Friday, June 13, 2014

Ground Beef (and a few raspberries), and the Weekly Specials with Mary Anne

Yogurt, blueberries and almonds -
50 cents

IGA has pineapples for 99 cents each. Tomatoes on the vine are 99 cents a pound. Vidalia onions are 79 cents a pound. And seedless watermelons are $3.89 each.

Aldi has 2-packs of tomatoes for 89 cents, but I don’t know how big those tomatoes are. Blueberries are 99 cents a pint. Strawberries are $1.49 per pound. Regular (73% lean) ground beef is $10.99 for a 5-pound chub, or $2.20 per pound. “Super Dog” hot dogs are $5.99 for a 5-pound package, or $1.20 per pound. Barbecue sauces are 99 cents for 18 ounces. Yellow mustard is 69 cents for 20 ounces. Pickle relish is $1.29 for 16 ounces. Salad dressings are $1.39 for 16 ounces.

Kroger has hot dog and hamburger buns for $1.00 for a package of 8 buns. Milk is two gallons for $5.00, or $2.50 per gallon, limit of two, and only through Sunday the 15th. Cheese is $3.79 for 12- to 16-ounce packages, which is a good price for the 16 ounce packages. Cottage cheese is two pints for $3.00, or $1.50 per pint, or 16 ounces. That’s $2.25 for 24 ounces, which is the size carton I usually of cottage cheese coming in. Ice cream is $1.88 for 48 ounces, or about six ups, but only through Sunday the 15th. Boneless chicken thighs are $1.99 per pound. Raspberries are 97 cents for 6 ounces, or about a cup. Green beans are 99 cents a pound. Cucumbers are two for $1.00, or 50 cents each. Corn on the cob is 10 ears for $3.00, or 30 cents an ear.

There are some pretty good prices here, but I’m having trouble putting them together into menus. I’ll be mostly working with the ground beef for $2.20 in the 5-pound chubs.

A bit of background material, since we’re dealing with a 5-pound chub of ground beef here, and have to keep to around a quarter to a third of pound per person per meal in order to keep the cost of the meal down.

First, a pound of 73% lean ground beef should yield about a cup and a half of cooked meat, assuming that the fat and juices have been drained off and nothing (onions, etc.) has been added. (Thanks to for this info!)

Second, a five pound chub of ground beef is a lot! And since we need to keep it to about a quarter to a third of a pound per person to keep the cost down to where we want it, it will last for several meals. So what do you do with it? Here are some ways to cook large quantities of ground beef (or ground turkey) without spending hours over a hot skillet – in the CROCK POT, in the OVEN, and in WATER. Of course, you can divide the ground beef into 1- or 2-pound packages before it’s cooked, too, but it’s handy to have the cooked meat on hand when you’re running late or you don’t feel like cooking it. Or you can make a whole bunch of hamburger patties, spread them on a cookie sheet to freeze, then stack them in a freezer bag with waxed paper between the patties and freeze them. The waxed paper makes it easier to separate them later, and freezing them first makes them stack flat, which also makes it easier to separate them.

But now to some recipes and menus.

Let’s start with your basic grilled hamburgers. If you make them a quarter of a pound each (do you remember when Quarter Pounders came out and everyone thought they were huge?), the patty itself will cost 55 cents each. I assume you’ll want a bun around that, for about 15 cents, plus another 10 cents or so for the pickles, ketchup, mustard, onion, and lettuce. That brings us to 80 cents for the hamburgers, and another 10 to 20 cents if you want some fresh tomato in it. Let’s skip the tomato, shall we? Unless you can slice it paper thin like they do at the fast food joints. An ear of GRILLED CORN ON THE COB for 30 cents, some COLESLAW or LAUREL’S COLESLAW for 20 cents, and fresh pineapple (about a fifth of a pineapple per person), and it comes to right at $1.50 per person. Or you can have tomato on your burger and skip the pineapple. Or skip the bun and have both the tomato and the pineapple.

My aunt’s friend, Toni, was a great cook. She was also a recipe collector. I think she had even more cookbooks than I do, and that’s saying something! Toni also had a drawer full of recipes she had clipped from the paper, from magazines, from fliers, from friends, and from just about anyone who published, printed or shared recipes. When she died, I was allowed to take whatever recipes I wanted from her drawer. CABBAGE GOULASH is one of the recipes I took from her drawer. I have no idea where she got it. It’s good, though, and so I’m sharing it with you. Using all ground beef instead of half sausage, it comes to just about exactly $6.00, and you get four big servings. That doesn’t leave any room for something to go with it, though, so we’ll have to go over $1.50 per serving. Some carrot sticks would be good with it and wouldn’t cost very much. Be sure to get carrots and cut them into sticks yourself. The “baby carrots” usually cost more than twice as much and, for some reason, seem to disappear faster.

The secret to budget meals built around ground beef is, of course, to add lots of cheaper ingredients to get the bulk you want without the cost of the ground beef. HAMBURGER QUICHE uses eggs, cheese and milk as those extra ingredients. If I were making it, I’d use whipping cream instead of milk, and I’ll give the cost both ways. Using milk, a whole quiche would be about $3.25. With whipping cream, it would be about $3.65. Let’s assume you’re using milk. The quiche would be a great breakfast on its own (and well within the $1.00 per person that I assume, though well over the budget breakfast of 50 cents per person), but it’s not enough for supper. You could serve ice cream and fresh raspberries (one cup of ice cream and a fourth of a package, or a fourth of a cup, of raspberries per person) for another $2.25, which would bring the total to $5.90, or just under $1.50 per person. Or you could make your own YOGURT and serve that with the raspberries for $1.70, and have coleslaw, too, for a total of $6.15, which is just slightly more than $1.50 per person. The raspberries are the expensive part of these options, at 97 cents a carton, so you might want to skip them altogether. I’ve included them because that’s a great price and it’s good to splurge occasionally. Blueberries are 99 cents a pint, so you could have half a cup of them instead of the quarter of a cup of raspberries. Without the raspberries, you could have plain ice cream for dessert (a splurge, but the quiche is pretty light and you might have complaints from the rest of the family about having eggs for supper) and sliced tomatoes to go with the quiche. Arrange the tomatoes nicely on a lettuce leaf and the plate will look a lot fuller. A pound of tomatoes, divided among four of you, will keep the cost to just under $6.00, or under $1.50 per person.

Have you had a chance to attend one of the DOMESTIC DIVA’s demonstrations at the Hub? She demonstrates ways to make cheap, healthy food on Fridays, from noon to about 1:30 or 2:00. Check them out if you have a chance. Her demo of YOGURT making was a big hit a few weeks ago.

Budget Breakfast – Breakfast for 50 Cents per Person

HOMEMADE YOGURT makes a great budget breakfast, and you’ll probably be hearing a lot about it – in smoothies, by itself, or with fruit. Milk is $2.50 a gallon this week, or 16 cents a cup. A cup of plain homemade yogurt is 16 cents, too. Kroger has raspberries 97 cents for 6 ounces this week, or 24 cents for a fourth of a carton. (That’s not very many, but a few go a long way, taste-wise.) That’s 40 cents so far. You could add a few drops of almond extract and a bit of sugar. Or about a tablespoon and a half of sliced almonds. Or you could add half a cup of blueberries for the same price as the raspberries. That's what's pictured at the top of the post. A huge (more than a cup and a half!) breakfast of yogurt, fresh blueberries, and sliced almonds. Yummm!

No comments:

Post a Comment