Thursday, January 23, 2020

Thrifty Thursday-Little Fiscal Victories

     When I'm trying to just not spend, there's isn't a lot of ways to save extra money. Saving time and resources is just as important and I've lots to learn and practice in all three areas. Here's a few for the week.
  • I used the four hours I had while pup was at the vet/groomer to get several home admin things done, and do some leg work on a few blog posts. I didn't waste time driving back home but found a McDonald's that was not busy, I would not have taken up hours in a crowded place.
  • With the weather dicey on Friday into Saturday, I pretty much just stayed put. I was a bit under the weather so let myself just rest. We had a nice quiet movie night with homemade Chicken noodle soup and tuna sandwiches.

  • I used up two stalks of wilting celery in my vegan chili. I had bought fresh, but these were salvageable so why waste since they would be cooked down. I added the last of a last leg pepper as well.
  • I salvaged the cinnamon roll dough when bread maker stopped. I was worried it would not rise, but while more dense, we had fresh bakery over the weekend. I admit, I did throw a few out as I ended up not getting part of the dough froze as I was planning to do.
  • We'll see how this goes. I attended a lunch seminar on organic recycling. We are going to have a division discussion about whether we start or not. It would take a few of us willing to bring the organize home each night. This is on my list to do, but was going to wait for spring. Minimally, I could start a holding place and bring to the drop off site. Stay tuned. I know this still will not work for pups poo bags-that is just going to remain landfill even in the biodegradable bags.

  • My stop at McDonald's was much less than my original impulse to go to Panera. I had already had coffee so a $10 Diet Coke and $10 breakfast sandwich was cheap rent for the table.
  • With pup getting his fur cut very short, I looked at pet sweaters and jackets. All they had were pull over-a deal breaker for him, plus were very expensive I skipped it, but later when taking him out, I made a sort of cape with an old sweater of DD2's that I just had to button. He wasn't happy about it either, but since it was so cold and snowy, I wanted something while he still was not feeling he best.
  • Both DD2 and I had off Monday. We planned lunch together, but rather than going out, I made the vegan chili. I sent a bowl home with her so she would have something in her freezer next month when she gets home as she works the next day. DH got supper out of it, and I've two more lunches. I took the chance on old chili powder as I had run out and it seemed just fine, but need to add to my shopping list now.
  • This needs to be the norm but again I packed all lunches, snacks, and coffee at home or in a travel mug for work.
  • We had our low cost dinner theater outing. We shared an appetizer, I had a beer, and my mother-in-law had a grasshopper for intermission, her treat she likes to have there. While we tip on the dinner and additional items, dinner theater, complete with a very enjoyable professional quality production was only $35 for the three of us. Thank you again Chanhassen Dinner Theater for hosting the MN Blogger Bash back in October!

     Pups vet and grooming bill was eye watering, but necessary. I bought a couple new grooming tools to help us sensitize him to grooming so we hopefully can do more traditional grooms again in the future. We'll keep him brushed and furinated and the fur/hair out of his eyes ourselves, and if DH can manage, perhaps the clippers, if we do before it gets too long again. e is better with us, though it is still a battle. That's my recap for the week. How was your week in thrift?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Quick Lazy Minnesota Hotdish Recipes

I've found that the Aldi Fit and active cream of soups are 1/2 the sodium of regular cream of soups and at $ .49, budget friendly. Using with unsalted pasta and reduced to no sodium proteins, and bulking up the meal with vegetables, I can help keep the overall meal to around 30% of the RDA for sodium for DH, and literally pull dinner together in 15 minutes, less if I already have cooked and leftover noodles or rice get things done while it bakes, and still be eating by 7:00. If he watches his other meals, he is following his docs orders pretty well, and I don't have to drastically change our menu. It's cold. It's Minnesota, and I like hotdishes-so does DH. They warm up well for leftovers with a splash of milk or even a couple teaspoons of water. This might be repeats of other recipes, but here are a couple go to's my family likes. These all make four good size portions.

Tuna Hotdish

8 ounces of  pasta of choice (we like rotini or elbow)
1 can tuna
2-4 ounces shredded cheddar (1/2 to a cup)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 can reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup
2/3 rds of the can milk
Vegetables-or make separately, your preferences (peas or carrots work well within the dish)
Bread crumbs (for topping)

Literally just mix all ingredients together, then combine with the pasta, it should be sloppy. Top with a light dusting of bread crumbs and bake for 45 minutes at 350.

Chicken or  Turkey Tetrazini

6-8 ounces of cooked spaghetti noodles
1-2 cups diced or shredded chicken or turkey
1 Can reduced sodium cream of chicken
2 tsp garlic powder or garlic clove
2 tsps Italian seasoning
2 tsp ground pepper
2 tsps. dried onions
1 can of milk
sauteed or a small can of mushrooms
1 cup shredded mozzarella

I mix the spices and herbs in with the soup and milk, then mix with the meat and noodles and 1/2 the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes at 350, then top with the remaining cheese, and bake another 15 minutes. I would like to use more cheese in both the above recipes, but as it is filled with salt, I use enough for flavor rather than as a main ingredient. 

Stroganoff Hotdish

6-8 ounces cooked egg noodles
1/2 Pound of hamburger
1 can reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup
2/3 can milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsps. garlic powder
2 tsps. pepper
sautéed fresh or small can mushrooms
Mix wet ingredients with spices and mushrooms, mix all with hamburger and noodles, bake covered 45 minutes at 350

Broccoli-Rice (and a meat) Hotdish

2 Cups cooked rice
1-1 1/2 cups of meat of choice, though if you add more cheese can skip meat entirely)
1 can reduced sodium cream of  chicken soup
1 can milk
2 tsps. garlic powder
2 tsps. dried onion
2 tsps. pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar (add another 1/2 cup if skipping meat)
8 ounces of chopped or small florets broccoli

Mix, soup, milk, spices then combine with rice, protein, and 1/2 cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, top with remaining cheese and bake another 15 minutes. This is one of my favorite!

Basically, I'm mixing a starch, a protein, and other items for variety, and baking. The possibilities are endless, but I wanted to share some of our regulars. If you make a hotdish, or dare I say it, casserole, what are your favorite combinations? Do you use your own white sauce as a binder, or like me, use the cream soups on the grocery shelves?

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Positively Tuesday-Travel Bug

     Good morning readers. It is Tuesday, January 21st, even though in my head I keep thinking it is the 22nd. The four day weekend kept me more off kilter time and calendar wise than rested. I think due to both a persistent headache, not debilitating but there none the less, sniffles, and a bit of an irritable digestive track, I've not fully been myself. I'm hoping a good cup of coffee and apiece of toast will set me up better for the day. I'm bringing chicken noodle soup for my munch-a little comfort form home.

     I'm dropping DD1 off at work today and then will pick her up and take her to the airport. This will let her put in a full day at work, while still getting to the airport early enough for her comfort zone, not having to make a trip home between the two. The airport is perhaps 10 minutes or so closer to her work than home as well, so she will save a good 45 minutes. She first has a flight to California, then form there a quick transfer, and off she will be to the land of Kiwi's and Hobbits. New Zealand was is probably at the top of her travel list and a combination of a huge price cut on a group tour and low air fare, she decided to make a go of it. Since she rents right now, there isn't much she has to do home wise. We'll stop for her mail, mostly just junk mail anyway, and leave for her. She'll be gone well over two weeks.

     I'm excited for her and will live vicariously through her pictures and video once back. I'm sure she'll post along the way via Instagram or send me Facebook messages. I of course get the travel bug frequently. This will help me for a bit, knowing my kid is experiencing something she has always wanted to do. I've been looking at flash deals though on various travel sites Who knows? Maybe once she is back and if she has a free weekend and could watch pup, maybe I'll look at booking a spontaneous trip for the two of us. I just saw flights and four nights in Cancun for $216 a person.

     Right now, we don't have a spare $216 a person, but let's see how January fares. Oh wait, I know how it will fare, and not in the budget. I'll have to squash the travel bug with a movie, a book, or maybe a happy hour margarita. We'll have travel in our future again, until then, as I nurse my other minor maladies, I'll have to nurse my travel bug as well.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Bread Maker Nostalgia

     My bread maker decided to stop working. I put all the ingredients in for dough, and an hour and 20 minutes later when the timer went off, I still had all the ingredients in the pan, not dough. It appeared the knead bar didn't work. I salvaged the ingredients by hand, still made the rolls, but they were kind of dense. I didn't bother trying to make bread, but will look for alternate recipes that are easy and won't kill my hands. I'd like fresh bread now and then but I'm not rushing out to replace the maker. I'm trying to figure out if there is a fix or if there is a part that needs replacing. My guess is it will cost more to replace the part than  finding a second hand maker. If I find an easy peasy recipe, I'll just skip entirely, second hand or not. There's also frozen bread dough that I can just keep in the freezer which will do the trick. 

     It sure was nice to have when the older kids were young through their teen years. A batch of soup or chili and a loaf of bread made a really hearty meal. I think I got the machine from DH for Christmas perhaps about five years after we were in the house so perhaps 1996, or maybe a couple years after that. I know I had it several years before DD2 was born in 2001. The years before she started Kindergarten it got used the most. I was in a regular routine of making a batch if cinnamon rolls on Fridays as there was always an extra kid or two and it was a cheap and well received snack. I'd follow with a loaf of bread-sometimes two depending how early I started and what was being made for supper.  In the last 10 years, it was used 1/4 of the previous 10, but conservateivley, I've baked 500 loaves of bread or dough in it's life. I don't know what DH spent, but if it can't be salavaged, it had a good run. 

     Maybe it's weird to have a little wispiness of memories over an appliance, but I do. In my crazy hectic days of a full time working mom of three, in the heart of my career taking off, I had a lot of mixed feelings of whether I was doing right by my family. Mommy wars were alive and well, complete with the guilt. The bread maker helped me channel a little June Cleaver, feeling like at least once in a while, I was that kind of mom.