Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The last time that I recommitted myself to not counting calories, something weird occurred concurrently: I lost my taste for some of my favorite convenience foods. The two I relied on most were protein bars (mostly Luna bars) and Lean Cuisines/microwaveable lunches.

At work we only get a half an hour break, which is sort of criminal but has the bonus of making it nearly impossible to waste your money by going out for lunch every day (don't worry, we still have the option of paying $9, or $8.50 with our discount, in the cafeteria for an "artisan" turkey sandwich, meaning they put pesto on it.) I turned to microwaveable lunches because they're cheap, easy, and the nutritional stats really aren't bad- generally a fair amount of protein and fiber with some micronutrients thrown in. I still don't think they are a terrible option for you, but I started to realize how much sodium and sugar and, frankly, weird ingredients that I can't identify they contain. I started to get the feeling that they (conspiracy ahead, please disregard if you don't like woo woo) were engineered specifically to make me crave their products because of the stuff they contain. Overall, I just thought it might be healthier to pack my lunch with something that wouldn't survive the nuclear holocaust.

The main options have been: leftovers from the night before, pasta salad, pita pockets stuffed with cheese and apple and turkey, and salad with whatever protein I can find. Now, I have not sworn off all convenience foods- who the hell has time to make EVERYTHING from scratch? I guess I could order a wife from Russia to do that for me but she might be prettier than me and my apartment is too small. So I do rely on some packaged stuff but I try to make sure they don't contain weird stuff. Like my new friend, Trader Joe's Tabbouleh! Nothing but bulgur, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, tomatoes and some other spices. Nom. I'm currently eating it on a salad with mixed greens, persian cucumbers, mini bell peppers and Gruyere. Tasty. Just crying out for a giant bowl of figgy pudding to make up for the healthfulness (yes, I'm craving figgy pudding and I don't know why.)

Let's go to Trader Joe's!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Xtreme Coopining

I've felt like a bit of a fraud since I'm not as into sugar free/diet food stuff. For the most part, I've given them up in favor of eating only stuff I really like, which generally translates into not eating as much as I once did so the calorie intake is probably pretty much the same. I even purposefully seek out the Greek yogurt with some fat (which can be hard to find.) But I still love food and like to blog occasionally, so let's just agree that on those occasions I will just write about food, whether it be healthy food or not. Sounds good to me.

So today I wanna talk about grocery shopping, and more specifically, the best way to save your broke as some money by using coupons. There is great controversy on the pronunciation of the word "coupon." I believe in my heart that the proper way is "coo-pon", but other pronuciations include "cue-pon" and, on the "warsh" and "pitcher" end of the scale, "coopin." I kinda like "coopin", so much so that I wrote coopin on the front of my coopin envelope and henceforth will always refer to them as coopins.

I really can't remember if my mom used them when I was a kid- I think she did and I probably found it mortifying so I've blocked it out. I started using them when I moved out of my parents' house a few years ago and experienced what it is to buy all of your own crap. Here's how it is: lame. Enter coopins.

I read a message board that snarks on TV shows, and they love to hate Extreme Couponing. Lots of people on the board claim that coupons don't really save you any money, and they refer a lot to "coupon math" with a fair amount of derision. I just think they aren't doing it right. It took me awhile to get good at it, but now I'm a coopin queen. Here are some tips:

1. Coopins won't help you if the generic is cheaper. Don't be a dummy- your coopin for 50 cents off Campbell's chicken stock isn't doing you any good if the generic stuff is a dollar cheaper anyway. Make sure it's actually saving you money. BUT don't forget that sometimes the generic sucks, so know your limits.

2. Coopins work best when combined with sales. I think Kroger is the best grocery store because their prices are better AND the Kroger plus card can save you a shit ton of money, especially if you coopin. Most of the time, I won't use the coopin unless it's also on sale with the plus card, because in general, generic is always cheaper (though I prefer not to buy generic for boring philosophical reasons and if you wanna hear them, leave a comment.)  A good example is AlmondBreeze almond milk. Regularly, it's like $3.59 a carton, but it's often on sale with the plus card for $2.99, and they put out coopins all the time for $1.00 off. So really, you've saved $1.60. Most of the time, if it's not on sale too, I won't even buy it. Which leads me to the next tip:

3. Know when to say, "Not this week." Be patient. Wait till it's onsale unless it's something you need desperately. This also lends itself well to not buying food you'll waste just because you have the coopin. That doesn't help you.

4. The circular is my friend. I get the Thursday paper now, and literally the only part I read is the Kroger ad. I take a look, sit down with my giant binder of recipes and my coopin envelope, and plan my meals for the week. It saves a tremendous amount of money and cuts down on food waste. For example, last week I saw that top sirloin was on sale and immediately thought of a recipe I had for mushroom-sirloin skewers that I hadn't made yet because top sirloin is fucking expensive! But it wasn't that week, so I made it, and all is well. This is especially useful for meat: if you have room in your freezer, ALWAYS check what kinds of meat are onsale and stock up if something special (this week it was center cut pork chops) is a good price. Also helpful for canned pantry items.

I have more but this is getting boring. I used these tips to do my grocery shopping today, which will make me lunch every weekday, breakfast every morning, snacks, and 3 dinners with lots of leftovers, plus a few pantry stocking items & the porkchops that were onsale. My receipt says that I saved $26.60 with my plus card and coopins- 29%. Keep in mind that I buy at least 50% organic, and this is all pretty healthy food, and I'm pretty happy with it.

Good luck with your coopins!

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Excuse the really lame title of this post. But it's been a long while. I think it's been such a long time because I thought, "No one really cares what diet I'm indulging in or what I'm putting into my mouth. I don't take pictures of my food or post the incredibly boring meal I'm having on Facebook, so why make a fuckin blog about it?" (Seriously everyone on my timeline, lay the hell off of the status updates that say "Chicken salad with roasted red peppers on ciabatta for dinner!" as if you deserve a medal for actually getting in your kitchen and cooking something for yourself. Big deal. People do it all over the world, all the time. Yes, I realize I used to do just that on this very blog but I've grown up and realized nobody cares.) But I'm posting tonight because something on TV caught my eye.

I'm currently settled in my chair in front of an episode of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition and Lord, is it pissing me off. Did anyone ever think that our culture places such a premium on thinness that just being a normal weight is not ok, so people who have perfectly normal bodies just give up and let themselves go because, hey, I won't ever be perfect, so fuck it? Clearly that doesn't explain the fact that people make a lot of horrible food choices and are sedentary and are just misinformed about nutrition and what they're REALLY putting in their mouths. I know that.

But come the hell on. I think a lot of my own issues with my body stem from this very idea. For a long time, I was always on the slightly heavy end of normal weight for my body. I thought this was totally unacceptable and I don't think I've ever really gotten over it- I needed to be THIN because THIN was the best weight to be. Conversely, I am at exactly the normal weight for my height (smack in the middle of normal BMI) and when people call me skinny, I have to acknowledge that it's Just Not True. Just like normal weight is not Fat, normal weight is not Skinny just because nobody is a normal weight anymore. And I still sometimes feel seriously crappy, like my totally normal body weight is just too big, because it isn't skinny, and damnit, I want to be skinny. But I also want to eat cake sometimes and not be totally neurotic about every bite I put in my mouth and be a complete prisoner to food, so FOR NOW (it's always just for now) I am going to move the hell on with my life. I quit counting calories. I feel better. Can we just accept that our frames/body types have a lot to do with genetics, and that some of us are naturally more thin and some of us are naturally a bit more stocky and that it's ok? Can we? Obese= not normal but variations in frame/weight= totally normal.

Back to the TV show. Two things are bothering me. 1: this lady has lost 77 pounds. It's time for her weigh in. Sprightly young gay trainer is very optimistic that she will be down to 250 pounds. She steps on the scale. Breathes are held, prayers said, commercial break is shown, and when we come back, she weighs 258 pounds. Everyone is absolutely HORRIFIED. Let alone that she lost 77 pounds, which is incredible. Nope, she is a FAILURE and WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH SALLY??? I think losing 77 pounds means that Sally deserves a damn minute to celebrate. Give her a damn minute.

But Sally isn't off the hook with me, which leads me to thing that is bothering me number 2. This quote: "I don't know how I'm going to work, look for a job, AND work out." Really, lady? I work a LOT. Some may say I'm a serious workaholic. I work my day job and I am rehearsing all week and I have shows every weekend. And I make time. I think the RDA of exercise is 45 mins 3 times a week. I know this lady spends 45 minutes 3 times a week either sitting around, watching tv, playing on the computer, or doing something else to waste time. You have time to work out. Walk, ride your bike, hula hoop. Move your ass. The fact that this lady is CRYING because she can't do 20 minutes of stationary bike is too much for me. I don't care if you are fat, thin, or normal- you have 45 minutes 3 times a week. The benefits are numerous. Do it.