Wednesday, January 18, 2023

My Wednes Pantry- Loss Leaders and the Economy

      Not that there's been many ad prices to write home about, but I'm trying to execute a better "stock up and shop my pantry" plan for 2023. Supplemented with just essentials and whole ingredients, I think we can have a healthy and well balanced menu. I hope to at least maintain our previous budget, average of $475, grocery, health, beauty, and household. If I can skinny off 10% or more, all the better. It got me thinking, if enough people do this, will the economy be harmed? Can stores afford this? 

     I came to the conclusion that will never happen. People with busy lives, kids and careers to juggle, social lives, and elder care, are the majority and won't shop this way. Seeing the USDA average budgets tells me this. Personally on my end, if I buy loss leaders at a variety of places, but basics in my local store, I'll hopefully balance out my budget and supporting local stores. I also don't plan on making special runs, but like Saturday, stop on route from somewhere else. 

There's some basics I want to keep on hand at all times:

  • Dry beans
  • Shelf stable milk and plant milk 
  • Flour 
  • Sugar 
  • Yeast
  • Ground flax
  • Variety of spices, salt, pepper
  • Baking soda and powder
  • Oil- olive and vegetables 
  • Canned tomatoes 
  • Rice
  • Assorted pasta
  • Assorted canned vegetables and fruit 
     I've been cooking with these, along with loss leaders, fresh and frozen veg and dairy, and lowest cost purchased meat. I'm still buying eggs, but more like a dozen every 2 weeks or so. I'm not saving for baking, but using flax eggs, frozen banana, or other substitutes, or looking for vegan recipes. We like eggs as a protein option and find as a scramble or bake, can stretch with other ingredients. For example the four egg bake, with getting close to gone veg and cheese, fed us both brunch, me a lunch, and we finished using as an egg sandwich between thin slices of toasted homemade bread. That was a delicious breakfast sandwich and quite filling. Here was a use up the remnants of deli meat and a hunk of Colby cheese made on slices of the same homemade garlic and herb bread.
The bread didn't rise much, this was a salad
plate. The bread didn't taste heavy though. These were the last of Christmas cornichons. 

     This is old school to most of you. It's old school revisited to me. I'm trying to see as a fun way to experiment in the kitchen rather than the stress of inflation and the chore of meal prep. DH loved the homemade bread, so I'll try to do weekly. At least for this month. I hope I keep it up as the year goes on.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Positively Tuesday- Land of Ice

      We've had a bit of January thaw, but we had so much ice it's not getting the layers up. Walking is still a risky endeavour. With yesterday off, I worked to chip up pieces so the warmth could maybe do it's thing better. I at least got the sidewalk ice removed, plus some of the icy pile up where DD2'S car was parked. That was a work out. Family, work, and weather was the summary of my week. Even with work stress and frustration, joys, smiles, and simple pleasures outnumbered my grimaces. 

  • Tuesday: I made DD2's favorite soup and cupcakes for an early birthday while they all went to the Avatar movie. It was a nice last relaxing night with everyone. 
  • Wednesday: Ice condition's gave me extra hours with all my kids, made an early lunch for DS and DD2 of curry, packing a few meals for her to take back to school. With DS not leaving until nearly 4, I made him a couple wraps as an early dinner. Making food for people makes me happy when it's not an obligation and is appreciated. All eventually got to their destinations safely. 
  • Thursday: DH was off but he was in and out throughout the day. I got a nice message out of the blue from a friend I hadn't heard from in a while. We're making plans to meet up. 
  • Friday: Work was very frustrating, but I managed to shake off my initial disbelief at what was coming soon, and went into problem solving mode. It's not solved, but at least I'm resigned to fixing so not ready to give immediate notice. I played with the dogs and that helped my mood. I made homemade pizza and we watched SWAT and Fire Country. 
  • Saturday: I had a productive morning, though the productivity fizzled out. I read a few pages of a few books, but then decided to bake. I made pumpkin bread and garlic and herb. I had a texting conversation with my daughter wishing her happy birthday, though we celebrated earlier in the week. Later DH and I went out for supper. I may have had a margarita. 
  • Sunday: So disappointed with the Vikings play and their playoff loss. They just didn't make the plays when needed, but I'm not gonna be a fair weather fan. Next year! The ice cleats came and helped a lot. I put the mediums on an old pair of tennis shoes so they can just be ice walking shoes for the path. I have to step outside to put them on and take off so I don't scratch the entry tile, but I'm happy with them so far. I took pup for two walks in the nice warmish weather. 
  • Monday:  With sort of the day off ( I had a few calls from Friday's mess, plus did some triage of messages), I started my day with longer than just my 10 minute yoga, 10 minute meditation. My back and mind needed both. DD1 came over for supper, bringing her dog to hang out here again a few days  due to her work schedule. He's getting easier and more  dog like, so less interruptions, other than his cuteness. 
     January is a doldrums month for me so I need to dig hard to find the joys. But I and my loved ones have woken up each day in relatively good health, have food, shelter, and each other. That's always worth looking on the bright side about. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

Money Monday-Gift Giving it in 2023

 I appreciate the ideas for my sister's 60th birthday. She works incredibly long hours and is very unselfish with the little free time she has. I think I'll put a pampering kit together with a gift certificate for a pedicure at her salon, a beeswax small candle ( she rarely burns them, but might for pampering), a bulb plant, and assorted face and hand masks. There's also my BIL, brother, sister, and if course DD2 with January birthdays. 

     We have a lot of gift giving occasions, and they add up. I'm trying to use old and new strategies to keep the budget in check. While some are more token gifts, even they can ding budgets. What I've thought of so far...

  • Continue to shop my closet stash, which includes generic, though practical, gift items bought at super low prices and old Fab, Fit, Fun items none of us used. Some will go with my sister's gift. My BIL will get the same windshield frost guard I bought for my daughter's and our cars, plus a super soft men's scarf bought for 75% clearance, but is pretty timeless. I've got a few other things tucked away that will be good gifts in the year to come.
  • Revisit  Groupon. I used to have success with getting great prices on things. I forget besides experiences, they have a broader marketplace. 
  • Buy a case of decent wine, taking advantage of case discount and I think dry January sales. I'll probably get a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Chardonnay, and what isn't gifted, we'll use next year over holidays. My stash is finally fairly low. 
  • Jam was a hit. Even if I have to buy all jars and ingredients, I can make for under $2 a jar. Out in about at farmers markets and Christmas shops, the 1/2 pint jars were $5-$8. Likely I'll get repurposed jars, at least a few back, and free or low cost fruit and peppers. I'd like to figure out cute labels and lid covers. These with the next one, make nice birthday gifts or supplement a budget bought gift. 
  • Christmas 2020 bread was a winning gift. I have 7 mini moaf pans, plus I'll look for sources of paper bread pans. If someone gifted me a small year bread loaf with jam and maybe choclates for good measure, I'd be happy. I found these cute mini bread pans at the grocery store at huge clearance, 4 each at just $3.99. They're Cuisinart brand and good quality. For pumpkin, banana, or other quick breads, these mini loafs make good hostess or neighbor, coworker gifts. 

  •  Look for experience opportunities for people who need nothing. Part of good gift giving is not to buy stuff that adds clutter. I need to restrain stuff for people like DH or MIL.
     Those of you who sew, crochet, knit probably have loads of go to gifts you make. I'd love any skill like that, but since I've not mastered I need to think differently. I don't want to get into craft making, plus in general, Americans have too much stuff. Reining in gifting just to gift will help. I'm hoping my strategies still show people we care about them, but both don't create clutter and don't pinch our budget. 

Sunday, January 15, 2023

What's on the Menu?

      Sorry to have been cranky in my W's post yesterday. I feel much less "arghh" today. I'll get through the work frustration, always do. It's not a good way to approach each day just in count down mode, so I'm going to try and cultivate a more positive work attitude. Fake It if I can't Make It, so to say. 

 Meals and food and snacks make me happy. I like reading other people's ideas and recipes. Here's how we ate the past week. There was so much food in the house plus we ate out several times, so cooking was minimal after a big Sunday meal.

  • Sunday: Turkey dinner for lunch, happy hour later,  so rest of day was leftovers,  snacking, whatever
  • Monday: After a sushi lunch, another sort of smorgasbord of various leftovers was supper
  • Tuesday: DS and DD2 took their grandma out for lunch, so weren't that hungry. I made soup; people ate as they wanted, and they all had popcorn at movies with DH.
  • Wednesday: Last of turkey gravy with chunks of turkey, with ???? I was sad that my week with kids was done so probably ate the remaining Christmas treats right down to last krumkake crumb. 
  • Thursday: Last of wild rice soup, toastie dogs 
  • Friday: Homemade flatbread pizza
  • Saturday: We went out to eat with a free meal voucher from an error in our take out order last March, plus gift card. I have leftovers for lunch Monday. 
Here's options for this week. I'm trying to reduce a lot of the convenience stuff, and have meals fill in for lunches or a double dinner. Assume vegetables, fruit, or salad served with the main. There's a lot of comfort foods here, because it's January and I'm in need of comfort. 
  • Goulash
  • Sausage meatballs and au gratin potatoes
  • Cottage pie 
  • Turkey pot pie (pie crust- wish me luck)
  • Chili
  • Homemade chicken tenders with sweet potato fries
  • Tuna hotdish 
  • BLT sandwiches
     I wouldn't have needed groceries technically but DH and I stopped for a few basics and loss leaders. I baked homemade bread, both an Italian rustic version, and pumpkin bread. DH wants chicken wings today for the game, so I've got some marinating. I think goulash sounds good for tonight, but that could change by the time I decide to cook. 

     Funny story. I wanted to buy some Vicks Vapor rub, the wonder stuff everyone's been suggesting for everything from persistent cough and congestion, to raw and cracked skin. I thought DH was next to me as I looked up and down the aisle shelves talking out loud at what I could see, but not the right product. To my surprise when I looked up and turned my head, DH had receded in age by 20 years and grew a beard. A kind younger man laughed when I explained I obviously hadn't looked up to see my husband no longer there, and I don't normally talk to myself out loud in public. I was leaving the row when he called out "Mam, I found  it," and handed me  the box with the little jar in it. His kid looked at me like I was a loony old woman. I think DH left me in the aisle on purpose with my head down. He sure laughed at my embarrassment. Jokes on him though. I get myself in what normally would be embarrassing situations so frequently, I rarely get embarrassed anymore. 

      What's up in your kitchen?