Breakfast today was a bowl of cereal with powdered milk. Growing up, powdered milk was a staple in my household. My milk came out of a beige plastic pitcher and I thought that was totally normal, until I tasted the real thing at other people's houses. I guess the powdered version is better than no milk at all, but I'm looking forward to fresh milk from the grocery store.
Annnnnnnd... speaking of the grocery store, I had an epiphany today: I can't buy food, but I CAN return bottles. Does that sound a little trashy? It is, I'll admit to that, and it might be considered cheating, just a little. Bottle return slips are practically cash, but I'm choosing to look the other way on this one. We've had dinner with friends at our place almost every Sunday since November, and usually, Patrick and the guys have a beer or two. I've had every intention of returning those bottles for the deposit and using it towards future dinners, but where do they go? The garage. Dozens of them. In the past eight months, I'm pretty sure that I've never returned a single one. It looks like a homeless man's hideout in there. If Patrick, Justin, and Rob each had two beers during dinner, we're looking at six bottles per night. At four Sundays per month for eight months we're looking at approximately 192 bottles, or $19.20. Imagine what delicious food I could buy with that? I loaded bag after bag of bottles into the trunk and headed to Family Fare to return them. I felt like the biggest alcoholic as I pushed that overflowing cart of shame into the bottle return room. I think people in the parking lot were praying for me. In the end, the uncomfortable stares were worth it because I walked out with a handful of slips totaling $11.40.
Shopping at Family Fare has other perks as well: free coffee, water, and popcorn at the entrance (I drank a cup of free coffee as I dropped bottles into the machine. I can only imagine that passers by throught I was trying to 'sober up') And then there is the Yes Rewards program. With the rewards card, shoppers earn points that can eventually be traded in for free food. I have 600 points, so I traded in 250 points for a carton of eggs. Yay, free eggs! With the bottle slips, I bought tortilla chips for Patrick to munch on, a bag of frozen broccoli, 'Bacon' bits (like Bacos: completely vegetarian because I have to have my bacon), two mini cartons of heavy cream, and chocolate chips. About 8 years ago, I bought an ice cream maker with the idea that people would gather at my home every summer and we'd enjoy a bowl a freshly churned ice cream in the hot sun. The reality is that I've never taken it out of the box - not even once to look at it. Its going to make its debut at Patrick's birthday dinner on Sunday. After all of that shopping, I still had $1.03 left!
I devoured the other half of my Panara salad with a bag of Patrick's 'trail mix' for Lunch.
Patrick got lucky with free pizza at work for a Snack.
On the back of the BOCA 'Meatless Cick'n Nuggets' bag is a recipe for Sweet & Sour Chick'n. I didn't have any of the ingredients, so I made up my own Chick'n Stir Fry recipe using what I had in my cupboards and the bag of frozen broccoli from this morning's trip. The chopped peanuts are actually from a McDonalds sundae. The little packet has been in my cupboard for months. How smart am I? They add texture and protein...and they're free.
Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
1 bag of meatless BOCA Chick'n Nuggets
1 bag of broccoli
1 12oz. bottle of stir fry sauce (I used Kikkoman's Stir Fry Sauce)
1 small red pepper
1 small onion
1 tbs. chopped peanuts
Following the directions on the bag, bake the Chick'n Nuggets.
Dice the onion and pepper, then saute in a pan with olive oil. Add the broccoli.
Cook the rice noodles in another pan.
Slice the cooked nuggets into strips and add to the veggie pan. Pour in the sauce. Add 1tbs. of water if the stir fry isn't very saucy.
Stir in the noodles.
Spoon into bowls, top with chopped peanuts and enjoy.