Category Archives: Soups

Weekly Eating – 11/5/18

 Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

 

Oh man, the weekend at the cabin was glorious! Since it was later in the fall than when we went last year, the colors were absolutely breathtaking.

fall colors at the cabin

It is just the best feeling to know there is nothing you have to do right now, just relax and enjoy. It was a great group of people too, which helps. Everyone just kind of comes and goes and does what they want to do. Sometimes you play games, sometimes you read, we went for a lot of walks, kayak and canoe trips.

fall colors at the cabin

We also went apple picking in a town nearby! I thought apples didn’t grow in NC very well, but I guess by being up in the mountains the weather and terrain make it possible. So we had a really fun day, and picked over 30 pounds of apples. They will go home with each of us to become snacks, pies, and sauce.

apple picking

And of course there was no shortage of food. Everyone brought at least one meal to share, and everyone also brought snacks. I think a few spoonfuls of broccoli and a pinch of lettuce were the only vegetables consumed all weekend haha

cabin food

But that’s ok, life is all about balance. When you’re hanging out with friends, on a once a year trip, if your diet is 90% meat, beans, and cheese, I think we will survive.

cabin food

The dogs were definitely interested in the pumpkin chili…

I miss it already. Can I go back yet?

Monday:

Breakfast – Pumpkin bread with cream cheese icing! Spoilers, this was breakfast all week  🙂

pumpkin bread with cream cheese icing

Lunch – Pumpkin Risotto! Exactly the same as the Butternut Squash Risotto, I just used pumpkin puree I’d done in the instant pot.

pumpkin risotto

Dinner –Loaded nachos with sweet potato and black bean southwest bowl. Just put a can black beans, 1 can pinto, 2 large diced sweet potatoes, 1/2 lb beef, and 1 can tomatoes in the instant pot. Cook for 15 minutes, done. Topped w plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 avocado, and cheddar.

loaded nachos

Tuesday:

Breakfast – attempted to make oatmeal stuffed apples in the instant pot. They ended up way overcooked, and turned to mush… so no new recipe for you guys sorry.

oatmeal stuffed apples

Lunch – Leftover buffet! Leftover buffets are an amazing way to clear out the fridge, and keep from wasting food.  We usually do so once a week or so, on the weekends. Just pull everything out, and let everyone pick and choose what to put on their plate.

leftovers buffet

I had eggplant and okra curry with brown rice.

eggplant and okra curry

Snack – tea time! I found the Stroopwaffels I bought a while ago, and decided now was the time to try persimmons for the first time. I had a cup of green tea with a Fuyu persimmon & Stroopwaffel and it was awesome. If you’ve never had a persimmon, do yourself a favor and get one now!

tea time persimmon and stroopwaffel

Dinner – Quinoa, free range organic chicken breast, local green beans and cherry tomatoes, peppers, and corn cut off the cob.

chicken quinoa casserole

Wednesday:

Breakfast – pumpkin bread, what?!

pumpkin bread with cream cheese icing

Lunch – Cranberry walnut chicken salad in lettuce wraps, with homemade mayonnaise

chicken salad in lettuce wrapschicken salad in lettuce wraps

Snack – Garrett’s popcorn, Chicago mix, from the wedding

chicago mix popcorn

Dinner – more leftovers! I had the remaining tuna puffs and some lentil loaf.

tuna puff leftovers

Then I was watching Fat Salt Acid Heat on Netflix, and the salt episode gave me intense cravings, so I ate a literal plate of rice doused in soy sauce and sprinkled with salt. Mmmmm. Don’t worry, I really do have chronic hypotension.

salty rice

Thursday:

Breakfast – I’ll give you one guess.

pumpkin bread with cream cheese icing

Lunch – Leftover steak tips stroganoff with frozen peas

leftover steak stroganoff with peas

Snack – an apple and a pear

apple and pear

Dinner – Lasagna! Possibly my best lasagna ever. With Nature’s Root Farm pastured mozzarella and ground beef, it was so crazy flavorful, and I added a few handfuls of spinach and parsley to the sauce so I can claim it even had some veggies.

homemade lasagna

I also learned my lesson, do not pressure can marmalade. It set up perfectly and was gorgeous, but canning means it will last longer in the pantry rather than fridge. But, it re-liquefied the marmalade, and turned it an icky brown. I’m a little heartbroken.

sad canned marmalade

Friday:

Breakfast – hmmm… sensing a trend? Trust me it’s worth it. This bread is the bomb.com and I have no problem eating it daily. In fact I won’t know what to do with myself once it’s gone.

pumpkin bread with cream cheese icing

Lunch – Leftover lasagna and a salad

leftover lasagna and salad

Snack – someone at work brought these and left them in the break room. Freeze dried bananas, the only ingredient is banana. They were weird, like astronaut food you convince your parents to buy you from the science center as a kid. And the packaging, for like .2 ounces of fruit, ugh. But they would otherwise be trashed, so.

freeze dried bananas

Dinner – This stupid easy 5 ingredient sausage & kale soup. (Sort of this one too… just use what you have okay.)

Kale and sausage soup

The Weekend

So… you may or may not know that I want to have a farm someday, or a homestead. Not a secret to those who know me, I love gardening, and animals, and DIY, and eating things local, especially from my own hands. But the thing is, I live in a city. On about 1/3 of an acre, with lots of trees.

Not ideal for farming.

But I have dreams.

Been trying to convince the boy for 2 years now that we should get chickens. Yes, they are allowed. But only 6, and no roosters. Which is reasonable, as I don’t want a rooster anyways. But he is insistent that they smell and are loud and we don’t have enough space and the dogs will eat them, etc.

So… what about quail? Turns out quail are way underrated. They are tinier and quieter than chickens, you can fit way more in the same amount of space. And they also lay eggs almost daily. Yes, it will take about 4 quail eggs to equal one chicken egg. But if I can have 20 quail rather than 2 chicken… I’m ok with that.

First things first, we need to try quail eggs and see if we even like them. So I procured some quail eggs, and in my search for recipes found this one from Jo Cooks. 

quail eggs in hashbrown nest

IT WAS AMAZING GUYS.

quail eggs in hashbrown nests and radish saute

The eggs are the teeny tiniest most adorable things. And they look really cool in the tiny hashbrowns. And then for dinner, quail just happened to be on sale at HT!

So we are going to get to try both the eggs and the meat, and hopefully this will be the clincher in letting me get some.

Food Total: $way too much

I think the produce box this week was $28? I tried the build-your-own, with lots of fall goodies like brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower. Hooray for cruciferous veggies!

But then I went to HT, and got a lil carried away… I spent $102 there. I stocked up on several small things that all added up; EVOO cold pressed olive oil, sunflower oil, lime and lemon juice, Bob’s Red Mill spelt, pasta, the quail, biscuits, shredded cheese…

Plus, we tried Butcher Box for the first time. It was $129, for about 12 pounds of all free-range, organic, non-GMO, no-added-anything meat. We got the mixed box, so there was chicken, beef, and pork in there. I think we had a beef roast, a pork loin, 3 chicken breasts, a pound of bacon, and some sirloin steak tips. And it is delivered right to your door! I don’t love the copious amount of packaging though…

Everything we have tried so far has been wonderfully delicious. And I love that I can eat meat again! I know that health-wise, plants are king, and they will remain 80% or so of my diet. But boy, was it nice to have chicken salad, ground beef, and sausage soup again.

And I love knowing these animals were raised as they should be. With plenty of grass, sunshine, and love. If you are wanting a more ethical source for your animal protein, I’d recommend looking into them, if you don’t have a more local meat source near you.

If you decide to check them out and sign up, and use my link: http://fbuy.me/kXzkj  I will get $43 off my next box order, and you get $20 off your first order plus a pound of FREE BACON!

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 10/29/18

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Last weekend’s Halloween party was a blast! I bet you can’t guess correctly what both of our costumes were.

halloween costumes

It was nice enough that we could all hang out outside and play cornhole and beer pong and enjoy the bonfire. And the trick or treat shots were a hit! We did three rounds, and used almost all of them. Yes, I came up with 50 different liquids. They included everything from juiced celery to tequila to bean cooking water. And people were really good at guessing correctly!

trick or treat shots

I also had time on Sunday to whip up a batch of homemade mayo, and some hemp milk since we ran out of almond. Uhhh sidenote, how did she get all the milks to stay clear?? Am I the only one, every time I make any plant milk (almond, coconut, hemp, cashew, rice, oat…) it separates in like 0.4 seconds. I swear I do filter it… maybe I need cheesecloth. But then the yield is lower.  🙁

Monday:

Breakfast – sad bowl of cocoa puffs… I’ve been less inspired about breakfasts lately. Normally I turn to warm oatmeal when fall rolls around but that isn’t sounding so great. I may need to try intermittent fasting as a double win…

Lunch – big warm bowl of leftover white bean & barley soup

white bean and barley soup

Dinner – Some ravioli I defrosted with corn on the cob, microwaved broccoli and cauliflower, and a big salad with toasted pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and homemade apple cider dressing

ravioli and tons of veggies

Tuesday:

Breakfast – it is not possible to take a good picture of oatmeal. It had peaches in it though.

Lunch – Rest of the barley soup & a salad

white bean and barley soup

Dinner – Tuna salad puffs! Throwback Tuesday, to 2014.

tuna salad puffs with guac

Wednesday (Halloween!):

Breakfast – a breakfast boo-rito

egg and potato boo rito

Lunch – potluck at work!

halloween potluck

Dinner – more Booritos! (we didn’t want to stand in line at Chipotle)

halloween boo-rito

Thursday:

Breakfast – coffee and tangerines

coffee and tangerine

Lunch – leftover bowl: potatoes and cauliflower and stuffed mushrooms from the party

bowl of leftovers

Dinner – the rest of the empty the refrigerator Dal

finishing the Dal

Friday:

Breakfast – golden grahams with hemp milk

golden grahams and crockpot of pumpkin chili

Lunch – Pumpkin chili when we get to the cabin!

Dinner – I think we are grilling brats tonight

The Weekend

This weekend we are going up to a friend’s family cabin in the mountains!! I can’t tell you how excited we are. We got to go last year, and it is such a blast. There will be almost a dozen people, which may be cramped, but it will be such a great opportunity for community. It is miles away from civilization, so it is perfectly silent and pitch black at night.

the cabin

Watching the sun rise over the lake, with steam coming off the water, kayaking into the middle and laying back to look up at the stars… I can’t wait to totally relax and refresh. We all take turns cooking, plus people bring crafting projects like knitting, and there are games galore from ping pong and frisbee to board and cards.

I’ll be bringing the crock pot full of pumpkin chili, along with the fixings for tacos and lentil sloppy joes. A build your own taco bar is always filling and fun. And for the lentil sloppy joes, I stuffed all the ingredients into a near empty pasta sauce jar. Just dump into a pan and simmer for 40 minutes!

jar full of lentil tacos

Food Total: $52.50 + 49.58

Weekly Produce Box = Grape Tomatoes, Broccoli Bunch, Potatoes- Yukon Butter Gold , Red Onion (1), Lettuce – Field Grown Romaine (1), Navel Orange (1), Green Beans

Then I also added on quite a few things: kale, pears, persimmons (because there’s a persimmon tree I’ve spotted near me; I want to know if I like them before risking my neck climbing it to pick some), and I also went for it and ordered a pound of ground chicken and some tenders from Joyce Farms in Winston-Salem, NC.

fall produce box

I’m hankering for some white chicken chili, and when we eat meat now, I want it to be sourced very carefully.  The chickens on this farm were not crammed into cages with their beaks cut off, fed a diet of antibiotics and ‘vegetarian’ corn (chickens are not vegetarians, by the way). I know these chickens lived as chickens were meant to live, out in the grass, happily foraging for seeds and bugs.

And I stopped by HT for some sale items, organic potatoes, tons of yogurt since we were out, and more cabin things.

Lessons Learned

Leftovers are the best, worst thing. They are awesome to have, for when you just don’t feel like cooking, or don’t have the time. And I’ve been not feeling like it often lately. Which is great, because we also really needed to finish up all the things from the party and clear out the fridge since we will be gone all weekend.

But sometimes leftovers keep getting left, because you don’t really want to eat them again. Then there’s the “should I throw it out” struggle, because we both hate food waste. So sometimes, leftovers can be quite unfortunate. We both just powered through a few times just so we didn’t toss it. It’s always a lesson, sometimes that lesson is ‘don’t make that again’.

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 10/22/18

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Wow, weddings always go by in a flash don’t they?! The weekend in Chicago was a ton of fun, food, and fast paced sightseeing. The boy had never been, so of course we had to hit Millennium Park to see the Bean, the Chicago River, the Magnificent Mile, and Navy Pier.

Chicago downtown Millennium Park

The town was lovely, as was the church and the wedding itself. The reception was at a cool glassblowing studio, where they had some live demonstrations going on! The food was divine, as expected, and we danced the night away. No joke, I had 24K+ steps Saturday! Of course, I’m sure I negated that with the obligatory deep dish pizza.

Chicago deep dish pizza

In the airport, we ate at a cafe that had a brilliant device: you press the button to order, or get a check. I think that is just the smartest thing. No more getting interrupted every two seconds when you don’t want anything, and waiting around trying to flag someone down when you do.

restaurant button

Also of note, I’ve got baby beets, radishes, collards, and wheat popping up all over! Fingers crossed I actually get something edible before Jan/Feb freezes it all.

seedlings sprouting

Monday:

Breakfast – Berry oatmeal with chia and walnuts

berry oatmeal

Lunch – Leftover bayou chicken pasta I’d pulled from the freezer

Dinner – pasta, because when you’re exhausted from traveling and the fridge is empty, you don’t want to go to a store. And a box of pasta plus a jar of sauce is as easy as comfort food gets.

desperation pasta

Tuesday:

Breakfast – berry & kefir smoothie

berry smoothie

Lunch – leftover defrosted veggie burgers with hummus, sauerkraut and avocado

veggie burgers

Dinner – the Butternut Squash Risotto that lit up Twitter. Yes, it really is as delicious as it looks, and you should go make some. Now.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Sage

Wednesday:

Breakfast – ham egg and cheese breakfast bagel sandwich; I found these bagel thins in the freezer too. Can you sense a theme? Oncoming winter always prompts a drive for freezer clean out for some reason.

bagel sandwich

Lunch – Leftover Thai sweet potato and carrot soup over rice, with a small chunk of leftover brisket

leftover mishmash

Dinner – Thawed pork chops with cranberry sauce, sweet potato and carrot casserole, and green beans. Basically Thanksgiving prep for taste buds. Eaten by a fire, as all fall meals should be.

Thanksgiving dinner practice by the fire

Second dinner – So uh, we went out to meet up with a friend for a beer. And we chatted and had a great time catching up. Then as we were about to leave we got on the topic of sushi (which, you should know by now, I freaking LOVE). And of course I perked up like, we can has sushi now?!? And the boy. said. yes. !!! I don’t care that I had dinner and it’s 8:40pm and they close soon. We goin! And, we went. And it was glorious. #sorrynotsorry

second dinner sushi

Thursday:

Breakfast – PBJ toast, which, I ended up not eating until the way home from work later bc I was still kinda full… weird…

Lunch – leftover risotto! and homemade soda.

butternut squash risotto

Dinner – Burritos! Always satisfying.

burritos

Friday:

Breakfast – sad bowl of cocoa puffs…

Lunch – I forgot to pack a lunch, so I dipped into my emergency food drawer at work for canned soup.

emergency work lunch drawer

Dinner – “Make Room In The Fridge Dal”, that gives the Angry Leftovers Man heart palpitations. It was super good though.

leftovers dal

The Weekend

Saturday is the big Halloween party! I haven’t thrown a good holiday party in a long time, and I finally know enough people in NC to pack the house, so I’m pretty excited about it. Been decorating, cleaning, planning, and cooking all week.

Halloween decoration

There will be a bonfire outside, lights all around the porch, games set up inside and outside, and creepy music on YouTube. I’m making a couple dips and a veggie tray, and people are bringing all kinds of goodies too. But the real highlight will be the Trick or Treat shots!

trick or treat shots

Food Total: $64.43 + 28.05 = $92.48

Weekly Produce Box and a trip to ALDI for last minute party foods. We were also down to our last container of coffee, which is a good reason for all out panic. I picked up some cute fall scented candles as well, because we will have a housewarming to go to soon!

Crescent roll dough was on sale, which if I get motivated and have enough time Saturday morning, I’ll turn into cute dough ‘fingers’ with marinara ‘blood’ dipping sauce. I also picked up tortillas in anticipation of a taco night next (next) weekend.

Dairy $9.24 Staples $22.89 Fruit/Veg $11.23 Extras $21.07
cream cheese 2.37 Coffee 4.79 vine ripe tomatoes 1.89 cake mix – for work party 1.7
berry kefir 3 6.87 Cooking spray 2 2.98 romaine 1.99 Graham crackers 1.25
crescent roll dough 1.78 celery 0.89 Marshmallows (s’mores) 0.89
Dipper chips 0.89 3pk bell peppers 1.99 Fancy choc bars 2 3.98
tortillas x2 3.28 butternut squash 1.57 Jello (shots…) 0.7
100% fruit juice x2 5.18 seedless cucumber 0.99 Mason jar candles 2 9.98
Red blend wine 3.99 pineapple 0.99 taco mix seasoning 0.29
bananas 0.92
Tax 2.28

 

And then my Harvest Box contained: Avocado XL green (1), Apple Cider (1), Green Beans, Fall Glo Tangerines (4), Garden Cucumber (1), Red New Potatoes, White Sweet Corn (3), Sweet Onion (1), Fuji Apples (4).

the Produce Box Harvest Box

So we are very well stocked up, and if I can contain myself and stay away from stores, I shouldn’t have to grocery shop at all next week!

Lessons Learned

Guyyyyyys. Avoiding plastic is SO hard. Especially when throwing a party, with many people you barely know. On the one hand, most of the things I already had (forks, plates, water bottles) and will do my best not to purchase more of in the future. I want to overall move more towards smaller dinner party style, with real plates and cups and silverware.

But plastic food packaging too. My beloved ALDI, the purveyor of low prices, why must you use so much plastic? I feel like we could get an additional savings if you just sold me peppers naked, as nature grows them.

Another lesson? A stocked freezer is so amazing. Especially when you get back from a trip and do not have the energy to go to the store for food. But also, you should look in there routinely and make sure to actually eat the stuff. I think it’s time for a big purge, a la my January pantry and freezer challenge.

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 10/15/18

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Last weekend was great fun! You can read all about the farm adventures and refillable soap here. Then on Sunday I went to my first Cary Food & Flea Market to represent Triangle Food Tours. It was a drizzly day, but we still had a good turnout.

triangle food tour

I also got the last of the fall seeds planted, and we had a lovely bonfire in the evening, complete with farm fresh milk hot cocoa.

fall bonfire time

This week I processed several of the giant pile of Carolina Reapers still hanging around my kitchen. Their season is nearly over, so I’m trying to stock up as much as I can to get us through the cold winter with some heat. I think we will have more than enough… in fact those tiny containers are literally just reapers and vinegar, destined to be traded with some brave soul at the next Food Swap!

Monday:

Breakfast – banana muffins

Lunch – leftovers

Dinner – I made a white bean stew with butternut squash steamed in the pressure cooker and blanched sweet potato leaves. Served over quinoa, it was healthy, local, seasonal, and delicious.

white bean and squash stew over quinoa

Tuesday:

Breakfast – blue berry oatmeal

blueberry oatmeal

Lunch – leftover Chinese from the weekend & berries

chinese and berries

Dinner – summer squash, peppers and onions stir fried over quinoa

stir fry over quinoa

Wednesday:

Breakfast – smoothie with berries and kefir and frozen banana

fruit and kefir smoothie

Lunch – leftover brisket, roasted carrots, and steamed sweet potato leaves, with peppermint tea + ginger & lemon

leftover brisket lunch with tea

Snack – a friend at work gave me this Kind banana and chocolate bar because she didn’t like them. It was certainly weird, but okay, and kept the hangry at bay until it was dinner time.

KIND chocolate banana bar

Dinner – Cod in the instant pot with fresh green beans, red potatoes, a sprinkle of cranberries and walnuts. IT WAS SO GOOD GUYS. So simple, so tasty, and so fast (15 minutes). I get why people are all about the instant pot now.

instant pot cod with potatoes and green beans

I bet this same combo would also be amazing with Thanksgiving turkey! Or just minus the cod as a delish side dish.

instant pot cod with potatoes and green beans

Thursday:

Breakfast – more blueberry oatmeal! This time I sprinkled them on after cooking rather than cooking them in with the oats, and added a few walnuts too.

more blueberry oatmeal

Lunch – kale salad and carrot/sweet potato soup

kale salad with carrot sweet potato soup

Dinner – summer squash ‘zoodles’ with rustic tomato & kale sauce and chickpeas. Basically threw a bunch of things from the fridge together in a pot and called it dinner!

squash zoodles with tomato kale sauce

Friday:

Breakfast – uhhh just coffee oops! I’m off, and slept in, then got caught up packing and cleaning and doing things around the house

Lunch – whatever is left in the fridge; probably red beans and rice

Dinner – hopefully, deep dish pizza!

The Weekend

We will be in the Windy City this weekend for a family wedding! By the time you’re reading this we will probably be home already. My cousin has excellent taste so I can only assume the wedding/ reception dinner will be excellent. I’m sure there will be at least one deep dish pizza involved, and probably a glass or five two too many of wine. But that’s what celebrating love is all about right??

Food Total: $61.62

Not bad at all, especially when you consider half of that was decorations for the fall/upcoming Halloween party! I didn’t have a Produce Box delivery this week since we’re out of town for a wedding, and we have plenty of produce/ dairy/ pantry items that need used up prior to that. Next week will be a big spend for party food items and beverages though.

Staples $1.87 Fruit/Veg $19.15 Extras $37.11
Baking soda 0.49 Strawberry quart 1.99 Mums x3 8.97
Baking powder 0.99 Blueberry 2 pint 2.99 Pumpkins 2 big 4.98
Iodized salt 0.39 Acorn squash 1.19 Halloween candy 100pc 9.99
Butternut squash 1.96
Bananas 0.97 Winking owl 3L 10.89
Lemons 2.79
Red onions 1.19 tax 2.28
Avocados 6 3.49
Yellow onions 1.09
Pineapple 1.49

Lessons Learned

This week was all about quick, easy, and healthy. Sometimes you just go through phases in life where you don’t feel like cooking big or complicated recipes. (For some, this is every night). And that’s okay. Actually, sometimes the simplest things are the healthiest, a quick steam or stir fry of some frozen veggies and you’re good to go.

It’s also helpful to prep a big batch of something to have on hand, like a grain, some steamed veggies, some fruits, and some proteins. Then you can just mix and match for almost instant dinner. Having already cooked quinoa, pinto beans, rinsed and shredded kale, and washed berries ready to go was great all week long.

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 7/30/18

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Last week I got a big ol box of tomatoes from Whitaker Farms. This weekend I finally got the time to make a huge batch of my easy peasy blender sauce, and canned 2 huge quarts and several pints. I LOVE homemade tomato sauce so much! The sweetness and complex flavors of locally grown organic tomatoes just can’t be beat.

budget epicurean weekly eating

And since I’m visiting my sister this weekend (more about that below) and she recently learned she has an intolerance for gluten, soy, and corn, I am bringing her a jar of sauce (because I know exactly what is in it) and tried my hand at a new gluten-free noodles recipe using almond flour and tapioca flour. I have no idea if these noodles will hold together or taste good, but at least I tried!

budget epicurean weekly eating

 

Monday:

Breakfast – fruit smoothie with watermelon, local peaches, banana, and blueberries + flax & amla

Lunch – half batch of tuna salad as lettuce wraps, plus some raw veggies and hummus

budget epicurean weekly eating

Snack – cut up fruits

Dinner – I did a crazy clean-out-the-fridge veggie burger with a Turkish twist. I had some roasted beets, leftover cooked potatoes, pinto beans and brown rice. So I tossed it all in the blender with spices and some flax to bind it, and make it into 8 patties, which I lightly fried in coconut oil.

budget epicurean weekly eating

I had some leftover pita bread and tzatziki sauce, and stewed some fresh veggies and cashews in Za’atar and curry powder. It turned out AMAZING all together! Cleaning out the fridge is a great frugal strategy, veggie meals can be truly outstanding, and it prevents food waste, all things that I love.

Tuesday:

Breakfast – Peaches & Cream oatmeal. 1/ cup oats, 1 cut up peach, 3 diced dried apricots, 1 cup almond milk, handful of walnuts. The walnuts added a bit too many calories, so I won’t use them again.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Lunch – leftover shrimp and broccoli fettuccini

Snack – more fruit!

Dinner – Wheat penne with the homemade sauce <3 I steamed some broccoli and cauliflower on the side.

Wednesday:

Breakfast – another round of Peaches & Cream oatmeal, sans walnuts

Lunch – the rest of the curry vegetables and brown rice. Cauliflower, bell pepper, onions, garlic, and fresh tomato. YUM.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Dinner – Chipotle was giving away free guac today only, so of course we had to jump on that! Chipotle is definitely both of our favorite ‘eat-out’ places. The flavor cannot be beat, and I’ve tried to make the chicken and the rice. It is never quite right.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Thursday:

Breakfast – cheerios, because sometimes I just don’t wanna

Lunch – leftover Chipotle. Another reason I love them is because it is almost always enough for 2 meals for me, so basically like half price and I get to eat it twice in a row.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Snack – no way, more fruit?!? 🙂

Dinner – The boy had a tiny bit of ground beef left from making himself burritoes for lunch, and I was craving some warm soup to go with the icky rain. So I tossed together a cup of rice, some stock from the fridge, frozen mixed veggies, and the beef. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Boom, easy peasy and super cheap comfort food.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Friday:

Breakfast – fruit smoothie with watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, and cherry juice, plus frozen blueberries and banana

budget epicurean weekly eating

Lunch – canned soup from my desk at work, because I didn’t have any pre-made leftovers today.

Dinner – on the road!

The Weekend

I’m driving to Ohio this weekend for a wedding shower.

Yup. I agree with you, I am crazy.

It’s about a 10 hours drive both ways. But family. Ya know.

I packed a cooler with some road snacks, granola bars, PBJs, bottled water (re-useable bottles, don’t worry). Hopefully I can make it without giving into temptation for fast food, but who knows. I’m going to give myself grace and roll with whatever happens this weekend. Plus my mom doesn’t know, so it will be a total surprise to her. I can’t wait to see her face. 🙂

Food Total: $27.03

This week I did not go to the grocery store at all! It went by in a blur actually. I meant to go Wednesday but then it was monsooning. Then I was going to go Thursday, but the rain was even worse. So we scrounged and figured it out and it worked out. The produce delivery box was more than enough to get us by combined with what’s in the pantry.

Lessons Learned

Apparently I have far more food in the house than I even realized. We didn’t go to the grocery store this week and barely even noticed. I may be able to spread out grocery shopping to every other week soon, and just stock up on enough yogurt and bananas to get the boy through to the next trip.

Also I need to get back to batch cooking on the weekends again. I’ve been lax on planning and prepping, as summer is just plain crazy. We are definitely gone more weekends than we are here, and weekends are when I have the time, energy, and mental space to do these things. So I’ve been scrounging for lunch and snacks lately, and had a few ‘what the heck do I make for dinner’ moments. Those prepped “food, fast” meals are definitely required.

 

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup

 

Minestrone soup is one of my favorite soups out there. Not only is it packed with veggies, it is also super easy to adapt to whatever odds and ends you have in your refrigerator, and is very filling.

Many soups leave you ravenous a few hours later, but with all the lovely fiber and nutrients from the veggies, and extra staying power from beans and noodles, this hot and hearty soup keeps your tummy from growling all day long.

You can thicken it up easily by pureeing half the beans, or using mashed potatoes rather than chunks of potatoes. Or you can thin it out by doubling up on the stock, adding extra water before serving, or adding extra tomato juice.

I’ve written before how easy it is to make minestrone in ten minutes, but sometimes you want deeper flavors. That is where the slow cooker comes in.

slow cooker minestrone soup

The slow cooker is a great option because you can just “dump and go”, then come home to a delicious smelling house and a hot and ready meal. It’s also great because, unlike a boiling pot on the stove, you don’t need to constantly watch and stir. The soup won’t burn or stick to the bottom, and there’s no risk of boiling over.

And a programmable slow cooker is the best option yet, that way there is no risk of over-cooking it either! But don’t worry, if you don’t have the kind with a timer it will still work just fine.

Leave it on longer, on low rather than high, for the lowest risk of burning or over cooking. You can add the pasta noodles at the beginning, if you want a truly one-step meal and don’t mind soft pasta. If you want “al dente” slightly harder pasta, it’s best to boil it separately and add just before serving.

slow cooker minestrone soup

Ingredients:

  • ~1 cup fresh, canned, or frozen green beans
  • ~1.5 cups cooked pinto beans (or any bean you prefer)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 carrots, diced
  • 2-3 stalks celery, small dice
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 1 can tomatoes (whole, stewed, diced, etc)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen spinach
  • Either: 1 cup mashed potatoes or 2-3 small potatoes, diced
  • 4 cups broth, stock, or water
  • 1/2 pound pasta noodles, any shape you like

slow cooker minestrone soup

Step 1: Dice up your veggies, by hand or in a food processor.

slow cooker minestrone soup

Step 2: In slow cooker, combine all ingredients (except noodles, if you are cooking them just before serving). Cook on low 6-10 hours, or on high 3-4 hours.

slow cooker minestrone soup

Step 3: When you’re ready for dinner, just boil your pasta according to the directions. I prefer shapes, such as elbow macaroni, shells, or bowties, but any noodle works. Drain, mix in the noodles, and serve!

soup, salad, and smoothie

This soup is hearty enough to be a meal on its own, but it also pairs well with salads, or a nice thick garlic bread for dipping. It is super healthy, vegetarian but meat eaters will also love it, and quite cheap! Especially if you have a garden to get some of the vegetables.

You can easily change it up, for example if you hate green beans but have some fresh zucchini, go right ahead and swap. Bell peppers go great here, and you can use fresh diced tomato or canned or even juice. Or forget the tomato altogether and just use broth, you’re in charge!

Weekly Eating – 7/09/18

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Gosh, it feels good to be back y’all!

This summer has been a lil crazy, and we haven’t been great about meal planning with being gone or hosting family pretty much every weekend. But that’s ok, sometimes life is like that.

Over the weekend I made a huge ol pork roast and a big batch of ground turkey, because the boy was sad about how long it had been since we had burritos. So… lots of meat in the fridge. He was pleased. I also made a giant crock pot full of black beans which became my best black bean soup and black bean burgers.

budget epicurean weekly eating meal plan

While my sister was in town last weekend, we also went shopping and picked up a ginormous box of honey cheerios on sale, because she has discovered that she has a gluten, soy, and corn intolerances. As you can imagine, that significantly limits ones food choices. Turns out cheerios is one cereal that has no HFCS or soy or wheat in it.

And, we also made a batch of macarons! Because almond flour is just fine. And I’ve always wanted to make them! They turned out pretty darn good looking too. I added a few fresh strawberries to the filling and we put cocoa in the batter for some chocolate strawberry flavors going on. Delish.

Oh I also got a big-a$$ watermelon, and turned it into all kinds of goodies! I pickled a big batch of rinds for a Food Swap next week, we ate tons of it fresh, it became a watermelon-feta-mint salad, and several smoothies.

budget epicurean weekly eating meal plan

Monday:

Breakfast – Honey cheerios + a banana + soymilk

Lunch – Black bean soup!

Dinner – Enchilada casserole. This used up some small corn tortillas, black and pinto beans, pulled pork, corn, and tomatoes. Topped with pickled jalapenos, cheddar, guac, and salsa. SO DANG GOOD.

budget epicurean weekly eating meal plan

Snack – a macaron

Tuesday:

Breakfast – same cereal, bc I’m boring!

Lunch – leftover enchilada and a salad that happened to match the skirt I was wearing that day, haha

Dinner – portobello stir fry

budget epicurean weekly eating meal plan

Wednesday:

Breakfast – smoothie with watermelon, pineapple, frozen blueberries, blueberry kefir, and greens

Lunch – leftover stir fry, and a Greek salad

budget epicurean weekly eating meal plan

Dinner – Leftovers! We are going out of town again for the weekend, so I’m busy using up or freezing all the perishables

budget epicurean weekly eating meal plan

Thursday:

Breakfast – smoothie with watermelon, pineapple, frozen blueberries, blueberry kefir, and amla powder

budget epicurean weekly eating meal plan

Lunch – uhhh it was a bit of a crazy day, so I didn’t get a lunch per se. I did sneak a maple bacon donut that was brought in to work. #noregrets

Snack – a cranberry yogurt

Dinner –we were tired of all the leftovers, so we decided on a spontaneous date night to AYCE sushi at RocknRolls!!

budget epicurean weekly eating meal plan
In case it was unclear, I REALLY love salmon sushi. Also I ate three teenage boys next to us under the table!

Friday:

Breakfast – I finally successfully used up all the watermelon, so today’s smoothie was frozen blueberries and cherries, pineapple and flaxseed powder

Lunch – Black beans & rice

Dinner – whatever we can scrounge up before heading to the airport. Everything else will get frozen while we’re gone.

The Weekend

We had a death in the family, so we are out of town for the weekend. It will definitely be interesting seeing how expensive and wasteful traveling is. I am going to try to plan ahead and pack at least some nuts or trail mix to take so I don’t give into temptation to buy things at the airport.

Y’all are in for something BIG on Monday, so stay tuned!

Food Total: $5.92

All the major expenses happened last week or earlier, so I’m not counting them for this week. When we return though I’ll have to do a stock up trip. If you really want me to fess up, that pic at the top was an ALDI stock up last week that cost us $68.79.

The only things purchased were on a whim, a stop-in at Walmart on my way to work. I desperately needed Ibuprofen (one to keep in my car) and some cold sore medication (BOO cold sores, the worst) and while there I grabbed some bananas and avocados.

Luckily, I remembered to grab one of my reusable canvas bags from the car! So no plastic bag, yay!

Lessons Learned

So, the boy actually eat way less meat than I think he does. Especially now as I am borderline vegetarian and am not very helpful in eating it. And I think… that… I may have actually burnt him out on burritoes! I did not know that was possible. But he said he actually got tired of the ground turkey and pork (I guess that’s what happens when that is all there is to eat for lunch and dinner for a week straight…)

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

5 Freezer Meals for 1 or 2 in 30 minutes

 

I know that’s a lot of numbers in the title, but what do you expect from a finance & food blog? 😉 There are many ways to save money on one of most people’s biggest budget categories (after housing): food.

  1. Eat at your parents house
  2. Eat only Ramen noodles
  3. One meal per day
  4. Intermittent fasting
  5. Freeganism
  6. Vegetable garden/farming
  7. Bulk buying
  8. Couponing
  9. Meal planning
  10. Freezer meals

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

But every tip will not work for every person and every situation.

If you are in a dorm with just a small refrigerator and 6 months until you move again, your life is drastically different from a family with four children in the suburbs with two chest freezers.

I’ve designed meal plans for the Dollar Tree, one week of dinners from one pork roast, and 10 freezer meals in one hour.

The Freezer Meals For 2 Plan

This plan is designed for smaller households, who have a freezer.

One or two people.

I made all of these meals for a friend who was about to have a baby. Having freezer meals on hand makes feeding yourself when sleep deprived and stressed so much easier! But these meals are also great for single people or couples who don’t like to cook, as they are super easy and stress free.

So if you have a big family or a big appetite, these recipes might not be for you. However they are very easy to scale up, simply double or triple the ingredients, and use larger freezer bags.

This is also designed to go straight from ingredients –> bag –> freezer –> thaw in refrigerator –> oven or crock pot.

5 freezer meals in 30 minutes

To complete these 5 freezer meals, in addition to the food ingredients you will need:

  • 5 quart sized freezer bags
  • Sharpie or other permanent marker
  • Container in which to thaw the bags in the refrigerator (otherwise they will leak condensation all over)

The ingredients are pantry staples (at least in my house!) and items you can easily find at most any grocery store. You can of course step up your game slightly and use dried beans you cook yourself, or produce straight from your garden. These tricks will lower the total cost even further.

But the total for this should be less than $30, for 5 nights of meals for 2 servings each, possibly with leftovers. I will also include some tips at the end on how you can jazz up each one to make it your own.

Per serving total = $3 or less

Recipes included:
  • Chicken & Rice Casserole
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • 3 Bean Vegetarian Chili
  • White Bean & Barley Soup
  • Corn & Potato Chowder

5 freezer meals in 30 minutes

Entire Ingredients List:

  • 2 cans pinto beans
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can corn (can use frozen)
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 large chicken breast, cut in half, or 2 total
  • 1 cup barley
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1-2 large baking potato
  • 1 onion, diced, or dried onion
  • Garlic powder or fresh garlic
  • Italian seasonings
  • Chili powder
  • Bouillon
  •  1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup rice

You will be using half or a third of some of these cans, I did not measure it out, I just eyeballed it. If you feel more comfortable with exact numbers, go ahead and get out a measuring cup.

Step 1: Cut up your carrots and potato and onion into a small dice. I did not peel either the potatoes or carrot, but you can if you want. You can also use canned potatoes, though the end product will be soggier. You can also use dried onion, like I did.

Step 2: Label your bags and write the instructions out. Trust me, you want to do this part before the bag is full and possibly wet outside.

Step 3: Open and drain all your cans.

Step 4: Cut a large boneless skinless chicken breast in half, or use two smaller cuts. You can leave the breast whole, or dice it up, either way works. You could also use canned chicken, 1 per recipe.

 

Once you have your labeled bags ready, just dump the ingredients into them, in the order listed. You want to put the meat in last, so it is the first thing to come out when you cook it. Then push out any air in the bag, and seal. Freeze laying flat if possible, as they are then easier to stack and take up less freezer space.

 

Chicken & Rice Casserole

  • 1/2 can corn
  • 1/2 bag frozen mixed veggies
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 1 chicken breast

*Thaw overnight. Bake at 350 in a casserole dish for 1 hour, or in crock pot on low for 2-3 hours, shred chicken before serving.

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • 1 can pinto beans (or black beans)
  • 1/3 can diced tomatoes or 1 cup salsa
  • 1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • Diced or dried onion
  • 1 chicken breast

*Thaw, simmer on stove for 1 hour, or in crock pot on low 2-3 hours. Top with tortilla chips, sour cream, cheddar cheese, avocado…

 

3 Bean Vegetarian Chili

  •       1 can of 3 different kinds of beans
  •       1/3 can diced tomatoes
  •       Dried onion, garlic powder
  •       2 tbsp chili powder

*Thaw overnight. Add to slow cooker with 3 cups water, cook on low 6-8 hours, or high for 4-6 hours, stirring every hour or so if possible.

 

White Bean & Barley Soup

  •       1 cup white beans (or 1 can)
  •       1 cup barley
  •       ½ – 1 cup cut up carrots
  •       ½ white onion, diced
  •       1-2 cubes bouillon
  •       1/3 can diced tomatoes

*Thaw overnight. Add 6 cups water, simmer 2 hours on the stove or cook in crock pot on low for 6-8 hours.

 

Corn & Potato Chowder

  •       2 potatoes, diced
  •       ½ can corn
  •       ½ cup flour
  •       Garlic, onion, bouillon
  •       Optional: 1tbsp Italian seasoning

*Thaw, add 2 cups water and simmer 2 hours on the stove or cook in slow cooker on low 4-6 hours.

 

5 freezer meals in 30 minutes

 

 

 

Weekly Eating – 3/26/18

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Happy Easter, if you celebrate!

 

Well, to balance out last week’s super frugal food spending, I way over spent this week! I cannot be trusted in grocery stores, even with super detailed lists, it seems.

grocery shopping haul

Also, the boy was out of state on a work trip all week, which means I got to go out and party with friends on a work night, twice! Woo hoo, the crazy life of a 30 year old. 🙂 I did basically 2/3 of my eating-out for the year in one week. I don’t ‘go out’ a whole lot since I like cooking so much.

But, it was really nice to finally get a lot of one on one friend time with several different people, and try out a few new food spots. I’m always on the hunt for new stand outs, and good places to take people who visit from out of town. I’d say there are a few new names on the list now.

Monday:

Breakfast – Last of the sweet potato biscuits with honey. Hoping to make a new batch of these over the weekend, they are seriously the perfect breakfast.

sweet potato biscuit with honey

Lunch – Leftover split pea soup & whole grain bread.

split pea soup and bread

Snack – Chocolate peanut butter granola bar.

granola bar

Dinner –Last of the tortilla soup.

tortilla soup

So I thought I had already finished this, but I tricked myself! I put some away in regular containers, but then also one mason jar full. I found it when trying to rearrange the fridge, and had that for dinner. Just as satisfying as I remember.

jar of tortilla soup

Tuesday:

Breakfast – The last slice of my banana bread loaf. Found it in the bottom of the cheese drawer for some reason… and, I have 2 bananas turning a darker brown every day on the counter, so it might be time to replenish the supply.

end of banana bread

Lunch – The rest of the Spring Green Creamy Gnocchi

Spring green gnocchi

Snack – Cut up pineapple and honeydew

pineapple and honeydew

Dinner – Out with a friend! We went to a place in Durham called Juju, which is a pan-Asian tapas bar. The menu is all fancy small plates meant for sharing, and they have half off wine on Tuesdays! Of course, I’m totally frugal, and not their target audience at all. When I see $45 for a bottle of wine, my first thought is I could get like 9 liters of boxed wine for that price!

juju brussels sprouts

We ended up with the house special red in a carafe, and the waiter actually made a dig about it (because it is the cheapest wine on the menu). But I don’t care, it still was enough for us both to have 2 glasses and that was actually quite enough, thank you very much. I gotta drive my butt home, sir.

juju chicken biscuits

We each chose 2 things, and split everything. The plates looked smallish, but the presentation was on point, and everything was tasty. It was actually really filling, we were struggling to finish it all by the last course. The duck fried rice (below) was excellent, and the fried chicken buns (above) were definitely the star of the show.

juju duck fried rice

I was surprised by the vegan spring rolls, since they were fried. I thought spring roll meant the cold rice paper wrapped kind, but oh well. It was a lovely night, and even though it was pushing $40 for one meal, it was worth the time spent chatting and enjoying myself.

juju spring rolls

Wednesday:

Breakfast – Cranberry Great Grains & Almond milk. I guess it’s time for a cold cereal breakfast phase now that I’m out of sweet potato biscuits… 🙁

great grains with cranberry

Lunch – A big mixed greens salad, and a slice of leftover pizza from the weekend.

pizza and salad

Snack – More pineapple and honeydew! A honeydew is a large fruit, turns out… and I had 2 pineapples cut up. So.

pineapple and honeydew

Dinner – I did not have a plan here, but there was a lot of cabbage, and pinto beans that had to be used ASAP. So I was like, hybrid stir fry slash beans and rice? Why not!

crazy stir fry with beans

Thursday:

Breakfast – I love Hummusapien’s blog (if I lived in OH still I’d want to live in Columbus and be her friend) and got inspiration from her green smoothie. It included: “pineapple, banana, hemp seeds, kale, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, orange juice, and almond milk.”

crazy green smoothie

So I actually had all those things, and blended them up (minus the black pepper because yuck), and boy. What an… interesting texture. Hemp seeds will no longer go in my smoothies. Now I know.

Lunch – Leftover split pea soup! This was thick and hearty and I could only eat like 2/3 of it and was totally full. Also I ran out of flax seed bread so I used a whole grain bun.

split pea soup and buns

Snack – Crunchy oats & honey granola bar. I know, I know, this one is basically a candy bar because of how much sugar is in there, but desperate times, people.

granola bar

Dinner – I had a multi-course dinner, because I marinated some veggies and put them in the oven to roast, but got hungry before they were done. So I started with an appetizer of cucumbers and turmeric hummus.

hummus and cucumber

And then I had a salad with some hemp hearts and the rest of the marinade, which became salad dressing. In case you’re wondering:
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar + 1 tsp ginger paste + 1 tbsp honey + 1/2 tbsp olive oil.

salad

And finally once they were done I enjoyed my roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots over rice.

roast veggies and rice

And then I went out with some friends to Clouds Brewery in Durham! Clouds is amazing, if you’ve never been and enjoy trying different types of beer you need to go. They have a wall of taps, and you get a bracelet that you swipe on the screen to pour. Yes, you pour your own beers! And it charges you by the type and by the ounce, so you just turn your bracelet back in and it adds up your tab. Gotta love modern technology.

Friday:

Friday is a holiday, woo hoo!

Breakfast – I knew I was going to lunch with friends, so I just had a small fruit and nut energy bar.

cherry almond bar

Lunch – We went to a place called Na’Mean, which is a Korean sandwich place in Durham. It is indeed slang for “know what I mean”.

namean

I got the Pork Belly Banh, which is a slice of crispy/soft pork belly on a banh roll with house pickled veggies, jalapenos, special sauce, pickles, and fresh cilantro. It was awesome! And the seaweed salad on the side made me swoon. I adore seaweed salad.

belly banh

The place was right near an Asian grocery too… I know I promised no more groceries but… c’mon guys! I’m the Budget Epicurean! I had to go at least look around. And then buy some brown rice because we are out. And also the ingredients to make seaweed salad at home!

Dinner – Seaweed salad noodle bowl and steamed bok choi. I hadn’t had bok choi in a long time, so I picked up a small bag for $1, and the noodles were on sale: $1.99 for 3 pounds of rice noodles!

asian market groceries

I have never cooked with seaweed until now. It’s really easy! Just soak to rehydrate, and then eat it. I added some edamame, and made a sauce from this recipe to pour over it all. Nomnomnom.

seaweed salad and bok choi

The Weekend

This weekend will be chill because the boy just had a stressful week flying for work and dealing with the cold in CT. We are considering hitting up a new brewery we heard about called Carolina Brewing Company. Rumor has it you get free beer on the tour… and/or maybe having a spontaneous game night with friends.

If we get really motivated perhaps I will even get the raised bed  garden set up, and some berry bushes. I’ve got it all planned out, we just need to go get the actual supplies: dirt, vermiculite, seeds, & plants. We shall see how we are feeling. I also need to meal plan, and prep some things for next week.

Food Total: $114.44

Remember how I said I wanted a low grocery bill this week?… yeah…

I had this whole game plan mapped out, and set up a calculator to count down from $75 so I knew how much was left of what I wanted to buy. I diligently compared ads and sales, and checked my cabinets and freezer before making any plans.

grocery shopping lists and plan

I thought I totally crushed it at Kroger, even with a few things I picked up here and there. My calculator told me even with all the planned purchases I had $17 left over for “splurges”. There was a great sale on coffee, and I had a $3 off coupon! Well… what I didn’t realize is I accidentally grabbed 4 cans of the wrong size… and the sale and coupon didn’t apply to them 🙁

I also picked up some organic chicken breasts and a small brisket roast to treat the boy. He was gone out of town all week on a work trip to CT. And let me tell you, Connecticut in March is not the most fun. IT WAS SO GOOD. I forgot how mind-blowing brisket is… But, I remain committed to the 80% vegetarian thing, going to keep trying.

brisket

And then dried chickpeas were on sale for 0.99/lb! I cannot pass that up, since I use them so much in my homemade hummus and various salads. It is (almost) always cheaper per pound to buy dried, and I don’t mind the prep of soaking them overnight. I usually just toss some sort of bean in water overnight on a Friday or Saturday, then use my slow cooker all day Saturday or Sunday. Easy peasy, I have cheap protein ready for all week.

soaked chickpeas in the crock pot

To be fair, the Moscato was a hostess gift for the person who planned the baby shower I went to, and the diapers and wipes were a gift for the couple, obvs. Also in good news, the cake pops were a HUGE hit! Who knew.

second batch of cake pops

Lessons Learned

When I have a very specific list, it might be better to send in the boy. He hates grocery shopping, and will whip in and out of the store in the time it takes me to just look around the produce section.

That’s not a bad idea actually…grocery shopping to me is like a game, an adventure to find the best deals. I almost always wind up with some purchases I didn’t plan on. Of course, they are also almost always justifiable (crazy mark downs, actually the best sale price I’ve seen all year, etc.) but still… unplanned for $ spent.

Anywho, the point is, I definitely went over my desired goal of $75, and my stretch goal of $100. Again. Meaning March was wayyyy over the $400 total I’m supposed to spend. Sigh. No more food shopping until April, that’s for sure. I’m determined to do better next month. Maybe the boy really will become the default shopper.

I definitely learned the importance of cleaning out the refrigerator now and then! There were tons of little odds and ends and leftovers that I ate this week. Good thing the boy left for a while, it was mostly the soups and veggie options! 🙂 But clearing out your refrigerator and rearranging every week or every other week is a great habit to start. It reminds you of what leftovers are around and what other ingredients you have to work with for the next coming week.

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 3/12/18

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Oh man, this week was ups and downs all over. First off, Sunday was my tea party! I had such a blast getting all dolled up, when I have a theme I go ALL IN. The group of women was a great mix of personalities and it led to some really great conversation. Maybe after a while I can convince them to talk finances? 😉

tea party dress and hat

The downside of having the party hosting bug is that I go ALL IN. This means occasionally I over-do it, and I definitely over-did-it. I spent way too much on groceries, and it turned out we didn’t even use a good chunk of the food! I even tried to keep telling myself that it’s tea, not a full meal, but… I just can’t help myself!

tea party finger sandwiches

I’m gonna blame this one on my mom, who is the world’s most awesome party planner, ask anyone who knows her (she planned my amazing destination wedding for <$10,000!). I grew up with lavish parties on a shoestring budget, and a big weakness for making sure when there are 10 guests, I have enough food to feed at least 25.

tea party tea and sugar

 

Monday:

Breakfast – Waffles with fresh berries. I made a batch of waffles on Saturday and stuck them in a ziplock for breakfasts this week. And I’m so glad it’s spring, and berries are on sale again! It is not quite blueberry or strawberry season, so I know they’re greenhouse grown or imported, but I’ve missed fresh berries!

waffles with fresh berries

Lunch – Leftover 5 Bean Chili with leftover koftes mixed in. The boy didn’t love these re-heated and honestly neither did I (most things are best fresh) so I just mixed them into the chili. I figured, hey, lentils and onion go great in chili! And it tasted just fine.

chili and a salad

Dinner – Changed our minds from stuffed baked potatoes to mac n cheese! Two reasons: 1) we got a “wintry mix” of rain/sleet/snow which made for a yucky cold night and demanded comfort food and 2) I had soooo much cheese leftover from the tea party!

pesto mac n cheese

Made a big pot of “lazy black beans“, and then accidentally got caught up blogging and burnt the bottom. 🙁 I still put them in the fridge, we will see if they’re salvageable.

lazy black beans on the stove with onion and orange

Tuesday:

Breakfast – Leftover biscuits from the tea party warmed up with some strawberry jam.

tea party biscuits with jam

Lunch – I made this black rice and radish salad, with a few differences. I added lemon juice and zest to the dressing, laid it all over a bed of torn kale, and added thin sliced cucumbers.

herby black rice and radish salad

Snack – Then after lunch I had a triple chocolate brownie (from last weekend’s 3/3 party) and it was heaven. If this isn’t your definition of heaven I don’t want to know how you define it, and probably don’t want to go there.

triple chocolate brownie

Dinner – I made some crispy baked tofu for myself and ground turkey for the boy, and we had Taco Tuesday! My tacos were a little smoky but I figured it was from the fire…

tofu Taco Tuesday

We lit up a fire in the backyard and ate outside. It was still super chilly, but really nice. I can’t wait for it to warm up so we can do this more often.

fire pit in backyard

Wednesday:

Breakfast – Waffles with strawberry/OJ sauce. I just microwaved a cup of cut up berries in about 1/4 cup juice and poured it on.

waffles with strawberries

Lunch – Leftover chili and mac n cheese mixed together

leftover chili and mac n cheese

Snack – Finished the beet hummus and some veggies

beet hummus and veggies

Dinner – Sooooooooo I made a big batch of black beans… and today I tried to eat them with stir fried veggies and rice.

I choked down part of a bowl because I’d already dished it out, but the burnt flavor was just too much. I had to throw out a whole pound of cooked black beans, and my heart broke a little  🙁

burnt black beans

I had a follow-up bowl with the rest of the tofu and more rice.

black bean rice bowl
And yum-yum sauce, because, YUM

Thursday:

Breakfast –Roasted sweet potato with white beans. I loved this combo last week, but for whatever reason I took 2 bites and just could not…

roasted sweet potato with white beans

Snack 1 – good thing I had a granola bar in my lunch bag

peanut butter granola bar

Lunch –The last bit of leftover chili mac, and leftover Black Rice & Radish Salad. I’m glad I had double the lunch since I had such a lackluster breakfast appetite.

leftover chili and mac n cheeseleftover black rice and radish salad

Snack 2 – I did also make a bunch of kale chips yesterday, so I packed up the half I didn’t immediately inhale for an afternoon snack

kale chips

Dinner – I had no idea what to make, so I made refrigerator soup! It’s basically when you just pull everything out of the refrigerator and toss it together with some water to make soup. I added the sweet potato and white beans I couldn’t finish, plus some rice, some of the tofu, and other veggies.

refrigerator soup

It’s different every time, and a great way to use up bits of leftovers so you don’t have to throw them away. The boy said that with extra chilies and hot sauce it wasn’t even that bad!

Friday:

Breakfast – Great Grains cereal with Almond milk. Yet again, a cereal the boy requested, and I’m the one eating it. 😀

great grains cereal

Lunch – In cleaning out the fridge, I found out that I’d hidden a few pieces of the spinach artichoke pizza! So I dug those out to finish it off. I also had 2 lonely beet veggie burgers hanging out, so I nommed those too.

leftover spinach artichoke pizza

Things came up at work, so by the time I got back to my desk it was after 3pm. I was ravenous, and never more happy I had double the lunch than this moment.

beet veggie burgers

And now I can almost see the back wall of the refrigerator! Time to cook something…

Dinner – Stir Friday! I made my oven baked tofu and topped a stir fry of frozen veggies and extra odds and ends for a tasty, frugal meal.

crispy tofu stir fry

 

The Weekend

My sister and her friends were in Florida this week for their spring break. Since I’m halfway-ish on the drive back to Ohio, they asked to stay at our place to save on a hotel. Of course I said sure! So we will have 5 20-somethings in our house on St. Patty’s Day! Hahaha we will see how us old folk fare, if we can still hang. 😉

green beer
Please forgive me for drinking food coloring! Its only once a year I promise.

We got all the fixings for Shamrock Shakes! Not as healthy as the one I made a few years ago, but definitely tastier!

shamrock shake

Plans beyond Saturday morning? Sleep. Sit. Read. That’s pretty much it. 🙂 Well, maybe start some sweet potato slips.

 

Food Total: $122.81

Ugggggggghhhh… this was a death by a thousand cuts. No one thing was super expensive or put me over budget, I just went a little party planning crazy.

When I was looking up tea party recipes, I kept finding more and more sandwiches and sweets that I wanted to make! I ended up with five different kinds of finger sandwiches! FIVE!

But… you know… they were all delicious, and everyone seemed to really like trying one of each kind to see which was their favorite. So I can’t be too mad. At least I had plenty of tea so I didn’t have to buy any of that.

Harris Teeter

Dairy $15.43 Staples $20.92 Fruit/Veg $18.56
Sliced cheese 5 5.98 Almond milk 2 3.94 Lemons 1lb x2 4
cream cheese 0 Pancake mix 1.99 Pears 2 1.46
Goat cheese 3.99 Cereal 2 5 Pineapples 2 1.94
Quart half and half 1.47 Blue agave 9.99 Baby carrots 2 1.68
Fage Greek yogurt 0 Strawberries 2 quarts 4.98
plain Greek yogurt 3.99 Mini cukes 6 1.99
Kale 0.99
Bananas 6 1.52

Harris Teeter has email coupons just for eVIC card holders. I always check because there is usually at least one free or very marked down item that we use. This week the Fage Greek yogurt and cream cheese were totally free. Which is great, because the finger sandwiches needed cream cheese.  🙂

I admit, the blue agave syrup was a total splurge. We have started using agave as our main sweetener for tea, oatmeal, etc, rather than sugar. This was a HUGE bottle, marked down $3. So I went for it.

Kroger

Staples $23.48 Fruit/Veg $15.97
Tofu 2 3 blueberries pint 1.78
clif bar (should be free) 1.5 avocado 6 4.14
tortillas chips wtf also should be free 1.29 markdowns red bell peppers 2 0.99
buffalo sauce 0.89 markdowns yellow squash 3 0.99
hot pepper sauce 1.09 organic dill 1.99
green and red curry sauce 4.98 radishes 1.29
Hot pepper sauces 6 6.58 markdowns Serrano peppers 0.99
burger buns 0.89 markdowns apples 4 0.99
bread loaf x2, rolls 2.27 Mushrooms quart 1.99
French bread loaf 0.99 Roma tomato 4 0.82

At Kroger, they do Freebie Friday deals, and I usually wait a few weeks to get several at once. The tortilla chips and Clif bar were included, and I would not have bought them if not free, but they didn’t ring up.

I noticed once I got home and was filling in my spreadsheets… but is not quite $3 worth going back to the store to fight over? Probably not. Just very annoying.

 

Lessons Learned

More ugggggh… I hate food waste! Hate it. And having to toss a huge batch of my favorite frugal food (black beans) kills me. Plus it throws off my plan of eating black bean breakfast tacos, and beans and rice for lunch. So this week was a bit of a scramble. I plan to do better next week.

I’m considering doing intermittent fasting for a bit, due to my weird dislike of breakfast lately. I used to be a devoted fan of breakfast for many years. Now it seems like nothing sounds good, and even when it does, I take a few bites and then am over it. I don’t want to waste food, that’s for sure. So maybe my body’s just changing in my 30s, and trying out not eating until a little later in the day will help.

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?