quarter chicken

Tips to Reduce Grocery Spending!


I like writing stuff like this. I always get a bit nervous, though. You can only base it off your own experiences and we’re so different. Oh, and because of anxiety but that’s off-topic! I’m motivated by the thought of helping even just one person. Getting a good deal and shopping cheaply is always going to be a miniature obsession of mine. Even if I got hit by a truck of money I’d still want to optimize my grocery cart.

Now, that said. I live in a metropolitan area in the Midwestern USA. Urban and rural dwellers face different challenges with food prices and food accessibility, and that variation becomes even more widespread by region and by country. Some of these are applicable to most people, but I’d really encourage anyone with experience in different locales, regions, and countries to flesh out their own tips as well.

  • Base recipes around many of the same ingredients: Notice how a lot of recipes start the same way? Onion, garlic, celery, carrot? Potato? Diced tomatoes? If you write out your meal plan to share common ingredients each given week, you won’t be buying a million different ingredients.
  • Make a shopping list and a meal plan: It isn’t everyone’s style, but I find having a decently clear idea of what I want for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks stops a lot of impulse buying and “what the Hell do I do with this now?” when I get it all home. It also gets me out of the store faster and I’m all about the lifestyle. Time is money.
  • Keep bulk cooking recipes in your repertoire and embrace leftovers:  I’m planning to write an in-depth guide on bulk cooking in the future. There are tons of stews, chilis, curries, and casseroles that can be made in excessive quantities for around $20 or less. Keep some in the fridge fresh to eat right away, and freeze the rest! You can pull them down for lunch or dinner whenever you need them. Also, leftovers. I know some people struggle to eat the same food many times in a row, but it definitely adds up quickly to prepare new meals for every day. Having your freezer stocked with these bulk cooked foods can provide the relief you need from any monotony in your meal plan that week.
  • Make classic and common ingredients the staples of your meals: We’re often enticed to try out the hot new foods trending in the blogosphere and news reports, but personally I find they’re mostly convoluted marketing terms and tangent reminders to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You don’t need goji berries, pomegranates, pre-made green smoothies, chia seeds, or any of the nonsense the computer screen is screaming at you to eat. Many common foods of yore are often just as, and sometimes more, beneficial as trendy foods. Cabbage, spinach, potatoes, carrots, apples, bananas, peanut butter, eggs, dried beans, rolled oats, and dried brown rice are some of the major workhorse foods that are extremely cheap.
  • Don’t shun frozen and canned ingredients: You know what’s kind of expensive? Buying enough fresh tomatoes to make pasta sauce or tomato based stews. Berries, for much of the year. And, several more. Depending on how old the produce on your store shelf is, it’s not uncommon for flash-frozen fruits and vegetables to actually have retained more of the nutrition, too.
  • Shop sales: This sounds a little obvious, but flip open the ad for your favorite shop and see what specials they’re running. Plan some meals that pull in some of the items your store is offering up for cheap that week!
  • Buy produce that is in-season: Take a clue of what to buy based on what the Earth is currently providing your location. It will be fresher, taste better, and have traveled shorter distances, too. There are good lists out there about what’s seasonal and when. It will vary by climate, of course. There are also some fruits and vegetables that are always available at decent prices. Ahem, another plug for bananas.
  • Buy in bulk when possible: Understandably, this isn’t always an option. However, if the stars align and you find yourself with a few extra bucks and chicken quarters are on sale for something crazy like $.49/lb, load ‘em up. Freeze ‘em up. I also find that canned tomatoes or cooking stock will go on great sales and I’ll snatch a few extra up to shave a few dollars off in the long run.
  • Check if your favorite grocery spot does e-coupons and rewards: Coupons for stuff I actually eat is a bit of a rarity. Seriously, 80% of them are junk food and plastic bags. Boo. Oh, how much I’d love it you got coupons for produce. However, many stores offer digital coupons and rewards for shopping at their store. On occasion, I’ll snatch one up for an actual food item I want, but the real hook and sinker is my store of choice has a rewards program. Spend $200 in four weeks? Bam, $5 off your next basket. Uhm, yes please? It usually means you’ll have to become loyal to that store but if you’re already besties, why not?
  • Water is now your favorite beverage: There are a million reasons to drink water. I’m not saying you can never have your favorite refreshments, but supporting a serious coffee, juice, or soda habit can really add up. If you’re fortunate enough to have great tap water, it’s almost free. If you need filtered water or water bottles, it’s still less money over time when you make it your main squeeze.
  • Eat a little less meat: This sometimes gets people’s panties in a twist but you know what? Meat’s expensive, fam. Sometimes absolutely nothing I care for is on sale, either. We usually only eat it for dinner, but occasionally the divination of my holy document, the sales ad, imparts the words “vegetarian week.” Do what works for you, but I think it’s always very valid advice when trying to get a grocery bill down.

I just took the ribs off the smoker.  They were deemed “incredible!”  Using a smoker instead of a grill makes a tremendous difference.  I had them at about 275º-300º for about three hours. The pink color is from the smoke– they are completely done, and tender enough to just pull the meat off the bone.  I used oak, cherry, and apple wood for the smoke.  There are a few chicken leg quarters in there as well.

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Pozole is a hearty Mexican stew traditionally made with pork, hominy and has either a red or green color depending on the chiles used for the soup base. Other variations also exist using chicken, beef, seafood, beans and there’s even a white pozole. The pozole is served alongside shredded cabbage, onion, radishes, lime, oregano, salsas, sour cream and tostadas.

Corn was a sacred plant to Aztecs and the other indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. One of the main components of pozole is the hominy, which is basically processed maize or corn. Aztecs, and the other indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica, cooked pozole only on special occasions. Now this is where things start getting weird and a bit gross. In a book called “General History of the Things of New Spain” written by Fray Bernandino de Sahagun, he describes pots of stew with corn and pieces of human flesh being eaten on special occasions. The human meat came from the sacrificed people, who’s hearts were ripped out and offered to the gods, their bodies were chopped up and cooked in the pozole. After the Spanish arrived they banned cannibalism and pork became the meat used in pozole. Wait it gets even weirder, you’re probably wondering how but it does. Apparently pork was the meat of choice because “it tasted very similar” to human flesh. This bit of history is probably something most of us Mexicans want to forget or ignore, so let’s move on.

Thankfully the only thing that remained from the “special” ancient feast was that modern day Mexicans still celebrate special occasions with pozole. If you have Mexican friends or family you know that pozole is served at many special celebrations. My family was no different and so pozole was often the food we ate on special occasions.

My mami (mom) makes the best pozole rojo. A few months ago when I made pozole for the first time I called her and asked for her recipe. But I told her that I was going to make a chicken version rather than pork. I’m not the biggest pork fan to begin with and now after reading the story above I don’t think I’ll be eating pork anytime soon. Many of the ingredients she told me are ones that I can’t find here. But I told her I would do my best to stick to her recipe minus all the pork meat.

While I prepared the pozole now and then I would get flash backs to my childhood home. As the pozole simmered and the scents filled the kitchen my excitement grew. It has been a really long time since I last ate pozole. A taste of the broth and my heart fluttered. Perhaps it wouldn’t win awards but this pozole tasted great to me and most importantly made me feel like I was home. My heart and stomach were filled with joy.

Chicken Pozole Rojo 

broth:
1 whole chicken, quartered and skinned if desired
1 medium onion, peeled
enough water to cover chicken, I used about 10 cups

1. Boil the chicken until the meat is soft and falling apart. Drain reserving the meat and broth in separate containers. In total you should have 8 cups of broth to use. Set aside while you prepare the pozole sauce base.

chile and pozole base:
3 guajillo
3 pasilla
3 ancho
2 arbol, I added them for extra heat
4 garlic cloves
1 medium onion, peeled and halved
1 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large dried bay leaf
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
salt to taste

1 medium can of Mexican hominy or maiz pozolero blanco, drained

topping options:
shredded white cabbage
slice radishes
lime, I used lemons
finely chopped onion
cilantro
avocado
crema or Mexican sour cream
salsa or hot sauce of choice
tostadas to serve on the side

1. Over a comal or griddle toast the chiles but careful not to burn them. Also toast the garlic and onion for 5 minutes. Remove from comal and allow to cool.

2. Once cooled place the chiles, garlic, onion and 1 tsp salt into a blender. You will need to add a tablespoon or two of water to help blend into smooth sauce. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and discard seeds and any remaining chunks.

3. In a large pot heat the oil, once warm add the chile sauce and cook for a few minutes. Add the drained hominy, bay leaf, oregano and salt. Next gently pour the drained chicken broth, in total it was 8 cups of broth, give the soup a good mix. Allow to simmer for an hour over medium low heat and covered. While the soup is simmering remove the meat from the boiled chicken, discarding bones and skins. Shred the chicken meat then add to the simmering pozole. Continue simmering until ready to serve.

Serve topped with any or all of the suggested toppings.

soooooo i socialised with ex work mates and had quarter of a chicken burger like a rebel, but I will be around tomorrow because once again i have no job to go to so apart from tidying and stopping myself from eating every piece of food i can find I shall be here to bring you your daily dose of angst. 

I may also work on my short trip tomorrow and a spec dw script because why the hell not? I have the time.

I’m so frustrated with trying to figure out Mav’s diet. He’s really uninterested in kibble, we tried him on all these different brands, mixing stuff in, even some wet food the vet suggested. This morning I tried him on quartered chicken turkey throat and cooked egg (his vet suggested adding cooked egg into every meal for protein) and I don’t think he even realized it was food. He licked it and then ignored it. I tried closing him in his crate with it so he’d had to pay attention to it and he just took a nap. I’ve never had a dog this uninterested in food (even with training treats don’t work as rewards) and I don’t really know what to do from here?

Ivar update!

My little furry potato is growing like a weed. He’s 16 pounds at 9 weeks, and is still eating an absurd amount of food each day. I actually got excited when I saw chicken quarters on sale and have spent well over $100.00 on food for Ivar in the last two weeks alone (this includes things like tripe, beef liver, salmon, and tuna).

He also had his first vet visit so we could have his microchip placed. He did great and everyone at the office adored him.

Crate training is still going very slowly, as Ivar throws a fit as soon as he realizes that his freedom has been restricted. He prefers sleeping at my feet or on the couch with his head against my thigh.

We spent some time in the woods with my partner, Danny, whom Ivar is (obviously) smitten with. Danny has been a fantastic help in socializing Ivar and getting him desensitized to things such as having his paws, ears, and tail touched, which will be a big help later on at vet appointments!

So far, Ivar has taken very well to being out and about in public, and since we’ve put the harness on him, the pulling has stopped - to the extent that he now dawdles along behind me and I have to coax him along to keep pace. That will likely change as he gets older and bolder.

Trio of miniature spaghetti, fettuccine Alfredo with broccoli and chicken, and garlic bread. Entirely handmade- including plates and bread basket!

July 2013. polymer clay, TLS, baking powder, pastels, paint, glaze, tissue paper, pluffy clay, wire, basket material stuff (I still can’t remember what it’s called!)

Sorry for the lack of updates!! I’ve just been so busy getting a bearing on things and haven’t had the time to fully stock up my fridge to make pretty food to share with you guys :)

Today I made Guilin Chili Chicken stir fry! What you will need:

  • Soy sauce
  • Guilin chili sauce (I finally found an asian market here in Barcelona and it has been a life saver!!!!)
  • Protein of choice
  • Vegetables of choice
  • Peanuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Rice!!

This was sooo simple you guys, honestly. The veggies I chose to use were carrot, tomato, green beans, peas, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, broccoli, and onion. For protein I used chicken but of course anything can be used! Pork, beef, tofu, shrimp, you name it.

First I cooked the chicken in a pan, seasoning with salt. Afterwards I removed the chicken and in the same pan I added one clove of minced garlic and peanuts. Then I added and cooked down all the vegetables. When they were almost done I added about half a tablespoon of soy sauce and one table spoon of guilin chili sauce. Then I added chicken, a quarter cup of water, stirred everything together to mix, and covered with a lid for about 3-5 minutes to let things thicken up. Afterwards I served it with some basmati rice but you can use quinoa, brown rice, etc. :-) It was enough food to last me two meals!