Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for May, 2007

5/29/07 | Free Chips

[ Currently Eating: Coffee with Milk ]

Free Chips on Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I probably could’ve given this post a more tabloid-ish title like “Dumpster Diving 101″ (Note to self: see if this book exists and if not, start writing it). But Cheap Eats isn’t about controversey, is it? Nevertheless, this was a sort of interesting little tidbit that I’d like to share that occurred over the Memorial Day holiday.

First off – I’m going to be taking a little “vacation” so I’ll be resuming Cheap Eats coverage in about 2-3 weeks. Just a warning for the droves of fan boys and girls who flock to the site every day hoping for an extra update. Haha.

So, you might think I’d been sent this jumbo variety 50-pack of chips from Frito Lay or something. Or that I’d scored it from the folks for free after they mistakenly bought two of them at CostCo (and let me tell you, that happens often).

Nope, I got this package of chips out of the TRASH CAN.

Here’s what happened – I play roller hockey at a slightly secluded park that has very good amenities, including a snack bar. This weekend when we finished with the pickup game we had commenced starting a little mini-BBQ complete with carne asada, sausages and potato salad to celebrate Memorial Day. Because the park is rather difficult to find and unknown to most outsiders, we were nearly the only ones there near the snack bar. The bar wasn’t even open, but there were people working inside on other things. We saw them come out of the snack bar, walk over to the trash cans where we were sitting and dump an enormous plastic bag full of these chips right into the trash can.

Someone asked what they were doing, and they said they couldn’t sell the chips any longer because they had expired, but we were free to take them out of the trash. I guess they couldn’t legally give them to us, maybe because of the possibility of lawsuit from eating bad chips. However, once they were in the trash, they weren’t liable. They later just put the remaining packages with the chips still sealed in plastic right on top of the trash can so we wouldn’t have to pick them out of the can.

Free Chips on Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I think they dumped at least four of these boxes in the trash cans, perhaps more. Someone actually pulled the entire plastic garbage bag out of the trash and we started going through the chips. (The bag was a brand new garbage bag, by the way). Needless to say, I felt sorta weird digging around in the trash – not that I look down on homeless people and others who do that on a regular basis. It’s just that I haven’t really done that for food – I’d dived in the dumpster many a time at my old work place where they’d throw away perfectly good office supplies, software and computer manuals. I literally climbed inside and just sorted through the stuff. It’s just amazing what big corporations will throw away.

Free Chips on Cheap Eats at Bloglander

All of the chips were fresh and tasted perfectly ordinary. They’re about one and a half months beyond the date. I ended up carting off the one 50-pack in the picture because no one else wanted it. I guess everyone’s watching their weight nowadays, though it seemed like a waste to leave them behind.

I’ve often thought about posting about things like this that fall in a sort of “gray” area on Cheap Eats, but have mostly stuck to reviews and recipes. Surprisingly, there have been many people who have written in who I think are really under tough times and REALLY need to eat cheaply. And I don’t mean just starving college students eating ramen either, although I fell into that category long ago. I might try to make a few more of these type of posts in the future. We’ll see… I’m not 100% sure these issues are the type of thing that I want to post on a regular basis.

Price: Free
Found At: Dumpster in Park
Cheap Eats Score: 9/10

[ Currently Eating: Beef and Bean Burrito ]

Cheap Eats - Tony's Deep Dish PizzaHey there folks. Would you trust a chef with a tomato for a hat?

Apparently, I would. Up for review are these frozen mini Tony’s Deep Dish Pizzas which feature a chubby mustachioed dude wearing a chef’s hat that’s actually an enormous tomato. Uhrg. I’m trying to think of some more tomato chef hat jokes but nothing’s forthcoming, so I’ll skip to the review. (10 Magic Bonus Points if you can make up an interesting joke with tomatoes and chef hats. And please, keep it clean…)

I’ll be the first to admit I’m no expert in pizza. In fact, I’ve almost always followed the Cheap Eats path and avoided the pre-made frozen stuff in lieu of alternatives like the popular Ghetto Pizza. As for authentic restaurant pizza – ah, c’mon… Los Angelenos like me are more apt to put BBQ chicken, goat cheese and arugula on our pies. (I’m sure I’ll get tons of pizza peeps hotly writing in about the tons of places you can get authentic, non-gourmet pizza around L.A.)

But I have to admit that I’ve eyed these small frozen pies everytime I’ve been to Albertson’s in the past several months. They almost always have their own special display outside the frozen aisle, often near the Banquet Frozen Dinners. At a buck each, I really had to use some will power to avoid them. But I caved the other day, after not eating lunch before going to the supermarket (I believe that’s Cheap Eats Manifesto Rule No. 23, NEVER go food shopping on an empty stomach).

So, lucky readers you’re going to get more pics of junk food instead of fiber cereal or boiled vegetables. Hooray!

Cheap Eats - Tony's Deep Dish Pizza

I actually didn’t even check if they have larger version’s of Tony’s pizza, nor did I check and see what other comparable other brands there are. (I’m sure someone will let me know). There are several different varieties of these smaller Deep Dish Pizzas, including plain cheese, pepperoni and supreme – all the same price. I never understood this Quirk of Frozen Pizza – plain cheese is just as expensive as a combo or supreme. I think it’s like that for many varieties… you just seemed to be getting jacked if you get the plain cheese. I got the Supreme.

Continue reading “Tony’s Deep Dish Pizza” …

[ Currently Eating: Cereal ]

Cheap Eats Shrimp and BroccoliOwing to a lawn sprinkler system that needed to be fixed and several other projects I had to work on, I haven’t had much time to devote to Cheap Eats lately. So I’m going to beg off the longer post with just pictures for the time being, since I still have a ton of stuff to finish up.

This is some Broccoli and Shrimp that I had as Leftovers for Lunch – and before you ask, I didn’t buy it at Panda Express. We had some frozen shrimp that needed to be used up and there was some broccoli heads in the fridge (Chinese Market – 49 cents a pound), so I decided to try making the dish for the first time. It came out OK, though a little sweet. Might post a recipe later…

5/8/07 | Fruity Cheerios

[ Currently Eating: Fruity Frooty Cheerios ]

Fruity Cheerios on Cheap Eats at BloglanderTime for another trip down memory lane. It’s been ages since I had Froot Loops – I sort of associate those artificial fruit mini doughnuts with childhood because we used to only have them at my late aunt’s house when we were being babysat overnight. I remember Toucan Sam and his enormous multicolored nose uttering magical phrases like “follow your nose.” I think I may have been confused back then thinking he meant to put the Froot Loops UP your nose. They barely fit at the time. Ah, good times.

*** Disclaimer – I’m not responsible if you stick cereal into your nostrils.

I think the new Fruity Cheerios may be a better candidate for probing your proboscis with, since they are quite a bit smaller. But no, I didn’t try to install these as fruit air fresheners in my nose this time around. General Mills has decided their cereal empire is not quite big enough, necessitating their introduction of these faux-Froot Loops. How do I know they’re taking on Kellogg’s? They say so right on the box, in not so many words. Fruity Cheerios contains “25% less sugar than the leading fruity cereal”. (Addendum – hmm, I can’t confirm they are indeed talking about Froot Loops, but I’ll leave my suspicion as such unless it’s invalidated.)

As I said before, the first thing you notice about Fruity Cheerios (and I guess I’ll give them a little credit for choosing to call it “Fruity” rather than “Frooty”) is that they are quite a bit smaller than Froot Loops. They look just like spray painted Cheerios actually. For colors, they’ve gone with Purple, Green, Red, Yellow and Orange. I’m a little sad they don’t have Blue, because that’s the best flavor of fruit. I forget what colors Froot Loops are, but if memory serves me correctly (in true Iron Chef style) they were pretty similar. But I’ll give 10 Fruity Bonus points to the first commenter to tell me what they are.

Fruity Cheerios on Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Continue reading “Fruity Cheerios” …

5/2/07 | Hash Browns

[ Currently Eating: Leftover Chicken ]

Hash Browns - on Cheap Eats at Bloglander

More potato stuff – I just can’t seem to get away from it. Actually, I almost didn’t post this one because I thought I had already done a post on Hash Browns but it turns out that one was on Home Fries.

I dunno if a lot of people go through the trouble to try make hash browns at home, but I’ve tried several times with varying degrees of success. I guess you could always head over to IHOP or some similar breakfast place to get them. But I recently got a pretty cool flat cast iron reversible grill pan as a gift – the kind that goes over two burners on the stove. So I decided to try make some hash browns again.

Hash Browns are pretty cool to make, because the list of ingredients is so short. Cooking them correctly isn’t as easy… I’m still trying to figure out the best method, but below is a general idea of what I usually do.

Hash Browns

1 large potato — $0.40
1-2 tbsp butter (from $1.00 4 oz stick) — $0.13
(or 1-2 tbsp of oil or cooking spray)
salt, pepper — negligible

Total: $0.53

Russets are probably easiest and most people have ‘em around. I don’t pre-cook the potatoes for hash browns because it’s thin enough, though for thicker home fries you might want to try that.

You can use either butter, oil, or cooking spray… but you should probably use at least something to prevent sticking and help browning. On my cast iron flat grill I’ve gotten away with using very little oil or cooking spray. If you’re using a pan, try using a non-stick surface one first… it’ll allow you to use less oil. Butter really makes the potatoes brown nicely, however, so you might want to experiment.

Peel and wash the potato(es). Heat up the pan/griddle and oil/butter it. Meanwhile, grate the potato finely. What I like to do is put the grated potato in a paper towel or cheesecloth and squeeze the heck out of it. A considerable amount of water will drain out.

Scatter the potatoes on the grill and cook until brown on one side. Try and always keep the potatoes spread thinly instead of clumped up together. Flip it with a spatula and cook until desired doneness is achieved. Salt and pepper to taste.

Continue reading “Hash Browns” …



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