Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ category

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Member’s Cooking Lesson

January 17th, 2014
Mother Connie has a hodge podge of cookbooks and recipes; some of her food notions live in her head...

Mother Connie has a hodge podge of cookbooks and recipes; some of her food notions live in her head…

You all know by now that the mail you send makes Mother Connie’s heart go pitty-pat!  Today  a message from a Club Member came in that really piqued my curiosity!  Here is what Delaine wanted to share with all of us:

“With food-stamp allotments being so small, and being cut all the time, I know fully how every calorie counts and how to count every calorie.  For me, I am in a very uncomfortable situation that most people do not understand, and that is for some of us, hanging onto every pound we have is as difficult or more difficult than losing weight.  Please do not envy us.  It sounds wonderful, but it is more painful to try to gain weight than lose it, as I have done both.  I was obese until I got sick, and now I am on the other side of the scale of having to try to hang onto every pound, so trust me when I tell you I understand the dilemma.
In the meantime, getting as much nutrition from every food stamp penny is my goal, and even when I am off the social network, as I apparently will be over the next few months, I will still only have the same amount of money for food as I currently have in food allotments.  I have many helps and hints both for stretching food stamp money and using ‘food for cleaning.’ “
Delaine goes on to share how she ACCIDENTALLY learned to make syrup on the cheap:  ” It’s just like the pancake syrup that is 1 cup brown sugar to 6 oz of Dr. Pepper, and boiled down to syrup consistency.  Cheap and accidental, because I was not intending to make pancake syrup when I discovered that!”
SIDEBAR:  Mother Connie is no fan of soda pop but a cook’s gotta do what a cook’s gotta do!  Go with what you have on hand!   END SIDEBAR
Delaine goes on to share her preference for comfort food that won’t break the bank:
“1/2 package elbow macaroni

1  can black beans
1  can corn
2  small cans tomato sauce
Taco season mix – equal parts chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin and sugar.
2 – 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
The trick to this recipe is to brown the macaroni thoroughly.  It should look like “whole wheat” macaroni.  Drain and rinse the beans and corn and add to the macaroni along with 2 cans of tomato sauce and the spices.  Add 2 tomato cans of water, reduce to a simmer and wait for all the water to be absorbed.  You may need to add water if the macaroni is too stiff.
This goes well with a pan of corn bread.”
SIDEBAR:  Mother Connie strongly suggests you add a green salad or plate of raw veggies OR fruit  to this menu, if that’s  available.  END SIDEBAR
We greatly appreciate Delaine’s contribution to our Cooking Class! 
Those who are living on a dime, people who use public assistance for their food budgets and anyone who holds an EBT card for SNAP or WIC needs all the help they can garner.  If you use a food pantry, food commodities or any other form of public assistance you know that it’s a tough row to hoe.  We hope to help in that regard.
If you have not signed up for our little series of tips, we invite you to do so.  And keep those emails coming!  foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com
We remind you, also, that you are dearly loved.
The FTC wants you to know there are links on this page. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Food Stamps Cooking Clug: Egg Substitutes *Guest Post

January 16th, 2014

Oboy, kids!  We have a treat today! Lili, of Creative Savv, has agreed to share her ideas with us and her ideas are  always fantastic!  For those of you who are interested to learn how to cook and the joy of cooking/baking, she offers some really helpful tips.  Bless her, she has agreed to share the post she published on Wednesday.  After you read what she so graciously shared here, I hope you’ll find time to cruise over to her blog and give her a little love…,I’m sure she would appreciate the thought!


“Egg substitutes (and how do you know which ones will work in your recipe?)

Posted: 15 Jan 2014 04:11 AM PST

Last month, I was down to my very last 2 eggs. This makes cooking and baking from scratch difficult, but not impossible. I did a lot of research into different egg substitutes, and this is what I discovered.

There are several options to use for egg substitutes. Knowing which one to use is a matter of understanding the different functions that eggs fulfill in recipes, and what each substitute is capable of doing.

Basically, eggs have 3 functions, to add moisture, add leavening, and act as binding ingredients. In most recipes, eggs will fill a couple of these functions. For example, in cookie dough, eggs both bind the dough together, and they add leavening. In cakes and muffins, eggs add leavening and moisture. In meatballs, eggs serve as binding agents, but also can add moisture.

To give you an idea of why having just one all-purpose, egg substitute won’t give you the best results every time, here are examples of different substitutes and how they can and can’t work.

Some people use applesauce for an egg substitute. Applesauce will add moisture to muffins and quick breads, but it has no leavening power of it’s own. Some people use flax seed meal or soy flour, plus water. Both are great binding ingredients, but neither can leaven. Baking powder can leaven, but has no ability to add moisture, in fact it can dry out some baking.

After much confusion on the subject, I decided that I needed some basic guidelines.

So, here’s my list — the general functions of eggs and which substitutes work best.

In most recipes, the best results will come from doubling up on your substitutes (two substitutes from different categories, such as — add a moisture sub and a leavening sub for muffins, or, add a binding sub and a moisture sub for meatballs).

Adding moisture

To add moisture to a recipe, for each egg, you can substitute 

  • pureed fruit/veg like applesauce, pumpkin or banana (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup for each egg), or
  • yogurt (1/4 cup) or
  • silken tofu (1/4 cup) or
  • 1/4 cup of mayo

Examples of foods which rely on eggs for moisture include: meatballs, muffins, pancakes and cakes.

Adding leavening

To add leavening to a recipe, for each egg, add

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking powder (for cookies, 1/2 teaspoon is generally sufficient — but see the cookie recommendation below*, for muffins and quick breads 1 teaspoon worked better for me), or the equivalent substitute of baking soda and vinegar

Examples of foods which rely on eggs for leavening include: muffins, breads, pancakes, cakes, cookies

(In a 1-egg muffin recipe, you might substitute 1/4 cup of applesauce plus 1 teaspoon of baking powder. This would satisfy both the leavening power and moisture addition that eggs give to muffin batter.)

For cakes, you’ll have the best results if you use a 2-egg, or more, cake recipe, and only substitute baking powder for 1 of the eggs.

Adding a binder

To add a binding agent to recipes which normally call for eggs, for each egg, add

  • 1 heaping tablespoon soy flour, plus 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon of flax meal, plus 3 tablespoons of water
  • 1/4 cup silken tofu

Examples of foods needing a binder include: meat loaves and cookies.

Formula for egg substitute to use when making cookies
*I found with baking cookies, the following formula worked very well:
for each egg, whisk together:

  • 2 tablespoons flour,
  • 2 tablespoons water,
  • 1/2 tablespoon oil and
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • In addition, for cookies that we like slightly moist, like chocolate chip cookies, I substituted 1 tablespoon of applesauce for 1 tablespoon of the butter called for in the recipe.

For quiches, baked custards, or fritattas, you can substitute pureed fruit, veggies or tofu for up to half of the eggs called for in the recipe.

Meringues and other recipes calling for whipped egg whites generally can not use an egg substitute.

So, what did I bake without eggs last month? I made some very successful pancakes, waffles, cookies, and muffins. I had my husband very surprised that I could make waffles without any eggs at all. I made bean burgers that normally call for eggs as binders, but with a flax meal binder, instead. And I baked a batch of cupcakes, a recipe that normally calls for 2 eggs, I made with 1 egg plus a substitute for the second egg.

These substitutions came in very handy for me. I imagine it could be helpful for others as well, such as the mom who is home with a sick child, but wanting to do some baking, meanwhile discovers she is out of eggs,  or,  in bad weather, not wanting to chance bad roads just to go out for eggs,  or,  for the person who lives in a rural area, and doesn’t want to drive into town for such a small purchase, or,  in my case, with a small grocery budget and not wanting to feel “robbed” by paying twice what I normally pay for eggs when on sale.

Lili Mounce”

Lili, you have saved the day at Food Stamps Cooking Club!  Thank you for all your good help!  I plan to print this out and hang it inside the cupboard door for future reference!

The FTC wants you to know there are links on this page. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

 

Upworthy’s Brandon Weber & Food Stamps Cooking Club

July 29th, 2013

It was yesterday morning when I found Brandon Weber’s piece as it appeared on the Upworthy website.  It was riveting, because it shed light on the SNAP program and how critical it is to keep it in place.  Not everyone thinks it should have a hefty budget.  Those are the folks who have never lived hand to mouth or depended on public assistance for their food dollars.  Congressman DeFazio is helping to make his colleagues aware of the issues around living on a dime!

Mr. Weber was generous in allowing us to read his words.  He also granted permission for me to share his thoughts on this page:

While the threat to cutbacks in food stamps died with the recent farm bill, it will most certainly be back on the agenda shortly. Now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), my family lived on them at times when growing up in the Midwest. I’ll save you the story, but if not for that and a few other 1970s food supplement programs, we would have starved — no question in my mind. As it was, we could only afford cheap, high-sugar, not very nutritious items with the amount my mother received.

Watch this congressman face the same choices as his grocery budget gets real tight when he tries to live on the amount that his fellow elected officials want folks to live on.”  ~Brandon Weber

Unfortunately, Mother Connie was unable to put this moving news video here in order for you to see it easily.  You can view it here, though, and I urge you to cruise over to YouTube or Upworthy NOW and scope it out.  It is likely to touch your heart.

As always, we welcome our new Members and all your comments.  We are delighted to cater to YOU in our quest to assist all users of SNAP or WIC or food pantries, food commodities or any public assistance.  We don’t have all the solutions but we help as we feel able.  We could not do it without the input of fellow bloggers and our Members!  Thank you all, for your help.  You are dearly loved.

Reminder of the link to Brand Weber’s piece on Upworthy andthe video featuring DeFazio’ shopping experience:  just click on the links.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links on this page. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Use It Up at Food Stamps Cooking Club

January 24th, 2013

Dear Club Members:
I am so excited I can scarcely breathe! One of my favorite bloggers-I have many of those-graciously agreed to give us a Guest Post and today’s the day! Pamela, of Feral Homemaking: http://feralhomemaking.blogspot.com/ offers us these thoughts.

“BE A HEDONIST AND USE IT UP!

I use things up, all the way up, because I’m a hedonist. It sounds counterintuitive, but it isn’t.

If I enjoy something, I want to enjoy every single thing it can offer me. I want to get as much use and pleasure out of it as I can. I don’t want to go through a hundred of them and leave a trail of peelings, ends and sad leftovers that are left to rot. I want to savor every single bit of it. That’s a big reason why I use things up completely—the other reasons are ecological (I don’t want to use more resources than I need) and financial (I like frugality). One area where I really focus on this is food. You can use this principal with anything—crafts, scraps and leavings from projects, old containers, etc., but I am all thumbs when it comes to crafts and I am terrified of ending up on the TV show Hoarders. So food and cooking it is.

Don’t get me wrong–I have made all kinds of flubs in my quest for low-cost, delicious cooking and general frugality. Everyone’s mileage varies, of course, but being a single woman, some of the stuff that works for large families may not work for me, and some things that I would have discounted actually ended up being quite useful. One things that really helps is making and using less. I have found that making smaller servings than I used to make really helps since I tend to make too much and then have a lot leftover. If I’m still hungry, I can reach for something else—maybe, if I had a little meat and some vegetable and rice, I can have some salad or a piece of fruit or yogurt. Often, however, I find that I’m actually full on the smaller serving I prepared for myself.

Buying in bulk is nice, if you are going to a) eat what you’ve bought before it goes off or b) remember that you even have it. (I have had many mold gardens in my fridge because I bought in bulk and never used it.) It’s way too easy to buy things because they are a good deal and then let them get freezer burn or gather dust in the back of your pantry. I’ve seen people suggest that you make up a list of what you have and then base your shopping decisions on that. I’m not nearly that organized. What I do is basically this:

Buy only what I need

Use it up completel

By “use it up completely” I mean just that. I don’t just mean, “Hey, I have some leftover vegetables, I’ll put them in a container with other leftover vegetables for a soup or stew,” though that is a good idea. Here’s an example:

DRIED BEANS

1) Soak the beans you want to cook

2) Save the water to water your plants (yes, you’re not using the water directly, but plants get thirsty, you’re not wasting water, and they may have some of the nutrients from the dried beans now.

VEGETABLES (fresh or frozen)

1) I cook them on the stove in water. When I drain it, I save the water it cooked in and save the water in a container of vegetable stock.

2) I eat the vegetables

3) If there is any leftover, I either put it in the fridge for my omelet/scrambled eggs the next morning (depending on the vegetable), or I put it in a container in the freezer for soup/stews or things like stir fries or fried rice.

4) I plan to make the soup/stew and make some homemade bread to eat with it. It’s especially nice on a cold winter day.

MEAT

1) Cook the meat and eat it.

2) If it was bone in, take the leftover pieces, cut the meat from the bones for another use, and make stock with the bones (this is especially good for roasts, but it works for any bone-in meat.)

3) Use the leftover pieces in soups, casseroles, or sandwiches, or as an added bit of protein to salads.

4) If there are several meat pieces with the bone in and leftover vegetables, you’ve basically got soup right there.

FRESH VEGETABLES—I don’t compost ends and scraps right away (and I wasn’t always in a situation where composting was doable). This is what I do:

1) Peel and slice the vegetables.

2) Save the ends and skin (if the skin is edible) in a freezer container for stock. Do the same thing with tough stems.

3) Use those ends, tough stems, and peelings to make stock.

4) If I have fresh herbs from my garden or that I got at a good price, I save the stems and add those to the container for stock. Flavor—stock is for flavor. So I am not shy with herbs.

5) Preserve the stock—either pressure can it, or freeze it in one to two cup servings, or freeze in ice cube trays for when you need a small amount of water to thin out a soup or add to something—this will add flavor. Once they are frozen, pop them out of the trays and put them in a clearly labeled freezer bag.

BREAD

Once bread starts to go stale*, I’m so tempted to trash it. But I don’t. I do one of the following:

1) Cut into squares, toss with a teaspoon of olive oil and mixed dried herbs, and toast in the oven at 350 degrees (turning over once or twice) until they are crisp for croutons

2) Grating them for breadcrumbs and storing them in the freezer

3) Chop roughly and use for a strata or bread pudding

*It’s very rare for bread to go off in my house as I love bread, and I bake my own. It’s a big downfall of mine.

I do my best to do root to stem cooking. Many parts of the vegetable are edible, not just the parts that we’re used to eating. Green leafy carrot tops are edible and quite delicious. They are a tasty addition to fried rice. You can pickle watermelon rind, or peel off the hard, green outer skin and chop up the rind for salads. You can use the leaves of a tomato plant to steep in a sauce, soup or stock for a few minutes to add flavor (don’t eat it, though, they aren’t good for you to eat). You can eat broccoli stalks—if you slice off the tough outer peel, you’ll find the stalks themselves are quite sweet and tender. Don’t want to steam them to eat? Slice them into matchsticks for a snack with hummus or dip, or as part of a crunchy salad or slaw. Got fresh radishes, beets, or turnips? Those greens on top are edible. Now, I don’t relish a big plate of radish greens, but chopped up finely and thrown into a soup they do just fine. (I do like steamed or sautéed beet greens and turnip greens, but they are also pretty good in a soup.) If you get a stalk of Brussels sprouts, you can actually cook the leaves. Celery leaves are a great garnish or substitute for fresh parsley. Potato peels? If they are thick peels from Russet potatoes, they are good roasted until crisp, with a little olive oil and rosemary. Or save them for stock. Otherwise, if they are thinner skinned potatoes, I tend to leave the skin on and scrub them very well as there are a lot of nutrients in the skin.

One thing I will buy a lot of if I’m out: lemons and limes. I take what I need for the day, slice the rest (or in the case of limes, cut into quarters) and freeze. They are very nice in cold drinks. If I squeeze the juice out of one, I save the rind in the freezer (in a bag with other fruit peelings). Then, if I want to liven up my place, I put a handful of the peelings, half a cinnamon stick, a clove, and maybe another aromatic herb or two in a mini-dipper crockpot, potpourri pot, or on a small pan on the stove and let it simmer all day. It makes your place smell nice and it won’t irritate your sinuses or leave a film of candle soot on your walls.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO USE THINGS UP?

Oh, Pamela! What great ideas you have offered us! Those who use EBT cards from SNAP or WIC will get so many fresh notions for s t r e t c h i n g their food dollars! Those who have food commodities or get things from a food bank or food pantry will have a fresh take on frugality, as well. Those who are living on a dime may already do these things but it’s always good to hear from people who are like minded!

To those Members of the Food Stamps Cooking Club, please cruise over to Pamela’s adorable blog and leave her some love, won’t you? Her blog is found here:
http://feralhomemaking.blogspot.com…I am so sorry WordPress will not allow me to insert a link for this…boohoo…

We are thrilled to welcome new Members again today! Send your thoughts to us at foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com – You are welcome to leave a comment in the comment panel here, as well.

Thank you again, Pamela!

Connie Baum
The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Shopping For Sale Items: Food Stamps Cooking Club

May 18th, 2012

 

SAVE BIG MONEY BY WATCHING FOR SALE ITEMS!

We can ALWAYS count on the Club Members to come up with great solutions to the problem we all face:  Taming the family budget!  Whether we are shopping for food or household items, timing is everything.  MikeMax, bless her heart has come through for us with this message:  THANK YOU, MIKEMAX!

From the desk of MikeMax:

“For those of you who budget from month to month and usually run out of money by the time you run out of month: Try to hang onto a little extra ca$h this month. There will be really good sales over Memorial Day, which is the 28th this year.  You might save big on groceries and on lawn and garden items. Memorial Day is a good time to stock up on condiments, canned beans, etc., for the summer. You may also find “grilling” meats on sale, since Memorial Day is the first big weekend of the summer.

Ace Hardware-and likely Home Depot and Lowe’s-will have great prices on garden tools, fertilizer and such like. No, I don’t have any inside info–they just always do! Some of the best deals at Ace will likely include a rebate. They process their rebates very quickly, but you will still need to be a few dollars ahead to take advantage of them. Watch the newspaper for flyers the week before the holiday weekend.”

Great ideas with foresight, MikeMax.  Those young ‘uns who are just starting to keep house will surely find it helpful and those of us whose households are firmly established can always use reminders!

Now, if I may change the subject abruptly:

Several posts ago Mother Connie posted the recipe for Celery Salad.  It featured celery and onion and was a BIG hit in the Club House!  WEll, here is a bit of a PS:  We did not eat the last bit in the first sitting so FROZEN PEAS were added to what was left for the next go round.  O MY, talk about DELISH.  This salad would be a perfect take-along for a summer picnic, especially if you omitted the mayo and used only the dressing.  I’m thinking Memorial Day…

Each time the mail comes in, it is heartening to see how you are sharing this blog with others.  This must mean that we are accomplishing our goal of helping people who must cook frugally!  This whole project was designed for those who use WIC or SNAP’s EBT cards; we cater to people who depend on food pantries and/or  food commodities  as well as those who are living on a dime, just love to squeeze those nickels til the buffalo bellows or are just cheap by nature!  For those of you who have joined our bunch, we hope you like our series of cooking tips.

It seems as if everyone who is lucky enough to have work these day  probably has TWO jobs.  People are tired, stressed, and hungry at the end of a day.  We cannot plug in your crock pot or turn on your oven for you but we hope we make your life a wee bit easier by providing recipes and ideas that give your families good, sound nutrition for very little money.

The school years are grinding to a halt around here.  Let’s hope every family has a safe, happy summer, full of tremendous good memories and great, affordable meals!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

 

Relish the Radishes at Food Stamps Cooking Club!

April 16th, 2012

Our Garden Guy had radishes for sale in early April! And they are beauts!

We drove into our Garden Guy’s place to deliver his paper…that’s when we saw his sign: ” PRODUCE FOR SALE.”

Early April and he already has produce?  WOW.  Impressive.  Later that morning I called him to see if the TOMATOES were ready;  the humor was not lost on him.  We visited him to see what he had and there he was, planting seeds in his expansive garden.  He looked up, grinned when he saw us hanging over the fence, watching him work.  He came up to meet us and that’s when I noticed he was BAREFOOT.  Now THAT is a man who loves the earth! He is a proficient and dedicated gardener!

He had a 5 gallon bucket full of large, sweet, bright red beauties.  I bought 3 bunches of the organic wonders.  We came home directly and I cleaned them all, sampling the crunchy sweet treats as I went.  We devoured one bunch by dipping them in sea salt and enjoying them immensely.

Here’s what happened to the rest of that batch:

Glazed Radishes  This recipe is from the Food Network calendar I got at Christmas!

2 medium bunches radishes, stems trimmed to 1/2 inch from radish top.

2 tablespoons or 1/4 stick unsalted butter

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

*As I trimmed the radishes, I dropped them into a bowl of cold water

1.  Put the radishes, butter, 1  1/4 teaspoons salt, and pepper in a large skillet.  Add enough water to come about halfway up the side of the radishes.   Cut a circle of parchment paper the size of the skillet and lay it over the veg.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the radishes are tender, about 15 minutes.

2.  Remove the paper and boil the liquid over high heat until the liquid lightly glazes the radishes…about 5 minutes more.

***Mother Connie wants to discuss Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, along with parchment paper:   I think the Kitchen Police will not enforce their “law” if you use sea salt or whatever else you are blessed to have for seasoning.  And pepper is pepper, right?  It would be difficult for me to believe that food stamps users have parchment  paper in their kitchens.  I’d be glad if they had enough real food to feed their families so I think you could use a circle of foil.  The idea is to let the water bubble and the steam can escape.  SO DO NOT STRESS ABOUT THE DETAILS, just get some good, tasty nutrition into the people you love best!

Club Member Carol sent a wonderful message to me that I want to share, as well:

“Connie,

Here’s a cake that I made for the first time yesterday:

http://ctonabudget.blogspot.com/2012/04/banana-pecan-sheet-cake-recipe.html

While it does call for some pricier ingredients (buttermilk, pecan) see how I substituted to make this work for me, based on what was on hand. The pecans would normally be a luxury, to be sure, I am blessed with annual gifts of shelled pecans from my SC relative. : ) Walnuts can be used or just skip the nuts all together. This is a nice, moist cake but I frosted it with a cream cheese frosting as I had some Neufchatel that needed to be used up. Coconut, another extravagance, was actually part of an Angel Food Ministries delivery from last year that had been lurking in a Mason jar in the fridge (I was usually ordering 3 of their expanded monthly boxes and 2 produce boxes -don’t’ recall which “box'” the coconut came in) One can easily forget about the coconut as well. This was a use it up cake, as noted above, I had ingredients that needed to be used. Very adaptable recipe, I felt that your readers could use it! 

~Carol”

Users of EBT cards for SNAP and WIC will benefit from the ideas set forth here.  So will people who get things from community gardens, food pantries, food banks or food commodities.  We know you are pleased with what we offer you, for our Membership is growing by leaps and bounds.  Life is burdensome enough…by helping one another it will lighten everyone’s load!

Mother Connie appreciates every single one of you.  Keep those emails coming!  foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com  is the place to send your messages.  EVERY MESSAGE IS READ; yes, even that crummy, detestable spam!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

‘Tis the Day Before Easter at Food Stamps Cooking Club

April 7th, 2012

Easter eggs might lead to big savings...

Right before the appearance of the Easter Bunny, one of our favorite faithful, Maxine Sullivan, has sent us a post.  It is timely and particularly welcome as Mother Connie is still languishing after her date with the surgeon…Please enjoy what Max has delivered to our door.  She emphasizes that some of our newer, younger members may not know what those of us who have been around longer; her advice is wonderful!

“The week before Easter is one of the best of the year for stocking up on real food. Not only that, but Easter this year coincided with many pay dates as well as EBT dates.

If you missed out on the pre-Easter sales, it may not be too late. In my community, most -but not all- of the supermarket ads run from Wednesday through Tuesday. I can still shop at those stores through Tuesday night for the special prices.

First on the list is a ham. Safeway in my area was the cheapest, with whole or shank bone-in halves for .99 lb. If you can afford it, a whole ham is the better buy. The butt half has more meat and no center slices are removed when you buy a whole ham. I bought a 20 lb. ham, had it cut in half and wrapped separately, and froze the butt half for a family reunion this summer. I saw another woman having the center slices cut from her ham. I have never been charged for extra services such as these.

 Fresh pineapple is becoming a typically “Easter” food. I paid $1.99 for mine—that’s at least a third cheaper than normal—and I saw them advertised for $1.66 each! Don’t know how to choose a good one? It’s hard to go wrong, whether you pluck a leaf, look for yellow color, ripe smell, or the largest diamond markings.  A Costa Rican grower told me the diamond markings on the pineapple are the best gauge of ripeness–the bigger the better.

Even if you prefer your pineapple from cans, Easter is typically the cheapest week of the whole year for canned pineapple. In fact, it may be the only week it goes on special. I bought 20 ounce cans of Dole juice pack pineapple for .77 each. The savings on 15 cans was around $6 less than any other supermarket was offering. Although I made a special stop at Albertsons—I don’t normally shop there because of their high prices—I was going right by. Five minutes in and out was worth 6 bucks to me!

Eggs used to be *THE* pre-Easter special, but hardly anyone puts them on sale anymore. However, I’ve got a coupon—good through Tuesday—for a dozen eggs for .47, limit one, at Super One. I know I’ll have to stop at the grocery store between now and Tuesday, so Super One it will be! (I am not loyal to any supermarket–price is everything). They also have a coupon for sour cream for .47, so I’ll get that, too. Cream cheese is on sale for cheap, too. I can always use eggs and sour cream. And cream cheese keeps practically forever if you don’t open it.

Produce items to watch for, besides fresh pineapple: fresh strawberries, fresh asparagus, and possibly sweet potatoes/yams.  I use the two interchangeably in cooking, and both were .69 lb. You may also find canned olives at super loss-leader prices. They are .39 can here, limit one. Again, at that price, I can always use a can of olives. I’m already thinking homemade pizza!

Go back over the Easter grocery ads, including the stores where you don’t normally shop, check the date(s) the ad(s) expiration, and shop for the rest of the month. I’ll be baking my ham for Easter, slicing the leftovers for sandwiches, breakfasts and a later meal, and freezing the rest in 2 cup packages of ham cubes for casseroles. I’ll freeze the ham bone, too, for bean soup later. *Nothing* will go to waste, and .99 lb. is hard to beat!

 PS:  If I’d thought about it, I would have had the center slices removed for freezing so we could have  a later dinner or big breakfast.

PPS:   When I was moving stuff around in my freezer, I came across a “lost” 2 cup package of turkey left from the .29 lb. Thanksgiving bird! We’ll be eating it next week as a break from ham!”
~Maxine Sullivan

Oh, Max!  Bless your dear, thoughty, and generous heart.  Everyone in the club house thanks you!

Those who are living on a dime, those who use EBT cards from SNAP or WIC, those who are suffering sticker shock at  shopping centers–and all of us who are frugal are the very “targets” of the Food Stamps Cooking Club.  Our passion is helping people eat well and wisely without going hungry…

That very thing reminds me of a piece I heard on the radio.  India is feeding malnourished school children for 11  cents  – YES, ELEVEN CENTS  – per meal per day!   A software millionaire has partnered with school officials to make this a reality for children who are literally starving to death.  The noon meal is prepared with FRESH INGREDIENTS, put into large, clean containers and trucked to various schools from the cooking center.  This is causing more children to attend classes and those who have participated in the program are healthier and getting higher marks in their classes!  They keep “dessert day” a secret in the hopes they will motivate more students to come, in hope of getting a treat.  If India can feed thousands of children FRESH food for ELEVEN CENTS a day,  what might we do in the USA?

After all, health is the first wealth…

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Our Mailbox and Food Stamps Cooking Club

March 26th, 2012
Our readers have sent us some great bean recipes!

Oh, how we love mail!  Several of our faithful Club Members have contributed ideas and recipes and today we share one that will have you making plans to try this dish ASAP!  We owe a debt of gratitude to Carol    who thoughtfully sent her latest find:   (Incidentally, Carol lives in Northeastern USA)

“Campbell’s” style pork beans

1  lb dried pea/navy beans, rinsed, sorted

1  T cooking oil

3  cloves garlic, minced

1  medium onion, chopped fine

8  slices bacon, fried until crisp, drained and cut fine

2  tsp soy sauce (I used reduced sodium version)

1 and 1/2-2 cups water

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup cooking oil

1 and 1/2 tsp salt

3 T sugar

2  T corn starch

1  T cold water

 

1. Soak beans overnight (or use the quick soak method), drain, rinse. Cover with fresh water and bring to a boil

2. Meanwhile, saute onions and garlic in 1 T cooking oil, until onions are translucent, set aside

3. Place beans into a crock pot and cover with 1 1/2-2 cups of the now hot cooking water. Add the soy sauce, onion/garlic mixture, bacon.

4. Cook on high for 2 hours, then set to low and continue cooking until beans are soft

5. Mix ketchup, oil, salt, sugar and add to softened beans in crock pot. Continue cooking on low, to allow flavors to blend.

6. Just before serving, mix a slurry out of the cornstarch and cold water. Carefully fold it into the beans. Let cook a bit more to allow the slurry to thicken the sauce.

Enjoy!

I ended up making a double batch, we had some for supper tonight, and I have 2 meals’s worth of “Campbells” beans in the freezer.   ~ Carol

Thank you again, Carol!  We really appreciate your input! 

Another Member, Charlene, has also sent us some great ideas; Mother Connie will save that for another post!

It is heartwarming to know that there are peeps ALL OVER THE GLOBE who are interested to help one another with managing food costs.  The USA is not the only place where folks struggle to feed their family on a shoestring budget.  If you are holding an EBT card for SNAP  or WIC; if you frequent food pantries or use food commodities you know full well what’s going on with food costs.  Our passion is to help people S T R E T C H food dollars and food budgets by offering nutritious, low cost menu ideas.

Oh, and speaking of ideas—I must tell you that it was our great pleasure to host Kay, a lovely woman from England recently.   I was concerned about offering her a breakfast she would truly like to eat.  I needn’t have worried…Kay told me she is accustomed to her “proper English breakfast” of beans on toast!  I was surprised to hear this because it is so simple.  But, just think–it provides complete protein and that is a great start for anyone’s day!  Carol’s bean recipe would fill the bill perfectly  but I am just as fond of refried beans on toast.  When we use The Normanator’s home made bread, that is a VERY satisfying meal, indeed!  And it would be a proper English breakfast, after  all.  grin

We’d love to hear from YOU.  Our address is foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com 

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Big Box Stores and Food Stamps Cooking Club

February 24th, 2012

Do big box stores have little price tags on their merchandise?

We have some food for thought and a treat from our blogger pal, Tawra Kellam today!  Tawra graciously offered a Guest Post, written by Jill Cooper, about saving money, which is what she is all about.  She gives us some really sound advice.  See what hits YOU like a brick…

Before I share her thoughts with you I want to remind you that 40 million of us are using food stamps or SNAP.  Many more have not applied for that sort of help, even though they might qualify. There are children in our own country who are going to bed with empty tummies.  Others who are living on a dime-or less-lean on food pantries, food commodities and whatever other help is out there.  Our purpose here is to help you stretch those food dollars to get the very most you can from your food budgets and feed your family well to keep them healthy.

Now let’s give Jill the floor: 

 Are Warehouse Stores Wearing Out Your Wallet?

 *Do they save you money or just create more work?

by Jill Cooper from Living On a Dime

It’s Saturday morning. With grocery list in hand, you drag a very unwilling family out to the car where you proceed to take them on a mega shopping spree at Sam’s or Costco.

Marching down each isle you tell your family members “We need 3 cases of corn, 4 cases of green beans and — Oh! That’s a good deal on peanut butter so let’s get 3 gallons. Of course Susie, your can get a bag of cookies. They are so cheap! …and Billy you can have a few bags of your favorite chips! Yum! Oh look — samples! These taste great. Let’s get some! What a great buy on chicken – we need 20…

At the dog food aisle the excitement mounts as each member of the family grabs a corner of the 50 lb. bag of dog food to stack on top of the basket. (We won’t mention you only have 1 toy poodle at home.) After waiting in line and waiting in line and waiting in line you push your agonizingly heavy and overloaded baskets out to the car. Getting everything into the trunk of the car makes putting together a 1,000 piece puzzle seem like a breeze but, finally, home you go.

After you lug everything into the house, it’s time to spend the next few hours repackaging things for the freezer. You double wrap your 20 chickens (they could be in that freezer for quite a while) and frantically try to find places for everything else in your cupboards and pantry. By the time you are done, you are so exhausted that you couldn’t begin to lift a finger to cook, so you all go out to eat.

A few weeks later you gingerly sniff the gallon of half used peanut butter as you try to decide if that strange taste is because it has gone rancid or simply because you are sick of peanut butter. You threw out that partially used gallon of maple syrup yesterday because it had sugared and was looking really strange. You still have ten of your chickens left but if you bathe them in some spicy sauce you are pretty sure your family won’t notice the freezer burned taste. In spite of having to throw out most of the 50 lbs. of dog food (after a growing family of mice had invaded it), you’re sure you saved money because “they” said you would.

People constantly ask me, “Can you really save more money at warehouse stores?” I usually answer, “Not any more so than at other stores.” I have checked prices at various stores on many different occasions and factoring everything in, I haven’t found any exceptional savings at warehouse stores.

Here are some tips to help you decide if a warehouse store is for you:


  1. Do your homework and compare prices. Buying in bulk is not always cheaper. You can really save by checking and comparing prices. I was at Costco one day where there was a display of two Clorox one gallon bottles for $1.98 AFTER rebate. I stood there amazed as people frantically grabbed this “great deal.” I knew I could get that same Clorox for $.98 a gallon at my regular discount store and I didn’t have to mess with a rebate, pay postage or lug two gallons of Clorox shrink wrapped together to my car.
  2. Don’t buy impulsively just because it sounds like a good deal. Say you can get 12 bottles of sunscreen for a great price. Think it through before you buy. If your family only uses one bottle of sunscreen a year, that means you will be storing sunscreen for 12 years, not to mention that most of the sunscreen will expire long before then.
  3. In most homes, one quarter of the food people buy gets thrown away. If your family of four eats pancakes once a week, that gallon of syrup is going to last you a VERY long time. You might also consider that unless dry goods and freezer items are very carefully stored, they will go bad or get bugs in them. Remember to buy the size that is appropriate for you.
  4. You need to be very well organized to buy in bulk. Finding places to store everything and then carefully keeping track of what you have is critical if you want to use it all before it spoils.
  5. Most people usually spend more than they originally planned on things they don’t need. This never saves money. We taste samples and so often end up buying. If this is you, be careful. Maybe sampling is a bad idea (unless you’re making lunch of it)!

If you have ten kids, run a day care or are buying for an organization then you almost have to buy in bulk. If you have a small or average sized family, you will probably save as much shopping for sales at your regular grocery store or discount store. The key is to do the math and evaluate your practical needs. You have to decide for yourself if buying at warehouse stores actually saves you money or just creates more work.

-Jill

Good info, Jill and Tawra!  Food Stamps Cooking Club Members, if you liked this article, you can find more of the same on their website Living On a DimeCruise on over and scope out “Dig Out of DebtThere is a plethora of good ideas there and Dig Out of Debt is one of their best offerings yet!

You  are all welcome to offer YOUR best ideas by contacting us at foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com.  WE LOVE MAIL.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Dumplings Are Everywhere at Food Stamps Cooking Club!

February 23rd, 2012

Dumplings ARE everywhere...and they are comfort food on the cheap!

Our mailbox is always fun.  We never know what we might find there.  Today I found a cutie named Polysammo who has a most interesting blog that shares NOT just about dumplings but that dumplings appear in every culture.  Polysammo explores all manner of “dumps”-a reference from yesterday’s post-because she reads a variety of cookbooks from every corner of the earth!

Polysammo graciously offers this easy, low cost “no recipe” way to comfort.  I can’t wait to try this for The Normanator and me:

EGGS POACHED IN VEGGIES

This is another comfort food non recipe. It is also a really easy quick recipe when you are too tired to think about what to eat.
You could serve this with buttered bread, tortillas, rice or pasta.  I like buttered bread.
I have made this for people who thought it sounded odd and then Loved it. I am craving it now and will see if I can get into the kitchen this week (with some help) and make it.    
Bonus is that is is so healthy and adjustable for food allergies/preferences.

Ingredients:
Veggies  (as many or few as you want : onions, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, celery, broccoli, beans, spinach )
Spices (depends on what style you want  Italian garlic, oregano, rosemary Mexican garlic, cumin, chili powder  )
1 Can diced tomatoes
Eggs
Cheese

In a large fry pan sauté the veggies & spices in a tiny bit of Oil.

When they are not quite soft, add the can of tomatoes and cook for 5 or so minutes on MEDIUM heat.  

When the tomato veggie mixture gets thick make little holes and break an egg into each hole (my pan holds 4 -6 eggs).

Cover & cook for a few minutes. Check the eggs when they are almost the way you want them sprinkle on the cheese and cover for another minute.

~Polysammo

Mother Connie here:  This sounds and looks to be so full of deliciousness that my mouth is watering and I’m tempted to cancel my dinner date with The Normanator just to try it!  Thank you so much, Polysammo.  We really appreciate it a lot.

Polysammo sent her message to us by using foodstampscookingclub@gmail.comYAY, Polysammo! And thank you once again!  Here’s hoping all our Club Members cruise by your cute site and scope out other great ideas!

We are also aware of a burgeoning list of Club Members.  There are a great many people using EBT cards from SNAP or WIC and many more depend on food pantries and food commodities for their daily sustenance.  It is our mission to help people, including those who are simply frugal, to s t r e t c h those food dollars and food budgets to the extreme while feeding your families good nutrition.  If you are living on a dime-or less-this is critical.  When our members offer helpful ideas to the whole community, everybody wins!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.