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Four Sleeps!, <$20, GPLS.

May 23, 2010

In my family, we count down to major events in “sleeps.”

I’m going to Madison, Wisconsin – my HomeSweetHome, on Thursday evening.
If I count today and Thursday as days in a countdown, that is a five day countdown.
If I count today and not Thursday, or Thursday but not today, that is a four day countdown.
If I count neither today, or Thursday – because today is already started and Thursday is THE day, that is a three day countdown.
So many variables in the “X days until!”
So we countdown sleeps. Naps don’t count.  Going to bed does.
Therefore, I have four sleeps until Madison! Beautiful, beautiful, Madison.


A week ago, last Sunday,  I set a goal for myself to spend $20 or less on food in 12 days.  I wanted to try really hard to use the food I had in the kitchen already before I left for my trip.  With four sleeps to go, I’m proud to say I’ve done pretty well.

A few tips for the 12 day pre-vacation challenge:

-Take inventory of what you have in the pantry, fridge and freezer.  I start with the fridge and put a star near everything in the fridge that needs to be used soon, for freshness.  As your inventory grows, group things together that can be used in the same meal. Example: I use different colors for the items on the list of ingredients, matching what could be used together.


-Start a grocery list of things you may need to pick up for your challenge.  Keep your budget in mind. A good trick is to look for similar substitutes in your pantry for things you may need rather than buy the exact ingredient you need for a recipe. Example: instead of buying bread crumbs, use oats or crushed pretzels or crackers.

-Make a liberally flexible meal calendar.  I sometimes have a problem meal planning for a week; If I plan on eating something for dinner on Wednesday, there is a good chance I won’t want to eat that on Wednesday – so instead I made a flexible menu, where I listed 12 breakfasts, 12 lunches, and 12 dinners.  As I eat the food, I cross off the meals from the list. I also keep a list of snacks I have on hand.  Some of the meals are duplicates, based on the serving sizes I will have available. Example:


-To further avoid menu boredom, I take part in what I call the “Grandma Food Principle.”  My Grandmother in Tennessee has this amazing ability to serve the same side dishes for four days in a row, each day having the dish taste differently.  Example: This week – Day 1 Chicken Pasta: seasoned chicken tenders with penne pasta tossed in garlicky butter. Day 2 Chicken Pasta: Serve with artichokes, sundried tomatoes, & peppers. Day 3: serve atop a bowl of baby spinach with an Italian cream dressing.

Once grocery list is made, be prepared to be flexible in the isle.  Example: Broccoli was on my list, but summer squash was on sale; Arnold’s Thins were on the list, but the new bagel thins were on sale – so I made swaps to help my $20 budget.

So far, this is what I’ve spent on food with 4 days to go: $10.17

I’m pretty excited that I’ve been able to do this so far – spending less the past few weeks not only helps me to clean out the fridge, not waste food, and get creative in the kitchen – it also assures a bit more money for my spending in Madison, which I am a big fan of taking place! I foresee a glass of wine and dessert a few times this coming weekend. 😉

meet up2 sign up for the meet up on this Google Doc

I haven’t felt the best the last few days.  Both physically and self-esteem wise.
Thursday morning, I woke up at 5:00 with a headache.  It lasted ALL.DAY.LONG.
Since then, I haven’t felt 100% – nothing serious, but not seriously awesome either.  The last thing I want to do is travel ill, or worse – feel poorly during my trip.  So today I put a new plan into action – this is better than GTL, this is GPLS:

Green Monsters. I have 2 pounds of frozen bananas, blue berries, yogurt, spinach, & almond milk ready to pack in the nutrients at least once a day for the remainder of the week.

Push Ups.  You know Julie’s hosted Push-Up Challenge.  I’ll let you in on a little secret.  I’ can count the number of times I’ve done push-ups since the challenge started on one hand. ahem.  Nothing makes me feel more beautiful than partaking in activities that make me feel strong.

Light Jogging. The last time I ran was one week ago, today.  I had 12 miles on the training plan for this past week – oops. I’ve been riding my awesome bicycle a lot more [to and from work every day, plus two 8-10 mile rides for fun], and I’m really liking the change in cardio.  The next four days, I plan on putting in two light training jogs, and two bike rides. I have some running sweat sessions scheduled for Madison, plus a race on Monday morning, as well.

Sleep. I will not forsake the rest my body needs for any of the following: gchat. Google-reader. paper crafts. Criminal Minds marathons. celebrity gossip. brick breaker. Texts From Last Night. re-watching they Grey’s finale for the third time. cleaning my apartment like it’s my job. HIMYM on DVD. The West Wing on DVD. OTH on DVD. ANYTHING on DVD.

If GTL = this:



Then GPLS is sure to = this:


source: confidence, happiness, & feeling myself.
8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2010 7:33 am

    You are going to have SO MUCH FUN!! 🙂 Now, please come to Pittsburgh and teach my how to budget. My grocery bill would make you barf.

    Oh, and did you know I’ve been replying to your email for 48 hours? It’s going to be EONS long.

  2. May 24, 2010 8:00 am

    Awesome budgeting tips. I am horrible with the food budget. I mean horrible. This month, we spent $600 on groceries for just the two of us and I was happy. I’ve been reading a lot of budget blogs and see families of four eating locally and organically for less than that. I need mass help in this department.

  3. May 24, 2010 11:26 am

    First, let me say I CAN”T WAIT TO SEE YOU!!!

    Second, that is some impressive budgeting. I think I should take inventory of my food stock before the next time I go grocery shopping. I always end up buying things we already have about 3 already (need any ketchup?).

    Finally, I like your comments about things you will not take away from sleeping. I hope that works out for you 🙂

  4. May 24, 2010 11:39 am

    That’s how I learned to budget and pepare meals. I may serve the same thing for 2 days but serve it in a different way with added ingredients. It really does work.

  5. May 25, 2010 2:01 pm

    Have fun at your Wisconsin blogger meetup! I should pre-plan & head up there for the next one. Or I can just patiently wait for the HLS!

  6. May 25, 2010 3:09 pm

    I need to learn how to budget and plan when it comes to food, so thanks for giving me something to think about! Also, did “sleeps” come from that song in a Muppet Christmas Carol? Because if it did, I might drive up there and sleeps at the foot of your bed.

  7. May 25, 2010 9:36 pm

    I’m going to Nashville on Thursday and I’ve been counting sleeps too!

    I need to do more meal planning out like that. Maybe next week 🙂

    I hope you have a fabulous trip!!!

  8. May 27, 2010 6:03 pm

    I can’t even read this post without laughing.
    I think I just spent $20 in the past 5 minutes without even thinking.

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