The ramblings of a woman,
wife, & mother, who loves:
Jesus / my man / the three,
learning about parenting /
mamahood / childbirth,
cooking foods healthy /
international / yummy,
pretending to garden /
write / design,
attempting to run /
exercise / lift weights,
enjoying traveling /
camping / adventures,
finding ways to love /
serve / sacrifice for others.

It is not to say she does these things
with style or grace, or even skill.

Battle Dish Month

March 4, 2008 - 10:00 PM

Josh and I continually are coming up with grand schemes for life and our family. Sometimes helpful ideas that could benefit mankind as a whole, other times they are downright stupid ideas that we wouldn't try on anyone. Some are gems though, like serving dinner in levels like a video game? Priceless!

This month we are combining our creative forces and going for a month of Battle Dishes! (Said in the Sunday, Sunday, Sunday voice with feedback and everything.)

We have 2 situations we are trying to rectify in one month's time:

Situation #1: Revamping the grocery budget... again.
Situation #2: A recent trend of disgruntled eaters.

#1... I heard of a woman who spends only 50 cents a person a meal for her family. I had honestly never paid attention to meal by meal price breakdowns before, I only think total month. (I am sure some of you have been doing this for-ev-er and are thinking duh, but mind you, cooking for me is a hobby and one I really love, so bear with me.) Then, I started looking at my favorite dishes to make and their cost and realized that some dishes were way out of whack and I could seriously lower our food budget by getting rid of them. Yes, I was blind, but now I see.

#2... When our boys stayed with friends while we were in AK, we heard continual stories from the family and our boys about the foods they ate and their response to trying new dishes. It showed us there was need to work in this area.

Combining, we now have Battle Dish Month!

Here's the deal, I love to enjoy food and see value in cutting costs in this area so I went through my cookbooks and online looking for new recipes that are yummy but also affordable on the cost factor (not sacrificing healthiness or quality). Then, I realized how this will create new dishes and have new ingredients in the house and that the boys may not be as excited about them as I am... in here enters the fact that they need to open their palettes to new things (as well as not buck the normal stuff) and wa-la, Battle Dish Month is born.

Now I am not trying ALL new recipes. I kept ones that were cost effective and am bringing back old ones I had forgotten about or had scrimped on by making them more "kid friendly." But there are new ones planned and the boys have been fore-warned.

Is this fair? Well, sure. It is not like we are having them eat fast food every day. They will be doing what they are supposed to be doing as kids their age and eating healthy foods and healthy portions. We aren't forcing it on them or being cruel about it. (Though with a name like Battle Dish it would carry that stereotype.) Seriously, they like apples but not baked apples with cinnamon? See how it is really good in the long run?

Is it going to be hard for us then? Well, sure. Josh wants me to make brussel sprouts (Amy! Quick! I need your recipe stat!) and I am not so excited about that one but he isn't either and he wants to do it anyway. And, I may have to make casseroles here and there, which are not big fav's of Josh and mine but the kids enjoy them and the darn things are very cost effective. Needless-to-say, it will be a month of giving and taking on all sides.

And Miriam? Miriam is like Mikey and will eat anything. The only thing she refuses to eat/drink is anything fuzzy or carbonated. That is one particular we can live with.


If I haven't written it before (the years are getting fuzzy so I may have)... it reminds me of how I was in high school and I would take my little sister to McDonald's (like every day) and buy us food and my siblings said I was a push over and then said of me, "When you have kids you'll say, 'Eat your potatoes.' And they'll say, 'NO!' You'll say, 'Eat your broccoli.' And they'll say, 'NO!' And you'll say, 'Let's go to<

Response to Battle Dish Month

  • Amy said on March 5, 2008 - 6:45 AM

    Here's the's WAY better with fresh ones which aren't exactly cost effective! Brussels Sprouts with Browned Garlic This recipe is from Reviewers average 5 stars (out of 5) - it's not just me! Ingredients 6 cups trimmed Brussels sprouts, halved (about 2 pounds) 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon black pepper Cooking spray 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice Preparation Preheat oven to 425°. Combine the Brussels sprouts, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, salt, and pepper. Place sprouts mixture in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until sprouts are crisp-tender. Keep warm. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic, and cook for 3 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in juice. Add to sprouts mixture; toss well. Yield 6 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)

  • Dana said on March 5, 2008 - 8:24 AM

    Thanks Amy!!!! I am really getting psyched up to try them and garlic always warms my heart to any kind of food! :)!

  • Blakely said on March 5, 2008 - 8:56 AM

    I'd love to hear about any great new, cost-effective, and healthy recipes you find. I've been trying to limit our grocery budget lately, but we're also wanting to eat healthier, which we've found to mean "more expensive."

  • Dana said on March 5, 2008 - 9:06 AM

    I know Blakely! That is the same thing I keep thinking! One of the things someone mentioned to me were soups, lots of veggies and last for days. I am going to try out a wild rice soup recipe tomorrow night, I will let you know how it goes! We are also trying to get more organic foods, natural ingredients and whole grains in our diet too, which is fun for my love of food, but still I am trying to figure that whole system out. I need to read up on that one more! One thing for us is bread and before I demolished our bread machine in a freak pizza dough accident, we were making homemade bread every other day and that was both healthy and cost effective. However, until I sledge hammer it back together or we find a steal on ebay, Josh just found a local bread shop that makes fresh bread daily for cheap and I have started making bread the old fashioned knuckle way, oy!

  • Maren said on March 5, 2008 - 9:24 AM

    I absolutely love it! I hope you'll give updates and also share new recipe ideas that are inexpensive. We've been rocking the dry beans over here in this household and I know it's been nice on the pocketbook. Jemima, so far, happily eats beans. I can't wait to hear more! We love and miss you Cramers!!

  • Dana said on March 5, 2008 - 9:38 AM

    Beans indeed! Lentils, barley, bulgar, etc! I was going to find something to do with those for next week! Do you have any fav recipes you like to make with them?

  • Tony said on March 5, 2008 - 10:44 AM

    When it comes to brussels sprouts, I like them just steamed with some salt on top. Unfortunately, I find it's a fine line between enough salt to make them taste great and so much salt that it's all you taste. We've been going through garbanzo beans like crazy lately -- mostly because we've developed a fascination with humus. That said, humus is easy and everyone likes it. When it comes to food and our budget, one of the best things that Kirsten has done is to spend some time before shopping to plan out what we're going to have and write it down on a calendar. When I was getting paid once a month, Kirsten would plan the whole month's meals -- and then write them in pencil, so it was easy to change things. Now she does it every two weeks, since that's how often I get paid. At any rate, the planning meant that she could go shop for the best deals on food, make fewer trips to the store, and have an eye on the month's total food budget. Not every meal is cheap, but because she knows about how much will be spent, she knows how often she can mix in a more expensive meal. All that said, food prices are rising. We used to get by on about $1.67 / person-day, but it's now up to about $2 / person-day, on average. What that means for us is that we're scaling back on other budget categories.

  • Dana said on March 5, 2008 - 11:03 AM

    Indeed! I am a big fan of planning out exactly what is on the food schedule each week! And ONLY buying what I write down on the list! What a time and money saver that is!!

  • Alicia M said on March 5, 2008 - 11:39 AM

    This makes me happy! I think it's so great for kids to try new foods. Research shows it takes 10-15 times of introducing a new food for kids to accept it, so they may frown at beans the first time, but eventually they will start eating. A dietitian I really respect who's area of expertise is feeding kids has this "Division of Responsibility" theory. She says that parents are in charge of the when and what of food, and kids are responsible for how much or even if they eat. That way you can ask them to at least try a new food, but you're still letting them listen to their own body signals in terms of hunger. The cleaning the plate approach can sometimes lead to difficulties later in life with always feeling like they have to eat everything in front of them, even if they aren't hungry. But with parents in control of when, that means if the kids skip out on dinner they don't get to eat a snack later on. Eventually they'll be hungry enough to eat what's offered. Also, for organics- there are many places you can find the "dirty dozen" list, which are the most chemically contaminated fruits/veggies that you should try to purchase organic instead. Organic bananas are not really the best choice when being budget minded, because you remove the peel, which is where most of the chemicals would be. Strawberries on the other hand and really sprayed with pesticides and you don't have any peel to remove.

  • Alicia S. said on March 5, 2008 - 1:30 PM

    I think Amy's brussels sprouts recipe would work well on the grill, similar to grilled asparagus. Where are you buying your bread? I am trying to cook more often for financial and health reasons, as much as I love cooking, I don't usually want to do it after being at work for 9 or 10 hours. I also try to cook in large quantities. I could eat the same pan of lasagna twice a day for a week, however, Tony gets bored with dishes by day 2 and wants something new. We have a tiny freezer, so freezing and rotating is out too.

  • Leslie said on March 5, 2008 - 3:07 PM

    LOL.. Dana you crack me up!!! I forced amber to take a bread machine out of our garage that we weren't using, it's now been sitting in the back seat of her car for months.. you should ask her if you could borrow it, or I am sure she might be willing to give it to you for some yummy bread :) P.s. I like the recpie on the chicken stove top box its a casserole type thingy, but let me know if you would like some of it to try I can give you a box or two :)

  • Dana said on March 5, 2008 - 6:32 PM

    Alicia - that is great news! I am glad that dietitians agree! I need to find that list of what TO buy organics, do you have it? Alicia S - Josh went to the Bread Garden in old Tate's. He got some amazing breads all for 1.50 a loaf, 9 grain goodness. That the best buy for all natural grain laden bread that I have seen. Do you know of any others? Josh is like Tony and prefers things switched around too. Do you have a George Foreman grill? They are amazing, and if you just thawed out some sort of meat before you left in the AM and then by the time you got home you could just cook it in there? I don't know if you were asking for suggestions but just a random idea. Leslie - I will totally hit Amber up for that! Don't you have a box or twenty of stove top? :)!

  • Alicia M said on March 5, 2008 - 7:37 PM

    Here's a good link on the organic foods. $1.50/loaf for all natural whole grain bread is FABULOUS!! The one's I usually buy myself at Fareway are usually $3.50/loaf. My two requirements for bread- whole grain, and no high fructose corn syrup. I'll have to check out the Bread Garden. (Although they are somewhat a competitor with their java station, so I'll have to check with mike! :)

  • Alicia M said on March 5, 2008 - 7:46 PM

    One more comment! If you're looking for a budget minded way to do fruits/vegetables, consider purchasing a CSA share. That way you're getting locally grown organic produce. You get a box of whatever's ripe each week for about 20 weeks during the growing season. There are a few CSAs in the IC area, and usually a full share is plenty for an average family. A lot of places also offer the option of exchanging work for food, which may be fun for you guys since you all are gardening pros! I've been wanting to purchase a CSA share for awhile, but I think a half share would still be too much produce for us, and I'm not sure yet how to work it into our budget at this point, but I think they are wonderful!

  • Dana said on March 6, 2008 - 7:08 AM

    Alicia M - Thanks for the link! I hear you on the breads in town! The one Josh likes best is $3.50 or $2.50 on sale BUT the Bread Garden's bread is great because they only have 5 or 6 ingredients and are really yummy. Our kids even really liked them and they generally do not like the whole grain breads. One more question Alicia M - I looked it up and saw 3 CSA's in our area, do you know anything about any of them or know anyone I could ask? But I assume they mostly work during the spring and summer, not so much now in the winter? I am definitely going to have to learn how to can this year! :)! I wanted to post the top 12 here in case someone else was wondering. This is from the site Alicia M mentioned... The “Dirty Dozen”: Must-buy organic foods Fruit * Apples * Cherries * Grapes, imported (Chili) * Nectarines * Peaches * Pears * Raspberries * Strawberries Vegetables * Bell peppers * Celery * Potatoes * Spinach No need to go organic with these foods: Fruit * Bananas * Kiwi * Mangos * Papaya * Pineapples Vegetables * Asparagus * Avocado * Broccoli * Cauliflower * Corn * Onions * Peas

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About Me and This Blog...

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2012 to CA, MN, CO
   Ladies Trip to Napa Valley
   My Parents Rode in a Plane!

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2012 to MN and CO
   Vacation to the North Shore and Cabin
   Boulder for the Summer
   Life in Boulder

Begin Our Adventures of Winter/Spring 2012 to UT
   The Drive to CO/UT Begins
   Vacation in Moab
   Living in Moab / Denver

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2011 to CA
   The Drive to CA Begins
   Living in the SF
   Living in the Suburbs
   Coming Home to IC

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2010 to Eastern Europe
   Life at Czech English Camp
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