Thursday, April 30, 2015

Making Beef Fit in the Freezer

I'm working hard to use things out of my freezer.  But last week I bought a bunch of meat because they sales were irresistible.  This was a shopping trip where I bought 4 packages of bone-in beef.  You can see it in the lower right corner.

The first thing I did was cut the meat off the bones.  I made these packages of 14 oz beef each.  I had cut some into cubes for beef stew and for steak & eggs (one of my favorite breakfasts) and some into strips for beef stroganoff or beef & broccoli.  The bag on the left includes the bones.

Next I boiled the bones to make beef broth.  I just covered them with water and set them on the stove to simmer.

In a few hours a nice stock had formed. I poured it though a strainer and threw out the bones & bits.

I put the liquid in the fridge to let the fat rise to the top.  After a few hours it looked like this.

I peeled the solid fat right off the top of the gelatinous stock and used the stock for beef & broccoli dinner.  I know it looks gross, but better out of the stock than in it!


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry

In an effort to use some frozen coconut milk I tried a new recipe for coconut chicken curry.  It was delicious!  I started with this recipe a friend had shared on Facebook and reduced the spices so my kids would eat it.  The best part is that it's a crockpot meal.  So easy!

First I took 2 pounds of chicken thighs from the freezer.  I used my kitchen shears to cut them into bite-sized pieces and trim off fat.  I put the pieces in to the crockpot along with:

  • 2 cups diced red & orange bell peppers (from freezer)
  • 1/2 diced yellow onion
  • 2 cups of baby carrot slices.
  • 2 cups of chopped tomatoes (from freezer)
  • 10 pieces of garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup coconut milk (from freezer)
  • 1 1/2 T curry powder
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1/4 t. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. coriander
I mixed it all together and it cooked on high for about 4 hours.  We ate it over rice and it made such a substantial amount that we almost had enough for a whole additional meal.  

I thought I'd share the recipe because it was so easy, yummy, and made great leftovers, too.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Monday Gluten-Free Menu Plan

I'm still working hard at defrosting the outside freezer.  I cooked a turkey yesterday and that used a big, awkward item that would have been difficult to fit in the inside freezer.  We also used a loaf of bread given to us by my friend and an entire 2# bag of frozen corn!

This week is another freezer-focused week.

Monday - Beef/Broccoli (beef I bought last week, broccoli stems from freezer)
Tuesday - Sweet potato/beans/corn mix (in freezer) with chopped up chipotle chicken patties (also in freezer)
Wednesday - Honey BBQ chicken patties (packed dinner)
Thursday - Turkey/rice/veggie soup
Friday - Roasted chicken (whole chicken in freezer)
Saturday - Butternut squash soup (using leftover chicken and a butternut squash given to us
Sunday - leftovers

Monday - Waffles & smoothie (freezer fruit)
Tuesday - quesadillas with chicken (from freezer)
Wednesday - leftovers
Thursday - sausages (packed lunch)
Friday - finger food lunch
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - chicken nuggets?

Smoothies (freezer fruit & coconut milk from freezer)
Yogurt with blueberries (freezer fruit)
Fruit leather? (freezer fruit)


Sunday, April 26, 2015

2015 Groceries Week 17 - $189.23

It was a big week!

The first shopping trip was to Albertsons on Tuesday.  I spent a whopping $67.56 when all I really wanted was some fruit and a head of lettuce.  I found lots of things on clearance.that I decided to buy: 5 dozen eggs for $5.99, several packages of beef averaging 1.4 pounds that were between $2.00 and $2.50 each, 10 packages of nitrate-free sausage for $2.00 each, 1# lunchmeat for $2.25, 12 oz fresh mozarella for $3.99, and 28 GF fruit/nut bars for $0.25 each.  I also bought some bananas, apples, a bell pepper, and a head of lettuce.

I am finally looking at my receipt for the first time and am AGHAST to see that I was charged for honeycrisp apples at $3.99/lb when I came home with jazz apples that were supposed to be $0.99/lb.  Yowza!  $12 bucks instead of $3!  Gah!  And it's too late to do anything about it.  Yet another reminder to check my receipt BEFORE I LEAVE THE STORE!  Unfortunately I'm usually racing out of Albertson's on Tuesday because I have to pick up a kiddo from an appointment.

I went to QFC Wednesday night with one kiddo just to kill some time and be together.  I spent $21.61 on broccoli, parsley, oranges, carrots I needed for a recipe, some clearance organic yogurt, 3# nitrate free sausage, 2 creamers, clearance Easter candy, and a couple jars of baby food.

I was hoping I'd done enough shopping for the week since I was nearing $90, but then I stopped into Fred Meyer Thursday night because I needed some fruit for a weekend brunch.  Then I spent $27.62 on salad dressing, basalmic vinegar, lettuce, clearance apples & oranges, cucumbers, GF noodles, Doritos, onions, tomatoes, basil, and 2# strawberries.

I stopped for a $5 watermelon on Friday at Safeway and picked up some hummus and a can of refried beans I needed for a recipe.  I spent $9.07.

Friday a friend gave me some food from her freezer.  She's involved in a gleaning ministry and sometimes shares with me when she has more than she can use.  This time is was 2 sourdough mini bread-boules, a package of sourdough dinner rolls, a bake-yourself loaf of organic artisan bread, a couple pears, a handful of apples, a bag of organic carrots, and that's all I can remember right now.  I love that my friend thinks of me and knows I won't let usable food go to waste.

Finally, I went to Fred Meyer today to get a couple things I wanted for meals this week.  I spent $49.88 on a lot of food.  I spent $1.67 on each box of Special K (trying out a new GF version), $0.99 for 5# potatoes, $0.99 for sour creams & cottage cheese, creamers were $2.00, $2.00, $1.95 and $1.75 after coupons, ice cream was $2.00 each, celery, bread for $1.25, clearance turkey sausage for $2.00 each, cheese for $5.99 each, and chicken nuggets were $4.25 after coupon.

I am still trying to use the contents of my freezer and buying so much meat this week did NOT help: over 5 pounds beef and 10 pounds of sausages at Albertsons, 3 pounds sausage at QFC, and 3 more pounds sausages at Fred Meyer do not help me free up freezer space!  Also, my sweet friend gave me bread that rightly should go in the freezer.  We ate the rolls and the bake-at-home loaf already, but I'm think some creamy broccoli cheddar soup might be good for those sourdough boules.

We also had our milk delivery for $13.47

Total Week 17: $189.23
Year-to-date Total: $1,466.67
Weekly Average: $86.27

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Applesauce - 10 More Quarts

I finally made some applesauce before we left on our trip.  This is about 10 quarts.

The apples I bought on clearance way back in March sat in the fridge for over 6 weeks before I finally got around to making applesauce!  Luckily, there was only one apple that had gotten yucky and couldn't be used.

These 10 quarts make over 130 total quarts for the year.  We're down to about a dozen jars after we use all this up, and we'll be out for a couple of months unless I find more apples on clearance.  I think I should plan on 150 quarts for next year.  I realize this sounds ridiculous, but we go through a minimum of 3 quarts a week and at 150 the math works out.

If you know of any available apples or have local friends with trees who want to share their apples I will happily take them and put them to good use!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Freezer Progress

We got back from California a couple of days ago.   Before we left I did a lot of cooking and used several things out of the freezer.  It was looking pretty frosty and I felt a sense of urgency.

I even moved lots of things into the inside freezer, packing it tightly on the top and bottom shelves.  There's still lots of space on the middle shelves though!  And I'm moving through the fruit quickly with smoothies every couple of days.

Imagine my surprise (and dread) when I got home and saw this:

Ugh, so discouraging!  I seriously just HAVE to defrost this baby, soon.  Today I pulled out a turkey to thaw, some tubs of applesauce, and made the kids chicken nuggets for lunch.  Dinner included a box of tofu patties - honey bbq flavor.

I don't know if I'll manage this big task by the end of the month, but I'm sure going to try!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

2015 Groceries Week 16 - $24.26

What's this?  $24.26 you say?  Yes!!!

We were visiting family all week in California and I planned ahead with meals.  I brought all of our dinners frozen, packed cereal and applesauce for breakfasts, and even brought a couple of lunch things for Disneyland packed lunches.  The only money we spent in Disneyland was at Starbucks one day which I don't count as groceries.

My one shopping trip was for a few more lunch items.  I went to the Von's near my Mom-in-law's which is basically Safeway.  I bought lettuce for $1.99, a loaf of bread for $2.49, 1# lunchmeat turkey for $5 and ham for $5, sour cream for $2.79, cream cheese for $1.50 (to make egg salad with Easter eggs we brought along), hummus for $2.99, and an 8-pack for juice boxes for $2.50.

This worked out really well.  I packed sandwiches for lunch two days at Disneyland and pulled pork (that I brought along from home) for the other two lunches.  We had salad with dinner a couple of nights and we used the sour cream for dinner topping with the chili and taco soup I had packed.

Long story short: Good planning saved us major bucks on vacation!  Wahoo!

Week 16 Total: $24.26
Year-to-Date 2015: $1277.44
Weekly Average: $79.84

Love, Katie

Sunday, April 12, 2015

2015 Groceries Week 15 - $117.22

This week was pretty typical.  I'm having a heck of a time staying under $100/week!  Cash only for week 16 so I know what I've spent.

I went to QFC Tuesday because I had an unexpectedly free 20 minutes.  I dashed in on the way home and picked up Tillamook 2# bricks for $5.99 each, clearance yogurt for $1.99/4-pack, clearance chicken broth for $0.29, clearance veggies for $0.15 and $0.39, clearance soup for $0.69, oranges, bananas, and some clearance Easter candy for 50% off.  I spent $27.62.

I went to Albertsons while one kiddo was at therapy.  I got 4 bags of Easter candy on clearance for a late celebration we had with family this weekend.  I also got 1# clearance ham for $2.99, a stuffed chicken breast for $2.87, a big pork sirloin roast for $1.79/lb, and it's not in the picture but I also spent $0.99 on a piece of pie from the bakery clearance rack.  I spent $24.03 on food.

Next up was Costco on Wednesday.  I spent $45.72 on chips, veggie straws, canned tomatoes, tortillas, and GF flour.  GF flour is on sale this month at Costco so I bought 2 bags.

I also made a trip to Champion Foods in Issaquah but somehow didn't take a photo.  The receipt has amounts, but not descriptions.  I spent $19.85 and I think this is what I bought: 10 boxes of organic Mac'n'Cheese for $0.50 each, 2 boxes of GF Mac'n'Cheese for $2.50 each, a box of 6 individual packs of GF cheesy crackers for $2.80, 4 bags of Kettle chips for $0.50 each and a bag of popcorn for $0.50.  We have a road trip coming up so this shopping trip was with snacks in mind.

I spent $117.22 this week and skipped our milk order.

Total year to date 2015: $1,253.18
Weekly Average 2015: $83.55

This is so high compared to $64.46 in 2014!  But is pretty OK compared to $81.71 in 2013.


Monday, April 6, 2015

2015 Groceries Week 14 - $58.03

Finally!  A lighter week to bring my average down.

I had a quick trip to Fred Meyer on Tuesday with a kiddo for a mommy-daughter date.  She has been looking for a particular toy and I got to pick up a few deals.  Win-win!  I spent $24.49 on coffee, bread, cottage cheese, clearance oranges, butter and clearance fresh mozzarella.

We were visiting my aunt over Easter and I picked up a few things over the several days we were there.  One trip to Fred Meyer I spent $3.98 on basil & gf spaghetti.  Another trip I spent $14.89 for milk, whipping cream, candy for Easter eggs, and tomatoes.

Our milk delivery was $13.47.

The whole week: $58.03
Year-to-date: $1,135.96
Weekly Average: $81.14