We are into Week Three now of the Eat from the Pantry Challenge, as well as of my renewed commitment to menu planning. And, I must say, it is testing my ability to stay disciplined, both at the check-out counter and in the kitchen. This week, I know will be particularly challenging. With Nina’s pre-op and surgery, a prenatal appointment for me and a possible deployment to Haiti for Mike, in addition to all our regular work and life commitments, I know I will be extremely tempted to stock up on “convenience” foods or grab meals out. Regardless, I am going to try to keep us somewhere within budget and as-scratch as possible, while focusing on Latin-American and Dominican inspired meals since we will be spotlighting the Gift of Gracias as our book study this week in honor of Our Lady of Altagracia, the patron saint of the Dominican Republic, whose feast day is January 21.
So, here’s the menu plan for this week:
Monday: Latin-American Inspired Burritos— made from drained, leftover black bean soup, sautéed onion and pepper mix, cheese and wraps – and Rice, along with Avocado-Pasta Salad
Wednesday: Build-A-Mini-Taco-Bite-Night – chips, cheese, sauce, leftover beans, vegetables, homemade yogurt in lieu of sour cream, etc. (Okay, so these are more Mexican-American inspired than Dominican, but the kids love them and they’ll be easy for Mike to deal with when I am at work)
Thursday: Luke at Grammy and Grampy’s; Pan de Coco with Toppings, Sides and Leftovers from the fridge and/or Scrambled Eggs (an easy meal for Mike and Nina while I am at work)
Friday: Luke at Grammy and Grampy’s, Mike and I will have a quick bite at the hospital or brown bag leftovers/sandwiches after Nina’s surgery
Saturday: TBD, based on how Nina is doing in recovery from surgery – maybe just take-out or brown-bag sandwiches at the hospital or a meal at Mom and Dad’s
Power Food of the Week: Oranges! We will be celebrating Our Lady of Altagracia all week in honor of her feast day on the 21st. A wonderful picture book we took out from the library about her, The Gift of Gracias, recounts a legend of how Our Lady helped a family save their farm through an abundant orange harvest. Inspired by this, the kids and I will be exploring how we might add a few more orange recipes to our diets, juicing, baking and making a variety of tasty treats.
Breakfast 1 Choices: (We try to start our day with a drink, a vitamin and some sort of fruit or vegetable.) The kids have been pretty whole-heartedly refusing fruits and veggies in the morning, so I have been resorting to “hiding” them in waffles, baked goods, etc. This week, I want to get the kids at least eating or drinking their produce in some recognizable form again, so we are going to concentrate on apple sauce (a favorite and easily digestible for after Nina’s surgery!), white grape juice, (again– the surgery!), fresh squeezed orange juice, clementine/orange wedges, apples and whatever other fruits we have left in the fridge and pantry.
Breakfast 2 Choices: (After our fruits and veggies digest, we like to have a heartier, starchier meal to give us energy for the day.) waffles, atole, oatmeal and maybe some convenient, on-sale organic chocolate crispies for the mornings we need to rush! (The kids cannot get enough of waffles lately, so I’ve been adapting a basic recipe to include pureed zucchini, pineapple, pears, apples, bananas, etc. This week, of course, we will be trying orange waffles!)
Daddy’s At-Work Lunch Choices: (We try to concentrate on proteins at lunch to rebuild muscles.) leftover meat lasagna from the study Mike’s involved with at work, alternating with tuna and various sides of rice, grains, leftover vegetables, etc. (I am not planning much for Mike’s lunches this week as he will likely be deployed to Haiti.)
At-Home Lunch Choices: (Ditto the protein.) Because we will actually be out a lot this week during lunch, we’re going with lots of pb, almond butter and cheese wraps and sandwiches – all easy to eat during car picnics while out doing errands. Rice and edamame and quick bites from the fridge and pantry will be on the menu for when we are home
Snack, Tea Time, Treats and Dessert Choices: orange-based delights in honor of Our Lady of Altagracia, homemade yogurt and toppings, coconut biscuits, homemade cookies, cheese, chips, nuts, leftovers and quick bites from the pantry and fridge, etc.
Hoorahs first: Because I have a $75 limit in mind, I was “strong” enough to put back some items at the register when it came time to check out during a shopping trip this week. I also got creative in the kitchen when poor planning or changes in plans prevented me from serving up the items on our planned menu.
I went over our $75 limit again this week, and, this time, not by just a few cents in order to buy eggs from a local farmer. Rather, we went over by several dollars (the exact amount of which I will be happy to update once I uncover my receipts from the pile of paperwork I have yet to get through this week.) But, it was all for love, which I say is okay.
Love, you say? Indeed! Mike mentioned that he missed cereal for breakfast, so, when I saw some organic chocolate crispies at the store for a mere $2, I could not resist getting some as a little gesture of Hubby love. Not to mention, the kids and I love chocolate, too. Thus, I admit, I am sometimes failing on my Goal 2. Some of our meals — like chocolate crispies for breakfast – are more new-item based than developed from what we already have on hand. Increments towards improvement, though, that’s the aim, right???
So, looking ahead to next week? Hopefully, discipline will be ample and the menu? Well, I am not sure yet, but I would welcome recipes and ideas for chopped frozen cabbage and stored potatoes – preferably vegetarian, kid-friendly ones! We have lots of these items on hand!
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