September Home Cooking Challenge - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 160 Old 08-25-2010, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have GOT to get my spending back on track, so I've decided to start with the grocery budget. (Last year was rough for me, emotionally, and I lost my cooking mojo - much to the delight of the pizza delivery guy and the chagrin of my chequebook!)

I am back in the saddle, though, and starting in September, I have goaled myself to cook EVERY meal at home AND stay within my $475 monthly grocery budget (feeding 1 adult, 4 teenage boys and 1 tween girl).

Anyone care to join me?

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#2 of 160 Old 08-25-2010, 03:03 PM
 
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Sure, I love these threads!

We need to use up what we've got in the house more than save money (although that's always good too!).

I just looked at our spending and we're averaging $375 a month. I'd definitely like to keep it around that or lower. We will have a big butcher bill in the next few weeks, but we're hoping to sell part of the meat to help off set that cost.
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#3 of 160 Old 08-25-2010, 03:32 PM
 
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subbing, although never a problem for me to cook at home each and everyday, I love to see what others come up with to serve.

We are averaging about $550 a month in groceries, including factoring in our meat/pork purchase this year. I would like to get that back to about $500 or less. We were at $485 for a while.

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#4 of 160 Old 08-25-2010, 03:33 PM
 
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I am in! I am trying to cook all meals at home and stick to our 425.00 monthly budget!

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#5 of 160 Old 08-25-2010, 05:50 PM
 
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Its been HOT here and cooking at home has not been happening as much as it should be. I need to get back into the pantry challenge and cook at home more. There is no reason I can not do simple things like sandwiches and microwave meals.

My sons new favorite quick dinner is 'french bread pizza'

loaf of french bread from the store $1 (sliced in 1/2 long ways)
1/2 jar pizza sauce
1 bag shredded cheeze
3 mushrooms chopped
pepperoni

total cost under $4 for 2 people plus left over for snacks!
cook on 350 until 'done'

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#6 of 160 Old 08-26-2010, 12:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been feeding the freezer so that I have a cushion against those "it's been a long day and I don't feel like cooking" moments.

So far I have:

2 batches turkey enchiladas*
1 batch curry sauce
2 batches black bean soup
1 veggie lasagna
1 batch cooked black beans (throw 1/4 cup between 2 tortillas with some cheese, bake for 5 minutes at 250 degrees, repeat as needed - depending on how many people are eating, serve with salsa, guacamole and salad - presto! dinner. )


I am planning to cook this week end:

1 batch vegetable stock (from all the vegetable parings I've been saving in the freezer)
1 batch lentil sloppy joes
1 BIG batch chili (leftovers make fantastic burrito filling)
1 batch turkey soup with rice*
1 batch roasted sweet potato corn chowder
1 batch split pea soup
1 batch cooked baby lima beans (I add a cup or 2 to vegetable soup.)
2 apple Bundt cakes
2 batches zucchini bread
2 batches orange poppyseed scones
3 batches molasses cookys
2 batches oatmeal raisen cookys

SOOOOO, even when I don't feel like cooking, I can still keep to the challenge.

ETA: Turkey* is leftover from Thanksgiving and frozen. Usually, we're vegetarian bordering on vegan, but I make an exception for holidays, and it sometimes takes me awhile to use up the leftovers.

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#7 of 160 Old 08-26-2010, 02:05 PM
 
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YES! I'm in! I started 2 new part time jobs mostly working over dinners so I really need to start planning so I'm not eating junky take out at work, spending a fortune!

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#8 of 160 Old 08-26-2010, 02:51 PM
 
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I'm in! I love to cook at home... we only ever eat out once a month but I've noticed I've been buying too many "quick meals" lately instead of from scratch meals and I want to get back to the hearty, healthy meals I made last year. I have been stockpiling from my garden and just did a TON of canning from apples I got from a woman offering her apple harvest on freecycle which was AWESOME. I'm hoping to get some of my sister's sauce tomatoes from her garden since I didn't grow any to make plenty of sauce to last through the winter. I need to get busy harvesting and freezing herbs and peppers as well. I'm also not buying anything that contains high fructose corn syrup in it anymore so that definitely requires a lot more home cooking. It's crazy how many things have HFCS in it! Things you totally wouldn't expect!

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#9 of 160 Old 08-26-2010, 03:09 PM
 
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I'm in! I love to cook at home... we only ever eat out once a month but I've noticed I've been buying too many "quick meals" lately instead of from scratch meals and I want to get back to the hearty, healthy meals I made last year. I have been stockpiling from my garden and just did a TON of canning from apples I got from a woman offering her apple harvest on freecycle which was AWESOME. I'm hoping to get some of my sister's sauce tomatoes from her garden since I didn't grow any to make plenty of sauce to last through the winter. I need to get busy harvesting and freezing herbs and peppers as well. I'm also not buying anything that contains high fructose corn syrup in it anymore so that definitely requires a lot more home cooking. It's crazy how many things have HFCS in it! Things you totally wouldn't expect!
It's sickening isn't it? I was so happy the other day to find ketchup that didn't have HFCS in it and was much cheaper than any other brand. So of course, I stocked up!
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#10 of 160 Old 08-26-2010, 07:27 PM
 
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We're in, as always.

tonight I am making gazpacho with all the garden cukes and tomatoes, with polenta, veggies, and beans.

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#11 of 160 Old 08-26-2010, 08:06 PM
 
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subbing.

I don't know how much we spend on groceries (head in bag). I stopped trying after our baby with 20 plus allergies started eating. It was just too overwhelming.
He is four now, and he is not the only one with a restricted diet, but I am ready to figure out how much I'm spending, prioritize what is important to put my money towards, and see what we can cut.

Due to allergies, buying prepared outside of the house is almost non-existent (except for the super cheap local Chinese Hot Pot Place)

It is time for me to feel more accountable.

Children deserve the respect of puzzling it out.
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#12 of 160 Old 08-26-2010, 10:19 PM
 
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Sounds good!! I especially like the sounds of the french bread pizza.. maybe I'll try that tommorrow night

I love to cook, and usually do so 4-6x a week.. we eat leftovers at least once a week and tend to average 1 night a week of take out or frozen pizza or eating out, though less as DH gets back into school here and we simply don't have the time (between 2-3 12 hour shifts and 20 hours in school plus homework, plus going on any runs with the volunteer ems squad he runs with...theres just not much time left for having fun/going out, yk?).

Tonight I just did venison stir fry, which was really yummy, and actually something I hadn't made in a while. Tommorrow IDK what I'm doing as DH won't be around... like I said, maybe I'll try that french bread pizza
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#13 of 160 Old 08-26-2010, 11:25 PM
 
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I'd love to join!

I do love cooking, but I am soooo stuck in a rut with the same ol' stand-by recipes.

So, once the kiddos get back in school next week, I plan to spend some time at the library checking out the cookbook section. Hopefully, I'll be inspired to try some new dishes, which should delight my family!

Great thread!
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#14 of 160 Old 08-27-2010, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kathirynne View Post
...I am planning to cook this week end:...

1 batch split pea soup
1 batch cooked baby lima beans (I add a cup or 2 to vegetable soup.)...
The split pea soup is cooking right now.

I cooked the baby limas in my crockpot last night. They turned out more "voluminous" than I expected, so tonight I will add some shallots and rosemary to them and make French white bean soup with them, instead.

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#15 of 160 Old 08-27-2010, 12:54 PM
 
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I'll join! I realized when looking at our bank account today that the months when I plan our meals in advance, I make 2-3 trips to the grocery store, and spend about $300 CAD for DH & I. BUT... when I don't plan... I'm at the grocery store 8-12 twelve times, spend between $400 & $500 CAD, don't eat as well, and am more stressed about "what to cook tonight?!".

So - September is a good time to get things under control. I'm going to throw in a load of laundry then grab paper, pen, and a pile of cookbooks to set this months menu!

Thanks for the inspiration!
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#16 of 160 Old 08-27-2010, 09:33 PM
 
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I am tired of eating the same things over and over again too...problem is tomorrow is my grocery shopping day for the next 2 weeks...ugh.

We eat the same stuff over and over. Spaghetti, Chilli, Turkey Burgers, Breakfast, Roast, Turkey Loin, Chicken Soup, Chicken & Rice, Hamburgers, Hot dogs....i am just so done with it...and guess what is on the menu for the next 2 weeks...*sigh*

Single mom to 2 boys
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#17 of 160 Old 08-27-2010, 10:21 PM
 
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I am tired of eating the same things over and over again too...problem is tomorrow is my grocery shopping day for the next 2 weeks...ugh.

We eat the same stuff over and over. Spaghetti, Chilli, Turkey Burgers, Breakfast, Roast, Turkey Loin, Chicken Soup, Chicken & Rice, Hamburgers, Hot dogs....i am just so done with it...and guess what is on the menu for the next 2 weeks...*sigh*
Try Supercooks.com for new recipe inspiration. You put in the ingredients you have and it suggests recipes for you. I use it all the time!

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#18 of 160 Old 08-27-2010, 10:57 PM
 
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I'm in! We blew our August eating out budget in like the first four days of the month, and I'm hoping we don't have a repeat. Couple that with the ENORMOUS amount of CSA produce we have, and we've got a recipe for a lot of at-home cooking!

Here's the CSA produce I have on hand (it's ridiculous):

purple potatoes
red potatoes
fingerling potatoes
sweet potatoes
kohlrabi (x5)
fennel (x4)
kohlrabi greens
collards
kale
mustard greens
beets (which I hate)
shiso (which I have no idea what to do with...)
green onions
little cippollini onions
red torpedo onions
miniature red peppers
thai basil
lemon basil
red rubin basil
lovage
cherry tomatoes
regular tomatoes
lemon cucumbers (x4)
carrots
walla walla onions (x3)
garlic
parsley
sage
rosemary
oregano
savory

Anything pop out at you? We're vegetarian. I just made a ginormous pot of Monkey Minestrone (out of Eat, Drink and Be Vegan) tonight, which used a ton of fresh, pantry and frozen stuff. We have a LOT of leftovers from that. Possibly enough to freeze.

Anyway - if anyone has any grand ideas (particularly for kohlrabi, fennel and/or shiso) I'd love to hear them!

Chessa , mama to Silas T (6/06) , wife to Chad . Welcome August Emerson! 2/8/10
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#19 of 160 Old 08-27-2010, 11:04 PM
 
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I'm in! We blew our August eating out budget in like the first four days of the month, and I'm hoping we don't have a repeat. Couple that with the ENORMOUS amount of CSA produce we have, and we've got a recipe for a lot of at-home cooking!

Here's the CSA produce I have on hand (it's ridiculous):

purple potatoes
red potatoes
fingerling potatoes
sweet potatoes
kohlrabi (x5)
fennel (x4)
kohlrabi greens
collards
kale
mustard greens
beets (which I hate)
shiso (which I have no idea what to do with...)
green onions
little cippollini onions
red torpedo onions
miniature red peppers
thai basil
lemon basil
red rubin basil
lovage
cherry tomatoes
regular tomatoes
lemon cucumbers (x4)
carrots
walla walla onions (x3)
garlic
parsley
sage
rosemary
oregano
savory

Anything pop out at you? We're vegetarian. I just made a ginormous pot of Monkey Minestrone (out of Eat, Drink and Be Vegan) tonight, which used a ton of fresh, pantry and frozen stuff. We have a LOT of leftovers from that. Possibly enough to freeze.

Anyway - if anyone has any grand ideas (particularly for kohlrabi, fennel and/or shiso) I'd love to hear them!
I can't believe how much you get in your CSA! I get about a third of that if that much. Wow. As for kohlrabi and fennel (don't know what shiso is!), this isn't very inspiring, but I just put them raw in our salads.
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#20 of 160 Old 08-27-2010, 11:20 PM
 
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I can't believe how much you get in your CSA! I get about a third of that if that much. Wow. As for kohlrabi and fennel (don't know what shiso is!), this isn't very inspiring, but I just put them raw in our salads.
That's about 2 boxes worth - we got ours late this past week (on Monday) and then our regular one today (Friday). So we're a little swamped! A couple of the things are from our garden (kale, collards) and a few are from the farmstand (walla wallas) but yeah, it's a pretty diverse CSA.

Good idea about adding to salads! It's so ironic, we've been getting tons of lettuce...until now. Now we have cukes and tomatoes, and no lettuce. I know from a gardening perspective it makes sense, but from a salad perspective, not so much!

Chessa , mama to Silas T (6/06) , wife to Chad . Welcome August Emerson! 2/8/10
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#21 of 160 Old 08-27-2010, 11:39 PM
 
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That's about 2 boxes worth - we got ours late this past week (on Monday) and then our regular one today (Friday). So we're a little swamped! A couple of the things are from our garden (kale, collards) and a few are from the farmstand (walla wallas) but yeah, it's a pretty diverse CSA.

Good idea about adding to salads! It's so ironic, we've been getting tons of lettuce...until now. Now we have cukes and tomatoes, and no lettuce. I know from a gardening perspective it makes sense, but from a salad perspective, not so much!
I like to do a pasta salad with chickpeas, tomatoes, cukes, fresh herbs..

Potato salad and "Kohl"-slaw would be good too!

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#22 of 160 Old 08-28-2010, 06:54 AM
 
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Subbing to get some ideas since we have a screaming tight food budget, and cooking at home really helps.

One thing I like to make is vegan sloppy joes in the crock pot (using lentils instead of beef). Super cheap, easy, and provides a lot of meals. I plan on making some this weekend and freezing into several portions.

I am going to pull out some meat from the freezer and marinade/defrost for DH to eat for dinner. I also have some potatoes I need to use before I forget about them (don't want them going bad). I plan to slice some up tonight to bake some yummy seasoned fries .
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#23 of 160 Old 08-28-2010, 11:59 AM
 
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Ok so were not doing well AT ALL this weekend BUT BUT BUT Its not September yet!

I knew this weekend was going to be rough since dh and I are barely home b/c of working multiple jobs this weekend(SIGH) and the dc arent home at all so that makes getting take out seemingly not so bad LOL

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#24 of 160 Old 08-28-2010, 01:59 PM
 
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Put together my September menu yesterday:

13 vegetarian meals; 5 meals with meat as a feature; 6 meals with only a small amt of meat; 3 meals with fish. (we'll be away for a few days when food will be provided for us). I make enough to provide lunch for DH & I the next day as well. The groceries for these meals will be about $160. That doesn't include cereal, fruit, pantry staples, cleaning supplies etc so I imagine by the time the month is done it'll be $250 or so - we'll see. My goal is to keep it under $300

I make most of my own cleaning supplies & our own toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, & laundry detergent; use cloth for my own #1 tp, use a diva cup & cloth pads, use cloth hankies instead of tissues.... but spend more than average on good natural shampoo, conditioner, soap, and makeup.
I buy most of my meat (beef, pork, chicken, lamb) yearly from a local near-organic farmer at about $3/lb average.

I buy organic milk which is 2x the cost of regular, and use it for making yogurt, kefir, sour cream, buttermilk etc as needed. So although the milk is pricey, I end up getting organic dairy products for the price of conventional when I make them myself.

Cheese & butter I buy locally made which is about 50% more $ than conventional.

I'm getting some frozen chicken carcasses from a friend today and will boil them down for stock which should last a while.

I make my own bread with organic ww flour, but need to find a cheaper source for the flour (ie a place where I can buy it in larger quantity) and that will bring my cost down to below the cost of conventional bread.

I've never tried my hand at gardening -- but am willing to take whatever my gardening friends & family need to get rid of so I've been doing some canning & freezing (for the first time) this summer.

My big goal for the summer is to buy bushels of tomatoes when they're abundant (which will be any day now!) and can enough to last me the year.

That's the plan for now!
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#25 of 160 Old 08-28-2010, 02:20 PM
 
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I've got my September meal plan done. I spend alot of time of weekends cooking (freezer stuff, lunch stuff for the week, etc) so I'm working on that now. Hardboiled eggs for the kids, right now I have a turkey carcass cooking that I found in the freezer and I'll use whatever meat is left from that to make a noodle casserole type thing.

My freezers are so full right now but the garden's still producing alot so I've got to get that stuff used up first. Tomorrow I'm attempting stuffed zucchini so I hope it turns out well and we can do it again.
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#26 of 160 Old 08-28-2010, 02:22 PM
 
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I make home-cooked, from scratch for almost every meal, but I'll be looking in to get more ideas.

I do love to cook, but some days the amount of time I spend in the kitchen seems almost overwhelming.

I don't even know if shortcuts exist for so many things I do, without sacrificing flavor.

For example, I remember that there was a thread a while back about quick meals and chicken quesadillas were mentioned as being quick. I was dropping my jaw! Mine take a LONG time to make. I put a dry rub on the chicken and let it sit. Grill that off and let it rest, then slice it. I put a mixture of sauteed peppers and onions with some spices, and the prep of that takes a little time. Then the tortillas take some time to make. And I make a great spicy sauce for them as well (passed on from my next door neighbor). The guacamole may take the most time to make and a quesadilla isn't the same without the great guacamole.

So, I'm wondering what people do to still cook from scratch, but speed things up in the kitchen.

Any general shortcuts that can be used in the kitchen (other than make ahead, which I do almost religiously as I meal plan and know what's coming up)?
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#27 of 160 Old 08-30-2010, 05:57 PM
 
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I need to join in here, too. With 1st-tri preg. fatigue in May/June, and then a busy (and HOT) summer, I've gotten out of the habit of cooking and baking the way we were used to...and I'm having trouble getting back in that groove! I'm hoping that if the temps/humidex cool off a bit, that will help. (No AC here.)

I also want to get holiday baking started and begin feeding the freezer for after LO#2 arrives! So the grocery budget may not seem to go down much, but I'm hoping to have at least a month's worth of breakfast baking and supper entrees put away, plus the gifts and other baked goods for the holidays...which means(assuming I follow through well...)come late Dec/Jan, we'll really see the $$ results!
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#28 of 160 Old 08-30-2010, 06:09 PM
 
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I SO need this! (I'm on the no-spend challenge, too, with my biggets focus being to eat at home.)

I used to make everything from scratch at home. But, that bandwagon left me in the dust earlier this year. Goodness. It's embarrassing. Basically this entire year/pregnancy I have gone back and forth between homemade-from-scratch-mostly-organic-soaked-grains-etc and eating-out-every-single-meal. Part of it was external circumstances (like the hospitalization of a close family member where my only options for over a week were take-out or cafeteria) and part of it has been, I admit, purely my own fault for failing to plan and prepare.

For September my goal is to dine out only once a week -- this is a special treat for us when we go out of town for prenatals, among other scheduled trips. Otherwise, only homemade.

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#29 of 160 Old 08-30-2010, 06:37 PM
 
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I'm really proud of myself - last night we got together with friends for a semi-regular "taco night" - where we usually bring in food from a local mexican restaurant. Well, they are budget crunched and we have like 25 lbs of pinto beans and 5 lbs of rice in our basement - so I decided to make the main parts of the taco stuff and just brought it over! We also had a ton of corn tortillas, so I figured it would get us about 90% there, and then if people wanted to bring in a few meat tacos or condiments, it would be way cheaper. No one even ended up wanting to go out for anything, so it was really a savings! I just couldn't stand the thought of all of us spending way more $$ on the beans and rice than it was worth. It was a pretty successful venture, even with 3 preschoolers eating (who, as we all know, can be very picky about what they will eat).

Of course, we blew the home cooking streak today when we went out for lunch after a long morning of errand running. But hey, one home cooked meal is better than none, right?

I have leftover soaked pintos from yesterday, so I think we'll have another night of tacos here tonight - with more rice and the rest of the tortillas. And some homemade guac from the avocados we picked up at Costco today!

Chessa , mama to Silas T (6/06) , wife to Chad . Welcome August Emerson! 2/8/10
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#30 of 160 Old 08-30-2010, 07:38 PM
 
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I am in. DS is going on an elimination diet for the month of September so we can't eat out anyway. I have to be inspired. We are vegetarian and will be doing no dairy, oy, gluten, sugar, food dye, eggs, corn or chocolate.

So lots of beans, rice, veggies and fruit for us. And honey. And gluten free flours.

Mom to 4! Welcomed Aila Wren on Friday, February 25th!
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