Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Any recipe ideas using these foods?

06-15-2011, 09:25 AM
My husband and I have $224 a month for groceries in foodstamps. We try to use coupons, but can never save more than $10-20 per transaction (roughly). We either shop at Kroger or Walmart. We jump between things a lot, but these are some of the things we usually buy every month:

Bagged frozen veggies,
Bagged frozen blueberries,
apples (if on sale),
Frozen boneless, skinless chicken,
Dried beans,
White quinoa (we used to get red, but the store stopped selling it for some reason),
wheat Bread,
wheat Noodles,
Natural peanut-butter
Baby Spinach,
Greek Yogurt,
Frozen salmon/canned salmon,
wheat tortillas.

Try as I may, I cannot seem to stay under 2000 calories. For dinner the last three nights we've been having two steak, onions, and peppers fajitas on wheat tortillas with a serving of cheese, lots of baby spinach, salsa, and a serving of Greek Yogurt. That averages out to nearly 1000 calories by itself (or over 1000 if we use two servings of cheese), leaving little for me to eat during the day if I'm anticipating this meal later. I like Greek Yogurt and blueberries (roughly 200 calories) or a peanut-butter and banana sandwich (roughly 370 calories) earlier in the day, but I can't think of anything else to make (though I have a freezer full of frozen veggies and chicken and salmon and even squid). I also have a thing of oatmeal that's been sitting on my counter for who-knows-how-long.

Taking items from my list, do any of you have any meal or snack suggestions that would be low in calories and satisfying? Or other ingredients I could buy that would be affordable to make a meal with my ingredients?

06-15-2011, 10:33 AM
Your foods list looks healthy.
I would suggest having half of what you normally have.
Have one fajita. Have half of a PB and banana sandwich.
Or ditch the tortillas and just eat the meat and veggies.

I just grill meat (the salmon or chicken) and have the veggies on the side.
Make half of your plate veggies and one quarter protein, and one quarter a carb.

06-15-2011, 10:58 AM
I'm gonna go with the "Half it" suggestion.

Have one tortilla instead of two. Maybe with more veggies if you want it to be just as filling.

Chicken can actually be pretty easy to deal with as long as you don't overcook it. It can be baked with just a little bit of oil and seasoning on top. Any type of seasoning you can think of. Even just a little bit of bbq sauce.

I like Salsa Chicken, it's pretty cheap and easy.... Jar of salsa, Can of Diced tomatoes, Sliced up Chicken breasts. And simmer until chicken is cooked through and you can shred it up. It's good for several meals and you can add in veggies or spices to fit your palate.

Oatmeal, btw, is just fantastic with cut up fruit, or even your own added in brown sugar or maple syrup or honey (just a little is a lot). You can even put a little bit in with some yogurt.

06-15-2011, 11:06 AM
You can make a quinoa salad which consists of chopped up baby spinach, onions, bell peppers, cooked quinoa, salt, pepper, lemon olive oil.. You can skip the lemon olive oil and just use lemon juice to cut down on calories. Pair it up with a grilled chicken breast for a yummy healthy meal.

06-16-2011, 02:08 AM
Agree with other posters- just eat smaller portions. That way you stay under your caloric limit and you make food last longer! :)

I eat LOTS of eggs- they are nutritious and cheap. Maybe do some omelets with cheese, spinach, and salsa.

Stir fries- stir fry bagged veggies with coconut milk and peanut butter or soy sauce (or just soy sauce). The first makes a sort of a Thai-flavored peanut stir fry and the second a more Chinese-style stir fry. Very filling- will last for at least a couple meals. Eat with rice or wheat noodles.

Homemade refried beans- tons of recipes online, just cut down on the oil. Or, cook the beans normally and add a packet of taco seasoning (super cheap). Make a taco salad- cabbage/lettuce/spinach with beans, ff yogurt (instead of sour cream), tomatoes, salsa, cheese.

Lots more you can do with beans. Bean soup, dal (Indian-style beans, delicious. Some good recipes online if you just google it), hummus.

Smoothies! Esp with a tbs of peanut butter, they are a very filling lunch or dinner.

Lastly, the wheat tortillas, salsa, and even bread you can make at home for much cheaper. Wheat tortillas are just water and whole wheat flour with a pinch of salt and a bit of oil. They take a bit of time to roll out, but I think are worth it. Salsa is super easy- dice tomatoes, toss with onions and cilantro. Puree if you want. Again, much cheaper and you can make big batches of it. (You can also do homemade spaghetti sauce this way too). Homemade bread is just fun to make and you don't even need a bread machine :)

Not that you always have to make your own stuff, but it definitely can cut down on costs if you make your own a couple times a month.

Nola Celeste
06-16-2011, 04:52 AM
I'm going to chime in on the portion-size thing too. You may be going a little heavy on the calorie-dense ingredients (cheese, steak, yogurt) and light on the low-cal ingredients (the peppers, onions, and spinach). Coincidentally, the calorie-dense stuff also tends to be the dollar-dense stuff; you can probably get away more cheaply with meals that load up on fresh/frozen produce.

If eating only one fajita/enchilada/wrap doesn't seem like something you want to do--and I can totally understand if that's the case, because I like eating two whatevers instead of one, too--make smaller whatevers. I'm consistently able to fool myself by using smaller tortillas, less filling, etc. and serving myself two of them. It also helps to eat them on a small plate where they don't look so lonely. :D

How do you feel about pork? Some people have dietary restrictions against it, others just don't like it, but sometimes you can catch a pork tenderloin on sale and turn it into a lot of meals. One night is pork medallions, next night is a pork stir-fry, next day's lunch is paneed pork cutlets. Getting a bigger cheaper cut and learning to cut it down yourself can be a HUGE money-saver, but I don't try it with anything more complex than a pork loin or a chicken (my husband could break down an entire side of beef into primal cuts and then into all the fancy stuff, but there isn't room for that in our freezer).

Lentils are a great change from beans. For that matter, beans can be a great change from beans. If you usually do red kidney beans, try black beans. Tired of black beans? Eat white beans or pinto beans.

Look around the world for inspiring recipes. I make a mean lentil curry now, and my husband makes black beans that wouldn't be out of place in any Cuban restaurant in addition to the Louisiana red beans and rice we grew up eating. Other countries' cuisines aren't as fussy about keeping sweet and savory flavors apart, so experiment with some of those clementines in a pork or chicken dish or throw a handful of raisins and a couple of cardamom pods into your quinoa.

Use all those frozen veggies in stews, soups and curries! So cheap, so tasty, and so filling if you add in a little of whatever protein floats your boat. Ooh, and chili's good, too. Make it with lots of tomato and peppers and add in some other "stealth" vegetables from the freezer to make it lighter on calories and heavier on vitamins.

I can empathize with not having a big budget and with wanting to eat well, so I'll be reading this thread with interest! :)

06-16-2011, 07:27 AM
Thanks, everyone! I'm one of those people who can get stuck on wanting the same thing every night (hence the steak fajitas three nights in a row). Last night I made chicken burritos, but we ran out of spinach, and we didn't use yogurt, because I only have one container left, and want to use it for my breakfasts.

I was thinking of making a chicken stir-fry with peppers, onions, and quinoa tonight. I like using my slow-cooker for cooking chicken, because I can never get it cooked thoroughly cooking it other ways.

I think I might have some canned tomatoes, canned chillies, a bag of dried lentils, and a bag of dried split-peas, and a bag of wheat egg noodles, so maybe I will try to incorporate those into something.

Does anyone have any ideas for a vegetarian fajita recipe. We love mexican food in this house. lol.

Nola Celeste, thanks for the suggestions. Sadly, my husband hates pork, so I don't buy it since we're on such a tight budget.

indiblue, it's really that easy to make tortillas? You don't even need yeast? Also, how do you get them so ... bendy? Oh, and that stir-fry idea sounds interesting. I might try that, since I have unsweetened coconut milk on hand.

Lovely: That salsa chicken sounds good. I might try making it in a slow-cooker.

06-16-2011, 06:37 PM
I am wondering how you are cooking chicken and not getting it thoroughly cooked. Chicken breast in bite sized pieces should cook in 10 minutes or less.

Tomatoes, chilies and lentils could be cooked as a stew. I would not use the noodles at the same meal - too carb heavy. The split peas could be made into a nice soup and some frozen for future meals.

06-16-2011, 07:41 PM
Here's what I do for fajitas. Cut up onions (biggish chunks), and peppers and tomatoes (and sometimes a zucchini) and a jalepeno. Heat a little oil and through everything but the tomatoes and cook on quite high heat. The veggies get a little seared and it gives it a little smoky flavor. Throw the tomatoes in once has progressed. They have too much moisture and the searing doesn't work. You can use red pepper flakes instead of the jalepeno. Heat up some black beans and there's your veggie fajita.

And speaking of black beans, here's how I like them: saute onion and jalepeno, add a smidge of curry powder and cooked beans (I often use canned but cooked from dried is probably better). Add about 1/2 bunch of cilantro (chopped). Serve over brown rice with a sprinkling of cheese if desired. Add assorted veggies if desired. I've done tomatoes, zuke, and peppers.

I know you didn't mention brown rice above, but you might consider it. A little goes a long way.

06-16-2011, 07:53 PM
You may want to check out the shoestring meals forum (it's a dieting cheaply forum, there are all sorts of great money saving tips and recipes).

Also check on for money saving books and cookbooks. You can use amazon to make a list of the ones that look interesting, and then take it to your local library to check out (and even order through interlibrary loan) those that look interesting.

Good Cheap Food is an excellent back-to-basics cookbook (I bought mine from amazon for under $10 including shipping, there are a lot of books there you can get even cheaper - as little as $4 including the $3.99 shipping).

I have tons of money saving tips, because when we first moved to Wisconsin, we went a spell when our food budget was crazy tight. Once even $25 for a whole month (we weren't eligible for food stamps, but our medical costs left little room for anything else). And even now, we rarely spend more than $200 per month on groceries, but I'm a bargain-hunting fiend (I learned tons from the Tightwad Gazette books - which I highly recommend. If you asked for books on eating and living cheaply on freecycle, you probably can find someone wanting to get rid of them.

Hubby and I are going out for the evening, so I've got to go, but I'll post some more specific info when I get back, or tomorrow.

06-17-2011, 09:10 AM
zoodoo613: That sounds excellent! Thank you. :)

kaplods: As always, very helpful advice. :)

tommy: Thanks for the stew idea. I will try that. Um, to be honest, I'm just a bad cook. lol. My chicken always turns out pink unless I slow-cook it, though I have baked it a couple of times and it turned out fine. I'm a little paranoid of my own cooking, afraid that it will make people sick.

indiblue: I tried your stir-fry suggestion last night. It was tasty. I think I was a bit too skimpy on the peanut-butter, though, so I will add more next time. The coconut-milk made a yummy sauce when it mixed with the veggies' juice. I used a bag of stir-fry veggies, a piece of a bag of ocra, a piece of a bag of yellow squash, a bag of brussel-spouts, and two cups of shredded chicken breast. There's even leftovers for a lunch. :) I had to share some of the chicken with my cat. He was begging. lol.

06-17-2011, 10:32 AM
Yeah you cant go wrong with stew, dice the steak/chicken and fry on a hot pan for a few minutes. chicken diced cooks relatively quick, and literally just add it with all the vegetables you want, add a tin of chopped tomatoes, a few cloves of garlic and maybe a chilli pepper (remove the seeds). You can leave this slow roast for an hour or two if you want. all is will happen is the vegetables will become softer and maybe mushy (which isnt a bad thing) it turns out almost like a mediterranian stew/ casserole. Another option is chicken curry in exactly the same way, if you like I can post my own actual recipe I use, and it tastes fine and no unhealthy sauces etc. I make batches and freeze them in containers, so all I have to do is boil less than a half cup rice/pasta and just defrost the frozen dinner in the microwave. That way you arent tempted by quick options for unhealthy dinner because its ready in 10 minutes.

06-18-2011, 07:22 AM
Sure. Post it. That sounds wonderful, irishlad. :)

06-18-2011, 10:10 AM
Basically you can add anything to curry. But for me I use about 6 chicken fillets, diced into cubes. I use, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 2-3 teaspoons indian hot curry powder and a few cloves of garlic (2-3medium cloves). Just dice the chicken and mix the spices in a bowl and sprinkle it over the diced chicken and mix it in, you can add more or less after you make the first batch (I actually use more, but like it hot) and 1/2 - 1 chilli without seeds. Add a little oil to a non stik wok (literally maybe a teaspoonful). Let this heat and add half of a chopped onion diced finely, and the crushed garlic, and the chopped chilli. Leave this fry for maybe 30 seconds then add the spice coated diced chicken, leave on a fairly high heat, my cooker goes up to 6, i start at 6 to fry it for maybe a minute, stirring all the time and then lower it to 4, add some water (To stop the chicken burning and sticking to the wok). Cover this and keep some water in the pan (maybe a half glass) and just leave this boil away while you prep the vegetables, keeping an eye on it so it doesnt stick or burn.
I dice about 6 peppers, red and green (I avoid yellow because they contain sugar I believe). Mushrooms (about 10 medium). Onion 1-2 large onions, and anything else you want to add. I add brocolli, baby corn on the cob, green beans, literally anything you want. dice them into strips (Any way you want at all).
After these are chopped and diced I get a large saucepan, put the chicken from the wok into this (wok isnt big enough lol) and add all the chopped peppers and veg (You can also add some finely sliced apple, it works well). Just leave this big pot on the heat for as long as you want, with about 2-3 glasses of water in it at the start, water will come out of the vegetables as they cook. I can leave it on the heat for anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours. Often just let it simmer away there. how you will know is by the vegetables, see are they crunchy or soft (soft for me, but it depends how you like them). Then I make the sauce, I get a packet of hot curry powder, for curry sauce, and add two tablespoons (5-4 tea spoons) with 2 oxo cubes (Beef stock cubes) to cold water (about 2-3cm up on the glass), stir it for a minute with a fork to take the lumps mout and microwave for about 30 seconds to thicken it slightly. then add this to the pot and leave it continue simmering, simmering will reduce the water and thicken the sauce slightly. Basically thats it, sometimes I add some tomatoes or a tin of shopped tomatoes to bulk up the sauce. this makes for me about 4-5 dinners, freeze it and just throw it in the microwave and while the rice is boiling the microwave will heat and defrost the curry. the only problems is the sauce may not thicken, add some extra stock cube or curry powder to do this (You can use flour either). Really its trial and error so maybe make a small batch first, i.e 1 chicken fillet 1 pepper, etc so you see how it turns out. That way you know to add more or less of everything, and just scale it up to get it right. Its relatively simple, just att eh spices to the chicken and after that just cook everything. You can even put it all in a roasting pot and leave it for hours in the oven. Once their is fluid on it it wont dry out or burn, and will just soften all the vegetables up nicely. If you require fiurther information just elt me know. I just like it because you can put any vegetables at all in it to bulk it up. and no canned sauces or tins or jars so its fairly healthy (apart from the tablespoons of curry powder for the sauce, which we can live with).

06-18-2011, 05:07 PM
You can save a lot of money by buying a beef roast and slice it into steaks yourself. If you google "cutting a roast into steaks" you will find articles on which roasts to use, and how to cut them. For example, the chucky eye roll, or boneless chuck roll is essentially the same cut of meat as a ribeye.

I tend to overcook chicken too, which is why I buy bone-in thighs or leg quarters. They seem to be the least popular cut, so the sales tend to be awesome. I never pay more than $1.25 per pound for chicken, and can usually find really good sales on legs and thighs (less than $1 per pound). Then I use them in the crockpot to make about a dozen different varieties of pulled or stewed chicken (I just have to remove the bones and the skin after cooking, before serving. You can remove the skin before cooking too, if you thaw the thighs first).

For example, last week I made a buffalo chicken version that was awesome (I found the recipe on youtube when I was looking for lower carb slow-cooker recipes). I put four frozen chicken thighs into the crockpot, then added a bottle of hot sauce (I actually used half a bottle of two different hot sauces I bought at the dollar store). That's all the recipe called for, but I also added some dehydrated chopped onion and some garlic.

I set the crockpot to low and 12 hours later, when the meat was falling off the bones I turned off the heat and let it cook before putting the crock in the fridge. When it was cool, I pulled out the bones and skin and used my washed hands to pull the chicken into threads (you can also use two forks). I put the crock back in the linter and turned it on high. When it started to bubble I added a tablespoon of tomato paste and Splenda to taste.

Since I have a lot of recipes that call for just a bit of tomato paste, Whenever I open a can, I drop tablespoons of tomato paste onto wax or pastry paper and then freeze. Once they're frozen, I peel them off off the paper and put them into a ziploc freezer bag. That way I don't have to have an open can in the fridge.

My endless varieties of pulled chicken are essentially the same. Chicken thighs or quarters simmered in a sauce with fresh or dry onions and/or bell pepper.

Other sauces I've used

cola barbecue
1 cup of diet Cola (Splenda sweetened, because aspartame breaks down during cooking) and 1 cup of ketchup or tomato sauce.

sweet and sour
1 cup of diet orange soda and 1 cup ketchup or tomato sauce and 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce (other oriental seasonings such as ginger, optional).

chicken cacciatorrey
1 can of condensed tomato soup, 1 can of diced tomatoes, italian seasoning, (sliced onion and bell pepper optional)

chicken romanov

1 can of cream of mushroom soup, sliced onions and 1 small can mushrooms (optional), and right before serving, stir in some sour cream (otherwise the sour cream seperates).

Any of these can be made with a beef roast instead of chicken thighs.

Then I serve them with a starch - tortillas, rice, quinoa, pasta, cauliflower rice (rice grated and steamed to simulate rice) or mashed cauliflower/potatoes or baked potatoes.

I shop oriental stores for things like rice, beansprouts, cabbage, bok choy, soy sauce, fish sauce (awesome even in American dishes in place of worcestershire sauce), canned mushrooms, scallions, cilantro, basil... because the prices on these items are far cheaper than in most other grocery stores (often the price per item will be the same, but the quantity will be much larger and for some items, like the scallions and herbs, much fresher).

We buy in bulk whenever we can, but always calculate the price per pound or per ounce, because the biggest isn't always the best deal (but it usually is).

So many of the money saving tips I learned came from the Tightwad Gazette that I recommend reading it and any other similar book or website you can find. It seems overwhelming at first, but every little bit you can save, adds up.

Searching for low-budget cooking cookbooks is a bit of a hobby and I've read most of the books my library has (and some I liked enough to buy on when I could find them for under $10 including shipping)

For example here are some I've either read and liked, or are wanting to read (I'm on the waiting list for some of these books, because they're so popular in this economy)

Miserly Mom cookbooks (there are several cookbooks)

Vegan on the cheap : great recipes and simple strategies that save you time and money / Robin Robertson.

Budget dinners! : 100 recipes your family will love.

The $5 dinner mom cookbook : 200 recipes for quick, delicious, and nourishing meals that are easy on the budget and a snap to prepare / Erin Chase.

How to feed your whole family a healthy, balanced diet / Gill Holcombe.
by Holcombe, Gill.

$3 soups and stews : delicious, low-cost dishes for your family that everyone will love! / Ellen Brown.

$3 meals your kids will love : delicious, low-cost dishes for the whole family / Ellen Brown.

Better homes and gardens budget-friendly meals / Better homes and gardens.

Family feasts for $75 a week : a penny-wise mom shares her recipe for cutting hundreds from your monthly food bill / Mary Ostyn.
(I haven't read this yet, I'm on the waiting list for it.)

Taste of Home dinner on a dime : [403 budget-friendly family recipes] / [editor, Janet Briggs].

Healthy meals for less : great-tasting simple recipes under $1 a serving / Jonni McCoy.

Budget meals : save big $$$ with smart ways to shop and efficient ways to cook.

The thrifty cook : 175 best ever meals on a budget / Lucy Doncaster. (haven't gotten this one yet, either)

$3 meals in minutes : delicious, low-cost dishes for your family that can be prepared in no time / Ellen Brown.

The everything meals on a budget cookbook : high-flavor, low-cost meals your family will love / Linda Larsen.

55 budget recipes for family meals : delicious, nutritious and economical dishes shown step by step in 280 fabulous colour photographs / Lucy Doncaster.

Diabetes meals on $7 a day-- or less : how to plan healthy menus without breaking the bank / Patti B. Geil, Tami A. Ross.

Student's go vegan cookbook : over 135 quick, easy, cheap, and tasty vegan recipes / Carole Raymond.

Taste of home's Budget suppers / [editor, Jean Steiner].

Cheap & easy : a cookbook for girls on the go / Sandra Bark and Alexis Kanfer ; illustrated by Vin Ganapathy.

Miserly meals : healthy and tasty recipes under 75 cents per serving / by Jonni McCoy.

Fast, cheap, and easy : 100 original recipes that make the cooking as much fun as the eating / JoAnna m. Lund. (this author relies a bit too heavily on processed foods for my tastes, but she does give exchange information, which I like because I'm on an exchange plan).

Eating economically is just plain smart : how we feed our family of 7 for less than $50 per week / Mary Jane & Jeff Cardarelle-Hermans.

Cheap eating : how to feed your family well and spend less / by Pat Edwards ; illustrated by Don Nedobeck.

Flat-out, dirt-cheap cookin' cookbook / by Bruce Carlson.
(haven't read this one yet)

Better homes and gardens low-cost cooking / [editors, Mary Cunningham, Pat Teberg].

06-18-2011, 05:35 PM
I'm a big fan of soup and salad for lunch. I make vegetable soup and add protein in the form of pulses or quinoa flakes, occasionally peanut butter. Then I have a slice of bread and almond butter and make a salad to go with. Raw baby spinach is great for salads.

06-19-2011, 10:01 PM
This may have already been mentioned: put 3-4 chicken breasts in the crock pot and a jar of salsa. Cook 4 hrs on high. Shred chicken with a fork.
Yummy in tortillas (buy the smallest ones-80 calories) or on lettuce like a taco salad.

06-20-2011, 05:18 AM
Yes, you don't need yeast to do tortillas- just flour, water, and sometimes baking soda (depending on the recipe you use). Allrecipes has some good ones. I just use flour and water :). It takes a bit of time, but if you do a bunch of tortillas in one sitting you can freeze them and have them for a while :)

Glad you enjoyed the curry! Yes I usually add generous amounts of peanut butter. I usually make mine with coconut milk, peanut butter, red chili paste (Thai Kitchen has some versions you can find at many grocery stores), ginger, lemon grass, and lime juice. But you can tweak as you like. (Note: this is very similar to what I do:

You can also do curry paste + coconut milk for a delicious curry, if you get tired of peanut butter. It's lower in fat, calories, and sugar.

Pad thai and drunken noodles are other similar dishes you can cook with similar ingredients. I do a very light drunken noodles- basically just sautee your protein (chicken, tofu, etc) and bell peppers and tomatoes in soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and just a bit of brown sugar. Then toss in rice noodles into the mix and cook until noodles are coated and mixed with other ingredients.

I know several of the items I mentioned are not on your normal grocery list, but things like soy sauce, ginger, and garlic are inexpensive and last a looong time.

I've found Thai, Indian, and Mexican food to have some great inspirations for new things to do with the same "old" products. It's all about the spices, which fortunately, are calorie-free :D

06-20-2011, 04:08 PM
I used to make flour tortillas and flatbreads all the time (hubby loved them). My favorite recipe contained just flour, water, a tiny pinch of salt and sometimes a teaspoon of oil (if I was going to fry them on an oiled or buttered skillet, I wouldn't put any oil in the dough. If I was going to cook them in a non-stick pan with no oil or just a quick spray of cooking spray, then I would put oil in the dough).

I've discovered that I can't eat wheat without problems (skin issues, mostly) so I don't make them as much anymore. Hubby doesn't care for corn tortillas, and I find them a little harder to make, so I just buy a huge stack at Aldi (if you have an Aldi store near you, you can save a lot of money, and most of their brands are very good). The Aldi brand of canned soup, in my opinion, is as good or superior to Campbell's and half to one third the price (48 cents per can, I believe. And the cream of mushroom is the best I've ever tasted).

They're also the cheapest source of frozen strawberries and frozen vegetables I've every found. Their fresh produce tends to be significantly more expensive than other local sources though (except for some bulk bags of fruit and vegetables. Potatoes and onions are usually cheaper).

For many foods, Walmart has a brand as cheap as the Aldi, but you often have to look for it. For example the 50 cent canned soups at Walmart are almost always on the lowest shelf.

Also, Walmart (at least they used to) has a matching guarantee, which means if you take in the flyer from other stores, including Aldi, they will match the price - but it has to be the exact item or brand and it can't be "buy one, get one free" or any other sale that doesn't state a specific price.

I prefer Aldi to Walmart, because at Walmart the impulse purchases are far more tempting. A lot of people don't like Aldi, because they say it's hard to do all of your shopping there. They do have most of the basics, but you don't have a lot of choice. For example, with breakfast cereals, you'll find half a dozen or more choices, but never duplicates. For example, there's one brand of corn flakes, not five.

Another great thing about Aldi is their double your money back guarantee. If you return an item because it's damaged, or just because you didn't like it, they will give you double your money back. Or in the case of a damaged product, you can choose either double your money back, double your product, or your money back AND a new product.

I don't know if this is a feature of all Aldi stores, but they have been of all the Aldi stores we've used in Illinois and Wisconsin.

06-21-2011, 11:44 AM
Hubby doesn't care for corn tortillas, and I find them a little harder to make, so I just buy a huge stack at Aldi (if you have an Aldi store near you, you can save a lot of money, and most of their brands are very good). The Aldi brand of canned soup, in my opinion, is as good or superior to Campbell's and half to one third the price (48 cents per can, I believe. And the cream of mushroom is the best I've ever tasted).

They're also the cheapest source of frozen strawberries and frozen vegetables I've every found. Their fresh produce tends to be significantly more expensive than other local sources though (except for some bulk bags of fruit and vegetables. Potatoes and onions are usually cheaper).


I prefer Aldi to Walmart, because at Walmart the impulse purchases are far more tempting. A lot of people don't like Aldi, because they say it's hard to do all of your shopping there. They do have most of the basics, but you don't have a lot of choice. For example, with breakfast cereals, you'll find half a dozen or more choices, but never duplicates. For example, there's one brand of corn flakes, not five.

Another great thing about Aldi is their double your money back guarantee. If you return an item because it's damaged, or just because you didn't like it, they will give you double your money back. Or in the case of a damaged product, you can choose either double your money back, double your product, or your money back AND a new product.

I don't know if this is a feature of all Aldi stores, but they have been of all the Aldi stores we've used in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Kaplods beat me to the punch! When you mentioned just Kroger and Wally World I immediately wondered if there was an Aldi near you. The selection is much lower at Aldi but what you find there is much cheaper than what you would find at Walmart and Kroger. ( I used to do the bulk of my shopping at Aldi and supplemented with Walmart.) The amount of lower calorie and healthy items seems to be expanding for them every year as well.

I did the below search for you:

Aldi Stores in Tennessee (

You might also want to try Save A Lot stores if you have one instead:

I haven't shopped there in years since there isn't one close but when I lived close to an Aldi and Save A Lot I used to get most of my foods from both stores on the cheap with a nice variety.

Kaplods has mentioned getting food at Big Lots ( before and I would suggest it as well. No way will you find most of your items here but if you have one close you can sometimes find very unique and interesting items for much cheaper than they were originally.

Back when I had to be very frugal I also shopped at Dollar General and other dollar stores to supplement. There is a lot of junk there, but sometimes you can find things. (I remember getting packages of crab meat for a dollar a piece one time for instance.) I would definitely suggest the above stores first, but if you don't have them near you then check out a dollar store.

It is possible that you could expand the quantity and variety of food you get by shopping at some different places.

Your list of food looks great. If you are looking at losing weight I would suggest going light on the peanut butter. It is good for your but calorically dense. I hate eating very small quantities of food myself and my biggest suggestion is to add vegetables to everything to create more bulk. Throw fresh or frozen veggies in your pastas, casseroles, burritos, meat sauces, etc. Zucchini is one of my favorites to add to recipes because to me it has a mild flavor and adds nutrients and bulk without changing the flavor too much.

Suzanne 3FC
06-21-2011, 12:14 PM
Do you have a Sams Club in your area? A lot of the items on your list are available at Sams for less than Walmart. You have to know your prices, though, because not everything is a deal. Plus you can get things like giant tubs of salad and spinach for $3.98.

Do you have a good natural food store? You can buy bulk beans and grains which are much fresher than those sold at walmart. I've noticed a huge difference in the quality.

Also, most natural food stores sell herbs and spices in bulk so you can buy as small amount as you need. Ounce for ounce, buying them this way costs pennies vs dollars for packaged herbs and spices.

It's also farmers market season. You might not be able to use your food stamps there but if you normally spend cash on what your food stamps don't cover, then you could spend it there instead.

I personally don't buy any food that comes with a coupon. They are always for higher priced, highly processed foods and aren't a bargain in the end. Cook from scratch :)

07-02-2011, 10:05 PM
Irishlad, your curry recipe sounds fantastic! I can't wait to go out and buy hot curry powder so I can make it. I think I'll add fresh ginger, too. Thanks for sharing! :hug:

09-24-2011, 12:33 AM
Irishlad, I finally found hot curry powder and make your recipe tonight. I made it with 1 1/2 pounds chicken, 2 green peppers, 1 onion, 1 entire head of cauliflower, 2 1-pound cans of diced tomatoes, and about 3 inches of fresh ginger, grated. It was so good! Thank you again for sharing! :hug:

09-24-2011, 09:55 AM
I have a Save-a-lot and an Aldi. I used to shop at Save-a-lot before we got on foodstamps, but I haven't been there in a while, because our diet was really horrible when we used to shop there. Aldi is a bit far off, and because I can't drive, I carpool with my mom, and she doesn't like to go out so far. I like to buy their Roser Moth chocolates whenever I go. They satisfy my sweet tooth better than other sweets, and are a bit lower in calories. I would shop at Big lots or dollar stores, but I don't think they accept food stamps.