Taking a Hard Look at My Food Budget

Oh boy! For the better part of this year, my mission has been to get our food bill to feed the family within a reasonable number. But as we started The Great Salad Experiment, I saw the numbers going by $40 a week and I was like whaaaaa! No! No! No! No! No! $40 more a week for good might not sound like much, but when you add that up over the course of a year, that’s over $2,000!

I needed to find a way to get back close to where I was before because spending that much money on food when I knew I could eat well for less didn’t make sense to me. So far, here’s what I was doing:

Continue reading “Taking a Hard Look at My Food Budget”

Setting Up for The Great Salad Experiment

I’m that person who starts a new path by purchasing supplies. My house is littered with everything from bellydance hip scarves from that time I was obsessed with bellydancing over a decade ago  to the nut milk bags I bought a few months ago when I started making almond milk a few months ago. The Great Salad Experiment was no different. 

If you’re after the backstory of how this Great Salad Experiment, you can read about that in this post where I share How The Great Salad Experiment Started. 

Now onto the shopping spree shall we!

Getting Salad Kitchen Supplies

My kitchen is pretty stocked with the basics—good knives, chopping board, Vitamix, etc,—but there were some things I felt the need to stock up on to succeed at my great salad experiment. 

Breakfast Salad Bowls

My first purchase were the LunchBlox® Salad Kits made by Rubbermaid. I used the LunchBlox® system to make sure I had enough food to eat when I was pregnant with Riley, and I’ve used them in one incarnation or the other to take lunch to work every day. So it was a no-brainer to get their salad kit. 

LunchBlox ® Kit via Rubbermaid

It’s got a:

  • Salad dressing container that allows me to keep the dressing off the veggies till you’re ready…yay to zero soggy salads.
  • Top compartment to keep crunchy toppings that I’d love to keep crunchy till I’m ready to eat the salad and meat that I can heat up in the microwave to give me something warm in my otherwise cold salad.
  • 3-cup bowl that contains a perfect breakfast portion of salad when the top compartment is on. It’s bigger if I don’t use the compartment.

Salad Spinner

It turns out the key to keeping salad greens fresh and crunchy in the fridge for days is a salad spinner or a copious amount of paper towels to dry the veggies before storing. I’m not a fan of making a big mess in the kitchen and something about using so many paper products only to discard them didn’t sit right with me, so I opted to buy the Oxo Good Grips Spinner.

Oxo Good Grips Salad Spinner via Oxo

It’s worked like a charm so far because:

  • Salads are washed clean and dried
  • Having a cool tool keeps my son engaged…he loves making salads.

Lunch Salad Bowls

Then I bought larger lunch salad bowls. One of the things hubby identified as critical to our success with The Great Salad Experiment @ Lunch was larger portions, I agreed. While I could’ve gotten the same bowls as we already had for breakfast, I didn’t want to hinge our success on baking rolls to go with our salad every day (don’t nobody got time for that)!

I purchased my large salad bowls from Target, but couldn’t find the specific container online. But it was similar in size and layout to this Bentgo container on Amazon.

Giant Bowls for Vegetable Storage

Finally, I grabbed two large capacity storage bowls as well so I could store all the greens I washed and dried. I’d discovered via an article from The Kitchn that the best way to store the veggies when they’re dry is putting them in a bowl layered with paper towels is the way to go…check the article out to see for yourself if you’re interested in the other methods they tried and the outcome.

I Used My Fave Salad Kits

Ideally, I wanted to make the salads at home because I believed the maxim that making it at home is cheaper. But there’s something to be said for using salad kits in the mix—they are convenient and give you hassle-free variety. While all major grocery stores in America have salad kits, I love the ones I get at my local Trader Joe’s. 

My favorites are:

  • Southwestern Chopped Salad Kit: The cojita cheese really adds a mild but crave-worthy flavor to the salad. 
  • Veggies & Greens Kit: I never thought I’d be a fan of a salad with cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, but between the dressing that comes with this kit and the freeze dried pears, I’m in love.

And I Used My Fave Recipe Site for 

While I stuck to the Salad Kits for breakfast, I did choose to make our lunch salads using recipes that I’d found on the internet. For the first few weeks, the recipes I made came exclusively from Once Upon a Chef. Jenn Segal, the classically-trained chef and cookbook author behind the site is a culinary genius. 

I found her website when I was looking for a baked pasta recipe earlier in the year and I landed on her yummy Baked Ziti. Since then, I’ve made her:

  • Vietnamese-Style Meatballs: When the chef’s husband calls these flavor bombs, he is not wrong. The meatballs are amazing and are a protein that I make specifically for lunch salads.
  • Middle Eastern Chicken: These kebabs are absolutely yummo and go great on salads too. 
  • and Roasted Carrots with Thyme: Oh boy are the roasted carrot recipes great? I’ve made two different roasted carrot recipes from her collection and she makes carrots taste like candy!

Anyway, I just spent an entire paragraph talking about how delicious her recipes are…that’s why I knew her website was the place to start. Within in the first three weeks of the experiment I tried the following recipes:

Once Upon A Chef was my salad sherpa for the first two weeks before I felt ready to go it on my own and start experimenting with recipes to bring the costs of the salads and the overall food bill down. With that said…

All this was Well and Good, but it Cost a Bit of Money

With each thing I try, there’s an initial infusion of cash, but that spending ends up being spread out over time as I get better at executing…The Great Salad Experiment was no different. 

In next week’s article, I’ll be sharing how went about putting The Salad Experiment on a budget. Did I succeed? Tune in next week to find out.

Photo for Blog Graphic by Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

How The Great Salad Experiment Started

How The Great Salad Experiment Started

At the end of September, hubby was going to be out of town for the entire week and it didn’t make sense to cook different dinners for the kids and I for each of the six days he was gone. Plus, I didn’t want to spend my entire weekend prepping meals…that would have started me off exhausted and frazzled come Monday!

So the question became: How do I prep enough healthy dinners and lunches to cover me from Sunday to Friday?

Continue reading “How The Great Salad Experiment Started”

What Does it Take to Stick Your Goal?

What Does it Take to Stick Your Goal

The handstand was my goal for the longest time.

It took me forever to learn how to do it in the middle of the room. One of the reasons that the handstand eluded me for so long was that I was going too fast. I have been practicing yoga for almost eight years now, and most of the handstand-based classes that I have taken so far have been more focused on playing with momentum.

While this is a great way to [eventually] get there, it Continue reading “What Does it Take to Stick Your Goal?”