Monday, April 23, 2012

Healthy Shopping on a Budget

I started Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover plan in late November, hoping to clear out all debt and to get a really good chunk into savings. Part of that plan requires you to put your money into envelopes, which helps you to budget each item accordingly. For instance, we have an envelope for food, one for fuel, and one for entertainment. Once that amount is gone, we are done. I was really interested to see what would happen to our budget when I cut out all the processed foods and started buying local meats and cheeses as well as ingredients for making my own breads, cereals, trail mixes, etc. From what I can tell, it is going to end up costing us about $100 more a month to eat this way. That's just a little over $3 a day - the equivalent of one of those fancy Starbucks drinks - so I think we can handle it.

On Sunday, after church, I stopped at Shop n Save to do a little grocery shopping.

Here is what I got:

Meats: Jennie O brand 99/1 Lean Ground Turkey breast (not local), 96/4 Lean Ground Beef (The butcher promised me this was from a farm within 50 miles), Whole chicken (from an Amish farm)

Cheeses: Delallo sliced provolone (local), Hillandale mozzarella, Lite Ricotta cheese

Produce: Organic green pepper, bananas, Fresh basil, Fresh green beans, Green leaf lettuce, Grape tomatoes

Other: 2 dozen Hillandale Farms eggs, Delallo organic whole wheat lasagna noodles, Triscuits, AkMak crackers, 2 boxes of Gia Russa whole wheat pasta, 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, 3 packs of toilet paper

With these items, I will be making:

Breakfasts:  My go to meal is usually eggs and sauteed peppers.

Lunches: Lunches, for me, are typically sandwiches (I still have Ezekiel bread left in my fridge but I am going to work on making bread myself soon) or leftovers from the night before. I also have whole wheat pasta available, should I choose to go that route. I'll also have homemade soup here, starting on Thursday.

Dinners: Whole wheat banana pancakes for Tuesday, a whole chicken in the crockpot for Wednesday, Leftover chicken (probably on salads) for Thursday, Chicken soup for Friday, and Lasagna for Saturday and Sunday.   The ground turkey breast and ground beef will be frozen and used next week.

 Snacks: Triscuits with tomato, basil and mozzarella, AkMak crackers, as well as lots of fresh fruit already in my fridge from my last trip.

My grand total for this trip was.....


Not too shabby if you ask me....

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Live and learn...

I posted on a board I frequent asking for suggestions on side dishes to serve with tonight's dinner of Tomato, Ham, and Mozzarella Ciabatta. After some going back and forth, I decided on making a fresh fruit salad. Then, someone popped on to ask why I was eating ham since it's processed.

I haven't even thought about the fact that ham was a processed form of pork. I had even gone the extra step to buy my ham from a local source. Fiscally, I was being smart by using my Easter leftovers for the first few days of this challenge. I even had some for dinner last night. Smart financial sense but a dumb move when it comes to this new journey.

I guess that is the point of the 10 day challenge though, right? To learn HOW to eat without relying on processed foods. We will still be having the ham tonight which should finish up the last of the leftovers but now that I have this new awareness, I won't be buying any more ham or deli meats.

Although I feel a bit deflated that I screwed up so early in the challenge, I am so grateful for this lesson.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Trading in convenience for health - My journey.

Recently, I have been hearing a lot about the 100 Days of Real Food blog.

For those who haven't heard about it, basically, in 2010, a woman named Lisa Leake vowed to go 100 days without eating a single ounce of processed or refined foods. She included her husband and 2 kids on this plan. After reading her blog, as well as several articles about the dangers of processed foods, I was more or less convinced that this was something I needed to try as well. 100 days; however, is a long time and requires more commitment than I feel I can give at this moment. Luckily, on her blog, she has a shorter 10 Day Pledge, which I think will be totally do-able for me.  After that is over, I may continue it or I may say "forget it" and load my pantry back up with boxes and bags. No matter what I decided to do, I think the awareness gained during this 10 days will make it all worthwhile.

In anticipation of this 10 day challenge, I figured I should remove the temptations to ensure my success. I have made a sizeable donation to Scouting For Food including lots of canned pastas (see ya, Chef Boyardee!), an insane amount of Knorr Sides, and even a few of my precious cans of soup. I did keep a few cans of my Campbell's Select Harvest, just in case I hate this non-processed food thing and really want to consume some xanthan gum. Or maybe if I would decide that I was no longer concerned with the dangers of BPA from canned foods.  Or, maybe I will think that consuming over half of my recommended sodium intake for the day in one meal is the way to go... (Yes, I plan to reread this initial blog if I decide to be done with this challenge and figured maybe my healthy self could convince my addicted to processed foods self to make an educated choice.)

I also stocked my pantry with whole wheat flour (This will have to do until I can afford to buy my own grinder), yeast, natural peanut butter, Triscuits, tons of fruits and veggies, and the ingredients for my planned out meals for the next week. I will go back to the store on Saturday to buy the things needed for the last few days of the challenge. As my faithful readers know, I am a big fan of meal planning! See my meal planning blog post here.

This afternoon, as things were winding down from our Easter celebration, I took advantage of the calmness, to prep some Breakfast Casserole Bites. I used 4 whole eggs and 4 egg whites instead of 8 whole eggs and then instead of the breakfast sausage/bacon, I threw in some ham. What a great way to use up some of those pesky leftovers. *wink* Because I was using a mini-muffin pan, I was able to make 24 smaller bites with the same amount of ingredients as listed on the website.


I even grated my own cheese. This is HUGE for me....
Going into the oven:

15 Minutes Later:

Tomorrow is the big day and I'm so excited to start. I know a few of you on my Facebook page are trying it as well. Be sure to check in as often as you can so we can share stories, swap recipes, and learn from this process together.