December 21, 2009

Meal Planning Monday—Christmas Time!

Good morning all!  I hope your Monday has been a spectacular one thus far.  Did you know that Mondays are my favorite?  There is something so refreshing about a new start and looking forward to what the week holds—crazy, I know. 

This week, I thought I’d talk a bit about Christmas.  As you already know, it rolls around the same time each year, and therefore we’ve been able to plan ahead.  I’ve included the list of what we will be making and some notes on how we planned ahead.  I hope this might give you some ideas for your holiday season either this year or next.

Christmas Dinner—this year we’ll be pleased to host my father as part of our Christmas celebration.  With the passing of my grandmother, future holidays will all be different.  Who knows what our new traditions will be, but this year we’ll be happy to be with “PawPaw”.  My uncle and many of my cousins live in East TN, and we’ll most likely see them either on Christmas Day or afterwards. 

The food

Turkey—When our local Kroger store was relocating, I purchased a turkey at half off, AND I had a coupon!  This made our holiday bird cost about $5.  Since we’ll use the turkey for this meal, leftovers, and I’ll make broth from the carcass, the turkey should feed us for many meals.

Sausage Dressing—Many Southern homes make dressing instead of stuffing.  Based on what we have on hand, our family enjoys eggplant, mirliton, oyster, seafood, or sausage dressing.  I purchased sausage on sale and with a coupon, making it less than $1 per pound.  I had originally planned to buy local sausage from a farmer friend, but he ran out before I made it to the market.  His sausage is amazing, and I’ll make sure to plan even further ahead next year so that we have it.  I use celery, onions, green onions, parsley, and bell pepper in my dressing as well as cornbread.  We have frozen bell pepper from the garden and still have green onions and parsley ready to pick.  We have a few storage onions from earlier this year that will also be added in.

Ham—I bought a ham a few weeks ago at Kroger at a sale price with a coupon.  The ham was the big purchase for this meal at $13.  We will use it for the meal, leftovers, and I use the ham bone to make the black eyed peas for New Years Day.

Green Bean Casserole—I purchased canned green beans on sale at Kroger a month ago. I  bought canned cream of mushroom soup on sale with a coupon at Walgreens and did the same with the French fried onions.

Corn—Our area didn’t have a great corn season, but we were able to freeze a few gallons this year.  We have saved one gallon bag for Christmas Day.  I sauté it with a bit of butter.  I purchased organic butter half off at Kroger when our local store was relocating.  The butter was around $2/lb which is an amazing price for organic butter.

Turnip Greens—while turnip greens are not a traditional food, they are ready to pick in our garden, and my father loves them.  Since he has diabetes, this will be a healthy choice for him.

Sweet Potato—I’ll probably roast some sweet potatoes for my father and make Yum Yum Sweet Potato casserole for us.  We purchased locally grown sweet potatoes.  The farmer uses organic farming practices.  These were much more expensive than the grocery store sweet potatoes, but the flavor is far superior.  I bought these about a month ago and have stored them for Christmas.

Honey Whole Wheat bread—While this is not a perfect choice for my father, it is a better option than white bread or rolls.  He will not be able to eat much.  The fact that the whole wheat is freshly milled makes this a much healthier option for all to dine upon.  As far as preparation goes, I purchased the wheat in January of last year.  The honey was bought on sale (shame on me for not buying local honey, I know).  The organic butter sale was mentioned above.  If our daughter wants jelly on top, which she often does, we have some home canned strawberry, apple butter, and peach jam.

Relishes—We have home canned pickled beets, dill pickles, bread and butters, jalapeños, and onion relish—all but the bread and butters were from our garden and those were given to us by my sister-in-law.  I bought some black and green olives at Walgreens on sale with a coupon a few months ago.

Cranberry Sauce—I bought this on sale at Kroger a few weeks ago.  I’m not certain that we will use it since it is such a concentrated sweet, but we have it on hand just in case.

Gravy—Folks, I had in my hand a bag of gravy mix before I came to my senses.  Really, gravy from a mix?  We’ll have the drippings from the turkey and will cook down the turkey neck with the gizzards and some hard boiled eggs.  Waste not, want not.

Deviled eggs—I’ll make these without sweet pickles so that my father can also enjoy them.  I bought the eggs from a friend who owns chickens.  I’ve been saving the smaller eggs from each dozen just for this occasion.  I mix the yolks with a bit of Hellman’s Mayo (the ONLY mayo that I use if I can help it), minced green onion tops, chopped pimento olives, and Tony’s.  How I wish we could splurge on some caviar to top these!  I don’t know of any sales on caviar and have NEVER seen a coupon…alas!

Sautéed pears—I’ll take a quart of home canned pears and put them juice and all in a sauce pan.  I’ll add a tablespoon of butter and a few dashes of cinnamon.  This will cook down and the liquid will reduce until it makes a syrup. I’m not 100% sure I’ll make these, as they’ll be a major temptation for my father.  It is in the plan, though, so I thought I’d mention it.

Desserts-- a sugar free banana pudding for my father made with sugar free pudding that was a filler item at Walgreens, sugar free cool whip free with a coupon, milk from our local dairy Cruze Dairy Farm, marked down bananas, and sugar free cookies (too bad those weren’t on sale!)  Daughter dearest and I will make gingerbread men.  I’ll either make homemade pumpkin pie or butternut squash pie.  I have canned pumpkin and have the butternut squash puree ready in the freezer.  I have some lard that a friend of mine gave me earlier in the year.  (I use it for the pie crust, and I am aware that this will sound strange to folks in different regions of the country).  I have canned evaporated milk that I bought free after coupons and Mega Sale at Kroger.  I stocked up on sugar a few weeks back when there was a sale and I had some coupons.  I’ll pour the cream off of our whole milk and whip it for the topping to the pie.  If we are really needing more sweets, which is doubtful, I’ll make some rice krispie treats and cut them in Christmas shapes with a cookie cutter.  (I bought the cereal at a great price with the $5/4 coupon at Walgreens a couple of weeks ago).

What will we be eating the rest of the week?  Just like on the week of Thanksgiving, most of our meals before Christmas will be simple dishes that were made ahead from the freezer or quick meals from the pantry.  Then after Christmas we will enjoy the leftovers, and I’ll make a big pot of vegetable soup with the turkey carcass and vegetables we put up from this year’s garden. 

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