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The journey of a Christian wife, stay-at-home mom, quasi-tree-hugger, and cheapskate to find ways to "CHanGE" her life to be Cheaper, Healthier, Greener, and Easier. Constructive feedback always welcome!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Healthier: My Review of the Back Yard Burgers Garden Veggie Burger

OK, let's face it--in this culture, sometimes it's necessary to eat out. Or sometimes we just get sick of the same old thing every day for a meal. Such was the case with Huz today as we insisted we go to Back Yard Burgers for lunch with his parents, Dot, and me.

With a recent episode of Dr. Oz in the back of my mind as to how to pick out a "healthier" fast-food burger (Wednesday's episode, if I recall correctly), I opted for their Garden Veggie Burger. I had their Turkey Burger the last time we went to BYB, and I liked it ok. So I figured I'd try out another Healthier option to see if it passed my taste test. I ordered it with just lettuce and added a small amount of ketchup to it when I got to the table (I'm kind of picky with my toppings, admittedly). I added a small side salad with balsamic vinaigrette on the side...and a medium Pepsi. OK, so no one's perfect. :) My side-item purchase wasn't 100% noble; I figured I'd give Dot some of my salad (she'll eat the thin carrots and sometimes lettuce) in exchange for some of the fries she got with her kids' meal. On a side note, I'm not too happy that none of their kids' meals offers a healthier side besides fries, but I digress. (I got her a hot dog, in case you're curious. She's inherited my daggone picky gene.)

Here is the some of the nutrition information compared with my old standby at BYB, the 1/3 lb. Back Yard Burger, as taken from their website. Sometimes I would get cheese with it, sometimes not. We'll just compare a cheeseless burger.

Calories: BYB 680, GVB 400
Total Fat/Saturated Fat/Trans Fat: BYB 39g/14g/2g, GVB 8g/1.5g/0g
Cholesterol: BYB 105 mg, GVB 0mg
Sodium: BYB 1040 mg, GVB 1560 mg (interesting!)
Carbohydrates: BYB 47g, GVB 57g

So, in other words, unless you have reason to watch your salt intake or carbs, the Garden Veggie Burger appears to be a good bit Healthier. I wonder if you can ask them not to put salt on it before cooking to cut that back. Plus it was on what appeared to be a whole-wheat bun versus the regular white bun for other burgers.

What's IN the Garden Veggie Burger? Hmm, good question. I'm not sure what the main bonding agent was. Tofu? Soy? A Google search didn't help me find the answer. I did see bits of orange in there (carrot, I presume) and maybe a black bean. Everything else was pretty much a mystery. I wonder if it has a lot of beans because the fiber amount was more than double that of a regular burger (7g vs. 3g).

How did it taste? Pretty good, actually. It didn't taste like I was eating a bunch of veggies. I don't think it tastes just like a real burger, but it's definitely palatable and doesn't make me miss the other kind. The Turkey Burger was pretty good, too, if the idea of going all veggie on your burgers is a bit drastic of a step.

Is it Cheaper? Nope. A 1/3 lb Back Yard Burger costs $3.59 vs. $4.29 for the Garden Veggie Burger. You can get it on a combo meal. Whether or not the health portion of it is worth the extra 70 cents is up to you.

I tried to find a picture of the burger online, but the only one I could find just mainly showed the bun and a piece of lettuce, so you couldn't see what the actual veggie patty looked like.

Now, if I could just cut out my darn "soft drink at fast food restaurants" habit and just order water...I do pretty well at home with just drinking water, but I don't usually keep soft drinks in the house that are tempting for me--just Huz's Dr. Pepper which I don't like that much. I consider fast-food soft drinks my "treat," but I could stand to cut those out.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cheaper, Greener: Vinegar in the Dishwasher

For a long time, I've known about how to clean my dishwasher once a month using vinegar. The process is simple, really: in an empty dishwasher, pour 1 cup of undiluted white vinegar inside and run a normal cycle. It's supposed to break down those hard-water deposits so common in this part of the country.

A couple of weeks ago, though, I took my use of vinegar a step further: using it in the rinse-aid dispenser. Crunchy Savings gave me the idea. I had to use up the rest of the "blue stuff" first before I could try it out. Now that the vinegar has been used to rinse several loads, I can give my opinion on how the dishes turned out.

I will admit, sometimes the dishes aren't quite as sparkly as they were with the "blue stuff." And they're less likely to be 100% dry when I open the dishwasher, even after letting them sit overnight like I normally do. The plates and glasses are usually fine; some of the silverware and the little bit of plastic in there are sometimes still a bit damp. Letting them air-dry on my counter isn't a big deal. Will I keep using vinegar as a rinse aid? Probably--but since I'm so Cheap, I'll probably use up the rest of my "blue stuff" first so I won't be wasting it. Just won't have to buy it again. Given the cost of those little bottles, even with coupons, using vinegar will be a whole lot Cheaper and Greener as it's all-natural; I don't have to wonder what's in it.

As for detergent? I'm still using Finish Powerball Tabs. Haven't quite gotten brave enough to try either a Greener option or make my own. Our current dishwasher, pictured above, is only about 2 months old (had to replace one with a $700 problem to fix), and its manual states that those concentrated pacs give the best results in this dishwasher and that liquid or powder detergent should not be used. If someone knows of a suitable alternative that's both Cheaper and Greener, I'm open to suggestions! I can get Finish for pretty Cheap after BOGOs at Publix combined with coupons, but even Cheaper would be nice. :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Greener, Easier: Opting Out of Phone Book Delivery

I'm not sure why, but we get 5-6 phone books at our house PER YEAR. One white pages by our local phone company. One yellow pages for the metropolitan area near which we live. One yellow pages for our county. One yellow pages for our county and a neighboring county. A Yellow Book for the area. Really? Do we need this many phone books? Especially given how rapidly our area is growing, the book is practically obsolete within 6 months. When a new phone book comes, I have a hard time figuring out which one it's supposed to replace. Plus they take up an obscene amount of space in our living-room desk, leaving little room for much else. We hardly ever use them anymore thanks to the Internet and smartphones giving us the info so much faster and more conveniently.

Finally, there's a solution.

If you're as fed up with all the phone books as we've gotten, you can go to Yellow Pages Opt Out, register, and indicate which available phone books you do and don't want. The website claims that it takes up to 12 weeks for the request to be fully honored, so I can't promise that you won't get any more phone books, period. But the flow should slow drastically and eventually stop. I just registered our household today, so I'll have to see if it really works.

Not only is this Greener because it produces less demand for paper production, but it's Easier because it reduces clutter. And it's free. Can't get any Cheaper than that. Yippee!