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Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for July, 2005


7/28/05 | Jello Pudding Pops


[ Currently Eating: Grilled Generic Cheese Toast ]

Jello Pudding PopsI don’t usually review snacks and ice cream but seeing how its summer and my brain is about to melt, the other day we picked up some Jello Pudding Pops. Yes, they make them again… though I didn’t even know they went away actually. But apparently there was even online campaigns to bring them back.

I have some good memories of eating Jello Pudding Pops and its also a bit hard to disassociate them with Bill Cosby slurring face. I would try and imitate him here, but… well, let’s not!

So I had actually forgotten that Pudding Pops actually come in 3 “flavors” in the same box and that you don’t get a choice whether or not to have those three flavors. The flavors are Chocolate, Vanilla, and Chocolate Vanilla Swirl. It’s a bit interesting that they don’t make it so you can buy them separately… I’m not sure what the idea is there. Because I certainly dig the Chocolate kind much more than the Vanilla. The “Swirl” flavor is just OK, I suspect because there’s some chocolatey goodness there which is counterbalanced by the vanilla which I don’t like as much. I dunno the vanilla just seems to have too much artificial vanilla taste to it.

So, we all know that Ice Cream ain’t cheap any more. Those days of getting Drumsticks for a quarter from the ice cream man and a Thrifty’s 15 cent ice cream scoop (a triple scoop for 45 cents!) are over. So I wasn’t too surprised that a box of 12 cost over $4.00. Definitely not your Cheapest Eats, but in the realm of ice cream it’s OK. About 35 cents a pop.

Continue reading “Jello Pudding Pops” …


[ Currently Eating: Barley Tea ]

Herb-ox Chicken Bouillon CubesA few months ago, Cheap Eats reader Earl had suggested that I try out Chicken Bouillon Cubes instead of canned Chicken Stock in cooking. I had always been interested in this, though a bit leery because I remember trying soup made out of bouillon cubes when I was a kid and being disappointed. It just had a really artificial taste to it.

A side note, I keep wanting to type “boullion” instead of “bouillon”, darn french…

But I still wanted to see how it would do as a flavor agent for simple pastas and other sauces, if not straight up as soup. Because with canned chicken stock the majority of what you’re buying is basically water. So I went down to Albertson’s to look for some bouillon cubes.

They had the generic cubes and the “Knorr” brand and a few other ones there. But I was really interested in getting one that had NO MSG in it. Not that I’m a health nut about it, but if I could avoid it I might try.

In the end I picked up Herb-ox Bouillon Cubes. What a weird name. It sounds like a combination of Herbs and Botox, haha! Or maybe herb-flavored ox. Yums. Interestingly, this is made by Hormel of chili fame. In any case, it warn’t that cheap (I think it was 2 something for 25 cubes.) But I figured I’d give it a shot just because of the lack of MSG.

Reading the Hormel website I saw that Herb-ox has been made for nearly a century! I guess I’ve never bought bouillon before so I’ve never heard of it. Maybe I’ll ask my mom if she remembers it.

Continue reading “Herb-Ox Bouillon Cubes” …


[ Currently Eating: Turkey Sammich ]

Albertson's American Cheese SlicesI had been cutting back on buying Kraft American Cheese Slices because they’re just so darn expensive nowadys. Nevermind that it lasts forever in the fridge (Interestingly, they don’t. I’ve had slices of American Cheese go bad… the first indication is that they turn brown along the edges first. Time to toss it!)

But the other day, following my cheapy Cheap Eats whims, I decided to go generic and see if Albertson’s Brand “Singles” Cheese slices would be any good. They are considerably cheaper, I think between 75 cents and a buck less than Kraft.

Albertson's Cheese SlicesFirst, let’s get serious. Sliced cheese is pretty much “cheese food” that has had the hell processed out of it. I bet this was a wonder for moms when it first came out, along with Wonder Bread. Perfect slices of cheese for bag lunch sandwiches, without getting out a knife and hacking through a big block.

Kids seem to like it too. I used to eat slices of Kraft cheese straight out of the pack at times. Or, I remember having grilled cheese sandwiches in the morning for breakfast. Of course, the cheese connoisseur’s among us (or those who have been lucky enough like the winner in that old lottery commercial who says “Look at all this cheese I can finally afford!”) are going to turn down their noses. Fine, fine… it’s no parmigiana reggiano

So how do these cheese slices stack up against Kraft? I didn’t do a side by side but it was pretty shocking actually…

Continue reading “Albertsons Cheese Singles” …


[ Currently Eating: Leftovers, the king of our fridge ]

Cheetos CrunchyI gotta admit I’m pretty surprised that Cheetos won the chips poll by nearly 100 votes. I do like me some Cheetos once in awhile, but I usually go for either Doritos or Pringles (when I can get my hands on a can).

I have good memories of Cheetos in bag lunches when I was a kid… it almost seems to me that Cheetos are a more “kid-friendly” chip than other ones because they are sort of easier to eat for small hands. So, I was sort of expecting Cheetos not to get as many votes as Doritos and other chips because I thought that it would be more “adults” answering the poll. Well, looks like there are a lot of kids at heart reading Cheap Eats…

Chips Poll

I am not surprised that Pringles did so well and in fact I thought they were a dark horse to win the race just because there are a lot of hard-core Pringles fans around. I voted for Pringles myself. But I guess I was really, really surprised that Doritos came in last. I really thought that more people were into Doritos… especially college age to mid thirties peeps who I assume are most of the ones reading Cheap Eats.

I have a feeling that Doritos was blindsided by Lays, who were actually my pick to finish last. I mean, I wholeheartedly follow their slogan of “just can’t eat one”, but you’ve got to admit that Lays chips don’t have as much pizazz going for them. Doritos have got that familiar shape and cheesyness, Cheetos are unlike most chips, (shaped a bit like poop), and Pringles have a unique shape and come in a can. Lays are just potato chips. Damn they are good, but they’re pretty plain.

I’m sure one of you is going to write in to castigate me about what I just said about Lays. Oh well. Now as for the new poll… I was over at Impulsive Buy, and since Marvo decided to review the JITB root beer float, I decided to have the next poll be ICE CREAM. Perfect for this mid-summer, chair-stickin’ weather. Now, don’t get mad if I don’t have your favorite brand. I actually really wanted to put up Eskimo Pies and Klondike Bars but decided to just stick with ice cream brands for now… Dryers, Bryers, Haagen Daazs, and Ben & Jerry’s.

7/19/05 | Pumpkin Seeds


[ Currently Eating: Gu-gu-guava Juice ]

David Pumpkin SeedsThe other day I happened to be at 7-11. I was there to see if they were honoring the annual Slurpee Day on July 11. No dice. However, while pacing those short aisles looking at all the candy and stuff that’s bad for you, I saw some Pumpkin Seeds and decided to pick them up for review at Cheap Eats.

This was a small bag, about 2 and a half ounces, and was pretty expensive (at least I thought so) for 69 cents. You can probably get bulk cheaper. However, as I talked about in the Sunflower Seed review, bulk is not always better. That freshness quotient tends to go down with bigger bag.

This was the same brand “David” which is made by ConAgra Foods. Unfortunately (or fortunately for some of us) there was no big picture of Derek Jeter grinning from ear to ear on the package. Instead, there was a big picture of a pumpkin. Maybe they should have carved eyes on it or something to make it into a Jack O Lantern. Or maybe they should have carved Derek Jeter’s face in there. Might make more people pick it up.

So I have heard that you can make pumpkin seeds easily yourself in the oven with the innards of your Halloween Jack O Lantern. I mean, you’re going to throw away that stuff anyhow… what a racket, come to think of it. They turned something that you’d otherwise throw away into a snack to sell. Kind of like restaurants selling Baked Potato Skins…

But it’s July so there aren’t too many pumpkins around. So let’s see how these tasted.

Continue reading “Pumpkin Seeds” …


[ Currently Eating: Coffee...What Else? ]

Michelina's Swedish Meatball MealWell, after the disaster with the Michelina Lasagna Meal I’d almost given up hope on a decent frozen dinner from that company. Several readers noted, however, that I might have bought the wrong TYPE of Michelina meal, as in the Lean Gourmet line. And indeed that seemed to be the case. Like I said I could care less about the calories.

Luckily, I’d only bought 3 of these meals (for the magnificent total of 3 dollars) as a test so I wouldn’t need to slog through all of them if they were really bad. The 2nd one I ate involved some Shrimp Scampi pasta which was actually quite good. Unfortunately, I was so hungry that day that I didn’t get to take pictures of that one before scarfing it down.

So this third frozen dinner is the Michelina Swedish Meatball meal. I really like meatballs in general, however they’re done. A lot of people actually get so called Swedish Meatballs at Ikea, funnily enough. I’ve had good experiences with the kind you buy from CostCo. A friend of mine makes this pretty good recipe with those CostCo meatballs along with ketchup, grape jelly, onions, and bell peppers in a crock pot. Not half bad.

You can also make your own meatballs, much cheaper. I like spaghetti with homemade meatballs quite a bit. I should probably just make my own, right? But in any case here’s what I thought of the frozen Swedish Meatball dinner.

Continue reading “Michelina Swedish Meatball Meal” …


[ Currently Eating: Magical Coffee from Magic Beans ]

Rosarita Refried BeansFirst off, sorry for the blurry picture of this can of Rosarita Refried Beans… you see, my hand was shaking from the uncontrollable hiccup emissions emanating from my rear end. That’s right, let’s all sing the song: “Beans, beans, are good for your heart / The more you eat the more you fart!”

Certainly, it’s no secret that beans will give you gas. If you eat too much that is. But dang, I do believe that the right kind of beans also qualify for Cheap Eats status. Take refried beans for instance. The cans last forever in the pantry, so you can buy a 12 pack or whatever at Costco at a price of about 50 cents or less a can. And trust me when I say that a can of beans will last you more than one day.

Many, many people I know absolutely cannot stand refried beans because of what they look like. Er, I’ll just leave that up to your imagination. I grew up on Del Taco and Taco Bell bean burritos with cheese though. I had them at home a lot too, so I’m used to it by now. And I like to get the “Spicy Jalapeno” of this version as it adds even more bluster to what comes out of your keister. Toot!

So most people buy a can of refried beans and wonder what exactly they are? They’re dried beans that’ve been cooked once to make them soft, and then mashed and fried up with lard, shortening and unmentionable other things. Well, I actually think that most of the refried beans in cans are made with vegetable oil or something nowadays. People just wouldn’t buy it otherwise, and I think it lasts longer.

Rosarita Refried Beans BurritoSo what do you make with Refried Beans? Well, a host of things but my favorite is to make bean burritos out of them. You need some tortillas of course, hopefully the delicious uncooked variety of tortillas. I just take about a half can of beans out and put it in a bowl and microwave it with a cover. Open and stir them every so often during the microwaving, otherwise these beans tend to explode quite a bit. The other half can be refrigerated (for a couple days only). I put some jack cheese in the beans to microwave some times.

Plop them onto a fresh cooked tortilla, drizzle on the hot sauce (I like a brand called Pico Pica) and then add some shredded lettuce. Instant wannabe Mexican Food! You can also add mild canned green chiles (non-spicy Anaheim chiles?). This really gives it an extra boost.

Continue reading “Rosarita Refried Beans” …




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