BudgetsFood

February Money Challenge

No eating out: easier said than done!
 
The original goal was to not eat out at all. This changed when I talked to my husband and he suggested that we use all of our gift cards/groupons that we’ve been hoarding for no reason.
 
Weekends were the most challenging during this time. I get tired of the routine of making dinner before (in the crockpot) or after work. I wanted to #treatyoself to some nice food! Let’s see how I did.
 

First Weekend

What I wanted to eat:

Scallop special from our neighborhood restaurant
 

What I made instead:

http://www.glutenfreehomestead.com/2014/01/gluten-free-eggplant-rollatini/
 
Here’s the story: I was making a bunch of food for various things, including the super bowl, on Saturday. I had planned to make this dish for Monday for #meatlessMonday but I was going to prep it ahead of time so it would be easy to finish up for dinner.  I was going to make a cod dish for dinner Saturday but it kept getting later and later.* I eventually realized that a) the piece of cod I had in the fridge was not enough for two people and b) I did not have the time or energy to start an entirely new dish. So I decided to finish this rollatini while I was watching UNC beat up on Pitt. *Shoutout to the hours I spent at the grocery store trying to decipher whether the shredded cheese and chili mix were gluten-free.
 
The problem with this dish is that you’re supposed to slice the egglant into strips, but eggplant is not a straight up and down vegetable. So my strips were misshapen and varying levels of size and thickness.  Then you dredge the strips in egg then gf breadcrumbs and cheese and fry it.  Some of the breadcrumbs burned in the pan which gave all the remaining strips a smoky flavor (which wasn’t bad). It also nearly set off my smoke detector multiple times.  Also, I was so tired at the end that I forgot to put the marinara and cheese on top.  So mine were not as delicious, and definitely not as pretty as the ones in the picture.  But luckily I have a husband who will eat my disastrous food and then clean up the disaster zone that I made in the kitchen afterward.
 

Fails

On Sunday, I had a college friend in town that I hadn’t seen in FOREVER so I made plans to join her and her friends at brunch.  I was driving to church before brunch, thinking about what I was going to order at the restaurant, when I remembered this monthly challenge. By that point, it would have been weird to cancel my plans so I kept them.  There were a lot of times I said “oops” this weekend but I resisted the scallops special so I’m giving myself a gold star.
 

Second week:

Fails

Still struggling with this challenge. I went out on the 13th for Galentine’s Day with some friends and was only planning to have drinks. But then someone suggested a cheese plate and you know I can’t resist a cheese plate.  Then the next day was Valentine’s Day, of course.  I had thought I would buy some nice steaks or something and cook at home. Then the husband suggested Quizzo, which I also can’t resist.  We ended up getting nachos there – can you tell I really love cheese?

What I resisted:

Nothing, apparently.

What I cooked:

*Vegetarian chili: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/14021/grandmas-slow-cooker-vegetarian-chili/. This was delicious and Scott even took it to work all the next week.
 
*Chicken and wild rice soup: http://pinchofyum.com/crockpot-chicken-wild-rice-soup -. I couldn’t find pure wild rice at the grocery.  I used a combination of wild and long-grain rice instead. That made it turn into a mush, instead of a soup but it still tasted very good.
 
*Whole chicken with mushrooms and Brussels sprouts. This was a combination of a couple different recipes. I browned some onions and put them, trimmed Brussels sprouts, and pre-chopped mushrooms in a crockpot.  Then I patted a whole chicken dry, rubbed a half of lemon over it, and put Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper all over it. Then I put garlic and the other half of that lemon inside it (after taking the gizzard package out of course).  I put that on top of the veggies in the crock pot and tossed in some chicken stock (left over from the rice soup/mush conception). I cooked on low for 6 hours.  I tried to use an immersion blender to make gravy with the leftover sauce. Yet my combination of the multiple recipes somehow messed up the gravy consistency.  I tried to add cornstarch but managed to spill some of the gravy while I was doing that and gave up in frustration.  I eventually stored what I had left in the fridge and I’ll try to use it on something soon.  This is not my favorite way to make Brussels sprouts since they’re not crispy. However, I do love having a whole meal ready when I come home from work.

The rest of the month

Well, I succeeded in not buying meals out, except for one lunch and one breakfast.

Fails

Writing down what I cooked.  Sorry guys!

Takeaways

Preparedness is key here.  I think this would have gone even better if we had collected our groupons and gift cards for the days that we knew we were going to be tempted.  We didn’t even end up using them 😮

I also think the better I get at cooking and the more I plan ahead, the more likely I will be to enjoy eating at home instead of going out.  Until then, I’ll be saving my money for the next time those scallops go on special!

March challenge: tax time!

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