crockpot

All posts tagged crockpot

S-t-r-e-t-c-h ….

Published July 19, 2016 by lynn k scott

….those grocery dollars.  It never fails…expenses keep coming in, paychecks seem to get smaller and yet your family insists on eating…and more than once per day!  It seems it’s a never ending food cycle.

I feel your pain and understand completely.  While I only have three mouths to feed, my daughter is pretending she is at least two people and we haven’t even hit the teen years yet!  There is hope.  There are ways you can stretch your food dollars bills.  Odds are, you have heard of some of these, but hopefully, at least one suggestion will be new.

The first option is coupons.  Yes, I said, and you might dread it; but they work.  I used to be an extreme couponer and in CA, that’s not easy.  However, there are deals to be found you just need to know how to access them.

  • Read the coupon policies for the store(s) you shop.
  • Learn how to stack coupons:  a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon used on the same item.  If the item is on sale….WOO HOO…maximum savings!
  • Read the coupons.  Some will only let you buy four of the same item in the same trip or same day.
  • Match coupons to sale items.

Next…shop multiple stores.  I know some will say, “I don’t have time to make several trips.” I respond with your wallet can’t afford you not to (true for many people).  Don’t drive all over creation.  Plan your trips and hit several stores in the same area.

Use saving apps on your cell phone.  Have you heard of ibotta?  It’s almost like coupons on your phone.  Granted, there is a pre-selected group of coupons to choose from.  You simply click on the items you use.  Sometimes you watch a 10 second video, other times you answer a question or sometimes the item unlocks immediately.  You can save anywhere from $0.25 to a dollar or more.  You simply purchase the item, scan the UPC code, take a picture of the receipt and “send”.  Once you reach $20.00, you can cash out your earnings.

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Another app is the savings catcher on the Walmart app.  You simply scan your receipt into the savings catcher and it will scan other stores in the area.  If the item you bought was cheaper somewhere else, you get the difference.  When you cash out, you can do so right to your phone and the cashier can scan the bar code right from the phone!

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There are many more apps, including apps from your grocery store, but I’ll stop there.  Ask your friends and family which ones they use.  I know my friends who hate to clip coupons will use the apps instead.

Shop local.  Learn where your local produce stands are.  They are typically local to your community and tend to have some great deals.  The one close to my job, I can get 10 pounds of potatoes for $2.00 almost all year long.  I can get Granny-Smith apples usually under $.50 a pound.  Go where the savings are.  You’re helping a local business owner meet his financial obligations too!

Buy fruits and vegetables in season.  To this day, I still meet people who have no idea what that means.  “In season” is when the fruit or vegetables are grown and harvested.  For example, cranberries are common and cheaper in the fall.  Blueberries are in season, right now, as I type this.  You can pay $1.98 for 18 oz. of blueberries in season, compared to $4.00 for the same package when they are out of season.  Know your seasons and plan your meals around them.

Buy meats that cook low and slow.  That sounds a bit odd to people.  However, the tougher cuts of meat such as pot roast, corned beef, stew beef, etc. tend to be cheaper than the nicer cuts of meat; tri-tip, london broil, etc..  They require longer cooking times and normally at a lower temperature.  If you don’t have a crock pot…GET ONE!  They come in very handy for these cuts of meat, will cook all day without you standing over them and will be fall off the bone tender when you’re done.

What’s in a name…brand that is…There are just some brand named items that are equally as good in the store brand version.  Stop paying for advertising of the brand and start thinking about the item.  Are the primary ingredients the same?  Odds are they will work or taste the same too.  Read labels and see what I’m talking about.  I’m not saying to give up your favorite shampoo or favorite snack, just know, the store varieties have something to offer.

Lastly, for the purpose of this post anyway, make a list and stick to it.  If  your like me, you make the list of needed items and then forget it when you’re ready to go shopping.  Once you’re primarily done with the list, put it in your purse, pocket, with the car keys…somewhere you will remember it.  If that hasn’t worked, many cell phones are able to record lists or notes.  There are even cell phone apps that are strictly for shopping lists.

So there is a handful of saving suggestions; just the tip of the savings iceberg really.  It’s enough to get you started, at any rate.  If you have suggestions on making those grocery dollars stretch, please feel free to leave a comment.  There are so many more options available than this humble list.

 

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Crock Pot: BBQ Pulled Pork

Published January 15, 2016 by lynn k scott

Before heading out the door for work yesterday, I managed to start the crock pot so dinner would be done when I arrived home.

I had thawed some boneless pork roast.  You can use the bone-in kind too, but you just have to remove it from the bone.   That’s a time-consuming task that I’m willing for forego the majority of the time, esp. when we’re talking pennies on the dollar for boneless.

I cut the meat into chunks and placed them in the crock pot.  Then sprinkled with salt, pepper, cumin and paprika.  After giving the meat a quick toss so spread the seasonings around, I added about a cup or so of (homemade) vegetable stock.  I then added roughly a quarter cup of BBQ sauce (gluten-free, of course).  Gave then crock a quick stir, add the lid, set on low for 6 hours and off to work I go.

When I come home, the pork chunks are a bit browner and ready to be shredded.

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The easiest way to shred these is put the pork in a bowl with some of the cooking liquid (1/4-1/2 cup or so).  Take your hand mixer and begin shredding.  No need to tear apart with two forks, the blender is king for this task!

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Once the pork is shredded, you can add a bit more liquid if you think the meat needs it.  If not, you can add more BBQ sauce or serve it on the side.  Take the shredded meat, pile onto a hamburger bun and enjoy.  When I could still eat hamburger buns, before I added the top of the bun, I’d add some mayo-free coleslaw.  Heaven on a bun!

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It’s in the bag

Published May 24, 2015 by lynn k scott

Drop that can!  Oh, the convenience of it all.  Pick up a can of beans to use as a side dish or to use in preparing other dishes. I have come to tell you, there is another way. Did you know that all sorts of beans are sold dry and in bags? Amazing, right?

I never paid attention to bagged beans growing up.  My mother was less than a good cook.  It’s not being mean.  When the dog refused to eat her cooking, it was a validation that it wasn’t just us kids that didn’t like the food.  Just about everything she made came out of a can or was already processed.

Many moons later, as I made a commitment to myself to cook healthier, to avoid food allergens and chemical processing, I use dried beans exclusively in my cooking.  Granted, dried beans do require a few extra steps, but they are very tiny steps that yield much better results than anything that plops out of a can.

Last night, I put some navy beans in some water and soaked them overnight.  This morning, I dumped them into a colander and then added them to my crockpot.  This is my preferred method of cooking beans.  The crockpot is your friend.  If you don’t currently have one, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND picking one up.

When you utilize dried beans, you have the option of using recipes that suit your needs.  You get the opportunity of teaching your children to cook.  Crockpot cooking is still cooking.  After I added the beans to the crockpot, I diced up a small onion and added that too.

My daughter came into the kitchen and I let her help mix the sauce to pour over the beans.  I opened a jar of ketchup that I had previously canned.  Added the ketchup to some water, added some brown sugar, some molasses, a little apple cider vinegar, a bit of salt and pepper and let her whisk those ingredients together.

She poured the blended mixture over the beans and stirred to combine.  Then I had her place the lid on, set the crockpot to 6 hours and turn it “on”. This afternoon, we will have baked beans.  I will probably can several jars for use this summer.

My daughter really enjoys helping in the kitchen.  Making recipes like this teaches her about food, allows her to ask questions about the ingredients and she sees how raw ingredients come together to make a new dish.

The next time you are about to pick up a can of kidney, pinto, black or baked beans (just to name a few), think about making your own.  I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the results.

Frugality – Take 2

Published February 22, 2015 by lynn k scott

I’ve already written how “frugality” isn’t a 4-letter word.  In fact, I took my own suggestion and am adding a second installment to my original piece.  As I’ve previously stated, with the rising cost of everything these days, many of us need to make our money stretch farther than ever before.  Hopefully, some of the following tips might be useful to you.

  • When grocery shopping, make sure to check the discounted meat section.  Just about every store has one of these sections.  If items are expiring within a day or two, most stores will offer 25%-75% off.  Is the meat bad?  Not at all. However, the store can’t sell it past the “sell by date”, so you might as well save some money on perfectly good meat that needs to be eaten asap or frozen for a future date.
  • Use your crockpot.  If you don’t have one of these useful kitchen appliances, I highly suggest going out and picking one up.  I use mine weekly and have for the last four years, since discovering this time-saving appliance.  First, it allows you to buy tougher cuts of meat, which are usually cheaper than choice cuts of meat.  Since most crockpot recipes take 4+ hours to cook, that’s perfect for the tougher cuts which need that low and slow method.  Second, the crockpot is ideal if you have a very busy schedule as dinner is done when you return home.  It’s one less thing you need to worry about or fit into your schedule.  Lastly, the summer months can be brutal.  Why add the heat of an oven or even the stove for that matter?  The crockpot makes a variety of dishes, all while sitting on your counter and NOT heating your entire house.  Hint:  If you have to buy a crockpot, I recommend the digital kind that will automatically change the setting to “warm” when the cooking time has ended.  This is a great feature for if you’re out of the house all day.  You don’t have to be home to turn it off.
  • Purchase fruits and vegetables in season.  In season?  If you’re unfamiliar with that term, it means, when fruits and vegetables are usually grown.  Example, tomatoes are a summer item.  Buying them in the winter means you are paying higher prices for them to be imported to your area.  This is a good time to learn to eat new fruits and vegetables.  Believe me, you really don’t need to pay $2.00/lb for tomatoes in December.
  • Shop the sales, not the recipe.  Lately, I’ve seen lots of blogs about how to prepare meals ahead of time, freezing them, etc.  What those recipes fail to mention is that you still need to purchase the ingredients, if you don’t already have them on hand.  This could cost you more than the time you are saving by prepping them ahead.  If you’re not shopping more than one store, you’re wasting your money.  Plain and simple.  Today there are stores within a mile or two of each other; some even just across the street from one another  Plan to review the store ads, make lists, and make purchases based on the sales offered.  You’ll be surprised at how much you save.
  • Use club or store rewards cards.  Some people absolutely despise this option.  Yet, this is one of the easiest ways to save.  Most store rewards cards let you load the card online and then just go shopping.  It’s a good way to get the sales, but some are geared toward your purchases.  I like knowing I may receive $1.00 off a box of pasta because I buy it often.  Some stores offer gas rewards.  I have to go grocery shopping anyway.  Why shouldn’t I want $0.10 off my gas purchase the next time I fill up?
  • Coupon.  There I said it.  This one scares more people than using the club cards.  It’s not really difficult and can take time to learn, but even if you end up saving $10/week on groceries, that’s still $10.00.  If you learn to combine coupons with sale items, your savings increases considerably.  There are many online groups that can help you learn to coupon.  NEVER pay someone to teach you!  That’s just wasting money and they are taking advantage of the fact you’re still learning.  Ask coworkers, church members, or look for couponing sites online.  Heck, shoot me an email, and I’ll help you.  No sense paying for what you’ll eventually figure out and the object is saving money, not spending it.  Just a tip:  review each store’s coupon policy online.  It’s also a good idea to print and carry the store’s coupon policy with you while you shop.  You’d be astounded at the lack of training the cashiers and their managers have when it comes to accepting coupons.  Have the proof and you’ll have the savings.
  • If you have a smartphone, then you should be using shopping apps.  These are apps that pay you to purchase certain items.  You’re normally going to buy eggs, milk, juice, etc.  Why not earn $.25 to $1.00 on items you are already buying.  Some apps allow you to cash out at $10.00, while others cash out at $20.00.  Either way, they are easy to use and they reward you for purchasing items you use.  Some shopping apps I use are Ibotta, Snap, and Checkout51.  If you shop online, try using Ebates and/or Swagbucks.  It’s the same principal as the other apps.  Get paid on your purchases.  Every bit back helps.

I hope you’re able to use some of my frugality tips.  I’m sure there will be a “Take 3” in the near future.

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