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Friday, May 10, 2019

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for Mid-Spring

Mexican casserole, layering Spanish rice with taco meat, refried beans, and cheddar cheese, then baked in the oven until bubbly
cole slaw with a dressing of dried chives, garlic powder, chive vinegar and mayonnaise
leftover cake

Saturday (everyone thought tonight's dinner was really delicious)
walking tacos-- homemade fried corn tortilla chips, topped with taco meat, refried beans, cheddar, and salsa
Spanish rice
cole slaw with the same dressing as the previous night
last bit of cake

Sunday- Cinco de Mayo (this dinner was unanimously voted the best of the 5 Mexican meals)
nachos- leftover tortilla chips, beans, meat, cheese broiled in oven, then topped with yogurt/salsa
steamed carrots
rhubarb custard

homemade cheese pizza
carrot sticks
leftover blackberry-rhubarb sauce and rhubarb custard combined
cocoa-chocolate chip meringues (I made another batch to send to my step-mom)

curried lentils over brown rice

Wednesday - cook-out
hot dogs in homemade buns
nutty rhubarb coleslaw
garden Swiss chard and carrots in garlic butter

Thursday - snacks/hors d'oeuvres at daughter's art show
bean spread sandwiches

The weeks seem so busy, and this one was no exception. I continue to try and be thoughtful about my choices that impact our finances. This week:

  • For meat, this week, I used 1 pound, total, of ground beef for all of the Mexican dinners, and 6 ounces of hot dogs for the cook-out. That's not even a pound and a half of meat for a week, for a family of 4! 
  • On Sunday, I baked the pie filling for rhubarb custard pie, without the pie crust. My family really enjoyed this. (I missed the pie crust, though.)
  • Breakfasts continued to be simple ones: steel cut oats, rhubarb muffins, and toast topped with peanut butter, bean spread, jam, or jelly. We're using less and less butter these days. 
  • Lunches for the week consisted of leftover refried beans and Spanish rice, sandwiches on homemade bread, boiled eggs, salads from the garden or carrot sticks and cabbage from the store, raisins, fruit juice, apples, rhubarb sauce, homemade brownies.
  • I made ketchup. There are copy cat recipes online, but I just combined to taste some tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, salt, and water in a saucepan and heated through to dissolve the sugar. I am not the big ketchup-lover in our household, so my idea of what constitutes a good ketchup may fall short of the mark with a real ketchup connoisseur. Hopefully this will be okay enough for my family members. I needed to use up some tomato paste in the fridge and we were about out of ketchup, so this seemed like a good mini project.
  • I baked several loaves of French bread this week. We are out of whole wheat sandwich loaves and I haven't had the time at home to dedicate to doing a large batch. My large batch makes 5 loaves and requires me to be around the house for several hours. So, French bread it has been.
  • Our 5 nights of Mexican meals was a hit. The last night deemed the best of all (I guess that means that I'll be making nachos again soon)
  • I put together a package to send to my step-mom for Mother's Day. I included some jars of homemade jam and some home-baked meringue cookies, along with some purchased tea and bath bombs (both bought with coupons and discounts) and the birthday gifts that I had for her. I packed the box completely -- there was little room for anything else. Because it seemed like my box would be heavy for its size, I opted for the flat-rate shipping box. I saved about one dollar over using my own box and using regular shipping. If you have a postal scale at home, you can estimate your shipping charges and compare the price to ship your parcel on The price on the flat rate boxes keeps increasing, so they don't always save money. However, if you know you'll be shipping heavy items, or your items are going to Hawaii, Alaska, or Puerto Rico, the flat rate Priority Mail shipping boxes can save several dollars.
  • My daughter had an art exhibition in the city on Thursday. I knew there would be some snacky type foods, but I wasn't sure it would be enough for our family's dinner (we all went), so I packed bean spread sandwiches and raisins for the drive home for any hungry travelers (it's a long drive from downtown). The evening was enjoyable and we are super proud of her work.
  • I transplanted some of my seedlings (the basil, pumpkin, and cucumbers) to larger containers. These seedlings need consistently warmer temperatures than we have in May before planting out in the garden. For the last 2 years, I've been buying my basil as starter plants from a local shop. The quality of those plants was outstanding, but at $4 each, it seemed like I should go back to starting my own from seed. Basil is such a slow grower from seed that my plants seem so tiny. So, I am taking extra good care of these seedlings, keeping them under lights, indoors where I can monitor their warmth and moisture as the roots settle into new soil. In recent years, I have had 2 good-sized basil plants, kept in large pots to provide for all of our summer basil needs. With starting from seeds, I now have 12 tiny, but healthy little plants. I may plant a couple of these seedlings each into the large pots, leaving a few plants to give to friends in the area who have been a great support or who could use a little support from me.
  • The furnace is now turned off for the season. I look forward to opening those heat bills to find them substantially lower from previous months. We're using cold water only for laundry and encouraging everyone to take shorter showers. Our water heater, furnace and stove-top are gas. I can't really cook less, but I can use the crock-pot and microwave more often. In addition, with longer days, again, we're using less indoor lighting. So, our electricity bills should be lower for several months, too.

That's about it for my week. I wish all of you a lovely Mother's Day, either for yourself or for the mom's in your life. We'll just be having a nice family gathering at home, using foods that I already have at home, plus 1 container of strawberries from the store. I'm not sure that I've ever eaten in a restaurant for Mother's Day since I became a mom. But then again, I don't think I'd like the noise and crowds of a restaurant on that day anyway. The gift on Mother's Day is to be with my children and to live up to the example of motherhood set by own mother.

Enjoy the weekend!


  1. Have a wonderful Mother's day. You menu sounded great.

    1. Thank you so much! I hope you had a nice Mother's Day!

  2. Have a good Mother's Day, Lili. I have to work and so does my son, so we probably won't be celebrating on Sunday. But that's no problem, I'm happy anytime I can be with my children.

    Does your daughter have an Esty shop or FB page where we can see her work?

    1. Thank you, live and learn. As it turned out, one daughter had to work and didn't get home until after 9 PM, so we'll do a Mother's Day thing another time. I did get to have breakfast with that one daughter before she left for work, and then lunch with the other daughter and my husband after church. So that was good. But I didn't see my son or his wife, and the whole family wasn't together, which is what I like about birthdays and holidays. Oh well.

      I hope that you and your family can celebrate Mother's Day soon, if you haven't already. My daughter has an instagram page. I'll get the link from her and post it here. Thanks for inquiring.

  3. I'm also curious about your daughter's art. What a fun evening for your family!

    Mmm, your week of meals really appealed to me. Mexican food is always a hit in my house. Somehow, it seems more fun than say, a roast.

    We will have my mom over after church on Sunday. I suggested to my husband that he make waffles for brunch, which he thinks is a fun idea (my mom loves waffles!). So we'll do that, some sort of fruit topping, I'll pull out the whipped topping, and have heat-and-serve sausages. I hope you enjoy your Mother's Day!

    1. Hi Kris,
      You're right, Mexican meals do sound more fun than roasts. Why is that? Yeah, we never seem to tire of it. I made a Mexican soup last night for dinner and we'll have the leftovers tonight.

      I love how you honored your mom for Mother's Day. The gifts sound perfect for her stage of life and the meal of waffles and sausage was surely a hit. I'm so glad that you had this time for your family together.

  4. Can you share yuour curried lentils recipe? TIA Also, I tend to turn to pots of homemade soup when times are tight, do you find thst this helps?

    1. Hi Carol,
      I'll get the recipe for the curried lentils from my daughter. She's made this a couple of times, and freezes leftovers for her own lunches.

      Yes, soup! It's back to soup weather here. We had a taste of summer to come last week. But yesterday it was chilly enough for soup again. They do stretch a small amount of meat, don't they?

  5. Happy Mother's Day, Lili (and all other moms!)

    Another inspiring set of menus (for any budget.) Thank you for sharing so much with us.

    We've done home-made ketchup, and although, like you, I'm not the big ketchup eater of our family, I feel like I know a pretty good ketchup when I taste it. Seems in our experience, a dash of cloves goes quite a ways to making it taste like the brands we like (and that's an addition you may well have on-hand for the next batch.) Celery seed also seems to give it something important. (I'm still using a little tiny container I got in a spice rack when I got MARRIED, and you know how long ago that was! LOL Still adds enough flavor to matter, though.)

    As for Mother's Day at a restaurant, I've never done it as a mom or for my mom or MIL. Like you, I can't imagine finding that enjoyable.

    God bless you, my friend! Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      I'll try cloves in ketchup next time. I've done celery seed before, and onion powder. I was in a hurry and didn't bother with any of the extras. But cloves do sound good. Like your celery seed that you've had for ages, I made rye bread a week ago with caraway seed that was a hand-me-down from my sister-in-law when they moved out of town, oh, about 20 years ago. Ha ha. Whole seeds do seem to keep for a long, long time.

      I hope you had a lovely Mother's Day, Sara!

  6. Happy Mother's Day, Lili!

    Hope you had a wonderful day with your family.


    1. Hi Alice,
      I hope that you had a wonderful Mother's Day, too!


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