Welcome to a new year here at Frugal Upstate! I’m slowly getting back in the saddle on a lot of things, including writing up my meal plans for all of you. Having a meal plan is really very important to me. It allows me to be more frugal by using up ingredients I have in the fridge and in storage before they go bad. It helps me avoid running out for “quick and easy” food or just taking the family out for dinner because I don’t know what to make and it’s time to eat NOW. It also helps me to meet my goals of using the bulk meat we’ve purchased and the various vegetables I’ve canned and frozen effectively throughout the year.
1. I know that there are two days were I will be down in town for appointments, errands and to visit the elderly in our family. One of those nights I am meeting Yankee Bill for supper. So I have two things–one night I need something for just the kiddos to eat, and another when I have to have a plan for something that will either be made in the slow cooker so it’s all ready when I get home or else something that is super quick to throw together.
2. The kids still have a variety of after school activities. Play rehearsals. Odyssey of the Mind practices, Scouts. . . I will try to have supper ready on those nights at a time when the most folks in the family will be home to eat, but I don’t worry about it too much now. That’s one of the benefits of teenagers-if they are hungry before an activity and supper isn’t ready they can toss together a sandwich or something.
3. I have a bunch of this and that to use up in the fridge. Leftover salad, 1/2 Quart of home canned red beans, some diced black olives, Ricotta cheese, a single baked potato, pie crust, an open jar of “Victoria Sauce”, a few green tomato pickles left in a jar I want to get out of there, one remaining jar of pickled hot dogs I made for deer camp that didn’t get eaten, and milk that probably should get used up soon. On the counter in the fruit bowl I’ve got some blackening bananas and apples that are starting to be just a bit soft.
4. In the freezer I still have quite a bit of pork left from our bulk purchase. We also got a 1/4 steer this fall. Yankee Bill got a couple of deer, so there is Venison, and I’ve also added a bit of chicken purchased on sale (along with vegetables, cheese, butter etc that I try to keep on hand in the freezer). Oh, and I have half of a cabbage roll casserole I stuck in a bag in the freezer that probably should be eaten.
5. I my canning shelves are still pretty full. Plenty of jams & jellies, pickles, vegetables and fruit to utilize.
Taking all that into account here is my game plan:
Monday: This and That Curry over Rice
This is my go to “use up all sorts of odds and ends from the fridge” recipe. I buy S&B Mild Golden Curry at my local Asian food store. I start a pot of rice (from my bucket of rice–I buy it 25lbs at a time from the Asian food store), then I take everything I want to use up out of the fridge. In this case it was the 1/2 can of kidney beans, green salad, a tomato that was all white on the inside, and the pickled green tomatoes. I dug through the freezer and found an opened bag of broccoli that only had about a 1/2 cup left in it, some home frozen pea pods that were two years old (vacuum sealed) and some frozen rat tail radish pods from the same timeframe. I diced and sauted up an onion, tossed in the frozen stuff and about 3 cups of water, added all the other leftovers (diced the green tomatoes and tomatoes, just tossed in the salad and beans). Cooked it all together till the greens were wilted and then added half the package of S&B Curry. Cooked that till dissolved and thick–viola! Curry. Served over rice it was delicious.
This was my meatless meal and my bean meal for the week.
Tuesday: Ravioli Bake
I didn’t mention it above, but I’m trying to rotate through some of my older commercially canned food storage. One of the things that I keep on hand for emergencies is canned ravioli. Hey, if there is a blizzard and everyone has been shoveling or the power is out and I don’t want to cook something from scratch, some canned ravioli would be quick, easy and edible. Maybe not super tasty, but edible (yes-I’ve gotten to be a bit of a snob). Anyway–it’s time to use some up and so I decided I could doctor it up into a far more palatable casserole with some better quality spaghetti sauce, mozzarella & Parmesan cheeses, ricotta and black olives. I’ll layer it all in a casserole dish and bake it at 350 for half an hour to 45 minutes.
I’ll pair it with some frozen squash and onions I’ve got.
Wednesday: Cabbage Roll Casserole
This is thawing in the fridge, by Wednesday the kiddos will just have to microwave it for supper.
This is my beef meal for the week (the casserole was made with beef from the freezer initially)
Thursday: Cheater’s Venison Stroganoff with Linguini and Green Beans
I’m defrosting a venison neck roast in the fridge. It’s not the most tender piece of meat–the neck muscles get used a lot–so low and slow is the way to go. I’ll toss it in the slow cooker in the morning to make my Cheater’s Venison Stroganoff recipe. Then all I’ve got to do is boil up the linguine (I really felt like I should have wide egg noodles, but I don’t have any of those already on hand, so I’ll just go with the linguine. Who will really care?) and heat up some home canned green beans.
This is my venison meal for the week.
Friday: Shrimp Bisque, Salad and Biscuits
Digging through the freezer I found a small bag of semi freezer burned shrimp. I will cut off any icky parts and then dice them up for soup. I have a packet of “Lobster Bisque Dip or Soup” mix I got somewhere–I have no idea where–so I’ll put those two together for soup (instead of cream I’ll utilize the milk that needs to be used up). Salad and Biscuits will be made from items I have on hand.
This is my fish meal and my soup meal for the week.
Saturday: Skillet Hotdogs, Sauerkraut & Apples with Mashed Potatoes
I’ll saute together some onions, the pickled hot dogs sliced into “pennies”, my homemade sauerkraut and the apples that are just starting to go soft. Last time I think I added some dill. . .Anyway it should be good. I’ll make mashed potatoes from the 50 lbs I bought at the vegetable stand before they closed for the winter.
Sunday: Baked BBQ Chicken, Marinated Cucumber Salad and Corn Pudding
I made “Victoria Sauce” last year–it’s a home canned product made with rhubarb. It’s chunky and sort of a sweet sour thing. I honestly don’t have any idea what to use it for–I just wanted to make some to see what it tasted like. So far we used up about 1/3 of the jar with ham, but I thought if I pureed it up and then brushed it over some chicken leg quarters from the freezer it would make a nice BBQ sauce. So that’s what I’ll do.
I also have in the freezer an experiment–frozen cucumber salad. It was from one of my cookbooks–it’s cucumbers frozen in an oil and vinegar dressing. The book SWORE that they would still be crunch when defrosted. I made about 4 Quart baggies of the recipe, this is the first one I’d be opening. So we shall see.
The corn pudding is sort of like a corn spoon bread–another new recipe for me.
Hmmm, the only one I missed this week was a pork recipe. That’s pretty good!
Are you interested in learning more about menu planning? Check out my post “Why Plan a Weekly Menu” .