Thursday, February 26, 2015

The $300 - month one, week 4, day 5

In the last week of month one.  I've already admitted that we went $17  over budget, but it didn't have to be that way.  I am starting to feel like we over bought on some of the produce items.  It's actually not easy using them all up in a week.  I still have butternut squash from two weeks ago and zucchini from last week.  On Saturday I will adjust my veggie spending accordingly.  I will need more peppers because I didn't buy any this week.  Learning to USE everything I buy has been more of a battle than I thought.  Less waste = healthier meals and more $$ in my pocket.  Next month I am going to focus on some planning.  I'm still bad at that.  I'm also going to get a Costco membership and see if I can cut our cheese bill down.  We go through a lot of cheese.  By we I mean my kid & husband.  I have issues with cheese, so I buy shredded to keep myself from devouring it.  The kid & hubbie like to have cheese on everything.  We saw a sign that said "The secret ingredient is always cheese" and that pretty much sums up their way of think.  :-)

I found this link to budget meals.  I generally like Home Tips World.  I see a lot of their stuff on facebook.  I have not gone through all of the meals, but some look promising.

A little at a time

Just finished day 36 of my squats challenge.  Should be getting easier but I am in a whiny mood so it was haaaarrrrrddddd.

Moving along on the bike.  Will post the videos later tonight.  Still in KS, but after a week of being sick and then gout  so I am still in KS, but I have hopes of making it to Oklahoma soon.  :-)

I have also added elliptical to the routine - but I'm not pushing hard on that yet.  Doing a minute at a time for at least 45 sessions today.  I'm up to 3 as I write this.  I can do anything for 60 seconds, so whenever I switch activities I take a minute and hop on.  Only burns a few calories at a time but keeps my heart rate going during the day

Monday, February 23, 2015

OMG I have a half scheduled and I need to train

I know it's not until November.  Heck, the registration doesn't even open until April, but I am going to register on the first day and I am already mentally committed.  The opening of registration happens to fall on payday, it's fate, right?

I know I need to at least think about training because I really want to beat my last time.  However I also know I am NOT going outside in the cold.  I have deadly cold allergy.  During a period of insanity I said I would use the elliptical until the weather warmed up.  Now it's sitting there mocking me.  So after I finish my squats for the day I will hop on it and most likely let it teach me who is boss.  

Can't be worse than the very first time I got on one. I  was 300+ lbs and I said, I'll do this for 15 min and build up to an hour.  I last 45 seconds and it was the worst 45 seconds of my life.  I think it took me a week to get to 1 min where I didn't feel like I was going to die.  I have been pretty sedentary for the past few months, so I'm not sure how long I will last.  Again my goal is 15 min and then I'll get back to actual bringing in income work.  I'll do another 15 min after my workday and then another 15 right before bed.  Tomorrow I will do 4 sets of 15, giving me an hour with that particular machine.   It's a goal.  Not a lofty one, just a basic, get me through this week goal.  :-)

A different kind of waste

I hear a lot of people saying that fast food is the only alternative for many poor people and how the $1 menu is the only way to afford the calories needed to keep yourself going when you are working with a limited budget.  I almost bought that. I will say that it's EASIER than dealing with buses and the like to get the food and cooking after a long day, but it's not CHEAPER.

Right now my son, his girlfriend and their kid are staying with us.  Our food budgets are separate and I have noticed how much they eat out.  My youngest did a fairly conservative estimate and guessed that they spend at least $600 a month of food because they get fast food so often.  $10 a meal, twice a day x 30 days.  That does not include the amount they spend on soda and other junk food, but that's a rant for another day.

I found this chart online showing how much the various fast food companies sell each year.  41billion?  that is so so so much money.

Fast food can easily account for a huge percentage of your budget.  I know that when we had all 4 kids at home it was easily $30 for us to eat at a burger joint.  That was a few years ago, I image that it's even higher now.  But all of that money can buy real food. Food that won't leave you feeling hungry or icky.  The grease always gives me the icks.  I don't think anyone should give up anything 100%.  We still eat out sometimes, but not very often.  It's a treat, not a lifestyle.  That's my goal to maintain a healthier, budget and waste (not to mention waist) conscious lifesytle.

Some other interest graphics I found online.   Most are from  They have some pretty wonderful resources.

The 300 - a swing and a miss

I almost made it under budge this month.  Over by $17.  Why?  Because my stress eating and allowing myself to purchase something decadent and bad pushed me over.  I bought foods we didn't need because I was giving in to using food as a medication.

And now I am forced to accept that it didn't just throw me off of my diet, it affected my budget goal and I'm over.

Something to think about for next time.

I'm not giving up though.  I am doing this for at least 2 more months, possibly longer if I can make it work.  I have plans for the savings.

I won't say $317 isn't so bad.  I know it is still a pretty small amount for 3 people, but I also see it as a failure.  Not because it can't be done, but because I chose not to do it.  I mad the choice that pushed me off track and now to show that I can indeed do it and stay on track.

The $300 - Market Report

This week at the market I spent $36 and this is what i got

1 bottle of orange blossom water
1 bottle of rose water
1 bag of grapefruit
2 bags of tangerines
6 mangoes
2 boxes of bananas - about 48 bananas.  The browner ones on top were f ree.  I'm going to make banana bread with them sometime this week.
12 lemons
5 nectarines
4 yellow squash
1 eggplant
4 giant baking carrots
3 cucumbers
1/2 lb ginger root
3 smaller head broccoli which I forgot to put in the photo

This is my last market visit for the month.  I didn't buy any peppers this week because we still have some to use up.   I spent the pepper money on rose water and orange blossom water.  I have a couple of recipes that call for that.  I used the orange blossom water yesterday and it's interesting.  Takes a second to get the soapy scent out of my mind.  It does NOT taste like soap, but so much of the food experience is scent and it reminds me of some fragranced soap.  I have read that rose water can do the same.  Looking forward to trying it though.  Both were VERY expensive on amazon, but very cheap at the Mediterranean market at the City Market.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The mental health of staying on track

It's been one hell of a week.  I'm a stress eater and that is without doubt the HARDEST habit for me to break.  I did ok most of the week, but gave in today and ended up with 2500 calories under my belt.

I knew I was giving in and did it without as much guilt as in the past.  Sometimes when I would over eat it would cause more anxiety and stress and then I would eat even more.  I know I should have found a healthier alternative, but to be honest, I didn't want to.  I took a day off to give my inner 3 year old reign to do what she wanted and tomorrow she goes back into lockdown.  I'll adjust my calories so that the week balances out.  I figure that it's fine to be low one day, high another and that hitting the same number every day is not really something I have to be exact about.  As long as  I average less in than out I will be ok.  It's when I don't acknowledge my weakness and cheating and end up consistently taking more in than I am putting out that I have problems.

Calories in/Calories out  It really is that simple despite what I keep seeing on tv/facebook/magazines/every other place where weight loss solutions can be hawked.

That is the basic part.  Controlling my reactions to stress is the hard part.  For me at least.  Life is stressful.  I'm going to have to deal with that fact.  Beats being dead and stress free.  I can control how I deal with the stress even though I can't avoid it.

I can also remove some of the stresses.  I'm going to have to do that.

Big Sur Half

The youngest and I have decided to register for the Big Sur Half in November.  It's a great race and I love love love Monterey.  We have also decided to register my mom for the 5k that weekend.  She's not so sure. I know she can do it and it might be a fun vactation.  Besides, it will be cold in Missouri & Arkansas that time of year.  It might be cool in CA, but cool is better than cold.

She said she would think about it.  I said I was buying it and she had several months to get ready and find someone to help my dad watch the horses.  I operate under the philosophy that if you give people an out they will take it all too often.  So, while I can't force her to go, I can guilt her into it.  :-)

And I can't leave myself any outs either.  Now to get serious about the training!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The $300 - food waste

A huge part of eating on a budget is not wasting food.

For so long it was a part of our culture.  Don't waste food - there are starving kids somewhere.  My grandparents grew up during the Depression and they did NOT waste food.  It was hoarded, preserved and enjoyed.  When you come from having nothing you learn to appreciate the abundance of our lives today.  During WWI this was encouraged by the government

Today I sometimes feel like the government encourages waste under the guise of protecting people.  That's a rant for another day.

Just going to worry about my own waste and what to do to avoid it.  I don't see myself as a wasteful person, but I have to admit that there have been things that spoiled because I simply didn't get to them.  Things I thought I wanted to eat that week, but just didn't feel like cooking until they were too far gone. Things that were on sale and the deal was "too good to pass up".  Yeah, it never is, especially when you buy too many to use up.  Things I forgot about.  Way too much food went bad and was wasted in our house.  I might as well have just ripped up the $$ I spent on it.

Meal planning helps, but I am never going to be my oldest and plan everything out way in advance.  I just plan on things I want to cook that week and go with what feels right that day - or what really needs to be cooked quickly. I'm doing a better job of checking things and seeing that I need to use that pepper or this cucumber before they are not so appetizing.

Buying less is an obvious way to cut back on wasted food.  Portioning it out into smaller sized and freezing them so I don't have to use it all at once.  

Serving smaller portions.  I've downsized the size of our plates and even then sometimes we end up with too much food on them.    I can't really believe we used to use those big plates and fill them up.  My body and more importantly, my  mind, are becoming satisfied with smaller portions.  

I save our leftovers and USE THEM.  That was another area I fell down in before. I would save the leftovers with the best of intentions and then toss them a few weeks later when I realized they were still there and uneaten.

Wasted food is a huge problem and it shouldn't be in a country where so many people go hungry.  How does that happen here?  We have so much but there are people among us who don't have enough to survive.  Kids who eat one meal a day.  I think it may be a combination of social program failures as well as personal failures and bad choices.  I'm not saying it's easy, but the maximum amount given in food stamps for a family of 3 in Missouri is $408 and I wanted to see if it was possible.  My own kid lived on $85 last month, so it's possible for one person who is willing to plan and cook.  I realize that people working two jobs might not feel like they have time to cook, but they are also not getting the food stamps in that amount.  And I do work.  I run two businesses and a charity organization.  I don't work quite full time this time of year, but in the spring and summer I work close to 70 hours a week.  It will be interesting to see if I can keep this going then.  You simply can NOT live on less by eating out all the time.  Even on the $1 menu.

Besides, it's good for the environment.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Day 26

Over half way there!

The past two weeks I've found that I can do the squats or I can do the graphics, but doing both is way too much time for me.

I chose squats.

Blacklight 5k

I'm finally doing another 5k.  Well maybe.  I've done this course before and it was easy enough that I doubt their measurements.

It's the Blacklight Run out in Bonner Springs KS.

I'm excited because of the people I am doing it with.  A group of sarcastic women who are not easily embarrassed.  It's so much fun to be with people who are not afraid to just have fun instead of worrying what people are thinking.  We are the Lightning Broads.  The kid is going.  Dan - my magician friend - described my  kid as Daria come to life.  I'm going to have to find that show for her to watch.

It's also exciting because it will be the first 5k for 3 of the women.  One used to weight 550 and now weighs 350 and did it WITHOUT surgery.  She's changed her diet and added exercise - giving herself a new lifestyle.  She's also dealing with why she got there.  I think it's rare for someone to get that large without an underlying problem.  Of course that comes from my own background and I know that it was more than just eating for fun.  That was some of it, but I was medicating with food.  And medicating with the wrong foods, some of which triggered more depression.   Currently I get severely itchy if I eat the wrong foods, so I have no problem staying away from them.  If only I had that reaction to cheese.  :-)

Back to the topic at hand.  I'm excited to have the opportunity to do this run/mostly walk with fun women who are actually interested in becoming healthy - not quick fixes.  I also remember how excited and nervous I was at my first race event.  It'll be fun to be there with race virgins who are experiencing it for the first time.  I love the running community.  Probably more than the running.  Actually a lot more than the running.

The $300 report

I had 132.97 after last week's trip to the market.  Then I went to Aldi's and spent $20 - not the $17 I had planned.  I decided I really wanted some goat cheese.  Mostly my budget challenge has made me skip the junk food, but I didn't do that so well this week.  I also spent most of my remaining non-veggie money at regular grocery stores, but that doesn't worry me.  I just had to restock on a few things and I won't need much at all next week.  I won't be going to the regular store next week at all unless I spend less at the market.

- 20.00 (Aldi's)
- 42.00(This week's Market)
- 30.47 (regular grocery store)
$40.50 left for the market next week.

We're getting better at leftovers and rotating food to make sure it gets eaten quickly enough.  I am also cooking smaller meals.  It has taken me a long time to learn to cook for 3 instead of 6 now that most of the kids have moved out.  My extra food often went to waste.

Last night I made lots of broccoli soup base.  I froze 4 bags of it so I can make soup later.

We used one of those chickens I bought the first week, but only one.  I made stock with the leftover bones.  When did stock become known as bone broth?  It's just stock.  Maybe I'll get fancy and call it bone broth when I cook with it.  I'm hip like that.

So far I have to say that in Kansas City it is possible to feed a family healthy food for a very low price.  I don't know about other places, because food deserts are very real.  Also I have a car.  Hauling that much home on the weekends would be a pain via bus.  I could buy half and then spend the other half at a the weekday produce market at Truman.  It's Wed. I believe and usually really good prices.  Still it would be a pain.

I know that without the market I would struggle to have the same budget.  Regular grocery stores are so much more $$.  Maybe with careful shopping and going to a variety of stores.  Again, having access to transportation is key.  The house we lived in for awhile  as mired in a place where fresh was unobtainable for anyone without a car.  When our van broke down I had a choice - walk 7 miles each way for groceries.  5 miles to the closest buss stop but that only ran a few times a day and not on weekends at all.  if I wanted to keep the walk 1/2 mile each way I could go to two convenience stores or a Sonic.  I had friends who helped me get to the store and we only had to live that way a couple of weeks, but not everyone is so lucky.

There are some places in Kansas City where the only close grocery store has convenience store prices and limited access to quality fruits and veggies.  My son lives near one of those.  The veggies are always on the edge of going bad and way over priced.  Tons of processed and junk food for cheap.  He does live on a bus route though and it's only a 10 min ride to the nearest Aldi's, so I don't have much sympathy for him when he refuses to do that.

 I have not ventured into the various Asian markets around town but I have been told to check them out as well as the Indian markets for lower prices.  Maybe I'll do that next week and see what I can add to my pantry.  They are located in neighborhoods all over town, and could be a great option for people trying to eat well on a budget.

A belated Market report

I have been under the weather so my bike ride has taken a hit.  I'm going to be in KS forever!!  :-)

I did make it to the market on Saturday and went $2 over budget.  This is what I got.

2lbs pablono peppers
6 green bell peppers
3 red bell peppers
4 yellow bell peppers
3 mangos
6 grapefruit
3 smaller heads of broccoli
1 honeydew melon
3 zucchini
4 cucumbers
1/2 lb Serrano peppers
4lb strawberries
6 larger carrots
12 tangerines
6 oranges
6 lemons
2 bags of limes (about 18)
1 head cauliflower
10 plums
The bananas were free

We eat a ton of vitamin c.  you think I wouldn't ever come down with a cold!  It's actually not bad, just has me dragging too much to get anything done.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Virtual Bike Ride - Days 6, 7 & 8

Friday, Saturday & Monday.  I took Sunday off because my legs and butt were sore.  :-)

Friday was the big day.  I went 20 miles and ended up just past Ottawa, KS.  I think that's the last total street view video I do.  Too much of a pain to track where i am and it's also long.  I like the "fly over" version where you can see a wider view of what the country side looks like.  Especially in KS where the interstate is boring boring boring.

Once I go far enough to reach Whicita I will exit the interstate and kind of cut diagonal arcross the rest of the state until I reach New Mexico where I go west on I-40.  When we drove this it took FOREVER.  KS isn't a big state unless you are driving across it diagonally.  When we drive it again this year, it will again take forever, but we will be prepared with more than 1 cd.  LOL  I forgot them last time and we had Taylor Swift. (11 year old daughter with me) and that was it.  Took awhile before I could listen to Taylor again.

Friday - 20 miles

Saturday - 10 miles

Monday - 10 miles

Saturday, February 7, 2015

This week's Market Report

Another week - another visit to the market.  Today I came in $4 under budget, though I'm probably going to spend that at a traditional grocery store.

For my $36 I got

4 red pears

2 smaller butternut squash
10 kiwis
1 package of  habanero peppers
2 bags of spinach
1 giant bag of green onions (I have no idea what to do with that many, but it was only $1)
6 mangos
3 large red onions
4 baking carrots
4 grapefruit
1 lb jalapenos
1 lb poblano peppers
5 plums
7 limes
6 lemons
6 oranges
3 large avocados
2 bags of small sweet peppers

I still need to buy for the week

shredded cheese
snack food for the husband and kid
maybe some broccoli

Before today I had $168.97 left over for the week.

Now I have 132.97

Two more trips to the market will use up $80 of that and I have only $17 a week left over for each of the 3 weeks.  I estimate I will spend $10 this week on additional items and think each other week will come in under too.  Basically, it's looking good for keeping it below $300 this month.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Virtual Bike Ride - Day 5

I'm working my way through Kansas!  At 10 miles a day it's going to take me well over a year, so I'm hoping to work my way up to 50 miles a day eventually.

I decided to try doing a fly over video this time.  It's easier to track the roads and makes for a more interesting video because you can see the countryside.  I will probably also start adding notes about the places.  Just have to look at the youtube video editing and see what I need to do to add captions.

Anyway - for now I did 10 miles on the bike burned a couple of hundred calories and made it just past Garder KS in my virtual ride.

This is how far I've gone so far. 

The $300 - Most of a week done

Slashing my budget means I need to make use of everything.  No more leftovers sitting around going bad.  That's a lunch or two just waiting to happen.

The other day I made my ground beef coconut curry with peppers

Recipe can be found on one of my other blogs  

It works out to be less than $1 per serving.  It makes 6 servings for normal people, 4 for us because my husband loves it too much and will eat a HUGE serving of it.  Because there were only 2 people home I was able to have leftovers and we had it for lunch the next day.

I serve it on cabbage.  That one head of cabbage lasted me for 3 meals.  I didn't make it a centerpiece of any of them, but it was something I served stuff over or added to other stuff.  It cost me $1 to buy that head and I got 9 meals out of it.

In the past I have been guilty of not making the best use of my leftovers - even if it was a part of a vegetable that I should use.  Too easy to just let things sit in the fridge until it was time to throw them out.  I can't do that now.  Everything has to be used if I want to stay under budget.  

Waste not, want not.  That's a phrase that should have been my motto all along.  We live in a society of waste.  Huge amounts of good food are thrown out every year.  Food that SHOULD be put to use.  I'm going to do my best to keep the amount of food waste around here as close to zero as possible.

I'm a couple of days away from my market visit.  It's time to start a list of what I need this week.  Surprisingly I'm good on lemons.  I didn't use as many of  them this week as I normally do, but I'm running low on oranges.  We snack the heck out of them and of course the bananas are gone.  They are snapped up after workouts and I like to put one in my morning smoothie.  We still have more veggies leftover than I anticipated so I will be more cautious in my buying this week.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Virtual Ride - day 3

Today I got 5 miles in on the bike.  I've decided to add walking miles to the next day's video since who knows how many steps I'll get in tonight.

Made it to Kansas today.  Sounds more impressive than it is.  KS is only 10 miles from my house, I do there several times a week.

I drove this route once a few years ago and I will be in KS for a long long long time.  It felt like the state that would never end.  We kept seeing signs for Oklahoma, but were starting to think it was a myth.

And I'm on day 13 of my squat challenge

Up or Down? Feb 3

I didn't weigh myself last week, so this is over 2 weeks, but I'm happy to report that I am down 3lbs.  Feels good.

Getting my miles in

I've decided to bike/walk/run to Monterey, CA.  Well, not actually.  I don't have enough time or a high enough fitness level to do it IRL.  What I am doing is making a google earth video of the distances I did that day and making my own little log that way.  The first two days represent time spent on the exercise bike.

I couldn't figure out how to get the darn thing to exit at my exit and it looked like a truck cut me off, so that kind of worked.  Ended up having to make a u-turn.  LOL  Then I was on the wrong side of the road, but to heck with it.  I just left that one.

I also didn't start at my actual home, but rather the place we lived before this one.  I figure the miles are the same but then my address isn't quite so public.

On the second day I only went a couple of more miles.

now that I have my fitbit charger cord back I will start adding my daily miles from walking/running to the total .

Sunday, February 1, 2015

French Toast

Starting my budget meals off with a bang.  The kiddo had a friend over so I got fancy for breakfast with French Toast and fruit.  Worked out to be $1/serving.

I realized it's going to be hard to calculate some things because  if I've had them in the house  won't likely remember how much they cost.  Also milk & coffee are luxury items for me so I don't count them against the budget.  

Milk as a luxury?  Yeah, I prefer the taste of raw milk.  It's WAY WAY WAY more expensive than regular supermarket milk.  It's also something that can be eliminated from the monthly budget if I feel tight that month.

With coffee, it's more complicated.  I'm not going to eliminate it and I'm not going to drink cheap coffee ever.  Maybe it's a necessity, not a luxury.  I do save money by roasting my own beans.  That makes it about 20 cents a serving most of the  time.    That's a big savings over 45cents a cup from the kind I buy when I purchase roasted.  Funny thing even that is cheaper than those darn K-cups which are not not not good coffee (and bad for the environment).  Some people think it's fancy and rave over them, but gag - no.

Coffee is an experience for me.  From roasting to hand grinding to pour over brewing.  I don't take cream or sugar in it very often now.  Good coffee will do that.  You learn to enjoy the taste and don't want to hide it with other stuff.  You can follow my coffee life on one of my other blogs  I'm posting my year in coffee there.  On my instagram I post a cup a day from my collection  I love thrift shops and have tons of cups.  Too many.  I'm displaying them this year and as part of my minimizing my life I will keep a select few and sell the rest.  They are almost all vintage cups and as much as I enjoy them - I just don't have the space.  I'll post a link when I get around to that.

Back to budget food:

Lunch is leftovers and dinner will be black beans cooked in stock made from the bones of those hams I bought yesterday.  I boiled them with some peppers and made 3 quarts of stock.  Two will be saved for later and one was used today.  Black beans with a bit of ham and some gf cornbread from a mix I have on hand.  Today's food will come in at around $3 per person.  That's a tiny bit lower than my goal.  Good, because some days will be over a bit.    It's a rough estimate of course.  I'm not sure how to count the ham stock.  Mostly those would be trash, but I was able to get some good eating out of them and turn the stock into several more servings.

Oh well, as long as I only bring in $300 worth of new groceries for the month.