Category Archives: Food

5d277fed9d3fd4bff635cdb1c97a467c

The Solo Chef: $4 Dinner for One – Chicken Pappardelle

After spending $2500 on food last month with Mr. HECC I’m on a mission to cut my food budget in half. I’ll be documenting recipes I make for myself since Mr. HECC follows a specific diet and has his meals delivered, leaving me to be cooking for one. Cooking solo is tough because it’s so easy to waste food. I’m seeking out simple, easy meals that allow you to buy the right serving size for a meal fresh so that nothing goes wasted.

My goals:

Breakfast: $1.50 / meal (~250 calories)
Lunch: $3.00 / meal (~350 calories)
Dinner: $4.50 / meal (~600 calories)

Tonight’s $5 Dinner is Chicken Pappardelle Continue reading

PCOS Women: Avoiding BPA – is it possible?

BPA (bisphenol-A) – a synthetic estrogen used to harden polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resin – is a troubling element of most plastics that we use on a daily basis. It is proven to be an endocrine disrupter, which is especially worrisome for women who are trying to get pregnant, especially those of us with PCOS.

BPA-Endocrine Disorder (source):

  1. Reduces the number of oocytes (cell in ovary that may undergo meiotic division to form an ovum)
  2. Lowers successful number of births
  3. Changes gene expression
  4. Reduces the function of Estrogen Receptor Beta
  5. Negatively affects mitochondrial function
  6. Alters hypothalamic pituitary / increases testosterone
  7. Lowers progesterone
  8. alters GnRH secretion
  9. Increases glucocorticoids
  10. heightens response to stress, elevates levels of anxiety

Continue reading

Good_Food_Display_-_NCI_Visuals_Online

How Much Should I Spend on Food Per Month?

Food is by far our biggest expense. We spent $2500 on food (inclusive of alcohol and cleaning supplies, so probably $2200 on food) in August alone. Clearly, that is way too much for a couple to spend on food each month. People tend to share that they feed families of 4+ on under $600 a month, as part of conversations on how they’re trying to cut down on spending.

But how much should a DINK couple (planning to have kids in the next few years) be spending on food? Here is the advice I found:  Continue reading

Weight and Finances, Keeping Both on Track

As I head towards what will likely be my actual marriage year (2017), I’m fully aware that both poofy white dresses and slim, sleek white dresses accentuate one’s curves – for better or worse. I’m on a mission to actually lose weight and keep it off this time. Yes, I know I’ve said that virtually every year since 1983. Ok, maybe not 1983 because when I was a baby I did not say that. But you get the point.

The last time I was at a healthy weight I was extremely depressed and quite frankly not eating enough calories paired with riding a bike 5 miles a day in hilly terrain to commute to and from work. I didn’t notice the pounds just melting away over a three month period, but melt they did. Somehow my then-typically 155b body slimmed down to 120lbs. I wasn’t toned or anything so I still felt heavy, and to put this into context for those of you who understand women’s clothing my 120lbs was an adult size 8, not like a 2. I’m rather petite, so 120lbs – next time with some muscle and a little less fat – is my ultimate goal for W-day.

Unfortunately, since 2006 and my massive weight loss, I put all the weight back on and then some in the form of further depression and my binge eating habit. It was easy to not eat a lot when I was feeling anti-social and had no car, and no place to really hide my food, living with roommates and not wanting to leave the house other than to go to work and come home. Then I got a car and started to drive to and from work, a work with a vending machine and a crappy cafeteria which I ate at for lunch, often eating unhealthy food. I’d drive to taco bell for a treat and have two tacos and a pepsi. Needless to say, my body is very sensitive to caloric intake and I blew up like a blimp just as fast as I lost the weight.

When I stepped on the scale at a recent doctor’s visit and weighed 180lbs, I knew something I had to change. I only saw that number once before and that was two years ago, when I started to get my act together, and got down to 155lbs, only to drop back into a depression and eat myself back up to 180. It’s really frustrating, because it takes so long to lose weight and it seems it’s so easy to just pack it all back on and then some. And every year one gets older metabolism can slow so that makes weight loss even harder.

I also want to lose weight because I know if/when I have kids, I want to be able to have the energy to run around with them. I definitely can feel myself – my body – getting older. I’m not treating it right. I have to hyper focus on my health as I have on my finances throughout these last 10 years. Perhaps my 20s were really my financial fitness years, my 30s will be my personal fitness ones.

What’s most challenging for me is that I’ve never been the athletic type, but I love to move. I have so much energy in me and sitting at my desk all day just numbs me. I’d love to go to an adult dance class but my social anxiety typically keeps me from it. Or I’m just too busy traveling and it’s a waste of money. I know, excuses, excuses. Mostly I just am too caught up in my depression to get myself to do much of anything. At least I’ve been walking some to and from work – I try to get in 1 to 4 miles of walking a day during the week, and now that it’s spring a longer hike on the weekends with the beau. I also have a gym membership through work which is awesome and I really need to use it more. I just spend so much time commuting that my energy is shot by the time I even think about going to the gym.

I know more than anything being healthy takes long-term dedication. Being healthy is different from being in top shape, and before one can even consider becoming fitness-model worthy, she must spend a heck of a lot of time just getting to basic health. So that’s my first goal. I want to lose 1lb a week and not get off track this time. According to my scale, which I think is too low, I’m at 173lbs now. I’ll be tracking there as by the end of May I want to be at 167lbs. I still can’t believe how I got myself to 155 two years ago and completely messed up the downward trend, but it is what it is. At least my boyfriend hasn’t proposed to me yet. I think he will on our nine year anniversary, which is next month. So that gives me some time to get myself presentable for a wedding. One he officially proposes to me, and once I’m down about 20lbs back to 155, I may splurge on the personal trainer to help with the last 30.

Holy Shiznit, Spent $2000 Per Month on Food

My boyfriend and I are fairly rational people, yet we suffer from a case of avoidance. We’re both in two very different places in terms of earning and savings, as I’ve noted before. He has about $0 in savings while I have over $250k. He makes $80k sans benefits while I make $110k, for now. Neither of us are the smartest spenders. But facing reality is something that we both needed to do. Especially in terms of our food spending.

We eat out. A lot. We made a rule a while ago that whoever invites the other person pays. We don’t go to fancy restaurants but it still adds up. I am uncomfortable cooking in my kitchen with my roommates and his room doesn’t have a kitchen. I tend to spend about $600-$700 per month on food, including a few dates where I pay for both of us. But his $1200-$1500 monthly expenditure was the real shock. Continue reading

Splurge of the Month: Cuisinart MSC-600 3-In-1 Cook Central Multi-Cooker

Instead of buying lots of little crappy items I don’t need, I want to focus on buying one nice item that I do need (or that would make my life seriously better.) I’m going to try to hold off until later in most months to make this purchase, but I couldn’t resist buying more cooking tools on 2013: the year I get domestic.

Cuisinart MSC-600 3-In-1 Cook Central Multi-Cooker: Slow Cooker, Brown/Saute, Steamer

SPLURGE OF THE MONTH: $149 (org. $299) Cuisinart Slow Cooker / Steamer / Brown/Sauter.

Continue reading

Mid April Budget Check-In: Goal to save $3,000 this month

To keep tabs on my monthly budget, I promised to check in at least twice a month. So here’s where I’m at so far this month….

My goal is to save $3,000 this month after expenses.

INCOME: $2700

Rent: $630 / $630
Personal Care: $145 / $150
Food & Dining: $310 / $350
Auto & Transport: $155 / $200
Shopping: $107 / $150
Bills: $0 / $150
Entertainment: $0 / $150
Health & Fitness: $75 / $100
Gifts: $0 / $100
Travel: $0 / $50
Fees: $12 / $20
Education: $0
———————-

$1478 / $2053 spent

March Spending Wrap: Food & Lasers

Despite thinking I had succeed at a frugal March, it turns out I spent ~$6300 over the course of the month. This means April is going to be fiscally conservative, and I need to stick to a carefully planned budget (to be defined in my next post.)

In the meantime, here is a breakdown of what cost me so much this month…

Personal Care $4,348.10 (laser hair removal)
Food & Dining $646.10 (eeks!)
Home $632.50 (rent)
Shopping $292.16
Bills & Utilities $280.12
Health & Fitness $192.43
Auto & Transport $164.89
Uncategorized $50.00
Fees & Charges $14.25
Entertainment $9.81
TOTAL $6630.36

April is going to be a month of discipline. At least this month the majority of my spending was on the one-time fee for unlimited laser hair removal ($4300.) But the amount I spent on dining was ridiculous. And it’s not like I went out often or had extravagant dining experiences.

This is how my restaurant spending ($440) broke down…

Mar 29 Neiman Marcus Restaurants –$56.18 high tea with friends
Mar 29 Tokyo Go Go Restaurants –$84.74 shared sushi with aunt, cousin. water.
Mar 29 Little Chihuahua Restaurants –$12.50 breakfast with friend
Mar 28 Benissimo Italian Pizz Restaurants –$47.73 dinner with aunt, entree, shared bottle of wine
Mar 25 Max Restaurants –$24.64 dinner for bf, appetizer for me, water
Mar 22 Bangkok Bay Restaurants –$49.76 thai dinner for boyfriend and I
Mar 11 BJ’s Restaurant Restaurants –$64.58 bf’s birthday dinner & his drinks. I didn’t eat.
Mar 7 Cha-am Thai Restaurant Restaurants –$36.06 dinner in city with friend
Mar 1 Morocco Restaurant Restaurant Restaurants –$70.63 nice date dinner with boyfriend

At least my rent cost is still low compared to my income, so I can get away with months like this. Sure, I spent more than I made, but I make it up on other months (as long as you keep me away from the mall!!!) I’m worried about moving, and spending more money on rent this summer. Ok, time to figure out my April budget… coming up next…

The Cost of Having a Social Life: $200 and a High Tea Weekend

Four separate checks were brought to our table, with four separate pens with the elegant Neiman Marcus logo scripted on their sides in gold ink. Two hours of quality social interaction was ready to be swiped on my credit card bill for $44 plus tip.

The $44 wasn’t about to put me in debt, but the cost of my social weekend was adding up. Most of my weekends are spent hibernating in my apartment and being a couch potato, which is probably for the better, because once I get out I end up spending way too much money.

My expensive weekend started on Saturday night, when I had dinner with my aunt. We split a bottle of wine and each had an entree. The cost of that meal was split, and put a $50 something charge on my account.

The next morning, I drove to the city, and borrowed $20 from my aunt for a $6 bridge toll (which ended up costing me a lot more than $20 in repayment… I’ll explain in a minute.) I spent $12 on breakfast meeting with a friend, and then went to a coffee shop to get some work done and waste a few hours before another dinner with my aunt, along with my cousin and their friend. But a good friend saw a Facebook update of mine that mentioned I was in the city and called me with an invite to high tea at Neiman Marcus. A fan of tea, high tea, and friends, not to mention jealous of all the women who were at the coffee shop with their own Sex & the City cliques, I immediately accepted the invite, not thinking of the expense.

So I drove across the city and found a free spot on the street about a half mile from Union Square. I felt giddy on the walk down to the restaurant, excited for this random invite to high tea with my friend that I hadn’t seen in ages and two women who I hadn’t met yet.

The tea menu had three options, starting at $37. Then there were two more expensive options with champagne. I didn’t need champagne, but as the other women decided on it (the mid priced option) I figured we’d end up splitting the bill anyway, so I might as well indulge. And the entire experience was so worth it — the conversation, the tiny tea sandwiches (which I scarfed down despite not being hungry), the champagne, the delicious fruity black tea… and at that point my weekend had added up to about $110 for dinner, breakfast and lunch, not counting the cost of gas. And the women I had tea with weren’t about to spend that much on tea the next weekend — we all discussed making this a seasonal thing, with our next high tea at another restaurant tentatively scheduled for June.

After tea, I went straight to dinner at a sushi place. I wasn’t hungry at all at that point, but everyone decided it would be best to share a few rolls. They were really good, so I had some of the sushi, when I shouldn’t have even eaten anything more at that point. Dinner was enjoyable, and I was so happy to be having one great social experience after another… when normally I’m depressed due to being a hermit or nervous due to being in awkward large social experiences where I don’t know how to interact with people. That dinner, however, ended up costing me something like $70. My aunt brought up that I owe her $20… which I did… and I paid the bill plus tip, which came out to something around $84. She gave me $13 cash.

So my social life this weekend cost me $200. One thing I’ve been thinking is how much more money I would spend if I move to the city… not just on an apartment, but on all the things I will do (and eat.) At least living in the burbs makes it impossible for me to have the opportunities to spend a lot on being social… well, mostly because my friends all live in the city. But then… what’s life without these experiences? I’m making $90k a year and I feel guilty for spending money… I’ve become such a miser. And despite not exactly saving as much as I could, I’m also greatly limiting my life experiences right now so I may have enough money to live in retirement. It’s a major trade off.. and I’m starting to think a social life today… and my happiness today… may be more valuable than an extra couple thousand dollars down the road. What do you think? How much money do you spend on your social life?

5 Free Food Offers in the Bad Economy

My sister apparently got detention with 3/4ths of her senior class for coming to school late today to get free pancakes at iHop. While that deal’s offer, you can still take advantage of the free food deals popping up at restaurants and fast food joints across the country.

Some are country wide offers and others are local, here are 10 free food offers across the US to take advantage of during this nasty recession.

1. Free Sub — USA

Get a free sub from Quiznos; all you have do to is sign up for their mailing list and print a coupon.

See: Quiznos(R) to Give Away One Million Subs on MillionSubs.com

2. Lunch for Layoffs — Alabama

Recently got laid off? Hungry? All you have to do to qualify is bring with you proof that you were recently laid off and you’ll be provided with a free lunch at Dothan restaurant in Alabama. Nick Nitkowski, owner of D’Monico’s said, “We are going to make sure they get a good hot meal, something to drink, bread and pats on the back and to let them know things will be better in the near future.” Domonico’s serves lunch from 11 am until 4 pm, Monday through Friday.

3. Economic Stimulus Package – California, Iowa, and Other Locales

Salt Creek Grille – Dana Point’s premiere dining destination – has created the Salt Creek Grille Economic Stimulus Package – a bailout plan that offers a random free meal to unsuspecting customers, a reduced-price award-winning Sunday brunch and special discounts during the week. In Iowa, Islamorada Fish Co.’s restaurant owner has a similar “surprise free meal” plan to lure in customers.

4. Free Buffet – New York

Union Restaurant and Bar Latino in Haverstraw, New York, will open their doors to serve complimentary buffet meals from Monday to Wednesday. Owners of Union Restaurant and Bar Latino, David Martinez and Paulo Feteira, said they decided to hold the event to welcome those who can’t afford to dine in a nice restaurant because of the current financial crisis.

5. Free Spaghetti USA

Fazoli’s, known for fast, fresh Italian food, kicks off its 20th anniversary celebration today with a feast of special offers, including a continuation of its popular free spaghetti promotion and nearly a dozen delectable new menu items, all of which are now baked fresh to order.