Saturday, July 19, 2014

A menu for July and continuing the Pantry Challenge

I decided to do a Pantry Challenge this month.  You can see what we're eating each day right here.
I actually have done more shopping than I would like, but I didn't announce the challenge to my guys, so I'm trying to limit my spending without making them crazy.  Last week, we did pretty well - I would say the hit of the week was Thursday, when I used leftover rice, taco meat, lettuce, and cheese and turned it into Mexi Rice Bowls!  I cooked some black beans in my pressure cooker and everyone layered their bowls as they liked, and topped with salsa or sour cream, or both.  Yum!  I've been wanting to try that, and now that I know it's a hit, you can bet we'll do it again.

So here's the plan for our week:
Sunday~ Chicken pesto pasta.  Hubs grilled burgers on Friday, so we threw some chicken breasts on the grill too.  They'll be perfect for this dish! 
Edited to add: he decided we should go out for lunch after church, and we ate so much that no dinner was necessary.  This meal will be moved to Tuesday!
Monday~ Eggplant Parmesan with spaghetti.  This beauty will be the base for our dinner!
Tuesday~ Must-goes: anything in the fridge that must go.  We've got a variety - egg noodles w/beef & gravy, assorted pastas... help yourself.
Wednesday~ I want to do BLTs, but none of the tomatoes in our garden are ready just yet - they are still green (except for the cherries).  If I don't find a pretty tomato, I think I'll do a roasted veggie tart with zucchini slices, eggplant slices, sliced mushrooms, diced tomatoes on top, and a sprinkling of feta.  Sort of like this one, just tailored to the veggies we have on hand.
Thursday~ By this time, my beloved husband will be craving BEEF.  He is a meat-a-tarian, to be sure.  I think we'll try Lawnmower Tacos - we've got some Doritos languishing in the cabinet.
Friday~ TBA...I'll figure out something!  It'll either be breakfast or clean-out-the-fridge for the cookout tomorrow.
Saturday~ Family's coming over for a cookout!  We'll do shrimp, chicken, and sausage on the grill, and I'll make corn on the cob and baked beans.  We have everything except the shrimp and sausage, which we'll get on Saturday morning.  Mom will make her famous potato salad, and sis will bring cole slaw.  I'll be making Fish Mama's chocolate zucchini cake (which I'll slather with chocolate frosting) to celebrate my grandpa's 86th birthday.

Lunches will be sandwiches on the newly successful Cuban bread, or quesadillas, or leftovers.

Check out Good Cheap Eats to do a Pantry Challenge of your own
Stop by Menu Plan Monday for tons of menu inspiration!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week Two of the Pantry Challenge...

Last week was relatively successful with our pantry challenge, though I did buy a few items we could live without.  We've done a pretty good job of sticking to the menu with little complaint from my guys.  You can see what we're actually eating every day right here.

On a personal note, this past week marked the one year anniversary of my youngest brother's death.  I miss him all the time, and my boys constantly do things that remind me of him.  It was tough.  Please...take time to tell the people you love that you care, while they're here.

This week:
lunch: London Broil in the crockpot, rice & gravy, corn on the cob (leftover from last week) and green beans, followed by FishMama's chocolate zucchini cake.  Yum!
snack before church: pretzels baked in the oven (some sweet, some salty)
dinner: sandwiches after church in our Fellowship Hall

lunch: frozen pizza, bought last week for 2.99 each
dinner: big chef salads, and leftover beef from Sunday, if anyone wants it

lunch: sandwiches on homemade bread, chips
dinner: tacos, Pioneer Woman's Mexican Rice, homemade refried beans

lunch: leftover pizza 
dinner: breakfast for dinner

lunch: sandwiches & chips
dinner: Nachos made w/leftovers from taco night, perhaps homemade salsa if we have enough tomatoes

lunch: I may be at a workshop, in which case everyone will be on their own
dinner: hamburgers on the grill

lunch: TBA - probably random leftovers from the week!
dinner: TBA

I know I will have to get more eggs and cheese from the grocery store.  Hoping I'll be successful in limiting it to just those two items!!!

the menu marvels at Menu Plan Monday!

Monday, July 7, 2014

What we're actually eating during the pantry challenge

July is a good month for us to try to save some cash in the area of I try to do a Pantry Challenge - where we eat from our food stores and shop as little as possible.

Wednesday, July 23:
Breakfast: eggs & bacon for hubs, breakfast sandwich for me, and ds finished off the cereal.
Lunch: Hubs & ds ate at the bowling alley.  I ate the Lawnmower taco leftovers.
Dinner: Ds spent the night with a friend, so hubs & I went out for a date.

Tuesday, July 22:
Breakfast: Eggs & bacon for hubs (I bought bacon yesterday...), 'breakfast sandwich' for me - swiss chard (garden), sliced mushrooms, cheese, 1 slice bacon (super yum!), cereal for ds.
Lunch: Ds & Hubs ate at the bowling alley.  I ate a pasta concoction using leftover egg noodles, sautéed mushrooms & cherry tomatoes (garden) with a little white sauce.
Dinner:  Lawnmower taco.  A sort of oven-nacho thing.  Guys liked it.  Hubby asked for pecan pie afterward.  (Not happening...I can make many things, but I never have any luck with pecan pie!!)

Monday, July 21:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs & toast for hubs, smoothie for me, cereal for ds
Lunch: Ds is bowling again this week but he doesn't like the person who cooks on Mondays (!!!) so he came home and I made sandwiches for him & hubs on our new Cuban bread experiment.  I had some leftovers - egg noodles with beef.
Dinner:  Eggplant Parmesan, made with an eggplant from our garden.  It was magnificent, and my guys LOVED it, even though it was a totally meatless meal.

Sunday, July 20:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and leftover pancakes for hubs; a smoothie and cereal for ds & me.
Lunch: Hubs decided we should go we did...and ate so much that nobody was hungry at ALL for dinner.
Snack: popcorn, cheese & crackers, nachos.

Saturday, July 19:
Breakfast: Hubs & I have a standing date to the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings, and we usually eat breakfast at a spot nearby.  It was pouring, but I wanted to get some milk and check on veggie options, so he went with me.  None of my farmers with veggies were there because the rain was so bad, so we left with just milk (and breakfast).
When we got home, I went out to the garden after the rain subsided.  I picked this eggplant, which will make a beautiful eggplant parmesan next week! 
Lunch: Leftover pasta salad from yesterday for hubs & me, and ds had a sub sandwich on the last of the Cuban experiment bread.  He requested I make more.  I made a blueberry cobbler with some berries that had been given to us - the blueberries were old and the cobbler was less than stellar...but we will still eat it.
Dinner: Pancakes for dinner tonight! Ds asked for chocolate chips in his, and there are extras for breakfast in the morning if anyone wants them.

Friday, July 18:
Breakfast: Hubs had a meeting with our pastor; I had a smoothie (swiss chard from the garden, cherries, blueberries, a chunk of frozen pineapple, and some ginger) and ds stayed in bed until 11!!!!
Lunch: Hubs had a lunch appointment with a friend; I had pretzels & cucumbers dipped in homemade ranch dressing.  Ds#3 had a sub sandwich on my experimental Cuban bread.  Which isn't much like Cuban - more like French - but he liked it.
Dinner: Burgers on the grill, and a pasta salad concoction that I created - penne tossed with mozzarella (I cut the balls into 4 pieces each) and cherry tomatoes and basil from the garden.  Like a caprese pasta salad!

Thursday, July 17:
Breakfast: Hubs made scrambled eggs for himself as I headed off to a doctor's appointment.  Ds apparently did not eat.  When I got home, I had some peanut butter & crackers.
Lunch: Sandwiches for everyone - my guys love the Cuban bread from Publix, so I bought some yesterday.  I'm going to try my hand at making it this week!  Hubs likes ham & cheese; ds#3 & I prefer turkey, so I sliced up some of the leftover turkey in the fridge (out of lunchmeat) and put that on our sandwiches.  Hubs also had some cherry crisp.  It is so good - there is NOTHING like fresh fruit in the summertime!
Dinner: A feat of leftover wizardry. :) I took a tip from FishMama and had rice bowls - using leftover rice from Sunday, leftover taco meat & cheese from last night, and black beans cooked in the pressure cooker.  We topped with salsa & sour cream and everyone loved it.  I've been wanting to try this, and now that I know it's a success, we will definitely do it again!
And the cherry crisp is all gone.

Wednesday, July 16:
Breakfast: no breakfast for anyone but me - I had half a sandwich and then headed to the grocery store, for....
bath tissue
pasta (coupons made it .66 a box)
produce - mushrooms, cucumber, cherries
Cuban bread
spent $43.
Lunch: Hubs & I had to return some greenery to my mom's office across town, so he wanted to stop for a date to have time to talk.
Dinner: Taco night - huge success! Seasoned ground beef with lettuce, salsa, cheese, sour cream, and queso dip with tortilla chips.  Everyone was full and happy.
Dessert: A cherry crisp with some of the fresh cherries - yummmmmm.

Tuesday, July 15:
Breakfast: eggs for hubs, none for me or ds.
Lunch: Hubs had What-a-burger on the run; I had a sandwich at home; ds had Chinese out with the youth group.
Dinner: Leftover London Broil & gravy over noodles (baked potato for me).

Monday, July 14:
Breakfast: Hubs had a cheese omelet and bacon.  Bowl of cereal for me, and a lazy morning with no breakfast for ds#3.
Lunch: Frozen pizza bought for $2.99 each.  Leftovers will be lunch later in the week.  Easy, and everyone was happy.
Dinner: We went out.  Our church had an evening service & youth event that we were all going to, so hubs suggested dinner at our fave Mexican spot.  We stayed for an 'ice cream social' after church.

Sunday, July 13:
Breakfast: Hubs had scrambled eggs & bacon. I had a bowl of cereal, and ds#3 had a big glass of milk.  Sigh.
Lunch: London Broil cooked in the crockpot while we were at church.  Had rice & gravy, corn on the cob, and green beans to go with.  And naturally, zucchini cake for dessert.  Yum.
Dinner: Hubs is having sort of a reunion from his Bible College days, so we were off to a meeting at church.  Before we left, I had some dough for pretzels, so I baked those in the oven and they were all eaten.  After church, I helped 'host' refreshments - a sandwich bar with veggies, fruit, and assorted homemade cookies - so we ate there.

Saturday, July 12:
Breakfast: Hubs had scrambled eggs, and then he decided he wanted a bowl of cereal.  I ran down to the Farmer's Market and bought fresh raw milk, cheddar, and a roast for the freezer.  Then I came home and had a cheese sandwich with cherry tomatoes from the garden.  (yes...I know my breakfast choices are unorthodox.) Ds#3 did not want anything.
Lunch: I had planned to make some pasta, but the power went out, and stayed out for about 1.5 hours.  We had sandwiches - used hamburger buns leftover from the July 4th cookout, filled with ham, turkey, cheese, and lettuce. I also made FishMama's chocolate zucchini cake and had JUST taken it out of the oven when the power went off.  So we each had a slice.
Dinner:  I used up partial boxes of two different kinds of spaghetti, and the guys had the leftover spaghetti sauce from Wednesday (I managed to squeeze two servings from it instead of one!).  I tossed my pasta with cherry tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.  I made garlic bread from hotdog buns from the same July 4th cookout.

Friday, July 11:
Breakfast: Hubs & ds#3 ate on the run.  I had bloodwork done, so I rewarded myself by meeting my sis at Panera, followed by a little spontaneous shopping.
Lunch: Hubs & ds#3 took the bowling coach out to lunch.  I snacked at the house.
Dinner: At a reunion of sorts for Hubs.  We took baked beans.  Ds#3 ate leftover mac'n'cheese and BBQ chicken at the house (and asked for a serving of the baked beans before we left).

Thursday, July 10:
Breakfast: Made hubs scrambled eggs & bacon; I used the last apple on an apple-cheddar sandwich; ds#3 had a big glass of milk.
Lunch: Hubs & I had large salads using some of the cherry tomatoes that are beginning to come in from the garden.  I made homemade croutons to go on the salads.  Ds#3 ate at bowling camp.
Dinner: Hubs had a gift card to Chick-fil-A so we had dinner from there.  I also have a calendar card that entitled us to a free milk shake, so ds#3 got that added bonus. :)

Wednesday, July 9:
Breakfast: Hubs got breakfast on the run; I had an apple-cheddar sandwich on homemade bread; ds#3 opted not to eat.
Lunch: Hubs & ds#3 ate at the bowling alley (bowling camp); I snacked at the house and made some brownies.
Dinner: I made spaghetti.  I had planned to make a salad to go with it, but my stomach was upset and I was doing the bare minimum.  Everyone had their fill; we have enough sauce left for one more serving if I make more noodles. 

Tuesday, July 8:
I went to the grocery store today after breakfast.
We had one egg and no milk - I picked up a few other things which were on sale:
Organic milk $2.99 (that's a DEAL in these parts!!)
Frozen pizza (2) $2.99 ea
Bacon $5.29
Mozzarella $4.40
Crackers (BOGO) $3.79
Flour $2.29
Baked beans (3) $5.00 (for dinner @ a friend's house)
Soda (4) $2.50 ea (but I had a coupon for a free one)
Natural Cane sugar $3.59
Pasta $.67
Rice *free w/coupon*
Sour cream (BOGO) $2.49
18 eggs $3.99

Breakfast: Hubs had scrambled eggs; I had a sandwich on whole wheat bread with apple slices & cheese; ds#3 had these Larabar fake-outs which taste great, but are also a great way to get some fruit in him that he wouldn't normally eat. 
Lunch: ds#3 ate at bowling camp. I ate leftover chicken parm (it's all gone now!), and hubs ate some salami slices and cheese cubes (he was working in the yard and it was HOTTTT).
Dinner: Leftover chicken was made over into BBQ chicken sandwiches which everyone loved (there's enough left for ONE sandwich).  To go with, we had some very decadent mac'n'cheese that my mom made, and some farm-fresh corn on the cob.

Monday, July 7:
Again, no breakfast.  Meeting Marine Son & DIL at airport to see them off.
Lunch: ds#3 is in bowling camp this week, so he'll eat there.  I ate leftover chicken parm, and hubs grabbed something at the bowling alley when he dropped ds#3 off.
Dinner: turkey breast (cooked earlier and frozen), pan gravy, over homemade whole wheat bread, along with fried okra.  I got the okra when the older boys were here - it's not something we usually eat, but they requested it.  Now I've gotta use it up!

Sunday, July 6:
No one was up early enough for breakfast (Marine Son's wedding reception was the night before and we all got in LATE).
Lunch: leftovers from the Italian dinner we hosted on Thursday (lasagna, chicken parm, spaghetti)
Dinner: leftovers from the 4th of July cookout (I made 40 burgers by hand - 11 of them are now in the freezer).  We had burgers, chips, pasta salad, and fruit.  No cooking for Mom. :)

I can't believe it's JULY! And the start of a Pantry Challenge...

Last week was amazing, and extremely busy.
More about that in a moment.
This week, we're beginning a Pantry Challenge.
I am going to do my best to buy as little as I can from the grocery store, and use up some things that have been lingering in my pantry.  My freezer is in good shape, but I have cans and boxes of things that have probably been in the pantry longer than they should be, so I need to use them up.  This is my time.

Here's the plan:
the day after our oldest son's wedding reception.  We were tired!!!
Lunch & dinner are both leftovers - we have Italian from Thursday night's dinner and burgers from Friday's cookout.  We woke up too late to have breakfast so we went straight to lunch.
Lunch: at the bowling alley for ds, leftovers from home for me.  Hubs disappeared somewhere so I don't know what he ate!
Dinner: Turkey breast (from the freezer), homemade gravy, on toasted bread for open-faced sandwiches, along with some fried okra that I bought to make while the big boys were home.  Dessert will be a cheesecake from the freezer.
Lunch: at the bowling alley again for ds, leftovers or sandwiches at home for dh & me.
Dinner: BBQ chicken sandwiches (made from leftover chicken last week), leftover pasta salad, and perhaps a green salad.  We've finally got some tomatoes coming in!
Lunch: bowling alley & leftovers or sandwiches.
Dinner: Spaghetti, homemade bread, zucchini fingers (from an enormous one given to us by a friend)
Lunch: bowling alley & leftovers or salad.
Dinner: Sandwiches & chips
Lunch: bowling alley & leftovers or sandwiches/salads
Dinner: Out at a friend's house - bringing baked beans
TBA...I'll take inventory and reassess.

And as for last week, here's what we did...
All my boys were at home for the first time in 4 years.  I loved every second...even the load of towels I had to wash every day. :) My son and his new wife were home for a wedding reception (since they married in Hawaii in the fall and no one could come.)

Thursday evening...a dinner for the families to meet for the first time

The daughter-in-love adored the "H" that we had filled with succulents.  I'll be shipping it home for them.

4th of July cookout - we had 26 people there, all friends of the bride & groom
They played corn hole for HOURS.

On Saturday: sons #2 & #3 with me, getting ready
And horsing around with Dad

The decor
And Marine Son w/his Dad

We are blessed beyond measure.

Monday, June 30, 2014

July already??? Here's our menu...

My older sons are both in town for the wedding reception festivities this week.  This marks the first time in four years that I have had all my children home at the same time.  I am a happy mama.

This week is very busy, and there will be lots of meals out (planned).  I've mapped out lunch and dinner for us... last week, we stuck to the plan well, so here's hoping this week  goes as smoothly!!!

lunch: subs on the run (headed to a Bridal Tea)
dinner: huge pot of spaghetti for the whole tribe (DIL too!)

lunch: pizza from the freezer               
dinner: sticky chicken (rotisserie-style chicken), fried okra (ds#2's request), twice-baked potatoes, and fresh corn on the cob (from a friend)

lunch: homemade sub sandwiches using this bread recipechips, fruit
dinner: out to a local minor league ball game, eat at the ballpark

lunch: out to our fave local Mexican place (ds#2's request)
dinner: guys are headed to another ball game - they'll eat there.  I'll fend for myself. ;)

lunch: everyone's on their own; I'll be with my sister decorating for a family dinner
dinner: at a local Italian restaurant to celebrate the union of our families

4th of July cookout!  Burgers, dogs, sausages, chips, baked beans, etc....

Today's the reception!  My sis & I will be helping to decorate so the guys will have to fend for themselves.  Dinner will be at the reception.

What a week!!!!!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

It's a Wedding....RECEPTION, that is. And the menu too!

My oldest son is a Marine.  He was married in the fall, in Hawaii, where he is stationed.  We took a trip to see him last year.

He was married a few months after we left, before he deployed.  He and his wife are coming home this week and next week, we will have a big reception to celebrate the happy couple.

We've been at work planning a 'rehearsal dinner' of sorts, except it's not really a rehearsal dinner, because they've already had the wedding.  It's actually a chance for the families to be together before the big event.

Marine Son will take a quick road trip with his buddies to see some baseball games while his wife finalizes plans, and Son #2 (formerly Airman Son) will arrive at the end of the week to participate in the festivities as well.  We'll have a full house next week and I'm SO EXCITED!!!!  It's been several years since we've all been together.

Meanwhile, I traveled to D.C. to see my oldest niece graduate from high school.  My brother and sister-in-law were very gracious hosts.

This was after graduation, and locking keys in a running van, and taking turns waiting for the locksmith to come so my brother wouldn't miss his daughter's graduation.
(my dad, my sister and me)
This is a pic of my mom (dinosaur mask), my sister-in-law (pink squid),
my sister (one of the green squid), me (red), and my nieces.
This is what we do when you let us out in public.

Here's what we ate after I got home:
Tuesday~ Spaghetti, cooked by my sweet husband, because I had enough restaurant food while I was gone.
Wednesday~ Beef tips, mashed potatoes & gravy, Caesar salad.  Cooked by me.
Thursday~ Rotisserie chicken, salad, and homemade rolls.
Friday~ Lasagna (from the freezer), salad, and french rolls.
Saturday~ Burgers, hotdogs, and sausage on the grill.  Baked beans and cucumber salad to go with, and chocolate cake for dessert.  My mom came to eat with us while my dad is on a missions trip in Nicaragua.

And this week??
Sunday~ for lunch: leftovers from the grill.  For dinner: pizza & swimming with friends.
Monday~ Sticky chicken, mashed potatoes, cucumber salad.
Tuesday~ The newlyweds arrive!  We're going to Olive Garden for dinner with them.
Wednesday~ Tacos with all the trimmin's
Thursday~ Pasta toss (pasta with tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, whatever veg we have on hand, tossed with cheese - usually feta)
Friday~ 'Macho' nachos with any leftover taco fix in's
Saturday~ Son #2 comes in.... so it'll be whatever he requests!

Take the time to savor moments with your loved ones this week.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

School's out!!! Getting ready for summer Menus.

Last week's menu plan would be classified as a FAIL.
So here's hoping that this week is better!

A dear family welcomed a new baby on Wednesday, so we will be taking them dinner this week, and ds#3 will hang out with their oldest son too.

Kids are officially out of school - teachers have a few days to wrap up - so it's time to deploy all the creative juices to keep the boy occupied.  I never had this issue with his older brothers, because there were two of them, and lots of kids in the neighborhood.  Now, not so many kids around, and ds#3 is the only one at home.  So, get BUSY, Mom!

I'll spend more time actually planning once I'm done with work, because if I don't have a lunchtime plan, we always spend more $$$.

Sunday~ homemade sub sandwiches for lunch; Bourbon chicken (with no bourbon) with rice and green beans for dinner
Monday~ Chef salads
Tuesday~ Roast in crockpot, mashed potatoes, Caesar salad
Taking dinner to our friends tonight: beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, Caesar salad, crescent rolls.  Cookies for dessert. :)
Wednesday~ ds#3 is spending the night with a friend, so hubs & I may have a date.  Or a quiet evening in.  
Thursday~ Steaks on the grill, baked potatoes, salad.  Yum!
Friday~ Spaghetti, our favorite standby.
Saturday~ TBA...maybe something yummy from the Farmer's Market.