Last Week, Part Two:
Know What You Have, Use What You Bought is something I have come to only gradually. I used to keep a million of everything, never plan dinner more than a day or so in advance, usually only an hour in advance, and run out of things and STAY out of them because I couldn't remember to put them on my list. Then for the next four months, I'd buy that thing EVERY time I was at the market. So we went from having the tiny scrimy end of a bottle of ketchup, to no ketchup, to still no ketchup, to two bottles, one for the fridge and one for the cupboard, to three bottles because I forgot I'd already bought ketchup, to four bottles because Gomez thought we were still out of ketchup...is any of this familiar? No? Just me?
At any rate, that doesn't happen (much) anymore. I try to never be ALL out of a few things: Angel hair pasta, red sauce, tuna, shakey cheese (Parmesan, Romano or a blend, don't care), ketchup, some other sort of pasta, cream of mushroom soup, coffee, at least two kinds of beans, instant oatmeal, popcorn, flour, boxed mac & cheese, sugar, crackers, frozen mixed veggies, butter and block cheese. Okay, that's more than a few. Still, I don't buy sardines anymore unless I intend to eat them in a day or two.
If I run out of eggs, I put them right on the list. Milk, too, unless the second half of the gallon went sour, which it sometimes does. The kids cycle through milk consumption- sometimes very little, sometimes quite a bit. Bread crumbs, Caesar dressing, croutons and Romaine go on the list when we're out. If we use the last of the ground beef in the freezer, I sometimes put it on the list, but often I wait until I want ground beef for some meal, and restock the freezer then.
I am still guilty of buying things sometimes that aren't on this week's Meal Plan. Sometimes, that's a good thing. Like, when you've used your entire food budget buying Snowceries.
I took Inventory. My Inventory included 2 bags of Tortellini from Big Lots! ($1.80 each), many cans of beans, plenty of rice, several boxes of mac&cheese, many hot dogs, several sorts of pasta, many cans of tomatoes, one frozen burrito, age unknown, one bag of frozen green beans, two boxes of Cheesy Dinner In A Box (brown your own ground beef, add the stuff in the box, throw down a pickle for a veg, call it done), a couple cans of soup, a couple cans of tuna, two and a half blocks of cheese, one of them mozzarella (which took four tries to spell correctly), frozen meal from Lovely Gourmet Sister ("You'll need to cook your own rice to go with this- wait, you can cook rice, right?"), and the leftover bits from last week's meals.
Based on things we had already, I managed dinners for the week without additional purchases.* Here was our plan:
Wednesday- Veggie Mac, (but not; we had Bacon, Eggs, Toast, Donuts, Juice and Cocoa.)
Thursday- Free Beef Soup & refrigerator biscuits
Friday- Mock Beef Stroghanoff, (but not; we had Veggie Mac)
Saturday- Black Beans & Rice
Sunday- Cheese Tortellini with Red Sauce
Monday- Rice & Frozen Chicken Dish from Gourmet Sis (there was nothing for CORN)
Tuesday- Mock Beef Stroghanoff, (but not; we had Bean Pot )
Because school was cancelled on Wednesday (though in our neighborhood it only rained and rained and rained and RAINED), the kids enjoyed Operation Saturday Morning on Wednesday, and Gomez slept until noon, so we didn't have Giant Snow Day Breakfast for breakfast. We had it for dinner. On Tuesday, I taught a class downtown, so I wanted to put supper on before I left, rather than scramble when I returned home, so I opened Lima beans, pinto beans and white beans and threw them in the slow cooker with the last of the red beans I'd opened to give the kids red beans and rice for Tuesday's lunch (Monday's was leftover tortellini, but there was none of the Gourmet Sister Chicken dish left, only rice that yes, I can cook, thanks very much) with bay leaf, pepper and some other spices, and mixed up the dry ingredients for cornbread, and dinner was perking away nicely when the kids and I arrived home.
*Disclosure: Tuesday, we had Meatloaf Redux early, then went to a restaurant/bar to see Channing & Quinn, and we ordered pizza and fries while we were there. $35, which really is more entertainment than food. I suppose we could've just had sodas, but being in a restaurant with teens and NOT eating is...well, plus it's maybe rude to the venue? We ran out of milk, and it was Saturday morning. Pugsley and Gomez went and bought milk. ~$4. Saturday afternoon, Gomez went out on the road and returned home Sunday dinnertime with some pork fried rice, because he "had a craving". $8. (I guess. He didn't say). Sunday, Wednesday coaxes me into the Wal Mart under pretext of wanting hair dye, and we exited with also 2 boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts ($4 each), 2 sleeves of Pringles($1.50each), a box of lunchbox cracker snack packs($2) and an order of McDonald's fries. So, not counting our evening out, 'non-shopping-day' food purchases came to $25, bringing our real food expenditure for the week to ~$75.00.
Free Beef Soup
Put the crock with drippings from Crock Pot Meatloaf on the heating element. Add liquid saved from olives & artichokes from White Pasta, liquid saved from beans for Psyche, leftover Psyche, any leftover veggies, the good parts of that onion that's about to go bad, the limp ends from the celery, two beef bullion (five attempts to spell that one) cubes, herbs and spices as desired. Let simmer for several hours. Shortly before serving, add leftover cooked egg noodles from Meatloaf Redux. Serve with biscuits.