The Cost of Food

Sometimes there's nothing like a good salad
Friday just before I got off work I got a text from my husband insisting that I feed him.  He's quick to tell me he's not eating carbs.  Normally I'd tell him to go jump in a lake (he likes fish) but since I am making an effort to cook now I agreed.  Hmmm...what to do.  I've been craving salads lately and it's technically not really cooking.  Sounds good to me.  As I walked around Fresh & Easy picking out my ingredients I started thinking that this seemed like quite a bit of work just for a salad....and it felt like I was spending a lot of money for it too.  They had some small pre packaged ones for about $3.50 each.  That would have taken me 1 minute to grab and would be just as quick to open up and eat.  They say that you save money by grocery shopping and cooking food yourself instead of eating out but when we can spend $300 in one shopping trip somehow it just doesn't feel that way.  So, I decided to do the math.  I divided each product as needed to estimate 1 serving per item.

The Cost of Salad  
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing ($2.79):  .47
  • Lettuce ($1.79):  .44
  • Tortilla Strips ($1.99):  .33
  • Fully cooked Bacon (12):  ($3.49)  .58
  • Pre-Cooked Chicken Breast ($4.99):  $1.25
  • Cucumber (2) ($1.96):  .49
  • Dozen Eggs ($1.89):  .15
  • Onion ($0.89):  .22
  • Shredded Cheese ($3.69):  .61
  • Total Spent:  ($23.48)  $4.21 Per Salad
It  actually is cheaper to spend the time and money making the darn salad.  My homemade salad had a lot more in it then the $3.50 option at Fresh & Easy and if I'd bought one at McD's or Wendy's it would have been at least $2 more expensive.  A Cobb salad at an average restaurant can be anywhere from $10-15 bucks each.  I might spend less money on that particular day for two salads but I get more bang for my buck buying the groceries instead.  Those ingredients last beyond that one day.

These turned out pretty tasty.  We have left over stuffing for wraps.
Then Saturday while we were at the grocery store I was shopping for my Stuffed Green Peppers recipe and I saw that I could literally buy them frozen pre made and stuffed at 4 for $6.99 on sale for $4.99.  Why make them myself when I can just buy them I thought?

The Cost of Stuffed Green Peppers with Rice
  • Ground Beef  1 lb ($3.34):  $3.34
  • Green Peppers (6@.49 ea):  $2.94
  • Brown Rice 16 oz ($2.19):  .55
  • Diced Tomatoes 14.5 oz:  .69
  • Onion (.89@1/2):  .44                     
  • Garlic (3 for $1.00):  .33
  • Total:  $8.29 =$1.38 per Stuffed Green Pepper
My recipe makes 6 so that's $1.38 each as compared to the grocery store price of $1.23 each (on sale) which in this example is actually a tad more expensive at home BUT depending on how much you pay for ground beef that could make a big difference.  Meat is much cheaper on base but I've paid much more for low fat ground beef.  Also, I got more then 6 servings out of that meat.  Sometimes I moan and groan about spending $11.49 on 6 chicken breasts but when you do the math on it that's only $1.91 per breast and think of how much you pay when you buy a chicken breast entree with veggies at a restaurant?

Time, Money or Health?
Bottom line is that in most cases eating out and buying frozen and  pre packaged meals will be more expensive.  So the next step is deciding how much your time is worth.  Do you want to pay restaurant and fast food labor for cooking the food or do it yourself?  For some it's worth it to spend a little more money and save time but for others the extra savings is well worth time spent in the kitchen.  And it's win win especially if you really enjoy cooking.  There are some really great value meal deals going on at places like Applebee's and Chili's but overall I think that dining out meal prices and the tip you have to shell out can be a waste of money.  The super cheap fast food option can only take you so far health wise unless you spend more money to choose healthier options.  The sodium content of all restaurants and pre made food in the frozen foods section is generally way higher so even if you find good deals it's just not something you should do all the time.

What would be the cheapest way I could think of to eat out every day without developing cardiovascular disease?  I'm a huge fan of $5 foot longs at Subway and I seriously think I could eat it every day although Mj absolutely could not.  If we ate one every day for lunch and dinner and spent $3.00 for their breakfast which is typically and egg sandwich type deal and coffee it would cost us about $56.00 for a week which is $224 for a month.  Then, I'd have to double that because it would be for both of us.  That's $448 per month provided we spent no money on any other food whatsoever which is more then we normally spend on groceries in a month.  That's about as cheap is it could get but it leaves no room for extras and you are pretty limited in your food choices.  It's also a lot of carbs, not that I don't do major carb damage anyways!  So, yeah as much as I wish it actually were cheaper to buy food out instead of spending the time making it that is not the case so the joy of grocery shopping and cooking is here to stay.

Liebster Blog Award

Brenda at The Funky Junky was sweet enough to award me the Liebster Blog award for up and coming bloggers.  Pretty cool!   I've been at this a while.   I don't have blog sponsors, I don't get free stuff in the mail to review and I have not topped 200 followers but that's not why I blog so who cares right?  I'm just glad that I'm getting to share my writing and document my life.  I like to think of myself as up and coming (not down and out) so I really do appreciate being recognized for my efforts in my little corner of the internet.  Brenda is an up and coming blogger herself.  She's a good writer and has this amazing talent for putting together an awesome outfit with $10 bucks so go check out her blog.

Besides making you feel pretty darn special, another cool thing about this award is that there are no strings attached.  You won't have to post three different sets of Q & A's about yourself and tag 10 other people to do the same.  You need only think about five blogs that you enjoy reading and share the love.  So now it's my turn to pass it on.  The Liebster Blog Award goes to:

Emily at The Sweetest Thing
She just started blogging this year but already is off to a good start.  If she isn't already she will be getting super busy very soon because her wedding is July 7th!  She took that leap of faith.  She moved for love and it worked out great.

Lauren at Sweet Nothings
She is newly engaged and been blogging here for not yet a year but has already established a nice little blog spot.  She is a great photographer and always posts really beautiful pictures.  I may need to upgrade and get a camera like her some day!

Natalie at Miss Brightside
Ive been a follower of Natalie for quite a while now.  This blogger is a proud new mama navigating the whole stay at home mom thing.  She also loves to shop but like me (and most everybody else) has to work hard to resist the urge to shop till we drop.

She is so fashionable!  I really envy her fashion sense and ability to put different pieces together and look like she stepped out of a magazine.

Ruthy Ann at Discovery Street 
I've  been following her blog for a long time.  Maybe as long as I've been blogging?  Her and her husband Andy are simply put, good people.  I've watched her go from a globe trotting newlywed on an around the world honeymoon to a settled down nine to fiver to a homeowner and now the ultimate....she's about to become a mama!  She is barely on the edge of up and coming with a ton of followers so I think I may have awarded this to her just in the nick of time.

And by the way, does anyone know what Liebster means?  Well, I didn't either so I googled it and it is the German word for darling, beloved, boyfriend or sweetheart.  Just in case you were wondering!

you have been awarded the coveted Liebster award, here’s what’s next:
* choose five up and coming blogs with less than 200 followers to award
*show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them. If you not already a follower of their blog, that might be a great way to show appreciation for the award. ;)
*Post the award on your blog. Be sure to link back to the 5 blogs you awarded so that others can visit them.

Gym Rat

The other day my husband called me a gym rat.

Me? I asked in shock.  You think I'm a gym rat?  

With your P90X you work out way more then me.  I only committed myself to minimum of two days a week and yeah, I do more some weeks but not enough for me to be a gym rat.  

First I couldn't get you in the gym and now I can't get you out.  You go every chance you get and you get upset if you plan to go and don't get to.

My goodness.  I had refused to work out for so long.  How did this happen?

I thought about it for a minute and had to admit there is some truth to his statement.  Lately I have been more committed to exercise then ever.   This week for example.  I went on Sunday to compensate for a Pizza fest the day before.  I went Monday morning on my off day.  Then I went Tuesday after work.  Then I went Wednesday morning before work.  I did 60 minutes on the Elliptical for four days in a row burning between 590-650 calories per session.  Tuesday and Wednesday in particular, I was really in that zone that everyone talks about.  I was pumping my arms and legs like nobodies business and it felt amazing to push myself.  I probably looked like some kind of lunatic mouthing the words to my favorite songs, bobbing my head up and down and grinning for apparently no reason.  I was sweating but I was literally breaking out in goose bumps on my arms and legs because I was so into my work out and the music.  I felt like I could go on forever and the time flew by.  It was awesome.

I've learned to push my after work fatigue aside and head to the gym without even thinking twice about it.  I even worked out when I was sick.  Exercising has just become something I do.  Something that I make time for.  I was always athletic growing up participating in gymnastics, track and cheer-leading.  After high school my parents put me on their gym membership and then I worked out at my College gym too.  It was so much easier then.  Yeah, maybe I had school and part time jobs but I also didn't spend 45 hours a week at a full time job and have a house to keep up.  And I'm not as young and energetic as I used to be.  I managed to stay committed to working out for the most part with some off and on until I fell off the wagon big time for years and didn't see how I would ever find my way back. 

I really love it that I'm doing something good for my body and that I'm actually enjoying it.  I really love it that I CAN.  It's one thing to just be lazy and not exercise and entirely another to be physically unable to.  I am lucky that I have a gym membership (that I don't even pay for) that gives me access to a really nice gym that's close to home.  I am lucky that I can exercise and I finally realized that needed to take advantage of that and not take it for granted.  I still haven't gotten to my new exercise videos but I will.  I do hit the gym consistently and I just bought my 2nd package of classes at a dance and fitness studio.  I've gotten a lot of my lost flexibility back and I'm even starting to see some of those hard to get oblique muscles coming in on the sides of my stomach.

So when I think about it I don't really mind being called a gym rat.  It's actually taken a lot of time and energy to earn that label so I'll proudly accept it.   It's way better then being known as a couch surfer...although I am guilty of that too!

Fab 4 Day Weekend

My little sister is such a hot shot that she got flown down here on Friday night to shoot her friend's sister's wedding on Saturday.  It was an early ceremony and reception so she was done by four.  My big sis and I met up at Mom's house so we could all hang out and spend time together.
Hangin' out at the bar
Me and my sparkling wine.  Can't seem to get enough lately.

Grandparents and Grandkiddo. 
We went to Claim Jumper for dinner.  That place is always busy and since there were six of us it took a little over an hour to get a table.  We passed the time in the bar.  What is it with this sparkling wine craving?  That was my drink of choice while we waited to get seated.  I was trying to be "good" so I just got the salad bar for dinner and put together my own delicious salad.  We didn't get out of there until around 9pm.  We stopped at my Aunts house and then headed home to watch a movie and eat ice cream and Pie.  Well, I don't eat pie so I had a few cookies instead.  I spent the night and took my little sis back to the airport Sunday morning.  I love family time.  It was a short but sweet visit.

It's been great having a four day weekend.  We get both President's Birthday's at my job.  Friday I got to get my cleaning done in the morning and did some errands in the afternoon.  That night Mj and I ate Subway and watched the movie Straw Dogs.  Sunday  we did some home improvement related errands.  We bought a new kitchen sink at Home Depot.  Then, we went out for Pizza and to the movies to see Safe House.  This morning I woke up bright and early and went to the gym and then came back and did my homework.  It's been a fab 4 day weekend but it's not quite over yet.  I've been watching TV and now I feel an afternoon nap coming on.  I'll have time to sleep AND have dinner on the table by the time Mj gets home and finishes his work out.  Now that's fabulous. 

I am pleased to announce that the winner of my first giveaway is Mrs. Williams!  Her prize is a 5 x 7 canvas hand painted by Lauren and a $15 shop credit to her Etsy Shop.  Thanks so much to all who entered.

He Hates Valentine's Day

Out to dinner
My lasagna was delicious. I had warm bread and sparking wine with it.

We were in the car on our way to dinner and I mentioned that the street corner flower/balloon booths were already setting up shop to cash in on Valentine's Day.  "I hate Valentine's Day."  Those were the exact words that came out of my husband's mouth.  I immediately slammed on the breaks and pulled over to the side of the road and told him we would not be going any further unless he took it back because I can't be married to someone who hates Valentine's Day and we 'aint gettin' a divorce.  We never made it to dinner.  Okay totally joking!!!  It is true that my husband hates Valentine's Day but I'm okay with that as long as he indulges my girly romantic side at least a little bit.  I don't expect nor do I want a big to do about Valentine's Day but a little somethin' somethin' is nice.  Tuesday is really not the best day to celebrate anything so we were headed out to dinner on Sunday at Il Postino's; this cute little Italian restaurant Mj had been wanting to try. 
Me and my cookie Bouquet

That morning at work I got a very special delivery of of giant monster sized iced sugar cookies and balloons.  Oh, how I love these cookies.  I like flowers but they die and I can't eat them.  I got him a nice 90 minute massage using good old Groupon which I know he can really use right now because he's been working out almost every day.
Not so fancy V Day Dinner:  Cabbage & Rice with Turkey Sausage

Valentine's day dinner was Cabbage and Rice with Turkey Sausage.   It's good and all but not exactly my idea of a "special" dinner.  It's something I know how to make and we already had the meat so I went with it.  I haven't been in the kitchen much so I think it was a nice treat that I cooked for him even if it was just something simple.  It was actually pretty tasty but not even close to what Mj made for dinner last year on Valentine's Day.  After dinner we chilled out on the couch and watched Teen Mom 2 and then I worked on our budget.  I know....way romantic.

It's a fake commercial holiday with no historical significance whatsoever made up so that people can make money.  There is no point of making one day to express love when you can do it all year long or on a day that actually has some real meaning like an anniversary.  Blah, Blah, blah.  I get it and even agree to some extent but I still have a soft spot for February 14th.  My husband hates Valentine's Day but he loves me!  So it works.

Laughter: Fuel for the Soul

Pic from a couple years ago but it's basically how I looked all night
Mj's friends cousin has been doing stand up comedy around town.  Friday night we went to one of his shows.  During the week I saw a commercial for sparkling wine.  I can't even remember what brand, but ever since then I had a craving for it and I was really excited about going to the show just so I could get some.

The last show we went to seemed a little bit like amateur night so I wasn't sure what to expect.  There were 7 comics and they got 10 minutes each.  The host opened the show.  He was hilarious.  Good sign.  These guys were all good.  One after another each comic got on stage and made us laugh.  Good old fashioned straight from the belly mouth wide open head tilted back uncontrollable laughter.  I laughed hard and loud in between sips of my sparkling wine; thank goodness they had some!  Laughter is such good fuel for the soul.  It just makes you feel good.  I love laughing and I love to see Mj laugh.  He was laughing so hard his eyes were all watery and teary.  For a second I thought about what a racket the night was.  It cost us $10 each to get in and on top of that there was a two drink minimum at $7 each.  That's $24 bucks each just to get in the door!  But it was a really good show and we were supporting a friend.  Laughing out loud for almost 2 hours straight while drinking wine after long week of work was well worth the price of admission.

Drink More Water!

 I've been struggling with my water intake for a while now.  It's better then it was but I still have some work to do.  I can tell when I haven't had enough because I'll wake up in the middle of the night positively parched.  That should never happen.  My body is telling me what it needs and I just have to get better at listening.  Having water come out of our refrigerator has helped a lot.  It's just always there and cold when I need it.  This water bottle is the latest weapon in my arsenal to combat against insufficient water drinking.  I'm hoping this cute 12 oz water bottle in my favorite color that I can keep at work will inspire me to get guzzling.  The recommended intake is 48 to 64 oz!  It's always represented in ounces of water but we do get water in other ways from foods like fruits and vegetables.  Between the work water bottle and my 24 oz Tervis tumbler at home I'm hoping to manage at least 48.  If I just drink the one water bottle at work it's a minimum of 12 oz which is better then nothing but I'm definitely shooting for double that and then more at home.  I forget, I get busy, it makes my stomach too full.  I'm not sure what it is about drinking water that makes it so difficult to keep up with but it's so hard! 

Speaking of water.  Have you tried Mio liquid water enhancer?   It makes water delicious and it's calorie and sugar free. I love Fruit Punch and Sweet Tea.  You can adjust it to your taste by adding more or less.  Mj brought a few of those home last year and they are so good.  I actually like the taste of water but with the Mio I like it even more and it makes it so easy to drink.

How much water do you drink in a day?

Home Decor....Slowly But Surely

It takes so long to get a house decorated.  We got all the furniture we need it's just the details and accents that are taking a while to come together.  Once you figure out what you want sometimes it's almost impossible to find it in stores and at the right price which can be really frustrating but slowly but surely we're getting there.
Vintage looking Boudoir lamps from Pier One
Finally, after 1 1/2 years of living in our house we finally got bedside lamps for our night stands.  We have recess lighting so it's more decoration then anything else.  I looked everywhere!  First I didn't know what we wanted.  Then we decided to add color to our room with the lamps but finding the right one in the right color at the right price is hard.   I originally went in looking for a different lamp but found these pretty vintage looking ones at Pier One Imports for $40 bucks each.  I had a $10 off coupon so that was a bonus.  I had to take a picture and send it to Mj for approval and he liked them too.  We could have gone bigger because our headboard is high and our nightstands are a good size but eh...I just wanted something small.  These are 18" high.  I plan to add a satin ribbon around the bottom rim to add color once we get some accessories in our accent color; which I think will be purple.

Bargain price ottoman found at Ross for $99

Room for everything
Mj let me keep the black Ottoman.  He didn't say anything for about a day or so and then decided that he liked it.  My pajamas are all nicely organized now in one place where they all fit and are convenient for me to get to.  It's a nice little seating area too.  We're going to find a nice piece of wall art to put over it.

We didn't get the mirror that came with our dresser.  We found our own.
Can't wait until these make it onto the wall
 Back in October we found a large black mirror to hang over our dresser at Marshall's for $99.00, which is great because like everything else mirrors can get pretty pricy too.  I got a great deal on these matte picture frames at Michael's and framed our wedding pictures over Christmas Break.  They've been sitting there waiting for hanging for a while and they will go right over our bed.  Mj if you are reading bout this weekend?  The black rimmed full length mirror needs to go up too. 

Sloan Espresso Leaning Book case.  Photo Source:  Crate & Barrel

Red Bamboo Vase-Photo Source: Pier One

In other rooms.  Just before the holidays we bought two leaning shelves at Crate & Barrel to put on either side of our TV downstairs in the living room. I was trying to go for the less expensive Walmart version but Mj wasn't having it.  At $149 each it's more then I wanted to spend on these but they are great quality and they look good.  We also bought a red vase from Pier One that we filled with sticks.

Next up.  We are getting the downstairs carpet and flooring replaced with hard woods.   Our kitchen counter tops will be replaced with granite and we're adding back splash.  We'll be getting started on those projects after we get our tax refund.   And lastly, we want to do something with our master bathroom.  I'm kind of itching to do it now.  The flooring is builder basic vinyl (like our kitchen) which I actually don't mind so much but I hate our very hard to keep clean fiber glass shower and tub surround.  It really can wait until next year though.  One thing at a time.  It's a work in progress but I love our house and I love how everything has been coming together.  House pics coming soon.