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Friday, December 13, 2019

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers from Early December

peanut butter fudge wrapped in waxed paper and paper doilies

The pages of the calendar appear to be flipping forward at ever-increasing speed this month. Doesn't it always feel like there is more to do than is realistically possible as the holidays approach? You're not alone. I'm doing what I can to save time in some areas so I can spend time in others. Here was my week.

This past week, I spent $21.30 on food, bringing my December spending up to $141.37. I still need to buy a ham and maybe a little more fresh fruit. I began the month thinking I would spend around $170, so I feel I am still doing well.

Once again, I was tired and busy, so I didn't always think to grab a camera at dinner (and I have a dumb phone without the capability to take photos). Here's what we ate for dinners, and the few photos I took.

squash and apple soup
crackers and egg salad
orange wedges

turkey soup from freezer
fried kale

scrambled eggs with cheese
hash brown potatoes
canned green beans

turkey, cornbread stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce (leftovers from Thanksgiving)
mashed baked squash
kale and onions

garbanzo bean and corn soup
corn muffins
homemade thin mint cookies

tuna casserole
salad of lettuce and lentil sprouts (lettuce my daughter bought)

squash and apple soup (leftover and frozen)
rosemary focaccia (leftover and frozen)
cabbage and lentil sprout slaw
pumpkin pie (leftover from Thanksgiving and frozen)

I am still working on Christmas baking and treat-making. Yesterday, I made a batch of peanut butter fudge (using some of that bargain-basement peanut butter from last summer -- $2 for 4 pounds). 

Do you remember those tins that I filled last Christmas? here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Well, I'm refilling the same tins for the same recipients. So far, I have a batch of spiced mixed nuts, this peanut butter fudge, and some assorted holiday teas. I'll be adding a couple of other sweets, and a savory snack or two.

How about you? What was on your menu this past week? Is anyone else still eating Thanksgiving leftovers? It's wonderful to have meals to pull out of the freezer and quickly reheat.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!


  1. Oh - lucky recipient! How about the recipe for your peanut butter fudge?

  2. Looks like a lot of good food. I will say that your meals are fairly "light" in nature. That's not so bad though.

    We had a lot of soup this week--chicken noodle and bean, vegetable with a can of chili. Hamburgers, tater tot casserole, baked chicken, homemade rice-a-roni, homemade pizza.

    Our son is home this weekend (he works weekends but worked in training all week so he has the weekend off) and I will make some kind of roasted chicken with potatoes and a veggie. Or maybe I'll make a ham.

    We're not hosting Christmas this year so I won't have any leftovers from that. But I think I will still buy a ham and make that on Sunday just because my son is home!

    I have a lot in the freezer to choose from so we'll be using that in the next couple of months because winter is here.


  3. Drooling over your fudge! :)

    I think I'll do this in backwards order. Tonight will be tacos, last night was ham tetrazzini and green beans, Wed was cheesy chicken chowder and rolls, Tues was Greek chicken sandwiches in naan, Monday was roasted chicken, potatoes and green beans. "Extras" were green beans, carrot sticks, applesauce, and cottage cheese. We've had lots of band concerts/competitions in the past week which has been busy but fun.

    Yes, Lili, the late date of Thanksgiving has made this particular Christmas season seem extra rushed. I'm cutting corners where I can. Someone (not me!) decided our youth group kids should decorate Christmas cookies to take to shut-ins--a great idea, but labor intensive. I splurged and bought a 6 dozen pack of pre-cut cookies that just needed to be baked from Gordon Foods--I certainly could have made it from scratch in a more cost effective manner, but this week is one of those times when taking the easy way out makes sense. That's the main way I am cutting corners this season.

  4. Hi Ruthie,
    I'm still working on this recipe. It came out not as creamy or as peanut-y as I would prefer. But it is delicious. I'll post a recipes when I've got one that I like better. I'm working with basic ingredients -- brown sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, confectioner's sugar, and peanut butter. I think the fudge recipes that call for marshmallow cream make a creamier fudge. But I'm using what I have.
    Have a wonderful weekend, Ruthie!

  5. Hi Alice,
    your meals sound delicious, especially the tater tot casserole. One of these years I'll try that out. I love potatoes! I think you've got a good plan for making a ham this weekend. You'll still have lots of leftovers to use in the next month even though you're not hosting Christmas dinner.

    I hope your weekend is lovely, Alice and you enjoy having your son home for a couple of days.

  6. Hi Kris,
    I didn't even know those existed - pre-cut sugar cookies. I completely know what you mean about needing to cut corners where you can. There are just so many activities, so many foods to make, gifts to make, buy, and wrap, and the house still needs a little more decorating (our tree isn't decorated yet, even). Scrambling to get it all done means that some things have to be done differently than normal. I think buying the cookies, pre-cut is a good shortcut to take.
    Your meals sound delicious and with a lot of variety. I love the sound of the Greek chicken sandwiches!
    Have a wonderful weekend, Kris!

    (Now, to go look up Gordon Foods. . .)

  7. So, I just looked up the cookie dough, Kris, and I don't think the price is all that bad for what is done ahead for you. Sure, you could have saved some money doing the dough and cutting them out yourself, but I think when you take a shortcut like this you gain more than just the work of the cookies pre-done. I think this gives you a bit of a morale boost, to know that you're not doing "everything," that gets you through the rest of your work. So, I think you made a wise choice.

  8. Hi Lilli, just wanted to let everyone know that hams are on sale at Winco for .77 cents a pound for shank, .87 cents for the butt potion and $1.27 for spiral limit 2 per visit...we are having cookie baking party tomorrow and will be decorating sugar cookies with all the little kids as well. It will be a fun day ! Looks like u r on a roll with your baking and gift making good job! Have a wonderful weekend! ! Love Gaila in the NW

  9. Thank you, thank you, Gaila!!! I really appreciate your taking the time to post this!
    Have a wonderful time decorating and baking cookies.

  10. I thought your Ritz thin mints sounded interesting; then just a few days later, someone brought them into work. They a\were delicious. No more wondering how the flavors combined. A fortuitous coincidence. :)

  11. Gaila brought up something that I hope someone can clarify. What's the difference in a shank versus the butt portion for ham? Is one better than the other? Is it more the carving that is simpler or have I missed something? And now add in spiral? Are they always one or the other? I know that is better for carving but any other benefits of one over the other?


  12. I'm so glad you had an opportunity to taste those homemade GS cookies, Live and Learn. Now you know if you'd want to make some for yourself someday or not. I read about another way to make these, the other day. You can melt Andes mints for the coating -- no need to buy peppermint oil.
    I'm glad to hear someone brought those in to your work. I've been thinking of making these for our church's coffee hour the next time I'm called. I think they would go over well.

  13. Hi Alice,
    someone else likely knows much more about this than me, but here's my experience. The butt portion is meatier (more meat to the bone), but the shank is easier to carve, I think. The butt has a couple of bone pieces that get in the way of carving after those first few slices. Now if you want the best, IMO, a whole ham that has both the butt and shank together is the best (they weigh about 18-20 lbs.) The reason I say this is when they cut hams into butts and shanks, a lot of times, a few center slices are removed that would be between butt and shank. Those center slices are the best -- meatiest, leanest, least bone. I used to find whole hams at our Safeway, but I haven't seen them in 2 or 3 years. they may still be out there, though.

    The spiral sliced is usually a shank ham that has been trimmed of excess exterior fat and machine-sliced about 1/2 to 2/3 of the ham. The slicing is done close to the bone so slices just fall off neatly. Besides being pre-sliced, I think the real advantage to the spiral-sliced is so much fat has been trimmed away, so you're getting more meat. When the price per pound for a spiral ham is only 10 to 20 cents more than a shank, I'll buy spiral. But when the price difference is 40 or 50 cents more per pound for spiral, I'll stick with the plain shank ham. The spiral sliced also come with a sugar or honey packet for glazing, but for an extra $5 total for the spiral, I think I can mix up my own spice and brown sugar glaze to put on a plain shank ham.

    I hope this info helps, Alice.

  14. I learned about the pre-cut cookies a few years ago from my SIL. Glad I remembered it for this event! And yes, in our area the box of 6 dozen cost me $10, which I felt was money well spent.

  15. Hi Lili,
    I have successfully used mini marshmallows in place of marshmallow cream in fudge. I weigh out the amount of marshmallows equivalent to the jar weight. (my recipe calls for a 7oz jar) A 16oz bag of WinCo brand minis are 95 cents right now, so that more than covers two batches of fudge. The fudge tastes equally delicious. I originally made this switch to cut down on plastic packaging, but it has cost benefits as well.

  16. Hi Mary,
    Thank you for this tip! Do you add anything or change a recipe in any other way when you sub mini marshmallows for marshmallow cream?

  17. Lili,
    I didn't change anything else, and I think it tastes the same!


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