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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for Mid-May


pepperoni pizza, carrot soup made from canned carrots, frozen broccoli cuts mixed with florets, brownies

spaghetti and TVP marinara, canned green beans, brownies

peanut sauce over rice, canned carrots


roast chicken, brown rice, gravy, asparagus, brownies


leftover chicken in gravy over mashed potatoes, asparagus, rhubarb sauce

chicken pot pie (scratch crust, chicken meat, gravy, frozen mixed vegetables), apple wedges, brownies from the freezer

spaghetti and meat sauce, frozen peas, pumpkin-spice cookies

Was I spoiled by my daughters' cooking for April? Have I found ways to treat myself to more time off from cooking? What I've been doing for the last 2 weeks (first week of May I was on the road) is doubling or tripling the main dishes and freezing the leftovers. Some examples: I made taco meat and refried beans X 2, chicken breast in marinara sauce X 2, pepperoni pizza from scratch X 2, meat spaghetti sauce X 2, roasted whole chicken, yielding 4+ meals, freezing 1 large portion of roasted chicken and some chicken meat in stock for two future meals. I also made a large batch of hummus and froze part for another meal or snack and a double batch of scratch brownies (some for last week and some for the freezer). For now, I'm focusing on the mains. Most side dishes are fairly simple in my house. If I do make something more complex, I'll try to remember to double or triple the batch to freeze for a future meal. One thing that has become clear, though, is that I need better organization for my freezer, so that I can actually find these future meals. 

A couple of things that I'll mention about Friday's dinner -- the carrot soup was made with 1 can of carrots plus water, pureed in the smoothie maker, flavored with onion powder and chicken bouillon, then heated in cups in the microwave. It was very tasty, quick and easy, and a different way to serve canned carrots. The frozen broccoli was a mix of broccoli cuts (which are inexpensive, often have a lot of stem pieces) and broccoli florets (more expensive and only the florets). I mix some from each bag, about half cuts/half florets. It's my way of stretching the more expensive florets for my family.

Before I steamed the asparagus, I snapped off the tough, white ends. I saved these in a container in the fridge to deal with for tonight's dinner. I'll peel the tough ends, chop, then steam them to add to other vegetables in a stir fry. In the past, I've also peeled then added these asparagus bits to soups and casseroles.

The chicken dinners on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday came from the marked down whole chicken I bought at Fred Meyer on Monday. After pulling most of the meat off the chicken (and freezing a large portion), I simmered the carcass in the crockpot overnight. My daughter picked the remaining meat off the bones for me. I then simmered those bones, skin, and fat for a second time. The second run broth is not as rich as first run stock, but it does have flavor and I'm assuming nutrients. I froze this stock in quart and pint containers to use in making soups, stews, casseroles, or for cooking rice in coming weeks.

That's what we cooked this week. What was on your menu?


  1. I work full time and my husband is semi-retired so we often will make a double recipe of our meals and freeze part of it for future meals. Organizing the freezer is an ongoing chore for us. This week we pulled out spaghetti sauce from the freezer (one of our favorite meals), bone-in chicken breast with salad, Sloppy Joes over toasted homemade bread and salad, and leftover ham from the freezer with steamed cabbage. I often will wash and tear salad greens like Romaine to make it easy for salads.

    1. Hi Nana D,
      Prepping your salad greens not only saves time on weekdays, but I think it's also a great way to make sure you use them before they rot. Good job!
      Your meals sounds delicious. I would be more than happy with any of them.
      Have a great day, Nana D!

  2. Lili, you never cease to amaze me with your industrious pursuit of wonderful nmeals while stretching your budget. You do such a great job and are an inspiration. This week we had a belated celebration meal out but watched what we ordered and still had a great meal. Ate the lunch meal out as it is much more economical. Also had lunch with two friends and kinda did the same thing. Other meals at home consisted of pork loin bought on sale...two meals, froze rest for later. Ham and beans....ham bought on sale for 87 cents for pound....and being stretched to many meals. Pork burgers on the grill. Homemade brats with our own kraut. Biscuits and gravy. That's all I recall. A side salad many meals. Our own asparagus. Green beans and mixed veg. I did make an icebox pie for when our grandson visited.

    1. Hi Linda,
      We've done that, too -- eaten lunch out instead of dinner. A couple of years ago, my family was celebrating two birthdays together. We chose a weekday lunch time, as a restaurant for which we had a gift card had a weekday lunch special going. All 6 of us were able to eat out reasonably because of the time of day and the day of the week that we chose.
      Your ham was a bargain at 87 cents/pound! Your own asparagus -- I'm envious. I'm not sure what has gone wrong in the past, but I've never been able to successfully grow asparagus. I may try again sometime. Do you have any growing tips?

      Have a great day, Linda!

    2. When you plant your asparagus, be sure to not harvest any for a couple years. It will get established that way. Also, the first few years dint over harvest...leaves lots to reseed itself.

  3. I should remember to write this stuff down since I cannot remember what we eat in a week! I'll try. We had a tortellini bake with alfredo sauce and spaghetti sauce with sausage and mozzarella cheese. It made a huge batch so I froze half and we ate the other half. It was really good. Roasted sliced pork steak with mashed potatoes/kale mixed together. Ground beef and elbow macaroni mixed together. Oh, and 96 cinnamon rolls that I froze all but 4 of them. We ate those and they were delicious! We had cleaned out dad's refrigerator and freezer and found some frozen bake and serve sugar cookies so I made those this week too. That is all we had this week.


    1. Yum! Your meals sound delicious! In the tortellini bake, was the Alfredo and sausage spaghetti sauce layered in the same dish? It sounds like it would be really good.
      I'm glad that you were able to use the frozen cookie dough from your dad's house. I came across the very old frozen cookie dough that I'm wondering if it's still any good. I may have to try baking a few cookies to see.

      Have a great day, Alice!

  4. It's always great when you can go to the freezer and pull something out for dinner that only needs reheating. I think we've used up most everything we had like that, but when our kitchen remodel is finally done, it will be time to stock up again.

    1. Soon enough you'll be able to fill your freezer again. It really is a boon to have some extra meals in the freezer. I never know when a project will take me longer than I'd planned or I'll wear myself out so much so that I really don't feel like cooking dinner. Wishing your remodel a speedy conclusion!
      Have a great day, Live and Learn!

  5. I'm sure you will appreciate your frozen meals! It's so nice to have easy backup food items.

    Monday we had Greek chicken on naan--it's one of those meals that requires multiple steps, especially if you make your own naan, so I only make it when I have extra time at home. Tuesday we had smoked sausage and white bean chowder. We had been gifted a homemade loaf of sourdough bread so we were able to eat that with the soup--yum! Wednesday I worked so my son made spaghetti and salad, yesterday I made cheeseburger pie from a Bisquick recipe, and I worked today so my husband is making dinner. We are finally getting a little bit of rhubarb so I made rhubarb tea bread for us to enjoy for dessert this weekend.

    1. Hi Kris,
      It must be nice having your son home again. And especially nice that he can practice cooking skills this summer. Those skills will go a long way toward personal self-sufficiency in his future years. I taught my son to cook as a child, but I didn't follow up when he was a teen. I'm glad you're doing better than I did with that.
      Rhubarb tea bread sounds delicious. Is there a recipe link you can provide for that? Our rhubarb is just now getting big. I'd been picking shorter stalks until now. All of the rain we had really helped the plants.
      Have a great day, Kris!

  6. We were out shopping several days this week, Monday, Wednesday and today, so ate takeout meals and didn't cook those days. On Friday, prepared Chile Relleno (Costco clearance $6.97 for 5 chiles), homemade Spanish rice, deep fried tofu, zucchini and eggplant. On Thursday, prepared Bolognese pasta (Costco clearance .87), collard greens namul (salad). On Tuesday, I can't remember for sure, probably a rice paper wrap meal. I didn't cook at all this week. Days seem to be going by quicker the older we are. I find myself feeling very fortunate that we can still walk and shop for ourselves. I know one day, maybe 10 years from now it will be harder. My father gave up driving in his 70s. My husband will be 70 in a few months. So we cherish being mobile and don't mind going out whenever we feel a bit cabin fever. I recently read an article that mentioned the 70/40 rule about having that chat with your children about how we plan to live out our years, when we hit 70 or our children 40. The reason is financial planning for parent care, but it does remind me that we're entering the final phase of our lives. Sorry for being melancholy but it does put in perspective how we should spend our time now.

    Hope you are having a nice weekend,

    1. Hi Laura,
      Your comment made me think about something. There must be a "seniors" driving class that could help us with driving skills as we get older. In fact, there must be all kinds of classes that could help us stay active longer in life. Anyways, even if we are later in years, there is still so much life to live. My father-in-law passed away at age 97. In his retirement years, he continued to write books in his field. At the time of his passing, he had a book in mind he wanted to write if God gave him another year. Although I say there's still so much life to live, I do think we have to work around some limitations or do things to refresh our minds and bodies in order to improve our capabilities in later years.
      With the collard namul, do you serve that warm or chilled? I saw some recipes for various namul dishes. Some looked like cooked dishes and others looked uncooked. We have a lot of leafy greens in our garden, and I'm always looking for new ways to serve them. Any tips would be helpful.
      Have a great day, Laura!

    2. Despite aging issues, we must remember to enjoy the time we have now everyday, and the goal is to have a good long life. It's been said, the goal is to be in good health as long as possible and die suddenly. Your father in law was fortunate to have this and is an inspiration. Hopefully, whether genetics and/or environment, your husband will follow his father's footstep.

      I don't have a namul recipe that my husband uses to make collard greens namul, but basically it is a Korean vegetable side dish. The collard greens were harvested over a year ago, washed, blanched and frozen. He simply defrosts a batch, squeezes the liquid out and prepares the sauce that is mixed into the vegetable. The sauce is soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic, green onion, and red pepper. Generally, the namul is blanched vegetables. Koreans hardly eat fresh vegetables, mostly preserved which is why their incidence of stomach cancer is one of the highest. We are not preserving the vegetables in namul so must be eaten immediately within a few days.

      Have a wonderful day,

    3. As for warm or cold, the namul is served cold or room temperature. It would be interesting to serve the sauce on fresh vegetables, have never seen or tried it. It would he a fusion style dish, not traditional, I think. I'm not knowledgeable about Korean cooking, except what we've been eating locally.


  7. Lili, AAA and AARP both offer options for refreshing driving skills for senior citizens. Also, some OTs (not me!) specialize in driving rehab for people who have undergone illness or injury which affects their driving skills. Sometimes it means people can't drive again but often retraining can occur.


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