AsylumMom

Life on the inside. I've been sentenced 18 years to life and The Wardens are doing their best to drive me even crazier.

Archive for the tag “cooking”

The Guru – Love Each Ingredient and Never be Afraid to Experiment

For the first introduction in this mini-series, I’d like you to meet The Guru- aka, my step dad. It just so happened that his birthday was last week, so he will be first.

The Guru married my mom several years ago and she will freely admit that he’s the best thing that happened to her life (since I was born of course, not that I have an ego or anything…) and he happens to be one of the best things in my life as well. Often times, people mistake us for biological father and daughter because I am very much like him in many ways, and one of those ways is with food. He has helped me grow in my love of cooking simply by loving it himself and being willing to answer any (and I mean any) questions I may have about food. He knows a lot about obscure ingredients and how to use them so when I have an odd question or see an ingredient I don’t understand, he’s my lifeline.
The Guru got his name from first, his personality and because he likes the word “guru”, but secondly because he seems to have a sense about cooking. When we visit my parents, he usually makes all of the meals and when he does, you can watch him prep each ingredient with care. Carrots are peeled and chopped, dried herbs in large, exotic-looking bags are measured and sprinkled, garlic is crushed, meat is trimmed, bones are saved for stock and peelings are composted. He truly strives to waste no piece and I try to do the same.
The Guru taught me some very important lessons for the kitchen. First, love each ingredient. This means that you try and cook starting with the most basic form of each ingredient and work your way up. You buy your ingredients with care, store them with attention, and use them where they will be noticed. He keeps many things minimal so that the individual flavors can shine through. His meals even rival most restaurants I’ve tried, by a long shot!
Second, he taught me to never be afraid to experiment with flavor. Whether in the kitchen while preparing, or out at a restaurant. Never be afraid to try something new. The worst case scenario would be that I didn’t like it and he would finish it for me anyway. Often, he will look at a recipe, read it over, get an idea of what he wants, and then he will just use instinct. This actually drives my mom crazy because if she ends up liking the recipe a lot, sometimes he can’t recreate it because he doesn’t know the exact measurements that he used. It can get quite comical, really.

So, The Guru is kind of a free spirit in the kitchen, which is also funny because his outward attitude is a very convincing cover of someone that is the exact opposite of a “free spirit”. Don’t let it fool you. He’s really quite fun and interesting to be around, and if you ever doubt the colors you just thought you saw behind his eyes, just try the stew. You’ll never doubt them again.

Cooking from Scratch (Finally)

Happy Birthday! Thursday, August 15, was my mom’s birthday. My mom lives 8 hours away from me so I didn’t get to see her. However, my brother lives 5 minutes away and was going to visit her this weekend, so, I decided to bake her a surprise birthday cake and send it with him! As you can guess, I made the cake, and icing, from scratch! OF COURSE! Haha. So, this is the most recent example I can give of how cooking from scratch is cheaper.

20130819-104021.jpg

Sorry for the horrible photo. It’s too bad the cake didn’t really survive the trip to my mom. All the roses melted off of the sides! It was in AC the whole way but Texas heat can’t be reasoned with. My mom said it tasted great though! So that’s all that counts I suppose. I was still sad about my roses, though they weren’t much of a loss considering I kind of messed them up anyway. Ha! Anyway, on with the math…ugh.

For me to have baked this cake from a box mix,it would have cost about $16.00:

(These are rounded off to make this easier)
Boxed cake mix: $3.50
2 tubs of icing: $5.00
Milk/eggs/oil for cake mix: $2.00 give or take.
Raspberries for the raspberry filling: $4.00
Purple gel food coloring: $1.00

Or if I bought it from the bakery, probably around $20.00 right?

Here’s what it cost me to make from scratch, with items I keep on hand because I like to bake often.

Cake, recipe can be found here, I cut the recipe in half to make a smaller cake (two 6″ rounds instead of two 9″ rounds)

Cake Flour: $4.00 per 2lb box, I used 1 1/8C = approximately $1.50
Milk: $4.00 per gallon, I used 1/2C = about $0.12
Eggs: $3.00 per 18ct carton, I used 3 = about $0.50
Almond Extract: $2.00 per 2oz bottle, I used 1tsp = approximately $0.16
Vanilla Extract: $2.00 per 8oz bottle, I used 1/2tsp = approximately $0.02
Granulated Sugar: $7.00 per 10lb bag, I used 5/8 C = bout $0.25
Baking Powder: $3.00 per 10oz can, I used 2tsp = $0.10
Salted Butter (sticks): $2.00 per 4 stick box, I used 6tbsp (3/4 stick) =$0.75

Icing and raspberry filling. Recipe for icing can be found here, I doubled it to make filling and have extra. The filling was about 1/4 of the total icing, with fresh raspberries and 1tsp of raspberry extract added.

Salted Butter (sticks): $2.00 per 4 stick box, I used all 4 = $2.00
Confectioners Sugar: $3.00 per 2lb bag, I used 6 C = about $4.50
Vanilla Extract: $2.00 per 8oz bottle, I used 2 Tbsp = about $0.25
Milk: $4.00 per gallon, I used 3Tbsp. = approximately $0.19
Fresh Raspberries: $4.00, I used about 1/4 of the bag (approximately 1C) = $1.00
Raspberry Extract: $2.00 per 2oz bottle, I used 1tsp = about $0.16

So my total, from scratch, was $11.50! That’s cheaper!

Now, aside from my cake costing less, I now have all these ingredients on hand, which means I can bake any time I want and it will all be cheaper unless it requires a lot of a special ingredient.

Now, I’m not here to tell you “and knowing what goes in my food is priceless” (even though it is) because you may be like my husband. In his eyes, he doesn’t care if it’s healthy or not, if it doesn’t cost less, then it’s not worth it. So we are JUST talking bottom line here.

But the beauty of cooking from scratch is when you meal plan with it. Meaning, plan for meals with similar ingredients and your money will go further! Now, I also bake bread from scratch. Ingredients are flour, yeast, salt, and water. It ends up being less than $1.00 per loaf! Where at the grocery store, you may pay $2-3.00 per loaf with all kinds of preservatives in it!

How about actual meals? Well, a favorite of mine is pork fried rice done the lazy way. We mix pork chops that I’ve sliced up, rice, and frozen mixed veggies to make a meal that all 4 of us eat WITH enough leftovers for lunch the next day. Wanna take a guess at the cost? About $5.00. FOR TWO MEALS! Now, buying fried rice as takeout or in those handy little microwave cartons is what, around $4.00 per carton? Times 4 people equals $16.00, times two meals equals $32.00!? I’ll take $5.00 over $32.00 ANY DAY. And guess what? Yup, there’s pork chops, rice, and mixed veggies still in my kitchen waiting to be used on another meal.

Am I making any sense yet or do you need more math? I hope not. I hate math. Haha! But seriously, the budget that the wardens has put me on is pretty tight, but their appetites keep expanding, so I’m having to learn how to save every penny I can. I hope to have an expansive vegetable garden one day to cut even more costs from our grocery bill, but that’s not an option at the moment so I will stick with learning how to cook from scratch in preparation for when I DO have one.

Good luck to all of you! I hope I can help at least one person save money!

Shopping Results and What to do The First Day – Month Under $300

I’m finally here! I know I’m late but I can finally take the time to write up this post. And prepare yourself, it’s going to be a doozy.

To start things off, my shopping trip yesterday. I have included my receipts below and I know the totals are higher than expected, but let me remind you, this bit is about groceries. My receipt includes other household needs (like dish soap and toilet paper). Therefore, I have marked out the things that weren’t groceries but left the prices. Below each picture I will put how much I spent on food or food related items and then will give you my total. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I forgot to get the receipt for the gas but I spend $63.00. This amount would bring my total cost slightly above $300 for the day, but, it was well worth it.

First, I went to Walmart.

Walmart, trip one: $208.53

These trips costs also include the cost of formula for Row, and some snack items for B. Such as hot dog weenies, a box of packaged animal crackers, a box of packaged fruit snacks, and some Nutella to trick them into eating breakfast. There are also some extra veggies and fruits there to make baby food with. Those things weren’t on my shopping list from my previous post but I needed them for The Wardens. My total will still be under $300.

Sam’s, trip two: $66.09

After deducting the unrelated items, I added the two together to get a total of:

$274.62!

 

Now the fun part can begin!

After you get home with your groceries and you have taken the thirty minutes (or more if you have stairs or are alone) it takes to lug it all into your house, you can start putting things away or setting them aside. My trip lasted late yesterday so I simply put my meats on the bottom shelf of my fridge until morning. I put away the things that were already frozen and the dry or other cold goods. This morning, I got up and got ready to take care of the longest and most complicated day of this process. I promise the other days aren’t nearly this difficult!

A quick look at my tiny pantry trying to look organized without busting at the seams:

Teeny-tiny pantry

Teeny-tiny pantry

First, I got ready to separate and pre-prep the beef related meals. The bag meals for the Teriyaki Chicken and the Stew can be found in a link in yesterday’s post. I don’t have to explain those here. And you can scroll past the part where she talks about the shopping lists and such, we took care of that part already.

The other beef things called for certain amounts of beef per recipe. Because I want to save money, I buy my beef in the largest packages I can. Which just so happen to be 5lb rolls.

10lbs of beef

10lbs of beef

So, in order to get the meat I needed, I made a short list on a scrap piece of paper to take to the kitchen with me.

4lb – Goulash

2lb – Shepherd’s Pie

2lb – Spaghetti

2lb- Meatballs

Then I grab a sharpie, some gallon size freezer bags, plastic wrap, and get ready to go. (I use plastic wrap and plastic bags for several reasons; you can re-use the bags later, the wrap makes it easier to separate the meat, and double wrapping prevent freezer burn.)

First you need to label your bags. I only used three and labeled one “Goulash-4lb”, another with “Shepherd’s Pie-2lb and Spaghetti-2lb”, and the third with “Swedish Meatballs-2lb”

Because I plan on prepping the meatballs, I don’t care how the meat is. And because I want to keep my beef easy to package, I want to others to stay in rolls. This means that I cut about 1lb (don’t worry about being exact! Just guess about a fifth of the roll) off of the end of one roll to create my 4lb package for my Goulash. Wrap that is plastic wrap and toss it in your labeled bag. Make sure to squeeze the air out. It’s easy, just roll it!

4lbs for Goulash!

Next, you take the other roll and do the same to the end of it! That gives us our second pound for the meatballs and leaves us with 4lbs. Now cut that in half. Wrap each of those rolls and put them in your Shepherd’s Pie/Spaghetti Bag. Easy-peasy!

The two 1lb ends for the meatballs.

The two 1lb ends for the meatballs.

Easy-peasy!

Easy-peasy!

Then comes the fun part. Take the two 1lb ends and dump them in a large bowl. Throw in some seasoning (whatever you like), some bread crumbs if you want, an egg, and anything else you think you might like.

It's not an exact science!

It’s not an exact science!

Then, mix it all up until it’s nice and even. I used my hands. (Yes, they were clean, I wash them before and after every handling because meat is slimey.) You can use a spoon if you like but I’m from the south and here, cooking is hands on. Once it’s mixed well like this…

…we can start making our meatballs.

Meatballs! Meatballs!

Meatballs! Meatballs!

And yes, I used my hands for those, too. They aren’t perfectly round because I didn’t measure or use an ice-cream scooper. Just use your hands! It will all be fine! When we are done with this, we can put them in their own bag and place them in the freezer! Make sure to lay them flat first so they don’t get squished. But once they are frozen you can move them. When I’m ready to cook with them, since this recipe has been doubled, I can just break off half and thaw them and use the other half when I’m ready!

Freeze flat!

Freeze flat!

Finally! We can clean up our mess from the beef. Make sure you clean everything really well because we are working with the chicken next. However, because chicken is SO NASTY (in my opinion), I just got in and got out. I didn’t stop to wash my hands just to take a picture. So, unfortunately, I only have an end result for you. However, I will explain how I got there.

Once again, I made a list of what I needed for each bag.

4 breasts – Teriyaki

6-8 breasts – Spanish Chicken

6 chopped fine – Quesadillas

4 chopped – Alfredo

And once again, label the bags. I only used 4 bags (two for each of the Teriyaki and Spanish chicken) and used plastic containers for the chopped ones. You can go to the previous post for the Teriyaki recipe. The Spanish Chicken recipe is also in a link in the previous post, however, I made it a freezer meal so here is what I did:

First, I trimmed the breasts of any extra fat. Then I placed them flat in the bag (4 in each). I then poured the enchilada sauce, taco seasoning, and about a half a cup of shredded cheese per bag. After that, I added in a half a can of drained and rinsed black beans to each bag and a half a can of whole kernel corn to each because I had some spare in my pantry. When I’m ready to cook it, I will thaw it about halfway and then dump it into my stew pot and cook on a medium heat while stirring (and adding a little water as needed) until almost fully cooked and then will turn the heat to low and allow it to sit until the chicken is easy to shred. This will then be served with soft tortillas and Spanish rice! (You can use your crock pot, this was originally a crock pot recipe. I don’t have a crock pot anymore/at the moment so I use a stew pot. Because I’m home all day, it’s fine. I just stir it more often.)

After that is done we can trim and chop the other breasts for the last two meals. Here are the end result containers of chopped chicken. Notice the two together are a darker color and chopped finer. This is because I seasoned them with cumin and paprika and a little season salt because they are going into my quesadillas and we like our tex-mex spicy in my house. The other container is for chicken alfredo, though, and therefore was seasoned much more lightly and chopped into larger pieces.

Tex-Mex Style

Tex-Mex Style

For the Alfredo

For the Alfredo

 

Whew! Finally! I can put this all away and go do something else! I had dinner with family tonight so I didn’t actually cook which means no recipe tonight, darlings. But, alas, I fear you might gladly accept that! A recipe added to all this mess would just be entirely too much. Tomorrow I have church and then possible lunch with Dad’s family that may even turn into dinner. If it’s late at night  before you hear from me again then you can bet it was a good day. But I WILL post again. I have to give my weekly roundup and weekend recap!

So until then, goodnight!

 

Menu, Shopping List, and Some Information – One Month of Food Under $300

The way I start my plan for the coming month is I sit down and make a list of meals that my family often likes or that anyone requests. After I have my list, I go through and weed out any that may require some special or random ingredient that could be more expensive, unless I have a reason for that certain meal (like company). I end up with list of meals that looks something like this: (P.S. this is my actual menu for the month of February)

1) Texas Goulash – x2&Freeze (4)

4lb ground beef, 4 cans of corn, 4 cans ranch style beans, 4 boxes mac-n-cheese, 2 cans rotel.

2) Chicken Spaghetti – x2&Freeze (4)

1 whole chicken(or 6-8 chicken breasts), 2 can cream of chicken, 1 small box velveeta, 2 cans rotel, spaghetti noodles shredded cheese

3) Stew – Freezer Bag (2)

1 green bell pepper, 2 onions, 2 cans corn, 1 bag baby carrots, minced garlic, 3 lbs beef stew meat, 2 6oz can tomato paste, paprika (noodles)

4) Teriyaki Chicken – Freezer Bag (2)

1 bag baby carrots, 1 red onion, minced garlic, 4 chicken breasts, 1 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce (served with rice)

5) Spanish Chicken –x2 Freezer Bag (4)

6-8 chicken breasts, 2 cans enchilada sauce, 1 bag taco seasoning, shredded cheese (served with tortillas and Spanish rice)

6) Shepherd’s Pie – x2&Freeze (4)

2lb ground beef, 2 cans green beans, 2 cans corn, 1lb potatoes, 2 cans ranch style beans, shredded cheese

7) Swedish Meatballs – Pre-prep Meat (2)

1lb ground beef, 2 cans mushroom soup, 1/2lb potatoes

8) Spaghetti – x2 for lunch (2)

2lb ground beef, spaghetti noodles, 2 jars spaghetti sauce

9) Quesadillas – x2&Pre-prep Meat (2)

6 chicken breasts, 1 can rotel, 1 can cream of chicken, shredded cheese, tortillas

10) Chicken Alfredo – Pre-prep Meat (2)

4 chicken breasts, noodles, 1 jar alfredo sauce

11) CrockPot Corn Chowder – x2&Freeze (4)

6-8 potatoes ,1 Can cream corn, 1 Can whole kernel corn, 2 Cups chicken broth, 4 chicken breasts, 1 onion, 1/4 Cups butter, 2 cups half and half

12) Frozen Pizza – 2 (2)

13) Chicken Strips – David’s (10)

I know that looks a little daunting but I will decode it in a moment. First, I need to give you some links! A few of these recipes have come from other blogs.

The Stew and Teriyaki Chicken come from the Melissa Fallis Test Kitchen where I tried all 5 of the recipes last month. The only one I personally didn’t like was the BBQ chicken. I’m only using two this month but they were really good and she gives amazingly detailed instructions!

The Spanish Chicken was something I stumbled upon on pinterest and I have hopes of adapting it to a freeze and dump meal just like the Stew and Teriyaki Chicken. The link is from a blog called “Healthy Food”. It doesn’t really show a recipe, but like I said, I’m just going to wing this one. I cook with chicken a lot so I’m sure this will be pretty easy to pull off.

Finally, the Crock Pot Corn Chowder was another I found on pinterest (most of my newer recipes are) and I haven’t tried it yet. This one is entirely new to me so be prepared for updated comments after I make it! The recipe comes from a website called “CrockinGirls” and since it’s something new, I haven’t yet explored their site, but the food looks great so I have high hopes!

Now, to decode my list (that is, if you haven’t figured it out already). I’ll use an example below:

2) Chicken Spaghetti – x2&Freeze (4)

1 whole chicken(or 6-8 chicken breasts), 2 can cream of chicken, 1 small box velveeta, 2 cans rotel, spaghetti noodles shredded cheese

On top, where it says “x2&freeze”- that’s where what I mentioned yesterday comes in. This simply means that I double the recipe and freeze half. Simple enough right? Now the number out to the side means how many meals this will last my family total. Therefor, My chicken spaghetti will have half in the oven and half in the freezer. When I pull the one out of the oven, Dad, myself, and B will all eat it for supper(and Row will share with me because he doesn’t eat very much). Then, it will get covered, and reheated as lunch the next day. Totaling 2 meals (Supper and Lunch) from 1/2 of the recipe. The second half will be the same way when I decide to use it again. Am I making sense? Ok. After that is pretty self explanatory  It’s how I compile my shopping list! I write out what I need to make the meal below each one so that when I’m ready to make my list I don’t have to try and remember everything, I just count it up!

After I have completed that step, I take a break. Ha! Seriously though, it makes your hand hurt! When I’m done with my break, I count everything up and make my shopping list. It’s really long but don’t let it scare you, remember, it is going to last me the entire month. And to make it as clear as possible, I mean I don’t ever go back for “something fresh” or whatever. I will have everything I need for every recipe. I don’t put spices down in my list unless I know for sure that I don’t have it and if the recipe calls for a lot or if it’s vital. Many spices I just fake with what I have because the recipe is still good if I use “Italian Season Blend” instead of “fresh cilantro” and “fresh basil”. I promise. It’s fine. In my grocery list below, I actually have quite a few of the ingredients on hand and therefor they won’t be on my receipt tomorrow, but I’m putting them on this list for you anyway.

Item #
ground beef 9lb
canned corn 10
ranch style beans 6
mac-n-cheese 4
rotel 5
whole chicken 1
cream of chicken 3
velveeta 1
shredded cheese 3
green bell pepper 1
onions 5
bags baby carrots 3
minced garlic 1
beef stew meat 3lb
6oz tomato paste 2
paprika 1
chicken breasts 26-28
teriyaki sauce 1
rice 2
canned enchilada sauce 2
bag taco seasoning 1
large soft tortillas 20
spanish rice 2
frozen green beans 1
potatoes 3lb
cream of mushroom 2
spaghetti noodles 2
spaghetti sauce 2
penne noodles 1
alfredo sauce 2
cream corn 2
chicken broth box 1
stick butter 1
half and half 4
Digorno frozen pizza 2
box of frozen chicken strips 1

I am cheating a little with the last two items. Those are for lunches on days when things are busy or Sunday dinners because we are often not home until late on Sundays. But I promise, it’s not going to hurt my budget! Also, I need to add that there are more things on my actual shopping list but they aren’t relevant to this segment about the cooking. They are just household items everyone needs. I will be “editing” my receipt to exclude those items from my total tomorrow, however, I will be including my cost in gas, just to prove that this one trip is well worth it.

Also, yes, you saw that correctly, I’m buying 9 lbs of ground beef and nearly 30 individual chicken breasts. These are things I often buy in bulk at Sam’s and I separate and freeze them at home. Because I like to do a lot of my meat prep before I freeze it, this works just fine for me. For instance, in my menu you will see next to “Chicken Alfredo” that it says “pre-prep meat”. This simply means that I will take the chicken breasts, clean and trim them, then dice them to size for the recipe and put them in a bag or container, then I will season them with a few things before I freeze them. This means that when I am ready to cook, I can thaw it out in the fridge over night and dump it right into the pan without ever having to actually touch the meat more than once. I hate handling chicken so I like cooking like this much better.

 

Okay. Now for the shopping trip.

As I mentioned yesterday, I get a babysitter for this, and yes, it is absolutely necessary. I have two kids under the age of two and I’m going shopping for a month’s worth of food. I’ve tried to take them before. It was a disaster. It took me nearly five hours and by the end of it Row was screaming at me and B was trying to eat all the packaged food. There was not enough room for both of them in the cart so I had to carry Row with one arm while using to other to simultaneously push the cart, grab items, and keep B out of the products. So, I repeat, Babysitter. After I drop The Wardens off with their grandparents, I load my cooler up in the back of my suburban (we have a really large cooler and I still don’t have enough room sometimes), fill up with gas and off I go! Once I get where I’m going I make two stops. I usually shop at Walmart and Sam’s. (Please don’t judge me for this! They are my best options where I am.) I go to Walmart first, since the majority of my Sam’s purchase is usually cold or frozen. I use a shopping list app on my phone (ShopListFree for iPhone) that sorts my grocery list into categories. This makes it easier once I’m in the store to know where I need to go and to get everything in one trip without walking around like a chicken with its head cut off. All of this is very important so that the trip takes a minimal amount of time and I don’t miss anything. Remember, I won’t be going back. Getting everything is important. If you are doing this because of your schedule and not your location, then it may not be as big of a deal, but I know there are many people that live in rural areas like I do and have to shop this way. Lists are important.

It usually takes me about and an hour and a half to two hours just for my Walmart run. And after I check out, I take everything back to my car and arrange it so that none of it can slide or break, putting the cold or frozen goods in the cooler with a bag of ice. Don’t forget the cooler if you have to drive as far as I do. Trust me. After you finish your second run for the bulk items, then you can finally go home! I usually stop and get myself a reward from a fast-food place, because we don’t have any at home, and enjoy it on my trip back.

 

I hope that this wasn’t entirely too confusing for any of you! I know it’s a lot of information to take in, but I promise it will be easier to understand once I start posting the recipes as I make them instead of all at once. You will see just how truly easy it is!

I can’t wait to post tomorrow with the proof that this really works!

P.S. I almost always have food left over at the end of the month just because of those random meals out with my parents or Dad’s family that come around! Yay!

Intro to: “Feeding my Family of 4 for a Month Under $300” (Also D6 & D7)

Today will be short because it’s only an introduction to something I will be working on over the next week or so.

If you have read my “about” page, you have seen that I live in a tiny town with no options for shopping (at least not within a limited budget) and I might add, we live an hour from any other decently-sized civilization. If you haven’t read my “about” page, go now!

Did you go? Good, now we can really start. All of this may leave you wondering, “Well, how do you afford the gas to go grocery shopping? Wouldn’t that break your budget?”, to which my answer would be, “Yes, it would, especially since I drive a Suburban. But I don’t go grocery shopping often enough to cost me too much in gas.”. At this point you are staring at me like I’ve lost my ever-loving mind. I mean, really, how the hell do I not go grocery shopping!? I’ve got kids to feed!

Okay, let me clear things up. I said I don’t go grocery shopping often. Not that I never go. I go once a month.

That’s right! One day a month, I get a babysitter (yes, it’s necessary), put my big ass cooler in the back of my suburban,  grab my shopping list, and off I go to do my grocery shopping for that entire month. In fact, this introduction is coming right now because I’m going for the month of February on Friday! Yay! Isn’t that just perfect timing? It’s almost like I planned it…

How do I do this? Well, I buy everything I need for the entire month in one trip (the only thing I don’t buy is milk because we get that at the convenience store as needed) and that means I need to have the entire month planned out, to the day, to the meal, to the second!….Right?

WRONG

Wrong? Yep. I don’t have my menu planned for each and every day. I do, however, have a menu. This is what I will be posting tomorrow as well as my shopping list. I make a list of meals that my family likes. I then double or triple them as needed. I do a lot of freezer meals but I’m pretty lazy so that means I like to do things the easy way. I use easy recipes and easy methods. I figure up how many times one batch of food can feed us (I do a lot of leftovers for lunch) and shop accordingly.

One of my favorite examples is when I make chicken spaghetti, I double my ingredients  then I assemble one in my 9×9 baking dish and another in a foil catering dish (I bought 20 of them with 20 lids for around $10 at Sam’s). Then I place one in the oven, and cover the other and put it in the freezer! It’s that easy. When I’m ready to eat it, I get it out the morning of, place it in the cold oven (so it’s not taking space on my counter tops) and by the time I’m ready to bake it, it’s thawed out! Easy-peasy.

With that in mind, you can come back tomorrow to find my menu for this month as well as my shopping list for Friday. Then, Friday evening, I will post a copy of my receipt so you can see the proof! After that, I will be posting the recipes as I make them (screw that cooking once a month thing, I go with the flow!) and I will be posting the instructions on how I save them for later and how I go about re-heating them! This should be fun!

As a side note, I’ve been doing things this way for about 4 months now. I looked into many variations before I kind of stumbled into this method that works well for me. I understand that most people don’t live this far from a grocery store and that’s fine. But I do. And I have to keep my family on a VERY tight budget. This was the best way for me to do it. Another way this would help someone is any parent with a schedule too busy to shop often or think about meals every day could easily chose one day a month to shop and spread the work out accordingly. It really is a flexible plan!

 

Now! For D6 and D7!

D6 said “from some place low”….

A shot of my son's toy shelves in his room.

A shot of my son’s toy shelves in his room.

D7 said to take a picture of fruit… this will have to do.

I didn't have any fresh fruit (or fake for that matter) on hand so my smoothie raspberries would just have to be good enough.

I didn’t have any fresh fruit (or fake for that matter) on hand so my smoothie raspberries would just have to be good enough.

Baby Friendly Recipe (That My 2-Year Old Also Loved!)

The other day my friend, Joanne, posted a recipe on facebook that caught my interest. It seemed easy enough and was really open to adaptations. Here is my version of what she made based on what I had left over in my freezer and pantry.

Fast and Light Baby/Toddler Meal

Ingredients:

*You don’t have to be exact on these and you can substitute just about anything! Have fun with it!

5-6 baby carrots- cut either into small rounds or thin slices (I did slices)

1 1/2 c baby twist noodles

frozen vegetables of choice (I had about 1/8 c of mixed veggies and some sweet peas that I used)

a pinch of salt

2 tbsp olive oil (or butter)

1 tsp cilantro (her original recipe called for pesto but season it however you want!)

1/4 c Orange-Ginger marinade or sauce

about 2 c water

Get out a small saucepan. Add water, salt, and olive oil/butter to pan and bring to a boil. Throw in the carrots and set the timer for 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes are up, add the frozen vegetables (I ended up adding around 1/2 c total) and the baby twists. Set the timer for 5 minutes. When the timer is done, remove the pot from the heat, add cilantro, cover, and let stand for 5-10 more minutes or until everything is soft. Drain and rinse with cool water twice. Gently stir in the Orange-Ginger sauce. Serve!

This recipe made enough for me to feed both B and Row as well as store two more small bowls in the fridge for later.

Warden-Approved!

Warden-Approved!

Give it a whirl! My kids loved it and it was so easy to make. I made it according to what I had on hand and to accommodate B’s lactose intolerance. Joanne’s original recipe called for pesto and a soft cheese in place of the cilantro and the marinade. She also used corn instead of peas. But really the idea is the same: carrots, noodles, small frozen vegetable, seasoning, sauce, and you’re rolling! Tell me what you thought or variations you tried!

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