Freezer meals, Costco trip, and pantry challenge (final update for January, 2012)

I've really focused on stocking my freezer with homemade freezer meals during the month of January, and our freezer is pretty packed! I organized everything yesterday and took this picture of the meals I've made this month. These were all meals that I made for dinner, but made a double or triple batch and froze all the extra (mostly unbaked).

January's freezer meals

Casseroles are on the left, then breakfast burritos and chicken egg rolls, and a stack of homemade granola bars. These meals will probably be served with frozen veggies and canned or fresh fruit. (The meals pictured are recipes from my master plan list a few weeks ago.)

Freezer meals stacked in the freezer

I stacked all the 8x8-inch casseroles in the freezer with the labeled edge up, so I can select easily. (See this post for more info about how I package/freeze my casseroles.)

Having a chest freezer sure is handy, especially as our family grows. We've had our chest freezer for a year now, and I'm wondering how I managed with just a small apartment-fridge-top freezer! I know I did, but wow... I don't think the kids ate as much 3 1/2 years ago as they do now. :)

Groceries from Costco

Joshua made a trip to Costco last week, right before his surgery. He won't be able to lift anything for a couple months so he told me we were going to buy a LOT of groceries so I didn't have to make as many trips by myself with the kids. :)

I don't have time to do a price list for this shopping trip, but pictured above are grapes (Ruth's birthday request), butter ($2/lb.), sweet potato fries (using coupon -- $4.49/4lbs.), ground beef, and ground turkey.

Groceries from Costco

And more: clementines (another birthday request), spinach (this kept well in the cold garage; used in lasagna, spinach rice casserole, and quiche for the freezer), milk, eggs, oil (we were out!!), and some baking supplies.

Also, but not pictured (it was a crazy day!), we got a rotisserie chicken for $4.99 which we ate for lunch along with some homemade potato wedges and cooked veggies. Ruth turned the chicken upside down on the way to the kitchen so the floor ended up getting mopped that day too. ;)

AND, we bought disposable diapers and wipes (using coupons) with some Costco gift card money that was given to our family. I got diapers in Moshe's size, but haven't opened them yet. They're in case the babysitter(s) want to use them (while I am at the hospital with Joshua in February), or for me to use after the new baby is born (in March). I cringe spending the money on something that will get thrown in the trash, but I know I will really appreciate the convenience when the time comes. :D

Ruth's birthday cake

This is the cake Joshua made for Ruth's birthday! She wanted chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and hearts on top. I was glad Joshua had fun spending the time making the triple-layer cake and getting it just perfect. ;)

Moshe's birthday

I was more than happy to just make a simple carrot cake for Moshe's birthday (same day as Ruth's). :) One bowl, one pan, and so quick to mix up. ;) We had a lovely birthday lunch at home for Ruth and Moshe on their birthday.

Pantry Challenge

For our family, January's pantry challenge was a continuation of fewer shopping trips (2 for the month), getting my freezers organized (yay!), and starting to make and store some freezer meals.

We stuck to just 2 shopping trips, the freezers are pretty organized (and I know exactly what's in there), and I'm feeling more ready for the challenges ahead now that I've got most of my freezer meals made! :)

Be sure to visit the other bloggers who chronicled their January pantry challenges:

Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
The Finer Things in Life
Getting Freedom from Debt
Good Cheap Eats

Coming tomorrow: A family photo/update post, and I'll answer all your questions from this post about budgeting! :)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tips for cooking with cast iron

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tips for cooking with cast iron cookware

Here's an update to my post from 5 years ago about cooking with cast iron! I've been using it a TON for my freezer cooking the past few weeks! :)

P.S. Freezer cooking/pantry challenge update coming tomorrow, and a family/photo/Q&A post shortly after. Joshua is recovering well; thanks for caring! :)

My cast iron skillet

One of the things I really enjoy about living a frugal lifestyle is the creativity involved! It's also exciting to me when I make new discoveries and learn new things. Although I've had a cast iron skillet since we were married, I'm just now putting it to good use. And of course, I'm wondering why I waited so long!

I grew up cooking with stainless steel cookware, for the most part. When Joshua and I got married, he had some Teflon cookware, and I got addicted to that nice big Teflon skillet, real quick. I mean, there was no scrubbing! I always dreaded cleaning stainless steel after cooking scrambled eggs, or anything with cheese... so much work! With Teflon, washing pans was as simple as washing a plate or cup, or maybe even easier, since the food didn't "dry on", it fell off!

Of course, I had my doubts about the safety of cooking with Teflon (and recent studies have indicated that it really isn't safe!) but it's easy to live in the here-and-now and just not want to give up convenience!

Although I've had this cast iron skillet since we first were married, I had bought it unseasoned (it was cheap that way!) and had worked on seasoning it but still much preferred Teflon. Yes, I knew that cast iron takes time to season... I just kept reaching for the easier (temporary) solution: Teflon.

Until recently, that is, when our Teflon skillet started wearing out, and food started sticking and burning. I decided to start using my cast iron skillet with a passion, and turn it into my new, "natural" non-stick skillet.

And you know what? I love it! I really do, and I'm liking it more and more all the time. Have you ever met someone who was attached to their cast iron cookware? (It seems most people are, when they've seasoned it themselves and used it for years and years!) Well, that's me... in a few years. ;)

Here's what I know about cooking with cast iron (it isn't much!):

Don't use sharp or metal utensils on it. (Update: I still usually use wooden utensils, but using metal isn't necessarily harmful.)

Wash with hot water, no soap. (Update: I usually scrub with a brush in hot water, and sometimes add a drop of soap. My preference is to wash the cast iron skillet LAST, in the only-slightly-soapy dish water that's leftover, and then scrub under very hot water, rinse, and dry.)

After washing, dry with towel and then heat the empty skillet on a burner for a few minutes to make sure it's really dry.

Cranberry Oatmeal Blender Pancakes recipe
Cranberry Oatmeal Blender Pancakes (cooked on cast iron)

Tips for keeping a well-seasoned cast iron skillet:

Use your cast iron for browning ground beef or turkey, or any cooking that already has a high fat content. This will speed along the wonderful seasoning of the interior of your cookware!

Conversely, cooking acidic foods like tomatoes or applesauce in cast iron will eat away at the seasoning. This doesn't harm your cast iron cookware, and will add some iron to your diet. Keep in mind that simmering chili or applesauce in cast iron could change the flavor of your food slightly.

Seasoning tip: Coat the inside of the skillet with oil or shortening and set it on your stove's heat vent (from the oven) when it's in use. This is a nice "extra" way to season cast iron, especially when doing lots of winter baking! :)

By the way, for those of you who don't have a cast iron skillet but are interested, mine is Lodge brand, from Wal-mart and (I think) cost about $8. I think they still sell them for under $10. Sometimes you can find them at thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales, too.

Turkey breakfast sausage crumbles cooked in my cast iron skillet
Turkey Breakfast Sausage crumbles in my cast iron skillet

Some of my favorite things to do with my cast iron skillet:

Make homemade refried beans. Mmmmmm!!! Somehow refried beans seem to taste better when made in a cast iron skillet! :)

Brown ground beef for tacos, casseroles or to freeze (for easy meal-assembly later)

Make turkey breakfast sausage patties or crumbles (pictured above). SO delicious -- I'll share the recipe later this week! :)

Stir-fry veggies. (I do use some oil when cooking veggies or non-greasy things like chicken breasts in my cast iron skillet. It's well-seasoned but still not quite like a Teflon non-stick pan would be, in my opinion.)

Pan-fry cod or pollock. A little oil, a little seasoning (garlic, salt, pepper -- very lightly!) and the fish cooks in just a few minutes per side. I've been serving my pan-fried fish with rice or cooked pasta, and sometimes a red or white sauce. It's a nice change from grilled or baked fish! :)

Fry pancakes. Except I now have a cast iron griddle for pancakes and don't usually need to pull out the skillet, too. I got the griddle for $39 on and while I like it, I wouldn't say I quite *love* it... :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please!

In order to keep the kitchen tips more easily accessible, posts not adhering to these guidelines will be removed. We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Streamlining making water kefir (Katie at Kitchen Stewardship)
2. Covering large bowls (Frugal in Florida)
3. 10 things to do with stale bread (The Local Cook)
4. Cleaning a burnt on pan (Gwen at Gwen's Nest)
5. Drying ziplock bags (Anne Jisca at Anne Jisca's Healthy Pursuits)
6. Stretching meat for people who don't like beans (The Cheapskate Cook)
7. Asparagus tips (Where The Kudzu Grows)
8. How to turn a brownie recipe into a cake (Cheryl at The Bz House That Love Built)
9. What to make from things you already have (Cheryl at The Bz House That Love Built)
10. Tips for making chicken tenders in bulk (Alea at Premeditated Leftovers)
11. Ground beef time saver tip (2 Make Ends Meet)
12. Uses for orange peels (Rachel at Trial and Error Home Ec)
13. Serving brussels sprouts (Jodi at Lg Family Farm)

Eat Well, Spend Less: Frugal Budget Considerations for 2012

Last January (2011), I shared some of my thoughts and plans after having re-evaluated our household budget. Having a plan in place to change even just a handful of our practices or habits has helped keep our budget on track throughout the year. I thought I'd give an update on last year's goals and brainstorm areas where I still want to improve.

My goal last year was to budget tightly enough to save for the "extras" that pop up in life -- like a new baby, vehicle repairs, medical things, etc. (Speaking of "medical things", Joshua's surgery this week went well [praise GOD!] and he is home recovering. He'll have a second surgery in February, and should be able to return to work in April.)

My plan for 2011 included:

Continue having 1 vehicle -- did this all year and are continuing :)

Continue having only basic phone service (no cell phones or long distance) -- same

Continue having Netflix (no TV, no movies, and no other movie rentals or purchases) -- Canceled Netflix in August, 2011

Continue menu planning -- did better, but not 100% on this

Discontinue restaurant/take-out eating (none, vs. the 6-8 times per year for the past couple of years) -- We ate out (as a family) twice, Joshua got take-out twice, and we got hot dogs at Costco 4-5 times, so... not really an improvement, but not too bad :)

Go to Costco every 2 weeks instead of every week -- we averaged shopping every 10-14 days, so much better than weekly! :)

Spend only $420/month on food/household/toiletries -- this has increased to $500/month; I'm just not sure what else I want to cut when it comes to groceries...

Continue to keep the heat at 64 or lower -- we did this, but getting the furnace repaired (by the landlord) ended up reaping much bigger savings, yay!

Wash towels and whites in cold water instead of hot (use a few drops of bleach instead) -- I went back to hot water for whites/towels, 1 load per week

Take shorter showers (this is a hard one for me!) -- I've been taking fewer showers, not that that's a good thing... ;)

Get Ruth potty trained (she's in Pull-Ups) -- did this in February, yay! :)

Go back to cloth diapers for Moshe (used disposables during December) -- went back to cloth diapers full-time and continued, aside from a 2-day break (just while flying to Ohio/to Seattle to visit my family)

Take a year-long break from buying stuff (we have so much already!) -- I *mostly* did this. Joshua got me a few gifts, though! :)

Shop around to see if we can get a cheaper car insurance rate -- looked into this but didn't make any changes

Recycle anything possible -- done

Call trash service and downgrade to smallest, customer-provided can (saving $7/month) -- did this, and have been able to fit our trash in the tiny can every week! :)

Get landlord to fix dripping faucet in bathroom -- fixed

Figure out how to pay bills online to save stamps -- found a couple I can pay online without extra charges :)

Continue blogging -- I mostly did this, in my bad-blogger way...

Get my recipe e-book finished -- Definitely did not get this done. I let too many things be my excuses/reasons not to make time to work on it...

Eat Well, Spend Less series

Eating Well, Spending Less in 2012

I don't know how many times we've gone over our household budget and...

...the only category it seems we can realistically fiddle with is the food/household items budget.

While I don't think I can actually reduce this year's food budget (can we say growing kids?!), I want to do more without spending more.

Specific ways I plan to accomplish this:

1. Continue to spend nearly all of our food/household budget money on food (instead of things like diapers!), which is one of the ways we eat well and stay within-budget.

2. Continue to go grocery shopping every 2 weeks (or even less often). This practice, especially, means I have to plan ahead -- which is a good thing.

3. Continue to plan menus, focusing on using fresh food at its peak, not wasting anything, and eating lots of affordable foods like beans and carrots. :)

4. Resist buying foods that are expensive but don't provide good nutrition.

5. Do more freezer cooking, and not just for "special occasions" like surgery or having a baby.

6. Introduce new kitchen tasks to the children as they grow older. Yehoshua will be 8 in April, and Eliyahu is 6 -- they could be more helpful and independent if I took more time to teach them to cook. Starting beans in the crock pot, making a pot of oatmeal for breakfast, or getting carrots ready to cook are some of the things I'd like to get them doing more regularly and independently! :)

7. Finally perfect a homemade chicken broth (from the bones after making roasted chicken). I've attempted a few times and didn't care for the results. :(

8. Try to limit desserts more than we already do. Desserts tend to be unhealthy and expensive, anyway. :)

This month's Eat Well, Spend Less series posts are on the topic of New Year's Food/Kitchen Resolutions! Check out what these ladies are sharing:

Jessica at Life As Mom: Teaching My Boys to Cook

Aimee at Simple Bites: Food Resolutions

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship: Yogurt, beans, and chicken broth

Shaina at Food For My Family: Overall Kitchen Organization

Katie at GoodLife{eats}: Variety with whole grains

Mandi at Life...Your Way: The Key to Changing Your Diet for Good

Carrie at Denver Bargains: Reducing Kitchen Waste

Amy at Kingdom First Mom

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Hosted at Good Cheap Eats this week!

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Jessica at Good Cheap Eats is hosting Kitchen Tip Tuesdays for me this week so I can be available for Joshua as he undergoes surgery on Tuesday.

Head over to Good Cheap Eats to read Jessica's post and others' tips or to submit your own tips and links! :)

Twisted Parmesan Breadsticks (new recipe)

These Parmesan twisted breadsticks are so good!! They are light, fluffy, cheesy, and garlicky! I love the bits of melted Parmesan cheese inside and the salty, buttery garlic flavor.

I also love the fancy twisted presentation. These breadsticks will dress up a simple dinner nicely. When I make them, they're everyone's favorite!

And, since I make the dough in my bread machine, it's not too time-consuming for me to make these breadsticks. (Bread machine directions are included in my recipe, as well as making by hand.)

I buy shredded (NOT grated) Parmesan cheese in bulk at Costco for special treats like these breadsticks. Real shredded Parmesan cheese is one of my favorite "food luxuries"!

When I buy a big bag of Parmesan cheese, I re-package it into sandwich-size Ziplock bags. Then, I put the small bags into a large Ziplock freezer bag and freeze them. (Double-bagging like that keeps the cheese nice and fresh!) The small bag thaws quickly when I pull it out to use.

Freezing in smaller portions is one of the ways I'm able to shop in bulk for nearly everything, yet still keep a variety of ingredients on hand and minimize food waste. :)

I had planned to make meatballs for the spaghetti, since meatballs are one of Joshua's favorites and I rarely make them -- but time ran short (oops -- I mean, I was running late on dinner as usual!) and I just fried and seasoned the meat and added sauce. I cooked frozen green beans and we had our "three things" dinner -- spaghetti, breadsticks, and green beans! It was perfect.

I cooked the meat and sauce in my cast iron skillet. I've been remembering to use it more often since it's supposed to help boost iron levels in foods, and my midwife gave me the "get more iron" talk last week. ;) The simmering tomato-based sauce tasted a little "irony" to Joshua, but I didn't notice a taste difference. But, I don't trust my taste buds too much these days since my nose is constantly stuffy (pregnancy-related). :)

Anyway, the bread sticks. Make them! They're amazing. :)

Giveaway winners from Cultures for Health and The Money Saving Mom's Budget

Ruth drinking kefir
Ruth drinking kefir :)

The 3 randomly-selected winners in the Cultures for Health giveaway this week are:

Carrie (wholesomewomanhood@)
Amy (chiltonthompson@)
Amy (amydeihl@)

Many thanks to Cultures for Health for offering this giveaway! :) If you were one of the winners, I've already emailed instructions on choosing a culture to try! :)

The 5 randomly-selected winners in The Money Saving Mom's Budget book giveaway are:

Angela (LibraryGirl@)
Rachel (drhotalen@)
Shannon (jellybeansjunk@)

If you were one of the winners, I've already emailed you so I can get your mailing address to send out your book! :)

In the event that a selected winner doesn't respond to my email, an alternate winner will be chosen and will hear from me through email. :)

Thanks for participating in the giveaways, everyone! :)

Snow, candlelight, leftovers, and grocery shopping

Yehoshua with the snow man

We're having an exciting week at our house. It's been snowing off-and-on since Saturday morning!!! Snow is exciting when it's a maybe-once-a-year event, and the kids have been playing in it for hours every day.

The very first day, the boys built two snow men (one shown above) and had fun rolling huge snowballs. The next day, they started on a snow fort in the back yard. The following few days were too cold to pack any snow, so they just tramped around in it and searched for icicles. :)

Sandwich by candlelight

Joshua stayed home from work yesterday and we had a fun "snow day" together at home (we still did school though), topped off by losing our power about 5pm for a couple hours.

I had made a big lunch (macaroni and cheese and veggies) and dinner was just going to be a cold-cut sandwich. So, we ate our sandwiches by candlelight and then sent the kids to bed with their flashlights. :)

Leftover chili and baked potatoes

For lunch, I found leftover baked potatoes and leftover chili in the fridge from earlier this week, and combined them for a yummy, filling meal. I need to plan to have these together more often! :)

Tonight was scheduled to be our bi-weekly shopping trip, but instead of the snow melting today as predicted, it's just piling higher! (I think we're up to 10+ inches at our house now, with a frozen layer of slush at the bottom.)

So, I'll adjust the week's end of my menu plan and hold off for a bit on shopping -- probably at least until Sunday or Monday. I pulled the milk I froze out of the freezer, and we're still good on eggs, cheese, and most everything else. I have fresh carrots and celery, and we're eating frozen veggies and canned fruit.

I'm so thankful to not have to go out when the weather is bad -- OR in the crowds that were out getting groceries last week when the weather was predicted to get snowy and icy! :)

I have some projects to work on while Moshe's still napping, but my plan is to get back online tonight to share a new recipe/pantry meal when the kids head to bed. Barring power outages or exhaustion. ;)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Separating frozen foods, steel wool pads, and a freezer stacking tip

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

As I've been working on freezer meals, I thought of a few freezer tips to share. :)

Separating frozen foods:

Freeze foods in a stack with TWO LAYERS (of waxed paper or something) between each item in order to remove the items individually. I've learned this the hard way (no pun intended) when trying to separate frozen hamburgers that I had placed a single layer of waxed paper between.

Two layers = easy separation, peel off waxed paper. One layer = possibly impossible to separate.

The same goes for freezing casseroles in a dish and planning to remove the frozen casserole from the dish: put two layers in the dish before filling for easy removal. :)

Steel wool scouring pads:

Store your in-use steel wool scouring pad ("Brillo" pad) in a ziplock bag in the freezer between uses to slow rust. Also, don't rinse out the pad unless necessary (not at all if possible) because washing away the soap speeds rusting.

(For the record, I no longer use steel wool scouring pads; I use Bar Keeper's Friend on our stainless steel cookware.)

My freezer

Storing small or bagged items in the freezer:

For the little bags of nuts, dry yeast, ground flax seed, wheat germ, or other such items that are best stored in the freezer, use a wire or plastic mesh basket to hold all the odd shapes and sizes of things -- and keep them from falling out! :)

Stacking food in the freezer:

Maximize freezer space by stacking same-size items together.

When I'm stacking frozen fruits or veggies, I like to stack them in a "pattern" of sorts -- corn, green beans, peas; corn, green beans, peas. This prevents me from needing to move too many bags of food while trying to get to the kind that ended up all on the bottom! :)

Next week (January 24, 2012) Kitchen Tip Tuesdays will be hosted by Jessica at Good Cheap Eats.

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please!

In order to keep the kitchen tips more easily accessible, posts not adhering to these guidelines will be removed. We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Dust-free KitchenAid mixer bowl + 8 more tips (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
2. Freezer food labeling tip (SnoWhite at Finding Joy in my Kitchen)
3. Tip for freezing grated cheese (Anne Jisca at Anne Jisca's Healthy Pursuits)
4. Spice organization (Liz & Doug at Pocket Change Gourmet)
5. Handmade pasta tips (The Local Cook)

My "Secret Ingredient" Biscuits (and a giveaway from Cultures for Health!)

I love to tease Joshua when he compliments my cooking. "I used a secret ingredient." ;)

And one of my secret ingredients? Homemade kefir. It makes a great buttermilk substitute and turns out the best biscuits and pancakes! And since kefir keeps so long in the fridge, I pretty much always have some on hand when a recipe calls for buttermilk (or even just plain milk, in baking recipes).

Making biscuits with kefir
Making biscuits with my kefir

I've also found that my kefir grains are pretty hardy. I'd been using my current kefir grains for about a year when I got pregnant with baby #5, morning sickness hit, and Joshua cooked dinner every night for a month. (Or two. I don't really remember because I was, umm, napping!)

One thing Joshua didn't do -- and I didn't do either -- was to care for my kefir grains. I know, I know. Those little "babies" I'd been tending, even taking them with me on the airplane when I went to visit my family in May... were then left in a jar on the counter for several weeks. Every time I thought about giving them some fresh milk, I wondered if they were even still alive and then just didn't touch them.

Finally, probably about 6 weeks later, I pushed past the "I'm a bad kefir-mom" feelings and took out 2 little kefir grains and started giving them fresh milk every day. It did take about 2 weeks for them to revive, and even longer for my beautiful thick creamy kefir consistency to return. But it did! They're alive! I'm so glad. And next time "life" gets too crazy to make kefir, I'll put them in the fridge to rest like I should have done.

Giveaway this week (3 days only!):

Cultures for Health is a company located here in Washington state and they offer starters and cultures for a variety of different healthy foods -- like milk kefir, water kefir, sourdough, yogurt, buttermilk, kombucha and more! Cultures for Health also offers supplies for cheese making, sprouting, and other fun stuff.

Cultures for Health offers 9 different kinds of yogurt starters, including some that will culture right on your counter (like kefir), skipping the tedious warming of milk and monitoring temperatures. (I know some people say that homemade yogurt is super easy, but I beg to differ!) :)

The giveaway (3 winners!):

Go here to enter the Cultures for Health giveaway. Giveaway is open Monday, January 16th, 2012 through Wednesday, January 18th, 2012. THREE random winners will be given the opportunity to choose a culture of their choice from Cultures for Health! :) (Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Cultures for Health. But I love opportunities for you guys to win something I love!)

Use this code to get 10% off your order at Cultures for Health placed January 16-20, 2012: TR2012

New to kefir? Go watch my short video showing how simple it is to make!

I've also written about:

How I use kefir in recipes

Smooth and Creamy Maple-Sweetened Kefir (one of our favorite drinks!)

Photo tutorial for making homemade kefir

How to make homemade yogurt (and why I make kefir instead!) 

Weekly menu plan (January 16-22, 2012) and grocery update

Weekly menu plan

All my freezer cooking last week? It went great. All my blogging plans for last week? Not so great. ;) I think I underestimated how much time I'd be spending cooking and how much food I'd need to make if I wanted to have enough left for 2-3 freezer meals after we ate dinner! :)

I'm not planning much freezer cooking this week, since I have other things I need to spend time doing before Joshua's surgery next week.

We're going grocery shopping on Thursday, which will be 2 weeks since our last shopping trip. I don't think I'll need to spend much, but I do need to get a few things to hold us over for the following 2 weeks. I'll share the items/prices after the shopping trip! :)

This week's menu plan:


My mom's meatloaf, baked potatoes, peas


Hearty beef and lentil chili, garlic bread, green beans


Creamy macaroni and cheese, leftover chili, green beans


Teriyaki salmon, brown rice, and stir-fried veggies (I made bean sprouts for this!)


Pizza, cooked veggies (and I am doing "real" pizza, not the biscuit crust kind!!)


Beef and spinach quiche, green beans, corn


Not sure -- depends on Ruth's birthday meal requests :)

Lunches: Bean burritos or leftovers

Breakfasts: Oatmeal or fruit smoothies

Pantry Challenge

This week's menu actually is mostly planned from my pantry/freezer (unlike last week!).

For our family, this pantry challenge is a continuation of fewer shopping trips, getting my freezers organized, and starting to make and store some freezer meals. So far, we're doing okay on the shopping, the freezers are pretty organized (and I know exactly what's in there), and I'm feeling more ready for the challenges ahead now that I've got a good start on my freezer meals.

Be sure to visit the other bloggers who will be chronicling their January pantry challenges:

Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
The Finer Things in Life
Getting Freedom from Debt
Good Cheap Eats


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