Meal Plan, Meal Prep: Sept. 17 – 23

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Meal Plan

  • Italian-Style Stuffed Peppers
    • Pantry — quinoa, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs & spices, tomato sauce
    • Freezer/Fridge –Italian sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, Parmesan
  • Pita Pizzas
    • Pantry — leftover pitas, herbs & spices
    • Freezer — mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce
  • Hot Dogs & Sauteed Cabbage (weird combo, maybe)
    • Pantry — onions
    • Freezer/Fridge — cabbage, hot dogs
  • Chickpea, Cauliflower, & Potato Curry
    • Pantry — curry powder, chickpeas, potatoes, coconut milk, rice
    • Freezer/Fridge — cauliflower, naan, peas
  • Spinach Pie
    • Pantry — onion, olive oil, garlic
    • Freezer/Fridge — spinach, cottage cheese, feta, filo dough, butter

Lots of simple meals this week. I had a few more on the list and then decided to be realistic. So far I┬áhave made the first two planned meals, so that is a good start. We’ll also eat leftovers a few times. Our fridge is ridiculously full and I am eager to get it back to the more reasonable level I had maintained last month or so.

Meal Prep.

  • Cranberry Tea Loaf
  • cranberry-orange cookies
  • cranberry-orange cookie dough (freezer)
  • cranberry-orange scone dough (freezer)
  • hard boiled eggs
  • cut up veggies (cauliflower, cabbage, carrot sticks, celery)
  • chickpeas (soaked & cooked, 1 for freezer, 1 for fridge)
  • coffee (grind beans)

The cranberry explosion is me using up some cranberries that thawed but were still good to use after the storm. I still need to complete a few things this evening, but hopefully will get that done. I may be dreaming.

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Sausage & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

stuffed peppers

I had some peppers and mushrooms in the fridge that really needed to be used up, so I decided to cobble together some stuffed peppers. These were super yummy, so I am recording what I did for posterity.

Sausage & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

serves 4 -6

Ingredients

  • 3 large green pepper, cut in half and partially steamed (I used the microwave)
    • reserve tops and chop for use in filling
  • 1 c. quinoa
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 med. onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c. chopped green pepper (from tops)
  • 8 oz. sweet italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 1/4 c. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (I used Penzey’s dried)
  • Italian seasonings to taste: red pepper flakes, dried basil, oregano, parsley
  • 1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
    • I stirred in a little Worcestershire sauce, sugar, garlic & onion powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Rinse quinoa and add to a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until cooked through. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and onions. Saute until translucent. Add mushrooms and salt as desired. Allow mushrooms and onions to sweat a bit and wilt further. Stir in chopped green peppers, saute a few minutes longer then push to one side of the skillet.
  3. Add the sausage to the pan, breaking up with a spatula. Once crumbled to your desired consistency, stir in vegetables. Continue to saute until sausage is cooked through.
  4. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. Allow to cook while you choose additional seasonings. Add to your taste and bloom for a minute or two. Turn off heat.
  5. Stir in cooked quinoa — I didn’t use the full amount, maybe 2/3 of the final amount. Once incorporated stir in Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  6. Pour 2/3 of the can of tomato sauce into a 13 X 9 baking dish (you can spray or not). Add any seasonings you might want.
  7. Fill pre-steamed green pepper halves and nestle into baking dish. Top each pepper with remaining tomato sauce and about 1/2 tablespoon of Parmesan.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until hot throughout and peppers are tender. Enjoy!

We had a simple tomato and cucumber salad on the side.

NOTE: I had leftover filling, probably enough to fill another two pepper halves. Next time I make this I’ll be sure to have four peppers. This time I was just using what I had on hand, so I’m pleased that it mostly all evened out in the end!

 

Groceries: Sept. 17 – 30

This two week deal continues to work for us, although I should point out that we purchased some snacks as part of our hurricane prep shopping trip. About $30 worth of basically junk food. I am undecided as to whether or not I should include these items in our grocery budget or in the life happens fund. We’ll see.

M&M Imports 9_16_17

On Friday the 15th I had Michael drive us (I’d had a migraine for three days — I do not usually require a driver) to the Import/Ethnic store nearby. I specifically wanted to pick up some locally baked, SOFT pita bread. While there we also picked up filo pastry, 5lbs of couscous, and wasabi peas. The total came to $18.85. I’m going to put the price of the individual items under their appropriate category, because it turns out I like seeing where and how I spent my money.

On Saturday I decided to take advantage of the fact that Sam’s Club had opened it store’s to everyone as a way to help out following Irma. I was especially interested in checking their price on sugar and seeing what flour products they had available. They have better prices on some items than BJs, including on dried black and pinto beans. I think the rice is also better priced there, and they had 90/10 ground beef, which I prefer, although the 88/12 at BJs isn’t all that different. Anyway, not sure that I’ll change over to Sam’s but it was nice to take advantage while I could. I also hit Aldi and Publix. Aldi was wiped out of A LOT of dairy and produce – they had no eggs at all, and hardly any milk. My goal when shopping is to have my savings equal or exceed what I spend. So far I have been meeting that goal!

Bread 9_16_17

BREAD & PASTA

  • Rana Ravioli/Tortellini, 4 bags @ $4.29/ea BUT BOGO + 2 $1 off coupons
  • Artisan Rolls, $3.89 BOGO
  • Hot Dog Buns, $.83
  • Everything Bagels, $1.59
  • Filo Pastry Dough, $3.50
  • Large Pita Bread, $1.85

TOTAL: $18.24

Dairy 9_16_17

DAIRY

  • Stonyfield Whole Milk Yogurt, $1.75 (I had a BOGO coupon)
  • Brown Cow Yogurt, $1 (BOGO coupon)
  • Daisy Cottage Cheese, $2.69 BOGO + 2 $.50 coupons
  • 1% Milk, $2.09
  • Good Culture Cottage Cheese, FREE + $.44 credit/moneymaker
  • Arla Cream Cheese, $.30 (I had a digital coupon for a free packet, but it only covered $2.99)

TOTAL: $6.39

Pantry 9_16_17

PANTRY & SNACKS

  • Brown Sugar, 7lbs @ $4.38
  • Publix Pancake Mix, FREE
  • Pringles, $1.75 BOGO
  • Raw Florida Honey, $11.28
  • Ranch Dressing, $.89
  • Old El Paso Dinner Kit, $3.29 BOGO + $1 off 2 coupon
  • Vlasic Sweet Gherkins, $2.99 BOGO
  • Hatch Chili Peppers, $1.89 BOGO
  • Squeeze Ginger, $3.99
  • Couscous, 5lbs @ $8.75
  • Wasabi Peas, $4.75

TOTAL: $42.96

produce-9_16_17.jpg

PRODUCE

  • Romaine Hearts, $2.29
  • Spinach, 2 8oz bags @ $2.99 BOGO
  • Naval Oranges, 3lbs @ $3.69
  • Red Seedless Grapes, 2lbs @ $1.78
  • Bananas, 3lbs @ $1.38
  • Strawberries, $1.29
  • Potato Puffs, $1.89
  • Carrots, 5lbs @ $3.28
  • Cabbage, $1.69
  • Cauliflower, $1.99
  • Grape Tomatoes, 2lbs @ $5.48

TOTAL: $27.75

Proteins 9_16_17

PROTEINS

  • Publix Fried Chicken, $7.99 + .56 tax
  • Chicken Strips, $4.99
  • Eggs, 2 doz @ $1.39/ea
  • 90/10 Ground Beef, 6.10lbs @ $20.34
  • Nathan’s Hot Dogs, $2.89
  • Bacon, $3.99

TOTAL: $43.54

My total spent on groceries this weekend was $138.88. At the beginning of the month I spent $158.14. Some of this week’s groceries ARE making up for what was lost when the fridge died, but for the most part they are just regular groceries. This brings my total for the month to $297.02. That is just enough left in my budget to grab another container of half and half if I run out. ­čśŤ Also, since I shopped at Sam’s today, I don’t think I will really need to make a trip to BJs next month, at least not for any super large item. I’m still pleased with the two week shopping/meal planning routing, although it backfired a little last week w/the power outage. The hurricane snacks would bring the total up to $327.02. All in all not a bad overage considering the lost food.

Food Lately: Musings & Meanderings

meal 9_1 - 9_15

This photo looks like it is trying out for the “one of these things is not like the other…” game

Honesty I don’t ┬áremember exactly what we ate over the last couple of weeks, but these are the things I managed to grab photos of…

  • Skillet Lasagna
  • Sesame Chicken Stir-Fry
  • Pasta Pomodoro
  • Sausage, Sauteed Cabbage, Mashed Potatoes

Actually I did make curried butternut squash soup, although unfortunately I ended up having to throw it out because I didn’t remember to snag it when the power went out. You can see that quick and easy skillet meals are my saving grace right now.

The storm, as I have mentioned, wiped out a lot of food in my fridge and freezer. Not the big deep freezer, but my over fridge freezer. For possibly the first time ever, I have ZERO bananas in my house, fresh or frozen. Because I’ve been working to keep a more reasonable amount of food on hand, our fridge wasn’t as stuffed as it might have been. Which probably contributed to how quickly things warmed up, actually, but also meant that my losses there were comparatively low. My freezer, on the other hand, was pretty much not salvageable. Partly because that freezer has become the place where I throw things to “save” them but that we really don’t want to eat and because, frankly, everything just melted. The few things that I had in there to prolong life, but not because they need to be frozen, are what survived. Namely, nuts and yeast. I am looking on this as a golden opportunity rather than a tragedy. I’d like to use that space much more efficiently and keep only a small selection of convenience foods, anything that needs to be defrosted for the upcoming meal plan, and baking supplies that I use regularly in the small freezer. Basically this means moving the whole wheat flour from the garage freezer and stowing in a basket the frozen ravioli and precooked chicken that have made my life easier this semester. One other basket will hold items for the upcoming meal plan and one final basket will hold opened bags of fruit or vegetables so that I make sure to use them quickly.

I’m also getting serious about using up some of the stock that is STILL in my deep freezer. Several big roasts are on the meal plan in the coming six weeks or so, just to finally get them out of there. Going forward, I then plan to do a better job of storing food we actually eat rather than food I think we should eat. For example, the 40lb purchase of chicken breast from Zaycon was actually a good buy — we’ve almost completely eaten that down. The turkeys I bought after Thanksgiving, on the other hand, are not, since neither of us really ever feel like a full turkey dinner and for the two of us it’s kind of ridiculous. And so on and so forth. On the one hand I feel a little frustrated with myself, but on the other I’m pretty excited. This is me settling in to a better, more efficient way of thinking about food and cooking for us that reflects who we are rather than some mythical vision of us that absolutely doesn’t exist.