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No Take Out Running Smoothly--On My End Anyway

May 3rd, 2024 at 08:11 am

I was exhausted yesterday after doing a big Costco Shop, but I think we are set for a while.  Having 30 pounds of butter back in the freezer eases my mind a fair bit.  Only 10 pounds of it was on discount, but I was down to 2 boxes (4 pounds), and I want to get another 30 pounds in there come June, July at the latest.  I am planning on making up some of my herb garlic butter and repackaging it for the freezer, so I have it for making garlic bread, ravioil, salmon, shrimp, and vegetables like zucchini and broccoli.

I'd like to have at least ten pounds of it made up in 4 oz portions to keep in the fridge one at a time.  I should start keeping the whipped cream cheese containers.  They would be the perfect size.  Plus save me money on containers, since we don't buy individual yogurt anymore, just the big plain one we put our own fruit in.  Now that I have a label maker it would be easy to know what is what at a glance.

We bought 6 of those bags of broccoli that have 4 4 pound steamer bags in them, so we are set on broccoli for a while.  That will make meal prepping easy for a while.  And the ingredients for breakfast burritos, which I am making before I go to bed tonight.

Last night for dinner I made chicken and mozzarella ravioli with my garlic herb butter and a Caesar salad and strawberries.  It was a nice simple dinner and did not take long and cost the same amount for the whole family as one entree at Olive Garden would have cost.  And we had leftover fruit, salad fixings, and garlic herb butter.

Tonight for dinner I made creamy chicken taquitos using my home canned chicken, some salsa verde, 4 oz cream cheese, cumin, chili powder, a bit of lime juice, cilantro is optional, and tortillas, preferabbly corn, but we only had wheat in the house.  To that we had garden salads and a fruit salad of honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple, and grapes.  And we had a dozen leftover taquitos to go in the freezer.

In the morning, I plan to do some breakfast sandwiches.  Since we bought bagels at Costco and only planned to buy six, but they had a buy one get one free going on, we have six extra, so I thought I'd make those into bacon, egg, and cheese everything bagel sandwiches and put those in the freezer for DD.  We have an egg sandwich machine that does two at a time, so it won't take but fifteen minutes to do six.  Plus, I will do up and peel some eggs for the fridge and make some breakfast tv dinners of 2 scrambled eggs/2 sausage patties/hashbrowns for DH and 4 2 oz sausage links and 4 egg bites for me or a low carb omelet.  Depends on how hungry I am.  Given my energy level after that I may make up some pancakes as an alternate to hashbrowns for DH.

I'd like to do some lunches for the fridge for the next few days, but we will see, since I want to go pick up my tomato and pepper plants.  If possible, we want to get them planted, too.  

The plan for Saturday or maybe Sunday freezer cooking is:

3 meatloaves (1 for dinner)

2 pans mashed potatoes*

4 pans Italian meatballs

2 pans Swedish meatballs

3 pounds taco meat

2 pans hamburger steaks with gravy

2 pans spaghetti and homemade sauce*

2 pans lasagna*

*It is more important to me to get all the meat based items taken care of, but I am sure there will be downtime to peel potatoes and to boil pasta while waiting for the meatballs to cook.  The pasta sauce will only start in a skillet until the onions and then garlic are ready and then transferred to the crockpot to finish off, so I will still have burners available to make gravy and boil pasta and the potatoes will be in the Instant Pot.  If not, than the pasta, sauce, and potatoes can wait a day or two or even until the next week.

The next weekend I want to do:

3 pans jerk chicken (1 for dinner)

2 pans chicken enchiladas

2 pans chicken fajitas

2 chicken pot pies with buttermilk biscuit top crust only

2 pans Meditteranean chicken bake with vegetables

2 pans Southern stewed chicken

Some of these may not be in pans.  They may be in bags, but I mostly like the pans with the lids because I know exactly how much food I have without weird guestimating and stuff stacks properly while freezing and after freezing.

I may just have to raise the grocery budget up higher than expected at first, maybe by $200, but eliminating the takeout budget entirely, except on trips, it should way more than compensate.  Of course, we have been working towards this, but I'd say each month has had at least a week's worth of spectacular failure when you add all the days up.  Just have to find the will power, the energy, and the strength.

DH keeps forgetting his food at home and so he is still buying takeout at work.  So that's what I mean by adding up to takeout failures of a week's worth.  And he's buying soda to keep himself awake because he doesn't like coffee or tea.  So I can't do much about those expense, though I will keep encouraging.  He's got a lot going on at work with deadlines and he's under a lot of stress physically from this systemic illness.  I don't want to nag too much.

At least I've got him going to the doctor and to physical therapy now.  And he's finally got an appointment with wound care Monday, about a year into this leg thing, which is a staph infection, by the way.  I don't know if I ever said.  They finally did a skin scraping early last month or late March and we finally found out.  So I called it.  It didn't have to become systemic if they would have done things right from the start.  Well, at least we won't be paying for it.  We've met our out of pocket max now.

Okay, it's late or actually very early, and the yesterday I started talking about when I began writing this post is now two days ago.  I'm rambling and will probably stop making sense soon, so I will wrap this up now.  I'm going to calculate my net worth tomorrow.  I hope I break even.

 

Back to Meal Planning to Save Money

April 23rd, 2024 at 03:08 am

Today I sat down and wrote out 14 days worth of lunches and dinners that I can rotate around.  The lunches are just for me and my son since we will be eating at home and meal prepping.  The dinners are for everyone.  So I am choosing from the master list for this week based on what I have in the house, although I will have to do a small grocery shop to fill in some gaps tomorrow.

Day One:  Tacos and yellow rice

Day Two:  Baked chicken, baked potatoes, and broccoli

Day Three:  Spaghetti, meatballs, and a chunky vegetable tomato sauce with onions, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, and eggplant (if they have it, will be trying for first time)

Day Four:  Chicken fajitas and yellow rice

Day Five:  Pot roast, mashed potatoes and gluten free gravy, and green beans

Day Six:  Jerk chicken, Normandy vegetables, and white rice

Day Seven:  Chicken stir-fry with bell peppers, onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, garlic, ginger, and water chestnuts, and stir-fried rice

So, I have all of the proteins on hand, I just need to pick up a few of the vegetables.

I also plan to make up some beef soup bones to make some broth and then make some beef and veggie soup for my daughter.  Something hearty, but simple for her, and no tomatoes, like most beef soup has.  She doesn't eat well when she has bronchitis, so I think this would be good for her.  I have a ton of beef bones to get through still.

As for lunches, this week we'll go with taco salads, chicken salad (not the sandwich filling, like Caesar), and salmon and zucchini.  We have a lot of fish we need to get through so we have room for this year's fishing.  Halibut season is upon us already.  DS's breakfasts are breakfast burritos and I don't eat breakfast except on rare occasions and then it is either 2 eggs, or a couple 2 oz sausages.

I see the doctor on Wednesday.  Hopefully, I can get antibiotics for this nasty sinus infection.  The pain in my face is driving me up the wall.  I could go into urgent care tomorrow, but I hate urgent care.  It is the worst.  I had to reschedule my dental appointment.  I know sinus infections aren't contagious, but it was the only time the doctor could see me this week.  And the on call docs were all full up, too.  I hope I don't catch something else at the doctor's office.  I am wearing a mask and gloves when I go in.  I swear I catch more things at medical offices than anywhere else.

Planning the Groceries to Keep the Family Out of the Take Out Line

February 13th, 2024 at 11:20 pm

I am really, really tired of not being ready for dinner and being too tired to make lunch all the time, so it is time to get serious.  Three things I know for sure I want to make for dinner this week are meatloaf, chicken fajitas, and polish sausage, onions, and peppers.  We have all of the ingredients for those except a lime and cilantro for the fajitas and cauliflower to make riced cauliflower to use in place of bread crumbs in the meatloaf as I can no longer find rice crumbs or gluten free bread crumbs.  They are always sold out.  Although if I can find them I will use them instead of caulifower.

If I am making meatloaf, it is also easy enough to make meatballs at the same time.  So I can put two extra meatloaves in the freezer for dinners in the future and then I can do a quadruple batch of meatballs.  I can simmer some of them in sauce and pack them into lunch containers for lunch prep for the fridge and then one can be divided up into lunch freezer containers, and 2 batches can be divided up for spaghetti dinners in the future.

I can make a couple double batches of fajitas on sheet pans in the oven for a total of four, one for dinner, one to divide up for lunches in the fridge or freezer, and two to freeze for future dinners.  And then do the same thing with the polish sausage meals.  Any lunch meals we have too much of will be frozen, but we are feeding 4 people.  I will have carbs available for those who wants them, like spaghetti for the meatballs and tortillas for the fajitas or sausage and peppers and of course fruit.  I just won't be eating that.  I will add zucchini on the side of my meatballs and sauce, though.

Then my son wants one other chicken dish for meal prep, so know I am going through some recipes to try to figure out something that will be good for dinner and yet also meal prep for lunches well.  Maybe something in the Chinese stir-fry range.  It's been a while since I've done black pepper chicken and I've got a bag of stir-fry veggies that really need to be used up.  I'll have to buy some more chicken.

I can't believe I am this close to being out of chicken.  I have one package of boneless, skinless thighs, six whole chicken breasts.  That should be enough for all the fajitas, so I need enough for the stir-fry.  Otherwise I only have one package of thighs and one package of legs in the house.  That is so low on chicken for me.  I'll have to find a good sale soon.

As for tonight's dinner, that will likely be stir-fry, because all the other meat will have to thaw out and will take forever before I can start assembling anything.

I do need to buy fruit and some veg, though.  We are down to 2 oranges, 4 regular kiwi, 5 yellow kiwi, and 2 apples.  So we need bananas, more oranges, a couple apples of a different variety, a pineapple if they are ripe, a mango, some tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, green onions, a leek, cabbage, a lime, 4 lemons, and maybe berries.  Maybe even a guava.  I've never had a guava, but I like all the other tropical fruit, except starfruit, so why not?

Berries are out of season so an extreme luxury.  It won't be blueberries sadly, if I buy some, because the last several containers I have bought have been so sour despite being fully blue they taste like they should be pink.  Like they've been died or something.  I don't mine tart sweet,  But tart isn't the same thing as sour.  The strawberries haven't been ripe, just the blackberries and raspberries and I don't like raspberries.  So berries are conditional, but at least the blackberries taste good, they are just the most expensive.

I am going after the more tropical fruits, because they are in season, and they are packed with vitamin C.  My daughter is sick again and I am trying to keep from getting sick.  There is only so much taking a vitamin can do for you and I always feel like you get your best vitamins from food.  I just wish I'd been well enough to harvest our rose hips at the right time this year so I could make tea with them now.  I might still find a few that are good if I look, but most will be no good.

Anyway, that's me again, sharing my thought process as I figure out my grocery list to meal prep, to save money in the long run, cook at home, and get the family to stay out of the take out line.

Meal Planning

January 22nd, 2024 at 07:53 am

I really want to stay on top of things this week, as there are a lot of appointments, so I am meal planning to make sure nothing gets away from me.  I have two things in the freezer that I want to use up, which are a ravioli lasagna and a meatloaf that I made up when I was batch cooking in the past.  I do have to check that they are good first, but if they aren't, I will just make fresh ones for dinners this week.

I will figure out breakfasts and lunches, but they tend to be repeats and we all kind of grab what is in the freezer, because I batch cook breakfast burritos and egg sandwiches, or eat cereal.  I will probably also pick at the chicken that doesn't go in Tuesday's soup for my lunches.  Most of the days will be gluten free, but not all of them.  While I can make gluten free pizza, it takes a couple more hours to make the dough than regular and I don't want to take that much time.  I'm pretty sure I have all the ingredients in the house and shouldn't have to set foot in the grocery store this week.  It would be nice to buy some fresh thyme for the chicken soup, though.  Nice, but unnecessary when I have dried.  As usual, order is subject to scrambling due to the whims of the cook (me).

Monday:  Instant Pot Chicken cooked underwater to make broth, roasted fresh root vegetables and zucchini (frozen), apples

Tuesday: Chicken noodle (gluten free) soup with celery, and leftover roasted root vegetables, toasted bagles with goat cheese, and salad

Wednesday: Meatloaf, fried home canned potatoes with frozen onions and bell peppers, home grown home canned green beans (2019), canned pineapple

Thursday:  Ravioli lasagna or regular salad, pull apart garlic bread, home canned pears

Friday:  Homemade Pizza with sausage, ham, pepperoni, ground beef red and yellow onion, zucchini, frozen bell peppers, mozzarella, homemade low sodium pizza sauce.  I will make my own individual little pizza that is mostly veggies, has less cheese, and has a small amount of meat on it and just seasoned ground beef so it doesn't have salt in it.  I might even do a cauliflower crust pizza.  Salad and home canned nectarines to go with.

Saturday:  Leftovers

Sunday:  Beef chuck roast, baked potatoes, green beans, oranges

Since Everyone Else Is...

January 22nd, 2024 at 07:17 am

I thought I'd update my pantry challenge, too.  I am cleaning out the freezer of convenience foods that I do still buy from time to time, but haven't made in a long while and they are getting to the end of the time where freezer burn will set in if they are not used soon.

To that end, tonight we had garlic butter shrimp (that box from Costco), frozen broccoli (that bag from Costco), and frozen corn on the cob that we froze last summer.  We dipped everything in the garlic butter sauce since there was so much of it left after cooking the shrimp.  And we had golden kiwis, which thankfully have lasted this long, but definitely needed to be eaten pronto.  Breakfast was breakfast burritos, lunch was a no go for me and everyone else had chicken salad sandwiches.

The night before that we did spring rolls, beef mandu, yakisoba, and frozen berries, also all from Costco.  Breakfast was homemade biscuits (with alternative baking soda and alternative baking powder that are not sodium based), folded eggs, and cheese.  They also had bacon.  Lunch for the others was chicken quesadillas.

And then the night before that we did bagel, ham, and cheese sandwiches, potato chips, oranges, and salad.  I did send my husband out to get salad fixings because I was tired of the frozen veggies and it is not like we can't buy anything.  It was the first day the roads were clear enough to drive and the stores had reopened after a snow drop of a foot.  And chips.  We had regular chips, but I needed my low sodium Tim's Thins chips.  The bagels, ham, and cheese are all from Costco.  I keep the ham and bagels on hand in the freezer and we had thawed them out the day before.  Well, not the cheese, it was in the fridge.  Breakfast was cereal, but I didn't eat it.  I did have lunch, which was homemade chicken soup, which the kids had.  DH had leftovers.

I don't remember the other days and I didn't write them down, but it was pretty similar.  I watched my sodium counts, though, because with a lot of these convenience foods the sodium is high.  Except for the day I rubbed everything in the shrimp butter and I felt that.  Gotta be more careful.

Weird Experience, Pricey C-pap Supplies, Weight Loss, Pantry Challenge

January 13th, 2024 at 01:37 am

You ever have just one of those weird days that is just kind of spooky?  I had my follow-up Echocardigram this morning and then went over to pick up my c-pap supplies.  When I got out of my car I heard my name shouted.  It was close, like in the parking lot, which is small.  Only it wasn't my name, it was my nickname, and it is pretty rare.  No one calls me that name but my mom, my dad, and my sisters.  My dad is dead, one sister doesn't speak to the family including her own kids, the other is working, and my mom was at home.

I looked all around me and even called out, "Yes?", but there was no answer.  I changed what I was called to my real name when I started sixth grade, so it was highly unlikely anyone from elementary school would have recongized me and if they had they would have come over.  But there was no one.  So I went in and got my stuff.

When I came out the door, I heard the word, "Go!" right in my ear and I swear it sounded just like my dad.  It stopped me in my tracks.  Again, there was nobody around, just me.  So I shake it off and get in my car, planning to go to the library next, because it will still be light out for an hour before the homeless people move in and park themselves on the steps and it will be too dangerous to go, so I can get in and out and find something to read and then go to the grocery store.

Plan in mind, I back out of my parking spot and happen to glance up at the marquee of the strip mall next door.  There's a new shop there and it's called, get this, Home Instead.  Now I am having a little freak out at this point, but I decide to go ahead and trust my instincts and go directly home.  I start on my usual route, which takes me past Another Way Outreach Center, which I drive by all the time, I mean come on, and I come up to the stoplight to make my usual turn, and it is red, and my gut is just saying, no take the other way, take the other way, take the other way, so I go straight and take the longer way.

I have no idea why, I got home safe and sound, nothing weird was going on at home.  Maybe I avoided a car accident or something.  Maybe it was all a coincidence.  But I've learned to trust these things, because the one time I didn't, it ended badly.  I'll probably never know.

As for the c-pap supplies, those are going to be $702 when they finish processing through the insurance.  Gotta love the deductible.  

I have officially lost 6.2 pounds since coming back from Seattle.  Thinks are doing well on the pantry challenge.  I had a migraine yesterday, so DH made me scrambled egg sandwiches, which is just the eggs on bread wiht butter and you fold the bread in half.  For lunch, I had the last of the beef stew.  I didn't eat breakfast.  Everyone else ate leftovers for lunch.

Tonight I will be making a kielbasa, shrimp, peppers, onions, and cabbage stir-fry.  Semi-spicy.  Not a jambalaya.  Rice on the side.  Chicken salad was for lunch, on tortilla or spinach wraps for everyone but me.  I had mine in steamed Napa cabbage that I used in place of a wrap.  Skipped breakfast.  Most of the time we are just not breakfast people.

Tomorrow?  Maybe baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans for dinner.  Lunch will likely be leftovers of dinner tonight or more chicken salad wraps.  Oh, wait, tomorrow is Saturday.  Maybe we'll do meatloaf or meatballs with spaghetti.

 

Pantry Challenge for Realsies

January 10th, 2024 at 07:38 am

Although we did do the pantry challenge for the first few days of January, I wasn't posting and then of course, I didn't do it while we were in Seattle, because how can you when you are away from your pantry?  And I didn't do it the last two days as we settled back in.  So I am integrating some leftovers in as well as cooking from the pantry now.  My MIL bought us Sushi last night, so...

Breakfast/Lunch was leftover sushi.  I don't get the raw kind, because I can't handle raw fish.  Lox is the closest I can get to raw salmon and I don't really even like that, although I can eat it.  I had six pieces left off 16 from last night's dinner, so that was my lunch.  I don't eat a lot because of being on the Ozempic.

Dinner was Beef Stew with potatoes and carrots.  I made a gluten free gravy for it with no salt.  I had a 3 cup bowl.  Then I had an orange and 12 chocolate chips.  That's all I will eat today.  I had as much water as my cardiologist allows.  I lost another pound this morning.

I have some breakfast sausage in the freezer tomorrow so I will fry that up and have it for the next few days with some cucumbers, but will be making breakfast burritos for the others tomorrow because we have a lot of eggs and sausage from our hog in the fridge.  Then for dinner I plan on making a stir-fry that includes kielbasa, frozen shrimp, red, orange, and yellow bell peppers, onion and green cabbage or possibly Napa cabbage depending on which needs to be eaten first.  And then basil herb brown and wild rice from a Lundgren's box mix.  Or maybe Lundberg.  It's organic.  My box mixes are getting close to their expiration dates.  I think I will either have half a mango, which is finally ripe, or a kiwi, also.

I need to sit down tomorrow and plan out the rest of the week.  The bell peppers need to get used up as they are starting to wrinkle, so probably something with those.

 

 

What's Left in the Fridge, Trying to Figure Out Meal Planning Before Shopping

October 5th, 2023 at 09:26 pm

The busy week of medical appointment ridiculousnous is almost over.  One more appointment in 2 hours and then nothing more until the 11th.  At least nothing more for me.  DH can toddle himself off to his physical alone.

So I just took an inventory of what is left in my refrigerator and it is looking pretty good on not having too much food waste.  We had no leftovers to toss out since last payday.  It wasn't perfect.  I did have to throw out some old apples from who knows when, because I don't remember buying them, that I must have missed the first time I went through the fruit drawer, thinking they were good, a lime that had turned brown, and I found a soupy cucumber, but that was in a drawer my son went through the first time, too, so I think it just got missed.  So those got tossed out.

Here's what I do have left for produce in the fridge: 1 large parsnip, 1 large turnip, 2 medium carrots, half a bunch of celery, 2 bunches of green onions, 1 bunch of red radishes, 8 little plums off our tree, some of our peppers, a thumb of fresh ginger, 1 Pink Lady apple, 2 Jazz apples, 1 Cosmic Crisp apple, half a bag of cuties orangies, 1 pineapple, 1 head of romaine, 1 Caesar salad kit, a Napa cabbage, and a red cabbage.  Outside of the fridge I have bananas, about 10 pounds of potatoes, 3 sweet potatoes, 3 sweet onions, and 4 yellow onions.

The celery, green onions, carrots have seen better days.  I need to take the greens off the radishes or they will be soupy and I hate digging radishes out of soupy greens.  I should have done them when I bought them and stored the separately so I could put the greens on the salad fixings.  Now they are past that point.  Oh, well.  I still have nasturtium flowers and can get that same peppery taste from them.

So far, I think I will be making stew to use up the carrots, celery, parsnip, turnip, and add some potatoes, and sweet potatoes, to fill it out.  I'll probably to it with chicken, since I think beef tastes funny with parsnips.  That'll use up everything that is on the edge except the green onions.  So for that I'll make loaded baked potato soup, since I have plenty of potatoes.  There are a bunch of little ones that are too small to peel for canning, so we will be using those ones, quartered, in the stew and then I have some medium sized ones for the soup, because we like them peeled for that.

I will need to buy some more carrots for sure, sour cream, and whole milk for the soup.  I have bacon from our pasture raised hog in the freezer.  So that will take care of two dinners and use up a lot.  I will cut up the romaine, and use that up with the salad kit for greens.  There is enough dressing to dress that much lettuce in the salad kit.

The pineapple needs to be cut up and eaten up.  The other fruit can hang out longer, but not it.  I do hope to finally make it out to the orchard this weekend and hope they still have my favorite apple in their storage shed.  It's 3 weeks past when they were picking, so there is a good chance they do.

I should shred up half the purple cabbage and I can make coleslaw with it as well as use it as salad fixings.  As for the Napa cabbage, I think I'll make some cabbage rolls, but not the traditional kind.  I like to make them with dumpling filling and steam them in a bamboo steamer, then lightly fry them in a pan until lightly brown and crispy.  I don't like the ones covered in tomato sauce.  It's more work, but a better end result.  Also, it is much lower in carbs than dumplings.

That gives me Friday, Saturday, and Sunday's meals and finishes out the week for me.  Tonight we are having fresh pasta.  We are having leftovers tonight.  I have 2 large servings of fresh bucatini pasta to make up with half a jar of alfredo sauce and an almost full jar of marinara sauce, so that works out.  We have lots of meatballs, so 1 of us will have a meatball sandwich.  Actually, I might just have the meatballs with green beans and make up some fried potatoes.  That sounds better to me.  I don't have to worry about DH until Friday.

Alright, this gives me a starting place to figure out my list.  I am out of a few things that are on sale this week like DH's Miracle Whip and Multi-grain Cheerios, plus spaghetti.  Although, I am almost at the point of getting the attachment for my KitchenAid and making my own spaghetti it is getting so expensive.  The only one that ever seems to go on sale is Barilla and I don't like the taste of Barilla.

American Beauty used to be the cheap one and I like it.  I am going to have to go to Winco this week to find it.  Hopefully, they will finally have the turkey chorizo, too.  I might even go to Walmart.  I hate going to Walmart.  It's not a super Walmart so it only has some grocery items, but it does have a lot of dried goods.  I do need Puffs multi-packs tissues soon, plus I'm getting low on the low sodium sausage links, so I can grab one of their Great Value packs and see if we like it.  I'm not that picky about pasta, I just don't like the taste of Barilla.  Every other brand I've tried I've been fine with.

But Winco should have cheap pasta and it usually beats everyone else on almost everything else.  Just not beef.  I can walk out of there with prices half what they are elsewhere for produce.  And it is the only place I can ever find Ambrosia apples, a blink and you'll miss them variety of apple.

Well, I can make up my list this evening and DS and I can go shopping tomorrow, other getting Miracle Whip, Cheerios, and socks at Fred Meyer, since it is over by his psychiatrist's office.

Meal Plan for Week 2 of Food Waste Reduction Challenge

September 19th, 2023 at 04:13 am

Okay, now that I've sent in my post on how I did during week one, here is my plan for week two.  I've decided to take it easy on myself, because I still have this cold, or possibly a sinus infection, and it is dragging me down and I don't want to have to work too hard at making dinners right now.

Meal One: Beef Stew--Jarred beef, jarred potatoes, jarred carrots, low sodium beef gravy powder, low sodium beef broth, fresh garden green beans on the side

Meal Two: Fresh Spaghetti (shorter cook time), low sodium basil garlic spaghetti sauce, and frozen homemade turkey and lamb meatballs, salad on the side

Meal Three: Baked salmon (wild caught by us), corn on the cob, fresh garden green beans, baked potatoes

Meal Four: Pork chops smothered in homemade onion gravy, baked potatoes, and steamed cabbage

Meal Five: Chicken with Meditrranean Vegetables and Seasoned Rice

Meal Six: Steak with sweet potatoes and broccoli

Meal Seven: Extra Large Chicken Stew, 12 b/s chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces, with 4 large potatoes, 4 sweet potatoes, 4 carrots, 1 large parsnip, 1 large turnip, 4 stalks of celery, 1 onion, all veggies cut into bite size chunks, 2 packs of chicken or turkey gravy (low sodium) and chicken or turkey broth (low sodium) to make the gravy up.  Cook in crock pot 8 hours on low.  Serves four for dinner and makes several lunches for the week or for the freezer.

My son will be helping with peeling and chopping.

Checking In on Last Week's Food Waste Reduction

September 18th, 2023 at 09:57 pm

Last week we started on our plan to reduce excessive food spending and food waste by using up all of our leftovers, not eating out, not letting food rot in the fridge before we got to it, and buying according to our meal plan, which allowed for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for the snackie ones.  Also, the ingredients for making deserts are always on hand, you just have to want them enough to make them.

So, on objective one, we did use up all of our leftovers last week, so I am quite proud of that.  That has been our second worst issue when it comes to food waste, whether it be from cooked food or takeout food.

We cleaned out both fridges before making a meal plan so we knew exactly what we had that was good and could be used.  It wasn't a lot.  Of course we had all the meat in the fridge, so we didn't even have to buy that at all.  So starting with what we had, we then looked in the garden to see what we had to use there.  And then I made a meal plan up that would use those ingredients up for the week and might use items in the sales ads as well for fruits and vegetables and other staples.  We were out of nearly every kind of cheese we use.  I have to limit my cheese use, but I found a brand of thinly sliced Havarti that is only 120 mg of sodium per slice, so I can use two slices on a cheeseburger instead of one.

But everyone else eats a lot of different types of cheeses, so I did stock up on that, and because I was going to be making breakfast burritos and egg muffin sandwiches.  Grocery shopping went well, we stuck to buying for the meal plan.  I stuck to the budget and that was while buying 70 pounds of organic carrots to can ($69.93) last week.  We will be buying 100 pounds of yellow potatoes to can out of the next budget on Friday, but that will still cost less than the carrots, because they won't be organic.

So we stuck to our meal plan and we did not let food rot in the fridge.  As for eating out, well that is something we did not do, though it came close, mostly because I kept falling asleep due to the cold medicine I was taking.  I was falling asleep at 3:00 and sleeping until 6:30 or 7:00 for 3 or 4 days last week.  So I started making stuff up ahead of time and telling my son when to put it in the oven and the Instant Pot so it would be ready at dinnertime and to just cover my plate and put it in the fridge and I'd warm it up when I got up.  It worked out great, except the fish night where I didn't have him cook mine since I don't like warmed up fish.

So far I have not fallen into a cooking funk, but it has only been a week.  I am not meal prepping except for breakfasts.  I want to do lunches, too.  I am not making freezer meals for dinners, yet.  But all and all, things went really well for my first week.  And since I have had a horrific cold, I think it is excellent progress.  I'll post my next meal plan in a different post.

Getting Positive about Cutting Grocery Costs

September 6th, 2023 at 12:36 am

Now that I've got a lot of meat in the freezer and only need to buy chicken which has been going on some pretty good cyclic sales around here, we can focus on better fruits and veggies during the rest of the year.  I want to bring my grocery budget back down from $500 to $400 every two weeks and then I want to bring it down to $300, but with that extra $100 going for food to can or dry goods to put away, like pasta and rice and such.  But another goal besides spending so much money is also to stop wasting money by stopping so much food from going out the door to our compost pile and garbage can.

Because the food waste has gotten to be a problem again and I'm wondering if we can get an organic waste garbage can and cut down our regular garbage can to every two weeks instead of every week.  We already recycle a lot, but we do throw out some things we can't compost like meat scraps and some food containers we can't recycle, like when an egg cracks in a cardboard egg carton.  And weeds can go in there, too, like morning glory that we don't want to compost, or the mowing with dandelion blossoms or thistle blossoms in it.  Or any other weed flowers before they go to seed.

While we can afford these things currently, things don't seem to be getting better, and I really used to be good about keeping the grocery budget down and the food waste low and I'm not anymore.

I see the main reasons for this as the following:

1. I am not keeping track of what is in the fridge so I am buying more than I need of certain vegetables I already have at home.  Particularly salad fixings and lettuce.

2. Stuff gets pushed to the back of the fridge, so people forget about their personal leftovers.

3. Stuff gets pushed to the back of the fridge, so I forget about family leftovers, like mashed potatoes or green beans or leftover pot roast.

4. I have quit meal planning.

5. I let myself fall into a cooking funk after my arm got messed up after my angiogram.  I didn't want to and I didn't care.  Takeout crept in.

6. I quit meal prepping despite wanting to.

7. I quit doing freezer meals despite wanting to.

So, I am planning to turn this around.  I am going to keep a large white board by the fridge that keeps track of the food in it and when you take one you erase the amount and write in the new total or 0.  If you finish the last of a thing, you also write it on the white board grocery list, and alert me of that fact.  With butter, milk, eggs, and bread, you alert me when we are down to half of the last thing.

Write down personal leftovers and family leftovers and cross them off as they get eaten.  I am out of my funk so start meal planning.  My arm is mostly working okay, so stop using it as an excuse unless it is really hurting and when it is tag in the son or the husband.  They can make certain meals so make them even if it goes off the meal plan.

Do individual breakfast and lunch meal prepping with my son.  Do some frezer meals for dinner so I have something when I feel awful or the day is going to be really busy.

Start meal planning again.  When I was feeling like crap I spent a lot of time looking up new recipes.  Some I've even cooked and they went over really well. 

I've worked out several meals so far that I can do for a meal plan for this month.  Some of them are new dinners, some I've only tried once but were approved, and some are much loved favorites.  I was just bored and wanted to switch up the repetoire.  Being bored with cooking is never a good thing, because you just kind of sit there and stare into space about what you want to cook for dinner and then the time to start comes and goes and you end up getting take out again.

Which is not something I want to do.  We need to be saving money, not wasting it.  So for the month of November, I don't want to do take out.  I want to spend only our grocery money, not money on takeaway.  I'd like to come up with enough meals for the whole month.  Right now I've got enough for nearly 3 weeks.  I want to get a month or two just written down so I can pull from them when I make a weekly plan.  I know what I am making today and tomorrow so I don't go into a brick wall at dinner time and I am preparing my grocery list for the rest of the week by first looking through the two fridges to see what we have and whether or not it is still good or not.  Going to Seattle for a few days when we did probably means a few foods went bad.

I'll also want to check the garden for zucchini gone wild and strawberries visiting crazy town and pick peppers and green beans.  Because if we have free food growing in the garden that we can eat, of course we want to do that first before buying anything.  The broccoli might even be ready by now, too.

Then I can actually fill up the meal plan properly.  The plan is to do some meal prep kits for breakfasts and some for lunches and then have things chopped up for dinner, even potatoes, but they will be in water so they don't turn brown, so all we have to do when it is time to make dinner is assemble everything in the right order or all together or into separate cooking devices or into one and with directions anyone can follow so if I am out stuff can still get going on time.

If whoever is supposed to doesn't forget to, then we can run like clockwork and we can get stuff done at the right time to get us all on a decent eating schedule with decent food that should help us all lose weight, give my son and I a set time in the day to exercise, and time in the evening to work on getting the house cleaned up after me being down for so long.  I swear, if I am not there to direct people the house just turns into a pig sty and it is time for a deep clean of everything.  I guess Fall Cleaning.  It's not technically fall but the weather has turned and the leaves are not green anymore, so I'm counting it.  Time to get life back under control again.

Take Out Food Can Cost You in More Ways than One

June 25th, 2023 at 09:12 pm

Last night I started a ten day process on getting the freezer full of individual frozen dinners for me to have ready to heat and eat like TV dinners, only homemade. I am eating healthier by avoiding takeout now.  I have always read ingredients and have been having some of the cleaner, healthier geared ones, which are still full of sodium, something I have to be careful with.  If I cook it myself, I can avoid putting in a ton of salt and if I make it gluten free, I can avoid a lot of the fillers put into food.

I cup up one of the store bought turkeys that was in our chest freezer.  We had bought one for Halloween and one for Christmas, but of course we got hit by Covid the week of Thanksgiving and I was still pretty sick the week of Christmas, we all were still exhauted and dragging, so we cancelled both holidays except the gift giving part at Christmas where MIL came in to our house and she and my mom kept a nice safe distance across the living room from us.

Anyway, cutting up a turkey is a lot harder than cutting up a chicken or a rabbit, but I got most of it done.  It was worth it in the end because it was an organic turkey with no ingredients other than turkey.  I did have to have my husband come and split the breat in half, because I chose not to keep it whole and I chose not to filet it.  I like roasting them, and in order to fit them in our little pressure oven, I have to cut them in half or they will touch the ceiling.  I keep the skin on and the bone in because it gives extra flavor to the bird.  Then after it cooks, I will filet the breast meat from the bone and slice it.

I did the legs, thighs, and neck last night for dinner and there is a lot of that left, too, and enough drippings to make stuffing and gravy.  So after I put one half of the turkey breast in to pressure roast, I'll start one of the Instant Pots going with two of the back pieces that were quite meaty, the wing tips, and some other scraps that came off, cover it with filtered water, and seasoning, and make stock.

Then I'll prepare my stuffing on the stove and put it in the oven for an hour (yes, I know it is technically dressing when it isn't inside the bird).  While it is baking, I will make gluten free no salt gravy with lots of herbs, while my husband makes a box of Instant potatoes (just potato flakes) for me (they do better in TV dinners).  Then I will take a break for dinner while everything cools and then put the other turkey breast in to pressure roast.

After dinner I will start assembling turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy in the big compartment and either frozen green beans, or frozen mixed veggies in the small compartment.  If I have one with two small compartments and one large, I'll put the stuffing in the second one.  Frozen corn, and frozen carrots would work, too, if you don't mind the whole dinner being frozen carbs beside the protein.  So would peas, but not in my world.  Peas are meant to be an ingredient used sparingly in rice or soup, not an entire serving by itself.

By then the stock should be done and I can strain it into another pot.  The bones can be picked free of any meat and then put back into the Instant Pot with the bones I saved from the thigh and leg meat.  I will be using some of the broth for the liquid as I make the gravy on the second batch, since I won't have potato water from making the gravy and I will use gluten free flour, so the meals will remaining gluten free.

With any remaining meat, I will do turkey tip bowls and soup.  You know how you have steak tips in gravy?  Well, this will be turkey tips in gravy over mashed potatoes, with corn and cheese mixed in and then a green vegetable can be added like a can of green beans, frozen broccoli, or a salad, along with a biscuit or two.  I will make some up and put them in the freezer so they can warm them up when they want them.  It's basically a famous bowl from KFC only without it having crispy chicken in it.  They like those.  My version will be gluten free.

I plan to repeat this with meatloaf, a mix of roasted sweet potatoes, turnips, potatoes, and parsnips, and then for the non-root veggies, zucchini, summer squash, or green beans.  I will vary the meatloaf between ketchup, BBQ sauce, meatloaf gravy, and plain.  If I have some plain ones, my daughter can have one of those.  These meals are mostly for me, but this way she can have one or two.  She is the only one who can't fend for herself.

Now I have also cut the wings in half, so I have two flats and two drums from that.  They are large enough for the drums to be two meals and the flats to be one meal, so I will fry those up to make three meals.  I will season them with sazon and I will do sweet potato wedges and green beans for those.  I will air fry those and then warm them up in the air fryer.

For another one, I am going to buy a bag of gluten free chicken strips that I like and fry them up and divide them into the TV dinner trays and add mashed potatoes and green beans.

I think if I have the energy I will make turkey and sausage meatballs with my sauce over gluten free pasta, bake it, and then put it in aluminum containers to warm up.

I'd also like to make up some steak tips in gravy, baby potatoes, and zucchini and summer squash.

My son has promised to help, but we all know how that goes.  I just don't want to fall back on store-bought TV dinners (except the chicken strips, which are pretty clean).  I don't want my family eating out, either, so I need to make sure there are family frozen dinners for them, too, like a ham dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans, cheezy ham and rice bake, turkey enchilada bake, a family size meatloaf dinner (in the freezer already), a ravioli bake (in the freezer already), spaghetti and meatballs, and taco mix, maybe some pizza blanks.  Just enough to keep them going for a week to ten days.

I'll lay out recipes for my son and make sure he understands them and the ingredients he may need to buy, in case my heart is worse than expected and I take longer than a week to recover from this.  He is a good cook and I've taught him a lot, but he tends to stick to stir-fries a lot because they are easy.  After I am better, I will have my own individual meals for a while and I can serve them some of the things I don't like, like Chicken linguine Alfredo and not have to cook a second meal for me.

Eventually, I want to make enough meals that anyone can grab a TV dinner and eat it if they don't like the main meal or if no one wants to cook.  Take out is expensive.  Store-bought TV dinners are expensive.  This way is the cheapest way to do it and I won't feel like the dollars in my food budget are just slipping through my hands or worse, the Citi card being used too much to buy takeout because we are tired or unprepared.

I do pay it off in full each month, but has gotten to be a bad habit and I am worried we are slipping further and further into bad habits and one day buying food like this might push us to the point that we will have a month where we don't have enough money to pay the bill in full.  It's a slipperly slope.  I still guard against that every day, but I don't think I am guarding as hard as I should be these days.  It's a slippery slope and I need to get back off the mountain and go back to using the credit card only for automatic payments and at Costco for cash rewards, as was intended.

I need that extra money for other things right now, namely the bathroom rebuild.  I know some of the spending can't be helped with my heart being so underpowered and my husband working so many hours, but I am just going to have to put my head down, take it slow, and try harder.

It's a nice beautiful day, so I am going to go keep my husband company in the garden and if I have the stamina, pull some weeds.  The beans are surrounded and need some help or they will surrender.

Rearranging Plans to Mostly Shop My Fridge to Save Money

February 9th, 2023 at 08:47 am

So the grocery ads are an abysmal flop this week.  I mean there is a possibility that there is a good sale on Ribeye steaks at Freddy's this week, as it is 50% off, but they don't tell you off of what price.  I hate it when stores do that.  They just want you to go there and find out.  Especially when there is no other reason to go there.  It is on DH's way home from work, so he will stop in and check for me tomorrow.  If it is a good price we will buy a value pack, because we do a like a good steak once 3 to 4 weeks, but I'm not willing to jump through hoops to get them.  If they are what I consider a decent price then I will give him some grocery money and he can pick them up on Friday.

So, with the bad ads in mind, I went back and looked through the fridge and the backup fridge and realized I don't need as much as I thought I did.  I just need some green onions, lettuce, tomatoes, fresh cilantro and parsley, 5 or 6 carrots, and 2 turnips.  Maybe some zucchini or yellow squash if they look good and aren't dinky and fresh green beans if they look good, frozen if they don't.  I still have plenty, and I mean plenty, of onions, garlic, and potatoes that I grew myself, as well as cucumbers, radishes, a giant parsnip, a puple cabbage, 3 carrots, a bunch of celery, a jalapeño, a fennel bulb, and 9 bell peppers (6 for stuffing, 2 for fajitas, 1 for pizza).

As for fruit, we have 9 lemons, but I plan on making lemonade with 8 of them, 1 lime, 6 pears, but 1 is questionable, 2 avocados, and 2 Pink Lady apples.  I plan to buy some sweet apples since those are tart for making curries, and a case of oranges since these will probably be the last oranges of the season before they start being not very good again.  Maybe some bananas or possibly something else if anything has a good price and depending on where it is from.

For staples, I need yellow cornmeal and unbleached pure cane sugar.  For seasonings I need sweet paprika, smoked paprika, and Hungarian paprika.  I'll only get one this week.  Spices have skyrocketed.  Maybe I'll just get the sweet.  I'll probably have to order the Hungarian anyway, but I am on an Amazon freeze this month.  I also need a big container of Italian seasoning.  I need a big container of fine grain pink Himalayan sea salt, but that will probably have to be ordered, too, and it can wait until next month as I just filled the large shaker up with the last of my old container.

We are good on cheeses and yogurt and peanut butter.  Well, I might need an 8 oz brick of extra sharp cheddar.  I forgot to check for that.

I have a vague idea of what I'll be planning for suppers this week, but I'll sit down and flesh it out tomorrow morning.  It's late and I need to get to bed.

Real time: 12:45 a.m. PDT Real Date: 2/9/2023

Looking for Motivation and Planning out My Grocery Shop for Meal Planning

February 7th, 2023 at 11:00 pm

Have you ever had one of those mornings where even making toast seems like too much work?  I swear if I don't start getting more than 4 to 6 hours of sleep a night, I'm going to go to become a Mombie zombie.  But life went on and toast was avoided and eggs were made and cucumbers sliced and life was brought back into this tired lady's veins.

The grocery ads came out today and I will sit down with them and see what meals I can plan around them.  I don't need to buy meat unless they have some tremendous sale or the have steelhead trout at a reasonable price because we love that.  Mostly, I just want to see what fresh produce is on sale and if there are any sauces that might trigger some dinner ideas.  I am so bored of the usual meals.  I want something more exotic and flavorful without being so spicy that my daughter can't eat it.

I can't exactly make February a no eating out challenge since my son has his surgery in Seattle and then has a follow up appointment a week later, but that will just be DS and DH.  DS can't eat before surgery and will probably only want a milkshake afterward, if he doesn't sleep the whole way home from the after effects of anesthesia.  My husband will need lunch and maybe dinner on that day.  On the follow up day they can eat before they go, but they will need at least one meal on the trip.  I know they can pack food, but it is a hassle they would prefer to avoid and we don't currently have a cooler.  But it won't be out of our pocket, because MIL pays for all travel expenses related to medical visits to Seattle for us.  She even pays for the hotel if we have to stay down there, so that takes a big burden from us since we have to go down there so often for our daughter.

Every other day of February I want to do no eating out.  We have to tighten our belts if we are going to get that bathroom rebuilt the way we want it to be, which also means no more willy-nilly Amazon purchases.  They all have to be perfectly planned and budgeted for.  Speaking of Amazon purchases, my new set of pans came and I love them.  We seasoned them and they are working so nicely.  The instructions were garbage, so we followed the advice of someone in the reviews and it worked a treat.  I am so glad I returned the other pan and bought these.  They weren't expensive, but I think I will be very happy with them.  So far I have only cooked veggies and eggs in them.  I'll get back to you after I have made meat in them.

Anyway, time to go look at the ads and then make up a meal plan.  Remember when I used to do those?  I knew my motivation was around here somewhere.

  

It's All About Food Again, Canning, Saving, Planning Freezer Meals, Prepping

November 5th, 2022 at 01:01 am

Yesterday, that is.  I put my nose to the grindstone, but I got it done.  10 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.  So I have 13 quarts and 6 pints of canned chicken.  One of my quart jars broke in the canner.  It was one of my grandmother's jars from 1949, so it lasted a long time.  Two bad it took 2 pounds of chicken with it.  I think I'm going to go through and weed those jars out and use them for dry food storage.  There aren't many left, but I don't want to take that risk.

While I was canning those I had two Instant Pots filled with bones, water, and seasonings, making chicken bone broth.  Pressure cooking for two hours is the equivalent of simmering on the stove for 24 hours or more, only you don't have to worry about evaporation and adding more water, just a bit of steam that comes out at the end.  I didn't get as much as I should have because my son wasn't paying attention when I asked him to fill them up to the max line and instead he just covered the bones, which is what we do when we make a whole chicken, but not what I do when making broth, which he's never done.  I should have checked, but I was so busy with other stuff, I didn't.  Not really his fault.  I know he has ADHD and was having a no focus day.

I still got a good amount of broth at 8 pint and a half jars and 8 pint jars, but I could have had almost double that.  I have enough bones to fill both Instant Pots again, so will be doing that and canning it tomorrow.  I was too wiped to do anything today.  I went to bed at 10:30 and slept until 11:07 this moring, waking up once at 6:30.  I was exhausted.

I did manage to get some of the dishes done.  I had to soak 8 cups, though.  I am not happy about that.  They all had milk residue in the bottoms so I know it was one of the menfolk.  Time for the rinse out your glass lecture.  It can never be the womenfolk since we don't drink milk outright and only consume it in stew, gravy, or loaded baked potato soup, and I've switched to using broth as much as possible instead of milk in the first two.

And I'm up for making a real dinner tonight, even though I am pretty sore from canning.  We've been going through my freezer dinners at breakneck speed.  I'm pretty sick of baked pastas and baked casseroles and rice under enchiladas, etc.  Today is just chicken, mashed potatoes (and gravy for those who want it, i.e. not me) and green beans.  Simple, but really good.

Broth canning isn't near as time consuming as chicken canning, so tonight I will thaw out a bunch of ground meat and tomorrow while it is in the canner I will throw together some meatloaves and some meatballs for the freezer.  I've been craving spaghetti, though, so I'll save out some meatballs for dinner either tomorrow or the next night.  Depends on how early I get the canner going, because if the stove is full I won't be able to cook spaghetti.

I found out that a restuarant supply store currently has chicken breast on sale for a box at $76, works out to $1.90 a pound.  I don't usually buy chicken breast, but I am out nearly out of the last batch of ground chicken I made, so I can grind it.  I am not up for deboning anything again anytime soon.  I just mix it in with my meatloaf and meatballs along with sausage and hamburger which have enough fat in them to counter the dryness of chicken breasts.

I can also make up my version of hamburger tater tot casserole, only I use homemade hashbrowns instead.  I have a lot of hamburger left from our steer and I want to buy another one in June or July, so we really need to be using it up, not just because we have it, but because we need the space in the chest freezer.  I can work tacos back into the rotation.  I can also can hamburger.  We haven't eaten very much pork from our half a hog either, so I need to work that into the rotation.

It's been forever since I made up a meal plan, just because we were eating takeout for so long and then freezer meals and crockpot meals that were basically pour and dumps, so I didn't have to think about real cooking.  But since I am finally well and truly well after the broad spectrum "if you stay on it too long it can kill you and also burst your achilles tendons," antibiotic, I should get back to real meal planning, especially before I make my Winco run and go to the restaurant supply store.

I also need to go through my canning jars tonight and see what I have left.  I keep taking my jars up to the kitchen and telling Mom they are for me to use the next day and then she keeps using them, so I will keep them down here until right before I can tomorrow.  I don't want to run out of jars and have to buy more, especially with my wide mouth pints.  She only has regular mouth pints, but when she runs out she takes mine. Oh, well, you can't argue with a stubborn 83-year-old.  Or it's not worth it anyway.

I'm off to gather my jars, have dinner, meal plan and freezer meal plan and then tomorrow shop accordingly.

 

Back Into Money Saving Mode With Groceries--Tracker at the End

October 4th, 2022 at 10:44 am

We are starting hardcore meal planning and meal prepping to get back into saving money on food, eating better, including a lot more vegetables and a lot less carbs, almost everything from scratch, and slaying the takeout demon and waster of money and tempter of credit card spending.  I spent $301 on groceries yesterday and today from a $500 two week grocery budget.  My goal is to have $100 left at the end of the 2 week pay period to put in the beef fund.  I have 11 days to go.  I think we can do it, but we will see.  And if we don't eat out, we'll probably save another $500 or more.

I started cooking with what we had on hand and eased into it so that I could be at the spot we are today.  Last week I took all of my ripe tomatoes and started cooking them down so I would have a decent amount of sauce to start with and then cooked up a bunch of hamburger and a bunch of garden zucchini and mixed it all up together and doled it all out into meal prop containers with a side of wild rice (no rice for me).  It provided 3 lunches for 4 people for 3 days.  I froze the rest of the very delicious tomato sauce for future use.

The day after that I did a massive grocery shop and then today I picked up a dozen things that the other store didn't have.  Most of today I spent chopping up things and preparing other things.  I cut up 8 bell peppers into slices and dices and 5 onions (mine that I grew, 1 purple, 4 Walla Walla sweets) into slices and dices, 6 things of broccoli, 3 pounds of potatoes, most of a batch of green onions, cut up 1 pound of cheese into cubes for snacking, and shred the other half of the brick, and cooked up 2 pounds of breakfast sausage and some of the diced onion and bell peppers, while the potatoes were roasting in the pan.

I assembled and cooked one breakfast casserole with potatoes, eggs, a little milk, cheese, green and yellow bell peppers, sweet onions, and ground breakfast sausage.  And I have the other one most of the way ready.  It so far has potatoes, sausage, green onions, and cheese in the dish, and in the morning I will saute spinach, add the eggs and milk and cook that one.  The second one will be for my daughter as she can't handle the peppers and regular onions.  We will freeze half of it as she can't get through it fast enough.  I won't be eating either of these because of the potatoes, but saved out some sausage and will just make myself an omelet for breakfast with that, bell pepper, green onions, and cheese.

After breakfast, I will be cooking up a whole lot of polish sausage and kielbasa some for this week and some to go in the freezer for next week or the week after that, not sure yet.  Not really sure if we want to do sausage and peppers for lunches 2 weeks in a row.  But I'd rather cook it all up in one long session now.  Then I'll do enough peppers for this week's lunches.  I'll have to buy more peppers tomorrow, but I'll probably just slice and freeze.  There is a good sale that ends tomorrow, but I didn't have room in my fridge to buy more than the eight I bought until I started making meals and putting things in the freezer or reducing the size of the veggies by slicing and dicing.  If the guys want something to go with the sausage and peppers that is more carby they can have whatever leftovers we will have like mashed potatoes from tonight's dinner or root veggies, or mixed veggies from the freezer, or rice.  Whatever.

While doing that I will have some hamburger thawing to mix with the mild Italian sausage that is already thawed in the fridge so I can get some meatballs made up.  If we have any ground chicken, turkey, or lamb left, I'll throw that in, too.  I want to make enough to have three meals worth of meatballs.  We'll have gluten free penne and meatballs with zucchini for dinner tomorrow night.  I'll want something easy I can just dump in the Instant Pot.

I'll thaw out some other sausage I have that is not from the hog we just got that needs to be used up, along with some hamburger and make up a couple of meatloaves for the freezer and while I am at it I will use the two mild Italian sausages that are from the hog we bought and are thawed out to make meatballs for the freezer.

For dinner tomorrow we will have baked chicken with roasted root vegetables of a large parsnip, a very large sweet potato, two turnips and two yellow potatoes, and purple green beans from my garden.

For Wednesday we will have pork chops, fried potatoes, and more purple green beans.

Thursday will be beef stir-fry with broccoli, onions, carrots, celery, bok choy, water chestnuts, purple green beans, and bamboo shoots if I still have a can. It will be served with white rice.

Friday we will have Butter and Basil Chicken with sheet pan vegetables (they had these at Costco, I don't remember exactly what was in them, but they looked yummy and were mostly low carb), and baked potatoes.

Saturday will be Coho salmon, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.  I might get some corn on the cob, too, when I pick up more bell peppers.  We haven't had any this summer.  Too long recovering from the reoccuring stomach virus.

Sunday will be meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, and purple green beans.

I've also got to do some more peeling and cutting up tomorrow.  I need to get cucumbers and carrots peeled, cucumbers, carrots and radishes sliced, and carrots and celery cut into sticks.  I need to make up some French onion dip with plain yogurt for my daughter and make up some green godess dressing with plain yogurt for my son.  I have to finish chopping up the bottom portion of the green onions.

So we have salad fixings, coleslaw fixings, veggie sticks, and pico de gallo fixings on hand to eat at will, as well as fruit for snack cravings for those who want more carbs than me.  My son has plain tortilla chips left.  Sometimes I will throw pico in my eggs.  My coleslaw is not made with sugar, just 1 tbsp of honey in the entire simple dressing, and no vinegar, to keep the carb count low.

Once I get through what I've got planned so far, then I need to inventory the house freezer and see where to go from there, while I am still feeling like I can.  I'd like to get some more meals put together to kill the "I don't wanna cook" attitidude or even the "I can't keep food down and can't get near food" issue that happened so much this summer.  Even if it is just having all the ingredients ready in the freezer to be thrown together it will help so much.  And if I can't throw it together at least the guys will be able to.  I still think it was the medicine I quit taking, but I can't be sure, as I still don't feel right.  It still might be related to my heart.  I will be so glad when I get the results back from the 2 week heart monitor test.

I am planning out some freezer meals to do depending on when certain sales hit, but I missed the boneless skinless chicken sale because I was sick when it hit, so cilantro lime chicken and parsley chicken are off the table until the next one unless I want to thaw, skin, and debone the chicken I already have and refreeze it, which I don't.  So no premaking them, but I can make them for dinner with no premaking if I feel like it.  It'll just have to be a good day where I am on top of things.  It'll probably be 5 to 6 weeks before that sale hits again.  The chuck roast sale went up .47/lb, from the normal cycle.  I think it is going to stay there.  It was the same week I was too sick to leave the house, just at a different store. I was going to buy 8 so I could can, but such is life.

Here's a list of the groceries I bought:

1 large Zoi Greek yogurt

1 large bag mixed vegetable blend

2 steamer bags riced cauliflower

1 lb brick extra sharp white cheddar

2 lb brick medium cheddar

32 ounce Daisy sour cream

1 gallon organic milk

1 half gallon lactose free organic milk

4 dozen organic pasture-raised eggs

2 beef chuck roasts

2 bags cole slaw mix

1 bag spinach

1 bunch cilantro

1 bunch Italian parsley

2 limes

2 large cucumbers

2 large green zucchini

1 bunch green onions

1 bunch radishes

5.65 lb of yellow potatoes

4 very large sweet potatoes (3 types)

2 apple juice

3 lb strawberries

2 bok choy

1 savoy cabbage

1 thumb ginger root

4 parsnips

7 turnips

Fresh marjoram

2 red, 2 green, 2 yellow, 2 orange bell peppers

Bananas

Blackberries

Broccoli

1 Elephant garlic

2 lb bag organic carrots

Fresh thyme

1 box yellow kiwis

3 lb bag baby potatoes

6 avocados

Blueberries

Bartlett pears

Cosmic crisp apples

Celery

1 leek

Beechers flagship cheese

18 month cave aged gouda

Feta crumbles

4 oz can sliced black olives

4 cans pumpkin puree

1 Redmond pink Himalayan salt shaker

At Costco:

2 12 packs polish sausage

3 8 packs kielbasa

Italian seasoning

Shaky Pepper

Pink fine ground Himalayan salt to refill salt shaker

1 bag sheet pan vegetables

1 package beef snack sticks

So hopefully only a few little filler items from here.

It's a Ground Beef Thing

July 1st, 2022 at 07:04 am

So as we have eaten our way through the steer we bought last summer, we are now mostly left with ground beef.  A lot of ground beef.  3 compartments in the chest freezer and 1/2 a bin of it in the upright.  So I spent a good amount of time on youtube the last couple of days trying to find recipes that aren't all about Mexican food.  My daughter is having issues right now with those spices so I've been trying to veer away from them, but the hugest number seems go there.

Taco Mac, chili mac, enchiladas, Taco spaghetti, Taco penne bake, Taco bowl, Taco salad, Chili, Tacos, Taco Mac and Cheese, Taco Chili, Taco Lasagna and on and on and on.  The Italian ones are good, but are basically all variations on a theme, too, pasta or bread, meat, usually sauce, and cheese.  And there is only so much spaghetti, calzones, stromboli, pizza, goulash, meatball sandwiches, baked penne or ziti, macaroni and cheese and Fettuine Alfredo that one can eat in a week without being bogged down by a wheat hangover.

I was on a mission to find some other recipes and it took a lot of weeding through it, but I found some Asian inspired ones and some German ones, and of course there is meatloaf and burgers, cabbage rolls, etc., but I'm still lacking in much else.  I still have to do some recipe searching on google to see what else I can find.

But I have enough for a start and today I went to the grocery store and stocked up on what I needed to do this.  The goal is to have ground beef three times a week, or two if we are having steak.  Which we are just about out of, so probably not much of that will happen.

We've made a recommitment to cooking almost exclusively from scratch and eating healthy and not eating out for the month of July, because we really need to buckle down and stop spending money.  There are a few things in the freezer that are convenience foods, like fish sticks, fries, hot dogs, sausages, and garlic toast, but not a lot of that.  I'll be baking bread, rolls, and buns myself.  Everyone has pledged to help me as much as they are able, so hopefully this time around things will go as planned.  We have a good chance as summer tends to be the season I don't get badly sick in.  So if I can refrain from falling down or hurting my back for the rest of it, we can get this done.

We had a deer in the garden again today. It had big abscesses on its face, poor thing and was bashing it's head against one of our trellises until one of them popped.  It was really gross, but the thing needed to be drained.  We had to spray things down to get the gunk off and the smell was atrocious.  If I see it again, I will call animal control, because that is not a healthy animal.  We will be getting some fencing up tomorrow to hopefully keep the the deer out of the garden, and building some more low tunnels and cages for the thornless blackberries.  One day we will be able to fence everything tall enough to keep them out of the whole back yard, but this year is not that time.

We finally got DD's old doctor to fill out the forms needed for the insurance company and hopefully she will qualify to stay on our insurance.  We also need to have the chiropractor fill out one, because he has been treating her for congenital hip dysplasia since she was 3 months old, and correcting for hypermobile joints since she was 3 years old.  And he has seen first hand what her degenerative disc disease has done to her.

We had an online appointment with her new primary care doctor.  This is her second appointment and it was so nice to be heard.  Really heard.  She put DD on a muscle relaxant that does not interfere with her other meds.  It is actually the one I take, too.  The doctor also brought up this new treatment for obesity.  It is a diabetes drug that had a big side effect of weight loss.  It's called semaglutide and it's a pen injection.  They are very expensive, so I don't see us being able to do this for DD unless she is able to stay on our insurance and then they approve it.  She is hyperinsulinemic, the step before diabetes, so maybe.  If she doesn't we will be paying so much for COBRA or another insurance, we will never be able to afford it.

Prayers that the insurance company accepts from her reports that she is disabled enough to stay on it would be greatly appreciated.

 

Meal Planning

February 4th, 2022 at 12:46 am

In my quest to make February a month of no eating out, I will be meal planning again.  I started by picking out my main dish or main meat and built my meal plans around that.  I wanted one fish meal, 2 beef, 2 chicken, 1 pasta, and 1 pizza, so from there I filled in the rest based on what I have in my fridge, freezer, or jars and cans of food.

Day One--Pizza with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, prosciutto, onions, and bell pepper (if we have one, I have to check still, but I think we do, or will use frozen), served with a salad

Day Two--Salmon (stuff we caught during the summer), fried potatoes from our home grown potatoes, broccoli

Day Three--Beef Pot Roast (from our steer), Mashed potatoes from our home grown potatoes, green beans (home grown and canned)

Day Four--Baked Penne with sausage, tomatoes, onions, sauce and mozzarella cheese, salad

Day Five--French onion chicken, cole slaw

Day Six--Steaks (from our steer), French fries, broccoli

Day Seven--Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes (from our home grown potatoes), green beans (home grown and canned)

Now to see if I can stick to it.

Getting Ready for the Eat from the Pantry Challenge

December 24th, 2021 at 01:01 am

I plan to do one big shop before January with the last of December's grocery envelope money.  I'll probably go on the 30th.  I'm figuring out my produce so we can make it through the month without going to the grocery store for more than milk.

I can buy lettuce for the first two weeks.  The vacuum sealed bags from Costco will last two weeks sealed, so we can eat one the first week and one the second week.  We can get celery and bok choy for stir-fries for the first two weeks, carrots for the full month, frozen broccoli for the full month and frozen cauliflower if we can find it.  Otherwise I may have to blanch and freeze two heads of cauliflower.  We have plenty of home canned and non-home canned green beans to go through.  I'll buy cabbage and break into it on week 3.  I'll also buy some green onions for week one and some radishes for the whole month, eating the greens in the first week.  I'd like some parsnips and turnips as well and a couple of sweet potatoes. We do not need potatoes, we are still working through what we grew.  I will need onions, though.  And two bags of mixed veggies for making stir-fried rice.

For fruit, we'll have apples and oranges for the last half of the month and for the first half I can buy 2 pineapples (there is a sale and hopefully they look good), using 1 the first week and 1 the second.  For the first week I can buy bananas and golden kiwis.  We have home canned pears, nectarines, peaches, and plums as well as store bought canned pineapple.  I'll need to buy avocados in various stages of ripening.

I am going to make as much of our bread products as possible.  Now that my daughter's gut has healed, we have reintroduced wheat into the diet and it seems to be going well.  We still use a lot of gluten free things and will continue to do so, but she can have the occasional sandwich or hamburger bun or dinner roll made with wheat flour now.  Or pizza.  We try to keep it to twice a week.

I need to buy enough eggs to make it through the month and I need to see how much chicken is in the freezer and possibly a couple of hams.  We don't have to worry about beef, although I might buy some more bacon.  I need to check the freezer for that, too, and see how much sausage we have.  We have some salmon and we have spot prawns in the freezer, too, so will do that a couple of times.

We'll need tortilla chips and I'll need to see how much cheese we have as I'll need enough for a couple of pizzas and a lasagna.  We have lots of gluten free pretzels, but I'd like to have a couple of bags of potato chips and I'm sure DD will want her Simply Cheetos and I want to make sure we have the ingredients to make cookies.  Oh, and we need peanut butter.  We have lots of rice.

I can't think of anything else.  I'm going to work on a meal plan for the month of November and that might make remember some other gaps to fill.

I'd like to keep as much of the money for groceries as possible.  I budget $400 every two weeks, so if we can keep to the challenge, except for milk, that would be really good.  I've managed to keep around $600 in the past because I didn't plan as well ahead of time, but still did pretty good.  The main thing was making sure there were enough snack things to keep the other 3 happy.

But our goal in the new year is to improve our diets over all and a month without eating out will help with that by cutting out a lot of sodium.  We need to eat more vegetables because we have been skimping lately, especially green ones, or in the case of cabbage, red and green ones.  I will start my Aerogarden going tonight so that we will have salad greens by the start of week 4, maybe even week 3.  Some varieties of lettuce grow faster than others.

I hope that a month without eating out will put us back on track all the way around, nutritionally and financially.  And then continue on from there, maybe only getting take out once or twice a month.  I have to get past my too tired to cook mentality, which I feel all too often, but then when I force myself to cook, I'm almost always just fine.  It helps that I've been sleeping better since I got the adjustable bed frame.  I can elevate my legs a little and my head a little and it makes a world of difference.

If anyone wants to join me on the eat from the pantry challenge, go ahead.  There's a bunch of us doing it over on the Sutton's Daze facebook group and on youtube.  The goal is to stay out of the grocery store as much as possible for the month of January and save as much of your grocery budget as you can.  You can make exceptions for certain foods.  Some buy produce only, some buy milk and eggs only, some only buy bread.  You set your own challenge according to your ability.

 

 

Meal Planning, Loosely

December 16th, 2021 at 05:14 am

Physical therapy beat me up today and I really didn't feel like cooking when I got home, so it was kind of a leftover and canned food sort of meal tonight.  DS had leftover pizza, DD had leftover chicken and potatoes, DH has leftover ravioli and a couple tuna fish sandwiches and I had a can of chili with a toasted cheese sandwich.  DH made my food for me, since my left shoulder is not working today, which means pain medicine, which means no stove for me.  It was good to get the leftovers out of the fridge and not create anymore.  Not every dinner has to be gourmet or freshly cooked.

Hopefully, I will feel more like cooking tomorrow.  I need to make up the lobster ravioli I bought from Costco, so it will probably be that.  I plan on making a pesto but with parsly instead of basil and Romano instead of parmesan and garlic instead of pinenuts.  I'll still use olive oil.  Not sure if that actually counts as pesto, but it is what I have in the house and can be easily made in the blender.  So basically all I would really have to do tomorrow is boil water and blend the pesto ingredients.  I just don't think lobster ravioli would go well with a tomato based sauce and cheese, like the chicken ravioli does.

As for other upcoming meals I will make chicken and root vegetables, because I have some parsnips and turnips and a sweet potato that is starting to sprout and of course I'll throw in potatoes with it.  Then maybe spaghetti with a chunky meat and vegetable tomato sauce that I simmer for a while.  I'd also like to make a chicken curry, maybe on the weekend when I have help.  Or possibly the Malaysian chicken.  And we'll probably get a breakfast for dinner with either pancakes or waffles with ham, and cucumber slices (since melon is out of season).

I think the only things I need to buy for those meals are lemon grass and fresh ginger if I decide to the do the Maylasian chicken.  If I buy ginger, I think I will buy a bigger amount than normal.  I'd like to try my hand at pickling ginger.  I had some pickled ginger from a fantastic new local place that serves a mix of Japanese and Korean food and it was quite good (excellent non-raw sushi, the best tempura prawns and spring rolls I have ever eaten, and very tasty octopus balls) and it clears the sinuses right out (though not as much as the wasabi does).  I figure if I have a jar of pickled ginger in the fridge than I can take a slice or two out as I need it when my nose gets stuffy, which is every morning, really.

I'd like to make up a batch of sauerkraut, too.  I never liked the kind my mother made when I was a kid, because she boiled it and canned it.  I'd be making mine using the fermenting method so it will never be cooked.  I love cabbage, so I think it is really the way she made it that turned me off it.  And if I don't like it, I'm still only out the cost of one cabbage.  Cabbages, at least, are still fairly cheap compared to other produce.

I think I will go to bed early tonight.  DD's doctor had to reschedule her telemed earlier this week due to an adverse reaction to the third Covid booster shot and it is very early in the morning, which sucks.  There is a reason we make afternoon appointments.

I hope everyone is doing well.  There hasn't been a lot of posting in the blogs.

 

Menu Planning

October 26th, 2021 at 12:43 am

Now that I am starting to feel like a semi-normal human being again, (what a difference a mattress pad has made in my sleep!), I am going to attempt cooking for the whole week, which means planning a menu, based on ingredients that are already in the house, because I am not up for shopping.  And I don't need to shop for meat, regardless.

Monday:  Spaghetti, grass fed beef in a homemade sauce (onions, garlic, tomato paste and sauce, herbs, my tomatoes), home grown and canned green beans

Tuesday:  Chicken and beef sausages, bell peppers, and onions, baked potatoes (home grown)

Wednesday:  Maylasian Chicken Curry with root vegetables over organic herbed wild rice (from a box), salad

Thursday:  Beef short ribs, baked potatoes (home grown), frozen organic broccoli

Friday:  Chicken stir-fry with carrots, celery, onions, and cabbage, over white rice

Saturday:  Ribeye steaks, mashed potatoes (home grown) and gravy, green beans (home grown, home canned)

Sunday:  French onion chicken, gluten free brioche buns (homemade), and cole slaw

It's ambitious, but DS will be home at dinner time now to help me.

I'm Glad the Challenge is Over, but I Saved a Lot

February 4th, 2021 at 01:48 am

I think the January Eat from the Pantry Challenge went really well overall.  The best result for me is I am down to 20.2 pounds lost and I think no eating out (except when MIL bought us a pizza), is what really increased the loss.  We were able to save $640 into the Beef Fund, bringing that to a total of $760.  I kept $60 of the budget for the days February 1st through 5th for whatever we needed to buy before payday hits on the 5th.

We spent $100 on groceries for the month, mostly oranges, and recovery foods for DD.  She needed some items I don't normally buy like lemon lime soda to settle her stomach while taking the Oxycodone, Welch's gelatine (like Jello, but not artificial dyes, no artificial flavors, and nothing else bad in it), pudding with no food dye, and a certain type of gluten free chip that seems to help mop up stomach acid in her case.  We also bought gluten free, bread, regular bread, and milk.

Of the $60 I didn't put into the beef fund, I have $40 left.  I went to the store yesterday and bought the 50 count bag of corn tortillas (and wow, have they gone up in price), pasture raised eggs, organic green onions (regular ones looked dinky), a bunch of organic cilantro, a lime, milk, and oranges.  I also took back 3 milk bottles so part of that was paid with that $6 back.  I don't think we will need to buy anything else before Friday, so I think the rest of that will go to the Beef Fund.

I learned a lot during the challenge and I am really glad I got control of our grocery spending.  My plan for this upcoming paycheck is to take $100 of our grocery budget and put it directly into the Beef Fund and then with the remaining $300 buy our groceries, with any left over at the end of the pay period also going into the Beef Fund.  If we can do that, even without any extra added, we should have $2300 for the Beef Fund, which ought to be enough to buy a half a beef and a half a hog, though I don't know about a lamb.  Or a whole beef.  Which might be better as I really only like bacon, ham, ribs, and sausage.  I mean, I'll eat the other parts, too, but I much prefer beef and chicken, followed by turkey and lamb.

I did put up a youtube video on my channel on what I learned from this challenge if anyone wants to watch and like, or even not watch and just let run.  I also put up weekly challenge videos if you want to see what I ate on the challenge.  My channel has been struggling during the last year due to changes in the youtube algorithms.  I'd like to get it back to where it was before all those changes. 

Text is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTa2UTcS8oE and Link is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTa2UTcS8oE  It's a talking video, so if you've ever wondered what I looked like, here's your chance to see.  Not really what I sound like though, since I had a very scratchy throat that day.  But of course, you're under no obligation.  I'm just really frustrated with youtube and its arbitrary changes.

I'm going to have to put a pause on the Emergency Fund.  We need to come up with $1000 for a front door handicapped ramp.  Mom will pay half like she did for the back door ramp.  This was something we agreed to when we installed the first one.  I just wasn't expecting to have to do it for another year.  Two months of not putting money in the EF will pay for it.  Or we could use our tax refund, which I had meant to go for building the garden and then an additional $200.  I guess my goals for the year will be shot all to heck, but it is what it is.

I finally started writing again this week.  I had really gotten out of the habit, but if I ever want to get this book done, I need to actually write every day.  So that is my challenge for the month of February, to write every day.

Bits and Pieces

January 13th, 2021 at 06:26 am

The Eat from the Pantry Challenge has been going well.  We haven't bought anything at the grocery store since December.  I had a massive I don't know what to cook/I don't want to cook moment tonight because I am just exhausted, but my son stepped up and listed ideas and then helped me do everything but chop the onion to get dinner on the table.  He's been so good about that.  He really wants us to get that grass fed side of beef.  He's also been really encouraging when I want to eat gluten, by talking me out of it.  I'm going to hold out as long as I can before I buy some fresh produce and milk.  The challenge allows for that, just to keep any spending to a minimum.  We still have both.  I'll be baking gluten free bread tomorrow.

I've lost a total of 10.8 pounds since the start of my diet the day after Christmas.  I'm happy with that and I'm past the point of wanting to cheat on my diet.  My diet does allow for gluten, but my personal goal is to stay off it for the month, then possibly the year.  It'll be a step by step, moment by moment journey.  I hope I can hang with the diet for the whole year, even if I don't stay off gluten.  I'm usually pretty gung ho for a while, but then life happens.

I'd like to stay away from eating out this year, too.  I feel better after not having eaten take out at all this year.  I know if we have to travel to Seattle and back for medical reasons there will have to be a meal somewhere, but MIL says she will pay for all travel costs related to DD's medical stuff and that includes food and lodging.  She's also paying the Virginia Mason bill for surgery for us when it comes, too.  So that will be DD's deductible and her out of pocket max and then we won't have to pay for any medical stuff for DD for the rest of the year.

Things are doing better here.  My little grand niece has been home from the hospital for 2 days and is doing a lot better.  Still waiting on the test results, though.  My sister and her husband came for a visit today (they are the grandparents of my grand niece).  I stayed six feet away from both of them and talked for a little while.  They were just dropping off their son, who lives here, and then BIL has a doctor's appointment down this way on Thursday.

DD had her Covid test today and goes in for her liver tumor to be removed on Thursday.  I am not going down, just DH.  They won't let us in to see her at all and the last car trip I had to Seattle put me out of commission for weeks.  It's what led to the pulled muscle.  I can't just sit in the car for several hours and wait until the hotel room is ready.  It hurts too much.  And since I won't drive in Seattle traffic due to the lunatics (seriously, Orange County is sane compared to Seattle drivers), DH it is.  And she is honestly a Daddy's girl.

They are keeping her for 24 hours observation due to the secondary adrenal insufficiency, but it is a laproscopic surgery, unless something makes it not be, in which case it will become a  3 day stay.  I hope it is the former, because her anxiety levels will be very high not seeing one of us for 3 days.  She hasn't had a panic attack in a long time, they were mostly related to cortisol crashes, but this is the sort of thing that might bring one on.

I start physical therapy again on Friday.  I don't want to, because it didn't help last time and I am worse off now, but they won't do an MRI until I've done it.  I know there is something going on with my left hip that is beyond degenerative rheumatoid arthritis.  I think there might be a detached or torn ligament.  So I'll go, I'll do the exercises, and I will hope against hope that they will work.

I am working on getting the kitchen organized and more disability friendly.  We got some new shelves put up and the best part of that is I have the recycle bins at a level where I don't have to bend down to put stuff in them.  They are at belly-height for me, so I can just pull the bin out and put something in it.  Because of the damge to the L-4 and L-5 vertebrae, it was pretty hard to bend to the floor and they were under something so I couldn't just drop them straight down.  DD is pleased with that, too.  These are just our inside bins that we fill and then take out to dump in the bins that go curbside.  We recycle more than anyone else on our block.  We also only put out a garbage can every other week and every other house puts out one every week.  It cuts our bill significantly.

Well, that's it for tonight.

More Challenge Planning

December 30th, 2020 at 02:49 am

So I sat down with everyone today and had them tell me what they absolutely needed to have in the house, that we didn't already have enough of, to get through the January Eat from the Pantry Challenge.  The kids said gluten free chicken tenders and cheese.  The husband said hamburger patties, condiments, and hot dogs.  I said bacon.

Then I sat down with the grocery ads and worked out what I was going to buy for this last shopping trip before January hits.  I was really surprised with how little I need to actually buy, but I guess that comes from keeping a really well stocked pantry.

Tomorrow DS and I will do Costco and Winco and maybe Trader Joe's for the hot dogs.  There is one package in the freezer so I'd only need to buy one and I am not sure that is worth me going with their ridiculous overkill to get in and through the store and their constant parking lot issues.  A mask, six feet apart, and plexi-glass is sufficient everywhere else, but they go nuts with it well beyond that.

I'll just send DH on his own right before closing.  I'd just as soon not step foot inside Trader Joe's until the pandemic is over.  The employees were always a little rude at our store, which I understand is not the norm, but they've gotten much worse.  I try to be patient and kind to store employees always, even when we are not in crazy times, but I also expect that in return.

Once I am done shopping and have a little energy again, which may not be until the next day, I will make up a meal plan for the month.  I will be making up some freezer meals as well as the month goes along.  For instance I will make two lasangas at the same time but put one in the freezer, two pans of enchiladas, two pans of leftover tater tot casserole.  I will make enough meatballs for 3 meals and enough meatloaf for two, always freezing the extra.

Sometimes I will also sit down and do up four bags of fajita meat with four bags of bell peppers and onions, or 4 bags of chicken shawarama meat for the Instant pot or 4 bags of stir-fry veggies and 4 bags of stir-fry meat pre-marinated and ready to thaw and dump in the skillet.  Just anything that makes my life a little easier when I don't feel like doing all the prep for cooking and would rather get takeout.  Plus I only get stuff dirty once.  Now with the new freezer ready, this will be so much easier to do.

DS has agreed to help me as well as to make some individual tv dinners of chicken and brown rice pasta Alfredo (usually penne, but sometimes fussili), Cheesy Tomato rotini or farfalle, beef taco macaroni, and regular mac and cheese.  And I will make some soups ands stews for the freezer that can't be canned due to flour or milk like baked potato soup and beef stew for sick days, or that have ham in them (too much fat for canning plus the preseving salts).  Although that will be more like just freezing the leftovers.

I also want to do up some breakfast burritos, omelets, and breakfast casserole bakes.  It wouldn't hurt to have gluten free pancakes, waffles, and French toast available either.  And some cauliflower pizza crusts already cooked and then frozen for easy use.

I have lots of plans, but limited stamina, so we'll see how it goes.

I'm sure it will take me quite some time to put all these things in the freezer bank, but if I have enough for just two meals a week it will be so helpful.

Starting the Beef Fund, Planning a Challenge, and the Freezer is Here!

December 28th, 2020 at 11:53 pm

I started the Beef Fund by putting $48 in leftover grocery money into an envelope.  I will hopefully be able to continue to fund it this way by being tight on the grocery budget.  And also since next month is the Eat from the Pantry Challenge, I hope to spend very, very little.  I will still buy a few items of fresh produce like lettuce, celery, scallions, maybe bread if I can't keep up with making it, and milk in January, but hope to come away with at least 3/4 of the grocery budget for January.

I will be doing a stock up haul before the 1st to get enough eggs to last through the month and a bunch of long-lasting fruit, like oranges, lemons, and bananas, and then the regular amount of short lasting fruit, like bananas, grapes, and a couple of pineapples.  Also I will make sure I have enough tortillas, onions, potatoes, and carrots to last all month.

Our freezer arrived today.  It came in earlier than expected after being delayed from earlier this month.  I am not complaining.  I have to wait 24 hours before I can put anything in it and then I will start making freezer meals and soups I can't can.

Meal Planning for the Week

December 7th, 2020 at 09:26 pm

It's been a while since I've posted a meal plan and even longer since I've made one.  Some weeks have been so last minute lately and others so much easier to grab takeout, but we are on a firm no take out meals agenda for the next two weeks and I need to not have that last minute case of what do I make?  So here we go:

Monday:  Tacos (hard shells, lettuce, tomato, homemade seasoning, ground sirloin) and fresh pineapple

Tuesday:  Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, grapes

Wednesday:  BBQ chicken legs, fried potatoes, broccoli, bananas

Thursday:  Cheese Ravioli with meat sauce bake, salad, apples

Friday:  Rotisserie chicken, baked potatoes, Normandy vegetables

Saturday:  Creamy chicken tacquitos (soft toritillas, cream cheese, salsa verde, scallions, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder), salad, fresh pineapple

Sunday:  Baked potato soup (bacon, potatoes, scallions, whole milk, butter, GF flour, salt, pepper, sour cream, extra sharp cheddar), salad, apples

Found the Freezer and Planning How to Fill It

December 3rd, 2020 at 08:59 pm

I finally saved up enough to buy a new upright freezer and then I finally found one I liked that was available, so my new 20 cu. ft freezer will be arriving next week. And for $25 extra they will move the old freezer to a different location for us so we don't even have to do that part ourselves. Well worth it since where we want it involves two steps.

That means the one we have in the laundry room can be moved up to the main kitchen so Mom doesn't have to go down and back up the steps every time she wants something from the freezer and my nephew won't wake me up at 2 a.m. rummaging around in the freezer for ice cream since that freezer is on the opposite side of the wall where the head of my bed is. That one is Mom's anyway, but I was using two shelves in it. Now my nephew and my sister will be able to have those two shelves for their food.

I will be so excited to have this new freezer, because I want to do freezer meals, casseroles, and homemade TV dinners and freeze the kind of soups or stews you can't can because they include gluten free flour or dairy, as well as get a beef next year. This freezer will free up room in the chest freezer for that beef. And I will have more room to freeze zucchini. Having a freezer bank of meals goes far towards not eating out when I am exhausted and saves us a lot of money in the long run.

I am already planning on making meatloaves, lasagnas, ravioli bakes, enchilada casseroles, tauqitos, chicken Alfredo, Taco Farfalle, Chicken Mac and Cheese, and bags of chicken shwarma meat, chicken fajita meat, fajita peppers and onions, and jerk chicken all ready to be dumped in the Instant Pot. All of the pastas will be brown rice pasta. Oh, and I plan to brown up some beef, some seasoned for spaghetti, some seasoned for tacos, for really lazy days. Also I want to do baked potato soup and beef stew for the freezer as well.

I can do all that with food I have on hand and will get going after the new freezer has been plugged in for 24 hours. I will likely start by cooking a triple batch of whatever I am making for dinner a coulpe of times a week, one for dinner and two for the freezer. I find that is the best way to do it without letting it get overwhelming. If I can build up to 30 dinner meals in the freezer plus some individual meals for DD and DS when they don't want to eat what DH and I want to eat, it will have my so far ahead of the game and my life will just get instantly easier when I don't feel like cooking.

No Eating Out Two Week Gluten Free Meal Plan

September 7th, 2020 at 08:57 am

The eating out has just got to stop. There are 3 restaurants we can get gluten free food at and we have been abusing that way too much. It's expensive and it isn't as good as what I can cook. I just need to push myself through the exhaustion and do it. Part of my issue is that I keep skipping out on meal planning and not being prepared because of it. Having a plan means not staring at the wall trying to come up with dinner at the last minute. It means knowing what meat to take out of the freezer 3 days ahead to thaw. It means knowing what to prep for the week in the way of vegetables. It means not kicking myself for wasting money on take out.

Day One:
Grilled ribeye steak
Grilled corn on the cob (garden)
Grilled Zucchini (garden)

Day Two:
Gluten free cheese ravioli with meat sauce
Green beans (garden)

Day Three:
Chicken stir-fry with broccoli (garden), carrots (garden), onions, celery, and orange bell pepper (garden)
Rice

Day Four:
Chuck Roast
Baked Potatoes
Green beans (garden)
Corn on the cob (garden)

Day Five:
Chicken Shawama
Gluten free naan bread (new recipe)
Tzatziki sauce (cucumbers from the garden)
Cabbage shreds
Red onion shreds

Day Six:
Individual gluten free pizza (new recipe)
Topping choices: Pepperoni, saprasetta, sausage, Canadian bacon, bell peppers, onions, pineapple
Cole slaw

Day Seven:
Grilled beef kabobs
Grilled onion, bell pepper (garden), and zucchini (garden) kabobs
Grilled corn on the cob (garden)

Day Eight:
Brown rice spaghetti
Meatballs
Salad with cucumbers (garden), tomatoes (garden), cabbage, lettuce, cheese

Day Nine:
Lamb shanks
Corn on the cob (garden)
Broccoli (garden)

Day Ten:
Smothered onion brined pork chops
Fried potatoes
Cole slaw

Day Eleven:
Spot prawns (caught earlier this season by DH and DS)
Corn on the cob (garden)
Green beans (garden)

Day Twelve:
Easy chicken saltimbocca
Baked potatoes
Zucchini (garden)

Day Thirteen:
French onion chicken
Corn on the cob (garden)
Zucchini (garden)

Day Fourteen:
Beef Fajitas (bell peppers from the garden) in corn tortillas
Pico de gallo (tomatoes and jalapeno from the garden) with tortilla chips
Corn on the cob (garden)

Two Week Meal Plan Based on my Freezer Inventory

July 17th, 2020 at 05:07 am

After I did my big chest freezer inventory, I took a half an hour to sit down and work out a meal plan based on the meats and some of the frozen and garden vegetables I have here. While I did not include it in the below meal plan, I also buy seasonal fruit or pick it. For example, watermelon and cherries are in season and cheap right now. Also, right now in the back yard garden I have ripe strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. So while I might jot it down on the meal list, I usually don't. We just pick whatever it is that is ready from the yard or what needs to be used up in the fridge to add to the meal. It just varies so much there is little point in adding it to the plan.

So here is what I have been eating and will be eating soon. I thought it might give other people some ideas, especially in this time of eating more at home due to the pandemic. We save a lot of money by meal planning, making sure we properly use up what we buy or harvest, and cooking from scratch.

Day One:
Japanese Chicken Curry (potatoes, carrots, seasonings)
Rice
Salad (from the garden)

Day Two:
Meatloaf (Hamburger, Italian Sausage, ground turkey, lamb, eggs, cheese, rice crumbs, onions, seasonings)
Baked Potatoes
Broccoli

Day Three:
Steelhead Trout with Herbed Garlic Butter
Corn on the Cob
Green Beans (Home canned)

Day Four:
Beef Chuck Roast
Baked Potatoes
French Cut Green Beans (Home canned)
Watermelon

Day Five:
Chicken Stir fry (broccoli, cauliflower, onions (freezer), bell peppers (freezer), carrots, celery, snow peas (garden)
Rice
Watermelon

Day Six:
Grilled Ribeye Steaks
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled Zucchini (garden)
Grilled Snow Peas (garden)

Day Seven:
Basil Pesto Chicken

Text is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HViMJzRlkzI and Link is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HViMJzRlkzI
Leftover Grilled Veggies
Roasted Italian Herbed Potatoes

Day Eight:
Salmon (caught last season and frozen)
Broccoli
Baked Potatoes

Day Nine:
BBQ Pork Ribs
Fried Potatoes
Green Beans (Home canned)

Day Ten:
Spot Prawns (caught earlier this season and frozen)
Corn on the Cob
Zucchini (garden)

Day Eleven:
Chicken Schawarma
Gluten Free Naan Bread
Tzatziki Sauce
Cole Slaw

Day Twelve:
Gluten Free Jovial Brown Rice Spaghetti
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Zucchini Shreds (frozen, last year's garden) and Home Grown Home Canned Tomatoes
Gluten Free Meatballs (same ingredients as my meatloaf but with different cheeses)
Salad (garden)

Day Thirteen:
Homemade Gluten Free Pizza with pepperoni, sausage, bell peppers, and onions
Leftover Spaghetti Sauce for the Sauce
Salad (garden)

Day Fourteen:
Pork Shoulder Roast
Mashed Potatoes
Homemade Gluten Free Gravy
Green Beans

Dinner Blahs

April 8th, 2020 at 05:23 am

I've been getting so bored with my food. It's mostly because I don't feel like putting the effort in. We've been eating a rotation of about 4 different meals and I really need to snap out of this and get some variety back into our diets. I have the food, just not the usual inventiveness or energy to look through all my recipes. I'm wondering if this is just a sort of quarantine depression? I mean it's not full blown, but it is slightly worse than seasonal. I usually delight in cooking.

But maybe it is also that I am so tired of the limitations on my daughter's food. I don't want to be making two different meals so I've kind of been avoiding that type of food that she can't or won't eat. Tonight for dinner we had pancakes and ham, but her pancakes had to be gluten free, so while it wasn't making two different meals, we did have to make the gluten free ones first so we could use the griddle without a wash in between.

I think I will just have to buck up and do it or make her a bunch of freezer meals and us some of the foods she can't eat, like fajitas and tacos and jerk chicken.

I really shouldn't be complaining right now because we have food and we have an income and it's not like in the old days when women had to cook 3 meals a day. I do have some help from my son and sometimes my husband and I only need to make dinner, not lunches or breakfasts. I miss takeout and I miss the store's deli department more than I should. We are all losing weight though without those things.

DS had a telemedicine appointment today about a new medication. I sat in on it with him at his request. It was so nice to see a new face! He is the doctor for the whole family and he asked after all of our health at the end of the appointment and whether we were taking our vitamins A, C, D, and E, which we are. He also asked me about how often I was using the nebulizer even though it wasn't my appointment.

Tomorrow I am going to try to get out in the garden, weather permitting. I haven't been outside since Thursday and that is probably contributing to my closed in feelings.

I am debating on whether or not to cancel our rescheduled vacation that is mid-May. We are trying to cancel our gym membership, but their voicemail is full and so far no response to email. They charged us for April even though they won't be open at all during April. I know it is an autopay, but they should have stopped those when they know darn well they won't be open the whole month. We are not on a contract. I might end up disputing it if we can't get through to them.


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