Fridge or Pantry · Good Cheap Eats · Homemaking · Pantry Challenge · Perseverance

Pantry Challenge – Thawed Out

Happy New Year Y’all.
On New Year’s Day, I posted about the yearly Pantry Challenge. I had meal prepped, and menu prepped…and I was excited to get back to it and use what I have over the next couple months. If you don’t know Jessica of Good Cheap Eats, get to know her – she is amazing. Regular mom logic. AND here is her info about the Pantry Challenge. But as life does on occasion – we came home to a change of plans. Our electricity was off and we lost all our frozen/fridge food.

We cleaned up the mess, cleaned out both fridge/freezers, and then washed our pups (who were with a sitter whilst we were gone, who has other animals and watches lots of dogs) and finally got to bed about 2am. I have not given up though.

January 5th was my hubby’s 63rd birthday, and by this past weekend, we were semi stocked up and ready to participate again. We only replaced parts of what we lost and didn’t buy new pantry items… and though we won’t technically save money, we have pledged to eat at home for the next few weeks, and were creative with our purchases.

Speaking of Creative… I wanted to share with you how I made my kitchen bigger by extending/creating a wall. Here, I extended the living room wall with bookshelves and a hutch (it needs painting and was free):

These pics show the pantry (aka the backside of bookshelves) and the refrigerator behind the red piece. The meal calendar was what I’d done before I left.

Our Second fridge/freezer is on our enclosed porch. I will be contacting our insurance company today about how to recoup anything we can. And later on this evening, I will post pics of our apartment we moved into in September (not duplicating today’s pics). Other than power outages, we are really enjoying it.

Don’t let anything sway you from your plan. Regroup and get back to it.

Love, Hugs & Blessings,
LadyEm

Emily (Me) · Fridge or Pantry · Good Cheap Eats · Pantry Challenge

New Year – New Pantry Challenge

It’s the most budgeting time of the year! Are you singing it with me? Uh… my husband says, “everything is NOT song.” I beg to differ.

This year for New Years, we visited The Netherlands. I will post a few pics, but you can click on the link, “The Netherlands” to see the album on FB. It’s public.

So for the past 10+ years… I have participated in the Pantry Challenge, hosted by Good Cheap Eats. You can read Jessica’s thoughts on it by clicking the link. But for me – and everyone, it can be adapted to your own goals. I use Pantry Challenges to work through the pre-cooked meats in our freezer, as well as foods that may expire in the pantry. But more than that, I also challenge myself to only buy peripheral goods during this month – six weeks. For me, that means dairy, produce, etc. Let me lay it out in bullets:

LadyEm’s Pantry Challenge Goals:

  • Use Pre-cooked meats.
    • And meats that are dates November or earlier in 2022.
    • The reason behind this is that in Italy, meat and foods don’t have preservatives, and you can’t keep them, even in the freezer, for more than say four months.
  • Use soon-to-expire goods.
  • Shop my pantry/freezer.
    • Cans of tuna/veggies
    • Pasta/rice
    • Flours, etc.
  • Bake my own breads and muffins, etc.
  • Only buy dairy and veggies…ok, maybe paper goods.
  • Participate at least six weeks.
    • Many only do 30 days, but we have things to get through.

I get home late tomorrow, but I knew the challenge was coming, so – I have two weeks meal plan done, and a list of items to buy. In this way, taking Jessica’s classes on organizing my kitchen and knowing what’s in my freezer/pantry is an amazing way to live and not waste in my kitchen and in many ways have helped my family and I be more creative.

Now that we are empty nesters, we are even more creative because no one is saying “I don’t want to eat that!” Ok yes, we miss them all. But you know what I mean.

I hope, if you are reading this, that you will do the challenge with me. Check out Jessica’s Blogs and her Good Cheap Eats FaceBook page.

I will post more of our plan on Tuesday.

Until then…. Enjoy the beginning of 2023. My word of the year is PEACE. I intend to seek it, through faith and surroundings.

Love and Hugs,
LadyEm

2021 Goals · Emily (Me) · Fridge or Pantry · Good Cheap Eats · Homemaking · Pantry Challenge · Recipes · Repurposed Food (Leftovers)

Join Me For Pantry Challenge 2021

One of the ways I’m kicking off 2021 is to participate in the Pantry Challenge with Jessica at Good Cheap Eats. The dates are January 1-31! I’ve been doing this for at least a decade. I love her blog because I get her logic. She helps me see what I am doing right, wrong, and what I can do better. The Pantry Challenge is a fantastic season that my family looks forward to twice a year.

I would love to invite you to go to her blog, read about it, and subscribe. When you subscribe, Jessica will send you the tools you need to participate. It’s been different for us here in Italy. My pantry and fridges/freezers are full because of extra holiday purchases, and we have set some attainable goals for this Pantry Challenge!

  1. We will stick to our meal plan.
  2. We will only grocery shop every 2 weeks…
    • When we do, will will only buy dairy, produce, paper/personal items.
  3. If we don’t have it, we will make it! That happened today!
  4. We will repurpose food and use up our frozen foods.
  5. With the exception of Marque’s birthday, we will not eat out…

All of the things on my list will either save us time or money. In the states, there are coupons, and sales fliers, etc. here in Italy, not so much. We did find a store called AdHoc, which is similar to Costco. That has helped with meat costs, etc.

Here’s a pic of my pantry:

Beside my fridge (to the left of this pantry), I have a dry erase calendar where I place my meal plan, and a dry erase empty square where I write my grocery list. During the Pantry Challenge, we take stock of the meats and dry items we have… and we use our imaginations to make it all last at least a month, sometimes longer.

January 1st we had our traditional New Years Meal. Pork roast (because a proper ham is not common here), black eyed peas, greens/cabbage. Leftovers today, the 2nd, and tomorrow (the 3rd) we will have shrimp tacos.

Earlier, I said we needed something we didn’t have, so we made it. So here’s the story. We love the Pioneer Woman’s Shrimp Tacos, and they call for Mexican Tomato Sauce. Usually we use El Pato, but we ran out and they don’t sell it here. So we made it from this recipe – Mexican Tomato Sauce.

One of the things I have learned from Jessica @GoodCheapEats is that you can make just about everything from scratch… and it’s such a benefit. I’ll let you know how the shrimp tacos turn out.

We’re excited! Come play along… get organized, use what you have…and save money! AND let us know how you do!

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the Bible In a Year with Father Mike Schmitz. Pray for me. I’d really love to read the Bible in a year!

Love, hugs & Blessings,
LadyEm

Catholic · Catholic Faith · Counting Blessings · Davis Family · Italy · Lent · Uncategorized

Walk With Me… I'm In the Desert…

desert

Dear Ones,

Can I ask you a question? And it’s a DOOZY… How’s your Lent going? With all this Coronavirus stuff and living in Italy, I can tell you – It’s not the best… OR IS IT?

When I started this post, my husband was laying asleep recovering from colon surgery (I’ll get to that). My child is knee-deep in virtual school – which he’s stressed about, but we’re both thankful we homeschooled before, so he’s ok. Sure, he misses his friends and being able to leave our Parco (neighborhood), but he’s doing ok.

February 25th, Marque went in for routine colon surgery to remove a bad area of his colon. We were told it was precancerous, but because there was a visiting surgeon with a colorectal specialty, we could do it sooner rather than later and she’d help out. The surgery was supposed to last three hours and lasted twelve. One of THE absolute longest days ever. People sat with me, comforted me, my child was there. And finally after 10pm, we headed home. 

On the first day of Lent, I walked into the hospital room to my husband writhing in pain. It was no one’s fault. The way they laid him during surgery was slanted, and arms pinned by his side, and his shoulders were so pain filled he could not even lift his arms. The visiting Priest (ours is in California having serious surgery near his family) brought us prayer, blessings and Jesus in the Eucharist. Lent in a Day, y’all. Ash Wednesday. We got our Ashes too. Sigh

My husband was in the hospital for 23 days. I’ll spare you the details on the ups and downs, but there were some very scary moments/days where the desert FEAR causes was very real. As the days turned into weeks, the coronavirus got serious. A friend of ours, a surgical tech, warned me and made sure I understood late one evening that I would need supplies to last a month and that when I took Marque home, I should not venture out so I wouldn’t catch it. I remember being irritated because no one thought it was very serious – and then all of a sudden, Italy was shut down.  

If you can imagine, here in Italy, we have to carry legal paperwork (in Italian) letting whomever might stop us know WHY we are leaving the house. We can leave for necessity, for medical needs, proven work requirements, and for returning home. Only grocery, pharmacy, a few hardware stores, and maybe a few other places are open. When the Italians decree came out that their people could no longer visit family in hospital, I asked permission to see my husband daily. AND I had to be home by curfew (6pm).

  • What if I told you that my husband did have cancer but it’s all gone? It never spread beyond his colon, not in his blood stream, not in his lymph. 
  • What if I told you that yesterday, on Gaudete Sunday, as frail as he has been whilst healing (he lost nearly 50 lbs and is weak for now), he taught our son to grill chicken and shrimp and we watched a family movie? 
  • What if I told you that this scary time has brought us closer, and helped us all appreciate one another more?

Before Marque had surgery a Priest told us we’d had our Lent laid out for us, he didn’t think we needed to give up anything else. And you know what, he was so right. The list of people I need to thank is long. I gave up sleep, my ego, and so much this Lent.  We have all given up Christ in the Eucharist, and aren’t even sure if there will be Easter Mass. In my 56 years, I’ve never seen or experienced ANYTHING like it. 

There were moments that I really didn’t even know if my husband would live. The fear in the desert is real. But I rejoice for this walk in the desert and the ability to be a light for others, and let others do for our little family.  

I look forward to the day when quarantine is over and I can be in front of Jesus again. Until them I will adore him at home, with my little family, in our sweet desert.

Praying for you all.
Air Hugs (social distance mandate).
Love and blessings,
LadyEm

 

Uncategorized

Leftover LaLapalooza – Or Do you Repurpose Food?

Happy Sunday Morning All,
Happy Second Sunday in Lent!

I’m hopping on really quickly with some frugal pantry advice.

Do you Repurpose Food? Some people call it leftovers, but my people don’t like “leftovers”… so I call it repurposing food. HA! They even help invent meals. Aint’ NOBODY got time (or money) to be snobby around here!!

Last evening, as I was purposing to use what I have for dinner I thought – “I have GOT to blog about this.”

In our home, we have three people, so there are often leftovers. And when my husband travels, that number goes down to two. Y’all it would be so dang easy to blow the budget and order pizza or Chinese Food, but a) it’s Lent and we are supposed to sacrifice, and b) we are holding ourselves more accountable for what we spend. SOOOO the long and short of it is, I had to find something to cook.

Additionally I am on my 3rd day of Antibiotics, recovering from Strep and Sinus Infection – you know, because one thing is not enough. I always have to overachieve… Anywhooooo…

Last night, I made a goulash of sorts. A perfect food for cold, rainy winter evenings. Filling, but not too fattening. Semi-Healthy (if you laden with veggies).

Do you know what Goulash is?

When I say, goulash of sorts, let me be clear… my definition is loosely based on the above, however, I am not a Hungarian, nor do I play one on TV.  (hahaha) AND there is no Paprika in this stew-ish meal.  But, it is teenager approved. So it works in our house.

Here is what’s I did:

In the fridge, I found two oversized chicken breasts that my husband cooked. I cubed the chicken, then cut about 3/4 of one of the breasts into smaller cubes and set it aside (see repurpose #2 below).

For the Goulash I put about a tablespoon of olive oil into the bottom of a pan, chopped roughly half an onion up and used about a tablespoon of minced garlic and put those in the pan, let the onions cook a while and added the chicken, diced tomatoes, and cubed one yellow squash ad added it. Then I thought, Huh… what else can I add? I quite literally walked to the pantry, put some baked bbq beans in the mix, added cumin, garlic powder, and half a cup of water. I let it all simmer together, had the boy taste it, and he gave it the thumbs up (which frankly y’all is ALL that matters). He asked for it over bowtie pasta… And I served it layered, in bowls. Pasta, goulash and sprinkled some shredded cheese on it. You could add cilantro or whatever you want.

Here’s a picture of it.

Emily Davis’ Use What You Have Goulash

For the 2nd Repurpose of the chicken breasts, I made chicken salad for sandwiches (or crackers, or by it’s-self). Here’s what I did.

I took the smaller cubed chicken, added two grated boiled eggs, three small Vlasic dill pickles, and some garlic salt, Italian spices, basil and grated black pepper (all to taste), and lastly about three tablespoons of mayonnaise. Mixed it together and it’s ready to go for a day or so of lunches.

Here are a couple of pictures of it:

Those of you who have children of cooking age, you can really engage their imaginations by challenging them to come up with a meal.  It can’t be too funky, or no one will eat it. I was nervous about the bbq beans (which I had picked up a year ago, by mistake, thinking they were baked beans).

Lent is a good time to use what you have. With the extra we have, we are searching weekly adds, and purposing to fill a box with a certain $$ amount of groceries weekly. And… the money has to come from somewhere. Ya know?

A few years ago, I wrote this post: Frugal Pantry Tip – Repurposing Food. It’s a pretty decent post. We have always been the kind of people who, even if we had the money, we hated to toss out food. It’s just so wasteful. We both grew up in practical and poor-at-times households. And we make a practice to use what we have.

Plus there’s this. I mean – how true is this quote from Pope Francis.

I also found this. Y’all it is STUNNING to me how much food is wasted. We really need to do a better job of using what we have, not buying what we don’t need, AND thinking of others and what we could do for them if we don’t waste.

We need to teach our children about not wasting and about how blessed they are to have enough food to eat. Christopher started volunteering and being involved in our local Foodbank at the age of three. YES three. He has packed back-packs for children who don’t have. And though, he has never been hungry, he’s heard the stories.

It is not my intention to bring you down, but to educate you and remind you of what we can all do better. You aren’t alone if you waste, clearly… But here and now, decide to waste less. That’s all.

I hope you enjoyed this.
And while I have your attention, let me know how you repurpose food. AND let me know if you would be interested in linking up to a regular recipe post about how to repurpose leftovers? It might be fun to share our made up recipes. ❤

I hope to hear from you!

Love, hugs & Blessings,
Em