Category Archives: Administrative

Merry Christmas and enjoy the rest of 2016!

 

Good morning dear readers! If you are here, I am so thankful for you! But, by all means, please get back to friends, family, food, or general holiday merry making.

Enjoy Christmas however you celebrate it, whether at church or a friends house, doing volunteer work or meditating at home. I hope you had a joy-filled 2016, and may you have much to look forward to in 2017. Set yourself some goals, make some new friends, and be thankful for this crazy adventure we’re all on.

Merry Christmas and happy new year!

How do you pick a wedding location?

 

Just like when you are picking your wedding date, choosing a location should be something that you think about but not too hard, and in the end it just feels right.

People vary wildly in their ideas of the “ideal” wedding place, so you should first talk to the other party involved. Do one of you have a church you grew up in, that your parents were married in, that you just have to also get married in? Now is a good time to go over that. If you have always dreamed of a destination wedding on a sandy white beach, bring that up. Give yourselves some time and space to talk it out with no judgment (no, “oh my God, no way are we getting married in that old dump of a church!” or “How stupid, who wants to be married in a dusty barn!??” or “We could never afford Wai Ki-Ki are you crazy??”).

snowy church

Be sure to also discuss all the elements of the location that may end up being important to you. Some suggestions (but by no means a comprehensive list):

  • Is there availability at your desired time?
  • Does the location offer wedding planning or services?
  • Are there hotels nearby for guests to stay in?
  • What is the weather like in the time of year you’re considering?
  • Will the location hold the amount of people you envision?
  • Do you need to account for things like chair or tent rental?
  • Where will you have the ceremony and the reception? Same place? Two places? How far apart are they?
  • Do you want a church?
  • Do you want it to be outdoors?
  • Do you want decorations of a specific type?
  • Will there be dancing? If so can you set up sound/dance floor?
  • Can you bring your own vendors?
  • Do you need any licenses/permits?
  • Is there a deposit or location fee?

http://www.triphobo.com/blog/wedding-destinations

For travel destinations, more things to consider include:

  • Do you need passports/other travel documents?
  • How will you arrange flights/trains/busses/etc?
  • Is it near where you’d like to honeymoon?
  • Is it near an airport?
  • Will you need to rent a car?
  • How many of your planned guests will likely show up?
  • What are the local laws about weddings?
  • How do you go about obtaining a marriage license?

Once you have a general idea as a couple of what you want and what you are willing to negotiate on, you can consider locations.  Think about where you live now, where you grew up, where you went to college, where your parents grew up.  For some people, this is a no brainer and they have known since childhood that a specific meaningful place would be the place they are married. For others it will not be so simple.

What matters most is to be true to yourselves as a team, a unit, your location should be somewhere you both will feel happy and at ease.  If your partner gets nauseated at the thought of crowds and attention, you should probably not plan a 400-person blow out at the biggest chapel in town and a black tie reception. If your true love cannot stand sand in their hair or clothes, sorry but a beach wedding should be crossed off the potentials list.

top_wedding_venues_in_new_york_city

If you get stuck, you can always try:

  • Asking around – you probably know tons of people who have planned or attended weddings. Ask your parents, grandparents, friends, coworkers, neighbors, the guy on the bus. Ask what weddings were memorable, in good ways and bad. Maybe they will mention something that lights a spark for you.
  • Make a list – each of you alone, make a list of places that make you happy. List random things too, like maybe you love lighthouses, or caves, or mountains, or mansions. You never know what will spark an idea. Then compare your lists and see if the light bulb comes on.
  • Google – the holder of all knowledge, Google is a wellspring of wedding location ideas. Beware here though, as wedding envy and overwhelm can easily sneak up on you as you browse front-page-worthy multi-thousands of dollars wedding settings. Always try to keep your dreams somewhat in the realm of reality.

At some point, you will narrow down your list. A few places should stand out as the most likely and most fitting.  If you are able to, definitely go visit these places. Try to get a feel for the size of the space, what their amenities are (Is there a kitchen on site or will you have to bring in all your food already prepared? Do they have bathrooms and how many? A dance floor, music and speaker system? Can you bring in any vendors you want or is there a required vendor list to work off of?).

Always remember you do not have to commit to the first or second or twelfth place you see, until it feels right.

And just as in picking the time, at some point, you pick the place. You could argue pros and cons until the day you say “I do” but trust me, as long as your betrothed is at the front of the room waiting to say it back, you won’t care very much where that happens. Point, click, and trust that it will all work out.

How do you pick a wedding date?

 

After a while of being engaged, and a hundred people asking “SO when’s the big day?!?” which you may or may not have artfully dodged answering, you may start to wonder “Is something wrong with me?  Why can’t I just pick a damn day?!”

Don’t worry.  It’s okay.

And then after maybe even a little longer, you will think, “for real though, it’s time to pick. How do I pick??”  Here’s my best advice.  You know that scene from Miss Congeniality?

Stan Fields: Miss Rhode Island, please describe your idea of a perfect date.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rxDIRxugTd8/UyBr4s67bbI/AAAAAAAADb0/SseynTXsyUo/s1600/congeniality+2.gif

While it’s worth a chuckle, this is kind of the thing you are going for.

Start off thinking about what time of year you enjoy most. Do you love the heat and bright colors of summer? Are you a fan of pastels and spring rain? Do you love the spicy smells of autumn, or are you a hibernator who dreams of the first snowfall and lives for the magical season of Christmas?

Fall Leaves From Colorado

For myself, no month or day felt right just off the bat.  But I have a deep connection to and love of spring.  Everything from the warm rains, to the days getting longer, to the sunshine, to the buds coming out on the trees the flowers pushing up from the dirt the animals coming out of hibernation the greening that just bursts forth one day like magic… you get the idea. I’m in love with birth and renewal and life and living things. Mostly plants.

So, “sometime in the spring” was my starting point.

First Spring Daffodils

From there, take into account any holidays happening that time of year.  Maybe the idea of sharing your big day with Christmas seems magical, or you like the idea of reusing red and silver decor. Maybe you want a big summer bash but don’t want it ruined by random all-day-long fireworks, so avoid July 4th weekend. Whatever the case, take into account whatever celebrations your country, faith, state, town, or family enjoys.

Consider options other than the stereotypical “Saturday afternoon” (even though that is exactly what I did, which I will explain later) if you want to pinch some pennies.  Vendors know that Saturdays in June are the most in-demand.  Demand and supply are a vicious spiral, so expect to pay more for just about everything if you plan for say Saturday at 4 pm on June 12th than on a random Wednesday in November at noon.

You could have an earlier wedding, which leads to a brunch rather than heavy dinner. This should save you some cash on both the food (breakfast foods are cheap yo!) and the booze (I’m sure we all have a few friends & relatives who have no qualms with allllllll the Bloody Mary’s, but most people will have more restraint in the AM).  Also consider a later wedding post-dinner, and just have drinks and dancing afterwards with cake and cookies.

Cookie Table

Okay, so now you should have a relatively small list of potential dates.  Different websites recommend different amounts of time to give yourself, from 6 months to 2 years. It greatly depends upon you and your situation.  Are you pressed for time, such as with a move or deployment or death in the family expected or birth on the way? You will have a shorter timeline. Are you a super anal OCD-planner with a list of lists you need to make and the perfect wedding day already outlined on Pinterest?  Maybe you want to take some more time to go through all your options.

I personally found that 11 months was plenty enough time for me. I had the date and place nailed down within a month or so, and the rest of the details didn’t concern me too much. I could have had a wedding planned within 3 months that I would be happy with, so I had several months in between the initial 2-month flurry and the final month-of rush where I just chilled and enjoyed life. You may be a more anxious person and need more than a year to be sure all the Ts are crossed and Is dotted. That’s fine too, you do you.

Now what?  Well, just as with saying “yes” and going through with a wedding, at some point, you just take the plunge and have faith it will all work out.

Pick a date from your list or calendar that meets your criteria, and go with it. Once chosen and told to people and vendors, it gets more and more difficult to change your mind, just remember that. The only other decision that really matters besides the when is the where. But we will talk about that next week…

 

So how about you guys? Do you have a date that mattered to you? How did you choose the “right time”?

How to Deflect Wedding Questions

 

Alright, so you just got engaged...

And you’re already exhausted by a deluge of questions.  Why does it seem like every person on the planet needs to know RIGHT NOW what kind of flowers you’ll have, and the flavor of the cake, and which song will be playing at exactly 2:30 on the day of (which you have chosen already right?!?)

If just reading that paragraph made your heart rate double, you’re in a safe place, I understand you.  The feelz bro.

The good news is, there are no rules.

Let me say that again so it sinks in: There Are No Rules.

That’s my life motto, but also the truth.  Society, friends, and family all have ideas about what a wedding “should” be or is “supposed” to include.  But that’s a load of horse pucky (as my grandma would say). The only things a wedding “has to have” is two people in love and ready to be together forever.

Do you have that?  Then everything else is icing on the (figurative, or literal) cake.  Don’t have that?  Then all the Kardashian flower walls and billion dollar backdrops in the world won’t make you happy.

Calgary-wedding-photography-51

So, you’re at a family gathering, holiday, after work happy hour, or another wedding, and the inevitable questions of your own situation arise.  Here’s a few suggestions on how to (politely) tell people to mind their own d**n business.

  • Have a prepared line: especially if you talk with your betrothed before hand, you can present a united front. Plan a phrase or two that can answer just about any question. Things such as:  “we’re taking things slow”, “We are just enjoying being engaged right now”, “we’re considering all our options before making any decisions”, or “we will let people know once we decide on anything” all work well.
  • Answer the questions with a question: when Aunt Rose says “So have you picked a date yet?” you respond with “no, but do you have any suggestions for the best season for a wedding?” or “No, when was yours?” This redirects the spotlight to the question asker and may make them realize their inquiries aren’t welcome. But be cautious, as some people will take this as an opening to blab on forever about their own weddings, so use with caution.
  • Laugh it off: depending on the audience, you can make whatever the question into a joke. When a coworker asks when the date is, you could try something like “Hopefully before I start showing!” or “as soon as we win the lottery”. Delivered in the right tone and with a smile, this lets them know that you aren’t ready to discuss details and to calm it down without being openly rude.
  • Change the subject: You can either come prepared with a few topics to discuss, or go off-the-cuff as the situation arises. Most people love talking about themselves, so if they ask you something you don’t want to answer you can always redirect back to them. “Gee Tom, I hadn’t thought about what to do for the bachelor party yet, what did you do for yours?” or “I know you want grand-kids mom, but I’m not ready to live up to your reputation as a mom yet! Remember that time you…” Getting people talking about themselves or some topic they are interested in frees you from being the center of attention.
  • Be vague but pleasant: When someone inevitably brings up their roommate who is an awesome photographer, or their cousin who is an aspiring florist, you DO NOT want to immediately commit. Things can get awkward if you agree, and it turns out you hate their work, or don’t get along, or find a better deal elsewhere. Try something like: “Email/text me the info and I’ll take a look”, “It sounds lovely, let’s talk later”, or “I’m glad <insert person who did it> enjoyed that, but we are still looking around”.
  • Be cautious and use the sandwich rule: For those who don’t know, the “sandwich rule” is the best way to deliver a criticism, you sandwich it in between two compliments, like so: “compliment, criticism, compliment”. Try something like: “We are so happy you’re interested in being involved in our wedding planning Nana, but we don’t really like orange and purple together. Can you help us out with baking cookies for our reception table though, you are such a great chef!”

5953002_two-cents-whats-the-wedding-invitation_cbe2c3dc_m

Everyone has opinions and questions, but as the classic song “Everybody’s Free” says: “Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it’s worth”.

Oh, and if anyone asks about how much the ring cost? Totally inappropriate, and you can brush it off with something like: “More than ten dollars, but less than a million”. You wouldn’t ask how much someone made last year, or how much is in their 401K right? Just don’t do that.

 

 

How about you, have you gotten any totally inappropriate questions? How do you handle it?

Happy Easter!

 

Happy Easter everyone!  I hope today is filled with family and food and cute woodland creatures, and maybe some chocolates too.  But don’t get too crazy.  Remember, Easter & Halloween are dentists’ favorite holidays.

I will be enjoying the day with family, having an egg hunt, dying hard boiled eggs, eating some ham, and yeah probably having more than a few pieces of candy. 🙂  (Oh, and don’t tell, but I totally want to surprise everyone with this unbelievably easy [microwave only!] carrot cake recipe and healthy cream cheese frosting!  I really hope it is as delicious as it sounds.)

Enjoy the roundup below of creative, healthy ideas to make this the best Easter ever!

 

Natural Easter Egg Dyes from Rodale’s Organic Life

natural easter egg dye

How to Make Vibrant Naturally Dyed Eggs

50 Non-Candy Egg Stuffer Ideas

40 more Non-Candy Ideas

40 Egg-cellent Non-Candy Easter Egg Fillers

No One Will Guess These Easter Brunch Recipes Are Healthy

Easter Brunch

If they're going to be on your Easter table, they should totally look pretty. Get the recipe from Delish.

And of course, we can’t forget the CANDY!

50 Homemade Easter Candy Recipes

50 Homemade Easter Candy Recipes

15 Healthy Easter Desserts

 

 

Image at the top of page from HERE.

Budget Epicurean: Health Coaching

 

Dear Readers,

Exciting news! The Budget Epicurean has been pursuing an Integrated Health Coach certificate through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition this past year, we are about halfway through. However, between online schooling, a new career move, and an upcoming wedding, my plate has been overflowing!

Down side is, I will have to cut back my blogging to once weekly for now. I will do my best to post the best material and/or recipes each week, on Sunday. Once the workload eases I may try to switch back to my 3-per-week posting schedule. But don’t fear, there is still a very large archive of fabulous BE stories and recipes to be perused at your leisure.

This site is a treasure trove of Vegetarian meal ideas, creative Beverages, Slow Cooker recipes, my signature “Less Than Five” section, and informative posts on a wide variety of topics. Search any term and see what you might find.

I am excited to announce that I am now offering Free Health History Consultations! This means you fill out a 2-3 page form, then email me and we can talk over the phone (or in person if you’re lucky enough to live in CT!) and see if Health Coaching is right for you. See my Health Coaching page for more info.

Just click on the form below most relevant to you, and save or print it.  Then shoot me an email at BudgetEpicurean @ gmail .com and let me know you want to talk. I’ll contact you and we can go over the form together, to see if there is any area in your life where I can be of support and service.

Women’s Health History Form

Men’s Health History Form

Non-Gendered Health History Form

I can’t wait to help you achieve your healthiest, happiest you!

BE Health Coaching IIN Links

For questions or to request a FREE health history consultation, please email jenhealthcoaching@gmail.com.

January Pantry Challenge

 

Wow, so February starts in just a few hours, 2016 is already 1/12th over!  How are you all doing with those new years resolutions?  Been to the gym every day, stuck to a calorie goal, finances in ship-shape, in fact taxes have already been filed?  Yeah, me too.

Just kidding!

I don’t really do the resolution thing, because it is far too easy to set yourself up to fail.  I am more a believer in long-term goals with short-term goals break down.  By taking a big life goal, solidifying your reason for desiring it, and then breaking it down into smaller, easily achievable goals, you set yourself up for continual personal improvement.  Plus you have the ability to look back and see what worked and what didn’t, and tweak or change your goals if your lifestyle and desires have changed.

This is the final post in a series of a challenge I set for myself Jan 1st, to cook out of my pantry/freezer and only spend $20 per week on fresh groceries.  Below are the first three week’s summaries:

Week 1 Recap
Week 2 Recap
Week 3 Recap

This final week, I was surprised at how quickly this month had flown by.  When I did my one grocery stop, it felt like more than enough.  I think I have adjusted to fewer grocery store trips, which is likely a very good thing.  Looking back at the past few weeks’ lists, I realized I still had 3 out of 4 kiwis in the refrigerator.  I also had to throw out half the cucumber because it went to mush before I could slice & eat it.  Other than that, I have done quite well with not buying too much or wasting produce.

Fruit/Veg $11.96 Meats $3.29
Celery 1lb $2.49 2/3 lb ham $3.29
Ginger root $0.30 Dairy $5.35
3lb oranges $3.77 White cheese $1.48
Bananas (8) $1.35 Organic yogurt $3.87
Avocados (2) $2.00
Collard greens $2.05 Total $20.60

 

This week I got brave and bought a head of collards, because I know they are chock full of chlorophyll and good stuff.  I chopped up a few leaves to toss into salads, some of the leaves got blended into a sauce for the gnocchi, leaves were added to soup, and one day for lunch I used the leaf as a wrap for tuna salad.  I also ended up getting a small pack of ham and some white cheese to make sandwiches for my fiancee for lunch.

White Bean, Sausage, & Collards Soup

Jan 23 – Pork ribs & baked potato soup
Jan 24 – Leftover stuffed shells for lunch, pork chops, Spanish rice & salad
Jan 25 – Buffalo chicken sandwiches
Jan 26 – Butternut squash gnocchi
Jan 27 – Sausage, white bean, & collard greens soup
Jan 28 – Lasagna with spinach
Jan 29 – Leftover lasagna
Jan 30 – Leftover pizza, buffalo chicken on salad

AS for the budgeting part of the challenge, not counting the couple of times we had meals outside the home, the total I went over is: $3.30 + $2.34 + $1.08 + $0.60 = $7.32

Which means a total of $87.32 for all the “fresh” groceries the entire month of January.  Not bad at all.  I don’t think realistically I can keep that up for many more months beyond this, but it is a good illustration of how much having a stocked pantry can help, especially in case of a natural or financial emergency.  Now I know that if something catastrophic were to happen, or the fiancee and/or I were to lose a job and we had to really tighten our belts, the pantry I normally keep can indeed see us through.

 

How about you, any resolutions or goals you are keeping, or struggling with?  Feel free to share!

 

Pantry Challenge – Week 3

 

So now we are in the home stretch of this challenge!  Week 3 of January has come and gone, and I’m planning our final week of January and eating from the pantry.  If you’re just tuning in and want the full scoop, check out these posts:

How it all started & Why
Week 1 Update
Week 2 Update

The only wrench in this week so far is the impending snow storm the East is getting this weekend.  As I write this early Saturday, we already have a few inches of accumulated snow, with more on the way all weekend long.  But I’m not worried.  We have plenty of food still stocked in the freezer & pantry, including non-cook items like packaged salmon & tuna, granola bars, and pop-tarts (yeah, I still have a few boxes I bought on sale a while ago hanging out…)

Chair covered with snow

To prepare for the snow storm, we also brought in three extra stacks of fire wood and piled it in a corner of the living room, found three flashlights and made sure there were new batteries, and have lots of water stored away, just in case.  When it comes to Mother Nature, you just never know what she’s gonna throw at you.

This week, all I’ve bought at the grocery store includes:

Dairy Fruit/Veg
Kefir (2) 5.28 Avocado 0.98
Half and half 3.98 Apples (3) 1.87
Ricotta cheese 3.47 Bananas (9) 0.86
Yogurt (8) 3.64 Oranges (2) 1
TOTAL $21.08 Pears (2) 1.32

 

I’m just over my $20 limit, which is fine.  All told, I’ve gone over each week, but by $3 or less each time.  If this were an actual life-or-death financial situation, I would definitely not be buying as much fresh produce, or any at all.  Sometimes, you have to sacrifice short-term nutrition until you are in a more stable financial place before you can add back in fresh produce and dairy.  But I am lucky enough to have the resources to not worry if I go over my budget by a dollar or two, and am very thankful for that!

This past week’s menu included:

Jan 16 – Butternut squash macaroni & cheese for lunch, Olive Garden for date night dinner
Jan 17 – Black bean turkey burgers & fries, salad
Jan 18 – Chicken cacciatore
Jan 19 – Leftover burgers, asparagus, potatoes
Jan 20 – Burritos
Jan 21 – Stuffed shells, salad
Jan 22 – Leftover buffet

Breakfast was mostly oatmeal (steel cut oats, dried cranberries, cinnamon & water or nut milk) or toast & almond butter, and lunches were almost exclusively leftovers from dinner.  One day I went and got lunch from a food truck at work, and one night we used a gift card from Christmas to go to Olive Garden for dinner.  Both of those occasions ended up giving us enough leftovers for two more meals as well, so one time eating out = 3 meals total.

Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese

Overall, this challenge is not as challenging as I thought it might be, but that is likely because I’ve stocked up so thoroughly before now that I have too much excess.  So I guess I’ve learned I need to either calm down on buying when there are deals (sad face) or have these challenges on a more regular basis, where I use up a good portion of pantry items before I buy more.

It is also teaching me to be more creative about leftovers.  For example, I had a butternut squash that I had used for decoration for Halloween (yup, they last a looooong time) and also some cracker-sized cheddar cheese slices I’d bought on sale and we never used.  Therefore, I naturally decided to make butternut squash mac & cheese.  Even using only half the squash made a TON (there is still enough for another serving or two…) and I have half a cooked and mashed squash, to turn into soup, or butternut squash gnocchi this week!

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Just looking in the fridge at what odds and ends are still hanging around can give you ideas about what to make that will cost you little to nothing extra for a whole new meal, so this is a big money-saver.  And of course, if all else fails, make soup!  Now with winter finally roaring to life, there’s nothing quite so warm and comforting as a hot bowl of soup.  You can throw just about anything into a pot, add water and spices, and have a meal ready in 20 minutes flat.

Stay tuned for the final week!

 

Pantry Challenge – Week 2

 

To read earlier posts on this challenge, why I’m doing it, and how the first week went, go here:

Welcome to 2016!
Pantry Eating Challenge – Week 1

This is week 2 update.  Things are still going well.  I have to fight the urge to go grocery shopping almost every day, which I know makes me a total weirdo. 🙂  I went to the store twice this week, once for bananas, and then again because we were almost out of milk, yogurt, kefir, and fresh vegetables.  I still hadn’t used the asparagus I bought last week, but we went through milk faster than I thought we would.

What did I buy this week?

Dairy Fruit/Veg
Yogurt 3.9 Bananas (8) 0.6
Kefir 8.37 Blueberries 1.49
Gallon milk 2.69 Can pineapple 0.99
Spinach 1.49
Org. bananas (6) 1.82
TOTAL 22.34 Cucumber 0.99

 

The first store trip was just for the organic bananas, and I picked up a cucumber as well because I knew I had a little bit of dill left from 2 weeks ago.  Mixed with plain greek yogurt, it made an awesome topping for lemon pepper fish.  The second trip was Thursday, and I absolutely love that ALDI is on the ball with healthy offerings!  They now have many items from their own label which are gluten-free, organic, natural, etc.  They offer some of the best prices around.

Yogurts and bananas are a staple we go through pretty quickly.  The blueberries, to be honest, were an impulse buy because they were on sale and looked so good!!  And they really were, totally worth it.  Then the spinach was another staple item, and we were almost out of milk & kefir.  The pineapple was another impulse, because it’s high in vitamin C and I anticipated making smoothies at some point.  Or potentially another batch of cranberry sauce, because I still have about a pound of raw cranberries in my refrigerator.

The menu from this week included:

Jan 9 – Leftover seafood linguini
Jan 10 – Steak, rice, & steamed broccoli
Jan 11 – Lemon pepper breaded fish with cucumber dill yogurt and mashed potatoes
Jan 12 – Quinoa & red beans
Jan 13 – Beef roast, chopped potatoes & carrots, asparagus
Jan 14 – Shrimp fried rice
Jan 15 – Leftovers

Breakfasts included oatmeal with dried fruits & nuts, whole wheat English muffin with almond butter & jam, smoothies, or a fried egg sandwich on whole grain toast.  The bread products were purchased on super sale a while ago and in the freezer, as were the beef roast, steaks, white fish, and shrimp.  Potatoes can last for months at room temperature away from light, and carrots can last several months in the crisper.  Even if they start growing eyes or hairs, they are still edible.

Quinoa is a very healthy seed, and a whole grain.  I chose to use quinoa instead of white rice for the red beans, and it was a perfect match.  The beef roast I pulled out of the freezer and thawed in the refrigerator a day before cooking.  Fried rice is always a good choice, because you can add pretty much any vegetable ever, so it’s a good way to use up what’s about to expire and also you can spread out a smaller amount of meat to feed you several meals.  I used a pound of shrimp here, and the bag I purchased was two pounds, so I still have one more pound of shrimp in the freezer.

You’ll also notice that I incorporate leftover nights often, as well as taking leftovers for lunch.  I often make lots more than we need for one meal on purpose, because then I just pack it into single serve tupperware, and we have another meal just waiting to be heated up.  This makes packing a lunch super easy, and on days when I don’t want to cook dinner, we already have several different options available from the past couple of days.  Leftovers are an awesome way to cut down on the time spent cooking, as well as save yourself some money too.

Let’s see how this week goes!  Halfway there…

 

 

Pantry eating challenge – week 1

 

So for the New Year, I decided to try a cook-from-the-pantry challenge.  See this article for full details, but pretty much the plan is to cook mostly from what is already in my house (fridge, freezer, pantry) and $20 per week for fresh produce & dairy.

How’s it going so far?

Pretty darn well, actually.  I’ll try to keep posting updates every Sunday on how the previous week went, and at the end summarize the whole month.  But for the first week, things are going along as normal.  Here’s the week’s menu:

Jan 1 – Pork roast & sauerkraut (leftover from day before, and it’s good luck on New Years Day!)
Jan 2 – Chicken & rice soup
Jan 3 – Chicken quarters & rice & broccoli
Jan 4 – BBQ spare ribs & baked potatoes
Jan 5 – Crock Pot Turkey Chili
Jan 6 – Seafood linguine (recipe coming Tuesday!)
Jan 7 – Pork chops w/apple chutney, mashed sweet potato, and cranberry sauce
Jan 8 – Spinach stuffed chicken rolls, rice, salad

You get one bonus day because Jan didn’t start on a Monday. 🙂

For breakfast, I have had smoothies using frozen fruit & fresh, wheat English muffins (from the freezer) with almond butter & jam, and cereal (cold and hot).  Lunches are most often leftovers from one of the dinner meals, and one day this week I had a caprese sandwich for lunch out with some coworkers.

Oh, how am I doing with not shopping?  That part is a little harder… as you may know, I’m a sucker for a good sale, and have no qualms snagging them and stocking up when I find it.  Well, that’s a no-no this month, I have to make a strict list of only fresh veg and fruits we want or need, and stick to it.  For me, this is the toughest part of the challenge so far.  So, what did I buy this week?

Dairy Fruit/Veg
Kefir (2) 5.92 Bananas (5) 0.96
Org. milk 1/2 gal 3.5 Spinach (12 oz) 1.49
Heavy cream 1.69 Kiwi (4) 1.49
Asparagus (1 lb) 2.69
Romaine (3) 1.99
Avocado (2) 1.98
 TOTAL $23.30 Raspberries 1.59

 

Yup, I went over budget by a little more than 3 dollars… but honestly that’s still pretty good, given on average I spend $100 per week on groceries.

The cream was so I could make our own coffee creamer, (we are trying to get away from packaged, processed chemicals as much as possible) and organic, grass-fed milk is way more expensive than factory milk.  But it is a choice we are making, to be healthier all around.  The same goes for adding kefir to our diets, to get more gut-healthy probiotics.

The fruits will mostly be eaten as snacks and in lunches, and added to smoothies.  The spinach & romaine will be salads to go with things from the freezer & pantry, and compliment any frozen veg. I already have.  The fiancee eats a banana per day for breakfast, and both the asparagus & raspberries were on sale, how could I not buy them?!

Well, that’s it for this week, stay tuned for next week!

 

How about you guys, ever done a no-spend or low-spend challenge?  Do you think you have more food in the house than you think you do?  Could you go a month without grocery shopping as usual?