Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for July, 2006

[ Currently Eating: Sunchips ]

Happy Friday! Here’s a leftover lunch, well, it’s actually a leftover breakfast that I had a few weeks ago. We had stopped by the regional fish taco chain Wahoo’s (CA, HI, CO and TX only) the other day for lunch. If you’ve ever gotten a combo plate at Wahoo’s you know that they give you a TON of their special “Ahi Rice” which is not bad. They also give you a choice of spicy white beans or black beans as well.

So we always have leftovers for the next day but it’s usually just the rice and beans. This time I decided to eat it for breakfast. Mixed the rice and beans together and fried it up like fried rice… added some spare tomatoes and mushrooms in as well. Not half bad!

Oh, and yep that’s two fried eggs. Avacados are free courtesy of my parent’s ever-abundant backyard tree.

[ Currently Eating: Much, Much Needed Coffee ]

Lately, I’ve been suckered in by one too many “frozen aisle” specials at my local supermarket. You know the ones I’m talking about. They have a floor-type freezer in the middle of the area near the milk, meat and/or seafood that’s filled with frozen food impulsive buys that are on sale. These are usually things like frozen dinners, frozen pizzas and of course Frozen Burritos.

I almost caved in and tried out some “mini-pizzas” for a buck each, but instead was waylaid by boxes and boxes of Tina’s brand frozen burritos. Actually, I would have passed but they were going for only twenty cents a piece which was difficult to resist. I picked up 3 “Red Hot Beef”, 1 “Bean and Cheese” and 1 “Spicy Bean and Cheese” for an even dollar for 5 burritos. Come on, tell me that’s not cheap eats.

But as always, you get what you pay for. I remember coming home from high school and microwaving one of these beauties. Part of the fun was trying to get the timing on the microwave correct so they didn’t explode, spilling out their bean contents like nuclear waste. Equally difficult was avoiding the “lukewarm center” phenomenon. I tried poking holes to no avail. But that was before I learned the “30-second and flip” method.

Basically, you just microwave it on high for 30 seconds and then let it rest for about 15 seconds. Then turn it over and repeat. (These instructions were actually on a package of CostCo shredded beef frozen burritos that I meant to write about but haven’t gotten around to.) After about 4-6 iterations (2 to 3 minutes) you get a pretty well done burrito that’s cooked on the inside and hasn’t leaked at all. This had the disadvantage of making you do a lot more work for a 20 cent frozen burrito. But come on – we could all use the exercise.

Continue reading “Tina’s Red Hot Beef Burrito” …

[ Currently Eating: Hash Browns and Fried Eggs ]

I was planning on posting like 5 pictures of leftovers this week but just didn’t get around to it. In any case, here’s your Leftover Lunch for today: Meatloaf! We like to make a ground beef / pork meatloaf based on a recipe from Cooks Illustrated. I know a lot of people use the meatloaf trinity (veal, beef, pork) but we usually don’t have veal on hand. I’ve heard you can also involve ground turkey or chicken. The recipe we use actually has a semi-sweet hot glaze on the top, and though I’m not usually a fan of sweet main dishes it goes quite well with the meatloaf because it’s a thin glaze.

The meatloaf also includes bread crumbs, egg, onions, parsley and yogurt as well as various spices. We bake the meatloaf on a cookie sheet, instead of in a loaf pan. One tip: if you don’t like semi-crunchy onions in your loaf, you can pre-cook them in a skillet. Just keep cooking the onions with a bit of oil and keep adding water until the onions are soft. Then drain, cool and add it to the meatloaf mixture.

[ Currently Eating: Rold Gold Pretzels ]

I really have a weakness for Jalapeño flavored chips. They are just WAY too tasty for their own good.

I also dig Kettle Chips, so these Lays Jalapeño Kettle Chips were pretty much going to win me over even before trying them. I don’t remember when major potato chip manufacturers started making kettle chips in full force (it seems like it wasn’t more than a couple decades ago but I could be wrong), but way before then I remember buying no-name Kettle Chips and really liking them.

For those with an aversion to oily chips, you’ll want to look away. I’ve had kettle chips that were so oily that you could easily see through them. They were like panes of stained glass. The Lays Kettle Chips aren’t that bad, though they are definitely cut thin and seem a bit oilier than normal Lays. Kettle chips are also quite a bit more crunchy so you have to be careful not to cut up the roof of your mouth. If you’re expecting normal potato chips, it’s going to seem like these are overcooked.

The Jalapeño flavor on these guys is pretty good, and for me it was more noticeable than the earlier reviewed Jalapeno Cheetos but that’s probably because there isn’t cheese powder to compete with the jalapeño taste. They’re delicious. There isn’t a significant burn though, so hothead chip connoisseurs might be disappointed. The overall flavor is definitely nice, though.

I guess the only rub with these guys is going to be the price. I always get suckered by these smaller “99 cent” bags of chips (Damn those conveniently placed Snack Foods lining the checkout aisle at Frye’s) but if you can find larger bags of these on sale you might be OK. Still, these smaller occasionally go on firesale… I’ve seen them as low as 69 cents but at that price I might be wondering just how fresh that Jalapeño taste is going to be.

Price: $0.69 – $0.99
Found At: Everywhere
Cheap Eats Score: 6/10

[ Currently Eating: Peanut Garlic Noodles ]

I’m starting up a new feature here at Cheap Eats that’s called Leftovers for Lunch. Thematically, it fits with the whole eating cheap mantra – those leftovers are gold for next day lunches. Many people would otherwise throw away perfectly good free food from a previous meal. Serious cheap eaters have been known to stretch 3-4 leftover meals out of a larger dinner.

But the real reason for this section is that we take a ton of photos of our meals, but we don’t always have time to write full posts about them. Rather than let these photos go to waste, I decided to make them into Leftovers for Lunch. It’ll usually just be the photo plus a few words about what it is. Feel free to comment, or wait for “real” posts.

This one features food from our July 4 extravaganza: we had Bratwurst in Beer (first time I’ve ever cooked it) for lunch and then Grilled Flank Steak, Grilled Corn, and Potato-Egg Salad with Cucumbers and Carrots. Then, I combined these for leftover lunch the next day. Whew, a lot of food!

[ Currently Eating: Plain Old Applesauce ]

Whoops, I nearly forgot… today being July 11 it is 7-11 day all around the nation. Yes, time will indeed stop for you while you head out of the office at lunch to pick up yer free Slurpee drink. Just remember that the sizes they give away are the tiny ones, the 7.11 ounce slurpees. I’m going to be passing on this one although there is a 7-11 within walking distance (too much brain freeze lately), so let me know how it goes…

7/10/06 | Bananas Are Cheap

[ Currently Eating: Kiki's Bakery Toast ]

It’s funny how sometimes the people who write into Cheap Eats are on a mighty similar wavelength. In the past couple of months I have had not 1 person, but FOUR people write in asking why I haven’t featured the lowly but economically friendly Banana yet.

The answer is: Bananas just aren’t that sexy to write about. Oh, wait. Never mind – I’m not touching THAT one with a ten foot pole. Oh, wait… now I said POLE. Hurhhh.

Truthfully, bananas are just so excellent as Cheap Eats that I put it in that category of “Save For Rainy Day, When There Is Nothing Else To Write About.”

Today is definitely not rainy, and there are a ton of other food items backlogged at Cheap Eats. But I figured I’d better write about it since there were so many people who wanted to hear about it.

The Banana – Portable. Comes in it’s own wrapper. Kid friendly. Nutritious. Exercise pick-me-up. Damn cheap. Year round imports from warmer climes. Can be used in desserts. Overripe ones can be used in Banana bread. Green ones (or plantains) can be fried (yum).

It is seriously cheap… even at places like Trader Joe’s. I was there the other day and they were selling some really nice ones for like 15 cents or something each. They can be found in ethnic markets for even cheaper. I tend to buy them green unless they’re going to be eaten the same day. I sort of like eating bananas that are just on the cusp of turning yellow. Once they start getting speckled, I hand it off to my wife.

Continue reading “Bananas Are Cheap” …



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