Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for the tail end of September

These are the turkey-cream cheese-spiced fig jam-and watercress sandwiches from
 Wednesday. The stuff that looks like pickle relish is the spiced fig jam, a jam made
 from unripe, green figs (from our two fig trees), flavored with plenty of lemon juice
 and cloves. The watercress is our garden came back in early September. It's usually
 an early spring green, here.


Friday
turkey in gravy from freezer
*rosemary-garlic rice
frozen green beans
frozen peas
*apple pie

Saturday
leftover rice with beans
cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes (given to us)
tossed salad of lettuce, watercress, parsley and cherry tomatoes (given to us, even the dressing)
assorted pie (given to us)

Sunday
*olive, tomato, basil pizza
cantaloupe, strawberries (given to us)
*applesauce

Monday
hamburgers on homemade buns
cantaloupe (given to us)
*pears

Tuesday
black bean burgers, topped with leftover pizza sauce
*garlic toast (on bread that was given to us)
*watercress and tomato salad
*green, waxed and Romano beans

Wednesday
*turkey, cream cheese, watercress, spiced fig jam sandwiches, on homemade whole wheat bread
*fresh pears
frozen peas, corn and green beans

Thursday (my daughters and I were very busy cleaning all day, and this was the best I could do for putting dinner on the table)
*baked ham and pinto beans, with garden bell peppers and tomatoes
homemade bread and butter
frozen veggies (combo of corn, green beans and peas -- nothing exciting, but it did fill us up)

Friday
roasted chicken leg quarters, topped with marinara and sauteed green bell peppers
*rosemary-garlic brown rice
*sauteed yellow crookneck squash with garlic
*plum-rhubarb pie

Saturday
*Italian-style chicken and noodle soup (with tomatoes, green beans, squash, garlic and onions)
dinner rolls
*leftover plum-rhubarb pie

Sunday
a noodle dish brought to our house by friends -- very yummy! I added some heated up, leftover turkey sandwich meat, that had been sitting out for a couple of hours
steamed cauliflower and broccoli (I steamed some of the leftovers from our lunch gathering)
dinner rolls
*salad made with leftover lettuce from sandwiches, plus garden tomatoes
grapes, leftover from lunch
frosted pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies  :-)

Monday
ham and bean soup, using homemade chicken stock from Saturday, saved chicken fat from freezer, ham from Sunday's lunch, onion powder and leftover cooked pinto beans -- easiest soup I've ever made!
whole wheat dinner rolls
broccoli and cauliflower with dip (leftovers)
*ginger pear and apple crisp


* indicates item for this part of meal came from the garden or orchard

I took a lot of shortcuts in meal prep this week. My daughters had one week off in between the end of their summer jobs and beginning of fall quarter, and we stayed pretty busy. They had a lot of errands to run, things they had needed to do or get all summer, but never found the time. So I spent a lot of hours in the car. In addition, I've been planning an early fall gathering for Sunday, so have been busy with preparing and decorating for that event. (In other words, this gathering has been the impetus behind me getting the house all fall-like. So, don't feel like you're "behind" if you haven't decorated for fall yet. It may not even feel like fall where you live!)

So, I've been a bit busy, and couldn't do much more than sandwiches, burgers or frozen leftovers, most evenings.

Our gathering on Sunday was a light lunch. We keep a fund going for entertaining. We haven't used any of this money for months, so there is enough to cover the expenses of a simple lunch (and it won't have to come out of the grocery budget). But we did use many items that I have in stock here, anyways, such as roasted peanuts, dried cranberries, orange juice, lemonade, garden lettuce, coffee, tea, ingredients to make buns and cookies. I'll be using the entertainment budget to cover sandwich meat and sliced cheese, veggies/dip and grapes.

Last weekend, my daughters and I volunteered at a charity tea, and were gifted with a box full of leftovers, including a whole cantaloupe, grapes, strawberries, lettuce, parsley, watercress, cherry tomatoes, a Costco jar of peanut butter, and a small loaf of bread, as well as 5 slices of pie. We thoroughly enjoyed all of the produce items, and they filled out our menus for a few days. Using the watercress encouraged me to go out to our garden and really harvest our own late-summer watercress.

The fall garden is looking okay, not fabulous, but there is still plenty to harvest for the next month -- 4 heads of cabbage, Swiss chard, kale, lettuce, radish greens, beets, carrots, potatoes, only a couple of pumpkins, (and small ones at that), and some small onions. It's not abundant, but it is something, and will provide a good chunk of produce for October. In November, we'll need to rely on purchased vegetables, once again. Makes me sad that out delicious, fresh and organic produce is coming to an end for the year :-(

Moving into October, it looks like Soup-tober is back! I love a good supper of hot soup, fresh bread, and pie!



18 comments:

  1. I love your menu Lil! Looks great.
    I too am dreaming of soup. I just made ham, potato corn chowder this weekend. So enjoyable!

    Enjoy your pies too ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cathie,
      Yum! Your ham, potato and corn chowder sounds delicious!

      Delete
  2. Your meals all sound delicious, as always! Great job stretching that budget!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Lili,
    I know what you mean about being really busy. My busyness was early Sept. but I now needed to address the home cleanup after having all three adult kids home this summer. They were pretty clean but three months of five people moving in and out and around resulting in my home needing a cleaning. I took 2 1/2 days off from work to do a thorough cleaning. We also needed to do some quick meals during those days since I had a mountain of a list to do and little time to cook. No one died of hunger.

    My dad's garden is just about done for the year. He has butternut squash and he sells most of those since that is what they use for their "seed" money for next year. I took one and maybe I'll get another a little bit later.

    My daughter who lives at home with us watched a facebook video on making butternut squash fettuccini so we made that last night. It was pretty good but not something to make once a week. Very rich.

    Our weather has been beautiful but it is now going to change. So soups will be on the menu more often in our home as well. I'm going to check out some potato soups as that sounds really good or maybe cheesy broccoli or chili. I better go check some recipes now. Bye

    Alice

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alice,
      That butternut pasta dish sounds very delicious. I'm guessing it had a lot of butter and cream, and that made it so rich? I have a pumpkin-sausage pasta dish that has a lot of cream and butter and is quite rich, so I either make it lighter with milk, and less butter, or make it less often.

      Oh, enjoy the last beautiful day or two, there! It must be soup time at your house, too!

      Delete
    2. The richness came just from the squash and some fat free milk. The recipe called for 4 T butter to saute the onion in but I only used 2 tsp. or so. Then it called for a cup of 1/2 and 1/2 which I used only 1/4 cup and the rest fat free milk. Then there was some chicken broth and lastly more milk. We cooked the pasta right in the sauce like the recipe said and it was a very thick creamy sauce which in my opinion was "rich" and filling.

      Alice

      Delete
  4. Hi Lili,
    Your meals sound great! Especially the soups, I really enjoy soups.
    It has still been pretty warm here but I am sure that will be changing soon.
    We are still getting a lot of cherry tomatoes from the 1 plant we had & the regular size tomatoes are still giving a few small ones, that plant did not do so well this year.
    Rhonda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rhonda,
      I'm sure you are savoring these last tomatoes! I went ahead and harvested most of mine last week. Not a whole lot, but enough to keep us in tomatoes a few times per week for a few weeks. And I'm envious of all your cherry tomatoes -- my cherry ones didn't do well this year.

      Delete
  5. Summer seems to have flown this year and all its delicious fresh produce has flown with it. I guess it is time to start looking toward greens and sweet potatoes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anne,
      you are so fortunate to live where sweep potatoes are abundant! One of my favorite veggies, and I can't grow them in my garden (too short of a growing season). But I do buy some when on sale in November. Do you make Sweet Potato Pie?

      Yes, time for the cool-season veggies. I'll miss the fresh berries most.

      Delete
  6. Even for a rushed week, your dinners were full course :)

    Can't say the same when we have a rushed week. The best we can do is leftovers, and that is if we're fortunate to stretch it another night. Otherwise, the meals can be very disjointed...bowl of cereal with fruits or freezer foods. And it is usually eat what you're lucky to find or "that looks good, maybe I'll have some of what you're having...."

    This month, we're about $450, lots of stocking up on a few clearance items and building of my dad's food inventory for the period we're away. Can't complain as it is under our $522 previous year average.

    YHF

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, YHF--

      Seems to me that Lili is exceptional in many ways, including her vigilance about nutritional value in her meals. :) She has lots of good reasons to prioritize that, but I'm still always amazed at how well she does! (You're such an inspiration to me, Lili!)

      But I think that a lot of us tend to lose our nutritional variety when we run short of time and/or cash. It certainly seems to be normal around here, like at your house. Our busy week meal "planning" sounds a lot like what you described above.

      When there's more time, I try to be extra-vigilant to make up for when we are rushed, including trying to make bigger batches of healthy soups and stews, which freeze and thaw well for a little more balanced "convenience food", at least.

      I hope that it all evens out, overall, because we just do the best we can with what time and resources we have, right?! Sara

      Delete
    2. Hi YHF,
      That's fantastic! Stocking up and still staying under budget! Pat yourself on the back.

      As far as busy day meals -- I do tuck things in the freezer, so maybe it sounds like a big to-do meal, but really I pulled stuff out at the last minute. Like week ago Monday, the burgers were preformed patties (bought that way), and the homemade buns were in the freezer from a month ago. To go with that dinner, I cut up fresh fruit, and that was it.

      Then on Thursday, the only thing I really made was the baked beans. I had the cooked beans, and added ham from the freezer, and fresh tomatoes and green pepper, as well as some tomato paste and pickle juice, then baked. But the rest of the dinner was frozen veggies and bread and butter.

      I don't work outside the home, as much, so I do have time to get things started earlier than people who work outside the home. But thank you!

      Delete
    3. Hi Sara,
      It sounds like you do what I like to do, with the freezing ahead of some healthy meal items.

      I'm looking forward to having more freezer space to make-ahead more meals. I like to have several evenings worth of dinners in the freezer going into the holidays. At the very least, a bunch of pre-made pizzas in the freezer. But soups and stews would also be welcome to just pull out on a busy day.

      I also think that when my kids are out of the house, dinner will look more like just a bowl of cereal and fruit, or a big bowl of popcorn, or a bowl of soup, on some nights. Sometimes that's all I really want anyway.

      Good to hear from you, Sara!

      Delete
    4. Lili, I'm very blessed to have good freezer space, both for bulk- and "convenience"-sized items.

      The past two days have been limited-cooking days, and the two of us who are home have had french toast, fruit-spice pancakes, enchiladas, veggie soup, and chili all basically from the freezer.

      Tonight's chili will also help us use up some fresh parsley and green onions and yogurt which are all getting past their prime.

      Since we have two family members with low blood sugar, we have less-elaborate meals, often, too, because we're not just serving two or three big meals per day. So, a wholesome soup or pilaf with veggies or quick stir-fry are often more practical than a several course thing, anyway, thankfully, though there are more times you cook/prep.

      It's also maybe easier to get all of our food groups in between the 5-6 mini-meals throughout the day. We hope we'll get it all covered in SOME meal, if not every meal.

      Sara

      Delete
    5. Sara, that's exactly how I see our nutritional needs covered, not every meal but over the course of a day or two. And just for insurance, we take a daily vitamin every other day. We don't want to overdo the vitamins either, since we're seniors and our nutritional needs are lower. Also consuming fewer calories is probably best for people our age if we want to live into our 90s. So I guess we may not be lacking nutrition wise, but compared to how others eat, we're definitely third world lol

      Thanks, Lili, for your encouragement :)

      YHF

      YHF

      Delete
    6. YHF, I think that's all reasonable strategy and philosophy.

      I've also read that a good outlook, can-do attitude, and healthy social interactions probably contribute almost equally to longevity (barring some specific medical crisis) as other health practices. I'm looking for quality as much as quantity, myself; so I try not to stress TOO much over the details, as long as I generally am doing the best I can! :)

      Since we've always prioritized food over other expenditures, I've never had a true grocery "budget" (though I'm naturally pretty thrifty). This month I'm hoping to really get into the financial nuts and bolts of what we're spending, though I'm also planning to eat quite a bit from stores. I hope I can do as well as you're doing! :)

      Have a good day! Sara

      Delete

I'm so glad that you stopped by today. Please comment, and let me know what you're thinking.