Sunday, March 7, 2010

IF ONLY... I had money to go out to lunch

I'm not going to lie. I spend way too much of my money eating out. My weakness is definitely Panera. But, I've realized lately just how much money I spend on fast food and grabbing lunch at a nearby restaurant, and it's waaaay too much. I know a lot of people are in this situation. They enjoy eating out, but don't have the extra money. Now, I also like to cook, so I figured I'd use my love of cooking to end my eating out habit.
I am always looking up recipes online and in the various cookbooks we own, but I never seem to have the ingredients- frustrating! So, I've sort of been left to adapt the ingredients we often have around the house to make delicious meals. I love starting with something basic and adding just a few extra ingredients to make it spectacular! A few of my favorite adaptations are: adding sprinkle cheddar cheese to Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (very simple addition, but to me it makes the macaroni so much better!) and adding fresh cut up carrots and celery, and even chunks of freshly cooked chicken, to a can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup.

Here are a couple of my very favorite easy recipes for delicious restaurant-quality meals:

1. Tuna Salad Sandwich
Start with: one can tuna (Drain Tuna. Dump in bowl.)
Add: chopped veggies- onion, green onion, celery, hard boiled egg OR diced pickles (you can also use pickle relish)
Put together: Layer a couple lettuce leaves, cheese (provelone is delicious,) and tuna salad between two slices of bread.
Very easy recipe and also very adaptable to the ingredients you probably have at home.

2. Potato Soup
Start with: can Cream of Chicken (You can also use Cream of Celery, Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Potato...) OR you can start by simply boiling milk and butter
Add: First, boil cubed potatoes and chopped vegetables (carrots, broccoli, celery, onion, green onion, cauliflower, virtually any vegetable will work great), cubed chicken, bacon, turkey, or anything else you may have around that seems good.
Cook: Once the potatoes are soft, and the veggies are just as firm as you want them (you could also steam the veggies) drain the water. Add the can of soup + milk (or if you opt not to use the Cream of ____ Soup, just add milk,) Mix in all the veggies, season with salt and pepper, and any other seasonings- I usually use Oregano, Garlic, and Jojo's Potato Seasoning. Once you mix everything together, add shredded cheese. That's it!

I hope you enjoy these recipes and see that you don't have to spend all the money to enjoy a delicious restaurant-inspired meal! And, I would love to hear your favorite go-to recipes as well!

A little update...

1. Live my life with no regrets. I'm sure I could be doing a lot better on this resolution, but I am trying new things and working hard to have a positive attitude. I can already notice a difference- without being so negative all the time, I am already a lot happier!

2. Never again use my bank account as an excuse for not being able to dress as I would like. Hmm... this one is a little harder. I see so many items of clothing I absolutely LOVE- then I look at the price tag. But, I am good at bargain-finding, it's just a little more challenging to find good clothes within the price range, but it is possible. Also, I have a good rule to go by when I shop: I very rarely buy anything that is over $15, if it is any more than that, I have to seriously think about how much I really need it.

3. Organize my life- starting with my room, purse, and backpack. I am pretty organized right now. Currently my room is clean and organized, as well as my purse and backpack. Now, the trick is keeping it that way. But, if I clean my room once a week, it will be much easier to keep it organized.

4. I will set up a date to get together with The Missing Three within the next month. Hmm... I am pretty much failing when it comes to this resolution. I have only talked to them one or two times recently, and we have not set a date yet to get together. I will have to work harder on this one.

5. I will do ALL my homework within one hour of arriving home from school. At first, I was doing very well on this account, but I slowly became lazier, putting off my homework until later. This I will also have to work extra hard to reinforce. 

It's always nice to take a little break, so if you are feeling stressed, or just need to relax, picture yourself here on a warm, spring day- laying in the soft grass watching the clouds move across the sky: