Extreme Couponing – Do You Do It?

I’ve had this couponing article queued for a while to post about. I was reminded of it recently by register coupons I received at Hannaford, including ones for $2 off an overall shopping trip and for 75 cents off a product that’s only $1.39 in the first place (which really means 75 cents off two, since it was purchase of one that provoked the coupon dispensing algorithm).

Do you use coupons at all? A lot? To an absurd degree as depicted in the article?

, for reasons of time versus money, and of lameness of most coupons.

Lame? Yes. If it’s a convenience product I won’t use, or that is expensive even with a coupon – even a serious coupon – I am inclined not to bother. If it’s a new product you want me to take a chance on for the first time, where I might never have known of it or considered buying it otherwise, it had better be more than a dime off. Or more than a quarter off, if it’s costly enough in proportion.

Granted, I have not explored the world of coupons lately, so things may have improved, and there may be online options that didn’t exist before, but frugal doesn’t mean work your tail off for little return. Or worse, to waste money.

The extreme folks depicted in the article are impressive, but they have to plan, spend time at it, and work out the storage and food rotation issues. It’s not frugal if you won’t use it. It’s not frugal if it costs you too much in other ways.

Food Stretching With Pea Soup

It’s the season for ham to be on sale. While I didn’t go completely frugal, opting for a spiral cut ham at $1.39/lb rather than an uncut shank or butt ham for less, I do try to make the most of it.

There are all the ways ham can be served. With a meal as the meat centerpiece. With eggs. In a sandwich. But my favorite, using the bone and more of the meat than some people traditionally would, is to use the remnants of the ham as the basis of a pea soup.

I always loved my grandmother’s pea soup, and my mother has taken over doing a good job of it. What surprised me is the first time I ever made one , some 4 – 5 years ago, it was better than any pea soup I’d ever had, matriarchal or otherwise.

That was having no clue how to make one, and as usual taking my cues from recipes online. I’ve varied it, but basically it’s the same deal. I boil the bone and attached meat at some length and ultimately get it off the bone, then cook dry peas in the resulting broth with meat, maybe adding additional meat. There can be onion if I have any. There can be shredded carrot for variety, if I have any and feel like it. Seasoning is mostly the smoky meat and the flavor inherent in the peas, but besides some onion it’s most likely to involve bay leaf, maybe some garlic. I believe I’ve put in some red pepper flakes before, as I would for certain beef dishes.

I like split peas for cooking speed, and don’t mind the mushier texture. Turns out my grandmother prefers whole peas. The time I tried them, it seemed like they took forever to get done. She actually starts with them and adds the meat, where I automatically started by cooking down the meat, as I would with a chicken or turkey carcass to make broth/soup. I like lentils so much, I’ve been tempted to make a lentil soup with ham, but have yet to try it.

Ham is easier to deal with than poultry, in terms of separating out the bone/joint pieces later. My chicken soup almost always has a piece of bone lurking somewhere. Have yet to figure out a foolproof method. For that matter, have yet to settle on a method I prefer for separating the bones after cooking a chicken carcass into submission. Perhaps the closest I’ve come to foolproof was to use a pasta insert that came with my big stock pot, allowing me to pull the solids entirely out of the broth easily, then pick through and throw in what belonged in the transformation to soup. But I digress.

One of my projects for the day is to make pea soup. Thought I’d make a note of it here, since it fits the theme.

Do you make soups like pea soup, chicken, turkey, or otherwise to stretch more food out of what might be marginal leftovers or discards? Any other stretching ideas?

Culinary in the Desert

I’d like to make note of a favorite food blog of mine

, albeit not one focused on frugality. It is Culinary in the Desert and there’s always something droolfully amazing there.

I haven’t fixed this place to have a blogroll yet

, but they will be on it. What’s odd is I never developed much of a food blog or related sites blogroll/link list over there. I’d like to do better in this place.

As such, I am open to suggestions…