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March 2016

A putty knife is an excellent kitchen clean up tool

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Putty knifeSo you're cleaning up the breakfast dishes before you take off for work and that spatula has a bit of egg clinging to it.  Reach for a putty knife.  It's a GREAT tool to scrape dishes down with.  No, I'm not talking the metal kind of putty knife, I'm talking the plastic, disposable kind.  Scrape down cooking utensils, pans, plates, etc. as you rinse them for the dishwasher, or use them to scrape down a tough baked on mess from a casserole dish you need to hand wash.  Bonus:  They're easy on Teflon!  Just don't use too much elbow grease.  Available at any home improvement or hardware store, a pack of three disposable putty knives goes for around $3.

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A Review of the Serta 18" Queen External AC Pump Airbed

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

SertaI purchased this bed to get me by until I can get a decent queen size mattress and box spring set.  I've owned air mattresses in the past, the cheap, low profile kind that just aren't comfortable, leak air (becoming almost flat by morning) and just aren't easy to get in and out of for a big guy like me.  So with low expectations going in, I purchased the Serta 18" Queen External AC Pump Airbed for $75 at Target.  The bed was easy to inflate and I found it pretty comfortable.  I've been sleeping on it every night for nearly a month now and have had to put a little additional air in it a couple times.  It's a temporary bed situation, an air bed getting everyday use.  This Serta airbed has exceeded my expectations.

I give it 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.

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Shopping at Dollar Tree

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Out on my own and having to pretty much start from scratch again at age 53 (I won't bore you with the details), I found myself staring at the empty apartment I just 'moved' into.  There I was, about a month ago, standing in my kitchen with a Wendy's $4 meal deal in hand/mouth, pondering how I was going to start preparing meals.  I had silverware, a couple knives and a cast iron skillet, but was pretty much void of everything else.  I also needed bathroom items, most notably a shower curtain as well as cleaning supplies. 

Hello Dollar Tree!

Dollar TreeI had never shopped at one before, now I'm doing it out of necessity and I'm liking it.   They've got just about every essential item and as the name implies, each item is only a buck!  On my first trip I supplied my kitchen with a can opener, strainer, spatula, two plates, two bowls, a hand towel, dish soap and a package of sponges.  That's 10 items for you guessed it, $10 plus tax.

On another trip I bought food.  Chips, Ramen soup (package of six), butter, bologna, a box of pasta and hot dogs.  That's six items for?......  Yep, $6.  And there's no product quality complaint to be made, besides, what do you expect for $1 right?  I've had no issues yet, the food has all been good and the non-food items have performed like they're supposed to and continue to.   Longevity could be an issue, but then again, the stuff costs $1.

The store is filled with household items, pantry items, health/beauty products, cleaning supplies, office and school supplies, containers, toys, you name it.

If you've never shopped at a Dollar Tree before, I suggest you go check it out.  You're bound to find something to your liking and it will only cost $1!

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Being Your Own Butcher

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

So you are grocery shopping, you're looking at that package of 4 boneless pork chops going for around $2.50 a pound.....   Don't buy them.

Buy a pork loin instead.  It may cost more out-of-pocket at the time, but I bought a 10 pound pork loin at Costco the other night for just under $17.  Now I've got a freezer full of chops, not just four.

Pork loinBe your own butcher for this kind of thing.  The convenience of buying something all ready for the frying pan is great, but it comes with a cost.  Cutting your own chops from a pork loin - THE most under-rated cut of meat on the planet - saves you a lot of money and really doesn't cost much in terms of time at all.  Just weigh the financial comparison - 4 grocery store butchered chops @ $2.49 a pound (2 meals?), vs. about 16-20 chops (depending on how thick or thin you want them - 10, 12 meals?) @ $1.69 a pound. 

Cutting the loin down into chops and some stew meat didn't take much time at all, maybe 10 minutes and now I've got everything portioned out for meals and in the freezer.

TIP:  Don't trim the fat when cutting the loin and creating the chops!  Fat means flavor during the cooking process.  Trim it before serving.

For some great pork recipes go to my grilling blog:  www.grillinggoodeats.com

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Don't Buy Jar Spaghetti Sauce, Make Your Own

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Ragu, Prego, Bertolli, Classico, Emeril's, Newman's Own, and so on....   They come in an array of flavors (many of which you've probably never tried before) and an array of costs, $3, $5, $7 a jar and so on....  Sure, they're convenient, but don't buy them.

Make your own, it's so easy and WAY cheaper than buying the jar stuff.  The best part, you control the flavor!

Here's a quick sauce you can make, use it as a base to incorporate your favorite flavors.

Ingredients

  • One Tablespoon olive oil
  • Half a medium onion, finely chopped (alternative - dried minced onion or onion powder)
  • Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped (alternative - garlic powder)
  • One 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • One cup water
  • One Tablespoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat up a medium sauce pan over medium heat, put in the olive oil and onion.  Saute until translucent.  Add the garlic, stir for about a minute.  Add in the tomato paste, water, oregano and stir.  Salt and pepper to taste.    This is a base sauce, take the flavors where you want to go from here.  Add some red chili flake, or some Parmesan cheese.  Try a beef or chicken bouillon cube.  Basil is a great add.  Melt a tab of butter into the sauce just before serving.  Personally, I like to add some sliced mushrooms and Cookies Flavor Enhancer to my sauce.  The flavor profile is all up to you, it's easy to do and you didn't have to spend $5 or $7 bucks to bring it to your table!  A 6 ounce jar of tomato paste costs around 75 cents.  We're talking bargain provided you've got some basic seasonings in your pantry.


Ramen Soup For Lunch

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Ramen soup, it's cheap, it's a budget food, a single-person's food, a plan 'B' food, a college dorm food, a don't-know-what-else-to-have-so-this-will-have-to-do food...

Don't just make it per the package instructions, liven things up!

Fire up the stove, put a tab of butter in the pan, throw in a can of sliced mushrooms, saute for a bit, then throw in some garlic powder, a dash of black pepper, some minced onion.  Add a package of chicken ramen soup, 2 cups of water, add in some Louisiana hot sauce, a little soy sauce and simmer for 3 minutes or until the noodles are to your liking.

There you have it, a quick, very inexpensive, but satisfying soup that didn't take long at all to prepare and a soup that will hold you until dinner time.