Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Because I have nothing else to do, why not challenge myself?

The other day I was blog-stalking and blog-hopping, and I stumbled across one that caught my eye, and got my gears a-turnin'.  She was talking about being on day number four of her three month "no shopping" challenge.  In case you didn't catch that, THREE MONTHS...NO....SHOPPING!!  Just staying home, enjoying being at home. (If you don't believe me, you can go here to read about it) 

Like I said, it made me question myself - am I stupid enough willing to challenge myself to the same thing, on a smaller scale?  Could I do, say, one month?  Last year I did an Eat From The Pantry Challenge.  This would kinda be like that, right?  Sorta, I suppose, just a larger scale.  Most importantly, am I (or maybe better worded "could I be") disciplined enough to stick with it?

In her blog, she mentions it taking her two months to plan and prepare for it.  I'm giving myself two weeks, and here is how I figure I could do it in such a short amount of time. 
1. I'm out of my mind. 
1. David is away at school, so meals around here are about as basic as they can get...oatmeal, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, tomato soup, etc, all based on what we have here at the house and not a lot of ingredients being used. 
2. Pay day was last week, and I haven't gone grocery shopping yet.  Translation: I still have all my grocery money for the rest of the month. 
3. I have a relatively stocked freezer.  I have 3 hams, 4 turkeys, 2 whole chickens, a bunch of ground beef and sausage to name some of the meat.  There are also frozen veggies in there.
4. The pantry is fairly well stocked too.  I'll need some stuff, but not a lot when you look at the big picture.
5. I bake my own breads, as well as making snacks like granola bars.
6. We are well stocked in the "health and hygiene" department - everyone has shower soap, shampoo, deodorant, plenty of Q-Tips, etc.
7. The dog has food.

There are more reasons than that, but it gives you an idea why I think I can throw this together in two weeks.  I have decided that I will shop for milk, eggs, bananas and apples here at our wonderfully convenient, extremely overly priced local grocery store.  It will keep me from going off the hill.  And maybe David can swing by Winco and grab those things if he isn't on the bike.  Who knows, we'll play that part by ear.

I already have the menu planned out for the month, based on what I have on hand.  If I don't already have everything on hand, then I'm only missing one, maybe two things.  I'm also close to hammering out the grocery list.  It still needs some tweaking, but it's close.  I plan to actually do the shopping  at the very end of the month.  That way, any dairy or fresh produce needed will be fresh, and those meals will be at the beginning of the month. 

My girlfriend asked me if this would actually be saving me money, meaning wouldn't I have to spend more now to get ready to not spend at all.  My answer to her was this, "I have the grocery money for the rest of this month.  I'll have to stay under that amount to get ready for next month.  Therefore, I'm not spending any more than what I have."  Simple, right?  And what do I hope to accomplish from this?  Save money on gas... No splurge purchases... Just enjoy what I have... Enjoy my family...

I'll let you know how this goes - keep your fingers crossed for me!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pancake Mix

(photo courtesy of photobucket)

I love that this makes a large amount of the dry mix so that making homemade pancakes is just as simple and quick as using Bisquick, but I know what all the ingredients are in the mix.

To make the mix:
10 cups flour
2½ cups instant dry milk
½ cup sugar
¼ cup baking powder
2 T salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir together to blend well.  Store in airtight container.  Use within 6-8 months.  Makes about 13 cups of pancake mix.  (I store it in two half gallon Mason jars)

Perfect Pancakes
1½ cups pancake mix
1 egg lightly beaten
1 cup water
3 T oil

Put mix in a medium bowl.  Combine egg, water and oil in a small bowl.  Add egg mix to dry mix.  (Add more water for thinner pancakes - I do NOT do this!).  Blend until just moistened (there will still be lumps and that's okay - they cook out somehow -- AND, you don't want to beat it smooth or else they won't fluff up properly).  Let stand 5 minutes, then cook.  Makes 10-12 pancakes about 4" in size.  *Use ¼ cup measuring cup*

I have no idea how this works out, but if I make pancakes for the boys' breakfast on school mornings, I make a single batch and always get 11 pancakes.  If I'm making them for the family for a Saturday morning breakfast or for a dinner, I double the recipe and always get 24 pancakes....weird, huh?! 

And, if there are leftovers, the boys, hubs included, enjoy PB&J sandwiches on the pancakes.  I've even sent them in the boys' lunches.  They think they are getting a treat when I do that....Shhhh, I'm being resourceful when I have no bread!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Basil Tomato Soup

Ever find one of those recipes that you can't wait to share with everybody?  One that is just so screamin' yummy that you feel like you could make it every night for a week, and you'd still be excited to eat it on day seven?  Yes ma'am!  That's what this recipe is for me.  It has the flavor, the texture, the flavor (yes, I'm aware I mentioned "flavor"'s that good people!)  And it has the diversity to easily play with it and make it many different soups - add rice, maybe some bell pepper, chicken, etc.  I love recipes like that.  And the best part, it's a comfort food.  I'm totally contemplating scrapping my dinner plans tonight to make this again!!  Enjoy =)
(photo courtesy of TOH)
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
  • 18 to 20 fresh basil leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup butter
In a large saucepan, bring the tomatoes and broth to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add basil and sugar. Reduce heat to low; stir in cream and butter. Cook until butter is melted. Yield: 9 servings.