Less Than Challenge

Living life with less than…


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Winter Detox Recap

Like many people, I pretty much forget the meaning of “less than” at the holidays.  I overeat, overspend, oversleep…basically overindulge in every possible way.  So I tend to be big on New Year’s resolutions (which might be why I’m back here blogging, so let’s not knock the process entirely).

I know resolutions are typically total cliches – eat better, exercise more, do productive things, etc., etc.  But I love getting motivated by a brand new year.  And I have every intention of 2014 being the best it can be, since I’ll be tying the knot in six short months!!

If that’s not motivation to get in shape now, I don’t know what is.  And this year, I thought I better take it beyond just cutting a few calories and hitting the gym.  I wanted to truly reset my approach to food and start 2014 in a whole new way.

Enter, the HealthyMe Living “Holiday Healing Detox” – a health program that got me to cut grains, dairy, and all things processed from my diet for an entire week.  And that got me to try my first tastes of kale, cauliflower, almond milk, flax seeds, and apple cider vinegar.  (The vinegar was not my fave, but you can’t win them all, right?)

HealthyMe Living Holiday Healing Detox

Image from facebook.com/HealthyMeLiving

If you know me at all, you know that I do NOT eat like this.  I was in shock when I looked at my grocery cart full of produce at the start of the week, thinking there’s no way I will ever eat all of this.  But I did, and for the most part, I really enjoyed it!

More importantly, thanks to the detox experience, I feel totally inspired to live healthier in the year ahead.  I have been voraciously googling recipes for things I used to buy in a box, and I can’t wait to start cooking my own, un-processed versions of my favorite meals.  I feel adventurous and excited about trying new things.  I even ordered a cauliflower “steak” for lunch the other day (which my former self would certainly have scoffed at!).  Suffice it to say, I am proud of myself, and I truly believe this is the start of something more than your typical New Year’s resolution.

If you’ve ever thought about doing a detox (and here I mean a healthy, structured detox – not a crazy starvation diet), I would highly recommend it.  At best, it will change the way you think about yourself and the food you consume; at the very least, it should introduce you to some interesting new recipes.

Have questions about the experience?  Feel free to ask me.  I’m on a detox high and I’m happy to share!


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Summer Salad Ingredients for Less Than $15

I had lunch last week with a couple of co-workers at the new Druthers Brewing Company in Saratoga, and coincidentally every one of us ordered some variation of their spinach salad. Check it out on their lunch menu and I think you’ll see why there was such an attraction.

I absolutely loved mine, and I was inspired to pick up some similar ingredients to make my own variation at home. Now that I’ve revisited the menu, I see there were some things I forgot about, and I also seem to have confused a few items with the Bruegger’s Blue Apple Salad I had last week as well.  Oops.

Strawberry Summer SaladIn any case, I decided on the following salad ingredients and got them all for less than $15:

  • Baby spinach – $2.99
  • Strawberries – $2.99
  • Crumbled goat cheese – $3.00
  • Chopped pecans – $2.49 (much cheaper than candied walnuts)
  • Light champagne vinaigrette – $2.79 (a mix up, but oh well)

Grand Total – $14.26

That gave me enough to make at least 4 or 5 salads, as opposed to spending $8 for one at a restaurant. So in terms of less than living, I call that a win.

Now that I’ve revisited the Druther’s menu, however, I realize that my homemade salad would be more authentic, and probably a lot better, with crispy onions and a white balsamic dressing. Maybe next time I’ll even splurge on the candied walnuts.

So tell me…would you try this salad, or do you have a favorite summer salad recipe of your own? I’m on a salad binge right now, so please share!


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All-American Meal for ALMOST Less Than $5

I was thisclose to getting all the fixings for our Independence Day dinner for less than $5, but our total grocery bill came to $5.02. Still, at a savings of more than 58%, I was pretty darn pleased.

Shoprite Haul 7/4/2013

Granted, this wasn’t the healthiest or most well-balanced meal I’ve ever had, but it sure was tasty and perfect for the Fourth of July. I was only planning on making hot dogs and corn on the cob, but Brendan threw the Doritos in our basket on impulse. And he’s the only one who used mustard, so it’s really his fault that we didn’t achieve a less than $5 dinner. Seeing, however, as I ate the majority of the Doritos and he actually paid for the food, I won’t hold any of this against him.

Anyway…here’s how we did it:
(all deals from Shoprite, good thru today)

  • Fresh yellow corn on the cob: $0.19 each w/ Price Plus card (x3)
  • Oscar Mayer classic wieners: $1.79 w/ Price Plus card (half price)
  • Shoprite brand hot dog rolls: $1.69, reduced to $0.39 after sale plus coupon from 6/30 ad
  • French’s 8 oz. mustard: $1.59, reduced to $0.39 after sale plus coupon from 6/30 ad
  • Cool Ranch Doritos: $1.88 w/ Price Plus card (half price)

TOTAL SPENT = $5.02; TOTAL SAVINGS = $7.07

One little confession: you were supposed to spend $15 or more to redeem the $0.39 coupons (which I completely missed in the fine print) but the very kind cashier at Shoprite overrode the system and let us use them anyway. So extra points for Shoprite in my favorite grocery store rankings this week.

Did you take advantage of any great deals this week? Be sure to share!


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Less Than Dining: Sunday Funday @ Chili’s

I really like going out to eat. I really love going out to eat for less. And today I enjoyed the perfect little “less than” lunch date with my love.

In case you hadn’t heard, Chili’s is giving away 1 million free flatbreads until 7/1/2013. I’m not sure why flatbread is so trendy right now, but I am totally into it.

I am also totally into margaritas, and Chili’s has quite the selection. Plus, they do all day happy hour on Sundays, and margs are buy one, get one free.  There are plenty of food specials too, with about ten different entrees available for $5.49.

Between our free flatbread and all the happy hour specials, we got drinks and enough food to make another meal later this week for only $13.48! Even after tax and tip, we had no trouble spending less than $20.  Pretty sweet, right?

Clink the link and join the Chili’s email club to get your free flatbread coupon.  Then grab a date and make your way to Chili’s next week for a little Sunday funday.

Chili's Million Flatbread Giveaway