Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for September, 2006

[ Currently Eating: Chili Ham Cheesebread! ]

This one has been kicking around in the Cheap Eats drafts for nearly 4 months now. It’s the El Pollo Loco Dollar Menu which was recommended by more than a few readers, including Cybele from CandyBlog. I’m pretty familiar with El Pollo Loco and in the past have frequented their chicken joints as much as three times a month.

El Pollo Loco is interesting in that although it probably qualifies as fast food (and there’s a drive-thru), I think of it more as a normal sit-down restaurant but with fast-food prices. Their flame-grilled chicken is a welcome change if you get tired of Church’s, Popeyes or KFC. They occasionally have pretty good deals on bulk family chicken – one current special that I like for parties is the 11 pieces of legs and thighs for $7.99.

A side note: I find their commercials with that smarmy guy a bit on the racially insensitive side… but I’ll not get into that now.

Anyhow, for some reason, I never ventured into Loco Dollar Land. Their lineup is a bit more interesting than the usual fast food joint 99 cent Jack In The Box menu. They’ve got a Taco al Carbon (Chicken Taco), BRC Burrito (Bean, Rice Cheese), Cheese Quesadilla, Chicken Taquito with Avocado Salsa, Loco Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing, Two Churros (dessert) and a choice of either a flame grilled Chicken Leg or Thigh (note: the pic I took from the site months back included the choice of thighs but the more recent pic does not. Too bad, because I felt that was one of the better value items.)

Continue reading “El Pollo Loco Dollar Menu” …

[ Currently Eating: Coconut Trail Mix ]

I know we’re only supposed to talk about frozen dinners on the “low” end of the food chain on Cheap Eats. What can I say, once in awhile we like to splurge. Rule number 1 of the upcoming Cheap Eats Manifesto (which has been on the back burner for 6 months now) is to Break All The Rules. Buying Marie Callender’s Frozen Dinners probably falls into that category since they’re not known for being that cheap.

Or are they? A few times, I’ve seen the full dinners on sale for $2 or less. That’s as cheap as the Healthy Choice meals when they’re on sale. I actually quite enjoy Marie Callender’s frozen meals quite a bit, and have even been known to frequent their restaurant. In the dot-com days, many a frozen Marie Callender’s Pot Pie found its way into the microwave where I worked.

Quick side note: I have been trying to teach my fingers to type “Marie Callendar” instead of “Marie Calendar”. Tough sleddin’ there … [edit: it seems I doubly cannot type/spell: Marie CallendEr's]

Back to the merits of her frozen dinners. So far, the quality of most of the meals has been pretty top notch. I don’t believe it’ll win any healthy choice awards, but for me I’m not so concerned with that. In fact, I’m concerned with Price, Quantity and then Quality, in that order. And if you can get it cheap enough, the quality is definitely there and surprisingly the quantity as well.

One thing I notice about Marie Callender dinners is that they’re actually heavy. They’ve got some heft to them. The actual meal trays have compartments that are rather deep. This particular meal is their Country Fried Chicken (not Country Fried STEAK, mind you) and consists of a good piece of battered chicken breast, mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob. That’s right corn on the COB.

Continue reading “Marie Callendar’s Country Fried Chicken” …

[ Currently Eating: Walnut Cake and Cup of Joe ]

Shoulder problems have been ailin’ me again recently, so I’ll have to resort to short Leftovers posts for a bit. This is some Red Pepper Pasta with Sausage made from awhile back. It’s actually based around a Red Pepper and Eggplant/Garlic spread that I picked up at Trader Joe’s once for party snacks. After the party, I found out that the leftover could be used to make some pretty good leftovers.

I think spreads like this or jars of pasta sauce can be a great Cheap Eats weapon to have on hand, especially for single eaters. You can store the jars for quite awhile unopened, but even when you do start using from the jar, it’ll keep for a long time in the fridge. That allows you to make several meals out of just one jar of spread or sauce. In this case, I cooked up some Italian Sausage taken out of their casings and then added some red pepper spread along w/ chicken stock, onion, parsley and some noodles. Since the spread is usually a bit strong, a little goes a long way.

9/5/06 | Triscuit Cheddar

[ Currently Eating: Interesting Pulled Pork Sandwicho ]

Ok, it’s time to get back into manufactured snacks. I have withdrawal when we don’t talk about chips for a few posts.

I saw this box of Triscuit Cheddar the other day and since they were 2 bucks for a 10 oz box I decided to pick them up. I know you can get ‘em cheaper if you buy the BIG box at CostCo. Yeah, the box that’s so big you can use it to build a boat to visit Hawaii. Or Tasmania.

But Tasmania wasn’t in the cards this afternoon so I just got the wee box. I have to admit I’ve never tried any of the flavors (except the low salt and reduced fat versions), but there are a ton of different ones. Just head on over to Nabisco World, which is exactly like Disney World, minus the Mickey Mousing and plus a bunch of different food products. You’ll see they have 10 different kinds of Triscuit there.

At the store, they also had “Garden and Herb” Triscuit and “Garlic” Triscuit, but I decided to play it safe and go with Cheddar. Anyhow the label on the box promised “Made With The Flavor Of Real Kraft Cheese” and I couldn’t very well pass that up, could I?

Actually, back to my earlier point about using a box to fabricate a maritime vessel. The shape of a Triscuit is sort of like a log raft. So, if you had a very, very large Triscuit and you were very, very brave you could conceivably float to Tasmania or Hawaii on one. Actually, I’m going to try this tomorrow.

So, how do these taste? I was pleasantly surprised that the promise of Kraft cheese flavor did not go unfulfilled. I actually like the plain Triscuits quite a bit to start with – some good memories of eating them when I was a kid. And of course, it was easier to fool the parents by putting a box of them in the shopping cart because it says “Baked Whole Grain Wheat Crackers”. Mom goes, “Hey, how can we afford NOT to buy them!”

Imagine you were preparing a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and all of the sudden a rogue typhoon (blown in from Tasmania, of course) decides to land in your kitchen and rip open your cheese packet, sending clouds of powder into the air. It then proceeds to land on a bowl of Triscuits you had out in a bowl. This is exactly what Triscuit Cheddar tastes like. (By the way, I imagine this would make a bang-up commercial. Hi advertising execs, my services are for hire.)

Continue reading “Triscuit Cheddar” …



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