Week 2: Menu & Receipt

Here it is! Don’t make fun of my bad paint job.

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Our basement door, just off the kitchen.

Menu

  • Saturday: Tacos (seasoned ground beef and salsa on greens with carrot peels, cucumber slivers, chopped onions – check the bad pic on Facebook)
  • Sunday: Kabobs (chicken, pork, steak with peppers, onions, sprouts and bacon) with Brussel Sprout and Bacon Speared
  • Monday: Pork Chops with a salad and mashed (sweet) potatoes (and certainly applesauce)
  • Tuesday: Burgers with salad and fries (or burger ON salad, hold the fries)
  • Wednesday: Chicken Soup (broth, chicken breast, bag(s) of frozen soup vegetables, chopped and peeled additional carrots and onions, seasoned in the crock pot)
  • Thursday: Steak (mmm, steak) with baked (sweet) potatoes and a salad
  • Friday: $5 PIZZA NIGHT (or leftovers)
  • Saturday: Jumbalaya (broth, peppers, onions, garlic, chicken, shrimp and sausage, seasoned in the crock pot)

My shopping list tallied at $100.33 according to my calculator, before check out. That was after I decided to put a few things back to swap out for more proteins; one of the 2 frozen pizzas my husband requested $3.99; the entire stock of k-cups because (I had a coupon for a buy 2) I can get through exactly enough days with the coffee and tea I have $11.98; I put back grass fed hot dogs and resolved to not take short cuts when feeding the kids (besides we have sliced chicken, eggs and there will be plenty of leftovers for lunch options) $5.99; I decided against another jar of olives since I blew through the last one (munchies) and I have guacamole and celery in the crisper I can crunch on instead $2.29.

Choices.

recept

The cashier presented me with the grand total of $102.55. Not bad. Mind you, that also includes $44.44 in NON Paleo foods or housewares items. HOLY SHIT. Imagine if we just ate Paleo.

I’ll also be making hard-boiled eggs for snacking and salad, cookie bars (grainless granola like concoction, basically nuts and honey) and I have apples and bananas to turn into yummy breakfast or dessert options for the girls. That makes a week worth of (almost) Paleo eating.

Some more thoughts on Paleo being as affordable as you want to make it:

  • Robb’s rant, he will always hold a spot in my heart for opening my eyes to the power I have over my own health.
  • I follow Paleo On a Budget on Facebook
  • A quick google search (if you really want to know something, you can find the answer yourself) and here is a nice rundown on ways to cut the budget from the Lean Machine and 15 Tips for Eating Paleo on the Cheap from Following my Nose
  • Now harvest your own information. If you want something, you’ll make it work. Don’t blame anyone but yourself.

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A Cheap & Healthy Perspective – Week 1

I hear it all the time, “I’m on a tight budget, I can’t afford to eat like you.” Well, I too am on a tight budget. $100/week for food, in fact. I have a family of 4 and this budget also includes non-paleo foods for my (amazing) husband because again, this is my journey and I won’t pressure him into it, nor will I sabotage myself because of his preferences.

A few things:

  • Is grass fed meat better? YES. Does that mean it’s all I eat? NO. I buy meat that is on sale. Some of it is grass fed (YUM) and some of it is not. From the sale meat, I create my weekly dinner plan.
  • When not fresh, frozen or canned veggies? FROZEN. Freezing vegetables will help lock in the nutrients but also doesn’t allow it to sit and soak in sodium until consumed.
  • Cooking serum? Coconut oil or butter. Real, unsalted, raw butter – THE best. Although I’m attempting a Whole30 right now so I’m sticking with coconut oil or bacon fat. Butter is a dairy.
  • Fast & easy? Sure, there are lots of fast and easy ideas I can and will share, but eating plants & proteins does require preparation and forethought. It’s a lifestyle CHANGE, so all you fast paced, eat-on-the-fly, no time for prep folks, take a deep breath and reevaluate your priorities. Is health one of them?  …Always make leftovers so you have them for breakfast and lunch options …bake some eggs in muffin tins and freeze for easy access …soups and stews in the crock pot are a lifesaver! …whole fruit and veggies are a sweet and crunchy snack option. SIMPLICITY in food brings forth a simpler life.

paleo-food-pyramid

With that being said, I’ve decided to share my shopping list and meal plan to help folks get started. Also because I’m a simple girl with simple tastes and my recipes/meals are far from fancy. I think most of you can relate to having small children or spouses who aren’t always adventurous with their palates. Also, they are not on a Whole30, I am, so I will post my variations to anything for my own plate. Here we go:

Sunday: Leftover Stew – In a crock pot on low, I tossed leftover roast and meatloaf, frozen veggies of our liking, and broth together. After seasoning to taste, I checked back at dinner time! To serve, I added a dollop of pre-prepared mashed cauliflower to a soup bowl and scooped some soup on top. One of my daughters enjoys soup in a bowl, the other enjoys soup on a plate sans liquid. Wa-la.

Monday: BBQ – 1lb ground beef and a can of Manwich. I had my husband dish out my portion of beef first, before adding the Manwich. The family had it with fries and apples, I enjoyed it on top a bed of greens and carrots.

Tuesday: Pork & Kraut (OF COURSE!) – In a crock pot on low, I added a layer of sliced onion, a layer of sauerkraut, pork loin, and a final layer of kraut. Checked back at dinner time and added some pre-prepared mashed sweet potatoes and apple sauce to my plate. MY FAVORITE MEAL.

Wednesday: Chicken with Onions & Peppers – My husband pan cooks the chicken and sautes onions and bell peppers. I enjoyed that atop a bed of greens, carrots, cucumbers, radishes and celery. The rest of the bunch had some noodles with their chicken.

Thursday: Leftovers for the family – There wasn’t anything ‘clean’ leftover so I enjoyed some frozen Tilapia, sweet mash and crunched bacon sprinkled on top. I keep a stash of frozen fish, shrimp and scallops for myself to enjoy on nights the family decides on pizza, spaghetti or other grain based choices.

Friday: $5 Pizza night for the fam ala Little Caesars. I will be enjoying a Large salad (1, because I don’t want the greens to go bad before eaten and 2, because I’m craving a big salad) with roasted chicken on top.

Saturday: Bacon wrapped turkey with roasted vegetables and salad.

For those of you who love a grocery bill, here is this week's bill, keeping with our goal of $100/week and including $29ish of non-paleo food.

For those of you who love a grocery bill, here is this week’s bill, keeping with our goal of $100/week and including $29ish of non-paleo food for the Mr.

My method of shopping and meal planning is to create the first few meals of the week from items we HAVE in the fridge, then write a list of items we would like in the house (veggies and fruit, etc). Once I am at the store, I keep a running calculator of each item I put in the cart, remaining super selective on the items I choose, even if on my list. For instance, this week I knew we still had 6 eggs so I passed on another dozen because I didn’t have an egg heavy menu planned. I complete all non-meat shopping first, THEN I go to the meat department and check out what they have for sale, spending the rest of the budget on protein that will pair with any/all of the produce we have in the cart.

Easy peasy.

I don’t enjoy sharing my entire menu (I find it quite boring) but if you find it valuable please let me know by commenting here or on our Facebook page. Thanks for reading!

To view more $100/week budget Menu & Receipt posts click below.


Pig Out Paleo

I LOVE when folks are interested in eating Paleo. I only wish more of them would stick with it as it gets lonely rejecting offers of sweets and treats all the time. Imagine my excitement when a student joined my class who only eats: PROTEIN and PLANT-based carbs! He didn’t know it was ‘Paleo’, he just knew it was best for his body.

Click the photo for more info on the Paleo Diet.

Click the photo for more info on the Paleo Diet.

So, in keeping with retaining as many protein & plant loving friends as possible, I would like to share a few go-to Paleo mantras for making this journey work for you in modern American culture. One of my faves is:

Pig Out Paleo. I mean, if you’re going to hunt through the house for something you may as well make it Paleo. Right?! See below for health(ier) pig out options.

Set yourself up for success. Google the shit out of “paleo” advice/foods/recipes. Research why & find your own answers – the more you want it, the more you’ll find. Prep, prep and more prep so you always have food on hand. Pinterest has become an amazing little friend of mine. I’m a visual person and love a simple ‘pin’ to refer to at any time. I have a “Things Worth Eating” board that could help you get started. Then just search “paleo” snacks, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, appetizers, and more!

As Paleo As Possible. Listen, no one is perfect in anything they do. If you want something that isn’t exactly or completely on the clean eating list, make your own decision and move forward with it. Don’t wallow in less then 100%. Actually, a huge part of the Paleo community promotes an 80/20 lifestyle. It leaves room for real living in this busy world of ours. Just don’t get carried away *wink*.

Make good choices, as often as possible. These are real answers and they work if you incorporate them into your daily thinking. One blunder towards something that is inherently non Paleo, does not a failure make. Keep going, keep choosing, keep searching for your groove in a life style based in plants and animals AND simplicity. Your life will change once you take on a clean living lifestyle, for the better.

You are in control.

You are in control.

So you’re hungry and its 11 o’clock at night? EAT. Are you just looking to shove something in your mouth? Snack mindlessly? You’ll get over that eventually, in the meantime, I say: EAT. Life is for living, not punishing. Setting yourself up for success includes gradually finding a peace with sweets, emotional eating and other negative food behaviors. YOU’LL GET THERE. Don’t be so restrictive when starting that you set yourself up to fail. PIG OUT PALEO.

Late night ideas (have as little or lot as you’d like, you’ll get better at making good choices, promise):

  • Nuts – straight up, mixed; chopped or blended. Do them your way.
  • Dark chocolate – the higher the cacao the better.
  • Fruit – dried, baked, sliced or whole, it will satisfy a sweet tooth.
  • ANY COMBINATION OF THE 1st 3: Get creative.
  • Olives – good fat, salty and the little ones satisfy my ‘munchie’ needs. I’m enjoying them now, straight out of the jar with a tiny spoon. CHEERS!
  • Apple sauce – I’m a simple girl, it doesn’t take much. Note: your apple sauce need not include sugar/syrup of any kind. If you didn’t make it yourself, read the label. My store brand is good enough: apples, water and that acid that keeps it from discoloring.
  • Hard boiled egg – a little salt, maybe some pepper, it fills you up.
  • Veggies and guac – fatty and filling plus you get that crunchy snack vibe going.
  • Soup/stew – leftovers rock.

Here are 75 more ideas. Google is your professor: ‘paleo_____ recipe”

What are your go-to snacks?


Colds, Cleaning & Natural Solutions

Oh the joys of catching a cold. I am currently raw-nosed, weepy eyed and foggy headed. I’m hoping it skips my girls but I heard some coughing from one a night ago and the other was sneezing this morning. They’ve been off school for 9 days over the holiday and return in 2 more, please don’t get sick little ones!

I’m definitely of the approach that we need to live in our environments and not sterilize them. That being said, my go-to solution for all things cleaning and disinfecting is vinegar and water. See the recipe below, further explanation can be found here. When there is an illness in the house, I equip my kids with vinegar wipes and have them ‘wash’ all their Polly Pockets, Barbies, Legos and markers, crayons and paints while I spray down the house. Teamwork!

I literally just refill old cleaning product containers with my vinegar solutions, including sprays, wipes and scrubs.

I literally just refill old cleaning product containers with my vinegar solutions, including sprays, wipes and scrubs.

Vinegar Solution

Step 1:Pour a mixture of equal parts white distilled vinegar and hot water into a spray bottle of your choosing. Vinegar is a strong acid that kills most germs.

Step 2:Spray the vinegar solution onto the affected area to kill germs left by common household contaminants such as pet accidents, vomit or raw food. According to a study conducted by the University of Florida in 2003, when sprayed on strawberries contaminated with E. coli and other germs, a 10-percent vinegar solution reduced bacteria by 90 percent and viruses by 95 percent.

Step 3:Allow the surface to dry. The vinegar smell disappears once the area fully dries.

Vinegar has amazing properties, is super cheap and can help with almost anything. It’s like coconut oil’s best friend! Speaking of coconut oil, I’ve been dabbing it under my nose to help the cracking. It’s quite soothing. Check out this quick list for more amazing properties of vinegar and household uses. Now check out this one for a ridiculous amount of additional ideas!
Also remember to open the windows and allow the air in your house or office to circulate, yes, even in the dead of winter. Fresh air is healing! And don’t hesitate to catch some rays while you’re near the window, natural Vitamin D is godly in its own right. Try to soak up some rays before applying your sun block this summer. Your body will thank you.
sun_shade_1

What are your go-to natural cleaning and healing products? I’d love to learn more!

 

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Busy as Hell

I’m a member of a group of women who like to gather and ‘Lunch’ occasionally, which basically means drink wine, eat delicious food and chat each other up till the clock strikes and we all run back to our real lives. Today a member of the Ladies Who Lunch, who also happens to be a sister of mine, asked if we’ll be getting together in March. I quickly checked my calendar (thank you iPhone for organizing my life) and realized there is not one free moment this month. BUSY AS HELL! I kindly declined and then got thinking about preparing a few items for the kids, who have reverted to Cheerios 6 days a week for breakfast, much to my dismay, and for myself as far as breakfast and snack options during these hectic days running to and from schools and work and appointments. Today is the only day I have nothing scheduled. It’s been a real treat with no sense of urgency weighing on my back.

Currently, we have a new version of our infamous Paleo Muffin in the oven. This time I went with the basic ingredients and added a chopped, organic apple to the mix after reviewing Sarah Fragoso’s Paleo Apple Muffin recipe in my recently returned hardcopy of “Everyday Paleo” – Thanks Katie. The recipe looks something like this:

  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grade b maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • pinch of baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • bigger pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 chopped apple
  • 375, 25(ish) minutes until tops begin to brown
Another delicious treat I’ve been slacking on is mashed sweet potatoes, which take too long to make on the fly. I picked up a few, along with other essentials, while the kids played in the grocery store childcare this afternoon. That’s right folks, our grocery ‘giant’ has a childcare room that allows for 1.5 hours of grocery shopping bliss. Although sometimes I spend that time in the cafe reading, blogging, or working. It’s quite the commodity. Okay, back to topic: I have the potatoes peeled, sliced and boiling as we speak. Remember, after mashing, sweet pots only need a bit of coconut oil or butter added, too much and you’ll have a soupy mess. I store the end result in glass tupperware and refrigerate, portioning out at dinnertime and often baking it off in the oven while the meal is prepared. Butter and salt on top is total YUM. Incidentally, my girls saw me slicing ‘those orange taters’ and got very excited, looks like we’ll be adding some to the side of tonight’s dinner as well.

So… in the time I’ve been preparing the muffins and potatoes and attempting to write this blog, the first batch has finished and are a HUGE HIT with myself and my girls. We even made a mini batch and cooked them off in the Easy Bake oven. My soon-to-be 4-year-old, Roe, just gobbled up 5 mini muffins and my newly 5-year-old ate 4 before being cut off, as dinner is looming. Roe made me promise to include a muffin on her dinner plate – OKAY by me. These muffins will make a great treat for breakfast and will also be good to travel with as I have a trip looming, but don’t worry, I’ll blog about that soon enough! (HINT: I am a certifiable Paleo Geek)

I was truly disappointed when I went for a stem of Brussel sprouts and they were out of stock at the grocery today. I’m not sure what else I will be preparing, but thinking ahead for this week, and keeping in mind my stock of frozen meats, the crock pot looks like a million bucks right about now. What have you made recently that is non-grain, gluten-free and super delicious? I need ideas, help a girl out!

P.S. Nature’s Promise Uncured Bacon is on sale this week. I always stock up when this sale occurs – $2 off – and their stock often runs out, so get it while you can!


Coconut Flour & Bacon Candy

My level of “busy” has increased dramatically over the last month and yet, I’ve still managed to discover a few new recipes that my girls and I enjoy. First let’s start out with a warning, as my girlfriend put it “Cooking is chemistry and substitutes are not created equal.” In my lapse of judgement, I took a recipe for banana bread that my sister always has great success with and subbed almond flour and syrup/honey for the regular flour and sugar portions. I should have stuck with what I know because these banana muffins turned into a hard, yet gooey, contraption…which, incidentally, my 3-year-old gobbled up. But she would.

For Valentine’s Day (Love you!) my 3-year-old was scheduled for class snack and my 4-year-old had a class party. When I saw the sign-up sheet for snacks and paper products hanging in the hallway the week before, I quickly added my name to the “Cupcake” slot. This was my (neurotic) way of not only controlling some of the sugar/gluten intake of my own child, but that of the whole class. After writing in my name, I thought “I better come up with something good.” My 4-year-old prefers vanilla and my 3-year-old prefers whatever her sister says, so I began a search for a cupcake worthy recipe for both girls to share with their friends. It wasn’t long before I found a Paleo appropriate cupcake. I tested the recipe in a half portion, which also worked very well. The only change I made to it was grade b maple syrup in place of cane sugar. It turned out to be a light, fluffy cupcake, similar to angel food. DELISH. I then whipped up an icing of almond butter, dark cocoa, butter, and a dash of coconut milk to my preferred consistency, topped with Enjoy chocolate chips and ate entirely too many chocolate/vanilla delights!

Of course, then I remembered the “no nut” rule (almond butter in the icing) and my daughters’ protest of the chocolate topping instead of vanilla, so I began on a new adventure looking for vanilla icing. This journey was not as successful and I was running low on time. I decided to cut my loses and use a Betty Crocker Butter Cream topping (just enough to cover the top) which is gluten-free and allowed the girls to decorate their class’ cupcakes how they saw fit. Everyone was happy in the end.

This morning, I tried a new pancake recipe which turned out to be another success! While the 3-year-old was eating the awkward banana muffins from last night, she helped me mix and stir the ingredients to a fluffy, coconut pancake I found while searching for vanilla cupcakes. The batter was the most like a regular pancake of any Paleo recipe I’ve found. I sprinkled a bit of cinnamon on a couple and left the others plain. My 4-year-old gobbled up a few herself, while I enjoyed a few (more) myself with a side of maple syrup, in addition to some fresh-cut pineapple which are on sale this week and super juicy.

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, friends of ours invited a few families over for brunch the sunday prior in celebration. Of course everyone offered to bring something delicious to eat, so I decided to make bacon-wrapped, almond-stuffed dates. When I reached for my newly purchases container of dates, it was nowhere to be found, so I had to improvise fast. I cut the bacon into portion sizes, about 3 or 4 inches in length, laid them out on parchment paper atop a baking sheet, then drizzled just a tiny bit of grade b maple syrup over them. I baked them at 350 for about 45 minutes. The syrup didn’t allow them to curl upon heating and created a delicious bacon-candy. For the 2nd batch, I baked the bacon plain, then added chopped dark chocolate bits for the last few minutes (until melted) after which I sprinkled with crushed walnuts. SO YUM. I forgot to take a picture, but I’m sure you can imagine the heaven I created, and of course a piece or two will do you.

My bacon candy wasn't on a skewer or dipped in chocolate, but sprinkled with it. I still found this to be a great visual.

Disclaimer: I have no idea where I bought my Coconut Flour, I thought it was from GIANT in their Healthy Foods Aisle, but my sister said there was no such thing and found it at the Healthy Grocer. I will buy it online in the future, as it tends to be cheaper if you find a site with free shipping.