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Cella's Recipe Corner: Tips to save money on food

SPRINGVILLE — Many people may recognize this conundrum. My bills were growing, but my pay was static. I needed to find a quick fix.

That was when I remembered Benjamin Franklin and his advice, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” I discovered that I could save a lot of money, at the grocery store.

I began to cut back immediately, by shopping every two weeks, instead of weekly.

The longer you spend in a store, the more money you will spend. It is not hard to plan ahead and I was able to buy for two weeks, in the same time I used to shop for one. As a bonus, I had an extra 4 hours, per week, to do something at home.

Meat was one of my biggest expenses, a problem I solved by purchasing my meat from a butcher, in bulk, and cutting, wrapping and freezing it, myself.

Chef Todd Mohr agreed to let me share some of his money-saving tips, which can be applied to families, as well as hospitals and restaurants.

Buy meat in bulk and cut and package the meat into usable portions, when you get home. Store it in the freezer. Buy a digital scale, to weigh out portions.

Cook only what will be eaten. Use the correct cooking method, to avoid disappointing results.

Learn how to cook your ingredients, in many different ways.

Prevent food spoilage, by purchasing your food from the closest food source. Shop at the local farmer’s market. Food there is cheaper, fresher and of better quality, than that offered in the supermarket. The spoilage clock starts ticking, the moment the produce is picked or the meat is processed, not just when you buy it.

Store your food items correctly, after purchase, to avoid spoilage. Buy packages of food with the most distant expiration date. During the summer, bring a cooler of ice in your car, in which to store your perishables, after you shop.

Buy a thermometer to check your refrigerator and freezer temperatures. The refrigerator should be at 34 – 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezer temperatures should be 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

The refrigerator side door is the warmest part of the refrigerator. Store eggs and milk in the coldest part, the top left corner. Clean your refrigerator often and keep foods wrapped, to protect them from light and air.

Learn to use the first in, first out system. Eat what you have.

Scalloped potatoes made with Béchamel sauce

If you want onions and ham in the scalloped potatoes, layer them with the potatoes and sauce.

1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
5 large potatoes, peeled and sliced (5 cups)

Heat a medium-sized saucepan over low heat, until a drop of cold water evaporates in the pan. Melt butter and stir in flour, to make a roux. Cook and stir, until the proteins are cooked out. At first, the edges will be bubbles of white and then the surface of the roux mixture will contain white bubbles.

Gradually stir in cold milk, whisking, to keep it smooth. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes, until the mixture is thickened and bubbly.

Place potatoes in a greased 9-by-9-inch baking dish. Add sauce and stir gently, to mix in.

Cover the baking dish and bake in a 350-degree oven, for 30 minutes. Uncover. Bake until potatoes are tender, when pierced with a fork, approximately 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

Ham and potato casserole

This recipe is good, with or without the ham.

2 cups cubed potatoes
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup water
3 cups cubed, cooked ham
2 tablespoons diced onion
3 tablespoons butter
1/4-plus cup butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Crushed cornflakes

In a saucepan, cook potatoes, carrots and celery in water, until crisp tender. Drain and set aside.

In a saucepan, sauté ham, onion and 3 tablespoons of butter, until onion is tender. Combine the vegetables and ham mixtures.

Make a roux, by melting 1/4 cup butter over low heat, in a small saucepan. Stir in flour and slowly cook, until white bubbles’ forming across the surface show that the protein from the flour has been cooked out.

Slowly whisk in milk and stir, until thickened. Add cheese, salt and pepper to milk mixture. Combine all ingredients and place in a large baking dish. Sprinkle crushed cornflakes on top and bake in 350-degree oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

Spelt coconut blueberry muffins with palm sugar
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
3/4 cup organic coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Mix all of the ingredients, except for the blueberries, together, with a mixer. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Fill cupcake liners with batter and bake in a 350-degree oven, for 15 – 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack, to cool. Makes approximately 15 muffins.

Send your favorite family recipes to Marcella Stockin, 5200 Riceville Road, West Valley, New York 14171 or email Providing you with recipes to help make you the best cook in the neighborhood. Visit

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