Tag Archives: Snacks

Weekly Eating – 2/18/19

 

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

 

Over the weekend I had many adventures, mostly food related of course. I pickled some carrots, cauliflower, and beets. They turned out pretty great. I had a food tour on Saturday that was super fun, everyone was very talkative and there for a good time.

Durham Food Tour

I finally got my egg incubator! That meant that I got to put 14 of my quail eggs in for their 18 day journey. I am impatiently waiting and checking the temp and moisture levels daily. We should have baby chicks by the first week of March and I cannot wait!

quail egg incubator

And Erin from ReachingForFI was in town! We went to AYCE sushi on Sunday, and made an impressive tower of empty plates. She was the most perfect house guest and is welcome back any time.

AYCE Sushi wall of plates

Monday:

Breakfast – cinnamon raisin bagel with almond butter and an apple

bagel with apple and almond butter

Lunch – leftovers from tour

Dinner – I made what was meant to be a sausage and kale soup, but then I decided to let it thicken a bit and eat it over rice. Fabulous decision! Even the boy loved it.

sausage and kale stew over rice

Tuesday:

Breakfast – tropical smoothie and a nut kolachi

tropical smoothie in blender

Lunch – leftover homemade Ethiopian dal, kale, and beet hummus with grape tomatoes and a black bean brownie

leftovers lunch

Snack – apple

Dinner – made a killer mac n cheese, then added some leftover cooked sausage, spinach, and pinto beans

mac n cheese with beans, spinach, and sausage

I also meal prepped a pork roast with beans in the insta pot and a big tray of roasted veggies

Wednesday:

Breakfast – smoothie

Lunch – leftover sausage kale soup and roasted veg

sausage and kale stew over rice

Dinner – had dinner at a friends house, with sausage made on his farm, green beans, rosemary potatoes, and pickled goodies made by yours truly (beet pickled veg and pickled watermelon rind)

pork sausage with veggies and pickles

He’s also a woodworker, and gave me piece of a barrel stave that was smoked and then used for whiskey followed by beer. I added it to my soy sauce, and it has darkened considerably already! I can’t wait to see what the difference in flavor is like.

homemade soy sauce color

Thursday:

Breakfast – spiced pear and raisin oatmeal

spiced pear and raisin oatmeal

Lunch – the last leftover enchilada from last week with avocado, rice, tomatoes, and spicy salsa

leftovers lunch

Snack – leftover from Valentine’s day cookie & chocolate covered strawberry. And then a nut bar on the drive home.

valentines day treats

Dinner – tortellini with sauce (that smelled suspiciously like salsa…)

tortellini

Snack – big ol bowl of popcorn. Clearly I was a bottomless pit for some reason this day…

popcorn

Friday:

Breakfast – burrito of 4 quail eggs scrambled with salsa and spinach

quail egg burrito

Lunch – rice & beans with roasted veggies

leftovers lunch

Snack – bits of PB&J and an apple

snacks

Dinner – leftovers

Food Total: $53.23

Harris Teeter + Weekly Produce Box = Eat the Uglies

Produce Box: Uglies

I am so in love with the movement to eat “ugly produce” that is gaining traction around the US and the world in general. Grocery stores usually have pretty strict standards on produce they will accept, like the size, shape, and color. Anything that has the slightest bruise, dent, nick, or blemish or doesn’t fit these requirements just gets rejected, and thrown out.

So this produce is wasted, sent to landfills, or left in the field to rot. The farmers lose out on money, and it does the world at large a lot of harm, just because we want our apple to look “perfect”.

Guess what folks?

Nature ain’t perfect.

Sometimes carrots have 2 legs, or taters are alien shaped, or apples get gnawed on a little bit. Produce grows from literal dirt, and poo is probably involved somewhere (hopefully, it’s the most perfect fertilizer). It’s still perfectly edible and healthy. Just give it a rinse before you eat or cook it.

The Weekend

I will be avoiding the online hullabaloo over the recently published Alt-FI Manifesto. This blog is not a place for politicking or arguing; it is a place to talk about food and money and health. The end.

I will say I am happy to see those who are willing to have a respectful dialogue regardless of beliefs, and saddened by those who seem to delight in attacking and generalizing.

I will also be attending my first NC Drag Show!

Not my first ever, but first since… oh, over a decade for sure. So I am nervous and excited to see how it goes! It will surely be full of fun and music and glitter.

Then Sunday we have brunch plans with our recent CA transplant Steve & his wife! They came to Durham from San Fran, and I am going to do my darndest to show all the ways the Triangle is far superior! Friendly people, great weather (maybe a losing battle here), and phenomenal cost of living (for now…).

One last announcement…

The boy has decided we are doing a Whole 30

Starting now.

🤪

 

 

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 2/11/19

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Last weekend we started off with a big bonfire and party, which was a lot of fun. But also tiring. We stayed up way too late, and maybe had a few too many beers. Saturday and Sunday were much slower and quieter haha.

Monday:

Breakfast – green smoothie: spinach, banana, frozen tropical fruit mix, flaxseed

green smoothie

Lunch – it was a super crazy day so I didn’t have time for lunch, but I got a late afternoon cup of tea and a nut bar, so that’s good. Oh, and someone brought Krispy Kreme donuts, so I had one of those.

afternoon tea

Dinner –I treated us to Chipotle burritos! The boy got steak and I got a sofritas with guac and it was glorious

Chipotle sofritas burrito with guac

Tuesday:

Breakfast – berry smoothie

berry black bean smoothie

Lunch – quinoa, cauliflower, black beans and cashews over a bed of mixed greens

quinoa cauliflower salad over a bed of greens

Snack – apple and a KIND bar

afternoon snack

Dinner – Instant Pot Fish & Veggies!

Instant Pot Fish & Veg

Wednesday:

Breakfast – berry smoothie, with black beans!

berry black bean smoothie

Lunch – leftover Instant pot fish & veg

Instant Pot Fish & Veg

Dinner – Enchiladas!

enchiladas

I had thawed a pound of free range Butcher Box ground beef. Mixed with some diced mushrooms and olives, and a healthy scoop of black beans, that made the perfect filling. I wrapped a big spoonful in a tortilla, times ten. Cover in diced tomatoes, chili powder, hot sauce, and garlic salt, plus a little shredded Mexican cheeses.

enchiladas

Thursday:

Breakfast – berry smoothie with black beans

berry black bean smoothie

Lunch – since it was Valentine’s Day, there was a party at work. They provided pizza, and everyone else brought salad and toppings and desserts. I had an eggplant pizza slice, it was surprisingly delicious

Valentines Day pizza & salad Valentines Day pizza & salad

Dinner – the boy always cooks on Valentine’s, since I cook 99% of the time. He met me at the door in a suit, there were candles everywhere, it was lovely. There is a no phone rule on V Day so no photos, sorry!

Friday:

Breakfast – mooooore smoothie!

Lunch – leftover enchiladas

Dinner – more leftover enchiladas! And there are still 2 left if you can believe it. I love making huge batches of meals that last all week

The Weekend

This weekend my pal Erin at Reaching For FI is in town, along with a special guest! And due to unfortunate sickness, we get the honor of hosting them. So I’m pretty stoked about that. Even if I nearly lost her friendship forever over my unpopular opinion on cumin

They already have plans Saturday and I have a Durham Food Tour lined up, so we won’t see much of each other. But then on Sunday, we are debating hitting up an all-you-can-drink mimosa brunch, and for sure will be stuffing our faces at All You Can Eat Sushi.

My sweat pants are ready.

AND, I finally got my quail egg incubator!!!

quail egg incubator

I have collected 7 eggs so far, and however many else I get Sat & Sun, they are all going in on Sunday. Quail eggs only take 18 days total to incubate, so I’ll have thumb-sized little chickies by March 8th! And, because they are small and their lifespan is so quick the girls will hopefully be up and laying eggs for me by April!

Oh, and no, Monday is not a holiday for me, I have to be at work at 8am thankyouverymuch. So if it is a holiday for you, boooo. And I hope you enjoy it.  🙂

Food Total: $53.40

Weekly Produce Box = I ordered all my favorite things this week: bananas, 2 lbs of beets, Brussels sprouts, Pink Lady apple, pears, rainbow carrots, cabbage, zucchini, yellow squash & cucumber

And a stop by Aldi for some sale produce and to restock some of my baking supplies that were running low or out.

Dairy $3.48 Staples $7.16 Fruit/Veg $8.48
Yogurt 12 3.48 4lb sugar 1.99 grape tomatoes pint 1.39
baking cocoa 1.79 blackberries 0.89
chocolate chips x2 3.38 baby bella mushrooms 0.99
cauliflower 1.29
avocados 8 3.92

Lessons Learned

Cooking a big ol batch of something that lasts for many days leftovers is a super time saver. Both the boy and myself had a couple doozies of a day at work this week, and I was too annoyed and/or exhausted to cook. As long as there’s still some enchiladas, then there is no reason to panic.

Also, dang it, not creating waste is next to impossible in this world today. I love having nuts and dried fruits as a snack, but a bar is even more convenient. I know I could make my own batch of KIND bars weekly, and should. But I just cannot dedicate enough mental space and time and effort to it. And that sucks.

Anyone have deep guilt and existential crises over our contribution to the demise of the planet? No, just me? Okay.

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 1/14/19

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

The weekend with the sister in law was super fun. I love having people visit so I can cook for them, and an excuse to go out too. She liked Durham, and I think she wouldn’t be too mad if she ended up moving here. 

quail eggs

The birds are laying pretty well, I’m getting 3 eggs a day on average, sometimes 4. And the soy sauce is starting to get some color to it. I try to keep it by the window with the blinds open so that it gets some sunlight, that is supposed to help it darken.

soy sauce fermenting

Monday:

Breakfast – Peaches & Cream oatmeal. 1/2 cup oats + 1/2 can of peaches, microwave 1 minute, stir. Add 1 tbsp ground flaxseed and a splash of almond milk, microwave 1 more minute. Done.

Peaches and cream oatmeal

Lunch – leftover red beans and rice, with some roasted broccoli and cauliflower. Clementine for dessert.

leftovers

Dinner – Teriyaki tempeh! One of my absolute favorite things to do with tempeh.

tempeh teriyaki

Tuesday:

Breakfast – wasn’t very hungry, so I just had an apple. Clearly, I need to remove my current nail polish…

pink lady apple

Lunch – leftover pierogi: mashed potato and applesauce. With some fresh cherries.

pierogi and cherries

Snack – hummus & cucumbers

hummus and cucumber

Dinner – Polenta and charro beans. The polenta was supposed to set in cans so I could cut them into rounds, but that didn’t work. So I just plopped it in a pan and baked it. And the charro black beans are a friends’ recipe that is super tasty.

polenta and charro beans

Wednesday:

Breakfast – accidentally skipped it…

Lunch – leftover rice and roasted veggies with falafel balls and hummus, big salad on the side

falafel balls and salad

Dinner – Simple: pasta shells with organic mushroom sauce, edamame on the side. And I found Lienenkeugel Berry, so yeah, that’s my favorite light beer and I bought some.

pasta night

Thursday:

Breakfast – Strawberry and peach oatmeal. Handful dried peaches sliced, 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup water. Microwave. Add some fresh diced strawberries and chia seeds, microwave again.

strawberry chia oatmeal

Lunch – leftover beans and polenta with avocado

leftovers

Dinner – out to the Carolina Brewery in Chapel Hill. I had the Veggie Burger and fries. It was really good, hearty with black beans and some subtle spice. The slaw was meh. But the honey wheat beer was darn good. 

veggie burger

Friday:

Breakfast – leftover sweet potato waffles with berry sauce. Just microwaved a cup of frozen berries with some maple syrup and blended it with an immersion blender.

sweet potato waffles

Lunch – repeat of yesterday’s leftover lunch, plus salsa

Snack – hummus and veg

hummus with veggies

Dinner – dinner party at a friend’s house. She made an amazing salad with pulled pork and a creamy cilantro sauce. I am totally willing to break veganuary for the sake of hanging out with good friends and catching up since the holidays. Plus it was damn good!

pulled pork salad

The Weekend

This weekend I have a Durham food tour on Saturday, so that should be fun. And we got invited to hang out with our neighbors on Sunday. Looking forward to getting to know them better. Since Monday is a holiday, I think that will be the around-the-house productive day. 

Food Total: $173.08

Yeah… I didn’t want to admit to this but I can’t lie to yall. I went to the store with the intention of buying 3 things, for a total of $12. But then I saw the clearance cart, with some things we use often at a ridiculous deal. When something you need that is usually $43 is marked down to $13, you buy it all!

Then I made the mistake of calling the boy to see if he needed anything while I was at the store. He has recently become hooked on the dried fruits and nuts as a snack too, so we are now basically out, and he requested more. And to balance the $50 of healthy food, we also ended up with $50 worth of beer haha

Staples $49.44 Fruit/Veg $12.11 Extras $111.53
dried apricot 15.99 bananas 1.35 stuff 52.8
dried prunes 11.49 avocado x10 5 cracklin oat bran 4.99
pitted dates 10.99 tomato sauce x4 5.76 leinenkeugel 14.99
dried cranberry 2     blue moon seasonal x2 29.98
raisins 4.49        
dried peaches x2 4.48     tax 8.77

 

Well, next week is another chance to do better.

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 7/30/18

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Last week I got a big ol box of tomatoes from Whitaker Farms. This weekend I finally got the time to make a huge batch of my easy peasy blender sauce, and canned 2 huge quarts and several pints. I LOVE homemade tomato sauce so much! The sweetness and complex flavors of locally grown organic tomatoes just can’t be beat.

budget epicurean weekly eating

And since I’m visiting my sister this weekend (more about that below) and she recently learned she has an intolerance for gluten, soy, and corn, I am bringing her a jar of sauce (because I know exactly what is in it) and tried my hand at a new gluten-free noodles recipe using almond flour and tapioca flour. I have no idea if these noodles will hold together or taste good, but at least I tried!

budget epicurean weekly eating

 

Monday:

Breakfast – fruit smoothie with watermelon, local peaches, banana, and blueberries + flax & amla

Lunch – half batch of tuna salad as lettuce wraps, plus some raw veggies and hummus

budget epicurean weekly eating

Snack – cut up fruits

Dinner – I did a crazy clean-out-the-fridge veggie burger with a Turkish twist. I had some roasted beets, leftover cooked potatoes, pinto beans and brown rice. So I tossed it all in the blender with spices and some flax to bind it, and make it into 8 patties, which I lightly fried in coconut oil.

budget epicurean weekly eating

I had some leftover pita bread and tzatziki sauce, and stewed some fresh veggies and cashews in Za’atar and curry powder. It turned out AMAZING all together! Cleaning out the fridge is a great frugal strategy, veggie meals can be truly outstanding, and it prevents food waste, all things that I love.

Tuesday:

Breakfast – Peaches & Cream oatmeal. 1/ cup oats, 1 cut up peach, 3 diced dried apricots, 1 cup almond milk, handful of walnuts. The walnuts added a bit too many calories, so I won’t use them again.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Lunch – leftover shrimp and broccoli fettuccini

Snack – more fruit!

Dinner – Wheat penne with the homemade sauce <3 I steamed some broccoli and cauliflower on the side.

Wednesday:

Breakfast – another round of Peaches & Cream oatmeal, sans walnuts

Lunch – the rest of the curry vegetables and brown rice. Cauliflower, bell pepper, onions, garlic, and fresh tomato. YUM.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Dinner – Chipotle was giving away free guac today only, so of course we had to jump on that! Chipotle is definitely both of our favorite ‘eat-out’ places. The flavor cannot be beat, and I’ve tried to make the chicken and the rice. It is never quite right.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Thursday:

Breakfast – cheerios, because sometimes I just don’t wanna

Lunch – leftover Chipotle. Another reason I love them is because it is almost always enough for 2 meals for me, so basically like half price and I get to eat it twice in a row.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Snack – no way, more fruit?!? 🙂

Dinner – The boy had a tiny bit of ground beef left from making himself burritoes for lunch, and I was craving some warm soup to go with the icky rain. So I tossed together a cup of rice, some stock from the fridge, frozen mixed veggies, and the beef. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Boom, easy peasy and super cheap comfort food.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Friday:

Breakfast – fruit smoothie with watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, and cherry juice, plus frozen blueberries and banana

budget epicurean weekly eating

Lunch – canned soup from my desk at work, because I didn’t have any pre-made leftovers today.

Dinner – on the road!

The Weekend

I’m driving to Ohio this weekend for a wedding shower.

Yup. I agree with you, I am crazy.

It’s about a 10 hours drive both ways. But family. Ya know.

I packed a cooler with some road snacks, granola bars, PBJs, bottled water (re-useable bottles, don’t worry). Hopefully I can make it without giving into temptation for fast food, but who knows. I’m going to give myself grace and roll with whatever happens this weekend. Plus my mom doesn’t know, so it will be a total surprise to her. I can’t wait to see her face. 🙂

Food Total: $27.03

This week I did not go to the grocery store at all! It went by in a blur actually. I meant to go Wednesday but then it was monsooning. Then I was going to go Thursday, but the rain was even worse. So we scrounged and figured it out and it worked out. The produce delivery box was more than enough to get us by combined with what’s in the pantry.

Lessons Learned

Apparently I have far more food in the house than I even realized. We didn’t go to the grocery store this week and barely even noticed. I may be able to spread out grocery shopping to every other week soon, and just stock up on enough yogurt and bananas to get the boy through to the next trip.

Also I need to get back to batch cooking on the weekends again. I’ve been lax on planning and prepping, as summer is just plain crazy. We are definitely gone more weekends than we are here, and weekends are when I have the time, energy, and mental space to do these things. So I’ve been scrounging for lunch and snacks lately, and had a few ‘what the heck do I make for dinner’ moments. Those prepped “food, fast” meals are definitely required.

 

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 2/26/18

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

This was the best week for meal planning yet! I put together a complete plan, compared the ads for all three of my favorite grocery stores (Kroger, Harris Teeter, and ALDI, in case you wondered) and discovered that neither of my two closest had good enough sales or coupons this week to justify them. So ALDI it was, even though it is (sadly) the most out of my way. It is 90% of the time the cheapest overall option, though, so I wasn’t too torn up about it.

storefront of ALDI in Durham NC

I mentioned it was recently remodeled right? Good lord do I wish I lived closer, I would be here almost daily. Okay, maybe I don’t wish I lived closer… But, it is gorgeous inside, and I found all the things I needed and then some. They had hemp hearts! And some cool rice and quinoa blends. And lentils and split peas on sale. I am 99% sure you could live off this week’s groceries for at least a few weeks.

Oh and remember how much we liked the Raleigh Beer Garden last week, even though it was rainy & gloomy? We went back again and it was sunny and 70s and perfect! Yeah we spent 2 weekends in a row here, what of it? Tell me you aren’t jealous.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

I also finally made chana saag (spinach & chickpeas), which I had been jonesing for ever since my trip to Sitar. It wasn’t quite on par with theirs, but I’ll work on it. I just love the flavor combo here, it’s like the Indian version of red beans & rice.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Oh, and I made a new batch of my favorite granola bars! Sure they have processed pretzels in them, but when they satisfy the same craving as a Snickers bar with far less fat and ingredients I control, I’m okay with it. Balance, people. This batch came out quite oily, which is disappointing. But it won’t stop me from nomming them all.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Oh, AND, one more thing, it’s the last weekend update I swear. I made pizza dough, which was fine. It was the toppings I was particularly proud of. My family visited a few months ago, and one thing they bought was a jar of BACON JAM for the boy.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Yup, you read that right. And it’s been sitting in my cupboard, because I’m at a loss as to what to do with it (for some reason I got a weird look when  I suggested he eat it with a spoon…) BUT. Turns out, it makes a really great pizza topping!

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

With some shredded Brussels sprouts and goat cheese, OHMAHLAWD y’all. To. Die. For. Pizza.

Monday:

Breakfast – the last of the Cracklin Oat Bran! I’m sad to finish this box off, it made fast mornings so easy… but, alas. I cannot allow myself to get into a $5 per box habit.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Lunch – Chana Saag and brown rice. Deeeeeeeeeelish.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Oh and I saw this ad in the hallway! Super exciting, and since we don’t eat many eggs anymore, I only buy about a dozen every other week. I think this is do-able, and will be a great step towards eating as locally as possible.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Snack – Hummus & cut veggies. Isn’t it so pretty?! Carrots, celery, and cucumbers.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Dinner – Brussels Bacon Goat Cheese Pizza <3<3<3

Tuesday:

Breakfast – A Rainbow Smoothie! Not a Rainbow Of Smoothies, that’s an ongoing series. It was one smoothie, with a s*#t-ton of different fruits and veg! This is what happens when you have a LOT of fruit in the house.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Lunch – Brussels Bacon Goat Cheese Pizza

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Snack – Bagel & pear. I forgot I even had these bagels, and needed to eat them before they went bad, as well as the pear. So it made for a great snack time.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Dinner – White bean soup. This one was sans ham, but I added some wheat bran to thicken it up more. It’s even better overnight.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Wednesday:

Breakfast – Sweet potato, lentils, & spinach. This is one more step on top of one of my favorite simple hot breakfasts. Just simmer sweet potatoes and lentils together in water for 25-30 minutes while you get dressed and pack lunch. Toss in some spinach at the end and boom breakfast is served.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Lunch – The rest of the Chana Saag, with some quick tzatziki

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Snack – Fruit & nut goji trail mix. I’m slowly working on the last of this travel mix. I think I got my money’s worth for how long it’s taking me to finish this.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Then I got hungry again near quittin time, good thing I also had a Nature Valley bar and some blueberries.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Dinner – I decided to try a new recipe, and used this one for Turkish Koftes. It’s basically wheat and red lentils and onions, formed into patties and wrapped in lettuce leaves.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

I whipped up a quick lemon tahini yogurt dressing to go with, and I thought they were pretty great. They were a bit too watery (my fault, I just didn’t want the lentils to burn…) so I baked them at 400 for 15 minutes and that helped solidify them.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Ohhhhhhh and fresh chocolate chip cookies for dessert! We rarely have dessert here in the BE household, because neither of us is crazy about sweets (I know, I know, what kind of monsters are we… the kind that thrive on salt, apparently). But I’d had these in the freezer for a while, from the Dec Food Swap, and decided it was time.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Boy, am I glad I did! Straight from freezer to oven, they came out slightly brown outside but ooey-gooey-chewy on the inside. Be still, my beating heart. I want more. Like now.

Thursday:

Breakfast – Corn grits with spinach, white beans, and an egg. I don’t know where I come up with these things either. I had some grits left from the weekend, and I think the internet told me that savory grits go with spinach well, so I pulled that from the freezer.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

I decided it needed more protein, so I threw in a handful of white beans (I had a huge batch I made in the slow cooker over the weekend) and a fried egg on top. It was surprisingly tasty!

Lunch – Big salad with goat cheese, beets, and pepitas, and some leftover white bean soup. I love canned beets, they are so easy (no roasting or peeling required) and are awesome on salads.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Snack – Nature Valley bar. I meant to throw one of my granola bars in my lunch bag but I forgot… luckily I had one of these hidden in my desk so I didn’t have to gnaw my arm off before driving home.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

I also found out that there is a food drive happening at work! This is great news, because it makes it super convenient to donate the food I’ve been buying at each grocery trip.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Dinner – Was not feeling black eyed peas (nor had I soaked them overnight) so we had leftover buffet, which translated into tacos for the boy and leftover lentils and sweet potato with rice for me. This is why I consider the meal plan more of a guide than a written in stone requirement every week.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

I had a bunch of bananas that were turning waaaaaaaay brown, so of course that is just begging for banana bread! I whipped up a banana walnut loaf, and holy cow, fresh and hot out the oven with some butter, mmmmmmmm mmmmmm! I must say, this might be my best one ever.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Friday:

Breakfast – Banana bread, and a green smoothie

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Lunch – Last of the Brussels Bacon Goat Cheese Pizza. For the boy, to whom one large pizza is basically one meal, at best two, this is utterly confusing and disturbing that I can turn my one pizza into 4 different meals.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Also it was not quite enough to satisfy me, so good thing I planned for that and brought a few of the leftover koftes!

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

Dinner – It was Stir Friday of course! I made my sweet & spicy Asian beef with a giant batch of stir fried veggies and brown rice.

Budget Epicurean Weekly Eating

The Weekend

We are hosting the first dinner party we’ve had in months, and I’m so excited! I absolutely loooooooooove having people over and feeding them, and winter has dragged on for all of time. It’s on 3/3 so I’m planning a meal of 3s, 3 appetizer dips, 3 different pastas, 3 sauces, etc. I don’t think anyone will have met each other prior to this besides myself, so it should be interesting! I love bringing together people of all different personalities, and hope this sparks some great conversation and deeper friendships.

 

Food Total: $59.69

I totally killed it this week with meal planning. Mostly because I made a meal plan relying heavily on dried legumes and pantry items, and stuck to my list. This might be the first time I only had 2 impulse purchases (the hemp seeds and fabric softener).

Dairy $8.07 Staples $24.50 Fruit/Veg $16.39 Extras $9.46
Plain Greek yogurt 3.49 Diced tomatoes 2.48 Romaine heads 3 1.99 Fabric softener sheets 1.89
Blueberry Kefir 4.58 Chickpeas canned 2.2 Kiwi 6 1.29 Vanilla extract * 6.98
Pesto 1.99 Pineapple 2 whole 3.5 Seltzer 0.59
 white beans 32oz 1.99 Bananas 5 0.74
Split peas & lentils 2.38 Garlic 3 head 0.79
Hemp seeds 4.99 Cucumber 0.85
Rice blend 16 oz 2.99 3 Bell peppers 1.99
Quinoa 16 oz 3.49 avocados 3 1.17
20 flour tortillas 1.99 onions 2lb 1.09
Spinach 12oz 2 2.98

Lessons Learned

Practice what you preach, babe! I go on and on about how meal planning and lists save you money on groceries, but even I, with years of practice on my iron will, capitulate to the siren song of BOGO deals, markdowns, and impulse buys. But the closer to plant-based we eat, and the closer I follow my plan and list, the more we save!

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Turkey, Ham n Cheese Pinwheels

 

You know how sometimes, you get invited to a potluck at the last second? Or you get home from school/work and are totally starving but don’t have the time or energy to make “real food”? Or you need a lunch or snack that will keep at room temperature for a few hours, but want something a little better than PB&J?

Pinwheels to the rescue.

Pinwheels are essentially a wrap, sliced into little sushi-like bite sized pieces. You can use any type of meat and/or cheese, as well as any condiment or topping you can think of. I’ve made these little guys for plenty of potlucks, holiday parties, picnics, and impromptu get togethers, as well as when a snack attack hit but I didn’t want to make a full meal just yet.

Try: turkey, ham, chicken, roast beef, cheddar, gouda, swiss, provolone, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, guacamole, sriracha, hummus, cream cheese, plain Greek yogurt, tzatziki. Add spinach, lettuce, bean sprouts, tomato, onion, cucumber, carrot slices, beets…

To make my favorite kind, I use a mixture of ham and turkey, and white and yellow cheddar. I also usually add a few leaves of spinach, to convince myself they are good for me. 😉

Makes about 20 pinwheels.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large tortillas
  • About 1/2 lb lunch meat
  • 4 slices cheese
  • Handful of spinach
  • Optional: cream cheese

Step 1: Layer the meat, cheese, and toppings on your tortilla. Roll it up tightly.

Step 2: Slice into 1-inch thick pieces. Spread them out on the plate, and prepare for ooooh and ahhhhs. And a quickly empty plate.

 

 

Decision Fatigue and Travel Stresses

We all know the importance of being prepared, and packing food and snacks when you will be traveling or away from home for a long time. Being prepared is one of my top ten frugal rules.

A bag of trail mix or a granola bar can save the day when you’re so hungry you can’t think straight but there aren’t many (or any) food options. This becomes even more true if you add children into the mix, who are not very good at waiting or ignoring hunger.

The most logical decision is to have snacks available. The Simple Dollar recommends planning ahead, packing food in coolers, and having less perishable things like boxes of granola bars always readily available. These tips are helpful whether in a car on a roadtrip or on a flight across the world.

But sometimes, even the best laid plans can go awry. There is construction that delays your route by hours, a big storm wreaks havoc, or your plane gets delayed/rerouted/cancelled. This is what happened to hubs and I when trying to get home from a family wedding in Maine last weekend.

Intense fog had rolled in, making it hard to see anything. Planes were unable to land, and circled Logan International for hours, trying to land before they ran out of fuel. In the end, over 400 flights were delayed or cancelled.

So now we were stuck in Boston, with no car or hotel or people to stay with. The airline rescheduled us to a flight the following day, but gave nothing at all for a hotel voucher or food. The only amenity we were given was the customer service rep telling us “we have cots in baggage claim, if you want one”.

Yes I’d like to sleep on a fold out cot, in an open room in a large airport, with all my bags out in the open, along with 500 other angry strangers. Sounds relaxing.

Unfortunately, by then it was late, nearing ten pm, and we just wanted to sleep. We were already exhausted from a long wedding weekend with little rest, and had reached the point of decision fatigue. The result was a pretty big hit to our finances.

What is Decision Fatigue?

Decision fatigue is that feeling when you have become so overwhelmed with making choices, whether multiple at once or over the course of a day, that when faced with another decision you are too exhausted mentally to think through something logically and instead choose anything, just to have the issue decided and to be able to stop thinking about it.

Your brain can only handle so many details at once, and we have a finite amount of decision making powers every day. This is why people like Mark Zuckerberg choose to have a limited wardrobe, or eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day. eliminating daily small decisions leaves more mental energy for bigger choices and creative thinking.

According to a 2011 study in PNAS, decision fatigue affects even the most logical of professions: judges. Judges are supposed to be the bringers of justice, carefully weighing facts and making the best decisions for the people, doling out punishments to fit the crimes. But the study showed that the decisions became harsher the longer it had been since the judges’ last meal! They serve harsher sentences when hungry.

If the smartest legal minds in the world fall prey to decision fatigue, don’t you think you would too? Well, that didn’t stop me from making some poor financial choices, that I knew at the time weren’t the best, and yet, we chose to make that compromise for immediate peace of mind and comfort.

The Damage

That one flight cancellation likely cost us at least one full flight.

We paid for a night in a hotel in Boston (which you can imagine is not cheap), 2 rides, to the hotel and back the next day, unplanned-for food for dinner that night and lunch on Monday (the hotel had free breakfast, which was great, but also was solely carbs), not to mention us both missing a day of work and having to use precious vacation hours to make up for it.

But all told, it could have been much worse.

What Can You Do?

So if your travel plans are wrecked, what can you do? Should you just pull out the credit card, and start buying all the food, coffee, shoes, and entertainment to get your mind off the stress? Just buy a whole new wardrobe once you get to your destination?

Of course not!

There are several things you can do, both in planning your trip ahead of time, and as the <insert travel disaster> is unfolding. It is unlikely you will finish the day with zero financial damage, but you can limit it to a few bruises rather than going 6 rounds with an angry tiger.

Make Important decisions first

We all have limited resources mentally. Especially at the end of a day, at the end of an already long trip. There are another dozen choices to make, so make it as easy on yourself as possible. Make the important decisions first, like whether to stop at a hotel halfway or drive straight through the night, or whether to try to get another flight out the same day versus renting a car and just driving.

These choices will depend on your situation, and also your own personal values. If you are in a great place financially and don’t care about the cost, you just want a fancy hotel to sleep, then go for it. If you are on a tight budget with almost no wiggle room, perhaps the free cot is worth it, and more appealing than an airport chair. What to wear to bed, when you can get to the grocery store, or what to do when you get home can wait.

Pack extra!

 

This goes for food as well as strategic packing of toiletries and clothing. Thank goodness we had packed layers, not knowing what the weather would hold. I ALWAYS pack a minimum of 2 extra pair of underwear than nights planned for the trip. Because you just never know, and they don’t take up much space. We still had clean clothes to wear, and didn’t have to incur the extra expense of going to a laundromat or dry cleaners while traveling.

See my list of snacks recipes for ideas, or the internet also has literally infinity ideas. Choose items which can be kept at room temperature, or ideally a range of temperatures. Granola bars are perfect, trail mix, dried fruits, nuts, chips/popcorn, whole fruits like apples or bananas… you get the idea.

Pack something for the travel to your destination, some for the travel home, plus a little something extra. We were able to eat the trail mix anytime hunger pangs hit, and thus stave off extra, expensive, food purchases in the airport. (Note: TSA does search food now, in the name of “efficiency”… so it may behoove you to pack things in see-through containers like Ziplocks so they aren’t touching your almonds and raisins, and take them out when going through screening.)

Use what you have

We did take advantage of the tiny breakfast buffet at the hotel. They offered small yogurts, orange juice and cranberry juice, coffee, bagels and toast and English muffins. We each had some juice and yogurt, and 2 cups of coffee. We split an English muffin, and took a bagel on the road as an extra travel snack.

If you have free food available to you, take advantage of it, even if it is not something you would normally eat. I try not to have too carb-heavy breakfasts, but a bagel that was free is better than $8 at Starbucks. By the third day you may get tired of trail mix or granola bars, but you can eat like a king once you’re safely home.

Have some miles or points banked

For those of you familiar with travel hacking, I’m sure I don’t need to expand on this. But if you’ve never heard of this, it is where you use credit card or chain rewards programs to earn free things. Cash back rewards, rental cars, hotel stays, and flights are all possible if you know the rules of the game.

Even if you don’t have the time or energy to invest hardcore into travel hacking, you can still sign up for a credit card with good rewards, or a hotel chain at which you frequently stay. That way, if you unexpectedly have to overnight in Omaha, you can put the $100 cash back towards the Red Roof Inn, or use your free stay at a Hilton, and take some of the sting out of the purchase.

Roll with it

As a kind lady I was next to at the airport for a few hours said, “Anything can be rescheduled, as long as you’re not dead”.

She had a great outlook. Several people were panicking about missing work, meetings, classes, etc. There are of course some things which are more important and cannot be rescheduled, like births and birthdays, graduations and wedding and ceremonies. But generally speaking, as long as you are alive, it will be ok.

No one likes delays, but try to remember it is likely either something out of everyone’s control, and / or it is for your own safety. I wouldn’t want a plane full of people to land blind, and potentially hit the watch tower or miss the runway. If there is a mechanical malfunction, do you really want to trust your life to that plane or car? Better to be patient and wait until the problem can be resolved than take that chance.

Deep breaths, and remember this too shall pass. And it will pass much easier if you have a handful of popcorn and a good book.

 

What travel troubles have you experienced? Any tips to keep disruptions from derailing your finances?

Weekly Eating 8/7/17

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Monday:

Breakfast – Cherry Vanilla Protein Smoothie. What you see is what went in the blender, except I used frozen already-pitted cherries. The fresh ones were for snacking all week.  🙂

Lunch – chili with edamame and grapes. Organic frozen edamame are my favorite, because I love them (covered in sea salt of course) and they count as a green vegetable with any meal!

Dinner – one pan rosemary chicken and potatoes with zucchini. I speared chunks of chicken onto the rosemary stems, and sprinkled the leaves all over about 4 cubed potatoes. 2 zucchini got diced into spears, and the whole thing covered in foil and popped in the oven at 400 for about 35 minutes. It was so delicious, and really easy cleanup!

Snack – banana pudding y’all! We made some from scratch, and it was gooooooooood! We used ginger snaps instead of vanilla wafers, and I had no idea pudding is actually so easy! Tasty, and dangerous…

Tuesday:

Breakfast – smoothie! The rest of yesterdays (I made a double batch, and put the rest in the refrigerator)

Lunch – Chili with edamame and grapes. Yes this week is pretty boring, but I had SO MUCH chili left over from last week. Rather than freeze it I decided that was just what I was eating this week. It’s easy, super healthy, and super cheap.

Dinner –  macaroni & cheese, not even healthified, just something that was quick and easy to throw together, plus we had several types of cheese in the refrigerator that needed using. I sprinkled it with paprika to look fancy.

Wednesday:

Breakfast – 2 hard boiled eggs & a homemade pretzel chocolate peanut butter granola bar

Lunch – chili mac n cheese, just leftover chili and leftover mac n cheese mixed together. But oh em gee it is SO GOOD.

Dinner – gyros! Hubs made this one, since his favorite food of all time is a burrito. He loves other cuisines’ takes on burritos too, like enchiladas, sushi burritos, or schwarma. Or gyros. Mmmmm.

Snack – handful of pretzels and M&Ms

Thursday 

Breakfast – a piece of blueberry pie left from last weekend’s party

Lunch – tasty pasta

Dinner – broiled chicken breast, potato salad & kale. I tried cooking the kale in lemon juice until soft, but I think I let it go too long. It got this dark olive green color, and was barely edible. Next time I think I’ll just stick with kale chips!

Friday

Breakfast – granola bar & 2 hard boiled egg whites. Yes sometimes I get boring and repeat meals, what of it?! Plus, boiling a dozen eggs at the start of the week and making large batches of things like granola bars gives us plenty of quick protein filled breakfast and snacking options. So necessary at 6:30 am.

Lunch – chili mac n cheese = finally finished both the chili and the mac n cheese! Yes!

Dinner – Chipotle! I had been hard core craving this for almost 2 weeks, and finally caved. C’est la vie, I don’t regret it. Plus, I get a burrito bowl, and they always pack that container full. I put part of it into my own tortilla when I get home, and that way I turn one bowl into 2-3 meals! That’s like $3 per meal. Aw yessss.

The Weekend

This weekend is pretty relaxed, just going to Saturday morning rooftop yoga, and the Durham Farmers Market. We planned to explore some towns near us perhaps, and do some organizing at home. Maybe some video games… by maybe I mean definitely.

Total: $89.35

My goal is to keep this number under $100 all the time, and eventually get down to $75/week for food.

Lessons Learned

This was a good week, some things at our jobs were finally calming down and assorted outstanding items were done, so stress levels decreased overall. Always a nice feeling. Plus using up leftovers, even if it means repeat meals, is a top 10 frugal strategy.

On the flip side, I didn’t make a meal plan this week, so the meals were figured out the day of usually… and we also went out to eat twice, which is not our norm.  It is what nudged the week’s cost up, as groceries alone were only about $30. But it felt much more special exactly because it is a rare event!

How about you guys, did you have a great week or a learning week?

Weekly Eating – 7/31

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Excuse me while I have an existential crisis real quick…

{OMG WHAT ITS AUGUST!? It was January like 2 seconds ago, we just moved to a new state, started a new job, had no furniture but an air mattress and knew not a darn soul… now we’ve been here TEN WHOLE MONTHS and have, like, a real adult home?!? And friends?? WHOA. Pretty sure this is where I should insert “hashtag blessed” or something..}

Okay, thanks for hanging in there readers, on to the deets of this week’s noms!

I had made a big ol’ pot of crockpot chili on Sunday night, which is one of my favorite things to do. I take all the kinds of dried beans in the house, and soak them in water overnight. In the morning, I pour out the water, refill it, and add the extra tomato juice, veggies, meat, and spices. Then you just let it rock and roll all day.

It is insanely cheap, because dried beans. It is also insanely versatile, use up the ends and bits of whatever, lentils, bell peppers, onions, black beans. So it is a little different every time. This became lunches several days, kept the work-from-home hubs from starving, and also chili cheese dogs and chili baked potatoes! <3

Monday:

Breakfast – bagel with almond butter & apple. This has become one of my favorite to-go breakfasts, so fast and easy, yet healthy!

Lunch – stuffed poblano peppers from last week’s food swap

Dinner – eggplant parm & pasta. I have tried multiple times, I just cannot like eggplant! This saddens me, because it is so good for you, and people very often want to give it away. But I just cannot.

Snack – white bean rosemary hummus with raw veggies. Y’all, if you have not tried this yet you are missing out! Get out the blender, go read the recipe right now, and make it!

Tuesday:

Breakfast – 2 egg veggie omelet. Had some onions, peppers, and mushrooms so I stir fried them and wrapped them in eggs!

Lunch – tuna noodle casserole. This is giving it a bit more credit than I probably should. I just took some leftover cooked pasta salad that already had bits of peppers and onion and mayo, and added a can of tuna to it to give it protein. Then I called that lunch!

Dinner – baked blue cheese & spinach chicken rolls with oven-roasted potato wedges & garlic aioli. Sounds super fancy, I know, but honestly it is literally 3 ingredients! Just thin chicken breasts, a pinch of blue cheese and handful of spinach, roll up and secure with cooking twine or toothpicks and bake!

The garlic aioli is 1-2 garlic cloves diced small, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, and 1/2 cup mayonnaise, mixed well. This is an excellent dip for chicken and potato wedges. Feel free to pull out this recipe anytime you need to impress someone but have seriously 5 minutes to focus on making the food.

Oh, and I also got a little crafty this week! I had seen a YouTube video for a bathing suit wrap that’s almost no-sew, and just had to try it. Of course, I didn’t get to it in time for the beach last weekend, but that’s ok.

It really was so easy! Just cut it to the right width to wrap around you, cut arm holes, and braid 3 strips of fabric for the shoulder straps. The straps were the only sewing part, and it took like 10 minutes total! I can’t wait to go somewhere that I can use it!

Wednesday:

Breakfast – homemade pretzel PB choc chip granola bars using THIS RECIPE from Tiffany @ Don’t Waste the Crumbs

This recipe was so easy to follow, and I LOVE pretzels, so how could it possibly go wrong? Well, I think using JIF added more oil than it needed, what with the extra coconut oil, so it was pretty greasy… but the flavor was out of this world delish, so this recipe is a keeper! I will definitely tweak it and make these again.

Lunch – crock pot turkey chili, I brought in a big enough container that I could only finish half! Good thing we have work refrigerators

Dinner – slow cooker pulled beef sandwiches with steamed broccoli and pinto beans. I literally just stuck a pound of beef roast in the crock pot before work, came home and shredded it. Could not ask for a simpler, but seriously tasty, dinner!

Snack – white bean hummus with raw veggies

Thursday 

Breakfast – pepper & onion omelet for me, cherry vanilla smoothie for the man. I think we’ve found a new favorite! 1/2 cup frozen cherries, 1/2 cup cherry juice, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder. It is GOOD!

Lunch – the rest of the turkey chili & more white bean hummus! See how making big batches of things early in the week can mean less work the rest of the week?

Dinner – turkey burritos! Because burritos are the kings of food.

I also had a great batch-prep night because this is when I went grocery shopping for the weekend parties (see below). I cooked up like 6 pounds of ground turkey and beef and packed it in 1lb zip locks to freeze, got a great deal on marked-down overripe bananas that I froze to make smoothies and bread in the future, and washed and cut up and bagged grapes, cherries, and strawberries for snacks.

Friday

Breakfast – vanilla Greek yogurt with strawberries, chia seeds, & walnuts. I made a grave error at the store, and grabbed flavored Greek rather than plain. I do make my own yogurt, but haven’t mastered the making it thicker like Greek yogurt part. So I got some for the hubs to put on burritos… oops. Well, now we will have smoothies and yogurt for breakfasts.

Lunch – Beef & veggie leftover soup. I took my small crock pot to work, and used up the little bit of leftover pulled beef, beans, broccoli, and some kale. I added a bit of barley, and let it go on my desk all morning. The office smelled great, and I had a cheap hot lunch!

Dinner – One pan roasted chicken, potatoes, and cauliflower with a side salad. I know this dinner is so “white” i.e. not much color. And also, not stir fry. But the below mentioned cheap chickens were around, so I roasted one, and Kroger also had a 5lb bag of potatoes for 0.99, so…

Hence the side salad, for at least a little greenery in our diet.

Snack – granola bar nomnomnom

The Weekend

Saturday is a neighborhood potluck, for which I plan on making some potato salad and ham sandwiches. I also got whole chicken on sale this week for 0.79 / pound!! Can you even believe it! Yeah I stocked my freezer, as you’ll see below in the total…

And then Sunday we are hosting  a wine tasting by Unique Pairings! I’m super pumped because it means an excuse to eat all the cheese and sweets and try lots of wines! This also helped to inflate the food budget a little, but totally worth. I adore hosting parties.

Total: $177.86

My goal is to keep this number under $100 all the time, and eventually get down to $75/week for food.

Lessons Learned

Uh, yeah, so we overshot by $100. BUT. As noted above, we are going to 2 different parties this weekend, and most of the extra food was for appetizers/foods to share. Also, as hosts, we will frequently wind up with tons of leftover food, which will likely feature in a lot of next week’s meals.

Plus, SEVENTY NINE CENTS A POUND for chicken!! Come on. Tell me you wouldn’t buy like ten if you had the freezer space for that. A lot of this was stocking up on good sales, so that in future weeks we won’t have to spend as much on meats/etc.

How about you guys, did you have a great week or a learning week?