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Step 3 – Plan your protein

Your grocery list always need to start with proteins.  

You have to get into your head what counts as a protein; here in the good ol’ Midwest we tend to lean towards beef.  And, yes, of course, it is a protein.

But, expand your thinking: include dairy, eggs, nuts, chicken, pork products, and fish.

All of these are ways to get protein.  If you are planning to cook on four nights, you need four proteins for the week.  So, look in your freezer and see what you have on hand.

If you pick something like a roast or whole chicken, depending on family size, you could get two nights of meals out of that single protein source.

Here’s my typical plan: 

one night beef

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one night chicken

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one night fish

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one night left-overs from one of the above

To review:

write down your schedule for the week, divide your days, and now pick your proteins.

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Posted by on March 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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This is Not A HOAX

“You ‘say’ that you don’t buy anything.  You ‘say’ that you’re cleaning the pantry and freezer out.  But, you also share your grocery bill.  There are a whole bunch of meals being eaten that you aren’t telling us about. This must be a ‘hoax’.”

Since this is essentially the week of coming clean, I guess I should too.

The Great Purge is NOT A HOAX.

Does it have rules?  Yes.

Have I shared them all?  Probably not.

Here goes:

Rules:

The Great Purge involves purchasing no proteins (to be used for the supper meal);

The Great Purge does not allow for purchasing of any starches (pasta, potato, rice, etc);

The Great Purge is the main way we are eating all supper meals;

All types (fresh, frozen and canned) of fruits and vegetables are allowable purchases;

Proteins are purchased for breakfast (sausage, bacon, eggs and milk) and for kids’ school lunches (string cheese, sliced cheese and lunch meat, peanut butter);

Starches are purchased for non-supper meals (potato chips for kid lunches, bread for sandwiches, flour and sugar for baking purposes);

The Great Purge does not prevent us from eating out.

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That’s the whole list.

If you are following #ByTheNumbers, my next blog post will focus on what I’m buying at the grocery store.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Fresh Start

It’s the night before trash day.  That means it’s time to go through the fridge.

I love this task.  It’s my own version of food rescue.  Not because I typically find unidentifiable objects – but more because I find leftovers that got pushed to the back and will narrowly miss the garbage can.

There is usually the squishy peach or the nearly moldy strawberries.  Both of these items can be salvaged.  Cut off the bad (if moldy) and keep all the squishy. Throw in a container into the freezer and I’m going to save on next week’s smoothie ingredients.

Saving almost gone fruits

Fruit Smoothie

There is typically a leftover protein – anything from a random pork chop (less than 5 days old – health rule!) or even boiled eggs – that I can turn into tomorrow’s lunch.

And my favorite part is quite possibly throwing out last week’s mistakes.  Those leftover cheese tortellini that no one liked – trash.  The end of the loaves of bread – now moldy – feed the ducks out back.  The two leftover pancakes that no one ever ate – garbage.

It’s a fresh start.  It’s making right the past week’s wrongs.  It’s the impetous to start a grocery list for the following week.  A chance to reward the kid who complained the least this week about meals – ‘hey, what would you like next week for dinner one night’.

Here’s what I’ve learned: Every week brings a fresh start.

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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HomeGrown Tomatoes

I was raised in a small, rural town in Illinois.  

No, really, I mean small.  No stoplight.  Main street is one large paved asphalt road – with no center line.  My college dorm housed more people than the town I was raised in.  Small.

And it was rural.  My dad’s family farmed.  In the early days (when my dad was young), the farm included livestock.  In my early childhood, there were still some cattle and pigs.  By my adolescence, we were only farming: wheat, corn, and soybeans.

I didn’t live on ‘the farm’.  I lived ‘in town’.  If you haven’t lived in a rural area, you would call where I lived ‘the farm’ also.  But those of us from rural areas understand that there is a difference.

My parents were teachers, which meant that my dad’s summer job was working on the farm.  As we kids got older, we got to help with things like walking beans.  Bear with me here if you have walked beans or de-tassled corn.  Amazingly, some people have never held these jobs.  

Walking beans is just what is says: you walk the field of beans, with a tool in hand, and cut out the weeds.  This leaves a beautifully ‘clean’, weed-free bean field behind.  The pay is good, too, when your work is just so-so and grandpa is your boss.  (I have no idea who thought kids should be left virtually alone in a field with weapons such as these – it’s amazing no one lost a digit)

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I have tons of memories from these days.  I dream alot about the farm and my grandparents house.

But, as I’ve gotten older, most of my memories are stirred from work I do in the kitchen.  

I’ll share with you my favorite.

My grandma always cooked a HUGE starch filled meal at lunchtime when all the men came in from the field.  The protein varied – and there wasn’t much of it – but there was plenty of homemade noodles, corn and mashed potatoes.  Also white bread and real butter and homemade sweet tea.  All designed to fill your belly until dinner.   (my mouth is watering)

Then the evening meal came and went with little fanfare.  Maybe a cold sandwich.  But I can distinctly remember grandma standing at the kitchen sink cutting a garden fresh tomato into thick slices onto a small dinner plate.   She would put a bit of salt on it – stand at the sink – and eat it.

I THOUGHT THIS WAS CRAZY!  How in the world could she call that dinner.  Who in the world could eat a tomato as their whole meal.  What’s with the salt.  I just didn’t get it.

I would say every other day now in the summer, this is what my plate looks like:

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What Have I Learned:  A thick-sliced, homegrown tomato is all you need for a great meal.

 

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Bartering for Food – an elementary school cafeteria lesson

Food was a form of money in some earlier societies. People traded tobacco, salt, grain, fish, rice, olive oil, tea, and other edible goods. But commodities like hot tea were replaced by cold cash.  Check this great article.

Here in Indy, you can join Indy Food Swappers.  They describe themselves as:  ‘an Indianapolis-based, free food swap, striving to inspire creativity, build community, and spread good cheer. We trade homemade items and enjoy the company of new and old friends.’  How fun!  

But, you’ll be amazed what I’ve learned about bartering in my kids’ cafeteria.  See, my kids take a packed lunch daily…. for a couple of reasons:  1) daughter can’t get full enough on the school lunch 2) they are all picky and 3) there are lots of rules at the fresh fruit/veggie table – don’t get me started.

They all are required to pack a protein and at least one fruit and one veggie in their lunch.  Recently, I started buying mini watermelons (I know that they aren’t quite in season here locally, but my youngest (and pickiest) eater loves watermelon).  I cut it into wedges and send two or three slices in each of their lunches.

Today they told me that they each need an additional slice.  My first thought was ‘what great eaters I have’.  Only later did I find out that the extra slice is for bartering at the lunch room table!  Apparently, watermelon has a huge barter value – especially when it is prettily cut into wedges.

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After asking some probing questions, I learned that there are obvious high-value barter items – the type you would expect – cheetos, doritos, desserts, etc.  But what I also learned is that fruit – specifically fresh strawberries and watermelon are worth A LOT!

Here’s what I’ve learned: pack plenty of fruit.  I don’t care if my kids or others eat it.  I’m just really happy to hear that it is so valuable.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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S/He won’t eat anything

I’m relieved again today.  After coffee out with some fellow mothers of elementary school age children, I have learned that every family does have THAT ONE KID – you know him/her, the one who refuses to eat anything you prepare.

I’ve decided to focus on what the child will eat – rather than what he won’t.

Good foods –

anything carb (which makes breakfast time easy),

anything from the pig (pork, sausage and bacon),

random fruits and veggies – apples, grapes, watermelon, bananas, carrot sticks, corn and broccoli

also some other proteins – cheese, yogurt, milk, eggs (scrambled only please)

Bad foods –

everything else

But wait, if you look at that good food  list, there are alot of positives on it.  His tastes will expand, keep making him try things and trudge on.  I don’t know if we’ll still be writing/reading blogs when he is a 6 foot tall 16 year-old, but I guess that if we are – this old post will CRACK US UP!

What I learned?  RELAX

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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