Saturday, December 03, 2022

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Inflation has changed our buying and meal planning habits

My friends, I hope if you are an American then you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I wish our Thanksgiving holiday was around the same time as our neighbors in Canada so the colorful leaves would still be on the trees. 

As much as I love the season of Christmas, the Thanksgiving meal is my favorite each year.  Of course, made more special because of the people who were with us this year.  We do not change up the menu, certain foods are expected each year.  These were added to when my daughter-in-law's family joined us and we had to have "orange stuff" each year.  I have no idea regarding the recipe.

I seem to have taken some people by surprise by my absence since I tucked the announcement that I wouldn't be here last weekend where it wasn't obvious.   Sorry about that!

Before our family arrived, my husband helped me take everything out of the deep freeze to check what was in the large, blue Ziploc bags I keep most meat in to protect them even further.  The large bags also make it easier to pull everything out of the deep freeze. Frozen veggies and prepared foods are on top of the bags and in the two baskets.  

We did this partly to unearth the turkey I needed to begin defrosting the week before I was going to roast it ahead of time to get drippings for gravy and stock for the dressing.  I used part of the white meat that week for sandwiches, I froze the rest of the white meat, and made soup from everything else.

The cost of meat has gone up so much that I needed to transfer some of what I already have frozen to the small freezer that is part of the refrigerator.  Because I had most of what I needed for the Thanksgiving meal, I only had to purchase a few items like dairy to prepare the recipes.

I mentioned before that we have multiple birthdays as well as Christmas gifts for the family to purchase and we do not keep a balance on our credit card.  If we can't pay it off when the bill arrives, it doesn't get spent.  I was very tempted with all the Amazon sales but I only purchased a few Christmas gifts that I was going to buy, anyway.

Last week was stock up time (where did that last month go?) and both my Aldi and Meijer purchases were much less than usual so I could add more to the gift budget.  Having food in the freezer and pantry made that possible.

It was especially amazing to me because it seems the prices jumped a great deal since my last stock up week.  The bottle of olive oil we purchase had already gone from around $13.00 to around $17.00.  Now it is $21.99!  

Yikes.  Hubby and I had a ummm... talk?... about how much olive oil he puts on his salads and being an engineer, he decided to measure how much he usually used.  Indeed, the amount surprised even him.  He has cut back to half that amount of olive oil now.  He still takes a couple tablespoons medicinally with his Vitamin D and medications on days he does not have a salad. 

I am doing everything possible not to waste any food and even then, I had a bag of salad go bad before the Use By date and had to throw away some Campari tomatoes that had turned overnight (or so it seemed).  I have heard that happening from others, too. I have found when I just purchase romaine or iceberg lettuce, they last much longer than the bags of chopped salad.

I'm also continuing my "Everlasting Meals" whenever possible.  We were tired of the turkey noodle soup after two meals (neither of us love turkey soup) so I thickened the last of the soup and added some milk and butter to make it more like a gravy base and served that over mashed potatoes.  My husband liked it much better than the soup.

Every year I tell him that I could just imagine what his mother would say if I threw away the turkey carcass, especially since it still had some dark meat on it.  So, making the soup is an annual tradition that is especially helpful in these days of inflation.

Usually I would stock up the pantry more during the Holiday season but this year I mainly purchased what we would need for November and December.  I did purchase some extra cans of pumpkin for making pumpkin bread during the year.  I also purchased a new can of Kroger Apple Pie Spice since the older can was almost empty.

I don't use pumpkin pie spice for Holiday baking because it has ginger in it and I have a picky eater in the house who does not like ginger.  I haven't seen apple pie spice sold everywhere and I even had to search for it at Kroger since it was not out with the Holiday display since it was pumpkin season.

I will include a link to my sister's chicken tetrazzini recipe below.  It is very time consuming when made this way and I had to find a different brand of the cheese crackers but I wanted to make it exactly like she did as my son requested.  It was worth it!  Not exactly healthy but quite yummy.

Isn't it amazing how some tastes can take us back to other times and help us remember people who are no longer with us?  Perhaps that is why some people become depressed during the Holidays.  We tend to do a lot of remembering and it becomes apparent that those we loved are not at the table.

As for the pulled pork, I was mainly looking for technique with the pulled pork recipe.  Especially how to turn out a good pulled pork without it roasting twelve hours.  So, there wasn't just one exact link I can include but I will add one that comes close as far as the technique.

I have the rest of the pulled pork in the freezer.  It will make a good meal on a cold day in January or February.  It would make a good sandwich on a cold day like today but we are still recovering from feasting at Thanksgiving and the wonderful meal we shared at a restaurant the next evening.

Speaking of which, one of the appetizers my daughter ordered was something we have had before called something like Autumn Nachos.  I think there is more to the name than that.  But the large corn chips are covered with things like pulled pork instead of ground beef and it has sliced brussel sprouts, cubed butternut squash, dried cranberries, and other autumnal foods instead of the usual ingredients.

My daughter, daughter-in-law, and I love it.  There were some who have the opposite reaction.  ;)  But it is fun to try new ways to serve dishes we are used to eating with other ingredients.

Mentioned in this Blog Post

Everlasting Meals... here.

My sister's recipe... here.

Kind of like I made the pulled pork... here.  Every recipe I looked up had different seasonings.

I didn't use all of these seasonings and I used a bottled barbecue sauce after it baked.  I baked a whole pork shoulder roast in a heavy dutch oven, covered for three to three and a half hours.  I then took the lid off and baked it at least another fifteen or twenty minutes to get the "brown ends" we love on the pork.  Martha's recipe calls for cutting the pork shoulder into smaller pieces.

This is as close as I could find to the technique I came up with that worked.  Next time, I will not put the barbecue sauce on all of the pulled pork.  Instead, I will put it on only what we will use for sandwiches immediately and keep the rest without any extra sauce.  I think the texture will be better in the long run that way and it will provide more options for leftovers.

Disclosure:  Most links to are Associate links.


Anonymous said...

What do you mean by "blue Ziplock" bags? Can you please explain or post a link?

Ann said...

So glad you had so much of your family around for the holiday ... what a blessing! Precious moments that build great memories.

NanaC said...

I’ve really noticed the jump in prices on a lot of things lately, too! I really have to consider how badly I need an item that has gone up considerably, before I put it my cart now! It’s mind boggling sometimes! Appreciate your tips and suggestions even more now!
Laura C.

Deanna Rabe said...

I’m glad Stephanie and family came to town for Thanksgiving! Your appetizer sounds good.

I cook pork roast or a loin in my crockpot overnight, usually a Saturday into Sunday and by time we get home from church it is shreddable and delicious! I always put the bbq sauce on the table for people to put on themselves. It works better in our family.

Everlasting meals are great. I think they way you thickened the soup to a stew and served it over the potatoes sounds great!

Kay said...

I love the idea of turkey soup/gravy over mashed potatoes. I think that would go better at our house too.
Speaking of lettuce/greens, I've been blessed since Labor Day to have a Grow Tower in my office. I'm babysitting it for the seller. She comes once a week to check it over and I get to harvest from it. She is currently growing Swiss Chard, lettuces, spinach, kale, cilantro, basil and chives. I get a gallon zip bag full of greens every 2 weeks. I do have a head of romaine in the crisper for DH but he doesn't eat much salad in the winter. I'm considering getting a subscription to Misfit Market for me and Ddil. Between our 2 households, we'd use each box completely.
Happy January 1st. :)