Suburbanmomcooks’s Weblog

July 26, 2008

Day 14 I’m not worthy!

Filed under: Demarle,grocery,Recipes — by CarrieK @ 6:16 am
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Ok, it’s Thursday and I am jonesing for a trip to the grocery store. I do have $14 left in my grocery budget for the week and I do need cheese. So, on my way back from a meeting I stopped at the store and ended up getting ricotta cheese for the Broken Lasagna, raw mild cheddar for the burritos and ….a loaf of bread and a package of bagels. And in a weak moment, 2 boxes of crackers for my hungry kids (it was 5:30).

I went over my $100 weekly budget by $13 😦

I fixed Broken Lasagna for dinner tonight. It was yummy with the ricotta cheese. I didn’t have any leftovers for it so I improvised and used canned marinara, fresh chard, no boil noodles, some frozen broccoli and the ricotta cheese I picked up at the grocery store. I cooked it in my Demarle Fluted Square Mold.

I can already tell my grocery list needs revision. We can’t get through the week with one loaf of bread or 1 package of bagels. I am out of butter and only have 3 eggs left. One day left…one day left….one day left…

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July 24, 2008

Day 13 Menu Switcheroo

Filed under: Uncategorized — by CarrieK @ 4:52 am

Crazy day! We were late to my yoga class because I was reading my Sustainable Budget Google Goup, I got a call canceling a playdate, I got an email inviting me on a Demarle conference call at 5:00 this evening, I decided to take the kids to the zoo and then I called my neighbor to see if her daughter could come have dinner with my kids while I got on the conference call. When we got home I got the kids in the tub, washed the zoo off of them and started dinner. I was on a call with a dear friend back from vacation when C yells from the bathroom “I haf to go to the bafroom!” I run to the bathroom where C is clenching his cheeks, I scoop him up, put him on the toilet where he has his first official “poop in the potty”. Then I noticed the big poop in the tub. *ugh*

C was beside himself! His reward was brand new ‘piderman underwear (he leaves the initial S off of all s-words). He is now sleeping in that brand new underwear and I am bracing myself for a very big laundry day tomorrow.

So, back to the Menu. I had planned to make burritos and quesadillas, but I have no cheese. So I switched that dinner out for hot dogs and hamburgers. A better dinner to have with the neighbor’s daughter coming over to eat with the kids anyway. I needed some cash for sno-cones at the zoo, so I stopped at Alberstons’ (hey – it’s on the way to the zoo!) and picked up some hot dog buns and a box of Mac and Cheese. I still need cheese for the burritos and lasagna, but I’m not buying that at Albertson’s (I may let my kids have Mac and Cheese and sno-cones on occasion, but it’s raw milk cheese for everything else) I’m not over budget for the week yet. Whew!

While C was bathing and pooping, and A was calling and the neighbor’s daughter was arriving, I made 2 nitrate-free beef hot dogs, a box of Mac and Cheese, 2 buffalo burgers and a side of rice with Oriental Dressing. I also served some hand-picked raspberries. The conference call started on time and I was there to take it.

Then it was time for bed and Suburban Mom gets to blog…blah, blah, blah.

Day 12 Ahhhh….BEEF!

Filed under: Demarle,Recipes — by CarrieK @ 4:44 am
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I’ve tried to be a vegetarian. Really. My acupuncturist told me not to do it. When I met my husband he was a vegan, (unless you were serving him dessert) but he’s not anymore.

I love beef. Practically raw, nicely warmed up, tender, juicy beef. Hmmmm….

Tonight we had a beautiful grass fed (no grain, not even in the weeks before slaughter) rib eye. I roasted broccoli on my Silpat and made a pot of long grain brown rice. Not a bad dinner. We ate together at the table again. It was a lovely family dinner.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

July 23, 2008

Days 10 and 11 Creative Nutrition

Filed under: grocery — by CarrieK @ 5:42 am
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I have started Week 2 of my new Menu Plan/Grocery Budget. I am enjoying the challenge. Last night dinner was boring but I got nutritionally creative. We had leftovers: soup, homemade bread – kneaded on my Roul’pat, baked on my Silpat – (an OK recipe, not great, probably won’t post it) leftover hummus, pickles, fresh picked blueberries. Not bad. Heathly.

Tonight was breakfast for dinner. Scrambled eggs, maple chicken sausage and homemade biscuits – kneaded on my Roul’pat, baked on my Silpat – with homemade blueberry jam. I really enjoyed eating the biscuits with blueberry jam. It was delicious and very satisfying. (Usually I don’t like to eat what I cook. I wonder what is different now?) Dinner tonight was delightful. L learned how to use a knife properly, and C actually ate! I told the kids that dinner was my favorite moment of the day 🙂 We were all laughing and smiling. No tv, no tantrums. Everyone was dressed and stayed at the table for the whole meal. It was a miracle.

I started the week with $100 cash. I spent roughly $50 at 2 different Farmer’s Markets over the weekend; bought chicken, butter, honey, meat, fish, eggs and veggies for 3 meals. Today I took $48 cash to Trader Joe’s for the rest of the week’s groceries. I did it! Almost…I went over by $1.02. Not bad huh? I am very proud. So, except for some cheese I need later in the week, we are set for groceries for the week. It was very liberating to leave Trader Joe’s with only one big canvas bag of groceries, having spent 1/3 of what I usually spend. One trip from the car to the kitchen, no extra bags to store.

One thing I am struggling with is how to factor in bulk food. For instance, I bought blueberries, honey, lids, jars, pectin and lemons to make blueberry jam. I am not going to count $16 worth of blueberries and $14 worth of honey, along with the other jam expenses towards my weekly budget. Once I figure out how much a jar of blueberry jam cost me to make, I will figure it into my monthly budget. So, that means I have about $14 left in this week’s grocery budget….because I used grocery cash to buy the honey on Saturday. Cheese, here I come!

Tomorrow I am making raspberry jam…having picked 7 1/2 pounds of them today. I think I will use smaller jars, a pint of jam is a lot! I hope to yield roughly 8 pints or 16 half pints. I’ll try to start posting my costs soon. Numbers are hard for me….getting up with C every few hours for the last 2 years has cost me some brain cells, among other things.

July 20, 2008

On to Day 9, Accidental Dinner

Filed under: Demarle,grocery,Recipes — by CarrieK @ 4:45 am
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We had a lovely dinner with friends last night; salmon marinated in a ginger sauce, fresh salad, challah, and fish sticks for the kids. They loved the blueberries. It was so good, we had the same thing for dinner tonight!

Just kidding, it was a complete accident.

I rode my bike to the Farmer’s Market today. Very busy, very crowded. I bought 3 lbs of honey for the blueberry jam I’m making tomorrow, a nice rib eye (grass fed only of course) some chicken (breasts only, I’ll roast a whole chicken and make stock next week) and the most beautiful sockeye salmon I’ve seen in a llllloooooonnnnngggg time. I poached it in a little bit of water and sea salt in my Demarle Flower Mold with the Octagonal Silpat on top for a lid. WOW! It was wonderful. I made a cold side dish of leftover long grain brown rice with green onions and Oriental Salad Dressing from Nourishing Traditions. Yum! Instead of a vegetable, I put out a bowl of blackberries with the last bit of creme fraiche. Very colorful meal. The kids ate fish sticks.

I’m soaking whole wheat flour in kefir tonight for pancakes tomorrow….I just remembered I have no eggs! UHG! Well, I was planning on going to yet another Farmer’s Market tomorrow for eggs and veggies. Guess the pancakes will be for brunch. The kids can have the granola bars I made today for breakfast instead. No real plans for dinner tomorrow….probably soup and bread. I’ll need to make the bread in the morning so it has a chance to rise…I’m still getting good at bread making. Gotta find a recipe tonight.

So, I am at the end of the first week (plus 2 days) of my new Menu Plan. So far so good. I did go to the grocery store once for picnic items (paid cash), other than that, I used what we already have. Not sure yet if that is a crutch or not. I’m using up our stores of food…the cupboard is very bare and I can see the back of the fridge. On the bright side, we are eating much healthier, I’m using leftovers more creatively and we are throwing away less. This is one of the pitfalls of suburbia; food is easily accessible. You can run to the store whenever you want. You don’t have to have an extra store of food in the suburbs. It’s not sustainable, it’s not self sufficient. Another goal of mine is to figure in stored food; buying bulk is next on the list. And possibley an extra chest freezer, although it’s expensive to run.

My big challenge for next week is using cash for groceries based on the Menu Plan. I picked up some staples (butter) and meat, and some things that are part of long-term consumption; I spent about $25 on blueberries, $40 on canning supplies and $14 on honey for the jam I’m making tomorrow. Depending on how many jars that makes, I could save us an extra $10 a month on jam. That’s $120 a year! DH wants an accounting of all this, he’s worried I will start buying things outside of the grocery list. Hmph!

The blueberry jam breaks down as follows:

2 packages of Pomona Pectin

5 lbs of blueberries

4 cups of honey

# of lids (?)

# of jars and bands (both are reusable!)

OK, I have some more research to do…I’ll get back to you. It’s late, I’m off to take a lavender bubble bath and read a good book….will it be Erma Bombeck or Clive Cussler tonight?

Day 7 – PIZZA!

Filed under: Demarle,Recipes,sustainability — by CarrieK @ 3:57 am
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This morning I got the kids up, packed the lunch I described yesterday (in post Day 6) and headed off to pick blueberries. So wonderful being out in the field in the cool morning. There were very few people there and the berries were not all ripe (more picking next week I think) but I still managed to bring home 6 1/2 pounds of berries. The kids did great, L picked a lot, C ate a lot (yay! he ate! something good!) – not a diaper I was looking forward to – and we were home in time to go to swimming lessons.

Tonight I attended a westside get together of a Gooogle Group I belong to. We have all taken classes with Monique Dupre about sustainable living. Check out her website sustainablebudget.com. We got together to share ideas and information in person. I got some great ideas about canning and preserving (I have a lot of blueberries to put up this weekend!) It’s nice talking with other people who make their own yogurt and kefir and who preserve and garden. It was a beautiful night to be out.

Since I was going out, I made a pizza. L’s favorite! I used premade dough from Trader Joe’s, part of a jar of marinara and grated cheese (raw, organic jack) Pretty simple dinner. I shaped the dough on the Silpat, spread out the marinara and sprinkled on the cheese. I baked it in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes. I’m so proud of my DH, he remembered to take the pizza off the Silpat before cutting it!

I’m going to skip Day 8 because we were invited to go to dinner at a friend’s house. I think I’ll take some blueberries….:)

July 19, 2008

Day 6: Salmon Burgers with Rice and Salad

Filed under: food,grocery,Recipes — by CarrieK @ 6:34 am
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It’s Day 6 of my new menu plan. I’m halfway thru the week and my kitchen is practically empty. (OK, I admit to a small, quick visit to the grocery store today – don’t tell my DH! – and I used cash, way less than I have spent in the past!) Today, for our trip to the zoo I stopped at New Seasons and picked up lunch for me (salmon and avacado sushi and Kombucha) and for the kids I got string cheese, Veggie Booty, fresh blueberries, and Z bars. And water. Tomorrow’s lunches will be interesting….PB and J for sure, leftover Veggie Booty, more blueberries, more cheese…Ok, well that doesn’t sound too bad. There’s some hummus in the fridge, I could toast some bread to go with that for me. And carrots, I know I saw carrots in the fridge too.

I’ve been reading a great blog about Bento lunches (is that redundant?) Check out Lunchinabox.net. She’s got great ideas for lunches (Ok, so my kids won’t eat octopus or skate, but rice balls and mini jello cups sound great!) I especially like her preparation times. She gives you a good idea of how long these lunches take to pack. Not long at all. She utilizes leftovers like no one I’ve ever seen; she finds a way to use even a tablespoon of food. She relies very heavily on plastic and microwaving (I don’t use either) but her pictures are pretty and she is a great resource for everything Bento.

So, on to the Salmon Burgers with Rice and Salad. Originally, it was with Chard, but I used that in the Turkey Meatloaf Patties and then again in the Broken Lasagna. Not a bad dinner tonight, very healthy, fairly quick to make. Leftovers included an extra salmon burger for DH’s lunch tomorrow and LOTS of rice. Good rice too, it’s organic, long-grain brown rice. Yum! What shall I do with it? Maybe fried rice? No, I’ve only got 2 eggs left until Sunday and I’m making blueberry muffins tomorrow. Plus I’m out of veggies. I’ll have to come up with something else….

Salmon Burgers

I purchased a package of premade salmon burgers from TJ. I grilled them on the stove top in my iron skillet. (They are also great on the BBQ) I served them on toasted sourdough bread with Garlic Dill Mayo

The salad I served tonight was a combination of creativity and desperation. Well maybe not desperation, but I am seriously running low on food. It’s not like we are going to starve, but flavor and variety will not be around for long. Is it Sunday yet?

Day 6 Salad

2 hearts of Romaine lettuce, chopped

1/4 cup crispy walnuts (recipe follows)

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup homemade croutons

1/3 cup Oriental Dressing from Nourishing Traditions

Add all ingredients, toss well.

Day 5: Broken Lasagna

Filed under: Recipes — by CarrieK @ 5:50 am
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I am going to use a Broken Lasagna recipe inspired by Rachel Ray for Day 5. I am going to incorporate yesterday’s leftover Turkey Meatloaf Patties plus some leftover marinara from Day 3.

Broken Lasagna

1 box of no boil lasagna noodles, broken up into bits

2 cups cheese (any kind; ricotta, mozzerella, cheddar, whatever you have on hand); reserve about 1/2 cup for the top

2 leftover Turkey Meatloaf Patties, broken up into bits

1 1/2 cups of marinara (use leftover or store bought)

Mix all ingredients well and pour into a Demarle Flexipan Mold. I like to use the Fluted Square Mold. Top the mixture with the reserved 1/2 cup of cheese. It’s important to do this: all the broken bits of no boil noodles need to be covered with cheese, otherwise they stay kinda crunchy.

Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Serve with a spoon right out of the Fluted Square Mold. You can flip it onto a plate too if you are looking for a nice presentation.

The Broken Lasagna turned out great! It was easy and quick to prepare, it utilized leftovers and there’s enough left for more leftovers. Guess what my DH is having for lunch tomorrow? For me the best part is always the easy clean up. Hot soapy water in the Fluted Square Mold and I’m done. No spraying, soaking or scraping.

Day 4: Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

Filed under: Recipes — by CarrieK @ 5:42 am
Tags: ,

I’ve skipped to Day 4. Days 1-3 went well, not bored yet! No grocery shopping this week, although we are going berry picking Thursday and possible Friday. I have cash for that 🙂 The “real” grocery shopping starts on Sunday, 7/20, what I call Week 2.

All L wants to eat is hot dogs right now. C won’t eat much of anything. So it’s hamburgers for the grown-ups! I don’t really want a hamburger, but that’s what the plan is for today so I’m sticking to it, sort of. I am going to use ground turkey to make a meatloaf, sort of. But I don’t have time to cook a meatloaf so I’m going to cook it as patties.

Turkey Meatloaf Patties

1 package ground turkey from Trader Joes

2 eggs

2 tblsp mustard

4 leaves of Chard, de-veined and finely chopped

1/2 cup Sourdough Croutons

1 tblsp Soy Sauce

Mix all ingredients together, form into patties and cook in a skillet roughly 5 minutes on a side.

Serve on toasted sourdough bread. It’s especially good with homemade Savory Plum jam (can’t find this recipe right now but I’ll keep looking). We had it with guacamole and organic tortilla chips.

L ate a bunless hot dog with organic ketchup, some guacamole from Trader Joes and some organic tortilla chips.

C ate…organic tortilla chips? I can’t remember what the little guy ate, but I guarantee you it wasn’t much. 😦

Combatting the $900 Grocery Bill

Filed under: grocery — by CarrieK @ 5:30 am
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After months, no years, of outrageous grocery bills (to the tune of $800-$900 per month for 2 adults and 2 small kids) I have finally come up with a plan for lowering our food costs. I usually cook pretty nice dinners; I’m always trying new recipes and looking for new flavors. In the past I was always running out to the store to pick up this ingredient or that, and coming home with an extra $60-$80 worth of groceries, on top of my normal weekly grocery run. I don’t want to give up healthy eating; I will not eat processed foods, I will not eat produce from foreign countries, I will not give up healthy eating. So, the new plan includes 10 different dinners that we eat roughly 3 times a month. I will start each week with a grocery list and $100 cash. Extra cash at the end of the week will go towards beer, wine, eating out or next week’s groceries. The grocery list will include items for breakfast and lunch. My DH’s lunches will mostly be leftovers from the night before. I plan on prebaking much of our breakfast; waffles and pancakes (from my favorite cookbook, Nourishing Traditions), muffins, and occaisionlly, eggs.

The big question is, can I actually do this. The eggs I like to buy are $6 a dozen. The meat and fish we eat is $7-$28 a pound. We really need a garden. And we really need laying hens. *sigh*

A big motivator for me is that my husband agreed to let me spend the first “extra” $450 or so anyway I want. That’s a lot of money to me. I’ve been home with the kids and haven’t had a paycheck for over 5 years now. With $450 I could buy that Dyson vacum cleaner I have my eye on. I could use it for the girl’s retreat my friend A is planning for this fall, I could fly to LA to see my Aunt. I could buy clothes (nah, nothing fits or looks good). I could hire a babysitter, go to a spa, see a movie and have lunch. I could save it for our garden, and the hens I’ve been dreaming about. Too many choices…

Here are the 10 meals I have in rotation for each month:

The Menu Plan

burritos/quesadillas

soup w/bread

pasta

pizza (homemade)

lasagna

chicken w/veggies and potatoes

beef w/ veggies and rice

fish w/ veggies and rice

breakfast for dinner (sausage, eggs, pancakes or waffles)

hot dogs and hamburgers

Some of the meals look larger than others; consider that in lasagna, you have protein, veggies and a carb all mixed together. Some of the meals will take longer to make than others (chicken for instance, I usually roast a whole chicken so I can make stock with it too), some are quick and easy. Some will be great with leftovers in them. I have some space for creativity; this week I had to get pretty creative with lunches and snacks for the kids. I’ll say this, we are eating healthier!

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