Friday, March 29, 2019

Plastic. Trash. Waste. Sigh

So, as my kids get older my budget goes up.  As my values change, my budget goes up.  I know that I'd be able to keep my grocery bill super low if I shopped at the 99 cent store for produce.  But damn, everything there is wrapped in plastic.  Everything.  And what happens to the plastic?  Nothing.  It gets put into a landfill where it lives forever.  Or it ends up in the ocean.

I was happy to find TerraCycle, which recycles many many things.  But I recently found out that you need to have a recycling program with them.  And they are limited.  Fine, I figure - maybe I can just find a place that has a program with them, so that I can recycle those damned chip bags. 

But no.  There is no way to search for locations. This makes me sad.  I have two bags of these and no way to recycle.

There are things that I can do to reduce plastic waste.
- Buy my fruits and veggies loose, and use my own bags.  We are very good at this.
- Buy rice, grains, beans, chocolate, nuts, seeds, in the bulk bins.  Done
- Drink water from the tap.
- Buy condiments in glass.  Glass is infinitely recyclable.

But there are things that are just harder.  Not impossible, just harder.
- Meat.  I suppose I could buy it at the butcher and ask them to put it in my container.  We don't eat much meat.  I do buy canned chicken, and cans are at least recyclable.
- Bread.  For awhile last year I was baking bread.  But then my husband fessed up that he doesn't like this bread for sandwiches.  So now we are back to buying bread at Costco, and two loaves comes with THREE PLASTIC BAGS.  Ugh.  Same deal with gluten free bread, sigh.
- Cheese
- Milk (I can't bring myself to spend the $$ on the glass bottled milk, because dayam, my kids drink a lot of it.  I should think about switching to cartons, which are also recyclable).
- Snacks.  You can't get EVERYTHING in a bulk bin, though I wonder if I could just start buying tortilla chips fresh from a restaurant, and get them in a paper bag?

So we recently returned from spring break, and we did some things well, others not so much.
Good things:
1.  We stayed in a house.  We stopped at a grocery store and I brought my reusable produce bags.
2.  I brought my cheese from home!
3.  We brought water bottles, and bought ice cream in cartons.
4.  We ate lunch out one day at a real restaurant and use real silverware!
5.  I took our picnic basket with plates, cups, silverware, a wash cloth, towels to dry dishes, a small cutting board, a knife, some tupperware containers.
6.  We prepped quite a bit in the hotel for the last 2 days of the trip.  I learned how to make nachos in the microwave on part of a takeout pizza box.

Not good things:
1.  Eating out on road trips - first, there's the little plastic containers of ranch.  Sigh.  Then there's the stop at In N Out.  I didn't specify a drink.  So my spouse comes with water.  Fine, but I have water in the car.  In N Out gives you a plastic cup with a plastic lid and a plastic straw.  Geez.
2.  That real restaurant gave plastic and styrofoam takeout containers. 
3.  A lot of our prepped food was granola bars, and that's a lot of waste.
4.  Those little shampoos in the hotels.

I guess it's just a process.  Keep trying, it's all you can do!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

It's January! 2018 Grocery summary

Well, this poor old dusty blog of mine, eh?  There are things I want to write here, but with kids, running, just doesn't happen.

This past year, I set a grocery goal of $7800, or $150 a week.  This goal was a bit higher than 2017 of $7000.  My kids are growing, I'm getting busier, (we all are), and I wanted to "put my money where my mouth is" - so to speak - on buying local.

Well, we were doing "OK" this year, though I noticed by running average was around $151-152 for much of the year.  About 3 weeks before the end of the year, I did some math.  We had 3 more veggie boxes to be delivered (for $125).  The math told me that besides that, we had $232 left for 3 weeks.

So I decided to give it a shot. The best way for me to do that is to meal plan - so I created a google doc, and started filling it in.  I found a decent price on a very small ham for Christmas.  I found a sale on organic potatoes.  I planned some beans & rice curry dishes and lentil soups.  We (my big boy and I) ate some oatmeal.  I made homemade bread.  My spouse bought me some gluten free bread from a local bakery for a Christmas gift, which TOTALLY doesn't count against the budget.

Apparently I haven't lost my meal planning mojo, because I found myself with $50 left the morning of December 31.  So I did what any self-respecting meal planner would do, and I spent that on meat and treats - because I'm not rolling it over to next year.

In the end, I came in at $7789.01.  Almost $11 left for the year.

Below is a graph of my grocery budget since 2001, minus a few years when I was pregnant with #2 or had a baby/ toddler, and apparently didn't give a shit.

That spike in 2014 was when I was working super hard to lose that second baby weight.  I was successful!  A lot more protein that year.  2011-2013 are completely missing.

All in all, we aren't doing too badly.  Most of the increase in the last year has been due to produce - I get two boxes delivered each week, for a total of $65 a week.  That's more than a third of the budget.

Saturday, October 6, 2018


So, we have a new box.  There's a local CSA that decided to try and expand to schools.  So, they have partnered with several schools around town.  Families sign up.  The boxes are delivered once/ week and they are $25.  The school gets a $3 donation.  You can "add on" other things like extra fruits and veggies, bread, etc., and the school gets a cut of that too.

It's great!  If you remember, I get a box from the farmer's market on Saturdays (we switched to this when our CSA stopped being a CSA).  But I find that we run out of fruit and veg by Thursday.  Conveniently, box delivery is Wednesday. 

This is awesome!  And...this sucks.  The first few weeks I was plagued with sick family members and traveling husband.  Oh. My. God.  So much washing and chopping and cooking.  I'm trying to get into a good rhythm that isn't "just spend every waking moment not at work or helping kids with homework washing and prepping vegetables."

As an example, this is what we got this week:

Saturday box:
Apples - 1 lb
Oranges - 2 lb
Broccoli - 1 large bunch
Cherry tomatoes - 1 basket
Carrots - 1 bunch
Lettuce - 1 head
Radishes - 1 bunch
Baby mixed greens - 1 bag
Kale - one bunch
Plums - 1 lb (about 5)
Peppers, baby - 1 basket

Wednesday box:
Strawberries - 1 basket
Cantaloupe - 1
Celery - 1 bunch
Carrots - 1 bunch
Zucchini - 1.5 lb
Apples - 2
Cherry tomatoes - 1 basket
Broccolini - 1 bunch
Avocado - 1

It's Saturday again.
The hardest thing is the fruit.  My kids eat free lunch at school - we got 30-40 servings of fruit between the two boxes.  Not counting the bananas I buy.  It's WORK.  I'm eating 4 pieces a day and shoving it at everyone.

My lunch today was zucchini cashew soup and a gluten free bagel with 1/2 avocado and roasted cherry tomatoes with garlic.  Dinner is going to be a massive chicken stew (carrots, celery, onion, and probably potatoes from today's box, if it comes in time!)

On to the running.  I've run 2 half marathons this year. The next one is in two weeks.  It's my therapy with the fucking political climate right now.  It's healthier than wine, which I love but messes with my sleep.  My May 1/2 was a 2:28 something finish. My September half was 3:23 (this one is all uphill with a 4000 ft elevation gain, so it's not the same!)

My goal for this one?  Have fun, beat 2:28.  I'm going to try and line up with the 2:15 pacer, but that's a bit of a stretch goal.  My very first 1/2 ever was November 2009, and I finished in 2:17 something.  My all time PR was 2010 with 2:11:04.  Maybe I'll hit that someday?  I did break a 10:00 mile recently on a 10k, so yay me!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Crafty - type accomplishments

So.  Remember those 2017 goals?  Yeah, me neither.  One of them was related to making blankets though.  I found that sitting down with some crocheting is very relaxing.  I'm trying my best to figure out how to get better sleep.  Stress is an issue for me. I'm actually reading a book about sleep, and right now I'm in the chapter where he talks about how bad sleeping pills are.  Um...I think I'm in trouble.

Here's a little string of pictures of things that I've made in the last year or two.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


So, I have this new position (started in December) at work.  It means that several times a week (2-5), I end up working late with late night meetings/ phone calls.  This leaves spouse to pick up the kids and make dinner.

So...since I do the shopping, and his method of cooking is different, I've adjusted by... cooking up 2 big meals on the weekend.

Saturday's dinner feeds us Sat, Mon, Wed
Sunday's dinner feeds us Sun, Tue, Thu
Friday is frozen pizza night, and I just make grilled cheese on gluten free bread

I eat salad for lunch every day.
Hubs eats sandwiches or homemade burritos every day.

If we run out earlier, we have other emergency type foods - quesadillas, veggie burgers, curried lentils, grilled salmon, etc.

Our produce box runs out on Weds, so the rest of the week we eat frozen stir fry veg, and I go to Sprouts on Weds or Thurs and buy broccoli, cucumbers, and brussels sprouts.  Every. Single. Week.  I wander through all the produce and just stare...because it's my lunch break and I'm tired.

The kids are tired of eating the same two things every week.
I don't mind it so much.

But I'm running out of ideas of things to cook that will last a long time (aka, three full meals).

Here's what I've been making:
Vegetarian/ vegan:
- Lentil soup
- Mac and cheese
- Fried rice
- Curried lentils
- Beans and rice

With meat
- spaghetti and meatballs
- chicken soup
- chicken enchiladas
- chili

Each weekend I make one veg meal and one meat meal.'ll see that the list has 9 meals.  And every month I need at least 8 of them.  I'm kind of stumped.  I really should go back into this blog's 10 year history and come up with "other things" to make.  I kind of miss being able to make something for one or two nights only ... but I never know when there's going to be TIME mid-week!  Things like Thai curry, roasted curry cauliflower and potatoes...??  For sure, the gluten free thing has thrown a wrench into things.  And the not buying much  meat is another issue.

Plus, ya know, I'm tired!  It's hard to come up with things to make.  When I sit and relax and look at cookbooks, it's not during meal planning.  When I grocery shop, I haven't meal planned yet.  I might find something that looks good but I'm missing an ingredient or it's not on sale.  I hate defrosting meat so I'd rather not bother with that.  I have this awesome Instant Pot that I use for great vegan meals but I haven't figured out any meat meals.


Sunday, March 4, 2018

2018 Grocery budget

So last year, I squeaked it under the wire!  Goal of $7000, came in at $6997.16.

But what to do this year.  Increase it for sure.  These kids can EAT.  And, I'm focusing on reducing my use of plastic - meaning more bulk bins, less large bags - even though bulk bins are often more expensive per pound.

So I was thinking of inching it up a few hundred bucks.  But I think I have to go with $150 a week, or $7800.  That's a big jump, and we are already averaging $160 a week - so not sure how realistic.  Something to shoot for anyway.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

2017 Exercise Goals update

I've done the math.  Here's the good news bad news:

1. Run - Goal 300 miles - actual 390.54 miles, with a significant number of those being UP HILL.

2.  Bike - Goal 500 miles - actual 48.44 miles.  Even though the boys were in the same school, we couldn't get out butts in gear.  Spring = allergy season.  Summer = summer camps.  December = fires.  Very little biking, that's essentially 5 one way trips to work.  In a year.

3.  Swim - Goal 50 miles - actual 19.94 miles. I did a lot of running.  And had a lot of rest days because running supplanted my swim days.

4.  Walk - Goal 150 miles - actual 245.59 miles.  So, at least I walked if I didn't bike or swim!

5.  Weights/ yoga - Goal 1560 minutes - actual 894 minutes.  Ya know, I like sleeping in instead of firing up the TV in the morning with a workout.

6.  Hiking - no goal, wasn't on the list - Actual 17.7 miles.  Much of my running group in the fall was partly a hiking group (trails were too hard to run on).

So there you are.  Haven't set goals for 2018 yet.  Not sure if I will!