Meal planning for this week

I’m trying to make sure we have rent by the end of the week so I was crossing my fingers to be able to do decent meal planning with what the food pantry offered yesterday. No such luck,honestly. Two cabbages and a bag of carrots were the only produce they had. I came away with lots of canned fruit, as much bread as I could take, ground turkey, hot dogs,turkey burger, rice, and some stale “spicy cheese flavored” taco shells. I’m sure I’ll manage some hellacious acts of pantry anarchy with some of it but it’s still disappointing. I think rent will be a little late. We need some grocery basics and gas for the car.
Yeah, that plan of mine to keep money in savings for groceries has not gone well.

On a more uplifting note, there’s a cute little garden happening behind the community center the food pantry is held at. I see rhubarb, oregano, some other herbs.
I have no idea who manages this garden or what it’s used for. My understanding is that once upon a time there was a large garden that served the food pantry but it was at someone’s house and that person has since sold the house and moved out of the area. If I felt like we had any secure permanency in this house, I’d organize a replacement garden on the acres here.



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Pantry Anarchy: Oatmeal Pancakes

Why “Pantry Anarchy”? Because recipes were made to be broken when you’re broke.


I have an abundance of Maypo oatmeal packets. Judging from reactions when I showed a picture of them before, a lot of people relying on a food bank are familiar with these oatmeal packets.

Fun and useless trivia: MTV’s branding was inspired by Maypo’s ads in the 50’s. I guess they had a kid saying, “I want my Maypo!”. MTV’s 80’s version was “I want my MTV!”

There’s an unfortunate thing about these….

They don’t taste great. Even dressed up w/ jam or sweetened with brown sugar. It’s a bit of a texture thing as well as a taste issue. Did Maypo taste better in the 50’s or did they just pay that kid a lot of money to be that happy about eating it? Or maybe packets from the food bank are stale? I’m not sure what’s happening here.

Now, there’s the viewpoint that it’s better than nothing ( especially when it’s free) but as one of my favorite comic book writers Gail Simone said recently, ‘Just because something is “better than nothing” doesn’t mean it’s any good’. True story.

Still, I have a bunch of them and when life gives you oatmeal packets, throw them in a bowl and make something out of them.Or something like that.

I took my trusty oatmeal pancake recipe from The Joy of Cooking ( if you find a copy of this at a yard sale ,snatch it. It’s one of those must-have cookbooks) and futzed around with it and came up with this:



Another thing I get plenty of at the food pantry is canned , unsweetened applesauce. It’s very thin and finely puréed. It’s excellent for baking and cooking. Eggs are something we don’t always have , so I try to substitute when I can. 1/4 cup applesauce = one egg.

Here is part of my highly technical process in action:

My dearest ones said they were the best pancakes I’ve ever made and were surprised the Maypo packets were in them.

The best looking pancakes were eaten by the time I got to take a picture but what I’m really showing you here is the plate. I am a super klutz and since moving, I’ve managed to break all but two of the plates we own. It’s actually a good thing I only buy second hand or get things from free piles/Freecycle.

Our food pantry has a “Give and Take Closet”. It’s a room with clothing,dishes,housewares,etc. If you need something,take it. They are very clear that if you need something, absolutely take it and don’t worry about giving something in return but I’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to clear out clothing and other things from our own house when I do take something. So, these plates were something I brought home and so far, I’ve managed to not break any. Go, me!









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Recipe: Parsnip & Potato Hash


Parsnips are one of those root veggies people ask me about a lot. As in,”What are these and what do I do with them?”
From what I gather, they are a staple in CSA boxes and also plentiful in the winter months at food banks that are fortunate enough to be able to distribute produce.

Full disclosure here: I am not a huge fan of parsnips. They are a bit too close to a carrot for my liking. Carrots are the only veggie I truly don’t like. I know. I’m a weirdo. BUT… I will still eat both carrots & parsnips, especially if the price is right.

Parsnips do have a lot of  nutritional stuff going on for them. Just half of a large parsnip has 50 units of vitamin A, 541 mgs potassium, 16 mgs of vitamin C , and “healthy increments of phosphorus and iron” (Thanks, Bert Greene for that info ). Way back when, Roman aristocracy were the only ones who ate parsnips, usually highly sweetened and as a dessert. And now, here we are in modern times where the noble parsnip is now “second-class citizens of the vegetable world, ordinary, peasant-like and low in price.”

So, if you’re not a fan of the taste, you can comfort yourself w/ nutritional information and pretend you’re a Roman aristocrat to help get you through.

My trick for food my kids (or myself) aren’t crazy about is to cook it with something that helps mask it. This weekend, this is what I decided to use parsnips for… a simple hash with eggs. Basically, just peel (or don’t ) and dice both potatoes and parsnips.

The beautiful thing about this (as a non-fan of parsnips) is that you can’t really tell the difference between the taters & snips.

I also added a few cloves of garlic, chopped.

In a skillet, heat oil and throw the veggies in. I seasoned with rosemary, thyme, salt & pepper. You can use whatever herbs you happen to have. My daughter likes to use cumin and hungarian paprika for a bit spicier version.

Cook until both potatoes and parsnips are tender, about 10 minutes. That’s it!

And you know why I will never be a food blogger? My food is a mess and I don’t care. Look at this unsightly egg.

Still delicious.

How to cook seasonal winter vegetables (INFOGRAPHIC)


via here: How to cook seasonal winter vegetables (INFOGRAPHIC).

More than any other time of the year, winter is when people send me pictures of Mystery Food that was in their CSA or food bank box asking, “What even is this and what do I do with it?”  Parsnips & rutabagas are big ones.  If you luck out with a good produce sale or freegan score, this infographic is a good rough guide to how to cook these winter veggies.


See also: What to do with mystery produce


Food for Fines, Goodwill paying disabled folks subminimum wages ,and an amazing Jamaican woman raising 32 kids…

Since my last linky post was heavy with info that was angering and depressing, trying to put some more positive things in this evening’s round-up. It’s not all positive but mostly.

⇒ via @MobileCuisine St Louis Church Opens Food Truck For The Homeless –

⇒ Gloria Malone ( ) wrote this excellent piece about how the lack of support structures fail single mothers and their children. A society that forces women to make impossible decisions is.…

⇒ This is one of my favorite things I saw this week  – FoodForFines

This is an annual food drive initiated by the Phoenix Library and St Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. Libraries & food banks working together seems like a logical thing in my mind! I love this idea and definitely plan on suggesting something like this to my local library.

The USDA seeking more summer meal programs for low income children – This is good news. There are some programs that serve free meals to children while school isn’t in session but they’re usually in cities or if in rural areas, not accessible for all families.

Goodwill Pays Subminimum Wages to Disable Employees –  Why am I not surprised? “$3.27 for 24.88 hours of work.” Ugh, these people.

⇒ On Shinola, Detroit’s Misguided White Knight – “Listen, I can stomach hipsters planting flowers written with nice things about Detroit for a dog park one day. I can take $500 quartz watches and a section on their webshop entitled “Curated” that offers American flags that cost more than a brand new car. I can even take ten dollar cold-pressed juices when the city lacks grocery stores. Even those aren’t too much of an affront. What I can’t take is the white knighting of Shinola’s promotional campaigns. The company insists that “Detroit isn’t as bad as it seems”—that there are happy and proud people here too. To demonstrate just how optimistic and amazing Detroiters are, Shinola enlisted Bruce Weber and Carolyn Murphy—both out of towners, both white—to shoot the company’s latest ad campaign. The accompanying video, subtitled “A snapshot of life in the Motor City,” features photogenic models pedaling two thousand dollar bikes through the city. Photos of adorable black kids with a beautiful, benevolent white woman seem to be the centerpiece of Weber’s campaign for the company. They even have a video of one of the little girls rapping. Bruce Weber is quoted saying, “People were really friendly. They looked you in the eye when they said hello on the street, and they greeted you with a smile.” Detroit may be bankrupt, but that doesn’t mean its citizens aren’t normal, functioning human beings, Bruce.

⇒ This is an incredible woman. Her name is Annemarie Richards. She’s a Jamaican woman who has devoted her life to finding parentless,homeless children, raising them as her own and giving them opportunities they would never have otherwise. Just listen to her passion. It’s infectious.
The Make Life Better Foundation promised to donate school supplies and a computer lab to the children if this video reached 50,000 views by April 10th and it’s already way past that, so yay! Good stuff.

ICYMI- Recipe & Food Round-Up: Using powdered milk,preserving lemons, gluten-free crockpot recipes and more

Because some people like their food & politics separate (as if there is such a thing!) , from now on the weekly wrap-ups will be one for food and one for the other stuff *insert smiley face here*
(I’m trying to use less emoticons in the New Year)

80 Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Recipes -most look pretty frugal.

15 Ways to Preserve Lemons | Punk Domestics -lemons are on of those things in season right now, so make the most of it.

Cheesy Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes Recipe | Just a Taste- a great use for leftover mashed potatoes. Or maybe a way to use potatoes in a different way

Saving Money with Powdered Milk | Hillbilly Housewife – Powdered milk is inexpensive but it’s also one of those thing food banks give to everyone in a standard package. That link has a lot of great info.

How to Eat on a Beans-and-Rice Budget when Your Husband Hates Beans – Bean Hater Husband in my house,too. I’m sure he’ll be ok but I do try to make some adjustments for himBeans-and-Rice-Budget

Poor to Rich a Day at a Time: Lentil Loaf -Lentil Loaf. Like meatloaf but cheaper.

A Life Beyond Money: How to Avoid Produce Waste -just some tips.

Homemade Pop Tarts from Once A Month Mom |  – Hey, I love pop tarts…I just don’t like all the preservatives & crap in them. I would probably use homemade pie crust for these (it’s not hard. i swear)
15 Minute Breakfast Pizza -cheap,easy & yumm-o