Successful Harvests

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015My parents had a successful harvest this year, and they always seem to plant enough to share with my siblings and me. It started with the cucumbers that mom brought over, a couple of times. Once, because she knew I was visiting with my daughter, she sent some for me to take to her. There was zucchini and kohlrabi as well. Then tomatoes. Huge beefsteak tomatoes. And kale. All this food, tasting so much better than what I would have bought in the store. Delicious!

I gave a few cucumbers, zucchini, and a squash to friends as well. Everyone loves the fresh produce!

I went to help my mother with the harvest one day. We got all the squash in, and the tomatoes (sadly, most were lost to blight!), the last of the kohlrabi, and a few plants for me to bring home.

And chives. When the girls and I lived in the apartments, back when they were still my precious little girls <3, there were chives growing in our little garden from the previous tenant. When I moved us to the trailer park, I brought them with me and replanted near the Day Lilies. They thrived. I gave some to my mother, and missed them when I moved again – for I can’t have a garden where I am. I harvested a bunch when I was visiting with my mother that day, brought them home, and froze them in water making ice cubes for soups and other recipes I’ll make this fall.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015After this all-important harvest, for we did not want the frost to harm the produce, mom sent me home with quite a bit of stuff. Two beefsteak tomatoes, a couple of bunches of celery, two kohlrabi, two more zucchini, chives, and two of each type of squash.

In the front, notice the mini squashes. They aren’t good to eat, but are perfect for autumn decorating. And notice the four potted plants. Two chard and two kale. We harvested all this, and much more, on September 23rd – the Autumn Equinox – and these four plants are still growing in my room. They are so good!

The food in this picture is quite the harvest for a single lady such as myself; imagine what else my parents harvested! For themselves, and for my siblings. And we all share with others, at least somewhat. Plus what they gave me before our harvest day.

And just yesterday my mother and brother stopped by, bringing me two more of each type of squash and some carrots. I do so love carrots, and I have experimented with stuffed squash recipes this year.

All-in-all, I would say my parents had quite the successful harvest this year. What do you think?

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015All I have left are the frozen chives, the four plants, six squash, and the carrots. The food was delicious, and I loved every bit of it. Harvest time is my favorite time! And it is a great money saver for me.

Did you grow food this year to help lower your food budget? How was your harvest? Did you enjoy the experience?

Let us know in the comments, or email me privately at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I answer all emails.

Some of what I made with the harvested produce:

Harvest Salad

Four Meat Chili with Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash and Carrot Mash

You May Also Enjoy:Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015

September Baking Day

Have a wonderful autumn!!!

Shannon

Don’t Like Vegetables?

Vegetables are such an important part of a healthy diet. They are essential and provide the body with, among other things, vitamins and provitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy carbohydrates.

I used to think I only liked a few: Corn, peas, white potatoes. Raw carrots, celery, and cauliflower. For the most part, that was what I ate for vegetables. Let’s face it, not all of it was truly even healthy.

Truth?

I just don’t like a lot of things cooked.

Yup. I prefer most of my vegetables raw. I kept trying all these cooked vegetables, and was not impressed. Cooking changes the taste too much for me. It took me years to realize that I just prefer to consume a lot of things without them being cooked.

For instance?

Carrots, broccoli, pickled beets.

There are others.

How did I find this out?

In an effort to eat healthier, I decided I must start trying new foods. This took place about five or six years back and, each year, I try a few new things. It’s not always easy, but it’s working well for me.

I have learned:

  • I do not like many things cooked, but will eat them raw.
  • If you mix half white potato and half sweet potato you will get used to the latter two more easily. Then start using 1/3 white to 2/3 sweet. Eventually, that sweet potato will taste fine on its own. I do eat them cooked, and will also eat white potatoes raw. I do not, however, indulge in white potatoes all that often any more. Mainly when I’m very strapped for cash.
  • I don’t liked cooked carrots, unless I make a mash of them with white or sweet potato, or squash. The tactic above has not brought me any closer to liking cooked carrots on their own.
  • Raw baby spinach tastes wonderful. I despise canned spinach, and have not tried fresh cooked (yet).
  • I love tomatoes, cooked or raw, but they do not love me. Sadly, I can only consume a little each week, or I end up with horrible heartburn. Cooked, they mess with my stomach.
  • Raw peas and green beans in pods are delicious!
  • I like salad mixes. The kind that include chard and kale, even. If I don’t care for a green or two, I know I can add it to a healthy smoothie to derive nutritional value from it. Interestingly enough, if I don’t pack in too much, I will not notice the greens in a smoothie at all.
  • Beans are good, and not just the navy ones! However, I only really eat these once in a great while. Maybe two or three times a year. They are a bit of a no-no.
  • I used to only eat iceberg lettuce, but now I eat a variety of different types. They are delicious!
  • Sometimes it will take a few, or a few more, tries of something to realize you do really like it. If you aren’t sure how you feel about it, try it another way. I have to do this with Brussels sprouts. I have had them once. Steamed, I think, with butter. They did not work for me, but were not horrible tasting. Just not real pleasing. I’ll be trying them another way.
  • I love cabbage raw. Hate it cooked. This is why I don’t like boiled dinners.
  • I do like zucchini and yellow squash, raw.
  • I love celery raw.
  • Cucumbers are delicious, and I like them pickled.

So, I have learned a lot. And there are still vegetables I have yet to try.

What about you? How do you like your vegetables?

Shannon

 

Even More Workweek Meal Prep, Plus

Autumn is the time of year I start to cook and bake more. Makes life feel more homey 🙂 And I love the way it makes my place smell. This was the time, when my daughters were young, that we would stock up on foods so we could make what we wanted on a whim. I started having them cook with me from a young age.

Just this week Zowie, now 22, mentioned she was shopping to begin stocking her pantry. And Skye, 24, and I are planning to bake together when I visit her in a couple of weeks up north. Preparing delicious meals brings back warm family memories.

I messaged both of my daughters last night to find out what recipes from childhood were their favorites. My plan is to scrap a cookbook with our favorites. So far, I know my mac and cheese recipe will be in the book, as well as the chunky applesauce, mashed potatoes, and shepherds pie. There will be plenty more recipes going into that book! Something to work on during the winter months.

Today went like this:

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.I love slow cooker meals. Renting a room, I don’t have an oven for roasting big meals. Just a little toaster oven. Two slow cookers aid me in making a couple of meals on autumn and winter cooking days.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014Pork and vegetables went into the first crock. This is an easy recipe. I didn’t bother to cut the meat, because the meal cooks long enough so the meat falls apart easily. This made 5 meals, with the carrots coming from my parents garden.

The next crock contained beef I found on sale for $4.87, a savings of $1.88. It was steak and not a roast, but the result was delicious. This also made 5 meals. Both the squash and carrots were free, from my parents garden. Cook this the same as the pork and vegetables above.

1 pound beef

1 squash

5 or 6 small carrots

leftover sweet potato from the crock pot pork meal (bout 6 bite size pieces)

cover with water, or vegetable/beef stock

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.I decided to make cupcakes for my coworkers. They were such a big hit. The chocolate mayonnaise cake recipe I used came from my mom. It makes 18 cupcakes. I had leftover ingredients from the last time I baked, so I only needed to buy mayonnaise for this dessert. I used the cheapest brand and the smallest size I could find. Thankfully Jose, the head maintenance man at work, agreed to take the leftover mayo off my hands.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.Because I am a messy cook, the cooking spoon and measuring cup (for scooping batter) go on a napkin. Believe me, it is better this way.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

I have a 6-cup muffin tin that thankfully fits in my toaster oven, and I only needed to use the oven three times. Not bad.

While things were cooking and baking, I took inventory of what I had on hand to round out these 10 meal. There was plenty of celery and pickled beets.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.And a few lovely apples leftover from last weekends visit to the orchard. Liberty and Macintosh. Yum. These were free.

I checked the first tin of cupcakes by sticking a toothpick into them. If the pick comes out clean, they are done. I bought these at Wal-Mart, a three pack. Each box is a different color. Nifty.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.They were done. I allowed them to cool a bit before removing the cupcakes, then filled refilled.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.The peanut butter frosting recipe is so easy to make. You can’t go wrong with it. Simply mix a container of white frosting with peanut butter to taste. I used a little extra peanut butter this time and it was a hit. Everyone loves this frosting. Because I don’t really eat peanut butter, Jose agreed to take what was leftover off my hands.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.I saved out two cupcakes for a coworker with diabetes. She doesn’t eat frosting. And the maintenance guys both got two because they give me rides home from work a couple of times a week. I kept two cupcakes for myself, and shared the rest at work. I have to admit, my mommas recipe is the best!

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

Once the beef meal was portioned out, and one of the pork meals, I still had this much of the pork recipe but no more containers. I’ll need to invest in more containers. What’s left is enough for four more meals.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.And this is what six meals looks like. I only need five for work, the other half will make great at-home dinners that I can just warm up. Three apples and a jar of pickled beets really did round out the meals. And so did the celery packs. There were 6 packs. One was leftover from last week. They come in a 5-pack, and cost $1.15.

Have a great day!

Shannon

Meal Prep for the Coming Workweek

Another workweek. Another food prep day. Do I mind spending an entire day each week cooking? Absolutely not! I love to cook. And I have less to do on a day-to-day basis when I do this.

This week was pretty basic, and not overly expensive. Here goes:

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

I started with a slow cooker meal. This week I made an Autumn Sausage Slow Cooker Meal that came out real well. I love slow cooker meals. They’re so easy to put together, and free up plenty of time for preparing other foods and getting my cleaning done. Then I also have time for writing. The squash I used in this recipe was a freebie from my parents garden. And the cost before taxes for the sausage was $3.75. Take a look at the store’s selection. You may find a more affordable sausage option than what you use already. I did.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

I then made the base for my iced tea for the week, Berry-Orange Iced Tea. In a few days I will change the tea bags and replace the old orange slices with new. I just keep refilling the pitcher with water during the week. The tea bags were left over from last winter. The fruit was left over from last week. So I did not pay any more to make this.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

Next I made more Chunky Applesauce. This is such a simple recipe. I cook the apples down in water. I don’t add anything else when cooking. When I’m ready to eat the sauce, I add some organic cinnamon. Organic tastes so much better than the stuff I used to buy. The apples were also leftover from last week, so this is essentially another freebie.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

And I put together 6 Vegetable Jars. This weeks jars consist of carrots, celery, broccoli, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and a bit of cheese. The carrots were left over from last week. As was the slice of cheese that I broke into 6 pieces.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

Plus I had leftover vegetables to have with other meals or as snacks.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

After using up all the sandwich meat that comes in the covered containers, I reuse the containers for packing my lunches. I split the food between the containers. I know it does not look like much, but I bring other foods as well.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

This all made 6 meals, and I have a few snacks. Not too bad.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

So, this is my food from the days work:

  • 6 proportioned out slow cooker meals.
  • 6 vegetable jars.
  • Extra vegetables.
  • 2 applesauce jars.
  • A jar of pickled beets.
  • An orange.
  • 2 bottles of water. Free from a guest at work. (She actually gave me 8 bottles.) I’ll drink tea at work when I don’t have the water (also free), or the iced tea I made is for when I’m at home.

That is 6 meals and, because my work schedule changed this week, I only need two of them for work. I put three slow cooker meal portions into the freezer. They will be good on my days off.

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More Work Week Meal Prep

Even More Work Week Meal Prep

Enjoy!

Shannon

 

Vegetable Jars

Vegetable jars are so easy to make. You’re simply filling small canning jars with raw vegetables, covering, and storing in the refrigerator until they are ready to use. The produce will last for most of the week this way. They can easily be grabbed as a component to a work or school lunch.

Some vegetable ideas for jars

  • Cucumber rounds
  • Celery sticks, broccoli, and carrot sticks
  • Cucumber, zucchini, and yellow squash
  • Carrots, broccoli, pod beans
  • Pod peas, carrots, and cucumber
  • Pod peas, pod beans, and yellow squash
  • Cherry tomatoes, snow pod peas, and carrots
  • Grape tomatoes, broccoli, and cucumber

As you can see, there are plenty of combinations to choose from.

What other vegetable combinations can you come up with? Let us know in the comments.

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Fruit jars

Shannon

 

A Good, Healthy Lunch, on a Budget

Earlier I showed you a typical breakfast. Now I’m showing an example of a budget friendly lunch. This is not necessarily a typical lunch for me, as one usually consists of a salad, a piece of fruit, and some type of protein. But this was an affordable option for me a couple of weeks back. It worked and, while not 100% Paleo, it filled me up for the cost.

The picture shows what I had, except for the beverage.

Orange sections, left over from a pitcher of fruit water I made. (Try this water recipe for something refreshing to go along with this lunch.)

Peas in pods, carrot rounds, celery, broccoli, tomatoes

4 slices of ham

4 slices of cheese

I wasn’t sure if this would keep me full or not, but it held me over just fine. I did have a few cups of water in between lunch and dinner, so that may have helped.

What healthy lunches do you make when your budget is tight? I rarely eat grains and dairy, so I’m always on the look out for Paleo type lunches.

Shannon

A Good, Healthy Breakfast, on a Budget

I keep telling people they can eat healthy without spending an exuberant amount on food. This is true to an extent, if you keep it simple. Stick to the basics, and your meal does not have to cost an arm-and-a-leg. Also, watch your serving sizes.

The picture shows a breakfast I had a couple of weeks ago. It is actually pretty typical, for me. (Don’t mind the paper plate! It is a leftover from my daughters’ engagement party.) The most expensive aspect was the smoothie. I could have saved more money by just having a piece of fruit with breakfast, and drinking either water or tea. But I had the coconut milk on hand, and the berries were not badly priced (for berries!)

I do try to always pair vegetables and a protein source with a little healthy fat, in this instance by cooking the sausages and egg in coconut oil. This combination is a healthy way to consume food. I eat a mostly Paleo diet.

The components of the meal consisted of:

Mixed Berry Smoothie

2 sausage links

1 fried egg

peas in pods, carrot rounds, celery, broccoli, and tomatoes

The meal was simple and tasty, and kept me full until not long before lunch. Good deal. Note that I rarely ever eat grains. Usually just when my budget is just too tight to manage. Also note the absence of real dairy. I rarely ever have dairy. These foods are a no-no with my lifestyle change, and I should not be eating them at all. I do, once in a while, consume cheese… I just can’t help myself 😉

What healthy things do you eat for breakfast?

Shannon

Ground Beef and Vegetables

This recipe calls for the use of leftover baked white and sweet potatoes, as well as a few other ingredients. It’s easy to make, and the other ingredients could also be from leftovers if you had enough available. It is a simple recipe that will not take long to make.

Ingredients

3/4 lb ground beef

1 tbsp coconut oil or butter

1 to 1 1/2 cups peas

2 cold baked sweet potatoes, chopped

1 cup chopped squash

desired seasonings

  1. Melt the fat in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and cook until done, cutting the beef into small pieces as it browns.
  2. Drain off the access fat, then put the beef back into the pan.
  3. Add the vegetables and cook until warmed through, stirring as needed.
  4. Add seasonings. Cook for a minute, then remove from heat.

Tips

  • There is no need to buy peas if you have other leftover vegetables that can be substituted. Try carrots or celery.
  • Use fresh produce whenever possible to save on the food bill.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a fruit salad, such as watermelon and cantaloupe balls with mint.
  • Or, serve with a side salad of Romaine lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

Do you have a favorite recipe similar to this? Share with us in the comments below, or message me privately at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

Enjoy!

Shannon

Venison and Vegetable Soup

Many people hunt, bringing home a dear or moose for their efforts. The meat from these animals is delicious, and can be used in many ways. Soups are great during the fall and winter months, and venison can take the place of beef and other meats when cooking.

Soups are easy to prepare on the stove top or in a slow cooker. On the stove, simply cook until the vegetables and meat are cooked through. This will depend in how big the pieces of food are, and whether or not the meat was precooked. In the slow cooker, three or four hours on high works fine. Twice as long when slow cooking on a low temperature.

Ingredients

venison

potato

squash

celery

vegetable broth, or water

seasonings of choice

  1. Wash the vegetables and peel if desired.

  2. Cut the meat and vegetables into bite size pieces.

  3. Pour broth and/or water into a medium to large pot.

  4. Add the meat and vegetables.

  5. Cook until the meat and vegetables are done, adding seasonings five minutes before serving.

Tips

  • Salt and pepper can be added to the pot, as can your choice of herbs.

  • You’ll save a great deal of money when using vegetables grown in your own garden.

Serving Suggestions

  • A side salad of greens, carrots and zucchini will go with this soup.

Hannaford Salad

I like to get my salad at Hannaford sometimes because of the choice selection at the salad bar. They used to have a decent melon selection as well, but not so much now. However, I can still make a hearty salad with the given options, and this is far healthier than stopping at a fast food restaurant.

Ingredients

iceberg lettuce

Romaine lettuce

baby spinach

shredded carrot

peas

2 hard boiled eggs

chicken

pineapple chunks

strawberries (sometimes)

diced celery

grape tomatoes

cucumber slices

Yummy!

By the way, this is NOT frugal. It fills you up when you are on the run, though. To save money, grow the produce at home and make your own salad 🙂

Shannon