March 19, 2014

{Suzy Homemaker} Meal Planning & Bread Making

Starting March 1st Paul and I decided we were going to make a budget and try really hard to stick with it. Now if you have been on this journey with me for any length of time then you know how much I dislike a budget. I don't like having to think about what I am spending but at the same time by only having a set amount of cash each month I do make much better choices in what I  purchase.

The first thing I did when Paul mentioned that I would be sticking to a set amount this month was figure out what to do with our large grocery bill. I wanted a $1200 budget for groceries which includes going out to eat, groceries and household items such as cleaning products, paper towels and toilet paper along with diapers. In the end I got $1000 and we decided we would see how we needed to adjust the amount for next month. The night before we did our big grocery trip for the month I sat down and went through my file of recipes. I picked out meals I wanted to make and made my grocery list. I do not set a certain meal for each night of the week because it just doesn't work for me. Some days I feel like Mexican and other nights it is the last thing that sounds good. Also depending on how the day unfolds I may only have 30 minutes to prepare dinner and I can't always plan ahead of time how much prep time I will have. As I found each recipe I wrote it down on a list so I would remember what I had bought ingredients for and then added the items I would need to pick up at the store on another list. Our first grocery trip ran about $650 between Costco/Sams & Walmart. This did include 2 boxes of diapers and a box of wipes which totals over $100. One of my least favorite things to spend money on!
A project I had planned to work on during bed rest and it still is in need of a major redesign. My recipe collection is over filling. The binder is broken because I use it all the time. I have so many recipes that are just piled on top because I have no more room. I do not want to upload them all to the computer because I like actually having the recipe in hand. I need to divide my binder into two binders but that will have to wait for a rainy day. 
Out of these groceries I had about 15 different items on my 'to make' list. Some were full meals and others were things like muffins, bread, and hash browns. I also made 4 chicken meals for the freezer which has been great for Paul to make on the evenings that I am working.  The first meals I choose to make were based off of which vegetables would go bad first. There was one night gumbo was made after I had gotten our van stuck in the mud. I knew Paul wasn't going to be thrilled with his wife so I thought I would make him his favorite meal. The girls were quick to let grandma and daddy know that I was making gumbo so he wouldn't be mad at mommy!
My meal list and my grocery shopping list. I divide the grocery list into two sides: Costco/Sams & Walmart. Makes it so much easier when I am shopping. 
We have now made it to the middle of March and if it wasn't for having company coming next week we would have been able to make it to the end of the month with only a stop to pick up eggs, milk and some more fruit (I would have had enough milk to last the month if it wouldn't have taken me four tries to make homemade yogurt which used up 2 gallons of milk). We still have a handful of meals to make of off our original list and then I still have the staples in our house to fix up meals for the remaining evenings. It has actually been really nice to already have a list of meals to pull from and to know we have the ingredients for those recipes.
{Suzy Homemaker}
With a family of 9 when we make things with bread such as grilled cheese or french toast we go through an entire loaf. Now bread isn't super expensive but over time it will add up at over $3 a loaf. As I was perusing a new cookbook I came across a bread recipe that only had 6 ingredients and sugar was not one of them. It also stated that each loaf cost less than $1. I was willing to give it a try and was super impressed when we all sampled it for the first time. It has a crispy crust but a soft middle. It taste great toasted but also pairs well with the fixings for a sandwich. The other great thing is it freezes well and taste just the same as if it had just come out of the oven. And again it only has SIX ingredients, requires NO kneading and takes only 2 hours to rise.

 A 3 year old and six ingredients is all it takes to make some yummy bread. 

Mix together 1 tsp instant yeast, 3 1/2 cups warm water, 5 1/2 cups white flour, 1 3/4 whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup flax-seed, and 4 tsp kosher salt.

One must then get approval from the chef before continuing. My kids get the love of raw dough from their mom. Weird I know but we all like it!

The dough is a loose dough once mixed. It will turn out, trust me.

Grease two 9 by 5 loaf pans and divide the dough between the two pans. 
Then cover with a white dish towel and allow to rise. 

After 2 hours of rising, the dough should be at the top of the pans and it is time to bake. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Yes 450 degrees. I was very nervous to cook bread at this temperature for that long but it really turns out and will not be charred when done. 

After 30 minutes remove the bread from the pans and place directly on the oven rack for 15 minutes while still at 450 degrees. This is where it gets its crispy outside. 

Once it cools it is time to slice it open (if you can wait til it cools!!) or wrap and freeze it. To slice the bread perfectly I opened one of our wedding gifts, an electric bread knife. Who knew almost 12 years after our wedding I would still be opening gifts! 

I have half a loaf of Everyday Bread on my counter that we ate with eggs this morning, a loaf in my freezer and 2 loafs rising on the stove at this very moment. I got creative today though and added rosemary to one loaf and kalamata olives to the other. I will let you know how my creativity turns out. Thinking there may be some bread dipping in balsamic tonight for dinner. 

Everyday Bread
Neutral vegetable oil, for greasing
1 tsp instant yeast
3 1/2 cups water, at room temperature
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup flax-seeds (optional)
4 tsp kosher salt
1. Oil the inside of two 9 by 5-inch loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl, mix the yeast, water, flours, seeds (if using), and salt. Scrape thee dough into the pans.         Drape with a clean, dish towel and let rise for about 2 hours until level with the tops of the pans.
3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
4. Bake loaves for 30 minutes.
5. Remove the bread from the pans, return to the oven and let bake directly on the rack for 15 minutes             more. The bread is done when it is richly colored and sounds hollow when tapped.
6. Cool bread before slicing and store in a paper bag for up to a week. For longer storage, wrap tightly and       freeze.


1 comment:

  1. I do the same thing as a "menu". I make a list of meals then decide that day or day before what works best. My recipe binder has turned into 4 binders. And my pinterest recipes are way out of hand. Oiy! I may have a recipe addiction.


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