Why Chinese Takeout Will Be the Death of Me

I had a mini-food-tantrum when I got home from choir.  It used to be a lot worse…food is the bane of my existence, seriously.  Before I was medicated, I would get really upset when I didn’t feel like there was anything good in the house and have a meltdown.  Crazy, eh?  I still have them every now and then, but they’re much milder.

Anyway, after a GREAT choir rehearsal, I got home and….nothing looked good.  Joey offered to get me something, so I sent him out for Chinese takeout.  I realized about five minutes ago that there’s leftover baked ziti in the freezer which would have been perfect:(.  I could have saved money.  Bleh.  At least our grocery bill for the week was only $36, so I’m not really kicking us out of our budget.

This is turning out to be the longest week. 



In Which Tofu Skyrockets Me Over My Grocery Budget…

Ok, not really.  We went over by 26 cents this week.  It’ll end up being about four bucks total because I forgot to add Jambalaya rice mix and FF Italian dressing to the list, despite the fact that I’m using BOTH of them tomorrow and just made the grocery list today.

I did my once-monthly Trader Joe’s run today…got two blocks of extra firm tofu, chipotle hummus, roasted garlic hummus, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, unsweetened vanilla rice milk, and four spring onion noodle soup bowls (my favorite processed meal).  Just over fourteen bucks.

This week’s menu plan is pretty simple:

  • Monday:  spiralized zuchinni “spaghetti” and homemade marinara sauce
  • Tuesday:  Vegetable jambalaya (we’re having friends over, and what better way to welcome them into our home than to burn their butts off in a flame of firey gas!!)
  • Wednesday:  Scrounge night
  • Thursday:  Chili.  I was dismayed this morning when I went to the freezer for some chili, to find that we didn’t have any.  I hadn’t made any since Christmas Day, but somehow, we always seem to have a neverending stash of chili in the freezer.  This must be remedied post haste.
  • Friday:  dinner with Joey’s parents
  • Saturday:  veggie fajitas
  • Sunday:  TBD

Since Sunday is the big V-day, and we’re having a friend over, I’m still thinking about how to glam the night up for her.  Joey and I are pretty nontraditional when it comes to holidays…we don’t do the big V-day thing…I just think it’s stupid to wait for two hours to get a seat at a restaurant when we could just go out the next weekend and not have to deal with the masses.  Joey concurs, so we’re having our friend Katie over for some (TBD) good food and fun!

I actually folded laundry tonight.  After a most excellent workout, spiralizing zuchinni, making marinara sauce, and showering.  Totally productive evening!

I leave you with a precious-Kins-shot:

Food Budget/Meal Planning Update

Food Budget Update:  Thus far, we’ve been under $50 each week for groceries…success!  We’re at $50 for takeout this month; we bought our friend Cory’s dinner last night, which put us at $20.  I’m not planning takeout for the next week because my tummy has been upset today…I’m gun-shy now;).

Meal Planning Update:  This week wasn’t so good for the meal planning stuff.  I picked a couple of items that weren’t wins and then had a night or two where I didn’t feel like what I’d planned.  I think that flexibility is a good thing, but I don’t want to be too much into doing that, so I tried to make this week a little more exciting:

Meal Plan, 1/25-1/31

  • Monday:  Tofu stir-fry (served over eith brown rice or rice noodles)
  • Tuesday:  Roasted Root veggies and brussels sprouts (carrots, onions, potatoes)
  • Wednesday:  Scrounge Night
  • Thursday:  Spiralized Zuchinni with Marinara sauce
  • Friday:  Brown Rice Veggie Burgers
  • Saturday:  Cream of Broccoli Soup
  • Sunday:  Linguine with garlic cream sauce

Tomorrow night, I’m making sweet potato gnocchi.  I forgot to buy spaghetti last week and I have a bag of sweet potatoes just begging to be made into gnocchi for the playoffs!!

The Haze of Burning Sweet Potatoes

They smell freaking terrible:(.  I decided tonight that the Mexican Pizzas didn’t sound all that good and Joey observed that we were a little low on cheese anyway, so I decided that I just wanted some oven-roasted sweet potato chunks.  Joey agreed to make them while I was finishing up a reading assignment and I told him to roast them on about 475*.  I didn’t realize that he was going to dice them so small, so when I finished my book, I asked him if he thought they were ready, and they were tiny, black, charred nuggets:(.  There were a few salvageable ones, but I put them in the fridge and the narsty burnt-sweet potato smell turned me off on that dinner choice.  So…eh….I sent Joey to Taco Bell for a salad for me (Fiesta salad, no meat, guac added).  It came out to $7.  This brings us to $30 in takeout total in January.  I was disappointed in myself for wanting takeout, but when I looked at the total, we’re really right on schedule!

Monday night’s Corn Chowder was INCREDIBLE!!

Here’s the recipe.  I didn’t adjust too much; I did use cornstarch instead of flour as the thickening agent.  Unless you’re making a roux, I don’t know that just chucking flour into a pot of soup is a good idea, and I didn’t want to use butter and whatnot.  The cornstarch worked just fine!

Tuesday night was spicy baked potatoes (again) which Joey made, and last night, we hit the leftovers.  We also made it to the gym on Monday and Tuesday (we planned to go tonight, but it was monsooning outside and we just decided to stay in).

School is kicking my tail a little.  I read a novel on Tuesday and another one Wednesday.  We also had a half-day of corporate training today, about excellent customer service.  Good info, but a long time away from my desk, which left me in a panic the rest of the day trying to get caught up.

Knitting news:  I’m working on a bell-sleeved shrug.  I haven’t had time to knit on it since last weekend.  I want to be able to knit some more on it soon.  I’d like to be able to wear something that I make.

Weekly Menu Plan and Budget Update

On this beautiful MLK day, we finished our grocery shopping after a good, hard workout at the gym!  We came in just under the wire at $49.  I was a little worried that we weren’t going to make it, but we managed!  About $30 of the groceries were from Aldi with the other $19 being from Wally World.

Takeout confessions:  Saturday night, I had an incredible hankering for Taco Bell, and Joey went and got dinner for us.  It only ran us $8, so I don’t feel bad about that at all.  I got a salad with no meat.  They gave us cinnamon twists for free:).  Today, we had lunch at Chipotle, which ran us $14.68.  I wasn’t thrilled with the price, I’ll be honest.  Qdoba is much more affordable and has more options, so I’m not seeing a lot of Chipotle in our future, but we’d been wanting to try it and we like to do special things like meals out when I have a day off.

Here’s our Menu Plan for this week:

  • Monday:  Corn Chowder
  • Tuesday:  Spicy Baked Potatoes
  • Wednesday:  Leftovers/Scrounge night
  • Thursday:  Mini Mexican Pizzas
  • Friday:  Possibly Takeout…if not, I’ll improvise something
  • Saturday:  Tofu “lo mein” with the rice noodles we bought
  • Sunday:  Spaghetti with marinara sauce + breadsticks + salad

When I planneed the takeout night, we hadn’t gotten any takeout at all in January, so I may decide that we should do something here rather than get takeout, but, since we were so far under budget on our Taco Bell takeout, I won’t be really upset with myself if we do.

And, for your viewing pleasure, I give you Shelli in a snuggie/Vellux sandwich:

Grocery Budget Win, Dinner Win, Fitness Win

Ah…I finally had a day where I wasn’t super-overwhelmed by school and work and home and just everything.  Once I got my discussion posts done for yesterday, I was feeling pretty good, but now that I’m done with my one for my Asian American Lit class too, tonight’s gonna be a good night!!

Despite my misjudgment of the cheese situation, we still came in at under $45 for the week in groceries.  I’m really happy about this; this’ll be the second full week that we will have eaten all of our meals at home and avoided takeout.  We’ve had a couple of shifts this week as far as the menu plan went, but I’m doing my best not to get all perfectionist-paranoid on myself and to remember that it’s just a blueprint and that the important part is that we’re cooking and that we’re eating better.

I made falafel again tonight and made a few changes; I used cornmeal instead of the flour and I added two very big cloves of garlic.  It was still pretty good.  And here’s a food pic for you:

Yeah, I know…it looks kind of weird and gross.  It’s a Pumpkin Pancake!  After we did Brinner on Sunday night, I started thinking about how much healthier it would be to use something like solid-pack pumpkin in place of the liquid with the pancake mix.  So, the next morning, I took about 1/2 cup pancake mix, 1/2 cup solid pack pumpkin and a little sweetener (and just a splash of water) and made some very thick batter.  I had to actually smoosh the pancake out on the griddle  so it’d be thin enough to cook.  I added a little sugar-free maple syrup and Da-yam was this good!  I’ve done it twice this week and I’ll probably do it again tomorrow since I have a little pumpkin left to use.  Next, I’m going to try it with some of the frozen b-nut squash that I cooked back during my kidney stone debacle.

And my final triumph for the night?  We finally got back to the gym!  I almost punked out at the last minute, but Joey told me that, since I was already dressed and had tied my shoes (and was about a foot from the door), it was too late to back out.  I was glad that we went; I did the Random Hill program on the recumbent bike for about half an hour (set at Level 8…my calves are dying).  We also ran into two friends whom we hadn’t seen in a while!  We won’t go tomorrow because Katie’s coming over, but we’ll definitely head back Saturday.

That’s all I’ve got today, peeps.  It was a pretty decent day!  I’m always thrilled for those, especially since they’re happening more frequently these days.

When Did Napping Become So Fun? And a Milestone in my Depression/Anxiety Journey

It goes without saying that Shelli thinks naps are awesome.  She’s a cat, so she spends somewhere between eighteen and twenty hours doing it.  And, since we keep it so cold in the house to save heating costs, she’s practically hibernating anyway.  But, to be honest, I’ve never been very big on naps.  I used to take them every now and then when I was in high school after I got home from school.  Until the past few years, though, Joey would be the napper and I’d stay up and watch tv or read or surf the web.  There’s so much going on these days, though, that I’m really starting to appreciate the joy of the nap…today, I slept for two hours and was so groggy when I woke up.  I hate being groggy in the afternoon, though.

I need to plan our menu for this week so we can go grocery shopping tomorrow.  While I didn’t stick totally to the plan for this week, we have had all of our meals at home and haven’t eaten out or strayed from the budget.  Our final grocery total for the week:  $49.00!  We were at $47, but we might have a guest for dinner tonight and needed to get him a potato.  I’ve done three new recipes this week also(Falafel, whole wheat pizza crust (with no yeast) and spicy baked potatoes).  Building your recipe repertoire is an excellent way to keep yourself from falling into the takeout trap.  Who needs to spend twenty bucks on dinner when you can whip up something pretty tasty in just a few minutes on your own?

Meal planning has also helped me to eat better this week, which will pay off for my weight loss goal.  Rather than hoping that the restaurant didn’t cook the food in tons of oil and knowing that they covered it in a greasy sauce, I know exactly what we put in the food.  And, I’m looking for ways to sneak veggies into everything I make.  My big success this week has been adding tomatoes to my omelets in the morning.  Sprinkle a little parm in there too and add hot sauce and it’s got a good buffalo flavor!

Yesterday was a pretty awesome milestone for me; a year and a half after I began treatment for my depression/anxiety disorder, I was finally able to go see my psychiatrist and tell him that I’m doing great and that I finally feel like I’m at a point where it’s manageable.  He was thrilled and really made me feel like I’d accomplished something huge, which I guess if I really think about it, I have.  So many people either never seek treatment or never follow through with it because it’s hard.  Depression/Anxiety is such a difficult thing to understand…you hate it and wonder why other people are able to cope with life, but it’s also what you are used to; it’s comfortable.  You desperately want to escape from the dwelling, fear, constant replaying of things in your mind, the repetitive negative and fearful thoughts, the hopelessness and worthlessness, but you also worry that, if you seek help, someone’s going to think you’re “crazy.”  You think that you may be blowing things up in your own mind and that everyone goes through this.  You’re afraid that, if you seek help and it starts to work, that it may stop and you can’t live with going back.

It took me years and years and years to finally admit that I probably had a problem that other people don’t have and that I needed to get help for it.  I had gotten to the point where I was asking him whether he thought I had cancer about every five minutes.  Because I work in life insurance, I didn’t want to go to the doctor because I know how much having tons of testing done can screw up your insurance rates (as though I was actually planning to apply any time soon).  I was paralyzed by the fear that every pain or little problem I was having surely must be terminal cancer…I had even gotten to the point that, when trying to make decisions, I would think to myself that it didn’t really matter because I wouldn’t be around to face whatever consequences there were.  And it wouldn’t stop.

The past year and a half have been a tough journey…the meds helped, and then the help would wane.  Once my anxiety was under control, my depression started to get a little out of hand.  But here I am, nineteen months later, at a point where I’m able to cope with the world.  Not only am I free of the constant fear that I have cancer, I also care enough to try to make changes to help prevent preventable illnesses.  I don’t leave a party or a night with friends thinking that I must have said something ridiculous and that they’ll never like me.  I don’t have days of diahrreah before I sing in front of lots of people.  I’m relaxed.  I care less about what people think of me.  I’m brave enough to do things that would have scared me before (firearms training and tattoos).  I finally feel like I’m relatively “normal.” 

I still cry and cry over cruelty to animals, over injustice to people.  I still worry about my parents (although not to a crippling level anymore).  I still get down over stupid things.  But it doesn’t control my life anymore.  So, if you read this and you’re struggling with depression or anxiety:  GET HELP.  NOW.  Don’t think it over.  Find a good psychiatrist.  If you’re a Christian and you’re afraid, don’t be.  My psychiatrist shares my religious beliefs and would never blame my faith for any problems.  Don’t leave yourself at the mercy of well-meaning “Church” people who tell you to pray about it or to trust Jesus more.  That’s a load of bull.  These problems don’t have to do with your faith.  They are PHYSICAL problems that have MENTAL/EMOTIONAL symptoms.  You’re not a bad Christian if you have to have medication to help with that.  And if someone tells you that, then they’re not being a very good Christian.

When I got to the point where I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of having to spend the next sixty years of my life feeling this way, I realized that it was time for action.  Don’t wait that long.  You’re worth more than that.

Ok, enough of that….time to get to the potatoes:).  Have a good night!!