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Meal Planning for the Week

July 15th, 2019 at 11:10 am

We had a pleasant evening last night. I cooked on the grill. We made corn on the cob, onions, bell peppers, zucchini from the garden, hamburgers and hot dogs. We have given up on finding soy free hot dog and hamburger buns. The ones we had been using suddenly started adding soy. Now we just use the Naked potato bread for our buns. It tastes better anyway. I managed the hamburgers a little better this time, moving them around when the flames flared too much. Everything tasted delicious. This is quickly becoming my favorite way to cook.

Here's my new meal plan for the week with grill days scheduled for the non-rainy days of this week:

Monday--pork roast, baked potatoes, leftover peppers, onions, and zucchini

Tuesday--Grilled chicken, baked potatoes, green beans

Wednesday--Creamy sausage, bell peppers, and onions, green beans

Thursday--Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, Normandy vegetables

Friday--Grilled pizza, salad

Saturday--Grilled steak, grilled corn on the cob, grilled zucchini

Sunday--Grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, grilled onions, grilled zucchini

Meal Planning for the Week

July 8th, 2019 at 10:42 pm

We will be grilling a few days this week. The days we aren't will be days it is scheduled to rain.

Beef pot roast, baked potatoes, leftover zucchini

Grilled pork chops, roasted potatoes, grilled onions, broccoli

Meatloaf, fried potatoes, green beans

Spaghetti and Meatballs, broccoli

Grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, grilled onions, grilled zucchini, grilled bell peppers

Grilled chicken, grilled onions, grilled bell peppers, baked potatoes

Grilled sirloin steak, grilled zucchini, roasted potatoes

This and That

July 7th, 2019 at 04:35 am

The fence is completed, another dump run was made, and all but the frame of the turkey pen is down. Now we just need to train my mother to stop leaving the fence gate open. It doesn't do any good to have a fence up to keep the deer out, if she is going to leave a doorway for them.

Tomorrow I want to go to Lowe's and pick up a grill basket for veggies, a second pair of BBQ tongs to prevent cross contamination and an empty hanging basket for my night sky petunias. I have $69 left in my allowance folder.

The meal plan has gone a bit by the wayside this week with the new charcoal grill, but I don't care. It's all food we have on hand so if I change things up a little, so be it. Today (well, technically yesterday) we did hot dogs, hamburgers, onion slices (I definitely want a grill basket), and sausages on the grill. The sausages are for breakfasts or lunches this week. DH taught DS and I how to use it from start to finish, so we can now do it on the days he isn't off from work if we want to.

My next plan is to do chicken thighs or legs tomorrow for dinner. I found this Jamaican jerk recipe on YouTube so I think I will either use that sans the spicy pepper (replaced with jalapeño) or the spices I use in Shawarma or Fajitas. Really depends on what I feel in the mood for doing tomorrow.

My 30 quart stainless steel bowl came. It's a touch bigger than I thought it would be, but I will be able to mix up a quadruple batch of meatballs, meatloaf, or breakfast burritos all at once. I can also prepare 14 pounds of potatoes at once for canning (that's a full canner load). It will have to be hand washed though. It would just barely fit in the dishwasher, but it would take up the whole bottom rack. Seriously, you could bathe a toddler in this thing. It makes me laugh every time I see it. I think I could have gotten by with a 20 quart bowl, but oh, well, I'm not sending it back.

I bit the bullet and signed up for the free trial of prime on amazon. I am not sure we particularly need it, but we want to watch Good Omens so we'll see. I usually get everything shipped free anyway because we order in such a way to do so, this will just be a faster arrival time. And the discount at Whole Foods. I marked the calendar. We might keep it if it feels worthwhile, since we are cancelling HBO on hulu since GoT is over and WW is a long way from its next season still. We will cancel right before the next renewal. Also marked on my calendar.

DD, DH, and I have all finished season 3 of Stranger Things. No spoilers, but it was mostly very good. I am glad it dropped on a long holiday weekend so we could watch all 8 episodes without pesky things like DH having to get up early for work getting in the way.

Meal Planning for the Week

July 2nd, 2019 at 04:46 pm

I forgot to post my meal plan for the week. Meal planning is an essential tool for me to stay on track with the grocery budget and to keep away from the take out trap.

Day One:
Fried chicken, roasted potatoes with peppers and onions, broccoli, watermelon

Day Two:
Beef pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, blueberries

Day Three:
Chicken Shawarma, naan bread, tzatziki, kohlrabi, blackberries

Day Four:
Ribeyes, potatoes, onions, and bell peppers, watermelon

Day Five:
Pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw, watermelon

Day Six:
Homemade pizza, salad, pineapple

Day Seven:
Cheeseburgers, fried potatoes, cole slaw, pickles, blueberries

Busy Morning Running Around

July 1st, 2019 at 12:57 pm

I had to take DD to the eye doctor this morning as we worried that she had eyeritis again. She does not, thankfully, but she does have extremely dry eye. The doctor has switched her to using preservative free Refresh and so we had to run around looking for that. Fortunately it was at the first store we went to, but traffic was a bear.

They had some turkey legs on sale so I picked those up. I am going to make them in the Instant Pot making broth and then take all the meat off the bones. There are seven of them, but they aren't the giant kind so all seven will fit in the Instant Pot. I have the bigger 8 quart pot. Some of it will go into mini turkey casseroles for the freezer bank and the rest of it will be chopped up for salads for the week.

I have been craving chef salads, but the store didn't have any turkey chubs, so this meat will do nicely once cooled. The reason I like chef salads so much is that there is enough flavor in the toppings that I don't feel the need for dressing, which makes the salad healthier.

I plan to make six more stuffed bell peppers today and a triple batch of breakfast burritos. Then hopefully I will be able to get some work done in the garden, too. I at least feel like I have the energy today to do so and my hip is behaving today. It isn't super hot outside, either, but pleasantly sunny with a breeze. Perfect weather for gardening.

Sick and a Visit to the Freezer Bank

June 24th, 2019 at 08:36 pm

I have really been out of it the last several days. I picked up a bug at the doctor's office when I went in for my hip. It's low level, but I am having a hard time shaking it off. It is hard to want to do anything. I've got a couple baskets of clothes and towels to fold and put away and some garden work that needs doing, and nothing. Just not up for it. At least it is not costing me any money, though. Take out was not purchased. Instead I went to the freezer bank.

Today I did not want to cook dinner, so I pulled out one of the bags of frozen chicken that I'd pre-seasoned with fajita spices and a bag of frozen onions and peppers that I'd pre-sliced. All I had to do was thaw out the chicken in the microwave and then dump it all into the Instant Pot. I threw a bag of frozen broccoli in the microwave and steamed it. So with just two to three minutes of hands on time I had a meal thrown together without having to really "cook" at all. This is what the freezer meal bank is for.

Tomorrow will be another Instant Pot meal with half a bag of frozen zucchini shreds (currently thawing in the fridge) from last summer, spaghetti noodles, jarred sauce, and some freeze dried sausage. Hopefully the next day I will be more up for cooking. The only hands on time will be in rehydrating the sausage and then the pouring of everything into the Instant Pot. This device has probably saved me more money than any other kitchen gadget I have ever purchased.

I have started planning my grocery shopping for Friday. I have lists made out for Costco and Trader Joe's. Unless anyone has bell peppers on sale, then I will also make a quick run to Winco. I have been making DH stuffed bell peppers for his work lunches. Those, too, are in the freezer bank and he takes them out as he needs to.

The next time I make breakfast burritos, I think I am going to plan for 36 eggs, 3 pounds of sausage and 48 tortillas. With both DH and DS eating these, we do end up short before the two full weeks is up. I might do one batch that is ham and green onions and not sausage, though, just to change things up a bit. We've got tons of green onions in the garden that need to be used. Maybe I will throw some diced bell peppers in as well, make it a kind of Denver omelet burrito.

Hopefully I will have the energy for this on the weekend. It really does save us a lot of money to have the food ready to go so DH is not tempted to run through the drive-thru on the way to work.

Got My X-rays Back

June 20th, 2019 at 11:20 pm

Well, I have degenerative hip disease in my left hip, but it isn't severe enough for surgery, so I guess that is good, even though it causes some discomfort. The right hip has no sign of disease which is really good news. The doctor thinks that the majority of my pain is coming from muscles, ligaments, and tendons, so we will proceed with physical therapy and hope that works. I have had physical therapy for other things, but never for my hip. I really hope it will help.

The one thing I am worried about is if there will be any treadmill work done. Every time I do any serious walking my legs and feet swell up so severely I feel like a sausage about to blow its casing. And you can visibly note lumps of swelling on my shins. It is painful and can take days to go down. This is because with the RA I am prone towards inflammation. I am kind of hoping they will end up having me do pool therapy as it is so much easier on my joints.

I made an awesome meatloaf for dinner yesterday. I finally made a version that my son liked. He has always been very meh on meatloaf. I also made two extra for the freezer. Bit by bit I am increasing the levels in my freezer bank. I have used one bag of the frozen meatballs the other night when I really wanted to just grab take out and it was so worth it because they are really great tasting.

The meatloaf was basically the same recipe as the meatballs, only with tomato sauce powder, an additional type of cheese, and covered in bacon. Tasted different enough for it to not feel like the same food at all, but as simple to make as the other.

I did not get anything done today. I had a cruddy night of sleep, the kind where you sleep, but don't feel rested at all and then I woke up with a lot of pain in my hip. Actually, that's probably why my sleep was not restful. So other than harvesting some lettuce for dinner, I wasted most of my day on youtube.

Oh, and I did upload a garden update to my youtube channel in the early a.m. FireandI, you might be interested.

Text is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OEp4HewfNk&t=4s and Link is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OEp4HewfNk&t=4s The garden is starting to make some serious progress.

Teaching Myself Flatbreads and Dehydrating Herbs

June 12th, 2019 at 01:00 am

So I have been on a flatbread kick lately. First I learned how to make pita bread, then I learned how to make tortillas, and today I made naan bread for the first time. I hadn't planned on doing this, but they repaved part of the Trader Joe's parking lot and it is hard enough to find parking when the full lot is available, so I couldn't pick up soy free Naan bread. I decided to just go ahead and make some since I had yogurt for making the tzatziki sauce (used fresh dill from the garden in this).

It really wasn't that hard. The recipe makes six, but I made 4 larger ones instead, since I was making chicken shawarma and we like to wrap it up in the bread. Usually I make pita bread, but I wanted something a bit thicker to stand up to the juices. It worked a treat. And the bread was just amazing otherwise. I used this recipe:

Text is https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/homemade-naan.html and Link is
https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/homemade-naan.html It was a lot cheaper than buying it and really didn't take a ton of hands on time, maybe 30 minutes.

I also harvested a bunch of herbs today and have them in the dehydrator. I have 1 tray of spearmint, 1 tray of peppermint, 1 tray of holy basil (green), 2 trays of purple basil, 1 half tray of purple basil with a half tray of thyme, 1 half tray of parsley with some oregano and a few more mint leaves, and a tray of cilantro. I usually dehydrate enough herbs for the year and most of my teas, too. It is amazing how much money I save by doing this and the spices keep longer than store bought ones without losing their flavor. It is so worth the time involved.

More Freezer Meals Completed

June 10th, 2019 at 11:57 pm

Well, I got my chicken cut up tonight and I got 7 two pound bags of meat out of the six value packs. I did up 4 bags for chicken shawarma (one is for dinner tomorrow) and 3 bags for chicken fajitas. I already have cut up onions and bell peppers in the freezer, so when I need to do fast, easy meals when I am sick or hurt, I can just throw it all together in the instant pot and have a good meal and not give in to the urge for takeout. My hands are aching from cutting the meat up small, but I'll cope. I am going to go back to Safeway tomorrow and get some more chicken while there is one day left in the sale.

Next I want to do up 4 bags for black pepper chicken and 3 bags for chicken and broccoli. It might take me a few days to accomplish that, but by golly, I am not going to make the takeout mistake again. Twice a month is one thing, several days in a row for a couple of weeks, not so much. Besides, $1.99/lb for boneless skinless thighs is a sale I won't see again for a long time. I have to take advantage of it while I can.

Huge Batch of Meatballs

June 10th, 2019 at 01:50 am

I am kind of up and down with how I am feeling. I am still really tired and kind of light-headed, low grade fever, but I have some energy. Today I used that energy to make 70 meatballs. We eat 14 meatballs per meal as a family, the guys eat 4 each and the girls eat 3 each with pasta as that is what our hunger levels say to eat. So 70 meatballs is 5 meals' worth. I used one meal's worth for dinner tonight, making Rotini in the Instant Pot.

I individually froze the meatballs so they wouldn't stick together and then vacuum sealed them into meal-sized portions with my Food Saver. This will prevent freezer burn and they will last a lot longer than what is typical. Although, we will likely use them long before that.

Tomorrow I have to work on getting all the chicken cut up and seasoned and frozen and then chop the onions for the ones that will become chicken shawarma as well. I have bags of onions and bell peppers in the freezer already for the ones that will become fajitas.

Then I will pick up some more chicken on this sale and can it. It will be fast and easy because I am using the raw pack method and it is just putting boneless, skinless thighs into jars and pressure canning it. It makes its own broth. You can do it with broth, too, if you are using the hot pack method, but I usually don't because it adds extra time to an already long process. Actually I might can first, since the chicken I pick up from the store might be partially frozen like last time and what is now in the fridge is fully thawed.

One more day and the chiropractor is back from yet another vacation. My hip is so out of place it isn't funny. It'll probably take 3 to 4 weeks for me to recover from his stupid jaunt. It usually does. I really need to get an MRI on this hip. I have been putting it off, but we finally hit our family out of pocket max, so if I am going to do it, now is the time.