Sunday, September 20, 2009

creative feeding

due to a serious deficit in our checking account, i'm playing the game 'how low can you go' with our pantry and challenging myself to see how long i can stay away from the grocery stores.

we have a endless supply of chicken at our disposal, i just need to butcher as needed. so, we'll be having a lot of chicken dishes.

in the garden, we have lots of tasteless tomatoes (thanks to a cool, wet summer) that i'm hoping will improve with cooking. we also have a lot of bell peppers that i'm waiting to ripen, right now they are all green. the newly planted kale and chard are ready for small pickings. we've harvested a large amount of potatoes, butternut squash and onions and soon jerusalem artichokes will be ready for winter digging.

greg planted turnips in with the clover/alfalfa seed mix for the new pasture. the goats aren't crazy about them so i'll be harvesting them as needed to add to the mix.

add lots of milk and a few eggs to the mix and that's our basis for meals. in the pantry, i have limited amounts of olive oil, flour, rolled oats, brown rice, garbanzos, lentils, red, black and pinto beans, cornmeal and sugar. plus, about 3 gallons of honey from our hives.

in the freezer, we have about 4 chuck roasts, 3# ground beef, 3 packs of bacon, 3 packs of shrimp, 1 pack each of tuna and salmon, 2# butter, 1 1/2 gallons of blueberries and 1 gallon cherries.

the challenge is going to be getting creative with the chicken and disguising it in other things so that we won't get tired of it. we could eat steak daily around here and never tire of it but chicken gets boring really quickly.

here's my short list of meals:
chicken fajitas
chicken burritos
chicken and dumplings
chicken caccitore
chicken noodles
chicken pot pie
chicken lasagna
barbecue chicken
stewed chicken
chicken with pesto and noodles
baked chicken (this might not be so good, the hens are old and have to be stewed off the bones first before using)

i'm figuring for every 3 chicken meals, we can have 1 non chicken meal. going like this, we should be able to stay out of the grocery stores for 1-2 months. hopefully by then, something will come along financially to let us breathe a little but personally, i'm looking forward to the challenge. this summer has been a huge slump for me and i'm looking forward to something new and different.

i will most likely have to go once or twice to stock back up on butter and half and half (for greg's coffee) but those trips will be few and far between and the kids will not go with me to negatively influence me in the purchase of unnecessary junk (ice cream, chocolate, candy, gum...). getting all the kids broken of the nightly ice cream habit will be nice because that alone costs us a fortune (a quart a day at $4.29/quart adds up pretty quickly). now i'm trying to come up with alternative nighttime snack options. so far, winners are:
homemade pretzels (the large kind)
cookies or brownies (frozen and doled out a few a day)

this is definitely going to put me back on the slow life track! i'm looking forward to the lessons to be learned from it.

what's the longest you've ever gone w/o going to the grocery store?


sheila said...

For me I think 3 weeks is the longest I've gone without grocery shopping.

My mother used to not go to stores for months at a time. My father had his own business and more often than not money would be tight and he wouldn't cash his paychecks because they would have bounced. He made sure all his employees and his business partners checks would clear. I know my father eventually bought his business partners share of the company with all his uncashed paychecks. So my mother would go for weeks and sometimes a month or two with no cash. Winters were really tight, that was when the business would slow down and not have many sales. So every summer when cash flow was a bit better my mother would raise a huge garden, 100 meat chickens and a couple of hogs. She used to can 1,000 quarts (200-300 quarts of these were tomatoes) of stuff every year and there were 2 huge freezers full going into fall. We went to U-pick orchards and picked cherries, peaches, pears, apples, plums. Wild blueberries, strawberries, grapes, elderberries, etc we made into jams and jellies. Before winter hit we had bushels of potatoes, onions and winter squash tucked into the cellar. My father would hunt deer and fish also. I'm pretty sure they weren't all legally taken either (statute of limitations has run out on that one). Lucky for us my grandparents had a dairy farm and we would get beef and milk from them. I think my grandfather gave it to us to make sure us kids had enough to eat. Eggs came from my grandfathers cousin. She had several thousand laying hens and sold eggs. Again I think my grandfather worked out some kind of deal with her. Beef was traded for eggs I believe. Spring was really tight some years. We were desperate for some green stuff. Dandelion greens and ramps were a treat. I remember digging the first horseradish as soon as the snow melted and grinding it up to make the sprouting potatoes (we mashed them when they got this old) in the cellar more palatable. It was a lot of work, but I think we were very healthy. Don't remember any major medical issues.

Good luck with your challenge to avoid the stores. It is kind of fun in a strange sort of way.

Gina said...

I think you'll do wonderfully on your challenge-your dishes sound great!

I tried very hard to only shop 4 times a year. I was pretty good about not having big shopping trips, but I made a lot of little stops to the store and I think I spent way more than I should have with my method.

Money has been tight for us too and Sr's work has him on limited work again (yuck). I am trying to pocket my per diem money out here in LA by buying beans and such and not eating out (it is still expensive and I get so hungry!!)

When I get home I plan to follow a similar regime. Winter is coming and that means heating bills.

I hope you keep us posted on how you are doing!

jenny said...

Before kids, we could easily go for a month without heading to the store, but now, with 4 kids, that makes it a little harder for us to stay away, especially in the milk dept. We go through nearly a gallon of milk a day, and I just don't have the space to stock up-- we usually buy 6 when we go to the store.

Money is tight for us, too. Hubby's hours have been cut back and he gets only 15 to 20 hours per week now. We're used to lean times, but this could break us. Makes me sorry for some of my more frivolous purchases the past couple of months.

Good luck on your challenge, with all you grow and raise, it sounds to me like you'll do alright.

Teriyaki chicken with carrots, broccoli and rice is a yummy dish. I just made that for dinner tonight. I'll be happy to share my recipe if you like.

Anonymous said...

I'm aiming to do six months with no grocery shopping. I'm slightly terrified that we'll eat soup, applesauce, and bread with little variation. However, I'm hoping it'll challenge me to get creative.

It might be fun to work on this together yet separate... Good luck, let's share recipes. I have the utmost faith in your skills.

Samantha said...

try this for some ispiration and an "ice cream treat" for ya'll. it is really pretty good. I got it from hillbilly housewife site and i have used it lots of times!

Magic Milk Shakes
• 2 cups ice water (more ice than water)
• 1-1/2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 to 1-1/2 trays of ice cubes, as much as you can spare
2 tablespoons oil (optional) plus a squirt of non-stick spray for emulsification purposes

Place all of the ingredients into the blender. It should be about 3/4's full. Place the lid on. Process for a full 2 minutes. Pour into cups and serve. Makes 4 - 12oz servings.
I love this recipe because it makes very rich milk shakes without any icecream. I don't always have ice cream in the house because the kids eat it so fast. With this recipe we can have delicious frosty milk shakes for a fraction of the cost of those using ice cream. And all the ingredients are on the pantry shelf.
• Add 1 tablespoon of instant coffee for a mocha shake
• Add 1 very ripe banana for a chocolate banana shake
• Add a big spoonful of peanutbutter for a decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake.
• Add a few broken red and white candy mints for a refreshing Chocolate Mint shake.
• To make Vanilla Milk Shakes, omit the cocoa powder, reduce the sugar to 1/2-cup and add 1 tablespoon (yes a full tablespoon) of vanilla flavoring. For a french vanilla milk shake crack in an egg too.
Note: The oil gives the shakes a rich flavor, similar to Wendy's Frosties. You can leave it out for fat-free shakes if you prefer. The nonstick spray helps the oil emulsify with the milk. It is also optional.

as far as how long. i have made it about a month, but we have not started canning or preserving yet. just a newbie in the garden area :) You can check out the hillbilly housewife site and get some good ideas and recipes, most need a bit of tweaking with seasonings (i tend to add more) but i am sure you will do great!

don't forget chicken taco or chicken enchiladas

another place to look is at as she has some really great recipes on there with beans. I have tried them all and they are so good! beans make great meals!

Jennifer said...

I say hey hey to Hillbilly Housewife. The recipes there have been a life saver when I've had to pinch pennies (which seem like always. lol). I usually only go shopping once a month and pick up milk weekly. I do have dried milk for up to three months if needed but we prefer not to drink that if we don't have to. Also I'm not sure where you are located but if you have an Aldi's anywhere near you check them out. I spend about $150-200 a month for a family of four and I don't have nearly the homestead resources that you do. (I have a very small garden and that has been it) I would think you could get a few misc. type items to make some more varied meals for very cheap.

I also have a few more suggestions for chicken that you didn't list
chicken parm (can use some of those tomatoes for a sauce)
Chicken chili
Chicken Francese

Carla said...

You ladies are an inspiration...Thanks, Samantha, for that milk shake recipe.

Time for me to re-read "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder...

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