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Monday, January 30, 2012

End of the Pantry Challenge

Spending for last week:

  • $21.50 for Bountiful Basket and extras that I split with friends (that's what I ended up paying)
That means that I went over my $100 goal by less than a dollar. Not too shabby. As long as I can stay out of the grocery store until Wednesday.
 For the last two days of the pantry challenge lunches are (have been) consisting of soup, sandwiches and mac and cheese. (Someday they'll get over this food jag.) For dinner tonight I made Chilean Lime Beans and Rice, it went well. Then we made cookies from ingredients in the pantry for family night. Tomorrow we'll have beans and rice again, because goodness it made a lot. I put a bunch in the freezer and we still have quite a bit in the fridge.
 I was hoping that this experiment would use up lots of the contents of my pantry. We didn't use as much as I hoped. We did however, try four new recipes using food storage that were successful, eat lots of fresh produce, cleared out some space in my freezer and saved a fair amount of cash. Looking at my pantry I feel like I need to do this for another month to get things cleared out and rotated. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. I hope that my experience encouraged you to try a few new recipes and make use of the things that you have in your pantry.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Food Storage Friday: Cranberry Upside-Down Breakfast Cake

I found this recipe in the newspaper a couple weeks ago and made it for my family last weekend (adapted using food storage). It was delicious and helped me use some of the very large bag of cranberries that I have in my freezer. (That's three experimental recipes in a row and they were all winners! Score!) My family made this disappear fast. We will definitely be making this again, but only for special occasions, because it is very sugary.

Cranberry Upside-Down Breakfast Cake
Food Storage Ingredients:
1/4 cup of chopped almonds
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

Fresh Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, divided & softened
1 tsp orange rind
5 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used rice milk with vinegar.)
1 & 1/2 cup fresh cranberries (or frozen and defrosted)
1 heaping Tbsp ground flax seed

1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9" square or round pan with cooking spray and dust with flour. 2. In a small bowl combine almonds, cranberries, and orange rind. 3. In a small saucepan combine three Tablespoons orange juice, two Tablespoons butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir constantly for three minutes and pour into pan. Cover with cranberry mixture. 3. Whisk flours, salt, flax seed and baking soda in a medium bowl. 4.In a large bowl, beat white sugar and remaining butter until creamy. Add vanilla, egg and flour mixture. Spoon over cranberries. 5. Bake for 40 minutes or until passes toothpick test. Cool in pan for 5 minutes while making glaze. 6. Mix remaining orange juice and powdered sugar until smooth. Pour over inverted cake.
Notes: I was surprised that it turned out looking as well as it did, because after I inverted it about 90% of the sugary coating was stuck to the bottom of the pan. Wha? I used a non-stick silicone pan and sprayed and flour it. So I scraped the sugary mess out of the pan with a fork and then arranged it back on the cake. Most of the cranberries had migrated into the cake, but the nuts were left behind in the pan with the sugar. Now that won't do. That orange glaze really helped with the appearance of the cake. So just make sure that you HEAVILY grease your pan.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pantry Challenge Week 4

I meant to put this up yesterday, but family and friends come before blogging.
Grocery spending last week:
  • Whole wheat hamburger buns- $2.45
  • 2 cans pinto beans- $1.08
  • 2 gallons milk- $4.25
  • package of tortillas- $1
  • package of pretzels- 50 cents (after coupon)
  • package of Yoplait- free (after coupon)
  • can of Carnation Instant Breakfast- $3.70 (after coupon)
  • Bountiful Basket (apples, bananas, pears, oranges, cauliflower, broccoli, kiwis, pomegranates, lettuce, corn on the cob)  + bread pack that I split with my mom- $12
Total- $26.36 after tax
Total for the month so far- $79.36

Now I have to admit that I cheated. My family was visiting from out of town and we took them to lunch. Lunch for 5 adults and 2 children came to $59. Not really compatible with the $100 challenge. But I'm not going to be a bad hostess just because I'm doing some crazy pantry challenge. And I did make them eat food storage experiments for their other meals, which actually turned out pretty good. And I never got around to making the BBQ beans because I had too many other leftovers.

Menu Plan:

Ramen noodles (my kids love them)
shells and cheese

BBQ beans
Whole Grain Vegetable Lasagna*
Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower
Cream of Vegetable Chowder If you want to add chicken, be my guest.
Taco Salad

Sides & Snacks
Corn on the Cob
roasted vegetables
fresh fruit
homemade bread and jam

*If you live in the Utah county area there is a Stouffer's thrift store near the plant in Springville, UT. Anything that isn't perfect goes to the thrift store. This could mean that they messed up the product, but most often it means that the package is under or overweight. Recently when my mom was there she found frozen Whole Grain Vegetable Lasagnas for $1.99 each, so she brought a few down when she came to visit. They tasted great. Hope that helps someone who is trying to get dinner on the table for less without spending their lives in the kitchen. :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Food Storage Friday: Reuben Pinto Burgers

I found this recipe in the newspaper last Sunday. My burgers don't look as pretty, but they were very tasty, and really that's all that matters. (Ok, they are healthier than a standard burger, and I suppose that matters for something too.) If you are not fan of sauerkraut, you can easily change the toppings to make it whatever burger tickles your fancy.

Reuben Pinto Burgers
Food Storage Ingredients:
2 cans (15.5 oz)  pinto beans, liquid drained, 1 can mashed with a fork
1 can (14.5) sauerkraut, drained
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup light mayonaise or Miracle Whip
2 Tablespoons of chili sauce

Fresh Ingredients:
1 & 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 thin slices Swiss cheese
6 whole wheat hamburger buns

1. Mix beans, bread crumbs, eggs, pepper, and garlic in a bowl. Form into six patties (Roughly 4"). 2.Mix chili sauce and mayo, set aside. 3. Place a slice of cheese on each half bun. Toast at 300 degrees F for about 5 minutes. 4. While toasting buns, heat oil in a large skillet. 5. Cook patties in hot oil until crisp on both sides (8-10 minutes total). 6. Assemble burgers with sauce on each side of bun and sauerkraut on top of patty.

Notes: The recipe I read said to drain and reserve liquid from canned beans, then add it to patty mixture for moisture. I found them to be plenty moist without it. I'll have to try this recipe with cooked dry pinto beans and with various burger toppings. I made my bread crumbs by toasting a couple of smashed freezer burnt Kaiser rolls that I found buried in my freezer and added a dash of Kirkland's organic no-salt seasoning. I highly recommend. I also used Monterrey Jack instead of Swiss, because that is what I had in my fridge. Still good.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pantry Challenge Week 3

Did you have a great holiday with your kids? We did. House cleaning and blogging didn't happen, but we had fun. So Heather had dreams of books I was going to review and various prizes I was going to give away this month, but I was forgetting 'I am a mother of three now'. I never have as much time as I am hoping for. And things always come up. Anywho, moving forward.
 Here was my grocery spending breakdown for last week:

  • Cilantro, a pepper and green onions- $1.90
  • milk- $2.89
  • greek yogurt- $3.59 ( I used it to make tzatziki sauce out of my cucumber. That recipe was a failure.)
  • bread- $2.34
  • ice cream- $2 (It was a prize on the chore chart.)
So that's roughly $13.

 No complaints from my family yet on using the things that we have. Of course the kids just finished the last of the chicken nuggets and I'm not buying anymore before February. We'll see how that goes. I still have a fair amount of fresh produce including a squash that's been in my fridge since before Christmas, so I'm trying to use up those things.

Here's the meal plan for this week:
Upside Down Cranberry Cake- If it turns out well I'll put it up here.

shells and cheese
stir-fried veggies with brown rice and plum sauce

Reuben Pinto Burgers- Another new recipe
Hippie Tacos (Vegetarian style)
BBQ Beans  (Again, sans meat)
Squash Quesadillas with Apple Salsa- Looks good, going to give it a whirl
Cream of Mushroom soup- good ol' standby
Green eggs and Spam- The green eggs are made with pureed spinach. My daughter is a big fan of sauteed Spam; it tastes like thick bacon. I'm not so much.

More tangerines, pears and apples
Homemade bread (universe willing)

What fun things are you eating? And how are you trying to use what's in your pantry?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Some Days Are Hard and Some Days Your Kids Actually Listen

 One morning, a couple days ago, when my alarm went off I wished that I could be someone else. Someone without a splitting headache. Someone without an appointment for a root canal. Cindy Lou Who (4 & 1/2 months) had woke me up four times because she had an ear infection. Thing 2 (4 years) peed the bed twice and woke us up one other time wanting chocolate milk. (Which we didn't give him.) Of course, the three times he woke us up didn't coincide with the four times that she woke up. Life working out the way it does, the root canal cost a lot more than they said it would and my mouth didn't start feeling numb until 10 minutes after the procedure. Fantastic.
 I was certain that considering Murphy's Law my children would bicker all day and be totally uncooperative. I have heard many times that the greatest influence that a woman can have on the world is through raising her own children to be good people. As I drove home from the endodontist I was considering if that is really true. I have a friend from nursing school who went on to be a nurse midwife. She has not had the opportunity to marry and have children and now volunteers in third world countries helping to deliver babies. Right now she's in the Philippines. (Did you know that in many countries girls are more likely to die in childbirth than go to school? On that topic, here is an awesome video if you have the time to watch it.) So I was thinking 'Am I really making more of a difference going through all that have been going through for my family, than if I were volunteering somewhere and saving lives all day every day?' The past five months have easily been the hardest of my life. I have been hit by one crisis after another.
 After I got home my husband looked at me in my pathetic state on the couch and said "If there was anyway that I could stay home from work today and help you out, I would." But he has a job to do and we need him to do it. I just prayed that I wouldn't snap and yell at my children. I was ready for the worst day ever.
 But that's not what happened. Soon after I got home Cindy Lou Who woke up and gave me an enormous smile like she was so excited to see me. My children have a tendency to not want to clean up after themselves. Yes, I know that is typical for their age, but they tend to be a little worse than average. But miraculously they actually cooperated. They each cleaned their rooms for ten minutes without a fight. They each picked up all of their things that were in the living room. Thing 1 (6 years) let me brush her hair without running and hiding. Thing 2 didn't put his pants on backwards.They ate a balanced lunch and Thing 1 got to school on time. Cindy Lou Who let me set her down long enough so that I could vacuum the living room and load the dishwasher while Thing 2 quietly played with Play Doh at the table. After school Thing 1 did her homework without threats. At dinner we had fresh veggies and dip and she tried one of every kind. Thing 2 wasn't so bold, but he ate a banana and the insides of his sandwich. It was like all of the lessons (battles) that I have been trying so hard lately to teach my kids were actually sinking in. I am actually making a difference. They may actually turn into healthy productive adults. Wahoo! Someday when my kids are older I may do my part to save the world, but I would not trade my time with them right now for anything.

Monday, January 9, 2012

$100 Challenge Week 2 and giveaway winner

So spending $100 or less looks like it is going to be harder than I thought. Partly because I didn't do much grocery shopping for most of December because we were out of town so much. The end of week 1 and I've already spent almost half my budget. However, I now have enough produce to last me at least a couple weeks.
Here's the breakdown:

  •  Bountiful Basket- $15 (cucumber, radishes, lettuce, spinach. avocados, broccoli, tomatoes, oranges, apples, bananas, pears, grapes, and blackberries)
  •  Italian Pack- $8.50 (eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, garlic and fresh herbs. If you have never tried this you should, it makes my fridge and kitchen smell like heaven.)
  •  38 lb case of tangerines- $15
  •  BB handling fee- $1.50
 But then I split the case of tangerines with two friends, so they each gave me back $5.
Produce total= $30
  • milk- $1.61 after coupon
  • olive oil- 2 (17 oz) bottles @ $1.99 each (How can I resist that price?)
  • Yoplait yogurts- 10 @ 40 cents each (When my children request healthy snacks I really try to make it work. And this is a challenge, not a punishment.)
Grocery total $40.03 (including tax)

I never made Taco Soup last week, because we had enough leftovers to cover meals without. Nor did I make wheatberry salsa, but both of will hit the menu again this week because I opened  tortilla chips for the BBQ Wheat salad and I want to use those before they go stale. In fact BBQ Wheat salad is making a reappearance because I have all the ingredients for it and Thing 1 has decided that she really likes it (as do my husband and I). Also my children requested (and gobbled) scrambled eggs with mushrooms and toast. Fine. Little do they know that I made it with half dry powdered eggs. (I'm still getting them to eat healthy meals built around my food storage, so I'm happy.)

Breakfast and Lunch are more or less the same story as last week. Variety is not a priority for my children. I will also make muffins out of one of the instant mixes that is in the pantry.

Eggplant Parmesean
Fresh Pesto and Pasta (Pasta and Red Sauce for the kids)
Tomato Basil Soup with toasted rosemary sourdough bread
Green Eggs and Ham (Made with spinach)

Snacks and Sides
fresh fruit
Wheatberry Salsa
roasted zucchini with caramelized tomatoes
fresh veggies and dip
green salad

And the winner of I Dare You to Eat It by Liesa Card is April Evans. Congrats! Now you are on your way to tasty and realistic adventures with food storage. Stay tuned for another giveaway later this week.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Food Storage Friday: Baked Apple Pancakes

I based this recipe off one that I found in a food storage cookbook a few years ago. I know I found it in a food storage cookbook, but that doesn't mean that I would consider a food storage recipe since the only food storage ingredients that it called for were white flour, white sugar and spices. That's not really using your food storage, those are just common baking ingredients. It's like saying that living off Cheetos and breadsticks makes you a vegetarian. All-purpose white wheat flour is not meant for long term storage, it loses it's nutritional value too quickly. This dish is however tasty, and I changed the recipe so that it does actually incorporate food storage ingredients by substituting oat flour. I make my own oat flour by throwing oats in the blender for 10 seconds. Oats have a significantly longer shelf life than white flour. I make this whenever I have apples that have gone a little soft, but haven't gone bad yet. It is a favorite of Thing 1's. As I am currently doing the pantry challenge I used powdered eggs from my food storage. This time I used almond milk, but I have also made this with reconstituted powdered milk and it has worked just fine.

Baked Apple Pancake
Food Storage Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash nutmeg
1 cup oat flour
1 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar (optional)
maple syrup (optional)
1 heaping tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)

Fresh Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons butter
2 apples, cored and diced
1 cup milk
6 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 2. In a frying pan saute diced apples with butter, cinnamon and sugar until tender. Transfer to a sprayed cooking pan. 3. In a blender whip eggs, flour, milk, salt, nutmeg and flax seed. Pour over cooked apples. 4. Bake for 16-18 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar or top with syrup. Serves 6 and reheats well.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Preparedness Wednesday: December in Review

Oops! Took the kids to the pediatrician this morning and had this set to publish automatically before I finished it. 
For those of you just tuning in, every week of 2011 I tried to do something to get my house in order (fix things, get out of debt, etc.) and purchase something to add to my emergency supply. If you are interested in following deals as I find them I post them on my public facebook profile.

  • Installed a coat hook rack in my entry way. *Hopefully* this will make finding coats and getting out the door a little easier.
  • Did a little research on supplies that are good to have in an emergency. Besides food, water, and toilet paper, a few suggestions that I repeatedly saw included: iodine water tablets, tarps, solar blankets and a shovel. I also bought some heavy duty plastic pins to put these items into.
  • Bought several plastic bins to put toys in. At some point I will have enough time and motivation to organize all of the toys, so they will be in these bins and not on the floor. Someday...
Emergency Preparedness:
  • Pompeian Olive Oil- $3.99 for 48 oz @ Albertson's
  • case of Charmin from Amazon- 21 cents per roll
  • more peanut butter from Amazon- I can't remember how much it cost, but when I signed up for it to come automatically it was a great deal.
  • brown rice- $13 for 20 lbs @ Costco
  • #10 can of freeze-dried strawberries- $8.79 @ Costco

Monday, January 2, 2012

$100 Challenge and Menu Week 1

Happy New Year everyone!
 So it's a new year and one of my resolutions is to organize (and maintain) my pantry. In order to do this I need to clean it out, which from what I've read is something that you should do once a year anyway. So I'm going to try to live off my pantry this month and to make it slightly more realistic I'm giving myself a budget of $100 for groceries (food storage meals go down easier with some fresh produce). So this month I'll give you a rundown of how much I'm spending and what we're eating. Hopefully it will give you some ideas to use your own food storage and save some money. And there will be prizes!
 So here's what we're eating this week. (I have to have multiple meals sometimes because my husband is a vegetarian and I have my own dietary restrictions.) On weekends and holidays, I tend to make big batches of breakfast foods like waffles and use the leftovers throughout the next week. This week I'm also focusing on using a lot produce that's in my fridge.

Pumpkin Waffles
Baked Apple Pancakes
cold cereal

mac and cheese (for the kids)

BBQ Chicken and Wheat Salad (without the chicken)
Stir-fried Green Beans & Brown Rice and Tropical Sweet Potato Casserole
Hawaiian Haystacks
Red Pepper Pesto and Pasta
Taco Soup (Vegetarian style)

Wheatberry Salsa and chips
fresh apples
canned peaches
crackers and cheese

Now for this weeks giveaway: I'm going to give away a copy of I Dare You To Eat It by Liesa Card. This is my favorite food storage book. If you have no idea where to start with your food storage, this book is a great starting place. It's full of tips and ideas that make using your food storage feasible. Here's what you have to do to enter:

  1. Be a follower of Secrets of Mom (required) and comment on this post.
  2. Join the $100 Challenge and comment.
  3. Share your favorite food storage recipe.
  4. Share this post on twitter.
The winner will be chosen using a random number generator. The giveaway ends at midnight on Sunday January 8, 2012. The winner will be announced Monday morning. Keep checking for more recipes and giveaways throughout the month.