… little bit of this, little bit of that, a whole lotta about the kids

Category Archives: Getting Organized

I’ve been promising pictures of my obsession for a while.  Picks and cutters are my worst offences.  I have a fair amount of mayo cups and soy sauce bottles, mostly purchased before I actually started packing Kidlet meals.  Once I realized how little use those would get for us right now, I stopped picking those up, no matter how adorable.  Picks and cutters though — those I can use everyday in our american style food meals.

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My pick collection.  At least most of it.  I’ve got some bamboo picks and some long pinwheel picks that don’t fit in here.  There wasn’t space to separate everything.  So all my animal picks are dumped in one container.  All the primary color, non fork picks are together, and so on.

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Soy sauce bottles, furikake containers and mayo cups.  As mentioned, they don’t get used too much.  Also my stash of baran.  I find that I don’t use them much as food separators, but I like the small ones tucked in his lunch to add a little happy and a little color (as in today’s waffle breakfast).

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These are the other assorted non bento specific tools that I use.  The brushes are used with food coloring (not shown) or to brush on the luster dust (little bottles in the middle) for a shine.  The purple handled tools are the quilling tools that I’ve mentioned before that I use for cutting cheese/meat out.

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Miscellaneous stuff.  Nori punches, egg shapers, sandwich imprinters, various paper, silicon and plastic cups.

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This is the Go To box of cutters.  It’s got most of my mini sized cutters as well as all the bento specific cutters I have purchased, used for making figures and such.  These (and the rest of the cutting tools) are stored in 12×12″ flat boxes meant for storing scrapbooking papers/pages.

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The next box of cutters mostly is stored away.  It’s got a lot of theme cutters that I would spcifically go looking for to fit a particular lunch, so it doesn’t need to sit out.

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Finally are the large cutters that I use often enough (not necessarily just in bento.  I might dino or rocket up his snacks and things too) to keep out.  This also has the seasonal items in it.  After halloween/fall I will take out those and bring out the christmas ones, etc. (Yes, sadly it is true, there are even more cutters not pictured because they are seasonal and packed away elsewhere until its time to bring them out).

I think I need to make a collage of these photos for my desktop; next time I feel like browsing online bento stores, maybe seeing all the stuff would put my urge to spend in check 😉


My week was beastly busy.  I’m still not recovered and its Sunday night! Let’s just say that I didn’t stick well to plan last week and leave it at that. =0 

 

Menu Plan Monday

 

 

Monday:  Quick Crescent Taco Bake, Black Beans & Corn Salad, Green Salad

Tuesday:  Coq Au Vin-Guine from Brian Boitano for the Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge, steamed Carrots, Garlic Bread (whole wheat), Salad

Wednesday: Italian Roast Chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans

Thursday:  Marinated (indoor) Grilled Steak, roasted cauliflower, pierogis

Friday: Fall Fun Night at School (Mini Subs, Fruit, Milk, pre-ordered)

Saturday: Honey-Jalapeno Chicken and Sesame Soba Noodles, edamame

Sunday:  Creamy Shrimp Chowder, Rolls

 

For breakfasts we always have oatmeal, cold cereal, scrambled eggs, toast, freezer muffins, yogurt, cottage cheese and fruits to choose from.  I also keep us stocked with lunch meats, cheeses, etc for bentos.    My lunches this week will be leftovers and a pot of soup.  Probably this recipe  but with sausages; I have ended up with an extra pack of them. Even when not specifically listed, I usually have a mixed greens salad and fruit available for dinner.

 

This post is linked Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie.  Check out the hundreds of other menus posted.


I didn’t spend much on groceries last week.  I didn’t entirely follow my meal plan, but instead we ended up eating out of the freezer and pantry more.  The hubby wanted pizza one night, didn’t feel well another night (so I didn’t make what we’d planned, and just fed the kidlet and I something easy).  So I’m spending a little more this week than normally.  After 4 weeks of rubber chickens, we’re a little tired of simple roast chicken and shredded chicken X’s, so I’m including a couple of whole piece chicken recipes.

 

 

 

Monday: Salmon Cakes, Lentils, Broccoli and Carrots 

Tuesday:  Spicy Shrimp and Pasta Casserole for the Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge., Salad

Wednesday: Crockpot Chicken Cordon Bleu, Green Beans, Cheese Toast

Thursday: Kielbasa with Red Beans and Rice (I mostly follow this recipe, except I don’t put all the meat in it.  I just serve the Kielbasa, cut on the bias, lightly sauteed, on the side instead, Salad

Friday: Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta, Peas (I’m not sure if the chicken sauce stuff is available here, but if not, I’ll improvise)

Saturday:  Rib Eye Steaks with Tomato Tapenade, potato wedges, broccoli and cauliflower (missed last week)

Sunday:  Pizza or Eat Out

 

For breakfasts we always have oatmeal, cold cereal, scrambled eggs, toast, freezer muffins, yogurt, cottage cheese and fruits to choose from.  I’ve got ingredients to make mini waffle grills this week (apple and cheese between 2 waffles as a sandwich). I also keep us stocked with lunch meats, cheeses, etc for bentos.  I’ll probably be making a big pot of soup for my lunches.  Maybe my mom’s clam soup; I have all the ingredients on hand.  Even when not specifically listed, I usually have a mixed greens salad and fruit available for dinner.

 


This week I used a few recipes that I have picked up from other folks’ MPM posts.  I don’t always do a very good job of noting where it came from; I snag them and stick them with my recipes.  If you ever spot one of yours and I haven’t credited you, please let me know, and I will be happy to link back. 

 

 

Monday: Roast Chicken with Lemon, Orange and Basil (method below), roasted fingerlings (farmers market), broccoli

Tuesday:  Bobby Flay’s Shrimp and Grits for Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge, green beans

Wednesday: Quick Crescent Taco Bake, Green Salad, Fruit 

Thursday: Thai Red Curry (from Modern Gal) Rice, Fruit

Friday: Chicken Cacciatore Pasta, Asparagus

Saturday:  Salmon Turnovers (from the Happy Housewife), Salad, (frozen) corn on the cob

Sunday: Rib Eye Steaks with Tomato Tapenade, potato wedges, broccoli and cauliflower

 

For breakfasts we always have oatmeal, cold cereal, scrambled eggs, toast, freezer muffins, yogurt, cottage cheese and fruits to choose from.  This week I’ll make a Croissant Breakfast Casserole as well.  I also keep us stocked with lunch meats, cheeses, etc for bentos. I’m probably going to mix up another big pot of taco soup and bake some corn muffins (extra for freezer) for my lunches.  For some reason, its been tasting really good and I’m not sick of it yet.  Even when not specifically listed, I usually have a mixed greens salad and fruit available for dinner.

 

For the roast chicken, I won’t be cooking it whole this week.    I’m going to basically butterfly (?  there’s some fancy name for it, i’m sure) it and flatten it out.  Season with salt and pepper, squeeze a lemon and orange over the top (tuck the rinds under), drizzle with evoo, sprinkle with dried basil and roast until done.


I’ve mentioned that I plan out / sketch my bentos before and someone asked me about that.  Basically I have a three ring binder and I jot down my ideas for a bento on a piece of paper and stick it in there.  Sometimes I actually trace around the box I’m going to use and sketch it to scale, other times I just roughly freehand the shape to get the general idea.  I put in some ideas of how I want to fill the space.  If I’ve planned it out specifically down to the last blueberry, I’ll make a list of what I need for the content — which makes it really easy for gathering up my supplies all at once, and speeds up the assembly process.

I don’t have a scanner, so I made do with my camera.  It’s not ideal, but you should be able to see enough to get the general idea.  You can click the thumbnails for a larger version of the photos.

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Click for larger picture

This is the sketch that I did for the Sonic bento.   You can see comparing the sketch to the reality that they aren’t identical.  I ended up with less room than I thought I’d have and cut out the broccoli, spread the carrot rings in a half circle around the sandwich, etc.  Lower left of the picture has my list:  Blueberries or Grapes, Strawberries, Melon or Mango, Broccoli, Carrot, Lettuce, Quiche or Circle Sandwich, Bologna, White Cheese, Nori, Ranch.  Next to that is the list of tools:  Heart Picks, Scissors, X-acto, Quiller, Tiny Circle Cutter, Small Flower Cutter. 

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Click for larger picture

This is the sketch  of the “Shy Little Kitten” that the kidlet wanted me to actually do when he spotted it on Thursday.  Unlike the Sonic sketch, where I was really specific, this one didn’t get that far, since I didn’t think I would be able to do it.  I didn’t make a list of supplies and tools, for instance.  It ended up quite different, as you can see from yesterday‘s post.

This doesn’t take as long as it might seem.  I do it while the baby is sleeping.  She’ll be sprawled scross my left shoulder and I’ll have a clip board sitting next to my right side.  I work on it during the few hours that she will sleep NOT on me, as she sleeps near by and I’m watching TV.  Eventually, I *hope* I’ll be able to do my bentos, even the character / cute ones without this kind of preparation.  But hey, I’ve done fewer than 30 total so far and it’s not second nature.  Yet!


 

I didn’t do as well this week sticking to plan or budget.  I was sick a good portion of it, and ended up buying convenience foods, ordering in and otherwise paying over and above since I didn’t feel up to cooking.  I think I can make up for it this week a bit.  I don’t have to buy any meats this week except tilapia, the rest is already in the freezer, and I tried to pick  sides I could prepare mostly from my pantry.  My grocery list is pertty small; most of it is lunch making stuff.  So I *should* be able to come in budget for the month once it averages out.  Knock Wood.

 

 I’m running out of farmers market weekends, which makes me sad.  I’ve been relying on thier beautiful inexpensive produce, especially for the kidlet’s bento lunches. Although they continue through the end of October, what’s available isn’t as appealing.  This is Oregon, after all.  September was already pretty bleak, without much local items aside from apples, pears and some squashes.  Our favorite heirloom tomato vendor has had a few baskets the last couple of weeks, but as of today, it looks like he’s exhausted what he can coax from his plants.  What even grows locally to be harvested in October?  Squash, brussel sprouts and pumpkin.  Not easy lunch packing materials!

Monday: Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Beef Bolognese Sauce, Green Salad

Tuesday:  Salmon Cakes & Tartar Sauce, Garlic Noodles , Asparagus, Pecorino and Red Onion Salad for Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge.

Wednesday: Italian Roast Chicken, Tomato Bruschetta, Green Beans

Thursday: Chicken Ramen Stir Fry

Friday: Ribeye, Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons (Buying the gnocchi, way too much work from scratch!  Will toss cooked gnocchi with zucchini ribbons and shallots that I sauted in browned butter), brussels sprouts

Saturday:  Bacon Ranch Tilapia (method below), Rice, Peas

Sunday: Chicken & Dumplings (chicken broth, veggies, cooked chicken, poultry seasoning topped with bisquick dumplings), Fruit Salad

For breakfasts we always have oatmeal, cold cereal, scrambled eggs, toast, freezer muffins, yogurt, cottage cheese and fruits to choose from.   This week we also have Apple Cheddar Bagels and link sausage. I also keep us stocked with lunch meats, cheeses, etc for bentos.  My lunches this week are  taco soup (4x), chicken salad on greens (2x), and veggie ramen stir fry (1x). Even when not specifically listed, I usually have a mixed greens salad and fruit available for dinner.

For the tilapia on Saturday, I’ll fry up a few slices of bacon.  Once nice and crispy, I’ll remove from the pan and set aside.  Dust the fish with some flour mixed with part of a packet of dry hidden valley ranch dressing, and then fry them up in the bacon fat (sinful, but tasty!).  Set fish aside.  Deglaze pan with a little veggie stock, add a squeeze of lemon, some chopped green onions and crumbled bacon. Swirl in a pat of butter, and serve over fish immediately.

Linked to: Menu Plan Monday.  Check out all the other menus you can find this week!


Last week I did very well.  I stuck to my list and came in under budget.  Thanks for hosting MPM Organizing Junkie; joining the planners there was the kick in the pants I needed to start getting my budget under control!

 

 

Monday: Cube Steak with Balsamic Glazed Onions (method below), Corn, Garlic Toast (whole wheat bread)

Tuesday:  Shrimp & Grits, Whatever dark leafy green looks the best when I’m shopping cooked via Alton Browns Recipe for the Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge.

Wednesday: Crockpot Roast Chicken, Onions and Fennel, Pea Salad (Sydney at Food for Foodies reminded me how much I love it!), Mashed Potato

Thursday: Shredded Chicken Paprikash, Noodles, Broccoli

Friday: Steak Tacos

Saturday: Honey-Jalapeno Chicken and Sesame Soba Noodles, Snowpeas and Mushrooms

Sunday: 5 Spice Roast Salmon, Wild Rice Blend, Green Beans

 

For the balsamic glazed onions, I cook up the beef in a large saute pan, then remove it from the pan and cover with foil to keep warm.  I dump diced onions in the pan, adding a little evoo if necessary, and saute them until they are a little soft.  Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup stock (beef for this, but I do these onions on chicken cutlets too, and I’d use chicken stock then), and bring to a boil  Add maybe a quarter cup of balsamic vinegar (not the aged thick expensive stuff, just a decent grocery quality is fine) and a good dollop of honey.  The vinegar fumes up really bad, but it tastes so good in the end, you won’t mind.  Stirring occasionally, adjusting heat to keep it at a low boil, cook until liquids reduce by half.  Return meat to pan, turn to coat, sprinkle with fresh chopped herb if you have some on hand, and serve.

For breakfasts we always have oatmeal, cold cereal, scrambled eggs, toast, freezer muffins, yogurt, cottage cheese and fruits to choose from.   This week we also have waffles from the freezer and apple topping.  I also keep us stocked with lunch meats, cheeses, etc for bentos.  My lunches this week are clam soup (4x), shredded chicken wraps with cilantro mayo and veggies (2x) and leftover shrimp and grits (1x), Even when not specifically listed, I usually have a mixed greens salad and fruit available for dinner.

 Find more menus from other MPM participants


If you read the old blog, you might recognize “Kristen’s Estrogen Balancing Life Changing Plan”.  It was developed in part through several visits with a dietician, as a way to overcome my estrogen dominance and “symndrome X”.  However, this was pre-band, and I am considering re-visiting, as the portions and amount of food is somewhat unrealistic for me now.  I don’t plan on tackling everything at once.  Right now I am working on the meal planning, the shopping, the water, and the food journal.  I’ll add another task as I get a grip on these.  Wish me luck.  It’s time to get my butt in gear and lose the second half of this excess weight.

 

Kristen’s Lifechanging Plan

 

Keep Food Journal

Fluids: 64oz+ non-calorie, non caffeinated fluids daily.

3 meals + 2-3 Snacks daily

Never more than 5 hours between Meals/snacks

Plan meals 1-2 weeks ahead

Grocery Shop 1x/week with list

Emphasize high fiber carbs

Choose soy protein several times a week

Supplements [These need updated for current, so removed the list]

30m Cardio Exercise 5x / Week

Weight Training, 2x / Week

Non-Food Relief: Yoga, Massage, Visualization, Abdominal Breathing

 

Protein (35-55 calories):  10-14 servings a day

Starches / Starchy Vegetables (80 calories): 6-8 servings a day

Fat & Oils (45 calories):0-3 servings a day

Fruits (60 calories):3-4 servings a day

Vegetables (10-30 calories): 3+ servings a day

 

(230 – 385) Breakfast: 2-3 Protein, 1-2 Starch, 1 Fruit, 0-1 fat, vegetables as desired

(170 – 190) AM Snack: 1 Protein/Fat, 1 Fruit, vegetables as desired

(265 – 440) Lunch: 3-4 Protein, 2 Starch, 0-1 Fat, vegetables as desired

(170 – 190) PM Snack: 1 Protein/Fat, 1 Starch or Fruit, vegetables as desired

(265 – 440) Dinner: 3-4 Protein, 2 Starch, 0-1 Fat, vegetables as desired

(170 – 190) Evening Snack: 1 Protein/Fat, 1 Starch or Fruit, vegetables as desired

 

I’m guessing I average 150 calories or so a day in vegetables.

Total: 1420 – 1985

 

Proteins

Excellent Choice

Fair Choice (limit)

Not-So-Good (Avoid)

 

Bison/Buffalo

Cottage Cheese

Chicken Breast (whole or ground)

Clams

Crab

Egg Substitute

Egg White

Fish – Fatty (Salmon, Tuna, Swordfish, Arctic Char)

Fish – Lean (halibut, orange roughy, red snapper, tilapia)

Mussels

Ostrich

Protein Powder

Soy Products

  Bean Curd

  Edamame

  Revival Shakes

  Meatless Alternatives (burger, sausage, chicken patties)

   Tempeh

   TSP /TVP

   Soy Beans

   Soy Cheese

   Soy Milk

   Soy Protein Powder

   Tofu

Turkey Breast (whole or ground)

Tuna 

 

Beef (lean cuts – eye of round, sirloin steak, ground sirloin)

Chicken, Dark Meat

Ham (lean)

Jerky

Lobster

Pork (Lean chops or tenderloin)

Oysters

Scallops

Shrimp

Turkey Bacon

Turkey, Dark Meat

 

I have questions about these to ask at next appointment

Foster Farms Turkey Sausage (mild/hot) Italian

Sardines

Turkey Keilbasa

Canadian Bacon

Healthy Choice low fat

Veal

Ricotta

Ff flavored yogurt

 

Anything fried

Anything with Skin

Bacon

Duck

Egg Yolk, more than 1 per meal and 4 per week

Fish, Breaded, Frozen

Fish Sticks

Hot Dog

Keilbasa – full fat

Liver & Organ Meats

Lunch Meat

Marbled/Untrimmed Meat

Ribs

Refried Beans w/ Lard

Sausage

 

Mixed Proteins

Excellent Choice

Fair Choice (limit)

Not-So-Good (Avoid)

 

Beans/Legumes

Buttermilk

Milk, Skim

Yogurt, Plain non/low fat 

 

 

Cheese Sticks, reduced fat

Chocolate Milk, rf or sf

Peanut Butter

Soy Nuts

Wheat Germ

Soy Chips

 

Cheese, full fat

Milk, Whole

Yogurt, full fat

Carbs – Starches

Excellent Choice

Fair Choice (limit)

Not-So-Good (Avoid)


Barley

Beans/Legumes

  Black

  Chickpeas

  Fava

  Kidney Beans

  Lentils (even canned soup)

  Lima

  Navy Beans

  Refried, nonfat

  Soy Beans

  Split Peas

  White Beans

Buckwheat

Bulgur

Bread, Whole Grain

Breadsticks, Whole Grain

Cereal, low sugar, high fiber. whole grain first ingredient

Corn (on the cob)

Dinner Roll, Whole Grain

Grains, whole or sprouted

Green Peas

Millet

Oatmeal, old fashioned

Pasta, Whole Wheat

Pita, whole wheat

Pumpkin

Quinoa

Rice, Brown

Rice, Converted

Rolled Oats

Rolled Rye (Flakes)

Rolled Wheat

Squash

Rye Berries

 

 

Bagel, ww

Beets

Cereal, low sugar, high fiber

Corn Tortilla

Couscous

English muffin, ww

Parsnip

Pasta, White

Popcorn

Potato, New

Potato, Sweet

Potato, Yukon Gold

Rice, White

Rice Noodles

Rutabaga

Tortilla, Fat Free

Tortilla, Whole Wheat

Turnip

Whole Grain Crackers (like triscuit, Ryvita Rye, rice snaps)

Yam

 

 

 

Bagel, white

Biscotti

Biscuit

Bread, white

Breadsticks, White

Buns, white

Cereal, sugary, low fiber

Cereal, puffed

Cream of Wheat/Rice

Flour Tortilla, regular

French Fries

Grits

Hash Browns, instant

Jams & Jellies

Oatmeal, Instant

Pancakes

Potato Chips

Saltine

Scone

Soda / Sugared Drinks

Sweets

Sweet Roll

Carbs – Fruits

Excellent Choice

OK Choice

Not-So-Good (Avoid)

 

Fresh

Frozen w/o Sugar

Canned in water, no sugar

Apples

Applesauce

Apricots

Bananas

Berries (Blueberry, Strawberry,Raspberry, Blackberry, Loganberries, Marionberries)

Cantaloupe

Cranberries

Dried Fruit (apricots, raisins, figs, dates)

Carambola (“star fruit)

Grapefruit 

Honeydew Melon

Kiwi (green or gold)

Peaches

Pears

Pineapple

Pomegranate

Plums

 

Canned, in Juice

Papaya

Cherries

Grapes

Guava

Kumquat

Mango

Mandarin Oranges

Nectarine

Oranges

Passion Fruit

Tangerines

Watermelon

 

Canned, in syrup

Fruit Juice

 

 

Fats

Excellent Choice

Fair Choice (limit)

Not-So-Good (Avoid)

 

Avocado

Canola Oil

Fat in Fish

Flaxseed, ground or oil

Nuts

  Almonds

  Cashews

  Filberts

  Macadamia

  Peanut

  Pecan

  Pistachio

Olives

Olive Oil

Peanut Oil

Peanut Butter

 

Corn Oil
Cream Cheese, lf

Grapeseed Oil

Nuts / Seeds

  Brazil Nut

  Pinenuts
  Sesame Seed

  Sunflower Seeds

  Walnuts

Mayonnaise, lf

Safflower Oil

Salad Dressings, rf

Sour Cream, lf

Soybean Oil

Sunflower Oil 

 

 

Bacon Bits

Butter

Coconut Oil

Dairy Fats

Fat in Meat & Poultry

Hydrogenated Oils

Palm Oil

Shortening

Trans Fats

Vegetables

Excellent Choice

 

Artichoke / Hearts

Arugula

Asparagus

Bean Spouts

Bell Pepper

Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Carrot

Cauliflower

Celery

Chinese Cabbage

Chives

Coleslaw

Collard Greens

Cucumber

 

 

Eggplant

Garlic, raw or roasted

Ginger

Green Beans

Herbs

Jicama

Kale

Leeks

Lettuce, all types

Mushrooms

Okra

Onion

Parsley

 

Pickles

Radish

Rhubarb

Sauerkraut

Sea Vegetables

Scallion

Snow Peas

Spinach

Sprouts

Alfalfa

Summer Squash

Tomato

Vegetable Juice

Water Chestnut

Watercress

Zucchini

Free Foods

 

 

Broth, 1 C.

Club Soda

Coffee

Cool Whip Free

Cream Cheese, ff, 1 T.

Dill Pickle

Dill Pickle Relish

Drink Mix, sf

Extracts

 

Gelatin, sf

Hard Candy, sf

Herbs & Spices

Ketchup, 1 T.

Margarine, ff

Mayonnaise, ff, 1 T.

Mustard

Non-Dairy Creamer, Liquid

Non-Dairy Creamer, Powder

 

Pancake Syrup, Sugar Free

Salsa

Salad Dressing, rf

Sour Cream, rf

Soy Sauce

Taco Sauce

Tea (Black, Green, Herbal)

Chamomile

Vinegar

Worcestershire Sauce

Convenience Foods & Snacks

 

 

– Frozen Ravioli (>3g fat/serving)

– Frozen Tortellini (>3g fat/serving)

– Frozen Fish, unbreaded (>10g fat), Mrs. Pauls Healthy Grilled, Gortons Grilled, Some tuna/salmon burgers

– Frozen Meals, >400 calories, >800mg Sodium

Soydance Pizza

– Tofu Classics, Shells & Curry, Mandarin Chow Mein

 

– Frozen Meal Kits ( >3g sat fat/serving skillet sensations, Create a meal, etc)

– Chili, Chicken

– Ramen Noodles – Westbrae, whole wheat & Baked

– Tumaros Homestyle Kitchen Soy Cheese Burritos

– Soy Boy Ravioli

 

2x / month max

Candy (under 150 calories)

Sorbet

Ice Cream

Frosted Cake

Frosted or stuffed Cookies

Fudgsicles

3x/week max

Frozen Juice Bars

Graham Crackers

Animal Crackers

Whole Wheat Fig Bars

Homemade Banana Bread

Gingersnaps

Pretzels

Baked Chips

Green Foods are ones emphasized by the dietician

Pink foods are additional foods recommended via dr. and research

 

Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. — Thomas Alva Edison

 


Bento-ing can be contrary to my current frugal goal of tightening up my food budget.  It could be very wasteful.  I cut away a lot of bread to fit sandwiches to the box,  Fruit and veggie shapes leave a lot behind, cheese buses and sonics leave tons of scraps, and so on.  What do you do with all the leftovers from decorating bentos? 

1. Unless I know I can dice them and use them in another meal that day, stock-suitable vegetables (carrots, zucchini, celery, etc), go into a gallon bag in the freezer along with other cooking scraps (parts of onions, celery tops, etc) to make stock.  Since I’m planning on roasting a chicken a week for the next month, I’ll have plenty of carcass for making stock.

2. Cheese bits are saved in a baggie.  I sprinkle them on my taco soup lunches or use them to make grilled cheese sandwiches.  They can be tossed into scrambled eggs or omelets.  I also use them in savory meat and cheese corn muffins.

3. Meat bits go in those same corn muffins and egg dishes, or tucked into a sandwich if he has one that day.

4. I’ve been bad about bread, but I’ve started to save the crusts and extra bits.  If I collect bread scraps a few days, then whiz ’em in the food pro, I can use those homemade breadcrumbs for meatballs (one of the few non lunchmeat proteins I can count on the kidlet to eat) or breading cutlets for dinner.

5. Usually the fruit scraps get eaten right away by me or the kidlet.  I suppose you could save them and make a fruit salad, but I’m happy to let the kiddo gobble them up with breakfast for a little more nutrtion.

6. I don’t save nori bits.  I don’t use much of it; he doesn’t actually LIKE it, and peels it off anyway.  Just sometimes you just have to have a little black!  No one here (including me) likes seaweed in any form.  Truthfully, opening the bag I have the nori stored in to pull out a little bit to use makes me want to gag with that sudden fishy sea aroma that assaults my senses.  So, bits left after punching out eyes or whatnot just plain get trashed, with no apology.


I haven’t planned out my meals in a long time, which is why my food spending is about 3 times what I’d like my food budget to be.  I also end up throwing away a lot of food –  sinful amounts of produce, freezer burnt foods, even occasionally meat in the fridge I’ve bought and then don’t end up cooking for too long so it’s trash.  Menu planning also helps me eat much healthier, so it’s back to meal planning for me.  If I get stuck, I’ll take inspiration from one of the many posters over at Organizing Junkie, who hosts Menu Plan Monday.  For the next month it’s my goal to use up as much pantry and freezer items as possible.  We’ve got basically a quarter beef in the deep freeze and some wild salmon fished up by a friend, so I’m not spending as much as it seems 😉

For breakfasts we always have oatmeal, cold cereal, scrambled eggs, toast, freezer muffins, yogurt, cottage cheese and fruits to choose from.  This week we also have a mexican zucchini frittata, and some raisin bread.  Any dinner lefovers become lunch, but I’m trying very hard to NOT overcook and have leftovers unless I have specifically planned leftovers.  I also have a small budget specifically for lunches, taken from what hubby was spending eating out every day, to keep us stocked with lunch meats, cheeses, etc for bentos.  My lunches this week are taco soup (4x), chicken salad on greens (2x), and veggie ramen stir fry (1x).  Even when not specifically listed, I usually have a mixed greens salad and fruit available for dinner.

Monday: Mini Calzones, Green Salad with yellow Grape Tomatoes, Pineapple Oops, I forgot that today is the back to school PTA picnic and meeting.  We’ll be having pizza there

Tuesday: Roast Lemon Chicken and Roasted Root Vegetables (Sweet Potato, Carrot, Onion, Turnip), Cauliflower (planned leftovers for Thursday and Friday meals)

Wednesday: Salmon Cakes and Lemon-Garlic Aoili, Lentils, Asparagus

Thursday: Chicken Curry (I’m using shredded leftover chicken, not cubed breasts), Brown Rice, Zucchini & Summer Squash

Friday: Chicken and Corn Chowder, Whole Wheat Rolls, Tri-Melon Salad

Saturday: Sorta Salisbury Steak (I’m adding mushrooms to the gravy), Mashed Potato, Broccoli & Cauliflower

Sunday: Roasted Salmon with Chili-Lime Sauce, Barley, Green Beans

 

Update: Thursday and I am doing well and on track.  I’m under budget for the week (which is easily the first time in months).  I’ve made some adjustments (like when DH wasn’t going to be home for dinner, which I didn’t know until the day of – I wasn’t going to cook a whole meal for kidlet and myself) but I have adjusted only using things in the house already.  The chicken curry recipe will NOT be in regular rotation.  BLAND and tomato-y.  I picked an easy low ingredient recipe for convenience, and it shows in the flavor.  Ick.