Stay Connected

Friday, October 25, 2019

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for Late October: The Indoor Garden is Paying Off Already

juicy, sweet, new-crop oranges

Cheap & Cheerful posts show, week by week, how a budget of $135/month for groceries works out for our family of 4.

This week, I bought a 40-lb case of oranges and a 10-lb bag of carrots at Cash & Carry, spending $26.54. That brings our October grocery spending up to $159.67 for October, $11.36 over our allotted amount for this month (the budget of $135 plus the extra from previous month.) I knew I would go over when I saw the oranges on sale. However, I don't regret the purchase. Both the oranges and carrots were within my price range for fruits and vegetables. The case of oranges is actually heavier than 40 pounds. It's closer to 42 pounds, yielding oranges at 52 cents/lb. And the carrots were 45 cents/lb. These have been very welcome in our house. 


Friday

Friday
barbecue lentils and ham (from Easter) over toast, topped with grilled onions 
tossed garden salad of lettuce, baby radish greens, sorrel, baby chard, and tomatoes in a scratch vinaigrette
apple (from our tree) and almond salad
peanut butter cookies


Saturday

Saturday
homemade cheese pizza
carrot sticks and homemade 1000 Island dressing/dip
peanut butter cookies


Sunday

Sunday
tostado salad bowl -- fried, homemade flour tortillas topped with refried beans and ground beef, salsa, cheese, lettuce, and plain yogurt (tostado salad bowl made with flat tortilla)
steamed carrots
these scratch brownies -- a favorite recipe that we think is better than any mix


Monday

Monday
hamburger soup, using rest of ground beef from previous night, canned tomatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, oregano, and salt
scratch drop biscuits
cole slaw
orange wedges


Tuesday

Tuesday daughter's night
lasagna, with beef and cheese
steamed carrots


Wednesday

Wednesday other daughter's night
chicken (59 cents/lb leg quarters - Walmart) and vegetable stir fry over steamed brown rice
orange wedges


Thursday

Thursday
Mexi rice bowls (but on a plate): steamed brown rice, cooked pinto beans, grilled onions seasoned with chili powder, canned corn, cheese, homemade salsa
garden salad with lettuce, sorrel, baby chard, baby radish greens, watercress, lentil sprouts, and tomato in leftover  (Saturday) 1000 Island dressing
hot fudge pudding cake


We had what seemed like a lot of meat this week. It was more than I like to eat, as I'm not a big meat-eater. However, I do think everyone else was happy about the level of meat consumption. Daughter1 bought lasagna noodles at Dollar Tree and cottage cheese at Walmart to use in making Tuesday's dinner and Daughter2 bought some peppers and celery to use in making Wednesday's dinner. Daughter2 showed me a new way to make steamed rice which keeps the grains separated instead of glomming together. I used her method on Thursday. Mine didn't turn out as well -- I'll have to work on this. It's always nice to learn something new.

Breakfasts, lunches, and snacks
My breakfasts continue to be a small dish of homemade yogurt (I add sugar and vanilla) plus a piece of homemade whole wheat toast with jam or jelly, most days. This is my favorite breakfast, as it's easy. We also did a couple of days of overnight steel cut oats in the crockpot. 

For lunches, we've been making a little extra dinner each night to use for our lunches. Leftover soup is my favorite kind of lunch when it's chilly. We also use eggs, cheese, peanut butter, bread, carrot sticks, and oranges in our lunches. Basic stuff but always easy to prepare. For snacks, we made popcorn a few times and had leftovers, fruit, and various peanut butter concoctions. You can make something that resembles peanut butter fudge in a bowl with peanut butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar -- satisfying chocolate cravings in the moment.


peanut butter cookies: Bisquick-like baking mix, peanut butter, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla

Desserts this week
I usually bake a cobbler, crisp, or pie each week. Early this week, however, I was in the mood for cookies and bars. My daughters baked brownies for us over the weekend. We're watching our butter use, so I asked them to use all oil in place of butter. The brownies turned out perfectly with oil instead of butter. Who would've guessed? I made a batch of peanut butter cookies on Friday. I used the homemade sweetened condensed milk that I made earlier in the week, along with some homemade Bisquick, dollar store peanut butter (that cheap stuff that was $2 for a 64 oz jar), and a swig of vanilla extract. The cookies were delicious. Then on Thursday I made a fudge pudding cake. Always yummy and very easy.


radish greens in a trough on the deck

The garden
I've been surprised at how many of our fall garden greens make for tasty salads. The garden is still eking out some lettuce, Swiss chard, watercress, sorrel, kale, and radish greens. The radish greens I planted thickly to use just for their greens -- faster and greater production in a small footprint this way. In addition, we've been letting the kale grow as big as it can this month. When November comes, we'll use the kale until it's picked bare. In our maritime climate, we don't pull up kale or chard plants when they're done. Instead, we leave them in the garden. Then in spring, the plants put on new leaves, which I can use in cooking, before going to seed. I consider it a bonus crop. 

The tomato and squash plants have been pulled up. I laid some straw over those beds during planting, which I'll now dig into the soil to decompose. We discovered the straw in our attic in a large garbage bag this past winter. We've been sorting through the attic and finding all kinds of things about which we'd forgotten. The straw was a purchase from a local farmer, oh, about 20 years ago. We thought this would be great to keep weeds down. Little did we know that the straw had its own seeds. Soon enough, the garden was covered in tiny hay plants. Even after 20 years, some of those seeds were still viable. I pulled up those plants as they sprouted this summer. 

So, that's the 2 back beds (out of 4.) I need to find some time to work some good organic material into the 2 front beds this spring. Those beds currently have the chard and kale, which means that I'll need to wait until April to work that soil.


lentil sprouts ready for use -- about 10 cents worth of lentils grew all of this!

In addition to the outdoor garden, our indoor garden is just swell. The sprouts are surprisingly quick to grow. And my kale micro greens are now baby seedlings. It was mild enough yesterday and today to give them a sunbath on the deck just outside the kitchen door. Free sunlight, no need to use the grow light for such a small batch. You may have noticed, Thursday's dinner salad contained the first of our lentil sprouts. A nice addition to the outdoor garden greens in the salad bowl. 


itty bitty kale seedlings, soon to be micro greens

At dinner, the 4 of us sit around talking about how fortunate we are. We enjoy our dinners greatly and are constantly surprised by how much we are able to find in the garden, pantry, freezer, and fridge. There's so much for which to be thankful.

How was your week of meals? What's your favorite home-cooked to-go lunch? Do you have any particular containers that you prefer for to-go lunches?

12 comments:

Kris said...

This has been an unusually busy week for us, so our meals have been a little haphazard. Monday night I made sloppy joes, oven roasted potatoes, and carrot sticks. Tuesday I had a mandatory work meeting so I ate pizza while my hubby and the kids had leftover pork loin. Wednesday I made chicken and cheese quesadillas, carrot sticks and sliced pears. Last night we had to get out the door because our kids had a band concert, so I reheated soup (hooray for frozen leftovers!) and made Bisquick biscuits and pear slices. (I forgot to mention, this week is also parent/teacher conferences, so my meals have been of the quick and easy variety). My husband is up north giving a talk today and my kids had a half day of school. I'm feeling unmotivated .... I'll probably make pancakes and sausage and make my hot apple slices topping.

When you get proficient at your daughter's rice steaming method, pass it along to us!

Have a great weekend.

Belinda said...

What a fantastic price on the oranges, Lili. I wish we had a cash and carry store like you have there. I remember reading about other good deals you've gotten there in the past. A friend gave us some oranges this week and they are really good.

I was going to make spaghetti for dinner tonight, but Bailey has gotten to the point where she says she will never eat spaghetti ever again once she moves out. LOL So instead I took the ground beef and made hamburgers. I'm making Taco Soup for dinner tomorrow. It's cold and rainy here, so that will be good and warm.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Alice said...

We had some good meals as well this week. In no order here they are: pork stir fry, leftover soups (potato and pea), meatballs and broccoli, pork roast with broccoli and cheesy broccoli, turkey loaf, chicken cordon bleu casserole, a raspberry/strawberry jello with pudding/whipped cream topping, pears.

Most were low carb and yet so good.

Alice

Lili said...

Kris said...
This has been an unusually busy week for us, so our meals have been a little haphazard. Monday night I made sloppy joes, oven roasted potatoes, and carrot sticks. Tuesday I had a mandatory work meeting so I ate pizza while my hubby and the kids had leftover pork loin. Wednesday I made chicken and cheese quesadillas, carrot sticks and sliced pears. Last night we had to get out the door because our kids had a band concert, so I reheated soup (hooray for frozen leftovers!) and made Bisquick biscuits and pear slices. (I forgot to mention, this week is also parent/teacher conferences, so my meals have been of the quick and easy variety). My husband is up north giving a talk today and my kids had a half day of school. I'm feeling unmotivated .... I'll probably make pancakes and sausage and make my hot apple slices topping.

When you get proficient at your daughter's rice steaming method, pass it along to us!

Have a great weekend.


Hi Kris,
Wow! It does sound like you've been busy. I agree -- an easy dinner is in order. The pancakes with apple topping sounds really delicious!
Have a great weekend, Kris.

Lili said...

Belinda said...
What a fantastic price on the oranges, Lili. I wish we had a cash and carry store like you have there. I remember reading about other good deals you've gotten there in the past. A friend gave us some oranges this week and they are really good.

I was going to make spaghetti for dinner tonight, but Bailey has gotten to the point where she says she will never eat spaghetti ever again once she moves out. LOL So instead I took the ground beef and made hamburgers. I'm making Taco Soup for dinner tomorrow. It's cold and rainy here, so that will be good and warm.

I hope you have a great weekend!


Hi Belinda,
Living close to a big city does mean that I have some good shopping options, like the restaurant supply Cash & Carry. I was so glad to see the oranges at that price.
That is wonderful that your friend gifted you with some oranges. They are so juicy and sweet this year.

Your dinners of hamburgers then taco soup sound very tasty. I'm making soup tonight because I had some chicken bones from Wednesday to cook into stock. The weather has turned chilly, so soup is perfect.

Have a great weekend, Belinda!

Lili said...

Alice said...
We had some good meals as well this week. In no order here they are: pork stir fry, leftover soups (potato and pea), meatballs and broccoli, pork roast with broccoli and cheesy broccoli, turkey loaf, chicken cordon bleu casserole, a raspberry/strawberry jello with pudding/whipped cream topping, pears.

Most were low carb and yet so good.


Hi Alice,
Your meals this week sound very tasty. I'm glad my family isn't reading your comment right now, otherwise they'd be right over! They'll have to settle for soup tonight.
How do you make the chicken cordon bleu casserole?

It sounds like you're doing great with the low-carb thing. How is your husband doing? I pray his recovery is continuing well.

Have a great weekend, Alice!

Anonymous said...

My husband is out of town this week so I am on my own. I've been making meals he can't eat (due to food allergies) or does not care for. I repurposed some sliced beef in the freezer and made a stroganoff type soup with mushrooms and sour cream - delicious! I also made a crustless quiche with greens, leeks, ham, and leftover cooked sweet potato.

Your sprouts and microgeens look so good! Do you just use regular lentils from the store to make the sprouts?

- Tina

Lili said...

Hi Tina,
Yum! That stroganoff soup sound fantastic! So does your quiche. You've found a good way to enjoy your favorite foods that happen to be ones your husband can't eat.

Yes, for the lentil sprouts, just the lentils that you buy in the grocery store. I was pretty thrilled when I found that out. They're super easy to grow, too. If you grow your own, wishing you well with it!
Have a great weekend, Tina!

Conni said...

Hi, Lili,
I love how your diet is filled with the freshest (from the garden and jar-sprouts) veggies, with plenty of fruit. That is also always my goal. It has been very hot here in central coastal CA, so we have had lots of salads. I still cook for eight, it seems, even though it is now just the two of us! We are fine with left overs, and many of them end up in the freezer for what I call ‘fast food’ . Since I also still really love to cook, making meals ahead fills the freezer. IF the weather ever cools down, we look forward to Soup Time, Finally - I SO agree that a beautiful and bountiful table is a lovely setting for counting our many blessing!

Live and Learn said...

BBQ lentils are something I never thought about before and sounds like a good idea. Do you anything special to make them?

Lili said...

Conni said...
Hi, Lili,
I love how your diet is filled with the freshest (from the garden and jar-sprouts) veggies, with plenty of fruit. That is also always my goal. It has been very hot here in central coastal CA, so we have had lots of salads. I still cook for eight, it seems, even though it is now just the two of us! We are fine with left overs, and many of them end up in the freezer for what I call ‘fast food’ . Since I also still really love to cook, making meals ahead fills the freezer. IF the weather ever cools down, we look forward to Soup Time, Finally - I SO agree that a beautiful and bountiful table is a lovely setting for counting our many blessing!


Hi Conni,
I hope that you are no where near any of the fires or within the area that may have power shut-downs. The heat and wind must be draining. Salads sound like a good idea -- refreshing and no heating a kitchen.
I love your "fast food." I tend to freeze parts of meals, like quarts of chicken stock or cooked beans, rather than ready-to-eat meals. I think we're still eating everything I cook. But I know that will change. And then it will be me cooking for a crowd when there are just 1 or 2 of us eating. You're making the best of it, though, by freezing leftovers to have on another night.
Have a great weekend, Conni!

Lili said...

Live and Learn said...
BBQ lentils are something I never thought about before and sounds like a good idea. Do you anything special to make them?


Hi Live and Learn,
My BBQ lentils are a lot like sloppy Joe's. I pre-cook the lentils in water then add them to a skillet of sauteed onions and other veggies (peppers, garlic, celery -- whatever I have that we like in sloppy Joe's), then mix in ketchup/BBQ sauce ingredients to taste. If I use ketchup then I'll also balance the flavor with some soy sauce and chili powder, so it's not too sweet. If I have some chopped ham, I'll add that for texture and a bit of smoky flavor. I like this on burger buns, but on toast works, too. The lentils that I used in this particular night were leftover from making a cola-BBQ sauce a month ago. You can use flat cola mixed with tomato paste or sauce and spices to make a pretty good BBQ sauce -- a good use for that last cup of flat cola that no one wants to drink. Hope this gives enough info.
Have a great weekend, Live and Learn!

share this post

enter your email below

Follow creative savv on Bloglovin'

Follow