Friday, April 11, 2014

Celebrating Springtime, and Weekly Specials with Mary Anne

IGA has boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.69 a pound, leg quarters for 69 cents a pound, and legs (drumsticks) for 99 cents a pound. The chicken breasts are “previously frozen” so technically you shouldn’t refreeze them, but I always do anyway. Fresh green beans and Red Delicious apples are both ten pounds for $10.00, or a dollar a pound. That’s a particularly good price for the apples. Del Monte canned fruit is ten for $10.00, or a dollar a can, which may or may not be a good price. Frozen vegetables are ten one-pound bags for $10.00, or a dollar a bag, which is a very good price. Pollack fillets are $2.69 a pound, which is a good price for fish. Pollack is a mild white fish. Ground turkey is $1.99 for a one pound roll, as is turkey breakfast sausage. You might want to check the nutritional info. Some ground turkey has a lot of fat in it. The more fat, the more it will cook down and the less cooked meat you’ll have. Two pound (32 ounce) bags of shredded cheese are $5.99, which is $3.00 a pound or $1.50 for eight ounces, so that’s a good price. (I don’t know why I sometimes say that something is a good price. I wouldn’t be listing it here if I thought it wasn’t.) Prices are good through Sunday, April 13.

Marsh has sweet corn, ten ears for $3.00, or 30 cents an ear. Sweet potatoes are 79 cents a pound. Libby’s canned vegetables are 50 cents a can, but you have to buy at least ten items from a list of things. Frozen vegetables are 67 cents for a one pound bag, but only Thursday the 10th through Sunday the 13th. Lots of ham on sale for Easter. Prices start at 98 cents a pound for the Sugardale Prestige Fully cooked Hardwood Smoked Shank Portion, which is a water added product. Indiana Kitchen Heritage House Spiral Sliced Ham Hams are $1.28 a pound, limit of one and you have to buy at least $25 of other stuff. Marsh Honey Gold Half Spiral Sliced Glazed Hams are $10 or $20 off for a whole ham, but they don’t tell you how much they are per pound before the discount. That always makes me suspicious, though I’ve gotten some really good deals that way. You may need to calculate the per pound price yourself. Prices for hams go up to $2.39 a pound, depending on the brand, size, etc. With the exception of the frozen vegetables, all prices are good through Wednesday, April 16.

Aldi has hams on sale for Easter, too. (I guess IGA doesn’t this week because they’ll have new sale prices on Sunday.) Appleton Farms hams (a water added product) vary from 99 cents a pound to $1.69 a pound, depending on whether they are sliced and whether they are shank or butt portion. Eggs are 79 cents a dozen, which is a great price! The ones I bought a couple of weeks ago were $1.59 a dozen. “New low prices” are butter for $2.19 a pound and 99 cents for eight ounces of cream cheese. This may mean these prices will continue for a while. Pineapples are $1.49 each, four pound bags of oranges are $1.99, baby carrots are 69 cents a pound, asparagus is $1.49 a pound, and a ten pound bag of russet potatoes is $1.69, or 17 cents a pound. Strawberries are $1.49 a pound. Canned green beans and corn are 49 cents a can and cream of mushroom soup is 59 cents a can. Prices are good through Tuesday, April 15.

Easter menus aren’t as fixed as Thanksgiving menus. Ham and lamb are both traditional, and some people have roasted chicken or turkey. Here’s what I would probably have for Easter dinner, based on this week’s sales. If you don’t celebrate Easter, this would make a good dinner to celebrate Spring, instead. I’m assuming eight people for dinner.

Sweet potatoes
Asparagus with Hollandaise sauce (don’t worry – it’s easy if you have a blender)
Green beans
Maybe a green salad, but probably not
Strawberry Pavlova or individual strawberry meringues (again, very easy)

Serve the dinner in the kitchen and give each person a full plate, rather than putting the food on the table and letting everyone serve him/herself. Each plate gets a slice of ham, a whole (but cut in half) or half sweet potato that’s already been buttered, and a pile of asparagus with Hollandaise sauce poured over it. The reason for plating in the kitchen is that there’s only about two tablespoons of the Hollandaise sauce per person, which is plenty because it’s so rich, but people might take more than that if they served themselves. If there’s any food left after filling the plates, you could put the extra on the table for seconds. Clear the table, and then serve the dessert. If you’re serving Pavlova, serve it at the table because it looks impressive whole. If you’re serving individual meringues they can be plated in the kitchen.

HAMI’d check the price on the Marsh Honey Gold hams after the $10 or $20 off and see whether it was actually a good price. I’d probably end up with the Sugardale ham for 98 cents a pound, even though it is water added. Figure you get about 12 ounces of meat from each pound of ham (because of the bone). The bones will be about the same size regardless of how big the ham is, so you might as well get a big one and have lots of leftovers. If you get a ten pound ham, you can serve eight ounces of meat (about a cup and a half, if it were cubed) per person and use just barely over half the ham. Let’s assume you’ve got a couple of little kids and say you’ll use half of it. That’s $9.80 for the ham (let’s call it $10.00) and you’ll use half of it, so that’s $5.00 for the ham, plus another 25 cents or so for the cloves, or $5.25 total.

SWEET POTATOES – Six ounces of sweet potato per person would come to three pounds total, or $2.37 (let’s call it $2.40). A tablespoon of butter per person (I like lots of butter on my sweet potatoes!) would run another 55 cents, or a total of $2.95.

ASPARAGUS – Figure three pounds, or $4.50.

HOLLANDAISE SAUCE – Figure 70 cents for the butter and 15 cents for the egg yolks (the other 15 cents are for the whites), or 85 cents total for the sauce. See the recipe below.

GREEN BEANS ALMONDINE – Three pounds of green beans is $3.00, plus 15 cents for the butter and 60 cents for the almonds, or $3.75 altogether.

STRAWBERRY PAVLOVA or INDIVIDUAL STRAWBERRY MERINGUES – The strawberries themselves will cost $1.50. The meringue (whether you make it in one big shell for the Pavlova or in individual shells for the strawberry meringues) will cost about 40 cents (you’re using the whites from the yolks you used for the Hollandaise sauce). The whipped cream filling will cost about $1.60. That’s $3.50 for the Pavlova or $1.90 for the meringues without the whipped cream. See the recipe below.

The total cost of the meal – ham, sweet potatoes, asparagus and Hollandaise sauce, and Strawberry Pavlova – will be about $17.30, or $2.20 per person for eight people. For the ham, sweet potatoes, green beans with almonds, and Strawberry Meringues (no whipped cream), the total cost will be about $14.10, or $1.75. These are generous, adult-size portions. If you’re serving kids, too, it will all go further, and the cost per person will be less.

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