Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Wednesday Pantry-$5 Dollar Tree Challenge

      I can say I did it; it's done. I made a meal of sorts with five items from the Dollar Tree. I knew going into it, a protein and high sodium were going to be the main issues. You can get a lot of basics at Dollar Tree, and I wish I had stuck to them. It would not have been anything unique, but it might have had better results. First, the rules. My meal had to be enough to serve a minimum of 3-4 adults. I had to have five different items and for my self imposed challenge, nothing from my own pantry to add. Many allow salt, pepper, and even stretch to any seasonings they have, plus oil or butter, and sometimes even egg and milk.  I was very strict-which really makes it much harder, but if the challenge is a DT meal for $5, then that's what I think it should be. Had I challenged myself to make 3 meal for $10, I would have had an easier time planning, and probably better quality meal in the end. But, those weren't my rules. First, here's what I bought.

  • 8 ounce/2 beef patties (I had seen people post Jennie O Turkey burgers, but my DT didn't have
  • 16 ounce bag broccoli
  • 5 ounce cheddar cheese
  • Jambalaya rice mix
  • Spring rolls
     The intent was to make a beefy rice and broccoli hotdish, topped with cheese. But when I saw the state of the broccoli-huge chunks of stems and very little florets, I decided to just cook that separately and hope that  putting cheese over it would help. It did not. I learned why the only frozen vegetables I see anyone buy is the pepper and onion mix, or the carrot, pea mixed vegetables, if they have either. The beef patties cooked very odd. I used as ground beef, but even though it was an uncooked product, there was no juice whatsoever. I reread the package multiple times. Still, mixed in with the  rice dish, it was pretty tasty. Had I known the broccoli would be such a disappointment, in hindsight, I would have bought the  sausage links instead of beef, and just browned discs of  that instead. The spring rolls were going to be my side dish to the  hot dish, but because I served the broccoli and cheese on the side, my plate shows three items. Here's my plated meal.

     The review. The rice was pretty tasty, but with each bite, I could feel the salt coursing through my veins. Run, do not walk, past the frozen broccoli. I swear this must have been what was left after the plant packaged the real vegetable, and this was the remnants. The stalks were thick and woody, with no flavor except what was pulled from the cheese I  put on and allowed to melt from the steam. The egg rolls, made in the air fryer, had good reviews  on YouTube, which is why I forced them into my menu. I cooked them in the air fryer. They were just OK-the roll itself got nice and crispy, but the veg inside was a bit mush. A little dipping sauce would have gone a long way. The hit though might be the 5 oz. little brick of cheese-which was actually cheddar cheese. At 20 cents per ounce, it would come to $3.20 per pound, which is about what I can get at Walmart or Aldi. Admittedly, I had bought this before in both cheddar and pepper jack, so knew it was going to be fine. Thankfully, I didn't waste more than 1/2 on the broccoli that could not be saved. 

     Here's the sad facts. Packages were different serving sizes, so I converted everything to five servings to  compare along with the main ingredient, the rice. My plate above is roughly 1/5th of each, so the following should apply. While I didn't care for the broccoli, I had enough to eat. DH ate a plate, but then later had a bowl of granola and yogurt. I have probably 2/3rds of the rice left and will use over the next couple days for lunch. We nibbled on the spring rolls  later, and I tossed the rest of the broccoli. I've got1/2 the cheese left.

Total Calories        562 (women average 2,000 day, men 2,500)
Total Sodium        1,230 gr or 61% of ADA for a 2,000 calorie diet
Total Protein            19 grams (women need average 46 g, and men ave 60 g)

     We both would likely exceed our ADA of sodium, and be shy on protein in the day depending on what else we ate. DH would be calorie shy by a long shot, unless he ate double portions, but then, his sodium on this meal alone would be  over his ADA. This was an interesting experiment, and as I said, with different rules, I might have done much better both in quality and health. Your thoughts? Please note this was all for fun and entertainment. I in no way  endorse eating this way nor will rush to repeat it myself. In a future post, I'll share what I do think might be worthwhile DT buys. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Positively Tuesday-Best Days of Summer


     Remember, I have no young kids at home anymore so the running around start of the school year, fall sports season, and early melt downs of homework and friend groups, doesn't impact me. Well, I get a bit of the workload melt down from afar, but don't actually witness it. So far so good though with college kid. She has an incredibly busy life, has already said she's pulled a few late nighters-early morning sessions to complete work, but otherwise seems good. I think she is so happy to have a semi normal college year, the busy is a gift. Where was I going with this? Oh yes, for me, the best days of this summer so far have been the last week. We've had fun days, and sunshine, and enough rain to keep things green, but not enough to ruin any plans. It's crisp in the morning, so drinking coffee outside on the porch with a sweater is pure bliss. Likewise, sneaking away from my desk late morning or mid afternoon if there is a lull in my meeting schedules to walk with pup doesn't mean I'm sweating and sticky by the time I'm back 30 minutes later. I get the midday sun and natural dose of vitamin  D for a bit of an energy burst.. 

     With me highlighting why I think the day after labor day through the real first day of fall on September 20th are the best days of the whole summer, I'll share my top 10 joys, simple pleasures, or things that made me smile in the last week. 

  1. I tried a different meditation class-this one through YouTube last Tuesday night. I think the key  to feeling the benefit, whether it is 5 minutes, or  30, is to really relax, palms, up, eyes closed, and take in the sounds. I followed my little session with  a combination of some of the physical therapy  stretches and the office  Yoga moves my former coworker shared with us last spring. I've tried to keep this up each day-but not any consistent time. 
  2. I skipped having any beer or hard seltzer at the brewery-having artisan sodas they are now carrying instead. I had a twinge of a headache all day before going to trivia and was glad I avoided alcohol. It was fun, but we had a horrible picture round-I think we maybe got 2 of 10 right. That's normally our best round. 
  3. On Thursday, my daughter and I took pup for a beautiful evening walk. I shared a picture on Friday  she took with pup, and a panoramic shot. Happy dogs-can't get any more joy than that. 
  4. We had some good news at work (even though this was the same day as the start of the big fiasco) and it means one of my team will get to lead a new effort. She has been wanting to take on a bit more project leadership and I don't want to lose her to another organization. Better, the timing won't start until October, so I'll not lose her hours for a few more weeks, and by then, my new staff will be ready to take on more things, so I shouldn't feel the burden. 
  5.  DH texted Friday afternoon to say he had a gift card and would I like to go out for supper. Worked for me! We later stopped at my sisters where several were gathering after a golf tournament for cards and pizza, though no one stayed long. We were stuffed from dinner but think i might splurge on ordering pizza at some point this month if my take out/eating goal support it. 
  6. Without details, I'll just share the  cabin ordeal is done. This gives me joy as I no longer will need to witness the stress and strain on DH and his mom.
  7. I spent an unusually long time in my Dollar Tree trying to plan my $5 Challenge on Sunday. I will be making that tonight. I could have gone with a very easy pasta dish, but tried for something different. I think what I have will be different all right. I  just hope it is edible. I have a small  store, with a tiny refrigerator and freezer section and it was pretty picked over so I made due with what options were there. It's all for fun.
  8. I enjoyed the people watching and several good conversations with other spectators and finishers while my daughter was on the run/obstacle course of her run on Saturday. There were staggered heats in 15 minute increments. There was really only a food hut with burgers and brats, along with a beer hut and nothing my daughter could really eat, so we ended up not eating anything there but the granola bars I brought and her post run banana. I did have her free beer though-she didn't feel like it after running. So for me, it ended up being a very fun and frugal day. 
  9. Even with  my daughters Trader Joe stop for me, DH's rogue shop, my DT challenge, I stayed under by $4 my $57 per week average needed to stay on target to hit under $300 in grocery spending in September. When you are a competitive person, besting your own rules feels good. I friend myself of Monica on friends who was so competitive, she took over a silly ball drop game.

  10. DH requested homemade macaroni and cheese on Sunday night. To be honest, I've not made it from scratch in a while, and mine turned out delicious and creamy, and gave him leftovers for his lunch yesterday. 
     It was a quiet week-kids next door at school so I'm not hearing the fighting that typically happens throughout the day, or the parents yelling out the window! Another reason why these early days f September are some of the best of summer. That alone is a joy. I like hearing the bus pick-up and drop off-my office  window catches the sounds-and it sounds like normal! My daughter and I might go apple picking this weekend, but we are waiting of honey crisp and the might not be ready by Saturday. She went on Sunday and got some zestars and blondes and has an abundance to share with me. I think I'll do a pie, but also prep and freeze a batch for a Christmas pie when DS is hopefully home. Both are something to look forward to. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Weekly Menu Plan-Challenge and New Recipe


     I had a really good weekend and sad to see it end. I never seem to be as productive as I intend, but some things that needed  to got done so there's that. I picked up a few odds and ends, but didn't really grocery shop, but I think I can make an Ok menu. First, here's the change outs from last week. Black is planned, and red is what happened. 

  • Sunday- Pasta salad, meatballs in BBQ sauce, tortilla chips and corn and black bean salsa. each meal has a vegetable or two. We'll both have at least two servings of fruit in the day. 
  • Monday: Marinated grilled chicken, roasted red potatoes(need using up), stuffed red pepper with cous cous (partial box in pantry irritating me) and cheese, garlic bread 
  • Tuesday: Taco Tuesday, with refried beans and Spanish rice
  • Wednesday: Vegetarian chili, using the remaining black bean and corn salsa, crackers or a grilled cheese on the side Sloppy Joes and tator tots
  • Thursday: Chicken and pasta bake, with tomato and cucumber salad, Vegetarian chili, using the remaining black bean and corn salsa, crackers or a grilled cheese on the side
  • Friday: Sloppy Joes, sweet potato wedges We wen tout to eat with a gift card
  • Saturday: Homemade pepperoni pizza Chicken and pasta bake
     I mostly switched days on things, but also skipped making a couple items that I might move to this week. One stop yesterday was the Dollar Tree and I managed to but  five items that I will try to incorporate into a full meal. I'm a bit iffy on the meat item I selected, so might change that out. I have a smallish store near me, and the refrigerator and freezer section was very limited. After watching a few videos, I selected items others bought before, so fingers crossed it will be a  nice meal. I'll share in My Wednesday Pantry post the rules, the details, and the results. 

Sunday- Per DH's request, even though we just had a pasta bake the night before, was homemade macaroni and cheese. It was pretty tasty. I had sliced cucumbers and tomatoes on the side.  
Monday: Chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes
Tuesday: Dollar Tree $5.00 Meal Challenge 
Wednesday: Meat loaf, sweet potato wedges
Thursday: Crock pot mock lasagna
Friday: Homemade Pepperoni Pizza
Saturday: Burrito Bake from Taste of Home

     Of course, we may have a night where DH decides to eat out, or I might just dial it in and open a carton of soup. If vegetables aren't called out, know I'll serve something with the main dish. Also, if I end up not wanting the oven on, that could force some changes, but this is a oven heavy week if all goes to plan. I've not tried the burrito recipe before, but I've not had a bad recipe yet from Taste of Home. My mom had given me and one of my sisters a subscription for years but now pretty much you can find them online. I often google the idea I am thinking of, and recipe options come up and I gravitate towards those that are  Taste of Home. How about you all? Is anyone trying anything new this week?

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Sunday in September


The start of my daughter's heat-
 15 minute increments.

       Before leaving for my daughter's run yesterday, I watched some of the 9/11 memorial services, and joined the moments of silence. Twenty years and the country is in such a volatile shape, but maybe we'll all remember that there was a day when we all stood together. Yesterday felt for a few moments, there might be hope for that. I can only live my life, but I hope, as one speaker, the brother of a flight 93 passenger said, that I'm worthy of the sacrifices of those that died on 9/11 and those who have since.

     Today we're gifted another beautiful September day. I'll be doing nothing heroic, but trying to bring my piece of life some organization. We might get rain later and the day is cooler, but I've plenty to do inside and outside. It was fun spending the day at the run, but things were left for today.

  • Meal plan
  • Finish remaining laundry
  • Change bedding
  • Clean bathrooms 
  • Dust and vacuum living room
  • Clean the refrigerator 
  • Weed rocks 
  • Plant a few more hostas 
  • Make cookie dough

     NFL Football starts today, at least for the  Minnesota Vikings. DH will want to watch that, but we'll get plenty done before and after (and during.) Nothing on my list will take long so I'll watch church sometime today. I'm waiting to see if surge in cases goes down/doesn't grow before we go in person again since services are only indoors. I might run to the store for a couple basics, but pretty sure I can make a plan for meals with what's here. I'll get pup out for a good walk and play too. 

     How are you spending your Sunday? Whatever you do it where you go, I hope you find blue sky's and smiling eyes.