Monday, September 08, 2014

Freezer/Pantry Cleanout and Menu Plan

Without really even realizing it, over the summer I was working on cleaning out my pantry.  I have a computerized inventory system that my husband created, which prints out a shopping list that shows me what I'm low on for things that I've given a minimum required quantity (like chili beans - heaven help me if I run out of chili beans for my daughter, she can eat a whole can at one sitting).  It's been weeks, maybe months, since I printed out that shopping list.  Gradually, things are being used up and the shelves are becoming a little emptier and a little more manageable.  As fall stock up season is coming upon us (like canned and dry goods that always go on sale for the holidays), I need to make a more concerted effort in this area.  I've always been a bit compulsive at the grocery store, buying things just because they were on sale or they sounded good, without a real plan.  The upshot of this is that there's a lot of old food in my pantry that I've never worked into my meal plans.

I've also found my freezers to be bursting at the seams.  We were eating them down over the summer to make room for the chickens I was going to buy from my sister-in-law.  The chickens have arrived and they are ENORMOUS.  Once again, the freezer is filled!  I can't find much, and I want to make sure I have room for that free Thanksgiving turkey I am offered at the grocery store every year, but always have to turn down because there is just no room for it.

So, in an effort to eat what we have, I find myself once again needing to make a more concerted effort at menu planning, to use up what we have.  My goal for the month is to only buy bread, produce, and dairy.  I have plenty of baking supplies, breakfast food, and meat (though it appears we'll be eating a lot of sausage).  Unfortunately, other than tomatoes and tomatillos, our garden produce is just about done for the season (I planted cucumbers and zucchini a couple of weeks ago but I have no idea if anything will actually come of it).  I may get a few more raspberries but most of this second crop of the season has dried up before ripening. 

And here's our "let's use it up" menu plan for the week:

Sunday:  last night I made baked pork chops and gravy with spinach stuffing balls and salad
Monday:  Kielbasa and cabbage (I have purple potatoes in the pantry so this could look interesting!)
Tuesday:  Taco salad (I did buy Doritos for this one but everything else is already on hand)
Wednesday:  Pigs in a blanket (I LOVE this recipe!)
Thursday:  Spanish rice casserole (I have pre-cooked rice in the freezer so I'll add the turmeric and all the onions to the ground beef mixture).
Friday:  School fundraiser at Panda Express.

Have a great week everyone!  There are also tons of menu planning ideas over over at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Monday, September 01, 2014

Caitlyn's Ramen Egg Flower Soup

Hello!  I'm back!  I certainly didn't intend to take the summer off but it appears I've done just that.  I was brought back by a delicious soup my daughter made for lunch today, which she asked me to post.  I'm very excited that at the tender age of five, she already understands that, except for baking, it is perfectly ok to use a recipe as a guideline, not as a rule.  The recipe she was following in her cookbook called merely for ramen, six spinach leaves, three mushrooms, and 1/4 cup each of corn and peas.  Caitlyn's version is much more flavorful!

Caitlyn's Ramen Egg Flower Soup
(makes 3 large servings)

1 package ramen (I recommend pork, chicken, or oriental flavor)
1 large handful fresh spinach
1/2 c. corn kernels
1/2 c. peas
6 mushrooms, chopped
3 c. water (or two cups chicken broth and one cup water)
2 t. chicken base or 2 bouillon cubes (omit if using chicken broth)
1 t. garlic powder
1 T. dried minced onion
pinch dried red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten

Break noodles into a two or three quart saucepan.  Add water or chicken broth, ramen seasoning packet, vegetables, and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes or until spinach is wilted and the vegetables are cooked through.  Slowly drizzle egg into the soup to form ribbons in the mixture.  Stir gently, and cook two minutes more.  Serve immediately.