Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for September, 2008

[ Currently Eating: Chili Fries ]

Hye there Cheap Eaters.

I’ve sort of hinted at this new project of mine over the past couple of weeks. It’s still “in the works”, but I figured I should probably officially announce it right now.

Cheaplander Meets Cheap Eats at BloglanderThe website is called Cheaplander and this will be similar to Cheap Eats in that we’ll focus on reviews of cheap, inexpensive products. But the difference is we’ll be talking about EVERYTHING cheap, not just food.

I’m also going to be putting up some articles and other content (hopefully not boring your socks off) as time permits. I haven’t really told anyone about the site yet, so I figured since this blog was the inspiration for it, I should let the readers know about it.

First, I need to get something out of the way: Cheap Eats itself will NOT be discontinued. In fact, if anything, I’m going to ramp up posting here in order to try get eyes over there. I’m going to have SOME food reviews over on Cheaplander, but the majority of them will still land here.

The thing is: I’m not a very good promoter. I’m a halfway decent blogger I guess. But the blogging world has completely changed – there are just TOO many good blogs out there. So, the only way I could think of right now to try and get people interested was to spam you cross-promote it here.

Sorry if that sounds a little lame. Nevertheless – I’ve been writing on Cheap Eats for almost 4 years now. I haven’t asked readers for anything in all that time. But I guess I’m asking now – if you enjoy Cheap Eats and you have the time, would you please check out the new blog? And, if you would like to, please leave a comment. Also, if you’re into the whole RSS feed thingy, I’m using Feedburner for that – I’d be ever so grateful if you could add the feed to your reader.

Now – about Cheaplander. While it seems awfully opportunistic with the crazeee market bailout bababooey going on right now, I’ve been planning that website for about 2 years now. I enjoy writing, and to some extent, I enjoy helping people out. When I started Cheap Eats, I never thought it’d be possible to create a blog that would be entertaining, yet helpful. But I went ahead anyway – I figured at some point the blog would gravitate toward one side or the other. I’ve been told by many that eventually you have to “choose” between them.

(This sounds very Jedi-master-ish, I know. Or perhaps Pepsi-Coke-ish.)

I’ve been extremely surprised that to this day, some people enjoy the writing purely as entertainment, while others come here to actually get help. I get tons of mail about both sides, and it’s pretty gratifying.

I like writing about food and have made a lot of great contacts that way. But, I always felt that there was a whole spectrum of content that was being missed. That was the beginning of my plans for Cheaplander. Along the way, I realized that the gist of the content could focus around the idea of living within your means, since I’ve been sort of practicing this since I was a kid (haha, well more like brainwashed into it by the folks. Must say, I owe all my “success” to them, however.). Indeed, Cheap Eats itself came about because I needed to live within a budget.

As you can imagine, I couldn’t have predicted how timely that phrase would be. Just look at the state of the markets today.

Ok, I’m not going to go on and on – you can read more about it on the About page for Cheaplander.

But one last thing – whereas on Cheap Eats I’ve always been a bit hesitant to get involved with the “community”, I’m going to make more of an effort to include fellow Cheaplanders in the new site. I’ll probably be making a few more posts about it over the next couple of months – but, I’m looking for contributors to make a few posts once in awhile.

Up front: I can’t pay you. However, if exposure is what you’re looking for, then that’ll be taken care of in a byline on your post and inclusion on the “contributor’s page”. Also, I tend to get occasional free stuff from companies. I’d be willing to ship some of that out to people who might review it. I’m still trying to figure it out, but let me know if you’re interested.

Thanks for reading this non-Cheap Eats post. Full “coverage” will resume in a few days.


p.s. I apologize in advance if certain things on the new site don’t function yet and if the look is still rather bare. I’m still in the midst of changing things day-to-day.

[ Currently Eating: Mac and Cheese ]

Claim Jumper Chicken Marsala - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Hello crazies. Since everyone’s gone back to skool[sic, not out sick], I guess I should get back into the normal Cheap Eats swing of things. We’ll start by going the usual route – Frozen Dinners.

Glurgh, my artery just whimpered again.

I got the chance to try out a whole lot of these Claim Jumper Frozen Dinners. Whew – first off, if you didn’t know about the Claim Jumper restaurant chain then you probably have no idea why they’re called that. The dinners are similar to the Marie Callender’s frozen dinners, where they’re inspired by the restaurant.

I used to visit the Claim Jumper near the Puente Hills Mall in Southern California occasionally. What I remember is enormous “cowboy” sized portions, and lots and lots of butter, cream sauce and salt. Like Appleby’s – well, not THAT bad. I just remember they had this fried zucchini appetizer thing that came out and it was as big as baseball bat. Or a canoe. I think I got the lasagna entree. It was as big as the dang LADWP building.

Mutant zucchini’s aside – I was a little hesitant about eating these. The first one I’ve tried, the Chicken Marsala, lived up to the restaurant in question. Gigantic buttery and salty flavors. I wish I hadn’t started with this one because it was by far the worst of the five different varieties.

First off – I just could NOT get past the saltiness. I admit I like things less salty than most, but for food reviews I, er, take saltiness with a grain of salt. It’s like going into combat. I mentally prepare my tongue. Or something like that.

I couldn’t figure out how the % Daily Value could only be 53%, which is already quite gi-normous. Then I realized – this 14 ounce meal is meant for TWO people. Yes, right – you are going to SHARE a frozen meal with someone. Sneaky.

But, because I like to play fair – I’ll try and report on the meal as if the salt content wasn’t overpowering.

Claim Jumper Chicken Marsala - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

The full meal description is “Roasted white meat chicken in a Marsala Sauce over Rigatoni with Baby Bella Mushrooms.” I probably shouldn’t have tried making this particular meal in the microwave. I have had very poor luck with microwaving frozen meals that have any sort of sauce in it, especially those that say to “open and stir” halfway through the cooking time.

It is very difficult to stir a block of chicken and noodle ice. Try it sometime.

Anyhow, I sort of broke it apart and then continued the cooking. I got the result above. The meal actually had a very good smell, although I thought it was very “winey”. The sauce itself was the consistency of salisbury steak gravy but was actually delicious. It was extra buttery and creamy, much to the shagrin of the aforementioned artery.

Continue reading “Claim Jumper Chicken Marsala” …

[ Currently Eating: Just Coffee ]

Ikea Breakfast - Cheap Eats at BloglanderUgh… I’m back a little early. But no worse for wear in general. The painful finger issue seems to have gone away – somewhat of a mystery.

Anyhow, I wasn’t going to post until next week but I felt absolutely compelled to get the word out about the FREE IKEA BREAKFAST that is going to be happening this weekend Sept 19-21, 2008. Seize the day, indeed. O captain, my captain!

I actually like the food in general at IKEA and have been meaning to make a post about it since it’s fairly cheap. But this is for free breakfast, no strings attached. You don’t have to buy anything – but of course, how could you not go to IKEA and NOT buy anything, LOL. That’s what they’re counting on, of course.

There’s more info on the Ikea site (I didn’t link directly to the coupon page because they’ll probably take it down later.) Note, the free breakfast does not apply in several cities (also, I didn’t check whether it applies in other countries), so you should probably check or call before heading down there. I wouldn’t want you to get breakfast-blocked after driving all the way there.

The offer is one per customer and only good until 10:30am. You get a free small breakfast and one cup of coffee – total value is $2. But hey, every little bit counts – have you felt the wobbling crazy insane eeekconomy lately? I have… and speaking of which – I’m still working on that related side project which was part of the reason for the extended break / vacation. I was going to “announce” it next week on the blog. But you can probably find it earlier if you’re interested.



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