Sunday, September 14, 2014

Re-calculations and organizing...

This summer was a crazy one.  Dealing with Husband leaving in order to set up housekeeping with his girlfriend was a weird experience to be sure.  A saving grace was the outpouring of love and support from my family.  My Mom called to check in on me often, and she took my kids one at a time for a week.  It was nice, and it helped me to cope with the new situation.

Of the 11 weeks of summer, I think we were home for 4 of them, all 3 of us.  I had booked a cruise some time ago, and the girls and I went with my aunt on a 5 day cruise to Mexico (YAY Carnival Cruise Lines!!!) and we went to Branson 3 times, and to Dallas 2 times.  In between visits, I was submitting my resume and filling out applications like crazy.  The Monday and Tuesday before we left for the cruise, I had 5 interviews. There was a week when it was just Thing1 and me, and then we switched with Mom so that it was Thing2 and me.  The lovely thing about this is that, while I was staying with family, everybody knew of my new circumstances, and nobody let me pay for my food.  I would guess that I may have spent $600.00 for food over the course of the entire summer.  Much of that food is still in my deep freezer, to be used in the near future.  :-)

Still looking for a job.  I am just grateful that my hobby has been saving money and tightening my belt for the last few years, because now that Husband is Ex-Husband, I am living on child support and alimony, along with a small retirement account that I cashed in at the beginning of the divorce proceedings.  Luckily, I can pinch a penny until it screams.

I did not keep up with my receipts, because I knew I was not going to post for some time.  When I sat at the computer, I could not justify taking an hour or two in order to create a post when that time could be spent searching for the job that I desperately need.  Today, I plan to inventory my freezer, so I guess I am in "Paleo On The Cheap" mode already, so it made sense to go ahead and pound out my ideas and get them in a post.

So, the new grocery budget numbers...  I used the handy dandy chart from the USDA  http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/CostofFoodJun2014.pdf to figure out how much the girls and I would get if we were on SNAP.

Thing1  $169.10
Me        $166.60
Thing2  $157.00
TOTAL $492.70

I am supremely confident that I can stay within those limitations, and still feed myself and the girls healthfully.  In reality, my personal goal is to stay under that number, and try to consistently stay under the USDA recommended amount for a family of 2 - $389.10.  I do not think I will have a problem hanging around the $389.10 number, and will often be under it, I am sure.

I need to do an inventory of my freezers.  Out of habit, I have been tracking sales on the weeks that I have been home, and I have loads of chicken thighs because my local HARP'S store had bone in leg quarters for $ .79 per lb.  I have 30 lbs of those in the deep freezer.  I also have frozen Swai fillets (I think 3 bags) that I bought at $3.99 (regular price is $4.99, I think) and several other items in my freezers and pantry that can be combined for at least a few weeks worth of meals.  I will have to do some augmentation with trips to the grocers, but not too much.

Long story short, (too late?) I will be shopping the main components of my meals from my own freezers.  I will be creating some freezer meals after church today from this video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XucK6aE5UYM ) I will be making the Honey Sesame Chicken with coconut aminos, so that it really is Paleo.  Also, I will be making "The World's Best Chicken".  I am debating on whether or not to make the Cafe Rio Crockpot Chicken, because I have all of the ingredients, but I am not sold on how it will taste.  We shall see.  :-)

In addition to the shopping from my own pantry, I will be doing a 21 day spending fast (  http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/01/31/312044/try-a-21-day-spending-fast.html  ) in order to reign in some of the "convenience" spending that I have been doing.  I am out of the habit of tracking my spending, and I know that I have indulged a little bit, when I really should not be doing that.  Not huge indulgences, but I really cannot afford even little indulgences.

t

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A long lag....

It has been some months since I posted.  I am getting a divorce.  It takes a lot of energy to live with someone that you know does not love you, that you know has chosen your replacement and is planning his life with her via phone calls, e-mails and text.  Husband and I chose to wait until school was out before telling Thing1 and Thing2, so it is a stress that I chose to take upon myself.  It was not easy, but I believe it was the best choice for us.  The downside is that it apparently takes a lot of energy to be in proximity to someone that you love that does not love you back.

I have been eating crappy foods.  I wonder why we call them "comfort foods" when the reality is that they make us feel worse physically.  Sometimes, it really felt like I was punishing myself in some way for some reason by eating food that I knew would make me feel sluggish and bloated.

I am on day #3 of adding smoothies to my daily regimen in order to get my body back to some semblance of healthy.  I feel crappy, and I brought it on myself.  So, I will be working to fix everything physically with me so that I may better support my children emotionally.

So.... sorry for the lag, life has been shifting, and I had to reserve my energies.  I will shortly be shopping, cooking, and posting.  :-)

t

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Green Smoothie experiment - Days 7-10

I woke up each day and made my smoothies with bananas, strawberries, kale, blueberries, and cucumbers.

My daily average was $6.80 per day.  Sorry for not doing a breakdown of each day, but I have been taking care of a sick child, and a brief blurb while she naps is about what I have time for today.

Through the 10 day Green Smoothie Experiment, I noticed an increase in energy, and an almost total lack of bloating.  It has been lovely.  So, it begs the question as to why I ate a piece of pizza the other day.  It was nice to have the pizza, do not get me wrong.  It was not even paleo pizza, so I do nt know what I was thinking at all.  I was laid low for 2 days with tummy upset and bathroom habits that I will not bore/gross you out with.  It goes without saying that it was a stupid move, and I regret having done it.  Kind of.  What I do not regret is find out out what would happen if I ate a slice of Little Caesars pizza.  Now I know, and the mystery of "what if" is gone forever.

The other benefit of green smoothing for me has been losing 6 pounds in 10 days.  I had been reading of the benefits to be had in juicing versus the benefits to be had in smoothing, and was prepared for a lesser weight loss than if I had been straight juicing.  I was a little surprised to have had the results that I did have.  A little over half a pound a day is none too shabby!!

All in all, it went well, I decided to do another 10 days.  :-)

t

Monday, February 24, 2014

So, I have been hitting Youtube a little bit...

I have been perusing Youtube for paleo-friendly ideas for freezer meals.  I have been been impressed by "debtisdum"'s videos, because so many of their ideas can be transitioned to paleo so easily, plus I just love how adorable they are.  This is one of my favorites of theirs, and it goes through a brief explanation of how they eat all of their dinners for $22.00 per week.  Please excuse the kiddo-s in the background.  I like them, because I totally know how kids can act up when the video cameras come out; but when I sent it to a friend, she said that she could not watch it all the way through because the kids were so distracting.  Oh well, I like it, so I am sharing it. :-)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdL6cYpBw1k  I made the recipe featured in this video lat night, and it turned out great!  I used Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin as my thickening agent. ( http://www.amazon.com/Great-Lakes-Unflavored-Gelatin-16-Ounce/dp/B0008D6WBA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1393260139&sr=8-2&keywords=great+lakes+gelatin )

One of the side links on that page was to the "Thrifty Farmer"'s youtube page, and I clicked on it.  A man and his wife made the decision to see if they could live off the amounts offered by the USDA's "Thrifty Plan".  I had never heard of such.  In all of my looking up for the SNAP challenge, I somehow did not find this helpful chart that lays out the four levels of plan set out by the USDA.  I have to say that I was kind of pleasantly surprised to find that I have never gone over the "Liberal Plan" that the USDA sets forth for our family of 4.
http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/CostofFoodJun2014.pdf

If you want to look at other months, here is a grid that covers the 4 levels from 1994 to 2013: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodCost-Home.htm  As always, I found it interesting to click on different months to see how the prices have changed over time.

The Thrifty Farmer's video for Day #7 included an overview of how their week on the Thrifty Plan as set forth  by the USDA (which, but the way, happens to be the same amount of the SNAF benefit - so no difference at all to what I have already been doing) and he had a couple of reflections that folks (read:lawmakers) seem to be missing.

He said that his goal was not to prove that you can eat healthfully on the SNAP budget (although all of their meals did look to be healthy - Weston A Price approved, actually - if I am understanding him correctly) but to see if he and his family could just do it, and they did.  He did bring up the fact that they are lucky in the fact that they can get to a fully stocked store.  By "fully stocked" I am talking about his point of seeing if there are vegetables that you can buy, not even thinking about organic - can you buy produce?  Some people live in food deserts, and do not have the most basic of produce available to them.

Oh, and he and his wife work on Polyface Farms!  The Paleo Parents first introduced me to the fact that Polyface Farms was an entity out there, and then I started seeing Joel Salatin on documentaries that I was watching, so it was kind of cool to see that random tie in.  :-)  Well, here is the Day #7 video...  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8F31MhOdCg&feature=c4-overview&list=UUQGYBeA2CMgzxK7XHPl3knA I hope you enjoyed it like I did.

I read the blogs associated with the one week experiment, and was surprised to find out that seeds are included on SNAP, as well as the ingredients for canning.  Sadly, mason jars, lids, and such are not included, but hopefully people can eek out enough money in their budget for the things they need if they do want to start canning or gardening - even if it is container gardening by the window in their home.  Check out the FB page for The Container Gardening Alliance if you are interested in getting some containers going for yourself...  https://www.facebook.com/willemvancotthem

This year, as I buy produce, I am keeping some of the seeds.  I already have a plethora of green pepper seeds, and I have the seeds from a single butternut squash.  As I process my produce, I plan on keeping the seeds to see if I can grow my own without having to buy seeds at the store, thereby making my produce this summer "free".  I will let you know how it goes.  :-)

t

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A life of attrition right now.

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of Attrition is:

at·tri·tion

  [uh-trish-uhn]  Show IPA
noun
1.
a reduction or decrease in numbers, size, or strength: Our club has had a high rate of attrition because somany members have moved away.
2.
a wearing down or weakening of resistance, especially as a result of continuous pressure orharassment: The enemy surrounded the town and conducted a war of attrition.
3.
a gradual reduction in work force without firing of personnel, as when workers resign or retire and arenot replaced.
4.
the act of rubbing against something; friction.
5.
a wearing down or away by friction; abrasion.


Right now, I am living a life of deliberate attrition.  I am not looking for grand gains (or losses) in the immediate. I hope that my body is changing incrementally with the small things that I am doing.   I am giving my body the kinds of fuel that I have been starving it of for years, and my issues will not change overnight, so I am looking at taking on the long game - attrition.  I am wearing away at my ill health, and most notably the physical manifestation of that ill health - my weight - every day.  Today, I am giving my body vitamins and minerals in amounts that it has not see in years, and I think my cells are starting to wake up.

I feel sharper. It might be totally psychosomatic, a placebo effect, but even if it is just that, I will take it!

t

Green Smoothie Experiment Day #6

I made some Pork / Kale / Butternut Squash soup for dinner, and I did not use the entire butternut squash.  I probably had about half a pound of butternut squash left that I did not put into the soup.  So, at $1.18 per lb, I had 59 cents worth of butternut squash to toss into my smoothies for today.

4 bananas                             $  .80
1/2 lb butternut squash        $   .59
1 cup blueberries                 $ 2.00
12 asparagus                        $  .65
12 strawberries                    $ 1.20
4 fists full kale                     $ 2.60
water to fill line                    FREE
                         TOTAL       $ 7.84

The butternut squash was a nice addition.  It gave some sweetness and bulk that was nice and made me feel full, almost to the point of overly full.

Again, I am always surprised by the fullness that I feel on the green smoothies.

t

Green Smoothie day #5

I had 2.5 mason jars of smoothie today, so I only loaded up the Nutribullet once and made another 32 ounce mason jar's worth of green smoothie.

1 babana                                $  .20
1/4 cup blueberries                $  .50
4 strawberries                        $  .35
5 spears asparagus                 $  .25
1 fistful kale                          $  .65
                          TOTAL =   $ 1.95  for today

My energy levels are pretty steady, and have been throughout this entire experiment.  I have not had a "carb flue" issue, and I have not felt a flagging in my ability to keep up with my day.  Twice, I have looked around at about 8 and said "Okay, I want to go to bed", but I have not been tired and lackadaisical throughout my day.  I hope that makes sense.

I feel like I am sleeping better, because I am more alert when I wake up.  I have not historically been on to take a long time to wake up, but now I sit up and am pretty much alert right off the bat.  No longer need about 5 minutes to orient myself.  It's nice.  Husband might not agree, since he is on the 30 minute wake up plan on most days.  :-)

t