Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"No-Spend" Month Update - Week 1

*If you're no familiar with my No-Spend January Challenge, click here to get up to speed!*

The first week of "No-Spend" Month hasn't been too hard. We have spent $0 of $31 allotted with the $1/day rule. In my last post, I said that I stocked up at the grocery store on the 29th. Apparently, I did a pretty decent job stocking up. I do think I'll have to go to the store this weekend to get some more produce, but I plan on staying within the $1/day limit. For example, if I go on the 11th, I'll try my best to spend less than $11 (and definitely no more than $31). I just checked our bank account (literally just within the last minute), and I'm not seeing much of a difference, yet. I think it might take a few more weeks for these changes to make an impact, considering I just did a larger than usual grocery trip at the end of December and the beginning of the month is when most of the major bills come due (rent, student loans, utilities, health insurance, etc.).

I've also been making an effort to do a Pantry Clean-Out during this "No-Spend" month. I buy a lot of food items, and sometimes even doubles of items that I use very sparingly because when I come home from work, I don't want to spend longer than I need to cooking. In fact, a lot of times, I just eat frozen pizza, freezer meals, grab-and-go foods from Whole Foods or Trader Joes (which can be expensive!), or processed vegan products because I don't feel like spending time in the kitchen. Frankly, I'm generally pretty lazy unless I'm feeling inspired and excited about a recipe. It's not a good habit because well, we all know whole foods are better for us than processed foods. Also, processed foods cost considerably more than whole ingredients. And a major part of No Spend Month is spending WAY less and saving more, so the only processed foods that we'll eating this month are ones that were purchased before January 1st.

This has made me a little more creative in the kitchen this week because I'm using ingredients that I don't often use in my cooking. I've also spent more time in the kitchen because between my husband and myself, I do 99.5% of the cooking. (Talking to one of my friends about this, she suggested that he may just not feel comfortable cooking vegan food (yet, I hope), and since I've only been vegan about 5 months, that makes sense. Tom, if you're reading this, I have half a shelf full of cookbooks for whenever you're feeling adventurous!) Also, if we want to stretch out our food supply without being bored, that requires more preparation.

Following this train of thought, I've been making more things out of the products that take a little more time. Today I made some "Meat"loaf Bites from Happy Herbivore's recipe from her new cookbook, Happy Herbivore Light and Lean, using some of the instant oats that have been sitting in my pantry for the past few months without being opened. (The link is to a video of Happy Herbivore making her "Meat"loaf Bites and two other delicious-looking dishes.) I'm excited about her new cookbook, and I plan to make Happy Herbivore Light and Lean one of my first purchases of February since I unfortunately didn't get it for Christmas. Before you start feeling bad for me, I did get a lot of other awesome cookbooks like The Veganomicon, Party Vegan, Vegan with a Vengeance, and Quick-Fix Vegan (from one of my bosses!). So I've been busy trying lots of delicious recipes! This Saturday I made "The Best Pumpkin Muffins" from Vegan with a Vengeance. They're called "The Best" for a reason, and I do love pumpkin! I have to admit that I ate FIVE of them (and that was just on Saturday).  So warm, so delicious, so punkin-y!  My husband and my coworker also approve of these muffins. (My coworker almost didn't get one because my husband ate all but one of them before I could put one aside for her.)

Anyway, back to my original point...Pantry Clean-Out! So I used some of my instant oatmeal and a can of great northern beans (supposed to be kidney according to the recipe, but we didn't have any) for the "Meat"loaf bites this evening. I also cooked lentils while making the Meatloaf Bites to save time in the kitchen, and so that they'll be pre-cooked for tomorrow when I want to make curried lentils. (I'm not sure what I'll make as the side dish to the lentils, yet.)

For the record here is a list of a few of the items that I have in my pantry and cabinets:

-Lentils (2 packs of red ones. I guess I thought I might be out and bought another one. This happens a lot)
-Quinoa (2 packs)
-Black Beans (1 bag of dry beans)
-Brown Rice (1 large and 1 small bag)
-White Rice (1 large bag)
-Quick Oats
-Rolled Oats
-Millet (never cooked it before, but it sounded cool!)
-Gluten free flours: brown rice, arrowroot, almond meal, potato starch)
-Xanthan gum (for use with the gluten-free flours)
-Regular flour
-Whole Wheat flour
-Rye flour
-Whole Grain Sorghum (Why?!?)
-Ground Flaxseed
-Bisquick Heart Smart Mix
-Pinto Beans (canned)
-Garbanzo Beans (canned)
-Coconut Milk
-Tomato Sauce(Two large cans)

I'd really like to clean out some of the doubles/multiples that I've obtained. If you have any ideas using any of these items, please leave some comments below. I could use some fresh ideas, and I always love to get comments!

Also, if you're wondering what I did this weekend that involved spending $0/day. I had a private Doctor Who Season 4 marathon and knitted up a storm on Saturday. Results: a leaf-patterned hat* and matching emerald green cowl in a simpler seed stitch pattern. Note: these were knit with cotton yarn. My first Vegan Knitting project! Picture below!  I apologize for the bad photograph.  I seriously did receive an amazing new camera (Canon Powershot G15) from my awesome husband for Christmas.  Unfortunately, I did not receive a cord to connect it to my computer, and it's "No-Spend January"!  Womp, womp, womp!

* Hat pattern is called "Foliage" from, my favorite free knitting zine!

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