Frugal Meal Planning 101 - Page 9 - Mothering Forums

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#241 of 642 Old 02-08-2007, 05:15 PM
 
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Any other work-outside-the-home mamas here? I'm finding the convenience challenge...challenging! I would love to find some convenience foods that I can make that are fast. Like I thought about canned soup for ds, who loves chicken noodle. But the thought of getting a whole chicken, cooking it, cutting it up, etc. Blah. Not to mention I'm vegetarian and I really don't like handling raw meat if I don't have to as it really grosses me out.

I work 2 jobs and am pg with #3, so I'm just tired all the time--I bought soup today on sale/with coupon for .60/can and kind of thought, that doesn't seem worth it to make it if I can get it for under $1/can.

And would a bread maker save time/money? We do go through a lot of bread, and love the Brownberry (that is over $3/loaf, ugh!), but I'm wondering if it's worth it in my small (space-challenged) kitchen.
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#242 of 642 Old 02-08-2007, 05:40 PM
 
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That makes sense about the ads.....thank you to the mamas who answered. I guess it will take some time for me to get used to doing this
Its going to take me awhile too I landed up buying some canned beans (we NEVER buy canned ones) just because they were on sale for such a good price I did manage to hold strong and not buy the microfiber towels that were on sale...even though I lOVE them in the dipes.
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#243 of 642 Old 02-08-2007, 05:41 PM
 
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Its going to take me awhile too I landed up buying some canned beans (we NEVER buy canned ones) just because they were on sale for such a good price I did manage to hold strong and not buy the microfiber towels that were on sale...even though I lOVE them in the dipes.
I feel your pain!

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#244 of 642 Old 02-08-2007, 07:11 PM
 
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Yeah I found my inventory list...., now I gotta work on the 2 week menu. And the menu I made for this week got changed around some.
Plus I've spent more $$ than I planned.

I feel for you riono, I have no answers...sorry. Maybe you could cook ahead on the week-ends?
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#245 of 642 Old 02-08-2007, 07:34 PM
 
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I'm joining late ...

I completed our inventory. It was embarrassing. In my fridge I found three jars of kalamata olives, two jars of salsa, two jars of blueberry jam--all open.

We don't have much in the way of convenience foods:
  • Sprouted Hemp Bread for DH (He'll have no other)
  • Packaged Pad Thai (Free after a coupon)
  • Fig Bars (I will bake cookies this weekend)
  • Tortilla Chips (Anyone have a good recipe?)

I was elated to discover--upon completing our inventory and meal planning--that I don't need to go shopping for about five days and I can still keep feeding my family health foods. After the five days, all we'll need is some fresh produce!

This is great.

ETA: One of our "why did I buy" foods is canned fruit. What can I do with canned pears and peaches? Anything in the way of a recipe? I only know to eat them plain.

I blog traditional foods and Weston A Price at Nourished Kitchen. See my healthy recipes.
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#246 of 642 Old 02-08-2007, 07:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by riono View Post
Any other work-outside-the-home mamas here? I'm finding the convenience challenge...challenging! I would love to find some convenience foods that I can make that are fast. Like I thought about canned soup for ds, who loves chicken noodle. But the thought of getting a whole chicken, cooking it, cutting it up, etc. Blah. Not to mention I'm vegetarian and I really don't like handling raw meat if I don't have to as it really grosses me out.
I'm a WOHM too, and though my DH SAH, I still handle all of the cooking/grocery shopping duties.

My advice for soups is to make friends with your crockpot. We do a lot of soups and stews because of it. Most meals I make are vegetarian.

Just before bed I will chop veggies, add seasonings and soaked legumes to the crockpot and then stick the pot in the fridge until morning. Then I add the stock/water and turn it on. When I come home from work, the soup is ready. Any leftovers are easy to freeze and thaw for quick meals later.

On the weekends I usually make a lot of "convenience" foods: granola, muffins, cookies and bread that we eat through out the week. If I have time, I'll chop veggies to use during the week.

HTH! It sounds like you've got a lot going on.

I blog traditional foods and Weston A Price at Nourished Kitchen. See my healthy recipes.
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#247 of 642 Old 02-08-2007, 08:50 PM
 
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I had totally spaced this earlier with the homemade pizza discussion...

We do english muffin pizzas.
Usually when I can get free english muffins or they're $.38-$.68/package.
Top with pizza sauce (I have little 6oz cans that do enough sauce for the entire little pizza spree), some cooked ground beef and shredded cheese (colby jack seems to melt the best so far). Whole shebang costs me $3.75ish if I'm not counting sale prices and including tax - for 1 dinner and 2 lunches or 2 dinners for me, the hubby and the 3yo.

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#248 of 642 Old 02-08-2007, 09:55 PM
 
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I'm a WOHM too, and though my DH SAH, I still handle all of the cooking/grocery shopping duties.

My advice for soups is to make friends with your crockpot. We do a lot of soups and stews because of it. Most meals I make are vegetarian.

Just before bed I will chop veggies, add seasonings and soaked legumes to the crockpot and then stick the pot in the fridge until morning. Then I add the stock/water and turn it on. When I come home from work, the soup is ready. Any leftovers are easy to freeze and thaw for quick meals later.
Doh, the crockpot, of course; I'm really bad about using it for some reason. Can I just stick chicken breasts in for soup or do I have to actually do something with it? My dh stays at home, too, but I do 99% of the cooking/planning. If it were up to him we'd be eating steak every night. And spending double the amount on groceries!
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#249 of 642 Old 02-08-2007, 09:56 PM
 
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So here's my inventory:

butter and margarine
LO soup
4 OPEN cans of pasta sauce
real fruit spread
sliced "country" ham
sandwich ham
frozen biscuits
a pie crust
speghetti o's
hot dog chili
ramen noodles (like 20 pakcs)
sugar (10 lbs)
saltines
karo syrup (all I will eat on pancakes)
pancake syrup
hot cocoa
cappuccino mix
spices
ACV and baking soda (to clean, not cook)

OK, so ~WHAT~ in the world could I possibly cook??? There's no money in the budget for groceries (unless I can talk to bf.....) But still no clue where to even start. I have no eggs, bread, milk, etc.

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#250 of 642 Old 02-08-2007, 10:32 PM
 
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I get soymilk from Costco. I buy a case which contains 12 1-quart containers for $11.89. They also sell a box which has three 1/2 gallon containers of Silk. I haven't been buying that, so don't remember how much it costs. They don't sell any of the 'butter' at Costco, though. They probably have margarine, but I'm assuming you mean organic soy butter?
We don't live near a Costco. We do live near a Sam's, but then I'd have to sell my soul...

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#251 of 642 Old 02-08-2007, 11:30 PM
 
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a little late but i'm subbing, i'll start in the am though. yawn.
i just don't want to lose the thread!
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#252 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 02:37 AM
 
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ok...feeling better...we really HAVE been planning every meal around what is already in our pantry so i guess we're doing fine! i swear we have enough risotto to last us till July!

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#253 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 04:11 AM
 
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Cecimami- I like to juice also, we have decided to juice once a week (usually enough for 2 days) I feel cutting back in other areas is worth the cost to feel better and be healthier! I also juice toward the end of our week, so I can juice some "mature" produce and only buy a few things. At least this summer we will have a big garden and juice will be FREE (well, almost).

dnw826-I was going to suggest Costco also, they have a great price on Silk, but I see you're not near one. Are you by a Trader Joe's? Good prices on soy milk & they also usually have sheep-milk cheese that's actually yummy!

On to the assignment-
I really only shop at the local HFS, I always glance at the bulk section for sales and the produce prices change seasonally, so I try and notice when they are low (like bell peppers range from $1.99lb-$7.99lb!) They have a little coupon book they put out, but it's usually only convenience foods. I also shop at Trader's but they don't have sales.

I'm not sure if I can plan 14 days ahead! I've been planning 4-5 days at a time. I tend to over plan things to make, then end up with enough LO's for a couple days! I'm still learning and getting use to it. So I'm going to try for 14 days and just make it "subject to change"

Extra Credit-Why do we have 4 jars of Cranberry Sauce?? Oh, just ask dh!

I really love this! I feel like I know more where our money goes and I have better control over it. So far we have spent about $100, we will spend about $30 more to get us through the next week. This is truly wonderful! In the past we spent about $800+ per month! BIG difference! I also love cooking, so that helps!

Well, today was the first really wasteful spending day this month, $6 on coffee and pastries and another $8 on convenience food later, but I learned and am moving on!!

Also, my dh has a little "problem" with Starbucks (only because it's next to his work) and spent his $20gift card in 2 weeks! I keep trying to make coffee at home, but it never turns out very good!

Ok, I'm rambling, I should go to bed-

Happily married, Waldorf-inspired homeschooler to Kylan (8yo), Everest (6yo), and Bodhi (2yo)
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#254 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 11:00 AM
 
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Anyone have a suggestion on how to make cream of rice cereal. We buy the packaged stuff and it is pricey. My children like it smooth and creamy. I tried grinding plain, uncooked brown rice and than cooking it. My results were horrible.
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#255 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 11:03 AM
 
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Also, my dh has a little "problem" with Starbucks (only because it's next to his work) and spent his $20gift card in 2 weeks! I keep trying to make coffee at home, but it never turns out very good!
-
My DH has the same problem! We have a coffee pot with a timer that can be set the night before, I buy good coffee beans and grind myself (something I'm not willing to compromise on, even for the sake of frugality@ ), yet he STILL bypasses our coffee maker and will stop at Sbux! It's maddening!! For some reason on the weekends our coffee is just fine, but during the week it isn't good enough?!?!

Well, I have my menu all planned out. I've used a large part of my inventory, and what I haven't used should be used up by the end of my current meal plan! However, I still seem to be spending a lot more at the grocery store than most normal people. So far this month I've spent $146.29 - this amount does include dog food, TP, and snack for the Superbowl that we normally would not have bought. However, I STILL need to go shopping this weekend, as we are out of fresh fruits and veggies - we go through a LOT of fresh fruit and veggies, which gets expensive, even eating in season.

I also wonder if anyone has tips for inexpensive lunches. My two older kids take lunches to school every day. They are vegetarian, and my daughter will not eat sandwiches. Sometimes they take leftover pasta in a thermos, and my son like tomato soup (need to start making this homemade instead of buying it). They also like boiled eggs, and I include them a couple times a week. I just think they are getting bored with the same old things, and have found that packing lunches can be expensive. For one thing I usually include a single-serving size of soymilk, and those are almost a dollar EACH - that can really add up! Any suggestions from any lunch gurus out there?
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#256 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 12:02 PM
 
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I also wonder if anyone has tips for inexpensive lunches. My two older kids take lunches to school every day. They are vegetarian, and my daughter will not eat sandwiches. Sometimes they take leftover pasta in a thermos, and my son like tomato soup (need to start making this homemade instead of buying it). They also like boiled eggs, and I include them a couple times a week. I just think they are getting bored with the same old things, and have found that packing lunches can be expensive. For one thing I usually include a single-serving size of soymilk, and those are almost a dollar EACH - that can really add up! Any suggestions from any lunch gurus out there?
Have you checked out veganlunchbox.com. Her blog has great vegan kids recipes. Also, could you buy kleen kanteen or sigg bottles for the kids to fill each day with soymilk instead of a single serve container? The bottles cost $ up front, but would pay themselves off in a month.
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#257 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 12:22 PM
 
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Subbing late.

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#258 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 01:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MiaPia View Post
My DH has the same problem! We have a coffee pot with a timer that can be set the night before, I buy good coffee beans and grind myself (something I'm not willing to compromise on, even for the sake of frugality@ ), yet he STILL bypasses our coffee maker and will stop at Sbux! It's maddening!! For some reason on the weekends our coffee is just fine, but during the week it isn't good enough?!?!

Well, I have my menu all planned out. I've used a large part of my inventory, and what I haven't used should be used up by the end of my current meal plan! However, I still seem to be spending a lot more at the grocery store than most normal people. So far this month I've spent $146.29 - this amount does include dog food, TP, and snack for the Superbowl that we normally would not have bought. However, I STILL need to go shopping this weekend, as we are out of fresh fruits and veggies - we go through a LOT of fresh fruit and veggies, which gets expensive, even eating in season.

I also wonder if anyone has tips for inexpensive lunches. My two older kids take lunches to school every day. They are vegetarian, and my daughter will not eat sandwiches. Sometimes they take leftover pasta in a thermos, and my son like tomato soup (need to start making this homemade instead of buying it). They also like boiled eggs, and I include them a couple times a week. I just think they are getting bored with the same old things, and have found that packing lunches can be expensive. For one thing I usually include a single-serving size of soymilk, and those are almost a dollar EACH - that can really add up! Any suggestions from any lunch gurus out there?
I can say the kids i nannied for loooved taking pita sandwiches for lunch. I would use hummus (for them just mashed garbonzos with lemon and a little garlic) lettuce, tomato, avocado and cucumber. They loved them!
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#259 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 01:07 PM
 
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I also wonder if anyone has tips for inexpensive lunches.
Quesedillas are popular with my dd. What about a chef salad or pasta salad?

Also, my dd takes plain tap water in a reusable sippy thingie in her lunch. I understand if you're trying to squeeze in extra nutrition that it wouldn't work.

I second the Vegan Lunch Box suggestion for inspiration.
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#260 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 01:32 PM
 
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What about tortilla rollups? I've even been to wedding receptions/parties where they serve these. It is kind of a sandwich, but it looks neater and more fun. Plus they are totally flexible.

Basically, you spread stuff on a tortilla, roll it up (kinda looks like a cigar), then cut the roll into rounds. I have seen everything from PB&J to cream cheese, shredded pineapple & nuts to pimento cheese spread to sprouts & lettuce & avocado & tomatoes. Whatever you can think of.
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#261 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by riono View Post
Any other work-outside-the-home mamas here? I'm finding the convenience challenge...challenging! I would love to find some convenience foods that I can make that are fast. Like I thought about canned soup for ds, who loves chicken noodle. But the thought of getting a whole chicken, cooking it, cutting it up, etc. Blah. Not to mention I'm vegetarian and I really don't like handling raw meat if I don't have to as it really grosses me out....

I am a 40-hour-per-week WOHM with 4 kids, so I feel your pain. (I'm also a vegetarian, and I have had good luck with the recipes in "Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow-Cooker" and "Vegan with a Vengence".) For me, the meal plan is a lifesaver. I plan the "quicky" meals for those days when we have an evening activity, and more involved meals for nights with no activity. I use the Crock-Pot, and I prep EVERYthing on Saturday for the following week. (Make pizza dough, cook up dried beans, make a batch of rice - it just depends on what I've planned for the week ahead.) When I'm making something that freezes well (lasagna, for instance), I make two - one to eat this week and one to "feed the freezer". Then if I'm in a hurry, or in a budget crunch, I put the extra meal into the week's menu.

HTH

Visit www.evolutiontosimplicity.blogspot.com to follow my epic saga of single mummahood....

 

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#262 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 01:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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One of our "why did I buy" foods is canned fruit. What can I do with canned pears and peaches? Anything in the way of a recipe? I only know to eat them plain.
I use tinned fruit in cobbler. The peaches would be lovely on their own, and pears are wonderful combined with apples.

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#263 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 03:35 PM
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Could he bring a small cooler or insulated lunch bag? It might not fit in his drawer, but he could put it under his desk or something. That way, he could bring sandwhiches, yogurt, fruit etc.
Unfortunately, no. He never knows if he is going to be in the office or at a customer. He may have as much as an hour's notice that he will be eating in the office by himself, sometimes not even that much. So, something non-perishable and dried is pretty important. He doesn't like canned soups, and has gotten remarkably picky about the things he wants to eat!

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#264 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 03:48 PM
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So here's my inventory:

butter and margarine
LO soup
4 OPEN cans of pasta sauce
real fruit spread
sliced "country" ham
sandwich ham
frozen biscuits
a pie crust
speghetti o's
hot dog chili
ramen noodles (like 20 pakcs)
sugar (10 lbs)
saltines
karo syrup (all I will eat on pancakes)
pancake syrup
hot cocoa
cappuccino mix
spices
ACV and baking soda (to clean, not cook)

OK, so ~WHAT~ in the world could I possibly cook??? There's no money in the budget for groceries (unless I can talk to bf.....) But still no clue where to even start. I have no eggs, bread, milk, etc.

Ok, I've been thinking about this. What about making a pot pie with the pie shell, ham pasta sauce and biscuits? cut the ham into bite size portions, and fill the pie shell with it and cover with pasta sauce (if you had any veggies at all, throw them in after cooking them). Top it with the biscuits and bake. Or, you could fill it with the hot dog chili and have a sort of shepherd's pie kind of thing.

Or, you could cook up some of the ramen, chop the ham again into bite size pieces, and top with pasta sauce. Again, any veggies would be good.

Another possibility is to make sandwhiches out of the biscuits and ham, or sloppy joes out of the chili and biscuits.

I hope this helps.


Bec

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#265 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 05:11 PM
 
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Thanks for all the great lunch ideas everyone! I'll definitely be trying some new things. My sandwich-hating daughter might even eat a wrap or roll-up!

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Originally Posted by hlkm2e View Post
Have you checked out veganlunchbox.com. Her blog has great vegan kids recipes. Also, could you buy kleen kanteen or sigg bottles for the kids to fill each day with soymilk instead of a single serve container? The bottles cost $ up front, but would pay themselves off in a month.
I stumbled across veganlunchbox.com awhile ago, book-marked it, and promptly forgot about it! I'll have to check it out!

Will a kleen kanteen or sigg bottle keep the milk cold until lunchtime?

Thanks!
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#266 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 05:44 PM
 
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So, maybe I didn't have enough excess food to do this challenge for a whole month
I have exactly enough food left to maybe bake 1 thing (with the little flour I have left, and other baking basics like baking soda, etc..). Then there's the leftover pancakes I froze, and some eggs and butter (enough of all for 1 meal).

So I'm going to try those salmon patties, but will need to buy almost all the other ingredients first. I'm still learning a ton about good meal planning here though! Like now, I'm thinking that since I'll be buying breadcrumbs for the salmon things I should figure out several meals I can use them for, instead of just the one thing and then the rest sits around forever. Might be obvious, but I wouldn't have thought of that before!

I love looking at all the yummy sounding recipes too
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#267 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 06:05 PM
 
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Any other work-outside-the-home mamas here? I'm finding the convenience challenge...challenging! I would love to find some convenience foods that I can make that are fast. Like I thought about canned soup for ds, who loves chicken noodle. But the thought of getting a whole chicken, cooking it, cutting it up, etc. Blah. Not to mention I'm vegetarian and I really don't like handling raw meat if I don't have to as it really grosses me out.
I work full time outside the home and I 3rd the crock pot. I also do the prep on the week-ends or the night before.

I also look for a week-end when we have free time and that is when I will do some bulk cooking to feed the freezer. 2 lasagnas, large batches of homemade chicken nuggets (ok, this won't work for you since your vegan), soup, etc. I usually have loftier goals then what I get accomplished but I get as much done as possible.

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#268 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 07:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kathirynne View Post
I use tinned fruit in cobbler. The peaches would be lovely on their own, and pears are wonderful combined with apples.
I will try that this weekend! Thank you so much for responding.

I have another "Why Did I Buy?" Challenge:

What do I do with 5 lbs of dried apples? I bought dried apples in bulk from our co-op a while back thinking I would save money by making my own Larabars. Well, that didn't work out and we ate the other ingredients as snacks (nuts and dates) but have been unable to make a dent in the apples. I have chopped them up to use in oatmeal but that's about it. They tend to be too leathery for straight snacking.

Any ideas?

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#269 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by snowbunny View Post
...I have another "Why Did I Buy?" Challenge:

What do I do with 5 lbs of dried apples? I bought dried apples in bulk from our co-op a while back thinking I would save money by making my own Larabars. Well, that didn't work out and we ate the other ingredients as snacks (nuts and dates) but have been unable to make a dent in the apples. I have chopped them up to use in oatmeal but that's about it. They tend to be too leathery for straight snacking.

Any ideas?

You could cover 1-2 cups of the apples in boiling water and soak them until they are plump again, and then combine them with your tinned pears to make a cobbler, a crumble, or a pie.

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#270 of 642 Old 02-09-2007, 07:39 PM
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I was going to say a dried apple pie.
Here's a recipe:
http://www.recipesource.com/desserts...3/rec1395.html

Or, you could cut them up into oatmeal to sweeten it, chop it into salads, make a dried apple waldorf salad, or just snack on them.

Mama to: Katie, Emily , and Abby
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