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.