Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Feeding Two for $50 - Week Two (I Just Don't Think This is Going to Work)

I've been putting this post off.

So, as excited as I was to take on this feeding two for $50/week challenge and to reduce our grocery budget, I just don't think it's going to work.

Here's why:

I watched this film over the weekend, and it really changed the way I think and feel about food.

I learned a lot about how processed foods affect me, and I can see the results of eating so much processed food in my life.  I'm always tired and feel like I can't ever sleep enough.  I feel lethargic and crave junk food and pop.  The minute I begin "healthy eating" I automatically feel deprived, and that's not how it's supposed to be.  I think that eating junk food will make me feel better, when really it just makes me feel worse and really messes with my stomach and digestive system.  Ugh.  It's just so not good.

I really have tried to shop for real, healthy food the majority of the time, but there was so much that I didn't realize was affecting our bodies.

I became a bit obsessed and followed this one up with Foodmatters, Forks Over Knives, and Fat Sick and Nearly Dead.  Then I went grocery shopping on Sunday evening, as I normally do.  But this week, I agonized over everything I put into my cart, so torn between eating food filled with chemicals and saving money.  I didn't even buy some things (i.e. milk) because I just couldn't stand buying the regular stuff, but couldn't stand paying so much for organic either.  I knew I had a lot of research ahead of me and would have to have a good convo with my husband about all this and our grocery budget.

So that's what we've done this week.  I've done loads of research, beginning with these documentaries and leading into the Paleo lifestyle and the Whole30 challenge and the Eat Clean diet, and we've talked about it a lot - the pros and cons, the budget worries, the lack of CHEESE in most of these eating plans.  I want to change the way we eat, especially with Liam getting into eating real food and starting to get onto cow's milk instead of formula pretty soon, I really want to make sure that what I'm feeding him is actually good for him.  I know it's going to be tough.  I don't quite think we're ready for something like the Whole30 challenge (but who knows, maybe next week we will be), but I do want to begin making steps towards eating whole foods, little to no processed foods, and more organic & pastured foods.

And with that being the case, I don't think the $50 grocery budget is going to cut it anymore.  Right now, we've decided that since Liam is beginning to eat more and more regular food (and we'll only have to buy a few more cans of formula before we can switch him over to organic cow's milk), we can up our grocery budget to $75 and include Liam's items instead of having a separate budget for baby items - though diapers, etc. will still come out of our "household" budget.  We're going to continue to work with it and crunch numbers and see if we can continue to up our budget reasonably so that we can afford to purchase more organic & pastured meats and stuff like that.

So, beginning with next week, I think I'll still post my menu plan, and maybe how much I spent on my grocery trip, but I won't be sticking that $50 budget on myself because it's just too tough to get good food with that little money.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Soup Season

With most of the temps being in the single digits this week here in the Midwest, I think it's safe to say we are well into soup season.  I'm a soup lover - I love to eat it (because it's delicious) and I love to make it (because it can be SO easy).

So today I thought I would share some of my favorite recipes that I've made lately.

Becca's Potato Soup
I got this recipe from ... my friend Becca!  I'm not sure where she got it from, but it is SO good.  It's super easy and really tastes like potato soup from a restaurant!  I usually double this recipe so we have leftovers (my husband can eat A LOT of potato soup - it's his favorite).

1 box chicken broth
4 large potatoes, cubes (I leave the skins on)
2 large carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 8oz package reduced fat cream cheese
seasoning to your own taste: garlic salt, lowry's seasoned salt, bay leaf

Heat the potatoes, carrots, onion, bay leaf, and seasonings in the chicken broth until boiling.  Cook until potatoes are softened, still occasionally.  Mash about 1/2-3/4 of the potatoes to thicken the soup.  Turn heat to low and stir in the cream cheese until totally melted.
Becca's rule: whoever gets the bay leaf does the dishes! ;)

Chicken, Black Bean, and Corn Soup
I adapted this recipe a little bit from this one that I posted a while back. 

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1 can original (or mild if you prefer less spice) rotel
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can black beans
2 cups water (you could probably use chicken stock, too, but I haven't tried that out yet)
10 oz package frozen corn

Throw it all in your crockpot EXCEPT for the corn, give it a quick stir, set it for 8 hours on low, and jump for joy at how good your house smells when you get home.  Take the chicken breasts out, shred 'em up, and add back to the pot along with the corn.  Give it about 10-15 minutes for the corn to heat through, and then enjoy!

Stuffed Pepper Soup
I seriously cannot say enough good things about Skinnytaste's Stuffed Pepper Soup!!  It is so good for you, but feels like such comfort food.  We love it!

1 lb extra lean ground beef (you could probably use ground turkey too!)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 can diced tomatoes
1 box chicken stock
2 cups tomato sauce (we love Barilla Tomato Basil pasta sauce)
1/2 tsp marjoram
salt & pepper to taste
3 cups long grain brown rice

Brown ground meat in a large dutch oven or stock pot.  Drain fat if necessary and add peppers, onion, and garlic.  Cook on low for 5-10 minutes or until peppers and onions are a little soft.  Add in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken stock, and seasoning.  Cover and simmer on low for at least 30 minutes stirring occasionally (I like to let mine cook for most of the afternoon, but 30 minutes is good if you're in a hurry).  Meanwhile, cook the rice in a separate pot.  To serve, put 1/2 cup rice in a bowl and top with 1 cup soup.  Top with parmesan cheese if desired!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chocolate Mug Cake

Crummy/weird day + late night chocolate craving = me googling chocolate mug cakes, and coming up with this amazing thing.  I just had to share because this is only about 200 calories (!!) and tastes amazing.

I looked at a lot of recipes for mug cakes while coming up with this one, but I think most of what I did came from this recipe.

Chocolate Mug Cake
1 tbsp + 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3 tsp unsweetened applesauce
3 tbsp skim milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
cooking spray
small handful of chocolate chips (optional)
powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Combine dry ingredients in a little bowl with a wire whisk.  Add applesauce, milk, and vanilla extract.  Mix SUPER well with the whisk (I had like one weird spot in mine that wouldn't really cook all the way no matter how many times I kept microwaving it, and I think it's because I didn't stir it well enough).  Spray a coffee mug lightly with cooking spray.  Pour batter into mug.  Sprinkle in a few chocolate chips.  Microwave for 1.5-2 minutes.  Let cool and then flip the mug upside down onto a plate and tap the bottom of the mug a few times and the cake should come right out.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Enjoy your low calorie chocolate dessert!!

195 calories
47g carb
1g fat
6g protein
3g fiber

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Feeding 2 for $50 - Week One!

Starting on my big challenge this week to feed two for just $50 a week (I got this idea from Shanna)!  And let's just say, I'm definitely still learning to keep my budget in check.  I went a good bit over for this week, but luckily I can borrow a little from my "other" budget (the budget for baby, household, etc. items).

What I bought:

1 dozen large eggs $1.98
old fashioned oats $2.19
greek dressing $2.50
applesauce $1.99
pears $2.21
green bell pepper $0.99
3lb bag sweet onions $2.29
3lb bag idaho potatoes $1.88
1 bunch green onions $0.79
classic romaine bagged salad $2.49
frozen chicken breast $7.99
frozen broccoli florets $2.19
5lb bag gala apples $4.99
carrots $0.52
chicken broth (2) $5.98
bacon $3.19
frozen vegetable/rice medley (3) $4.77
honey ham lunch meat $3.00
yellow bell pepper $1.59
large head cauliflower $2.99
bunch bananas  $0.86
sliced cheese $2.19
2% shredded cheddar cheese $2.50
1/2 gal skim milk $1.34
large coffeemate $3.54
barbeque sauce $2.69
reduced fat cream cheese (2) $2.00
light sourcream $1.00
chobani yogurt (6) $6.00
Total: $78.64

What we plan to eat:

Breakfast: Healthy Chocolate Chip Muffins, Baked Chocolate Chip Oatmeal, Cereal, Fruit

Lunch: Ham & Cheese Sandwiches or Leftovers with Yogurt and Fruit


  • Sunday - out of town
  • Monday - Potato Soup
  • Tuesday - Crockpot Barbeque Chicken with Twice "Baked" Cauliflower
  • Wednesday - Bacon and Veggie Scrambles with Toast
  • Thursday - leftovers (Korey works)
  • Friday - dinner out
  • Saturday - leftovers (Korey works)

Not sure what exactly put me over because I didn't feel like I was buying that much while I was shopping.  I know I need to keep track of how much I'm spending on the calculator on my phone as I put items in my cart.  This is my starting place - I know it will be a challenge to get the weekly total down, but I think I can do it!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ten Things to Help Your Marriage Thrive

I came across this link a couple weeks ago on Pinterest, and I felt really compelled to give these 10 things a whirl.  After a crazy 2012 of becoming parents and being in survival mode for those first 6 months, then changing jobs, moving in with my in-laws, moving again, and launching straight into the holidays, our relationship is in desperate need of a boost.

The next evening, I had us start with number one - weekly questions.  We struggle to make the time to sit down and just talk, just the two of us, at least once a week.  But we are going to work harder at finding the time to go through these questions together, even if it's less than 20 minutes.  I'm also really excited to begin implementing the travelling journal idea and the small metal box idea.

We aren't going to be able to immediately start doing all of these things, and these might not be the 10 magic things for us, but I think that if we give each one a try and keep doing the ones that feel right, and maybe make up a few things of our own, it will help us feel more connected to each other and help our marriage thrive.

Check out The Ten Things to Help Your Marriage Thrive on Today's Letters.  (I also just really love this blog in general, so check it out!)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Inspiring Friday: Liam's First Birthday!

I can't believe my baby is going to be one year old in only a month and a half!  I've been working on ideas for his birthday party for a while now, but haven't really decided on anything or put anything into action yet.  I think we've finally decided on the time and place, and also to do a super hero theme!  I'm really excited to get the ball rolling on this party!  Here's kinda the look I'm going for:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eating Out and Losing Weight

One of the hardest parts for me about losing weight is eating out.  My standard mindset seems to be that every time I eat out I can make it a "cheat" meal and treat myself to whatever I want.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all about having a cheat day (only one per week!), and eating out is fine, but this is NOT a good mindset to be in when a dinner or lunch out pops up unexpectedly.

Even when I do try and make a healthy choice at a restaurant, I inevitably choose wrong - a salad that is a calorie bomb in disguise or grilled chicken that seems low cal, but is smothered in a calorie laden sauce.  It's important to know exactly what you're getting when you order at a restaurant.

The trick for me is to always go in prepared.  I usually have a go-to list of restaurants that I know what I can order there and how many calories it is.  Panera, Subway, and Qdoba are some of my favorite go-to places.  Thankfully, most restaurants have their nutrition information posted on their websites (except for the little mom-and-pop type local places), so it's easy to see exactly what you're ordering.  Whenever I know in advance what restaurant I'll be eating at, I always take the time to look up their menu online.  A lot of places have a low-calorie or healthy section of their menu that is worth taking a look at - Applebee's and Friday's for example both have "under 500 calories" options that are pretty tasty!

I usually try and go with the best low-calorie option that looks good.  Occasionally, if I want to order something that's higher in calories, I'll make sure I don't eat as many calories for the rest of the day, or add a little to my workout to make up for it.  And when I'm really wanting something that is pretty bad for me (i.e. a burger and fries or a big plate of pasta), I save it for my cheat meal (one per week!).

It's totally possible to eat out AND lose weight, it just takes a little research and a lot of self control.