Monday, December 18, 2017

How I Do Meals

For meal planning I figure out what we would like to eat for the week, and I try to come up with cheaper meals for most of it.  This can be based on what is on sale that week, and what may be left in your pantry or freezer.  A google or Pinterest search often serves as my inspiration.  Some of the meals will be favorites we eat again and again, Korean beef being one of them.  I write out on a sheet of paper 7 breakfasts (often it is the same 2 or 3 just repeated), 7 lunches, and 7 dinners.  I also figure on snacks.  For snacks I like to have fresh apples available, bananas for as long as they last (couple days at most usually).  Sometimes peanut butter on celery.
Once I have the meals figured out, I go ahead and make the shopping list for whatever I need that I do not already have in my pantry or freezer, listing all the ingredients I will need to buy to make the meals.  Then I am armed for the grocery store and for the week ahead!
Here are a few cheap meal ideas that we like:

PBJ Protein Oats from Fitness magazine

1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup water
1 serving vanilla protein powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon natural jam or jelly
1. Combine oats and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and let oatmeal simmer until 90% of the water is absorbed.
3. Remove from heat and whisk in protein powder and vanilla.
4. Pour oatmeal into a bowl and top with peanut butter and jelly/jam.

A new recipe I want to try from GreenLiteBites:

Flour free banana muffins
Banana Oatmeal Cups with Chocolate Chips

  • 3 mashed bananas (the more ripe the better!)
  • 1 cup vanilla Almond milk (you could use skim but you may want to add a little sweetener)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp Baking powder
  • 3 cups (240g) Old Fashion or Rolled Oats
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp (42g) mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Mix all ingredients except the chocolate chips together, and let sit while you prepare the muffin pans.

Spray a muffin pan and/or liners with with non-stick spray.

Stir the chocolate chips into the oatmeal batter.

Divide batter into 15 muffin cups. They should be just about filled.

Bake 20-30 minutes, you’ll see the edges just starting to brown and they will be firm to the touch.

The muffins may stick when hot but are removed easily when cooled for a bit.


Mini frittatas from

For a fun and easy morning meal, try these small-scale egg dishes. Baked in individual muffin cups, they ensure that everyone gets the mix-ins they like.

What you’ll need

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Assorted mix-ins (such as shredded cheese, diced vegetables, and cooked and chopped bacon, ham, or sausage)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

How to make it

  1. Mini Frittatas - Step 1

    Heat your oven to 350º F and coat a 6-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. Mini Frittatas - Step 2Whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, and salt in a medium bowl, then evenly distribute the egg mixture among the muffin cups.
  3. Mini Frittatas - Step 3

    Add about 2 tablespoons of mix-ins to each cup, then sprinkle on a bit of Parmesan cheese, if you like.

  4. Bake the frittatas until they are puffy and the edges are golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. (If necessary, run a butter knife around the edge of each one to loosen them before removing them from the pan.) Makes 6 mini frittatas.



Cheap Korean Beef
Note: you definitely want to use as lean of beef as you can get for this dish or it will be oily and gross. On that note . . .
1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 - 1/2 cup brown sugar (I like it sweet so I usually do closer to 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup soy sauce (I use low-sodium)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced (see note)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red peppers (to desired spiciness)
salt and pepper
1 bunch green onions, diced (don’t skip this!)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown hamburger with garlic in the sesame oil. Drain most of the fat and add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper and red peppers. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Serve over steamed rice and top with green onions.

Whole wheat torillas

black beans

Fry in a skillet until browned and cheese is melted.  Serve with salsa and/or sour cream and/or guacamole.
Another meal I like is either sloppy joe mixture or chili or like burrito mixture stuffed into a hollow green pepper and baked until pepper is tender and filling is hot. Can be topped with a bit of shredded cheese to make it luxurious.  
Here is a soup that looks yummy and convenient:
This dish might sound slightly nutty as well – whoever thought to turn hamburgers into soup.  John was skeptical but even he had to admit how DELICIOUS it was!  We, of course, lightened up by using less salt, low-sodium chicken stock (over beef), and less cheese.  But, no matter.  It was still delightful…just like me!
Hamburger Soup (adapted from A Family Feast)
Serves:  6
6 ounces ditalini pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups onions, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 pound ground turkey
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1-14 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 quarts low-sodium chicken stock (or beef)
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6 ounces baby spinach
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese*
Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Cook the onions and celery for 3-5 minutes, until onion is translucent.  Then, add turkey and brown.  Transfer to the slow cooker.  Stir in tomato paste, diced tomatoes, stock, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce.  Let cook over low heat for 4-6 hours.  Stir in the spinach, reserved pasta, salt, and pepper.  Stir 3-5 minutes, until spinach is wilted.  Pour into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese.
*We used the cheese as a garnish instead of stirring more of it into the soup like the original recipe to cut calories.  Sprinkling it on top still gave us that nice taste!

Engagement Chicken from 100 recipes every woman should know cookbook (cheap)

1 whole chicken (approximately 4 pounds)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 3 whole lemons—including 1 sliced for garnish
1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Fresh herbs for garnish (4 rosemary sprigs, 4 sage sprigs, 8 thyme sprigs, and 1 bunch fl at-leaf parsley)


1. Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the giblets from the chicken, wash the chicken inside and out with cold water, then let the chicken drain, cavity down, in a colander for 2 minutes.

2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place the chicken breast-side down in a medium roasting pan fi tted with a rack and pour the lemon juice all over the chicken, both inside and out. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper inside and out.

3. Prick 2 whole lemons three times each in three different places with a fork and place them deep inside the cavity. Chicken cavity size may vary, so if one lemon is partly sticking out, that’s fine. (Tip: If the lemons are stiff, roll them on the countertop with your palm before pricking to get the juices flowing.)

4. Put the chicken in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F, and roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

5. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Using tongs or two wooden spoons, turn the chicken breast- side up. Insert a meat thermometer in the thigh, and return the chicken to the oven and roast for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the meat thermometer reads 180°F and the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a fork. Continue roasting if necessary. Keep in mind that cooking times in different ovens vary; roasting a chicken at 350°F takes approximately 18-20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15 minutes.

6. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving. And here’s the secret: Pour the juices from the roasting pan on top of the sliced chicken— this is the “marry me juice.” Garnish with fresh herbs and lemon slices.



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