30 day eat-in challenge: Week 1

Well, I have good news and I have bad news.

I’ll give you the bad news first: We did pretty awful eating in the first week of our eat-in challenge.

I took two personal days in addition to our paid holiday on the 4th and the weekend, which gave me five days to staycation at the house. Of course, at our place, staycation includes day trips to the beach and the zoo and a little eating out (since it’s our favorite thing to do).

Friday: We went to St. Augustine for the day with the specific plan of using a $25 Restaurant.com gift certificate to the Florida Cracker Cafe I bought last year and never used. We left the house around noon, after breakfast, and were planning to eat an early dinner and skip lunch (to avoid eating out). Unfortunately, when we sat down at lunch (around 3) the waitress told us right away the certificate wasn’t applicable for lunch, only dinners.

Cue sad trombone.

After a short meltdown because I was starving, hot and disappointed, we found a cool place to hang out and get a Coke, then did a little light shopping.

Then we ate a phenomenal dinner for $15.00 (that’s including tax and tip). We had enough left over for a second dinner!

Saturday: We ate our breakfast and lunch at home, then were invited to a cookout at our neighbor’s house. We ate their hamburgers and mayonnaise based salads and chicken wings and didn’t spend a dime.

Sunday: We decided to take advantage of our annual pass to the Tampa Zoo. We ate breakfast at home, but did get a little snack at McDonalds ($6.00). We brought a snack to the zoo, then had dinner for under $10 at Panda Express. (Total for the day: $16.00)

Monday: Because we’d already done the hamburger/cookout stuff Saturday, we joined our friends for a July 4th pizza party, because what’s more American than Dominos? (Answer: lots of things.) They bought the pizza and we picked up salad, chips and soda, which we would have bought anyway as groceries (in fact, we had lots of this left over).

Tuesday: Our last day of staycation 2011 and since we’d already screwed the pooch as far as our challenge was concerned, we decided to eat dinner out one last time. This trip was to a Vietnamese restaurant and we used a coupon from our 2011 Entertainment Book. You guys, if you want to eat out on the cheap, and there are two or more people in your family, this book pays for itself in spades. We had a huge noodle bowl, a chicken terriyaki meal (they had a Japanese section to the menu — who knew?) and egg rolls for $12.00 (including tax and tip).

Wednesday: Last night was the first night we’d actually fixed dinner at our house. We had the leftovers from Friday along with some cheesy tater tots from the freezer. They were good, but not Sonic good. However, it didn’t cost us any money, so there’s that.

Thursday: That’s today, and we will be eating in, but not sure what we’ll be having. I’ll add this night in with next week’s recap.

So that’s the bad news.

The good news is that this challenge is four weeks long, and like pigging out while you’re on a diet, this week is a brand new week when we can start fresh. I was proud of us for not going overboard with our meals, sharing and getting water to drink. I was also proud of myself for only heading to Sonic once for a lemon-berry slush.

Although our meals were a little over my $10 imposed limit, they weren’t over excessively and we still have budget left over. It wasn’t a perfect week by any means, but it could have been worse.

I was looking at my freezer today — and this isn’t even the deep freezer, people — and it was just out of control filled with food. I wanted to take a picture of our pantry, too, to show you how ridiculous it is that we can’t just eat what’s there. A too-full pantry and freezer are just two of the many reasons I want to do this and do it right.

I’m calling to you guys to bring me your ideas, support and recipes. Seriously, if you have great recipes for chicken/beef that are quick and easy, email me or leave a link in the comments.

If you’re challenging yourself, too, how did you do?

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28 comments to 30 day eat-in challenge: Week 1

  • I’m going to try make this on the weekend!

    http://www.chow.com/recipes/11013-buttermilk-chicken-with-peach-tomato-salsa

    Don’t beat yourself up too much, new week, new start!
    Alison@Mama Wants This recently posted..Writer’s Workshop: Dear Obsession – No, Not Mine

  • Morgan

    This baked ziti recipe is super easy and it makes a lot. I’m normally not a huge fan of left overs but this stuff is even better the day after. And the only thing you’re really spending money on are the cheeses (trust me, it’s worth it to have some good cheese.)

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/scuderi-kids-fast-fake-baked-ziti-recipe/index.html

    Enjoy! :)

  • not bad! I’m actually more surprised that you can get in and out of a restaurant for under $20. If I’m at a restaurant, I’m blowing over $80, goddamn it. Because I’m not doing the dishes, and I don’t even have to get up to get more food.

    one of my favorite quick dishes is to fry ground pork in one pan, season it with paprika, salt/pepper, tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce (tastes better than it sounds) and then mix in some kind of pasta. takes about 12 minutes to make and is excellent.
    Bill recently posted..Family Member Management

    • Amanda

      Oh I’m a cheap ass when I eat out. I’m all about getting the cheapest thing and a water. My husband isn’t quite so “frugal”. Love this meal idea…THANK YOU!

  • Crockpot BBQ chicken. I know some people don’t like using slow cookers in the summer. But it’s easy and good and works well with frozen chicken. Then you can eat it straight up or make sandwiches or even put some on a tortilla with cheese and make a quesadilla. You can eat this stuff for days (in different ways) if you make enough. http://makingstuffisfun.blogspot.com/2010/04/eazy-peazy-bbq-chicken.html
    JM recently posted..Making Stuff is Hard-The Pizza Stone

  • Oh man, we are SO BAD about eating out all the time too. It starts out as a little “happy hour” but then we decide we should just go ahead and get dinner so we don’t have to do it at home. Which amounts to a LOT of money spent over the month. I have an entertainment book… i need to look through it more thoroughly. Thanks for reminding me!

    • Amanda

      I’m serious when I say that the entertainment book has probably saved us $100 a year every time we buy it. I mean, Kelsey golfs and uses one golf coupon for $25 off…that’s a quarter of the way there!

  • Hey, you did better than we did. I totally understand what you’re going through – we keep telling ourselves that we’re going to “be better”, but it always ends up going wrong. Cue sad trombone. PS I’m using that all that time on my blog and in real life from now on.

    I am going to have to think on the recipes. I’m a big fan of buying various sauces and mixing them with chicken – for instance, Philly cooking cream, pesto, enchilada sauce , etc – and serving over pasta or rice or in tortillas. As for beef, do you have a crock pot? The possibilities are endless.
    Mrs. Jen B recently posted..My Best Frenemy

    • Amanda

      Sad trombone is my go-to sound. I even downloaded an app for my phone that plays sad trombone…I have it on my work computer for things that go wrong…I mean you can’t lose when you have sad trombone in your life.

      I also love meat + sauce + noodles/rice but my hubby is really picky. He likes country food and that’s hard for me to fix and to eat every night. I like the crock pot idea though. Easy and filling and enough for lunches.

  • My biggest suggestion would be to make a meal plan based on what is currently in your pantry. By writing down 5 (or less, or more) meals that you can make with things you have on hand, there won’t be that “what are we going to have for dinner tonight?” question every time you go to cook. We make a list of what we want to eat for the week and grocery shop based on that. It works really well for us and I never face that horrible question because I know I have 6ish meals to choose from! Good luck – I still have faith that you guys can do it!
    Rachel Gray recently posted..A Day in the Life

    • Amanda

      That’s a great plan! See, with us we’re like, “what sounds good?” “I don’t know, what do you think sounds good?” and then we go out. So if we had options, we could totally choose from the list. Nice!

  • Andrea
    Twitter:

    Quick recipe that we love:
    Enchiladas (Bird or Cow, I’ll explain)that I got from a cream chease container and doctored…
    Philly Cooking Cream-Santa Fe blend
    Shredded Cheddar
    Tortillas
    Meat-whatever you want. I’ve used lean ground beef, shredded chicken breast, and yes, even ground turkey.
    Onion

    Dice the onion and cook it with the meat in a large skillet.
    Drain.
    Mix in a large bowl with half of the cooking cream. Spoon onto tortillas and roll. Place seam-down in a shallow baking dish and spoon remaining cooking cream on top (not enough to cover, but it will melt) and sprinkle with the shredded cheddar. Bake at 350 until cheese on top is melted.

    I doctored it by adding spanish rice to the mix before rolling the tortilla.

    I also made it healthier with low-fat cheese, ground turkey, and whole grain carb-control tortillas.

    Paired with a small side dish, this fills up my fam and we even have leftovers for lunch the next day that taste as good as they did the night we cooked them. And did I mention that it takes about 15 minutes to prepare and maybe 10-15 minutes to bake, which I usually send doing something else. Easy-peasy, Sista!
    Andrea recently posted..Things They Should Tell You Before You Breed: The Perpetual Picker-Upper

    • Amanda

      YUM. I’ve been craving Mexican lately and that sounds so good. I tried the Philly cooking cream and it was really good — but we had the Italian blend, haven’t tried Santa Fe….love it.

  • I’m terrible at cooking, especially in the summer because it’s so hot. But try a taco salad. Lettuce, black beans, hamburger, chips, salsa, avocado, and tomatoes.
    Jessica recently posted..VlogTalk Prompts

    • Amanda

      Ohh, good call. We have a big container of taco seasoning, that would be perfect! And it’s one of those foods I crave and want to get out.

  • Really easy chicken: Chicken breasts (make sure they are thin enough to pan fry), a lemon and some Italian seasoning, salt & pepper. Squeeze lemon onto chicken on one side. Add to pan and while that side is cooking, squeeze lemon the side that is up, sprinkle with seasoning. Flip and season other side. Done. Very flavorful.
    Rach (DonutsMama) recently posted..So How’d You Meet? Me & Him

  • Sis
    Twitter:

    I’m playing along with you. I haven’t been out to eat since Sunday…I mean, that is ALL WEEK. I’m sure that will all change next week when I’m stuck at work until 7 every night.

    So what are your rules when it comes to your birthday and also if Mom and Dad visit? ;-)
    Sis recently posted..WDW (Nearly Wordless) Wednesday, Part 2

    • Amanda

      Uh, when Mom and Dad visit the challenge goes on haitus for a week and will continue in August ;) Good for you!! I’m glad you are playing along!!

  • Good start on your challenge! It is like dieting….being conscious of what you’re doing is a big help. I love to eat out too. I need to get rid of the food in my freezer and cupboards too!

    Pork roast or beef roast in a crock pot all day…then shred and add BBQ sauce for sammys!

    I just found this one for chicken – 3 ingredients! and looks yummy!
    http://allrecipes.com/recipe/mustard-chicken/detail.aspx

    I’m also loving the new cooking cream cream cheese, esp. the garlic flavor! I cook up orzo pasta, then steam up some chopped frozen asparagus and sliced zucchini, saute some mushrooms. When orzo is done, add cooked veggies, some halved cherry tomatoes, some cubed fresh mozzarella and a tablespoon or two of the garlic cooking cream. It makes a great sauce! You can use whatever veggies you like, but that was what I used. All the veggies keep me from eating too much pasta too ;)

    And of course, up here in Minnysoda, we love tater tot casserole!
    1 lb. ground beef browned, 1 package mixed veggies, 1 can cream of mushroom (or celery or chicken) soup. Mix together, spread out in a 9×13 pan, and top with tater tots! Bake at 425-450 until hot and bubbly and tots are browned and crispy!

    I steam the veggies in the bag first, so then it cooks quicker. Mine usually takes around 40-45 minutes, depending on how many tots I have on top ;) (hint: usually a LOT :)

    You could even top the tots with cheese toward the end if you wanted ;) I also line my pan with foil and spray it with Pam, then clean-up is a breeze!

    Sorry for the book ;)

  • Considering it was not only a holiday weekend but a STAYCATION, I’d say you did fabulously well.

    For real.

    Not letting you off the hook (because what kind of supportive friend would I be if I said GIVE UP) but you are kicking arse so far.

    I have faith in you.

    Fresh starts and three more weeks of good choices.

    I feel it.

    No more sad trombones ;-)
    julie gardner recently posted..Today call me obsessed.

  • http://allrecipes.com/recipe/classic-fajitas/detail.aspx

    Seriously, these are awesome AND easy! Good luck with the rest of the month, you’re still doing better than me! :)
    Lisa recently posted..Ten on Tuesday: The holiday edition!

  • My family has been participating in this challenge and we are on day 19 with NO eating out at all. We did go get ice cream once, but that’s it. I almost caved a few times but my husband has been good at making me stick with this.

    I make sure we have bread, cheese, etc on hand for quick sandwhiches when I don’t want to cook. We have used a up a lot of food from the pantry and freezer and I actually find we waste a lot less food.
    Laura recently posted..Project 365: Week One

  • I think you did pretty good. Better than I would have. We are the worst about eating out.
    I’m planning on posting some good recipes next week. I have an awesome one for lasagna stuffed peppers.
    Angie@MamaInsomnia recently posted..The Name Game

  • KLZ
    Twitter:

    We have NO PLANS this weekend. Which is when things get dicey for us.
    KLZ recently posted..Pure Joy

  • I insist you hit http://www.supercook.com

    You type in what you have and VIOLA! Oodles of recipes. Delightful!

    Also? I love those Entertainment Books! We get them every year and they always pay for themselves in 2 dinners.
    StephanieinSuburbia recently posted..Here in My Car, I’m Safest of All?

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