Another Cheap Dinner Option – Frittata

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As you may have noticed, pictures have been a bit sparse on the website.  I’m borrowing J.’s computer these days because it’s a little faster, but most of my pictures are on another computer.  Ah, the complicate

d joys of technology.  Anyway, here are some photos of one of dinners this week: frittata.  Every ingredient is from the farmers market.  I didn’t calculate the cost of each ingredient, but I’d venture a guess that it’s roughly $5 a serving.  This frittata also makes use of a couple of egg whites left over from making mayo.

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Perspective on Wardrobe

On the eve of returning back to work, I posted in minor desperation about what I felt was a lack of a wardrobe to return to work.  Well, it’s two weeks later and I’ve managed to get by.  I dressed professionally every day without repeating an outfit or buying anything new.  And I don’t get the sense that I’m at the total end of options, either. 

This gives me valuable perspective.  We women often get that “I have nothing to wear” feeling, while our male counterparts can make it just fine on 3 pairs of slacks and 5 shirts.  I think my previous perspective came from a place of not feeling good about myself in what I had to wear.  These are my fat clothes.  These are not the clothes that would cause a co-worker to compliment me in the hallway.  But these clothes look just fine and if I had to meet a client in them, I wouldn’t be embarrased.  So, now, I choose to derive my self esteem from the fact that I was capable of sticking to my guns and using the stuff I already have without needlessly spending money that I need to be saving.

I gotta admit, it does feel pretty good.

On the flip side, no progress on the weight loss side.  Grr.  I’m starting to consider atkins, but I know that as soon as I stop it the weight will come back and be even harder to lose.

Saving is FUNdamental: Making a Meal Plan

Here’s the current meal plan for the week:

  • zucchini pasta carbonara
  • Roast chicken with carrot salad
  • Roasted veggie pizza (since we liked it so much last week)
  • Fritatta with spicey sausage, potatoes, torpedo onions, cheese, tomato for garnish
  • Salmon with asparagus & rice

The salmon was the priciest dish of the bunch — $16.95 lb.  There are other minor splurges in there — like the pasta is from the farmer’s market and is a fresh pasta (which we then freeze).  It’s much cheaper to go the dry pasta route and buy in bulk.  And, of course, the chicken is of the pricey organic/free range variety.  The pork sausage is pasture raised. 

As I look to tightening my budget even further, I’m still not willing to compromise on the source or quality of the meat.   The pasta, however, I am considering going the cheaper route.

For the following week, I want to brainstorm regarding cheaper meals to make with turkey/chicken or just vegetarian options.  I am not a huge fan of poultry, but I need to make some compromises if I want to increase my savings.

Another huge challenge I made for myself is nixing the eating out for lunch.  I need to either pack my lunch, or go home for lunch (which will give me the added bonus of seeing Max and J. at lunch time.  I guess I have to make an exception for days when I didn’t bring my lunch and work requires me to work through lunch.  This one will be hard.

Savings is FUNdamental – Spicey Edition

I have a confession to make.  The hypocrisy of it all didn’t quite occur to me, but for all my railings against convenience cooking products…for years I’ve been using taco and fajita seasoning packets.  They were easy.  They were mindless, they gave my dishes the right combo of mexican flavors.

But no more!  I looked at the ingredients, and they aren’t recognizable.  I’ve also been shelling $2-$3 on each packet, and I make mexican food once a week.  Meanwhile, I have a cupboard full of spices that are going stale or unused, taking up valuable space.  I found this substitute online.  I happen to have every single one of these ingredients, which means I have no excuse.

It’s not a huge savings, but it’s something and I’ll get satisfaction from using up stuff that I already have.

Savings is Fundamental UPDATE

As much as I love the idea of used bookstores, in practice, I hate going in them.  I don’t like the smell and they are so packed in that I feel claustrophobic in them.  But the other day, I went inside a used bookstore down the street and picked up two Dr. Seuss books.  (Green Eggs & Ham and I Can Read With My Eyes Shut)

J. and I read them to Max.  It had been a long time since we did that as it was too difficult to keep him quiet/interested before.  But this time, he seemed to be really paying attention.  He sat still, watched our mouths, watched the colorful pages.  It was really fun!  Especially for me since I had never read those books before.  (I moved to this country a little later in life.)

Anyhoo, the tab for both books?  $7 and change.  Much cheaper than buying them new, and Max would never know the difference.

My Contribution to Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!  Our home is a smidge less happy.  The whole family has a cold.  It’s our first family sickness, and Max’s first cold.   So, we haven’t had much sleep.

J. has introduced me to the Neti Pot.   It’s a wonderful tool to combat congestion or allergies.  Here’s a video link on how to use it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8KOsNtpV8w.  The beauty of it (if you overlook the ick factor of anything nostril related) is that it does such an effective job of clearing sinuses and it doesn’t rely on medication or a boxfull of tissues.  It’s also easier on the skin so that you don’t end up with red nose action.

img_3478In other news.  I somehow volunteered to make a cake for a bachelorette party.  Thought I’d do a practice run with these zucchini muffins and loaf bread.  Here they are in the background.  It’s a Paula Dean recipe — which I’ve never tried before.  Looking forward to dessert tonight. 

(Oh, and I have extra shredded zucchini which I will put on freezer pizza from the farmer’s market tonight)

Savings is Fundamental – Update

Max is getting bigger and outgrowing some of his developmental toys.  I figured I would buy him a jumparoo type contraption.  This is a device that’s supposed to help entertain a baby in one spot giving the parent a little more freedom to move away.  I went to the store, prepared to shell out $100 on one of these things.  When I finally saw it up close, it seemed huge.  This thing would take up half my living room.

In the end, I settled on a few brightly colored small toys for a total of about $20 instead.  This picture shows one of Max’s favorites.

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 I know some people swear by the jumparoo — but I have a feeling we’ll get along well without it.  (just like we did without the video monitor, and other odds and ends)

Taking Pride In Ownership

First: my Savings Challenge act of the last few days was using a coupon for pizza last night. Yes, we ordered pizza (for pick up) as a treat for a very long week. As a kid, we used to clip coupons for fast food all the time. Then, somewhere along the way we decided that it wasn’t worth our time to even bother. But you know, there’s something gratifying about finding a coupon for something you want anyway.

Now, on the subject of this post. It amazes me how quickly stuff breaks or looks old. We have a few white mugs that J. and I use to drink tea and coffee every morning. Soon enough the inside of those mugs (and accompanying spoons) look stained and yucky. They go through the dishwasher like everything else, but they look so dirty that I’m embarrased to show them to guests.

Well, I saw a bit on the Today show where they recommended using a solution of 1 part baking soda, 3 parts hot water, filling the mugs to the top, mixing it up, and letting it rest overnight. The next morning, the baking soda will form a crust on the edges. Using a scouring pad and some elbow grease to remove the crust will show off a brand new looking mug. Likewise for the spoon.

I was so proud of myself as I marched with mugs to J. to show off my handywork. I hope I will be as resourceful when we finally own a home. Fixing things — or better yet, taking care of them so that they stay looking new.

I’m this close to plastic covers on my couch, grandma style. (It would sure help with all of Max’s spit up). img_2706

That reminds me, I took 3 of my throw pillows to the dry cleaner to spiff them up. I’ve never done that before. They sure did come out clean, but are lumpy now and have kind of lost their shape. I think I’d want to re-apholster the couch once Max gets a little older.

First Rule of Organization

I’ll admit it and my former roommates will second it, I am not an organized person.   It seems like there’s too much “stuff” for the space that I have.  I put together boxes of stuff to give to Goodwill, and they’ll sit in a corner of the apartment because I have a strange compulsion — like I’ll need the bright yellow pants I bought in Miami when I was stuck there for the night and the airline lost my luggage.

The first rule of organization is before you bring anything new into the house, an equivalent item has to go.  I can’t imagine doing this, but I need to get into the habit of giving stuff away before I am overrun with stuff like a compulsive horder. 

It’s particularly evident with baby stuff.  I only bought a few articles of clothing for him.  The rest is stuff that people gave me.  He outgrew a lot of it in 10 minutes.  J. suggested we give his old clothes away to a pregnant co-worker of his.  I resisted because we could have another son — and I have emotional memories of some of these items.  I think I need to shake myself out of this.  I’m a middle child and I don’t think I relished wearing hand-me-downs in my early days.  And if we got this many gifts now (without even having a shower), we’ll likely get stuff with the next kid. 

Afterall, the longer we can manage to live in this apartment without busting at the seems and moving somewhere bigger, the more money we’ll save.  Also, who needs to pay to move this stuff anyway?img_3279

How to Really Work a Sale

img_3190Like you all, I get a lot of email from organizations and stores.  Most of the time I delete them without reading them. 

Before the baby came, we signed up for a  parenting center because some of my friends with babies swore by it.  It’s a place where you can take parenting classes, buy all your baby gear, get references for lactation consultants, yoga, etc.  I don’t make it out to that center very often because I had a bad experience there with an overly pushy lactation consultant, combined with the fact that I found a better non-profit parenting center within walking distance. 

Earlier this week I got an email advertising 20% off at this store for member appreciation weekend.  Normally I would shrug this off.  However, I kept it in the back of my mind on the chance that I would need some baby things.  I knew that if I went there to peruse without a plan, I would buy a bunch of stuff that I didn’t absolutely need. 

Over the next few days, I took note of things that popped up that I needed and went to the store today.  Good news! I only got things on the list:  a pacifier, a clip to fasten the pacifier to Max, a wide brimmed hat to protect him from the sun, and a portable crib/play pen so that he can sleep at my folks’ house or in a hotel with us if we ever get to travel again.

Then it also occured to me that while I was reasonably well read for the newborn days, I hadn’t read a thing about what to do with the baby past 3 months.  So, I checked out a book from the lending library at that center.   This book covers the first year.  I already distrust the author because she’s preachy about breastfeeding and actually listed not breastfeeding as a risk of death for the baby (i.e. a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).    I’m not too mad, though, because I saved the $15 I would have paid had I actually bought the book. 

The flip side is that now I can’t use the book as fireplace kindling.  Just kidding, I don’t have a fireplace.

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