Monday, October 24, 2016

Dinners #5 - The Unglamorous Edition

I wasn't going to share what we ate for dinner last week. I didn't get a chance to do a full grocery-shopping because Adam worked 2 weekends in a row and the kids weren't cooperating. And money is always a little bit tight this time of year as we start to shop for Christmas. So as I planned our meals for the coming week, they didn't sound too creative or photogenic. But this blog is about my real life, right? And I always try to be transparent and honest on here. So here is what our recent week of dinners looked like....the unglamorous, unscripted edition!
I hauled the 3 kids to Target to get a few essentials on Saturday, when Adam was working. I spent a whopping $24 on food for the week, and said a prayer that it would last us until Friday. For that amount of money I bought whole and 1% milk, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, salami, eggs, frozen broccoli, 3 russet potatoes, carrots and bananas. And then I got home and got creative.

Our freezer already contained a small amount of homemade shredded salsa chicken, 2 packages of ground turkey, 1 lb of stew meat, 1 lb of chicken thighs, 2 salmon fillets, 3 balls of homemade pizza dough and sauce. In terms of fresh produce I had a spaghetti squash, a sugar pie pumpkin, half a head of cabbage, celery, radishes, mandarins, apples, bananas and 1/2 a bell pepper.

I decided it would be a clean-out-the-fridge, freezer and pantry week. I tend to do this every year in the Fall and it's a great way to use up foods that otherwise just kind of sit there. You can read about my previous experiences here: and here: and here:

It's also a great lesson for my kids to teach them that we don't always have their favorite foods on hand. I told the boys we didn't have the money to buy their favorites this week. Then a few days later Lucas said to our neighbor "We don't have any money so we don't have food". Talk about embarrassing!

Saturday: Bean, Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas, Assorted Veggies
(Picture file was corrupt, so couldn't upload. Sorry!)
We had 4 large tortillas, a little cheddar, a little shredded salsa chicken, and 1 last can of refried beans. So I made 2 large quesadillas and it served Adam, Ryan and Jenna. We also had some brussels sprouts, a little kale, and a little lettuce. So Jenna and I ate the brussels, Lucas and Ryan ate kale chips, and Adam has a salad. I knew there wouldn't be enough food for me, so I made a big batch of split pea soup earlier in the day, and had that for dinner. I had that pound of split peas sitting in the pantry for a while, since nobody but me loves them. So I was happy to eat split pea soup for dinner and for subsequent lunches during the week.

Sunday: Leftovers!!

I had salmon planned for dinner but realized we had plenty of leftovers we could eat. Having a leftover night is so unlike me. The array of food included split pea soup, spaghetti from a couple nights ago, salsa chicken and refried beans, and a sad pitiful salad. We were out of tortillas so I made some from scratch. They do take a little time but they are SO good.

Monday: Asian ground turkey, brown rice, sautéed red cabbage

I've been making this recipe for Asian Turkey lettuce wraps for years, but I can't share it because it's just a clipping I have in my homemade recipe book with no source. Basically I saute ground turkey and then add a combination of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, chile garlic sauce, and cilantro. The flavor is amazing! Ryan took a bite and said "Oh yea I love this meat Mommy!" Sometimes we eat it in butter lettuce. Tonight I just made brown rice to eat with it and soak up the sauce. I also sautéed the half of a red cabbage I had in the fridge, just cooking in butter and salt until it was tender. We also had a bag of veggie potstickers that had been in the freezer for quite a while, so I made some of those.

Tuesday: Homemade Pizza, Canned Green Beans

I had 3 balls of homemade pizza dough in my freezer, so I defrosted 2 to make pizza! This is always a favorite with my family (except for Lucas, who hates pizza). I also had a little homemade pizza sauce in the freezer, so I used that up. I also used up the last of our cheese that I had bought over the weekend. I made one cheese pizza (mainly for Ryan. He easily eats 6 slices of my homemade pizza). And I made a second pizza for Adam and I, topped with spicy pizza seasoning and our last sad half of a bell pepper. On the side I just microwaved some canned green beans. I don't remember eating these as a child but Adam loves them so I buy them sometimes. Jenna loved them! She kept asking for "more meat".

Wednesday: BBQ Chicken Thighs, Rice, "Kale Broccoli"

This dinner was quick and yummy. Ryan had a performance at school this night so I knew I'd need a dinner I could easily get on the table by 5pm. I cooked the last of our boneless skinless chicken thighs in the oven on low heat for 4 hours. I topped them with BBQ sauce before baking and they turned out SO good! I used this Kentucky BBQ sauce from Trader Joe's that we love.

On the side Jenna and I ate leftover brown rice, and I cooked white rice for the 3 boys. My freezer and produce were practically empty by this night, so I pulled a bag of frozen broccoli florets out of the freezer. I defrosted them completely and then sautéed in a pan with olive oil and salt until they were slightly charred. We call this dish "kale broccoli" because it has a roasted flavor like kale chips. Ryan loved the chicken and only ate that. Lucas loved his rice and only ate that. And Jenna loved the broccoli and only ate that. Between my 3 kids they ate a well-balanced dinner!

Thursday: Turkey stuffed Spaghetti Squash, Apple Pie

I had one last pound of ground turkey, and a spaghetti squash. So I made a repeat recipe from a couple weeks ago. I roasted the spaghetti squash and shredded it into "spaghetti noodles". Then I sautéed most of the ground turkey with diced onion, basil, oregano, garlic powder, and diced tomatoes.. Baked it another 10 minutes and then dug in! Cheese would have been great on top but we were all out. The remaining ground turkey that I didn't add to the mixture was served to the boys, along with leftover white rice from the previous night.

At Mops this week we made homemade apple pies. I was so thankful to have a homemade pie in our empty fridge! So I baked that and we enjoyed it after dinner. Too bad we didn't have vanilla ice cream to go with it! A free pie is always a blessing. But when your fridge is empty? Awesome!

Friday: Beef Stew, Beer Bread

By the end of the week our fridge and freezer were bare. But I had saved the pound of stew meat to enjoy beef stew on Friday. I used up all our potatoes, onions and carrots. I typically use a can of condensed tomato soup when I make my stew, but I had none. So I got creative and used up some canned tomato sauce and thickened it with cornstarch and a little sugar. The result was just as good! Our pantry was also pretty darn bare, but I had a box of beer bread mix from Trader Joe's that I had been saving. So I baked it to go along with the stew and it was delicious. The kids didn't care for this dinner, but Adam and I enjoyed it. Recipe for my Mom's Beef Stew is in this post:

By Friday night our refrigerator was bare. All that was left in our freezer was 2 salmon fillets, 1 ball of pizza dough, and the leftover split pea soup. I did get out over the weekend to go grocery shopping, but now I've got 2 sick kids. So our meals this week will likely be pretty unglamorous again! Once everyone is healthy I'd like to have a little fun and make some recipes I keep seeing on Pinterest. Any favorite Pinterest recipes you care to share?

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