Big Batch Cooking- Hamburger

We were able to pick up the whole cow that I had ordered on Friday evening. This was 350 pounds of meat at $8.00 a pound.  It filled our entire chest freezer!  The plan was to spend Saturday, processing as much of this meat as possible.

I am proud and grateful to say that we have accomplished this task, with the following results:
21# of canned shelf stable ground beef. These are in pint jars so approximately 1# per jar.
4 meals of Sloppy Joes canned in addition to our lunch for Saturday as well.
30 Salisbury steaks cooked and vacuum sealed in the freezer.
30 Cheddar Bacon Hamburger patties
38 Regular plain Hamburger patties!

For a total of 123 meal proteins ready for use!

Matt even started the day by cooking a big batch of French toast that we were able to freeze left-overs for future breakfast!

I am exhausted but happy with the results!

Saving on Saturday

This weekend we are focusing on saving by using what we have!

One of the projects that I wanted to complete prior to the summer is to empty and clean our large chest freezer that is in the building. This freezer is probably 25-30 years old and was purchased used for $75.  It needs to be de-iced and given a break.  Matt and I have emptied it out except for ice that we need for our upcoming trip. In the process, I needed to do with the two gallon size bags of frozen tomatoes that I have.  I decided to toss them in the crockpot along with a couple of other items and make some more pasta sauce. I typically freeze the sauce but decided to try water bath canning this time.  We ended up with four quarts after dinner so we will try one and see how it taste. I am hoping to be able to can my sauce this year in order to be less dependent on the freezer in the future. It is much easier to store and transport jars than frozen foods.

After taking out my electric canner, I thought I should go ahead and get some beans canned for future use. I ended up running 4 loads of 8 quarts each of beans. This did allow me to use up all the empty pint jars along with all my canning lids that are not on new jars. I had to place an order for more lids.  I also cleaned and organized the canning closet. I am very happy with the contents and have big plans for the summer.

For breakfast this morning, I made French toast using up the last of the sour dough bread that I made this summer along with the remaining heavy whipping cream.   I had about half of the egg mixture left so instead of throwing away, I added hash browns and bacon. It was a hit at lunch with little work and no waste.

For dinner, I made nachos with taco rice that is left-over. The best compliment was from Lily “This is better than I expected.”

I ended up spending a lot of time this afternoon, transplanting tomatoes. More on this tomorrow!

Menu Planning with a twist

This is officially the week after Thanksgiving.  Leftovers are still heavy in the refrigerator, and I do not want to waste any food plus we really like to eat!   One thing I did different this year is that we added several appetizers to our evening meal on Thanksgiving to get some variety going!  But in reality we also have more leftovers as well. This week has also turned out to be one of the busiest on the fall. Zach has all county band, Kendall has a swim meet. I have multiple meeting at work that will run late. Zach gets his braces off and has a physical appointment.  Did I say busy?

Breakfast are pretty standard around here.  You find it and make it. We still have some prepared items in the freezer and eggs and yogurt to spare.

Lunches will be leftovers for everyone.

Dinner are a little bit more challenging.  So after doing some planning and thinking. I decided that we would have leftovers for dinner at least Sunday, Tuesday and possibly Friday unless they are gone. Saturday evening, I made a turkey soup that was actually really good. So that is another option for Friday or I could change it up and use rice instead of potatoes. .

Here is the twist, I was able to assemble a meal for Monday and a separate meal for Wednesday in 30 minutes on Sunday afternoon.

Monday- Gnocchi  bake. This is a recipe that I found from watching “Acre Homestead” on Youtube. I used store bought Gnocchi, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce from this summer, frozen onions and a jar of canned ground beef.

Wednesday- Queso chill mac- This is a recipe total I made up. I used about half of the leftover queso dip, add a jar of ground beef and boiled the remaining pasta in a jar sitting on the cabinet.  So far everyone wanted to know if that was dinner.

Simple meal using what we have!

Five Things Friday- Grocery Version


Noone is surprised or can argue the fact that groceries price has risen significantly this year.  I am now also feeding 3 teenagers!  So it is a struggle to feed us without breaking the bank. Here is how I am working to keep our budget intact.

  1. Costco chicken…. I picked up a chicken yesterday while getting the tires rotated on the Equinox.  We had just the plain roasted chicken with sides for dinner yesterday.  It easily fed six of us.  I stripped the remaining chicken meat put it in the refrigerator and placed the bones and skins in the crockpot to make chicken stock.  We used one package of the chicken for dinner tonight and will have another full meal if not two from the remaining chicken. That means we had enough meat for 3 meals for $4.99.  I also made approximately 6 quarts of chicken stock.
  2. Thanksgiving Turkey- I am in charge of providing the turkey for my families Thanksgiving this year.  I was watching for sales as the normal price of $1.29 a pound was just too much. Food Lion had a sale this week, that if you spent $35 you could purchase turkey for twenty-nine cent a pound.  Although I really did not “need” any items. I ended up get a 26-pound turkey for $6 and change.  The original cost of the turkey was $64.67, and my final total was $51.64.
  3. Aldi has for the past two years has “rolled back” prices on many items needed for Thanksgiving.  There is a 12 can limit per item.  I purchased both a case (12 cans) of green peas and corn.   I may return and purchase other items later in the month.
  4. Minimizing food waste.  We have had several vegetables that have been sitting in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks now. I also purchased by accident 2 10# bags of potato, each bag was purchased a week apart. The first bag I opened to make baked potatoes last week had already started to spout.  I decided to make these items shelf stable before they needed to be tossed.  I ended up canning 10 quarts of chicken pot pie base and 9 pints of cream of potato soup.   This should actually last over a year but used items that would have otherwise been thrown out!
  5. Eating from the pantry and only buying items that are either on a signficant sale or items that we have ran out of. For example the green peas, I used the last can last weekend for a 7 layer salad. The cans of corn were 50 cent cheaper than what I am currently getting with Subscribe and Save.    I am using the ALEXA app to keep up with items we run out of and am trying not to shop unless absolutely necessary!

Tuesday Thoughts

For the last two years, I have wanted to and attempted to complete the “Every Bit Counts Challenge.”  The reason that the challenge is so hard for me is that I have to return to work in August.  This year, I decided to change it up and attempt to put up 31 items during the month of August. Well I made an excellent effort but failed with only 19 items.  I am going to list anyway just so I have a record.

  1. 21 quarts of pears
  2. 5 quarts of Beef stew
  3. 4 quarts of chicken stock
  4. 2 jars of spaghetti sauce
  5. 2 meals of Chicken enchiladas
  6. 8 pints of salsa
  7. 4 Southern ground beef casseroles
  8. 8 pints of Salsa
  9. Sour dough bread
  10. Sour dough bagels
  11. 6 jars of spaghetti sauce
  12. 3 jars of spaghetti sauce (total of 26 for summer).
  13. Dried basil and cantaloupe seeds.
  14. shredded zuchnni
  15. Salsa batch for fresh eating
  16. Bread and Butter Pickles
  17. Peach Pie filing
  18. 3 frozen lunches
  19. pint of frozen blueberries.


I am very hopefully to be able to purchase tomatoes for Enchilada sauce and diced tomatoes but if not we have lots of food to eat through for the winter!

My next goal/ challenge is also food related. I wanted to reduce our grocery spending to $475 a month until December. I am going to see how this works. I have worked alot this summer to prepare food in advance so I am going to enjoy no working so hard for dinner!


Monday Menu Planning

The summer of flying by the seat of my pants is done!  I did learn a couple of things, first my kids are eating alot these days. I am talking 3 full meals a day. Second, my kids don’t really like sandwiches or cereal……

But I am really glad to get back into a routine and have a plan.

Breakfast- Saturday- bacon, toast and eggs Sunday-egg over grits    Monday, Tuesday Wednesday and Friday- find it oatmeal, omelets cereal and milk, waffles, French toast sticks, bagels, sausage English muffins and I also have breakfast burritos, breakfast hot pockets. I am finding my own you should too!  This week the kids are also helping to cook!

Lunch- Saturday-Chicken Enchiladas.  Sunday Mella Mushroom. Monday-eat out  Tuesday- salad    Wednesday-pasta salad Thursday – salad   Friday- eat out.

Dinner- Saturday-Chicken nuggets Sunday Steaks and baked potatoes.  Monday-No peek pork chops, sautéed green beans and zucchini. (Kendall helped) Tuesday-Beanie Winnies (ZACH) Wednesday- Cheeseburger Pizza (Kendall)  Thursday- Pork Fried Rice and egg rolls   Friday- Grilled chicken (Matt)

Monday Musing

  • Technically I have 11 days left until I return to work. However, with our quick Florida trip to see Haley, I have 5 days at home.  I am in get everything done mood!
  • Today, I was able to make and can another 8 pints of salsa. I checked and we may need another 4 pints to make sure we can make it an entire year. But this is an awesome start!
  • I also found a recipe that I can make up and place in the freezer for the days that I just don’t have enough time and or brain width to cook. I will be making 4 bags of these tomorrow.
  • I decided that I needed a day of rest yesterday so that is exactly what I did. No cooking and no canning or baking.
  • We made our first loaf of zucchini bread today and it is AWESOME!   We are starting to get a couple of zucchini at a time from the garden. I have discovered that zucchini is a vegetable that can be planted for a fall harvest.  Our plants have been struggling all year and finally look healthy and alive so I am hopeful that we will continue to get a couple of zucchini each week until the end of October?  Who knows.
  • Cucumbers are another vegetable that I can get a second harvest from. I will be planting another round when we get back from Florida.
  • We had been watering the garden every day since our return from the beach on July 15th until last Sunday, July 30th.  One of our barrels was even empty from rain water. We have had some massive storms that past week and now one rain barrel is full and the other is 80% full.

Day In The Life

Today, I spent the entire day at home. Yay this is one of the things I like most about the summer. Unfortunately, today did not include reading a book or watching television or even enjoying some much-needed downtime.

This morning, I had already planned to make breakfast bowls. Yesterday, I had made gravy biscuits, saving some for today.  I ended up using 16 eggs and I found “bo rounds” which made these bowls even better!  Next up I spent about an hour in the garden, wedding and harvesting.  I sent a 5-gallon bucket to the chickens!

I have harvested 8 pounds of tomatoes in the last 3 days, so I started a huge crockpot of spaghetti sauce. The current plan is to make a couple of “million-dollar spaghetti pies” tomorrow and bag the rest for the freezer.  Matt made potato salad, while I made a squash casserole and a huge pot of chill.   Last night we had purchased a chicken from Costco so the squash casserole and potato salad along with a jar of green beans made an awesome lunch.  The chili used four pounds of ground beef that Matt cooked on the Blackstone along with supper last night.

I pressure canned 8 2oz jars, 4 half pints and one quart of chill for future use. After lunch I tossed the chicken bones and carcass was tossed in the insta pot with water and placed on low using the slow cooker function. So far I have pressure canned 8 pints of chicken stock with the insta pot cooking for another 12 hours.

I did discover that my food processor is broken. We dug out the kitchen aid attachment and shredded the LARGE zucchini for making a loaf of zucchini bread later in the week.

Matt was in charge of cleaning the front and back of the older refrigerator and also used his new shop vac to drain the water from the AC system.  I was in charge of deep cleaning the deep fyer.

Matt made a regular load of bread and I have a loaf of sour dough to finish tonight. Zach decided to deep clean so that also meant I placed 17 nerf guns, a box of legos and a huge hot wheel track on Facebook to sell.

I am tired!


Tuesday Thoughts- Groceries and Summer Goals

When we returned home, I knew that I wanted to get busy on preparing food for the school year which is one of my summer goals.  I was very hopeful that we would return to a ton of ripe tomatoes. That did not happen but I still knew this was one of the weeks that I wanted to focus on getting things in the freezer.  Sunday morning Matt and I went to the store. I had planned to re-stock our pantry and see what deals I could find.   I was so excited to find that Food Lion had lots of good things on sale.  One item that I wanted to get in the freezer this week was at least 4 Baked ziti.   Without tomato sause I did not think that was possible. Buy 2 Get one Free made the Ragu jars $1.33 each so we purchased 12.  The ziti pasta was on sale for 54 cents along with a 25 cent digital coupon!  English muffins were BOGO and we found sausage patties on clearance. This was probably one of the high spending single trips to Food Lion in 2 years or more. I spent $201. But this should assist with 12 dinner meals and at least 3 breakfast meals.

Monday morning this summer have included a trip to the Bargain store as everything is $3.  Followed by grocery shopping with my Mom.  I had planned to grab a couple of items that are usually cheaper there.  What I did not plan to grab was chicken breast. These were on sale for $2.29 a pound. I decided to go ahead and stock up. I ended up spending $78 at Aldi with over $50 of that in Chicken breast. I came home and with help from the kids I bagged up 2 bags of Italian chicken for the grill, 1 bag of chicken teriyaki and 5 bags with 2# pounds each. We also started Pineapple Chicken in the crockpot for dinner.

Today I have spent most of the day chopping veggies. Matt and I made philly cheese steak casserole (one for dinner and one to freeze). I will also get omelet bags in the freezer this afternoon.  Tomorow the plan is to make 5 Baked Zitis. We also got 15 English muffins in the freezer yesterday!

It feels awesome to be able to work toward a goal and stay on budget!

Five Things Friday

  1. Countdown to Summer!
    5 weeks till Lily’s High School Graduation!
    5 weeks of school for the kids and 5 weeks and 3 days until my Summer Break!
    60 days till we go to the beach!
  2. We are all ready for the newest chickens to move outside. Last weekend, Lucky the rooster escaped!  This evening they have knocked over the water so much that the cardboard box is mushy and the floor is wet!  They should move outside full-time next week!
  3. I am starting to organize and prepare for canning this summer. I have been slowly purchasing jars since October. I have been lucky enough to find on sale at Walmart, Target and Tractor Supply for around $1 a jar including rings and lids.  I was hoping to pick up some jars used but they are at least $2 a jar so today on Walmart, I found an ordered 3 dozen pint jars and 3 dozen quart jars.  One of my goals for tomorrow (Saturday) is to get the canning closet organized and cleaned!
  4. This weekend is probably the least busiest one in a long time. We do have several small projects to complete but the goal is to rest and prepare for the busiest week of the school year!
  5. We tried one of the new recipes that I was hoping to use to stock the freezer this summer and it was a bust. No flavor!