Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rubber Roast

This month I have spent $135 on groceries to feed a family of five, plus three cats and a large dog. I include pet food, cleaners and toiletries in with my grocery money. That's $35 a week to feed everyone, and I've got some big eaters.

I keep the food bills low several ways:

  • I get free cereal and snack foods at CVS and Walmart by use of coupons with sales.

  • I keep my eyes peeled for windfalls like wild fruit or a neighbor's over productive garden.

  • I make leftovers on purpose and use them up.

  • I keep chickens, so I have a source of high quality protein (eggs) for very little expense.

  • I trade my eggs for other food items.

  • I make recipes like Rubber Roast to stretch our food dollars.
I use the term "recipe" very loosely in reference to Rubber Roast. It's more a conceptual menu then a recipe. It expands and contracts easily to fill in a week. This elasticity is why I call it Rubber Roast. Besides, it just sounds funny.

Here's how you do it. First, purchase a low cost pork roast. I try to purchase my meat for less then $1 a pound. My last roast cost $1.13 per pound.

Day One: Fried Pork Steaks, Boiled Potatoes and Salad

  1. Prepare the roast for surgery, and cut thin slices off one end. I have five people in my family, so I made five slices.

  2. I boiled up ten large potatoes and put the rest of the roast in a large pot of water with a little soy sauce and as many carrots, onions, tomatoes and other veggies as would fit in the pot with the water and roast.

  3. I fried up my pork steaks and served meat, potatoes and salad.

  4. Leftover potatoes and pork roast went in the fridge for tomorrow.

Day Two: Chopped Pork and Veggies Over Cheesy Potatoes

  1. Pulled out boiled roast still in its pot and heated it up.

  2. Chopped up remaining potatoes with butter and cheese and microwaved them. I use a pastry cutter and a bowl to make it quick and easy.

  3. Spoon out some meat and veggies with a slotted spoon to keep liquids in pot.

  4. Add grains to remaining liquid and continue to heat. There will still be plenty of veggies and meat bits left in the pot. Remove bone and save.

  5. Serve meat and veggies together with cheesy chopped potatoes and salad.

Day Three: Vegetable Pork Soup with Fresh Cuban Bread and Salad

  1. Take the soup out of the fridge and start heating it up. Add water if it needs it and any spices to taste.

  2. Make easy Cuban Bread from Amy Dacyczyn's Tightwad Gazette.

  3. Serve soup, salad and fresh bread.

  4. Reserve about 4 cups of soup, watered down as needed.

  5. Soak dried beans - enough for another meal.

Day Four: Pork Fried Rice and Veggies

  1. Make rice, using the remaining soup, veggies and meat instead of water. Try to make enough to have a little extra.

  2. In a skillet saute chopped carrots, green beans, onions, celery and whatever you have on hand. Add soy sauce when they have softened.

  3. When rice is done, add to skillet and mix everything.

  4. Start your beans boiling with your pork bone.

  5. Put leftover rice and veggies in fridge.

Day Five: Pork & Beans With Cornbread

  1. Start heating up your beans from yesterday. Remove pork bone at this point and discard it (or give it to your large dog).

  2. Make your cornbread.

  3. When your beans are hot, add rice and veggies from yesterday. Rice and beans make a complete protein and are delicious and satisfying together.

  4. Leftovers from this meal go into the fridge for their final act.

Day Six: Quesadillas and Salad

  1. Spoon beans, meat and veggies from container and microwave.

  2. Chop lettuce, tomatoes, olives and anything else you like in a Mexican salad.

  3. Lay a tortilla in a hot pan, add beans and cheese and top with another tortilla.

  4. Serve with salad.

And you're done. You've just saved money by stretching that roast out over nearly a week. You've also saved a lot of cooking time since after the first day everything is practically instant. You probably haven't eaten out much either, saving more money.

Next week I'll be pulling out my crock pot and seeing if I can stretch a chicken for a week. I think I'll call it Everlasting Chicken;)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Free Bellsouth Two-Way Talk Radio

Hot Freebie Deal From iMommies:

From Penny Pinscher: I just did this deal and now have two radios on their way for $0. This will be great to use with the kids to keep track of them! Thanks iMommies... please make sure yyou check out her great site for more deals!

Regularly priced at $29.99, this Bellsouth Two-way Talk Radio with a five-mile range is on sale this week at for $10. Use the Google Checkout promotion to discount your purchase by $10, and pay $0 out of pocket.

Of course, this is only for ONE radio, so if you don’t already have one in your household, it would be most helpful to purchase TWO! Only one use of the Google Checkout promotion discount is allowed per email address and credit card, so if another member of your family has not yet used Google Checkout…shop away! The promotion ends June 30th!

1.) Click HERE to access
2.) Click the Weekly Advertised Deals tab at the top of the page
3.) Click on the $10 Bellsouth Two-Way Talk Radio image to display the product details
4.) Add the item to your cart
5.) Select Google checkout to receive the $10 discount
6.) Select free shipping. (If your total isn’t $0, you’ve missed a step (unless you live in the sales tax states of California, Massachusetts, or Tennessee.)
7.) Receive your free Bellsouth Two-Way Talk Radio within a few days (usually much faster than their website indicates). allows one free Google checkout item per email address and credit card. (You’ll have to enter your credit card information to check out, but once the Google Checkout discount is applied, your item will be free.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

There IS Such a Thing As a FREE Lunch!

Working at a school can help you learn some interesting things. I've learned that the teacher's lounge always has some sort of baked good waiting there. I've also learned that kids are much more fun when you don't have to clean up after them. And recently I learned that a majority of schools around the nation serve free lunch and breakfast to any child under the age of 18! There are no forms to fill out, no income to verify, no IDs to show. Children just walk in and get lunch.

It's all part of the Summer Food Service Program created by the USDA. While I couldn't find a comprehensive list of all sites involved, I did find plenty of info on Google. Looks like most states participate. I called the schools near my house to find out which ones participate.

I've actually had personal experience with this program prior to rediscovering it. A few years ago I would take my kids to the park at noon and there would always be a group of moms and their kids gathered for lunch.

The kids would have a blast getting out of the house to meet friends, and I loved having the midday meal taken care of every day. It was playdate and lunchtime all rolled into one. I loved it.

I'm curious to see how the program works in other states. In New Mexico it was held in a park, and here in Florida it is held in all the schools. Let me know how it is where you are in the comments section and be sure to spread the word. Who doesn't appreciate a free lunch these days?