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Another Monday Meal Makeover!

Okay, so by now you know I like to cook and try new recipes...and you know I like to eat (though I promise you that's not all I do, even though this blog may make it appear that way!)...and you know I'm trying to stay in our little budget, particularly by being better at meal planning and using what I have and not being wasteful.

Mondays are a good night for me to cook because for one, it's sometimes the only night of the week we usually don't have commitments and two, if I make a big meal we have leftovers to use for other lunches and dinners throughout the week.  Works out well!

Yesterday this was the situation.  In my kitchen I had the following odds and ends that needed to be used either ASAP or fairly soon: two chicken breasts already thawed from making fajitas Saturday evening, two on the vine tomatoes, most of a pack of bacon, half of a small watermelon, a lime, part of a big bag of frozen spinach that was getting a little frosty, homemade salsa, half a bag of tortilla chips, a few tortillas, and sour cream.  

Also in my refrigerator/pantry/freezer were frozen cauliflower, roasted cream of chicken soup with herbs, mozzerella, a bottle of Zesty Italian dressing (had used it for a pasta salad last week and it was buy one, get one at Publix), and various essentials.

I decided to make a big old tasty meal that we could eat off for a few days.  Now, I would love to say I made it out of everything I had on hand.  Truth be told, even with all those odds and ends needing to be used and some decent ingredients stocked, I still had to run to Publix for a few things!  However, I used up so much that was getting close to "use or lose" point which made me feel great...and, this meal was delicious!  I already had some leftovers for lunch today, and we will have more tonight.

I marinated the chicken breasts with the Italian dressing and baked them. I also served the watermelon and homemade salsa. Then I used the tomatoes and lime (along with some new purchases) to make a yummy, healthy corn and black bean salad. Oh, this was fresh and tasty, and tasted good in the leftover tortillas!

After I made the salad and put it in the frig to chill, I took two cans of green beans, put them in bundles of about 5, and then broke the bacon in 3rds and wrapped each bundle with a third of a piece of bacon. I lined a 9x13 pan with foil and put them in there, then put the pan in the frig to chill until I was ready to bake them.  I saw this recipe in the Cooking With Grace cookbook (no surprise) and figured it would be a great way to use up the bacon I was going to have to throw out soon.  5 minutes before I was ready to put them in the oven, I took the pan out of the frig and heated  about 1/2 stick butter, maybe 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 1 tsp garlic salt on the stove and poured it over the green been bundles. They baked for 45 minutes at 350 and were UNBELIEVABLY GOOD!! The next time I am supposed to bring an appetizer to a party, this is what I'm making.  Amazing. My husband LOVED them.

Then I sort of did my own adaptation of the Swiss Vegetable Medley recipe I posted a few weeks ago...I cooked half of the bag of (getting frosty) frozen spinach the bag and the bag of cauliflower.  I used a little more than half of my 8 oz sour cream, my can of roasted cream of chicken soup, and my pack of mozzerella to mix in with the veggies.  I then let it chill until I was ready...since I pre-cooked my veggies, this only needed about 25 minutes to heat up before I added French fried onions (the big can) to the top and let it cook 5 or 6 minutes more.  This was also delish, and a great way to eat spinach.

And just for good measure, instead of serving water I made a pitcher of Crystal Light pink lemonade since I had still had two little packets left in a container in my pantry!  

So there you have it - my latest Monday Meal Makeover!  Though the casserole and green bean bundles were not "low-fat,"we got more than our share of fresh, frozen, and canned veggies in the three side dishes and the salsa.  The watermelon was our fruit, the chicken was our lean protein.  The beans and corn and tortillas provided some healthy carbohydrates.  I was able to use so much of what I had and prevented having to throw away good food before it went bad and was wasted.  The meal had something for everybody's taste in our family, and provided us with plenty of leftovers.  And just seeing my husband's face as he tried the green bean bundles was worth all the prep time they took!!  Yum....can't wait to have the leftovers in a few hours!  Happy meal prepping to all my fellow cooks out there! :)

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