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March 23 – Weekly Menu

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This week’s Bountiful Basket was full of great options.  However, I don’t have much use for red bell peppers, so someone traded with me.  I got extra fruit that they wouldn’t use and gave away the beautiful red bell peppers from my basket.  Then someone else didn’t want their lettuce, but was very happy to take my extra tomatoes in exchange.   I kept two for John’s salad and sandwich, but left with plenty for side salads for our week.  I also still had plenty of onions from last week’s sale finds and one more meal’s worth of Brussels sprouts from that case from two weeks ago.

This week also includes the Feast of Annunciation.  That means a fish day.  So since I can’t have fin-fish, we went with a shellfish dinner.  Fast-worthy seafood paella with no nightshades.  It’s a recipe we worked out when we studied Spain last school year.  Simple to make, but very nice for a feast day dinner.

Meals for the rest of the week (the bold items are from the this week’s basket):

Soup – baby bok choy and mushroomsMiso with adzuki beans
Pasta – Penne with Garlic and Olive Oil – this time with zucchini
Salad – lettuce, mushrooms, and roma tomatoes for John – with white beans
Stirfry – brussels sprouts with pecans
Sandwiches – dulse, lettuce, and avocado (or tomato for John) sandwiches.
Hummus night – Bessara
Beans and Rice – Falafels with vegan tzatziki sauce.

I also got a bag of potatoes in the basket that will last until next week’s meal planning since I didn’t find use for them this week.

Snacks from this week’s basket:
celery  – ants on a log
pineapple – homemade popsicles
strawberries, bananas, apples, and pears

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March 16 – Weekly Menu

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This week I had enough produce in the house that I didn’t order from my produce co-op.  I’ve still got plenty of potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts from my add on packs from the last few weeks, so it’s time to use them.  Among other things, I still have some jicama and spaghetti squash from last week.

I ran into a great sale on onions yesterday.  They were about 23 cents per pound, so I stocked up since onions have a pretty long shelf life.  I also found crimini mushrooms for 69 cents a package at the same store.  I love mushrooms, especially when they’re on sale.

“Soup” for St. Patrick’s Day- Colcannon (my last variation here) – this time with Brussels sprouts instead of the savoy cabbage.
Pasta – Garlic Sage Spaghetti Squash
Salad – Skipping this week unless we really need another meal.  I’ve got plenty of leftovers from last week still.
Stirfry – With chickpeas and brussels sprouts
Wraps – Portabella and Crimini Fajitas (Sprouts sells portabellas in bulk at almost half the price as the packaged ones)
Hummus night – Olive Hummus with jicama sticks.
Beans and Rice – Red Beans and Rice

March 2 and March 9 – Two Weekly Menus

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Lent arrived this week with an ice storm.  Friends of ours let us sleep in their den so that we could attend Forgiveness Vespers and not have to brave the icy roads back to our house.  The children loved this little adventure and would love for it to become an annual tradition.  However I will advise that Forgiveness Vespers prostrations followed by an air mattresses will not be my preferred combination when the roads are safely passable.   The best part of the stay was joining together with friends for the first morning prayers of the Lenten season, especially when another of the stranded is a practiced Reader.

Now onto Lenten meals.  Last year I was given the advice to plan a week’s worth of meals that I know my family will eat and then repeat until Pascha.  It was sound and simple advice, and great for those new to fasting meals or less adventurous palates.

I took a slightly different approach.  I’m part of a produce co-op in my area and every week I get different fruits and vegetables.  That means the same-thing-every-week-plan won’t exactly work for me.  So once I’ve got my produce, I make a plan on how to use it in the next week.  I’ve got categories that I use each week.  I try keep the oily ones for the weekends and the others for the weekdays.  Then I always make enough for lunch the next day so I don’t have to cook any more than is necessary during the week.

These categories aren’t set in stone, but they do help me keep from making soup every night.

Pasta
Salad
Soup
Stirfry
Wraps/sandwiches
Hummus night (A different flavor every week)
Beans and Rice (or other grains)

So here are two different week’s meal plans using my categories.  Remember the items in bold are the new produce from my weekly basket, the others are ones left in the fridge from prior weeks.  Other ingredients needed to round out the meals I purchase at the grocery store and may not list below.

I use the fruit mostly for snacks for the kids.  The last few weeks have been heavy in apples and citrus.  This week we got some pears, but I’ve been having to purchase extra pears to tide over the boys who are allergic to the apples and oranges.

Week of March 2
Pasta – Asparagus with a garlic olive oil sauce and cannellini beans
Soup – onions, carrots, celery, fresh turmeric (from that Asian pack several weeks ago) – Curried Lentil Soup (no lemongrass this time)
Salad – Cucumber, jicama, lettuce, carrots, celery – with cranberry beans
Stirfry – Broccoli, onion, and carrot – Broccoli Cashew Stirfry
Wraps – Avocado, lettuce, cilantro – Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos
HummusCucumber, jicama, carrots, and celery with crisp toasted rice tortillas
Beans and Rice – onion, celery, carrots – Red Beans and Rice
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Week of March 9
This week is one that will break the category “rules” a bit.  I am splitting a case of Brussels sprouts with my mom, and I got a St. Patrick’s Day Produce pack in addition to my weekly basket.  Toss in John’s birthday on Friday and it’s a week ripe for deviation from the pattern.  I think we’ll skip hummus night this week.

I also believe that our contribution to this week’s Sunday potluck will be a batch of mixed root vegetables roasted with Brussels sprouts and onions.

Pasta – Brussels Sprouts – Olive oil garlic sauce with penne
Salad – Celery, jicama, carrots – with red beans
Soup – Cauliflower, potatoes, onion – Cauliflower Curry
Stirfry – Brussels sprouts, onion, and carrots with pecans
Wraps/sandwiches – Asian pears with cashews – Vegan Spring rolls
Beans and Rice – Black beans with roasted acorn squash (I’ve still had two acorn squashes on the counter from several weeks ago)
John’s birthday dinner (Thanks for the idea, Elizabeth!) – Cabbage, potato, onions, mushrooms – Vegan Pirogi “Pizza”

This still leaves me with several unused items from the basket.  I’ve got asparagus, which I will likely freeze for another day or serve up with John’s birthday dinner for a little something extra.  Then there is spaghetti squash.  It’ll keep until next week, so no worries.

February 23 – Weekly Menu

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This weekly menu is mostly a look back at the week.  My week got away from me.  I’m the volunteer coordinator for my local Azure Standard co-op.  This Monday was our scheduled drop, but due to weather along the route everything was rescheduled for Tuesday.  That means lots of busy phone calls and emails for me.  The rest of the week was full of illness in the house and doctor related incidents, but no time on the computer.  Now finally, I’m here typing.  Whew!  Now they’re predicting freezing rain for Forgiveness Sunday.  I can feel the coming of Lent in all the little things trying to distract from the prayerful silence that is our goal.

This week has been a week of limited fasting.  Meatfare was on Sunday; the last day of eating meat before Pascha.  On that day I fixed a pot of salted ground beef sauteed with garlic, onion, and ginger.  Then I added about a quart of chicken broth and a California blend (cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots) of fresh vegetables.  (This week I split a California Blend pack of produce from Bountiful Baskets with my mom and sister.)  Then I added softened rice noodles and coconut aminos.  It has no written recipe.  This meal is reminiscent of one my mom used to fix when I was growing up.  She made it with frozen vegetables and mushroom flavored ramen noodles.  Back then we served it with cheese over the top, but my children have never known it that way.  It’s fast and easy, but filled with nostalgic goodness.  I took the pot to church for our potluck, but we had enough left for dinner.  Normally we don’t eat the same thing for lunch and dinner, but we didn’t want to leave any meat leftovers for the week.

The rest of our week was a wholehearted attempt to make the meals not seem fully lenten during what other bloggers have termed “cheese week” or “pizza week.”  Traditionally dairy and fish are allowed this week, and our full Lenten journey starts next week.  This is to ease us into the fasting mindset with babysteps.  Our family however, is always fish and dairy free.  So how do we approach cheese week with no cheese?  We decided to have several shrimp meals this week amidst our Lenten fare.  The children also decided to take their chore money to the grocery store this week for a few extra snacks before Lent.  Snuggle Bunny left proclaiming she needed to find raisins and came home with tortilla chips.  Buster left hoping to buy nails for a woodworking project but rather came home with potato chips so that Little Man wouldn’t be left out of the snacking.  Such sweetness in the simple things.

Bountiful Basket fruits for snacks this week: pears, apples, oranges, and bananas.

The rest of the week I planned using my Bountiful Basket vegetables.  I still had snow peas, lemongrass, and bok choy from my Asian pack the week before, so they were the first to be planned.  I’ll put the new items from my basket in bold.

Bok choy – stir fry with mushrooms and shrimp
Snow peas and lemon grass – Tom Kha soup with shrimp
Lettuce, English cucumber, grape tomatoes (for John), and carrots (California pack) – Dinner salad with lima beans and other veggies
Acorn squash, spinach, and pears – Vegan stuffed acorn squash with walnuts (kind of like this one)
AsparagusAsparagus Miso Soup
Broccoli – Pasta with Cashew Sauce and shrimp

And the only meal left to cook for the week:
Cucumber and carrotsMy Kind of California Rolls  – This one will probably be our easy meal to pack along to feed the kids before Sunday’s Forgiveness Vespers.

My fridge is looking pretty bare now.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s new basket of produce and planning our first week of Lenten meals.  Blessed Fast!

February 16 – Weekly Menu

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Last weekend and this week have run away with me.  We’ve had outings with family, fence repairs, doctors visits, and cooking for this week’s pastoral conference hosted at our church.  To simplify things, I made extra hummus and acorn squash soup to feed my family with the same dishes I’m sending to the conference this week.

I also got an Asian produce pack add on with my Bountiful Basket this week, so I have even more produce options than usual.  I still had some pears, garlic, onions, and carrots from last week, but we needed a few extra things from the store than in previous weeks to make enough food to share and eat this week.  We traded most of our tomatoes for avocados with a family who had a severe allergy to the avocado.  We saved a couple of tomatoes for John, though.

Then I found some clearance roses at Kroger for two dollars a dozen, so I made a little impulse purchase.  I picked pink for Snuggle Bunny.

Roses

Fruit for snacks: apples, bananas, and tangerines with some pears left over from last week’s shopping trip

Meals ideas from this week’s basket:
Avocado, red potatoes, and spinach – Burgers and fries with green beans one day and sauteed spinach with the leftovers
Lettuce, avocado, and tomato – Chef salad with shredded chicken and plenty of veggies
Acorn squash with celery and basil from the Asian pack – Acorn squash-White Bean soup with some onions, garlic, carrots, and the last of the frozen swiss chard from last year’s garden
Avocado (I had lots of them this week) – Tamales from the freezer

Meal ideas from the Asian produce pack:
Celery – White Bean-Olive Hummus with plenty of veggies
Snow peas, ginger, celery, and a pineapple from the regular basket – Sweet and Sour Pork
Napa cabbage, green onion, and ginger – Stir fry with ground turkey and shitake mushrooms
Bok Choy – I don’t know yet.  I’ve got plenty of food for the week and this is the odd vegetable out.  Sunday is Meatfare, so I don’t want to make something that won’t be fast worthy for next week if there are too many leftovers.  I’ll wait until later in the week to decide.  It may just turn up in something for Sunday’s potluck lunch after church.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Meatfare Sunday, you can read about it here.  It is the last day we will eat meat before Pascha.  This year Pascha falls on April 20th which is the same as Western Easter.  Last year the two were over a month apart, but occasionally they fall on the same date.

February 9 – Weekly Menu

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I realized this weekend that Meatfare Sunday is only two weeks away.  That means Lent is coming soon.  I don’t know if I’m ready for it yet, but it’s almost here nonetheless. I’ve been having lots of conversations about Lenten meal planning strategies, but I’ll share my plan another week.

This whole week is a fast free week, so there don’t have to be any vegan meals in the plan unless I just decide I want them.  However, I managed to come up with plenty of meaty meals very easily.

At the end of last week I had celery, onions, cabbage, avocados, and potatoes left in the fridge, so they are the first to be planned into meals this week.  Then there was the new basket of produce from our co-op yesterday.

This week most of the fruit will be for snacks.  We got a bag of granny smith apples, oranges, bananas, blackberries, and strawberries.  I think the strawberries may get added into this tried and true muffin recipe for a Valentine’s treat.  I’ve subbed pear sauce for the applesauce and coconut flour for the almond flour with good results.

As for the vegetables, the ones in bold are from the new produce basket.

Romaine lettuce – Carnitas and side salads throughout the week
Leeks, onion, and celery – Cock-a-Leekie Soup – only this time with chicken and omitting the potatoes.
Zucchini, potatoes, cabbage, and onions – Caldo de Puerco using the broth and leftover meat from cooking the Carnitas
Broccoli and onion – Brown rice penne with garlic olive oil and cooked turkey from the freezer
Cucumber and avocado – California Rolls
Asparagus, cabbage, and potatoes – Steak and potatoes with roasted asparagus, sauteed cabbage, and mashed potatoes

This week’s grocery store run necessitated about thirteen items and none of which were clothing this time.  That was more of an average week for me.  I did buy a five pound bag of carrots, so hopefully I’ll make it to Lent before I need more of those.  I almost regret not getting the twenty pound bag of carrots offered through our co-op, but I think twenty pounds might still be pushing it for my family’s Bugs Bunny like habits.

February 2 – Weekly Menu

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When I started this blog, I truly had no idea how many different recipes I make.  It was a lot of work typing them all along with all of my other daily tasks.  I overtaxed myself during the Advent season and couldn’t keep up the pace.

After almost a month’s break, I’ve decided to take a slower approach.  I’m going to post my weekly menu and then maybe one or two recipes from that menu.  It’s the only way that I can keep up with everything without getting overwhelmed.  I’d love to post recipes by request.  If I put something on my menu that peaks your interest, make a request in the comments.

I am often asked how I can keep my family on a budget with food allergies.  I hope this new format will help give a practical picture of my process.

First, I have a well stocked pantry and freezer.  My pantry is filled with bulk grains, dried beans, GF pasta and noodles, home canned jams, oils, various sweeteners, and herbs.   The deep freezer is full of meat that I found on sale or bought in bulk.  I freeze homemade broth and cooked beans in old yogurt containers. I only keep a few frozen vegetables, but I have plenty of frozen fruit and nuts that I got on sale in season to use in porridge, smoothies, and ice cream.  I also keep all my GF flours in the freezer as well.   Some of my favorite sources for these items are local grocery sales, Azure Standard, Bountiful Baskets, and Zaycon.  Always read product information carefully before you buy to make sure you are comfortable with each item’s potential allergen content.  Some products are safe, others aren’t.  Do your homework based on your specific needs.  It took me about two years to build my pantry to the quality and quantity of staple items that help me cut costs in my overall budget.  Don’t try to change your whole pantry system in one month; do it one bulk item at a time based on your family’s needs.

Second, most weeks I get a basket from Bountiful Baskets on Saturday morning.   Once I know what I am going to get, I plan my menu.  Here is what I planned for from this week’s basket and some other produce that was left from last week.

Fruit for snacks: apples, Asian pears, bananas, and blackberries

Meal ideas from this week’s basket:
Tomatoes (for John) and Romaine – Mediterranean Beef Salad
Asparagus – Grilled or Baked Chicken with asparagus and brown rice couscous (with cranberry sauce at Buster’s Request)
Broccoli – Stir fry something like this one subbing out the green beans for the broccoli
Zucchini – maybe I’ll serve it with the chicken and asparagus above
Celery (with carrots & onions) – simple bean soup, not sure what kind yet
Lots of Cabbage (traded my bell peppers for an extra cabbage) – maybe sauerkraut for the future, maybe for next week

Meals ideas from Produce I already had in the house:
Potatoes – Oven potatoes roasted with fresh turmeric and a Sunday Roast, but no rice pudding with tonight’s version (a great dinner for a feast day… The Meeting of the Lord in the Temple)
Spaghetti Squash – Something like this, only with ground pork, mushrooms, and pesto sauce
Butternut Squash – Adzuki Beans with Butternut Squash Carrots & Onions (celery, too) – Lamb and Rice Pilaf

This week was a great week where I only ended up at the store for about five items.  One was three dollars worth of socks for Little Man, so I don’t know if I should count it in the tally.  Not every week turns out so kind to the pocket book, but it’s weeks like this that allow me to set aside money for the next twenty-five pound bag of rice, millet, or buckwheat.

Now all I have left to do for this week’s food is decide what little something extra I’m throwing together for Snuggle Bunny’s name day tomorrow.  I forgot to freeze some of her birthday cupcakes from last week, so I’m going to have to wing it tomorrow.