Eat in Month Challenge – January 2010

Hubby and I have been spending too much money eating out! In an effort to save money and eat more healthfully, we are vowing to eat in for the entire month of January.

We use “eating out” like a crutch when we’re tired after work or don’t have anything at home to cook and don’t feel like going to the grocery store. Well, for the month of January – no more excuses! We’re eating in…every. single. meal.

The Eat in Month Challenge Concept

Eat every single meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, snacks…whatever!) “in” to save money and eat better. (Hey, this may even fall in line with the New Years Resolutions some of you have made!)

How to Play

  • Cook or prepare all meals at home
  • If you’re away from home for a meal, plan ahead and bring something from home with you (i.e. to work) to eat
  • If you got it at a grocery store, it probably counts, unless you bought it at the grocery store cafe. The only exceptions to the cafe rule include: 1. if you create a side salad to accompany a meal you’ll be making at home or 2. prepared meats, i.e. rotisserie chicken.
  • *Updated to add* grocery-store-prepared dishes are ok if they accompany a meal put together at home. IMG_1249.JPG We all have busy lives and taking help from the grocery store shouldn’t be a crime. Example of acceptable use of grocery-store-prepped item: you want to eat sandwiches this week but don’t have anything to go with them. You pick up some bean salad at the grocery store deli to go with your lunch. Another example: you want to make chicken salad sandwiches, but you don’t have or want to buy all the ingredients. You buy grocery-store-prepped chicken salad, take it home, make sandwiches and enjoy lunch. NOTE: Personally, I feel that buying pre-pared side dishes, etc at the grocery store (esp at Whole Foods/Earthfare/etc) are sometimes healthier and more cost-effective than buying all the ingredients to make yourself. Why not use the help once in awhile?
  • Frozen meals count (meals from scratch are better but frozen meals are still cheaper than eating out (more affordable meals and you don’t have to pay tip) and can be actually cooked at home/work/etc.)
  • Challenge starts January 1, 2010 and ends January 31, 2010
  • Play for a month if you can, or feel free to join for a week or two, or a day…whatever you can do.
  • Those playing for a month will get ONE cheat pass – one meal (not a day) you can eat out during the month of January.
  • Have a blog? If you’d like, post photos and/or descriptions of your meals. If you have a food blog, you very well may be doing so already! Remember, this is totally optional. I’ll probably post all mine, but that’s because I’m the host of the challenge!

Tips

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  • Get your pantry ready – A lot of times, I have good intentions to eat meals at home, but after a long day of work, if I don’t have any easy meals to whip up, I’m more likely to pick up the phone and order takeout. Having easy meals that come together quickly makes me more likely to put “pantry-meals” together instead of calling someone.
  • Click here to read my Eat in Month Pantry Tips + Ideas post
  • Have snacks ready – If I’m hungry at work, especially when there are lots of quick options around, it’s easy for me to take a 15 minute walk to pick up a snack. By keeping snacks in my desk and in the office fridge, I can just nosh on those instead of seeking snacks elsewhere.
  • Plan ahead – Prep your pantry, create a meal plan for the week. If you have a meal schedule ready, you’ll be more likely to stick to what you already planned ahead to prep/cook/eat. You’ll probably also utilize those leftovers more efficiently, too!
  • Keep it Simple – It’s nice to try to cook fancy-schmancy meals every night, but if you’re as busy as me, you just can’t do it every day. Allow yourself to put together simple meals, even if it’s heating up a frozen dinner. We know you may have better intentions, but just do the best you can while still being reasonable. Sometimes the simplest meals (spaghetti anyone?) are the best!

The Badge

You guys know I love my challenge badges! I’ve created one you can put on your blog for this challenge:



You can get the code here:

The Players

Are you playing along in the Eat in Month Challenge? If so, leave me a comment, whether you’re playing for the whole month, a couple weeks, a single week, a couple days, etc. and your URL if you have a blog.

Who’s In? It’s never too late to join! If January is halfway over and you just found out about the challenge, feel free to join in on the festivities! Better late than never! :)

How to Make Resolutions You Can Keep

Around this time every year, if I haven’t already, I start to think about what resolutions I’d like to make for the next year. I’m a very goal-oriented person, so I really like the concept of resolutions and love to take advantage of this time of year to make some goals for the year ahead. Though I typically don’t keep all the resolutions I make, I usually tackle a couple and love spending the year reaching my goals.

Here are some tips I’m going to use when making my resolutions this year…

How to make resolutions you can keep:

  • Make your resolutions measurable – You can’t tell if you met your resolution if you can’t figure out what the success criteria is/are. Rather than saying, “I’d like to eat more vegetarian meals”, try saying, “I will eat at least one vegetarian meal a week.” “More” is very general, but you can tell if you’re eating one vegetarian meal per week or not.
  • Make your resolutions reasonable – It’s nice to have big dreams, but if you are actually hoping to meet your resolution, make your goal something do-able. For example, If you know that your schedule is so busy, it often leaves you having to make short-cuts during the week to get food on the table, it’s probably not a good idea to make a resolution to cook a gourmet dinner every night of the year. I like to ease into things, so if it were me, and I didn’t make ANY gourmet meals, I’d shoot for once a week. Hey, if you excel more than you thought and cook a gourmet meal two or three times a week, you’ll feel like you really surpassed your expectations and did extra good this year!
  • Be flexible – You may set your goals based on your current lifestyle, but if something out of your control happens, you have to be able to “roll with the punches.” You may need to revisit and revise your resolutions. If, for example, you vow to eat in every week night of the year, but your work sends you on a 6-month assignment in another city for 3 days out of the week in a hotel with no kitchen, you may have to pull a switcheroo and vow to eat in every weekend instead.
  • Ask for help/support – It’s amazing how much your friends, family, and loved ones can help steer your ship when they know what direction you’re sailing. If, for example, you tell your SO and family that you’re trying to quite drinking soda, they may be more apt to not have it around when you visit or keep it in your home. They will know to not offer it to you (which they may if they know you like it) with dinner, etc.

Do you have any resolution-making tips to add?

Delicious Dim Sum Brunch

Whenever in hubby’s hometown, I can’t help but think of the fab dim sum restaurant in town. Finding a gem of a dim sum restaurant is like striking it rich!

I’m also lucky that hubby’s sister is a big fan of dim sum like me. This afternoon, me, hubby, hubby’s sis, hubby’s sis’ hubby, and hubby’s bro headed to a local dim sum joint – Hong Kong.

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We normally try to hit up the restaurant around opening time – 11:30am. Today we were running late and went around 12:30pm. We had a loooong wait and they ended up running out of a few things, so we may try to go earlier next time.

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We were #37.

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Once seated, we promptly ordered some hot jasmine tea for the table. I love my hot tea with dim sum…sans sugar though, if you wanna be authentic.

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The carts were moving slowly today but we got plenty of good eats.

We ordered several plates for our party of 5:

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Shrimp-stuffed jalapeno (I didn’t have any of these – have to save up for my faves)

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Turnip cakes (had a bite of this)

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Shui Mei (pork dumpling) – had none of these – they’re tasty, but not my fave

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Har Gow (shrimp dumpling) – had two of these with a splash of soy sauce.

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Eggplant – none of this – tried to tear off a bite and couldn’t get it to go.

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Fried taro root and shrimp – had 1/2 of one of these. Delicious! The taro tasted almost like potato.

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Baby bok choy – had 5 of these.

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Sticky rice – had a couple bites of this – about 1/4 cup I’d guestimate.

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Was ready for dessert by the time this came around – calamari (had a small piece of this)

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Combination Roll (had none of this – saving room for dessert)

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Dessert! Sesame balls. I had 1 1/2 of these.

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Sometimes sesame balls are made with red beans and sometimes white beans. Today they were red! My fave! Hot, gooey, sweet, but not too sweet…just yum!

Boy, do I love my dim sum!

Have you ever tried dim sum? If so, what was your fave dish?

Meet Betty (An Amigurumi Crocheted Bunny)

After my fun bloggie dinner outing, I came home to veg on the couch with my WIP: an amigurumi bunny.

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I had completed the body, head/face and only needed to make 2 arms, 2 legs, and 2 ears.

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Once I had all the pieces done, I just had to assemble.

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Voila! My MIL named her Betty.

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Betty proved to be very adventurous and promptly started exploring.

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Since it was late, Betty didn’t get very far before wanting to be tucked in.

But, in the morning (this morning), she was up early and moving about.

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I finally found her outside and tucked her away into a gift bag to be opened later.

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I enjoyed some coffee in a mug hubby and I gave his mom. They are from Starbucks and have a pretty, bright red finish on the inside.

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I had plans with hubby’s fam (his sister and her fam drove in late Christmas night from out of town) to do a lunch later, so I kept breakfast light with an egg and cheese biscuit and piece of chicken sausage.

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Post-breakfast, we had another round of gift-opening for hubby’s sis’ fam.

Betty found her new friend, Cami (in the red dress), and will be going home with her.

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Yay presents!

Bloggies Do Neopolitan Pizza

Hubby and I enjoyed a lazy morning on Saturday.

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We kicked things off with breakfast – blueberry pancakes (with maple syrup), bacon, orange juice, and coffee.

After breakfast and some continued relaxation around hubby’s mom’s house, we took my MIL out to see Sherlock Holmes. I grew up loving all the Sherlock Holmes stories, books, and movies (or was it a TV show?), so I’m a big fan. This Sherlock was very different from the calmer, quieter one I remember growing up, but I still thought the movie was quite enjoyable.

Since internet access and computer access isn’t as easy as it is at home, hubby and I headed in search of free wifi so I could get some blogging done.

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We ended up at Barnes & Nobles where I noshed on a gingerbread soy latte and shared a blueberry scone with hubby. I was disappointed that the B&N didn’t offer short cups. When I tried to order my drink “short” (aka what used to be considered a Starbucks-small), they said they didn’t have shorts since they’re “Barnes & Nobles.” I’m pretty sure the cafe has “Starbucks” plastered everywhere (see it on my cup!?) and Starbucks carries shorts, but whatever.

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They nicely heated up my blueberry scone since I was dining in. It was super good. The blueberry scones are a bit of an indulgence for me. I used to eat them a couple times a week till I learned how bad they are for you (calorie/fat-wise).

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While in the neighborhood, hubby and I met up with Sarah + Josh (whom we met at Michelle’s holiday party) for a bloggie-dinner at Rockwood Filling Station.

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I loved the colorful artwork inside.

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I kicked things off with the seasonal brew (which hubby helped me finish) – a Dogfish IPA – and some water.

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Josh ordered deviled eggs for a starter and hubby and I split one. They were good – nice and creamy.

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Hubby and I split an Arugula Salad (from the menu) – Pinenuts & Parmesan Reggiano with Lemon Vinaigrettte – $6

Now, I’ve had arugula salads before, but this one tasted so much better! I think it was the combo of the lemon vinaigrette and fresh parm. Yummers!

We got a couple pies to share:

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White Pie (from the menu) – Ricotta, Fontina, Spinach, Carmelized Onions, Roasted Artichokes & Basil Pesto – with a whole wheat crust.

Very tasty combo. I had a quarter of this pizza. I didn’t even miss the tomato sauce and thought the flavors went well together.

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Bolognese (from the menu) – Pork & Beef Bolognese, Mushroom, Arugula, Roasted Peppers, and Parmesan Reggiano.

I loved this one, too. I had 1/8th of this pie. I thought the meat was nice and light and liked the arugula on top. I can’t get enough shaved parm, too…mmm…

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We ordered a Chocolate Tiramisu to split between the table. I’ve never seen a tiramisu served like this – very unique.

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The flavor of the dessert proved to be delicious. I loved how this tiramisu had a chocolate-y twist.

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So glad to have more friends in hubby’s hometown! We had a blast and hope to get together again soon!

Check out Sarah’s recap by clicking here :)

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