Buy dinner for a week with $50

My monthly grocery budget is huge.

Feeding Hobbes, Ivan and Husband (and myself!) can get expensive. Ivan and Hobbes eat pricey pet food but don’t eat that much, and neither of them like people food… unless, of course, they’ve sneaked it out of the trash.

Then it’s a treat.

But Husband and I have ever-changing palettes. Some weeks we want veal and duck, and other weeks we’re happy with ground beef and Kroger chicken.

However, veal or chuck, the grocery budget is still huge.

Admittedly, I do purchase pricier food items than I used to buy. I spend an enormous amount of money on Greek yogurt, granola, Kashi cereals and power bars. (I usually hit a 10-4-$10 on Greek yogurt and a 10-4-$6 on Husband’s yogurt with coupons, but I can still spend upwards of $20 on yogurt alone.)

Fresh fruit and vegetable costs vary weekly and meat is always a different price per pound. Eggs got more expensive, and I’ve given up on fancy cheese and nuts.

But why not just buy cheaper food like I used to advocate?

Well, I research and blog about diet and health, and I post recipes (that may or may not be that healthy)… I just feel like I ought to eat what I preach, you know? Husband is on board, and the dog has been eating expensive food since birth for his health.

…the cat licks his own business… he doesn’t get to vote…

The point is that I spend way too much money on groceries weekly. I want a smaller grocery budget, and EatingWell created one way I can put some greens on my plate and keep some in the bank.

EatingWell designed a five-night dinner menu made up healthy food for $50. The magazine even created the shopping list including what I would have in my pantry.

I am ALL about Stir-Fry Thursday.

What’s your grocery budget like? Do you coupon? If you don’t, you really have to obsess yourself with it. I find my shopping trips to be happily more stressful! ;)

Honey Mustard Salmon with Roasted Asparagus

I thought I hated asparagus…

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus with Salt and Pepper…until I had it with salmon.

Asian Honey Mustard Baked Salmon RecipeHoney-Mustard Salmon with Roasted Asparagus
Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 salmon fillets (I only had two and should have reduced my sauce by half.)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 lb asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (I did not use a full 1/4 cup. Too much cheese.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Combine butter and brown sugar in a bowl. Microwave until they have melted together, about 30 seconds. Stir in mustard, soy sauce and honey.

Toss asparagus with a tablespoon of oil, the Parmesan and salt and pepper. Place the stalks in a baking dish and roast until al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Heat remaining oil in an ovenproof skillet over high heat. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper, and then add to the pan, flesh side down. Cook until browned on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the fillets, brush on half the honey mustard and place the pan in the oven. Bake until fish is firm and flakes easily (but before white solids begin to form on the surface), about 5 minutes.

Remove fillets from the oven and brush with more honey mustard. Serve with asparagus.

Recipe for Honey Mustard Salmon and Roasted AsparagusDinner for the win, folks.

A day of healthy eating

For breakfast: Greek Yogurt

I tried Chobani and liked it so I thought I’d give Fage a try, but only because it was on sale.

I bought one Strawberry Goji- refraining from purchasing 10 just because it was a 10-4-10. (That’s how they get you.)

Greek Yogurt ReviewGreek Yogurt with JamBerries and Greek YogurtThe instructions said not to stir.

Yeah, right. I stirred and dipped my granola bar in it.

So good. Five stars. High fives. Many kudos. Eat this.

For lunch: Leftovers

I took leftover tomato soup, spinach salad with cheddar cheese and celery leaf and a Yoplait Lemon Tort Parfait (100 calories) to work for lunch.

Homade Tomato SoupFor dinner: Turkey Burgers and Berries

I convinced Husband to make turkey burgers for dinner because I didn’t want the peppers to go bad.

Sneaky me!

We do turkey burgers right in this house. Wheat buns, turkey burgers, romaine, peppers and onions, pepperoncini and SAUCES. (Shredded cheddar, too, if you really want to eat cheese.)

Berries, too! But this is not where dessert ended… Unfortunately.

Sigh.

Ruined a whole day of healthy eating with Ben & Jerry’s Cheesecake Brownie Ice Cream. I say “ruined,” but I mean “made completely more awesome.”

What did you eat today?

Resolutions: Week 1

I made those resolutions

…but for the first week of January, I faltered.

I did not fail at all of my resolutions! I have eaten more fruits and vegetables, and I cooked almost every night last week. On the menu: Beef and Barley Stew, Tomato Soup and Pork Chops Diane and Spicy Stir-Fry Chicken with Spinach and Peanuts. (New recipes to come in subsequent blog posts.)

I also went for any afternoon walk at work except on Monday (I did not have work) and Friday (I did not wear walkin’ shoes).

I have not vacuumed, but I did Swiffer my floors, dust and mop! That’s close enough.

Oh, and I high-fived Husband because he’s almost at his target weight. (Did you know men can bounce up and down within a day?! His ability to lose and cut calories astounds me. He’s like a role model only in Husband form.)

For the other resolutions… I do have an excuse.

I have not felt well. My body is doing weird “being sick but not really sick” things, such as feeling crappy and wanting to lay on the couch and eat soup.

Lots of soup.

I’m addicted to Campbell’s Soup commercials.

It’s ridiculous.

Hopefully, after a visit to the doctor, I’ll get to feeling better. I’m sure she’ll just yell at me for drinking too much coffee and tell me to get some rest.

Again.

…which brings me to My New Job.

In November, I applied for and was hired as the Marketing Specialist at a local, family-owned bank.

Marketing Specialist sounds fancy, right? I research… well, I research anything I am needed to research. As a grad student, I am certainly qualified to do research ;)

I love my job. I love researching! However, I think the change in schedule has messed with my system.

As a graduate teaching assistant and grad student, my schedule was not normal. I woke, ate, worked, studied and slept at the weirdest times. At the bank, I work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., which is considered a normal schedule. I eat breakfast in the morning before work. I eat lunch in the afternoon (and have snacks before and after my lunch hour). I eat dinner in the evening with my husband. I go to bed at a normal hour…

And that is when my system says: “Hey! Shae! Why are you sleeping?!”

When I was a server and bartender, I did not go to bed until 2 or 3 in the morning. As a graduate student of which I still am, I would and will stay awake until the work is done. My system is revolting against sleep at normal hours!

Since I started working at my new job and going to bed at a normal hour, I wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning… confused.

After sleeping four or five hours, my body tells me that I have had enough sleep and it’s time to wake up and do stuff.

So. Annoying.

I know I have to get used to it. I just hope it doesn’t take too long.

I suppose that is not a good excuse, but it is an excuse, and I’m sticking to it!

How are your resolutions? Did the first week of January treat you well, or are you dyin’ like me?

A not-so-skinny Christmas

Happy Christmas!

I hope everyone forgot to sleep in so they could open presents as early as possible! No one sleeps in on Christmas.

I slept until 8; I got up a little after Husband who waited SO patiently to open his presents. It was like he wasn’t even excited!

Well, I was excited so I quickly initiated the present-opening ceremonies. I sat patiently while he opened one of his gifts: Irish Pub Cooking, which won’t do us much good on our new eating plan. I’ll have to figure out how to skinny every meal!

I cannot wait to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo so I can see the movie. Is that terrible? I’m reading the book first! By the time I finish, it should be out on DVD to rent. Husband also got me A Grammar of Motives by Kenneth Burke and Transforming Qualitative Information: Thematic Analysis and Code Development by Richard Boyatzis.

Yes. I am a giant nerd.

Husband opened his second present. He liked his new sweatshirt, pair of sweat pants with fleece inside and wallet. Husband’s old wallet was in the process of falling apart; it’s a good thing I got him a new one.

Mark it: Sunday, December, 25, 2011 – The first time Husband has made a blog appearance. The dog is in the corner.

Note: Husband is an awesome gift-giver. I am a TERRIBLE gift-giver. The next image should now make a lot of sense to you.

For my second gift, my amazing, wonderful, handsome husband gave me the most beautiful necklace.

So now you will believe me when I say I have the best husband on earth.

Because I totally do.

Yesterday, Husband and I joined his parents, sister and her husband and ADORABLE baby boy (who isn’t much of a baby anymore since he wears sweater vests, walks and makes noises that sound like words).

He is playing “stackable buckets” with his mommy and daddy. Husband and I got him building blocks and a boat load of clothes because he’s gigantic.

I remember saying that Father-in-Law’s cooking would win.

It did. It won so hard I forgot to take pictures because I shoved it in my face a little too fast. On the menu: turkey and stuffing like I’ve never tasted, sweet potatoes with apples and raisins and the best green bean casserole ever. Sister-in-Law made her Spice Cake.

The night before Christmas Eve, she sent me a text message asking what I was bringing for dessert because she burnt the first Spice Cake. I am really really happy she made another spice cake.

I even ate a piece for breakfast this morning.

On Christmas Day, it is OK to eat cake for breakfast. I am the Law.

I made Yes, I want Cake’s Vegan Monkey Bread (without the vegan part).

Finding vegan butter at Dillon’s is impossible most of the time but even more impossible when everybody and their mother is at the store.

The first time I mixed the dough, it did not go well, so I had to trash it and start all over. I am glad I did because it was amazing!

Inside of a Cinnamon RollAfter lunch, we opened gifts!

In addition to his blocks and buckets, the little guy got a fun tent, a tree swing and some turtlenecks from his Aunt Shae. Yeah, I’m that Aunt.

Next year he’ll be old enough for violent toys like Nerf guns :) <— ’tis an evil smile

Husband got a set of tools (with a power drill so we’ll stop borrowing his dad’s all the time) and a new holster.

I got more books! Giant nerd, I already told you. Added to my library: Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman and The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The conflict between word and image.

Sister-in-Law got me a teapot! The gift is really for both of us – Husband and I – because Husband dumps out my coffee to make tea. Not OK. Ergo… teapot!

The teapot is also going to be a source of endless entertainment: When it whistles, the cat freaks out and takes off to hide in the bathroom. Hilarious.

I hope everyone liked their gifts! I am so glad they got here before Christmas Eve.

For Christmas dinner, Husband made Alton Brown’s Fried Chicken and Waffles, and I ate too much again.  New tradition? I think so.

Now, I am going to my mother’s house to play Pitch with good friends. Every year Jared and Mark come to Kansas for Christmas, we get together and play Pitch. Jared and I are Team ShaJa and Mark and my mom are Team MarMa.

We are so going to win.

Happy Christmas again! I hope it was lovely!

Treadmill Urban Athlete Workout

Remember how I said I wanted to do this workout?

Well, it took me a while to get around to it, but I finally did Workout #1!

Well, half of Workout #1.

I went to the gym with the intention to run two miles on the treadmill, complete the hill-sprints, and then run two more miles.

Less than half a mile in – not even kidding – my knee started locking up and my hip started whining.

Seriously?!

I was jogging at what I consider 40 percent with the intention to sprint uphill at my 80 percent. So I wasn’t even moving that fast.

I did not want to quit. I wanted to keep going because the rest of me felt great! I decided to do half the workout: one mile, five hill-sprints, and then one more mile for a total of 2.63 miles and 35 minutes.

My knee is so mad at me.

However, good note, my cardio outlasted my knee! I’m not hopeless yet! I really only felt winded and out-of-breath while I was sprinting and through the last half mile.

My heart rate was pretty steady at 178 while sprinting, 163 while running and 137 while jogging. I slowed it down to a cool 78 before stretching.

I. Am. Awesome.

(Of course, I was using the treadmill heart rate monitor, and we all know how great those things work.)

Why did I do such a stellar workout on a treadmill when it would have been easier to map out a trail in my neighborhood?

It is rainy and wet and cold and December. I thought it better to stay warm and dry and clean inside.

Do not get me wrong! I love winter. I love snow. I love the cold. I love, love, love this season! I love it even more when I am inside, and it is outside.

So I plan to be in the YMCA for the remainder of the winter because – like this weather or not – I am a giant baby. I thought I should get a better treadmill workout because I can get burnt out real quick on that machine.

Lucky for me, Women’s Health Magazine has some neat-oh! treadmill workouts for me to try :)

Treadmill Workouts
Plan by Numbers

First, calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Why 220? Not sure. Just do it. Hit 70 percent of your max heart rate. When you get tired, rest for a few minutes at a jogging pace. Then, hit 85 percent, and see how long you can last.

Random Pickup
Watch a 30-minute TV program. Increase your speed so that you’re running at 80 percent of your max heart rate during the commercials. When the show comes back on, slow does for an easy jog. If you’re hardcore, jog during the commercials ;)

At the YMCA, you are watching 24-hour cable news unless you get a machine with its own TV. I watch the news, but then I get off track by having opinions and things to say. Oh, 24-hour news…

Take a Hike
Walk or run on an incline to mimic hiking. Walk at 3.5 mph on a flat surface. Increase the incline every minute until it reaches 5 percent. Stay for 3 minutes. Next, lower and raise the incline every 2 minutes until you’ve been exercising for 25 minutes. Lower the belt gradually and decrease your speed for a 5-minute cool down.

Weight it Out
Short on time? Grab a pair of 2- to 5-pound dumbbells. Do bicep curls and military shoulder presses as you walk. Do 10 reps each.

Find a WHOLE LOT MORE treadmill workouts here.

Even though running in the cold is entirely un-fun, breathing fresh air benefits your body, according to Women’s Health Magazine. Normal outdoor fitness activities decrease tension, frustration and depression. The benefits increase in the cold because cold weather is invigorating.

That makes sense to me! I take cold showers in the morning when I cannot wake up with just a cup of coffee. I have coffee, too, but the shower helps. I also take cold showers after workouts in the heat of the summer. Heat is probably less fun than cold.

I suppose, as a runner, I wish it could be spring year-round.

The article also said that the body works harder in the cold so you produce more endorphins for that runner’s high!

A final benefit of cold-weather running: You burn more calories!

Check out the cold weather workout guide here.

Invigorating or not – see above – I am going to the gym.

Right now I am going to DECORATE MY CHRISTMAS TREE.

Finally.

What do you do at the gym? I have always wanted to get on the elliptical, but they’re all always taken!

Not that I need anymore, but got any treadmill workouts?

Power Yoga + Hockey

My pleasant Saturday not only included shopping. I also worked out and spent the evening with friends!

I have a YMCA membership again!

Do you know what that means?

skinnyshae and YMCA Jill doing weird yoga moves in classPower Yoga on Saturday mornings.

Epic happiness.

Yesterday, Saturday, December 17, I went to Power Yoga for the first time in six(ish) months.

In that time, I had not performed a single asana or salutation. Add to that the fact that I have not seriously exercised since Thanksgiving and welcome to my Sunday morning.

I am so sore.

During practice, my hips were too tight to go deep in any twist or pigeon (and I love pigeon). My shoulders and arms were too weak to do a full vinyasa. I cheated and put my knees on the ground every time. No up-dog, just cobra.

I am surprised at how well I did, though. The last time I went to Power Yoga, I did not do well. I figured after my hiatus that I would not be able to keep up with the class whom I recognized as regular Power Yoga people.

But I did.

Now, in all honesty, I had to hang out in Child’s Pose a few times, and none of my poses were as perfect as they used to be (see above photo – That is a nice Downward Dog Pose).

After Yoga, I went shopping. Remember?

And then Husband and I went to dinner with friends!

We went to P.F. Chang’s and had a GREAT server. She was awesome, but busy, so other people brought us our food and made our drinks… incorrectly.

I felt like one of those people who complained at restaurants about everything. I used to be a server and bartender, and I acted like those people who drove me nuts. I just felt awful about it.

However, when everything was correct, our food was awesome. I ate Orange Shrimp for the first time.

So good.

And we ate too much.

After dinner, we went to a Wichita Thunder hockey game! I have not been to a hockey game since I was about 13.

Thunder won 3-0! And I saw about four fights because that’s what boys do when they get frustrated.

They hit each other.

If it weren’t for hecklers, I would have enjoyed the game so much more. (The profanity and loud screaming was mildly annoying, but I was surrounded my hockey fans. Husband and his friend controlled themselves well, I thought!)

Note: Don’t get me wrong. I do not usually care about profanity, but screaming it in an arena full of child hockey fans doesn’t set well with me. They repeat EVERYTHING they hear.

Everything.

Overall, I had a really great Saturday! Even the late night cleaning I did when we got home!

This girl vacuums at midnight :)

Hockey fan? I used to be obsessed, but now I just enjoyed watching the game and making Husband explain what was going on. He does the same thing with UFC. “What’s a Kimura?”

Hope you have a lovely Sunday!