Marvelous in my Monday #2

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Happy Monday!

I spent most of my weekend sleeping…stupid cold! I’ve been taking Emergen-C, trying to drink orange juice (doesn’t really agree with my stomach), and trying to rest up. I have been running myself ragged for the last few weeks with my new job, so I’m not surprised that the icky germs finally took hold and knocked me out!!

I got out for a while on Saturday night to help some dear friends celebrate their new home – it’s such a cute, cozy place and I’m sure they will enjoy many years there! We had a great time – drank some wine, ate some yummy food, and laughed the night away!

With all this, I did manage to get some laundry done, and of course I went grocery shopping! My goal for this week was to make it out of the store spending less than $100. I did it! I spent $90.03 and I got all this stuff…

I think that’s pretty good for a little over $90! I used half of the beef to make stew using my favorite recipe from Mark Bittman last night (yummy!). I just do the “regular” recipe, but last night I used garlic infused grapeseed oil to cook the beef. It smelled soooooooooo good in my kitchen!! Of course I have mushrooms, greens, and mixed veggies to make my favorite funky fried rice! The turkey will most likely become chili later in the week, and the chicken will get grilled for salads. I always buy a few different kinds of salad greens – this week was baby spinach, romaine, and a baby arugula mix. I typically have at least 10 Greek yogurts on hand (one for each of us for each day), and I bought some baby cucumbers for snacking. There’s just something refreshing about cucumbers!! I found a new Thai Tomato Coconut soup that sounded interesting, and given my current situation (sick with a cold!!) soup sounded really good to me yesterday. That will probably wind up being lunch tomorrow.

I had another busy day today, but enjoyed a lunch meeting with some colleagues this afternoon at Le Pain Quotidien. I’m sorry now that I didn’t take pictures, but it would have been pretty awkward! Only one of them knows about this blog, and I didn’t think it was really an appropriate time or place to explain! I had gazpacho – which I usually don’t like. I felt like having soup, but the only other option was lentil and I wasn’t in a lentil kind of mood today. The gazpacho was really fresh – and came topped with a few chunks of avocado and a drizzle of basil olive oil. It was delicious as well as pretty! I also had a warm Moroccan chicken salad that had spiced chicken with harissa (a paste of chilis, garlic, herbs, spices, and olive oil), chickpeas, and arugula. It was different from anything I had ever had before, but it was really good! I washed it all down with some green tea, which felt really good on my sore throat.

Well, that’s about it for my MIMM post for this week! Hope everyone else is having a Marvelous Monday! Thanks again to Katie at Healthy Diva Eats for hosting! Have a great week!

What is your comfort food when you’re not feeling well?

Any ideas for how to get rid of this (stupid!!!) cold faster?

Lazy Dinner…

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We all have nights where we really don’t feel like cooking. There are even those nights when take-out is too much trouble. Besides – take-out usually equals too much fat, too much sodium, and too much guilt afterward!! I had one of those nights last night, so I decided to go through my pantry and see what I could find… (You’ll have to excuse my lack of pictures – I wasn’t thinking blog post as I was doing this!!)

I found a bag of vegetable radiatore pasta, a can of artichoke hearts, a jar of roasted peppers, a jar of manzanilla olives, 2 cans of water-packed tuna, a can of chickpeas, a jar of capers, and some vinaigrette. BOOM! Dinner! I boiled the pasta, chopped up the artichoke hearts, roasted peppers and a few olives, drained the chickpeas and tuna, took a couple of tablespoons of capers (drained), and a little of the vinaigrette and tossed it all together to make an AMAZING pasta salad! I also happened to have a little chunk of smoked mozzarella in the fridge, so I cut some into tiny cubes and sprinkled them over the top when I served it.  Quick, cheap, and healthy! Of course you could use whole wheat pasta (which I also had – but I just thought the veggie pasta was pretty!!), add whatever other veggies and stuff you want to. It was a definite hit in our house.

There’s always something healthy hanging around in the pantry…sometimes you just have to be creative to make a meal out of it!

What are some of your favorite pantry staples? Do you have any “toss it all in” recipes that you come back to often for a quick dinner?

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