Archive for Menu Plans and Shopping Lists

Menu Plan 1/15/15-1/21/15 & Post Surgery Nutrition

I should have known that we would receive a large outpouring of food from our church after I had surgery, but somehow, I’d only calculated for reasonable amount of food to show up. 🙂 After a few days we had to call a halt to people bringing meals so that we had a chance to eat all our leftovers from the first meals we got. (We haven’t yet eaten any of those freezer meals I so carefully prepared, either.)

I love the variety of food lifestyles expressed in the food we’ve gotten too. We got two kinds of chicken soup: one gluten free and one ‘double gluten’ (chicken noodle soup that also came with crackers). We got a simple, but completely amazing, beans and rice casserole from a foodie, just off the GAPS diet, friend. (I’m going to have ask her what kind of rice she used in it too, because I come from a rice-is-rice is-sadly-not-potatoes background, but she used some kind of very long grain rice that I actually really enjoyed.) We got a dish called Pork Chops O’ Brian, which I’d never heard of before, but since it involved meat and some kind of creamy sauce on potatoes,  we heartily approved. We also got a large tray of meat (yay, iron!), a quiche (which came in very handy for my husband’s breakfasts), banana muffins (which came in very handy for my breakfasts), lots of green salads with assorted toppings, one very much appreciated fruit salad, and ice cream.

The upshot of all that is that we didn’t even attempt to follow any sort of menu plan this week. I napped a few hours a day and took a very rare complete break from doing anything responsible. I didn’t even track what food we had available, or what tasks might need to be done, as my husband completely took over tracking when we were getting meals, warming leftovers when we weren’t getting new meals, washing dishes, refilling my glass of water and everything else that could possible need to be done.

The first couple of days I drank a lot of coconut water and some juice trying to rehydrate, and only ate small amounts of food. Cliche as it may be, chicken soup was one of the best foods at that point, followed by fruit and ice cream. I ate a few bites of meats and breads and casseroles at this stage, but mostly I wanted liquids and simple, easily digestible carbs to start to get my energy back up. (I really appreciated a couple of packets of hot cocoa mix that came in with a meal at this stage too–warm, liquid and chocolate. It was perfect.)

After I started to feel better I went to drinking mostly water plus a little bit of herbal tea. (This wasn’t part of any grand strategy to get back to water or anything–I really just went with what sounded best through most of this recovery.) At this point the beans, rice and meats started being really appealing, and I started to pay more attention to trying to boost my iron levels back up, which also encouraged a focus on beans and meat. Ice cream was still really good at this stage too, along with just a little bit of chocolate, as it had the easily digestible carbs for energy, but balance by enough fats to keep my from sugar crashing.

Basically, if I started to get lightheaded I would try to sleep. If I couldn’t I would eat ice cream. Between those two strategies I felt pretty good most of the time.

Within just the last couple of days I’ve felt more like I wanted to get back to the normal balance of foods in my diet, as well as beginning to notice the lack of fermented foods in the previous week. I’ve started eating more salads with my meals, and very much enjoyed having some kefir for breakfast yesterday. I may also start eating some homemade sauerkraut with my meat, now that I’m paying attention to available foods again.

There’s really not much of a menu plan for the coming week either, as we still have leftovers (and frozen pizzas and freezer meals for if they’re needed), and more meals coming from friends after I go in for a follow up surgery.

So I guess our menu plan looks something like this:


leftovers and meals from friends


leftovers and meals from friends


This one’s a bit more tricky, though I’ll probably have more kefir for breakfasts, and maybe even get back to my spicy creamy chicken broth routine for a few days. Hopefully we’ll get to go shopping soon and pick up some more eggs for my husband’s breakfasts, and fruit for both of us, otherwise we’re probably having lots of peanut butter toast this week.

Shopping List:

It’s worth noting that Aldi has some meats on sale, including Pork Butt Roast for $1.99/lb. They also have avocados for .49, roma tomatoes for .99/lb, navel oranges, $1.99/4lb, kiwi for $1.29/lb, and blueberries for $1.99/pint. (I’m focusing on the seasonal fruits, so skipping the blueberries, but getting oranges and kiwi.)

My own list is fairly short, as all we really need is eggs, fruit, and few ingredients that lend themselves to easy meals.

‘natural’ peanut butter, 3/$5

mayonnaise, about 2/$5

ramen noodles, $2(pk of 12)

organic salsa, about 4/$8

eggs, about 4/$5.50

oranges, $2/4lb

kiwi, $1.29



Menu Plan 1/7/15-1/13/15

This week’s menu plan will be a little sparse, because I’m starting off by having surgery, after which friends from church are bringing us a few days of meals while I start to recover.

Also, during this week’s menu plan there is a day of fasting we plan to participate in. (Because the day of fasting is only a few days after my surgery, I’m going in cautiously and seeing how I do. Most likely I’ll at least do chicken broth through the day rather than a complete fast.)

That only leaves two meals to plan for this week. If all goes well, I’ll be getting a couple weeks worth of freezer meals into the freezer tomorrow, and those two meals will come from that cooking session.


Meals from friends x 5

Chicken Broth/Fasting


Crab Chowder (with carrots, onions and organic potatoes), possibly garnished with green onions


Leftovers, sandwiches, and whatever my husband decides to fix while he’s home taking care of me after my surgery. 🙂


I’m hoping to do a few kefir smoothies this week, but it’s possible breakfasts will stay super simple with eggs for my husband and fruit, possibly with toast, for me.

Baking and Extras:

None whatsoever.


Menu Plan and Shopping List 12/25/14-12/31/14

I think Christmas exploded in my living room. There are stacks of gifts that need to be wrapped, boxes of wrapped gifts (sorted by which Christmas family event they need to arrive at), Christmas socks I bought for myself and never put away, scraps of paper and lamination plastic, leftover squares of wrapping paper that are theoretically big enough to wrap some gift somewhere (but never the one I’m trying to wrap at the moment), and to top it all off the lights and ornaments I put up in our window keep falling down at odd moments with startling plinks of sound and I’ve given up on trying to put them back up.

Also, my NOEL letters on the bookshelf currently read LEON, but that’s because of a family tradition of taking sides and sneaking around to switch the letters around when the other team’s not looking, so the only strange there is that I’ve been so distracted today that I never changed it to NOEL after my husband left for work this morning.

In light of this festive explosion, the title of this blog post is rather misleading. For one thing, I’m not digging myself out of this mountain of ribbon and tinsel to go grocery shopping any time soon. For another thing, I’ve decided not to make a menu plan this week.

Shocking, I know.

My husband was able to arrange taking extra time off for Christmas this year (partly because he’s been so busy at work that he had extra vacation days we weren’t able to use earlier in the year), so starting tomorrow he’s off work for the duration of this menu plan and a bit beyond. This means that after a string of Christmas celebrations with various branches of our families we’re probably going to do a mini staycation that includes pajama days, movie marathons, eating leftover Christmas cookies and cooking whatever’s easy to make that we feel like eating. (If the weather cooperates I’m sure it will also include sledding and other such outdoor winter activities, but the point is, we’re both ready for some time off to just crash for a while.)

I have checked the fridge, freezer and pantry and confirmed that we have enough hot dogs, hamburger patties, potatoes, cheese, frozen pizza and ramen noodles to last through next week, and that’s all the planning I feel the need to do. (Okay, okay, I also confirmed that we have squash, sweet potatoes, onions, saurkraut, homemade ketchup and water kefir to fill the vegetable and fermented sides of our diets.)

So, after a quick rundown of how last week’s menu plan went, and giving you a peek into my Christmas dinner and party food plans, I’ll be heading back to wrapping gifts!

Last week I followed the menu plan fairly closely, and without having to fall back on the hot dogs plan! I did a few food swaps like replacing rice with potatoes and leaving out the nachos from one meal. I also completely simplified the hash meal into hamburger patties with ramen noodles and garlic green beans. Saturday we went out to Wild Berries Cafe, a local restaurant I’d been wanting to try. Sadly, their coffee bar was closed, but their food was good (and plentiful!), and I would definitely go back again. Also, the leftover from our meals stretched our leftovers to the point where I really didn’t have to figure out anything besides creative re-combinations of leftovers for lunches last week.

We are attending three Christmas gatherings/parties this week. One is a brunch doesn’t require us to bring food, so if we take anything it will be a plate of Christmas cookies. Another one is mostly lighter sides to go with sandwiches, so I plan to take artichoke dip with crackers and tortilla chips and homemade cranberry sauce. The third is more of typical Christmas dinner and I’m taking roasted garlic mashed potatoes. (I may also take some sort of dip or other lighter food for snacking before or after dinner, but I haven’t quite decided on that yet.)

For our own personal Christmas celebration at home, we do a large breakfast/brunch and a Christmas dinner in the late afternoon, with snacking in between as needed.

For breakfast we will have flaming Christmas pudding. I bought (nitrate free) sausages at Costco to go with the Christmas pudding, but I wasn’t able to figure out if the spices would make for good breakfast sausages or not, so I also have bacon as a back up.

For snacking  we’ll have cheddar cheese and Christmas cookies, and I’ll probably make crab dip.

Christmas dinner will be corned beef brisket (I buy an extra one when they go on sale on St Patrick’s day and save it for Christmas–yes, I even saved it through the pantry challenge this year!), mashed potatoes, cheesy onion casserole and sweet potatoes.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Menu Plan and Shopping List 12/18/14-12/24/14

It was a bad week to be a menu plan at our house. Our poor menu plan was twisted, pulled, ignored and pummeled this week. We skipped one social event because of illness but added another one we thought we were going to have to skip. We didn’t attend church fellowship meal (again, because of illness), and we’re still eating off of the rotisserie chicken that was intended for that meal. We’ve eaten grilled cheese sandwiches, frozen pizza, french onion soup, and a skillet lunch composed of leftovers.

I think the only two meals that truly stuck to the menu plan were one social event (my husband’s workplace Christmas party) and apple cider glazed hamburgers with sweet potato fries (which were fabulous by the way).

As we’re heading into the last week before Christmas and I’m further behind than normal on gifts and wrapping and such I’m trying to keep this week’s meals pretty simple. If even when I’ve planned ends up being too complicated I will fall back on Costco hot dogs which I have stashed in the freezer.


Social Event

Apple Cider Brined Pork Loin, Roasted Apples, Rice (carried this one over from last week)

Spicy Chicken Thighs, Tortilla Chips with Nacho Cheese Sauce, Buttered Squash

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging

Costco rotisserie chicken (for church fellowship meal)

Ground Beef and Potato Hash, Green Beans with Onions

Pork Loin, Mashed Sweet Potatoes


We should have enough leftovers for all the lunches except one. Depending on how that day is going, I may throw together a quick french onion soup for lunch, or make cheesy fried potatoes.


I’m moving back toward having creamy spicy chicken broth as a regular part of my breakfast, though it hasn’t quite been every day. Other than that, I’ve mostly had zucchini bread and fruit for breakfast.My husband has had eggs nearly every day for breakfast, sometimes with zucchini bread.

Next week will almost definitely continue with eggs for my husband, possibly with some fried potatoes thrown into the mix. I may or may not manage to keep up my chicken broth routine, but we do have more fruit and more zucchini bread (and Christmas cookies… but I’ll try not start eating those for breakfast until Christmas vacation officially starts).

Baking and Extras:

I did finally take care of my water kefir and the grains seem to have survived their extended ferment just fine (yay!). I also did some Christmas baking and cookie swapping with my husband’s family, so I have most of the basic necessary cookies for this season.

This week I’m keeping things simple, and other than keeping up with water kefir my only definite plan is to make salted caramel pretzel bark. (I may do more baking here and there over the actual Christmas celebrations while my husband is home, but I’m not making definite plans at this point.)

Shopping List:

I ended up doing my shopping already, picking up more turbinado sugar, nitrate free sausages for Christmas morning breakfast, tomato paste, and couple more rotisserie chickens at Costco. I also got some eggnog at Kroger, along with sour cream and package of chicken thighs.

The striking deals at Aldi this week are mandarin orange at $2.29/3 lb, navel oranges at $1.99/4 lb, black beans at $2/2lb and butter for $2.29/lb (yeah, butter’s just expensive, but that’s probably the best price around right now).

Hyvee has frozen veggies for .88 (10-16 oz packages).

Kroger has sour cream for $1 (of course, now that I already broke down and bought it…), frozen veggies for $1 (8-16 oz packages), eggs for $1.50/dozen and pears for .99/lb.




Menu Plan and Shopping List 12/11/14-12/17/14

We followed this week’s menu plan surprisingly well, just swapping a couple meals from the day I’d originally planned to fix them, and swapping out veggies a couple of times. In fact, I will admit that I forgot to fix a veggie to go with our meatloaf. I’m going go with the theory that the LARGE amount of chopped onion I put in the meatloaf counts as our veggie for that meal…

The only other change is with the BBQ chicken thighs meal: First, I forgot to buy chicken when I went shopping (more like I looked at it and decided against that particular chicken at every single store I went to). Second, we ended up deciding to go out to dinner anyway, as part of our date night to go see a local theater perform The Sound of Music.

I was feeling unusually ambitious about cooking meals on Saturday, so instead of just scrounging leftovers, I made a sweet and sour pork dish. It was really good, but for once my decision to double the sauce backfired, and made the whole dish just a little too sweet (which my husband didn’t seem to mind at all…). Serving the leftovers with extra veggies and pasta helped a little.

We’re heading into the Christmas party time of year, so the next few weeks will probably involve extra social events, easy meals so I have time to focus on special Christmas activities, and a lot of last minute changes between when I plan meals and when we eat them.

We had well over a gallon of apple cider left after Thanksgiving that went fizzy and is now halfway between sweet cider and hard cider. I thought we’d just drink it anyway, but we haven’t been going through it that fast, so I found a few recipes to help me use it up this week.


Social Event x 2


Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging Day

Costco Rotisserie Chicken (for church fellowship meal)

Apple Cider Glazed Hamburger Patties and Sweet Potato Fries (using this glaze recipe)

Apple Cider Brined Pork Loin with Roasted Apples and Rice


We should have enough leftovers for every lunch except one or two. I’ll probably cover those with grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, or possibly nachos.


Toast, fruit, zucchini bread, cheesy fried potatoes… Lots of options this week.

Baking and Extras:

So, I got almost nothing done from last week’s priority list, but I did make the homemade bread and also made zucchini bread. This week: water kefir for sure, hopefully process apples and start Christmas baking!

Shopping List:

Aldi has both avocadoes and pomegranates on sale for 50 cents each.

I’m probably not going shopping this week, as the few things I need (such as sour cream for holiday baking) I’d rather wait to buy until Kroger has them on sale for their cheapest price.

Menu Plan and Shopping List 12/4/14-12/10/14

Well, all I can say is that coming down with the flu a couple days after Thanksgiving, after a pantry challenge, and before post pantry challenge grocery shopping will throw a huge wrench into all of your plans for the week.

I’m not even sure what to tell you that we ate this week, because there were a few days (especially when I had a more noticeable fever) that I barely ate at all. My husband cooked while I was feeling especially crumby, and I think he ate a lot of fried potatoes… We also ate the Grave of Small Birds leftovers that were in the freezer, we cooked up that last pound of ground beef in the house, and I did make sardine fritters during a brief spurt of feeling better (sardine fritters are surprisingly good–I would make them again). Oh, and we ate some alfalfa and lentil sprout salad and leftover garlic green beans from Thanksgiving.

Other than that, I drank a LOT of coconut water, sipped some apple cider that was left over from Thanksgiving, and generally tried to stay hydrated without drinking any water, (because water was inexplicably disgusting).

Thankfully, my sister and niece rescued us from continuing to try to eat out of the pantry, and picked up some groceries for us, which made eating a lot more pleasant all of a sudden. I still need to do a more serious grocery trip and do some real stocking up again, but it makes life so much better to have bread and cheese and bananas in the house again when you don’t feel like cooking and don’t really feel like eating any more sardines or candied celery.


Astoria crab pasta (using organic spaghetti from Aldi and canned crab), garlic broccoli


Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging

Costco rotisserie chicken (for church fellowship meal)

Grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup

Meatloaf, baked potatoes, peas

BBQ chicken thighs, fried sweet potatoes


Leftovers, cheesy fried potatoes or homemade mac and cheese to fill in if needed.


Fruit, toast, eggs (for my husband). I’m thinking we’ll keep it pretty simple this week as I’m still not feeling great and trying to catch up on everything I got behind on while I was sick, plus start decorating and baking for Christmas.

Baking and Extras:

Priority one: find out if my water kefir grains died while I was sick and get them going again if possible. Priority two: process the apples sitting in my living room.

Priority three: homemade bread and Christmas baking!

Shopping List:

I gave you my basic shopping list last week, a lot of which I still need to go pick up, so this week I’m just sharing a few highlights of sales I noticed:


clementines, $2.29/3lb

kiwi, $1.29/lb

blackberries, $1/6 oz

pomegranates, .49

mangoes, .49


boneless pork loin, $1.99/lb

bacon, $2.99/lb

Casdacian Farms organic frozen veggies, .99/10 oz (when you buy 4) — Note that the bags are a little smaller than standard bags, but considering that most standard Kroger frozen veggies come in 12 oz bags, and the lowest sale price on those is usually $1, this seems like a good deal for organic veggies.


Menu Plan and Shopping List 11/27/14-12/3/14

You want to know something amazing? We made it through 35 days of the pantry challenge. You want to know something even more amazing? It’s finally over and I get to buy groceries!

Check out the pantry challenge posts if you want to see how it went on a day by day basis. The short version for this week is that we basically followed the menu plan, except that both salmon fillets and sardine fritters got bumped to make room for social events.

The one flaw in my plan for ending the pantry challenge the day before Thanksgiving is that I’m not sure when I’m going to go shopping to restock my pantry. We do have butter (and potatoes and apples) from my last Azure order that I’ve just been avoiding using until the pantry challenge is over, and some cheese, sour cream and ground beef leftover from fixings for a meal I made for friends. So, I will be able to expand my food options somewhat even before a grocery trip, but we will need meat pretty soon.

One thing that helps is that over the course of a holiday weekend (and a birthday thrown in next week) we’re going to be eating several meals that I’m contributing side dishes to, but not having to fix the whole meal.


Social Event x 3 (Imagine that…)

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging

French Onion Crockpot Potatoes (for church fellowship meal)

Fried Potatoes with Ground Beef and Cheese (served with homemade ketchup), Green Beans

Sardine Fritters, Baked Beans (from the freezer), Zucchini Chips (I was really curious to try the sardine fritters, so I’m just moving this meal from last week)


With all the social events going on it’s really hard to tell how our leftovers situation will end up. If we run short on leftovers I’ll pull the Grave of Small Birds out of the freezer (we used most of our other freezer meals this week) and we can use salmon fillets or cheese as a protein for another meal. Or I’ll get really desperate and figure out how to fit a shopping day into our busy holiday schedule. 🙂


We eked a couple more fried potato breakfasts out of the few sprouting potatoes we had left this week, and I did finally make some chia pudding, as well as a pumpkin pie which we used for one breakfast. I also had the brilliant idea to try millet as a non-oatmeal breakfast porridge and that went pretty well (we topped it with cinnamon and honey).

This week I see lots of fried potatoes in our future, as well as any leftover pie we still have around, and possibly more smoothies or chia pudding. I’m not even going to try to get any bread baking done this week.

Baking and Extras:

I’ll be helping with some Thanksgiving baking (mostly pies) this week, and of course I’ll have to keep up with my water kefir fermentation, but beyond that I’m keeping extracurricular baking to a minimum.

Shopping List:

This week I’m buying… everything! Okay, that’s not true: no celery. Never again. (Except for stuffing.)

We do need to stock up on quite a few basics though. I’m not sure of sales yet this week, but here’s my basic Costco list for whenever I get the chance to go:

turbinado sugar, $8

ground beef and/or chicken thighs (the price seems to fluctuate quite a lot on these, so I always check the price but only buy if they’re within my budget)

cheddar cheese, $6/2lb (I had been buying the shredded cheddar cheese, but I may transition to buying the blocks, especially if they stay so much cheaper per pound!)

rotisserie chicken, $5

maybe organic whipping cream, about $8 (handy for holiday baking)


And my Aldi list:

eggs, about $1.50/doz

ground beef (if not bought at Costco), $7/3lb

onions, about $1.50/3lb

baking cocoa, not sure of price

yellow mustard, not sure, but probably less than $1

frozen pizza, $2/each (My husband was very supportive during the pantry challenge even with some weird meals–I think he deserves some frozen pizza now that it’s over.)

sweet potatoes, about .69 each

bananas, about .44/lb

frozen veggies, about $1

organic spaghetti, about $1.50


And my Kroger list, which is generally less urgent, but I’ll get to eventually:

sour cream (when on sale for $1)

chicken thighs, if not bought at Costco (when on sale for $1/lb)

canned crab, $2.79

macaroni, about .79


There will be more vegetables, and probably fruit, on my lists once I get some sales ads or get to the store and see what I can find a good deal on right now.

Menu Plan (and limited shopping list) 11/20/14-11/26/14

As has been the case for the past few weeks, if you’re interested in details of how the menu plan went this week, you can peruse my daily pantry challenge notes. The brief overview is that everything went surprisingly much as planned, despite the fact that we got sick over the weekend. This is perhaps not so surprising when you consider the fact that we don’t have a lot of extra ingredients for improvisation right now… 🙂 (Though the truth is, there are all kinds of baked products I could still make if I took the time. Which I really need to start doing, because the breakfast situation is about to become dire.)

I had toyed with idea of whether to stop the pantry challenge at 28 days or not. A month of pantry eating is a pretty good accomplishment, and it might be nice to have a little leeway for buying Thanksgiving food ahead of time.


Last week I thought we were scraping the bottom of the barrel for meat. I plotted it all out carefully, assigning one meat to each day, and it worked. There were a few salmon fillets leftover, and maybe a freezer meal or two, and a couple cans of sardines, and some turkey lunch meat… It wasn’t until I added up all the ‘non-meat meat’ available that I realized we could actually scrape through for one more week. (Add to that the fact that I inexplicably have a pound of ground beef left after finishing last week’s meals, and we’re rocking this!)

My husband also strong encouraged me to keep going. Far from getting tired of the pantry challenge, he said he was going to be kind of disappointed if we didn’t have any really weird meals before the pantry challenge was over.

So on that note, weird meals, here we come! We’re continuing the pantry challenge for another week, for a total of 35 days. On Thanksgiving Day we will officially come off the pantry challenge and be able to buy all the groceries we want to (though, practically speaking, I’m not going shopping on Thanksgiving).

Because of practical issues, such as needing to make food for Thanksgiving ahead of time, and signing up to make a meal for a family at church who just had a baby, I will be doing a small amount of grocery shopping this week. We’re also receiving our Azure Standard order this week.

I will not use any of that food in my normal cooking this week, unless it falls under the original exceptions of the pantry challenge.

For instance, I’m still undecided about whether it’s reasonable to go without butter for another week, so I may add one pound of the organic butter I ordered from Azure into our usable food supply for the pantry challenge. (I’d definitely like to get another vote on that one: is it reasonable or unreasonable to go without butter for two weeks and have to use olive oil almost exclusively for our fat?)


(We likely have a social event going on one night, but at this point I wanted to make sure we have food planned for every night we MIGHT need it.)

Salmon Fillets with lemon garlic sauce, zucchini fritters

Sardine Pizza (with homemade cheese)

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging Day (we may end up pulling out one of those extra freezer meals this day)

Salmon Chowder (for church fellowship meal)

Meatloaf, Celery Fritters

Turkey Sushi (using turkey lunchmeat, candied celery and sprouts along with anything else I can scrounge up that seems sushi worthy), pickled ginger, miso soup

Sardine Fritters, freezer baked beans, zucchini chips

(Before you ask, I have no idea what my obsession was with fritters this week. I guess it was my one repetitive idea to keep weird food interesting. Or I’m subconsciously craving fried foods because I know we’re out of butter…)


Leftovers, when we have them, but some of these meals being made with limited amounts of meat to start with  may not produce enough leftovers for a full lunch. To fill in the gaps we have freezer meals of grave of small birds, beef stew (shepherd’s pie filling), a pasta dish (with meat and tomato sauce) and one beef topped baked potato. Most of those are small portions to make a whole meal for two out of, but if combined or supplemented with rice, etc, should work just fine. We should also have extra turkey lunch meat that won’t be needed for the sushi, which we could use to make wraps or sandwiches, mozzerella which can be used as a protein in a pinch, and we may have extra food from one of the above dinners if we end up having that one social event this week. (Don’t mind me being exhaustive–this is one week where I really want to have all my options listed out for reference in case of feeling like I’ve run short on food.)


As I mentioned, the breakfast situation is getting pretty sparse. We did toast and smoothies this week, ham slices once, and fried potatoes (with diced ham) on Saturday, and I made rice pudding for breakfast this morning, which helped a lot. Once we get more milk I can make chia pudding, and in the meantime we have some more rice pudding and I plan to make zucchini bread and possibly some kind of muffins. I can fall back on oatmeal for breakfast if needed, but I’ll try to avoid inflicting that on my husband if possible. (I’m Scottish enough that I really don’t mind oatmeal for breakfast, and am starting to wonder why I haven’t been eating it more often already.)

Baking and Extras:

I got some of my baking projects done last week, including roasting the squash. This week the top priority is for breakfast foods. After that, keeping up with the water kefir and making bread and possibly making some sort of snack. Is it time to revisit that idea of homemade crackers already?

Shopping List:

Aldi has sweet potatoes on sale for .49 each, onions for .79/3lb and cranberries for .99/12 oz.

I will, however, be doing my shopping at Costco:

cheddar cheese, about $15/5lb (I need cheese for the meal I’m making for a family at church, the rest will be on hand for us to go crazy with as soon as the pantry challenge is over. 🙂 )

sour cream, about $4 (Everything I said about about the cheese also applies to the sour cream.)

ice cream, not sure of price (Okay, so I actually need this for a recipe video I’m filming, which means we might end up eating some before the pantry challenge is quite over… Ah, the hard necessities of being a food blogger…)

frozen green beans, not sure of price (for Thanksgiving dinner)

apple cider, not sure of price (also for Thanksgiving dinner)

fresh garlic, about $5/lb (also for Thanksgiving dinner)

I’m going to restrain myself from buying too much, because it seems as though it would just start to get complicated keeping the pantry challenge food seperate from the after pantry challenge food. However, if Costco still has cans or organic pumpkin, I may snag some before they’re gone.


Menu Plan 11/13/14-11/19/14

As usual the last few weeks, if you want details on how our meals went this week  you can check out my pantry challenge posts where I’m giving a daily description of what we’re eating without adding groceries. The quick summary is that the first few days went as planned (surprisingly much as planned, considering my habit of changing things around, but I supposed being on a pantry challenge tends to give me a little less room to be completely spontaneous). Instead of eating orange chicken though, I used up some extra leftovers that were starting to build up in the fridge, and instead of salmon fillets, we’re semi-spontaneously going out to celebrate my husband’s grandmother’s birthday. (Semi-spontaneously = we did actually have a couple days warning, but the plans were made after my menu plan was made.)

I went through my freezer today and found a few freezer burned items that just need to be thrown away, identified all the packages of meat (just enough to get through this week) and targeted some of odd bags of vegetables the need to be used up this week.

Pro tip: Don’t ever buy an entire case of celery, even if it is organic and super cheap. Just don’t.

Also, I realized that between kombucha, homemade fermented ginger ale, juice, some flat punch that I haven’t brought myself to throw away, fermented coconut water, leftover miso soup and some broths, there are a lot of jars of liquid sitting in my fridge. We’re actually drinking the homemade ginger ale, but with most of the others I’m going to be inventing marinades for just about every piece of meat I can get my hands on this week.


Social Event

Orange Chicken, Rice and Roasted Carrots

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging

Salmon Chowder

Marinated Salmon Fillet Sandwiches, Sauteed Cucumbers

Pork Dumplings, Roasted (or Sauteed) Cabbage

Kombucha Chicken Breasts, Celery Gratin and Red Lentils

(There are a couple of very beige meals in there, but I think if color palette is as bad as it gets on the pantry challenge we’re doing pretty well. I’ll go heavy on the dried parsely and see if I can work in some carrot strips to improve the color factor.)


If we don’t have enough leftovers for all our lunches I really want to do some kind of pasta salad with the candied celery I have in the freezer. If that doesn’t work out (or turns out inedible) we have turkey lunch meat and ezekiel bread we can fall back on.


We did a lot of toast for breakfasts this week. I found some ham slices in the freezer, which will help with breakfast protein, and I’m really going to try to make some chia pudding for a couple of breakfasts.

Baking and Other Extras:

This past week I got two of the four squash roasted and in the freezer, made a cashew pie and finally made that dutch apple pie for my husband’s coworkers, in addition to keeping up with my water kefir/ginger ale production. This week I need to roast the rest of the squash, make some bread and hopefully get some other fun baking in too.

Shopping List:

I’m on my last stick of butter, and since I don’t have a lot of coconut oil in the house either, I may decide to buy a pound of butter to tide us over using the ‘reasonableness’ clause in the pantry challenge rules. I’ll see if I can just keep my use of butter down to very minimal for one more week though. Other than that, I think I can go one more week without shopping.

For those of you who are shopping this week, feel free to comment and let us know about any good grocery deals you noticed.

Menu Plan 11/6/14-11/12/14

Once again, if you’ve been following my pantry challenge posts you have a pretty good idea what we’ve been eating this week, so I’ll just give a brief overview.

There were only a couple of changes to the menu plan this week. First, I forgot to start sprouts in time to have a sprout salad with the pizza, but there were plenty of veggies on the pizza to make up for it. Then, we had enough leftover ingredients the needed to be used up that I replaced the planned burritos with another night of pizza. The only other major change was that I made brownie pudding for church fellowship meal instead of crockpot lasagna.


Social Event


Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging

Crock Pot Lasagna (for church fellowship meal)

Freezer Lasagna (unless of course we have enough leftover lasagna to just make a meal of that) and Sauteed Broccoli

Orange Chicken, Rice and Roasted Carrots

Salmon Fillet Sandwiches and Sauteed Cucumbers (Please do comment below if you have ideas for a better way to use up the chunks of cucumber I found in my freezer…)


If we run short on leftovers I’ll either use up the last of the pizza dough sitting in the fridge from last week’s pizza, or I’ll make sandwiches or wraps from the turkey lunch meat from Costco that I just opened today.


I’ll be making more toast for sure, but I’m about to start needing to get creative with breakfast ideas, because there are only a couple of eggs left. Possibly chia pudding until I get around to baking something.

Baking and Other Extras:

I got nearly everything done from last week’s list, though the pancakes went moldy before I got around to using them up. 🙁 Also, my kombucha scoby is still hibernating, but maybe I’ll manage to get it going again this week. I need to roast the squash I got and get it in the freezer, keep up with my water kefir grains and bake some zucchini bread or other good breakfast food. Overall  it seems like it might be a simpler food week though.

Shopping List:

Still not shopping this week, though I may need to order some vanilla beans before the end of my pantry challenge so that I can make vanilla for my holiday baking.

Those of you who are shopping may be interestested to note that Aldi has pomegranates for .49 and once again has peanut oil in stock at 9.99 for 128 oz. (I’m undecided on the healthiness level of peanut oil, but I think I’d currently file it as a good compromise oil for when lard, butter or coconut oil are not good options or are unavailable. At least with peanut oil you avoid the GMO problem you have with standard vegetable oils.)


« Older Entries Recent Entries »