Healthy Grocery Shopping on a Budget

New Years Resolutions…Such a divisive topic. Around the first of the year in 2013, I set myself a few Fitness Goals for the year and checked in occasionally (see my last check-in in September here) to see how I was doing. Having a blog and stating my “resolutions” publicly for the internet to see definitely made me more likely to hold myself accountable.

If you read my About Me, you’ll see that I call myself a 20-something on a budget. When I wrote that, I basically figured that since I didn’t make much money, and didn’t spend a ton each month, I considered myself to be living “on a budget”.

Welp, it may not have been before, but that’s about to become literal, folks.

Next week, I start a paid internship, and although it is exactly the job duties and experience that I’m looking for, it pays a little less than I’m used to making. 1/3 less, to be exact…and teetering close to California’s minimum wage. So instead of fitness goals, I’m resolving to establish a monthly budget for myself – and actually follow it!

Because I don’t own a car, I don’t have to worry about a lot of the costs associated with a vehicle, like gas/insurance/parking/repairs. Our rent is on the pricey side for Midtown Sacramento, but my roommate and I are pretty frugal when it comes to utilities and internet bills.

The budget about which I am going to have to be more wise from here on out is my food budget. (OK, and no more shopping sprees on my Macy’s Credit Card…)

I constantly hear that eating healthy is not only more time consuming, but also more expensive than just relying on fast food or pre-packaged/processed meals. I’m here to prove that while the first half might be true, it is absolutely doable to eat healthy on a budget! Here is the monthly food budget that I’ve established for myself:

foodbudgetMy average monthly food spending in 2013 (including groceries, bars, and restaurants) was about $425, with almost 1/4 of that being spent in bars each month. (Thanks, dodgeball)

I’m hoping to spend $15/week at the Farmer’s Market and $15/week at the grocery store. I rarely spend more than $20 at the Farmer’s Market, and the only times I’ve gotten close were when I’ve bought flowers (#TreatYoSelf!). If I do most of my shopping at Grocery Outlet and use coupons at Safeway, that will be plenty. An extra bit of miscellaneous spending money in case I run out of anything during the week or want to treat myself to a bottle of wine or nail polish from CVS will provide a safety net. (again…#TreatYoSelf)

Going out is another area where I can save a lot of money. I will be limiting myself to $10/week at the dodgeball bar (which is actually almost 3 drinks + tip!) that I frequent twice a week, and $10/week to spend on other evening activities, such as other bars, movies, ice skating, etc.

Finally, I am limiting myself to $20/week in eating out expenses. This is actually a generous allowance, since I don’t eat out often.

You’ll notice there’s not a lot of extra money allowed for alcohol. That was no accident…I’m just trying to follow through on improving my lifestyle for maximum Half Marathon success!

Now…for this week’s groceries.

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Before I go into what I bought, let me tell you what I already had in my fridge & pantry. I was pretty low on perishable goods, since we were gone to Oregon for 4 days.

ALREADY HAD:

1/2 bunch kale
1/2 head broccoli
tub of farmer’s market salsa
pasta
onions
quinoa
old fashioned oats
candy/chocolate/etc leftover from christmas
half a dozen protein bars
chocolate peanut butter spread
crackers
a few wedges of Laughing Cow cream cheese
frozen tilapia filets
frozen fruit
most other pantry staples (garlic, ginger, oil, vinegar, butter, etc)

Here’s what I bought:

foodbudgetweek1DSC_0965

How epic is that 2 lb bucket of hummus for just $2.58?! Thank youuuu Grocery Outlet! Unfortunately it expired yesterday, lol, so I’ve gotta eat it fast!

Since I have enough bread and beans to last me for a couple of weeks, next week I’ll probably stock up on tortillas and almond milk instead. It’s all about divvying up the staples between grocery trips!

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And to finish, here are some ideas of meals I will be eating with these groceries and what I already had:

Breakfast

Toast with hummus or Laughing Cow wedges or chocolate PB
Eggs and cheese (with or without toast)
Breakfast nachos
Oatmeal with frozen fruit
Toast with eggs

Lunch

Stir fry (brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower) and toast
Salsa, eggs & stir fry veggies
Grilled cheese sandwich

Snacks

Protein shakes with frozen fruit
Chips and salsa
Hummus and chips/crackers
Cheese and crackers

Dinner

Tilapia with sauteed greens
Cauliflower soup
Black bean soup
Moar stir fry (it’s my fave)
Roasted acorn squash stew

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Now if I could just tackle the whole “it takes too long to cook and eat healthy” part… Looks like I am going to get back into the Sunday Food Prep routine come next week!

Would you be able to live on $30/week for groceries? (Assuming you’d only be shopping for yourself)

I already asked this yesterday, but how do you keep track of your budget? I downloaded Pocket Expense to use for now, but have heard good things about Mint as well.

New Years & Weekend in Photos

Hello all and happy (belated) new year!

I celebrated on the Oregon coast with my roommate and 6 of our friends at her family’s cabin. Here are a couple of my favorite snapshots:

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oceanyoga lakegroup

Unfortunately, during our canoe trip pictured above, I took an unexpected dip into the river with my iPhone in my pocket. Oops. Luckily I had my iPad to capture a few precious moments from the trip for the 3 days that followed!

After 4 days with my phone in a bucket of rice, the verdict was in and my phone was dead. Lesson learned – bring a plastic bag next time!

Don’t worry though, I’m back in action now 😉

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Just in time for a dodgeball selfie. #typical

Here’s what I was up to this weekend:

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On Friday, I spent the afternoon with my mom and her best friend/college roommate Linda, who made it out of New York just before the big storm. We had an awesome photoshoot at the Sacramento City Cemetery, where we draped ourselves in shiny fabrics and posed with statues. No big deal. See more of Linda’s photos from the day at her blog Journal Your Journey, where she plans to document pictures of her doing yoga poses throughout her post-retirement travels!

We grabbed a bite to eat afterward at Tower Cafe, where Linda helped me food style my lunch 😉

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On Friday night, I went ice skating with friends at the downtown rink. It was crowded and the ice was choppy, but it was super fun! Even if 4/5 of us fell 😉

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I was nervous that I would be too sore from ice skating to run the next morning. I definitely was feeling it (especially my butt, since I fell right on it!), but not enough to keep me away from my 8 mile run! I even made it to the Farmers Market afterward 🙂

Eating pizza and nachos and drinking a beer the night before probably didn’t help my pace… This was a good 10-15 seconds/mile slower than my usual long runs. But I ran on the hilly half marathon course again and it went really well. The fact that I’m already at 8 miles a whole 10 weeks before my half marathon has me feeling very confident!

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Last night, I took it easy – caught up on some of the most recent season of Homeland (only 2 episodes left!), did my nails, and put green stuff on my face. Typical girly Saturday night in.

Today I have been laying low and am currently streaming the 49ers game on my computer… On deck for this evening is dinner and board games, followed by T-Shirt pick up for the next season of Sunday dodgeball! Apparently the fun never ends around here.

This post is coming to you on Sunday rather than Monday this week, because I have another post planned for tomorrow. My main New Years Resolution this year has to do with living on a tighter budget than I’m used to – my new job is full time, but only pays $10/hour. The next 6 months will be an interesting test in self control and cutting back! Check back tomorrow for more 🙂

Where did you go or what did you do for New Years Eve?

Do you set yourself a budget each month? If so, do you use an app or website?

Found in 2011: Work, love, adventure

If you had asked me on June 13th, 2010 (Graduation Day) where I thought I’d be at the beginning of 2012, the answer would not have likely been “working at a lobbying firm, splitting most of my time between my parents’ house and the apartment of my boyfriend who I met playing dodgeball.”

My answer would have probably been to the tune of, “going to grad school in Europe after a year of living in Washington DC working at a trendy nonprofit while doing freelance writing for a political website.”

But when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, as they say. My lemons came in the form of graduating from college in the worst economic climate of my lifetime, moving home to Sacramento (one of the worst job markets in the state), and being forced to abandon those unrealistic dreams listed above.

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New Year, New Job Search

For me, a clean room means visible carpet and a bed with *minimal* clutter.

Well…my room is “clean”, Food Network is turned off, I just spent 30 minutes Googling myself in a last ditch effort to procrastinate, but I no longer have an excuse to delay.  If I ever expect to hear a positive response from a job inquiry, I need to not only set goals for myself, but also make plans.  So here goes nothing.

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My Resolution: To Make a Resolution…Eventually.

Ever since I realized they’re usually forgotten after January, I have never really been one to make New Years resolutions.

I tend to agree with those who think that January 1st serves as an excuse for people to make promises they won’t follow up on.  Why choose New Years?  Why not constantly set goals and evaluate your life year-round?  That being said, I’ve also found myself, for the first time ever, rather disappointed with the way this year has panned out for me.  This time last year, I imagined that I would be living in Washington DC (or at least San Francisco) with an awesome job by now.  Instead, I’m now writing to you from my childhood bedroom in my parents’ house, jobless and stagnant.  Now, more than ever, seems like the time to figure out the direction I want my life to take.

SO, I was going to write an insightful and reflective “New Years Resolution” post, but I now realize that writing blogs has turned into the new “writing papers” for me, in that I can’t do it while my room is a chaotic mess.  So until my mess of a room (and the mess of thoughts in my head) gets a little more organized, I decided instead to compile a rather short New Year playlist (with the help of iTunes Genius).  Enjoy the songs that will hopefully inspire me in 2011.

Florence + The Machine – Dog Days Are Over
Lily Allen – 22
Vampire Weekend – A-Punk
The Kooks – Always Where I Need To Be
WHY? – Rubber Traits
The Arcade Fire – Rebellion (Lies)
The Killers – Smile Like You Mean It
Metric – Gimme Sympathy
Regina Spektor – Better
Matisyahu – King Without A Crown (Live)
The Beatles – Hey Jude