Archive for September, 2011

I have an embarrassing confession: I spent an outrageous amount of money on groceries this summer. At the time, I *thought* I was being budget-conscious but looking back at the pile of grocery receipts…I was totally wrong. Oops.

Now that summer is over, I have devised a new plan of attack for saving money on a weekly basis.  I’ve decided to challenge myself to use 1 whole chicken to feed our family for a whole work week (5 days). This is also one of the many steps I am taking to *start* wasting less food.

First, I bought an organic, free range, pre-packaged bird from our local co-op. It was about 4 pounds; or $18 worth of tasty chicken-y goodness. I’m sure some of you are astonished by that number, but remember: we’re getting 5 meals for a little less than $4 a meal (to feed 2.5 people). Not too shabby.

I try to only buy organic meat because I want to make sure my family isn’t consuming unsafe chemicals, antibiotics or even potential diseases. Typically, free range chickens are healthier birds too (and the thought of eating a sick chicken is just gross). So yes, I pay more but I get more too. This is also why I like to get the most out of my chicken! (That’s just a weird sentence to say out loud).

I *highly* recommend checking out this YouTube video. I found it extremely helpful.

I am pretty new to the world of “dissecting” a chicken but it’s surprisingly easy (and dare I say fun?); especially after watching a “How-To” video first. When you cut up a whole chicken yourself, you really feel like you’re an active participant in the field-to-table process. Maybe that’s just me though.

I like to package my pieces by meal. That way, I don’t have to think about it later. 

When it comes to chicken breasts, I cut them in half before freezing. We started only eating half a breast each a few months back to cut down on our meat consumption (and to save money). Plus, we end up consuming more veggies this way. Double Bonus!

Here is a list of how I distributed the chicken:

-1 breast: White Chicken Chili (one meal, plus leftovers)

-thighs and “tenders”: chicken and rice in the slow cooker (one meal)

-legs and wings: Arroz Con Pollo (one meal)

-1 breast: Coconut Curry Chicken Soup (2 meals)

-carcass: 4 quarts of Chicken stock

This photo reminds me of Dexter. Is that weird?

You could potentially make 1 chicken last 2 weeks if you substituted meatless dishes every other day. That’s my next “self-challenge”.


**Make sure your workspace is clean before starting. Also, use a plastic or glass cutting board when working with raw chicken; NOT wood. Clean it thoroughly with hot, soapy water when you’re done. I like to wash mine, then put it in the dishwasher for additional sanitizing. What can I say, I’m weird. Remember: Nobody likes salmonella. **


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The Bird

It’s Friday night. I’m exhausted. I’m having a total writers block when it comes to food. Mind you, I’ve cooked all week; even some new stuff. However, I really don’t want to write about it. Yet, I still want to squeeze in a post before the weekend. Instead of posting about food I am going to post some ADORABLE pictures of “The Bird” aka JBird.

I took them today in preparation for her one-year photo shoot next weekend. Starting tomorrow, I have to gather all the necessary supplies for said photo shoot. I’m going to bake and decorate a “smash cake”, make an autumnal tutu, make a “birthday” shirt, AND take all the pictures myself! EEK!

Now, prepare to be annihilated from cuteness:


I cannot believe she’s going to be 1 year old in less than 2 weeks. This is going way too fast.

Seriously, how cute is this baby? I mean, C’Mon, I don’t think it’s possible to get any more adorable. The cheeks, they slay me. I want to kiss them off her face.


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Hello Everyone!

Sometimes, a person has a skill, knack, craft, etc that is just SO GOOD that they simply must share it with the rest of the world.

My amazing, applause worthy skills are: my meal planning skills and my list making skills. When the two are combined….watch out…it’s mind blowing.

Now, I’m sure most of you make some sort of grocery list with things you NEED to buy…and then just kind of “wing-it” from there. I used to use this approach, but found I was spending WAY more then I wanted to on food (most of whichI would  just throw out in a month). No good.

When we moved to WI, I completely revamped my take on grocery shopping. The key is simple: Plan your work, and work your plan.

We do grocery shopping on Saturdays, so on Thursday or Friday nights I sit down with a notepad and plan out a weeks worth of meals; including all the ingredients I’d need to buy for those meals and  the weekly “staples” (milk, toilet paper, sweet tea vodka…you know, the essentials).

I don’t plan meals for Saturdays since I like to have at least one day off a week from cooking…it’s usually a cheese and crackers kind of night.

I then brainstorm 6 different dinner ideas based on what sounds tasty (and based on what I already have in my pantry or freezer). I have an incredibly hard time making the same thing 2 weeks in a row, so my list of meals varies every week.

When I go grocery shopping I like to be in and out of the store in 15 minutes (or less). I’ve found that any more time than that and I wind up with way too many “non-essential” impulse items in my cart; resulting in a SUPER high total at the register. Get in and get out!

Ok, here is a step by step look at how I go about planning our meals and making my shopping list:

I start with a blank “note” on my phone titled “Weekly Meals”. I then write out the days of the week (abbreviated) so I can visualize everything better. Next, I add my “shopping list” underneath the week’s meals, so everything is all in one place. **Please note the date of this screen shot is from July 25th. Yes, I’ve had this post in the back of my mind since July…It’s now mid-September! Wow! **

Next, I brainstorm ideas as to what I’d like to cook/eat during the week. I usually change my mind about 5 times before finally deciding on 6 meals. I should also mention that I almost always plan to serve leftovers on the nights when I have plans (like book club, Mom’s night out, etc). I’m pretty sure I had a Holistic Mom’s meeting that Thursday night. When this happens, I make sure that one meal will guarantee leftovers for another night.

Now comes the really fun part, making a list of all the ingredients I’ll need to buy on Saturday. I write down ingredients meal by meal, then I consolidate. For example, I needed peppers for both the Chicken Tortilla Soup and Arroz con Pollo. So I added a generic “Bell Pepper”; then clarified how many I’d need  in parentheses. I also try to keep food “categories” together (ie: list all the produce together, meat together, canned good together, etc). That way I’m less likely to forget an item and I won’t have to walk all the way back to the opposite side of the grocery store to get said item. **Obviously I did not do this in the above list. I’m pretty sure I made this list AS we were in the car headed to the store…and I probably forgot at least 2 things. Learn from my mistakes.**
Now that you are more knowledgeable in the art of meal planning: go make that list, shop til you drop, save some money AND buy yourself something pretty while you’re at it. Maybe some new shoes…or a pie…or both! You deserve it!

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I like to call this dish: “Free Ta-Ta”. Mainly, I just like an excuse to say “Ta-Ta (s)”.

However, I think this is more of a combination of a frittata and a quiche. A “Fruiche” or maybe a “Quittata”…we’ll just stick with “Free Ta-Ta”

This recipe is great for Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch or Dinner! Seriously, it’s THAT versatile!

It’s incredibly savory and mouth watering…I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Plus, the leftovers (heated up in the oven) are crazy good.

This recipe is adapted from a Williams Sonoma Recipe

What You’ll Need:

-1 tbs olive oil

-1 bag of frozen organic spinach (I always try to buy organic spinach; fresh or frozen)

-1 medium bell pepper; chopped

-1 package of sausage (I used a local all-pork breakfast sausage)

-2 eggs and 1 egg white

-3/4 cup of milk (check and make sure your milk is RBGH-free! If not, switch to organic)

-3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (unbleached all purpose would work just fine too)

-1 tbs dry mustard (or 1 tbs grain mustard)

-1/2 cup of shredded cheese (I like to use provolone or monterey jack)

-1 tsp garlic powder

-1 tsp onion powder

-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

-salt and pepper 

Combine eggs, milk, flour and mustard in a small bowl. I find that it’s best to use a bowl that has a fitted lid (ie: Pyrex). Whisk until the eggs are fully beaten and there are no lumps. Refrigerate for at least one hour before you start cooking.

Preheat the oven to 425°.

In a cast iron skillet (an absolutely essential tool in any kitchen), heat the oil until hot. Add the sausage. Cook until just browned (it doesn’t have to be 100% cooked because it’ll finish in the oven). Remove sausage from the skillet and set aside in a small bowl. Add the chopped pepper to the remaining hot oil and tasty brown bits; cook until tender. Add the bag of frozen spinach; along with the spices. Cook the pepper and spinach together until the spinach is no longer frozen. Turn your burner off but don’t remove the skillet from the stovetop.

Remove your egg mixture from the fridge and stir in the shredded cheese. Add the mixture and the sausage (including any juices from the bowl) to the skillet of veggies. Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine everything, smoothing the surface as you go. Before you put the frittata in the oven, you want to make sure the surface is nice and even.

*If you feel so inclined: sprinkle the top with freshly grated parmesan to give it a little kick*

Place you skillet directly into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes (or until the top begins to brown).

Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve it up with a fresh salad of mixed greens and a light balsamic dressing. De-lish!

Makes 4-6 (big) servings

Optional Substituions:



-meatless sausage



-sweet onion

-swiss or cheddar cheese

Make it your own!

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