Monday, June 14, 2010

Eatin on the Cheap with Low-Fat Cheesecake!

Post 2! The requirement to actually write a post has been looming over my head. Recently I’ve gotten some flack for not writing every day- let’s clarify something. I will not be writing every single day. Sorry! There are several reasons for this.

1.I do not have time to do so. I work 40+ hours a week!
2.Trying new recipes is expensive- I will be trying only 1-2 new ones per week. I won’t post unless I have a recipe-regardless of what you might think, I don’t like to hear my own voice out loud (or read my own thoughts online), so I won’t post “just because”.
3.As you will read in this post, part of saving money on groceries is the reality of leftovers. I only cook 3-4 different recipes per week anyway.

With that being said, let’s get on with it!

If you know me at all, you know that I’m chatty. Like my Mom, I tell stories in a very round-about way and give lots of background information, regardless of whether or not you care or whether or not it’s necessary to understand the whole story. I’m a nosey person, always gotta have the scoop. I figure everyone wants to know as many details as possible, just like me- so forgive me.

I was talking to my mom on the phone (as I do most every day of my life) and she went on to rave over this whole blog thing, as if I was some author- a legit one. The gal can’t copy and paste, so I guess I’ll cut her some slack. Anyway, she told me she couldn’t believe I only spend $40/week on groceries and I told her my “secrets” (which I think are common knowledge, but perhaps not!) and she requested I post them. So, Momma, this one’s for you!

Eatin on the Cheap!

I’m a pretty cheap shopper in all aspects. The cheaper, the better. Most people equate “cheap” and “groceries” with an unhealthy diet- Ramen, chips, etc. Not so!

Daniel and I eat all of our meals for $40. We eat fresh fruits and veggies at every single meal (sans breakfast- fruit only!). How? Here are a few tips.

1.Know what you already have in your kitchen and then plan all food out in advance. I either write out or type every single meal we will be having for the week, then make a grocery list of all the things I could possible need. Printed recipes come in handy at this step. I absolutely hate forgetting 1 or 2 ingredients and having to go to the store mid-week. After all planning, go through your cabinets and pantry again and cross off what you already have.

2.Have a general idea of how much things cost. I know, this comes with time, but it does come in handy. You just have to be a regular shopper! This way, you can be at any grocery store and know whether something is a good deal or not.

3.GO TO ALDI. I know several Aldi-haters, and I’m not sure where the sentiment comes from. Some are skeptical of the quality, but I’ve never ever gotten something bad or low-quality from there. The place is home to me-even the smell (which I LOVE) brings back childhood memories. Anyway, most things are definitely cheaper there than at other grocery stores, even Walmart. They have fantastic produce for great prices (in the winter, I bought 8-piece bags of Sunkist oranges for $.99- that’s not even a sale!), fresh dairy/bakery items, and even low- and reduced-fat alternatives, like shredded cheese, FOR NO ADDITIONAL COST! Groceries have been getting better, but sometimes you have to buy name-brand to get reduced fat and I don’t do that! Here are a few staples that I always get there and their typical prices.

Milk Gallon - $2.04
Pineapple- $1.99
Strawberries- $.99
Cantaloupe- $.99
Grapefruit $.33/each
Blueberries (pint)- $1.19
Cherry Tomatoes (pint)- $1.19
3 Green Bell Peppers- $.99
3 Multi-colored Bell Peppers- $1.99
Whole Wheat Bread $1.19
Bagged/washed salad $.39-$.99
Frozen Chicken- $5.99/3 lbs
Frozen Pizza- $2.39
Biscuits-$.39/10 pack
Eggs- $.99
Shredded Cheese- $2.19/3 cups (not 2)

The list goes on and on. They also have great prices on cereals, canned items, chips, yogurt, veggies, everything. I understand that you might be able to get some of these items cheaper at other stores when they are having a sale (refer to point #4!) or you have coupons, but these are ALWAYS prices. They are consistent and when the market is great, you can see it reflected in the prices. They rarely raise their prices! I don’t really buy their meat, except for frozen chicken breasts, which brings me to…

4.Shop sale ads, especially meat sales! My friend Ellie and I have an unspoken pact that we text one another REALLY great deals on things like meat and other staples. When something goes on sale, stock up and freeze it. A lot of times meat is genuinely on sale; other times, the store runs manager’s specials that don’t make it to the store ad. These are usually meats that need to be sold by the next day. FREEZE IT. I know, you’re thinking I spend money on meat in the middle of the week, so no wonder I only spend $40- I’m not buying meat! Nope- that’s included. Last week I bought 2 whole chickens and am not even using them until this week and next week. Worried about wasting gas? My stores are all within a mile of one another (Aldi, Hy-Vee, Price Chopper, and Walmart), so I don’t!

5.Buy what’s in season- especially with produce. This is obviously when prices are cheaper. I HOOVER blueberries; however, I refuse to buy them unless it’s summer because I will not spend $5 per pint. I just bought a pint (actually, 2!) at Hen House for $1.88 (Aldi was closed- we have a rough weekend). Learn to like fruits and veggies throughout the year… and refuse to buy what’s not in season at the time. Chances are it won’t taste very good anyway.

6.Shop with a list- you’ll be more likely to get all of the things you need and less likely to stray from the list and buy things you DON’T need. Be disciplined!

7.Finally, eat leftovers. Since there are only 2 of us, I cook for 4 people and we eat the same thing two night in a row or every other night (Monday and Wednesday the same, Tuesday and Thursday and same). You will save time cooking, make use of the food you buy and waste less, and, of course, save money!

I don’t necessarily clip coupons, but they always help, too. My friend Ellie plays the Grocery Game at and absolutely loves it. I haven’t had the time to try it, but one day I might!

Anyway, hope this experience was worth your reading time. Here is a great recipe for your patience!

Low-Fat Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Brownie mix, all necessary additions
3 Fat Free Cream Cheese Boxes
3 Eggs
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Cup + Garnish Mini chocolate Chips
1 tub fat-free cool whip

Spray and line Spring Form pan with parchment paper (take bottom out and trace a circle!). Make brownie for fudgy recipe and pour into pan (can substitute apple sauce for oil to make healthier). Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees. Brownie should NOT be set when you take it out. It will cook more with the cheesecake.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add 1 egg at a time, beat thoroughly. Add condensed milk and vanilla and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour over slightly cooled brownie. Bake for 55 minutes at 300 degrees or until center is set. Cool completely (and slowly- on the counter top, not fridge!) and spread with cool whip and sprinkling of chocolate chips.

Cheesecake tip- Cheesecakes crack when the moisture inside evaporates while it bakes and sometimes while cooking to fast. If you fill a pan with water and place it on a lower rack while the cheesecake bakes, it should help!

See you soon (probably NOT tomorrow!)


  1. 1. I support your mom in her ambitions to make you the next "Rachael Ray." Therefore, when open auditions for the Food Network's Next TV Star come to the KC area, I'm signing you up!

    2. What if I'm not blessed with an Aldi down here in Texas?! I do love your tips though. I still haven't even tried your stromboli (you need to post that recipe too!).

    3. Thanks for another chocolate chip recipe. Love it! And YOU!


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