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Archive for April, 2011

Low-Cost Weight Loss

April 20th, 2011 at 06:09 pm

I talk about my co-workers a lot. Believe it or not, I really like these folks even though they do a lot of things differently (more expensive) than I do. For instance, we are all trying to stay (or get) in shape and lose a few (or 50) pounds.

Our successes (and dismal failures) in this area are similar, but as you may have figured out by now, my methods are different.

They pay for gym memberships; purchase frozen dinners or get some grilled-chicken take-out or subs; buy diet sodas; buy expensive supplements and protein shakes; fill their desks with 100-calorie snack cakes and have joined an on-line group with another monthly fee.

I prefer to run daily; make healthy meals and divide them for lunches/snacks; drink water or unsweetened iced tea; or light lemonade mixes from the dollar store and weigh-in weekly at my house. I don’t buy the expensive thermogenic supplements, but I do take a multi-vitamin and extra calcium/potassium when I am running. (I also take one tablespoon of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar daily, which is probably an old wives’ tale or a placebo, but hey – it is cheap and I haven’t had so much as a cold for years.)

In both cases, both of our methods are successful only IF they are done consistently so it is hard to say which is better – but my way does not cost the $200 - $300 a month that it does for one of my co-workers who does all of the pricier versions. I never understood the concept of “If I invest a lot of money into it, then I will definitely follow the program”. I tend to do better by making an investment in something I am already doing (a new song on my mp3 or better running shoes), but that is just me. Currently, she and I have lost the same amount so take everything I am saying with a grain of salt. Smile

Anyway …

That is not where I was actually going with this, I was going to write about the deals I have been finding at the dollar store with light wheat bread and 2% box milk that can be saved for recipes … or the deals on turkey products (ground, sausage, pepperoni) and how they cost more than regular versions but I make up the difference by cooking from scratch and avoiding anything in processed ….

However, my lunch break is over and I have to get back to work!

Instead, here is one of my family’s favorite low-cost, delicious pizza recipes (cost and calories is at the bottom.)

Yummy (Healthy) Pepperoni/Sausage Pizza
Boboli Whole Wheat Crust (this can cost less if you make your own)
2 T Pizza Sauce (pizza, not marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce)
1 patty Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage
8-10 slices of Hormel Turkey Pepperoni
Veggies – we like chopped onions and red/green peppers – but olives, spinach, etc would work.
1 cup shredded REAL mozzarella (no low-fat – it doesn’t melt right or make that much difference in calories).
Extra: parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning (My husband likes to add pepper flakes to his portion).

 Set oven to 455 degrees
 Toast the crust for 5 minutes (no toppings yet)
 Remove from oven
 Spread pizza sauce over crust and sprinkle lightly with parmesan cheese
 Add pepperoni slices and tear the sausage patty into small chunks and sprinkle around.
 Add Veggies
 Add cheese on top and sprinkle with Italian seasoning
 Put back in oven for 8-10 minutes depending on how crispy you like it.

Cost: $4.50 for the whole thing – of course, I am calculating that by the fact I am dividing the cost of the sausage, pepperoni, sauce and cheeses – the rest will be used later. This could cost less if you make your own crust and sauce … or use just cheese or something like that.

Calories: Cut pizza into 8 slices – and it is 180 calories a slice; Cut the pizza into 4 slices and it is 360 calories a slice … half the pizza is 720 calories … you get the idea.

We enjoy one of these every weekend. It is faster and cheaper than ordering a pizza and much lower in calories than a frozen one.

My dad likes it with sliced deli (light) ham and pineapple or barbecue chicken …

Extreme penny-pinching

April 19th, 2011 at 01:15 pm

In the effort to reduce our grocery bill (my personal best is $149.00 for the month - which I KNOW can be much lower), I buy most of my bread items at the dollar store.

When I was in the check-out line, I saw a pregnancy test for ... well, obviously, it was for a $1. I thought "Who in the world would buy a $1 pregnancy test?" But clearly, someone does or it wouldn't be there, right?

Which made me start thinking of the craziest things I have ever done to save money.

Right after college, I had a few weeks of living on grits (a southern staple but not very nutritionally sound) and iced tea as I lived paycheck to paycheck. More recently, I used YouTube to learn to trim my own hair and do my own highlights. Since it worked out, I don't consider that too crazy, but my co-workers consider that equal to performing my own appendectomy! Smile

I have never collected and consolidated ketchup packets, but I have washed and re-used ziplock bags. I do unplug every appliance in my house and control the water heater and thermostat, but I don't hang laundry as often as I should.

Now that I think about it, I probably could do more extreme things than I do.

What is the "most extreme" thing you have heard of?

Things my co-workers say ...

April 18th, 2011 at 01:11 pm

Me and one of my co-workers are known as the office frugal queens. We bring our own coffee and brown bag lunches every day.

Our co-workers think that is "cool" but can't bring themselves to do any of our stratgies. I would not give that a second thought except .... they complain about being broke all the time. They fuss about how little they make and how they can front the costs of educational courses the company wants them to take so they can make more money. (Our company re-imburses you, but you have to take and pass the course first).

Here are some things they do/say ...
~Go out to lunch - 3-4 days a week.
~Buy coffee or breakfast on the way to work 3-4 times a week.
~Run to the grocery store every other day...and always buy stuff not on the list that they saw when they got there.
~Pick up pizza or some sort of take-out on the way home.
~Leave their water heater going all day even though no one is home.
~I suggested the library to my assistant one day when she left her book at home and you would have thought I suggested she dumpster-dive!

There is a lot more than that, but you get the idea. These little treats they provide for themselves make their days brighter, but never add to the big picture.

Even though this makes me sound a little self-righteous, it helps to reinforce what I don't want to find myself doing.

I will add more as they occur ....

Starting a Farm ...

April 18th, 2011 at 12:54 pm

We paid a LOT of taxes for 2010.

We knew it was coming. My husband did a lot of independent contracting work and did not go overseas at all since he was out-processing from the military.
We had the money set aside so everything was paid on time.

However ....

Our accountant suggested that we create an LLC to begin some sort of write-off with our 5-acres. Now, I know there is a lot of logic to this, but I am the kind of person that if I am going to work at anything, I ultimately want it to make money - not "mostly lose" for the tax break. So, we brainstormed and we have decided to begin a small farm. (If you knew me at all, you would get tickled because I have no farming experience, I tend to name all our chickens and I work at an office all day).

We are starting with the obvious: boarding horses.
This requires only repairs to the barn and a good cleaning of the extra stalls and grooming area. We already keep our two well - adding two more will get our LLC going and cover all our costs for our own two horses.

We have partnered with another local farmers for hay (mostly fertilizer and labor - my husband - not me) and will possibly participate in cotton.

The most expensive part of this will be the cattle. We have land we can lease for pasture, but finding the right cattle at the best price is taking a little work. I am also a little anxious to get written agreements going with the folks we are partnering with. They are absolutely "stand-up" guys but I am not as comfortable with hand-shake agreements as my husband is.

Does anyone have a clue of a normal agreement between farmers would work or where I can go for that information? Each situation is different: sometimes we are going to front the seed/fertilzer costs and other times we are providing tools (tractor) and materials. I know we are getting near unlimited hay for our horses for now, but if we add cattle, that would not work as it wouldn't be fair for the others.

Any advice or good resources would be highly appreciated!