Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mushrooms, Zucchini, and Onions, Oh My!

Okay, I went a little overboard buying veggies last week. We had enough leftovers to get us through Thursday, then we were basically gone all weekend (busy working Easter weekend at the church) SO this week I have very little shopping to do this week...hurray! It's because we filled up on wholesome goodness at the church carnival-you know cookies, donuts, and pancake covered sausages on a stick : P

So here's what I had "not so leftover" this week:
1/2 jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 jicama
2 cucumbers
1/2 head of lettuce
bag of green beans
bunch of broccoli
4 zucchini
5 lbs of carrots
2 containers of mushrooms
onions (staple food)
sweet potatoes
regular potatoes

Here's what I'm going to make with it:
*Chicken Cacciatore
*Beef, mushroom, and barley soup
Mushroom, onion, and cheddar quesadillas
*Chicken and vegetable curry over rice
Chicken meatloaf with potatoes and green beans
Salads and sandwiches for lunches
Something with the leftover beef...or I'll just freeze it to use later

* indicates something cooked in the crockpot...my favorite type of cooking : )

Friday, April 15, 2011

A drop in the bucket

In my day to day routine, this is a "drop in the bucket", literally and figuratively. It's a little thing I do that makes me feel a little more organized, like I'm taking a bite out of all the things I have to get done. It's one of those tasks that can be done quickly, but gives a sense of accomplishment.

Once upon a time, I had a car that was just that, a car. It drove from place to place. Cleaning it out was something I did say, um, once per year. Add kids to the formula and this is what happens...weekly!

And yes, I'm "the car seat lady" and yes, I will tell you that each of those items has a force of their weight times speed which means that 1 lb toy going 60 mph will be a 60 lb force in a crash...which I think is why this starts to drive me nuts! Particularly the boat, but why they were permitted to bring the boat in the car is beyond me! Okay, well, it went like this. T asked if she could bring the boat. I said no because it was too big. So she asked if she could bring half of the boat. Being she's only 4, I was impressed she knew what half was so I said yes. Then as we were leaving A found the other half and wanted to bring it. So they discretely had ganged up on me, getting the whole boat into the car! I guess that's another story though.

So, I think it was Fly Lady that suggested having a day per week to clean the car. I'm not that organized. I have a "this is driving me nuts" day when I clean the car. I try to make it fast and easy...a drop in the bucket...and that's what I use, a bucket. I take it out to the car with me. All the "salvageable" stuff (toys, sippy cups, hair clips, etc) go into the bucket. Trash goes in the trash can in the garage. So when I'm done, I have this (which to me looks much more manageable to me)...

well, and this.
Looks good huh? That cheese cracker is almost as fresh as the day it was dropped there, right? Ha ha! So this gets vacuumed. Funny story about vacuuming... about a year ago my husband bought us a shop vac. I thought it was a waste of money, but guess who uses it the most now? Okay, I admit I was wrong...the shop vac rocks! I use it every couple of weeks on the car.

Anyways, so once that is vacuumed, all I have to do it sort the bucket. Usually I start at the kitchen sink, dig out the sippy cups, then most everything else goes on the toy shelf. It takes less than five minutes.

PS Lest you think I take the car seats out every time, refer to the picture before this and it will be pretty obvious I don't ; ) So next time I check your car seat, don't get all embarrassed about the cheerios/fruit loops/goldfish crackers on the seat!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yes, there is a method to my madness!

So to answer the question, yes, there is a method to my madness! It's not rocket science. People have been doing this for ages...just making the most out of what we already have and buying what is less expensive. Each week, I have a scavenger hunt through the fridge and take "inventory". My goal is to figure out what has expired, what soon will, and what is still perfectly fine.

My inventory this week was this:
-leftover vegetable soup
-leftover enchiladas
-leftover meatloaf (complete in meals with green beans)
-cauliflower (starting to turn)
-tad of sour cream
-a few stalks of celery
-half container of (not so) fresh mushrooms
-a handful or so of carrots
-already chopped onion
-2 zucchini
(and whole onions...which are a staple in our house. If there are less than 2, I buy more.)

Note: I don't include fruit in my inventory except to figure out what to buy for snacks.

Once I do that, then I start looking at the produce sales to figure out what to make for dinner. I don't search meat sales because I buy that ahead of time when it is on sale and freeze it. I keep staples in the house (spices, sauces, etc) From what I had I knew I could make:

1. leftover meatloaf (this was SUPER easy...see above list! Ha ha!)
2. leftover enchiladas with cauliflower poppers (cauliflower was on the verge of use or toss!)
3. leftover vegetable soup paired with grilled cheese (another SUPER easy recipe)
4. beef-barley soup (which uses carrots, onion, and celery up)
5. beef-broccoli with rice (which uses the rest of the 2 lb container of beef and the broccoli, plus I threw the mushrooms in for good measure thinking maybe T would think it's chicken and mushrooms...I can dream right?)
6. chicken cacciatore (uses 2 zucchini, then I bought 2 more at Safeway on sale)
7. sweet and sour chicken (used onion and carrots. I bought the peppers even though they weren't on sale. Once A took a bite out of one at Sprouts I felt a little obligated to buy it ; P)
8. Cucumber sandwiches for MOPS tea party (uses leftover sour cream, cucumbers were 49 cents each at Sprouts)

About once per week, I spend some time pretending I work at Panda Express. I chop up the items needed for the recipes I will make and put them in square containers (because they fit the fridge better). My kids usually crowd me because they try to sneak the bell peppers! So once it's all chopped it looks like this.

The bag on the left is the beef-barley soup in a "to go" bag (for the friend that just had a baby). The top middle is sweet and sour chicken. The bottom middle is cacciatore chicken. The right is beef broccoli (with added mushrooms). Behind those are washed and ready lettuce, jicama, and snap peas. If they are washed and ready I am more likely to actually eat them! I didn't shop until after the meatloaf, soup, and enchiladas were already eaten so they aren't pictured.

So now when it's time to cook, I only have "3" ingredients instead of say "10" to put in the crockpot. So making chicken cacciatore involves putting some frozen chicken breasts, the vegetable bin, and spaghetti sauce in the crockpot. Then later in the day, I just boil some noodles to go with it. Sweet and sour chicken is chicken, vegetable bin, canned pineapple and 2 jars of sauce, then I can also make some rice. Isn't that fun? The best part to me is how it frees up that hour before dinner!

Friday, April 8, 2011

All aboard!

Super easy box choo-choo train!

You need:
4 diaper boxes (or two warehouse size ones cut in half)
pipe cleaners (or rope or yarn, etc)

Cut the top flaps off diaper boxes. If you have two warehouse size boxes, close (and secure with tape/glue) the open end, then cut the box down the middle lengthwise. Poke holes in the ends of the boxes. Thread the pipe cleaners through the holes, then twist them to secure. All aboard!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bunny Sandwich

So in November of 2009, I started this blog because I was going to post the recipes I made with the produce from my co-op basket. As you can see, it was a blazing success ; ) So now, I'm going to use it for our "crazy showcase"...the fun things we do at our home to keep life interesting.

Tuesday we made "bunny sandwiches". It's super simple. Previously, we've made Valentine sandwiches, gingerbread man sandwiches, and daisy sandwiches with cute kiwi or strawberry centers. I just take the sandwich, then cut it with a cookie cutter. No crust, happy kids, beautiful! So when we made our "bunny sandwiches" on Tuesday, my almost 4 year old was distressed her bunny did not have a body! I took the leftover crust, cut it in half, placed it below the head, and ta-da! The bunny had a body, everyone was happy, and the meal went on : )

By the way the "placemat" is my 4 year old's idea. She used a princess tic-tac-toe board and she now has a Disney princess placemat. It's giving me ideas of how we could make more. I'm thinking old playing cards, some card stock, and clear shelving paper to "laminate" them, but that's another post, right?

Looking for some more fun? Check out my friend's blog below!

Fun On A Dime