Saturday, November 26, 2011

When The Cupboard is Bare: #Lowcarb Challenge Day #2

Counting down the final week of living on whatever is left from previous grocery shopping trips, 5 days to go until pay day, and groceries! (As I posted here, we chose to live this month without doing a typical shopping trip so that we could make a large purchase. The first few weeks weren't too bad as I do tend to stock up on things that are on sale; this final week is getting tougher, and this is day 2 of that final week, and how we are managing.)

Late morning Pete found a package of hot dogs and cooked them on the grill. I had some leftover sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving which I peeled and warmed up in some butter, tossed with cinnamon and SF brown sugar sub. Leelan and Pete ate their hot dogs on their plates, dipped in lowcarb ketchup; I ate mine on the last couple of wraps that I made a few nights ago. The guys also ate most of the sweet potatoes, I had 5 bites because of the carbs. But it was all enough :).

For supper we had an english cut pot roast and, as we frequently do, Pete sliced it across into 2 thin "steaks" which he then grilled. I prepared creamed spinach to go with it (frozen spinach, butter, full-fat cream cheese), and some CarbQuik biscuits to which I added a generous spoonful of french onion dip into the batter...and how delicious was that! (I only ate half of one but it was REALLY good!) It was definitely an adequate dinner, and didn't feel challenging in the least!

As the guys slept this evening, I watched episode 2 of The Buccaneers on Amazon Prime (on the new SmartTV that we bought this month), and made myself some popcorn - heavily buttered of course.

I'm out of half'n'half, and nearly out of decaf coffee - and I don't drink coffee without lots of cream. (I can't take caffeine since I got my wrap nearly a year ago.) So I've been drinking decaf tea mixed with some herbal and flavored blends. I boil water in my 4c Pyrex measuring cup, then steep 4 bags of tea in it. And I mix'n'match the bags that I use. This 4c of tea gives me 3 mugs of tea to drink, and when I'm not drinking coffee I can drink 6 mugs - or 8 actual cups - a day. I will need to buy another box of decaf tea bags I think but they're just 99c at Sav-a-Lot for 24 - MUCH cheaper than another can of decaf coffee so it won't cut too deeply in the $15 I have remaining until Friday. I already have plenty of herbal and flavored teas here to mix with it.

For tomorrow I got out a package of 4 chicken leg quarters. My mother will be visiting, plus with Pete and I and grandson Leelan we will consume 3 of those, with the last one being saved for one of Pete's lunches for work...I will report back tomorrow evening on how the day goes tomorrow :).

So far, so good, I think we're doing great in spite of empty-looking cupboards and freezer!

Friday, November 25, 2011

When The Cupboard is Bare: #Lowcarb Challenge Day #1

So I had some ground sausage - mild - that I fried up and crumbled. It was a 12 oz roll - same price as 16 oz. but they take away 25% and think we won't notice. It cost me a buck during 10/$10 at Sav-a-Lot. Anyway.

Made up a batter with some CarbQuik, some carbalose flour (so it wouldn't be biscuits), milk (yes, I did say I had no milk - but I had water and some dry milk, of which I used about 2-3 Tbsp so we'll call it milk), and an egg. Mixed it well to a thick batter consistency - thin enough to spread, but just barely.

Put the crumbled sausage in the bottom of a 9x9 baking dish, and spread the batter over it. Baked in 350 until the top started to turn golden, I don't recall how long that took. Then I spread part of my last jar of tomato sauce over the top, and sprinkled the last of my shredded mozzarella on it. Back in the oven until the cheese melted and started to color.

It was really delish. Next time I will put more sauce on it. It wasn't dry, in fact it was quite moist, but I just wanted more tomato flavor. There was plenty of flavor from the sausage though, and the batter became fluffy and moist with crispy bits where the sausage fat mixed with batter on the bottom and edges. Quite filling as well which, when we're talking about an empty cupboard challenge, is a good thing! And my husband loved it :).

And so we made it through the day. That was our only real meal. Earlier I had had a piece of balogna between 2 of my flatbreads, with mayo, while Pete was sleeping. But now just 6 more days until payday, and groceries! :)

Our #Lowcarb #Thanksgiving - The Day After

So all my plans for what to prepare went out the window. Except for the duck! I had $20 to spend and most of it went for the bird. Another 99c for a carby can of cranberry sauce (even better with duck than with turkey, IMHO!). Daughter brought sweet potatoes. There were 4 of us: Pete and I, daughter Casey, and her 2½ son Leelan. We'd planned to have my mom also but she didn't want to come at the last minute. (She has Lewy Body Disease and lives at a nearby nursing home.)

After buying the duck and the cranberry sauce I planned to fill in the rest of the meal with whatever we had on hand, which I'd had all figured out for several days. But then Thanksgiving morning, everything changed.

I had looked up instructions on how long to roast a 5½# duck, and learned it would be 4 hours. We'd planned a 12:30 mealtime (so that Casey and Leelan could also go eat with her dad later in the day, otherwise we'd have eaten later). So I got up early and prepared the duck and put it in the oven, setting the wrapper aside in my garbage bowl. I read it a little later, and it said 2½ hours - DARN! Then Leelan got up and started vomiting. Thankfully Pete got home from work, and dealt with all that, but the poor kid was sick over and over and over again...even with Pete taking care of Leelan, that added to the morning chaos. I still had to mop the kitchen and bathroom floors, so I got busy with that. Pete helped with moving things and sweeping since my back was already in bad shape. (Without pain drugs I couldn't have done anything at all yesterday!)

The floors got done, the duck got done WAY early, Casey got here with the sweet potatoes which needed to be baked (I would have had them in the oven with the duck, had my original plan worked out!). The duck sat in its roaster on the stovetop for an hour while I made the dessert and while the sweet potatoes baked. I forgot all about the rolls I'd planned to make, forgot all about the roasted cauliflower, and Casey forgot all about bringing a green vegetable. So I had a half-bag of frozen corn (which I keep for Leelan) that I heated up with butter. And I tossed some frozen green beans into a pan with duck fat and lots of onion powder, some garlic powder, and sea salt. The dessert turned into something much simpler than originally intended: I put a small can of pumpkin, a brick of cream cheese, a package each of SF cheesecake and vanilla pudding, a scoop of vanilla protein powder, a couple cups of cream, some brown sugar sub, and cinnamon/nutmeg/cloves into the mixing bowl of my kitchen aid and hit the switch. 5 minutes later I stuck it in the fridge, and voila! Pumpkin cheesecake pudding!

There were more carbs on the table than I'd planned too. I ate duck, green beans, cranberry sauce (my only carby food for the day, so sue me!), and dessert, and ate pretty much as I always do. It was wonderful to know that I wouldn't wake up the next day fearing the needle on the scale, and that I didn't exchange my thankfulness with gluttony. That felt seriously much better than had I made myself stuffed with gravy and potatoes and dressing and pie!

So did the dinner turn out differently than I expected? Definitely! Was it delicious and even amazing? Absolutely! Was the real meaning of the day - gratitude to God for His many blessings and care for us throughout the year - any less meaningful or evident because of the menu changes? TOTALLY NOT!

It was a good Thanksgiving :).

When The Cupboard is Bare: A #Lowcarb Challenge

Between November and March, we live on a single income. And we do just fine :). This year will be no different, when I look back on it in the spring, despite the present challenge...

When we went over budget to buy our new TV this month, I knew that the grocery stock would suffer, since we can't make cuts from our budget anywhere else. And as I've written in the past, I don't make menus and purchase according to meal plans when I shop; I keep my own stock of food on hand, and depending on what we're in the mood for on any given day, we "go shopping" in our own freezer and cupboards. I'm not talking about stockpiles as seen on Extreme Couponing, but we typically have enough food for at least a month's worth of meals, since I do buy a bunch of meat, frozen vegetables, dairy (cheese or butter, or anything that freezes well) canned goods, etc. when it's on sale. Whatever is on sale when I'm shopping - usually soon after payday - is what we eat the most of that month. (I don't plan my shopping around sales either, I go when we have the money. Although if the funds are available when there's a good sale on something I would use at other times, I will buy as much of it as I can.)

So this month I didn't do my usual big shopping to restock, and I didn't place my usual netrition order for baking supplies either. We put the $ toward our new TV instead, just picking up a little of this and a little of that as needed - a half-gallon of half and half or a pound of butter or whatever. And I spent $19 for Thanksgiving. I figured we'd simply clean up what's left from previous months' shopping this month. I have about $15 left for food between now and next Friday, payday. I don't see this as a hardship though, I see it as a challenge and an opportunity for creativity!

We eat a lot of meals. I typically prepare at least 2 full meals during the day for Pete and I - and grandson Leelan is here at least half the time also to eat with us - plus I make a lunch for Pete to take to work to eat during the night. Depending on when he's awake, he (and Leelan) will usually eat something in the morning after work, and sometimes I join them. Late afternoon is another meal for Leelan and I, and Pete if he's awake - that is our main meal. Leelan, when he's here 4 days a week (or more), requires a snack in between as well, since he's just 2½. (I also buy milk and juice for him but no juice this week.) Then Pete and I have our supper late in the evening, before Pete goes to work...or, if he was awake for the earlier meal, a lunch-sized snack. I can't plan because I never know when Pete will be awake on any given day, but I know I have to have something ready to make (thawed or whatever) to accommodate him. And Leelan, whose schedule isn't the same. And I just eat whenever, with whomever, since my schedule is the most flexible. Most days I don't plan anything for myself, but just wait until the next mealtime comes along, whenever that happens to be.

So far it's been going fine, and now we're coming down to the wire! Now is the time I need to get creative. We have a few 2-2½ bags of frozen vegetables, a couple of pounds of ground sausage, one pot roast, one steak, about 4-5 chicken leg quarters, and a few canned vegetables left. Pretty much out of decaf coffee (what I drink - hubby has enough regular for himself, I'll be drinking tea instead this week), half'n'half/cream/milk, most cheeses, bread-making supplies (I may be able eke out one more loaf this week for Pete's lunches). Down to our last dozen eggs, too. But this is the kind of thing I love, this type of challenge! I think I'll be able to feed us for another week, we may have some strange meals but we'll get through :). And I'll let you know how we do at the end. My $15 will probably buy us more eggs, some more tea (only 99c for that), and some whole milk - cheaper than cream or half'n'half plus Leelan can drink it - for using in other dishes as I figure them out.

WOOHOO, off to the races! :)