August, 2017, $100 Grocery Challenge, Canning, and Menu Plan

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The last peaches are in the jars, boiling as I write.  I only wanted to can 21 quarts, as I still have some left over from 2 years ago.  With what’s in the canner, I have 35.  That’s what happens when you are picking peaches and there are a lot of nice ones, and you and you sister keep picking……That should be more than enough with what I have left.  We have done 28 quarts and 9 pints of applesauce so far, and I still have another batch of apples to go.  Then, I picked a box of tomatoes from the garden tonight.  So, the canning is not done, but I’m gaining on it.

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The menu plans revolved around the garden produce.  Our garden is pumping out the veggies so quickly that we cannot keep up.  My sister’s garden is, too, and she shared the corn with us.  Rob cooked a turkey on the BBQ at the end of last week.  We had that on Sunday for our family dinner with veggies.  I froze about 7 quarts of broth after I boiled the bones.

We just had sandwiches and leftovers for Sunday night, and there was a peach and ice cream social after church Sunday night, which we enjoyed.

Breakfasts are always eggs, toast, cereal, fruit, etc. in any combination, or we just eat leftovers.

Monday:  We ate leftover turkey and other things for breakfast and lunch, and I went and visited my friend, Harnet, and we ate together up there.  J went with me, and the rest of the family was on their own at home. J was a huge blessing, as she spent a lot of energy keeping Danait occupied while us mamas did errands and talked.

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We drove around, doing various errands, and found the preschool where little Danait starts preschool soon.  She was so happy to see the awesome playground!

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Then, we ate at an Italian restaurant.  We all had fun there.

 

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Tuesday:  Lunch:  I had salad, others had sandwiches or leftovers.  Dinner: I dealt with the rest of the turkey today.  There was quite a bit left, as it was a huge turkey.  I filled several baggies with pieces of turkey, and froze them for quick casseroles, soups and sandwich filling.  I made crock pot turkey taco soup with some of the broth and some turkey pieces.  I also used some cooked, frozen black beans that Rob discovered in the freezer and some home-canned salsa.  The turkey broth has a smoky flavor since Rob did the turkey on the BBQ, and that went well with the southwestern flavor of this soup.  I made gluten-free cornbread to go with it.  There was a lot of soup, so I sent some home with my sister when she picked up Jake, and there is still some left!!

Wednesday:  Lunch:  Leftover soup, turkey sandwiches, and toast/ciabatta bread for Jake.    Dinner:  Hamburgers.  I have some buns that need using in the freezer, lots of tomatoes, etc.  I may make potato salad, if I get time.

Thursday:  Lunch:  Sandwiches and/or leftovers.  Dinner:  We are going to a party for dinner.  I am to take rice and salad.

Friday:  Here’s the best part!   I am getting away for the weekend with Rob for our 35th anniversary. I’m very excited.  Our times away alone have been few and far between, so it’s a big deal for us.  When you have been raising kids for over 33 years, it’s not easy to get away.   The kids are going to stay with their aunt and uncle, and will eat there.  I will grab some food items from here to take, and wing it!  I will certainly take some garden produce.  We can eat out, cook in our room, buy some groceries if needed, etc.  Rob is going to go crabbing, so maybe we will have crab.

$100 challenge update:  As of last week, I had $17 left from the hundred dollars.  We spent $10 this week, so there are $7 dollars left. We bought 1/2 and 1/2, celery and bagels.     I may need to get a few more bagels, since that is Jake’s preferred food, and maybe some 1/2 and 1/2, since that is Rob’s.  Or, I may not use the $7 at all.  Either way, it’s worked out nicely. We’ve been feasting from the jars of fruit that did not seal (we had 2 jars of pears, and 1 of applesauce not seal–not bad), fresh fruit before I can it, applesauce, watermelon, cantaloupe, berries, lettuce, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, snow peas, etc. from the garden.  I was given corn, peaches, and a loaf of bread.  I’ve pulled quite a few items from the freezer, freeing up space for the peaches and berries I’ve put in.  And, turkey.  Did I mention turkey?  🙂  It was a BIG one.

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We have used the excess grocery budget money to buy supplies for canning and freezing over the past 3 weeks, but didn’t need to buy anything else this week.  We have so much food on hand, and I love how much I’ve been able to put away for winter. I declare the August Grocery Challenge a success!

 

 

 

 

 

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August, 2017, $100 Grocery Challenge and Menu Plan, Part 2

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The week went very well for us.  Our garden continues to produce far more food than I can feed to the family.  What a blessing!  I froze the extra bits we could not eat, such as 3 small packages of broccoli, 7 pints of beans, a handful of strawberries, a tray of peaches, etc.  So, I had Rob stop by and get milk.  He got 4 gallons for $10, and that should take us through the end of the month, hopefully.  I also had him get coffee pods because this is a good time to stock up on something like that–when we don’t need the money for the basics.  They were $19.  The other items he bought were a 2-lb brick of cheese for $4.99 and a box of plain tea for $2.  Cheese will keep for a long, long time, and that’s an excellent price for Bandon (which is owned by and tastes like Tillamook.)  So, that’s a grand total of $36, leaving us with $17 to use until the end of the month on food for meals.

I’m still on a food preservation whirlwind, and Rob was able to u-pick about $100 lbs of apples for around 50c/lb., and excellent price around here.  He took Jake and they had a good time as long as Jake could dodge the bees.  He hates them.  It all worked out and they came home with 2 huge boxes of apples.  HUGE!  I’m letting them ripen up and will start making applesauce soon.  I got 21 quarts of pears canned today, and have finished with the fruit cocktail as of last night.  I have more pears to do tomorrow, but they are getting much lower in the boxes.  I enjoy canning, so it’s not a burden and I have the day saved for that purpose.  Thank goodness for that 50 pound bag of sugar Rob got last spring.  It’s still holding out!

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The sweet pickles are coming along.  By tomorrow night, they will be ready to can.  Each morning and night, I boil something and pour over the cucumbers.  You are supposed to use tiny, whole cukes, but chunks work fine.

Of course, the eclipse keep us occupied during my canning session today!

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My phone camera did not take a good picture of the eclipse, even with the special glasses held up to the camera lens.  What an amazing sight, I must say!  Our backyard was in the prime viewing area, so we stayed home and did jobs, took a peek, worked on canning some more, took a peek, etc.  It was quite creepy, but amazing, when it became cold and dark during the middle of the morning.  Quite a lot more of the shop organization project got worked on as well, today, as well as some menu planning.  IMG_5457

Here’s what we came up with:

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Monday:  Lunch: Sandwiches and I had salad.  Dinner:  Pizza-Noodle Casserole, green beans and coleslaw.  I also found some cookies in the freezer, which I pulled out and we are eating.

8-12 ounces noodles, boiled according to package directions (mine were rice rotini, but any would work) My box was a 12 oz box, but a small amount had been used previously.

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1-15 oz can tomato sauce or 2-8 oz cans

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Pizza toppings:  I used some pepperoni from the depths of the freezer, canned mushrooms and olives, 1/2 of a pepper that was suffering  from sunburn in the garden, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and a couple of diced tomatoes from the garden, which I added after it was cooked.

Pour the cooked and drained noodles into a flat baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray–mine was around 8″ x 11″.  Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on the noodles and stir to coat them. Pour the tomato sauce on top of the noodle mixture, then sprinkle with the Italian seasoning.  Sprinkle the 1 cup of mozzarella on top.  Then top with pizza toppings of your choice.  Bake at 350 degrees for around 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and it is warm.  It doesn’t take long because the noodles are already warm.  If you put it in the fridge all day, then bake, it will take about 1 hour.

The beans were from the garden and the cabbage was from my sister’s garden.

Tuesday:  Chicken soup.  I never made it last week.  Instead, I made ham and bean soup when the ham bone fell out of the freezer onto my toes one too many times:)  There is also some beef thawed out that Rob can barbecue.  We can eat the soup for lunch and the beef for dinner, or save the beef for sandwiches or salads for the next few days.  I have potatoes, beans, salad, etc. to go with the beef whenever we eat it.

Wednesday:  Picnic lunch.  We plan to go fishing.  I’m not sure about dinner.  We may buy some if it gets too late.

Thursday:  Sloppy Joes.  I have hamburger and buns in the freezer.  1/2 the package will be for Thursday, 1/2 for burgers on Friday.  We can have salad from the garden, beans, tomatoes, cukes, etc. as wanted.

Friday:  Hamburgers with pickles, tomatoes and lettuce from garden.  Maybe French fries.

Saturday:  Leftovers.  If there aren’t enough, I’ll cook something else from the garden or freezer.

Sunday:  Family Sunday Dinner at our house:  We still have several turkeys lurking in our chest freezer.  They’ve been there for a while, so we plan to pull one out and have Rob smoke it on the barbecue.  He will do this on Saturday, and we will serve it Sunday.  We will serve garden veggies with it, according to what is ripe that day.

Last Sunday, we ended up having the bbq that was planned and Rob also grilled some potato chunks with olive oil and spices (like rosemary).  He did them in foil.  They were from the garden and I purposely used up all the smaller ones from what I dug up a couple of days ago.  I made a rice salad with green onions and parsley from the garden, along with celery, dried cranberries and a dressing with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and another thing or two that slip my mind at the moment. It was so good.   I sauted  green beans with garlic and coleslaw from the cabbages my sister gave me.  I made a box of brownies from a mix I had been given from my sister, since she can’t bake this summer due to a remodel, and made lemonade and iced tea.  My aunt brought seltzers to share.

It should be easy to finish out the month on budget,  and I should have enough to get 1/2 and 1/2, and a few other things I think we will run out of.  $17 is really quite a lot since I have so much produce to eat.

 

 

 

 

August, 2017, $100 Grocery Challenge and Menu Plan

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August is a month of plenty for me.  My garden is growing rapidly, fruit is available everywhere, and my freezers are getting fuller and fuller each week.  I’ve decided to see if I can be more purposeful in utilizing the food I have on hand, rather than buying more.  So, I’ve decided to do a $100/month grocery challenge.  It should be quite easy to do, with the abundance of food on hand, and because I was gone for 1/3 of the month.  We took quite a bit of food with us, not knowing if there would be things I could eat, and we used some of it, but there were foods I could have much of the time, so I brought a bunch of mine home with me.  For several days, I enjoyed authentic Mexican food, cooked by the ladies of the church where we were helping!  Yum!!!

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My brother-in-law asked them all about the ingredients, etc., as he is fluent in Spanish, and I ate the foods that I could.  Much of it was corn-based, which is not a problem for me.   I did not get sick at all from those daily lunch meals.   Amazing.  Eating fast food on the way home—a different story.  It never seems to agree with me, even when I try to be careful.

After returning from my trip to Mexico, I went to the store and spent $47 on things like milk, etc.  So, that leaves me with $53 for the rest of the month.  I may not even need to spend it all–I’ll see.  I know I’m good for the rest of this week, for sure.

I will use the remaining grocery budget to buy apples and pears to process.  I’m completely out of applesauce, and have been for quite a while, so I want to can quite a few jars.  I don’t need very many pears, but want to do a few, and would like to make some fruit cocktail from peaches, pears, grapes and maraschino cherries.  Sometimes, I put pineapple in it as well, and usually buy a large can and add it in.  I hope to get some Elberta peaches from my sister to can, when they ripen.

Here’s what I’m planning to serve this week:

Sunday: Sandwiches:  We used up sandwich meat from our trip for our noon meal.  We wanted to finish the meat and cheese up rapidly so it wouldn’t spoil.  It was well-iced the entire time, but still….

Monday:  Spaghetti.  I pulled ground pork from the freezer and browned it with onions and celery.  I used 1/2 of it for spaghetti sauce.  There is a lot of sauce left over.  I served it with sautéed purple beans I picked from the garden.  They turn green when I cook them.  I added garlic to them at the last minute–yum!  I also put out cut up cucumbers from the garden.  There is enough sauce to freeze some for next week, plus eat leftovers for lunch.

Tuesday:  Chili.  Patsy is starving for chili, and asked me to make some.  I put pinto beans on to soak yesterday, and will use the rest of the pork I browned to make chili in the crock pot.  I see that there is lettuce in the garden, and I hope to cut some and have salad as well.  I could not get to everything yesterday and there is much to do in the garden!  However, we are gaining on the laundry:)  I will make a big batch and freeze some for next week.  I soaked a LOT of beans, so will cook up some plain as well to use later in the week, or next week.

Wednesday:  Chicken.  I plan to roast a whole chicken.  The weather is much cooler this week.  If Rob gets a bee in his bonnet, he may barbecue it, though, but I’m in the mood for roasted chicken, and then I can boil the carcass and get some broth.  I’ll do green beans again, as they are prolific in the garden, salad, and potatoes.  I think there are new potatoes ready out there, too, and I may start digging some up.  If not, I can buy a bag.  Potatoes are not a budget-buster:)

Thursday:  Chicken-rice soup.  I bought celery and carrots and have onions from the garden.  I can use the broth from Wednesday, and add rice from the pantry.  We like it simple.  I may make zucchini muffins if I get time, as there are SO many of those in the garden.

Friday:  Taco Salad.  I will pick lettuce and tomatoes from the garden, and use some hamburger from the freezer.

Saturday:  Leftovers.

Sunday:  Family Sunday Dinner–BBQ at our house this week.  I have both chicken drumsticks and steaks in the freezer, plus green beans, salad, potatoes–all from the garden.  If I think of anything else we could want, people usually bring things, and I can ask them to grab something.

Breakfasts:  I got some English muffins at the store, have a few yogurts, plus the usual cereal, oatmeal, toast, etc. people like to eat around here.  I have quite a few eggs in the fridge, and eat them frequently.  Sometimes I make breakfast burritos for the kids, and do have a few tortillas left that really need to be used.

Lunches:  Leftovers or sandwiches.  I bought a package of lunchmeat as part of the shopping I did and also have tuna in the pantry.  Peanut butter is Patsy’s favorite, so she can have that with our home-made jam.  Sometimes, I add a salad to the mix.

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Snacks and drinks:  There is a lot of fruit right now.  I’ve been picking a few peaches from the tree in the back yard, plus I can get some more from my sister.  My strawberries gave me about a cup yesterday, and the raspberries look like they are going to produce soon.  Once I make applesauce I will save some out to eat fresh, and  that will go over well.  We had popcorn last night, and can have it again.  There are quite a few snacks left over from our trip, as well, which will be especially handy if we go on picnics.

I bought some milk on Sunday when I shopped, can make lemonade from the bottle of lemon juice, and have several drinks left over from the trip.  I’ve been drinking a lot of water lately, and there’s always plenty of that!  I have a few sodas, too, plus 3 2-litre bottles.

 

March 2017 Low-Budget Grocery Challenge-End of Week 2

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This past week turned out great with the pantry challenge.  I was able to use up quite a few things, and was actually able to re-stock some items.

So, on week 1, we spent $11.50.  We got some cheese and some 1/2 and 1/2.

On week 2, which ends tonight, we bought more groceries.  We spent $16, $18, and $4.50 at 3 different stores, totaling $38.50.  I’m not sure how, but that totals exactly $50 for the 2 weeks, a nice round number. So, since I put $50 in an envelope twice, I now have an extra $50.

I got lots of basics like celery, carrots, 1 head lettuce, 25 lbs potatoes, 4 tomatoes, 6 lemons, milk, 1/2 and 1/2,  6 bagels, 6 English muffins,  2 dozen eggs, onions, 40 tortillas, 3 apples, the bananas, and a few other things.  I hit a Friday sale at a store near my house and got 2 bags full of groceries, plus the bananas for the $18. Rob did Cash and Carry  for large packages of tortillas, onions, carrots and 1/2 and 1/2 for his $16 and the $4.50 was spent at a discount store.  He went in there to get some gum for the kids in his classroom and found the fabulous deal on potatoes.

The items that were put back into the pantry were frozen bananas–there was a bag of very ripe bananas at one store for $2.28 and I got it. We ate a bunch and I froze a quart bag for smoothies.  Rob came across potatoes for 50c for 5 lbs–10c/lb.  I had him grab 25 lbs and am now wishing I had said 50!

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Meals:  There were muffins, cereal, eggs, some bacon and sausage for breakfasts. When Jake is here, he eats bagels a lot.  In fact, the entire bag I purchased on Friday has been eaten by him and some others.

Lunches:  I ground turkey with bread and butter pickles and Miracle Whip for sandwiches and we ate that several times. This was the end of a bag I found in the freezer. Rob always packs a lunch to work and he takes leftovers, sandwiches, fruit, crackers–whatever he can round up. He also takes coffee in a thermos every day.  Patsy packs a peanut butter sandwich daily, and takes fruit, etc. as well.  J and I ate a lot of soup, burritos and leftovers. I made rice and stir-fry on the day my mom came for lunch.

Dinners:  We ate a lot of turkey-rice soup, chili-mac casserole,  chili, a lot of tacos/burritos and refried beans.  We had pizza.  We ate broccoli, green beans, baked potatoes, rice, and lots and lots of beans.  Rob cooked some steak one day while I was gone.

Extras:  I made cookies and Patsy made Rice Krispie Treats for when we had company.  We had popcorn and corn chips.  We also used several odds and ends like partial bags of chips and crackers and the kids had some popsicles that were in the freezer.

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Items used:  Canning: Several jars of home-canned items including peaches, tomato products, green beans, pickles, salsa, jam, applesauce, and more.

Frozen:  hamburger,  steak, turkey from Thanksgiving, chocolate and white chocolate chips, butter, several kinds of peppers from 2015’s garden in re-fried beans, 3 chicken tenders for stir-fry, frozen corn from 2015’s garden, broth, bread, and more.  We carried in several loads from the freezers in the shop throughout the week.  I can start to see a little space in the freezers.

Pantry:  Several pounds of pinto beans, white rice, cereal, marshmallows, baking ingredients like gluten-free flour, sugar,cocoa powder,  etc., spices for cooking such as chili powder and poultry seasoning, gluten-free noodles, coffee, tea, hot chocolate (packets), corn chips, popcorn, peanut butter and more.

We had a church event. My sister was in charge of feeding 40-50 people.  She chose taco bar. I made a lot of refried beans as my contribution, and then enjoyed a taco lunch there. I made 2 crock pots full, and served them to our company as well as church, plus we ate them several times.  J and I ate over at my sister’s house a bit, and we took a few food items over there.  My brother-in-law took J, me and Alissa (his daughter) out for lunch after our homeschool meeting on Friday (we finally had our 1st semester grade meeting).  We took Jake for happy meals a time or 2.  (This is a different fund than my regular grocery budget)    My mom came for lunch one day.  On Sunday, we had friends over and there were 13 of us in all.  We served taco bar for them.   We got the kids a burger and some fries one day while we were out and about.  The funds for that came out of another fund–entertainment, but I thought I’d mention it to keep things real.  Also, sometimes the kids pitch in for something they want that’s not in my budget, such as french fries or a $5 pizza (which they promptly eat) and one day Jake’s mom sent him with money so we could stop and get him something on the road since he had not eaten yet.  Lovana swoops in on the weekends and cooks enough food for the week ahead as she prefers to eat a certain way.  At her new job, she can eat whatever she wants while she is there, but this is the first weekend where she didn’t cook it all ahead of time–just took a box of ingredients from here.  (From here being the pertinent  phrase in this case)

My point is, it all averages out.  If I serve 15 meals per day for 7 days, I am serving 155 meals per week, plus snacks.   I’m putting out ingredients for that many or more even though every one of us does not eat here every single meal.   I am using lots of pantry ingredients, and spending very little money while still stocking up a little bit, so I’m feeling very successful. I’m making a dent in my stockpile, while still grabbing that great deal on potatoes.   I have had to hold myself back from my usual habits of stocking up a lot when I find a great deal–but so far, so good.

I’m going to plan some meals for the week ahead in the next couple of days.  Until I get it done, I’m going to fly by the seat of my pants and plan one day at a time.  I have a busy week, so hopefully, I’ll have some inspiration quickly when I do write the list out.  Until then, there are lots of tortillas and refried beans left:)

 

 

 

My Low-Budget March Grocery Challenge

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There have been some extremely interesting grocery challenges going around on the internet lately.  I love reading what others do and how they experiment.  For instance, Terri, at The Blue House Journal, did a challenge where she bought $20 worth of groceries and cooked with them for a week, on certain days, sometimes skipping a day here and there, but managing to keep within her budget for an entire 7 days.  Then, she did another slightly different challenge.  Jane, at Hope and Thrift, bought $20 worth of groceries and ONLY ate from them for 7 days in a row, without skipping any days in-between.  Brandy, at The Prudent Homemaker, went for the entire month of January without buying any groceries, and ate entirely from her stockpile. She used her menus that she has developed using stored food, for this purpose, and has these menus listed on her website.

So,  of course, I wanted to join in on the fun, but knew none of these options would be exactly right for my family.  I have given quite a bit of thought to what would work for us.

  1.  I want to use up things I already have. I have a huge pantry full of ingredients, home-canned food and frozen food that is getting older each day since I did not preserve last summer, and space needs to be made for fresh garden produce this coming summer.  I have quite a bit of meat as well.  This is my main motivation for this challenge.
  2. I don’t want my family to feel deprived.  Some of my kids suffered greatly when they were little, due to lack of food or whatever, and the “game” is not fun for them, if I don’t be sensitive to their needs. In fact, I may not even tell some of them I’m doing it.  No need for anxiety here.
  3. I want to eat healthy, including lots of fruits and vegetables and staying lo-carb for myself.  It also needs to taste good.  I want meals to stay joyful for the most part, and a time when we can focus on each other, and not be wondering “what is it?” as we watch a few beans swim in a mystery broth with no flavor.  So, I am glad I have a lot of spices, etc. to perk things up with.  I won’t be able to please everyone all the time, but plan to please all of us part of the time, as usual.
  4. It needs to be gluten-free. I cannot tolerate any gluten at all, and so don’t even have regular flour in the house as I get sick when they let the flour puff out onto things and it gets into my food.  After one child cooked a few years back, and I was very sick for 3 days, I threw away the wheat flour.  I do, however, buy wheat bread, etc., and have trained the family to not leave crumbs around that would cross contaminate my food.
  5. I want to be able to take the kids (mine and nieces and nephew) for an ice cream, Coke, etc. on occasion, if I am in the mood.
  6. I want to be able to go to the store and replentish items if I run out, such as milk, eggs, etc.     Although I greatly admire people who can run out of things and creatively manage, our family is pretty stuck in our rut.  For instance, I eat an egg or some other protein almost every day for breakfast and so does Rob.  Patsy eats a peanut butter sandwich every single school day for lunch.  EVERY SINGLE DAY!  So, we don’t want to run out of peanut butter!  Ever!    Also, if I see a really good sale for one of our “items” I will buy more than one so I don’t have to buy at full price later.                                                                           img_4067 I was able to manage nicely during my challenge last summer on $50 per week.  The garden was in full force, though, and that helped a lot.  So, I’m going to put $50 in an envelope each week, and see how it goes.  When I looked through my food items, I was able to find many, many meals that could be made from what I had on hand and many more that would only need 1-2 small items to finish the recipe.  So, I anticipate that my end total will be much less than the $50, at least some weeks.  I will then save the rest of the $50 at the end of each week.  That savings will go towards re-stocking staple items, if I run out, or be saved as cash for summer grocery shopping.  Although we have poured over Rob’s pay stubs, looked at the internet, and he has asked people, no one can tell him exactly how much money he will be paid for summer, so we are preparing now in case it is less than he gets each month now.  Because he works for the school district, they save out some each month now and give it to him in the summer.  We don’t think it’s going to be an issue if we get more than expected.  We can probably figure out a way to spend any extra within the first 5 minutes, should that happen:)

I started this challenge last Tuesday.  I will probably go for 1 month, so through the 3rd week of March, but I’ll see how it goes–I may go longer.

This past week, I made a good start.  I made a gallon can of diced tomatoes into marinara sauce and chili.  I made shell pasta (like lasagna) with meatballs for our family dinner Sunday and Rob packed the leftovers for his lunch today.  I used more poppy seeds in the muffins. I have a bulk bag that is almost gone now.  The poppy seeds are getting old and need to go.  I boiled a frozen mystery bag of meat.  It ended up being a turkey drumstick and thigh and a few bits.  I made soup for dinner last night and will grind the remainder of meat bits in the food processor with some relish to make sandwich filling. I made chocolate chip cookies and used a small handful of pecans I found in them.

In the last week, we have purchased some 1/2 and 1/2.  That’s all we’ve needed so far.  I feel like we are off to a great start.

If you are doing any kind of grocery challenge, feel free to leave a link about it in the comment section so we can all read about it!   Or, just tell us about it.  It’s always encouraging to hear about what others are doing in the fight to make the best of our resources in a joyful, happy way.

Time To Clean the Fridge and Menu Plan

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I made a menu plan a couple of weeks ago.  That week, I cooked a lot of food, and then cruised along on the leftovers this past week.  For instance, I ate the last piece of lasagna last night for dinner along with some green beans.  I did have to cook some things, but it was minimal.  Today, when I went to make a menu plan, I quickly realized I could not make a grocery list because there was NO WAY to tell what I had or didn’t have in that over-stuffed, disorganized fridge.

So, I spent the morning cleaning it out.  I found things to toss.  I found lots of yucky stuff that had gotten tipped over, ran down the fridge, and settled into unidentifiable masses on the bottom.  There were crumbs, smears, and what looked like relish all over the shelves, and plastered to the door, even.  The leftovers were piled in stacks in no apparent order, random things like bowls of rice were piled onto mostly empty bowls of chili…..you get the idea!  So, I sorted, discarded, put contents of bottles together when people had opened new ones even though there was still some in the old one, washed and scrubbed, and ended up with a clean fridge.  Now I know exactly what I have to work with and I had a feel-good morning.  There’s nothing like clearing up a big mess to make me feel virtuous. Then,  I made a menu plan.

I am continuing with the theme I’ve had for the past couple of weeks–clean it out and use it up from the freezers, pantry and canning cupboard in preparation for summer, when I will grow a garden.

Breakfasts are choice of:  oatmeal, muffins, eggs with ham bits, homemade granola, cereal

Lunches are: leftovers such as soup, scalloped potatoes, salad, etc.

Dinners:

Today:  Rob barbecued chicken drumsticks, veggies, brown rice I cooked last week

Sunday:  Not sure yet–my sister and I still have to decide, but I’ll take whatever she tells me to bring

Monday:  Sausage and beans, using frozen pinto beans Rob cooked a few weeks ago, veggies

Tuesday:  Enchiladas, using some meat and bean mixture that was leftover from the chili-mac I made Thursday, veggies

Wednesday:  Roast beef, carrots and potatoes in crock pot

Thursday:  French Dip from leftover roast beef, carrot sticks

Friday:  Beef soup/stew with remaining beef–in Crock Pot

Saturday:  Home-made chicken nuggets, green beans, home-made fries

Veggies consist of my home-canned and frozen veggies, plus a huge bag of carrots I have.  I also have some salad greens and a cauliflower

To Make:  muffins, scalloped potatoes with ham (for lunches when there are not enough leftovers), big container of cut-up carrot and celery sticks for people to munch on, apple crisp with some apples that are getting a little wilty, roasted hazelnuts (from a bag I discovered in the freezer), and Chex Mix.

I need to buy:  1/2 and 1/2, milk, French dip buns, celery, look for potatoes on sale, and a few non-grocery items.  If I see something I regularly use on a super good sale, I may get a few more things, but I’m very pleased with the shortness of this list.  Any extra grocery money I may save will be put towards a Costco trip in a week or so.   It’s not hard to use up excess money.

So, here’s your challenge!  Does your fridge need cleaning?  Why don’t you go see what treasures you discover when you do?  It’s a feel-good job that you can accomplish in a couple of hours and you will feel “oh-so-successful” and thrifty when you do.

 

Weekly Menu for January 31, 2017

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I’ve been away from home a lot lately.  It’s been very fun.  But, now it’s time to get back to reality and get things organized at home.  Yesterday morning, I decided to tackle the menu planning.  I haven’t done any formal menu planning for a while, but trust me, we’ve still been eating.  However, I haven’t been using as much of my frozen, canned and stored food as I would like.  This week is different.

I went out yesterday morning and pulled broth, broccoli, and hamburger from the deep freeze.  I cooked the ham bone I brought home from the retreat, first chopping any little bits off that I could and freezing them for future use.  I then made split pea soup in my Instant Pot with that ham broth.  I still have a lot of split peas from a while back when I bought 25 pounds.  Rob cooked hamburgers with grilled onions for dinner, and saved me some for when I got home from work.  That also used some buns we had.  I had soup for lunch and he took it in his lunch today.  There’s lots left, so I may freeze some.

This morning, I roasted a chicken with lemon and rosemary.  I cut it up for dinner for both our family and my sister’s family.    Then, I cooked a large batch of rice in my Instant Pot, and put the chicken bones in the Crock Pot to make broth.  Chicken and rice is what both families will have for dinner tonight.  I’m eating over there, as I’m going straight to exercise at the Y after work, but left plenty for Rob here.  I made a batch of broccoli soup for lunch, and there is a little left over.

Tomorrow, I’d like to make chicken and dumplings from the broth.  There will be both split pea and broccoli soups available for lunches for the rest of the week, then the leftover chicken and dumplings.  Of course, there is sandwich stuff, salad stuff, and ramen noodles if people would rather have that.  (Some of the kids would, but most of us prefer other choices).

On Thursday, there are some potatoes that need to go, so I’ll do either mashed potatoes or baked french fries.  I’ll do meatloaf with those.  Friday will be leftovers or odds and ends.  On Saturday, I’d like to make a hash brown crust with an egg casserole inside, either for breakfast or lunch and have pizza for dinner. Frozen hash browns were another leftover item that I was given after the retreat.    Sunday, we will eat at my sister’s and we haven’t chosen our menu yet, but everyone will bring something.

With every dinner meal, I will either use home-canned or frozen veggies and/or salad to round it out with plenty of veggies.  I’m not sure if I will bake any desserts or not, it depends on how much time I end up with during the week.  Most weeks, I don’t, but Rob has still not had his birthday cake, due to his tooth issues, and we usually have brownies with football…….Super Bowl is Sunday, after all.

I may change it up a bit, but it’s a good plan and uses things I have on hand, for the most part.  I’ll go get the parts and pieces as needed to round it out. We live so close to stores now, one is only about a block away.  I actually saw a large gap in my freezer, which is great because I have lots of gardening plans for the coming summer!  I’d better keep making room, for sure.