Wednesday, May 07, 2008

3 Moms, 3 Kitchens, 31 Days - Day 7 and My Husband's Thoughts on Our Frugal Kitchen

Has anyone noticed that the consistent them for my kitchen seems to be that nothing ever works out as planned? Opening my kitchen for 3 Moms, 3 Kitchens, 31 Days has also opened my eyes to this fact. Today was the second day in a row where I had planned on getting a lot of baking done, starting with a double batch of chocolate chip muffins, and the second day in a row where that just did not happen.

I was up earlier this morning than usual because the kids were playing a little too loudly and I wanted to let Eric sleep in. You would think that would be a good thing, but have you ever sat on the couch with a warm and cuddly one year old on your lap, flanked on either side by more warm and cuddly children, while still tired and trying to wake up? I think that situation just screams of the impossibility of not falling asleep. By the time I woke up, it was my usual wake-up time of 8:30 and I was not moving as quickly as I would have liked. So, the chocolate chip muffins got scratched and we had oatmeal and bananas for breakfast instead.

The slow-motion of the day just seemed to go on and on. I was not managing to get much of anything done, and I had an extra day worth of laundry to catch up on because of all the work going on around our house. I did manage to mix up the dough for Laura's fabulous hot pretzels though. This was the first time I had made them and we all enjoyed them as an afternoon snack fresh from the oven. I even froze some of the dough for another day.

After I set the dough aside to rise, it was already time to start making lunch. By this point, I had also managed to get half of the Shepherd's Pie simmering on the stove. Lunch was a menagerie of stuff in the fridge today. Eric, Isabelle, Alex, and Olivia had turkey and cheese sandwiches, taco roll-ups, and applesauce. Gracie and I finished the leftover lasagna from last night's dinner.

While eating lunch and feeding Gracie, I managed to get the Shepherd's pies completed.

I made two of course, one for our dinner and one for the freezer. We also had a salad with dinner.
Shepherd's Pie is one of those dinners that I feel like we eat too much. I think I am the only one who feels that way though, because everyone else cheers when they hear that is what we are having for dinner. I do feel like I make it ALL THE TIME though. Sometimes I'll mix it up a bit and make sloppy joe sauce instead of the usual beef gravy. That is also a huge hit with everyone.

It is probably hard to tell in the pictures, but I only used 1 pound of ground beef for both of the casseroles. I find stretching my meat to be easiest in meals like these. Whenever I can bulk up the filling with a good, meaty stock-based gravy, and lots of vegetables, I find that I can very easily get away with using only 1/2 lb. of meat, or less. When I first began doing this, it was kind of an experiment just to see if I could "get away with it."

And I did! There was not one complaint from anyone that they were still hungry, or that something seemed like it was missing. It wasn't until sometime later, while I was sharing my trick of genius with Eric, that I realized I had not entirely gotten away with it. He had known that there was less meat, but he was still satisfied. He didn't want to stifle my creative frugality by letting on that he knew. Instead, he was impressed and very appreciative of my efforts to stretch his hard-earned money as far as possible.

I have certainly been fortunate in that Eric has been a very willing participant in turning our kitchen into a frugal haven. He tries every new recipe I make, and never complains about the ones that are complete flops. He will tell me to not add that to the make-again list. I appreciate when he does that, in fact it is a necessity. If he were to pretend he really enjoyed a meal, I would make it again and waste the money on something that no one really likes just because it is a cheaper meal. Why waste the money if I could just as cheaply and easily make something we'd all enjoy?

I will admit that Eric and I have had to shift our views on certain meals and food items. There are certain meals that I know I can make no matter what, with just the sparsest of ingredients that I have on hand, that neither of us rave over. But we have adopted an attitude that it is just food. And this rarely has to happen anymore as I've spent more time with budgeting and tinkering with original recipes. As an added benefit, we really do appreciate the special meals as the treats that are. Another benefit is that we are no longer guilty of over-filling our plates and stuffing ourselves. And 98% of our meals are very good, if I do say so myself!

Joy, Toni and I have now had our kitchen's opened to you for a week of 3 Moms, 3 Kitchens, 31 Days. What a fun adventure it has been for us. I personally can not wait to see what happens throughout the rest of the month in their kitchens. Please don't forget to visit their blogs. And don't forget to join us for our Live show on Friday night, at 10 pm EST. The details can be found in my sticky post at the top of this blog. If you'd like to join in the fun and would like to have an invitation e-mailed to you, please leave your e-mail address in the comments section.


Miranda 8:29 AM  

Hi Kate,
I stumbled upon your blog, can you believe, a week ago as you were starting your 3 moms, 3 kitchens, 31 day event. My husband had just turned in his resignation at a 10 year job and I was finding it hard to breathe! After reading your posts I remember that several years ago I attacked my grocery budget much in the same way you do. Then one more child and one major illness later, I got away from it. It was such a blessing to find your series and I am so inspired to get back on this track! I just wanted you to know how much I have enjoyed your info and how inspired I am. Can't wait to read more!

Nancy 4:28 PM  

What's the "swirled" bread in the photo? Is that something you made? It looks very pretty.

Please use for invitation--

Michele 8:20 PM  

The pretzels look so fun! I've been wanting to try making them for awhile. I really should sometime.
Michele :)

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