Natural Ink

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Meal Planning & Eating Paleo at Aldi: Is It Possible?

Being an adult can suck. I've spent the last week without Internet because of our data plan, for example. It was not a fun time.

Also not a fun time: meal/menu planning. I'm growing to like it some but when I'm at the checkout and that total is going up, up, up, I don't like it so much. I try to plan out two weeks at a time and try to use ingredients for two dishes (or leftovers for a couple of days, at least). With my restrictions, we can't buy the good ole cheap stuff to keep our bill low, like Spam, Ramen, and Kraft Mac & Cheese. Trust, if I could tolerate those things we would be living off of them.

But, I can't. No gluten, dairy, soy, citrus, beans, legumes, some nuts, nightshades, a lot of fruits, etc.. That's not hard to shop for, but it can be a little harder to find good deals.

I had a somewhat small list since I still had some meat in the freezer from Costco, so I just needed other ingredients for side dishes and entrees. This menu looked like this:

Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Cobb Salad
Sunday: Mediterranean Sweet Potatoes
Monday: Baked Vegetable Soup
Tuesday: Turkey Sausages & Sauerkraut
Wednesday: Pasta
Thursday: Taco Salad
Friday: Beef Liver & Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Saturday: Hamburger Salad
Sunday: Turkey Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries

Not two full weeks, but some of those leftovers will stretch us a few more days between trips. Justin isn't home for lunch most days, so that cuts down there, and I usually have some leftovers or a wrap or a salad. Breakfast is also usually some kind of leftovers for me, eggs for Justin if he has breakfast. Very big on leftovers here. If it ain't broke, don't fix it (although I would choke a bear most mornings for pancakes, toast, grits, and eggs - maybe at some point in our lives).

Usually I shop at Walmart and Sprouts. I've found Sprouts to be cheaper a lot of times when it comes to produce and some meats. Bonus: that produce is usually organic, and meat can be organic and sometimes grass-fed for the same price as Walmart's conventional stuff or sometimes cheaper - depending on how much meat you need. Just check their flyers.
But, that was still adding up and with work being slow lately, I needed to find more way to save money.

Enter Aldi.
I had only been to Aldi once before yesterday. It was a big failure for me that first time. There was string inside my hummus, and the bagged bananas were black and liquefied. So, yes, I was hesitant to go back. But, I'm trying my hardest to save where we can since we are basically living paycheck to paycheck and that's just not fun. So I got my quarter and found the reusable bags and off I went with my mom.

Ended up with:

Chicken Breasts: $3.77
Turkey Sausages: $3.69
GF Pasta: $1.89
Chicken Thighs: $4.19
Tomatoes: $1.69
Bag of Sweet Potatoes: $1.99
Zucchini: $2.99 for 3
Artichoke Hearts: $2.69
Bananas: $1.09
Olives: $1.19
Diced Tomatoes: $.59 
Almonds: $2.99

Total: $28.76

Okay, you cannot beat that. Shopping Paleo at Aldi could be pretty damn easy if you're not set on organic or grass-fed.

I even picked up some snacks for Justin pre-work, a bottle of wine for under $3 (that I hope has zero wheat paste involved), and me some GF cookies (that are AMAZING) for only $2.49.

Our total was still under $50.

Can we do without the cookies and plan better for him before work? Yes. This is a work in progress.

I did still need to go to Sprouts for some produce Aldi didn't have and I still needed to go to Walmart for the liver (Sprouts was out), deli meat for wraps, air filters, Emmy rawhides, etc.

BUT that still brought us to barely $100 and the food should hopefully last us about two weeks.

I'm definitely impressed with Aldi and everything we've tried so far has been great. But I haven't cooked any meat yet. Which brings me to the end of this:

Some things were still sketchy at Aldi. And be careful when it comes to the meat and produce. Some of the produce was in bad shape. Some of the meat had very leaky packages and some had even expired 4 days ago. Yikes. So I'm slightly afraid to get my meat from there, but I figure as long as the date is okay and the package isn't gross, we should be fine. I would recommend not buying the stuff that looks like they package there and get the stuff that's more vacuum sealed. Although even some of that stuff was past expiration.

I did save a lot but I won't shop at Aldi exclusively. I can't, really, since they don't carry all we need. And I still will probably buy some meat from Sprouts or Walmart instead of there. If we can save enough on more box and canned items at Aldi, we should have the extra for the better meat and eggs elsewhere. That's the plan, anyway!

What's your experience with Aldi? I know so many people that adore it, so is mine just lacking in some areas?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Blink: Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls

Started off mysterious and capturing. The twist mid-book was a surprise, but then it felt a little disappointing. The ending was a bit predictable, but still good.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snow Day

We very rarely get snow here in Alabama. But when we do it's usually a State of Emergency. We don't have snow plows out here and no one salts the roads this far out in the country. So if it snows, we're kind of screwed. Yesterday we got about two and a half inches. I was so excited. I love snow.

If I lived somewhere that got snow frequently I'm sure I wouldn't love it this much, but here it's such a treat. Schools get closed, everyone's usually off work. It turns out to be a small snow-filled vacation.

Unfortunately for me, Justin's work decided not to close until 4 and the snow started at 1. He didn't get home until dark, so there went my 'Snow Day Selfies' plan. But Emmy and I had a blast. This was her first time ever seeing snow. Chick was so confused. She kept her paw up a lot (a self-calming position for dogs) the first few minutes and just looked at me like 'What the HELL is this!?' and ate the snow. But then she realized, Hey, this is fun! and we were off. We stayed out there for hours playing in the snow. If you've never played in the snow with a puppy, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

2016 Makeover

I had plans for this to be a really interesting lifestyle blog last year. Problem is, my life isn't very interesting right now. With Justin taking my car to work, working long hours, me working from home, and me being around the house the majority of the time, nothing really interesting ever happens. Maybe in the future, but for now there's no way this could survive as a lifestyle blog.

So, this year I took it back to the drawing board. What do I love? Natural living and writing. So, Natural Ink. I am determined this year to post regularly and grow a reader base.

There will be product reviews, short stories, things in the holistic world, things in the writing world, and, when it's interesting, things in the life world. I'm excited. Are you excited?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The First Christmas

This year was Emmy's first Christmas, Justin's first Christmas, and our first Christmas together. Lot of milestones there! It was a really nice one. Christmas Eve is our huge day of traditions and it was really nice having Justin there for it all. Christmas Day also had some traditions in it. We're now able to leave Emmy for about an hour and a half without her freaking out which has been amazing for us. We can run a couple errands together now instead of someone always staying home with her. Yay for growth! So we got to go have Christmas dinner at my parent's with my grandma and hang out for a bit. Lot of lovely moments. One of the best Christmases to date.

Hope y'all had a merry one!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Book Blink: Safekeeping

Beginning was intense and capturing. The journey was also intense but started to dwindle near the end. I'm so pissed about the 'shocking news' and the ending.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Book Blink: The Séance.

Started out good and creepy. Made me not miss school and 'friends.' Quite disappointed with the killer and the ending.