Tag Archives: budget

Food Prep

Food prep can mean a lot of different things. Preparing meals for the freezer, assembling complete meals to be warmed during the week, or getting a head start on week night cooking by having ingredients prepped and ready to go.

I’m not always short on time during the week but I’m often lacking in energy and motivation at the end of a work day, and something that I generally enjoy <cooking> can feel more like a chore. I work really hard to stay on a budget, which includes the purchase of groceries as well as money spent on entertainment (i.e. eating out), and I also try to eat relatively well.

There are three reasons the wheels fall off an otherwise perfect meal plan for the week:
1) not having the ingredients on hand, requiring another trip to the store (because that is unlikely to happen, I’d rather order a pizza at that point)
2) forgetting to thaw frozen items from the freezer (again with the pizza order)
3) failing to have prep work done on the front end (you guessed it, pizza!)

So, in an effort to keep us on track with both our budget and healthy eating, I spend time planning meals for the week ahead, doing all my grocery shopping in one swoop, and prepping ingredients on the weekend. In the event that these things aren’t possible over the weekend I try to have a number of options I can pull from the freezer and warm in the oven through the week. Failure to do so often means eating out and I don’t know about you, but it’s nearly impossible for me to make the healthy choice when eating out. Add to that, eating out adds up fast!!

This weekend will be no exception and I’ll be busy washing and chopping fruits and veggies after a trip to the store and pulling items from the freezer.

A bit of what is on deck for the upcoming week are a few recipes I’ve shared with you previously:
Roasted Parmesan Asparagus as a side dish to Grilled Chicken:
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Brussels Sprouts with Bacon as a side dish to Pork Chops:
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My favorite smoothie for a quick grab breakfast:
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And, assembly of several of these salads, using this shredded chicken pulled from the freezer, for lunches through the week:
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What other tips do you use to keep yourself on track with both eating well and staying on budget where food is concerned? I’d love to hear your suggestions below in the comments section!

Wishing you a fun and safe weekend!
H


My New Love: Sprouts

I recently stumbled upon this amazing little place called Sprouts, right near my house.

I thought it was just a grocery store. Plain and simple, a grocery store, like all the others, but probably more expensive because of the fancy name.

I thought wrong and I am now in love.

Sprouts is a Farmer’s Market. Sprouts is a Farmer’s Market with incredibly fresh produce and amazing prices.

produce

Have you ever bought 2 bags of anything and paid less than $10? Me neither, until I stumbled into Sprouts and emerged with 2 bags of the most wonderful store bought (because, let’s be honest, no store out-wonderfuls what I grow myself) produce and paid UNDER $10.

And now? I’m hooked and make a weekly trip in because it just makes me So SO SOOOO happy!

Have you been in a Sprouts? Do you have one near you? I urge you to find out and try it out, if ever it’s a possibility.

And, on a side note, I’m not sure what’s with all the ‘stumbling’ I wasn’t drunk or sleep walking or anything – sometimes these posts take on a life of their own…

Happy Wednesday!


Wedding Planning: Getting Organized

I announced last week, in this post, that I got engaged!! Yay! Needless to say, I have had wedding on the brain since the ring hit my finger.

Or maybe it has been since I was 4 years old. Whatever.

This week I put together my wedding planning binder. I love a good organizational tool, and even better, a well organized plan. My mother does too. And, since we are both control freaks, we’re working with a budget, and I live in a small town (currently) there will be no hired wedding planner…we’re going this one alone.

Wedding planning binders can be purchased, already put together and with various ‘tools’ inside. Most of the time when I purchase a pre-put-together binder of some variety it comes with stuff I will never use and doesn’t have items I wish it had.

Making my own seemed the only logical answer.

I found this pretty purple binder at Walmart and knew it would be perfect for the job – wedding colors are going to be Black & White with accents of Purple.

I also bought tab dividers for each section. The ones I purchased are colored and have a fun design on them, but plain ones would do also.

My tab dividers have the following categories:
-Calendar/Timeline
-Guests
-Ceremony
-Reception
-Misc.
-Wedding Party
-Master Contact List (for an at a glance, quick view of the bridal party, vendors, etc.)

These categories will need to be broken down further into sub-categories so I have purchased tabs that can be written on for these sub-categories. For example, under “Ceremony” I already have a sub-category tab for the church info (including contract). For “Guests” I will have sub-categories of Guest List, Hotel Block Info, etc. You see how this is playing out?

I also included a zip pouch for the front of the binder to stash my tabs for use as they are needed, or any other item that can’t be 3-hole punched and stuck in the binder that way.

I printed free calendars, both in a year at a glance and monthly until the date of the wedding from My Calendar Maker. This website allows you to customize and print calendars (as many as you want) for free. A calendar in your planning binder is essential for keeping track of appointments, due dates, and the like.

I also found this fabulous checklist from Real Simple (I love this magazine, go figure they would also have a fabulous website). The checklist starts 19-9 months before a wedding and gives an idea of what you should be doing when.
Note: I found this especially helpful on our first scheduled planning night with my mom (yes, we have scheduled meetings for this) and we needed a focus point because we (or, maybe it was more-so ME) were getting ahead of ourselves worrying about things that need not be worried about at the moment.

I also should point out that I am a complete sucker for checklists. I can’t get enough of them! I am a tad Obsessive Compulsive like that, and I am a qualified mental health professional to make that judgment call, so there’s no denying it.

A wrap-up of what this binder cost:
-3 ring binder
-2 packages tab dividers
-sticky tabs
-zip pouch
=approximately $12 at Walmart

What I already had on hand:
-printer
-3 hole punch
-paper
-computer with internet access
=free (though I paid for them at some time, but that’s not the point)

The other binders I’ve seen, made especially for a project like this, cost around $25. Making your own, especially if you have many of the supplies on hand (I could have used a binder I already had, and plain tab dividers that could be re-purposed…but I wanted to make it fun this time around), can be a savings.

And so the planning <madness> begins.

Anyone have any wedding planning (on a budget) tips for me? I’d love to hear them!

Love is in the air-
-Hilary

 

 


Morning Coffee

4 summers ago when I bought Therapy House, I bought myself a Keurig Coffee Maker as a house warming gift. This is when Keurig was relatively new on the market, and I adored the idea of individual servings of coffee. Those K-cups were just too cute!

I don’t drink more than 1 cup a day, and the idea of getting to mix it up with coffee flavors as the mood strikes thrilled me. This small appliance seemed like the perfect fit!

I bought the small version of the appliance. The larger versions have a larger water tank and you don’t have to add water each time you make a cup. I’m forced to add water each time, but really, I enjoy this process.  The ritual of making my morning coffee sends a signal to my brain that it’s time to begin the day. It even made getting up for the job I didn’t enjoy (and no longer am at) tolerable.

About 1 year after owning my Keurig, something bad happened. It started out slow, coffee grounds in my coffee (yuck). Then it got worse, the K-cups were exploding inside the machine and sending hot water and coffee grounds all over the machine, counter, and (if I happened to be in the area) ME!

Talk about disappointed. I loved this machine. It was expensive. I knew I couldn’t just buy a new one. Sooo, I pulled out the owners manual and did what I could to clean the internal workings of the machine, along with the K-cup needles. I crossed my fingers, and held my breath. Nothing worked!

I finally bucked up and called Keurig. The woman walked me through the steps I’d already tried to correct the issue and to no avail. Then, the most wonderful thing happened…she offered to send me a new machine, for FREE! The newer model and everything. She only requested that I take the postage paid label that would be included and box the new machine came in to send the broken one back to them so they could investigate what was wrong with this possessed unit!

Happy Again!

Then, about a year ago, a friend turned me on to this little secret: I could buy my K-cups at a cheaper price! Always loving getting a deal, and saving money, I had to get the full scoop.

Do you own a Keurig? If so, you need to know this secret also. Green Mountain Coffee. (greenmountaincoffee.com).

Green Mountain really does hook a person up on the cost of their K-cups, here’s what I found:
1.You have to sign up for the “club”, which is no big deal, no extra cost.

2.The price per box of K-cups is cheaper than anywhere I could find around here (or in the city, for that matter) EVEN when shopping the sales.

3.The boxes of K-cups that come from Green Mountain have 18 cups in them, whereas the ones at the store usually have 12 (see #2 and add in these savings to that as well).

4. If you order 4 boxes at a time, they ship to your home for FREE!

5. The first time I ordered they threw in a box of dark hot chocolate and a travel mug, FREE!

6. Being a member of the club means that you select automatic shipping for your coffee order. You can change your order at any time. When they are getting ready to ship the next order you get a heads up email. You also select the frequency with which you want to receive coffee (every 2 weeks? 6 weeks? I have mine set at 12 – and you can change it any time).

7. Green Mountain has a HUGE selection of coffees, teas, hot chocolates, etc. You are sure to find whatever your heart desires on this website.

I love my Keurig Coffee Machine AND getting a deal on my coffee!

What helps get your morning started?

-Hilary