Wednesday, January 25, 2012

'Opa' chicken and squash

Saturday is the day I start to make the week's meals, but after spending 3hrs on making 2 batches of my 10-2cup serving chili I was WORN out.

So I wanted an easy meal with little prep time. I took a moment to take stock of what I had and would go well together. I got an idea!
All I needed was:
  1. chicken
  2. evoo
  3. Wildtree Opa Greek Seasoning
  4. salt
  5. 3 yellow squash
  6. finely grated Parmesan
I pulled out the 4 lg boneless, skinless chicken breast I had and pan fried them in evoo and Wildtree's Opa Greek seasoning. While that was happening I sliced up the squash and put them 3-layer deep in a square Pampered Chef stone baker and between each layer sprinkling the same seasoning. At the top layer I sprinkled the parm liberally and then drizzled evoo also rather liberally. I cooked it in the oven for about 20 minutes. About that time the VERY thick chicken breasts were finally finished. I cut them into large slices and layered them on top.

The family has been very happy with this dish with it's simplicity and very obvious ingredients. :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cheese crisps

So I was looking up a recipe for something crunchy I could eat w/ the chili I made. I remembered vaguely that there was a recipe for a cheese straw/crisp out there.

And so I found several how-to's online. They all pretty much said to get shredded cheese (your choice-though soft whites don't do well) and to make them either:
  1. in the oven @ 350
  2. in the microwave for a minute 3o sec
  3. or on the stovetop
I chose to try it #2 and #3 with sharp cheddar bought pre-shredded. I also added a PINCH of Wildtree's ADOBE Seasonsing for added flavor.

I felt that the microwave produced better results and more consistent results. They were definitely tasty, though not as crunchy as I was having a craving for.

So I'm going to experiment with some hard white cheese and see what happens.

Beanless Beef Chilli with 'invisible' veggies

For the 10 servings of 2 cups, I used:
3lbs of ground beef
2 white onions
1 green bell pepper
4 pkgs of button mushrooms
5 cups of squash and zucchini
1/2 cup or more of minced garlic
2 jars of basic medium salsa (no sugar)
6 cans of tomatoes in a various forms (all no sugar, 2 had green chilis)
1/4 cup (or more) of cumin
(I forgot the carrots)
How I made it:
I browned the meat with salt and pepper.
I softened the onions and bell pepper (in a skillet).
I used the food processer to make the veggies disappear. I added garlic and the beef grease to give them flavor.
I put all the ingredients into a large pot and cooked for about an hour on medium heat. (I was making another batch for the family)
Then I divy'ed it up into my 3 pot crock pot system and let it cook overnight until about noon.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Eating & Exercising Journal since 1/12/12

Today I wasn't hungry, just tired and thirsty. I took a 3-3.5 hr nap.
Br-strawberry/banana coconut smoothie (8oz)
Lun- 2oz cheese, 3 sausge balls
Din- 2 steaks (sorry, but that's all I wanted and could think about)

I was recovering from having a party for a bunch of 16yr olds (for Jonah who recently turned 16). I had cooked much of the evening before and just tried to keep mayhem from occurring in the house. I am proud to say that I didn't cheat, in fact, had no desire to.
Br-banana and recovery shake
Lun- 2 eggs, 2 strips of bacon
Din-spinach salad w/ walnuts, dried, unsweetened pineapple, 2 figs, and 2oz cheese and my vinagrette I made
EX- WOD Rx'd it just under 13 min...not my best but consider the dizziness I dealing w/... not to bad.

2-hr delays @ school I love but HATE b/c it messes up our schedules... I had every intention of going to the 6am workout but that flew out the window w/ the delay. I had a SUPER busy afternoon doing last minute preps for jonah's bday party.
BR- turkey/apple hash from meal swap
LU- Shepard's pie (from meal swap)
DIN- 4 tostones fried in lard and guac
snack- more tostones

Busy day cleaning and getting ready for Jonah's party. Had a good workout, beating my supposed 1rep max in deads... was psyched about that and finding out I had lost 10 lbs since the start of the challenge!
BR-egg muffin
LU- collards and pork (from swap)
DIN-Chicken and mushroom stew

Grocery Bill

So I've kept all my receipts since the Challenge began and have spent about $450 since the 1st. That's what I generally spend in a month. :( That's got me freaking out a bit.

I will say that we've been eating all 3 meals (and snacks) from what I've purchased.

I honestly only have another $150 at most from the budget to last til the end of the month.

I know that in reality feeding a family of 5 all their meals and snacks for $600 is decent, a bargain even, but for us, that's basically one of our take home paychecks....

So, I'm trying to figure out the best way to stretch what I've bought (since the 1st and through today) and only supplement with a few things til the end of the month.

What I tend to do is double what we eat for supper to cover our lunches (except Em's b/c she can't microwave). I add to their lunch fresh fruit, nuts/seeds, and maybe carrots/broc. They all drink h20. I also keep apples, tangerines and tangelos for snacks after dinner.

I try to have 10 bananas and enough milk for banana smoothies (that's all they like, unless I add stevia or sugar w/ strawberries) for the girls and at least a dz eggs and more bananas for Jonah @ breakfast for the week. Matt just likes grapefruit.

*I was blessed last week to eat from my stores of pre-made meals from the Meal swap Crossfit Brigade hosted last Sunday.

What do I have currently stocked in my fridge/freezer?
Protein- I currently have enough meat for the next 7-10 days:
6+lbs of hamburger,
2pkgs of bacon, (no sugar)
5 pkgs of sausage, (no you know HOW HARD it is to find this???? Bob Evans)
3 dz eggs,
1 bag of IQF (frozen) salmon,
2 bags of IQF tilapia,
2 bags of frozen chicken breasts,
1 chuck roast,
and 2 other roasts.
3-bunches of bananas (1 is from dehydrating, 1 for smoothies, 1 for lunch)
2 -mini boxes of blueberries (lunch)
2-pints of strawberries (lunch)
1/2 bag left of frozen strawberries
1 bag of frozen mixed fruit-
4 bags of McIntosh apples ( my ABSOLUTE favorite in THE WORLD- and @ ALDI currently)
1 dz tangelos
1/2 dz grapefruit
1/2 dz tangerines
1 box of raisins, prunes, dates
4-pkgs of mushrooms
1- bag of carrots
1- bag baby carrots
2-spaghetti squash
1-acorn squash
2-bags of white onions
2- green bell peppers
3- yellow, red bell peppers
2 lbs of sweet potatoes
2 heads of cauliflower
4 small heads of broccoli
1 small cabbage
4-6 bags of frozen veggies
unlimited supply of collards (in garden)

I primarily shop @ Aldi for ALL our fruit/veggie, milk, and egg needs. I spent $64 today and get more than 1/2 of the fruits/veggies listed. Last week I spent $184 and got the other fruits/veggies, fish, and the chicken and fruit/veggies we ate this week.

Last week (Jan 6th) I bought 3 roasts, walnut oil, avocado oil, and sunflower oil (and 2 nice Spanish cheeses) @ Greenlife for $115.

In the last 2 weeks, I've spent about $150 @ BiLo getting the hamburger meat, the frozen chicken, eggs, some fruit and some veggies that Aldi didn't carry.

After reading through my list, I think I've definitely enough meat to last til next Sunday. I also have enough veggies. My fruit I may have to augment since bananas are a hot commodity at this house as are tangerines.

If there's anyone w/ a suggestion on how to improve this bill, let me know...I'm open for suggestions. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Exercise Journal update

I've been mentally blogging this, so you all should know what I've done, right? Wrong. I am so much in my head, that I often forget what I actually say, do, or share.

If you have ADHD, you understand my plight. My mind is constantly thinking, and generally with more than one strand going at once.... like what I'm considering, planning, preparing for, etc... in the next few moments to the next few years. I can and will overwhelm you if I relax my filter b/c I will jump around topics, start mid thought, lose my thought process, forget key words, etc...

Anyways, back to my exercise blog.

I will start with today.
Day 10- Crossfit WOD, CB
Day 9- none (I won't count the long treks all over the school multiple times, nor the 2hr cooking frenzy last night)
Day 8- Crossfit WOD
Day 7- none (too busy cooking...6hrs!)
Day 6-Walk
Day 5- Moved furniture and boxes...1hr+
Day 4- CB
Day 3-Crossfit WOD
Day 2-Crossfit WOD
Day 1- Crossfit WOD, CB

My dietary diary....

is blank b/c I've been SO busy planning for an VERY unexpected twist in my job duties. Not that I'm complaining b/c I love the new subject matter, but it is so out of my comfort zone, I'm on level 10 almost ALL day and am mentally exhausted by the time I get to sit down (after 9:30pm).

I will assure anyone that's actually reading that I've not 'cheated' or gone off the challenge regulations. I have made it a point to eat 3 solid meals a day and atleast 2 snacks.

I will say that I am failing MISERABLY at getting my quota of h20 intake. I've only managed 32oz the last 4 days...which explains much of my dizziness and low blood pressure. But there's not much I can do about it other than forcing myself to drink what is there by a certain time. I've learned that I need a deadline in order to complete things...yes, I am a procrastinator.

Since I can't drink 1/2 hour before or after eating, nor can I drink more than 6oz @ one sitting, that limits when I can drink and how much I can consume at once. (Gone are the days of drinking my h20 allotment w/ Mason jars...all at once 2-3x a day. :) I KNOW I'm not the only person who did that. )
Also subtract about 45 min for every hour (from 7-4) while I'm at work b/c I'm walkin around and talking, coaching (still talking), mentoring students (and even more talking). I don't think about my h20 bottle in plain sight on my desk.

I determined last night, as I was planning for today, to drink my required h20 allotment while @ work (completed no later than workout). In order to do so, I have to have 2 bottles, one while @ my morning school and the other at my afternoon school. I need this visual reminder of what I have to accomplish.
So we will see how that goes. I still have 8oz left and need to head to my 2nd school. But in my defense, I did just eat one of the yummy egg muffins from the CrossFit Meal Swap.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Coconut Curry Chicken dinner, Spaghetti lunch, and Pot Roast dinner

So Sunday was BUSY!!!
I literally cooked for 6hrs! Granted 4 of those hours were for the meal swap we @ Crossfit Brigade had to help jump start our challenge.

Spaghetti with a bolognese sauce and julienned veggies
Anyways, my cooking spree began with lunch right after church. I wanted something quick-ish, so I decided to do spaghetti...with a twist. My daughter set out browning the 4+lbs of hamburger meat (w/ garlic, salt, and pepper) for the bolognese sauce (for us southerners, spaghetti sauce w/ meat). I set out to julienne a squash and zucchini to go along with the carrots.

Why julienned veggies? Well, I figured it would be a healthy substitute to the noodles that are currently a 'banned' substance in the household. Oh there were complaints as I was julienning (sp?) the veggies but once everything was put together, everyone ate their food WITHOUT complaint. I will say that I didn't cook the julienned veggies since they are so thin and rather tender. It was kinda like eating al dente noodles.

Back to the sauce. We had 2 choices for the bolognese sauce since I split the meat into 2 pots. Cherith used for her sauce, the Earthfare Tomato and Basil Sauce we had purchased (b/c there was a tasting- that sales trick never fails!) and I made my own from 3 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 tomato paste, 1 onion, garlic, and WILDTREE perfect pizza blend. (was in a hurry and knew this blend tasted good)

There was enough left overs for the kids to take a portion to school and 2 additional portions.

Coconut Curry Chicken
That night, after the Crossfit meal swap, I got home to a RAVENOUS family. I thought surely they would've eaten leftovers...but no, they did not. They did do some chores however. :)

So I opened the fridge and started thinking what I wanted to eat and was in the mood for and thought...didn't Michelle from the gym make a curry dish? That's right, she did and I've got all the ingredients!! Su-WEET!! :)

I pulled out the 3 large chicken breasts (about 2lbs), cilantro, can of coconut milk, coconut oil, medium onion, garlic, and the prepared veggies (2 cups each of diced carrots, mushrooms, bell pepper, cabbage).
The chicken was cubed and browned with the onions, garlic, and coconut oil.
I then added the veggies for a few minutes before adding the can of coconut milk. At this point I added WILDTREE Thai Red Curry Paste to the mix (about 1/2 a jar). -I was out of my other mild curry blends.
Once it cooked down for about 7 minutes, I took it off the heat and added the diced cabbage and topped it with fresh cilantro leaves. There was plenty for all 5 of us and enough for me to eat for BOTH breakfast AND lunch yesterday @ work. (I forgot the yummy breakfast portions from the meal swap, darn it all!)

Pot Roast
Right before bed, I was talking to Matt and trying to out what would be the best meal for tomorrow(Monday). After making 24 servings form the meal swap and 2 full meals for the family, I was done with cooking AND I think he was done with me making a sink full of dishes and being my Sous chef but hadn't prepared for the next day.. :)

So we decided to use the beef we bought @ Greenlife during their 3-day sale. It was for a good price (comparable to BiLo or Walmart), so we bought 3 -4lb portions. I was excited b/c we got to finally use my new crockpot (that locks) that my in-laws gifted me for XMAS. Matt got the recipe and agreed to start it up before he left for work.

Monday rolled around and the game changed... Cherith had a physical therapy appt late so my workout time moved to 5:30 and had us getting home around 6:45. (Boo hiss)

Matt didn't add any veggies to the roast, so I popped 5 small (4-6 in long and 3-4 in diameter) sweet potatoes into the microwave and got the asparagus out.

We sat down about 20 minutes later and ate the food in shifts. (The girls wanted bowls for the broth.)
1st course- 'Baked' sweet potatoes w/ coconut butter and cajun spice
Let me just tell you, Artisana coconut butter is FREAKING AMAZING on sweet potatoes, especially if you add a cajun spice blend on top of it. Even Cherith and Matt thought so. (Emaline and Jonah weren't brave enough). I even had a spoon of straight up coconut butter I was so hungry and it tasted SO good.
2nd course- Beef pot roast
Everyone got a nice portion (hunk of meat) with yummy broth. I don't need to explain how it was done...everyone knows about pot roast. Why Matt didn't add veggies, I don't know, but it still tasted good and we literally drank the broth from the bowls.
3rd course-Asparagus with evoo and salt
For whatever reason, this came last. I think it was because we 'meatatarians' wanted the meat sooner than later. I loved steamed asparagus, actually we all do, with evoo drizzled on and a bit of salt.
Dessert- About an 1/2hr later everyone wanted a snack and since I was preparing the lunches and had washed the strawberries and blueberries...they just ate some of them. I made myself a strawberry, pineapple, and coconut smoothie.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Brocoli Salad

During my cooking frenzy last Monday night, I decided to make brocoli salad for something I could munch on during the week.

My brocoli salad was adapted to be challenge friendly as well as utilize parts of fresh brocoli that aren't eaten by the kids-the stalks.

I also chose to use my EVSO (extra virgin sunflower oil) because I WAS OUT OF SUNFLOWER SEEDS! Oh the horror!!! :)

The ingredients I used:
minced brocoli stalks (from 3 crown bunches)
minced carrots
golden raisins

for the sauce/aioli:
sunflower oil
white vinegar
minced garlic

I'm so glad I had it on hand for something to crunchy to eat as a side and being so portable to take back to work. Though I will mention that everyone at work called it cole slaw..... so maybe I should rename this dish Brocoli slaw? What do you think?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What I ate today 1-4-12 and yesterday 1-3-12

So today was an ok day. I didn't do a good breakfast but it had protein and a fruit atleast. :)
The girls and I went with our friends Emilea, Oliviah, and Katelynn to see "Puss in Boots" and we had a blast for only $3....not to mention that I totally brought our lunch in and ate in while watching it!

Breakfast- banana and recovery shake (remember, can't do more than 6-8 oz in a 1/2 hour)
Snack- rest of recovery shake
Lunch- 3-4oz of lemon pepper grilled chicken and greens (3-4oz)
Snack- 2-3oz of sunflower seeds,almonds, and raisins
Dinner- 1/2 turkey leg and 3oz of 'dressing' (see my post on the recipe if interested)

Cherith is being good with following the meals...but not Emaline...nor my husband.
She's had pop tarts both days. And he didn't eat until supper tonight! Argh!

Yesterday was kinda hairy. I'm the only one the followed the nutritional guidelines. You see, we had an excuse. A GOOD one...we celebrated Jonah's 16th birthday at Genghis Grill. Yes, a person can eat on this challenge even THERE. Just ask for the starch on the side...and give it to someone else. :)

I know I had 2 eggs, a banana, a tangerine, 2oz of a pomegranate, almonds, and raisins, 1 cup of my brocoli salad, my kiddie size meal from Genghis Grill. (beef, pepper medley veggies, squash/zucchini, spinach, cilantro, brocoli, salt/pepper/garlic and curry.)

You don't know how hard it was to pass up what apparently was a DELICIOUS, mouth WATERING Reeces Peanut Butter Cake I made AND served for my SON'S 16th birthday....

No WAY am I losing a point. I'm on a mission!!!! :)

Turkey and 'dressing'

So the other day when I went to get my groceries for this week I went to Wal-Mart (boo hiss). I went over to the meat section to see what they had marked down and I found 4 packages of 3 turkey legs. So being the penny pincher I snatched them up figuring I could figure something out.

I decided to try making turkey and 'dressing' to see if one could prepare a traditional meal w/o bread.

To my delight, the 'dressing' tasted DELISH, the turkey legs....not so much. SIGH.
I will try again.
I think by pulling the skin off (per my older daughter's demand for NO SKIN), I did a disservice to the meat. I will not heed her next time.

So my 'dressing' consisted of:
minced carrots (1-2cups)
minced onions(1 cup)
minced celery (1 cup)
minced mushrooms (3+ cups)
finely chopped walnuts (1 cup)
minced garlic (1tblsp-but I LOVE garlic)
parsley (1-2 tblsp)
sage (1-2 tblsp)
salt/pepper (to taste)
EV sunflower oil (1 cup)

1. I prepared the carrots, onions, celery by lightly sauteing them in sunflower oil. I added the mushrooms once I turned off the heat and just mixed them in.
2. I combined the walnuts, garlic, parsley, sage, salt, pepper, and more EVSO to make a pesto consistency goo (for a lack of better terms).

I 'dressed' my 6-skinned and lightly salted/peppered turkey legs with the ingredients above by putting 1. down and around the legs then dolloping 2. (atleast) 2 spoons the walnut 'pesto' goo onto each leg.
I used the smaller container to get a little water(1/2-3/4cup) to pour around the dish.

Then I cooked it for an hour @ 350 (325 convection). It probably could have been less time. I just forgot about it. :)

Any suggestions on making the legs taste better, please let me know...the only way I think a turkey should be cooked is SMOKED. So traditional not as familiar.

Workouts for Monday-Wednesday (Sorry I forgot!)

Monday, I found myself unwilling to wake up until 11am!! (talk about messing up food/water schedule!)
But I was ready to go for the baseline WOD. I did mediocre @ best. :( I know now to REALLY warm up prior to. I need a good solid round in to get really warm. Is anyone else like this?

Tuesday, I woke up late AGAIN and didn't have time to eat breakfast prior to the gym since I chose to drink h2o. (I have to choose... it's a bummer most of the time)
I didn't do the WOD, or much of anything b/c I felt like !!!! after rowing 500m, 10 pullups, 30 situps 2x...I was done.
I had to get out of there but determined to do better the next day.

Wednesday, I did better @ the WOD. (combination of more sleep, more water, and taking B12) For the life of me I can't get a good clean @ a weight that's challenging!!!(I'm complaining here.) And there's NO WAY I can do a handstand yet-give me 20lbs and we'll talk.
I was whining about it to Jennifer (a sister who's a crossfitter up in PA) and she said it was most likely my grip strength since her's was crappy too (in comparison to her upper arm strength). I was like yeah right. She Rx's most of her WODs. But a light bulb went off in my head. It made sense b/c I remembered getting physical therapy as a 4-5yr b/c I apparently had underdeveloped/immature grip and forearm strength and coordination. (Go figure)
So I've decided that I'm going to work on this every time I'm at the gym. And @ home once I can 'borrow' one of Jennifer's toys for know for climbers, it's a ball in this thing and you have to shake it to get it to spin?? I can never remember words when I need them. :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Spinach and Meatball Soup

I struck gold with this "throw what ya got in a pot" mentality in making a meal!

This is a soup that I came up with one evening with my friend Aimee when I looked in her WELL STOCKED fridge and saw several things that needed to be used ASAP. We had just made lasagnas (which were delicious) for a business client of hers and I thought I can make something with this!

It must be the Cuban in me hating to see food going to waste because I thought about what she had and quickly realized I could make an Italian inspired soup with all the fresh ingredients she had on hand.

Aimee gave me her blessing to give it a try and just stepped back and let my do my thing! What a good friend to be a guinea pig. :)

These are the ingredients I used:
bell pepper
stock (chicken- b/c that's what she had)
meatballs (she had some frozen, so that's what I went with)

I began with making a standard soup stock. In a pan I softened/lightly browned diced onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic with some evoo. Once softened, I added the liquid stock and brought it to a rolling boil. I then added the diced carrots, oregano, and a bit of black pepper. Several minutes later I added the meatballs. After 10-15 minutes I added the rough chopped spinach to the soup. I gave it another 5 minutes or so and tasted it. I added a dash of salt and it was good to go!

Give it a whirl and let me know how it turned out.
I want to try it with homemade meatballs and beef stock.

Buen provecho!

It's all in the preparation

Tonight as I made the Spinach and Meatball soup and brocoli salad for supper, I used similar ingredients to make 2 other dishes, Turkey and 'dressing' and a Ham-n-Cabbage for tomorrow and Wednesday's meals. Thanks to Sous chefs Matt and Cherith, I even have enough carrots, bell pepper, onions, mushrooms prepped to make the Egg Muffin recipe I found in "Everyday Paleo".

Monday, January 2, 2012

What we ate today 1/2/2012

Be warned!!! Today's meals aren't reflective of a normal day since we're still on Christmas break and we woke up LATE. I also allowing the girls to drink milk since I feel it's the best for them. (and we still have a gallon left in the fridge)

For me:
  1. Breakfast: 1/2 cup almonds and an apple
  2. Post WOD: recovery shake
  3. Lunch- tuna steak and 1/2 avocado in Basalmic Vinegar
  4. Dinner- 1 cup Spinach and Meatball soup, 1 cup Ham, Cabbage and veggies sauteed
  5. Snack- 2/3 cup brocoli salad (with carrots, almonds, sunflower seed oil, golden raisins, cranberries, and figs)
For Cherith:
  1. Breakfast-Glass of milk
  2. Lunch-?
  3. Dinner-2 cups Spinach and Meatball soup
  4. Snack- fresh carrots
For Emaline:
  1. Breakfast- Milk, tangerine
  2. Lunch- 2 tangelos, ?
  3. Dinner- 2 cups Spinach and Meatball soup
  4. Snack-?
For Matt: (he forgot about today)
  1. Breakfast- skipped it
  2. Lunch- McDonald's meal
  3. Dinner-2 cups Spinach and Meatball soup, 1 cup Ham, Cabbage and veggies sauteed
  4. Snack- fresh carrots and brocoli
For Jonah: (not with us today)

And so it began...

Below is my attempt to share with you in a nutshell how a busy, southern family switched their eating habits to paleo/primal.

I am No writer, in fact always hated it, but I LOVE to talk and share with others what I learn and works for me and my own... So here goes nothin'. :)

About 2 months ago, after a workout @ Crossfit Brigade, I was presented with a challenge, more specifically, a NUTRITIONAL CHALLENGE...with PRIZES, set to start in the new year.

My ADHD brain went into overdrive!!!!! I was thinking so many things at once, I could barely concentrate.

First thought: Sweet! A competition! I feel my best when I take on a challenge to BE the best, or at least DO more than those around me. ;) Second thought: Awesome! I need a reason to get the whole family eating right again. We've gotten SO offtrack this semester. (my fault mostly) Third thought: Yes! I get to cook more again! We get to try new things. Fourth thought: Maybe this will take off the last 20 lbs I've been nearly bursting with frustration to get off before my foot surgery in March.

So then I forced myself to pay attention. I absorbed everything that was being said, written on the whiteboard, and the tidbits people were saying. I NEEDED to know more!!!

So I went home, told the family what I was planning on for the new year, and was ready for the onslaught of complaints. They didn't disappoint me. :)

But I wasn't to be deterred.

So began my quest for knowledge for this, this Paleo/Primal style of eating. I spent hours researching online for meal ideas, others ideas, etc...I had to arm myself with facts and a slew of positively slanted meal plans that satisfied even the pickiest member...ahem...Jonah.

And I found my first obstacle was neatly taken down, albeit grudgingly so, with little blood or tears shed, I am grateful to admit. So then, I set out to tackle the next easiest, cleaning out the cabinets of foods that didn't go with the new eating style.

I began talking to the kids more about what meals would look like for us during the challenge. What ideas did they have? What about lunch? I enjoyed sharing ideas with them but what I liked more was how their attitude became less of what they were going to be deprived of and more, what combinations of their favorite foods can they bring for lunch.

My cabinets had been stocked for the last 8 months with the steals and deals I had gotten from couponing. The problem was that I had picked up the bad habit of getting the cheap, processed foods that were easy to cook or transport because I now justified that I could afford them and we were so much busier this semester. I had become a food HOARDER.

(Thankfully Thanksgiving was coming up and I knew the schools would be asking for dry goods' donations for the Food Bank. That took care of one large cabinet of cereals, chicken helpers, instant potatoes, etc...)

I determined to ONLY buy the basics at the store with the lowest overall prices for the next several weeks-ALDI. Eggs, milk, bread, fresh fruit, sandwich stuff... Our grocery bill dropped down to about $40 a week thanks to the food hoarding from the previous months.

My once full cabinets are more or less bare of 'contraband' foods. My justification for holding on to them are for church supper on Wednesday nights and my monthly dessert making for older two's school. (They're ALWAYS having one function or another.)

So my story in a nutshell happens to be not that at all. If you're southern, you know how we tend to tell stories...or directions for the matter. So this is to be continued at another time.