Monday, July 28, 2008

Fun At-home Ideas (featuring food, of course)

It costs money to raise a family. Having fun doesn't have to though what with a little creativity which can be helped with lack of sleep. I seem to get my best ideas when I am tired. The thought process would leave you scratching your head, but the end result is good.

I like to come with ideas to make dinner time a bit more fun not that it isn't interesting enough with 9 people around the table. It is about laughter and creating memories. One of those is our Sunday Sundaes. The kids love that new tradition. They will let me forget to have them do chores, but not the sundaes. Since we eat a late lunch on Sunday, we just have sundaes for dinner. How good is that?

Did you know that August is Brownies at Brunch Month? It is also Catfish Month and Peach Month. The second week in August is Apple Week. National Mustard Day is the first Saturday in August.

My point is you can take some of these fun days and run with it. August 2 is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. Why not have a dessert first meal and serve up some ice cream sandwiches? On August 6th you can enjoy some root beer floats with your cook-out for National Root Beer Float Day. My 11 year old Kalynne is looking forward to August 19th as it is Potato Day. Potatoes are her favorite food. She is calling for a potato bar featuring all types of potato dishes (i.e. potato soup, chili-cheese fries, tater tot casserole). By the looks of it with National Soft Ice Cream Day, Peach Pie Day, Lemon Meringue Day, Cherry Turnover Day, Banana Split Day and S'mores Day, it isn't a diet friendly month.

August 1: National Raspberry Cream Pie Day
August 2: National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
August 3: National Watermelon Day
August 4: National Lasanga Day
August 5: National Waffle Day, National Oyster Day
August 6: National Root Beer Float Day
August 7: National Raspberries in Cream Day
August 8: National Zucchini Day, National Frozen Custard Day
August 9: National Rice Pudding Day
August 10: National S'mores Day
August 11: National Raspberry Tart Day
August 12: Julienne Fries Day
August 13: National Filet Mignon Day
August 14: National Creamsicle Day
August 15: Lemon Merignue Pie Day
August 16: Bratwurst Day
August 17: National Vanilla Custard Day
August 18: National Soft Ice Cream Day
August 19: Potato Day, Hot & Spicy Food Day
August 20: Lemonade Day, National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day
August 21: National Pecan Torte Day
August 22: National Spumoni Day, Eat a Peach Day
August 23: National Sponge Cake Day
August 24: National Peach Pie Day
August 25: National Banana Split Day
August 26: National Cherry Popsicle Day
August 27: National Pots de Creme Day, Banana Lovers Day
August 28: National Cherry Turnover Day
August 29: More herbs, Less Salt Day; Chop Suey Day; Lemon Juice Day
August 30: National Toasted Marshmallow Day
August 31: Eat Outside Day, National Trail Mix Day

Weekly Menu for July 28 - August 2

BBQ Pork
Potato Salad
Baked Beans

Grilled Pork Chops
Baked Potatoes
Yellow Squash

Meatball Subs
Fresh Veggies with Ranch
Fruited Gelatin Salad

Barbecued Rabbit
Seasoned Rice
Green Salad

Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Fresh Fruit

Homemade Pizza (Cheese, Sausage)


Breakfast Options are pancakes, waffles, muffins, granola, toast all served with milk and fruit.
Lunch consists of either sandwiches or leftovers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Money Saving Tips

There are some things despite the higher cost that I still need to purchase. I am big on produce as it still costs less per pound than the lean meat I use. I have a baby with a sensitivity to milk products which also adds costs to my food budget. What I do is find ways to cut costs in other areas.

A couple of tips that I used just this morning are with muffin mixes. Yeah, I could cut the cost further and make muffins from scratch. I do actually. The mix was from my AngelFood Ministries unit.

Tip #1: Add flour to the mix. I find I can use 1/4 cup per mix. It stretches the mix a bit. If you have seen my locusts eat (or fight over the last muffin for that matter), you realize that every little bit helps.

Tip #2: Bake the batter in a baking pan not muffin tins. It saves on muffin liners if you use those. It also allows for smaller portions without fits about "I don't want a broken one. I want a big one like so-and-so."

Another way I use muffin mixes is to make flavored waffles. It won't work in pancakes as the fruit pieces are still hard. Waffles work because they are thinner and cooked differently so the fruit cunks melt like in the muffins. I add the mix to 2 cups of pancake mix. I then add whatever the muffin calls for such as milk, eggs, etc. along with what is needed to mix up the pancake mix. So 50 cents for a muffin mix makes enough flavored waffles for an entire meal. That is not bad, and even breakfast makes a good dinner some nights as it is cheap and filling.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

July 21-26 Weekly Menu with Angelfood Ministries

July's Unit Contained:
  • Dozen Eggs
  • Bluberry Muffin Mix
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Spaghetti Pasta
  • Popcorn Chicken
  • Meatballs
  • Pork Roast
  • Beef Ribs
  • Meatloaf
  • Crock-Pot Pork Meal
  • Peas & Carrots (frozen)
  • Chopped Broccoli (frozen)
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Shelf-Stable Milk (not powder)
  • Lean Cuisine Cheese Pizza
  • Hawaiian Punch (46 oz)
  • Cinnamon Teddy Grahams

July 21-26 Menu

Mexican Corn
Watermelon Chunks

Sweet & Sour Ribs with Rice
Egg Drop Soup

Crock-Pot Pork Meal
Steamed Green Beans

Mashed Potatoes
Peas & Carrots

Pork Tetrazinni
Green Beans

Meatball Subs
Fresh Vegetable & Fruits

The Lean Cuisine will go with hubby to work for his lunches. The Hawaiian Punch will be used to make popsicles or slushes. The Teddy Grahams will be snacks. The Blueberry Muffin Mix will be used to make blueberry waffles. The Popcorn Chicken can be used for another meal, lunch or dinner.

I ordered enough units to not only make this menu but a second one as well. Other meals options inlcude: Shredded Pork Sandwiches, BBQ Ribs, Spaghetti & Meatballs, Muffins with Scrambled Eggs, Egg Salad Sandwiches, Pork Chimichangas with Baked Tortilla Chips, Fried Rice, Lo Mein, Meatloaf Sandwiches, Enchilada Casserole, Chicken Parmesan Casserole and Broccoli Quiche.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Green Beans

One easy way to save on the food budget is to grow your own vegetables, fruits and/or herbs. I am fortunate that I have room for all three. A lot of room is not needed to grow your own. I grow the herbs in conatiners on my back porch along with a bush tomato in a pot. They will move inside for the winter. I have seen a "Salad Garden" grown on a small balcony of an apartment. There were a couple of tomato plant, cucumber vine and small box of lettuce plants.

From just this small patch of green beans I picked over FIVE POUNDS of beautiful green beans. That was just the first harvest too.

I like my beans frozen (hubby prefers home bottled). I wash the beans and trim the ends. Then I place a layer of them on cookie sheets to place in the freezer to flash freeze them. I find I can pull them out of the bag easier that way since they don't all freeze together. Hubby and Oren cleaned and trimmed the first batch for me. I took care of the flash-freezing and packing (got 5 one-quart bags).

I like to sautee the bean in butter and garlic or just steam them. From this batch I took enough to make a side dish for our dinner of roast with potatoes and carrots. I sauteed some sliced red onion in olive oil. I then added the green beans, garlic powder, pepper and basil. I also added some apple juice so to give a sweet taste and steam the beans (done best with a lid on the pan). I then added some sliced tomatoes (also from our garden) and cooked for a minute or so longer.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fresh Berries & Granola

These yummy berries taste really good on this granola recipe.
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
5 cups oats
1/2 cups raisins
1/2 cup dry milk
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Mix brown sugar, oil and honey in a medium saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Combine dry ingredients except rasisins in large greased cake pan. Pour sugar mixture over dry ingredients; mix well. Bake a 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool in pan. Add raisins. Store in an air-tight container.
I have also added wheat flakes, chopped dried apple, sliced almonds among other things depending what I have on hand and is in my budget.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Weekly Menu for June 30 - July 6

Teriyaki Riblets (crock-pot)
Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Broccoli
Watermelon Chunks

Bacon Wrapped Steaks
Buttered Potatoes
Cantaloupe Slices

Ham & Bean Soup
Fruit Salad

Restaurant Night (aka place all leftovers on the counter and have a buffet to clean out the refrigerator)

BBQ Chicken Legs
Baked Beans
Watermelon Chunks

Loaded Bean & Beef Burritos (more ways than one ;) )
Grapes & Apples

Spaghetti with Italian Sausage Chunks
Garlic Toast

Disclaimer: I do not have to stick to the order outlined due to circumstances beyond my control which include but is not limited to boredom, not liking to stick to lists (just making them), children eating the ingredients for that night's meal for snack, appliances breaking down and overall craziness, hectic lives and schedules.