Each Wednesday morning, I will offer a recipe based on what's on sale at the grocery stores. This week's recipe is for homemade Sloppy Joes. But before we get to that I'd like to offer a short testimonial about what helped me save money on groceries.
Last summer, fellow N&O reporter Sue Stock loaned me a copy of Faye Prosser's book,"The Smart Spending Guide: How to Cut Your Grocery Bills in Half, Save on your Everyday Expenses and Live within your Means." I devoured that book in one beach weekend. I also attended one of Prosser's classes and an in-house seminar that Stock taught at work. They converted me.
This is how I used to shop. I'd find some fabulous recipe in Bon Appetit or Gourmet and insist on cooking it regardless of how much it cost or the length of the ingredient list. Or there would be nothing in the house that I wanted to eat so I'd run to the store on the way home. I did no meal planning. I rarely used coupons. I saved at most 10 percent on my groceries buying sale items. I spent between $400 and $500 a month on groceries to feed two people.
Now, I plan a week's worth of meals at a time based on what's in my freezer and pantry. When I shop, I mainly buy what's a great deal because it's on sale and I have coupons. I am a religious reader of the Wednesday Deals on Stock's blog, where she pairs coupons with what's on sale at the grocery stores. I also am a constant reader of savvydollar.org, an online forum for N.C. bargain hunters. I now average about 40 percent savings when I buy groceries and spend about $75 a week. Prosser spends $65 a week to feed a family of four and buy dog food and health, beauty and paper products. So I still have much more to learn from her, Stock and other savvydollar shoppers.
So if you are like me and got excited about today's Super Double coupons at Harris Teeter, you have many of the same things that I have in my pantry and fridge: Wacky Mac pasta, many kinds of French's mustard and Daisy sour cream. I'm looking for frugal recipes to use those items. If you are new to this kind of shopping or just looking for some recipes that don't break the bank, I hope this feature will satisfy your needs as well. In the future, if if you would like to view all the frugal recipes, click on the Frugal Feasts tag under Most Popular Tags on the blog's main page.
My first Frugal Feasts recipe comes from Ellie Krieger's "The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life." Krieger is a former model and Food Network personality and frankly I was skeptical about her recipes. But this cookbook exceeded my expectations and each recipe that I have tried has been a hit. (The book ended up winning awards from IACP and the James Beard Foundation.) I chose her recipe for Sloppy Joes. Now I love Manwich and you can score some of that regularly on sale paired with coupons. But Manwich has both high-fructose corn syrup and corn syrup listed in the first four ingredients, depending on which flavor you choose. So a homemade version may be worth a try.
I am suggesting using a less lean ground beef for this recipe because it's on sale this week at Kroger for $1.29 a pound. That's a good deal. (The Kroger on Martin Luther King Blvd. in Raleigh has the same ground beef on sale for 99 cents a pound.) But do as I would do in that case, when the recipe calls for draining the fat, I would actually transfer the meat and onions to a paper towel-lined colander on top of a paper towel-lined plate. When you are happy with the amount of grease and fat that has been removed, then continue cooking per the recipe.
Ellie Krieger's Sloppy Joes
1 pound lean or extra lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced, about 1 1/2 cups
4 cloves garlic, minced, about 4 teaspoons
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced, about 1 cup
One 15.5 ounce can of red or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups no-salt added tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 whole-wheat burger buns
Brown the meat and onion in a large nonstick-skillet over medium high-heat, breaking up the meat into crumbles as it cooks. Pour the drippings out of the pan and discard. Add the garlic, jalapeno and red pepper and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Place a 1/2 cup of the mixture on each bun and serve. Makes 8 servings.
Note: If you bought the bags of stoplight peppers, I'd slice up a couple yellow and green peppers and serve those as a side dish with some ranch or blue cheese dressing.
- 75/25 Ground beef, bought in 5-pound tube, for $6.45. Cost for meal: $1.29
- Onion, 86 cents a pound, Cost for meal: 43 cents
- Garlic, 1 head of garlic cost 37 cents, Cost for meal: 19 cents
- Jalapeno pepper, 99 cents a pound, Cost for meal: 6 cents
- Red bell pepper, either $1.50 for one, or $6 for two packages of stoplight peppers, Cost for meal: $1.50 or $1
- Red kidney beans, Cost for meal: 78 cents
- Tomato sauce, $1.18 for two 8 ounce cans, Cost for meal: 86 cents
- Tomato Paste, 89 cents for a six-ounce can, Cost for meal: 15 cents
- Red wine vinegar, $2.50 for 16-ounce bottle, Cost for meal: 8 cents
- Molasses, $3.69 for a 12-ounce bottle, Cost for meal: 15 cents
- Worcestershire sauce, $1.39 for 10-ounce bottle, Cost for meal: 7 cents
- Dry mustard, $3.29 for 1.3-ounce jar, Cost for meal: 41 cents
- Buns, Cost for meal: $1.79
- Total for meal: $7.26
- Total per serving: 91 cents
Note: Based on the advice of two helpful readers, Nancy Shoemaker and Rebecca Currie, I've broken down the cost based on how much is used for this meal, as opposed to the total cost of ingredients. I did not include the cost of salt and pepper, assuming everyone has those. Many of you will likely already have mustard, worcestershire sauce, vinegar or molasses, which means this meal will cost less for you. If your kitchen is not already well-stocked, these recipes will help you build up your pantry.