Posts tagged ‘budget’

September 8, 2011

I’m a Prep

I’m a total prepster.  I’m not saying this because I adore cardigans, cable-knit sweaters, and Lily Pulitzer dresses.

Cleo got in the way of my cable!

but I forgave her

I’m not even saying I’m a prep because I’m obsessed with all things nautical, think retrievers are the best dogs on Earth, and not-so-secretly idolize Martha Stewart.

His & Hers Sperry

Nope. I’m a prepster (prep-star?) because I prep everying!  I’m mainly into prepping lunch, and y’all know I’m the queen of leftovers.  Just check out my “veggie bowls” for examples.

I may not do it weekly, but on a regular basis, I make a big pot-o-goodies on Sunday with the sole intention of eating it for lunch all week at work.  I am motivated to do this because pre-packed lunches take less of my time in the morning, and they usually tastes pretty darn good.

Big Quinoa Bowl

Lean Cuisine and other frozen entrees aren’t expensive, but if cost is your thing, this is definitely cheaper This is also a great way to eat more natural foods.  Prepping lunch for the entire week is also waaaaay cheaper than eating out at a restaurant.  (All this obviously depends on your ingredients, but you get the idea.)

Divide & Conquer

Making your own Healthy Choice or Smart Ones-style meal probably tastes better too.  You can add whatever you want.  I happen to love quinoa and radishes.  You don’t usually see those in the frozen section!

I have to admit, sometimes you can flop… like I did Monday.  My dish is good, but it was supposed to have edamame that I forgot to add.  It was also supposed to have a wonderful kale puree.

the kale was pretty enough to put in a vase

Yeah, that didn’t turn out for me.  The bowl is actually really good without it though.  Just throw on a TBS of soy sauce, and you’re good to go!  This week’s bowl has a wee bit of kale, sweet white corn, zucchini, radishes, quinoa, 2 TBS balsamic dressing, and canned tuna (packed in water).  Yum!

Do you prep your food for the week, or do you make everything fresh to order? Or do you let Healthy Choice or nearby restaurants do the cooking (and cleaning!) for you?

PS: Last night’s book club was lovely!  We all met at a frozen yogurt shop, and you can read more about it on Caitlin’s post.

Frozen Yogurt with the Girls!

August 9, 2011

Tuscan Tomato Rice Bowl

It has been a loooong time since I’ve shared a recipe, or at least it feels that way.  When Trader Joe’s didn’t have what I needed to make a lentil curry dish for lunch this week, I was forced to go against the list.

Regular readers probably know that I’m a stickler to my store list.  My handy-dandy list limits impulse buys, ensures I remember (most) things, and keeps me from wandering around like a lost and very confused child.  Yes, the list is a must, so you can imagine how devastating it can be when my little TJ’s is missing 3 of the 5 ingredients I need for a recipe.

I improvised.  TJ’s – 1, Tiff – 0.  But my improvisations helped me make something awesome.  TJ’s – 1, Tiff – 1.  It’s a tie; I’ll leave it at that.

rice bowl of yum

Tuscan Tomato Rice Bowl

the yums


  • 5 servings of brown rice
  • 3 cups low-sodium veggie broth (best if it’s got a fair amount of tomato in it)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • small handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, chunked/diced/whatev
  • 1/2 cup fresh, thinly sliced basil
  • 1 bag fresh spinach (looking back, I think I’d buy a frozen box of it next time)
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 oz sliced, sun dried tomatoes NOT in oil (I used 5/6 the full 3 oz.  I ate 1/6 in a sandwich.  Recommended!)


  1. Cook rice according to package directions in broth.  Meanwhile, prepare other ingredients.
  2. Heat oil in pan.  Add onion and saute until soft.
  3. When rice as 10 minutes remaining, gradually fold or stir in spinach.  It will wilt and cook down significantly.
  4. To onions, add fresh tomatoes and basil.  Cook and stir 3 minutes or so, then remove from heat.
  5. When rice is done cooking and needs to rest, stir in any remaining spinach, chickpeas, and sun dried tomatoes.  Then stir in the onion, basil, and tomato mixture.  Let all ingredients cool slightly.  Serve into 5 containers for a week of awesome lunches.
ready 2 go

This comes to approximately 310 calories per serving if you divide it into 5 servings.  It really depends on which ingredients you choose, but that’s about what mine equaled.

Note 1: I would have loved to have added a little more fresh spinach and some toasted pine nuts.  However, I cook on a budget.  I also cook simple meals.  I think you all will appreciate both aspects.  If not, go buy yourself some pine nuts.  I bet they’re lovely.

Note 2: I would have also loved to add feta cheese.  That’s no surprise.  I’m also keeping an eye on calories, and I think many of you will appreciate that as well.  If not, go buy yourself some feta.  I bet it’s lovely.

By the way… I named this “Tuscan” because of this funny “news” article from The Onion:

Area Woman Will Eat Anything With ‘Tuscan’ In Name

MARCH 2, 2009 | ISSUE 45-10

JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP, NJ—Veterinary assistant Lauren Millardi, 27, will eat any dish prefaced with the word “Tuscan,” sources reported Monday. “Tuscan shrimp, Tuscan garlic chicken, it doesn’t matter,” said Millardi’s boyfriend, Tim Vernacini. “I’m not really sure if she even knows what makes food Tuscan, but there’s something about that region-specific culinary modifier that she finds inordinately appetizing.” Vernacini added that Millardi likely would have loved the 2003 movie Under The Tuscan Sun had it not failed to meet her strict film criterion of having taken place between the years of 1743 and 1919.

This dish would actually be much more “Tuscan” if it included white beans and orzo instead of chickpeas and rice.  Close enough though, right?

July 18, 2011

I need another weekend…

This weekend wore me the heck out!  I’m tired.  I need coffee.  Okay, work coffee is bad.  I actually need chia tea.  Despite working really hard on the house yesterday (and not even finishing), I still got up and hit the gym bright and early this morning.  I bonded with the stair climber and worked on my arms, per my July workout.

Friday was fun.  Projects are always fun when you first start them… and when you add champagne and a good dinner at home.

Saturday was moderately productive as well – except for that trip out to the lake.

Sunday was hard!  I’ll spare you the complaining and will share dinner details instead.  I used the guardian angel of dinner (crock-pot) to cook dinner while I sanded and painted cabinets. 

Slow n’ Simple Salsa Chicken

I put a bell pepper, two jalapenos, half a tomato, and half an onion in the bottom.  I wish I had added corn and used an entire onion, or just two bell peppers.  I like veggies; what can I say?


Then I topped that with skin-on, bone-in (aka: more flavorful) chicken thighs.  Add 3/4 jar of salsa.  I used a yummy roasted-style of salsa with a good smokey flavor, but any would work.  Cook on high for 4-4.5 hours.


This produced a lot of liquid, so you will need a slotted spoon.  Take out your chicken thighs, and remove skins, bones, and extra fat.  Discard.  Use two forks to pull apart your chicken.  Place chicken on tortilla (or on rice or a salad – I think it’d be terrific on salad).  Fish out your veggies and place them on top of your pulled chicken.  flatout

Add more salsa, lettuce, or other toppings as desired.  (Cheese is recommended though I skipped it.)  I used the leftover shredded lettuce to make a black bean n’ salsa side salad.  This was a simple, yummy, very affordable dinner – just my style!


I might have also had two servings of strawberry cheesecake ice cream after painting…

ice cream

How was your weekend?  Do you ever need a break after your weekend?

May 7, 2011

Naked Chicken Fajitas

After going out for the beer dinner on Wednesday and the Cinco de Mayo festivities on Thursday, Kev and I decided to lay low Friday.  I was pretty drained anyway, so that was fine by me.  Plus, the Black Swan DVD I requested from Netflix was at home waiting on me when I returned from work.  I was really impressed by Natalie Portman, but the movie was a bit too disturbing for me.  Luckily, last night I slept nightmare free!

Before starting the movie, I made a yummy, healthy dinner that I like to call, Naked Chicken Fajitas.  First, you assemble ingredients (listed below) atop heavy duty aluminum foil, with chicken on the bottom.  Get everything ready while the oven is pre-heating to 375 degrees F and your desired amount of rice is cooking on the stove.


Fold up the sides around the chicken, and crimp edges to seal.  Be sure to leave one hole for steam to escape and enough room around the chicken and fixins’ to allow steam to circulate.

Bake chicken and veggies for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees F.  Be sure to cut into it before serving to make sure it is fully cooked.  Also, I drain the juices before plopping the packet down on my rice.  I was going to be good and avoid the cheese, but when I saw Kevin smothered his in cheese, I knew I had to top mine too!  I used about 1/3 cup of 2% shredded cheddar.  Mmmmm…. cheeeeeese!

Get in mah' bellay


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 bell pepper, cut in strips
  • 1/3 yellow onion, cut in strips
  • 1/2 cups salsa (I used pico this time instead)
  •  2 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 TBS cumin
  • 1/3 water or chicken broth (I used broth, though it’s not pictured)
  • 2 dried chili peppers on top (optional)

Divide all ingredients evenly between packets, and bake. Oh… and feel free to add cheese when it’s all done!

Does kitty want to come tooooo???

Now that it’s morning, it’s time for my 4-mile run. I have all my favorite running things ready (Garmin GPS Watch, Mizuno shoes, North Face Socks, Larabar, Tervis Tumbler), so it’s time to hit the road! Thanks for reading!

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