Thrifty Thursday – Winging It

As I said on Monday, I didn’t do much meal planning this week. I know, shame on me, that’s not very frugal. But part of being frugal is being flexible. I decided to somewhat plan a couple of meals and challenge myself to use what I have in the house the rest of the week. It’s a good way to get a fresh start for New Year’s and hopefully clear out my freezer a bit.

We only spent $57 at the grocery store this week, there were a lot of good deals.

  • Jar of pasta sauce – $1.77
  • Diced tomatoes – $0.88 each, bought 2
  • Ricotta cheese – regularly $5.49, on sale for $3.99 plus $0.50 coupon = $3.49
  • Hummus – coupon for free container of hummus
  • Steak for husband – $3.88 a pound = $3.76 steak
  • Ground turkey – $3.99
  • Shrimp – $3.88
  • Mushrooms – $1.50
  • Tofu – $1.99
  • Kale mix – $2.50
  • Pomegranates – bought 2 this week, $2.50 each
  • Orange juice – $2.99 each, bought 2
  • Regular milk and lactose free milk – $1.99 and $3.69 respectively
  • Deli ham and cheese – $3.50 and $2.80 respectively
  • Contact solution – regularly $10.99 with $1.50 coupon = $9.49

Small grocery run, but we had quite a bit more at home.

  • Rice – brown and risotto rice
  • Pasta – lasagna, spaghetti, small shells, rotini, orzo and penne; good things to stock up on when under $1
  • Chicken – some leftover deboned thighs, and a whole chicken my parents gave us
  • Lentils
  • Canned tomatoes – 28 oz crushed and diced tomatoes, 14 oz diced (now have three after going to the store)
  • Pineapple chunks – good for stir fry
  • Frozen vegetables – okra, peas, broccoli, edamame, lima beans and snap peas, plus a yellow pepper and butternut squash I diced and froze
  • Frozen french fries and mashed potatoes
  • Frozen tilapia
  • 2 potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Chicken stock – more than 2 quarts, plus frozen chicken parts to make gallons more.
  • Bread – one loaf out, one in the freezer

This is the result of stocking up for the past few months. If you buy a little extra at a time, you can feed your family without spending a lot at the store every week.

I could easily make some baked pasta with the sauce and ricotta I bought this week, and a stir fry with the tofu, pineapple and frozen vegetables. We also have the makings for sandwiches if all else fails. Stock up and never go “there’s nothing to eat in the house” again.

What I Read Wednesday – The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

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This book will be released on January 5, 2016. I received a copy through NetGalley.

One decision, one moment, can change your life forever. For Richard, his decision was letting his younger brother’s friends use his house for a bachelor party. His moment was going upstairs with one of the ‘strippers’ to the guest room. Whether anything happened or not, his marriage is forever tainted. His life is forever tainted when the girls kill their guards in his house and flee.

This book explores what happens after such an event, such a scandal. How it affects his life, the other guys at the party, his wife, and his nine-year-old daughter. Richard’s life is forever linked to the young girl’s in the guest room and her complicated life.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I’d definitely pick up another one. A bit slow in parts, the rest makes up for it by being a definite page turner. The ending was tragic and very unexpected, one that will stick with you for a while.

Tasty Tuesday – White Bean One Pot

We’re still on vacation mode so this is the first meal I’ve cooked this week. Something delicious, easy and nutritious was perfect.


Brown ground meat until no longer pink, add in onions and garlic. This week I used ground turkey.


Mix in chicken stock, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of great northern beans, pepper and Italian seasoning. I make my own blend of that.


Simmer until thickened, mine ended up very watery even after half an hour. The original recipe called for three cans of beans but my husband doesn’t like them so I only used the one I had on hand. Once done simmering, mix in greens. This week I used a kale mix with spinach and chard.

It was very good, and the beans were so creamy and tender.

Menu Monday – December 28

Whew, while I’m sad that Christmas is over, I’m glad all the fuss is done. Now I have a week of planning before 2016 hits. It won’t be a very productive week because my husband is off until the 4th, but I’ll do what I can.

How was your Christmas? Ours was very nice, we basically had three celebrations. One with his family on Christmas Eve then we drove up to my aunt and uncle’s Christmas morning then returned to my parents’ house after that to open gifts with them.

My aunt got me an immersion blender that I have to find a good use for (any ideas?) and I finally got my small work laptop that I asked for. Now I won’t be chained to my desk all day every day. My husband got me a bunch of chocolates and a bottle of Jameson, which is the nastiest stuff I’ve ever tasted straight. It’s pretty good mixed with root beer though.

I honestly don’t really have a menu this week. We had so much leftover from our various get-togethers that I didn’t want to plan a bunch of meals I had to cook if I didn’t need to. As a result, we saved a bunch of money on groceries this week.

I somewhat planned on two meals:

  • Tuscan One Pot – This calls for great northern beans, which I had in the cabinet already, and diced tomatoes.
  • Rice, Kale and Mushroom Casserole – Ricotta was on sale so I decided on this recipe because we had lasagna on Christmas Day and didn’t want to eat anything else like it for a while.

We also have some chicken in the freezer and picked up some shrimp and tofu, so those are options for dinner as well. We’re also planning on another trip to the store at some point this week just for anything we might have missed.

Dinner ingredients were only around $25 for the week.

Thrifty Thursday – Back to Normal

Whew, this week we spent way less than last week, plus managed to buy some last minute Christmas presents, and stock up a bit!

Our total was about $80. We’ll subtract the Christmas stuff:

  • Wine for a gift – $8.99
  • Chocolates for a gift – $5.99
  • Tissue paper – $3.16

That brings us to about $62. Much more like a shopping trip should look. For meals this week, I bought:

  • Rice – $5.99
  • Organic diced tomatoes – $1
  • Small can of tomato sauce – $0.67; so mad they moved or did something with the store brand tomato sauce that’s usually $0.50
  • Shredded cheese – On sale for $1.77
  • Ground chicken – Still couldn’t find the $2.88 ground turkey that was also on sale last week, this was $3
  • Green pepper – $0.86
  • 5 lbs of potatoes – $2.99
  • Turkey sausage – $2.50

I did some stocking up too!

  • Quick oats – Brand name was $3.99, the usual price for store brand when not on sale.
  • Bread – B1G1, plus I had a coupon that doubled. I paid $3.39 for two loaves of nice bread.
  • Whole grain shell pasta – $1 down from $1.50. I now have a small stock of healthy(er) pasta.
  • Chocolate chips – I don’t use them a lot in baking, but now I have a bag and a half when I picked this one up for $1.77, saving $1.22.
  • Olive oil – I usually buy store brand but this nice brand was on sale for $3.99, down from $6.49.
  • A can of tuna – $0.80; I should have bought more than one, I might pick up more during the week. I plan on making tuna cakes or something to eat for lunches.
  • A second can of organic diced tomatoes – $1
  • Can of pineapple chunks – $1.25; Good for stir fries.
  • Frozen snap peas and lima beans – cheap sides or additions to stir fry for $1 each, down from $1.99

Snacks:

  • Husband bought a container of healthy nuts and seeds – $3.99 down from $4.49
  • Mangoes – $1.25 each, down from $2
  • Pomegranate – Still $2.50!
  • Kashi Chocolate Chia bars I’ve been wanting to try – $0.50 off.

What I Read Wednesday – Super Foods Every Day by Sue Quinn

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This book will be released on December 29, 2015. I received a copy through NetGalley.

The term “super food” is thrown around a lot. No one can seem to agree on the exact definition or standards for what a super food is. This author developed her own standard and lays it out for you in this book.

Just like the cover, the book is full of beautiful, colorful illustrations and photographs. They’re exactly what I like to see, simple photographs showcasing the food.

The book starts out with an in-depth glossary of major nutrients, and then a list of super foods that are the best sources for them. Then, the book gives you many fresh recipes to utilize these foods. Each recipe has a color shot of the ingredients and one of the finished product. They’re also simple and easy to follow.

If you like experimenting with new foods and love to shop in the health food section, this book is for you. Fresh fruits and vegetables are paired with things like tofu, tahini, chia seeds, quinoa and all sorts of unique ingredients. It’s a great way to try new foods and dishes.

 

Tasty Tuesday – Christmas Baking!

Most of the recipes I’m making this week have already been featured here, so why not talk about Christmas baking?

Every year since I met my husband I’ve been putting together baskets of goodies for our families. The first year, I made little treat bags full of sugar cookies and gingerbread men. Last year I did up cellophane wrapped boxes with gingerbread muffins, cookies and chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks.

This year I bought divided treat boxes that I’m going to fill with tiny gingerbread muffins, snickerdoodles and chocolate drizzled pretzels. Plus I’m going to make a pumpkin pie because my mother-in-law requests mine for basically every holiday.

gingerbread-muffins

This is the recipe I’m going to use for gingerbread muffins, don’t they look delicious? I use a muffin pan for tiny muffins with tiny little holiday muffin papers.

snickerdoodles

These snickerdoodles look delicious and easy to make. Who can resist a soft sugar cookie covered with cinnamon sugar?

For the pretzels, I’m just buying small pretzels and using a Candy Melt bag I found at Michaels that you just pop it in the microwave until the chocolate is melted, snip off a corner, and drizzle. I could melt chocolate chips or something, but I wanted something that was no-hassle since I’m making everything else from scratch. You have to make shortcuts somewhere!

Lastly, this recipe is one I have used every year for pumpkin pie from scratch. This year I made my own pie crust as well, with a batch in the freezer waiting for Christmas. I made it for Thanksgiving at my family’s, and my uncle raved about it.

I’m going to make the muffins and cookies today, and the pie and pretzels on Wednesday, giving the pie plenty of time to cook, set and chill before Christmas Eve.

Do you have a Christmas baking tradition? What are your favorite things to make?