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This Week's Food Pantry Blog Post - Pork Loin

Sunday, July 13, 2014

In case you're new to this blog, I do a weekly blog post for the local food pantry about what's on sale and what you can do with it. It all started with a Food Stamp Challenge, trying to eat for a month on what the average food stamp recipient actually received in Indiana, which was $4.40 per day in 2012, and doing it low carb. I go through the local ads and pull out everything that I consider healthy, based on a low carb lifestyle. That means it's meat, dairy, veggies and fruit, and unprocessed foods in those categories. Then I pick a protein that's on sale (it's pork loin this month) and give about three recipes using that protein, and then build a menu around each recipe. The total cost per person for the entire meal (and they're usually pretty generous servings) is $1.50 or less for supper. I figure $1.50 for supper, $1.25 for lunch, and $1.00 for breakfast, and the remaining 40 cents per day to cover things that you have to buy more of than you're going to need that month. (Congress cut the food stamp benefits by about 5.5%, so I'm figuring $4.15 per day now.) My posts aren't officially low carb, but I tell people that my $1.50 meals do no rely on cheap fillers like potatoes, rice, noodles, pasta, beans, or grains of any kind, and I very seldom include any sugar. In other words, whether it's officially low carb or not, it is! Here's a link to the blog - gardentablecommunity.blogspot.com

I've been working on getting all my posts migrated from the food pantry's old blog to the new one (all of 2014 is done and December of 2013, plus the Thanksgiving post!), including getting all of the recipes set up and linked everywhere. There are 400 posts now on the new one, and I'm guessing that over 300 of them are recipes, and probably around 250 of them are ones I've posted and are budget and low carb! I've been doing the weekly blogs there but haven't been posting them here.

Here's this week's blog. The things in CAPS are links on the food pantry blog to recipes there. I've added links to the recipes at the bottom of the post. gardentablecommunity.blogspot


Finally! Some good prices! Kroger did the best this week, with good prices on produce, meat and dairy. Iíll get to the grocery store ads in just a sec, but donít forget to get your Market Bucks for the Farmers Market and buy your produce there for half price! Applies to those with food stamps only.

Kroger has blueberries for 99 cents a pint. Peaches, plums and nectarines are all 99 cents a pound. Four pounds of strawberries are $4.99, or $1.25 per pound; smaller boxes cost more per pound. Bananas are 39 cents a pound. Sweet corn is 10 ears for $3.00, or 30 cents an ear. Itís Indiana sweet corn. Zucchini and yellow squash are 99 cents a pound. Milk is $1.88 a gallon, limit two. Eggs are $1.29 a dozen. Kroger ďsinglesĒ (processed cheese) is $1.99 for 16 slices, but it doesnít say how big the slices are. Chicken of the Sea canned tuna is 69 cents for a 5-oz can. Boneless pork loin is $1.77 per pound, limit two packages. Prices are good through next Wednesday, July 16.

Marsh has boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.99 per pound. 9-ounce smoked sausage is four for $5.00, or $1.25 each. Prices are good through next Wednesday, July 16.

IGA has peaches for 99 cents a pound. Tomatoes on the vine are $1.49 a pound. Cabbage is 49 cents a pound. Salad dressings are 99 cents for a 16-ounce bottle. Hamburger and hotdog buns are 99 cents for a package of eight. Ground chuck is $2.99 a pound in packs of three or more pounds. Prices are good through Sunday, July 13.

Aldi has blueberries for 99 cents a pint (two cups or about 12 ounces). Red grapes, peaches, plums and nectarines are all $1.98 for a 2-pound package, or 99 cents a pound. Mangos are 39 cents each and avocados are 69 cents each. Cherries are $1.99 a pound. Bone in chicken thighs are 89 cents a pound in packs of three pounds or more. Prices are good through next Tuesday, July 15.

By the way, here are some equivalent measurements for some of this weekís produce. A ďmediumĒ tomato weighs about 6 ounces half a cup of finely diced tomato, or about a cup of chopped tomato, or about one and a quarter cups of sliced tomato. (Thereís about a tablespoon of tomato in a cherry tomato, which weighs about one ounce.) A pint (two cups) of blueberries is about 12 ounces. A ďmediumĒ peach weighs about 3 to 4 ounces. You get about two-thirds of a cup of chopped peaches or three-fourths of a cup of sliced peaches from one peach. Thatís about two and half cups of either chopped or sliced peaches per pound. These are all from www.howmuchisin.com/produce_converte

With pork loin for $1.77 a pound at Kroger, letís see what we can do with that this week. I donít think Iíve talked about pork loin in a long time. Check out pork loin and pork chop recipes here and here, or find a list of all the pork recipes under the MEAT heading here.

You can either cook pork loin as roasts or you can slice it up (or have it sliced up) as chops. Youíve heard of pork loin chops? Thatís just the pork loin thatís been cut into slices. The loin thatís on sale is boneless, so youíll end up with boneless chops. You can use a recipe that calls for bone-in pork chops, but the cooking time will be a bit different. Of course, you can also cut it up into cubes or chunks if thatís what your recipe calls for

A bit of quick math. A pound and a half is 24 ounces, or six ounces each for four servings. Thatís plenty; in fact, the nutrition gurus would tell you that you only need 3 ounces. (I canít help but wonder how much they really eat themselves.) If youíre like me, when you cook a two pound roast when you only need a pound and a half, itís all likely to be eaten. Ask the butcher if heíll cut the package into one or more one and a half pound roasts and the rest into roughly six ounce chops. If he wonít, or if you forget, you can do it yourself, but the butcher may be more accurate about the weights and will probably be better at cutting chops that are of uniform thickness.

CUBAN PORK is sort of like Mexican carnitas, or at least like some recipes I have seen for carnitas. The cubes of pork are cooked in a mixture of fat and liquid (sour orange juice in this case, or a mixture of orange juice and lime juice), and then they fry in the fat when the liquid has simmered off. They end up crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. A batch costs about a bit less than $4.00 if you use orange juice and lime juice. Add corn on the cob and coleslaw (either your recipes or one of ours) and it comes to just $6.00.

Pork and blueberries is a trendy combination, and with blueberries on sale again this week (99 cents a pint at both Kroger and Aldi) as well as the pork loin at Kroger, it seems like I should include a recipe. Personally, though, Iíd rather eat my blueberries on their own. Not that I have anything against blueberries and pork, but if I have just a limited number of blueberries (aka a limited budget), Iíd rather have them separately. I almost decided not to include a recipe, because most of the recipes I found either called for frozen blueberries or else frozen blueberries would work just as well. No point wasting fresh blueberries when frozen ones will do. But then I found this recipe for GRILLED PORK CHOPS WITH BLUEBERRY SALSA and decided it was worthy of fresh blueberries. (The BLUEBERRY SALSA should be good with chicken or turkey, too.) I had to guess at the price of some of the ingredients, but I think the pork chops and salsa will come to something like $5.40, which doesnít leave much room for anything else. Iím going to include corn on the cob (grilled if youíre grilling the pork chops, boiled or nuked if youíre not) anyway, which brings the total to about $6.60, which is a bit higher than I like. Make my 50 Cent Breakfast (below) or another of my BUDGET BREAKFASTS and it will bring the total cost for the day back down to where it belongs.

If youíre looking to cook the pork loin as a roast, try HERB ROASTED PORK LOIN. I donít know whether it would work to use fresh herbs, but it seems a shame to use dried ones this time of year. (Do you grow your own? Theyíre easy to grow. I have a small planter with a variety of herbs that I move outside in the summer and inside in the winter.) Anyway, thereís practically no cost to this other than the pork itself, which will run about $2.65. Letís call it an even $3.00, with the garlic and oil. (Donít forget that itís usually cheaper to buy herbs and spices in bulk at Bloomingfoods rather than in the little jars at the grocery store.) Serve it with ZUCCHINI/TOMATOTOSS ($1.40) and twelve ounces of peaches (about a cup and a half) mixed with a cup and a half of blueberries (total cost of the peaches and blueberries - $1.50) and have a summery meal for four for less than $6.00.

50 Cent Breakfasts

With milk on sale for $1.88 a gallon, a cup of milk (and thus a cup of yogurt) costs 12 cents. A pound of peaches (99 cents) makes about two and a half cups of chopped peaches at 25 cents for a little more than half cup. So a cup of yogurt and a bit more than half a cup of peaches costs less than 40 cents, even if you decide to sprinkle a bit of sugar on it. Or you can make a PEACH SMOOTHIE for about 45 cents.








Also, see my post on how to buy herbs and spices on a budget -


Food Pantry Blog - Chicken Breasts

Sunday, July 13, 2014

(I'm skipping the ads since I'm posting this here after the sales are over. Costs for the meals are based on the prices last week, including the sales. Sorry I didn't get it posted here in a timely manner. Anything in CAPS is a link to a recipe on the food pantry blog. I've given the links below the rest of the post. Here's the link to the main post. gardentablecommunity.blogspot.com/20


Rats! Kroger did it again. I try to get as much as possible done on Wednesday (especially when the Hub is closed on Friday), but that means that I have to select my meat before seeing the Kroger ad. I probably would have gone with their ground beef for $1.99 a pound if Iíd known they had it for sale. Oh well. I just talked about ground beef a couple of weeks ago, and anyway, you can still get it at that price and have it for hamburgers on the Fourth. Buy some extra at that price, too, if you possibly can, so you can eat it later in the month and get some variety then. Ground beef recipes are under the Meat heading of the Other Recipes page.

So, since I didnít know about the ground beef, itís chicken breasts this week. Which is fine since I found a whole bunch of new chicken recipes recently. Donít forget the links to chicken recipes on the special Fourth of July post, too, and the complete list of chicken recipes under Other Recipes.

Speaking of the special Fourth of July post, be sure to check it out if you havenít already done so. Itís got links to all of the picnic-type food thatís been posted on the new blog so far.

A bŠnh mi is a traditional Vietnamese sandwich which includes meats and vegetables. (Hereís a site with a bit of info about the bŠnh mi.) Since Iím not doing bread, Iíve changed it to a GRILLED CHICKEN BANH MI SALAD by serving it on a bed of lettuce instead of between two slices of bread. Iím using grilled chicken breast, since chicken breast is the featured meat this week, but other meats can be used instead. And if you donít have a grill, go ahead and season the chicken and then cook it in a skillet instead. It comes to right about $6.00 for four big servings of salad, though I had to estimate on some of the ingredients. I tried to err on the side of higher costs. Unfortunately, this doesnít leave room in the budget for anything else. If you can squeeze it in, some fresh fruit would go well with this. A two cup serving of watermelon would run about 20 cents. Or serve WATERMELON ICE POPS for dessert for less than 10 cents per serving.

A traditional ingredient in bŠnh mi is do chua, or pickled daikon radish and carrots. I havenít included it in this recipe because the recipe Iím copying from doesnít use it. Hereís a link for a recipe for do chua in case you want to try it for yourself. Daikon is available at the farmers market, though Iím not sure if this is the right season for it.

Summer, tomatoes, basil and grilled chicken all seem to go together, donít they? BASIL AND TOMATO STUFFED CHICKEN is another take on that combination. This makes four servings at a cost of about $4.70. Add some GARLIC CORN ON THE COB and MINT WATERMELON SALAD for a summery dinner at a tad under $6.00.

Seems like there have been a lot of recipes lately that call for cooking on a grill, and not everyone has one or knows how to use it. So this final recipe is cooked on the stove top instead. CHICKEN LAZONE has a rich buttery cream sauce that would be good over rice or noodles or something starchy like that. Instead, buy a big zucchini at the Farmers Market and grate it coarsely. You want pretty big pieces Ė bigger than grains of cooked rice Ė but not too big. Maybe about the size of a piece of macaroni cut in half lengthwise? Put the grated zucchini in a bowl, cover it, and nuke it for a couple of minutes. It should still have some bite to it. Serve that alongside the chicken to sop up the sauce and, if there isnít enough sauce, add some butter. Add some color to the plate with some sliced tomatoes.

The CHICKEN LAZONE will cost about $3.40. You should be able to get an overgrown zucchini at the Farmers Market for $1.00. A pound of tomatoes on the vine is $1.49, which brings the total to $5.90. By the way, when I say an overgrown zucchini, I mean it. Not baseball bat size, but bigger than normal. They arenít much good for slicing that way because the seeds are too big, but grated or julienned (cut into matchsticks) theyíre fine. And the farmers are usually glad to get rid of them and price them cheap.

50 Cent Budget Breakfasts

This weekís STRAWBERRY & BLUEBERRY SMOOTHIE DELUXE uses plain milk instead of yogurt. You could use yogurt if you wanted to but you might need to add a bit more sugar. For a special summer treat pour the smoothie into popsicle molds (or small paper cups), stick in popsicle sticks, and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours. Send the kids outside to eat them! This makes two smoothies of not quite 2 cups each, for a total cost of $1.00, or 50 cents each.


Mary Anne









Fireworks, Barbecues, and the Food Pantry Blog

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I did a special Fourth of July post, pulling together barbecue and picnic type recipes that have been posted so far on the food pantry blog at gardentablecommunity.blogspot
. We haven't finished migrating everything from the old site to the new blog, so not all of my recipes are up yet. Most of the recipes there are ones that I posted and are both budget and low carb, though there are a few that were posted by others that are not. The Fourth of July post hasn't been posted there yet, but you can find the recipes from the list that follows by searching for it there.


The Fourth of July is Friday, and lots of us will be barbecuing and grilling and picnicking. I thought I'd pull together some recipes you might want to consider for the festivities. I don't know what's going to be on sale, so I'll just give you a bunch of ideas but no prices or costs.

Chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs are the most common meats to cook on the grill, especially for those of us on a budget. You're on your own when it comes to cooking hamburgers and hot dogs, and I've given several recipes for grilled chicken. Here's a list of them:

Basic Grilled or Roasted Chicken Breast
Better BBQ Chicken Sauce
Cornell Chicken Barbecue Sauce (aka State Fair Chicken)
Fused Grilled Chicken
Greek or Italian Grilled Chicken

Looking for vegetarian options? We've got those, too! Do you know the story of how Mother Hubbard's Cupboard got started? It was started by two mothers, one of whom was a vegetarian who had been given tuna and pork rinds at a food pantry, and thought that there had to be a better way. While the Hub is far from a vegetarian-only pantry, vegetarianism is still supported both for those who have chosen for whatever reason not to eat meat and also as a low-cost alternative for those who do eat meat. Here are some main dish alternatives that do not include meat. They're mostly make-ahead, unfortunately, but still very good picnic fare. And you can always cook veggie burgers and similar things on the grill.

Black Bean Burgers
Eggplant Tempura (included because the picture with the recipe has Kayte cooking outside!)
Empanadas with Greens and Olives
Provencal Tart with Gruyere and Herbs
Russian Vegetable Pie
Savory Bread Pudding with Vegetables and Cheese
Quiche (the only recipes we have up so far have meat, but you can use more veggies instead of meat)

Baked beans, potato salad and macaroni salad are the usual side dishes at a picnic, and I assume you have your own recipes for those. Here are some alternatives.

Baked Beans
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled Onions
Kittencal's Best Deviled Eggs
Mango Salsa
Salads -
Beet Salad with Goat Cheese
Coleslaw for Company
Kale Salad
Kim Chi - Korean Sauerkraut
Laurel's Coleslaw
Panzanella Bread Salad
Russian Korean Carrot Salad
Spicy Mexican Coleslaw
Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Tomato, Cucumber and Pepper Salad

By the way, have you tried a salad picnic? You can get everything done ahead of time and not have to worry about cooking at the last minute. And it's great for a potluck gathering and a great way to accommodate all the different food plans people are on - low fat, low carb, vegetarian, diabetic, low sodium, etc.

And then there's dessert. S'mores, of course. And you can take cookies and cake and fresh fruit. Watermelon for sure. Or try some COFFEE CAN ICE CREAM or GRILLED FRUIT.

Fortunately it's almost supper time, 'cuz I'm getting hungry from all this talk of food!

Have a wonderful Fourth of July, everyone. Be safe. And don't forget what it's all about. Thanks to all those who've gone before us to establish, maintain and defend this great country of ours.

Mary Anne

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Food Pantry Blog - Summer Veggie Recipe Retrospective

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I probably won't get a chance to do a "real" post next week, so I pulled up all the recipes that have been posted so far on the food pantry blog at gardentablecommunity.blogspot.com/ . Most of them are recipes I've posted but some have been posted by others. There are a few that are not low carb or possibly not budget, but most of them are both. This isn't posted yet to the food pantry blog. If you see a recipe in the list of recipes that follows, you can search for it on the food pantry blog and find it that way.


When the first of the summer veggies come out, I usually want to just savor each one individually for its uniqueness. But pretty soon I'm looking for more ways to incorporate them into my menus. That's what these recipes are for, after you've had the first green beans just plain or with butter, or the first tomatoes with just a dash of balsamic vinegar, or the first zucchini lightly sauteed with a touch of dill. I hope some of these will make it onto your roster of go-to summer recipes!

By the way, did you know that there's an index of sorts to the recipes on the blog? I say "of sorts" because the blog is still a work in process as we move posts from the old site to the blog and try to get everything linked everywhere it should be. Bear with us! But anyway, to get to the index, start by clicking on the COOK icon right under the picture of the carrots and all, which will take you to a list of broad categories - FOOD PRESERVATION, PASTA, VEGGIES & SALADS, etc. And a link to get you to all of my columns, too! Click on the VEGGIES AND SALADS link and it will take you to a list of - you guessed it - recipes for veggies and salads. All of these recipes are on that list along with lots more, and more will be added almost every week as we find more recipes to post and as we finish migrating recipes from the old site.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Mary Anne

PS - Turns out that trying to pick my favorite old summer veggie recipes is a lot like picking my favorite child! (Well, not that I have any kids to pick my favorite from, but you get the picture.) So I've just listed all of the recipes for cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, peppers, tomatoes and zucchini and summer squash. Some are mine, some Kayte and others posted. Enjoy!

Creamy Gazpacho
Cucumber Salads
Easy Greek Yogurt Cucumber Sauce
Panzanella Bread Salad
Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Tomato, Cucumber and Pepper Salad

Easiest Eggplant and Sausage Casserole
Eggplant Casserole
Eggplant Chili
Eggplant Tempura
Sichuan-Style Eggplant
Simplified Moussaka

Cheesy Beef and Green Beans
Green Beans Almondine
Savory Bread Pudding with Vegetables and Cheese

Crock Pot Ratatouille
Fajita Salad
Italian Sausage and Peppers
Panzanella Bread Salad
Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Smoked Sausage and Peppers
Stir-Fried Italian Sausage and Peppers
Tomato, Cucumber and Pepper Salad
Unstuffed Peppers

Crock Pot Ratatouille
Panzanella Bread Salad
Provencal Tart with Gruyere and Herbs
Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Tomato Bread
Tomato, Cucumber and Pepper Salad
Tomato Salads
Tomato Soup Three Ways

Chicken and Vegetables
Crock Pot Ratatouille
Easiest Eggplant and Sausage Casserole
Eggplant Casserole
Italian Sausage and Zucchini
Microwaved Summer Squash with Garlic and Dill
Sausage Squash Casserole
Savory Bread Pudding with Vegetables and Cheese
Taco Summer Squash Casserole
Veggie Manicotte with Tofu Ricotta
Zucchini and Carrots
Zucchini Spice Bread


Food Pantry Blog - Chicken Thighs

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Here's this week's post for the local food pantry blog. It's pretty low carb, though there is corn on the cob for one menu and more and different fruit than we are likely to be eating. The intended audience of the food pantry blog is food pantry patrons and others who want to save on their food budgets, not necessarily folks who eat low carb. Though it grew out of wanting to demonstrate that it is possible to eat low carb and still stay on a very strict budget - the average food stamp budget actually received in Indiana, even after the 5.5% cut last fall. Here's the link to the entry in the blog, and then I'll include the post below. gardentablecommunity.blogspot.com/20

By the way, I mention a website howmuchisin.com/produce_converters where it tells you things like how much juice in an orange or how many cups of shredded cabbage in a medium head of cabbage. Things like that. It's very handy.


Itís getting harder and harder to come up with complete suppers for $1.50 per person. Iím still shooting for that, and Iím still going to focus on supper, but Iím going to include either one breakfast or one lunch meal each week, too. I call it supper, because thatís what we called the evening meal when I was growing up and thatís what I still call it today. ďDinnerĒ to me is a special meal that can be served either at noon or at night, like Thanksgiving Dinner or Christmas Dinner or sometimes a special dinner when thereís company. But for just the family, itís supper.

The average food stamp benefit in Indiana in 2014, after the 5.5% cut the end of 2013, is about $4.15 per person per day, or $125.00 for the month. ďTheyĒ usually put that in terms of just under $1.40 per meal, but that seems silly to me. The way most of us eat in America, the meals just donít cost the same. Instead, I figure $1.50 for supper, $1.25 for lunch, and $1.00 for breakfast. That comes to $112.50 for the month. The extra $12.50 is to cover the cost of things that you have to buy more of than you need that month, like the whole jar of mayo when you only need part of a jar.

Iím going to shoot for no more than 50 cents per person for breakfast and no more than $1.00 per person for lunch, which would leave some extra for supper when there just isnít anything on sale. Or for a snack some days, if youíre so inclined. At least to start with, Iím going to stick with not including breads and other starches, like I do for supper. That means I wonít say to just eat a bowl of oatmeal, or a peanut butter sandwich. You already know that you can eat cheap meals that way. My breakfasts and lunches will be eggs, meat, cheese, veggies, and sometimes other dairy and/or fruit.

But, since I do still rely on the sales Ė such as they are! Ė for my recipes and menus, here they are.

First of all, donít forget the Farmers Market, especially if you have Food Stamps! You can double your Food Stamps by converting up to $18 a week of them into Market Bucks. You get two Market Bucks for each Food Stamp dollar, up to a total of Market Bucks per week. Then you can use the Market Bucks to shop anywhere at either the main Saturday market or the Tuesday market. Food at the Farmers Market isnít cheap when compared with grocery store food, but it is healthier, supports the local producers and is better for the environment. And the Market Bucks makes the Farmers Market prices competitive with the conventionally produced, less fresh and frequently shipped thousands of miles food you buy at the grocery stores.

Aldi has mangos for 39 cents each, multi-colored peppers for 50 cents each in the three packs ($1.49 per pack), Tomatoes on the Vine for 99 cents for 24 ounces, or about 65 cents a pound, and blueberries for $1.49 per pint. These prices are good through Tuesday, June 10.

Marsh has chicken drumsticks or thighs for 87 cents a pound in the family packs. Thereís more meat on a thigh (less waste) but thereís something extra satisfying about gnawing on a drumstick. I guess the kid in me still hasnít grown up. Sour cream is $1.39 a pint after a 50 cent ecoupon. Prices are good through Wednesday, June 11.

Kroger has Roma tomatoes for 99 cents a pound, limes for 79 cents each, and two bunches of cilantro for 99 cents. Eggplant and English cucumbers (the long skinny ďseedlessĒ kind) are 99 cents each. Prices are good through Wednesday, June 11.

IGA has whole boneless pork loin for $1.99 per pound, and theyíll cut and package it for free. Thereís a limit of two ďwith additional purchaseĒ but it doesnít say how much that additional purchase has to be. The special on pork is only good through Saturday, June 7. They also have salad dressings four for $5.00, or $1.25. This price is good through Sunday, June 8.

This weekís supper recipes and menus will feature the chicken thighs for 87 cents a pound from Marsh. Two average thighs, including bone and skin, run about three-quarters of a pound, or twelve ounces, according to something I read online, which would be three pounds for a family of four. They vary considerably in size, though. Iím going to figure on about a pound of raw chicken thighs, with bone and skin, per person. That should be between two and three thighs and something over a cup of boneless skinless cooked chicken. However, Iím also going to give myself some leeway because Iíll be figuring the costs based on four pounds of chicken instead of three.

The first recipe, GARLIC LIME CHICKEN, combines garlic, lime juice and herbs to make a tangy marinade. Chances are you have everything but the lime juice and the coriander (and the chicken, of course) on hand. Get the lime juice in the bottle, like ReaLemon, only lime. There should be a store brand thatís cheaper the ReaLemon brand. Either one will be cheaper than fresh lime juice, which would of course be best. Kroger has fresh limes on sale this week for 75 cents each, and thereís about two tablespoons of juice in a medium lime. That means that it would take about four limes, or $3.00, to get the half cup of juice that the recipe calls for. (Thatís according to howmuchisin.com/produce_converters, by the way, a site I use a lot. It usually doesnít make a lot of difference how many cups or tablespoons or ounces in a piece of produce, but sometimes it does, like here where weíre relying on the lime juice for a big part of the flavor. Or when Iím trying to figure out how many cups of cabbage Iíll get from ďhalf a medium head of cabbageĒ Ė which is four cups of shredded cabbage, or eight cups from a medium head which is two pounds. In case youíre wondering.)

The chicken is going to cost about $4.80, which only leaves $1.20 for the rest of the meal. A can of green beans is 49 cents at Aldi, and half a head of lettuce is 55 cents, also at Aldi, the last time I checked. Two tablespoons of salad dressing per person, or half a cup total, is 35 cents at Aldi. That comes to a total of about $6.20, which is just a bit more than my goal of $1.50 per person, or $6.00 for a family of four. But then the chicken thighs will probably run a bit less than eight ounces each, so there should be a small savings there. It should come in at right about $6.00.

(adapted from a recipe in Quick Cooking, Jul/Aug 2002)

1/2 c lime juice (bottled will do)
1/4 c cider vinegar
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 T minced fresh oregano (or 2 t dried oregano)
1 T dried coriander
2 t pepper
1 t salt
1 t paprika
8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs (between 3 and 4 lbs total)
1/4 c vegetable oil

Combine everything but the chicken and oil in a large ziplock bag. Add chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Discard marinade. In a skillet, brown chicken in oil on all sides. Transfer to a greased 15x10x1 baking pan, or a pan or pans big enough to hold all of the chicken in a single layer without crowding. Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 30-35 minutes or until the juices run clear.

Mark Bittman is perhaps best known for his How to Cook Everything: 2000 Simple Recipes for Good Food. Itís a huge book Ė 1056 pages, and the shipping weight, according to Amazon, is 4.6 pounds! The next recipe, DEVILED CHICKEN OR PORK CHOPS, comes from a smaller cookbook, his The Best Recipes in the Word, which is only 768 pages, with a shipping weight of only 3.9 pounds. The original recipe calls for EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), but pure olive oil is cheaper and I canít tell the difference. If you have EVOO and you want to use it, Iím sure Mark Bittman (and Rachael Ray) would approve.

The olive oil and mustard will run about 50 cents, and the chicken will run between $2.60 and $3.50. Letís say $3.00 for the chicken, bringing the total cost of the dish to $3.50. How about an ear of corn each ($1.34 at IGA through Sunday, or $1.49 at Aldi through Tuesday), to go with it, and MANGO SALSA, which, with mangos and cilantro on sale, should be about $1.00. Total cost for the meal Ė right at $6.00, or $1.50 per person.

(based closely on a recipe from Mark Bittmanís The Best Recipes in the World)

8 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on, 3 to 4 pounds total (or 4 pork chops, each 6 to 8 oz)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c or more Dijon mustard
1/4 c olive oil
1 c water or stock
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Put a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat. It may take two skillets; you donít want to crowd the meat. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and smear them all over with the mustard. Add the oil to the pan and, when it is hot, the chicken. Cook for about 3 minutes per side, or until nicely browned, then lower the heat and continue to cook, turning occasionally, until cooked through, another 20 minutes or so. (About 10 minutes for chops.) Transfer the chicken to a plate and add the water or stock to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until the water has incorporated any solids in the pan. When there are only a couple of tablespoons of liquid left, spoon it over the chicken, garnish, and serve.

Have you ever read those articles in womenís magazines about dishes you can whip up from things you always have in your pantry, fridge and freezer? I donít know whose pantry, fridge and freezer theyíve been looking in, but it seems like there are a lot things that ďeveryoneĒ has that I donít have, and sometimes never have had. Anyway, The $21 Challenge is a lot like those articles. The idea behind the book and the website http://www.simplesavings.com.au/21dollarch
allenge is that most of us have enough bits and pieces in our pantries, fridges and freezers to feed our families for a week with just $21 and some creativity. They give several recipes using those things that ďwe allĒ have on hand, including this recipe for FRENCH ONION CHICKEN. The original recipe calls for a packet of FRENCH ONION SOUP MIX, and you can use a packet if you have one. Or you can make your own for a fraction of the cost of the commercial mix. Donít forget that you can buy most herbs and spices a lot more cheaply by buying tiny dabs of them from Bloomingfoods than by buying the cans or jars at the grocery stores.

Using four pounds of chicken thighs (donít forget to save the skin and make CHICKEN CHIPS with it) and homemade Onion Soup Mix, a batch of this will cost about $4.75. Serve it with COLESLAW for another 20 cents per person, or 80 cents. And youíve got the tomatoes and onion that the chicken cooked in that you can serve as a hot vegetable. You might want to add another can of tomatoes to the sauce and cook it just long enough to heat it through. You may need it, and then again you may not. If you do, it will cost another 59 cents (at Aldi) and bring the total to about $6.15, or to right about $6.00 if your chicken thighs are bit less than 8 ounces each.

(The $21 Challenge)

1 T oil
1 onion, chopped
9 skinless chicken drumsticks (or 8 chicken thighs, skins removed)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 T soy sauce
1/2 c water
1 packet onion soup mix or 1 batch homemade ONION SOUP MIX

Put the chicken in the crockpot or slow cooker. Sautť the onion in the oil for a couple of minutes. Combine it with the other ingredients except the chicken and mix well. Pour it over the chicken, and turn the chicken to coat thoroughly. Cook on low for 8 hours.

(I donít know where I got this recipe, but itís definitely not my own)

8 t dried onion flakes
1/2 T dried parsley
1 t onion powder
1/2 t celery seeds
1/2 t salt
1/2 t sugar or equivalent sweetener
1/4 t pepper

Combine ingredients and mix well.

And now for the inexpensive breakfast. Iíll keep it really simple since this is the first week. Three eggs scrambled in 2 teaspoons of butter comes to within fractions of a penny of 50 cents and is a filling and nutritious breakfast. Eggs are supposed to be cheaper during the summer, but it sure hasnít happened this year. They were 79 cents a dozen at Aldi around Easter (admittedly, they were on sale then) and theyíre $1.69 a dozen now. Almost double. Theyíre still a good source of protein and lots of other nutrients, though, and theyíre very flexible. I go through a lot of them.


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