Making Something from Nothing

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Tonight was one of those nights. I had a meeting at work until almost 5:30, hit traffic on my commute home, headed to my trainer for a workout, and finally got home a little after 8:00 – and I was HUNGRY!

I looked in the fridge and even though I just went shopping, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in there. That was on purpose. I have a terrible habit of overbuying things at the store, and as a result, I have been known to throw out a lot of food. Not only am I trying to get my health on track, but my hubby and I have been working really hard at keeping our finances on track as well. This means budgeting, and trying to make the most of every dollar. We went through all of the cabinets over the weekend and took inventory of what we have, decided to donate some of the things we know we won’t use, and organize things so we can find them.

What I did have was the rotisserie chicken I bought at Costco the other day – cut up into pieces. I also had half of a red onion, some garlic, a few sundried tomatoes, feta cheese, frozen broccoli, and frozen brown rice. Oh yes…I can do something with this.

I sautéed the onion and garlic in a little bit of olive oil while I rehydrated the sundried tomatoes in hot water. Then I drained the tomatoes and added them to the olive oil. While all this was going on, I microwaved the rice and the broccoli. I added some black pepper, crushed red pepper, and oregano, then tossed in the broccoli and rice. The last thing I added was a little sprinkle of feta.

This is what I wound up with. Seems like I’ve been making a lot of veggie-infused rice lately, huh?? ūüôā

I heated up a piece of the rotisserie chicken, put it on a plate with some of the rice, and dinner was on the table (so to speak) in a matter of about 10 minutes. Quick, inexpensive, and healthy. Can’t beat that!

Have you ever made something from nothing for dinner?

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What does budgeting have to do with all this?

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As I’m focusing on the new healthier me, I’m not just working on getting fit physically but also financially. ¬†I’m working my way through Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey. ¬†One of the major things he talks about is using a budget. ¬†What I’m finding is that my learning about finances is having a real effect on the rest of my life as well.

I was really thinking about this last night. ¬†In the FPU classes, Dave says (can’t remember who first said it) that with a budget you tell your money how to behave rather than sitting back and wondering where it all went. ¬†When you think about it, it’s the same way with time. ¬†If you don’t plan your time well, you will be at the end of the day with an undone to-do list and the time is all gone. ¬†If you don’t plan your meals well, you’ll be doing the “fridge stare” at dinner time with no idea what to eat and wind up resorting to high-fat, high-calorie, high-priced takeout.

As far as the money goes, I’m working on that. ¬†Going on a zero-based budget where every dollar “has a name before the month begins” and not being able to spend over that is tough. ¬†Dave does say that it takes a few months to get used to, so I’m okay with that. ¬†I nearly panicked yesterday when I went $23.55 over my pet budget yesterday because I stocked up since the dog and cat food I usually buy was on sale. ¬†I even texted my husband and said, “Do you think Dave would be mad? With the sale and coupons I saved over $22.00, and it only goes until 2/27. Plus, it’s two months worth…” I have to adjust the rest of my budget to account for that little splurge, but next month I will have a little extra money to put toward paying things off.

I figure it’s the same way with eating. ¬†Every once in a while you’re going to have an unplanned splurge, but as long as you really stay on track the rest of the time you’ll be okay. ¬†With time, you may spend a little bit of time hanging out on Facebook, but as long as you get your real work done (including your workouts) you’ll be okay.

One thing that has helped me with the eating thing and avoiding the “fridge stare” is a site called E-Mealz. ¬†Dave recommends it as a budgeting tool, but it actually helps with the budgeting of both money and food. ¬†The basic idea is that for $5 per month, each week E-Mealz comes up with a new menu that includes 5 recipes and a shopping list. ¬†They have plans for low-fat, low-carb, gluten free, and Weight Watchers Points/PointsPlus. ¬†They also have plans for couples and for families. ¬†One of the main problems I used to run into was that it’s hard to cook for just two of us. ¬†I’d wind up making a huge meal, eat too much, and have tons of leftovers that sometimes got used and sometimes got thrown out. ¬†I don’t even want to think about how much food got wasted in this house because I didn’t plan well. ¬†I hated throwing food away because I knew it was just like throwing money away, too. ¬†This was my first week using the E-Mealz plan. ¬†I signed up for the Weight Watchers menu for 2. ¬†I took my shopping list to the store and spent about $65 – my old bill would have been well over $100. ¬†I did have to go back once for something I forgot, but that was rather inconsequential. ¬†There will be times when I need to replenish staples (rice, flour, etc.) so it will be a bit more. ¬†I still saved a bundle, and I had enough for 5 dinners. ¬†All of the recipes so far have been very good, and simple to prepare. ¬†They all take about 30 minutes or so and don’t require a whole lot of skill. ¬†I love to cook, and I have to say I’m generally quite good at it, but this could be handled by just about anyone. ¬†This week’s menu was a little bit rice and chicken heavy, but my husband was thrilled about that. ¬†We have had the Red Beans and Rice with Turkey Sausage, Apple-Pecan Pork Chops, Island Chicken, and Honey Mustard Chicken so far. ¬†Each meal includes some kind of veggie (either hot or as a salad), and I’ve been trying to include a salad every night anyway. ¬†Tonight’s dinner is Country French Chicken & Vegetables. ¬†Some recipes provide leftovers, and others incorporate things used partially in the beginning of the week. ¬†So far everything has been delicious, and it has saved me time and money. ¬†I hate to sound like an advertisement, but I do like sharing things that I’ve found to be helpful. ¬†I’ll keep you posted on how this is going, but so far, so good!! ¬†Click on the button below to find out more info.

Do you budget?  How does it work for you??

E-MEALZ EASY AND DELICIOUS DINNER RECIPES