So what if it is the dead of winter and the ground is covered with frost (or even snow in some places)! All it will take is one sip of this piña colada smoothie to remind you of the warmer weather that is yet to come. And it couldn’t be any easier to make with only two simple ingredients. If you don’t have a fun silly cup like the one pictured (which I saved from a work event years ago) then pick up some of those cheap drink umbrellas to put you in the mood. Why not?
Archives for January 2011
I honestly can’t believe it. For 100 days our family of four (pictured) survived on real, fresh, whole, organic, local, non-processed food for less money than we would have if we were on food stamps. At times, I truly doubted that this could be done. For only $125/week we repeatedly enjoyed fresh local milk (which was delivered directly to our house) and food from both the local farmers’ market as well as (what some would consider to be) an upscale health food store, Earth Fare. It’s not to say that there weren’t some (okay, maybe lots of) sacrifices, but we somehow found our way in the “tight” budget world and more than survived. As a reminder, and especially for those that are new here, check out the ten reasons why we cut out highly processed food in the first place (no matter the cost). And I would also love to remind everyone about some of the benefits we’ve personally experienced since changing our diets at the beginning of 2010…
Our final week is coming to a close so this could very well be my last little bullet point list of all my groceries! I plan to keep blogging though…I am just not quite sure what the frequency will be yet. Speaking of, if you have any topic ideas that you would love to hear about please let me know by leaving a comment below. I’ve already gotten some great ideas from the Facebook fans, which is quickly turning into a growing list of things that I plan to tackle once this is over. Anyway, as I previously mentioned I did most of my shopping for this week on Tuesday when we were on our way home from the airport. Not only were we fresh off the plane (it was just me alone with my 3-year-old and 6-year-old by the way…my husband was on a separate business trip), but I was also trying to squeeze in a quick trip to Earth Fare AND the bread store before taking my daughters to their weekly gymnastics class. This was all before we even made it home to drop off our luggage. A case of an overplanned mom? Absolutely. It was very much one of those days.
I can’t believe it. This is my last full week of only having $125 to spend on groceries! And just to clarify, we will absolutely still be on a budget when all of this is over. I will probably just give myself a slight increase…maybe around $150 a week. And I do think the extra $25 will make a big difference. Plus I won’t be “charging” myself for items out of our freezer that were purchased pre-budget, and I will no longer be reporting out on every single food item that I buy…so overall I am looking forward to feeling a lot less pressure! And I do hope 100 days was a long enough period of time for people to realize that this absolutely can be done. Anyway, back to our final week, although I should probably wrap up last week first. As I previously mentioned I pretty much spent our entire food budget last week at Earth Fare prior to a big snowstorm that hit Charlotte. And with those groceries we managed to stick to our original dinner plan, which included the pictured chicken nuggets and baked purple sweet potato fries with homemade honey mustard…yum. My total spend last week came to $124.09 and this is how it was divided up…
I tried this recipe for the first time last weekend, and I cannot believe how incredibly easy it is to make. Not to mention soups freeze beautifully so you can double the recipe and prepare this meal even more easily by pulling it out of your freezer on a busy weeknight. It goes well with whole-wheat biscuits, which can also be made and frozen in advance. I do want to give you a fair warning though that our children did not like this recipe for some reason…but the adults loved it so much that we thought we should share it anyway!
So here we are with only 13 days left of our real food on a budget project. I haven’t stopped shopping at Earth Fare (which some people think is expensive), and I most definitely have not stopped ordering our unbelievably fresh and delicious local ($30 a week) milk either. And I can’t help but notice…has this project failed in any way shape or form? Here we are successfully buying organic, local, whole grain, non-processed foods for a family of four on less money than we would get if on food stamps. Granted we have some wonderful resources at our disposal like plenty of places to shop for food, some decent cooking skills, and plenty of kitchen tools. And I will be the first to admit that I’ve been frustrated (and broke) at times, and we’ve had to cut down on our meat consumption as well as our “desserts” (which were just about cut out all together). The point though is that we’ve not overspent even by a penny and we’ve not starved ourselves and we’ve by no means had to compromise by eating highly processed cheap crap to stay within budget. It may be too soon to celebrate, but I can’t help but wonder how many people doubted that this could even be done??? So on that note…here’s what I’ve been doing with our $125 this week. Our area of North Carolina got hit with a pretty big snowstorm early Monday morning so I actually went out and spent almost my entire weekly budget on groceries the night before the storm.
It was slightly embarrassing, but I had to return the only unopened grocery item I had on hand to be able to “afford” a main ingredient for our dinner on Friday. Sure, you could say it was poor planning on my part, but regardless I desperately needed a butternut squash and only had two bucks left. So after a little brainstorming session with myself I came up with a plan to get more money. And I was thrilled to see that one of the more expensive items ($5.99 bag of brown rice) that I purchased from Earth Fare earlier in the week was still unopened! After I made the return I was armed with a whopping $8 and change, which allowed me to get the few things I needed. So I bought the squash and some cilantro for the recipe, a few bananas, and a very small amount of rolled oats (which we were out of and I often need to make oatmeal for my daughters). I went home and in no time at all made the pictured squash peanut soup (topped with cilantro) along with some biscuits, and it turned out so delicious! The best part was that the soup was super easy to make (my favorite kind of recipe…yummy AND easy!) although our kids did not like it one bit. This shocked us because we were all but licking our bowls, but I plan to post and share this recipe soon anyway because of how much we adults loved it.
I have to admit that the holiday break from school gave me a much-needed break from preparing tree nut/peanut-free, real food, budget-friendly school lunches for my kindergartner every night. I truly don’t know why I feel that packing a lunch is such a pain when I would at some point be making lunch for my daughter regardless if she were at school or not! I guess it’s just the transportability and nut-free aspects that really put me over the edge sometimes. So, as promised, here is a follow up to the school lunch post I did awhile back with some new ideas and pictures. Coming up with these ideas feels like a struggle on most nights, but I of course eventually (have to) think of something to pack for her!
Long ago I had a goal to try at least one new recipe a week. I did okay with this for a while, but then I quickly fell off the wagon shortly after we cut processed food. I of course still try a lot of new recipes, but there have been plenty of weeks where it seems like too much effort to select and make something new. It is just so easy to stick to a simple rotation of dinners that you know your kids will eat. Our typical rotation goes something like this… quesadillas (or anything that resembles a quesadilla and gets wrapped up in a tortilla with cheese!), quiche, some sort of pasta dish, pizza, and any kind of breakfast for dinner. I made a few 2011 New Year’s resolutions and once again I am going to try to go back to one (totally) new recipe a week! So I started off with a bang this week by making a vegetable that we hadn’t eaten in so long that my girls didn’t even know what it was…asparagus. I’ve mentioned before how important I think a child’s “first impression” is of a new food so the pressure was on for me to make some super appealing asparagus. After a little brainstorming session with our Facebook fans (thank you!) I was torn between all of the great ideas. So I ended up making asparagus 3-ways, and it actually turned out to be the perfect way to introduce something new to our kids.
I don’t know if I’ve been living under a rock or what, but I just sort of realized that it is tradition (for good luck) to eat Black-Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day. I heard a friend mention it last year and then a few months ago our 5-year-old got a library book about this very topic (don’t you love it when your kids’ books teach you something!). So anyway, after reading this book my daughter was adamant about us eating black-eyed peas this year, and even though I am not a bean fan there is something to be said for tradition. So I granted her wish by buying some fresh local beans from Earth Fare and then turning them over to my husband to cook. Our New Year’s Day meal ended up being a little hodgepodge, but regardless, it was very much enjoyed by most everyone. Our picky 3-year-old