Archive for April, 2007

What’s in season? Strawberries

April 27, 2007

I was looking at the grocery ads in the newspaper and noticed that stores I shop at have strawberries on sale for $.99 a pound.  Yea!

Why they are great.  Strawberries are truely a super-food.  They are:

Naturally fat, sodium and cholesterol free
Low in calories
High in fiber 
High in vitamin C
High in Folate which
High antioxidant level

Go to the driscolls website to find out more information on these nutrients. 

Selection.  Strawberries should be firm and bright red.  Avoid packages with the moldy berry in the middle (this always seems to happen to me).  

Storage.  Strawberries are very perishable.  Store in the refrigerator in the original packaging or spread out in a flat container.  Do not rinse the berries until ready to eat.  They should last in the fridge about 3 days.  If you think they will not get eaten in that time, cut the top off and put them in the freezer for smoothies. 

Serving size.  8 medium strawberries is only 50 calories! 

What to do with them.  I recommend eating fresh strawberries plain.  They are sweet and juicy and don’t need anything to jazz them up.  My girls LOVE them.  Here are some other ideas:

  • Slice up strawberries and add Grape Nuts and skim milk.  It is a very healthy way to start the day
  • Mix sliced peaches, strawberries and blueberries together and add a splash of half and half.  This is my favorite evening snack.

Check out this Strawberry French Toast.  I may have to try that this weekend – i even have all the ingredients (except the bread) at home. It looks amazing (but not very healthy).  

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April Finances

April 25, 2007

It is nearing the end of the month and I have a feeling that April will not end in positive numbers.  Here is the reasons why:

  1. The month of April had 5 Mondays.  I pay for daycare each week on Monday so this caused an extra $250 compared with the last two months.
  2. I hosted Easter Dinner at my house this year so this caused my grocery bill to go up a bit.  I also bought my princess a new dress for Easter – she didn’t need it but it makes her feel like Cinderella.  It just melts my heart to see her so excited about something. 
  3. Murphy’s law – If you don’t want to spend any money – you are suddenly out of everything.  My grocery list on my fridge grows each day of stuff we run out of – mostly they are staple items that we will need to replace before the end of the month – bread, milk, cereal, butter.  The car is also almost out of gas.
  4. Eating out.  Normally I only eat out 1-2 times a month (this includes lunch and eating out with my family).  This month I have eaten out 5 times including pizza for the family.  I had a lot of user-group meetings at work and traditionally the whole group goes out for lunch. 
  5. I received my tax return money but it all went to debt and a new washing machine. 
  6. We had family pictures taken for the church directory.  My DH does portrait photography on the side so we usually don’t purchase any pictures from these types of things.  However, the girls were especially cute and we have never had a family portrait of all 4 of us so we walked out with $70 in pictures. 

This is where I need to find my strength to keep up my budget.  In prior years when I have attempted to cut back on expenses, this is where I begin failing.   It is OK to be over budget once and a while – I just need to make sure next month it does not happen again.   Also – I need to stay focused on paying off my car loan.  Once that bill is gone I will give myself more breathing room in my budget so I am not scrounging at the end of the month.

Almost Perfect

April 17, 2007

I took a walk yesterday evening after the girls went to bed.  It was almost perfect.  These are the kind of walks that make you want to exercise everyday.  I was wearing my cute exercise outfit I received from my DH for Christmas.  The weather was beautiful.  The stars were bright.  I felt strong and walked at a faster pace than usual.  I even jogged a few minutes. 

The problem?  This song was going through my head during my entire walk:

The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is Tiggers are wonderful things
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs
They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN!
But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is I’m the only one

AHHHH!!! it is in my head again.

Good Intentions

April 16, 2007

Today was a banner day on how my two goals don’t always jive together. 

I started off my day with great intentions.  I packed oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins for breakfast.  For lunch I packed leftover chicken breast with wild rice along with a banana. Starting off the week being good on my diet is essential. 

However…

I walked into the break-room to make my oatmeal.  Walked out with a donut.  I have such a hard time saying NO to free food.   There wasn’t even an email to announce the evil treats were there.  Maybe if I would have been warned I could have talked myself out of them.

Then later this morning a co-worker came to my desk to chat.  She said she brought in 3 pieces of pizza in for lunch – she would only eat two and probably throw out the extra if I didn’t want it.  Throw out food?  I could never be responsible for throwing out food – there are starving children out there!  Again – healthy planned meal was pushed aside for free food.  I ate the banana – is that worth anything?

The good news is that I don’t have to pack lunch for tomorrow – it is all here waiting for me.

Ways to remain focused during debt payoff and not get burned out

April 13, 2007

MoneyDummy has a great post on how to avoid burn out when you are paying off debt. 

Almost every year I start off by being in tightwad mode to try to save some money.  Every year it lasts until February and then I go back to my old habits.  This year was different. 

Here are ways I avoid burnout – A lot of these are similar to MoneyDummy. 

1.  I got scared.  I have two kids in daycare.  I added up my monthly bills/daycare along with what I was spending and I was consistently spending more than I made.  Granted I didn’t have any credit card debt, but if this cycle continued I would be in trouble.  I needed to free up more cash… which leads me to #2. 

2.  I have a goal.  My goal is to have my car paid off by the end of the year.  The only way this is going to happen is if I pay at least an extra $170 a month on my loan ($500 total).   I get excited every payday when I go on-line to make my $250 payment to the loan.  Once the car is paid off it will be like having a $500 a month raise… which leads me to #3.

3.  I fantasize about what I am going to do with the extra money.  I seriously cannot wait for until my car is paid and get excited every time I think about it.  What should I do next?  Start paying down on my DH’s school loan?  Or maybe extra mortgage payments to get the principal amount lowered so we can quit paying mortgage insurance?  How about beefing up savings so we have a real emergency fund?  Start saving for the next car?  Vacation fund? Home Improvement?  AHHHHH! $500 is not going to be enough!!!!

4.  We rarely eat out, not only because of the costs, but also because eating out with a 1 year old and a 3 year old is not enjoyable.  To make up for not eating out I try to plan a fun meal each weekend.  Homemade pizza where everyone makes their own.  Grilled steaks with sauteed mushrooms and onions.  Copy Cat versions of our favorite restuarant meals like Cheesecake Factory’s Cajun Pasta.   Granted, these meals usually cost me more than our normal weekday fare, I am pretty sure we are still coming out ahead.

These are things I do get burned out on and I usually have to give myself a pep talk to talk myself out of it.

1.  Going out to lunch with my co-workers.  I love the social time with my co-workers when we go out to eat.  It is really the only time during the day I get to do this.  Luckily there are almost always people that bring their lunch to eat in the lunch room also.  I do allow myself 1-2 times a month to go out for lunch – as long as we go somewhere cheap (no $10 lunches). 

2.  Buying clothes for my girls.  Little girl clothes are so stinking cute that I want to buy everything.  My 3 year old is into everything girly – if I bring home a dress or anything pink she gets all excited.  It makes me feel so good to see her light up like that… but I have to keep reminding myself she already has more clothes than she needs.  

3.  Toys – Again, all I have to buy something princess or barbie related and my 3 year old thinks I am the best mom in the world.  I do realize that my kids will think that anyway and I don’t need to buy them things… but it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 

Healthy Eating on a Budget – top 10 staples

April 11, 2007

I read an article on MSN Health & Fitness this morning on  Healthy Eating on $7 a Day:  Top Staples.  Here is their top 10 list and my comments:

1. Whole wheat pasta – I actually prefer whole wheat pasta to white pasta now.  It has a heartier texture and reheats wonderfully – no mushy leftover pasta.  My favorite brand is Barilla Plus.  When it is on sale I can get it for $1.50 a box, otherwise it runs around $1.75. It is also a local brand so I feel good about buying it. I don’t really think of pasta as being healthy even though I am eating the whole wheat version.  The problem is not the pasta it is all the crap I put on it.  Tomato sauce with ground beef.  Melted valveeda cheese for quick mac and cheese (hey, I use the low fat version, does that make it healthy?). 

2.  Eggs – We really don’t eat eggs as often as we should since they are super-cheap.  When we do cook eggs they kind of lose their health value – omlettes with lots of cheese and ham, breakfast burittos with sausage and cheese, egg casseroles.  We have been eating hard-boiled eggs this week that are left over from Easter, but I wouldn’t say this is my favorite way to eat an egg. 

3.  Nuts and Seeds – I am really not much of a nut person.  I like the super salty roasted peanuts or even honey roasted peanuts.  I also have a problem in quantity control when I eat snacks like this.  I would not be able to stop at a few – it is just like potato chips. I did add a few almonds to my green beans I served at Easter – I guess that is a start.  I really don’t see nuts as being cheap either.    

4.  Potatoes – Potatoes are cheap, but I never thought potatoes were a healthy vegetable with a lot of nutrients.  My favorite way to eat potatoes is roasted in the oven.  I cut up the potatoes and place them in a zip lock bag or a bowl.  I toss them with a little olive oil and seasoning salt.  Roast in the oven at 400 until brown and slightly crispy.  We actually had these for our Easter dinner instead of mashed potatoes. 

5.  Canned tomato sauce – We do eat a lot of canned tomato products at our house but mostly in the form of diced tomatoes and spagetti sauce. 

6.  Brown Rice – I want to start eating more rice, but i really don’t know what to do with it.  I am used to those package rice mixes with the seasonings (very bad in sodium).  If I buy a bag of rice, what the heck do I do with it to make it taste decent?

7.  Beans and Tofu – I love beans.  We mostly eat the canned variety because the dried beans take too long.  Black beans are probably my favorite – I use them in black bean soup, chili, mixed in salsa and black bean salad.  We are also big fans of Bush’s Baked Beans – I bet we eat them once a week. I have never tried tofu and to be honest, I don’t think it would fly in my household.

8.  Oatmeal – As I have said before, I eat oatmeal nearly every weekday morning.  Not only does it keep me full most of the morning I am pretty sure it is also keeping me regular (was that TMI???).  I use a variety of toppings to mix things up a little – raisins, brown sugar, peanut butter, honey, berries and milk. 

9.  Cornmeal – I was a little suprised by this item on the list.  Sure, it is cheap, but I have never considered it healthy since I only use it in cornbread.  The article talks about eating it as a replacement to oatmeal for breakfast…I think I will pass on this one.

10.  Green Veggies – Every time I buy green veggies they seem to go to waste at our house.  I like eating salads, I just don’t take the time to make them.  Also – when I want a salad I want all kinds of vegetables on it which makes the cost of the salad go very high. 

The article made me think about my diet and goals and how I could improve.  My grocery bill is always the first that gets cut when I am running low on funds.  I would have like to seen more information in this article.  Sample menus for $7 a day?  or maybe a few recipes? 

Other items I would add to the list:
Whole Wheat Bread – I purchase bread at a bread outlet it town. I can get Sara Lee Heart Healthy whole wheat bread there for a buck. It is a little out of my way so I stock up and freeze the extra loaves. 

Frozen Berries-  OK…Frozen fruit isn’t really cheap food, but it is a lot cheaper than the fresh berries when they are out of season.  I buy a big bag of frozen mixed berries at Sam’s Club for under $8.  The bag usually lasts me several weeks and I add the berries to oatmeal, yogurt, pancakes (homemade mix with whole wheat flour), smoothies and as a topping for ice cream or angel food cake (ok, the last two items are not healthy).  My girls like to eat them partially frozen (very messy).   

Bananas – Bananas have to be one of the best buys in the procuce isle. At the store I go to they usually go between .25 and .50 per lb.  They are also available year round.  My kids love them which is another plus!

Yogurt – I purchase the big tubs of plain lowfat yogurt.  This allows me to control what goes in it.  I like to mix it with a little lemon juice and a tablespoon of powered sugar.  Then I add my frozen berries and top it with grape nuts.  I also use the yogurt in smoothies.  I don’t really love the taste of yogurt so I generally don’t buy it very often. 

What to do with all that leftover Easter candy

April 10, 2007

Our house is currently FULL of candy from easter egg hunts and other relatives.  The actual easter bunny did not leave any candy in the girl’s baskets except jelly beans in the eggs he hid around the house.  I am actually a little annoyed by the amount of candy in our house since I have no self control when it comes to this crap.  I can keep it up so the girls can’t get into it, but nothing keeps me out.

The frugal person in me hates to just throw it away.  If I bring it to work – I will just eat it there instead of at home.    

Here are a few ideas I have:

Use the jelly beans for “potty candy” bribes.  I think my youngest is on the verge of being ready. 

Save the candy to put in May Day baskets.  I usually ignore this holiday because I think it is stupid… however I usually feel a little guilty when my girls bring home several baskets and didn’t have any to give back to the other kids.  Maybe if I have the candy already on hand, I will actually do go through with it.

Anyone else?  What do you do with all the candy?

Couscous salad

April 5, 2007

I made a great lunch salad this week. 

I cooked a cup of couscous in chicken broth for a little extra flavor.  When the couscous was finished I stirred in some sauteed onions, green peppers, mushrooms and black olives. 

Divided into four portions.  I warmed up my salad in the micro at work (I think it would have been good cold also) and then stirred in some feta cheese.  YUM!  Healthy and very filling. 

Does anyone else have ideas on what to mix with couscous?

Sacred Affirmations for Weight Loss

April 4, 2007

Great words from The Incredible Shrinking Ladies.  I need to read this every morning…

 I enjoy being healthy. I’m on the road to fitness. I love the food that makes me thin. I can lose weight. I can change. I can let go of being compulsive. I will take care of me today. My children will benefit from my healthy changes. With each breath out, I exhale negative beliefs about my body. I am naturally drawn to the foods that my body needs to be healthy. I appreciate all the things that are beautiful about my body. I allow myself to have a beautiful body. I am creating healing energy in my life. I am getting healther every day. I like eating healthy, it makes me feel better. I eat only that which my body requires.

Fatblogging update 4/3/07

April 3, 2007

I haven’t fatblogged for a few days because I totally fell off the wagon.  I have hardly done any exercise.  My food intake has also been out of control.  ACK!  Help me get back on!

 I always start off with good intentions – I eat my oatmeal with raisins for breakfast, but then I go downhill fast.  This morning after my oatmeal I ate a piece of cheesecake that was in the break-room.  I didn’t even enjoy it – I just kept eating!

 It is a vicious circle – I eat crappy and then feel crappy.  Since I feel crappy, I want to reward myself with a treat to make me feel better… which makes me feel more crappy… It just doesn’t make any sense, does it?