food stamps challenge – week 4 (final week)!

food stampsThree weeks ago, I challenged myself to live on the same budget as a disabled friend of mine whose food stamps budget is $150/month.  I doubled this to $300/month (or $75/week) for my little family of two (assuming benefits would be doubled for two).  I budgeted about $50 for dinners each week, leaving $25 for breakfasts and incidentals (such as ice cream!).  I thought a single person could still follow this plan by freezing half of the recipes for use later in the month.

This is the final week of my month-long challenge, and I think it has been a success, at least for me personally.  The budget constraints forced me to change my usual show-up-at-the-store-with-a-debit-card shopping method.  Instead, I sat down at the beginning of every week and started by noting what was on sale that week, factoring in what I had in my pantry and building a menu from there. Continue reading


chili-corn tot bake… with bonus breakfast!

092713chilicornNeither of us has outgrown our love for tater tots… which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is the foundation of a strong and happy marriage!

I’ve made a tater tot casserole before using ground beef and cream-of- something soup, which was great, but this is it’s hotter, sexier cousin.  The chili underneath really adds another layer (no pun intended) of complexity and flavor.

Why be boring when you can be sassy?

As a bonus, you can use the other half of the tater tots as an easy and delicious breakfast the next day.  Double duty deliciousness!

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cajun macaroni and cheese skillet

092613 mealI love skillet meals, because they’re so easy… fry this up, add that, stir this in, leave it awhile and – presto, magic-o! – a delicious meal appears.

This meal was no exception, but I’d recommend making it in a big ol’ pot, as the pasta expands quite a bit as it cooks.  Somehow, “Cajun Macaroni and Cheese Pot” doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

This was, quite honestly, a welcome respite from what has seemed like a lot of meat-cheese-potato meals we’ve been having lately.  Even though it had the meat and cheese, the Creole/Cajun seasoning added a nice little kick and took this recipe to a very delicious level.

Very refreshing.  I’ll definitely be making this one again!

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italian shepherd’s pie

This meal was so delicious, it’s making it into my stash of favorite recipes!092513meal

Unbelievably good and ooey, gooey, comfort foody.

I guess I was too close to smell it anymore, but when my husband came home last night, he’s like, “What smells so good?”… smells great, tastes even better!  I really can’t say enough good things about it.

I had to make some changes to the instructions, based on previous experience.  If you make this dish, I highly recommend you make these changes as well.

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turkey and corn enchilada casserole

We love us some Mexican/Southwest-inspired meals, so I was pretty happy to have found this recipe on a week when we have sooo much ground turkey laying around.  We’re supposed to use only half of a pound of the ground turkey (saving the other for another day), but I just went ahead and used the other half too… just add a bit more chili powder and cumin to make sure it isn’t bland.

NOTE: This was the second meal using this particular cookbook, and unless you are cooking for hungry men and teenagers, these 9 x 13″ casseroles make more than 4 servings – more like 6 – 8 servings.  For both of them, I’ve ended up putting 2 servings into the freezer to eat on the weekend… great for the money-saving aspect, but that sucker’s already full.  It’s so bizarre to have so much food spending so little – I feel like we’re having a little “loaves and fishes” miracle, like my food is multiplying!  A great “problem” to have, but I was not prepared for that.  I need more freezer-safe storage containers!

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meat and potatoes casserole

092313 meat and potatoes

So last night was our first night of Turkey Week (as I’ve come to call it).  I was expecting this casserole to be about as good/bad as the casserole from last Monday, but it was actually pretty tasty.

It is much better if you mix it all up on your plate rather than eating each ingredient separately… get yourself a good forkful there!

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eichler, apple and the greek

photo credit:

photo credit:

This post is a labor of love for my husband.  We were watching an episode of House Hunters: Renovation last night, and the artsy couple featured mentioned “Eichler” when they were looking at this funky mid-century modern house. “Oh, hey now,” said The Greek, “we’ll have to look that up later.”  He is a sucker for mid-century modern, clean lines, German engineering and (surprise) Apple products… and he loves to know things.  Continue reading