Thursday, April 26, 2012

30 Day Overview: Pantry Budget, Prep Time, and Cleaning Woes

Every single day has been documented.  

For a woman who absolutely abhors the idea of planning and formal "structure"/routine to her days, that is quite an accomplishment!!

If youve been following along, you'll know exactly what it is we love about this eating strategy:
  • The recipes are delicious
  • The method behind the food selections is easy to remember
  • The difference in our energy levels is beyond remarkable
  • It clearly worked for us!  (After 30 days:: I'm down 15 pounds and TheFiance is down 21 lbs)
What we didn't love about the last 30 days:
  • Cost of foods
  • Prep time
  • Increase in Kitchen and Dish cleaning
In order to keep this post from being a novel, you can find all of the positives broken down amongst the array of our last 30 day posts. They are all pretty self explanatory and though I mentioned the fact that the 5 piece puzzle strategy of the book is easy to remember; the actually implementing of it isn't as quick and easy.  It will still take me time to study the book further and remember which foods fall under what categories (though this could just be a personal thing as I have always lacked in paying attention to things longer than 2 seconds)... 

 I will state that regardless of the negatives (which I'll explain in a moment) I am willing to bet there is something for everyone to takeaway from this book.  Whether its just good recipes, learning the 5 piece puzzle strategy, or learning what your body needs to stay at its utmost best, I would definitely recommend giving it a glance over at least.  If you happen to see it in the book store, and you're looking to make a healthier transition, why not at least give it a once over?    Whether you're vegetarian, vegan or a die hard meat eater this book has a lot of awesome information.     

Not much to my surprise, I am still a little overwhelmed by it myself.  Even after 30 days.   When people talk about a lifestyle change, thats not something thats going to take a few weeks and suddenly become routine. (Certainly not for someone like me whos battled obesity since childhood anyway) 

It's a haul... an immense overhaul of mind body and soul.   Lucky thing is with the healthier eating, your body automatically starts feeling better and it really seems to overflow into other aspects of your life.   Mainly in your attitude and in the pride you take on for doing your body well. 

That said, I will get into the "negatives" of  our 30 day experience.   

:::Cost of Foods:::
As hopeful as I was that I was going to be able to save every receipt this month to show just how much our expenses added up to, it simply wasn't possible after the Five Day Fast Forward.  To see the breakdown costs of the inital five days, click on this post here.  

Including that initial $100 week, and after reviewing the bank statement, the total comes close to $600 for our 30 days of meals.   Considering it was 8 meals a day (4 for him and 4 for me) our meals count should have been 240 total meals....  the basic math of it all brings each meal to cost about $2.50.

Looking at it in those terms sure doesn't seem like much at all, does it?   Of course when we are used to spending half of that on monthly groceries prior to this experiment, its a real punch in the gut.   After a little research on how much the average bill is for a household of 2 I'm quite shocked to see that a lot of people spend between 400-600 a month.  Am I crazy for finding this mindblowing?  Yikes....  

Sadly, this isn't a feasible budget for TheFiance and I to continue on.  A good chunk of my tax return went into this project and though I would do it again in a heartbeat, we are going to be scaling back from here on out.    Don't let the total amount frighten you off from trying this plan out though.  TheFiance and I went all out and picked up a huge variety of spices, nuts, vegetables, grains, nut butters and cheeses in order to follow this book as best we could.   It was what we wanted and chose to do.   In all reality we could have gotten started buying one or two bulk grains, stocking up on bulk chicken breasts, tuna, and turkey and keeping the rest of our choices limited for the sake of the budget... in fact this is more than likely what we will be doing from here on out to taper down the bills again.   

If you're at all curious as to our variety of foods the quick breakdown of our month is as follows:
  • 17 different fresh fruits kept in rotation
  • 4 dried fruit varieties
  • 10 new spices
  • 9 types of nuts
  • 3 nut butters
  • 8 varieties of cheese
  • 8 different whole grains
and lets not forget the vegetables...  so many friggin vegetables.   Ask me if I would do this all over again and I wouldn't hesitate to tell you I would.  As much as the money could be used for other things currently in our needs, we made the choice to prioritize our health in hopes this experience would teach us the basic building blocks that I, personally, seemed to have lacked all my life.  

I regret nothing.......

... except maybe buying the kumquats.  (sorry kumquats)  

::Prep Time::
 Prep time... o-m-g, where do I begin on this subject?  This was a biggie here.  Aside from sacrificing money for this project, I wish there was a way to tell you these meals were all quick fixes.  In an ideal world thats what we all want to hear, right?

Sadly for many of the recipes this isn't always the case.  Although many of the cold salads can be thrown together in mere minutes -- there is still the rinsing and cutting of the vegetables, the measuring of the ingredients, and this all in turn also affects clean up time.   I will say if you are a person that is always out and about picking up lunches from restaurants this may not be an issue for you if youre able to hit a salad bar and create your own meal using the 5 piece puzzle method.  

For those of us who prefer to brown bag it from home, there will be prep work necessary.  It helps to have precooked chicken/turkey/salmon/rice/quinoa/etc/etc/etc ready to just go when you need it and that of course entails more prep work usually at the start of your week.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg my friends.  If you don't want to be completely overwhelmed by this change, it is highly recommendable that you take some time out to pre-plan your meals at least a week ahead of time. TheFiance and I made a weekly food chart, and though it took us a full weekend to get all the recipes on index cards and create our board, it is so well worth it and saved us a LOT of time and frustration in the long run.

Spare me your stories of not having the patience to do this kind of thing because you are talking to the Queen of Impatience and Disarray.   As much as I detest pre-planning things in all their little details, we more than likely would NOT have done so well on this plan without it.   Once the chart was made, it took us about 10 minutes to pick and choose which meals we would have for which day, another 10 to write down our grocery list and off we went every weekend to stock up.

In having such a variety of items I may have screwed us over in this aspect.  If we would have stuck to a week of meals incorporating mainly just chicken, it would have been a lot easier to have all the chicken cooked and ready to go for the full week.  Or one type of grain ... but because we randomly selected our meals the first two weeks of the core plan, we sometimes had 4 different grains to cook each week.   Generally speaking I cooked those the night before we needed them.   As of next week we will work around what is presently still in our pantry to keep our new costs down.

I'm still learning about how to cut corners with this type of meal planning.  As the blog continues I do encourage anyone with helpful hints to suggest them in the comment form below, and I will of course blog about any tips I may find along the way that I find helpful!

:::The Cleaning:::
As mentioned above, all the prep work does involve major clean up sometimes. With four servings of vegetables a day and two servings of fruits you know you're going to be pulling out that cutting board every single day.   For me personaly, taking photos of these dishes actually had me washing more dishes than the average person.  That of course is my own fault .. in the name of vanity and taking semi decent photos ;0)

Considering the tiny size of our kitchen, TheFiance and I still managed to work together on the majority of the meals.  If the meal didn't involve very much in terms of prep -- one of us would normally be washing dishes while the other prepared the meal.   We work pretty damn well together.

I will have to do a kitchen photo tour to show you just how small we are talking here.   In one way its good that its so small because it means we have to constantly keep it all clean to clear up the space we need.. but on the other it still means we're constantly cleaning up.  I'm pretty sure more counter space would only lead to a bigger mess so I won't complain too much more on this aspect.

All in all, I currently feel like food has taken over my life.  The prep of it, the purchasing of it, the consuming of it, the aftermath cleaning....  it's definitely a huge change.   Going from looking to avoid food in order to lose weight to suddenly having it take over is such an ironic change.   Still, its a little overwhelming for a newbie like me but I'm embracing it because my body is quite frankly loving it.    In time I am hoping I will be able to apply this food strategy like second nature but until then I have no choice but to take my time and accept this is what I want to do.   And count my blessings that I have a man that is willing to do this as well.  What started out as moral support has turned into something hes grown quite fond of.

I couldnt possibly have covered everything I originally wanted to in this already oh so long post but if I missed anything specifically that anyone may have had questions on I'm all ears. There are e a few topics I have in plans to cover such as Juliets question on not having leftovers and or food go bad....   and of course the questions I'd like to ask TheFiance for more on his point of view.  

The weekend is right around the corner.....  it can't come soon enough :0)