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Kitchen stuff » Philoxenos


Menu Plan - Week of April 4, 2011

3rd April 2011

Menu Plan - Week of April 4, 2011

Week 1 of eating out of the pantry and freezer begins with us going out of town! Not quite the best timing, but it is what it is. We have NO money to be eating out so we will be taking our food with us and doing what we can, so a plan is imperative!

Green smoothies, bagels(gotta use up some fresh spinach before we leave)
Ravioli, green beans, broccoli (the last raviolis in the bag)
Quesadillas, carrot sticks, pears (right before we leave so we don’t need to eat on the road)

Breakfast provided by hotel
PB&J, carrots, boiled eggs
Baked potatoes in room microwave, peas! (I’m excited about this because I thought I was so clever when the idea came to me).

Breakfast provided by hotel
PB & apples, crackers
Meal out with a friend - we will be ordering only two adult meals and sharing with the kids. Jeremy and I can eat more when we get back to the hotel.

Breakfast provided by hotel
PB&J, fruit, cheese sticks
Dinner will be whatever we have left! I’m bringing frozen pizza and burritos for Jeremy’s lunches and other snacks, so kids won’t go hungry.

oatmeal w/ raisins and dried apricots
Chinese noodles (it’s what the girls called Top Ramen) with stir-fry vegetables
Homemade Pizza

Pancakes and smoothies
Corn fritters
Fish and chips, peas and green beans (made from a box of battered fish in the freezer)

Muffins, peach slices, yogurt
Homemade tomato soup and quesadillas
Hamburgers and potato wedges

The first week of a pantry/freezer challenge is always the easiest! :)

posted in Menu Plan, Kitchen stuff | 0 Comments

3rd April 2011

Eating out of the pantry and freezer for April

Last night we spent a while re-vamping our budget and getting Mvelopes up and going again. We know, without a doubt, that when we don’t track what we’re spending we overspend in areas that are unnecessary simply because we don’t have the information. Information is power! I have so much to say about that but it will have to wait for another time. Being self-employed means that we have to be even smarter about keeping track of our dollars.

As we worked out our budget and looked at our bills (mostly medical related) we realized that we actually don’t have enough money to pay all the bills, which is a really uncomfortable place to be after years of being debt-free. Getting laid off and having a baby in the NICU for three months can really put a kink in long-term plans! We used up our emergency fund and have to start over again. We had to make some plans on how to manage everything, making sure that the most important things are up-to-date and starting our debt snowball again.  Fortunately my husband is able to earn a good income but we simply are having to dig ourselves out of a hole which might take a few months. In the meantime I will do what I do best: shop and cook frugally! It’s really the only area of our budget that has any wiggle room. I would prefer to have a budget of $400 a month, but I wrote down $300 a month, and I’m pretty sure I can manage just $200 for the month of April.

I had a quick look in the freezer and pantry and jotted down a list of dinner meals that I can make from what we have on hand. The list included over 24 meals! I made a grocery list for the necessities that we would need for the month and it added up to about $120. It’s important to know that our grocery budget currently includes everything - food, paper products, diapers, formula, health and beauty, everything. I have enough diapers to last well into May. I have enough formula to get through at least half of April. I have $40 in Groupons for a local produce store. I am really going to challenge myself to stay under $200 for the entire month, even though we have two guests coming after Easter for a whole week.

What will it take for me to achieve this?

  • Planning and lots of it. I will need to plan all our meals, including snacks.
  • Creativity. I will need to use all of our leftovers wisely and think outside the box to use up what is in the pantry and freezer.
  • Time. I have more time than money this month, so I will be using that time to make all our bread from scratch, cook dry beans, bake things for snacks and breakfasts.

I’m hoping to blog often what we’ve been eating and the state of our pantry and freezer! If I’m successful they should both be very, very empty by the end of the month!

posted in Kitchen stuff | 1 Comment

30th October 2007

a clean kitchen

It’s 10pm and I’m sweaty. I just finished cleaning the kitchen, which included scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees. We have a tile floor and the mop just doesn’t get it all clean. Of course, by 8 am tomorrow there will be Cheerios and bit of fruit and who knows what else smeared all over it. But for now, it’s clean and I like it. When I wake up in the morning it will be clean. My mom comes over frequently and she’s so kind to not mention how dirty my kitchen is most of the time. Honestly, I do try, I really do. But these little people that live in my house keep wanting to eat and drink and I just can’t keep up with it all. So, I’ve mucked it out and it’s shiny and all the dishes are washed and the floor is clean.

And, although I didn’t get any formal exercise today, I was listening to music while I washed the dishes (by hand) and boy, did I get a workout. I was dancing all around and I’m assuming that no one was watching and I enjoyed it. At one point I heard a Carls Jr commerical that just gave me the giggles. It’s about their new Strawberry Banana Smoothie/Shake. They can’t decide what to call it - schmake? schmoothie? You have to hear it.

I’m off to shower. Trust me, that’s a good thing.

posted in Kitchen stuff | 4 Comments

28th October 2007

Menu Plan Monday - October 29

Just in case any of my 15 readers are interested in what we’re going to be eating this week, I’m participating in Menu Plan Monday, hosted by Laura at I’m An Organizing Junkie. I am usually quite organised in the kitchen because having a menu plan means that I generally spend less money on groceries. I have a steadfast rule that if it’s not on the list, I don’t buy it. The only exceptions are when I find a really good deal on something that wasn’t in the store flyer. For example, Saturday I went to Winco to do my fortnightly shopping and they had Stovetop Stuffing for 99 cents a box, which is really really good. I bought some, even though it wasn’t on the list. In spite of having a list and a menu, I’m still flexible. Even if the menu says we’re having pork chops on Wednesday, if Wednesday rolls around and I’m just not interested in pork chops I’ll substitute something else on the menu. But at least I know that I have the ingredients for different meals.

Anyway. On to the exciting part of the post. Almost all of these recipes come from my newest book purchase - Desperation Dinners. I first found this book at the Christchurch City Library (which is a great, fantastic, super library) (in New Zealand) several years ago. I still make one of the recipes (Speedy Black Bean Soup) on a regular basis. When we lived in Christchurch I had to go to the local health food shop to buy dried black beans and then soak them and cook them in order to the make the soup. Here I can buy a can of black beans for 50 cents. It’s still cheaper to buy dried beans, but boy, just opening a can is a lot easier. And I’m into easier at the moment.

So two weeks ago I was at the library and I discovered that they had the book!! I checked it out and started marking the recipes that I wanted to try. Like, real recipes that I knew we would probably like. When I got to over ten I decided to see if I could buy it used on Amazon. I was able to get a BRAND NEW copy from a second-hand seller on Amazon for about $1.50, plus $3.99 shipping. So of course I ordered it. And I love it. LOVE. IT. Handsome flipped through it while we were sitting on the couch a few nights ago and I could hear him saying Mmmmm… oh, that sounds good… yummmm… So this week’s menu features heavily with recipes from our newest cookbook (Edited to note: Actually, after typing it up I’m only using one recipe for the whole week. I’m sure I had a reason, but I don’t remember what it was. Stay tuned for next week. But I still recommend the book). I highly recommend you check your local library. The book purports that no recipe shall take longer than 20 minutes from start to finish. That is if you don’t have to soak and cook dried beans.

Monday: Homemade Hot Pockets (Handsome is at school on Mondays so we make easy, kid-friendly dinners. We love these and I make extra for the freezer)

Tuesday: Beef Stroganoff, garlic mashed potatoes, peas, salad

Wednesday: at mom’s house, trying to avoid trick-or-treaters. Our apartment will probably be inundated.

Thursday: Red Bean and Feta Salad (trying to recapture the summer.We love this salad. To all you NZers - a great salad for Christmas Day)

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: PDQ Broccoli Cheese Soup (DD pg 11) . I bought a LARGE bag of broccoli at Costco a couple weeks ago so we’ve been eating a lot of broccoli.

posted in Kitchen stuff | 2 Comments

27th July 2007

Broccoli & Cheese Casserole

What is to follow is a recipe that I remember absolutely loving when I was a child. My mom made it earlier this week and it was just as delicious as I remember. Now that we’re living in the US and can buy processed cheese food (Velveeta) I too can make this part of my repertoire. I’m writing it here so that I don’t forget it.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

3/4 lb velveeta cheese

1 pkg chopped broccoli

2 cups cooked rice

Saute onions and celery. Add soups and cheese. Cook broccoli and mix with above. Cook rice and place as lining for dish. Pour vegetable and soup mixture over rice - sprinkle with paprika. Bake 375 for 10-20 minutes until bubbly and brown.

Optional: add shredded chicken to rice mixture.

We’re having leftovers tonight and I’m going to snag the rest of this. Processed cheese food, gotta love it!

posted in Kitchen stuff | 2 Comments

24th July 2007

Giveaways all over the place

Updated: links are fixed. 

The ladies at 5minutesformom are having another giveaway. You can win $300 worth of Horizon Organic dairy products. Go over and enter! We can all use a bit of free milk and cheese.

After my somewhat overwhelming shopping experience yesterday, I need to go back to the store at some point and write down some prices so I can comparison shop. I’ve been thinking about the organic thing for a while and wondering how the prices compare. Do any of you buy organic?

posted in Kitchen stuff | 4 Comments

11th July 2007

Electric Kettles

One of the random things that I’ve been thinking about in regards to our move is electric kettles. Here in New Zealand every home has an electric kettle. Used to boil water for the millions of cups of tea/coffee that are drunk every day. Someone comes over for a visit: Do you want a hot drink? and the kettle gets flicked on. It just sits on the countertop, often next to the toaster. And they’re cheap - you can get a cheap one for less than $15. One day I’ll have to tell you about the beautiful kettle I bought for the whopping price of $99. In my defense it’s the best kettle we ever owned. We bought it over four years ago and we just sold it at the garage sale. But I digress.

In America, electric kettles are not as common. Relatively uncommon, actually. And I can’t figure out why!! They’re brilliant! You need some warm water for making bread, just flick on the kettle for 20 seconds and you’ve got warm water. Need to sterilise a baby’s pacifier, boil some water and pour it over and you’re done. An electric kettle is so fast and it automatically shuts off when the water is boiled.

So. I’ve been looking at Amazon for an electric kettle because we’ve decided that’s even more important than buying a toaster. My husband is a coffee drinker but he doesn’t mind instant as long as we buy a good instant (I buy Robert Harris instant, which runs $7 for a jar, compared to $3 for a jar of the cheap stuff. And the cheaps stuff is GROSS.) And we figure we can toast bread in the oven if we really want it. I found one that I like and it looks like this: (I’m trying to put in a picture for the first time. We’ll see if it works.)electric-kettle.jpg

There must be a way to do word wrap, but I’ll have to figure that out another time.

From experience, I like this kettle because the cord isn’t actually attached to the kettle itself. So you can take the kettle off the base and set it on the table, like a pitcher. I’ve added it to my Amazon wishlist.

More stimulating information here at Philoxenos. I aim to please. And you are all welcome to come over for good instant coffee any day :)

posted in Kitchen stuff | 5 Comments

10th July 2007

Homemade fajita seasoning

I originally got this recipe from TopSecretRecipes

Homemade Fajita Seasoning:

1 tbsp cornflour

2 tsp chili powder (you can’t get this in NZ, but you can substitute about 1/2 tsp of dried chili powder)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp sugar

3/4 tsp chicken bouillon (stock powder)

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp cumin

Mix it all together. This is one serving. Slice up some chicken breasts or beef and fry it in a pan. When it’s almost cooked, add some sliced bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, zucchini if you have it and cook until just little soft. Add the seasoning and stir it around. Add about 1/4 cup of water, maybe a bit more, to make a bit of a sauce. When the meat is all cooked, it’s done! Serve with tortillas, bit of sour cream, some cheese, avocado if you have it. YUM!

posted in Kitchen stuff | 5 Comments

6th July 2007

Easy Mexican dinner ideas

Wilm, a faithful reader from way back, has asked for some more Mexican food ideas. What follows is a meal that is influenced by Mexican food but I wouldn’t really call it Mexican food.


Cook some mince (ground beef) with a chopped up onion. Add one can of Watties Mexican Baked Beans (have you seen those? They’re new. They’ve also got an Italian, Indian, and some other flavour one) or Chili Beans. Mix well. Serve over nacho chips, topped with sour cream, shredded cheese, maybe some tomato and avocado. My husband loves this! So easy.

Another variation is to get a couple scoops of chips and serve over chips. In the States you can get something called Chili Cheese Fries, which are WONDERFUL. So this is kind of like chili cheese fries. But New Zealand chips are way better. For our North American readers, chips are what we call French Fries.

Check back later for a recipe for Black Bean Soup (which is delicious and takes about five minutes to make, once you have the beans cooked) and also a recipe for homemade fajita seasoning.

posted in Kitchen stuff | 2 Comments

4th July 2007

Sundried Tomato and Olive Chutney

New Zealand Readers, take note!! Barkers is now making a Sundried Tomato and Olive Chutney that is absolutely worth every penny (about $4 for a jar). I got a sample when we bought some bakery bread from Countdown and I used it on a homemade pizza. When Handsome took a bite, his eyes closed and he started chewing really slowly in order to savour the flavour. It’s delicious. The sample came with a coupon, which I saved, and a couple days ago I bought a jar. I bought it to use on our pizzas, in place of regular pizza sauce, but I’ve spread a bit on an English muffin for morning tea and it’s equally delicious.

Go buy some. You won’t regret it.

posted in Kitchen stuff | 2 Comments