Thursday, February 5, 2015

No Spend February

We're challenging ourselves this month to eat from the pantry, fridge, and freezer as much as possible.  We will buy a few fresh produce items, dairy (cheese, milk, etc.), but we'll also make use of our stock of frozen veggies and evaporated and powdered milk.

We issued this challenge because we knew we were facing some car maintenance and repairs this month, so spending less in the grocery budget freed up these funds for the car repairs.  (The Jetta needed new tires and breaks and the check engine light just came on for the fuel sensor in the Subaru.)

This challenge was also a little easier to do this month, since February is a shorter month.  Additionally, we knew that we'd have at least six meals covered, since we were doing two potlucks and four Sunday dinners with my mom.

So, here's most of the menu for the month.  This, of course, is subject to change a bit as we're gifted food or come along freebies (like I saw free hard shell tacos at HT this week with a coupon).

Breakfasts:  Panera bagels (free with gift card), cranberry muffins, lemon poppyseed muffins, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, banana nut muffins, egg and cheese bagel sandwiches

Lunches:  Leftovers, pasta salad with tuna, frozen peas, and basil, fruit, homemade yogurt

Dinners:  potato soup with garlic toast, quiche and roasted veggies, tomato basil soup, sesame orange stir fry with veggies, jambalya, winter white lasagna with pesto and steamed veggies, pesto pizza with green peppers, mushrooms, and ham (in the freezer from Christmas), fried rice, sauteed cabbage with peppers, potatoes, and sausage, beans and rice with fixins, chili with corn bread, loaded baked potatoes with chili, cheese, and sour cream, meatball subs (meatballs purchased on sale with coupon for 80 cents a bag), lentil sloppy joes, tacos or burritos with cilantro lime rice (cilantro butter is in the freezer from this summer) squash (winter squash frozen from the fall), beans, and toppings (homemade peach salsa canned this summer, homemade yogurt, cheese, olives, etc.).

We've discovered that The Prudent Homemaker's tomato basil soup makes a great base for meatballs and lentil sloppy joes, so making a big batch in the crockpot yields us several meals.  It's nice that the recipe has carrots, so it ups the nutritional content.  Creatively using leftovers to make a new meal keeps things from getting old.  We'll do this again with loaded baked potatoes with chili, since we'll have chili earlier that week.

To make the produce cost less this month, we'll purchase from the discounted produce rack.  I have discovered that Saturday mornings early seem to be a good time to do grocery shopping, since no one's out yet at 7:30 and it's when the produce managers seem to clear out things.  We were also able to glean several bags of broccoli and beets last week for the chickens and our compost from the produce department's waste bin, which was really nice.  Some of it was still good enough for us to eat.  It hurt my green-loving heart to leave the rest behind, but I didn't want to take advantage of such a gift either.

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