Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

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[ 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.

7/29/08 | Won Ton Time

[ Currently Eating: Earthquake Food ]

NOTE: Due to rocking and rolling and other earthquakedness, our regular Cheap Eats coverage will be postponed until such a time as the ground stops shaking. For now, please gaze fondly at this older photo of an enormous shrimp dumpling from the now defunct Won Ton Time on Garfield in Monterey Park.

Regular coverage will resume in a few days, or next week depending on schedule and Laziness Quotient™. Thank you.

Won Ton Time - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

[ Currently Eating: Leftover Chicken Lasagna ]

Hi there Cheap Eaters – well, it’s Thanksgiving time already and I’m already running around starting the prep for the turkey (cooked Alton Brown style as usual) and other dishes. So, I don’t have much time to blog – in lieu of the usual wit and repartee, here are three different dish pics representing “eating out”, “buying prepared food and eating in” and “eating in from scratch”:

Fish Tacos 1 - Cheap Eats

Ah yes, fish tacos. There’s a halfway decent place near us called Dorados that has fried fish tacos with cabbage, salsa, guacamole – $2 per taco (they used to be less). Not the cheapest, but we like these a lot as far as the fried fish tacos go.

Fish Tacos 1 - Cheap Eats

Have you ever tried taking a pic by holding the camera in one hand and a wild, flopping half-eaten fish taco in the other? Not the easiest of things…

Tortellini - Cheap Eats

I often make a quick pit stop at Trader Joe’s… that is when there’s parking in the lot. For the longest time I was under the impression that this is a high-end foodie shop for those with wallets fatter than a Burger King Enormous Omelet Sandwich. However, there are certain products that are much cheaper at Trader Joe’s than in normal supermarkets. Things like mushrooms, Lactaid, arugula – I find they’re much cheaper (and more fresh) than the average supermarket.

Also, since I’m at the market anyway, I often pick up a package of their pre-made pasta thingies to cook at home for lunch – they have ravioli, tortellini, lasagna, and so-on. These Pesto Tortellini were very good, and I think the one package was about $2.25 or so. It was much more than I could eat as well. I figure an average Healthy Choice frozen dinner is $2, so why not go with the fresh stuff. Simple butter garlic sauce, with some grated parmesan on top.

Chicken Chile Verde Soup - Cheap Eats

Finally, this is supposed to be Chicken Chile Verde made from scratch, but it turns out I made it too salty so I had to keep diluting the heck out of it until it became Chicken Soup. It was pretty good, sort of like Tortilla Soup you get at restaurants. I often make Chile Verde Pork, but I had some chicken breast in the fridge so I decided to try that instead. On reflection, it looks an awful lot like Progresso Soup. The amount of effort I put into it versus opening a can of soup – I don’t want to talk about that. =) But I’ll try get a recipe up if I make it again.

[ Currently Eating: Lasagna, Green Beans and Rice ]

Cheap Eats - IHOP Free PancakesGoodness. Lately, there seems to be less hours in the day than there are hairs on Britney Spears head. Ahh… sorry, I just had to say it since everyone else is. Anyhow, what I mean is that due to time constraints and blah, blah, blah, I’ve missed or nearly missed any number of free food days here at Cheap Eats, the latest one being tomorrow (or probably today by the time you read this).

IHOP is celebrating National Pancake Day by handing out free short stacks of their pancakes. It’s only good ONE day, Feb. 20 , 2007 and you have to order up from between 7am and 10pm. One stack per visitor of course.

I know. It’s just a stack of pancakes, and a short one at that. They’ve helpfully approximated that you will receive 3 pancakes in your stack. But free is free, right? Here’s the thing though: you have to eat in, and when you order it I’m guessing they’re probably going to ask you to make a donation to support local children’s hospitals or other local charities. Let me see, here I am sitting in nice cozy IHOP eating free pancakes – do you think I’m going to be able to look them in the eye and say no to a donation like that? You’d have to be pretty heartless – or pretty poor.

Don’t get me wrong – of course it’s for a worthy cause. And probably tax deductible (?) But the topic here is Cheap Eats and if a short stack of pancakes is going to cost me $25 then you can count me out. I’d just as soon make a normal donation without having to involve a multi baggillion dollar company like IHOP, thank you very much.

Hm… this post is taking on the tone of a Hall Of Shame entry… I’d better run off to the kitchen and eat some leftover Chinese New Year’s tea eggs in order to un-grumblyize. If you do end up going down to IHOP for Pancake Day, let me know how it goes.

[ 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: Tea, Just Tea. Really. ]

Well, well, well. If it isn’t All You Can Eat Pancake time at International House of Pancakes (that’s IHOP for people who like abbreviations. I sure do.) I actually saw this on another blog, but since I just visited IHOP a little while back I thought I’d revisit this breakfast place.

Here are the gory details:

Our award-winning buttermilk pancakes are served with your choice of breakfast favorites – eggs, bacon, pork sausage and hash browns. During this special offer, we will keep the pancakes coming until you say stop.

All You Can Eat Pancakes are available for a limited time only at participating IHOP locations.

I think it costs $4.99 which seems to be a decent deal if you really, really like pancakes. The last time I was there I got some meat-centric (bacon and sausage) meal that came with toast and eggs so I didn’t get to try their pancakes.

[Edit: I just went to IHOP the other day and they seem to have 3 different all you can eat pancake deals, for $5.99, $6.99 and $7.99 which come with different extras depending on the price.]

If I remember correctly from the last time I had them, they’re not the worst in the world, but nothing to drive more than a couple of miles for. And according to their site there are over 1200 IHOPs throughout the U.S. and Canada, so chances are good there’s one in driving distance of you.

IHOP all you can eat pancakesOne thing I like about IHOP is that the waitresses are actually FRIENDLY. At least at the one we frequent. I don’t know how they can stay so chipper refilling all those truck-driver and late-night partier’s coffee cups. They must have a stress relief ball pinned to the inside pocket of their aprons or something.

Speaking of coffee… that is one area where I’ve got to give them a real big Cheap Eats raspberry. As with most diners, they always ask if you want coffee with your meal. I always figured they’re just being nice. But anyhow, you may want to watch out if you innocently say yes. Because they serve up the coffee (decent tasting, by the way) in a pitcher and let you fill up your own cups. I think it is all you can drink, but they don’t charge by the cup, at least I don’t think so.

I mean, we just said “Yeah, coffee for two please” and when the bill came it was like $3.50 for coffee! Whatever happened to fifteen cents a cup… and even if not, I thought refills were free. I was pretty shocked. I mean that is almost as much as the price of the All You Can Eat Pancakes!

So instead of all you can eat pancakes, I’d like to see them offer all you can drink coffee that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. And because of that, I’m going to have to lower my score on them a goodly amount…

Price: $4.99
Available at: IHOP
Cheap Eats Score: 5/10

7/6/05 | Zankou Chicken

[ Currently Eating: Neat Macaroni Egg Salad ]

Zankou Chicken

As promised earlier, I’m finally getting around to reviewing local area eateries near where I live. As you can imagine, besides reviewing fast food places and “quick sit down” places there aren’t too many chances to review actually restaurants since I try not to eat out too often. That is Cheap Eats Rule #1: avoid eating out when you can!

But anyhow, the other day I happened to be in Pasadena (for the Pasadena City College flea market) and decided to try out an old favorite of mine: Zankou Chicken. You might have heard of this Southern California fave without even knowing it, since Beck sings about it in his song “Debra” (off of the Midnight Vultures CD. Hey, if it’s good enough for Beck…

The first Zankou Chicken was actually opened in Beirut, Lebanon (1962). The owners, the Iskenerian family, then moved to L.A. and opened up the first American Zankou in Hollywood. In the early 90′s, they branched out into heavily Middle-Eastern influenced Glendale, CA and eventually spread to Pasadena, Anaheim, West L.A. and Van Nuys and will be opening in Burbank soon.

Zankou Chicken MenuThere are a lot of strong opinions about Zankou Chicken on either side of the “like-it, hate-it” camps. Some people say it’s the best roast chicken they’ve had while others say they have had better elsewhere, and for cheaper. They have a pretty famous strong garlic paste sauce that has always been a hit. Besides the classic rotisserie chicken you can also get plates which include the garbanzo bean and tahini based hommus (or hummus), pita bread, chopped tomato and these crazy purple-pink marinated turnip pieces.

Some of the more unconventional items on the menu are Shawerma (Marinated beef from a spit), Tarna (Marinated spiced chicken from a spit), Falafels (Fried mixture of Garbanzo, Fava beans, and split peas), and Mutabbal (Eggplant mixed with garlic and sesame)

I’ve always been somewhat split down the middle about the restaurant. I’ve certainly had better tasting Falafel wraps and Shawerma plates elsewhere, but the roast chicken was always really good. Crispy skin and not dry, even for the 1/4 white meat plate. I think the kicker that kept me coming back was the price, which was fairly cheap. The good quality Roasted Chicken Wrap with garlic paste for about $2 was excellent.

But this past time I went, I saw that nearly all the prices have been raised. A chicken wrap is now $3.29 and a 1/4 dark meat chicken plate is now $4.98. This is no longer Cheap Eats. They got a new glitzy looking menu lightboard, but I would have rather had the old boring menu if it meant cheaper prices. In some part, the price hike was overdue. I just can’t get used to inflation.

But I expected that the quality of the food would at least remain the same. Instead, the order of roasted chicken had crisp skin, but it was so salty that I almost had to discard it. And the crispy skin is almost the main reason I used to get it! The meat was just OK, but I had gotten the dark plate. I heard some people who got the white meat chicken plate complaining about it being dry. The chicken wraps were about the same, but it’s no longer very economical to get two of them which is what I used to often do. My wallet didn’t have the heart to divulge any more money to try and see how the Falafel fared.

Continue reading “Zankou Chicken” …



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