Week 7: Menu & Receipt

Lately, I’ve been able to stretch my 7 day meal plan and shopping to 8 or 9 days. Whether it’s because I just don’t have the time or I’m force-feeding leftovers to the family, I’m grateful since we’re still in a tight financial spot, as so many of us are, and need to conserve every penny.

That being said, the 4-year-old who named this blog, turned SIX on February 23rd and her younger sister turned 5 yesterday. We aren’t outrageous with gift-giving but when the yearly “Birthday Extravaganza” comes around we celebrate our daughters from one birthday to the next, as any proper celebration should play out. 30(ish) days of extraordinary fun! The little extras add up fast and I’m honestly looking forward to re-tightening our pocket.

photoThis week’s menu was thrown together just for the blog. I went shopping Tuesday morning while my little one was at preschool. Upon my husband’s request, I picked up a roast, I also went for the organic chicken club pack which cuts the cost per lbs from $7.99 to $6.99 and includes portions for 2 dinners instead of one. Chicken thighs and wings seem to be a staple these days because 1) they’re a cheap option, 2) my family devours them and 3) they’re easy to make, bake and the leftovers are bangin!

Incidentally, a friend recently suggested a way to save money was to skip the organic chicken breast and go conventional. I won’t argue a monetary savings here and have typically suggested the same.  He added “Almost every article I read says that the nutritional benefit over regular chicken breasts is negligible. Most impurities and toxins are stored in fat and chicken is so lean that only trace amounts would even exist”.  He is an intelligent and trusted friend, with killer hair, so I stored this info in the ole’ brain and went for a sale on conventionally raised chicken drumsticks a few weeks ago, not breast meat, I realize. I roasted and served them to my girls for dinner. They didn’t gobble them up, as usual, but I didn’t give it much thought as appetite has ebbs and flows. The following day, I served myself a few for breakfast and nearly spit it out before I could get a napkin. The taste was so obviously inferior, it made me feel sick. Bad batch? I don’t know but it reminded me that choice does matter and organic chickens always taste better! I threw the rest away.

You’ll notice Tuesday starts off with chicken (cooked with onions and peppers) and noodles. I finally found a gluten-free, GMO-free noodle option at my local grocery store: TruRoots. After reading the website, I see they claim an ‘al dente’ texture after cooking. My husband, however, says he over cooked his first batch and they were a little mushy, but decent enough to eat. I didn’t warn him they were ‘different’ then his regular noodle variety so it doesn’t’ surprise me that it overcooked. Regular noodles could boil for much longer then required and still not become mushy. Imagine that sitting in your gut… just chillin. Despite over-cooking, he said he’d eat them again and that’s a win for me since we rarely have noodles and now we have some in stock.

photo-2Another exciting find I made was on thursday morning when I stopped by the grocery to pick up some taco shells for my now-5 year old’s requested birthday dinner: Bearitos. This little gem of a company is also non-GMO (found through my non-GMO app) and for a corn meal/chip company it was thrilling discovery since 85% of the corn in our country is genetically modified and that creeps me out. I suspect it’s mostly gluten-free as well, but they do not follow the testing practices for gluten so they do not claim it. They were delicious and had a more authentic taste then the cheaper, standard taco shells. I will now only buy GMO-free tortilla chips, as well. We’ve found and tried 1 or 2 other brands at my local store, my husband says they’re good but aren’t salty enough and I’m okay with that.

During this quick trip to the store, I decided to check the organic meat section for sales while I was there. Often you can find a few items marked down in yellow to add to your freezer and low and behold, I DID! 1 package of organic pork sausage (I often cut up and use sausage in my soups along with another protein) and 2 lbs of organic ground turkey breast were marked 50% off, so I snatched them up. That means you’ll have to add $4 for the taco shells and $12 for the extra organic sale-meat to my receipt for the week. Worth it!

I think I’ve covered everything from this week. My last request: Your favorite recipes including chicken thighs and ground turkey. Please comment here or add them to our Facebook page and you may see them on next week’s menu! Also, I added the spice combination I used for our taco seasoning to the Facebook timeline. Check it out & share with friends!


Basic Recipes & Local Treats

I often turn my nose at the idea of “paleo-izing” items from modern food culture. Bread, brownies, pancakes, noodles… attempting to recreate these items doesn’t allow you to fully change your habits. One of the first rules of new habits: Set yourself up for success. Not failure.

In my head, I either change or don’t change. Eating paleo bread makes me want to choose regular bread when there isn’t a paleo option. While I’m pretty black and white for myself, I understand folks may be easing their way into this lifestyle change or, perhaps, look to such food items for comfort or tradition.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

That said, I’ve been known to bake chocolate chip cookies from time to time. You can find my Famous Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe in Paleo Parent‘s first book “Eat Like A Dinosaur” along with an arsenal of approachable go-to’s for families or people with a traditional palate including freezable chicken nuggets, fruit roll ups, waffles and more. I respect their copyright and would encourage you to check out the book for yourself, it’s been one of the most used recipe books in our house! Not to mention, there is a children’s book, their familiar back story of (un)health and an easy-to-read allergy index included on every single page.

Now that I got you all amped up on the idea of a delicious chocolate chip cookie, I’ve got great news for my local friends! Betsy’s Bakery created their first prototype! As soon as I saw their Facebook post about Paleo cookies, I grabbed a kid and headed right over. As the story goes, Betsy has Celiac disease and her bakery is entirely gluten-free! She also has dairy free, vegan and now (the most healthy of all) paleo options!

Betsy's Bakery in Mechanicsburg, PA has recently added a delicious PALEO cookie to their gluten free repertoire.

Betsy’s Bakery in Mechanicsburg, PA has recently added a delicious PALEO cookie to their gluten-free repertoire. Remember to support local commerce for the things you want in your life or don’t complain when it’s lacking.

When we chatted briefly about her chocolate chip cookies, future recipes and marketing to the audience of these sweet morsels, she thought Fridays would be a great day to offer fresh Paleo items. I agreed! As a used-to-be Crossfit’er I know how focused I was during the week, but by Friday it was definitely time for a reward. What better way to celebrate then with a naturally sweetened, protein and (good) fat packed dessert that tastes like a cheat, but isn’t! Remember to refrigerate paleo baked goods – fresh ingredients stay fresher when chilled.

ROASTED VEGETABLES

Paleo eating is easy and shouldn’t overwhelm anyone with ‘how to cook’. I am not, repeat, AM NOT a ‘good cook’. In fact, I didn’t begin really cooking, or understanding how to cook, until I decided to eat paleo. Plants and protein, so EASY. I typically roast or crock pot large proteins, I’ll pan cook smaller portions of proteins, and sauté or roast veggies. The creativity comes in the spice blends, medleys and pairings.

Roasted-Brussels-Sprouts-Carrots-and-Leeks-1.jJPG_.jJPG_-1000x288
To roast veggies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Add a dollop of coconut oil or grass-fed butter to a baking sheet
  3. Place in oven till oil is melted
  4. Toss chopped veggies onto sheet
  5. Season to taste (salt, pepper and garlic are my go-to’s, be as simple or creative as you’d like with your spice)
  6. Toss veggies every 10-15 minutes until desired  – typically around 25-30 minutes for most of my vegetables – the softer the veggie the faster it cooks so I may wait to add onions to a sheet until half way through, etc
After greasing the pan, dip your veggie fries in egg then a blend of coconut & almond flours with preferred seasonings.

After greasing the pan, dip your fry-cut veggies in egg then a blend of coconut & almond flours and preferred seasonings. It’s definitely a special treat in our house. Who has time for dredging?

Alternatively – and a great way to cook ‘fries’ (sweet potato, carrot, zucchini, etc):

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Chop vegetables to even sizing, add to bowl
  3. Pour melted coconut oil or grass-fed butter on top
  4. Season with preferred blend
  5. Mix
  6. Add to baking sheet
  7. Toss every 10-15 minutes until cooked

CHICKEN on the bone

I get asked how I roast my chicken a lot. I forget how something so simple can feel so scary for a new cook. It wasn’t 3 years ago that I cooked less than 10% of the time and now I do most of the cooking/preparing. Paleo food is EASY and that’s the whole point. While I roast/bake most of my chicken the same way (350 and flip/marinate every 20 minutes till cooked – whole birds I flip every 40 minutes) the wings I made for dinner tonight were too good not to share. I only regret I didn’t take a snapshot, but they were gone before I gave it a thought. Moist and crispy. They were a flavor so delicious the whole family enjoyed them.

I bake my wings and other chicken parts atop a cookie cooling rack, over tin foil on a baking sheet. Sophisticated.

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Place wings on rack apparatus mentioned above, or something similar
  3. Brush with coconut oil or grass-fed butter
  4. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Savory Spice Shop‘s Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Seasoning: Hickory smoke salt, Hungarian and California paprika, roasted garlic, toasted onion, black pepper, hickory smoke flavoring and oregano OR ANY OTHER SPICE/MARINADE YOU CONJURE UP
  5. Bake for 20 minutes
  6. Flip wings and repeat steps 3, 4 then 5
  7. When timer goes off the 2nd time, flip wings as you place them onto the tin foil covered baking sheet
  8. Wrap wings – I use an additional piece of foil for leaking and insulation – place in oven
  9. Turn heat up to 450
  10. Bake for 10 minutes
  11. Flip foil package and turn off oven – this is when I make salads, get the table set, etc.
  12. ENJOY!
A friend recently tried my Cookie Bar recipe and was delighted! I haven't made them since I originally posted this photo, perhaps I'll make a batch for an impending slumber party.

A friend recently tried my Cookie Bar recipe and was delighted! It’s been some time since I made a batch, perhaps I’ll whip some up for a certain (about-to-be) 5 year old’s slumber party. A special treat packed with protein!


Week 6: Menu & Receipt

I don’t have a lot of time today so let’s keep this short and sweet, I hit a total of $109.06. If I were shopping at one store, I would have put back a pack of wings or thighs, or perhaps a bag of apples. Instead I put back my baking essentials of honey, vanilla and something else at the 2nd store, in order to stay closer to the budget of $100. It’s not a hardship to be without stock for cookies or muffins. Choice!

It's a learning curve shopping at 2 stores with this budget so bare with me while I work out the kinks!

It’s a learning curve shopping at 2 stores with this budget so bear with me while I work out the kinks!

This week’s menu was made after I went shopping based on the available funds, sales and meat choices that were in the stores. If you noticed, I used a $1 off coupon for some nitrate free pepperoni – just check Applegate’s website!

Our fries are fresh cut from sweet potatoes and/or organic white potatoes. My sandwiches are on lettuce. And real chili doesn't have beans! Ask a Texan.

Our fries are fresh-cut from sweet potatoes and/or organic white potatoes. My sandwiches are on lettuce… And real chili doesn’t have beans! Ask a Texan.

What are you having for dinner this week? Leave a comment or join us on Facebook to chime in on another topic.

To check out previous $100/week budget Menu & Receipt posts click below.


What’s for Lunch?

I had a follower on Twitter recently ask “what are you eating for lunches??? I read your menu and see leftovers on the menu for dinner. Just curious.” GREAT QUESTION.

@evroman
I was posting my lunches to our Facebook page pretty regularly while I was in Barber School and I think people enjoyed that. It allowed them to see, I really AM eating a lot of leftovers and salads with a side of carrots and guac or a banana, as I say, “ALWAYS MAKE EXTRA”. A few other things as my lunch go-tos are:

  • (Grass-fed from a local market) Hotdogs & kraut
  • Mixed greens, sliced veggies, hard-boiled eggs and leftover protein (salad, duh) sprinkled with Annie’s Oil & Vinegar, the brand is nonGMO and also has a great taste to it, unlike a few other organic O/Vs I’ve tried
  • Scrambled eggs, onions, & cayenne paper, sometimes I’ll add Boar’s Head lunch meat to the scramble or leftover protein
  • Leftover protein (think meatloaf) with a dippy egg on top – YUM
  • Boar’s Head sliced turkey/chicken/roast beef/London broil (or other nitrate free, gluten-free lunch meats) rolled up with any medley of cucumbers, carrots, apples, grapes, etc dipped in mustard

I follow my hunger cues and usually don’t eat the standard 3 meals a day, instead I eat when I need to fuel up or replenish my fuel. Breakfast has never been my forte and after reading a nice article on How To Start Your Day by Mark Sisson, I first drink a giant glass of water, followed by my morning coffee (I usually have another cup when I get to work around 3pm). I tend to eat before heading into work (think, filling my gas tank) and that could range between 11am and 3pm. This is what I call Lunch.

Real food gives you real energy.

Real food gives you real energy.

Now that I’m finished with school (daytime) and moved onto my new career in hair (a lot of evenings), I continue to plan out our Dinner menus that I usually prep for my husband who finishes cooking for himself and the girls. I tend to bring leftovers for my work-Dinner (think, gas station pit stop on your way to the beach) from the day before. When I get home from work, I always eat again. This is my after-work Dinner (think, filling tank after a long trip). While I am on my feet and hustling at the salon, I use and maintain a balanced level of energy which is so very important in customer service. I can thank my diet for that! Energy is VITAL in this industry but really it is vital to my life in general; mother, wife, household, preschool, kindergarten, career, it gets intense. I’m certain you have a similar story.

In short, I pick my food based on the fuel I’ll need for the day. A slow day like today? A sunday where I’m going to be prepping food, hanging with kids, attending a birthday party and having dinner with the fam – I won’t need as much fat/protein as I do on, say, a Tuesday when I am running back and forth all morning between preschool and kindergarten, cleaning house, doing laundry, prepping meals, working 6-9 hours on my feet, calculating, thinking, planning, etc. This is something I’ve learned over the years and after paying close attention to how my body feels with the fuel/food I’m choosing.

What do you typically have for lunch? Leave a comment of add to the conversation on Facebook!

 


Yet Another Holiday…

heartNow that Valentine’s Day has passed (and I’ve thrown away my girls’ stash of classroom candy exchanges, minus the few lollipops they enjoyed) we are coming upon St. Patrick’s Day and right around the corner is…EASTER.

As one might assume, Easter is not an edible celebration in our house. My husband and I have always treated this holiday as a welcoming of Spring. I always say our backyard is the reason we bought our house, where a previous owner erected an above ground pool, we have a great big circle of sand/dirt, which makes for hours of dirty play and fire pits. Two things we enjoy together as a family. Keeping that in mind, on Easter morning, our daughters awaken to a reload of shiny new outdoor toys including buckets, shovels, pinwheels, seeds, nets and we’ll probably include bike helmets this year since their big heads keep getting bigger.

The first year we celebrated, my husband and I were sitting around our sand pit while the girls took naps. We discussed the impending holiday and decided to take turns running down to the local Dollar Store, spend $6 each, pick out 3 things for each kid, than surprise each other with the items once we were done shopping. It was fun for us, and them, and has become a tradition for all of us!

Not my kids, but super funny, right? And pretty much what our first Easter looked like.

Not my kids, but super funny, right? And pretty much what our first Easter looked like.

Holiday doesn’t mean sugar rush or wheat feast for me. It means family, celebration, special memories. It means tradition. You have the power to create any type of tradition you choose. Memories will mean more than a chocolate bunny to your children when they become adults. Sure, I look forward to nibbling around the food table at my sister’s house on holidays, but you can guarantee it’s loaded with fruits and veggies and some kind of delicious meat, deviled eggs, olives, and whatever treat we add to the spread. There are usually a few things that spark my non-paleo interest, but with all the yummy(ier) options, it’s become no big deal.

Happy holidays!

Find recipes for naturally dyed eggs when you click the photo. Neat!

Find recipes for naturally dyed eggs when you click the photo. Neat!

 


Week 3: Menu & Receipt

This week, there were several grass-fed meat sales I wanted to take advantage of so I did things a little differently. Instead of creating a base menu from the proteins I had in stock and then buying to fill in the recipes, I started by creating a shopping list based on the weekly circular sales I hoped to get in on. It was 90% meat which will help build protein stock, to then cut costs over the next few weeks. Follow me?

After eyeing up my hunt, I then looked at my presumed financial total and decided which produce we could use to roast, soup or salad easily. Those easy produce choices for my family are carrots (I could have skipped them this week but grabbed a bag since I was at budget) $2.49, onions (1 of the cleanest non organic option) $2.99, (always) organic bell peppers $3.99, cucumbers 2/$1.98, a tub of organic greens $4.99 and to top it off, bananas $.49/lb and (always) organic apples 5lb/$4.99. There were a few sales in that mix of produce, but I found better deals on some items after reviewing the Dirty Dozen App while shopping. One of these days I should start remembering which plants are on which list, but I find I  have the opposite of a photographic memory: as I see it, I forget it.

I predicted $100.03 and the final bill was $99.07.

I predicted $100.03 and the final bill was $99.07.

A few choice notes: I bought a bag of coconut flour because it was on sale AND in stock, a rare sequence of events $5.15. I also bought 2/$10 k-cups and a box of EnviroKidz Leapin Lemurs (my kids’ favorite) because they are Gluten Free AND Non GMO Verified $3.79. Although, I usually wait to buy EnviroKidz brand cereals when they go on sale for $2.99. I’ve also taken notice to the additional varieties of free range, VEG FED eggs in the regular refrigerated section and one brand was on sale at 2 dozen/$5. I was paying $2.99 for half a dozen when I wasn’t able to buy from the local market on Thursdays. WIN. Other than that, I spent the bulk of my budget on meat.

After the days bounty was put away, I saw down with my laptop and used Supercook.com to come up with some ideas to use all this meat, a lot of it ground, in a variety of ways throughout the week. This site allows you to enter what ingredients you have and then recipes containing those things are displayed in order of adherence to your list. GREAT tool for folks who aren’t able to eat certain foods likes eggs, nuts, etc.

menu

Saturday: Meatloaf Balls and Roasted Veggies (use an egg, OR NOT, add puree and/or chopped veggies, maybe wrap a few in bacon! I like to make a ton so I have leftovers for breakfast or lunch plus some to freeze for a quick and easy option for the kids. You can make them as big or small as you like.)

Sunday: Sausage and Peppers with salad (I’ll cook peppers and onions in a skillet with the sausage.)

Monday: Shepard’s Pie (we stayed with friends during Hurricane Sandy and my daughters fell in love with this delicious cold weather food. To paloe-ize, instead of mashed white pots, use mashed sweet OR mashed cauli. And as Uncle Corey reminds: Remember to paint it with butter. No problem! Also easy to make ahead of time.)

Tuesday: Pulled Pork with salad and biscuits (There are so many good pulled pork recipes. I think I’ll use one that involves cinnamon and coffee grounds. I used this great recipe for sweet potato biscuits on Thanksgiving.)

Wednesday: LEFTOVERS, we’ll have plenty between Shepard’s Pie and the pulled pork.

Thursday: $5 Pizza and salad (I’ll probably have more leftovers or cook up some bacon and scallops and eat them out of a bowl with a spoon)

Friday: Turkey Veggie Soup (found it on Supercook! I’ve also seen ways to make it with a chicken broth or a tomato base for the soup – whatever your pleasure!)

Saturday: Pork and Onion Casserole (I wish I could spell that word without spell check.)

I always like to throw a few random ideas for my husband and the kids at the bottom as a reminder. I know it’s annoying. We made Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies from Eat Like A Dinosaur today. As my 5 yo puts it “Mama’s famous chocolate chip cookies!” She even brought them in for her class snack once. The girls are looking forward to having 2 small cookies for breakfast tomorrow. Ha. Less sugar and more protein than standard cereal or pancakes!

Tomorrow I’ll prep a variety of items including meatballs, omelet muffins, hard-boiled eggs, guacamole, and perhaps I’ll prep some more pancakes for my dear little 5yo towards the end of the week. She loves them and they keep her fueled on school days. Plus it’s so convenient to have them in the freezer.

What are you favorite budget saving tips?

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


There’s an App for that!

I’m on my iPhone all the time. Whether I’m looking up a word in the dictionary, scheduling my calendar, posting to Pushups and Carrots on Facebook or using it to log my workout, everything I want or need is handy! I’m not a junkie, however. I have 1 page of apps. And I’m not a gamer so everything I download is a tool with a purpose.

Here are a few of my favorite apps that help keep me focused, motivated, and in shape. AND THEY’RE FREE.

 

  • dirtydozenDirty Dozen – Simply lists the 12 most contaminated fruits and veggies. 5 servings from this list will bring no less than 14 different pesticides into your body a day. YUCK. You’ll want to buy these 12 plants organic whenever possible. The app also offers a Clean 15 list which you can find deals on since you’re not committed to organic-only options. It’s an easy go-to when I’m in the produce section. They even have a list of 53 fruits and veggies ranked in order of most pesticides. Apples are #1. I believe 5lb bags of organic apples are on sale this week at GIANT. Just saying.

 

  • nongmononGMO – I’m the asshole standing in the organic aisle just staring at her cell phone. I promise I’m doing something valuable, not texting my girlfriends. Typically, I’m comparing brands via my nonGMO app and finding the brand who doesn’t use genetically modified organisms in their ingredients. I am especially interested if this is a non-paleo item, as I want it to be as clean and wholesome as possible for my 4 and 5 year olds’ bodies. Just because something is labeled organic, does not mean it is the best choice. Research your food.

 

  • workoutsWorkouts – This takes the guess-work out of what exercise routine to perform when I’m running behind, only have 30 mins and can’t think straight because I just rolled out of bed. Choose your target area ie; abs, arms, butt, legs, cardio or full body, then choose your length of time 10-30 minutes. Only have 5 minutes? Make it count. The app provides a count down during each exercise so you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it also shows a video of the movement along with posted tips for best form and technique. EASY PEASY. Remember to stretch.

 

What are your favorite apps? PLEASE SHARE!


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?


All or Nothing?

There are very few things in life that play out in black and white. There is a hell of a lot of grey and it happens to be one of my favorite colors. Gun-metal to be exact, which leans towards my fave of all time, black. But I digress.

I talk a lot about Paleo on my blog and in life because that is my chosen ‘ideal’ diet (remember, diet as a noun not a verb) but it doesn’t mean it’s the only way. For me, the ancestral aspect of food consumption v. modern disease makes too much sense to ignore it. Does that mean I never eat sugar or grain? No. And in fact, I had some pita chips with humus just yesterday – not paleo, for the record. But I do my best and follow the standard at about 80/20, most of the time. My body has found its most comfortable stature while my energy and mood are determined by my adherence to clean eating. I know when I’ve been entirely too flexible with my diet because I’m sad and anxious. I’m not going to blame it on depression or anxiety anymore because it is directly related to the food I eat. I’ve experimented too much with it to say otherwise.

Real life dictates that we follow the ebb and flow of certain situations. Even Mark Sisson says “Don’t be weird.” And to be honest, the great American culture sets us up for failure when it comes to a focus on nutrition, REAL nutrition. A new ‘food’ is created every hour in this country. Of those foods, 100% of them are NOT nutritional, and yet super delicious. It’s difficult to avoid grain and I think it takes a certain kind of mind to really commit, full-on-dedicated to a clean diet. A diet that consists only of protein and plants. Not a better mind or a worse mind, but perhaps an insane one. It’s hard work. It’s a constant mental battle. Some folks can turn it on and off at will, while others struggle and cave throughout their life when it comes to nutrition.

Cut the crap.

Then of course, there’s the problem of really understanding ‘nutrition’. For whatever reason, people feel the need to justify their choices to me (which is UNNECESSARY and I hope I never have to justify my own in return). I promise I am not judging you or your family. I am merely living my own life the way I choose yet people tend to share ‘but we usually eat pretty healthy” with me. I have a hard time, but have learned to, bite my tongue about the real havoc grains plays on the body. Grains are really a source of malnutrition, so even though you choose whole grains because we’re taught they are the healthier alternative, you’re not on the path of health if that’s the bulk of your diet. Try cutting grains for a  month, better yet, 3 months or entirely, but for the occasional indulgence, and tell me you don’t swell up like a pregnant woman in the heat of the summer and wake up with the hangover of a rock star. And please, don’t let those whole grain fishies trick your sensibilities when it comes to your children. If ‘treats’ and sugary drinks work their way into your diet every day it’s a hinderance. I LOVE a treat, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not a ‘treat’ if it’s a daily occurence and don’t get me re-started on the snack situation in this country.

Back to my point: All or nothing? Absolutely not. I will say, however, there is NO EASY SOLUTION. There is no miracle diet that will shed your 10, 30 or 80 lbs of extra weight. None. It takes time and steady, constant work. 2lbs a week is a very reasonable amount of weight to lose on a steady basis. If you have a goal, make it a reasonable one. Google images of “Paleo Before and After” and you’ll see tons of examples of those taking 2 months, 6 months, 12, 18, 24 months to reach their goals! What are you waiting for? As time passes, that’s time that you could have already lost 2 or 12 or 46 lbs and gained tons of energy and enjoyment in life. Your physical appearance is 90% diet. Some say 80%, either way food is HUGE when it comes to fitness and working out only gets you so far. But it gets you no where and leaves you tired and hungry as long as your eating the same foods.

You’re smart enough to realize that it’s already summer, there is no way you’ll be bikini ready by July if you have 20lbs to lose. I don’t care if you’re doing Weight Watchers, the Lemonade Detox, Nutri System, Raw Foods or any other fancy way of shedding pounds. Not to mention that as soon as you hit goal, you go back to your historic eating habits and slowly put the weight back on. Diet is the way a person eats. CHOOSE a different pattern if your current pattern has resulted in illness or weight gain. Understand you could be a thin person but very uncomfortable due to the foods you choose. Diet dictates health.

Life is a journey. A marathon and not a sprint. Start today with every choice. Space your indulgences out more and more each time. Do you indulge everyday? Have a brownie at the picnic this afternoon, then wait till Tuesday to indulge in a chocolate sundae. Wait again till friday for pizza or a sub while maintaining a majority protein/plant diet otherwise. Schedule your cheats/treats/indulgences so your brain doesn’t freak out on you and cause your hands to shovel every piece of junk in the house into your mouth tonight when no one is looking. We’ve all been there. Huge pasta fan? Make it your sunday special. Something to look forward to. Life is an experiment, what do you have to lose? A few pounds? The taste for it? Amazing what happens when you give your body a rest from all the junk.

Healthy fats provide fuel and energy for your body.

With all that said, I strive towards a diet of plants and protein everyday. I’m not perfect and I will indulge in grains and sugars at times. It’s almost easier to adhere to a clean diet when folks are watching, so I talk about it a lot. As a result, I have been constantly flattered by friends going out of their way to accommodate ‘my way of life’ which in turn becomes part of theirs. Just last weekend, a friend included a crustless quiche in her quiche buffet at an after-parade brunch – SO THOUGHTFUL. The array of dishes brought to my own backyard bash was OUT of this world with variety, color and taste. I really can’t describe how awesome it was to see the food tables filled with salads, casseroles, dips, sides and platters full of plants and protein. And I swear I didn’t suggest a thing! The food went fast with plate after plate of raves and positive reviews from guests.

IT’S NOT ALL OR NOTHING. So don’t use a cookie as an excuse to throw your hard work out the window, even if it’s only been a day or a month. That’s a day or a month closer to a new life – one where you feel alive, aware, awake because of the fuel you are allowing your body to absorb and run on. It is a new way of thinking. A constant path towards better choices, subtle choices that include less grain and more protein and healthy fats.

Here are a few anecdotes shared with me recently that may inspire you. Please share your own in the comments or on our Facebook page:

  • I read your blog and it makes me think more about my own choices. I will never ‘go Paleo’ but I have cut things out and am down 15 lbs. The best part is that my energy is steady. I don’t crash like I used to.
  • Since starting my journey into Paleo (about 3ish months now?) I have lost 30 pounds! Got back into my pre-baby clothes, gained a ton of energy and so much more. I am in love with my new way of life. I am learning that it goes beyond food too. I now take daily walks in the sun with the little man, strive to be on the iPad less, and I have cut my workouts in half by doing more HIIT instead of hours on the treadmill.
  • I have cut sodas and iced tea out of my drink selection, and now snack on veggies or leftover dinner meat instead. It didn’t happen over night, but I’m in a size pant I haven’t seen since high school.
  • After a year of trying my hardest to cut grain, with the occasional pasta splurge, I have lost almost an entire person 89lbs! It’s been really tough and really exciting. People ask what my magic pill was and I tell them I just eat clean and take an occasional walk. Now it’s time to get into working out and shed another 30lbs.
  • I tried the HCG diet because my doctor told me I was obese and said I would be a good candidate. I felt like I was being tortured. It set me up for failure by not allowing me proper nutrition and food. I gained 10lbs after I stopped HCG just from the backlash. Once I was able to think again, I realized it was just about the food I ate and I found a few paleo resources, including your easy to read blog, and decided to give myself a long time to lose. I’m down 20 lbs over 3 months. Not a lot compared to what I have to lose, but it’s a start and I’m learning the healthy way.