Lunch Time

A big part of saving time and money goes into planning your meals.  The world likes to show us the convenience of grabbing on the go, but look what that has done to our waistlines and our wallets!  Yikes!  The best plan is to plan, prepare and work in your meals during a less busy time of the week.

I’ve said before that I like to do my meal prep on Sunday afternoons.  I do work outside of the home during the week so I understand when there is the argument of time.  However, packing lunches does not need to be a time hog.

The benefits of packing lunches greatly outweighs the time argument.  Whether you are packing for yourself, your spouse and/or your children, the benefits are all the same.

  1. You control the portions.  Everything from fast food to sit down is all greatly increased in the area of portions.
  2. You control the contents.  When you make, pack and measure, you know exactly what is going into your body.  If you or a family member have allergies, you no longer have to worry about ingesting something bad for them.
  3. The cost is greatly less.  The cost of putting together a lunch is greatly less then buying on the go.  Journal it and you will see it for yourself.
  4. Less waste. This is a huge item, you aren’t added to the garbage issue and if you pack wisely, you will cut down on your own disposables!

What you will need:

  1. A Lunch Box.  I know the picture shows a brown paper bag.  But I really do not advise using one for many reasons.  You will want a stable lunch bag/box that can hold some time of cooling pack, easy to carry or put into a backpack (good idea for kids and adults alike), but big enough to carry what you need for the day.
  2. A Reusable Cooling Pack.  These are very inexpensive and can be used over and over again.  I have one that is very thin and does a great job of cooling my lunch bag very well.  Just put it in the freezer every day when you get home and it will be ready for the next day!
  3. Reusable item containers.  You can pick these up at the dollar store.  Make sure you get microwaveable safe ones if you are planning to need to reheat items.  A Soup Thermos is also a great item to have so you don’t have to use a microwave!  I am not in favor of using disposable wrappings and bags, trash is trash, whether it comes from home or from somewhere else.
  4. Reusable Coffee/drink mug.  Avoid buying bottled water or coffee.  Make and bring your own and refill for free during the day.
  5. Reusable utensils.  Have a specific set for your lunch box(es).  Again, avoid disposable.

But what do I pack?

This is where it gets fun.  You are only limited by your imagination!  For kid lunches those are just super fun!  You can make your own “lunchables” of crackers, bread cut out using cookie cutters, meats, cheeses… but we will get to that.  Here are some ideas, adults enjoy the fun stuff too, sometimes even a little more!

  1.  Sandwiches do not need to be boring!  Use a large shaped cookie cutter to cut bread, meat, cheese and stack together.
  2. Afraid your sandwich will get soggy?  Pack the bread in one container and the items in another as and use a small condiment container for your ketchup, mayo or mustard.
  3. Subs.  Hot and cold subs are so simple to prepare at home with what you have on hand when you plan ahead!
  4. Hot Dogs.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Hot dogs.  My kids would love it when we would have “Hot Dog” week.  I would grill up hot dogs ahead of time and each day they would get a different type.  Monday, Pizza dog; Tuesday, Chicago Style Dog; Wednesday, Taco Dog (Chili dog with taco seasoning) and so on.
  5. Do not fear the dinner left overs!   When I make casseroles, I will make enough to put aside for some lunches for myself.  Especially in the winter to have a nice hot lunch.
  6. Soup and Salad.  How often to you pay $12+ for soup and salad at a fast food place?  So inexpensive and easy to do at home and pack!  I will make a pot of soup during the week and set aside portions for my lunch (and even freeze some like chicken noodle).  Salads, easy peasey.  Toss in some mixed lettuce, tomato and cucumber and whatever else you like and use a condiment container to carry our dressing.
  7. Chicken nuggets.  Chicken nuggets are so easy to make at home.  Do not buy the frozen ones.  Pre-make a batch by taking chicken thighs and or breasts and cutting into bite sized cubes.  sprinkle with fine bread crumbs if you like and cook in a skillet.  They freeze up perfect and you have a much better nugget.
  8. Sweet Tooth.  There is nothing like a sweet treat in the middle of the day.  The best thing is to bake and portion out a cookie a day.  Make a healthy sweet treat, or better yet, add in some fresh in season fruit!  My children when they were young liked something called “dirt pudding” which was simply chocolate pudding with crushed a crumbled cookie on top and I would put in a gummy worm or a gummy flower in each little cup for them.
  9. Homemade Lunchables.  These things are expensive in the store.  Make your own.  Using small cookie cutters, cut shapes out of cheeses and meats and add to a decorative container.  Add in grapes, pretzel sticks and other finger foods as a side.  Avoid the bad preservative packed snacks!
  10. Pizza.  I’m not talking about left over take out.  If you don’t make your own pizza and save some for lunch, make mini pizzas by using biscuit dough (I make my own), and putting on toppings and bake.  You can store these for the week and even freeze them after baking for later.
  11. Burritos.  My husband is responsible for getting me to love burritos for breakfast and lunch.  The possibilities for fillings are endless.  My favorite is a breakfast burrito with chorizo, eggs, potatoes and green chilies.  I enjoy it for breakfast and lunch.
  12. Egg Bites.  These are great for breakfast and for lunch!  Here is how you make them.  Breakfast Egg Bites

Here is a hint.  If you see it “prepackaged” in the store with cute enticing packaging, you can make it at home cheaper, with less preservatives and much better for you!  Another thing to remember that buying individually wrapped is much more expensive then buying a larger size and parsing out on your own.   Apple slices are just as easy to slice yourself, and a boiled egg is just as easy to do yourself instead of buying it boiled, and honestly, probably safer.

With all the food health warnings coming out in regards to fast food chains, take the time and responsibility over your own food.  Buy in season, enjoy variety and enjoy the health and saving benefits!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

 

 

 

Oven Fried Rabbit

Rabbit, whether wild or domestic, is a great lean meat.  The entire body is dark meat and one rabbit can easily feed 4 people.

My favorite way to prepare rabbit is to “oven fry”.  It keeps the meat tender and has less breading than typical frying or deep frying.  I use a Dutch Oven but you could use a deep lidded casserole dish as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole rabbit cleaned and cut up into 5 pieces (2 back legs, 2 front legs, 1 back)
  • Buttermilk
  • Fine ground cornmeal
  • Lard or butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Preheat your oven 350F
  • Melt your lard/butter in the bottom of your Dutch Oven, about a tablespoon.
  • Coat each individual piece of rabbit in the buttermilk then the cornmeal and place in the Dutch Oven.
  • Put the lid on your Dutch Oven and place in the oven.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes at 350.

Serve hot.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice

Homemade Butter

There is something about the flavor and texture of real butter.  I have made butter for years.  I bet images of a woman hunched over a butter churn for hours is popping up in your mind.  But honestly, depending on how much you make it takes about 20 minutes.  Now, once in a while I will add herbs, garlic and even dried peppers to give extra flavors and color to my butter but for plain every day use you don’t need to get fancy.

Here’s what you will need:

  • A food processor (hand crank or electric)
  • A coffee filter or cheesecloth
  • A pinch of salt
  • Whole fresh milk (with cream) or heavy whipping cream.  I normally use a half pint for each time.

Directions

  1. Pour your cream into your food processor.
  2. Add a touch of salt.
  3. Process on high speed for 5 minutes.
  4. Open your processor, the contents will be a thick cream almost but not quite solid.
  5. This is important. Take the blades out of your processor and scrape them off on your mixture. Using your cheesecloth or filter, drain off the liquid into another jar.  This is your buttermilk.  I will press my mixture to get as much of the liquid out.  
  6. Set the liquid to the side. Put a lid on it, refrigerate it for other baking.
  7. Back to your butter. Put the blades back in the processor. 
  8. Continue to process for 10-15 minutes, stopping to pulse every few minutes.
  9. You will see your butter forming into a thick “ball”.
  10. Scrape your butter into a “butter bowl” and refrigerate.
  11. You can also roll it and keep it in parchment paper to refrigerate as well.

I hope you enjoy.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice

Winter is Coming… Preparing your Pantry

The purpose of home canning and meal prepping is to prepare for times when fruits and vegetables and meats are not as abundant naturally.  When an item is in season, it is more abundant and less expensive, this is the time to prepare for winter, especially when you live in the northern and Midwest areas.  Winter can be harsh.  We believe in canning what is in season, naturally, to help with budget costs, health benefits and being more ‘God sufficient’ than man sufficient.  The other side point to preparing and budgeting your food storage is to better understand what a REAL portion of food is.  America has gotten really bad at ‘super sizing’ and over convenience everything.  We’ve gotten into the mindset of “getting our money’s worth” instead of planning and looking at what our body needs.  The sugar and preservative addictions are just as bad as the “bad addictions”.  Look at the rise of obesity, health issues, enabling etc.  If we are stressed, we head strait for the candy jar, if a child is crying we hand them a sweet treat.  I could go on and on about this subject, because I myself suffer from stress eating and weight issues.  I come from a long line of Southern Cooks.  I love my butter, gravy and I melt with Shrimp and Grits.  Which is all fine, IN MODERATION.

But, back to preparing your pantry.  Each year it is essential to take stock of what your family will need for the upcoming year until the next season arrives with more goodies.  Also knowing crop rotation years help too.  One year may be a great corn year, the next nothing.

Now the big thing I want you to really take notice of is the PORTION of each item.  If we ate this way, I’m willing to bet, the weight loss programs out there would loose a lot of money and we would have more in our savings!

The Canner’s Pantry Planner:
Food Times/Week Serving Jars/Person Jars/Family(4)
Meats, Poultry, Fish 4x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 36 Pints 144 Pints
Soups 2x week, 36 weeks 1 cup 18 quarts 72 quarts
Jams, Jellies, Preserves 6x week, 52 weeks 2 tablespoons 40 1/2 pints 160 1/2 pints
Relishes 3x week, 52 weeks 1 tablespoon 5 pints 20 pints
Greens, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash 4x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 18 quarts 72 quarts
Pickled vegetables 2x week, 52 weeks 2 1/2 tablespoons 13 pints 52 pints
Juices and Tomatoes 7x week, 36 weeks 1 cup 63 quarts 252 quarts
All Other Fruits and Vegetables 14x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 76 quarts 304 quarts
Pickled Fruits, Pickled Eggs 2x week, 52 weeks 2 1/2 tablespoons/ 1 egg 13 quarts 52 quarts

Did you slightly freak out over the portions? Puts things into perspective doesn’t it? Here is the thing I have discovered, when you utilize the mentality of using what you have on hand, you waste less, you eat less, and you have that pride of providing. It’s amazing how the world’s perspectives dissolve when you start living like this.

There are other items to consider as well, the meat covers what you should have in your freezer as well as canning, but there are dry goods to consider:  Flour, Sugar, Baking Soda/powder, yeast, dried beans, rice, powders.  Then your wet goods such as honey, syrups, molasses.  Also your perishables, eggs & milk.  There is also cellar storage to consider, potatoes, sweet potatoes, hard squash, apples.  But all in all the portions stay the same.  Now my favorite:  Cheeses.  I love real cheese, love it!  But a portion is only 2 ounces.  That’s the size of 2 dice.

I credit the knowledge of this from my Grandma Inez and my go to book “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery.

So learn to enjoy and appreciate what you have and you will find that your body and your savings will thank you!

Enjoy and let me know of your thoughts.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

IMG_20170819_081831646

 

Homemade Biscuit & Dumpling Mix

IMG_20170501_153903014

As by now you all know, I do not like to rely on boxed items for any reason to feed my family.  Nearly every thing that is mass produced can be made from scratch easier and less expensive at home.  One of the more common items in the kitchen is a box of “Bisquick” or biscuit mix.

As many of you know this is an awesome concoction which can be used for anything from biscuits or dumplings to pancakes or waffles…. yea, you get the idea.  For me we love dumplings.  My husband and I have this ongoing discussion on what a “dumpling” is.  For me there are 2 kinds flat dumplings and drop dumplings.  To him there are only one drop dumplings (the other are short noodles).  Drop dumplings are the fluffy dumplings primarily made from Bisquick type mixes.

Now, here is how you can leave that yellow (or white) box at the grocery store and always have this mix on hand!

INGREDIANTS:

  • 2 Cups flour (sifted)
  • 4 teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of butter (or shortening)
  • 3/4 cup milk

DUMPLING DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl sift your flour and your baking powder together.
  2. Add in your salt
  3. Add in your butter (or shortening) softened
  4. Add in your milk
  5. Knead together until nice and firm
  6. If too sticky add in a tad of flour
  7. IMG_20170501_152829672
  8. Now roll into balls and drop it into your boiling soup
  9. Turn the heat of your soup down
  10. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes on low
  11. Finally enjoy!

Sometimes I will keep this on hand for quick grabs.  To do this find an air-tight bag, container of your choosing.  Sift in all of your dry ingredients together and label your container ‘Baking mix’.  Then make sure you make note of the wet ingredients to add later.

 

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

My Grandma Inez’s Bread Recipe

I have been asked for a basic homemade bread recipe, so here it is. This recipe is the very one I still use and was the one taught to me by my Grandma & my Mom. It also earned me blue ribbons during my 4-H years in Monroe County Ohio. 

Enjoy. 

Basic White Bread – will make 2 loaves or 1 loaf & 1 dozen rolls. 

Ingredients

  • 6 cups sifted flour
  • 1 to 2 cakes of compressed yeast
  • 2 cups of milk, scald
  • 2 levels teaspoons salt
  • 6 level teaspoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of shortening

Directions

  • Crumble yeast cake, dissolve in a small amount of lukewarm milk.
  • Add rest of lukewarm milk, salt & sugar.
  • Mix well & add all of your flour. 
  • When partially mixed, add melted shortening. 
  • Mix well with your hands. 
  • Keep the sides of your bowl clean.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.
  • Knead dough until the dough is smooth, elastic & bubbly on surface.
  • cover.
  • Let stand in a warm place for 2-4 hours or until the dough is double in bulk.
  • Knead dough down, let stand 45 minutes.
  • Knead dough down again , let stand 15 minutes.
  • Divide dough for loaves.
  • Put in well greased Loaf pans.
  • Brush top with melted butter.
  • Allow to rise 1-2 hours until light & double in bulk.
  • Bake 400 degrees F (preheated hot oven) for the first 20 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to 350 degrees F.
  • Bake another 40 minutes until well browned & slightly shrunk in the pan.
  • Cool take out of loaf pans.

Keep in dry cool conditions or freeze for later. Homemade Bread does not contain the preservatives store bought does so it won’t last as long. But, let’s face it, homemade bread doesn’t need to!  

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice