Monday, January 29, 2018

Menu Plan January 28 - February 3

How have we reached the end of January already???  Where did the month go?  The pantry challenge I've been participating in ends at the end of the month but I'm carrying on... We have three freezers.  One is in good shape, but the other two are still a giant mess.  I know the fridge freezer in my kitchen just needs to be cleaned out and most of it thrown out because it's too old, but the deep freeze still has serious piles of meat to be eaten.  So, we keep plugging away...and I keep looking for fresh ways to use ground pork (though apparently my family is perfectly happy with pork and cabbage stir fry and I don't REALLY need to keep looking!). 

Here's what's on the dinner menu this week...

Sunday:  Hubby wasn't hungry (late breakfast and lunch), so I made french toast and bacon for my daughter and myself. 
Monday:  Crescent roll hot dogs and chips.
Tuesday:  Sausage and farro
Wednesday:  Jambalaya
Thursday:  Chicken and orzo soup
Friday:  Picking up Carl's Jr. 
Saturday:  I'm hoping to try ribs in the Instant Pot, but we'll see how the day goes.

My daughter's schedule is about to become overly full.  This week, she has something four out of five evenings.  She's either overscheduled or underscheduled - there is no in between!  So I'm focusing on quick dinners for the most part (except Thursdays, when I work from home and have a little more flexibility).  

I've decided to designate Friday as our take-out day, at least for the time being.  My daughter and I take a family Zumba-type class from time to time, and the new session starts this week.  It's on Fridays at 6:00 p.m., which makes it tricky to actually cook dinner.  Plus, we are huge fans of fast food in this house, and if I designate a day, it makes it far less likely that we'll just run out and get it whenever.  So...Fridays (for now) it is. 

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Menu Planning and Pantry Challenge

This month, I've been participating in the Pantry Challenge over at Good Cheap Eats.  There are a couple of reasons for this - one, my grocery budget is out of control.  I tend to be more than a little bit impulsive when I go to the store.  I know a lot of people hate grocery shopping, but I actually love it.  It's one of my favorite things to do.  And when I see something on a serious sale or closeout, I always want to grab it!  The result is the second pantry and freezers are bursting at the seams.  We'll be getting our annual order of pig soon, and I need to get the big freezer cleaned out and defrosted, so this challenge came at the perfect time! 

You get to make your own rules during the challenge.  Since it's our first time, I decided I would just buy dairy, fresh and frozen produce (we don't keep much canned fruits and veggies on hand), and bread products (I rarely have time to make them these days and I'm not sure my family would eat them if I did!).  The only exception to this rule was last weekend when we went out of town with my brothers and sisters-in-law, and I bought ingredients for one breakfast, plus LOTS of snacks.  We came home with much of what I bought, so we have plenty of snacking to do!

One of the key elements (for me, at least) of the challenge is menu planning, to make sure that you are really using up the things you need to.  Now, I could probably do this challenge for two months or more (and we probably will) before I see the back of the pantry.  And I'm up to my eyeballs in ground pork products (plain and breakfast sausage), so it's been a challenge to keep things varied and tasty. And, to be honest, I bought about five pounds of ground beef just before the challenge started (we were out and it was on a good sale), so it wouldn't be all pork all the time.'s what's on the dinner menu this week:

Sunday:  Chicken strips, macaroni and potato salads, coleslaw
Monday: Orange Chicken (frozen from Trader Joe's - delicious!), green beans
Tuesday:  Steak and pepper sandwiches
Wednesday: Pork Shepherd's Pie
Thursday: Ham hocks and beans
Friday: Pork fried rice
Saturday: I think we're getting takeout because it's going to be a crazy busy day!

What are you eating this week?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Closing out the 2017 Reading Challenge

I'm not going to lie...I really stopped tracking my reading challenge.  Turns out I'm still resistant to being told what to read!  I did read end up reading something like 70 books during the year, they just didn't all fall into neat little categories as suggested here.  But here's what DID apply (and now that I'm actually writing it out, I hit most of the categories!). 

The 26-book 2017 reading challenge

  1. A book you read in school - Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  2. A book from your childhood - On the Banks of Plum Creek, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  3. A book published over 100 years ago - Dracula, by Bram Stoker
  4. A book published in the last year - The Magnolia Story, by Chip and Joanna Gaines
  5. A non-fiction book - In Cheap We Trust, by Lauren Weber
  6. A book written by a male author - Stranger than Fanfiction, by Chris Colfer
  7. A book written by a female author - The Sage Stone Prophecy, by NS Wikarski
  8. A book by someone who isn’t a writer (think Paul Kalathani or Richard Branson) - Scrappy Little Nobody, by Anna Kendrick (and I think this is a strange choice, because, if you've written a book, doesn't that automatically make you a writer???)
  9. A book that became/is becoming a film - Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly
  10. A book published in the 20th Century - On the Way Home, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  11. A book set in your hometown/region -
  12. A book with someone’s name in the title - Caroline: Little House, Revisited, by Sarah Miller
  13. A book with a number in the title - One for the Money, by Stephanie Plum
  14. A book with a character with your first name -
  15. A book someone else recommended to you -
  16. A book with over 500 pages - Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
  17. A book you can finish in a day - Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  18. A previously banned book -
  19. A book with a one-word title - Ghosted, by J.M. Darhower
  20. A book translated from another language - A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
  21. A book that will improve a specific area of your life - 10% Happier, by Dan Harris
  22. A memoir or journal - Talking as Fast as I Can, by Lauren Graham
  23. A book written by someone younger than you -
  24. A book set somewhere you’ll be visiting this year - Black Hills, by Dan Simmons
  25. An award-winning book -
  26. A self-published book - 

So, I'm not going to do another reading challenge this year.  I will, however, continue to track my books on Goodreads.  I'm also going to give myself permission to not finish books I'm really not enjoying.  Case in point - Fire and Fury.  I was able to get it from the library within a few days of its release date.  Read a couple of chapters, and decided I didn't want to give the subject that much of my time and attention.  So, I returned it.  Someone else will enjoy it far more than I would, I'm sure...

Happy reading in 2018!