You know we've always loved to cook. That is evident by the number of recipes you'll see posted throughout the years. And you know that January is always a lean month for teachers, since we get paid prior to the holiday break and then don't get paid again until the end of the month. So, here's the third edition of our rock whatcha got January menu, where we try to live out of the pantry and freezer as much as possible so we don't spend as much of our grocery money.
But first, a few tips to share about pantry and freezer cooking, and frugal cooking in general. 1) Veggies are almost always cheaper, healthier, and more filling than meat, especially when you add beans and some grain. 2) Stretch a dollar by having soup at least once a week. We have soup 2-3 times a week to stretch even further. 3) Sugars and oils are expensive. Where possible, we use oil in baking instead of butter, or go halfsies and use some of each. We also save bacon drippings for future use. They're great for frying eggs or greasing a cornbread pan (though not when our vegetarian friends are around.) I generally cut the amount of sugar in a baking recipe down by at least 1/4 cup. You can't tell the difference in taste, it's healthier, and saves more for the next batch. 4) Leftovers rock! They're great for lunches or a quick weeknight dinner. Or remix them into a burrito, soup, or some other dish that makes sense. 5) Bake your own...it's almost always cheaper and healthier. And if you do it in a huge batch, then you save energy by only heating the oven once.
So, on to our January menu. After assessing the holiday leftovers, pantry, freezer, and knowing what was coming in our spice order from San Francisco Herb Company, I compiled the following menu.
Egg and cheese sandwiches using this french bread recipe (which will also be used for serving with soups)
Fruit salad (using some gifted fruit, leftovers from church, and grapefruit from our bulk order from Rotary Club)
Oatmeal or baked oatmeal (Simply in Season has the best recipe for baked oatmeal)
Lemon poppy seed muffins
Toast and homemade jam
Soups and Stews:
Turkey Soup with leftover carrots, celery, onion, and frozen swiss chard from our summer CSA, and of course leftover holiday turkey
Potato Soup using gifted potatoes and homemade turkey stock
White Lasagna with pesto and butternut squash
Pasta bake with gifted pasta and homemade pesto
Pizza (you know it's our Friday night go-to) with whatever sauce and toppings we have on hand
Miscellaneous fillers and snacks:
Whole wheat pancakes and fruit
Veggie stir fry with bean sprouts (I got a sprouter kit for Christmas which I'm super excited to try out!)
Candied grapefruit peel
All told, I think we'll end up spending maybe $25 on groceries this month, which include cheese, milk, and a few vegetables. What about you? How are your pantry and freezer menus coming? I'd love to hear from you! Here's to living and saving green in the New Year!