Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 176- The Swiftly Approaching Half-Way Point

So. The 14th of August is the half-way point. I *was* going to do semi-organized, totally off-budget cheat before then, but cash flow says no. Actually, cash flow says no to lots of things, but I'm sure I'll get over it. I'm a big girl (sometimes, kinda).

The important thing about the halfway point (other than the bit where I'm maybe closer to getting to eat easy food again) is that I'm counting it as almost a do-over. Obviously this first half of the year has been pretty much Fail. I've still had chips, pizza, and other random things that aren't any good for me. I've eaten very little of my preferred healthy-type junk food- like avocados. It feels like I've lived on junk food and bread, which probably isn't too far off.

So, for the second half of the year, I've got a slightly different plan of attack. I'm going to try that "meal planning" thing. To some extent, anyway. I want to try basing a week's food around one or two main ingredients that are more flexible, and making several things around them. So if I pick chickpeas and potatoes as my main items for the week, and have some other stuff in the pantry, I'd work with that. Add a veggie or two (and onions), and make fun stuff- like channa masala, falafel, hummus, and maybe pirogies or knishes. If I'm in a black bean kinda mood, I could pick up tomatoes, frozen corn, onion, a lime, and maybe an avocado for black bean salad, and black bean dip, and black bean burgers or soup.

Because my schedule is pretty flexible right now (in a good way, for once) I can shop and maybe cook on the first day of sales. So set my week to Wednesdays, or something. With both work *and* cooking to procrastinate on I just need to block Hulu and I'll either be the most productive person ever or I'll have a very clean house. Either way I should end up with food.

I *think* this should work. The cheat-o-rama will still happen, I just don't know when right now. I think after I get my first "big" payday. Well, and pay the car insurance, and rent, and...

The rest of the rules should stay the same. Depending on how the first couple weeks go (and they may start a bit later than the halfway point- that cash-flow thing again) I may boot the sanctioned cheating altogether. Money left over from planned purchases will roll over to later weeks, obviously, to cover more expensive purchases (like oil and sugar). Any food I've got at the start of the second half carries over. I can't think of anything I'm missing in this update.

Have I mentioned lately how much I want to be filthy stinking rich enough to have someone *else* be responsible for cooking, cleaning, and meal planning? If only rich housewives came in "male." I think the cook/ housekeeper thing is the only part of fabulous wealth that interests me. Though a personal masseuse would be nice.

On food- I ate after I got home from dog-sitting. Some oatmeal, a big batch of (slightly burnt) popcorn, and some very rubbery gluten steak-thingies. Will not be sharing the gluten recipe. It was foul.

Bear was happy to see his parents, who were maybe not so happy to see him. He then stared at me some more, and did his "I am so abused, how dare you leave me with her" routine. He does very good sad eyes. Doesn't even wag his tail. If only I could get him to do sad eyes for a camera. Instead he poses all "inquisitive, innocent" dog-like.

Comments, suggestions, ideas? Positive/ constructive preferred, obviously.


  1. I think a meal plan would be great for you. However, having a "main ingredient" for the week concerns me. It's very easy to get burnt out on something even if its in a different form, which may lead to cheating. Perhaps.

  2. Getting burnt out on my "main" ingredient is a risk, but I've tried playing with the numbers, and other methods end up going *way* over. Part of that is location- it's something like 20 or 30 miles each way to places with bulk bins. That means, unfortunately, I have to buy things by the bag. Per pound cost is less, but I don't get the flexibility.

    I want to try and manage some leftovers each week, so that I've got some variety in later weeks, but it'll depend.

  3. I would like to know what you've been spending on chips/pop junk average per day. It seems like a lot? Perhaps if you upped you regular day allowance some you wouldn't experience so much cheeting? It's almost as if you make it to strict and so can't stick to it... I like the idea of making weekly purchases. Garbanzo beans make so many delicous foods. Potatoes as well... and we don't see much of either in your regular rotation. They are more costly than oatmeal, but one ten lb bag of potatoes costs what one bag of chips does. I love sweet and sour potato salad. (I do mine with bacon, but you would of course not). Potato latkes, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, hashbrowns, fritatas, gnocchi, yum yum yum. There are so many yummy things that you could add potatoes to. It makes it hard that you don't eat meat or cheese or eggs I think... so a lot of the dishes I love, don't make sense for you.

    You also don't seem to eat nearly enough carrots or frozen corn or frozen peas (all reasonable if bought in the big bags). They are magically delicous. Roasted veggies are yummy, can be made in bulk and are great in the fridge for days.

    It also would be a lot better if you were precooking your beans and freezing them in ziplocks. You would be a lot more likely to make meals if you had ingredients that were a little closer to being ready. If you kept frozen pintos, black beans, garbanzos and butter beans in the freezer you could mix it up and not get as tired of one kind of bean like you have been. Allrecipes has an ingredient search feature on it that might be able to give you ideas for what you could do with specific ingredients.

    Anyway, I really enjoy your blog. You are doing great. Appetite fatigue is a real issue.

  4. heidi- at the beginning I was probably spending more than $2 a day between uncontrolled cheating and soda. The last couple weeks it's been much less- maybe $3 a week on soda, with the cheating adding up to another $4 or so.

    When I started back in Feb. I had some pretty serious savings which probably played into the whole cheating thing. Now I've got what I beg, borrow, or write.

    I miss chickpeas. Even if they *are* almost twice the cost of pinto beans, I think I'm going to move them into rotation- when the cash flow says I can. The potatoes I've been having problems with. I don't know if it's that I wasn't using them fast enough, or if they're just evil. Heck, it's probably the house.

    Now that I have "kinda" work, I might up the budget. After I pay the rent and car insurance, tho.

  5. My parent's grocery store (in NY) has chick peas at $1/lb, which is almost half what I pay in MO.

    In other words, prices make no sense. I think the 'main ingredient' thing is a great idea, especially if you can borrow a smidge of freezer space.

  6. I understand about being poor affecting the choices in what you buy right now. I've been there. I remember in my early twenties buying ranch style beans (29 cents per can at Sav-a-lot) and eating that for lunch day after day. Ugh. You get broke enough and it is hard to buy the items that add to the staples to make a boring cheap meal interesting. I lost a lot of weight during that time of my life.

    As for the potatoes... It is important to keep them cool and in the dark. It helps to make sure they are not getting any light at all. That really helps them from turning green and sprouting. Check them to make sure none are going bad and if one does, make sure to chuck it, as it turns the rest of them bad quickly.

    I know you are really broke right now... in the future when you have more money for bulk buying I hope you can visit a restaurant supply store. They have so much better prices on bulk dry ingredients. Dried beans have certainly gone up in price during the last couple of years.

    I buy those huge popcorn tins when I see them at goodwill and use them for white flour, wheat flour, white rice, brown rice, noodles, lentils, pintos, garbanzos, sugar, macaroni, etc... When I spot a good deal on any of those items, I buy it and add it to my tin. (Put stuff in tin in a bowl and then put new stuff on bottom and old stuff back on top, so it gets rotated). Having bulk dry ingredients like that gives me some food security. Even though I have enough money to eat what I want now (within reason), I like the mental security of having food on hand.

  7. Pantry is def. dark. Cool I have no control over- the ac can't keep up with the heat.

    RE: rotation and storing bulk staples- In my ideal kitchen I have a huge pantry, with those self-rotating bulk dispensers like in stores. In my real kitchen I have about 4 square feet of shelf space, a corner of the freezer, and as much fridge space as I'm willing to battle for (not much). For now- with my lack of interest in staying in one place- it's probably better and less wasteful for me to buy things as I'll use them. I don't want to have to get rid (through donation or trash)a whole bunch of food when I move.

  8. How's the buggie infestation thing? Still battling it?

  9. We've finally decided that (because the *walls* are infested) the bugs were already here. RM#1's mom brought over some spray (not effective) to "take care" of them. I still suggest fire. I'm keeping my stuff either in my car (strange), away from the walls hanging in the closet (lightly greased the ends of the hanging rod), or else still bagged to go into long term storage. My bedding gets baked to death about once a week, and anything I intend to wear doesn't tough any part of the carpet. Otherwise, not too bad. Under control in my bed, at least.

  10. I think it's a good idea to do some meal planning, but to base it off the main ingredients of the week so it's not too rigid. In my experience, a rigid meal plan makes for lots of fail.

  11. I'm glad you're *planning* on getting back to cooking. I tend to spend sooo much on food. I love cooking. But I go overboard. I loved learning new recipes from you that I never would have thought of. You also have taught me that I don't need to live/cook in excess. A dash of this or a pinch of that is sufficient. I don't think I have ever used "half" an onion or tomato in my life. :) I look forward to more creative veggie recipies!

  12. Oh, I'm totally able to use a whole onion, but sometimes it'd be too much- one serving of food with a whole (large) onion might be a bit much.

    But yeah, shiny new recipes, meals, random tasty cheap stuff.