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February 10, 2014

It’s that time . . . HELP!

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , , — llcall @ 6:01 am

February. Time to Cook.

I still need to write about Stronger. And Thanks. And January’s Organize theme. But there’s no time now! It’s already the 9th! And I’ve got people coming for dinner on Saturday! And I’m starting a second job in less than 2 weeks! And . . . this is the real kicker . . . I’m beginning to tire of tacos, which I’ve been eating for about 85% of my meals since August. Never thought that day would come. *wipes away tears*

Based on Neal’s and my initial conversations, coming up with a mutually agreeable meal plan is going to be tough. He wants it to be cheap. I want it to be tasty and somewhat varying. I’ve made some compromises over the last few months — for example, replacing all ground beef I used to eat, which wasn’t much, with cheaper black beans — but if I have to continue to rotate through the same 4 cheap meals every week (3 of them containing black beans), I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose the will to live.

This is where you come in with your great ideas! What are your easiest go-to meals? If they have 5 ingredients or less, you’ll get a gold star. I’m especially interested in:

  • Freezer meals, especially ones that don’t require meat
  • Crockpot meals, especially ones that don’t require meat
  • Recipes with quinoa  or sticky rice (we bought both of these in bulk)
  • Recipes in a jar (that’s a thing, right? Something that could be mixed up ahead of time . . . )
  • Add-ins to add variety to salads

One thing: I’m not a big soup/stew fan. Neal bemoans this fact every. single. day. as if all our problems would be solved by me liking soup more. Alas, it has to be pretty spectacular soup (like Safeway’s Loaded Baked Potato) to interest me.

Help a sister out over here!



  1. Are you guys into curry? I have some great, easy curry recipes if you’re interested. And we usually eat ours without meat. Our favorite is Massaman: sauté 2 tablespoons Massaman curry paste with some vegetable or coconut oil, add a can of coconut milk and let it simmer and bubble until it’s uniformly colored. Add a few tablespoons of peanut butter and simmer for a minute or two. Add 3 cubed potatoes and let cook for 15 minutes. Add 1 sliced bell pepper, some diced pineapple (optional) and a tablespoon of sugar. Let cook for about 5-8 minutes. Serve over rice.

    Here are some more easy standby meals at our house: omelets; scrambled eggs with salsa, cheese and warmed tortillas; quesadillas served with black beans.

    Comment by Jen — February 10, 2014 @ 2:31 pm

    • I love curry! I’ll try this one. Neal is a tougher sell on curry — I have tried a couple of variations and he is not sold. But I’m gonna keep trying!

      Comment by llcall — February 10, 2014 @ 9:17 pm

  2. So one thing you should know about me is that I love Pinterest. I find most of my fast, easy and cheap recipes there. If you want you can take a look at my “I made and I love it page” or on my food section on Pinterest. It is a great tool for recipes because you can search for crock pot meals, vegetarian meals, and whatever else you are looking for. Here is the link to mine: or

    I hope that helps!

    Comment by Brianna — February 10, 2014 @ 11:48 pm

    • Thanks, Brianna! Your pinterest page is gold mine! I pulled a couple of recipes off there! Fingers crossed I can execute them 🙂

      Comment by llcall — February 11, 2014 @ 12:45 am

  3. I’m with Neal on this: your bullet points line up perfectly with any number of crock-pot soups so it’s possible all of your problems really could be solved that way. 🙂 You did eat Taco Soup at my house once, but maybe you were really desperate at the time. Haha, in any event, two or three cans of the beans of your choice, one can of tomato sauce, one can of stewed tomatoes, a cup and a half of water and some taco seasoning all get thrown in the crockpot for a few hours. Serve with crumpled up tortilla chips on top and cheese, as desired. You can also make a giant batch and freeze portions in ziploc bags for future use. Best wishes!

    Comment by Elizabeth Harris — February 11, 2014 @ 1:13 am

    • You always side with Neal! But actually, taco soup is one of those 4 meals in our current rotation; and I do like it, but not 4-times-a-week like it.

      Comment by llcall — February 11, 2014 @ 1:16 am

  4. Well, I think I’ve already sent you a lot of ideas, but I’ve got a few more: breakfast for dinner (eggs and pancakes was a go-to for us); “panini” sandwiches—just buy french bread and grill your sandwiches stuffed with a little cheese and meat (and whatever veggies you want) and it feels so much fancier and tastes yummier than regular sandwiches, which is not to bag the sandwich option. You can make delicious meat-free sandwiches (be inspired by Subway’s veggie delight) and for a little protein you can make homemade hummus (very cheap and easy) as a spread. Or once in a while you can do BLT’s (a little bacon goes a long way for me, and it’s cheap as far as meat goes, but packs a lot of punch when it comes to pleasing the palate). Also, tuna melts (grilled cheese sandwiches with tuna in them) used to be an old standby for us (till we had kids with egg allergies, problem with the mayo). Tuna is a cheap meat. Did I mention the idea of homemade tortillas? Very cheap, easy, and yummy, and they can elevate your taco salad to burrito status, or you could make quesadillas. Maybe you could also try meatless sloppy joes? (I saw some recipes online). Can’t wait to hear what you make for dinner this Saturday!

    Comment by Victoria — February 13, 2014 @ 3:28 am

  5. Corn & black bean & cheddar pancakes with salsa & sour cream, lentil sloppy joes (there is a great recipe on vegetarian dad), parmesan rice (cook rice, add cheese, butter, parsley, garlic & salt), apple & cheddar quesadillas 🙂

    Comment by JulieS — February 23, 2014 @ 1:35 am

  6. We do homemade pizza a lot at our house. I use Mark Bittman (I think that’s his name)’s crust recipe. Or we do French bread pizza. That is so darn easy. And then you could take leftover toppings and put them in salad: peppers, tomato, mushroom, olive, whatever.

    Another way to spice up the menu if you do a lot of tacos is to take your leftover fixin’s, roll them in corn tortillas (so cheap) drench them in a can of enchilada sauce (also cheap) and top with cheese. Bake at 350 until bubbly. Top with tomato and lettuce if desired. That’s what we had tonight.

    Comment by alysastewart — February 26, 2014 @ 1:30 am

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