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Weekday lunches at home: Beans and tortillas

Eating lunch on a weekday

Last week, a reader named Molly left a comment asking for tips on making/serving lunch as a homeschool mom. I am cheap and boring when it comes to lunches... one of our mainstays is PBJ! We do vary our lunch menu some, but I also don't worry if we have the same lunches over and over. Our dinner leftovers usually disappear on the weekends, so I do make "new" things for lunch.

This week, we've been having beans and tortillas. For the past month or so, I've been trying to keep grocery spending especially low and I've been focusing on using things from the pantry. We LOVE beans and my pantry is well-stocked due to having purchased 25-pound bags of lentils, garbanzo beans, red beans, great northern beans, black beans, and pinto beans. I'm not joking when I say that we love beans! :)

Cooked pinto beans on a fresh corn tortilla
Cooked Pinto Beans on a fresh corn tortilla

If you've never cooked dried beans, and even if you think you don't care for beans -- I really encourage you to try cooking your own! Buy a small bag and follow the directions on the bag. (Before choosing a kind of beans, pick out a recipe that uses beans!)

Before bed, I rinse and soak a couple pounds of dried beans in water with salt. I soak them in the large stock pot that I plan to cook them in. The next morning, I drain the soaking water, add fresh water, cover, and turn them on medium-low. Then, it's hands-off until lunch time in about 4-5 hours. A pot of hot, fresh beans for lunch is one of our favorite, super easy, super affordable lunches.

If I have leftover rice, I would warm that up in the microwave to go with the beans. I always have cheese on hand, as well as sour cream and Tapatio (our favorite hot sauce!). If I have tortilla chips, I sometimes serve those with the beans as well.

Eliyahu making corn tortillas
Eliyahu (8) mixing corn tortillas

As I was brainstorming my pantry-menu this week, I remembered that I had a couple bags of Masa instant corn tortilla flour. On Monday, I put Eliyahu to work reading the "recipe" and measuring the flour and water for homemade corn tortillas. He then pressed the 16 tortillas (which wasn't enough, by the way) and I cooked them to go with our beans.

Eliyahu pressing the corn tortillas
Pressing the tortillas

On Tuesday, Ruth and Eliyahu each mixed up batches of 12 tortillas and pressed them. I heated up leftover beans and rice in the microwave and we had little tacos. The kids begged to do the same thing on Wednesday, and Thursday (today). My bag of flour is still 1/3 full! :)

Cooked pinto beans recipe
Cooked Pinto Beans recipe

With our beans for lunch, we usually have some kind of fruit and vegetable. This week, it's been carrot sticks and frozen strawberries and blueberries. Usually I try to also keep apples, bananas, and cucumbers on hand for snacking or lunches.

Sleep, Breakfast, and Calorie Counting

Salmon, eggs, and coffee for breakfast
Three fried eggs (240 cal.), 4 oz. salmon (169 cal.) and a cup of black coffee
= 409 calorie breakfast (20 g fat and 47 g protein)

Last year when I decided to get serious about losing weight again, I had a handful of healthful practices in mind that I tried to prioritize (or continue to prioritize). Ten months later, and 40+ pounds lighter, I'm ready to blog about it.

Top of my list: Sleep and breakfast.

We all know how important a good night's sleep is; study after study confirms just how much our bodies need sleep for us to be at our best and feel well. I used to skip sleep, get naps when possible, and just be tired most of the time. How did you think I managed to start this blog with 2 kids two-and-under? ;)

A few years ago, I really changed my sleep habits for the better. I stopped blogging late at night after everyone was in bed, and instead started going to bed on time or early. With two of our children being especially early risers (4:30 is nothing to them!), getting up "before the kids" has been impossible. This partially explains why, after cutting out the late nights, my blogging dwindled to basically nothing -- not to mention my email inbox and anything else computer-related.

As a result, I have felt healthier. I'm positive the full nights of sleep have boosted my weight loss and mood, as well. And now? I'm a big baby if my night involves less than 8 hours of sleep. I fight to make my early bedtime happen, because I want to feel rested in the morning! Do you know how much easier it is to be "a morning person" after 8 hours of sleep? It's a lot easier than after 5-6.

After sleep comes breakfast! I do not skip breakfast. Aside from the studies showing how important a good breakfast is for health and weight loss, I've learned something from my own weight loss efforts:

I have to "start over" a lot. A ton. I don't even know how many times I have gone to bed telling myself "I will start over tomorrow. I can do this!!"

Which brings me to... breakfast! I'm pretty sure if I were "graded" on how healthy my meals were overall, breakfast would rank at the top. My motivation and willpower is strong with a fresh day ahead.

Salmon, eggs, and coffee for breakfast
My salmon and eggs for breakfast -- a delicious combo!

I do vary my diet based on what we have on hand or were able to purchase affordably (for the most part). I know I've mentioned that one of the perks of Joshua's employment at a seafood company is discounted fish. I've been so spoiled!

One of the cases of fish we got last fall was 4-ounce salmon fillets, individually vacuum sealed, with a chili pepper-type sauce/marinade. The rest of my family didn't care for the sauce, but I found I loved this salmon. Since each piece was individually sealed, I could thaw out one for myself whenever I wished (I use the microwave to cook it).

For some reason I had one for breakfast one day (hey, like I said, my healthy-eating desires are strongest in the morning...) with some eggs. It was a delicious combo and filled me up until lunchtime!

So, I ditched my morning oatmeal for a while. We had 20# of this salmon, and that's a lot of 4-ounce breakfasts! I'm not tired of it yet, but I'm down to the last 6 pieces. I haven't decided what I'll do when it's gone. I may go back to oatmeal, or maybe I'll start doing veggie omelets. I'll probably try something and see how I feel.

How I feel is a good barometer for what to eat. With trying to lose weight, I was paying close attention to what I was eating. When I finished a day and felt energized and alert and just generally good that day, I took note of what I had eaten.

My coffee mug from Joshua
My cute coffee mug from Joshua with breakfast

I keep a food diary at My Fitness Pal, which makes it easy to keep track of what I am eating. It was like a light bulb moment when I realized that when I had a "perfect" day of good foods that made me feel great -- I could eat the same things the next day, too. Whether it was the specific foods or the times of day I was eating them, keeping a food log (which includes statistics about protein, fat, carbs, fiber, and sugar as well as calories) has been immensely helpful.

So, that is one of the reasons I've continued to have the same things for breakfast every day. Aside from, you know, having 20 pounds of salmon in the freezer. ;) I'm a big proponent of variety in my diet, but while trying to lose weight I tried to figure out what "worked" and then keep doing it.

I have lots more to write! I'll be back. :)

Find me on My Fitness Pal! If you're a member there (it's free), you can view my detailed food logs.

How to make perfect fried eggs -- I do this daily, 1 egg for Joshua and 3 eggs for me, with a dab of coconut oil. The eggs are perfect and my stainless steel skillet is a breeze to clean!

Willpower -- a book I got from the library. The chapter on dieting was enlightening! Check your library for it! (Disclaimer: I only skimmed the rest of the book. Read Catherine's review here.)

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! :)

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:

Monday

My mom's meatloaf, baked potatoes, peas

Tuesday

Hearty beef and lentil chili, garlic bread, green beans

Wednesday

Creamy macaroni and cheese, leftover chili, green beans

Thursday

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

Friday

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

Saturday

Beef and spinach quiche, green beans, corn

Sunday

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

Freezer meal plan (January 2012)

Chicken Gravy and Biscuits recipe
Chicken Gravy and Biscuits (from Eliyahu's birthday meal this weekend!)

Last week I mapped out my freezer meal plan. I love having meals in the freezer, because it makes menu planning (and dinner prep!) so much easier!

My problem is that I like using the meals more than I like making them. ;) So if they're there, I tend to use them... unless I'm planning ahead for a specific event (like the birth of a new baby) and making myself be a good girl and save the freezer meals for later. :)

Our new baby isn't due until the end of March, so normally I wouldn't have started my freezer meals quite yet. But, as it happens, Joshua will be having two major surgeries (craniotomies) before that time, so I decided to jump-start my freezer meal cooking and hopefully be ready for whatever happens post-surgery. :) (The surgeries are to treat two different conditions -- Trigeminal Neuralgia and Superior Canal Dehiscence. This You Tube video describes what Joshua experiences from having SCD.)

Anyway, my freezer meals will certainly come in handy over the next few months! I'm looking forward to getting the freezer stocked with prepared (homemade!) foods again. :)

My favorite freezer meal resources/tips:

My FoodSaver. We've had ours for 10+ years and it's so handy for storing food compactly and fighting freezer burn. I wrote more about why I like having a FoodSaver here! :)

The "mold" technique -- freezing casseroles and then removing from the dish. (I then use the FoodSaver to seal the "squares" of food.) Same size = easy stacking! Plus, I'm not wasting space by storing dishes in the freezer (not to mention the cost of disposable dishes!).

The "straw" technique. For softer foods like cookies or burritos, or individually-wrapped foods (like burritos, chimichangas, egg rolls, etc.), I double-Ziplock-freezer-bag them, using a straw to suck out the air in each bag. My freezer burritos stay fresh a long time in the freezer this way!

Life As Mom's freezer tips. Check out her site for lots more variety -- she's an expert! ;)

Yehoshua helping with the quiche
Yehoshua helped weigh and wash spinach for our quiche last Friday

My freezer meal plan includes mostly main dish meals. If I have time, I'll do some of the make-ahead pantry foods (like granola!). Most likely I won't do any desserts, due to time and expense. For breads, I'll just use my bread machine as-needed. We actually haven't been eating a lot of bread these days. (We often have fish and rice is a good side for that. Joshua takes beans or leftovers in his lunch rather than sandwiches.)

And the best part of my plan? I'm planning these meals into our weekly dinner menus so I can just make a super big batch and freeze the extras (hopefully 2-4 meals' worth). I'll be spending extra time on "dinner prep" each night, but I won't be spending the whole day in the kitchen. Well, okay, I will -- because we do our school work and everything else in the kitchen too. ;)

Playing with boxes from Costco
The kids in their box tower after last week's Costco trip :)

Main dish freezer meals I'm making (frozen before baking unless noted):

Quiche (I made this crustless to save time)
Beef and Bean Enchiladas (add extra sauce)
Easy lasagna (add extra sauce)
Saucy Broccoli Chicken Bake (under-cook the broccoli, put a layer of rice in the bottom)
Chicken gravy (to serve with biscuits or rice)
Spinach rice casserole
Italian Beef and Beans (to serve with pasta)
Cheesy Chicken Vermicelli
Tuna Noodle Casserole
Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
Freezer-friendly bean and rice burritos
Breakfast burritos
Three-cheese baked spaghetti (add extra sauce)

Other easy meals from my freezer:

Crock pot BBQ chicken (serve with buns or over rice)
Salmon burgers
Pan-fried pollock (serve with rice)

Soups for the freezer:

Beef Vegetable Soup
White Chili
My Mom's Chili
Veggie Bean Soup with Spinach

Breakfasts or other:

Whole wheat berry pancakes (cooked; re-warm in toaster)
My mom's granola
Cinnamon Crunch Granola
Chewy oatmeal chocolate chip granola bars
Easy baked apple oatmeal
Maple Rosemary Bean Salad
Grilled chicken breast (for on pizza, quesadillas, etc.)
Cooked pinto beans

See also: My freezer meal plan and updates from before Moshe was born! :)

I'll be using lots of the groceries we got last week -- starting with the more perishable things like spinach and broccoli. For my weekly menu plans, I'm just picking things from these lists that I haven't made yet, and then making as large a batch as possible. :)

This freezer cooking is going to be my "big" project over the next 2 weeks! I hope to get the majority of it done in that time, and then in late February after both surgeries are over I'll evaluate what I want to make/add before the new baby's born! :)

Grocery shopping - January 2012 (H Mart & Costco)

Groceries from H Mart
Groceries from H Mart

A friend took me shopping this week and we stopped at H Mart, an Asian grocery store. I got the last few things needed to make egg rolls and sushi. :)

Spring roll wrappers $1.99
Spring roll wrappers $1.29
Dried mung beans (to sprout) $3.99/lb.
Fresh ginger $0.18
Red cabbage $1.83
Rice vinegar $2.49
Green onions $0.39
Baby bok choy $0.57
Rice vermicelli $1.29

Total at H Mart $14.02

Then last night, we went to Costco. It had been 3 1/2 weeks since our last Costco trip, with just one QFC trip in-between to get eggs and oranges.

My fridge was getting pretty empty:

Fridge before shopping

The freezers still had frozen fish, chicken, veggies, fruits, and butter. :) AND 3 pounds of ground beef that I found when I organized everything! :)

Now, about Costco. I spent over $400! Before we went, I planned out my freezer cooking plan for this month. I realized that I was going to need extra eggs, milk, cheese, meat, and veggies if I was going to put a bunch of dinners in the freezer (hopefully a couple months' worth) AND still feed everyone for the next ~2.5 weeks until our next shopping trip.

I've tried stretching shopping trips or "eating from the pantry" without planning for it (i.e. BUYING FOOD!) and it was a disaster. I mean, we do need to eat. ;) The only reason we can wait 2 weeks (or longer) between shopping trips is because I buy EXTRA milk, extra veggies, extra fruits.

Shopping less frequently saves time, cuts the urge to impulse-spend, and helps me make sure I use up my whole 10-pound bag of carrots from Costco... but we don't actually eat less food. ;)

Fresh produce from Costco

Fresh produce:

Organic carrots (10#) $5.99
Celery (3pk.) $2.99 (x2)
Broccoli (3#) $4.29 (x2)
Brussels Sprouts (2#) $4.79
Grape tomatoes (2#) $5.99 -- item requested by Eliyahu for his b-day meal :)
Mini cucumbers (2#) $4.59 -- same as above :)
Bananas (3#) $1.39
Mini peppers (2#) $3.99
Anjou pears (6#) $3.99
Spinach (3#) $4.59
Clementines (5#) $5.99 -- another of Eliyahu's requests :)

Meat and dairy from Costco

Meat and dairy:

Milk ($2.53/gal.) $25.30 -- I froze 2 gallons of this
Sour cream (3#) $3.89
Ground beef ($2.99/lb.) $19.08
Ground turkey ($2.29/lb.) $15.02
Shredded mozzarella cheese (5#) $11.99 (x2)
Turkey breast lunch meat (2#) $6.14 (x2) -- new item we're trying :)
Heavy whipping cream (1/2 gal.) $6.99
Shredded cheddar jack cheese (5#) $12.45 (x2)
Sliced American cheese (5#) $10.99

Other food

Eggs (5doz.) $7.89 (x3)
Burrito-size tortillas (40 ct.) $5.59 -- for freezer burritos
Corn tortillas (100 ct.) $3.32 -- for enchiladas (for the freezer)
Pasta (6#) $7.89

Frozen food

Frozen food:

Organic corn (5#) $5.59 (x2) -- this corn is the best!! :)
Organic peas (5#) $5.89 (x2)
Organic green beans (5#) $5.99 (x2)
Strawberries (6#) $8.99
Blueberries (5#) $13.99
Sweet potato fries (4#) $4.49 (x3) -- trying these w/the coupon this month!

Pantry staples

Pantry items:

Prego sauce (134oz.) $5.64 (x2)
Applesauce $7.85 -- I use this in Joshua's lunches
Baking potatoes (20#) $6.99
Cheerios (37.5oz.) $5.69 (x2)
Chunk pineapple (#10can) $4.65 (x2)
Peaches (#10can) $3.99
Pears (#10can) $4.19
Rolled oats (10#) $7.39
Craisins (48oz.) $3.98
Organic raisins (2#) $7.79
Special K cereal bars (35ct.) $5.38 (x2)
Sugar (10#) $6.59
Ziplock sandwich bags (500ct.) $6.59 (x2) -- probably should have just got 1 of these

My very full fridge
The fridge is very full now!! :)

And... I think that's everything! I did need to buy postage stamps, but I'm not sure if that should count as my "grocery budget"... and I also spent $12.95 at Target this week for night light light bulbs, duct tape, body wash, and a tongue cleaner.

Note on light bulbs:

Our Costco has energy-efficient light bulbs for a super good deal (instant rebate), making them as low as $0.49 for a package of 4!!!! They've had this deal for quite a while, but I haven't seen it advertised. There are several kinds to choose from (I love the "daylight" ones!), and a few have a limit of 4 packages, but some are unlimited.

Anyway, I usually skip the light bulb aisle at Costco, but this deal is worth stocking up! :)

I will share my freezer meal plan next (hopefully later today!), which is basically lists of my favorite freezer-friendly meals that I want to make over the next month or so. :)

Pantry Challenge

As you can see, it's not "eating from the pantry" for us right now! That will come in the next few months... :)

For me, this pantry challenge is a continuation of fewer shopping trips, getting my freezers organized, and starting to make and store some 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

Grocery shopping and menu plan for the rest of December 2011

This week's menu plan and groceries

Okay, so I know there are only 3 days left in December. ;) But so far this week we've eaten leftovers, fish sticks and veggies, and an oven-roasted chicken and potato wedges. I've had headaches and have taken our week "off" to just be lazy, play, and take naps. ;)

Monday was our two-weeks-since-shopping day, but we didn't want to venture out in the after-Christmas crowds. So, Joshua went to QFC right down the road and picked up a few things on sale:

The rest of December's groceries

8 lbs of oranges -- $4.99
5.77 lbs of bananas -- $3.98
18 Lg eggs -- $1.99 (x3)
Ginger Ale -- $1 (x2)
Tums -- $3.49

Total: $20.43

I still have enough milk, frozen veggies, carrots, and potatoes from Costco, so I think we'll wait until after New Year's and then make a big trip there for "everything". In all, I'm so happy with our grocery spending for December! I've had variety to try new things, but we've also eaten quite a few cheaper things like pinto beans, cooked carrots, potatoes, and oatmeal. :)

The ginger ale was Joshua's idea, and he made some homemade egg nog and added ginger ale to it. Yummy! Then, he put some of the homemade egg nog into his ice cream maker and we had some delicious egg nog ice cream! The kids had ginger ale/egg nog "floats". I guess it's the winter version of a "root beer float". ;)

In January, I'll be continuing my bi-weekly grocery shopping! Planning a menu and then shopping bi-weekly at Costco seems to be the easiest and most time-efficient way for me to save money on our groceries. :)

Pantry Challenge

I'm also joining Jessica at Good Cheap Eats for her January Pantry Challenge!

As Jessica says, this freezer challenge is NOT:

It is NOT a total abstinence of grocery shopping.
It is NOT putting stockpiling on hold.
It is NOT oatmeal and rice and beans until the cows come home.

For me, this challenge will be a continuation of fewer shopping trips, getting my freezers organized, and starting to make and store some freezer meals. I'll share more details on my freezer meal plans soon! :)

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

Ruth

To boost myself out of "lazy mode", I've made a goal for each day the rest of this week/year. :)

This week's goals:

Today (Thursday): Clean up the house. We did some cleaning over the weekend, but I have a few things left: 1 bathroom, 1 load of laundry, and windows.

Friday: Organize our homeschool shelves, and anywhere else that's "overflowing". ;)

Saturday: Rest. :) Then, Saturday evening, write out my freezer meal ideas/plan/schedule.

My menu plan for the rest of the week:

Thursday: Pan-fried cod, green beans, black beans and rice

Friday: Spaghetti and meatballs, homemade garlic bread, green beans

Saturday: Leftovers, freezer-friendly bean and rice burritos, or something in the crock pot

Sunday: Eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, and then spending the day with friends (no cooking required from me!!) :)

Weekly menu plan (December 19-25, 2011)

After I made last week's menu plan, we did a big grocery shopping trip, with plans to wait at least 2 weeks before shopping again. (For groceries. As I type this, Joshua is out with the boys getting some much-needed tires for our van and some much-needed tennis shoes for Eliyahu...)

I'm actually hoping we can wait longer than 2 weeks between shopping trips again, because we end up eating everything (like every last bit of the 10-pound bag of organic carrots from Costco, which is possibly the cheapest vegetable side dish ever!). Plus, I'd like to avoid the crazy holiday traffic and busy stores. I'm a homebody. But, we'll see. :)

"Lasagna"
My Easy Lasagna from last week, which wasn't really lasagna due to not having lasagna noodles and using fettuccine instead! It was still delicious. I made one dish as written and one dish with spinach and eggplant instead of meat... I forgot how much I love veggie lasagna!! :)

Here is my menu plan for this week!

Monday

Spinach Rice Casserole (love this!!) with leftover chicken added for some protein, steamed broccoli, cooked carrots

Tuesday

Baked Teriyaki Salmon, rice, steamed broccoli, cooked carrots

Wednesday

Pan-fried pollock, rice, green beans

Thursday

Oven-roasted chicken, seasoned baked potato wedges, cooked peas and carrots

Friday

Spaghetti and meatballs, green beans, salad, and Italian garlic bread

Spaghetti and meatballs with homemade garlic bread
Spaghetti and meatballs with Italian garlic bread
(I so rarely make this, my pictures of it are 5+ years old!)

Saturday

Beans and rice, and any available leftovers

Sunday

Chicken gravy (using leftover chicken from Thursday) with drop biscuits, fruit

Ruth drinking kefir
Ruth drinking kefir

Lunches this week:

Beans or grilled cheese sandwiches or leftovers, fruit (oranges, bananas)

Breakfasts this week:

Whole wheat Swedish pancakes (crepes) (x2)
Regular old oatmeal (x3)
Fruit smoothies (including blackberries from our freezer and homemade kefir) (x2)

Other cooking/baking I want to do this week:

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
Creamy pear pie (haven't gotten this made from last week!)
Homemade egg nog (for the weekend)

What Moshe thinks about playing in the sink!
This is what Moshe (23 months) thinks about playing in a sink with water! :)

Visit Organizing Junkie for more menu plans! :)

All of my weekly menu plans can be found here.

Grocery Shopping - December (Costco, QFC)

Groceries from QFC

We went grocery shopping this week! I am excited to be getting back into grocery shopping every 2 weeks (instead of every 7-10 days), and I must say... I was the only one at our house who complained as the variety got slim last week! :O I don't usually complain, but caught myself wishing aloud that we could go shopping as soon as the 2 weeks was up, because I was tired of not having whatever I wanted on hand!

But then I stopped and realized how blessed I am that my family was happy to eat whatever I made and that there had been no complaints from anyone, about any of the meals, and we were still eating lots of good food. :)

Anyway, Joshua went to the stores with my detailed list and did a great job of sticking to the list (and pushing a very heavy cart at Costco!). Here is what we got, which will allow us to wait at least another two weeks before going shopping again!

At QFC, a few sale items and some bananas (pictured above). There are 3 whole chickens in the bag for $0.88/lb, and the butter was $2/lb. I thought the butter was a good price, so we got 12 packages, but turns out it was only $0.05/lb. cheaper than butter at Costco, anyway. The chickens, however, were $0.11/lb. cheaper than Costco's chickens, so we saved a little on those. :)

QFC total: $50.99

Groceries from Costco

Most of our groceries are from Costco, as you can see. ;) We spent over $250 there.

Groceries from Costco

Bananas (3#)  $1.39
String cheese (60oz.) $10.55
Romaine lettuce (6ct.) $3.49
Shredded cheddar jack cheese (5#) $12.99
Broccoli florets, fresh (3#) $4.29
Applesauce (181oz.) $7.85
Shredded mozzarella cheese (10#) $21.98
Pears (6#) $3.99
Rolled oats (20#) $14.78
Whole milk (8 gal.) $20.24
Toilet paper $17.99
Instant oatmeal (104ct.) $13.98
Yellow onions (10#) $2.89
Canned pineapple (3kg.) $4.65
Yukon Gold potatoes (15#) $8.49
Oranges (13#) $8.99
Greek yogurt (2qt.) $6.99
Organic carrots (10#) $5.99
Frozen fruit blend (5#) $8.79
Frozen strawberries (6#) $8.99
Frozen berry blend (5#) $10.59
Organic frozen green beans (15#) $17.97
Organic frozen peas (10#) $11.78
Xlg eggs (10 dozen) $15.78
Dried cherries (20oz.) $6.99
Organic baby spinach (1#) $3.89

Costco total: $257.63

Groceries from Costco

We'll be using meat from our freezer (fish and chicken). A few of these items are especially for Joshua (easy to chew) -- like the applesauce and instant oatmeal.

We'll eat the fresh fruit this week (oranges, bananas, kiwi, pears) and the frozen fruit (hopefully not all of it, of course!) next week. :) Same with the veggies -- fresh broccoli, spinach, and lettuce this week; frozen veggies and carrots next week. :)

Here is what our fridge looked like after QFC but before Costco:

Empty-ish fridge

And after:

Full fridge

And I actually still had some room in the fridge :O I did put some of the cheese in the freezer. :)

And if you feel like weighing in... how do the prices at Costco compare to what you've been paying? :) I spent about 20 minutes making out my menu plan and list for Costco, and Joshua was gone 90 minutes total, shopping (he only took 1 child along). ;)

Weekly menu plan (December 12-18, 2011)

Would you believe we still haven't gone grocery shopping yet this month?! Yesterday was 16 days since buying any groceries, and Joshua made a quick run to the nearby QFC for a couple sale items and bananas. I'm totally out of vegetables (fresh, frozen, or canned except tomatoes), down to just frozen strawberries for fruit, 1 egg left (out of the 10 dozen we bought 17 days ago), 3 cups of milk left, no cheese, no potatoes, etc...

Tonight, Joshua's going to Costco (yay!), and we'll have a full fridge and freezer again. (I'll post about our shopping trip tomorrow.)

I had fun planning this week's menu! And I do like bi-weekly grocery shopping. It saves time and we spend less because we end up eating cheaper things like carrots and extra beans. ;)

Monday

Lentil chili (I have 1/2 an onion left for this!), corn bread (1/2 the recipe since I have 1 egg), and strawberry slushies

Tuesday

Oven-roasted chicken, seasoned baked potato wedges, steamed broccoli

Wednesday

Beef vegetable soup, hearty herb bread

Thursday

Veggie Burgers (recipe from a friend), cooked peas and carrots

Friday

Pan-fried Halibut (new thing I'm trying), oven fries, green beans

Saturday

Easy lasagna, homemade garlic bread, green beans

Sunday

Beef enchiladas (from the freezer), and any leftover veggies, etc. from the fridge

Extras I want to do this week:

Mix up herbs for pregnancy tea (I didn't get that done yet)
Make homemade yogurt
Make creamy pear pie

Breakfasts:

Regular old oatmeal (x3)
Fruit smoothies (including blackberries from our freezer and homemade kefir) (x2)
Crepes and scrambled eggs (x2)

Lunches:

Beans with hot sauce and cheese (I will send this in Joshua's lunches too) or leftovers, bananas

Visit Organizing Junkie for more menu plans! :)

All of my weekly menu plans can be found here.

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