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This was it!  Only my second week of really trying and all that there was to throw out was some old garlic that had sprouted.  Oh, and some mac ‘n cheese that I forgot to take a picture of.  That was it though.

I tried very hard to use things up this week.  It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  I think that had a lot to do with how I have really started to also pay attention to the things that I am buying at the grocery store.  I’m really trying to stick to my list and that is made completely from my meal plan.  No extras! 

I definitely learned that I don’t need to cook up an entire package of spaghetti when I make it.  I ended up having it for lunch for 3 days in a row to make sure it got used up!  Then we had six smallish sized apples that no one was eating.  So I took it upon myself to make an apple crisp.  It’s sure not to go to waste now!

Visit Frugal Girl’s Food Waste Friday to see how others did managing their food waste.

Spinach Black Bean Lasagna

Spinach-Black Bean Lasagna
From Southern Living Home for The Holidays Magazine, Fall 2006
Makes 6 servings (for those of us eating healthy, this is at least 8 servings)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 (15-oz) container ricotta cheese
1 (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro ( I omit this)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups (16 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with peppers, divided (I use pepper jack cheese OR 1/2 pepper jack and 1/2 monteray jack)
2 (16-oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (2-lb, 13-oz) jar pasta sauce (I use spaghetti sauce)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
9 dried precooked lasagna noodles (found w/ dry pasta and these are dry)
Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro ( I omit this)

1. Stir together first 5 ingredients and 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese; set aside.

2. Mash beans with a potato masher or fork in a large bowl; stir in pasta sauce and cumin. Spread one-third of bean mixture on bottom of a lightly greased 13×9-inch baking dish.

3. Layer with 3 noodles, half of spinach mixture, and 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese; repeat layers. Top with remaining 3 noodles and remaining bean mixture.

4. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour; uncover and top with remaining 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese.

5. Bake 5 more minutes or until cheese melts. Garnish if desired.

See more wordless posts at 5 minutes for mom’s Wordless Wednesday.

What is my motivation?

This is a question that has baffled me for years.  Truth be told since becoming a work at home mom 5 1/2 years ago, I don’t seem to have much motivation at all. 

Sure there are the normal things that everyone gathers motivation from like taking care of my kids and house, being a successful business person, making money to help support our family.  Unfortunately these very important things don’t feel like enough.  Maybe that’s not the right word.  I am surely grateful for these things and feel extremely lucky to have and do them, but none of these things feel like the “one”. 

I know a big problem of mine is that I am a heavy duty procrastinator.  I put everything off until the last minute.  I do laundry at 7pm when the kids have come out of the bath to no clean underwear.  I put off work until the due date instead of working on projects over time.  Every year presents are wrapped in the hours before they are needed, usually purchased the day before (at the earliest).  I have thought about ordering our photo Christmas cards for the past month and just finally actually ordered them yesterday. 

I am going to try something new.  There is only one thing that I really want, badly enough to maybe do the trick.  Right now we rent our home.  I really want to buy a house so that we can decorate the way we want, plant what plants we want and really make it ours.  I know it might sound materialistic, but really it’s not.  I want to make a home for our family that is reflective of us, that we can truly make our own.  That we can feel safe that will always be there (especially when it is paid off) and D and I can retire in and our kids can visit with their kids.  So I am going to find pictures of houses that I like, and of rooms that I like and post them everywhere.  Next to my computer, on the refrigerator, on the front of my Household Organizer, in the car, even over the dirty laundry.  I want our goal of buying a house to be the first thing on my mind in the morning, the last thing I think of at night and every moment in between.  It’s not that I want to be obsessed with the house itself, but the idea of making it our own.  I want to figure out how everything I do ties in to that goal.  Some of those things might be hard, like how does doing laundry fit?, but I will find it!

Do you know what your motivation is?  How did you find it?

This week I was feeling very uninspired and our meal plan definitely reflects that.  The silver lining is that we have D’s work Christmas party on Friday night, which should be fun.  It’s potluck though, so I will still have to cook. 

  • Monday – Pancakes and hash browns
  • Tuesday – Spaghetti and salad
  • Wednesday – Black Bean Quesadillas
  • Thursday – Chili and Cornbread
  • Friday – Christmas party – Black Bean and Spinach Lasagna to take with us – the boys will have pizza
  • Saturday – Clean out the fridge night
  • Sunday – Chicken Enchiladas and salad

I’m hoping that next week I can come up with something a little more exciting next week. 

For more menu plans visit OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday.

One of my goals is to reduce our food waste.  When I think about all the time and effort we go to with our budget, how every little penny counts, to think that we are throwing food away, it just makes me cringe.  Money straight in the garbage.  So every week I am going to join The Frugal Girl and post pictures of our food waste.  The hope is to end up not posting any pictures, which would mean that we didn’t waste anything.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen this week.

We had a tomato go bad.  I was going to use it our salad on Monday night, but I was too late.  The top container was some leftover salsa from a local Mexican restaurant that we just couldn’t eat in time.  The bottom container was some leftover tomato sauce.  I just didn’t know what to do with such a small amount.  All in all, for my first week, I guess it’s not too bad. 

On the postive side, there were some peas that I was thinking were going to need to be included in the picture.  Then I remembered an idea I read somewhere to save all your scraps in a bag in the freezer to make a hodge-podge soup, so I started that.  I added some torn up pasta shells and some leftover turkey.  There was enough turkey, ham and stuffing leftover on Monday for one lunch for D, so I put that in a bag in the freezer too.  It’s so fun to be successful!

Check out The Frugal Girl’s Food Waste Friday for more posts on food waste.

Let them hear from you!

Have you ever purchased something from the grocery store and not been satisfied with it?  Especially food items that really can’t be returned?  Have you ever tried to contact the distributor of the product to let them know?  Or maybe you have a product that you love, have you every called and told the distributor that?  I highly recommend that you do; it can turn out very beneficial to you and your pocketbook.

For our Thanksgiving potluck at my Mom’s house I was in charge of bringing the sweet potatoes and the brussels sprouts.  The brussels sprouts were great, no problem.  The sweet potatoes on the other hand…well let’s just say I hit a snag. 

I make sweet potatoes that are the candied version with pecans.  (My mouth waters just thinking about it!)  Anyway, I use canned potatoes.  This year I thought I would just need 2 cans, but then later thought better and ended up buying another can, but from a different store.  Thanksgiving morning I started to make my dishes and opened one of the first two cans.  The potatoes and the light syrup they were in did not look like I remembered then from the previous year.  They were brown and the syrup was really thick.  So I opened the next can and it was a little better but still not right.  I thought something was up so I opened the third can.  It was like angels came out and sang when I saw how beautiful the potatoes were.  They were bright orange and the syrup was really the light syrup it was supposed to be.  I ended up high tailing it to the store I got it from and bought 3 more cans (I think the fright of not having sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving was a bit much for me so I ended up buying more than I needed!)  Thanksgiving was saved!

I saved the cans and decided to call the distributor.  They were so nice!  They apologized up and down for the two cans and were determined to make it right for me.  Pretty soon, via FedEx, I should be receiving a check to reimburse me for the two cans, an assortment of their other canned products, and several coupons to use in the future.  I am so excited, and so glad I took the 5 minutes to contact them.

I have done this before with a cereal that we really like, but could never find any coupons for.  I called them and told them how much we loved the cereal and asked if they ever printed coupons for it.  They were so happy to hear from me that they sent out 4 coupons for free cereal!

So it really does pay to contact these people.  All of the packages have a phone number and usually a website that you can visit.  Take a few minutes soon to contact one of your favorite distributors.  You may end up being glad you did!

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