We spent more on groceries last week than I think I have ever spent at once. Our refrigerator is full to bursting and I've no excuses for myself. We weren't even shopping while hungry! On the up side, quite a bit of it was just dry staples that happened to run out at the same time as we had money and good deals, so most of it wasn't perishable. However, it was and is important that we properly store it all so that we CAN use it, DO use it, and DON'T go out shopping for oh, the rest of the month except for milk & coffee cream & maybe some fresh veggies such as they are.
I'm quite proud of us though: We managed to make a menu for this week that doesn't require a single purchase, utilizes some prepped leftovers, gets us out of a rut, brings back some old favorites, tests a new recipe, AND utilizes our new rice cooker to make it more than s ingle-use item. To top it off, as I write this, we've already prepped what we can for the week, and it's a lot of "just toss these together" kind of dinners.
What's on the menu?
Breakfasts: Bagel sandwiches: Eggs & bacon, lox & cream cheese (with tomato & capers of course!); english muffins & peanut butter; polenta cakes & eggs.
Lunches: Roast beef sandwiches/wraps, grilled cheese & tomato soup, quesadillas & black bean soup.
Snacks: cheese & crackers, microwave burritos, chips & salsa.
Monday: Buffalo Chicken Pasta [pasta; chicken; spicy; casserole]
This is a new recipe I've been dying to try. Yay for getting out the rut! (Recipe from here, found on Pinterest)
Tuesday: Chicken Caprese Polenta [chicken; polenta; Italian]
Not one we've necessarily done before, but "stuff on polenta cakes" isn't exactly a new theme. I wish we had fresh basil for it, but not enough to buy any. We make the polenta ahead and refrigerate in a loaf pan so we can just cut off slices of it to fry into polenta cakes. That's is what we get to use our new rice cooker for, and having already done it (spoilers!) it was amazing!
Wednesday: French Dip [leftovers; beef; sandwich; easy]
Using leftover french onion soup; I strain out the onions, fry them up with roast beef, throw that on some hoagies with swiss cheese, and use the broth from the soup for the jus.
Thursday: Tuna Mac [fish; easy; staple]
This is the most processed food item we eat, and it's total poor-food but we freaking love it. The benefit to it is, since we always have peas in the freezer, this is an item that requires no prep, very little time to cook, and if we decide to bump anything for the week it can get dropped from the menu quickly & easily. Mr. Moon is on call this evening, so if he gets to work we stick to the plan; if not, we might decide to be a bit more creative without anything going to waste. Win-Win!
Friday: Split Pea Soup [soup; pork; crockpot]
This is our "use up the dry goods" recipe for the week, but the polenta & pasta qualifies too. Go team. The key to this soup I think is using way more pepper--and hot sauce--than you think it should take. We're used to making it still-fairly-bland for the parental units and then drenching it in sriracha.
Saturday: Soup of Wonton Destruction [soup; fast; easy; East Asian; freezer]
This soup always uses a lot of freezer & leftover items; wonton dumplings we typically have on hand, but the rest is up in the air. I think this time it will be broccoli, green beans, and onions.
Sunday: Pickle Plate [light; vegetarian]
We have football plans for a 5:30 game, and even though we don't typically eat dinner until 11pm or midnight, we expect we'll be looking forward to a lighter dinner than usual. I've got a round of brie that I want to put some chutney on, and some pickles, but we'll see how hungry we are before we add any more cheese, potted meats (which are of course optional, hence the veggie label), or pickled veggie options to the menu. I love this dinner because it's easily expandable to how hungry you are or aren't.
The prep list for this week is pretty light, since a bunch of it is using up leftovers. So the onions, polenta, bacon & cheese all took about 45 minutes, chicken would take about an hour if you had to roast & shred it but since 35-45 of that is roasting time, you can do the rest while it cooks for a total of one hour of prep.
- Chicken: Was already roasted & shredded late last week, so it's just using it up.
- Onions: Dice 2 (polenta, split pea); Julienne 2 (breakfasts over polenta, wonton soup, general use)
- Polenta: brown 1 diced onion; dump in rice cooker with 1c corn meal & 3.5c stock of choice (we used chicken), pepper, and seasonings to taste (we used rosemary & garlic). Turn to white rice setting. Store at 15 minutes, store at 30 minutes, cook longer only if necessary. Spread into greased loaf pan, cool on counter, then cover with plastic wrap pressed onto top to avoid a weird skin & refrigerate overnight. Slice into 1/2-inch thick slices & fry in HOT cast iron any time you need polenta cakes.
- Bacon: Can be cut into bit-size pieces by scissors to order, or chop up enough ahead of time for polenta-skillet breakfasts & split pea soup.
- Cheddar cheese: Grate extra when making some for the casserole so there's enough prepped for lunches, snacks, etc.
What's on your menu this week? Need planning ideas? I'll be linking up at orgjunkie.com, if you need other ideas!