With the new year upon us we're all looking for ways to tighten our belts and purse strings. Even if you're like me and don't make official resolutions just because the year changes, you're probably still aware of all the talk about saving money, exercise, and eating right that is out there right now. These are three things I'm constantly trying to learn more about. Really I'm hoping that one of these times Scott brings home a lottery ticket it'll be a big winner and I can hire a personal trainer to guide me through workouts in my personal gym and a financial planner to make decisions that'll have us set for life and maybe I'll even take some cooking classes. In the meantime, though, I stumble through budgeting, saving, and the rest of it on my own.
With that in mind, I have two tips that have and do work regarding grocery shopping and saving money. When it was just Scott and I, and when Jace was little, I used to shop every 8 or 9 days rather than once a week. I found that once the kids were older I needed a more strict schedule, but I liked stretching the budget past a week. When I went back to once a week shopping I came upon another idea that I still use. I only plan 4 meals a week, at most.
I do plan meals, which I know not everyone does, but otherwise we might not eat! In planning meals I have a grocery list started (which we all know is essential to saving money at the grocery store, right?) and the other 3 days of the week we have leftovers or eat out of the freezer and cupboards. We don't get take out as one of the unplanned meal days. That counts as a planned day. Now, my job is made even easier by the fact that Jace and Gracie make a meal a week, so really I only have to figure out what we're eating twice a week! Cool beans, huh?
Now that I've imparted my wisdom upon you, let me tell you a little story about eating out of the cupboards. I like to leave you with a smile. I'll start at the end.
Last night Scott and I cuddled in bed, without injuring or annoying anyone (check here if you're thinking "huh?") and he said, "I hope this comes out right...I saw you put onions and garlic in a pan on the stove before I went outside. Then I came in for dinner and you put this slop in front of me that looked disgusting and I couldn't even see the onions and garlic that smelled so good before. But then it tasted so good. You're a good cook...somehow."
I was giggling the whole time he talked because I knew exactly what he was saying and he was right on. See, here's what happened. I've made spaghetti sauce before using canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Well, I didn't have any tomato paste, but thought it would probably still work, I'd just need something else to thicken it with. So I started with the onions and garlic, added a couple strips of pepper and a can of diced tomatoes. While I was looking around for something to add for thickness I came upon frozen spinach and thought to myself, "If I puree this and add it in no one will know how healthy this sauce is and it'll be thicker." You might see the flaw in my thinking, but I didn't yet.
I thawed and cooked the spinach, pureed it and added it in, quickly taking the 'spaghetti sauce' from red to a really gross brown green shade of yuck!
I panicked! I quickly put everything in the blender and blended, hoping the chunks of tomato would somehow overcome the intensity of the spinach. No such luck. I opened the other two cans of tomatoes that I had and pureed one and added the other whole. A little better, but still pretty gross looking. A quick search for anything red lead me to sloppy joe seasoning and carrots. I know, carrots aren't red, but they also aren't brown or green. I steamed and pureed the carrots. Yes, my blender got quite the work out! I added them and the sloppy joe mix. Brighter...still not red, but brighter and passable. Maybe just in my mind...but passable.
And it tasted good, so if I could get the kids past the color, well, we might be onto something new.
When it came time for dinner I decided that I wanted garlic bread, but I didn't have any rolls of any kind. We had a few pieces of bread left, but Scott needed them for his lunch today. So I mixed up a batch of drop biscuits, filled them with cheese. I served my spaghetti sauce over the traditional spaghetti noodles and sprinkled it all with shredded cheese, further disguising it!
And it worked. Everyone ate up and enjoyed! Whew!
Scott did admit further confusion brought on my addition of the biscuits. "I saw biscuits and thought biscuits and gravy, but couldn't figure out why there was spaghetti."
"The biscuits weren't biscuits they were garlic bread."
"I didn't taste garlic."
"That's because I forget about that when I decided to stuff them with cheese."
And that's the excitement of a non-planned meal at the Gebel house. Healthy and fun...it's like a game trying to figure out what the meal is! Go on, give it a try!