Monthly Archives: January 2016

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$25 One Week, Low Carb Dollar Tree Menu for One Episode 2

Last weekend, I was so inspired by all of the traffic to my page, that I decided to test out another $25 menu with Dollar Tree foods. After reviewing some feedback from readers, though, it seems not everyone has a Dollar Tree, so I’ve been thinking about other stores as well. Here in Birmingham area, we have Publix, Winn-Dixie (Which is owned by BiLo, which would probably have similar deals), Aldi, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Wal-Mart, Target, Earth Fare, and a slew of small, locally-owned places which I LOVE. We also have Dollar General and Fred’s, and I may be missing a few. I’m going to do a Kroger menu the next time I go over into Georgia for a lottery ticket and I hit up Kroger while I’m there. So, as time goes by, I’m planning assorted $25 menus and some stores may present more of a challenge than others.

This week, I went and bought these items, and I’m going to talk about a few of them, but I’m not going into depth about each. Seriously, DT has one block of Pepper Jack cheese, and it is six ounces, so if I say “Pepper Jack cheese”, then I bought the only one they had.
Yes, I know with certain items, there are better LC choices, but remember, we are on an extremely tight budget and buying the $1 package for a reason. Here is the list:

John Morrell smoked sausage (this is a little carby, but it’s divided up between two meals), I bought the larger package. They have two varieties, one with tiny wieners and one with big sausages. Go for the bigger sausage.
Two packages of country ham bits: There are two types of country ham there, a 3 oz pack of slices, but the ends and pieces package has 5+ oz for the same price.
Two cans of Libby’s green beans: The green beans are actually .79 each, so if you want to buy 3, you will be slightly over $25. There are also regular coupons for these and DT does take coupons.
2 dozen eggs: YMMV here. Occasionally, they have dozen egg sizes. I’ve seen 8 packs and 6 packs before, even just last week with last week’s menu.
A 6oz tub of cream cheese: I needed sour cream, but after looking at the ingredients list on the sour cream, it is “sour creme” and I opted for the smaller tub of cream cheese. More on this later.
Bag of frozen peppers and onions
Bag of frozen cauliflower/broccoli “Winter Mix”
1 jar of jalapenos
1 jar of green olives
Small jar of salsa
A jar of minced garlic
Can of Ro-tel
2 pouches of shredded mozzarella
A pouch of crumbled feta
One block of pepper jack cheese
One frozen sausage chub (12 oz btw)
A package of frozen salad shrimp
2 packages of frozen chicken thighs
A package of pepperoni (they have a couple of brands, get the biggest one)
One can of chopped clams (These have sugar on the ingredients list, but so did 80% of the ones I looked at in other stores, so if this bothers you, get a pack of frozen fish, instead or two packs of salad shrimp.)

From last week, you may have some leftover pickles, black olives, rinaldi sauce, and mayo.
Remember, each meal is designed on the premise that you take half for lunch the next day. Do your own nutritional counts. And hopefully you have some saved bacon fat and/or butter.

I cooked most of this on Sunday and finished up before I left for work on Monday, so I’m going by that in steps. I’ll try to put it in a good order for those of you who are afraid of leftovers, but we had a really intense schedule this week, and I was thankful for all of the dishes to choose from that were simple, heat and eat things.

Sunday A.M.: Put the chicken thighs in a pot, cover with water, and bring to a simmer for about an hour. Take them out, pick the meat off and refrigerate it, and toss the bones back in the water. Be VERY careful when you pull off the skin and set it aside in big pieces. Let the bones simmer all day with a lid on and it will make a nice stock for our seafood chowder. Refrigerate the stock after straining it if you don’t make your soup right away.

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Take the cream cheese and put it in a microwavable bowl. I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t know if this would work, but it did. I wanted sour cream for 3 recipes, but I didn’t like the looks of their sour cream. I nuked the cream cheese till it was stirrable, then I whisked in about 3-4 tablespoons of water until it was the consistency of a combo of sour cream/thick yogurt. It really turned out well, and was enough for what I needed.

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Put 7 eggs on to boil. Snacks this week will be deviled eggs, pickles, and olives. To make your deviled eggs, use 3-4 T of mayo, S&P, and a little diced pickle if you want.

Add a little bacon fat to a skillet and heat it up. Carefully place the flat pieces of chicken skin in the fat, salt and pepper them, and fry them in the fat till they are crispy, turning occasionally. You will never waste perfectly good chicken skin again.

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Breakfast for the week:

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Slice the sausage chub into 8 patties and cook them. Set one aside and put the other 7 in a container for breakfast. I used the sausage fat to scramble 7 eggs and put them in the same container. You can add half a cup of thawed, frozen pepper mix if you want. Breakfast for the week is done. I add mayo to my eggs every day. I like it. The squirt bottle of Calders brand mayo from the Dollar Tree is small, but has no added sugar.

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Sunday:
Southern style ham and green beans

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Put both cans of the green beans in a decent sized pot, open the two packs of ham and break the pieces up, add some pepper (The ham is pretty salty, so I skipped the salt). You can take the pepper mix here and pick out some of the onions if you want and add them, but that was a PITA, so I gave up and just went outside and foraged a few onions, chopped them, and tossed them in. I’d say it was about 1/2 a cup. Simmer this on the stove until the liquid has practically all cooked out and the green beans have no nutrition left. Pick out most of the ham, then divide the green beans in half. You need one half for a different meal (I probably would have bought that third can of green beans, because these are so good). Add the ham back in and split the whole thing between two dishes, or just put half the ham on your plate and the other half in a dish for the next lunch. Set aside a couple of good sized pieces of ham to put on your pizza (along with that one sausage patty) later this week. This one looks kind of gross but it tastes good, so, whatever.

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Monday:
Crustless pizza

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Get two round cake pans and line them with parchment paper. Add 1/4 cup of the leftover Rinaldi sauce to each pan and spread it around.

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Top each with 1/4 cup of thawed pepper mixture, sliced olives, chop the ham and the sausage patty you saved earlier and add them, and chop up the pepperoni, dividing it between the pans. Put a pouch of mozzarella on each one and bake at 425 for about 10 minutes, till the cheese has melted and it looks like this:

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Tuesday:
Mexican chicken

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Take half of the chicken you picked off the thighs (half should be able 2 cups), give it a rough chop, and put it into a bowl. Drain the liquid from the rotel, set aside half a cup, and add the rest to the bowl. Put in about half of the cream cheese mix that we discussed above, a teaspoon or so of minced garlic, chop a few of the jalapenos, and add 1/4 cup of thawed, frozen pepper mix. Stir this all together and put it in a baking dish, then shred about 2/3 of the pepper jack cheese and put it on top. Bake at 350 for 20 mins or till hot and the cheese is bubbly. While your cheese grater is out, grate the other 1/3 of the cheese, but set it aside with the Ro-tel. That way, you only have to wash your cheese grater once. Divide the cooked dish in half, and top with salsa and jalapenos if you want. If you feel like you need a veggie side, heat up 1/2 cup or so of the broccoli from the frozen mix and top with butter. Leave the cauliflower in the bag. You will need it later.

Wednesday:
Smoked sausage and green beans

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Slice the JM sausages and  cook them in your skillet till they are hot and heat half the leftover green beans to go with them. Put half the sausages in a dish with the rest of the beans to have later.

Thursday:
Seafood chowder

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Take that chicken broth you made (There should be about two cups) and heat it back up on med-low. Before it gets really hot, put a cup in a bowl and carefully whisk in most of the cream cheese mix. Leave about 1-2 Tablespoons in the container, but this is going to make your soup nice and creamy. To this, even more carefully, whisk in two raw egg yolks till you can’t see pieces of yolk in it. You can save the whites for tomorrow if you want. While the broth is heating up, pick out 2 cups of cauliflower from the frozen mix, thaw it out a little, and give it a few chops. Add this to your broth. I added some chopped, wild onions, too. Once the cauliflower is hot, add the clams, juice and all. (If you bought fish, skip this step and instead, cook the fist in a skillet, chop it up and add it at the end). Now, add the creamy liquid and whisk it until it thickens a bit. The egg yolks are what will thicken this up. Don’t forget S&P.
Once this is hot, stir in the thawed, cooked salad shrimp.

This is really great as leftovers, but soup usually is.

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Friday:
Three egg juevos rancheros omelets

You will have six eggs left. Make your omelets and fill them with the Ro-tel you set aside, about 1/4 cup each of the frozen pepper mix, and half each of the leftover pepper jack cheese. Top with salsa and peppers. There really is a method to my madness.

If you don’t know how to make omelets, check youtube. Mine are never extremely pretty, but always tasty. This one has the two egg whites added to it from when I used the yolks for soup.

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Saturday:
Mediterranean chicken with olives and feta

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Take the rest of the chicken, give it a rough chop, add some sliced olives (both black and green if you still have any black), add the last bit of the cream cheese mix you made (It’s sort of yogurty) a teaspoon of minced garlic, and the feta cheese. Always remember to salt and pepper.

I think this tastes really good, but I LOVE feta cheese. However, it smells horrible. Like, really horrible, like sweaty socks. If you’re sensitive to smells, you should make a double batch of Mexican chicken or something. I took some to work with a side of frozen winter mix.

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If you cook most of this on Sunday, you can mix and match throughout the week so you’re not eating the same thing twice in a row. That’s what I did with this menu. The only time consuming bit was making the chicken stock, and that was just a pot simmering on the back of the stove all day.

There are less expensive things you can do, but it involves certain strategies like having available freezer space, watching sales, sometimes shopping different stores, eating eggs until you’re sick of them, and maybe having less of a variety in your meals. We are going to cover those things as time goes by. Low carb should always be affordable and easy, esp if you have limited funds and limited time, but your good health should never have to be sacrificed in the name of cost.

n’t forget to fFind me on Facebook  set a bookmark, or subscribe to my emails in the upper right corner. I’m really looking forward to making, testing, and sharing more of these menus, and extreme budget recipes really are one of my passions.

Wow!

I just wanted to take a minute and talk about blogging. I’ve had this site up for a while, and write something here and there, but lately, it just seems like I’ve lost my muse. One thing, though, that I am always, always, passionate about, is eating well for less. See, I love good food. I love budget ideas, I love helping people, and I really love grocery stores and ads. It is really pretty easy to eat well on a tight budget and still eat for your health.

My last post blew this blog up!

Honestly, I knew it would be popular, but I had no idea just HOW popular. That’s where you guys all come in. I had such a fun weekend over the Dollar Tree post that I made up a whole new seven-day menu and that’s what I’m eating this week on the test run. So, that will go up, probably Sunday night. In the meantime, I’m learning a little more about blogging.

For example, I ran out of server space and had to call my host to buy more. That was TOTALLY unexpected! Now I have multiple people who care for me and my family insisting that I look into methods of monetizing. I feel a little overwhelmed, but I love learning new things, and that’s what I’m doing.

Up until this point, blogging has been kind of boring. I’m sure that’s why so many bow out over time, and why I’ve been sporadic about it. But for me, knowing that there are people out there who are reading my material and being helped by it(!!!) is huge and an incredible motivator. I have SO many things I want to share about eating well for less that I can’t even get all the words out at once.

So, maybe I’ve found my muse.
It’s you people.

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Budget Low Carb $25 Seven Day, Three Meals Daily Dollar Tree Menu for One

Pretend you’re broke, or maybe you are. Maybe you paid all your bills this week and you’re left with $50. All you have in your fridge is some butter or a saved jar of bacon fat, a few packets of leftover soy sauce from the Chinese restaurant, and some salt and pepper. Do you run out and grab a few pounds of rice and beans and some Ramen or do you do your best to make yourself up a menu that fits your low carb lifestyle? My hope for you is that you pick the latter choice. I also hope this blog entry helps inspire you to see that low cost low carbing is possible.

That being said, this is a menu for one. It will make three meals a day for a week, based on the idea that you eat half for dinner and save the other half for lunch the next day. The recipes could be doubled, or they could be shared as just dinners with a second person. Personally, I found, as I cooked and ate the food, that it was more than I needed to satisfy my hunger. In fact, I bought and set aside particular items to have as snacks, and didn’t eat them. You also need access to a dollar tree that sells cooler/frozen foods, the bigger the selection, the  better. These are items that are sold in the Dollar Tree stores around Birmingham, and they sell similar items in other places.

Before I start, I want to say a couple of things.

I picked Dollar Tree for a few reasons. Out of curiosity, because there are some cool, LC items you can get there, and because sometimes when you’re broke, you don’t have the gas money for going to three or four stores to buy the sale items there. That’s how broke I’ve been.

This is not a Paleo menu, it is not an organic menu, and it is not a gourmet menu. There may even be some gluten in there somewhere. There are processed meats. Nothing is fresh. It’s a menu designed to get someone through a week on a $25 budget. If you need certain things, like coffee, creamer, and sweetener, you can find those at the Dollar Tree, but the creamer won’t be sugar free. They do sell half n half, which isn’t ideal because of the milk, but doesn’t have sugar. So, if you have to have those things, throw in three extra bucks.

The recipes are simple, easy to cook, and taste good.
Snacks are pork rinds, sunflower seeds, olives, pickles, and string cheese.
You could make all of these on Sunday if you wanted, and then package them for the week.

Some of them will make leftovers, not a huge amount, but I actually ate this exact food for a week and I didn’t go hungry. I didn’t even need snacks most days. It all depends on your appetite. There will also be some items that you have left in your pantry to roll over into your next week’s menu.

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I don’t mind foraging some, so just for funsies, I went outside and cut a handful of those wild onions that grow everywhere to add to some of the recipes for bulk and for some mild, onion flavor. I like them, and they were free. However! Unless you know for certain that you have onions, don’t try this at home.

Please do your own nutritional counts.

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My grocery purchases were these:

One bag of pork rinds
Two bags of frozen veggie mix
One bag of frozen peppers and onions
One bag of frozen spinach
One package of frozen tilapia filets
One chub of frozen breakfast sausage
One two pack of frozen chicken legs
Two 3 oz packages of shredded mozzarella (Make sure it’s real cheese, not the fake stuff)
One 3 oz package of shredded cheddar (again, real)
One three pack of string cheese
3 half dozen cartons of eggs

A bottle of real mayonnaise
A package of walnuts
A jar of pickles
A can of mackerel
A can of tuna
A bag of shelled sunflower seeds
A jar of Rinaldi pizza sauce (read your labels! Rinaldi does not have added sugar.)
A shaker of parmesan (get the smaller one, the big can is “cheese product”)
A can of black olives
A package of pepperoni slices

Sunday:

Breakfast first.
You want your breakfast sausage, a six pack of eggs, and a cup of the frozen pepper mix.
Brown the sausage and scramble the eggs with the peppers, the stir it all together and keep it in a bowl. Dip some out each morning and heat it up for breakfast. Easy.

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Next up: Tuna salad

Take your tuna, add 3 Tablespoons of mayo, add some cut up pickles, the package of walnuts, and salt and pepper. Boil two eggs.

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Cook about two cups of the veggie mix you picked (these are variable, depending on your selection) I used the California blend because it was the only broccoli/cauli combo they had, then I picked out the carrots. Put half the tuna, one egg, and half the veggies for dinner, and pack the other half for tomorrow.

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Monday:
Spinach Florentine

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Preheat oven to 400.
Thaw the whole package of spinach, put it in a mixing bowl with about 1/4 cup of mayo and 1/4 cup of parmesan, plus some salt and pepper. Put it in a small baking dish and crack four eggs on top. Salt and pepper the eggs, put in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes. You could shorten the baking time to 10-12 minutes if you wished for a runny yolk, but I like my eggs yolks firm. Serve half per meal for two separate meals. I had some sunflower seeds for a snack.

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Tuesday
Stir Fry

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There will probably be two small tilapia fillets in the package of fish. Cook them in a skillet and set them aside. If you have some bacon fat or a little butter, add that and some salt and pepper and dump half the bag of stir fry mix, minus about a half cup, into the pan and cook it till the veggies are soft and no longer frozen. Split it between two dishes, add a string cheese for a little extra protein and fat, and enjoy.

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Wednesday
Pizza cups
This was, by far, my favorite, and it made three meals worth of food.

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Preheat oven to 350
Take the pepperoni (notice that I bought the large, sandwich sized, slices. This is important.) and put one in each well of a twelve cup muffin tin. Add a Tablespoon or so of the Rinaldi pizza sauce to the top of each one. If there were extra pepperonis, chop them up and add a few to each up. Slice a few olives and add to each cup, I added some wild onions, you could get that bag of frozen pepper mix and add a few bits of chopped pepper and onion from it here. Put a little parmesan on them and top with the shredded mozzarella and bake for 15 or so minutes till they look right. And by right, I mean like this. Make a cup of your frozen veggies to eat with them.

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Thursday
Fish croquettes

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Open the fish and drain the liquid. I don’t bother with picking out the bones.
Empty the fish into a big bowl. Add the bag of shredded cheddar (the dollar tree bags are 3-4 ounce sized), add two eggs, about 1/3 cup of mayo, crush enough pork rinds finely to equal half a cup of crumbs, salt and pepper to taste, and I included about half a cup of wild onions. Mix it all together and shape the mix into three or four patties and cook them in a skillet till they have a nice crust on one side, then flip and do the same on the other side. I used a little bacon grease with these.

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When these were finished, I tossed a cup of frozen veggies into the skillet and cooked them in the leftover fat. Remember to divide your meal into two dishes.

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Friday
Peppers and eggs

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This recipe is as simple as it sounds. You heat and cook the peppers in your skillet, then break the eggs in and scramble them together. I learned this from a youtube show about depression era cooking.

Saturday
Chicken soup

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Take the two pack of chicken legs and put them in a medium pot first thing in the morning. Cover them with water and boil for maybe an hour, take them out, take the meat off the bones and refrigerate it, beak the bones in half and put them back in the water and simmer them all day on low with the lid on. It won’t be an extremely rich chicken broth, but it will make a nice enough soup broth. After 3-4 hours, strain it to get any bone pieces out, add the chicken back in, add about 1/3 cup of that pizza sauce for some flavor, then add about 2-3 cups of whatever vegetables you have left from the frozen veggies you’ve been eating on all week. Season with salt and pepper, and you have enough soup to last a couple more meals.

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By now, you may still have a few leftovers, like olives, pickles, mayo, frozen peppers, parmesan, pizza sauce, and sunflower seeds. You can roll these over into a few other items for the next week, and then you can buy a few other things, like garlic powder, a little bottle of cooking oil, etc. As you work these menus, you will find that you have more you can use per week, and as a result, have more variety.