(4 minute read)
Food is fuel, no matter what way you slice it (pardon the pun), and it all costs money. You don’t eat “breakfast”? Well, let’s call this your first meal of the day 😉 Today and for the past 6 years I’ve been an organic food shopper who’s second home is Whole Foods or whatever the local farmer’s market is, however this hasn’t always been the case, and I still abide to a strict grocery budget in the spirit of not be wasteful with tossing food I don’t eat or spending money unnecessarily. Who wouldn’t rather splurge in other areas like travel! I’ve lived on many occasions within my grocery budget, and have significantly contracted that budget as well (never fun, especially for a foodie – but it can be done). When I say contracted, I mean by 75%.
Goal being: try your best to stretch your dollar, whilst keeping your choices healthy – AND creating a little variety.
GET CREATIVE WHEN YOU HAVE TO
An example with a point: In 2008 when the stock market was experiencing seriously volatile swings and I was relatively new to the industry (one year in), I somehow managed to time my income from being salaried to commissioned (earning 100% of what I make or don’t make with no guarantees) right when this whole “commissioned” income situation went from amazing to temporarily sour (temporary, as in months, not years). I had all ready (just) made a serious adjustment from making a 6 figure income, to an income that had been cut in half (switching industries & moving countries), and now that income was getting cut in half. Please pardon me as I marinate in first world adjustments (which I know are beyond minuscule when written down & said out loud). Add-in moved back to Canada from the U.S. one year prior with only the clothes on my back and my vehicle (yep, a big fat BMW payment once funded by a salaried vehicle allowance). No furniture, not one pillow, not one fork. It was a stage of purge and cleanse for the better.
My point: needless to say, the budget was monitored quite carefully. Eventually and fortunately, tightening up the grocery budget became an effortless & joyful way of life. You know – get savvy & competitive with yourself!
I remember it like it was yesterday. Google’ing “how to eat during a recession”. I can share with you how to do that, but – we’ll save it for another post. The theme in this one, is that you CAN eat for a minimal dollar spend, eat healthily, and eat variety (not just steel cut oats every day on end – although I still go through those phases). Many of us have our own relationship with food stories, just as we do money – and some of those are linked together.
Without further adieu, let’s crank these breakfasts out!
#1. Protein Brownie & seasonal fruit (featured above, which I am currently obsessed with). This is the most costly and decadent of them all, though it’s low cal, high protein, and ultra filling. Ingredients: 1 scoop of chocolate vegan Shakeology (my all time favorite superfood protein, which I can gladly hook you up with if you need help sourcing it), 1 egg, and a couple TBSP’s of H2O. Directions: microwave together for 2 minutes and top with whatever fruit is in season. What else would be good is to create a pool of almond mylk for this hot delicacy to soak in.
Cost breakdown: 1 egg $0.29 (based on Whole Foods pricing), 1 scoop protein powder ($4.30; true, on the high-side – but there is nothing like it), water (pennies), berries (picked up from the local farmer’s market, NOT the grocery store) a giant basket for $5.00. Going to say this handful cost 0.25. Total breakfast cost = $4.84
#2. Poached egg atop avocado smashed in to sourdough toast w/chilli peppers and a squeeze of lemon.
Cost breakdown: 2 eggs ($0.58), 1/2 avocado ($0.50), 1 slice of toast ($0.27). Squeeze of lemon & dash of chilli’s ($0.25). Total cost = $1.60
#3. Breakfast scramble (read: whatever is left over in the fridge). I.e. 1/4 sweet potato, left over bacon/hamburger meat/prawns/etc., 1/4 avocado, cube of feta cheese or small sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese, 4 kalamata olives, 1/4 cup cottage cheese.
Cost breakdown: 1/4 sweet potato ($0.25), 2 eggs ($0.58), left over “meat” ($1.00), 1/4 avocado ($0.25), cheese ($0.20), olives ($0.25), cottage cheese ($0.50). Total cost = $3.06
#4. Steel-cut oats, egg whites, chia seeds, hemp harts, 1/2 banana, glob of almond butter or Manuka honey (an anti-fungal)
Cost breakdown: steel cut oats ($0.10), 3 egg whites ($0.60), chia seeds & hemp harts ($0.25), 1/2 a banana ($0.15), almond butter ($0.20). Total cost = $1.30
Note: You can also turn this into a protein pancake quite easily with no adjustment in ingredients or cost 😉
#5. Hard-boiled egg, apple & cinnamon, slice of cheese, Bulletproof coffee (read: butter-coffee)
Cost breakdown: ($0.29), apple & cinnamon ($0.40), slice of cheese ($0.25), Bulletproof coffee ($1.50). Total cost: $2.44
#6. An omelette with whatever veggies/meat (or beans)/cheese is in the fridge.
Cost breakdown: 2 eggs ($0.58), meat or beans ($0.50), veggies ($0.50), cheese ($0.25). Total cost = $1.83
#7. VEGAN -FRIENDLY. Spicy baked or refried beans, 10 cashews, 1 apple, almond butter
Cost breakdown: beans ($0.50), nuts ($0.50), apple ($0.38), almond butter ($0.20). Total cost = $1.58
#8. Okay – this is a bonus one 😉 Left over pizza! Your fave kind. And yes, pizza can be “healthy”
Cost breakdown: joy, love, happiness, and likely about $2.00
- Keep your bread in the freezer and only take out slices as you need them to toast (so as not to let your bread get mouldy and you throw part of it – and your dollars, away.
- If you’re grabbing a delicious baguette, slice it up when you get home & put what you won’t eat right away into a zip lock bag – otherwise, since there are no preservatives in the baguette, it will turn to stone over night, and then be redered useful only to making croutons 😉
- Buy fruits & veggies that are in season
- If you have to choose on the organic front, refer to the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” in making your choices of what to buy organic vs what not to buy organic
- Buy steel cut oats in bulk to keep on hand in case you need them in a pinch
- Always use up what’s left over in the fridge before dashing to buy something else. Be creative. Uses spices and condiments (hot sauce)!
- Store fruits & veggies where they will keep fresh the longest (whether that’s at room temperature on the counter or in the fridge. I keep everything in the fridge).
- If you’re going organic, search to farmer’s market’s before hitting up grocery stores (usually a better bang for your buck).
- Don’t forget, it’s not the end of the world to eat the same thing twice.
Life is but a dream for only as long as we can support it financially, and it’s great to be frugal in the areas that you can – so that you can splurge in other areas that bring you joy. Tighten up the purse strings in the food department, and I say – you’ll be leaps and bounds better off 🙂