Meals in a Jar: Real Life Update (Chicken Noodle Skillet Meal)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Chicken Noodle Skillet Meal in a Jar

We pulled this meal out for dinner this week.  Just wanted to update everyone on what we thought!  The original called for freeze-dried turkey, but I substituted chicken tvp instead (because that's what I had on hand).

Turns out I should have sprung for the turkey - I'm currently HIGHLY allergic to soy, and that is what tvp is made out of, so I wasn't able to eat any of this meal.  I did take a taste, but that was it.  It was okay - nothing super.  Definitely edible, and better than some of the Mountain House meals I've tasted, for sure.

Jar was still fully sealed and nothing smelled or tasted stale at all. 

The two younger kids ate it without complaint, but the oldest wasn't very thrilled.  Hubs ate it fine and said it wasn't bad.  My only complaint was that it BARELY made enough for 1 adult and 3 kids.  And they weren't large servings.  So if you have a larger family, or older kids, you may want to plan on TWO of these jars per meal.  My biggest surprise was that the kid didn't complain once about the vegetables!  They are notorious for turning their noses up at anything that even resembles a vegetable.  And this contained freeze-dried veggies no less!

It seemed to be a little overly sweet to me, and I'm thinking that was from the cheese sauce.  I suspect that is due to the brand of powdered cheese sauce I used.  I've read reviews that it isn't the favorite choice for powdered cheese sauce.  So once I'm done with the current can, I'll try a different brand and see if that makes a difference when I go to remake the meals we've used.  I did add a little extra salt and pepper, to tone down the sweetness, and that helped a little. 

Overall, a decent meal that only took 10 minutes to put on the table, from start to finish!

How to Tell When Canned Jam May Have Gone Bad

Monday, May 5, 2014
How to tell when canned jam may have gone bad...

One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just isn't the same...

Same batch, canned the same day. Not sure what might have happened, but the dramatic color change is a fairly big indicator that something didn't go right. It is still sealed, with no bulging. I think there might be mold. I hate to lose the jar, but at this point, it isn't worth risking opening it and possibly contaminating my sink or counters, or other food, by releasing spores or bacteria (mold, botulinum toxin, etc.) into the air.

This batch isn't even a year old. And we just finished off some that was two years old without any issues. So, just remember to use your common sense and intuition when dealing with canned foods - look for clues. If it looks wrong, then it probably is, and it's safer to just get rid of it than risk getting someone sick.
Now, apparently I need to get working on some new strawberry jam for this year!  Good thing it's strawberry season!!! 

Going into the slow cooker for dinner tonight...Three Packet Pot Roast!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It's a fairly gray and overcast day today, so I'm feeling in the mood for something substantial and "homey" for dinner tonight.  Bring on the pot roast and mashed potatoes!

This one is really easy, and uses basic stuff from your food storage.

Three Packet Pot Roast
1 envelope Italian dressing mix
1 envelope ranch dressing mix (you can see I've used my homemade mix here - 1 Tbsp.)
1 can beef broth (or you can use 1 envelope brown gravy mix + 1 cup water)
3lb pot roast (or thereabouts)

Stick it all in the slow cooker and let it go until tender!

I'm working with a frozen pot roast this morning, so my slow cooker is on high, but I will turn it down to low after about an hour or so, when the roast has thawed. 

What I'm Buying - Walmart Price-Matching 11/18

Monday, November 18, 2013
This week and next week will have some GREAT sales at the grocery stores in preparation for Thanksgiving! 

Every year at PinchingYourPennies, we do a comparison list of some of the common Thanksgiving meal ingredients and how all the sale prices match up across stores, so you can easily see at a glance what the best price is (and where) for each item.  As I was working on updating the list last night for the new sales ads starting today, I ran across several deals that I didn't want to miss.  But with three kids at home (we're on year-round school and are currently "off-track") there was NO WAY I was going to cart all of them to multiple stores without having a nervous breakdown.  So I opted to make one quick stop at Walmart and price-match!

Here's what I picked up:

(1) #10 can butter powder, 18.63 (good price, considering the same can online is 29.95)
(1) ground mustard powder, 3.83 (for food storage - running low on current one)
(1) ground turmeric, 4.98 (also for food storage - we use a lot of this in our favorite curry recipe)
(4) Libby's canned veggies, price matched to .50 (Macey's) and .25 after a 1.00/4 coupon
(6) GV frozen veggies, price matched to .79 (Macey's)
(14) GV whole berry cranberry sauce, price matched to .50 (Macey's - killer deal!)
(4) Silk Pure Almond milk, price matched to 2.49 (Smith's) and 2.15 after coupons
(6) GV powdered confectioner's sugar 2lb, price matched to .88 (Macey's)
(2) mini peeled carrots 2lb, price matched to 1.98 (Macey's)
(8) GV granulated sugar 4lb, price matched to 1.25 (Macey's)
(4) Challenge butter 1lb, price matched to 1.99 (Smith's) and 1.24 after coupons
(2) loaves GV wheat bread, 1.38 (hate having to pay for bread, but no time to make it myself this week)

Total:  $78.03

Minus the butter powder and the two spices, you're looking at only about $50 for all the rest of the groceries - not bad at all! 

This is the ONE time of the year when canned cranberry sauce goes on sale.  No, I do not use 14 cans worth on Thanksgiving (I actually make sauce from fresh cranberries for Thanksgiving), but I do use the canned stuff in a really great and really easy chicken recipe and in a salad or  side-dish occasionally, so I stock up each fall for my year's supply.  Now is also a great time to stock up on baking items, canned/boxed broth, stuffing mix and canned yams and pumpkin.  Still waiting for the best deal on canned pumpkin - that's the last thing left to get on my stock up list from the Thanksgiving sales!

Food Storage Meal - Ham Fried Rice

Tonight's meal comes courtesy of our food storage and some leftovers in the refrigerator!  :)  About once a month I will cook extra rice with a meal (we have a 10-cup Zojirushi rice cooker and LOVE it to death!!!!) so we have some ready specifically to make this meal.  It's comes together very quickly - even quicker when I just pull out some diced ham from the freezer.  We seem to be having a bit of a stomach bug going around today, so I didn't fix anything else to go with it.  But I don't know that you necessarily need anything else with it - it's got a meat, dairy, grain and vegetables all in one easy dish!  Tonight I also mixed up a box of brownie mix, and since I am running low on eggs, I used my powdered eggs instead of fresh.  ;)

Ham Fried Rice

1 c. diced cooked ham (I buy extra hams at Thanksgiving/Christmas and Easter, and then dice them up and store in Foodsaver bags in the freezer)
1/4 c. butter (can use oil instead if no fresh butter)
1 medium onion, finely chopped (I use 2 Tbsp. minced onions)
4 c. cooked rice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp soy sauce (yes, I keep this stuff in my food storage)
3 eggs (can use powdered eggs or powdered scrambled egg mix)
1-2 c. frozen peas & carrots mix

Melt butter in skillet; add meat and onion and cook 3 minutes.  Add rice, salt, pepper and soy sauce.  Mix thoroughly.  Stir in beaten eggs and frozen vegetables, and cook 5-10 minutes until rice is no longer "wet" and vegetables are heated through (or you can cook veggies in a separate pot or in microwave and then add at the end).

Food Storage Entree - Pesto Ranch Chicken

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I bring you...Pesto Ranch Chicken!

You'll need:
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 6 oz jar of pesto
  • 1 pkg ranch dressing mix
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth
That's it!  That's all there is!  Place the chicken thighs in the bottom of your crock pot.  Pour the pesto over the top and then sprinkle on the dressing mix.  Carefully add in the broth (so you don't wash all the pesto off the chicken).  Cook on low for 6-8 hrs or on high for about 4 hrs.

Tonight I served it with garlic smashed potatoes, green salad and Parker House rolls (I totally forgot to add them in to the picture). 

For the ranch dressing mix in the chicken, I used my homemade Hidden Valley-ish dry ranch mix.  And the ranch dressing on the green salad is from the BYU Creamery ranch dressing mix.  You can find the recipes for both of these mixes HERE.

What I'm Buying - Smith's 11/6

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
It has been a LONG time since I have done one of these posts.  I feel like the grocery sales and the coupons just haven't really been that good for the last six months or so.  Just kinda "so-so", and so I haven't really felt like there was much to post about.  :(  Well, I guess I could lament the fact that my grocery bill seems to get higher every month, even WITH coupons and price matching... I miss the days when I could get out of Smith's or Albertson's with a cart full of groceries for about $40.  These days, I'm lucky if I can make it out of Smith's with half a cart full and for under $100.  Boo!

But this week has been FABULOUS for some great stock-up sales so far!!!

Monday found me at three different stores - Walmart (to price match), then Harmon's (because WM didn't have some of the things I wanted to price match) and Smiths to catch the end of last week's sale.  I was able to score several packages of boneless skinless chicken breasts for 1.29/lb!!!  (I ALWAYS seem to miss the meat markdowns, so this was a rare score for me.)

At Harmon's this week, they've got Western Family canned tomatoes and canned beans for .39 each when you buy in multiples of 10!  And their Western Family ketchup is only .69 as part of that same promo!!!  One of the BEST deals was the Blue Diamond Almond Milk (we have family members with dairy allergies) half-gallons for 1.67 - WOW!!!!  (They were 1.40 after coupon - lowest I've EVER paid for that stuff!)

Here's what I got at Smith's today:

It's another Mega Event sale at Smiths - buy 10 items and save $5.

(6) Huggies jumbo packs diapers, on sale 8.99 (ranged from 6.49 to 7.49 with coupons, BUT you also get a $5 Catalina coupon wyb 2 in one transaction)
(4) Mott's apple juice 64oz, on sale 2.49 (1.99 after promo, .99 after coupon)
(8) C&H sugar 4lb, on sale 2.49 (1.99 after promo, 1.49-1.59 after coupon)
(4) Gillette Satin Care shave gel, on sale 1.99 (1.49 after promo, .49 after coupon)
(1) Kraft mayo, on sale 3.49 (2.99 after promo)
(4) Challenge butter 1lb, on sale 2.49 (1.99 after promo)
(2) Land O Lakes butter 1lb, on sale 2.49 (1.99 after promo)
(4) Ronzoni Garden Delight pasta, on sale .99 (.49 after promo, FREE after coupon)
(5) Stove Top stuffing mix, on sale 1.49 (.99 after promo)
(4) Betty Crocker cake mix, on sale 1.49 (.99 after promo, .57 after coupon)
(1) Ronzoni HealthyHarvest spaghetti, on sale .99 (.49 after promo, FREE after coupon)
(2) Ocean Spray canned cranberry sauce, on sale 1.49 (.99 after promo)
(4) Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, on sale .99 (.49 after promo, .29 after coupon)
(6) Campbell's cream of chicken soup, on sale .99 (.49 after promo, .29 after coupon)
(4) Hormel chili, on sale 1.49 (.99 after promo, .49-.72 after coupon)
(1) Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese tub, on sale 1.79 (1.29 after promo, .79 after coupon)
(3) Classico pasta sauce, on sale 1.99 (1.49 after promo, .89 after coupon)
(3) Heinz gravy, on sale 1.29 (.79 after promo)
(10) American Beauty pasta, on sale .99 (.49 after promo)
Granny smith apples, on sale .99/lb
Red delicious apples, on sale .99/lb
Bartlett pears, on sale .99/lb

To get the deal on the diapers, I had to do three different transactions, to roll the Catalina coupons. 

AND, even more savings -
     *The gravy bottles have a coupon under the label for 1.00/2 jars.
     *The butter has coupons inside for .75 off any Challenge product.
     *The Catalina machine also spit out a coupon for 1.50 off any 5 Campbell's soups!

Total:  $106.75 + I still have one $5 Catalina coupon

(Only about $71 if you leave out the diapers!)