Friday, May 14, 2010

Day 89- Three Months Down

I am 3 months thought this thing. I've probably spent about twice as much on cheating so far this year as I have on real food, but I'm cheating a little less, eating a little more, and getting a bit more into a grove.

So far I've spent about $133, which is right around where I was planning to be at this point. I admit, I've got a lot more rice left then I intended to have at this point. "Cheating" is no doubt to blame for that. Well, and my swiftly developing deep and abiding hatred of rice, but that's just a side thing. Really.

So in three months, what's happened, and what have I learned?
  • I've eaten a lot of chips, all off books, like some kinda goofy accounting scam.
  • I've worn through the seat in my next to last pair of jeans
  • I've made sweet potato gnocchi (once)
  • I've whined. A Lot.
  • I've changed the rules a couple times
  • I've eaten next to no fruit. I still have most of the tangerines (tangelos?) I got back at the start.
  • I've lost and regained (to some extent) an interest in food
  • I've lost my camera cord, and stopped uploading photos (I think I know where it is, really)
  • I'm starting to accept that no matter how tight my budget, I can only change my diet so far before my brain rebels.
That last one, I think, is the big one. I'm coming off living in a place where it can and does *snow* any month of the year. High fat, high calorie foods are kinda necessary in that kinda climate, more so when you insist on keeping the heat low (dude, gas is expensive!). Before that I was on an all takeout all the time diet, which was (surprise) also high in fat and calories. Switching to a (much) healthier diet has caused my brain to rebel.

Ok, bad excuse. But really? My body's used to the high fat diet. It wants the high fat food- like how the dog wants bread, but without the freaky loud panting and sad begging eyes. I've only just yesterday finished the first 90+ serving bottle of veggie oil I bought back in February. That's only one a day, though it seems like I use more.... I'm still not totally clear on how I'm supposed to force that amount of roughage down my throat each day. Healthy food doesn't really have a whole hell of a lot of calories, I'm learning. You have to really pack it away or purposely add high cal items to get to a reasonable count for the day (and almonds don't actually go with *everything*).

So for the next couple months I'm going to try to play to my strengths. I like easy fast food. I've got tofu, noodles, fast to stir-fry veggies. All easy fast foods if I keep them simple. I've got about 17 pounds (yes, really) of good, high quality flour left. I plan to use it with the tofu to make a bunch of ravioli. Frozen between sheets of plastic wrap it'll be just as convenient as the frozen store bought stuff, for about 1/5th the price. Same with some more sweet potato gnocchi, though I need more sweet potatoes for that- the ones I had grew fur and walked away.

I'm going to try to make some more fake fried rice, because it's filling and a good way to get veggies and calories, but I wouldn't hold my breath out there. I still have close to 8 of the 10 pounds I bought two and a half months ago. maybe if I can make it more interesting? Meh, it's still just rice.

Oh, and because I'm bad with the beans, I'm going to try to use my "other" proteins more- TVP and wheat gluten. I have a whole range of stuff packed in the fridge and pantry that I never even touch. Not the best way to keep a budget lean. Drat my food hoarding gene.

Oh, yeah- and I plan to actually *make* the stupid granola. Can't cart it around and eat it if it's just ingredients in the kitchen.

Food yesterday-
  • 1600 calories of chips (cheating again. Ungood)
  • 1/2 pound of tofu, coated in seasoned flour and pan fried in oil with onions. Better deep fried, but I'm not willing to waste that much oil. A previous roommate tells me it's kinda like "squeaky cheese".
  • Oh, and a bunch of soda. Trying to switch over to water and tea, but the habit dies hard.
I have a feeling that after this year I'm probably not going to ever eat a whole lot of rice, ever again. Which kinda sucks, 'cause it's one of the easiest things to find and eat in most of the world. Well, rice and pringles. Those things are forking everywhere.


  1. Have you heard of these cook one weekend for a whole year ideas? I don't go that extreme but I have started doing things like chopping up all the veggies I'll need for that stirfry and freezing it as soon as I get home from the store. Also cooking a loaf of banana bread to last all week as breakfast.

    I really enjoy cooking but after work I rarly feel like making anything that takes more than 20 minutes of active work. Premaking or preportioning really helps with the need something fast and easy issue.

    I think you are absolutely right to play to your habits. That's how they recommend you get organized so why not cooking cheaply?

  2. Some random thoughts:
    I just read something that said that granola is actually one of the highest fat/calorie foods around and can ruin a diet (because of the oil added to make it crunchy), so I'd suggest getting to making it fast, it could be the ultimate snack you've been looking for.

    What about boiling the rice, then forming patties and pan frying it? I've never actually done that, but it might change rice enough to make it interesting.

    Have you ever seen Super-Size Me? Turns out that a high fat diet has a similar affect on your brain as heroin. You're literally dealing with breaking an addiction.

    To just add calories, I'd start flouring more stuff and adding beans to everything. Unfortunately your diet plus your budget puts just about all the healthy sources of fat and calories off limits.

  3. mmmbah- I've got to share a (small) freezer with a pair of frozen pocket meal junkies. I'll be able to stuff a couple bags of pasta in there, but much more than that and I run out of room.

    Kim- I'd think the sweetener and "extras" help boost that a bit, too. The biggest thing holding me back from making it now is cooking up a thick enough simple syrup and then cleaning out the pot. Ok, it's actually the pot cleaning.

    The rice patty thing might work if I can flavor it. Breading and frying could work out, too. Nuts and avocados might be healthy fats and (mostly) out of my budget, but I'm not sure what "healthy" fats would be not in my diet. That could be the veggie thing again.

    I wonder if junky high fat food is more or less expensive than heroin....

  4. if you had the freezer space - a mexican girl i used to work with would cook up her big pot of beans and then freeze them in little baggies, so all she had to do was pull out a bag and either make refried beans or add them to whatever she was cooking. If you made some spanish rice and did the same thing, you could make yummy corn tacos all the time, really quick and be getting complimentary proteins at the same time.

  5. Ok, so maybe this will help a little. I noticed you said you were getting sick of rice... and a little at a loss for what to do with your beans and flour. Here is a suggestion, try making "hamburger buns" out of your flour. For the "hamburger" part here is a veggie recipe I "made"

    1 cup cooked rice
    1 1/2 cup cooked beans - pink, kidney, navy, whatever kind
    1/2 cup flour (if necessary) (if too mushy)

    you can also add diced onion, garlic, or whatever seasonings you wish to. Anyway, mash everything together (a food processor or a potato masher work well)

    Take a pan add a little oil, add balled mush and flatten to desired size, cook until firm. voila! Vegetarian bean and rice burgers on homemade buns!

    I hope that helps a little!

  6. Well, good sources of 'healthy' fat are usually dairy, eggs, and fish. I've never had to answer that question for a vegan diet - other than beans and nuts, I don't know where I'd go for that.

  7. heidi- I used to do that too. I tried it with the baggies in the fridge, but it was a race to see if I got sick of them, they grew fur, or I finished them first.

    Yim- that actually sounds good. I *used to* add something super tasty like coconut milk, or super spendy like saffron to rice while it cooked, and that made it better. I also used to use better rice, so i'm sure that's part of it. There's a bit of a jump, texture-wise, between basmati and enriched white grocery store bargain. Maybe I'll save up and get some nori. "sushi" makes everything better.

    Kim- most beans are surprisingly low in fat. The canned pintos I had (and the canned chickpeas still in the pantry) have about one gram per serving. The fats from fish are usually replaced with flax- same thing, just a different source. I don't use it, though- can't get over the taste. Plegh. Guess I'll have to work more nuts and avocados into my budget.