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.
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.
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.
Breakfast for the week:
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.
Southern style ham and green beans
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.
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.
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:
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.
Smoked sausage and green beans
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.
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.
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.
Mediterranean chicken with olives and feta
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.
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.