Today was one of those days where I needed something easy to prepare and to the table in a flash. Autumn is upon us and it made me think of good old-fashioned creamy tomato soup and toasted cheese with red grapes for dessert. Nothing fancy about this meal but I sure didn’t hear any complaining. I used 1% organic milk in the soup and whole wheat bread with extra fiber for the sandwiches. The cheese is light American, but not organic. Sometimes you have to pick your battles. In this case I’m talking about the battle with price and availability of certain items.
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It was a comfort food mood tonight. We enjoyed pork chops fried with onions and peppers, spicy jack scalloped potatoes and zucchini and summer squash. Not what you would call healthful, but it’s time to clean out the pantry and freezer as we are embarking on a two week experiment starting Friday, September 6. We’ll be switching over to mostly organic and cutting out red meat and processed foods. We’ll see how much better we feel after that detox.
When life hands you leftover taco ingredients…make a salad. Let’s face it. Leftovers are boring. So what do you do when faced with perishable ingredients that just aren’t going to keep for a few days and leftovers from the previous night in the frig? Instead of wasting your hard-earned dollars that went into buying those ingredients, find a way to reinvent the dish.
There are those who don’t mind a repeat performance, but then there are those who just despise leftovers or simply have a hankering for something new and different each day. For the later crowd, spruce up what you already have and it’ll hardly be like eating leftovers at all, whether it be tacos turned into a salad or leftover chicken or turkey dinner fixins morphed into a gourmet chicken sandwich or “waffle”. You’ll have to stay tuned for that one.
It may seem like a contradiction but I beefed up our tacos by using less beef. An addition of dark red kidney beans and corn added nutrition by way of fiber and antioxidants, and reduced the amount of meat we ate without even noticing. It’s a great way to save a little off of your grocery bill too. Beef is becoming more expensive, even the ground variety. We enjoyed these with a scant sprinkling of a Mexican cheese blend, baby leaf lettuce, fresh, juicy tomatoes from the garden, and our very first batch ever of homemade salsa.
Shave off some fat and calories by using ground turkey or chicken. Just make sure it’s skinless ground breast meat you’re buying or you could be eating just as much fat as in ground beef. We used 90% ground beef here.
The sabbatical has ended.
What a better way to begin than to share some of the frugal and healthful things we’ve been consuming. That seems to be the number one complaint I hear since I’ve stopped posting. “I miss seeing what you’ve been cooking!”
Coleslaw is cheap to make, even if you buy the bag of shredded veg on sale. Make your own low-fat dressing or buy a low-fat version. It gets better as it sits in the frig and is an easy and delicious side dish to serve with many different kinds of meals.
A more healthful spin on a family favorite, using ground chicken breast and packed full of veg. There has to be more than a serving of veg in this sandwich.
Chock full of fiber with beans and bulgur wheat. Lean ground turkey was used for these spiced up meatballs.
Chicken and onions sautéed with Marsala wine. This meal only took minutes to prepare. We used leftover spaghetti and a nice green salad to round out the meal. Use up those leftovers!
This dish was a spin-off of something I saw Jamie Oliver create on his 15 minute meals. If you think you can’t get a nutritious and quick meal on the table you need to watch a couple of his shows about this concept. Couscous only takes minutes. Utilized your food processor to help you with the veg. Homemade Tzatziki is a delicious and refreshing treat.
These were a splurge but pine nuts are good for you. If you’re going to eat sweets why not get a little “nut”trition why you’re at it. It’s also a bonus to share traditional ethnic recipes with your children.
Fresh from the garden stuffed peppers. Stretch your meat of choice by adding whole grains and vegetables to your stuffing. Comfort food at its best.
Enjoy! There’s a lot more to come.
I’m finding myself at the end of this pantry challenge hosted by Jessica of Good Cheap Eats. I have to say that I’m ready to be done with it. Searching for sales is a passion of mine, and although I did a little during this challenge, I didn’t accomplish what I usually do. It was a nice break from major coupon clipping, organizing and shopping though, and did save us some money.
Here’s our menu for this last week…
Sunday – Stuffed pork chops, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas
Monday – Panko, Parmesan, and Italian seasoned baked chicken breasts with olive oil and garlic couscous and Brussels sprouts.
Tuesday – Cube steak “cheese steak” sandwiches, oven fries – regular and sweet potato
This is my aunt’s idea and very delicious.
Wednesday – oven baked fish, potatoes, salad
Thursday – Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pies, pickles, wedge salad
My daughter and future son-in-law made this special supper for us. They love to cook together and he feels it creates more of a bond than just going out to eat for a “date night”. I think it’s absolutely wonderful. I used the last of the pretty, colorful bell peppers on our salad as we did not have any tomatoes.
Friday – Old Country Buffet with extended family
As we had to head north anyway to drop future son-in-law off at college we figured we’d head north another half hour and enjoy a family outing. My bonus son (a.k.a step son, but we never use that particular title) has been inquiring when we might visit that particular restaurant again. We used to take road trips and take the children there once in a while when they were young. It’s nice to know that they enjoyed it and look forward to those family outings.
Saturday – Tatertot Casserole, broccoli
Next month will be a month of soups. I don’t plan on having soup at every single supper meal, but, we will be enjoying soup three to four days a week with a few meatless soup meals planned in as Ash Wednesday is on February 13 and will be the beginning of the Lenten season.
We’re still plugging away at this pantry challenge here at the frugal and healthful house. Here’s our week of dinner menus. Be sure to check out Good Cheap Eats. Jessica who is hosting this pantry challenge has tons of great ideas and encouraging words.
Sunday – Pizza
Monday – Sausage and bean soup.
A very yummy soup we make quite often with pantry and freezer staples. It’s even better as leftovers because it gets thicker and yummier.
Tuesday – Wicked Chicken Rigatoni
These were too beautiful to pass up for the price so I planned to use them for the Rigatoni dish as well as the Chicken ala King, with the remainder chopped into salads and the Shepherd’s pie meatloaf base.
This recipe was adapted from an episode of triple D (Diners, Drive Ins and Dives)…one of our favorite shows. We kicked it down a notch by not adding the chili peppers. Sautee a third of three colorful bell peppers or one pepper of your choice, a small chopped onion, three cloves of garlic, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried basil, cayenne and crushed red pepper to taste in a little olive oil. Brown 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast pieces cut up in olive oil until done. You will need to boil your rigatoni according to package directions and drain right before serving. To your pepper mixture add a 28 ounce can of tomatoes. You can use whole and break them up and a small can of tomato paste. You may also use your favorite spaghetti sauce. I was looking for a more rustic dish so I used Wegman’s kitchen cut tomatoes. Add a 1/2 cup of grated Romano cheese. I also added a couple teaspoons of Spatini. Allow your pepper and tomato sauce mixture simmer for at least 30 minutes and up to 90 minutes. Combine your chicken and sauce. Serve over the rigatoni. Sprinkle with additional cheese.
Wednesday – Dinner out utilizing a gift card left over from the holidays coupled with running errands. Be mindful when planning to run any necessary errands. Make a plan and save some gas.
Thursday – Chicken a la King
There is also some of that beautiful red bell pepper chopped up in there. I also added the traditional jarred red pimentos..but later in the recipe.
This was something new I’ve never made before. It was a little labor intensive, but worth it. We decided it’s a favorite and will be added to our meal plans often.
Friday – Leftovers
Saturday – Shepherd’s Pie and salad
This was another recipe adaptation from a triple D episode and was more of a favorite meatloaf recipe topped with a brown gravy, corn and finally mashed potatoes. We decided we were in need of some comfort food on this lazy Saturday. I also had help in the kitchen which was a nice treat.
I’d say we ate pretty good this week with a nice combination of fresh ingredients and pantry staples.
I know it sounds like a contradiction, but I still do some shopping when we are trying to eat from the pantry. Of course I do not spend anywhere near what I would normally spend during a month of not participating in a pantry challenge.
This week I shopped at Aldi and Wegmans. I find Aldi is a great place to save without having to use coupons. Coupons are usually great, but at times when I sift through my coupon box I may end up seeing a few close expiration dates and buy things I don’t necessarily need. That is a fine practice if your goal is to stock up and not survive on what you have. Wegmans is my favorite go to store for meat deals. I can get boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.99/lb and ground beef for $2.19. It is the cheapest and nicest looking quality meat in my vicinity.
Here’s what we ended up with for a 2 week shopping trip:
$.10 white bread (I know. I couldn’t believe it either. I should have gotten a few loaves to throw into the freezer but didn’t.)
$.49 wheat bread
$1.39 2# carrots
$1.29 large bunch celery
$2.99 3 multicolored peppers
$.99 3pk scrubber sponges
$1.30 2 cans sweet peas
$.49 can creamed corn
$.98 2 cans french cut green beans
$.99 large ripe pitted olives
$1.39 shells and cheese
$5.52 8 canned pasta (My daughter chose this for lunch options and as a Saturday night supper option. We enjoy this private label item better than the brand item.)
$.49 tomato soup
$1.18 2 cans bean with bacon soup
$1.29 dog biscuits
$.69 some sort of chocolate filled cookies on clearance from the holidays. They looked like those expensive yummy pepperidge farm cookies. Guess what! They tasted like them too. I guess if you are going to give in to an impulse purchase…make it something that’s decadent and costs under a dollar?
$.65 evaporated milk (I made this purchase to help us not to have to run to the store if I’m almost out of milk for a recipe.)
$11.94 6# boneless, skinless chicken breasts
$13.58 a little over 6# ground beef
$1.99 2# Mayan sweet onions
$49.73 Grand total
We used a holiday gift card to purchase dog food, cat food and cat litter this week. The best part of this shopping trip was the use of the gift card to take care of pet items and the fact that I purchased the club pack of meats to get the cheaper price. It may seem counter productive during a pantry challenge, but we were low on meat and I’ll stretch that meat to last for the entire month. I love a challenge.
A look at the week ahead…
Sunday – Ham Pot Pie and applebutter bread
We had a lot of left over ham in the freezer from the holiday. This is one of my husband’s favorite ham dishes. Made from scratch pot pie noodles make it extra special.
Monday – Oatmeal Pancakes, lean smoked bacon, clementines
These pancakes are favorite and very filling. The bacon in the freezer was left over from a recent anniversary trip to Lancaster, PA, one of our favorite destinations. We’re easily peeling a seedless clementine as a sweet dessert to this breakfast supper.
Tuesday – Louisiana sausages with beans and cornbread
A while back I had some coupons combined with a great store deal for different kinds of sausages. These are the last to use. To help make things more healthful we’re eating a small amount of sausage and pairing them with beans and cornbread.
Wednesday – Leftover Ham Pot Pie and applebutter bread
Thursday – Parmesan crusted Tilapia, roasted potatoes, peas
Fish is a nice addition since we seem to be “swimming in a sea of pork” this week.
Friday – Toasted cheese and tomato soup
This week we needed to switch around a couple of days at the end of the week due to company coming on Saturday, so it’s canned soup on Friday night. It’s meatless night too, and I shouldn’t hear any complaints as we’ve been consuming some very flavorful meat this week.
Saturday – Sausage and bean soup and garlic bread rolls
This is a recipe my dad shared with me right before Christmas. This is already the second time we’ve made it. He even shared some homemade Italian sausage so I could use it for the soup. It’s so good that my daughter’s boyfriend went back to college and made it himself to take for his lunches after having it for dinner at our house. It’s that good.
Stay tuned later on in the week for some photo updates and recipes.
Here’s a couple of last weeks dishes. Both of these comfort food suppers were a big hit. We ate the lasagna rolls before I got a chance to take a picture. How embarrassing! I guess they were good. Saturday we ended up out of town visiting with Husband’s brother. As a bonus we used a gift card we received as a Christmas present to enjoy a dinner out.