Beth’s Birthday Week Menu 7/11-7/17

Ok well Beth’s birthday isn’t technically until the 19th, but since budgets are tight and I won’t be able buy Beth a big expensive birthday present like I would like to, I have decided to stretch her birthday out over the next 8days (ok so a little over a week) and give her all of her favorite meals I make, and continue the 23 things I love about my wife project ūüôā Here is a menu of mostly her choosing with a few surprises by me thrown in there…

Its Hard when you love someone so much, that you literally want to give them the world, but can’t afford even one nice expensive dinner at a classy restaurant for a birthday dinner. But as I am learning, sometimes the one you love doesn’t need fancy things, or expensive dinners…all they need is a small gift thoughtfully purchased (or made) and wrapped in love. (cheesy I know) I know this is true for Beth, especially this year, I think me NOT breaking our budget and spending tons of money on her, means more than anything else. Its her money anyway since I am still out of work. I would encourage those of you with a tight budget and even those with looser (or no) budgets to think about doing the small things for the ones you love, instead of just buying them gifts. Write love notes, Bring her/his coffee at work, make her/his favorite dinner, rent her/his favorite movie, Make a mix tape (or cd) of songs that make you think of her/him. Do something out of your comfort zone for your partner. For me this includes: Cleaning the house (which I know how to do, I just really don’t like doing it.), Making her favorite desserts (I suck at baking but I am learning because she has a massive sweet tooth…lol), Write Music and poetry (Beth has always told me she wants to be the girl someone sings about, so I have been trying for the past 2 years to successfully write a song that doesn’t sound stupid…I have not accomplished this goal…I SUUUUUUCK at writing songs….I’m just too sappy). These are just ideas, it really all depends on what means the most to your partner/significant other…make a point to learn those things, then Get creative, and show her/him, how important they are to you!

Ok ok enough of the speech…Heres Beth’s Birthday Menu

Wednesday: Dinner at Aunt Mary’s

Thursday: Twice Baked Potatoes and Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Mandarine Chicken Salad

Sunday: BBQ Chicken Pizza

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Shrimp Alfredo and Veggies ūüôā

In addition I am hoping to try and make a pie at some point this week, as well as trying my hand at pickling green beans via the refrigerator. Be on the look out for some fun posts this week!

Let your Adventurous Chef Thrive
~S.

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Well this is a little late…

Happy 4th everybody lol

So with this week having a major national holiday smack dab in the middle of the week it has thrown off my schedule. I did not make it to the store on wednesday obviously…So now I am making a last minute run to stock up on fresh veggies and¬†necessities¬†to make it through to next wednesday. This weeks menu is going to obviously be a little short. But here it is none the less

Friday: BLT’s with Egg (If you’ve never tried a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich with a fried egg in the middle DO IT NOW! it will change your life)

Saturday: Asian Chicken Salad

Sunday: Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza and Movie date night

Monday: Penne Carbonara with Peas and Salad

Tuesday: Leftovers ūüôā

Heres my grocery list:

eggs
butter
Yogurt
Cream
Parmesan Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese

Lettuce (x3)
Green Onion
Red Onion
Sugar Snap Peas

Raisins
Honey
Manderine Oranges

Chicken and Turkey if they are on sale.

Budget: $30

 

Update: Well I’m back from the store and guess what the trip came in at :$30.73 ūüôā AND I got a few extra things that were on sale. So here is the breakdown of what I purchased

1 PINT Organic Milk $2.59 (I got really excited and had to buy it because there on the front was Beth’s Cousin Zeb and Wife Meridith. ūüôā In case you didn’t know Beth’s family owns and operates a large Organic Dairy Ranch in Central California.)
Half and Half $1.19
Parmesan $2.34
Shredded Mozzarella $3.05
Darigold Butter $2.99
Medium Eggs $1.59

Bananas (On sale at $0.59 lb) – $1.36
Pineapple (On Sale) $2.99
1 lb Carrots (On Sale) $0.69
Green Onions $0.59
Iceberg Lettuce (On Sale 4 for $5) $1.25
Romane Lettuce (On Sale) $0.88
Red Onion (On Sale $0.77 lb) $0.50
Ginger $0.20
Roma Tomatoes $0.74
1 Cherry Fruit Leather (I was hungry) $0.50
Raisins $3.29
Honey $3.99

So there you have it. Total: $30.73

Alright, Well its time for this chef, to get into the kitchen!

Be on the look out this week for a few new recipes I am planning on posting at least 1 for my version of Pasta Carbonara. A Lighter healthier version, hopefully.

Keep up the Good Cooking and I’ll be back with recipes in a few days!

Dining out vs Cooking in

Do you know the national average monthly food budget?…I didn’t…and let me just say…WOW! Turns out the national average monthly food cost for 2 people on a MODERATE BUDGET is $595.70!!! with about 7.5% being used for groceries. So lets talk about that little %2.5. Dining out at restaurants is sometimes delicious, mostly fun and always easy and¬†convenient¬†but is it worth it? ¬†This brings us to our topic of the day…Eating out at restaurants vs Cooking and eating at home. Heres how this is going to work…I’m going to start with my Menu for this week, give you the cost per meal (portion # included) then I am going to try and compare that to a menu of the same food (or as close as I can find) with cost per meal (portion # included) as well. This should get interesting.

Menu 6/27 – 7/05

Wednesday: Pollo Asado, Black Beans, Rice, Salsa, Tostones

Thursday: Tuna Melts (on healthy whole wheat bread), Potato and Lemon Salad, Roasted Tomatoes.

Friday: Turkey Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, and Broccoli

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Homemade Pizza with Bacon, Onions and Black olives

Monday: Chicken Quesadillas, with caramelized onions and Salsa

Tuesday: Leftovers

OK onto MY Menu Cost breakdown

Pollo Asado, Black Beans, Rice, Salsa, Tostones = $7.19 for 4 Servings

Tuna Melts, Potato and Lemon Salad, and Roasted tomatoes with Sage =  10.21 for 6 servings

Turkey Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli = 6.72 for 2 servings

So upon calculating the first 3 I’ve realized this really takes forever, so I’m going to stop at 3 because with these I can show you price comparisons with the 3 basic types of restaurants, Fast Food, Fast Casual, and Casual Dining. Just in case these terms confuse you heres what they mean

Fast food:¬†Fast food restaurants emphasize speed of service. Operations range from small-scale street vendors with carts to mega-corporations like¬†McDonald’s. Also known as a QSR or Quick Serve Restaurant.

Fast Casual:  Fast casual restaurants usually do not offer full table service, but may offer non-disposable plates and cutlery. The quality of food and prices tend to be higher than those of a conventional fast food restaurant but may be lower than casual dining

Casual: A casual dining restaurant is a restaurant that serves moderately-priced food in a casual atmosphere. Except for buffet-style restaurants, casual dining restaurants typically provide table service. Casual dining comprises a market segment between fast food establishments and fine dining restaurants. Casual dining restaurants often have a full bar with separate bar staff, a larger beer menu and a limited wine menu. They are frequently, but not necessarily, part of a wider chain, particularly in the United States.

These are the 3 most common types of Restaurants in the US.

Pollo Asado Meal
(Fast Casual Dining) Pollo Tropical: Is South Floridian Favorite. It is a fast casual type restaurant, much like chipotle where you get in line and order, then sit down and they bring you your food. It is also the restaurant upon which I base my Pollo Asado Recipe ūüôā
Chicken family Meal – 10.99 for 4 servings of chicken and 4 rolls, sides are 2.50 each. So adding a side for each of mine (minus the salsa cuz that is free at pollo) = 15.99 for 4 servings

Tuna Melt Meal
(Fast Food) Subway: Now I love subway every once and a while…a chicken bacon ranch sandwich when you are craving one really hits the spot but TUNA is a WHOLE other ball game you willing to sacrifice quality and risk your health by partaking in a tuna sandwich from subway just for the convenience of not having to MIX up the 5 ingredients yourself? ..ugh just thinking about fish + mayo sitting out at just below room temp for hours grosses me out.
1 footlong Tuna sub = 6.25 with no sides. So I will wager that 1 foot long equals about 2 to 3 melts. depending on the size of bread you use. Mine will fall more toward the 3. Still you do the math, for you to purchase a complete meal from subway including chips and a drink is an extra 2.25. to purchase the same amount of sides and drink with your “3” tuna melt servings would be 6.25+6.75= $13.00 for less than half as much food.

Turkey Meatloaf Meal
(Casual Dining) Marie Callender’s: Now I have never personally eaten at this restaurant, but they are HUGE in California, and apparently they are pretty good. Here’s the thing though, I can understand paying for HIGH quality food, and amazing atmosphere. But when a restaurant is reviewed as an expensive IHOP is not really a place I can see paying $30.00 ¬†or more for 2 people.
The price of their meatloaf, mashed potatoes and Veggies = $15.29 for 1 serving.

Hopefully, you understand what I’m talking about here. I’m not against going out to eat, in fact Beth and I save a specific part of our budget to allow us to go out to eat once on the weekends. We set aside $30 a week, which we can use to either go out to get something cheap-ish like subway or In and Out 2 times, or something more expensive like marie callender’s or Jack’s Urban Eats once. Once that money is gone, we do not go out again, until we refill that part of the budget. It helps us save money by limiting ourselves. Because lets face it, it is nearly impossible to say “NO MORE EATING OUT” there are stressful days where no one feels like cooking, and days when you just simply don’t have time and THATS OK! Just try to plan ahead for them, and set modest goals for yourself. When we decided it was time to cut back on eating at restaurants we were going out to eat somewhere 4-5 nights a week. So Beth and I started out cutting it back to $60 for going out weekly, for about 3 or 4 months before we cut it down to $30 a week. Hopefully one day we will cut it back to $15 a week (or $30 every 2 weeks). I am still new to this whole concept of Budgeting food, but I believe budgeting in all senses is a learning process, so I am learning as I go!

What tips and tricks do you use to help keep your food budget low?

Thanks for reading!

Menu Time again…already?

Hello all,

Its that time again…Weekly menu time. This week though the goal for me is to make a menu using ONLY the items left in my fridge. What!? I know its crazy but heres the reason.

This past weekend we had some friends in from out of town, we went out to lunch on Sunday and had some unexpected food purchases for dinner sunday night. So, since I’ve spent over my budgeted amount for last week, it cuts into my budget for this week. Now this wouldn’t be a huge problem if I had more than $200 a month in food stamps (yes I said food stamps) to spend on groceries. I don’t, and I can’t get any more until the 3rd of next month, so I have to make the $40 I have left, last through the 3rd. See my problem? So Todays post is going to be all about how to get creative with a limited selection of ingredients, aaaaand also how to keep your meals healthy.

Step 1…Take stock of your fridge and pantry (this is by far my LEAST favorite task of all food related chores) I usually take a piece of paper or notebook and hunker down in front of the fridge, cleaning out the bad food while writing down the amount of¬†useable¬†food we have left.

Now as you guys probably already know I keep my freezer very well stocked with proteins, so that I don’t have to buy chicken and turkey every week. This is particularly helpful in situations like this, because I know that I don’t have to worry about whether or not we have enough meats to make it through 6 dinners. I also keep my pantry fairly well stocked, I ALWAYS have pasta, and almost always have a selection of beans as well. So really this week the only thing I am worried about is Produce and Dairy

So I’ve taken a look at my fridge and I’m going to list its contents to you and then list the menu and I will outline how much ingredient will be used for each recipe does that make sense?

ok Fridge contents…I’m not going to lie, it was a little scary in there, I have been negelecting to clean out my fridge for some time now, it was an adventure.

In my fridge I have:

11 eggs
1 small pack grape tomatoes
1 bunch of celery
1 bag of Fava beans (about 15 pods)
3 heads of broccoli
2 halfs of yellow onion
1 half red onion (see what I mean bad about checking the fridge)
1 red pepper
1/2 lb Bacon
2 Roma Tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
3/4 lb yogurt
1/2 iceburg lettuce
1 1/2 Bag green Peas frozen
1 1/4 bag Corn frozen
4 or 5 chicken breasts
3/4 lb Ground Turkey
3/4 gallon Whole Milk
1/2 bag of shredded cheese
1 med potato

WE ARE GOLDEN! As long as I time things right to use the stuff that is going bad first, we have PLENTY to make it through the week! YES!

Menu time!

Wednesday: Pasta Salad (1-2 pieces of bacon, 1/4 cucumber, all grape tomatoes, 1-2 stalks of celery, 1 bag fava beans)

Thursday: summer corn soup (3/4 bag corn, 1 slice bacon, 1 med potato, 1/4 red pepper, 2 stalks celery, chicken stock)

Friday: Turkey Mac and Broccoli Salad (1/2 lb turkey, pasta, 1 can beans, canned tomatoes, katchup and spices Broccoli Salad 1 – 1 1/2 heads broccoli, 1 slice bacon, mayo, raisins, honey or sugar)

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Homemade Pizza (pizza dough homemade, 1 cup premade tomato sauce, 1/2 bag cheese…hmm might have to buy more, toppings)

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Egg Salad Sandwiches and Salad (Bread, Eggs, Mayo, Onion, Celery, Relish, Lettuce, 1 Roma tomato 1/4 cucumber and dressing).

Bam…Thats how we roll. I hope we can stick to it! ūüôā I will be posting a blog on how that summer corn soup turned out!

Whats on YOUR Menu this week? Post a comment below!  

New Plan same Concept

So heres the thing, while I believe BMI (Body Mass Index) is a crock of bull. I also have a very high BMI and know that I am in fact overweight, and I don’t really want to be that way any more. I’ve tried dieting plans before and so far to no avail but I am willing to give it another shot in addition to taking some supplements to help the natural hormones our bodies produce do their job, specifically¬†Testosterone¬†(which women do produce just in much lower amounts…and for some women…like me, Estrogene takes over the¬†Testosterone¬†and makes it into MORE ESTROGENE…lol which causes your body to retain weight even when dieting and exercising). Plus there are some other factors in my life I am considering, which factor in to this decision to want to get in shape…but I’m not ready to talk about that yet. Anyway so I found this fantastic website¬†https://www.choosemyplate.gov/SuperTracker/default.aspx. This was created by the USDA and therefore it is FREE!!! ¬†This website is awesome, you imput your name, age, height and weight, and set a goal for the amount you want to lose, or if you want to simply maintain your weight. Then BAM it sets you up with a portion plan, gives you lists of good foods (and portion sized equivilents) and sets you up with a basic meal plan.

BUT wait theres more! You can also log on and track your eating habits (so long as you keep up with imputing what you are eating) your weight loss, and your excersize routine. You can even set goals in weight loss, physical activities, food groups (like if you have trouble remembering to eat your vegetables) and Calories. Really this thing is awesome.

So the new plan for Beth and I is not so much different from the old one, and I will still be posting and adding recipes. Because for the most part Beth and I do eat healthy we just don’t eat often enough. We are notorious for getting distracted during the day and forgetting to eat more than once throughout the morning and afternoon, so by the time dinner rolls around we over eat. So our plan is to start by adding 2 days of excersise, and eating 3 meals and 2 snacks throughout the day. So far this is what the menu looks like

Meal Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Breakfast6:30 B7:30 S Yogurt, Granola, Fruit Oatmeal, Fruit, Milk Yogurt, Granola, Fruit, Oatmeal, Fruit, Milk Yogurt, Granola, Milk Pancakes, Fruit, Milk Oatmeal, Fruit, Milk
Snack10:00 B&S Banana, Toast Same Same Same Same Same Same
Lunch1:00 B&S Salad, Chicken, Croutons, Dressing, Fruit, Cheese Sandwich, veggies, Cheese, Fruit Leftover Dinner, Fruit, Cheese Sandwich, Veggies, Cheese, Fruit Salad, Chicken, Croutons, Dressing, Fruit, Cheese Leftover Dinner, Fruit, Cheese
Snack3:00 B&S Veggies, Cheese Same Same Same Same Same Same
Dinner6:00 B&S Fritatta w/ Kale, Tomato and Sausage, toasted bread Taco Salad Mustard Glazed Chicken w/ bok choy and Rice Herb Chicken, veggies, Cous Cous TBD Baked Pasta w/ Ground Turkey & Veggies Homemade Pizza

Breakfast Lunch and Snacks probably wont vary from week to week, I love yogurt and granola, and oatmeal with fruit so I am pretty content to stick with this for at least the first 2 weeks, to ease into things and get the routine down before I try to switch up all three meals. Dinner however will always remain interchangable.

So check out the website, even if your not looking to loose weight, its a great way to check out what portion sizes you should be eating and how many calories a normal day should have. Have fun and let me know if you check it out!

Cooking for 2 on a budget

Heres the thing, I have a really hard time finding new and interesting recipes for 2 people geared towards keeping your food budget low…its extremely frustrating. I can find plenty of recipes for 2 people at low cost (most are boring, or really unhealthy and don’t involve a lot of fresh veggies), and plenty of interesting (and expensive) recipes for 2 people. but none that incorporate all three.

So what I am going to try to do…(don’t hold me to this, cuz i could totally fail and forget all about this blog again) is share with you at the beginning of my cooking week (which starts on wednesday…because double ad wednesdays at sprouts are the bomb!) my menu for the week, my grocery list and my final cost. I will throughout the week (meaning hopefully at least once) share recipes and total cost for the meal. Hopefully I will have pictures to show for it too!

I am continually surprised at how little information there is on the internet for this type of budgeting because honestly for the food environment that we live in, it is not that expensive to make quality, delicious and adventurous meals for maybe a little more than what you would pay for convenience, and easy meals such as hamburger helper, or stoffers (which I must confess I partake in on the occasion and always feel guilty for about 2 hours later when I am dying for a bathroom) I am particularly blessed in the area that I live, because central california produces LARGE amounts of produce which supply a large amount of the US we have farmers markets and local stores everywhere! Produce here is easy to come by, so hopefully I will be able to keep up this challenge.

One of the keys to my budgeting strategy is making meals that have ingredient overlap, because many ingredients come in packages much too big for 2 people to consume in one meal, so to off set waste, I overlap ingredients as much as possible.

Another big key to my budgeting strategy is leftovers! I HATE leftovers, but a lot of times I will take my leftover meals and make something new out of them. We try really hard to not waste food. Beth takes leftovers for lunch every day like a trouper! and I use whatever is left for dinners midweek and usually again at the end of the week. This also helps me, because there is usually a night after cooking for 2 – 4 nights in a row that I just want a break. So instead of going out and buying something, or getting something at a restaurant we always check the fridge first.

Also I freeze all my meat and anything else I can. I usually buy it fresh because its easier to find on sale, but the wonderful people at ziplock being the geniuses that they are make portion bags (which at first I thought were an¬†unnecessary¬†expense but after using them once I was hooked!) they are so much easier to use than¬†saran¬†wrap! I bag each individual chicken breast and usually 1/2 lb of ground turkey (or beef). then put them in gallon sized ziplock freezer bags. No more having to thaw out an entire bag of chicken to just get 1 or 2 breasts for dinner! its awesome. I also use frozen peas and corn frequently I add them to soups, pastas or casseroles. They keep for a long time and are a great way to add veggies to things when I’m out of fresh produce (which doesn’t happen often but it does happen!)

The only other tip I can give is COUPON! for anything and everything, but don’t buy things you wont use. Beth Coupons for me, I tell her what I’ll use and she finds coupons for it. We use them mostly for dry goods, that way my pantry stays stocked and I don’t spend too much time and money buying bits and bobs for sauces or sides.

So here is the Menu for this week, and the overall cost will come shortly as I have not made it to the store ūüôā

Wednesday: Bruschetta Chicken w/ Salad

Thursday:¬†Tomato Basil Pizza w/either Sugar Snap Peas or Brussel Sprouts (I haven’t decided)

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Frittata with Kale, Tomato and Chorizo

Sunday: Turkey Meatloaf w/ Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Kale

Monday: Mustard Glazed Chicken w/ Bok Choy

Tuesday: Leftovers

Shopping List: (I usually¬†categorize¬†because I’m anal like that about food)

Basics: (Things I buy and use every week no matter what)

– Milk (1/2 gallon for us cuz we don’t drink a whole lot of milk)
– coffee creamer (cuz beth can’t drink coffee without it)
– Cheese (cuz we like it)
– Eggs (which I’m actually NOT buying this week because we’re overstocked which is weird)

Vege: the x# is how many recipes its used in this week I don’t go buy¬†measurements¬†I go by eye so you’ll have to figure this one out yourself.

– Tomatoes x3 (usually about 2 per recipe for me)
– Lettuce
– SS Peas or Brussel Sprouts
– Kale x2 (which will probably only be one bunch)
– Bok Choy
– Onion (basic staple so I’ll probably get at least 4)
– Potatoes
– Basil x2
– Green onion (also a staple in my house but one bunch is enough for the whole week)

Meat:

– Ground Turkey
– Chorizo
– Lunch Meat
(don’t need chicken this week)

Bread:

– French Bread (Mini Loaf)

Total Cost:______? my estimation is: $35.00 (that is also my weekly budget so we shall see!) I’m off to the store!

SEVERAL HOURS LATER:

Sooooo my trip waaaaas a bit over budget but its the first shopping trip of the month for me, and I didn’t shop last week so its understandable…plus I got alot more than what was on my list…kinda bad on my part but there was sooo much on sale…i couldn’t help myself. here is the actual purchase list

French Bread $0.99
Coffee Beans 1.81 lb @ $7.99/lb – $14.46 (On Sale)
Coffee Creamer $2.49
Whole Milk $1.89 (On Sale)
Bacon $3.01 (On Sale)
Smoked Keilbasa $4.49 (couldn’t find Chorizo)
Chicken Breast $5.59 (On Sale for 2.99/lb!)
Ground Turkey $5.49
Basil $1.99
Bok Choy 1.70lb @ $0.79/lb – $1.34
Brussels Sprouts 0.89 lb @ $1.99/lb – $1.77 (On Sale)
Cucumbers $0.69 (On Sale)
Grape Tomatoes $1.99 (On Sale)
Romaine Lettuce $0.88
Red Lettuce $0.88
Organic Green Kale (They didn’t have non organic :/) $3.98
Rainier Cherries 1.61lb @ $5.99/lb – $9.64 (I know I know….but I LOOOOOOVE them….I can’t resist Rainier Cherries)
Red Potatoes 1.47 lb @ $0.67/lb – $0.98 (On Sale)
Roma Tomatoes 0.78 lb @ $0.88/lb – $0.69 (On Sale)
Yellow Onions 1.57lb @ $0.67/lb – $1.05 (On Sale)

Total with tax : $64.69

Now yes that does seem like a lot for two people…but with the exception of the greens most of that will also go towards next week. In addition to that if you compare my total for that shopping trip with the totals for similar shopping trip to safeway or raley’s mine is much more cost effective. and I¬†guarantee¬†you my produce will last longer.

thats all for now. Perhaps tomorrow I will post about the bruschetta chicken I am making for dinner tonight.