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SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (257,041)
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10/12/13 6:39 P

A lot depends on the wattage. My first one was fairly powerful, but nowhere near as powerful as my new one. This one chomps through ice no problems. My sister bought my mother one a year or so ago, and it was feeble - a sneeze would have produced more results. Mind you, that one was dirt cheap (cost).


AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
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10/11/13 5:34 P

Nope Kiwi, not a bullet....just a very tiny food processor...Hamilton Beach Food Chopper. It holds about a cup. Now that I have a slightly bigger kitchen, perhaps I should start looking for a real food processor. :) I tend to be a bit of a minimalist.

Ah wizz stick=immersion blender. I've used those in the past and found them not very powerful, but perhaps technology has improved since the last time I tried them.

Boiled eggs are a great idea...and eggs in general are very good, cheap protein. I generally only eat the whites, but that's still pretty cost effective.

Edited by: AZULVIOLETA6 at: 10/13/2013 (19:28)
MACKIEFISMOM SparkPoints: (49,528)
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Posts: 380
10/11/13 1:22 A

I also shop at ALDI and you can definately get some good deals there. I also like to keep an eye on the Kroger flyer for sales. I find the bigger grocery stores that are generally more expensive have good sales on fresh fruit and veggies. Also they can have good deals on meats. Check your local store flyer online before hitting the store. Make a list of meals and how much each one costs. I know if I buy a box of garlic texas toast that I can use it for two meals. Helps with portion control (knowing I have plans for the rest) and cuts costs. If I buy a can of spaghetti sauce, I know I will have some left, so I save it and make pizza. Think outside the box. Use things for other than their "intended purpose." That extra hot dog bun and slightly past-its-prime banana become, PB and banana dog. Same for those left over tortillas, add pb and banana and voila, breakfast. Be creative :) Try You can type in the ingredients you have and it will give you recipes you can make.

Maybe challenge your self to try one new veggie each week or each month. Choose something that is on sale (generally means it's in season) and then research some recipes to find one that appeals to you. Make it fun and remember, often it takes more than one try for us to like a new food!!

Also, you can make lots of sauces with a basic white sauce. A little butter, a little flour, and some skim milk or fat free half and half go a long way! You can add garlic and parmesan for alfredo, cheddar for mac n cheese, sausage to put on waffles or biscuits or eggs, the list goes on!

I agree that hard boiled eggs can be a great, cheap fix! I also like those light mozzarella string cheese sticks. I can eat them plain or with a few slices of ham or turkey wrapped around it. Yogurt is another of my faves. Cheap and if you get the light or non-fat ones they are about 90 calories.

Hope that helps!! Good luck :)

CHANGINGFACES27 SparkPoints: (1,451)
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10/10/13 8:24 P

Perhaps you could buy whole chickens rather than breasts or thighs ect. You could roast the whole chicken, use the breast meat for lunch meat, used the thighs and wing meat for a supper, then boil the bones to make your own chicken stock for a soup base.

SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (257,041)
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10/10/13 5:23 A

did you find one?

Here is a link to the one I have:

I take it your food processor is a little 'bullet' one??


AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
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10/9/13 2:57 P

Well, my food processor is not so much small as tiny. It cost $8, which gives you an idea. It is great for making pesto and dressings, but that's about it.

I have made OK hummus in a blender, but it doesn't quite meet my standards. ;)

Off to google "wizz stick."

SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (257,041)
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10/8/13 10:14 P

I was as professional cook at one time, and can honestly say, you DON'T need to have a 'larger-ish' food processor. I use a small one and it comes out perfectly smooth. I sometimes use my Wizz Stick, too. The grunty ones are good, but the less powerful, I wouldn't bother with. It just depends on how big a batch you are making. Mine has about 300 grams of chickpeas, a clove a garlic, a couple tablespoons of lemon juice, a LITTLE bit of Olive Oil or Rice Bran Oil, Lemon Pepper OR Sun-dried Tomatoes and dried basil. I just add cooled boiled water a little at a time to get the right consistency. Most recipes call for Tahini, but I never use this and don't miss it, either.


AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
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10/8/13 5:08 P

Hummus is simple, but I have a hard time getting the texture right. My friend who is a chef says that you must have a large-ish food processor to get it to work out perfectly. Neither my blender nor my tiny food processor really do the trick. Lumpy hummus is...unattractive.

The ingredients are simple though--a jar of garbanzos, some lemon juice, olive oil, salt, tahini and perhaps some cayenne pepper. I have left out the tahini (can be hard to find) and it is still tasty, just different that way. You should be able to find a good recipe by googling.

JAMIRBLAZE Posts: 1,839
10/8/13 4:44 P

I highly recommend that you make a list of what you have and then look up recipes incorporating those ingredients or others on this site or others ( and are two I like). Based on what you have, I could make baked oatmeal, Eatingwell's Peanut Noodles with Shredded Chicken, Eatingwell's Creamy Cajun Chicken pasta, etc. with a few additional ingredients.

I would also wean some ingredients - ramen noodles, creamed soups (you can make your own creamy base with a bit of flour, FF milk and spices for cheaper anyway), minute rice - out of your rotation. I don't like keeping too many "staples" beyond flour/sugar/spices or things I eat regularly because it tends to lead me to waste. I keep small amounts of things that I use regularly.

Every two weeks, I make a plan for the next two weeks of snacks and meals (I look at store ads/coupons to help me plan) and then I shop the dry goods or things that will last for those meals, minus whatever I have in my pantry. Then I just have to buy the fresh ingredients on the off weeks. You could also do that for your monthly trip - you just have more planning.

I cook just for me, too, so it usually ends up being 2-3 main dishes a week, mix and match sides, etc. In a couple of hours on the weekends, I usually can bang out all of the cooking for the week and then just heat things up everyday. I make some dishes for lunch which do not have to be heated. On days that I'm particularly pressed, I may just take rice cakes with peanut butter, cottage cheese or the like. I like to keep protein bars around just case as well.

PEACELOVELOSS SparkPoints: (4,862)
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10/8/13 4:19 P

My favorite shopping tip that everyone probably already knows is - shop the outermost walls of the store. But my other tip is - each week purchase something that you never thought you'd like or buy and try something new. Last week I bought a spaghetti squash. I despise squash but in an attempt to follow my rule I bought it. It was unlike squash in every way and very, very, tasty. This week I bought broccolini and also bison meat from the meat department. Who knows what that will turn out to be but it keeps things interesting.

AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
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10/8/13 3:39 P

Are you buying cheese that is pre-shredded or pre-cubed? Usually those have fillers or stabilizers which aren't great for the I don't think they taste very good, personally. Usually the pre-shredded cheeses are more expensive too, so you might want to buy cheese in blocks when it is on sale and grate your own.

Hard cheeses like cheddar freeze pretty well. The texture does change a bit, but they are still perfectly fine for grating after you thaw them.

LOUNMOUN Posts: 1,334
10/8/13 3:18 P

Look for recipes using beans or lentils. Packages of dry beans or lentils are very inexpensive but canned also are not very expensive.
Look for homemade soup recipes.
Plain yogurt is pretty useful. You can just add fruit, make smoothies or add it to recipes.

Slow cooker fiesta chicken-
When I made this I left out the cream cheese and it was very tasty.

Baked oatmeal- I recently tried a pumpkin pie baked oatmeal and it was fairly tasty

Tuscan White Bean Pasta-
When I made this I used feta cheese instead of Parmesan cheese and added some black olives.

Fassolatha- A Greek bean soup

Lemon Lentil Soup-

Apple Cranberry Lentils with Potatoes-

Baked Chicken & Spinach Taquitos- My family loves these. I just use leftover cooked chicken and do not pre-cook the spinach.

Pasta with Spinach, Garlic and Lemon-

Omelet cups- use whatever vegetables, cheese or meat that you want

White Chili-


If you want to search for recipes using just what you have right now Supercook is a useful site.

AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
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10/8/13 2:03 P

If you are interested in preserving your own foods, the Ball Blue Book is a wonderful reference. It has instructions and recipes for canning, freezing and dehydration.

I also recommend the Organic Gardeners team and the Putting Foods Up Spark teams--there are lots of people who can answer food prep/preservation/storage questions in these groups!

AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
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10/8/13 1:46 P

Oh, I don't like squash either, and I didn't think that I liked sweet potatoes until I tried slow roasting them.

I am more of a fruit person too, but fruit has a ton of carbs, while most veggies have very few. I've discovered that I can really only have about one serving of fruit a day or I will gain weight. So I eat lots of veggies to make up for this!

I don't think that there is any way to make tasty alfredo that is also the only thing that you can do with alfredo is serve it over pasta--lots of calories and carbs, minimal nutrition. Have you ever heard the adage that you should take white foods out of your diet? Pasta with alfredo (even Barilla Plus) is exactly what you should not be eating. It's not super hard to make though...just make a Bechemel (melt butter, add some flour to thicken, then stir in liquid slowly with a whisk) and add cream, parm salt and black pepper.

Spaghetti sauce (marinara) is really pretty simple. Dice an onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, a bell pepper and mushrooms and sauté them in some olive oil. Cook until these are soft. Mix in herbs--these can be fresh or dry. You can use a seasoning packet too. Oregano and basil are the two herbs that you need for spaghetti sauce and you can adjust them to taste. Then add tomatoes (fresh diced, whole canned or canned sauce) and let that cook on low for at least half an hour. Add a bit of tomato paste or ketsup if you need more tomato flavor. If you want to add meat, brown that separately and add it around the time when you add tomatoes. Turkey burger is great in spaghetti sauce.

Green beans go great with spaghetti--they are nutritionally wonderful--you can have a whole cup for only 34 calories and 8 carbs.

SARAHMO4 Posts: 336
10/8/13 1:02 P

Thanks ladies! I will have to try canning applesauce, I would freeze except for I have just the freezer on my fridge. Cant have a deep freeze where I live at or a mini freezer even. I will try the sweet potato chips too. I don't eat sweet potatoes or squash baked but haven't tried sweet potato chips. As far as sauce, basic ones lie spaghetti sauce and alfredo sauce. I also love red pepper hummus and would like to figure out how to make that or garlic hummus. I had also heard of kale but wasn't sure what that was or a lot of leafy veggies besides romaine, spinach and iceberg in the produce section. I will eat veggies, I am just more of a fruit person it seems. Not knowing a lot about veggies like kale and a dislike for sweet potatoes or squash can deter me from a few. Though I have had spaghetti squash and don't mind that. Cooked on the stove or like pasta in the oven is really good.

AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
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10/8/13 12:12 A

I love lentils and beans too, for taste as well as for the price. You have to be careful with them though, as you get a lot of carbs with the protein in legumes.

I am guessing that you are in a different part of the country from me (Aldi's is Trader Joe's here) so this may or may not be helpful...I do most of my shopping at Grocery Outlet, which is a discount grocery store. They have overstocks and excess from other stores. Some things are the normal price, but sometimes the deals are VERY good. Exactly what they have varies from week to week, but I can always find some brand of lunch meat, yogurt, cheese, canned beans, soy milk and some other things that are staples for me. I also shop at a grocery store that caters to the Mexican population--they sometimes have very good sales and I like the selection of interesting fruits and vegetables.

The big thing that jumps out at me from your list is the lack of fresh veggies. Sweet potatoes are delicious and not too expensive. They should be kept on the counter and not in the fridge, but they can last for a very long time. I like to wash them, leave them whole, rub on a tiny bit of olive oil and sea salt and bake them at 300 for 90 minutes. They are also good cut as chips and baked (you don't even need oil, PAM works fine) or as fries. These are a big hit with kids. I like to season the fries with a bit of smoked paprika.

Kale is another thing to try--very filling and fairly low carb. It is good in regular salads, featured in its own salad with some balsamic vinegar and a nice sharp cheese (romano, feta, cotija) and you can make kale chips with minimal oil and just a little salt.

Veggie skewers are great--pick some onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, squash, bell peppers, etc., skewer, marinate (in BBQ sauce, or even just soy sauce/garlic/lemon juice) and cook on the grill or in your oven. Also good with chicken pieces...can be served over brown rice or quinoa.

I grow a lot of veggies in my garden, but I also buy whatever is in season that is cheap and looks good. Right now I have lots of potatoes and carrots from my garden, so I've made potato soup. I made a salad with my own corn, purple potatoes and green onions, plus some mango and a chipotle sauce...mmmm. I've also got lots of eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes, so ratatouille is the obvious choice. Just cube the veggies and roast on a tray in the oven with some fresh rosemary and thyme--you get something that can be eaten as a hearty stew or used like spaghetti sauce, over pasta.

Apple sauce IS super easy to make--plus you can either freeze it or can it. Windfall apples are perfectly fine for apple sauce. Now is the time to keep an eye out for forsaken trees dropping their fruit. Lots of orchards have windfalls too--just ask. Plus if you make it yourself you can control the sugar. I love applesauce made with gravensteins.

I do a lot of picking of fruit in the summer when it is fresh and cheap, then I freeze and or can to have those things on hand for the winter.

Do you use Pinterest? That is a good way to find recipes as well as techniques for working with vegetables that you might not be familiar with. Another good idea is to learn from food cultures that you might be unfamiliar with. Your local public library is probably a good place to start looking at cookbooks.

What kinds of sauces do you want to learn to make?

SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (257,041)
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10/7/13 11:42 P

Partly because cost is a factor, look for things like red lentils and dried split peas. They have a long shelf life, and are very cheap. I use them in casseroles and soups, plus many other ways (even in pizza, making a real thick sauce and including them in that.) You can reduce the meat, but still get the protein PLUS you will get fibre, which you don't with meat. If you take advantage of the specials when doing your shopping, get as much as you can afford, particularly with meat and veges, and bulk cook, then freeze in single serve containers. It makes it cheaper in part because you are using one lot of power/gas to do the cooking/washing up.

I also have dried fruits that I buy on special. I sometimes add dried apricots (the tasty baking ones) to chicken casseroles, along with onion, capsicum and carrot. It is really nice with mashed potato, or couscous (which is also one of my staples.)

At times if I haven't felt the best I have put milk with the plain couscous and some chopped dates and a little cinnamon, and microwaved it. It is yummy and filling.

Have you thought about making your own hummus. It only takes a couple minutes. You can use cans of chickpeas, or if you want 'hummus with a difference' think of cannellini beans or mixed bean salad.

Rather than buying stir fry veges, why not make your own up? It will be cheaper.

Do you have protein staples in your pantry? Things like canned salmon or tuna - even chicken pieces. They are normally good prices on specials.

Rather than buying apple sauce, it is a lot cheaper to make it - if you buy the right sort of apple it pulps down quite easily. I use the skin and all and wizz it up with the wizz stick to make sure that the skin it pureed up properly, too. That way you get all the nutrients/fibre. You can take advantage of specials, there, too, and freeze them in little containers to take out as and when you need them.

Where it comes to college days/busy days, you could have some pre-made sliced bread/butter and take a little can of tuna/salmon to open when you need it. Can you make some savoury muffins with all the goodies in it - things like a little cheese, finely chopped celery, ham, corn, onion, capsicum. They are good for a snack. Hard boiled eggs are also good to take for a snack or as part of your main meal. I made my g/son lots of various salads, and because they go limp if dressed too soon, I got a heap of tiny little snap-lock plastic bags and put a wee bit of dressing into them which I popped on top of his salads, whether it be a Greek Salad, Coleslaw, Mushroom Salad, or Potato Salad. I also put a frozen Meat Pattie (home made) into the lunch box, too. It acts as a cooler for the rest of the food.


Edited by: SLIMMERKIWI at: 10/7/2013 (23:46)
SARAHMO4 Posts: 336
10/7/13 11:02 P

I am trying to find some ideas for what I can buy to use with what I already have to cook new and healthy meals on a small budget. I tend to do a big shopping trip at the beginning of a month and buy staples to make meals with. Where I struggle is 1. variety 2. not going over $20.00-$30.00 to spend for food each week. Here's what I typically have in my home for foods at any given time.

Fridge: eggs, bottled water, butter, applesauce, apples, some kind of shredded or chunk cheese, bread, lunch meat, basic condiments (ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, jelly, etc. nothing too crazy except for hummus and salsa con queso usually), and sometimes cauliflower or broccoli depending upon what I am wanting to cook for veggies. Also colored peppers and cabbage are frequents in the fridge.

Freezer: chicken breasts, ground beef, extras of bread butter and cheese, stir fry veggies, pork chop or some kind of non-chicken/beef meat, homemade waffles, frozen berries, and some kind of breyers ice cream.

Pantry/cupboard: canned corn, peas, and green beans, diced tomatoes, pastas ranging from egg noodles, penne, thin spaghetti and garden veggie varieties. All except the egg noodles and veggie rotini are barilla pasta plus. Wheat is too much for me and I am not a big fanatic of wheat pasta. Other things are healthy creamed soups, minute rice, granola bars, 2-3 boxes of cereal, quick oats, peanut butter, olive oil, lots of baking spices but not a lot of herbs or seasonings. Theirs also sugar, flour, baked beans, tuna, ramen noodles, saltines, and various bottled sauces or dressings for pasta, salads, and sandwiches. I do some homemade, price deters me from some and knowledge of how to make homemade sauces easily.

I want to try knew things and be able to buy what I enjoy every week. I love hummus, fruits and being creative, it just doesn't mesh well to buy everything I would like that's a good choice in one week. The stores where I shop for food are Hyvee, Fareway, Aldi's, and Wal-Mart if need be. Any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated. I also cook for just myself most of the time and anything that doesn't take a lot of time or can be done ahead of time or in a crockpot/oven is great. On the go ideas for college and lunches there or busy days would be helpful too.

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