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Lazy Lunch for Less Than $1.50

February 14th, 2015 at 08:24 pm

DH is out of town, which means lots of salads & sandwiches for me. I like them, and I LOVE the fact that they result in little cleanup work.

When he leaves, I buy a 6-pack of romaine hearts and other salad fixings (other veggies, tuna, dressing, etc) so that I know I can always throw together a quick salad even when I come home from work tired and not wanting to cook.

Today's lunch was salad (romaine heart + tomato + yogurt caesar dressing) plus a whole grain bread round with margarine & a nice dollop of Sarabeth's.

No protein (except for the teeny amount in the yogurt dressing) because I had a salmon patty for breakfast, I'll grab a handful of raw almonds for an afternoon snack, and I'll probably have sardines for dinner.

As you can see, I'm not a big meal planner other than to make sure I have things on hand that fit with my lazy home "cook" (or perhaps I should say little or NO cook) mindset.

Eating economical and healthy foods at home can be done without much work and with just a bit of advance planning, even if cooking is not your "thing"!

Home Cooking and Color

January 27th, 2015 at 12:56 am

Recently there was a post by a newer SA member who is trying to do more home cooking. It included some comments made by her children about the appearance of the food. Some of you suggested that adding fruits or veggies are a great way to brighten up a dish. I decided to post these photos of our dinner tonight as a form of encouragement to her.

There are a lot of gourmet cooks on this site (Lucky Robin, ceejay, Disney Steve, and Brooklyn Girl come immediately to mind.) I am NOT like them!

I have stated many times that I am a "lazy cook." I can do a big blow out fancy meal occasionally when the mood strikes me or I feel obligated, and I do know how to handle a knife and follow a recipe, but really I don't want to spend a ton of time in the kitchen.

But we eat at home all the time. (Thank goodness DH likes to cook.) In the last month, we went out to eat exactly once.

I decided to share some photos to show how a bit of color can perk up a dish prepared by a lazy, non-gourmet home cook like me.

This is one of our favorite winter dishes, called nikujaga. It's braised meat and potatoes with other veggies (in this case onions, carrots, and edamame ... the recipe I use calls for green peas but I had an open bag of edamame in the freezer I wanted to use up).

3 photos:
1. straight out of the pot
2. picked out the carrots & edamame (to show it without color), which messed up the bowl
3. sprinkled the carrots & edamame back on top (bowl is still messed up but it shows what it would look like with even more orange & green, or if the veggies were used as a garnish on top of a bland colored dish).

Doesn't a bit of color make a difference? Not only does it improve the nutrition of the dish, I think it looks so much more appetizing.

So, there you have it. Adding a bit of color to your home cooking, even if you're far from being a master chef, really can make a difference.

Don't give up on your efforts to cook at home!

Black Friday

November 29th, 2014 at 03:31 am

We got our Target gift cards at a 10% discount this morning. Smile

I thought that would be our only Black Friday shopping but DH went to Dick's and purchased a dozen golf balls for $5. Excellent deal on something he buys regularly! These balls aren't one of his preferred brands, but he'll save them for times when the odds of losing a ball to a water hazard is high.

Halloween Sure is Fun

November 1st, 2014 at 05:44 pm

We potlucked out on the sidewalk with neighbors. That has become an annual tradition. It's low-key with good but not fancy food, so no one spends any more than they normally would for dinner, and we really have fun.

I spent $22 on treats. We had about 120 kids come by. There is nothing left over. I ate exactly ONE treat. Big Grin

Green Onion Re-Growing Success

March 3rd, 2014 at 04:55 pm

I took another stab at re-growing green onions in a cup with water after reading the information again and figuring out what I had done wrong the first time. My mistake was treating them too delicately,like herbs (cutting off a green stalk here & there).

Instead, what I needed to do was just whack the entire thing off near the top of the white portion, and then place the root end in a cup with a bit of water. Voila - regrowth starts right away.

Where we live green onions are 68-cents a bunch which I think is really expensive for something that yields just a handful of garnish. Yes, they are tasty and have nutritional value, and there are some dishes (like noodle soup) that they really elevate, but you can get much more nutritional bang for your buck buying other veggies so we very rarely bought them. Now they are back on the menu! As you can see, all the space you need is enough for a glass or two. We decided to go with 2 bunches so we'd always have plenty grown out on hand.

P.S. - I've heard that they lose flavor after a couple re-growths, but still this is a way to stretch a bunch 2-3 times over.

Ordering from Seafood/Meat/Deli Counter - Wish I'dThought of This Sooner

October 5th, 2013 at 07:05 pm

When I order something by weight from the seafood/meat/deli counter, the server ALWAYS goes over a little and asks if it's OK. While I KNOW that this is a way to increase their sales, most time I just say "OK" (unless it's a really expensive item in which case I ask them to put some back). Surely I'm not the only one who is a bit wimpy this way?

Well, today I decided to take a different approach when ordering some hamburger, because I really didn't want any extra. I asked for "$3 worth." Low & behold, just a tad under at $2.95!!! This will be my approach from now on. I know that for some items like a slice off of a fillet of fish, it is not possible to get it exactly right, but for something like hamburger or shrimp or deli meat, where they can just put a handful or slice back, it's easily doable.

Wish I had thought of this about 20 years sooner! Big Grin

Every Once In A While I Don't Bargain Shop

April 14th, 2013 at 04:20 pm

Usually when I have a purchase to make I take the time to shop around for the best deal. But not always.

On Friday I found out that a neighbor's dog (who we jokingly called the "girlfriend" of our late pooch) was diagnosed with cancer and is going to have an eye removed on Monday. She's a sweet little dog and the owners are fantastic people. To illustrate how kind-hearted they are, when our "boy" died they made a donation to the animal welfare group where I volunteer.

Yesterday I went to a local doggy boutique and bought a stuffed animal and bag of treats, paying full retail price. This morning I wrapped them up and will deliver this afternoon when I take my walk. No time to bargain shop this time.

People and pets first, then money, then things.

The Cost of Fruit (aka the "high" cost of healthy eating)

February 2nd, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Bought 3 kinds of fruit today at the neighborhood HEB.

Bananas: 48 cents per lb ... 80 cents for 5 bananas = 16 cents per banana

Grapefruit: "small" (weighing just under 1 lb each!) @ 3 for $1 = 17 cents for half of a heavy, juicy grapefruit

Organic Gala Apples: $2.98 for a "2-lb" bag that actually weighed 2.3 lbs ... 9 apples in the bag = 33 cents per apple

Bananas are a staple in my house. I like to have one each morning. I chose the grapefruit because it's grapefruit season here in Texas (lucky us). And when organic apples go on sale, I usually buy a bag.

Not gourmet or trendy choices for sure. Pretty basic stuff. But "really expensive" or unhealthy? Naw ...

What does a candy bar cost these days?

Pre-Laundering Stain Treatment

January 31st, 2010 at 02:40 pm

My clothes washer is washing our sheets right now. DH's pillowcase had a small blood stain on it. Before starting the wash I treated the stain as I have for 99.9% of my adult life: I measured my regular laundry detergent in to the cup, got the stained area wet (use COLD water for blood), poured a little bit of detergent on the stain, rubbed the fabric together with my hands, did a quick rinse (again use COLD water), repeated these steps one more time, and the stain was gone.

I have owned one bottle of special stain treatment stuff in my life. I bought it during an especially busy time in my life, thinking it would make doing laundry a bit easier. It didn't. In fact the case could be made that using my tried-and-true method is faster since I don't have to take a special bottle down from the cupboard, open it, close it, and put it back (and remember to buy it when it runs low).

And while I haven't done an ounce-for-ounce comparison, I KNOW that using plan old laundry detergent is cheaper than using a specialized product.

This post is not just about treating laundry stains. It's about questioning whether you really need a specialized product that a manufacturer has done a great job selling you on, or whether an everyday (less expensive) product would work just as well. For the newly-frugal, as you go about your daily routine today, why not ask yourself: "Do I really need this product? Does it really make my life easier and save me enough time to make it worth the extra cost? Or is there another less-expensive product that I already own that could work just as easily and well?"

OTA ("Free") TV Update

July 16th, 2009 at 11:40 pm

Back in May I posted about how we were switching to OTA (over the airwaves) TV:

Text is and Link is

Wanted to do a quick update for anyone interested in doing the same.

While the process of installing the antennae was harder than expected (ended up hiring an installer), we are VERY happy with the switch.

We get 14 channels. 2 are Spanish language channels, 1 is geared towards people in the military (Pentagon channel or something like that), and 1 is just a weather map with recorded weather updates, so really 10 channels that we actually will watch.

Picture quality is crystal-clear. We are extremely happy with the reception. I'm sure the recent conversion to digital helps.

This is what we spent:
$68 for the antenna
$215 for professional antenna installation
$11 for the digital converter box ($50 - $40 government coupon + tax) ... the purchase of a big flat screen that is digital ready is still in the works, but on hold for a bit, so we went ahead and got a converter box.
TOTAL: $294
In addition, the digital converter box has to be plugged in to an electrical outlet, so we are using a bit more electricity that we would be with cable ... I think ... unless cable jacks also use electricity ... I don't know if they do.

If anyone's interested and wants more info, feel free to ask.

No more monthly cable bills ... Yippee!