Friday, March 30, 2012

Seriously?

via amazon

I had the chance to peruse Mark Sisson's The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation last month.  (It was one of those once in a blue moon trips to Barnes and Noble with the husband while on a weekend away.)  I think it is a great book and would love to own it.  Very well laid out with colorful pictures.  A little lighter reading than some of the science-y books, but still very informative.  I would at least like to borrow it from the library for the chance to read it cover to cover.

Too bad my library doesn't have it!

I requested it for library purchase last fall when it first came out.  I even went to the extent of requesting an interlibrary loan.  Months later, they still didn't have it and told me they couldn't find it anywhere to borrow!

Seriously?

Our library has every single other paleo/primal book I have been interested in.  Every single other book I have ever wanted, for that matter.  We have a great county library system.  We live in one of the top 50 wealthiest counties in the country and have the taxes to prove it (that by no means means that I am wealthy, however, just fyi) and yet the library does not have and cannot get that particular book for me?

Baffling, I tell you.

Anyways, if you want to get it for yourself, I recommend it, based on my limited time skimming it.

And if you want to lend it to me when you are finished, I would enjoy that.

Groceries! and a Paleo Budget Update

I went shopping today.  And we ate lunch at Costco before we shopped.  This time the kids and I shared a chicken caesar salad.  I was proud of myself.  It was mostly paleo - but not the dressing I am sure.  I ate most of the salad (but not the croutons), but the kids were still hungry (of course) so I bought them a churro and they split a sundae when we were finished shopping.  I have memories of getting orange juliuses and eating taco salad at the mall with my mom when I was little.  I guess lunch at Costco is our tradition :)

Here's my trip to Aldi:


Ha ha.  We went there first, so by the time I got home, I needed to get stuff put away asap.  Spent $55.  Why yes, those are organic blue corn tortilla chips.  Weekend treat.

And here is Costco:


Spent $76.

Some of the stuff I bought is being used for a project I am planning for others: some homemade sugar scrub.  So those ingredients are not counted in the food budget, they will be from the gift budget.

And to backtrack a bit, I stopped at Trader Joe's on Thursday for this stuff.


Spent $30 (over half of that was the maple syrup but it should last for 4 months).  I was bummed they were out of macadamias and were getting them in the next day, so I will go back sometime this week.  I will have to hold on to the trail mix ingredients until then.  Got some maple syrup and cocoa so we can make some homemade primal fudge.  Actually my husband already made some when I was working... that was nice to come home to!

And now for a March food budget recap that I promised you.  I did some tweaking to add money to the produce category and take from some others.  Looks like I may have to do this even further.  All in all, though, we did OK, I am happy with it.  (The negative numbers on the right show where we were over-budget.)  I estimate to include for tax, and I have to say I am pretty accurate.  That's why almost everything is a whole number.  Because I estimate and I like it that way.


Grocery Items
Weekly
Monthly
Current Month
Remaining





store-bought meat & fish
35.00
157.50
153.50
4.00
grass-fed beef
13.33
59.99
40.00
19.99
eggs
8.00
36.00
28.00
8.00
produce (fresh, frozen, & canned)
37.00
166.50
195.00
-28.50
nuts
6.00
27.00
22.00
5.00
almond butter
4.00
18.00
20.00
-2.00
raw milk
12.00
54.00
48.00
6.00
cheese
5.00
22.50
24.00
-1.50
butter, sour cream, & cream cheese
3.00
13.50
20.00
-6.50
olive oil
2.00
9.00
4.00
5.00
coffee & beverages
4.00
18.00
15.00
3.00
herbs & spices
4.00
18.00
26.00
-8.00





total
133.33
599.99
595.50
4.48


As for the other monthly spending categories (non-food and not shown here) we were under in some, over in others, but all-in-all only $1.39 over budget.  I'll call that a success :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Groceries: Paleo at Aldi

I spent $24 on Tuesday which should get us to the end of the week. Then, I will do a larger shopping trip to Costco or someplace to use up the rest of the grocery budget money for March... I'm a little amazed there is still some left, but I'll take it!

Here's what I bought at Aldi:


I think we'll have meatloaf for supper on Thursday.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekly Menu

Hello!

Well, I survived last week.  Sometimes, that feels like an accomplishment.  That is kind of lame to say.  I'm hoping this week will be more ordinary.  No huge grocery update this weekend.  We were gone for part of it.  I spent $14 at Aldi on Thursday, mostly on produce.  I will probably need to head to the store one more time this week before this month is over.

I don't have a full menu plan for the week, yet.  We didn't end up eating everything I had planned for the weekend, since we were traveling.  So, we will have some of those things to start out the week.


  • Tonight (Sunday) we will have cashew chicken, since the chicken is already thawed.  Perhaps some chocolate-almond-banana ice cream for dessert.
  • Tomorrow we can finish the chicken sausages and salad for lunch.
  • Hamburgers and coleslaw for supper on Monday.
  • Hot dogs (nitrate-free) or salami for lunch on Tuesday.
  • Asian-style salmon and broccoli bake for supper.
  • Snacks can be celery and almond butter.
  • Green smoothies or bacon & eggs for breakfasts.
  • Perhaps go to Aldi on Tuesday?
  • Turkey sausage and sweet potatoes for supper on Wednesday.
  • After that it is up in the air...


I am tempted to buy a ham since they are all on sale, but last time I told myself I wouldn't do it again.  We just don't love it and by the time you remove it from the bone, it is not that great of a deal, price wise.  Besides, it makes you so thirsty with all that salt.

I want to find some new recipes to try.  It's spring fever... ready for something new!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekly Menu


The plan for the week...


Breakfast:
choices--
homemade turkey sausage and roasted sweet potatoes
bacon
eggs
pineapple
grain-free pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
green monster smoothies (tweaked)

Lunch:
choices--
nitrate-free hotdogs
olive/mozzarella/grape tomato/salami skewers
veggie straws (I know these are not paleo.)
celery & almond butter
pineapple, bananas, or pears

Snack:
almonds & raisins

Dinners:
bean-less chili, salad x2
hamburgers with caramelized onions, salad
baked Asian-style salmon, broccoli bites (put broccoli bite ingredients altogether in a baking dish)
grilled sausages, sweet potato fries, paleo coleslaw
stir fried chicken & green beans with cashews

...I'm hungry now! :)


Random food for thought:  Anyone else find it ironic that the U.S. spends the smallest percentage of take-home pay on food than any other country, and yet spends the most per capita on healthcare than any other country?  Where would you rather spend your money?  If you had to do either-or, what would you choose, food or healthcare?  (I think it is pretty apparent what most people in this country have chosen.)

Linking this post up to Musings of Housewife!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Groceries: Payday Friday!

First, some mid-week shopping while out and about...

Aldi:

  • 5 lbs. bananas
  • chocolate chips (took to friends' house to make a dessert, which we did eat)

Total: $5

From Price Chopper, because on sale:

  • 1.25 lbs. ground beef (needed before Friday's Costco trip)
  • 8 lbs. frozen veggies (in 1 lb. bags) - 79 cents each, no limit
  • laundry detergent - $1.99  (For back-up, because I sometimes run out of the detergent I like, Charlie's Soap, before I can get more.)
  • no HFCS ketchup - 88 cents (We try not to eat much ketchup due to the sugar, but the kids do use some.)

Total: $13

And now the biggies... Friday's shopping trips to Costco and Aldi.




Total spent, pictured = $153.

I bought organic ground beef from Costco.  While I know it is not 100% grass-fed, I like knowing that it is a little "cleaner" than regular beef.  (I think ground turkey from Aldi was already in the freezer... so it's not pictured.)

I also spent $28 on non-paleo food that will be taken to church or shared with friends as gifts.  And I spent $6 on household items (zip-top freezer bags, kleenex, etc.).  Oh, and I bribed the kids to be good shoppers by getting lunch from the Costco snack bar when we were finished :)

So far, we are on track with the grocery budget in each category except for produce - that one will have to be adjusted.  I don't think we will use all our meat money, so that money will be transferred to the produce category.  This is a little weird putting so many details of what I've bought on here, but it will help me and maybe it will help someone else, too.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Want Coconut Oil?



Sign up for a vitacost coupon and get 54 ounces for $10.99 shipped.  Go here for the how-to.

I've not tried this brand before, but if I don't like it for cooking, I can always use it for slathering on skin as a body moisturizer (I hate using expensive stuff for that use anyways).

Monday, March 12, 2012

Groceries: Shopping Paleo at Walmart and Price Chopper

I like to pretend that the star after the word Walmart on their logo stands for an expletive.  Although it worked better when it used to be in the middle of the name... Wal*Mart!  I don't enjoy that place.  I went this evening to look for some craft/sewing supplies.  Of course they didn't have what I was looking for.  I decided to get some coconut milk (a good deal at $1.48/can), some unsweetened applesauce (handy for baking or "oh crap, what do I give the kids" emergencies... although I think it is sort of a useless food -- really, who does it fill up?), and some strawberries for smoothies (price matched to $1.29 in the Aldi flyer I took with me).  It never fails, something always annoys me, even if it is only being charged 30 cents more for the applesauce than the shelf was labeled.

Then we went to Price Chopper to get some chicken breasts on sale for $1.29/lb.  These kind of gross me out sometimes.  I use them as a cheap meat to fill in the blanks on our menus between the more expensive beef or fish dinners.  I wish we bought all of our chicken pastured, but that is so pricey and until I find a way to do that 100% of the time, we need some cheaper meals to balance out the more expensive ones.  That is one thing I do to try to keep the budget in check.  I also got some canned pumpkin.

$10 at Wal*Mart
$13 at Price Chopper


OK, I'll try to be in a better mood next time :)  Goodnight!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Paleo Grocery Budget - Itemized

I guess this should be labeled "primal" grocery budget, but whatever.  I thought it would be helpful for myself (and perhaps some others) to do a breakdown of the categories where I try to spend (and not spend) money.  This is a good time to do this since we will be revising and trimming our overall monthly budget in the next few weeks.

Background: We eat all meals at home, except for any we eat with friends (and then we usually contribute a portion of the food), while vacationing, or when husband works a weekend day (he may eat there).  So what I am saying, is that for the most part, this budget accounts for nearly 100% of our meals.  We have a family of 4.  We have 2 young children, but I would say that all 4 of us are active and have larger than normal appetites.  None of us eat delicately.  Seriously, people are amazed by how much my children eat.  Nonetheless, we don't mind simple food, as long as there is plenty of it :)

Total: our grocery budget is $600 monthly (precisely $133.33 per week).  I have an additional $50 allocated for household and medical items.  Sometimes this $50 goes towards toiletries, sometimes it goes towards other items like trash bags or bed sheets or a bulk purchase of coconut oil (every 6 months).  Preferably, I like to squeeze toiletries (deodorant, toothpaste, shampoos, etc.) into our $600 grocery budget, but sometimes I use the $50 household and medical allocation to cover these things.  Each month can be a little different, as I'm sure you know.  A little wiggle room is useful.

$600 is what our grocery budget goal has been ever since we started eating paleo.  Over the past year, sometimes we have been over-budget, a few times we have been under.  $600 seems like a lot to me when I compare it to our no-kids, non-paleo grocery budget from several years ago.  As we reassess our monthly allocations in the coming weeks, I hope to keep the grocery number the same, as it is already a challenge to remain within it.  I continually remind myself that you get what you pay for.  I'd rather spend my money on food than prescriptions, if given the choice.  When I look at it as feeding a hungry paleo person an entire week's worth of food (that is 21 meals plus snacks) for less than $35... then it doesn't seem bad at all.  Any less seems unreasonable to me without growing some of the food myself, which trust me, you do not want me to do.

Since most of my shopping is done on a weekly basis, that is how I am going to do the breakdown.  It will be more beneficial for myself that way, to see if I am on track.  Here we go.


Grocery Items
Weekly
Monthly



store-bought meat & fish
40.00
180.00
grass-fed beef
13.33
59.99
eggs
8.00
36.00
produce (fresh, frozen, & canned)
30.00
135.00
nuts
8.00
36.00
almond butter
4.00
18.00
raw milk
12.00
54.00
cheese
5.00
22.50
butter, sour cream, & cream cheese
3.00
13.50
olive oil
2.00
9.00
coffee & beverages
4.00
18.00
herbs & spices
4.00
18.00
total
133.33
599.99


These numbers include the approximate 9% tax rate on food in our area.

As you can see, we don't eat perfectly paleo all the time (if you didn't already know that).  This is what works for us right now.  I don't buy everything listed above every week.  For example, I don't buy $2 worth of olive oil each week.  But I figure I buy about $8-9 of it each month.  I'm not really sure how much we spend on store-bought meat, I just picked a number.  If we don't spend that on meat, I'm sure it gets spent on fruits and vegetables.  Since I've never made an itemized grocery budget before, I'm sure it will receive some tweaking!

Some weeks I may spend more than $133.33 :)  But I try to balance things out by the end of the month so it all comes out OK.  I will keep you posted for the rest of March and let you know how it goes!

Weekly Menu



I spent $26 on food at Aldi  on Thursday - canned salmon, eggs, ground turkey, and lots of produce.  Plus $7 on tulips for one child's teachers.  I might head to Price Chopper early this week to get some chicken on that is on sale.  I'm going to try to wait until next weekend to do a bigger shopping trip, likely involving Costco.  Let's see if we make it! :)

Breakfasts:
eggs
grain-free pumpkin muffins
almond banana pancakes
grapefruit
coconut milk smoothies

Lunches:
Spring break means I don't have to pack any lunches this week!  Woo-hoo!
turkey sausage & sweet potato hash -OR-
turkey salad (with leftover roasted turkey, celery, raisins, almonds), vegetable sticks & homemade ranch, fruit

Dinners:
finish the meatloaf & peas
salmon burgers, sweet potatoes, green beans x2
slow cooker BBQ beef, coleslaw x2
I'm thinking that cabbage will be on special starting on Wednesday (for St. Patrick's Day next weekend).  So, I'm planning on getting some at the end of the week to use in the coleslaw and soup.  I also like to shred it and freeze it (just like spinach) to toss in anything later where it will be cooked (like the soup - which my husband says he could eat every week.)

Trying to take it easy here this week... have a good one!

Linking up this post at Musings of a Housewife.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Groceries: Shopping Paleo at Aldi, Price Chopper, and Costco

Aldi: $61



If you like avocados, they are the best price ever - 19 cents apiece!  I got 15 and may go back for more. Other produce specials: roma tomatoes, broccoli, oranges, and grapes.  Some seafood specials, too: wild caught salmon and shrimp.

Yet again, I missed our grass-fed beef pick-up due to traveling.  I wish I knew someone else who ordered so they could pick it up for me!  Ugh.

One success: we were under-budget for food in February!  The short month helped :)

Price Chopper: $35
meat sale... got some things for this week and beyond
giant turkey breast
bag o' chicken breast tenders
pork loin chops
rump roast
red wine vinegar
thyme
ginger

Confession: The kids and I totally slummed it for supper last night and drove through McD's for supper on the way home from work before heading to Price Chopper... McDoubles, parfaits, and apple pies.  Usually we only do that sort of thing on a road trip.  I was kind of proud of my boy - he didn't want to eat any of it, except for a little yogurt!  Us girls unfortunately made up for it, though.

Costco: $65
Restocked on some staples like Kerrygold butter and raw almonds.
Also got sweet potatoes (this Costco didn't have the squash I like!), organic salad greens, Medjool dates, Tillamook cheddar, almond butter, bananas, and some (non-paleo and unhealthy) dark chocolate/blueberry/acai berry things for my husband.  Used the dates and almond butter for making some fudge babies tonight! :)

OK, now that the kitchen is cleaned up it's time to pull everything out again to make lunches for tomorrow!  :)  Have a good night!

Weekly Menu

I am feeling scholarly.  I just wrote my first research paper in a long time.  Thankfully, it was only 3 pages, so I don't know if that really counts as research.  But I had to look stuff up and list references!

On Friday, I made this stuffed pepper recipe and found it to be pretty decent.  We used 1 lb. ground turkey and extra veggies.  I found Mark's page on quick game-day appetizers (can't believe I somehow skimmed over it a month ago) while searching for an easy chicken skewers recipe. It has some good and truly fast and healthy ideas for jazzing up some finger food.  The chicken skewers were somewhat plain, but were a surprise hit with everyone (even though I used lemon juice instead of lime, only let them soak for 20 minutes, and did them under the broiler).  I gave the kids a little bit of dipping sauce ;)  -- no HFCS ketchup, soy sauce, mustard, & hot sauce whisked together.  We didn't have the shawarma chicken listed last week (crazy name, crazy good -if you like flava), so it is on the menu again.


Here is the plan for this week.  Holy links, here we go:

Breakfasts:
paleo banana bread
eggs & turkey sausage
fruit
orange juliuses (with just a bit of raw honey)

Lunch:
California club salad (greens, leftover chicken or turkey, tomato, cucumber, onion, avocado, perhaps sesame seeds, almonds, cheese, dressing, etc.)
-OR- chicken skewers
raw veggies and homemade sour cream ranch dip
fruit

Dinners:
baked Asian-style salmon, broccoli bites, salad
slow cooker turkey breast, roasted squash, salad
cumin spiced slow cook pork lettuce wraps x2
meatloaf, peas x2
shawarma chicken salad x2

Dessert/snacks:
macaroons
crispy almonds

Enjoy!
Grocery trips update coming soon.