Category Archives: retirement planning

What We Ate

Monday: I wanted breakfast, which we normally don’t do as a “meal,” it’s usually catch as catch can with both of us finding cereal or whatever suits. I made herb/cheese omlettes. It was okay, but I’m trying to use up the artisinal cheese we got and it’s “sour” by nature and I’m not fond of that. Would have been better, I think, with other cheese. I also used fresh dill, parsley and tarragon, because I have them. Some time ago, I stopped making 4 egg omlettes for us and use 3 instead.

  • There’s a video of Jacques Pepin talking about how to make omlettes I found interesting and instructive, here.
  • Or, there’s another with him, slightly different, that’s here.

We had cheese, crackers and apple for lunch. Not exciting, but it works.

I made more garlic salt this afternoon.

Tonight’s dinner will be the lentils, rice, and onions dish I’ve made before. I have some small sausages to add. I’m feeling lazyish, in that I don’t want to research another recipe for something new to make, either in one of my cookbooks or online!

We have an actual head of lettuce from the farm as well as jarred salad, which has become a staple here.


Tuesday: No organized breakfast. Lunch was LO lentils/rice. Dinner? I have no idea, except salad and more LO lentils/rice. We’ve been discussing going to the small natural market after work . . . maybe we’ll pick up instant dinner?

DH made hamburgers with onions, his usual burger. We had it with leaf lettuce and jarred salad.


Wednesday: No breakfast. I really need to research breakfast casseroles or something like it so that we can just get up and eat breakfast, even if we’re not sitting down. Both of us snack too much and we agreed we need to eat a “formal” breakfast. I guess that means overnight oats (which I’ve never made) or a casserole of some kind.

I found a recipe in a cookbook for “blender applesauce” which I made as a side dish for dinner. I’m cooking pork chops, which leaves 1  “thick slab” and a little carnitas still remaining of the expensive meat.

Here’s the recipe for blender applesauce and my modified version. Original recipe from Everything But the Kitchen Sink, by Eliason, Harward & Westover, 1986, HP Books. The cookbook is subtitled “A Plan-Ahead Cookbook” and was designed to use the bits & pieces leftover after other recipes and turn them into useful food. It’s great for us, as the yields aren’t huge most of the time. (These are the same authors who wrote the Make a Mix Cookery,  and  More Make a Mix Cookery.)

Fresh Blender Applesauce

  • 4 lg cooking apples, peeled, cored and cubed (about 4C)
  • 2T lemon juice
  • 1/4C water
  • 1/3C sugar
  • 1/8t ground cinnamon (optional, the person who owned the cookbook before me wrote in “apple pie spice” and crossed out “cinnamon.”)

In a blender/food processor with a metal blade, combine all ingredients. Process until mix is smooth. Transfer to a saucepan, bring to a boil. Serve warm or cool. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Makes 2C.

My version:

Pink Applesauce

  • 6 small macoun apples (or other red, sweet apples), cored, sliced and diced (keep peels on) , 4C worth.
  • 2T lemon juice (1 lemon’s worth, when lemon is zapped 10 sec. in a microwave and then rolled on the counter to make it juicer). Remove seeds from juice.
  • 1/4C water
  • 1T vanilla paste*

Combine lemon juice, water, and vanilla paste in the 1C measure after you put the apples in the blender or food processor.  Follow instructions above, but leave mixture slightly chunky so as to keep the red bits. The sauce turns pink with red dots. If it sits long enough the entire thing turns pink, or it did for me!

It’s sweet enough for us between the sweet apples and the vanilla paste.  (If you want it sweeter, add a little sugar or syrup. Or, omit the vanilla paste altogether and add some sugar.)

*My husband loves vanilla, and is always on me to use less sugar, so I almost always have this. It’s expensive, but a bottle lasts about a year.


Thursday: I made the “breakfast casserole” for lunch/brunch. Dinner was salad and smoothies. It was hot!


Friday: Lunch was catch as catch can, left overs, hummus on crackers, etc. Dinner was smoothies and salad again.


Saturday: We had left overs for lunch. I made the skillet dish I talked about here for dinner. There’s barely enough rice/veggies left for one person’s lunch.


Sunday: We had oven fried chicken and salad. DH had his with a quasi-mole sauce. I had mine plain. We have one left over chicken thigh to use up.

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Photo by Angela Bailey on Unsplash


Monday: DH needs to bake bread. We need to use up mozzarella, a chicken thigh, and veggies. Cheese sauce? Lasagna? (No noodles.) Salad with cheese and chicken, like a chef’s salad? We have salami in the freezer still I think? (Maybe.) I’ll look and see what we’ve got. A salad for lunch would work too. We’re busy working on our bedroom revision, so something that isn’t involved sounds good!

I had the last of the skillet dinner from Saturday for lunch, not sure what DH had.

We both must have been wanting more sweet stuff, DH made tapioca and I made a mug cake from this recipe. I had a hard time finding one that didn’t use chocolate bits, which I don’t have and used only cocoa, which I do!

We had white pizza for dinner, the last chicken thigh from Sunday, onion, and the mozzarella.

 

Using Expensive Meat: Conclusions

So far we’ve had 15 portions using the expensive pork roast I bought. (See this post.) That brings the price down to $1.86 per portion. Surprise!

What I still have in the freezer: 1 slab which could be turned into stir fry, soup, or two pork chops, and a small container of carnitas. At a minimum, there’s probably still 4 portions remaining. If I figure 19 portions from this pork roast, it’s $1.47 each.

Just wow.

I had no idea I could do that. I’ve been watching it go, but I’ve used the meat as I cut it: about 1/2-1/3 for the roast (which became the carnitas), 3 slabs, and one small piece off the end. The small piece was turned into soup. That left the 3 slabs. We’ve eaten 2.

I admit it probably wouldn’t work this way in a bigger family, or perhaps with other cuts of meat. I started with a boneless hunk of pork loin. Very little waste, especially since I’ve used the small amount of fat that came with it to cook something every time we’ve eaten the pork. But I haven’t skimped or deliberately stretched it, I’ve just used it as convenient.

I also admit we’ve been eating it pretty steadily, because I knew I had this chunk of beautiful stuff in the freezer. . . My plan is to use meat for dinner 2x a week, which would have been 6 meals or 12 portions.

We also ate it for lunch: 5 6 portions worth. We tend to eat smaller lunches than dinners, so it went further that it might have otherwise.

My conclusion? It’s possible to get to my target price with expensive meat, if you have minimal waste in the original, large piece of meat AND if you use any leftovers for lunches. Otherwise? I’d have made 10 meals, at $2.79 per portion, over the $2 per portion price I wanted.

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Food This Week

We had part of the pork Sunday as chops. I updated the post about the pork, here.

On Monday, we had DIY tostadas. Greens, cheese, meat and salsa. The meat was a cooked, single-serving meat loaf from the freezer. The salsa was from the last container of HM salsa roja from last summer.

Tuesday, I went marketing, both at the natural small market and the larger supermarket about 10 miles from here. I bought ingredients so that I could turn the cooked rice into either the burrito bowl or Thai fried rice (no recipe, DH taught me how, decades ago, I just make it. I’ll see if I can’t find a recipe.)

The rest of the marketing will probably be at the farm on Thursday.

We had the burrito bowl .

The burrito bowl wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t as good as it has been, either.

The organic cilantro (all they had) from the supermarket was almost entirely black on the back or spotted black. Ick! I hadn’t noticed that when I bought it.

There was enough fresh cilantro to use as a garnish, but I had to use dried instead of fresh in the dish. I had cooked/frozen black beans, they were okay. The burrito bowl recipe is why I cooked and froze them. Will be better in the future when I freeze them in a container holding 1 meal’s worth only. Dealing with the block of frozen, cooked black beans was a pain!

The last of the HM salsa roja from last year went into the burrito bowl, as I didn’t have tomatoes. Also, because of the cilantro situation, I figured the cilantro in the salsa would be good!

I have cooked rice to use up as well as HM flour tortillas.

Wednesday morning I made the corn casserole, we ate it for lunch and snacked on it through the day. We had quesadillas for dinner. Used more of the flour tortillas, and the end of the latest batch of jarred salad.

Thursday We have left overs to eat up for lunch. A few tortillas, some of the burrito bowl, and I’m not sure what else.  I need to cull the veggies today as it’s farm day and a new batch of greens, etc. will be added to the fridge this evening!

I think I’ll make some rice o’brien: rice, butter, onion, and bell pepper and freeze it. The original recipe I’ve got and one I found online both call for black olives, but my husband doesn’t like olives, so I’ll omit them.

I can use all of those ingredients plus some of the pea pods and an egg in fried rice for lunch. I think I also probably have enough cooked rice to do that and put aside a batch of rice o’brien. Nope! We had all the remaining rice in lunch’s fried rice.

For dinner, because DH was baking bread, we opted to have the 2nd loaf’s worth of dough as a pizza blank, topped with the last of the 2019″stewed tomatoes” cooked down, for sauce with parmesan, a small amount of cheddar and jack cheeses.

Friday morning, I took the 1 lb pork roast out of the freezer and made carnitas, using this recipe. The biggest problem with it was that the recipe calls for a 4 lb roast, and mine was 1 lb! My overall conclusion was that the 2nd cooking at the end was probably unnecessary. Next time, we decided I’d make carnitas but only do the 2nd cooking for part of it, so we can decide. It was done cooking sooner than I thought it would be! I used the expensive pork for this, and I probably wouldn’t next time…

I’ve updated the “expensive meat” post, same as on Sunday, above, to reflect the carnitas. We ate 1 meal of it, some of it wound up in the fridge, another portion in the freezer for future use.

Saturday Not sure what we’ll have tonight, probably carnitas and something ? If I follow my menu pattern, we’re supposed to have the remaining meat Sunday, but I doubt it will last that long! We had a salad for lunch, with mozzarella, carnitas, greens and bell pepper, yummy with just salt and pepper.

But we’ll probably have a dinner salad with bits of cheese, some meat (of whatever kind) and odds & ends of veggies from previous weeks, maybe some cheese, if I have any which needs to be used up. I used this idea for lunch. I have no idea what dinner will be!

It was almost identical to lunch. I suggested omlettes to my husband who said, “Meh.” I suggested more salad as an alternative and he said that sounded okay. The end of the carnitas from the fridge were eaten. The salad had everything lunch had, but cheese. I made a lime-cilantro dressing (juice from 1 lime, 10-12 stalks of cilantro, leaves  only, most roughly chopped, about 1 tsp agave to cut the lime juice). We added salt & pepper.

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Photo by Taylor Kiser on Unsplash

Retirement Planning: Using Expensive Meat

I bought that 3 lb pork loin 4/30.  The meat cost $9.99/lb., $1.99/lb over my preferred price of $8 or less.*

I have a cookbook which talks about dividing a 3 lb pork loin into four meals: chops, chow mein, sweet & sour, and a roast.

I cut it into 5. One smallish piece, 3 thick slabs, and a roast. Then I put the pieces into the freezer.

The cost was why I divided it the way I did. Assuming my idea works as planned? It’s 10 portions, or about $2.79 each. If I’d divided it as in my cookbook, it would have been 8 meals, $3.49 per portion.

Tonight’s dinner will be made with the smaller piece I put aside, in pork soup, using this recipe. I don’t have the specified sausage or 5 spice powder, so I’ll modify it, as usual. I do have regular pork sausage, but I’ll make the soup without it. I used a piece of fat from the pork instead of oil to cook the veggies. I’ll add bell pepper and celery leaves from the fridge, stems from the freezer, and whatever else I think it needs for flavoring.

2 p.m.: The soup is asimmer. I’ll add the minced stems, celery leaves, and apple a few minutes before serving.  (The recipe calls for a sour apple and all I have is a sweet one, it seemed it would be better added near the end.)


The soup was good and we have about 1 portion left over.

5/5: We used it for 3 meals. At lunch, we use custard cups for things like soup. When soup is dinner, we use large bowls!

5/10: One of the thick pieces cut into 2 pork chops. Dinner!

5/12: Decided we’d have the 1 lb piece (the roast) as carnitas. I found a recipe for it, but I’ve never made carnitas before, so we’ll see! I’ll put in a link to the recipe when I use it, this coming Friday, along with any comments. The only comment I have now is that the recipe specifies a 4 lb roast and I don’t have one!

5/15: Made the carnitas. Two portions were dinner. What remained was split between the fridge for meals this weekend and the freezer for future use. The cost per portion has been updated to reflect the 2 meals eaten.

5/16: Two portions of shredded meat on salads with a thick slice of mozzarella and red bell pepper shreds. Just needed salt and pepper. Great! There’s a little of what I put in the fridge left, not enough for a meal. Will probably be used as a garnish or such…

It was used on our dinner, which was salad too, the count was updated to reflect two more servings.

5/20: We had one of the slabs, cut into 2 pork chops for dinner with the HM applesauce.


I made a carrot salad, this one, which I didn’t cook as long as specified, my husband doesn’t like cooked carrots. It was very spring-y looking, as the dill looks like carrot tops. It was okay. I added a little agave syrup (about 1 tsp)  and used less onion to suit our tastes. I’ll make this again, but it isn’t the huge hit the jarred salad has been.

(We ate the last of the 2nd batch of jarred salad for lunch. I’m out of cabbage, so I couldn’t make more — I made the carrot salad instead.)


Total cost $27.92.  Portions eaten 2 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 +3

Cost per portion = $13.96 $9.31 $5.58 $3.99 $3.10 $2.54 $2.14 $1.86 $1.55


*My target price of $8/lb for meat is discussed here. My goal is to have the meat in a meal cost $2 or less per portion. My conclusions about this experiment can be found here.

simon-birt-tSruvNOg1j0-unsplashPhoto by Simon Birt on Unsplash

More Waste Avoidance

It occurred to me that I do one thing to avoid food waste you may not? I set up specific locations for foods I should use first. This works best if the contents are reviewed regularly. This also limits the size of the area I have to look in for old, dead food when I’m doing a clean out.

  • I have a “left over” shelf in the fridge. All the leftovers, hopefully labelled, go there. When we’re looking for lunch or fast meals, we check to see what we’ve got? This doesn’t mean we never toss food, just that we toss a lot less than when the container of soup was hiding behind the other food, because it had been put wherever there was room in the fridge. It also makes cleaning the fridge much easier. All the old, cooked food is in one place.
  • When I process in the produce from the farm, it goes on one shelf, the one below the cheese drawer. Before I put anything new on that shelf, all the produce on it is moved down one shelf. Why? I dry the older stuff and try and use the freshest stuff, while it’s fresh.
  • When I use part of a carrot, an onion, celery, etc. The remaining pieces go into one large zip lock bag at the front of the “older produce” shelf. When I need 1 stalk of celery, a little onion, or ? I reach for it. There were parts of 2 bell peppers there this morning, so I decided I’d add bell pepper to my dinner soup, for example.
  • I have a small basket in a cabinet, this holds the onion, potato, shallot, and garlic head which should be used before I go looking for others. Same idea as the bag above, but this is for produce which isn’t refrigerated.
  • I have a box with small jars in it at the back of my cutting board. This is the absolute last bits of beans, dried peas, herbs, or grains. Like the basket and bag in the fridge, the idea is to use these before I go to larger containers of shelf-stable pantry items.

I’ve trained myself to go to these “use this first” locations before I dig into the pantry, root cellar box, or into the freshest produce. It works.

Does this mean we don’t toss food? No. It just means that we toss much less than we used to.


btw: when I went looking for more content to add to this post? I did a google search on “avoiding food waste” and got 410,000,000+ hits. And here I am, making one more!

Links Roundup: Apr – Jun (working)

I will add to this as each month ends. At the beginning of July, when I put in June’s list, I’ll remove the  “(working)” label.

APRIL

MAY

Links Round Up: Jan – Mar

I went back through my posts since the beginning of the year. It seems I’m doing a lot of research and including links in my posts. All of the blog posts or links I’ve pinged back or linked to are given below.

January: None.

February:

March: