menu.

Well, I said I would let you know how my menu/budget went the last time I went grocery shopping. I am happy to report that I spent $143! Only three bucks over budget. So, I have learned a lesson: it’s better to cook awesome meals than crappy meals, because awesome meals cost just as much.

This next two weeks, I am going with the same philosophy and asking myself, “What am I craving?” Also, Aaron’s parents are coming next week for spring break! And so I’m thinking about them as well. My next menu is….

(holy moly, I made this two weeks ago, and it was so good!)

We are going camping at the Grand Canyon, and my momma-in-law is going to be heading up that department, so our menu is pretty small. Check out the links for the recipes!

I hope you have a lovely weekend! I will be deep cleaning my apartment and resting up from my millionth cold since teaching….

mangos.

Tonight, I am thankful that God created mangos.

Have you had one recently?

Tonight I was making dinner and the recipe called for a mango. I have always assumed that I don’t like mangos because whenever mango is in a smoothie, it just doesn’t sit right with me. Anyways, I was peeling and cutting up this mango, thinking to myself, “Why bother taste it? I don’t really like mangos…I hope I like it mixed in with this recipe, though. How much did this mango cost, again? Probably a waste, shipped over from who knows where…” But I kept looking at this mango, and it smelled so sweet and the juice was running all over the cutting board. It was…tempting. So I took the smallest sliver off my knife and put it on my tongue.

Friends, this mango was like a gift. Like, God blessed me with the only good mango in the world, just so I could have a silver lining in this week. God made mangos! And I picked the very best one out of the five that were sitting under the bright Walmart lights. So, I finished cutting it up, but I could tell there was still some good bits stuck to the pit…friends, I ate that mango, all the way down to the stringy, tough bits. There is nothing left of it.

Now, I have lots of friends who live or have lived overseas where they grow mangos and probably pick them up off the street because mango trees are just chillin’ out everywhere. I have no doubt that your mangos from wherever you are taste ten times better than my Walmart mango. But that’s the thing: knowing that my little mango was probably picked too soon, shipped over the ocean, packaged up in a box, sent on a truck, and arrived in the-middle-of-nowhere, Arizona and it still tasted so delightful, only makes me even more thankful that God created mangos. When He does something, He does it well.

Being Suzy Homemaker…again

Okay, remember that one time when I said that I cook the same exact things every single day of the week? Well that grew really old, really fast. Sure, it worked for a time. But now, just thinking of tacos and fried rice makes me want to throw up.

In fact, I knew it was time to start cooking again when last night Aaron and I didn’t even have a real dinner. The thought of homemade pizza was so repulsive, we just ate crackers with Nutella and salt and vinegar chips and went to bed. That is not a lie, guys. It really happened.

So, I sat down to make up our meal plan this morning and for once, I am not repeating one single meal. See, when you live on a budget, and you go grocery shopping, it’s like your meals have to correspond, they have to relate, even if they are just distant cousins. If I buy 5 pounds of potatoes, I will not waste a single potato. If I buy tomatoes, we are eating tomatoes, and you had better like it because that is my paycheck and it is not headed to the landfill!

Here is what I am making for the next two weeks:

Oven Fish ‘n’ Chips
Moroccan Stew with rice
Fried egg sandwich (for when Aaron is at drill)
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Grilled Eggplant Parmesan with noodles.  

Aaron is making soup, hobos, and omelets.

As you can see, I went off the deep end, here. This menu couldn’t be further in taste and texture than my go-to meals. I just want to taste again! My normal budget for groceries is $140, so I’m praying that it all works out…I’ll let you know. (I realize that the “hope it all works out” mentality + strict budget are two opposite concepts, so I’ll let you know how that works out, too 😉

Being Suzy Homemaker

I love meal planning. When Aaron and I got engaged, one of the things I looked forward to the most was being able to plan all these glorious meals that I saw on Pinterest. They would be nutritious and beautiful and organic and I would blog about them and show pretty pictures and everybody would ask me for my recipes.

And then reality set in. The reality of working full time and having a gazelle-intense budget and just being tired. And so all my Pinterest-y fantasies got thrown out the window.

I have no doubt that there are some women who are superheroes. They probably work longer than me and harder than me and maybe they get paid less or they have children to feed and they still manage to cook things like beef stew or pork roast or something phenomenal. Plus dessert. But, I am not that woman. Maybe one day, but not today. Or tomorrow. Or probably this year. This is the year where I get my bearings being a real-life teacher and cook the same things each week. This also happens to be the year where I lasso Aaron into the kitchen and force him to cook twice a week (in spite of the anxiety on his face, I think he secretly enjoys it…he really is so wonderful).

And so, out of desperation, tiredness, hatred of my mini-kitchen, and because I can, darn it, I have created the most simple meal plan in the universe. It goes something like this:

Sandwich Sunday

Salad Monday

Taco Tuesday

Pizza Soup & Sandwich Casserole Whatever-Aaron-Wants Wednesday (this is the day that clearly caused the most anxiety 😉

Pizza Thursday

Breakfast Friday

Fried Rice Saturday

Ta da! You can steal it if you want to. Originally, I wanted Fried Rice Friday, but Friday is Aaron’s day to cook and he wants to make breakfast. So fried rice got moved to Saturday.

I know, it’s pretty pathetic. I promise if you ever come over for dinner, I’ll make something really special. I’m just waiting for the day when Aaron tells me enough is enough and demands something that takes more than twenty minutes to make (and to be honest, I really wouldn’t blame him).

Working ladies across the world: what do you do to keep meal times simple, nutritional, and inexpensive, yet super delish? I need your secrets!

Life Dilemmas

Tonight for dinner I was really jazzed (ha) about making homemade tomato soup. (I guess it’s not technically homemade….I basically put a couple cans of whole stewed tomatoes, garlic, onion, and olive oil in a pot, heated it up, chucked it in the blender for a few rounds, and heated it up some more).

Anyways, I was super excited because I was positive that this recipe would turn around Aaron’s opinion of tomato soup. He happens to not like it, which is just crazy to me. So, I make it and serve it and wait for Aaron’s reaction. He still wasn’t a fan… Which led us to talking about why he doesn’t like tomato soup. And here is what he said,

“I just think it tastes so much like spaghetti sauce. I mean, what’s the difference, really?”

And it was like once the thought of me sipping on spaghetti sauce got into my head, I just couldn’t shake it. All I could think of was “I’m eating a soupier version of spaghetti sauce. I could literally make spaghetti, toss it in my soup, and not know the difference.”

And now, I have all sorts of questions running through my mind: Should I have made my tomato soup less tomato-y? Should I have blended it some more and made it more watery?  Does anybody else feel this way? Do you make tomato soup? How do you make it less saucy and more soupy?

A fall weekend!

Yay for three day weekends! It was so nice to just spend quality time with each other doing all sorts of Team Blue things. We hiked at Indian Caves, carved pumpkins (and ate the seeds!), watched Ace Ventura, and I finally got a chance to break in the ole CrockPot with some hot apple cider! The only thing that could have made this weekend the ideal fall adventure would be if I got to wear a scarf–80 degree weather is just so anti-Autumn.  Here are some pictures of the lovely autumn foliage and our adventures:

Check back later in the week for….

DIY pin cushion
Wedding pictures and details
Refurnishing vintage red desk

The tomato that changed my life.

Lately I have been reading the book A Matter of Taste: The Definitive Seasoning Cookbook by Sylvia Windle Humphrey. I found it at a thrift store on our honeymoon and it has been an amazing investment. It tells about each spice, its origins, recipes, etc. I have learned so much. But the most amazing thing I read in it is that putting honey and fresh ground black pepper on a tomato brings out its flavors more than salt! When I read that, I knew I had to try it. So, just last night I finally had the opportunity after I botched every other attempt at creating dinner.

It.was.so.heavenly. I ate the entire tomato.

And I’m not even a huge fan of raw tomatoes.