Category Archives: Menu plans

What Did We Eat? May 25, 2018



This week has been a week of “finishing up.”  Michaela finished up her school program and graduated last night.  Alissa and Ja’Ana finished up their schoolwork yesterday, as well.  I am almost finished correcting it, as I have worked all week on that project.  I finished up some mushrooms that were starting to “go” in omelets one day.


And, there were a lot of food items that needed finishing up as well.  Because the girls needed to do independent work, with only a bit of help, I cleaned my food storage shelves in-between helping them.  I found that we had finished up a lot of things, and have much left in other sections.  I am still searching for white rice.  I thought there was a lot, but….  There are a couple of other places to look in the garage before I despair:)

I decided that I would not shop this weekend as I usually do, but, instead, finish up some of the odds and ends I found while cleaning.  Clearly, we are not short on food:). On Thursday, I had a bean-cooking day.  I found dried beans tucked away in many locations and wanted to use some.

I cooked a package of mixed beans.  1/2 of it I used with a ham bone that had been previously frozen at the holidays to make ham/bean soup.  The other 1/2 I cooked plain, and froze for another day.


I soaked a huge amount of pinto beans, and threw in a few black beans that I wanted to finish up, added lots of various frozen peppers from 2015’s garden, a big onion that was starting to sprout, salt, and water, and put the Crock Pot on low all day.  Last night, I used my immersion blender to grind it up, and today, I’m going to freeze many, many little cartons of refried beans. There is another bowl, much larger than this one, as well.  We like the homemade kind so much better, but since I’ve been busy lately, we’ve had to resort to the canned ones, which are still good.

I also made a big pot of chili from the rest of the pinto beans.  I froze a few small containers of that for dinners for Rob and Patsy when I get home from work late, plus a few of the ham/bean soup.


I made more popsicles.  I used some canned pears that I am targeting, along with the crumbled up frozen raspberry bits that always collect in the bottom of the ziplock bags.  I cut the pears into very small chunks, stirred in the berries, poured some of the liquid from the pears in and added a very little sugar, since the berries are super tart.


I spooned it into the molds and froze the popsicles.  They were a big hit.  I’ve already made them again and anticipate doing it frequently.  You can see that I used some of the whole berries in the second batch, and they came out great as well.

We had salad a couple of times from our garden lettuce.

I am so happy to have the storage shelved wiped off and organized.  Now I know what categories I need to fill. I often fill things up in the spring, and shop very minimally during the summer.  With a shelf full of stored items, the freezers, my canned items, and the garden, we usually don’t need a lot on a weekly basis.  I have to put some money out up front, but it saves me a lot of time and money in the summer because I bought in bulk, and have the garden for produce, so I don’t have to spend time at the stores.

Rob and I slipped away and ate at Subway one night.  Big date:). But, I’ll take what I can get, and am happy for every moment I can spend with him.  I’m glad summer is coming because we will be able to work together with the kids.  We have lots of good ideas of things to do with them.

What Did We Eat? May 17, 2018


The beans were from the garden last summer.  The bread was part of a free loaf of French bread we won at Safeway’s Monopoly, which I sliced and froze after we won it.  The sauce was canned, purchased at Grocery Outlet for less than a dollar.  The meatballs were home-made and previously frozen for a quick dinner.  The noodles were gluten-free spaghetti, purchased for $1.47/box on sale in the past.


I cooked a spaghetti squash today.  For lunch, I ate meatballs and sauce on spaghetti squash noodles.  For dinner, I chose the gf pasta.  There was enough of the meal for lunch for me, lunch and dinner for all of us, and lunch for Rob tomorrow.

I made split pea soup from the ham broth I boiled down last week.  Patsy ate tortillas by the fistful.  Thankfully, I got so many on sale a couple of weeks ago that the supply is still strong.

Rob barbecued both chicken drumsticks and hamburgers.  IMG_5111

We ate home-canned dill pickles, green and yellow beans, jam, peaches, applesauce,  salsa and home-frozen corn.

Snacks: I made apple juice popsicles.  Patsy made applesauce muffins.  Lovana made popcorn.

Breakfasts:  scrambled eggs, various odds and ends of sausages, leftovers, cereal, fruit, bagels (they were on a major bagel kick this week–they ate LOTS of them!)

Lunches:  Sandwiches, gf frozen fish sticks, salad, corn dogs, hot dogs, leftovers.  Rob takes leftovers every day in his lunch.  We cook extra in anticipation of this.  For instance, we cooked a whole pound of hamburger into patties, ate some for dinner, and he took the other one for his lunch the next day.  He cooked a family pack of drumsticks and we ate them for several days for dinners and then lunches.


Plans for the week to come:  I need to do something with these reduced bananas.  I’m thinking banana muffins or banana bread.  The apples beneath them will become chunky applesauce with raisins and cinnamon.  They have been there for a few weeks and are not so crunchy any more.


My sister had an abundance of tomatoes left over from last week’s brunch.  I have cilantro in the garden, which came up volunteer next to the compost heap.  I will get some jalapeños tomorrow and make Pico de Gallo.

I will continue to pull items from the freezer and cupboards to use for meals this week. If I get time tomorrow, I want to jot down a few ideas of things I or Rob can make in a hurry, as this next week is pretty busy.  It’s working pretty well to pre-make some things for Rob to warm up in the evenings, since I don’t get home from work very early.  The other thing I sometimes do is set items out on the counter with instructions.  He can cook extremely well, but is often tired and out of inspiration when he gets home from work.  So, if he can grab and microwave, or do some simple tasks and get dinner, it works well. For me, it takes longer to think up dinner than it does to cook it, at least a lot of the time!

I went to the store yesterday to get milk, and while there, shopped for the week, at least that was the plan.  I did not buy things for any specific recipes, but instead bought what was on sale or things on my list I ran out of this week, and I will meal plan around that.  One notable purchase was 3-2 lb bricks of Tillamook cheese for $5 each.  You had to buy 3.  Usually you have to beg to get 1 at that price, so I was delighted and got 2 cheddar and 1 Colby-jack.  Cheese lasts a long time, so I may go back and get more tomorrow, since I already have things on the list–(like half and half)–crazy!! I WAS JUST THERE!!!  The plan was to get in, get out and stay out until next weekend!!  So much for that plan.   I’d better be disciplined when I go back in that store!!!




What Did We Eat? May 2, 2018


We had lots of great food this past week!  My most exciting thing were the artichokes from my plants in the garden.  They were small, but  tasty!  Patsy and I finished off all 4 (1 not shown in picture), with lots of butter.  Yum!

I was able to get a large amount of groceries right after I returned from Washington D.C., so really didn’t need much for the family this week.  We are still using them along with things pulled from my storage.   I did go shopping for fruit and other ingredients for the brunch last Saturday, and also got quite a few free items from Safeway that I’ve been incorporating into the menu.  I picked up 2 dozen eggs while I was at Safeway, but then a couple of days later, picked up 5 dozen at Costco for around $1/dozen, a better price.  We eat a lot of eggs, so I’m glad to be stocked back up.


I boiled a few more, as I usually keep boiled eggs on hand.  I grab them for quick breakfast food and for something to grab for a snack or lunch.


Of course, those strawberries were one of the highlights of the week.  People at the brunch gobbled them up.

We’ve been pulling items from the freezers and cupboards and pantry in the garage.


I made lasagna with a few noodles I had left in a box, and 1 layer of a yellow squash I made into flat noodles, some frozen spaghetti sauce I had previously made with a free Safeway can of tomato sauce added in, and some frozen cheese mixture I found in the freezer.  It used up lots of odds and ends, and we are still working on the pan I made (this picture is for illustration purposes only, it’s from another time–it had more noodles, this one had that summer squash in it instead of part of the noodles, but they look basically the same).


My bean supply from last summer seems to be growing!  Not really, but although we keep working on it, there are lots of jars and frozen containers left.  I will grow less beans this year, but I sure enjoy them.  We had them a few times this week.  We also ate some frozen corn.

Rob BBQ’d steak from the cow we bought last fall.  I made a whole chicken and used it several ways.  I made Sloppy Joe’s with a packet Safeway substituted for gravy that was my free item.  I added so many things to it to make it how we like it that I won’t bother with the packet next time–just make it from scratch like I usually do.  Still, free is a very good price and I’m grateful to have won the packet.  We had salmon from a package I bought on $5 Friday.  I had a couple of gluten-free fish sticks I had in the freezer.  We had lots of salads.

We ate pancakes that had been frozen another time, biscuits from the freezer, and several other odds and ends I pulled out.  I am starting to see a little wiggle space in the kitchen freezer, as well as the shop ones.  I had a pre-baked pizza crust getting dry in the freezer, and so made a simple pizza with a little Sloppy Joe sauce with mozzarella cheese on top.  Patsy ate some of that for dinner with her artichokes and salad.


Everybody has been enjoying the 77c/bottle apple juice.  In the end, we bought 17 of them, between Rob and I.  I have also been making popsicles with it, in my molds.  The kids love them, and it’s something Jake will eat that is healthy.  Patsy made a batch of brownies.  I was eating too many of them, so froze most of them and carried them out to the shop freezer.

We used up the Southwestern beans I made for the brunch last Saturday in tortilla shells, and there were a few quesadillas made by various family members this week.  I made potato pancakes from leftover mashed potatoes, an egg, and 2 green onions.

Some of the food items in the fridge are starting to be used up, but the yogurt supply remains large!  We got so much, for so cheap during that big shopping trip.   I want to clean out the fridge and keep using odds and ends from other places before I buy many groceries.

I plan to make chicken soup tomorrow out of the remaining bit of chicken.  There’s lasagna left.  There’s some leftover steak, and baked potatoes.  There’s lots of lettuce for salads.  There’s yogurt and sour cream and lots of eggs.  We will use up the leftovers in the next couple of days.

The milk supply will run out in a couple of days and I have extra kids this weekend, so need a few things for them to eat, so I will shop a little bit this weekend.

I will go back to Safeway, as I have a small handful of free item coupons to redeem.  The checkers have been very generous with the tickets, as the game is almost over, and the kids love opening them.  I love getting the small prizes, and have coupons for tuna, more gravy mix, bagels, a donut, and more tickets.  The awesome thing, is that they keep giving me more tickets when I redeem the free items!  Then, I win more free things!  I did buy a few items for my sister, and a couple of things I needed, because I understand that they have to make money somehow and I think it’s fair to do so, and the items were needed.

So, win-win for everybody, especially Michaela who has gotten to eat 2 free donuts so far:)  I took her to the store one day, and Jake another day, and practiced looking at prices, finding the items, talking about the difference between a good bargain and a bad  bargain, and so on.  They were both good outings.  Jake started opening the tickets in the back of the car until the seat was littered with the little bits of paper he tore off, so then we had a lesson in cleaning up the car.

The garden will be giving me some lettuce soon (in the greenhouse), green onions are growing, more artichokes will come, parsley and cilantro and basil (in greenhouse), and there are tiny beets, carrots spinach, and lettuce growing nicely.  I have much to do out there, but it’s started anyway.

What Did We Eat? March 22, 2018


I did not get over the flu, or whatever it was, as quickly as I wanted to.  Of course, to be honest, I have no patience for sickness and want it to be over with on the first hour:). But, even for me, this crud has lingered longer than normal.  I stayed home for a solid week.  That’s very rare for me.  I did not cook very much this week.  Rob did everything last weekend, and I joined in as I got better.

My sister sent some soup and my aunt, hard boiled eggs.  I had both of those.

Rob got some Chinese food when I first got sick.  I did not appreciate it as much as I usually do, but later, when I was a little better, I ate the soup a few times.  He and the kids slicked it up, and he finished it in his lunches.

He bought a rotisserie chicken and we ate that for several meals.  We ate it as it was.  He took some in his lunches.  I boiled the bones today, and he made some gravy from the broth.  He mashed potatoes and ate chicken gravy over mashed potatoes.  Twice. In one day.  It was good:)


There is 1 quart of broth left, which I froze.

I had some turkey left from the 20 lb one I cooked last week. Most of that ended up frozen for future meals. I made enchilada casserole, using corn tortillas and a can of sauce.  I’m so thankful I purchased another can when the one I had was used.  It really came in handy when I was not feeling well to be able to make dinner fast.  It went back on the list right away.

The kids made endless quesadillas from cheese and tortillas.  Good thing Rob got 10 pounds last weekend.  You would be amazed and a bit horrified at how much cheese got used this week, but thankfully, there’s lots left.

We cooked a frozen gluten-free pizza for me .  Last weekend, one of the kids bought pizza and they ate that.

I made a batch of no-bake mountain bars last evening.

We had salad a lot.  It was fast and easy.  We cooked a few green beans, as well, and Patsy ate quite a bit of applesauce.  I baked some potatoes and we ate them for several days.

It wasn’t a banner week, but we got through it with a few compromises.  Rob got through the 3 days he needed to work before getting off for spring break.  He always packs a lunch. His choice is the school cafeteria, and he often doesn’t get his lunch breaks at a predictable time.  He feels the school food is overpriced for what small amount he would be given, and also it is highly processed food for the most part.  So, he takes food with him.  We usually count on leftovers to fill his lunch pail.  I’m glad we made it through the week as well as we did, and am looking forward to a super fun week ahead, full of spring break activities and fun!

What Did We Eat? Apparently More Than I Thought:). March 15, 2018


Less than a week ago, I was blithely posting about how I wasn’t going to shop much this week–I didn’t need anything–and so on.  That’s not how it turned out!!

Last Saturday, I thawed pork with the intention of making Asian pork meatballs, a new recipe that called for water chestnuts, for the week ahead, as I often do.  I only use about 6 cans of water chestnuts per year, and last time I checked, I had some.  On Sunday, when I went to get them, I didn’t have them anymore.  Other people cook when I’m not here, and I’m very thankful they do, so this was not a tragedy, just a bump in the road.

Then, I noticed the A1 sauce was gone.  The Worchestershire sauce was nearing the bottom of the bottle.  The maraschino cherries were completely gone, even the juice which was used in popsicles.  We were down to the last bit of bread.  It became almost comical as I realized the peanut butter was again almost empty.  The mustard was almost gone.  The pineapple chunks were gone. As I checked things over, trying to cook for the week ahead,  I had to just laugh!  What are the odds of all of that running out in the same week?


I found that the Safeway app had a coupon for the laundry soap I always buy, for $4.75 per container.  I have paid from $11.99-14.99 on numerous occasions for the exact same container, so I though it was a mistake.  But, since I wanted to get the 2 packages of chicken breast for $1.49/lb that I was allowed, I headed over there after church on Sunday to check it out while I bought chicken.  (That is a really good price around here for the chicken).  The packages were huge, and I ended up with around 15 pounds of chicken–more than I expected to be allowed to buy.  The soap was not a mistake, so I got 4.  I repackaged and then froze the chicken, so we will have many meals from it.  I had a raincheck for bread, for 99c a loaf.  Water chestnuts were 99c/can, so I got 5.  We got Michaela a Coke and a donut–lucky girl–because you don’t break tradition without a good reason with that girl:).

I saved enough chicken out to make the stir-fry in the first picture, and the chicken parmesan in the second picture.  The Asian meatballs turned out great, when I finally made them Monday morning.  Rob made a large pot of white rice, which was used up this week for meals.  I just finished the last of the Jedi burgers tonight.

The extended family was very hungry on Sunday, and used up most of the food I had made and what was brought by others. We had soup, enchiladas, chips, and mountain bar no-bake cookies.  I had a little chicken-rice soup left for the week, but very little.  It’s gone now.  Rob shared that he needed lunchmeat and lunch stuff for the week ahead.  I hadn’t realized that,  so we went to Grocery Outlet and got a bunch of that kind of thing, snacks for his classroom (he’s an instructional aide and they give food out frequently–he takes things when he finds them cheap), and some produce.  Once we realized that we were shopping after all, we decided to get as much as we could for 2 weeks, and skip shopping this weekend. We made a good list, emptied out the remaining money in the grocery envelopes and spent it!

I got what I could there, and finished up at Winco.  I don’t want to go there on Sunday night ever again.  It was so busy, and it looked as if the shelves had been stirred and emptied.  They were out of pineapple, except some really expensive cans.  They were completely out of 1/2 and 1/2.  I did get some produce, and some other items I had on the list. So, I do have a couple of things to get this weekend after all, but not much! (Or so I think!!)

So, why did I go ahead and empty my grocery envelopes for all those groceries, some of which were not needs at all?  Clearly, we don’t need A1 sauce, for one, we just like it.  One reason is because I like to keep my pantry up as much as I can.  I don’t want to run my stockpile down too far.  It defeats the purpose of keeping one.  Yes, there are times when I just pay the asking price for something I only use 1 bottle of in a year, but for the vast majority of my shopping, I shop sales, discount stores, buy bulk items, and use coupons or grow, can and freeze my own.  To pass up laundry soap that is 1/3 of what I’ve paid at times, is only going to cause me to spend more in the future, because I will always wash clothes.  It doesn’t rot, so it’s a good choice to stockpile. (I know people make their own, but I continue to buy the kind that I know doesn’t make my husband break out in a rash, as many kinds do.)

When you cook at home as much as I do, some of these flavorful items make the food more palatable and less boring, which keeps us eating at home.  Also, the family ate things up, and seemed hungrier than usual (sometimes it happens).  So, I needed more of those often-used items as well as the rarely used ones.

I had grocery money to spend.  I wasn’t shopping because I couldn’t, I really thought I didn’t need this many things.  (I must be blind or kind of dingy!)  I knew the fridge was pretty bare, but I was trying to empty it so I could clean it!  (It’s very clean after the salas explosion last Saturday) If I had not had any budgeted money left this month (mine goes from mid-month to the next mid-month), I would have waited for things like maraschino cherries and focused on produce, bread, dairy and peanut butter.  I would have skipped some of the fresh produce, and used more canned and frozen.  I would have continued pulling items from the pantry and freezers for meals.  Now that I’m out of the amount I budgeted, I will choose to wait until I get paid again to load the envelopes up again.  I did save out enough for 1/2 and 1/2, pineapple and milk, if needed. Since I get paid in the next couple of days, we will not suffer a bit. (It was easy to cruise through this week, as well) I was able to pay off the bills I wanted to pay–the braces are completely paid for!  Hip, hip hooray!!  I won’t have any extra money to roll over to next month like I did last time, but I can live with that.

Sometimes, you just can’t plan everything out perfectly, and things don’t work out the way you planned.  But, going with the flow is a great skill to have!  I am very grateful that  I had the privilege of being able to fill up my fridge and restock my pantry.  I’m very aware that I’m blessed to be able to laugh instead of cry when things ran out.  I’m happy that people can have food they want, as well as food they need, and that we have more than enough.  For these things, and more, I am truly thankful.  I never want to lose sight of those things in the midst of my little self-imposed challenges!  They are fun for me to do, and help me make budgeting fun instead of drudgery.


Weekly Update-Saving Money-March 10, 2018–Star Wars Food Edition


We had the boy all weekend!  He was on a Star Wars cooking kick, because his mama got him a really cute Star Wars cookbook and sent it along so we could all have fun!  Here, Uncle is supervising while he made Han-burgers (Han Solo).


Uncle was even teaching him how to flip burgers!


Uncle rose to the occasion and made up some planet onion rings to go with the Han burgers.  He used onions that had been given to us last weekend and made a coating with rice flour, egg and water and gave it a Star Wars sounding name.



Jedi juice pops were a real hit–literally!  They fought with them.  We had to color them red with maraschino cherry juice to make it the right color for the dark side–otherwise, it was just apple juice poured into a popsicle mold.  The book had more complicated directions, such as put strawberries and apple juice in an ice cube tray and insert toothpicks when they had frozen for 2 hours……this was easier!


That would be a Chewybacca pancake.  They were supposed to be C3PO pancakes with pineapple, but that was a no-go.  They had to be Darth Vader pancakes at first, covered with chocolate chips for the helmet with a cherry for a lite saber.


Of course, we converted everything to gluten-free with the good old Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour!  These pancakes were really good.


Chewbacca got really brown, but Jake thought that was good–he is brown! As Jake explained, he wasn’t going to eat any of those toppings….they just made the pancakes look good.  Patsy ate them for him.


Although the book had a different recipe for Wookie Cookies, Patsy decided to make Mountain Bars (no bake chocolate-oatmeal cookies) and they decided to call them Wookie-Cookies.  The Star Wars Weekend was really fun.  No matter what we cooked, we gave it a Star Wars name.  Jake was super hungry and ate a ton of turkey-rice soup that was supposed to be for lunch tomorrow.  No worries–I’d rather have him eat it any time–it’s one of the few real foods he eats–I made an enchilada casserole from odds and ends and we will heat it up with the rest of the soup for tomorrow.  Everyone’s coming here tomorrow, as some have meetings and things in the afternoon and need to eat and run.


We also drove down to the beach yesterday afternoon for a few hours.  It’s really not that far from here–we just usually forget that it’s so close.  There was no school Friday, so all the kids and Rob were off, and that’s why we had Jake that day–his mama was working.  Rob had done some errands in the morning while I went to the YMCA and took an exercise class.  It was a new-to-me one, and said on the description–“Low impact/barre” so I assumed low meant easy and we would hang on to a bar and ??? I didn’t know what, but how hard could it be?  Hard.  Let’s just say hard.  There were resistance bands to work our shoulders and arms, lots of jumping around (with one foot on the floor at all times),  and so forth for 45 minutes.  THEN we went over to the barre and held on while doing lunges, squats, pulses, etc. for another 30 minutes.  Yikes!  To make it worse, there was a lady, who had to be close to 80, just going like gangbusters!  She was amazing!  Again, as usual, pretty humbling:)  The teacher was also new-to-me, but she was super helpful and kind, and I hung in there.  I was pretty sore all the way to the beach, and beyond.  So, I was glad to crawl into the van and let Rob do all the driving.    All I asked for was a Diet Root Beer float from A and W, and I was good to go.  Ice cream fixes everything!  We shall see if I can talk myself into going again next Friday.

I also had done my 2 regular Pilates classes earlier in the week, and am hoping to try to do at least one extra class or other exercise time each weekend as well, from now on.  I could take classes all day, every day, with our membership, I just don’t have the time or energy.


The most fun we had was looking at the seals on the dock at Newport.  Jake spent most of his time imitating the sounds the seals were making–arr, arr, arr, arr.  They were so funny, knocking each other off the docks, pushing and shoving like children.  Then some college students showed the kids the red rock crabs they had caught, and caught a rock fish while we watched.  Docks and kids = Fun!


The Mark Hatfield Marine Science Center was near closing by the time we meandered down there, but we enjoyed it for the short time remaining.  They are re-doing the exhibits and most of it was closed anyway.  It looks like they will have new things to see in a couple of weeks.

It was a fun time with the whole family, as the 2 big girls got to go as well.



We stopped at a candy shop, and let everyone choose 1 thing.  We ended up our evening by going out to dinner; a super fun, rare occasion with the whole family.  IMG_0069

I had some money that was given to me a while back as a gift, that I used for our dinner out, and was very satisfied with my day!  I especially enjoyed the drive up the coast from Newport to Lincoln City, as the weather was nice, and we stopped off at Depot Bay to look around.  The spouting horn was not spouting. It was the wrong time, but no one cared. We enjoy looking at the ocean under any circumstances.   The entire afternoon was a lot of fun.  I need to remember more often that we really aren’t that far from the ocean!

The rest of the week was full of normal activities.  I went to work, appointments, did homeschool, and let the dishes pile up in the sink and the mountain of laundry grew pretty tall.  Then, on Saturday, I tore into the neglected work and did some cooking, cleaning and laundry.  I also got some more transplanting done in the greenhouse.  I do water the baby plants every single day, no matter how busy I am.

One of the biggest ways I’ve saved money this week is by not shopping very much.  After spending a whopping $21 last weekend, I never did make it to the store again.  And, I still haven’t made it this weekend, either.  I do need to stop in after church tomorrow, but my list isn’t very long.   I’ve been digging in the freezers and cupboards and feel good about some of the thing that have been used up.

I downloaded my Friday freebies from Fred Meyers, but haven’t picked them up, since I haven’t had time to go to the store.   So, if you want to save money by not shopping, borrow a little boy for the weekend and you won’t have time to go, but instead, can cook Star Wars food all weekend from pantry staples!  It’s more fun than the store, believe me.


I planned to clean the fridge this weekend after it emptied out a bit more, and was working hard all week to continue emptying it.  This morning, when salsa hit the floor and spewed in all directions, painting the fridge door, wall and floor red….I knew the time was at hand!  I washed the entire thing… and the floor in front of it…and the cupboard beside it….and……The food fit easily inside and there was room for leftovers and food for tomorrow’s Family Sunday Dinner.  I love having a clean fridge!

I was able to pull a few more green onions that had overwintered in the garden and use them in the casserole I made. I used some turkey bits from the freezer for both the turkey-rice soup and the enchilada casserole.  This turkey was cooked last summer, and needs to be used. I used home-canned chicken broth in the soup.  We used some frozen corn my sister grew and froze, for us, last summer.  I’ve been offering the family canned peaches frequently, and there have been takers, as the fresh fruit is mostly gone now.  The applesauce is going down the hatch, too.  I will likely pick up a few bananas the next time I make it to a store.  I still have carrots, celery, and of course, onions to cook with this week, as well as some lettuce, still looking great, from that huge package I bought at Costco a couple of weeks ago.  I am surprised at how things have held out with as little shopping as I have done the last couple of weeks.    I am delighted that I have been able to meet my goal of completely paying off the rest of Patsy’s braces–what a great feeling.  I thought I had held out plenty for groceries, and it’s turning out that I may even have some left to roll over to next month (which starts mid-month for me, as that’s when I get paid). We’ll see, as I noticed the evening Melatonin/Sunthenine bottle is getting empty, and that stuff’s expensive.  But, it works to help both Patsy and Jake go to sleep, so… at any price:).



Greenhouse Update–What Shall We Eat?–March 7, 2018


I love the little artichokes!  Now that they each have their own little pot, they are continuing to grow like crazy.  So encouraging!  Out of my 6 seeds, I ended up with 4 strong ones, and one little, tiny one.  I’m giving it a chance.  Who knows what it will do:)


As I find a few minutes, I slip out to the greenhouse and transplant what I can in the time I have.  So far, I’ve done all the Willamette tomatoes, the San Marzano Giagante, the artichokes, and the basil.  I still have the cherry tomatoes, and a few more things to do.  Once I transplant them, the plants are growing rapidly.  I can clearly see that it’s time to get out there and get the rest done.  Soon it will be time to plant more little seeds.



Outside, various daffodils have burst into bloom.  There are several varieties here, and so they bloom at different times.  So pretty!


This week’s menu plan is all about cleaning up odds and ends, and using stored food.   With the fridge emptied out a little, I hope to wash it out this weekend.

I took this little pile of apples, cut them into chunks and cooked them with raisins, cinnamon and sugar.  It was delicious.  I made mini muffins from the one, lonely, sad banana.


I pulled chicken legs from the freezer and marinated them in home-made teriyaki sauce. I squeezed soy sauce out of all the little packets in the cupboard, left over from long past Chinese food meals.  Once I read the labels and realized they were gluten-free, there was no need for them to languish in the cupboard any longer.  I added a couple packets of sesame seeds, brown sugar, water, 3 green onions I pulled from the garden (yea!),  and marinaded them all day, then baked them.

Last night, we cooked for the college age gathering/worship night at church and most of the family ate there with them. (I actually got some super great chicken and rice at my sister’s house–she was cooking that, before I got there).  They provided us with a budget, and we made tacos/nachos, corn, and cake. We made it possible for gluten-free people to have plenty of choices, such as taco salad or chips and toppings.  I love my own home-made refried beans (not trying to brag, they just have so much more flavor from the peppers and onion I add), so decided to make a big batch.  I was happy to donate those, and also to keep a few here for our family to use.  They have a brilliant way of using up their left-overs.  (It was our first time cooking for this group, so we are learning).  They package them up, and the college kids take them home to eat the next day for lunch.  So, we rolled up the leftovers into burritos and put them in ziplock bags. Some were pretty plain, some had more fillings.  All had beans and cheese and tomatoes at least.  There were a very few baggies of lettuce, a few bags of corn chips, and several bags of corn.  We got a great feeling for how much food they eat, and will know better next time.  All in all, we were super pleased with how the food to hungry person ratio worked out.  There were leftovers, but not an enormous amount, and they all went home with the young adults.

We’ve eaten up the leftovers from last weekend, including the chicken/rice soup, and a lot of turkey hot dogs have been eaten.  We had a big package of those.  We are eating a lot of salad this week, since I bought that huge bag of romaine from Costco 2 weekends ago. The 5 dozen eggs have been hit hard, with all the baking plus scrambled eggs, but there are still a few cartons left. There’s lots of cheddar cheese, and a little bread left.   I only spent $21 last weekend because I stocked up so well that first weekend of the month, but needed milk and a few other very-much-on-sale items, like water for $1.50/case.  This weekend, I will spend more and stock back up on produce, and get whatever super sales items that show up on the ads.  I will plan that out on Friday, when I get time.  I will make more chicken/rice soup for this weekend and maybe another kind of soup as well, for Sunday.  I have bagels frozen for Jake, as he is coming over.  He has a new Star Wars cookbook his mother bought him, and is dying to make something from it.  We will!

There is enough chicken for tomorrow.  There are still a few refried beans, and a very few tortilla shells we had on hand. We will use canned fruit for the next few days as most of the fresh has been used.  I need one more main dish for Friday, and will figure it out Friday:). I’m very pleased with how this moderate-budgeted month is going!  I’m getting some odds and ends used up, and hopefully will clean the fridge.


Weekly Update–Saving Money–What Did We Eat?–February 11, 2018



It’s that time again–my sister’s birthday and Valentine’s Day.  So, I made a cake that will celebrate both.  It’s chocolate, festive, and most importantly, gluten-free!  I couldn’t wait to eat it today at Family Sunday Dinner.  Lovana insisted on counting out the candles to the exact number for this birthday and putting them all on the cake!  Pretty scary when you consider she is my LITTLE sister!!!!!  We also had a wonderful time with my niece, Rachel, who has now returned from her year in Ireland.  It was so good to see her again.


I used the flowers I was given, plus a few more to brighten up the flowerbed by the front porch.  I also have little tiny early daffodils blooming.  It’s been very spring-like around here!  The daffodils Patsy planted when we first moved here are sending up buds.  We will get more blooms this year than we did last year, and each year they should continue to multiply.  Since they were all extras from my sister’s flowerbeds, we are going to get a lot of beauty for free for many years.


I froze bananas.  They were 39c/lb.  We drop them into smoothies, still frozen, to make the smoothies icy and thick.

I did some shopping and got my free items from Fred Meyers.  I picked up my sports water and candy hearts.  They were out of the foil cookie pans.  I got some great bargains they had as well, including $1.99/lb butter (5 boxes), 99c peanut butter (5 containers), and some other things.  I didn’t buy many groceries to use for meals this week, as I am still well-stocked, but mostly concentrated on pantry-building items.  Pantry-building is important to me, as I like to buy everything at the lowest possible price, and then, hopefully, not run out until the price drops again.  I also grabbed candy for the cake and Valentine’s Day.

We ate lots of chili leftover from last weekend, sandwiches, leftover chicken and steak from last weekend, baked potatoes several times, and used some frozen salmon twice.  We also had Eritrean food that my friend, Harnet, made and brought to my house.  There was also a jumbo package of turkey dogs in the fridge and many were consumed.  Now, the fridge is finally empty from the Super Bowl leftovers and I can think about making some new items for the week ahead.


Rob noticed his breakfast looked happy (?) one morning.  I think it looked scary:). Either way, home-canned peaches, cottage cheese and bacon made a great breakfast for him before a long day at school.  Bacon has been very reasonable at Safeway the last couple of weeks.  That was another item I “pantry-stocked.”  The bacon was around $3/lb, in a 3-lb package.  So, I divided it up into meal-sized portions and froze most of them.  It’s often more than $3 for 12 oz packages, so that was a stock-up price for me.  When Jake spends the night…’s bacon, bacon, bacon!  He loves it!! I’m glad to have a bunch in the freezer now.


I took Danait, Harnet, and Patsy swimming at the YMCA.  She had a blast.  So did her mama.  Patsy always does.  She loves the pool.  I continued doing my Pilates class. It is each Tuesday and Thursday.  I still stink at it, but the teacher says I’m getting stronger, so that’s good.


Danait has decided that Rob is her uncle. After all, if he’s Jake’s uncle……. How sweet.  So, Uncle Rob took her and Patsy down to the Dollar Store, and she chose Valentines for her class at preschool and Patsy chose some for her friends.  He also got some candy, and she had a busy time taping the candy to the little cards.  Her mama and I helped write her name on the cards, and taped some chocolate to the ones for the teachers.  We got a lot of bang out of our buck there….she worked on them for at least an hour:). During this time, we had the Olympics on, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching what I could between the commotion.  I’ve always loved the Olympics, especially the ice skating, and I was lucky enough that there was some on.  I was even happier to figure out how to record the rest of it when the hour grew quite late, and it was still going on.  I’ll find out tonight if I did it right!!! Here’s hoping:)

I downloaded and read a book for free on my Kindle, using the Prime Kindle Lending Library.  I had forgotten I can have one free book each month using that benefit of Prime.

I continued reading Little House on the Prairie to my nephew and played many, many games of Yahtzee with my niece.  When Harnet was visiting, we all 3 played.  We also played with a friend of Michaela’s on Monday, when he and his mom came to visit.  He hadn’t played before, and Harnet is new to Yahtzee as well.  It is good for Michaela to be the teacher occasionally.  She loved it both times!



We also enjoyed some time at a park, with Danait and Patsy.  While they were playing, we finished up the last of Harnet’s homework for the weekend, so she could rest for the remaining part of the weekend, if you call doing laundry, taking care of Danait and cooking resting:).  The weather has just been so nice!

How did your week go?




What Did We Eat–February 1, 2018


Patsy and I chose 2 recipes for her to make.  She has been wanting to cook more.  When she was younger, we would have weekly “cooking lessons.”  So, we’ve decided to start up a more organized system so she can get in more time cooking.  She wants to do the 4-H fair this year, so needs to work on her skills.  The first recipe was applesauce muffins, with a cinnamon-sugar topping.  They were delicious.  To me, they tasted like donuts!  Yum:). We are going to try them again with a different gluten-free biscuit mix.  The one we had was pretty strong, because of the kinds of flour in it, and the muffins were quite dense.  I want to try a lighter one.  Sometimes, when you convert recipes, you have to experiment a bit. They weren’t bad, though. They quickly vanished.


The second recipe was chicken fingers.  It was coated with buttermilk and egg, then fried in oil.  Boy was it good.  We won’t be making this one very often, though, as we don’t care to eat much fried food, and it was quite expensive after we used gluten-free bread crumbs as part of the coating, and it used a lot of oil.  The taste….yum, yum, yum!


We continued eating fruits and vegetables that I bought last weekend.  We’ve had a house full of sick ones, and they are recovering nicely now, but I loaded up on citrus and other fruits and veggies for them, and for the rest of us so we would stay well.  We also ate home-canned and frozen items, as well.  I made smoothies from peaches–I used both frozen, and the juice from a jar of canned peaches.  Some of the apples look a little wrinkled.  I think I will make something from them this weekend!  We are having a smaller family Sunday dinner this week, at our house, and I want to serve snacky Super Bowl-type foods.  Maybe some apple bar cookies…mini muffins….not sure yet.


I’m still working on the 10 pound bag of carrots I got from Costco a while back.  This week, I made orange-glazed carrots.  Part of my shopping last week for the sickies was orange juice, so I just used some of that in the pan when I cooked them.  I basically stir-fried them and they were still pretty crunchy when we ate them.   They were good.

My niece, Alissa, made another big pot of cheesy potato soup.  It’s her favorite soup of all time, and she makes it often.  We still have a bunch in the fridge.  I had made a large pot of simple chicken-rice last weekend, and it was finished up early in the week.

I had fried up a bunch of taco meat last weekend before we realized that none of our company was coming.  So, people have been sprinkling that on taco salads, or making soft-shelled tacos, or nachos, or whatever they wanted all week long, since we had large quantities of all the ingredients on hand.

How did your meals turn out this week?



Weekly Update-Saving Money-What We Ate-January 28, 2018


I decided to combine my menu post with my weekly update, because I simply have had no time to post in the past few days.  Instead, I’ve been spending time with people I love.

Jake and Michaela came to spend the weekend with us.  They came Thursday afternoon, as there was no school on Friday.  We went down to the YMCA and went swimming.  While waiting for the girls to change, Jake enjoyed the Mr. Potato Head toys–there were 3 of them.  He had a ball!  It was great for him to get to play with a different toy than what I had and then leave it there:). They also had free books, and he got one–happy boy!


I cooked a lot during the week.


Gluten-free blondies were so good, I made them twice.

I went grocery shopping and spent all the money from the past 2 weeks, and more!  With the kids coming, I needed to lay in a supply of foods they like.  They have very specific likes and dislikes.  I also was planning for 2 sets of company.  One set of friends was coming Saturday, and another on Sunday after church.  The weekend ended up much differently than I planned.

Rob has been struggling with the flu, and we assumed he would be fine by the weekend.  He was not.  Ja’Ana came down with a high fever on Wednesday, and we figured she would be fine and go to her retreat, as planned.  She wasn’t, and didn’t. The doctor’s office wanted to see J on Saturday, so I took her up there. If she’s not better by Tuesday, back we go. Jake became ill on Friday evening.

All of our friends declined to visit our house once they heard about our house full of sickies!  I wonder why?  LOL!  They made a great choice.  We stayed home, surrounded by all that food and Kleenex for the rest of the weekend.

I made a huge pot of chicken-rice soup.  Jake ate 7 helpings over the weekend.  Who knew?  I made smoothies several times.  I ended up making 2 batches of yogurt, and used part of it, frozen peaches, frozen bananas, canned peach juice, and more as I made smoothies.  I bought orange juice and citrus–big oranges, mandarins, lemons and limes for the sick ones.  I bought lemon-lime soda.  I replenished my tea.


I fetched this and that for people.  I shopped. I cooked.  I cleaned.  I did laundry.  I swept. I washed dishes for over 2 hours on Saturday.  I read endless stories.  I ran to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal Saturday night.  On Sunday afternoon, I finally gave up, turned on the Wii, and the tv, and fell asleep on the couch:). Rob did manage to take Michaela to Costco for her hot dog, and got my short list.  He grabbed a cooked chicken there.  Every little exertion wears him out, though, and he’s back in bed for another nap.  J hasn’t moved from the couch since Wednesday, except for short times.

People are starting to feel a little better.  I am feeling a bit more rested.  I still opened prepared spaghetti sauce and bagged salad for dinner, along with noodles.  Frankly, we have been in survival mode the past few days.  And, if I never need to watch “Odd Squad” again, it will be fine with me:), at least for a week or two.


With the extra time at home, I got Patsy going on a new embroidered dish towel with a cute cat pattern.  I gave her some embroidery floss we got at a yard sale, in the colors she wanted.  She started working on it.  She also cut Rob’s hair.  Brave man.  But, look what a nice job she did!


He told her what to do, and she did it!  Amazing!  (Since I am awful at cutting hair, I have admiration for anyone who can).


Earlier in the week, Harnet and I took Danait to the dentist.  She had been before, but that dentist wanted her to go to a pediatric dentist.  We got to go to Portland.  On the 11th floor.  In a place where parking was difficult.  But, after circling around a few blocks a few times—-we managed it!  She had a wonderful time there.  She seemed to love everything they did, and was so interested in it all!  Of course, they loved working with a kid like that, so it was an amazing dentist visit.


We went down to the river with a lunch bucket full of food, and had a car picnic.  The ducks, pigeons and even seagulls were out in full force.  Thankfully, her mama had some bread in her pocket and we all enjoyed feeding the birds between rain showers.  She had tucked in in her pocket because she thought Danait might get hungry, and that turned out to be a great source of entertainment for us all.


It’s been a crazy week, and a busy one, but not the most frugal one.  We were still able to save money here and there, and best of all, took care of everyone that needed care!  Michaela went home with her big sister last evening, and Jake will be leaving soon.  I’m not sure what the week holds, but I do know I have enough food for any occasion:)