Pantry Cooking: Lighten-Up! (Eat light while couponing)


We frugal foodies have unique challenges that normal shoppers don’t.  This little segment aims to help by offering:

  • Ideas for cooking from your stockpile or from what’s on sale
  • Clever Casseroles in which to hide your leftovers from the hubby & kids :)
  • Kitchen tips & tricks, and Freezer-cooking recipes

Thanks to DealDetectiveKim - who writes our weekly segment … take it away Kim!

It’s almost Memorial Day, and you know what that means–bathing suits are headed our way!  I don’t care who you are or what you look like, EVERYONE stresses over this.  I am no exception.  For many years, I was blessed with metabolism that moved at warp speed.  I ate anything and everything, and got totally spoiled, and then MY BODY BETRAYED ME!!  The last 5 years or so, it’s crept up, bit by bit.  My friends are kind, they swear they can’t tell a difference, but I can.  I am already struggling with not being able to eat all I want, when I want; the last thing I want is for it to get out of control–to wake up one day and realize my health is at risk because of the food choices I make.  So since last week I’ve been working on limiting my calorie intake and seeing what I eat and how much.  No chips.  No dip.  No candy bars (well, OK, but just ONE!).
I read an article by a former Biggest Loser competitor who’s also a police officer HERE Crazy hours, even crazier schedule, and he lost 133 lbs, most of it on his own after he was eliminated from the show.  His biggest tips were:
1. keep track of what you eat–every bit of it and
2. plan ahead for 5 meals/snacks a day, no more than 400 calories each.  (5×400=2,000 calories/day, which is all we all should be having anyway!)
Can you do this and still coupon?  Yes, you can!  Thursday for lunch I had a hot dog–plain with mustard, which was around 300 calories; for dessert I tried one of the new Skinny Cow crispy bars (100 calories).  I got everything at Bi-Lo: catalina for free Southern Home buns, Ball Park franks were BOGO and I used $1/1 coupon.  Someone else had not taken their BOGO Skinny Cow singles candy catalina, so I snagged it.  I’ve been drinking Crystal Light.  By the way, I started to get the all-beef hot dogs, thinking they’d be better for me, but believe it or not, the plain cheaper franks were 10 calories fewer AND had less fat–probably because they’re a mix of beef, pork, and turkey.  So watch your labels!
Thursday night for dinner I had:
Fantastic Feta Chicken
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast (130 calories)
  • Lemon juice (0 calories)
  • Fresh or dried oregano (0 calories)
  • Fresh ground black pepper (0 calories)
  • Feta cheese (90 calories for 1/4 cup crumbles; I used way less than half of that on one piece of chicken)

First off, I was planning ahead for lunch Friday, so I cooked two!  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place chicken in a casserole dish.  Sprinkle with lemon juice, pepper, and oregano, then put feta cheese on top.  (If you think the lemon flavor is too strong –I did– add some water or white wine to thin it out.)  Bake until chicken is done, about 30-40 minutes.
I had bought a bag of Springer Mtn. farms individually wrapped chicken breasts on sale with $1.50/1 coupon, used fresh oregano from my garden.  I didn’t have a coupon for the feta cheese, but I bought it anyway.  It was $3.19 for a 4 oz. package.  On the side, I microwaved some Green Giant frozen veggies (bought when they were $1 and $.60/3 coupon).  The ones I had (healthy vision mix) were 45 calories per serving, some were up to 100 calories per serving, but since the chicken is just over 200 calories per serving, you’re still ok, and you could even have 2 servings of veggies.  Since I only used 200 of my allotted 400 calories, I splurged on a Dove candy bar!  I know, Bad!!  I had the other piece of chicken and the rest of the veggies for lunch today.  Breakfast was a packet of high-fiber oatmeal (more fiber makes you feel fuller) (180 calories) and a cup of Voskos Greek Yogurt (130 calories, free a couple of weeks ago w/ coupons).  There was a $1.50/1 Springer Mtn. chicken coupon & a .55/1 Zone Perfect in this past week’s insert; I bought 6 papers!
I also had a catalina for a free dozen eggs from Bi-Lo; boiled eggs make a good breakfast or snack and they’re just 80 calories each.  Jim, the police officer whose article I referenced, said he would make a sandwich with 8 scrambled egg whites–the whites have 15 calories, the yolks have 65!  The Bi-Lo “buy theirs, get ours free” coupons this month include light ranch salad dressing; I’ve been packing 2 tablespoons of that (80 calories) with some baby carrots for one of my snacks.  (Using the coupon mentioned in the post about this, I got 2 16-ounce dressings for less than $2!)
Some other ideas:
Grill an extra piece of chicken and slice it up to go on a big salad.  If you go easy on the dressing, you could easily get a huge salad with sliced grilled chicken and a boiled egg for 300-400 calories.  Just watch those add-ons like croutons, bacon bits, cheese…those add a lot of calories.
Hummus (On sale at Bi-Lo this week for $1) is high protein; combine it with one serving of baked pita chips for around 200 calories.
I’ve been raiding my stash of Balance, Pure Protein, and Zone Perfect bars from coupons.  They’re about the same calories as a candy bar (and taste like one, too!) but they have tons of protein, rather than empty calories…so you can eat them, still get nutrition, and not feel deprived.
The best thing is to have a lot of this healthy stuff packed in your lunch bag; that way, when the hunger craving hits in mid-afternoon, you won’t be tempted to hit the vending machine!   Over the weekend, I saw on Food Network.  Her food is amazing, and everything is low-cal, packed with flavor, and focused on the biggest bang for your low-calorie buck.
My goal is to lose 10 pounds.  I’m going to start hitting the treadmill in the gym after work, but I got a huge boost yesterday when I weighed and I’d lost 2 pounds the first week.  Wish me luck, and feel free to share your story, either in the comments below or in an email.
One last tip: A cashier at Bi-Lo told me the employees there are NOT allowed to use catalinas left behind by customers.  So if you’re not proud, check out the garbage can by the self-checkout–a lot of them end up there!  :-)  Or just ask the cashier, sometimes they’ll give you what they have.  On a sad note, it looks like Bi-Lo’s birthday catalina-fest has ended.  :-)


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