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:

——————————-

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.)

————————————————-

*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.

————————————————-

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!)

————————————————-

*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 🙂

pantry/freezer treasure finds from the last 10 days

My plan and efforts to consume the food I have hoarded in my pantry and freezer are going well.

I am happy that I am taking steps to actually implement this plan 🙂

I originally wanted to record how well I have been doing re; eating the “pantry/freezer treasures” in my weekly budget check posts. Last week I have not posted it, so I thought I would have this separate entry here. I also aimed for eating at least one food per week.

Overall, I have consumed more than one item per week. For the last ten days, this list included canned corn, pasta, dehyadrated soup, frozen minced beef, frozen chicken, frozen bread loaf, and frozen breakfast calzone.

I congratulate myself for this highly satisfactory performance and I hope that I will keep doing this in the weeks to come 🙂

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 🙂

 

 

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!

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.

limiting the food waste; first blanching and pickling adventure :)

Seeing veggies go bad in my fridge makes me sad. That usually is the case with the herbs, such as parsley and cilantro, which go bad quite easily. I am getting more and more warmer to the idea of frozen food.

In my recent visit to Athens, one of the things I have done was to check a grocery store (I love it – you can find out many different things, which is always a delight for me). I particularly remember how well the frozen veggie section was; okra, spinach, beans, and others; the veggies looked real and fresh. Nothing like what I do see in my store here; frozen, discoloured, and full of little pieces of ice.).

To take this at my hand and to start keeping my veggies fresh and un-wasted, I decided to look for info on the internet (for example, this site) and talked to my mom.

I tried dicing and freezing my onions in the freezer. That is great as I use onion a lot and sometimes buy more than I can consume. I am now checking my onions time to time to pick those which seems like going bad; I chopped them up and put in my freezer last week for the first time and used some for cooking this week – it works! :).

I also learned about blanching. I tried it today with carrots and zucchini. Honestly I do not think it will work with zucchini as it is a moist veggie, but I thought I would give it a try; it is better than wasting them. I am also very hopeful about the carrots.

This is the process I followed:

  1. wash, peel, and trim the ends of carrots
  2. cut in to pieces as you wish: I had cut them in rounds as well as vertically; the latter one I love in meat meals and the round ones can be used in soups or meals. I am also planning to try mashing them up later.
  3. Boil them in water for 2 minutes. I added a little bit of salt as they say it help with keeping the colour.
  4. Immediately take the veggies and place into ice-water until they become cold (2-4 minutes). This step is supposed to stop the cooking process. I think I needed more ice in my case. next time I will put less water and more ice. TIP: blanched carrots taste and smells so good; please give it a try 🙂 I ate a couple of them – it was irresistible 🙂
  5. drain well, place in freezer bags, remove the access liquid and all the air as much as you can, label with preparation date, and place into the freezer.
round or circle cut carrots :)
round or circle cut carrots 🙂
vertical cuts; great for meat meals :)
vertical cuts; great for meat meals 🙂
they are so nicely boiling :) the bubbles made me joyful :)
they are so nicely boiling 🙂 the bubbles made me joyful 🙂
I think I needed more ice :( well, next time :)
I think I needed more ice 😦 well, next time 🙂
look at the brighter color of these lovely carrots after blanching! :) I had read somewhere, exposure to heat does this to carrot and it is supposed to be good for our body :)
look at the brighter color of these lovely carrots after blanching! 🙂 I had read somewhere, exposure to heat does this to carrot and it is supposed to be good for our body 🙂
frezzer bags are ready and labeled (at the bottom; not shown here). I am not hopeful about the zucchini but let's see how it goes :)
frezzer bags are ready and labeled (at the bottom; not shown here). I am not hopeful about the zucchini but let’s see how it goes 🙂

I also got a recipe for cabbage pickle from mom; I do not think I did follow exactly as she said, but here it is:

  1. wash and dice the cabbage (I used half a head)
  2. peel and grate 5 – 6 garlic; mix with the cabbage
  3. add 1 table spoon of chili pepper and mix; I love my pickles hot but you can adjust it as you please
  4. place the mix in jars; fill 1/3 of the jars with vinegar (I used apple vinegar)
  5. in a bowl, mix 2 table spoon of salt, 1/2 table spoon of sugar, and water; mix well. I have a feeling that I needed more salt, but then I would not like too much of salt so I am not sure how this will go.
  6. add this mixture to the jar till it is filled. My mom recommended putting something on top as a “weight”, like a small plate or something, to keep the cabbages immersed in the liquid. I did not have anything that small so I could not, but if you have place it on top prior to closing the lit. Close the lit and set aside. My mom says they will be ready for consumption in a week 🙂
I am sure it will not taste like my mom's, but not bad for the first trial :)
I am sure it will not taste like my mom’s, but not bad for the first trial 🙂

I am so excited! Not bad for a girl who does not like to cook 🙂

I am determined to do whatever I can do eliminate food waste from my life – cannot wait to try others! 🙂

cheers

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: