Sunday, July 26, 2009

Weekly Menu Plan July 26 - August 1

We are back from our summer vacation (which was almost a complete flop but that's another story). This week will include more summer training for teachers and another vacation bible school for our little one. So we have to plan things that don't require much time or effort. Here's what we're thinking:

Sunday - leftovers from vacation grilling

Monday - taco salad

Tuesday - sausage with peppers and onions over rice

Wednesday - Cornish hens with potatoes and carrots (crockpot)

Thursday - Hamburger Helper

Friday - mini ravioli with meat sauce

Saturday - BBQ ribs

Lunches will consist of sandwich leftovers from vacation and dinner leftovers.
Breakfasts will consist of frozen waffles, cereal, sausage biscuits, french toast and eggs, grits and toast.

For more meal plan ideas, visit Organized Junkie this week.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy with Cucumbers

Right now as I type, I am preparing cucumbers for canning - pickles actually. My little one loves lime pickles and we have been paying nearly $5 a pint jar for these pickles. I decided to try my hand at making some pickles myself. Tonight makes my second batch. The first batch was awesome!

Here's the recipe that I used - lime pickles.

I didn't have a crock or enamel pot so I put these in a plastic trash can. Of course I washed it extremely well - LOL! I went by the recipe almost exactly for the first batch. I added a 1/2 stick of cinnamon to each jar, because that's what Mama used to do.

Tonight I changed things just a bit by adding a tablespoon of pickling spice and a tablespoon of cloves plus the cinnamon stick. This recipe is very easy to follow and proved to be successful.

I did do a better job of dissolving the lime in the second batch by stirring it more before I added the cucumbers.

As a precaution, I not only heat the jars but I also put a metal spoon into each jar as I am filling them with the hot pickles and syrup. My grandmother told me once that a metal spoon would absorb some of the heat and keep the jar from breaking. I don't know how much truth there is to that or if it is even necessary with canning jars, but I can say that I have never had a jar break with that metal spoon it it.

I wish I could share a taste of these pickles with you to encourage you to try it. They are so much better than those bread and butter pickles you buy from the store.

Enough for now. It's time to get up and get those pickles in the jars. I hope that some of my canning and freezing posts will inspire you to put up some food this summer.

Busy, Busy, Busy with Green Beans

Green Beans
My husband planted green beans at my mother-in-law's during the spring. They have now come and gone and we have put up about 7 quarts in the freezer and eaten several meals of them, too. These were Italian green beans (the flat ones).

Here's what I do to put these in the freezer:

  1. Wash beans well and snap or cut into one inch pieces.

  2. We snip away both ends as well.

  3. Cover with water and bring to boil.

  4. Boil for 10 minutes (until they change colors - darker green).

  5. Let cool.

  6. Drain and place in freezer bags. (My mother-in-law adds the juice but I don't.)

  7. Continue to cool until they can go into the freezer.

I don't put green beans in jars because I don't have a canner and was not very successful one earlier time that I tried it. Time is required for the beans to cool, but they are always good out of the freezer and so much better than those in the grocery store. Plus since we grew them, we know what chemicals weren't put on them.

When I cook these, I place them in a pot straight from the freezer and cover with water. I add onion, garlic, salt and a little piece of smoked meat (bacon or sausage) and cook until desired doneness.

Busy, Busy, Busy with Tomatoes

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting much in the last week or so. We have been putting up vegetables from our garden and some that we have gotten from local growers. Amanda at Coping With Frugality commented in this post that she would like instructions on what I did so I'll be starting posts on those.


This first post is for tomatoes. We got several boxes from a local grower and did three different batches as they ripened.

After having several jars of tomatoes spoil last fall, I decided to freeze all of the tomatoes this season. We have plenty of room in the outside freezer and freezer bags are not very expensive (actually cheaper than jars).

  1. Bring water to nearly a boil in a large stockpot or dutch oven. This water will be used to scald the skins on the tomatoes. It doesn't have to be boiling but it does need to be HOT. I have found that scalding the skins doesn't waste as much of the tomatoes as cutting away the skins with a knife.
  2. Wash tomatoes and place in stockpot with hot water. Leave for a couple of minutes. When you notice the skins slipping, you can remove the tomatoes and add more. My husband and I do this together. He adds the tomatoes and removes them. Then I continue with the next step.
  3. Let tomatoes cool a few minutes and remove skins. Remove any hard core, stems, etc.
  4. Then cut up into the sizes that you prefer for later use. Add cut up pieces to a thick stockpot and boil.
  5. Tomatoes are blanched when they start to form a lighter red color foam on top.
  6. Let cool enough to handle(this may take a while) and scoop into freezer bags.
  7. Once cooled even more, bags can be placed in freezer.

If you don't have one of these canning funnels, get one. It makes getting the vegetables into jars or freezer bags much easier. I have a metal one like this and a plastic one. Either one is fine. The metal one belonged to my grandmother so I have kept it, but I probably use the plastic one the most.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekly Menu Plan July 12-18

We found some great meat deals today at our local Harvey's and lots of garden items are coming in. Plus, I cleaned out the small freezer in the laundry room yesterday and found lots of "forgotten" items. So our menu this week will reflect all of that.

Chicken and dumplings, creamed corn, peas, sliced tomatoes - all found items in the freezer except for the tomatoes

Blackened salmon (sale meat), baked potato, salad

Fried bream and chicken gizzards (sale meat), cheese grits, coleslaw - my husband, father and little one went fishing today and caught 8 bream so we'll pair them up with some cheap gizzards and have a meal

Salisbury steak (found item from freezer), Kraft homestyle macaroni salad, cucumber salad (garden)

Cubed pork chops (sale meat), stir fry vegetables, watermelon slices (garden)

Taco salad with homemade salsa, ice cream bars (found item from freezer)

BBQ Ribs, corn on cob, (both found in freezer), fried okra (garden)

I would challenge each of you to dig through that freezer and refrigerator and locate some "lost" items for this week's menu. We recently found quite a bit of hamburger meat that had spoiled (freezer burned) because we had forgotten about it. Read about that here. That's just money being tossed away. So get up now and go check to see what you have that you have forgotten. You will thank me when you're saving money this week at the grocery store.

For more great menu ideas, visit Organized Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome

Several new people have decided to follow my blog in the past couple of weeks that I would like to welcome aboard. I try to welcome new followers individually through their email or blogs, but some of the newest followers don't have links for that. So welcome, welcome, welcome. I hope something here will be of assistance to you through your money saving ventures.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Weekly Menu Plan for July 5 - 11

This is what we are planning to eat this week. We have been working on vegetables all last week and eating from the freshness of our garden. In that process, we cleaned out the freezer and now know more what is available to eat.

Sunday - leftovers
Monday - Meat loaf, au gratin potatoes, sliced cucumbers
Tuesday - Fried turkey breast, stuffing, steamed cabbage
Wednesday - Chicken and rice, pickles, slaw
Thursday - Cubed pork chops, macaroni and cheese, steamed broccoli
Friday - Fish sticks, frozen french fries, leftover slaw
Saturday - Grilled something

For more menu ideas, check out the links on Organized Junkie.

MckLinky Blog Hop

This week I am participating in a new blog hop. This blog is all about my experiences with trying to feed my family for less using the resources that I have available in a small town with no CVS or Walgreens and only 2 local grocery stores. I post about frugal ways that I have found that work and things that don't seem to be working for me. Join the blog hop and come back and visit my blog often.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Thursday, July 2, 2009

5 Things I Can Live Without Thursday

Today for 5 Things I Can Live Without Thursday, I am listing things that we have been working on at our house in the kitchen.
  1. Store bought pickles - I made my first batch of old fashioned lime pickles on Wednesday - we have been paying $4.50 for a pint jar of these from a store we found in the mountains - I ended up with 10 pints - the ingredients cost me less than $7 (my neighbor gave us the cucumbers so all I had to buy was the lime and pickling spice - we already had enough vinegar and sugar) - saved us $38
  2. Canned tomatoes - we have put up several bags of tomatoes this week - I have decided to freeze them instead of putting htem in glass jars because I had too many go bad last fall
  3. Store bought eggs - our chicks have started to lay eggs (or at least a couple of them) - we had been getting 2-3 eggs a day - now we are getting 3-5 - and our rooster has started trying to crow (he sounds really sick but he is sooo cute)
  4. Appliances on the counter - how do I accumulate so much stuff on the counters and I have plenty of space in the cabinets
  5. Expired food - found way too much of this in the camper when I was cleaning out this week - I've got to devise a better plan for being sure that we eat this stuff up before it expires

To see what others are living without, visit here.