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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Getting the grocery budget back in line: stuffed baked potatoes

I've been making stuffed baked potatoes often this winter, with our abundant supply of potatoes from November's 100 pound purchase. These baked potatoes make a nice addition to lunches, in lieu of snacky-type items like chips or crackers.

Anyways, I did have a small supply of cottage cheese to add to them. But that is now gone. So, to make this batch of stuffed baked potatoes, without any type of cheese, whatsoever, I had to get creative in the kitchen.

After baking these, I scooped out the shells, and added some sour cream, salt, butter, frozen chopped spinach, and for flavor, I added sautéed chopped onions. Mashed all of this together and baked for about 20-25 minutes at 350 F, until just browned.

Quite delicious! We think of these as finger food. I've eaten a few cold, as well as reheated.

So, another food item, easy to make, and keeps my family satisfied, without a trip to the grocery store. March 4th and the budget is still intact.

If you're currently trying to get an unruly grocery budget back in line, please share what you're doing. Maybe we can help each other out here, and end March under-budget!



  1. Looks very nice, good idea! I almost forgot about stuffed potatoes. I ate them a lot in Turkey, where it was (student affordable) streetfood. Here is a video how they make them over there:
    You can choose yourself what you want, I mostly ate them without the cheese (kasar penir) and with one or two toppings. As you can see in the video they even use sliced sosis (kind of hotdog from a can). You can make this kind of toppings and then let the family make their own kumpir :)

    1. Streetfood, wow, I never thought of baked potatoes as street food! The versions you've tried do sound yummy!
      I'll check out that youtube -- thanks1

  2. That sounds good! I've never made stuffed baked potatoes before. A potato bar is another fun snacky meal idea--just top with whatever you have on hand (maybe recycle your veggie chili from earlier in the week?). You have so many good ideas, Lili.

    I'm sure you already do this, but baked home fries are fun, and for me, they fit into the "veggie" category (I know many people don't think of potatoes as vegetables....). If you have a mandoline, you can make your own potato chips in the microwave. I was really doubtful the first time I heard about it, but they taste absolutely wonderful, like kettle chips--you'd have to Google it, but the basic idea is to slice a potato thin with a mandoline, spritz the slices lightly with oil or cooking spray, add salt/pepper if needed, and cook on a microwave plate till done (took me 8-10 minutes, but the online recipes called for much less time). I know that doesn't qualify as a meal, but it's a fun side and you get to control the ingredients.

    1. Hi Kris,
      The only attempt at potto chips was many years ago, and no mandolin. But a landline would certainly make the work easier. I'll look into making micowave chips. thanks for the suggestion. And yes, we do oven fries a lot, because they'e just so easy for the cook. Mine come out like jo-jo potatoes -- kinda largish fries. But still so good.

  3. This is one of our favorite meals and oh so frugal. Definitely helps lower your grocery bill. Your version sounds great!

    1. Thanks, Belinda!
      I'm going to be sad when the fall-purchased potato supply is gone! Then I have to wait for new potatoes from the garden!

  4. Those look really yummy! I may have to try some. I have to tell you, your suggestion for keeping flavorful liquids from rinsing out jars etc has done wonders for my soups. Juice from canned olives & mushrooms in particular adds great flavor!

    Anyhow, I tallied up my spending for 2014 and was shocked & horrified by the amount I spent on groceries - $3500 for one person (OK - one person who never eats out and, has a VERY full freezer in the basement and makes a fancy dinner for her sweetie once a week, but still...) So I'm trying to get a bit more frugal in the food department.

    So far the winners have been:

    - Oatmeal for breakfast instead of omelettes
    - Having "refrito wraps" for lunch - I define "refritos" broadly as any bean spread, not just pintos - I even made it with blackeyed peas once!
    - Zucchini boats - I actually made these last fall when the harvest got out of hand & stuck them in the freezer. It was also a good way to use up a lot of lentils, rice & quinoa that was hanging out in the pantry.
    - Getting creative with iceberg lettuce. Iceberg usually only costs $.99/head, but I have a hard time eating a whole head of lettuce before it goes bad. So I have discovered that if you shred it you can actually add it to soups or stir-frys and it blends in just fine!
    - Buying whole chickens instead of pre-cut pieces. It's much cheaper that way and gives you more stuff for making soup.

    Next on my list is to get serious about using up the 2 giant boxes of winter squash from the garden. And I'm setting a goal of eating through the freezer by July so I can clean and defrost it before the next harvest arrives.

    1. Hi Cat,
      I really do love olive juice/liquid in soups. Since I began saving that canned liquid, I would never, now think to throw it out!

      Your zucchini boats sound really yummy! I will remember that this summer. Did you freeze some already stuffed?

      Yeah,the whole chicken price per pound is a budget-saver. I used to buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but just can't do that right now.

      God luck with the winter squash, and your goal to get the freezer cleaned out! I keep thinking that soon mine will be empty, but then I find something else to fill it back up! It needs a major defrost!

  5. With sour cream and butter, I'm not sure anyone would notice the cheese was missing. I haven't made stuffed potatoes in a long time. Gonna have to add them to the menu soon.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      They were really quite yummy. Today I topped a couple of them with pizza sauce and that was a delicious lunch. You wouldn't think that tomato sauces would be good on potatoes, but it's really quite tasty! I guess like ketchup on fries, only not sweet.

  6. These look great. I love baked potatoes. Another favorite dish of ours is Potatoes O'Brien: Ever try that? It's so good. I just bought 6 bags of 8lb taters for $.79 each. I could eat potatoes everyday! LOL

    1. Hi Margaret,
      I've never made Potatoes O'Brien, but I'm going to check that recipe out, pronto! Thanks for sharing with me.

      You got a stellar deal on those bags of potatoes, for this time of year! That's roughly what we paid per pound, back in November, but i wouldn't expect to find a price that good in late winter. Enjoy your potato bounty!


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