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Posted on Jun 22, 2011 in Food, Weight Loss 101 | 39 comments

Weight Loss 101: Eat Real Food, Not Your Savings

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So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about eating healthy and finances. As in, how do you eat REAL food without going REALLY broke? And then yesterday Ali tweeted at me that she had similar concerns: How do you eat healthy without going bankrupt at the grocery store? Which obviously got me thinking about it even more. I’ll be the first to admit (and I’m sure that my sister will be the second, haha!) that I am not exactly the most frugally minded person. Sure, I can appreciate a good deal as much as the next person, but for the most part I adhere to the mindset that I would rather pay more for better quality, faster service, or convenience, than have to deal with the opposites of those things. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a rockin’ deal as much as the next person, but some things aren’t worth the hassle to me. Hence why it’s more likely you’d find me leisurely perusing the displays at Nordstrom than getting sweaty and harried pawing through the racks at Marshall’s, haha.

That being said, I’m not exactly rolling in it over here. And real food is expensive! Ramen is cheap, produce is not. So while I often ignore my own advice, I do feel like this is an area where saving money really matters. And I feel there are some surefire ways to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to healthy eating.

Number 1: Eat at home.

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Uh, duh. This should probably go without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway: If you want to save money, don’t go out to eat. Shop for your own groceries, and prepare your own food. I spent just over $20 at the store yesterday and will be covered for meals for three days. When you break that amount down, you’re talking about something like $2 – $3 a meal!

Number 2: Meal plan.

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I’ve admitted in the past that I’m not very good at creating and following meal plans. I try to pretend it’s because I’m all spontaneous and like to be creative with my meals, but really I’m just lazy and unorganized hahaha. This week I tried to make an exception, however, because I’m taking off for the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference in Boulder, CO on Friday morning! So going grocery shopping mid-week, while a complete necessity given the state of food options in my house, wasn’t the most ideal situation. I didn’t want to buy things that were just going to spoil when I left! I feel that the biggest money-suck when it comes to eating real food is having it spoil because you weren’t able to utilize it in time. Meal planning is the absolute best way to avoid this.

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Number 3: Make (and stick to!) a grocery list.

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My list yesterday was super short because I was literally only shopping for a few days’ worth of food. But if I hadn’t done up a list, I would have walked out with so much unnecessary, unusable food.

Number 4: Buy generic.

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Stacy’s pita chips are priced at $2.99 a bag. Giant’s Nature’s Promise brand pita chips at priced at $2.49 a bag. Which product should you purchase? Seems like it should be a no-brainer, right? I mean, sure 50 cents might not seem like that much, but it adds up. Fast. And this rule applies across the spectrum: groceries, pharmacy items, etc. People will pay a lot more just for a particular brand slapped on the packaging, when the generic version is just as good (and oftentimes, the same manufacturer makes both products anyway. So you are LITERALLY just choosing between a branded and a generic version of the exact same thing.)

Number 5: Stretch your meat.

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There are lots of creative ways to make the expensive items you buy, like meat, last longer. Cara gave me the tip of adding ~2 cups of mashed chickpeas (which you can snag for about $0.89 a can!) to turkey burgers to bulk ’em up and stretch ’em out. I took that tip as inspiration for my own dinner last night, which involved bulking up my T-burgers with tons of veggies that I already had!

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I chopped up green onion, red onion, button mushrooms, and grated baby carrots and added it all to the mix. Not only did it make for big, thick patties, the mushrooms kept the meat SUPER moist (often a complaint when it comes to turkey burgers — thanks for that tip, Aunt Lynda!), but the meal was healthified with the addition of extra veggies, AND it helped alleviate that whole food-spoilage thing mentioned previously by letting me use up more items that were just waiting to spoil in the fridge! Win-win-win.

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With the addition of asparagus that I subbed the grocery-listed bibb lettuce for because it was a much better deal, and potatoes that I already had lying around, we have a complete meal, with enough leftovers to last me for lunch today AND tomorrow (and would have lasted another dinner, too, if I hadn’t been a piggy and had two patties last night. Whoops! Hahaha.)

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I really need to get on this meal-planning train much more regularly. That way I’ll have more money leftover for the massages I apparently desperately need! 😉

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What are your tips for saving money but still eating healthy? Another thing I should probably look into doing more is deal-shopping (going to different stores for specific items) and couponing, two things I’m terrible at! Any advice on those fronts?

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Posted on May 24, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 19 comments

Dream Big

Guess where I went last night?

Rainbow

Got it? How ’bout now?

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Okay, okay, how about now?

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Yep! Shopping trip to Target (Tarjayyyy), aka my favorite place evaaaar. I went with my brother and his girlfriend to pick up a few things and decided to play a game of “How I would decorate my house if I had more money”:

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Like with square white plates.

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And antique-y bathroom accessories.

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And who doesn’t want to own a cupcake tower?

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Or have decorative glass apothecary jars all over the place for no reason other than that they’re pretty?

Too bad my taste would without a doubt break the bank…

Don't break the bank

Heh.

I also tried my hand at Target-style grocery shopping, since you may have been noticing the distinct lack of veg in yesterday’s Daily Eats post. Well, that’s because I, once again, need to go grocery shopping. Thus:

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Romaine lettuce, green beans, frozen peas & broc.

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Strawbs, nanners, and whole wheat Sandwich Thins.

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Cinnamon pecan (!!) Special K, 2 boxes of Luna bars.

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Cottage cheese, beans, corn, and a just-in-case Annie’s lasagna dinner. And then there’s the piece de resistance…

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… smoked salmon dip. I can’t wait to smother a pita with this or something. Mmmm. All in all I s’pose it was a successful trip (successful for Target, that is. I always end up buying way more than I set out to at this store!) but I will admit that unless you rely heavily on frozen and pre-packaged foods, doing your grocery shopping at Target is not the way to go. Their produce is pretty meh, although I found a couple of things that looked okay, and I don’t think you’re getting a particularly good value out of it (other than that you can complete your grocery shopping along with your regular shopping, I guess.)

Got a favorite superstore? I’m all ears! Target’s a personal fave, but I keep feeling like I should just get a Costco membership already. 5 people living in one house makes toilet paper and paper towels quite the commodity, you know!

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Posted on May 18, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 18 comments

Shopping Trip!

No, unfortunately this was not the superexcitingsometimesdepressingbutmostlyfun kind of shopping trip. Well… maybe some people find grocery shopping fun. But me? Noooo. Grocery shopping, unless you have a buddy, is a draaaag. Good thing I didn’t have THAT much to pick up this trip, huh?

On my way home from work yesterday I stopped by good ol’ Trader Joe’s for a few ingredients. Supplies were running bare in the Gretchen Cupboard, that’s for sure. And yes, that’s right. I have a separate pantry for all my “weird” food so that it doesn’t get mixed up with the roomies’ stuff. Heh.

Aaaanyway, in my grocery bag was…

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The carb station: whole wheat spaghetti, Trader Joe’s tortilla chips (with flax and chia seeds!), Ezekial 4:9 sprouted cinnamon raisin bread, and whole wheat pitas.

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The fresh station: fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, organic grape tomatoes, and ground turkey breast. I have BIG plans for the first three ingredients in this group, so be sure to stay tuned…

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The… round container station? 0% fat plain greek yogurt (my sour cream substitute!), 2 jars of organic marinara sauce, a container of dolmas (stuffed grape leaves–OMNOMNOM), white bean & basil hummus, and fat-free cottage cheese. I know that my sister is probably scoffing at the fact that I got fat-free this and 0% fat that when I lecture her all the time on keeping a short ingredient list but it was between nonfat or 4%! And anyway, let’s be honest, I need all the weight-loss help I can get at this point, right?

And guess what was waiting for me on the front step when I got home, too?

Nut Butter Me Up!

The jars of Justin’s nut butters that I ordered through Kath‘s Open Sky deal a few days ago!

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We’ve got honey peanut butter, chocolate hazelnut butter (omggggg), and maple almond butter. I have been seriously missing nut butters in my life – they are perfect for me because I’m definitely a grab-and-go kinda gal when it comes to breakfast, but I need to make sure I have something filling or I’m ravenous by lunchtime (case in point: yesterday.) So a healthily fatty, protein- and fiber-rich nut butter smeared on some kind of whole grain something or other is kind of the epitome of perfection (and y’know, fruit on the side, of course!) I can’t wait to break into these bad boys. Oh, who am I kidding? I didn’t wait…

Hey, what’s life without a nut butter finger or two, huh?

Anyway, all in all it was a very successful shopping trip! And I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “Girl! Where be yo’ veggies at?!” And believe me, I understand your objection! Tomatoes are a fruit, after all. But fear not, friends. At the farmer’s market on Saturday I picked up a some veggie goodies that will be making appearances in meals to come, so don’t you worry. Besides, I didn’t want to get TOO much perishable stuff, seeing as how it’s a short week for me due to…

FITBLOGGIN‘!! The conference kicks off Thursday night so I’ll be out of the house and up in (hopefully sunny) Baltimore for the weekend! This is my very first blogging conference, and I’m so excited to further my knowledge of nutrition, fitness, and the blogging industry. Most of all, though, I just can’t wait to meet you guys in person! So be sure to let me know if you’ll be there!

Have you ever been to a blog conference before? What should I expect? What should I wear?! I feel like I’m going on a date, haha. I’m so nervously excited!

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Posted on Apr 27, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 16 comments

Salmonariffic!

Oh man, oh man, oh man… food for today is SO awesome. One guess as to the main ingredient in both breakfast AND lunch today, hehehe. Behold! I finally went grocery shopping after literally eating myself down to my last grain of quinoa and anything that used to be living. Behold! Animal products are expensive!

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I think that grocery stores just put the “Your Total Savings” thing in there to make you feel slightly less miserable about the exorbitant amount of money you just dumped into that annoying little habit of feeding yourself, haha.

I was very strategic about getting my groceries this time, too! Grocery listing is something I very rarely practice…

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Naturally, I ended up still deviating from the list slightly, but it did help keep me a little more focused. Plus, since I was stocking up on so many staples and pantry essentials I was prepared to have my pocketbook drained.

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Ah, Heaven. I’m back, my loves. 🙂

And I returned home poorer but happier that my fridge and pantry are stocked to the brim once again with healthy deliciousness that is going to propel me through these next 25 pounds. Hoo-HAH.

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Well, let’s be honest. That fridge is never NOT full. I do share it with 4 other people. But you know what I mean!

Anyway, back to that amazeballs brekky and lunchsies (who am I?) I was talking about…

Return of the lox! I’m so happy to once again have this deliciousness back in my life. I’m still trying to use up the last of my Tofutti “Better than Cream Cheese” (60 cals/2 tbsp), so I smeared it on an Everything Bagel Thin (100 cals) and topped it with some smoked salmon (~120 cals/2 oz) and capers. 😀

CHOMP.

Since breakfast was the kind of meal you get sad about when it’s over, I knew that lunch would have to bring it, too:

First up, another amazing salad monster with romaine, red onion, avocado, strawbs, cherry-flavored craisens, and (of course) blue cheese. I also whipped up a big batch of homemade poppyseed vinaigrette last night since the creamy poppyseed dressing I love so much is a ridiculous 120 calories a serving! And don’t even get me started on that fat content. Sigh. My dressing is much, much lighter and is comprised only of red wine vinegar, canola oil (probably should have used olive but oh wellps), sugar, and poppyseeds.

And of course, the second component to this salmontastic day…

SALMON. Uh, duh?

It took me all of 5 minutes to cook up in a pan last night with some EVOO, first seasoned with soy sauce and sugar. I cannot WAIT to dig into this bad boy. Mmm, Omega 3s… so tasty…

Oh yeah, and there’s a mandarin orange for both meals:

Teehee.

Yoga tonight, since I took yesterday off to mow the lawn and clean my room and bathroom instead (all of which totally got me sweating, I’ll have you know!) I got these amazing new eco-friendly, natural cleaning products from an Etsy Vendor and so far I’m in love! I might have to pull a KERF and show off my mad cleaning skillz (ha!) at some point.

Are you a grocery-lister? Or more wing-it in the supermarket? I think that if I was better at meal planning ahead of time, I’d be better at shopping by grocery list. Maybe I’ll have a meal or two in my head before going, but more frequently I tend to go into the grocery and come up with meal ideas there based on what looks good to me at that moment. Which is why I should never go grocery shopping hungry!

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Posted on Nov 21, 2010 in Dear Diary | 3 comments

The Game of Life

I’m typing this as I keep my mama company in the hospital, and oh, ho, ho, are you in for a treat. Guess what I did this weekend?

That’s right! Ben, Taylor, Steve, and I played the Game of Life. I won, in case you were wondering (but c’mon, we already knew that I win at life, hahahaaaaahaha) and I learned some extremely valuable lessons from the experience.

Lesson #1: the most important thing in Life is to make a lot of money. Nothing else really matters.

Lesson #2: the Game of Life becomes quite progressive when you only have 1 blue piece and 4 players (that’s 3 lesbian couples in case you can’t do the math, haha!)

Lesson #3: Having kids is 100% up to the roll of the dice. My lesbian partner and I ended up with 3, Ben ended up with 1, and Steve and Taylor strolled through Life without any. I also learned that there’s really no point in having kids, other than the fact that they take up more space in your sweet minivan.

Lesson #4: I will retire with 2.73 million dollars. I can live with that!

Haha, well obviously I jest in the nature of these so-called “lessons,” but it was fun to break out an old-school boardgame nonetheless. I just hope that no kids who are playing this game thinks that it’s a realistic portrayal of how life is going to go!

Other things I did this weekend:

Saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 again! I went with my dad this time, and the intention was to see it in IMAX but ALL the IMAX shows were sold out when I got to the theatre at 10:30 AM until 10:50 PM. So, we passed on that idea. It was even better the second time. 😀

Ate delicious sushi! (I love Koi Koi so bad. They know me there! It’s embarrassing and delightful!) Sushi is still, and will always be, my absolute favorite food. Like, desert island favorite. 🙂

Went grocery shopping for Thanksgiving! I’m so excited to be cooking Thanksgiving dinner again this year (with the help of my sister and other various helpers, I’m sure!) Our goal was to put together a “Healthy Thanksgiving” menu, so I’m excited to share that with you later and see if you think it qualifies.

Had lunch at Mad Fox Brewing Company! (Not sure why everything’s still getting an exclamation point now…) I got The Veg sandwich, which had portobello mushrooms, eggplant, roasted red peppers, some kind of soft cheese, lettuce, and a balsamic aioli, with a side salad.

I was kind of bad, and I also got an order of the Frickles (fried pickles) and I know that anything fried is bad but they’re soooooo yummy. I’ve never seen them anywhere else, and this was only the second time I’ve eaten at Mad Fox so in the grand scheme of things I think it’s okay. And I picked off a lot of the breading… sort of. I also had a little bite of Steve’s bread pudding – it was good, but a little too sweet actually.

Ok, that’s about it for right now. I‘m a little nervous about my weigh-in tomorrow, because my focus this week has definitely been about running and getting my mileage up rather than focusing on my diet. I haven’t been going overboard by any means, but I haven’t been paying as close attention as I should have. Guess we’ll see come tomorrow morning, but I’m going to try not to focus on numbers as much as the big event coming on Thursday – my 5K! In preparation of the race on Thursday, I’m going to try to run a full 3 miles on the treadmill tomorrow. It’s only .8 miles further than I’ve run before, and even if I don’t make it, I’m thinking I can at least bang out 2.5. And then I’ll do something a little less intense on Tuesday, maybe just a mile and a half, and then take Wednesday as a rest day.

Even if I only make it up to 2.5 or so miles on the treadmill, I’m hoping that the adrenaline and excitement on Thursday morning will take me all the way. What do you guys think? Is that reasonable? Like I said, I’m still going to try to do 3 miles beforehand, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.

Alright, until next time! Weigh-in tomorrow, so stay tuned. <3

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