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?

 

 

 

Cooking already

I had worried that I would feel a bit overwhelmed with the idea of cooking things that require dicing rather than can opening. I  hadn’t expected it to set in so soon.

Luckily for me the Oslo meal exists. While I’m gung-ho about rationing, I do have items in the fridge and pantry that are more in line with black market cookery.  As the first rule of frugality is to not waste I’ve livened up my salad with chunks of Brie rather than a slight  grating of cheese.

I made a light dressing from equal parts oil and rice vinegar with a spoonful of dry  mustard.

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It’s a surprisingly filling lunch and I’m glad that I found a salad cheat sheet to help me through my salad endeavors.

 

See the source image
build a salad by picking a base, adding extra greenery, a pop of colour, crunch, healthy extras, protein and a dressing

 

I suspect this is going to be my lunch for the next little bit as I purchased a large tub of salad greens.

I can’t do multiple salads per day so I’m going to use the lamb broth to make a vegetable stew.

Vegetable Turnovers

My grocery budget is doing pretty well for January. $30 got us the ingredients we need for our recipe list as well as the things I needed to make a dessert for a friend’s birthday.

For my first go I decided to make the vegetable turnovers. I used the lamb broth to steam the vegetables, bind the dough and seal the pastry. I seasoned the vegetables with a healthy dose of poultry seasoning.

They turned out really well!

I didn’t quite follow the recipe so I have extra vegetables. I’m not sure if I will make more turnovers or use them as a side.

Committing to Carolyn

I’m a tortured omnivore. I enjoy meat and  have grown so used to it I struggle to think of consistent vegetarian meals. I enjoy cooking in spurts so meat dishes appeal to me when I’m at a creative low.

The downside is that I don’t enjoy thinking of the way animals are treated so that I can have a tasty meal. Even a little thought to the matter makes me queasy.

It may be easier if I were willing to purchase from farms directly. If I knew my chicken was being raised well rather than in agony I’d feel just dandy eating her.

The truth of the matter is that I’m a wee bit lazy when it comes to walking my talk. Farms require research, relationship building and a 45 minutes drive each way. The grocery with my 8 drumsticks already packaged from who knows where is 5 minutes away.

Laziness leads me once again to consider more vegetarian fare. This then lead me back to looking at information about food rationing in WW2, which took me to Carolyn’s 1940’s Experiment. I’ve been addicted to the site for years. Coming back to admire her determination and debating if I could ever do such a thing.

I often only last a week or so when I honestly attempt to live on the rations but I’ve had some unexpected success when I haven’t been trying.

This year I’ve decided will be different. I’ll continue towards eating more like the 1940s. For me this means:

  • Less convenience food
  • Lots more vegetables
  • Meat sparingly
  • Stretching food through creative cookery

To to set myself up for success I’ve made a list of recipes I want to try from her site in January.

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The ‘R’ column in the margin is the recipe number on her site. In addition to these I have a few meat dishes on the menu using the lamb and ham.

ML has no real interest in giving up meat but has promised to eat his ‘cheater food’ outside the home and not tell me.

I’m hoping that this start to the year will give me a good basis for a sustainable way to consume less meat and enjoy time in the kitchen with ML.

What tricks do you use tobe creative and frugal in the kitchen?

Stretching out the Pantry

I was so proud of myself for doing pantry checks and doing menu planning that I neglected a basic task. Check leftover levels.

It turns out we only had enough leftovers in the fridge for light lunches tomorrow and ham wraps. Not exactly the two days I had assumed.

No problem! I already had menu ideas for the Christmas leftovers in the freezer. Well, with one problem. I don’t want to do groceries until my next paycheque and all the recipes called for ingredients I didn’t have.

I decided to make the lamb shepherds pie but use lentils instead of carrots, celery, etc. Then I realized I could make a vegetarian cottage pie!

Well, within 15 minutes I went from missing pantry items to having everything  I need.

This is my first time making the recipe so I was a little nervous when I saw this mush:

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However, it did smell great so I topped it with mashed potatoes and cheese. This looks way more appetizing and I’m looking forward to trying it for dinner tomorrow.

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Here’s what I had used:

1 onion chopped

1 clove garlic diced

oil

2 cups red lentils

4 cups vegetable broth

Seasonings: Parsley and Basil

Leftover mashes potatoes

grated cheese

Method:

In a saucepan, sauté  onion and garlic in oil

Rinse lentils and add to pot along with broth and seasonings

Bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes

Add frozen mixed veggies

Simmer for 10 minutes

Take half of lentils out and whisk in cornstarch then re-add to pot

Put in Pyrex dish and cover with mashed potatoes

Grate cheese over top of potatoes and put in oven for 15 minutes at 325.

This made what appears to be 7 servings

Pantry Challenge: Lentil Chili

With the excess of the holiday season over I’m craving food that is not baked or fried and contains a hefty dose of vegetables. As I’m also doing the Uber frugal month challenge I thought this would be good time to turn to my pantry to give myself a chance to focus once more on eating less meat and less processed foods.

It turned out we didn’t even need to visit the grocery this week!

I found 1.5 packages of lentils in my quest and decided to make this lentil chili. I even followed the recipe, mostly. I hadn’t purchased peppers and didn’t have stock in so I skipped those and substituted water for the broth.

In spite of this substitution, it’s a very tasty meal and will give us about 2 days worth of meals. It’s just the sort of hearty fare I need in January!

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Do you have a favourite lentil dish? I still have a bag left!

Grocery Budget

I’ve blogged here about the fact that eating healthy doesn’t necessarily take more out of my grocery budget than eating convenience foods. However, when I went to do my budget this month I gave my grocery line some extra padding.

I mean clearly eating no meat is going to cost more as it’ll be harder to get all necessary ingredients on sale. That turned out to be a mistake, a great one.

I turned my usual process around by selecting recipes,  then checking my pantry, and finally the flyers.

I ended up getting this for about half my grocery budget:

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They’re the necessary ingredients for:

I’m pleased with our planning and think we’re off to a fine start.

My zero waste goal, however, isn’t doing as well. Unfortunately most of the items are packaged in plastic. I’m going to keep working away at both of these and see where my grocery life ends up at the end of the month.

Do you have frugal pescatarian recipes you’re willing to share?