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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

This week's lunch round-up: making do with less fresh produce

We're in the phase of the year when we need to make do, as much as possible, with regards to fruits and vegetables. My kids love produce, so sending them off for the day with just a sandwich and some nuts just won't cut it. It also wouldn't be terribly healthful.

I am out of carrots and oranges. These are my usual winter lunch-box staples. We're just very low on fresh produce for the time being. So, I inventoried the frozen and canned fruits and veggies in my kitchen and came up with: frozen crabapple sauce, some wrinkly fresh apples, potatoes, frozen spinach, canned pumpkin, canned tomatoes, and home-dried prunes.

For lunches this week:
  • cooked the wrinkly apples and combined with some frozen crabapple sauce
  • mashed potatoes with cottage cheese, garlic and spinach
  • individual snack-size containers of prunes and peanuts
  • veggie lasagna with pasta, canned tomatoes, garlic, cottage cheese, tofu, herbs and spinach
  • pumpkin pie
  • peanut butter sandwiches
When I made out my plan, I realized that I had 4 dishes to cook up with this lunch round-up. So I made my cooking do double-duty. What I prepared for lunches, became Monday's and Tuesday's dinners (or at least part of), as well.

Everything I made this week had to be completely vegetarian, as on many days, it could sit out in a heated room for several hours, so no using animal fats for sautéing vegetables, and limited egg use. And it all had to be "safe" to eat without reheating, in a pinch. The spinach lasagna may be tastier when heated, but it would still be good and "safe" if eaten cold. (I like cold pasta, myself.)

Full disclosure, here. This was a lot of scratch-cooking for me on Monday. I also had financial matters to tend to, and be out the door for my class by 4:45. So, as you can guess, my hair did not get combed, nor my face washed until 2-ish! I did shower and dress early in the day, as I'm more productive if I'm dressed and in shoes. A day when I ate standing up at the kitchen counter, had an empty bag in the middle of the kitchen floor for garbage, and many things were set on the floor, table, or chairs, as I was constantly running out of space!

Good music blaring, a plan and timetable, and I was cooking up a storm in my kitchen. Good times!

And just for fun (accounting purposes), I did a little cost estimate.

the lasagna . . . about $3 for 10 servings
the spinach-cheese potatoes . . . about  $2.25 for 10 servings
the pumpkin pie . . . about $1.35 for a whole pie (10 small servings)
the apple-crabapple sauce . . . about 15 cents for 7 servings (apples and crabapples from our mini-orchard, 15 cents for the sugar)

If any one of us ate all of this in one sitting, it would have cost $6.75, (and they'd be exploding), still a lot cheaper than one meal in the cafeteria at my daughters' university, at $9.25 for ONE meal!



  1. I've never known anyone who dries their own prunes! I'm the only one in my family who likes them--yours sound yummy.

    It's definitely a tricky time of year for produce. Aldi has decent produce prices--they change their produce sale-items weekly, which is nice, as it gives us a variety to choose from. We mostly eat our freezer produce, combined with the cheaper potato/carrot/celery/onion items, but I like to pick up the occasional fun sale item, as well, to get us through the winter doldrums. Good job on your weekly lunches!

    1. Hi Kris,
      We have an Italian Prune plum tree in the yard. It's very prolific. I use the dehydrator to dry them, makes it very easy!

      I am so looking forward to good produce again! My favorite produce sad opens in just over a month. Until then, we'll just be limping along!

      I sure wish we had Aldi here. I do hear about such great deals you get there. Oh well, we each have stores and methods that benefit us! And for that I am thankful!

    2. Since I started shopping at Aldi's we eat more fresh produce because they always have something on special. This week is blueberries. Yum.

  2. Nice job scouring the pantry and freezer. Sounds like you were in a cooking frenzy. (I am going to be doing that tomorrow) I also dry a lot of produce. My fruit trees are not bearing well yet, but I buy bushel loads of plums and peaches during the summer from some local orchards. We eat lots, freeze some, make jam, and dry them. I probably should can peaches, but I really hate canning with the exception of tomato products and jelly.

    1. Hi Anne,
      Oh I would love to have access to good peaches! And while canning would save you freezer space, I think frozen peaches are better than canned anyway!

      Have fun cooking tomorrow!

    2. I think just about everything tastes better frozen. However, I have a friend whose freezer went bad and she lost everything. Now she only cans.


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