June 1, 2010

June Challenges: walking and saving

I've set myself a 30-day challenge this month of taking a walk every day. That's it. Simple.

I don't think it will be that difficult because I already walk about four or five times a week, but I'm curious how I'll feel if I walk every single day. There are no rules except that "walking" doesn't mean from my car into the office or from the parking lot into the supermarket. It has to be an intentional walk, but it doesn't have to be any certain place or length of time. Ideally, all walks will be at least 30 minutes, many will be longer, and a few will be 2 or 3 hour hikes.

Apparently it's a month for challenges, and I can't resist joining in Katy's Food Stamp Challenge over at The Non-Consumer Advocate. The idea is to keep your grocery bill to the amount you'd be allowed if you were on food stamps, and to donate what you have left at the end of the month to your local food bank. I've already cut our grocery budget to stay within the average of what a family of two would receive if they qualified for Food Stamps. I did that over a year ago after reading this post on The Crunchy Chicken about whether it was possible to eat local and organic on that allotment. I wanted to eat more local and organic, but I didn't want to spend more money, so I used her estimate of $323 a month for two people and have been able to stay under that amount for over a year while receiving a CSA delivery. The only month I went over was when we had a Christmas party, because entertaining isn't something I want to scrimp on.

Katy's challenge will be more difficult for us, because she came up with the figure of $101 per person, which will be $202 for my husband and myself. With $90 going to the CSA right off the bat, that doesn't leave much to work with, so I think this will finally motivate me to start baking our own bread and making my own yogurt. Those are two of the things (along with cheese) I need to buy almost every week, and the biggest expense outside of meat. And at this point, I'm down to buying meat once a week or less, either a piece of fresh fish at the fish market or some ground turkey for chili or turkey burgers.

In order to stay within that budget without sacrificing our health I'll have to get creative. I've started a list of some of our favorite meals that always yield leftovers, like soups and crockpot recipes. Plus I'll be able to clear out the pantry and the freezer a bit. We will be eating a lot of rice and beans, but I'm confident we won't get bored as long as we're receiving our delicious CSA delivery. And if rice means mushroom risotto and beans means Katy's black bean burgers, the challenge isn't going to be a sacrifice.

Do you want to join me in either of these challenges? Please let me know in the Comments section. And feel free to share your ideas for healthy meals on a budget as well.

13 comments:

danielle said...

Angela--

I walk pretty much everyday and find it so helpful in so many ways--how I feel, for example, and that most of my good ideas arrive spontaneously while walking. :)

Btw, I love your new photos and tagline--excellent changes.

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Angela, that walking challenge sounds like a great idea, count me in. I walk five days a week to and from my office (30 minutes round-trip) and a maybe twice a week on a local high school track, but would love to do even more. Fitness often takes a backseat on weekends to errands/chores, but it shouldn't.

Marie-Josée said...

I will join the walking challenge. I walk to work every morning (a 30 minute walk) but my husband and I have been neglecting our weekend walks this past year. I won't be joining the food challenge. We buy mostly organic, and mostly fresh produce, which is very expensive in Quebec, Canada. We spend over 1000K on food per month. I have been tempted, on and off, to purchase fresh non organic produce, to ease our budget, but then I read about sewage sludge that is spread as fertilizer on commercial produce soil, and I can't bring myself to do it. We have always purchased organic foods, even when our budget was extremely tight, and thankfully my husband values this as well.

Betsy Talbot said...

Walking is such great exercise. My mom walked 2-4 miles per day combined with sensible eating and lost 60 pounds over the course of 20 months. Pretty amazing!

The challenge I'm considering is becoming a weekday vegetarian. I've always toyed with the idea of becoming a vegetarian but didn't think I could do it. It never even dawned on me that I could make it a 70% goal and still reap huge benefits to my health, environment, and bank account. You can watch the short video where I learned about this here: http://www.ted.com/talks/graham_hill_weekday_vegetarian.html

Good luck with your walking challenge. The writer Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way) recommends a daily walk as a way to rejuvenate your creative self. I'll be interested to hear if you notice that kind of benefit in the next 30 days.

Angela said...

Welcome fellow walkers! I'm actually very excited about this challenge even though I already walk almost every day, for the reasons you've mentioned- creativity and clearing my mind.

Danielle- I also feel good when I walk often, and that's also when I get most of my best ideas. I wonder why that is. The rest of them I get in the shower. Thanks for the compliments on the minor changes, I wish I knew how to change fonts, etc. on the layout. Blogger seems to want you to keep the same font for the entire blog. I'd like that tagline to be larger and more noticeable.

Catherine- Walking to work every day is great exercise! I love combining things that way- your commute with fitness. And on the weekend I like to combine fun and social activities with fitness, like going for a hike. When I lived in New York, I was in the best shape ever simply because I walked constantly- up to several hours on the weekends, when I would just walk around downtown and go in and out of jazz clubs. Oh, I love New York.

Marie-Josee- Glad you'll join the walking challenge. Organic produce is worth paying for, and we are so lucky in Southern California that it is affordable. I don't think I could go back, other than bananas and the occasional item I need for a recipe. Our twice a month CSA only costs $90 and that is 90% of the produce we eat for the month. Lucky us.

Betsy- Good for your mom! Walking has been my preferred exercise for the past several years, because I love so much about it above and beyond the exercise. For one thing, as you mentioned, it's great for clearing your mind and letting ideas come. Also, it's been a fantastic way for me to get to know my neighborhood - I talk to several people along my walk and "meet" several pet friends. Also I like to look at what people are planting in their yards, and this is how I planned our landscaping. And I love getting the fresh air. Walking has made me feel a sense of community in a very tangible way- I'll stop in to a private business and I see what's going on in the neighborhood.

Also, the weekday vegetarian thing sounds great. Doing meatless monday and getting the CSA has made us much less interested in meat. We already only ate fish and chicken, but now once a week seems plenty to us, especially if we also eat it when we go out about once a week. There are so many great recipes all over the Internet- I recommend the MM website, plus vegetarian times and 30 bucks a week. Let me know how it goes! Personally, I have more recipes than I have time to try just from reader suggestions on my Meatless Monday posts. An abundance of knowledge and ideas!

Today I'm skipping the gym for a walk. I'm going to try to still go to the gym minimally, but concentrate on the walking. I still go to yoga once or twice a week, but I consider that more like church and therapy combined than exercise.

Thanks for all your comments- I look forward to sharing notes at the end of the month.

Hiptobeme said...

I'll join you in the walking! Yesterday i took an intentional walk and it felt great. Today, I can squeeze one in before work. The grocery situation is weird right now at my place. I hope to live at the farmer's market this year. It is a bit more money at the outset, but right now, with my husband away and just me and the 5 yo eating, I can do away with big shops and just live on fresh stuff, I hope. My time is crunched too, but buying and wasting less should offset my costs. Great post! I am inspired, as always.

Jenna said...

I like both of these challenges a lot!!

Angela, can you elaborate on how to make your own yogurt? I guess I could Google it, but I'm curious to hear your method :)

Angela said...

HipToBeMe- Yay, glad you're joining in the walking challenge! And good luck with the Farmer's Market- I love the idea of going often and preparing dinner from what is fresh and tasty. I don't seem to have that kind of schedule, but I hope that works out for you. Even if it's just a summer schedule, it sounds lovely!

Jenna- I tried making yogurt once and it wasn't up to my standards so I gave it to my neighbor. I'm going to try again with The Frugal Girl's recipe- just go to her site and type yogurt in the search- and this time I'll use whole milk instead of 2% and I'll pay more attention to the temperature. I finally bought a thermometer yesterday, because apparently that is an important step that I was just sort of "guessing" on. I'm not so exacting in my cooking or baking, so that sort of turned me off. But I eat a LOT of yogurt (nearly every day) so I think it would be nice to make it myself- to save money and packaging.

Anonymous said...

I would love to not drive to work and have been trying to find a carpooling partner to commute the 10 miles to work. (Ridesolutions.org, craigslist, etc) I am frustrated with the oil spill in the gulf and feel my driving certainly contributes to petroleum consumption. No luck finding a carpool yet though. Walking would take hours (about 3) so that's out, biking is a consideration if I can find a safe route ( I live on a main highway). Rollerskate? scooter? I'm not at the point of telecommuting yet, but maybe someday. My workplace won't consider working 4 10 hour days unfortunately. Dont' want to sell the house yet either. I have lots to think about here and welcome ideas.

Angela said...

Anonymous- It's funny, I've been thinking the same thing lately. I work partly at home and partly about 10 miles or less away. It's an easy drive, but if there were a subway system it would be so great. I was just about to look up the bus route- it tends to be an awful way to get around in Los Angeles, but if it's a direct route I might consider it. Good luck!

Forest Parks said...

This should be a fun challenge.... I try and walk every few days to a new place, even if it's just down different streets... It's important to know your area and area''s surrounding.

Thanks,
Forest.
http://frugalzeitgeist.com

elizabeth carmen said...

I love both these challenges; I can only imagine how insightful the Food Stamp challenge will be. It's a shame eating healthy can be so expensive! Looking forward to your updates!

Angela said...

This is our bus system in Los Angeles: what is a 15 minute drive directly west of us is a 90 minute bus trip with a transfer. Aargh!!