Clean Eating – Full of Surprises!!

So y’all know we embarked on a clean eating journey starting a couple of months ago. We’re really enjoying a cleaner way of eating!! We’re learning as we go…trial by error… We aren’t looking to be extreme about it, instead we’re making better choices more often. I’ve been finding some of the most outrageous recipes online…weirdo stuff…at least to us. I don’t think it has to be all that difficult. More like the simpler the better!! But…I am learning a whole bunch of good stuff while researching online too. Sometimes it still amazes me how much great info is out there to be had!!

We have been surprised at how much less real food we’re eating than we were of the processed stuff. One of the books I read, sorry I can’t remember exactly which one, said that our bodies crave real food and our brains are smart enough to know when we aren’t getting it, thus making us hungry again and again until our bodies get the nutrients we need. I don’t pretend to understand the science behind it but if what we’re experiencing is any indication there just might be some truth to it.

We have actually been able to decrease our food budget while buying more veges, only the best cuts of meat and all whole grains. I was hoping to keep our budget the same, I never imagined it could go down!! One of the easiest ways to keep the cost down is cooking at home, besides, that’s the only way we can know whats really going into our food…if you think about it… Anywho, when I cook something I make a whole bunch at once. Saves a lot of time too which is a huge plus when nearly everything is made from scratch. If I didn’t I’d be spending all of eternity in the kitchen!! That’s a total deal breaker for me. I like to cook and all but I have other things to do too!! For example the other night I made a huge batch of chili. We had chili and cornbread (from a box, I haven’t tried it from scratch yet) for supper. Then I divided the leftovers between tupperwares for the freezer, some for chili mac and others for chili over baked potatoes. One batch of chili will provide at least 5-6 suppers for us over time. Not bad for browning some hamburger and dumping everything else in the crock pot to simmer all afternoon. Great time saver, easy on the budget and a great way to spread out 1 pound of hamburger!! I’ve made spaghetti sauce, granola, roast beef hash, broccoli cheddar soup and an asian inspired chicken salad in bulk for us to either freeze for later or eat on for a whole week of lunches.

Another budget saver is making the absolute most out of everything, waste not want not. I save every scrap from cleaning veges. It may seem extreme…Chris thinks I’ve lost my mind…it’s ok…it’s like a game to me now… I save all my peelings and trimmings in a gallon bag in the freezer. That way when it’s time to make chicken stock I have all my veges ready to go without using good veges that are going to have to be thrown away in the end anyway. Last week I was able to take 3 good size chicken breasts and make 2 batches of chicken stock for the freezer, a chicken pasta that we had for 2 suppers and 2 lunches, then a couple huge chicken salads and still enough chicken left over to try out a new recipe using quinoa for the first time. No waste!!

The newest tid bit of wisdom that I just gleamed from the internet is how to grow veges at home from the scraps you normally throw away while cleaning veges. Say what?!?! Oh YES!! Those green onions that are so fabulous in any number of different kinds of salads or all on their own… We trim the roots off the onions every time we clean these babies to eat, right? Silly me, I’ve been throwing these in the freezer for my stock collection…not anymore!! These are going directly into a glass of water for those roots to sprout!! Once the green onion starts to regrow simply leave in the glass of water being sure to change the water every couple of days or plant your new roots in a pot in the kitchen to harvest whenever the need arises. Then rinse and repeat!! How amazing and ummm FREE!! So guess what my new project is?? Oh Hell Yeah!! I already have some garlic that’s sprouted and is ready to be planted. I’m definitely going to have some green onions too and I’m going to give romaine lettuce a go too!! All inside with my beautiful herb garden!!

As for the outside garden…I’m lucky enough to have a patio at our new Mini. A very very small patio but a patio nonetheless!! We’re still debating on exactly how to do the garden though. I’ve found some stackable planter pots that will allow me to have more of a variety of veges while only taking up a little space…but they won’t hold all veges, just some. I also have an abundance of rubber totes that I could use to plant in…bonus being their FREE!! Another option was suggested to us today of buying a kiddy pool to hold our whole garden. The pool would take up the majority of my patio area which could make it very difficult to plant or weed… I need to get cracking on whichever option I decide to go with… Suggestions?? Ideas?? HELP!!

We’ve made a lot of great progress in moving our way of eating to more real foods and less processed but we still have a way to go. I’ve nearly kicked the soda habit and now enjoy coffee, water or iced tea instead. We are hoping to switch over to homemade bread next month since finding true wheat bread without all the extra crap is impossible at the store. If only a good, cheap bread maker would find its way to me!!

Now that I’ve bored y’all with food stuff next post will be the craft projects I’ve finished up – full of pictures!!

With Much Love

Kristy

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New Mini – Here We Come!!

DSCF1133Yesterday was my last loving day at our old Mini. Hard to say good-bye but we’re so stinkin excited about our new home. It helped the transition tremendously to meet the new Managers. They’re going to take good care of the Mini and her tenants, I just know it!! Now I don’t have to worry about the old Mini, she’s in good hands, and I can bathe in the excitement of our new Mini!! Next week we start making her our own and getting her up to our standards. A lot of hard work ahead but we’re looking forward to it!! Gotta get this butt movin again!!

We saw the final plans for the apartment remodel and I just can’t believe it. The design and upgrades are something this girl had only dreamed of before. They’ve thought of everything. They are giving us a home not just an apartment. Somewhere we can be more than comfortable and be proud to call ours. Demo has already begun and it’s down to the bare bones. I’m sure it’ll start looking like something resembling a home again soon.

In the meantime we’re in a lovely hotel with a little kitchenette. It’s very reminiscent of the RV days but with more room and all the modern conveniences, so not at all like our RV days at all!! TeeHee!! Cooking on a couple of burners without an oven, waiting for the water to boil, having such a small working area – that’s where the deja vu comes in. I guess the blessing is that I’ve done this before so I can easily adapt and besides we’ll be in the new fabulous apartment before we even know it!!

Short and sweet today… I’m off to do some coloring with my new Sharpies in my new Mandalas coloring book – Thank You Aunt Judy!!!

With Much Love

Kristy

Healthy Eating on a Budget…Possible??

It’s no secret that New Orleans is known for its vast food selections. Where else can you get excellent seafood, cajun food and real southern cookin within walking distance?? People are very serious about their food here…Very Serious!! But it isn’t exactly what one would consider the healthiest of selections…at least not on a day in day out basis. Fried chicken has its place in the diet, every once in a while, but around here it’s a staple. Ok, let’s be honest – fried anything and everything is the norm here. A big salad with all the trimmings…roasted veges…boneless skinless chicken breasts – Rare and Super Expensive. But you can go into the convenience store and get a 3ft long Po’ Boy for $9.99 any day of the week. Never mind the things in the grocery store that I’ve never heard of…don’t know what to do with…and really don’t want to learn – just being honest.

Every where we have lived the cost of food has varied, some better some worse. But we’ve always been able to make adjustments here and there to have a good variety of a relatively healthy menu. Here…well…it’s been very very difficult. A couple of months ago I threw us head first into the low carb lifestyle. It was great!! New recipes to try. Weight loss. More energy. Freedom to eat bacon. What could go wrong?? The grocery budget!! It skyrocketed to $800 for the month. Our paycheck doesn’t allow for an $800 food budget…healthy or not it just ain’t there.

So what to do?? We can’t sacrifice our savings to stay on low carb but we have to eat something and I insist on it being as healthy as possible… I went back to the internet for ideas and it lead me to looking up healthy recipes that are easy on the wallet. Guess what I found… Article after article – recipe after recipe that was healthy and inexpensive so long as you made it from scratch. I like to make a lot of things myself versus buying the pre-made stuff. I don’t know what all they put in there and we usually like the way mine tastes better anyway. Perfect example is marinara/spaghetti sauce…so much cheaper to make at home, the left overs freeze beautifully and it’s all natural without all the added sugar. WIN WIN!! Besides for making it from scratch the other side of the coin is to eat the correct portion size. Concept!! If I make a lasagna from scratch and we eat half the dish for dinner and the other half for lunch the next day the cost of the meal is really high. But if we eat the correct portion size the same lasagna will stretch twice as far and significantly cut the cost even with adding a side salad to balance the meal out which is a much healthier option anywho!!

Buying in bulk while meats and even frozen veggies are on sale is a great way to cut the food bill. But while we’re in hurricane season we just can’t keep a full freezer. When the chance of us being out of power for a few days up to a few weeks is very likely it just isn’t wise to stock up even when the sales are good. So for a few more months we’ll be keeping our ‘inventory’ to a 2 week max but once the season is over stocking up is ON. I’ll also be able to make huge batches of soups, chili, stews and casseroles to split – one for now one for the freezer – to help cut down the amount of time spent in the kitchen that making everything I possibly can from scratch will take.

I do realize what a huge undertaking this is going to be. It’s going to be a lot of planning, a lot of shopping around, a lot of time in the kitchen and probably a lot more Tupperware… I like a good challenge though and I have a little bit of a competitive nature in me… So I’ve issued this challenge to myself for September – NO eating out. Cook all meals myself with as much from scratch, no packaged pre-made stuff. Stick to REAL portion sizes. AND do it all within a $400 budget for the month. And as a bonus loss weight in the process…

Any recipes ideas…budget saving tips…tricks… PLEASE send em my way!! I’ll keep y’all posted on how the budget’s going and what goodies I’m cooking up!! There’s sure to be a lot of new recipes being tried out this month… I’m excited for the challenge!! It’s just another type of adventure but an adventure all the same!!

With Much Love

Kristy