Friday, January 11, 2013

A Tale of Two Grocery Trips

We begin this story on a sunny Sunday afternoon, as we hopefully piled into the car after lunch to make our way to Costco and begin our experience as "members".  We made a couple of stops on the way while Jett slept in the car.  Then we pulled into the lot, and as if by fate scored a spot right by the door. 

The plethora of food and other stuff was overwhelming, but we were up to the challenge.  With Kevin pushing the cart and Jett on my hip, we picked out flats of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. At my sister's suggestion, we purchased some artisan lettuce to split with her, and Jett would not let me leave the produce cooler without a mammoth bag of mini peppers (the kid is CRAZY about them!)

On to paper goods next, we were out of everything and before long our cart was nearly full.  It seemed that at every end cap we just missed the samples by a matter of seconds, probably a sign to me to stick to the Use-it-Up challenge.  I faltered in the cereal aisle buying two jumbo boxes of Ancient Grains granola.  And because of this I feel as though I should admit how addicted I am to this cereal.  If it was the end of the world and I could only save three material goods I would take a flashlight (for practical purposes), my wedding ring, and Ancient Grains granola.  This may have been the logic that did in the Mayans...

Jett got suckered in to buying squeeze packs of applesauce in bulk.  I tried to stop him, but he couldn't resist how much cheaper these were at Costco than Walmart or Trader Joes.  Kevin bee-lined for Nabisco snack packs and graham crackers, and I caved.

We finished the adventure with a trip to the concession counter for the world's largest yogurt parfait and called the $90.14 spent on groceries a success. 

Our next tale began just hours ago, as a happy kid and I piled into the car on a foggy dreary morning to run some errands on my day off.  He was good as gold at the dry-cleaners and sweet as can be at the recycling, but Hy-Vee was a whole other story. 

We pulled in and he immediately remembered the car shaped carts that weigh 500 pounds and hold half the groceries of a normal cart.  They are my favorite too.  He shouted "blue, blue, blue one" all the way to the door.  As we entered, on a whim his choice turned to the orange car that was parked near the front and after a thorough clean up with Clorox Wipes, we hit the road.  He drove happily through nearly half of the produce department until he remembered that he actually wanted the blue one. 

My delightful child had a terrible two sized meltdown while I received parenting advice from 100 much older, wiser patrons who thought blocking the aisle while telling me how to handle my yelling child would be a good idea.  (It may have been just two, but that was enough for me.)

We made it out of Hy-Vee in record time with a $22.89 bill for milk,  eggs, bananas, and orange juice.

May all your grocery trips be as eventful.

Over the weekend I'll be posting some freezer friendly ideas, and tell you what I do with a flat of blueberries.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Weekend Filled with Use-it-Up Success!

Good morning world, it's Monday!

In this household that means a very tired mommy and daddy, because little dude did not sleep well.  On the bright side, it's a new week, the house is fairly clean, our fridge is stocked with great food for the week, and there is caffeine brewing in the Keurig. 

On Saturday I went a little crazy with the Use-it-Up theme.  To start off, I absolutely had to use-up six bananas that had gone black.  My kiddo likes his bananas (and hence the name of the blog) so each week I always buy a few.  On one particular trip, the grocery store got smart and placed a banana stand in the middle of the aisle where he could reach them at his height. He proceeded to grab a big bunch and accidentally dropped them on the floor.  I didn't think it would be right to put them back, so into the cart and that's where we got our extra bunch of bananas. 

One of the classic things to do with aging bananas is to make banana bread.  Of all the recipes I have made, this is an area where I feel the most fearless.  I love to try a new recipe, and if it doesn't quite turn out, I don't feel bad because it was practically free.  On Saturday I set Jett to the banana mashing, which was a whole lot of fun! 

He did a great job, and I picked out two new "low-fat" banana bread recipes.  Low-fat because I was out of butter but did have oil and applesauce.  One did not turn out great, and had a strange consistency, even after I tried to save it with Nutella.  The other was great and will be one I go to again and again.  I really enjoyed Joy the Baker's Low Fat Oatmeal Banana Bread.  I did not have old fashioned rolled oats, but the quick oats I had seemed to work just fine.  The bread had a great nearly oatmeal cookie consistency, but with a light delicious fruity flavor.

After the bread was out of the oven, I took a tip from the Queen of Quick Cooking - Rachael Ray, and made a five-minute soup.  I had all that great leftover chicken from the first day of Use-it-Up, which made for great fajitas one night, but I still had some left. 

The steps to five-minute soup are simple.
Chop some carrots and celery, or whatever vegetables you need to eat up. Next, heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in your soup pot.  Throw in garlic, chopped onion, thyme, rosemary or whatever flavorings you like and stir. (I didn't measure, but just put in a modest amount that looked good.) Toss in your veggies, turn down heat slightly and allow to cook until softened.  (At this point I also went to my freezer and grabbed a bag of half-eaten asparagus stir fry mix and threw that in too.)  Pour in a can or about 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, and simmer.  While the veggies are cooking, do a quick rough chop on your chicken leftovers, and into the pot they go.  At this point you can allow to simmer until the chicken is warmed up, or for a bit longer to allow the flavors to develop.  Jett and I had a beautiful, veggie packed soup for our lunch that was prepped in 5 minutes and ready in 30 minutes.

For dinner I went one more step toward Use-it-Up obsessed and mixed up some bread dough in my bread machine, and used up leftover spaghetti sauce, pepperoni, and cheese to make a quick homemade pizza.  Jett yelled "Pizza, Pizza, Pizza!" when I took it out of the oven, so I think that was a hit too!

I hope this post gave you some ideas for how to Use-it-Up this week.  On the next post I will share how my first Costco shopping trip went.