Like many, if not most people, I’ve made a loose resolution to “eat healthier” in the new year. Also like many I’ve resolved to be “better” with my finances, whatever that means.
One area where both these things can get out of control fast is groceries and food in general. With a relatively large household to feed (myself, four teenagers, an eight year old, and whatever friends wander in) it seems like I’m always making meals and constantly need groceries. It gets old fast. I tend to make a lot of the same meals again and again. And again. And again.
The redundant meal rut is especially depressing this time of year. Here in Michigan it’s cold and dark; the holidays are over and we’re just trudging through dingy slush day in and day out. Working third shift tends to accentuate the winter blahs.
In an effort to combat all that seasonal crappiness (don’t get me wrong I love winter but it definitely lends itself to some serious doldrums) I’ve taken (re-taken?) to meal planning and being better at using leftovers. Don’t get too excited, meal planning here literally just means making a list of meals I might make in the upcoming week or two and then trying to grocery shop accordingly. But so far it has helped. I spend more on groceries in one trip but then I don’t have to make those “quick” stops at the store which means fewer impulse buys. I’ve been tracking my spending this month so I should be able to tell if I’m actually spending less on food overall. Fingers crossed! Regardless, we’ve been eating better and more creative (for my less than adventurous bunch) dinners.
Here are some of the cheap, easy, & hopefully somewhat healthy meals we’ve been having…
This one has a few red & yellow peppers, sugar snap peas, matchstick carrots, those little baby corns that come in a cab, & some weird “Mexican potato” tuber. That last ingredient is what I get for taking a kid and my boyfriend grocery shopping with me.
Ham & potato soup
I know this picture is crap but the soup was the bomb dot com! (Yes I know no one says that anymore, that’s why it’s funny now.) This soup has a little dairy & cheese which gives it ax great cheese flavor without making it overly creamy & heavy. Here’s the recipe I used but I left out the peas. I think I just didn’t have any on hand.
Ham Risotto with Bulgar
This one was something totally different for us but I had leftover ham to use up and really didn’t want a boring egg based meal. I’ve only had risotto once & have never made it. When I searched for recipes I was discouraged to learn that you need a specific rice for risotto which, of course, I did not have. (Something about the starch level of the different eucre and how v that absorb moisture) Oddly enough I did have a bag of bulgar that had been sitting in my cupboard for a long time, possibly years.
A quick search uncovered this bulgar risotto recipe. And I had grabbed asparagus at the store just because it looked good. I think this meal was meant to be. Peas were left out again though because I still had not gotten any. I also used cheddar cheese instead of Parmesan… because that’s what I already had. Plus cheddar and ham is such a great flavor combination. It was not a bad move. This was delicious! It was reminiscent of a good creamy macaroni and cheese but with a healthier grain. I will definitely make this risotto again!
It hasn’t been all new and different though. I definitely fall back on some hearty classics like the chicken drumsticks and oven roasted potatoes pictured below. Or meatloaf and baked (leftover) mashed potatoes.
Being more conscientious about what we’re eating has lead to some tasty, hearty winter dinners.