Food & Wine

  • New York Pix 11 Savings Squad: How to Shrink Your Grocery Bill

    grocery bill pix11 valerie pierre mommyrandr

    I appeared on New York PIX 11 Savings Squad – How To Shrink Your Grocery Bill. The segment hosted by Kirstin Cole spoke how “the average U.S. family spends about $800 a month on groceries“.

    grocery bill valerie pierre mommyrandr

    I spend less than that because we live with my mother-in-law and she cooks twice a week, saving me two days of groceries and I don’t cook on Saturday’s, we have take out. Which still counts toward food just not in the supermarket category. For the days I do cook, I meal plan for the week and I try to save money any way I can. As I stated in the segment, I shop using store rewards cards, clipping coupons, using store apps like Cartwheel for Target, I bulk shop once a month at BJ’s for meat and other popular items for the kids and I always shop sale items.

    Kirstin enlisted the help of Lynnette Khalfani Cox, the Money Coach, to teach families additional ways they can shop smarter in order to keep up to $1,000 in their bank account at the end of a four-month period.

    Lynette gave these tips to help save money:

    • Leave the kids at home. They are attracted to bright packaging which can be more expensive.
    • Avoid the pre-cut fruit. If the store has to cut it for you then you can bet it will cost more.
    • Know your seasons for fruits and vegetables so you know when and when not to buy them.
    • Shop the unit price, which is the cost of one unit of measure of an item. You could be spending more for less.

    Read the complete story for all of the tips in detail here and watch the segment below.

    For the entire month of June, I will be tallying up how much we as a family spend on groceries and other household goods for the month and try to save a minimum of $600 by shopping using Lynette’s techniques.

    Do you know how much you spend a month on your grocery bill? What are some ways that you try to save money?

    Thank you, Kirstin Cole, Lynnette Khalfani Cox and the NY PIX 11 team for the opportunity to participate in the Savings Squad segment.


    Anyone who knows me knows I cannot cook. I can make a couple of things here and there, but really my specialty is mixing cocktails. In my group of friends that counts for a lot, but it holds no weight when I’m serving small children. So when the opportunity came around to take a cooking session with Jory of Teeny Tiny Foodie I jumped at the opportunity. That hour that I spent learning and cooking with her has turned my world around.

    Teeny Tiny Foodie

    Teeny Tiny Foodie offers classes to prepare easy to make vegetarian meals that not only can be done in under an hour, but also meals the entire family will love. Jory is Brooklyn based so it was easy for me to make my way to her home for our class. If you want her to come to yours she can do that too. But since I’m with my in-laws, it was better roll into her neck of the woods.

    Jory welcomed me with open arms into her lovely home and into her fabulous kitchen. Let me just put it out there, she has the kitchen that dreams are made of. It’s bright, airy and spacious. Pretty much the opposite of almost every kitchenette in Brooklyn. Because we were on a cooking schedule she took the liberty of having everything partially started, like chopped bread, shredded carrots and grated cheese. She explained everything we would be preparing, each ingredient that would go into it and why they’re paired together.

    She showed me how to prepare 2 vegetarian dishes:


    Teeny Tiny Foodie


    • 8-10 slices of day -old bread or baguette, cut into 1/4  inch chunks (you want enough to fill the bottom of a 9×12 inch baking pan)
    • 6 egg whites and 6 whole eggs, whisked
    • 1/4 cup of milk
    • 2 raw carrots, peeled and grated
    • 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • Chili powder and/or cumin, to taste


    • Heat oven to 325 degrees an grease a 9×12 inch baking dish.
    • Slice the bread chunks and spread them in an even layer on the bottom of the baking dish.
    • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs , milk, salt, pepper and spices.
    • Grate the carrots.
    • Stir the carrots and cheese into the egg mixture and mix well. Pour mixture into the baking dish and bake for 45-55 minutes or until set.
    • Let rest around 5 minutes before enjoying.

    (this meal will serve 6-8 adults)

    Teeny Tiny Foodie



    Teeny Tiny Foodie


    • 1 box of whole wheat pasta such as penne, farfalle or shells
    • 1 bag (16 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed in the refrigerator over night
    • 1/2 small onion, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
    • Zest of 1 lemon
    • Juice of 2 lemons Shredded parmesan cheese, to taste
    • Olive oil, salt, pepper, to taste
    • Chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or basil, to taste
    • 1 mug of reserved pasta cooking water
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter


    Cook the pasta

    Cook the pasts according to the directions on the package. Scoop out one mugful of pasta water and set aside. After the pasta has cooked, drain it and return it to the pot.

    Prepare the vegetables

    Heat a large pan over medium heat and add around 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add the garlic cloves and heat for around 20 seconds. Add the chopped onion, a pinch of salt and stir. Cook the onions and garlic for around 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the thawed vegetables to the pan, another pinch or salt and stir. Cook the vegetables for 1 minute and add the mug of pasta water. Turn up the heat and let the water boil around 1 minute. Add the lemon juice, butter, salt and pepper. Stir and taste. Adjust seasoning as desired.

    Put it all together
    Remove and discard the garlic cloves. To the pan add the cooked pasta, lemon zest and parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust spices as desired.

    (this meal will serve 6-8 adults)

    Teeny Tiny Foodie

    I am not a vegetarian. I am very much a meat and potatoes person but this session gave me and my family the opportunity to try something new. And guess what? It was a hit! Everyone loved it!

    Jory was such a pleasure to hang out and cook with. She is very knowledgeable, as you will see from the video, really knows her way around the kitchen. She has give me and my lack of cooking skills a new lease on life.

    If you would like to schedule a cooking session for you or for your children visit her cooking menu page for options. For pricing and other questions please feel free to reach out to her at jory@teenytinyfoodie.

    I filmed our cooking session but it didn’t come out the way that I thought it would in my mind…

    Also, during your cooking session with Teeny Tiny Foodie you will get your very own apron. Please note the aprons do not come with the class. Jory was kind enough to let me take this one home. If you would like to purchase your very own can do so at $25. These are only available through Teeny Tiny Foodie.

    Thank you again Jory it was such a pleasure and I look forward to cooking with you in the future….some fish dishes next time.

    Photo Credit: Teeny Tiny Foodie

    * Please note all opinions in this piece are my own. My only compensation for this piece was a complementary cooking class and apron.
    **Jory and her family have since left Brooklyn. They went a little north but she is very much still accessible for cooking classes.

  • What Are Mommy Only Potluck Parties? And How to Host Your Own

    mommy only potluck parties valerie pierre mommyrandr

    The origins of the mommy only potluck parties started when my friends and I realized it would be cheaper and funner (yes, I said funner), to cook and eat at each others house than go out. You see, we used to meet up at restaurants but we found ourselves guilty of being a disturbance to other patrons. We would loudly and unabashedly talk about sex, men, and life. This would cause us to annoy other diners and linger way past closing, to the point where a restaurant turned off the lights around us.

    But in the midst’s of being hilariously obnoxious and crass the potlucks were needed as a way to get the time we desperately needed to reconnect with one another. And it’s not that we don’t see each other over the course of the year, we do, it’s just that sometimes we’re not all available to hang out at the same time. The potluck forces us to pump the breaks on whatever is happening in our lives in order to make time for ourselves and the women we love in our lives.

    The potlucks also serve as a way for us to tap into our creative culinary and decorating sides. We come up with party theme ideas and research all the recipes. This takes weeks of preparation. So why do we go all out? Uhhh, isn’t it obvious? Because we deserve it.

    So now that you know what mommy only potlucks are and why my friends and I have them here are the tips we use to host your own:

    Pick a date that works for everyone

    Getting a group of moms together always seems like a hard thing to pull off but when you’re determined to make the event happen I you’ll make it happen. Also, don’t worry if the date is two months away. That’s okay cause remember to point is to make sure that everyone can attend.

    Pick a location

    Usually, we just rotate the houses but sometimes someone volunteers because maybe one person’s house isn’t company ready yet or doesn’t have enough space. You can pick whatever works best for your group.

    Choose a theme

    You don’t have to have a theme, but it adds to the fun. You can visit Amazon for some great decoration and theme ideas. Previous themes we’ve had were Hawaiian, #Ibeendrakin #Watermelon, and Healthy Eating. The best thing about themes is that you can make it whatever you want it to be.

    Discuss menu

    Once you know what your theme is going to be its time to talk about what everyone is gonna make. Because there is a small number of us it’s easy for each person to prepare one thing from each of the food groups, plus bring a bottle of alcohol or juice. It is a golden rule that every one supplies one dish and one drink. Store brought is okay but the goal of the event is to cook from the heart.

    Decide on a per person budget

    Usually, the budget for us is $30 or less each person. When everyone sticks to it no one person can feel as though they’ve paid more when others have paid less. It also keeps the preparer from having to make so much food for such a small group of people. There will be enough to eat and for everyone to take a plate home.

    No men or kids allowed

    The mommy only potluck parties are supposed to be man and kid free. If the dinner is taking place at your home, of course, partners and kids can pop in to say hello but remember this dinner isn’t for them. This is YOUR bonding time.

    Choose a designated driver

    This is the most important step. Our parties usually involve a shit ton of alcohol which means someone has to stay sober in order to drive everyone home. If that’s not an option call an uber or just sleep over where the potluck is taking place.

    I hope my tips to help you host your own potluck party. We’ve been living by them for the last 5 years and they’ve all been a hot mess success. Happy planning and hosting your mommy only potluck parties!


    picnycsMy favorite picnic delivery service is coming back Memorial Day weekend! Last year I introduced you to Picnycs a mobile food delivery service based in New York City that delivers a packed meals to local parks. I profiled them as one of my favorite caterers and services.

    If you’re unfamiliar with them, they deliver fresh, healthy and affordable lunches to parks in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Sorry Queens, maybe soon. This is my favorite neighborhood service because now you can have play dates and mommy only meet ups in the park without the need of carrying an extra bag of food with you. Ordering from them is very easy, place a single or group order via your mobile device or tablet, select the park location where you’d meet the delivery, collect your delivery and go enjoy your picnic. Don’t worry if your picnic is a spur of the moment as you can place a same day delivery.

    PicnycsYou can begin placing orders for baskets starting on Saturday, May 23 when they launch for the season. You can view a sample of their menu before their site launches so you can see what they have to offer, as well as a listing of the parks that they will be delivering to this year. And be sure to stay tuned as I will be hosting a picnic giveaway for 2 lucky moms to enjoy a lovely picnic in the park of their choosing. Details will follow soon. 

    If you have additional questions for the folks at Picnycs complete their contact form and they will get back to you. Tell them Mommy R+R sent you. Happy picnicking!

    Photo Credit: Picnycs