Budget Stretching with Cheap Bastid

If you’re like me, you’ve been scratching your head for a couple of years wondering how long it’s going to be before you wake up one day to discover that you are now a vegetarian.  Not because you happen to prefer vegetables over meat but because you can no longer afford meat.

Isn’t that kind of scary!  So today, I’m going to invite you to do some budget stretching with Cheap Bastid.

You have to shop like crazy anymore to find ground beef for as low as $3 a pound.  Bacon has gone from $1.99 a pound to $5 a pound or more in a lot of places

We find ourselves eating smaller portions of meat and cooking meals where a chunk-o-beef isn’t the star but rather where meat is a part of a dish.  Kind of like Clara Peller in the old Wendy’s commercial saying “Where’s the beef?”

And before some goodie two-shoe out there says something like, “you’re better off not eating meat” I just want to say that we are dedicated, life-long carnivores who would rather gnaw cooked flesh than raw carrots or yummy tofu.

Bacon and Pepperoni

For a while now we’ve been buying our pepperoni supply at Smart and Final.  I can get 3 lbs. of pepperoni, already sliced for about $10.  Now that’s not too bad for pepperoni.  And, I use about a quarter pound of pepperoni on a full size pizza.

So we went on a pepperoni run today at Smart and Final.  We cruised down the prepared meat refrigerator case and I saw something that made me put on the brakes.  They had a 3 lb. package of bacon ends and pieces for $6.  That’s $2 a pound.  When’s the last time you saw bacon for $2 a pound?  Even ends and pieces.  I remember about 3 years ago when the meat manager at our local Stater Brothers told me that he only buys ends and pieces because the “good stuff” was just too pricey.  And it was $2 a pound then!

So I grabbed a package of it.  And we instantly changed our dinner plans from plain old “Sketti” to Mrs. CB’s favorite “Spaghetti AbbaZabba” (what the rest of us call Spaghetti Carbonara).

I spent $16 on 6 pounds of meat.  And, as I have done many times in the past, when I got home I spent about 10 minutes  breaking it down into smaller packages that I can put into the freezer until we need it.

Bacon and Pepperoni Packaged

I got 3 bags, 12 ounces each of bacon slices and 2 bags 6 ounces each of pieces (that’s what you need for Spaghetti AbbaZabba is pieces).   That’s a total of 5 bags.  Plus I got a dozen 4 ounce bags of sliced pepperoni for pizza, salads or however else we want to use it—that’s about 4 dozen slices per bag.

So I had to shell out $16 but we’ve got plenty of pepperoni and bacon for a while.  I’m looking forward to BLT’s and bacon and eggs.  And all we had to do was 2 things—a bit of shopping and a few minutes to re-package into serving size freezer bags.

That’s the Cheap Bastid Way:  Eat Good. Eat Cheap. Be Grateful!

Posted in family meals, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Shredded Beef Barbecue Sandwiches

Every once in a while I forget that some of the easy, routine things I do with food should be posted here on “Cheap Bastid Cooks”.  So here’s something incredibly easy, cheap and tasty.

Stater Brothers had a special recently on “London Broil” or top round.  It used to be that you could get this cut fairly often for $1.99 a pound.  No more.  Have you noticed how beef prices have gone up?  Most of the time this cut is about twice that now.  So you have to be a bit more careful and stock up when you can.  I found the special price of $2.88/lb to be irresistible.

So Mrs. CB put about a 3 1/2 lb hunk of it in the slow cooker the other day to make “Roast Beast”.  First she seared it on the grill.  Then she cut up a couple of potatoes and an onion and tossed those with about 20 mini-carrots into the cooker with some water, Worcestershire and soy sauce.  Some garlic powder and pepper makes this a leave-it-alone, hands-off meal that can slow cook pretty much until you’re ready to eat it.  It’s fall apart good and breaks off into hunks when you serve it—we eat it out of bowls rather than on a plate.

Shredded Beef BBQ sandwich

And we made sure that there was plenty of left overs.  Now you can just reheat the “Roast Beast” the next day or you can do something different with it. Continue reading

Posted in family meals, left overs, party and entertaining food, sandwiches, Slow Cooker/Crock Pot, Southern Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Buttermilk Pancakes

OK, everybody who likes pancakes raise your hand!  Well, I see lots of hands out there because just about everyone loves pancakes.  Golden brown, puffy, tender and tasty slathered in butter and syrup.  Sound good to you?  Yeah, me too.

But, where do you usually get pancakes like this?  Not at home.  You have to go to a someplace with a good griddle and the knack of cooking them up just right.

Over the years I’ve made some pretty good golden brown Frisbees.  If you use enough syrup they’re OK.  My kids would snarf them down along with sausage and scrambled eggs for “brinner” or breakfast.  But they weren’t that great.

One reason was that I always took the “easy” way out using “Pancake Mix” from a box—and there’s lots of different kinds from name brands to store brands.  What my tastebuds wanted and what these boxed mixes were able to provide were two different things.

So what’s the solution?  Well, you can make fantastic pancakes, just like the best cook at the greasiest greasy spoon diner whose pancakes you’ve ever loved.  It’s simple.  Make your own batter.  It takes about 5 minutes rather than the 3 minutes you spend dumping the stuff from the store-bought box into a bowl and adding water or milk according to directions.

Homemade Buttermilk Pancakes

What’s the secret?  There isn’t one!  But if you’re a Cheap Bastid like me, you’ve got all the ingredients at home right now to make tastier, fluffier pancakes cheaper than from a box. Continue reading

Posted in breakfast & brinner, family meals, kids meals, Southern Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tuna Salad

It would get absolutely hot and muggy in Tampa, FL when I was a kid.  And it was several years before we had any kind of air conditioning.  And I remember my favorite hot summer dinner that Mom would make–Tuna Salad.

She’d do it early in the morning before everything got too hot and then she’d pop it  in the fridge to chill down for dinner.  I’m talking about simple, homemade tuna salad.  This is something I still really enjoy eating on a hot summer night always accompanied by a stack of saltines to add their salty crispness to the meal.

And I never really had a recipe for it…I just kind of knew how to make it from watching my Mom do it all those years.  But I like to kick it up with just a bit more crunch fresh vegetables including fresh jalapeno.

tasty summertime tuna salad

Continue reading

Posted in Comfort Food, family meals, side dishes, Southern Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Homemade Pasta

I’ve been cooking pasta for years.  I’ve scorched it.  Left it nearly raw.  Turned it into mush.  But mostly I’ve cooked it just fine.  It got a lot easier a couple of years back when Mrs. CB gave me my very own ‘sketti pot for Christmas.  I thought it was my “major gift” that year but she assures me that it wasn’t—it was something electronic—but I’ve been using that big old pot from WalMart ever since.

So, I finally figured it was time to try something different.  Something I’ve seen done a whole bunch of times on cooking shows like “The Chew”, “Top Chef”, “Iron Chef” and others.  Let’s make spaghetti/pasta from scratch.  I always thought that you needed a “pasta maker” to do it.  But, I’ve seen chefs like Mario Batali do it and roll out the pasta on a bread board then cut it with a pizza cutter.  (This is a variation on Mario Batali’s basic recipe).

And the results are really, really good.  The only thing I need to do next time is a better job of working the flour down into the egg volcano and get a better mix going AND roll the dough out thinner on my bread board.

homemade pasta and bolognese sauce

This had tooth.  Plump strands of pasta coated in Bolognese sauce.  So I had a sauce that had some oomph to it and pasta to match.  Give it a try yourself.  You’ve got the ingredients on hand—flour and eggs.  You’ll be amazed at the results.

You don’t need a pasta machine.  You can make this by hand and roll it out.  It’s even more rustic that way too. Continue reading

Posted in Beef Recipes, Comfort Food, family meals, Italian, pasta & pizza, Slow Cooker/Crock Pot | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments