Sunday, December 9, 2012

Meal Plans for This Week

Another week is gone and that means we're one week closer to both Christmas and the end of the year.  Yikes!  We'll be singing "For Auld Lang Syne" before we know it!

I sat down last night and began to try and plan meals for the holiday season starting with weekend before Christmas which is when I expect my family to come if they can make it at all.  I've got a couple of meals planned out but need to work on the rest of them.  For the most part I'm planning to make and freeze and then thaw and heat that weekend.  It seems the best way to manage company and holiday moods and food to me.

In the meantime, it occurred to me last night after I'd gone to bed, that I'd been better prepared if I'd planned this week's meals first and then taken something out to thaw.  Oh. My.  Well I wasn't getting out of bed once I'd hopped in, so I waited until this morning.  That worked out the best anyway, since John came in, got called out to go back to work and I was home alone all morning long to do housework and make plans.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken, Potato Salad, Steamed Broccoli
I've made this in the past with mayonnaise but followed a Pinterest recipe that called for Greek yogurt (using my own homemade yogurt).  I liked it much better I think but it did stick to the pan a good bit more than the other.  I used pan spray but just a heads up if you try this recipe: it sticks.    I certainly was glad when John finally got home and we could have a meal.

Pot Roast with Vegetables, Squash Casserole, Biscuits
My roast is very small, just about 1 pound or so, making it perfect for us and perhaps a sandwich for John's work lunch.  The biscuits will be welcome with jelly for a dessert and the leftovers can be toasted for breakfast (or my supper).

Turkey and Rice Soup, Grilled Pimento and Cheese, Chocolate Pudding
I made a batch of broth from our Thanksgiving turkey breast. We'll want a lighter meal today after two days of heavy meals, I think.  The budget wants a lighter one too, lol.  This meal is supposed to coincide with the return of cooler weather.  Fingers crossed!

Steak, Baked Potato, Salad with Blue Cheese dressing
This is actually a dinner out for us but it's all home cooked food.  Yum.

Red Beans and Rice, Orange and Onion Salad, Corn bread
All I have to cook is the rice and the bread.  The beans are frozen leftovers, just enough for two.

Sweet and Spicy Wings, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Coleslaw
I'll make my own sauce for the wings, a combination of a homemade bbq sauce and honey and hot sauce.  It's so good and only gets better as it bakes.

Homemade Lasagna, Green Salad, Garlic Bread, Easy Tiramisu for Two
Meat and sauce are in the freezer, I'll just layer cheeses and noodles to make the dish and prepare it ahead, same for the salad, and dessert.  I'll just slide lasagna in the oven that morning and then add garlic bread later.  

Using What I Have Celebration

I am so pleased to be featured at Hibiscus House for Farmgirl Friday with my Christmas pillows!  I'm joining up again this week, linking through Hibiscus House. 

I'm also linking up with Sunny Simple Life for  Sunny Simple Sunday.

I spent a little time creating this past week.  I wanted new wreaths for my doors.  I stripped down an old wreath and decided to use what I had to make a new one. I will be working on the second wreath this weekend.  In the meantime, I'll show you what I came up with for my front door:

I used pinecone picks to add a little more interest to the wreath.  I fashioned a new bow from old ribbon.  The little bird box was truly a 'use what you have' craft.  It used to be a little shadow box that hung on my bedroom wall, but I tired of it long ago.  I recovered with fresh paper inside and out, then used moss to cover the edges of the box.  A bird figurine that normally resides in the curio cabinet was placed in the box.  He sits upon a pinecone which I thought appropriate for my theme.

I did spray the wreath with faux Snow but it appears more frosted than snowy white.  That is so appropriate for Georgia, lol.  We're far more prone to have frost than snow most years.  I'm very happy with my wreath.  It's not glitzy and flashy but then neither is my country home, though a bit of glitz is bound to slip out here and there.  I think the gold is just enough color here with the red door and ribbon.

Thanks for joining me in my Farmgirl Friday craft.  Stop by and see what others have been up to as well!

My Frugal Week

My little 'Christmas' project, using just what I had on hand...

In The Kitchen:  

We went a full pay period without purchasing groceries.  I picked up milk and bread and a snack item for us for here at home, but we skipped the whole grocery store experience entirely for one whole pay period.  I spent about the same amount I'd normally spend on one of those 'in between' trips to the store, right at $40.

Second grocery frugal:  we bought a few grocery items while we were on vacation because we always cook most of our meals while we're away.  Does that sound like  I spent grocery money, and didn't really have a savings?  Wrong!  I had money set aside for vacation foods.  It's planned into our budget for the trip.

We planned to visit with the grandchildren (it was the twins first birthday) on the way back home and because that was another over night stay we didn't want to pack up a lot of food to try and keep cold for 36 hours.  We decided Friday to go out to eat for our dinner meal and opted for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for our supper.  I think we spent about what we probably would have at the supermarket for snacks and food for Friday on our dinner, so it was an even swap.  And the bonus was not having leftovers to haul about.

I spent about the same amount as always this pay period, no more.  I didn't try to make up for not shopping two weeks ago.

After I came down with the flu, I scratched our plans to go to meat market this pay period.  I did a quick scan of the freezer and we can manage fine for two more weeks on what we have on hand.  That's another bit of savings, too.

One reason why we could postpone the meat market: a big turkey breast we roasted for dinner.  That should net us several meals.

After the big meal I put the carcass on to boil and got 2 quarts of broth and another 1 cup of meat off the bones.

I put a pan of turkey and dressing in the freezer for a heat and eat meal for later in the month (or even next month).

We ate lots of leftovers for our supper this past week, mostly turkey and dressing, but I can't say it was a hardship. 

Boiled eggs to make egg salad sandwiches for work lunches and snacks for John.

I didn't have many 'ready to eat' foods on hand, with this illness which broke my own rules.  I did use a container of chicken pot pie filling, a jar of chicken broth (homemade and frozen) and a container of leftover frozen rice to make soup the day I felt the very worst.  We had takeout day two and John brought home a frozen pizza on day three.  I'll be sure to put a few new entrees into the freezer as soon as I'm well enough to manage it.  We had to shop for groceries on day four and did our best to keep it short and sweet, but John insisted on buying dinner so I wouldn't be overtaxed that day.

An easy cupboard/leftover meal: Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo, using bought sauce, leftover chicken breast, and broccoli that I steamed while the pasta boiled.  Super easy, tasty, filling and quick to clear up after. 

Later in the week, I wanted a cup of coffee but coffee was running low and I didn't want to go to the grocery right away.  I opted to use the single cup coffeemaker we were given a few years ago.  It's handy to make a single cup of coffee instead of a 4-cup pot.

I feel much better but have been pressed for time, trying to make up for the lack of housework last week.  I didn't have time or excess energy to bake this week.  I had a chocolate poundcake in the freezer.  Weekend baking taken care of, thankfully.

In the Home
Necessity almost always leads to creativity in my home.  I wanted new wreaths but alas, the funds just weren't there, even though I looked at half priced items.  So I made my own. Dusted off an old wreath and then used pine cone picks, an empty wooden box and a bird figurine to make something entirely fresh and new.  I've a few more tricks up my sleeve, but I haven't yet had time to employ them all yet.

I did purchase two boxes of half priced ornaments.  I got 20 new ornaments for the price of 1 box.

I bought three floral picks at half price, too.  I was disappointed however when I arranged them because they lacked that Christmas cheer.  I found four glittery poinsettia blossoms in the shed and three of those proved to be just what that arrangement required. Perhaps after Christmas I'll just use the greenery by itself but I think the red punches things up for the holidays don't you?

The wax warmer on the buffet was a gift from my daughter-in-law.  She sold some items at an online party back in the autumn.  One of the scents I ordered was called Aspen Pine.  Oh my gracious does that smell good!  We really enjoyed that fresh pine fragrance (NOT like Pinesol but more evergreen smelling).  I love these melts as it takes just a tablespoon to scent a room and it lasts quite a while.

I did say I wouldn't buy any decorations until Christmas gifts were all bought.  Well they are all bought, we finished up on Monday.  I spent a whole $18 on my purchases for decorations.  I may buy a few more, but I don't foresee big expenses in this area.

My mantel decorations cost me NOTHING...I'm quite happy with it.  While digging in the Christmas bins out in the shed,  I found a bundle of garland I forgot I even had.  One piece of that garland, the last of the glittery poinsettia blooms and my two poinsettia hurricanes look just right on that mantel.

I can't name the amount of pleasure the flowers on my front porch have given me.  There are just two of them there, but economy and pleasure DO mix that's for sure.  The geranium I bought in late spring when it was very hot and the plant sort of limped along, but has decided it likes cooler weather very well indeed.  And the petunias rescued from an old bucket that held a dead rosebush where they had self sown are blooming away, too.  I smile every time I look at them.  I can't name the luxury I feel to smell those petunias on these cold evenings either.

Remember In The Kitchen, when I mentioned that 1-2 cup coffeemaker we have?  Good thing!  The Bunn died Wednesday night.  I tried what I refer to as a 'Rhonda repair' which consists of unplugging it and walking away but alas that didn't work either.  Then I tried running vinegar through it just in case it was calcium buildup even though our water here is very soft.  No good on that repair try either. Then John took it apart yesterday and looked inside it but we didn't find the source of the problem.  However, that only made it flood even worse than before.  So it's certifiably dead.  We'll be getting another but won't have to rush it with the spare coffeemaker on hand.

Picked up pecans again this week.  Unless we get a good hard windy day there won't be many more to pick up before I sell them one last time.  I'm praying for a windy day!  There are lots of pecans in that tree yet.  This last batch will fund the extra meat I want to buy for the freezer when we do visit the meat market next week.

Went into CVS this past week with my Extra Cash bucks and spent them all.  I picked up four bottles of ALL detergent on a very good sale, and a handful of needed cold remedy items.  I earned 4 more ECBs to use on my next visit to the store.

Mama and I were out shopping Wednesday.  My expenses were $18 for the Christmas ornaments and picks, and $20 for our dinner.  I paid for the dinner out of my allowance, so no cost to the household for that. Mama provided a coupon to help cut down on the costs for our meal.

I harvested seed from the basil in the pots on the back porch.  I hope to replace those worn out plantings with some pansies soon, but in the meantime, I've left the dead stems of the basil. They smell so fragrant when you brush past them.  It's a nice surprise. I like knowing I'll  have more basil next year courtesy of these seed.

John suggested we look into buying a small greenhouse.  He explained his reason: disliking that I bring plants indoors for wintering over.  I explained to him that I would love a greenhouse, but his reason was misguided.  The plants that winter over here are plants known for improving air quality in the home: ivy, spider plants, palms and ferns, etc actually reduce toxins in the air.  I don't know if he means to still consider that greenhouse purchase or not...

We need rain badly, but I can't deny the sunshine is a huge bonus for us this time of year.  It not only warms the house but fills it full of light as well, which means that we seldom need to use a light for reading or any other work we might be doing indoors.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan - Gobbleish

I came to a conclusion this weekend: a whole turkey breast is an awful lot of turkey for just two.  Next year I mean to have my turkey on Thanksgiving Day regardless of who has planned to claim the day.  I mean to have my feast on the feast day and if it's the second time I eat or the first, it will be just as tasty.

I am recovering well from the flu.  IF I stop pretending I don't feel a little weak and keep pushing myself to do just two or three things more.  John has been a wonderful help, doing the bulk of the meal planning and such this past week, but I roused myself Saturday and cooked Thanksgiving dinner for two.  I kept the menu simple, no need of four sides and two salads and three desserts for just the two of us.  I made Turkey, stuffing, Mashed potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Gravy, Cranberry Sauce, Pumpkin Pie.  I put a pie, half a turkey breast, stuffing and a prepared entree of turkey and stuffing in the freezer.  We still have plenty for turkey salad sandwiches, plus two quarts of broth from the carcass and another cup or more of meat bits.  John's mentioned having numerous favorite turkey dishes.  For my part, I'm starting to feel gobble-ish.

Leftover Turkey, Stuffing, Gravy, Cranberry sauce, Potatoes and Pie

Chuck Roast with Root Vegetables, Green Beans, Pear Salad

Polska Kielbasa, Steamed Cabbage, Cheesy Potatoes, Baked Apples

Tamale Pie,  Orange and Onion Salad, Chocolate Pudding

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings, Coleslaw, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Mayo Muffins

Macaroni and Cheese, Broccoli,  Apple, Walnut and Lettuce Salad, Gingerbread

Philly Cheese Steak Burger Pizza, Green Salad