Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Another Cheating Day

First, before I start, let me say Hi! to all the people finding me through msn's SmartSpending blog. I'm not sure yet if I'm excited or terrified. Probably both.

Yesterday was another of those cheating days. The ones I can't afford and keep telling myself I need to stop. But when I got gas the Doritos were there and I could not resist their siren call.
So there went $4 that would probably have been better spent on toilet paper or more gas ($2.58/gallon? srsly?). Oh, they were yummy though.

After not eating much, then eating just junk I started to feel like junk. The junky feeling might have been helped along by the allergy pills. So I took some vitamins (multi, C, B12) and swore off cheating (again...).

I'm not going to take the money out of my food budget. I'm sure I should, but if I start "punishing" myself for cheating or making mistakes I'm really not learning anything. That and this becomes one long list of things I'd love to eat but can't afford because I blew my veggie money for the next 5 months on falafel. Ok, and because I have things I want to get with the rest of the money for this week ($1.99/lb asparagus???!!!).

This is week 5, after all, and Sunday morning I get a crisp, dirty, new(-ish) $20 bill to spend on more veggies. Meanwhile I have $18 left over from my starting-out money, about $13 of which will go toward the purchase of a huge sack of (not super healthy) white flour, and the rest toward veggies. Like sauerkraut, which I've been craving since I watched people demolish plates of it on The Amazing Race last week.

Or, you know, a couple zucchini and a bottle of catsup.

Ok, off to finish my breakfast before it becomes permanently sealed to the bowl, and plan out my eating of potatoes and cabbage. Not just because it's st. patty's day, but 'cause I need to eat them before they learn to walk.


  1. You totally kick azz! I know this is a blog, but you could probably make money publishing a recipe book on this topic and creating a computer program where the user selects the meals they want to eat for the week, and then a grocery list of needed items is then generated. I wonder if you could do some sort of co-op where you pool your money together with other and buy in larger bulk for less. Of course you would need people who like similar food or who are not picky.

    May I suggest a book "How We Decide" and another blog, "". Your feeling are and the temptations are just what your brian is programmed to do. Life is the weird balance between self control and pleasure. Anyway, thanks for the blog and I wish you tons and tons of sucess!

  2. Sorry, that is BRAIN and SUCCESS!

  3. awesome blog!!! i'm totally rooting for you. you can do it!

  4. Wow -- what an ambitious project you've invented for yourself! I'm enjoying the blog so far, and I will be trying some of these recipes for sure. Best of luck ~ Aimee

  5. Best of luck to you.

    I did pick up on comments to yourself about the oatmeal, mostly about the texture. And that you bought the 'quick' oats. I'm kind of surprized at that given where you shop and what else you buy.

    If you haven't already, try the regular oatmeal. It really only takes about 3 minutes longer, the texture isn't glue, and I personally think it 'sticks to the ribs' better.

  6. I'm one that found your blog through the MSN story... but I think this is great. I am always trying to find ways to save money on food... I hope you are able to do well with your quest. Best wishes.

  7. Found you through an MSN link. Will be interesting to I am off to start at your first post and catch up.

  8. I am also one who found you through MSN, but I was intrigued! I like it! I also like Wallace's idea up there about pooling together! I could be a pool partner if you want! lol, That is if you are in KS by some odd mishap of a chance. Good Luck with the program as a whole!

  9. Have you considered applying for food stamps?

  10. I also found you through the MSN link. I just wondered if you had considered planting some food. I started a tomato plant in a flower pot in the house. I put a milk jug over it and seems to be doing well. It is about a foot now. It seems healthy. I hope it works. I love tomato's, but not the ones you buy in the store. My son is trying to grow corn. He is 8. We'll see how that goes. Anyways.... Good Luck!

  11. Just wanted to say I love your blog! But I worry about your health, as tried and "lazy" as you may feel you really need to eat good food. I also agree with another commentor, you should try regular oatmeal or steel cut. Look forward to following your adventure!!

  12. This is an amazing idea. Not to dig into you too much since you already know, but you're probably not getting enough calories, and the ones you are getting are almost entirely carbs. Have you thought about cutting out refined flours/sugars and instead replacing them with do-good carbs like brown rice, or even a complete protein like quinoa? They're a little more expensive, but then you won't get scurvy.

  13. Another MSN follower...

    love the blog!

    I don't know if you have a Meijer near you, but the one near my parents' house does a "priced to move" every morning of produce they want off the shelves ASAP. I've picked up 5 avocados for a total of $0.80, 4 apples for $0.50, etc. Maybe one of the regular grocery stores near you has something similar.

    Also, try looking up what's in season where you live - usually what's in season is also what's cheapest (greens, asparagus ($0.79/lb at a Kroger near where I live), broccoli in the early spring, berries later in the summer, tomatoes and peppers in August, etc.), and it could help you get a broad range of vitamins spread over the whole year (iron in the leafy greens in the early spring, vit A in the sweet potatoes and squash in the fall).

    Good luck!

  14. Another MSN follower too :)

    This is really awesome! Actually inspiring to try this myself (although the thought of no icecream does make me sad lol)

    Also the quicky recipes are great reference as well us gamers that are just as lazy appreciate it!!

  15. I'm another who found you through MSN and I applaud your efforts. There has been a similar "forced frugality" state in my past - and so I truly identify with what you are doing. I just never thought to blog about it.

    I figure that you are going for about 30 cents a meal. While I'm not sure this recipe hits that target (I think it comes close)... here's my "Vat of Soup" recipe that would get me through the days when I was too bummed-out to cook. I could get about 25 serving out of it, and it froze and reheated nicely. It also stretches well with diced potatoes or rice.

    You don't have all the ingredients for it now... but you maybe it'll help you out down the road.

    In the meantime, keep your chin up. You've got a bunch of virtual friend out here rooting for you! ~

    6 cups of veggy stock (freeze&save the stock from boiling or steaming veggies)
    2-28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
    2 med onions chopped
    2 carrots chopped
    2 celery stalks chopped
    2 zucchini chopped
    2 yellow squash chopped
    3 cup of beans (I used northern or white)
    1 TBSN of Creole or Cajun seasoning (but I think chili powder works well too.

    throw it in a vat and let it simmer for 45 minutes - all day. an added mood lifter is that it helps your place smell like home-cooking!

  16. I have to say that you have inspired me! I am a vegetarian and am constantly looking for new recipes, ways to go 'vegan' and ideas to save money on food in general.

    I am envious of the stores you have available to you. Although we are lucky enough to have one Asian market that I've recently discovered, we only have one or two stores that sell healthy, organic and vegetarian options and of course, they are WAY OVERPRICED! Fortunately, our local farmer's market is open year round and soon enough we will have the option of buying organic, local produce for pennies.

    I echo others' posts - try the regular oatmeal vs. the quick oats! The oats are larger so the texture and flavor is better. Add some bananas with the cinnamon to get fruit and flavor!

    Also, substitute some of your pasta with whole grain and/or brown rice - better for you (although I do understand they are more expensive). I have found at the Asian store the pasta is super cheap and it is not filled with ENRICHED ingredients!

    I will be religiously following your blog and wish you much success!

  17. I applaud you for getting creative with meals in order to stay within your $1/day budget... but I'm worried about you! Your daily routine and habits don't sound healthy... one way to make it better might be to quit the soda habit cold-turkey and drink water instead. Then you can use that soda money for some verggies or something! (I realize that soda is not included in your food budget... but it should be! If you're cutting back because you're broke then you probably shouldn't be buying soda!). Good luck, and I hope that you DON'T make it 365 days!***only becuase you find a job or receive a visit from the money fairy :)

  18. I hate to be critical, but if you are broke, why are you spending money on the lottery and internet service?

  19. What a great blog topic! This is one blog I plan on following...well done, MSN for picking this one up!

  20. So I have traveled and I am jealous of your life. great blog

  21. Yet another person who found you through MSN. I took the time to catch up on all of your posts and I wanted to give you some more recipe ideas by way of linking you with one of my favorite websites in case you're able to find (or substitute) the ingredients. These are all vegan recipes that can be prepared in 15 minutes or less.

    Happy eating and best of luck!

  22. Wow- there's a lot of you on here, and I'll try to get to everyone, but it may take a while! While I work on it, Thanks for reading, and commenting, and just plain being cool!

    @Wallace-A buying co-op is a great idea, and I'll keep it in mind for august, when I should start buying a bunch of food again. And I'll check out that link, as soon as I get back from hanging out with friends tonight.

    @Bio Major- I'm glad you like it, and I really hope you're right!

    @aimee- let me know what recipes you like. Sometimes what I'm willing to eat out of lazyness/ hunger/ sense of adventure doesn't translate well to "normal people" food.

    @Cheryl- I will probably get rolled oats when I finish this container. Everyone raves over them (well, as much as you can about oatmeal). The quick oats are really just more finely rolled/ chopped oats, which effects the texture. Am I missing something, and they're less nutritious as well as faster cooking?

    @pink- thank you for the good wishes, and I hope you find something here that you can use. It's good if this helps me. If it helps someone else, too- that would be amazing.

    Ok, time to get ready. I'll try to finish up by morning.

    And just... Wow. Really. Wow.

  23. Hi, I found you through MSN as well. Love your blog. A couple of suggestions:
    Instead of instant/quick oats, try steel cut. They take longer to cook but the taste and consistency is better, health value is higher and they're waaaay cheaper (if you buy from a bin).
    Also, I know it may sound like a spurge, but look into prices for frozen blueberries. A few on oatmeal in the morning really make it so much better, and the antioxidant value is high. Beside you can use them in salads or as a sauce base too.
    Keep up the great posts!

  24. Awesome blog, you are now one of may favs, can't wait to read what's next.

  25. @Luster- I'm happy you found me here!

    @Megg- Pooling would be cool, but I'm nowhere near KS. And... well... if KS is anything like NE, that's one *wide* state!

    @April- What on earth would I buy with $176 +/- a month? It'd be veggie "meatball" subs every day!

    @Suzanne- I'm working on permission for a small dirt garden. This is the *perfect* time to put one in here in SC. I have the black thumb of plant doom, though- anything I put in a planter dies. So dirt is preferred.

    @Eileen- Thank you sooooo much! I'm actually posting every day to try and make sure I'm eating better- public shaming over failure, and all that. Steel cut might be out, but regular oats are totally in.

    @Brianna- I'm sure I'm not getting enough calories right now. But I take some vitamins, and lean toward Vit. C rich veggies like cabbage anyway, so scurvy (vit. C deficiency) isn't hugely likely. I'll work on bringing in more whole grains, but they are significantly more expensive than white rice and white flour, which means far fewer calories available. Quinoa is a good idea, though (in small quantities)- maybe in a grain salad. Anyone know how to cook it so it doesn't taste like soap?

    @Frugal Engineer- I don't have Meijer here, Those sound like amazing deals! I do have Save-A-Lot, which is more like Aldi (only no deposit to use a cart). Buying in season is a great way to save! And grabbing the totally out-there sales and "loss leaders" at the grocery stores. Also, I'm lucky because Charleston, SC has year-round local veggies, and the Vegetable Bin, Hollywood farmers market, and farmers themselves to buy them from!

  26. @irony- I'm glad you're finding this useful! I think gamer's need for fast, cheap, at-computer-or-console eatable food is a crazy thing. I've actually watched my roommate eat mac and cheese for all 3 meals one day. Anything's healthier than hot pockets, pizza rolls, chips, and bagel bites :) Cheaper too- more money for games!

    @Maureen- That is an *amazing* soup recipe! Even if it's not 30 cents a meal I'm sure it could be balanced out through other meals. One serving of oatmeal is only about 9.6 cents. Unless I go crazy with the toppings I doubt it goes much over 15 cents prepared. Do you think it would work with different veggies? Or even with canned tomato paste instead of crushed tomatoes? I know the texture would change, but it would also lower the price- a lot!

    @GraceP- wow, inspiring, huh? Are you sure you're reading the right blog? j/k. I am *so* lucky in where I live. I actually dumped my whole life in the middle of the country to move here at the beginning of Feb. It's seen as a very expensive place by visitors, though. I looked around a lot, and I do go pretty far afield sometimes for items- when I'm going that way anyway. Have you tried striking up a conversation with one of the coupon binder ladies at your local grocery store? I'd bet they know every deal on food within 60 miles. It may not be organic (I don't think *anything* I have right now is...) but sometimes the budget comes first. re: pasta at the Asian store- you're right,it is less expensive there. I've had my eye on a big bag of buckwheat soba. I'm just not sure what to use it for, or if I want to spend more on fillers right now, when I should be working on adding veggies.

    @Lindsay- You know what happens when you get gremlins wet or feed them after midnight? I look like that if I cut the soda off cold turkey. I *am* cutting back though, and am probably better finding deals on Diet Pepsi than I am at ones for real food! It comes from working overnights for a couple years. I don't know how much a job will help, but the "student loan magical repayment fairy" would be welcome around here :)

    @kferr- a lot of people want to know exactly that, so I answered it today. Oh, and i "won" $3 last night. I think $1 will go to my next ticket, and the other two will buy me more gas.

    @lasvegasfoodadventures- thanks for visiting. Your photos are amazing! I'm going to have to veggie and cheap-ify one or two, they look so good.

    @Lindsey- Don't be jealous! Most of my cool stuff was paid for with student loans, and now I have to pay them back! Live your life so it makes you happy, and good luck!

    @nicole- bookmarked! That is a great resource. I have to do a couple hours of job finding stuff now, but I'll check it out more in-depth when I take breaks. Thank you!

    @Teresa- I'll check the price on steel cut oats next time I'm at one of the two (I think) places around here with bulk bins. I don't know if they'll beat 96.3 cents a pound, but I hope so. Oats are expensive at the normal store!

    @Demi- Wow, thanks! I'll be checking your blog out as well. During a break though, so it's going to have to wait. Who'd ever have thought that not having a job would be busier than school and work?

    Whew, Caught up- I think. Seriously, everyone? Thank you soooo much. Even if you don't stick around. Even if you think I'm crazy. But extra especially if you think there's something here for you!

  27. you know - since it was St Patricks day yesterday you can get loads of Cabbage really cheap right now, and make your own sauerkraut. Just some cabbage, some salted water and a little time :)


  29. re: soup

    that's the base recipe, and i would freeze it in 2-3 serving containers, and when i re-heated i would add stuff so that i wouldn't get crazy bored with it. rice, potatoes, canned corn, left over broccoli, canned lima beans, any fresh veggies in that really needed used, etc.... the only thing i really found that i didn't like with it was green beans... something about it spoiled the taste of the creole seasoning.

    i don't know the relative costs of tomato paste vs crushed tomatoes per oz. i DO know that i can get a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes on sale at Kroger's (not always the best at pricing) for about $0.85. i've used canned tomato soup (bought accidentally) and then i added about 16 oz of tomato paste to thicken it. if you want to try all paste, i'd use more soup stock, or decrease the amount of paste (but then you get fewer servings).


  30. @Cris and Kim- I read about the great sauerkraut adventure on 100 mile diet. I'm pretty sure my roommates would kill me in my sleep if I did something that smelly in the house. But it is a great idea for people with a good, out-of-the way place for the crock to bubble away.

  31. @Maureen- That makes sense. I'll keep an eye out for super deals on crushed tomatoes, and if I can't find one, I'll experiment. It's always great to have a good base recipe to play with- it keeps the appetite exhaustion imps away.

  32. Great Blog. I only started reading yesterday but spent the day catching up on posts. I am all caught up now. I enjoy reading what you post, though I feel a little guilty that I spend much more on groceries. I remind myself that I have a growing teenage son, and a teenage daughter as well as my husband to feed, but I am sure there is a lot of waste that goes on at my house. You inspire me to try and live a little more frugally.
    I have subscribed to your blog and look forward to reading more.

  33. Good luck with your project. You mentioned not knowing what to do with buckwheat soba noodles. I'm currently living in Okinawa, Japan, where soba is big. If you boil the noodles (about 6 minutes), you could add it into some seasoned veggie broth, or you could do stir-fry. I'm a meat-eater, and I just did one yesterday. I cooked the meat first, so if you want to do that with tofu and a little bit of oil, you could brown it for a few minutes, then add frozen veggies, cook on almost medium heat with the lid on until the veggies are thawed. You'll end up with a decent amount of water in the bottom, so I mixed equal parts low sodium soy sauce and teriyaki sauce with sesame seeds and let it all cook uncovered to thicken. I used maybe 1/4 cup of sauce for a huge frying pan of food. When the sauce had cooked down a bit, I added the soba noodles for a few minutes, so it gets much better flavor. Let it cook down the liquid the rest of the way, and you're ready to eat!
    Buckwheat is definitely a bit healthier than your average pasta, especially with veggies. Good luck.