Posts Tagged ‘Cooking Tips’

Food Stamps Cooking in the Clubhouse

October 23rd, 2015


This is Nikki, a young mother who came to the Clubhouse to cook!  She copied Mother Connie’s favorite spaghetti sauce recipe so she can use some of the tomatoes she canned from her garden!

It was thrilling to have Nikki ask to come and cook with Mother Connie!  She had some end of the garden goodies; I had some pantry items.  We decided to make soup, talk about cooking and food and hang out together!  Her husband brought their children when it was time to eat and another family of four joined us for the party!

Before Nikki arrived I assembled a few items to incorporate into our soup:


Not sure what Nikki would bring, I thought we could begin with the famous onion/carrot/celery threesome and these items.

I drizzled a bit of oil into a large pot and added the goodies to soften them and add savor to the soup…


As these veggies sauteed I added a bit of salt and pepper.  When Nikki arrived, we added her eggplant, potatoes, more carrots, and some canned tomatoes.  We also used a spoonful or so of tomato paste and just a touch of sugar (to cut the tomato a tad).   We had LOTS of broth and we added a bit of water, and  some precooked quinoa.  There was frozen corn and frozen peas to add for flavor, nutrition and color. Nikki had dehydrated some kale so those flakes were sprinkled in to add color, flavor and nourishment.  Vegetable broth was added to give dimension to the flavor profile and add volume.  We talked about how we could have used cabbage or noodles or other vegetable combinations. We added some basil to the soup just before it was served. YUM YUM YUM

Since Nikki and her family are vegetarian we talked about all the ways there are to get complete protein.  She is well aware of how important optimum nutrition is and we swapped ideas about what to cook and how to make various dishes or adapt them.

We also made a ginormous salad (which of course we forgot to photograph!).  We began by shredding dark greens.  We added tender, sweet butter lettuce pieces we tore. Then we layered kidney beans, cranberries, quinoa, almond slivers, Napa cabbage, broccoli and tossed everything together.  Shame on Mother Connie for not capturing the beauty of the greens on camera!

We laid everything out on the table and served the food buffet style from the stove.  One of our little guests, Ava, who is 10, brought a loaf of soda bread to share THAT SHE HAD BAKED ALL BY HERSELF!  It was tasty and crusty and made a fine partner for the loaf of sourdough bread that Nikki brought to share!



I think the littlest guests had fun:

IMG_20151021_185628550Jack, Eli, Ava and Lucy had the kitchen to themselves!

The afternoon and evening was more of a party than a cooking class!  It made my heart go pitter-patter.  I was as happy as a pig in mud! 

If you have garden goodies left you are no doubt fixing stir fry dishes, soups and canning or freezing things as you have the time. Maybe you use  food from a food pantry or you have food commodities.  If you have an EBT card from SNAP or WIC it’s likely you have created home made soups and such like.  Maybe you have played with the seasonings to suit your family’s fancy.  In any case this little corner of the internet is devoted to those of you who struggle mightily with  your food budget.  We hope to help you stretch the food dollars and eat as well and wisely as you possibly can.  If you have joined our ranks and are receiving the little series of cooking tips we offer, we dearly hope you find them helpful.

Our comment panel is closed but you are always invited to send your thoughts to

Connie Baum

PS/ SENCA will be offering another cooking class in Tecumseh, Nebraska in November; details will be forthcoming.  There will be no cost but interested people can reserve a spot at the table by calling 402 335 2134.  Ask for Terri.

The FTC wants you to know there might be 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. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind

Food Stamps Cooking Club: DESSERT!

September 26th, 2015


Who doesn’t love dessert?

The Cooking Class at SENCA in Tecumseh, NE featured desserts that contribute to good health and in the interest of Quality Assurance, we HAD to do our fair share of taste testing.  *I know.  You must feel terribly sorry for us.  grin

Kathy made a Weight Watchers delight.  She used frozen fruit she had thawed and drained (ANY fruit would do).  She sprinkled a packet of gelatin (ANY flavor would do) and stirred in a few spoonfuls of low fat cottage cheese.  (ANY cottage cheese would do.)  She stirred it all together and added a few spoonfuls of whipped topping.  It got all fluffy and pretty and we spooned some out to taste.  Mmmmm!  Winner!  Winner!  DESSERT FOR DINNER!

Terri pleased our palettes with an apple pie.  This one had a twist; there was a mixture of flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and oatmeal flakes where most diners would expect crust!  It was still warm from the oven when it arrived to our table.  There was swooning and ooohing and aaahing all around as we marveled at how satisfying her dessert was!

Mother Connie’s contribution was a simple collection of berries…I used fresh raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. (Any combination would do!)  I had cut them and sprinkled a dab of sugar over them and let them hang out in the fridge to get all juicy and delish.  While they chilled, I warmed some honey very gently on the stove and to that I added some sticks of cinnamon and a few shakes of ground cinnamon.  Pouring warm honey over cold berries is a good duet for your taste buds!

There was a good bit of discussion about people making low cost, high nutrition meals and desserts.  Everyone shared helpful ideas about shopping tips, family favorites and ways of re-imagining the recipes that were shared.

The next cooking class will be held prior to Turkey Day and since everyone is interested in saving time AND money, we’ll be making freezer meals once again.

Are you a user of SNAP or WIC funds with an EBT card?  Do you get food commodities?  Have you visited a food pantry or food bank?  Maybe you are just frugal by nature.  Perhaps you love to cook; you may even hate to cook.  In any case, this little piece of the internet is devoted to helping those of you who use public assistance for your food dollars.  We are here for you, supporting  you and caring about you.

We are tickled pink and blue and doing the Happy Dance because of all the new Members who have signed up for our little series of cooking tips.  You are welcome to share you ideas with us by sending an email to  *We are just like little kids when we get MAIL!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be 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. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Tomatoes!

August 26th, 2015

**A series of unfortunate technical issues prevents Mother Connie from posting photos.  Unless the Blog Fairies come to the aid of the cause, that’s the status of pictures.  Alas.

Now let’s talk about tomatoes.

Nebraska tomatoes are famous for their rich red color and sweet, juicy meat.  Slicers find their way to BLT sammies and we who live in Nebraska seem never to tire of that offering.

There are so many other ways to enjoy this fruit.  I remember that when I was a child my mother used her home canned tomatoes to make what she called “Stewed Tomatoes”.    Some people think of stewed tomatoes as having herbs cooked into them and maybe some end-of-the-garden goodies included.

Mom’s dish was simply tomatoes and bread.  She would leave slices of home made bread on the counter at night, covered with a clean tea towel.  For lunch the next day, she would cut the bread into squares and add the cubes into a pan full of her canned tomatoes, juice and all.  She would add salt and pepper and a generous spoonful of sugar.  When they were warm she would spoon helpings of the red sweetness onto our plates, along with whatever else was on the menu.

One of the things we saw on many lunch or dinner plates over the years were ground beef patties, salmon patties or crisp bacon.  It makes my mouth water now, just to think of those meals!

At this time of year when the tomatoes are slowing down their production one good idea for using them is to include them with other veggies to make “Ratatouie”.  I dunno if that is French for “last of the veggies” or what it means, but by washing, peeling and chopping squashes, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, or anything that is still giving life you can make a terrific meal.  Toss the whole business into a crock pot and let the appliance do your work.  Season the goodness with garlic, onion powder, a pinch of chili powder or whatever seasonings your family clamors to have and you have the makings of a great meal.  If you toast a bit of barley to add to the mix and a few beans (canned are the most convenient and least cost effective) you have complete protein.  A cabbage slaw (if you did not put cabbage into the crock pot) would make a nice side for a nutritious evening meal.  And think how great the house will smell with all that homeyness bubbling in the cooker!

One of the cooking tips I would share with you about tomatoes is this:  To cut the acidity of the tomatoes you might like to add a bit of sugar-not too much-so that the flavor is enhanced.  Sugar seems to brighten the flavor of tomatoes.

And who among us does not love a tomato sammie?  A slice of bread, smeared with  mayo or butter, a slice of red lusciousness, another slice of bread and you have pure luxury in your very own hands!

Does the peeling of tomatoes seem like a bother?  The enzymes are just below the skin but tomato skins can be tough to chew or slice.  Try this:  Using the BACK of your paring knife, use a peeling motion from the stem of the tomato to the bottom, going all the way around the tomato.  Then as you peel that tough skin will pull away from the fruit without “mooshing” it.  You’ll have a pretty, smooth tomato to slice.

Another way to use tomatoes is to cut them into wedges, arrange them on a plate and sprinkle dry sweet basil (if you have fresh basil that’s even better!) and drizzle a bit of French dressing or olive oil over the whole works.  When presented on a platter over a bed of lettuce, this dish looks pretty and even the pickiest children will be more tempted to eat fresh tomatoes.  Remember to use a pinch of sugar over the top, too!

If you use SNAP or WIC to beef up your grocery budget, here’s hoping that these ideas will be helpful for you.  Maybe you depend on a food pantry from time to time or a food drop.  If you have food commodities or garden goods from a generous benefactor this might help you to s t r e t c h your food dollars.  This blog is dedicated to those who depend on Public Assistance.  We are not selling a thing; we just want everyone to feel as valuable as they are and help those who are in need of some food ideas!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be 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. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind.



Food Stamps Cooking Club: These Can’t Be Leftovers!

June 26th, 2015

IMG_20150626_113035736This does not LOOK like a pot of leftovers and it did not taste “left over” either!

Do you remember the spinach dish I prepared yesterday?  It was so delicious!  I dumped the meat we did not eat in with the spinach and put it away in the refrigerator.  It sat there all night, marrying all the flavors and getting even yummier.

For lunch today I sauteed carrots, onions and celery in a bit of coconut oil.  While they cooked I poured in a drizzle of beef broth so that would help finish cooking them.  While all this was warming gently, I heated the pot of creamed spinach and ground beef very slowly.  *I did NOT want it to scorch!

When the veggies were tender I added them to the pot which now became the soup pot!  The fragrance wafted through the house and coaxed The Normanator to the kitchen just to see what was cooking!

Since there were more ingredients today it needed more liquid.  I stirred some corn starch with a little water and poured that into the soup pot.  I added a bit more milk till I liked the consistency and I taste tested for quality assurance.  wink/wink

One more thing went in: about 2 cups of sliced mushrooms!  You can see what a pretty dish this made.  The bright green of the spinach, the sunny-ness of the carrots, and the milky liquid was cheerful and inviting!

We enjoyed soup plates full of this goodness and for dessert we had a small dish of strawberries.  We did not carry on scintillating conversation; we were enjoying our gourmet goodness!

Part of the reason this meal was so satisfying is that fresh ingredients were used.  During the summer months, fresh food is more readily available and here’s hoping you have as much fresh food as you need.  If you have enough to share, that’s even better.

Are you a user of an EBT card for WIC or SNAP?  Do you get food from a food pantry or a food bank?  Maybe you get food commodities.  It could be that you just enjoy being frugal or just getting by because you are living on a dime.  In any case, this little corner of the internet is meant for users of Public Assistance.  We dearly hope you find the information we offer you to be useful.

We have closed the comment panel but you are welcome to leave a comment for us at this address:

 Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be 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 Club: Cheap ‘n Cheerful

June 25th, 2015

Cooking in a cheerful environment makes creating cheap meals more enjoyable!

Here’s hoping you have not felt terribly neglected over the past months…we have been  a little busy helping The Normanator recover from open heart surgery and conduct his cardiac rehab program. You can tell that our dining room is a tad disheveled but the kitchen is cheery and I love being there to prepare our meals.

Today I want to share with you how our food pantry was a huge, ginormous help to us.  Occasionally they get truckloads of goodies that must be  used ASAP.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I went there for a meeting and upon my leave, I had bag after bag after bag of fresh ORGANIC spinach and other greens!  I was thrilled  to have this fresh produce but I knew we could not use it all.  I wondered who I could bless…

After most of the spinach had found new homes and delighted their receivers I set about to think of how I could best use the greens before they withered.

Here’s what happened:  I made a white sauce in my 4 quart saucepan, using some coconut oil, flour, milk and just a touch of salt and pepper.  I stirred it till it thickened and then I added all the freshly rinsed and drained spinach.  It completely filled the pot to overflowing.  I gently stirred the mixture as it heated.  The warmer the pot and its contents, the more quickly the greens withered into a bright mass, soaking up the lovely white sauce.

It just so happened that my “cook once/eat twice” adage was working for me…I rummaged in the freezer to find a freezer container that was full and marked “cooked and seasoned ground beef”!  I thawed that in a bit of beef broth til it was heated through thoroughly, stirring occasionally.

Just as I removed the lovely creamed spinach from the heat I sprinkled a little nutmeg over top.  Mmmmm it smelled DIVINE.  It was just as tasty.

I easily made a cheap and  cheerful meal for almost no $.  I am a happy girl!

Are you living on a dime?  Do you use SNAP or WIC goods by  having an EBT card?  Maybe you receive food commodities or get help from a food pantry.  The dish I described above can be made with canned spinach and if you have no beef, chicken, rice or orzo or potatoes could be substituted.  We just wanna help those of you who depend on public assistance for your food dollars.

Our SENCA, South East Community Action, Center will be hosting a cooking class in Tecumseh, Nebraska on July 24.  For more information you can email me:  There is no charge for the class but you will need to know what to bring.  *It’s gonna be FUN!

Here’s hoping your summer is making your heart sing!  It really feels good to be blogging for you again.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be 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 Club: Curry?

April 27th, 2015

The Normanator and I grew up eating liver and loving it. ONE guy at church brings it once a month; he obviously loves it, too.  But hardly anyone likes it, really.

Before you turn away in disgust, just see how we prepare it at our house:

It is rinsed and we make sure the membrane is cut away from the meat.  That membrane is what makes the meat tough…ugh!  As soon as it is rinsed, each piece is laid out on a clean dishtowel.  *You could use paper toweling, if you have it, but that uses up lots of trees.  Just sayin’…

After it has been patted dry, each slice is dunked into an egg mixture…just eggs, beaten slightly.

Next it is drawn through seasoned flour and the flour is seasoned liberally with salt, pepper and curry powder.  Any excess is gently shaken away.

These pieces are set aside on a platter while 2 or 3 onions are peeled and sliced.  Those go into  a bit of oil in a cold oven-worthy skillet or baking pan.  The meat is layered over the onions, a cover is set and the whole thing goes into a COLD oven.  The oven is set at *350 for about 45 minutes to an hour.  That’s when it’s safe to peek into the oven to check the doneness of the meat with a fork.  If the meat is tender and nicely browned and the onions are clear, with juice in the bottom of the pan, your food is ready to serve. If you want the meat to cook longer, just leave it in the oven til it looks the way you like it.

We like to serve this with spinach.  Sometimes I cream it.  If I do this, mashed potatoes are added to the menu, so the creamed veg tops the potatoes like gravy.  Other times we season the spinach with salt and pepper and a few drops of rice vinegar. *Any vinegar will do.  Spinach is beyond delicious when a pinch of nutmeg is added just before it’s served.  Nutmeg can be added to the creamed version; but adding vinegar to that is inadvisable.

This blog is dedicated to users of Public Assistance for their food dollars.  Food budgets that are strengthened by EBT cards and WIC need all the help available.  So do those budgets dependent on food commodities or food drops or food pantries.  We hope our target audience finds help from our offerings.

There is a place in the upper right hand corner for people who might like to get a series of cooking tips.  Just click the button and you are instantly a Member of the Food Stamps Cooking Club!  We cherish each member and value your thoughts and opinions.  If you have ideas to share you are welcome to send us a messsage:

There is nothing to buy; no fancy apps.  Just common sense ideas for frugal food prep!  With a bit of humor, served on the side.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be 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 Club: Down to the Bone!

December 9th, 2014

If you are popping in here for the very first time, we welcome you with open arms!  If you are a New Member, we are very happy to have you in the Club House!

This little piece of the ‘net is dedicated to those who depend on SNAP or other public assistance for their food dollars.  We are not fancy; we do not have apps and there is nothing to buy.  We just want to help you with your food dollars.  Incidentally, we have faithful Members who just like to  save money and are good at finding bargains!

At the recent Cooking Class we held at our South East Community Action Center (SENCA) one of the tips given was how to make vegetable broth.  We amped up the soups we demonstrated with home made broth which was not only CHEAP but really easy to make. *The taste factor was a WOW!

Today I ‘d like to chat with you about BONE BROTH.  The leftover carcass from your Thanksgiving turkey or any chicken bones, bones left from chops or roasts or any meat can make a tasty and highly nutritious broth for use in soups, gravies,  and stews.  The value of bone broth is the calcium that comes out of the bones and into the broth.  So you get very good tasting broth and a wealth of nutrition.  It would be a pity to toss this into the trash!

SIDEBAR:  There is a LOT of buzz about food waste in the home.  One lady was asked to weigh the waste that came from their dinner plates.  In only 2 days, there was a total of 4# (FOUR POUNDS!) of food scraped into the trash!  People-CHILDREN-all over this country are going to bed hungry and going to school hungry and people are throwing food into the trash at alarming ratesEND SIDEBAR.

So here is how you make bone broth:  Place whatever bones you have into a pot.  Cover the bones with water and season with salt, pepper, onion and/or garlic powder or whatever flavors your gang fancies.  Let it simmer as long as you like.  Taste the broth when you are satisfied it has simmered long enough.  If you like the flavor, it is done.  If you want to change the flavor, add whatever you like–sage, rosemary, maybe a pinch of red pepper flakes can do wonders to improve the flavor of your bone broth.

Strain the broth so you lose the bones and pour the finished product into a canning jar with a lid or covered refrigerator container.  Store in the fridge up to 3 or 4 days.  Make something wonderful with it!

WAIT!  You don’t necessarily need to discard those bones…if you let them dry and whirl them in your food processor you’ll make bone meal.  I know a lady who used to put the powdered bones into gelatin capsules and take them as a food supplement.  *I know.  It’s time consuming.  I don’t have time for it, either, but I wanted you to know about it!

Here is a thought for you to consider: pork bones and chicken bones make good pot mates.  Both are good when seasoned with rosemary or sage.

We love hearing from you!  You can contact us at

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be 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 Club: Turban Squash Soup

October 31st, 2014

Phone pix 2014 Oct 001Turban squash soup is easy, tasty and CHEAP!

Autumn seems to scream, “SOUP!  FIX THE FAMILY SOME SOUP!”

Of course you could pick up a can of soup somewhere but soup from scratch, seasoned to your specific preference is so delicious.  Squash soup is particularly filling, nutritious and easy to prepare!

Turban squash came to my attention when I went through my “Macrobiotic Phase” … I had never seen one of these beauties before and was fascinated by their unusual color and shape.  Turban squash are very dense and difficult to cut but once you’ve managed to open them up it is a breeze to oil the exposed flesh and place them on a baking sheet, flesh side down.  I roasted two of these babies in the oven for about an hour and a half at 325*.  Ovens vary…ours runs hot so you can see if 350* is good for YOUR oven.  Adjust the temperature accordingly.

As the roasting process went on I chopped a huge leek into rings, soaked them in a bowl full of cold water.  I rinsed them and cut the rings into quarters.  I sauteed these with a bit of veg oil until they were soft, adding salt and pepper.

When the squash came out of the oven, I scooped out the seeds.  Some folks like to roast those with a bit of salt for a snack.  Those are not popular at our house so I disposed of them, as I did with the outer shell.

The dark yellow-orange flesh of the squash went into the food processor, as did the sauteed leeks.

SIDEBAR No food processor?  Not to worry.  A potato masher works quite well.  The job will go faster if you add a bit of hot water and/or broth to your soup pot as you mash.  The idea is to break up the stringy pulp that remains so your soup will be smooth. END SIDEBAR.

From the food processor the squash and leeks went into the soup pot,  along with enough chicken broth to cover everything.  You could use vegetable broth, as well.  It’s a matter of using whatever you have.  After tasting this mixture I added a bit more salt and ONE TABLESPOON of brown sugar.  That was the magic bullet!

To make a thicker soup I added 1 tablespoon of corn starch.  That didn’t quite DO it for me, so I put in some leftover mashed potatoes that were just sitting in the fridge, waiting to be of service.  When I was satisfied that the soup was thick enough I called it quits. I wanted this to be smooth and creamy so I added milk until it had the consistency and color that pleased me.  You might prefer a thinner soup…it’s all about what YOU like.

As the soup gently simmered I taste tested it again.  It needed just a little something/something so I added a tiny bit of thyme.  I thought it was yummy but to make sure, I offered a spoonful to our house guest, who raved that it was “BRILLIANT!”.  Before I served the soup, I sprinkled some dried parsley into the pot to add some color.

SIDEBAR:  Had it been available, fresh parsley would have been ideal.  I dunno about YOU but we don’t have the luxury of fresh herbs so we lean on the dried versions.  END SIDEBAR.

We had half a dozen lunch guests on the day this was served.  Each of them has far more experience in the kitchen than I.  Everyone complimented the cook on the soup so I think that qualifies me to announce that Turban Squash Soup was a huge hit!

*I should have made a double batch!  It would be easy to do and that way there could be another meal, waiting in the freezer!

Changing the subject abruptly, I want to let you know that there will be a cooking class for users of EBT cards from WIC,  food pantry users, and those who have food commodities!  It will be held on Friday, November 14 at 1:30 PM at the SENCA office in Tecumseh,  Nebraska.  If you are in the area and wish to participate, just call the SENCA office to let them know you’ll be there.  There is NO CHARGE for this class but we need to count noses so we’ll have enough food for the attendees! I plan to show how to use things from your food bundles that are easy, cheap and tasty!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be 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 Club: Kay Speaks, Part 2!

October 13th, 2014

Canon City 003The Normanator and I are always glad to have great ideas for staying within the food budget!

***Please be advised that Mother Connie will not be posting here for a week or so.  Life has become chaotic and we need to step back and take a deep breath.  Here’s hoping you recognize YOUR need for self care, too! 

Before long we’ll be back with some great food ideas that will be kind to your budget!


Kay the Gardener was so kind as to send a huge amount of tips for those of us who must cook frugally!  We continue with her hints:

SIDEBAR:  I made every effort to match Kay’s fonts to Mother Connie’s. It did not work so we present her ideas AS IS with our gratitude for her generosityEND SIDEBAR.

“Sample Menu Plans –

Breakfast – I serve Oatmeal & Cream of Wheat during the week, with various toppings of raisins, cran-raisins, nuts, chopped dried fruits etc. For weekends, egg dishes for speed, pancakes or French toast for leisure. There is also juice or fruit, plus small serving of cheese or peanut butter on crackers, toast or muffins for protein. I save instant breakfast & cold dry cereals for occasional treats or emergencies.

Lunches – I have cheese, peanut butter & jelly or tuna sandwiches, plus soup & fruit. Sometimes I have leftovers from an earlier dinner, but in smaller portions.

If I am away from the house, I pack a sandwich & fruit & crackers.

Dinners – They have a pattern of Starch + Protein a la carte + another Veggie, plus Salad/Soup. Or Casseroles, Stir-frys, Stews… = 1 pot dishes.

I find that for proteins, the larger the piece, the more expensive.  For example a serving a portion of 4-6 oz of roast, vs 2-4 oz of 1/2” – 3/4” pieces in stir fries.

With veggies, it is the opposite – 1 large serving vs many more in mashed form, such as a baked potato vs mashed potatoes…

I also try to add something fresh to leftovers, so it doesn’t seem like eating the exact SAME THING all the time.

Examples –

1A) A dinner of thick-cut ham slice, with sweet potatoes/yams & apples or peaches + Green beans in separate pot, + Salad.

1B) Cut up leftover ham into bite-size pieces, serve with mixed veggies, adding leftover green beans & new onions, celery, carrots, etc in the stir fry, over rice + egg drop soup.

2A) Baked chicken (whole cut into pieces or quarters), baked potatoes, sauced carrots/celery dish, baked apples, all done in 350 degree oven…

2B) Cut leftover chicken into bite-size pieces, add to barley with carrots/celery & fresh onions. Cook on stove about 1 hour. Can serve dry or add chicken stock for soup, depending upon how much leftover food you have for dinner. Serve with biscuits, cornbread, potato rolls etc for something different.”

Kay, you have really given us a great many good ideas and we appreciate everything so much!

Those of us who depend on EBT cards for WIC or SNAP; those who frequent food pantries; those who use food commodities all understand how important it is to figure out the best ways to manage those food dollars!

The purpose of this blog is to support those who use and depend upon  public assistance for their food dollars.  We have nothing to buy; there is NO judgment and we welcome our new Members with open arms.

If you’d like to comment about anything food related or if you have ideas you’d like to share we invite you to send emails to WE LOVE MAIL!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be 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 Club: Kay Speaks!

October 7th, 2014
These darling little boys are our great grandsons.  Their mommy captured the moment they were about to display brotherly love with a smooch!

These darling little boys are 2 of our great grandsons. Their mommy captured the moment they were about to display brotherly love with a smooch!

Whenever the mail has comments from our Members my heart does the happy dance!  I could have hugged Kay the Gardener when she sent this message.  She gave me cart blanch to with it whatever worked so here, with our deep gratitude, is Kay’s offering:

SIDEBAR:  Kay’s ideas are fabulous.  Even so, they won’t all work for all our Members.  Please choose what works for you and leave whatever does not resonateEND SIDEBAR.

Budgeting & Cooking Tips for Food Stamp Users

Here is my situation.  I live in Portland, Oregon.  I am a single senior citizen; I’m in fairly good health.  I’m an excellent, creative cook with access to a stove/oven, microwave, refrigerator with small freezer on top.  On the shed off the deck I have access to a full sized upright freezer.

I was raised by parents who went through the 1930s Depression as adults. I grew up learning to shop at the Naval commissary/exchange every 2 weeks. We had a full freezer, thanks to our plum, peach, cherry & lemon trees.  We had gardening space in the back yard in the Bay Area. I learned to make jams, jellies & canned fruit as teenager, but don’t do that myself now…

In addition to local grocery stores and an Asian market, I use Community Food Basket pantry box once a month (fee –$15/year).

I like to plan menus.  I plan to have half a dozen basic breakfast variations; lunches are leftovers from dinner, or sandwiches, soups, & desserts. Dinners are typically casseroles, stews, chili, or a la carte items, with salads & fruits as complements.

Cookies, cakes & other sugary desserts are snacks or special occasions.

Being an introvert, I usually share guest meals with only a couple of friends & the next door neighbors (reciprocal potlucks or dinner plates), about 2-3x/month.

I also make a potluck veggie dish to share at monthly club meetings, where I’m willing to eat almost anything except the sauerkraut dishes (Yuk!)

SIDEBAR:  Mother Connie here:  Hey, we all have our faves and dislikes.  You are allowed, Kay!  END SIDEBAR.

Basic Pantry Goods

Starches/Pastas – small elbow macaroni, spaghetti & flat egg noodles, Mee-fun & transparent noodles & other pasta shapes (rotini, butterfly, etc) when on special at Winco from bulk section or Asian stores.

Other grains & Seeds – dry converted rice, with barley, couscous, orzo, spelt, millet, oatmeal, cornmeal, cream of wheat, cream of rice, 5-7-10 grain breakfast hot cereal, depending on availability, sesame seeds & sunflower kernels & frozen quinoa, for variety in grains.

Legumes – Dried – Red Kidney, white navy, pinto, garbanzo, small limas, black beans, lentils, yellow & green split peas.

Canned Vegetables – kidney, pinto, black, garbanzo, lima, green beans, creamed & kernel corn, pickled sliced beets, button mushroom pieces, with black & green olives & sweet gherkin pickles & canned pimientos for garnish.

Canned Fruits – Canned in own juice or low sugar packed peaches, pears, plums, apricots, mixed fruit cocktail, pineapple chunks, & maraschino cherries.

Canned Soups – Low salt versions of tomato, chicken noodle & clam chowder soups for quick lunches, with cream of mushroom & cheese soups for sauces. Have chicken, beef & onion in bulk bouillon powders to make quick soup stocks. 

Other Canned items – Sardines in water pack, tuna fish in water pack, Vienna sausages, canned salmon, canned crab/ shrimp for sandwich alternatives. Instant breakfast mix.

Dried Fruits – again from bulk bins – Black raisins for regular use, golden ones for special holiday baking, dried apricots, apple slices, prunes, peaches, banana chips, blueberries, cran-raisins. They make good snacks for munching in small quantities.

Frozen Vegetables – Plain style baby green peas, corn, cut green beans, sliced carrot “coins”. I use frozen veggies as standbys & mix my own combinations without sauces, instead of buying fancy “California mix”.

Also I keep on hand frozen 100% orange juice, both calcium enriched & “with pulp” styles.

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables – Basics – Apples, oranges, grapefruits, bananas

Basics – Regular — Potatoes, Onions, Carrots, Cabbage, Romaine lettuce

Seasonal – other seasonal fruits & veggies for variety, bought when plentiful, about 7-12 at any given time during the month. I use seasonal produce calendars from the Washington/Oregon Extension departments, available from library lobbies, senior centers, etc. for hints. These fresh veggies might be used 2-3 times each during the week, first plain, then in different combos.

Dairy/Eggs – I use dried non-fat milk, from the large (20 qt) size, made up in quart containers or on the run. Buy monthly – 12 – 24 string cheese packs, brick of medium cheddar (2 -2.5 lbs), 12 or 18 eggs, depending upon carryover stock.

Special purchases –pint of cottage cheese (2%), 1/2 pint non-fat plain yogurt ( = substitute sour cream), bulk Parmesan for garnish when needed, mozzarella or Colby / jack bricks for variety every few months.

I save plastic/ glass jars & margarine & bulk potato salad containers to store these items in, with the contents labeled on the sides & tops.

Meats – In rotation, to keep as basics on hand, I would buy a 3-5 lb log of ground beef, then cut & wrap into 1 lb packs for the freezer. I also buy the 10 lb frozen chicken forequarter packs, slightly defrost & rinse, clean & repack 2 legs/ package & pop them into the freezer quickly. I buy a couple of frozen 1 lb imitation crab packs & keep a couple of 1 lb packs of turkey/poultry franks in the freezer for quickie meals.

I also have in the freezer during the year, bought on special –

Beef –liver, kidneys & tongue, beef round – cut as a roast or thick cut steak, cross-cut beef shanks, 7 bone thick cut pot roast to cut into pot roast & stew meat chunks. (Rib-eye or T-bone steaks are reserved for when people take me out for special occasions).

Pork – small turkey ham, thick cut ham slice, thick cut pork chops, boneless pork loin chunks, pork shoulder steaks, mild pork sausage for meatloaves, & Oktoberfest style sausages in the fall.

Lamb – ground lamb, & lamb shanks, a full bone-in leg of lamb in Spring.

Poultry – a couple of whole fryers when on sale for summer BBQ, a large (15-20 lb) frozen turkey bought in the pre-Thanksgiving sales (eg, 49 cents/lb with $50 of other groceries – I buy my Nov staples around the 18th, instead of on the 10th of that month).

Fish – 2 lb packs of frozen basa (swai) fillets, a spring/summer run salmon fillet, which I cut into 1” thick steaks myself, & other fish pieces if on special sale. Most of my fish comes from the Asian stores, because the turnover is quicker there.

For all these frozen packages, I keep a running list of the contents, weight, date in & date out, posted to an inner cupboard in my kitchen, to help rotate the items.”


Kay has shared so much information that some of it will have to go into another post!  Such extravagant generosity!  Thank you, Kay!


So that is our tease, kids!  Stay tuned for the remainder of ideas from Kay the Gardener!

**Note from Mother Connie:  There are font gremlins somewhere in WordPress!  Sorry it looks so goofy!  Such is the life of a blogger!  grin/giggle

Connie Baum

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