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.

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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?


(Always) Try Something New

Grasp your opportunities, no matter how poor your health; nothing is worse for your health than boredom.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966

As a child, I remember moaning and groaning “I’m booooored.” Ugh. How could I have been so bored all the time? As an adult, there are always new adventures on the horizon. Life is exciting, but only because I keep it that way. This whole adventure I’ve been on with Paleo has reintroduced food as an exciting daily adventure. My fitness choices, although in spurts, also offer excitement and fulfillment in a way that has given me a new sense of pride over my body and abilities.

I have been making an effort to keep life fun, exciting and new in the simplest ways. Just a few days ago on the cusp of Independence Day, I was lucky enough to visit with old friends in Pittsburgh. It was a long drive but the time alone in the car was soothing and refreshing for me as it was my first solo road trip in 6 years! On the way home, I decided to take a detour by way of the Flight 93 Memorial in Stoystown, PA.

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National Memorial for Flight 93 in Stoystown, PA. Each marble slab has the name of a passenger. The slabs stand tall along the flight path of the plane as it crashed. The black wall and walkway outline the north side of the crash site.

I should mention, I was born on Independence Day and although I always found it a little cheesy to share a birthday with a National Holiday, I do feel pride in being an all-American girl born on the 4th of July. This also makes me a cancer; sensitive and emotional, which is spot on. I saw 1 sign on my way out to Pittsburgh which mentioned the Memorial and cried for the next 20 miles at the thought of the terror the passengers must have felt as they fell to the earth. Or were they at peace? Even more tears came at that thought. I decided to step outside my comfort zone and make a detour on the way home by way of the Memorial. I felt it fitting, being I am an Independence baby and the folks on that flight helped secure our independence a bit longer, at least from outside sources *wink*.

The private road leading to the crash site was nearly 4 miles long and winding. At one point it curved and inclined at such a rate it felt as if i were taking off. It was quiet and beautiful and touching. Deep in the meadows and tree clustered mountains off Rt 30 was a boulder marking the site of impact. I stared at it a long while. I shed a few tears and paid my respects to the lives of 40 men and women who had no business being forced into heroism for the entire nation, but who gave their lives so others were spared. I was happy to have such a pleasant experience in this now National Park.

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Through the gate of native Hemlock is a path leading to the boulder which marks the point of impact of Flight 93.

Over the next few days, I turned 32, celebrated with my loved ones and rejoiced in the life I’m leading. This morning I decided to use the last of my homemade, pastured stock (a sacred food full of amazing benefits, also a great hangover cure, just sayin’) as well as the last of my produce since thursday is my market day. Carrots, onions and kohlrabi. Kohlrabi?! Adventure on!

You must know by now my obsession with all things cabbage, after all, our Brussel Sprouts post is the most popular on the blog. Last week when I was perusing the stands at Farmers on Walnut I ended up staring at this weird-looking vegetable for a while before I asked “Could you tell me about this?” When the producer responded with “Do you like cabbage?” I almost died, “WHO DOESN’T!?” From there he explained how to slice it in rounds and sauté, or bake in some olive oil or butter and that it will taste like a sweet cabbage. YUM. This morning I sliced it up and added it to my stew. Variety is the spice of life!

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Onions, Kohlrabi, Carrots

Kohlrabi is almost out of season in Central PA so I’ll pick up another this afternoon and then it might be quits for now. I’m sorry I didn’t try it sooner, lesson learned: Never hesitate to ask about items at the farmer’s market. They sell what’s in season and we’re used to our standard tastes in veggies being available all year-long so it’s normal for them to receive lots of “What is this?”

Little adventures, or big, it’s all relative. Make sure your life is as special as you’d like it to be, you are, after all, in control. What small or large adventures have you had lately? What do you hope to do next? I’m starting a daily fitness program I found on Pinterest. In fact, I’m going to do my first set right now!


My Farm(s) – Buy Local

Last night, as the pork loin had just reached perfection and salads were almost complete, I realized it was 5:58pm! I turned off the oven, grabbed my keys, shouted “I have a farm pickup!” and ran out of the house to the car. I pulled up to another house, about 10 blocks from my own, where Brooks Miller was well bundled in front of a truck filled with coolers containing packages of pasture-raised meats and eggs as well as raw, grass-fed dairy products and more. Beside him stood a man I wasn’t familiar with yet, but am presuming was Emanuel Smucker.

North Mountain Pastures is spread across 84 acres in Perry County, Pennsylvania

Brooks and Emanuel, along with their wives, are local farmers. Their families’ own and operate North Mountain Pastures and Sunset Valley Farm respectively. Specializing in complimentary products, they recently teamed up by offering the North Mountain Pastures Buyer’s Club new items like raw, pastured milk, cheese, yogurt and honey as well as a super delicious grade b syrup (seriously, I had my first taste this morning). I’ve participated in both the Meat CSA and the Buyer’s Club with North Mountain and can’t emphasize enough how humble, generous and inspiring the Miller’s have been during our brief interactions or email exchanges.

We first participated with a medium ‘everything’ share which includes cuts of beef, poultry, lamb and pork. The packaging was by portion and sometimes offered a new challenge by introducing us to a cut of meat that I would not have otherwise chosen. Cooking was fun and interesting and the Millers offered recipes in their newsletter and on their website to help with culinary inspiration. Our family, however, is not a huge fan of the pastured pork. Next time we join the CSA, we’ll elect a pork free share instead. The medium-sized meat share fed our family of two adults and two small children almost an entire month.

More recently, I’ve chosen the Buyer’s Club option with North Mountain Pastures, which allows anyone to purchase as little or as much from their store as they’d like. I enjoy the ground beef, roasts, ribs, whole chickens and parts the most. The lamb has always been delicious, but more of a treat and less of a monthly staple. Their once monthly deliveries to Harrisburg and Camp Hill always include eggs for us, as well.

Sunset Valley Farm is operated by Emanuel and Barbie Smucker

Of their newest offerings through Sunset Valley, I was most excited to see pastured butter and grade b syrup, which I have a hard time finding in the average grocery market. Another exciting purchase was local, raw honey. I first learned of the benefits of local honey from the Fredricksen Library’s Bee Local Festival last September. The immune boosting qualities of local honey alone had me hooked before I even found a source. I typically use honey as a sweetener in place of refined sugar, but may start adding a bit to tea for more frequent exposure. Sunset Valley Farm products are also available in the same building as Nino’s Bistro and Italian Market at 18th and Market Streets in Camp Hill, PA every saturday from 9am-2pm.

As I look forward to our next meal, provided by local farm(s) I also look forward to the expansion of North Mountain Pastures’ facilities. Check out their video in the link below (since I can’t figure out how to embed it, yes I pasted to HTML) for more information about their background, the work they do and their plans that will impact our community. You could help.

 

North Mountain Pastures’ proposed expansion project – CHECK OUT THE VIDEO!