I’ve learned a lot about myself during this 4-week challenge. I’ve learned that if I plan my beverage purchases correctly (Coca Cola specifically) I can save a lot of money. I estimate I usually buy 2-3 Cokes a week from CVS. At $2.09 apiece, this averages out to about $20 a month on Coke alone, and that’s not drinking it every day. I’ve also learned that the more the restrict myself the more I want to rebel. Okay, I knew this already, but this definitely reinforced it. If I had tried to just cut out soda the entire month, I would have not lasted the month without buying soda.
This challenge also reinforced that I overeat because I am trying to avoid my feelings. For someone like me, who is highly emotional, this can be a disaster. There were a few occasions where I purchased food specifically to soothe myself. It was not food I needed, and certainly not calories I needed. Watching my budget so carefully really made those purchases stand out.
Onto the food! As I write this I just finished my last portion of Slow Cooker Beef Arepas with Homemade Pico de Gallo and they were SO YUMMY. By the end of the week my arepas became crunchy, which, to be honest, I kind of liked. Usually they’re more like a thick corn tortilla and have some flexibility.
Making Pico de Gallo in a food processor is the easiest thing on the planet. You don’t even need to use super prime ingredients: I used the stems of a bunch of cilantro, some scallion scraps, wrinkly grape tomatoes, fresh jalapeno and some (decent) limes and made a very serviceable pico.
I made this delicious spicy Asian chicken soup with the bones I carved the chicken from last week. There was still enough meat on “them bones” to give the soup plenty of protein, and the soba noodles really “beefed” it up. I had a teensy bit of liquid broth seasoning I’d bought from the local Asian market over the summer, so between that and the homemade chicken stock from the bones it was deeply flavored. The only thing I had to buy was the cilantro!
The Shakshuka came out so good, too.
If I can use pita to shove anything into my face I’m on it. I mean, pita is a pretty perfect food, amirite?
Snacks were homemade Balanced Breaks. I never wound up making the Boston Brown Bread, but I did use the cottage cheese and frozen berries I bought to make a yummy dessert. All I added was some vanilla and sucralose and blended it all in my food processor and it made a delicious ice-cream-like product with TONS of protein (17g). It freezes pretty hard though and I broke the plastic container it was in trying to scoop it out later in the week!
I made it until February 27th without purchasing anything AT ALL from CVS! And even then I spent $3. Not bad.
Onto the money: my final total for this 4-week challenge is $153.13. Still significantly below my usual monthly budget of $230! So I managed to save almost $80 this month despite my extracurricular purchases. If only some of that extra money hadn’t gone to buying beer for strangers because a date decided to buy a round on MY tab. (Long story, but let’s just say there will NOT be a second date. In fact, I’m giving up on dating altogether for the moment, but that’s a tale for another time and place.)
So all in all, despite the emotional eating transgressions, I’m pretty darn happy with myself. I’m even continuing the trend, albeit on a little less strict basis. I’m going to use up the meat in my freezer as best I can before refilling it, unless there is a SUPER good deal, but I’m going to be a little more relaxed when it comes to snacks and restocking my pantry. A little bit of flexibility in the hard edge of budget actually helps me be less rebellious.
How did your own personal challenges go? Let me know in the comments!