Menu Planning for Friends

We’re leaving to go the Costco soon with a friend. The plan is that we’ll get food for the 6 of us to have over the course of our long weekend. There’s a slight problem: the menu was never discussed. The idea of going into Costco without a list is absolutely awful. That’s exactly how we end up spending $500 in less than 30 minutes!

Based on experience I know that we like cooking simple meals and somehow allows end up in the overpriced mini-mart outside the town collecting something. As I’m the one spending the initial sum I’m hoping that this plan works for all:

Breakfasts: bacon, eggs, toast, strawberry scones

Lunches: sandwiches, leftover dinner; we’re visiting a chip shop on one of the days

Dinner: steak and fries, hamburger, hot dogs

Snacks: chips, cherry clafouti, s’mores, s’mores pie

With this breakdown, I’m hopeful that we won’t over purchase or end up with waste.

UPDATE: We did well! We did end up needing more eggs and opted to get coffee refills for the hosts. In addition, to what’s listed above we picked up:

  • a salad
  • 4 bags of chips (only 2 needed)
  • fruit tray
  • Tray of peaches
  • Juice boxes (next time buy a bottle)
  • Milk
  • mini tomatoes

Next year, we’ll pick up a veggie tray instead of the salad.

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Having a drink on a budget

We’re off to a cottage with friends this weekend. We generally all pitch in for food and then bring our own alcohol. For the last few years I haven’t indulged on the weekend with the exception of wine with dinner. This year, I think I want to join in a bit. However, I don’t want to overdo the enjoyment or spend loads on liquor.

The best way for me to enjoy and stick to my budget is to make my own mixes. My plan is to enjoy a pitcher of mojitos and/or a pitcher of sangria for the weekend.

Mojito

  • Mint Syrup (using mint from the garden)
  • 1.5 cups of lime juice
  • 1.5 cup white rum
  • 1 liter of club soda

I haven’t done this one before but I’m thinking I can mix the first 3 ingredients, pour a shot of that into a glass and top with the club soda. Alternatively, I can make 1 glass at a time using 1:1:1.5 (syrup, lime juice, rum) and then topped with the soda.

Wine Spritzer

  • 1 container of strawberries diced
  • 1 bottle of white wine
  • 1 liter of lemon-lime pop or sparkling water

This one will have to be made fresh at the cottage as I don’t want it to go flat.

Grocery Budget

Every month I’ve gone over my grocery budget. Considering the kitchen situation and my own desire to stay out of it I’m not surprised by that. However, when I went shopping this week I was concerned. I spent nearly $50 on:

  • 3 pints of strawberries
  • 2 pints of blueberries
  • 1 large bag cherries
  • jar of yeast
  • White vinegar
  • Half and Half
  • Whipping Cream
  • 3 graham pie crusts
  • Mixed pack of hors d’oeuvres

That’s not a lot of food. In fact, it’s not even a meal.

It was my reminder that the cost of living has gone up but I haven’t moved my grocery line up. As I had all the food I needed in the house this wasn’t a bad grocery run. I used some steak we got on sale to make Teriyaki, though I didn’t use a slow cooker. I make the sauce with some substitutions as I didn’t have sesame oil and made use of the frozen vegetables we had on hand.

The process of doing groceries, working through my budget and reading the blog has me determined to reclaim my kitchen.

bottles of blueberry iced tea, blueberry pancakes, s'mores pie and Rocky Road Ice Cream

I was too eager to wait to take photos of everything!

I made blueberry simple syrup to make 8 cups of iced tea. The leftover berries were then used to make blueberry pancakes for the week. The whipping cream went into the home made rocky road ice cream and the Half & Half in the s’mores pie. I got my groove back with making 2 loaves of bread and I’m keeping the strawberries to make more shortcake scones with the Half and Half.

I’m going to be snacking on the cherries but I need to figure out what to make with them. The other container of blueberries and half the strawberries will be used to make a sangria for the weekend.

Taking the time to do this batch of baking and cooking has revitalized me. I’m feeling better not only about getting back  my kitchen but also getting my budget under control.

I feel Rotten

I’ve been so proud of myself. While friends and colleagues having been getting the awfulness that has been going around I have been healthy. Well Thursday it came crashing down.

I awoke feeling less than stellar with a terrible headache, sore throat and upset tummy. Yesterday I added chills and joint pain to the list. That’s how I broke my no-spend plan.

Today I attempted to broaden my dietary limits from tea, toast and popsicles with less than stellar results. It seems I still need soft foods. I’m too ill to cook and, as ML is working this weekend, I don’t want to add to his list.

This is where I’m grateful to Pinterest. As I was searching for no-cook food that required minimal work I came across baby purees. My parents kindly offered to do a grocery run so I asked them to pick up a few fruits so I can make some healthy purees.

It was interesting to see the simple, nutritious meals the mommy-bloggers are feeding their children. I was struck once again, by how we can overcomplicate food.

I don’t intend to make purees a meal once I can digest properly again but I’m thinking some of them will make great work snacks while helping me get my fruit and vegetable servings up.

Do you have flu-busting tips?

Zero Waste Drink

I still have 6 tangerines from my shopping last week. Unfortunately, I have lost 3 so I’m determined to do something with them this weekend.

I had thought of making tangerine muffins or preserves but I’m quife tired today and I have made 3 things already.

I decided to take another look at what I can do with tangerines. I found an extremely easy recipe: a tangerine martini!

This beverage used up 4 tangerines and is quite a treat!

Keeping Strong and Not Fearing the Pantry

I decided, with ML’s help, to stay out of the grocery this weekend. When I began speaking of feeling overwhelmed by the idea of meal planning he took me through a tour of our pantry. We still have a lot of ingredients.

A taco kit led us to think of making vegetarian tacos. I found a recipe with a chickpea filling, which means I’m now using the 2 tins of chickpeas, sweet peppers, spring mix and the avocados.

The cupboard is a bit emptier. Since our kitchen is going offline in a month this is a good thing. The less food we have in the cupboards and fridge means we have less to find new homes for during the reno.

I am learning that I have a fear of empty cupboards.  Part of it is not wanting to pay retail for something I could have gotten on sale. A fear of missing out on good deals. another that I like options. I enjoy knowing that I can get inspiration from the jars, tins, boxes and bags that reside in the pantry.

ML and I have come a long way. I don’t think I give either of us enough credit when it comes to managing our pantry. I’ve spent January giving our diets a good shake and we have embraced the changes and kept each other motivated.

I’m off to try my hand at vegan mayo.

How’s your day going?

Less Meat but…

I’m trying to spend less, eat healthier and be good to the environment so adding more meatless meals is definitely a good idea! However, I’m also paying attention to what I eat.

To that end I’ve continued using MyFitnessPal to track caloric intake as well as the nutritional value of my meals. It turns out that, even when I eat meat, I struggle to achieve my protein goals.

This has led me to plan meals around the nutritional value of ingredients. This was tonight’s dinner:

96EBFBAB-D79F-45B1-B4B6-31E45035CEB4.jpegIt’s a simple 1 egg omelet with cheese, mushrooms and mixed salad greens. It even meets my ration goals! Well with a bit of finessing, I’ve adjusted my egg ration to 12-18 per month rather than 1 fresh per week and a tin (12 powdered) per month.

I’m currently researching my nutritional needs as I have noticed that I’m consistently not eating enough protein, calcium and iron.

As I continue to grow in my eating habits I’ll share my discoveries as I’m determined to eat well on a budget.

Do you have these struggles or have you found a way to consistently balance your diet?

Grocery Success and Jan Week 2 Review

If you had told me that  I could go to Costco and spend less than $100 a few years ago I wouldn’t have believed it. Partly because it was a pretty horrendous experience and because I always seemed to find some ‘great deal’ I just couldn’t pass up.

This time I went armed with not only a list but one that had the grocery store prices on it. I left with the things I wanted, though I confess I didn’t know I wanted 2kg from frozen vegetables until faced with this much easier fix to purchasing a variety of fresh veg, for less than $25. Between the other 2 stores I spent less than $20. This resulted in my spending just over $40 on groceries.

My aim is to ignore the flyers next week and meal plan with what we have. I find I have a slight problem of purchasing things because they’re a good deal. We already had pasta and sauce but because both were $1 I purchased two more packages of each. If I stay out of the stores next week I’ll be saving $50.

Tonight I’m making spaghetti with lentil pasta sauce for lunches and dinner, pancakes for breakfast and bread because I’m loving it and it will be lovely for avocado sandwiches and potato rarebit.

In spite of overspending I came out only $8 worse for the wear. It looks like Bunny isn’t going to need anything else for the month so her money was rolled up into Eating Out as was my gas and grocery savings.

With my current plan to avoid the grocery next week, I’m hoping to have a no spend week. This means I’m going to have to ensure that I pack my lunch really well and provide myself with lots of snacks.

How’s your week ahead looking?

 

 

 

Menu Planning

I’m armed with a list but I also want to ensure I don’t over-purchase and end up being wasteful.

This week I’m thinking of making, along with needed ingredients:

  • Bread
  • Pancakes
  • sphaghetti – pasta, sauce, mushrooms and sweet peppers
  • Lord Woolton Pie with Mushroom gravy – mushrooms, root vegetables
  • Macaroni pie with green salad and bean salad  – cheese, salad fixings
  • Potato rarebit

Based on this list my vegetables are really looking like salad, mushrooms, sweet peppers and a few ground provisions.

How is your meal prepping going?

 

Groceries

This was the first weekend in ages I  didn’t go to the grocery store. The greatest reason for that was that I’m really trying to stick to my budget. It’s also the first time in forever that I was really willing to commit to items already in the house.

Saturday, I made bread. Sunday was a ham casserole that I added additional vegetables to and created a crumb topping. Today, most likely, I’ll make Lord Woolton Pie with mushroom gravy. This should see us through the week.

I’m looking ahead to next week and with the recent discovery of the sheer volume of vegetables and fruit Canadians were advised to eat I’m heading to Costco to see if I can get some variety while staying in my budget. While I adore potatoes, carrots, broccoli and mushrooms I am hoping that I’m able to extend my vegetable reach a bit more.

I’ve been rather stingy with my three apples so I’m hoping to find a good deal on fruit as well to add to my lunches.

With a budget of $50 but a goal of spending $30 I’m not quite sure if I’ll be able to get all the items on my list:

  • peanut butter
  • butter
  • fresh fruit
  • fresh vegetables
  • toilet paper

I may find myself going to the regular grocery store instead. I know that I’m definitely getting the peanut butter at Costco as no one can beat their price!