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Category: From My Kitchen

Menu Plan Monday: This week’s $10 menu

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As I mentioned on Saturday, we skipped shopping this week aside from a quick run to the store my husband made for milk, butter, and ice cream. I was planning to stop by and pick up some fresh produce, but after thinking it through, I decided to challenge myself and see if I could plan a fairly healthful menu based upon what we already have on hand.

Here's what I came up with using what we already have on hand from previous shopping trips and the $10 shopping trip my husband made:

Breakfasts:
Banana muffins, fresh juice, milk
Strawberry smoothies, whole wheat toast
Oatmeal, apple juice
Pancakes (from the freezer), oranges
Scrambled eggs, fresh juice, banana muffins
Strawberry smoothies, pancakes (from the freezer)
French toast, oranges

Lunches:
Egg salad sandwiches, applesauce
Roast beef sandwiches, oranges
Grilled cheese sandwiches, broccoli
PB&J, applesauce
Rice and beans with cheese, veggies

Leftovers

Dinners:
Roast in the crock pot with gravy over noodles, homemade bread, green beans, grapefruit
Chicken broccoli rice casserole, steamed veggies, homemade bread
Steak, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Beef Stroganoff, steamed veggies, homemade bread
Beef hot dogs, broccoli with cheese
Meat balls, brown rice, steamed veggies
Dinner out

Snacks:
Granola bars
Homemade hot cocoa (organic cocoa, milk, and a little sugar–yum!)
Bran muffins (from the freezer)
Banana muffins (from the freezer)
Breyer's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream (my current pregnancy obsession!)
Strawberry smoothies

And that's that! I was pretty excited to see how the stockpiling I've been doing over the last month or two to replenish our supply after our move and prepare for the baby is starting to pay off in allowing me to have more ingredients to work with!

For more menus this week, check out .

This week’s ~$60 menu

Here's the planned menu for this week using these groceries and what we already have on hand in the freezer and in our cupboards:

Breakfasts:
Cream of wheat, fresh juice
Whole-wheat waffles (from the freezer), strawberries, yogurt
Granola over yogurt with fruit
Banana muffins, scrambled eggs
Pancakes (from the freezer), strawberry smoothies
Whole-wheat waffles, hard-boiled eggs, fresh juice
Oatmeal, juice

Lunches:
Annie's Mac and Cheese, oranges
Shrimp, steamed veggies, toast
Egg salad sandwiches, apples
PB&J, veggies
Spinach rice and cheese casserole, strawberries
Leftovers x 2

Dinners:
Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans
Roast over noodles with gravy, steamed veggies, grapefruit
Meatballs, mashed potatoes with cheese, steamed veggies, muffins
Chicken broccoli rice casserole, grapefruit, scones, green beans
Beef hot dogs, steamed veggies, homemade bread
Chicken burgers with cheese, broccoli, fruit salad, homemade bread
Dinner out

Snacks:
Waffles
Banana muffins
Granola bars
Strawberries
Apples
Cheese

Baking Day – Part 5

As promised, here's the final installment of this week's Baking Day posts. Only, unlike yesterday when I was baking up a storm, I didn't bake or cook anything today.

Instead, my sister came over to help me today and she made all of this for me–, she took the pictures! Yes, I'm very spoiled to live close to family again.

Here's what she stocked our freezer with:

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Whole-Wheat Banana Crumb Muffins–These are delicious! The recipe is and was passed onto me by . She used some applesauce in place of the butter/oil and I don't think you can tell at all.

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–I love this stuff! I'd recommend putting in a little less spinach (unless you really like the taste of cooked spinach, more cheese, and maybe some extra seasonings in place of the Worchestershire sauce). It makes such a nutritious and delicious lunch; I always crave it when I'm pregnant, too!

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Cranberry Orange Bread–Another great recipe! My friend found cranberries marked down to $0.50/bag at our nearby Dillons store and she tipped me off to the deal. Plus, she gave me this great recipe!

Cranberry Orange Bread
2 cups flour
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar                           
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder               
1/2 teaspoon baking soda                               
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
3/4 cup orange juice
1 egg                             
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Cut in shortening (like for a pie crust). Beat the egg. Stir in orange peel and orange juice. Add these to the
dry ingredients and mix. Then fold in cranberries and nuts. Bake in a
greased large loaf pan at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

And, not only did she make all of that, but my sister also made a double batch of pancakes, too. Whew! See why I'm so blessed to have family nearby?

Baking Day – Part 4

Well, I ran out of energy today before I ran out of items on my to-do list (that seems to be a fairly regular occurrence these days!) but I did get a big batch of meatballs made and a double batch of granola bars made before dinner time.

I have this big goal of having our second refrigerator/freezer stocked to gills with dinners, healthy snacks, and so forth by the time the baby is born. I've always made some extra food, but have never had the luxury of having an extra refrigerator, so I wanted to take advantage of that.

I'm also thinking that this being our third baby in four years and all, it's probably a wise idea to be as well-prepared as possible. I'm just guessing that cooking and baking in that first month or two after Baby arrives is not going to be the top priority.

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Seeing as I'm 11 weeks out from being full-term, I figured I can go ahead and get started with filling the freezer. So I made this batch of meatballs with that in mind. There's enough here to last us for five dinners so I'm going to freeze two dinner's worth to use before the baby is born and three meal's worth to use after the baby is born. I'm freezing these on baking sheets and then will divvy up into freezer bags once they are fully frozen.

(By the way, for those who may be interested in reading more about how we're preparing for Baby #3, check out my other blog, . I post updates on my pregnancy over there and will be sharing a lot in the coming weeks on details of how we're gearing up for this big event and trying to be as organized and ready as possible!)

After the meatballs were finished and in the freezer, I tried out. I've never made granola bars before, but these looked so good and so good-for-you that I couldn't resist. They were pretty easy to make, though I feel like I need to make them a few more times to really perfect the recipe.

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As always, I did some tweaking to it. I used some slivered almonds and flax seeds instead of some of the peanuts and sunflower seeds and added in extra oats to make up for the rest. Since I made a double batch, I added dark chocolate pieces to one of them as well. My hubby is quite fond of chocolate chip granola bars, so I figured he'd enjoy these better with some chocolate in them.

I wished I wouldn't have let the liquid mixture simmer for as long as I did; the bars turned out a bit crunchier than I was hoping as a result. But I'll know better next time! I also think that it was a little more complicated to make a double batch since you need to get them in the pan and shaped into bars quickly and doubling the recipe added extra time to it.

All in all, though, I was very happy with the recipe and will definitely be making it again.

That's all the cooking/baking that's happening for today. I still am planning to make pancakes, bread, muffins, and the spinach casserole that everyone's been asking for the recipe for. But that will have to wait until tomorrow afternoon. I promise that I'll do my best to share a post on that since so many of you have requested the casserole recipe.

And now, I'd love to see any baking you've been doing at your house today! If you've blogged about it, post your link or links below so we can all be inspired and motivated (and probably pick up some new ideas and recipes, too!). Thanks for joining in today and sharing another Baking Day with me. It's always so much more fun to have you all following along!

Baking Day – Part 3

Kaitlynn is napping and Kathrynne is quietly reading books. The house is so quiet it almost feels as if I have no children here at all… which is very, very rare!

I'm trying to take advantage of the quietness by getting a lot crossed off my list. I just finished up mixing up a quadruple batch of whole-wheat waffles and making a double batch of sweet potatoes.

Waffles are such a great thing to make when you're going to be spending a few hours in the kitchen since you can just easily stop every few minutes to take another waffle off the waffle iron and pour some more batter on.

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Waffles are a great way to use up reduced milk, too. I often find milk reduced at great prices at Dillons so I snatch it up and then store it in the freezer to use for making waffles and pancakes on Baking Days. I try to set it out to thaw the night before and then in the morning, it's ready to go!

Here's our favorite whole-wheat waffle recipe, adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook–a cookbook I think every woman should own!

Our Favorite Whole-Wheat Waffles
(Makes approximately 6-8 waffles. I usually triple or quadruple this recipe for Baking Days and it will make enough to last for at least 4-6 breakfasts for us.)

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup milk (I usually use half milk, half water–unless I have a lot of excess milk to use up!)
1/2 cup oil or melted butter (I usually use half oil, half applesauce. You can use all applesauce, but we don't think they turn out quite as well that way. I've also substituted other pureed fruits and veggies and those work as well. So long as you do half oil/half puree, it doesn't make much difference.)
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

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Mix together dry ingredients in one bowl. Lightly beat together wet ingredients in another. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Pour batter onto lightly-oiled waffle iron and bake until done.

To freeze, I normally just let them cool and then stick 5-6 in each freezer bag. To thaw, just pull them straight out of the freezer and heat in the microwave, in a toaster oven, or in the oven.

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After whipping up the waffles, I peeled and cut up the sweet potatoes and stuck them in a pan with water on the stove to boil.

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Once they are cooked through, I mashed them, divided them into two
glass baking dishes, dotted them with butter and sprinkled them with a
little brown sugar. I just heat them through for around 20 minutes at 350 degrees before serving. We'll have one pan tonight for dinner and one
pan tomorrow night.

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Our whole family enjoys sweet potatoes made this way. And it's so easy to do and quite healthful, too. I stocked up on sweet potatoes when Aldi had them for $0.99/bag and have been slowly cooking them up like this.

I just cleaned up the kitchen and did the dishes for the third time today (trying not to leave myself a disaster to deal with at the end of this baking/cooking marathon!) and now I'm off to make BBQ meatballs and granola bars…