Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I have so many New Year's Resolutions this year, but this one will be simple to keep. I am eating nothing but food from the Dollar Store in 2011. As it is, I go to the Dollar Store -- well, actually the 99 Cent Only Store mostly -- once a week, and that fills up my cupboard and fridge nicely. I'm also able to buy all my household goods there, so the only other shopping I do is for beer, and/or liquor.

I will keep my food , drink (including beer) and household items budget to $200 a month, $50 a week, or roughly $7 a day. If I curbed my alcoholic consumption I could easily keep it at $5 a day, but I do like my beer, and I hear moderate drinking is actually good for you . . . well, it is good for me, anyways.

I've already cut out fast food, and I rarely if ever eat at restaurants (if I do, it is comped with points or freebies from the casinos in Vegas),so this resolution really should be a cinch.

Another goal is to make my Dollar Store Diet healthy, and actually lose some weight. Again, I've had a lot of practice in this area (losing and GAINING weight), so if I stick to my guns and add a light exercise routine (walking stairs), I should be able to shed a few pounds.

So let's see -- I will be saving money, eating great, and losing weight!

I'm single, but many of my eating suggestions and recipes will easily (and in most cases most readily) feed a couple or family, so the more that consume, the more you can stretch your budget.

I hope you will join me, and I hope that I can keep another resolution, which will be blogging every day.

I'm afraid the recession is not leaving us any time soon, so here's to affordable, healthy living in the New Year! Cheers!

Peanut Butter and Pretzels

Peanut Butter goes great with many things . . . chocolate, bananas, bacon, celery, jelly, bread . . . most of these you can get at the dollar store (bacon bits I've found, but no real bacon strips yet), but lately I've been eating peanut butter and pretzels.

This week the 99 Cent Only Store had a small 12 oz. jar of Skippy Super Chunk, and a 10 Count Value Pack of Snyder's Mini Pretzels (.5 oz bags).

Both had expiration dates in 2011 -- I do check the expiration dates when I buy name brands from the Dollar Store -- and looked to be good buys.

I'm always a little nervous to have a jar of  peanut butter in the house, as I've been known to overindulge . . . I love it that much, but I am happy to say I have been able to control myself.

The small bags of mini pretzels have 0 fat, 50 calories, and 120 mg of sodium. This is a great diet snack, and you could easily eat 2 small (.5oz) ounce bags and still be worry free.

Peanut butter, on the other hand is loaded with fat (even if it is the good kind, it is still fat) -- 16grams, high in calories (190), but reasonable when it comes to sodium, with 120 grams per serving.

That said, the combination of the pretzels dipped in peanut butter is wonderful, and Vegan friendly. It is easy on the wallet too. I've been eating this while drinking beer, and it just doesn't get any better.

Well, unless you're Elvis. . .  and in honor of the King, here is his recipe for "Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches" taken from my potholder bought at Graceland:

2 Large Bananas
6 Slices White Bread
1 Stick (1/2 cup) Butter
1 Cup Peanut Butter

Peel and mash bananas. Mix peanut butter with bananas thoroughly. Toast bread lightly and spread mix on bread. Melt butter is skillet and brown sadwiches on each side slowly until golden brown.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wedding Cake or Snowball Cookies for Christmas

You just never know what you will find at the Dollar Store, and the Holiday Season brings all sorts of surprises.

These Snowball Cookies are marked $3.19 but are yours for just a buck. Perfect for Christmas cookie trays, to bring to the office, or just to snack on by your lonesome. The packaging is so cute, you may not even want to open them.

They are made by Ellison Bakery, from Fort Wayne, Indiana since 1945. I always like to choose foods made or grown in the good ole U.S. of A. when I can. The Ellison slogan is "Find Comfort in our Cookies," and at a dollar for 9.5 ounces, I say comfort is very affordable.

You will of course eventually open them, and they are delish -- powdered sugar, butter (well, they use margarine), and pecans makes for a classic Wedding Cake, or Snow Ball cookie.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Everything But the Turkey

The 99 Cent Only Stores advertise "everything but the turkey" for the Thanksgiving, and for the most part they do have the fixins'.

You can get cranberry sauce, stuffing mix, onions, celery, margarine, rolls, potatoes, canned yams, green beans, onion soup, chicken stock, olives, pickles, and much more. The 99 Cent Only Store was out of turkey gravy this week, they did have sausage gravy, and chicken gravy mix, but I decided to actually make my own this year.

They always carry a wide array of cooking aids, such as aluminum foil, roasting pans, basters, turkey lifters, stuffing bags . . . the list goes on and on.

This doesn't include all the baking supplies like sugar, eggs, milk, oil, mixes, and spices.

Yes, you really can get everything you need for Thanksgiving -- minus the bird -- at the 99 Cent Only Store.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dollar Store Pumpkin Pie -- no assembly required

The 99 Cent Only Store actually had pumpkin pies . . . fully formed, fully baked, ready to serve. I forgot to take a picture of the one I bought, before I gave it to a co-worker. You see, I don't really like pumpkin pie, and they are giving away free ones today at the casino. A free pumpkin pie beats a dollar pumpkin pie. So if I'm NOT going to eat a pumpkin pie, better to waste a free one, than a dollar one. Twisted logic, I know -- but that's the way I roll.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spicy Black Bean Burgers -- Smells like MEAT!!!

My boss gave me the supreme compliment when he walked in on me eating one of my spicy black bean burgers. He said "smells like meat." Well, I don't mean to pat myself on the back, but these burgers taste better than meat! They are so simple to make, and the ingredients all come from the 99 Cent Only Store.

Garbanzo beans, black beans, corn, bread crumbs, onions, mushrooms, carrots, crushed garlic, a little margarine, picante sauce or salsa, salt and pepper are all you need.

Start by sauteeing your chopped onions and garlic in margarine. Throw in some chopped mushrooms. Mash the garbanzo beans and black beans, then add some corn. Add your sauteed ingredients to that, then add grated carrots, bread crumbs, salsa, and seasonings. That's it. You will be able to tell how much of each you need as the goal is a good patty that holds together, but has a lot of texture and is not too pasty or soggy.

Grill your patties in a skillet until they turn golden brown, and look like regular hamburger patties. Garnish as you wish, and enjoy.

These keep very well in the fridge, so make up a batch and reheat in the microwave for a quick meal.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Dollar Store Diet Goes VEGAN!

Yep, that's right. Starting today I begin my adventure in eating Vegan style. Simply put, no animal product will pass my lips. Sure this is easy to do for celebrities and rich people who have personal chefs, and can eat in fine restaurants, but what about Vegan from the Dollar Store???

Yes, even 'po folk like me can try this diet on a budget. You see, I'm not necessarily going Vegan because I love animals (though I do, and I do think eating them is somewhat hypocritical), or even because I'm on a health kick (though I am trying to improve in that area), and I'm not even following fashion because "all the cool kids are doing it" (though I admit Steve Wynn going Vegan caught my eye). I eat very little meat anyways, had lost craving any foods in particular, and was bored. So why not give Vegan a whirl? Why not?

So, here I am. It is Sunday afternoon, and I am hungry, let's see what I can whip up from my Dollar Store items.

Voila! The Mean Green Bagel. A whole wheat bagel toasted, topped with advocado, cucumber, red onion, and & picante sauce relish, topped with peanuts, and served with microwave potato chips. You will never miss the meat or dairy with this monster.

I didn't have tomatoes, so I used picante sauce to make a variation on a cucumber salad. Basically it is cucumbers, red onions, and tomatoes in a vinaigrette. I use fat free italian dressing and then add white white and balsamic vinegar.

The flavor profile is similiar to guacamole, kicked up and sweetened with the vinegar, while the peanuts and cukes add a nice crunch.

I used to make this bagel with cream cheese, instead of the avocados, but this is just as good.

To make microwave potato chips, simply slice a potato thin, and smear a little vegetable oil based magarine on a plate so the chips don't stick. Sprinkle with garlic salt, and pepper and microwave 6-8 minutes until they just begin to turn golden.

I bought all these ingredients at my local 99 Cent Only Store. The best one is on Decatur near Charleston in Las Vegas -- they have the largest selection of produce and refrigerated items.

That was yummy, I'm stuffed. Now I can skip my trip to the "Chubby Vegan."