First world problems: Spending too much money on food


February 1, 2016

Hello, it’s me.

Its officially one month in of this new year, 2016. Not so new anymore. So how did I do with my handy dandy budget for food this month? Effing horrible, that’s how. I pretty much doubled what I budgeted for and might I add there were no envelopes used at all. 

How do real people actually make this work??? I swear we don’t eat that much! Remember my mom gave us $200 as part of our Christmas gift? Yeah, well, that was gone so quick I almost forgot she gave us that money. We pretty much doubled the original budget. Ugh! I don’t even know how. Well, I kind of know how. Sure, we went out to eat at restaurants. Yeah, I admit, I had like 4 beers when I could have (and probably should have) had just one. I also went to Subway quite a few times for my son for his wrestling matches or those all-day wrestling tournaments. I did really well in scrounging up meals with the food we had in the cabinets and fridge. My kids were like, “Mom, why is the fridge so empty?” Of course there was food in there but not as full as they are used to seeing it. Dang. Doubled the budget… I still cant get over it. No, we are not rolling in money like that. I’m a social worker and my husband works part-time (well, 30 hours a week but still part-time). We do feed 2 very active kids – our 14 year old boy is ALWAYS hungry. Still! What the heck!?

What’s the game plan now? It’s a new month and a new start (cue eye-rolling) and I think what I’m looking at is having to budget more fast food like Subway because the reality is that is sometimes that is what is the most practical. I did buy some of the ingredients to make my son’s usual order at Subway at home but he’s picky about stuff like that. We’ll see.

Accountability time. So far I have spent $243.35 on food. That includes a trip to the grocery store for our usual stuff to make dinners, a trip to Starbucks, Papa Murphy’s pizza, and random food at Safeway. Should I just use this like MyFitnessPal and record everything I spend on food. Not much fun for you to read I guess but no one is reading this anyway. I wish people would though. I need some help, some tips, some pointers! Seriously, how do people do this? I know there are families out there that can feed a family of four on the cheap and have some fun, too. But how and how cheap? Pray for me.






Quotes on love by Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of one of my most favorite social justice heroes, Martin Luther King, Jr., I’m sharing some of his quotes on love, because of course this blog is about love. The bottom line is love is the answer. If we would base all our actions in love, I think we would live in a more peaceful place.

Before I go, some photos I took from my trip with University of Southern California last year:

Enjoy your day in peace and love.

2 years ago today…

There must be something about the day after Christmas because 2 years ago today was the last time I posted anything on this blog. Here I am again, the day after Christmas, without an idea as to when the last time I posted was until I logged on. In short, I’M BACK!!!

I’m not going to pretend that I will pick up right where I left off because a LOT has changed in these past 2 years. For one, I’m married now, have a acquired a 3rd dog (I’ll have to tell you that story later), have moved back to Tacoma (which is something that I never thought in a million years that I thought I would do), graduated from USC and am now an MSW, a LICASW actually. I have a kid in high school now, too. Lots of changes.

Now that the holidays are mostly over, I find myself reflecting on what to do now. I am thinking about how I am going to clean up my diet after all of the cookies, pies, and other goodies these past couple of months. I am also thinking about how to clean up my finances because I don’t know about you all by I spent a lot of money on gifts this  year. I am grateful that we’ve been blessed with the ability to give nice gifts to the kids and our family members but still, it was a lot. Man, kids’ gifts get more expensive as they get older don’t they? On top of that, my grace period is ovnew year new me BSer and I have to start paying back my student loans (eek!).

Ok, now, please be advised that this is NOT a “new year, new me” manifesto. Those are annoying, no offense. I am making a promise to myself that I will do more of what I want to do from now on. What are those things? Well, cooking and blogging of course. Grad school kicked my ass and sadly I have not been cooking as much as I used to. No cooking, means no blogging. So there will be more blogging, too. Running. I have had “half marathon” on my list of things to do for about 5 years now. That’s just ridiculous and indicative of the how many excuses I have given for why I have not done it yet. This post is already getting long so I’ll spare you those. Travel. Now that I’m back in the PNW I have to make to Canada this time. I say this time because during the 12 years I lived here before I never went (I know, a shame).

For the first matter of business, I will be coming back with a new project to overhaul our finances like I was saying earlier. We are like most American families and have a ton of debt. Most of it is mine from student loans and I won’t tell you how much because I’m embarrassed to but I will tell you I should have about 6 master’s degrees by now with the amount of student loan debt I have. We also have a bit of credit card debt from our wedding. What does this have to do with food? The grocery bill, duh. I am super meticulous when it comes to tracking our bills but other than bills I am lazy when it comes to our spending and that includes groceries. So, to remedy this, I am considering going to the envelope method where I will budget out our expenses and put cash into the respective envelopes. I’m wondering who else have actually done this and have it work. I see a million Pinterest pins from people who explain what it is and how it worked for them to pay off a trillion dollars in debt in a year but are they for real? That can’t be real, can it? Irregardless (I know that’s not a word leave me alone) I am going to try it and see how it goes.

The budget for groceries for our active family of 4 is going to be – drum roll please – $500. Is that insane? No seriously, I want to know. I did a quick calculation in my head, and I think that’s about how much we spend. I am going to take out $200 every 2 weeks and use the last $100 as a buffer so we don’t go over. Whatever is left over I guess can roll over into the next month, or we can save for a nice dinner out or something.

Ok so that’s about it for now. You will be reading a lot more from me and could really use any suggestions on how to lower costs for food for a busy family. That’s if anyone is reading this… Oh well, if you’re not. See you soon!

Mini grilled cheese and tomato soup


After an afternoon of shopping – groceries, Christmas gifts, and the like – I decided to go with an old standby for a quick dinner. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture but those are baguette sized slices of bread and that’s a dessert bowl – you know the kind you would put a scoop of ice cream in. I don’t know why I but I love small food. Just like animals are cuter when they’re babies I think small food is so cute and fun to eat. Of course hubby had a real size bowl and regular slices of bread.

This meal is entirely from Trader Joe’s.
– the TJ’s carton of creamy tomato soup
– roasted garlic and time bread loaf
– Earth Balance
– sharp cheddar

That’s it! Except I’m also having wine because that’s what shopping makes me do.

What is this gnarly thing?


Who can guess what this highly underutilized vegetable is???

I have a great recipe that I got from the New York Times with this thing as an ingredient. Any guesses?


CSA Cooking: Choco Chip Chipotle Zucchini Bread

I really want to make this!

Small World Supper Club

Are you ready for this?

Chipotle Cinnamon Cocoa Salt

So….here’s what happened. We were in search of some homemade ice cream while we were in Vancouver (naturally). The hunt led us to a little shop called Edible Canada. But this wasn’t your typical cheesy souvenir shop. This was chock-full of delightful gourmet foods, sauces, oils, and these salts from Sea to Sky Seasonings. Traveling back to the States with ice cream was, unfortunately, not an option. Luckily, this little box o’ salt was a suitable substitute.

When zucchini arrived in our CSA bag a few weeks ago, I couldn’t resist taking this salt out for a test drive. I started with a basic King Arthur recipe and adapted it to my liking. You don’t need special salt to make this recipe sing – you can try adding just a pinch of chipotle powder to the batter and then sprinkle a mix of salt…

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Success! Cheesy Potatoey Goodness



Success!  I have conquered scalloped potatoes au gratin and am inspired to make them again – but better! I would  definitely add more cheese on top because I like them to be a little more cheesy and a more substantial “crust” on top. I am thinking about putting in some finely chopped oyster mushrooms between layers of potatoes. Bacon or pancetta would be good, too. The possibilities are endless! All in all they were really easy to make and are perfect for a Sunday night dinner because they do take a while in the oven.


I researched several different recipes and ultimately came up with my own recipe. I started out with Ellie Krieger’s recipe but I used 2% milk instead of 1%. I warmed the milk with whole garlic cloves to infuse the milk rather than have actually garlic chunks. I also used this awesome Gruyere Cheddar cheese blend I found at Trader Joe’s. I also decided not to cook the potatoes first and put them in raw instead. My recipe follows.Image


1 3 lb bag of gold potatoes or some other yellowish waxy potatoes

1 – 2 cups grated cheese – I used this Gruyere-Cheddar blend but any semi-hard cheese would probably do

3 cups 2% milk

two garlic cloves, whole

one sprig of thyme

dash of nutmeg

salt to taste

oil spray

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2. slice the potatoes about 1/4 inch thick with a mandolin

3. warm the milk in a saucepan with the garlic cloves, thyme, sprinkle of nutmeg, and salt

4. Grate the cheese and set aside

5. Spray a baking dish with the oil spray and arrange about 1/3 if the potatoes on the bottom of the pan and sprinkle on some cheese. Repeat until all the potatoes are arranged in the dish. Top with the last bit of cheese.

6. Pour warmed milk over the entire thing. It is going to seem like a lot of liquid but, trust me, the potatoes soak it all up. Remember that when you are adding salt to the milk mixture  – you’re going to want to put more than you think.

7. Bake covered in foil for 45 minutes then take out, take off the foil, and put back in for another 25 – 30 minutes. Let cool and (if you can wait) DIG IN!

And that’s what I did! Yum!

Pizza and wine night with crazy good caramelized onions

Pizza and wine night with crazy good caramelized onions

Friday was screaming to be pizza and wine night and that’s exactly what it became. I decided to get fancy and caramelize some onions to put on the pizza and oh-em-gee they were good! I usually prefer fresh veggies on my pizza but the caramlized onions with the hot Italian sausage was so effing good.

Oh yeah and that’s Addie in the background like a ghost trying to get a taste. Crazy dog.

For the caramelized onions, all you do is thinly slice a ton of onions. I used two whole onions and by the time they were done, I had enough for half a pizza. Put some oil down in the pan, put the thinly sliced onions in the pan, put the heat on medium low, and wait. After about 30 minutes you will find caramelized onion goodness.

Smoked salmon bagels

Smoked salmon bagels

In addition to yummy sticky buns, my mom also made my favorite breakfast: bagels with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers. She also added thinly sliced shallots, tomato and arugula. So freaking good!