Join a CSA for Your Health and Your Wealth

Being a savvy consumer means a lot of things. It can refer to a person who knows how to get the lowest price on whatever he or she is buying. It can also mean finding the best value—the highest quality product for the most reasonable price. Or, it can refer to someone who shops ethically, according to his or her values.

fresh farm grown produce

However you define “savvy consumer,” becoming one requires research and education about the products that you buy, in keeping with your individual priorities. When it comes to shopping for food, today’s savvy consumers know where their food comes from, and, if they do things right, they save money, too.

The locally grown food movement has been gaining momentum. At the same time, the high cost of food is challenging all of us to find new ways to cut costs without sacrificing healthy eating.

Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) are popping up all over the country. Through a CSA, consumers can choose to buy shares in a local farm and then receive portions of the farm’s produce once it is harvested. In some areas, CSAs have become so popular, there are waiting lists to join.

Go local

Food that has not been genetically altered, harvested prematurely or infused with chemicals to be able to withstand a 1,000 mile or longer journey from the farm to your table tastes better. Members of CSAs tend to eat seasonally. And they eat very fresh produce, which has been proven to be much more nutritious. Read more

Supermarket rotisserie chicken on serving plate

Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue

If you’re fresh out of ideas (let alone desire) to make one more home-cooked meal, but even the thought of another take-out or curbside pickup leaves you cold during these days of uncertainty and angst—I invite you to embrace these two words: rotisserie chickens.

Supermarket rotisserie chicken on serving plate

Not exactly take-out, not completely home-cooked, think of a well-seasoned, perfectly cooked rotisserie chicken as your ace in the hole; a kitchen assistant with an extra pair of hands to help you get delicious, home-cooked meals on the table in a flash.

These days, nearly every grocery store or supermarket—even warehouse clubs—offer fully roasted, hot, and ready-to-go rotisserie chickens for around $5. In fact, rotisserie chickens are so readily available, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued safety guidelines for selecting and storing* them.

Today, I want to give you basic guidelines for what to do with a rotisserie chicken as soon as you get home. 

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alarm clock coins and piggy bank on white background.

A New Chapter of Money-Saving Tips, Hacks, and Ideas

From its birth in 1992, the mission of Everyday Cheapskate has been to provide practical information to help people save time and money in order to get out of debt and save for the future.

alarm clock coins and piggy bank on white background.

A Brief History

January 1992 saw the premiere issue of Cheapskate Monthly, a thrift newsletter I created, which was delivered via U.S. Mail for a subscription rate of $12 annually. Subscriptions exploded as the country was beginning to recover from a severe recession and people were still unemployed and worried.

The newsletter quickly grew in popularity offering hope, help, practical information for how to stretch a buck, and a lot of fun, too. By the end of that first year, it had been mentioned and reviewed in every major U.S. newspaper in the country, and promoted on lots of radio and television shows, too.

In 1997, we tip-toed onto the Internet with a subscription “bulletin board.” Within no time thousands of people were trying to post their messages all at the same time (argh!)—a clear indication that CM was ready for its own website—dial-up modems, and all—making the newsletter available both online and in print.

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These Puppies Detect Water Leaks (and More Great Reader Tips!)

My dear readers come up with the greatest tips, tricks, and ideas for how to save time and money every day. Today is no exception. From water leaks to puppy poop—all the way to phone chargers, tomato paste, and better space saver bags— fasten your seatbelts because we’re about to cover a lot of frugal ground.

Cute puppy device sitting behind a toilet and next to water heater to detect water leaks

Cutest little leak detector

After dealing with a toilet leaking and causing $500 in damage because it went unnoticed for too long, my plumber told me about this ingenious little device called the Leak Puppy, which detects the smallest amount of standing water (as little as 1/32″)and alerts you to it with loud beeping sound, much like a smoke alarm. I purchased one for each of my bathrooms, under sinks, and next to the water heater. I’m finding that my peace of mind is well worth the initial cost! Mack

Tomato paste waste

Many times a recipe will call for a small amount of tomato paste. Often, this means that if you’re like me, what remains in the can is stored in the refrigerator for future use. It also means that months later I find it and toss it in the trash because it has now gone bad. But no more! Now, I take the remaining tomato paste and spread it out in a thin layer in a zip sandwich bag I store flat on a freezer shelf until it’s frozen. The next time I need tomato paste, I simply break off what I need, zip up the bag, and replace it in the freezer. Works great; no more waste! Karen Read more

lettuce wedge salad blue cheese dressing with tomato garnish

Cheapskate Gourmet: Salad Dressings

If you think eating well means eating out—home delivery, pick-up, or dining-in—you may be feeling the effects of restaurant dining in your wallet as the cost of restaurant meals is now soaring in ways we’ve not seen before.

Yesterday, I was shocked to read the new (disposable) menu at a small local hamburger joint in our town. The same classic hamburger that was $7.95 pre-virus, is now $11.95. Will prices decline as this thing settles down? I wouldn’t bet on it.

It’s time for us to change our thinking and start digging in to find every realistic way imaginable that we can save time and money every day.

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If I can make the leap from being a diner-in-debt to making irresistible meals at home that often taste even better than those from a restaurant—at a fraction of the cost of eating out—you can, too.

For many years ( before there was a Food Channel), I was uniquely privileged to sit under the personal tutelage of world-famous gourmet cooks the likes of Julia Child, Christopher Kimball, Martha Stewart, Martin Yan, and Jacques Pepin.

Every weekend I had standing appointments with one or more of them. They came right into my home and demonstrated unique techniques while I assumed a prone position, curled up in my favorite blanket, first-row-center in front of the television. They sparked confidence in me. From that start, my love for making great meals economically has grown.

Today, I want to share my basic recipes for what I consider to be gourmet salad dressings. So fresh and easy. Tasty, too.

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collage of three different orange chicken entrees

Orange Chicken, Three Ways—Kitchen Friendly and Easy on the Wallet

For years, I’d been searching for the perfect recipe for one of my family’s favorite dishes, Orange Chicken. And then wouldn’t you know it, within a very short period of time, I found not one, but three recipes that are quite different from one another, but all of them simply too yummy for words! All of them kitchen friendly and easy on the wallet.

collage of three different orange chicken entrees

The first of these recipes is for an elegant country French entree prepared in the oven. If you need to impress, this one’s for you! Just don’t blow your cover by telling your guests just how easy it is.

The second and third recipes both have an Asian bent—one prepared in a slow cooker, the other on the stove top or grill.  Read more

Old dirty oven baking tray

How to Clean Cookie Sheet Pans So They Look New!

They come in sizes big and small, rimmed or without sides. We use them to bake just about anything, but mostly cookies. And they can get super grungy with layers of baked- and burnt-on grease resulting in ugly stains and residue build-up.

Does anything here look familiar to you? If so, I have good news. Your cookie sheets can be cleaned and restored, even back to the way they looked when new.

What follows is a relatively quick and easy way to get rid of baked-on grease, stubborn food residue, and even rust on any type of cookie and baking sheets—aluminized steel, aluminum, and non-stick—and then to clean and maintain to keep them sparkling clean.

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I’d Rather Have the Money, Bob

Did you see us? My husband and I were on TV with Bob Barker. Before you run to check your DVR or YouTube, I’d better tell you this was a while ago. Try 1971.

Truth_Consequences_Barker

We were plucked from the live audience of that old favorite, Truth or Consequences along with two other couples. Ours was a kind of “newlywed game” stunt. They put the guys in a sound-proof booth and we ladies had to predict how our husbands would answer questions.

Of course, the hubs and I won. And a mighty fine prize it was: $50 in prize money and a blender!  Read more

17 Favorite Things I Use (Almost) Daily

I wonder how well I’d do as a contestant on the hit TV show, Survivor. Have you seen the rules for what contestants are allowed to bring? Basically, it’s the clothes on your back, sunscreen, and one luxury item.

For example, a toothbrush is considered an acceptable luxury item; a hairdryer is not. Paper and pen—yes; Macbook Pro—no.

While I’m certain I could survive in my life with far fewer things than I do (I have in the past, trust me on that), there are things that I depend on heavily and use nearly every day—17 to be exact. These are things I love because they bring efficiency, joy, and beauty to my life.

I’d need to be granted some kind of immunity to allow me 17 rather than one luxury item on Survivor Island. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Read more

Fabulous Slow Cooker Summer…Salads! Plus My Salsa Recipe

I have to admit it. Just the idea of a slow-cooked salad makes me queazy. Thankfully, that’s not exactly it.

It’s a little-known secret that your slow cooker has a hidden talent for making incredible salads. Let it slow-cook the main ingredients for a creative salad while you’re away. Then toss in a few fresh additions just before it’s time to serve. I know! What a great idea.

Orange Chicken Spinach Salad with Feta

Orange Chicken Spinach Salad with Feta

To make this you’ll need:

  • chicken breast
  • bone-in split chicken breasts
  • garlic
  • thyme, salt
  • orange juice
  • balsamic vinegar
  • baby spinach
  • cherry tomatoes
  • Kalamata olives
  • feta cheese
  • bottled vinaigrette salad dressing

Orange Chicken Spinach Salad with Feta

The tender, yummy, orange chicken is prepared in your slow cooker then assembled into an awesome summer salad (or any time of year!).
4.2 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Slow cooker: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 459kcal
Author: Mary
Cost: $8

Equipment

  • Slow cooker

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds bone-in split chicken breasts
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 10 ounces baby spinach, more or less
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • ¼ cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 3 tablespoons cumbled Feta cheese, more or less
  • ½ cup bottled vinaigrette salad dressing
  • 1 10.5 ounces mandarin orange segments, drained

Instructions

  • Remove and discard skin from chicken and sprinkle with garlic, thyme, and salt. Place chicken in 3.5- or 4-quart slow cooker. Add juice and vinegar. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or on high for 3 to 3.5 hours.
  • Remove chicken from cooker; cover and keep warm. Discard cooking juices.
  • In a large salad bowl toss together the greens, tomatoes, olives, orange segments, and Feta cheese. Slice chicken from bones; discard bones Arrange sliced chicken on salad. Drizzle with dressing. Servings: 6.

Nutrition

Calories: 459kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 123mg | Sodium: 341mg | Potassium: 723mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 4725IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

Green Beans and Petite Reds with Albacore

To make this you’ll need:

  • fresh green beans
  • small red skin potaotes
  • onion
  • mayonnaise
  • sour cream
  • milk
  • Dijon-style mustard
  • lemon juice
  • tarragon
  • salt, pepper

Green Beans and Petite Reds with Albacore

This unusual "salad" is bursting with flavor and nutrition. Makes the perfect entree or side dish at the end of a hot summer day!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Slow cooking: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 176kcal
Author: Mary
Cost: $5

Equipment

  • Slow cooker

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed t
  • 1 lb. tiny new red skn potatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ tspn salt
  • ¼ tspn pepper
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 to 2 tblspn milk
  • 1 tblspn Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tblspn lemon juice
  • ½ tspn dried tarragon, crushed
  • ¼ tspn salt
  • 2 5 oz. cans solid white albacore, drained and flaked or any tuna
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach

Instructions

  • Lightly coat 3.5- or 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. 
  • Combine the beans, potatoes, onion, water, salt and pepper in cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours.
  • Meanwhile, for sauce, in a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, milk mustard lemon juice tarragon and salt. Cover and chill until needed.
  • To assemble, using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetable mixture to a large bowl. Pour sauce over vegetables. Add albacore and spinach. Toss gently to mix. Sprinkle with additional black pepper and serve immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 176kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 157mg | Potassium: 612mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1519IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

Quinoa Salad with Beets, Oranges and Fennel

To make this salad you’ll need:

  • fresh beets
  • olive oil
  • orange
  • honey
  • quinoa
  • canned mandarin oranges
  • fennel
  • green onion (optional)
  • salad greens (optional)

Quinoa Salad with Beets, Oranges, and Fennel

This superfood salad is far from a boring bowl of leafy greens. Tender slow-cooked beets and quinoa served up with oranges and fennel are great any time of year, but especially nice on a hot summer day.
4.34 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American, Mediterranean
Prep Time: 20 minutes
slow cooking: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 202kcal
Author: Mary
Cost: $7

Equipment

  • Slow cooker

Ingredients

  • lb. medium-size fresh beets
  • 3 tblspn olive oil
  • 1 orange
  • 1 tblspn honey
  • ¼ tspn salt
  • tspn black pepper
  • cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 15 oz can mandarin orange sections, rinsed and drained
  • 1 fresh fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 3 green onion, sliced optional
  • salad greens optional

Instructions

  • Place each beet on a piece of foil. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over all of the beets. Wrap each beet tightly in the foil and place in a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or until beets are fork-tender.
  • Remove beets from the slow cooker. When cool enough to handle, peel or slip the skin off each beet. Cut beets into thin wedges and place in a medium bowl.
  • For the dressing, remove 1 teaspoon zest and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice from the orange. Whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the orange zest, orange juice, honey salt, and pepper. Remove 1 tablespoon of the dressing and drizzle over beets; toss gently to coat.
  • In a bowl combine mandarin oranges and fennel, and drizzle with another 1 tablespoon of the dressing. Add quinoa to the remaining dressing; toss to coat.
  • To serve, top quinoa mixture with beets and mandarin orange-fennel mixture. If desired, sprinkle with green onions and (optional) serve on a bed of salad greens of your choice. Servings: 6.

Nutrition

Calories: 202kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 129mg | Potassium: 666mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 199IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

And now in follow-up to an earlier post, Compulsive Chopper. Many of you request my recipe for salsa that you see in the photos, made using my lovely Chop Wizard. Here you go …

Pico de gallo fresh made from the garden

Pico de Gallo

To make this you’ll need:

  • Roma tomatoes
  • red onion
  • garlic
  • cilantro
  • lime juice
  • fresh jalapeno
  • garlic powder (optional)
  • cumin powder (optional)
  • salt & pepper

Pico de Gallo

And now in follow-up to an earlier post, Compulsive Chopper. Many of you requested my recipe for salsa that you see in the photos, made using my lovely Chop Wizard. Here you go …
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 54kcal
Author: Mary
Cost: $5

Ingredients

  • 12 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 green bell pepper (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime, only the juice and zest
  • 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded, chopped to taste
  • 1 pinch garlic powder optional
  • 1 pinch ground cumin optional
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Put all of the ingredients in a bowl. Stir. 
  • Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  • Serve. Repeat often. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 108mg | Potassium: 498mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1587IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

First published: 7-15-16; Revised & Updated with Recipe Cars 5-27-20

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