sustainable living

Frugal February -Week 4 Menu & Shopping List

Week 4 of my Frugal Challenge is finally here and I can’t wait to see February go!  It’s been a cruel, cold month up here in Ontario and I am longing for spring flowers and playing outside!

Last week I wasn’t as organized as I wanted to be so this week I made a menu, selected recipes, and made a shopping list.  This one is vegetarian and has simple meals that are easy, healthy, and delicious.  It does take some time to do this kind of planning but I find it leads to less food waste (and money waste) and saves time during the week because I’ve already decided what I’m eating which makes packing lunches easier.

Check out my menu for the week:  Emily’s Menu – Week 4

Stay warm! Spring is on its way!


Pan-Cooked Lentil Burger Recipe

This was one of the recipes I made last week.  It turned out really well and I am definitely going to make them again. They are great on buns with toppings like a regular burger but I also cut some up for salads. They would also be good for tacos and sandwiches. My toddler really liked them too which is always a good sign! Enjoy the recipe!


Yield: 12 burgers


  • 1 cup raw red lentils (soaked for 4 hours or overnight in water)
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 cup cashews or peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Drain water from soaked lentils. Put lentils into a food processor and dice until smooth. Scoop into a medium bowl.
  2. Dice onion with oats, cashews, and rice in the food processor (If using peanut butter you can add it directly to the lentil burger mixture in the mixing bowl). Add to the bowl and stir together.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the burger mixture and stir through.
  4. Heat olive oil (or coconut oil) in a pan on the stove on medium heat. Use spoon to scoop batter onto the pan and shape into burgers.  It is a little stickier than a hamburger but they cook up nicely and I didn’t have any trouble with them falling apart 🙂
  5. Cook 4-5 minutes/side or until cooked through.
  6. Enjoy however you want!

Nutrition Info for 1 burger (using USDA Nutrient Database):

Calories 132; Protein 4.8g; Carbs 12g; Fat 4.4g

Frugal February Challenge Week 1 – How did it go?

Week 1 of my Frugal February Challenge went pretty well!

I tried to take pictures of everything but wow – that takes a lot of effort to do that!  I definitely ate more than what is in the pictures.  Not in a stuff-my-face-and-try-to-hide-it kind of way.  More in a I’m-really-craving-some-hummus-and-veggies-and-I-am-too-lazy-to-take-a-picture kind of way. I actually lost 2 lb this week 🙂

I haven’t been a big fan of tracking my food intake since I competed in a Fitness America Pageant forever ago but I actually did find tracking helpful to see patterns. For example, on Wednesday I didn’t eat my afternoon snack that I took to work and Thursdays I teach in the afternoon so I find that I get distracted and often don’t eat lunch.  This week I am going to try to have lunch before my class and bring a shake for the break (which will allow me to still answer questions and discuss with students compares to say, a salad.  I am going to be a little more diligent with using myfitnesspal to track my nutrition as well – it is SO easy to forget what you eat!

In terms of the budget plan, I caved yesterday and bought Tim Horton’s coffee for me and my co-worker ($3.40) and I did have to go buy coffee this morning ($7.99 for a bag of Ethical Bean on sale) so I am a little over budget for the week now but I enjoy my coffee and sometimes sharing is caring, especially after a long week of grant writing and editing.

Anyway, here is a run down of what I ate this week:

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I will post some recipes I made this week in separate posts after I do some marking…

Have a lovely Saturday!

Grocery Shopping Update – Week 1

Ta da!  Made it through 2 feet of snow drifts to my car and got me some groceries 🙂

Could not find rice noodles or tempeh and sausages were on sale (and will be super yummy on our pizza). Spent $98.10 (not including the snow shovel that I bought…finally!)

Anyway, here’s a very quick update.

Frugal February – How to Price Match at the Grocery Store

I am ready to start my Frugal February Fitness Challenge!

Here’s a little video I made about my grocery shopping/ price matching prep for tomorrow.  A huge thanks to my friend Coupon Christine for showing me her money-saving ways a couple years ago!  Sharing is caring!

February Frugal Fitness Challenge


With the Canadian dollar dropping to less than $0.80 US it seems like a good time to tighten my purse strings. As a PhD student and a single parent I don’t have a ton of money to begin with but I do spend money on things that I don’t really need. February just happens to start in a few days and it starts with the letter F, so (obviously) it makes sense to make it “Frugal Fitness February” and get to work!

Now that I have a home gym, I don’t have to worry about paying for a gym membership but I do spend quite a lot of money on supplements (protein, probiotics, fish oil, etc.) and healthy food.  So the challenge for me is how to spend less money without sacrificing health and performance (and body composition). I know some extreme money savers promote living as cheaply as possible by eating low quality foods but I personally am not willing to sacrifice my health and quality of life. Instead, here are some practical ideas that I am considering for my Frugal February challenge:

  1. Eat less meat. Rationale: Meat is expensive, biologically and financially. There is lots of protein in plants. Counterpoints: higher carbohydrate content in beans & legumes and somewhat harder to digest.
  2. Stop buying supplements. Rationale: You can get all the nutrients you need from food. Counterpoints: difficult to eat enough protein, omega 3s, B12, iron, etc. for optimal performance, recovery, and health. I really enjoy protein shakes….they are so yummy!
  3. Price matching at the grocery store.  Rationale: Get the lowest price on the foods that you want to buy without having to go to all the different stores. Counterpoints: requires planning and organization; must be willing to deal with impatient shoppers in line behind you.  (I am considering making a t-shirt that says “Price Matcher at Work” on the back to warn people…)
  4. Meal planning: Rationale: Waste less food by only getting what you need.  Counterpoints: Again, requires time to plan and also prepare meals.
  5. Stop buying coffees at work: Rationale: I probably spend $10/week on coffees and snacks on campus…which adds up to $40-$50 a month!  We also have a hot water kettle in the office and a stash of tea…so really no excuse here. Counterpoints: sometimes I am lazy and tired and I just want a Starbucks coffee.

So after thinking about all of these opportunities to save money, I think I will still buy some supplements and focus on the other 4 options.  Eating less meat combined with meal planning, price matching, and not buying stuff at school will probably make a significant difference.

Right now I budget $100/week for food (for me and my 2 year old).  I use to track all of my spending and accounts (it is really great and free!) and in January I spent $482 on groceries…so my goal for February is to actually get down to $100/week (lower would also be awesome).

What can you do to save a little or make a little extra this month?  I would love to hear your ideas!

Strategic Investment for Health & Fitness


This is Week 2 of my series on Fitness & Financial Health.  As I discussed last week, over the next few weeks I am going to discuss strategies and habits that will improve your health and fitness without busting your wallet.

This week we are going to talk about strategic investment.  It may sound fancy, but all it means is that you intentionally spend your money on things that are important to you, while cutting back on things that aren’t as important. Frugal fitness isn’t about not spending ANY money on health and fitness or mooching as much as you can for free; it’s about looking at the big picture in terms of what is important to you and making intentional choices about how you spend your money.

STEP 1. Right now think about what you value most.   Take a minute to write it down.

My list is pretty short.  Things that are the most important to me are (1) my son, (2) friends and family, (3) making nursing and health care better, and (4) being healthy, happy, and fit.

STEP 2. Spend money on what’s important.  Don’t spend it on crap that doesn’t matter.

This really isn’t rocket science but it can still be tough, especially when you have a limited income.  Having been a student for 13 years (yes, really) I have never made very much money and I made a lot of dumb decisions before learning how to use money effectively.  Through many years of trial and error I have learned to spend my money based on my needs and priorities rather than buying things thoughtlessly or impulsively or living a lifestyle I can’t afford.


Now for a little self-reflection…

Uncrumple those receipts you saved over the past week and take a look at each one.

Did your spending choices this week add value to your life?   

Did you regret any of your spending choices?  Which ones?  Consider why you feel this way.

Now add up the total money you spent on different things (e.g. food & supplements, entertainment, transportation, etc.).  Are you surprised by any of the numbers?

Based on what you spent last week, what can you do differently this week to spend less money on things that aren’t that important to you? (Write it down).


To do: Save your receipts this week in a separate envelope or jar (keep the ones you already have too!)

Thanks for joining in and see you next week!