I Give Up! Snacking At Work Edition

Giving up is rarely encouraged, but it can be a good thing with an unhealthy or time wasting behavior.  Such was my snacking at work.  So, I decided that I give up!

How Snacking At Work Consumed Me

See what I did with that heading?  It consumed me.  Get it?

All cleverness aside, I looked at a lot of things as I set out for a healthier lifestyle.  When I put together my list of things I needed to change, snacking at work was right at the top.

Snacking got me in two different ways:

  • My drawer.  I had a snack drawer.  I brought things from home to fill it up and usually kept it filled.  I had various crackers, Nutri Grain bars, candy, etc.  It had all sorts of good stuff.
  • Walking around.  I’m a walker.  I love to take little laps around the building throughout the day.  This is generally seen as pretty healthy, but I made it opposite.  If there was a candy dish, guess what I’d do on my walk?  Grab a piece of candy, of course!  It got really bad when I would often grab one for now and one for later.  For the desk drawer, of course!

I realized that my snacking was happening so often that it wasn’t really a snack anymore.  Every day around 2pm or so, I’d have my hand in the drawer and was pulling out something.  This is in addition to whatever candy I wolfed down at various points of the day.  But, when I looked at my habits, I was effectively creating an additional meal. Yes, it was a small meal, but I was counting on that item to get me through the day.  I would no sooner give that up than I would consider skipping lunch.

Something had to change!

Giving Up Cold Turkey

I’ve made a few different changes in trying to be healthy when it comes to my eating habits.  Many of them simply involve cutting back.  For example, the main indulgence my wife and I share is a bowl of ice cream a couple of evenings per week.  I didn’t want to give this up, so I merely started using a smaller bowl.  This way, I still get ice cream and the satisfaction that comes with it, but I put less of it in my body.

Could that work for snacking?

Well, I needed to be honest with myself, and the answer I came up with was a ‘No’.

I know myself.  I know that my snacking habits at work didn’t just start one day.  My candy habits probably started with picking one up here and there.  My 2pm snack started off as a once in a while thing.

I knew that if I tried to cut back, meaning having a snack here and there, I would backslide.  It is inevitable.  It’s just who I am.  I can’t help it.

So I decided that I needed to quit cold turkey.

And’ that is what I’ve done.  So far, this year, I have had nothing to eat outside of my meals while I’m at work.  No candy.  Not a single cracker.  Nothing.

I’ve never gone cold turkey before.  Not so coincidentally, I’ve never made it three months before.

Tips To Give Up Snacking

Here are some things I felt were helpful in my successful journey so far.

  1. Know Yourself.  As I mentioned before, I had to be brutally honest with myself.  I knew that I’m not the type that can be an occasional snacker.
  2. Plan.  I started thinking about my plans for getting rid of snacking at the end of last year.  I actually started preparing myself.  As I had my candy or snacks, I would count down the days I had left to have my 2pm snack.
  3. Visualize.  While I was having my 2pm snack toward the end of the year, I started thinking about 2pm coming and going snack free.  Mental preparation was key.
  4. Cut Temptation.  I had to clean out my snack drawer and make sure it stayed empty.  Since I started planning and visualizing as noted above, I was able to draw down my stockpile.  Coming in clean to the new year was critical.
  5. Accept That It Will Be Hard. While I was able to get rid of my drawer full of snacks, I couldn’t get rid of the candy dishes.  I knew that wouldn’t be easy.  But I had to tell myself to just keep walking.
  6. Know That You Can Make It.  The first few days, when instinct kicked in and I wanted my snack, I actually felt hungry.  While I may have been hungry at times, I think it was also my brain kicking into gear, looking for that quick satisfaction.  I had to chant in my head “It’s OK to be hungry.”  And it was.  I kept chanting this in my head until one day, I didn’t have to any more.
  7. Track progress.  Count down the number of days you’re successful.  If it helps you lose weight, track that too.  Whatever it takes.

Staying Motivated

Right now, I’ve been steadily losing weight.  I’ve lost around 7.5 pounds so far.  I have another 6 or so to go to hit my target weight.  I fear that as I get closer to my target weight, or if I actually hit it, that will drop my motivation.

That will be a new challenge.  I’m not sure exactly yet how I’ll face it.  But, one day at a time, right?

Readers, have you given anything up lately?  How big of a habit did you give up?  How hard was it?  Let me know in the comments below if you have any suggestions or stories to share.  Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Looking For Some Good Lunch Meat Alternatives

I’ve taken 2017 as a time to really focus on improving my health.  I’ve been trying to get in better shape and make some healthier decisions.  I’m 42.  In the past, I would often brush off decisions I knew weren’t healthy by telling myself I could fix them down the road.  Well, after hitting an age that’s roughly half of my expected life exptency, give or take a few years, I realized that road was getting shorter.  One of the things I’ve thought to do is to come up with some lunch meat alternatives.

My Typical Lunch

I’m a brown bagger, which is something I’m proud of.  Keeping my costs down for lunch has always been a big thing for me.  I see people go out to eat every day, but I’m fine to sit at my desk and eat.  This also gives me time to go for a walk.

Lunch for me is usually four items.

  • A few baby carrots (have recently switched to organic).
  • A sandwich with wheat bread, deli meat, cheese, and condiments (usually mustard, maybe a little mayo).
  • Fresh fruit such as grapes, strawberries, or pineapple.
  • A cup of yogurt (I’ve switched back to the Yoplait brand which has 1/3 less sugar than what I was eating).

Lunch Meat

I’ve always thought that getting lunch meat from the deli was a reasonably healthy alternative.  But, then I did some

Image from morguefile via lauramusikanski

checking and realized that deli meat is not very healthy at all.  It’s very processed, containing lots of fillers and preservatives, and it’s also very salty.

Yikes.

Some of my favorites are salami and bologna, which turn out to be among the worst.  Even low sodium versions still have quite a bit, and they still have the preservatives and fillers.

I also like ham, turkey and chicken, which aren’t as bad, though you still won’t hearing anyone call them healthy.

So what to do?

My Ideas On Lunch Meat Alternatives

I’m looking for ideas on what I could do to substitute in healthier options for lunch meat.  Here are some of the things I’ve thought of.

  • Tuna – I like canned tuna.  While I’ve seen fish on ‘very healthy items to eat’ lists, tuna never really seems to show up.  So, I’m wondering if this is healthy or if there are problems.
  • Egg Salad – It’s Lent, so we don’t eat meat on Fridays.  Egg salad is a fun Friday option, but is this a good option to eat regularly?  I know that many have backed off eggs as being bad for you, which was once thought.  Still, I always thought it was something to eat in moderation.
  • Left overs – I already eat left overs now and then as opportunity arises.  We often hold back left overs from lunches and make an entire dinner out of them after the cache grows.  Whether they would be healthier than a sandwich would depend on the dinner.
  • Salads – I know salads are a good option, but I get sick of salad quickly.  Too many salads and I tend to move on after a while.
  • Slice My Own Meat – One option I’ve seen is to buy fresh meat and slice it yourself.  This sounds great but I wouldn’t even know where to begin.  Would I have to buy my own meat slicer?  That sounds expensive, hard to maintain, and one more thing to take care of.

What Are Some Other Alternatives to Lunch Meat?

I know I can’t be the only one out there that brown bags it and wants to keep it simple and healthy.  So, what are some ideas of you have or that you’ve seen?  Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

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Qdoba vs Chipotle: We Finally Tried Qdoba For The First Time

Both Qdoba and Chipotle have been in business near our house for years.  We don’t go all that often, maybe once every few months, but when we’ve wanted a big old burrito wrap (or bowl), we always ended up in the nearby Chipotle.  However, Qdoba recently moved about a quarter mile down the road on the corner of one of the busiest intersections in the area.  The short move definitely seems to have helped business, as it’s always hopping.  It got us in the door, and we can now do a Qdoba vs Chipotle comparison.

Qdoba Vs Chipotle

OK, I’ll admit, part of what got us there was that we got a coupon in the mail.  A good ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ deal will work anytime.  But after we went, it made us realize that we’d been missing out!

It was pretty darn good!  It wasn’t perfect but it definitely made the list as far as places we’d visit now and then.

Here are some of the things we learned:

Qdoba has Queso

Chipotle is very well publicized for offering only fresh ingredients.  So they don’t offer anything the lines of gooey melted cheese.  Well, as much as I like fresh ingredients, I also like gooey melted cheese, so Qdoba gives you that option.  They have a couple of different varieties and they’ll put it on willingly for you.

Qdoba has free guacamole

I don’t like guacamole, not even a little bit, but my wife does, so regardless of my preference, it’s coming home with us.  Chipotle charges you a couple of bucks for a side of guac, where Qdoba feels that it’s part of the experience, so you get it at no extra charge.

Limit the rice

One thing that both my wife and I did was say ‘both’ when they asked what kind of rice we mb-2016-04-shellswanted.  They have two kinds.   I think that they basically doubled the amount of rice as both of ours seemed to have a LOT of rice.  Next time, we’ll either stick to one or ask for both but note that we don’t want as much.

Get some spice

I like a little spice but nothing overly spicy.  As such, I didn’t order anything that was spicy, and I probably should have.  You can get spicy queso, spicy salsa, and I think even one or two of the other things has some spice.  I got them all non-spicy and I realized that while what I had was tasty, it could have used a little bit of zip that would have come from getting something with a little extra spice.  Next time, I’ll order either the salsa or queso with spice.

Don’t forget the basics

There’s a lot to choose from when you get your burrito.  You can choose the type of meat, all the veggies, what kind of queso, salsa, etc.  I totally forgot to get sour cream, and realized it when I came home to eat.  Drat!  I love sour cream with my Mexican food.  Luckily we had some in the fridge, but considering it’s all included, I will make sure to get it next time.

So Which One Wins?

Quite honestly, the differences between Chipotle and Qdoba were so minimal that if you did a blind taste test, I would probably struggle to figure out which is which.  For us the determining factors are where we might have a coupon as well as which one is more accessible.  Believe it or not, the side of the road makes a big difference where both are located.

In the end, both can be considered, though we have been at Qdboa a lot more, as they’ve been more aggressive with coupons.

Readers, have you been to Qdoba?  What do you think?  Any ordering tips or secrets that I should know about for next time?  

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

12 Items We Always Have In Our Pantry

We don’t have a walk in pantry, but we do have some shelving downstairs at the bottom of the stairs that houses our stock-up items and overflow items.

I was taking a look and noticed that there are some things that we always have.  They either:

  • Are used in many planned meals we make
  • Can be used to throw something together

Twelve Pantry Items We Always Keep On Hand

  1. Breakfast Cereal – We love eating cereal either for the breakfast meal or for kids snacks.  We usually have some combination of Chex, Cheerios, or Crispix.  Source: Costco, Meijer
  2. Oatmeal – This is another common breakfast around our house, and we have instant oats and regular oats.  Many times we’ll make some regular oats on the stove, and some instant oats in the microwave, and mix it together to provide food for everyone.  Source: Costco
  3. Pasta – We always have some boxes of pasta on hand as it’s a center of many meals or can just be used if we"Not

    don’t have any other ideas. Source: Meijer

  4. Pasta Sauce – We always have some ‘red sauce’ on hand as well.  We got away from using the stuff loaded with sugar (e.g. Ragu, Prego) and instead typically stock up with Kirkland or Bertolli.  Source: Costco
  5. Canned Mushrooms – This always goes into our regular pasta dishes and we use them for other meals as well.  We often use fresh mushrooms, but if we don’t have any on hand, these are a good alternative.  Source: Aldi
  6. Canned Tomatoes – We love things like chili or lasagna or other items where tomatoes provide the base.  So we always stock up when we can on the various types of canned tomatoes for these recipes.  Source: Meijer, Aldi.
  7. Canned Beans – Again, we use a lot of recipes where beans are great to have on hand, so we’ll typically stock up on black beans, kidney beans, and other types that I can’t even remember, but always work well.  Source: Meijer, Aldi.
  8. Soup – When you don’t know what to have for lunch, a can of soup is always a good option, either by itself or along with something like a grilled cheese sandwich. When there are sales plus coupon opportunities, we will stock up regularly.  Source: Meijer
  9. Macaroni & cheese – Boxed mac & cheese is a favorite.  Our cat even used to love it!  It isn’t the healthiest thing so we don’t always eat it regularly, but it is nice to have some on hand for a quick meal or a side dish.  Source: Meijer, Kroger.
  10. Starchy sides – Our meals usually consist of a main dish, a vegetable and some sort of side.  We stock up on things like the aforementioned mac & cheese, but also things like rice, Rice-a-Roni, couscous, and other stuff that might be on sale.  Source: Meijer, Kroger, Aldi
  11. Chicken/Veggie Stock – We start many meals with some kind of stock.  We’ll often have liquid stock or a stock like Better than Bouillon to get things started.  Source: Costco, Meijer
  12. Snacks – We always have some sort of snack items for adults and kids.  Typically they vary between what’s on sale, what’s in season, and what we have a taste for, but we try to keep a few different things on hand.  Source: Costco, Meijer, Aldi, Kroger.

We usually have a variety of other things mixed in and the shelves can get full depending on how much we stock up, but chances are if you came at any time to do an inventory, you’re definitely going to find these twelve things.

Readers, what do you keep as ‘in-stock’ items at all times?

 

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