Every Day

It Was A Busy End Of The Week And Weekend

Hubby and I pulled the container of ham out of the freezer to try to use it up over the weekend. On Friday night he made fried ham and eggs for me and ham salad for himself for dinner. I had not had breakfast for dinner in a very long time.

This was the container of ham. We had used it for a couple of meals before I took this picture. The ham was purchased for $.99 a lb. at Aldi’s after Easter. It was already cooked so I just had to remove the ham from the bone. I have one more ham in the freezer that I will use later in the year.

I saved the bone too with a bit of meat on it to make homemade bean soup.

Then I soaked the beans in water overnight on Saturday. On Sunday I drained and rinsed the beans. I put the ham bone and beans in the crockpot along with some spices and water to cover all and cooked it all day. It was not quite done for dinner so I let it cook for another 3 hours.

When the soup was done, I took the rest of the ham off the bone and added it to the soup. I let it cool and then put it in two half gallon mason jars so that I could store it in the fridge.

We have had breakfasts with this ham, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches twice for dinner, and now tonight we will have soup. I think over the next couple of days that we will finish one jar of the soup. The other one I am going to freeze and eat the next time we have rainy days. I will freeze it in reusable individual soup containers that I use to freeze soup.

I can’t buy cold cuts for $.99 a lb. so all of this was a great bargain. I wanted to get some hams around Christmas but I did not have the freezer space. Finally after Easter I did. I also bought two corned beefs around St. Patrick’s Day. I am always happy to find hams and corned beef cheap because they are two of Hubby’s favorite meats. He could eat them for a week for every meal and be very happy.

Meat is so darn expensive these days that I am very happy when I can get it under $2.00 a lb. Hams at Easter and Christmas for $.99 a lb. Butterball turkeys at Thanksgiving for $.99 a lb. or generic for cheaper is the way to reduce your meat bill. You should be able to pick up cheap ground beef, hot dogs, and sausages this week for Memorial Day. I will be making sure that I have enough for the summer. I know I have enough of all except for hot dogs. I will be picking up a 3 lb. bag this week of Sahlen’s hot dogs for $10.99. They are made here in Buffalo and they are delicious.

The only other items I will buy this week are some corn on the cob at $ .39 an ear and some strawberries on BOGO. In another month we should have great local strawberries.

Hubby is at the dentist for his cleaning and check up. When he gets home, I will make some hash browns and fried ham for brunch.

Speaking of the dentist, I am furious with the staff. I had to cancel an appointment for Hubby a bit ago and I mentioned that our Dental Plan was due to be paid today for the next year and that Frank would pay it when he came in today. Then when I had my appointment a week or so ago, I mentioned that again to his receptionist and bookkeeper. Every year the premium goes up so I called the office last week to find out how much it would be. I was told that the dentist is not offering a plan for 2024. I was shocked and asked her why she didn’t mention that fact when I was in for my appointment. She said it was a recent decision. I said how recent and she said two weeks ago. I told her I asked each time and my appointment had been after they made the decision. What was the big secret? Crickets!

My dentist is to expensive that I don’t think I will be going back there. Hubby is there now and we will see how he feels about it. The only thing I ever have done is X-rays and cleanings for my bottom teeth because I have an upper denture.

When I went to have my medical tests done last week, I saw a sign at a local college that they are doing cleanings and X-rays for free. They must have a dental school there. I am going to try to get an appointment for October which is when I have to go again. This would save me $ 305. for the cleaning and about $200. for the X-rays.

Tomorrow or Wednesday I will do a post about how I am sick and tired of making everyone else rich except us. It will be interesting because I am going to make some big changes.

How are you saving on meat?

Every Day

Meat Stock Up, Etc.

Niagara Produce had extra large eggs on sale for $ 1.99 a dozen. Since I only had 2 dozen left in the refrigerator, I drove down there to get 2 dozen.

I figured while I was there, I would look for marked down meat. They had none. However they have a chalkboard in the butcher shop where they post all of their meat specials. I had looked at the ad before I went and determined that I needed none of the meat that was on sale. But when I checked the board, they had whole tenderloins on sale for $ 13.99 a lb. This deal had not been in the ad. That is a fantastic price for this area. So I had the butcher cut a whole one up into 1 and 1/2 inch filet mignon steaks. I also told him that I wanted the trimmings. The trimmings sometimes are very meaty and that meat I will use in a casserole or stew. Other times when they are not so meaty, I use them to make beef broth. The bag of trimmings are in the top left hand corner of the picture. The rest are the filets. I used my food saver to prepare them for the freezer. Hubby and I have been on the hunt for steaks for a few weeks. I am also keeping in mind that steaks will most likely go on sale around Memorial Day. However, I doubt that these tenderloins will get cheaper. But if they do, I will buy more.

These are Hubby and my favorite steaks to grill outside so I am happy to have a stash of them right now. It has been quite a while since we have had a filet. The total cost of the meat was $ 84.22. That is a hefty price for meat but I have been saving up my grocery budget money that I have not used for a number of months now. So when I can find a good sale, I have the money set aside to purchase some. We have other meats but not a lot of beef.

I have continued to work in the basement cleaning and pitching or donating anything that we no longer want. I am only able to work for a couple of hours a day before my back and hip bother me. So it is getting done slow but sure.

We had a thunderstorm come through here the other night. The wind was the worst that I have ever heard. Our power went out for a few minutes and then came back on. The next morning while I was in the basement, I heard a whirring sound when the sump pump was trying to come on. I asked Hubby to go down to the basement and check it. He agreed that the pump motor was not working. We were not panicking because we have a back up but you don’t want to use that for long. Hubby said he would think about what else could be wrong with it. So after pondering it for a while, he decided to check the breaker. The breaker had not gone off. But he turned it off and back on anyhow. Then he took the pump plug from the original outlet and plugged it into the external outlet that he and my son had installed a couple of years ago. The pump turned on. So Hubby then unplugged it and put it back in the original outlet and the pump turned on. Problem solved. The power surge did something to it but now it seems to be working. We are checking it every day. I am so glad that we didn’t call our plumbing guy. That would have cost a few hundred dollars.

Lastly, talking about money: We are doing everything that we can possibly do to save money around here. Our everyday expenses have gone up like yours have. Food, clothing, outside property care, medical, homeowner, and car insurances, gasoline, gas and electric bills, etc. have taken quite a hike the last couple of years. As long as the Fed keeps hiking interest rates and the government keeps spending money they do not have, we will see massive increases in everything. We went through this with President Carter and President Obama but this is the worst I have ever seen. So get prepared.

I will be showing every little thing and big thing that we are doing to save money. The problem is that there are only so many big things and so many little things. But it all adds up!

I now feel well enough to blog more frequently. What are you doing to save money in these recession times?

Every Day

Missed A Great Deal

I missed a great deal a few days ago. Why? Well, it wasn’t because I didn’t have the money or because I didn’t want to drive there.

Boneless skinless chicken breasts are one of our favorite meats. At $ 1.125 per lb., it is a deal that I would normally jump on. I haven’t seen a price like this since the 1990’s.

It was because my freezers were full and there was not an inch of space to put any meat let alone this deal. A full freezer is a good thing. But it still hurt just a little that I couldn’t pre-order this deal. Ouch!

However, I know that there will be other deals on poultry, beef, pork and fish. So when my freezers start getting down to the point that I can buy, I will be keeping my eyes open for the next good deal. 

I am always checking prices and putting the lowest one I see in my price book. That way I know a great deal in my area when I see it. Since the lowest price I had found on boneless chicken breasts out here was $ 1.48 lb, I knew that this deal was fantastic.

I have already checked my supermarket and online ads this week to see if there are any good deals. There are none so I will not being doing any shopping this week at all. If a deal pops up online that isn’t there now I will take a look at it. But we are so stocked on meat that it will be a long time before I have room to buy any meat deal. Perhaps by then, the shortage and limits will be over. 

I hope you are having a great weekend. We have the most beautiful weather. It is sunny and in the 60’s and low 70’s.

Have you guys seen a chicken deal this low anywhere? Have you gotten a great meat deal lately?

Every Day

How I Save on Protein, etc.

Last Friday, I happened to be near Top’s while running an errand. Somehow when I looked at the weekly ad, I missed the fact that they had top round, sirloin tip, eye round and bottom round roasts on sale for $ 2.99 a lb. This is a rock bottom price in my area. So I purchased a 5 and 1/2 lb. top round roast for $15.85. The top round roast was the more tender of the roasts that they were offering at that price.

We had a lot of beef in our freezer but I had no stew beef. Buying stew beef costs $6.99 a lb. at my store. So saving $4.00 a lb. was a no brainer. I trimmed the roast and ended up with 6 ziplocs of stew beef which will feed us two meals each. It only took a few minutes to cut it up and bag it. Knowing that I will use it up over the winter, I used the less expensive ziplocs rather than the food saver bags to package it up to put in the freezer.

By the time you add veggies to your stew meat and a gravy or sauce, these bags will be the perfect size for two dinners for us. Those dinners will cost us approximately $ 1.32 a meal or $.66 for each of us.

This is just one example of how I save on the protein we eat. Besides buying at rock bottom prices, I always ask myself “How can I do this cheaper?”.  

We try to eat one or two meatless meals a week where we get our protein from a different source like eggs, cheese, greens, or beans. We are eating more eggs on my diet than beans right now though.

I learned an important lesson from an old friend who I worked with when I was first married. That friend, ended up living down the street from me while we were raising our children. Sis, you know who I am referencing.

We would go shopping at the market together sometimes. Or I would be at her house getting the milk out of her fridge to put in my coffee and I would notice that she would have about 4 dozen eggs in there all of the time. Whenever we shopped together, she would buy eggs. She would pick up meat too but never more than a package or two.

I remember wondering why she bought so many eggs. She and I had the same size families. I knew that she didn’t bake a lot. I would never have more than a dozen or so eggs in my fridge. I was going to ask her but then it occurred to me that maybe they were having financial problems. So I left well enough alone. Eggs were really cheap back then.

Finally a few years later, as I kept noticing the eggs, I finally said to her: ” Have you taken up baking or do you make eggs for breakfast every morning for your family?  I have noticed that you buy a lot of eggs.”
She said, “Eggs are one of the cheapest proteins that I can buy for my family. We eat eggs for dinner at least 3 nights a week. Buying meat is so expensive so we only have that 4 times a week. I will make omelets or frittatas loaded with vegetables for dinner and my family loves them. By making those I also use up all of the fresh vegetables and don’t waste them. I will also make pancakes or waffles once in a while.”

All of our kids played soccer during those years and while I was wondering those mornings what to thaw that I could quickly make for dinner when we got home, she knew she would make eggs because it was cheap and easy. 

While I didn’t cook eggs regularly for dinner, it got me thinking about cooking meatless meals that had protein besides meat. Today I do cook eggs almost every morning for breakfast. However, if you had a small budget, you can easily make eggs for dinner today and save a bundle. Eggs are still cheap compared to meat. 

My friend could pinch a penny better than anyone I have ever known. I learned a number of things from her. 

Since I am on the subject of eggs, I have to tell you what I did this morning. I cooked 9 eggs in my pressure cooker. Kay was nice enough to tell me that you could do this in a comment last week. Thanks so much Kay. 

I measured the inside of my pressure cooker and purchased a rack to hold the eggs at Amazon

Sunday morning, I put a cup and half of water in and 9 eggs on the rack. I pressure cooked them on low pressure for 8 minutes. They were so perfect and so easy! And just like Kay told me, they peel really easy. I will never go back to waiting for water to boil on the stove and doing it that way. See, I do pay attention to your comments and I do learn something from people who read here all of the time. You never stop learning!  

Here is my breakfast and the reason I did the hard boiled eggs. I couldn’t wait to take the picture until after I tried some egg; so two pieces have already been devoured. 

Always feel free to leave a comment so that we can learn from each other. 

Every Day

Saving On Meat

We have heard many ways to save on meat. They run the gamut from buy on sale to buy at reduced price to buy in bulk when you see a rock bottom price.

But I have other ways to save on meat by just buying less. Don’t get me wrong, we love our meat here.  But none of us need more than a 3-4 oz. portion of meat at a meal. That gives us enough protein along with the cheese or vegetables that may be in or with a meal.

Some days we get those protein portions by making meatless meals. We love beans and rice or omelets. Breakfast for dinner is on our menu at least once a month.  Hubby will make scrambled eggs, omelets or scrambled egg burritos. We have a side of fruit or vegetables with those meals. 

I save a fortune in one year’s time by using beef crumbles. I cook up a large amount ground beef at a time. I use this meat masher to mash it into the smallest crumbles. Then I freeze it in half pound portions using my food saver. When I am making a skillet dish or casserole for us, I pull out one bag for it. Many times when we have lots of pasta, rice and or vegetables in that skillet dish it will last us two nights. 

Another way that I have learned to save is to dice meat into smaller dices. One time when we were visiting my son and his family, I noticed that my smart daughter- in – law diced her chicken into smaller pieces than I did for stir fry. I thought to my myself that is a great way to make the meat stretch further. I always chunked my meat much bigger than hers. Now I dice it smaller.  

I do the same with dicing pepperoni, ham, and turkey for salads or pasta dishes. You can dice your beef smaller for beef stew. Mine were always too big. 

Another thing I do is grind my own meat. My Top’s has sirloin tip steaks on sale for $ 3.99 a pound this week. It is the only grocery purchase that I am making this week. So when I went to the market this morning, there was only 1 in the case. I asked at the butcher shop and they said they would cut me 6 more steaks fresh. So I purchased about 5.57 lbs. of steak which was 7 steaks total. I paid a total of $22.23 for all of them. They are pictured up top.

We don’t like sirloin tip steak grilled so I grind it into ground sirloin. Today the ground sirloin is on sale for $ 4.99 a lb. so I only saved $1.00 a lb. But most of the time it is priced closer to $5.99 – $ 6.99 in my stores. I made all of the bags for my food saver from on sale cheap rolls that I had stockpiled. But I would repackage the meat even if I had purchased the $4.99 lb. ground sirloin. $1.00 a pound savings on ground sirloin is well worth my time. Those dollars add up over a year into many dollars.

Hubby helped with the grinding, using our Kitchen Aid grinder attachment while I cut up the steaks and trimmed the little bit of grizzle that was on them. I left a very little bit of fat on them to flavor the meat.  I think it tastes better especially for hamburgers.

I didn’t have time today to cook up the ground meat so I used the food saver to package it raw into the portions I wanted to freeze.

But first I weighed them on my kitchen scale after zeroing out the bowl that I put the ground meat in. 

Then I used the food saver to package them up. I ended up with seven 1/2 lb. packages for skillet or casserole dishes. One 2 lb. package because Hubby wants to make chili soon. One 3/4 lb. package for mini cupcake meatloaves. And lastly a one pound package wrapped in saran wrap that I stuck in my fridge for tomorrow night’s hamburger dinner. We grill 4 hamburgers outside. Any that don’t get eaten get crumbled up into the next night’s spaghetti sauce.

Yes if you do the math, we ended up with 7.25 lbs. of ground sirloin even though the meat price stickers showed 5.57 lbs. that I was charged for. The butcher obviously gave me extra because he didn’t trim them as well as he might of if they were individually packaged in the meat case. I took a tiny bit of grizzle off of them. Yes I used a bit of fat but not much. There is no way that those trimmings came to a 1/4 of a lb. So I ended up paying $ 22.23 for 7 lbs. of ground meat or $3.18 a pound. This happens a lot when I have the butcher cut something for me. So in the end, I saved $ 1.81 a pound!
Any time I need ground beef, turkey, chicken or pork, I look at the ground prices and all the other cuts of meat to see what is cheaper. I have ground sirloin tip steaks and roasts, chuck steak and roasts, round steaks, chicken thighs or breasts, whole chickens, the dark meat from turkeys, and turkey breasts so many times over the years. Besides saving money, the other advantage that is important to me is the fact that I know my equipment for grinding is super clean and so are my hands.

I realize that not everyone has a Kitchen Aid with a grinder attachment. But I have seen many hand grinders in thrift stores for a couple of dollars. They look like my Grandma’s old fashioned one that she used to attach to a chair and hold a bowl under it.

I would love to know your tips on saving on meat for your family’s meals. Please leave a comment and share with all of us.  

Every Day

Cutting The Grocery Bill

The most expensive grocery item that I buy is meat. Hence when I want to cut back on this bill, I look for great sales. One of those “WOW” sales was in my Sunday flyer this week. It also said that the quantity was limited and the sale started on Wednesday.

Since sales like this don’t last long in my markets, I made sure that I was at the store when it opened at 9AM. Many times I have missed out because the sale item is gone the first hour. There were about 12 people waiting in a line outside the store for it to open.  I hightailed it to where I knew the chickens would be. 

These were roasting chickens that were on sale at Aldi’s for $ .79 a lb. I got 6 of them for roasting in the autumn months. They should last us until turkeys go on sale in November.

I had 20 lbs. of chicken that I purchased early spring but it is now all gone. So I was waiting for a good price to stock up. I love the smell of chickens roasting in the oven. Since my oven is a convection oven they don’t take as long to roast as a regular gas oven.  So that saves me about 25% of the energy.

Plus there are only two of us and I can get 5 meals out of each of them especially if I make chicken rice soup.  We usually have a roast chicken dinner for the first meal. Then some kind of chicken casserole that will last us two days. Then if I make soup, we have that two nights and sometimes we have leftovers for lunch. That is why they call them “rubber chickens” because they stretch.   

I will be mentoring two people who have asked me to starting in September not individually but by blogging. Today’s advice is just a little sample. That way everyone can benefit from my advice. And since I don’t put ads up the advice is free of charge. Use what you can and pass over what you can’t.

One of the things I want to do is teach these people how to shop on the cheap by cooking from scratch. The main component of this is buying when things are at rock bottom prices. If you track when prices are at their lowest during the year, you will know what time of year to buy any item. Turkeys will hopefully be under a $1.00 per lb. this Thanksgiving season. These past two weeks I have seen my lowest prices on pork chops at $ 1.49 so I purchased 10 lbs.

This chicken has never been this low at $ .79 a lb. in my area. So if you need chicken and have an Aldi’s, stock up. You can do what I do by roasting it and making a # of meals. Or you can cut the roaster up into parts – breasts, legs, thighs, wings, and use the back meat and little bits left on the bone for soup. This is a whole lot cheaper than spending $1.99 a lb. for chicken breasts when they are on sale. 

BTW, my Top’s and my Dollar General already have their Halloween decorations and candy out and we are only half way through August. I find it kind of ridiculous! This and Christmas decorating get earlier every year. I am planning on staying out of the stores as much as possible. So I will just ignore all of it.

Tonight we are going to try the jarred Tikka Masala, with chicken and peppers, that I purchased to see if we even like it. It we do, I will make it from scratch and put it in our menu rotation. I will let you know what we think.

Till I post again, have a wonderful end of August!