November Update Week 1 & 2


Week 2 of November is off to a promising start. I’m actually around the $25 mark this week, with visions of variations on toast and chicken noodle soup.  I love cheese on toast, avocado toast, eggs on toast, and I’m very excited about the fresh bread. It was still faintly warm when I bought it! Continue reading


October Week 4 Update


My schedule has been all over the place the last few weeks. I am simultaneously incredibly lazy and terrible with change, which means that whenever there is a shift, I don’t do diddly squat. But if I wanted to be honest the largest obstacle to blogging the past two weeks is that damned Marshmallow update on my Android phone, because my phone doubles as my camera and the usb settings are different. Ultimately, after restarting and reinstalling things on my laptop and my phone, I realized that my USB cable was at fault. Lesson of the day: Double check the hardware first. Continue reading

October Week 3 Update: Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

groceries 10 17

The grocery total this week was 21.91, and I skipped the farmer’s market. After a brief perusal, none of the vegetables appealed to me, and I have a dozen kiwis and persimmon as well as the spaghetti squash from last week. This week’s menu includes spaghetti squash fritters with bacon and feta, home fries, and pumpkin spice lattes. On Thursday, I made chicken in red wine sauce and have been eating it with quinoa. I also have a serving of olive pasta left. So, excluding breakfast, I only need to figure out ten meals. I also have a few balls of pizza dough in the freezer, and the makings of my favorite butter onion tomato sauce in the pantry. Continue reading

October Week 2 Update: Food Wastage and Eggs

My sister came to visit last weekend, which was great for me and even greater for being a lazy butt around the kitchen. We ate out a lot over the weekend, which was really fun. I had no expectations on staying on budget during her stay, but she’s been gone for days and things have continued to deteriorate.

This whole budget mindset is built on sand, the smallest change and it all comes tumbling down. Much like that time I decided to give up refined sugar. Did I even last a day? After roasting beets and sauteing their greens, I ended up throwing out the whole thing five days later, because they took on a weird sour taste. The bag of spinach also liquefied. Natalie: 0; Food Wastage: 2.

In preparation for my sister’s arrival, I did my grocery shopping early and then promptly lost one of the receipts.

In terms of subsistence, I’ve been eating a lot of eggs, boxed mac n cheese with fresh broccoli, and finally, on Wednesday, I cooked the first proper meal of the week. It was a hodge podge of half a pound of spaghetti with pan fried chicken sausage with mushrooms and zucchini and half a cup of Trader Joe’s olive tapenade. Remember those disgusting slimy meatballs of last month? Well, it wasn’t entirely my fault. Even pan fried, the sausage has a weird rubbery, almost mcnugget-y texture. That will not be a re-purchase.

Suffice to say, the pasta wasn’t the best thing I’ve made. But Tj’s olive tapenade isn’t bad as a pasta sauce and it’s amazing as a pizza sauce. And after YEARS of trying to discover the perfect brownie recipe, it was a mixed blessing to discover how nom nom delicious TJ’s gluten free brownie mix is. My sister and I had it for breakfast in a pizza pan (more chewy end pieces, yo!). She added slivvered almonds and sea salt.

In other news, I’m thinking about buying a 20 pack of Shin Ramen from Amazon. It was less than a dollar a packet, but the price has since gone up in the past few days so I’m going to wait. Even though it’s probably terrible for you, I love ramen as an easy carb. It’s already fully cooked so it only takes a few minutes. I like making “fancy” ramen with soft boiled eggs or cooked “dry” with tomato sauce and sea food. I really want to try making budae jjigae. According to Wikipedia, it originated during the Korean War and incorporated foods available on army bases such as sliced American cheese, spam, sliced sausages, baked beans, and macaroni. I have my eye on Cherry on my Sundae’s recipe.

Budget Challenge Update #6: Week in Review

Sorry for the delay in getting this post up. I was having some technical difficulties.

I’m elated that the September budget challenge is over. It wasn’t difficult to get enough to eat due to foodstuffs in the pantry, but I did have to put off buying unnecessary food like ice cream, chocolates, pumpkin spice, and croissants.

Not that I’m ready to go back to regular spending. I think I’ll continue posting my groceries for the next few weeks just to see how it goes.

In addition, to the roast chicken, potatoes, and green beans, I finally cooked up the miso eggplant to go with sesame noodles. I had dinner with my mother this week and was lucky enough to score leftovers; there was also a pizza party at work. I also ended up eating out twice this week (three times if you count Chez Mom).


I used an Epicurious recipe for the miso glazed eggplant, but I am less than enamored with the results. It may be because of the lackluster performance of the toaster oven, but I did note that the cooking time for the Epicurious recipe was significantly less than the one for the New York Times (six minutes versus fifteen to twenty). The result was a combination of burned yet raw.


I used the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Sesame Noodles. They were delicious.


Budget Challenge Update #5 Groceries

receiptLast night while I was doing my grocery and meal planning I had a huge craving for roast chicken (I’ve been eyeing the Zuni chicken recipe), and at $10.46, this 3.9 pound bird swallowed up nearly half of my budget. The previous week was mostly vegetarian. The total of this week’s grocery bill is $21.21.

I rationalized the meat purchase because of all those “one chicken, five dinners” blog posts. Though, I might have changed my mind if I googled a little more extensively. The meat only lasts two or three meals, and they use stock to make soup or risotto for the rest, which I think is sorta cheating. But a month or so ago, my roommate bought a rotisserie chicken and after picking the carcass clean, she froze the nuggets of meat in Ziploc baggies to add to soups and quesadillas and all sorts of convenient deliciousness. Continue reading

Budget Challenge Update #4

zucchini gratinDuring the weekend I succumbed to boxed macaroni and cheese. I was feeling incredibly lazy and I need to pack something for lunch on Monday. I also finally threw out the dreaded slime meatballs but I kept the tomato sauce. It actually has a really nice meat-y flavor. I had it with pasta for dinner on Monday and lunch on Tuesday with a bit left over for today. Continue reading

Budget Challenge Update #3 Groceries


The weather has warmed up again so it looks like fruit smoothies will make up the bulk of my breakfast this week. I can also mix things up with avocados and eggs for breakfast or as part of dinner. I wanted to focus on getting more veggies this week, and use my stores of quinoa, farro, and rice. Miso glazed egg plant, stir fried zucchini, etc. Continue reading

Budget Challenge Update #2

After a rough start, the first week of the budget challenge did not go too poorly. I had oatmeal for breakfast most days and mixed things up this morning with an almond berry smoothie. In addition to making the meatball disaster, this is what I made this week:

Continue reading