Sunday, June 23, 2019

BULK BARGAINS: Feeding My Family for $50!

It' been a while since I did a "Feed My Family for $50" post. But, I recently got some terrific bulk buys. So, let's talk about turning those ultra-low priced items into a menu plan (without your family feeling like they are eating the same thing every night.)

By the way, in this post I have a family of "6" instead of "5". Nope! I did not have a baby! My oldest son came home from college for the summer, giving us 6 in the family instead of 5 for the next 3 months. Whew hoo! Mama's happy to have all the boys home for a few, short weeks!

Bulk Bargains

Sometimes you get bulk food at a price that you just can't turn down. This often happens during the growing season when friends and neighbors share excess garden produce with us. But, not always. Earlier this month, I stopped by my favorite ethnic store and scored some amazing deals on organic produce. There are some things you have to take into consideration.

Here's a post where I break down some thoughts on what you should do after you have shouted "Buy!" and your countertops and fridge are now bulging and overflowing with your amazing buys.

What did I get?  

9 bunches of organic broccoli - Cost:  $9.00. 

24 broccoli stems -  from the 9 bunches of broccoli.
Yep! I use the stems.

In my post entitled, "Hey! Don't Waste That!", I give you step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the stems for use. 

Over 10 pounds of organic red potatoes - 40¢ a pound - Cost: $3.40

Cabbage - 19¢ a pound - I used my HyVee rain check!  - Cost: $1.79
1 bought 3 heads of cabbage.

My General Plan 

My first line of defense when I score fantastic bargains is to assess: 

1.    How long the item will last before degrading in quality. I.E. - Cabbage will last two weeks, but fresh tomatoes, just a few days.

2.  How much I will cook and how much will I freeze for long term use.

3.  How many ways I can prepare it - so my family doesn't feel like they are eating the same thing  every day for an entire week.

Let's talk specifics. What did I do with all this food?

My Menu Plan

Breakfast: Hot Cereal and Fruit


Breakfast rarely changes for us. We rotate between oatmeal and cream of wheat, adding fresh fruit to the top every morning. May seem boring, but it's really healthy and, more importantly, it sticks with kids, so they are not shouting, "I'm hungry" just 45 minutes after they finish their bowl of cereal. 

7 Day Breakfast Cost: $7.50

Lunch: Soup, Salad, and Fruit


Creamy potato-broccoli soup! - Cost: $2.50 for 6 quarts!

Vegetable Soup - Cost: $2.50 for a HUGE pot!


Tuno Salad - cost for 10 sandwiches: $3.00

I've mentioned this staple vegan sandwich filling before. It's a chickpea salad spread, much like tuna salad (without the tuna). It's a family favorite and can often be found as an option to go along with your bowl of soup. 

Side Dishes!

(These were used for both lunch and supper.) 

Vegan Mustard-based Potato Salad - Cost: $1.50

Cole Slaw with Oil Free Lemon Ginger Dressing - Cost: 50¢!

Broccoli Black Bean Fiesta Salad  - Cost: $3.00

A variety of in-season fruit - bought weekly at the lowest prices in town!
Cost for 7 days of lunches - $4.00

Total cost of 7 days of lunch: $17.00

Supper: Main dish, more salad, raw veggies, and fruit 

Buffalo Broccoli "wings" in the air fryer - Cost: $2.00

This is one the 14 year old sous chef's favorite recipes. I just hand him the recipe and tell him to make a double batch. We serve it with extra hot sauce and add some sides for a complete supper plan. We use the batter from Fat Man Rants' recipe for buffalo cauliflower wings and simply sub broccoli for the cauliflower. We actually like the broccoli better than cauliflower. I had plenty of broccoli to make two huge pans of broccoli wings. 

Dairy Free Roasted Potato and Broccoli Lasagna - Cost: $5.00

This is one of my Cheap Eats recipes. The 14 year old sous chef and I created it especially for Mother's Day and featured it in my Feeding A Crowd for Pennies:  Father's Day brunch post.

 I will admit that contains more fat than most of my other recipes. This is because of the addition of vegan ricotta cheese. Nearly all of my recipes are based on real, whole food products. This is an exception, but the dairy free ricotta adds a lot of creaminess and it even melts a little like real cheese. I just want you to be aware that it has a lot more fat and oil than you want to eat on a regular basis. So, please DO give it a try and please DO share this recipe with your friends and loved ones who need to know that vegan, dairy-free meals can be amazingly flavorful and delicious. 

Scalloped Riced Broccoli Casserole  - $2.50

This casserole is an exclusive Under the Median Cheap Eats recipe. We use it as a main dish, adding a salad, homemade muffins, and fruit to make it a balanced meal.  The 14 year old sous chef and I created it specifically because we didn't want to waste the broccoli stems from that glorious haul of organic broccoli. It tastes amazing and is perfect for taking to a picnic or potluck! 

Total Cost of 7 Days of Supper: $13.25



Blanched broccoli florets for the freezer 

I had plenty of broccoli left over to blanch and put in the freezer for later use. For a step-by-step tutorial on blanching and freezing fresh vegetables, read:

"Putting Food By for Winter: Blanching". 

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: 

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Monday, June 17, 2019


Summer is the perfect time to save money on food or get your grocery budget in line if the winter months have taken a toll on your pocket book. One of the amazing things about fresh food is that you don't have to go to great lengths to add expensive ingredients or spend hours in the kitchen to create amazing, tasty, healthy dishes.

Fast food is good for you! 

Nope! I don't mean any establishment where you look at a brightly lit board and order a "full meal deal". My version of "fast food" that won't pack on the pounds, endanger your health, or cost you and arm and a leg.

This week, let's focus on real food that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less, with a maximum of 9 ingredients.

Ready? Let's go!

Crisp Sauteed Red Potatoes with Green Onions 

So easy and yet, so delicious! Red potatoes, sauteed with green onions in a pan until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Amazing! 

This next recipe utilized green onion, broccoli, and cauliflower - all from my CSA box! 

I made this for supper tonight and it got a rousing "two thumbs up" from everyone. I had the quinoa pre-made. But, even if you don't you can saute the veggies, while cooking the quinoa and still have this dish on the table in 30 minutes. 

Quinoa with Broccoli and Cauliflower

3 cut up green onions (including the tops)
2 cloves of garlic - minced
2 cups cut up fresh cauliflower 
2 cups cut up fresh broccoli
1 Tbsp salt free seasoning (your choice) 
2 tsp. onion powder 
1 tsp. garlic powder 
4 cups cooked quinoa
2 Tbsp lemon juice

I don't saute anything using oil. It's just extra calories. You can achieve the same effect by using water. Cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of water. Heat until very warm. Add onions and garlic. Cook until the onion and garlic are softened. Add broccoli, cauliflower, and seasoning. Cook on med/high heat until the broccoli turns bright green - about 5 minutes. Add cooked quinoa and pour the lemon juice over the top. Check to see if you need to adjust the seasonings. 

Lemony Sugar Snap Peas 

Truthfully, these are absolutely decadent just washed and eaten raw. But, if you are fortunate enough to have some left, then this recipe for lemony sugar snap peas is a sure winner! The 14 year old sous chef and I designed this recipe after I found 2 pound bags of sugar snap peas on clearance at Kroger. Since then, my family has asked for it again and again. It takes 9 ingredients and 20 minutes. Throw them over brown rice for a complete meal. Enjoy!

Quick Cabbage Soup 

Nine ingredients, easy, and delicious! The blog promises that this quick cabbage soup is exactly that -  hot and ready in just 15 minutes.

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Lime Dressing

The fresh tomatoes are just starting to ripen! Yay! I created this recipe for tomato cucumber salad as a tribute to the sweet and sour summer salads that my grandmother made for picnics. I gave it a twist with a fresh lime vinaigrette. Perfect for upcoming summer get togethers.

What are you making with this season's early summer produce? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Don't Forget to Request my FREE Produce E-book!

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Look for the photo of my Seasonal Produce Savings Guide on the right side of the blog. Just fill your e-mail in the "follow by e-mail" blank and hit "send". Within minutes, you'll find a special greeting and a link for the download in your in-box. 

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Friday, June 14, 2019


I recently wrote a popular post entitled, "Feeding a Crowd for Pennies: A Healthy Easter Bunch". In it, I set out to show you that entertaining does NOT need to break your budget. So, I decided to do it again!

Just in time for Father's Day!

I present you with a healthy brunch plan that will serve 10 for $30! That's right! We're going to make some amazing healthy food, that won't clog your arteries, but tastes amazing! Not only that, it's light on your wallet and will please all of your guests! 

First course:  Soup

 vegan split pea soup - Cost: $2.50

This is my husbands request and is his very favorite soup. It's incredibly flavorful, and yet, contains no meat. Split peas are incredibly cheap! I get the for under $1.00 a pound in 5 pound bags at GFS (Gordon Food Service). When you add liquid smoke, instead of ham, you not only make a healthier version of this soup, it's also less expensive than the traditional recipe.

Second course: Salad

coleslaw with oil free lemon ginger dressing  - Cost: $3.00

Third course:  Main dish


This is a brand new Under the Median Cheap Eats recipe. It's hearty enough to satisfy king-sized appetites and yet, contains no eggs, dairy, cholesterol, or gluten. This makes it the perfect substitution for those accustomed to eating large serving of meat at family get-togethers. 

The 14 year old sous chef and I actually created it for Mother's Day. It is incredibly creamy and flavorful. Comfort food at its best! It tastes amazing and generously fills a large pan. It's probably one of my very favorite Cheap Eats recipes! 

The cost is driven up a little higher than usual by the addition of the dairy free ricotta cheese. But, it's worth it! I'm not a big fan of processed foods of any kind, including the vegan versions. But, this vegan cheese is creamy and melts in the casserole. I loved it! 

    Oil Free Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins - Cost: $3.00

These can be made with gluten free flour for an allergy friendly option. I use a combination of:  1/3 Bob's Red Mill GF flour, 1/3 almond flour, and 1/3 coconut flour. This seems to consistently yield a soft, fluffy muffin. 

Additional side dishes included: 

  • A raw vegetable tray - $4.00 
  • Mixed steamed vegetables - $2.00

Fourth course: Dessert

Fresh strawberries topped with non dairy yogurt - Cost: $6.00
Strawberries are on sale. The cost of the yogurt is what drives up the cost of dessert. But, topping the berries with yogurt makes them perfect for a special occasion!

Total cost: $30.00! 

Your turn! What's on your Father's Day menu? Leave a note in the comments section.

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I created this recipe after I had simultaneously scored a huge bulk load of organic broccoli and organic red potatoes. I was brainstorming ways to combine the potatoes and broccoli into one amazing, tasty dish. I roasted a whole tray of red potatoes for supper and we had several potatoes left over. That's when it occurred to me that it would make an amazing lasagna, substituting potatoes for the noodles, making it gluten free!

My potato broccoli lasagna features layers of sliced, roasted potatoes and broccoli, sandwiched between tomato sauce, and topped with vegan ricotta cheese. Truthfully, it makes a delightfully, creamy, satisfying dish - and it tastes amazing!

(My blog posts contain affiliate links. When you make a purchase though my link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!) 

Potato Broccoli Lasagna: 

  • is incredibly creamy
  • is tasty
  • is full of vibrant flavors
  • is very filling
  • is a unique variation of a classic potato casserole
  • makes enough to serve 10 guests! 

This recipe contains NO: 

  • Egg
  • Added salt, sugar, or oil 
  • Dairy
  • Cholesterol
  • Gluten

I originally made this for Mother's Day. But, because it's a very hearty, filling dish, it's perfect for celebrating Father's Day, too!

NOTE: You can assemble it a day ahead, stick it in the fridge, and then when you walk in the door stick it in a 375 degree oven. It cooks in one hour while you are getting the rest of the side dishes ready to eat.


4 cups of riced broccoli (See NOTE below) 
1 - 16 oz. container of Tofutti milk-free ricotta cheese. 
1 Tbsp. salt-free Italian spice blend
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 pounds of roasted red potatoes (See NOTE below)
2-16 oz. cans of tomato sauce 
2 Tbsp. dried chives for garnish


*NOTE: I use leftover roasted potatoes for this recipe. However, if you haven't already roasted the potatoes, do so now. Wash, place them on parchment paper, and roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.  

* NOTE: If you don't have a vegetable ricer, you can just chop your broccoli into small pieces or put it in a food processor and pulse to a "riced" consistency. 

Add spices to the riced broccoli and mix until the spices are evenly distributed through the broccoli pieces.

Slice all the potatoes into rounds of even thickness. 

Pour 1 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of a standard 9 X 11 inch pan. Follow this with a layer of 1/2 of the potato rounds.

Top the potatoes with one half of the broccoli mixture. Then, top this with another cup of the tomato sauce. Add, 1 Tbsp. dollops of the ricotta cheese - about 3 inches apart. The ricotta cheese should be evenly spaced throughout the pan. 

Continue, by adding a final layer of the other half of the potatoes and broccoli. Finally, add the remainder of the tomato sauce, more dollops of the ricotta, and a sprinkling of dried chives. 

Cover with foil and place the casserole in a 375 degree oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove foil and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or until the ricotta is melted and lightly browned on top. 

A Healthy, Filling, Delicious Meal!

I served it with homemade applesauce muffins, pumpkin hummus with red lentil flatbread, and mixed vegetables. 

My vintage blue and white porcelain pan: 

My blue and white baking dish is vintage. But, here's a new version of the same pan offered by Amazon for just $20 and free shipping. 

If you make this recipe, I'd love to know what you thought!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: 

Ginger Lemon Quinoa Salad

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