Food Stamps Cooking Club: How LONG is a Month?

March 12th, 2011 by admin Leave a reply »


Mikemax says March is going to be a very long month. What can be done when there is more month than money?

Oh, bless Mikemax’s heart.  She is asking for our help, so let’s all reach into our own bags of tricks and see how we can help her      s t r e t c h her money to match her month.

“March is going to be a lonnnnnng month at our house.

We pay our bills in full every month, but this month they were more than I expected.  We had an unexpected medical bill, and other big ticket bills to pay.  I budget for most of this stuff, but—as you can imagine—I’m coming up short. Waaaaaaay short. I often say that people run out of money before they run out of month. Oboy, does that apply to me right now!

I’m cutting expenses everywhere I can.

  • The first thing I did was to inventory and organize my freezer and take note of all of the canned and packaged food in my pantry. I probably have enough meat to see me through the month…so long as nobody gets tired of turkey and bean soup!
  • Because I want to use up leftovers as I go, I didn’t write detailed daily menus. However, I’m making a point of deciding a day ahead what we will be eating the next day. This helps make sure I actually cook it!
  • The only groceries I am buying this month are bread, milk and produce. I will make do with the rest, which will surely include some substituting. I hope to find myself near the bread thrift store soon–but at $3.51 a gallon for gas, I won’t be making a special trip.
  • Saturday, I found myself at Rite-Aid with coupons and a list of good deals that I’d been carrying around all week. I wrote the list before that $1,000 bill rolled in  and I’d expected insurance to cover it.  I immediately crossed everything off the list that wasn’t a necessity right now. Saved me about $20. It’s all stuff we’ll eventually need, but no non-food purchases until April.
  • No soda, not even on sale. I’m making iced tea. We don’t drink, so I won’t miss beer and wine.

I’m sure some readers are thinking, “So what else is new? Now she knows what I go through every day of every month!” And, yes, that’s true. Although I grew up in a family that lived payday to payday-and always came up short-I’ve been more fortunate as an adult. I’ve been this broke before, but usually not with almost the entire month stretching out in front of me. Fortunately, I’ve always cooked cheap.

But even cheap cooks need help sometimes. I’m asking for your advice.

One of the things I found in the freezer was an 8 lb. bone-in turkey breast. I cooked it for dinner Sunday with homemade mashed potatoes, leftover gravy from the freezer, winter squash cooked and frozen last fall and homemade cranberry sauce. I didn’t have any canned, but I had half a bag of frozen berries. Great dinner!

However, I’m looking at a LOT of turkey leftovers. I also have two turkey halves in the freezer, and may cook one near the end of the month. We ate a lot of leftover $.99 pork roast last week, and I hope not to duplicate last week’s menus with turkey.

Any ideas, fellow Club Members?

To further complicate matters, my daughter and I are dieting. We are more or less following the old Weight Watchers Points plan, which is low fat with lots of fruits and vegetables.

Now do you have any ideas? Please post them in the comments section!

In addition to the turkey breast, I’ve got a little bit of beef, including a forgotten pot roast!-some pork, cubed ham, no bacon, a couple of old dead chickens and a 20 lb. turkey that’s been cut in half. I have a can of pink salmon. I have most of the basic ingredients on hand, but not much in the way of fancy groceries. I do have a can of coconut milk I’d love to use up, if this rings a bell with anyone. I have low fat Swiss cheese, but can only eat small amounts of it. I have rice, pasta and a bag of potatoes, but again, amounts are limited by our diet. We can have ½ cup pasta or rice, no butter or gravy.

Oh, I got two dozen uber-fresh eggs at the farm stand today. Good egg ideas/recipes where you can really taste the freshness would be super. Eggs like these are a big treat for us and a cheap thrill. It’s been awhile, but the girls are laying again. Woo-hoo!

In addition to your good ideas, I’d love to have your recipes, too.”
~Mikemax, formerly known as Maxine

Now, those of us who are well acquainted with this very same issue-stretching the food to match the month-and are using EBT cards from SNAP, WIC … those of us who use food pantries and food commodities and Angel Food Ministries and all the tips we’ve come up with just from living on a dime should be well able to help Mikemax.  It’s the least we can do for all the posts she has given us!

Use the comment section to let us know how YOU stretch the food money to fit the month.  And you can email us at . It will make our day.

You have been sharing the news about us – we know this because of the voting  for the Top 100 Mommy Food Bloggers on and all the new members who have been coming to the Club House.  YAY, YOU!  Incidentally, the blog was listed as #43 at last check.  WOW.

Be sure to give our sponsors a shout out.  They are really important to the well being of the Club.  Today’s post is courtesy of Living On a Dime.

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.



  1. Mother Connie says:

    Mikemax, let me suggest a use for your coconut milk: We make Chia Pudding with coconut milk…since you did not mention that you have Chia seeds, you could just make up some pudding or a custard with the coconut milk. I’ll bet you won’t need a recipe. If you do, gimme a shout out and I’ll scare up one!

  2. Mother Connie says:

    PS/chia seeds are LOADED with Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s…they have tons of protein and they make a good addition to any meal or snack. Since you and your DD are watching your intake, this might be something to put on your grocery list when once again you are flush.

    Some months are just the PIT$, aren’t they?

  3. Donna says:

    Mikemax and Connie, I have a shelf in my cupboard I call my Emergency Shelf. It’s on the top so I’m not tempted to use it UNLESS it’s a real need. I keep extra cans of tuna and salmon and soup I buy on sale and packages of noodles so I can throw a casserole together or a skillet meal that’s quick. My husband thought it would be a good idea if we write our grocery checks for an extra $5.00 and put that 5 spot away so if we need to make an emergency run to the store we’ll have enough to buy milk and bread. The problem is that milk is now $4.00 and bread is more than a dollar! I will watch for other peoples’ ideas because I can use all the ideas we can think of. Donna

  4. Carol M says:

    Max, my funds are ubber stretched right now as well. Here are some ideas:

    -turkey carcass from the other night-boil it down for a stock. Freeze in qt amounts. Low cal, low fat base to a soup. Add whatever veggies, a bit of pasta/rice, seasonings.

    -leftover turkey:

    1-make bbq pulled pork type sandwiches. Dump leftover (l/o) meat into crockpot, add bottle of BBQ and let it cook. Shred and serve on homemade rolls. Coleslaw-everyone has cabbage here @ 19/lb and extra cabbage keeps a long time. This is a super cheap veggie right now.
    2-turkey tacos. Stretch some cubed turkey meat that is reheated in a skillet with 1/4 cup water and some taco seasoning by adding cooked beans 50-50 to the amount of meat you have (dried is cheaper but if you already have canned on hand, use that). I make my own, no salt, no mystery ingredients, using spices you probably already have: garlic powder, onion powder, chilli powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne. Fill with lettuce, cheese, sour cream, avocado, tomato-whatever you have.
    -turkey divan: layer fzn broccoli spears (use florettes if that’s all you have, fresh would be best, too) in a rectangular baker, on top of some cooked rice. top with cubed turkey. Top with a homemmade white sauce, just use some of that homemmade stock to do so-forget canned soup. Use soup if that’s what you have. Sprinkle slivered almonds on top if you have them. Bake @ 350 until heated through.
    -hot, open faced turkey sandwiches (stretch your bread! use biscuits instead)make gravy with your stock
    -mince some in the food processor and make a sandwich spread a la Hormel,Mix with mayo. Also reserve a baggie in the freezer also just with minced turkey-use as a substitute for any ground meat recipe: mix with sausage for meatballs, use for sheppard’s pie, add to Spanish rice, use to stuff a vegetable like peppers etc. The trick is to use this meat in heavily seasoned recipes to avoid turkey burn out
    -grind some cooked meat and add eggs, bread crumbs/cracker crumbs/oats, seasonings. Form meatballs and bake
    -see above meatball recipe and drop these as MINI meatballs (use a melon baller if you have one) into simmering turkey stock. Add chopped celery/onion/carrot to the broth, and season it. Add a starch if desired (rice, pasta, potato)
    -cesar salad with turkey cubes
    -cold pasta salad with an Italian vinaigrette based dressing. Add cubed turkey, cut up pepperoni, canned green beans, canned chick peas, black olives, cheese cubes etc.
    -turkey fricasse, use sage
    -turkey hash, season well with sage, black pepper. Bells seasoning is perfect for this
    -turkey curry
    -creamed turkey paprikash (got sr cream or plain yogurt? noodles?)
    -turkey tettrazini
    -turkey enchilladas
    -fruited turkey salad with dried fruits such as craisins, or fresh apples. Serve as is, or in a tortilla wrap, on a biscuit
    -turkey a la king instead of using chicken, serve on toast points
    -turkey noodle casserole
    -turkey croquettes
    -grab that cabbage and make stuffed turkey cabbage rolls in tomato sauce

    Pot roast(how big is it?)
    -cut it up for stew, sliver some for stir fry, cube some for hash, make a stroganoff, beef hash

    Ground beef? do you have some?
    if so:
    1-make a spaghetti sauce, just use meat to flavor the sauce 1/4-1/2 lb
    2-Salsbury steaks in mushroom/onion homemade gravy (got any beef stock?)
    5-sloppy joes
    6-beef-bean tacos (see note above on tacos)

    -sweet and sour pork (got canned pineapple or mandarins?) on rice
    -pork fried rice (great use for that cheap cabbage)

    Ham cubes-
    -ham fried rice
    -use as a replacement for hotdogs in a beanies and weanies dish
    -ham mac and cheese (big calories though)
    -use to season a large pot of beans cooked in the crockpot. Toss in some cut up potatoes, celery, carrots whathave you and eat like a bean stew. Cornbread is excellent on the side. I often toss in garden collards in this.

    whole chicken-I’ve been known to make one last a week!
    1-roast chicken, then serve 2 or so slices per person from the breast
    2-cut up leg from drug and serve 1 of these pieces per person
    3-cube up the rest of the chicken breast. Cesar salad topped with chicken
    4-chicken stew. Place cubed meat in the crockpot/dutch oven. Cover with poultry stock (turkey or ck), add veggies of choice, seasonings (I like sage, black pepper, Bay) and let cook. Comfort food
    5-The leftover carcass becomes stock of course. Make a creamed, carrot soup, using the stock as a base. Thicken with mashed potatoes.

    Can of salmnon (is this a 16 oz can?)
    -make a salmon loaf (I have several TNT recipes)and stretch this in to 2 meals. How many are you feeding? 3?
    -salmon cakes
    -salmon impossible pie (got asperagus?)chives will also do nicely

    3-Bisquick (or your own version, homemade mix) impossible pie. 3 eggs can be stretched this way to make enough for 2 meals. Bits of this and that in the fridge get used up and it comes out perfect everytime-a very forgiving recipe.
    4-eggs on toast for supper
    5-scrambled with cottage cheese
    6-hardboiled for egg salad
    7-hardboiled to top a salad or as an interesting filling to a meatloaf. Layer 1/2 of the prepared meatloaf mixture into a loaf pan. Lay 3-4 hard boiled eggs into a valley you make inside the meat mixture in the pan. Top with the rest of the meatloaf mixture and bake as usual.

    I’d be making a lot of vegetarian, bean based dishes as well.


  5. Mother Connie says:

    THAT DOES IT! I am moving IN with you, Carol. If I hang out with you I’ll learn stuff and figure out how to be organized and save enough $$$ for my expenses of getting there.

    I’ll sleep on the floor and never make a peep. I will show up at mealtime, though. GRIN

    Mother Connie

  6. Carol M says:

    Always have enough for another place setting, Connie. : )

  7. Mother Connie says:

    HOORAY! I’m packing my grip…

    I wish I were only kidding…


  8. WritewhereUr says:

    Ohh there are some great suggestions here. I have a couple also. With some of that turkey, you could chop it up to make turkey salad sandwiches. You could use low fat mayo/salad dressing or if you want to get a different flavor…mix it instead with a bit of honey mustard. Toss in a couple of grapes and serve with a side of rice cooked in turkey broth with some shredded carrot pieces and a handful of frozen peas.

    The eggs can be fun. Besides omelettes which are great (use a tablespoon of your ham chunks & small amount of cheese), or with your swiss & some ham instead of bacon make a Quiche.

    I like this one too, in a small individual sized ramkin or large baking casserole dish for more than one serving; shredd some potatoes & onion.

    Spray dish with non stick spray, press in shredded potatoes & onion, & some cheddar cheese; leaving an impression in the center, and bake in a 350 oven for 25 minutes.

    After it browns, sprinkle it with some garlic powder/salt & pepper, some Italian spices and crack an egg in the center.

    Put it back in the oven, with a sprinkling of cheese & a shake of Italian spices over the top for another 8-12 minutes with the egg in the center…cook until your level of doneness is achieved. Serve with toast spread w/jam.

    Baked potatoes are good too. They are filling & can be topped with low fat yogurt or even some turkey chilli.

    Also, as an alternative to spending gas money to get to the bread store, you could talk to your local grocery store. Many stores throw bread away after so many days.

    Where we live, some of the stores will even let people take it and donate it to places like churches or social services to be given away. Just a suggestion! Best wishes for stretching those food dollars.

  9. admin says:

    OK, Rainy, I’m changing my travel plans…on my way to Carol’s I’ll be stopping at your place. Pay no mind; I’ll be sleeping in the window seat and you can just put an extra plate on the corner of the table. I’ll be no bother AT ALL…



    Mother Connie PS/I’m planning to come BACK that way on my way HOME, too. ha!

  10. WritewhereUr says:

    I’m holding ya to that plan!!!

  11. mikemax (formerly Maxine) says:

    Thank you for all of the good ideas. Many of them are things I already do; some are things I probably wouldn’t do, but I’ll bet I picked up 8-10 new ideas and that is a HUGE help this month. I appreciate your help, and keep them coming.

    I will be near the bread store tomorrow, so I’m going to buy enough to see me through the month. We are down to half a package of hotdog buns and 3 English muffins!

    My tenant–the one that can’t be depended upon to pay–was only 5 days late this month, which is going to help a lot! I don’t feel *quite* as desperate as I did, although it will still be a longlonglong month.

    Thanks again for all of your good ideas, and keep ’em coming! I suspect I’m not the only one here reading these comments.

  12. Webmaster says:

    It just goes to show, mikemax, what GREAT Club Members we have!

    Thanks for kicking off all these wonderful ideas!

    Mother Connie

  13. Wow ladies, what a collection of ideas!

    I have some frozen turkey left over from my last turkey piece. It will be a casserole ingredient in lieu of chicken sometime.

    How about chicken a la king (turkey a la king) over that biscuits or rice? I can make a white sauce (MM will get that reference) …

  14. Webmaster says:

    Hey, Paula! Fun to have you cruising around here! I like your idea of chicken a la king AKA rubber chicken. The reference to MM has gone over my head but then again, lots of things escape me. grin

    Also, I love your avatar…it must be new enough that I have not seen it before. I make every effort to keep up with you but you know how it is when life happens!

    Hurry back, kiddo. You always have good stuff to offer the whole club!

    Mother Connie

  15. Webmaster says:

    OK, I’ve had enough time to THINK, Paula. MM is Mikemax! She was Maxine for a long time. Then we knew her as Mikemax, formerly known as Maxine. I did not know she was promoted to MM!

    See how I am?

    Good thing the Club Members, especially you, Paula,and MM-are a forgiving bunch.

    Mother Connie

  16. Mackie says:

    My favorite magic trick is adding some beef bouillon powder or cubes to homemade chicken or turkey stock to make a beefy stock or gravy. When the family’s gotten burned out on poultry-based dishes, this is a nice little helper.

  17. admin says:

    Sounds good, Mackie! The only thing is that I would caution you to check the label of your container to make sure there is no MSG or hydrolized protein lurking about. That stuff is NO GOOD and the manufacturers wanna put it in everything these days.

    Mackie, t’s GREAT to have you stop by the Club House and chime in. Keep those handy hints coming! We all need one another to make ends meet!

    Mother Connie