Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Meals for the Week of June 27, 2011

I’m having a rather frugal summer.  It’s still packed with fun activities and a few trips, but it's all about spending less.  Things like Living Social and Groupon have been great for us to stock up on vouchers for movies, activities and dining out. But one of the ways I’m trying to save is in the kitchen.  Now this is a real challenge because I feel like since the kids are home more there’s a need for more food.  At least that’s how I’ve felt these first 3 weeks of vacation.  So I’ve made the decision to curb that need for constant snacking by scheduling more time out of the house, but also I’m going to change the snacking options from various crackers and processed snacks, to more fruits and veggies.  We still like to have cheese and things like tortillas or peanut butter to have with apples or a quick half sandwich.  But I’m going to make these changes this coming month as it’s not only less expensive, it’s healthier.   I’ve also been shopping with coupons a little more.  I wrote about trying to use coupons a few months ago and although I haven’t been “extreme” couponing, I’m making an effort to use them on items I would normally buy or for something I would not normally buy at full price.  But the biggest thing I’ve done so far is get very creative with cooking dinner.  Just before our new baby came in April, my freezer (both garage and the one in the kitchen) were very well stocked with meals I’d made and frozen, various Trader Joe’s frozen entrees, frozen veggies, fruit and meat such as chicken breasts, whole chicken, ground beef, shrimp and several beef roasts.  The pantry was decently stocked with cans of beans, tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes and pasta.  Since the baby came in April, my grocery shopping has been for dairy items, extra fruit or veggies beyond my CSA delivery, a bit of re-stocking the pantry for more pasta plus, crackers, other snacks and to replenish my standard baking ingredients (flour, sugars, chocolate chips).  Over the last 2 months I have basically cooked almost everything I’ve had in my freezer and pantry and this last week was really getting down to bare bones.  But here’s what I’ve managed to make for dinner:  roast beef with roasted potatoes and veggies, then later turned the leftover beef into bbq beef sandwiches, fish and shrimp tacos, macaroni and cheese with ham (not Kraft, from scratch), ground beef and noodle stir fry, roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, split pea and ham soup, a potato, cheese and ham soup.  As you can tell, I had a large left over spiral cut ham from Easter.  The one thing that has been sad for me is that when we moved in December, we didn’t move the barbecue as it was pretty well loved and not worth moving.  I have yet to get a new one and so I’ve so far been without a grill.  I’ve resisted the temptation to just buy any old cheap grill because I would like a really nice one.  But I might have to break down and at least get a decent but inexpensive charcoal grill and save up to get a big fancy gas grill for next summer.
This week I had considered focusing on a 4th of July related post, but decided that by the time I posted it, it would be more helpful for the following week, I just provided a few grilling recipes that you may want to consider for the holiday, but they are good for anytime.  That said, have a wonderful July 4th Holiday!

 Meals for the Week of June 27, 2001

Chopped Greek Salad with Chicken for Two- Another main dish salad to add to your collection, the dressing is great and this meal is a good use of leftover chicken, or plan ahead to poach some chicken so that you just assemble the salad at dinner time.  Perfect for a hot evening when you don’t want to turn on the stove.

Pineapple Chicken Kebabs with Quinoa- This dish has a simple and delicious honey mustard sauce which is great with chicken.  Quinoa is easy to make, it’s sort of like making cous cous, but it’s got great protein but low fat. 

Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomato Orzo- This is a light meal, perfect for summer and the beauty of orzo is how quickly is cooks compared to larger pasta.

Super Easy Crockpot Fajitas- This is one of those dump-in-the-crockpot-and-leave-it recipes.  I don’t use the packet seasoning mixes, any taco seasoning mix or your own seasoning combo will work fine.

Grilled Veggie Tostadas- The recipe provides some specific veggies, but you can really make this however you want. 

Honey Chipotle Glazed Ribs- If you made the fish tacos that called for the chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, then you can use some more of the chilies in this recipe. 

Grilled Lime Shrimp- Shrimp cook quickly and this marinade is bright and zesty.  Another good option to serve for bbq guests.

Grilled Chicken with Balsamic Glaze- I also include a recipe for a vegetable stir fry (or sauté, which might be the more accurate name) and if you have a pan for using on the grill, you could do use that instead of the stove.

Baby Back Ribs Adobo- Love this take on making ribs.  So good!

Pasta Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables and Fresh Mozzarella- This is basically a side dish, but it could be a meatless main dish or eat with the chopped grilled chicken and it’s a one bowl meal.  Great to bring to a potluck or to make ahead and pack in your lunch during the week. 

Short Cut to Grill Corn- I love this method for grilling corn.  Perfect for the upcoming holiday!

Strawberry Cream Pie- This is a great pie for summer.  Bring this to a BBQ and people will love you! 

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