Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for April, 2006

[ Currently Eating: McDonald's Spicy Chicken Sandwich ]

I completely goofed and forgot to post this yesterday. I wanted you to all get fair warning about picking up a FREE Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Cone. Yep, it’s that time of year already.

They’re celebrating 28 years of making their ice cream. The shops should all be open from 12-8pm. I actually have never partaken in this yearly ritual, though I know there are quite a few people who do. It hasn’t been hot enough here lately to get ice cream, but then again I guess who needs a heat wave to enjoy some?

Make sure to check which Ben & Jerry’s stores are actually participating in this giveaway. There are definitely more than a few, say in California where I live, which aren’t giving it away. I looked and for the most part, it’s mostly those which are in amusement parks or baseball stadiums. Yeah, if they honored the giveaway in a stadium full of people they’d go bankrupt.

Price: Free Ice Cream Cone
At: Ben & Jerry’s
Cheap Eats Score: 10/10

[ Currently Eating: Lots of Orange Juice ]

Home Fries Potatoes

I’m probably going to start writing shorter and less text intensive posts, but hopefully more of them. I got sick this past week so I wasn’t able to post more than the one on Easter. The arm is much better but I’m not sure it’s not because I’ve been distracted by this cold virus.

But anyhow, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite breakfast foods to make: Home Fried Potatoes, which are more often called simply “Home Fries“. I’m just a potato type of guy: whole baked, mashed, french fried, scalloped, stuffed, croquette, etc. it doesn’t matter. The only thing I DON’T like is the sweet variety… ughs.

Potatoes are also darn cheap eats. I don’t know if you’d want to eat ONLY potatoes though…

You see these home fries in most breakfast joints as a side item that comes with the main omlette or whatever. They come in all sorts of shapes and flavors. When making them at home I like cutting them as small squares, because it tends to cook up more evenly.

Continue reading “Home Fried Potatoes” …

[ Currently Eating: Fish Tacos ]

Happy Easter everyone! To celebrate this holiday, I would like to call attention to that time honored tradition that is being served on Sunday dinner tables across the nation at this very moment. I’m talking, of course, about… Frito Pie!

Oh I kid you not. Ever since I was reminded about Frito Pie on an episode of King of the Hill, I’d been wanting to try it. Yep, I had never had this delicacy before… you would have expected it to make an appearance on Cheap Eats sooner. But I never had the correct combination of required ingredients from the admittedly simple recipe.

So I went to the grocery store a week back with the express purpose of buying all the ingredients. It wasn’t hard, and luckily Fritos were on sale. $1.25 for a 10 ounce bag.

A word on Fritos… to this day, they’ve stuck with the basic ingredients. It is just Corn, Corn Oil and Salt. That’s it. At least for their original flavor. There are tons of different varieties including Chili and Cheese and Lime and Chile as well as all sorts of shapes like Scoops and Twists.

Side note: I saw this “survival” type show on Discovery where the guy took along a couple of Fritos (not a bag but like 4-5 chips). He didn’t eat them though… instead he used the oil in them as fuel to help get his fire going to cook his Desert Rat. Or is that Dessert Rat. Yum.

Back to the pie. So apparently, this is a “tradition” from Texas which isn’t a stretch since Frito-Lay is based there. Frito-Lay is pretty serious about the usage of their chips in pies… they even have a website devoted just to Frito Pie. The recipe I used is just a basic one, but I’d think even with other additions it would come in under $3 for a good sized pie.

Frito Pie

1 can chili (homemade OK too) — $0.99
1 1/2 cups fritos – $0.45
1 cup shredded cheese — $0.25
1/3 cup chopped onion — $0.20
optional parsley sprig — negligible

Total: $1.89

Preheat the oven to 350°F or so. Spread out about 1/2 the chips on the bottom of a glass pie plate dish or baking dish. Spread about 1/2 the onion and half the cheese on the Fritos. Top with all the chili. Then put the remaining cheese, onion, and Fritos on top of that.

Bake it for about 17-20 minutes and serve it hot. Instant trailer cuisine.

Continue reading “All I Want For Easter Is Frito Pie” …

[ Currently Eating: Fritos ]

Cheezy SnaxHello ye Cheap Eaters. Thank you to everyone who wrote to express concern about my shoulder. It is a bit better now that I’m off the laptop, but still very bothersome… enough to keep me from posting more than twice a week.

Anyhow, here’s a short one for you today: Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos. Popular name brand snacks don’t go over so well at Cheap Eats sometimes. They’re just so unnecessary and expensive unless you can hit a sale at the grocery store and buy it in bulk. These tiny bags weight just 2 3/4 ounces and cost 99 cents. Doesn’t sound like Cheap Eats to me.

But wait TV viewers, there’s more. Did you know that along with this bag of cheesy snacks you also get an honest to goodness SERENADE? That’s right, it’s printed on the back of the package. What a bone-us. I’ll reprint it here for your enjoyment:

A Serenade to Cheetos Crunchy Cheddar Jalapeno Snacks
By: Chester Cheetah

I’ve travelled this country
And there’s one thing I’ve found,
Cheesy Snacks are the best around!!

Now, I’ve added JALAPENO to the mix!
The perfect combination to get your SNACKIN’ Fix!

A Hot New Flavor that you’ll
Be sure to savor!

So round up a bag of your own
and soon you’ll see you’re not alone!

Continue reading “Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos” …

4/10/06 | Couscous

[ Currently Eating: Coffee with Milk ]

I have been on somewhat of a Couscous kick lately.

The whole reason for the couscous thing is because I had some at my parents house a couple months ago and I’d forgotten how good it was. So the other day I just happened to be at the local Ralph’s and decided to pick some up on impulse.

I usually go to Albertsons where I’m pretty familiar with generic store and off brands and about how much cheaper they are than normal. But at Ralph’s I usually don’t have a clue. Especially the Ralph’s that is closest to me. I actually don’t shop there because the selection, variety and quality of the produce is spotty.

So when I had that hankering for couscous, I could only find one brand (Riceselect?) of plain old couscous and it was a big ass jar of it. I know they have those all-in-one-box ones but I wanted to see how the plain one was. I was pretty determined to buy couscous that day.

So determined that I ended up buying the 32 ounce tub of it and it cost me godamn $6!

Later, I found out that while that’s not super cheap, it’s not THAT bad. It comes out to around 20 cents an ounce. Since a normal serving is about 1/4 cup, you get about 20 servings in this tub. Checking online, I deduced it goes for anywhere from 10 to 40 cents an ounce… with the ready-mix ones with flavor at the top end of the range.


So what the hell is couscous? For the longest time, I thought it was an actual grain… and in fact surfing around Wikipedia showed that it IS considered a grain in countries outside the U.S. Which explains my confusion because the tub reads “Quality Durum Wheat Moroccan Style PASTA”. I believe it is made from semolina which is another name for this ground up durum wheat. Also it is called “Maftoul” in some of the other countries where it is pretty popular.

Whatever it is, it’s delicious and my absolute favorite thing about it is the fast cooking time. You just boil up water, add salt and flavorings, then add the couscous (about 1 cup for 1 cup of water). Stir few times, turn off the heat and cover for 5 minutes. Then fluff it up with a fork. Done! Much faster than making white rice.

Continue reading “Couscous” …

[ Currently Eating: Cereal with Milk ]

Caffeine PollTop ‘o the morning to ya. I’m only not dozing at the keyboard because I’ve got the winner of the Caffeine Poll sitting here at my side.

That’s right. As expected Coffee won the Caffeine poll in somewhat of a landslide with nearly 450 votes. Although there is some debate as to whether or not the twitchy fingers of caffeine-inundated folks weren’t responsible for mis-fired clicks…

A confession: I’ve never been a coffee drinker until about 3 years ago. Before that I never had more than a cup a week. It could have something to do with the fact that office coffee can be quite nasty.

We make the coffee at home and it’s much better stuff. I’m no coffee expert or anything, but you can definitely tell that this is better. So it’s not really Cheap Eats, but man you can’t skimp on certain luxuries…

Anyhow, I’ve gotten to the point where the first thing I do in the morning is brew a pot. I still only drink one cup a day and of course the 7pm rule still holds for me (no caffeine after 7pm, otherwise I have a hard time falling asleep).

Needless to say, my teeth are turning brown.

Caffeine Poll

Continue reading “Coffee Wins Caffeine Poll” …

[ Currently Eating: Spam Sandwich ]

Rice Gourmet Chicken Bowl from CostCoI spend a lot of time at the local CostCo, formerly known in my neighborhood as Price Club. Although it seems like there are these amazing bargains in bulk, the key for Cheap Eats is to buy things that you at least have a chance in hell of using up before they go bad. This means no 6 pound blocks of mozarella cheese (my mom bought this, and then proceeded to start handing out 1 pound blocks to me and my brother).

I’ve been getting these Rice Gourmet Chicken Bowls which is made by Delimex, the CostCo store brand. At a cost of nearly $10 for 6 bowls, it’s definitely not the cheapest thing around… it works out to over $1.50 per bowl. Not exactly Cheap Eats, so they get zinged as far as score goes right away. However, since it’s frozen food you can easily use them up before they go bad.

However, I have to say they’re pretty decent in terms of the quality. This is an all in one type of meal that you just pop into the microwave for about 6 minutes or so, and then take it out and stir it up.

Closeup of Rice Gourmet Bowl

The chicken, rice and sauce actually mix up together pretty well. You have to really get in there with a fork and mix it up so that your sauce gets distributed on the rice.

The chicken (breast meat only) actually seems to have been pre-grilled (you can see the marks in the picture). The teriyaki sauce is not overly powerful, which is usually my beef with these type of meals. I don’t know why manufacturers think teriyaki is some sort of super sweet, orange tasting glaze. This sauce has a good soy flavor and is actually a bit gingery which was nice.

The rice can get a bit clumped up depending on the power of your microwave, but it’s not too bad. The veggies (carrots and broccoli) are actually very decent… I’m surprised they don’t taste like mush.

So, if this were like $7 for 6 then it’d get a much higher score. Still, it beats the pants off a lot of frozen meals.

Price: $9-10 for 6 pack
Bought at: CostCo
Cheap Eats Score: 5/10



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