Have you ever really thought about how much money you spend on eating out? It’s not something I lay in bed worrying about, but I can tell on my bank statements the difference between the weeks when I have been grocery shopping and am cooking at home versus the weeks the pantry is bare forcing me to eat out. Recently leather clad finical guru Suze Orman came to speak in Austin. I didn’t make it out to see her, but I did read a few reviews of her lecture which addressed laying out a finical plan for these uncertain economic times. Suze issued a challenge which intrigued me…
By EMILY HUMMEL / KVUE.com
The charismatic speaker concluded her info-packed 30 minute talk with a challenge to the audience. In the next two weeks, go one day without spending a penny. In the next month, go one week without using a credit card. In the next three months, go one month without eating out. That drew a predictable reaction from the crowd, but Orman encouraged everyone to make the most out of every dollar they have and know what they are invested in.
I started thinking about this and realized I do seem to buy something almost everyday whether it is paying a bill, buying something off of Etsy, running to the store for a gallon of milk or Target for some new socks. The hubbs and I don’t use credit cards at all so that point was moot. As for eating out this is one of my major vices. Who doesn’t love going out to eat? Especially now that I am pregnant it makes life so much easier sometimes. I do love to cook, but not quite as much as I love someone cooking for me. However, as mentioned I thought of this as more of a challenge coming from Ms. Orman about eating out and 9 months pregnant or not I’m not one to back down from a challenge. On top of the money saving aspect several of my pregnancy books recommend doubling recipes and freezing half to have for after the baby is born to avoid take out and delivery. So it was on like Donkey Kong. With about $300, 2 trips to the grocery store and some left over party trays from the baby shower I managed to make almost 20 meals for 2 people. That’s almost an entire February.
Before I list all the recipes I have made and review them for you let me mention that I am not listing EVERY SINGLE meal I got out of that trip to the grocery store. Assume there was cereal, TV dinners, veggie dogs, spaghetti, mamwhich and other pantry staples and quickie meals included in that bill.
Chicken and Green Chili Enchiladas – Cooking Light
The bonus about these enchiladas is that the recipe made enough for us to have 4 meals. We had enchiladas last night for dinner with refried black beans, Spanish rice and spinach salads. Chris is eating the leftovers for lunch today and there were 2 extra servings that we froze. The enchiladas were tasty, but a variation from the usual Chicken and Green Chili Enchiladas I make which I think I like a little bit more. I know foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, but my other recipe is tangier and I do love me some tang.
Bianca Pizza with Bacon, Mushrooms and Arugula – Cooking Light
We managed to get 2 meals out of this home made pizza. I also saved myself a lot of trouble and did not make the pizza dough from scratch, but rather bought a ready made one at the grocery store. We had this with salads and the best part is that there was plenty of bacon left over for another one of our favorite meals: breakfast for dinner!
Vietnamese Noodle Bowls
Noodle Bowls are one of our family weak spots that we go out to eat for often. Good thing they are usually dirt cheap. However, it is not that tricky to make a poor man’s version at home. I buy 3 packs of Thai Kitchen brand noodle soup, steam in a bag endamane, egg rolls and our craving is satisfied. It’s no Pho Thai Son, but it will do.
Green Chili Tamales
Lucky for us our local grocery store has a very tasty in store brand. HEB makes a mean tamale that Chris and I enjoy quite a bit. This pack of frozen tamales only needs to be thawed and served with rice and beans to make a hearty meal. Another added bonus is that there are enough tamales that you can have 2 meals out of the one package.
Fish Tacos with Honey-Cumin Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Mayo – All Recipes
I find it is always handy to keep a bag of frozen tilapia on hand. I have not yet made this recipe so I can not fully review it but the part about honey and Panko bread crumbs sounds really hopeful. Plus I have left over pineapple from a baby shower party tray that will help add to the tropical experience.
Broccoli and Cheese Soup
I twittered about making this recipe yesterday and got a note from Ali asking me for the recipe. Well the truth is I winged this one a bit and combined 2 recipes. See this is why I can’t bake. You have to be exact to bake and I am not an exact kind of girl. I had a left over veggie and cheese tray from Saturday’s baby shower that I was determined to utilize. I used all the broccoli and all the left over cheese in the soup. The recipe called for taking a third of the soup and pureeing it to give it some body. Instead I took liquid from the soup and purred the left over cauliflower from the party tray. I took a few samples just to make sure it was not poison and it tasted delicious. I froze this soup immediately to have for a rainy day or after the baby is born and we are running on 2 hours of sleep. This should make 2 if not 3 meals.
Honeydew and Lime Popsicles – Epicurious
Again I needed to unload that fruit tray. I automatically froze all the grapes because I have thing for frozen grapes. I dug around and found a recipe for honeydew popsicles that were easy enough to make and look pretty dang yummy though I have yet to try them. I’m hoping to eat the rest of the honeydew, cantaloupe and pineapple for desert this week.
Beef and Vegetable Soup
This is another recipe that I made up as I went along. Again I was trying to use vegetables from the party tray and I was down to a whole lot of celery, cheery tomatoes and carrots. I noticed we had a steak in the freezer Chris had picked up so with the addition of some beef broth and cans of corn, sweet peas and tomato paste a huge batch of soup was placed to cook in the crock pot. Again this was a freezer meal so I can’t tell you how it tastes, but I do know that it made enough for about 3 meals and the house smelled dang yummy last night at about 10 o’ clock when the soup had finished it’s 6 hours of simmering.
Carrot Raisin Bread
I know I said I was not going to list breakfast food, but I thought it unfair to not mention Chris and his amazing baking skills. We had carrots on the veggie tray and raisins in the pantry left over from the pork sandwiches so this was an easy and yummy recipe to whip up. I had a slice this morning to get my energy up for this super long blog post.
Barbecue-Rubbed Pork Loin with Raisin-Mustard Chutney – Cooking Light
This was probably my favorite recipe out of the batch and something I had made before. Chris always teases me that I never cook the same thing twice, but this dish proved him wrong. We made these into sandwiches served on Ciabatta bread and holy French are they good. We made 2 meals out of these serving them with mashed sweet potatoes and salads.
So what do you think? Could you take the Suze Orman challenge and go one month without eating out? I’m not saying we made enough food to last us the entire month, but we did make enough so that it saved me several trips out and several dollars. Did anyone else make and freeze ahead meals when they were pregnant or is this another one of those first time mother things? I’m going out to spend all the money I saved on a deep freezer to store all this food in today. Actually Chris and I have been talking about getting one for quite some time so it’s no impulse buy. My last hot burning question for you is what are your favorite freezable recipes? Some things freeze better than others so I am always looking to expand my freezing horizons.