Friday, March 11, 2016
Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for early March
Rosemary-garlic pork roast
Leftover blackberry-apple pie
Spinach-onion quiche (from the freezer)
Mashed potatoes (from the freezer), topped with sausage-chicken gravy (drippings from roasting chicken and sausage, reserved after cooking and kept in freezer, turned into gravy on Saturday evening)
Rhubarb-blackberry cobbler (using frozen rhubarb and frozen blackberries from last year's garden)
Bean, cheese and avocado burritos, on homemade whole wheat tortillas
Canned corn with roasted red pepper strips
Homemade gingersnaps (from the freezer, from last month's baking)
Bean burger patties
Oven-roasted pumpkin chunks
Brown rice topped with leftover gravy from Saturday's dinner (made extra brown rice to use in Wednesday's casserole)
French dip sandwiches (using this easy technique for turning ground beef into strips of beef), on homemade French rolls, with au jus (onions, sauteed in reserved beef fat, with water, soy sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, dried thyme, splash of herb vinegar, salt, black pepper and crushed celery seeds)
Veggie medley of frozen spinach, onions and canned tomato chunks (seasoned with garlic and herbs)
Easy rice and spinach bake (using leftover rice, eggs, milk, cheese and spinach, assembled in the AM, then baked just before serving)
Pear Mousse (gelatin salad with pureed frozen pears, cream cheese and lemon jello)
Fresh-baked bread and butter
Vegetable-beef soup (using leftover Au Jus and the drippings from the French dip baking sheet for the beef flavor, and barley, cooked garbanzo beans, canned tomatoes, frozen green beans, frozen peas and onions, garlic and herbs)
Plum-blackberry pie (using frozen plums and blackberries from last summer)
My freezer is beginning to show signs of diminishing stock. I've tried to use something from the freezer's long term storage, everyday. Some days that only means reserved fat from cooking meat. Other days, I'm able to use some of the blackberries, rhubarb, pears, apples or plums that we picked last summer and froze.
I found a good deal on eggplant this past week, at 99 cents for pretty large eggplants. I'm a huge fan of ratatouille. It's long been one of my favorite vegetable combinations. I rarely have eggplant, here. And when I do, I'm torn between eggplant Parmesan and ratatouille. So, I bought 2 eggplant this week and will make both! 99 cents each, is about what I pay at the produce stand, so I believe that is a good price for my area.
You may also notice a few egg main entrees (quiche, frittata and the easy rice-spinach bake). I'm working on the supply of eggs I have stashed in the freezer, with hopes for finding some good egg sales just before Easter.
Again, not a lot of meat-based meals this week. One dinner with pork and one diner with beef. I know some families prefer much more meat than our family eats. But this is working for us, for the time being.
I have noticed something about my meal planning and prep. I tend to cook even more frugally, when I feel like other areas of our budget and income are being depleted quickly. Meals are the one area that I have confidence that I can control the spending. And yep, this is a comparatively "expensive" time for us. With the not so fun things like my husband needing costly dental work, our main car needing new tires all around, and the water heater on it's very last legs (to replace this summer, if it makes it that long), combined with some fun things, like a mini-trip to San Francisco and getting new French doors in our living room this spring, the stress of seeing the money go out so quickly makes me hold really tightly to the purse strings. When our furnace stopped coming on earlier this week, I about panicked, thinking we'd need another expensive repair or replacement on that, too. (Fortunately, it was just the thermostat needing new batteries. Phew!) Everything will be fine, financially. We've set aside money for all of the repairs, replacements, health stuff and the trip. So, nothing will set us back. It's just a feeling I get when I watch the money go out. And with the aging furnace (it's 20 years old), we've already begun a fund for it's replacement and are 2/3 the way there in it's funding. So, we're okay on that front, too, I think.
While all of this is going on, I am reminded of how unimportant all of this really is. A friend's father's health is failing. And all I can offer is prayer and an ear. It's such a painful, difficult time for my friend. Money matters always seem to work themselves out, and are not really that important in the grand scheme.