Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's a Pantry Challenge for January

January is the perfect month for a Pantry Challenge in our house.  After all the huge menus from Thanksgiving to Christmas, our waistlines AND our checkbooks could use a little scaling back.

Every year in January, I plan our menus for the month, to use up what we've got.  I will go to the store and get milk and VERY necessary items, but for the most part, I'll use it up, make do with what we have, or change the plan and do without.

Jessica at Good Cheap Eats is sponsoring this challenge.  She keeps running posts on what her family eats that day, and how they adapt for this challenge.  I usually post weekly, but may try posting daily, just to keep track of my details.

Join in!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

From Christmas to New Years Eve... our menu

What a Christmas...

Airman Son arrived on Friday evening just in time to have dinner with our extended family - grandparents, great-grandparents, and aunt, uncle, and nephews.  It was amazing to have him home.

The weather was rainy, in the 70s, and very un-Christmas-like.  But on Saturday...
...ds#3 got a letter from Marine Son.

As soon as he found out he had mail, he raced to get it, and sat down immediately to read it.  He loves his big brother.  AND... his brother loves him.  It's enough to make a mama teary.  Then, as soon as he'd finished the letter, Marine Son called!  He was overjoyed.  It was almost more than he could stand.

It's now Christmas evening, and everyone is enjoying their presents while Mom & Dad relax.  Here's our plan for this week:

Sunday~ Merry Christmas!!  Ham, roasted potatoes, Swiss beans, fried okra (Airman Son's fave), crescent rolls (another fave). Chocolate cake, apple cherry pie, and ice cream pie for dessert.  Very full!!!

Monday~ Shopping day with my nieces.  We'll have leftovers for dinner.

Tuesday~ Greek Fest!  Because we haven't had enough to eat yet.  My brother and nieces are in town, and we'll pull out some Greek delicacies that we've purchased to enjoy a feast: moussaka, pastitso, tiropeta, Greek salad, and some grilled chicken for non-Greek fans.

Wednesday~ Lunch at a wonderful seafood restaurant before my brother & nieces head back out of town.  We did this last year and it was scrumptious, but we were so full that no one was hungry for dinner, so I'm not planning any.

Thursday~  Ina Garten's ham and cheese in puff pastry, tossed salad.

Friday~ French onion soup (that I've planned several times, but we've not eaten it yet), potato bacon torte

Saturday~ Undecided yet - probably Mexican, with a family movie night planned

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's finally here... CHRISTMAS! (and vacation)

Last week, our menu was a little wacky, but we survived.  Things got shuffled around to accommodate that thing called LIFE, and we made it work.

This week, we learned that Airman Son will be in on Thursday evening/Friday morning (WOO HOO!!!) so the menus will definitely reflect his preferences.

We made it to Christmas vacation.... here's to a little relaxing!

Sunday~ Sandwiches for lunch, out to eat after a parent/child bowling tourney
Monday~ Tacos and nachos
Tuesday~ French Onion Soup (rain is in the forecast)
Wednesday~ Party with friends, ds#3 spends the night with the grandparents
Thursday~ Spaghetti and stuffed peppers
Friday~ Our traditional outing with my grandparents: out to eat then back to their house for desserts and presents
Saturday~ Dinner and present-opening at my parents' house
Sunday~ CHRISTMAS DAY!!!  Honey Baked Ham, Swiss Beans, Fried Okra (ds#2's fave), Crescent Rolls, Mashed Potatoes.  Wow.  Already I feel full.

And there's more beyond that...
but I'll wait till next week. ;)

Monday, December 12, 2011

The week that school gets out!!! Menu...

Last week's menu went fairly well, as I resisted hubs's advances to go out to eat until Friday - I could hold him off no longer.

Ds#3 and I did make sugar cookies on Sunday night.

11~The bowling tournament that would never end resulted in a trip for pizza.
12~ Meatballs, with either tomato sauce & noodles, or brown gravy, mashed potatoes & broccoli
13~ Out to eat then shopping with ds#3 (part one of History Fair for Dad)
14~ Quesadillas (ds#3's fave)
15~ Out to eat with the fam after ds#3's Christmas play! (part two of History Fair)
16~ Hamburgers & hotdogs....

**campout in the living room**
17~ Turkey rice soup, sandwiches

Come share your menu marvels at Menu Plan Monday!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas is coming... the goose is getting fat!

Last week, I mapped out a plan for us up until Christmas Vacation begins.
(WOO HOO!!!!)
I also made homemade donuts, using this recipe form the Pioneer Woman.  (But I baked them instead of frying.)  They got two thumbs up from ds#3.

Then, hubs announced his plan to go back to a protein-heavy diet, which makes it challenging with some of the menus I've got planned.
So... we'll probably have some revisions, but here's where we stand.
4~ Nachos (use leftover taco meat from Wed)5~ Breakfast for Dinner
6~ **CONCERT NIGHT**  Pasta Fagioli in crockpot
(prepare pasta separately; combine to serve)    
7~ Pepper Steak, rice
8~ Leftovers    **CONCERT NIGHT**
9~ Frozen Pizza  this already got taken from the freezer, so I'll have to come up with some other marvelous idea...
10~ Chili Mac     **Christmas Parade**

It's a very busy week, but having a plan makes it much easier.  This time next week, all of my pressing duties will be over, and I'll feel like I'm on vacation already!  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Trying to get organized...and the menu...

Thanksgiving was a wonderful holiday....
it had the potential for lots of drama, but things settled down nicely and everyone enjoyed a feast - and the company of the family.

It is a tradition that my mom, my sister and I all go shopping on Black Friday.  Last year, we got up to go with the crazy people that stay out all night and fight to get in the doors first.  We decided we will NOT do that one again.

Instead, we met at 6:00 a.m., had breakfast, and then began our shopping.  We had a marvelous time and did not, thankfully, run into any maniacs.

So I've spent the past couple of days trying to organize the month of December, knowing that it will be very busy.  I've mapped out our calendar with all the events, and tried to plan menus up until we get out of school.  I've also put together an advent/activity calendar for ds#3... to help us all stay focused on the Reason for the Season.

And so, here's what's coming up:
Sunday~ Chicken noodle soup, biscuits (it's raining all day here, so we changed to soup)
Monday~ Beef tips & gravy with mushrooms in the crockpot, green beans, leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving
Tuesday~ Turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole
Wednesday~ Tacos (using this taco seasoning from Heavenly Homemakers) & Quesadillas

And December:
1~ Spaghetti & stuffed peppers
2~ Sausage with peppers & onions
3~ Sticky chicken, hm mac'n'cheese, collards, corn
**set up nativity, put up outside lights**
4~ Nachos (use leftover taco meat from Wed)
**watch "It's A Wonderful Life"**
5~ Breakfast for Dinner
6~ Pasta Fagioli in crockpot
(prepare pasta separately; combine to serve)    
7~ Pepper Steak, rice
8~ Leftovers    **CONCERT NIGHT**
9~ Frozen Pizza
10~ Chili Mac     **Christmas Parade**
11~ Alice Springs Chicken, green beans
**make sugar cookies**
12~ Out to eat :)
13~ Meatballs, with either tomato sauce & noodles, or brown gravy, mashed potatoes & broccoli
14~ Quesadillas (part one of History Fair for Dad)
15~ Out to eat with the fam after ds#3's Christmas play! (part two of History Fair)
16~ Hamburgers & hotdogs....
**campout in the living room**
17~ Turkey rice soup, sandwiches

We'll check the status at that point, and make a plan for the rest of the month.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Game of Your Life

P&G and Walmart have
teamed up to design family movies that ensure everyone wins.
Their latest creation: "Game of Your Life." 

Team up with everyone you know for a chance to win $5,000 for your favorite grade school or high school. All you have to do is register and watch the trailer for "Game of Your Life." It's a humorous and heartfelt video gaming drama about a promising young video game designer who has to make a choice that will affect his future and the lives of everyone around him. Then ask all your friends, family, teachers, fellow parents and PTO members – everyone you know – to watch it so they can vote for your school once a day, too. Because if any one of the people you tell wins, your school wins $5,000.

Zach, a high school gamer who lands a scholarship to an elite video game design program, has a bright future as long as he can survive the intense freshman year project that eliminates half the class in the first three months. But when Zach learns that his father is in financial trouble, he has to make a choice that will affect his future and the lives of everyone around him.This humorous and heartfelt drama is a great reminder to kids – and all of us – that the choices they make impact the people around them. “Game 
of Your Life” airs Friday, December 2nd 8/7c on NBC.

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) 18 or older as of the last day of the month prior to the date of entry. Ends 12/2/11. To enter and for Official Rules, including odds, and prize description, visit  Void where prohibited.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

To Thanksgiving...and beyond!

I'm so thankful to have my family surrounding me at the holidays.

I'm missing my two oldest boys terribly, and looking forward to a holiday when we are ALL here.  This year, the Marine is deployed and the Airman cannot get leave.  So goes life as a military mom.

And still, we must eat! :)

Sunday~ Spaghetti (sauce in the crockpot... how I love that thing!!)
Monday~ Sticky chicken, sweet potatoes, peas
Tuesday~ Chili mac
Wednesday~ Bowling for my guys... so I'll be doing something....
Thursday~ HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!  Turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, swiss beans, mashed potatoes, rice, gravy, and all manner of sweets for dessert.
Friday~ This is our traditional "shop-til-we-drop" day for my mom & sis.  It's probably be leftovers for dinner, or something I throw in the crockpot.
Saturday~ Tacos, or burgers if hubby feels like grilling

And the following week:
Sunday~ Beef tips and gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans
Monday~ Breakfast for Dinner
Tuesday~ Turkey sandwiches and various leftovers
Wednesday~ Bowling night for hubby=simple supper for ds#3 and me

That brings us to DECEMBER.... how life is flying by.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just when you thought it was crazy...

...there's a full moon.
And then it REALLY gets crazy.
Like last week.

We did stick to the menu reasonably well, but it was an insanely busy, crazy, mixed-up week.  One we would not like to repeat.

So this week...
Sunday~ Stuffed peppers
Monday~ Out to dinner for my BIL's b-day
Tuesday~ Breakfast for dinner (some fun ideas are listed here: )
Wednesday~ Fend For Yourself (hubby's bowling night)
Thursday~ Beef tips & gravy with mushrooms and green beans (similar to these: )
Friday~ Some kind of chicken to be determined...
Saturday~ Hubby's History Club Workday, Bowling Tourney.  Out to eat.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November waits for no mom...

There was very limited activity in the kitchen last week.
Friday evening was the first night that we were all at home to eat dinner together, so we had spaghetti.  Saturday, I scored a great deal on some steaks, so we had grilled steak and sauteed mushrooms.  Simple, but very yummy!

This week will be hectic too, but hopefully I've got a better game plan.

Sunday~ BBQ chicken (not grilled - with barbeque sauce), collard greens, mac'n'cheese
Monday~ Dinner in the crockpot: chili
Tuesday~ Fend For Yourself/Leftovers... big county-wide concert for me (ds#3 will come too) and big meeting for hubby
Wednesday~ Leftovers... hubs goes bowling
Thursday~ Soup - maybe French onion (I've got some in the freezer)
Friday~ Veterans Day Holiday: burgers on the grill.  Thank you to all who have served and are currently serving!
Saturday~ TBA

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Out of whack, out of month... trying to get back on the wagon

Well, the end of October is upon us.
I planned a menu for the whole month.
And as I look at the calendar, it did not happen as I planned.
At all.


The plan for this week goes like this:
23 - Beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, swiss beans I actually made this earlier in the month, so Sunday's menu was beef tips with mushrooms, green beans, and rice & gravy
24 - Teacher plan needs to be something with chicken but I haven't figured out what yet... maybe chicken parm that I never made earlier this month
25 - Tomato soup, sandwiches
26 - Sausage w/peppers
27 - My baby boy is 11... his choice! (At this point, all I know is that he wants a homemade birthday cake.... "because ELEVEN is a big deal, you know.")
28 - Family dinner out for birthday
29 - Birthday party food

Sunday, October 16, 2011

October week #3

I ended up not cooking at ALL this week.
Seriously... that never happens.

We savored every moment of the Greek Festival this weekend, and I'm sad to see it go, but happy to have an order form to get some of those goodies in December!!!

The plan for this week:
16 - Beef tenderloin, green beans, perhaps potatoes
17- Spirit Night at Chick-fil-A
18- Mom has late rehearsal - meet my guys for dinner
19- Sweet & Spicy Kielbasa
20- French Onion Soup
21- Chicken with mushroom gravy, egg noodles, green beans hubby has requested no chicken this week, as that is ALL he ate at the conference last weekend... so we'll probably go with leftovers
22- Tacos

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October, week #2

Last week, our plan went reasonably well, with just a few modifications.
This week, hubs is off to a conference, and our local Greek Festival takes place, so ds#3 and I will be enjoying every second of it!!!!
The plan....

9 - Chicken/Eggplant/Meatball Parmigiana  mish mash of pasta & sandwiches
10- Pasta Fagioli
11- Leftovers (hubs has dinner meeting)
12- Leftovers part 2 (bowling night)
13- Leftovers part 3 (Dad's out of town)
14- Local Greek Festival!!!
15- Greek!!!

It's an easy week for me, as we try to use up all the leftovers before Dad goes out of town.  We'll see how it works out....

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Welcome, October!

I love, love, LOVE my crockpot.
Have I mentioned that lately??

This weekend, we had a lovely cold snap that sent night time temps into the 50s, which just happened to correspond with the first weekend of October.  What a nice start!
(It will probably be back up into the 90s later this week, but we'll enjoy the 'fall' that we can get while it's here.)

On to our menu....
Sunday~ Leftover grilled meats from Saturday (chicken, sausage, burgers, hotdogs, steaks....take your pick!)
Monday~ Spaghetti (hubby's request), tossed salad
Tuesday~ Roast in the crockpot, green beans, rice
Wednesday~ Leftovers (hubby has bowling, and ds#3 & I will probably go see the great-grandparents)
Thursday~ Breakfast for Dinner.  YUM!
Friday~ Out to eat at our favorite local Mexican restaurant
Saturday~ Leavin' it open...

I made a rough plan for the rest of the month as well:
9 - Chicken/Eggplant/Meatball Parmigiana
10- Pasta Fagioli
11- Open
12- Leftovers (bowling night)
13- Leftovers part 2 (Dad's out of town)
14- Local Greek Festival!!!
15- Greek!!!
16- Last Day to eat Greek... YUMMMMM!!!!!!
17- Crock pot Pepper Steak, rice, peas
18- Boys out, Mom has late rehearsal
19- Sweet & Spicy Kielbasa
20- French Onion Soup
21- Chicken with mushroom gravy, egg noodles, green beans
22- Tacos
23- Open
24- Beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, swiss beans
25- Tomato soup, sandwiches
26- Sausage w/peppers
27- My baby boy is 11... his choice!
28- Family dinner out for birthday
29- Birthday party food
30- Beef stroganoff, rice, green beans
31- Open

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Last menu for September

We followed last week's plan relatively well...
so here's hoping we're equally successful this week!

(BTW, Saturday, I made burgers & hotdogs, so those will make repeat appearances this week.)

Sunday~ Local seafood festival with extended family to celebrate my dad's birthday. YUM!
Monday~ the Bourbon Chicken that we've been putting off, with fresh green beans that we just picked from our second round in the garden
Tuesday~ Leftover burgers & dogs.  Open House at school.
Wednesday~ Taco soup in the crock pot
Thursday~ Another crockpot meal... (LOVE IT!) Pepper steak, whole wheat egg noodles, green beans
Friday~ Must-goes or out to eat.
Saturday~ TBA

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Two weeks in September...

Last week, I did not post at all...
It was crazy and insane AND a full moon...
And I think that many of my students were howling at it!!!!

So anyway, we did eat last week:

  • leftover chicken, blackeyed peas, collards, corn salad
  • out to dinner as a treat for my family who volunteered to notarize a ton of papers for my students
  • stuffed peppers, eggplant, and pasta
  • pork BBQ sandwiches
  • out to eat (again...)
  • chili

And the plan for this week?
Sunday~ Sticky chicken, orzo pasta, collards, blackeyed peas, corn on the cob
Monday~ School Spirit Night at Chick-fil-A
Tuesday~ Macho Nachos (using leftover chili)
Wednesday~ Sausage with peppers & onions
Thursday~ Open House night.  Out to dinner.
Friday~ Celebrating my dad's birthday with a surprise dinner.  Fried chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, Swiss beans, biscuits, cake & ice cream. YUM!
Saturday~ TBA

Sunday, September 4, 2011

September Menu #1

September has arrived!

We've had our first tropical storm, and we're about halfway through the season.  I hope the second half is as quiet as the first.

Our garden is exploding with blackeyed peas and eggplant.  We've also got bell peppers and collards galore.  I'm so thankful for my husband's green thumb... and desperately in need of some creativity to use all this gorgeous produce.

Here's our plan for the week.  We'll see how well we follow it!

Sunday~ Sausage, hotdogs, hamburgers

Monday~ LABOR DAY holiday!  I'll decide then.

Tuesday~ Beef stroganoff (using leftover eye of round from the freezer), mushrooms, whole wheat egg noodles, tossed salad

Wednesday~ Stuffed peppers, spaghetti, salad

Thursday~ Mom has an evening meeting.  Leftovers or out to eat.

Friday~ Taco salad

Saturday~ BBQ chicken, collards, blackeyed peas, corn on the cob or corn salad

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The last week of August/start of September menu

We never had our Bourbon Chicken last week, and on Saturday I scored some great deals on reduced meat, so we grilled.  We'll be eating some of those throughout the week.

The lunchbox menu worked pretty well too!!

Sunday~ Steaks (from Sat) on the grill, stuffed mushrooms, tossed salad

Monday~ Pork BBQ (from the crock pot), baked beans, mac'n'cheese
  Lunchbox: PB&J, juice, fruit snacks, cheese stick, choc chip cookie

Tuesday~ Omelets (we haven't had them yet either)
  Lunchbox: Lunchable

Wednesday~ Leftover hamburgers, hotdogs & sausages
  Lunchbox: Slim Jim, cheese sticks, milk box, granola bar

Thursday~ Out to eat with a friend at our fave local Mexican restaurant
  Lunchbox: PB&J, cheez-its, juice, choc chip cookie

Friday~ Something easy, but I'm not sure what yet...
  Lunchbox: Lunchable

Saturday~ Out to eat with the fam (it's my birthday!)

Woo Hoo!!!  Labor Day Weekend.... we're going to ENJOY it.
Share your menus at Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

And school begins... and the menu goes on...

It has arrived... Monday, everyone goes back to school!
We followed last week's menu pretty well, except that instead of Bourbon Chicken on Friday, we had spaghetti.  We needed some comfort food. 

So here's hoping the menu this week makes life a little less stressful for everyone. :)
Sun 21st~ Tacos
Mon 22nd~ Spaghetti, cheese crisps, tossed salad  Subbing the Bourbon Chicken in here, with brown rice and green beans (lunchbox: PB&J, cheez-its, brownie, juice)

Tues 23rd~Crockpot Roast, pearl onions, green beans, mashed potatoes (lunchbox: Slim Jim, cheese stick, granola bar, milk)
Wed 24th~ Omelets w/veggies, fruit (lunchbox: Lunchable. Yes, I know.  A mom needs a break sometime, and it's a treat for him)
Thurs 25th~ Stuffed peppers, leftover Spaghetti (lunchbox: PB&J, fruit snacks, granola bar, juice)
Fri 26th~ Frozen pizza, tossed salad (lunchbox: Slim Jim, cheese stick, cheez-its, homemade cookie, milk)
Sat 27th~ Open... after the first week with students back, we may be in hiding... ;)

Lunches for hubs and I will be leftovers or salads.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The end of our summer and August menu #3

We officially return to school this week.
Back to routines.
Goodbye, lazy mornings, and hello, let's get moving!

(Last week's menu was very successful, and the only thing I didn't make was the Watermelon Lime Slushies.  Which I really want to try this week.)

So I've actually planned out the rest of the month.
AND I took the giant leap of writing out breakfast, lunch, and dinner for our return to school.  Which brought some huge revelations to me!

I pack lunch for my son every day.  We tried the school lunch routine when he was in kindergarten, and he did not like anything that was served (or not enough to justify paying for it).  So I pack his lunch.  He really prefers hot lunches, which is fine when we're at home during the summer, but it's pretty challenging when it comes to taking it to school.  We've done cheese & crackers, turkey roll-ups... tried tortillas (with no success), sandwich on buns (again, fail), and salad (mediocre reception at best).

This year, I decided to have a chat with him about packing his lunch.  And he informed me that he would love to have Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches in his lunch!!!!!!!!! 


"I like crunchy peanut butter," he says.
"And what kind of jelly?  Grape?  Strawberry?  Does it matter?" I ask, still stunned.
"Well, I really like grape, but strawberry's okay too as long as it's not lumpy," he replies.
"So you want crunchy peanut butter, and smooth jelly," I confirm.
"Yes, that's it," he acknowledges.

I am so amazed.
He has never let me in on this secret before, and it could have made my life SO MUCH EASIER.
Why is it that they never tell The Mother these things????????????

So with that bit of newfound knowledge, I set to work on the menu.  (This week's lunches will be a variety of out-to-eat with colleagues and catch lunch on our break from work, so I'm not listing those yet.)

Sun 14th~ Sausage, peppers & onions
Mon 15th~ Omelets, bacon, roasted potatoes
Tues 16th~ Leftovers (I have an evening meeting)
Wed 17th~ Crockpot Pepper Steak, brown rice, tossed salad or maybe spinach (I've got some that needs to be used up)
Thurs 18th~ Pork BBQ (already cooked & shredded, in the freezer, ready to reheat and add sauce), homemade mac'n'cheese (with butternut squash puree 'hidden' in there), homemade baked beans, and collards from the garden
Fri 19th~ Crockpot bourbon chicken, green beans from the garden, brown rice
Sat 20th~ Turkey breast (previously cooked, and frozen), mashed potatoes & gravy, green beans

Sun 21st~ Tacos
Mon 22nd~ Spaghetti, cheese crisps, tossed salad (lunchbox: PB&J, cheez-its, brownie, juice)
Tues 23rd~ Crockpot Roast, pearl onions, green beans, mashed potatoes (lunchbox: Slim Jim, cheese stick, granola bar, milk)
Wed 24th~ Omelets w/veggies, fruit (lunchbox: Lunchable.  Yes, I know.  A mom needs a break sometime, and it's a treat for him)
Thurs 25th~ Stuffed peppers, leftover Spaghetti (lunchbox: PB&J, fruit snacks, granola bar, juice)
Fri 26th~ Frozen pizza, tossed salad (lunchbox: Slim Jim, cheese stick, cheez-its, homemade cookie, milk)
Sat 27th~ Open... after the first week with students back, we may be in hiding... ;)

Lunches for hubs and I will be leftovers or salads.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

August Menu #2

First... you should check out this calendar of food celebrations in August.  So fun!
We've had a great time celebrating Ice Cream Sandwich Day, and Rootbeer Float Day, and we look forward to S'mores Day this week!

Next, a quick review of our week:
Tuesday, ds#3 spent the night with a friend, so hubby and I had a chance for a date night.  Which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Wednesday, we had sandwiches at a church supper.
Friday, we were invited to have dinner with friends, so I didn't have to cook at all!
Which brings us to this week!

We are getting back into school-time routines, as hubs & I return to work next week.

Not that we ever truly left it.
We've both been working at school all summer.


The plan:
Sunday~ Bruschetta chicken (I'm using leftover grilled chicken and adding the topping to make it something 'new'), Low-carb linguine, tossed salad, and cheese crisps
Monday~ Roast in the crock pot with gravy, green beans, whole wheat egg noodles, and more salad  Hubs declared he did not want roast so we are having chef salads!
Tuesday~ Hubs has a dinner meeting, so it's leftovers for ds#3 and me Hubs decided to have dinner with us instead of at the meeting (he went later) so we had stuffed peppers and ds#3 had noodles.
Wednesday~ Eggplant parm with the eggplant from the garden. Earlier this summer I attempted freezing cucumbers as this recipe for cucumber salad shows, and we're going to see how successful we are with it.  (We know it's good after marinating for a day, but I'm a little skeptical about thawing...)
Thursday~ Tacos and taco salad
Friday~ Strata (that we did not eat last week), bacon, strawberries, and perhaps trying these watermelon lime slushies
Saturday~ Probably leftovers of some sort.  Or something else.  TBA.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The beauty of a PLAN!

Jessica at Life As Mom is posting on today's Frugal Friday about how to eat at home and save money.

How I have learned that lesson.

And I've learned how important it can be to share the plan.

My husband loves to go out to eat.  It is one of the ways he copes with stress.  This can be tough on the budget.  So I've had to come up with some creative ways to help him feel nourished emotionally and physically in the kitchen, where it's cheaper to relieve stress!!

All of Jessica's tips are right on target, and I've learned the beauty in each one.  This very week, even.

Hubs loves to eat out, especially at lunch time.
And he has a favorite restaurant, where he loves to eat a salad bar.
So.... I intentionally purchased salad items that I don't normally have on hand to satisfy that 'salad bar' craving.  And it cost less than one trip to said salad bar.  One day at lunchtime, hubs was feeling the need to go out.  I told him of my stock-up, and threw together lovingly prepared his salad.  Which was perfect (he had seconds).  Success!

We had two unplanned events come up this week.  Ds#3 spent the night with a friend, leaving hubby & I alone for a rare date night, but I did not want to spend money out.  Then we were invited to some friends' house for dinner.  This means we had a dinner that I needed to make date-worthy, and then a dinner I didn't have to make.  These were fairly easy adjustments, but if I hadn't had a plan, we would end up spending money to go out for the date night (nothing wrong with that at all, just better for our budget right now to stay in), and I would have had to spend money to purchase items to take a dessert to our friends' home.

The plan is flexible, and can be changed, but it provides a framework for success!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

And.... it's August.

We just returned from a short vacation... and it was so much fun.  It's been years since we got away as a family, and it was wonderful.  How could it not be awesome, when we got to see sights like this one???

So we got home on Friday, and Saturday I did some cooking.  I finally made the Eggplant Rollatini, which we'll have this week.  (It looked and smelled yummy!)  I also made a big batch of homemade macaroni and cheese, and pureed some butternut squash from the garden to 'hide' in there.  Ds#3 ate some this weekend, and I froze the rest.  Gotta get those veggies in my boy however I can!

So things may get switched around a little this week, because I know we will have a couple of occasions to get together with friends, but here's the plan:

Sunday~ Beef short ribs in the crockpot, green beans, mac'n'cheese for ds#3, low-carb linguine for hubs.  Zucchini brownies for dessert (we were given the largest zucchini I've ever seen.  Really.)

Monday~ The now infamous Eggplant Rollatini, tossed salad

Tuesday~ Chicken breasts in mushroom gravy, whole wheat egg noodles, green beans, corn on the cob.  (It's National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, so that's my plan for a special dessert!!)

Wednesday~ Chef's salads

Thursday~ Cookout with friends!!!  Burgers, chicken, sausage, perhaps baked beans, coleslaw, deviled eggs, etc, etc...

Friday~ Strata, bacon, perhaps some diced potatoes, and watermelon or canteloupe (both were given to us, and we'll polish off whatever's left of them!)

Saturday~ Probably leftovers. We'll make it interesting with National Rootbeer Float Day! (I am having fun finding out about these wacky food holidays.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The last July Menu

It's the end of July, and that signals so many things.
First, we are going on a mini-vacation this week, so that is a good thing.
Next, the end of July means that August is almost here.  That means summer is almost over for us. (That is not a good thing.)
And we didn't follow the menu plan very well this week.  Par for the course!

I'm giving up on the Eggplant Rollatini for now.  I've made an oven-baked version of Eggplant Parm this week that has been super yummy - it's not layered with cheese or doused with sauce; it's kind of deconstructed.  I made the eggplant, and it's covered in panko, which means it's super crispy which I love.  I've got homemade tomato sauce to dip it in, so I can eat it like an appetizer, or layer it with cheese and sauce it for a heavier dish.  Yummmmmm.

I made several jalapeno poppers for hubby this week - enough for him to snack on for a few days, and some for the freezer! (I slice mine in half to make them easier to manage.)

We did have the Pesto Chicken and it was yummy.  I used the leftovers mixed with pasta and some Laughing Cow cheese for lunch.  I loved the smell of basil in the kitchen.

This week will be a short week as far as the kitchen goes, because we'll be out of town for a few days...  seeing old friends, taking in a baseball game, and going to the LEGO store!!

So here's our plan this week:
Sunday~ Leftovers: turkey, butternut squash casserole (which was VERY yummy), watermelon.
Monday~ out to dinner to celebrate my grandpa's birthday.
Tuesday~ Some feat of leftover wizardry to use up all the perishables before we go.
Wednesday - Friday~ no cooking for Mom ;)
Saturday~ back to our routine, probably lunch with friends, and an easy crockpot dinner involving some kind of chicken (because that's what we have the most of!)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

July Menu #3

We switched things around this week.... again... but that's okay.
I thawed the turkey and roasted it on Friday, so instead of having the Eggplant Rollatini on Saturday, we had turkey.  We've also got butternut squash in our garden, so I picked a couple and made a butternut squash casserole kind of like this one, and I put a streusel topping on it (brown sugar, pecans, etc...yummmm.).

So this week:
Sunday~ Leftover turkey, butternut squash, collards (cucumbers for me)
Monday~ I may attempt the Rollatini tonight, with optional pasta for non-adventuresome types.
Tuesday~ Pesto chicken (I will make pesto from the abundance of basil in our garden), tomato mozzarella melts (which we did not have last week), and Garden Delight noodles that I love from Ronzoni (they help me get veggies into my child when he resists them in their natural form!!)
Wednesday~ Layered taco dip, quesadillas
Thursday~ BLT wraps
Friday~ Burgers (preferably on the grill, if hubby feels like it; if it's too hot outside, I'll just cook them on the stove), mini ears of corn on the cob
Saturday~ Omelets, bacon

I'm finding that lunchtime is a trouble spot for in order to prevent a trip out to lunch every day, I'm concocting a plan.  Sandwiches are a no-go, since hubs is limiting carbs, so I've got to be a little more creative!  Here are my thoughts, and I'd love to read yours...
  • Salads (topped with tomatoes, cukes, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and various lunchmeats)
  • Leftovers (which works on an extremely limited scale)
  • Meatballs with various combinations (tomato sauce, peppers & onions, perhaps pasta)
So we'll see how this works.  If we do each option twice, that puts us in good shape.  Lunch for ds & me is much easier since I can include pasta and wraps (chicken nuggets are always a fave!), so we'll see how this works for my man.

Get some menu inspiration at Menu Plan Monday!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July Menu #2

Last week, I planned out a menu for the whole month.  And so far, we've only switched around a couple of things, sticking fairly close to the plan. :)

Last week, we had everything on the plan, except I swapped chicken bbq for pork, and I didn't thaw the turkey... so on Saturday, I pulled up sausage with peppers & onions from later in the month, and we had that instead.  Which meant that I also had to improvise for Sunday's menu....

So here's the plan for this week:
Sunday~ Chicken taco soup (used leftover chicken from Alice Springs Chicken which was not covered in cheese & mushrooms)
Monday~ Seven layer southwestern salad with taco-seasoned meat from the freezer
Tuesday~ Hot dogs on the grill, nachos, jalapeno poppers, and Cracker Jack in honor of the MLB All-Star game!
Wednesday~ Hoping I can sneak some leftovers in here... or maybe I'll roast the turkey in the freezer...  hubby informed me that we are going out to eat with a friend...
Thursday~ Roast in the crockpot, green beans, baked potato for ds#3, cucumber salad, and perhaps tomato mozzarella melts
Friday~ Leftover roast, etc.
Saturday~ Thinking I might try this Eggplant Rollatini recipe as we've got tons of eggplant ripening in the garden, almost anything with sausage pleases my hubby, and I've got homemade tomato sauce that needs using.  And ds#3 can have pasta if he's not feeling brave. :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

July Menu #1

Oh how I loved having all my boys home... we had a great time.
And I cooked... a lot.
And they ate... a lot.
And there were no leftovers.

I had forgotten how they can devour a table full of food.

This week, we're back to 'normal', and here's our plan.

Sunday~ Burritos and tacos, with homemade taco seasoning from Heavenly Homemakers, lettuce, homemade salsa, cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.

Monday~ Happy Independence Day, USA! We are planning an all-day outing, visiting a Library of Congress exhibit and our city's annual 4th of July celebration, followed by fireworks (my favorite part!!). We will eat as we go, just enjoying the day.

Tuesday~ Back at home, we'll have cheese omelets with all the veggies from our garden, and bacon or sausage for the guys.  We'll also have strawberries or watermelon, depending on what's left!

Wednesday~ Alice Springs Chicken in the crock pot, green beans, and sliced tomatoes, both from our garden.

Thursday~ Pulled chicken BBQ, collard greens, coleslaw, homemade mac'n'cheese

Friday~ Flatbread pizza

Saturday~ Sliced turkey & gravy, collard greens, sliced tomatoes, Swiss beans

Monday, June 27, 2011

The my-boys-are-all-home!!! menu

Well, for a few days, I'll be blissfully cooking for a houseful of boys, listening to them wrestle with each other, playing baseball/football in the backyard, delighting in all kinds of 'boy' things.

Marine son got here on Thursday, and Airman son didn't arrive until Sunday, but that was fine!!!  I swear I think my Airman has grown since I last saw him (he is just returning from deployment, so it's been a while).

Our menu was kind of topsy-turvy but we managed just fine.

Here's the plan for this week:

Sunday~ family cookout. Burgers, dogs, sausages on the grill, cucumber salad, potato salad (courtesy of my mom), homemade salsa w/chips, homemade roasted tomato dip w/pita chips, and s'mores for dessert (yummmmmmmmm!).

Monday~ busy day for everyone.  We'll come home for steaks on the grill, mashed potatoes, fried okra (my big boys' fave), and salad.

Tuesday~ Airman leaves this evening.  Boys are planning a fishing trip, and if all goes well, we will have fish.  If not... we'll have leftovers!

Wednesday~ Marine son's last evening at home.  Whatever he requests is what we'll eat.

Thursday~ back to just the three of us... perhaps some simpler fare is in order.  I'm thinking flatbread pizzas will be good, with a caprese salad.  Our tomatoes are gorgeous, basil's in full production, and I scored some fresh mozzarella that I'm dying to eat!

Friday~ Perhaps dinner with my dad.  We have an annual tradition for Father's Day that my sis & I go out to dinner with him, and we had to put that off this year, so we're scheduled for our raincheck this weekend!

Saturday~ TBA.... I love summer!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's still June...we still have a garden...and a menu...

I continue to be amazed at the amount of produce that is coming from our garden.  Son #3 has actually asked if he could start selling tomatoes... there are so many of them!

I found a recipe for freezing cucumbers that has proven to be a hit.  I've roasted and frozen so many tomatoes that I'm sure we'll have enough for the whole winter!  I've made several variations on jalapeno poppers and frozen 'empties' for later.  We've made delicious salsa too.

So I'm doing my best to include as much of our bounty as I can.  I'd love it if beef went on sale soon, because with hubby's eating plan, we gotta have protein.

Sunday~ HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!  Hubby has requested a dinner at home of spaghetti and meatballs.  We will also have the cucumbers I mentioned above.  No bread, so I'll probably make some cheese crisps.

Monday~ Leftover roast (from last week), green beans and new potatoes from the garden, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Tuesday~ Homemade salsa and chips, tacos using this seasoning from Heavenly Homemakers

Wednesday~ Hubby and I will be home alone (I know - GASP!) so we may have a date night.  Out or in has yet to be decided.

Thursday~ DS#3 comes back home with Marine Son, and Airman Son will descend too.  YEA!  I'm planning to roast a turkey from the freezer, and have collards, sliced tomatoes, corn on the cob, and Swiss beans to go with it.

Friday~ I'll have a rehearsal, but we'll grill when I get home: burgers, dogs, sausages, and maybe some of our various veggies.

Saturday~ My dad & sis are involved in a local musical that we'll see, so I'm leaving things open.

Find menu inspiration at Menu Plan Monday.