Archive for the ‘Shopping’ category

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Emails and Phone Calls!

July 30th, 2014

July 2014 017This is the Food Stamps Cooking Club Calling Card!

Do you ever feel crunched for time?  You humble blogger certainly does!  Between spine issues, upcoming events, day-to-day housekeeping and life in general, time slips away very quickly, it seems.  Of course, considering how many, many years I’ve been 33 that MIGHT have something to do with it.  I’m told that Seniors do slow down.  *I hope it’s just a rumor.

Every one of our posts has our email address.  I’d love to share with you the incoming email that hit my hot button this morning!  What a lovely way to greet the day:


I have had some thoughts about hunger (you don’t say?) and several things stand out in my mind.  In the USA today, people are going hungry and not from a lack of food.  Goddess!!!  You should see what we have to toss because there was no one to eat it!  Hunger is a lack of knowledge.  If I have heard, “Wow!  I never knew…” once, I have heard it a thousand times!  I do not know how many times I have said the following things are not only lacking in nutrition, they are downright BAD for you:
Anything that has O’s in it – cheetos, fritos, doritos and the like
Anything that says “helper” on it.  There’ s no helper – there’s hinder-er.  You’d be better off just eating a can of tuna and some whole grain bread for pennies compared to the cost of the “helper”
Anything with microwave instructions.
Anything that has 2 wrappers i.e. box and tray
Anything that fizzes and that includes beer!
Then I start the education process, but even knowledge is not enough.  There is the absolute part called motivation.  Sure, there are nights that I don’t want to cook – lots of them.  But a cold salad and some whole grain bread and cheese is a meal in seconds.  One of my all time favorites is to spread goat cheese on a baguette slice and top with a thin slice of apple.  For those who don’t like goat cheese, use cream cheese.
So many people that I work with who have been among the classes for a while are actually showing a surplus of food stamp money at the end of the month because I have taught them that the bulk aisle is their friend.  We stay away from the center of the store for the most part because the loss leaders, produce, meat and poultry, bulk section, dairy and bakery are on the perimeter of the store.  They are learning to network together, and last month, we actually made stone soup for the last Thursday in June.
 I closed that lesson with the Stone Soup fable…
Delaine makes some salient points  and we thank  her with a grateful heart.  It would be fun to know what YOUR thoughts are…
There was an interesting phone conversation in the Club House this week,  as well. Someone called about the domain name for this corner of the internet.  During the course of the conversation I explained that this exists for the purpose of helping people who use public assistance for their food dollars.  The caller was AMAZED and really interested to know more about it.  Come to find out, this caller became the newest Member of the Food Stamps Cooking Club!  *Fist Bump!
The National Geographic magazine sent me on a RANT earlier.  I’ll be venting about THAT soon.  Meantime, I’ll have some tests done for which I cannot study and I’m told I’ll be out of commission for some time.  Stay tuned,  kids, people need help.  If those of us who have banded together to support those people, WHO WILL?
One more point:  A hands-on cooking class will be scheduled soon for Johnson County, NE!
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.

It’s ALL about the $ at Food Stamps Cooking Club

February 28th, 2013

It’s all about the $$$$ when it comes to feeding those you love.

You saw the video the other day about eating what $4.00 a day will buy.  No doubt you have opinions about what was purchased.  Responding to the film, some of our faithful Members chimed in, offering the practices they employ in their own budget/menu planning/food prep for the faces around their tables.  If you have not seen these messages, they appear in the Comment panel below previous posts.

Tomorrow the people in our government could lower our resources even more with the infamous ‘sequester’.  If you have a $100.00 for food, the sequester may set you back a couple of dollars or say, half a gallon of milk.   It really IS all about the money!

There is no reason for you who use public assistance or face lower incomes to go into fear over this.  There is, however, good reason to figure out how to feed the people you love by s t r e t c h i n g whatever resources you happen to have.  

You, like the Members who commented, need a PLAN.

Plan what your family will need and study the circulars and prices so you can spend your resources accordingly.  This will be a glorious opportunity for you to experience new choices and experiment with new ways of food prep.

Some users of SNAP or WIC or food pantry foods do not cook.  Maybe their caretakers worked or worked more than one job and did not have the time to teach them.  Perhaps they don’t LIKE to cook.  No matter, by preparing foods at home, great amounts of money can be saved.  Another benefit of cooking at home is the chance to bond with your family members.  Most cooks remember hanging out with Mama or Grandfather or Auntie or SOMEONE who gave them good experiences over food prep–snitching tastes, chopping vegetables, peeling fruit for pies…this gave them the desire to cook as adults.  And let’s face it.  It is the responsible thing to do.

Don’t fall for the idea that cheap food is OK to eat.  Ramen noodles do not support health; they only temporarily satisfy your hunger pangs.  Boxes with “food” are hideous imposters, only pretending to be edible.  Fruits and vegetables may SEEM to be more costly but by eating real food-raw or cooked-your body will be well fueled and sickness won’t visit you so much. Learning to create meals with grains you may not have used in the past can be such fun.  Using veggies you have previously avoided might be more interesting than you imagined.  And please, do avoid those sugary treats.  They won’t even taste good to you once you learn to love other, more nutritious foods.  Sugar can rot your teeth and weaken your bones faster than you know.  Who needs dental bills on top of high food costs?

We really encourage you to cook.  If this is a problem for you, please let us know how we can help in this regard.  If you can read, you can cook.  Surely you have a relative, neighbor or friend who could help you learn to shop and cook.  Absent that, there are cookbooks everywhere, video tutorials online and Mother Connie is available to consult with you.  Just drop her an email at  and let’s see what we can make happen.  There is no charge for this, of course.

If you are living on a dime and hope you don’t have to manage on only a nickel; if you are concerned about how to feed your loved ones in the upcoming weeks, we do hope we can be of service to you.  The fact that you continue to send your sphere of influence to sign up for the Food Stamps Cooking Club and our little series of cooking tips tells us we are having a positive effect.  THANK YOU.

~Connie Baum. 


Shopping For Sale Items: Food Stamps Cooking Club

May 18th, 2012



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.


‘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.

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.


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  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.

Lotsa Food; Little Cost: Food Stamps Cooking Club

June 20th, 2011


Beans are inexpensive and nutritious!! These are red beans, as any fool can plainly see!



Rice is plentiful, nourishing, and probably sitting on your shelf!

EQUALS: A complete protein!


Ah, but you knew THAT, didn’t you?  And no doubt you are acutely aware that beans and rice are considerably less costly than beef these days!

The problem gets to be that the “end times” – of the month , that is – get to be tricky when it comes to making interesting, low cost meals.  It’s too hot to cook.  It’s too hot to eat but three squares are required every day. Those meals are necessary no matter how tired you are, or how hot is is, or how skimpy your food budget might be!

If you are using public assistance for your food budget you know all too well what the message is.  And you are sick to death of beans and rice, rice and beans.

How about if we re-frame the way we look at rice and beans?  What if we “built” a cool summer salad from rice you cooked and stored in the fridge?

SIDEBAR:  You KNOW how Mother Connie loves to cook once and eat twice..or more!  END SIDEBAR.

You really don’t need a recipe.  You could add some chopped vegetables to your rice: celery, onion, cucumber, peppers, carrots, radishes, zucchini, whatever you like-or whatever the kids will eat LOL.  Then dump in a can of drained beans you picked up for a song with a coupon or what they had at the food pantry.  You might dress the whole thing up with your own “signature” dressing.  Make up something like vegetable oil, salt and pepper and lemon juice; jazz it up with some dried herbs from your pantry.  Perhaps basil, oregano, cumin.  The choice is yours!

Rice is often included in the bundles available from Angel Food Ministries but rice is not the only grain you could use for this.  Bulgar wheat would work.  So would my personal favorite, quinoa.  You don’t need to limit your bean choices, either.  And they don’t have to be canned.  Dried beans, like grains, can be cooked and used as needed by storing them in the fridge.

SIDEBAR:  If you cook dry beans, soak them but do not salt them before you cook them.  If you do, they will cook up hard as stones,  END SIDEBAR.

You can stretch a summer salad like this by adding chopped lettuce to the salad before serving it.  Cutting the lettuce just prior to serving is wise, as shredded lettuce has a tendency to turn brown on the edges.

A simple and inexpensive home made pudding would top off this easy-do summer meal.  Or, fresh fruit would be nice if you are lucky enough to have some!

Next time we can talk about creative ways to add beans to your summer menu!

How do YOU manage combining beans and grains?  We LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear from you at  and we thank you ALL for your participation!

There are new faces around the Club House and boy are we glad!  It’s great to have a place to hang out with people who understand where we are coming from.  Those who use food pantries, food commodities, EBT cards from SNAP or WIC-those who are suffering in this terrible economy need to know there is loving support for them.  No judgments.  No sales pitches.  Just an understanding and listening ear and some free advice about keeping food costs at bay.  Not all of us are users of public assistance…some of us just pinch every nickel until the buffalo bellows! grin  And we do love people!

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


Creamy & Dreamy for Food Stamps Cooking Club

June 13th, 2011


Looking yummy…could ANYTHING make this dish more appealing?

It feels soooo good to be back in the Club House with all of you!  Thank you for your patience in the absence of your fearless leader and welcome to all the MANY new Members!

During the break that was mine I had occasion to discover a new product.  Being the daughter of a grocer gives me a healthy curiosity about any new item.  Those of us who stocked shelves greeted new products with delight but shuddered to figure out where anything new would FIT.  We already had more products than shelf space!

SIDEBAR:  Sound familiar?  I know our kitchen cabinets groan sometimes…END SIDEBAR.

The new kid in town is “cooking cream.”  I was suspicious the moment I saw the colorful packaging.  My very first thought was, “And just WHY would I need cooking cream?”

When I did some grocery shopping I looked for the stuff in the dairy case.  Sure enough, EVEN IN OUR TINY TOWN, it sat among the cream cheese and there were 3 flavors.  I looked at the cute package and perused the label.  Yes.  Just as I suspected.  JUNK in that trunk!  Nothing in the ingredient list struck me as necessary to the new “Plate Graph” the USDA just released.

Then I canvassed the pros.  I asked Chef Shawn and Chef Josh what they thought about cooking cream.  I could not hear them laugh via email but their amusement over such an unnecessary product came through loud and clear.  These two are all about good food for little money so they were not shy about saying that we need not use the silly stuff.

So, kids, the bottom line is this:  if you think your dish needs  something creamy, think of sour cream or a home made white sauce, with or without cheese.  Don’t stoop to using non-nutritional, costly packets or cooking cream or anything else commercial.

Our email account has been busy:, for which we are grateful.  WE LOVE MAIL.  We do not love spam. 🙁

Since June is in full swing, our attention is beginning to turn to the offline cooking class!  We eagerly welcome your ideas.  This IS YOUR CLUB, after all!

With warmer weather here to stay we hope you are eating big salads with lots of home grown greens and other veggies from your gardens or Farmers Markets.  Carol has a dynamite suggestion for shopping Farmers Markets…she only shops with ONE vendor.  She and the vendor have a relationship based on loyalty and trust and she gets great value for her food dollars.

Maybe you use food commodities or food from a food pantry…If you are shopping at a Farmer’s Market or using Angel Food from Angel Food Ministries or you are an EBT card carrying user of SNAP or WIC – or if only you love to be frugal and s t r e t c h your food budget dollars as far as possible, we hope this cheery little spot in cyberspace is helpful to you and yours.

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.

PS:  In case you missed Mikemax’s comment here it is again!  This is VERY exciting news!

“My friend Mary is visiting. Her husband is president and weekly volunteer at a community food pantry in Oregon. She told me about a cookbook a young girl wrote for her Girl Scout Gold Award (similar to Eagle Scout for BSA). It features low cost recipes using products typically available at food pantries. She tested every single recipe and Mary says they are good! She is going to try to get me a copy and I will share the recipes and any words of wisdom therein.”

YAY, Mikemax!  YAY, Mary!  Good on YOU!





Grocery Shopping the Food Stamps Cooking Club Way

May 30th, 2011


Grocery's gotta be done!

Since Mother Connie has been uh, away from the keyboard-alas-it was a delight to find Leanne Ely’s topic in my Inbox this morning!  Here is what she has to say about the never ending job of grocery shopping:

“Six Sneaky Supermarket Secrets

by Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

Can I beg and grovel? Just a little? Okay, here goes…please, I beg you, never go grocery shopping without a list and plan for what you’re going to buy. Not only will you spend way more than you budgeted for, you’ll most likely forget something that you’ll need to get dinner (or another meal) done during the week. How frustrating is that!

Keep in mind that supermarkets know how you operate and seek to exploit your vulnerability when you walk in the door!

Here is a list of how to avoid supermarket’s costly seductions:

1. Conquering the Entrance: Whenever you first walk into the store you’re always bombarded with holiday specials, seasonal knickknacks, DVDs, or select sale items. Before diving into that mess of temptation and “deals” – evaluate. Do you need it? Surviving the entrance is just the first step. Think of yourself as Indiana Jones escaping a maze of booby traps.

2. Oh – Sale! BUT WAIT: The sales and specials will go beyond the entrance. They extend throughout the entire store. Especially those that have their own frequent customer cards. If it’s not on the list, always ask yourself the same question: do you need it?

3. The Store’s Personal Brand is Always Cheaper… Or is It?: Not so fast! Examine all your options! And do you have coupons? Brand names have to constantly compete and lower prices to go against the store’s label, and more often than you might realize, brand names can be cheaper than the store! Check the price per ounce and do some comparison shopping. Phew, another close call!

4. Produce Doesn’t Need to be Bought in Bulk: What most shoppers don’t realize, is that produce brings in the highest profit margins for grocery stores. And that’s typically the first department you wander into inducing shoppers to buy more produce than they probably need. It’s good to eat your fruits and veggies, but buy what you need and leave the rest. If it’s cheaper to buy a pre-made bag of potatoes than the bulk potatoes, but you only need 2 taters, in the long run, it’s cheaper to pay for only what you need then to have those potatoes growing eyes in your pantry.

5. Let’s Make a Deal: It’s really easy and so rewarding! First, look for coupons and look out for double, even triple, coupon weeks! You will save an incredible amount and beat the system if you can manage coupons and be aware of sales before walking in. If you can buy an item you always need (say canned tomatoes) with coupons that are doubled or tripled, by all means, stock up! This is where penny pinching is fun.

6. Sale or No Sale: Sometimes a coupon and a store’s promise to double or triple it doesn’t mean you should buy it. Any junk food, even if it is only going to cost pennies on the dollar is not worth it. Don’t get caught up in saving for the sake of saving. The food you buy and bring home will end up in someone’s belly. Ask yourself if the food has quality nutrition before you buy. It’s not worth it otherwise.

Go test the grocery store waters and see how skillfully you can avoid those trap doors when you enter armed with your list!”

~Leanne Ely,  C.N.C.

Saving Dinner

Copyright (C) 2011 Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.


It is so great to have these tips, particularly if you are users of the EBT card for SNAP or WIC.  If you are users of Angel Food Ministries, you can avoid some of the pitfalls Leanne mentions.  Users of food commodities and food pantries as well as those who just want to rein in their food budgets can benefit from her list.

Even though the posts have not been so forthcoming you dear people are passing the word because there has been a surge in Club Membership!  YAY!  GOOD ON YOU!  I hope you are enjoying the series of cooking tips we send to our new members…the mail indicates you are quite pleased.

You can stuff our Inbox at  Please do; we love getting mail!

Not only was our Email fun; we had a package in the mail recently we cannot WAIT to tell you about!  Stay tuned!

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.

Pantry Project by MikeMax for Food Stamps Cooking Club

April 16th, 2011


Home pantries can provide security in lean times...


“*Please be advised that when the cat’s away the mice will play!

Unfortunately, Connie has not left me the Keys to the Kingdom-that is, her blog, so once this goes up, we’ll hear nothing from Connie herself for a week or so. She is having cataract surgery in May and has to give up her contacts next week. No contacts, in Connie’s own words = “No blogging; no email; no reading.  No cooking, NO DRIVING-have not been driving anyway-and whatever else.”

So, before Connie closes up shop here for a few days, let’s talk about my pantry.

Most people who see it have “pantry envy.”  It’s a walk-in closet off of my kitchen with shelves on three sides and room for my upright freezer. We built this house ourselves, and I insisted on it.

Generally, the pantry is full of food. I have a “thing” for food. I grew up in a home where my mother shopped every day for whatever we needed to eat that day. There was never any extra food. If we needed to bring a batch of cookies to Girl Scouts, for instance, we not only had to buy the chocolate chips and brown sugar, but often the vanilla or flour, too. Or butter. Or “all of the above.” Baking thus became very expensive!

I had been married for about 9 months when we moved to Eugene, OR, for my husband to attend graduate school. A few weeks after we arrived–while our cupboards were still all but bare–we had the snowstorm of the century–48 inches in 48 hours. In those days, before electronic cash registers, the stores stayed open during daylight hours, even without power. We had one near enough to walk, because we sure weren’t driving–the town where we lived didn’t even own a snowplow. We didn’t starve. But I swore I would never, ever be without food again.

It’s come in handy more than once. I live in a cold climate now and there are days each winter when I don’t–can’t–leave the house. Years ago-decades, actually!-my husband and I were both unemployed at the same time for about two months, and I was glad to have my cupboards full of food.  I didn’t have a freezer then. Money was tight for us last month so we lived out of the freezer and pantry.

Recently I noticed that my pantry was a mess. Because I have so much room, it can become a catch-all. Stuff like empty jars get piled in there, instead of put away in the garage. There were crushed-up crackers on the shelves. Overflowing plastic grocery bags had found their way to the floor. I even suspected I didn’t have much food left–by my standards, anyway. It was such a mess, who could tell?

Yesterday I started cleaning the pantry. To do the job right would take more time than I have to spare. But, I started straightening up shelves, recycling glass jars, picking up the plastic bags. Eventually, I’ll dust the tops of the packages, vacuum the floor and call it good. I’m about three-quarters done, and I’m shocked by how little food I actually have.

I also found a few things that had to go. Now, I was cooking long before there were dates printed on food packages, so I don’t get too hung up on them. Even I would not open a bulging can of tomato paste with a 2003 date on it! I also emptied some jars of homemade jam that were waaaaay past their prime.

As I sorted my containers, I checked the dates and put the oldest packages in front. I also made a mental note of stuff that was only slightly out of date, and I’ll be using those things in the next week or two. Obviously, if I see or smell anything odd when I open them, I’ll discard them without tasting–but I absolutely do not expect anything like that. Canned goods, stored properly, are good for about 5 years.

I found a few things we don’t really like that aren’t outdated. They are headed to the food bank.

If you are short on $$$ this month, be sure to neaten up your pantry and check what you do have. Chances are, you’ll find the makings for several meals.

I digress for a moment to mention one of my favorite blogs, The Frugal Queen. This one comes out of England, which seems to be a hotbed of frugality. This month she is trying to use up everything in her cupboards without shopping, and she turns out some mighty interesting-looking meals.  I intend to start using up my outdated goods in exactly this way…and if you are low on funds, you might want to, also.

I also need to start rebuilding my pantry. I’ll do it exactly the way I bought the stuff to begin with–by purchasing in quantity whatever I can get for cheap. Quantity might be a case of something. It might be “limit 2.” It’s whatever foods we typically eat and up to a one-year supply.

What kind of deals can YOU expect in the next few weeks?

Think Easter. I’ll pick up an extra dozen or two of eggs. I’m looking for a deal on canned pineapple: .80 to .90 for a 20 ounce tin and I’ll buy a case–maybe two. I’ll put an extra ham in the freezer. And one of the stores here has Del Monte veggies on sale this week for .50 can. That’s a killer deal for the only brand of green beans and corn that I’ll buy. I noticed that I’m going to run out of beans before the fall case-goods sales, so I’ll pick up half a case to see me through.

Cinco de Mayo–May 5–is a good time to stock up on salsa, tortillas and other Mexican foods. While you are in the ethnic foods aisle, look for cellophane packages of spices used in Mexican cooking. They’re fresh, they’re dirt cheap and you’ll be surprised what you find.

The next big opportunity to stock up will be Memorial Day. Think picnics!   Ground beef, buns, chips, condiments and soft drinks will be on sale. This is the time to stock up on ketchup, mustard and relish–and I will.  Pork and beans, too.   Ditto for the 4th of July.

During the summer, when people are canning, you’ll also find deals on sugar. The really good deals are usually “limit 1,” but you will see them often enough that, over the course of a few weeks, you can pick up enough to last all year.

The best grocery deals are in November and December…but I will write about them then.

I shop at a bread thrift store, too. Yesterday I bought 6 weeks’ worth of bread and rolls for a little over $15 and stashed them in my freezer. Note: hamburger and hotdog buns don’t freeze well, so never buy more than you’ll eat within a couple of weeks.

If you rely on food stamps or other benefits, I know it isn’t uncommon to run out of money before you run out of month. Even on a limited budget, you can usually pick up an extra bottle of ketchup, an extra dozen eggs, maybe even a ham–if it is cheap enough. Do this enough times, and you’ll build up a nice little pantry AND regularly eat at the lowest possible price. Try never to run out of anything–like those chocolate chip cookies, it will always cost you more.

Remember that coupons will make your EBT go farther. I mostly buy store brands, but I do use some coupons. If you aren’t currently couponing, give it a try…as long as it saves you money. If it tempts you to buy items you wouldn’t otherwise buy, or to pay more for a brand name, there is no saving.

There is good advice about coupons at Monroe On a Budget.  Too bad nobody around here doubles coupons.  BTW, I have coupons for Dole pineapple if it goes on sale! And if it doesn’t, I already know where I can get Del Monte for .88 can.  This week is probably the only time of year I will see it on sale.”


What would Mother Connie DO without her helpers?  This world is a better place because of the community YOU PEOPLE have created.  Mikemax has been a major player in this community building.  Her wit, wisdom, and expertise are such valuable assets here.  So are the comments from all the Club Members.  We love the emails, too. As you know, emails can be directed to!

Next week will fly by and regular posts should be no problem so do stay tuned after you get your pantry or cupboards straightened up!

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

PS/Those who have goods from Angel Food Ministries; EBT cards from WIC or SNAP; those who frequent food pantries and people who have food commodities; even those folks who are happiest when they can practice frugality-whether they are living on a dime or not-can benefit from the ideas on this blog.  Please feel free to share the information with those who sit in your circle.  If you have not submitted your name and email address for our series of cooking tips and infrequent email messages, we invite you to do so.  And we thank you for your participation in the Club!

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Real People, Real Food?

March 26th, 2011


What’s on YOUR grocery list? Real food?

You may have seen information on the web recently about some marketers who are offering a new product called “Real Guys.  Real Money.”  You may be wondering what on earth that has to do with SNAP or WIC or Angel Food Ministries.  You might question how that relates to food commodities or food pantries.  What could that possibly have to do with YOU saving money on your grocery bill,  assisting you with s t r e t c h i n g your food budget…

I found an ad in our newspaper that just made me want to WEEP.  The ad was full of hype about how all our favorite food combinations are on sale this week end.  They fancy we should stampede through their doors and buy all this JUNK instead of real food.  Real people need real food!

The sad truth of the matter is that people WILL flock to stores everywhere to get what they can afford to buy to fill the tummies of the people they love best.  Here are just a few examples of what I mean:

  1. Young mommies will buy soy formulas for their babies
  2. Tired families will load their shopping carts with chips and crackers.
  3. Working men and women will purchase plastic packages of lunch meats.
  4. People of every size and shape will load up on soda pop.
  5. Shoppers will fill their pantries with canned soups.
  6. Hungry folks will buy peanut butter and cheese “food” that is filled with inedible materials.
  7. People who are determined to cook at home will opt for “helper” products which are loaded with toxicity.
  8. Those who do take time to eat breakfast will choose cold cereals that are devoid of nourishment.
  9. Shopping lists will include non-foods like margarine.

Shoppers will not make these choices because they are bad people.  They make these choices because they have become a habit, or they simply have not learned about the choices that would be better.  They choose the foods in our example because they can afford them.  AFTER ALL, THEY ARE LISTED IN THE SALE BILLS.  They buy these things because they presume that since the items sit on a grocery shelf, they are  automatically edible.

Not so.

Let me say that soy formulas, soy milk, soy products by any name are not good for human consumption because they interfere with hormonal function.

Chips and crackers are not good sources of vitamins or minerals, the fuel that makes the body go, no matter how good their advertising campaigns make them out to be.  Baked not fried?  No matter.  They are packaged, processed.  NO GOOD.

Soda pop and luncheon meats with all their toxic ingredients can ultimately lead to issues with the pancreas, neurological problems and dehydration.  Weight management is nearly impossible if soda pop is ingested.

Canned goods of every description are loaded with MSG or hydrolyzed protein or “emulsifiers” which might very well be powdered U.S. currency! As Jack Paar used to say, “I kid you not.”  Do you want your children eating toxic additives?  I don’t think so.

“Helper” products are a losing proposition.  The junk that is contained in those “cheap” boxes are not good for people.  You can help the flavor of the foods you cook by adding salt and pepper and spices that do not cost a fortune.  Even when helper products are offered at ‘Ten for a Dollar’ you have to know you are buying trouble!

Cold cereals are convenient, to be sure.  But they are processed and so not nutritious.  You can cook up a pot of hot cereal quick as a bunny if only you PLAN AHEAD.  And you will save a king’s ransom!

Are you  using margarine?  It’s plastic.  Cheap peanut butter has lard in it. Your body has no way of digesting margarine and lard clogs up all your plumbing.  Butter is a much better option.  Real peanut butter is far more preferable.  In the long run, these items will be cheaper.

The bottom line is that real people need real food.  Whole food.  Fresh food, if it’s available.  Frozen is acceptable; use canned if you must.

In 1936 our own government declared that the soils used for agriculture was depleted.  How much more depleted must they be by now?  It is really important that we grow as much of our own food as possible and where that is not feasible, we must find real food for our tables.  Even then, supplementation is critically important.

It’s possible your grocery list has now been seriously affected.  I hope you’ll consider these points and adjust your shopping list accordingly, because YOU are an important feature of the Food Stamps Cooking Club.  We want you to be well and happy!

BTW, this post is sponsored by Real Guys Real Money. Maybe you can check them out after you put your groceries away?  Tell them Mother Connie sent you…

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