My first forays into researching diets for body builders on a budget involved three key ingredients:
This made sense to me, because being in the military, I spend a lot of time with a lot of guys who are going for “those gains.” A few of them in particular I watched at countless lunches and dinners, grimly plowing through plates and plates of chicken, broccoli, and rice. As a girl who puts a lot of effort into a workout schedule so she can ENJOY eating, and a foodie in general, I refuse to do this. Food should be fun, not a hellish experience masticating the same things over and over and over again. But how to solve this? As a girl on a budget, by necessity I find myself making the same purchases over and over and over again.
Peanut butter Milk
Why? They are ECONOMICAL. I also know what they cost, and can plan out a week’s worth of meals now while being confident that I can stay on budget. I’ve considered venturing away from these core items, but the stretch room in my budget is very, very small. When you’re weighing your bananas to make sure that they are exactly three pounds, you can’t exactly charge willy nilly into a new idea and buy the materials for it. That’s partially why I started this blog, so you all can force me to get creative. And I’m beginning to discover new rules to ensure that creativity strikes, and food boredom doesn’t cause me to chew off my own hand just for the sake of variety. I call my new strategy:
THE ONE NEW THING PRINCIPLE
See, in each weekly grocery store purchase, you should have $2-$3 of experimental money. This should be spent on random things that look good and are on sale. My most favorite rice and beans recipe comes from one such buy, when I noticed that Safeway had organic cilantro for 99 cents. I had no idea what to do with it, but I did some research and low and behold, I discovered it was amazing with Siracha and the old vegetarian staple. So anyway, with this money, buy just one new thing. Next, go online and find out what you can make involving it, and all of your old things. One of my favorite sites to do this is yummly, mainly because I can type in the ingredients I have (like oatmeal and beans) and get recipes that include such an unlikely duo.
This week’s new thing was actually given to me by my grandmother. One happy day I opened my door to discover a mailed package of garlic and herb English muffins. My first thought was for egg sandwiches, but since I don’t have a freezer, I needed something that I would eat more often. Oh if only peanut butter went well with garlic and herbs, I could eat them for breakfast! While pondering this problem, I happened to go out with some friends for lunch. I had a wonderful black bean burger, and went Eureka! I’ve got it! I ended up buying lentils at the grocery store instead of beans because they were on sale, but the idea still held. I would use what I normally have, beans (or lentils this time) and oatmeal to make burgers to have with my English muffins. This is something completely different from my usual lunch of a bowl of beans and rice, despite containing almost the exact same ingredients. Thus the trying to utilize my One New Thing made me expand my horizons while still enjoying the peace of mind that comes from being on budget. I would have never done this before starting this blog!
In summary, when trying to stretch your money, you can’t rely on the raw food items to give you the variety that adds a certain zest to each meal. We can’t buy secret ingredients, so in all essence we have to become the secret ingredient! One new thing can create one whole new meal, and a whole new appreciation for becoming a P3BG.
And just to let you know, the lentil burgers turned out great!
This Week in Updates:
To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it this week! I truly didn’t. I went to Safeway to buy tampons, mouthwash, grapefruit, and instant coffee (I still haven’t figured out how to buy organic coffee yet, hey I’m trying!) and couldn’t believe the $27 bill. Who knew that tampons are over $5 for a box?! Anyway, that left me with only $23 left for most of the food I’m actually eating this week. What did I end up doing? I worked the crap out of every single sale I could find. Salad mix on sale for $5/pound? Do you know how much a half pound of salad is? A LOT! Lentils on sale? Got those! And I ground out just enough peanut butter to fill in the gaps. I was going for $20 (because I had glass bottles with me so I made $2 on the bottle deposit) and I ended up with $19.97. And yes, I did weigh my bananas as well! So I left the Sacramento Co-Op extremely happy and proud of myself. Now if only I can make this budget work well enough so that I can buy organic coffee! One step at a time, one step at a time.
The Recipe: Spicy Curry Lentil Burgers
These taste an awful lot like felafel! Though really you can put in any spices you want. The essential ingredients are just the oatmeal and the lentils.
4 cups cooked lentils (make them extra mushy, or else your burgers will not stick together)
2 cups uncooked non instant oatmeal
curry spice, salt, and Siracha to taste
Make it Pop! Add a grilled onion and some fried mushrooms into the mix. Something about onions and mushrooms and lentils is just amazing!
To make burgers, simply drain any access fluid from the lentils. Add the lentils, spices, and oatmeal in a bowl and mix thoroughly until you have a wet mix that easily forms into patties. If patties are crumbly, refrigerate to help them stick together more. Use your hands to make your desired burger sized patties. Fry up until golden brown on each side. Enjoy!
This Week I was Feeling….
Some late nights and really hard muscle work left me craving the thick chocolate cookie swirls in The Tonight Dough!