Friday, February 28, 2014

Pork Chops, and the Weekly Specials with Mary Anne

IGA has family packs of sirloin pork chops for 99 cents a pound. Select varieties of chunk cheese are $2.99 a pound (which is $1.50 for eight ounces, a common size for chunk cheeses). Select varieties of shredded cheese are three eight ounce packages for $5.00, or $1.67 for eight ounces or $3.34 per pound. “Bunched” broccoli and brunched cauliflower are both two for $4.00 or $2.00 each. I’m not sure what “bunched” means, and whether it’s a good price depends on how big they are. Tomatoes on the Vine are $1.99 a pound. IGA pasta is 88 cents a pound and 24-ounce cans of IGA pasta sauce are 88 cents each. These prices are good through next Sunday, March 2.

Marsh has strawberries, three one-pound boxes for $5.00, or $1.67 a pound. Not great, but better than they have been. Green or white asparagus (white asparagus is just green asparagus that was kept covered while it was growing so it didn’t turn green) is $1.77 a pound. Ground chuck is $2.79 a pound in the family packs. Whole boneless pork loins are $1.99 a pound. They average about six to nine pounds each, and Marsh will slice them for you for free. Sugardale hams are advertised for 69 cents a pound, but they were out of them last week and not giving rain checks, so don’t make a special trip without calling first. “Vine ripe” or Roma tomatoes are $1.49 a pound. 32-ounce (two pound) bags of frozen vegetables (the picture showed peas and green beans) are two for $5.00, or $2.50 each, or $1.25 a pound. These prices are good through next Wednesday, March 5.

Aldi’s best buys are, as usual, on produce. Avocados are 69 cents each. Roma tomatoes are 99 cents for 20 ounces, or 80 cents a pound. Grapefruit are 39 cents each. Bananas are 44 cents a pound. Cantaloupe are $1.89 each. If you like Mexican food, you might want to check out their ad at They have a lot of things advertised for making Mexican food, but I don’t know how good the prices for most things are. Just because they’re in the ad doesn’t mean that the price is anything special. These prices are good through next Tuesday, March 4.

Kroger has “medium size” fresh pineapple ten for $10.00, or $1.00 each. Asparagus is $1.28 a pound. Sour cream is ten 16 ounce (pint) cartons for $10.00, or $1.00 each. These prices are good through next Wednesday, March 5.

The pork chops are a good price this week, and they’re one of my favorite foods, so let’s work with them again. Don’t forget the other recipes for pork chops that have been posted here, too - 

And hints for what goes well with pork -

Herbs and Spices

Sometimes I regret saying that I wouldn’t include “fillers” like potatoes and rice and such in my menus. Not because they’re cheap and make it easier to come up with complete meals at $1.50 or less per serving (which of course they are and they do), but because they go so well with some things. This recipe for CREAMY HERBED PORK CHOPS is an example. With all that gravy, mashed potatoes or rice would be great with it. But it’s not necessary! But it would be good. Sigh. 

Four pork chops plus the gravy should come to about $3.20. Serve it with a pound of the frozen peas ($1.25), a few sliced Roma tomatoes for color (60 cents for twelve ounces), and half a cantaloupe for dessert (95 cents) and you’ve got a big meal for $6.00, or $1.50 per person. Or have the pork chops and gravy plus a pound and a half of asparagus ($1.95 – you may need less, depending on how much of the stem you have to cut off), half a pound of sliced Roma tomatoes (40 cents) and half a pineapple (50 cents) for $6.05, which is just a nickel over my goal of $6.00 to serve four people. Use COPYCAT MONTREAL STEAK SEASONING to help keep the cost down - and so you don't have to buy a big jar of the seasoning when you just need a teaspoon. You can make a lot of different seasoning blends from just a few basic herbs and spices and really cut back on what you spend for seasonings.

I don’t cook with flour or breadcrumbs, so when I want to bread something I usually use either fine pork rind crumbs (I give them a whirl in my food processor until they’re very fine, though you could probably just put them in a plastic bag and roll them with a rolling pin. If you don’t have a rolling pin, a large round bottle works well. A wine bottle is just about the right size. It’s best if it’s full. If not, fill it with water so it has the extra weight. Just make sure it’s tightly corked! This works for making pie crust, too. Use ice water in the bottle, or chilled wine, when making pie crust. The chill of the bottle will help make your pie crust flaky.) or almond flour or coconut flour or just use all cheese. PARMESAN AND SAGE CRUSTED PORK CHOPS uses the traditional/normal way of breading pork chops with flour and bread crumbs, and adds some parmesan cheese to the mixture. The original recipe makes a point of using the real imported Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and fresh sage, but regular parmesan and dried sage will work, too, and cost a lot less.

The pork chops themselves are $2.00, and another 40 cents for the cheese (at Aldi, five ounces for $1.99), so let’s say $3.00 total for the four chops with breading and all. Cook a package of broccoli until it’s not quite done and then finish it off in the skillet, where it should pick up all the pan juices and nice crusty bits from the bottom of the skillet. I’m assuming you’ll use the whole package, though I don’t know how big the packages of “bunched” broccoli are. Finish up with either half a cantaloupe (95 cents) or a pineapple ($1.00). Or have some sliced tomatoes with the pork chops and broccoli instead of having fruit for dessert. Or have a pound and a half of asparagus instead of the broccoli. Or a pound of the frozen veggies instead of the broccoli, and you can have tomatoes with the meal and still have fruit for dessert.

Another way to fry pork chops or other meat is to coat the meat with mustard and let the mustard act as the “glue” that makes the flour stick to the meat, instead of using egg to do that. This recipe for SPICY MUSTARD PORK CHOPS does that.  This will come to about $2.75 or so, maybe a bit less depending on how much the flour costs. For some reason, I’m thinking a green salad would go well with this. How about half a head of iceberg lettuce, a tomato or two, some bits of broccoli and cauliflower, and some ranch dressing. Or whatever kind of dressing you prefer. A homemade oil and vinegar dressing with some extra mustard would be good. The salad should run about $1.00. Pick one of the frozen veggies from Marsh, for $1.25 for a pound. Green beans go well with pork, though I don’t much care for the taste of frozen green beans. That brings us to $5.00 for the pork chops, salad and a hot vegetable. You could leave it at that and have an extra dollar to spend on another meal sometime, or you could add half a cantaloupe (95 cents) or a whole pineapple ($1.00).

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