Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to stretch a chicken

I'm a big fan of the rotisserie chickens sold at the 2 big warehouse clubs. For $4.99, I get a large, juicy, cooked chicken for about the same price it would cost me to buy a raw one and cook it myself.

(Do note that I mean warehouse-club chickens ... other folks tend to sell pigeon-size birds that cost a lot more.)

Even though I bow to convenience, I believe in getting as much mileage out of that chicken as possible. Here's what I did with a recent purchase:

Meal 1 - A few slices of breast meat made sandwiches served with soup.

Meal 2 - Warmed half of the chicken for dinner.

Meal 3 - Warmed the other half of the chicken for dinner. (I didn't add anything, but you could use a bit of BBQ sauce so switch things up.)

Meal 4 - Took the bits of meat off the carcass and made chicken and dumplings.

The carcass went into the freezer -- we'll use that to make stock. Admittedly, your mileage may vary: I'm only feeding 2 folks. (I have friends who need 2 chickens just to feed their crowds ... never mind leftovers.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A 'Twilight Zone' moment

I had a rebate check from my credit card that's partnered with Costco, so decided to get some groceries and stock on some household things.

At the checkout, the clerk said: "That will be $30.27." I looked at the rebate check and saw it was -- $30.27!!!

The clerk was amazed ... said she'd never had anyone come out even before.

She and the lady behind me in line said agreed that I should go buy a lottery ticket -- that this was a good omen.

So, for the heck of it, I did buy a lottery ticket. And I lost. Didn't hit a single number.

So much for omens ...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

That Easter ham is going to cost more

In case you haven't noticed at the grocery, (yeah ... right ...) it's official: meat prices are jumping.

From Bloomberg News:

Meat prices are rising in the U.S. at a faster annual rate than forecast a month ago, as increased demand for pork and beef exports erode inventories and high feed costs discourage livestock producers from expanding herds.

The retail cost of meats will increase 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent this year, including a gain of as much a 7 percent for pork, the most of any major food group, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. Beef prices will rise as much as 5.5 percent, or 1 percentage point more than the government forecast on Feb. 24.

The story blames higher exports and farmers' reluctance to expand production because of higher corn prices.

I've noticed that pork sale prices here have gone up by about 20 cents a pound; chicken's gone up, too. And I fear it may go higher as demand increases.

What to do? I've already cut back: beef is pretty much a fond memory here at the casa de chaos. If I do buy, it's a small piece on markdown that is cooked in something stretchy -- like stir fry.

So, I'm shopping the markdown bin even harder; taking another look at fish; stocking up when I find a good sale; and looking for new places to shop. (Our local international stores occasionally have good meat prices).

We're also doing more meatless meals -- more vegetable soups, more pastas, more pancakes, more eggs. We'll adjust, as usual ...

The story can be found here:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pet food deals

If you have a pet, here's a couple of meal deals for them.
  • The SS 3/13 inserts had a coupon for up to $3 off on a box of Purina One BeyOnd cat food. This sells for around $2.50 in my area, making it free. (If you don't have a cat, please consider donating the food to an animal shelter or pet food pantry.)

  • Iams is running a deal where if you purchase any size dog or cat food, you mail in a rebate form for a free bag (up to 4 lbs) of food. Check for the tearpad at the stores. If they don't have one, go to

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I gulped at the headlines announcing that T-Mobile and AT&T struck a deal ...

I've been a very happy T-Mobile pay-as-you-go cell phone customer for a few years now. Good value, good coverage for my needs. ...

We'll see what AT&T has to offer ... meanwhile, I think it's time to research pay-as-you-go plans again.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Monday: Minnestrone

I was asked if I could post some recipes, so I'll try to make it an occasional Monday thing.

Here's a quick and easy minestrone:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 lb (or 1 bunch) of greens coarsely chopped -- kale, spinach, collard greens or turnip greens.
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can white beans (I use great northern)
1 can diced tomatoes in juice
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups water

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat oil. Add onion and garlic with salt and pepper and cook until onion begins to soften.
Add tomato paste and stir until onion is coated.
Add greens, thyme and red pepper flakes, cook, stirring until greens begin to wilt.
Add beans and tomatoes, including liquid from cans, and the water.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until greens are tender.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with grated Parmesan if desired.

I tend to throw in a bit more garlic and red pepper flakes while it's simmering because we like the soup to be on the spicy side...
If you don't want a lot of greens, feel free to use a half, or even a quarter of a bunch.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy quilting

As a wannabe quilter, I want to wish everyone a happy National Quilting Day!

In honor of the day, the National Quilting Association offers a free quilt project -- this year it's a Log Cabin pattern.

I'll also pass along my favorite site for free quilt-block patterns: (including the one pictured here). (look for the Quilter's Design Board)

Happy quilting!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No coupons for you

Dear Red Plum:

I've finally gotten used to getting my weekly coupon insert in the mail with the grocery ads.

But last week, the thing I always suspected would happen, did happen: I got the inserts, but no coupons.

I called your customer service line (mainly because your e-mail isn't all that user-friendly) and was told that I'd have to take it up with the Postal Service.

OK, I realize you can't send coupon inserts to everyone who asks, but the "it's your problem" attitude bothers me. You have more to lose than I do.

So ... I've decided that if your coupons arrive in this week's inserts, OK. If not .. hey, I can always use your competitors'.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ditched the dish

Well, I did it ... cancelled our satellite TV. So in a day or two, we'll be without paid TV service for the first time in ... er, decades.

Actually, they didn't fight too hard to keep me. Offered $10 off a month for a year, then offered the basic package, which didn't have any of the channels we usually watch.

I think we'll be fine. We'll still get local channels through the antenna (including several local weather channels). Many shows we watch are online, and we have a stockpile of the shows that aren't.

So, I'm looking forward to saving some $$$ ... let the adventure begin.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring forward

Just a reminder .. Daylight Saving Time starts at 2 a.m. Now we all get to lose an hour's sleep!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Free CPR class

I want to pass this on: The Red Cross is offering free 1 -hour CPR classes in 100 communities across the nation on Saturday, March 19.

Check this link to see if the class is offered in your town:

Unfortunately, it's not in my city, but perhaps it's in yours

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

February freebies

Short month, and a short list:

Beneful dog food
Vitamin D chewables
Greek yogurt
Highlites puzzle/stickers
Covergirl foundation
1 Yoplait yogurt
Maggi chicken soup mix
1 Zone Perfect bar
1 20oz Coke
Eon 'Sharp' water

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tuna deal

For those of you who live in the Midwest, there's a good Starkist Tuna coupon deal over at Meijer.

At my store, the 2.6 oz pouches of Chunk Light sell for $1.17. Grab the printable coupon over at Red Plum for 75 cents off 2 pouches and pair it with the Meijer Mealbox coupon for $1 off 2 pouches.

Total cost for 2 pouches: 59 cents!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Our gal has passed on

It's been a sad week here. Our elder cat passed away on Tuesday, nine months into her battle with kidney disease. In the end, things went downhill very quickly, and we had to make the heartbreaking decision to end her distress.

We had nearly 17 years together ... starting with that day at the animal shelter. She introduced herself by bopping me on the forehead as I read her cage tag. I looked up, saw her little clown face, and immediately fell in love...

She had a sweet and gentle spirit. Shy with strangers, but with us, always ready for a snuggle, or to claim an available lap. The past few months, she was patient and trusting as we tried to buy her more time.

I hope that when she crossed the Rainbow Bridge, her sister (who died much too young from the same disease) was there to meet her. And somewhere, they're chasing each other up and down a grand staircase they way they did as kittens ....

Good night sweetie ....