Monday, August 25, 2008

Best Laid Plans

I had all these wonderful plans for posts, and then..... I had been sick with allergies for the past couple of weeks. This last week I had reached the decision that I was allergic to myself. No matter what I did I could not stop sneezing. I took over the counter medicine when my prescription meds were not helping. I finally ended up with generic benedryl, which slowed the sneezing down while making me sleepy.
Dh and I still made it through the week without going over the $29 grocery budget. Below is a picture of 80% of what I bought. The other 20% was left behind at the store. I was sick and silly me did not double check behind the bag person to see that all the groceries went in my cart. Dh went back later to pick them up, and he put them away before I could take a separate photo.

Not all of these were necessities. Some were items that I had coupons for and did not want to miss out on purchasing. The pizza was an impulse purchase but came in handy one night when I could not bear to cook. The good thing is that we made it through week 3. Here I am in the last week. I can actually see some empty space in the freezer and the cupboards are close to bare. I am planning a big shop for next week. I still have $10 left to spend this week. It is hard to believe that I will have stuck to my $40 budget. My dream and nightmare is that the sales ads will be fantastic this week, and my plan will fall apart inches from the finish line.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pantry Challenge Week 3

Last night we ate hamburgers and chips leftover from Saturday night. I did not take any pictures since that was not really an exciting meal. I did find out that I need food for two potlucks this weekend. One requires a dessert and the other will be two finger food items. I need to rummage around in the freezer and see what I can come up with. I am thinking mini-cupcakes for the dessert item since I will only need to buy a cake mix. One of my two finger foods will probably be meatballs in sauce as that will utilize some of the ground meat I have in the freezer. I will also do something sweet but am not sure what yet. I still need to stick within my $29 budget ($10 this week, $10 last week, and $9 first week). I will shop carefully as I need a few small items to round out this week's meals and powdered milk.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Garden Update - Finally

The spring garden is pretty much done. I have one Roma tomato plant with two tomatoes and a couple of pepper plants that are still hanging on. The pumpkin and watermelons did nothing. The cucumber plants have been gone for over a month. I do still have bunches of herbs. They are all out of control. I have mint everywhere. It and the oregano seem to be in a battle for dominance of the garden. I will be cutting and drying some herbs in the coming weeks. Since I have a bunch of basil, I think I will try some pesto.

My gardening thoughts have turned to fall. I know that the herbs will hang around. Most of those will actually survive the winter. I have a section of lettuce that is about two weeks old.

Next to it I planted some spinach. I mixed in some organic fertilizer (AKA: horse manure). I planted it the day I took these photos so nothing to show yet.

I also started some cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and kohlrabi seeds. Now I have never grown any of these things before so this will be a learning experience. I am encouraged by the fact that I have some sprouts. One book I read said do not attempt to grow these items from seeds as they are difficult to sprout. So far so good though. Time will tell if these are things I want to grow every year. I have never eaten kohlrabi and have yet to find anyone around here that knows what it is. The description in the garden catalog sounded good plus I like to be a little adventurous in the garden.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Wrapping Up Week Two

Tomorrow ends week 2 of my pantry challenge. Since I know I will not be doing any shopping, it is safe to do my wrap-up today. I had no purchases this week so obviously my total spending was $0. Woo Hoo! Part of that was due to an unexpected blessing.

Dh came home on Tuesday with the two loaves of bread seen below. I am not really clear on the story, and I am not sure he is either. Basically he went to some store and they had an overabundance of bread somehow. Anyway dh got two free loaves of bread. I kept one out for sandwiches and the other went into the freezer for later. What a wonderful treat! That was an item on my list that will not have to be purchased this month.

I will also say that while I posted some menu ideas I ended up only using one of them. I think for the remainder of this challenge I am simply going to post pictures and ramblings of our meals the following day. That should also motivate me to post more often. What good is a blog with no new entries. I will start with Sunday's meal entry on Monday. There, I said it so I have to do it.

I went through the cabinets earlier this week to see what I had left to work with for the next two weeks. I did find one can of pear halves seriously out of date. I also found two more cans as well as a can of corn nearing their best buy dates. The cabinets are getting more bare, but I still have plenty left to complete my challenge.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Remainder of the Week Menus

I worked on the menus for the rest of this week. I was able to find plenty of items to keep my pantry challenge going. This is in no particular order but more a list of meal ideas.

~Ham, potato salad, green beans, corn muffins
~Sloppy joes, baked potato chips
~Tuna stuffed shells, salad, foccacia
~Taco rice
~Swiss steak over rice, peas, squash, rolls
~Italian beef sandwiches

One night we are hosting a little get together for the teens at our church as we are the youth directors. This meal will be a free one for us since the costs are covered by the church. We will have grilled hamburgers, chips, and s'mores. I will be using a big bag of marshmallows in my pantry as well as some of the free cheese slices. Even if I am not paying for the meal, I like to try to be frugal about it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Moving Through Week 2

The pantry challenge continues. I have several ideas for meals, but my dh has not been home to eat any of them or else he comes in too late for me to consider cooking. Obviously he and his friends do not share my love of schedules and organization. I have been eating some of my homemade frozen "tv dinners" while he has eaten either cereal or a sandwich. He has agreed to come home to eat for the rest of the week so I am working on a menu and will post that tomorrow.

I did manage to decorate a giant chocolate chip cookie. I know that I need some more practice decorating, and I do love these cookies. I love the "Merry Unbirthday" line from Alice in Wonderland although I seem to be the only person who remembers that. Nevertheless, I made myself a Merry Unbirthday cookie.

I think these look a bit like candles.

In the process I did manage to drop a knife on my foot. Of course, it went tip down into my toe. Have I mentioned yet that I am a klutz? I am a major klutz. Fortunately it was not one of our better knives so my wound was not bad.

Two days before this I got my foot stuck in a hole in the yard and twisted my ankle. Oh, and I knocked the rear view mirror off my car windshield when I lifted the sun visor. Fortunately I am only a danger to myself.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Week One Purchases

When I started this challenge, I said that I was giving myself $10 per week in flexible spending. Below are my only purchases for this week:

I am proud to say that my total spent for week one is $1!! This was an after coupons total. I sent dh to the store since he was running another errand. It was probably less than $1, but he kept the few coins he got back as a tip.

I will be carrying the $9 over to the next week so I will actually have $19 to possibly spend. I know loaf of white bread will be a purchase as dh does not homemade bread for everyday sandwiches. I am on the lookout for a good, non-bread machine white bread to change his mind though. I also need to check the level of powdered milk I have on hand. For now I am very happy with my $1 grocery bill.

Wednesday & Thursday

Between camera problems and Blogger problems posting has not been easy. Dh and I also both ended up being super busy on both of these days. Wednesday and Thursday lunches were peanut butter sandwiches. Wednesday night we had big salads with chopped grilled chicken. The whole big salad thing makes me think of Elaine from Seinfeld. She liked a big salad and so do we. The rolls from Wednesday morning turned out well. No picture of the pie thanks to the camera problem though.
Thursday night I was planning to make spaghetti with garlic bread. That plan were awry quickly. I went to fix a neighbor's tv since I am the neighborhood electronics expert. Then it was a couple of hours of composition and chemistry homework. That is funny since I have no children and am not a student myself. I do have a cousin who is taking these classes though. I can tell texting constantly is not helping his composition work at all. To bring this long story to an end, dh made grilled cheese sandwiches for us at about 9pm.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

First Pantry Challenge Test

I am barely into the first week of my pantry challenge and already am faced with a test. I live in the South and when someone passes you take food to the family. I suppose this happens everywhere, but it is a must in the South. Grief and home cooked food go together here. I will be taking homemade rolls, a cherry pie (found in the bottom of the freezer today while I was digging for chicken breasts), and possibly some chicken dish. None of these items will put a dent in what I had planned for this month. First test passed!

Today's meals were:
Tacos ~I used up two pieces of cheese and a tomato from the garden. Ground meat was free, and I have a ton of shells in the pantry for some reason. Okay not literally a ton but three packages. I used the book "Make a Mix Cookery" to make my taco seasoning. I like that I can control the amount of salt. I bought several bags of lettuce on sale last week and had some sour cream on hand.
Grilled Cheeseburgers and chips ~ I had hamburger buns in the freezer that I bought on sale with a coupon and plenty of ground meat. I can already see I am going to have to get creative with ground meat. My original plan was to make baked chips, but it was too hot to turn the oven on. That was a shame as I have a great baked chip recipe that I had not made for dh yet. We also had a piece of a bag of chips that needed to be eaten.

While dh was grilling I had him toss on a couple of marinated chicken breasts for later in the week. I have not quite decided what those will become yet.

Sorry for the lack of pictures. I discovered my camera batteries dead earlier today and have them charging. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit more colorful.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pantry Challenge

I guess this should be called a freezer challenge since my stuffed freezer is what prompted me to do this. I am not sure I could even put one more ice cube in it. My challenge is to last three weeks or maybe even four using only items I have on hand. Since I do like fresh stuff and highly suspect I will need powdered milk, I am giving myself the leeway of having $10/week to spend.

The next two days will be simple enough since I had chosen menu items for those prior to deciding to do the challenge. I know I can handle a week without much thought. After that I might have to get a bit creative. I want to do this without eating anything scary. While I know that $10 will not go very far, it does make me feel better knowing that I have it if necessary.

Wish me luck! Let the fun begin!!