Jewelry Diet: Week Two…

Jewelry Diet, you wonder? What? Where did that come from??? Okay, okay…I have dubbed this the ‘Jewelry Diet’ because I realized that if it works I will save enough money each month to invest in a nice piece of jewelry!! So if I follow this ‘diet’ I will not only be eating healthy, I can look like a million bucks, too! More incentive to stick with it!

Details: I am into the second week of my experiment. The end of the first week found me about $40 over budget. Although I did not go to the store and spend more than the initial $71, I did supplement with items already on hand in my pantry and refrigerator. In accounting for their costs I used the price I would have paid for them in full even if I only used a fraction of the quantity, and anything I was not sure of price-wise I erred on the high side. Among the supplemented items were some fresh salad ingredients I had leftover prior to my experiment’s onset. I certainly did not want to waste anything soley to prove a budgetary point. This week I should be using only things I have bought (or accounted for) since the experiment began…any perishibles should now be used up. I will get a slight amount of help this week from the fact that the dried fruit I bought for my son’s lunch last week should last this week (and possibly into next), and I have some rice and a small stock of pasta still left from last week.

One advantage to this experiment besides the obvious one of saving money while eating healthy? My refrigerator is staying much cleaner because I have not overbought items which will be only partially used up before eventually getting thrown out…

I have returned from Whole Foods with my total expenditures at $75.53. This includes fresh vegetables: lettuce, radishes, mushrooms, cucumber, onions (red and yellow), potatoes (sweet and golden), carrots, garlic and even a slaw mix; fruits: bananas, apples, lemons (Yay!!), 1 lime, 1 pear; fish: frozen mahi-mahi and ahi tuna; whole wheat penne pasta; apple juice; cranberry juice; frozen vegetables: broccoli, green beans and peas; and a few other odds and ends. I still need meat for a few dinners, but the meat specials weren’t as good this week. I think the new specials come out on either Tuesday or Wednesday, so I will re-check later. I do have meat in the freezer I can use, and it has the prices on it so it will be easy enough to add into the budget if needed. I regret not taking advantage of the chicken and pork specials last week…oh well! By the way, my husband will be here for 4 days this week, so this week’s budget is $90…woohoo, almost $15 more dollars to spend!!

Decisions, decisions…..

After much consideration – and lack of time – I opted to bring a selection of cookies from Whole Foods to the Super Bowl party. I chose a variety of cookies: Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal with Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodles, Double Fudge, Brownie Bites, and Coconut Macaroons. It is quite possibly the next best thing to homemade, and certainly the time-friendly (though pocket-book unfriendly) choice. And just to be clear, I am classifying the cookies under “Entertainment Expenses” rather than have them count toward my food budget for the week.

On a side note, I have not decided which team I’ll be cheering for; however, I generally tend to support the underdog, and since the Saints have never been to the Super Bowl there is a high likelihood I will root for them.

The Curve-ball called ‘Life’

Funny how you try to plan things out, but life often has a different idea, throwing a curve ball at you when you least expect it…to make a very long story very short: we had an interesting day (won’t go into details, but we spent some time at the ER today), and as a result I did not make it to the grocery store for the dessert ingredients I need. I am going to play tomorrow (Super Bowl Sunday) by ear as far as what desserts I end up bringing. At this point I may (gulp) buy some brownies or cookies instead of actually making some from scratch…and anyone who knows me knows how much I love to bake – and how resistant I am to buying pre-made!! But, as I said, it was a crazy day. I will keep you all posted!

Day 5: Goulash

I am at day 5 of my food experiment, and I have a few observations to comment on so far. One, I am NOT surprised at how much I have been spending on food. Two, I have not kept within my allotted budget of $85 for the week. However, I am very surprised by observation number three: how easy it has been to eat healthy, wholesome food on just slightly over my budgeted amount. I have not spent more money than the initial $71; however, I have used ingredients from my pantry to finish off a couple of the meals, namely olive oil and Kashi bars (for my son’s lunch). I also accounted for the full cost of the salad ingredients I had leftover in my fridge since I would have had to buy the larger quantity if I’d had to buy them from the start. In all I went approximately $30 over budget. Okay, so maybe that is not just ‘slightly’ over my budget…but it is great that I only spent around $100 for us to eat so well this week. I did this mainly from Whole Foods (often referred to as ‘Whole Paycheck’). The bread I used for sandwiches was the only thing not from Whole Foods…it is the Orowheat Whole Wheat Bread, which Whole Foods does not sell.

On to tonight’s meal: Goulash. Now this is not goulash in the traditional Hungarian sense of goulash. This version is the American comfort food my mom used to make, and the only thing Hungarian about it is the paprika. My mom’s version included ground beef, paprika, elbow macaroni, green bell peppers, onion, and a tomato sauce. My college roommate said her mom made the same thing but called it ‘American Chop Suey’. My version is somewhat evolved from my mom’s. My kids don’t really care for bell peppers (and by ‘don’t care for’ I mean really dislike), red or green, so they have been eliminated from the ‘original’ recipe. I do add the paprika, but I use hot paprika rather than mild. Also, I use whole wheat elbow macaroni…a healthier option. With the tomato sauce you really cannot tell it is whole wheat. Plus, whole wheat pasta tastes much better than the whole wheat pasta of only a few years back. The best part? I have enough for both tonight’s dinner and tomorrow night’s…and possibly a lunch or two. Not too shabby!!!!

A Super Bowl Dessert Throwdown: Bananas Foster vs Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie!

So here’s the deal: We are going to a Superbowl party on Sunday (The Saints vs. The Colts) and I am bringing dessert. I originally planned to bring something easy to eat, something which does not require anything fancier than one’s own two hands – and perhaps a napkin. But then I thought, “What desserts are associated with these two areas?” Well, you know me – Google Goddess – I did a little research. As you might well expect, it was MUCH easier to find desserts for which New Orleans is known. And, surprise, surprise – Bananas Foster popped up everywhere. Not such an easy dessert to bring to a party, but I’m looking into it…

Indiana has proven to be a tad more challenging. While known more for farming and corn and livestock, Indiana doesn’t actually have a ‘state food’ as do many other states. (I did, however, come across an interesting tradition they have of spooning chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes…and to someone who has yet to eat breakfast that sounds mighty good! Aaaahhh, but I digress…) I delved deeper into the history of Indiana food traditions and eventually came across a dessert called “Sugar Cream Pie”. Actually, it is a well-known dessert in Indiana. So…I figure a pie is pretty easy to transport, and since the only other Indiana dessert I came across was Persimmon Pudding, I zeroed in on the pie. Upon perusing the various recipes I came across, I eventually homed in on one for “Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie”. This incorporates a mixture of both granulated and brown sugars, heavy cream, a little flour, and a touch of vanilla. After mixing it is poured into a pre-baked pie shell and baked for about 40 minutes. How can a pie go wrong with sugar and cream as the main ingredients??? This pie sounds simple and delicious, and I am eagerly anticipating my first bite of this pie!!!