Tag Archives: cheap

All This… and Rye Bread, Too.

ttownHoly Smokes! Wow!

I found myself in a mood yesterday and i accidentally cured it with a shopping spree!!

Confession time, this is what i bought:

✿  Two books for me (my fave genre: tween fiction)!
✿  Two books for friends.  I haven’t even decided who to give them to (they’re old faves that just had to be boughten).
✿  Three golden picture frames (well, gold-colored anyway) for an art project i’ve decided to attempt.
✿  A new dress!  It’s just a super cute plaid number that goes great with the tights i got for my b-day.
✿  A sweater for my sister.  It looked like something she’d like.

I know what you’re thinking… good gracious, get a grip lady!  Also, what’s the damage?

Drumroll, Ya’ll!… $13.74!

No, seriously!  The dress was $1.50.

That’s right.  Just the longest intro/brag-fest ever to tell you about a magical land called Thrift Town!

Now, this in not a blanket endorsement of all thrift stores… Unfortunately, for those of you who don’t live in NorCal/some parts of Texas I’m talking strictly Thrift Town.

Thrift Town is a Town of Thrift that is above and beyond your typical goodwill/salvation army set-up for two big ol’ reasons: Organization and Pricing.

“…let me break it down for you, again. You know I only say it cause i’m truly genuine…” -lauryn hill

Organization:  World-class organization = less work digging around for me.  At thrift town clothes are organized by gender, then style (long sleeve blouse, pant suits, etc.), then by size! (this is great.  none of that, “oooh! cute!… ugh! size 2!” just “cute! my size!”), and at the sf location (and here’s the kicker) by color!  Seriously, organized!

Pricing:  Real value, folks!  The prices are crazy low.  And i don’t mean compared to shopping at Bergdorf’s, I mean compared to other so called “thrift” situations.  At the Goodwill near my parent’s house they recently set up this across-the-board pricing scheme, where all of one type of clothes are one price: dresses are $7.99 (not a deal).  At Thrift Town, dresses start at around $2.99 and the one I bought had a blue tag so it was 50% off!  (Goodwill has stopped doing that colored-tag extra-savings thing…lame).  I could go on all day… the books were 69¢ and 99¢.  The sweater i bought for Ani cost 69¢ (don’t worry, i already told her…).

Now, I didn’t take any photos at T-Town, but check out someone elses’s haul i found on flickr!  Not bad!

ttownhaul

thanks for the photos tgifreytag and Steven_Morris!

psst! hey you! Thrift town has several locations, but they aren’t everywhere.  Know any good thrift shops in your neck of the woods? Comment!

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Spice up your life!

oh, hi there.

i have something very important to tell you:  you might be spending way too much for spices and herbs!

i feel like i have this very special knowledge that i have to get out into the world.  There is an aisle in your grocery store where the herbs and spices are super inexpensive.  And that aisle looks a lot like this:

spice

it’s usually tucked in near the hispanic food section.  (or if you’re at Lucky’s in Oakland, it’s in the farthest back corner flanked by some fake plants and the employee entrance to the seafood section).  what i’m getting at, is that these spices are probably hiding from you.

but they’re well worth the search because every last one of them is under a buck.

let’s do some comparison shopping.  cumin: one of my most favorite spices (mmm, guacamole).  Safeway.com reports that the cheapest plastic bottle of the stuff is $3.49!  Now, we look around for the bagged spices and…

cumin

79¢!  can you believe it?

Now, they don’t have every flavor of spice, and if you’re tricking out your fancy fancy spice rack for the first time, by all means buy some nice bottles.  Just don’t forget the bagged spices when your supplies are running low.  69¢ to refill the oregano?!  yes, please!

secret bonus: here is another really powerful spice that’s well worth dropping 75¢ (it’s secret, because it is only available to folks who can read italics).

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Filed under Big Deal, generally great

Keepin’ it Classy: Recesh worthy home decór.

Just because money is scarce, it doesn’t mean Jack B. Nimble should have to give up his death-defying  hobby.

Likewise, your lovely home doesn’t have to go to shambles.  Luckily, for just about three bucks you can class up your abode and give Jack something to jump about.  It’s time for a new set of DIY candlesticks!

Don’t worry, you won’t need any crystal cutting skills or silversmithing experience.  Just foam board and a sharp x-acto knife (also, paper, scissors, and a pencil are handy).

Got ’em? Great. Let’s go!

Step one: Make a candlestick pattern. Fold a piece of paper in half, draw half a candlestick (along the seem) and cut it out for a perfectly symmetrical candlestick pattern. (not feeling designy? no prob. here, use my pattern: candlestick pdf).

Step two: Trace that shape onto a piece of foam board four times. (We’re making a set of two candlesticks here, and you need two halves to make each whole).

Step three: Cut it out!  Well, cut them out… the four candlestick shapes. Here’s where having a sharp x-acto knife come in handy.

Step four: Cut a 1/4 inch slit out of the top half of two of your candlestick pieces and the bottom half of the other two. Like so: 

Step five: Assemble away! Just slip together piece one and piece two. Voilá. Lovely!

Now just put in some beautiful candles (i got mine at a dollar store, where they were two for a dollar).

In just a matter of minutes you can have your very own fancy-pants candlesticks!  Also, these candlesticks make wonderful gifts.  You can even disassemble them and send them through the mail to a far away friend!

p.s.  If you try this out, email me photos, or post a link to your photos in the comments.  I’d love to see them!

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Filed under DIY, spread the love

An Ode to Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I would like to take a minute to sing the praises of the Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  The perfect recesh lunch.  It’s crazy delicious AND so inexpensive!  Let me break it down for you:

•Two slices of bread 20¢ (and that’s the good kind, you can usually find decent bread for $2 a loaf)
•2 oz. of cheddar cheeze 56¢ (or less, for two generic brand american singles, fancy!*)
•margarine 4¢ (8¢ for butter, if you’re classy like that)

your basic GCS is just 80¢!

extras: an egg 21¢, a slice of turkey 40¢, half an onion (carmelized first, of course) 34¢, a slice of bacon 22¢, half a tomato and some mustard 50¢.

for just over a buck you can have a fabulous lunch!

allow me to inspire you with two tales about my best grilled cheese sandwich experiences in recent history.

the face of jealousy

A couple of weeks ago, I was house/cat-sitting for my brother.  (There’s a perfect recesh survival scheme if I ever heard one: house/cat-sitting = free food from my bro’s fridge, and my bro’s fridge = fancy food).  So I had access to some nice wheat bread, muenster cheese slices, sliced turkey with herbs already on it, and actual butter.  The cheese melted to stringy perfection and the slightly heated herby turkey was just mmmm.  It was so delish, Bix, the cat looked super jealous!

And now, the tale of the sandwich in that mouth-watering photo up-top there.  That, my friends, is the main course from one of the most delightful meals of my life.  I was in Seattle with my dear friends Raul and Keighty.  We were looking for cheap food near pikes market (it’s tourist-ville.  $10 crumpets? no thanks), when Raul spotted “Restautrant”.  (the place had an actual name on their menus, but we chose to call it by the name on the sign outside).  Keighty and I had identical meals: a cheese and egg sandwich grilled to gooey perfection, and a rootbeer float that came as a glass full of ice cream and a can of rootbeer, yum.  It was a delightful meal and our bills each came in at under five dollars!

Well, now you’ve heard what i have to say about the gloriousness of the perfect GCS.  You absolutely MUST czech this out:

10 of the most magnificent GCSs ever!
(complete with inspirational photos and recipes)

* i know that cheese singles are fancy, because as a child we only got to have them at grandma’s house, and they come individually wrapped!  that is fance!

p.s. what are your fave GCS recipes? comment, please. i’m always up for trying a new form of melted cheese on toasty bread.

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Filed under $5 meals, Big Deal

Five Dollar Fiesta!

I went to Lucky’s determined to pick-up a $5 meal for three (ani, brian and me again). Lucky for me, the produce was all crazy on sale. So i decided to make Taco Salad!  It’s easy to make and delish!

How did i make a top-notch salad for just 5 bucks?  Some stellar deals and one secret ingrede*!  Let me break it down for you:
Lettuce (great sale)!                 .79
2 smallish Tomatoes                .32
green onions                              .39
1 can chili beans*                      .99
1 cheddar cheese snack stick  .59
1 li’l bag of fritos                        .99
the smallest sour cream          .99
taco bell hot sauce packets      FREE

grand total 5.06!

oh! i know, six cents over budget.  but you can probably find that between the couch cushions, or you could charge each of your dinner guests 3¢, or you could tap dance outside of the grocery store and put out your hat ’till you collect six cents.

okay, so now that you have your beautiful ingredes, assemble away!  It’s only a matter of chop, chop, chopping up the lettuce (not the whole thing.  We used just over half, that means more salad soon!), tomatoes, green onions, and cheese stick (ani found it way too small to grate.  her chopping skillz were stellar).  If you happen to have a real chunk of cheese around you can just grate some of it up.  Now, my fave ingrede THE CHILI BEANS, just drain the can into a colander. You can give them a little rinse if you want.  They will still retain their chili-y flavor and give you some protein.  Finally, throw that salad together, top with some fritos! don’t forget the sour cream (i love that stuff) and bust out those taco bell hot sauce packets that have been sitting in your fridge forever.  (seriously, if you’ve ever been to taco bell you know, they give you about seventeen packets of hot sauce for each taco you order.  If you’ve never been to taco bell, I’m so sorry).

Just look at this yumtastic salad!  Keep in mind this is just an idea that can be modified in about infinity ways.  Green onions not on sale this week? no problem.  You could dig up the extra carrots you have left over from MnCnT night and grate some of those into the salad.  Anytime’s a great time to clean out the produce drawer into a bowl and smother it in sour cream, fritos, and chili beans!

Even ani was a little less bothered by the fact that, yet again, I have my camera pointing in her direction, because this time it means she gets to be having taco salad!

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Pop Corn Fun!

I am going to share one of my absolute favorite discoveries of the past year. Popping popcorn on the stove! Last summer i found myself sharing an apartment with a roommate who was firmly anti-microwave, which is how i discovered that corn popped on the stove is not only so much more tasty than the soggy microwave bagged kind, it is considerably cheaper! Cheap and Delish! Sounds like the perfect recesh treat.

Now, my variety of stove popped corn is the sweet kind (some call it kettle corn). It is soo good! How good? Let’s just say i’ve been known to make myself a pot-full and eat the entire batch for lunch! (warning: that is not actually healthy).

ingredes The ingredes:
1/3 cup yellow popcorn
1/3 cup sugar (regular type)
2 Tbsp. veg or canola oil
< 1 tsp. salt

a note about these amounts: this recipe is the perfect amount for the size pot that i use (you can see it in those pictures there). I used to use 1/2 cup popcorn and 1/2 cup sugar and slightly more oil and salt, because i had a bigger pot. What i’m saying is, the amounts are pretty flexible, just remember 1:1 popcorn to sugar (some recipes use less sugar, but they are crazy).

Also, i find it helpful the measure out the ingredes ahead of time.

oilStep 1: Put 2 Tbsp. of oil and three “test kernels” of popcorn in the bottom of a medium sized pot. The oil should just coat the bottom of the pot and not cover the kernels (that would be way too much…).  Now, put the lid on and turn on the heat.  I set my current stove to 6 (out of 10), you don’t want it too hot, but you also don’t want to sit around all night waiting for the corn to pop… So I guess, i will declare, set your stove to medium high.

all inStep 2: As soon as a test kernel pops, add in the rest of the popcorn and all the sugar.  I pour the popcorn in first, then sprinkle the sugar in evenly over the kernels.  Return the lid onto the pot.  The kernels will not start popping immediately, because the popcorn and sugar have cooled down the oil a little…



shake

Step 3: Shake, shake, shake.  Initially shake the pot about every 10 seconds.  Once the popcorn starts popping big time, shake it every 3 seconds.  Just keep shaking away and the popcorn will do its thing.  Keep this up, until you go 3 seconds with no new pops.





Step 4: Pull the pot off the stove and sprinkle in the 1/2 teaspoon of salt (you can always add more later, if its not salty enough, but it’s a big bummer if your popcorn is over salted).  Then put the lid back on and give it some more good shakes.

done
Step 5: Dump your popcorn into a bowl, and walk away.  This is the hardest but most important step.  When you transfer the popcorn to the bowl it is still very sticky and hot.  When you come back in five minutes it is much cooler and crispy!  Just give it a little stir and the individual pieces will break apart.  Now all that’s left to do is eat up!


Going to the movies is so terribly spendy ($10 ticket + crazy pricey snacks!) yuk. This popcorn is so yummy, you might just grow to prefer borrowing a DVD from a neighbor (it’s free-er than renting!) and making yourself this irresistible popcorn.

Today, I bought a heaping cup of popcorn kernels (from a bin at a produce store) and it cost me 88¢! That’s just 29¢ a batch.  A 5 lb. bag of sugar gives you about 11.25 cups for about $2.50, so for our batch of popcorn we use just 7¢ of sugar!  Add in the pennies worth of salt and oil and you have a totally super treat for about 40¢.  That is crazy.  If you have two friends over and make two batches, all three of you can eat yourselves sick for less than a dollar!  mmm.

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Filed under $5 meals, Big Deal, generally great, Party Tip

Party!

Being in a recesh can get you down, because let’s be honest the, the entertainment budget is usually the first thing to get slashed.  But that doesn’t mean you have to sit at home all day.  Sitting at home is free, i’ll give you that, but it’s not all that fun. 

So, you can try to get yourself invited to other people’s parties, that is free… but can you throw a party at your place for little to no money?  Of course you can.  And you can have a very fun party.  Possibly the most fun party of all time.

The bulk of a party’s budget goes to buying food for your guests.  So, why not trick your guests into bringing the food.  While you’re at it, why not trick them into cooking the food for themselves so you don’t have too.  How is that even possible?

It’s a Cook-off Party! and this is how it works.  Just ask each of your guests to bring one ingredient for the meal.  (See, you just saved yourself a bundle and you only asked each of your guest to spend a few bucks).  If you want to make sure you end up with a cohesive meal, you can assign ingredients.  (for example, mexican is a really simple theme to organize.  Keighty brings tomatoes, Jerry brings onions, Liz brings cheese, Raul brings sour cream, Richie (your friend with the big bucks, who still has his job) can bring some chicken, Ani brings tortillas, etc. until all necessary ingredes are accounted for.  The more folks that come the better variety of foods you get to have).  If you want a more challenging cook-off let your guests bring whatever ingredient they want!

When your guests arrive with the bounty, throw all the food onto the kitchen table.  Then divide your buddies into two teams. You can draw names from a hat, divide up girls vs. boys, or have two team captains choose sides old school style.  Then, and here’s the exciting part, divide up the ingredients.  One member of each team takes turns rolling a dice.  If they roll an even number they pick an ingrede off the table.  If they roll an odd number they get to steal an ingredient from the other team.  (Once a specific item has been stolen three times it is frozen, and cannot be stolen again).  Once all the ingredes are doled out.  The cooking begins!

forks2Set a time limit, you have to eat some time.  An hour is probably enough time.  Depending on the rowdiness of your guests, other rules can be set.  E.g. No knife-fights in the kitchen.  Each team has to come up with a couple of dishes, and over dinner, you can all argue about who cooked the better food!

BONUS:  Now that you have tricked your friends into buying the food and cooking it themselves, let’s take this to a whole new level.  The losing team has to wash the dishes!!!

And that is how you throw a party without spending loads of cash.  All you have to do is clean the kitchen before your guests arrive.  If you’re as good of a cook as you say you are… you won’t even have to do dishes!

✩yummy veg photo by eseering.  Thanks.

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