Sunday, March 28, 2010

One Month Shopping Challenge - Week 2

Well, this second week of my month of no shopping went ok, unfortunately I did end up having to shop. It was brought to my attention that we were in desperate need of cat litter. Turns out the two plastic totes in the garage I thought were full, instead were very empty. My job is just to buy the stuff - the deal has always been I don't feed or clean up after any animal in the house. Four kids is enough for me to deal with in those regards. I knew I wasn't going to get through the entire month without shopping at all, especially since milk doesn't last very long around here. I also had some coupons for free stuff I didn't want to expire so I just combined it all into one trip. After 20 minutes at the checkout at Target, and talking to three different employees explaining the difference between one coupon per purchase verses one per transaction, I finally made it out with $60 worth of goods for $25.10 and a $5 Target gift card. Not too bad considering that is the only money I have spent in the past two weeks. I haven't even had to put gas in my car - I love that little Versa! So here it is - my menu for the past week.

Was my daughters birthday - ate out. This was planned from the get go.

Chicken Cacciatore with Whole Wheat Linguine
Mixed Greens Salad
Rocky Road Brownies

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Shrimp Vegetable Rice Medley

Buttered Pasta with Parmesan Cheese
Mixed Veggies

Garlic Smashed Taters
Green Beans Almondine
Rocky Road Brownies (My daughter requested them again because she had a friend over for dinner.)

Poached Salmon or Tilapia (I let everybody pick their favorite.)
Potato Galette
Left over Green Beans Almondine
Pizza Cookie

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Buttered Pasta - Kids Choice

There was a time when my kids didn't get much say at all in what we had for dinner, but I have gotten older, tireder, and sometimes I just don't want to decide. So it happened tonight that thee kids and I were standing in the pantry staring at food. My first thought when someone blurted out, "Buttered pasta with Parmesan cheese," was, "No, that's a side dish." Then I reached out a grabbed a box of Barilla Plus Elbows and read the nutrition label. A 2oz serving (1/7 of a 14.5 oz box) has 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. I had no idea the protein was that high. So paired with mixed veggies on the side, tonight we had another quick and easy dinner. Lucky me!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shrimp Veggie Rice Medley

So part of reason for this one month challenge from shopping is to use up some food stuff that has been hanging around. Although I do like frozen veggies, I don't ever recall buying them with sauce on them until the Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers came out, and the only reason I did buy them is because they were super cheap with a coupon. So there they sat and sat in my freezer. Well as it happens there were only three of us for dinner tonight, and therefore I put off what to make until the last minute. I was going to go with leftovers, but to my surprise there aren't any! They have actually been listening and taking them for lunch, and not eating out - yay!! So here is what I came up.

14oz Bag cooked shrimp
12oz bag Valley Fresh Steamers Buttery Rice and Vegetables
12oz bag Valley Fresh steamers Basil Vegetable Medley

I cooked the bags for half of the recommended time in the microwave. While they were going I got the shrimp started in a covered skillet. I just dumped them in on med high heat and covered until they were thawed and just starting to warm. Finally I combined everything in the skillet and cooked until heated through. This would be a great dish for someone living in a dorm because the whole thing could be done in the microwave. The kids liked it fine, but I probably wouldn't purchase these items specifically to make this dish again. At least not without some great coupons! ;-) Oh, and FYI each serving came out to only about 275 calories.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

One Month Shopping Challenge - Week 1

Last Sunday I decided to challenge myself to not shop (except for necessities like milk, etc.) for one month because...well..Okay I'll admit it - I shop too much and a deal isn't a deal if you just can't use it. I have too much food in this house and it's time to clean it out and start all over. After a week of this I am beginning to think I could make it two or more months quite easily. Which really is a good thing with the threat of an inevitable zombie attack always looming on the horizon. My goal isn't to wipe out my stockpile completely, but to A. alter my shopping habits, B. get back to cooking 99% of our meals, and C. use up some of the stuff that has been sitting around a while.

Let me interject here a few of my feeling regarding breakfast, lunch and snacks. Except for my youngest, it's every man/woman for him/her self. I make dinner leftovers intentionally for lunches, and I (starting again this week)am making muffins a few times a week for breakfast and snacks. My muffins are made with oatmeal, wholewheat, wheatgerm and other healthy stuff like that. If cold cereal is eaten for breakfast during a school day it has to be high in fiber and low in sugar. Sugar cereals are for treats, and weekends. I also keep fresh fruit, veggies and garden salads on hand to round out meals and for snacks.

Although I have stopped doing my own reclaimed food pantry my friend still does hers, God bless her. Two years and a completely worn out minivan was enough for us. Because she sometimes has a surplus, and because my family will eat fruits, veggies, and whole grain breads that a lot of folks don't seem to care for, we are fortunate to be able to supplement our food budget with these items. So if you notice during the last few weeks I list salads and fresh fruits in my menu you'll know how that is possible.

I'd also like to point out a few other observations from this first week. I had two friends approach me with fundraiser stuff their kids were selling. I usually (but not always) would buy something even though I didn't want it, need it, and it's horribly overpriced. But because I have a specific goal it was easier for me to say thanks, but no thanks - I'm not buying anything this month. I have also found something else to divert my attention to - spring cleaning and organizing my house. It's a win win situation this month!

Week One Menu

Spaghetti with Italian Sausage and Meatballs
Garden Salad and Italian Bread

Beans and Rice
Sliced Kiwi
2 dozen Banana, Oatmeal, Pecan, Choc Chip Muffins

Baked Ziti with leftover Meatballs and Spaghetti Sauce
Mixed Greens Salad
Fresh Cantaloupe and Pineapple

Crockpot Pork Tenderloin with Apples, Onion, and Cabbage
Salt Potatoes
Mixed Greens Salad
2 dozen Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Ham Steaks
Mixed Veggies
Instant Mashed Potatoes
For some crazy reason my kids love this TV dinner like meal.

15 Bean Cajun Soup
Cheddar Drop Biscuits
Pizza Cookie (Used a package of sugar cookie mix instead of cake mix)

Big Fat Loaded Grilled Cheeseburgers on Italian Bread
Cole Slaw
Tater Tots (I love them!)
Peanut Butter Bars

Exceptions to the plan - Monday it dawned on me that Easter was in the middle of my shop free month. Although I have already purchased the kiddie type stuff, we are having company for dinner that day. We have decided to try and stick to the plan as much as possible and forgo the traditional ham dinner for BBQ short ribs and chicken, but there are still a few things I will need to pickup. Combined with things like milk and eggs we will need, I have set a limit of $50 for the month, but will still try and keep it as low as possible. Also, my daughter's birthday is tomorrow and we will be going out for dinner - this was planned weeks ago.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monogram Plaque

I am finally getting around to making some of the projects I have bookmarked from Dollar Store Crafts. This Monogram Plaque from Southern Hospitality was quick and easy, and I enjoyed making it. As usual for me, I didn't follow the directions to the T, but I am very happy with the end result. By time I got around to picking up the supplies the Dollar Tree didn't have a wooden "A" left, so I ended up buying what I needed at Jo-Anns. Since they were having a coupon commotion sale, I got the wooden plaque, initial, and scrapbook paper for for a little over 3 dollars. I also picked up the easel, regular price $8.99, on clearance for $1.97 - Yay!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Scalloped Chicken

This is a good way to use up left over turkey or chicken, and stuffing or dressing. If you don't usually have a lot of leftover meat at any given meal, just keep a zippy bag in the freezer and add to it here and there.

2 cups cubed cooked chicken or turkey
1 can cream of mushroom soup
4 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces American Or Velveeta cheese
1 box Stove Top Stuffing or about 3 cups leftover stuffing/dressing

Prepare stuffing according to package directions. In a separate pan heat cream of mushroom soup, cream cheese, and American or Velveeta cheese, stirring constantly, until cheese is completely melted. In an 8x8, 9x9, or 2 quart casserole dish, layer chicken or turkey, then cover with melted ingredients, and lastly top with stuffing. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes or until bubbly and stuffing starts to brown. This dish can easily be doubled and cooked in a 9 x 13 size baking dish. I always do!