Tag Archives: cooking

Use It Up Challenge–January 2019

I was able to spend quite a bit of time cooking this week, and used up several food items that had been lurking around for some time. I made this quinoa salad. I have quite a bit of quinoa in my pantry, because it’s a good gluten-free choice, but truthfully, Lovana was the one who used it the most. Now that she’s in Hawaii, there it sat. I looked up several recipes, and mixed and matched ingredients to make a salad that sounded good to both Rob and I. I plan to put the recipe in my recipe section before long, but basically, it was quinoa, black beans, home-canned corn, green onion, lime, olive oil and cumin dressing, and some home-canned salsa from the cupboard.

I made home-made tomato soup from a jar of tomatoes I canned, 3 scraggly carrots left from last summer’s garden, some garlic, a little home-canned broth, salt, pepper, and 1/3 cup 1/2 and 1/2. Rob likes it, and it’s certainly low calorie, but I, myself, would rather have a little more dairy in there, so plan to put some milk in mine when I warm up a bowlful.

I used some masa flour from the pantry (I got 2 bags when Grocery Outlet had it for super, super cheap, what was I thinking? That is a lot of masa when you don’t make tamales!). I have a recipe for a Mexican pizza with a masa flour crust, which is why I got the masa in the first place. The crust has green onion, cumin and garlic powder in it, along with the masa, eggs, salt and water. You cook that for 10 minutes, then add refried black beans and cheese, and cook for 5 more. It’s really quick and easy. I chopped up a hamburger patty leftover from the birthday party we did not have on Sunday (rescheduled due to a sick child), and added that to use that up as well. The recipe calls for tomato, lettuce and avocado on top. We were in a huge hurry to get Patsy to an event, so we just ate it plain this time.

We ate several jars of home-canned fruit this week. We are finishing up a ham, and cut off pieces frequently for lunches, scrambling with eggs, topping our salads and so forth.

I went to Winco and purchased a few more salad ingredients, and a few items that I needed to make these recipes and to round out meals. I’m delighted, because I’m doing great staying within my lowered budget, and we are eating better than ever, and better yet, several items are getting used! I have been looking through old magazines for inspiration, and will do that again this coming week.

We will all be cooking a great deal this upcoming weekend, as my sister is heading up a formal dinner for the high school group at church. I am making a couple of items ahead, and got the final ingredients I needed for those. Rob will be pulling the big barbecue over there and doing appetizers, green beans, chicken and salmon on it. She has the bulk of the food at her house and we will cook most of it on Saturday, over there, where the event is being held. They already set up tables all over her living area, and the couches are all pushed back for that purpose. It’s going to be fun!

Feeding A Crowd–Nov. 2018

 

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There were 2 occasions in the past week that we fed crowds.  I’m sharing the menus in hopes of giving good ideas to those who need or want to feed large groups on a budget.

The first occasion was over at my sister’s house.  She was hosting a high school gathering.  There was no way to know if there would be 5 kids or 40.  It was a bit of a challenge.  She decided to serve salad bar, baked potato bar, fruit salad and ham.  Her reasoning for these choices was to provide many, many options for the kids who needed to eat gluten-free, dairy free, or chose to be vegetarians.  There are some of each in the youth group.

She got the hams and asked Rob to BBQ them the day before.  She asked me to bring desserts.  She cut and chopped, cooked and simmered the rest.  It was all delicious.

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In the end, there were about 20 people at the gathering, so there was too much food.  (Better too much than too little–that’s our motto!) We were able to send the rest of the berry-apple crisp to an evening youth activity and they ate a bunch more of it there.  We all ate salad for a couple of days afterwards, along with potatoes.  She made a twice-baked potato casserole with some of them, using the cheese as well.  She plans to freeze some of that, as an experiment to see how it freezes, for another  day. We were both pleased.  There was lots of food.  The kids loved it.  Everyone, no matter what their dietary needs, had plenty to eat.  There was plenty of opportunity for them to visit with one another, then have their discussion/lesson.  (By that time, I was long gone, with Jake in tow, so they could focus on the youth)

The second occasion this week was feeding the college-aged kids at church.  There are several teams who rotate through with this project, so we have a turn about once a month.  My niece, Alissa, is really enjoying being a part of this project.  We are not only practicing her cooking skills, but are using it as part of her homeschool math.  She has been figuring out budget, cost, helping shop and cook, and figuring out how much food is needed for “x” amount of people, etc.

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We pulled out the big roaster oven this month.  It was about 1/2 full of chili.  I made the chili Sunday night, using soaked pinto beans from the huge 50 pound bag Rob got for such a low price a while back.  There is a budget from the church for this project, so they bought hamburger and the rest of the ingredients.  The chili was refrigerated and was very easy to put into the roaster yesterday, warmed and transported with no fuss.

Alissa wanted to make potato soup. We used 10 lbs of potatoes, celery, onion, milk and a tiny bit of sweet rice flour and filled 2 crock pots each 1/2 full.  That way, neither pot, or the roasted sloshed over on the trip to the church.  Rob put the crock pots in a box, wedged in with dish towels, and that helped, too.

Rob made cornbread from mixes.  A large pan of regular, and a small pan of gluten-free were plenty for the job. We put out honey and butter.  He shredded a brick of cheese and cut onions, to put in the chili, or the potato soup, as desired.  It was desired.  The entire 2-lb brick was consumed.

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Alissa made 2 boxes of brownie mix, and added crushed peppermint to one of them.  I made some pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins for the gluten-free people.  I had previously made them, and froze them to make yesterday easier.

In the end, there was hearty chili with toppings, potato soup with cheese if desired, cornbread, muffins, brownies, and a veggie plate. Water is always the drink they put out for that group, and they always set up the tables and put out paper goods.  When they move on to their singing/Bible study, we clean up and parcel out the leftovers, as is their practice for that group.  We leave them in rows on the table, in little take-home cartons, baggies and bowls and the kids take them home for the next day’s lunch.  It’s a really good system, I think.  The attendance seems to pretty consistent, around 25–more or less, so it’s getting easier to plan for how much to cook each time.

This was a very low-cost meal.  I shopped around, and got the best prices on the food items that were purchased, but did not need many expensive ingredients.  Potato soup was very simple, and inexpensive, and they LOVED it!  The chili was a hit, too, and the cornbread was almost gone.  I bought very few veggies, and most of them were still there:). We are still getting a feel for what this group likes, as we have not been doing this for long, and I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s FOOD that they like:). They are so appreciative, say thank-you many times, and generally let us know over and over how much they like it—who wouldn’t want to cook for them? 🙂  They are a joy to feed.

A Little More Canning and What Did We Eat? September 20, 2018

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This week, I was able to get enough tomatoes for both pasta/pizza sauce and taco/enchilada sauce.  I’m super happy with the flavor of both.  I was surprised with more cucumbers when I looked under the bushes that really look as if they are dying.  So, I made more spicy pickles because I also found a couple more jalapeños and Serranos on those bushes.

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One night I roasted a pan of sweet potatoes, white potatoes and acorn squash.  They all turned out great.  The Carnival acorn squash plant has been prolific and I just keep taking the biggest ones that look the most mature, and using them.  This is the 3rd one we’ve eaten so far.  There are quite a few left out there.  Some probably won’t mature, but several will.

We have had chicken with plum sauce twice.  Since I made a new batch, and there are enough prunes to do it again if I get around to it, I am glad that we are finding a way to use it in such a tasty fashion.

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We are still eating zucchini, although I’m happy to report it has slowed down to a manageable level.  It is nice to saute some zucchini with onion until just crisp-tender.  This is an old picture, so it doesn’t show the yellow crookneck squash, or the scallopini squash or the round ball squash that came up from the few seeds I planted from a summer squash mixture in early August.  The old plants are about done, and will probably die before long, so it will be nice to still have a fresh veggie when that happens for a few more weeks.

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I had Eritrean food with Harnet one day.  Danait was proud as can be of her bike-riding skills.  The bike and helmet were birthday gifts back in June, and she has improved a lot.  Since the only place she can ride is the parking lot of their apartment complex, there is a little routine they do, so I had to do it, too.  It consists of her riding off quickly, with the grown-up chasing her, all the while looking for stray cars and cats (there might be one, you never know!).  She was telling me they do it 3 times some days.  I was done at one trip around their course:)  It was a good workout.  Lunch was great. I took a salad to add to the food Harnet cooked.  Of course, she sent some home.  This time it was the red lentils she likes to make and some rice with mixed vegetables in it.  The girls here at home have been eating it as taco filling.

I got some pork cutlets on mark-down last week, so we used them this week.  Rob grilled them after marinading them for a while in one of his concoctions.  They were delicious.  We ate lots of salad, piles of tomatoes, some canned and fresh fruit, a few potatoes, and some other side dishes.  It’s going to be harder to plan dinner when the garden dies, but it’s still limping along for now.  I’m glad. It’s an awesome time of year when I have so much fresh produce.

 

 

 

What Did We Eat? August 31, 2018

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We had a wonderful get-away camping at the beach.  Other than one sandwich Patsy and I grabbed at Subway, we cooked all our meals in the camper.  We tried to keep things easy, except for a few special meals.

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One morning, Patsy and I went down to the bay and we were able to get these Cockle clams.  I turned them into the clam chowder pictured above.  We have enough frozen for one more batch in the near future.  It was our first time hunting for these kind of clams, and I got some extremely helpful advice from a man down on the beach, who showed us how to get them.  You are supposed to rake them, but we did not have a rake, so we scraped our shovel along the sand, and Patsy was even raking through the wet sand with her fingers, and we found over 20 between the two of us.  They seem to be found more frequently in places where the seaweed has been deposited by the tide.

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We went crabbing off the docks in Newport twice.  Thankfully, we found great parking spots that were very near the dock, and didn’t have to carry our gear very far.  The first day, we got these two and the second time we got one Dungeness and kept a couple of Red Rock Crabs just to give us a little more meat.  I had crab salad and just plain crab, and froze 2 small packages for the near future.  Rob fished off the docks while we waited for him to pull up the traps, but caught nothing.

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We did foil dinners in the fire one night.  The meat, carrots and potatoes turned out great.  The zucchini turned into mush.  I threw it away.  There were no takers for that one.  I had picked every single tiny one before we left, hoping that they would not take over while we were gone.

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The acorn squash turned out great!

The rest of the meals were salads, lunchmeat and cheese, corn from our garden, lots and lots of tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, and hamburgers one night for dinner.  Breakfasts were eggs, sausage one day, cereal, and fruit.  Most days, we threw some food into our little cooler and just ate out of that wherever we were when lunchtime came–dock, jetty, etc.

We had a great time, and ended up the week by purchasing tuna off the docks to can,    It was an unusual menu compared to what we more commonly have at this time of year, but I love seafood and will remember for other times when we can’t catch anything.  .

 

 

What Did We Eat? June 15, 2018

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We ate the leftovers from last weekend’s party.  For the beginning of the week, we feasted on deviled eggs, veggies, sweet and sour turkey meatballs, pickle rolls, chips, tortilla rolls, dipped strawberries, rice, and sandwiches.  There is still a little cheese left, but most of the rest has been devoured.

My oldest daughter had some baked potatoes left over from a party she had given.  She asked if I wanted them, and of course, I said I did.  I was surprised when she came in with a plastic grocery-store bag full of the largest potatoes imaginable!  They were all baked, and there were just too many for them to use up. It was quite a challenge for us, as well!!

I had baked potato bar one night with broccoli from the freezer, cheese sauce, and cottage cheese.  I tried the Tillamook cheese sauce mix in a package that I purchased last week.  It was $1.99 and I had a digital coupon for $1.50 off.  It was delicious.  There were 2-3 occasions when people ate a portion of a baked potato at a meal.  I fried one for breakfast one morning, and put in a few slices of kielbasa sausage.  With the last 2 potatoes, I made potato salad.  I included some hard-boiled eggs.  As you can see, it was almost devoured before I could even snap a picture!

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Michaela ate many, many peanut butter sandwiches with no jam, honey-nut Cheerios, and about 1/2 gallon of milk in 2 days, if not more.  She likes milk.  And, there’s a new rule that she cannot have soda until after she drinks a full bottle of water.  So, she drank water, and in fact, drink more than the forced amount a couple of times.  That’s great.  We are still on water restrictions, and so I bought a bunch of bottles of water. They say the water is safe for anyone my size, but I don’t want to take chances with my health, Rob’s health or the children’ health.  So, I don’t panic if I use some in cooking or drink a little, but try to use other water for the most part.

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Jake ate Cup-o-noodles, chicken flavor, aka instant lunch.  In fact, I just bought a new case of it last night, because he used them all up from my pantry.  We don’t go through many of those, except when he is here.  Frankly, we don’t care for them as much as he does, but I’m happy to get them for him if he wants them.  He drank a lot of apple juice, and ate as many frozen Otter Pops as he could con out of me or anyone else.  He also drank some water–very rare for him–declaring that he was not under 6 years of age and didn’t have any health problems.  He was being a silly little stinker at the time, smacking his lips and declaring how good the water was because one of the other kids had just told him to not drink it:), but at least he got some water down for once!

Rob and I ate out one night, as we wanted to have a date night, and we got to talk in peace:). We packed picnics the rest of the times we were out and about with a bunch of children, or just had them wait until they got home to eat. (I wasn’t very popular a couple of times, but I’m trying to establish healthier habits at the beginning of the summer that will hopefully last the entire 3 months!)  I want French fries to go back to being a treat and not an expectation.   So, there went some of the cheese slices, lunchmeat, bread, peanut butter,  fruit, various snacks and bars, and drinks, all for a good cause–children’s stomachs:)

Birthday week continues–2 down, 2 to go!  Today Ja’Ana wants pizza for her birthday dinner, so Rob will grab an inexpensive wheat-crusted one somewhere, and I will eat one of the gluten-free ones I made and froze last week.  Tomorrow, Rob is barbecuing for our little friend, Danait’s party, and so I’m making a large potato salad again today.   I will put green onions in it, again.  Good thing they are growing so well in the garden right now!  I will also pick lettuce today for salads and to take for the hamburgers tomorrow.

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I grabbed a few grocery items last night, such as the Instant Lunches, and a bag of potatoes. All this potato salad means I’m really going through potatoes right now. It’s great that they are very reasonable! I only had to pay $1.99 for 10 lbs. That’s a lot of good food for the price. I will look through my fridge today, but don’t anticipate buying very many other groceries for a few days, at least. Having lettuce in the garden really helps, and I was able to get a bag of 7 small avocados for $2.49 last night.  We love them in salads and guacamole.  Patsy and I just ran into Grocery Outlet on our way home from her first high school youth group barbecue (yikes–she’s getting so old!), and I was pleased with what I found.  You just never know what they are going to have.

Today, I need to get hot dog and hamburger buns for the party tomorrow, and a few tomatoes to slice, but have the rest of what I’m bringing.  My sister has been up with Harnet, gathering supplies for this party at least twice, and we have it well organized between the 3 of us.  It’s going to be very fun.  There’s nothing like cute little kids enjoying themselves to brighten a day!

 

 

What Did We Eat? May 25, 2018

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 2, 2018

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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

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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:)

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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

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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?

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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.

 

What Did We Eat–February 1, 2018

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?