Weight Loss 101: Eat Real Food, Not Your Savings

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So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about eating healthy and finances. As in, how do you eat REAL food without going REALLY broke? And then yesterday Ali tweeted at me that she had similar concerns: How do you eat healthy without going bankrupt at the grocery store? Which obviously got me thinking about it even more. I’ll be the first to admit (and I’m sure that my sister will be the second, haha!) that I am not exactly the most frugally minded person. Sure, I can appreciate a good deal as much as the next person, but for the most part I adhere to the mindset that I would rather pay more for better quality, faster service, or convenience, than have to deal with the opposites of those things. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a rockin’ deal as much as the next person, but some things aren’t worth the hassle to me. Hence why it’s more likely you’d find me leisurely perusing the displays at Nordstrom than getting sweaty and harried pawing through the racks at Marshall’s, haha.

That being said, I’m not exactly rolling in it over here. And real food is expensive! Ramen is cheap, produce is not. So while I often ignore my own advice, I do feel like this is an area where saving money really matters. And I feel there are some surefire ways to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to healthy eating.

Number 1: Eat at home.

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Uh, duh. This should probably go without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway: If you want to save money, don’t go out to eat. Shop for your own groceries, and prepare your own food. I spent just over $20 at the store yesterday and will be covered for meals for three days. When you break that amount down, you’re talking about something like $2 – $3 a meal!

Number 2: Meal plan.

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I’ve admitted in the past that I’m not very good at creating and following meal plans. I try to pretend it’s because I’m all spontaneous and like to be creative with my meals, but really I’m just lazy and unorganized hahaha. This week I tried to make an exception, however, because I’m taking off for the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference in Boulder, CO on Friday morning! So going grocery shopping mid-week, while a complete necessity given the state of food options in my house, wasn’t the most ideal situation. I didn’t want to buy things that were just going to spoil when I left! I feel that the biggest money-suck when it comes to eating real food is having it spoil because you weren’t able to utilize it in time. Meal planning is the absolute best way to avoid this.

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Number 3: Make (and stick to!) a grocery list.

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My list yesterday was super short because I was literally only shopping for a few days’ worth of food. But if I hadn’t done up a list, I would have walked out with so much unnecessary, unusable food.

Number 4: Buy generic.

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Stacy’s pita chips are priced at $2.99 a bag. Giant’s Nature’s Promise brand pita chips at priced at $2.49 a bag. Which product should you purchase? Seems like it should be a no-brainer, right? I mean, sure 50 cents might not seem like that much, but it adds up. Fast. And this rule applies across the spectrum: groceries, pharmacy items, etc. People will pay a lot more just for a particular brand slapped on the packaging, when the generic version is just as good (and oftentimes, the same manufacturer makes both products anyway. So you are LITERALLY just choosing between a branded and a generic version of the exact same thing.)

Number 5: Stretch your meat.

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There are lots of creative ways to make the expensive items you buy, like meat, last longer. Cara gave me the tip of adding ~2 cups of mashed chickpeas (which you can snag for about $0.89 a can!) to turkey burgers to bulk ’em up and stretch ’em out. I took that tip as inspiration for my own dinner last night, which involved bulking up my T-burgers with tons of veggies that I already had!

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I chopped up green onion, red onion, button mushrooms, and grated baby carrots and added it all to the mix. Not only did it make for big, thick patties, the mushrooms kept the meat SUPER moist (often a complaint when it comes to turkey burgers — thanks for that tip, Aunt Lynda!), but the meal was healthified with the addition of extra veggies, AND it helped alleviate that whole food-spoilage thing mentioned previously by letting me use up more items that were just waiting to spoil in the fridge! Win-win-win.

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With the addition of asparagus that I subbed the grocery-listed bibb lettuce for because it was a much better deal, and potatoes that I already had lying around, we have a complete meal, with enough leftovers to last me for lunch today AND tomorrow (and would have lasted another dinner, too, if I hadn’t been a piggy and had two patties last night. Whoops! Hahaha.)

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I really need to get on this meal-planning train much more regularly. That way I’ll have more money leftover for the massages I apparently desperately need! 😉

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What are your tips for saving money but still eating healthy? Another thing I should probably look into doing more is deal-shopping (going to different stores for specific items) and couponing, two things I’m terrible at! Any advice on those fronts?

Daily Eats – 6/21/11

Breakfast

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Green smoothie with frozen tropical mix (pineapple, banana, strawb), spinach, and almond milk.

Except, I could only end up stomaching like 2 sips of it because the spinach was obviously bad and I didn’t realize it. So then I had Luna Bar instead. Oops. (180 calories)

Lunch

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Spinach salad, chicken and broccoli, and some kinda pasta with marinara sauce thing from the deli downstairs. I KNOW, I KNOW. I need to stop buying lunch at work. Don’t worry, I actually went grocery shopping today! 🙂

Dinner

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Turkey Burger inspired by Cara’s Thai Turkey Sliders (details on this dinner coming tomooorrrooowwww!) – 2 patties. Kekeke.

Taters and asparagus sauteed with a wee bit o’ EVOO

Dessert…

Unpictured. Laaaame, I know. But you wouldn’t want to see it anyway: A few spoonfuls of coconut milk ice cream, and a few leftover pieces of roommate-delivered sushi leftovers. Sushi can be dessert, right? 😉

Too many unknowns for full calorie counting, but I feel pretty good about today’s eats despite the lapse in late-night-eating-judgment. I’m trying to detox from the weekend a bit, and now that I’ve gone grocery shopping (to tide me over until COLORADOOOO!) I can fully embrace clean eating until then. Huzzah!

OMG PUPPIEEEEZ!

Warning: You may at some point during this post go into cuteness overload. Symptoms may include: cooing, scrunching of the face, speaking in baby-talk, and an incredible urge to touch soft things.

Heh.

But before we get to the overwhelming adorableness that is my sister and her husband’s new puppy (!!), let’s finish up the rest of the non-food related weekend, shall we?

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I got to spend some time at the pool! Hooray! As you all know, I spent most of the weekend in Delaware visiting Steve for an early birthday celebration.

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So we spent Saturday afternoon at his uncle’s super nice pool…

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Aaaaand so did the pups. Bahahaha!

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Now hold on, before you go on thinking that I’m a cruel, cruel dog owner (which, let’s face it, we all know just isn’t true.) Let me just preface this by saying that we weren’t risking their lives, we were just helping them broaden their horizons by giving them their first (and considering how much they hated it, probably their last) swimming lesson. Let the hilarity ensue:

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See? No harm done other than a lot of post-pool shaking and wriggling. Well, to the dogs, at least. But to me, the experience was totally worth the ten bazillion scratches I have on my neck and shoulders now, hahaha.

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And yes, this weekend’s pool trip also included another attempt to build up my bank of bikini confidence. I struggled with whether or not I wanted to post the following pic, but I’m sucking it up and going for it. After all, despite the misleading number of posts that center around my dogs, this really is supposed to be a weight loss blog, right? I figure that A) I really need to try to tie this post in at least SOMEWHAT to what my blog is about, and B) everybody get stomach rolls when they sit, right? RIGHT?!!?

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So, the confidence is slowly coming. And even though I obviously still have a little ways to go yet, I strengthen my resolve that I really am going to get there this time. After all, just yesterday I was brought a little closer!

And now, to help you forget about having seen the above-posted flubbery, enjoy the following photo smörgåsbord (yep, that just happened) of Harry & Daxter’s new little cousin: Oreo!

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Isn’t he adorable?! He’s a schnauzer-lab (schlabrador? Ha!) mix. So even though I was clearly HIGHLY-affronted that they didn’t go full-schnauzie (I don’t know if you could tell, but I kinda dig this breed), I think he is a perfect compromise for my sister, who loved the size and temperament of my babies, and her hubs, who is a manly, lab-owning kinda guy. We went up to Columbia Sunday night for Father’s Day dinner and to meet the little guy!

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It took a second for Harry & Daxter to warm up to Oreo at first…

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But eventually they were comfortable enough to play with him (Daxter) or moderately ignore him (Harry), hahaha:

Cousins.
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Much to my mother’s delight:

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And my father’s indifference:

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Hahahaha. Puppies everywhere! But don’t worry boys, you’re still #1 for me:

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Puptastic weekend: check. I love life. And I love you guys! And clearly based on the inordinate number of comments you left as entries for my giveaway, you guys LOVE Popchips! So I’m going to try to channel all this love by announcing the randomly selected winner:

Drumroll please…

Chloe!

Congratulations, Chloe! Email me ([email protected]) your full name and mailing address, and I’ll get the info to Popchips so they can send you your month’s supply!

Blogtasrophe! (Weigh-in)

AND WE’RE BACK!

In case you couldn’t hear my screams of anguish echoing over the blogosphere, something was very wrong with my blog today. I was unable to log-in to my blog client, couldn’t post all weekend, couldn’t post all day, it looked all nutty and plain-texty and well… to sum it up, my poor blog-baby was sick. And I was sad and angry and distraught, and it was all directed at the internet as a whole, hahaha. But! Thanks to my amazing brother/webmaster, it’s back and… better than ever? Well, that’s not true, because I’m still working through some issues. But hopefully it works for now.

So that at least explains why this post is coming so very, very late, and it’s coming with (hopeful) brevity because, you know, of that I promise that a real post with hilariousness and complete dog overload will be up bright & early tomorrow — in case you missed out on the tweets and Facebook photos showcasing the dogs’ pool adventures and my sister’s new puppy! Oh, and there may be pictures of me in a swimsuit too. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So, without further adieu here is my weekend from Friday to Sunday, centered around a trip to Delaware to visit Steve for his birfday before coming back to celebrate my wonderful Papa, in pictures. Of food. Hehe.

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Taco Taco Taco!

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'Roon

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Localvore

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So there you have it! Lots of delicious food (and this wasn’t all of it, but them’s the highlights fo’ sho’.) Steve and I went to this cute little place called Beseme in Lewes, DE to celebrate his birthday dinner.

Happy Birfday!

It was really delicious, but the service was unfortunately super slow. Oh well, it is a beach town, I guess. Gotta go with the flow, haha. Then when I returned on Sunday, we celebrated Papa’s Day at a manly restaurant for my manly papa: Outback Steakhouse.

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Happy (now belated) Father’s Day, Daddy! 🙂

Oh right, that pesky little thing that happens every Monday. Sigh, bring on the weigh-in. Okay, no drawing it out, here you go:

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 194.0 lbs
This Weigh-in: 192.5 lbs!!
This Week’s Loss: -1.5 lbs
Total Loss-to-Date: 53.5 lbs.

HUZZAH!

C’mon now, that’s pretty impressive considering all the previously listed decadent weekend food, no? So at least this thus far thoroughly emotionally-and-physically exhausting Monday has been made better by a very nice little bit of weight loss. It’s the small victories, y’know? Hopefully I’m just a hop, skip, and a week or two away from… holy crap. I don’t even think I can say it out loud. It’s just so crazy to think that I could ever actually hit… the 180s!

AHHH! That’s almost like, an acceptable weight! Hahaha. Don’t worry folks, we can celebrate tomorrow, when I announce the winner of my Popchips giveaway! So make sure you get your final entries in toniiiiight!

Bloggers of DC… Unite! (Giveaway!)

Sorry this post comes a little late this morning. I’m a little off. Let’s just say that my day has already included taking an hour to drive 4.5 miles (stupid downed power lines!) and spilling coffee down the front of my white t-shirt. Womp womp. ANYWAY!

When I first started blogging, solely for the means of keeping myself accountable for my weight loss, I had no idea how vast and expansive the healthy living blog community was. Sure, I read a few here and there, but I really had no idea how many amazing people I would meet through the blogosphere (haha, I really hate using that word — so nerdy! — but unfortunately it’s true.) And more than that, I had no idea how many of those awesome people would be so close by! I’ve officially decided that turning virtual buddies into real-life friends is awesome. And thanks to incredible organizer Amanda, last night I was able to continue the trend:

At the Nats vs. Cardinals game last night! Thanks to Stephanie for the above pic. I’m pimpin’ it from the middle of the back row!

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Running late as always, I met Amanda at The Bullpen, the beer garden just outside of the main gates at the stadium before heading in. My brother Ben’s band plays the 4th of July gig here every year, so it was fun to get to see what he was talking about, ahaha.

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I’d be lying if I said I paid a lick of attention to the actual baseball game (did we even win? Ahahahaha) but it was so much fun! My only regret is that I wish I didn’t have to work so stinkin’ early so I could have stayed later.

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Megan and Sana even trekked down from Columbia to share in the festivities! I heart these girls so hard. 🙂

It did start to rain pretty hard at one point, but thankfully our seats were covered! I guess that’s the bone they throw to people who have to sit up at the tippity top of the stadium, hahaha.

Rainy Games.

Sure that ain't snow?

And okay, okay, this is the last time. Just one more shout out to Amanda for taking the initiative to plan the whole thing. Lovelovelove:

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I so desperately wish I could remember everyone’s name (and blog!) from last night but unfortunately I am super terrible with remembering, um, anything. So! If you were at the game last night, please make sure you leave a comment letting me know!

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Also, and this may come as no surprise to you if you saw last night’s daily eats post (or if you just know me at all, haha), I had french fries for dinner. It was glorious.

All in all, a wonderful evening, which is why the debacle that has been this entire morning hasn’t gotten me down. I’m still in such a good mood! I hope there will be many more meet-ups like this to come.

Sunset Over Nationals Stadium

I know what you’re thinking: how does my good mood impact YOU on this Friday morning? Well my friends, the answer is: in a very chipper way.

Day 163 - Death by Pop Chips

Popchipper, that is! Bahahahahaha. GET IT?!

Remember how I was bragging about getting a post-Fitbloggin’ case of Popchips and then how you were like, “Aw man! I wish I had an entire case of Popchips to nom on, too!” Well, your wish = my command. One of you lucky readers is going to get a MONTH’s supply of Popchips!

What to do:

1. Like Popchips on Facebook and/or follow them on Twitter.

2. Leave a comment back here saying you’ve done so!

Easy as pie. You can also submit additional entries can be done by doing one (or all!) of the following:

1. Retweet this giveaway, including a link back to this post and the usernames @shrinkinggretch and @popchipsdc.

2. Link back to this giveaway post on your blog.

3. Just leave a comment talking about what you would do with a month’s supply of Popchips delivered to your door (hopefully you won’t follow my lead as depicted above and be killed by them, hahaha.)

Make sure you leave separate comments for each thing you do!

I’ll be randomly selecting a winner and announcing it in Tuesday’s post (the 21st.) Happy Friday!