February 3, 2010 by Sarah S.
Or I could have titled this post: being robbed at gunpoint and enjoying every minute of it!
So, people, I checked out this site called Mint, where you basically plug in your $$ data and it creates these incredible graphs and spreadsheets and budgets, pretty much instantly, recognizes trends in your spending and gives you alerts and tips. I tinkered around with it yesterday. In a matter of minutes, and big ! appeared and informed me that in January I spent X amount of money on groceries, which was 55% more than in previous months!
After I finished hyperventilating, I looked into it more closely, and yes… most of that money was spent at Whole Foods. I basically spent 70% of my monthly budget on freakin’ food! Clearly that isn’t a sustainable habit, but believe it or not, I have learned how to spend less by smart shopping, and I think that knowledge will show itself on Mint at the end of February. I wanted to share those tips with you, because I know I’m always scanning blogs to find out how people afford all of those delicious eats!
First, and don’t throw tomatoes at me, but… Don’t do ALL your shopping at Whole Foods. I know it’s so tempting and if I had a sparkly big bank account, I so would do all of my shopping there, but let’s get real. I don’t. There are certain ingredients that Whole Foods has that I won’t find/purchase anywhere else. These include:
- Protein supplement powders
- Rice Cheeses
- Coconut Milk creamer
- Nutritional Yeast
- Grains bought in bulk
Why these? Well, because they are not available at my local Trader Joe’s. I’m very fortunate to have in my neighborhood both a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe’s, so I split up my shopping based on which ingredients are cheaper/better at the two stores. I always go to Trader Joe’s first though, and search for the following:
- Fresh produce
- Frozen Fruits
- Organic meat for HTB
- Almond Butter
- Almond Milk
- Canned beans
These products are remarkably cheaper at TJ’s. For example, Almond Butter at Whole Foods can run you close to $8. At TJ’s, I get it for $4.99. Ahhmazing. Their selection of fruits and vegetables, while always fresh and VERY cheap, is limited. They rarely have kale, and I need my kale. However, for avocados in season, they can’t be beat. You can get a baggie of 4-5 avos, organic, for $4.
Always make a list. My most dangerous grocery trips are the ones that are unscripted. By looking at my bank statements, I see that some weeks I was hitting the store 3-4 times a week to pick up ingredients for various recipes. That’s a no-no, because if you’re like me at all, you hit the WF for one thing and the next thing you know you’re sampling olives and buying $12 designer green tea. Oy.
Diana suggested to me making a weekly plan for recipes and then making your shopping list, that way you know you’re going to use up all the ingredients you purchase. That works well, and is clever. Also, you learn after a month or so, which ingredients you use a lot, and those become staples. For me, those staples are:
- Almond milk
- Instant Oats
- Frozen Fruit (for smoothies)
It’s also helpful to have an assortment of canned beans (chickpea, black, kidney) as well as canned organic tomato sauce. In a pinch, with staples like that, it’s easy to throw something yummy and nutritious together.
Ok, so that’s that.
Now, on to other things. How are my two weekly resolutions going? Kinda okay. Like I said yesterday, I woke up at 7:30am, which is still cool in my book, but this morning is off to a prickly start. I never considered how something can be both awesome and horrid at the same time, until this “morning” at 4:30am, when Sammy (one of my pupperonis) woke me up by jumping onto my chest and pawing at my face. He had to go potty. Like, right now, mom. So we went out, he did his business, and I couldn’t get back to sleep! While I so appreciate his care for my carpet, I had been sleeping so soundly! So I just sat there, with my mind rolling like a freight train (that’s how I got the name for this post, ’cause I had cash, money, ‘hos chanting in my head), annoyed as hell. I finally got back to sleep around 6:45… and when 7am rolled around, suffice to say I wasn’t about to get up. So I slept for another two hours and here I am. Sigh.
The Wedding Workout is going well. It’s not a piece of cake like I thought. I mean, it’s not necessarily hard to do, but sweet potatoes! my poor legs are killing me. I was literally hobbling around campus yesterday, and slowly l-o-w-e-r-i-n-g myself down into chairs. Legs again today. Guess who’s not crazy excited!?
The only thing I didn’t write down was my post-bed snack attack of granola and a little almond milk. I haven’t been eating the most creative dishes, but this:
Is delicious. I ate it twice yesterday and loved every minute of it. For my dinner portion, I added a scoop of organic sauerkraut. Yum.
Well, I’m off to slaughter my legs. I hope everyone has a great Hump Day!
And, fyi, it’s snowing again. I guess that darn groundhog was right… grrr…