Veggie Quesadillas From Leftovers

A half package of tortillas has been languishing in the cupboard for a while. One of these days I’m going to learn how to make my own so that I don’t have to buy a giant package for one person. Meanwhile, I needed to do something with the leftovers.

It just so happens that I had an abundance of veggies and some vegan cheese waiting to be tried so it was veggie quesadillas for lunch! Actually, for a couple of meals because they were excellent and I had the supplies.

I just sautéed small amounts of veggies that I already had – onion, green pepper, mushrooms, squash and broccoli in one pan.

In another nonstick pan, I put down a tortilla, added the vegan cheese, and tossed in the veggies. Then I added the top tortilla and let it all warm up and brown on both sides.

Served with some lettuce, black olives, black beans, and barbecue sauce for dipping (you read the right- bbq sauce) and it was a delicious meal.

All ingredients were things I already had that would’ve been wasted and it came together in mere minutes. The green pepper had actually seen better days and was teetering on the edge of becoming compost so I was glad to give it purpose!

What’s your go-to meal for using up leftover veggies? I do a lot of stir fries and often sautée veggies to put on top of a baked potato. When I still ate eggs, omelettes were a wonderful way to use odds and ends.

Comment and share your ideas!

Not Buying Whatever They’re Selling

Twelve days into my No Spend Challenge and it feels like everywhere I look someone is trying to sell me something.

Advertising is designed to make us feel insecure, to make us feel like what we have isn’t good enough. You’ll look better in these jeans. You’ll be happier if you drink this beverage. You’ll be wealthier if you invest with us. Your house will be prettier if you buy hundreds of dollars of crap at our store. Better yet, buy a whole new house and fill the entire thing with the widgets we sell!

Even the otherwise inspiring podcasters I enjoy are trying to sell their books and consultations.

Satisfaction is a threat to sales people everywhere.

I’ve all but stopped reading women’s magazines, hardly ever catch a tv commercial, am actively unsubscribing from marketing emails, and blissfully scroll past all the targeted ads meant to sell me what I don’t need.

The world claims that my most important value is as a consumer but I’m choosing to go a different route.

This annual No Spend Challenge is a meaningful reminder that my life is good already. I have a nice home, plenty of healthy food to eat and tons of ways to entertain myself that don’t include shopping or buying things.

And by saving my money now, I’ll have funds for adventures this summer! That is worth way more to me than anything the world is selling right now!

No Spend January Is Here!

January is a No Spend Month for me. It’s a fun little game I’ve played for the last few years where I pay for what is needed but there’s no frivolous spending (unless pre-planned), no impulse buying and no shopping for entertainment. Goodbye, antique malls!

So bills are paid and groceries are purchased but I work on using some things from the freezer and pantry. Yesterday, I stopped at the store for about $10 worth of produce needed to create meals for the week using things I already have. If I stop for gas, my reusable water bottle had better be full because I’m not running inside for a drink. Not even for just a dollar.

There’s a gift to buy this month and a planned dinner and movie with a friend that was postponed from the holidays. That’s all the extracurricular spending that should happen.

This month, I will spend a lot of time at home, using what I own, looking for creative ways to entertain myself for free and simply appreciating the life that I have built and all that I already have. The Depression era mantra “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” comes to mind.

After all the excess and gluttony of the holidays, a spending fast is a welcome relief to the bank account but it’s also a welcome break from commercialism.

We spend a lot of time making money to survive and on spending money on stuff to fill our homes but we don’t always go home and just enjoy the life we have.

It’s is an exercise in gratitude as much as anything else.

I wrote a Winter Survival Guide last fall and it’s here in January that these techniques are truly put to work.

Here’s what’s happening in my world right now:

Books are a priority this year and I’m finding that the more I read, the more I want to read. The problem is that there’s a new one that I’m dying to tear into. I usually have three or four going at once but want to focus on one at a time this year. It can be next.

Cooking is more fun. I always enjoy playing in the kitchen but winter is a great time to experiment with new recipes. This year is especially fun as I’m looking for plant based recipes for my new lifestyle. This week I made a potato corn chowder that was divine and the lunch leftovers were a welcome treat! I also made a pumpkin cookie that was disgusting but we’ll just call that an experiment gone awry and move on.

Organization and purging are another priority. I have a list of areas to hit – from the pantry to the sock drawer to the nightstand and all points in between. It’s shocking how much stuff accumulates over time even when you try to be tidy. The goal is to do one thing from the list every day. The purging extends into intangible areas too. One evening was spent purging emails while watching the Closer on TV. Brenda Lee Johnson caught the bad guys and I unsubscribed and deleted thousands of old marketing emails. The above picture represents a new set of Christmas dishes that need to be put away after some rearranging in the china cabinet.

Movie time! I can’t go to the movies but that doesn’t matter because there’s a stack of movies waiting for my viewing pleasure. One day I’ll make some homemade potato chips and hit the couch for a little movie marathon.

Self care is a priority. Outdoor activity is less common because it’s dark at quitting time but I am trying to prioritize some kind of exercise every day. Rest is also important. My philosophy for most of the year is that you can sleep when you’re dead. During winter, these cold, dark nights call for a warm blanket and an earlier bedtime.

Being happy with the Now is a common theme and resisting the urge to adventure plan involves daily internal negotiations. It’s much harder than it should be. However, the theme of this stage of the year is being satisfied with the abundance of everyday life. Adventure planning can wait a bit. I have started a list of day trip ideas based on suggestions from friends but that’s more about being forgetful than about planning. Being present in this moment rather than dream of the next adventure is a real challenge.

For me, a No Spend Month is an opportunity to get myself together for another year, to set new goals and intentions, to stop buying stuff I don’t need, to nourish my mind and body, and to practice gratitude for what I have.

It gets easier every year and, this will sound sound nuts, but I’ve been looking forward to January for weeks.

Want to do your own no spend challenge? You can set your own rules and make it what you want it to be! You might be surprised at how much money and time you save!

Seven Ways To Eat Healthy On the Cheap (Advice From A Frugal Adventurer)

Think you can’t afford to eat healthy? Think again.

Healthy eating is no more expensive than the average American diet of fast and processed food if you are willing to cook, plan and adapt your menu to what’s readily available. Since going vegan, I have cut out most processed foods and actually spend less on groceries despite the assumptions of many that it is more costly.

This is important to me because money saved on the simple and mundane throughout the year helps to fund my adventures!

Here are a few tips for getting started!

  1. Eat in Season – Eating in season is one of the most delicious ways you’ll ever save money. That’s because in season food is plentiful, cheap and delicious. For example, blueberries are as tasty as candy during their summer peak season. Zucchini is incredibly cheap and is great in stir fry, fritters and even in chocolate chip zucchini bread. Winter oranges are delicious, portable snacks for just a few cents per serving!
  2. Focus on Frozen – The frozen food section is your friend. I never buy the cook-in-the- bag stuff because it’s more expensive and unnecessary if you want to use just small amounts at a time. There are certain things you will always find in my freezer including assorted fruit for breakfast smoothies and frozen pineapple which is as good as ice cream! Then there’s always frozen hashbrowns, broccoli, sweet corn, peas and other vegetables. Look at the labels and seek out the things that have nothing in them except what you want to buy. The ingredients list of frozen hashbrowns should just say potatoes and the corn should just contain corn. If there are sweeteners, preservatives or anything else, leave them in the store. 
  3. Keep your shelves stocked – To accompany #2, there are a few other staples in my kitchen including rice and pasta in the pantry. In the fridge you’ll find marinara, salsa and barbeque sauce next to the mustard and salad dressings. These things keep for a while and are great condiments for all sorts of things.
  4. Use What You Have and Rethink Leftovers- This is easy to do when the pantry is stocked. Also, learn to view leftovers as ingredients rather than something to be tolerated. On Sunday, I used bits and pieces of things to make a delicious lunch. A handful of leftover onions and peppers got sauteed with the end of a bag of frozen hashbrowns to make a base for a bowl. I added some canned black beans, leftover frozen corn, salsa from the fridge and some fresh spinach (that I keep for salads and smoothies) to make a big bowl of spicy goodness. It was delicious and took just a few minutes to throw together. Note that I kept the ingredients separate until making my bowl. Now there are containers of leftover beans, corn and the potatoes seasoned with onion and peppers in the fridge waiting for another meal. The potatoes will be repurposed as a side one night and the corn and beans will go into a salad.
  5. Cook – There’s not way around it. If you want to eat healthy, you have to prepare your meals. Prepackaged meals are expensive and not especially good for you given all the  preservatives, artificial colors, sweeteners, etc. they contain. When you prepare your own meals, you take control over the ingredients and can often save money. That little bag of frozen mashed potatoes is $3 but you can buy a big bag of potatoes that will provide for many meals for about the same price. You can buy bags of frozen smoothie mixes that are packed with sugar or you can make your own with almond milk and frozen fruit for less money.
  6. Batch Cook – And if you’re going to cook, you may as well make a little extra or save your leftovers for the freezer. For example, a double batch of homemade pancakes can be made healthfully and inexpensively. Freeze the extras to warm in the microwave as you need them. I love vegetable soup so leftovers get frozen in two serving containers – ready to reheat at a moment’s notice on a cold, winter night.
  7. Cut Down On Expensive Stuff – This should go without saying but it never hurts to point out that there may be expensive items that you can reduce or eliminate. Meat, cheese and packaged snacks are expensive. Snack on seasonal fruits and veggies, use cheese sparingly and embrace meatless meals for a few meals a week.

There are tons of ways you can save money in the kitchen and make eating healthfully affordable. It’s hard and even intimidating to change your habits but you may find that a little planning and simple preparation will save you money. And if you’re not accustomed to cooking you may find that it’s a process you enjoy!

Are you a healthy eater? What do you do to cut expenses? Tell me in the comments!

 

This Is Why I Avoid This Store

A work project caused me to go into Hobby Lobby yesterday. My love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with this place usually keeps me away but I went and now I’m dissatisfied with things here at home.

A burning desire to start changing my home is currently simmering in my mind and soul. It’s funny because I ordinarily think my home is decorated nicely with the mixed bag of things I’ve collected over the years. Now it just seems disjointed and overwhelming. Funny how that happens!

To add insult to injury, I found this image in a magazine last night and now am jonesing for this chair. Doesn’t that leather look yummy?

Actually, I like everything about this room. Who would have thought to use a vintage cooler as an ottoman? Those stacked crates make a nice side table but also double as storage.

Perhaps I’ll move some things around this long weekend and try reinventing some of what I own. It’s a fun way to pass the time!

No Spend Challenge complete

My No Spend Challenge ended Friday. I wouldn’t call the process a complete disaster but it certainly didn’t go as planned.Things were proceeding swimmingly until my fridge died and I lost a lot of food. Going in debt for an appliance, replacing rotten food and eating some lunches out for a few days distracted me from my goals.

It also added to my debt.

But it’s ok. It will be ok. Better luck next time, right? I mean, this was hardly my fault…. the Universe simply decided that it was time to euthanize my appliance.

Anywhooo,  in addition to buying the fridge, I spent about $16 on fast food dollar menu items due to travel and a general unpreparedness to live without most cold food.

I came off the challenge Friday and spent Saturday in Cincinnati with my fella. He had football tickets for his Law School alma mater so we made a day of the trip, visiting a few stores along the way.

The great thing about a No Spend Challenge is that even if I don’t consider the challenge successful I love the after effects of questioning every little purchase and not wanting to part with my money or bring home more unnecessary goods.

On Saturday I purchased a handful of items for about $15 at Half Price Books (I consider books as necessary as food and clothing) and spent another $13 on some clearance items at Meijer. They had cloth napkins bundled in packages of four for $2. They also had a really great Katie Brown glass dome on clearance for $5. I never would pay  the original $20 asking price but it will be great with a winter scene inside for Christmas and a plant for the rest of the year. Some $2 silicone ice cube trays rounded out my purchase.

These were all things that I either need or love and I think $28 for a day out isn’t too expensive.

I unconsciously decided to continue the No Spend Challenge for as long as I can. No money spent today so far and no plans to spend any tomorrow either. I would love to hold on to this momentum for as long as possible.