The past two years, I’ve been dealing with some ongoing health problems that have made it difficult to work, even part-time. And writing has even become a tricky undertaking. All that to say, money’s been super tight for a couple of years. SUPER tight. On my birthday and Christmas, my dad always gifts me a generous check from my grandfather’s trust fund that helps supplement my meager income. Unfortunately, there’s a long stretch between my birthday in February and the December holidays. Usually about July I’m starting to struggle financially. The past two months have been worse than usual.
Anyway, I’m not sharing all that to make you feel sorry for me. I’m doing fine. I just wanted to set the stage for this post which wouldn’t make much sense otherwise.
I frequently drive a disabled neighbor to the local Food Bank so she can get food, and the past two months I’ve been going in and getting food for myself. The summer produce is coming in so there’s a lot more produce than usual. Fewer canned and boxed things. More salad fixings and fresh fruit.
We went to the Food Bank yesterday, and when I came home, I set everything out on the counter to see what I had. As I’m no longer eating meat, they gave me extra produce. I had 17 red delicious apples, 10 white onions, 12 cucumbers, 4 large red peppers, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, bread, yogurt, milk, granola, 4 boxes of cherry tomatoes, 1 pizza, 1 pizza crust, multiple bags of chips, shredded cheese, and some purple potatoes. It’s a LOT of food for one person, but most of it is perishable so I needed to figure out what to do with it so it doesn’t all go bad. I find that if I don’t plan ahead specifically how to use things, I often forget about them until it’s too late.
While I was staring at the food on my counter, I remembered something my mom did when I was growing up when we had a lot of cucumbers. She called it Marinated Cucumbers. She’d just slice cucumbers and onions, toss them into a large bowl, toss them with salt and pepper and garlic, and then cover them with olive oil, white vinegar, and water. Stir it all up and refrigerate overnight. It was one of my favorite snacks as a kid. I was allowed to help myself to cucumbers from the fridge throughout the day. I loved sour things, so this was a great treat. I liked sour things so much, my grandfather used to call me Pickle Puss.
So I made up a big batch of marinated cucumbers.
I decided to make a big chopped salad out of the kale, cabbage, cucumber, peppers, onions, and cauliflower. When I make chop salad, I never use a recipe. I just chop up whatever veggies I have in my fridge, and then stir in some salad dressing (whatever I have). It can ended up as a Salsa Chop Salad, or an Oriental Chop Salad, or a Ranch Chop Salad, depending on what dressing I have handy or feel like eating. People always ask for my recipe when they have my chop salad. It’s easy. Chop veggies. Stir in dressing. Refrigerate. Serve.
So I made a big batch of chop salad. Poppy seed dressing this time.
And I cooked up some seashell pasta, chopped up some veggies (mainly cucumber and onions for this), and then tossed it all with Italian dressing.
It’s nice to know there will be three big bowls of salads/veggies in the fridge all ready to go. Easy, healthy, summertime meals for lunches and dinners. Nachos for lunches. Granola, yogurt, and fruit for breakfasts. Chips for snacks. I’m all set! Now I need to decide what to do with 17 apples. I’m thinking apple pancakes, apple pie, apple crisp, apple dessert bread, Waldorf salad. Several of those can be made ahead and frozen to use later. Yay, frozen assets! 🙂
I shared this mainly because I was proud of myself for figuring out ways to use the food I was given. It can be challenging, sometimes, to come up with ways to use combinations of food I wouldn’t necessarily buy for myself.
My goal for the rest of the month is to not spend any money at all if I can help it. Actually, I wouldn’t have money to spend even if I wanted to, hence the trip to the Food Bank. There are some things on the horizon that could be coming to change my financial situation in the Fall. Might actually be able to finally start getting my feet back on the ground after a long, long time of barely scraping by.
So, how would you use up an overabundance of cucumbers, onions, and apples?
Until next time …