Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Frugal Kitchen Witch

First of all, Happy Belated New Year!

As I may have mentioned, I’ve been unemployed since July. I’ve been looking and applying for jobs since March, but I’ve had maybe 3 interviews. It sucks. Money is tiiiight. I’m sure many of you know what I mean. I get an unemployment check every week, and my boyfriend gets paid every two weeks, but it’s not enough to keep things running smoothly. I had to turn off autopay to avoid overdraft fees out the wazoo, and I’m kinda sorta juggling things a bit. I’m getting about half of what I used to earn as a teacher, and even then, it was extremely difficult to save. Bleah.

BUT! This blog post is not about just that. This blog post is going to look at what we, the kitchen witches, the priests and priestesses of the deities of the hearth, can do to keep ourselves and our loved ones properly fed and nourished, even when money is short.

I’ve written about how kitchen work can be a ritual, a magical experience, a spiritual experience. We know how I feel about connecting to the wheel of the year and the earth by seasonal cooking. Where am I going with this?

Well, I am going to show you, through my own trial and error, waves to get food on the table that: 1. People want to eat, 2. Is affordable, 3. Tries to be as seasonal as possible (which enhances affordability), and 4. Will, hopefully, help keep spirits up and spirituality alive and well. After all, it’s at times like these that we really turn to the gods and to spellwork, no? Speaking of which, I really ought to make those Prosperity Shortbread Cookies again.

There are a butt-ton, yes, butt-ton, of tips out there on how to cut food waste and grocery costs. As a pagany-type, kitchen-witchy-type person, I am concerned about food waste. I do not want food to go to waste, but because of our lifestyle and our habits, it happens. It happens to everybody. One reason I dislike waste is because I feel I am being disrespectful to the energies of the foods, especially meat products. I do not want to dishonor the spirit and life of the animal. Another reason I dislike waste is because there are so many people who don’t have enough to eat.

Okay, so the goals so far are:
  • Spend less
  • Cook less  (in amount) (there are only two of us)
  • Waste less
  • Be seasonal
  • Up the intent in the cooking - more love energy, more positivity, etc.
  • Eat well (tasty and healthy, or tasty and not terribly unhealthy)

I plan to do as much shopping at Save a Lot as I can, except for a few things that they either don’t have or things that suck. I bought a can of coffee there once. Not doing that again. The meat is usually okay. You just have to check dates and make sure you use it or freeze it the day to buy it. We have an Aldi not too far away. I can’t live without goat cheese. Thank goodness for their prices.

I’m home all day. I have no real excuses for not cooking. It’s 4:17 a.m. and I’m blogging to take a break away from washing dishes. They pile up quickly, don’t they?

And that’s another area of spirituality in which I’ve really let myself go. The kitchen is like my temple. I need to take better care of it. Seriously, what do I do all day? Uhhh...sit in front of the computer and watch Bob’s Burgers. Seriously, get off your ass, Nar, and do some cleaning!

I’ve decided to go with menu rotation for now. I have to admit that I feel a little strange about it because I will basically be sticking to the same types of things, but I have plenty of opportunities to get creative with the basics ideas. What I have done in order to get this idea rolling, is to create a list of dinner menus for two weeks. I figured two weeks at a time would keep us from getting too bored. I mean, we both love spaghetti and tacos, but we probably ought to have a teensy bit of variety. There could be a mutiny. I’ve also left preparation methods open. “Potatoes” means “whatever kind of potato dish you feel like”, for example. Pasta Night could be mac and cheese, or it could be spaghetti and meatballs. Whatevah.

I want to utilize leftovers as much as possible. My boyfriend will be able to take some things to work for lunch. I’m going to hit Save a Lot later in the day and see if I can shop for the first few days that I’ve mapped out. We don’t have to have the same meal on the same night of the week. Thursdays don’t have to be pasta, but it will happen at some point during the two weeks. I put together a table so I can record what date I made each meal, and two nights are set aside as “use up all the leftovers omg!” nights.

Winter is for hearty dishes, spicy dishes, lots of root vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, stews, casseroles… Those are the types of things I am going to work on. It’s time for comfort food.

In no particular planning order, here are my menu ideas:

Menu Rotation Meal Ideas

  1. Pinto beans, cornbread, fried potatoes and cabbage, smoked sausage
  2. Stir-fry - chicken or beef, rice
  3. Meatballs with gravy, noodles
  4. Leftovers or homemade pizza
  5. Pork and sausage and cabbage, noodles
  6. Taco Night
  7. Roast Dinner - chicken, turkey breast, or duck, potatoes, gravy, sprouts (or creamed spinach or roasted broccoli), Yorkshire pudding
  8. BBQ ribs (slow cooker), roasted corn salad, baked beans or potato salad
  9. Pasta Night - garlic bread, green beans, broccoli, spinach, or kale (mac and cheese, spaghetti with meat sauce, lasagna…)
  10. Meatloaf, potatoes, broccoli
  11. Curry Night - chicken or vegetable, rice, samosas, chutney
  12. Breakfast for dinner: eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, home fries, Dutch baby
  13. Burger Night - beef or vegetarian, oven fries
  14. Leftovers or Dinner Salad (greens, vegetables, meat, cheese…)

The next few days here are going to bring beans & cornbread, ribs, a roast dinner, curry night, and pasta night.

And to help me keep myself in line:

Two-Week Menu Rotation


So, yeah. This is what I’m working on right now. I’m trying to stop worrying about the job/money/insurance situation, but devoting some time to my path helps reduce stress, as does cooking. We’ll see where it goes! I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

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