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February Pantry Challenge... - Page 10

post #181 of 230
Freezer-burned tortellini and leftover pasta sauce (spaghetti sauce with ground bison, peppers and onions) from last week.

Dh is out tonight so I don't have to cook! Woohoo! So, how'd so many dishes get in my sink?? How does that happen??!!
post #182 of 230
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melis
Hello
Great ideas on the lunches I've got a tough situation going on here. I'm trying to eat mostly organic AND become more frugal! What a joke...so anyway...I'm trying NOT to buy lunch meat, which is really what I've relied on for all of our lunches forever. It's so expensive at $7.99/lb for the healthiest choices of lunchmeat around here.
Melissa
I know what you mean about the lunch meat. But DH who is normally not that picky, MUSt have it. And sometimes it is the only meat DS will eat all day. I get the good stuff too, and it does add up.

I also know what you mean about trying to eat organic and be frugal. It really doesn't work out too well in terms of spending, oh, less than $100 a week here! If you want fresh fruit and veg, and organic meats!

I live in New England where stuff is very expensive, that's part of the problem. Esp. in the winter--there are no farmers markets and even buying seasonal produce can be quite pricey. And I'm not happy eating bulghur and root vegetables every night. I need some new ideas I guess..
post #183 of 230
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainbowbird
I also know what you mean about trying to eat organic and be frugal. It really doesn't work out too well in terms of spending, oh, less than $100 a week here! If you want fresh fruit and veg, and organic meats!

I live in New England where stuff is very expensive, that's part of the problem. Esp. in the winter--there are no farmers markets and even buying seasonal produce can be quite pricey. And I'm not happy eating bulghur and root vegetables every night. I need some new ideas I guess..
Oh, I second this! So glad it's not just us We live in NE VT and the ONLY good place to buy organic produce is the Shaw's in Littleton, NH. There's 1 co-op & 1 natural foods store I use to round out our shopping, but I'd kill for a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's...
post #184 of 230
I have firm tofu that's about to go bad. Need Ideas???

BTW - I have no more ready made marinades (teriyaki, tamari, etc) so I would need a homemade one. Thx
post #185 of 230
mamas, you've inspired me. tonight we're doing breaded fish from the freezer and two pantry-clearing recipes: cheesy potato skins and up-side-down veggie casserole. has anyone posted these yet? i think i got the casserole recipe from mdc, but i could re-post if anybody wants them...

feels so frugal to clean out the fridge before our weekend shopping trip, sort of like clearing the boards for a brand new week. if only i could inspire someone else to actually *clean* the fridge, then we'd really be set...
post #186 of 230
late-night nan - I would love those recipes if you please
Nu Mommy - If I've got tofu that's about to go off, I stick it in the freezer and then I've got it for when I want to do a scramble or sloppy joes.
Doing pretty well with this, we've all been rotating a cold, so no one's been too hungry around here lately. I used my leftover wild rice, bulgur, and veg pilaf in some soup (added chx for dc and dh) for dinner last night. Don't know what it'll be tonight....
post #187 of 230
Tonight we cheated and dh picked up sanwiches from Central Market. :
post #188 of 230
Quote:
Originally Posted by janerose
Oh, I second this! So glad it's not just us We live in NE VT and the ONLY good place to buy organic produce is the Shaw's in Littleton, NH. There's 1 co-op & 1 natural foods store I use to round out our shopping, but I'd kill for a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's...
Yeah, it's rough. And I have really got to buckle down and find a way to pare the grocery bill even more. DH just informed me that our basement remodeling project is adding up and if I can cut costs in anyway it would help. He never bothers me about money so if he says anything to me it makes me nervous! I'm willing to eat bulghur and root veggies to remain at home with my son!

I haven't done too well this month. Well, I haven't really tried too hard, either. But starting next week I am going to attempt to keep the grocery bill to $80. I have been averaging $100-130. If I really try to use up stuff I could probably spend much less for the next couple of weeks (which I realize is what this thread is all about.)

It's just very frustrating because I feel a lot of the money goes to very healthy things like fresh fruit, veggies, etc. I did tell DH I am not going to buy anymore crackers or chips at all (I've been buying organic brands). I guess DS can have Cheerios or I can make something homemade for him to take for snacks to playgroups, etc.

We are also spending about $80 a month on milk from the local dairy that is hormone and antibiotic free. I could cancel that and buy store brand milk, I suppose. Kind of hate to do it though.

Sigh. I am feeling a little depressed about all this tonight. Major sigh!
post #189 of 230
Rainbow- is there an organic kind of milk available elsewhere? I found the Trader joe organic much cheaper than our local dairy. It did help the owner of the dairy ran for a senator position and we found out what a bigot he was. But thats another story. Its a shame, he kept raising the price of his milk no doubt to pay his campaign. But TJ's to the rescue.

Also, try stretching out your visits to the grocery. You'll find you will use things up in your house first, which is the whole idea of the pantry challenge.
Once you start doing it, you can get to the grocery store in a day or two later and not have a problem!

BTW- whoever wanted to inspire to clean the fridge- it worked!
post #190 of 230
Here are the recipes I mentioned earlier
Cheesy Potato Skins
Ingredients
5 large russet potatoes
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes. With a paring knife, remove skin and about 1/8 inch of the flesh in long 1- to 2-inch-wide strips. (Reserve peeled potatoes for another use.)
2. Toss potato skins with oil, paprika, salt and cayenne. Place in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet; sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until tender and golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

Vegetable Upside-Down Casserole
By Nava Atlas
3 to 4 cups cut-up vegetables of your choice
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup wheat germ
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup low-fat yogurt or soy yogurt
¾ cup low-fat milk, rice milk or soy milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup grated cheese or non-dairy cheese of your choice, optional
1. Saute the vegetables in olive oil until just tender. Set aside.

2. Preheat the over to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil and shallow, round two-quart casserole or a 9”x13” baking pan.

3. Combine the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yogurt, milk and vegetable oil. Stir together until well mixed.

4. Pour the vegetables into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the cheese, if using, then pour the batter evenly over the vegetables, gently smoothing it out with a spatula.

5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is golden and firm. Let stand for about 10 minutes, then cut into wedges or squares to serve.
Makes four to six servings.
Variations
Here are some combimations my family likes. Use your own mix or keep it simple and use just one vegetable. As a rule of thumb, use 3 to 4 cups of vegetables (with the exception of tiny veggies like corn and peas, which have more density) and sauté in a wide skillet until just tender. If using onions, sauté until golden before adding other vegetables.
Corn, tomato and scallion Saute 2 to 2-1/2 cups cooked fresh corn or frozen corn kernels, thawed; 2 medium tomatoes, diced; and 1 to 2 scallions, sliced thinly, in a little olive oil, just until the tomato has softened slightly. If you’d like, add one 4-ounce can chopped milk green chilies.
Broccoli and onion Saute 1 medium-large onion, quartered and sliced thinly, in a small amount of olive oil until golden. Add 4 cups bite-size broccoli florets and a bit of water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is just beyond tender-crisp. Drain off any liquid.
Squash and spinach Saute 1 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, cut lengthwise and sliced thinly into half-circles, and 1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced (optional), in a little olive oil until just tender. Add 8 to 10 ounces chopped fresh spinach leaves. Cover and cook just until the spinach wilts, about 1 minute. If desired, add a small quantity of chopped fresh herbs.
Other sautéed vegetables that work well are mushrooms, carrots, peas and cauliflower. See what’s in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator and have fun!
post #191 of 230
One more recipe for tofu, whether firm or medium. This one is my own. I'll call it
"Korean Pan-fried Dubu (Tofu) Squares"
This is a simple but very yummy and fortifying dish. Best to use fresh tofu because this is not a dish that covers up the taste in a heavy sauce, it just accents the tofu with a light sauce. One tip is that if you keep replacing the water that the tofu is stored in every day or so, you can keep it fresh for a long time.

Drain dubu and cut into 2" squares, 1/4-1/2 in thick. Set these on a clean dishcloth or paper towel and let dry.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce:
2-3T soy sauce (start with 2T and add more at the end if needed)
1T good-quality sesame oil (use Korean or Japanese oil, not Western brands which have a different taste; you can find at any asian grocery store and most natural food stores)
2 scallions, white and green parts trimmed and minced
1 clove garlic, minced finely
2t toasted sesame seeds (if you have raw sesame seeds, toast these by heating and stirring in a dry frying pan, not a oven or toaster oven)
Black pepper to taste
1T mirin rice wine for cooking (optional)
A little sugar to taste (optional)

Mix all ingredients well in small bowl or ramekin. (I'm guessing the proportions from memory because I just make this by intuition, so after mixing everything together, you can add more of the soy sauce, sesame oil and/or mirin to suit your tastes.)

If dubu is still a little damp, pat each square dry. In a frying pan, heat about 1T of peanut oil over med-high heat until a drop of water sizzles in the pan. Place the squares and cook each side until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes or more. The "browned" dubu will actually look closer to yellow. Be careful when flipping over and try not to break the crust or damage the squares. It's easiest to do this in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or other nonstick equivalent, but otherwise, you might want to use a little more oil. Drain the browned squares on dry cloth or new paper towel.

Set these on a serving dish in a single layer (not piled up unevenly), then spoon about a teaspoon of the sauce/scallion mixture in the middle of each square. The sauce will drizzle over the edges. If you want to garnish, you can add a little more minced scallions and/or sesame seeds on top. Voila!

Serve with rice and a green veggie dish that complements Asian food. Bon appetit!
post #192 of 230
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amys1st
BTW- whoever wanted to inspire to clean the fridge- it worked!
Oh, I meant I was looking for someone to clean *my* fridge! :LOL

If you're on a roll, you're welcome to come over anytime!!
post #193 of 230
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amys1st
Rainbow- is there an organic kind of milk available elsewhere? I found the Trader joe organic much cheaper than our local dairy. It did help the owner of the dairy ran for a senator position and we found out what a bigot he was. But thats another story. Its a shame, he kept raising the price of his milk no doubt to pay his campaign. But TJ's to the rescue.

Also, try stretching out your visits to the grocery. You'll find you will use things up in your house first, which is the whole idea of the pantry challenge.
Once you start doing it, you can get to the grocery store in a day or two later and not have a problem!

BTW- whoever wanted to inspire to clean the fridge- it worked!
I can try seeing what the local grocery has on sale for organic milk. We drink ALOT Of milk--DS goes through 1 1/2 gallons a week and DH and I drink about 2 gallons of skim! Stop and Shop recently introduced their own organic store brand "Nature's Promise" and the other products are pretty reasonable so maybe the milk is, too.

I think I will start shopping every two weeks again either thru Peapod or going to the store myself. Then run out for produce etc. on off weeks. Goal is to spend no more than $250 total monthly.Asked DH to please be more flexible when we run out of something. For example if we are out of lunch meat or his cereal he hates substitutions! And doesn't want to wait a day or two if it's almost time to shop again.

I KNOW I can do this if I put my mind to it. Thanks for your ideas and support!
post #194 of 230
I had a great dinner last night: Moroccan Stew in a crockpot. I used all stuff I had on hand (like the baby carrots no one eats and half a can of diced tomatoes sitting in the fridge). I was so proud of myself and it was delicious. Here's the recipe:

Moroccan Slow Cooker Stew

Servings | 6
Preparation Time | 15 min
Cooking Time | 365 min
Level of Difficulty | Easy

Though delicious on its own, our cumin-scented stew can
also please heartier appetites when spooned over couscous and sprinkled
with minced cilantro.

Ingredients

1 small onion(s), chopped
1 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup carrot(s), baby
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
15 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp table salt

Coat a small skillet with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; sauté
for 5 minutes. ( I didn't bother doing this step- I just added these ingr to the pot with everything else)

Place squash in a 3-quart or larger slow cooker (crockpot). Add
sauteed onion and garlic, carrots, tomatoes, broth, cinnamon, cumin and
red pepper flakes. Cover and turn on to low heat; simmer for 6 hours.

Add chickpeas and salt. Stir, cover and heat for an additional 5
minutes. Yields about 1 1/3 cups per serving.
post #195 of 230

milk prices

Well, I researched milk prices today since we are spending about $80 a month on it from our local dairy. That's 17.5 gallons of milk, some whole and some skim, plus 5 qts. of half and half. That's a lotta milk...

Anyway, this milk from the local dairy is antibioitic and hormone free. And I like supporting a local farmer. They deliver it on Mon. mornings in this cute little 1950s style truck. I like seeing the cows on the farm when we drive by. I like knowing where our milk comes from!

But it's pricey, or so it seems. However, I went online to Stop and Shop today where I do most of my shopping and their store brand of milk is only .65 cents less per gallon than the dairy. And it's not hormone or antibiotic free.

So we are only spending a total of 11.37 more per month on the local dairy,, which seems worth it to me.

That is not to say that I couldn't find store brand milk on sale for less sometimes....and I did check into organic milk and it is prohibitively expensive around here. Like 4.89 per half gallon! That's almost $10 a gallon!!! Buying it would almost double our milk bill. So that's out.

I think we WiLL try to cut down milk consumption, though. Maybe DH and I can try drinking a little less than we do. I don't want to limit DS yet as he is only 2.

The next place I am going to try to cut costs is meat---try using less like another PP mentioned...and buying organic only when it really is warranted. No more organic bananas although I swear they are better than the conventional ones!

Thanks for reading if you made it this far! And if you have any other thoughts on shaving that grocery bill, please share!
post #196 of 230


Ok, I am just starting to think about organic milk and produce because dd will be starting solids in the next few months. Can someone point me in the right driection of understanding why organic is important and what produce really needs to be organic and what doesn't (in reference to pp only buying organic when necessary). I know this isn't the right forum, but I don't even know where to start?!

Also, what's the difference between raw milk and organic milk?

TIA!
post #197 of 230
Quote:
Originally Posted by leomom


Ok, I am just starting to think about organic milk and produce because dd will be starting solids in the next few months. Can someone point me in the right driection of understanding why organic is important and what produce really needs to be organic and what doesn't (in reference to pp only buying organic when necessary). I know this isn't the right forum, but I don't even know where to start?!

Also, what's the difference between raw milk and organic milk?

TIA!
OK, I'm getting tired so I have to keep this short, but I'll try to answer your question at least a little.

Raw milk is unpasteurized milk in its natural state. It's not necessarily organic milk.

Organic milk from the store is from cows that are fed pesticide-free grasses and foods. It's likely hormone and antibiotic-free, too. Organic milk from the store is pasteurized (heated to kill any potentially harmful bacteria.)

I personally prefer pasteurized milk (ours is not organic but is antibiotic and hormone free)....people used to die from unpasteurized milk that can contain harmful organisms..if you buy unpasteurized be really familar with your seller and be able to trust them! Some say it is healthier but I'd rather not risk it.

As for produce, there are lists avail. on the internet regarding the top 10 or 20 fruits and veggies to avoid if not organic. Things with thick skins are usually safer if not organic b/c the pesticide residues are not as likely to penetrate to the fruit. Things like peppers and berries tend to contain more pesticides so I try to buy those organic. Sorry I don't have a link to the list right now but you can google it or find it here at MDC.

And now I think I am finally ready to return to bed...good luck....maybe some others can help.
post #198 of 230
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainbowbird
Well, I researched milk prices today since we are spending about $80 a month on it from our local dairy. That's 17.5 gallons of milk, some whole and some skim, plus 5 qts. of half and half. That's a lotta milk...

Anyway, this milk from the local dairy is antibioitic and hormone free. And I like supporting a local farmer. They deliver it on Mon. mornings in this cute little 1950s style truck. I like seeing the cows on the farm when we drive by. I like knowing where our milk comes from!
do. I don't want to limit DS yet as he is only 2.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far! And if you have any other thoughts on shaving that grocery bill, please share!
Okay, I agree- stick to the local guy for milk. Do the next best thing. Cut down on milk consumption.

DD is close to 3 and loves milk. We have starting letting her have only after she eats something first. We were finding her drinking milk a lot and filling up on it. Now its after a meal or snack. Her consumption has gone down a lot as well as any bad moods or crabbiness or tantrums. Its helped a lot too on having more and not needing to buy more. Do it as a family and you will see results.

This week is freezer week. We have a busy week (DH busy at the office) as well as activities going on. Tomorrow its a lasagna from the freezer, then also this week swedish meatballs from the freezer, and leftovers at least one day as well as for lunch.
Tonight we made tacos so that will be lunch at least twice this week. Also I have pulled pork from the freezer we ate for lunches this weekend and will do this week. Then next week we feed the freezer again!
post #199 of 230
Thanks, Rainbowbird. I really appreciate your help!

Tonight I followed Jennisee's advice. We had a very cretive meal:

In a pie plate, I crushed cheetoes and stuffing mix and made a crust, topped it with a frozen veggie mix, cooked shredded chicken, and (since I had no gravy) roasted garlic potato soup. I skipped the cheese b/c dh won't eat it. It turned out pretty well! Thanks! Still have some cheetoes, so next week I'm gonna try breading some chicken with it!
post #200 of 230
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainbowbird
As for produce, there are lists avail. on the internet regarding the top 10 or 20 fruits and veggies to avoid if not organic. Things with thick skins are usually safer if not organic b/c the pesticide residues are not as likely to penetrate to the fruit. Things like peppers and berries tend to contain more pesticides so I try to buy those organic. Sorry I don't have a link to the list right now but you can google it or find it here at MDC.
For anyone who's interested, I found a list:

Strawberries
Bell Peppers (tie)
Spinach (tie)
Cherries (USA)
Peaches
Cantaloupe (Mexico)
Celery
Apples
Apricots
Green Beans
Grapes (Chile)
Cucumbers

Listed in order of importance...
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