Shop Cheap

Sharing the best prices on groceries and other stuff in the Sacramento region.

March 31, 2009
Savings are in the bag - no foolin'

Yep, it's April Fool's Day but there's no joking around these days when it comes to grocery shopping. Just tell us where to find the best prices and we're happy. With only 11 days to go until Easter, the holiday isn't making much of a splash at grocery stores other than the baskets, bunnies and bagged candy.  Until then, here's what's happening this week. 

Raley's has come through again this week with boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.97 a pound; large artichokes for 97 cents each and Fuji apples for 97-cents a pound. With the chicken breasts, you get a recipe for Grilled Chicken Salad with Bacon and Apple, which they say costs less than $10 to prepare. In addition, Raley's has a buy 3, get three free Kellogg's cereal promotion. Works out to $1.83 a box. The other "mega" buy offers include: buy four 8-packs of Pepsi products and get $3 off or buy two 12-packs of 7-Up and get two free. A 28-pack of Arrowhead spring water is $3.99. Dannon Light & Fit yogurt is 50-cents a container and Kozy Shack pudding is $2.50 each.

If you plan to order your Easter Ham Dinner, it's still available at $64.99 for the meal. Michelina's entrees are 99 cents each and there's a coupon for a free Smart Ones entree when you buy five.

Raley's is also stepping up to the plate with a sale on hot dogs, buns, pickles and an offer to win free tickets to the River Cats 2009 season.

 Over at Safeway, grab the scissors and clip the coupons for Fruity Pebbles or Life Cereal at 99 cents each; Lucerne butter, also 99 cents and 18-count large eggs for $1.99. Safeway also has boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.99lb and boneless pork chops for $1.99lb. Green seedless grapes are 86-cents a pound; fresh broccoli is 88-cents a pound and iceberg lettuce is 99-cents a head.

If you want a really tasty dessert this weekend, check out the Safeway Select Fresh Fruit Tart for $13.99. The fruit is sweet, the filling is creamy and the crust is lined with chocolate!

Progresso vegetable soups are $1 a can; Safeway Select ice cream is BOGO and Chicken of the Sea tuna and Safeway breads are 2/$2.

The baseball theme continues at Safeway with coupons for chips, dip and sodas. Buy 5 items and save $5. Personal care product coupons include Dial or Tone soaps for $2.99; toothpaste for $1.99; Kleenex tissue for $1 and Garnier Fructis for $2.49.

The Friday $5 special is the Cafe Pizza. If you're in the mood for a foot-long sub, the All-American sandwich is $5.99 and it feeds a family.

In floral, you will find Easter Lilies for $7.99; roses for $9.99 and tulips in a pot for $6.99.

Let's head over to Save Mart for boneless cross rib roast for $1.77lb; cooked shrimp meat for $3.99 a pound and 18-count large eggs for $2. Save Mart's signature is its produce and this week avocados are 69-cents each; hot house tomatoes are 69-cents a pound  and artichokes are 79-cents each. Iceberg lettuce is 97-cents a head and mangoes are 50-cents each.

If you are planning ahead for Easter breakfast, pick up two packs of Johnsonville sausage links and get a free dozen eggs. Add some Martinelli's sparkling cider at $1.99 a bottle and Dannon yogurt for 50-cents and you have an easy, tasty breakfast. Buy three American Greeting cards and get a free "Mr. Hopsalot Easter Bunny" or Reese's peanut butter eggs.

Save Mart has the Smart Ones coupon, too. Buy 5, get one free.

The blooming Easter Lilies are $7.99 and a Palm Sunday bouquet is $8.99.

Come back tomorrow for the latest recipes from the Shop Cheap kitchen.

March 27, 2009
Tasty recipes for the weekend

Finally, the recipes arrive. Although the Shop Cheap kitchen was closed for a couple of days, recipe researcher Sheila Kern didn't take any time off from finding tasty items for you to prepare this weekend.

If you like asparagus, you will want to cook one and save the rest.

Asparagus Risotto


Adapted from Mario Batali

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

Time: 45 minutes


1 pound asparagus, peeled, trimmed and cut into one-inch-long pieces, tips reserved

4 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons butter

1/3 medium red onion, diced

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

Salt to taste

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.


1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add half the asparagus stalks and cook until quite soft, at least 5 minutes. Rinse quickly under cold water. Put cooked asparagus in a blender or food processor and add just enough water to allow machine to puree until smooth; set aside.

2. Put stock in a medium saucepan over low heat. Put oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add onion, stirring occasionally until it softens, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add white wine, stir, and let liquid bubble away. Add a large pinch of salt. Add warmed stock, 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring occasionally. Each time stock has just about evaporated, add more.

4. After about 15 minutes, add remaining asparagus pieces and tips, continuing to add stock when necessary. In 5 minutes, begin tasting rice. You want it to be tender but with a bit of crunch; it could take as long as 30 minutes total to reach this stage. When it does, stir in 1/2 cup asparagus puree. Remove skillet from heat, add remaining butter and stir briskly. Add Parmesan and stir briskly, then taste and adjust seasoning. Risotto should be slightly soupy. Serve immediately.

Asparagus Recipe


Preparation time: 10 minutes.


1 bunch of medium sized asparagus, about 1 lb

2 Tbsp of the most exquisite extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon lemon zest - freshly grated lemon rind

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 Prepare the asparagus by rinsing them thoroughly, break off any tough, white bottoms and discard. Cut into 1 to 2 inch sections, slicing the asparagus at a slight diagonal.

2 Fill a medium sized saucepan half way with water, bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and reduce heat slightly to a simmer. Parboil the asparagus for exactly 2 minutes. Drain the hot water. While the asparagus are still hot, toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon rind. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.

Note that when you are working with so few ingredients, it's important to make sure they are of the highest quality.

Asparagus and Citrus Salad


Serves 4


1 1/2 lbs. Fresh California asparagus trimmed

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or dry sherry

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt freshly ground pepper to taste

4 oranges (preferably blood oranges)

4 tablespoons coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts


In a small bowl combine shallots with the vinegar and sherry; let stand at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, zest 1 of the oranges, avoiding the white pith. Finely chop zest and add to the shallots.

Squeeze 1/3 cup juice from zested orange and add to the bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Cut asparagus spears in half or in fourths and cook in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender; drain well and remove from pan to cool. Toss the vinaigrette with the cooled asparagus.

Cut the ends of the remaining oranges and peel them by cutting down the fruit vertically, following the contours of the fruit.

Slice the peeled orange horizontally into 1/2 inch thick slices.

Arrange the orange slices and asparagus spears on salad plates and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon toasted walnuts.

Sesame Asparagus Salad


2 lb. California fresh asparagus cut into 1-1/2" pieces.

Cover in salted boiling water. Cook until tender.

Rinse immediately in cold water to stop cooking process. Pat dry.

Mix 4 tsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. honey, 2 tsp. sesame seed oil, 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds and pour over asparagus.

Chill 30 minutes and serve.

And for all you Cross Rib Roast lovers....

Cross Rib Roast


Serves 4 -6


2 lbs cross-rib roasts

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil


Brush roast with balsamic vinegar.

Make a paste with remaining ingredients and apply to meat.

Roast meat at 450 for 15 minutes Reduce heat to 350 and cook for 40 o 60 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 125.

Remove from oven; cover loosely with foil and let stand 15 to 25 minutes.

Cross Rib Roast



3-5 pound Humboldt Grassfed Beef cross rib roast


2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil



2 teaspoons of dried herbs


Preheat oven to 450. Make several slits in top of meat. Put a piece of garlic in each. Drizzle meat with oil. Sprinkle on salt, pepper and herbs (we use rosemary and thyme). Place in a heavy bottomed pan and put in oven.

After 15 minutes TURN THE TEMPERATURE DOWN to 350. Roast approximately 20 minutes per pound. Use a meat thermometer to be sure things are on target. . Remove from oven, tent and let stand about 25 minutes.

Rosemary Garlic Cross Rib Roast


Servings: 6-8


1 (3- to 4-lb.) cross rib roast

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary

1/2 tsp. black pepper

Salt to taste

2 to 3 tbsp. red wine


Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes

Cook time: 1-1/2 to 2 hours

Preheat oven to 325°F. Place meat in a shallow roasting pan and rub garlic and

rosemary over all surfaces. Sprinkle with pepper, then salt. Insert meat

thermometer into center of roast. Bake uncovered until internal temperature

reaches 140°F for rare or 145°F for medium rare, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Let

stand for 10 minutes before carving. Remove meat from pan and place pan

juices in a small saucepan. Add wine and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.

Serve wine sauce over sliced meat.

Dijon Herb Cross Rib Roast


Servings: 8-10


1 (6-lb.) USDA Choice Beef cross rib roast

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

2 tbsp. butter, softened

1 tbsp. coarse black pepper

1/2 tbsp. each: basil, rosemary, sage and thyme


Prep time: 10 minutes, Cook time: 2 to 3 hours

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place roast, fat side up, in a large shallow baking pan. Stir together the remaining ingredients and spread over the top and sides of roast. Insert an oven-proof meat thermometer so the tip is in the center of the roast. Cook for 2 to 3 hours or until meat thermometer reaches 135°F for medium-rare or 150°F for medium. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before carving.

And, finally, the avocado recipes.

Grilled Shrimp and California Avocado with Basil and Prosciutto

Serves 6


2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 ripe Fresh California Avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and sliced into 2 strips per serving

12 thin slices of prosciutto

12 small fresh basil leaves

12 (25-30 size) medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut in half lengthwise

1 Tbsp olive oil


Dip each avocado slice in lemon juice; set aside.

To prepare, lay a piece of prosciutto flat on cutting board. Top with 1 basil leaf, 1 slice of avocado and 2 shrimp halves. Roll until compact and brush with olive oil. Repeat for each roll.

Grill over coals covered with grey ash. Cook each side for 3 minutes.

 Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

Serving Suggestions

You can serve this recipe many ways. Serve two rolls per person as suggested for a large appetizer or first course, or serve just one roll per person for a small appetizer. Or place on serving on top of a bed of baby lettuce or greens topped with your favorite vinaigrette.

Avocado-Cilantro Bagel Spread


Serves 8


1 ripe Fresh California Avocado

1 oz goat cheese

1/4 tsp onion powder

1 1/2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

1/8 tsp black pepper

dash of cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp salt

1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice


Combine avocado with goat cheese and mix until well blended.

Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Adjust salt to taste.

Let stand for 1 hour at room temperature to let flavors blend.

Garnish with fresh lime slices and a sprig of cilantro.

California Avocado Wrap Up


Serves 4


4 fajita size fat-free flour tortillas

2 slices ripe California avocado, mashed

4 deli slices of sodium-free turkey breast

2 tsp prepared barbecue sauce, divided

4 thin slices of low-fat cheese, divided

1 cup carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded


Place two tsp. mashed avocado on tortilla, spreading to within 1 inch of tortilla edge.

Place 1 slice of turkey breast over mashed avocado.

Top with cheese and spread on 1/2 teaspoon barbecue sauce.

Sprinkle one-quarter of the carrots over the sauce.

Roll up tightly. Place seam side down on plate. Using serrated knife, slice in half.

Enjoy the recipes and the weekend.

March 24, 2009
Specials rule the week

It's one of those in-between weeks at the grocery store. Not quite time for all the Easter specials so we get a lot of what we had last week: asparagus, strawberries and Safeway's Mix&Match event. This week Raley's has avocado at $1 each and and 18-pack of large eggs for $1.66. How about asparagus and avocado omelets with strawberries on the side?

Here's the breakdown:

Got to say that Raley's is coming through with the specials this week. In addition to the items mentioned above, they have boneless cross-rib roast for $1.77lb, fresh Tilapia at $4.99lb and bakery baguettes for $1.99.

For all the parents out there, check out the Huggies coupon. $7.99 for a jumbo pack or B is for Baby diapers for $6.99. Raley's has a whole page of coupons on the back of the ad. My favorites are: Langers apple juice $1.69; diced tomatoes for 79 cents a can; fresh blackberries 2/$4 and Coca-Cola 2-liter jug for 89-cents.

In produce, oranges are 59-cents a pound; mini peeled  carrots are 99-cents a bag and yellow or zucchini squash is 99-cents a pound.

In the deli, there's a coupon for $2 off a large espresso drink when you buy a breakfast panini.

Raley's is offering two Ham Dinner specials for Easter. The Nob Hill Trading Co. spiral ham at $39.99 feeds 8-10. You must pre-order the ham in the Meat Dept. and pick it up by April 11. If you want a complete meal, for $64.99 you will get the ham, asparagus, dinner rolls, potatoes, and lemon meringue pie. The dinner serves 8-10 and is available for pick up in the deli on April 11 and 12. If you order online at, you save $5.

Over at Save Mart be sure to get the strawberries because it's a great deal at buy one get two free. They also have boneless pork loin for $1.99lb and a Friday-Sunday sale on tri-tip for $2.47lb. Fresh Express salad blends are BOGO; apples are 99-cents a pound and leaf lettuce is 79 cents a head. Baby carrots are 99 cents a bag; broccoli crowns or Brussels sprouts are 99 cents a pound; and the green onion, radish or cilantro trio is 3/99 cents.

Sunnyside yogurt is 48 cents a carton; Arrowhead spring water is $3.99 a case and Keebler cookies are $1.99 a package. Save Mart has the coupons, too. You just need to spend $10 on groceries and clip the coupons to get 7-Up products for 88 cents a jug; a dozen large eggs for 99-cents (remember Easter is coming); a 5-pound bag of Idaho potatoes for 99-cents and -my favorite - Gallo Salame for $3.99.

And now that Safeway ad. It's mostly the Mix&Match stuff, which is definitely a good deal if you can keep track of the 10 items you buy. Other stuff worth mentioning includes whole tri-tip roast for $2.77 a pound; a two-pound container of strawberries for $2.97 and cooked shrimpmeat for $2.99 a pound. You get a choice this week for the $5 Friday special: either a whole roasted chicken or a cut-up 8-piece roasted chicken. Safeway has also cut prices on its Signature Cafe soup to $3.99 for 24-oz; fresh baked cookies are $2.99 for 20 and a dozen donuts for $3.99.

The Shop Cheap kitchen will be closed for a couple of days. So come back on Friday for some tasty recipes.



March 19, 2009
Snappy recipes for snapper, strawberries

The Shop Cheap kitchen is in full bloom with dozens of daffodils and sweet strawberries. Recipe researcher Sheila Kern has been busy making the switch to spring. Here's what she found:

Spinach-Asparagus Salad with Strawberry Dressing


Yields: 4 servings


1 cup California strawberries, stemmed

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tbsp. raspberry vinegar

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

4 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. salt

8 cups trimmed spinach leaves

1 lb. asparagus spears, blanched and drained

4 tbsp. toasted slivered almonds


To make dressing: Combine strawberries, juice, vinegar, oil, honey and salt in container of electric blender or food processor. Pulse on and off, dressing should be slightly chunky. Cover and refrigerate. For each serving, measure 2 cups spinach onto each of four plates. Top each with one-fourth of the asparagus and drizzle with about 1/3 cup dressing. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. almonds.

Strawberry and Cucumber Salad


Yields: 6 servings


4 1/2 cups (1 1/2 pounds) California strawberries, stemmed and quartered

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice

3/4 cup Italian parsley leaves

4 green onions, chopped

6 radishes, thinly sliced


3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


To make salad: In large bowl, toss salad ingredients with vinaigrette until coated. Mound salad on 6 chilled plates, dividing it equally. Serve immediately. To make vinaigrette: In bowl, whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients except oil. Whisk in oil until blended.

 Strawberry Salsa



1 English or seedless cucumber, finely chopped

1 green onion, thinly sliced

1 tbsp. cilantro cut into strips

3-4 tbsp. seasoned rice wine vinegar

2 cups fresh California strawberries, hulled and diced small

1 yellow pepper


Mix cucumbers, green onion, cilantro and vinegar. Cover and chill at least one hour. Just before serving, add strawberries.

Southwest Iceberg Slaw


Servings: 6


1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

3 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

6 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

1 cup cubed avocado

1/2 cup chopped plum tomatoes

1/4 cup shredded carrot


In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream, lime juice, onion, jalapeno, salt and pepper. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, avocado, tomatoes and carrot. Add dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Iceberg Lettuce Chopped Salad with "French" Dressing


Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray

Show: 30 Minute Meals Episode: What's Warm, Cozy and Fast? Dinner!


1 head iceberg lettuce, core removed and chopped

4 radishes, chopped

4 scallions, chopped

1/3 seedless cucumber, chopped

1 cup shredded carrots


3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Salt and white pepper


Combine lettuce and chopped veggies in salad bowl.

Add all of the dressing ingredients into a blender. Put the top in place and blend on high until dressing is combined. Pour dressing over salad and toss. Adjust salt and pepper, to your taste.

Pacific Red Snapper Veracruz


Serves 4


1 lb. Rockfish (Pacific red snapper)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 cup tomatoes, diced

1 bell pepper (red, green, or yellow), thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 tsp. jalapeno or Serrano chile, chopped (or to taste)

1/2 tsp. oregano

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp. salt and pepper

Juice of 2 lemons, 1 lemon sliced


Sliced avocado

Cilantro sprigs


Place Pacific red snapper fillets in shallow baking dish. Saute onion, bell pepper, and garlic in olive oil until vegetables are limp. Add herbs, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and lemon juice. Pour this mixture over fish and arrange lemon slices over top. Cover tightly and bake at 325 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, just until fish turns opaque in center and begins to flake. During last 5 minutes, check for doneness and add liquid if needed. Continue to bake uncovered until fish is done.

Cajun Red Snapper


Servings: 6


1 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 (6 ounce) fillets red snapper

salt to taste


On a large piece of wax paper, mix together paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, onion powder, thyme, basil, garlic powder, and oregano.

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter or margarine with oil. Brush both sides of the snapper filets with the butter mixture, reserve the remaining butter mixture. Coat both sides of the filets with the seasoning-mixture.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until a drop of water sizzles on it. Drizzle half of the remaining butter-oil mixture on one side of fish fillets. Place fillets butter side down in pan. Cook over a high heat until the fish is deeply browned, about 5 minutes. Drizzle remaining butter-mixture over the fish and flip the fish over. Cook until fish is browned and flakes when tested with a fork, about 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt.

March 17, 2009
Spring into the season with strawberries and snapper

In an ideal world, potatoes and bread would be on sale this week so I could write the headline "Starch Madness" and compete with what's going on in the world of college hoops.

In the real world, it's strawberries, asparagus and snapper. Hmmm, maybe a snappy headline about snapper!

OK, I'll stop because it's bargains you want, not my humor.

Nothing says spring like fresh produce. Raley's has red, ripe strawberries for $2 a pound.  (and Angel food cake from the bakery at $3 each.) Iceberg lettuce is a deal at 50-cents a head along with tomatoes on the vine $1.99lb and asparagus for $1.99lb. Green onion, radishes and cilantro are 2/$1 and seedless grapes are $1.99lb.

Cases of R Everyday drinking water are $2.99 and 2-liter Pepsi is 99-cents each.

Is anyone else hooked on Kozy Shack chocolate pudding? At $2.98 per container, it's definitely a bargain. And then there's peanut butter. If you buy two jars of Skippy for $4, you get a Raley's grape jam or jelly for free.

Raley's is snack central this week with Nabisco crackers for $1.88 a box and buy two 8-packs of Pepsi and 2 bags of Lays or Tostitos for $7.99.

It's a good time to stock up on toothpaste. Aim or Pepsodent is 88-cents a tube.

Over at Save Mart, a two-pound container of fresh strawberries is only $2.99 and large oranges are 39-cents a pound. Medium avocados are $1 each; asparagus is $1.97 a pound and Nature Sweet tomatoes are $1.99 a bag. Gourmet butter lettuce is BOGO and yellow onions are 3lbs/99 cents.

Those fresh snapper fillets are $2.99lb; boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the max pack are $1.99lb and boneless cross rib roast is $1.77lb.

Doritos are BOGO; fresh baked chocolate cookies are $2.50 for 18; Bohemian Hearth bread is $1.99 a loaf and Aquafina drinking water is $3.88 a case.

Save Mart has four good coupons this week. Spend $10 and you get Chicken of the Sea tuna for 59-cents a can; Sunny Select apple juice for 99 cents a jug; bagged Romaine hearts for $1.29 and Hormel lunchmeat for $1.99 a pack.

Get a dozen large eggs for $1.99; Simply Juice for $3 a jug and Sunnyside smoothies for 79-cents each.

Safeway is heavy into the Mix&Match promotion this week. Buy 10 products and save $5. I don't know about you but I'm getting confused by the buy 10, get $5 off deals. Thankfully, they have started telling us what each item costs after the discount. With that in mind, bagged salads, Pepsi, Hunts sauce and Rice-a-Roni work out to 75-cents each; Cherrios, Chips Ahoy!, Motts apple juice and Ajax dish soap are $1.50 each; Hefty storage bags, Nature's Pride sliced bread and Ocean Spray juice are $2 each; artisian breads, Klondike ice cream bars, Crisco and O Organics apples are $2.50.

In items that won't force you to "do the math," there's London broil for $1.99lb; boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.99lb and fresh whole boneless pork loin for $1.99, too. In produce, fresh asparagus is $1.29lb; cluster tomatoes on the vine are $1.88lb; fresh broccoli is $1.69lb and Fuji apples are $1.49lb..

In dairy, Lucerne yogurt is 40-cents a container (must buy 10); Kraft Natural cheese slices are $1.99 and that Kozy Shack pudding is $3 a container.

No $5 Friday special this week but the smaller size of Signature Soups are 2/$5. The BOGOs include Oscar Mayer bacon; Breyers ice cream; Van de Kamp's seafood selections and Extra gum. Refreshe water is $3.49 a case; Quaker Oatmeal is $2 for a canister and bagels in the bakery are $3.99 a dozen.

If you want to brighten up your desk or your dinner table, fresh cut daffodils are 2 bunches for $3. When the blooms open it's like they are smiling back at you. What's not to like about that!

Come back tomorrow for recipes with strawberries, snapper and iceberg lettuce.


March 11, 2009
Easy meals for St. Patrick's Day

The aroma of corned beef was everywhere in the Shop Cheap kitchen this week. Bee researcher Sheila Kern offers up three tasty recipes. My favorite is the crock pot recipe because it tastes great and it cooks while you are at work.


Crock Pot Apple and Brown Sugar Corned Beef


Serves 6


1 corned beef brisket

1 quart apple juice

1 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

8 small red potatoes

2 medium carrots, pared, and cut into chunks

1 onion, peeled, and cut into eighths

1/2 head cabbage, cut into chunks


1. Place all ingredients in a large crock pot (cut meat in half if necessary); stir to mix.

2. Cook on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours or on LOW for 8 to 10 hours.

3. Remove meat and vegetables and some of the cooking liquid.

4. Slice meat thinly across the grain.

5. Serve with vegetables and some of the liquid.

Guinness Corned Beef


Servings: 16


4 pounds corned beef brisket

1 cup brown sugar

1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle Irish stout beer (e.g. Guinness)


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Rinse the beef completely and pat dry.

Place the brisket on rack in a roasting pan or Dutch oven. Rub the brown sugar on the corned beef to coat entire beef, including the bottom. Pour the bottle of stout beer around, and gently over the beef to wet the sugar.

Cover, and place in preheated oven. Bake for 2 1/2 hours. Allow to rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Editor's Note: During the last hour, you may put vegetables in the roasting pan as well. Try a wedge of cabbage, new potatoes, onion, carrots, etc. You may need to add a little more beer with your vegetables.

Corned Beef and Cabbage in Guinness Stout



4 pounds flat cut corned beef briskets

1 (12 ounce) bottle Guinness Stout

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into wedges

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 head cabbage, cut into wedges, rinsed and drained

6 medium white potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces


Rinse corned beef under cold water, and pat dry. In a Dutch oven, or other large pot with a cover, brown corned beef well on all sides over high heat. Pour Guinness over the meat, and add enough water to just cover the brisket. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and pepper to the pot. Bring pot to a boil and skim off any foam. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pot and simmer for 3 hours. Add carrots, then potatoes and then the cabbage wedges to the pot. Cover pot, and continue cooking until meat and vegetables are tender (about 20-30 minutes). Remove meat and vegetables to warm serving platter/dishes, leaving the cooking liquid/sauce in the pot. Over high heat, bring the cooking liquid to a boil, and cook until the amount of liquid is reduced by half (about 10 minutes). Slice the corned beef across the grain; serve with the vegetables and the sauce on the side.

We are already seeing strawberries in the supermarket. Either of these would be delicious this weekend.

Strawberry and Spinach Salad


Makes 8 servings

1 pint fresh strawberries

2 bunches fresh spinach

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons minced green onion

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup balsamic or cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1. Wash strawberries under cool running water. Remove caps and set aside to drain.

2. Wash spinach and remove large tough stems. Tear large leaves into small pieces. Drain.

3. In a medium bowl combine remaining ingredients and whisk together.

4. Slice strawberries into halves or quarters and place in a large bowl. Add dry spinach.

5. Pour dressing over all and toss.

Strawberry Salsa

This recipe would be perfect with the chicken breasts on sale at Raley's


Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup coarsely chopped strawberries

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1 green onion, finely chopped, top included

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons dried currants

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Chill, serve with grilled chicken or fish.

March 10, 2009
Save green on St. Patrick's Day

It's the one time of the year that anyone can be Irish and indulge in corned beef, cabbage, soda bread and Guinness. The local grocery stores are making it easy for shoppers to pick up the ingredients and on Thursday we will share some recipes to make your St. Patrick's Day dinner special.

Here's the scoop:

 Let's start at Raley's where corned beef brisket is $2.47lb (round is $3.77lb). If you buy the beef, your cabbage is free with the coupon on the front of the ad. Red potatoes are 59-cents a pound and a large bag of mini carrots is $1.99. In addition, Irish soda bread in the bakery is $1.99 a loaf. Got to scoop the soda bread up quickly because they always seem to run out.

If you'd rather stick to the basics, Foster Farms split chicken breasts are just 97-cents a pound. Raley's has a recipe for "Quick Chicken Cacciatore" that sounds great and cheap at about $10 to feed a family of four.

In produce, bagged salads are 2/$4; hot house tomatoes are 97-cents a pound and Brussels sprouts are 99-cents a pound.

Raley's is having a Heinz sale  and you'd be surprised at what's included: Classico pasta sauce (2/$4); Weight Watchers Smart Ones (5/$10) and Ore-Ida frozen potatoes (2/$4). Spend $10 on Heinz items and get $3 off.

Cooked shrimpmeat is reasonable at $3.99 a pound and fresh bay scallops are $5.99 a pound. In dairy and deli, Gallo sliced salami is $4.99lb; Sunnyside Farms cottage cheese is $1.99 a carton and Sunnyside coffee creamer is $2.59 for 32 ounces.

 Over at Save Mart, there are more special savings and coupons than ever before. If you spend $25 in a single purchase, you can get a BOGO on Pepsi drinks, Oreo cookies and Mission tortilla chips. Flip to the back of the ad and you will find coupons for Braeburn apples (99-cents for a 3lb. bag); Fresh Express salad (99-cents); Hillshire Farm deli lunchmeat (99-cents) and bacon ($1.69 a pakage).

And there's also the Shenson corned beef brisket for $2.37lb and cabbage 3lbs/99-cents.

In produce, seedless grapes are 87-cents a pound; strawberries are BOGO; asparagus is $1.99lb and Fuji apples are 99-cents a pound.

Save Mart also has the seafood savings on shrimpmeat for $3.99lb and scallops for $3.99, too.

Arrowhead spring water is $3.99 a case and Crush soda is 99-cents for a 2-liter bottle.

Safeway continues with the 48-hour promotion. This week, it's Lunchables or Deli Creations 2/$3; cocktail tomatoes $1.49; Doritos tortilla chips $1.77 and Ritz crackers for $1.88 a box.

They have the coupons, too. Here's the best deal: 18 large eggs for 97-cents. After that it's Quaker chewy granola bars and Peter Pan peanut butter for 99-cents each; and Tropicana orange juice for $1.97. Inside the ad, you will find coupons for shrimpmeat ($3.99); string cheese ($1.99); Safeway bread (99-cents a loaf) and bacon ($1.99 a package).

The St. Patrick's Day  meal has corned beef for $1.79 a pound; cabbage 29-cents a pound; red potatoes 69-cents a pound and Irish soda bread for $2.99.

There's a buy 5 items, save $5 sale that includes Ocean Spray, Tree Top and Welch's juice drinks. Foster Farms whole chicken is 79-cents a pound.

In produce, strawberries are BOGO; seedless grapes are $1.99lb and a 2-lb bag of baby carrots is $1.99. In dairy, you can get 2 gallons of Lucerne milk for $3.98 and yogurt for 50-cents a carton.

BOGOs worth mentioning include Safeway Select ice cream; Lucerne whipped cream and Tyson fully cooked entrees. In a special section on pasta ingredients, Classico pasta sauce is 2/$5; Del Monte tomatoes are $1 a can; lean ground beef is $3.99lb and Barilla pasta is $1 a package. Add Safeway garlic bread for $1.79 a loaf.

The $5 Friday only special is the same as last week: a pound of Primo Taglio pan-roasted turkey or black forest ham. Signature soups have dropped in price to $3.99 each and there's a $3.99 coupon for a deli sandwich.

 Come back tomorrow for recipes to help you plan the perfect Irish-American feast.

March 5, 2009
Great tips from readers

My newsroom friend Niesha shares this recipe, which is from Bon Appetit. It makes great sandwiches, for home or work.

Lemon Tarragon Chicken Salad

1 store-bought rotisserie chicken

3/4 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise

2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp grated lemon peel

Sliced bread (rye is suggested, but wheat also tastes good)

Thinly sliced romaine lettuce

Prep: Shred chicken, cutting away skin and fat. Mix celery, mayo, tarragon, lemon juice and zest in a large bowl to blend. Stir chicken into mixture and season with salt and pepper. Spread on bread. Chicken salad can be kept covered in fridge for about 3 days.

And a Shop Cheap shopper from El Dorado Hills shares his Walmart story:

 I know you list the coupons and specials at the major grocery chains, but I think you might want to mention how great the prices are at Walmart Supercenters for groceries.

 I know they aren't everywhere and that people may have to drive to get to them, but the prices are considerably cheaper. I have three kids so I end up buying a lot of the same things every week. I was a loyal Raley's shopper but with the tough economic times, I have been trying to save money in evey place possible.

 Thus I switched to Safeway and I focused on many of the weekly specials, stocking up when I thought they had good deals. I had heard that Walmart had good prices but I had never been. I finally went to the one in Orangevale and I was shocked by the price differential. My kids eat Spagetthi-o's with meatballs so I end up buying them every week. On a special week at Safeway I may be able to get them for $1.25 a can. Not on special it is closer to $3. At Walmart, the everyday price is $1. Again my kids like eating Gripz. Regularly nearly $5 a box at Safeway. Rarely on sale. 2 for 5 bucks at Walmart. (I found them in the larger Walmart in Roseville)

If the price difference was a dime or a quarter, it wouldn't be worth the special trip. But these prices are amazing.

March 4, 2009
Let's pack a lunch

We're making lunches in the Shop Cheap kitchen this week. With the economy in the slow lane, we decided to pick up the pace and give you some ideas for bringing your lunch. Here's what recipe researcher Sheila Kern suggests:

Mediterranean Tuna Wrap


Eating Healthy in 2009. Copyright 2007 Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved.

Yield 4 servings


2 (6-ounce) cans chunk light tuna in water, drained well

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Freshly ground black pepper

6 cups pre-washed mixed greens (about 3 ounces)

4 whole-grain wraps (about 2 ounces each)

2 large tomatoes, sliced


In a medium bowl combine the tuna, onion, parsley, olives.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour about 2/3 the dressing over the tuna mixture and toss to combine. In a separate bowl, pour the rest of the dressing over the greens and toss to combine.

Place some tuna salad onto each piece of wrap bread. Top with 1 1/2 cups of greens and a few tomato slices. Roll the wraps and serve.

Here's a recipe that you can make ahead and have lunches for a week! And best of all, it was a Pillsbury Bake-off winner.

Family-Sized Muffuletta


Makes 6 servings



2 (11-oz.) cans Pillsbury Refrigerated Breadsticks

Nonstick cooking spray

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1/3 cup pitted ripe olives, sliced

1/3 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped or sliced

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish, well drained

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup purchased creamy Italian salad dressing

1/2 pound thinly sliceddeli meat of your choice (such as ham, turkey and/or salami)

4 oz thinly sliced provolone or Swiss cheese

6 fresh parsley sprigs


Heat oven to 375°F. Spray pizza pan or cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Remove dough from cans. Do not unroll; separate coils of dough. Place 1 coil of dough in center of sprayed pan. Carefully unroll each strip and wrap around center coil, pinching ends of strips together. Continue with all strips to make 1 large round.

Lightly spray top of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375°F. for 20 to 24 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan; place on wire rack. Cool 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine ripe olives, pimiento-stuffed olives, onion, relish, 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese and salad dressing; mix well.

Cut baked bread loaf horizontally to make 2 rounds. Spread bottom half of bread with olive mixture. Top with deli meat and sliced cheese. Cover with top half of bread. Serve warm cut into wedges or wrap tightly and refrigerate until serving time.

Or, you can make soup for dinner and take the leftovers for lunch.

Mexican Chicken Soup


, Barefoot Contessa at Home: Episode, The Cat's Away


4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on

olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)

1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)

2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)

4 large cloves garlic, chopped

2 1/2 quarts chicken stock

1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed

2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander seed

1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional

6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas


For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.

March 3, 2009
It's back to basics at the supermarket

This is a meat and potatoes kind of week. Stores are going big on beef  with Raley's advertising tri tip roast for $2.77 a pound. Save Mart has cross rib roast for $1.77 a pound. To go along with the beef, there's Russet potatoes and jumbo artichokes.

But that's only the beginning. Here's the rest of the story:

At Save Mart, in addition to the cross rib roast and the jumbo artichokes at 2/$3, there are coupons for grape tomatoes (79 cents per container); baby carrots ($1.49 for a 2-pound pack) Farmer John links (49-cents each) and Bar S franks (79 cents each.) Sunnyside Farms bread is $1.79  a loaf; eggs are $2.69 for an 18-pack; and Foster Farms whole chickens are 99-cents a pound.

In produce, Roma or vine ripe tomatoes are 99-cents a pound; berries are 2/$5 and leaf lettuce is 79-cents a head.

But the best deals at Save Mart can be found in their tabloid ad that is good the entire month of March. Some examples: Crystal Geyser spring water $3.50 a case; Sargento deli sliced cheese for $3 and shredded cheese for $2.69. Sunnyside Farms ice cream is $2.99 a quart and Gatorade drinks are $1 each. There's a yummy recipe inside for Irish Cream Brownies and Easter treats are already on the shelves.

If you shop Safeway, get out the scissors. On the front of the ad, you'll find coupons for DiGiorno pizza for $3.97; Oreo cookies for $1.29 and Classico Pasta Sauce for $1.47.And inside you'll find coupons for Simply Orange juices $1.99; Knorr-Lipton sides 88-cents each; Dole fruit bowls $1.67 and Tide or Cheer detergent $5.99.

Safeway's 48-hour weekend sale includes frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts $1.69lb; Refreshe water $2.99 a case and Angel Soft bath tissue or Sparkle paper towels for $4.99.

A buy 5 save $5 sale includes cereal as cheap as 99 cents a box for Kellogg's corn flakes or Quaker Life cereal. Other varieties include Post Raisin Bran and Fruity Pebbles ($1.49 each); Honey Nut Cherrios and Mini-Wheats ($1.99 each).

If you're bringing your lunch these days, check out Oscar Mayer deli shaved lunchmeat 2/$5 and in the deli dept. pan roasted turkey breast $4.99 a pound with Club Card and $2 off  coupon. BOGOs worth mentioning include Foster Farms variety pack lunchmeat; Hillshire Farm smoked sausage; Bar S Jumbo beef franks; Stagg chili with beans and Celestial Seasonings tea. 

If your house needs cleaning before we switch over to Pacific Daylight Time on Sunday, Lysol wipes are BOGO; Scotch-Brite sponges  are buy two, get one free; Comet is $1 per can and Softsoap liquid hand soap is $1.

In produce, large oranges are 99-cents a pound; limes are 5/$1; red bell peppers are 2lbs/$3 and cucumbers are 69-cents each.

The Friday $5 special is meatloaf. Grab a container of Signature Cafe soup for $3.99 and you have a nice hot meal.

Raley's has you covered with an easy recipe for Italian Marinated tri tip ($2.77 a pound); 2 pounds of Russets for $1 and crusty French bread for 97-cents. You'll be clipping at Raley's, too, with a coupon for a 12-pack of Dasani water or Coca-Cola for $2.99 and Yoplait yogurt for 48-cents. Other dairy savings include 32oz. of Sunnyside Farms cottage cheese for $2.99 and two pounds of butter for $1.89.

In produce, large oranges are 59-cents a pound; zucchini is 99-cents a pound; tomatoes on the vine are $1.99 and bagged carrot chips are 99-cents.

Michelina's frozen meals are $1 each; Tina's frozen burritos are 10/$4; frozen veggies are 2/$3 and Marie Callender's large pot pies are $2.50 each.

About Shop Cheap

Pam Dinsmore is The Bee's Community Affairs Director. When she's not working, she's shopping. The goal of this blog is to help you save time and money at the grocery store. She's pretty good at it but she can't do it alone. That's where you come in, sharing your tips and secret methods for saving money. You can either respond to the blog or email her at

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