Peppered Beef For $2.20 per person

Peppered Beef For $2.20 per person

I have made no secret about the fact that my grocery budgeting project has gone entirely off the rails. But I am still working on bringing our spending down. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t share meals that are budget-friendly and still taste delicious. This Peppered Beef Recipe fits that bill perfectly. I’m excited to share this with you so let’s get right to it.

The Beef

The beef I’m using is one pound of inside round steak. I bought it in a two-pack for $8. My wife used the other steak to make beef stroganoff last night, and she was nice enough to cut my beef for me, so you don’t have to see that step.

For the peppered beef recipe, mix the beef with an egg and some corn starch. This mixture helps the meat brown quicker. It also forms a bit of a crust and helps to thicken any liquids. Along with the egg and cornstarch, add in pepper, ginger, sugar, and salt. You can find the measurements in the recipe at the end of the post. Let the beef sit for about ten minutes before cooking.

Jump to Recipe

The Vegetables

The vegetables used in this recipe are a small onion, a green bell pepper, and a few garlic cloves (about 1 tbsp in total once sliced). Slice all the vegetables nice and thin and set aside. You can add-in other coloured peppers if you’d like, but that will start adding to the cost of the dish.

Cooking the stir-fry

To cook the stir-fry, heat a large non-stick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. You want it hot enough that a few drops of water splashed on the pan will sizzle and evaporate immediately. Add in 1 tbsp of cooking oil (canola, corn, peanut), then the beef. Brown the meat on all sides. Browning should take about four to five minutes. Take the beef out of the pan and set it aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan along with the onions and peppers. Cook the vegetables for about three minutes then add in the garlic and cook for one more minute. Return the beef to the pan along with any drippings, and toss all the ingredients together. Taste the peppered beef and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve this peppered beef recipe over rice (the rice is included in the $2.20).

Peppered Beef

This recipe for peppered beef is delicious, quick and only costs $2.20 per person to make.
Prep Time: 12 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Canadian, Chinese
Keyword: Beef Recipes, budget cooking, Eating on a budget, Quick Meals
Servings: 4 people
Author: Chef’s Notes
Cost: $2.20


  • 1 lb Inside Round Beef, thinly sliced across the grain
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp sliced garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper sliced
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • cooked rice to serve
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil


  • In a medium bowl combine the beef, cornstarch, egg, ginger, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper. Mix well, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the oil to the pan along with the beef and cook until the beef is browned on all sides. About 5 minutes. Take the beef out of the pan and set aside.
  • Put the pan back on the heat, add in the remaining oil along with the onions and green pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  • Add the beef back into the pan along with any drippings, toss all the ingredients together, taste and season with salt and pepper, then serve over rice.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Conclusion and Cost Break Down

I was super happy with how this Peppered Beef Recipe came out and with the total cost per portion. How many meals of this quality can you make for that price? What are your favourite budget meals? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below or on Facebook.

Cost breakdown

  • Beef = $4
  • Peppers = $2.46
  • Onions = $0.45
  • Garlic = $0.03
  • Sugar = $0.02
  • 1 Egg = $0.32
  • Soy Sauce (gluten free) = $0.60
  • Salt = $0.05
  • Pepper = $0.10
  • Conrstach = $0.05
  • Rice = $0.75

Total Cost = $8.83 / 4 (servings) = $2.20

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Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops for $2.99 per person

Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops for $2.99 per person

Hello everyone, and happy Monday. Today, as we jump into our new cooking and eating on a budget series, we will be taking a look at how to make Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans for $2.99 per person. The goal of this series is to show you that you can eat on the cheap and not sacrifice flavour. Yes, it is possible. Let’s take a closer look at the recipe and the financial breakdown.

Before we get going

Before we jump into this, I want to take a second to talk about something a reader pointed out on Facebook last week. You can read their full comment below. But, at the heart of what this reader is saying is that I am only really speaking to one specific financial situation in this budgeting series, my own. That is an entirely fair and accurate point. I am not an expert in budgeting or anything to do with finances; just ask my wife. I am a chef and blogger, trying to cut down my expenses while still eating things that I enjoy. I want to share my experience with you in hopes that it will help some of you out there. But, if you are in a more restricted financial situation, you may want to look elsewhere for advice. I did want to share some resources here, but I honestly couldn’t find any that didn’t seem condescending. If anyone knows of any practical budgeting and eating resources for people living on a low income, please share them in the comments section at the end of this post.

Reader Comment

Lots of good thinking and smart math here Ben but as a person who lives on a limited fixed income, there are a few points that I feel need making.

This approach is excellent for people who have enough leeway in their budget to calculate based upon percentages and set an arbitrary amount. Many people with low income don’t have that luxury. They pay their fixed expenses and after that’s been covered the amount left over is what buys the food. Often, it’s very little indeed but it’s what they have to work with so they make some hard choices.

While buying in quantity does save money, those on a low income may not have room in their budget to make that big purchase. The $6 bag of rice may be as much or more than they can afford. It’s one reason that it’s often said that being poor is expensive.

People with low incomes are likely to have little or no space to store extra food and, in some cases, have no kitchen at all.

Meal planning can save money or it can lead to waste. Many small households find that meal planning causes them to over-buy because it’s tempting to overlook repeated use of the same ingredients when in search of variety. It’s often more practical to “shop your kitchen” each day and plan your meals based upon what you actually have on hand, incorporating leftovers and scraps into your recipes so that nothing gets thrown away.

The process of “shopping your kitchen” can make doing a big shop intermittently impractical. It makes more sense under this practice to buy produce often, in small amounts, and other ingredients only as needed. This practice, paired with checking flyer prices on the things you actually do need can be a very effective way of limiting costs.

Your advice will indeed be helpful for middle-income families and I applaud your generosity in sharing your experience. I just wanted to say that such blanket advice rarely applies in every situation. Adaptability is key.

A reader’s comment on Facebook

Shopping the sales and the season

It is mid-August right now. Fresh, local produce is at its peak. Along with being able to buy fresh vegetables at a reasonably low price, there have been a lot of great sales. For example, I got a three-pack of pork chops for $2.96 and butter for $2.49. Without these sales and the current price of local vegetables, I could not have made this meal for the price I did. So, keep that in mind. This series is not so much about making a recipe that you can recreate for the same price. You’d have to find the exact same sales I did, and if you find this post in January, the cost of fresh vegetables is going to be considerably more. The point of this series is to show you that it is possible to eat well at a low cost. And, to show you how to break down the price of a recipe, to know what it actually costs you. Of course, you are welcome to recreate the recipe, and I think you will be happy that you did.

You can find the full cost breakdown below the recipe.


The potatoes I used for this recipe are baby potatoes that I bought in a 5-pound bag for $8.99. I used half a pound of the potatoes in the recipe for a total price of $0.89. Along with the potatoes, I used 1 tbsp of olive oil ($0.29), 1 tsp dried thyme ($0.04), and salt and pepper ($0.10 approx.).

To make the potatoes, cut them into quarters, put them in a pot of cold water, bring them to a boil and let them cook for five minutes. Drain the water off the potatoes then heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to the pan, along with the potatoes, season them with salt and pepper, and cook until they are browned on all sides. Season the potatoes with dried thyme, then put in the oven on 400°F for 15 minutes or until cooked. Flip the potatoes at the halfway mark to make sure they cook evenly.

Green Beans

The total cost of the green beans for a 2-pound bag was $2.89. I used about one-quarter of the bag bringing the price to $0.72. To cook the green beans, trim off the ends, put them in cold water, bring them to a boil and cook them for about three to four minutes or until they are tender but still bright green. When the green beans are cooked, drain them and serve.

Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops

As I said, I bought the pork chops on sale for $2.96. Along with the pork chops, I used 1 tbsp olive oil ($0.29) and salt and pepper ($0.10 approx. total for the whole recipe.).

To make the pork chops, heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add in the olive oil. Pat the pork chops dry, season them with salt and pepper and sear them for about two minutes per side or until they are golden brown. Take the pork chops out of the pan (they are not fully cooked yet) and set them aside to move on to the glaze.

Making the Balsamic Glaze

The ingredinets in the glaze are 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar ($0.47), 2 tbsp brown sugar ($0.06), 1 tbsp butter ($0.07), and 1/4 cup water.

To make the sauce, drain any oil out of the pan and add in the butter and brown sugar. Cook for about one minute then add in the balsamic and the water. Cook the mixture for about two minutes, or until it just starts to thicken up, then add in the pork chops. turn the heat down to low and cook for another two to three minutes or until the pork chops are cooked. Put the pork chops on a plate, and pour the glaze over them to serve.

Financial Breakdown

Below you can see my full financial breakdown of the meal. Some prices like the salt and pepper, are approximate. To get the cost per tablespoon of the brown sugar, I had to know how much a tablespoon of brown sugar weighed (I could have just weighed the tablespoon, but that would have been too easy.). To figure out the weight of a tablespoon of brown sugar, I googled how much 1 cup of brown sugar weighed (200 g) then divided that by 16 (# of tbsp in a cup), which gave me 12.5 g. Then, if I divided the total price of the brown sugar ($2.49) by the total weight (1 kg or 1000 g), I get a price per gram of $0.00249. If I multiple that price per gram by the 12.5 g that makes up my 2 tbsp, I get a total cost of $0.06. Does that make sense? This is probably more work then you need to do, but it does help to know exactly what you are spending.

In the member’s section there is a new downloadable today that is a template for doing this at home. You can become a member right here.

The Breakdown

  • 3 Pork Chops = $2.96
  • 1/2 lb Baby Potatoes = $0.89 (5lb = $8.99 | 8.99/5 = $1.79 per lb/.5 lb = $0.89)
  • 1/4 pkg Green Beans = $0.72 (Total price per pkg = $2.89/4 = $0.72)
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil = $0.59 (500ml = $9.99/500 = $0.019 per ml x 29.4[ml in 2 tbsp] = $0.58
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar = $0.47 (500 ml = $3.79/500 = $.00758 [per ml] x 62.5 ml [1/4 c] = $0.47
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar = $0.06 (1 kg = $2.49 [1 c brown sugar = 200g there are 16 tbsp in a cup. 200/16 = 12.5g per tbsp ] $2.49/1000g= $.00249 x 12.5= $0.03 x 2 [tbsb] = $0.06
  • 2 tbsp Butter = $0.15 (2 c [1 lb] butter = $2.49 / 32 [tbsp in 2 c] = $0.07 x 2 [tbsp] = $0.14
  • 1 tsp Dried Thyme = $0.04 (45 g thyme = $1.99/45=$0.04 per g x 0.91 g [ 1 tsp] = $0.036
  • 1 tsp Salt = $0.05 approx
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper = $0.05 approxTotal = $5.98 / 2 = $2.99 per peson

Total = $5.98 / 2 = $2.99 per peson

Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans

Balsamic and brown sugar glazed pork chops are great anytime, combine them with roasted potatoes and green beans and you have a real winner.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: balsamic glaze, budget cooking, Eating on a budget, green beans, pork chops, roasted potatoes
Servings: 2
Author: Chef’s Notes
Cost: 5.98


Pork Chops

  • 3 Bone-in pork chops
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 cup Water


  • 1/2 lb Baby potatoes cut into quarters
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Dried Thyme leaves
  • Salt and Pepper

Green Beans

  • 1/2 lb Green Beans ends trimmed and cleaned


Pork Chops

  • Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add in the olive oil.
  • Pat the pork chops dry and season with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the pan and cook on each side for about 2 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Take the pork out of the pan and set it aside. Drain any oil out of the pan and add in the butter and brown sugar. Cook for about 1 minute, gently stirring.
  • Add the balsamic and water into the pan, bring to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes or until it just starts to thicken. Add the pork chops back into the pan along with any juices, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 3 minutes per side or until the pork is cooked.
  • Take the pork out of pan, put it on a plate and pour the glaze over it to serve.

Roasted Potatoes

  • Preheat your oven to 400°f
  • Put the potatoes in a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes well.
  • Heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add in the olive oil and the drained potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the potatoes just until they are browned on all sides. Add the dried thyme and put the potatoes in the oven for 15 minutes, tossing halfway throuhg.

Green Beans

  • Put the green beans in a pot of water, bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and serve.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

How was the meal?

From my point of view, this is all utterly pointless if the food is no good. So, was the meal good? Yes, it was. The glaze was delicious and would be fantastic on pork tenderloin, chicken legs, or salmon. I will be making this again. The roasted potatoes were spot on. The only thing that was missing was a bit of butter on the green beans, but the eater can put that on themselves.

What I spent on groceries in total for the week.

How did my first week of grocery budgeting go? The short answer, not well. Now, the long answer. Things started off pretty well. I started the week with some meat in my freezer, so my main grocery store trip was only around $114, which I was pretty happy with. Had we left it there, we would have been well within our budget of $148.72. Of course, we didn’t stop there. There was one day this week where neither my wife nor myself could bring ourselves to cook anything, so we ended up buying junk at the store, which brought us right up to our budget. Then, we made a spontaneous overnight trip to Halifax, where we purchased take-out and food for the drive. In all honesty, I don’t yet know the full extent of what we spent, but I can tell you it was way over our budget. But it’s a new week, and there will be no more last-minute trips.

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7 Tips For Eating On A Budget

7 Tips For Eating On A Budget

Let’s face it; these are strange days. Millions of people are still not back to work full time, and those that are will be playing financial catchup for months or years. On top of that, grocery prices are climbing. Whether you lost your job due to the pandemic, you’re retired and living on a fixed income, or you are just trying to save some money. I want to help. For the next couple of weeks, Monday’s here at Chef’s Notes will be dedicated to cooking and eating on a budget. The idea is to cut back on grocery spending without giving up flavour or quality. It seems crazy, I know, but we can do it.

This series will mostly focus on recipes and dishes that you can make with budget ingredients, but today, we are going to look at grocery budgeting as a whole. What it is and how to do it. In all honesty, this series is as much for me as it is for you. I am not great at budgeting, so we will learn this together.

Introduction to Grocery Budgeting

Throughout this series, I am going to use my grocery spending as an example. I know how much I have been spending (I say “I” because since the pandemic hit, I do all the grocery shopping) and that I need to cut back. I think a real example is better than a hypothetical one, so every week of this series, I will break down my grocery spending and how I did with my budget.

What is my budget?

I did some research to find out what the average Canadian family spends on groceries. I found a Global News article from 2017 that says the average Canadian family of four spends about $220 a week on groceries. However, a lot has changed in the time since that article was written. Last December, Dalhousie University released a report saying that the average cost of food in Canada was going to go up by between 2% to 4%, that report was before COVID-19. I can’t find any studies or real information on how the pandemic has altered grocery prices,. Anecdotally, things seem more expensive.

If we take the 2017 numbers from Global and add the high range of increase that Dalhousie was predicting for 2020, plus add another 2% for the years in between, we get a weekly average budget of $233.37 for a family of four. The Global article breaks the budget down by family member which works out to be about 28% ($65.35)* of the budget for Dad, 24% ($56.01) of the budget for Mom, 32% ($74.68) for a teenage boy, and 16% ($37.34) for a young girl (4-8 years old). I don’t have a teenage boy or a 4 to 8-year-old girl. I do have a 10-month-old baby who I assume eats (or throws on the floor) about 12% of our grocery budget. So, for my family of three, our budget based on those numbers should be around $148.72 per week. That number will be my goal from here on out.

*percentages include the forcasted 4% incrase for 2020 plus an additional 2% increase total for the years between 2017 and 2020

What I currently spend on Groceries

From Sunday, August 9th, to Sunday, August 16th, I spent $406.18 at the grocery store. Now, that seems like a lot, and it is, but there are a few caveats in there. One, we bought diapers, which were $29.99, and I had to test a bunch of recipes for a project I’m working on that cost $107.80. So, what I actually spent on groceries last week was about $268.39, which puts me about $119.67 ($268.39 – $148.72 = $119.67) over what I should be spending. It looks like I have some work to do.

I should point out that included in my grocery budget are all the meals you see here on Chef’s Notes, on my Instagram, and when I appear on CTV. Those things can kind of skew my numbers a bit. I think it is valuable to stick to the budget, but I also believe that it is important to provide quality recipes and posts. That means that I sometimes have to go over the budget a little (or more than a little) for a blog post. I’m alright with that as long as it is within reason.

What is a Grocery Budget and How Do You Make One?

Before we move on to the 7 Tips For Eating On A Budget, let’s first clarify what a grocery budget is and how to make one. A grocery budget is a realistic weekly, monthly, and yearly spending limit you set for yourself to spend on groceries. Your budget can be set based on averages as I did with mine above, or you can look back at your grocery spending over the last six months, figure out what you can and cannot cut, and build your budget based on that. We will get into more detail in a minute.

Now that we are all on the same page, let’s finally move on to our 7 Tips For Eating On A Budget.

7. Keep an Inventory of Your Kitchen

Knowing what you do and don’t have in your kitchen is an essential key to understanding what you should and shouldn’t buy. You don’t have to be a tyrant about this, but you should, at the very least, go through your kitchen entirely before you go to the grocery store. It helps if you have some inventory sheets made up. I’ve made some for site members, which can be downloaded for free from the member’s downloads page. You can become a member for free here.

A useful inventory sheet breaks your kitchen into sections like “Fridge,” “Cupboard,” and so on. Ideally, you have on the sheet everyday things you have on hand like Milk, bread, salt, pepper, etc. With the sheet in hand, you take ten minutes and go through your kitchen, seeing what you have, what you are low on, and what you don’t have. You build your shopping list off of the inventory sheet and your meal plan, which we will cover in a minute.

Keeping an inventory of your kitchen does not have to take a lot of time, and it does not have to be complicated. The benefits of doing this greatly outweigh any annoyance and inconvenience.

6. Shop the Flyers

If you live in or near a town or city, there is a good chance that there are at least two grocery stores within a few minutes of each other. Most people will go to one store or the other, but I think it is better to go to both. Use the flyers to help make your meal plan, then go to one store for the things they have on sale that you want and go to the other store for the things that they have on sale. The more you do this, the more you will get a feel for the slight differences in the prices of everyday items between the stores. You would think that pasta would be the same price at two grocery stores that are within a few blocks of each other, but that isn’t always the case.

5. Meal Plan

Meal planning is the most critical thing you can do to eat on a budget. Use the flyers and your kitchen inventory to build a meal plan for your week. This will only take a few minutes. Then stick to it. Include all three meals of the day plus snacks. Be honest with yourself when planning your meals and your snacks. Write down what you are really going to eat, what you are going to snack on and work snacks into your budget. If you try and cheat, you will end up going to the corner store for some treats and blow your budget. There is a printable weekly meal planning template for members of the site. You can become a member for free here.

4. Plan your grocery store trips

Nowadays, a lot of grocery stores let you shop online. I prefer to pick out my fruits, vegetables, and meats, so I don’t use the shopping feature in the same way that most people do. I use it to plan out my trip to the grocery store and to help build my budget. The online shopping section of your local grocery store’s website will show you what things cost, so you can know what you are spending before you go. You can also use the online shopping section of the store’s website to help cost out and budget your meal plan.

3. Buy In Bulk When It Makes Sense

Buying in bulk is a great way to save money, sometimes. It is also a great way to spend a lot of money unnecessarily. For example, if you like white rice, it is great to buy it in bulk. It will last for a very long time. Brown rice, however, has a much shorter shelflife than white rice. So, unless you plan on eating brown rice for every meal for the next two months, it probably isn’t a great idea to buy it 20 kgs at a time.

Check Your Math

When buying in bulk is also important to make sure that the math makes sense. It doesn’t always. The easiest way to break the numbers down is to divide the unit size by the cost. If 20 kg of rice costs $50, then each kilo costs $2.50. The average suggested portion of dried rice is about 9g. There are 1000g in a kilo, so each gram equals $0.0025, meaning a single portion of rice is about $0.02. Compare that to a small (500g) bag of rice that costs $6.00. That same 9g portion now costs $0.10 or five times as much.

Think about chocolate for a second. I needed to buy chocolate the other day. The store had packages of semi-sweet baker’s chocolate squares on sale for $2.00 off per box, but I had to buy more than one to get the deal. It seemed like a good deal at a glance, but was it? Right beside the baker’s chocolate, there was a 1kg bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, not on sale that cost $12. On the surface, the baker’s chocolate seemed like a better deal, but each package of baker’s chocolate was only 225g. The total price for two boxes (the minimum number I needed to buy to get the deal) would have been around $9. That is fantastic when compared to the regular price of the baker’s chocolate, but it is terrible when compared to the bag of chocolate chips. Even with the deal, 1 kg of baker’s chocolate would have cost $20. Did I need 1 kg of chocolate at that moment? No. Will I use it before it expires? Yes, I will. So, even though the baker’s chocolate was on sale, it made much more sense to buy the bulk bag of chocolate chips despite having to spend more money in the moment.

Divide bulk prices over multiple weeks

One vital thing to keep in mind when buying in bulk is that the price of the bulk item needs to be extrapolated over multiple grocery budget weeks. Looking back at the chocolate for a second, I did not need 1 kg of chocolate for what I was cooking. Even though the baker’s chocolate was more expensive per gram, it would have cost me less money to buy one package rather than the chocolate chips. But because I will be using chocolate again soon, it made more sense to buy the more expensive item. So, let’s say I used 250 g (or one-quarter) of the chocolate chips for what I was making. The price I would subtract from my grocery budget would be one-quarter of the total cost of the chocolate chips, not the total cost. That means that even though I spent $12 on the chocolate, only $3 came off of my grocery budget. But, that also means the next time I use the chocolate chips, whatever I use has to come off that week’s budget. In four weeks, if I use another quarter of the bag of chocolate chips, I have to make sure to subtract $3 from that week’s grocery budget to cover the cost of that chocolate. I know that this may seem complicated, but it is important, so if it is at all unclear, go back and reread this paragraph.

I find that with budgeting and buying in bulk, especially, it is best to think about the larger picture. Focus on the day to day, week to week, but keep the whole month or year in mind. A big bag of rice is going to cost you $50, but it will last you a few months. Don’t beat yourself up too much if you go over budget a little on weeks when you buy bulk items. It will work out over time as long as you are conscious of it.

2. Buy Off Brand

Store brands and off-brand products are often much cheaper than name brand products. But, if you hate off-brand ketchup and are never going to use it, it doesn’t make much sense to buy it. If there is a name brand that you just have to have, then go for it. But, if you can try and buy it when it is on sale. If it is an item with a long shelflife like ketchup, buy a few at once. As long as you don’t buy more than you can use before it spoils, it makes sense. Buy off-brand when it makes sense for you.

1. Only shop once a week

A lot of research, time, effort and money has gone into designing your grocery store experience. The goal of those efforts is to get you to spend as much money as you can. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that the more time I spend in the grocery store, the more money I spend. That is not an accident. There is always something small that you see that you treat yourself, too or something you’d never thought you needed or wanted until you saw it. Those things all add up very quickly. It may only be $4 or $5 here and there, but when added up over a year, it becomes quite a bit of money.

To make sure that you stick to your budget, only go to the grocery store once a week. Plan it out, make a detailed list and stick to it. I also find that it helps to have your shopping list written in the order of how you go through the store. You know that you will be going through the fruits and vegetables first, then the bakery, then the meat. When you make your list, have all the fruits and vegetables at the top, then the bakery stuff, then the meat, and so on. Your goal should be to get everything you need in as little time as possible, the less backtracking through the store you have to do, the better.


I am excited about this eating on a budget series, I think I am going to learn a lot and I hope that you do too. It is going to be a challenge staying within a $148 budget, but I will do my best. If you want to challenge yourself to stick within a weekly grocery budget, I’d love to hear from you. You can leave a comment below or send me an e-mail on my contact page, and you and I can go through this together.

There is also now a members-only section of Chef’s Notes (I’ve mentioned a few times now I know). There are three levels, all with different benefits, but with the free membership, you get access to weekly downloadables. Right now, there are three downloadables in the member’s section. They are a meal planner, a grocery budget template, and a kitchen inventory template. You can sign up here for access to those things and more.

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Leftovers – How a $20 duck fed my wife and I for three days.

Leftovers – How a $20 duck fed my wife and I for three days.

Leftovers can get pretty boring. Just think of Christmas or Thanksgiving. You get so tired of turkey by the end of it that you never want to eat it again. This doesn’t have to be the case. With a little creativity and ingenuity, you can use leftovers to create unique meals that will make you forget you’re eating the same thing as the night before. Learning this skill will help you stretch your grocery budget further than ever before.

This is the story of how one $20 duck fed my wife and me three distinct meals.

Late last week I was wandering around the grocery store when something caught my eye. In the area of the protein aisle where the sale items are displayed, there were ducks. It is very rare that duck goes on sale. I saw this as an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. And with that, I had a duck in my arms and a smile on my face.

When I arrived home I showed my wife the duck as though I was an excited retriever returning to my master from a marsh with freshly killed fowl. She appeared indifferent (although I know she’ll argue this with me). Her indifference was due to the fact that she was unaware of my vision.

Duck. Duck. Duck soup.

The first thing I did when I got home with my duck was free it from the confines of its packaging. I then laid it out on a roasting rack and set it to dry in the fridge for a few days. Drying the duck like this makes for nice crispy skin when roasted. This works with chicken as well. Three days after I had bought the duck, it was ready to be cooked.

Duck Day One.

roast duck duck breastleft over duck

The first meal I cooked with the duck was pretty simple. Duck roasted in a hot oven. Glazed with a soy and honey reduction. Served sliced thin, with rice and steamed vegetables. It was delicious. The duck was medium well, so it still had a touch of pink. It was tender and juicy. We ate one breast between the two of us that first night. The remaining duck was returned to the fridge until the next day.

Duck Day Two. Leftovers Part One.

spring roll step oneduck spring roll step twoduck spring roll

The second meal we had with the duck was even more simple than the first. I made duck salad rolls. They were delicious and surprisingly filling.

I mixed thinly sliced carrot, celery, green onion, napa cabbage, and duck meat. To this, I added the zest of one orange, a touch of soy sauce, some chili sauce and a tsp of Chinese five spice. I then soaked some rice paper wrappers. I put a thin line of the leftover duck glaze from the previous night down the center of the wrapper, filled it with the duck and vegetable mixture and rolled it up. Again, they were delicious and surprisingly filling. A healthy and delicious way to use up some duck.

Duck Day Three. Leftovers Part Two.

leftovers duck soupserving hot and sour duck soup made from leftoversbowl of hot and sour duck soup

The final meal I made with the duck, may have been the most exciting. I simmered the carcass for about an hour then strained and reserved the liquid. I picked all the meat I could off of the carcass and discarded the bones. I then sauteed one sliced onions, one sliced carrot, and one sliced celery stalk until the onions started to brown. I added three chopped cloves of garlic, and one tablespoon of chopped ginger. I cooked this all for a minute or two and then added one teaspoon of Chinese five spice, one teaspoon of chili flakes, and four dried Thai red chilies. I deglazed the pan with half a cup of white vinegar and then returned the duck broth to the pot.

I left my soup simmer for about an hour. I then added one cup of shredded napa cabbage, four sliced green onions, all of the duck meat, two tablespoons of brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. I finished the soup with some soaked and chopped rice noodles.

I turned a sad duck carcass into a flavourful and vibrant hot and sour soup.

The point of all of this is that if you put a little thought into it, leftovers can become something new and exciting. All three of these dishes have a lot in common. However, they are different enough that you would never know you were eating leftovers. That should be the goal. There was not a point in the last three days where my wife or I said “Oh man! Duck again!”

All it takes is a little forethought and planning and you can stretch your grocery budget and still have a series of unique and enjoyable meals.


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