July & The Plan

So, I’m trying something new.  Well, I’ve tried it once before, but I think I failed to have the proper plan in place or resources to pull it off.

I’m planning for about one month’s worth of meals.

Now, I’ll be the first to say, this isn’t for everyone.  First off, if you get paid on a weekly or biweekly basis, pulling off “large” “for the month” kind of purchases can be tricky or down-right impossible.  I have loads, and loads, and LOADS of weekly meal plans, so please peruse them here! We get paid twice a month … and this is a different animal.

So how did I come to the conclusion it was time to try this again?

First off, I had a great conversation on the facebook page with a follower about what it takes to do a monthly meal plan.  That got the wheels turning.  I sat down and calculated – how many pounds of ground beef do I typically go through in a month? How about chickens?

Then, I started thinking about how the other needs come into the house.  I buy bulk grains like Einkorn from Jovial, and rolled oats and steel-cut oats in bulk from Wholeshare.  (Wholeshare is unique for New York state, but there are loads and loads of options per locality/state!) I participate in a CSA, and shares are distributing… I don’t have control over what I get, and I pay for it throughout the year. (Just an FYI – my annual CSA fees reduce my monthly food budget as I often freeze/preserve the share to use later in the year, but obviously there are some things that I eat up fresh, like lettuce.) So I’m getting regular vegetables.  Even my grass-fed cow’s butter from Kriemhild is bought in bulk (5# buckets, baby!) So why not try to come up with a plan for how much we eat in a month and then order and shop according to that?

So, I did it.  I wrote out what I expect we’ll consume for the month.  As someone who lives on a grocery budget, it wasn’t all that hard because I’m usually thinking forward and trying to anticipate how to get through the whole month anyway.  If you don’t ever pay attention to what and how much you consume, I would start there before trying to do any sort of monthly meal plan.  Primarily because you wouldn’t know where to start!  Start the first couple of months just keeping small notes on what you did and how much you spent. (For example, how many loaves of bread did you need? Pounds of butter?)  I’ll write up another post sometime on how to create a workable food budget, but for now ;-) that should help you get started.

A couple of notes here:  obviously, there are not 30 options listed for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Realfoodists MUST DO LEFTOVERS. There’s no way around it.  Unless you are going to cook from scratch in tiny portions 3 times a day (not very practical if you’ve got other stuff to do)… you have to expect to eat some things twice.  If you’ve been preparing food for your family for any length of time, you know what keeps well and what doesn’t.  What does your family like on day #2 or gets shoved to the back of the fridge to become a science experiment (not that it EVER happens to ANY of us, right? *sarcasm*).

So, off we go on the monthly meal plan!

BREAKFAST:

Breakfast Breadish:
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Einkorn Cinnamon Muffins (no link here as it’s from a cookbook)
Sprouted Blueberry Muffins from Holistic Squid
Soaked Flour Biscuits from The Elliott Homestead
Gluten-Free Biscuits
Einkorn Waffles
Soaked English Muffins from The Elliott Homestead
Toast
Homemade Granola + Yogurt
French Toast (no recipe, just some common sense!)
Coconut Flour Pancakes from Ditch the Wheat
Cereal

Breakfast Meats: eggs (3xs a week), (1-2xs a week)bacon, (1xs a week) cottage bacon, (1-2xs a week) Homemade Breakfast Sausage from The Prairie Homestead (make it in bulk, freeze in smaller bags, thaw when you need it!)

Breakfast Vegetables & Fruits: will use the fruit we get every other week from CSA share, apples, bananas, frozen blueberries, jarred fruit, smoothies. We also will use onions, garlic scapes, tomatoes and other veggies we get in CSA sometimes in our eggs

LUNCH:

A lot of dinner leftovers. Very few things are made just for lunch, it’s often a pull from something already made.  I make a loaf of bread per week (at least).

Tuna Salad
Egg Salad
Cobb Salad from The Elliott Homestead
Grain-Free Sandwich Wraps from Real Food Outlaws (used for sandwiches and quesadillas!)
Homemade yogurt
Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwiches (mostly for the girls, I’m a whimp and don’t buy much GF breads! I usually just smear some Peanut Butter on an apple and call it)
Macaroni & Cheese.  Sometimes homemade, sometimes from a box (but when it’s from a box, it’s as clean as we can find!). And this is why you don’t get any judgment from me on convenience foods.  Friends, we all lllooooovvvveee them and have a few we aren’t really willing to give up.  This is mine.  I grew up on boxed stuff!
Hot dogs (nitrite/nitrate free!)
Other leftover breadish stuff from breakfasts

I make this bread at least once a week: Soaked Bread from The Elliott Homestead (It is NOT gluten-free. I do not indulge.)

Lunch Vegetables & Fruits: will use the fruit we get every other week from CSA share, apples, bananas, frozen blueberries, jarred fruit, smoothies. Whatever fresh veggies we get on share from CSA.  We eat loads of cucumbers and carrots for lunches, too. (About 1-2#s of baby carrots a week!)

DINNER:

Meats:
Grilled Steak
Skirt Steak for Fajitas
Cube or Thin Sliced Steak for Paleo Fried Steaks (no recipe. Maybe someday!)
Spicy Honey  ChickenThighs
Chicken Thighs Cooked in Italian Sauce (twice)
Shredded BBQ Chicken (will use Chicken legs, with this BBQ Sauce)
Grilled Chicken Breast (not sure on marinade yet)
Grilled chicken and Shrimp kebobs (not sure on marinade yet… will probably depend on what types of onions we get in CSA)
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Hamburgers (twice)
Italian Meatballs (homemade. someday, I’ll post!)
Beef Skillet with Potatoes and Greens from The Elliott Homestead
Sloppy Joes
Korean Beef from The Elliott Homestead
Italian Sausage (1/2 #, cooked in red sauce… will do this twice)
Ham Steak – 2xs
Hot dogs
Salmon
Hot dogs or other Sausage
Bacon (breakfast for dinner)

Dinner Side Dishes (Breadish)
Side of fresh bread/garlic bread/butter bread
Gluten-Free Garlic Cheddar Biscuits (still working on the recipe!)
Baked/mashed potatoes
Baked sweet potatoes
Sweet potato casserole from The Hollywood Homestead
Roasted potatoes (cooked like roasted carrots)
Sauteed potatoes 
Al dente pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil
Gluten-Free pasta cooked with red sauce
Fried Rice
Butter + rice
Macaroni & Cheese
Beans + Rice

Dinner Side Dishes (Veggies-Ish)
Cabbage Stir Fry
Roasted Carrots
Side Salads – Cobb, or Blue Cheese + dried cranberry + pecan
Steamed veggies (frozen mostly broccoli, cauliflower, green beans)
Fresh carrots + cucumbers
Sauteed peppers and onions
Roasted Tomatoes + mozzarella
Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

Meal Plan: 6/26 – 7/2

Can I just be real here for a minute?

(Haha.. I made a funny… this is Foodies Gone Real, afterall.)

I am really hating this last week of the month.  I try not to focus on it too much (just a “yay” for resourcefulness and when the budget officially resets).  I tried the envelope system – where I have so much money per week – but 1) I order stuff online (Wholeshare, SideHill Meats) and 2) Often these things need to be ordered by a certain time, and will give me more food than just what is for the week in which it hits my budget.  So that’s not a workable thing for me.

Anyone want to share some tips on how to not feel so desperate the last week? And no, going “off” budget is not really an option…

Ok, enough griping.  This is what I came up with this week:

SUNDAY:
Breakfast: cereal; eggs + garlic scapes and tomatoes
Lunch: chicken in red sauce, cranberry+pecan+blue cheese salad (ravioli for those so inclined)
Dinner:  turkey roll ups with this grain-free wrap from Real Food Outlaws, strawberries, radish + cottage cheese for me
Snacks, Other: chocolate roasted walnuts, making homemade mint ice cream (someday I’ll get to posting the recipe for this!)

MONDAY (I’m cooking earlier in the day on my lunch break to beat the heat, and also I’m teaching bible study in the evening so it’s just as well)
Breakfast: bacon, zucchini bread by Well Plated
Lunch: Greek meatballs (beef+feta+fresh oregano), side salads, roasted potatoes + garlic scapes, blueberries + whipped cream
Dinner: quesadillas with this grain-free wrap from Real Food Outlaws, salsa, sour cream
Snacks, Other: soaking oats for oatmeal, soak flour for English Muffins from The Elliott Homestead

TUESDAY:
Breakfast: oatmeal, homemade breakfast sausage from The Prairie Homestead, pineapple+beet+carrot juice
Lunch: leftover quesadillas, blueberries + whipped cream, homemade English Muffins
Dinner:  Chicken Broccoli Alfredo, (making GF pasta) smoothies, side salads
Snacks, Other:

WEDNESDAY:
Breakfast: English Muffins, scrambled eggs + garlic scapes and tomatoes, fruit of choice
Lunch: radish + cottage cheese for me, Leftover Alfredo
Dinner:  Apple chicken sausage, macaroni + cheese, side salads/cucumber slices
Snacks, Other: Weekly popcorn night :)

THURSDAY:
Breakfast: leftover oatmeal, scrambled eggs/sausage, blueberries + whipped cream
Lunch: large cobb salad with bacon
Dinner: steak, potatoes, side salads

FRIDAY:
Breakfast: coconut flour pancakes from Ditch the Wheat with blueberries, scrambled eggs
Lunch: leftovers! PB&J as needed to fill in
Dinner: more leftovers, will rely on large cobb salads as necessary (but I gotta get out of the house and do my grocery shopping!!)
Snacks, Other: soak flour for bread from The Elliott Homestead

SATURDAY:
Breakfast: Einkorn Muffins (not sure yet what, but will be pulling from Jovial’s cookbook), scrambled eggs, blueberries + whipped cream
Lunch: fresh bread, carrots/cucumber slices, fresh fruit of choice
Dinner: Brined/grilled chicken (my recipe in progress!), GF cheese + garlic biscuits (my own recipe! work in progress), veggies (will see what we get from CSA this week!)

Meal Plan 6/19 – 6/25

Let’s hear it again for no more packed lunches! School’s not out yet – she still has half-days – but I am soooo glad to have her back under the roof for lunch and onward as I mentioned yesterday in my post about why I love summer.

Needless to say, I’m excited for more homemade lunches, picnics, and hopefully some pool time this week!

SUNDAY:
Breakfast: cereal, applesauce, bacon
Lunch: raviolis (for the family, not for me!), Italian sausage, dried zucchini cooked back up with sauce, cranberry+blue cheese+pecan salads
Dinner: Dinner with the In-Laws
Snacks, Other: didn’t get a chance yet to make these wraps fom Real Food Outlaw… hoping to squeeze it in today!, soaking oats for tomorrow’s breakfast

MONDAY:
Breakfast: oatmeal, fresh blueberries, scrambled eggs
Lunch: chicken quesadillas (with these wraps! from Real Food Outlaw – they keep well!), berries + spinach smoothies
Dinner: leftover Italian sausage, zucchini, pasta for those inclined, side salads
Snacks, Other: soak oats for granola

TUESDAY:
Breakfast: GF biscuits, sausage gravy (I sub in rice flour to make it Gluten-Free), fresh fruit
Lunch: BLT wraps/sandwiches, fresh fruit of choice
Dinner: salmon, baked potatoes, side salads
Snacks, Other: make more flour soak flour for bread (recipe courtesy of The Elliott Homestead)

WEDNESDAY:
Breakfast: granola + yogurt, bacon, fruit of choice
Lunch: fresh bread, cucumber slices, radish + cottage cheese (for me. I love it!), fruit of choice
Dinner: steak, roasted cauliflower, rice stuffed in peppers
Snacks, Other: making chocolate roasted nuts

THURSDAY:
Breakfast: scrambled eggs, leftover oatmeal, smoothies
Lunch: roasted veggies, sandwiches/wraps, fruit of choice
Dinner: chicken broccoli alfredo

FRIDAY:
Breakfast: leftover day!
Lunch: leftover chicken broccoli alfredo, fruit of choice
Dinner: hot dogs, smoothies, baby carrots
Snacks, Other: soak flour for bread

SATURDAY:
Breakfast: coconut flour pancakes with blueberries, sausage
Lunch: bread, fresh veggies of choice, fruit
Dinner: homemade gnocchi (GF!), red sauce, side salads

Summer Lovin’

Why I love summer:

Praise THE LORD school’s almost out.  I know there are lots of people that are anxious (or flat-out don’t like) summer vacation because they have to occupy their kids… or so they think… I’m a proponent of teaching them to self-occupy, but that’s another blog post for another day!  I miss my girl SO MUCH when she’s gone.  Her sister does, too.

That, and it means NO MORE PACKING LUNCHES.  I really hate doing it.  But I hate what they serve in the cafeteria more (and how much it costs!) so packing it is.  That, and I feel that I can convince her to eat well and a more diversified plate if she’s home.  She’s my texture-aversion kid, and for those of you who don’t know, part of getting them to conquer this anxiety is consistency, lots of affirmation, lots of experimenting… in other words, impossible to do for that middle meal for a whole 9 months. I have to give her whatever she’ll eat that whole time. I have to save up the work of coping with the fear for the evening meal, which can make for some stressful times. In other words… I would like to have another meal or time of day to deal with this! Looking forward to it!

The other thing I’m greatly looking forward to – my schedule permitting (I hate that I have to say that!) – is strawberry picking.  I’m looking for jelly/jam/preserve recipes for which I don’t have to use white sugar, and my hope is between strawberry and blueberry season I can manage to put up enough for a year! (And believe it or not, I think it can be done between the two seasons!)

His Mercies - Foodies Gone Real

If you follow on instagram, you might have seen our chickens were moved to the tractor up in the orchard.  (For the record, this agriculture/homesteading venture is joint with family… so if you ever think this stuff seems so huge for one family to bite off, you’re RIGHT! We all have certain responsibilities, and most of us work another job… which is why we’re doing it together).  I think my unofficial job title is the animal husband-er.  I’m raising the chickens, and have plans for layers… and have my hopes on a pig, goat, sheep, dairy cow…. and the list goes on.

I’m ready “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver and I A-D-O-R-E it.  All locavores, or real foodies, or homesteaders should be required to read it.  Her chapter on her daughter’s chickens was spot on.  I agree with her, when she says she’s so glad that baby poultry don’t stay looking like this:

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They would be impossible to cull! Instead, they turn into moody teenagers, then into brutes that attack each other.  I am so humbled and thankful I get this experience of knowing where my food comes from.  These chickens are getting an incredible life (compared to the chickens raised commercially) and maybe it’ll all just be in my head, but I just KNOW the experience of eating them will be hands-down better.

Also on instagram, I excitedly presented some of my early carrot seedlings.  Gardening I can do, (no black thumb) but I’m still cautious and learning ALOT.  My mother-in-law’s thumb is so effortlessly green I think she just has to wave it around dirt and things magically sprout!  Needless to say, my little carrot seedlings I am so proud of!  Carrots take a long time to germinate, and you have to direct sow (no transplanting), which in my humble opinion, gives lots of room for things to go wrong.  At least when you start seeds indoors, you can pick which ones get transplanted, and get them established before you let the bunnies and deer anywhere near them.

I’m desperately trying to raise green beans again – which I LOVED growing last year, but the bunnies are killing me, here.  My mother-in-law has the right idea on her property: they installed a fabulous hoop house.  Duly noted, duly noted. I’m not sure my beans are going to make it unless I figure out a way to fence it all in.

Green Beans Introduced to Bacon - Foodies Gone Real

(Two years ago green beans!)

On top of raising our own food, we do buy into a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture). (We don’t yet produce enough to be entirely self-reliant.) Basically, a farmer sells shares of his/her produce.  I bought a share, so every week I get 1 share’s worth of vegetables, and a little bit of fruit.  This is worth EVERY penny.  Aside from the locavore aspect – supporting a farmer in the community – this was the BEST way I learned to try new foods, and it felt risk-free since I already paid for the share.  It almost feels free. (It’s not, but it feels that way because you go to pick up your food every week and don’t leave any money behind!) My first “found” veggie – that I just had NO idea what it was, or what it tasted like – was garlic scapes.  I wrote up an explanation and recipe on it two years ago here.  I CAN HARDLY WAIT FOR MY SCAPES!

Bag of scapes!

I hope what you hear here is EXCITEMENT.  Anticipation.  Never in my whole life did I enjoy summer until we started our homesteading venture.  This land explodes new life, new life which God allowed me to participate in growing.  The farmer plants the seeds, but God makes them grow.

Cajun Beans + Rice, and Fish If Ya Want It

In this house, we do SPICE.

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Sometimes, we enjoy a good tongue-burning experience, and I ain’t lying.

We do flavor.  This is not a surprise if you’ve followed for awhile… chilisloppy joesBBQ saucechicken wings… even pumpkin pie oatmeal.  All of this oozes flavor.

This is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite “I need something quick and easy” meals.  It’s quick and easy because beans are already cooked, rice takes so little time to prep, and fish cooks QUICKLY. You don’t have to add the fish to make it enjoyable, but it helps us move towards the “one meal in one pan” kind of thing.  (It’s not an entire meal in one skillet though. Eat your veggies!  You could always saute some green peppers and onions to throw in!)

I do cook a large pot of beans regularly, and then freeze it into smaller portions.  This is WAY WAY WAY cheaper than canned beans, and healthier too.  When you soak and cook them, you reduce the phytic acid (which prevents you from absorbing nutrition), and consequently you are less gassy. :)  (You’re welcome!)

I do this in a crockpot.  If you’d like more information on my process, you can read about it here in this post from Deep Roots at Home.  (Or just google it.  There’s LOTS of info out there on soaking beans.)

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Personally, it’s better to do it in large amounts, which is why I go with the crockpot.  It’s not labor intensive, just takes time (as does all good/real food!).

My finished beans:

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Here are the basic ingredients:

Fish filet (This pictures 4 small Cod filet)
butter for frying (go grass-fed! it’s the healthy butter!)
1 cup prepared rice
1/2 cup prepared beans (pictured are kidney beans)
1/2 to 1 tbl favorite cajun spice blend (depending on your favored level of spice! we do 1 tbl and it’s pretty hot)

Fry up your fish in the butter.

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Throw in your rice and beans.

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Mix them together (the fish will likely fall apart, but that’s ok!), and sprinkle your spice mix, and mix until well combined.

You may have to add more butter as you go to prevent sticking.  I definitely had to as I was using stainless steel, not cast iron.

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And voila! Yes, it’s that easy.

We served ours with some of my much loved roasted tomatoes with cheese. (And I really wish I had thought of green peppers and onions before writing this post! That would be a phenomenal add!)

Do you do spice? Flavor?  What’s your favorite flavor explosion?

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