Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for February, 2008

[ Currently Eating: Green Chile Enchilada ]

McSkillet Burrito - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

OK, so you don’t see this too often: two Cheap Eats posts in one day. But I just wanted to let people know about the Free McSkillet Burrito promotion that is planned for tomorrow and Friday (Feb. 28-29). It’s not completely free – of course. You have to buy a medium or large drink. But if you were thinking of trying it out, this might be the time to do it. To be honest, I’ve been eyeing this burrito and thinking of getting it. I might just venture out on Friday morning and give it a go.

More details are on the McDonalds website.

By the way, because I’m doing two posts today, I’ll probably skip next week’s usual long post because I’ve got a ton of other work to do…

2/27/08 | In-N-Out

[ Currently Eating: Senseo Coffee ]

In-N-Out on Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Ok, here’s the truth (which I think you can easily handle, unlike a certain Scientologist). I looked up at the calendar and realized I’d breezed right through my usual Tuesday Cheap Eats posting schedule. I guess I was too busy watching a PBS special on Kit Carson. Anyhow, seeing as other random duties call I’m going to do the cop-out and post up old pics to make a quick and dirty post.

So – hey look, a picture of a hamburger in my archives. I guess this would be from In-N-Out. I’m actually surprised there hasn’t been a post about them yet on Cheap Eats. I eat there quite a bit – I actually would eat there more often if there was one closer to me. Perhaps that’s a good thing the nearest one is a good drive.

I don’t think I need to go into all the details about In-N-Out. They’ve been hashed over by so many sites and blogs already. The basics for those who’ve never heard of them: They’re only located in California, Nevada, Arizona – some are drive-thru only, others have seated areas inside. It was founded by Harry and Esther Snyder in 1948 in Baldwin Park – it was California’s first drive-thru hamburger stand. I actually visit the new location in Baldwin Park, across the freeway from the old one. There is an “In-N-Out University” there if you can believe it.

They’re a private company – they only open stores in certain areas. Because they have a limited number of stores they can really make a committment to providing freshly made food and quality service. They don’t buy patties – they buy the meat, butcher it, and make the patties all within the company. Fries are cut fresh. Nothing frozen. When you get the burger, the meat is hot and the lettuce, tomato and pickle are cold. God, I sound like a commercial. But it’s true – unlike most other “fast food” hamburger joints, In-N-Out has never made me sick yet. (Regarding the recent beef recall – they ended their relationship with Hallmark/Westland in January)

In-N-Out on Cheap Eats at Bloglander

One of the most interesting things about them is the In-N-Out Secret Menu. It’s not such a secret, just google it and you’ll find all the different ways you can order food. They only serve hamburgers, fries, shakes, drinks – the basic menu is so small that perhaps it’s good there’s a secret menu just for variety. The truth is – they will basically fix your hamburger or fries any way you like as long as you tell them what you want.

Me, I usually get a Double Double (two hambuger patties, two slices cheese) Animal Style (grilled onions plus mustard cooked into the patties) with Fries Well Done. I’ve gotten a 3×3 once (3 patties, 3 cheese) and it was too much. Some people say the hamburgers are a little on the small size – I think the patties are definitely smaller (I forget the weight). I think they only make up to a 4×4 now. They used to not limit it, which meant bunches of bored college kids coming in and ordering 30x30s just for fun. There’s a few other different ways you can get your food (just the burger without buns, just cheese, animal style fries) – again just google it.

I have heard a lot of people (mostly from the East Coast) say that the burger is just “OK”. One couple I know complained that “the burger and bun do not become one”. Some people also think the fries don’t taste very good. I think it’s partly a personal thing – I happen to really like them, especially when you compare them both in quality and price (I’m sorry, I forgot to write down all the prices) side by side with McDs, CJs, Jack in the Balpha, Burger King. For fast-food chain hamburgers, I don’t think there is much of a comparison. If you’re going to compare them with some other small local chain or a non-fast food place, well maybe they aren’t such a big deal. I just know if we have to eat fast food and it has to be hamburgers, then I’m going to In-N-Out.

I’ve never had a bad meal there. The only cons – locations are spotty, and they ONLY sell hamburgers.

Cheap Eats Score: 8/10

[ Currently Eating: Homemade Chicken Soup ]

Senseo Machine - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Free. F-f-f-free. Phree. Fwee.

That has a wonderful sound to it, hey? It’s the sound we like to hear the most here on Cheap Eats. But, it always seems there’s a catch to free goodies. Like you have to lend your email to unscrupulous marketers. Or you have to sell out your blogging integrity to thee man. Or you have to walk around like a living sandwich-board advertisement. I haven’t tried that one yet, but the year is still young.

So, I was sent this Senseo Coffee Pod System for free the other day. Now, what is the catch? The catch is that like free cell phones, free dish/cable network installments and free magazines, they want to make it as easy possible to rope you into a monthly “subscription” based type of payment. Sure, the phone is free, but you’ll be paying them a monthly fee that will eventually eclipse the cost of the “free phone” by far.

OK, so you don’t HAVE to sign up for any coffee subscriptions. However, because you need to use the special circular coffee packets with the Senseo machine – it’s pretty similar. They’re just reducing the barrier to entry by making the machine free – getting a lifelong coffee customer is completely worth the $70.

Incidentally, even though I was sent this machine without asking, it’s not like I’m special or anything. ANYONE can signup to apply for a chance to get a free Senseo machine as of right now. You just go to the Share Senseo website and fill out a quick questionnaire. The thing is – you are signing up for a CHANCE to get a free machine. You’re not guaranteed one. Needless to say, I’m told that if you use this link instead of just typing in, your application might be, er, expedited. And no, I’m not getting a kickback for sending you to them.

Senseo Machine - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Ok, back to the coffee maker. Yes, so it does require their little “coffee pods” in order to use the machine (I’m debating whether or not it’s worth the effort to try and find a way to circumvent this by “making my own”. Right now, I’m leaning toward it being too much work). Also, you should note that I am NOT a coffee snob. I’ll drink pretty much anything as long as it’s not too burnt tasting. So if you really like coffee, your mileage will vary.

The first thing I noticed about the Senseo machine is that it is really WEIRD looking. To me at least. I wasn’t used to how curved everything was. It sort of looks like a cylinder that is leaning over to touch its toes. Now, I’m all for cool and unusual design – but I have to say that I wasn’t so happy with the way the main cylinder curves over the bottom plate where you put the cup.

I noticed right away when the instructions said to first flush out the device once by putting a bowl underneath to catch the excess water. I couldn’t find a bowl that would fit on it because the curved neck wouldn’t allow a large bowl to sit there without hanging off the edge. (Note: if you do get a machine, to flush it you can simply use a large wide cup that holds at least 10 oz. and you’ll be fine.)

My next complaint is the somewhat “unwieldy” curved nature of the detachable water reservoir. The shape just really makes it awkward to fill up and carry around – it’s shaped like a curved flat cannister, maybe like a warped hip flask or flat canteen. I guess it needs to be that way because the neck is so curved – anyhow, a minor complaint.

Continue reading “Free Senseo Coffee Maker” …

[ Currently Eating: OMG Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf ]

Celeste Frozen Pizza - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Here is a confession: I did NOT use this Celeste Frozen Pizza as a frisbee or discus as I was completely intending to. No, I actually ended up eating all of it and enjoying it instead of “going the distance” off of the roof.

I have to admit I’m no pizza expert. Still, after having a surprisingly good experience with the Tony’s Deep Dish Frozen Individual Pizza that was reviewed earlier, I couldn’t resist picking up a little of “Mama” Celeste’s Pizza for One. Mama in quotes, of course. But hey, it does say “Authentic Italian Since 1930″ so there must be a real Mama, right? OK, I don’t know the history of Celeste so I shouldn’t assume that it isn’t a time honored tradition and not a sham.

Anyhow, this review is about the pizza. So I picked up two of them for a dollar each. The one I’m reviewing is the “Deluxe” and they also have plain cheese, pepperoni, and some 3 or 4 cheese blend – I can’t remember exactly. The key is that they’re normally $2 so I previously passed them over. But these were a buck so I figured I’d give it a try.

And first let me say that true Cheap Eaters are going to cringe at actually buying frozen pizza – preferring to make their own pizza at home in various ways. What can I say – I’m not a truly desperate cheap eater. Just an average joe cheap eater who’s sucked in by commercials, bargain bins, and product placement. Boo on me.

Celeste Frozen Pizza - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

This is a 7 inch pizza that weighs about 6.5 ounces. It’s not enormous, but I felt it was decent if it’s a dollar. It comes frozen and you can microwave it or pop it in the oven. I chose the latter, but thinking about it, I should have tried the microwave method since that’s how most people would cook it. Interestingly, they include a weird gray “microwave” disc that you put the pizza on in order to have it brown better. I didn’t use it because I used the conventional oven – but I would assume it works like the gray disc grids that are on the top inside portion of the boxes of some frozen pot pies.

Continue reading “Celeste Pizza For One” …

[ Currently Eating: Carbonara Pasta ]

IHOP Pancake DAY - Bloglander Cheap EatsOK, so due to my unwillingness to settle for short and sweet posts, I put off posting about the Free Auntie An’s Pretzels until it was too late. Completely missed talking about the February 2, 2008 event. I’m not going to make the same mistake with IHOP’s National Pancake Day. I’ve posted about it before, but here it is again. It’s next week February 12, 2008 and occurs from 7am to 8pm.

They will give one free short stack of buttermilk pancakes to each guest (that is three pancakes), with no purchase necessary. The catch – they ask you consider making a donation to support local children’s hospitals through Children’s Miracle Network or other local charities. That’s not really a “catch” to most, but i guess a few might think it is.

Visit: IHOP National Pancake Day



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