My Third Box from Misfits Market

It’s hard to believe this is my third box. I’ve been enjoying the food from these boxes and plan to keep doing so. Not only are they saving me money, I am trying new foods without breaking my back by carrying it all home.

This is what box three held:

  • 4 plums
  • 1 cucumber
  • 6 onions (split these between my daughters)
  • 2 oranges
  • a bunch of little peppers (split these between my daughters)
  • 2 heads lettuce
  • 4 lemons
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 5 limes
  • 2 celery bunches
  • 2 bunches of kale
  • 2 butternut squash

So, I did some very obvious things with some of this produce. For instance, I:

I’m saving the squash for when I have the other ingredients to make stuffed squash. Mostly what I am buying at the grocery store these days are nut milk and bananas. I buy one package of meat. I find that I am eating far less meat than I used to. And things as they run out, such as eggs, nut flours, and almond butter.

This is a lot of food for one person, but it is only delivered every other week. I’m eating far healthier now that I’m getting in the habit of eating more fresh produce again.

Does anyone else find this happening who have ordered these boxes? What are your weekly or bi-weekly grocery budgets looking like? Also, are you receiving the same produce boxes I am? Let’s compare!

I also have received some zucchini and cucumbers from my parents. And ended up with about a dozen cans of applesauce from a friend that I put away for winter when I might not get many apples. They’ll also make great back ups when funds are low. Oh, and that same friend gave me about the same number of cans of peas.

It makes me happy that I am also able to help my daughters out a little bit. ❤

Note 1: It’s called Misfits Market for a reason. It is a source of “ugly” produce. Let me just say that I don’t care if the produce is perfect. If I can get “ugly” produce at a good price, I am all over that. Produce is produce. It’s all good!

Note 2: Get 25% off your first order, and give me 25% off a future order. It’s a win-win! The links in this article will take you to my page with your discount. (Affiliate) (This is the discount they are giving right now. Misfit’s Market can change the promotion at any time.)

~ Shannon

My Second Box from Misfits Market

I’m impressed with all the produce in these Madness boxes from Misfits Market. (The second link here is an affiliate one.) The food is amazing and, while there are a couple of funny looking additions and there were a few bruised fruits, the quality is amazing for the price. That’s why it’s called Misfits Market though. Bruised fruit is easily turned into something else, like applesauce. Funny looking foods taste just as good as perfect foods.

Look at what came in my second box:

  • strawberries
  • 2 bunches kale
  • 6 onions (Gave to my daughters)
  • 4 bell peppers + a bunch of smaller peppers (Gave to my daughters)
  • 12 potatoes
  • 2 squash
  • 2 bunches salad mix
  • 1 cucumber
  • 5 apples
  • 2 bunches broccoli
  • 4 mango (Gave to my daughters)

Despite giving away some of the produce, I have plenty to get me through the next couple of weeks. And I still have spaghetti squash from the last shipment. What I’m making with this shipment, and that spaghetti squash:

Note 1: It’s called Misfits Market for a reason. It is a source of “ugly” produce. Let me just say that I don’t care if the produce is perfect. If I can get “ugly” produce at a good price, I am all over that. Produce is produce. It’s all good!

Note 2: Get 25% off your first order, and give me 25% off a future order. It’s a win-win! The links in this article will take you to my page with your discount. (Affiliate) (This is the discount they are giving right now. Misfit’s Market can change the promotion at any time.)

My daughters, Skye and Zowie, enjoy getting the extra food. They both have a lot on their plates financially, so this allows me to help them out a bit. Little Man just loves snacking on peppers!

~Shannon

I’m Picky about Cooked Veggies, But I Love them Raw!

Okay, I do like some vegetables cooked. Mainly things like peas and potatoes – of course, I like white potatoes raw as well as cooked. I’m aware that it is said to be, nutrient-wise, better to eat certain vegetables cooked, but I just can’t stomach most of them that way.

I can only eat carrots cooked if they are mashed in with white or sweet potato, or shredded into chili or meatloaf.

So, you see, I really am picky. But…

…I eat a lot of raw veggies. I do different things with them, so I’m not always eating the same things.

  • I make veggie jars.
  • I love salads.
  • I make wraps, veggie and otherwise.
  • I always get or make vegetable platters for parties.
  • I have always loved stuffed celery. My sister makes it for me, stuffed with peanut butter, for get-togethers – because she loves me. I also like them stuffed with almond butter.
  • I like to snack on raw cabbage. Just raw cabbage. Yum.
  • Pickled beats are amazing.
  • I like to add vegetables to smoothies. Not just greens. I’ve also put carrots, broccoli, celery, and cucumber in them. I’ll likely try other veggies in them as well.
  • I like to add extra vegetables to meals as well, such as shredded sweet potato to meat loaf or chili. Or making a shepherd’s pie by layering beef or chicken, peas, white potato, sweet potato, and squash. Sometimes I use fruits and vegetables interchangeably. They’re both so good for you!

I am aware that some of my tactics are a form of manipulation, and I think it is funny that I can do that to myself successfully. What can I say? I am good! LOL

Are you a picky eater? How are you getting your vegetables in?

Shannon

Veggies as the Main Meal Component

Now that the holidays are over and our new year goals have been set, I bet I’m not the only one eating better than I was during the holiday season. One thing I’ve been considering is the amount of meat I eat during a meal. I can easily load half of my plate with meat, but I’m not sure that’s what we should be doing.

Not that meat is bad. I love beef, chicken, pork, and turkey. However, I think we are seriously lacking the nutrients we need from fresh fruits and vegetables. I want to be eating more fresh produce and less meat, so I’m going to be switching things up a bit.

My goal is going to get in more fruits and vegetables each day. To accomplish this, I’m going to make the sides the main part of my meal, and have less meat at each.

Protein is an important part of every meal, and I don’t want to skip on that, but I think I’ll get enough if I use vegetables that have the nutrient alongside a little meat. Broccoli, green peas, asparagus, cauliflower, black beans, and broccoli raab are just a few of the vegetables that contain protein. I figure, if I can pair a protein-rich vegetable with the little bit of meat cooked in a healthy fat, and then add more veggies to the plate, I’ll be doing good. What do you think?

Shannon

 

Busy Cooks Guide to Easy Meal Prep

I know what it’s like, being so busy you don’t have time to prepare healthy meals and snacks at home. Things get crazy-busy sometimes, and there does not seem like enough time to do all that we have to do.

But there are things that will help to make meal prep easy during the busier times life will throw at you, and I want to share with you what tactics I use to create quick, easy meals when life is too hectic.

Spend an afternoon preparing

If you have a few hours, it’s a good idea to prepare some things in advance. Here are a few things I do, depending on the time of year:

  • Make tortilla wraps and place them in the refrigerator between sheets of parchment paper. I find a recipe online for Paleo wraps, and use that.
  • Wash and cut up vegetables. Store in containers in the refrigerator. Use ends and greens when making stock.
  • Place fruit in bowls to grab when you want a snack or are in a hurry.
  • Prepare lunches for work or school so you can easily grab them before leaving.
  • Make a vegetable stock and store it in the refrigerator for use during the week. Any extra can go into the freezer. Use ends and greens, as well as any leftover vegetables that won’t get eaten fresh.
  • Roast a chicken, then cut it up into serving sizes and refrigerate. Freeze what you wont use in the next four days.
  • Make chocolate sauce and store in canning jars in the refrigerator. Use this with fresh fruit if you are wanting a dessert-type item.
  • Make energy balls and store three to a small container.

Buy frozen seafood

I like to check out the frozen seafood section to see what I might be able to use for meals during the week. Scallops and shrimp are easy to prepare, and can be used in many food combinations.

This week I found bags of raw, peeled, deveined, tail-on shrimp for $5.00, so I picked one up. I’ll keep it in the freezer, and take some out whenever I want to make a dish.

What will I use the shrimp for? Any number of things, including:

Make a soup

Soups are a wonderful way to add vegetables to your menu. Just throw the ingredients in a pot on the stove – or in a crock – and cook at the beginning of the week. This could be done on a prep day.

My best friend will cook up a huge pot all at once, and I just love my chicken and vegetable soup and my sausage and pineapple one.

I put servings of soup in small canning jars after they’ve cooled some, and place those in the refrigerator. They are easy to warm when you are short on time, and taste great.

Know what fruits can be stored near each other

A few medium size mixing or fruit bowls will hold a lot of fruit. Place citrus vegetables in one, apples and pears in another, and bananas and grapes in the third. One can be used as a centerpiece at the table, and the other two can be placed at either end of the counter.

School and work lunches

I usually put these together during a prep day, because I’m already doing related tasks. All I’m really doing is packing things up a little differently than in spend an afternoon preparing above.

I have a shelf specifically for work meal items, and organize the containers and other items in a way that makes things easy to grab. I work 5 shifts in four days, and will bring everything I put together on the first day.

While cutting up vegetables, I’ll have five containers reserved for work. Into each of those, I’ll put a few servings of vegetables, a few cut up berries or some grapes, and a serving of meat, unless the meat will be in soup form. In that case, the soups are already packaged as individual servings.

If I will be having wraps, I’ll also store the wraps separately.

Much of the time, to make things easy, I’ll have the same foods for all five meals, switching out different fruits or snacks. Having packets of dark chocolate covered blueberries and cherries helps with this, as does having some energy balls on hand.

Easy meal combo’s utilizing raw vegetables include:

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced strawberries, sugar snap peas in pods, broccoli, carrots, celery, and a small amount of nut butter
  • rice, seasoned ground beef, diced tomato, corn, grapes
  • turkey slices, roasted sweet potato, mashed squash, peas, cranberries
  • veggie wraps, shrimp scampi on the side (to be added to the wrap later), strawberry slices
  • sausage and pineapple soup, carrot sticks, celery with nut butter, cherries

Quick breakfast ideas

While a box of cereal is the ultimate in quickness during our busy mornings, those types of boxed, processed things are not exactly the healthiest of choices. I like to make my own cereal, and it takes less time than making pancakes. Here are a few of may favorites:

Another ideas is to make a batch of Paleo granola to use as cereal during busy mornings. Add half a cup to a bowl, top with fruit and organic, unsweetened coconut, and add nut milk.

Quick snack ideas

Parfaits are an easy snack, and can be refrigerated overnight. Make a couple up during prep day for a quick, easy snack later and the next day. A few options include:

Trail mixes are another great snack option, and can be made up in advance and used throughout the coming week or so. Stored little canning jars, they will be easy to grab.

Quick lunches and dinners

If you have the components from spend and afternoon preparing above, you probably already have the components for a few meals. Buy frozen seafood and make a soup offer other ideas. Here are some more that can be made ahead and warmed later, or made quickly the day you want them:

*****

With practice, meal prep days will go more quickly and you might choose to make more options on that day.

What do you do to keep it healthy during the busiest of times?

Shannon

 

 

 

Dirty Dozen & Clean 15, And Me

I assume since you are here, you’re trying to eat healthy/ier, as I am. Each year I read the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list to see where things stand. I always hope for the best, and I’m always dismayed at the amount of pesticides in our food.

Today was no different. I had the opportunity to sit down and read the article, and take a look at the study. I updated my lists in the Memo section of my phone (so I have them when I’m shopping), and was reminding of how much I want to live in a place where I can grow my food. I’m hoping my parents actually get back into this after my step-father retires. It’s been a couple of years since they’ve done their garden, but I’m guessing they’ll be back at it next spring. Or hoping.

What does this mean for me? I have to be careful of:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach (I eat a lot of this!)
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery

I eat a lot of those foods. The others on the list aren’t eaten often, but I will have to keep them in mind so I am prepared. I’ve listed all 12 on my Yuck! list in my phone, and all the Clean 15 on my Yum! list. I’m so excited to have avocado, pineapple, and cabbage on my Yum! list, as well as honey-dew and cantaloupe. I hate that I have to spend more to get the organic versions of the other items I want. I can’t always afford to, but I try to when possible.

Are you changing the way you eat to accommodate these lists? Let us know how in the comments.

Happy spring!

Shannon

 

 

USDA Thrifty Food Plan, January 2018

Not everyone has a large budget for food. Even those of us needing to eat healthy have to keep costs down. Doing so is not always easy.

A few years back I came across the USDA Thrifty Food Plan, and wanted to share it with you. There are weeks when I’m lucky if I have $10.00 to spend on food. Those weeks find me depleting my pantry stocks. Then there are weeks when I can spend $40.00 plus and extra $10.00 or $20.00 to replenish the pantry somewhat. These are my lucky weeks.

More often than not, I spend around $35.00.

This is what the USDA says the food plan costs were for January 2018 for 1 female my age:

Weekly                                                                Monthly

$38.00           Thrifty Plan                                 $164.70

$48.10            Low-Cost Plan                            $208.50

$59.10            Moderate-Cost Plan                  $256.00

$75.70            Liberal Plan                                 $328.00

I dream of having enough money for the liberal plan every week/month, lol. I am definitely closer to the Thrifty Plan. You can see where your family would be here. (It goes by age.) Where are you?

I try to get a fruit for each day, plus plenty of vegetables and enough protein for each day, with my money. Some weeks are easier than others to pull this off. Generally, I get the most affordable meats and produce I can find. Unfortunately, I’m not always able to get organic foods, but I think I’m doing good when I come out of the store with no (or close to no) processed foods. It varies from week-to-week what I can pull off for meals.

Shannon

I Bought Me Presents!

Over the holidays and for a little after, I worked a lot of overtime. It was tiring, but worth it because regular pay + holiday pay + overtime = a lot of money! Yay!

So I bought me a few nice things for my kitchen! This does not happen every day, month, or even year. Before I show you what I got, though, I want to mention that I’m not in any way affiliated with the companies that make these products, and they are not paying me to mention them here on the blog or on social media. I really do like these products.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright January 2018.

I just love Pioneer Woman products, and these dipping bowls are simply adorable! Besides using them for dipping sauces, these will be used to attractively hold small amounts of ingredients while I’m experimenting with recipes – for photography purposes. They will look so cute holding salts, herbs, and other things. Dual purpose! I paid less than $2.00 for each.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright January 2018.

These ramekins are amazing. I have plans to try some Paleo dessert recipes out this winter, and I wanted something cute to photograph them in. These will work perfectly, and the set was only $11.52. They can also be used to serve ice cream or small bowls of cereal in, and may even help me with portion-control of other foods.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright January 2018.

And check out this set of four pie plates. I want to learn to make Paleo pot pies, and I needed some mini pie plates to make them in – because I’ll want to freeze three for later. These pie plates will be perfect! And yes, I will likely make Paleo dessert pies as well. Who wouldn’t!

This set of four, put out by the Pioneer Woman if you hadn’t already guessed, cost me $15.88.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright January 2018.

I really needed cutting boards but didn’t want to spend too much on ones that would just take up too much space in my room, so I bought these instead. They will serve the purpose for now and, when I get into a bigger place and can store the ones I want, I will pass these on to my daughter. This set of mats was $4.64. Not a bad price at all.

And the teas were a gift. You can never have enough tea.

Photograph copyright January 2017 by Shannon L. Buck.In case you missed my earlier blog post, I also purchased meal prep containers in different sizes at very reasonable cost. I do meal prep for work.

There you have them, my gifts for me! It’s so much fun to buy yourself something once in a while.

Shannon

 

 

Invest in Containers for Meal Prep

And don’t worry about spending all outdoors on them. I found the containers I mention in this article at Walmart at reasonable cost. They are BPA free, and will be perfect for my work meals. These containers can go into the freezer, on the top shelf of the dishwasher, and even into the microwave if you have one, and are reusable. There is a place on the covers where you can write the date by which the meal or food items should be used; nifty for freezing. And these containers even have stay-cool handles.

Photograph copyright January 2017 by Shannon L. Buck.

These little containers come six to a package, and are each 4 fluid ounces. They’ll hold dips and sauces, as well as small bits of leftovers. You could also use them for pudding cups or trail mixes. The cost for these was $2.47.

Photograph copyright January 2017 by Shannon L. Buck.

I bought a variety pack as well, which includes two snack size (9.5 fl oz) containers, five entrée (25 fl oz) containers, and five soup and salad (24 fl oz) containers.  The cost for these was $4.47.

Photograph copyright January 2017 by Shannon L. Buck.

I also bought these round containers. They are bigger than the 4 fluid ounce ones, but I cannot seem to find the information for the exact size. They came in a four-pack, and cost $2.17.

I paid just under $10.00 for all of these, and they are going to be perfect for bringing my meals to work with me. I work 40 hours in 4 days every week, and I like to prepare my meals the day before my first shift. When I get everything to work I can put a couple of meals in the freezer to be moved to the refrigerator Saturday morning, put the snacks in the office, and put the other containers straight into the refrigerator. Easy-peasy!

NOTE: For items that may stain plastic container, such as my chili, I use glass canning jars or glass bowls with covers. Glass items are easier to keep clean under these circumstances.

What do you use for meal prepping?

Shannon

Be Prepared for All of that Candy

When the girls were young, to prevent them from overindulging in all that sugar they’d received each Halloween/Samhain, I had a plan in place to be ready for the bombardment of all that candy.

I realize that there are readers who believe children should have free reign over these treats; I simply do not agree. Sugar highs are not good for children, or those caring for them. Too much sugar in one day is not good for their health. And allowing them to binge eat like that can cause serious problems later on.

* I assure you, they had their treats. They enjoyed them. They simply had them in moderation. And they got tons of candy.

(Update 2017) Even though I am trying to eat healthier myself, and this blog is about frugal, healthy eating (for the most part), I completely understand the fun that comes along with this time of year. And I can’t wait to take Little Man out trick-or-treating some day.

Have these supplies ready:

cookie jar or other container

2 large bowls

freezer bags or containers labeled Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentines Day

trash can

  • Go through all the treats that each of your children received. Throw out any that does not look right.

While going through the candy, separate it all into the containers as such:

  • Popcorn balls, pretzels, fruit snacks, and other snack type items will go into one of the large bowls, along with any actual fruit.
  • Place chocolate candies in the other large bowl.
  • Put other types of candy into the cookie jar.
  • Candies with red or pink wrappers should be placed in the Valentine’s Day container.
  • Candies with blue, green and silver wrappers should be placed in the Christmas container.
  • Candies with brown, yellow or gold wrappers should be placed into the Thanksgiving container.
  • The three holiday containers are then placed into the freezer, and the rest are placed in a location that is not easily accessible to the children.

A week before each holiday, take the candy from the freezer and place it around the home in decorative plates. You do not have to buy candy for these holidays now.

  • These holiday candies are obviously not to be used as gifts. They were given to your children.

Have a Happy Samhain/Halloween!

Shannon