I have decided that since I am doing so well on this challenge that it would probably be best aka make my life easier if I plan to go ahead and finish the challenge during my summer break. This way, when we start back to school and our crazy busy life, I can enjoy some new favorites! The second reason is that it allows me to keep up with my goal for blogging as well! I also want to get my recipe book and folders cleaned and organized this summer as well.
I decided to try this first recipe AppleSauce BBQ Chicken for a couple of reasons. I wanted a good easy meal with chicken and second I still have some baby food from Braxton that I need to use, applesauce is one of these. The recipe is from one of my new favorites websites One Hundred Dollars a Month. I have only been reading for about a year but it is a wealth of information. This chicken turned out perfectly. I had 5 random piece of chicken breast left in a bag so I decided to go ahead put it all in to make room in the freezer. I was worried about enough sauce but I had plenty! The recipe is a freezer meal but I just added it all to the crockpot, chicken first, onion and then the sauce. I decided to go ahead and shred the chicken prior to serving. It was a huge hit. Definitely a repeat but will likely cut the recipe in half next time because it made two additional meals. The first is below and the second is chicken sandwiches on Sunday.
After dinner I place 3 cups in a bowl for the second recipe BBQ chicken salad. I got the idea for this from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures but really made it my own. I simply add a bag of Cole slaw mix and 2 tablespoons of lemon to the chicken. Mix it all up and put in the refrigerator. We took this to the pool and enjoyed for dinner on Saturday. Another hit! The original recipe said you could use canned chicken and I may do that next time.
Two repeats in a row! Fifteen more recipes to try sounds very doable at this point! This is the reason I want to finish the challenge finding lots of good and simple meals for the winter! The official count is
I know that I always do better with a goal and a plan. I am counting down the weeks until my summer vacation begins (6) so in the process I want to get a jump start on what the summer may bring. I realized last year that I needed to use some of my free time to stock the freezers with quick and easy to complete meals for the fall. I need to start planning for fall 2020. We will go from over six months of limited to no extra activities to three kids in three spots/ activities along with my return to full time work. The goal is to get the stocking done before the summer starts! This week, we should be making a large beef purchase and I will be working full steam ahead on cooking. The good news is that I only have one night scheduled in Guam this week and I gain an hour a day simply by working at home. You will notice that we did well this week with only one meal of eating out!
Breakfast– I was able to get a jump start this week by making Sausage muffins on Sunday! I need to make up some baked oatmeal bags and continue to add choices such as French toast and waffles to the freezer when ever possible. Saturday- bacon and eggs . Sunday- Sausage muffins. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, pancakes, cereal or grits. –Still have not gotten around to a baked oatmeal but really do need to make one this week.
Lunch- Saturday- pizza and ham and cheese sliders. Sunday- Gregg’s (local restaurant) .The kids will have school delivered lunches, Matt has 2 days of chicken sandwiches and 2 days of chill that he made on Saturday. I am going to return to eating at least one salad a week and also continue with some left-overs on other days.
Dinner- Saturday- Left-overs Sunday- chicken nuggets Monday-Hamburgers and French fries (hamburgers are in the freezer) Tuesday-Taco Tuesday (the plan is to make a crock pot full of taco meat and freeze the left-overs to use in the summer and fall. Wednesday- Sloppy joes and tator tots ( Again made in the crock-pot with the left overs frozen for use later). Thursday-Spinach Ravioli (Lily’s in charge) Friday- BBQ chicken pizza. Zach is in charge.
I will also be cooking and freezing one pound bags of cooked ground beef to use in meals. Next weekend, I plan to make 5 dinner packs of Salisbury steak and several pans of meatballs to freeze. This should use up the 40-50# of ground beef I am planning to purchase. I will also need to purchase several packs of Italian sausage as I would like to get at least one baked ziti in the freezer. Hope you will stay around for the ride and please share if you have a great recipe that you think we would enjoy especially if it can be doubled!
Time for a confession, we have already spent out entire grocery budget for the month of February, well actually we spent it all by last Sunday aka “Junk Food Sunday.” I actually do know where all of it went and I am ok with it. But I definitely need to make sure that we use up all the food we have so that I am not wasting and going out to buy more. This week I have really been focused on not have any food waste. Monday, everyone took left-overs for lunch. Kendall ended up taking 3 separate days of left-over from the veggie tray to dip. On Tuesday, I made sliders to use the Hawaiian Rolls and cheese from the cheese tray. Wednesday was a pick your own left-over. Thursday, I took the rest of the broccoli and cauliflower covered with cheese slices and baked. I also used the rest of the baby carrot to cook as a side dish.
For lunch on Saturday (today) I cut up the rest of the chicken from Costco last week and made chicken and cheese quesadillas with Taco Fries. I used up the rest of the Taco dip by placing on top of French fries! This was an awesome treat at lunch! Everyone liked the fries! I am also going to count our Taco fries as a new recipe this week! We still have about 2 cups of chicken that is cut up.
I found this morning a new recipe to try in the crockpot. It calls for 3 cooked chicken breast. Instead of cooking chicken breast, I am going to use the rest of the chicken from Costco and also throw in a couple of sticks of teriyaki chicken that is left-overs from Chinese on Friday! I made 16 cups of chicken broth from the bones and skin of the chicken so I am positive that we have gotten our monies worth from that chicken.
Another way I am saving this week is by using gift card earned via Swagbucks. We hit Walmart last night and purchased some needed personal hygiene items, filters for our heating and air system and even water flavor packets using a gift card!
I am also keeping an eye on the cost of flights for our August trip to Disney. It would appear that I may be able to get round trip flights for less than $200 each!
I am posting this menu a day late this week but I have a
good reason, the crud. I actually started feeling sick last Thursday. I
managed to stay in the game and work all day Friday. Saturday-I crashed and
ended up staying in bed all day. Luckily that did the trick as I returned to
normal and even worked on Sunday night. One thing we have been thankful
for especially with me being sick is simple meal or things that we can heat and
The evening are starting to get busier and I have increased
my working time so things are busy,hectic and on some days down right
crazy. Pizza is becoming a go to easy meal for us and I am still using
gift cards earned last year to cover the expense so another win win for the
Breakfast– Special treat-gravy biscuit from Biscuit
King. Matt and I shared our lunch money for this treat. Sunday- Breakfast
casserole (new recipe) Monday- bagels, Tuesday- eggs, Wednesday, Thursday,
Friday- choice of toast, eggs, sausage, bagels, cereal or grits.
Lunch- Saturday- left-overs, Sunday-KFC,
Matt has 3 salads, I have 2 salads and the kids have a combination of salad,
sandwich and grab and go.
Dinner- Saturday- Orange chicken and egg
rolls, Sunday- Church pot luck- I sent cowboy beans and cornbread casserole.
Monday- Shake and bake home version pork chops, scalloped potatoes and pears,
Tuesday- Mini Taco, Wednesday- Pizza, Thursday- Crockpot chicken and dumplings.
Friday- Spaghetti and Meatballs.
I admit that I was becoming quite discouraged with my recipe challenge. I have been really diligent over the past several weeks to not only locate but make sure we cooked and tried new recipes. Everything has been eaten, but disappointing as no-one wanted to have it a second time.
I am so glad to say that we found a winner this week. Burrito Bowl Soup . This is from one of my favorite recipe site! Another giant plus was that it actually called for two cans of refried beans which we had been gifted at Christmas but I rarely eat beans so this was an item that I was afraid would go bad before it got used.
I was reluctant to try this recipe for a couple of reason, first the beans and second it only cooks for 4 hours and that included adding in rice the last 20-30 minutes. I actually stared this at lunch on Monday between the girls doctor’s appointments. The crockpot switched over to warm and I simply turned on high before adding the rice. I had some left-over rice in the refrigerator so I am sure it was not the called for two cups. But even with all these things stacked against it, everyone agreed this is a repeat!
I did run out to the store to grab a couple of bag of chips to add to the soup as it was very liquid with less rice. The other change I made was to add a teaspoon of taco seasoning instead of cumin. This helped decreased the allergic reaction for Lily as well! Chips, cheese, sour cream and burrito soup for the win.
I remember to freeze a second and third dinner as I am trying to cut down on the amount of left-overs we have and reduce food waste as well.
We are back to a regular routine this week. The kids all have school and I am working both jobs. You may notice that several easy to fix dinners are showing up. I am also committed to trying one new recipe a week. The biggest accomplishment of the week is no planned eating out!
Breakfast- Saturday ,Eggs, bacon and toast. Sunday,-Frozen Waffles. Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, omelet , pop tarts, cereal, bagels or toast. I may make a baked oatmeal for one morning just not sure yet.
Lunch–Saturday-Sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls, , Sunday-Cranberry Chicken Friday both Matt and I will eat out, Kids have a mix of salads, soups and sandwiches. Matt and I both has two days of salads, He will have homemade chill the other days and I will find the best left-overs.
Dinner – Saturday- twice baked potatoes (from freezer). Sunday–Broccoli and cheese soup Monday-Sloppy joes and French fries Tuesday– Taco pasta Wednesday–crockpot cubed steak. Thursday– Chicken enchiladas, Friday- Kielbasa and rice.
One of the goals, I wrote was to try 52 new recipes this year. I promptly forgot about it when menu planning of the week. But as I was scrolling through Facebook yesterday morning , I found “17 instapot chicken recipes.” I decided to check this post out and found the recipe, I used for lunch today. The reason I chose this recipe was that it would encourage us to completely use up the remaining Christmas left-overs. We don’t like to wait for lunch after church so I made a couple of changes to the original recipe.
Here is what I actually did for Cranberry Chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken breast
Can of pineapple chucks
Cranberry Sauce- I used the remaining amount from our Christmas meal, the original recipe called for a can of whole cranberry sauce.
1Tablespoon of Brown Sugar.
Dumped in the crockpot with chicken on the bottom and cooked on high for 4 hours.
The results: 3+/5. Zach was not a fan and did not finish his, Kendall statement “it is on the verge of being good.” Lily LOVED it and requested again. Both Matt and I enjoyed the meal. Matt summed it up best, “Not something I would buy the cranberry sauce for, but it was good.” The four breast were plenty, I actually have enough to use on two of my salads this week.
I cooked a huge meal for Christmas lunch, knowing that I would be able to stretch it for several more days. The day after Christmas we shared left-overs with our friends and ended up with about 1/4 of a spiral ham and even more unexpected was the left-over BBQ pork from my family gathering. So far, I would consider our use of left overs a success! We been eating up the left-overs for 7 days now but I have been able to use things in different ways and actually freeze several easy to prepare meals to use in the next couple of months.
The first creative left-over was ham bone soup. I cut most of the remaining ham off the bone and threw the bone in crockpot with an additional 2 cups of chopped ham, added a bag of navy beans, chopped up cooked carrots, a couple of stalks of celery that were not used, 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt and 6 cups of turkey stock. We ate this for a dinner meal and I froze a container to use as a quick soup meal.
I pulled out my food processor to make ham salad. This is an awesome snack or lunch.
Yesterday, I chopped up some of the ham and mixed with remaining mac and cheese. Kendall, who is not a left-over person loved this and requested that I make it again! Today at lunch, we finished up the ham by making ham and cheese quesadillas.
Left-over BBQ was eaten as several meals of sandwiches, next I made two containers of Pork Fried Rice. We ate one for dinner and finished as a lunch. The second container was frozen again for a easy meal in the future.
Turkey is an easy sandwich of course. But I have also made a pot of Turkey taco soup, simply chop up the cooked turkey instead of ground beef. This also made two meals with one in the freezer to use later on.
Can you share a creative left-over that I have not thought of?
I have definitely up my meal planning game this week. We actually chose the meals we wanted for the week on Saturday prior to my grocery shopping. I did end up spending $80 at Walmart for groceries which puts me at $111 for the month. On Sunday, we spent about 2 hours getting everything prepared for the week. I realized last week that I need to go ahead and get my lunches all prepped as well. I am not a morning person and even grabbing left-overs add an additional 5 minutes to my mornings.
Breakfast- Saturday,-Egg sandwhiches. Sunday,-Toast with either peanutt butter or nuttella and grapes or banana. Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, omelet oatmeal, grits, pop tarts cereal, French toast or toast. This is the easiest meal of the day!
Lunch–Saturday-Chicken wraps , Sunday-Seasame chicken in the crockpot. This is a new recipe and EVERYONE enjoyed it! Zach is taking lunchables for 4 days and pasta salad. Kendall is doing a mix of dipping days, sushi, uncrustable and a sandwich. My plan is to take pasta salad, salad and chicken salad wrap and one day of leftovers. I made egg salad, chicken salad and pasta salad for lunches this week.
Dinner – Saturday- Lemon Basil Chicken salad Sunday–Left-overs or sandwhich (The fridges are over-flowing). Monday- Hamburger and French Frie. Tuesday– Sandwhiches or left-overs. Wednesday–KFC bowls (to prep for this day, I have already made mashed potatos and got all the ingredients together for gravy). Thursday– Pork Chops Friday- Meatloaf muffins and some veggies.
We are doing well with sticking to our weekly menu plan and I have been really focus on keeping out grocery spending as low as possible for the next couple of months. One of the things that I am focusing on is to use things in the freezer and pantry before going out to buy things. I noticed last week that I had two remaining packs of chicken thighs in the freezer. I found these on sale for $0.95 cent a pound in June. Read about the other deals I scored that day as well. Each of the packets had been reduced to $2.10. This weekend, I knew I needed to add some lunch items and also wanted to give some variety to our weekend. The OT at work shared an awesome recipe for Basil Lemon Chicken Salad and I decided I definitely wanted to make some this weekend. So yesterday (Friday) I went down and pull out the two packs of chicken. I was feeling lazy so I threw both packs in the crockpot added some salt and pepper and turned it on low for 12 hours. I did wake up last night at least once and think…”that smells good”.
After the ballgame, we were hungry. Matt, Kendall and I made a chicken and tzatziki sauce wraps. Zach decided plan chicken and ranch would be better for him. For dinner, I made the Lemon Basil Chicken salad which was a huge hit. Matt is not a fan of chicken salad and is really not a fan of chicken thighs but he even said how good it was! We have been able to eat both meals today from those chicken thighs and I have made a huge container of regular chicken salad that will probably provide at least 7 lunches! I threw the skin and bones back in the crockpot and was able to get 20 cups of chicken stock in the freezer as well! I count the chicken stock as totally free! So that is a total of 13 meals for $5.20 or forty cent each for the meat portion which is always the most expensive part! I will definitely call that a win!