daily recap · planning · repurposing leftovers · what we ate

Day 46: Grilled Cheese with Corned Beef & Green Beans with Chicken and Rice

For lunch we made grilled cheese with leftover shredded sharp cheddar, marble rye, mustard and leftover corned beef. The ground corned beef was pretty crumbly so it mixed well with the cheese but wouldn’t have been great just sliced on a sandwich.

After lunch I made some Spiced Applesauce Corn Muffins using yogurt, applesauce and cornmeal that is/was all taking up a lot of room in my fridge and freezer. I posted the recipe here. Matt had one as a snack and said they were tasty! I froze some and left some out for him to have for breakfasts for the rest of the week.

For dinner we had some green beans to use up from last week’s produce box and some cooked chicken leftover from yesterday’s fritters. I don’t love green beans because they are a lot of work for something I find kind of blah but it made for a good dinner. Matt cooked them some chili oil/crisp, oyster sauce and sesame seeds for a sort of homemade takeout vibe.

I’m trying to plan for food to prep for tomorrow for Wednesday when we finally go the store. Last time I planned ahead and had soup I had made ready to heat up for lunch and we just had quesadillas with leftovers for dinner. Matt found shopping really stressful and it took a long time to both shop and unpack/organize everything. I’m leaning towards making tuna pasta salad for lunch and split pea soup in the slow cooker (prepping both tomorrow) since I have some boneless “carving” ham in the fridge. We are really scraping the bottom of what we have in the fridge now. It’s been almost a month since we shopped last and we haven’t had much delivered besides oil, a few produce boxes, flour, bread and yeast. We have a good amount of frozen fish but that all takes more effort and energy than I think I will have on Wednesday and doesn’t really yield leftovers if I were to have it tomorrow.

Tomorrow I think I might make some frozen ravioli because we have a bag taking up a lot of room in the freezer and I can dress it up with whatever vegetables arrive in our produce box tomorrow.

I found out we won second place in the challenge! Not too shabby. I can’t imagine first place made food that was any tastier than ours though!

Non-food related activities:

We watched the ever delightful Muppet’s Treasure Island on Disney+ and Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist on Hulu. I keep feeling like we should play a game or be more abitious in the evenings but I don’t have the energy.

I started listening to podcasts while playing Animal Crossing which turned out to be an excellent idea. I normally would only listen when washing the dishes or driving alone but since we are here 24/7 that hasn’t been happening.

daily recap · planning · repurposing leftovers · what we ate

Day 43: Hard-boiled Eggs, Tuna Salad & Chili

Another oddly chilly day for late April. Our backyard is basically flooded from the rain. I’m not eager to get to super hot weather but a few warmish sunny days to lounge in the hammock would be nice!

For lunch I made tuna salad (2 3.5 oz cans tuna, mayo, dill relish, dash Goddess dressing, lemon pepper) on white bread (me) or pumpernickel swirl (Matt) with bibb lettuce from the produce box. I made double what we need and refrigerated the rest.

I had a snack of a hard-boiled egg dipped in “everything bagel” seasoning. I got the idea from these pre-packed eggs with dry dip I tried at the Natural Products Expo. It’s really good!

We heated up the leftover chili and I had it over some baked potatoes to use them up and Matt had it over pasta. He made extra pasta so I stirred it into the leftover tuna to stretch that out.

We are out of Utz chips and our favorite pretzels. I’m very close to ordering a case of pretzels from the factory. It seems a little nuts but if they had good expiration dates it might be worth it. We eat about a bag a month and had planned to pick up more at the pretzel museum when it got warmer but that’s of course closed now. We had bought 6 bags back in November and finished them up yesterday.

We had a little ice cream with my favorite caramel sauce and we are almost out of both. I think we will be able to get more ice cream but I get the caramel sauce from this tiny supermarket further in the city and I can’t imagine getting there anytime soon.

Matt picked up our box from Blue Hill Tavern for the contest. I’m a little disappointed. The soft crabs were supposed to be local “whales” but the owner said couldn’t get them (understandable) so we have some frozen tiny crabs from somewhere else and a few shrimp. No mirepoix, just a tiny bit of mystery grated cheese, and about half the amount of potatoes I was expecting, 1 onion, 1 carrot, a tiny Roma tomato, 2 ears of corn, cream, butter, 4 eggs, a packet of Kool-aid, 2 kumquats, a slice of watermelon, and a bottle of wine. The last two week’s boxes look a ton better than what we ended up about. We’ll use it of course, but I wish we were told that the crabs weren’t available and we could have just gotten something else or tried another week. I was excited at the idea of an activity for the weekend (and very very excited for soft crabs!!) but now it’s shaping up to be more of a chore. I had some fun ideas but they really won’t work with tiny crabs, a tiny amount of shrimp and 4 baby potatoes. We can use our own oil/spices/garnish for the contest but there isn’t a lot to work with. I’m sorry we spent the money now. It is nice to help out a local business which was part of my goal so I’m trying to focus on that.

Non-food related activities:

I read some of an ARC of the upcoming Lisa Jewell novel. I’ve been reading her books for like 20 years now! OY! They are so uneven but they are normally pretty entertaining.

We watched the Hedwig episode of Riverdale. I think it was their best musical episode yet! Heathers was by far the worse.

daily recap · planning · recipe · repurposing leftovers · what we ate

Fish Stick Sandwiches, Salad & Chili (day 41 recap)

Another chilly day! At least it was sunny for most of it. Our beach plums (above) are really blooming! Last year was our best yield so far (after planting the bushes several years ago) but we didn’t really take advantage of it because my mom was nearly diagnosed with her brain cancer. I just didn’t have the capacity to worry about it. The plums are very small (like cherry-sized) and require a lot of prep. Hopefully, we will get a good yield this year too and we certainly will be home for it.

For lunch, we finished off the box of fish sticks we opened a couple of weeks ago in sandwiches with tartar sauce and a sprinkle of Old Bay. I was really pleased with them! I hope Aldi has them again, they were wild, sustainably caught, and quite tasty. I also made a salad with lettuce from our produce box (please let us not get so much lettuce again for a long time), leftover beets and potatoes from making the mimosa salad, cucumber, red onion, the last of the feta crumbles and a drizzle of balsamic. It was okay but I am not eager to eat a cold boiled potato in a green salad again anytime soon.

Dinner was a super basic chili I made in the slow cooker: 2 cans kidney beans, 2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes with chiles, lots of spices, 1 1/4 lb cubed sirloin, onion, and garlic. We had it with leftover cheese from making quesadillas, red onion, sour cream, and tortilla chips. It was pretty tasty! I wish we had fresh peppers but the canned tomatoes with chiles are pretty good.

We also had some ice I bought early in March thinking we might want a treat we didn’t make ourselves in April. Good thinking, past Rachel

A local restaurant has been doing a “Chopped” style challenge where you can get a box of seafood, meat, wine, vegetables, eggs, butter, cream, fruit, etc for $50 to make a meal with. You post what you create and you can win a gift card to the restaurant. Normally I don’t know if I’d do that but $50 seemed fair for all that food and drink and this week one of the ingredients is soft crabs!! My absolute favorite. We have to pick up the box Friday and make it by Monday afternoon. At the very least it will be a fun activity. I am a little nervous about the pickup but I think it will be okay. We need to go to the store next week anyway.

Non-food related activities:

We finished Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu. So many frustrating people. We also are finishing up Poldark season 4 on Prime, we had watched it live back when it aired but went on vacation We never saw the last three episodes because we missed one on the PBS app and PBS is pretty ruthless about episodes only being available for 10 days or so. I noticed we have season 5 on DVD coming up on our Netflix DVD queue (people laugh that we still get DVDs but they are great now! So many movies and shows aren’t available for streaming and we have so much time) so I thought we should catch up in case they are sent out soon. We only have like 40 discs in our queue and new stuff (last season of Mr Robot, please!) gets jumped over and we end up with some movie from 1983 I only vaguely know why we wanted to watch it. At least we know we like Poldark! I sort of prefer binge watching it anyway because it’s easier to keep everyone straight; they have a habit of picking up some very old storyline suddenly and all those white men in topcoats look alike to me.

daily recap · planning · what we ate

Orange Oatmeal Muffins & Hot Dogs (Day 26 recap, 4/7/20)

Matt made those sweet potato cornbread muffins a little over a week ago (time both flies and doesn’t move) and ate his last one today. After lunch I whipped up a batch of orange-oatmeal muffins. They are perfect for self-quarantining because they don’t use a lot of flour (because of using oats), citrus lasts a long time (these oranges are around a month old) , use only one egg and instead of a whole cup of milk, I made up a third with fresh orange juice. Plus they use oil instead of butter. They are really tasty too! A lovely light orange flavor and they are filling without being heavy.

I made a little too much of spaetzle dish yesterday because I didn’t want to have to come up with something new to use the pork in again and I knew today would be the last day the pork would be safe to eat. However the leftovers weren’t quite enough for both of us to have some. Luckily we had some leftover chicken from Sunday so for lunch Matt had the leftover chicken and potatoes and I had the leftover spätzle with smoked pork and cabbage. It was a relief just to have to heat something up in the skillet vs making something new!

For dinner we had hot dogs, tots and salad with lettuce from last week’s produce box and some red onion, tomato and cucumber I bought last week at Aldi. I am planning more hands-on meals for tomorrow and what we had expiring the soonest was chicken and Matt had some for lunch. I really enjoyed having an easy meal day!

We froze the bone-in chicken thighs I bought last week. The expiration dates weren’t as great as they were when I shopped on 3/12 but I really wanted to stock up so I ended up with a lot of chicken (1 whole, 2x boneless thighs and 1 pack bone-in thighs) with very similar expiration dates (4/9,4/11). I don’t love chicken so I don’t want to eat it every day! Anyway, I marinated some thighs (expiration 4/9) tonight to have for tomorrow’s main meal.

Non-food related activities:

I’m reading Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet and really identifying with the main character’s experience at college. It’s sort of unsettling.

I tried to read Gish Jen’s newest book, The Resisters because I have loved all of her other novels but I couldn’t get into at all. It’s not my genre and while it is kind of cute I don’t really enjoy books with made up names and worlds.

We are watching Blood on Acorn. I had watched the first season a couple years ago but now the second season is out so I am re-watching the first with Matt. It’s one of those shows were you really have to pick out not only the mystery aspect but who everyone is, how old they are, why they are reacting the way they are, where they are.

daily recap · planning · what we ate

Day 20 Recap: A Trip to the Store, Leftovers & Hot Chocolate (4/1/20)

I finally left the house today! It has been 21 days since I last grocery shopped or left the house and actually went anywhere. It was nice seeing all of the trees and flowers in bloom while driving to the store. Our neighborhood has a lot of flowering cherry trees and I was sad I was missing them.

I went to Aldi and it was stocked as normal. Some stock was slightly lower than normal but they had everything they always do including things I heard were in short supply like flour, eggs, butter, toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies. They were very well set up–Plexiglas between you and the cashier, lots of signage about staying six feet apart (it’s about the length of your cart and you) and only one person was allowed to put things on the belt at a time. It wasn’t very busy either; about the same as it always is when I shop on Wednesday. Most people were wearing masks and a lot were also wearing gloves.

I didn’t buy more than 1-2 of each item (except tuna, they had many, many cases of tuna so I didn’t feel bad getting a few extra cans–we eat a lot of tuna) and I think I will be good for most (all?) of April, especially if I can keep getting produce delivered. I still had a few items left from my shop three weeks ago–amazingly a bagged salad (it is mostly carrots and cabbage), some cabbage, cauliflower, celery, carrots, Brussels sprouts plus a small ham and some hot dogs. We were pretty much out of fresh meat and getting very low on onions, eggs and dairy. I got a bunch of different meat and seafood (fish sticks! something I don’t think I’ve eaten since the late ’80s), a few hardy veggies, some canned goods and other basics. I’ve never spent so much at an Aldi before! The expiration dates on the meat weren’t quite as good as they were when I shopped in early March so I have to be careful to use things wisely and possibly freeze somethings for later. I honestly had a couple more non-essential things I kind of wanted but my cart was super full and starting to overflow thanks to some bulkier/weirdly shaped items. It’s really strange trying to shop for a month at once. I’m glad we were able to do that, I know a lot of people don’t have that opportunity. It kind of throws off our budget for the next two weeks but since we aren’t doing any socially or spending money commuting it should even out. Plus there should be little to no food shopping for the rest of the month. It’s just a lot up front.

Matt went to a local Weis and it was apparently the Wild West. No one kept their distance, most people didn’t have masks and the shelves were missing a lot. Yuck! We only get a few things there that we can’t get at Aldi and he was able to pick up most of them. Some more unusual shapes of pasta (for soup), beef Better Than Bouillon, frozen pierogi, kasha, specialty rice, frozen puff pastry, banana leaves, empanada wrappers and phyllo dough and a bunch of rolls and bread. Now that we know we are probably going to be home for a long, long time, we wanted to make sure we have things beyond just the absolute basics so we could make some fun meals. Plus they aren’t as popular of items so they were in stock!

I know there is some debate about whether we should wipe off or disinfect food packaging. I don’t really know. I wiped off the packages of meat and stuff I put in the fridge and freezer. Produce will be washed as usual and we left the nonperishable items on our (locked) enclosed porch to sit for a day or two. They seem to think it would be difficult to get the virus off cardboard or plastic surfaces but it does apparently live on them for a bit. Who knows? I can’t really find any definitive answers and I don’t think they have any. We did a lot of hand washing, changed our clothes and took a shower after we came home and unpacked.

I knew we wouldn’t want to cook after all the shopping (and unloading, oy) so I planned our meals earlier this week so we could have leftover borscht for lunch and quesadillas with the leftover pork for dinner. A lot of very similar/repeat meals the last few days. I bought a whole chicken today so I think I will roast that tomorrow for something different.

For a bedtime snack I had a really good cup of hot chocolate made with a mix by Amara. Seriously the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. And four marshmallows. It was an exhausting day.

Non-food related activities:

Since I actually left the house I was able to spin some stops for Pokemon Go and leave some things in gyms. My friends in the game keep sending me gifts every day but I haven’t been able to reciprocate since we don’t live near a stop.

We watched The Mallorca Files on Britbox. It was pretty cute. A very light mystery series set in a pretty place–perfect quarantine watching. I feel like the woman who plays the “serious” woman detective must be secretly funny, she always seems to be almost ready to laugh or smile but then fixes her face.

Not much else, I’m so tired!

daily recap · planning · what we ate

Day 18 Recap: Quesadillas & Sweet Potato Cornbread Muffins (3/30/20)

Our governor finally updated the order to have everyone actually stay home or face a fine! I thought it was needed a couple of weeks ago but he’s a trash governor so I’m not surprised he took a bit. I am glad it happened before we decided to go to the store to stock up. I don’t like the idea of a legally mandated shut down but I don’t think people were getting the hint about what to do with his vague directions. It’s still not super clear at all (why can we have gatherings of 10 or less but at the same time he wants us to stay home?) but maybe it will scare people into staying indoors.

I had leftover bangers and mash for lunch. I heated them up in a skillet so the potato and the sausage browned. It was surprisingly tasty!

Matt’s stomach still isn’t great, unfortunately! I think some of it is stress related. I had a carnitas seasoned pork roast from Aldi so I put that in the slow cooker and let it cook all day. Matt had some on rice and I had a quesadilla. I wasn’t going to make it (the expiration date was 4/8 so no hurry) but I figured this way we could both eat it tonight, I can make something with the pot roast leftovers tomorrow when hopefully he’s feeling better and then Wednesday we can make something with the pork leftovers for dinner after grocery shopping.

We hadn’t used the sweet potatoes I bought a few weeks ago. They were packaged by an “ugly produce” supplier and were all very small/weirdly shaped so couldn’t be used as just a regular baked potato. Since we are going shopping this week and I didn’t want them to go bad, I thought I’d roast them up to freeze/refrigerate and use later in recipes. I froze some and Matt used the rest to bake sweet potato cornbread muffins using this recipe (very similar/nearly identical recipe here without a paywall if the NYT recipe isn’t working for you). The recipe calls for baking them at 450° but that makes zero sense. Bake them at 350°.

The muffins will be perfect for breakfasts for him. I don’t always eat breakfast and he’s been eating a lot of toast and eggs in the morning, cutting into our supply. We’ll keep some out and freeze the rest for the future.

Non-food related activities:

We watched Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist on Hulu. We’re not loving the development of her singing her feelings. It seemed too pat and to contradict what the earlier episodes implied. She’s been keeping in a lot of feelings she isn’t dealing with the entire season, why sing now?

We had The Dead Don’t Die out on DVD from Netflix so we watched a bit of that. I’m not sure why Jim Jarmusch felt like he needed to do a zombie movie? I guess he did do vampires so what else is there? Why did every guy I dated in college and then, later my husband, want to watch every Jim Jarmusch movie ever?

daily recap · planning · what we ate

Day 17 Recap: Pot Roast & Leftovers (3/29/20)

We had leftover tuna pasta salad for lunch. We found the pretzels! They fell between two bins on our floating island and some bags of pasta had fallen on them. I thought I had lost my mind when they disappeared.

I spent most of the afternoon smelling the pot roast I had simmering on the stove. I posted the recipe here, it’s pretty much just a guideline but I thought it might be useful, I’ve noticed that big roasts seem to be the last thing to go at supermarkets. It’s a shame because while they are time consuming, they are not difficult to make. With so many of us trapped at home, it’s a perfect time to cook a big chunk of meat that needs pretty much no supervision. Plus you end up with lots of delicious leftovers for sandwiches, sauce, soup! Now is pot roast’s time to shine.

I signed up to get produce delivery from Washington Green Grocer again. We’ve had them off an on for years but I don’t normally bother in the winter when it’s just things I can get at the regular grocery store, normally for less. We get the all local box and this week it looks great–some things I normally wouldn’t want in the box like potatoes and carrots but mostly some exciting golden globe turnips, mizuna and dandelion greens. They aren’t allowing substitutions at this time but I added a couple items–unsweetened coconut and pearl barley–that I haven’t found locally for a while. And garlic and shallots. I don’t like that they switched it from opt in to opt out for the boxes when the new owners took over. Opting in was a big reason why I chose WGG over other services–one less thing to remember if I didn’t want a box. But the produce is always good and this will be better than braving the stores myself.

Non-food related activities:

We finished watching Twin on Mhz Choice. It was so good! I highly recommend it.

We left the house! We didn’t go anywhere but we each drove around the block to make sure the battery in our cars didn’t die since we drove them last. It was nice to see the neighborhood. Everything is in bloom! It’s been really rainy so everything was wet but the white cherry trees in the median were all in bloom.



I’ve had a recipe blog, Coconut & Lime, since 2004 and have written several cookbooks. Although I’ve always been fairly frugal and delight in using up leftovers in new ways I’ve always been able to go to the store whenever I wanted and get whatever I want.

I’ve been oddly fascinated by pandemics since childhood (my grandpop was 4 when the flu of 1918 sickened his father and shut down Baltimore) so I’ve been following the news of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) for quite a bit now. Once it started to spread, I knew the US wouldn’t be far behind in cases. For the last month or so I’ve been buying extra food and making sure we had medications (for us and our two dogs), and other necessities like toilet paper, soda, and pickles in the house.

The last two weeks I did extra big shops at Aldi, where I do most of my every day shopping (you can see what I bought here and here) and filled in a little with items from Safeway and Costco. When I got home from Costco Thursday I made a list of all of the fresh meat I had and their expiration dates, what I put in our small upright basement freezer (not much, it was empty except for 3 lbs of cranberries) and plugged in our dorm sized fridge we use for drinks in the summertime leftover from my husband’s old job to hold the overflow produce. We have a newer fridge but it is an old fashioned top freezer no ice maker, small cubic feet model so it doesn’t hold as much as some of the more “modern” fridges most Americans seem to have.

Follow along here to see what we eat once we started self-isolating on the afternoon of 3/13/20.