Sunday, August 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Creamy Pasta and Spinach made meatless and with Vegan White Sauce instead of Cream Cheese

Tuesday: Lentil Burritos with Onions, Peppers, and Zucchini

Wednesday: Homemade Pizza with Peppers, Garlic, Onions, and Kalamata Olives

Thursday: Spanish Rice and Beans

Friday: Turkey Kielbasa with Fried Potatoes and Onions

Saturday: out to dinner with in-laws

Sunday: Pancakes, Turkey Sausage, and Fruit for Breakfast

Grilled Chicken with Mustard Tarragon Sauce, Corn on the Cob, Late Summer Vegetable Medley

Breakfast: Homemade Granola, Nectarines

Lunches: Hummus, Whiskey Cheddar Cheese and Triscuit Crackers, Leftover Spanish Rice and Beans, Carrots, Bananas or Blueberries

Snacks: Pumpkin Spice Bread with Pureed Pumpkin from the small pie pumpkin the farm sent us

Hundreds more menu plans here!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday: Fried Corn (LOTS of corn and peppers from the farm this week), Gazpacho

Monday: Zucchini Burgers, Sweet Corn

Tuesday: Tuscan Baked Eggs

Wednesday: Homemade Pizza with Green Peppers and Onions

Thursday: Quesadillas with Cheese and Onions

Friday: Pasta with Garlic and Tomatoes

Saturday: Tomato Pie

Hundreds more menu plans here!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Food Blog Lovin': Mushroom and White Bean Stew

We tried this recipe for Mushroom and White Bean Stew from Kalyn's Kitchen a couple weeks ago. It took very little time to whip up on the stove top. We had a bag of quinoa we needed to use up, so we ate it atop quinoa. It was quite good! We topped ours with a little bit of parmesan. The quinoa was leftover from my SIL, so it was free to us, and everything else was probably about $3. Simple and frugal!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weekly Shopping Trips

Kroger Trip: $48. Pre-made baby foods were $10. My costs will probably increase over the short term as we do trials of food.

Health food store: $42 plus $6 for lecithin. The lecithin is to make my own cooking spray (part of my yearly pledge to reduce waste- if any of you local folks want to share ours, let me know, we have quite a bit). My husband went, so I had less control over cost. He picked up an $11 maple syrup and $4 of snap peas that were not on my list :(.

Sam's Club and 2nd Health Food Store trip: Earth's Best baby food on sale at health food store means 10 jars for $4.49. Sam's trip was $50 out of pocket after gift card. We seem to be spending a little more since moving towards a more whole foods, organic, made from scratch diet, and since having our daughter. Formula costs are still $69 a month for the Earth's Best formula. I'm hoping once we've hit our stride, and I figure out what, if anything, our daughter is allergic to other than dairy, our costs will decrease again.

I renewed my Sam's Club membership today (the one I won from Stockpiling Moms last year) and got a $20 gift card back for renewing in person at the store. We bought our Halloween chips for $30. The best prices for individual bags of chips are at Sam's. Since our son's allergy means he can't eat the candy passed out at Halloween, we pass out chips instead, and let him nibble from bags all night.

Sam's Club, as I learned last year, does not save as much money as couponing or cooking from scratch most of the time. There are certain, things, however, that make it worth the membership. My husband plays sports all weekend and every Thursday, and drinks Gatorade throughout. I discovered today we can buy a huge container of the powdered formulation for $10, which makes 36 quarts. Usually, I can only on occasion get Gatorade for free in individual servings. The powdered form also produces less waste.

I got a giant container of peanuts for less than $7, and 2 pounds of yeast for $4.50. Usually I spent that much on the jar of yeast at the grocery store. Because I make two or more loaves of bread a week, this makes it very worthwhile. The huge container of brown sugar was $4.50 as well, or 4.5 cents per ounce. Since I started making my own snacks and granola, we are going through more of this quickly.

Other good finds there I would recommend: Bulk flours, sugars, and rice.

I saw a lot of people walking out of there with cases of bottled water (you could pay for your own reverse osmosis water filtration system at home within a year or two after chucking the bottled water habit, as most systems are under $500 installed.) Also, lots of toilet paper, paper towels, pop, and snacks. All I have gotten for substantially less via subscribe and save deals or couponing.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Saturday: It's so nice out, I am changing gears to make Zucchini Burgers (with ground sirloin), Grilled Corn on the Cob, and Watermelon

Sunday: Our zucchini from the farm is the size of a small baseball bat, so I'm making Ratatouille Wanna-Be to use it and the summer squash up- maybe on a bed on quinoa?

Monday: Huevos Rancheros- using those fresh mild chile peppers and tomatoes, corn on the cob

Tuesday: Whole Wheat Pasta with Tomatoes, Garlic, and Parmesan, Spicy Butternut Squash

Wednesday: Massage therapy night: Mexican Pile-On with Black Beans, Cilantro and Lime Rice, Fresh Tomatoes, Red Onions, Sour Cream, and Cheese

Thursday: Falafel with Tomato and Cucumbers

Friday: dinner at Rue Dumaine with friends

Saturday:Homemade Pizza with Onions and Peppers

Sunday: TBD

My lunches: Santa Fe Rice and Beans, fresh carrots and cucumbers

My breakfast: Fresh nectarine and homemade granola- no milk necessary!

The kid's lunches (he always gets an extra fruit and veg from day care): PB & J on homemade wheat bread, soy yogurt and fresh blueberries and blackberries, organic apple juice (we reuse some old 4 oz Medela breast milk bottles to send it!), homemade cinnamon apples, maybe homemade granola bars with chocolate chips

Hundreds more menu plans here!

Homemade Granola

Just like the homemade yogurt, I swear the homemade granola is super easy.

Store-bought granola has a few pitfalls: it doesn't taste quite the same as fresh; it's pretty expensive, especially when my husband can devour an entire box in one sitting ($4.50 a box with about 4 cupful servings); and there can be hidden dairy, like most processed foods. Not a good thing when your child has a serious allergy!

I started with this recipe at Lynn's Recipe Adventures. I wanted something that didn't have too many ingredients, not too much dried fruit (adds more calories, expense, and we're just not fans), and a cinnamon flavor. her recipe is nut-free, but we have no nut allergies, so I added whole almonds, crushed walnuts, and some sunflower seeds. I added a dash of nutmeg to the spices, and I also used canola for my oil. I'm not a huge coconut fan, so no shredded coconut either.

I baked mine for 12 minutes, and didn't let it sit in the oven. I put it immediately into a canister for storage, and it still was plenty crunchy.

I've made this three times now, and we all love it. I eat mine every morning at work with only a sliced nectarine- no milk or yogurt. We get 7 full servings out of this that last all week. I'd say the cost of 7 servings is $3.50 using organic rolled oats and $2.50 using store brand rolled oats.

It only takes me 5 minutes to prep the liquids on the stove and 12 minutes to bake. Totally worth the effort!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Weekly Grocery Trip

Kroger trip: $40. It's hard to believe how much beverages take a chunk out of my grocery budget. I know you can make your own soy and almond milk at home, but the cost is higher. One of the almond milks was free thanks to a coupon from my friend Diane. My CSA box of fruit and veg will be $21 a week.

My frugal fail for the week: A shopping trip to Kohl's that cost me $200. My excuse: I just gave away all of my maternity clothes, and had to replace a work wardrobe that was still 50% maternity clothes. Half of that cost was for 2 pairs of pants- the only pairs of pants- that I could find that correctly fit my body. After 6 different stores in one afternoon, I gave in. Apparently the cost of self-confidence is around $100.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Marinated Chickpeas, Feta, and Herbs

Tuesday: Caprese Panini on Homemade Rosemary Focaccia

Wednesday: Lentil Burritos with Onion, Summer Squash, and Bell Peppers

Thursday: Mushroom, White Bean, and Tomato Stew over Quinoa, fresh greens if the CSA Box comes with them

Friday: 7-Grain Pancakes, Turkey Sausage, and Fresh Melon

Saturday: Falafel with Cucumbers and Tomatoes, Corn on the Cob

Sunday: hunt and peck

Day Care Treat: Chocolate Cake made with Pureed Beetroots (I cooked the fresh beets in the microwave and will decrease the sugar to 2/3 cup and use egg whites and applesauce), Baked Apples (I decrease the sugar to 1/4 cup)

My Work Lunches/Breakfasts: My Own Homemade Granola and Homemade Yogurt with Honey, Fresh Nectarines, Gingerbread a la The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook (I have lots of homemade dairy yogurt to use up, so snack for me alone!), Hummus (pairing with box of free Kashi Pita Crackers), fresh watermelon, fresh carrots

Hundreds more menu plans here!

Fresh From The Farm

We have a local farm called Fulton Farms, that is the only one in the area to do delivery of fresh organic produce. I stumbled across this a few weeks ago, and signed up immediately. I get a half bushel- or 10-15 pounds of fruit and veg- fresh-picked that day and delivered to my doorstep between 4-9 PM. It costs $21 a week, and you pay a month up front. I paid a deposit of $100 as well, that counts as my last month's delivery. You have the option of locally grown only (that is the option I chose), locally grown with extra organic produce from a supplier, and customized service.

I thought it would be a good idea to learn what truly is in season, and help support a local farm, to choose the Local-only Basket.

There are many Community Supported Agriculture farms in the US that offer similar programs.You can click the link to search near you.

Our Happy Box

Our produce came packed in a box, with only two small wooden containers that will be cleaned and reused. If cutting down on plastic waste is important to you as well, know that the box and crates for your produce will be reused for the season.

It did require unpacking, sorting, and cleaning. Since it is picked that day, you will have to wash off the dirt. This week, we got beets and beet greens, onions, garlic, tomatoes, summer squash, carrots (purple and yellow ones too!), bell peppers (green and purple!), sweet corn (very sweet and very good), pickling cucumbers, squash, basil, purslane.

I've never had beets, so this will be a new experience. I've had one suggestion for Beet Chocolate Cake and there's a Beet Salad recipe I may try.

Supposedly, there will be melons next week!

The seasonality of the produce and not knowing what we'll get will add a new bit of challenge to my menu-planning. I get my box on Wednesday, so my menus may change a bit mid-week.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Weekly Grocery Trips

Health food store trip: $45. Pumpkin seeds are expensive! I did discover that their bulk rolled organic oats and other grains are at a decent price- comparable to the grocery store and organic to boot.

I was disappointed in the organic peaches I bought at quite a price because the conventional ones are part of the Dirty Dozen. They had a mildewy taste to them and I had to send them to an early grave in the compost bin.

Kroger trip: $65- though about $20 of that is from fish oil and vitamin D supplements I found at half price. Bought some jarred baby food for our 4-day trials, and if baby girl does not react, I will get started on making homemade purees to freeze. I don't want to go through an ordeal to make them and find out she can't have them after all!

Since I spent more than I wanted this week, I'll have to keep it tight this coming week's trip- I'm hoping to stay at $30-40, since we started home delivery from an organic farm this week, at $20 a week. From now until January, when delivery stops, we'll have to keep the shopping trip total at $50.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Pasta with Ragu and Fresh Tomato (meal cost $0.25!)

Tuesday: Roasted Asparagus and Steamed Egg Over Easy

Wednesday: Parmesan Polenta, Black Bean Patties, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips, and Turnips

Thursday: massage night- Homemade Pizza with Mushrooms and Onions

Friday: Balsamic Chicken Wraps, Roasted Green Beans
Saturday: Red Lentils, Brown Rice, Sliced Amish Tomatoes and Cucumbers with pepper and sea salt,

Sunday: hunt and peck

Still making Yogurt in the slow cooker, homemade granola, homemade hummus for lunches

Hundreds more menu plans here!