Day 353–Starting Week 51–Budget and Menu

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We’ll be harvesting some of our own Swiss chard for dinner this week!

The holidays are almost upon us and while I am not at all ready, I am sprinting to the finish line of 2012. Later this week I will post some of our traditional holiday recipes and how we are using local ingredients to improve our standard Christmas Eve and Christmas menus. As for this week, we are keeping it simple and trying to have fun in this last rush before Santa arrives.

Our budget is $77.93 for the week. Here is what we spent:

Budget

  • Walker Farm (ground bison): $8.50
  • Mae Farm (ground pork, pork tenderloin, bacon): $28.00
  • Rare Earth Farm (eggs, buttermilk): $6.00
  • The Mitchell’s pantry (sticky fig jam, strawberry jam, green beans, corn, applesauce, tomatoes): $12.00
  • Trader Joes (cheese, bread, frozen fruit, steel-cut oats): $23.43

Here is what we are having this week!

Menu

  • Sunday–Bison meatloaf, roasted cauliflower, kale
  • Monday–Angel hair pasta with roasted tomato sauce
  • Tuesday–Whole wheat reindeer pancakes and homemade applesauce
  • Wednesday–Sauteed Swiss chard topped with eggs
  • Thursday–Grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup
  • Friday–Leftover buffet
  • Saturday–Pork tenderloin with sticky fig jam, summer green beans, corn
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Day 343–Starting Week 50–Budget and Menu

Although winter is just around the corner, we are still experiencing daily temperatures in the 60s and 70s. The farmer’s markets are still offering a wide variety of fall and winter vegetables, no doubt helped along by the unseasonable weather! This week’s budget is $63.46, far below our $100.00 limit. While I would love to say this reflects some creative frugal spending on my part, we have two evening events to attend this week, so that’s two fewer nights for me to cook dinner. On a real plus side, I found two NC farmers/ranchers who are raising bison and we will try some bison burgers as our celebratory meal after the Reindeer Romp 5K next Saturday!

Budget

Mae Farm (bacon): $8.40
Rare Earth Farm (eggs): $4.08
Farmhand Foods (small steak): $5.00
General farmers market (sweet potatoes, kale, onions, cauliflower, brussel sprouts): $13.50
Greenland Farm (bison): $8.60
Trader Joes (burger buns, spiced pecans, soy milk, cheese, sour cream): $23.88

Here is what we’re having during what I hope is our last super busy week before the holidays!

Menu

Sunday–chipotle steak and sweet potato quesadillas, kale
Monday–quiche lorraine with brussel sprouts
Tuesday–Evening event
Wednesday–leftover quiche, roasted purple cauliflower
Thursday–evening event
Friday–pasta con sarde (prep for the Reindeer Romp 5K)
Saturday–bison burgers, mashed cauliflower, kale

Day 336–Starting Week 49–Budget and Menu

Those of you who have children or grandchildren know that May and December seem to be the craziest months of the year. Every recital, performance, ceremony and exam seems to be crunched into these two months, as though February weren’t sitting there, all forlorn without any major holidays except Valentine’s Day. So this week will be a busy one, with PTA meetings, a winter band concert and a major holiday event for me at work. I’m planning to cook ahead on Sunday so we can have easy, quick (but healthy and local) dinners all week!

Our food expenses this week are $46.58 although one meal will be out since I’ll be working, so that figure is not indicative of our total spending.

Budget

  • Mitchell’s freezer (roasted tomato sauce, frozen tomatoes, frozen jalapenos, frozen yellow squash): $11.00
  • Mae Farm (ground beef, Italian sausage): $20.00
  • Trader Joes (manicotti noodles, cheese, chili powder, canned organic beans): $10.58 (
  • Farmer’s Market (lettuce, cucumber, broccoli): $5.00

Menu

  • Sunday–Veggie manicotti with local cheese, salad
  • Monday–leftover manicotti and salad
  • Tuesday–Chili and yellow squash muffins
  • Wednesday–Leftover chili
  • Thursday–State Tree Lighting (dinner at a food truck)
  • Friday–Stuffed butternut squash
  • Saturday–Shrimp and roasted red peppers with Melina’s spinach fettucine

Day 327–Starting Week 48–Budget and Menu

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Ellie making stuffing, which we are still enjoying!

This week following Thanksgiving is a “use up what we have” week. We have lots of leftover bits of things–vegetables, turkey, ham, bread–and this week is going to make good use of them rather than spending more money on groceries! Thankfully, my family loves turkey leftovers 🙂 By mid-week, I should have a fair amount of turkey stock put up in the freezer to use later as well! Since I’m trying to really use just what we already have, I’m making some recipe substitutions here and there and hope that in the end, it will all work out 🙂

Our spending for this week is low–$31.54! That includes “paying” ourselves back for stock up vegetables that we froze over the summer!

  • Trader Joes (tortillas, cheese, noodles, onions, Greek yogurt): $16.54
  • Mitchell’s freezer (green beans, jalapeno, tomatoes, field peas, corn): $15.00

What are we having? Here is our post-Thanksgiving week leftover festival 🙂 Recipes to follow.

  • Monday–Turkey and sweet potato hash with egg (a variation of THIS recipe) and broccoli
  • Tuesday–Ham and field peas, sweet potatoes
  • Wednesday–Scout night–everyone’s on their own
  • Thursday–Southwestern turkey and veggie casserole
  • Friday–Leftover casserole
  • Saturday–Turkey noodle soup, grilled cheese

What is your favorite way to use up holiday leftovers?

Day 315–Starting Week 46–Budget and Menu

Well, here we are in the big lead up week to Thanksgiving! I can’t wait! I love Thanksgiving–love having my family together, love my house smelling like roasted turkey, love cooking up a storm. I have ordered a local turkey from Homestead Harvest Farm and will pick that up next week. Otherwise, I’m still planning! Until then, though, I have a great week of recipes that will lead us up to the big day!

Sadly, this is our last week of Produce Box delivery, so I’ll be back at the farmers markets pretty regularly after this. I like the markets, though, so it’s worth the effort and time it takes to get down there! Since it is our last week, I ordered extra, so our Produce Box bill is a bit larger than usual. Still, our weekly food bill is $92.17–under our projected budget for the week. Mostly, this is because I cooked so much last week that we are still eating leftovers! We are determined not to waste the food we purchase and are committed to getting the refrigerator cleaned out before we pick up the Bird!

Here is how our budget worked this week:

  • Produce Box (apples, double broccoli, cauliflower, beets, lettuce, rutabegas, butternut squash, double purple Irish potatoes, apple cider): $36.75
  • Mae Farm (pork loin roast, ground beef, fresh eggs): $29.00
  • Farmers Market (carrots, onion): $4.00
  • Trader Joes (pumpkin ale, frozen fruit, oatmeal, canned pumpkin) $22.42

Our menu this week looks like this:

  • Wednesday–Scout night; leftover sweet potato quesadillas
  • Thursday–Tom’s birthday leftovers
  • Friday–Spaghetti squash with homemade tomato sauce, salad
  • Saturday–Drunken pumpkin chili, homemade cornbread
  • Sunday–Pork loin roast, purple mashed potatoes, roasted cauliflower
  • Monday–Purple potato pancakes and leftover pork roast
  • Tuesday–Leftover chili

Day 308–Starting Week 45–Budget and Menu

What a fun week we have ahead of us! It’s making for some challenging meal planning, but we are going to enjoy it! Our farmer’s market is chock full of squash, sweet potatoes, kale, collards (which are better after a frost, so we’re leaving them for now), Swiss chard, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Apples are in supply, but pricier than usual. In preparation for Thanksgiving, I have ordered our heritage breed turkey from Homestead Harvest Farm and have a small, boneless ham from Mae Farm as well. But in the weeks before Thanksgiving, we are still managing to eat well and make the most of our fall crops!

Our budget this week is $94.82, but we are eating out one night (Tom’s Birthday!!!), so that’s one dinner that is not on our menu (and I can guarantee it will cost more than $5.28), so we’re not really ahead food-wise, but we will have fun celebrating. Also, Tom #besthusbandever surprised me with tickets to my first ever NFL football game to see my beloved Broncos play in Charlotte (awwwww!). Since food at the stadium costs a small fortune, we are planning to save money by emptying our fridge tailgating with our pork roast leftovers and some other yummy homemade foods! I figure we are probably saving about $1,000 $50 not buying food at the stadium, so we are technically ahead this week, right? Right? I think this is why I am not an accountant.

Regardless of how you count your pennies, have a healthy and happy week!

Budget

  • The Produce Box (chestnuts, carrots, broccoli, apples, purple potatoes, grape tomatoes, cilantro, spinach, cauliflower, Swiss chard, apple cider, sweet potatoes): $29.00
  • Mae Farm (pork roast, Italian sausage, chorizo): $26.00
  • Rainbow Farm (chicken thighs): $7.00
  • Trader Joes (rice, rolls, cheese, tortillas, frozen fruit, soy milk, dried cranberries)$26.82
  • The Mitchell Pantry (canned marinara sauce, peach salsa): $6.00

Menu–Here is what we’re having this week!

  • Wednesday–Sweet potato/Swiss chard quesadillas w/homemade peach salsa, quinoa
  • Thursday–Chicken-veggie stir fry with rice
  • Friday–Slow cooker pork roast w/apples, cider and thyme; roasted potatoes, squash
  • Saturday–Out for Tom’s Birthday Celebration!!!
  • Sunday–NFL Tailgating Special–Pulled pork w/cider slaw on rolls, broccoli salad, apples, and sweet potato pound cake
  • Monday–Baked pasta with homemade marinara sauce and Mae Farm Italian sausage
  • Tuesday–Leftover pasta

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Day 294–Starting Week 43–Budget and Menu

English: Taken by Bart Lacks

Steel cut oats are fueling us during these chilly, fall mornings!

I think I can…I think I can…I think I can…That was my mantra the past few weeks as I worked my way through some stressful and hectic days at work and at home. Most weeks, I manage to create a very healthy work/life balance, but every once in a while one side of that equation dominates the other and I find myself sprinting through each day, feeling frazzled and wishing I could cross some invisible finish line. That was the past two weeks. The good news is I survived and life will be on a more even keel after this week is over. I’m glad because I really miss cooking for my family, exercising the way I should, and feeling present in the moment when I am with my family. The lack of all three of those has made me pretty darn grumpy lately.

This week’s menu is a reflection of my transition back to a more regular routine. I have some easy meals for busy nights and more satisfying dinners for the weekend. I’ve been loving steel-cut oats with a scoop of crock pot applesauce in the morning for breakfast. Yum, yum! If you haven’t tried cooking steel-cut oats in the crock pot, give it a try. It definitely brings a healthy breakfast in reach during a busy week!

Our budget this week is $100.02, right at our goal of $100.00.

  • The Produce Box (lettuce, cucumbers, yellow squash, apples, field tomatoes, sweet potatoes, Spanish radishes, peanuts): $23.00
  • Homestead Farms (eggs): $4.00
  • Farmhand Foods (beef roast): $15.00
  • Trader Joes (soy milk, frozen fruit, oatmeal, cheese, organic tomato soup, half and half, pie crust, butter): $58.02

What are we having for $100.02? Here is the menu for the week.

Menu

  • Wednesday–Green salad with apples and pecans
  • Thursday–Grilled cheese and tomato soup
  • Friday–Working all night–leftovers?
  • Saturday–Pot roast with potatoes and carrots, squash casserole, salad
  • Sunday–Leftover roast and vegetables
  • Monday–Cheese quiche, baked sweet potato fries
  • Tuesday–Leftover quiche, whatever vegetables are left!

Hope you are enjoying some lovely fall weather and visiting your farmer’s markets, which still have a great variety of produce available!!!

Day 260–Starting Week 38–Budget and Menu

Now that the summer growing season is shifting to fall, our menu is changing as well. I’m hoping we will have fresh greens from our garden this winter–we have planted two kinds of kale, collards, bok choi, Chinese cabbage, and Swiss chard. If we can keep the bunnies away, we might just have some really wonderful and truly local meals this winter!

Our budget is good this week at 84.92! We benefit by having a free pound of shrimp thanks to a special last week with Local’s Seafood (BOGO shrimp is something I can’t pass up) and some butternut squash I roasted and froze a couple of weeks ago.

Budget

  • The Produce Box (apples, field peas, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, bell peppers): $23.00
  • Mae Farm (boneless pork chops): $12.00
  • Harvest farm (whole pasture raised chicken): $12.00
  • Locals Seafood (Pamlico green tail shrimp): free!
  • Melina’s Pasta (lemon ricotta ravioli): $6.00
  • The Mitchell family pantry (homemade raspberry jam): $3.00
  • Trader Joes (pie crust, frozen fruit, yogurt, soy milk, oatmeal): $28.92

Breakfasts are shifting to steel-cut oats with apples! Lunches are the usual leftovers, which are always yummy. Dinners are looking more fall-ish with apples and sweet potatoes.  Another positive this week is that with the chicken, I’ll also be able to make homemade chicken stock and freeze that for later as well!

Menu

  • Wednesday–Butternut squash risotto
  • Thursday–Working; leftover leek and goat cheese tart from Tuesday
  • Friday–Shrimp with lemon ricotta ravioli
  • Saturday–Pan seared pork chops w/sautĂ©ed apples, baked sweet potatoes
  • Sunday–Roast chicken, field peas, sautĂ©ed squash and zucchini
  • Monday–Chicken pot pie with leftover vegetables
  • Tuesday–Leftover chicken pot pie

Is fall catching up to you yet? If so, what is on your fall menu this week?

Day 253–Starting Week 37–Budget and Menu

We’ve had a wonderful turn of events in the last week–fall has arrived!!! Saturday was in the 90s and very, very humid. One tremendous rainstorm later and our temperatures are in the 70s, with beautiful, blue skies. It’s as though even nature couldn’t stand one more hazy, humid day!

Our budget this week is $99.46, just a tad under our $100 budget!

Budget

  • The Produce Box (okra, apples, tomatoes, potatoes, butternut squash): $23.00
  • Locals Seafood (shrimp, grouper): $18.00
  • Farmhand Foods (pork osso bucco): $10.00
  • Mae Farm (Italian sausage): $8.00
  • Mitchell’s pantry (homemade strawberry jam): $3.00
  • Trader Joes (frozen fruit, yogurt, soy milk, half and half, lemon, mozzarella, frozen leeks, red wine, garlic): $32.46
  • Farmer’s market (onions, peppers): $5.00

Menu

Wednesday–leftover pork and cabbage from Monday

Thursday–Italian sausage and peppers pizza

Friday–shrimp and lemon pasta

Saturday–flounder, stewed okra and tomatoes, roasted potatoes

Sunday–Tuscan ragu over parmesan risotto

Monday–leek and goat cheese tart, tomatoes (Meatless Monday)

Tuesday–leftover ragu sauce over Melina’s pasta

Day 246–Starting Week 36–Budget and Menu

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Pumpkins in the front, watermelon in the back. Seems so wrong!

After all my whining about not wanting summer to leave, I am in that special limbo you feel when you see pumpkins at the farmer’s market and it is still in the mid-90s outside. Our menu this week slowly makes the transition from summer to fall and hopefully the temperatures will follow!

On a lovely, positive note, the beginning of school has meant that our tomatoes are now growing without pilfering and we have, for the first time all summer, actually been able to harvest about a dozen RED tomatoes. We still find the occasion tomato with racoon gnaw marks on them, but we have been thrilled to find we can actually harvest food from our yard now that the child poachers in my neighborhood are in juvenile detention school.

Remember that monster pumpkin plant that volunteered to grow in our front yard? I have an update for you later this week!

Our budget is just over our goal of $100.00 at $103.24. I’ve added organic breakfast burritos to our shopping list because they are a super easy, high protein breakfast and Ellie adores them, even if they are on the pricey side. Not sure we can keep that in our budget every week, so I may be looking for a homemade alternative that is less expensive. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Budget

  • The Produce Box (apples, cabbage, grapes, corn, green peppers, field tomatoes): $23.00
  • Trader Joes (frozen fruit, yogurt, taco seasoning, soy milk, shampoo, lemon): $34.04
  • Mae Farm (bone-in pork chops, ground beef): $20.00
  • Lowes Foods (Amy’s organic breakfast burritos): $16.20
  • Farmer’s market (figs, goat cheese): $10.00

Menu

  • Wednesday–Melina’s pasta with fresh tomato basil sauce
  • Thursday–Taco stuffed bell peppers with quinoa
  • Friday–Leftover buffet
  • Saturday–Field peas and homemade cornbread
  • Sunday–Mae Farm pan seared pork chops, sautĂ©ed cabbage and apples, field peas
  • Monday–Fig, goat cheese and caramelized onion pizza
  • Tuesday–Melina’s pasta with leftover vegetables or roasted tomato sauce

Have a delicious and healthy week! And go Broncos 🙂