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Friday, October 23, 2015

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for mid-October

Delicata squash

(This is Delicata squash. It's rind is creamy-yellow with orange and/or green stripes and softer than most winter squash (the "toughness" is similar to sugar pie pumpkin rind). It doesn't seem to keep as long as many of the hard-rind winter squash. It's flesh is pale orange, and not as high in beta carotene as the darker-fleshed squashes. However, it's one of our favorites for stuffing. Each squash half is about right for one serving. So, stuffing the halves, baked face up, with either meat or vegetable-based fillings makes for a nice presentation.)

rice and beans
*curried pea and peanut slaw
*tomato wedges with leftover 1000 Island dressing
peanut butter cookies (yes, THE cookies)

*bean and ham soup with carrots and Swiss chard
cornbread (from scratch)
*cole slaw
*figs and pears
peanut butter cookies

acorn squash
frozen peas
*salad of cabbage, shredded carrots, tomato and cucumber
leftover cornbread
peanut butter cookies

leftover acorn squash
*pork, kale, cabbage, carrot stir fry, over
brown rice

BBQ pork sliders on homemade buns
*salad of pickled beet, beet greens, shredded carrots, tomatoes, cucumber
*applesauce (from freezer)
gingerbread cookies

*kale and bacon quiche
brown rice with peas
*fresh tomato wedges
*asian pear slices

*turkey pot pie (w/ garden potatoes, onions, carrots, bush beans, beet greens, Swiss chard, along with frozen turkey from September)
*rhubarb-apple-blackberry sauce

*vegetable-bean soup (pinto beans, canned tomatoes, seasonings, Swiss chard, kale, carrots, green beans, peas)
Dollar Tree crackers with
*cream cheese and spiced fig jam
peanut butter cookies

individual servings of spiced fig jam topping cream cheese

This time of year, when I'm using the oven, I often throw in a winter squash that's been halved, seeded, and placed face down on a small, buttered baking pan. The cooked squash can be added to the next morning's oatmeal, scooped into a to-go container, dotted with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon, or I can make myself a quick lunch of squash soup, using some frozen soup stock, onion powder, and any other spices that sound good in the moment. If I want a richer soup as the main-stay of my lunch, then I swirl in a bit of heavy cream or butter, and some soy milk.

Meals this week, more so than last, have felt more autumnal, with turkey pot pie and soups. whenever possible, I aim to be taking something out of the oven, minutes before everyone shows up to the table. I can leave the oven door ajar, and we reap the benefits of the cooking oven, right next to the kitchen table. I will also announce, when calling for dinner, when we're having soup or stew, or some other meal item that would be so warming to eat, when it's actually still warm. We're using the furnace a little bit right now, not full-time, but a few hours per day. However, the house still can feel chilly in the furthest-from-the-furnace rooms. So, a warming dinner is very appreciated this month.

What was on your menu this past week?


  1. We ate a lot of camping meals this past week, cooked without an oven, but did practice some Dutch oven campfire cooking as well as using a small camp stove.
    Friday--chicken fajitas with peppers and onions, marinade for chicken prepared at home and put in bag with frozen chicken to thaw in cooler
    Saturday--burgers, chips, S'mores--we had our youth pastor and wife out to have dinner with us at our campsite this night.
    Sunday--chili, cooked over the campfire, crackers, Snickerdoodles baked at home
    Monday--tacos--quick and easy as we arrived home and had lots to do
    Tuesday--roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed broccoli
    Wednesday--ate at church (my night to help cook)--Frito Chili Pie, broccoli, veggie trays, assorted desserts
    Thursday--spaghetti with traditional noodles for the kids, with baked spaghetti squash for dh and I, and served with garlic toast made on leftover hamburger buns, some brought home from a scouting event and some we had that I threw in the freezer, my garlic toast made on gluten-free bread

    Tonight will be pizza for the kids, made by my 15 YO, pizza for adults made on the "Holy Grail" gluten-free crust (recipe found by googling).

    These have not all been the most frugal of meals, but some allowances were made for camping and for convenience, and not eating out AT ALL is quite an achievement for us compared with a few years ago.

    1. Hi Cat,
      Roast sounds very tasty to me right now. Your camping meals all sound so "regular"! I remember we ate a lot of hotdogs when camping, growing up.

      I think our own frugality is relative to how we might otherwise choose to live. Not eating out, even with your busy schedule, is quite an achievement.

      We've trended away from take away meals in the last few years, as well. I can remember getting Little Caesar's pizza on a fairly regular basis, just a few years back. Our changes have been as much motivated by improving our eating, as saving money. Although I don't always like cooking every day, I do know that what I make is better for us (me in particular, as I can limit wheat and dairy for myself).

      Have a great weekend!

    2. Ha! Well, we did have hot dogs for the first day's lunch. And the leftovers along with other leftovers as the last day's lunch. This was our longest campout yet, so took a bit more planning than usual (though not on the above list as they were more than a week ago, we were also out there for Wednesday and Thursday suppers). My daughters are in American Heritage Girls scouting this year, and the oldest needed to work on her outdoor cooking badge, and I needed some practice as well.

  2. It's getting a bit cooler here in Michigan and so we do a bit more oven meals. This week I'm suffering a bit from cooking burnout. Not sure why but the days are flying by so quickly that I can't keep ahead of the meals. Hubby has stepped in and helped for a few meals. One day we had a turkey roast with leftover veggies with a jambalaya style rice. The next days was baked potatoes with the leftover turkey roast. Another day was hamburgers. Last night was seasoned ground pork with shredded cheese, lettuce, sauteed pepper and onions in a tortilla wrap.

    I am taking today off from work and hubby and I decided to go to the local store to look for meat deals. He went yesterday and found 2 large (at least 7 or 8 lbs) pork roast for .79 per lb. It was a semi boneless pork roast. He bought the two remaining. So we went back today and there was a lot of meat being discounted. We got the last two .79 pork roasts, ground beef (85/15), sausage, beef roast, beef steaks and a chicken ALL DISCOUNTED! I made room in my already full freezer for these and am cooking a beef roast and pork roast for weekend eats!


    1. Hi Alice,
      Oh, those ARE good deals on the meat! Enjoy those roasts this weekend!

      I've been feeling burned out on cooking, lately, as well. It happens. I took some time on Monday to make ahead a coupe of meals and that helped a lot. It's great that your husband will help with a few meals. Maybe you'll have some leftover meat from the roasts this weekend, to have sandwich nights during the week, a couple of nights.

      I hope you enjoy the rest of your day off, today! Do something just for you!

      Have a great weekend!

  3. Meat balls mashed potatoes and green salad, Turkey burgers, Bean tacos, and rice, Baked pork roast I found in the bottom of the freezer, potatoes onions and carrots, BBQ pork sammys and pumpkin cheese cake. One night we just had grilled cheese.Your dinners sound wonderful.It must be the week of pork roasts. :)

    1. Hi Patti,
      Yeah -- pork has been featuring on many of our menus recently! Perhaps the lower price on pork, compared to beef these days?
      Your meals sound very tasty!

      Have a great weekend, Patti!

  4. Hi Lili,
    Oh your dinners sound great, especially the pork sliders & bean & ham soup!
    This week I made a couple fall type meals, chili & sloppy joes. Hubby asked for the chili when we had cooler weather, he loves those type of meals. I made a huge pot & we have enough for a few more meals in the freezer.

    1. Hi Rhonda,
      I haven't made sloppy joes in a long while. I'll have to add those this fall! It's funny how your own meals can sound hum drum, but someone else's sound so tasty> I was thinking the pork sliders and bean & ham soup were rather ordinary!!

      Good job making the large pot of chili to have another day! I need to do more of that.

      Have a great weekend!

  5. I fell off my bandwagon of keeping a journal of the foods I eat throughout the day. I hope next year I will be able to do that since it was a good tool to monitor consumption and meal planning (like driving by looking in the rear view mirror lol)

    As far as meals, we had bean patties on squash innards (the parts that have more mature seeds that can't be served to my dad), topped with salsa (husband bought from Costco...very good), macaroni/potato/cabbage/eggs/imitation crab salad (husband is into making his favorite comfort foods these days. The day before, gau gee (leftover seasoned Chinese fishcake in wonton wrap) and kimchee fried rice. The day before...wonton mein. Sometimes we eat all leftovers, whatever we find in the fridge. One dinner for me was an assortment of leftover veggie dishes, no meats. And our favorite standby...rice paper wrap when we have extra cucumbers.


    1. Hi YHF,
      good for your husband, making his own favorite comfort foods! I'm sure that makes keeping to your financial goals that much easier! Gotta love a man who will cook for himself.

      I like your meal of leftover veggie dishes. My lunches look like that often.

  6. It's been a week of using up leftovers, produce that needed to be eaten, and things from the freezer. A few things we had were chicken wraps with what was left of a whole chicken and whole wheat tortillas, Winco whole wheat pasta that was less than a dollar a package, acorn squash from a friend's garden, and rhubarb crisp with the rhubarb being from a relative's garden and having been diced and in the freezer for many months. Some weeks are like this--just an assortment of whatever needs to be used the most.

    1. Hi Mary,
      There's a Winco opening up in my area this spring. I'm really looking forward to seeing their prices. Ive heard their whole wheat pasta prices are pretty good.

      Great job on being flexible with what you have and need to use up! That's real boon to saving money on groceries.

    2. You will really like Winco, Lili. I do the majority of my grocery shopping there. They have a wonderful bulk section. I think they are the west coast's closest version of Aldi.

    3. Mary, it is the bulk section that I have heard the most about. My son even spoke of it, when he was on vacation up in the Bellingham area this summer. Looking forward to shopping there.

  7. I see that you ate fewer things from your freezer this week. Does that mean that you've cleared the space you wanted?

    1. Hi live and learn,
      it's been a balancing act of using things from the freezer, the fridge, the garden and the pantry. But I have cleared a tiny bit of space in the freezer, and will continue working on that.

  8. Your menu looks good, Lili and so nutritious with all the vegetable and fruit varieties.

    We worked on the big pot of potato soup I made last weekend for most of the week. It was nice to come home from work and already have something ready to eat.

    We've not had to have the heat on although it is getting chilly in the mornings. It warms up a great deal during the day, so I can hold out a little bit longer. I would like to be able to enjoy the lower electric bill from not having to have the air on for a little while longer before the bill goes up from having to turn on the heat, if possible. lol A girl can dream. :)

    1. Hi Belinda,
      Yum! Potato soup sounds delicious!

      Oh, I can understand not wanting to turn the heat on just yet, especially after having to pay cooling bills for summer. We'll begin using our heat full-time in November. For now, we can get buy with occasional use, depending on each day's weather.

  9. Delicata squash ... mmmm. My favorite. I love cozy fall cooking.

    1. Hi Kris,
      all those fall foods are vey comforting, aren't they? And the kitchen is so nice and cozy-warm when cooking.


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