having energy and new projects feel fine

It has been a fine day today. I am kind of bored and anxious about something I care a lot, but other than that, it has been going well.

Today I got up around 9 am, had a light breakfast at home, and then walked all the way to one of the shopping mall’s area. There are a number of dollar and thrift stores in that region, which I really love to visit. I did not buy anything today, but it was so much fun to go around the shelves, look at items that are usually unique, browse the books, and checking the sewing items/notions.

I then walked back home. I estimate that I walked around 2 hours today. I think this is awesome 🙂  I feel strong, powerful, able, healthy, and lighter 🙂 Thanks to all vitamin D and iron supplements that I was prescribed two years ago.. What a difference they have made in my energy levels. 

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My interest to consume the food hoarded in the freezer and pantry is going strong. I have consumed quite a bit of the “old” items and have replaced some of them back with fresh ones (like minced beef, chicken, pasta, and legumes). I still have a number of food that I have not touched in the last year or so, including some frozen veggies, wild rice, bulghur, and dried veggies. So I would like to prioritize their consumption in the coming weeks. That is my mental note for today.

My interest in designing new projects continues. Now that I have had all bunch of different projects implemented in my life (decluttering, budgeting, saving money, being frugal, using coupons and discounts, shopping bans, baking bread, taking the bus or walking to go to work, etc.), I am naturally looking for new ones. It excites me, learning about this kind of things, planning, putting an effort to implement them, monitoring my progress, and then improving it if I am still interested in (remember the #superduperleanspendingmonth that I left in two weeks or so because it did not work out for me? 🙂 it is okay every once a while). 

I now am interested in reducing my waste. I have checked a couple of sites and it sounds like I have a lot of extra waste at my hand: I still use paper towel when needed (for cleaning the bathroom for example), wet-disposable clothes for cleaning the sinks and the floor, facial tissue/napkin after meals. I do not compost, though I do recycle paper and other items accepted by our city. I donate what I do not need/use anymore and shop from thrift or second-hand stores as appropriate. I re-use the plastic/nylon shopping bags as garbage liners. I reduced my food waste quite a bit by shopping small amounts (store is 5 min away from me – so it is easy to stop by more than once a week). But I still have waste (1 large garbage bag/week – not too much but it can be less).

So what do I do about it?

I think I should keep reading and continue to be inspired by others’ experience. I will also have a careful look at what my waste and garbage includes. I really want to compost but I will have to see whether I can do this inside the house (no worms or anything) – if I want it to be a continuous activity I must find the most practical way to do so even during our harsh winter.

So these are my new plans 🙂

Shoot a comment if you have ideas to help me reduce my waste/garbage!

weekly budget check

When it rains, it pours.

No, not the rain – I am referring to my spending pattern 🙂 

This past week was a relatively high spending week.

Let me explain:

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Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $87

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $87 = $33

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $597.5  (dance with me here! Wohoo 🙂 ) 

Other expenses: $111 (social/dinner)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $46.5 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as walking rather than taking the bus, having breakfast at home rather than the local cafe etc.)

Notes: it is interesting that sometimes spending money feels right. For example, on Tuesday morning I took the cab to office for the first time in 2017 (I usually would take the bus or even walk). It felt right and I am not resentful about its fee because I woke up at 6.45 am and by taking the cab I started my work-day at around 7.20 am. It was a very efficient day and I am very happy about this.

Also the dinner expense I have made (today) was well worth it. I took a couple out for a simple dinner tonite. They are very nice people, I enjoy spending time with them, and I have been to their home many times. It was my turn. Also, they just bought a house, which I wanted to celebrate!  It was a great night with great people – so all is well 🙂

Mortgage pre-payment: I paid an additional $270 today as mortgage pre-payment 🙂 This is my third payment this year totaling $870. I am very excited about these payments and am motivated to save more from my regular expenses so that i can keep making these payments 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: rolled oats, flax seeds, soya beans, and green lentils from the pantry 🙂 I love, love using the food at home! 🙂 

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Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

weekly budget check

Interesting times.

First, I feel like I am spending way more than I should, but this should not annoy me; I only purchase stuff that are either durable and on sale, or are needed.

Second, I think walking to the office in the morning now is a thing for even winter! I am making a serious effort to walk by default now, unless it rains or is very icy 🙂 Walking is so cool 🙂

Third, it is becoming a nice habit to use the small savings to pay as mortgage pre-payments – this year I have made 2 and today I ordered another one to be in effect next week. I am excited and very, very proud 🙂

Anyways, going back to the weekly account:

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Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $73

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $73 = $47

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $564.5 

Other expenses: $49.5 (hair dye etc.)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $46.5 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as walking rather than taking the bus, having breakfast at the local cafe etc.)

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*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: canned beans, quinoa, rolled oats, soup noodle from the pantry; breakfast calzone, beef, and pastry sheet from the freezer 🙂

*a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer. This will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste.

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Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

 

weekly budget check

Another great week of my super-duper lean spending month:)

I have had some extra expenses (a.k.a. non-essential) but I am okay with that as this is the best budget yet. I not only have stayed within my budget, but even managed to save from my weekly allowance:) While the super-duper lean spending month officially is February, you know I have started early and it feels alright. I will post about its details later.

 

Here is the account for this past week:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $74.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $74.5 = $45.5

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $367.5  (yay! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $0 for the second week -a true miracle! 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $22.5 (these are the expenses I would normally do, but decided not to – I am proud of these 🙂 They may be small, but you know what I plan to do with them? Make a mortgage pre-payment!)

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*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: I have done so well this week consuming quite a bit of the food that I have hoarded at the pantry and freezer! These included; pasta, canned bean x 2, and canned corn from pantry and two containers of soup, mixed veggies, and croutons from freezer. Not bad, is it not? 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

hoarding food

I cannot believe how much frozen and dried/canned food I have….

I have decided lately that it has been time to start consuming the food I already have at home.

A quick inventory showed that I have frozen beef, bones (for stock), chicken, cooked meals, green beans, mixed veggies, bread, bread crumbs, zucchini, carrots, and celery sticks, and another set of green beans, in addition to phyllo dough in my freezer. If I was to consume them, I believe they would be enough for two months or longer…..

Another inventory, this time of the pantry showed that I have a lot of rice, bulghur (cracked wheat), dry beans, dry eggplant, dry peppers, dry okra, dehydrated soup, pasta, other soup materials, lentils, many cans of beans (which I love), canned soup, tomato paste and others (not counting around 20 kg of flour). Another month or two’s food…..

I am making an effort to consume these before they expire or go bad. I must do that to limit my food consumption. I have stopped buying frozen food, beef-chicken, and dried food for now. My plan is to not buy any of these items till I consume the half of the stock….

I must admit it is boring to think that I must eat what I have.

Why is that?

I have been trying analyze this and I realized that I like to buy and stock up food. I guess it makes me feel good about myself. I think I feel safer that way. I should also mention that I like the pleasure of choosing, buying, and storing them. Was I subjected to famine in the past life? (just joking – I do not believe in past lives 🙂 ).

But when they are not consumed and hoarded like this, the entire fun starts to diminish…

There are important lessons that I have learnt along this process.

Some of these food, like chicken, is not something I regularly consume. I will never stock chicken again – when I want them I can purchase fresh ones and cook whatever I want. But no more hoarding.

Freezing veggies (by blanching) is a great idea and I enjoyed doing this. But I must make mental notes to eat them after that. I started blanching and freezing veggies to limit my food waste. It is sad to see that unless they are eaten, they are still wasted….

The same goes with the frozen meal. I have 4 containers of chicken soup… What was I thinking? Since i do not enjoy eating the same food more than twice a week, that means, it will take me a month to fully get rid of them…..

I want to have a practice of cooking at least one meal using the pantry/freezer treasures (a.k.a. hoarded food) every week. i started this last week and it is going well.

Honestly, while it is valuable and gives me a sense of security, the food I have is too much this time. I really gotta find a balance of a healthy level of stocking  food up and consuming them 🙂

 

 

if I had 172,800 bucks..

I would maximize my TFSA, pay back my HBP (Home Buyers’ Plan), make an annual mortgage pre-payment, double my mortgage payments, give a portion of it to my family members, invest the rest, and have a nice Chinese meal somewhere to celebrate.

There.

My dream for today 🙂

They say the more money you have, the more you get. Sometimes I believe in it. I also believe that the more I think I do not have money, the more I find myself spending… What an interesting dilemma….

Years ago when my finances was really low (I was kind of like a student), I had read somewhere that we must set our subconscious mind right. Upon a suggestion I read in a book, I put a number of coins in a glass container and placed it in my kitchen window. Each time I pass there, I made it habit to say “I have money“. It felt good and I can say that year I saved the most money I have ever did until then even though the money I made was quite tight 🙂

Since it is new year and my budget is more or less in check, nowadays I am feeling in control of my finances. Yet, we have got some extra taxes implemented in the new year and also our pension plan contributions have been increased by our workplace, so my salary as of new year is  less than last year. I am determined not to lose track or my saving momentum, but considering how already and significantly I have cut my expenses in the last 1.5 years, I for a moment lost my hope and started to feel like I was financially restrained again.

Then, I thought about the people who have survived the war times or the great depression and I knew that I could still cut out expenses should I wish so. I can cut my coffee in half (currently having 5 cups on the average every day), refrain from buying clothes/shoes/boots for many years (I have plenty), change my diet (not necessarily into an unhealthy one, but a more frugal one), use regular flour rather than bread flour for my bread, stop treating/gifting my coworkers and friends, learn to grow veggies in my yard, stop dying my hair, sew better, stop miscellaneous gifting, stop socializing at expensive restaurants, stop wasting food and every other item in my possession and find ways to re-use them, find alternative ways to enjoy rather than writing on notebooks with fine pens, and so on and on….

Come to think about it, some of them are not bad idea (like cutting my coffee consumption – too much of anything is not good anyhow). I am quite bothered by waste, especially the food waste and still have some fresh produce stalling in my fridge… argh… (I should go back to shopping as required rather than weekly store visits). I can also switch to regular flour (which is cheaper than the bread flour) in my sourdough loaves. I can pay more attention to sewing techniques and start sewing myself blouses (which is my primary aim now).

The point is that there seems to be multiple levels of saving. The life circumstances can challenge us, but there is usually more to change and more to save. Hopefully without reducing the quality of life and hurting our health.

Hey, maybe I should thank those extra taxes and pension contributions. They stretch my mind and imagination 🙂

How to maximize the value of grocery funds


I am not an expert; but I have been making effort to save from grocery budget and limit food waste. These two goals together have helped me to try and find out ways that were useful in my journey. Here what I found are useful practices:

DO:

1. Follow the sales: Take advantage of the flyers that appear at your door steps. If that is not an option for you, do not despair – the majority of the stores have e-flyers that can make this exercise quite easy.

2. Shop at variety of places: I am not saying go travel 30 min to a store just to pick up a cartoon of milk. But if there are items that are on sale at different stores and if they are practical options to do so, you may want to consider visiting them. Often times, different stores have different items on weekly sales.

3. Buy bulk: Consider this if you are certain that you will consume the product. Dry food, like rice, pasta, legumes, and canned goods are good examples. Fresh produce usually does not last too long, unless they are dried, frozen, or canned.

4. Use coupons: Whether they come in the inserts, news papers, or apps, you can use coupons to save a dime or two.

5. Use loyalty cards: Many stores offer their own or main stream loyalty cards to their customers. The points accumulate and can give you a free item or two.

6. Freeze food: You can freeze almost any of the veggies or fruits with some practice. Blanching is a good way to preserve veggies, for example.

7. Freeze meals: Freeze extra portions of meals for future consumption.

8. Take an inventory of your fridge, freezer, and pantry: Know what you already have. This helps you to not only appreciate what you already have, but also to identify what you really need.

9. Make your own pickles, jams, peanut butter, sauces, etc.

10. Prepare meals from scratch

11. Bake your own bread: this may be intimidating to many, but it is a lot of fun! It is quite affordable and healthy too 🙂 Expand it to pizza and noodles

12. Opt for un-cut/unprepared meals, veggies, and fruits to save instantly

13. Use your own shopping bags/totes if your store charges for nylon bags

14. Have a meal plan and make an effort to stick to it

15. Take advantage of holiday sales

16. Use left-overs as lunch the next day or to prepare soups

17. Use bits and pieces of veggies or meat in hearty soups

18. Share what you have, especially if you think that you will not consume the food. Family, friends, neighbours, soup kitchen, and food banks are good examples

19. Buy frozen veggies

20. Keep a good stock of regularly used items so that you will not feel deprived

21. Know your coupons and their characteristics (e.g. expiry dates, brand/model they are eligible for)

22. Be grateful for what you have and try to appreciate your efforts

23. Shop when you need, not when you think you should shop

24. Check your bill at the cashier and correct or remove items if their price is not right

25. Change your habits; whether it is the food types, stores, or shopping habits, give a better habit a chance

26. Try new recipes and improvise

27. Learn from others: there are many blogs out there that gives good tips to reduce the grocery bill and the food waste.

28. Monitor your savings 🙂 whether you saved by following the sales, using coupons, or loyalty cards, once you realize how much you do save, it will make you feel great and motivated to keep going!

 

DON’T

1. Buy things only because they are on sale or you have coupons for

2. Care about peer pressure; rather focus on your own needs and goals

3. Get crazy about saving all the time; everyone deserves a nice treat every once a while

4. Buy suspicious food from dollar stores or from the stores’ sales rack

5. Sacrifice your health and well-being by under-nourishment or by consuming limited types of food

6. Forget to celebrate!

 

*In my experience using my credit card works for me (I pay the full balance at the end of each month and I do not buy things that I do not need) – so I cannot solely recommend using cash.

**I am not very familiar with price comparisons – if that works for you, go ahead.

***I am not into using food that are beyond their expiry dates

 

 

joy journal – Oct 23, 2016

I am feeling very joyful and I cannot wait to share it 🙂

1. I am grateful for the warm weather. It has been raining yesterday and today. There is a lot of humidity and surprisingly a relatively high temperature. My window is open right now to let the cool and fresh air get in. What a luxury for a late October day 🙂

2. I am grateful for sleeping well and waking up not too late. I was refreshed and ready to walk and work my body. It is a great feeling for someone like me who is usually not a morning person. I give half of the credit to the warm weather.

3. I am grateful for going to two stores and getting stuff that I would be needing soon. One of them were eggs, which were on sale. Since I consume eggs quite a bit, I was happy to find them on sale and stock up for the coming weeks. I love it when the food I love is on sale; it makes me very abundant and grateful 🙂

4. I am grateful for walking like 30 min in the morning to the stores. It was a fine day; my body enjoyed the walk and the sweats, and I was convinced once more that my iron and vitamin D supplements are doing a great job keeping my energy levels up. I lived in a minimum energy levels for almost 7 years… It is hard not to feel sorry for yourself when you do not even want to walk 10 min to a store. It is actually a horrible feeling, as I was prior to that time quite active and energetic. I am so grateful for my doctor putting me on these supplements and making me feel alright again. May they find the help and support when they most need it.

5. I am grateful for the milk I drank this noon – it was fresh and so tasty. Milk has never tasted so great to me, so I savored it for some time…

6. I am grateful for talking with my family and sharing laughs 🙂

7. I am grateful for my family being safe and sound.

8. I am grateful for my no food-waste policy. I admit that I am not 100% successful in this, but since last year I have come quite a long way. Today, I prepared a nice dish with the stalks of the swish chard that were left from yesterday’s baking. Basically, fry a large onion in vegetable oil, cut and mix in the stalks, add 1 cup water, let them soften for 5 or so and then add salt and chili flakes. Yummy 🙂

9. I am grateful for being 194 pounds.. I am steadily and slowly losing weight and I am excited about this. The tricks were: a) limiting late-night eating, b) eating raw veggies (like celery, red cabbage, cucumber, tomato, herbs, lettuce, carrots etc.) every day. I believe both of these are working just fine. I also think increased calcium intake helps with weight loss, though I have no idea whether this is a scientific fact or a statement from the milk lobby?

10. I am grateful for my new hair; for the first time in my life I have long bangs now. My hair is neck-length and my bangs too. For the first time in my life.. And I am loving it 🙂 Go try something new and surprise yourself 🙂

11. I am grateful for the food I have had today; all fresh, healthy, and tasty.

12. I am grateful for the sourdough I baked today; I should have baked it a little bit longer but it was just fine. I added a little bit more salt this time, which really suits this hearty bread. I hope to remember to continue with it.

13. I am grateful for having so many food and pantry items at home. I believe I do not need to purchase anything for a month or so (except the fresh produce and milk). Looks like I have done very well in terms of stocking up things that I regularly use. I feel very abundant and excited about it 🙂

14. I am grateful for the TV show I have been watching since yesterday – The legend of the Seeker. I remember this show from many years ago and I am loving seeing it again. Thank you youtube for making this pleasure possible.

15. I am grateful for having an uneventful and relaxing sunday. It may be a work day tomorrow, but that also is fine.

16. I am grateful for being safe, healthy, and felling good about myself, my body, and my life.

17. I am grateful for being grateful and feeling excited and happy 🙂

 

 

easy red cabbage stir fry

I love red cabbage in salad. My regular stores do not have it all the time, so when I find it, I buy multiple heads. Unfortunately that also means that sometime I have them in the fridge for too long and almost gone bad.

Today I decided to make use of two heads of red cabbage before they get bad. With one of them I am trying red cabbage sauerkraut (maybe I will post it another time). I made an easy stir-fry with the other one.

here is the recipe for this easy stir-fry:

  1. remove the outer layers, wash-pat dry, and cut one small head of red cabbage
  2. in a frying pot, add 1.5 table spoon of vegetable oil, let heat up a little bit (add and fry garlic for a minute or so, if you wish – I just did not feel like eating it today)
  3. add the cabbage and mix time to time for 10-15 min
  4. add 2 table spoon of soya sauce and 2 table spoons of black bean sauce
  5. stir for another 2 minutes
  6. add sesame seeds and take off the stove

Enjoy!

Is there an easier way to consume this delicious and healthy veggie?

IMG_8626
final product 🙂

shopping weekend and green bean for freezer

IMG_8540
final product 🙂 – once cool down, I will put it in a freezer bag and place into the freezer for later use

I have been shopping this weekend and I love it 🙂

It is not a secret that I love shopping. There is something nice about looking at all the products, compare prices, and then purchase those that will provide my life with comfort and value. Do not get me wrong – I am not into purchasing things that are not useful to me. I am on a frugal adventure myself 🙂

But when needed, I love shopping 🙂

For the coming family vacation, I needed to purchase a couple of gifts, which I was happy to. I loved every single thing I have purchased and the nice thing is that they do not cost too much. I happen to shop along the year for gifts and accumulate them over time. I love looking at them and the positive feelings they will create in the people for whom they are purchased.

I also purchased freezer bags for the time first time for myself. I wonder why I have not noticed them before… I am interesting indeed 🙂 I will use these bags to store my food. I was once interested in canning but with the freezing route, I will feel better as it is easier and there is no health hazards like botulism. I am not saying canning will always lead to this health problem, but knowing how inexperienced I am, after reflection I decided not to can.

I so far could blanch and store carrot and zucchini in freezer. This time I am going to try green beans with tomato. Beans were on sale yesterday and they really look fresh.

Basically:

  • wash and cut 1 lb of green beans
  • grate or cut in small cubes 2 tomatoes
  • cook on the stove till the beans change their colour, tomatoes are cooked, and the liquid evaporates (around 16 – 20 min at medium heat). I closed the lid during the first 10 min and then removed it to let the liquid evaporate.
  • stir occasionally
  • Do NOT add oil or salt
  • cool down and put in freezer bags and store at the freezer.

When needed, take out from the freezer and prepare your meal as you like. I plan to fry 1 medium onion in vegetable oil, add the beans and tomato directly, add 1 cup of water, add salt to taste, and cook until beans are soft and tender.

Excellent way to preserve vegetables when in season and on sale. Credit goes to my mom 🙂

Bon appetite!

my baking adventures and excitement in life

I have written a couple of days ago; excitement is a lovely thing 🙂

I have been thinking since then that that is actually very true and I seem to like excitement (planning, thinking, reading or writing about future plans, whether it is my budget and savings, or currently, my baking adventures).

I like this kind of excitement because honestly I am too stressed to enjoy my life. My mood is pretty much dependent on how the work goes and what hurdles we face. This gotta change and I gotta find a balance in my life between work-related emotions and life-related emotions. Eventually I am hoping that they will balance and when one of them sinks, the other can still keep my mood at a healthy level. That is why it is important for me to find things that will excite me. Who knows what it will be next day, but nowadays it is baking. I

I am planning to bake yet another bread tomorrow with baking powder based on a recipe I found on the net. I hope that this time I can do this as I really am not interested in buying another store-baked bread.

While at the beginning of my baking saga, I was only interested in yeast and how it works, I later got determined to bake my own bread all the time, dwelled into other recipes (such as tea biscuits), and now I can see that I am actually getting interested in dishes where oven is involved.

Not sure why that is but I am kind of thinking;

First, my subconscious mind. For years I have been saying “I cannot cook. I do not like cooking.”. Now the term is different (baking) and I believe that is why I am not negatively reacting to it and I in fact am okay with preparing food by baking.

Second, the availability of all kinds of recipes on the internet makes it easy and convenient to select and try dishes/bread.

Third, I am really in love with yeast and how it works, even though I have failed brutally once I was trying to bake bread/baguette. Baking powder is also interesting for me – improvising with these two is an interesting adventure, with lots of learning and all.

Fourth, baking enables me. I can bake for myself and I can bake for others. This morning for example, instead of buying something to eat with my coffee, I opted to bring in my own biscuit and enjoy it with my coffee at the cafe. Yesterday, I baked for a social. These are new abilities in me and I like this feeling.

Fifty, there is an excitement in planning to bake, choose a recipe to try, shop for ingredients, and actually try it. Considering the fact that baking does not require anything expensive and can be done at the comfort of my home, I am extra excited.

Sixth, I am eating better. Well, maybe not the tea biscuits 🙂 but the bread I made and the zucchini dish I tried today are healthier than what I would otherwise eat. I will never try those store made breads full of who knows what. Less chemicals to consume and more confidence in what I am eating. And any veggie that stays in my fridge while relentlessly waiting me to cook, can now be included in an oven dish or a veggie bread. I can trick myself eating more veggies by baking – I am excited about this.

Seventh, making use of what I have and not wasting food/veggies.

Do I have to say more?

🙂

I wish you to have such excitements in your life that make you healthier, happier, learning, and excited about life.

fluffy zucchini and savory dish

Baking and oven dishes are becoming my current, newly found excitement in life 🙂

I have had two small/medium sized zucchinis that have been waiting in the fridge. As part of my self-imposed no-food-waste policy, together with my recent interest in baking and experimentation with flour and baking powder, I decided to improvise a dish.

Here is the product 🙂

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*1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon

Recipe:

1. Grate two small/medium sized zucchini – I left the skin on

2. Coarsely chop a small onion and mix with zucchini

3. Add salt, a pinch of black pepper, and 3/4 dessert spoon of savory

4. Add two dessert spoons of whole wheat flour and 1 dessert spoon of baking powder (in both of the cases, the spoons were over-flowing with the flour/powder)

5. Add 1.5 dessert spoon of olive oil and 1/2 cup of water. Mix everything

6. Whisk 2 eggs with a fork and add to the mixture. Mix all together.

7. Place in an oven dish and bake for 75 min. At the beginning I was not sure what temperature to use or how long to bake. So the first 30 min I baked it at 350 F. Since it did not look well cooked or brownish on top, after 30 min I increased the temperature to 375 F and baked for another 45 min.

Voila!

Bon appetite 🙂

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lazy apple granola

IMG_8308.JPG

here is another lazy chef recipe 🙂

I was craving for granola and also had some apples that were softened quite a bit. What better dish than this purely made up tasty treat (I admit; I am a little bit sarcastic as I have never been a good or enthusiastic cook. But, to my surprise, this dish turned out to be just fine!).

 

  1. boil 1 cup of water
  2. place 2 cups of instant oat in an oven dish
  3. slice up 3 (or more) apples and add to the oat. I sliced them really tiny but I guess next time I will have them much larger
  4. sprinkle with 1 tbs of cinnamon, 2 tbs of sugar (for variety, try brown sugar) and add 3 – 5 tbs of honey; add the water and mix well
  5. place in an oven and bake for 20 min at 375 F

That is all it takes. Try with milk 🙂

For a crunchier version, reduce the water by half and add nuts/seeds like almond.

Excellent way to consume fruits that may soon go bad (limit food waste).

2015 wrap up

This year has been great in so many different ways: I am grateful for many positive and lovely experiences this year marked in my life. I always find it useful to reflect at the end of each year, assess and remember what has happened or how I have done, and then plan and have hope for the new year. That is what exactly I have started doing today.

My list of 2015 highlights is not finalized yet; but here is a general list that I may expand later:

1. Family and health: My family’s and my health has been alright; I am very grateful for this. I also found a chance to visit my family last summer, for which I could not be thankful enough. Our close relationship and support for each other continues no matter how far I am.

2. Finances: After a bout of financial worries and unexpected expenses (mostly home repairs), I had finally realized I had to change things. I started with a budget in June 2015, which turned out to be a great help.

a) According to my calculations, I have saved around 20% of my gross income (not including my home equity and company pension plan); seeing this the other day was a pure joy and happiness.

b) My total savings from would be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do, but did not) for the last 6 months is ~$3,000…. This is an incredible achievement… I am proud of myself.

c) The shopping freeze was a great idea – I am not sure who came up with this idea first, but I am wholeheartedly thanking this individual(s) for bringing it to my attention. An absolutely working and wonderful idea.

d) While I needed to borrow from my personal line of credit, I kept continuing buying mutual funds during the last year. Having “debt” pushed me to save more and was the initial motivation after the budget saga: while I have had hardship, I gained because of it. For this, I also thank myself for not giving up and turning things around.

e) I did not have any major repair expenses related to my home this year. My lovely house is strong and sound and I do hope that for many years to come, it will continue to stay strong.

3. Food management: My food waste is minimized 🙂 That is something I truly am proud of. I never intended to waste food, but now I am way better than before: I learnt to do the grocery shopping as required (not once a week) and I learnt to freeze food for later consumption. I even learnt and applied blanching to preserve veggies, such as carrots and zucchini. The pleasure these activities have given me is incredible.

4. Decluttering: This was another thing that positively affected my life. I not only removed many unuseful, unwanted, or crappy things from my house, but also donated many stuff to charity, realized how abundant I was and I did not need to buy many stuff for a while, and psychologically felt the lift of some weight off my shoulder. I am looking forward to the next decluttering activity 🙂

5. Work: Work has gone crazy this year, mostly because I worked with minimal performance. I am not sure why that happened, but one thing is that I have been working so hard for so many years that now I want to take my time for other activities, such as blogging and literature. Life is good, work can be stressful time to time, but I will handle all to my best.

6. New stuff around the house: I loved the art-work I have purchased a few months back that gave a new look and character to my house. I also loved the plants I have got, which are absolutely adorable. The couch cover I have got lately is an absolute beauty. I am not materialistic yet the feelings these and others around my house give me should be acknowledged and cherished.

7. Life-style changes: Well, not as good as I would like to, but I have made some positive changes in my life; walking to the office in the morning (when the weather is permissive) is one of these activities. I have eaten generally better, although I could not lose the weight I wanted to; this is the second. Better days will come 🙂

And so on… Many things to be grateful for 🙂

Once I finish this list, I will have a closure and appreciation. After that, I know I will start working on the new year’s hopes and plans. I hope you will have great ones, too 🙂

 

 

 

 

limiting food waste

If you have not done so, please check on the internet about how much food we do waste (example links here and here). The numbers are way too big.

It is so appalling that we do that…

Considering how many people would benefit from these food that are dumped into the garbage and then to the landfill..

Considering how much we would have saved by not purchasing them or by consuming them later.

Considering how much food would become affordable if we have not inflated the purchase chain unnecessarily.

I must admit I too wasted food; not in big amounts but I did. I bought green produce and then before I could cook, they have gone bad; That mostly happened to me with parsley and other herbs.

For some time now, I am taking control of my food waste. Here are some tips; hopefully they will be useful to you. If you have other strategies to limit waste, please drop a line in the comments area so that we all can benefit from them 🙂

1. Do not buy what you do not need: This is probably the best strategy to limit the food waste. if you are a fan of meal planning, then go ahead and continue with it; my understanding is that meal planners only purchase what they will use in their meals for the week. Not everyone is benefiting from this, like myself. In my case, grocery shopping as needed is the most effective way to limit food waste (my advantage is that the store is 5 min from my home – I understand that this may not be possible for many of you.)

2. Eat what you have: Prepare your meals around what you have in the fridge, prioritizing the products that are still fresh or about to go bad. Note that nutritionally, the fresh and minimally processed food is the best. Make sure you consume the food while still in great condition. If you do have produce that is about to lose its vitality or to pass its best before date, prioritize them for consumption.

3. Organize your fridge and pantry: Every time you shop, take a moment or two to place the previously purchased food at easier to see and reach shelves. Then place the new ones on a separate shelf or behind the previously purchased food. This way it is easier to consume the old produce first.

4. Freeze the extra food: Some people may have deep freezers that may be very useful, too. I do not have one, but I do use the freezer section of my fridge. Blanching is a good way to preserve veggies for later use. This is particularly good if you had catched sales and ended up with a larger amount. Pickling, preserving, and drying up the veggies/fruits are other alternatives. One of my friends dries up her unused herbs. Some others freeze them in ice-cube containers to be used later in soups or meals. I heard brewed coffee being preserved this way (to be used later as ice coffee – what a brilliant idea!).

5. Share it with others: Why not to share those extra items with your family, friends, neighbours, or poor people? This is always a delightful activity. Go ahead and share them, especially if you think that these people are in need, whether because of financial hardship, or death or sickness that can hit any of us anytime.

6. Choose the dried or canned alternative: This I find is most useful for me in the case of herbs. Do net get me wrong; the fresh herbs are great and I think they are more nutritious. But those like dill that I do not use frequently, or mint that I can hardly find fresh here are my dried herb queens. i am not in favor of using canned food too much, but canned tomatoes and other veggies may be a handy alternative, too.

7. Store your bits and use in vegetable stocks: It is not uncommon that only a small piece of a veggie or fruit will remain lingering in the fridge. What to do with these? keep a container in the fridge just for this purpose; collect all the bits before they go bad, and prepare a vegetable stock to be used in other dishes (soup, meat meals, rice and pasta etc.).

8. Store your bits and use as puree or dip: My favorite is to puree these bits; yep. Boil in water and then put through a blender to have a nutritious and rich paste; this can be used in other dishes. Amazing how well this feels; I am preparing one with leek leaves, lettuce, and green cabbage tomorrow to use in an eggplant dish. Try also as dips; yum!

9. Invest in freezer containers and bags, blender/processor, and other kitchen gadgets: Let them help you in this journey – they are worth it.

10. Take inventory every once a while and consume the food: Do not forget to eat those dried up, frozen, canned, or otherwise stored food!! I see myself doing this time to time. I guess I love preserving food, but hey, I gotta remember eating them, too. Remember, even frozen or canned food can go bad.

11. Make a mental note of not wasting food and be an advocate: All behavior is shaped by our thinking. Please take a moment, reflect on the benefits of not wasting food, and feel great about all the steps that can be taken to reduce this unnecessary waste. Reward yourself time to time, if that is going to positively enforce your behavior. Be a teacher and advocate and inform others about the negative consequences of food waste and the ways to limit it.

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