Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 5, 2023

We have had an exceedingly cold, wet spring. Things in the greenhouse are growing, but very, very slowly, in some cases. Peppers are having the most trouble, because they love more heat than we have right now. The tomatoes are looking great, as are all the cool-weather crops such as onions, cabbage, broccoli, etc.

Despite the fact that we had SNOW again, my little lettuces are still alive. Once it warms up (if that ever happens), they will take off. The seeds I planted in the garden a few weeks ago are sprouting, as well. I have French Breakfast radishes and Buttercrunch lettuce up. The beets are just coming up, as of yesterday.

I’m worried about the Maestro peas, though, since the crows have been out there feasting. Some are up, and it remains to be seen how many seeds those crows left.

I’m still working on this cabbage that Rob found in the garden a few weeks ago. I used another part of it in a huge salad I made last night for the young adults group we cook for on Tuesdays. It’s holding up really well.

Last evening, we cooked for the entire group, not just for the gluten-free ones. That’s about 25, plus the usual gf 5. Rob had cooked a ham on Monday and we boiled the bone for broth. I made a large crock pot of ham and bean soup and sent that over.

We also pulled a turkey from the bottom of the chest freezer and cooked it, took the meat off the bone, and made broth. From the meat, I made huge turkey-noodle casseroles–2 large pans from some regular wheat noodles I’d gotten for 50c/package a long time ago with regular Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, and 1 small one using gf pasta and gf cream of mushroom soup. Walmart carries a nice canned gf cream of mushroom soup that works well in casseroles for under $2/can. I added a bag of frozen mixed veggies, peas, dried onion, odds and ends of several kinds of cheese that were in the fridge, and baked it all together.

Some bananas that were looking sad became a banana-walnut bundt cake and I used berries from the garden with canned apple slices to make a crisp. Both were gf, so everyone could eat the same desserts. I had never made that cake before, but found the recipe in an old cookbook. It was SO good. It’s a keeper and I’ll make it again.

Rob got several bags of grapes for 97c/lb on sale at Safeway and I cut a large plate of grape clusters. I used one head of lettuce, one leaf lettuce head, 2 carrots, some red cabbage and cherry tomatoes to make a large tossed salad.

I made another batch of the beefy-basil pesto soup. We love that soup so much I’m already running low on my pesto. I make it from garden basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and parmesan and freeze in ice cube trays.

I went shopping and got a few things–spent about $45. I’ll go again later in the week and finish up any last minute shopping for Easter.

My counter and dish drainer are both filled with drying baggies. I know I’ve used lots of freezer items this past week, since I pulled both a turkey and a ham out, as well as all the fruits and veggies from those bags. SO WHY IS MY CHEST FREEZER STILL SO FULL? Maybe it’s just fluffed up? That is the question of the century, and a mystery that only Sherlock Holmes could solve, I’m afraid. I’m still working on that project this month–it’s now “clean-the-freezer April.”

I even canned a load of turkey broth so I didn’t have to freeze it! Of course, I did freeze the rest that didn’t fit into the canner, plus the ham broth that wasn’t used in the ham and beans ….a little bit of the mystery explained.

I used broccoli, peas, frozen beans and corn, broth, meat bits and pieces, baked goods, bread, and proteins such as fish, burger, etc. I’ve also emptied many, many jars this past week.

We celebrated our daughter’s birthday Friday, and I made a huge chocolate layer cake. Yum! I also made her lasagna, which she requested. It was simple and tasted great.

Because I have used so much freezer and pantry food, I was able to cut my normal weekly grocery budget drastically in March. Since our grocery budget is purposefully quite small, we always use every cent, but I was able to send some in other directions than our local grocery store this time. (We’ve tried to set the amount at what we actually need to spend and seem to be in the ballpark) I saved some in my envelope for the 1/4 beef we get each fall, and am using the rest for an Azure Standard order (bulk food and some cleaning supplies and soap). I’m especially happy about already setting aside money toward the beef–I’ve really made progress towards that in the last 2 months.

I will not be one of those people who let the pantry go all the way down to zero–that makes it impossible to eat from the pantry any more without a huge, huge, expensive stock-up. I like to just fill gaps as I make them with fresh supplies and keep rotating what is there.

10 thoughts on “Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 5, 2023”

  1. Those meals sound so delicious!!! I wonder if you could share the recipe for the beefy-basil pesto soup?

  2. Would you be willing to share your recipe for the beefy basil pesto soup? Sounds delicious! 🙂

  3. Oh my, the freezer! It is the same here! We are working hard to keep our pantry full here as well. We are working the deals every week and will not let ours dwindle either.

    1. We are actually getting some really good deals now and then, such as $1.47 chicken breast, and 87c/lb drumsticks, pork for around $1/lb once in a while, etc. I love putting those things in the freezer for when they are regular, higher prices and pulling them out to eat then.

  4. Sounds like a week of really wonderful meals! The more I read about the things you are canning, the more I want to consider getting myself a canner! I’ve done stove top water bath canning using a large pot for my jams and chutneys, etc. But, I think a pressure canner is needed for anything else, such as broth, isn’t it?

    1. Yes. I use a pressure canner for my low-acid foods, such as vegetables like beans, carrots and corn. It’s also used for meat, broth, fish, soups, etc. I have more than one so I can get 2 going at once when I have a lot to preserve. Some were from my grandmothers–they are seriously antiques, but work fine. One has a part that broke that’s irreplaceable since it’s so old, but most things can be purchased now if something breaks. Others are from people who didn’t want to can anymore or yard sales. Every few years, we have the pressure gauges tested on the two I use most and get new seals, if needed, for the ones who use them.

  5. What an awesome head of red cabbage! Its color was a fuchsia pink on my computer screen so I’m sure it is my computer’s color being off balance. Last year I noticed bugs didn’t bother my red cabbages like they did my red ones. Have you noticed any difference?
    I canned two new to me things this week, pineapples purchased for $.88 each and asparagus purchased for $1.00 a pound. We haven’t opened either and tasted them yet so I don’t know if we will like them. In each case, the home-canned jars were way cheaper than store-bought. Each pineapple produced at least 3 pints (stuffed full not mostly juice) and I forgot to figure out how much each jar held for the asparagus. I used my 1 1/2 pint size jars so the asparagus could be longer. One jar sells for $2.90 to $3.90 at my store. Sheesh! It only had a handful in each one.
    I keep trying to learn new cost-saving skills every week and I always get ideas from you.

    1. The lowest pineapple has gone down to is $1.50/each around here. That’s crazy because I’m in Oregon and should be able to get it easier from Hawaii. But, I’ve heard that most comes from South America or other places now-days….I did buy one to eat, since that is still a decent price.

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