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Thursday, March 10, 2022

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for Early March

So, here we are, the time in the season when I'm both scrounging in the freezer for remnant from last summer's garden and using up canned goods that I bought in fall. There's not a whole lot in the garden to harvest just yet. But what I can find, I use. Almost all of our meals were cooked at home this past week. My husband received a free lunch for a work Zoom meeting one day. The way they work it is they send him a voucher to use to have something delivered. He chose Taco Bell. The rest of us ate all of our meals cooked at home. When you eat your own cooking for long enough, you really do come to prefer it. I've reached the point where I'd really rather eat home-cooked meals than anything else. It helps tremendously that the other family members take a night per week, so I don't have to cook every night. 

My two favorite meals this week happen to be the two meals that I remembered to take pictures of. The pot roast dinner was so delicious. And of course, pizza is always a favorite for me.

Here's what we ate this week:

homemade pepperoni pizza, fig-applesauce, sautéed turnip greens and onions

I made a triple batch of pizza dough on Friday and froze two portions. To use, I thaw on the counter then press onto the baking sheet and allow to rise. Works great and I can throw together a pizza with less work on two of the three days. The fig-applesauce is more of my sweet, canned green (unripe) figs pureed (smoothie blender to the rescue) with some applesauce, ginger and cinnamon. 

homemade Mexican -- oven-fried tortilla strips, refried beans/salsa/cheese, carrot sticks, radish green and watercress salad

My husband made the Mexican this night. I buy large bags of corn tortillas, keep in the fridge, and use them over a two to three -month period. My husband made chips by brushing with oil and baking until crisp. I cook large pots of pinto beans and freeze the cooked beans in 1-qt containers for easy refritos with the help of a potato masher and some seasonings. Again more garden greens for a salad. We're able to have garden greens (indoor and outdoor ones) 4 or 5 days per week now, although we're currently limited to radish, watercress, turnip greens, and kale.

lentil and vegetable soup, cheese biscuits -- easy dinner for a Sunday evening.


pot roast and gravy, steamed carrots, brown rice, radish green and watercress salad, vanilla-rhubarb sauce

It had been a while since I'd cooked some beef. I found a small roast in the freezer and pot roasted it with lots of gravy, some onions, a bit of tomato paste, and dried garden herbs. It was delicious! I poured the gravy over the carrots, meat, and rice. I have just a small amount of rhubarb left in the freezer from last summer. Our garden rhubarb is about 1 month away from use. Time to use up all of the frozen stuff.

beef and vegetable soup (using leftover pot roast & gravy plus radish greens, canned carrots canned green beans, canned tomatoes, onions, garlic), scratch cornbread, rice pudding topped with raspberry jam

The soup was easy to make as well as tasty on a cold evening. I had about 1 cup of cooked rice leftover from the previous night. I baked a rice pudding (egg, milk, sugar, rice, salt, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon) in the oven with the cornbread. There was just enough for 4 servings. I topped each serving with a generous spoonful of homemade raspberry jam (last summer's garden berries).

tuna salad on bed of watercress, crackers, carrot sticks, tomato-macaroni-cheese bake

One of my daughters made dinner for us this night. We needed to have some tuna in our menus, so I suggested this to her. She's not a fan of tuna casserole, but does like tuna salad. So I picked some watercress to put scoops of the tuna. We both agreed that the dinner needed some more "heft," so she also made a tomato-mac-cheese bake.

hummus, freshly-baked French bread, radish green and red cabbage salad, carrot sticks, no-bake cookies

My other daughter made dinner this night. She loves making hummus, so I pulled a qt of cooked garbanzo beans out of the freezer for her. She also used lots of the frozen chives we still need to use up. (The chives in the garden are coming up now.) The no-bake cookies were my baked treat for this week. I don't know if there are variations on no-bake cookies. I made the butter-milk-sugar-cocoa powder-peanut butter-oats-vanilla ones. Always a hit! I hadn't made these in years. My family was pleased.

Breakfasts for the week included: homemade cinnamon rolls, toast, crockpot Cream of Wheat, crockpot steel cut oats, yogurt, orange juice, apples, bananas, raisins, blueberry muffins, eggs

One evening last week, I made a batch of roll dough and made overnight cinnamon rolls. Basically, I set the rolls in the pan, cover, and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, whoever gets up first pulls them out of the fridge and they rise enough to bake in about an hour to an hour and a half. Fresh-baked rolls in the morning. The leftovers made great snacks all week. I use my crockpot for both steel cut oats and Cream of Wheat for easy hot breakfasts. Despite having cinnamon rolls, blueberry muffins and hot cereal available, some family members still prefer a traditional breakfast of eggs and toast. So that's always available, but they have to make it themselves.

Lunches and snacks included: several soups made with the smoothie blender -- tomato soup (using canned tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock, seasonings pureed), carrot soup (canned carrots, chicken stock, onion powder, seasonings), broccoli soup (frozen broccoli, chicken stock, onion powder), various leftovers, toast, peanut butter sandwiches, cheese, apples, oranges, eggs, carrots, celery, cabbage, radishes, raisins, bananas, canned pineapple, popcorn, scratch brownies, cinnamon rolls, no-bake cookies, saltine crackers

So, that's what we ate this week. What was on your menu?


  1. Yum, your meals looked very hardy and filling.

    We have had more time for more thought out meals. Mom is stable but on a steady decline. That allows for shorter visits because she and dad can manage along with hospice staff for showers and other things better done by hospice.

    We had spaghetti, copycat KFC chicken, mashed potato bowls, tater tot casserole, cheese broccoli soup, taco soup, taco salad, 7 layer salad, fajitas and we even cooked a steak on the grill last Saturday because the temps were warm enough to do that.

    I've also been using a bit of sourdough starter for bread, pancakes, and thinking of waffles. I've had this starter for over 10 years which was first given to me as a Friendship Bread starter but I didn't care for sweet breads as often as that required so I slowly transformed it into a plain sourdough starter and it is very nice even now 10 years later!

    1. I've been wondering how your mom was doing. Tomorrow will be the one-year anniversary of my mom's death. It's a challenging time and still feels fresh in my mind, so I feel for where you are right now, Alice.

    2. Hi Alice,
      While it's good that your mom is more stable right now,, I also realize how difficult this period must be for you. Take care of yourself, too, during this time.

      Your meals sound tasty! And I'm so glad you have high enough temps to grill. This time of year, it can be hit or miss when it comes to having warm enough temps for grilling. I'm glad you and your husband had that. Hopefully, you'll have many more days like that soon.

      Great job on keeping your sourdough alive for so long. My starter from 2020 is in the fridge and I'm not sure if it's still viable. I should give it a try and see. Otherwise, I could use that jar and fridge space.

      Have a wonderful weekend, Alice!

  2. Your delicious and nutritious meals are inspiring because they all seem very doable. However, meals and food are a well-oiled machine in your house, and I realize that it took a lot of work to get to where you are today.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Nothing complicated about my cooking, that's for sure. Hmmm, if meals are a well-oiled machine, perhaps a good part of that is we repeat meals often. That means I find the shortcuts quickly and I ditch meals that don't work as well for us. I hope you're having some delicious meals at your end, despite the reno mess.

      Enjoy your weekend, Live and Learn!

  3. Sunday--son and I actually ate out! Went with my young adult group to a local Mexican restaurant. I greatly enjoyed my tamales. Husband and daughter ate dinner at youth group.
    Monday--husband's birthday-- cooked over rice, with fresh asparagus and a side of strawberries.
    Tuesday--my husband grilled ribs that I got on sale awhile back, along with grilled corn cakes and salad.
    Wednesday--Italian vegetable soup with ground venison, pane veloce veloce (quick quick bread).
    Thursday--egg/cheese/sausage breakfast casserole topped with cream biscuits. I added thawed frozen strawberries to make me feel better about the fruit/veggie thing.
    Friday--I plan to broil hamburgers for dinner. I think it's too cold to grill today.

    Lili, I definitely find that when I eat out, I greatly prefer to go to a restaurant which serves food that I don't cook (tamales ... ) or that they can cook better than I can. That being said, I do sometimes enjoy the experience of being waited on (and cleaned up after).

    1. Hi Kris,
      Your family grilled this week, too! (see Alice above) That's a good sign, some nice weather here and there and soon spring will really be upon us.

      I agree with you on eating out. I try to find something that I don't make, don't have ingredients for, or is difficult to make. Although I rarely eat these any more, fast food French fries are far better than homemade ones, ditto onion rings. I am tempted toward those from time to time. And I love, love, love tamales. I made some for the first time this past fall and couldn't get enough. I will definitely be using the corn husks again for tamales at home. I think I enjoy eating out more when we're on vacation. I've done my share of motel cooking and vastly prefer to dine in a restaurant than to try to use a motel microwave to make dinners.

      Have a wonderful weekend, Kris!

  4. Lili, your menus and pictures are always so appetizing! I very much appreciate you sharing. Gives me inspiration!
    I agree, I much prefer my cooking mostly over eating in a restaurant.... especially fast food. What I consider a very huge treat is when someone else invites us to eat in their home and actually cook for us. What an act of love! I think you could give a dozen people the same ingredients and the end result would be a little different from each as we all have little ways we do things differently. Alas, with Covid,this sharing if meals has been very sparse. Hopefully, we are nearing a more normal time for this.
    If we do est out, I still prefer something I tend to refer to as Home Cooking. Not lots of processed stuff or something that was prefab and zapped in the restaurant microwave and then served to me. I also prefer to patronize a small and local place to support with my money if we do decide to get a meal out.
    It is so rewarding to look in the pantry, trig, freezer and come up with something delish! You motivate us to keep doing this!
    This week we've had white Chicken chili, pork chops, potato soup, burgoo and jambalaya. Not sure what's on for this coming week.

  5. Hi Linda,
    Your meals sound delicious. I had to look up burgoo. I don't think I've ever heard of that dish before. Thanks for sharing your meals. I always get inspiration from you friends, too.

    Do you know what was a real eye-opener for me? When I began shopping at a restaurant supply, I noticed just how many pre-made meals or meal components were sold to restaurants, so they just had to heat and serve, or mix with a couple of other simple ingredients and make it seem like the restaurant cooked it all, making so much of restaurant food taste rather homogenous. I prefer small, local places, too. The cooking is often more unique, and I like that I'm putting money back into the community.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Linda.


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