Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's all coming back to me now . . .

As a child, I absolutely LOVED spending time with my grandmother.  She always "spoiled" me and we had so many fun adventures together.  I always felt loved, appreciated and nurtured when I was with her.
As I picked the dandelion greens from my garden today, I had a flash back of weekends at grandma's house.  The yard around her little house was always well kept and weed free.  She had a little garden at the side of the house.  However, most of the borders around the front and back lawn were planted with beautiful flowers.  The lawn was absolutely weed and dandelion free.  If a dandelion did pop up, she got out there with her gloves and her garden tools and made certain to get every last bit of the root out of that lawn.  She warned me not to touch the dandelions with my bare hands because, if I did, I would certainly wet the bed that night.  The memory of Grandma's warning brought a smile to my face and a warm feeling to my heart.
If grandma was watching me today, she certainly would have scolded me.  For not only did I touch the dandelions with my bare hands, but I ate them as well.  I picked a good amount of dandelions to supplement the lettuce I had purchased.

Grandma, if you are listening or reading this, I just want to let you know that dandelions are used not only as a food, but for medicinal qualities as well.  The book, The Complete Woman's Herbal, states that "Dandelion, particularly the leaves, is an effective diuretic, useful in water retention, cellulite, urinary infections and prostate problems. . . . While diuretic drugs leach potassium from the body, dandelion has a high potassium content, replacing that lost through increased urination."  So Grandma, I guess you were partially correct but I am enjoying the dandelions anyway, as well as the fond memories of times shared with you.
For breakfast this morning, I enjoyed two pieces of french toast using one egg and some of the margarine.  I topped the french toast with one sliced banana.
For lunch, I enjoyed my salad of lettuce, dandelion greens, tomatoes, chives and a small amount of ranch dressing.  In addition, I ate 1/5 of the macaroni, tuna casserole I made yesterday.
For dinner this evening, I used two of my potatoes and one egg to make some yummy potato pancakes.
I am getting used to drinking tap water.  However, since the coffee at work is free to me, I am enjoying a couple cups a day.  I am not working on Thursday, so I guess I'll be having some mint tea that day.
Side note:  the Woman's Herbal states that dandelion is also known as "fairy clock."  See, there are still fairies in my garden.

Mini-Challenge Day 2

The only variant from my menu yesterday - I forgot to eat my cream corn at lunch.  I had it at lunch today along with a salad of dandelion greens and wild onions.

Dinner was a huge amount of pasta last night.  I don't feel that I am at all being deprived in calories or nutrition.

I think it is easier to eat with this limited budget than it is in regular life, and improving my diet as well. It forced me to meal plan to consume an equal amount of the foods I could afford.  I am eating a lot more greens than I normally do too.

Monday, April 29, 2013

First Day of the Challenge

The first day of the challenge went pretty well.  I added a baked potato to my original menu for the day.  My tuna macaroni casserole is pictured below (before baking). It was a little dry but tasted okay otherwise.  The ingredients were:  one pound of elbow macaroni, one can of tuna, packed in water, about 10 cherry tomatoes, chives and four slices of cheese.  I divided the casserole into 5 containers.  I'll have this for supper for the rest of the week.

Mini Challenge Food List

Following is a list of the foods I've chosen for the mini challenge and the cost for each:
     $.55 for 1/3 of 18 oz oatmeal (split with Sharon and Mark) total cost $1.64 - 2 for one sale
     $.44 for 1/3 of 18 bananas (split with Sharon and Mark) total cost $1.32 @ $.27 per pound
     $.88 for 1 pound of elbow macaroni
     $.69 for one can tuna packed in water (last minute change - I originally had spaghetti sauce on my list but decided instead to make a tuna and mac dish)
     $.50 for small container cherry tomatoes (good sale)
     $.40 for 1/2 pound margarine (I usually don't eat margarine)
     $.50 for 1/2 container of small Lettuce heads (split with Sharon) total cost $1.00
     $.43 for 1/2 loaf of bread (split with Mark) total cost $.85
     $.85 for 10 eggs (split with Sharon and Mark)
     $.88 for cheese - 14 slices remaining (sold 2 slices to Mark)
     $.83 for 1/3 of 10 pound bag of potatoes- 7 potatoes each (split with Sharon and Mark)
     $.25 for 1/4 of bottle of ranch dressing (shared with Mark)
Total is $7.18
Monday's menu:   Breakfast - Oatmeal and bananas   Lunch - grilled cheese   Supper - 1/6 of casserole made with tuna, macaroni, chives (from my garden), 4 slices of cheese, and sliced cherry tomatoes) along with a salad of lettuce, cherry tomatoes and ranch dressing  Snack - hard boiled egg.
I haven't planned the menus for the rest of the week so I'll be posting as I go.

Mini-Challenge Meal Plan

I decided to write a meal plan to incorporate all the foods gathered for the challenge, to give a diversity of dishes and to make sure I don't have a glut of one ingredient going into the last day.  Here is my plan;

Monday - Breakfast of oats, 1 banana, applesauce.  Oh, I forgot to mention yesterday that Therese gave me applesauce and grape juice from her freezer gathered from the previous season.  Coffee from the hardware store.
Lunch of potato salad, bologna sandwich, and creamed corn.  I opened one of the cans of creamed corn yesterday and its contents are fine.
Dinner of spaghetti and garlic toast.
Snacks should I need them will consist of macaroni salad and applesauce.

Tuesday - Breakfast of 1 egg, hashbrowns, 1 banana, and coffee.
Lunch of a grilled cheese sandwich and macaroni salad
Dinner of fried bologna, creamed corn, and a baked potato.
Snacks should I need them of a hardboiled egg and a banana

Wednesday - Breakfast of 1 egg, oats, banana, applesauce, and coffee.  Seems like I will be hungry Wednesday morning.
Lunch will be a bologna sandwich, potato salad, and creamed corn.
Dinner will be spaghetti and garlic toast.
Snacks if needed are bean salad and a harboiled egg.

Thursday - Breakfast of oats, banana, hashbrowns, and coffee.
Lunch of macaroni salad, bean salad, fried bologna, and creamed corn.
Dinner of a chef's salad and grilled cheese
Snacks if needed will be macaroni salad and applesauce

Friday - Breakfast of 1 egg, oats, hashbrowns, and banana
Lunch of a bologna sandwich, bean salad, and baked french fries
Dinner of fried bologna, baked potato, and creamed corn.
Snacks will include whatever is left.

I did a few hours of prep work last night; I soaked the navy beans, parboiled the hashbrowns and fries, made the potato salad and macaroni salad (though I will probably need to make more macaroni salad,) hardboiled the eggs, and made garlic spread.

As I was typing this post I enjoyed this morning's breakfast.  If this challenge was longer I would either have found a coffee-drinking partner or just quit the stuff (like I did last challenge) but it takes about 4 days for the headaches to stop so I'll find complimentary sources of coffee when my supplies run out.

I had to go to the hardware store this morning so I drank a cup while walking the aisles and then filled another cup on the way out the door.  I don't have any sugar, Sharon had the good idea to take the hardware store's packets if they had them.  Alas they did not, only a large can of sugar.  We don't have milk either so I just put margarine on my oats.  They were fine.

I will post daily (not by meal) during this mini challenge to give my general opinions and note any changes to the meal plan listed.

Mini Challenge Meals

This is 1/5 of what I will be eating for the next 5 days.  Starting at the bottom left and moving clockwise we have breakfast (banana and porridge), lunch (quiche and salad), snack (10 celery sticks), and dinner (baked potato and white bean chili).  Not bad for $1.50!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mini-Challenge is Here!

As Mark stated, we got together and swapped/shared items for the mini-challenge that starts tomorrow.  I've been busy this afternoon preparing my meals for the week (I will be eating the same dishes every day).  Here is the list of ingredients I had to work with which totals $7.50:
24 oz tomato sauce $0.77, 1 lb bag of barley $0.83, 10 eggs $0.85, 2 small heads leaf lettuce $0.50, 6 oz oatmeal $0.55, 6 bananas $0.44, 1/2 lb navy beans $0.50, 3 1/3 lbs potatoes (8) $0.83, celery $1.00, small sweet pepper $0.30, 1 cucumber $0.50, .30 lbs sea salt $0.21, 2 tsp chili powder ~$0.08, 2 tsp cinnamon ~$0.14. I'm also using free wild onions & chives and 3 packets of sugar.

And here are the meals that I will be eating for the next 5 days:
Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal/barley mixed with cinnamon and sugar, sliced banana
Lunch: 3 small triangles baked potato & egg quiche (3 baked potatoes smashed on the bottom of a baking dish covered with parchment paper, topped with 10 beaten eggs chopped chives, wild onions, celery, sweet pepper & salt ) and tossed salad (leaf lettuce, cucumber and chives/wild onions)
Snack: Celery sticks
Dinner: Baked potato topped with chili (tomato sauce, chili powder, chives/wild onions, celery, sweet pepper, navy beans, barley)
Left over ingredients: barley and salt

Mini-Challenge Day 0

Today we got together and exchanged goods for the mini-challenge.  We are mirroring the Live Below The Line challenge.  Participants will be Sharon, Therese, and Myself (Mark.) We worked in concert with one another, splitting contents of purchases so that we all came close to the $7.50 allocation for the project.
Here follows a picture and inventory of my challenge goods, along with cost;
3-1/3lbs potatoes 83¢
10 medium eggs 85¢
16oz elbow macaroni 88¢
24oz spaghetti sauce 77¢
1/2lb dry navy beans 49.5¢
1/2lb margarine 39.5¢
6 bananas 43.3¢
6oz quick oats 54.6¢
1/2 loaf bread 42.5¢
1lb bologna 99¢
9fl oz ranch dressing 74.3¢
2 slices cheese 11¢
Total $7.47

There are several items with no cost that I will also be enjoying during this challenge;
Wild onions - there is a mound of rocky earth behind our building that is covered in wild onions.
Basswood greens - in front of our house there are 2 basswood trees, the young leaves are good edible greens.
Coffee & Chicory - a few weeks ago I came home to discover a small box delivered to our doorstep.  It was a Keurig coffee maker sampler pack from Maxwell House.  I don't have one of those coffee makers but I sure do love coffee!  I will add a little chicory root saved from last year to extend the coffee there.
Garlic - Though I didn't forage for fresh garlic this spring, I know a spot.  Not a great place to go if you're allergic to poison ivy though!  There is still garlic left over from last year in the freezer, I plan to use some for this challenge.
Creamed Corn - Behind our building last year was a campsite where homeless people lived, I was poking around back there and came across 2 sealed cans of creamed corn.  I don't know how good they are, as they sat through a winter's freeze, but the price was right!
Salt - Same story as above, I found a container of salt there too.
Pepper, Catsup, Mustard, Hot Peppers - From various free sources I have food service packets of these items.

In a follow up to the 'cream corn' note; Of the 3 people that camped out there last summer, one is now on social security and living in one of the nearby apartment complexes, one is moving to Texas where he plans to get a job on an oil rig, and the 3rd has a trailer nearby where he stays in exchange for night security duties.

I am meal planning for the week instead of eating whatever comes to mind.  I will post the meal plan later tonight or tomorrow.  I am also going to do a lot of prep cooking tonight.  I will prepare potato salad, macaroni salad, hash browns, and whatever else I can think of ahead of time.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Turtle is at the Starting Line

The turtle is ready to go . . .
Last year, I saved many seeds from my garden including tomato, peppers, several different types of squash, coriander, dill, kale, radish, beans, sunflower, basil, dill and I'm certain there are more I am forgetting.
 Before I went on vacation, I planted several flats of the saved seeds.  I put a baker's rack on the counter in the kitchen in front of a southern exposure window.  Things are comin' up.
 Last weekend's weather was stellar.  I transplanted chives, parsley, garlic and a small peach tree.  I also started two 12 foot rows of peas and a 12 foot row of broccoli.  I also planted lettuce and spinach.
 This year, I plan on expanding the garden.  This should help with garden production and cut down on the time it takes to mow the lawn.
LOOKOUT fellow challenge teams, the turtle's team is ready to WIN!!!!!!!!
I also plan on participating (solo) in the mini challenge at the end of April.