A day late, dollar short…isn’t that how the saying goes? What do they say about 3 days late? Oh man. I failed in my first week in more than one way!
If you can forgive the negligence, this is the first check-in for Movetober and I learned a lot during the first week of the month!
So when you’re traveling, exercising and eating well are immediately pushed to the back of your mind. It’s like your body knows that I left my general zip code so everything important is now historically archived until you return. Needless to say that when I was out of town for 2 days, all attempts at exercising was futile. And if I am going to be perfectly honest, day 3 didn’t happen either because I was mentally and physically drained.
Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t move or meet my calorie-burning goal, at least per my iWatch, but I certainly didn’t adhere to my planned regimen. In fact, I forgot to even pack workout attire -not that it would’ve mattered because I had zero unscheduled/leisure time.
So week 1 was a wash and when it came to check-in, I was so busy with all of the tasks that normally would’ve been done during my vacation that I was go-go-go from 8:30 AM till I passed out.
Now that I have admitted defeat and confessed, I am back on the bandwagon. I even increased my goal on my iWatch and am trying to wake up earlier to make sure that exercising isn’t forgotten – even when I come home late and exhausted. I am keeping myself honest and realizing that perhaps my goals were a bit more aggressive than what I can actually accomplish. So am I giving up? Nope. But I am going to make sure that I am staying honest and staying committed!
So inquiring minds want to know… Do you prefer at-home workouts or do you go to a gym? What regimen do you use in the gym or at home?
I personally need 8+ hours of sleep every night but for the longest time, barely clocked 6. This directly contributed to my stress levels which in turn led to my weight gain and kept the vicious cycle going. Additionally, the sleep deprivation had other consequences like communication issues with my husband and family, inability to focus, delayed reaction times, and so much more. I also knew this was impacting my weight. I knew my temper was shorter. I knew that other stressors were compounding the issue and I was getting sick more often than I should.
So I needed to make an adjustment on my sleeping habits. After some research and trial & error, I incorporated some key features to help me catch those elusive Zzzz’s. Below are the top 9 things I do to improve my sleep and overall well-being. I will try to link the products I use in case you are interested to give it a try for yourself – just remember that I am an Amazon junkie so most items are ordered!
Clean my space – I cannot sleep when the room is full of clutter so I always have to make sure that the room is clear. For example, all of the clothes have to be put away, the shoes are in the closet, and any puppy toys that may have migrated in are put in their play box. A decluttered room means a room with better air flow and a simpler and quieter space. I do take 10-15 minutes a day to clean up my space so there is never a daunting pile waiting for me.
Taking my nightly vitamins – Some people think that the only time you can take vitamins are with your morning coffee. Now there are some vitamins that should not be taken together as they counteract each other and prove to be less effective or altogether harmful. As far as I can remember, vitamin C acted like a sleeping pill for me – whether I took it in its natural form through eating an orange or as a part of a multivitamin ($11.10). I also take magnesium every other night to help my muscles and reduce muscle cramping. I bought mine from Amazon ($10.79)
Crank up my sound machine – This may sound silly for some but to clear my head and focus, I need to have my surrounding support my focus. Back in Florida, I had a sound machine that helped cancel out any TV sounds from my neighbors, the puppies trying to get attention, my husband typing away on his laptop, the fifth car alarm going off in the parking lot or the fire engine that just always seems to drive by when I was ready to call it a night. So when Amazon had a great lightning deal and I had the chance to replace the sound machine that I gave to my mom, I was thrilled! I did not have to use my phone anymore and could really disconnect. Mine was from Pure Enrichment and it is black and half the price of what I found is currently listed but it is a simple sound machine that takes up almost no space on my nightstand ($29.99).
Color – Yep, you read that correctly – almost every night, especially after a rough day, I will take 10-15 minutes to color with my colored pencils and mandala book. Like my sound machine, this helps me clear my head and stop focusing on events from the day. Plus it helps me build my patience because I was always that kid that colored everywhere BUT in the lines.
Pray – I am not the most religious person but ever since I was a child, I always had my nightly prayers. Sometimes it was for a sick relative, sometimes it was in vain and was for a delay on a school test, but whatever it was for, I always took the 5 minutes to pray. Maybe it was the ideaology of being a part of something bigger than oneself, or maybe it was something else, but having that informal connection with God is always a part of my night.
Complete my nightly skincare routine – I always make it a point to take off the day before I crawl into bed and prepare my skin for some TLC and repair. Though I will go into this into more detail in a future post, I always wash off all of my makeup, use a toner, apply a face oil, an eye cream, and a lip masque (especially now that I live in a very arid climate).
Complete my nightly dental routine – This is a given but I always make sure that I floss, brush, and rinse with mouthwash before going to bed. I also use my Invisalign guard but that is probably for another day. There have even been nights where I was so tired I passed out before brushing and will wake up, brush, and then go back to bed.
Moisturize – So beyond my face, I always take a few minutes to apply a moisturizer to my body and typically it has a lavender or chamomile scent to help lull me into a deep sleep. SLEEP – Lavender and Cedarwood Body Cream I also have Keratosis pilaris which is more commonly known as chicken skin or permanent goosebumps. The moisturizer I use for my upper arms help exfoliate and reduce the inflammation. I have bought Amlactin ($12.59) from Amazon, Walgreens, and most recently at Costco (which is the best deal) and would recommend you buy the small bottle first to test it out before the full commitment.
Set the room – I need to make sure that my room’s ambiance helps set the stage for a restful night so I draw my blackout curtains from Target (Rune Printed Heathered Blackout Panel) and fill the room with the scent of lavender which really helps me calm down and drift into a restful night. I have used the Febreeze brand with Mediterranean Lavender but recently switched to a more conscientious and inexpensive brand, Mrs. Meyers ($5.89) when I don’t have my essential oil diffuser on blast:
Each of these, though simple, help me turn my mind off and get ready for a quality night’s sleep. I do change things up every now and again as I find new ways, techniques, and products that aim to help with sleep. I also want to make sure that my techniques are not disruptive to guests or my husband or the doggies.
Inquiring minds want to know… What do you do to have a restful night? Do you have any tips or tricks that you find particularly helpful?
The air quality in California is no joke. Though it is one of the most strict states as far as emissions goes, especially living in the Central Valley, the air can be super saturated with pollutants. This is then coupled with lingering scents in the car from last night’s takeout or Fido’s accident or that afternoon you worked out a little too hard at the gym… So what do we typically do? We buy scents, sprays, and other noxtious chemicals to try and mask the odors and make the car ride more enjoyable – especially when you’re spending 5+ hours a week riding around.
So as a part of my health journey, I wanted to find a better way to make my car smell better, give me a little pick me up, and do my part to stop circling harmful chemicals around. I took a page from what I have started to do at home – switch out my chemical aerosols for natural water diffusers and essential oils, and decided that there had to be something equivalent for the car. I also wanted to find something that would help absorb the lingering scents between diffusing (because a girl needs to switch it up sometimes) and any stagnant smells from the Costco chicken I bought on my way home or the gym bag I forgot was in the backseat.
Turning to my trusty friend and my wallet’s archnemesis, Amazon, I found an inexpensive water-based diffuser for $12.99 (you can click here to purchase one yourself). It came with an extra cotton wick and very easy instructions. You need to use distilled or filtered water and whatever essential oil of your choice, but it should be water soluble. This is why I am so glad that I have been getting back into my DoTerra oils (thank you, Carrie) because I know they are quality and water soluable – they are not just scents but rather real oils made from real ingredients. Once filled, you plug it in your … wait, I am about to age myself here, cigarette lighter, lightly tap the “power” button and enjoy the ride! Plus, this is using water as a way to diffuse the oil so it adds some extra humidity which is GREAT for someone who is living in an area with percentages topping at 18 in the summer.
So for the rest of the time, I thought about what I was using for my fridge to help keep my ingredients longer and suck up some of the smells of the salmon or ham. While the one I have in my fridge is a little different (I’ll post about that soon – promise!), I found these charcoal-based air purifier bags. Just one of these in my car can absorb and neutralize the differnet scents, leaving it fresh and ready for my essential oils. The Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag that contains 200mg of natural bamboo charcoal that can be reset through direct sunlight and reused several times -up to two years. After the first hour of having this inside the car, the car already smelled like it had recently been vacuumed! And this was only $9.95 with prime shipping. The baggie itself has no scent and is small enough to fit in the door sill or between the seats.
I have used both of these in my husband’s older car and will be using it in mine. I am so happy to have these without having to purchase plugins or trees that last for a day or two at best.
So inquiring minds want to know… Do you have any healthy alternatives that you use in your car or home to help freshen up the environment? Do you use essential oils? What’s your favorite scent?
I cannot believe it has been one month since starting my journey to revive my hair! Last month, in my post about Hair Loss, I shared about my struggle to revive my hair after experiencing some major life stressors and changes with my health. Today is my check-in and I am eager to share updates with you.
Let’s recap what has been going on with me recently that has impacted my hair. Keep in mind that stressors that are happening at this point in time may not actually impact your hair for months to come. In fact, I have had numerous doctors ask me “what has happened in your life in the past six months?” to help deduce what is now showing physically.
In the past 9 months, so since 2019 started, I have had both of my parents have serious medical conditions and have life-saving operations. I got really sick in April. I stopped taking birth control and started taking prenatal vitamins to get my body ready for the future so my husband and I can try and start a family. My endometriosis resurfaced, most likely because I stopped taking artificial hormones. I lost 35 pounds. I passed my prospectus and have a tight timeline to finish my dissertation. We had a little financial hurdle to overcome – mostly contributed to our frequent trips to check on family across the country. Work – nothing else needs to be said about that. Our lease was expiring and our complex wanted to increase our rent by 12% which was beyond our means, especially for an apartment that wasn’t updated. Work.
I think that’s the gist of it – in retrospect, it’s not that bad but when you are actively going through it, it really seems like your world is crashing in and you cannot get a break.
If you read or re-read my post, you know I researched Nutrafol and took the plunge to start my journey with them. Coupled with my #four-a-day (the number of CORE vitamins you take), I continued with my scalp massages with Righteous Roots. I started a better diet. Continued to exercise (even started doing yoga routinely). Went to bed earlier and woke up earlier so I didn’t start the day stressed. Took time to decompress. Started hiking. Talked with my husband. Talked with my parents. Talked with my friends. I accepted that I am good enough – even with issues or valleys. And I took my supplements.
Low and behold – changes started to occur and the outlook is getting better! The more I took Nutrafol, even though those 4-a-day pills are no joke, and reinforced my CORE vitamins with stress combating supplements (I stopped those after month 1 for now), the more I noticed positive changes and they were not with just my hair. My nails have been growing like weeds. My skin is actually looking better than it did when I was in my 20s (though I continue to take collagen daily still). My weight has been steady but I have been finding muscles I didn’t know where hiding. Maybe TMI here but I am beyond “regular” now! I can sleep better. And yes, my hair has regrown!
I will continue to take these supplements and will do monthly check-ins. I would be remiss to mention that they have amazing customer service too – if I had questions, I would get an answer in less than 24 hours AND when I auto-delivery set up but still have a bottle from my erroneous ordering, they paused my account and refunded me so I don’t have multiple bottles collecting dust!
I am so excited to share on this journey. I know IG ads are great but when you are seeing it firsthand…I hope I can help you make an educated choice! Don’t forget to follow my new Instagram (@msbelladaniela) to see updates or live chats about my journey.
So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried Nutrafol or Righteous Roots? Are you experiencing hair health issues? Have you tried any other supplements that have improved your growth, thickness, or reduced shedding?
While everyone says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I say that lunch should be the biggest!
Some of you know that I am on a healthy journey and trying to lose some weight that stress, moving, and the holidays have all packed on. One of the changes I wanted to make was to take a page from the Mediterranean diet and make lunch my biggest meal. This helps me to eat and burn. In other words, I am not going to bed after eating a large meal and letting my body turn those calories into sugar which adds to those hips! By eating a larger meal at lunch, I am active for hours following which means those calories are absorbed as energy instead!
So one of the best things about living in California is the abundance of produce no matter what time of the year! After a trip to the grocery store this past weekend, I came home with a receipt that was way too long but managed to scoop out some great items! One of which was these amazing red bell peppers. So what to do with these sweet treats?
Stuffed Red Bell Peppers with Grounded Turkey and Basmati Rice
4 large green bell peppers
1½ teaspoons extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
6 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 pound lean ground turkey
1½ cups cooked basmati rice
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce, (1 cup), divided
1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt (add more to taste)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Make sure that your Basmati rice is cooked al dente. Remember that it will cook a little more in the peppers!
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Hollow out the peppers by cutting out stem ends of bell peppers; I saved the tops to put on top for decoration. Scoop out seeds.
Make sure the bottom of your large nonstick skillet is coated with olive oil. Heat the oil in over medium heat. Add onion, shallots, and garlic and cook, until the onions are soft (about 3-5 minutes). Add turkey mixing with the onions, shallots, and garlic, just until it looks brownish, about 2-4 minutes.
Add precooked Basmati rice and mix with turkey. Add 1 cup of tomato sauce and continue to mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Stuff the peppers with the mixture, leaving behind any fat and place them in an oven-safe dish like a 2-quart casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes to finish cooking the meat and rice mixture. Then cover and finish baking for 10-15 minutes until peppers are tender.
So inquring minds want to know… Are you going to try this recipe? Have you made something similar? Do you have any go-to meals that you make for dinner/lunch? Tag me on your IG if you try this recipe or your own variation of it – @ms_bella_daniela!
So to date, I have written about my experience to date with HomeChef, who I recently found out was hyped about by none other than Hillary Duff. I actually have a few updates since my last post from a couple of weeks ago (you can read it here), but this post is about a whole new company that I recently learned, researched, and took the plunge with! If you couldn’t tell already by the title, the company I am referring to is SunBasket.
First off, SunBasket is like HomeChef in that it is a cook-at-home meal delivery service. The ease in picking my dinners was great – they both even have apps for iOS and Android so you can make changes on the go. So what I want to do is a comparison of the two, with the caveat that I have not yet received my first order from SunBasket.
Let’s take a look at the next two weeks of recipes (this week I am doing HomeChef and next week SunBasket to test it out):
HomeChef (week of 9-16) Hot jalapeño jelly-glazed salmon with crispy onion asparagus Crispy salt and pepper shrimp with red bell pepper Chicken Kiev with parsley-garlic butter and green beans Greek Chicken & couscous with cucumber and feta Cotija-crusted pork chop with Spanish rice
SunBasket (week of 9-23) Spicy Greek shrimp with tomatoes, feta, and orzo Korean chicken japchae with glass noodles and vegetables Fettuccine Bolognese with garlic-sauteed baby broccoli Mediterranean lemon chicken Palermo steaks with warm fennel and tomato salad
Right off the bat, the menu selection from SunBasket is more cultural than HomeChef though I see HomeChef trying to make some bold choices!
Next, let’s compare prices, excluding any promotions: HomeChef – $99.50 for 5 meals, 2 servings ($9.95 per serving) SunBasket – $79.90 for 5 meals, 2 servings ($7.99 per serving)
So there is a cost-saving for SunBasket over HomeChef on a weekly basis. Now SunBasket’s prices do increase if you order fewer meals per week ($9.99 per serving when you order 2 meals; $8.99 per serving when ordering 3 meals). However, for the sake of not having to worry about meals during the workweek AND comparing evenly, we are doing 5 meals per week.
How about add-ons? What are add-ons, you ask? Well, let’s say you want to have some lunch meals or snacks OR you really liked the sauce you got in one of the meals and want to order more… HomeChef add-ons vary week to week, but usually, consist of 2 salads, smoothies and protein packs (like extra meat or chicken). SunBasket add-ons seem to be more plentiful. They actually break down their orders into Dinners, Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Proteins, and Pantry. Under breakfast, there are 5 options for egg bites, yogurt, oatmeal, granola, bread and spreads, juices, and coffee/tea. Under lunch, they have salads, soups, noodle bowls, and flatbreads. Snacks consist of dips, snackable veggies, nuts, crackers, sweets, jerky, and bars (think fig bars). The protein section is fairly self-explanatory but you can buy extra meats, chickens, fish, or vegetarian options! For the pantry, you can buy fresh kinds of pasta, sauces, oils, soups, large flatbreads, and coffees.
What a difference! I mean, I don’t see myself needing to buy a salad BUT it seems like I can really do my grocery shopping through SunBasket if I plan ahead.
Now, what about quality? SunBasket’s main selling point, especially to someone that isn’t subscribed, is that they are an organic company which means you can eat clean and organic – great for my Paleo friends! You can also customize your menu more so than with HomeChef. You can select a plan if you are paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free…or you can mix it up. With HomeChef, their ingredients are fresh but it is not are not always organic – I don’t always run to organic so it doesn’t quite bother me very much.
Overall I am waiting to see what next week’s box looks like as it’ll be my first with SunBasket! This may be a game-changer OR I will bounce back and forth depending on the meal selections. Either way, I have to say that these are some great options to try in order to save money, time, and the stress of having to cook something new every night!
So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried any cook-at-home meal delivery companies? Are you interested in an unboxing of SunBasket’s delivery? Are you interested in signing up for one of the two mentioned above?
So let’s get to the real reason for this post since I know a few of my English major friends are cringing as they read on… Moving to the Central Valley of California, saying that the summer weather is hot and dry is one of the understatements of the year. There are days were the humidity does not even hit double digits though the thermometers are reading 105 degrees Fahrenheit easily. So coming here and trying to survive my first summer after spending 5+ years in Florida, and New Jersey before that, well my skin was in for a surprise. So I had to find a fix and fast because my face was experiencing dryness, flaking, redness, itchiness…the whole gambit. And to make matters worse, my skin is super sensitive so it was not like I could go to Walgreens and pick up the first moisturizer on sale and call it a day. I had to research, test, and even cross my fingers a little to find something that worked! And I could not just stop at my facial skin, but I had to do something about my chapped lips and even my under eyes. That’s when a trip to Sephora and Ulta led me to my top 3 tried and true products.
Now I am getting compliments on my skin, its radiance, how smooth it feels…and my makeup, when I want to wear any, goes on smooth. I am very grateful to have found my signature three products and while I do test others and have a few items I use seldom, these are the three that I keep returning to!
This lip mask is not the same as your Eos balm or the Chapstick on your nightstand -that I can promise you. This lip mask is very thick which is why the little spatula is included. It goes on very nicely, has a very minimal fragrance at first application and is not sticky. It usually lasts the whole night for me and when I wake up in the morning, I wipe it off and my lips are hydrated and supple! My husband even tries to steal some of the product here and there! I do not use this every night but can if necessary (like in winter months). I have had this now for 4 months and it is about 1/4 of the way used so even though you get less than 1 ounce, this product will last a very long time.
This water based eye cream has helped take my under eyes from dry and itchy to moisturized and healthy. This has even helped fade my dark circles. It claims to work for 26-hours and I have to say that while that is false, this does work through the night and into the next morning. On particularly trying days, and often some dehydration or stress, when my eyes are particularly puffy or dry, this also lasts throughout the day. As an occasional contact lens wearer, with seasonal allergies as well, this product has not once irritated my eyes even when I cheat and put some under my eyebrows.
Now I know you are sitting there saying “Didn’t she say all of two paragraphs earlier that she has sensitive skin so why would she use an oil?” Well, sensitive skin actually responds best to minimal ingredient products with less fragrances and additives, so an organic facial oil is one of the best things to use.
Okay but what if I told you that I also have combination to oily skin? I shouldn’t use this product repeatedly then, right? I must get breakouts! So nope on all accounts! This oil is fine and light enough that it does not clog pores, does not have added fragrances (so no it does not smell like old lady perfume), and it helps keep my skin balanced so there is no over production of oil.
This oil also helps fight free radicals and even has a more concentrated version available at Ulta. I only have to use three drops for my cheeks and nose, three drops for my forehead and chin, and three drops for my neck (yes, my neck gets some love too) so a little goes a long way! This then lasts all night and I can either wipe it off in the morning for any excess left behind or just add my BB cream on top and call it a day!
So inquiring minds want to know… What products are your top 3 skin care products? Have you tried any of the ones I mentioned? Comment below or tag me in your IG posts and stories – @ms_bella_daniela!
Let’s take a second to think about our daily list of to-dos. For a good percentage of us, there is family, work, household (includes the cooking, cleaning, and upkeep), friends…and in some cases like mine, school. So what is the one thing we have forgotten? Ourselves.
It isn’t uncommon to put everything and everyone over ourselves thinking that when our cup runneth over with helping others, that is all we need. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Plus with technology consuming the majority of our lives from the television to our cell phones, it is so easy to lose track of time and end up in a downward spiral of YouTube videos or Amazon shopping. Dare I say that some of us even feel guilty, or are made to think that putting ourselves first is selfish.
There have been many times that I have ‘crashed’ or ‘burned out’ because of the fact that I have given over 100% of myself to everything else in my life. Eventually, my body, my spirit, my mind -they all shut down because you can only run on adrenaline for so long before you putter out -just like a car without a full tank of gasoline. And yet I repeatedly find myself starting the vicious cycle after I recuperate – seemingly never learning my lesson!
However, I am the first to admit that if I am not taking care of myself first, then everything else will topple over like a bad tower of Jenga blocks. So I have started to incorporate some self-care techniques to help myself be a better me – all at no cost which makes it an easier pill to swallow if you will. While these may not be appropriate for everyone, they have been working for me and those around me – I have even received feedback that people have noticed a change in me!
1 – Incorporate sleep. Simple enough, right? Well, do you know how many hours your body needs to feel optimal? I personally need between 8-9 hours of sleep -any less and I am a shell of myself; any more and I actually am sluggish. So I have my phone set with a reminder on when I need to be asleep by, give myself a 30-minute buffer to take care of my nighttime routine, and am in bed. This took a long time to get used to the routine, especially when I am submerged in a great Netflix movie, doing homework, or spending time with friends/family. But I know that without my proper sleep, I am not myself so I force myself to make sleep my number one self-care tactic.
2 – Exercise daily. Sounds insane, right? We are always complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day but if you think about the fact that there are 1,440 minutes in a day, making 30 for exercise doesn’t seem so bad. Now I am not saying you have to go to the gym every day or become a triathlon athlete, but if we can make it a point to do some form of exercise every day, you are helping promote a better self. Exercise is proven to have long term benefits with reducing heart disease, reducing weight, and so much more. But think about reducing stress – 30 minutes of brisk walking to clear your head after a long day or 30 minutes of low impact yoga before your day starts to start off on the right foot… This will also help your body catch up to your mind and help establish proper sleep at the day’s end – just don’t start to exercise less than 2 hours before bed!
3 – Learn that saying “no” is healthy. So often we are told that “no” is essentially a bad word. We should always say “yes” and welcome the responsibilities. But think about the last time you said “no” to someone or something…did the world stop? Saying “no” sometimes can be self-empowering because you are taking control of your self, your actions, your choices. And this gives you the opportunity to reassess what you are saying “yes” to before making the promise for one…more…thing. Saying “no” could also help prevent burnout because you are not adding yet another event, assignment, or chore to your plate.
4- Schedule “me” time. Just like you schedule a meeting, schedule time dedicated to just you. So you can paint, knit, read, sew, meditate, or whatever you want during that time but it is your dedicated time. Start with just 15 minutes and adjust as necessary. This is the time that is exempt from anything else but you. I have personally made some time at the start of my day, waking up earlier so I can get my time to do whatever I need to – check my emails, respond to text messages, read, exercise, meditate or try to map out the winning lottery numbers (a girl can dream). I then dedicate 15 minutes at the end of the day to recap, plan, and reflect.
5- Use positive language. So what does that mean? Well, let me ask you a simple question – how do you describe yourself when something didn’t go as planned? Do you say: “I am so stupid”? Or how about when you need to describe yourself physically? Do you say: “I am overweight.” or “My hair is messy” or “I feel frumpy”? This is all negative language and it feeds into a cycle of unhealthy behavior. Changing the negative adjective for something more positive can lift you up and alter perception. So “I am so stupid” becomes “I am going to ask for help” or “I can try this again”. You can do this with others too – instead of saying “I’m sorry for being late” try saying “Thank you for waiting for me”; this cuts the negativity and acknowledges positive actions!
Sure there are plenty more steps that we can take to start to take better care of ourselves, but this is not a marathon -it’s a journey. So every step towards better self-care, improved mental health, improved physical health…that is what matters! And sometimes finding a frugal way to make those improvements are even better!
So inquiring minds want to know… What do you do for self-care? Do you have any other techniques to share? How do you make time for yourself?
So back on August 20th, I wrote about a way that I am trying to cut back on excessive spending when it comes to my groceries, reducing waste with unused food, and reallocating time that was previously spent running from store to store. Well, 2 weeks in and going on to week 3, I wanted to share an update! Also, I want to add that this is not sponsored.
When I posted about HomeChef in my New Take on Groceries post, I wasn’t sure what to expect – honestly. I grew up with a mom that worked fulltime but also cooked every week. She taught me to love cooking and that the kitchen is all about organized chaos. She taught me that a little of this and a pinch of that were real measurements for ingredients. She taught me that the kitchen is the heart of the home. And with all of those lessons, I learned about cultural foods, how to basically cook for an army (I am having a really hard time cooking for just 2), and how cooking can bring people together. So when I decided to take a leap into these pre-planned meals, I thought I was shaming my up-bringing. I was not going out and buying my groceries, one cucumber at a time. I was not examining my produce or selecting that portioned ground beef (you know, the one that was priced $6.98 and not $7.02). I was not coming up with my own concoctions. I was not experimenting or playing with food. I honestly felt slightly ashamed.
But I knew I had to do something to help my husband and I cut down on cost, cut down on overindulgence, and reallocate time that has become so precious and so limited (working fulltime, going to school fulltime, and managing some personal side projects really take a toll). So I told myself that this is an experiment so the scientist in me could rationalize the change and took the plunge.
As I mentioned, my first order was curtesy of a promotion code and subsequent orders would cost a bit more but still be less than what we normally would spend on just the groceries themselves. I did a breakdown in my earlier post (you can find it here). So to date, these are the expenses we have incurred for any and all groceries:
Now, I have to admit that some of the local grocery shopping was for our pups who eat home-cooked food which we mix with their kibble, but for the sake of the cost analysis, we will include it. Additionally, there were some expenses that were for work functions, but I cannot find that recent and it was partially reimbursed so we will exclude that. I also excluded non-food items like hand soap, detergents or aluminum foil (Costco for the win though). Also, I had cooked a storm before we started this so we had a LOT of food in the freezer so, for those 2 days when we didn’t have a HomeChef meal, we still had food without having to go out to eat or scramble for last-minute ingredients.
So if we look at what I had predicted for expenses for a month, we will go over $500 in groceries BUT we have had less waste, less time spent shopping (hence my weekend of homework), less gas running from store to store, and less stress during the week. In fact, I opened my fridge this morning and realized it was basically empty – and by empty, I mean full of milk, eggs, and those other staples but not full of food in every Pyrex we own.
Yes, we still have to make some additional improvements but overall, this is still a savings for us. On a given month, we could easily surpass $600 in groceries alone.
Now, let’s talk about the food itself.
I am still feeling guilty about not having my mother’s recipes sprawled about the counter or making up my own concoctions, but I have to say that some of these meals are going to become part of our regular meal rotation when this little experiment is over!
The food is really quite good and I am still able to play with the recipe a little bit – mostly because we cut out a lot of salt (some of these have 50% of your daily intake!). My husband and I also still cook together, most days. And on those days we aren’t cooking together, the recipes are simple enough that one can cook and the other can do homework or personal tasks and he doesn’t yell at me that “a little of that” doesn’t mean anything! Most importantly, we eat together, at the dinner table, and have 1 serving – and we aren’t hungry!
I am currently editing my first unboxing video of the HomeChef delivery, which comes every Tuesday for us and is well packed! So stay tuned as I hope to have that up this weekend.
And just to leave you with an idea on the meals we have had…
So inquiring minds want to know… How important is home cooking in your household? Do you eat out often? If so, how often? How do you manage your budget with groceries?
In keeping up with the theme of getting and staying healthy, I have been trying out new dishes in the kitchen. Some of the recipes are old favorites and some are new! For me, the kitchen and cooking are stress relievers so I always like to try something new.
So I was craving some pasta (and yes I use organic pasta with gluten regularly) but I did not want anything heavy as my sauce or tomato-y. I needed to be creative with limited ingredients and time -I was not about to start cooking a full gourmet dinner at 7-something at night.
I made a quick homemade avocado sauce that was light but very flavorful! It can be served cold like a pasta salad but I did serve it warm last night
1 Large Haas Avocado 1/4-1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt 2 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese 1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice 1/3 Cup Olive Oil 3 Cloves Garlic (minced) 1/4 Cup Onion Powder Fresh Black Pepper to taste
Mash and mix everything together (you can put it in the food processor for a creamier sauce). Top and serve!
Both my husband and I cleaned up the bowl! It was great especially on a warm/hot night for something light. It was high in good cholesterol, easy to digest, flavorful, and with low/no salt.
Inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried a new recipe for an old favorite? Are you an avocado lover or is it not your cup of tea??