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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for the last week of July

kale-cheddar quiche
brown rice (cooked in chicken stock with herbs)
mustard glazed carrots
apple slices  (2 apples from our tree)
leftover blackberry-rhubarb crisp

scrambled eggs
breakfast sausage
fried rice with carrots, green and waxed beans, Swiss chard, shallots and garlic
rhubarb-blackberry sauce

linguine and meatballs in marinara sauce
cucumber-dill salad

refried bean, rice, yogurt, tomato, cheddar burritos in whole wheat tortillas
oven-roasted canned tomatoes w/ basil and Parmesan
rhubarb sauce
lemon bars

bean burger patties, topped with marinara and mozzarella
flour tortilla chips (mostly for me, as I can't have the cornbread -- milk, but everyone else enjoyed the chips, too)
medley of Romano, waxed and green beans
fresh blackberries (the berries at the back of our property are now ripening. I picked a quart today)

chicken in gravy, over brown rice
sauteed kale and shallots in bacon fat
cucumbers in chive blossom vinaigrette
fresh blackberries (picked another quart today

chicken-vegetable soup
pumpkin muffins
pickled beet salad


  1. It all sounds yummy, Lili!

    My thrifty idea I am proud of from this week was thinking to freeze some canned peaches for milkshakes. I had stocked up on canned fruit a few years ago, and then our consumption dropped (multiple reasons). Also, we're tight on funds for a couple of months due to unforeseen expenses, so I've been trying to eat from the pantry as much as possible to reduce cash outflow.

    We had some milk to use up, unexpectedly, and it's hot; so I'd been wishing I had some frozen fruit for shakes. I've frozen leftover pineapple and used that for shakes/virgin coladas before, but my doc says pineapple is too sweet for me. So, I put on my thinking cap, and remembered the big cans of peaches. I just strained and threw them in a ziplock bag yesterday noon. And by suppertime, when we were hot from outdoor chores, they were frozen enough to make delicious shakes with a little milk and coconut milk, ground chia seeds, and honey.

    I also made a big batch of salsa earlier in the week from canned/dried ingredients, and I used some leftover tamale masa for impromptu sopas, so that wouldn't go to waste.

    Thanks for all the inspirations! Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      good job on freezing the peaches. Those will be refreshing in smoothies/shakes. And very smart to be using what you have on hand in the pantry right now, given the financial crunch for the next couple of months. Very smart. I've heard folks refer to the pantry as a "rainy day savings" account. Most Americans have enough in their pantries to get them through many days of meals, some even longer.

      Mmmm, sopas! Great idea with the masa. I have 2 grinds of masa that need using up, one much finer than the other. Do you have a particular recipe you use for sopas?

    2. Hello, again, Lili--

      Yes, we agree that having a well-stocked pantry is like money in the bank (especially since we bought a lot of canned goods when food prices were lower!) Our son and I were jotting down things today that are older, and ought to be used up; so we'll kill two birds with one stone! :)

      Sometimes I do fake sopas (like this week) with leftover tamale dough or other masa-based dough. Those taste great, but are a bit more delicate. I've tried a couple of sopa recipes, and this one I improvised from several recipes made the best ones we ever had.

      2 cups corn masa flour
      1/2 cup corn meal
      1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
      1 teaspoon baking soda
      1 teaspoon granulated garlic
      @ 2 cups water

      I find masa doughs to be quite forgiving, so don't have any special instructions for mixing this. You want sort of a light-playdough-y consistency. Roll into 1-2" balls, depending on how big you want the finished sopas. Then squash between two pieces of parchment or waxed paper with the bottom of a frying pan. Fry in 1/4" or so of oil, medium-hot. Drain briefly, and top as desired. Enjoy!!! :)

      Oh, and I forgot, I did one other sort of frugal thing this week. We use freeze-dried fruit for some of our snack bars, and blueberry is one of our favorites. But I like the blueberries still sort of crisp in the bars. So the other day, when I realized that the end of my #10 can were getting a little tiny bit gummy, I decided to reconstitute them, with some FD blackberries, and made a crisp out of them. Delicious! And it tasted pretty much like fresh, which impressed me, since we normally snack on FD fruit, not cook with it.

      Take care. :) Sara

    3. Thank you, Sara!
      Sometime next week I'll make some sopas.
      Great work with the blueberries!

    4. You're welcome, Lili, as always. :)

      I thought of another use for a LITTLE bit of masa, too. It's good for thickening home-made chili. I'm doing that today, and thought of you when I grabbed the masa out of the freezer. :)


    5. Thanks, again, Sara! I've added regular cornmeal to thicken bean soups that just tuned out too thin. It's great because you can just whisk it in, without having to mix it with water, first.

      have a great weekend!!

  2. Your meals seem to be so "planned". I get called to go to my parents' house about twice per week and I was just telling them that I can't seem to get ahead in the meal planning department. Mom said it just is this certain time in my life where grown kids are in and out all day with jobs and school and mealtimes aren't ever together anymore. It is still something I have to do each day but my days run out of time also. I love my parents and treasure the time with them knowing any day could be the last but when then I am unable to plan out my meals for the following day. So we just make what we can, when we can and the rule is nobody goes out to eat nor may you just stop by fast food and pick anything up.

    Ideally, I would plan the evening before what tomorrow will be but by the time I get home I'm getting today's meal ready and then I don't feel like thinking about tomorrow's meal. There is stuff in the freezer and pantry but no quickie pre-packaged items. So we'll just eat easier things for now.

    Kids are in and out all the time so they don't always eat the meals I've prepared until the next day. At least they all have jobs (some have two jobs) and life is blessed by God.


    1. Hi Alice,
      Do not be so hard on yourself and what you're able to get done! You are doing a lot!!! You have work, your parents to visit and check on, a large family to feed -- and all doing this the frugal way.

      My meals aren't really planned that much ahead. I will sometimes think ahead a couple of days, if there's something I really want to make, or I need to thaw something or cook ahead (like beans).

      Most of the time, my planning is limited to knowing what I need to use up or have available in the garden. So, like for tonight, yesterday I put garbanzo beans to soak, as I thought they'd be a nice change. And I now have ripe tomatoes and lots of cucumbers in the garden, plus the blackberries are ripening every day. I have some cooked brown rice in the fridge, needing to use up. It wasn't until this morning that I put my menu all together:

      hummus (w/ the garbanzo beans)
      pita bread (dough is ready to bake right now)
      tomato-cucumber-rice salad (Mediterranean in flavor)
      blackberry-rhubarb pie (homemade pie dough in the freezer, the pie will go together in a jiffy, I picked extra blackberries yesterday, and now have to cut a stalk of rhubarb)

      This time of year, most parts of my meals are super simple. I saute vegetables with very little extra seasoning. I serve berries with a spoonful of runny jam over them as dessert. I cut up pieces of fruit, like apples, into wedges, doing nothing else with them. I cook brown rice in large pots, to use over a few meals. When I served a medley of different types of garden beans, I quick-cooked them in the pan that I fried the bean burger patties, and only sprinkled a bit of garlic powder. It's mostly plain and simple foods. I reserve the more elaborate cooking, for once or twice per week. The linguine and meatballs would fall under "more elaborate", as they just take a lot of time.

      I sometimes think it would just be so easy to have boxed or canned meals in the pantry. But truth be told, those boxes still have to be prepared, and pans still need washing. Even on a night when I'm just making sandwiches, it all seems to take time. I think the real luxury of buying a boxed dinner or freezer entree is in not having to think what to do next in a recipe, but just following simple instructions on the package. That's the hard part, the thinking things through. And at the end of the day, my mind is tired, everyone is talking to me, I'm trying to get dinner pulled together, then served onto plates -- it's a hard job, at the end of the day, when I want my workday to be over. The one saving grace for me is that I have the luxury to be able to get much of what I make done early in the day, when I'm alone at home, and have the energy and mental focus.

      It's a challenge, when you have a lot else on your plate. But you're doing a great job! And time will change some things. There will come a time for both of us, when we're just cooking for 1 or 2. I can see myself popping a large bowl of popcorn and calling that my dinner, someday in the future. At that time, I think cooking will become fun again, as it once was when I didn't have to do it every day.

  3. Alice was commenting that she had a family with varying schedules which made it hard to have a meal ready to fit everyone's availabiltiy. That made me wonder--How often is your family, Lili, around at the same time for a meal since they each have their own thing to do?

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Saturday and Sunday are the only dinners where we all sit down together at the same time. However, there's usually a point each night, when everyone is at the table, usually though, not always. I can't physically wait until 7:45 when some of the family gets home, to eat my dinner. Sometimes, I start the dinner hour with just one or two of my kids, and other family members trickle in. Gone are those days when the whole family sat down to dinner together. Living in the suburbs, but everyone commuting to the city makes it near impossible to be home for a reasonable dinner hour, anymore.

  4. No leftover days? Would it be so bad to serve two days of the same menu, to make it easier for yourself?? We eat leftovers until they are gone, in fact, for lunch and dinner.

    I know from the rest of your posts, your standards are very high plus doing it on as few dollars as are indeed accomplishing the impossible.

    I truly wish you popcorn for dinner one day.


    1. Hi YHF,
      our leftovers frequently get eaten up in next day breakfasts and lunches. There are a few items that I plan on leftovers, like cooked beans, rice, tortillas, chicken, and these morph into something the next night or two. we seem to be at a point right now, when I can't make enough for a full meal's worth of leftovers. Some nights I think, "wow, I've made so much, surely there will be a lot leftover", and we manage to eat it all, before the next night's dinner. It won't always be like this, I know. Someday, I'll be eating a bowl of popcorn or a slice of pie, for my dinner, and loving it!!


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