Project: Food Budget, Week 33-34

First of all, thanks for all of the love this week!  I’m so glad you all are liking my more introspective posts and life updates…I can’t tell you how much it means to me when you like a post or follow the blog.  <3 <3 <3

This is going to be a quickie update for several reasons:

  1. The Revenge season finale is on in 1.5 hours.  I still need to make dinner.  Clearly I have priorities
  2. I don’t have all my receipts from the past couple of weeks so I can’t tell you how much I saved.
  3. I just finished my call with my kick ass soul sister coach and am so energized and ready to tackle some of the more intimidating projects to grow my biz.  I love my blog but it doesn’t support me so…well, you know.  ;)  And of course this all needs to be done before 10 pm.

Meal Plan

Green smoothies.
Cajun Cornbread Casserole (Everyday Happy Herbivore) <–I got three meals and one snack out of this!
Pineapple Teriyaki Tempeh (EHH)
Cereal!
Oats

Total Spending (last two weeks): $71.17

:D

Alright!  Now that number would be better if I hadn’t spent a significant amount of other $ on eating out but hey…this is my time to be free, right?  I’m not going crazy with my $ and in fact have been rather successfully bargain hunting for housewares, furniture, and new clothes.  I’ve been aware (ish) of my spending and investing in those things that need investing while saving for a better deal when I know its out there.

For me, that is the sweet spot that this project has brought me to. 

Don’t forget to check out me other budgeting loves…you might notice there are some new additions!  With all different budgets, family sizes, dietary lifestyles, etc, you’ll be sure to find one that reflects your own situation.

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 32 + Past Weeks’ Eats

Welcome back to another exciting week of saving money with y/b/l.

Tip of the Week

Splurge when you can!  Maybe you are living back at home and mom is picking up some of your groceries and you are drawing all grains and beans from your stockpile.  Or maybe you just don’t need that much this week.  Either way, you have a bit of room in your budget to buy some new-to-you items that normally wouldn’t be in-budget.  Go ahead…be rebellious!  And enjoy every second of it:)

Weekly Menu

What happens when you move and then proceed to travel immediately?  Meal planning goes out the window.  The downside: this can lead to overspending.  The upside: I’ve been forced to get a creative and good great things have resulted.  The only items I brought into mom’s kitchen are my box (yes box) of spices, my cutting board, my knife, and my blender.  I do occasionally grab beans, oil, or grains from the storage room basement but all-in-all, I’ve been creating yummy dishes with very little.

Now by creating I mean going back to my college years of depending on the stir-fry.  I could sing the praises of stir fries for hours but I’ll get straight to the point: they are the most versatile, fantastic, go-to meal on the planet.  Grains + veggies + protein + seasonings and you’re good to go.  Veggies on their way out?  No problem…just toss ‘em in and go!  Don’t love that grain you bought in bulk?  Mix it in.  You get the picture.  ;)

First there was the Road Trip Fill-Her-Up which consisted of Alter Eco red quinoa, vidalia onions, spinach, chickpeas, garlic, chili powder, liquid smoke, and s&p.

Whatever you do, don’t skip the liquid smoke!  It added a depth of flavor to this dish that makes it totally unpredictable but incredibly delicious.  A bottle doesn’t cost that much and will last you forever since you only need a couple drops (max) to get the desired effect.

Next up, the Unique Use-‘Em-Up:

Isn’t mom’s deck table pertiful?

This guy had brown rice, the rest of my dying bag of baby bell peppers, black beans, and ginger/rosemary/s&p as well as a unique new-to-me oil that I splurged on at…of all places…Marshalls!

Why yes that is rosemary, ginger, sweet orange-infused olive oil!

Oh my word this was to-die-for.  I not only sauteed the veggies with the oil + spices but also mixed them into the rice.  You couldn’t really taste the orange on the veggies but it was definitely there on the rice.  Which I proceeded to nibble on repeatedly.  Is this oil absolutely necessary?  No.  Did it take lunch from good to outstanding?  Yes!  Will I be experimenting with more infused oils?  Yes again.

Then of course were my sweet potatoes, which I sung the praise of in yesterday’s post<–see savory recipe there

Cheezy Sweet Potatoes

And another new-to-me product that provides great snacking, with or without milk.  ;)

I’ve also been eating out a ton between my trip to Bmore and just catching up with people.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of meals not pictured because either a) the photos didn’t come out at all or b) I was too hungry to remember to snap one.  Putting that sad fact aside, I am happy to report that Bmore is a very veg-friendly city.  Or maybe its just my recent shift in perspective, who knows.  Either way, I’ve been consistently looking for and finding a plethora of veg options at dedicated and mainstream restaurants alike.

Continue reading

Project: Food Budget, Week 29 + a Giveaway!

Tip of the Week

A little PSA today.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed some things getting a little *ahem* tight.  And not in the “Hello Sexy” way!  There are numerous factors which played a role in this situation, couponing included.  So today’s tip is a bit of a lesson and a bit of a cautionary tale.

Repeat after me: just because you can buy something and have a coupon for it doesn’t mean you should buy it.  That Dagoba chocolate bar..those packets of Justin’s…all that Nature’s Path <–too many links to share you get the picture.  But wait, you say, you only use healthy coupons!  Yea…I know.  Nutbutter is healthy…in small amount.  So is cereal…when I’m not eating it by the (several) box-fuls.  Again, I’m not blaming couponing entirely, but it certainly played a role.  Here’s the thing, it is way easier to snack when you know you’ve got a stockpile of your drug of choice or coupons for to get it for cheap or free.  Want to know how I know?  My last bag of Udi’s is still sitting in my pantry.  That definitely did not happen with bags 1 or 2 (I had three free product coupons)!

I’m not being too hard on myself (most days…) because I know right now things in my life are absolutely crazy.  In fact, a part of me is happy that this occurred because now that I’m aware of this “trigger” so-to-speak, I can take the steps to change it and not accidentally fall into this pattern again. Use coupons to fuel a healthier lifestyle, not the opposite!

Weekly Menu

Asparagus Caesar Salad

Bday oats and mango + coconut

The Morning After

I also made…

  • Dijon Rice with Broccoli (EHH I added Tofurkey beer brats…delish!)
  • Crazy Good Hummus (P&TY)
  • Lots of green smoothies and arugula salad

This week and last week I’m eating out a ton between bday and farewell dinners + luncheons.  Its awesome and sad all at once…

Spending Savings

Wegmans: $28.13
Trader’s: $12.08
Total: $40.21 <– w00t!  :)

Eligible Spending: $28.13
Savings: $11.97 (43%)

*whew* and I’m back.  I’m also happy to report that my entire cart was fresh foods…except for the Tofurkey Beer Brats I got for $0.99.  Here’s to recommitting to my healthy lifestyle.  Also, since I didn’t have to buy as much as usual (see above note re: eating out), I was able to splurge on some things I wouldn’t normally get.  You’ll have to check my next Adventurous April post for that!

Company of the Week

Source

Man-oh-man am I excited to share this company with you.  I discovered their products on accident and have become obsessed.  I honestly love everything about this company, especially their Mission Statement:

We are a team of fair trade visionaries and food-loving explorers on a mission to connect you to our farmers and their honest foods. When you taste the sweet justice of our mission you will understand our persistence, and our invitation to join us in finding your Alter Eco.

Seriously, that makes me want to get up and dance.  Or run off into battle.  Same difference, right?  I love me a company that is 100% committed to animal, human, and environmental rights and activism.  Now onto the food!  Their 16 gourmet products come from small farmers all over the world and include things like sugar, rice, quinoa, and chocolate.  YUM. I’ve only had the quinoa but it is by far the best I’ve ever tried.  With some coupons I found on Common Kindness, I’ve been getting it for the same price as the Trader Joe’s version.  For all the reasons I mentioned, Alter Eco won.

Anyway, last week Chelsey reviewed some awesome products that Alter Eco sent her.  Now I’m not quite on the up-and-up as these longer-established folks so I hadn’t been contacted.  No biggie…I did what any good food blogger in desire of products does: e-mail the company and ask.  What a response I got…

Now this is their picture…my box is waiting in CT at Mom’s house for when I move home for the month.  You can bet a full review will take place once I get there.  For now though, I’ll have to be content drooling with my imagination.

Not you though.  No no, I wouldn’t tease like that.  <–at least not with food!  Tehe ;)  I know you’re salivating on your side of the screen.  Seriously, don’t try and deny it.  Wouldn’t you just love a gift basket like the one above?  Yea I thought so.  That’s why I e-mailed Alter Eco to see if they would sponsor a giveaway.  The box of goodies they sent me was just the icing on the cake.

If you’d like to win your own basket of Alter Eco heaven goodies, leave a comment below:

1. Which Alter Eco product would you like to try the most?

2. For extra entries do any of the following (you must leave a separate comment for each):

Contest ends Wednesday, April 26, 2012 and winner will be chosen randomly. Open to continental U.S. residents only.

That’s it for this week folks!  Don’t forget to check out my fellow P:FB bloggers!

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Disclaimer: AlterEco provided product for giveaway.  I am not affiliated with Alter Eco and all opinions expressed are my own.

Project: Food Budget, Week 28

Hi there!  My name is Kait and I’m the, once again, long-lost blogger here at y/b/l.  Its a pleasure!  ;)

For real…I’ve been a bad blogger (or bad bear as one of my friend quips).  At first I was feeling guilty about my lack of posts but then I realized that, right now, my focus is just slightly shifted to move number 1 (home to momma’s house in CT for 4-6 weeks).  I’m finishing up one job, trying to pack up (hahaha), focus on my biz, maintain a healthful and budget-friendly lifestyle, committing myself to my coaching program, and get in quality time with my loved ones around here.  *Whew*  So yes…this wonderful child of mine will be slightly on the back burner for a couple more weeks.  Thank for understanding!

Now that we’re reacquainted…

Weekly Menu

Featuring meals from the past several weeks!  :)

Spending Savings

Whole Foods: $26.45
Trader’s: $7.84
The Living Earth: $6.27
New Morning: $9.99

Total: $50.55

Eligible Spending: $36.44
Savings: $22.92 (63%)

Here I go again going over…and that doesn’t even include the additional $ I spent on food for Easter!  *sigh*  I’m past being down and out about going over but I do recognize the need to get my spending back in control.  Since I am moving in two weeks, my goal is to cook primarily from my pantry and only purchase fresh foods.  Here’s to creativity!

Steals and Deals

Ongoing deals are marked with an asterisk*. 

Whole Foods

Asparagus: $2.99/lb (save $1/lb)
Vine-Ripened Tomatoes: $2.99/lb (save $1/lb)
*Ataulfo/Champagne Mangoes: 5/$5 (save $0.99 each)
Raw Cashews (bulk): $9.49/lb (regular price)

*Food Should Taste Good Kettlecorn Tortilla Chips: 3/$7 (reg $3.19)
$1.00 FSTG coupon
Total Price = $1.33

New Morning <–a new natural & organic grocery store in Woodbury, CT!

Justin’s Nut Butter Packets: 2/$1

Yogi Tea: 2/$6
$1.00 Yogi Tea coupon (no longer available)
Total Price = $2.00

Nature’s Path EcoPacs: $5.99 (reg. $7.49)
$1.00 Nature’s Path coupon
Total Price = $4.99

Woodstock Organic Raw Walnuts (4.5 oz): $4.99
$1.00 Woodstock Coupon (no longer available)
Total Price: $3.99 <–in hindsight, not the best deal!

Trader Joe’s
These are everyday prices from the Shrewsbury, MA store.

Avocados (4-count): $3.49 = $0.87 ea
Organic Romaine Hearts: $2.99
Bob’s Red Mill Ground Flax: $2.69
Ground Cinnamon (my fave!) = $1.99
Alcohol-free Vanilla Extract (4oz) = $3.99

Check out my other budget friends!  We have all different budgets, eating styles, and family sizes so there is something for everyone.

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Out sick / uber brief P:FB

Between travelling, starting my coaching session, and the general transitional period I’m currently in, my body is taking a beating!  After my trip to Vegas, I was holding so much tension/stress/worry/overwhelm in my upper back that I could barely move my neck for days.  This time, I’ve been experiencing a whole lotta gastric distress (to use the clinical term).

Lessons learned. I need to focus more while travelling on eating my usual diet, even if it means going out of my way or spending more $.  I also need to ease back into eating clean if I haven’t for a while.  Trying to jump back into a 1 week Crazy/Sexy Cleanse after weeks of abusing my body with travel, inconsistent workouts, sugar, bits of dairy, and just not fresh foods was not ideal.  Got it body.  And I’m sorry I took you for granted.

My mantra the past two days has been: “I give myself permission to let go with ease.”  And yes, I mean this both figuratively and literally.  <–couldn’t resist!  ;)  I’ve been on mostly liquid foods diet with the addition of some soluble fiber (read: half a box of cereal) and some “gentle” fresh foods (green smoothie + apple with peanut butter).  I’ve been rocking supported bridge pose and various hip openers for minutes at a time.  They haven’t done a ton to resolve the issue but I can literally feel stuff (I shan’t say “shit” I shan’t say shit) moving around.  And, after much research, I went and bought myself some of this stuff.

That’s right folks…15 billion bacterial cultures, twice a day (per the recommendation of the health food store lady).  My real-life go-to guru for all things holistic, Sarah, suggested this brand and, luckily, my local health food store had it.  *whew*  I’ve taken two doses so far and am happy to report that I am, in fact, starting to *ahem* let go with ease.  In plainer terms, I can fit into jeans again, a feat which was not even close to possible yesterday when I looked at least four  months pregnant (I’m not at all) and couldn’t even squeeze into leggings!

As part of my let my body rest and heal and rejuvenate, you are getting a very quick P:FB post today.

Tip of the Week

Shop around!  Don’t go out of your way and waste excessive amounts of gas and and time and energy, but see if you can combine trips in a way that allows you to get the most stuff for your buck!  For example, this week we needed TP.  So I picked it up at Wegmans after doing the math out.  I wasn’t super happy with the $10 purchase but it was later on Sunday and I just wanted to get my goodies and go.  On the way home I stopped at CVS to pick up some new wrist braces and figured I’d check out their TP prices on a whim.  I ended up saving a close to $6 on TP just by taking those couple of minutes to walk across the store.  So if there are other places you pass en route to your “main” store, check their circulars.  If you pick up prescriptions at a pharmacy rather than your grocery store, check their prices while you are there.  If you purchase two of the same item, no worries…return the other (obviously this depends on your store’s return policy) and enjoy your savings!

Meal Plan

This, this (I used the whole sprout), this (basically the best mac & cheese ever), and this plus lots of green smoothies, tea, and cereal!

Spending Savings

Wegmans: $22.66
Trader’s: $15.42
CVS: $2.25

Total: $40.33 :)

I’m back in the game!  woot

Total Elgibile Spending: $24.91
Total Savings: $16.26 (65%)

That’s all for today folks…gotta get back to nourishing and healing my God Pod.

Yoga/beauty/healing/savings,

Kait xo

PS Give my fellow budgeteers some loving!

Foodie and Beauty Finds

I know…you are probably wondering where the heck the deep, thought-provoking posts went.  I promise they are coming back.  I’m on week 3 of my coaching program (also week 1 of the group part), visited Baltimore & Hopkins last weekend (!), and am trying to find my footing/balance as huge cosmic shifts rock my world.  So there is a lot of deep stuff here, lots of it, but its the fluffier things I feel called to share with you lately.  Perhaps its because all of my other writing has to deal with the fate of cancer patients…

Anyway, this week I will be re-capping my trip to Ballmore <–apparently how the locals say it, talking about life lessons from rocks, and filling you on my couponing adventures (this time shared with boy).  I’m hoping to catch you all up on physical + coaching stuff too but considering I’m in the process of packing up my life to bring home for Easter, that might not happen.  I know you understand.  :)

Let’s go…

Since entering the world of couponing my eyes have been opened to all the wonderful freebies and deals you can get.  Some weeks, you mail looks like this:

Ok the Partners in Passion is cheating but I do love when it comes every month!

And other times it means I get to try new products on the cheap or splurge on something I love without guilt because I’m saving so much money elsewhere.  Today I want to share with you some of the latest products that have entered my life in both the realm of food and health & beauty care (HBC). Some are definitely not new products but all are new to me!

Foodie Finds

Healthy Steps Portion Control Dressing Cruet

When I saw this at Wegmans I knew I had to have it.  1) I am a sucker for kitchen gadgets and 2) I saw it as another “make life easier once I’m a student” tool.  The cruet holds up to 1 c of salad dressing, has an emulsifier to aid in mixing, includes recipes printed onto the side of its body, and has a separate “one serving chamber” to help with portion control.  Pretty neat, right?!  I tried it immediately with Gena’s Outstanding Miso Sesame Dressing and was definitely pleased with the results.  I did discover that the container is not leak-proof and can only be shaken directly up-and-down (*insert inappropriate joke here*) but other than alittle spillage, it worked like a charm!  Even better?  I paid only $4.82 for it.

Let’s Do…Organic 100% Organic Reduced Fat Coconut (Unsweetened, shredded)

I’m usually wary of “reduced fat” anything (most companies add sugar and/or lab experiments to create more taste) and normally wouldn’t have even looked at this product…except, it was a better deal than the full fat bag (based on the unit price)!  So I decided to investigate further and discovered that the fat reduction is achieved by steam extraction.  Now I’m not 100% sure what this means exactly but the ingredient list was still simply, “Organic coconut” so I decided to go for it.  I, of course, used it the same night and found the taste to be the same.  I will definitely be sticking with this decision!

Ataulfo/Champagne/Yellow Mangoes

Full disclosure: these are so not new to me!  But they recently came into season and both Wegmans and WF have had them on sale (the former for only $1.25 ea).  The folks at Wegmans have even been kind enough to keep a box in the back for me.  ;)  I eat them straight but check out Ashley’s amazing salad dressing recipe or just look at her significantly better photos.

 

 

Abita 25th Anniversary Vanilla DoubleDog

This was a Valentine’s Day gift from the beau and we finally cracked the bottle last weekend.  It was outstanding.  If you like dark beers (think stouts + porters) with a little something extra, this is definitely a beer for you!  It had hints of both chocolate and vanilla, wasn’t too heavy, and went down smooth.  It was a perfect way to end a pretty perfect date night.  :)

 

 

California Olive Rance Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Ever since Amanda’s post on EVOO, I’ve been wary of store brands.  So when I ran out, I did what any couponer would do and consulted my coupon binder…only to find a $1 off this stuff.  I’ve never heard of the brand and, admittedly, only looked at the website so I could sound more knowledgeable for this post, but I was happy to see that the bottle contained no Italian flag (their olives are proudly grown in CA) but did have a harvest date.  For the price ($6.95 with a coupon), I couldn’t leave it there.  I haven’t actually used it to sautee anything yet so I can’t tell you much about the taste but in my mind, at least, it’s a step up!  Plus it is oh-so-slightly more local.

Winter Salad Mix (lettuce, claytonia mache, and taatsoi)

This is from the farm whose CSA I was supposed to be joining this summer.  Lucky for me, beau is still doing it and so he is getting early access to their for-sale produce that is coming in.  The three words you can’t pronounce above?  Those are winter greens.  As in, they were grown in the middle of winter…in Connecticut.  Ok so it was a mild winter…I know!  But still, how cool is it to know that with the right tools + committment, you can grow heart greens all year long…sans any chemicals whatsoaeva?  Yea that gets my gears going!

The taste is a little earthy and their texture, a mix of soft and sturdier.  All in all, it makes a great base for salads, especially ones involving raisins, walnuts, and Mama Pea’s Cinnamon Vinaigrette.  <–you need the book for that one!

Beauty Finds

Please ignore the mess in the background…

Those of you who know me know that I am not girly at all when it comes to beauty stuff.  I’m picky selective about my brands and read labels like its my job, but that’s it!  I recently added dry brushing to my routine so now it looks like this: dry brush + wash + moisturize + apply mineral foundation & mascara to face.  DONE.  My hair routine?  Rinse + brush daily, wash once every 4-5 days, smoothing gel + all natural (read: no lighter fluid included) mousse, and go.  Every now and then I’ll blow-dry.  That’s it.

All that being said, I’m indulging my inner girly girl here by sharing some of my newest beauty finds that I’m enjoying.  They fit my strict guidelines for ingredients (no parabens, SLS, triclosan, etc) and have provided wonderful results…at least for the ones I’ve tried!  tehe

Kiss My Face Chinese Botanical Ultra Moisturizer

The perfect balance of a light lotion + scent and a deep moisturizing.  My skin has never seen so much action!  ;)  Seriously this stuff is amazing.  A little goes a long way so it is totally worth the pricetag…especially considering I paid only $6.99 for the bottle (vs $11.99).  #win

 

 

 

Kiss My Face Triple Action Whitening Toothpaste with Natural Aloe Vera Gel

Ok so I also haven’t tried this yet and am having an internal struggle because it doesn’t contain fluoride.  I’m still undecided about the whole fluoride debate so I will definitely use it, probably alternating between that and Trader’s fluoronated one.  All that being said, I was super impressed to receive a full-sized bottle from entering their Fbook “Kissing Booth” back around Valentine’s Day and promise to report back once I use it!

Simple Vital Vitamin Day Cream with SPF 15

This new-to-the-States brand has swept the media + coupon world by storm.  The jury is still out since I’ve only used it a handful of times but so far, so good.  Initially it feels a little oily (considering I’ve been using non-SPF lotions for the past few months, this is expected) but it dries quickly and cleanly, leaving my skin feeling fresh + protected.  It smells the same as all face moisturizers with SPF – a little chemically.  And I don’t love the ingredients as their pronunciation is anything but “simple,” never mind super natural.  But I couldn’t beat the <$10 price.  And if that just made you choke on your lunch, I invite you to go check out the natural beauty section of your local Target/Walmart.  I’ll take $9 over the $18 I was paying for Burt’s Bees Radiance lotion!

Natural Boar Bristle Dry Brush

Oh my word what was I missing?!  If you’ve never dry-brushed the sooner you can get your hands on one of these, the better.  My skin has never been so soft and touchable.  Between this and the lotion…seriously, who cares about “hair action” when you can get skin action.  *sigh*  Dry brushing is another trend that has recently swept the blogging world.  I bought this brush + my first bottle of the Kiss My Face lotion as a congratulatory gift for my JHU acceptance and I haven’t put it down since!  I even tossed it in my carry-on to travel to Vegas.

Why dry brush?  Well it removes toxins from your largest organ (aka your skin), sloughs off dead skin along with said toxins, promotes circulation, battles cellulite, and stimulates your lymph + chi.  How much of that is scientifically proven?  I couldn’t tell you!  But I do know that I absolutely love the way my skin feels now that I’ve committed to a beauty regiment consisting of dry brush + all natural soap + all  natural moisturizer.  Beau does too but your totally didn’t hear it from me!  And yes, you can touch me the next time we’re together…promise.  ;)

For more info on dry-brushing including a how-to + benefits, click here.

Another thing I love about couponing is that I can use it get products for giveaways!  I have a steady little stream of random products building up that I plan on packaging up for some lucky winners so be sure to stay tuned for that.

Until next time…

Yoga/beauty/food,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 26

Welcome back to P:FB!  First congratulations to Raphael T for winning the Passion giveaway and to Molly Parr for wining the Crock-pot!  I used a random number generator to determine the winners.  I hope you ladies enjoy your products.  :)

Now, onward and upward.  After a 3-week hiatus I’m ready to talk groceries, budgeting, and couponing!  This week official marks the halfway point for the P:FB bloggers who started back in October.  <– wowza  and congrats to those I’ve learned so much from doing this project, from honing my couponing skills to being flexible with my budget as need be.

The latter lesson was especially relevant over the past few weeks.  So let’s talk about this a little more…aka prepare yourself for a longer post.  Scroll down if you just wanna see how I did!  I promise not to take it personally.  ;)

If you remember back on Mar 8, I had gone over hugely ($59!).  I ate a ridiculous amount of greens, gave the rest away (an entire box of that Olivia’s =/), and soothed my aching soul with the fact that I didn’t have to shop for the week I was in Vegas.  <– wrong!

Then I realized that I very well could be eating white rice + overcooked veggies for Convention so off to Trader’s I went (in a full panic…legit one of the girls who works there had to calm me down because I was in full blown panic attack mode =/).  I stocked up on $20 worth of essentials: trail mix, lara bars, wasabi peas, and apples.  Fun fact about peas: they are a protein-rich veggie with 4g per ½c serving!  Those along with my last few oranges, homemade banana bread, and flax almond butter meant I could survive regardless of what the food options were and without spending a ton of extra $ on breakfast!  Budgeting win!

As for eats in Vegas, feast your eyes!  Honestly, the Rio’s catering blew me away.  My Passion sisters shared their extra and/or unwanted veggies with me and I ate like a queen.

Roasted Veggie Stack – I had this 3x

Tofu Dish – I asked the waitress what it was because I was in shock and thought it might be fish!

Coconut Avocado Smoothie…and mostly me.  ;)

Dessert one.  I don’t know why its so tiny…

Dessert two.

So that brings us to March 15.  I get back from Vegas and meal plan and grocery plan and discover that I need Olive Oil…and lemon juice (I buy organic)…which leaves me about $25 (good EVOO + organic lemon juice will do that to your budget) for all my produce!  I ended up spending about $50 in all which isn’t too bad considering $15 of it was on those two items.  Of course I proceeded to spend much more while out eating ($60 one night and $15 the next) but that’s from the discretionary fund people!  :D  And I couldn’t say no to my last Worcester Restaurant Week, especially when it involved these beauties.

And that brings us to this week when my lesson on being flexible came in huge hand.   My list included the following:

  • Paper towels.
  • Face moisturizer
  • Dish soap
  • 5 spices: chili powder, granulated garlic powder, granulated onion powder, nutmeg (!), and cayenne pepper
  • Tampons
  • Ibruprofen

That’s basically $40 right there.  Plus I realized that since I would be travelling this upcoming weekend (as in I wrote this post partially on the commuter rail and partially at South Station and partially at Logan airport and partially in my friend’s living room in Baltimore) and it was the end of the month, I needed to go through my month-end coupons and see what was expiring, what I had match-ups for, what I needed to stock my pantry with, etc.

*whew*

So what did I decide to do?  Give myself a $100 budget for the week.  Sorry I should have made sure you were sitting before I dropped that bomb on you!  I know, it’s a huge increase.  So what gives?  Plain and simple, I didn’t want to feel guilty for missing my budget.  So I set it high and figured that if I hit it, fine.  I was prepared.  If I didn’t, even better.  Of course for those details you’ll have to keep reading!

Meal Plan

*Rather than planning specific meals for specific days, I cook in bulk once or twice a week and eat leftovers for both lunch and dinner.  I also eat gleefully devour a green smoothie every morning for breakfast.

Coconut Lentils with Raw Creamed Spinach

Kale Salad with Sesame Miso Dressing

Mac & Simple Cheese Sauce (EHH)

Bad news: I had other things planned but one night didn’t feel well…hence the mac & cheese…and otherwise just didn’t feel like cooking anything else.

Bad news 2: I didn’t really enjoy the Miso dressing.  The flavor just…wasn’t right for me.  I felt that it was a bit watery and didn’t really break down the kale leaves like Mama Pea’s recipes did.

Good news: The coconut lentils were outstanding…so was the simple cheese sauce.  In fact I was so busy spooning the latter to my mouth that I realize I had spilled it down the front of me.  Haha  But legit…grab yourself a can of coconut milk and make those lentils.  If you are cooking for one, I’d suggest halving the recipe or plan on sharing/freezing/eating it for a week.

Great news: I created my first official recipe this week! I wanted creamed spinach to go along with the coconut lentils but I didn’t want a cooked version since I feel best when I eat raw foods and am slowly but surely starting to believe that on average, they are best for us.  So I got to searching and I looked at a couple of recipes and shazam!  First timer’s luck or secret recipe-creating skills?  You decide!

Raw Indian Spiced Creamed Spinach (raw, vegan, gf)

Inspired by this and this.

4 c raw spinach (preferably organic)
¾-1 c nondairy milk (I used coconut to go with the theme)
1+ clove(s) garlic
1in+ ginger
¼ c chopped onion
2 tsp cumin
1tsp garam masala
½ -1 tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt
¼ c almonds (optional; see note)

Toss it all in your food processor and process away.  Adjust the garlic, ginger, and cayenne according to your tastes and proceed with caution.  Their flavors are more pronounced since this is a raw dish.  Also do not plan on kissing anyone for about three days after eating this. ;)

Note: Mine was super thin at first when I used the full cup of milk so I tossed in a big handful of raw almonds to thicken the mixture up. It not only worked wonders but added a bit of texture.  This step is totally up to you.

Spending Savings

Ed Hyder’s: $15.33
Target: $13.20
Trader Joe’s: $10.47
Wegmans: $37.14

Total: $76.14

I spent an additional $22.55 at WF but my wonderful momma came up to visit and was a coupon caper side-kick and covered that cost (plus our delish WF lunch) for me.  Still I would have stayed under my $100 budget.

Eligible Spending (sans WF): $50.34
Savings: $36.17 (72%)

Eligible Spending (with WF): $72.89
Savings: $103.44 (142%)

Yea, let’s go with those latter numbers instead!

Steals & Deals

Ongoing deals are starred.

Target

Honey Bunches of Oats Fruit Blends: $2.75 (sale price)
$1.00 Post coupon

Total Price: $1.75

Simple Facial Moisturizer: $10.44 (sale price)
$1.00 Simple coupon (no longer available)
Total Price: $9.44

Snack Factory Pretzel Thins: $1.99
$1.00 Snack Factory coupon (no longer available)
Total Price: $0.99

2x Up&Up Ibruprofen: $0.97ea = $1.94
$1.00/2 Target coupon (received at register)
Total Price: $1.00 wyb2 = $0.50 ea

Wegmans

 *Cleaned & Cut Kale Greens (16oz): $2.99
$1.00 Wegmans coupon
Total Price: $1.99

*Cleaned & Cut Baby Corn: $2.50
$1.00 Wegmans coupon

Total Price: $1.50

So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk: $3.29
$0.55 So Delicious Coupon

$1.00/$3.00 Nature’s Marketplace Wegmans couponTotal Price; $1.19 = $2.38/gal

Let’s Do Organic Reduced Fat Unsweetened Shredded Coconut: $2.99
$1.00/$3+ Nature’s Marketplace Wegmans coupon
Total Price: $1.99

 *Dagoba Chocolate Bar: $2.49
$0.50 Dagoba cpn, Spring Healthy Livings Magazine
Total Price: $1.49 ßnot the best deal but it was calling to me!

 *OB Tampons (40ct): $5.99 (sale price)
$0.75 OB coupon

$1.00/$5+ HBC Wegmans coupon
Total Price: $3.49 or just 8 cents/tampon!

*Neturogena Blemish Cream: $5.49
$1.50 Neutrogena coupon, SS 01/08/12 #2
$1.00/$5 HBC Wegmans coupon
Total Price = $2.99

*Marcal Small Steps Paper Towles (8ct): $6.99
$1.00 Marcal cpn, RP 03/11/12
$1.00/$5+ Paper Wegmans coupon
Total price: $4.99 = $0.62/roll

*Earth Friendly Dish Soap: $2.99 (sale price)
$2.00 Earth Friendly Recyclebank Coupon

Total Price: $0.99

Whole Foods

*365 Organic Lentils: $2.39
$1.00 Jan/Feb Whole Deal coupon
Total Price: $1.39/lb

Udi’s Original Granola: $5.99
Free Udi’s Product coupon (from Christmas thing on Fbook)
Total Price: FREE!

Nature’s Path Granola Bars: $3.00 (save $1.69)
$1.50/2 Mar/Apr Whole Deal coupon

$2.00 Nature’s Path coupon (from my yoga studio)
Total Price: $0.25 each!

*Method Dish Soap $4.69
$1.00 Mar/Apr Whole Deal coupon
$1.00 Method coupon, SS 01/08/12
Total Price = $2.69

Kiss my Face Moisture Soap (16oz): $8.99 (save $3)
$2.00 Kiss My Face coupon (no longer available)
Total Price $6.99

Update: I was a bit over exhausted when I posted this and forgot to forward you to my LOVELY fellow P:FB-ers .  Go share the y/b/l love with em!

 

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 23

I’m freestyling again this week…just roll with it.  :)

Weekly Menu

A Menagerie of Food Photos and Recipes from the Past Two Weeks

 

Five Spice Asian Salad

Tuscan Salad

For the salad:
2 bunches Tuscan kale, de-stemmed, washed, and chopped
6 carrots, diced
1/2 package Alfalfa Sprouts
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch roasted asparagus

For the dressing (adapted from HH’s Italian Dressing)
1:1 ratio vinegar of choice + oil of choice (I used Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar + Wegman’s Basting Oil)
Small squirt of dijon mustard
A couple dashes of Italian Seasoning
1 dash each: onion and garlic powder
Honey or agave to taste

Whisk dressing ingredients together and adjust seasonings to taste.  Pour dressing over and massage into kale.  Mix in carrots, sprouts, salt & pepper.  Plate and top with kidney beans + asparagus.  Enjoy!

Magic Kale Salad

I omitted the apples + pistachio and tossed in a diced green pepper + five chopped scallions.  I topped it with sunflower seeds one day and quinoa + kidney beans on another.

Sunshine Salad

I added in chopped red pepper + black olives.

Most Epic Cereal Bowl (Janetha and Amanda - this one’s for you!)

1 c Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise
1/2 c Nature’s Path Hemp Plus Granola

Toppings as desired:
Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
Raw Almonds
Frozen Wild Blueberries
Golden Raisins
Coconut Milk <–my new obsession

Continue reading

Looking Forward: Kitchen Edition

Source

In case you haven’t heard, I’m moving to Baltimore in less than 4 months.

I’m all sorts of excited and terrified.  It means I will quit my job (which I’ve outgrown), leave my current apartment (my first…and you always will have fond memories of your first, right?! ;) ), move away from my family, and go back to school.  It also means I get to move closer to other friends and have the opportunity to experiment with a whole host of new thing.  Shockingly, many of these experiments will occur in the kitchen.

Since I love making lists (I pretend like they actually help me get stuff done) here, presented in no particular order, are the Top 10 hings I’m Looking Forward to Experimenting with in My Baltimore Kitchen:

  1. Crock Pot cooking.  This is a skill I will need to develop but cannot wait to try recipes like this and this.
  2. Non-stick cookware.  I love using stainless steel now that I’ve learned how but it does take longer to clean.  Since saving time will likely be of the utmost importance, being able to wash and go will be a beautiful thing.  I intend on investing in these.
  3. Using a rice cooker.  Another make-my-life-easier appliance.
  4. Using my George Foreman again.  There will be many a summer dinners of “grilled” veggies + tofu on top of salads.  Its easier + faster than turning on the stove.
  5. Not having to share my kitchen.
  6. Having newer appliances…including an oven that doesn’t take 20 minutes to boil water or run 15-30 degrees under.
  7. Shopping at a year-round farmer’s markets.
  8. Shopping at Costco.  There is one right on the outskirts of Baltimore (er…it looks like the outskirts to me!).  Nature’s Path cereal, MaraNatha almond butter, Alexia frozen fries, 13 lb bags of baking soda, bottles of spices (and pure vanilla extract), bananas and nuts galore!
  9. Shopping at Glut.  Not technically in Baltimore, this amazing, fantastic, food-gasmic, life-changing co-op is high on my list of places to visit again and again.  Bulk everything including liquids + carob-covered amazingness + non-sulphered dried fruits at reasonable prices.  Because its a bit of a drive, I’ll probably do a stock-up monthly.
  10. Exploring all of the awesome sauce veg and veg-friendly restaurants and cafes.  Look at this list of places within 5 miles of JHSPH.  *sigh*

I want to address the likely question of why I cannot use the items listed in numbers 1-4.  Depending on how much you’ve creeped this site, you may know that I share living space with this little menace.

Kaybird!

So the short answer to the question is because of Kaybird.  The long answer is this.  The chemicals released when non-stick coating is heated include some nasty buggers called PFTE and PFOA.  The safety of inhaling these in humans is currently being explored by the EPA.  While I don’t exactly entrust my safety to government agencies (see here) and nothing may come of it, the fact that they are examining it says something.

Nevertheless, it has long been known that inhalation of these chemicals by birds is fatal. While the jury is still out on the coating in rice cookers and crock pots, my roommate prefers that any and all non-stick coating be avoided.  Since I am in love with Kaybird (you thought I was going to say my roomie for a minute there, weren’t you?  creep.  ;) tehehe), I’ve learned to cook with stainless steel and live without the other appliances.  This is fine but let me tell you…I really can’t wait to get perfect rice and meals that cook overnight or while I’m in class etc.

For more information on non-stick cookware, click here.

#6 is, of course, dependent on where I end up living but let’s just say, for now, that it looks promising.  :)  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I’m also eager to see how I’ll do sticking to a food budget. I apparently thrive on challenge!  Who knows….maybe I’ll end up teaching my fellow grad students a thing or two about saving $ while eating green.  I’d actually love that very much.  Caring is sharing, right?

Over the next couple of months I’ll be updating more about my move to Baltimore, my bucket list of experiences to have before leaving, etc.  I’m so excited to still be on an adrenaline rush to be walking with you into this next stage of my life!  I’ve already contacted other HLB members and made connections with friends and friends-of-friends in the area.  I’m heading down for the JHSPH Open House at the end of March and hopefully will find an apartment then.  I’m in get-it-done mode which is good for the move but not-so-good for current stuff (like, ya know, work and working out and all those other things that are important currently).  Don’t worry…you can expect to hear all about it!

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 22

Alright then…ya’ll ready?

Yiipeeeee!

Tip of the Week

Make your own salad dressings.  Go crazy…be creative.  Try new crazy combinations that might not work.  Tweak them until they work.  And then brag about them to everyone you know, including your blog followers.  Seriously…just keep reading!

This is a bit short this week for two reasons.  One, this week I met my new obsession: Downton Abbey.  If you’ve not seen this show, avoid it at all costs or else you will become severely addicted.  You’ve been warned!  You may also start talking to yourself in a British accent.  Again, I warned you!  And yes, it is available on Netflix.

Two, I also received oodles of AWESOME sauce amazing news this week that I can’t wait to share with you all!  Let’s just between these two things I got a bit distracted.  We’re all human, right?

Weekly Menu

*Rather than planning specific meals for specific days, I cook in bulk once or twice a week and eat leftovers for both lunch and dinner.  I also eat gleefully devour a green smoothie every morning for breakfast.
*Test recipes for the third Happy Herbivore cookbook are denoted with a * and can include neither a name nor a detailed description.

Another international food week.

I made the best salad this week!  It was Asian inspired because the tofu recipe I tested is Thai and had arugula, arugula & dill sprouts, and green onion plus the most amazing dressing: sesame oil, soy sauce, Sriracha sauce, and Chinese 5 Spice.  <–I promise to post about this soon too since it was completely unknown to me until the first Happy Herbivore cookbook.  Plus s&p to taste, of course.  Amazeballs.

I also had a Mexican-ish one with red leaf, red pepper, carrots, and jicama plus a dressing made of tahini, lime juice, hot sauce, chipotle powder, and s&p to taste.

Spending Savings

*My budget is $40/wk for groceries, household, and H&BC items, with the latter two categories ideally only costing $10 combined.

Whole Foods: $28.72
Trader Joe’s: $13.95

Total: $42.67

I’m also giving this week a giant :D!  I actually ended up having way too much food which is delightful since I have to buy a ton of bath and body stuff and pantry staples (onions, spices, fresh ginger, etc) next week.  I’m honestly in awe of how much food is in my fridge right now!

Eligible Spending: $28.72
Savings: $32.98 (115%)

Steals and Deals

Whole Foods

Olivia’s Organics Baby Arugula (5 oz): $2.99
save 25% (WF sale)
and $1.00 Olivia’s Organics coupon  <–save to your computer and print as often as you’d like!  There’s not even an exp date/
Total Price=$1.99 = $0.40/oz

2 Blue Diamond Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (32oz): $2.19
$1.00/2 Whole Foods Coupon, Jan/Feb Whole Deal
$1.00/2 Almond Breeze coupon (no longer available)
Total Price = $2.38 wyb2 = $4.76/gal

Pacific Hazelnut and 7 Grain Milk (32oz): $2/4 (sale price)
$1.00 Pacific Naturals coupon
Total Price = $1.00 = $4.00/gal

DeLallo Organic WW Pasta: $2/4 (sale price)
$1.00 DeLallo coupon (no longer available)
Total Price  = $1.00

Nature’s Path Hemp Granola (26.4 oz): $7.99 and Mesa Sunrise (26.4 oz): $6.99
$1.50/2 Whole Foods Coupon , Jan/Feb Whole Deal
2 $5.00 Munch Money
Total Price = $1.74 each = $0.07/oz! 

I used my remaining two Munch Monies to pick up a box of Heritage Flakes cereals ($4.99) and a box of Pumpkin Spice granola bars ($4.49).  I left the remainder of my coupons (about seven) on and under boxes of cereal and granola bars.  I am hoping they made someone’s day!

Trader Joes’s

*These are everyday prices from the Shrewsbury, MA store.

Bananas: $0.19/piece
Organic Celery Hearts: $2.29
Organic Romaine Hearts: $2.79
Frozen Peas (16oz): $1.29
Frozen Mango (20oz): $2.69
Pitted Olives: $1.49
Baking Soda: $0.99 <–not the best price but with no Wegmans trip, I needed it!

No company this week…its been about 3 hours since I last watched Downton and I’m having withdrawals.

Despite that, I do plan on checking out all of the other P:FB lovelies.  We’ve added several new bloggers in recent weeks and regardless of your family’s size or eating habits, I have no doubt there is one who will resonate with you!