Sunday, January 24, 2016

Our Menu, and Why it's Frugal

Hello, Dearies!

Before I get to the menu stuff, I want to catch you up a tiny bit.

I am not a consistent blogger these days.  I realize that.  When I started working part-time, it was an adjustment.  It was expected that I'd been working 15 or so hours a week, but it has been more like 20-25.  I am not complaining - the income is a blessing and I like the work a lot - but it's an adjustment.  I don't think I ever said 'what' I'm doing.  I work as an administrative and personal assistant for a psychotherapist.  I work 100% from home, calling clients, doing billing, filing, record keeping, taking dictation, etc.  It's really rewarding and I like it A LOT.  Some of you will remember that I had applied and gotten into grad school for psychotherapy...and then I didn't go.  We learned that the plant where Husband was working was going to be closing down, so the timing was not good.  This job that I have now is very interesting and I am learning a lot that would benefit me later, should I decide to pursue that again.

Husband started a new job within a day of me starting training for my job.  He is working afternoon shift, and that is another adjustment.  He gets a lot of overtime too, so schedules around our home have changed quite a lot.

Apparently, that wasn't enough for our silly selves, because about the time things started to settle, we added a new furball to the family.  When we got Taffy, she was this little tiny thing, and her mama was small.  Husband had been hoping for a lap dog, and while Taffy is happy to sit in someone's lap, she's more of a couch-size.  So...when this little fella came up needing a home, we had already discussed the possibility of getting a smaller dog...if one came along, needing a home.  Friends, this is Reggie.

According to his paperwork, he's a full-on 'party color' Yorkie.  He is larger than a Yorkie - about 13 pounds or so - and while he had the ears, his coat is a bit wiry, and his nose is pinkish brown.  He's definitely not showing signs of the 'standard', but we don't care.  He's a nice little doggie - affectionate, playful, and cuddly.  Taffy really likes having someone to romp and play with, and they get alone quite well - better than I expected, really.

So...that's what has been keeping me away from y'all. up after two dogs (ohmygoodness), and keeping us all fed and happy.

I thought I'd post our menu for the week, along with some links to the recipes I use (or at least use as a guide), as well as some of the reasons a particular menu is frugal for us.  I should also say that lately, I've been making our dinner menu at lunchtime.  Husband can eat before he heads off for work, and then I warm some up at suppertime for Daughter and I.  This means I'm not in the kitchen cooking when Daughter needs homework help (or just wants my company).  Mostly I can work around my work, doing prep and then working some, popping something into the oven and then working some more, etc.  I've been doing it this way for a couple weeks, and it seems to be working out OK.  Now...on to the menu!

Sunday (that's today!)  calzones, garden salad w/balsamic dressing, fresh pineapple, brownies
I'll be making this meal for supper rather than lunch, since it's the weekend and we're all home.  The calzones are going to allow me to use up some leftovers from last week - some cottage cheese, some pepperoni, some cooked Italian sausage crumbles, black olives left from a previous meal, and some leftover jarred spaghetti sauce.  I had gotten the cottage cheese for .99, the sausage for 1.49 (couple months ago, so it was from the freezer) and the spaghetti sauce for .99 (it came from our panty, since that sale was back in Sept.).  Leaf lettuces are .99 a head here nearly all the time, so the salad will be lettuce with a shredded carrot (.45/lb), radishes (.33/bunch), red cabbage (.49/lb).  Fresh pineapples are .98 each right now, so I bought one - it is a lot of fruit for the money.  The brownies are a mix I got for .99, and if I can figure it right, I want to do a cheesecake swirl through them, using some cream cheese I stocked up on when it was $1/brick.  I will make extra calzones for school and work lunches.

Monday - taco salad, cutie oranges
I stocked up on ground beef at 2.99/lb and wrapped it in 1/2 lb. packages.  I will brown that, add taco seasoning and stretch it a little bit with leftover rice.  I buy dehydrated refried beans in a 25 pound bag from the LDS cannery - they are just over $1 a pound and make a LOT.  Lettuce pricing is above - tomatoes have been .88/lb for romas and I have those.  I will use some of the olives from the fridge, green onions I got for .33/bunch, cilantro I got for .33/bunch, sour cream that is .99/pint, and salsa I make from a bit of fresh onion, some cumin, garlic, a can of tomatoes, spices from the spice rack and some sliced jalapenos from a jar.  (It's really yummy!)  I bought shredded cheddar when it was $5 for 2lb, so I'll get a package of that from the freezer.  We have been getting tortilla chips at our Kroger affiliate - store brand, for $1 a bag.  We'll use the little broken ones for the salad. The cuties were $4 for 5 pounds, and we are enjoying them a lot!

Tuesday - soup mix soup, crackers (maybe cornbread), pineapple
My friend got some soup mixes for Christmas that she didn't think her family would eat, and she passed them on to me.  This one is a sun dried tomato/pasta/bean soup.  She even gave me the cans of tomatoes and beans that have to be added to the dry mix, so all I need is 8 cups of stock.  I have lots of home-canned stock in my pantry, so this soup is essentially free to us.  We have a variety of crackers in our pantry, all bought on sale, and the pineapple was mentioned above.  I might make cornbread, if I get ambitious - it's a mix I make at home and then use.  I mill my own corn meal, and it is SO yummy!  Back to the soup - it sounds like it's going to make a large pot - I may measure out half of everything, freeze the extra tomatoes/beans, and make half of the batch in a couple weeks, since pasta in soups doesn't ever freeze well.

Wednesday - pork chops, rice, spinach, sliced apples
Pork chops are .99/lb right now.  I bought a big pack and wrapped them in meal size packages.  (I might buy another.)  I will dry rub them with something and then either grill them or pan fry, depending on the weather.  For rice, we got a free package of Uncle Ben's from a store promotion, but I think I'll probably just make plain white rice...or maybe...some Indian rice that I really love.  I don't have a link for that recipe - it's in a cookbook here at home.  The spinach was .88/bunch and the bunches are huge - I'll cook it in the pan with a little soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds - we really love it that way.  Apples have been right around .98/lb, so I buy whichever varieties are on sale.

Thursday - spaghetti w/sauce, salad with dressing, some vegetable, sliced oranges
Thursday is a very busy work day for me, so this is a very basic meal.  I'll make the salad the night before (much like the garden salad mentioned above).  The vegetable will be zucchini if it goes on sale, otherwise, it might be frozen mixed vegetables or frozen peas.  I have a good stock of spaghetti sauces I got for .99/jar, and I'm not going to add any meat for this meal.  We have a triangle of parmesan cheese, so I'll shred some to sprinkle on top of the pasta/sauce.  Pasta...I am able to get spaghetti free sometimes, other times I pay .49 a pound for it, depending on whether or not I can find coupons.  I have multiple packages in my spaghetti storage bucket in the pantry.  I have some navel oranges I picked up for .49/lb a while back, so I'll slice a couple of those to round out the meal.

Friday - herb-roasted chicken, potatoes/onions/carrots, green beans, peach cobbler
On Fridays, Daugther has a half-day of school, so we all have lunch together.  I can put most of this meal into the oven and just heat the green beans on the stove, so it is an easy one for me to make while I'm doing other things (like working!)  I have, occasionally, found a couple chickens on markdown for .69/lb, 1-2 days from the sell date.  They have been around $4 each.  I buy them and put them directly in my freezer.  I'll thaw one of those and cut it up for this meal, and I'll roast the back/neck/etc. too, remove the meat and use the bones and such for broth.  (I always cut the wings, wrap and freeze, and when I get enough, I make hot wings for Husband and I - yum!)  For the oven vegetables, I use some of the same herbs I use on the chicken and a little oil.  I got potatoes a while back for 10 cents a pound, onions for .48/lb, and the carrots were .45/lb, so it's an economical side, for sure.  The green beans and peaches (for the cobbler) are home-canned, and the topping for the cobbler will just be me throwing together some flour, butter, oats, cinnamon and brown sugar.  If I drain the peaches, I get peach crisp, but I'll leave the syrup and it will make the topping more like a cobbler.

Saturday - leftovers or dinner out
I put this at the end of the week, but sometimes something happens and we do leftovers mid-week, and all the recipes scoot down a notch.  Either way, it all seems to work out.  Daughter has a birthday party this Saturday so I'm not sure about our schedule or plans, but I know there will be plenty of chicken left from the previous day - we could make bbq chicken pizza or something like that, or we might just re-heat something else from a previous day, as-is.

So...that's the menu.  What's cooking at your house?


  1. Sounds great! I'm happy for you having a job you love and the your husband is employed again. You all seem to be adjusting and settling in well.

    I will be roasting a whole chicken tomorrow and then using that through out the week. On Friday I lose my kitchen to workmen again and we are eating out a good bit. It was just three days last time and GAG it got awful really quick. The good thing though is that this time it will be all done in about 8 days and we can get back to normal, whatever that is!

  2. We are eating a lot of crisps lately, too! My family seems to be hungry for them. It's a yummy way to use up some of our preserved fruit.

    I'm glad you are getting things settled. Changes are never easy.

  3. Our family has been eating a lot of fruit crisp lately, too. Everyone seems to be hungry for it and it is a great way to use up some of the fruit in the freezer.

    Changes are never easy, but it looks like you are getting adjusted nicely.

  4. I just started two part time jobs to add a little extra money into the budget and it really did put a big cramp on getting things done around the house. I totally understand why the blog went to the back burner in the meantime.

    Love when those frugal meals work out!! I plan my meals a lot the same based on what we have going on and what food we have in the house. I like how you broke it all out to show us the pricing!! I used to figure out the cost per meal but I haven't done that in awhile cause I track my monthly expenses and as long as I am under, I figure that I am doing good enough :) I should probably get back in the habit.

  5. Hi Laura, I so love reading your blog! I'm really trying to do a pantry challenge,(we are so short of cash right now!)I'm making a menu for 2 weeks like yours. Our routine is changing week by week,that does make it hard! But it changes because we have part time work available so I will not complain.Most of us face these tough times at one point or another. If we have our family, who cares right? blessings to you,Denise

  6. Your meals sound yummy. How fun a new puppy. Pets are the best for giving that unconditional love.:) You have many changes and God seems to guiding your
    family. It is nice to enjoy your work.
    Blessings to you and your family.


Thank you for joining the conversation! I moderate the comments, so please be patient - they will appear as soon as I have read them!