Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February Food Foray: Progress - Days 1-14

Here's a breakdown of how we've done so far in the February Food Foray...

1st:  Kick-off February Food Foray!  We probably had one last eating out hoorah this night...I don't remember.

2nd:  Freezer:  N/A.  Pantry:  1 can of Hormel chili no beans - we ate it on hot dogs.

3rd:  Freezer:  N/A.  Pantry:  1 can of corn, 1 can of refried beans - to eat with chicken fajitas made in my PC deep covered baker!

4th, 5th, 6th:  out of town and ate very badly!

7th:  I know I went to Whole Foods on the way home to get some milk and clementines, but can't remember what I ate for dinner.

8th:  Dave had a happy hour after work so I cheated and had Taco Bell.

Not looking good, right?  Keep reading, it gets better.

9th:  Freezer:  Chicken and vegetable steamer bag.  The first thing we tried on this night was a shrimp fettuccine steamer bag that was just a little expired and it was TERRIBLE!  It was supposed to be 2 servings but it was maybe 1 cup after it was cooked.  BLECH.  Even Dave wouldn't eat it, and he'll try most anything once.  Pantry:  fudge brownies with some leftover chopped walnuts on top. Yum.

10th:  Freezer:  Meatballs, spaghetti sauce, spaghetti noodles, 2 pieces of butter bread (why we left 2 pieces in the package - who knows?), ground beef.  Pantry:  N/A.

11th:  Freezer:  Lasagna, 2 pieces of garlic bread (why we left 2 pieces in the package - who knows?), triple berry smoothie mix - YUM!  Pantry:  N/A.

12th:  Freezer:  I made a Crockpot soup with chicken breasts and frozen vegetables. Pantry:  1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 1 can of cream of chicken soup.

13th:  Girls' day at our house so I bought special food for the occasion.

14th: Happy Valentine's Day - I'm not cooking.

Doesn't look like much progress, but the freezer is only 1-2 levels deep on each shelf instead of 6 or 7!  The bottom drawer is completely empty.

I feel like we've made good progress but still have a way to go :)  Tonight's dinner is bacon-wrapped shrimp, crab legs, corn and wild rice -  all from the freezer and pantry.  That oughta make a dent!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Girls' Day

Yesterday we had a girls' day in at my house!  We just sat around talking, gossiping, laughing - even shared some rodent/insect stories after I told them I am currently at war with a large clan of ants in my kitchen.  I am losing.  Tomorrow at 10am, they will meet their maker - the pest control guy:

I tried it the nice way, leaving open containers of cinnamon and black pepper, which are supposed to be natural ways to keep the ants away, but that didn't work.  Neither did the CVS or Raid brands of "ant control systems."  I think I'll try some of the other natural, long-term ways that site listed to keep the ants out like putting a mint plant on the windowsill above the kitchen sink, but I need them gone now!  It's been about 3 weeks and I'm done spraying Green Works around the entire kitchen whenever I see one ant and trolling to making sure no dishes are left out anywhere near the kitchen.

Crystal's story of a mouse her cat brought in her house, and Melissa's snake story made me a little thankful for my little ant guys, but I still need them gone!  :)

Anyways, back to the girls' day.  We had brunch provided by Ukrop's Martin's - still hurts to say that - chicken salad, mini croissants, Bonnie's version of Watergate salad which she metonymically calls "Green Stuff," and some fruit.  For dessert, I made vanilla cupcakes with orange buttercream frosting, topped with a candied orange slice.  Yum...

...Bonnie and Ashley made Valentine-themed cake pops!

I had some nail polish and spa-ish things like the paraffin wax hand bath, Biore pore strips, and face masks out so everybody could just use what they wanted - we all need to relax a little so days like this are good for reminding ourselves of that :)

We're dumb and didn't take any pictures of us!  Typical...

Friday, February 11, 2011


Way back in January 2010, Bonnie made smoothies using a Yoplait mix that can be blended with milk for a quick, simple treat!  You can even see a comment I made where I said I couldn't wait to try it, even though I'm not normally a smoothie fan.  I think it's the milk.  I can do a slurpee or Italian Ice, but stay away from smooties, which makes it weird that I'm pretty I bought 2 packages of the mix soon after Bonnie's blog.  And they've been sitting in there ever since.

What better time to try them than when we're trying to clean out our freezer?  I was going through the kitchen one tonight, trying to plan meals for the next few days while Dave was making dinner, and came across these mixes.  Dessert solved!

I found both strawberry banana and strawberry mango pineapple, but since I'm not a mango fan, I chose the former for dessert tonight..

All you need is the smoothie mix and 1 cup of milk...well, and a blender.  I believe there was an option for a thicker smoothie by using only a 1/2 cup of milk, so try that if you're a fan of the thick-thick variety.  I like medium-thick.
Fast forward to 1:35 

Throw the contents of the smoothie mix bag in the blender...
...add the cup of milk...
...and blend for a minute and a half!

You're done - now, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Haha, fruit pun.

Very tasty!  And the bag is the perfect portion for 2 modestly-sized smoothies :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February Food Foray: Before

February Food Foray: The Plan

New month, new project.

Can you tell how bored I am; how badly I need to use my brain to develop and carry out a project while school is on pause?  It's really annoying.  I thought I'd be able to just sit around, relax, watch  movies, and put laundry away, but I don't have the attention span for either lately - well, except yesterday, and it was awesome.  My mind is in need of projects for which I can plan, make lists, execute, and see results.

The January Junk Jettison was a success because I could see a quantifiable number of things (496) that were being expelled from the house.  Tangible results - not just 'purging' with no purpose other than to empty up space in a cabinet and not being able to see real results. Also, even though I collected most of the items at the beginning of the month to satisfy my daily number requirement, I'm still getting rid of things - tonight's chore will be going through blankets, sheets, and pillows we don't use.
 This is an exaggeration, but we sure do have a lot of blankets we don't use...

Now it's February and I need a new project.  Preferably one I can turn into an alliteration to maintain consistency among projects - haha.  Everyone who knows us knows we eat out.  A lot.  Too much.  We don't buy too many groceries, but we still end up throwing away expired food once a month or so.  It's really bad.  But not bad enough that we'll stop eating out and actually eat the groceries we buy.  Sad.

I've tried doing the meal planning thing, only buying groceries you need for meals for the week, and writing them down to stick to it.  Sounds like it would work for me, but we'll do it for a week and just never print a new sheet or make a new list and the idea goes out the window.  It definitely works, but for some reason I can't keep it up.  So we're going to try something new for this month.

Bonnie sent me an email the other day containing a link to an article to help with my last few days of the January Junk Jettison: 18 Things You Can Get Rid of Today.  Number 6 has to do with food, and includes getting rid of expired and outdated items and being creative with meals to avoid wasting groceries and money - here's that section:

Cupboards full of food you're not sure you're going to use? Some solutions:
•Check the expiration dates on everything in your pantry, fridge, or freezer. If it's about to expire, put it on the menu for that week, says professional organizer Bohn.
•Motherboard Mom Dawn Schnake gives her sons what they call "muffin pan snacks" to get rid of those almost-empty bags of cereal, crackers, and chips. She fills each of the 12 muffin cups with a different snack and throws in some veggies, cut-up fruit, and cheese cubes. "The boys think they've sat down to a feast," she says—and she gets her pantry cleaned out.
•If you know you're never going to use an item—and it's still good—give it to your local food pantry.
•Have an "Eat Out of the Pantry or Freezer" week, says Marla Cilley, You'll be surprised at how creative you can get with your menu planning when you're only using the ingredients on hand. She also suggests this as a way to inspire creativity and frugality: "When you throw away food, imagine you're throwing dollar bills in the trash can!"

I've heard of people doing the freezer/pantry clean-out when they're moving to avoid transporting food and worrying about things going bad in the process.  So we're going to try it during the week this month.  We'll still need to stock fresh fruits and veggies, but I'm sure we have enough meat and sides to last us the month.  

Disclaimer:  Weekends are free, so we can still eat out then - it's just not realistic for me to say no eating out for a month because I know we'll fail at that, especially since we're going out of town This weekend and I'll be in Fred with my girls on Sunday for a birthday lunch.  Also, there's no way I'm coming home to eat a sandwich if I'm out running errands, nor will I take one with me to eat in the car.  Snack, yes.  Meal, no.

Wish us luck!  Stay tuned for before pictures of the freezers (kitchen and garage) and pantry for a starting point.