Saturday, January 30, 2010

Menu Plan... Freezer Cooking... Excitement in my Kitchen!

February has arrived, and the Pantry Challenge is officially over. We did *really* well, and I am quite proud of the effort... it is good to know how resourceful we can be!

That said, we required a BIG shopping trip to restock for the month ahead. I am just learning how to effectively use coupons and I saved $85 on my big shop - woo hoo!!

This weekend, I:
*baked Feta-Wheat Bread (recipe below)
*packaged chicken breasts for the freezer
*portioned ground beef in one-pound portions (2 c cooked = 1 lb)
*cooked a batch of beans (some for this week, and some for the freezer for later meals)

There is a new ad going into effect at Save-A-Lot on Feb. 1st with some good 'stock-up' prices on meat, so I'll probably be doing a little more next weekend.

And now a disclaimer: when we go out to eat as a family for celebrations, we do not foot the bill for that. My wonderful grandparents do it as their treat to all of us. (Just had to say that since we'll be out for 3 meals over the next two weeks!!)

On to the menu plan for the week!
Sunday~ Chili Mac
Monday~ Hubby has class. Leftovers for ds#3 & me.
Tuesday~ Out to eat to celebrate my sister's b-day
Wednesday~ Pasta toss (similar to this one) and Feta Wheat Bread with dipping sauces
Thursday~ Ds#3 has a program at school. Out to eat afterward.
Friday~ Breakfast for dinner: pancakes with fruit, bacon
Saturday~ Chicken in mushroom gravy (crock pot), egg noodles, broccoli, rolls
Week Two:
Sunday~ Tacos & Macho Nachos (Superbowl!)
Monday~ Orange Chicken, rice, mandarin oranges, broccoli, won tons
Tuesday~ Make your own pizza night
Thursday~ Out to eat for my mom's b-day
Friday~ Sandwiches & chips (Olympic opening ceremonies)
Saturday~ Burgers & Dogs on the grill, baked beans, french fries (Baseball try-outs)

Feta Wheat Bread
I originally printed this recipe from, but can't find it there now.
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp oil or butter
3 cups bread flour (I used 2 cups white flour and 1 cup freshly ground whole wheat flour)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp active dry yeast or bread machine yeast
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

*You can make this by hand, but I used my bread machine to do the kneading for me. I just put it into the oven to rise, then baked it later.*

Add the ingredients to the bread machine according to the manufacturer's directions. Select basic white bread cycle. Makes 18 servings.
*Again, I selected 'dough' and then divided the dough into rolls to rise and bake.*

Share your menus at Laura's and if you've done any freezer cooking, stop by Money Saving Mom or Life As Mom to share!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Last week of the Pantry Challenge and Menu Plan Monday!

Well, we've made it to Week Four of the Pantry Challenge!!
I've bought milk, eggs, bread, and Diet Coke weekly (yeah, we're still working on that one...) and I'm VERY proud of that!! And actually, last week's plan went off almost like clockwork, except for the fact that dh sponsored a dance at our school on Friday night with the student government, so we all pitched in and helped. That meant a fast dinner of leftovers at home, so Friday's menu will carry over to this week.

Sunday~ Beef tips & gravy, egg noodles, salad or green beans, biscuits
Monday~ Hubby has class. FFYS.
Tuesday~ Bourbon chicken, rice, peas
Wednesday~Spaghetti & french bread
Thursday~ Beef tenderloin, 5 Minute Individual Potato Gratins, salad, bread
Friday~ OUT TO EAT with a certificate!!!!
Saturday~ TBD. BIG grocery shop coming. :)

Share your menu marvels at Laura's.
If you're participating in the Pantry Challenge, hop over to Money Saving Mom!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Menu Monday and Week THREE of the Pantry Challenge!!

So last week, I changed a few things around, but I did not go to the grocery store at ALL (I did go last Saturday for eggs, milk, bread, and Diet Coke - argh!). This week, I have a planned dinner out with co-workers to discuss some work issues, but other than that, we'll be eating at home again - and saving TONS of money!!!

Sunday~ BBQ pork sandwiches, french fries (tenderloin in the freezer - cook in crock pot, shred, then heat through with BBQ sauce. I usually cook it one day, then serve the next)
Monday~ Grilled burgers & dogs (all in the freezer), baked beans, pasta salad
Tuesday~ Lasagna (from the freezer), tossed salad, french bread
Wednesday~Breakfast (we didn't have it last week! Besides, it's such an easy, comforting meal.)
Thursday~ out to eat with colleagues - dh & ds#3 will probably go out also...
Friday~ Beef tips & gravy, egg noodles, green beans, biscuits
Saturday~ invited to eat with friends - will bring bread and dessert
**I may roast a turkey on Saturday also for meals the following week**

Eating From the Pantry Challenge - Week Two recap

This week went pretty well - I went to the store last Saturday for eggs, milk, bread, and Diet Coke (my husband's single vice!). Then I came home and we had a chat about Coke being over $5!!! YIKES!!!

My darling man also loves to go out to eat, so on Sunday, I gave in. But that meal actually provided two lunches for both of us during the week, so I didn't feel quite so bad. The rest of the week, we ate at home, almost according to plan. I was worried that I was going to have to hit the grocery store - just for ONE item - but still... and I was able to avoid that. YEA for small victories! The weather has been unseasonably cold, so we've had lots of soup. This week will return to more normal temps, and I may have to get creative with a few things!

Here is what we actually ate:
Sunday~ I relented and we went out to eat. But the leftovers provided lunch for hubby & me for two more days.
Monday~ Pasta fagioli soup
Tuesday~ Orange chicken, rice, broccoli, mandarin oranges
Wednesday~ Quesadillas
Thursday~ Beef tips & gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits (used beef from the freezer & added pearl onions & mushrooms)
Friday~ Pasta toss
Saturday~ Sticky chicken, twice baked potatoes, corn bread, green beans

I am amazed at how well we can eat even when I'm trying not to spend any money. No one has had to endure anything unpleasant - if anything, hubby and son have been thrilled with the meals! Just takes a little resourcefulness on Mom's part. :)

We've got two more weeks to go... how is YOUR challenge holding up??

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Menu Monday and week two of the Pantry Challenge

You can see what we actually ate last week here... one of my problems was that I planned for leftovers, and then there weren't any! So this week, I'm starting with a surplus, and hopefully I won't have to pull any tricks out of my hat.

I made more French Onion Soup to have on hand, for work lunches or for dinner one night. It's been record-breaking cold here, as it has been in many places in the country, and we've been eating LOTS of soup of all kinds, and not as much as salad as I had planned. I also made some Citrus Salad, as we have a pink grapefruit tree and were worried the temps would freeze the fruit.

On to this week:
Sunday~ Leftovers (quesadillas, spaghetti, etc)
Tuesday~ Orange chicken, rice, broccoli, mandarin oranges
Wednesday~ Loaded baked potatoes (cooked in the crock pot!), tossed salad
Thursday~ Breakfast
Friday~ Pasta toss, french bread
Saturday~ Sticky chicken, pasta salad, green beans, corn bread

We should be able to make it through the week without a trip to the grocery store... I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Eat From the Pantry Challenge

So I'm officially joining the
Eat From the Pantry Challenge for the month of January. I've already planned out the menu for the month, and I've already had to make some adaptations - mostly because I planned for leftovers, and there haven't been any!! It's becoming sort of a game - to see how I can avoid going to the grocery store.

My goals for us are:
  • only eggs, bread & milk from the store
  • using up what we have
So we'll see how it goes. For the first week, we've done well; gone to the store for eggs, bread & milk, and cooked everything else from scratch.

This week, we ate:
  • Homemade French Onion soup on Sunday
  • Crock pot Roast with mashed potatoes and green beans on Monday
  • **planned open-faced roast beef sandwiches for Tuesday, but we did not have any leftover roast! So I pulled a casserole that someone brought us when I had surgery a couple of months ago. Threw that in the oven and we had a salad with it. Success!**
  • Potato Bacon torte and tomato soup on Wednesday
  • Breakfast (eggs, bacon, grits) on Thursday
  • **again, planned for leftovers, but there were none! Ended up with spaghetti & meatballs on Friday**
  • Broccoli, Mushroom & Cheese Strata on Saturday (I had some breakfast sausage that needed to be used, so I sprinkled just a little on top. So yummy!)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January... menu for the month

In January, I'm always pretty careful about our menu plan to help us get back on track from Christmas. :)
Here's our plan for this month's meals:
The other days will be filled in with leftovers or breakfast for dinner, which we dearly love.

I love to bake, especially when it's cold outside, so I'm sure some homemade goodies will appear as well. I made Banana Nut Bread today (we had some EXTREMELY ripe bananas!).

New Year, New Menu!

Last week's menu did not go exactly according to plan... but that is why we call it a 'plan'!
We ended up going out on Wednesday night, and hubby wanted tacos for our New Year's Eve dinner. On Friday, we had spaghetti, and Saturday was a FREEZING cold day so chili was on the menu. (Yes, we like our beef here.)

So, things are shuffled around a little. Which is okay. I have planned out the menu for the month, so here's the plan for this week:

Sunday~ French onion soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, salad
Monday~ Roast in the crockpot with onions, mushrooms & carrots, mashed potatoes, green beans
Tuesday~ Open-faced roast beef sandwiches
Wednesday~Potato Bacon torte, salad
Thursday~ Breakfast for dinner. May try this recipe for Broccoli, Mushroom and Cheese Strata from Ellie Krieger
Friday~ Leftovers (there should be plenty!)
Saturday~ Pasta toss, french bread with Italian dipping spices

You can see my plan for the entire month right here.

Can you tell I'm trying to incorporate lots of veggies??

Friday, January 1, 2010

Frugal Friday

Happy New Year!
Naturally, on the first day of the New Year, my thoughts turn to all the things I want to accomplish this year.

*Plan my menus better and shop more frugally
(I've just discovered a Save-a-Lot grocery store in my city and can't wait to try it. Does anyone have any experiences to share?)

*Reduce or eliminate credit card purchases
(This is not as much an issue for me as it is for hubby. But it's a household goal, so I'll list it.)

*Pay off two credit cards.

I've spent today grading papers for school and taking care of household tasks, along with cooking some really great meals for my guys. I've got French Onion Soup simmering on the stove for another day...and I just pulled a Potato-Bacon Torte out of the oven for later as well. Cooking these time-intensive dishes for another day makes a cold-weather meal even better!