Monday, December 9, 2013

Cut Your Grocery Bills In Half - It's Not Illegal, But You May Not Want To Brag About It. (Recipe Attached)

Now, faithful readers. You may know one important thing about me after all this time muddling through my ravings - I prepare many of the meals for my family, and do most of the shopping as well, so this excuse for getting out of the house for some adult contact makes sense for me. I feel the need to browse the lanes, one at a time, making decisions that create good feelings for my tummy, as well as my bank account.

Be forewarned: This particular blog entry is not for beginners.

For those who would now turn away from lack of experience, I suggest the following: Search the grocery store for an apparently healthy, fit woman of the 35-year-old range who has a grocery cart filled with healthy items. Roll a can of tomato paste past her, and when she turns her back, steal her cart. Repeat this tactic weekly until you have a good idea of what it is you should be shopping for.

Now, back you experts out there. Remember the ever-present, do it every time you shop, basic rules:

Rule #1- Never shop hungry. If it's unavoidable, grab a box of animal crackers off the shelf and eat while you shop.

Rule #2- Grab a Coke from the cooler to drink while you shop. It'll make you alert and happy.

Rule #3- Make sure you have room in your MANDATORY deep freezer and basement pantry shelves to put all of this stuff.
If you don't have the room to freeze and store, don't even bother reading further. Unless, of course, you can eat everything at one sitting, then you are cleared to proceed with the rest of us normal folk.

Rule #4- Bring those coupons, and be on the lookout for more in the store. Those 1/2 off suckers really add up.

You need to be on your A game and know what to look for in order to save the big bucks. Don't wander around looking for a long-lost high school sweetheart to reconnect with. This is serious business, and if you want to bang out your maximum bucks, pay attention.

Guerilla Shopping 522:

#1- Hit the Meat Department First Thing
Shop late week, after 6pm when the 'heading home, last-minute' shoppers have moved through. Look for those cute, orange stickers that say MANAGERS SPECIAL. The supermarket needs to move that product before the sell-by date, because if they don't, it's a complete loss to them. You can be sure to see around 50% off these products, realizing HUGE savings. Grab it and use it that night, or freeze it right away.

#2- Bakery Day-Old Bread

Bakery bread is a use it now deal. It'll stay fresh for about 2-3 days depending on the recipe, but you can rest assured it's not going to last as long as that loaf of Wonder Bread you feed your kids. Also, if you like good taste, don't freeze breads- the ice crystals screw with the starches and your end result is blech. Use the reduced-price baked goods in a day or three, or pass them up completely.

#3- Produce.

There's a rolling cart at all three of the supermarkets I shop at, usually at the rear of the produce section that contains 'damaged' fruits and veggies. The produce is packaged up and a manager's special sticker is slapped on it to move that stuff out the door. Get in the habit of checking this religiously, as produce is constantly being fed into this budget saving section. Do you like to do preserves? Canning your thing? This rolling shelf of nirvana will become your best friend.

#4- Bumped and Dented Shelf Goods

There's a shelf, often near the employee access to the back storeroom, that is jam-packed with 'damaged' goods. Hah! I've seen more damaged goods at a Jersey nail salon. Dented boxes, scratched cans, opened multi-packs- this is a great place to look for discounts. If a can is bulging, don't even think about it.

Tah-dah- you spent $75 from your budget of $150. Go buy yourself a Corvette.






OK, here's the recipe for the day. Intermediate, of course, because we're looking for flavor. not zip-n-quick, slap-it-on-a-plate simplicity:






Herb Roasted Chicken With Youngling Veggies

Serves 4
  • 1 (3 1/2 to 4-lb) whole chicken
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves (reserve the parsley stems)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 lb baby red carrots, peeled and stem ends trimmed
  • 1/4 lb baby red carrots, peeled and stem ends trimmed
  • 1/4 lb orange carrots, peeled and stem ends trimmed
  • 1/4 lb baby golden beets, peeled and stem ends trimmed
  • 1/4 lb baby beets, peeled and stem ends trimmed
  • 1/4 lb fingerling potatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
Wash the chicken and pat dry. Season well inside and out with the salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, thyme, sage, parsley and olive oil. Rub the olive oil and herb blend into the cavity of the chicken as well as all over the exterior. Place the parsley stems into the cavity of the chicken, and squeeze each lemon quarter into the chicken and place the rind in as well. Put the bay leaves inside the chicken and place the bird in a roasting pan or a saute pan, and put it into the oven. Roast for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is golden brown, and the juices run clear. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before carving.
For the vegetables: Place the vegetables in a large mixing bowl, and season with the salt and pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and place in a roasting pan or on a sheet pan. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, turning once midway during cooking to ensure even browning. Serve with the herb roasted chicken.