Monthly Archives: September 2013

What to eat at Starbucks

Starbucks Coffee Company

The official drink of The Voice, and my husband. They should have a platinum card for guys like him.

There’s a lot out there about what NOT to eat, but how about a post about what constitutes a good choice?

Starbucks has a lot of food and drink with under 400 calories, which is a good caloric neighborhood, beverage included, when you’re making a stop to fuel up.  If you’re watching your calories, it’s a good idea to choose a beverage very, very low in calories (iced tea with one packet of sugar or one pump of sugar, coffee with one sugar and a very small hit of cream) if you’re having a snack.  I would keep the snack at or below 200 calories; you need to save room for other healthful foods throughout the day.

I will assume you are looking for a drink and a nibble…

  • First, remember that whipped cream adds 45-100 calories depending on the size of the drink.  If you want whipped cream, the obvious choice is the smaller-sized drink (the short with whip is 45, give it up: a grande has 60 calories for the whip and is more realistic).
  • Each pump of syrup adds a teaspoon of sugar, which is about 20 calories.  Caramel drizzle adds 15 calories, and chocolate adds just 5.
  • Protein/fiber powder adds 30 calories and is entirely unnecessary (only adds one gram of fiber?!  Let’s have bakery instead!).

Beverages (200 calories or less):

  • Iced brewed coffee or tea.  Get it without the added syrup, or just one pump, and add milk or soy milk.  If you add the milk, and choose nonfat and Tall, it’s 80 calories.  If you’re feeling spartan, a plain iced tea or coffee contains 0 calories.
  • Continue reading

12 tips to save you money on groceries

My mother used to use one of these and I LOVED it as a kid.  Alas, it only goes to 10 or 20 bucks!

My mother used to use one of these at the grocery store and I LOVED it as a kid. Alas, it only goes to 10 or 20 bucks!

Lately I’ve been taking greater care to stay on a grocery budget, and the process has been quite enlightening.  Though I never went hog-wild buying cartloads of groceries, I often found myself buying things in advance that we didn’t yet need, or lots of one thing, like fruit, without thinking about how much bread and protein foods we would need later in the week.  In other words, I wasn’t planning well, despite having a list.

Here are some tips that helped me:

1. Keep track of the bill as you shop.  I kept my list and my cell phone together and entered each item in the phone’s calculator.  It’s a pain when the calculator accidentally zeros out on you once in a while, but after entering the prices of everything for a few weeks, I found that I can look at the list and very closely estimate the cost before I shop.  If I have 10 things on the list and I know they will come to about $30, I know how to estimate from there if I decide to add ice cream as an impulse purchase — or decide that this week, I really shouldn’t.

2. Know your prices.  I know what yogurt, tofu, beans, and even some chips cost at every market where we shop.  If there’s a sale on yogurt or canned beans, I’m all over it because that’s two items we eat nearly every day.  Be careful about package size — sometimes an item will cost the same amount at Trader Joe’s as it does at Costco, but at Costco you get twice as much.  Which is great ONLY if you will consume twice as much.  Here’s an example: Costco has 6 heads of conventionally grown baby Romaine lettuce for $2.99 — the price for three organic heads of baby Romaine at Trader Joe’s.  I like organic, but when money’s tight, sometimes we do without.  If you’re a family of four, it’s 100 degrees outside and you’re eating salad until November, this is awesome.  If you live alone and don’t have a herd of pet rabbits, it doesn’t work at all.

3. Keep track of what you spend.  Our weekly budget for groceries is $150 (covers 63 meals for we three).  I have an Excel sheet divided into four weeks and I enter each receipt to keep track of the week’s total (along with everything else we spend).  A simple memo pad where you can jot down the amount for each trip will help you keep track, or you can use the Evernote app.  But if you shop in more than one place you need to find somewhere to record what you spent at Ralph’s or Whole Foods before you hit Costco, Walmart or Target and blow the budget completely.

4. Pay cash.  Nothing forces you to stick to the budget more than seeing the greenbacks visibly leave your hand.

Continue reading

If ya can’t beat ’em, feed ’em.

While I’ve been sitting around thinking about whether refried black beans would taste all right rolled up with sour cream and a little lettuce with


This is not Ms. A, but an unreasonable facsimile.

a flatbread jacket for her lunch, the kid was busy deciding that she would take off her beloved nail polish and get her health certificate so she could work in the very cafeteria where she normally won’t bother to eat.

After balling up the little health certificate and another necessary paper in her backpack, her homework folder, the dining table, and a random pocket, Ms. A finally delivered it to the cafeteria in exchange for a hair net, gloves and a little apron and 25 trays of hamburgers.  And free lunch.

Both of which she thoroughly enjoyed with the exception of the frozen apple cup.  Must they?  Would applesauce not have worked?  Ah, well.  She loved it so much that she says she’s going to finish up September as a cafeteria lady.

Clean hands, free lunch and a good work ethic?  I’m down with that.

Now, if she could just remember to put the homework back into the folder and then into the basket at school we’d really be cookin’ with gas.

p.s. – today Ms. A came home with the observation that among the elementary school population, roughly 99% of banana eaters start off their dining experience by making a bananaphone call, usually to the person standing directly behind them.  She also observed that the phone calls remained hilarious and nonsensical all the way to the last diner.  The cafeteria ladies were less amused, shouting, “Let’s go!  Let’s go!  Move the line! Take the bread or the banana [you can take both, but you have to take at least one of the two],” though the obvious choice was the banana, since it came with free minutes.

Again with the lunches…

I learned a new trick from the USDA: when keeping hot stuff hot, fill the thermos with boiling water for a few minutes before adding the hot food.  It works like a charm according to the kid, who reported that her rice and beans were nice and hot.  Today I ended up with: ice pack on bottom, grapes, crackers in plastic box as a barrier with the rice and beans hanging out on top.  Water and kid-approved seaweed snack: Done!

Don’t waste that nice hot water you left until it was the perfect temperature to brew a nice cup of tea.  See?  Now everyone’s happy.