Food hack: Ramen plus sriracha, spinach and egg


Nothing says ‘on a budget’ like a $2 12-pack of ramen.

We’ve launched a renewed savings initiative that entails working to control grocery and supply costs. It’s a top-three household expense, and the only expense that isn’t fixed.

It only made sense to pick up some ramen for the launch of our savings campaign.

Our first week target for food and supplies was $150. That’s in OKC, one of the least expensive metros in the country. Did we meet it? No. We spent about $180. That’s still under our old monthly budget target of $200/ week. I put the squeeze on this week and want to see how far $100 will stretch.

Yeah, sure, I want to save for medical emergencies and to pay down debt. Boring. We are determined to get to the ocean – and the Magic Kingdom – in the spring time.

That salty sea air will be so good for my lil buddy. The salt air is great for CFers’ lungs. Eli needs to be a surfer.

I digress.

Ramen has a rep in this country. It’s the butt of a joke. A symbol of college sustenance, or lack thereof.

When Mark and I lived in China for a year, we discovered an atmosphere in which noodle bowls had a lot more respect.

Chinese street food - tea-boiled duck eggs.
Chinese street food – tea-boiled duck eggs.
No, they don’t fill you up. The Chinese college students we taught found a way to hack noodle bowls that I will share here.

Ramen hack:

Depending on what your calorie intake goals are, you can eat the whole noodle bowl/ noodle cake, or, break it in half and save for later. I happen to still be tracking my cals on My Fitness Pal with a renewed sense of motivation given pending ocean trip. A whole ramen bowl/ cake is nearly 400 calories. Those calories don’t fill you up. The hack is a no-brainer: add protein. Add a lot of protein.

Half or whole bowl of ramen and seasoning
Boiled water
One to two boiled eggs
1 cup of spinach (Can use fresh or frozen. Just thaw frozen first)
Sriracha or similar red chili sauce. If you don’t have it, Frank’s Red Hot will also work
Soy sauce
Rice vinegar or white vinegar


Break noodle cake in half/ use half the bowl (or not, if you want all the noodles)
Add boiled water (duh)
Place lid or plate to let noodles absorb (duh)
When ready, add 1 – 2 peeled boiled eggs. You can slice these up if you want. I just break them up with chopsticks or a fork.
Add spinach
Add Siracha or Frank’s Red Hot – 1 tbs or more if you like it hot
Add 1 tsp of vinegar, more to taste
Add 1 tsp of soy, more to taste

BAM. I was full until dinnertime.

If you’re watching your salt intake, this may not be the budget meal for you.

Eli, on account of cystic fibrosis, needs extra salt. Ramen could make a good snack for a CFer. That being said, at 2, no way he would tolerate the spice, vinegar or soy. He is allergic to eggs and fat chance on noodles and spinach. Maybe later, little buddy.



How do you hack ramen? Well, send me a note or leave a comment! xo

Food hack: Ramen plus siracha, spinach and egg
Food hack: Ramen plus siracha, spinach and egg


Target data breach: just the nudge we needed to return to cash-based spending

We were hit by the Target data breach.

Hackers stole millions of credit and debit card numbers. They made off with encrypted personal identification numbers and things like our names, addresses, card expiration dates and the 3-digit code on the back of cards, according to a USA Today article.

Ya'll are cray cray
Ya’ll are cray cray

Those who shopped at Target Nov. 27 through Dec. 15 are at risk for being victims of one of the largest data breaches in history.

Target, happy place.


The day after Christmas, three suspicious charges appeared on our bank statement. Each purchase was made via our Target Red Card. A Red Card is like a Target-specific debit card. It’s connected to our checking account, and by using it, we save 5 percent a purchase. The suspicious charges were made the day after Christmas. We didn’t shop the day after Christmas. We go to Target a lot, sure, but would have remembered three swipes. We called our bank’s customer service department and were credited almost immediately.

The bank’s minions told us to close our bank accounts and start new ones, just to be safe. Uh…damn.

We also need to cancel our Target Red Card. Too bad all customer service roads lead to …on hold…

It’s all a pain, yeah, but that’s not why I’m writing this.

Continue reading Target data breach: just the nudge we needed to return to cash-based spending

5 things helping us save 10 percent of our monthly income

Hey hey. It’s Monday! Time for Monday morning $cash madness.

In July I fired up a savings account and chose to do an auto-deduct to save 10 percent of our income.

We didn’t have an emergency fund to weather a 30 day hospital stay for buddy boy. We’re trying to do better for the next time life throws something crazy our way.

While we build a little cushion, I’ve been Woodward & Bernsteining our food and supply budget. Since we live simply already, driving old cars, carrying no credit card debt, etc., I started our approach to formulating a financial long game by looking for waste in a giant household expense — food and supplies. This area costs more than rent check! That’s the piece of our budget that’s thus far under the gun, though I’ve been trying hard to curb impulse buys to help.

Little kids are expensive. Chronic medical conditions are expensive. My son has cystic fibrosis, no fault of his! Between diapers, childcare, preschool, paying down buddy boy’s medical expenses and co-pays for medications and extra doctor visits, we’re in a crunch. Saving 10 percent is a major challenge, is my point. Savings is more than just savings to my family. We don’t know what Eli’s medical future has in store for us. I don’t want him to ever, ever feel bad, like mommy & daddy are upset or stressed over bills and it’s his fault. That’s what’s driving all of this. Buddy boy has CF, but he’s changed us for the better in a lot of ways. We were ridin’ down the life highway with money blinders on. Exit — to financial responsibility! Onward!

Here are five things helping us save on our fledgling journey to financial freedom:

Continue reading 5 things helping us save 10 percent of our monthly income

Follow the money…aka oh @#!$

It's money madness
It’s money madness

I have about five minutes to write this.

Laila’s gettin’ bored, Eli wants to scoot and hoot and hollar.

It’s Monday Morning Money Madness, and I am typing and baby wearing and bouncing to knock this one out. I’ve stuck a bottle in Eli’s mouth and he’s looking at me, a little confused.

I am not trying to be “super” anything here…just trying to get our lives in order ppl.

I didn’t know where to start on my new personal finance path. I have so much to learn. It’s intimidating. I e-mailed a few personal finance journos for advice. Haven’t heard back.

That’s OK. I decided to take a cold, hard look at food, based on, ya know, logic. It’s our top expense outside of housing, and housing-wise, we are doing well. While we rent, the cost of a cute little 40s home with a driveway, garage and backyard is only about 15 percent of our take home. Drug dealers and prostitutes usually stay down the way, so, we’re good there!

OK, it’s time to get real about food, wonderful food. And supplies – diapers, cleaning, etc (!) – which are mixed in since we shop at Target.

I thought we were doing well this month. Hey, I’d stopped pounding lattes and eating out!

I can stop patting myself on the back.

Continue reading Follow the money…aka oh @#!$