Monday, March 30, 2009
In an effort to keep it real, I should admit that this week's meal plan was filled with problems. I plan Friday-Thursday, so we've already lived through the first few days of the plan. I had a meal of hash planned, with no potatoes in the house. The cabbage I had planned to make slaw out of? A bit past its prime. Little stuff, but the kind that makes you scratch your head and wonder how you got off your game this week. Hopefully, the last 4 days of the plan will go a little smoother.
Friday: oven roasted pork butt, barbecue sauce, baked beans (from The Tightwad Gazette--these were excellent), slaw (or, um, sauteed cabbage)
Saturday: baked potatoes topped with pork/barbecue sauce (lunch); taco soup (supper)
Sunday: enchiladas (lunch); hash (which became tacos--LOL)--supper
Monday: chilaquiles topped with pork, refried black beans
Tuesday: grits and grillades
Wednesday: pork chops, buttered orzo, black bean and corn salad
Thursday: meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, crowder peas, greens (probably the last of the chard from the freezer)
To see what other people have planned for this week, check out orgjunkie's ever popular Menu Plan Monday.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
It's $5 Bargain Meal time. Erin over at $5Dinners does a fabulous job posting meals every single night that come in right around $5 for 4 people. Her blog is such an inspiration to me. I've always loved a good deal and always been excited by new frugal ideas, but this year, those skills have really become even more necessary. We're a one income home, and my sweet husband works in building materials. Um, yeah. That's all I need to say.
This year, we've really experimented with getting our grocery budget as low as possible while still eating well. And, many, many bloggers around the internet have been a big part of keeping me encouraged, letting me know that I'm not alone, and giving me great ideas. There are many that post in the Bargain Meals feature of $5 dinners. Y'all rock!
This week's meal is simple. Grilled chicken thighs, rice, and lima beans. The chicken recipe comes from my "go-to" cookbook from our newlywed days, The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. We've never had a bad meal from it.
Grilled Jalapeno Chicken
chicken--here we'll use chicken thighs--on sale $0.99/lb--8 thighs--$2
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (2 limes)--$0.50
3 jalapeno peppers, sliced--$0.30
3 cloves garlic, chopped--$0.20
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup honey--$0.50
2 tablespoons soy sace--$0.13
Marinate chicken for 1-8 hours. Drain the chicken, then grill until it registers 165 degrees.
For side dishes:
Lima beans--frozen--on sale 10/$10--$1
Friday, March 27, 2009
But, this week is better. The baby started sleeping through. The toddler seems to have had a better week. And mama is much, much, much less tired.
This week, we're having Barq's root beer and homemade pizza bites for happy hour treats. I've also got some slow oven-roasted pork going that smells insane. And, I made 3 different barbecue sauces to try with the pork.
I'm definitely got that whole "the way to a man's heart is through barbecue" thing going on tonight. And, finished before naptime is over. On a roll, man.
Two years ago, when I first became a full time homemaker, my mom gave me this little tiny book that she had picked up somewhere along the way. Knowing her, it came from a thrift store somewhere, and, knowing her, it had a great story to go with it.
It was this wonderful collection of short articles that very much spoke to where I was and what I was becoming. I had no idea exactly what I was becoming, and I wasn't sure how to get there. I really, really had no idea how I'd change and grow in just the first two years of this journey called motherhood, but this book gave me a bit of a glimpse of those changes. And a little encouragement that there were many, many women out there walking along a similar path.
And, now, there is a great blog contest to win a scholarship to their conference. Read more about it here. This conference is one of those places that gives encouragement to women that are learning and growing and doing the stuff of Jesus. I've been feeling the tug towards a little bit of leadership in my corner of the world, and this conference is just what I need to push me towards listening to that still, small voice.
Not to mention getting to hear the Nester speak.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The absolute, without a doubt, favorite meal in our house is tacos. And, we're not picky. Absolutely anything can be made into a taco. Leftovers, fish sticks, ground beef, just beans. You name it, I can taco it. Some kids will eat anything called a chicken nugget. Mine will eat anything called a "taco." Makes it easy.
I buy two brands of tortillas, El Milagro for corn, and Ole for flour. They are our favorites, and it's one of the few brand specific items I buy. But, buy whatever you like. If you can't get fresh tortillas where you live, Publix has Taco Bell ones on sale this week, as well. But, if you can get fresher tortillas, by all means, you should buy them!
Today's meal is... TACOS! To make them really easy, serve a roast early in the week, then reheat the leftover meat in a skillet for the tacos. Just like with the main component, we're very flexible with the toppings on our tacos. Sometimes, we have tacos with cilantro, onion, and a squeeze of lime only (like at the roadside taco trucks). Other times, we have the full "old El Paso" style--cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato, salsa, and sour cream. Just depends on what is on sale and what hits my fancy that day.
12 corn tortillas--1 pound (roughly 30 tortillas)/$1.39--$0.56
meat--use 1/2 pound chuck roast--on sale $2.69/lb--$1.35
Beans--use dried to make these--1 pound--$1
Cilantro--use 1/2 bunch--$0.40
Lime wedges--1-2 limes--$0.50
Hot sauce--something like Valentina is our favorite--$0.25
For us, this will feed 4 adults with some beans left over. As I said, my child adores refried beans, so that's always a good thing, and he'll eat them for lunch the rest of the week (unless Daddy finishes them for a midnight snack).
Monday, March 23, 2009
Time for the weekly stretching of my brain as I figure out a $5 meal from the sales flyer at Kroger. My hats off to Erin at $5 dinners (who has a cool new blog design!) for coming up with $5 dinners every night of the week. Erin, you inspire me every week!
This week, Kroger has pork tenderloin on sale. This is a cut of meat that we dearly love, but it is generally a little pricey for my budget. However, I sometimes make this fabulous recipe that uses only 3/4 pound for 4 people. Hooray! This would also be a great thing to take for a covered dish.
1/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds--$.50
3/4 pound pork tenderloin --on sale $2.99/lb--$2.25
1 (1.25-oz.) envelope picadillo seasoning--use cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt instead--pennies
1/2 medium-size sweet onion, chopped--on sale $0.69/lb--$0.25
1 small red bell pepper, chopped--use frozen--$0.25
1 tablespoon olive oil--use vegetable oil--on sale $1.99/48 oz--$0.02
1/2 cup golden raisins --$0.25
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice--use bottled lemon juice--$0.09
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro--$0.79/bunch--$0.20
1/4 cup light sour cream --on sale $1/16 oz--$0.25
1/2 teaspoon pepper--pennies
1 (11-oz.) can refrigerated French bread dough--on sale 4/$4--$1
1 large egg, lightly beaten--$0.15
Vegetable cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)
Truth be told, I'd probably also serve a vegetable alongside this. So, broccoli--on sale $1.49/lb--$0.75
I love to meal plan. I love to sit down with a blank sheet, think about the week, and decide what to make. It's similar to buying seeds, you know? So many options, so much promise out there. The world is your oyster.
Or at least that is what I tell myself while I'm meal planning.
Friday: beefed up Chinese burritos
Saturday: rice and bean burritos (lunch), gumbo, potato salad (supper)
Sunday: take-out (lunch), very veggie lentil chili , salad(supper)
Monday: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, cabbage, salad
Tuesday: spinach/bacon/swiss quiche, honeydew melon, muffins, salad
Wednesday: chicken and rice casserole, carrots, salad
Thursday: grilled brats, roasted sweet potatoes
Friday: oven roasted pork butt
As always, orgjunkie has tons and tons and tons of folks with ideas of their own. You can always find something new to inspire your own blank piece of paper.
Friday, March 20, 2009
So, we were definitely in a quandry. Until I remembered an old episode of The Barefood Contessa that featured this recipe.
It starts with caramelized onions.
And, it ends up in this bowl of heaven.
So much better than the dried stuff in the package. Worlds better. Definitely worth repeating. And a silver lining to being so silly that I wouldn't drive to the store in the rain.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
This week, Publix has both tuna and cherry tomatoes on sale. This dish from Rachael Ray includes both. It calls for basil, which is the icing on the cake, of course. However, this time of year, I don't include basil. Buying herbs in the store will push you far beyond a $5 dinner budget.
Herbs are incredibly easy to grow. This is the time of year to start them. Even I can grow herbs! And, I can't grow anything (my husband is the gardener in our family). So, dig out some of those pots from your garage, travel down to your local nursery, and find some herbs to grow! Your suppers will thank you this summer. (Plus...it's incredibly cost effective to grow your own herbs. Justify planting by thinking of how few herbs you could buy in the store for the same price) . Even people with no space for a garden can grow a few herbs. It's very rewarding to pick something you grew yourself for the supper table. Try it this year!
Off the rabbit trail and back to the tuna and tomatoes.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil--use EVOO if you have it--if not, canola on sale $2.99/64 oz--$0.08
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped--$0.25
2 (6-ounce) cans Italian tuna in olive oil, drained--on sale 4 cans/$3.75--$1.86
1/2 pint small cherry or grape tomatoes, coarsely chopped--use the whole pint--on sale--$1.25
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 pound gemelli pasta--approx $1
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped, about 3 handfuls--if you grow it, great--if not, dried--$0.25
20 leaves fresh basil leaves, shredded--again, if you grow it, great--if not, leave it out
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Last week, I read a post by Christy over at Southern Plate about her St. Patty's Day lunches. And, I had to steal, er, borrow her idea. Too cool. Only thing is... the person I pack lunches for is 36, not 6. Lucky for me, he's well versed in my crazy ideas, and I'm betting that he'll have a big smile on his face when he opens his lunch today. Happy St. Patrick's Day, honey!
Monday, March 16, 2009
We eat a lot of chicken at my house. It's not even my favorite. It just happens that way. My favorite cut of chicken is boneless thighs, but they are rarely on sale (such a shame!), and so, most often, we make do with bone-in chicken breasts. They aren't bad for not being my favorite. Not only do I end up with meat for whatever meal I am serving, but the bones and skin turn into broth for all sorts of stuff. A lagniappe, if you will. And everyone loves lagniappe.
This week's bargain meal makes use of those bone-in breasts for chicken and dressing. There are those rare folks out there that don't like dressing (hello Bryan!), but for the majority of the world, getting to having dressing on a non-Thanksgiving regular ole' Monday night is quite the treat. Yum! Dressing is also really economical for us. Not only is the broth free, but I always save (in the freezer) that last piece of cornbread until I have enough for dressing. So, the cornbread is essentially free, too.
For this meal, I mix roasted chicken in with the dressing. Sometimes, I make the dressing plain, and I serve roasted chicken on the side. You end up eating more chicken when it's on the side, but both ways are equally good.
Cornbread (I make using self rising cornmeal, egg, milk, and oil)--$0.58
eggs(2)--on sale $1.19/dozen--$0.20
chicken--on sale $0.99/lb--$0.99
gravy--made with chicken broth, flour, and fat from roasting chicken--$0.10
cabbage--on sale $0.37/lb--$0.50
Not only is $5 Dinners where you'll find all the latest and greatest bargain meal ideas, but this week, Erin is hosting Menu Plan Monday. So much to read! So little time to do it! Check it out! Right now! Go! Go! Go!
My Monday got away from me! My husband stayed home from work, and that always seems to throw a wrench into anything, you know?
As always, for more inspiration, orgjunkie's Menu Plan Monday is the place to find lots and lots of inspiration for your own menu plan. This week, MPM is on vacation over at $5 Dinners. Same song, different tune. Still fun to browse everyone's great ideas.
Breakfasts: cheese toast
eggs. bacon, toast (Saturday)
migas tacos (Sunday)
vegetable soup (Sunday)
Friday: chicken sushi, rubber chicken drink, buffalo chicken fingers, celery
Saturday: burritos with leftover venison pot roast and crispy potatoes
Monday: chicken and dressing, salad
Tuesday: fish tacos (with cabbage), pistachio pudding for dessert--St. Patrick's Day dinner
Wednesday: chicken lo mein
Thursday: chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, salad, broccoli
Friday, March 13, 2009
We're having chicken.
Not just any chicken. Chicken three ways.
And boneless buffalo wings.
Plus a fun drink called a rubber chicken (limeade plus ginger ale...no idea why it's called a rubber chicken; it's amazing what google can find for you).
Even if it's just chicken, it's still Friday.
And I can't wait.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
We don't eat that many packaged meals at my house. It started with my picky husband. Well, he's not that picky. But, he hates Hamburger Helper. He groans at the thought of those yellow rice in a tube dealies (one of my staples pre-marriage). He complains, he fusses. You've been there. *wink*
So, I started cooking differently when we got married. More from scratch, less from a box. And, then, I started to like it. And, now, when I see the prices for packaged foods, I gasp. LOL. So, like so many parts of our marriage, we've grown together, and we've become more of one, liking the same things.
SeaPak frozen seafood. I love the stuff. Mike tolerates it, which is good enough for me, because it's so.darn.easy. This is really great stuff. Easy, easy, easy. And tasty, too. We enjoy the crab cakes (these are the best thing they make--even Mikey likes them), the salmon, the tilapia, the shrimp scampi (try it over grits for easy shrimp and grits), and these fabulous crispy light shrimp (light in the way it feels on your tongue, not in the way it lands on your hips). And, oh, my mama says that the salmon burgers are good, but my local store doesn't carry them.
So, this week's bargain meal is a very easy one. Popcorn shrimp, cocktail sauce, and slaw.
SeaPak frozen popcorn shrimp (one package easily serves 4)--on sale--$3.80
cabbage--on sale $0.19/lb--$0.50
This meal is also good with biscuits and/or baked potatoes. If you use one of the coupons on the Sea Pak website , you'll be able to add those in without going over the $5 limit.
And for more fabulous bargain meals, ripped right out of your grocery store's sales flyer, check out $5 Dinners, and the great collection of bloggers and ideas.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Having a Korean market near a huge Latino population makes for really interesting food finds. Like this Fresca made with sugar from El Salvador.
If you take this little boy (who has an great sense of style, by the way) to Sonic Saturday night for ice cream after pajamas are on and a little brother is in bed, then that little boy will talk about that adventure all.week.long. And he won't care a whit that the darn Bruster's wouldn't honor their "free ice cream if you wear pajamas" promotion or that you cheaped out and only bought him the Sonic $1 ice cream. Cause it's not about all the things that grown ups find important.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Friday: sliced salami, cheese, crackers/sparkling cranberry lemonade/Alice Springs chicken, baked potatoes, salad
Saturday: tomato corn soup, cornbread (lunch)/tacos (supper)
Sunday: out to Steak and Shake (lunch)/loaded baked potatoes (supper)
Monday: chicken curry over rice with baby bok choy, radishes, celery, carrots, onions, tomatoes, and peas
Tuesday: venison pot roast, mashed potatoes, lima beans, salad
Wednesday: the Golden Bowl (from last week...didn't get to it), salad
Thursday: sausage cornbread, salad (this is one of our family's favorite, and it might be the last time of the season....my oven heats up the house horribly, so we have very few oven meals all summer long)
For more fabulous menu ideas, check out everyone's plans over at orgjunkie!
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Do you love gumbo at your house? We love the stuff. I almost always serve it with rice, but my mom recently admitted that she likes it with potato salad. Huh? Evidently, a local Louisiana restaurant (that is no more) used to serve it like that, and she likes it. This intrigues me enough that I'm considering trying it. Soon. But not today. I'll let you know if I muster up the courage.
I don't really use a recipe for my gumbo. It is one of those "by feel" meals. But, oh so good on a rainy day. I love okra in mine, and my sweet husband loves file, so I compromise and make it file every other time. I most often make sausage and chicken cause, well, cause it's cheap. Just bein' honest.
1/2 pound sausage--on sale 1 lb/$2.50--$1.25
1/2 pound chicken--boneless breasts on sale 1 lb/$1.99--$1
frozen seasoning blend--on sale 10/$10-$1
1/2 cup oil--$0.20
1/2 cup flour--$0.05
okra--on sale 10/$10--$1
1 cup white rice (I'm not brave enough for potatoes yet)--$0.30
Friday, March 6, 2009
My sweet husband took today off from work to repair our deck (the railing had some massive falling-apart-ness going on). It looks wonderful, and I can't wait to sit out there with him tonight.
We're having a platter of genoa salami and pepper jack cheese (free from Publix with a sweet coupon!), plus crackers and olives, as an appetizer. Then, we'll have Alice Springs chicken (inspired by Outback, of course), big baked potatoes (from a great sale at Kroger), and salad. The special drink of the evening is inspired by spring--just a simple sparkling cranberry lemonade.
Fridays are good days around here. I hope that they are fun at your house, too.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
This week, I checked out Cheap, Fast, Good! by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross from the library (what a great place!). I had read it before, but I find something new every time I reread a cookbook. This time, I discovered Chicken and Broccoli Lo Mein. I'm not a huge Chinese food fan, but my dear husband is, so I'm always trying to find something that sounds good to me. (this is why finding a good Chinese restaurant is a big deal) This one looks like something we'll both enjoy.
8 ounces linguine--$1
2/3 pound skinless, boneless chicken--on sale $1.99/lb--$1.31
1 cup fresh button mushrooms--on sale $2.50/12 oz--$1.66
1 tablespoon vegetable oil--$0.03
1 large onion--$0.25
1 bag frozen broccoli pieces--on sale 50% off--approx $1
3 cloves garlic--$0.15
2 teaspoons minced ginger--$0.15
3 tablespoons soy sauce--$0.20
1 tablespoon white vinegar--$0.01
1 tablespoon ketchup--$0.03
1 teaspoon sesame oil--$0.15
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
It's time for the Bargain Meal of the Week. I love all the ideas found over at $5 Dinners. Great ideas, great women, and you should check it out!
This week, Kroger has the makings for one of my favorites on sale. Pasta Carbonara. It may have become one of my "too often" favorites lately, because the last time it was served, I got some flak from the peanut gallery about me "really liking this dish, huh?" Well, yeah! It's really good. Try it. You'll see. You'll be getting flak from your own peanut gallery soon enough.
1lb linguine pasta--$1
4 eggs--on sale $1.28/dozen--$0.43
1 pound bacon or pancetta--on sale buy one, get one free--approx. $2
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese--on sale $1.88/8 ounces--$1.50
8-12 cloves of garlic--$0.25
1 large onion--$0.25
1 cup chicken stock--free
1 cup white wine (or substitute another cup of stock)--free for stock
1/2 stick of butter--on sale $2/pound--$0.25
1 handful of parsley (I use dried this time of year)--$0.10
1-2 tablespoons black pepper--pennies
Total cost (if not using wine)--$5.78
I have a Trader Joes nearby, and I often buy their wine for $2.49. Doing so enables me to add wine to lots of dishes for great flavor without a lot of cost. The cost for wine ends up being around 83 cents per cup. Worth it in many dishes, with this carbonara being no exception. If you are going to be near a Trader Joes, pop in for some two buck chuck. Totally worth it.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Thursday: tater tot casserole, salad (I've never had this before, but it just randomly sounded good. We'll see)
Check out all the menu plans at orgjunkie.com every Monday! There is always something that sounds good for next week's plan.
And, sometimes.... Well, sometimes, it's about turning the lights down low (to hide the dust), bribing your toddler into going to bed by letting him sleep with a sippy cup of chocolate milk, grabbing some frozen food from the back of the freezer, and just loving being with a great guy.
It's all good.
Never one to do today what could wait until tomorrow, I've been putting off my mantel all week. Seriously. On Sunday nights, I sit down with my little notebook, and I write out all the things I want to get accomplished that week.
Don't get excited.
Included on this list are such high and mighty goals as vacuum and wash clothes. Ya'll. It's stuff that absolutely has to get done.
But, I usually include one or two extras. The stuff that makes it nicer to live in your house. This week, I was inspired by The Nester to tackle one of those spots that just wasn't making me love my house. The mantle.
So, in true to Betsy form, I completed this task on Sunday afternoon. Just in time to cross it off the list. The list that's been hanging around for 7 days.
Ah, in school, I used to say that I worked better under pressure. We'll just call the threat of the mantle going to next week's list all the pressure I needed.