Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This Week's CSA and Assorted Other Deliciousness

CSA Share With Tons of Greens
Quiche Made With Chard,
Onions and Spinach
We got the first delivery of the CSA this week.  It included some of the biggest radishes I've ever seen.  In our share we got chard, several types of lettuce, spinach, onions, radishes and bok choy.  I made a quiche with the onions, spinach and chard.

I also made these homemade hamburger buns. They were super easy and, oh my goodness delicious. Right out of the oven, with farm fresh butter from Texas Daily Harvest? Boo-yah, THAT'S what I'm talking about.

Un-freaking-believable Homemade Rolls
For dinner, I filled the rolls with the crockpot Buffalo chicken and served it with a salad made from the fresh lettuce, radishes and onions from the CSA. It was ridiculously easy to make and so good.
Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches and Salad
I might even make some spicy chicken salad with the leftovers or I could make some enchiladas.  Something to ponder.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Weekly Menu Planning

Another exciting menu plan for this week. Have you started noticing a pattern? Ha! The Texas Daily Harvest CSA starts this week. I'm not entirely sure what will be in it, but I do know it will be predominantly greens (spinach, chard, lettuce, etc.)  It gets delivered Tuesday, so I'm building that loosely into the menu plan.  I'm going to have to be flexible.

I'm also trying to use up some of the meat we have in the freezer.  I think we have too much in there, so I'm trying to remedy that situation.  Right now we've got 3 different kinds of fish (either 6 or 10 filets, I can't remember), 3 steaks, 2 pork chops, 1 ham hock, and some chicken breasts.

So, here we go:
  • Taco night (requested by my son)
  • Spaghetti (requested by the Hubs) with a salad (requested by my daughter) and garlic bread
  • Fish, salad, rice or quinoa and a vegetable
  • Steak, salad, frozen vegetable (likely corn since that is nearly the only vegetable my son will eat) 
  • Quiche made with the CSA produce and fruit on the side
And my Pinterest Recipes of the Week are:
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches and Homemade Ranch (the powdered variety).  I love Pinterest.

Also, as a side note, last week I bought the salmon and marinated it in olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.  I put it in a ziploc bag it in the refrigerator. Later that day I decided we needed to use other food first (before it went bad), so I took a chance and tossed the marinating salmon in the freezer.  I'm happy to say that after I thawed it out and baked it, it was delicious.  I will probably do that again since it was so easy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why Shopping Mid-Week is Dangerous

This weekend I forgot to buy dog food.  So, I popped into Whole Foods for dog food.

And came out with a loaf of bread, sliced ham, flour tortillas, french vanilla coffee creamer and a carton of chocolate chip cookies.

This is why I should never, ever forget something on my list.

Add $37.01 to the weekly total. About $17 was for dog food and $20 for the other stuff.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Menu Planning

When I make a menu plan, it's a fluid sort of thing.  I put together a list of meals, but know that I ned to be  flexible.  We cook what we feel like eating from the list, instead of saying, "Well, it's Tuesday. We must have what's written on the list for Tuesday."

I try to mix things up a bit, but we stick to a pretty simple formula: protein, fruit or vegetable, side item.  The side item might be rice or a second vegetable.  Or sometimes, we'll go rogue and not have a side item.

I keep finding all of these amazing recipes on Pinterest, so I'm going to try to make at least one new one each week.  This week's new Pinterest recipe is for Quinoa Jambalaya courtesy of Oxygen Magazine.

This Looks Delicious
  • Quinoa jambalaya with shrimp and sausage 
  • Homemade pizza and fruit
  • Nachos with beef, refried beans, avocado and homemade salsa compliments of my brother
  • Baked chicken, rice, strawberries and garlic bread (yes, double carbs)
  • Salmon (marinated in soy sauce, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper then baked), corn, salad and fruit 
  • Breakfast for dinner: bacon and eggs

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Weekly Shopping Trip Report - April 8, 2012

My total this week was $154.80. My Texas Daily Harvest order will be delivered Tuesday and I made a trip to Sprouts.  They had a great sale on strawberries this week, so I stocked up.  They go bad really quickly, so we ate some fresh and the rest we sliced and froze for use in smoothies.  If I wasn't hindered by my back injury, I'd figure out how to make some homemade strawberry preserves.  Oh, well.  Another time.

Texas Daily Harvest, $40.47
  • 2 dozen eggs ($10.00)
  • 1 pound beef breakfast sausage ($6.99)
  • 1 pound ground beef ($6.49)
  • 1 pound of bacon ($9.99)
  • Local honey, 16 oz. ($6.00)
  • Delivery Fee ($1.00)
Sprouts, $114.33

  • Bakery, $7.37  (wheat bread, french bread, pizza crust)
  • Bulk, $5.98  (almond toffee granola, brown rice, pretzels)
  • Dairy, $21.86 (yogurt, cottage cheese, butter, soy milk, cows milk, orange juice)
  • Deli, $9.23  (shredded mozzarella, pepperoni, sliced turkey)
  • Meat, $22.56  (shrimp, salmon, chicken, pork sausage)
  • Frozen, $5.98 (ice cream, frozen corn)
  • Grocery, $20.24  (crackers, canned beans, pasta sauce, tortilla chips, italian soda)
  • Produce, $20.74 (strawberries, clementines, cucumber, tomatoes, bell peppers, avocados, spring mix, bananas, grapes)
Other Stuff

I'm not sure when the CSA delivery will start (in a few weeks, I hope), but we had to pay a $25 planting fee, plus the last two weeks $68, in advance. I'm not including this $93 in my total for this week.

I also got a notice that there was a Whole Foods gift card on Plastic Jungle available.  I bought a $500 gift card at a 3% discount, so for $485.  I haven't received this in the mail yet and will be using it to pay for my groceries over the next month or so.  These don't come available very often, so I jumped at the chance.  $15 is $15, right?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Final Countdown

A few weeks ago I turned 39.  I didn't like it.  Because that means next birthday I'll be 40.




I don't want to be overweight and unhealthy when I turn 40.  I want to be in kick-ass shape and be accused of being a MILF when I'm 40. I want to embrace 40.

Yes, yes I do.

I have 11 months.

So, the CSA and the organic food is only part of it.  The other part is getting a handle on how much food I'm consuming and exercise (which right now doesn't happen at all).

Stephen and I talked about it and decided to make an investment in us.  We joined a very nice athletic club about a two minute drive from our house.  We could walk there if we were so inclined.

As part of joining, we each get a session with a nutritionist and three sessions with a personal trainer.  The first session will be an assessment as to where we are. (This scares me.)  The other two sessions will be to show us the exercise program they've put together for each of us.

I'm excited and hopeful.  I can't wait to meet with the nutritionist and learn about food and what we should be feeding our bodies.  It's going to be a great opportunity to teach our kids.  Our kids are very healthy, slim and active in sports. We need to match our children!

I'll take a before picture and track my progress.  I want a strong, healthy body.  Think Jennifer Garner in Alias.  That's what I'm after.

It's going to be a lot of hard work, but I'm ready.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easy, Healthy Lunch

Fresh. Easy. Delicious.
Because I'm trying to recover from a back injury, I'm spending my time not sitting upright.  I am not supposed to be lifting things or moving around a lot and that means meals need to be super easy to prepare.

This one fits the bill.  It took me exactly two seconds to put together and it was fabulous.

I sliced a tomato, part of a cucumber, then added greek peppers and olives from the olive bar at Whole Foods.  I added some feta cheese, greek seasoning, the juice of half a lemon and a tiny bit of olive oil.

I can see this becoming a go-to lunch option.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


The farm (Texas Daily Harvest) from which we buy our organic dairy, grass-fed beef, pork, chicken and eggs is going to have a CSA this spring and summer.  I'm really excited.

For $34 per week, we'll get a large share of seasonal, organic, local produce.  They've promised 20 weeks worth of produce (although they may not be consecutive weeks depending on production.)

For those who have been reading my blog, we previously got an every-other-week share from Urban Acres.  We loved it, but it was every two weeks and super heavy on the greens and not as much fruit.  I'm hoping the CSA will be a little more balanced.

I might only have to go the grocery store once every couple of weeks this spring and summer. We should be able to get our dairy, eggs, meat and produce from TDH.  The only thing we'll need to get from the grocery store will be bread, snacks, grains, flour, sugar, spices, fish, nut butter and deli meat. I should be able to do that every two weeks.

Most everything I need on a weekly basis can be purchased from Texas Daily Harvest, including organic coffee and local honey.  Plus, I like knowing we are supporting local farmers.

I can't wait to see what we get in the CSA share!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Weekly Menu Planning

This is what I plan to make this week.* If this week goes like every other week, one of the meals I plan won't happen.

Breakfast during the week is oatmeal, cereal or scrambled eggs.  We get a little more adventurous on the weekends since we have more time.  Not sure what's going to happen this weekend -- could be bacon and eggs, pancakes or french toast.  We leave it to whatever we're in the mood for. Last weekend it was fried eggs on toasted baguettes with avocado and tomato.  It was delicious.

I try to pack the kids' lunches during the week.  I hate it when they eat in the cafeteria -- the food isn't the healthiest and it's expensive ($5.50 per kid).  The hubs and I eat leftovers from dinner. We go out with co-workers or friends about once a week. It used to be every day. We're making progress.

Dinners (in no particular order)
  • Pasta with shrimp and jalapeno cilantro pesto (minus the pesto for my son)
  • Tacos (a staple in our home) with fresh fruit
  • Steamed fish, salad, corn and roasted potatoes/homemade baked french fries
  • Grilled chicken breast, rice/quinoa and steamed carrots
  • Bacon, eggs and fresh fruit
  • A crockpot dish of some kind, usually cobbled together from a meat in the freezer and any leftover veggies/grain/pasta in the frig
I found a recipe on Pinterest I'm going to make this weekend for a no bake dessert treat. More on that later.

*I threw out my back about two weeks ago, so this all depends on how I'm feeling.  I'm on my second round of steroids and go in for an MRI today. Yes, it sucks. Suckety suck suck suck.

My parents are watching the kids while Stephen takes me for the MRI. The kids will get taken out to dinner at a restaurant. Stephen and I will eat whatever when we get home.

Weekly Shopping Trip Report - March 30, 2012

This week I took a late Friday shopping excursion to Whole Foods.  Good news, though: My new reusable produce and bulk bags I bought from Joyce1492 on Etsy arrived. They are fabulous!  I'm trying to incorporate the tips from Bea Johnson and using reusable bags and jars is one of them.

I gathered up my shopping bags, produce bags, glass jars and off I went.  The WF employee at the customer service counter weighed the tare of my containers and I hit the produce section first.  I don't have enough jars yet, but I should in the next few weeks as I have been making a conscious effort to buy items in glass jars where possible (as opposed to plastic).

The produce bags are awesome. I wished I had more, but I've ordered additional bags (including a bread bag!) from ThreadBareStitcher on Etsy and am anxiously awaiting their arrival. I should be good to go once they get here.

The Bulk Aisle Goods
Apples and Citrus
The Shrimp
I filled up mixed produce in two of the bags, which the cashier sorted without complaint.

Next up was the meat counter.  I needed shrimp and handed over the jar.  No problem!

When I got to the check-out counter, the cashier had a little difficulty with a couple of the jars I filled with items from the olive bar (jalapeƱo cilantro pesto and assorted olives and greek peppers).  When the price popped up I told him I didn't think it was quite right.  He quickly corrected the error and we were good to go.

The Whole She-Bang: Not a Great Picture
Whole Foods Summary

I used all of my own shopping bags, bought dog food and toilet paper.  The total was $152.14

There were several "out of the ordinary" purchases this week that increased my total.  First, my favorite pasta was on sale for $1.39 per package instead of $1.99 per package, so I got 4.  Second, I bought chocolate chips ($6.69) from the bulk bin and a box of 100 Stevia packets ($5.99) which are not weekly purchases.  Finally, the Bell & Evans chicken nuggets (a must have for nights when you just don't feel like cooking) were on sale buy one get one free ($7.49 for two).  I wasn't originally planning on buying them, but that's a great price so I got two boxes.  

Otherwise, here's how it broke down:
  • Produce, $29.44 (oranges, apples, bananas, strawberries, watermelon, limes, tomatoes, mint, avacado, mixed field greens)
  • Meat, $21.07 (shrimp, chicken nuggets, turkey breast, salami)
  • Drinks, $18.74 (milk, goat milk, orange juice, apple juice, sparkling water, root beer)
  • Dog Food, $14.99
  • Toilet Paper, $3.99
  • Other, $63.91 (salsa, refried beans, bulk items -- oats, cereal, chocolate chips, chocolate covered pretzels and veggie chips, pasta, ice cream, baguette, pop chips, harissa, olive bar stuff, bag of shredded cheese)
Texas Daily Harvest Summary (All Organic/Grass-Fed/Pastured/Free Range)

I bought a dozen eggs, one pound of roasted coffee, 8 ounces of colby cheese, bacon and a pound of ground beef from Texas Daily Harvest that will be delivered Tuesday.  This cost $41.48.  


My total for the week was $193.62.

This included dog food and toiletries. We have two dogs: Toby is 13 and is a border collie/shepherd mix.  Eddie is a 10 month old miniature dachshund/chihuahua mix.  The dog food I bought is for Toby and should last her about a week.  Eddie still has food from a previous bag we bought for him. I plan on learning how to make dog food myself later this year. It's on the list of things to do, along with learning how to make my own cleaning supplies.

Because this was a late evening trip, my ravenous, whiny children were crawling all over me for dinner, so I had to make it. Stat!  We had sandwiches on part of the baguette, fresh fruit and pop chips. Nothing fancy, but delicious.

A little trivia about this post: I had half of it drafted. One bad move with the delete button and *poof* it disappeared. Gah!

Tomorrow I'll post what I plan on cooking this week.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Homemade Cleaning Supplies

I've been thinking about making my own cleaning supplies.  I read somewhere about using baking soda and vinegar as the basis for a cleaner and I tried it on our toilets.  It worked really, really well.  Which made me wonder why I've been buying toilet cleaner that has God only knows what in it.

I've been collecting recipes on Pinterest and came across this recipe for Homemade Handsoap.

This is going on the list of recipes to try!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Reducing Waste One Step at a Time

In the last few days I've taken these steps to start our waste reduction journey:
  • Ordered from Etsy some bulk bags. Two great things about this: I'm supporting home-based businesses in the United States and I'm getting some awesome reusable bags.
  • Found a local resale shop that I will be taking the kids' outgrown clothes to.
  • Called my local Whole Foods to confirm that I can use my own containers in the bulk aisle and in the meat department. I took my containers in, they weighed the tare no problem, and I didn't have any issues at the meat counter when I asked to have my chicken put in a tupperware container.
One of my friends took a trip to Toronto and brought back this beautiful jar full of syrup for our family:

I love the glass jar -- it's a beautiful maple leaf. I took it to Whole Foods and refilled it with bulk syrup. (You can see the green sticker that shows the weight of the jar on its own.)

I won't be buying any more tupperware containers when I can reuse the glass jars that are coming into my home (salsa, apple sauce, etc.).

I purchased a large container of yogurt today (as opposed to six small containers) and will be able to reuse that container as well.

We've started going through our cabinets and are putting items we don't need or use in boxes to get out of our house.

I feel like I'm being flooded with information. My friend told me this morning about a website calling for "Collaborative Consumption." We talked about having a toy swap with our kids (DVDs, Wii and Nintendo games). We can recycle our games, get new-to-us fun stuff and not spend a dime. Apparently the site includes a video you can show the kids. I'm going to check it out.

There's so much to learn. I really feel like my eyes have been opened. I'm tired of being suffocated by the stuff, by the trash, by the waste of it all.

It's going to take time to get all of the excess out of our home, but I feel good about it.

I'll start posting again on my shopping, recipes and the budget, too. For now, I'll leave you with this picture of my kitchen:

What started out as putting together a list of projects for the house very quickly turned into this. It's going to make the kitchen a lot more open (there was a wall there with a peek through window). Since we are purging our excess, there should be plenty of room for our stuff even though we've lost six upper cabinets. Thank goodness my hubby is handy. He's doing all the work himself. At least all of the work for Phase I. Phase II will require a plumber, but we won't be tackling that for a long time.

A New Discovery

I have been schooled. In a good way.

Yesterday I discovered Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home. Holy cow. She blogs about reducing waste. It's amazing what she has been able to accomplish.

In six months, all of the trash her family of 4 generated can fit into the palm of her hand.

It made me think hard about what my family is doing. We generate so much trash (and a lot of recyclables). It's not unusual for us to fill up a full trash bin (overflowing, hoping the trash guys don't revolt) and still have more trash in other bins each week. The recycle bin is usually full, as well.

Our house is full of clutter. We are all guilty. I have a lot of books, paper and clothes. My husband has tools, more clothes than me (yes, really) and books and paper. The kids - oh, the toys. My son is pretty good, he's not a packrat like the rest of us. My daughter's room makes me want to cry with all of the clothes, toys, paper, dolls and MESS.

And waste.

Just as I was excited when I discovered Michael Pollan, which prompted me to do some research, so did Bea Johnson get me excited about reducing and simplifying. I've been doing more research, this time about ways to reduce our trash generation. The first step is to arm yourself with knowledge.

You don't know what you don't know.

But now I know. And I'm gonna do something about it.