[Bits and pieces] Andy Rooney rants, chicken pox lollipops and other food news from the web, 11.7.11

(Blogger’s note: The $10 Challenge will return this Friday. Try to contain your excitement.)


  • Oh, Andy Rooney. My favorite curmudgeon and 60 Minutes staple died Friday at age 92. Rooney is best known for his rants about, well, everything, but check out these clips of him complaining about food and drink. (Eater National)
  • The Girl Scouts will sell lip balm at Claire’s and Wal-Mart in the flavors of the group’s famous cookies. I approve whole-heartedly. (Jezebel)
  • The Simpsons will air a “food celebrity bonanza” episode Nov. 13 featuring animated versions of at least 10 celebrity chefs. The show centers around Marge becoming a food blogger. So is my life now imitating art, or is art imitating life? (Eater National)
  • Dippin’ Dots, an ice cream company based in Paducah, Ky.(!), has filed for bankruptcy. If Dippin’ Dots was the ice cream of the future, things are looking pretty grim. (Best Week Ever)
  • Parents, please don’t mail these lollipops that some kid with chicken pox has already licked. I get that some parents are trying to infect their kids with chicken pox through these lollipops to avoid vaccinations, but this is illegal — and gross. (Associated Press)

Here’s what I learned about food and money during year of living modestly as a VISTA

I didn't have a lot of this during the past year. Photo courtesy of AMagill via Flickr.

As an AmeriCorps VISTA, I earned a “modest living allowance” while I completed my term of service.

Translate that as you wish.

I was recently hired by the organization where I served as a VISTA for the past year. But the new habits I developed to save money have become a permanent part of my life, even though I make a slightly higher income.

I started this blog as a way to explore how to spend money on good food when I didn’t have much in my wallet. I’ve learned a lot and had fun doing so. But a few food lessons stick out.

  1. There is a huge difference between a need and a want. I need food. That’s a given. But do I need to spend $20 on an entree? Do I need name-brand shredded cheese? Do I need a new slow cooker? Not necessarily. I learned be more thoughtful and strategic in identifying my needs versus my wants and to find an appropriate balance.
  2. Buy more basic ingredients. A stocked pantry full of basics and motivation to cook have helped me survive between visits to the grocery store. For example, I wanted some cornbread to go with some beans I had bubbling in the Crock Pot, but I didn’t have any cornbread mix. I did, however, have a carton of cornmeal, milk, flour, an egg and the Internet. Twenty minutes later, homemade cornbread muffins without having to go out of my wallet. My new favorite staple? Oatmeal.
  3. Cut back on the packaged food. It’s tempting to buy bags of potato chips, granola bars and individual applesauce cups. But convenience items like these get expensive.
  4. Eat more produce. It’s cheap. It’s good for you. Nothing to dislike here. And trips to the farmers’ market are fun.
  5. Cook more. I learned to cook seven years ago when I had my first internship and discovered how expensive eating out is. I revisited my beloved cookbooks (along with plenty of food blogs) and went back to the kitchen to save money.
  6. Shop around. I read Sunday ads religiously to find the best deals around town. If Aldi doesn’t have something at the right price, there’s Kroger. Or Walmart. Or ValuMarket. Be willing to be patient when shopping to find the best deals.

How do you save money on food?

Bits and pieces: Trader Joe’s, Wal-Mart and other food news from the web, 1.24.11

Oh, snap. Is a Trader Joe's coming to Louisville? Photo courtesy of A Girl with Tea via Flickr.
  • Seems like there’s a lot of drama going around about a Trader Joe’s coming to Louisville. Business First of Louisville cites anonymous sources who say the specialty grocery store chain will make a home in the Shelbyville Road Plaza in St. Matthews. The Courier-Journal says Trader Joe’s is indeed “eyeing” Louisville for a new location. But wait, now the Courier-Journal blog Derby City Cents says it’s not going to happen – at least for two years. Yikes. Chris Otts from the C-J says that the latest on Trader Joe’s is that the store is interested in Louisville; the Derby City Cents post was an older entry. Sorry for the mix up.

  • Kraft has invented a vending machine that scans and analyzes your face to determine what you want to eat, according to Gawker. I can’t decide if this is awesome or creepy.
  • Wal-Mart will lower the amount of unhealthy salts, fats and sugars in its Great Value-brand packaged foods, according to an article in the New York Times. From the article:

The initiative came out of discussions the company has been having with Michelle Obama, the first lady … Aides say it is the first time Mrs. Obama has thrown her support behind the work of a single company.

  • Hillbilly Tea, a previous $10 Challenge site, hosts a knitting group on Sunday nights. Check out Consuming Louisville for more information. The restaurant has wonderful food, and the addition of knitting makes the place even better.