I wrote several posts in January plotting out how to tackle some things I want to work on this year. I hate starting things in the dead of winter, though, so January was a free-for-all month in a lot of ways. Now that we are fully moved into our new place, the self-improvement can begin!
I managed to get to 10K steps only two days in January: Moving day and a day I went to the grocery store. I’m going to keep striving to hit that mark, but I’m also going to add a once-a-week walk with the puppy. It’s not really warming up yet, but she’s getting bigger and needs the exercise. A half-mile walk would be about 1300 steps. That should get me closer to my step-counting goal at least one day a week. On days when it’s dry, I might even walk the kiddo to the bus about a half mile away (or about 2600 steps round trip). I generally only end up walking 2,000 to 3,000 steps at work. So everything before 3 p.m. needs to equal about 8,000.
One of the biggest challenges I’m facing with this meal plan is the need to take tomato-based foods off the table for a while. I am slightly allergic to citrus-y fruits, but I love tomato-based sauces So. Much. I just can’t even, you guys. I have a rash on my face and neck from too much pizza and bagel pizzas and meatloaf … and fuzzy navels (orange juice). I’ve written about my meal planning rationale before, and I’ve literally made four different version of this meal plan: Twice in google drive (and learned that I prefer a worksheet rather than a doc version), once on paper (simply because I like to write things out), once on Pinterest (http://bit.ly/1D5CIKP). There are also websites dedicated to planning out your meals and spitting out a grocery list for you. I’ve gone way down the rabbit hole, folks! How do you guys like to plan your meals?
I was going to write it out again here, but as I got started on grocery shopping, there were things I wasn’t able to find for a price I could stomach. So it remains a working document. One thing I’ve been doing this month is tracking everything we eat to give myself a better idea of what we’ll actually eat. (Spoiler Alert: It’s not as much as I thought it would be.)
As I noted in a January post, we are committing to not spending any money on restaurant or fast food this month. T and the little one will still go out with her mom for their weekly dinners, but we won’t eat out as a family. Last year, we spent an average of $1117 on food per month in one way or another. At least half of that was spent at coffee shops and restaurants. I think we can trim our overall food cost to $500 for the three of us this month (plus our roommate and some extra people every now and then) simply by cooking our food at home.
On coffee alone, T can have an 8 oz cup of coffee for 65 cents (K-cup $0.58 + 2 oz sweet cream $0.07) as opposed to a 20 oz Tim Hortons coffee for $2.12. Even if she has three 8-oz cups every day, it’s a savings of $4 for the month. If she has only 2 cups, it’s a savings of $24. Not to mention, I’m not tempted to get a tea or a donut while we’re there.
For me, today marks the first day of no pop whatsoever (I’ve been caffeine free for 4 months now), which I expect will see a savings of $30 per month, on top of the savings we’re already seeing. I’m also not drinking alcohol in February. Even four bottles of wine is a savings of $35 this month.
I picked up a bunch of Green Giant frozen veggie steamers on Meijer’s 10 for $10, 11th item free (comes in at $0.91 per package, which has 1.5 servings of vegetables). That will be the backbone of the “veggie” field in the meal plan. I’ve never enjoyed trying to invent sides. Either the veggie is something quick and easy, it’s cooked into the main dish, or it doesn’t happen. Maybe this lands me in “processed food” territory. I don’t know. For us, I think it’s a necessary component to getting more vegetables into our diets. For now, that’s enough. And it’s a good price.
In January, I noticed that one of the pork vendors at the market is selling bacon ends for $2.99/lb. This is locally-sourced pork, and considering the bacon we usually buy is about $4.99 per pound (although I did find it on-sale for $28 for 8lbs recently), this sounds like a sustainable and economical solution. We’ll see how it tastes. I also found a chicken farmer selling free-range roasting chickens for $2.89/lb (or about $15 per bird). And in December, I discovered that Rocky’s, a specialty store in Eastern Market, sells spices at about $2 per ounce cheaper than buying generic brand packaged spices from the grocery store. Forget about the name brand stuff.
On top of all of that, I’m challenging myself to come up with ways to use up as much of our pantry inventory as possible. We don’t have as much space in the new place, so this is going to be a big part of settling in.