Saturday, December 7, 2013

Eating Well on a Budget

A common question that I get asked is, "Where do you shop?" 

Eating well can be incredibly expensive! Especially if you shop at Whole Paycheck or any other specialty type grocery store.

My secret is that I know where the best deal is (usually) on my staple food items. 


My Costco haul:
*Kale Salad $4.99 (should be good for at least 2 lunches and maybe 1 or 2 dinner sides)
*Organic Ground Beef $16.99 (should be good for 3 meals, so $5.66 per meal)
*Organic Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts $20.67 (should be good for 3 meals, so $6.89 per meal)
*Pork Loin $16 (should be good for at least 3 meals, so $5.33 per meal)
*Organic Eggs $3.39/doz  (I bought 4 dozen)
*Large bag of Yukon Gold potatoes $7.99 (should be good for maybe 2 weeks of meals)
*Fruit and nut trail mix $10.79 (my only impulse buy :) ) 
*Onions $4.99 (This for sure will last me 2 weeks worth of meals)
*Pita bites $6.49 (husband's impulse buy, a snack food)
*Mini Babybel Cheeses $9.75 (hubby's snack food)
Yeast $4.49 (this is probably 1/100th of the price of the ones you can buy in the store.) 
*Pineapple $2.99 
Brown Sugar $3.59 

---------
$119.73



My Kroger haul: 
*Organic Parsley $1.09
*Organic Leeks $2.99
*Allspice $2.99
*Ginger Root $0.18
*6 Bell Peppers $7.50
*3 Organic Peppers $3.75
*Bunch of Organic Bananas $2.01
*Organic Thyme $2.00
*Shallots $1.79
*Bacon $5.49
*3 cans of Organic Tri Bean Blend $3.00
*1 can of Organic Garbanzo Beans $1.00
*1 can of Organic Black Beans $1.00
*1 can of Organic Tomato Paste $0.79 
*1 can of Organic Crushed Tomatoes $2.49

----------
$38.07

*Total cost of everything I'm using this week: $108.04 for homemade meals every meal for 2 1/2 people. (I should really count myself as at least two adults because as a mama who breastfeeds 2 babies, I eat more than my 6'2" husband!) 

It's really hard to break it down like this because although I spent $2.99 on allspice, I might be using that for 6 months or so, so I didn't include that. And, things like the trail mix, that might last me 2 weeks worth of snacks, that kind of thing. There are things like the yeast that I will buy and will last me months and months. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Meal Plan and Grocery List for December 6 through December 13th

Meals:

  • Apple Cranberry Stuffed Pork
  • Chicken Fajitas with beans and rice
  • Chili and Cornbread
  • Leftover Chili
  • Burgers and baked potatoes with salad
  • Potato Leek Soup
  • Peppers & Eggs with Potatoes

Snacks/Desserts/Baking:
  • hard boiled eggs
  • banana bread
  • no bake cookies
  • fruit
  • honey whole wheat bread

Grocery List:
Produce
  • dried cranberries
  • 4 yellow bell peppers
  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 3 green bell peppers
  • 5 yellow onions
  • ginger
  • large shallot
  • 2 large idaho potatoes
  • 8-10 yukon gold potatoes
  • Leeks
  • parsley
  • thyme
  • superfood salad (from Costco)
  • bananas
  • melon of some kind
Meat
  • 2 1/2 lb pork loin center cut
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 2 lbs ground sirloin
  • bacon
Other
  • black beans
  • allspice
  • 4 dozen eggs
  • kidney beans
  • garbanzo beans
  • tomato paste
  • crushed tomatoes

For breakfasts and lunches we usually have oatmeal or banana bread and fruit or eggs with spinach, and lunches are usually dinner leftovers. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

An Introduction and a Little Background Information

Hello! 

My name is Allison. As I am typing this, I am a 27-almost-28 year old wife, and a mother to two little boys.  I have struggled with my weight since adolescence. I'm 5'2" tall.

In middle school, high school, and college, I was never overweight, but always considered myself to be on the chubby side of things. I struggled with unhealthy body image like most girls that age do; and struggled with some unhealthy eating and dieting habits and unrealistic expectations of my body. 

I met my husband, Jack, and started dating him when I was just 19 years old, and I still had my college body as well as all of my eating issues. 

Jack and I got married when I was 21 and we quickly moved out of State. We basically honeymooned for 2 years before moving back home. I gained about 35-40lbs after we got married and slowly added a bit more after a few years of struggling with infertility, infertility treatments and all of the stress that comes along with that. 

I was at my highest adult weight (185lbs) when I found out that I was pregnant with my first son in July of 2011.  When I delivered my first son, I weighed about 235lbs.  Aside from the typical wanting to lose the baby weight (and then some,) my son was having some health issues that I was trying to solve using an elimination diet. I had read about different breastfeeding complications before he was born and decided to try cutting dairy out of my diet.  This is really where it all started.

At first, I was always hungry. I had no idea how many things had dairy and everything still seemed to bother my son and it was just easier for me to be hungry than have my baby upset and sick from what I was eating. 

After a few months, and countless hours of scouring online, I slowly figured out things I could eat. Every day, I figured out more and more and tried new recipes. The more I read labels, which I had never done before, the more bothered I became about what I discovered. 

Why could I make tortillas at home in a few minutes alongside of preparing the fixings for fajitas or tacos easily with five simple ingredients, but the tortillas - even the "healthy" tortillas had 10 to 15 or more ingredients? 

The more that I missed foods that I used to eat, the more I tried to reproduce the recipes, and the more I discovered the massive amount of preservatives and chemical additives in food. I discovered that the bread I thought was "healthy" had more synthetic ingredients and preservatives than real food ingredients. I wasn't even eating real food. 

With hidden dairy ingredients came the discovery of all of the massive amounts of unnecessary additives and preservatives and cosmetic additives in food. I wondered why these were there and the more I read, the more horrified I became.  Why are we consuming this? I am just assuming that most people are like me, and just assumed that the cookies you buy in the store would be similar in ingredients to what you can make at home.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  

Reading labels changed my whole perspective on food. The more I learned, the more I realized how little I really knew about nutrition and what healthy foods really were. I learned so much about the food industries in the U.S. and how that influenced what most Americans know as "healthy" or "health food." This also taught me a lot about why every "diet" I had ever tried didn't work. 

When I first started my dairy & soy free diet, I was at a complete loss. What would I eat? Every label I read had either or both of these ingredients or derivatives of these. I racked my brain and was always thinking about food. In the beginning, I was always hungry because I could not find anything that was safe to eat.  

I slowly began to realize that there were so many things that I could eat. That first, and mostly uncharted section of my grocery store... PRODUCE! An apple has no label. Oranges. Bananas. Cucumbers. Carrots. Lettuce. Spinach. Onions. Peppers. I ate these things before, but pretty sparingly, and usually cooked or coated in either cheese or butter. How would these things even taste without cheese and butter? 

One recipe and one meal at a time, I learned how to cook dairy free. I also taught myself how to improve and modify recipes that I already knew. Fajitas, spaghetti and meat sauce, salads.

I started to miss baked goods and foods that I could easily grab and go. I began making my own snacks. Banana bread, muffins of all kinds, sandwich breads and snack bars and cookies. My snacking habits also changed from pretzels and chips to homemade oatmeal bars and fruits and vegetables or hummus and pitas. 

For dinner, I learned to cook (and pronounce) quinoa [keen-wah] and steamed and sautéed vegetables as sides instead of the mashed potatoes with milk and butter I had prepared before. Instead of macaroni and cheese, (which I had at least made from scratch before), we ate spinach salads with fruits and vegetables and vinegar and oil. 

In October of 2012, I was happy to discover that I was pregnant with our second child.  I started that pregnancy 80lbs lighter than my previous pregnancy, at 155lbs. When I delivered him in June 2013, I weighed 185lbs. Now, in December 2013, I weigh 135lbs. 

Over the months, the weight slowly peeled off. It happened so gradually that today neither my husband or I had even realized how DRASTIC a change losing 100lbs is when you are 5'2" tall. 


The picture on the left was taken a few hours after my first son was born, in March 2012.  The picture on the left was taken on Thanksgiving 2013.


I plan to share my experience, my recipes and my thoughts on having 2 babies in 2 years and losing 100 pounds.