Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (3/21 – 3/27)

We currently budget $400/month for food shopping (it was a little over $500 when YaYu was with us). That’s for everything though, including paper products (except for toilet paper, which we buy separately from Amazon by the case), once-a-week farmers’ market visits, and health-related items outside of prescriptions. $400 is not very much when you’re living on Kaua’i, but we’ve worked out a twice-a-month shopping system and have so far managed to stay just under that amount every month. We use shopping hacks learned when we lived here before, and stagger purchases of proteins and bulk items from Costco. When we arrived back in 2014, our food budget started at $1000/month (!!!) as we figured things out, but it didn’t take long to get that down to under $600/month for four of us, and it stayed there as long as the girls were with us. Although prices are going up every week it seems, $400/month works now for just the two of us. We also budget extra at the beginning of the year to stock up on items like toothpaste, deodorant, and other toiletries so we don’t have to include them in our monthly shopping, at least not for several months.

Creating varied, healthy meals on a tight budget has been a long-time effort for me, especially when I was trying to feed a family of five. It remains a challenge now to create meals for Brett and myself that don’t break our monthly food budget but are nutritious and not loaded with calories. We’re committed to this budget as less spent on food each month means more for our travel fund and other things. It’s a constant balancing act though between wants and needs.

We shop at five different stores on the island:

  1. Costco: We spend the most of our budget at Costco, where we buy items we use frequently. We also buy the majority of our protein there, usually two or three different items every two weeks. While Costco prices are slightly higher here than they are on the mainland, we would not be able to maintain our budget if Costco wasn’t here. Buying a few high-frequency products in bulk means we always have a variety of food on hand to create meals. Once of the biggest constraints on our Costco shopping is that we don’t have the space in our apartment to store much, but we stagger our purchases so that there’s usually a good variety of items on hand.
  2. Walmart: I had never set foot in a Walmart until we moved here, but it’s become a big part of keeping our food costs down. Walmart is where we get the items we don’t need or want in bulk, like rice, flour or sugar, or things like sauces or canned vegetables and some dairy. The prices at Walmart are very low compared to any place else on the island. They have an awesome Asian food section, Hawaii-grown vegetables (like green peppers or onions, which can be hard to find at the farmers’ market), and it’s a great place to find niche ingredients at a lower price. I also prefer some of their store brands over name-brand because they don’t contain things like high fructose corn syrup, thickeners, or other additives. Who knew? Although I have nothing to compare it with, I’ve been told more than once that the vibe at our Walmart is very different from any on the mainland.
  3. Local grocery store: Big Save, Times, and Safeway are our go-to markets, although we prefer the first two (both locally owned by the same company). We shop at these markets for milk (1/2 gallon every other week), a few produce items now and again that we can’t get at the farmers’ market or Walmart, and for the very few items we can’t find at Costco or Walmart, like arborio rice for example.
  4. Farmers’ market: We are blessed to have such great markets operating year round, and with the produce so affordably priced. We budget $15/week at the market, and can bring home quite a bit for that.
  5. Amazon: I bought a lot more through Amazon when we lived here before, but the only three items we buy now are toilet paper, Pacific Foods roasted pepper and tomato soup, and Thai Kitchen pad Thai kits. The toilet paper and soup are delivered by subscription, and I only buy the pad Thai mix when I can’t locate it here.

Before we shop I go through our pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what we have on hand, and then make a menu before I make the shopping list. We always take something off the list before we shop, and then try to figure one or two things we don’t need or can do without while we’re shopping. So far it’s all working to keep us on track with our budget.

Here’s what we ate for dinner this past week:

We had everything on hand to make this dish for less than $5.00.

Sunday: Tom Colicchio’s one pan pasta with ham and broccoli; pumpkin cake

Store bought but still delicious.

Monday: Spinach and cheddar quiche; pumpkin cake

My fried rice doesn’t hold a candle to YaYu’s.

Tuesday: Ham fried rice; pumpkin cake

We weren’t sure if the salad and sausages would go well together, but it was a very good meal!

Wednesday: Grilled chicken & apple sausages; guacamole salad; rum cake

Lots of green onions contrasted nicely with the sort of-sweet chicken sausage – it was a very good pizza!

Thursday: Mini pizzas with leftover chicken sausage and green onions; rum cake

A very satisfying meal, and no need (or room for) for dessert!

Friday: Breakfast for dinner (pancakes with lilikoi curd, sausages, and papaya)

The red pepper sauce was low cost and super easy to prepare – we will be having this again!

Saturday: Cheese tortellini with creamy red pepper sauce; green beans; rum cake

Here’s what’s planned for next week, in no particular order:

  • Chicken pad thai
  • Egg foo yung with bean sprouts; egg drop soup
  • Grilled Polish sausages in a bun; coleslaw
  • CookDo pork & pepper stir fry
  • Chicken adobo with bok choy
  • Mini pizzas with roasted peppers and sausage
  • Anniversary dining out

Rum cake will be our dessert all week.

Last week was a great one for walking. After so much rain, wind, and generally lousy weather for the past few weeks, this past one gave us two absolutely gorgeous days on Monday and Tuesday, with bright blue skies, soft breezes, and low humidity. We did our regular walk on Sunday although it was sketchy the entire time, but on Monday we went up to the park later than usual and were able to walk the perimeter of the golf course for a nice change of pace. We had debated not going because Monday way our day off but because the weather was so nice we couldn’t resist. On Tuesday the weather was if anything even better, and since it had been dry for a couple of days we headed back onto the trails through the woods, something we’d been missing. Both day’s walks were nearly five miles. Rain was predicted for Wednesday, but never showed up. However, my hay fever did show up and made me miserable, so I ended up taking the day off while Brett walked on his own. Thursday was once again gloomy, but we got in a shorter walk between showers, and Friday and Saturday were both lovely again and cool, and we did long walks each day.

We had hoped to be able to add another half mile or so to our distance this month, but it became pretty obvious toward the end of the month that was not going to happen. With all the weather-related interruptions there have been we feel grateful we didn’t lose ground, and were able to maintain our current pace and distance.

According to TikTok, because I can put my palms on my shoulders I am either intensely flexible or a freak of nature.

The doctor was very pleased with my weight the other day – 32 pounds gone since I was weighed at the doctors’ office last June. He said the walking is helping to combat osteoporosis in my hips as are the strength training exercises for my upper body. Maybe those upper body strength exercises are providing more benefits than I realized though because I have no trouble putting my palms up on my shoulders. I am pretty flexible overall (can bend over and put my palms on the floor without bending my knees, for example) but the shoulder one surprised me.

19 thoughts on “Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (3/21 – 3/27)

  1. Just a comment( not judgement ), the ads are really annoying. I know you want to monetize and you should but just as a reader, it is disruptive to the blog reading.

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    1. I honestly appreciate your opinion, and this was a difficult decision for me. However, I do put a lot of effort into my writing, and want to see if this is a viable income source. I’m going to give it a few months and if it’s not, the ads will go.

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      1. I agree about giving it some time. If you can make a few dollars from it that’s good. I like your blog and you are a very good writer so I will try and ignore the ads:)

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  2. I agree that the Walmart on Kauai has a great vibe. Very much an island store and not like the ones here. We always shop there when we arrive! And I have to say, you are looking AMAZING! I love the short haircut!!

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    1. Thanks, Denise! I see photos of myself these days and am sort of shocked as well as pleased. The walking is making a huge difference. I like my short hair too, although it grows quickly here. I am going to have to figure out how to keep it up when we’re traveling – I was always to scared to get it cut before when we were on the road.

      I don’t love Walmart here, but I don’t hate it either, and we only shop in the food section (only occasionally needing something from another part of the store). It is a very friendly place, and I think just about everyone here shops there. We are FINALLY getting a Target in the next couple of years (moving into the old Kmart at Kukui Grove – work is already started) so that will give us another option (finally).

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  3. I always wonder when people say ads on a blog are annoying if I’m seeing the same thing. They are really not obtrusive to me – and I have been on some websites where they are jumping into my text reading constantly. 🤷‍♀️

    You are more flexible than I am…I can’t get my palms down unto my shoulders. Of course I had to try after seeing that pic. I have done yoga a few times and realize that about my flexibility though. haha.

    I haven’t been a Walmart fan either, but our health insurance now includes a $75 quarterly OTC benefit and Walmart is the closest place to use the card and pick up our OTC things (vitamins, cold meds, etc.) free. So I go there. It’s gotten better – at least by us – and I tend to pick up a couple other things while I’m there, which I’m sure is their intent in participating.

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    1. The Walmart here is very different, but the prices are low – the shampoo we use, for example, is only 4 cents more than we paid back on the mainland (and we pay tax here which we didn’t in Oregon). Other items can be $1 – $2 less than they are at Big Save or Safeway, so it makes sense to buy them at Walmart. My only issue with them is that they run out of things quickly and it can take a while for shelves to be restocked, but I think that’s more an issue of items getting over here from the mainland.

      I am pretty flexible overall (although I’ve never been able to do the splits). Brett can put his right hand on his should, but not his left for some reason, and my children can’t do it.

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  4. I read in the WordPress app. No ads for me.

    You’re looking so fit and young and energetic! Well done. I can’t touch the floor but can put my pal on my shoulders – can’t everyone? I will have to test people at work.

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    1. Thank you! And, that’s what I thought when I touched my palms to my shoulders: “You mean everyone can’t do this?”

      Interesting that you don’t see them via the app – I use the app from time to time but only see the ads some of the time, other times no.

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  5. I am always surprised at how creative you are with your meals. They look and sound amazing. I have tried quite a few of the recipes you have posted and loved every one of them! Thank you for the inspiration.

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    1. Thank you, Kelly – I’m so glad to hear you like the recipes too. Most everything I make is fairly uncomplicated, but we like flavor and variety.

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  6. The white t-shirt is adorable!

    You might like the beef/pork cabbage stir fry recipe on Budget Bytes. I make it with ground pork, add a sprinkle of roasted peanuts on top, and it is delish….and no/low carbs! Here’s a link: https://www.budgetbytes.com/beef-cabbage-stir-fry/

    Regarding ads…I’m not sure everyone understands that you have costs associated with hosting this blog. At a bare minimum you should be able to host ads to recoup your expenses. I can think of no other forms of “entertainment” that do not have sponsorship or ads.

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    1. Oh! And a thought for having haircuts while nomading….show the hairdresser photos of the front, back and sides of a cut you really like just after it is done. A picture truly is worth a thousand words!

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      1. That’s exactly what I plan to do this next time!

        The scariest place for me to event think about getting a haircut is Japan because they don’t have a lot of experience cutting curly hair.

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    2. The beef & cabbage dish is similar to the egg roll in a bowl. I’ve bookmarked the recipe and usually have most of the things to make it on hand so expect to see it in the future.

      I don’t think I’m going to make much from the ads, but am going to give it a few months and see how it goes. The hosting fees through WordPress are reasonable, but otherwise the biggest expense is time!

      I bought the shirt months ago from J. Jill (on sale, of course). It got buried under a few other shirts in the closet for a while and I sort of forgot I had it, so was happy to find it the other day – I love it too!

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  7. Thought I’d mention that Walmart gift cards are a redemption option for Microsoft Bing Rewards. 5,250 points for a $5 gift card 10,500 points for a $10 gift card and 26,250 points for a $25 gift card. I find Bing points much easier to earn than Swagbucks. Granted there’s not as much earning potential with Bing points, but for 10 minutes of time invested it’s possible to earn over 250 Bing points on a daily basis.

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  8. Yes they are digital sent to your email within a day or two.
    For the record regarding ads, I’ve noticed a few, but they are not obtrusive in the least. Clearly you invest a great deal of time and heart in your blog, and have shared so much useful information with your readers. If advertisements are a source of income that can help you achieve your goals then why not utilize them?

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    1. Thanks. I don’t think I’m going to get rich from the ads, but hopefully they will bring in something. If they don’t, they’ll be dropped.

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