Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Recycling in 2011

One of my goals for 2011 was to start recycling. So here is out little recycling station! The top is for glass plastic and metal, and the bottom is for paper. So far, it's working out well!

Monday, January 24, 2011

SNAP Hunger Challenge-Final Thoughts

Did I get enough calories each day? I should say! I generally try to stay around 1500 calories but as you can see, this week I went over quite a few times. I found myself saying "I have 50 cents left for this meal, I could add an apple!" I usually watch what I eat so I also found myself eating more carbs then I normally do simply because it was cheap and filling.
Weekly Progress:

Calories:1,8041,7471,973 2,4731,3882,1422,601
Fat:(goal:60)594456 40226059
What I am looking forward to the most: Dessert! I am a sweets-a-holic but dessert wasn't in the budget most days. I love to bake so much, I Was happy that I got to make desserts twice this week but would have done much more! I also love a few Dove chocolates after dinner but those certainly weren't in the budget at almost 50 cents for a few little chocolates.

We always get pizza delivered on Friday night and we generally eat out at least one other meal each week. I didn't miss the food but I did miss the experience of choosing the pizza place, toppings, etc. and having a fun night with my husband. BUT the challenge helped my focus on just how lucky we are to afford that extravagance. We don't blink at spending $20-$30 on pizza. That's ONE MEAL for 2 people, which costs over 3 times a whole day's food budget for two people!

My thoughts on frugal eating:
Cut out meat and you're about 10 steps in front of everyone else when it comes to frugal eating! You always hear how expensive produce is but meat is the real dollar-hog. I got quite a few fresh fruits and veggies into my diet: apples, bananas, oranges, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, onions, cabbage, celery, lettuce (not including my free peaches and blackberries). But you also have to know where to get your protein when you cut out meat. You can see above that on several days I didn't make it up to the 60 grams of protein. Note to self-eat an egg at breakfast!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

SNAP Hunger Challenge-Day 7

Saturday-Day 7


Whipped banana oats 24¢
2 Tbsp peanut butter 12¢

We got up early today and I had time to make a favorite on-the-stove breakfast before yoga!

Sweet potato 41¢
salsa 11¢
black beans 26¢
large slice great harvest wheat bread 26¢
margarine 3¢
2 pineapple rings 22¢
1/2 banana 8¢

3 peanut butter sandwich cookies 72¢

Green Pea Pesto Pasta $1.32
nectarine 45¢
1 cookie 24¢

Total for the day: $4.46

Saturday, January 22, 2011

SNAP Hunger Challenge-Cookies

It's Girls Scout Cookie Season! But I LOVE to bake, why would I buy pre-packaged cookies? I decided to make my own Do-Si-Dos using this recipe. I used half butter and half margarine to save 40 cents. I made the cookies smaller than the recipe says so that I could have two cookies for one serving! So for me, this recipe made 18 cookies, the same number that are in a box of G.S. cookies. How did I come out dollar-wise? My recipe cost a total of $4.51 to make which is 24 cents per cookie. A box of cookies costs $3.50 or 19 cents per cookie. BUT even though I made mine smaller than the recipe said, mine were much bigger than those sold by the Girl Scouts. (Nearly twice the calories per cookie, this has GOT to be the only time that's a good thing!) I didn't make these from scratch to save money though. I knew if I made a small batch and ate only a couple that I could make them fit into my budget. When calculating the cost for the recipe, I noticed that if I had made a non-peanut butter cookie, my cost would have been MUCH lower so that could be a strategy to keep in mind for next time.

SNAP Hunger Challenge-Day 6

Friday-Day 6

1 cup cereal 20¢
1/2 cup milk 7¢
1 egg 16¢

Last of the Mexican style pasta bake leftovers (1 serving) 55¢
1 cup cauliflower 33¢
apple 33¢
3/4 cup cereal 20¢
1/2 cup milk 7¢


1/2 of a frozen pizza $1.25
lettuce salad 20¢
dressing 12¢
nectarine 45¢

Friday night is pizza night at our house and that usually means delivery! But tonight we made do with a frozen pizza. I could have had a quarter of a cheap delivery pizza and still been within budget but I didn't think that was really in the spirit of the challenge. You can't just buy a quarter of a pizza and a whole pizza would certainly be outside of a lot of people's budget.


Cereal 20¢

Total for the day: $4.13

Thursday, January 20, 2011

SNAP Hunger Challenge-Day 5

Thursday-Day 5

Maple Malt-o-Meal made with water 22¢

Leftover Mexican Style Pasta leftovers ( serving, made without chicken) 55¢
1/2 cup cottage cheese 51¢
orange 44¢

the last of the Bean and Sweet Potato soup leftovers 51¢
2 slices Great Harvest wheat bread 52¢
2 pineapple rings 22¢

My dinner switch earlier in the week messed with my plan. I was going to make Green Pea pesto with pasta but I already had pasta at lunchtime so I didn't want two pasta meals in one day. Instead, I had the last of the bean soup. That stuff is darn tasty!

Total for the day: $2.97

Talk about frugal!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

SNAP Hunger Challenge-Day 4

Wednesday-Day 4
Theme Day-Tex Mex!

Life Cereal 20¢
milk 7¢

Tortilla 43¢
beans (left over from bean and sweet potato soup) 51¢
lettuce 21¢
salsa 13¢
plain yogurt 15¢
cheddar cheese 23¢
banana 16¢

I made a tostada with an admittedly expensive La Tortilla Factory high fiber tortilla, bean soup drained of the liquid portion and some toppings. Very tasty!

Mexican Style Pasta (2 servings, made without chicken) $1.10
plain yogurt 20¢
apple 33¢
frozen vegetable 53¢
celery sticks 15¢

Tonight I made the pasta dish I had planned to make last night. Another recipe from previous hunger challengers, I think some of these might stay in my normal rotation!

Total for the day: $4.40

SNAP Hunger Challenge-Servings

Using recipes from previous participants is handy because it already gives the cost break-down per serving. But just as when you're trying to diet and you become aware of servings versus helpings (what you ACTUALLY take and eat), I had to be aware of how many servings I was eating.

And example is the Cabbage and Potato Casserole. I ate two servings of this dish (minus the bacon) so had to calculate that into the day's dollars.

An example of a packaged item that I had to be aware of was cereal. I eat dry cereal with milk most days for breakfast. Most cereals give servings in 3/4 cup but I always eat 1 cup so I had to do the math to figure out how many servings per box instead of going with the number given in the nutrition label.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

SNAP Hunger Challenge-Day 3

Tuesday-Day 3

Baked Oatmeal 45¢

I woke up before my alarm today so I had enough time after my workout to put some oatmeal in the oven to bake before hopping the shower!

Bean and Sweet Potato leftovers (2 servings) $1.02
banana 16¢
peach yogurt 50¢
baked oatmeal for dessert 45¢

That oatmeal is easily a dessert, almost like an oatmeal cookie!

1/2 can peas 59¢
1/2 cup cottage cheese 51¢
2 slices Great Harvest wheat bread 52¢
peanut butter 12¢
2 canned pineapple rings 22¢I had planned on making a pasta dish for dinner but lunch left me so full I just wanted something light. So I had a smaller dinner.

Total for the day $4.54

I went over! First day I've gone over my $4.50 allotment.

Monday, January 17, 2011

SNAP Hunger Challenge-Day 2

Monday- Day 2

instant oatmeal made with water 19¢
banana 16¢

Pasta 25¢
1/2 can Progresso veg soup 59¢
celery sticks 10¢
peanut butter (2 Tbsp) 12¢
orange 44¢

1 cup shredded wheat cereal 15¢

The beans took longer to cook than I had planned so I had to tide myself over with a little dry cereal!

DinnerPinto Bean and Sweet Potato Soup 2 servings $1.02
2 slices Great Harvest wheat bread 52¢
butter 11¢
apple 33¢

Dinner had me STUFFED! I love sweet potatoes and they made this dish delicious! I had to use cabbage instead of spinach in the soup because I thought I had a box of frozen spinach but I had used it a few weeks ago in a quiche. I bought day-old Great Harvest wheat bread at half price because bread is something I refuse to comprise on. That fluffy grocery store bread does NOT fill you up or have any heart healthy fiber in it. The remainder loafs on Tuesday are a bargain!

Total $3.98

SNAP Hunger Challenge-Day 1

Sunday-Day 1

1 cup Honey Nut Cheerios cereal 16¢
1/2 cup 1% milk 7¢

Typical breakfast for me is cereal (hot or cold) with an occasional egg on toast. All pretty frugal choices. I combine sales and coupons and never pay more than $2 for a box of cereal.

1 slice frugal pie 18¢

See my post about my super frugal free fruit pie!

Peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread 22¢
Apple 33¢
1/2 can peas 59¢

mini bag of popcorn 25¢

Needed a snack while we watched a movie!


Cabbage and Potato Casserole $1.58
Salad 20¢
Dressing 12¢
1 slice frugal pie 18¢
1 cup milk 14¢

Dinner's recipe was found via The Hunger Challenge blog, a version of the same challenge held in San Fransisco. It was quite tasty and filling! Mike even ate the other half!

Total for the day: $4.02

SNAP Hunger Challenge-Other Things

To start this challenge, I went out and bought some groceries. I planned my trip to the 48-hour sale at County Market. They were having some great specials and I also had coupons for nearly all items. I saved a TON, paying $50 on nearly $120 in groceries. But this made me realize that to get those coupons, you either have to get the paper (which costs money) or you have to have access to a computer with internet and a printer. So it costs money to save that money.

You'll notice I spent more than the SNAP allotment of $30 on groceries. That's not only because I decided to do daily totals instead of weekly, but also because I bought things that food stamps wouldn't pay for. Things like toilet bowl cleaner ($1.99 x2), dish detergent (2.99), laundry detergent (2.49), and toilet paper (4.99). But these are still things that everyone needs. And somehow recipients of SNAP have to figure out how to pay for them and I would imagine that some of that money comes from their initial food budget, therefore further necessitating SNAP assistance. One thing I learned is that the Eastern Illinois Food Bank accepts donations of toiletries, cleaning products and pet food to help with this.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Super Frugal Free Fruit Pie

How did I make a peach blackberry pie (to feed to company) fit into my budget? With free fruit! Back in the heat of summer, the peaches came from my neighbor's backyard and cost me nothing but the time and energy to blanch, peel, slice and bag them to store in the freezer. The blackberries are from my own backyard, washed, bagged and frozen. My fruit pies usually have a top crust but to make it more affordable I only made a single recipe of crust instead of double. The leaf cutouts on top are the scraps from the bottom crust.

butter 45¢
flour 17¢
margarine 5¢
sugar 36¢
salt 1¢
cornstarch 10¢
1/2 lemon for zest and juice 25¢
nutmeg 5¢

So the whole pie cost me a total of $1.44, or 18¢ per slice (an eighth of the pie).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

SNAP Hunger Challenge-Strategies

There are two ways I could go about attempting this challenge:
1-Use pantry items I already have on hand as well as some groceries and try to stay within the $4.50/day allotment.
2-Buy groceries with the week's total ($31.50) and ONLY use those items to create the week's meals.

I decided since SNAP is supplemental that I would allow myself to use pantry items because most families would already have some food in their kitchen to work with. Of course, I still calculated costs for all ingredients used.

The first thing you do when attempting to save money on food is eliminate meat. Already being vegetarian means I won't miss the meat! And I'm also fairly well-versed in alternative protein sources like dairy and beans. I browsed some recipes created by other participants of past challenges and found a lot of them were bean soups and filling casseroles, something I can certainly sink my teeth into! I plan to augment those with frozen and canned vegetables, a few fresh fruits and veggies and dairy products.

Friday, January 14, 2011

SNAP Hunger Challenge-Intro

In the coming week (Sunday-Saturday) I will be participating in the SNAP Hunger Challenge. I will be attempting to eat on $4.50 each day, the average amount that a person in Illinois gets in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This program used to be known as the food stamp program. (We were vacationing during the original September dates so I postponed it to January.) The main rules are:

* Spend no more than $4.50 per day, including beverages.
* Don't use food already on hand unless you deduct the value from your weekly amount. Salt and pepper don't count, but all other seasonings, cooking oils, condiments, snacks and drinks do.
* Don't accept food from family, friends, coworkers and others.
* Try to include fresh produce and healthy protein each day.

I will be posting daily and my posts will be cross-posted on the SNAP Hunger Challenge Blog.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Strength Training-The Female Body Breakthrough

At the beginning of this month I started The Female Body Breakthrough. I first heard about it from The Great Fitness Experiment blog, who seemed to really like it (for the most part).

This first post I saw about it was about the warm-up. And at first I was just going to do the warm-up before my regular workout because I really needed some new dynamic warm-up moves. But once I got the book in my hands, I wanted to try the whole program. (Minus the smoothies, gag!)

So far, I'm still on Level 1 (but will be adding the metabolic workout next week) and I'm loving it! I do miss my cardio and that totally-drained feeling after a good run that means you WORKED HARD but I can tell I worked hard at this because my muscles are getting firmer! And that's what I need now, not more cardio. I lost a lot of weight and I'm just going to say it....I'm saggy. So I really like that this plan works spots that are particular to women.

How much do I like it? I accidentally worked out this morning! I was scheduled to do workout B on Tuesday and workout A on Friday. I did Tuesday's, ran yesterday (just once a week now) and Oops! I did workout A this morning! Even though it means getting up a half an hour earlier because it takes me a good hour to complete the warmup + workout.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New addition

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen an announcement earlier this week. I put off blogging about it because we hadn't decided on a name for him! (We tried out Reuben but I called him kitty more than Reuben.) We sorted that out and here he is, Stewart, our new cat.He is a 2 years old Turkish Angora mix and was turned in to the Humane Society because he doesn't get along with other cats. But he's fine with dogs. Perfect! He's very laid back, is quite talkative and LOVES to watch birds (he does that crazy chittering sound ALL the time!).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 Goals

Here are my 2011 Goals!

Bumped up to the top of this year's list are the two holdovers from last year.

#1 Add I deep cleaning task each week to my cleaning schedule. I've made a list of tasks to add and my plan is to assign them each to a week in my calendar.

#2 Remember to send birthday cards. The dates are in my calendar and I'm going to make this a weekly task too! Each week, check the birthdays and mail out cards!

#3 Start recycling. This one I already started! I called out garbage company and set us up on their recycling pick-up list. I set up a station in the laundry room with one bin for paper and one for glass, plastic and metal.

#4 Add strength training to break my weight plateau. This is kind of an experiment. I am following The Female Body Breakthrough routine and severely cutting down my cardio until March when I will start training for a 10K.

#5 Volunteer once a month. I did this last year even though it wasn't on my 2010 goals list. This year I am making it official! I haven't found my January project yet but it might just be donating a couple of quilts. I have several tops made that just need to be quilted and bound.

#6 Pay off the credit card. It returns for another year! We paid it off in 2010, but then put the roof on it so we are going through the old routine again!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 Goal Review

2010 Goals End-of-Year Review

1. DONE Complete the St. Jude’s relay and donate at least $300.

2. DONE Keep track of all miles I run in 2010.

Total to 2010: 395.5 miles! My goal was one for each day of the year and I achieved that in November!

3. Donate 10 quilts/blankets to Project Linus.

4. Pay off our credit card.

We got the original amount paid off, then got the roof fixed so now we have a new goal for 2011.

5. DONE Earn the Silver Award in the President’s challenge.
DONE (4/29/2010)! I am 78% of the way to my Gold award!

6. DONE Enter 10 or more items in the county fair.
DONE! total of 17 entries!

7. Try something new like tap dancing, water aerobics or herding.

DONE:Got certified in CPR/First Aid (July), learned to do a cartwheel, took herding lessons with Sully (April, May), tried water aerobics (January), adult beginning ballet (August-November)

8. Grow only things I eat in the garden and eat what I grow.

Planted: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, leek, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach, beets, snow peas, carrots, radishes, cucumber, edamame, zucchini, yellow summer squash.

Ate: carrots, spinach, radishes, spinach, lettuce, snow peas, yellow squash, cucumbers, blackberries, raspberries, basil, chives, thyme

9. Visit family more often and remember to send birthday cards.

This one will be #1 on 2011's list! I didn't do so well.

10. Add I deep cleaning task each week to my cleaning schedule.

Another one that will get moved up on the list for the new year. I have my 2011 planner and will add a task to it in PEN for each week!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year, New Haircut!

My hair had gotten SO long! I could have used a haircut before out vacation in October, but didn't end up getting one.So I just got one! I sort put it off because I had no real idea what I wanted. I think my friend (who has cut my hair for some time) did a great job with the little input I gave (just past the shoulder, some layers). :)
Corgi content for all those needing a Corgi picture fix! He's sticking his tongue out for the camera, though!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's 5K

Run to the Finish helped organize a New Year Fun Run and offered up these resolution bibs for those of us NOT in Miami.I was SO HAPPY to be able to get outside and run, instead of on the treadmill! It has been so snowy and cold, well below freezing for much of December. But this week, all the snow melted and this morning it was 48 degrees!!! This picture was taken after and you can see Sully, who thinks it's his job to lick the sweat off of me. Gross, I know! It's worse when I wear shorts, it's a non-stop lick fest!

My time: 31:16

Weather: Overcast, light sprinkles for part of the run, wind around 20 mph

My Resolution: You can't read my bib but it says "Be calmly productive at home and at work" I need to work on letting small frustrations go and be more even-tempered.