Well, despite dropping lots of money for an end-of-the-month trip to Jamaica (or, perhaps, because of it), I typically live a frugal (does that sound better than “cheap-ass”?) lifestyle. This is no news to anyone who stops by here often, as I always have fun proving you can eat vegetarian/high protein/organic for not that much. So this week is another What I Ate Wednesday, Budget Edition–Complete with tips! I know most of these are pretty obvious, but they really add up (or, rather, don’t add up) fast.
Breakfast: Spinach-and-Egg Skillet
I remade Monday’s recipe–using frozen spinach instead of fresh.
Free eggs from my backyard chickens ($0.00). Frozen organic spinach ($0.37).
Tip: Get it fresh-est. If you can grow your own/raise your own/scavenge from those who do, do.
Tip: Get it frozen. Out of season (and even in season) fresh goods are expensive. Fresh conventional spinach? $4 for a bag that cooks down to 3 servings at most. Frozen and organic? $1.50 for 4-ish servings of the same thing.
Oatmeal ($0.07). Chocolate pea protein powder ($1.09). Hemp seeds ($0.69).
Tip: Buy in bulk. 10lbs of brand-name Quaker oats from Costco? $7.89. 1lb of the same oats from Publix? $4.58. That’s $.07 per serving versus $.42 for the same thing. Seriously.
Tip: Buy online. Non-perishables like protein powders, hemp seed, TVP, flax seeds, etc. can be found for ridiculously low prices on sites like Amazon or iHerb.com. Plus comparison shopping online is beyond easy.
TVP ($0.23), organic pumpkin puree ($0.32), sweet potato ($0.19).
Tip: Use it up! Have odds and ends hanging out in your fridge, freezer and cabinets? Clear it all out for an “everything goes” stew, chili or curry. I blended leftover baked sweet potatoes with the bottom of a can of pumpkin for this soup’s base. Added curry powder and a cabinet find–TVP. Bam! Soup.
Tip: Cook in bulk, save for later. Bulk is always cheaper. And easier! Make tons, freeze the rest, pull it out a few weeks later when it’s new and delicious again!
Dinner: Thanksgiving Reboot
Homemade burger ($0.50) topped with shredded and sauteed brussels ($0.40) and mashed up organic cranberries ($0.30).
You only get a prep photo. Because I was hungry. And it was good.
Tip: Eat against the grain. Brussels and cranberries? Insanely cheap right after the holidays!
Tip: Assemble your own. Premade veggie burger cost around $1.25 each, are often full of junk and don’t even taste all that great (Okay, okay–so I have a box or two of those in my freezer for lazy days, but you know…). A bag of organic beans? $2.25 for 10+ servings of beans (or 10 bean-based burgers!).
Dessert: Greek Bonanza Bowl
Organic Greek yogurt ($0.79), cinnamon and half a banana ($0.05).
Tip: Get it while it’s good. That yogurt? Manager’s special. Bananas? I buy the big cheap bags of almost-too-brown ones ($0.15 a pound!)–just peel, slice and freeze. Items on closeout/special/must sell now can almost always be frozen, if you aren’t going to eat them right away.
Tip: Choose your store. Obviously some chains are cheaper than others (*cough*WholeFoods*cough*), but my low-income-area Kroger consistently has cheaper fresh veggies and vegetarian products than the higher-end-area Krogers. Sometimes it pays to head to (or live in…) the rougher areas of town.
Grand total? Exactly $5.00!
And that’s with lots of organic options, protein powders and other high-end shing-ma-dings.
And for comparison, I asked my coworker what he spends on a meal. This morning it was $4.73 for breakfast alone–a not-that-great-for-you 4-piece Chick-Fil-A Chicken Minis and a Diet Coke.
What are some of your favorite tips for eating cheap and eating well?