Tag Archives: eating on a budget

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Two weeks of meals for your new year

11 Jan

meals-1

Happy New Year!

We are already ten days into the new year and looking ahead to Martin Luther King Day now. It doesn’t seem possible that we’re already halfway through January.

That being said, after the new year, it was time for us to get back on track with our weekly meal plans. Through the holiday weeks we were off our schedules completely. When school started up again we had a one week meal plan, so this is our first two week plan.

With a new plan comes the usual “all-call” to the kids, asking if anyone has anything they’re craving or wanting over the next couple of weeks. We had one kid down for the count with a virus, so she did not weigh in this time around. However, the other two both sent me recipes they wished to try this time. I was happy to see some new recipes on the list, and I am happy to report that of the two we’ve tried already, they were both well received and something we would make again.

We made our list of meals and did our grocery shopping, and I wrote out the recipes for the two new meals and stuck them on my kitchen cabinet. Both were recipes the kids had seen online and one was a video. I will link to them in the list below. There are other ones we are trying out that I will feature in a future post if they are voted into the rotation.

Here is our current list of meals.

meals-2Sunday: Italian Antipasto (a huge salad of sorts containing various meats and cheeses, tuna and hard-boiled eggs)

Monday: Two soups: Normally I don’t make more than one meal, but I made an exception here. We had planned our typical Chicken Escarole Soup with gluten free pasta, but Liz wanted to try out a new soup. I knew some of us would like it and some wouldn’t, but I didn’t want to eliminate it just because not everyone would eat it. I had a sick kid that could use the chicken soup, so I opted to make both. One was a crockpot soup, and I’d totally make it again. You can find the recipe for it here. A photo is shown above as well.

Tuesday: Mongolian Beef (this is a new recipe we have not tried yet).

Wednesday: Spaghetti with Tuna Sauce (see recipe here)

Thursday: Zucchini Shrimp Scampi: This was a great new recipe submitted by Caroline and again, everyone loved it. We got to use a new grating tool for the zucchini that made long spaghetti-like noodles. You can see this recipe here. A photo is shown below as well. We did add tomatoes to ours, and for a family of our size we would use six zucchini next time, instead of four. It was that good, with very little left over.

meals-3

Friday: Hamburgers and hotdogs, Quinoa Salad on the side as a request from Caroline, see the recipe here.

Saturday: Out for dinner

Sunday: Red Wine Crockpot Roast: We tried this recipe a few menu cycles ago, and absolutely loved it. Everyone loved it, which is often rare. We are adding it back in this time around.

Monday: MLK Day: Roasted Chicken Dinner

Tuesday: Paninis

Wednesday: Chicken/Broccoli/Pasta Saute (we usually make Wednesday a pasta night at this time of year because all three kids have a Wednesday night commitment and it allows us to cook early, eat early and eat quickly before we go our separate ways.

Thursday: Breakfast for dinner: Pancakes (another busy night meal we often rely on)

Friday: TBA

Hopefully this two-week schedule of meals will help to inspire your own menu planning. What’s on your menu for the upcoming weeks?

-Jen

 

Pumpkin Palooza…My grand finale: Here’s to friends and pumpkin pie cupcakes

24 Nov

I’m thankful for being able to stay connected to friends from “way back when” who are both near and far.

ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 16, 2012

I went to a high school outside of my hometown, with kids from all over my state and a neighboring state. Therefore, I met people there I would not normally have had a chance to meet, had I attended my local high school. Upon graduation we all went our separate ways, but we always tried to keep in touch.

At first we kept in touch by letters and the occasional phone call, but today with technology the way it is, we keep in touch by email and things like Facebook as well.

We’ve attended and/or been in each others weddings, we’ve visited each other when new babies were born, and gotten together when one or another of us were in town, visiting from wherever we had now settled, and even bumped into each other at the occasional swim lesson or scouting events. Each year though, at Thanksgiving, we try to get together to share a meal, whether it’s breakfast or dinner, just to catch up before another year goes by.

The photo here is last year’s picture after our Friday after Thanksgiving breakfast. We have another one scheduled for this year. Pictured here are high school friends Lia, Jenn, Nicole and I. We missed Bethany that year but she’ll be there this year!

A delicious treat!

My friend Nicole is in the fushia sweater, and today’s recipe was posted on Facebook by her, a couple of weeks back. I printed it right away but I only just got the chance to make it this week. She wrote that she’d made these pumpkin cupcakes by Baker Chick for all of the teachers at her school where she is the school librarian. I bet they loved them! I know I did! They got thumbs up from almost everyone here at our house, and I thought they were even better the second day; just like a slice of pumpkin pie in a cupcake wrapper!

The recipe states that these cupcakes puff up when cooked and then shrink back down, which is exactly what they did. Baker Chick also says that the fact that they shrink down is great because it gives you the perfect place to squirt some whipped cream, and she was right about that as well.

This was an easy recipe and didn’t take too long. I found my cook time to be slightly longer than the 20 minutes stated, but I just kept checking them every 2-3 minutes til they were done.

I hope you get a chance to try these out this week! Thanks to Nicole for sharing, I’ll see you soon! Thanks to Baker Chick for a great recipe!

Two bowls, simple ingredients.

PUMPKIN CUPCAKES
INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 15-oz can pumpkin puree

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup half and half

 

Cupcakes puff up when they’re first cooked….

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or silicone liners. *If using paper liners, lightly coat them with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and half and half until well combined.

Add in dry ingredients and whisk until no streaks of flour remain and batter is smooth.

Distribute batter evenly in the muffin tin. (they should be about 3/4 of the way full.)

Bake for 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan. (They will sink as they are cooling.)

Chill cupcakes before serving. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

…..and shrink down when cooled.

Makes 12

Happy Birthday Don and Alexandra!

23 Mar

So what’s the best birthday gift *you* ever gave someone?

ORIGINALLY POSTED MARCH 23, 2012

Today is a very special day.

Today is Alexandra’s birthday.

Today is also Don’s birthday.

That makes me the best wife ever because seven years ago for Don’s birthday at 1:22 am I gave him our third daughter.

I know, I know, best gift ever, right?! It’s hard to top that one though, so I don’t really try. I’m back to t-shirts, pajama pants and stuff like that for his birthday gifts.

Alexandra’s First Birthday 2006

Since sharing his birthday with his daughter, Don has been blessed with getting to have a Snoopy party, a My Little Pony party, a Dora party, a Purple party and this year…Hello Kitty. Technically they’re not his parties obviously, but you see what I mean.

Birthday crowns all around on Alex’s second birthday.

Thankfully, my parents have this neat tradition that they started with us where we celebrate the adult birthday parties at their house each year and we “kids” get to choose our meal and our cake. I choose….well I won’t tell you what I choose until it’s my birthday this summer. But Don chooses a totally opposite type of meal and cake than I would choose, so I guess it’s good that we each get a chance to choose our own, to choose what we like. Don chooses meatball sandwiches (made with my mom’s homemade meatballs and gravy) with lemon cake for dessert. It’s probably the only time all year we have it and he really enjoys it.

Therefore, today I thought I’d share with you the recipe for Don’s birthday cake of choice each year, the lemon cake. It’s really yummy, I particularly love the corners.

***********************************************************************************

LEMON CAKE

A cake *just* for Daddy!

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup water

2 beaten eggs

Duncan Hines Lemon Cake Mix

1 can lemon pie filling (divided)

DIRECTIONS

In bowl by hand, mix together oil, water, eggs, cake mix.

Add 1/4 can of lemon pie filling into the mix.

Put into greased 9×13 dish.

On top, distribute the rest of the pie filling.

Bake 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

When cool, glaze with:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar mixed with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice. Add a little hot water if necessary.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Taco Bake

4 Nov

This little “cookbook” is handmade from my college roommate, Karen, circa May 1993. I still cook from it!

ORIGINALLY POSTED MARCH 13, 2012

Last week during one of my posts I mentioned a cookbook that my college roommate, Karen had made me before we graduated URI back in 1993. Despite all our moves from state to state, apartments to house, that little booklet has traveled with me and several of our regular recipes have come from it. However, there’s so many in there that I haven’t made in years. Recently I pulled it out again, as I was specifically looking for a recipe for dinner that we hadn’t made in years, probably since before we had kids. It was a huge hit, so I thought I should share it here.

My family all likes Mexican food but I was getting a little tired of our alternating meals: tacos and quesadillas (even though they weren’t at all tired of them and could probably eat tacos and quesadillas day after day, I could not.) I decided to give Karen’s Taco Bake a try. It got four thumbs up. (And a thumbs down from Alex who said, “But I really liked the tomatoes Mom.”)

You don’t need a ton of ingredients for this recipe and I had everything on hand even though I hadn’t planned it in advance.

This recipe is all the things I like: quick and easy, one pan, and budget friendly. I had a pack of ground turkey in the fridge and everything else on hand in the house already.

KAREN’S TACO BAKE
INGREDIENTS

1 lb. Grd. Turkey or Beef

1 12 oz. jar of salsa (I had a 24 oz. jar, with about half left so I just dumped it all in.)

1 cup corn (drained if canned, mine is frozen)

1/2 cup mayo

1 Tbl. Chili Powder

2 cups crushed tortilla chips (I didn’t measure, but I put about half a bag into a ziploc and crushed them.)

2 cups Montery Jack Cheese (I used a block of cheddar)

I love how it first looks when you throw it all together.

DIRECTIONS

Brown and drain meat.

Stir in salsa, corn, mayo and chili powder.

Layer 1/2 meat, cheese and chips in a 2 qt casserole (I used a 11×7 baking dish)

Repeat so that cheese is on top of chips.

Bake 20-25 minutes until cheese is lightly crisp.

Top with shredded lettuce, tomato and sour cream.

My kids were so excited for this new meal, they couldn’t wait to try it out.

Now you could serve it on a plate as is, or as my kids like to do, you could throw it into a soft taco and wrap it up, with all the fixins’ and eat it that way. We had a little of both at our house; some on a plate and some in wraps. Either way….delicious.

So there you have it….another one of Karen’s famous recipes from my college years.

Enjoy!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Two weeks of meals…almost

30 Sep

Last week I saw the funniest post on Facebook, shared by a friend but originally from Modern Mommy Madness, and it reminded me of our weekly scrambles to get our meals planned and prepped. It made me laugh out loud, literally, and I instantly shared it on Facebook myself. We try very hard to stick to a budget and we try very hard to make a meal plan for two weeks at a time so that we can stick to that budget, but some weeks it is just so hard, and we’re just barely pulling some sort of meal together.  This graphic put the reality check right out there, and I loved it.

I'm pretty sure we all can relate. Don't you think so? My personal favorite is Friday's meal.

I’m pretty sure we all can relate. Don’t you think so? My personal favorite is Friday’s meal. Thanks to Modern Mommy Madness for keeping it real.

So this week, instead of two weeks of meal ideas for you, I’ve got ten. By the time we got our meal plan together and shopped for it, we were down to ten days instead of 14. I’d say I’d share with you the other four, but I barely remember what we ate last night, nevermind ten days ago. I think I do remember a lasagna and a shepherd’s pie in there somewhere, a chicken pot pie made an appearance as well, but for now, we have ten meals. The kids have been helping with the meal planning, putting in their favorite meal requests, which has helped us come up with two weeks of meals every time. Hopefully this list will help to jump-start your own meal planning for the next couple of weeks!

  1. Oven roasted chicken dinner, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce
  2. Fajitas
  3. California chicken (chicken sandwiches with melted cheese, avocado, and sprouts if desired)
  4. Homemade pizzas (we did Hawaiian, plain cheese with sauce, and BBQ chicken this time)
  5. Ravioli
  6. Sloppy Joes
  7. Chicken and Broccoli quiche (recipe here)
  8. Chicken and Mushrooms in white wine sauce (recipe here)
  9. Sweet and Sour Meatballs with egg noodles (recipe here)
  10. Pastene “soup” and Meatball sandwiches

#crosscountryadventure2015: What we’re eating and how we’re cooking it

21 Jul

20150711_192859Traveling in an RV is ultra-convenient for eating in because you have everything you need right at your fingertips, as long as you’ve stocked it beforehand with all of the things you use on a day-to-day basis. Over the three months before we took our trip, I kept a specific list of kitchen supplies we’d need to make any meals we cooked in the camper go off without a hitch. We made sure we had our go-to pots and pans, cast iron skillets, a toaster, and our counter-top griddle, which can be used inside or out. With those items, the needed utensils like spatulas, whisks, wooden spoons, and serving utensils, we were in good shape and able to make most of our favorites. We had a full kitchen setup, including a stove-top, oven, and microwave; just in a smaller space. We could do whatever we needed to do.

20150707_173725
20150630_103212Although we have eaten out a number of times over the three weeks, we make an effort to eat in if there is nothing special going on, or if we’re not in any unusual place where we’d want to try out a local eatery or food item. Our goal was to not have to eat out every single meal, every single day and we are doing a good job of keeping to that goal. We can even eat out of the camper at a rest stop on driving days, although we alternate between doing that and grabbing something to go, depending on what we have in stock in the camper. We also try very hard to utilize all our leftovers, whether we have cooked them ourselves or eaten out and taken something home. Our very first night’s meal back at Pohick Campground in Va., was leftovers that we’d taken right out of our fridge at home and taken with us so we’d be prepared that first night with something to eat.
20150720_201702This post contains some photos I’ve taken along the way, and a modified version of my usual “Two weeks of meals” post that I often do for you when we’re home. These meals were either cooked indoors or if we had outdoor cooking facilities, on a campfire.

20150422_193326
Dinners we’ve enjoyed:
Pulled pork sandwiches, with tomato/cucumber salad
Macaroni and Meatballs
Tacos and quesadillas
Hamburgers, hot dogs (see my previous post about our BBQ bacon, cheddar, turkey burgers) and Caesar Salad
Chicken breast with BBQ, bacon, tomato and cheddar with sautéed vegetables
Grilled cheese with soup
Chicken Parmesan and pasta

20150707_171330

20150712_095837Breakfasts we’ve enjoyed:
Eggs and bagels or English muffins (grilled or toasted)
Pancakes (plain, chocolate chip, banana)
French toast
Cereal, instant oatmeal, grits
Yogurt and fruit
Sides of ham, bacon, sausage

20150712_100644

Two weeks of meal planning

1 Jun
Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

It’s June 1!
We’re in the home stretch for the end of the school year; a busy time for us adults with our work in the schools and as parents of school aged kids, but also a busy time for the kids at school and in all their after school activities.

We can do it though, we’re almost there.

For us school ends on June 17 and for my husband’s district, it ends an entire week later, but at least the bulk of our family will be done with a lot of our stress by June 17.

I have not had a ton of extra typing time to devote to my blog, which is typical for this time of year, but to make up for it I’m going to share with you two weeks of meal planning ideas, just in case you’re as stressed in May and June as we are.

I hope that it gives you some inspiration for what to have for dinner over the coming two weeks.

TWO WEEKS OF MEALS

Day 1: Eggplant Parm with pasta and salad

Day 2: BBQ Ribs and Chicken with cole slaw, baked beans, and rice pilaf

Day 3: Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

Day 4: Baked stuffed fish with red potatoes

Day 5: California Chicken sandwiches (grilled chicken with avocado and melted cheese)

Day 6: BBQ Pulled Pork in the crock pot

Day 7: Dinner out (Friday night)

Day 8: Baked Chicken Dinner with stuffing, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes

Day 9: Homemade Soup (we always offer sandwiches on the side, like grilled cheese, but it’s not often that anyone wants anything besides the soup.)

Day 10: Breakfast for Dinner: French Toast

Day 11: Pasta with Sauce

Day 12: Marinated steak tips

Day 13: Pork Chops with homemade apple sauce

Day 14: Quesadillas and Burritos