Pasta Salad: the perfect meal?

For the first time in for.ever I made pasta salad Sunday night. On a whim, I decided I needed wanted pasta . I began my search for the perfect recipe with the one and only Pioneer Woman. She never fails me.

I found this recipe and decided it was the one. I made a few changes: whole wheat pasta instead of white, added red onion, cucumber and I don’t have any fresh parsley so I added a healthy dose of the dried stuff. I cut down on the olive oil and used half a lemon… I also used an entire tub of feta cheese. What?

I let it sit overnight and ate it for lunch the next day. Really good things happen overnight. I dare you to find a more perfect meal. Light, healthy, delicious, portable and with the added feta just naughty enough to make you feel like you’re having a “treat.” No pictures though, because it all went in my belly.

Instead – here’s a picture of me laying on my butt in Alaska, because it’s standard for me to lay on my butt.  

 

 

A healthy budget

I’ve recently gone all hard-core budgeting. I’m not sure what got into me, but it’s really fun! It’s like a challenge, and I think every semi-type A, slightly obsessive female likes a challenge. Or maybe my husband’s love of all things economic and finance-related rubbed off on me.

So, one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most sense I seriously began budgeting, is making my grocery budget/list each month. It’s weird how rewarding it is when the cash register rings up and I’m a measly $5 under budget, but  my pulse quickens because victory is all mine! Yep, it obviously doesn’t take much folks. So, I thought I would share with you some of my tricks to budgeting for a month’s worth of groceries (that are healthy too)!

The first thing I do is decide how much I will spend on groceries any given month. Then I break it down into weekly increments. It can vary depending on the time of year… of course, right now we’re lucky to sometimes get free veggies and sometimes fruits from friends and neighbors. Our monthly budget usually falls somewhere around $300-$325 (which comes to about $75 – $80 a week).

  • Meal planning. I will loosely plan meals for the week prior to grocery shopping. Often times, we will have a couple of “no meat” nights.
  • Two words: Managers Special. There’s nothing better than perusing the meat section and seeing that the humanely raised chicken is marked way down just because it will go bad in two days. Freeze it yo! Buying items that are on sale is the bees knees.
  •  Eat lots of fruits & vegetables. I feel fortunate to have a local grocery store that provides high quality produce at a reasonable price. Right now I can buy a big bag of local apples for less than $3! SCORE! We only eat meat dinners at home once or twice a week. Meat is expensive!
  •  Skip organic where you can. I highly recommend taking a look at this article.
  •  Avoid whole paycheck. If I walk into Greenlife (aka whole foods), I will spend unnecessary money. It’s just a fact. That doesn’t mean I don’t treat myself now and then, but I never go in without a list or a plan.
  •  Coupons. I don’t mean to go all old school on ya’ll, but coupons can be really amazing. I often get coupons for oikos or soy milk and sometimes even dog food. These “little” savings can really add up!
  • Staples. Keep certain staples in stock. I keep a supply of beans, potatoes, quesadilla shells, frozen vegetables and rice at all times. All these things can make a quick healthy dinner, fast.

Just to preface, I typically cook dinner four to five nights a week and we will eat “out” one or 2 nights out of the week (usually weekends). We both take our lunch most days of the week, and I keep a separate budget for “eating out” expenses. Breakfast is all at home.

Thus, my grocery list from last week: (Total $74.56)

  1. Bananas
  2. Apples
  3. Spinach (small bag)
  4. Romaine lettuce
  5. Sandwich bread
  6. Deli meat
  7. Chicken
  8. Potatoes (sweet and baking)
  9. Corn on the cob (yay summer)!
  10. Soy milk
  11. Greek + regular yogurt
  12. Pizza crust
  13. Cheese (shredded)
  14. Cheese (for sandwiches)
  15. Black beans
  16. Eggs
  17. OJ
  18. Cereal

Meal plan for 8/22 – 8/26

Dinners:

  • Monday – sandwich and salad night (I hate cooking on Mondays, so I cheat)
  • Tuesday – baked potatoes, corn, salad and mac n cheese
  • Wednesday – Quesadillas with black beans and sweet potatoes
  • Thursday – On your own night (we both had things to do after work)
  • Friday – Grilled chicken, corn, long grain rice

Lunches:

  • Ham and cheese sandwiches (for him)
  •  Salads (for her)
  • Yogurt
  •  Fruit
  •  Boiled eggs (for her – yummy!)
  •  Cut up carrots and peppers (from mother in law’s garden!) 

Breakfasts:

  • Cereal
  • Yogurt
  • Bagels

And there you have it. The thrill of budget and meal planning (just try to contain your excitement). 

I  know people often complain about how expensive it is to eat healthfully… but I honestly think it’s possible to do it. We definitely have to redefine our focus a little bit and realize that although eating all organic might be ideal, perhaps it isn’t totally feasible. But eating a salad at home as opposed to a happy meal is definitely a better choice. But I’ve also never been in that bad of a situation. It’s so sad to me that some people feel they don’t have access to healthy food. Eating well is a right, not a privilege. Our society, mostly due to the food industry as a whole, has the wrong idea. But I think there is also  a HUGE push to make good food more accessible and that’s the team I want to be on!

The phrase I hate the most

You’ve heard it. You have probably said it at point or another. a few dirty words.

“Time to get back to the real world.”

This phrase inflicts all kind of frustration and malice in my heart. You know, after you just spent a wonderful vacation scaling mountains or swimming in the cool, salty ocean or even a really great weekend of doing absolutely nothing. “Well, I guess it’s time to get back to the real world.”

What does this even mean? Is sitting in an office under glaring flourescent lights and worrying about silly problems, that in the end, don’t really matter all that much – the “real world?” Is holding a grudge against a coworker because of some ridiculous disagreement you just had – the real world? Is production, progress, forward motion and efficiency the real world?

If so, I would beg to differ. I challenge us all to shift our focus. I would like to think that reality or the “real world” is a world in which we are thriving. A world of flowing movement and peaceful reflection, a world in which we can be at peace with our surroundings and not worried about deadlines, success or progress. Wouldn’t it make more sense, after a long week of meetings and phone calls and important emails sent, we might break for a measly two days and say, “time to get back to the real world.” To me, the real world consists of dirt and sky and birds singing, idle moments of quiet on a front porch followed with a sense of peace at not moving forward.

In The Peace of Wild Things, Wendell Berry wrote:

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

I want to “rest in the grace of the world.” The real world, that is.

 

In my 26th year…

Since the last time I posted I was 25 and now I’m 26, I thought it would be fun to dedicate my “comeback” post to what’s happening thus far in my 26th year. It’s technically only been three months give or take a few days since I’ve turned 26, but it’s been a pretty interesting three months. I have to say, I was sort of dreading the big 2-6. I mean I’m over the hump. I’ve lived a quarter of a century. I’m starting to feel twinges of pain in my joints that haven’t been there before. But you know what’s the scariest thing about 26?? I bought eye cream. It’s just necessary. I also always wear a hat when I’m in the sun because I don’t want sun damage on my face. Who’d a thunk it!?

Nonetheless, 26 is proving to be a pretty good year so far.

  • The day I turned 26, we got on a plane and flew across the country to Alaska
  • We’ve climbed approximately six mountains since my birthday
  • Took my road  bike for a 30 mile ride for the first time
  • Traveled across the state of NC to spend time with family at the most beautiful beach in the state
  • Celebrated two years of marriage with my buddy

 I’m excited to see what the remainder of the year will bring.

And, I have to say, having this guy around to do all this growing up stuff with isn’t a bad deal.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I know. I know. It’s been a while. But I’m back. And alive.

Time to make some changes. Please return for your regularly scheduled blogging.

I promise I haven’t just been sitting around on my arse for the last, oh… 10 months.

Said sitting on arse

I’ve got some new ideas for the blog… so I’m going to regroup, reorganize and reappear soon!

An Ode to Beanie Weenies

I love beanie weenies. No, seriously I do. Well, I love my version of beanie weenies anyway. Which involves organic baked beans and all beef or turkey hotdogs all mixed together. Throw a piece of cheese toast on the side. No joke guys.  My favorite time to eat beanie weenies happens to be after a long run. I figure it’s the perfect mix of protein, carbs and calcium (from the cheese toast – duh). Seriously.

I used to get so grossed out when my Paw Paw would eat beanie weenies straight from the can… well, I still kind of do. Ya’ll know what I’m talking about right?

 But my beanie weenies hit the spot every time. Why am I telling you this? I don’t really know. Maybe it’s just a comforting thing to sit down with a bowl of hotdogs and beans and go to town. I’m just sayin, if you haven’t tried it in a while, you probably should. I *think* you’ll thank me. :)

(No dogs were harmed in the writing of this post).

Stream of Conciousness

I haven’t posted in  a while. Life is busy right now. However, I have been experiencing some pretty random thoughts lately. I must really like you because I’m about the share a typical Becker’s “stream of conciousness” with you.

For example, the other day I was getting my hair did. That’s right – Hair. Did. As I sat in the chair while my hair was blow dried and fluffed. Several thoughts entered my mind:

I wonder if I could ever be a millionaire.

If I was a millionaire, I’d buy a big fence and adopt a bunch of puppies.

Or I’d buy a car and a fancy house… Nope, just the puppies.

How many licks does it really take to get to the center of a Tootsie pop? Has that ever been scientifically tested?

What should I be for Halloween?

Snookie?

Nope, couldn’t pull that one off.

I’m hungry.

I wish I had some pizza… or ice cream… or pancakes.

The end.