Week 7: Menu & Receipt

Lately, I’ve been able to stretch my 7 day meal plan and shopping to 8 or 9 days. Whether it’s because I just don’t have the time or I’m force-feeding leftovers to the family, I’m grateful since we’re still in a tight financial spot, as so many of us are, and need to conserve every penny.

That being said, the 4-year-old who named this blog, turned SIX on February 23rd and her younger sister turned 5 yesterday. We aren’t outrageous with gift-giving but when the yearly “Birthday Extravaganza” comes around we celebrate our daughters from one birthday to the next, as any proper celebration should play out. 30(ish) days of extraordinary fun! The little extras add up fast and I’m honestly looking forward to re-tightening our pocket.

photoThis week’s menu was thrown together just for the blog. I went shopping Tuesday morning while my little one was at preschool. Upon my husband’s request, I picked up a roast, I also went for the organic chicken club pack which cuts the cost per lbs from $7.99 to $6.99 and includes portions for 2 dinners instead of one. Chicken thighs and wings seem to be a staple these days because 1) they’re a cheap option, 2) my family devours them and 3) they’re easy to make, bake and the leftovers are bangin!

Incidentally, a friend recently suggested a way to save money was to skip the organic chicken breast and go conventional. I won’t argue a monetary savings here and have typically suggested the same.  He added “Almost every article I read says that the nutritional benefit over regular chicken breasts is negligible. Most impurities and toxins are stored in fat and chicken is so lean that only trace amounts would even exist”.  He is an intelligent and trusted friend, with killer hair, so I stored this info in the ole’ brain and went for a sale on conventionally raised chicken drumsticks a few weeks ago, not breast meat, I realize. I roasted and served them to my girls for dinner. They didn’t gobble them up, as usual, but I didn’t give it much thought as appetite has ebbs and flows. The following day, I served myself a few for breakfast and nearly spit it out before I could get a napkin. The taste was so obviously inferior, it made me feel sick. Bad batch? I don’t know but it reminded me that choice does matter and organic chickens always taste better! I threw the rest away.

You’ll notice Tuesday starts off with chicken (cooked with onions and peppers) and noodles. I finally found a gluten-free, GMO-free noodle option at my local grocery store: TruRoots. After reading the website, I see they claim an ‘al dente’ texture after cooking. My husband, however, says he over cooked his first batch and they were a little mushy, but decent enough to eat. I didn’t warn him they were ‘different’ then his regular noodle variety so it doesn’t’ surprise me that it overcooked. Regular noodles could boil for much longer then required and still not become mushy. Imagine that sitting in your gut… just chillin. Despite over-cooking, he said he’d eat them again and that’s a win for me since we rarely have noodles and now we have some in stock.

photo-2Another exciting find I made was on thursday morning when I stopped by the grocery to pick up some taco shells for my now-5 year old’s requested birthday dinner: Bearitos. This little gem of a company is also non-GMO (found through my non-GMO app) and for a corn meal/chip company it was thrilling discovery since 85% of the corn in our country is genetically modified and that creeps me out. I suspect it’s mostly gluten-free as well, but they do not follow the testing practices for gluten so they do not claim it. They were delicious and had a more authentic taste then the cheaper, standard taco shells. I will now only buy GMO-free tortilla chips, as well. We’ve found and tried 1 or 2 other brands at my local store, my husband says they’re good but aren’t salty enough and I’m okay with that.

During this quick trip to the store, I decided to check the organic meat section for sales while I was there. Often you can find a few items marked down in yellow to add to your freezer and low and behold, I DID! 1 package of organic pork sausage (I often cut up and use sausage in my soups along with another protein) and 2 lbs of organic ground turkey breast were marked 50% off, so I snatched them up. That means you’ll have to add $4 for the taco shells and $12 for the extra organic sale-meat to my receipt for the week. Worth it!

I think I’ve covered everything from this week. My last request: Your favorite recipes including chicken thighs and ground turkey. Please comment here or add them to our Facebook page and you may see them on next week’s menu! Also, I added the spice combination I used for our taco seasoning to the Facebook timeline. Check it out & share with friends!


Week 6: Menu & Receipt

I don’t have a lot of time today so let’s keep this short and sweet, I hit a total of $109.06. If I were shopping at one store, I would have put back a pack of wings or thighs, or perhaps a bag of apples. Instead I put back my baking essentials of honey, vanilla and something else at the 2nd store, in order to stay closer to the budget of $100. It’s not a hardship to be without stock for cookies or muffins. Choice!

It's a learning curve shopping at 2 stores with this budget so bare with me while I work out the kinks!

It’s a learning curve shopping at 2 stores with this budget so bear with me while I work out the kinks!

This week’s menu was made after I went shopping based on the available funds, sales and meat choices that were in the stores. If you noticed, I used a $1 off coupon for some nitrate free pepperoni – just check Applegate’s website!

Our fries are fresh cut from sweet potatoes and/or organic white potatoes. My sandwiches are on lettuce. And real chili doesn't have beans! Ask a Texan.

Our fries are fresh-cut from sweet potatoes and/or organic white potatoes. My sandwiches are on lettuce… And real chili doesn’t have beans! Ask a Texan.

What are you having for dinner this week? Leave a comment or join us on Facebook to chime in on another topic.

To check out previous $100/week budget Menu & Receipt posts click below.


Sundays are Cookdays

I love Sundays!

First thing this morning, I emptied a large package of chicken legs into the crock pot, poured a smaller bottle of Franks Hot Sauce over, turned on high and then made a cup of coffee. While I made the girls breakfast, emptied the dishwasher, caught up on world events, social media and then took a shower, I planned my attack for the day. We hit the grocery store and wah-lah! 5 hours later, the chicken was off the bone and ready to separate. From the drumsticks (which are a super cheap meat option) I will make Buffalo Chicken, as well as a not-so-paleo BUT as-okay-as-I-can-make-it Buffalo Chicken Dip for my husband’s football watching enjoyment (Go Niners?).

Buffalo Chicken Dip

After removing the bones and sifting through for skin, I made 2 containers of chicken. The first, I added a bit more hot sauce to and after cooling, put into the fridge. I will use this to top salads and celery as needed for meal or snack options. I love a spicy chicken salad!

The other dish is reserved for the dip. Instead of following the recipes I’ve seen involving LOADS of cheese and dressing, I decided to see how little I could get away with, as I typically steer clear of dairy but love this dip. In a small pot on the stove top (low heat), I put a quarter block of cream cheese and a small handful of crumbled blue cheese, whisking occasionally. When melted, I let the mixture sit till the oil collected on the surface then poured off into the sink. I added the mixture to the shredded chicken, along with a load of hot sauce and stirred. I had my husband taste test to make sure the consistency was satisfactory for his non-Paleo palate because the lack of cheese was OKAY by me! It was perfect. Enjoy with cut celery.

While I sorted the chicken, I made a dozen Hardboiled Eggs to be used for salads, snacks and, if I find the time today, deviled eggs! (I didn’t find the time before cookday burnout set in and two little girls needed more direct attention.)

Next up: APPLE SAUCE! We love applesauce. I like to dip my meat in it (you read me!) pork, chicken, jerky, WHATEVER. Core, slice, dice and add to the crock pot on low with about a half cup of water for 3lbs of apples, then sprinkled cinnamon on top. I am loosely following a recipe for Homemade Applesauce that has recommendations on the types of apples to use for sauce. Our market had bags of Granny Smith and so it was decided. I stirred every 10-15 minutes until soft enough to throw in the blender, about an hour and a half today.

Homemade Apple Sauce

In the meantime, I dumped a pound of ground beef into a bowl, followed by salt, black pepper, pressed garlic, diced onions and celery along with a snip of countertop chives for good measure. Mixed, smooshed and mashed into Sliders for my husband, and (even mini’er) Mini Sliders for my girls. I packaged them in twos and threw them in the freezer. I have sliders scheduled for dinner on Wednesday. Incidentally, ground beef is another cheap, and filling, meat option.

Now for the luxury item, Almond Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon. This is an amazing hors d’oeuvre, side or snack and one that I haven’t made since 2003, until recently. Let’s just say, the last time I attempted these delicious little buggers the fire department showed up. I apparently gained some sort of culinary sense over the last 8 year, though, since there were no flames when I made them last week, or today. Just keep an eye on them at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until the bacon looks done, flipping once. Use pitted dates and stuff as many almonds as you can in them, typically 1 or 2 depending on the size of the date.

Almond Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon

 

Somewhere along the way, I also put together a few Chicken Kabobs. I used tenders (another cheap option) and sewed them on the skewers (remember to soak in water for fire prevention, see, I’m learning) surrounding them with onions and green peppers. I salt and peppered them, added some Wildtree garlic seasoning and wrapped them up for dinner this week. The remaining tenders were tossed in a freezer storage bag with some herbs and spices and thrown in the freezer for another easy option.

My week’s dinners look like this:

  • Sunday – Buffalo Chicken Dip & Celery, Almond Stuffed Dates/Bacon (what, it’s Football season!)
  • Monday – Steaks and salads (already marinating in the fridge)
  • Tuesday – Chicken Kabobs and baked sweet potatoes
  • Wednesday – Sliders with sweet potato fries and salad, or just salad, we’ll see what I’m feeling
  • Thursday – Pork loin and steamed veggies
  • Friday – Leftovers!
  • Saturday – Chicken Salads

What’s on your menu?