Gearing Up

T – 1.5 hours til I’m at Wrigley cheering for my Cubbies.

Yup, I’m a super cool kid.

I tried to cover some healthy bases (baseball pun: intentional) this morning.

I went for a run this morning, covering a little more than 4 miles. (who needs hot yoga when you have summertime in Chicago?  I sweated like a big, hairy man.  It was soooper attractive 😉 )  I came home and pumped some iron.  (Ok, not iron per se, just 8 lb’ers.) 3 circuits of bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, arnold presses and then I moved on to about 5 minutes of ab work.

Then I had some Ezekial bread toasted with TJ’s Valencia PB.

Standard.

This is my pre-game food:

Rabbit food.

And some hummus.  (or in the words of Zohan, hhhcchhhhummus)

Nope, this isn’t really “lunch” (trust me, I need a lot more food than that in order to avoid passing out into my Old Style), but I’m planning on some ball park food.  And by some, I mean a lot.

Hot dogs, here I come! 🙂

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Another Bag Another Dollar

I think by now we’ve established how much I love grocery shopping.  Especially at Trader Joe’s.

source

While I was blessed with this bizarre gift (that has come in handy often in my life, especially when I’m trading favors.  Would you believe that some people would actually rather clean a bathroom than spend a romantic evening with T. Joe??) I know many people don’t share my feelings.

And let’s face it- grocery shopping is even less fun when you feel like you got robbed by the cashier.  It’s easy to blow a ton of cash at the store without realizing it and later find yourself wondering why you didn’t just run down the street to Potbelly for a tummy-filling sub instead.  I find this is especially true when you aren’t cooking for an army of children and things tend to go to waste.

Here are some tips to make your grocery trip worth it!

1.  Go with a list. Oldest trick in the book, along with “don’t shop hungry”.  It just makes sense, kids.  If you’re a man (or woman) with a plan, you won’t be as tempted to load up with impulse buys.

2. Carry a basket instead of rolling with a cart. First of all, I find that this makes me more agile when I’m racing the mom with 4 toddlers for the last jar of peanut butter.  Second,  you won’t buy as much and you’ll have to actually think about what you’re putting in your basket otherwise you’ll end up schlepping a bunch of extra junk with you.

3. Be choosy. Pick a store that you know has good prices (this is why I love TJ’s- good prices on everything all the time) and once you’re there, don’t just grab the first brands you see.  It’s amazing how much brands differ in price for the same product and you can save a lot of $$ if you just look around.

4. Buy only what you crave. This is my all time favorite tip.  Don’t go to the grocery store saying “I need broccoli” if you don’t really want it.  If you need to fill your green veggie quota and asparagus sounds more appealing that week- buy that instead!  I find that having categories of food on my list is more useful that specific varieties because I know whatever I buy will be appealing to me all week long!

That last tip applies to everything but Ezekial bread.  Zeke is always on my list. 😉

Once you haul your loot home…

5.  Organize the goods. If you throw everything in the fridge/cabinets all slap-dash, it won’t look appealing and I’d bet you $1 that you won’t eat most of it (but not more than $1- homie’s gotta buy her own groceries!).  I’d go so far as to suggest that you prep your veggies (wash/trim) when you get that home but I know that might be pushing it.

6. Create your own play book. Like a football coach.  You’ll be sure to include all of your players and get the best result.  I like to take a quick scan of what I’ve bought and write down any dishes that I could make with what I have.  That way, when I come home from work and need dinner I can just check out my list of meal ideas and don’t have to be creative on the spot.

Greek yogurt is always on the list, too.  I like me some protein in my yog.

7. Cook it all, baby. The #1 problem I’ve run into being a working girl living on my own is that I’ll make one of the chicken breasts and by the time I want another one they’ve gone bad.  Even if you’re only cooking for yourself or  yourself +1, make a huge batch of whatever you’re cooking.  It’ll last longer that way and will already be ready to eat next time you’re hungry.  This is very useful for me since I need to eat approximately every 45 minutes.  Just like an infant or teenage boy.  This brings  me to #8…

8. Use yo’ freezer. After you make said huge batch, package it up in portions and throw it in the freezer.  I often forget to do this (because I suck at defrosting.  Don’t ask me why.) but it’s awesome to open your freezer when you’re feeling uninspired or lazy and find a great meal you forgot you already made!

Mmm cheese.  String, cheddar, parmesan, asiago.  All strong reasons why I couldn’t go vegan.

I was going to make that list go to #10 but I was just so eloquent that I did it in 8!

Hopefully you can glean some help from my (insane amount of) experience in grocery shopping.  One day grocery shopping might make you feel like this too:


Happy shopping!

How do you feel about grocery shopping?  Do you find it hard to stay on a budget while planning meals?

Holy Street Fest, Batman

One reason why I love Chicago is that this city throws some rockin’ street festivals.

One of my personal favorites is Old St. Pats (yes, it’s a church.  Those Catholics suuuure know how to throw a party!)  Over the years, I’ve seen Pat Monahan  (from Train), The Barenaked Ladies and Big Head Todd and the Monsters.  Am I the only one that has sweet, sweet memories of their hit “Bittersweet”??

AAAAAHHHH!!!! Chicago is on fire….AGAIN!!!  Stupid cow!!

I keed, I keed…that was just a really weird/scary/beautiful cloud formation.  🙂

There were lots of great bands and people watching, and of course- some rockin’ porta-potties.  My favorite!!

There weren’t many healthy food options (I’ll be straight with you- I wasn’t really looking all that hard for healthy options.  The pizza was calling my name!  Can you hear it?  “Megaaan, I’m deeeelicious…” How could I resist?)

And when you start your Saturday off with some of this, how can you go wrong?

Ridiculous French toast.  It was inappropriately good.

Unfortunately, the weekend had to come to an end.

All together now:  sigghhhh.

I started my week off on a good foot- I went for a 3.5 mile run along the lake front.  Reason #852 why I love my new apartment:  I’m only about .5 mile from the lake and the awesome lakefront running/biking path. It was a tough run because I was feeling kind of tired, but I got ‘er done.

My (unpictured) breakfast was a 0% plain Greek yogurt and some watermelon chunks.

Mid-morning snack:

For some reason I am incapable of photographing my Ezekial bread before I start eating it.  Every. time.  What is that all about??  I can’t control myself, I tell you!!

I had a light lunch of salad and some shrimp cocktail.  (Compliments of Costco.  I heart you, Costco.)

I was hungry again 2 hours later, naturally.  I am like an infant that needs a feeding every few hours or else I kick and scream and cry.  It’s really awkward at the office.

Appropriately, I ate a Clif Z Bar.  They are intended for children. 🙂

Not my favorite flavor of all time, but pretty good!

I came home from a busy day at work with a hankerin’ for some good old fashioned home cooked food!

I made vegetable pad thai.  I didn’t use a recipe but here’s what I did:

  • Julienne vegetables of your choice.  I used about 1/4 of a huge red bell pepper, 1 big carrot, about 1/4 of an onion, some scallions.  I also minced a honkin’ clove of garlic.  I also threw in a handful of edamame for protein (and deliciousness).
  • Boil water and add a serving of rice noodles.  Salt the water and cook until they are soft (about 5 minutes).  Drain.
  • Make a quick sauce of equal parts (just a tablespoon or two) soy sauce, fish sauce and light colored vinegar.  Add as much chili paste as you can stand (I like it spicy!).
  • Put a little vegetable oil (or another oil with a high smoke point) in a pan and heat on high.  Add the vegetables and sautée for a minute or two.  Add the sauce and noodles and stir fry until combined.  Ta da!!

This is what I came up with:

It was all kinds of good.  I made a salad to go with it:

Mmmmm, I’m a good cook!!  Right, Mom?? 😉

What’s your favorite thing going on in your city this summer?