Wednesday, March 25, 2009

off-topic: new strategy to avoid selling my son

we finally were able to have a civilized conversation and agree that the following things might be important factors for having a successful school day:

good night's sleep
vigorous exercise in the AM
protein for breakfast: piece of cheese, meat, bread/bagel/muffin. sandwich? smoothie?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Something new -- a 2-week meal plan

Our bills just got tighter due to finding some "affordable" health insurance, and our paychecks are tending toward a cycle of smaller one week and larger the next. so i think i can compensate by planning 2 weeks out pretty well and doing most of the shopping during the bigger week, then keeping the shorter week's purchases to just stellar-sale items. i've been spending about $75/week; i could shoot for $100 and $50, but what if i could do $75 and $50 or even less?

MON (one kid sick at home all day, one gone all day): noodles w/ homemade turkey broth for breakfast, chicken-pesto quesadilla for lunch, power smoothie (oatmeal!) for snack, fish baskets for supper. very odd.. probably won't make again. maybe the grands were too big tho?

TUES (gymnastics): manwich for lunch; if i go to sam's maybe rotisserie chicken w/ salad for dinner eh?

meatless WED (play practice then choir): Spicy Chipotle Hummus with wheat thins & veggies for lunch; Pasta Fagioli with tortellini (in crockpot) and for freezer; garlic bread

THURS (piano): hard-boiled eggs for bkfst; cheesy grits for lunch; bars, wheat thins & hummus for snack; took salad & canteloupe to dinner at tammy's.

FRI (play practice, doctor appt, entricans spending night): egg salad sandwiches for lunch; spaghetti for dinner; spaghetti pie for freezer.

SAT (1:00 IBC then client): Biscuits & gravy for brunch; just me for lunch = free arby's; dinner with parents

SUN (6 daytime kids; max spending night): pizza rolls for lunch, TAKE FOOD TO CHURCH PITCH-IN, had tammy's cheese dip for dinner.

MON (co-op, need kid-friendly lunch for 4, prayers @IBC): biscuits & gravy, pizza for lunch, cobb salads for dinner YUM!

TUES (no gu): movie popcorn and soup at tammy's! thanks again :)

WEDS (play practice then choir): Poor Man's Meal for lunch; monkey foccacias for snack; kroger fried chicken for dinner :(

THURS (piano): leftover fried chicken for bkfst, salad for lunch (me only), chili for dinner (again, me only).

FRI (play practice): homemade pizza? pasta meatball soup? layered taco dip?

SAT (trade show; kids at mom & dad's?): breakfast pizza?

SUN: lasagna raviolis? chicken & rice?

we have chicken breast,
diced ham,
a whole turkey,
pie crusts
crescent rolls
tortellini soup
layered taco dip with homemade refried beans (or this quicker beans recipe).
spaghetti pie
bourbon-glazed pork w/ sweet potatoes
baked potato bar
smoked grillers
LOTS OF pizza dough
Italian Stuffed Pork Loin using the pesto from the freezer!!

grocery list:

black olives
salt-free taco seasoning
(there's a recipe i can modify here)
sun-dried tomatoes
graham crackers
lighter fluid

Saturday, March 21, 2009

firecracker pork, basil-spinach quesadillas, spaghetti, nachos

i think it's time for a new one.

SUN: dead meat -- uh, bourbon-glazed pork -- w/ sweet potatoes
after a 4-mile walk, we came home & had the firecracker pork ($1.77) with frozen veggies ($1) and white rice (.50?) and MAN was it good!! tasted like real chinese! my nose is running and sophie couldn't really eat it.. next time i'll leave out most of the red pepper to be added individually instead, but this recipe is a keeper! i added a few shakes of sesame oil, and i'd use just about a tablespoon less balsamic vinager next time. $3.27 plus costs of spices in marinade; too full for fruit.
took care of tuesday's pasta at lunch, with cheesy ragu & black pepper.
and i cleaned out the fridge to reclaim my gladware -- yay me!!!!

MON (brownies/choir): manwich w/ canned green beans
sophie's sick so we'll be home for lunch. will try basil-spinach quesadillas! since i happen to have homemade pesto in the freezer :) and/or maybe a light soup with the turkey broth i made yesterday. the quesadillas were delicious!

TUES (gymnastics): need to do something with the refrigerated pasta... fish sticks w/ mac & cheese, i guess? nope the pasta's gone.. maybe nachos..
fish baskets! i'll try these! well these are so intriguing that i'll have to make them for tuesday's lunch!! maybe salad for dinner eh?

WED (choir): tortellini soup (in crockpot?); garlic bread

THURS (piano): spaghetti. i have 3 yucky cottage cheeses in the fridge that say Spaghetti Pie. either way i need eggs. or i could make a layered taco dip taco dip by blending the cottage cheese with a brick of cream cheese and taco sauce, then veggies on top. but then i'd need black olives ;)

we have chicken breast, smished pork loin to roll something up in, a whole turkey, meatballs, ravioli. and want to try pasta meatball soup

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Inspiring Website!

I just found thru her guest post at $5 Dinner Mom. Very inspirational! what i love about these ladies is that they have planned their menu around the items that are typically on sale for the month -- and THEY POST THEIR MENUS, SHOPPING LISTS AND RECIPES! People pay money for that service, and they're doing it all for free!! Plus they do it in a budget-conscious way.

I tried OAMC for a minute and didn't care to continue, but their site has loads of gems even for people like me! The recipes they've found tend to have few ingredients, which means easy and inexpensive. Especially the ones this month are very interesting -- not your typical chili and tortilla casserole fare. And since they give the links to the sites with the recipes, you can read feedback from lots of people who've tried the recipes, how they tweaked them and what they'd do differently next time.

I was inspired to toss some chunked (not cubed!!) meat into zippy bags with homemade marinades -- one from a tried-and-true recipe in my binder, and one from their menu. now i can't wait for shrimp to go on a killer sale so i can try the buffalo shrimp recipe!!

What's in the Freezer for My Trucker

2 tins curried rice
1 salmon alfredo primavera
linda's dinner: garlic beef, peas, carrots, mac & cheese
4 bags shrimp Voila

Sunday, March 15, 2009

menu plan sunday? updating thru the week. Salmon Alfredo, fast food coupons, bourbon-glazed pork, bkfst for dinner.

well it's time to get un-lazy, at least a little bit.

need to plan some meals & have leftovers to pack for dh.

what do i have to work with?......
a whole turkey in the freezer.
beef meatballs
raviolis: beef, mushroom; cheese for cheater lasagna
cheese tortellini for soup

need frozen veggies (mixed, mirepoix, broccoli, onions, spinach).
also need lettuce & soy sauce; totally out of ketchup.

OK that sounds good..

chili definitely. we'll have that on monday, 'cause it'll be good in the crockpot. not saving any for dh because there's already some in freezer.

Tuesday (gymnastics): we have alfredo sauce: cheesy pasta alfredo w/salmon
**i made a whole box of macaroni for the chili,
just so i'd have pre-cooked pasta for this!
this'll be scary-easy!
update: it WAS scary-easy! yummy too, and i packed some for bo with frozen snow peas from last year's garden & orange pepper on top. we had smoothies for second-lunch and free arby's after gymnastics.

Wednesday (choir): taco salad with the leftover chili.
Free Arby's Roastburgers after choir! and that's exactly what we did. "free" really means $4.87 after you buy 3 small drinks. cool news: the manager at arby's said he was in a meeting today where he heard they're going to continue resetting the coupons thru april 7th!

Thursday (piano, then interviews): taco pie with crescent rolls and ground turkey. (again, we can use leftover chili maybe)

Friday (just the girls): arby's coupons? fazoli's coupons?

oh we also have lots of frozen pizza crust and crescent rolls.
i put a pizza crust in the fridge to thaw; we'll see if it turns out usable.

boubon-glazed pork, baked sweet potato? asparagus?

biscuits, gravy & scrambled eggs for dinner.

if all else fails i can make campfire stew, manwich, or cook that turkey.

Crockpot Lasagna was an easy hit

I sort of used the recipe from Ellen's Kitchen -- as much as i use any recipe ;)

I used a box of no-boil noodles, because that's what i had. actually we've had them for two years and i'm so glad they're gone now.

and get this -- i pureed some frozen spinach & added it to the sauce! I always prefer veggie lasagna, but the kids abhor spinach in all forms. As i type, my 12yo son is polishing off the remnants and saying it's some gooooood lasagna! LOL And i was worried he'd actually notice, because he really honestly does not like the taste of it; i was sure he'd taste it, or at least ask why the sauce was so dark. LA LA LA LA LA!!

i also made one for dh's truck, but with frozen already-cooked italian sausage meatballs in the middle, kinda like a noodle sandwich i guess? another item that had been sitting around forever and unlikely to ever be used on purpose.

the other really cool thing is that i used that breakstone cottage cheese that nobody will eat because it's got a funky texture! i'm gonna use the rest in spaghetti pie.

Here's What I'm Sending With DH

  • some yogurts from the freezer (we found that yoplait freezes well but dannon does NOT --he's graciously helping me use up the funky-thawing ones and i'm using them in smoothies too; the kids can't tell that way.)
  • a tin of curried rice; i think he'll put tuna or sardines over it.
  • a homemade lasagna
  • a plater of food from a family dinner that he missed
  • a Thai Kitchen soup that was on clearance.
he still has some things in his freezer, because he wasn't expecting to be home this wknd. if he wants one more meal, it'll be really easy to make up a thing of ravioli for him too -- i use frozen ravioli, jarred sauce, and add frozen veggies. he also has cans of turkey stew, beans, soup, etc.

when i actually cook while he's gone, i go ahead & fix for 4 or more, and put the leftovers into loaf pans & freeze. He has a nifty little oven made for truckers, that uses foil loaf pans. so those are part of my grocery bill, but it sure is a handy way to get him some homemade meals and avoid food spoilage! plus he likes when i toss frozen veggies in for him, so i get to feel like i'm helping *some*one be healthy!

the freezer is empty of meals for him, so i need to pull it together! i'll (try to) come up with a menu plan tonight.

Spinach Smoothie -- YUM!

OK i was making a smoothie for me, myself, and i,
(at the same time i was assembling lasagna for dinner)
when i remembered reading about putting spinach into strawbrry smoothies!
supposedly it's not detectable?
well i tried it, and it was delicious!!

i don't think i could sneak it by the kids
and it was a little bitter
but that was *probably* because the flax meal is old.
so i pitched the flax meal
and will try it without next time.

i think it tasted better because i knew i was getting all those good spinach vitamins!!

it also made me happy to use up some of the funky-frozen yogurts and polish off the last of a huge bag of frozen berries!

How's it going

well i haven't done much here lately.

guess i feel like i got a good idea of how much money we eat --
the cost of a cheap meal vs. a junk-food meal,
a careful day vs. a typical day vs. a who-cares day,
a frugal week vs. a too-busy unplanned week.

lately it's been catch-as-catch-can around here;
i've been on "light duty" which means things the kids can't do,
ie chauffeuring and shopping, planting seeds.
they've been "handling meals"
(in other words, living on chicken noodle soup,
pizza rolls and frozen pizzas!)

i'll be thinking about how to continue w/ this project,
or if it's one too many things for me to think about.

it may turn into pricing during meal planning?
or.. something i haven't seen and don't know how to phrase for search engines:
sending a truck driver out with two weeks' worth of
interesting, healthy & frugal food.

With couponing, we've fallen into terrible nutrition!
I love the possibility of cheaper produce at the mexican groceries,
and i have access to a bulk-bin store on wednesdays.
While i'm planning on stocking up with frozen junk (taquitos, pizza etc.)
i do think i'm going to make a rule
for myself and the kids
that it's only allowed with company (kids)
or on nights that i'd order pizza even if it cost $100!
(you know the kind.)
We just need to return to healthier eating habits.