New Year, New Goal…maybe or maybe not???

Being a woman of a certain size, I always want to lose weight for the new year.  Each year I make my goal and then promptly forget about my goal and eat the way I always have…much too much.  And much to much of processed carbs and not the “good” kind.  Sometimes I return to my “normal” eating within a week, sometimes within a few months.  But each year, I break the plan.

So this year, I am going to do something a little different.  I am not going on a diet!  I am just going to eat as close to non processed food as possible.  Will a thrifty person like me throw out all my processed food?  No, I will just eat it until it’s gone and then not replace the processed food.  I will just shop for non processed food and make my own “convenience” food from scratch.  I like to cook, most of the time, so I don’t think this will be too hard for me (she says in smug voice).  It will just take some planning.  I can plan, right?

Since I’ve never been good at keeping this blog up to date, I will start to post what I am eat and cooking on a daily…I mean probably, weekly basis.  We’ll see what happens!!!! Stay tuned…

What do you pack on the road?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am going to my company’s National Conference.  I am DRIVING with 3 other women to cut down the cost.  Airline tickets are super expensive and there are no non-stop flights.  Driving was the answer for us.

This made me think about (of course) traveling food.  When I am scheduled to be in the car for an extended period of time, I always pack something to eat.  With 16 hours in the car, I need to pack several meals.

Why do I pack meals?  If I don’t, I’ll be stopping at a fast food restaurant.  Not a good option.  Not good in the taste department and definitely not good in the health department.  Also, I need to pack items that are easy to eat in the car while driving or while a passenger.

Here are some of the items I routinely pack:

  • Sandwiches

These are always an excellent choice while on the road.  My favorite is peanut butter.  Easy to transport and does not need to be in a cooler.  It’s always my first choice for just me.  But, my husband HATES the smell of peanut butter and cannot have it in the car with him.  When he is going to be in the car with me, I opt for something like: roast beef, chicken salad, tuna salad, ham and cheese, etc.

  • Chicken

I know this sounds weird, but I love to pack oven fried chicken when going on a road trip.  It’s easy to eat.  If you cook the drumsticks only, it’s really a one hand meal.  I put them in a zipper type bag or reusable container with an ice pack and we are good.

  • Calzones

Really a deluxe sandwich, the calzones are a great picnic or on the road food choice.  I normally make linguica and cheese; roast beef, onions and peppers with cheese and the old standby…ham and swiss.

  • Salads

Salads are another great choice, if you’re not going to be driving while eating.  If you are going to stop or switch drivers, salads can be a great choice for picnics and road food.  I love salads with some type of meat: Jerk Chicken Salad, Caesar Chicken Salad, Chef’s Salad or any salad with beans and chicken.  I have also made pasta salads with veggies and meats for many of our road trips.  Great tip:  put the dressing in the bottom of the bowl and make the salad on top.  Once you are ready to eat, just mix.  The lettuce does not get soggy.

That’s the type of “road” food I pack.  Now it’s your turn.  What do you pack for picnics or on road trips?


Pantry or Menu Plan?

photoI have read many frugal blogs and sites.  Many of them rely and support the idea of menu planning for cutting your grocery bill.  Those who are supporters of this practice, say they look at the sale flyers and base their menu on the rock bottom prices.

While this may work for some, it really is not realistic for many.  Why?  Suppose you plan on having Chicken Fajitas for dinner on Tuesday.  Tuesday comes along and you just don’t feel like fajitas.  But maybe you really feel like a pizza.  The menu planning option is too rigid for this type of circumstance.  Or, maybe you made too much pasta one night and have leftovers.  How do you use up those leftovers with a strict menu plan?

Instead of a menu plan, I rely on stocking my pantry; combining that with shopping sales and special markdowns.  Basically, I shop sales to stock up!  I always have the basics in my house:  eggs, milk, flour, sugar, chicken, basic canned and frozen vegetables, etc.  When I see a fabulous sale on any of these items, I stock up.  Here’s an example, of one of my trips to the store, I saw a special markdown on sirloin tips and London broil.  They were both marked down to $1.99/lb. for quick sale.  I (along with other savvy shoppers) stocked up on them.  Why…because, I have not seen that price for beef in a long time.  My family loves a beef dinner every once in a while and it is nice to not just have ground beef.  (I have not seen ground beef at $1.99/lb. in a while)  When buying reduced meats, you just need to cook it up right away or store it in the freezer.  I normally cook one that night and put the rest in the freezer.

So, how do you make sure that you have all the ingredients for what you want to make?  Simple, decide what to cook the night before.  While cleaning up from dinner, I plan my next day’s menu.  Any leftovers that are enough for one portion, go into my husband’s lunch for the next day.  I take anything out of the freezer that needs to defrost and any side dishes I make come from my pantry.

A note on side dishes.  I shop for produce at a local fruit market.  They don’t have “sales” flyers.  They are a restaurant supply store and they stock any leftovers that were not purchased by the restaurants in their store.  They (and I) never know when the deliveries will be made for the day and what they will have.  Sometimes, I can get bags of salad mix for $2 (we are talking large bags or organic), artichokes 4 for $1, strawberries for $1, gallons of organic orange juice for $1 (I saw a sticker once and it was $21/gallon but I paid $1).  I never know what I will get.  I make my side dishes based on what I buy at this market.  I normally can buy a weeks’ worth of produce for $5-$8.  That’s right…$5-$8 of fresh sometimes organic produce.  If you don’t have a market like this in your area, shop in the reduced produce section.  While your deals may not be as good as the ones I described, they will be substantial.  Once the fresh produce for the week is gone, then switch to your frozen or canned supplies.

These tips have helped me maintain an average food bill of $40-$60 per week for 4 people.  I hope they help you too.

Now, how do you cook?  Meal plan or cook from pantry?  Comment below.

Is Healthy Food Really Expensive?

My niece, whom I adore, wrote on Facebook, “Why is healthy food so expensive?”  She just lost about 100 lbs by eating healthy and exercising.  Wahoo!!!!  She looks and feels fabulous!  She noticed that when she shopped for junk food, she spent far less than when she shops for healthy food.  I saw her comment on Facebook and wondered, is it really that expensive?  I really don’t think so.  I know I am very thrifty and I can find deals.  While going through the supermarket, I can see how it seems that healthy food is expensive.  With  a few strategies, you can find that healthy food at a reasonable price.

Buy Seasonal Produce

I am sure you hear this a lot.  Buy seasonal.  What does that mean?  Each food has a growing and harvesting season.  You should buy your produce when it is in season for the best price and optimal quality.  For example, zucchini is in season right now.  You will find loads of local zucchini at great prices.  When it’s winter, you’re not going to find it locally and at that great price.  Starting about now, peaches are in season until about late September in the Northeast.  You will find the best prices and quality right now and through the summer.

Check Loss Leaders at the Markets

These are the super low priced items on the front and back pages of your sales circulars.  These are made to have you go into the store and spend more money on other items.  A week ago our local store had Corn on the Cob 12 for $1.97.  Great price.

Farmers Markets

Farmers Markets are filled with great products from local farms.  It’s a great way to support your community and buy the freshest produce.  Also, because transportation costs are low, the prices are really great.

Outlet Stores

There are restaurant supply stores that sell to the general public extra produce the restaurants do not purchase.  There are great deals to be had at these outlets.  The store  I frequent, has amazing deals!  I will outline them below.

Auctions and Flea Markets

This is one that we don’t think about much.  There are auctions around the country that auction produce, meats, canned goods, etc.  Also, many flea markets have produce stands.  If you go at the end of the day, many venders do not want to take their produce home and are more likely to give you a deal.

My Haul


friendly fruit

Today I went to my favorite produce store and hit the jackpot.  The delivery truck was just coming in and I picked up great deals.  What did I spend for this.  See below:

  • 2 lb bag chopped romaine lettuce $1
  • 3 stocks of leeks $1
  • 2.04 lbs yellow squash $1.02
  • 3 lbs. (?) bag of broccoli florets $2
  • 1 pineapple $1
  • 1 seedless watermelon $3
  • 1 lbs baby grapes $ 1 (Yum)
  • 2 containers of raspberries $1
  • 1 cantalope $1
  • .34 lbs sliced mushrooms $.60

My total was $12.98.  Not bad for my 20 minutes at the store.  I have items that we will eat this week and some that I will chop and put into the freezer for later.

How about you?  How do you get the best price on produce?


Why did I start this???

Linda cartoon for FacebookWelcome to my new blog “What’s Linda Cooking”!  I am so happy that I finally took the plunge and started writing this blog. I have been thinking about it for a few years but didn’t think I had enough to share.  Anyone who knows me, will be laughing at that! From my cooking show, What’s Linda Cooking on ORCTV, book clubs, direct sales business, volunteer gigs…anyone who knows me, knows I have plenty to say and I am rarely at a loss for words.

I come from a family of 5 kids…all with a lot to say.  I have 2 kids…both with a lot to say.  We have always had lively conversation around the dinner table.  In fact, our dinners growing up were marathon events.  We would sit at the table for hours just discussing what happened during our day or any topic we wanted.  Everyone talked over everyone else because we wanted to be heard.  To this day, I still have trouble keeping my mouth shut while others talk.  I am working on sitting on my hands while others are speaking, so I don’t interrupt.  It’s very hard for me!

I envision this blog being mostly about food.  How I get dinner on the table quickly, deliciously and economically.  That’s what I do!  I want to help YOU cook more, laugh a lot and enjoy the process of cooking for yourself and your family…whether you have 15 minutes or 2 hours to cook.

I will give you shopping, prepping, cooking and general tips to get the shop done fast and in a thrifty way…whether you have $200, $100, $60 or even $40 to spend on groceries.  It can be done and it can be done fabulously!

A little final information about me.  I have a family, a Direct Sales business, and volunteer duties that all keep me very busy.  I also have some time consuming hobbies.

I hope you come along with me on this blogging adventure.  Please drop a comment about you!  I would love to hear from you.