On Friday night, dinner was mushroom and barley soup, homemade in the crockpot. I’ve been on the hunt for quite some time for the perfect recipe for this soup. Bingo! I found it. The recipe I used is the Moosewood vegetarian restaurant’s version (found here online,) although I skipped the whole part about following directions and just threw all the ingredients into my crockpot. It was incredible. Some of the best soup I’ve had in a while- flavorful and hearty, perfect for the beginning of fall. Forgive me because I keep forgetting to take pictures until the food is leftovers, so it probably doesn’t look quite as nice!
Saturday Grace and I were on our own for most of the day because Liesbeth was off coaching volleyball in a neighboring town. I had a bagel with cream cheese and grapes for breakfast and leftover mushroom and barley soup for lunch. Grace had the same- she usually eats a portion of whatever the grownups are eating- along with about a gallon of breast milk. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Might I just say, though, that breast milk is the ultimate free food? Liesbeth presumably ate cereal or a bagel for breakfast. For dinner, I threw together a quinoa salad with a mix of red and white quinoa, frozen peas and corn, fresh parsley, tomato, avocado, and sunflower seeds with a lemon and red wine vinaigrette. Also, fresh fruit (chopped pear, grapes, and raspberries.) Deeeelicious. After Grace went to bed, our brother and sister in law came over to babysit and Liesbeth and I had our monthly date night. We shared a plate of fries and each had a beer. Although our date night was budgeted for separately, we went over by $2 which cut into our grocery allotment. Worth it though! There’s not much to do in this little town, especially when it’s cold outside as it was on Saturday, so date nights almost always involve spending money. I’m not, however, willing to give up our time to connect, get out of the house, and have grownup time.
Sunday we ate breakfast as a family- oatmeal with raisins, dried cranberries, and chopped home-dried apples. Our friend came over for lunch and we had a leftovers smorgasbord- quinoa salad, mushroom and barley soup, and some leftover vegetarian hamburger helper from last week. (Really healthy, I know!) I drank some Bolthouse Farms juice that we bought two-for-one last week and have been slowly nursing ever since. Even on sale half off it’s a splurge for us, so I will be saying goodbye to the delicious juice this month! Dinner was a tofu and veggie stirfry with a peanut coconut lime sauce. I used up one carrot, two stalks of celery, and half of our broccoli for the stirfry which means there is still plenty of carrots and celery left as well as the other half of the fresh broccoli. Also, I only used 2/3 of the can of coconut milk in the sauce, so I put the rest in the freezer for some unknown use one day. In the evening, brother and sister in law came over to play games and enjoy apple pie (made by Liesbeth with our free apples) and wine (which they brought over.) A lovely little indulgence.
Monday was a typical weekday. I’m not going to detail everything that we eat on a normal day, but generally it’s leftovers. Dinner was quick since we were in a hurry, and grilled cheese and tomato soup was perfect. We also had salads and Liesbeth informed me that she is no longer using lettuce on her sandwiches at lunch since she’s toasting them on the borrowed panini press at work. So we’ll definitely be eating more salads that I had planned on, which is great! One thing that I was not going to do this month was buy outside of my planned shopping list… and I broke that rule already, but for a good cause. There were two items that I was not able to get during my first shopping trip and I had to go to a different store to find them. While there, I noticed a ton of bread and bagels on “Manager’s Special” for $0.50 and $0.75 each. This is much more inexpensive than any store bought bread is regularly and it’s also cheaper than my homemade bread. We like to have a little bit of premade bread in the freezer in case I don’t have time to make it fresh sometimes. Needless to say, I bought all of it, but at less than $5.00 for six loaves of whole grain bread and three packages of bagels, it was definitely worth veering from my shopping list. Overall, this shopping trip cost us $10.
Tuesday’s dinner was quick and easy again- spaghetti with homemade pesto made from basil we grew in our garden last summer. A little fresh parmesan cheese, some frozen green beans, and cottage cheese for protein, and we had dinner. Preserving homegrown or inexpensive local produce and herbs can go a long way for saving money! We are still eating garden pesto and shredded zucchini from last year’s garden, canned apricots from our friends’ tree last year, and applesauce from last year’s free apple harvest. Actually, I’m sure those frozen foods need to get used up, so we’ll keep working on it this month!
On Wednesday it was breakfast as usual (still working on those yummy bagels in the freezer!) In the morning I also baked up a bunch of potatoes. Potatoes are cheap and filling and make a great quick lunch, especially if topped with veggies, cheese, or nutritional yeast. In fact, that is exactly what I ate for lunch. Dinner was falafel burgers from our freezer. I made up a batch of these a couple of weeks ago using a recipe out of one of the Moosewood restaurant cookbooks. Burgers are great to keep on hand for a quick-but-hearty meal on the go. Just pop the frozen patty in the oven and you’re set. We had ours on buns with lettuce and feta cheese (another Manager’s Special bargain from a week ago. We also had nutritional yeast roasted broccoli using the other half of our broccoli head. Super easy: Cut broccoli into florets, coat with olive oil and nutritional yeast to taste, roast in the oven for about 15 minutes. SO GOOD.
Here is the Moosewood falafel burger recipe:
- 1 cup diced onion
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup diced red bell peppers
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- pinch of cayenne, or to taste
- 12 oz firm tofu, pressed and crumbled
- 1.5 cups cooked chick peas (15-oz can, drained)
- 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp dark sesame oil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 350. Oil a baking sheet.
Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add peppers, turmeric, coriander and cayenne and sauté for 5 minutes more.
While the veggies cook, combine tofu, chick peas, lemon juice, soy sauce and sesame oil in food processor until well combined but not a paste.
Transfer tofu mixture to a large bowl. Stir in veggie mixture, parsley, tahini, bread crumbs and salt, until uniform.
Shape into 8 patties, using about 1/2 cup mixture per patty. Bake for 30 minutes until golden, juicy and firm.
On Thursday, dinner was tofu with nutritional yeast, baked potatoes, and sauteed frozen spinach with garlic and lemon. Simple, easy, healthy meal! Here’s how you make the tofu: Cut tofu into 1cm cubes. Throw into a hot pan with olive oil and saute until most of the water has evaporated. Douse with soy sauce until the cubes look lightly brown. Continue sauteeing until the sides of the tofu look caramelized and are brown in spots. Turn off heat, throw on enough nutritional yeast to coat tofu. Done! This is Liesbeth’s favorite way for me to make tofu. As you can see, we get pretty busy in the evenings (since we both get home from work/coaching at about 6 and Grace’s bedtime is between 7 and 7:30.) Quick, easy, healthy meals are important to us!