Potato Leek Stoup

This is probably my most requested recipe. It’s my husband’s favorite, my brother-in-law’s favorite, my mom’s favorite… pretty much everyone who eats my food always wants this recipe.

I’ve done different variations over the last three years but this is by far the best way to do it. Perfect for a rainy day dinner, this recipe is particularly filling for a “soup” and is very affordable to make.

Potato Leek Stoup

Comfortably served 7 people (2 teenage boys and two large men included)

 

You Will Need:

1 tbsp butter

1 bundle leeks, white parts, thinly sliced (about 3 cups sliced)

1 rib of celery

1 tbsp salt + more to taste

1 lbs thick cut smoked bacon, sliced width-wise (pork jowl is a good substitute, and ends and pieces bacon is a budget friendly change that still tastes damn good)

Pepper to taste

3 lbs potatoes, un-peeled and cubed

4 cups water

2 beef bouillon cubes (or sub 2 cups of water for 2 cups of beef broth)

2 cups whole milk

 

Note: if you like crispy bacon cook the bacon in the pot first, scoop it out with a slotted spoon and let crisp on a paper towel. DO NOT drain the grease – add the butter and leeks straight to it and follow instructions from there.

 

To Prepare:

  1. In a soup pot melt butter over medium heat. Add sliced leeks, celery and salt generously (about 1 tbsp). Stir until coated in butter.
  2. Toss in bacon and a pinch of pepper. cook until leeks are translucent, stirring frequently. The bacon should also be cooked thoroughly at this point but not necessarily crispy.
  3. Add potatoes, bouillon and water to pot. Mix. Bring to a boil.
  4. Cover and reduce to a low heat. Let simmer for 10-30 minutes (depends on how small your potatoes are cut – 20 minutes is usually perfect).
  5. Remove from heat. Add milk, salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with crusty baguettes for an authentic French dish. If you reserved the bacon for crispness, sprinkle it on top before serving.

 

This would taste very good with a German beer if you don’t mind disgracing the French history of the recipe 😉

$50 Meal Plan #2

*UPDATE: This was originally posted in January on the old blog*

A meal plan, if it’s going to work, isn’t broken down into weekly measured portions and their associated costs. It’s a mix of this week’s purchases, what’s in your pantry, gifts and ground-scores.

So, following this format, I’m pitching in my budget. I spend $50-$75 a week on me and my husband (plus the weekly family dinner of 6 people, my younger siblings’ weekly visit, and all of the friends that come and devour my muffins. Every. Freaking. Day.)

But we have no other sources of food beyond our budget. No garden, herbs in the window sill – nothing. I use coupons sparingly – the store ad for wherever I’m shopping and coupons.com. Nothing complex. About 10 minutes a week and I save about $5 each shopping trip.

This hasn’t been the healthiest week for us. I’ve been working late nights so when I come home dinner is the last thing I want to do, and I can’t prep it in the morning because I’m doing homework in the mornings.

 

This week we bought:

Boneless skinless chicken breast (4 lbs.), ground turkey (2lbs.), mushroom-chicken sausage (1lbs.), beef ramen, coffee creamer, kale, lettuce, green onions, asparagus, bananas, 3lbs. bag of onions, yogurt, 2 boxes of cereal, and 1 jar of pasta sauce.

Meal-share Benefits with Family: 1 whole turkey and 3 goose eggs. My husband’s boss cleaned out his freezer.

From the Garden (and some Foraging): Morel mushrooms(!!) and dandelion greens from our yard (because I know they weren’t sprayed).

 

Breakfast Options:

Yogurt and granola

Frogs in a Hole

Oatmeal

 

Lunch Options:

Vegan Chili Verde

Cornbread

Turkey wraps

Sausage pasta with spinach (sausage+pasta+spinach+milk)

Leftovers

 

Snack Options:

Crackers

Granola bars

Fresh fruit

Crunchy roasted chickpeas

Quesadillas

Green salad

Pickled eggs (just throw boiled eggs in an empty pickle jar with leftover juice. One batch per pickle jar – refrigerate please)

French bread (homemade) and butter

Peanut butter edible cookie dough

Tea

Hot Cocoa

 

Dinner Menu:

Thursday  – Chicken curry with brown rice

Friday – Enchiladas

Saturday – Turkey and kale soup

Sunday – Ground beef ramen (ground beef+ramen+green onions) and salad

Monday – Turkey gravy over potatoes

Tuesday – Steak, garlic creamed pasta and asparagus

Wednesday – Turkey meatballs with marinara and fresh bread

 

Meal Prepping I did this week:

These foods were prepared over the course of the weekend. Some was stashed away for later and some was consumed this week.

  • 3 loaves of french bread
  • Turkey meatballs
  • 2 cups brown rice

This week’s total spent: $46.00 

 

How do you spend your grocery budget?

Meal Prep: Breakfast Jars 2 Ways

Not everyone has the time for a serious meal prep session. A great alternative I’ve found is when I make the time to cook a real breakfast I just make doubles – I set the uneaten portion aside for tomorrow or later in the week. Some things, like pancakes, can be frozen. If you don’t mind eating the same thing a lot you could make a whole week of breakfasts with just one morning and one recipe.

Below are two of my favorite breakfast prep recipes, husband approved!

Peaches and cream oatmeal

Makes 4 jars:

1 29oz can peaches (I used canned in syrup; if you don’t you might need to add more sweetener) – save the juices

2 cups of heavy cream or cashew milk/coconut cream

2 cups of rolled oats

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tsp ginger (ground)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup honey or 1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp butter or coconut oil

Preparation:

You’ll notice there’s a lot of choices on the ingredients. You can make these clean and vegan or cheap and wholesome. Or just make use of what you have on hand. I like to keep my food flexible because my cupboards never quite look the same.

In a saucepan bring milk and a pinch of salt to a quick boil. Toss in oats immediately and remove from heat.

In a small saucepan pour whole can of peaches, juices and all, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and butter. Cook on medium high until it starts to form a sweet, thick syrup. Taste – it should be a little bit too sweet and strong. Remove from heat. Stir in cooked oats and vanilla extract.

Eat and Store:

Separate into four jars while still hot. Refrigerate immediately until ready to eat – or eat it hot.

 

Blueberry Banana Parfaits

Makes 4:

24oz blueberry greek yogurt

1 cup cranberry-almond granola (or your favorite)

1 cup blueberries, fresh

2 bananas, cut into cubes

Preparation:

Layer ingredients equally among 4 jars. I suggest starting with a granola layer but that’s just because I like my granola soft.

If you want your granola crunchy, layer the yogurt on the bottom, the banana chunks, the blueberries, then the granola.

Eat and Store:

Refrigerate until ready to eat.

For a lower calorie/carbohydrate version:

To save on calories, use plain yogurt and replace the granola with a muesli blend.

I hope you enjoy these recipes. What’s your favorite breakfast on the go?

Roasted Maple Pecan Granola

maple pecan granolaNote: This was originally posted in 2013 on the first website. This is still one of my favorite recipes, and yes, it was my first recipe ever published. That was the good old days when I was still learning how to cook – I couldn’t even make an omelet!

Hi, guys. Yesterday was awesome, in a crazy sort of way. This week I’ve made chicken noodle soup completely from scratch, and hot cocoa with whipped cream. Last night I turned out two different batches of granola, and some lovely yogurt.

I’ve got a treat for you today: my very first recipe (that I’ve shared with the public)! It’s based off of Alana‘s book The Homemade Pantry, but I’ve changed it around a bit. I highly recommend the book. It’s awesome.

This is a very sweet granola. If you want a little less sugar, just add about 1/2 cup less syrup. If you only have one rimmed baking sheet, halve this recipe and you’ll be fine. Also, given the amount of time this takes, I suggest making it in the morning, or leaving it to cool in the oven overnight.

Now for the granola…

You will need:

  • 10 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 rounded tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup (or more maple syrup)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (the real stuff is best)

Prepwork:

Preheat oven to 250 F. Put oven racks in top 2/3 of oven. Chop nuts.  

Mix:

Combine the oats, pecans, salt and cinnamon in a really big bowl. Mix thoroughly. In a separate, 4-cup bowl whisk together oil, syrup and vanilla extract until uniform. Pour syrup mixture into the oats mixture, and stir until everything’s coated. Don’t leave any dry or wet pockets.  

Bake:

Line two (or one, if you’re doing half a batch) 18 x 13″ rimmed baking sheets with wax or parchment paper. Spread the granola evenly on the pans. Put the pans in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Take pans out, shuffle/stir granola, turn pan, and put back in oven for another 30 minutes. Take out the granola again, stir it, and put it back in the oven, but turn the oven off. Let granola cool for at least 6 hours or overnight in your oven (but leave the oven off).

Enjoy:

After your granola is done cooling, package some up and share it with your neighbors. Put the rest in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place. Raisins or chocolate chips can be added, if you like. Have it in your yogurt, or with milk. This makes a great breakfast cereal. 

What was your first original recipe?

Preparing for Parenthood: The Zero Waste Baby

Zero Waste Baby NeedsI’m having a baby in December, and as our lifestyle has transitioned to zero waste and minimalist living, it’s just as important for that lifestyle to continue with us as our family changes. This is my first child, but I cared for my younger siblings for years as well as did daycare for a variety of families.

There are lots of cool gadgets out there for babies and young children. But very little of it is necessary, and some of it is straight up ridiculous.

Given my family’s tight budget and our commitment to reduce consumption in all areas of our lives, we’re sticking with the minimum. Lots of this has been gifted to us by family and upon our baby shower we’re probably going to receive more. I’ve also perused Facebook classifieds, craigslist and Freecycle for many free items. I encourage you to do this if you have the time or if you’re on a tight budget.

Household Changes

  • Water filter for sink
  • Filtering shower head and bath faucet
  • Waterproof mattress cover (for my mattress)
  • Cotton sheets (for my mattress)
  • Outlet covers
  • Dog bed (because we’re co-sleeping in the beginning and the dog can’t sleep on the bed anymore…)
  • CO and radon detector
  • Fabric shower curtain
  • If you haven’t already switched, get all the plastic out of your kitchen and switch to:
    • Bamboo cutting boards
    • Cast iron or 304 Steel cookware
    • Ceramic or cast iron bakeware

Baby Bedding

  • Crib or convertible bassinet (Convertible is better!!) with matress
  • Cotton sheets for crib (x2)
  • Homemade crib quilt
  • Light receiving blankets (x4)

Bathtime

  • Cotton undyed towels (x2)
  • Cotton undyed wash cloths (x8)
  • Baby grooming kit
    • Soft hair brush
    • Infant nail clippers
    • Snot sucker
  • Baby mild castille soap
  • Gentle baby lotion (you can make your own if you’re ambitious)

Diaper Changing

  • 20 cloth diapers
  • Homemade diaper rash balm
  • Diaper pins (steel; x4 sets)
  • Reuseable wipes, in a homemade solution, in a reuseable container
  • Waterproof diaper covers (x8)
  • Dirty diaper container and reusable liner (x2)

Clothes

  • Onesies (x16)
  • Socks or booties (x8)
  • Coming home outfit <3
  • Swimsuit
  • Scratch-proof mittens
  • A hat
  • leggings/pants (x16)
  • Pajamas (Light; x8)
  • Pajamas (Heavy; x8)
  • Swaddle wrap (x2)
  • Dirty clothes hamper

Feeding

  • Burp clothes (x8)
  • Glass bottles (x3)
  • Bottle brush
  • Breast pump
  • Freezer storage for pumped milk
  • Bibs (x3)
  • Highchair or seat with support

Misc. Needs

  • Moby wrap carrier (make this myself)
  • Stroller
  • Car seat
  • “Diaper Bag” (A bag that accommodates my normal purse items and baby needs when travelling)
  • Baby thermometer (I suggest the pacifier ones)
  • Baby book (if you’re nerdy like that…)
  • Developmentally appropriate toys (not very many are necessary – my niece’s favorite toy is a red rubber spatula)
  • Books (because even infants enjoy stories)
  • Baby monitor (for when you’re getting it on in the living room while the baby snoozes 😉 )

Parent Needs

  • Nursing bras (x8)
  • Nursing cover (make this myself)
  • Reuseable nursing pads (x16)
  • Scheduled dates (and gift cards if you can afford it) for after baby

I hope this was helpful! If I’ve left anything out, please let me know. Also it’s worth mentioning that I won’t be stocking up ahead of time on clothing and we have a washer and dryer. If you don’t have access to a washer and dryer and aren’t planning on hand-washing poopy diapers this list might be very different for you.

What did you need for your first baby?

Preserving Fresh Garlic

Fresh garlic

Note: This post was originally published, on the previous website, in 2013.

I recently found myself with a fairly large amount of fresh garlic and realized that it wouldn’t last long enough for me to use all of it. I quite often buy garlic, dried, from the grocery store but I’ve never dealt with fresh garlic. And let me tell you, the smell alone of fresh garlic is simply sublime. But the taste… ooh baby~

So I’ve got a whole bunch of delicious, local, organic garlic and I don’t want it to go bad. The logical solution? Preserve it. Dry it, in this case.

Here’s how you can dry your own fresh garlic (from your own garden or the farmers market) yourself. It’s ridiculously easy. See how short this post is?

  1. Take a bunch of fresh garlic.
  2. Tie it up and hang it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Pantries are great for this.
  3. Let the garlic bundle dry there for a couple weeks (elephant garlic needs four weeks or more).
  4. When it’s dry store it in a cool, dry place. I keep mine in a basket on the counter (away from the stove). It’ll keep like that for months. Don’t put it in sunlight unless you want it to sprout.
  5. If your garlic does end up sprouting, plant it!

I think this is one of my favorite parts of gardening: preserving the harvest. It reminds me of Under the Tuscan Sun

 

$50 Meal Plan: Week One

This week we’re eating…

Dinner:
Monday – Chicken-pesto pasta.
Tuesday – Oven roasted chicken with stuffing and peas.
Wednesday – Baked sausage dogs with sauerkraut and baked asparagus.
Thursday – Dairy-free bacon and onion fritatta (easier/quicker than a quiche).
Friday – Grilled ham sandwiches on rye with caramelized onions and baked carrot fries (mine will be dairy-free).
Saturday – Zupa Toscana soup (just like olive gardens; so freaking amazing).

Lunch: Burritos, ham sandwiches, and baked potatoes. Yum.

Breakfast: Muffins and apples; yogurt and bananas; cereal.

Snacks: Crackers, peaches, bananas, mandarin oranges, carrots, cucumber slices, pickles, yogurt and granola, juice, coffee and tea.

I bought over two week’s worth of groceries this time at an awesome new discount store I hadn’t been to and over-shopped a little. I spent ~$109 (without any coupons!).

Items Purchased: Tortillas (40 ct.), 3 boxes of crackers, 1 whole chicken, red wine vinegar, 2 lbs. Of butter, garlic salt, dairy-free chocolate muffins, cranberry juice, apple juice, granola bars (48 ct), olive oil, spam, 3 jars of peaches, 3 lbs. Of organic yams, dairy-free non-hydrogenated butter spread, 2 lbs of bratwurst, 1 lbs. Of sliced ham, 2 boxes of organic pasta, 1 32 oz jar of mini pickles, sauerkraut in a jar, hot dog buns, 3 lbs. Of mini avocados, 1 lbs. Of baby spinach, 1 lbs. Of chopped kale, 1 lbs. Raw sunflower seeds, half gallon cashew milk, 1 lbs. Of Italian sausage, 2 lbs. Smoked sausages, almond yogurt (dairy free), 2 dairy-free almond coffee creamers, 1 cucumber, 1 bundle of asparagus, 1 lbs. Brown rice, 1 bottle watermelon juice, 3 lbs. Mandarin oranges, 3 lbs. Bananas, 4 lbs. Unbleached cane sugar, 5 lbs. Carrots.

Meal Prep

I ventured way out of my comfort zone with meal prep this week. But I’m really enjoying what I did.

I have 6 days of breakfast – 6 dairy-free chocolate muffins and 6 baggies of apple slices.

6 days of lunch – 4 sweet potato chipotle burritos (vegan), 1 sweet potato bowl with asparagus, and I’ve got a random ham sandwich – because meal prep doesn’t have to be perfect 🙂

On that ham sandwich is homemade sprouted lentils! These were so exciting. A little more time consuming, because I had to rinse them every day (and actually remember they existed) but they were so worth it. Sprouted lentils are like a nutritional bomb, and it cost me $0.15 to make 2 cups worth (about $3 at the grocery store).

Joseph doesn’t work this week so he gets to eat leftovers and ramen (his own choice, mind you).

I would have packed more except I had to throw out most of my Tupperware. So I’ve got like 2 jars and a bento box to my name right now. I bought some jarred peaches though so my jar collection will swing back up quite nicely here shortly.

On a side note, I’m proud to announce I’ve started transitioning to dairy-free. My husband, Joseph, will still have milk with his cereal. But everything else is leaving, unfortunately even the butter for now. I’m hoping to bring it back but I’m slowly eliminating things as I figure out all of my food allergies.

I have really severe eczema and so to isolate the causes of these rashes every two week’s I’m eliminating one potential irritant. I’ve eliminated soda already – which I must say I feel wonderful now and my skin improved within 3 DAYS. But I still have a full rash on my face. Dairy is going to take me at least two week’s before it’s even out of my house, because I refuse to throw food away and I can’t afford to give it away. So next up in May I will be removing soy products (which includes vegetable oil).

I’m also trying to get pregnant so any potential environmental dangers are slowly being removed. As I do my research and eliminate things I’ll post about this as well.

Oh, it’s going to be an adventure.

How are you making your meals healthier?

$75 Meal Plan: Week Two

$75 Weekly Meal Plans; Week 2

*UPDATE: This was originally posted in January on the old blog*

A meal plan, if it’s going to work, isn’t broken down into weekly measured portions and their associated costs. It’s a mix of this week’s purchases, what’s in your pantry, gifts and ground-scores.

Because let’s be honest – $75 worth of food consumed is drastically different than spending $75 in a week. What if you have a garden? Chickens? A neighbor who brings you dinner on Sundays?

So, because meal planning is meant to be flexible, I’m pitching in my budget as a source of inspiration. I spend $50-$75 a week on me and my husband (plus the weekly family dinner of 6 people, my younger siblings’ weekly visit, and all of the friends that come and devour my muffins. Every. Freaking. Day.) Oh and the roommate who we sometimes share food with. And this includes ingredients for homemade dog food.

But we personally have no other sources of food beyond our budget at the moment. No garden, herbs in the window sill – nothing. I use coupons sparingly – the store ad for wherever I’m shopping and coupons.com. Nothing complex. About 10 minutes a week and I save about $5 each shopping trip.




 

This week we bought:

Dried black beans, eggs, yellow onions, milk, potatoes, ramen, asparagus, bananas, coffee creamer, steak (on sale), pork chops (on sale), ranch and ground coffee.

 

Breakfast Options:

Eggs and fruit

Oatmeal

 

Lunch Options:

Lunch is primarily leftovers

PB&J and boiled eggs

Ramen

 

Snack Options:

Pickled eggs (just throw boiled eggs in an empty pickle jar with leftover juice. One batch per pickle jar.)

French bread (homemade) and butter

Peanut butter edible cookie dough

Tea

Hot Cocoa

Coffee




 

Dinner Menu:

Thursday

Pork chops and zucchini-dill pasta.

Friday

We had the weekly family dinner – it’s not our turn yet to cook. On average we cook once a month for this and spend $10-$15 just on this meal because there’s 6-10 adults plus a handful of kids.

Saturday

Steak and mashed potatoes (mash with leftover water from cooking, not milk, to save some pennies) with green beans.

Sunday

Chicken and asparagus over buttered noodles.

Monday

Potato-leek soup (broth made from pork bones and vegetable scraps).

Tuesday

Chorizo and black bean pasta.

Wednesday

Enchilada rice casserole. With this homemade enchilada sauce.

 

Meal Prepping I did this week:

These foods were prepared over the course of the weekend. Some was stashed away for later and some was consumed this week.

  • 3 loaves of french bread
  • 2 quarts of pork bone soup stock
  • Meal-sized portions of meat
  • Homemade enchilada sauce

This week’s total spent: $58.09

 

How do you make your budget food-friendly?

$75 Meal Plan: Week One

The $75 Meal Plan Week #1

The $75 Meal Plan Week #1

*UPDATE: This was originally posted in January on the old blog*

A meal plan, if it’s going to work, isn’t broken down into weekly measured portions and their associated costs. It’s a mix of this week’s purchases, what’s in your pantry, gifts and ground-scores.

So, following this format, I’m pitching in my budget. I spend $50-$75 a week on me and my husband (plus the weekly family dinner of 6 people, my younger siblings’ weekly visit, and all of the friends that come and devour my muffins. Every. Freaking. Day.)

But we have no other sources of food beyond our budget. No garden, herbs in the window sill – nothing. I use coupons sparingly – the store ad for wherever I’m shopping and coupons.com. Nothing complex. About 10 minutes a week and I save about $5 each shopping trip.




 

This week we bought:

Breakfast cereal, powdered sugar, brown sugar, canned green chilles, 1 jar of Alfredo sauce, ramen, chamomile tea, raspberry tea, butter, frozen broccoli, whole milk, organic coconut milk, Italian sausages, liquid smoke, garbanzo beans, “amish” popcorn kernels (an heirloom variety that’s rainbow), rolled oats, 2 whole chickens, bananas, red grapes, grapefruit and ginger.

 

Breakfast Options:

Beet-Carrot-Ginger Juice

Apple banana smoothies

Apple cinnamon muffins

Cereal

Spinach scrambled eggs

 

Lunch Options:

Leftovers, primarily

Scallion pancakes with rice and pork

Ramen

 

Snack Options:

Chipotle-roasted sprouted chickpeas (sprouted totally on accident… whoops.)

Apple cinnamon muffins

Pickled eggs (just throw boiled eggs in an empty pickle jar with leftover juice. One batch per pickle jar.)

French bread (homemade) and butter

Peanut butter edible cookie dough

Tea

Hot Cocoa

“Instant” lemonade




Dinner Menu:

Thursday

I didn’t get off work until midnight so we had easy burritos with pre-cooked taco meat from the freezer, cheese, onions and pinto beans.

Friday

We had the weekly family dinner – it’s not our turn yet to cook. On average we cook once a month for this and spend $10-$15 just on this meal because there’s 6-10 adults plus a handful of kids.

Saturday

I introduced my husband to onigiri. Specifically, we had it stuffed with pork and broccoli and mine had yummy ginger glazed salmon. I did a lot of meal-prep Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday

Clam chowder.

Monday

Chicken Alfredo with garlic bread and broccoli

Tuesday

Green chille burritos with refried beans, cheese and rice.

Wednesday

Leftover Soup.

 

Meal Prepping I did this week:

These foods were prepared over the course of the weekend. Some was stashed away for later and some was consumed this week.

  • Sprouted and roasted chickpeas.
  • 2 shredded whole chickens – produced 10 meals’ worth (cost me $10)
  • 3 loaves of french bread (cost me $1.50 to make)
  • 24 apple cinnamon muffins ($4 for the whole batch)
  • 3 cups of plain white rice
  • 2 quarts chicken broth (free, from the leftover chicken carcasses!)
  • 6 cups refried beans (not actually fried – done in the slowcooker)
  • 3 frozen “microwave” burritos for busy days
  • Beet-Carrot-Ginger juice (2 quarts’ worth)

 

This week’s total spent: $74.39

 

How do you make your meal plan work?