Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Salad Dressing

One of the first things I started making when I was changing the way we ate was salad dressings. I have only bought maybe a couple of bottles of dressing in the store in the past 3 + years. I usually mix up a new one every week or so, with Ranch and Blue Cheese being the ones I make most often. 

Last week I made a Baked Reuben for dinner so I needed some Thousand Island dressing. I like to gather my ingredients before starting to make sure I have everything I need.

I will add the ingredients directly in a wide mouth mason jar, which is how I will store the dressing. A few shakes and it is mixed, nice and easy. Sometimes I will use a mini whisk to make sure everything is combined. 

Very little clean up, the jar is great for storage.

 Blue painters tape gets used a lot in my kitchen! Since I do make a lot of our condiments and most are stored in mason jars, I need to label them--the painter's tape comes off easily and doesn't leave a sticky mess.

Thousand Island Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon white onion, finely minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Changing Food Habits

It has been over a year now that we have been making the changes with our food choices. Our health was my number one motivator in starting these changes. Some of the changes we have made have been easy and some have taken a lot more work and dedication. I am happy to report that I have lost more than 20 lbs since spring. To me, 20 lbs. is a significant amount of weight, it means that I am doing something right and it isn't just body weight fluctuations.

Here are a few of the changes I have made.

NO DIET SODA--I had my last can or diet soda on April 1st.  This was a hard one for me. I still look at them every time I go to check out at a store and there sits that case of perfectly chilled diet soda. I used to grab one almost every time I would check out somewhere. and then another with dinner. If we were eating out, there would be a couple of refills too. I just stopped one day. It has gotten easier, but sometimes I do miss them. I do still drink a soda every once in a while, but is it almost always ginger ale, or maybe another clear soda. Mostly I drink water.

FOOD RULE #1--  Make as much as possible from scratch and eliminate overly processed foods. I am trying to not label foods good or bad. I love food and trying new food combinations and cooking is one of my favorite things in the world to do, so denying myself that would make me very unhappy. So I still eat pizza--made at home with extra veggies with the pepperoni or tacos-once again made at home- with lots of lettuce and tomatoes. 

REDUCE EATING OUT-- We used to eat out at least 3-4 times a week, a couple of lunches a week plus a couple of dinners. Now, I make lunches every day and we only eat out for dinner when we plan it or are meeting friends. I am not a huge calorie counter, but I know what is in the food I prepare at home and the calories in fast food, and what I make is usually at least half the calories of what we eat in a  restaurant. This has also helped out budget!

MEAL PLANNING-- Meal planning has saved us so much money. I buy what I have planned and not a lot extra. I look at the sales papers before planning our meals to make sure I am stretching out part of our budget as much as possible. Since I have a plan, I avoid that "what-am-I-going-to-make-for-dinner" rush. Because, honestly, sometimes the answer was I don't want to cook, lets go out.  

Since I plan all of three of our meals each day, I know what days I can splurge and make something that might be a little on the not so healthy side. I still meet a friend or my MIL for lunch here and there, Kip still eats out with co-workers on occasionally and we still plan to meet friends for dinner. The difference is those things are planned for, and not a default because there isn't food here or I ran out of creativity to throw together a meal.

DRINKING MORE  WATER-- Since I am no longer drinking my soda of choice, I am drinking a lot more water. Drinking water isn't something that bothers me, even when I was drinking soda, I still drank quite a bit of water. I usually just drink it iced, but I also usually have sliced cucumbers, lemons, limes or oranges in the fridge if I want to flavor my water for something different.

PREPPING FOOD--I try to prep and wash a lot of my food as soon as I get home from the grocery store. If I do that, it is easier to grab an apple instead of a bag of chips. It also cuts down on the time it takes to pack lunches, because I am so NOT a morning person!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Time Saver

In our efforts to both eat healthier and save money we are trying to be more consistent with packing lunches and not eating out. I am not a morning person at all, so if I waited til morning to make lunches they wouldn't get made most mornings. I cook dinner every night and often make extras for our lunch and "everyone for themselves" dinner night. I find that if I go ahead and assemble meals as I am cleaning up for dinner, it makes my life much easier. All we do is grab one and stick it in the lunch box along with a piece of fruit.

In addition to being a huge time saver, it also saves us money in a couple of ways--they are quick to grab so on those crazy mornings, lunch still gets packed and we don't have to rely on fast food, and on nights that one of us is not here, we have a ready meal that can just be reheated--no calling for pizza delivery! Another benefit is that I don't have a bunch of containers of leftovers in the fridge that get overlooked and just end up getting tossed. I hate throwing away food!

For most meals, I like these Easy Lunch Boxes. The have three sections, so I can make sure lunch also included veggies. I also like that they have different colored lids so that I can tell which lunches need to be eaten first or who I packed it for! I also have a thing for Bento boxes so I have lots of great containers for lunch.