Friday, February 26, 2016
Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for the end of February (many freebies, plus using supplies from the freezer)
Friday (cost about $1.50)
Chunky tomato soup
Focaccia, topped with leftover grilled onions, leftover roasted tomatoes and black olives
Stewed frozen plums
Saturday (cost about $1.80)
Rosemary, turkey and potato soup
Croissants (gifted to us from event my girls and I helped at)
Cucumber, avocado and roasted red pepper salad, topped with slices of boiled egg (cucumber gifted to us, roasted red peppers from pantry)
Assortment of pie to choose from (leftovers from event)
Sunday (cost about $1.65)
Skillet-fried wontons (homemade from freezer)
Ham and egg fried rice
Choice of cake or pie
Monday (cost about $2.50)
Spinach and tofu lasagna
Choice of leftover chocolate cake or pie
Tuesday (cost about $1.70)
Vegetarian tostadas -- fried corn tortillas, topped with Spanish rice, frozen corn, refried beans, cheese, olives, lettuce from greenhouse, roasted red peppers, salsa and avocado
Choice of cookies, chocolate covered cherries or mini-cheesecakes (leftovers from volunteer work at a tea over the weekend)
Wednesday (cost about $3.60)
Meatloaf and gravy from freezer
Mashed potatoes from freezer
Thursday (cost about $2.50)
Leftover spinach and tofu lasagna
Chocolate cake from freezer
So you already know that it's been a hard week around here. Very tiring. For the first several nights of the week, I was cooking two completely different menus each day, one for the family and one for my daughter. Doing this from scratch is a lot of work. I did my best to minimize that work, whenever possible.
Things like baking my largest casserole dish of lasagna and making extra layers of noodles and filling, instead of my regular casserole and 3 layers which feeds the five of us for one dinner, and leaves leftovers for one or two people for lunch. This pan of lasagna fed all of us for two complete dinners.
And asking for help when I just couldn't do it all. I was so exhausted on Wednesday afternoon, after a very long and trying meeting with a consultant in the middle of the day, the phone constantly ringing in the afternoon, and going out to pick up one daughter in the late afternoon. The dishwasher needed emptying, which wouldn't be a big task at all, ordinarily. But I just could face doing that and putting dinner together, so I (rather tiredly, unfortunately, I came across as a bit edgy when asking) asked a daughter to do that for me, while I got dinner ready.
I also made use of whatever I could find in the freezer, meatloaf, wontons, cake and soup. And some nights there wasn't much variety in the meal, like the night we had the tostadas, just the tostadas on the plate, or the lasagna, same deal. usually I have a side dish to go with the main dish. That just wasn't happening this week. Even if it had been frozen veggies heated in the microwave, I still would have had to pour them into a casserole and heat, then serve them all. That doesn't sound like a lot of work. But the serving and portioning out of dinner does take time and effort, when doing so times 5. Even once everything is made, it still takes 10 minutes to dish it all up. There are many days when I wish I could just be the mom who drives through the fast food place, brings home a bag of burgers and fries and dumps it all out onto the center of the kitchen table -- fend for yourself. But knowing me, I would pull out plates and cutlery, make a couple of fruit or veggie side dishes, and probably make a homemade dessert to go with it all! I know, crazy, huh?
My favorite meal this week? I think it was the vegetarian lasagna. I don't care for really heavy, greasy, meat-filled and cheesey lasagnas. They never sit well in my stomach. I prefer a lighter version, no meat, with a full 10-oz container of frozen lasagna, a 19-oz container of tofu, lots of sauce, and about 3 or 4 cups of shredded cheese, some mixed in with the tofu, some as is, topping the whole casserole. I sometimes mix grated carrots in with the leafy greens -- also very good, and drops in another serving of vegetables. this is the lasagna that my family is accustomed to. I've been lactose intolerant since my son's very earliest days, and have since then used tofu for part of the filling. And while I like the ease of no-cook lasagna noodles, I prefer the texture of the noodles that you have to boil before assembling. All the more reason to make a double batch each time I make a pan of lasagna.
I find it helpful for me to "cost out" each meal for the week, from time to time. It serves as a great reminder that heavy-on-the-meat dinners tend to be quite a bit more expensive than vegetarian counterparts. And using even just a fe convenience items ups the cost quite a bit. As in the lasagna, the noodle were boxed, the tofu is a ready-made product, and the spinach was commercially chopped and frozen. And it helps that I volunteer once a month in a kitchen for a charity tea and am often given some of the leftovers.
What was the yummiest thing you ate in all of this week? Was it something you made, or something someone else made for you?