New Year Goal: A New “Kitchen”

Many of you know that I rent a room and, therefore, do not have an actual kitchen. Right now the picture to the top of this post shows my current “kitchen”. The food is in the closet, a setup that is no longer working for me.

I’m actually saving for an efficiency or one-bedroom apartment but, until I can move, I’m stuck with what I can do in my room. So I’ve decided to change things up a bit. My new “kitchen” will need to work better for me, so I’m working out affordable ways to organize things better, like repurposing a couple of old shelves that I have on hand. Really, the shelves need to be replaced. But I’m going to use them to set up a kitchen corner in the room instead.

There will be a little more space to move around as well, and I’m coming up with a plan to have a food prep area on top of one of the shelves.

Let’s see how I can make all of this happen. I’ll update you when my new “kitchen” is complete.

Happy new year! Feel free to share your kitchen and food related goals in the comments.

Shannon

New Year Goal: Be Healthy

Oh the things we lose track of, like our fitness goals. I’m so disappointed in me. 😦 But, rather than dwell on the negativeness of this, I’m going to put my energies into staying positive and getting myself back on track.

What does this mean?

Through a combination of fitness, positive thinking and attitude, and getting back into eating healthy, I am going to get myself back on track. Not that I’ve gone back to all of my old, unhealthy behaviors, but some of them have seeped back into my life.

It’s time to rethink how I want to feel, and how I am going to get there and stay there.

Nutrition is a big part of this plan I have formulating in my head. So I want to expand my menu choices in order to give myself more options.

The basics of protein, a few fruits/vegetables, and healthy fat is great most of the time, but I think I need more of a variety so as not to get too bored. And I need to do something about what I’m doing with cravings. Rather than blow the healthy eating habits all together, I can lessen the impact by making healthier choices.

So, what do you say? Are you with me?

Let’s be healthier this year!

Shannon

New Year Goal: Try New Recipes (Mostly Paleo)

I wanted to do this last year, but never got around to it all. In all honesty, I got very bored with food prep and went for easy things to prepare. I’m now bored with all of that, and am looking to expand my winter menu.

So this year, I want to try to learn how to do a few new things.

  1. I want to expand my pizza options. I don’t want to go overboard with cheese, but I do like it once in a while. Pizza is one place where I just can’t let it go. This is why I don’t eat pizza often, haha. But I figure that, if I make my own, I have more control over how healthy it is. A nice paleo crust will be the base, then I’m going to play around a bit; come up with new options.
  2. Paleo versions of chicken or turkey pot pie. Small, single-serve ones because I have the cutest little Pioneer Woman mini pie pans I can use. (See the feature image!) I remember eating those little store-bought ones with my daughters when they were little.
  3. Paleo mini pies. Another excuse to use those cute little pie pans! And I miss pie.
  4. Mini paleo fruit cobblers and crumbles. And yet another reason to use them.
  5. Paleo bread. I have been craving tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I need a paleo bread recipe so I can have the sandwich. And, then I can make other things, such as French toast. Yum.
  6. Paleo English muffins. Maybe I’ll make breakfast sandwiches. Not sure yet.
  7. Paleo pasta. Because, well, I miss pasta sometimes.

What new things do you want to learn to make?

Shannon

New Year Goal: Organize

Yesterday I posted a New Year goal about how I’m getting back to eating healthy after getting off track during the holidays. Today I want to let you know about another goal, and my theme word for the year.

ORGANIZE

Yup, by the end of the new year, I intend to be far more organized.

And not just in the kitchen or with cooking. I’m going to be organizing most aspects of my life. This is huge for me, as I’m not an organized person. But it is necessary, especially when living in such a small space.

You see, I rent a room. In that one room, I have sections: Bedroom, living room, office, pantry, kitchen. I’ve started the process, but still have a long way to go.

For the kitchen/cooking/pantry part of the organization goal, I’m looking to streamline some things, and to get things in order.

  • I’m turning my closet into a pantry. This closet is not huge, but it’ll hold cleaning products, personal hygiene needs, and food items.
  • I would also like to get a cabinet to put next to my door that will be a party of the pantry system.
  • I’m looking for a way to organize my spices and cooking/baking utensils so they don’t take up cupboard or counter space. Any ideas?
  • I want a couple of drawer units and a cupboard unit for dishes, cookware, etc. It can’t be too tall, because my toaster oven needs to sit atop the units. I’m thinking cube units will be the most efficient way to go.
  • I also want a new dorm-size fridge. One with a separate freezer. The little freezer in my current refrigerator holds next to nothing, and doesn’t keep food frozen well. The freezer in the fridge that I want is a little bigger. I’ve already learned I don’t need much refrigerator space. This will save me money in my future home. I wont need to buy a huge refrigerator, and a small one doesn’t use a much energy. I’ll keep a spare in the pantry for holiday use.
  • Putting together a system for tracking the recipes I want to try, and the recipes and tips I want to keep, is necessary. Any tips for these projects will be greatly appreciated!

Are you looking to organize your kitchen and recipes this year? What are your plans? Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Take inventory of the kinds of things you put in your kitchen and pantry. Is there a better way to organize things that will help to streamline your meal prep activities? What do you need to get to most often? And what do you need only occasionally? Make a list of how you might better organize these areas. Or draw a sketch.
  • Do you need organizers for the cupboards, drawers, pantry, and refrigerator? What might work in these areas? Make a list of things you can pick up to help get your space organized.
  • Print off a Master Inventory List.
  • Print off a Master Pantry Shopping List.
  • Go through all those loose recipes you have stashed here and there, and decide which ones you will really be trying. Organize them, and get rid of the rest.
  • Start organizing! Don’t wait, or you might not get to it. Plan to do something each week until you’re done, or plan a weekend to do everything.

Save money on organizers by:

  • Shopping yard and garage sales.
  • Utilizing clearance and other sales.
  • Checking out local thrift stores.
  • Shopping at the local dollar stores.

Happy New Year!

Shannon

New Year Goal: Getting Back to Eating Healthy

I must have gained 15 pounds this month, and I feel crappy to boot. I can’t claim to eat healthy 100% of the time, but usually I eat far healthier than I have in the past couple of months.

The holidays are rough, that’s for sure. All the delicious foods are so hard to say no to.

What is healthier for me? A mostly Paleo diet. Mainly vegetables, protein, and healthy fat, with a little fruit thrown into the mix. This is not a diet as many people use the term, but a lifestyle. Remember, a diet isn’t something you go on. It is how you eat daily.

Now, a Paleo lifestyle is not cheap, but I am trying and learning new things to help me save money when possible. Usually my hours are cut back during the winter months, meaning my food budget is next to nothing, but this year my boss tells me I’ll be working 40 hours each week. If this is true, I’ll have more money for groceries. Thank goodness! More money for experimenting with recipes. More money for regular meals. More money for healthy food, and not having to eat all the grains, sugars, and other stuff that causes me to gain weight.

My parents gave me $100.00 for Christmas, and I intend to put that money toward stock-ups for healthy eating this winter. After all, we all like pancakes and muffins sometimes. It’s just a matter of what ingredients are used when making them. So I want to stock up on things like:

  • almond flour
  • coconut flour
  • cocoa bliss
  • coconut oil
  • canned tomatoes
  • tomato paste
  • bakers cocoa
  • canned full-fat coconut milk
  • canned coconut cream
  • unsweetened coconut flakes

I lose weight and feel so much better when I’m following a Paleo lifestyle more closely.

What is healthy for you and your family? That depends on your health concerns and other things. Your doctor or a nutritionist should be able to help you figure it out. You owe it to yourself and your family to figure out what healthy is for you, and to change your recipes and menus up accordingly.

You don’t have to make one big change at the beginning of the year, especially if that means you wont stick to it. Why not try something new each month, continuing throughout the year with each one. You will make each a habit to carry with you into every year from here on out. Here are some suggestions:

January: Do you really need a bunch of fruit every single day? With the Paleo lifestyle, and a need to lose weight, I’ll only be having one fruit a day. Fruit has plenty of natural sugars, and I don’t need that much sugar when I’m trying to lose weight – natural or otherwise. If you’re not trying to lose weight, then more fruit is likely fine.

February: Are you getting enough vegetables? Even if you get two vegetables at the three meals every day, adding a side salad to lunch and dinner will give you a nutritional punch. These don’t have to be huge salads, and will help to make sure you’re getting enough produce.

March: Water is so important! Try drinking a lemon water each morning. Then a water with lunch, and one in between lunch and dinner. This may enough for you. A good rule of thumb with water is that you should be able to get all your food in throughout the day. If you’re drinking a lot of water each day and not feeling hungry enough at all three of the basic meals, you are likely drinking too much water. Eight glasses of water a day is not for everyone. Keep in mind, you’ll need more water during hot months.

April: Is juice necessary? No. It’s far better to have the fruit than the juice. If you really think you need the juice, be sure it has no added sugars. One-hundred percent juice is the way to go.

May: Is dairy really your friend? Being on the Paelo diet, you eliminate a lot of foods from your diet. Then you can reintroduce some things. During this process, I learned that milk and yogurt are not my friends, but I can tolerate cheese. However, cheese is not really part of the Paleo lifestyle Let’s just say I haven’t given cheese up completely, but I limit it. I rarely ever have it.

June: Did you take milk out of your diet and want to replace it with something else? I didn’t think I would like them, but I now drink almond, coconut, and cashew milks. Try one. One serving a day is good.

July: Cut out processed sugars, for the most part. I do use organic honey, maple syrup, and molasses (on rare occasion). I don’t use sweeteners a lot by any means.

August: Corn is not a vegetable. Not really. It is a grain. Please treat it as such.

September: Rethink grains, particularly if you’re trying to lose weight. And don’t be fooled by wheat products. They may not be as healthy for you as they are supposed to be. Still want pasta, breads, and brownies? Think almond and coconut flours. There are non-grain options that taste great.

October: While my favorite dessert item is not 100% Paleo/healthy, it is tasty and easy to make. If you have the money you can get healthier versions of chocolate chips, but I don’t have that kind of money. This treat keeps me from eating a whole slew of very-bad-for-me desserts, so I’m keeping it.

No-Bakes: Melt chocolate chips with a tablespoon of organic coconut oil. Chop almond slivers up a little finer, and give some dried fruit a chopping as well. Add these two ingredients along with unsweetened coconut flakes to the melted chocolate. Make sure all the goodies are coated, then drop by the tablespoon on to parchment paper and allow the no-bakes to set up. Yum! Store in a container in the fridge. I’m sorry, I don’t measure these ingredients.

November: Be sure each meal and snack has a vegetable, some protein, and a little healthy fat. A good snack might be a carrot or celery, a hard-boiled egg, and a tablespoon of cocoa bliss.

December: Make sure each get-together includes a vegetable platter or two!

Tips for saving money while eating healthier:

  • If you are cutting back on fruit intake, you’re saving a little money.
  • You’re also saving money on processed foods that can go toward healthier foods.
  • I can’t afford all organic foods, by any means, but I do buy organic when I can.
  • I rarely ever am able to afford organic meats. I don’t let it bother me. I’ll still be eating healthier than when I’m consuming all the dairy, sugar, and grains.
  • Peanuts are not nuts. They are legumes. If you are on the Paleo diet, you aren’t allowed legumes. You’ll save money by not buying peanut butter, beans, etc.
  • Figure out what healthy brands of foods are sold at the stores you frequent, then go online to look up their websites. Sign up for coupons. Use coupons only when it will save you money.
  • Combining coupons with sales saves even more money.
  • Wal-Mart has organic herbs in pots. Place them on a windowsill and use them in place of dried herbs. This will save you a lot.
  • Start an organic garden in the spring.
  • Save leftovers, even if it is only a tablespoon or two of something. Freeze what you wont use right off.

Happy New Year!

Shannon