Monday, December 26, 2011

The Greatest Day Of The Year

The day after Christmas...

No traveling, no cooking, no errands, no work... Pure bliss.

Kid got a big Santa gift this year, The Calico Critters Cloverleaf Manor ... we figured this might be her last *real* year for Santa and decided to knock it out of the park. We went all out, and she is sure we would NEVER be able to afford this ;)

Kid told Baby she could be the governess and manage the nursery on the top floor. Baby misunderstood and happily accepted the role of "Govenor" and promptly emptied the entire doll house and set it up by her own specifications while Kid was eating breakfast! Thankfully, Kid is a very patient and loving big sister. Baby didn't even get a smack for that ;) Just kidding... like it or not, in our house the only toys that don't have to be shared are American Girl dolls.

Baby's big gifts were a couple of princess Barbies and some dress up dresses. She is currently tying up her barbie's feet and pretending a Calico Critter beaver is an evil doctor that is going to light her on fire. Hmm...

Now, I'm going to sit here, in my pjs all day, and think about our budget for the new year. Something I actually find fun. My mom & dad both gave us new flat screen TVs (we still have tube... believe it) and we can finally drop our TV service and just use Netflix and the digital antenna. I'm so excited! We're also dropping our house phone (only solicitors really use it)... I'm already down $125 a month! I'm also going to go down to $75/week on groceries for the next 3 months... raising our food budget has really increased both our food waste and poorer food choices... neither of which I'm happy with. While the $60 Asheville budget was difficult, we ate better and more responsibly. (And I was thinner... maybe a connection?) I'm upping it $15 because food is actually more expensive here, and I don't want to switch from Organic when we can afford it. $75 is doable, but means I will have to work with a meal plan, and carefully use what we buy. This is good on so many fronts (our health, budget, and the environment) and I feel much better about how I'm managing the house when I do it.

That's all folks.


-amy said...

Mrs. F, if you are like us, you'll prefer antennae to cable. IonLife and pbs' Create channels are similar to old-school Learning Channel, Discovery, and HGTV. Along with Netflix, there is NO NEED for cable or DirecTV. The stuff I missed at first was the TV equivalent of crack-y junk food. Something I'm ultimately glad is out of the house and I can't ruin my mind watching.

Happy Holidays -

Mrs Furious said...

Crazy, I didn't even know there were channels other than the basic 2/4/7/56/62. I'm even more excited, now.

carla said...

I love the slowness of the holiday here.
we jewish misfits take it REALLY SLOW :-)


gooddog said...

can you give us/me an example of a weeks worth of furious food and meals on $75? I need HELP!!
Merry Christmas btw. :)

Mrs Furious said...

lol.... yes, I can imagine.

Yes. I'll post them as I go along. I just planned out 4 weeks (which I've never done before) and I'm planning on doing one big meat purchase each week & prepping and freezing. Hamburger to make meatballs, and seasoned ground beef for tacos, chili, shepherd's pie, meat sauce, etc., later. One week I'm buying pork tenderloin and marinating them and freezing them. Also, I usually rely on a rotisserie chicken every week or so. If I cut all the meat off I can easily get 3-4 dinners out of it. To get meals cheaper, I had to slightly reduce our meat portions (2 oz per person.. or 1/2 pound per meal), and found making one pot style meals stretched it much further and allowed me to bulk things up: chili, baked ziti, jambalaya, etc. Also getting some good thick cut bacon and keeping it in the freezer! A little bacon adds a lot of depth or flavor and makes everything feel a bit *more* without actually costing much. When you get it home layer each strip on a piece of wax paper (freezer or parchment, etc) then put them in a freezer bag. You can take out a strip or two that way very easily.
This week: Chicken & Shrimp Jambalaya w/ rice; Tortellini w/Chicken, Bacon, Peas & Green Beans (this is a family favorite and I'll post it); Chicken Turnovers w/green beans (also family favorite); Spaghetti w/sauteed broccoli; Chicken soup w/homemade rolls; Tomato & Meatball soup; leftovers or pizza. Only once every week or so will I serve a traditional serving of protein with sides meal (pork tenderloin w/ mashed potatoes & veg). The one pot meals just make more, allow for leftovers, and feel more filing all for less $. The book Family Feasts On $75 A Week is a great book to check out from the library if you can find it.
Other things... I only buy milk & coffee for beverages. I don't buy snack foods, desserts, etc. This is a time to clean out the pantry. I'm pretty sure it actually took me a couple of months to have used all our stock piled stuff up... and I have much more now... when we were really doing it week after week eventually, I had only current food in our fridge & pantry (!). It is a different lifestyle, it isn't hard as much as different. I would buy brownie mix & things when they were on sale and we'd always have some kind of treat for dessert. I made muffins for snacks (a lot), breakfast also went down to cheerios or oatmeal or pancakes (made on the weekend & frozen)... not 7 kinds of cereal half used & stale and such as I have now. The basic lesson is LESS CHOICES. Lunch is leftovers or sandwiches or buttered noodles (Baby) Whatever money is left for the week can go to snacks, etc. If we get pizza it will be a Little Caesar's Hot and Ready ($5). If you have it around a Hot & Ready also makes a lot of cheap lunches for the week!
Yikes this should be a post! Sorry.
The main thing is start by planning around what you have. I don't think I'll need to spend $75 the first two weeks. Pasta & rice based food is cheaper. Fruit is more seasonal or what is cheaper... no grapes or berries in winter...
I don't know is this helpful or like, duh...?
I'll work on a better post after I've gone shopping & have my receipts. Let me know if there is something specific you want to know.

Mrs Furious said...

holy shit that's longer than I thought!

Andrea said...

Is it sad that or internet is cheaper with cable attached, wish I could drop the cable. I can not tell you how excited I am about your new plan please do share the details. I loved your This week The plan.

Shelley said...

$75 per week is amazing! Wow! I am looking forward to seeing how you do that!

Gigs said...

Holy crap. $75 a week? Really? I think that's about what my boys eat every day! Can you post the chicken turnover recipe too? It all sounds delicious!

Mrs Furious said...

After doing $60... $75 no longer scares me. I used to spend $200 + then went to Asheville and had to do $60... and I never went back all the way. I usually spend $100-125 then would get pizza once for an additional $11.

Turnovers: Basically if you have any amount of leftover meat, cooked vegetables and something flavorful to moisten them up with you can put that in some puff pastry (frozen section!) and you'll have a tasty dinner.

This is how I do it...

Chicken turnovers:
one box of puff pastry
1- 1.5 c rotisserie chicken, chopped
1 c thawed mixed vegetables
cream of chicken soup (I use Pacific organic condensed soups they come in little boxes... and are fantastic)
salt & pepper
poultry seasoning
optional: 2 small potatoes boiled & cut into bites or left over potatoes or leftover rice (great use for that!)

The above amounts & ingredients are merely suggestions. I do not really measure, this is a great recipe to use up the leftover chicken that isn't really enough to make something out of. You can add more potato is you don't have any chicken (or use hamburger or make them vegetarian) or leave the potato out if you don't have any on hand. You want about 1/3 c of filling for each turnover. You can really stuff them and stretch the dough around.

Mix the ingredients together season with salt & pepper & a couple of dashes of poultry seasoning. This is really no fail. Although I strongly suggest using the Pacific brand soup because it is much more well flavored than Campbell's. I use all their condensed soups in my cooking. Or, hell, some store bought gravy would work GREAT in this, too.

Thaw the puff pastry and roll each one out a little then cut it into 4 pieces, fill with your filling, fold over, crimp the edges, brush with beaten egg (for gloss... not necessary), cut a couple of vent slits and bake for 20 minutes at 400. One is about 275-300 calories. I serve it with salad. They are actually VERY easy to throw together. You can thaw the dough in the fridge while you are at work and it would take about 10 minutes to get these mixed up and put in the oven. If you wait until you are home, the dough takes 40 minutes to thaw on the counter.

Mrs Furious said...

Chicken & Bacon Tortellini:
(I add the veg to this, because my kids eat them and they are good with the bacon... they could, of course, be left out and this could be served with something else.)

1.5 pound bag frozen cheese tortellini (I strongly prefer the Whole Foods Organic ones I think they hold up best)
4 slices thick cut bacon (I use Applegate Uncured Organic Sunday Bacon)
Rotisserie chicken, cut in bites (1-2 c.. whatever)
3/4 c frozen petite peas
2 T butter
salt & pepper
reserved pasta water (1/2 c)
I also add:
1.5 c frozen haricot vert (whole foods) or fresh green beans (NOT regular frozen cut beans!)

boil a big pot of water
cook bacon in a large saute pan
remove bacon, dice when cool
cook tortellini according to package directions
add peas & green beans, if using, to pasta water to cook at the same time
Heat rendered bacon fat & 2 T butter
Stir up bacon bits from bottom of pan
Add chicken and heat through
Add drained tortellini and vegetables
Season with salt & pepper
Add a little pasta water to help make a light sauce with the fat.
Toss in bacon.
4 big servings at about 550 per serving
Super fast
Extremely good

Gigs said...

Thank you!

gooddog said...

That and the video post are very helpful. Im going to get the book too. I just feel like each day I leave meal planning until the last minute and then end up doing traditional meals that are not cheap- meat, side, side, dessert. Makes me tired, very full and not cheep. I do have an extrfa fridge so I try to buy meat in bulk when it's on sale but LOVE your idea about prepping it all right away and storing it after prepped. Would make things so much easier. Those recipies look great too. THANK YOU! And, ps, the adoption side note is so exciting!

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