Pantry Check In

Good post today about the “Pantry Eating Adventure” over on Money Saving Mom. I went grocery shopping today – my list was not the best it could have been, my menu plan is still a bit jumbled up, and I think I’m really still in “stockpile” mode. For instance, a yogurt that I like (and the Lorax likes) was on sale – buy 1 get 2 free, already a score. And I had a coupon for $1 off 6. I ended up with 9 yogurts for $1.25, or 14 cents each. Score. But I still bought the Lorax her own yogurt (on sale and with coupon). I can see that I really need to adjust my thinking. Also, shopping with a toddler is not the best situation to be thinking about meal plans / prices / discounts / coupons / etc. Next week she will not be with me on the grocery trip. I spent less than I usually do, but still more than I wanted. I did get a coupon for $7 off $50 future purchase (and I’ve got a coupon coming for $10 off $50 in the mail) so that will be a benefit as well, and I might actually stay under $150 for the month. Hm.

Pantry Eating Idea

I’ve got this challenge on my mind. There’s a lot of careful consideration going in to my grocery-shopping-list for this week – there are some good meat sales that will allow me to stock up, a bunch of coupon inserts and online, and I’ve got my new cookbooks. But wouldn’t you know it – a recipe that I tried out last night, that was delicious, and was made with ingredients I typically always have in the house was one I found by watching a random episode of Good Eats – it was about tuna, and to my surprise, Alton used tuna in a pouch!

I adore Alton Brown – we have 2 of his books (including the “Early Years” awesome!), DVDs and I love his style. However, most of his recipes tend to intimidate me – I don’t have the confidence yet for some meats or fish or I don’t have the ingredients on hand. And there have been things I’ve tried that just haven’t worked out. But. Tuna in a pouch? I can do that. Go figure though, we were out of tuna so we picked some up at our Walmart run, along with eggs (another pantry staple that was wiped out with New Year’s Day breakfast – we had company over – 4 adults, 3 kids, egg sandwiches for all means running through a dozen real quick.) Anyway, I would totally have this again and it was quite easy.

Tuna Croquettes
Ingredients

* 1 (7-ounce) pouch albacore tuna, drained well and shredded by hand
* 2 green onions, chopped fine
* 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
* 2 large eggs, beaten
* 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs, divided
* Olive oil, for sauteing

Directions

Place the tuna, onions, mustard, eggs, lemon juice, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs into a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine.** Divide the mixture into 8 rounds and set aside on a parchment lined half sheet pan. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. Place the remaining bread crumbs into a pie plate. One at a time, coat each round in the panko on all sides.

Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat until shimmering.*** Add the croquettes and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack set over a half sheet pan lined with paper towels. Allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

**I added more panko crumbs to the mix because it looked runny to me. I added them until it looked like it would hold together, totally eyeballed it.
***I’m not sure what shimmering olive oil looks like – I put in quite a bit of oil and let it heat up. Take it from me – olive oil can start a fire – I poured water into the pan when all the cooking was down and the croquettes were out of the pan and some splashed on the the stovetop – WHOOSH! Flames! They died off quickly, but learn from me – don’t splash that oil, it’s hot! And firey!

Cooking
Lorelai was also cooking from the panty for Jackson, so to speak. She used what she had on hand to whip up some eggs and mac and cheese. More incentive for me to work on my crochet to make her some food / accessories. Smart girl.

What’s in your cupboard?

I spotted this idea on the web – Pantry Challenge – so from January 1-31, 2010, the challenge is to attempt to avoid grocery shopping as much as possible and will be blogging what we’re feeding our families, creative recipes we’re concocting, and how we’re pulling this whole thing off. The “We” being MoneySavingMom and FishMama.

I am so curious about this idea. I think I could do it, I really do – Crystal’s goals are simple: (straight from her blog)
“Now, let me say right upfront that I am not going to completely avoid buying any groceries for a month. We like to have fresh eggs, milk, and produce, so I plan to buy those at least three times during the month.” And then she goes on to post the goals for her family.

I think this would be so interesting to try. Maybe I could do it as a lurker? If I were to do it, and really commit to it, I would love to give myself / this home the following goals:
1) Stop at the store a maximum of three times in January.
2) Spend a total of $150 or less on groceries during the month of January.
3) Make more (so, buy less) bread / treats that could be for breakfast or snacks.

Off the top of my head I made a list and I’ve got 10 go-to-meals, ingredients are already in my pantry / fridge. I’ve tried menu planning for the month of December:
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You can see there are many rearrangements (lucky for me hubby doesn’t mind Annies Mac & Cheese in the middle of the week). Due to life, toddler tantrums, my own personal whims. Thursday’s are crossed out because I go off knitting then. On the weekends usually hubby cooks.

I’ve got the tools:
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How To Cook Everything (AKA Bittman Bible – I love this book – had it out on near permanent renewal from the library and now have my own copy!), 6 o’clock Scramble, Make It Fast, Cook it Slow (another Christmas Gift – I haven’t given up on my slow cooker!), 30 minute meals from Better Homes and Gardens, and a cookbook that was a hospital fundraiser but has been used in my family forever!

We’ve got a decent stockpile of food, and I try to shop the deals and use coupons, but it’s tricky with a little one. Sometimes she’s great in the store – will take her time eating the treat, will walk next to the cart. This week – she finished the donut before we were even out of the produce aisle. She was walking away from me. Oy.

May any trip you make to the grocery store this week be productive!
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