Bi-Lo's 5 for $20 meat sale was the basis for our homemade Southern fave - shrimp stew without the grits.
Thanks to another food coupon victory, this very Southern dinner was easy to prepare. 

1 1/2 smoked sausage links, sliced
2-3 cups veggies - we used celery, onions, yellow squash, zucchini and red pepper
2 tbsp garlic powder or 3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp poultry seasoning
black pepper to taste
2 cans beef gravy
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 - 1 bag shrimp

Heat pan to medium.  Add smoke sausage and cook until browned.  Stir in veggies and seasonings and cook for 5 - 8 minutes or until softened.  Mix the tomato paste with the sausage mix and then add the gravy.  Let cook for another 10-15 minutes and then stir in cooked shrimp.  Cook until heated through.  We served the stew with B1G1 field peas and snaps (surprisingly good out of the can) and fresh green beans cooked Italian style (briefly steamed, then sauteed in olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper to taste).

G, What About the Grits?
Living dangerously between two cultures, I'm used to having my grits for breakfast either with eggs and sausage or like a hot cereal - topped with milk and sprinkled with sugar (the latter is considered blasphemy in the South).  So if you want to make your own grits, be ready to cook them for about 30 minutes, no matter what the instant grits package says.  If the grits are chewy, they are undercooked. Good grits are should be cared for like a creamy risotto  Add water, milk or cream whenever the liquid evaporates. Season them with about 1-2 tbsp of sugar, salt and pepper just before serving.
Shrimp (minus) grits, brown rice, field peas and Italian green beans make a very healthy meal.
Motivated by the $.63 red bell peppers I got from Bi-Lo a couple weeks ago, I made a quick batch of stuffed peppers.  Wanting to satisfy my husband's love for red rice, I merged the two ideas.
Coupon filled Sunday papers cost $2 in my city.  When I started couponing I found out that our local paper ran a promotion allowing people to subscribe to the Sunday paper only and get a second paper for $1.50.  I missed the boat on that one and thought I'd be forever doomed to spend gas money buying $4 worth of newspapers every Sunday.

On my trip to Bi-Lo today, a gentleman named Rico was selling weekend subscriptions (Friday, Saturday, Sunday and a free Monday paper during football season) for $13.80 a month. When I signed up I also got a $10 Bi-Lo gift card and a couple extra coupon inserts for my trouble.  People that sign up for a week's worth of news home delivered $16.25 will get a $20 gift card.  This deal is for people not currently subscribing to the Post and Courier magazine.  It's a month to month subscription that automatically renews.  If you cancel your subscription before six months has passed you'll be on the hook for the cost of the gift card.  Rico's going to be at Sam Rittenberg store til 6 pm today. I'm starting a basic coupon class at church in a couple weeks and wanted to pass on the information.  If you can't come to the store, you can contact him by phone at 1-859-368-3773.

Can't wait to have my Sunday paper waiting for me in the morning!  Also, my daughter.

This new subscription also means that we'll get Business Review, Health and Science, Fashion and High Profile features in addition to the laundry list of features in the Sunday paper. My daughter's gonna love getting fashion trend information that she can turn into cute outfits she makes herself.   We'll also have more newspaper that can be used as mulch in our garden or even to clean the windows.
My old SC EBT card
My old SC EBT (SNAP) Card
Back in the days of cooking school, I received Food Stamp benefits.  Through my food bank education I learned that benefits normally only last 2 1/2 weeks - that was before gas and grocery prices started to skyrocket a few years back.  I still thought I was doing something because I could fill a cart with unprocessed and lightly processed foods and barely used $100 of my South Carolina EBT benefits.  That was at Wal-mart though.  Now that I understand how to use food coupons, my previous Walmart experience is a little embarrassing.  Kinda like trying to take a high school math test with an abacus (kids, just click on another tab and look up abacus in Wikipedia) instead of a calculator.
Lots of people getting food stamps benefits have a rough two weeks waiting for the next monthly deposit to reach their accounts.  That's when the phones would ring off the hook at the food bank from people looking for emergency food assistance.  A number of those calls came from seniors or other single adults (with no dependents) who were only receiving $10 - $15 a month in food stamps anyway.  With that in mind and with the number of people getting food stamps (or SNAP benefits) at a record high, I decided test the coupon system and see how much food I could get for $15. The whole premise behind smart food coupon shopping is using your coupons only for items that are already on sale.  And if you shop only the B1G1 sales with no coupons you're still saving 50%.  These types of sales are not available at Walmart so grocery chains like Publix, Bi-Lo and Harris Teeter are your best bet in the Southeast.  And if you have a Kroger's store near you, then you can stretch those savings pretty far. Since most people living in South Carolina have access to Bi-Lo stores, that's where I did my shopping.  The prices listed next to each item highlight what I paid for each item after coupon discounts.  Bi-Lo also doubles all coupons that are $.60 or less.
  • 3 cans Allens No Salt Turnip Greens, $1.50
  • 6 oz can Blue Diamond Almonds (Wasabi & Soy) - smoked almonds were also on sale but out of stock, $.69
  • 4 jars Peter Pan Peanut Butter, $2 (2, $.60 q's doubled and peanut butter cost $.15 each, with $.50 off each of the remaining 2 jars of peanut butter cost about $.89 each) 
  • 2 lbs. Blue Ribbon Long Grain (White) Rice, $1.14
  • 1, Bestlife Buttery Spread FREE ($.99 each with B1G1 sale, used $1 off coupon)
  • 1 lb each Borden Muenster and Pepper Jack Cheese, $2 (my Borden Sensations Slices coupon scanned)
  • 1 dozen large eggs FREE (when you buy -wyb 2 Borden Cheese products)
  • Swiss Iced Tea, $.89
  • 2 Smithfield Honey Cured Ham Steaks, $1.98 for both
  • 1 pack Shady Brook Farms Turkey Hotdogs, $1.19
  • 4 SCRUMPTIOUS plums, $1.38
$12.99 (or $12.68 in SNAP benefits as they're not taxed).

I goofed because I grabbed turkey hotdog coupons for Butterball, not Shady Brook Farm. There was another deal on my shopping list for Butterball frozen turkey breast and I confused myself.  I could have bought another pack of the Shady Brook hotdogs without a coupon and still came in under my $15 goal.  No, I don't have any bread or buns for the hotdogs, but I've already shown you how to bake bread and hotdog buns yourself for pennies.

Also, I bought a few items separately that could have also been added to this shopping list and still come in under $15.00:
  • 1, Lance Nekot Crackers, $.34
  • Palermo Pizza, $2.04
I froze more hotdogs in the last month than we normally have in a year. Now that I know how to use coupons effectively, I'm finding great deals all over the place, but it often means that I buy foods, normally didn't eat, like those hotdogs.  Don't get me wrong, we eat hotdogs, burgers and ice cream like normal families, but we buy it from a restaurant or a similar location. That was my way to help my kids distinguish between the types of food you should have every day and sometimes foods.  In terms of frugality, a pack of 8 hotdogs is about the same price of one or two dogs from a restaurant, so we'll have to make this work.

The whole wheat artisan bread recipe came in handy again as my 9 year old stepson helped out with our first attempt at homemade hotdog buns.

  • Roll a small piece of dough into a cylinder shape, a little thicker and longer than a serving of string cheese.
  • Place dough on a pan lightly dusted with cornmeal.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Let the buns cool.
  • Use a serrated knife to slice the buns along the side, less than a 3rd of the way through. 

Raisin bread and a renegade batch of sticky buns finished off the day's baking.  I'm sure these tips can work for your family too. 

Homemade coleslaw (from the 3 lbs for a $1 cabbage we scored at Bi-Lo) would have been a great addition to this dinner. That's recipe's coming soon!

Easy Recipes for Cheap Living
Last Updated November 26, 2010
Web Site Content by Mrs. Germaine Jenkins (gwhiz@germainesolutions.com)
Easy Recipes for Living Well on a Budget