Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for January, 2007



[ Currently Eating: Leftover Lasagna and Scalloped Potatoes ]

Cheap Eats - Marie Callender's Turkey Pot PieBack to frozen food again. I’ve been shunning Banquet meals lately in favor of both Marie Callender’s (finally spelled it right that time!) and Healthy Choice frozen meals. Just for variety of course. Although, lately my “picky” food side has been rearing it’s mid-life crisis head just a little too frequently.

Also, while Banquet is pretty much $1 each every day of the year, you kind of have to wait it out for Marie Callender’s and Healthy Choice to go on sale. On sale where I am is $2 per meal, although I’ve seen them as cheap as $1.50 on occasion.

I have lots of good memories eating the Marie Callender’s Turkey Pot Pie at both the restaurant location and straight outta the microwave at work. But I haven’t picked up one up in a few years, partly because I’d been so turned off from buying the “lesser” pies. But I saw these on sale the other day so I decided to pick one up to relive the good times.

Cheap Eats - Marie Callender's Turkey Pot Pie ContainerOne of the most interesting things about their pot pies is that the microwave instructiosn say NOT to remove the outer cardboard packaging. You basically just open it up but leave the pie inside. I have a feeling this is to get the crust nice and brown… the top of the cardboard container has a “reflective surface grid” as shown in the pic to right (I cut the box open). It faces downward onto the crust.

Whatever it is – it works pretty beautifully. The microwave time is actually one of the longest I’ve ever seen for a frozen dinner – something like 12 minutes on High! I’m always a bit nervous putting anything into the microwave for that long. I have had one instance in the past where the box got slightly “charred”, but this particular time there were no such scary moments. It does tend to smell a bit burnt, sort of like the smell you get when you microwave popcorn. But the pie itself looks quite nice.

Cheap Eats - Marie Callender's Turkey Pot Pie 3

Continue reading “Marie Callender Pot Pie” …

1/25/07 | Leftovers: Pho


[ Currently Eating: Cranberry Juice ]

Pho at Home

Apologies, the past two weeks have been Crazy Furniture Moving and Room Renovation Time at my house, so I haven’t had much chance to devote to Cheap Eats. So, I’m just going to have to leave you with this one pic of my attempt to make a bowl of chicken stock based (as opposed to the beef bone stock variety) Pho the other day. Pho (pronounced “fuh”, but I often say “foe”) is a Vietnamese culinary staple of rice noodles and broth, and is one of our favorite things to get when we eat at Vietnamese restaurants.

I’d recently gone to the Chinese market and stocked up on a few odds and ends, including some of the fresh rice noodles used to make pho. We have the dried variety in the pantry, but I think the fresh one tastes a lot better. Broth in this case was chicken stock, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, rice wine, fish sauce, brown onion (I know: this isn’t an authentic recipe). Usually, I throw on cilantro, mint, basil, green onions, etc right at the last minute. Add some leftover cooked shrimp, vegetables and pork meatballs to the noodles and broth and you’ve got a nice lunch!

1/16/07 | Quesadillas


[ Currently Eating: Bacon ]

Cheap Eats - Quesadillas

OMG. WTF. It has been colder than a Witch’s Frozen Banquet Dinner where I live. Yes, I represent the wimpiness that is Southern California’s winters. It got down to 29 degrees F the other night. Man! Ok, stop laughing now.

I can’t believe I actually haven’t done a feature on Quesadillas yet. I know I’ve posted about them as fast food before (believe it was Del Taco’s, which tasted like crap boogers to me). But the humble quesadilla is a great staple here at Cheap Eats and for many grocery-challenged denizens around the world.

I was going to write up a lame “recipe” for it a la the infamous Ghetto food line that was so popular. But in the interest of time, I’ll just say: take two flour tortillas and some cheese that melts. Layer them in a pan. Cook. Done.

Ok, so there’s generally a good deal more going on for most quesadillas. But you get the gist of it. There are several great things about quesadillas, but two of my favorite are that they are massively movable (i.e. portable) and they function as both snacks and meals. Many a long and boring commute to UCLA was livened up by a quesadilla in one hand and KXLU on the radio dial. How does the Dr. Seuss rhyme go? I would eat them in a house, I would eat them with a mouse. I would eat Quesadillas stuffed with ham, I would eat them Sam I Am…

Continue reading “Quesadillas” …


[ Currently Eating: A Crazy Chili Burger ]

Cheap Eats - Alb. Roast ChickenLiving in a world of convenience is sorta nice. That old saying “A chicken in every pot” which we take for granted today, was a far-off dream a few centuries ago. Nowadays, you can get chicken prepared Every Which Way But Loose. Uh, sorry Clint… those words just popped out.

Anyhow, the birds I’m talking about here are whole roasted chickens that you can buy in the deli dept of just about any supermarket. I know that you can get buckets of thighs, drumsticks, breasts and wings at KFC, Pollo Loco, etc. Probably even cheaper. But for some reason, I’m a sucker for these ready made and packaged roasted medium sized chickens. Just grab and go. Come on picnic peeps, there’s a fricken HANDLE for easy carrying – you have to like the handle.

Actually, the main reason I tend to pick these up is that when I hit the market, it’s usually right before eating lunch. I forget which Manifesto number that one is: Do Not Go To The Market On An Empty Stomach. I always ignore my own advice, though… and the deli just smells so good.

Cheap Eats - Alb. Roast Chicken 2

These chickens are actually very hit or miss. The one pictured above is from Albertson’s and is around $4-6 (I believe it used to be cheaper and/or varies in price). I’ve often got them at CostCo though I forget the price, and Ralph’s, Vons and other supermarkets.

Continue reading “Albertson’s Roast Chicken” …


[ Currently Eating: Shredded Wheat ]

Happy New Year. Wow. So, I’m still recovering from the overindulgence of food from the holidays. Some of the food was cheap, some of it was not. In any case, I’ve got a backlog of Cheap Eats items to write about. But until I get back into the swing of things again, here’s a few pics from the food on New Year’s Eve which is normally a big deal at my parent’s house. This time we had a lot less food than normal (if that can be believed).

A lot of the stuff is Japanese or Hawaiian cuisine. I’ve been meaning to also make a post about making Mochi which has been a tradition in our family for a long time, but for now I’ll just show a pic of the finished products. And yes, we use a mochi-making MACHINE not hammers… we’re not insane!

Cheap Eats - Mochi Making

Mochi is basically cakes made out of pounded or kneaded sweet rice. The larger ones are generally ornamental (called Okasane)… you make a mochi snowman out of a large mochi, a smaller one on top of that and a tangerine or orange on top of that. Also, these aren’t “filled”… we also make some that have sweet beans on the inside.

Cheap Eats - Spam Musubi

Spam Musubi made by my wife. I think we made 3 batches of it this holiday season…

Continue reading “A New Cheap Eats Year” …




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