Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How to eat healthy on under $50 a week. Part Uno.

Let's face facts...I'm a thirty-two year old broke college kid.  One thing I am very mindful of however, is money.  I am paying for my education out of pocket, and am only able to work a few hours a week, so my bank account is something I keep a close eye on. matter what our situations, we all have to eat. So here is a bit of what gets me through the week.  I cook for two, and have to keep it on the lowest budget possible.  As a nutrition student, and healthy eater overall, this sounds like it could be a scary and daunting task, but it's not as difficult as it seems if you are willing to make sacrifices and stick to your plan!
    More often than not, I can manage a full week of food for around $40, but those occasional toilet paper and cleaning supply week tend to tip the scale just a tab higher.  I do the majority of my shopping at Wegmans (hooray highest ranked grocery store!!) and one thing that makes it even more appealing is the weekly coupons they send out.  I recommend signing up for their definitely pays off.  They send out a new mailer every month, and almost every week there is a $5 off the purchase of $20 or more get the idea.  In my basket, this means a whole roaster chicken a week, nearly free!!!  I do get the family size bags in all veggies when they are offered.  One, it's a great time saver, and two, there will be more than enough for the whole week.
   I understand that not everyone has access to a Wegmans, or even a grocery store, but stick with me matter where you shop you can take away some great tips and ideas to keep your shopping trips to a minimum.  My shopping list is something that I'd like to start sharing, along with some quick, easy and healthy recipes to get you through the week with a little more money in your pocket.
$37.79 to be exact
So this is what my haul looked like this week.  Not pictured was a whole chicken, and two containers of spinach (I forgot to take them out of the fridge)With the chicken included the total weekly cost would be $43.56  Not too shabby for my wallet.  On to the cooking and preparation!  
      I try and take one day to make all my food for the week, this not only save a ton of time during the week to let me study, work, and just live, but allows me to reach in and grab anytime I'm hungry so I don't go out for food.  If I do need a second day to cook, it's typically roasting more veggies, which means I can sit and study while they're in the oven.

Post cooking fiesta.

     Here is what most of it looks like heading into the fridge.  First thing first, that chicken goes right into the crock effort needed at all.  I throw on some salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder and call it a day.  This just gets shredded and thrown in a container.  Oven gets set at 385, and I coat brussel sprouts, broccoli and mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper and throw them all in.  The carrots I sliced and threw in a pan to saute with some onions, garlic powder and salt.  These are always on demand around the house.
     The container on the top right is a big batch of veggie stir fry.  I cooked up two cups of rice, steamed fresh broccoli and carrots, diced up the rest of the mushrooms and threw in a can of diced baby corn and some sliced water chestnuts...viola! Stir fry to last the week, and if we want to get crazy, we can throw in some of the chicken from the crock pot.  
     Another cheap, fast and easy dish I can throw together is a crust-less egg bake.  This is something easy to grab as breakfast on the go, when you come home from the gym, or even as a dinner if you're so inclined!  Here is an easy recipe to get you started:

Crust-less egg bake:

6-10 eggs (depending on the size you want to make)

1 medium red onion

3-4 handfuls of fresh spinach (you can use frozen if it's all you have, but drain it well!)

1/4-1/2 cup feta cheese (or any you have laying around)

1/2 cup milk or milk substitute (I use unflavored almond)

Any other veggies or really anything you feel like using (this is a great way to use any leftovers)

salt and pepper to taste

1.) Mix everything in a bowl and pour it into a baking dish...size is up to you!

2.) Bake for about 25-40 minutes on 375, until cooked through (the middle will cook last)

3.) Cut it up and throw it in the fridge.  Yup, that easy.

    If I have any left from the week before, I will either cook up two boneless pork cutlets, two small steak, or fish...whatever happens to be in the freezer.  This adds a bit more variety to just chicken and veggies, and offers a wider nutrient profile.
   Now, some of you might be looking at that veggie spread and are wondering where all the fruit is....welp, it's not there!  This week was a veggie heavy shopping list, since not all of the veggies will be used up this week, that leaves more room for fruit next week.  The key is creating a balanced eating pattern.  Maybe not every piece of the myplate recommendation is there every single day, but if you can squeeze it in most of the time, you're doing great.

  So that's that...quick easy, hopefully as painless to read as it was to cook.  Remember, cooking doesn't have to be a daunting task to take on every night...just every few days.  The eating healthy part...that's the one that should be every day...or at least most.

Monday, April 13, 2015

2014: What not running taught me about running, and life.

    Last year came and went...and it happened fast.  I had every intention of following my plan of shorter races, focusing on really cutting my 50k time down, and then attempting Oil Creek again...and you know what, not one of those things happened and I couldn't have asked for a better year.
      Don't get me wrong the lack of racing is something I missed, but I gained so much more from taking time off, I learned how important that really is.  I had started off the year fast on my feet, running shorter miles, more intervals, more fartleks-getting more speed.  I felt like my plan was steadily falling into place.  I looked at race calenders, plotting and deciding how to space out my season.  I entered my first race on May, a 50k to see how my legs would do early in the year.  A month before the race I made the decision to contact the race director and step down to the 25k distance, I just didn't feel like I had enough long runs under my belt to go through happily.
  About 3 miles in I stepped of the edge of a rock awkwardly and twisted my ankle.  Instead of calling it a day I decided to change up my gait slightly and keep moving.  It paid off and I came through the finish line with a third in my age group.  I gave it a week to heal up and see how it would be.
      I ended up running a total of three races this year.  That ankle just didn't seem to want to cooperate with the ice the elevation, the rest, after a few months it was still tender with every run longer than a few miles., so I made the decision not race the rest of the season other than for fun, and I wouldn't be running any distance races.
     At first it was hard to picture a year passing without a formal training schedule, and a race plan, but as time began to wear on I realized there was nothing more I needed than a break.
     Taking that break allowed me the time to turn my focus inside, to really focus on being the best version of myself.  Running is something that I love dearly, but it isn't who I am, and I had forgotten that.  I had forgotten  to keep up with the things I want to achieve to find that version of myself  again and truly be that person.
    Looking beck through this blog I realized it was based on running and going back to school, so I made that happen.  I applied to go back to school full time and study nutrition, and I'm doing just that.  I am currently a junior at West Chester University and am struggling through a world of biochemistry, anatomy and physiology and nutrition classes, and as difficult as it is to get back in the routine of making myself study and trying to learn all new material..I wouldn't change it.
     I realized the importance of pursuing a career, not just having a job, and well as doing something rewarding with a long future ahead.   So a few years later than I had planned, I feel like life is on track.
    I am back to running and working out, not with race plans in the future, but they aren't totally out of the question.  I continue to cook and plan race nutrition and fueling strategies for others, and hope to continue to share that and some good food along the way.

 Not running was the best way to look at other pieces that were missing and fill it all in.  May the trail that is life keep winding and always open up to a beautiful view.