Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for April, 2005

[ Currently Eating: Crackers ]

Campbell's Cream of Mushroom SoupI find there’s a lot of uses for canned cream of mushroom soup, the majority of which are casseroles. So I try to keep a few cans around all the time. Actually, the key is to buy ‘em in bulk (6 for $3?) at CostCo once again because as the bottom of this particular can I’m looking at says, it will last until MARCH 2007. That’s 2 years! Cheap Eats pantry heaven. Plus you can get your Andy Warhol fix having all those soup cans lined up…

Anyhow, I actually like cream of mushroom soup plain as it is, straight up, just add water. Seriously, I don’t even add milk sometimes. I can hear you cringe. But it’s actually really good and surprisingly filling. Here’s a sample:

A Mushroom Soup Lunch

Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup (1 can) — $0.50
French Bread (1 small mini loaf) — $0.25

Salt / pepper / water — negligible

Total: $0.75

Put Campbell’s soup in pot. Add water. Bring to boil stirring often, or it will burn on the bottom like no tomorrow. Meanwhile put your bread in the toaster and toast it up. Put soup in a large, no, HUGE bowl. Help yourself to bread. Yum!

Duhrr.. I know, there’s more to it than that. And you don’t want to do that every day. But that’s 75 cents for a pretty good lunch. I actually use crackers (saltines are a favorite)

Mushroom soup gets really useful when you use it as a base for sauces. The stuff is condensed so it’s actually really tasty. (Health-concerned cheap eaters should be concerned that it has a bunch of MSG in it… but that’s another tale.) I’ll be posting some of those recipes later, but you can basically use it to make anything from Turkey A La King to Tuna Casserole to Smothered Chicken. What makes a difference is the amount of dilution and what you use to dilute it (water, milk, chicken stock). It also makes pretty durned fast gravy.

Actually, here’s a “Chicken Bake” right off the can:

Chicken Bake

Campbell’s Mushroom Soup (1 can) — $0.50
2 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast Halves – $2.00
pepper / water — negligible

Total: $2.50

I modified this to a half recipe, plus I like more gravy! Place chicken in 2 qt. baking dish, glass is good. Spread soup evenly over the chicken and cover it. You probably want to dilute the soup a bit w/ water and add some black pepper.

Bake the whole shebang for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Take it out. That’s it.

Continue reading “Campbells Mushroom Soup” …

4/28/05 | Foie Gras Faux Pas

[ Currently Eating: Cream of Mushroom Soup ]

Man. I usually don’t try to pretend I’m a high and mighty food altruist. Let’s just say that the philosophy of Cheap Eats and environmentally friendly vegan idalism do not mix well. But anyhow, I never found anything remotely interesting about Foie Gras, otherwise known as duck (or goose) liver. I hate liver, for one. Sure, I’ve seen the Iron Chefs use bushels of it in cooking. It’s like a race to see who can whip out the liver first.

Cheap Eats Hall of Shame, say welcome to your new member.

Even for someone not knowing anything about Foie Gras, a person looking at those mealy boulder sized chunks they use on cooking shows would probably think … this thing came from a DUCK? That’s exactly what I thought. I thought maybe it was some sort of Gigantic species of dinosaur duck or something. Well, they actually get the duck livers that big by pumping enormous quantities of food into the stomachs of the birds, thereby causing their livers to expand to huge sizes. Gag!

Continue reading “Foie Gras Faux Pas” …

[ Currently Eating: Tea ]

Culinary Arts Institute Books

Over the weekend, I went to a local rummage sale at a church near us. I’m always on the lookout for books, and food books at that. You really can’t beat the price of books at yard, garage and estate sales. I came across a goldmine of old books, more pamphlets than anything, printed by the Culinary Arts Institute in 1940. I’m serious, 1940!

The story with these books is that they used to be offered in the supermarkets for housewives looking for easy to prepare meals. Each book focuses on how to prepare different dishes out of one particular item or in one particular food genre. The ones shown in the photo are “250 Ways Of Serving Potatoes” and “250 Delicious Soups”. These were in great shape and I bought 10 different ones for TEN CENTS EACH. Here is a complete list of the titles I got:

“250 Ways Of Serving Potatoes”
“250 Delicious Soups”
“250 Ways to Prepare Meat”
“250 Fish and Seafood Recipes”
“500 Delicious Salads”
“250 Superb Pies and Pastries”
“300 Tasty, Healthful Dairy Dishes”
“500 Delicious Dishes From Leftovers”
“The Candy Book – 250 Recipes”
“2000 Useful Facts About Food”

Continue reading “250 Ways of Serving Potatoes” …

4/26/05 | House of Reuben

[ Currently Eating: ]

SandwichThe Detroit Free Press has a popular column by Matt Helms about Cheap Eats. This article he wrote was on a place in Detroit called “House Of Reuben”. I looked everywhere for a picture of the House of Reuben but couldn’t find one so you’ll have to be content with a borrowed pic of a Reuben Sandwich. Anyhow, I have a soft spot for diners and while sit-down restaurants are always more expensive (because of tip, drinks not coming with meals, etc.) I’m often willing to sacrifice just a teeny bit of dough if it’s a good enough diner setting with good enough food. This one sounds pretty good, though it’s all the way in Michigan. They feature Reuben Sandwiches, as the name implies.

Continue reading “House of Reuben” …

[ Currently Eating: chocolate ]

Green Onions
One important thing to remember about Cheap Eating is that food storage is nearly as important as low cost. Staples like beans, rice, canned vegetables, and dry pasta are gold for eaters on a budget because you can buy them in bulk without worrying about them going bad quickly.

Vegetables and especially green, non-root vegetables (not carrots or potatoes, for instance) are a whole different story. While the price of green onions and parsley isn’t going to break the bank, it can be annoying if anything to have to keep buying a fresh batch when the ones you have go bad in a few days.

So it’s important to properly store your green vegetables in order to get the most usage out of them. One important thing to note is that at the grocery store, the veggie section often has these auto-sprayers timed to shoot out cold mist in order to keep everything fresh. While this probably works well in the market, when you take a bunch of green onions and shove it in a grocery bag and tie the top, this isn’t good news for storage. All that extra water is not going to be good for greens when stored. So I like to make sure to carry paper towels in my pocket in order to wipe off excess moisture right there at the source. Some markets actually have rolls of paper for you to do this (Albertson’s where I shop does).

Continue reading “Keeping Green Vegetables Fresh” …

[ Currently Eating: Turkey Sandwich ]

Banquet Pepperoni Pizza MealPart 4 : Banquet Pepperoni Pizza Meal
Yep, it’s back. The Banquet Frozen Meal review parade rolls on, this time with an interesting looking Pepperoni Pizza Meal. It’s been about an even number of standouts and duds so far with reviewing the Banquet line, but remember that these are all only ONE dollar so beggars can’t be gourmet eaters .

Banquet Pepperoni Pizza MealAnyhow, this Pepperoni Pizza was a bit of a bummer. I couldn’t get the cheese to “stretch” like on the box picture and the actual pizza rectangle certainly seemed a bit smaller, maybe the size of one of those squares. More disappointing was the taste. I made this in the oven so I was expecting the crust to be excellent but it had only minor crunch and the pizza sauce was pretty much ketchup. The cheese was OK, but the pepperoni “crumbs” might have been left off in favor of just more pizza.

Continue reading “Banquet Pepperoni Pizza Meal” …

[ Currently Eating: Mushroom Soup ]

I’d been looking forward to Dave Lieberman’s debut show ever since hearing about it awhile back. I just finished watching it today and at least for this initial show am pretty impressed. Some initial thoughts:

Down to earth, accessible.
Genuinely concerned with prices.
Will use canned food.

Show is actually too short!
I would like it if, like Rachel Ray’s 40 Dollars A Day, he gave each recipe’s total price.

First, it should come as no surprise that he isn’t going to concern himself ONLY with Cheap Eats… forming a cooking show around that theme would be highly unrealistic especially on the frou-frou Food Network. However, I’ve got to give him some props for at least attempting to inject some cheap eats tips into various parts of his show.

To start with, New York food writer and chef Dave Lieberman is actually a pretty down to earth guy on TV which makes the show more palatable. He isn’t condescending, stuck up, or acerbic like Bobby Flay can be, yet he’s more organized and less sloppy than The Naked Chef. He reminds me of college student or something. A funny side note is that he sounds almost exactly like Scott Wolf (from Party of Five in the 90s).

Anyhow, in this first show he sets up 4 different dishes for a last minute dinner party. I started writing down all the ingredients before I found out they’re available on the food network site:

Cannellini Bean, Red Onion, and Arugula Salad
Roasted Cauliflower
Apricot Glazed Chicken with Dried Plums and Sage
Pudding and Berry Tart with Graham Cracker Crust

Continue reading “Good Deal With Dave Lieberman” …



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