Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What suffers the most when your cash flow is low?

For me, it's my eating. Lately, I've been going through this cycle over and over again: I buy about $50 worth of groceries, I eat them all until it's gone, I get sick of eating the same four or five meals over and over (50 bucks doesn't stretch too far), I can't afford more groceries until the next paycheck comes—who knows when that will be—so I grab a slice of pizza for dinner more times in a week than a I should. Why? Because it's cheap. And somewhat satisfying. I get sick of Subway sandwiches because I'm eating them for lunch and dinner (Hello, $5 Footlong!) I don't know how Jared does it. By now I'm tired of everything, nothing tastes good, so I "cheat." With money I should be spending on eggs, milk, cereal and metro cards. Skim lattes, trips to Tasti-D-Lite, Pop Chips, PB & chocolate chips from the Puppy Chow I made last week, more pizza, more, more, more anything that tastes good. Even if it only makes me happy for a second. Crash, burn, I'm depressed, why can't I be healthy? Why? Why? WHY?!

I genuinely like eating and learning about healthy foods, but because of my money sitch, it's hard for me to really stay on track with it and make it a lifestyle. Last week I bought a roasted chicken to see how many meals I could make with it. I made a sandwich, rice and beans, a stir fry, more rice, more beans, veggies, ick I'm sick of chicken! 

I'm probably just making excuses for myself. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who cook great meals and really know how to make their groceries last. Maybe I'm just a lazy asshole. I get so envious of food/health bloggers though. Their reality is whole wheat pancakes, oatmeal with five different toppings, homemade soups and smoothies, blue corn tacos filled with black beans and yumminess, pumpkin muffins, huge salads, organic cereals, and the list goes on. It's not to say that I can't afford to make ANY of these things, but I'd only be able to afford the ingredients for one or two of them in a week. I refuse to believe that any of these bloggers spend less than $80 a WEEK on food. I could be wrong. I hope I am. 

Anyway, I need to stop focusing on what other people have. Obviously, it's not helping, and jealousy is not a good look for me. It is hard though not being bitter and blaming everything on money, but the only way I will ever find a solution is to keep moving forward and think positively. 

So tell me: What suffers the most when your cash flow is low? And does anyone have tips for me on how to eat healthfully on a budget? Without eating the same things over and over? 


  1. Do you have a veggies base that you CAN eat repeatedly? Like salad or brussel sprouts. If you do...buy that and roast in bulk. For protein get a few cheap options and rotate like canned tuna,chicken and maybe lean steak?
    What about oatmeal for breaky? You can change the toppings alot and change the flavor.

    I hope that helps..I have eaten the same thing for years and love it


  2. For me, it's my hair. When I'm broke, I let waaaaay too much time pass between highlight touch-ups and getting my bangs trimmed and all of that. I'm overdue for a salon trip right now -- I think it's been four months?! Eek.

    Foodwise, I've gotten obsessed with slow cooking -- G got a Crock-Pot for Christmas and I've commandeered it. It's easier than "real" cooking, and it winds up being cheaper because you can buy inexpensive cuts of meat and dirt-cheap ingredients like brown sugar, organic ketchup, Cambell's soup, soy sauce, or Coke to make the sauces. Love it!

  3. barbara, I could totally eat brussel sprouts every day, I love 'em! same with kale and sweet potatoes...

    and speaking of sweet potatoes, Ellen, here's a great, cheap, super healthy recipe:
    - chop a sweet potato (or 2 or 3) into bitesize chunks
    - put them in a Pyrex, drizzle with a teeny bit of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, roast 'em on 400 for like 30-40 minutes, turning once halfway through
    - open a can of black beans (I use organic to avoid the insane amount of sodium in canned beans and it's only a few cents more) and rinse them in a colander
    - heat the black beans in a skillet with some minced garlic or garlic powder (only a little bit is needed) and turn off heat after a few minutes
    - when the sweet potatoes are nice and roasty, transfer them to a serving dish and top with half or all of the black beans
    - squeeze the juice of 1/2 a large lime over the whole dish and gently turn the beans in with the sweet potatoes
    - sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and Pico de Gallo seasoning (easy to find in little mexi-marts!)
    - EAT IT!

    it's kinda cuban-y inspired and it's so filling and yummy. I actually prefer it room temperature as opposed to hot. you can eat it over rice if you want, or I eat it over a bed of kale.

  4. MLA, that recipe sounds delish!!! I love sweet potatoes! And black beans AND I have a lot of those ingredients already, double score! Thnx :) I'll give it a try and let u know how it is. Ohh and I've never even TRIED brussel sprouts (always assumed I wouldn't like them). How do you cook 'em?

    Barbara, I do have a few veggies I could eat all the time: green beans, broccoli, corn, sweet potatoes...I like the idea of cooking them in bulk. I usually make a litlte at a time and then forget I have something in my fridge, and by the time I want to eat it again, it goes bad. Hate that!

    I feel ya, Kara. I'm approaching 3 months without a haircut and my split ends are looking pretty gnarly at the moment! And yes, I used to cook more with a crock pot...need to get back on it!

  5. I tend to find comfort in routine and that includes my foods. So I tend to eat the same thing over and over anyway! Ugh...I'm sorry you are having a bad day!!

  6. Nick and I spend between $60-$80 a week on groceries (including wine for my drunkass) so you are right, food is pricey. But I promise you it is so much better to make your own food.

    Try to get a Cooking Light cookbook or something similar. There are cookbooks for cooking light on a budget or with only a few ingredients. You end up with leftovers that taste good for days to come - like spinach lasagna, meatloaf, etc. And I second the crock-pot suggestions.

    Also - get some Tony Cachere's or Tabasco sauce to make your chicken taste more interesting. http://www.tonychachere.com/

  7. Trader JOES! It's worth the wait in line. I get the extra-large box of Puffins cereal for $3.79, rather than the small one for the same price at Whole Foods.

    And sometimes I am lame and print grocery coupons. I'm THAT girl in the grocery line that gets the dirty looks from the customers waiting behind me.

  8. I've found the easiest way to eat inexpensively is to buy & cook in bulk. Every Sunday I cook a big casserole or soup and then freeze the leftovers. This past Sunday I made vegetable soup. We ate it for supper and then I portioned the leftovers in ziploc bags & stacked them in the freezer. I've done the math before and I've ended up spending as little as $0.75 per meal. For casseroles, I put them in little dishes and cook one and then freeze the rest.

  9. Shannon, I like the idea of something as simple as a sauce adding to the dish. I think that's part of my problem, I'm not the best cook in the world, so a lot of time, my food tastes a bit bland, which leads me to feeling unsatisfied, which THEN leads me to Subway the next day bc I just don't want to deal.

    Kelly, Trader Joes is far from my apartment, but I'm starting to think it just may be worth the trek!!

    Rachel, yeah, I have heard that the healthiest people cook in bulk on Sunday, therefore you have a plan for the rest of the week and are less likely to stray. It's obviously much more wallet-friendly too...I need to stop my griping and get ON IT!!! Thanks, guys!