I just calculated: For the month of July, I spent $36.47 on July 4th and $63.72 on July 19th for groceries. I am not saying that I’ve spent only $100 on FOOD for this whole month (although, if I had less of a social life I could probably get by only $150 – on weeks when I have finals/midterms I usually don’t meet up with friends or travel anywhere for that week, and only spend $25 total for food as my only expense for that week).
I also eat (fairly) healthily at home: I’m not saving money by only buying pasta or ramen or eating copious amounts of potatoes.
My eating out this month is fairly normal, perhaps a little higher than normal, because of many “networking” lunches (when I can’t bring my own food and instead go out to eat with someone all in the name of networking – woe!), the weather being much nicer, and people transitioning between jobs/grad school – so more reasons to meet up and eat out. I tend to not eat out unless I’m meeting someone (e.g. a celebration, catching up with acquaintance, someone’s in town to visit) or I’m out traveling (I always make an effort to eat local food since that’s a huge part of why I travel. Plus I cook so much at home, it’s nice to eat out when I’m not on vacation!). I very rarely pick up something on the way home to eat (like Chipotle) or order in, unless I’m VERY tired and have a lot of homework to catch up on – because to be honest, cooking does take up a decent amount of time and energy. Perhaps one day, when I’m..older…I will feel less obligation to eat out with friends to meet up with them.
SO. This is definitely one of the areas of spending I can control and not feel deprived – 1) because I enjoy being healthier b) I genuinely enjoy my own food 😛 c) When I’m not networking, I eat at my desk anyway // when I have to go home and do homework on some days, might as well be food I cooked myself. Below are some cost breakdowns and tips, and my common cost-saving, healthy(ish) meals.
Always do this so on days when you’re lazy, you still have something to eat! I tend to prepare a lot of food for both me and M on Sunday, and then cook once or twice a weeknight when I’m not terribly busy.
Know where your food is cheapest.
I go all the way across town (getting a workout in!) to Trader Joe’s for frozen vegetables, grains, cheese, and meat. I go to my local grocery store Fairway for eggs, milk, yogurt, bread, and canned goods. And then I go to fruit/vegetable trucks on the street for produce.
Have some sort of food schedule
To minimize headaches! I enjoy as much variety as possible, but I eat the same thing for breakfast almost every single day (overnight oats with chia seeds and fruit) to save time. Plus, it happens that oatmeal is one of the cheapest healthy foods out there!
Find easy recipes to save money, health, AND time.
*All Prices are NYC prices. All Recipes make 6-7 meals at a time.
- Beef Stew. 1 lb beef stew meat ($8), 1 chopped onion ($.89), 4 chopped carrots ($1), various spices, leftover red wine, 3 potatoes ($1?) = 1 large crockpot. Brown rice if needed ($1.25).
- Vegetarian or Turkey Chili. 3 cans beans (kidney, white, whatever = $3), 1 can crushed tomatoes ($1.99), handful of frozen corn or quinoa ($4) if vegetarian, 1 lb ground turkey if not vegetarian ($2.99).
- Spinach pasta bake. 1 bag gluten free rice pasta (or quinoa pasta – we almost never buy normal pasta) ($1.99)
- Vegetarian quesadillas.
- “Chicken and rice” bowls
- Turkey lasagna
- Chinese stir fry
- Quinoa salad with kale, feta cheese, tomato, cucumber, and firm tofu.
- Kale scramble with tofu, egg, and sweet potato.
- Slow cooker coconut curry lentils
- Chinese soy glazed ginger chicken
- Chicken or Vegetarian (Zucchini & black bean) tacos
- Broccoli salad
- Different variations of rice pasta meals (with loads of spinach, veggies, etc)
- White bean shakshuka
- Pad Thai