Tag Archives: party

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?

Post 300! — Walmart Party To Go

 

WOW how time flies! This is my 300th published post on this blog.

I am amazed that it has kept up, and even gotten better over time. Thanks to all you wonderful people who continue to read, comment, ask questions, and make suggestions. I am always looking for ways to better serve my readers, so if you ever have something you want to see here or know about, please shoot me an email (budget epicurean (at) gmail (dot) com). Again, thank you!

In other news…

A while ago I was contacted by media representatives for Walmart. The company offers a delivery service for anything you order online, called Walmart To Go. Now they are expanding it to the Denver area, and wanted some locals to try out the service and see if it was a good fit for their lives.

I decided to throw a dinner party. Some friends of mine I hadn’t seen in a long while had had a baby, another had just successfully defended his thesis and was awarded a PhD, and another was the only remaining member of our first year class who stayed in PhD school.

Not to mention it is the holiday season, when we want to surround ourselves with joy and make happy memories with people we care about. All these reasons are reasons to party!

Disclaimer: The food and decorations for this party were provided by Walmart.

Walmart to go truck

I was given a set budget, and challenged myself to come up with the nicest-looking decor and spread as I could on that budget. If you have followed my blog at all, you know that is kind of my thing. I usually am a bargain-hunter with food, but for all other items this would be a challenge.

After I placed my order, I simply waited. The delivery person gave me a call 15 minutes ahead of time to let me know he was on the way. I appreciate that in case you were just about to shower, on the phone with a parent, taking the dogs for a walk, whatever, you know when to expect a knock on the door.

He showed up right on time, with several bags full of goodies. I did not know that the delivery persons are not allowed to enter your home. They must hand your bags through the door to you. That makes sense for everyone, safety first, and they don’t want to accidentally break anything inside the house by knocking it over with a full bag.

IMG_6928

So Thursday night, my kitchen floor covered in food and decorations, I had about 20 hours until the party, and felt mostly prepared already.

You can see that a $100 budget gets you quite a lot of food! I shopped smart, and chose non-name-brand items mostly. The ravioli were $2.79 per bag, all salad fixings were about $6 total, garlic bread for just over $1 per piece.

The large olive oil, beans, and rice cost about $10, but will make tons of meals! A simple beans and rice for a side, or with the frozen broccoli thrown in to make it a meal, and that $10 can turn into 50 cents or less per serving.

IMG_6931

The decoration budget netted: 5 strings of lights, 5 light-up candy canes, light hooks, a rope light, a big red bow for the front door, a wax melter, and a nice tablecloth. The original plan was one light-up reindeer and 2 light-up trees, but I think we ended up with a lot more bang for our buck this way.

photo 2 copy 3

The light-up candy canes were adorable, but they do have a limited stretch of wire between them. If you want more than a foot between each one, you will also need some small extension cords.

photo 1 copy 3

My boyfriend is nuts, and thinks climbing around on roofs is a fun hobby. He didn’t use a ladder, just jumped right up there and started clipping lights to the gutters. All told, it probably took about 2 hours of work the morning of the party to decorate, inside and out. We did run out of lights, and had to go get one more strand.

photo 4

The finished product came out really well, I’m very happy with how it looks! You can see our two terriers in the door there wanting to come outside with me.

The food budget covered: cheese and beef ravioli, tomato and alfredo sauce, 2 loaves of garlic bread, spinach, romaine, broccoli slaw mix, ranch and Italian dressings, fruit dip, apples, bananas, strawberries, an apple pie, green tea, beans, frozen broccoli, olive oil, and rice.

I also added in paper plates, napkins, utensils, and wet wipes and spray cleaner for after the party. (You can see in the corner of the photo my homemade draft stopper! This thing is awesome in the winter to keep the chill from the garage out)

photo 1 copy 2

This is proof that you can eat healthy foods on a budget as well. The two apples, strawberries, one pear, raspberries, and dip all cost less than $10 and made a lovely platter with more left over.

photo 4 copy

I took the black silverware and wrapped them in white napkins. Then cut 1 inch strips of crepe paper and wrapped it around the bundle for color. Red, green, and white to go with our holiday theme. Boyfriend asked, are we saluting Italy?  =)

photo 3 copy 3

The smaller red plates I put on top of larger white plates, which matched the beige tablecloth on top of a red one. The table has extra leaves, and when stretched out it is too long to fit just one tablecloth. Good thing we had the extra-long red one too!

photo 3 copy

The wax melter in the background made the room smell like cinnamon, and the red candles on the table were a nice centerpiece for now. On to the cooking part!

photo 3 copy 2

I boiled all the pasta ahead of time, and then kept it warm in the oven on low. We had beef ravioli and five-cheese ravioli. I also made a box of penne because we had several kids coming and I wanted to be sure there would be something everyone would eat. Sauteed asparagus with Italian dressing was a nice hot side dish.

photo 1

Everyone fit just perfectly in this cozy dining room, and there was plenty of food to go around. People loved having the choice of beef or cheese, and which sauce to use. I was proud of my friends for how much of the salad was eaten too!

We actually had so much food that the rice and the bean salad were not needed. And I totally forgot about the garlic bread! No one seemed to mind, and now I have that for a future party.

photo 2

We did have one bad experience, halfway through the meal one friend of mine was cutting her ravioli and the fork broke right in half! Luckily the box has more than enough extras so it wasn’t a huge deal. But just know these plastic utensils have a breaking point, and it’s pretty low.

All in all it was a lovely night. We had a great time catching up with each others’ lives, and everyone said the meal was delicious. I ended up with plenty left over too! The delivery eased the stress of having to go to the store, though I ended up having to run out once anyways (for penne and extra lights) but that happens. You can’t plan for everything all the time.

I think I would use this service again, especially for big parties which are planned ahead of time so I know the menu. For everyday cooking, I like physically going to the store, seeing what is on sale, and creating meals in my mind. I’m going to plan another party in a few weeks, for my birthday, and we will see how that goes!

If you want to try Walmart Grocery To Go yourself, click on this referral link: Walmart Grocery To Go.