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Menu for January 8th - 14th & a new goal

January 7th, 2012 at 07:16 am

I know that menu planning helps me stay within my food budget and eat better so I'm returning to that and am going to work hard to take it seriously. It might seem silly for a household of 1 but it is what it is and I need to take whatever actions necessary to keep the food budget under control and still eat nutritious meals.

Since my very recent epiphany that I love to cook but don't necessarily love to eat after I've cooked, I've decided to concentrate on cooking very small amounts of food and not preparing a new dish unless I have no leftovers or the ones I have are planned for in another meal. Over the last year or so my skill (to me it really IS a skill to cook for one and not a horde or even just two if that's what one is accustomed to) in those has improved but as evidenced by the containers in my fridge I'm not yet proficient and improving that area of my kitchen life has become a goal for 2012.

Breakfast today was the last of the mexican stew (I think I hear a choir of angels singing in the background!) and I get the feeling fried cabbage and onions might be in my future for this evening!

The rest of the week I'll have, in no particular order:

Stir fried chicken and vegetables with a small amount of brown rice (had this tonight)

Pan fried tilapia with 1/2 a baked sweet potato and salad

Large salad with chicken, tomato and plenty of cheese

Pan fried sliced turkey ham with baked cabbage, 1/2 a baked sweet potato, and green beans (had this)

Vegetable soup with homemade noodles

Tuna patties with salad and spinach

Whatever leftovers are in the fridge (had this)

Now, I think it's okay to change the plan a little. You know, I'm not in the mood for spinach so I have green beans with my tuna or I'm not in the mood for tuna so I have boiled eggs but I've decided it's not okay for me to decide I don't want tuna and prepare a five course meal including cornish game hen and scallops. Wink There's nothing wrong with a meal like that but I need to plan for it. I think that's a fairly reasonable request - does it seem so to you???

Saturday evening edit - I decided to have the stir fried chicken and vegetables tonight and succeeded in preparing just enough for one meal. I did make a little bit extra brown rice but it will get eaten tomorrow morning.

I paid close attention to how much of each ingredient I used to ensure I wasn't preparing too much and it worked well. I used one boneless skinless chicken breast, 1/3 of a yellow squash, 1/3 of a zucchini, a very small amount of chopped onion and chopped red bell pepper and a few baby carrots. That seemed to be the right amount of those ingredients for one good sized meal. I'll have to remember that because it seems to me that slightly smaller quantities with liquid and spices would be right for soup.

Menu plan for December 11th - December 17th

December 12th, 2011 at 04:49 am

Hopefully putting my menu plan here will help me remember to follow it! It worked before and surely it can work again.

I don't break the meals down by day since I know I might not want this dish or that one on any given day. I just have a rough idea of what's in the fridge and I prepare what sounds good to me at that time and if there are leftovers and I work the next day, they go with me.

Last night I had the Saucy Chicken with asparagus. The leftovers will go to work with me today. I also have packed a low carb breakfast sandwich just in case I get hungry around 10 AM, low carb pudding and an avocado, half a lime and some homemade pico de gallo. On one break I'll have the pudding and on the other, I'll mash the avocado and mix it with the lime and pico. Voila, guacamole on the fly. I don't need chips with it - a spoon will do. Smile

Thursday I'll be at Mom's house most of the day and will probably have eggs and turkey bacon for dinner.

The rest of the week I'll have:

Broiled portobello mushroom, bacon, and cheese "burger" with 1/2 a small sweet potato or a green vegetable of some kind

Asparagus and bacon roll ups with a salad

Alice Springs Chicken - http://www.genaw.com/lowcarb/alice_springs_chicken.html, green beans, and salad

Leftover Alice Springs Chicken and mukimame salad

Southwestern Chicken and Corn chowder - http://www.bitchincamero.com/2011/04/southwestern-chicken-corn-chowder/ with adaptations made so that it's lower in carbs

And that's it for this week's menu. Hopefully this will help me stay on track with the budget and encourage me to eat the healthy food I need and not junk.

Chicken thighs and motivation - a strange sort of process

December 11th, 2011 at 10:29 am

I'm stressing a little because it's December 11th and I have no financial goals in mind for the coming year. Or the month. Or even the week! I feel so stuck right now as far as finances go and I really need to get motivated.

This might sound odd but two ways I find motivation are making my menu plan for the week and cooking. Yeah, I said making a menu plan and cooking. Both of those activities remind me that I need to use what I have on hand. And that leads to a reminder that I don't need to go to the grocery store for things I don't have on hand. And that leads to a reminder that I don't need to go out and willy nilly spend, though I really don't do that, anyway. And that leads to a reminder that I need to find ways to cut back on this or that to help me save more. And that, eventually, leads me to coming up with ways to do that. Voila, I'm motivated. Wink It's a strange sort of process but it generally works for me.

In light of that, I'm about to work on this week's menu and I'm pondering just what to do with the chicken thighs in my fridge.

So tell me - how do YOU get and stay motivated to stay on track and save?

Drats! I keep forgetting my menu for the week

January 5th, 2010 at 01:26 pm

but here is this week's menu, late.

Sunday night we had Farmhouse Beef Casserole with steamed green beans. It was my first time making this casserole and it was good but I'll make changes next time.

Monday night we had lima beans with the lower carb cornbread I made. It was good and there are leftovers for lunches.

Tonight we're having Turkey Italian sausage and baked cabbage. The man person might have some of the limas with his.

The rest of the week we're having, in no particular order:

Cheese and spinach crustless quiche served with green salad and crispy steamed carrots

Vegetable chicken soup, made with the meat from two chicken legs and quite a few vegetables lingering in the fridge, served with low carb biscuits and butter

Spicy baked chicken served with green salad and stuffed mushrooms

Poor Man's Steak, leftover baked cabbage, and 1/2 a small baked potato each

And that's it for this week - thrifty but tasty and hearty.

Oh, and I only worked 5 hours today but I ran off this morning and forgot my snack so I ended up using $1.50 of my gift card. Other than that, though, no spending so far.

Brrr! Bad weather coming - what's your favorite cold weather food?

January 3rd, 2010 at 08:37 pm

Some bad (for this area) weather is being predicted for later this week. Apparently we're going to have lows between 15 and 20 for a couple of days and the chance of light snow Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Brrr! I don't like that at all, especially when I'm trying to keep the thermostat set at 70! If I could just get the man person to wear his thermals we might be able to save a little on heating.

Weather like what is coming means comfort food is necessary so tonight when I made our menu for the week to post on my cooking blog I figured in some things like stuffed mushrooms and baked cabbage. Both are things that are so very good when the weather is very cold. And they're easy and not expensive at all.

What's your favorite cold weather food and do you have a recipe for it? I'm looking for some new things to try and it would be great if y'all would share with me!

December 27th - January 2nd menu

December 28th, 2009 at 12:26 pm

I worked until 6:30 last night so it was a YOYO (You're On Your Own) night. The man person had a sandwich made with some of the barbecued chicken I prepared yesterday and I had some Dreamfields pasta cooked in beef broth with a little stewed tomato and garlic. It wasn't exciting but it was cheap, hot and filling while watching the Cowboys game!

Tonight we're having garlic baked salmon with salad and steamed carrots.

On New Year's Day we'll have black eyed peas, cabbage and fish of some sort for lunch.

The rest of the week we'll have, in no particular order:

Roast beef slow cooked with sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions, served with tossed salad

Open face roast beef sandwiches (made with leftover roast beef) and green beans

Vegetable beef soup using the last of the cooked roast and vegetables

Sticky Chicken cooked with fresh green beans and served with salad

Homemade chicken pot pie (using Carbquick to make the crust), salad, and steamed spinach

And that's it for this week, tasty, nutritious, and thrifty food!

Happy eating!

Major plan muck ups and a better late than never menu

December 24th, 2009 at 03:36 pm

It's Thursday and it's been sleeting a little and now it's snowing. It isn't a heavy snow and it probably won't stay too long since the ground is too warm but we're under a winter weather advisory until tomorrow morning, anyway.

Unfortunately, this weather put a crimp in my plans. My sons are in Dallas but they have to head back to Austin tonight or in the morning and I had planned to go see them but by the time I left work the meteorological nastiness had started. I can't drive in unfamiliar territory in the dark and a trip to Dallas in this was just too scary for me so I decided not to go. I'm afraid my sons are miffed at me now and I understand why but as much as I love them and want to see them, it's just too risky to head out in bad weather for a 2.5 hour drive. So, I'm going to take a week off in January, I hope, and take Amtrak to Austin and spend that time with them. I hope they don't stay mad too long. I hate when that happens!

So, it's Thursday and I'm just now getting around to posting this but oh, well!

Sunday we had baked cod with spinach and salad.

Monday we had Swiss Steak with mashed cauliflower and green beans.

Tuesday we had homemade chili I'd prepared in the slow cooker. It was exceptionally tasty with a couple of crackers and there was plenty left to have for lunch the next day.

Wednesday night we had

Text is Jewish Chicken and Link is http://plainolfood.blogspot.com/2008/10/freezer-food-friday-quick-comfort-for.html
Jewish Chicken with steamed broccoli and wild rice. No self respecting Jew would eat it, I think, not an Orthodox one, anyway, and I didn't name it. But oh man, is it good!

Thursday night's fare is YOYO, You're On Your Own. We have some leftover Jewish Chicken and a nice selection of deli meats and cheeses so finding something won't be hard.

Hopefully I'll be with my family in Dallas Friday, weather permitting. If so, there will be turkey, dressing, green beans, desserts and most of the traditional fare. Yum! And if things pan out the way I hope they do, I'll bring home plenty of leftovers and we'll have those over the weekend.

I'll post next week's menu on Sunday, provided I don't forget. Wink

Happy eating!

December 13th - 19th menu

December 14th, 2009 at 07:20 am

Last night the man person had some of the leftover baked chicken while he watched the Cowboys game (not sure how he managed to eat while watching a game that sounds so ugly but oh well) and I had some when I got in later.

Tonight we'll have Chicken and Dressing with tossed salad. I'll have brussels sprouts with mine and the man person will more than likely eat a lot of salad.

The rest of the week we'll have, in no particular order because I like to leave things somewhat open:

Baked cod with salad and garlic green beans

Swiss steak with riced cauliflower and snow peas and steamed spinach

Grilled Chicken Alfredo Bake (frozen dinner bought on sale, intended to be one serving but we'll split it) with spinach caprese salad and almond green beans

Cheesy Turkey Meatloaf with buttered red potatoes and steamed cabbage

Breakfast taquitos with cucumber tomato salad

And there you have it, this week's thrifty but nutritious menu!

Happy eating to all. Smile

December 11th & 12th eats with awesome meatball recipe

December 11th, 2009 at 07:40 am

I love menu planning. It saves me a lot of time, money, and stress and its something I've done for years. I share my menus in a couple of Yahoo cooking groups and sometimes put them here, too, because they're definitely finance related.

Knowing what we have on hand and what I can make with it all keeps us from spending money on eating out and eliminates excessive grocery shopping trips and with the cost of food now, keeping those trips down to a minimum can save a lot!

I normally sit down on Sunday and plan the week's dinners so this entry will have meals for tonight and tomorrow night only and Sunday I'll post a new entry for the coming week.

You won't see a lot of inexpensive, high carb meals from beans and rice because we're both diabetic and try to keep the carbs down to a dull roar. The man person also has coronary heart disease so we keep fat under control, too. It aint easy eating lower fat and lower carb! What you will see is fairly balanced meals made with quality ingredients, all purchased at my price.

So, on to the food!

Tonight we're having barbecued skinless chicken breasts with green beans and buttered red potatoes. Rather than using barbecue sauce which normally contains a lot of sugar I prefer a little Memphis style Barbecue Spice which contains no sugar. It's great on cauliflower, too, specially when the cauliflower is slow roasted. Mmm!

Some of the leftover chicken will be chopped and used for chicken salad, one of the man person's favorites for a quick lunch or snack. The rest will be used in Vegetable Chicken Soup, one of my favorites. I usually have a pot of it in the fridge and it's great for cold nights.

Tomorrow night we'll have Breakfast Meatballs with tossed salad and spinach. These meatballs are great anytime, not just at breakfast, they're very portable for a meal on the go, and they freeze very well. Honestly, these are my second all time favorite meatball with Swedish Meatballs just barely coming in first.

Breakfast Meatballs - original recipe with my lower fat adaptations noted

This is a somewhat blurry picture of my breakfast meatballs laden mini-bento box. Yummy lunch!

1 pound turkey sausage (I use homemade)
1 pound lean ground beef (I use buffalo)
2 eggs (I use egg beaters)
3 Tablespoons onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
3 to 5 ounces cheese, grated (I like cheddar, swiss, and a little asiago)
salt, pepper, garlic, and other spices to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Roll mixture into bite sized balls and bake until done, 15 to 20 minutes.

To freeze: after baking put meatballs in the fridge to cool then put a few in a freezer bag or plastic container, label with the date and contents, and freeze.

When ready to use, just heat meatballs in a 350 oven for about 25 minutes or microwave them on high for about 4 minutes.

So there you have it - two of our upcoming meals with more to come on Sunday. Enjoy!

Frugal eating

May 20th, 2008 at 10:53 am

Since this week's check will be about half of normal (since I was out of town for 4 of last week's work days) we're eating from the pantry as much as we can.

The man person had a lunch of creole chicken and rice leftover from last night. I just had steak and gravy pulled from the freezer and some steamed green beans and a small salad. Tonight, DH will finish off that steak and gravy, probably putting it on bread, and I'll have green beans, a few slices of apple, and some swiss cheese for my dinner at work.

I just dug through the freezer and found some barbecued beef roast from two weeks ago and cooked, chopped chicken from three weeks ago so I'll thaw those and use them this week.

Tomorrow night we'll have thinly sliced roast with green beans and a salad. Thursday we'll have the chicken with pasta and alfredo sauce with carrots and spinach. Friday night we'll have more of the leftover roast, probably rolled into low carb tortillas with fresh vegetables, and Saturday we'll have 'everything but the kitchen sink' salads to use any remaining leftovers. Sunday we'll have a roasted chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes and any leftover chicken will be used in the coming week's meals.

That takes care of this week and we have more stuff in the freezer for future meals. There are distinct advantages to cooking more than needed and cooking ahead. I love being able to provide DH with a good meal even when I'm at work and it's good to take a decent meal to eat rather than just a sandwich. And it really saves on eating out expenses! We've spent very little at restaurants lately and having a freezer stocked with cooked food is one of the reasons for that.

Do you like to cook ahead? If so, about how long does something sit in the freezer before its eaten?

Thanks and this week's dinners

January 27th, 2008 at 07:00 am

Thanks for the comments and email replies to my work woes entry. This work situation has me all messed up. I ranted to my husband about it and he listened and is happy to but there's a limit to how much he will tolerate and I don't want to push that limit. When I went to bed, I laid there for awhile stressing over all this, going over drinks in my head, thinking about how I could have handled things better.

I'm not one to handle pressure well which is one reason I work retail and not some other field. Yes, there's pressure in retail but if you're a peon (and not management), it's generally seasonal and short lived and not too intense. I won't go into management. Been there, done that, and it's not worth the stress for me.

I've decided that if I don't learn this stuff quickly and get some relief from the pressure I feel I won't continue with the java joint.

So, on to more positive things!

Today we're having chicken cooked with onions, broccoli, and little green peas and will have nice leafy salads with it. The leftover chicken will be used throughout the week. So the rest of our meals this week, in no particular order, are:

Creamed chicken over toast or whole wheat noodles with green beans and carrots

Slow cooker meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and spinach (leftover meat loaf will be frozen for later use)

Barley and vegetable soup made in the slow cooker (Yaaaay, a meatless meal)

Barbecued shredded beef on whole wheat muffins with tossed salad and green beans

Chicken noodle medley with tossed salad and spinach (Yaaaay, an almost meatless meal! lol)

Hamburger steaks with mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans

There might be a night in there where things change but that's the plan...

That poor little chicken!

January 25th, 2008 at 09:31 am

I just used the last of the chicken I cooked on the 19th. It gave us three meals for two people and three more meals for one person and I finally finished it off making today's lunch for two;chicken dressing and gravy with green beans. Yum! So that one little chicken provided eleven meals, total. Hmm, that comes to about .11 per meal, right?

Wow, that was one thrifty and rubbery chicken!

Thrifty Ideas, Part 3

January 20th, 2008 at 10:35 am

On January 6th I posted Part 2, then got busy doing other stuff and forgot to post Part 3! So here it is, Part 3 of my thrifty ideas!

If you have stores around you that double or triple coupons, combine the coupons with the sales for a really good bargain. I don't know how it's done everywhere else but in our area the sales on the items in this Sunday's paper won't happen for a couple of weeks. So just clip the coupons, organize them so that you can get to them easily, and watch the sale papers. Our stores double coupons occasionally and never triple them so I don't get a large savings using them like many people do. Also, most of the coupons I find aren't for things we eat. But it can't hurt to keep an eye on the coupons and sales and try to bring them together for more savings.

It doesn't matter how cheap something is;if you won't eat it, don't buy it! It isn't a bargain at any price if it sits in the cupboard or freezer and doesn't get used. So forego that on sale container of rice milk if you won't drink it. Get the regular stuff and enjoy it. Wink

Spend an extra $5 a week (or every two weeks if that's what you can handle or $10 a week if you can handle that!) to build up your pantry with loss leaders and sale items. If you use a lot of mustard and it goes on sale for .33 a jar, wouldn't it be smart to buy 10 jars of it? Sure it would if you will go through that much before it expires! If you go through 8 a year, that's over a year's worth! Just check those expiration dates. If there aren't any good loss leaders or sales that week and you don't spend your $5 put it somewhere safe. You might find a great deal later and need it!

Pay attention to the unit price of items (the ones on shelf labels are often incorrect) and make sure you have somewhere to store a large quantity of an item if you're thinking of buying it. A 25 lb bag of flour is usually, though not always, cheaper than five 5 lbs bags. But if you have nowhere to put the flour and it sits out and goes rancid, that wasn't a deal at all. This works for sugar, oats, and other staples. Remember, though, that a lot of things can easily be stored under beds, in closets, in corners, etc. By the way, it's a good practice to put flour, sugar, corn meal, and oats in the freezer for a few days to kill any bugs or larvae that might be present.

Milk can be frozen so if it goes on sale at a good price buy all you can afford and for which you have room. Most people open the container, remove about a cup then put the lid back on and freeze the container. I've never done that and have never had a milk tragedy in the freezer but if you're concerned about expansion, try that.

Cheese can be frozen (I have about 20 bags of shredded cheese, bought at $.50 a bag in my freezer right now) but it gets somewhat crumbly so I use it for salads, casseroles, etc.

Large packages of meat are often a few pennies less per pound than their smaller counterparts and can be broken down into 1 lb packages and repackaged for your freezer.

Check your stored foods periodically and rotate the items. We rotate every 6 months, eating the oldest items and leaving the next oldest (now oldest since the real oldest got eaten) in the front with the newest in the back. All the years working in retail have taught me something. Wink

More to come!

Midnight musings...

January 18th, 2008 at 10:46 pm

It's actually after midnight but I figure "Midnight musings" sounds better than "12:34 AM thoughts"...

Anyway, I'm listening to archived Dave Ramsey shows, reading news stories about the President's proposed stimulus package, and eating a bean burrito. I need to get to bed soon but can't sleep. Fortunately I don't have to be at work until 4 PM so I should be able to sneak in a nap or two.

After hearing the commercials on Dave's show, I checked out
Text is e-Mealz and Link is http://www.e-mealz.com/index.shtml
e-Mealz. It seems like a pretty good deal at $1.25 a week so I looked at some of the sample menus. I was particularly interested in the low carb menus but was disappointed that they featured quite a few items we don't eat and they don't seem to have a menu plan for kosher diets. We don't eat rabinically kosher but it's very close to our diet. Not that I am seriously considering signing up for e-Mealz but I know a few people who might really benefit from it. I already do what e-Mealz says they do but I don't spend hours on it like the commercial mentions. It takes me 10 to 20 minutes to create a frugal but healthy menu plan for two weeks and I think we do pretty well feeding two adults for $30 to $45 a week with some weeks coming in well under the $30.

Speaking of frugal food, it's the time of year when we normally begin garden planning but we haven't considered it yet because we don't know where we'll be when it's time to plant. We might be in an apartment and only have a few pots in which to plant but it's possible we'll find an affordable lot somewhere and be able to put in a full sized garden. I'm praying for the latter.

Tomorrow before I go to work I'm cooking a whole chicken. It will feed us dinner tomorrow night and several meals through the week, including my lunches at work. Yaaay for stretching chickens! We'll also eat some meatless meals which means more money will be added to the challenge!

Okay, I'm off to bed now. I'm finally tired and it's about 1 AM.