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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This week's lunch round-up: fresh and simple hits the spot

I'd like to say that lunches this week will be mostly fresh items because I planned healthy lunches. However, the truth is, fresh items are simply easier than prepared items. And Monday was another very busy day.

Monday, I made the cucumber dill pickles (3 jars) and another quart of blackberry pancake syrup (now have 2 quarts of blackberry syrup), plus I dug potatoes (backbreaking and exhausting work), roasted a chicken, ran errands (2 markets), did bookkeeping, and 2 loads of laundry. So, I only had 2 prepared items this week, supplemented with fresh garden produce. Here's our lunch selection for the week:

  • cinnamon-almond granola ( I have to admit, the almonds were just the end of a bag of almonds, and much more almond "dust" than actual almonds)
  • rice-bean-tomato casserole
  • fresh plums
  • fresh apples
  • fresh tomatoes
  • fresh cucumbers
And of course, always there is peanut butter, bread, yogurt and mixed nuts.You may notice that this week there are no boiled eggs. We're now down to our last 3 dozen of fresh eggs, and 1 dozen frozen. I'll be needing these eggs for baking this month. So for a while, no more hard-boiled eggs.

It looks like I should be able to make another batch of cucumber dill pickles. That will bring us up to 6 jars of dill slices, to go with 8 jars of bread and butter zucchini pickles, and 9 jars of watermelon pickles. I'll also make green tomato sweet and dill relishes later this month. That should be it for pickle making. October will see me in the kitchen making plum chutney and tomato salsa.

Now, I'll go enjoy my cup of blackberry tea (the rinsings from the pan of blackberry syrup added to yesterday's tea bag, for a fruity and frugal cup of tea), and enter a couple of drawings from my recent shopping (on receipt, survey info in exchange for entrance in drawings for gift cards).

What's on your lunch menu this week?



  1. At this time of year especially, we typically do the fresh and simple approach. Fresh fruit and veggies taste so good on their own--why mess with that? And I'm very much into simplifying my life, so it's win-win.

    1. Good morning, Kris!
      Glad to hear I'm not alone in a fresh and simple approach. And you're right, good fresh produce tastes so much better than prepared stuff, why make more work for myself than necessary?! And everyone seems happy with what's available, so we're good!

  2. The first couple of weeks of the school year, mine were taking sandwiches. After homeschooling and only needing a packed lunch one day per week for our co-op day, taking lunch each day was a bit of a novelty. However, I soon realized that sandwiches were not going to cut it financially or healthwise. Now, they are allowed to have a lunchmeat sandwich and chips one day per week, buy lunch one per week (the 3 elementary kids love this but my middle schooler chooses not to buy), and I planned a lunch menu for the rest of the week, partially using planned leftovers. Monday was cold leftover rotisserie chicken with salad, homemade ranch, and apple slices. The youngers bought yesterday (oldest took leftover homemade mac and cheese), and today they had leftover spaghetti with meat sauce (preheated and put in insulated cups similar to a thermos), applesauce, and 2 cookies apiece.

    1. Hi Cat,
      It's a real change, isn't it? From just making lunch at home during the day, while homeschooling, to having to be prepared ahead of time with packed lunches.

      We homeschooled through 8th grade, then all 3 went to a small high school. Packing lunches became a chore for me. Somewhere mid-high school I turned that chore over to the kids. They would pack next day lunches right after getting home in the afternoon. But still, I had to have something there for them to pack.

      How do your kids feel about the lunches that they're packing? Do they feel "pressure" to have specific items in their lunches? You're right, lunchmeat sandwiches and chips could add up to big $$ quickly, and use a large chunk of your grocery budget.

  3. A rice, bean and tomato casserole sounds yummy!

    This week we are doing:
    - Fresh apples
    - Peanut butter and crackers or PB&J sandwiches
    - Yogurt
    - Almonds
    - Leftover spicy chicken/rice in tortillas with cheese

    Almost exactly the same as last week. We are so creative... :)


    1. Hi Angie,
      Oooh, the spicy chicken and rice in tortillas sounds yummy!
      We repeat menu items a lot, too. I only call it a "rut" if everyone is tiring of it. Otherwise, if it is working, why change it, right?

  4. Leftovers normally from the night before are our biggest go to lunch item.

    We'll be gone two days so I am packing some convenience foods and while they are pricey they are still cheaper than eating out. Sadly the room has no refrigerator so we're kind of limited in what I can take.

    1. Hi Shara,
      It sounds like you've made the best choice for your circumstances. We've gone that route, too, before -- bought cheese and crackers, beef jerky or beef sticks, raisins and other dried fruit, cup of noodles (bringing an immersion heater for the water, or using the in-room coffee maker). Doing this was always cheaper than restaurant meals.

  5. Last week while we were on vacation, we had a lot of peanut butter sandwiches and trail mix. Even though there were other offerings, these were the favorites.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      trail mix is always a favorite of ours, especially when there's M&Ms in it! I'll have to mix some up soon -- maybe use choc chips instead of M&Ms. Thanks for the suggestion!

  6. We've had egg salad, peanut butter & jelly, pimento cheese, and I have some pasta salad for the lunch boxes too. Keeping it frugal and not buying lunch in the school cafeteria, even if it is only $3.00 - that adds up over time.

    Your lunches sound really tasty and fresh. I included fresh apples I bought yesterday and also some red grapes I found on sale for 79¢ a pound, which is a real good deal.

    Sounds like you have been and will continue to be busy in your kitchen with canning. I love to see those home canned items and hear the pinging that comes from canning. One of my favorite sounds.

    1. HI Belinda,
      I haven't had pimento cheese in years! My mom used to buy that in tiny jars and I loved it.
      Oh yeah, that sound of the lids popping -- funny how we can get such satisfaction from that tiny sound.

      My daughters worked in the university cafeteria last quarter during breakfast and lunch shift twice per week. In addition to getting an hourly wage, they got a free meal whenever they worked. If they had bought the dining hall lunch it would have cost $9.25 each!!! No further explanation needed as to why we always, always, always pack lunch.

  7. I, too, tote leftovers to work. I pack 2 kid's lunches, which are usually home roasted meats or a homemade spread/salad such as chicken, egg salad if not PB & J. I sometimes will do a pasta salad for them, which they like, or filled tortillas with beans, cheese, veggies, homemade salsa/taco sauce. A refillable bottle of unsweetened, herbal tea; perhaps a cookie or baked good-done. I also make soup for my lunch, especially. This week, I have a Mexican spiced, lentil soup (add some leftover, roast pork to use it up, it wasn't part of the original recipe but with the price of meat, I am more vigilent about not wasting meat). For medical reasons, my gastro MD is advising that I add even MORE fiber to my diet (although, frankly, we eat a lot of fiber as it is!) so I am turning to dried beans, and this week, lentils. Fresh fruit is limited to what is in my organic CSA share (melons of late), bananas, new apples, grapes. I also have homecanned and fzn fruits to turn to.

    1. Hi Carol,
      your Mexican lentil soup sounds delicious! I'm looking forward to making more soups again. My husband has a microwave at work, but my daughters don't (summer only). Once the fall term begins, they'll have access to a microwave again.
      Your home-packed lunches sound tasty!

  8. I love the sound of fresh cucumbers and tomatoes :)

    I'm only working one day a week at the moment, so have been eating lots of lunches at home. I like leftovers and baked potatoes, and also made a delicious fermented buckwheat bread this week, which was made from just buckwheat and water. It's still more cakey than normal bread, but it's very nice toasted.

    1. Hi Liz,
      That fermented buckwheat bread sounds interesting. We've enjoyed buckwheat pancakes when Ive had that flour in the house.

    2. Liz do you mind sharing your bread recipe. I have been experimenting with recipes using fermented grains

  9. No one here takes their lunch. My husband has lunch meetings nearly everyday. (I think secretly he would rather take a pb and j and have an hour to himself, but the lunches come with the job.) Since the youngest is off at school and his meal plan is included with his dorm he is taken care of. That leaves just me and my lunches, though adequate are usually bleak. I am the lunch time consumer of the tablespoons of leftover whatever. It is rarely good or what I want, but it's sustenance. ( I will confess though, when I bake bread I cut a hot piece and butter it just for me. Perks of being the baker!)

    1. Hi Anne,
      When I just can't find anything I want for lunch at home during the week, I make myself an egg and some toast. Always does the trick for me. I find I just do better if I have a plate of something to eat, whether its leftovers, something from the family lunch menu, and egg/toast or pbj and fruit.


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