Archive for the ‘Homemaking’ Category

Spring/Summer 2020 Menu Cycle Week 1, Take 1

May 27th, 2020

After four weeks of having meals brought to me by the lovely ladies at my church, I took over full responsibility for our meals again last week. And since my last menu cycle was definitely a winter cycle and our weather is definitely NOT winter weather anymore, it’s time for a new menu cycle.

So, here’s our Spring/Summer 2020 Menu Cycle, Week 1, Take 1.


What We Ate:

Sunday, May 17

Skillet Lasagna, Green Beans, Green Olives, and Berry Delicious Gelatin Salad

Skillet Lasagna, Green Beans, and Berry Delicious Gelatin Salad

Monday, May 18

Crockpot Orange Chicken with Vegetables over Rice, and Pineapple Chunks

Crockpot Orange chicken with Vegetables over Rice, and Pineapple Chunks

Tuesday, May 19

Tuna Melts, Copycat Popeyes Coleslaw, Potato Chips, and Mixed Fruit

Tuna Melts, Copycat Popeyes Coleslaw, Potato Chips, and Mixed Fruit

Wednesday, May 20

Ham, Rosemary Scalloped Potatoes, Kaleslaw with Myrtle’s Salad Dressing, and Pears

Ham, Rosemary Scalloped Potatoes, Kaleslaw with Myrtle's Salad Dressing, and Pears

Thursday, May 21

Salsa Chicken Burritos, Mandarin Oranges, Corn

Salsa Chicken Burritos, Mandarin Oranges, Corn

Friday, May 22

Chef Salad with Sourdough Rosemary Peasant Bread

Chef Salad

Saturday, May 23

Chicken and Broccoli Gravy over Baked Potatoes with Fresh Strawberries

Chicken and Broccoli Gravy over Baked Potatoes with Fresh Strawberries


At this point, the question is…how much did this cost us? Well, let’s take a look:

What I Spent:

Friday, May 15

Walmart Pickup $92.67 $32.94

Walmart Grocery Pickup 2020.05.15

Monday, May 18

Sam’s Club Pickup $11.48

Sam's Club Grocery Pickup 2020.05.18

That’s $104.15 $44.42, which definitely falls within my weekly budget of ~$125. I think I’ll take it :-)

As I re-read this post, I thought $92 looked pretty high for the paltry groceries I got from Walmart – and that’s when I realized that I’d listed the cost of the next week’s grocery order instead of the one from Week 1. Oops!

Recipe: Berry Delicious Gelatin Salad

May 23rd, 2020

I grew up in the ’90s, when church potlucks and family gatherings never lacked an abundance of jello salads, packed with all sorts of fruits and marshmallows and Cool Whip held together with bright artificially colored and flavored (and all-so-not-artificially-sweetened) Jello.

Now, it seems that Jello has fallen out of favor, at least among my circles – and, in truth, I’m not generally a fan of the nutritional content of the “just-add-water” sweets we consumed as kids (jello, Koolaid, Tang, etc.)

But I do enjoy a good fruit-filled jello salad, and so I’ve tried to come up with ways to approximate the salads I grew up with – except without the uber-sweet, artificially-flavored Jello.

Enter Berry Delicious Gelatin Salad.

Berry Delicious Gelatin Salad

  • 1 envelope Knox gelatin
  • 1 cup grape juice, divided (you may also use 1/4 cup frozen grape juice concentrate and 3/4 cup water)
  • 1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries (frozen or fresh)

Place 1/2 cup of cold grape juice (or 1/4 cup frozen grape juice concentrate and 1/4 cup water) in a bowl (I always just use the rectangular Pyrex I serve the gelatin salad in). Sprinkle Knox gelatin over liquid and let sit 1-5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat other 1/2 cup of grape juice (or water, if you’re using grape juice concentrate) to boiling in microwave. Pour boiling juice or water into gelating mixture and mix until gelatin is all dissolved. Mix in blueberries and strawberries. Chill salad in refrigerator until set, generally 3 hours or more. Serve by itself or with freshly whipped cream.

Recipe makes 3 cups of jello – just enough for six half-cup servings. This can be multiplied without difficulty.

Weeds that bite

May 22nd, 2020

I took the compost out yesterday during the kids’ naps; and, as I returned to the house, I decided to go ahead and pull just a few weeds on the bed at the north of the house.

A half an hour later… I was still at it.

And I discovered a weed I hadn’t yet met.

Meet catchweed bedstraw.

Catchweed bedstraw

See what catchweed bedstraw did to me?

What catchweed bedstraw does to me

It bites.

What I Spent/What We Ate (2020.01.12)

January 14th, 2020
What I Spent:

Monday, January 6

Sam’s Club $18.23

Sam's Club trip (2020.01.06)

Walmart $51.55

Walmart Trip (2020.01.06)

Thursday, January 9

ALDI $43.90

Aldi Trip (2020.01.09)

Saturday, January 11

Daniel ran by Walmart to pick up an extra gallon of 1% milk for $3.32

Sunday, January 12
Since I haven’t gotten back into a bread-making groove, we dropped by Panera and picked up a loaf of oatmeal bread for with our soup – but I’m counting that in our “dining and entertainment” budget instead of grocery because I feel like it :-)


That’s $117, which is comfortably under my current budget of $123 per week.


What We Ate:

Monday, January 6

Roast Pork, Fried Apples, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roast Pork, Fried Apples, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Tuesday, January 7

Orange Chicken with stir-fry vegetables over rice, pineapple chunks

Orange chicken with stir-fry vegetables over rice, pineapple chunks

Wednesday, January 8

Pork, Green Chili, and Bean Enchiladas with Corn and Lettuce Salad

Pork, Green Chili, and Bean Enchiladas, Corn, Lettuce Salad

Thursday, January 9

Barbecue Beef over Rice, Broccoli, and Berry Gelatin Salad

Barbecue Beef over Rice, Broccoli, Berry Gelatin Salad

Friday, January 10

We had a long day at the end of a long week and I didn’t feel like cooking. So I didn’t. We ordered pizza instead.

Saturday, January 11

Great Grams’ Spaghetti, Lettuce Salad, and leftover Berry Gelatin Salad

Great Grams' Spaghetti, Lettuce Salad, Berry Gelatin Salad

Sunday, January 12

Lunch: West Virginia Soup with Buttered Oatmeal Bread (from Panera) and Cheddar Cheese Slices

West Virginia Soup with Buttered Bread and Cheddar Cheese Slices

(not pictured)
Supper: Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese with Frozen Vegetables (I don’t remember what kind) and grapes


This represents the first week of my new winter menu cycle – and I managed to get several recipes of Orange Chicken, a pan of enchiladas, a recipe of Great Grams’ Spaghetti, and a recipe of West Virginia Soup in the freezer, which should make things easier for the next time around (and maybe will mean I’ll have time to write up the recipes for here on the blog – well, a woman can hope!)

Recipe: Mother Wilder’s Baked Beans

April 15th, 2019

Daniel had fond memories of his grandmother’s baked beans – but every time he had tried baked beans from a can or a restaurant, he was disappointed.

A wife has two options when faced with such a problem. She can see it as a challenge and set out to make some baked beans her husband will love – or she can assume she can never win and just opt to not make baked beans.

I chose the latter.

Until February of 2015 when I decided to cook my way through Farmer Boy for Barbara’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge.

Baked beans, cornbread, stir fry veggies, and peaches

I made baked beans using Mother Wilder’s technique – and Daniel liked them quite a lot.

Since then, with only a few modifications, I’ve been making them almost every month.


“In the pantry Mother was filling the six-quart pan with boiled beans, putting in onions and peppers and the piece of fat pork, and pouring scrolls of molasses over all. Then Almanzo saw her open the flour barrels. She flung rye flour and cornmeal into the big yellow crock, and stirred in milk and eggs and things, and poured the big baking-pan full of the yellow-gray rye’n’injun dough.

‘You fetch the rye’n’injun, Almanzo; don’t spill it,’ she said. She snatched up the pan of beans and Almanzo followed more slowly with the heavy pan of rye’n’injun. Father opened the big doors of the oven in the heater, and Mother slid the beans and the bread inside. They would slowly bake there, till Sunday dinner-time”


Ingredients:

  • Ham bone with some meat still on bone
  • 8 oz dry Great Northern beans or navy beans
  • Water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 0.75 cups molasses
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 0.25 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke

Instructions:

  1. Stick ham bone and beans in crockpot. Cover with water and cook (on low or high, doesn’t matter which) until beans are soft (I usually start mine in the morning and let them cook on low until mid-afternoon – but you can do it on high in as little as four hours.)
  2. Beans, beans

  3. Remove beans from crockpot with slotted spoon. Place in a casserole (I use a 9″x9″ or 9″x13″ baking pan) along with onion, green pepper, and any ham you can pull from the bone and chop up (If I have extra, I sometimes add diced ham that didn’t get cooked with the beans.)
  4. Molasses plus garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and liquid smoke

  5. Mix together molasses, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and liquid smoke in a 1 cup liquid measure. Pour mixture over beans. Give one more good mix.
  6. Beans with onions and peppers and "scrolls of molasses"

  7. Bake at 350 (or 400 if that’s what your cornbread needs!) for 30-45 minutes or until just a bit crispy on top. Serve and enjoy!
  8. Baked beans, cornbread, and coleslaw

What I Spent/What We Ate (2019.04.12)

April 12th, 2019

After a rather excessive week last week, buying meat for several months, I toned things back this week. Just the necessities (mostly).

What I Spent:

Friday, April 5

Walmart – $4.19

The aforementioned coffee (that I didn’t have a receipt for last week).

Tuesday, April 9

Sam’s Club Pickup – $5.18

Sam's Club 2019.04.09

Walmart Pickup – $36.81

Walmart 2019.04.09

Fruit can be an expensive item, but eating a combo of fresh, canned, frozen, and dried fruit can help you get your minimum 2-3 servings daily for a little less. We generally eat one fresh fruit, one canned fruit, and either a frozen or a dried fruit every day. I get seasonal fruit when they’re in season – which is why our recent selections have been rather boring.

Friday, April 12

ALDI – $39.85

ALDI 209.04.12

Do you see the six pounds of butter back there? ALDI had butter for $1.99 per pound, which is about $0.40 less per pound than the cheapest I usually see it (with no sales, it often runs close to $3 per pound). So I got the limit as per last week’s meat post. I keep a couple pounds in the fridge (butter has a relatively long refrigerated shelf life) and put the rest in the freezer for later use.


That’s $86.03, which is $21.97 under my newly jiggered budget of $108 per week.

So…
Week 1 – $156.79 ($48.79 over)
Week 2 – $86.03 ($21.97 under)


What We Ate:

Saturday, April 6
Breakfast – Pancakes and scrambled eggs with canned peaches

Supper – Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese, Peas, Spinach Salad

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese, Spinach Salad, Peas

Sunday, April 7
Lunch – BBQ Pork sandwiches, Potato Salad, 3 Bean Salad

BBQ Pork with Three Bean Salad and Potato Salad

Supper – Leftovers

Monday, April 8
Ham, Pineapple, Maple-Mustard Glazed Carrots, Broccoli

Ham, Pineapple, Maple Mustard Carrots, and Broccoli

Tuesday, April 2
Eggs Benedict with Grapes and Tater Tots (I intended to make hashbrowns with this but only remembered after it was much too late to get hashbrowns started.)

Eggs Benedict, Grapes, and Tater Tots

Wednesday, April 10
Black Beans and Rice (I modified this recipe to use a crockpot instead of a pressure cooker.)

Black Beans and Rice

Thursday, April 11
Great Grams’ Spaghetti, Lettuce Salad, and Green Olives

Great Grams Spaghetti with Lettuce and Olives

Friday, April 12
We’ll be having chef salad tonight with leftover ham, shredded cheddar, boiled eggs, green onions, and peas.

What I Spent/What We Ate (2019.04.05)

April 5th, 2019

What I Spent:

Sunday, March 31

Walmart – $13.36

Apples and coffee from Walmart

I needed apples for the apples’n’onions I had been promising the kids we could have with our pork (I really DO love that they want to do everything they read about!) so we dropped by Walmart after church to get some – and some extra coffee since we were on our way to out. We have since determined that we are not fans of Seattle’s Best – this particular one tastes burnt and overly acidic.

Tuesday, April 2

Sam’s Club Pickup – $7.46

Sam's Club Pickup 2019.04.02

Walmart Pickup – $79.07

Walmart Pickup 2019.04.02

Thursday, April 4

ALDI – $135.90

ALDI finds 2019.04.04

And this is where I realize I should explain something. My budget isn’t actually $115 per week. It’s $123 per week – except that I subtracted $8 per week to spread the quarter of beef I bought last fall out over the whole year. You see, one of the wonderful things about not living paycheck to paycheck is that I can stock up on things when they’re inexpensive. I can go way overbudget one week and then make it up in other weeks without decreasing food quality. In fact, we can actually eat better and afford more that way.

Which is why I bought almost 55 lbs of meat this week.

Meat from ALDI 2019.04.04

We just started a new menu cycle – one that includes ham and pork roasts once a month. ALDI sells a shank ham for $1.19/lb, nearly $0.40/lb cheaper than Walmart’s cheapest ham – but ALDI only has ham some of the time. In order to ensure that I can be eating the less expensive ham for the entirety of my spring cycle, I bought two hams today and stuck them in the deep freeze (I already have a ham for our first go-round in the fridge.) And those pork roasts? It just so happens that shoulder roasts were one of ALDIs fresh meat specials this week. I bought a couple (enough for the rest of this cycle) at $1.49/lb.

The family pack chicken breasts were another fresh meat special this week – $1.69/lb. I bought two family packs and plunked them in the crockpot as soon as I got home. As soon as they were cooked through, I cut enough up for Friday’s chicken salad, then shredded the rest with my hand mixer in the crockpot’s crock. Then I portioned the meat into containers and stuck them in the deep freeze too. I’ll pull them out and use them as needed – it’s likely they’ll get me through a couple of menu cycles.

The Italian sausage is for Great Grams’ spaghetti sauce, which I’ll be making next week. And, of course, I’ll be making a second batch to stick in the freezer for the second time through the menu cycle.

So, especially once I consider the beef that was already in the freezer from last fall’s quarter, I now have most of the meat I need for the next three months of meals – all of it (except the Italian sausage) at less than $2 per pound, some significantly less. I spent a lot this week and went way overbudget – but ultimately, this allows me to stay within my budget all around.

I realize that not everyone has this luxury; but for those who do have wiggle room, I think this strategy of intentionally overshooting your budget when you can get meat on sale is a good one. You just have to remember to adjust your weekly budget down from then on out to keep from just staying in a deficit.

In this case, I spent $79 on meat. I’m going to spread that over the next 12 weeks (which is how long I expect the meat to last before I have to buy more). So I’m going to decrease my weekly budget by $7 per week, making it $108 per week.

Now, to go further into the nitty-gritty, I’m going to take my $135.90 ALDI bill and subtract the $79 in meat. That’s $56.90. That’s how much I’m going to say I spent this week at ALDI.

Friday, April 5

We bought more coffee because we really did NOT like the Seattle’s Best stuff. We really, really need to make sure we buy enough coffee at the Spice Merchant next week!

Unfortunately, Daniel made this purchase and I don’t have the receipt for it (and it hasn’t posted to our account yet) – so I think I’ll just count it towards next week’s budget.


That’s $156.79, which is $48.79 over my newly jiggered budget of $108 per week. Ouch! I’m going to have to tighten the belt – but that should be easier to do (fingers crossed) now that I’m heading back to ALDI (cheaper prices on several things and less food waste from poorly picked produce at Walmart) and since I shouldn’t have to buy much meat.


What We Ate:

Saturday, March 30
Breakfast – Daniel bought us donuts to go with the eggs he made us. And we had fruit.

Supper – Dumplings and Kraut and Bratwursts (I think.)

Sunday, March 31
Lunch – Good question. Leftovers?

Supper – Quickpea Curry (made with this recipe from Taste of Home except that Daniel doesn’t like chickpeas, so we use cannelini beans. And I added some shredded chicken because we’re meat eaters. And I didn’t have enough curry powder the first time we made it so we use 1 Tbsp of yellow curry paste and just 2 tsp of curry powder instead of the called for 1 Tbsp of curry powder. And we serve it on quinoa instead of couscous. So, you know, basically the same thing all :-)

Quickpea Curry

Monday, April 1
Pork roast, apples’n’onions (from Farmer Boy, but which I burned horribly), and coleslaw

Pork roast, apples'n'onions', and coleslaw

Tuesday, April 2
Frittata with green beans and peaches

Frittata with green beans and peaches

Wednesday, April 3
Oven beef fajitas (made using the older version of this recipe by Budget Bytes except with beef instead of chicken), lettuce salad, and burrito beans

Beef Fajitas, lettuce salad, burrito beans

Thursday, April 4
Pizza, Three-Bean Salad, and Coleslaw

Pizza, 3 bean salad, and coleslaw

Friday, April 5
Chicken salad on lettuce with sliced oranges (I used this Dijon Chicken Salad recipe from Taste of Home. It was good but a bit bland.)

Chicken Salad on lettuce with Orange slices

What I Spent/What We Ate (2019.03.22)

March 22nd, 2019

A new baby in the house means I simplify, simplify, simplify – which for me means skipping any outings that require taking kids out of the car. So no ALDI and no library storytime. We pick up all our groceries instead.

Also, simplifying means very few pictures. Sorry folks!


What I Spent:

Sunday, March 24

Sam’s Club Pickup – $27.48

Sam's Club pickup 2019.03.17

Walmart Pickup – $64.26

Walmart pickup 2019.03.17

Walmart was out of the generic for my “unhealthy cereal” so I ended up with name-brand. Can you tell which one it is?


That’s $91.74, which is $23.26 under my budget of $115 per week. Hooray!


What We Ate:

Saturday, March 16
Breakfast – Daniel made us scrambled eggs and… pancakes? toast? I can’t remember

Supper – Beef Papriganoff over noodles with…some kind of fruit

I had peppers and mushrooms – so I mixed a recipe for beef stroganoff and one for chicken paprikash to make a hybrid – that we enjoyed quite a lot. I think I’m going to add it to my rotation on weeks where I’m buying mushrooms anyway.

Sunday, March 17
Lunch – Arbys on our way to pick up groceries

Supper – Daniel and I had a foster/adoptive parent dinner at our church
The kids ate Crockpot BBQ meatballs over rice with peas

Monday, March 18
Chipped beef gravy over cornbread with broccoli and peaches

Chipped beef gravy on cornbread with broccoli and peaches

Tuesday, March 19
Pot Roast (Beef) with carrots and potatoes

Pot Roast - really attractive, I know
I forgot to take a picture until after I’d eaten everything on my plate and was full. So this is what’s left on the platter after we’ve all eaten. Really attractive, I know.

Wednesday, March 20
Leftovers (since I was going crazy getting ready for our annual state licensure visit)

Thursday, March 21
Black beans and rice, lettuce salad, and cowboy caviar from our neighbor (who had extra)

Black beans and rice
This is an old photo of my recipe – this time I piled my beans and rice right on top of my lettuce, dumped a bunch of my neighbor’s homemade salsa on top and then spread the whole thing with ranch. Delicious!

Friday, March 22
We’ll have lasagna with a lettuce salad and some sort of canned fruit tonight.

What I Spent/What We Ate (2018.02.15)

February 19th, 2019

I’m late this week because we spent the weekend with Daniel’s brother and his family in the Kansas City area. We went up Friday morning (a little earlier than planned in order to beat a snowstorm), which meant I missed my usual ALDI trip. Which, given how much I spent on the front half of the week, was just fine as far as my budget is concerned :-)


What I Spent:

Saturday, February 9

Spice Merchant – $54.37

This was our coffee and tea for the month – we splurge because, oh my, this stuff is wonderful.


Tuesday, February 12

Sam’s Club – $45.63

Sam's Club pickup 2019.02.12

Walmart – $45.99

Walmart pickup 2019.02.12


That’s $145.99, which is $59.99 over this month’s budget of $86 per week. :-\

So…
Week 1 – $78.27 ($7.73 under)
Week 2 – $145.99 ($59.99 over)


What We Ate:

Saturday, February 9
Breakfast – Buttermilk pancake men (like Ma made in Little House in the Big Woods) with blueberries, and scrambled eggs (not pictured)

Pancake man with blueberries

Supper – Thai Red Curry Chicken served over rice – I don’t remember what else I served with it

Sunday, February 10
Lunch – Leftovers because we were too busy Saturday for me to make “Ella’s taverns” in advance

Supper – “Ella’s Taverns” (aka sloppy joes) with lettuce salad and corn salad

"Ella's Taverns" (Sloppy Joes) with lettuce salad and corn salad

Monday, February 11
Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Green Peas, and Canned peaches

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green peas, and canned peaches

Tuesday, February 12
Salsa chicken burritos, lettuce salad, and homemade (not)refried beans

Salsa chicken burrito, non-refried beans, and lettuce salad

And once I was done with my first burrito? I made a second plate as a salad, sans the tortilla

Salsa chicken and beans, this time on top of the salad

Wednesday, February 13
Lasagna, lettuce salad, and canned peaches (My fruit and veggie choices have been pretty uninspired this week!)

Lasagna, lettuce salad, canned peaches

Thursday, February 14
For Valentine’s Day, I made what is normally “Chicken and Broccoli Gravy over cornbread biscuits” a little differently.

Chicken and broccoli with biscuits - special for Valentine's day

We had it with banana pudding (special request from Daniel) and… more canned peaches.

Chicken and broccoli gravy with biscuits, banana pudding, and canned peaches

Friday, February 15
We traveled up to the KC area to visit Daniel’s brother’s family – I made some cheese bread for with dinner (but my sister-in-law cooked the main meal.)

What I Spent/What We Ate (2019.02.08)

February 8th, 2019

What I Spent:

Tuesday, February 5

Sam’s Club – $25.78

Sam's Club pickup 2019.02.05

Walmart – $25.85

Walmart pickup 2019.02.05


Friday, February 2

ALDI – $26.64

ALDI 2019.02.08


That’s $78.27, which is $7.73 under this month’s budget of $86 per week. Hooray!


What We Ate:

Saturday, February 2
Breakfast – Carrot cake pancakes with orange glaze, scrambled eggs, and grapefruit

Carrot cake pancakes with orange glaze, scrambled eggs, and grapefruit

Supper – Quickpea Curry over Quinoa, and grapes

Quick-pea curry over quinoa with grapes

Sunday, February 3
Lunch – We went to Red Robin just because!

Supper – Pizza casserole (made with leftover spaghetti and pepperoni), roasted balsamic brussels sprouts, and canned pears

Pizza casserole
Brussels Sprouts

Monday, February 4
Ham, Baked Potato, and Tropical Slaw

Ham, Baked potato, and tropical slaw

Tuesday, February 5
Beef enchiladas, corn chips with guac, corn salad, and homemade (not)refried beans

Beef enchiladas, corn chips with guac, corn salad, and refried beans

Wednesday, February 6
Penne with Sicilian sauce; a tossed salad with grapefruit, avocado, and green onions; and leftover Brussels sprouts and peas

Penne with Sicilian sauce, Grapefruit tossed salad, Brussels sprouts, and peas

Thursday, February 7
Mother Wilder’s Baked Beans, cornbread, stir-fry veggies, and canned peaches

Baked beans, cornbread, stir fry veggies, and peaches

Friday, February 8
I’ve got ham-potato-corn chowder in the crockpot – we’ll have cheese sandwiches and lettuce salad on the side.

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