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Friday, January 20, 2017

Cheap & Cheerful Menus for a Mid-January Week

Thursday's quick and easy supper of eggs, bacon, bagels and stewed prunes

We needed to eat through a bunch of leftovers, so I changed up the menu for tonight's dinner.
  • leftover rice and lentils from last Saturday, mixed with leftover black beans from a week ago, and canned tomatoes, from the can I opened last Sunday, some salsa, and some black olives, heated in a skillet with beef fat from the freezer, and some oil (to mute the beef fat flavor)
  • leftover stewed prunes from Thursday, mixed with 1 banana, sliced, for fruit cups, for 3 of the family, and 1 dish of leftover blackberry-rhubarb sauce for the other person
  • steamed broccoli, the last crown of broccoli, bought a week ago and needed cooking
It was my husband's turn to cook, again. I was gone for the afternoon and came home a few minutes before dinner was ready. He's doing okay with the cooking, by the way. He asked for suggestions, on Friday. I gave him a couple of suggestions. He decided to choose his own path.
  • brown rice
  • refried beans
  • fried corn tortillas and salsa
  • carrot and celery sticks, plus bleu cheese dressing
Mostly a repeat from Sunday's dinner
  • leftover chili, stretched with lentils today
  • leftover cornbread
  • smoothies of orange juice, cranberry sauce and pumpkin
  • baked potatoes, topped with a diced hot dog and mushrooms, sauteed, then cheese on that (this was surprisingly good)
  • baked butternut squash, simply seasoned with butter and salt
  • winter veggie slaw, of red cabbage, green cabbage and julienned carrots
  • ham slices from the freezer
  • leftover baked potatoes
  • leftover butternut squash mixed with leftover pumpkin puree
  • marinated lentil salad, in mustard vinaigrette
  • watermelon pickles
  • blackberry-rhubarb sauce from the freezer
  • eggs, scrambled in ham fat, with mushrooms, onions and green pepper, topped with cheese
  • turkey bacon
  • stewed prunes
  • bagels with cream cheese
Another quick and easy week of dinners. I attempted to put some order back into the pantry this week. We still have such abundance of everything that it's impossible to find anything in the pantry or the freezer. But I'm working at it. My plan is to have made a significant dent in the freezers by the end of February. I think we need to eat more ham and blackberries to make that happen.

What was on your menu this past week? Anything particularly yummy, or easy? I hope that everyone who was under the weather last week, is feeling much better, this week. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!


  1. Another week of awesome menus, love your flexability to ensure that foodstuffs are used up, avoiding food waste.

  2. We started feeling better on Sunday but took it easy. We made fajitas and had enough to nibble on all week. Another night I made waffles and macaroni/hamburger. Another day was mashed potato/cabbage mixed together with baked chicken. Another day was rice/broccoli/turkey casserole for hubby and for me a seafood casserole.

    I took 1/2 day off from work yesterday and it was warm (41) and sunshine so I had an enjoyable afternoon. I want to make some bread but I'm unsure of my sourdough starter. I fed it and it forms the alcohol layer but I'm not sure it's alive. Any ideas?


    1. Hi Alice,
      With your sourdough starter, do bubbles form? Have you moved it to a warm spot (70 degrees F or warmer, but not hot -- in your oven with the light on, and the door cracked open, but no oven element)? Try feeding it every 6 hours, over the weekend (except at night, of course) and keep it warm. If it begins to get bubbly, it's still good. It probably needs to be warm. When I've been unsure of my starter, I've found that it just needs warmth and regular feeding. Good luck with it!
      Also, I'm glad you're feeling better this week. Have a nice weekend!

  3. Hi, Lili-- It all sounds yummy to me! Your DH's meal, the baked potatoes, and the leftover stewed prunes with bananas, especially! I WISH that I "had" to use ham steak and blackberries! LOL Yummmmy!

    Hubby brought home leftover soup he made at work, which was probably the highlight meal from this week. My first grocery shopping in weeks brought home just enough fresh ingredients to really expand what I can do with what I have on-hand. So next week we'll have some veggie-heavy pizza, chicken jalfrezi, and Chinese stir-fry. Need to eat more of several types of soup from the freezer, but have been really enjoying some persimmon pudding and pumpkin pudding I'd frozen in one-person servings.

    Oh, and I froze extra "fancy" mashed potatoes in single-serving mounds yesterday. I think that they'll be wonderful in the impromptu one-person "TV dinners" I've been heating up when it's just me for supper.

    Have a great weekend! Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      "TV dinners" -- I wonder how long until no one knows what those are? Just a strange thought. Good idea to make yourself some frozen potato servings, for when it's just you at home. It's a challenge to cook for just 1.
      So tell me, what's chicken jalfrezi? Sounds like it could be interesting. I'm sure you're enjoying having lots of fresh produce in the house, again.

      Have a great weekend, Sara!

    2. I thought of the potato mounds because of your whipped cream mounds, etc. :) I made the mashed potatoes for just me, but of course made a big batch; so now I will be able to take out as many portions as I need for whoever I'm serving it to next.

      It's been nice to have a few different things all in single-servings in the freezer that heat up in about the same amount of time; so I can throw several in a little casserole dish, and heat them up together for a fairly balanced meal with no prep at all.

      Chicken jalfrezi is a stir-fry that has Indian/Pakistani spices -- ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric and garam masala, plus peppers and cilantro and some other veggies. Very quick and easy to make, but feels festive. Good set of ingredients for some kinds of health problems, too. :) I actually mix up the seasonings in bulk in a 1/2 pint mason jar ahead, and then I can make several batches without the extra step of measuring. Having the spices mixed also allows me to easily add a little extra flavor if a certain batch feels a little bland (since I often don't really measure the ingredients, just throw it all together), or I'm serving someone who wants it to have more "kick".

      And yes, hooray for ample fresh veggies and fruit after several weeks without! :) Take care-- Sara

    3. Sara, thanks for sharing what Chicken Jalfrezi is. You would know this -- using just a basically-stocked kitchen, what would I use to simulate Garam Marsala?

    4. oops, meant Garam Masala. No wine in this seasoning, everyone, just to be clear.

    5. Yes, I do know this, and have been making my own since I ran out of the first bottle I bought years ago. :) (I have several recipes in a fabulous Asian cookbook by Charmaine Solomon.)

      I like her version of Kashmiri garam masala, which is a mixture of cardamom, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Other versions also include coriander and/or mace.

      To get the very best flavor (as with another similar spice blend, panch phora), you get the very best flavor if you start with whole spices, roast them lightly, and then grind them. But you can still get a nice flavor even using pre-ground, un-roasted spices. Sara

    6. Ooops... did I mention roasting gives the very best flavor? LOL You and I are both too busy today to proofread, I guess! Sara

    7. Thank you, Sara! When I make this, I'll post a photo!

  4. How did you cook your butternut squash and pumpkin puree? We have both and I've been weighing various options for using them.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      with the butternut, after washing, halving and scooping out the seeds, I placed them cut-side down on a baking sheet and oven-roasted them, at about 325 F for an hour, until soft. Then I scooped out the flesh, and mashed with butter and salt. Simple as that. With the pumpkin, I cut and peeled chunks and boiled on the stove until soft, then used the immersion blender to puree it in the pot. But you can also roast, then scoop the insides. I do both ways, depending on whether or not one way feels tedious at the moment.
      Enjoy your squash and pumpkin, whichever way you prepare it.

      Have a great weekend, live and learn!

  5. After the grandkids went home on Monday, we made another batch of collard greens, this time with a small frozen serving of "kalua pork", and added some chicken broth instead of the usual ham/ham broth. Also, I added another vegetable, bittermelon, to the slow cooker. Then, with some frozen leftover hamburger patties (from the kids "loco moco" dish served several weeks ago), we made a large pot of chili since we needed to use two cans of kidney beans that were expiring this month. Plus we had the usual sides of steamed mung bean sprouts, quinoa, tofu, natto, kim chee...

    I bought about 7 packages of tortilla wraps from Costco (Tortilla Land uncooked tortilla wrap, 50 ct., $2.09 each after Ibotta rebates) I gave 3 packages to our son and DIL since the grandkids loved eating it as breakfast burritos and dinner soft tacos during their stay with us. With the wraps, every bit of leftover can go into making future burrito freezer meals. I tag what's in each burrito, since they are all turning out different. This morning, my husband had eggs, ham, cheese, while I had kale w/dressing, rice, cheese burritos. Delicious and very economical.

    Have a nice evening!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      Your meal burritos sounds so delicious. I like the idea of filling with any kind of leftover, for something different from the usual mexi-burrito. I'll give those a try, soon.

      I hope you had a peaceful weekend, YHF!

  6. We were snowed/iced in pretty much all week so I used what we had on hand for meals. I usually don't bother making breakfasts for the kids on weekdays (they warm up waffles I've made & frozen, or cook up an egg or some such thing for themselves--the bigger kids help the littlest ones). However, I did make baked oatmeal twice this week so as to use up some wrinkly apples. The kids really liked it both times, so that was a winner.
    Keep on truckin', Lili. You're doing a good job keeping up with meals even with your reduced time to put towards them. Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa,
      Thank you.
      I think I may have a couple of wrinkly apples and pears lurking in the fridge. I'll give your baked oatmeal a try. Thanks for the suggestion!
      Have a great day, Melissa!

  7. Our favorite this week was on Monday using leftovers from last week in a soup. I think I am in a bit of a funk because while our meal plan sounded good this week...they were "meh". Not sure if it was the meals, being extra busy this week or if it was related to not feeling great. I keep trying to use up all the leftovers but they seemed like they were growing instead of being used up! We did not end up making all of the meals on the plan so I will shift some to next week.
    M - Beef and Vegetable Barley Soup (made from leftover pot roast and the "dregs" of veggies in the fridge
    T - leftover soup and homemade bread that needed to be used and clementines for the family, I was not feeling well
    W - Turkey and Bean Taco's with lettuce/ tomato/ olives. We serve our "tacos" deconstructed over tortilla chips. Some also added shredded cheese using up the end of the bag or a dollap of plain yogurt (we use in place of sour cream)
    Th Meatloaf, Roasted Potato, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Baked Apples
    F - Leftover meatloaf/ potato plus onion and mushrooms sauteed to reheat, green beans


    1. Hi Saryn,
      I hope you are feeling better, today. Not feeling well will put my appetite off, too.
      When I was in Girl Scouts, I had deconstructed tacos for the first time. The mother who made them called them "walking tacos". For some reason, the change from tacos in shells was so fun to me. I may make those sometime, here, soon. I have a can of beans and bag of tortilla chips that I got for free on a Friday freebie, recently. Saving those for a busy or tired day.
      I also love the sound of the meatloaf, potato, Brussel sprout and baked apple dinner. Yum!
      Have a great day, Saryn, and I hope you are feeling better, again.


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