Five Weeks, 35 Days, 105 Meals

I ended last week’s post mentioning all the baking I was doing Friday and Saturday.

Back in September, I knew my plan was to start my pantry challenge the week before Thanksgiving, so I signed up to bring snacks to 4H at the November meeting (which is the first Monday), and I signed up to bring snacks to church the Sunday immediately before that.

That way, I could make snacks for both and have the liberty of going to the store to get whatever I needed or wanted in order to contribute those.

Then we started the pantry challenge seven weeks ahead of when I originally intended, and was left to create snacks I could bring to both of those commitments without going to the store for any ingredients, but only use what we already had on hand.

It made me laugh that I had specifically chosen those dates to avoid being in my pantry challenge, and yet it wasn’t meant to be…

Not surprisingly, the Lord provided the creativity and the ingredients to make both a success.

Sunday (11/3) started off with our Sunday-routine mufflettes. Apparently, though, I ruined them by adding diced bell pepper. Hubs and I thought they were quite good, but the kids disagreed.

I loaded up the car with the snacks I made to bring to church: Ground cherry coffee cake muffins (my favorite), rhubarb apple muffins, and pumpkin muffins. The ground cherries, rhubarb, and pumpkin were all grown in our garden.

Lunch was grilled cheese sandwiches for the kids, leftover hash and beans for me, and Hubs had his new favorite of havarti cheese with pecans. He has a sophisticated palate.

(We took a brief family Sabbath hiatus to travel to some friends’ house and picked up four more laying hens, so things just got a lot more theatrical in the backyard…)

Dinner was leftover potato/beef/cheese soup, while Hubs had a thick slice of ham and a fried egg, and our Family Sabbath day was wrapped up.

Monday morning was a busy one, and we had to start the day with a bang. As the chickens are slowing down with their egg production and the hours of dark are longer than the hours of light, I have to conserve our eggs (along with our bacon). Breakfast, therefore, was leftover muffins from the previous day’s treats, and yogurt.

Lunch was mac and cheese for the kids, cooked as much to fill them as to warm them. Snow had begun to fall quickly and it turned bitterly cold outside. I had leftover soup and it hit the spot!

Dinner was packed to go, since we had a ridiculous afternoon and evening of activity. I made the kids PB&J sandwiches, packed along a baggie of popcorn (already popped, of course), and slices of salmi and cheese. I packed myself some salami sandwiched between two slices of havarti, a yogurt, and one of my ever-treasured sea salt chocolate bars (from Aldi). Hubs fried him up some eggs and bacon while he enjoyed a productive evening at home alone.

For the 4H snack, I frosted pumpkin muffins with homemade cream cheese frosting and turned them into cupcakes, sliced up some apples for the healthy kids, served up popcorn in a big bowl, and also made a batch of 3-ingredient no bake cookie bites. It was not the least bit fancy and was a complete and total mish-mash, but it was also gobbled up in no time.

Breakfast Tuesday was the last of the package of bacon in the fridge and scrambled eggs. Each child may have also gotten a pumpkin cupcake, because #spoiled.

For lunch, we all had leftover soup, and it was a perfect day for it, too. It’s getting quite cold here, and we’re not even to the coldest part of the year yet.

Dinner was – well, I’ll give you three guesses and the first two aren’t necessary… Tacos.

Here’s the deal. Once you’ve made homemade tortillas, you can never go back to store-bought. This has become my favorite thing to make, ever, and I can’t stop, won’t stop.

We are running low on ground beef, however, so I’m going to have to scale back on the taco consumption, or figure something else out for the tortilla filling.

Breakfast Wednesday was scrambled eggs and muffins.

Lunch was more leftover soup – I made so much soup on Saturday. We all love it, though, so it’s not at all a bad thing. It was a good day for it, too, because BRRR!

I also cooked one of our meat birds in the Instant Pot to shred up for Hubs to use in his lunches for the next several work days. I think that puts us down to 14 meat birds left in the freezer, in case you’re keeping count…

Dinner was ham slices, roasted red potatoes, pureed buttercup squash with butter and cinnamon, and peaches. It was a savory fall feast, though we had to eat it quickly as the kids were heading to Awana.

Thursday morning we had muffins and yogurt for breakfast, and if we could have crawled into the toaster oven with the muffins, we would have.

Lunch was the last of the potato soup, and we were sorry to have to slurp it all down. I’m so grateful I made way too much soup last Saturday, and so long as the potatoes last us, we’ll be making more of our favorite soup.

Dinner was a simple meal of beef stew and biscuits, while Hubs finished off the last of the leftover ham and had a few eggs to accompany it. Little Man helped me with the biscuits and heating the stew on the stove and told me, “I will always be ready to be your big helper.”

If that isn’t the sweetest…

I also made two more loaves of bread, since we had gone through last week’s loaves and I was procrastinating on making more. I don’t know why, it’s simple enough and it makes the house smell amazing.

Friday breakfast was eggs for everybody, Little Man had a slice of bacon and of toast with his, Little Miss had two slices of toast, and Hubs and I had chopped bacon added to our scrambled eggs.

Lunch was a free for all. Little Miss had the last of the leftover stew, Little Man had a grilled cheese sandwich, Hubs had his shredded chicken/egg concoction, and I had a Havarti cheese/salami sandwich.

Dinner was steaks I had cut from a roast before freezing. We cooked them in the sous vide all day (in bags with garlic, butter, and a little olive oil) and finished them off by searing them (in more butter) in the cast iron skillet. Roasts are a great way to get inexpensive steaks, but they can be quite tough – so cooking them in the sous vide is the way to do it.

I served them up with some saut̩ed zucchini and mashed potatoes, and the kids had the last of the biscuits as well. It was delicious Рand a simple but hearty meal of steak and veggies was very much appreciated.

We had planned to spend the next day with friends, so I was up late baking pumpkin chocolate chip muffins to take along.

Saturday morning we had a slightly frazzled breakfast, and Hubs was not feeling so hot. We cancelled our plans to go to our friends’ house, and therefore we had pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and yogurt for breakfast, though Hubs had a couple of eggs and some bacon.

For lunch, I made grilled cheese and turkey sandwiches for the kiddos and me, and Hubs watched football. He skipped lunch.

It started to snow again outside, and I decided it would be the perfect afternoon to bake up some apple pies for the freezer. I made two: one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas. I still had a few apples left, so made a third pie for us to enjoy fresh on our family Sabbath.

For dinner, we had hot dogs, mac and cheese, and applesauce.

I spent the latter part of the evening getting everything prepared in advance for our family Sabbath the next day.

It had been an eventful and tiresome week, and I was thankful for the simpler, more casual feel of our meals in the evenings.

My creativity in menu planning, however, is beginning to wane. I can tell that in the days and weeks to come, I’m going to have to dig deep to make meals we won’t tire of.

I’m hopeful as the winter [officially] begins and the following weeks go on, our calendar/activity schedule will be emptier and emptier, our hearts and bellies fuller.

The Lord has already shown me we can’t do it all (nor are we meant to), so I might as well stop trying to prove Him wrong, and reign in our activities and be more intentional with our time together at home – and with Him.

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