Saturday, July 25, 2009

Making Lunch Special


I used to love watching Kitty Bartholomew's show on HGTV (ah the good old days before all the real estate shows). She used to always end by say "It's not what you don't have. It's what you do with what you do have!" That's something I firmly believe in!


If you're like my family and trying to cut back on eating out, one thing that I've found to make eating at home more of an "event" is to try to take a few extra moments and make the meal a bit special. That way you're not so focused on "oh we can't eat out". Hopefully you'll think "we don't want to eat out because it's so nice to eat at home" instead! There are so many things you can do - from having lunch outside if you always eat in to setting a pretty table or adding special ingredients - you get the idea! My blue and black transferware dishes are actually my "everyday" dishes. I like to use what I have!



Today's salad has blueberries, cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden and lettuce and dried cherries from Aldi's (my second crop of lettuce isn't big enough to harvest yet). When I went to Aldi's this week I purposely looked for some "extras" that I could use to make our meals just little more special. So I got a bag of dried cherries, a jar of banana peppers, a jar of pepperocini and a few other things. I could have just made lettuce and tomatoes but the little extras make it seem more like a salad you would get if you went out to eat.



My Kroger is pretty good about clearancing their flowers once a week and last week I was able to get some Sunflowers. Sunflowers are such cheerful flowers that I don't think it matters at all that they're a bit on the droopy side! But even if I wasn't able to buy some flowers I would have picked some from my garden. If you don't have flowers growing you can cut some branches or use some fronds from you summer hanging ferns, or use a potted plant or anything you can find that's pleasing to you (doesn't have to be a live plant). Set a pretty table for your family!



We also had homemade pizza for lunch! My family has always loved Domino's. But getting pizza delivered these days is sooo expensive. I wasn't sure they were going to embrace the homemade ones. But a few weeks ago I thought I'd give it a shot and I made two homemade pizzas for Family Movie Night and they loved them! Surprised me! They've even said they like them better than Domino's! One of the best things is that you can get creative and make all sorts of pizza and make them just the way you like them. I made pesto with homegrown tomatoes last week and it was soooooo good!


So try something new. Look for recipes for things that you like to get when you eat out. Maybe you love Mexican or Chinese you can make those dishes at home. You can really make everything at home even sushi if you're willing to try!


Try putting a little bit of extra effort into your meals. I'm not saying you have to do it for every meal, I certainly don't. But if you're used to eating lunch out every Saturday (like we are) than that's a good place to start. Use what you have and be creative. So often we save the "good stuff" for guests but really isn't your family worth it. I would hope so! Try not to focus on what you don't have and can't do, but instead embrace all that you do have and make the most of it!





57 comments:

Rhonda in OK said...

Great post, Manuela!
my family loves homemade pizza and I am so glad you are liking Aldis.

I miss Kitty and Carol Duvall too.

philben5 said...

Amen sista!! ( Amen to Kitty B. and to her statement) My mom always said that statement growing up and I have lived my life by that quote. And where did Kitty go? I miss her so!! Great post. I am ready to give grilled pizza a shot too. Have you ever grilled pizza?
Blessings
Roxanne@ Beverlysandhills

MeganSloan said...

I LOVE dried cherries!! The elementary school I worked for had them and I fell in love. They are a great addition to many meals. And Aldi's is great. I wish I had one in my town (there's one 20 minutes away that I need to go to more).

You're right about HGTV. It's all about real estate shows. I hate House Hunters. It's a fake show anyway, as the homeowners have already bought one of the three they're looking at (friend of a friend was on the show).

And your pizzas look yummy!!! Maybe that'll be my dinner! We make homemade calzones. They're fun too and would be great for kids to make.

Tammy said...

Very well said!

I too miss the creative shows on HGTV...I'm sick of real estate shows!

My neighbors across the street grow sunflowers and I love to watch the little gold finches feed!

Tammy said...

Rhonda mentioned Carol Duvall...I l♥ved her show!!

Dawn said...

Agreed! I miss the artsy craftsy decorating shows also. I've hardly watched tv since I started blogging.

Your dinning area is so pretty. Things at my home have been so chaotic this summer we haven't even pulled out the BBQ yet! So sad. You've inspired me to make a nice meal time more of a priority!
Thanks,
Dawn

Ally0005 said...

I remember her. There are so many shows that was great sad not much to watch now.

Ally

Darlene said...

Great post Manuela!

We have also been eating at home a LOT more, even if it is only Hamburger Helper with a salad. You know I have really been enjoying eating at home instead of out. First, it is soooo expensive and second it seems like no one cares anymore about the quality of the food. We get things that are not hot enough, we have had a hair in our food (more than once) and again I just don't want to spend the money!

I am going to start making our dining table more attractive like you have done. I think that will definitely make eating at home even more special!♥

Nancy said...

Hey Manuela,

I love this post!!! We started eating at home more at the begining of the yr and now, we like it so much better!!!! Sometimes it does get hard b/c the boys are gone at different times, but I try as much as possible!
We love doing the pizza thing too!!! don't home made pizzas taste so much better!!

Oh yes, honey I miss Kitty!!!!!! And, Country Style....wish they would come out with DVDs of those shows!!!

I am a little bit behind with my visits here...I see some fun things you have done below this post...so I will be back later to check those out!!!


Hope you have a great weekend!!!

Nancy

glorv1 said...

That pizza looks so good. I used to make our own pizzas as well and it has been a while since last I made pizza. Can't do it today because we are eating leftovers but maybe on Sunday. You got me rocking and a rolling now. Have a great Sunday.

Melissa Miller said...

Yummy! It all looks delicious! ;)

Kathleen Grace said...

You are so right! I use my good dishes every day for my family, we are worth it! A little extra effort goes a long way:>)

Elizabeth said...

Good advise! I had almost forgot about Miss Kitty on HGTV. I loved watching her show. That salad and pizza is making my mouth water....yum!

Southern Belle said...

What a wonderful post, I am so encouraged...thanks so much! You are one very talented lady and I always enjoy reading your posts and being inspired. I am on my way upstairs to get some of my favorite candles out of storage and set the table nice for dinner.

~Christine

Frantic Home Cook said...

Oh, Kitty! How I miss her and her crazy hair and tasteful decor.

You're very right about the real estate porn. I can't stand seeing these shows where people pulled out $100,000 in equity to completely renovate their perfectly good home. These were obviously before the bubble burst. I'd be interested to see a show following up with these people who probably now owe more than their home is worth.

Hopefully now, HGTV will return to nesting and making do with what you have...at least some of the time.

carolyn@primitive~devotion said...

OH, I love Kitty too! I used to keep in touch with her via email all the time. She is working on a book that was my idea. I was so honored when she told me that she loved my idea and would make her next book about it. So when her book comes out about her yard sale & flea market adventures, that little baby was my brainstorm! :)

I love your meal and your table setting. I have always tried to make the most of what we have. But I really learned that from my Mama, because she was the absolute mastyer of it. She made dessert every night! But I don't do that because I would eat it! hahahaha!
She always made everything special.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Storybook Woods said...

Life is too short to not eat a charming meal, yours is very charming. Clarice

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Great post! I also was a big fan of Kitty B., and that type of show. I really miss the way HGTV use to be and watch very little of it now. Your salad looks so good.
Glenda

Millie said...

I so agree with you on all counts ! I believe "home made " is usually better than eating out, and of course, the amount of fat and salt can be controlled..
I also miss Kitty.
Love your dining room and table.

Laura said...

That looks delicious and how motivating.

I also plan to do some cutting of fresh veggies to have in the frig to be prepared.
Thanks Manuela,

Laura

diXymiss said...

Yummy, fresh salad! I didn't plant any lettuce, but so far we've enjoyed radishes, basil and cilantro from our little garden.

I loved Kitty B. too, once upon a time. Great quote!

Teresa said...

Lovely post, Manuela. I've been buying lots of fruit and other produce from Aldi's lately...they do have the best price in town. That salad looks so good!

Vee said...

Okay, I'll give it a whirl tomorrow. Sounds wonderful. Now I have to Google Aldis.

I miss so many of the old shows...

Half of the Style Sisters said...

OH yes!! I firmly belive everything you wrote about. I love grilling my own food, making my own salads and dessert. It just tastes better...especially when you can set the table a little bit special to top it off. Great post!

Mary Ann said...

I loved this post! What a great reminder to add little touches to make our families feel special! Your pictures are always so beautiful!

Thanks!

Terri and Bob said...

We believe the exact same way. Dinner at our house is special. A lot of the reason, though, is Bob. I think he feels food is a religious experience!

Betsy said...

We love homemade pizzas, too! With three autistic sons, it's almost impossible to eat out. I do the same thing...make fabulous tasting food at home and try to make it special. I also love to cook and bake on Fridays so I can pull out the yummy stuff all weekend and relax at the same time.

D said...

Great post, and good advice. I love the simple tablescape.
D

sheila from life @ #17 said...

okay, I know the post really isn't about Kitty B., but I have to say I LOVE HER! I wish she still had a program...and I bought her book :)...

Recycled Rita said...

Our family is doing the same thing and homemade pizza is a favorite!Tonite I made strawberry shortcake with a mark down angel food loaf cake (from Ralphs-kroger) some strawberries that were on sale 77 cents and some whipped cream and you would have thought I baked a french gourmet dessert!
And you are so right about hgtv! I miss all the decorating shows!
Thanks for the inspiration and affirmation! karen....

Paula said...

I also miss the decorating shows that used to be more common on HGTV. They used to have garden shows that I liked and now there's not much at all about gardening.

I was just thinking yesterday about how last summer you had white vases in a line down your table and how I liked the idea so much that I copied it. I had planned on doing the same thing today!! I love that look!

We had homemade pizza this week, too. I used homemade pesto, home grown tomatoes, and sauteed mushrooms on ours. Who wants to eat out at this time of year when there is so much fresh produce available?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I miss Kitty and the Country Living show (and Carol's Christmas specials). I rarely watch HGTV now.

Do you have Kitty's book? I bought it at a library sale for $1.00 a couple years ago. :)

Stacey said...

Manuela, this is such a timely post for our family. We've been really trying to eat at home for the last year. We've eaten out as much as 4 times per week in the past. It's just too expensive any more. So now...everybody is sick and tired of my food including me! We never make homemade pizzas so I will add that to the list. We have been having taco salads and nachos which seems to make the guys happy. I'm going to really work on stepping this up.

The other thing, I'm not big on buying paper plates but I'm so tired of washing dishes! Maybe Aldi has paper plates...I've never been and we do have one close by.

Thanks for your wonderful ideas. Oh by the way, I was getting my haircut on Friday. One of the girls in the salon has experienced the life changing event of a job change for her hubby. They are cutting their income in half! I have directed her to your wisdom!

Rue said...

Hi Manuela :)

This is such a great post. It's nice to know there are others out there that still enjoy cooking for their family :)

xo,
rue

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

I love the table and the meal,Manuela. You reminded me to stop by Kroger again, this week, to see what they have. The sunflowers are wonderful!!

Denise said...

I totally agree about HGTV. What a shame.

We are having homemade pizza bread for dinner, tonight! This way I can have what I want (and don't want!!) on mine!

XXDenise

Richella said...

Yes, ma'am! Amen! The fact is, our homes really are nicer than most restaurants; we're just spoiled to going out to eat. You've inspired me to go the extra mile here.

I so wish we had Aldi around here. I shopped there many years ago when my kids were little and money was very, very tight. I loved it. Then last summer I shopped at the nicest Aldi I've ever seen. Guess where it was? Switzerland! (My husband worked for a Swiss bank, and we got to go to Switzerland.) It was a beautiful store, all fresh and clean. But it was still Aldi. So much fun.

Hope you have a great day! Your blog blesses me so much.

Audra said...

I have been reading your blog for a couple of months now, always finding inspiration and sage advice. My family has also cut out dining out in favor of staying home. I make dinner more of an occasion with fully set table and home made meals. It has inspired me to look beyond my usual favorites to find new dishes to add to our menus.

PS. Your salad makes my mouth water.

Brenda said...

Wonderful idea! Especially these days. I would rather eat at home than eat out anyhow.
Brenda

Rebekah said...

Great advice, Manuela!

june@craftyniche said...

Another great post! We make homemade pizza quite a bit, although I buy the premade dough. We've cut back on eating out as well. I hope Hubby and I can go out on date night every night and then so we can enjoy a meal without screaming kids, lol!

Farmgirl Paints said...

Now that is a special lunch. My kids would go crazy. What a beautiful table you set! Great post:)

Frugal Fine Living said...

Great post! We have been doing the same thing at our house. Instead of takeout pizza on Friday nights, we make our own pizza together as a family. Also, we used to get coffee and breakfast sandwiches out every Saturday morning, but now my husband makes them for us at home. Making the table setting special for all our meals makes it even better than eating out.

Jane

Momma Rae and the Deputy said...

i also like this post :) im learning to do the same...

Bonita said...

Great post and very timely for me at the moment when we are going through a tight financial crunch. Thank you!

Wendy said...

I forgot about Kitty B. I used to watch her all the time! We have started eating by candle light. My two girls just love it!

Also, we are eating at home more because of price and quality - and the service at home is much friendlier!

Sharon said...

Wonderful post Manuela!

I love doing this. Just taking something everyday and putting sprinkles on it :)

We love to spread out a quilt on the lawn light some candles and and have dinner outside (it's just the 2 of us).

Or it's fun to use the living room floor especially when it's raining outside and watch some black & whites :)

It looks like we would have gone shopping together :) Those are items that I put in our salads to make them more fun!

Your pizzas look so yummy! Homemade is BEST!

Have a wonderful day Manuela and thanks for sharing :)

~Sharon

PS I love your chairs in the previous post :)

salmagundi said...

I used to make home-made pizza a lot, but have resorted to take out the last few years. Thanks for the reminder that that is a place we could cut back plus retain something special. Sally

Colleen said...

I totally agree with you! I love to cook at home vs. eating out. Not only has it become too expensive but so many places have drastically reduced the quality of their food and service. Therefore, I prefer to make meals at home. Making the food pleasing to the eye is very important so your ideas are great. Secondly, making a nice atmosphere is important. Your pizza looks great!

Tracey McBride said...

Hi Manuela! Great post (as always). I absolutely agree with you regarding the old HGTV shows. I really miss those types of home shows. I really liked "Country Home" and "Kitty B." and agree with the classic philosophy of using what you have with style and grace. Thanks so much for the great ideas and the homemade pizza prompt! It's ironic that I was just reading a post on another blog for making homemade pizza with a sunflower seed crust (low carb and grain free ;) right before popping over to your inspiring blog! More soon my friend. Take care and thanks for all the great ideas and inspiration (again, as always).
Love,
Traceyxox

momof3girls said...

Oh I love using fresh flowers!! They can be expensive - I love how you looked ofr clearance. It is funny how it can be the small touches that make being at home so nice!!!! Thanks for the inspiration!!!

Bella said...

Manuela, you are a kindred spirit! I love that your everyday dishes are transferware and that you use good stuff for family. Everything looks so lovely and delicious! It's so nice that you are able to bring such joy and beauty and fun to your family. :)

sara's art house said...

I LOVE the sunflowers! What an adorable and cozy place for your family to eat. :)

Ivory Pearl Interiors said...

Lovely post. You've post a lot of love i it. Thanks!

Rambling Girl said...

Awesome Post!

I agree enjoy what you have...there are so many that don't have anything much less any food to eat....

Your salad looks so yummy! I have gotten well my whole family would rather eat at home than out since the food is so much more inviting at home...

Now the pizza looks so divine I think I will have to try and make one myself...we love pizza at our home!

Anonymous said...

I miss Kitty and the Country Living show. I got one of Kitty's books {does she have more than one?}. I got it at a garage sale and it was damp and so the pages are wrinkled a bit but well worth drying it out! :) Have you posted the pizza recipe before or will you in the future? We put dried cranberries or seedless grapes or chunks of cold apples in our salads too. Love sprouts in them too. We tried the Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette dressing. It goes so well with any salad with fruit in it. I want to try to make the new Subway sub with the apples in it. Haven't eatten one yet but they sure look good! You are so inspiring...like our own Kitty B. on the web! Thankyou for all you do. Jody

Lady Katherine said...

Love that salad! I am trying to eat twice a week, and salads are what are working so far! Now that pizza sounds wonderful! My grandson wants me to make one, I will send him to your house! lol Hubby buys one in the Grocery store. I loved Kitty too! She has a website! She asks you to share what you done. Hey, I 5'4" too. lol Hubby 6'1" lol