Project: Food Budget – This is It!

Holy crap…this is my last P:FB post.  😥  I’m actually really sad this project is over since I’ve had a blast, met some great friends, and learned a ton.  I hope these weekly posts have been useful for you!  Thanks to everyone who has commented and offered support and feedback.   🙂

Anyway, Emily asked that we go a little rogue this week and do a bit of reflecting on our participation in this project.  So here goes…

I’ve always considered myself a good budget-er.  That is what happens when, for better or worse, you become financially independent at 16 and are responsible for every dime you spend (car insurance included).  However, when I graduated college and was working full time both at UMass and Passion Parties (that would be 6-8 parties/month), I experienced wealth like never before.  Now, this is relative wealth since what I was making, combined, most people would scoff at.  Fact of the matter is, I was making more money than ever and I could spend it how I chose.  I was frugal about saving because I planned on going to medical school and am extremely grateful because it saved me from taking out a very very large sum of additional loans.

But somewhere along the way, I let budgeting slide.  Probably because, for the first time in my life I didn’t have to watch every single dollar and cent. <–I can still remember hand writing a weekly budget every week during high school. I didn’t have to budget so why should I?  The short answer is that I first became a foodie…and then a couponer…and then a grad student.  The longer answer is that just because I have the money to spend doesn’t mean I should spend it carelessly.  If there is an opportunity to save, I should take it.  Not because I’m living in a state of lack but rather because being frugal is just plain smart.  <–And I’d prefer to save my money for a vitamix.  *sigh*

P:FB came into my life at the perfect time when I saw my food spending getting out of control ($80-$100/week was the norm for just me) and one of my good friends had just introduced me to healthy couponing.  Like most things, I went a little overboard with the couponing at first but I’ve now found a good balance…I spend one morning a week (usually Saturday since that’s when the sales flyers come out) meal planning and couponing.  Does that mean I miss stuff?  Absolutely.  But it also means I stay a bit saner.  And, you know, there’s all my grad school stuff!

As I’ve taken this journey I’ve learned a few things about myself and my habits.

  • I effing love a good sale.  And its really hard to turn one down even if I technically-sort-of-really don’t need it.
  • I have no qualms about pulling from my monthly “fun fund” to buy a new ingredient.
  • Some weeks you just have to put your budget aside.  <–more so when this budgeting thing was just for fun!
  • Some weeks you have to pay the cheaper total price rather than the best unit price to stay on budget.  😦
  • I’m really good at massaging numbers to make myself feel better.  <–note to self: I am not defined by a $ amount!
  • Couponing is really fun…and can be time-consuming…but mostly its a great intellectual challenge.
  • There’s nothing quite like the high you get from a big haul!  <–especially if you haven’t eaten/drank too much caffeine
  • Group accountability counts for something.  I knew I had to post every week and I didn’t want to let myself or anyone else down.
  • I really love taking photos of food.  I’m not that good at it but man is it fun.  🙂
  • I’m glad I had a chance to “play around” with this before being put into a situation where I had no choice.
  • Going off of that, I feel blessed that this budget is not a be-all-end-all for me.  Even if I do go over, I can usually make the difference up with one Passion Party or, if worse comes to worse, can borrow money from someone.  Not everyone on  budget can say the same.

Given that I’ve had such a great time with this project, I do plan on continuing to do it.  I have to live on a budget now so it just makes sense.  That being said, I’ll be switching my food budget posts to Mondays.  This way, I can write up the posts while the food is cooking AND you can get to WF before the sales end.  🙂

OK so onto this week’s meal plan…

Weekly Menu

*Starred recipes are test recipes for the forthcoming Happy Herbivore cookbook.

After some excessive spending two weeks ago, I decided to use up pantry items this week and I based my meal plan on that + what was on sale/I had coupons for.  I must say, I’m pretty impressed given most of this stuff I just had lying around!  Including the spinach which I had gotten for free with a Cascadian farms coupon.  *woot*

Sunday Night Sushi Feast: avo, cucumber, and asparagus roles, seaweed salad, and homemade roasted edamame.

Mexican Salad with arugula,black beans, olives, red pepper, pineapple salsa, and hot sauce

*Loaded Baked Potato 1 – seriously you can’t even see the potato!

Sauteed Spinach with Silken Tofu and Red Rice

*Kale with black beans and vegan ricotta ^perhaps my favorite picture ever.  *note to self* photograph on the concrete again

Loaded Potato, take 2*
The most amazing chili* in the world
Lots of Cascadian Farms granola

Spending Savings

Farm stand: $6.50
Whole Foods: $20.07
Trader Joe’s: $5.65
Glut Co-Op: $11.00

Total: $43.22 🙂

Total Saved: $10.48 (~25%)

I’m really super impressed by this week considering the only place I used coupons was WF!  And everything I bought at Glut was really nto necessary (lots of nuts, tofu ricotta that was only $2.00, awesome crackers for the same price…you get the picture).

That’s it folks because its midterms and my big brother is visiting tomorrow so I need to tidy this place up a bit.

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

 

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Mini Food Fest

aka all the photos I haven’t been including in my P:FB posts.

Parmesan Celery Salad

Zucchini Tagliatelle with grape tomatoes and vegan parm <–totally a lunchbox photo

Corn soup* with broiled tofu

Chili*

Raw Zucchini Pasta and Almond Pesto <–I used vegan parm for this and it was way too salty as a result.  It also wouldn’t thin out probably because of whatever binders are in the fake cheese.  I reused this though…be on the lookout for it.  🙂  Oh and it goes without saying but be careful with the raw garlic!

Polenta Pizza with salad <–I skipped the cheese completely in this and it came out amazing.  Seriously, try this asap.

A closer look at a very clean-out-the-fridge salad with arugula and leftover spaghettie squash, white beans, and chickpeas.  I topped it all with Mama Pea’s magical dressing.  🙂

Mexican Salad (inspired by Chelsea).  I added raw garlic, cayenne, a splash of EVOO, and liquid smoke plus a little extra water to the sauce to thin it out.  And obviously used black beans and nooch instead of veggies.  I also ate this for dinner two nights in a row because it was so damn good.

Pumpkin Oats…oh yes, it has happened.  I opened my first can of pumpkin.  *dances*

Yoga/beauty/yum,

Kait xo

A Saturday of Food

DC VegFest was this weekend.

I happened to be visiting my friend in DC.  <–see I was totally meant to be a plant-strong foodie.

I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed.  No free parking (no cheap parking either..the $20 lot was the cheap one) like in Boston.  Fewer take-home food vendors, more restaurants (and non-profits).  Different companies, including more processed foods than ever and fewer whole foods vendors (and dessert vendors…I was definitely missing Emmy’s and Theo like WHOA).  I expected differences but to be honest I wasn’t impressed with some of the fill-ins.  Oh well.

It also didn’t help that the weather decided to be almost summer-ly and I had only brought black jeggings with me.

Oh well…at least I looked cute while having my first ever coconut experience.

I ❤ my “Ask me why I’m a vegetarian” shirt.

This was by far my favorite part of the fest.  Or maybe my 2nd…but since the triple chocolate donut I savored (and for reals…it took me an hour to eat it because I just wanted to enjoy every glorious bite) didn’t get photographed, we’ll go with the coconut.  <–plus I got to ask the girl I was buying said donut from if she would “hold my coconut.”  Tehehehe  Seriously though, you need to go get a coconut (and a machete) and try this.  The machete is so you can open it with a super-cool swish/swish!

I also got some pretty decent swag:

Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the first 1,000 to arrive (see aforementioned note re: parking) but the bag + swag only cost $5.  <–also a tax write-off since it’s supporting a non-profit. #win  What you don’t see are the coupons…there’s a decent amount of them, including enough Earth Balance ones to replenish my stash which is expiring at the end of this month.  That totally counts as another #win.

After the Fest + some bonding time with my bestie (who I was visiting), I headed off to the happiest place on (my) earth: the Glut Food Co-op.  This place is like my heaven…its filled with just about every bulk item you can want, including liquid bulk items like tahini, tamari, and maple syrup.  The prices are ridiculously affordable…$3.52/lb for tahini, <$10/lb for raw organic nuts, etc.  And you don’t have to be a member to shop there or get the discounts.  Its owned by the people, for the people.  And it is simply amazing.

I had pictures of the liquid bulk items to insert here but I accidentally deleted them…think the giant things you usually see lemonade in…except rectangular in shape…and filled with deliciousness.  <–you get what I’m saying, right?  😉

Nom/nom/nom,

Kait xo

Oh Happy (Sun)day

I woke up in a homesick funk this Sunday. I hosted an amazing dinner party the night before but couldn’t shake feeling lonely and melancholy. It took a couple of hours to get myself up and out to go grocery shopping <–see what I mean about the melancholy? When do I NOT want to go grocery shopping?! but when I finally did, the Universe sent so many wonderful things my way.

See?

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Bright green ice cream bus.  <–bus > truck IMO

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A sale on my favorite chocolate!

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Free ice cream coupon…all because I asked why there was a bright green ice cream bus from Cali in a MD grocery store parking lot. 🙂

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Giant box of baking soda for less than $3. #win

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A big old reminder from the Universe that was waiting for me at…wait for it…a Mediterranean Festival I stumbled upon while driving to Wegmans. I wish I could have captured the smells and shared them with you. Alas, you’ll just have to take my word that it was amazing. There was even group dancing…it was perfect. 🙂

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Who can you call at 2am?

I am a huge fan of Danielle Laporte.

I lover her passion, her sauciness, and her style.  She inspires me all the time and most likely inspires some of you (if we’re facebook friends and you stop by for a little dose of love).

One of her e-mails this week had a super fun little survey in it so I decided to share here.  It was also great to think about and left me smiling at all the love I am blessed to have in my life.

: Who’s the first person you’d call if you landed the job, won the award, found out you were preggers, got the news that you qualified? MOM
: Who would you bring if you got five front row seats to see your favourite rock star? My “roomies” IN THE VILLA (you know who you are).
: Who’s your “In Case of Emergency” contact? My brother
: Who could write your obituary? Katrina
: Who knows how you take your coffee or could order for you at a restaurant? The beau
: Who’ll drive you there–and back? I’m lucky to say most of my friends…especially the beau, Katrina, & Bri.
: Who’s seen you do the Ugly Cry?  Kathleen, Katrina, Bri, the beau, my mom, and my yoga teachers (Sarah, Jen, & Joanna)
: Where can you show up without calling?  Suite 420 (Varsh, TJ, Banana, and Vrinda)

Who can you call at 2 a.m.? SO MANY PEOPLE.  ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

What about you?

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, the real Week 50

Ok this week its week 50. Sorry about that. 😉

Weekly Menu

*Recipes from the upcoming 4th Happy Herbivore cookbook are denoted with a *.

Raw Zucchini Almond Pesto

Soup*

Sweet Potato, Red Pepper, and Coconut Milk soup

Quinoa, Pumpkin Seed, and Tahini Salad

Spending Savings

Co-op: $20.16
Farm Stand: $8.00
Wegmans: $23.02
Whole Foods: $12.00
Ecomom.com: $20.95

Total: $84.13

Another high week but I had an awesome Passion Party Saturday night so I let this slide. Plus I picked up a lot of necessities and got a ton of great deals that will last me a while. *woot*

Total Savings: $33.62 (40%)

what what!

Steals & Deals

Ecomom

I hate weeks where I need to buy face products. I use expensive products and they last a while but when I do need to buy them its always a bit painful. Luckily, I checked my coupon sites before heading out today and got 2 for 1 moisturizer. Let me explain.

Plum District (PD) currently has a voucher for $15 for $30 of products at Ecomom.com. PD is like Groupon for mom but they tend to have vouchers for websites that have mom-and-kid-stuff plus everyone-else-stuff. Websites like Ecomom where my moisturizer is the same price as at Target ($14.99) but where I don’t have to pay tax and where I can pay for one (by purchasing the voucher) but order two. #win

Baltimore Food Co-Op

Organic Zucchini: $1.00 each
Cucumbers: $0.50 ea
Nutritional Yeast: $7.69 for 8 oz <;–vitacost has been out 😦

Wegmans

Organic Carrots, 2lb bag: $1.69
Hydroponic Basil: $2.99 ea <;–here's to round 2 growing my own basil!
Organic Lite Coconut Milk: $1.99

Paper Towel 12 pack : $12.99
-$4.00 Wegmans cpn from random mailer
=$8.99 = $0.45 ea <;–12 big rolls = 20 regular ones

And my favorite deal:

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Whole Foods

Arrowhead Mills Cereal: 2/$7 (sale price)
-$1.00 Whole Foods cpn
-$1.00 Arrowhead Mills cpn
= $1.50

Jason Shampoo: $7.99
-$3.00 Whole Foods cpn
-$4.00 Jason cpn <;–from toothpaste box
=$0.99

Cliff Kit Bars: $1.49 ea
-B1G1 Free cpn
=$1.49/2 = $0.75 ea

Earthbound Farms Romaine Hearts: $2.79
-$0.75 EB Farms cpn
=$2.04

Earthbound Farms Bagged Salads: $1.99
-$0.75 EB Farms cpn
=$1.24

That it folks!

Until next time…

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Weekend Fun

 

It was a pretty perfect weekend…girl talk, life chats, rooftop adventures (and subsequent bruises), sleep overs, an entire day devoted to food (planning/shopping/cooking *sigh*), and a fantastic Passion Party.

As a side note…I absolutely love having WordPress on my phone so I can tap and go.  🙂

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Getting ready aka my sexy date for the night. 😉

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Blurry ballroom dance lessons, take 1.

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Take 2…even blurrier.

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Varsha always wanted to sing on a piano…Robbie just made that dream come true.

Piano playing.

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Rooftop + Washington Monument, take 1.

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..and without the crazy iPhone flash.

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Homemade fruit-and-nut sorbet. I ❤ my unofficial roommates. 🙂

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Battle wounds.

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One of my favorite places in Bmore – the bulk food room at the Co-op. #foodie

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Farmstand in Hunt Valley – another one of my favorite secret spots. 🙂

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I ❤ winter squash…especially at $0.80/lb. <–yes a victory dance resulted.

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Baby pumpkins!

Yoga/beauty/joy,

Kait xo

An Open Letter to Dairy

Dear Dairy,

The time has come: we’re through.  I know what you’re thinking…”oh this won’t last very long, just like every other time.”  But you’re wrong.  You see, last weekend was the deal breaker for me.  I can’t do it anymore, living this double life where I love and hate you, because at the end of the day you just don’t love me back.

And so, I’ll say it again, we’re through.

You and your damn hormones hurt me in so many ways.  You bloat, constipate, and inflame me.  Both literally and figuratively.  You leave my body feeling drained of energy as it works to rid itself of you and yours, despite lacking the proper machinery.

Fact of the matter is, I just can’t excuse your mistreatment of me anymore.

You see, my body is a temple.  Its beautiful and strong.  But when I let you pass my lips, oh how it hurts.  My brain rejoices, as you zing along all those little feel-good pathways, but the rest of me?  It dies a little.  Within minutes I’m congested; for days after I can barely climb a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing because my airways are so full of your mucus they don’t work properly.  Come a week, I can see the effects on my skin (yes pimples, I’m breaking up with you too).

So everyone won’t understand.  I know you will bring up others’ opinions when you come wheedling back into my life (which assuredly you will given our culture).  But they don’t have to live it.  There’s no pill I can take for freedom to breathe and to be.  So I will politely decline.  I will ask for now cheese.  I will get the crappy salad (oh how that pains me so!).  I will do what I need to do to be rid of your grip.

Because, at the end of the day, you just aren’t worth it.

And because my temple, you see she deserves so much more than you can give her.  She deserves the respect of me eating to please her, and the lightness, the glow that comes along with it.  She deserves to be treated like the treasure she truly is.  At the end of the day, I’ve got her and she’s got me and that’s all there is.

So yes, this is it.  We are through.

So long dairy.  Goodbye cheese.  I hope we never meet again.

The victim of your unrequited love,

Kait

Project: Food Budget, Week 49

Holy crap we’re on week 50 49!  That means only two three official weeks to go.

Not that I’ll stop budgeting or meal planning or couponing.  So my question is: do you guys want me to keep going with P:FB-like posts?  Let me know.  😉

Weeks 48 and 49 47 and 48 were a bit *ahem* hectic.  The former was finals week and the latter was my break so I was home, spending far too much $ eating out and visiting friends and generally enjoying life.  I’m guessing that I was on-budget for the month of August, at least with my food budget, if not with my extraneous spending.  <–trying not to think about that!

Meal Plan

*Starred items are test recipes for the 4th Happy Herbivore cookbook.

Chili*
Corn Soup*
Parmesan Celery Salad  <–new favorite blog!  Thanks Emily!  And seriously everyone make this.  And yes, I used faux cheese.
Avocado Pasta with Zucchini Tagliatelle

Spending Savings

Wegmans: $38.03
Whole Foods: $33.72

Total: $71.75

Between an empty fridge, some deals that were too good to pass up, and the need for probiotics to help me recover from this weekend’s exploits ($16 on sale), it was a pricey week!

Total Saved: $19.76 (28%)

Steals & Deals

Wegmans
*Coupons up to $0.99 are doubled

2lb bag lemons: $3.49
Bananas: $0.49/lb
Organic Celery: $2.69
Salsa: $1.99

Barbara’s Shredded Wheat (29oz): $5.99
$1.00 Barbara’s cpn
=$4.99 = $0.17/oz = $2.72/lb

Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats (24oz): $3.79
-$0.75 Bob’s Red Mill cpn
=$2.29 = $1.53/lb

Cascadian Farms Frozen Spinach: $1.42
-$0.75 Cascadian Farms cpn
=FREE!

Silk Almond Milk (1/2 gal): $2.99
-$0.55 Silk cpn (here’s a $1.00 one)
=$1.89 = $3.78/gal

Whole Foods

Earthbound Organics Power Greens (16oz): $3.99 (sale price)
-$0.75 EB Farm cpn
=$3.42/lb

Olivia’s Organic Spinach (16oz)
-$1.00 Olivia’s Organics cpn
=$1.99/lb

That’s it loves.  Don’t forget to let me know if you want me to continue doing food budget posts once the project ends!

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

The Difference Some Months Make

I hope you all had a wonderful Labour Day weekend!    My weekend was wonderful…lots of Zumba, a girls night with momma, catching up with my former internship supervisor, and then a trip to NYC to celebrate the beau’s 24th.  Oh and lots of cuddling with this cutie in between.  By the time you read this, I’ll be back in class, gearing up for first term.

All in all my break was pretty darn good.  A part of me wished I could be in Bmore, exploring the city with my classmates but I definitely needed to come home (and not only because my car emissions were due!).  Between the shopping, the catching up, and the eating out, I kept fairly busy.  I also had a lot of space to think, reflect, refocus, and recenter (more on that below).  And, of course, I took a whirlwind trip up to the Worcester area and crammed an entire two years worth of life experiences into one day.  It may have been the best day ever.

Clockwise from upper left: Community Harvest Project where I volunteered last summer, new haircut from my MA stylist, ironic book display in B&N while waiting to grab dinner with the girls, and Kaybird!  Not pictured: visit with my friend and her babies, my amazing Chipotle bowl, my visit to UMass, and MYoga

Now about that “space” I mentioned above…

When I quit my job back at the end of April, I determined it was the single best decision I had ever made.  I proceeded to spend six weeks doing a whole lot of nothing.  For the entirety of May and half of June, I slept late, rarely dressed (except to change from pjs to workout clothes…and back again), and travelled around visiting people.  Most days, I sat on the computer reading blogs, watching Netflix, and checking Facebook/email/etc far too often.

And I loved practically every second of it.

I am so grateful I made the decision to take that time for me because I needed to decompress after working at UMass.  My visit there last week confirmed that for me like never before.  Immediately upon walking into the building, my body got tight and I felt stressed.  A torrent of emotions rushed my body: guilt, resentment, anger, regret, and even a little bit of hope.  All have their place and all are rightly associated with the hospital yet they are not what I want to be feeling daily.  Again I was reminded: you made the right decision.

Yet, while that lifestyle served me at the time, it clearly is not meant to serve me all the time.  I much of last week following a similar schedule to that of May and June, except by Friday, I was ready to be done.  More than anything, I was itching to cook again, to create.  I wanted to get back into a routine, a schedule that didn’t involve hours of TV, lots of snacking, and sleeping all day.

WHAT??

The very same experience that mere months ago fed my soul and rejuvenated my body had become a source of stress itself.  Maybe its because I’m used to a routine and its one that I enjoy.  Maybe I just like feeling accomplished at the end of the day.  Maybe I’ve grown mroe than I realized.  Whatever the cause, I was itching to return to life in Baltimore…to the crazy (ironically I just missed the ‘z’ there and was sorely tempted to write “cray cray” instead…I figured I’d spare you), to the busy, to the life of a grad student.

I miss my friends…I miss the hustle and bustle of the city…and I miss having a purpose and a goal for each day.  Hell, I even miss having things to do!  Who would have thought it?  Certainly not me.

The times they are a changin’, right?

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo