Eat in Month 2012 Challenge

It’s that time of the year – time for Eat in Month. And I’m really excited that this is the third annual Eat in Month challenge. I can’t believe we’re on #3 already! I’ve heard a lot of excitement about the challenge on twitter, Facebook, and email – thank you guys so much for playing along. The challenge wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if I didn’t have you to play with me. Please keep in touch, especially on Facebook where you can inspire and help the rest of the EIM community. Feel free to post your questions, tips, recipes there. We can do this together!

The Eat in Month Challenge Concept

Eat every single meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, snacks…whatever you choose!) “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

  • The most important rule is to tailor the challenge to fit you best. Can’t play a whole month? Play one week or two. Still want to get coffees out? Go for it. We’ll each have our own tailored version of the challenge, and that’s great! :) Here are the rest of the main guidelines, but again, adjust as you need…
  • Cook or prepare all meals at home.
  • Drinks – coffees to cocktails – decide whether these count in the challenge or not for you. Some people just focus on the food. Some people do both. Last year, I didn’t go to Starbucks (not even for Starbucks Monday!) for EIM. But this year, I’m thinking I may still indulge in an occasional latte, especially since I only go about once a week.
  • 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.
  • 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, 2012 and ends January 31, 2012.
  • 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 most of mine, but that’s because I’m the host of the challenge! I can’t guarantee I will post photos of every single meal, but I will tell you guys if I cheat (which I won’t do). If I did it last year, I can do it again!
  • If you’re on Twitter, use hashtag #eatinmonth to check out updates from each other, get inspiration, request tips, offer tips, and help each other out.
  • I’ll be posting tips and suggestions also on my Facebook page, so be sure to check that out often during the challenge month for updates.



  • 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. Click here to read about my favorite snacks to keep at the office.
  • 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!
  • Have quick meals in your back pocket – Go ahead and jot down 5-10 quick meals you can throw together using pantry & staple items. Use this list when you’re hungry, out of energy, and out of time. Try to keep your pantry, fridge, etc stocked with a couple of the items needed for these quick meal so you’ll always have something to eat when you’re in a bind.
  • 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!
  • Make the better choice – Sometimes it’s about making the better choice, not the perfect one. Click here to read my post on this topic.
  • Bulk BinsClick here to read my how-to on working the bulk bins.

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 use the following code to add this banner to your site:

<a href=""><img src="" border="0" width="170" height="170" /></a>

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! :)

Top 11 TCL Recipes of 2011


I spent many, many hours developing recipes in 2011. Though the year was challenging, playing with recipes was one of the things I did to de-stress. I just love cooking and baking.

Here are some of my favorites from the past year (not in any particular order):

{Click here for my Top 10 Recipes of 2010}

1 – Irresistible Coconut Macaroons


These are my favorite make-ahead dessert. You can prep them the day before you need them and dehydrate them over night. Make a double batch to feed extra mouths. These are truly irresistible – whenever they’re around I can’t stop eating them!

2 – Vegan Coconut Cream Pie


A vegan coconut cream pie with an oatmeal pie crust that Bitchin Kitchen linked to on twitter! These were taste-tested by my friends who gave many thumbs up. Looking at this photo reminds me that I need to make this again sometime soon!

3 – Kale Chip Baking Tips


A basic kale chip recipe complete with baking tips. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback for this post, the tips, and the recipe.

4 – Sugar Cookie Dough Balls


Around the 4th of July, I came up with a new dough ball flavor that rivals the original chocolate chip. These are amazing on their own or with the quick drizzle frosting you can customize for any color scheme.

5 – Fourth of July Cupcakes


My Fourth of July cupcakes were one of my most colorful and themed creations of the year.

6 – Chocolate “Depression” Cake Minis


Since first coming up with the recipe, I’ve baked these mini cakes several times. They’re the perfect dessert when you want a quick chocolate fix and they’re made without eggs, butter, or milk! You can even eat them warm if you don’t want to wait for them to totally cool, and they have the easiest & fasted “frosting” (ok, it’s a ganache).

7 – Tangy Power Greens & BBQ Tempeh


This is the easiest and tastiest way I know how to make tempeh. But the greens were the real winner to me. I love how the addition of a couple simple ingredients imparts so much flavor to these veggies.

8 – Individual Egg Bake


This is one of my go-to breakfasts. I love savory, egg-based breakfasts, and this one takes a mere 5 minutes to mix up and even bakes up quickly, too. Plus, the flavor can easily be adjusted based on your preferences or whatever you have on hand.

9 – Whole Health Noodle Soup


This is one of my favorite quick-fix meals. It uses ingredients you have in your pantry, refrigerator, and/or freezer and comes together so quickly.

10 – Noodle Bowls


Ahhh noodle bowls. This dish is probably the one thing I’ve eaten the most in 2011 because of the utilization of ingredients I often have around when I haven’t been grocery shopping in awhile and the ease of preparation. It’s also filling (just add protein of choice!) and can get filled with lots of healthy vegetables.

11 – Slow Cooker Beef & 3 Bean Chili


This slow cooker recipe is one of my go-to, cold-weather recipes. I also love using it whenever we’re having a casual get-together at the Chic House. It’s affordable, a crowd-pleaser, and just so easy so you can spend more time with your guests.


Eat in Month 2012 starts today! I hope you can play along! :)


Have you made a TCL recipe? Which one do you think should be on this list?

What recipes would you like to see on TCL in 2012?

{Click here for my Top 10 Recipes of 2010}

TCL Highlights from 2011


I’d be lying if I said that 2011 was one of the best years of my life. The more appropriate word is probably “challenging.” Yes, 2011, you challenged me in ways that had me crying like a baby. Unfortunately for TCL, I’m not comfortable discussing those exact challenges here on the blog. Nothing truly extreme is going on, I just need to work through some things. The soul-sucking nature of my challenges, however, left me feeling a little less than human. I felt like I let those challenges get the best of me, letting it rob me of my energy and enthusiasm. I feel like I pushed people away, lost some of my mojo, and often accomplished things by forcing my way through the motions and sometimes running off of auto-pilot.

But even though all this was going on the in the background, I think it would be unfortunate to not recognize some of the good things that happened in 2011. The year may have been a struggle, but it wasn’t a loss. Let’s look at the bright side

Here are some of my favorite highlights from 2011:



January brought the announcement of a fun style of cooking/baking for TCL – Not So Sweet. I have nothing against sugar. You guys know I am a major sweet-tooth. But sometimes, some recipes turn out overly sweet in a way that gives me a headache instead of a happy smile. Not So Sweet recipes feature desserts that are enjoyable and just sweet enough. Some of my favorite Not So Sweet recipes include: Irresistible Coconut Macaroons, Healthy {Oatlicious} Zucchini Bread and Muffins, and Vegan Coconut Cream Pie.



In February, I got my first gig being “hired” as a photographer. Ok, so I actually just trade my photography skills for brunch, but I was still the “official photographer” for a fun event and I enjoyed a fabulous meal, too.



In March, I kicked off Project Get Glam. I described it saying, “It’s not about being superficial, it’s about having self-pride.” It was also excuse to wear more glitter, and I’ve been enjoying wearing bright eye make-up to Zumba (yes, still), and glitter every once in awhile.

I also went on an epic 13-hour bar crawl where I learned how to play spin-the-bottle-dance-off. It’s fun. You should try it.



In April, I kept up an Earth Day tradition.



In May, I tried Masala Bhangra for the first time and even got to meet the founder – Sarina Jain!



June was a busy month. I enjoyed a crazy-fun beach trip with friends, went to the lake with hubby’s family, and initiated one of my favorite challenges – Project Veg-Up (and my mom even played along!)



July – two words: Zumba and Convention. Zumba Convention was one of the most unique, most fun, more colorful, and most wonderful experiences of my life…honestly. If you’re a Zumba instructor, it is worth saving your money up to go. Do ittttttt!



August brought one of my most life-changing challenges to date – Project Think Positive. As a normally negative thinker, I was very surprised by the results of this challenge. Positive thinking can work!



In September, I began fashion blogging again right here on TCL.



I celebrated my birthday a little late, but in a very cool way. My friends planned a bar crawl just for me and two of my friends from college visited me to celebrate!



November brought a lot of great things: QT with my extended family, meeting Anthony Bourdain & Eric Ripert, Foodbuzz Festival, one of the best meals of my life, and meeting Tyler Florence. It was the foodiest month of the year for me!



And I enjoyed three Christmas celebrations in December – one with my family, one with hubby’s, and one for ours.


2011, you may have kicked my a$$, but we had some good times. Now, let’s hope 2012 is the year I turn things around! Time to channel my inner warrior queen and take charge. Here we go!

{Click here to check out my year in review for 2010}

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