.
So far then on Valentine's Day dinner I've spent: $33.25. I'm pretty sure that unless you take your Valentine out to Taco Bell (not that there's anything wrong with that) you'll be hard pressed to spend less!
By Julie Norman
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Yes, I realize Valentine's day is still 11 days away, but it's never too early to start prepping! We never go out on Valentine's. To us, a great meal together at home is just as special. I try to "fancy it up" a little bit but at the same time I don't want to do so much that I end up tired and sweaty byt the time dinner is ready. This year we decided on a simple menu:
Surf n Turf (surf being whatever seafood I found on sale and turf being a splurge on grass-fed filet mignons)
Some sort of roasted vegetable
A dessert of double-caramel sundaes (caramel ice cream topped with caramel sauce, nuts and whipped cream)
Today while I was at Safeway I decided to check out the seafood and lo and behold I found Waterfront Bistro shrimp on sale! I got a 2lb bag of large, raw shrimp for $15 (regularly $23). Later I realized they weren't wild caught, but still...what a great deal! We'll have plenty for Valentine's Day AND another meal, which is even better.
So Valentine's Day doesn't have to cost a fortune. In face today I saw all sorts of great beef options in the clearance bin: 50% off flat iron steak, steaks and roasts, and even lamb chops! Shrimp like those I got would feed a whole family if you added them to pasta and made a big batch of shrimp fettucini alfredo. That along with a side of asparagus or roasted broccoli would make a lovely meal.
In the end, isn't it really about celebrating with the ones you love anyway?
By Julie Norman
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
We all know that one of the ways I save money at the grocery store is by using Safeway's "Just for U" personalized deals program. In conjunction with their digital coupons and in-store sale items, I can save usually 15% of my grocery bill. The Just for U personalized deals sometimes aren't for things I'm buying anymore, but often I can save on produce, which I really appreciate. Today I got an email with my annual Just for U savings report:
So that means that just with the personalized deals portion of Safeway's ways to save, I saved $12 a month. It might not seem like much, but in the days of "every little bit helps" that money adds up! Just yesterday I was able to find 2 tuna steaks and a large package of tilapia for fish tacos ALL 50% off! If you can't invest any other way, investing in food will often help you more than anything else.
By Julie Norman
Friday, January 23, 2015
The Frugal Girl sent out a 5 Frugal Things email today, so I thought I'd attempt a 5 Penny Pinches blog post for you.
1. I've been getting lots of free exercise lately AND saving on gas by taking run/walks on my lunch break down on our Riverfront Trail. It's about 1/4 mile from work, so I can get there, run/walk, and get back to work well within my lunch hour. The other day I saw this guy:
2. I made 2 loaves of King Arthur Back-of-the-Bag Oatmeal Bread last week. I did NOT use King Arthur flour because the store brand is less expensive and just as good!
3. For Christmas a friend got me the Thug Kitchen cookbook. If you aren't easily offended by explitives, check it out! The recipes end up being fairly inexpensive because they're all vegetarian. Most are actually vegan and gluten free. This week we had the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas.
(image from Amazon.com) Click the image to be taken to the Amazon page about it.
4. In making several recipes this week I've dug into the freezer for bags of frozen zucchini, butternut squash and tomatoes from last season's harvest. It's been great to use up some of those items in anticipation of an even better garden this year!
5. Speaking of the garden...we've started planning. Penny over at Let's Get Dirty, can prove that's a little bit cheaper (though time consuming) to have your own garden! For us I think that definitely proved true. I still buy lots of produce, but having peaches, plums, squash and other items on hand has been very helpful this year.
By Julie Norman
Friday, January 16, 2015
I've talked before about making my own stocks either from vegetable scraps or from chicken/turkey bones. It's way cheaper than buying stock at the store (hello, $2.50 a carton!) and it's better for you. Unfortunately, lately I've not been able to make enough stock to keep us supplied and so I've found myself buying more and more cartons of vegetable stock. Today, however, I saw this article by Mark Bittman about creating stocks from all sorts of things! These are quick "stocks" too, like 5-15 minute stocks, but they add flavor and that's really all that matters. I love the simplicity of the herb and garlic stock, the mushroom one, and even the prosciutto (ham at our house) and parmesan one. I still always have vegetable scraps in the freezer, so if I added those to a handful of parsley (which is very cheap) and garlic, I could create a nicely flavored stock for a soup base or even for cooking rice or beans, in 15 minutes or less!
I will definitely be utlizing Mark's ideas here and I hope you do to. To beef up these stocks, anytime you peel carrots or chop the ends off of onions, put those scraps in a zip top bag in your freezer. Add asparagus ends, mushroom bits, even garlic if you just used a whole clove for flavoring something and then plan to just toss it. Celery leaves are a great addition too, but don't add too many or they could make your broth bitter. Experiment! Good luck!