I'm getting bored with calling these posts "Meal Plan". It's really a weekly review, but I didn't want to call it that either. At one point I thought of making the tag line of this blog "thoughts on food", so I'm trying something like that. I was also going to append to that to give it a ridiculously long title, but I guess that's what subheaders are for.
So to start off, my whiteboard pic is back, and completely unedited!
Hummus had already been on my to-make list for a while, but when I thought about the tomatoes that I didn't have a use for, I figured I could turn my hummus snack idea into a meal and make Mediterranean Hummus Bowls. That also used up onions.
Like I said earlier, I made Beef and Pineapple Enchiladas so I could use up some corn tortillas, scallions, and the rest of my pineapple chunks. Plus that worked really well with the hummus bowls since I could use half the ground beef for each dish.
See that extra can in the back that's covered? Those are more chickpeas. You can never be too well-stocked on chickpeas. (Especially because I needed both of those cans this week) But you know what Aldi was missing? Tomato paste! I've never seen tomato paste run out at Aldi!
So I was just going to cut my losses and deal with having less tomato paste than my enchiladas called for (which honestly, would have been fine) but as I saw it snowing on Sunday I thought "This is perfect grocery shopping weather!" (because it's way less crowded.)
And you know what's even more perfect? Buying ice cream when it's snowing. Because I can walk at whatever pace I want and know it won't melt. (Also because it's always a good time to buy ice cream.)
So I'm standing in the gigantic ice cream aisle and I come to the same conclusion that I do every time I go to Giant Eagle: Giant Eagle has the WORST ice cream selection. It makes me angry. Every. Single. Time.
WHY are there SO many varieties of vanilla ice cream?! Turkey Hill has "Original Vanilla", "French Vanilla", "Vanilla Bean", and even "Homemade Vanilla"! (not pictured because there's not enough space in the picture to even capture the insanity) Turkey Hill, I know that you did not make that vanilla ice cream in a home. Don't give me that false advertising.
If one of my close friends read this, he would say "Meyling, you're just mad they don't have coffee ice cream." And he would be right. I am mad at Giant Eagle's lack of coffee ice cream. Coffee is a staple. You can't tell me you need four varieties of vanilla, but you don't need coffee.
You're probably wondering, did you even buy any ice cream? Well, I sorta did.
Breyer's was on sale so I settled for their "Frozen Dairy Dessert" that we all know is not real ice cream. I also tried a so-ridiculously-expensive-that-I-don't-want-to-say-how-much-it-was Leona's ice cream sandwich that was labeled "Chai Tea/Coffee". I still don't know if it was the ice cream that was supposedly coffee-flavored or the cookie.
Okay. Ice cream rant over. Here's what I ate this past week.
|Saturday||Bagel||Shrimp Scampi Florentine||Hummus Bowl|
|Sunday||Bagel||Enchiladas||Rice w/ 腊肉 & Kimchi|
|Monday||Ramen Eggs||Rice w/ 腊肉 & Kimchi||Hummus Bowl|
|Tuesday||Fried Eggs w/ Rice||Enchiladas||Mac n Cheese|
|Wednesday||Fried Eggs w/ Rice||Hummus Bowl||Rice w/ Beef Jerky & Kimchi|
|Thursday||Mac n Cheese||Enchiladas||Hummus Bowl|
|Friday||Hummus w/ Carrots||Rice w/ Beef Jerky & Kimchi||Takeout: Dim Sum|
I don't think I'll ever order from that dim sum place again. I miss real dim sum. When we get back to a normal, COVID-19-free world, that's the first thing I'm eating.
The other day, I had a sudden craving for some spring rolls.
Okay, those pictures are from July. But that's the last time I made spring rolls for myself! I was totally due for another spring roll meal. I know, it's getting colder out, and spring rolls are totally a summer thing. (Or a...spring...thing I guess)
Anyway, here's the spring roll spread I had a week ago.
Honestly, the ones I made back in July were a lot better. A few things about these spring rolls that I recently made:
I was feeling so exhausted just from being in two grocery stores that I decided to head home, BUT I STILL NEEDED MY BASIL. I drove to the Asian store again the next day just to get it. And with my large amounts of basil and mint, I made some stir fry.
So good. So worth the many trips to the grocery store.
Day 4 (Sunday): We are running low on groceries. Especially vegetables. We are completely out of garnish at this point, and I am looking at our list of foods wondering what I can scrape together. I did impulse-buy some fish. And I have some oranges. Hey, maybe I can make that same Winter Citrus salmon my sister and I made last year.
Hmm, but I only have Cara Cara oranges. And I don't have limes. But I do have a lemon! So this is just going to be really...orange. But what can I do for veggies? I still had two bell peppers, and I always have onions on stock. I remembered that I have some fajita seasoning that mixed up a while back. Fajita veggies. BAM. I just need some starch. Since I already did chicken broth rice with the tacos, I figured I'd do something different and make yellow rice this time. Which is making this dish REAL yellow, but whatever. It is delicious.
Day 5 (Monday): I actually have one more planned meal! I saw this sausage and broccoli recipe on Budget Bytes that I wanted to try.
And now I remember why I had extra bell peppers. I was totally saving one for this recipe. Well, we're just omitting that part and using extra onions. And I'm pretty sure that used up our whole onion supply as well.
And so that's it. That's all the meals I could possibly make from what we initially bought on Thursday. Could we have made it two extra days? Honestly, we totally could have. We have leftovers from all the dishes we cooked. Plus we could grab takeout! But we are dangerously low on butter and flour. And my sister is a baker and I will not stop her from baking!
Day 6 (Tuesday): Yeah, turns out the grocery stores have even less butter and flour than I do. I know, I said I'd be flexible and creative, but how the heck are we supposed to bake things without flour?! You can't replace flour! I mean you can use flour substitutes, but those are all gone too! I went to way too many grocery stores. I was out so much longer than I should have been. BUT I WAS DETERMINED TO FIND FLOUR. I actually found some at Target. Thank goodness, because I did not want to have to hit up Rite Aid and the dollar store.
Also, we bought way too many things, and I am never trying to buy two weeks worth of food at once ever again.
Oh you know what else we had trouble finding? Frozen mangoes. We found frozen strawberries, frozen pineapples, frozen peaches, but no frozen mangoes. Well, sorta. We did grab a bag of frozen mixed fruit that just happened to have some mangoes in it. My sister really wanted to make mango lassi, so we went and picked out all of the mangoes in this bag of fruit.
Anyway, we needed something easy for dinner after that whole experience, so we made spring rolls!
When my sister was living with me, I was cooking almost every day. We kept cooking and cooking, and it seemed like we had so much food, but whenever I took a break from cooking for one day, it's like all the food disappeared. Well, I had this crazy realization this week that when I'm by myself I could cook three dishes during the weekend and then not have to cook at all during the week.
I know, that's what meal prepping is. But when people say they meal prep, I always envision them cooking two dishes on Sunday and then dividing everything up into individual portions in tupperware containers. Which sounds boring. I like to make every meal feel like a special accomplishment.
And you know what I accomplished this week? I only spent $16 on groceries! On the flip side, I also ate out four times, but one of those meals was on my company's dime.
I'm trying to make sure I include some low effort meals that will last me a while. This chicken rice dish requires very little chopping, and I can make it last six meals. With pasta, I try to not make it last so many meals because I get sick of it easily, but this rice dish still tastes great on the sixth day in a row.
What's nice about this dish is that I can split up the rice and chicken, and then use those individual parts for other meals. I saw asparagus on sale at Aldi for $1.49/lb, which usually isn't that great because Aldi tends to stock suuuper skinny asparagus sticks, and who wants that? But this time the asparagus actually looked decently sized!
I actually made this same asparagus recipe about a month ago when my mom visited, but it didn't quite turn out so well since I was flailing in my kitchen trying to cook three things at once. This time I could just focus on asparagus. The recipe calls for shallots, which I replaced with onions because no one on a budget should ever buy shallots. The recipe also said to cook these for 20-25 minutes. That is way way way too long. I had these in the oven for about 12 minutes and I still think they were in there for a tad too long.
I was very satisfied with the way the asparagus turned out though. The combination of bacon, onion, and parmesan made it very flavorful.
My final dish of the week is Huevos Rancheros, which I was happy to stumble upon a recipe for it since it's probably my favorite brunch dish. Now I personally hate the idea of brunch. You take two perfectly good meals and squash them into one meal, and then get charged way more than you should be charged for either meal. Why would I ever choose to eat one meal over two meals? I've been to a lot of hipster brunch places, and they all feel exactly the same. They serve pancakes, chicken and waffles, and a bunch of random things with an egg on top. And then they try to get you to buy alcohol to make the meal even more extravagant.
But having brunch at home? That's a much better idea. Of course, I didn't make these for brunch. I ate these for breakfast and still had lunch later.
These Huevos Rancheros were okay, but I think the recipe could use a lot of tweaks. The salsa has way too much water, so I would cut that in half. It could also use some more salt and maybe some other spices. I just found it lacking. I also think two eggs is too much. There are plenty of days where I only eat two eggs for breakfast, so having that plus a bunch of other stuff is overkill. The recipe just says to arrange two tortillas on a plate, but I think it's better to first make sure the tortilla is toasted and crispy, and then break it up into nacho sized pieces.
I also substituted the refried beans for some pulled pork that had been sitting in my freezer for a while. Having to use three pans to cook breakfast is a bit much so I wanted to take whatever shortcuts I could. But...I guess this is supposed to be a brunch recipe. And brunch is fancy.
Oh, also I just really wanted to post a picture of more fajitas since I had this two more times this past week. This time I toasted the tortillas on the pan and threw some cheese on top which made them even better.