Sunday, January 12, 2014
Weekly Menu Plan - Tightening Up
We had a better than usual Harvest Day last week. I don't expect we'll see another as good as that one this month or next but we did decide that now was the time to stock up on beef. That good meat market we go to had meat as beautiful as ever and I do think every single bit of it was at $.50/pound higher than it was in October. I altered my list considerably as I gazed upon the prices. Once upon a time I never bought meat that was over $1/pound and then I altered it a few years ago and refused to pay over $2/pound. Well these days it's looking more and more as though I shall have to strive to pay no more than $3.75 a pound. That doesn't mean we'll eat as much beef as ever. No, it means we'll eat less and opt for more poultry and meatless options. It means when we have meat there will be more vegetables and less meat. No big deal. I've lived these days before and we survived quite nicely.
I didn't price any of the pork items since we don't eat it, but my husband tells me that pork prices are due to rise considerably this year. He did tell me why, but I don't recall the reason. Suffice it to say that those of you who do buy pork may find yourselves adjusting to a 'new low' on those purchases as well. I expect Bacon, which is already dear in cost due to being very popular at the moment, will become even more dear.
Prices are changing all around. At Aldi the other day we priced canned corned beef at $3.49 for a 12 ounce (formerly 1 pound) can. They had huge (7-8 pound) corned beefs in the meat case for $3.49 per pound. And then John, who isn't fond of Salmon, picked up a can of Salmon and held it in his hand. I know full well he dislikes it mightily (I don't), so I couldn't for the life of me understand why he was handling it. Then he held it up and said "Look at that...Am I just seeing things?" Well it was the shape of the can that was different, wider at the bottom, narrower at the top, not unlike some of the fancy name brand yogurt containers. Yep, reduction of product strikes again without the reduction of price. Prices they are a-changing and we'd best keep our eyes open and our budgets in mind!
I've been following more and more frugal blogs and love seeing that many are adding their own 'Frugal Doings' each week. It helps to read these posts even if you're very experienced in savings because there's always something new to learn, a tip to remind you of something you'd forgotten, a point to inspire you. As do menu plans. I love that so many people are sharing their menu plans these days. Even if I don't think a menu sounds like something I want, I find myself mentally adjusting it to suit my tastes, which inspires me with my own menu plan.
Lasagna, Italian Green Beans, Green Salad, Garlic Toast
When I made Spaghetti last weekend, I made a double batch of sauce and set aside a quart of it to make lasagna. I will get two entrees from this, making one for the freezer and one for now. I won't cook the one for the freezer but will assemble it. I don't cook noodles any longer for my lasagna and though some say you must have the sort that say "No Boil" on the package, you don't. The sauce and cheese will soften the noodles as they cook and the come out just great, never too soft nor underdone.
Red Beans and Rice, Coleslaw, Corn Muffins, Apple Brown Betty
I generally reserve Apple Brown Betty for a day when I have too many end pieces of bread in the freezer because it is a great way to use up bread, or when I have an apple that is slightly soft. I'm making it this day because it's just plain good, makes the house smell absolutely wonderful with it's cinnamon and brown sugar, and stretches an apple to serve two. Apple Charlotte is another possibility if you've bread slices to use up instead of end pieces.
Turkey and Dressing, Scalloped Potatoes, Butterbeans, Cranberry sauce
I put a pan of turkey and dressing in the freezer back at Thanksgiving as I cleared up our leftovers, just enough for two. I also froze the leftover cranberry sauce and relish, always do and it comes to no harm at all. I don't know anyone who uses a whole can of cranberry sauce if they are a small family and I hate waste. Of course, you can always make that lovely BBQ sauce with chili sauce and leftover cranberry sauce which is excellent on beef meatballs, hot dogs, pork or chicken if you find you've a bit too much on hand even in the freezer.
Enchiladas, Yellow Rice, Orange and Onion Salad with French Dressing
I'll use any leftover red beans, a little ground beef to make the enchilada filling, and if I've no leftover beans, I'll use some of the canned ones I keep on hand. This year, I plan to move away from canned beans and buy and cook more dried beans. I can freeze them in entree sized portions and have the same convenience at a lesser cost, even less than the price of beans bought on sale...unless of course, I can get them FREE, which does sometimes occur with a really good sale and coupons.
Vegetable Soup, Lacy Cornbread, Molten Butterscotch Cakes
I was going to ask for beef bones for soup while at the meat market but happened to overhear another woman ask and there were NONE, not a bit of them the butcher said, he'd been through the freezer, top to bottom looking for them and they were gone. No doubt they went through the lot of them during that hard freeze we had last week. I'll add a little ground beef, only because I expect to use half a package in the making of the enchiladas (about 1/4 pound) and the little leftover will add a nice meaty flavor without relying too heavily on the meat. I've a bag of scrips and scraps of leftover vegetables from cooking the past two months that I will use to make my soup, with bouillon cubes to make my broth.
The Molten Butterscotch Cake is from Betty Crocker recipe site. It uses graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and butterscotch chips. I'm curious to try this...and only hope it won't prove as addictive as the Chocolate Molten Lava Cake!
BBQ Chicken, Southern Style Cream Corn, Black Eyed Peas, Fried Okra
This is the sort of meal I grew up eating. Everything from the freezer, the vegetables put up in the summer while at the peak of freshness (except for the okra, that was bought at the store). I always chop a little onion to top the peas. The bite of the raw onion just does something for them. Back in my youth, those peas would have a slice of bacon or bit of ham fat in them to season them up. I admit I like the smokiness associated with the pork but I'll use a bone from a smoked turkey to add my smoky taste to the peas.
Cream of Potato Soup, Monte Cristo Sandwiches, Clementines
I've been craving soup since winter got here. I decided I'd just make it and freeze leftovers in one serving portions, so here's my second shot at soup this week.
I'll use turkey in my sandwiches and a homemade Russian dressing for a bit of added flavor. Not at all hard to make that Russian dressing: 1 tbsp each very finely minced onion, red and green bell pepper, a tbsp of ketchup (chili sauce is even better, cocktail sauce if that's what you have) and 1/2 cup of mayonnaise. Delicious as a sandwich spread or over salad, especially a salad with shredded beets and chopped hard boiled egg.