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Another NSD & a change in my menu with ideas needed

January 9th, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I got off work at 1 and came straight home. I haven't spent a penny today! I didn't buy any coffee or tea at work, no food, nada! Unless I have to go out for some reason I should be at home the rest of the day, not spending money. Smile

I took a breakfast sandwich and ate it when I got a couple minutes. I sure am glad I took it, too, because I got very hungry and would have bought something if I hadn't had that sandwich.

So now I'm at home. The other package of boneless ribs the boss and I bought is thawing. She's requested some cooked in a way other than how we had them for New Years so I'll do something with them this evening. I'd like to use the slow cooker and am considering marinating them in Dale's then sprinkling them with garlic powder and pan frying them a bit before putting them in the slow cooker for the night.

I'm open to other ideas on how to prepare them but whatever I do it needs to be done tonight as I have to be at work at 7:30 in the morning.

2 NSDs, cooking for one, odds & ends

January 8th, 2012 at 09:42 am

Wednesday was a no spend day and yesterday was another. Awesome! I can't recall the last time I managed that but hope I have many more in the future. Smile

Today was destined to not be one because of the laundry. I went to the washateria this morning but it was closed. I needed to burn about 20 minutes until it opened so I drove to Albertson's and am glad I did. They had boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.79 lb so I got 2 packages of those. They also had boneless sirloin steak for $2.99 a lb so I got a few of those. When I got home I divided it all into one serving portions, used the vacuum sealer, and now have plenty of meat in the freezer again. I hadn't planned on spending that $20 but my supply of meat was getting very low and I don't pass up a good deal on meat, especially when I'm so low on it.

When I got home I put the clothes away (by the way, I spent $2.50 on the laundry) and ended up getting sidetracked by canvas bags. Yes, canvas bags. I had several in the closet and they all had stuff in them and for some reason it was bothering me to not know what all was in them so I cleaned them all out, threw away the old trash, gum wrappers and whatnot, put away other items, etc. and now I have them all hanging together on one hanger. In the process of going through them I found my iPod headphones I thought I'd lost, several small bottles of bath/shower gel, and 15 cents. It was almost like Christmas! Wink

I spent some time yesterday looking at "cooking for one" sites and am dismayed how few helpful ones there are. I found a lot of sites saying that's their purpose but they don't give a lot of practical information or actual recipes. Contrary to what one would think, it isn't always as easy as cutting a recipe in half or thirds or whatever. Yes, it often works that way but not every time. I did find a few sites with helpful information and recipes, though, and will spend time today pillaging and plundering.

Tonight's dinner will be the turkey ham and cabbage from my menu but I'm going to change it a little. I have about 3 ounces of chicken broth languishing in the fridge so I'm going to use that with a bit of butter and olive oil to fry the cabbage, onion, sweet potato, and turkey ham all together. I might pass on the green beans but am not sure about that yet.

I work tomorrow but it's a fairly short shift and I don't get a meal break so I shouldn't need to take lunch or buy anything there. I might even be able to make it a NSD!

Menu for January 8th - 14th & a new goal

January 7th, 2012 at 07:16 am

I know that menu planning helps me stay within my food budget and eat better so I'm returning to that and am going to work hard to take it seriously. It might seem silly for a household of 1 but it is what it is and I need to take whatever actions necessary to keep the food budget under control and still eat nutritious meals.

Since my very recent epiphany that I love to cook but don't necessarily love to eat after I've cooked, I've decided to concentrate on cooking very small amounts of food and not preparing a new dish unless I have no leftovers or the ones I have are planned for in another meal. Over the last year or so my skill (to me it really IS a skill to cook for one and not a horde or even just two if that's what one is accustomed to) in those has improved but as evidenced by the containers in my fridge I'm not yet proficient and improving that area of my kitchen life has become a goal for 2012.

Breakfast today was the last of the mexican stew (I think I hear a choir of angels singing in the background!) and I get the feeling fried cabbage and onions might be in my future for this evening!

The rest of the week I'll have, in no particular order:

Stir fried chicken and vegetables with a small amount of brown rice (had this tonight)

Pan fried tilapia with 1/2 a baked sweet potato and salad

Large salad with chicken, tomato and plenty of cheese

Pan fried sliced turkey ham with baked cabbage, 1/2 a baked sweet potato, and green beans (had this)

Vegetable soup with homemade noodles

Tuna patties with salad and spinach

Whatever leftovers are in the fridge (had this)

Now, I think it's okay to change the plan a little. You know, I'm not in the mood for spinach so I have green beans with my tuna or I'm not in the mood for tuna so I have boiled eggs but I've decided it's not okay for me to decide I don't want tuna and prepare a five course meal including cornish game hen and scallops. Wink There's nothing wrong with a meal like that but I need to plan for it. I think that's a fairly reasonable request - does it seem so to you???

Saturday evening edit - I decided to have the stir fried chicken and vegetables tonight and succeeded in preparing just enough for one meal. I did make a little bit extra brown rice but it will get eaten tomorrow morning.

I paid close attention to how much of each ingredient I used to ensure I wasn't preparing too much and it worked well. I used one boneless skinless chicken breast, 1/3 of a yellow squash, 1/3 of a zucchini, a very small amount of chopped onion and chopped red bell pepper and a few baby carrots. That seemed to be the right amount of those ingredients for one good sized meal. I'll have to remember that because it seems to me that slightly smaller quantities with liquid and spices would be right for soup.

Thrifty eating, another $5 a month cut out, cable gone & a weekend off!

January 6th, 2012 at 08:29 pm

I worked today and took lunch and a drink but still ended up buying a drink while there. I also had to get half and half (a requirement for my coffee!) so this evening I went to Albertson's and spent $12 on a few things. I still have $15 in my grocery budget to last til the end of next week so I'm doing fine on that.

Dinner was more of that delicious Mexican stew and a bit of the King Ranch Chicken. It was a very good meal but I'm so thankful there's just a little of that stew left! I'll probably have it for breakfast and finally be done with it.

I changed my Spotify subscription to the $4.95 a month plan so that cuts out another $5 per month. That isn't a lot but it all adds up, right? Between not spending money on cigarettes and the other changes I've made, my monthly outgo should now be about $346 less.

346! That's a substantial difference, y'all!

The cable company sent their tech out this evening to disconnect my cable television service so that's done.

And I'm actually off this weekend. It's not often I get a weekend off so I'm going to savor this one and relax. And probably look for other places and ways to cut expenses!

Finally had a NSD, $1 bill challenge, 3 weeks of not smoking & more

January 6th, 2012 at 03:59 am

So yesterday I finally had a NSD! I didn't even leave the apartment except to go out on the patio to enjoy the absolutely stunningly beautiful weather we had! I just checked my calendar and I have no bills due today. I don't need gas in the vehicle, don't need to get groceries, and if I can refrain from buying anything at work, I can get another NSD. That would be fun.

Here it is the 6th of January and I have one little dollar bill for the $1 bill challenge. *sigh* I've been staying out of stores, don't stop for cigarettes anymore, etc so I haven't had need for any bills, I guess. Wink

But hey, today makes three weeks since I've bought/smoked a cigarette! That's equal to $178 not spent on those things and that's a neat way to end my week!

Interesting that although I canceled the cable TV service a couple of days ago it's still working. I'm not watching it, though. I figure I need to get used to not having it so I just leave it off, flipping it on in the morning to see if it's still working. It is as of an hour or so ago. The change was supposed to be effective immediately but I don't know much about this stuff so I'll let it go a few days to see what happens.

The mexican stew and king ranch chicken in my fridge are going to work with me today and I hope both containers are empty when I clock out! I have the feeling they will be. I just have to come up with ideas to keep me from cooking when I have a fridge full of leftovers to eat.

That's about it for yesterday and this morning. Nothing too exciting other than the Quit. Smile

Thursday epiphany - seriously!

January 5th, 2012 at 04:30 pm

I had an epiphany today - not in the religious sense but in the "a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience." sense. (Thank you, dictionary.com!)

I was looking in my refrigerator for the cheese I needed for the King Ranch Chicken written about at homesicktexan.com (Thank you, CCraw!) and as I looked at the five containers of leftovers that need to be eaten it hit me - I love to cook but I don't necessarily love to eat what I've cooked! Let me repeat that. I love to cook but I don't necessarily love to eat what I've cooked. Slowly now. I-love-to-cook-but-I-don't-necessarily-love-to-eat-what-I've-cooked. The light bulb went off as I looked at the stacks of food that were soon going to have to make room for the leftover King Ranch Chicken and I almost fell over. How could I not have seen this before?

I love to cook but the eating of what I cook is often simply a chore to me. I eat enough to judge the recipe, rip it up, spit it out, etc. but I don't actually dig in and enjoy it. I don't savor it. I don't linger over the scents and flavors like I do food that I don't cook. I basically eat it without paying much attention to it because by the time it's ready, I'm bored!

It explains so much;the almost constant overflow of food languishing in the fridge, the overspending on the grocery budget, the leisurely pace at which I grocery shop when all other shopping means I run in, grab what I need and get the hell out, perhaps even the lack of interest I have in plating and presentation of the food. Of course, the latter can also be explained by the fact that I feed just me. But still. Do you see where I'm going with this?

It might not seem to be much of an issue but it is when one is opposed to waste and on a limited budget. Today I made King Ranch Chicken when I have two containers of chicken and dumplings, a large container of mexican stew, and two containers of beef and barley soup. I didn't need to prepare another dish! But I did. And now I have six containers of leftovers in the fridge.

I dislike how most food tastes when it's cooked, frozen, then reheated though I don't mind it with soups and things with very little to no meat. So freezing everything isn't the answer. The answer is apparently to make smaller amounts, make myself eat what's in the fridge before preparing more, etc.

If you have ideas on this, please share them with me as I absolutely have to get this under control.

Now that I'm aware of this I might find it easier to control it but I need some input and suggestions. I'm trying to figure out what to do with the food that's in the fridge now. The mexican stew will be fine in the freezer but not the other stuff. Oh wow, how could I not have seen this??

WANTED: Your favorite quick homemade meals

January 4th, 2012 at 08:51 pm

One of the budget busters for me is food. Not necessarily my daily food but eating out and 'convenience' foods bought because I'm tired, hungry and my cranky pants are just too darn tight. I have the eating out issue under control for the most part but still need ideas for quick homemade meals.

It would be great if they were also healthy but even if they're not I can probably play with the ingredients enough to make it healthy.

One of my favorites is what I had this afternoon before I headed to work: pan fried tilapia with mukimame. It takes less than 15 minutes to make and is so much tastier than a hamburger, not to mention a lot healthier, too!

So, what are some of your favorite quick homemade meals?

Orange Jello Salad gives me such a happy :)

January 4th, 2012 at 06:26 pm

I mentioned finding sugar free, splenda sweetened mandarin oranges today and being excited because it meant I could have one of my favorite desserts again. CCraw asked for the recipe for that dessert and here it is.

Orange Jello Salad

1 can mandarin oranges
1 sm. can crushed pineapples
1 lg. pkg. Orange Jello
2 lb. cottage cheese
1 container Cool Whip

Drain together mandarin oranges and pineapple. In large bowl, sprinkle Jello over cottage cheese. Let dissolve. Mix, then add fruit, mix again. Add container of Cool Whip. Mix.

I always preferred it without the pineapple and whipped cream, though, so today I just used about a third of a small package of sugar free orange jello (dry), somewhere around a cup and a half of cottage cheese, and about half the can of sugar free mandarin oranges. I don't use particular quantities - I just add and mix until it tastes right. Smile

I took some to work with me and had it on my break and I can't even tell you the happy it gave me!

Ugh, a spendy day!

January 4th, 2012 at 11:12 am

I paid the rent and water today and they came to $576. I also did some grocery shopping. Y'all, I did pretty well at resisting but still spent $32.36. I've budgeted $100 for January so that's a third of it. One of the items I got was my Vitamin D supplement and it was $6 of the total so meh, perhaps it isn't as bad as I figure.

I don't think I splurged, really, though the can of sugar free mandarin oranges might be considered a luxury. I love that silly salad with cottage cheese, dry orange jello, and mandarin oranges but it's way too high in carbs for me and would require a lot of insulin to enjoy so I haven't had it in close to 15 years. So when I saw the can of splenda sweetened mandarin oranges I got very excited! I can have one of my all time favorite desserts again!! In moderation, of course. Smile

I guess considering the dead weight I cut out today a little splurge of $1.38 for mandarin oranges isn't so bad.

Go, me!

I got rid of a lot of dead weight today! Amazing!

January 4th, 2012 at 08:34 am

A little while ago I canceled my cable TV service and downgraded my cable internet to 'standard'. The prorated bill for this month is $69 but next month it will be $60 plus the one time fee of $45. The month after that it will be just the $60 or so. Wow, what a change that will be from the $116 I've been paying!

$56 a month is nothing to sneeze at and not having cable TV will encourage me to read more and get out of my apartment more.

I also canceled a $45 every three months subscription to a website I access but only occasionally. No need if I don't use it!

Then I went to Netflix and changed my membership to streaming only and cut my expense there by $8 a month.

The total for those three changes comes to $79 a month! When that's added to not spending, on average, $258 a month on cigarettes, the total is astounding at $337! A month! Yippeee!

Ladies and gents, that's half my rent! Or a nice sum of money to split between charity and my vacation fund.

Wooohoo, what a way to start the new year!

19 days without smoking = $162 not spent on cigarettes

January 4th, 2012 at 04:42 am

162 pennies in the jar. Absolutely beautiful. Smile

Have you walked away from cable television?

January 3rd, 2012 at 08:03 pm

I'm on the verge of canceling my cable television. I'll keep cable internet as it's one of very few internet options where I live but I can save somewhere near $38 a month by giving up the television option.

Update - I just called the cable company and I currently have "enhanced" cable internet. If I get rid of the cable TV, the monthly cost for just the internet will be about $90 and there's a one time fee of $45 billed to me. The total bill is about $116 a month so I'd save only about $26 a month by getting rid of the cable TV.

The only thing that's holding me back is uncertainty about whether there's enough web based viewing options to satisfy me. That might sound silly but let me explain. I very rarely watch local news or any news. I get almost all news online. I don't watch shopping channels or cooking shows and only rarely watch the occasional comedy show. So what do I watch? Movies and what I call "The Law & Order channel", TNT. I also watch USA and History. I like series like 'Bones', 'Lie to Me', and 'The Mentalist' and am into biographies and history shows, also. I'm not necessarily opposed to other shows but find myself drawn to shows like the aforementioned ones and am not sure there are enough shows like that with web based only viewing.

I have Netflix and at the moment have both streaming and DVDs but am going to streaming only this month.

So, have you given up cable television for web based viewing? If so, how has it worked out for you? I'd really like to do it!