Free Excel Budget Tracker

Free Budget Tracker

The new year is always a great time to start a budget or get your existing budget into shape. If you’re anything like me, the excess and chaos of the holidays makes me want to simplify, spend less money, and try to get a handle on everything. Having a solid budget and a solid budget tracker helps me get back on track.

I’ve been using this particular one for several years now. I stumbled upon a version of the “monthly expenses” and then I modified it and turned it into a month-by-month tracker that has all sorts of Excel math magic already built in. Other features include:

  • Formatted to show you the entire year at a glance
  • Completely flexible if things change
  • Month-to-month expenses tracking. There’s a tab for each month where you can add everything from Starbucks to Kindle books, groceries and gas. Whatever you want to track. All expenses are then deducted from the monthly deposit total. The Excel formulas are already built in, so all you have to do is enter your expenses.
  • Off budget expenses tracking for those things that don’t fit your normal budget categories. For example, I don’t exactly budget for charitable contributions like I do for groceries, but I make them every now and again. This tracker allows for that.
  • Savings tracking, including an optional column on expenses for automatic savings transfers. My checking account is set up that every time I use my check card $3 is automatically transferred to my savings account.
  • Automatic balance calculation. At the beginning of every month I input all of my bills, as well as any purchases I know that I will have to make. Right away, I can see what I’m working with for the rest of month and how much I can spend on groceries, gas, etc. Then as I add in expenses, I can see how much I have left. This should probably be the first feature that I list, because this is probably it’s most valuable feature.

I hope this can be helpful to you. It sure has been for me.

Free Excel Budget Tracker

Mindful Rest, AKA – “I’m Tired, Yo”

rest

I’m a busy body. I can also be extraordinarily lazy. These two states seem to be in conflict, and they are to a certain extent. I oscillate between them. But most of the time when I’m being physically lazy, I’m mentally obsessing over what I should be doing, so my mind is still busy. It’s making to-do lists and developing new strategies and inventing. I’m always inventing.

It’s part of my personality. If you’ve ever heard of the “Real Colors” or “Four Colors” personality test, then you’ll understand why I’m always inventing. I’m a Green. According to the test, as a Green I’m confident, mentally strong, logical, and inventive. I have high expectations, I’m knowledgeable and I enjoy my own company. For me, work is play and that’s the truth. And it’s the Green in me that inspires this blog and all my little efforts.

It isn’t easy being Green (thank you Kermit), mostly because I’m uneasy when my emotions get the best of me. I fear big, inevitable, emotions such as grief and so that limits me in my relationships. I also get bored with established routines, because I want to invent a new one. It’s a terrible cycle.

Anyway – the point is, even when I’m being physically lazy, I’m not resting. I’m obsessing. I’m connected. I’m inventing. Well yesterday, I got knocked onto my ass. I woke up feeling pretty terrible, slow and achy and tired. So I called in sick. I spent most of the day in my pajamas, either on the couch or in bed, and I checked out mentally. I let my brain rest and focus on the crap I was watching on TV. And while I may have thought about recipes I’d like to try or things I’d like to accomplish a little bit, it was way less. There were moments of temptation, when I thought – hey, I could surely do some laundry while I’m home or bake another batch of muffins. Nope. My body wouldn’t let me do it. So I gave in to the Rest. The Rest embraced me and I let it. And I loved it and it healed me.

I looked up the word rest, and here’s the definition:

rest 1 (rst) n.
1. Cessation of work, exertion, or activity.
2. Peace, ease, or refreshment resulting from sleep or the cessation of an activity.
3. Sleep or quiet relaxation.
4. The repose of death: eternal rest.
5. Relief or freedom from disquiet or disturbance.
6. Mental or emotional tranquillity.
7. Termination or absence of motion.
8. A device used as a support: backrest.

God is the ultimate creator, the ultimate inventor, and is all the colors of the personality test. And yet, God even knew to take a break on the seventh day. I’d like to think that God still takes breaks and watches reruns of Friends while laying in a big comfy bed. God wants us to rest. It’s the only way we can keep going.

Today, I woke up refreshed and motivated. I cleared out my inbox before 7 a.m., followed my routine, and felt better than I have in a few weeks. Thank you Rest. You rock.

So it goes without saying, that I need to prioritize rest higher. I need to let go of the guilt and not wait for some illness to make it happen. There’s no one in my life that wouldn’t benefit from me taking a breather, and I’m sure that’s the case for all of you.

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolate Chip Muffins

My ideal muffin is a little bit salty, a little bit sweet, dense, and it has a sweet crunchy top. These muffins check all of those boxes, plus they hold up very well in the freezer, which is a must for me.

This recipe makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk (any kind will do, I use 2%)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I use pure Mexican Vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or blueberries or whatever tasty little addition you might like. This recipe is flexible.
  • Topping:
    • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Grease (Pam, butter, etc.), or line with paper muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract.
  4. Fold the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter, into the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are moistened and combined. (Do not over mix.)
  5. Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter. Ice cream scoops work great.
  6. In a small bowl combine the topping ingredients and then sprinkle a little topping on each muffin.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 5-10 minutes before removing from pan. Can be covered and stored at room temperature for a few days or they can be frozen.

Freezer notes

  • After they’ve cooled from baking, wrap each one in plastic wrap, and store in a labeled ziplock bag.
    • These make them so handy for on the go. I’ll typically grab one on the way to work and by the time I’m settled at my desk, it’s thawed and ready to be enjoyed.
  • To enjoy them warmed up: just pop them out of the freezer and place them back in the muffin tin. Place them in a 350 degree oven until heated through. You can also microwave at 20 second intervals until they are as warm as you like.
  • Keep about 3-4 months

7 Steps to Become an Early Riser

7 Steps to Become an Early Riser

For a long time now (like my whole adult life), I’ve wanted to be one of those people that breezed into work, right on time, with my made-at-home coffee in one hand and my to-do list in the other, looking professional in wrinkle-free clothes and smelling quite nice because I took my routine morning shower. This has been the vision and my goal. My own Mount Everest Long’s Peak.

But for years and years, this just hasn’t been the case. Instead, I was rolling in around 9 (if lucky), wearing something I spent ten minutes looking for in the “clean clothes pile” on my floor, with my pricey Starbucks coffee and pastry, yawning from going to bed just past midnight, and dreading the chaotic inbox that awaited and would surely to ruin my day.

In my mind I could see how it could be. I could see myself as this ideal person. I could also see that if I fixed my mornings and my nights, I might be able to accomplish some of my other goals. It might be as simple as making my bed in the morning, or putting my clothes away at night that could create the type of change that would help me get my finances in order, finish the latest novel I’ve been working on, keep a clean house, or get in shape. It’s all connected, and it’s all about getting enough sleep at night and getting the right start in the morning to make it so.

The people I know who are the most productive, organized, and seemingly stress free about the little things in life are the ones that get up early in the morning. They all have this trait in common. So that’s where I decided to start.

Now – it should be noted that I’ve had this deep desire to make a change like this for a long time. I made attempts here and there and I was interested in the subject, but I couldn’t make it stick. Then one night, I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline and I saw a tweet about waking early by a self-improvement guru I’ve come to respect over the years. I followed his link to learn about a book that some dude wrote on the subject. I made the stupid, yet secretly brilliant, decision to purchase this book.

At first, it was a stupid decision because the book was so bad. His big secret to waking up early – go to bed early. Shocking right? The rest of the book was an attempt to inspire the reader to be a better person. The intention was good, but it mostly annoyed me because we don’t all have stay-at-home spouses who take care of everything so we can use our extra time to do whatever we please. So the book inspired me to make my own plan that would work for me. And this is what I came up with.

1. Clean up your bedroom

If you keep a tidy bedroom with your clothes in your closet, instead of on your floor, congratulations. You are already past step one. If you do not, take some time to get it all put away. This was the first step to my success, because it made the routine way easier to follow and saves me so much time now that I can easily put my clothes away at night and lay out my clothes for the next day. I had no idea how much stress that put upon me and honestly prevented me from wanting to get up and deal with it every morning.

2. Leverage the weekend

Time can be sparse, especially if you have kids, or work, or work and have kids, or work and have kids a few nights a week and on the weekend. The latter is me. However, I’ve been trying harder to use some of that time to get prepared for the week ahead. I’ve been cooking in big batches to freeze or refrigerate for the week. I make sure I get some grocery shopping done so that I will have easy breakfasts to have at home and quick lunches to pack for work. If you know what you’re doing for food, the day isn’t as overwhelming and you’re more likely to get your butt out of bed.

Tip! I make a gallon jug of iced coffee that I can enjoy all week. This recipe is so simple, it saves a ton of money, it makes my morning coffee routine crazy simple, and it’s so delicious. I simply cold brew a gallon of water and half a pound of ground coffee in a big bowl for 8 hours on Sunday. Then I run it through a fine mesh strainer and a paper towel right into the jug. Boom. I’m set for the week.

3. Ten minutes at night will save you twenty minutes in the morning

If you’re a bit slower in the morning, raise your hand. I raised both. The nighttime me thinks that the morning me is awesome and completely capable of handling everything. You can do it morning Rochelle. I’m just gonna lay here and play Candy Crush until I pass out. The morning me hates the nighttime me. A lot. She begs for her nighttime counterpart to make life easier.

I used to make fun of my father for being so whacked out about his nighttime routine. Every night before bed he does the exact same thing. He gets his clothes ready for the next day (sometimes even ironing them – crazy!), the coffee pot ready, puts the skillet for his eggs on stove, puts a plate next to it on the counter, puts a vitamin and water glass next to that. He takes his nightly shower and heads to bed just after the news. Every single night. He’s going to kill me for saying this, but I get it now. Those little efforts at night have a high impact on his morning.

So before bed, I make sure that I have my clothes ready and everything else I might need. And then I make or refer to a list. A literal list of of what I’m going to do in the morning. From getting up, to using the restroom, to flossing. I’ve taken out all of the brainwork and now it’s muscle memory. And even better, it’s now a routine in the true sense. If I don’t do it, I feel uneasy. I guess that’s what it means to develop a habit. I feel a little like Rain Man, but hey, if you’ve got to be a little odd and repetitive about something make it something that will help you.

4. Tune in to your tired time

Around 9:30 p.m. every night I get a bit sleepy. It’s usually just some yawns and a case of droopy eyes. I used to fight through it and then be totally awake for several more hours instead of embracing my “tired time.” Now, I use it to my advantage. When it comes, I basically say goodnight and get on my way. Falling asleep is easy if I can get to bed within that window. When I talk to people about having a tired time I get funny looks. I’d like to think that most people are like me in this regard, but they just haven’t acknowledged it yet. Get in touch with your rhythm, you may be surprised what your body tells you.

5. Get up, get dressed and make the bed

There are some that may like to get up early and sit around in their pajamas, drinking coffee, and reading or even start working. Then they go get ready for their day. This does not work for me. My mind will latch onto the idea of a pajama day and the pain of departing from such a relaxing moment is too much for me to bear.

Likewise, I personally had to overcome a little morning routine that was ruining me. I used to wake up, go to the bathroom, and then crawl back into bed and read on my phone (Twitter, Facebook, and sometimes a book). By the time I got back out I knew pretty much all of the world’s news, what my friends were up to, and the latest plot twist in my book. This could last until 8:45 or 9, easily.

Knowing this about myself, I made sure that when I got up….I got up. I went right into the list I made, which dictates that I have to get ready before I do anything else and make my bed. No more crawl back in temptations.

6. Gamify it

I’m a nerd at heart. I love technology and I love games. Okay – I don’t think that classifies as a nerd anymore, but my love goes way back so I’m grandfathered in. Anyway – I found out about this great app called Lift. I will not lie, half of my success can be attributed to this *free* app that is all about building good habits. I like apps. I like checklists. I like when things turn bright green because I accomplished something. I like being in a community of people who are doing similar things. I have a feeling you will too. Get this app.

Lift App

Lift app

7. Take it slow

I knew that I wouldn’t be successful if I decided one day to start waking up at 5 instead of at 7:30. That wasn’t going to work. So I inched my way back. I started at 6:30, then after a couple of days got to 6. That made a huge difference in my life. Now I’m inching back further and I’m getting up at 5:45. My goal is to get up at 5:30. That seems reasonable to me. Don’t go crazy. Be kind to your mind and body.

So…

You may be wondering – what are the results and will she stick with it?

Well, I didn’t want to write about this until I was certain that the habits would stick. So I’ve been doing this for three weeks and it feels pretty set. I guess they were right about it taking 21 days to build a habit. I still worry about backsliding, but I’m doing a couple of things to decrease the likelihood.

First, I’m not sleeping in on the weekends like I used to. I’m trying to wake up at the same time every day so my rhythm stays the same. That quiet time on Saturday and Sunday mornings seems extra luxurious.

Second, I’m trying to acknowledge all the other great side effects of this new behavior, such as:

  • Saving a ton of money by eating breakfast at home and packing a lunch.
  • Getting to work on-time. As a manager, I feel like that’s the right thing to do, because it’s what I expect of my employees.
  • Wearing nicer clothes everyday.
  • Feeling less stressed because I’m not scrambling to feed, clothe, and move myself (and sometimes others).
  • Getting all the hot water I want in the morning.
  • Having a peaceful, easygoing drive into work since I’m not late.
  • Being more organized at work since I feel like I’m not already behind when I arrive.
  • Feeling good at the end of the day that I gave it my all.

Finally, I’d like to share a story about how I grew very appreciative of my new habits. Last week I was woken at 4:45 by a text message about a major IT outage at work. As an Assistant Director of IT Communications, I had to jump up and get to work right away. My brain was still on the slow side, but it could have been much worse. After a couple of conference calls, putting plans into action, and directing my staff, I had to leave to go into the office early. With a crisis at hand, I was more grateful than ever to have my clothes laid out, my packed lunch, and my iced coffee waiting for me in the fridge. When I was about to dash out of my bedroom to get on my way, I looked back at the unmade bed. I couldn’t let it stay that way, I went back and made it quickly. That’s when I knew. I knew that it had stuck and that later that night when I crawled into my nicely made bed, I’d be thanking the morning Rochelle for having it so together. For being that person I visioned for so many years.

My next steps:

  • Continue to develop these habits so that it’s now my default behavior.
  • Adapt the routine for the school year and getting the kids out the door as easily and pleasantly as possible.
  • Slowly start to build up cleaning and cooking habits so that it’s second nature.
  • Add in exercise, meditation, or yoga.
  • Get the rest of my home team on board. That one will be a little more tricky.

What are your tips for being an early riser?

I bought a house

By Rochelle

I bought my first house! Talk about being a big girl. That’s me! I feel so adult. And I really am so happy. I can’t believe I didn’t do this earlier. It is a very satisfying feeling. I never knew how much renting stressed me out. I never feel really comfortable. I always felt like I was guest. Strange, huh? But now I have my own place that I can do whatever I like. It’s great! I took a lot of work to make it happen and it’s not nearly as simple as they make it seem on House Hunters, but I believe it can work for a lot of people. If you have never bought a home before, but you’d like to, just talk to a lender. See what’s possible and if you do qualify for something. Turns out I qualified all along, I just didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself. The best part about the house. I am only paying $150 a month more than what I paid in rent and it’s so much more than my old apartment.

 

My Terrible Money Cycle

I’m not one that really feels like I live an excessive life, but I must be doing something wrong. My finances are looking rather crummy these days and I need to make some changes to get everything back on track. I keep having to borrow against a reserve line I have. Then at the beginning of each month, I pay back that reserve, only to come up short later and have to borrow again. I just can’t get ahead. I’ve decided to make April a time for some serious moderation. 30 days, it can be done. Here are some of the things I have in mind to save some cash and get out of this bad cycle I’m in right now.

1. Cutting subscriptions and payments on frivolous things. $10 here and there adds up quickly, and yet I’m always a sucker for stuff that’s cheap because I trick myself into believing that a fun new iPad app is like going out to lunch. I’m also going to examine some of my monthly payments. I can easily cut back on my Netflix subscription.

2. Breakfast and lunch from home. I was totally rocking this lifestyle for a good long while, but somewhere in February I went off course. Strangely, the timing correlates with my diet. You would think that it would actually go hand in hand with dieting, but I have a hard time. If I’m doing one thing right, another thing slips. Sometimes I think I only have the capacity to handle one thing at a time. I have to overcome that.

3. Much like number two, we’ve got to stop eating out for dinner. We’re in a super bad place right now with ordering in for every meal, or ordering take out that we pick up. Somehow I’ve managed to lose weight while doing this, but there are many nights when I’m paying to feed the two of us and two kids and that just isn’t working out so well. This is going to require that I cook, and so I’ve got to get over the lazy factor.

Tonight I’m making this delicious looking pasta dish I found on Pinterest. Adding in some Italian Sausage for Mike, the total cost of this meal will be $15. Not the cheapest, but far cheaper than Carrabbas, which runs me like $50 every time I pick it up.

Baked Shells with Tomato and Mozzarella

Baked Shells with Tomato and Mazzarella from Big Girls Small Kitchen

4. Coupons and deals. As much as I hate the time it takes, I’m going to need to shop wiser in April. Random trips to the store to feed all four of us when we’re not ordering in is costing me an arm and a leg. Each day I’m faced with the same question from Mike, “what’s for dinner?” He’s an super-planner, but he also hates being the one to make the plan. He also requires perfection when it comes to his meals. If he has a bad food day, he gets very grumpy. Instead of meeting this daily challenge with rolling my eyes, I should embrace it and plan. On the cheap. In a healthy way. Wow this sounds hard. Maybe just maybe I can get him to help.

And that’s it. I really mean it when I say that I don’t live in major excess. The majority of my money goes to bills, then it’s food, then it’s little apps, new dollar books on my kindle, or songs. Somehow, someway I’ve got find some relief. Wish me luck!

Update on those pesky goals

Bad sister note. Marissa sent me this update to post to the blog awhile ago. She’s currently in New York City having a great time. Here’s her update…

Hi Friends. It’s been a hellish two weeks for me. I had a huge brief due at the beginning of last week and a mid-term on Friday. Anyway, here’s where I’m at with those pesky goals.

Money
I only bought lunch at the school once this week, which is pretty good! We did eat out a bit more than we wanted to for dinner. Jimmy Johns is just too good.

Exercise
I worked out four times this week, and three times the week before. I feel better getting back into the grove of the gym.

Eating health
Well, I don’t really know to be honest- which I guess isn’t good! I think I’ve been eating healthier, other than constantly craving sweets. Definitely some room for improvement in this are.

School
I had a hard couple weeks, but I am proud of the work I’ve done. I got everything done on the timeframe I wanted to, even though it meant some days of doing double the reading. I finished my brief with some extra time, which was certainly nice. I didn’t outline or anything, other than for my mid-term.

Domestic
This has been my biggest failing by far. My apartment is pretty clean, but solely thanks to Johnny :) I definitely need to be better at keeping stuff clean.

So that’s about all I have to report. My week goals are to eat in most of the days, so I don’t spend too much money before our trip to NYC. I also want to keep working out and get some outlining in since I’ll be gone for spring break. Wish me luck!.

Keep Me Honest

Long time no blog! It’s been a crazy two years! It’s been a productive few years too. Since my last blog, I’ve worked on a campaign and started law school. I also did quit smoking (yay!) and lost and kept off about 20 pounds. I’ve been doing the dishes and trying to stay organized. Despite these adult changes I’ve made to my life, I am having a hard time sticking to my good habits now that I’m back in school. For one, I have been sick for about three weeks now, meaning I haven’t gone to the gym in ages. Second, I’m geting those spring semester habits I had in undergrad where I slack off more with more sunshine. Third, my procrastination is at pretty much an all time high! So, I think I need this blog to keep me honest- and organized. I’d like to just map out a few goals I have, and the type of stuff I’d like to talk about on here.

Self health/personal

Below, I talk about about making time for domestic bliss. In general though, I need to find a better balance between being in law school and having a life outside of the law school. It’s important to keep hobbies, keep healthy, and be happy. These are my goals for that.

  • Exercise- pretty much a given. I’ve only worked out 3 times this year. Frankly, it’s not just about weight or health, it’s really about mental health too. It’s such a great stress relief and I feel so much better after going to the gym. Once I get over this cold, I want to go on a major health kick and really focus on my fitness.
  • Eating- As I say below, I eat out now all the time! This is bad on my wallet and my health. I need to eat healthier. More salads- less jimmy johns.
  • Wallet- I had a BAD month of spending. I went over budget and I am definitely paying the price now. Because I get a lump sum of money and give it to my self in monthly installments, if I spend all of my allotment I refuse to give myself money out of the next month’s allotment (I’m glad I’ve stuck to this habit). This was my first month since starting school of spending my monthly installment fully. That said, I have got to cool it with spending. Mostly, stop buying clothes all the time. Find other things that make me feel happy (like exercise) other than buying shoes. It seems silly, but it’s probably my biggest problem right now. I’m actually a shopoholic. Since starting school, it’s unfortunately (but also kind of fortunately because now I have a great wardrobe!) been my main stress release. When I’m shopping, I feel so incredibly happy. Everything is right in the world. I forget about my problems. This may be good for Urban Outfitters- but it’s so bad for my wallet! I live on a fixed income! I cannot afford to be doing this! So yes, big goal- reign in the spending.

Home

  • Cooking! I was so good about cooking last semester and last year! Now my cooking only consists on frozen pizza. Johnny and I made a goal of deciding on cooking one thing special per week and doing it.
  • Cleaning- no, I am not the cleanest person. Johnny and I are trying to weekly clean up our house.
  • Making time for domestic bliss- Being in law school is about an 80-hour per week job, but you have to find balance. I’d like to get more domesticated- like buster!

Law School

Me - the law school student

Being back in school as an adult is weird and very nerve wracking. I love it though! One of the things I’ve loved is that I am so much more committed to school than I used to be. I really do work as hard as I can, which is pretty much necessary in law school. I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve so far. I got pretty decent grades last semester, and I actually won a Scholastic Excellence Award. This only happened because of hours on end of studying and going the extra mile in all of my classes. This semester, however, I’ve began slacking off. Here are my specific goals for this semester:

  • Outlining early- Every law student can tell you of the horror and necessity of outlining, and doing it early. Last semester I got most of my outlining done in the few weeks leading up to reading week and during reading week. It was such a relief to get it done before finals time. This semester, my goal is to start outlining in March.
  • Doing Hypothetical Questions Early- Hypos are the key to law school. Last semester, I dedicated at least two days of my studying for each final to doing practice problems. This was extremely helpful, and made the exam taking experience a lot less stressful. This semester, I’d like to begin doing hypotheticals early so I don’t get rusty by final exam time.
  • Procrastination- The big one. I procrastinate so much. In fact, I began writing this blog because I didn’t want to start my sunday homework.
  • Organization- I’ve had a harder time staying organized this semester, which is not good. I need write everything in my calendar and make check lists.
  • Skipping class- I’ve now missed Torts and Property each twice. That means I pretty much cannot miss them again. I didn’t have a good excuse to miss them. They were undergrad me absences for sure. I know I don’t miss as often as other students, but I really don’t want to miss any more classes.

So I will try to keep you up to date with these goals. As for my day today, it will/must be productive. I’ve got reading to do (what’s new?) and I need to polish up my scholarship applications. See you on the more productive side of life, and thanks for reading!

In the Kitchen: Homemade Egg McMuffins

So maybe you haven’t heard, but Egg McMuffins are only 300 calories and highlighted in the “eat this, not that,” philosophy. Since Mike and I are exploring that a little bit more, he tuned into that real quick. Well, it still feels bad when you’re eating fast food, so I thought, I can make it myself at home. Sure enough, anyone can make these and truthfully it tastes even better and you can use higher quality ingredients, still at 300 calories each.

Homemade Egg McMuffin

Ingredients (no brainer really)

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 english muffin
  • 1 piece of pre-cooked Canadian bacon (usually found in packs by the hot dogs)
  • 1 slice of American cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Preparation
1. Poach an egg.

  • This is probably the most intimidating part, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it. There’s lots of ways to do this based on the equipment you have on hand. After a few attempts I’ve found that an egg cooker is the perfect device to mimic the true McDonalds taste of an Egg McMuffin. I bought have this one and I love it. If you have an egg cooker, use that to steam your egg following the instructions for that appliance.
  • If you don’t, that’s okay. I’ve done it without one and it’s just as fine and delicious. Use this recipe by Simply Recipes. I personally don’t like the vinegar so I never use it.
  • Finally, I like to use organic eggs. While it’s more expensive, I actually think it tastes a lot better. I always use eggs like that when I’m baking. Maybe I’m crazy, but it makes a difference.
2. While your egg is being poached, fry up the bacon!
  • Super simple. Just heat up a skillet on medium heat, and toss in a slice. Cook each side for about two minutes.  Canadian bacon is so lean and low in calories. It doesn’t leave behind a lot of grease and the likelihood of getting splattered and burned is so low.
3. Prepare your english muffin.
  • This is all up to you. If you want the true McDonalds experience, do nothing but open it up. If you want a little more crunch, which I like, toast it to your taste.
  • I’m using whole wheat muffins in the picture above.
4. Place your cheese.
  • At McDonalds they just throw on the whole slice. I like to take the slice and split it in half and put it on the top and bottom halves of the english muffin.
  • Think outside the box on the kind of cheese you want to use. We usually have White American cheese from our local deli on hand for sandwiches. I plan on switching over to that when we get some more.
5. Assemble the delicious breakfast sandwich.
  • Once your egg is poached to your liking, put it all together. Add some salt and pepper to the egg. And that’s it. If you’re going to travel with this, wrap them up in aluminum foil. We’ve been doing that each morning this past week and taking them to work. It travels well.
6. Instead of hashbrowns, go with fruit, and voila you have one great and pretty healthy breakfast.