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Banana Custard

28 Sep

After my hair appointment this morning, I came home to get cracking on more sorting and organizing after donating so much last week.

My task was to go through my magazines.  I had a stack of favorite magazines that I wanted to save because of recipes or articles I wanted to keep, but it was getting to be to much.  So, I went through each one and tore out the recipes I wanted to keep before recycling them out of our apartment.

This was a tiring job, but it’s finally done.

When Ed got home, I started mentioning how hot it was outside and I wish the fall weather would just stick around already.  He gave me a weird look and said, “it is cool outside?”  He put his hand on my head, I took my temperature and it’s official, I’ve come down with some kind of bug.

Though I still feel okay, my energy is down and I’m burning up.  So, dinner was simple and sick friendly.

The soup was just plain comforting and the sandwich was packed with fresh deli turkey I picked up from Wegman’s this morning, a slice of provolone cheese and fresh mushrooms.  I sided that with the rest of the baby carrots.

Banana Custard

Last night, Ed and I were discussing our love for ice-cream.  He could eat plain vanilla ice-cream everyday while I love, well, lets just say I never met a flavor of ice-cream I didn’t like.

Truth be told, half gallons of ice-cream don’t last long in this house, so we don’t buy them often.  We have thought of alternatives throughout the summer besides buying expensive half gallons of ice-cream.  One of my favorite alternatives also coincides with my love for bananas.

First take 2 frozen bananas and pulse them in your food processor.

Once pulsed, add a splash of milk and pulse again till smooth.

Creamy!

Add flavorings as desired and mix well.  Examples include vanilla extract or cocoa powder.  I chose cocoa powder.  Chocolate is always the best choice, in my opinion 😉

That’s it!  This was the perfect snack tonight for my overheated body and it was inexpensive.  My sweet tooth was satisfied with the sweetness of the bananas and my waistline will feel much better in the morning.

Try it. You’ll love it!

What’s your favorite flavor of ice-cream? 

What foods do you crave when your not feeling your best?

The Lunch Box

19 Sep

Am I the only one that actually imagines their thighs blasting away when I do a lower body workout?

No one?

Forget I mentioned it, but today’s lunch workout was nothing short of a burning blast to the legs.

Let’s just say that my walk had a little swagger when I was done and I’m not even going to comment on going down the stairs.

I started with 5 minutes on the elliptical to get my legs moving.  I used two 5 lb. weights for the lunges and a 10 lb. weight for the plie squats.  I ended with a long inner and outer thigh stretch.

The Lunch Box

For as long as I can remember, I have a packed lunch when eating away from home for work or school.  When I was younger, I would beg my mother to buy lunch like many of the kids around me, but as I got older, things changed.

Eating out every day is expensive ya’ll!  In addition, usually full of unnecessary calories and the closest restaurants around my place of work are at least 10 minutes one way.

While I have got creative over the years, there are some necessary elements to my daily packing lunch routine.

First and foremost…PROTEIN!

I am one hungry girl on a regular basis.  PB&J’s are fantastic, but they won’t hold me through the afternoon.  Six small meals a day is a common practice and since my schedule often has me working out at lunch, I need to refuel, stat!

Most of today’s lunch.

Common Main Courses: Salad with meat (chicken, deli meats, fish, you name it, they have all made it into my salad), Sandwich flat breads/wraps loaded with deli meats and veggies, chicken breasts (cold, warm, BBQed, pulled)  its a perfect start.

Other appearances: Canned soup and baked potatoes.  Warm meals for the winter months are appreciated. Hard boiled eggs are great for post workouts too when I have them.

Next up, another staple, yogurt.  I usually try to stick with fruity Greek yogurt since it’s filling and has major staying power for the afternoon, but I’ll never give up my love for Yoplait (Key Lime is my absolute favorite!)

Fruit and Veggies: Somehow these usually last throughout the afternoon.  I munch on carrots, red peppers and celery (my cubicle can get pretty noisy) on a regular basis, with a side of hummus or sun butter.  So, so tasty.  Fruits are great too, but they don’t hold the filled feeling to me as long as veggies.

Water: Since my workouts take place post-lunch time, it’s a necessity.  I drink up a whole bottle in no time.

Desserts or snacks are rare in my lunch these days, but today I put two WhoNu chocolate chip cookies in there and considered lunch a masterpiece for the day thanks to their addition.  Who doesn’t love cookies?

Side Note: I have ALWAYS ate my lunch in the order of main dish, sides and THEN dessert.  Even as a child I would watch my friends rip in to their dessert first thing and I never did.  Is that strange?

While this is pretty typical day, leftovers are also a favorite when my timing is off in the morning.  Those are the days that lunch just can’t come fast enough!

What’s in your lunch box?

I’m in the market for a new lunch box.  The above lunch box was a quick Amazon buy a year and a half ago and it’s pretty much on its last legs.  I’m loving this one in Mocha Rouge or this one in Organic Poppy.  What do you think?

P.S. Have you liked Sand Between My Sneakers on Facebook yet? LIKE ME!  I’ll like you back 😉

Spaghetti Squash

17 Sep

One of my more inventive ways to save money on groceries is to have at least one to two meatless dinners a week.  While it’s only two of us, meat does take away a lot of our food budget sometimes.

Spaghetti squash has become a favorite fall dish in our house.  I made it for the first time last year after seeing it introduced on a fitness program and was intrigued at the ease of it.  I was a new wife learning how to cook for two and when I came home with a squash and told my new husband, we were having spaghetti, he was skeptic.

It turned out great and I’m excited that we’re back in season for a healthy “spaghetti” dish for the next couple months.  Spaghetti squash is great for special diets such as paleo and gluten free or if you’re simply watching your calorie and carb intake.

For more nutritional facts about spaghetti squash, check out this website.

How to Make Spaghetti Squash

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill a baking pan with a shallow amount of water.

Cut the spaghetti squash long ways and scoop seeds.  Place squash on water filled pan, skin down and put in preheated oven for 45 minutes.

While baking prepare your favorite homemade pasta sauce or semi-homemade pasta sauce.

I chose the semi-homemade route.

Classico Roasted Garlic Sauce, fresh mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, oregano and garlic powder

When 45 minutes has passed, remove the spaghetti squash and let cool.  The outside of the squash will be HOT!  Trust me on this one 😉

Once cool, take a fork and shred the inside of a squash to resemble spaghetti.

Add your sauce and a sprinkle of cheese and you have a low carb, low calorie “spaghetti” meal.

You may also consider adding salt, pepper or butter for a different taste or a side dish.  Some also have suggested that it is good with a taste of brown sugar for some added sweetness.

Enjoy!

How do you cut down on meat prices?

In My Cart – Harris Teeter

24 Aug

As I have pointed out before, I enjoy saving money using coupons and shopping sales for everything.  Not only do my husband and I save money for school, a down payment on our first home, and fun times to be had, the thrill of savings a serious amount of money is actually a lot of fun to me.  Seeing our savings grow and “shopping our cabinets” for dinner instead of spending our time rushing to the supermarket or wasting time (and calories) on take out is essential for this house.

Growing up, my mom was consistent with preparing healthy and balanced meals on a daily basis.  We always had to drink our milk (which I would often fight) and any other drink was not acceptable.  It’s something I appreciate now and implemented in our daily dinners as well.

I went to Harris Teeter this week for fresh produce and yogurt on the brain.  In addition, I was on the search for some special ingredients for a super-secret anniversary dessert this weekend for my husband.  The stereotype with using coupons is that they are all for products “people don’t use, don’t need or unhealthy items”.  This week was not a week we needed to worry about meat as we are stocked up quite nicely for a while on that.  In addition, I had to keep in mind that we were leaving for Ohio next Thursday for the long weekend.

“We can’t come back to fuzzy grapes now can we?”

My cart after I came home.

The above picture before coupons and sales would have cost $93.82.  Coupons and sales applied, it cost me out of pocket, $38.75.  In addition, I received $2.00 off my next order which brings my final total to:

$36.75!  A 60.83% savings!

I’m already saving for the next shopping trip.

My cart included:

Everyday Foods – 10 Yoplait yogurts, 2 bags of whole wheat bagels

Fresh Fruit – grapes, peaches, apples, plums, bananas, watermelon (not all pictured)

Vegetables – corn on the cob, bagged salad, sweet onion

Meal Items – 2 boxes of mussels, lunch meat

Snacks – 3 boxes WhoNu chocolate chip cookies, goldfish (I didn’t plan on getting these, but this is an inside joke between Ed and I and they were on sale), Fiber One brownies, 4 boxes of Simply Go Gurt (We like to eat these frozen)

Baking Items/Misc. – Cream of Tartar (for a special anniversary dessert I’m planning), brown sugar, white vinegar, plain gelatin

Check out that price…Ouch!

For just under $37, I think I did pretty well.  I’m no “Extreme Couponer”, but I do believe that I can live a pretty healthy lifestyle saving on items other than mustard, cereal and candy (common coupons).

So, there is my cart breakdown for this week.

Now I ask you…

“What’s in your cart this week?”

Freebie Friday

17 Aug

After my morning post, I spent the early afternoon running some errands and cashing in on some birthday freebies that came in last month.

First stop, Columbia Mall.  I am not a fan of the mall mostly.  We still have some gift cards from our wedding nearly a year ago and I had some birthday gifts cards that I received.  I thought I’d try and “declutter” and use them up.

“Shouldn’t be to difficult, right?”

Wrong!  The reason I am not a fan of malls is because I’m a terrible shopper.  I second guess everything and I’m very budget savvy.  So, when I realized that most of the stores I was going to usually have coupons every other week (Macy’s, Bath and Body Works) I decided to wait.  I did cash in on a couple girly freebies though.

Aveda and Victoria’s Secret

The Aveda was a “Free Full Size Product” for my birthday and the Victoria’s Secret was a Free “No Purchase Necessary” item.  Does anyone else get these as much as I do?  I’m not complaining, but I get these seriously every other month.  The Aveda product is a “total body cleansing wash” that was infused with lavender citrus.  Oh, and it smells so, so good!

Next stop, Dunkin Donuts for my Free Birthday Drink!  Silvia was my cashier and she was very serious about me trying the iced latte after I asked for iced tea.  After this mornings smoothie, I wasn’t feeling the coffee.  She then switched to the Coolata and I accepted with the choice of Strawberry.

“Free Strawberry!”

I have to say, Silvia knew what she was talking about!

“I approve this beverage.”

Last stop was Wegmans for a little shopping for the weekend.  The Wegmans by us just opened this summer and they keep sending free product coupons in the mail.  I needed bananas and peppers and find they are the cheapest there, so I made the trip.

IMAG0161.jpg

The above picture cost out of pocket, $13.71.  The breakdown worked out like this:

  • Basil Vinaigrette Dressing – Free w/ $10 purchase
  • Wegmans Romaine Salad Mix – Free w/ $10 purchase
  • Mega Pack of Red Peppers – $5.49 (At my other grocery store, these are 2/$5 on sale.  Wegmans price is 6/$5.49 and they taste great!)
  • (4) Wegmans Greek Yogurts – After $1/4 coupon, $2.56 or $.64 each
  • A Bunch of Bananas – $1.40 (At my other grocery store, these are $.69/lb. Wegmans price is $.49/lb.  Yes, the price makes a difference for me.  I go through a lot of bananas!)
  • Wegmans Vanilla Ice Cream and (3) 16 oz. bags of frozen veggies – $4.46 for all four products after $1/$5 of frozen food products

I love coupon shopping and considered starting a couponing blog like the so many that are out there.  However, those men and women work hard!  There are so many great deals out there and I love learning from them, but coupon blogging is not for me.  I’m going to stick with lifestyle blogging instead.  Here are a couple of my all time favorite coupon blogs:

  • The Krazy Coupon Lady – Great reference for pharmacy stores, big box stores (like Target and Walmart) and certain grocery stores.
  • Couponing to Disney – Great ideas on how to use the money saved from couponing to pay off debt or saving for your next family vacation.
  • The Frugal Girls – Great at home savings tips and tricks.

I am a firm believer that buying things you need and will use with coupons and stocking up is okay because it frees up the money in the grocery budget you need for your fresh items.

“Like more bananas!”

Once I was done shopping this afternoon, I came home to knock out my assignments for this week so I can enjoy the rest of my weekend school free!

Tonight I have some personal business to attend to that I have been putting off.

Cheers to the weekend!

Question of the Afternoon:

How do you cut cost at the grocery store?

Date Night – The Dark Knight Rises

12 Aug

Last night, Ed and I enjoyed a nice frugal night out.  We still had two free movie tickets left from a Groupon deal we cashed in on months ago and decided it was time to go see “The Dark Knight Rises”.  In addition, AMC was running a promo for 50% off their combo #1 or combo #2 (Double Score!).  Total for two movie tickets, a large popcorn and a large drink = $6.75.  It’s like music to two graduate students ears.

Beach Saturday Movie Review:  Batman – The Dark Knight Rises

When I was young, my parents used to own some of the Batman movies and my favorite was always the one with Catwoman (Batman Returns, Catwoman played by Michelle Pfeiffer).  So, I was more then excited to see her return in Anne Hathaway form.  She was fantastic!  I am more of a fan then before.

http://thegrio.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/anne-hathaway-is-catwoman.jpg?w=550

(Source)

Batman: “No guns, no killing.”
Catwoman: “Where’s the fun in that?”

In fact, all the actors kept me interested this time around from Batman to the detective and even the judge.  Very well selected group of actors.  I am officially a new Joseph Gordon-Levitt fan after this film.  Christian Bale, who?  Just kidding!  Coming from a person that is not as familiar with the comics as the average superhero lover, this movie kept me guessing and excited the whole time.  I couldn’t stop talking about it on the ride home.

Ed made a comment about the villain, Bane.

https://i2.wp.com/www-deadline-com.vimg.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/bane1__111125075219.jpg

(Source)

“His voice didn’t really fit his character.”  Honestly, the movie was so good that I didn’t really notice.  The only thing I did notice about his voice was that I often couldn’t understand what he was saying.  Minor details.

Grade – A+

I can’t wait to see this movie again when it comes out on Blu-Ray.  Excitement and LOTS of surprises that left me wanting more!

Off to church this morning and then I’m going to park it in front of the computer and finish my assignments for the weekend.

Happy Sunday!

Question of the Morning:

Do you enjoy superhero movies, or are you over them?  Should Batman make more appearances in movies to come?

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