$4 a Day January Challenge -- Week 3

This post is waaaay late.  I'm sorry!  Life has gotten super busy in the last couple days and I just haven't had a chance to get this done.  I all had to work and stuff.  Lame.

Anyhow, this is the break down for the third week:

Last week, the cats took up more than a third of my available money!  And, I had a little less to work with since I went over budget last week.  So, here is what I got for $26.85:

See that bag of salad?  I got that for 26 cents!  And see that box of angel hair pasta?  I got that for free.  I was on a roll!!!

Here's what I ate this week:

Breakfasts were mostly oatmeal and coffee, but there was a little bit of this too:

Can you guess what lunches were????  This, of course:

I also had some of some leftovers:

Biscuits and gravy with scrambled eggs. 

And, one day I had: 
Ramen Noodles!  Please, nobody lecture me on how unhealthy Ramen Noodles are.  I'm aware.  But, they're delicious.  And I only eat them sometimes.  Plus, I added strawberries to the meal to make it healthy.  So, there!

Dinners last week were mostly about the leftovers.  I had a little bit of a lot of things that needed to be eaten before they went bad.  So, I had: 

Leftover waffles with scrambled eggs.  (Please ignore the Christmas glass in the background.  I really need to busy some new drinking glasses.) 

Quesadilla with my Cilantro Lime Rice

I also made: 

Spaghetti with homemade garlic cheese bread and salad.

I was able to make this Cinnamon Roll Cake with stuff I had in the cabinets, so the leftovers were heated up for breakfast and snacks a time or two.

I've only got a little over a week left of my $4 challenge and it's looking like I might actually make it.  I must say, so far, this has been a lot easier than I expected.  Here's to hoping the month finishes out on that note!

Cinnamon Roll Cake


I had another Christmas gathering this past week.  Yes, I realize we are well into January.  And, yes, I did say a Christmas gathering.  What can I say?  I'm a lucky lady with lots of people to share holidays with. . . which can result in awkwardly timed holiday celebrations.  

Anyhoo, I was in charge of bringing a dessert.  But, I was in the middle of my $4 a Day Challenge, so my options were limited.  I headed over to my Pinterest account and browsed through my Recipe Board for a recipe that I had the ingredients for in my cabinets.  This was the winner. 

I followed the recipe exactly and it came out fabulously!  There were some leftovers from the party, so I heated those up for breakfast once or twice.  Why?  Why not?  

Cake for breakfast?  Yes, please.  

And, it really did taste just like a cinnamon roll, so it was practically breakfast anyway. 

Source:  Chef in Training

Here's what you need for the cake:
3 cups Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Sugar
4 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 cups Milk
2 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 cup Butter, melted

Here's what you need for the cake topping:
1 cup Butter, softened
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Flour
1 tbsp Cinnamon

Here's what you do to make the cake:
1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with nonstick spray.  Set aside. 

2.  Mix together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, milk, eggs and vanilla. 

3.  Slowly stir in the melted butter. 

4.  Pour into the baking dish.  

5.  Set aside. 

6.  Mix together the softened butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon for the topping.  Mix until well combined and creamy.

7.  Drop evenly over the cake batter in the pan by tablespoonfuls.  

8.  Use a knife to swirl the cinnamon topping into the cake batter. 

9.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

10.  While the cake is baking make the glaze as directed below. 

11.  After removing the cake from the oven, let it cool slightly.  Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake. 

Here's what you need for the glaze:
2 cups Powdered Sugar
5 tbsp Milk

1 tsp Vanilla

Here's what you do to make the glaze:
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a whisk. 

Although this taste great cold, I preferred it served warm. 



$4 a Day January Challenge -- Week 2

This week I went waaaaay over my $4 per day limit.  I spent $42.23.  I had to buy mascara and eyeliner, which totally threw me over the edge.  Seriously, Cover Girl must think their stuff is like gold in a little teeeeeny tiny tube.  Cause that's how they're charging for it.  Anyway, here's what I got for $42.23:

I also had to buy a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs later in the week, which aren't pictured here.  

Here's some of the things I ate:

For breakfast, I had mostly oatmeal.  And coffee.  Lots of coffee.  But, I had some bananas that were starting to brown towards the end of the week, so I made Banana Bread Muffins.  I only baked four of the muffins and divided the rest of the batter into two containers, which I froze, so I could make more muffins later. 

Lunches were:
Yes, again.  I love my salads!

A fried egg sandwich with an orange. 

For dinners I had:
 I made biscuits and gravy and scrambled eggs for breakfast on Sunday and had enough left overs to have it for dinner a few nights last week. 

I also made cheese and veggie quesadillas and more of my Cilantro Lime Rice.  Nom!

For snacks I had fresh fruit and whatever junk food and candy I could find stashed at home and at work. :-)  

Although I went over my budget a lot this week, I had a lot of money left over from last week.  And, since my actual budget is $4 and some change each day, I'm only about $4.50 over my budget for the entire month so far.  So, I'll have to make that up in the coming weeks.  But, I had a lot of food left over this week that I didn't even cook, so that will totally be doable. 


$4 a Day January Challenge -- Week 1

The first week of my challenge turned out to be much easier than I had anticipated.  I carefully went through all of the grocery ads and my coupons and devised a menu.  I wrote down exactly what I would need from each store and the advertised price.  I ended up finding that I could often get the advertised goods for a lower cost at other stores if comparison shopped.  I spent $19.94 and got this: 

I did have some leftovers in the fridge that I ate, which helped.  

I still had over $9.00 left over.  And, at the end of the week, I had leftover food!   Wahhooo!

Here's a sample of what I ate for less than $20.00:

For breakfast I had yogurt and oatmeal.  Plus, we had some donuts and pastries at work that I took advantage of.  And coffee, of course. 

Almost every day at work I have a salad for lunch.  When I was planning my menu, I made sure to include everything that I would normally buy for my salads.  I also had some leftover homemade mac n cheese.

For dinners, I made burrito bowls using my cilantro lime rice.  I had soft tacos with cilantro lime rice as a side.  I had an egg and cheese omelet with peanut butter toast.  And, my man friend (I got in trouble for calling him a boy in a previous post) made me his delicious spicy chicken alfredo casserole, which I always LOVE.

For snacks I had fresh fruit and some random junk food and candy I have stashed at home and at work.

This week I got by kind of easy because I only needed to buy food, not supplies, but next week I know I'll need some supplies, which might be kind of challenging.  At least I have an extra $9.00 to apply to those things . . . 

Cilantro Lime Rice


(Please excuse the terrible photo.  Apparently I was so excited to eat
my cilantro lime rice that I didn't have time to take a decent pic.)

If you like Chipotle's rice, you're gonna LOVE this stuff.  It's one million times better than Chipotle's rice.  Trust me.  It's like the crack of rice. 

Apparently, it's a copycat recipe for rice served at a restaurant called Cafe Rio.  I've never been there.  But, if they serve stuff like this, eating there is going on my bucket list.  I got the recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything

I use it as a side dish for Mexican meals.  I also use it to make burrito bowls, Chipotle style.  It's simple to make and uses relatively few ingredients. 

Slightly adapted from:  The Girl Who Ate Everything

Here's what you need:
2 Tb. Butter 
1 ¼ White Rice
Juice of 2 Limes 
2 ¼ cups Chicken Broth
2 Tb. chopped fresh Cilantro
¾ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Cumin 

Here's what you do:
1.  In a sauce pan, melt the butter with the rice. 

2.  Add the juice of the limes, chicken broth, cilantro, salt, and cumin. 

3.  Bring to a boil. 

4.  Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes. 



Happy New Year! And My January Money Challenge!

Happy New Year to everybody!  I hope you had a great NYE and are fully recovered now.  Towards the end of 2011 I decided to review my finances for the year to get a grasp on where my money had gone and such.  Turns out I should pretty much just sign my paychecks right on over to Wal-Mart.  I spend an ungodly amount of money at that store.  Especially since I'm shopping for just myself and 2 cats.  Wal-Mat is basically where I buy everything.  Like food, supplies, cat food, cat supplies.  But mostly, I just buy a lot of food.  

So, I decided to challenge myself.  In the month of January I'm going to try to limit my food/supply spending to what I would have spent in 1 week last year.  That's a little over $4 per day.  So, I must buy all my food and supplies plus the cats' food and supplies for about $28 per week.  And, of course, I'll be sharing it all with you guys on here.  Lucky for y'all, I've got some of my "normal" posts saved up, so I'll be posting my regular recipe posts as well. 

To make this work, I'm gonna have to do some homework.  I've got a menu planned for this week and I went through the grocery ads.  I have a very strict shopping list that tells me what to buy from each store and how much to spend on it.  My only saving grace is that I will allow myself to use the perishable food I already have on hand, along with staples that people would otherwise have on hand (peanut butter, butter, spices, etc).  And, if things get really tough, I'll bust into the non-perishable food I have in my cupboards. 

So, here goes!  Today I spent $0 on food and supplies. Waaahooo!  Mrs. L-Train fed L-Train and I cheeseburgers and mashed potatoes earlier today.  Then L-Train and I went to the movies and he bought me some popcorn.  With lots of movie-theatre butter, of course (that stuff is like my crack!).  And, I had some celery with peanut butter that I had left over in the fridge. 

So, I have an extra $.66 that I can add to each of the rest of the days this week. . .