Making it until Grocery Day

THE COST OF LIVING

Have y’all noticed how prices keep going up? Especially in the grocery store?

In our family, this translates into stretching sustenance as far as I can by —

  • detailed planning/ budgeting;
  • eating leftovers;
  • repurposing leftovers into an entirely different meal; and
  • creativity, especially when the pantry and fridge aka quarters of potential deliciousness (QOPD) have thinned out before it’s time to head back to the grocery store.

For instance,

Last Thursday, David and Ry looked into our QOPD, saw much empty space and, thusly cried out in anguish, “Woman/Mother, behold, our cupboards are bare! There is nothing to eat!”

With these words, son and husband headed toward the front door to go forage for fast food, wherest I stopped them with, “Halt, my beloved, hungry males! Our cupboards are only bare-ish. Never fear, I’ve got your backs!”

Okay, maybe the conversation didn’t go exactly that way, but that was the gist. (Blame Penny, my muse.)

THURSDAY’S DINNER

My menfolk listened intently as I described porkchops thawing in the back of the fridge, a can of turnip greens (my husband is a recent convert), frozen corn on the cob and Stove Top Stuffing. Add a packet of brown gravy mix and Grands biscuits, and we had a complete meal made from canned, frozen and pre-packaged food. Maybe it was a little fresh-lite and carb heavy with Stove Top, corn and biscuits, and I know about the sodium, y’all; but what the hey, we don’t have a meal like this that often. So what if we were walking salt licks for the next day or two. Dinner was on the table in 45 minutes start to finish. Not only did David and Ry heartily approve, but we also had leftovers for lunch the next day.

GOAL

My goal this past week was to make it to Sunday without going to the grocers, even with rapidly dwindling supplies. Sunday is when I usually shop for food. I buy for a week at a time, which, if I play my cards right, might stretch into three to four weeks’ worth of meals, as long as we fortify with fresh bread, milk and other perishables as needed.

So into our third week since the last time I shopped — on Wednesday — I made breakfast for dinner and used up our last three eggs, the rest of the hash browns (about a quarter bag) and smoked sausage. And now we’d made it through Thursday. Trust me,  there wasn’t much left in the QOPD and I was scrambling for meal ideas. I wasn’t sure what I was going to cook on Friday and Saturday.

INSPIRATION

I took stock of how little we had. For protein, there was a package of frozen meatballs. Uh-oh. The last time I served pre-made meatballs, Ryan complained. How was I going to get him to eat these? Then right before I went to sleep on Thursday, I remembered the jar of grape jelly in the fridge. Thankfully, inspiration hit, which allowed me to stop thinking about this so I could get some sleep.

You know what?

Welch's Concord Grape Jelly42,844 Plus Sign Illustrations & Clip ArtSweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce42,844 Plus Sign Illustrations & Clip ArtThai Kitchen® Gluten Free Red Curry Paste42,844 Plus Sign Illustrations & Clip ArtCoca-Cola Varieties41,679 BEST Equal Sign IMAGES, STOCK PHOTOS & VECTORS | Adobe Stock

 

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A DECENT SYNONYM FOR MEATBALLS?

I know! You’d have thought those four ingredients melded together would make for an overly sugary mess with a weird aftertaste. Was I taking a helluva risk when I decided to mix these into one pan? You bet your sweet bippy, I was; but the pay off was a delicious sauce. I added the frozen meatballs and simmered the whole concoction until the meatballs were heated through and the sauce turned into a slightly spicy, sweet and sour glaze that perfectly coated the ballsthe meat…okay there is no other word for meatballs but meatballs. I tried, but it started sounding dirty, even to me. If you have a really good synonym, please let me know.

FRIDAY’S DINNER

I had Ryan (the hard-to-please, finicky eater of the family) taste-test the sauce (“add more sweet,” he recommended); ergo, in went a little more grape jelly. When it tasted just right (not too sweet, not too spicy, not too tart), I served this over the rice that Ryan made.

Then I topped the meatballs, sauce and rice with oven-roasted frozen cauliflower, carrots and broccoli and topped the whole she-bang with French’s Fried Onions (which I’d added to the oven-roasted veggies during their last five minutes of cooking); and this Frankenstein mash up of — oh-shit!-what-am-I-going-to-do-with-stuff-that-doesn’t-seem-to-go-together-at-all? — turned into a DELICIOUS, cohesive meal! And no, it didn’t taste at all like grape jelly, which was my worry. Go figure. Ryan and David both gave the meal five out of five stars! This is definitely going into our meal rotation. 🙂

Thank you! Thank you very much! *Taking a bow*

ONE LAST NIGHT TO GO

Saturday night? We had stuffed baked potatoes (I had four bakers, sour cream, butter, and the rest of the shredded Mexican cheese blend and more of those frozen veggies!) David grabbed me a rotisserie chicken when he went to Sam’s, so we also had sliced chicken with the potatoes. The rest of the chicken is going into chicken noodle soup. Or jambalaya. Or both. It’s good to have options.

MORE EXPERIMENTATION — PLEASE HELP

With the success of Friday’s meal, Ryan’s caught the creativity bug and now wants to make a peanut butter/ barbecue sauce. He’s also contemplating a chocolate/ barbecue sauce. Holy mole. Ha! (Get it? That’s mole that rhymes with olé and not mole that rhymes with hole.) Maybe he and I can figure something out this week to appease his inner chef. If y’all have any ideas how to turn peanut butter or chocolate and barbecue sauce into something delicious, please let me know. And no, I’m not making a Reese’s peanut butter cup barbecue sauce. That’s where I draw the line.

Alas, I didn’t measure how much grape jelly, bbq sauce, red curry paste and Coca-cola I put into the pan, which means it will never turn out exactly the same way again; but I can live with that.

If you’re interested in trying this out, there are recipes for grape jelly and barbecue sauce on the internet; although, none involved Coke and red curry paste that I saw. I just threw in a little of this and added a bit of that and taste-tested it until it was right for us. This method, of course, is also how my spaghetti sauce evolved over the years.

Have you ever had to get creative with very few ingredients that didn’t seem to go together but turned into something really special? Or perhaps the opposite happened. 😯 Either way, I’d love to hear about it.

THERE SHOULD BE A CONTEST FOR THE MOST CREATIVE WAY TO MAKE OR USE KRAFT MAC & CHEESE

A friend said her husband made Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with chocolate milk once because they were out of regular milk. Allegedly Apparently it was so yummy, it turned into a household favorite. I’ve never had the pleasure and will have to take a hard pass. Sorry, there’s just something about powdered cheese mixed with chocolate milk that makes me twitch when I think about it.

However, I once made that box of childhood comfort with cream when we were out of milk. It turned out well; so well, in fact, that Ryan decided to also use cream the last time he made mac and cheese.

“Remember that time you made it that way, Mom?”

“Yeah, Ryan, but that’s only because we ran out of milk.”

“Well, I like it that way best. It’s creamier.”

Oh, shit. I think I’ve created a monster. That means, of course — my son must never find out about the time I ate corn flakes with heavy cream instead of milk.

*************************

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Hope you’re doing well! And now, from the musical, Oliver

TTFN,

Mona

 

 

 

24 thoughts on “Making it until Grocery Day”

  1. When we were first married and dirt-poor and literally living in a converted barn, I used our QOPD one night to make chili, which consisted of a pound of ground beef, a packet of taco seasoning, and a can of Winn-Dixie brand baked beans.

    Don’t do that.

    But keep some Jiffy corn muffin mix around at all times. You can make muffins and then hollow them out or top them off with a combination of just about anything. That’s all I’ve got. I’m usually the one whining about a half-empty fridge.

    Reply
    • Lille,
      You lived in a converted barn? Wow, I’ve always wanted to do that! BTW, I think I know what happened with your recipe above. You stopped too soon. I mean if you were to make it today. I understand that’s what you had at the time. So what I do is first day, I make a pot of beans; which I then add rice to; so first day we have beans and rice. The second day I make taco meat in the skillet (as you suggested), add all of that in with the leftover beans and rice into a casserole dish…AND THEN…I add a can of corn, smother everything in a layer of cheese and add cornbread (mixed per the directions) and cover the whole thing with that. Cook the casserole until the cornbread on top is done and voila! you have taco casserole! At least that’s what I call it! For even more deliciousness, I’ll get 1/4 lb. of brisket from our bbq joint up the road and add that into the taco meat. Add pico and sour cream on top when you’re ready to serve! Yummy! Hugs, Mona

      Reply
  2. I’ve never heard of that recipe with the grape jelly sauce over meatballs. I may need to try that soon, on paper it looks like it might not work. But, I think that it may actually be a crowd pleaser for my three sons (pun intended) who are all picky for different reasons. My oldest: doesn’t like lima beans or green beans, or peas or meatloaf. My middle son: doesn’t like shrimp or corn of any kind. My youngest: doesn’t like cilantro (neither do I) mushrooms, black or green olives. I’m at a loss sometimes about what to make to please all of them….those mofos.
    But I hear you on the prices of groceries, its hard to keep up with this and still buy on a budget. Stay you Mona!!! Hugs and Love!

    Reply
    • Hey Huntress,
      Picky eaters, right? When Ry and Lauren were little, I swear they tried to drive me crazy. If Ryan liked something, Lauren hated it. If Lauren liked something, Ryan hated it! *silently screaming in remembrance* I used to tell them that their palates weren’t sophisticated enough to appreciate my meatloaf. Ha! Today, Ry will try whatever I make. If he doesn’t like it, he gives it to Buddy (who very much enjoys my cooking!) Then Ry will make himself whatever he can find that he does like: a peanut butter sandwich, mac and cheese, Ravioli…If he does like it, the angels in heaven start singing!

      If you make this for your boys, y0u might want to start with one of the bonafide recipes for grape jelly and bbq sauce that’s online (I think most are crockpot recipes.) Hope y’all enjoy and let me know how it goes! Hugs sista, Mona

      Reply
  3. Keep cans of tuna on hand – tuna salad sandwiches – actual tuna salad (with lettuce,tomato, etc.) – tuna a-la-king – Tuna Helper w/tuna. Also, if I dare say – SPAM. Pan fried on bread with mustard (or whatever) and tomatoes – pretty good. Or in a casserole with veggies & rice or macaroni. It’s amazing what will taste good if you’re hungry. And then there’s always jarred spaghetti sauce on any kind of pasta – the more starch, the fuller you feel! Now that I’ve written all this, I can forego lunch as I feel a if I already ate!

    Reply
    • Barbara,
      “Ask any mermaid you happen to see, what’s the best tuna? Chicken of the Sea!” Oh, that brings me back!
      I grew up eating tuna combined with mac and cheese. Ry loves it. I haven’t made that in years! OMG! That’s going on the meal planner for next week! Also, Ryan loves SPAM, both the musical and the mystery meat.
      Thanks for the suggestions, my friend! Mona

      Reply
      • I think pretty much that’s what Tuna Helper is – mac and cheese. Or some kind of cream sauce. So now it’s getting to be dinner time – all of these suggestions are making me hungry, but not experimental. I think it’s a T.V. dinner tonight (for those nights when finding something to eat is too much work!)

        Reply
        • Know what? I’ve never had any of the “helpers.” Mom didn’t believe in them for some reason, and so I missed out on Hamburger Helper and Tuna Helper. Huh. Bon Appetit with TV dinner. I’ve always enjoyed a good chicken pot pie, myself! 🙂

          Reply
  4. Man-Child swears by the grape jelly sauce for meatballs – I just can’t. Since I don’t cook, I have no real suggestions – but I know The Husband sometimes sneaks a bit of chocolate into his barbecue sauce and it’s delightful. I don’t know about the peanut butter barbecue sauce but The Husband makes some kind of peanut sauce that is amazing.

    Reply
    • Gigi,
      Your Man-Child sounds like our kind of cook. So have you not tried his grape jelly sauce? Or you have and you just don’t care for it? Anyway, glad to hear that his peanut butter sauce and his addition of chocolate in his bbq sauce went well. Please tell him that I find him an inspiration to try these ingredients together! Hugs, Mona 🙂

      Reply
  5. Now I feel like my childhood is coming back to bite me, so to speak. My mother once made a quiche and I didn’t like it. She said, “You like everything that’s in this!” And I came back with, “I like butterscotch and smoked oysters but not together.”
    Still I think there’s something to be said for creativity, and that something is that it can be a wonderful thing, although you might want to be careful about letting Ryan watch Chopped.
    Also I had a coworker from Taiwan who gave me a noodle and chicken dish with a sauce made with peanut butter. It was really very tasty, although I think it’s one case where adding jelly wouldn’t be a good idea.

    Reply
    • Christopher,
      You have a point about the butterscotch and oysters, but you know you still owe your mom, dude. Do you still not like quiche? Is/Was it a texture thing? What about a frittata? I love me some quiche. Frittata, too! Also, we love Chopped in this family, including Ryan. I couldn’t be a judge on that show, though. Besides not having the credentials, I also don’t have the guts to eat some of the ingredients the chefs are forced to work with. What’s that fruit that smells and tastes so bad? Uhm, I think it starts with a ‘d.’ Whatever it’s called, no thanks. Not even a little bit. Hey, I recently made and ate curry for the first time. It was delicious and surprisingly subtle. I added pineapple chunks to embolden the flavor. I mean, when in the pandemic, learn to cook, right? I’m not super adventurous, but I’m starting to dip my toe into the culinary waters (ew, that sounds gross, doesn’t it? But, hey, add some carrots, celery, onion, potato, along with stock and you’ve got yourself the beginnings of a vegetable stew!) 🙃 Mona

      Reply
      • I like quiche, and frittatas, and omelettes, and eggs pretty much any way you can prepare them–except raw. There was just something about that particular quiche that I didn’t like, and it may not have even been the quiche. I had a big event that night and it may have been nerves.
        Oh, and you’re thinking of durian fruit, which some people say tastes like a creamy caramel and some people say tastes like moldy wet onions. I think it’s like cilantro which tastes good to some people and like soap to others.
        And congratulations on trying curry. Next up, Tim Curry!

        Reply
        • Nerves are bound to make most things taste bad. And, yes, that’s it. Durian. Hard pass. Also, recently found out that if you cook, as in sauté, cilantro, it apparently loses its soapy taste. So I like the taste of raw cilantro. My daughter and dad, however, can’t stand it. Anyway, I sautéed it and used it in chicken tortilla soup and my daughter had no problem with it. She had no idea I’d used cilantro at all. The soup was delicious, btw! And you know that Tim Curry is my favorite curry of all, right?

          Reply
  6. I love this post. In answer to your question, why yes I have noticed that prices keep going up. I like your ingenuity stretching the foods you have to create perfectly acceptable meals. In a way, that’s fun. For a while.

    I always keep a few boxes of Jiffy corn mix and Kraft m&c around for those times when food stocks are low. It’s amazing how doctoring those products can lead to dinner! Also we always have apples &/or oranges in the frig.

    [I’ve been having problems with commenting, too. There’s something wonky going on with WP.]

    Reply
    • Hey Ally,
      You make a great point that having fresh fruit in the house always makes a big difference when you’re stretching meals!

      Yep, WP isn’t always reliable when it comes to commenting for some reason, so I’m glad to hear from you. Until further notice, the Commenting Issue section will become a part of every new post I write. Since I’ve put that in, I’ve heard from several people who weren’t able to comment in a very long time. And if you’re a blogger and people can’t comment, what the hey? Very frustrating. So I don’t know if people are trying one of the techniques I suggested or they’re simply able to use their WP Reader function for the time being. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that things continue to work. It’s always wonderful to hear from! 🙂 Mona

      Reply
  7. I love the grape jelly idea for a sauce base. One of the favourites around here is a spicy peanut sauce that we use for pork (but it’s good on just about anything, especially stir fries of any kind). Peanut butter, soya sauce, pinch of chili flakes, and water, then heat on the stove until smooth. Easy peasy and delicious!

    Reply
    • Suzanne,
      That sounds delicious! Thanks for the recipe. Okay, I’m going to let Ryan make this sauce the next time I make pork. Perfect! Hugs to you, my friend! Mona

      Reply
  8. Buy a whole chicken at supermarket. Season with Pampered Chef’s Dijon Mustard rub and sliced up onion. Slow bake (250*-300*) in the oven in a pchef stone or cast iron Add potatoes and carrots about 2 hours before ready to eat. Serve chicken et al for supper, [reserving juices and any left over chicken, potatoes and carrots]

    The next day put juice, left over chicken bits, potatoes, carrots, peas, onions, corn, green beans in cast iron, simmer for several hours. Add noodles about 20 minutes before serving. BEST chicken soup ever.

    Reply
    • Boo,
      You are talking my language, woman! That sounds sooooo good right now! It also sounds like you’re a Pampered Chef rep. I always thought I’d like one of their pizza stones, but until I get that wood-fired pizza oven…the stone will have to wait! Thanks for the recipe for the BEST chicken soup ever! Mona

      Reply
  9. Prices of food, and almost everything else, have definitely gone up! I think in the coming months and years we’re all going to have to get creative in how we manage to stretch our dollars. Great suggestions!

    Reply
    • Ann,
      IKR? My daughter wants to move back home so she can save money to buy a house in a couple of years. I told her that if prices keep going up, it’ll take more than a couple of years. Mona

      Reply
  10. My family’s favorite way to make mac n cheese is to add a can of spicy Rotel and some sauteed smoked sausage. Mmmm.
    My favorite way to make chili is with a splash of bourbon and a couple of spoons of cocoa. Sweet and smoky. Ryan’s on to something. Let’s put chocolate in everything.
    Peanut sauce is totally a thing! I’m not sure about peanut BBQ sauce but I’m sure it can be done. Usually peanut sauce is paired with lime and ginger type flavors, to go over pad thai noodles. I’m actually not a big fan but everyone else seems to like it. I might like peanut butter BBQ sauce better.

    Reply
    • Sarah,
      That sounds damned good! But I already know what a fine cook you are. Anyone who can make soup using a curling iron…Matter of fact, I know it’s short notice, but I’m on my way. I’ve been vaccinated. I’ll grab Kat when I drive through Oklahoma and Lille can figure out a way to get to your place and meet us! Good times!

      Seriously, thanks for your input. Now I want chili with chocolate and bourbon in it. Hugs, Mona

      Reply

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