After back to school shopping for clothes and accessories, my next favorite part is grocery shopping. Maybe it's just me but going to the supermarket is always my favorite thing on the to-do list. I love cooking so getting to select the best ingredients for whatever I plan on making makes me happy. When you have a small space, trying to find easy and healthy meal options while staying under budget can feel almost impossible. You probably think it's easier to spend a few bucks on a slice of pizza or fast food instead of making real meals but it's all about how you prepare. There are ways to stretch your dollar and keep your tummy full and I got you covered with the tips on doing so!
You should get used to going to the store with a budget. It probably won't stick the first few times but as you get used to shopping on a regular basis you'll figure out how much you're spending. My grocery list is usually a mix of the same things. Last semester, I would buy in bulk in hopes of not having to make another trip but being that the bulk of my shopping was produce, a lot of my veggies went bad before I had a chance to use them. Now, I have a better hang of when to buy things and how much I need. I like the idea of shopping by meal so that's how I'll break it down.
My go-to breakfast almost always consists of eggs. They're quick, easy, and tasty...what else do I need? Of course, too much of anything is a bad idea so I forced myself to find some balance.
My breakfast foods:
- organic brown eggs
- shredded mixed cheese- cheddar and jack
- turkey bacon
- orange juice
- 1 minute Quaker oats
- almond milk
- bread or english muffins
If I need to take breakfast on the go, I pull out the Nutribullet. I throw whatever fruit and veggies I have in with either water or almond milk and voila. It's almost always a blend of spinach, kale, green apples, blueberries, bananas. I get strawberries and mangoes on occasion so if I have them around, they get thrown in there too.
Sitting in class on an empty stomach is the number one way for me to be as grumpy as possible. I have two three hour lectures this semester so my bag will definitely be filled with things to munch on. I hate smelling food in class so I won't be that guy who pulls out barbecue chips. As for portable snacks, apples and granola bars are my go to. I'm picky with nuts but Blue Diamond makes these AMAAAZING dark chocolate roasted almonds .they're my weakness. I get granola bars in bulk from Costco or Sam's club and they last for months. Fruit will have to be bought more frequently. Dark chocolate and Ben & Jerry's seem to make there way into my shopping cart too..I'm not proud of it.
- Blue Diamond almonds
- Gala or Fuji apples
- Belvita Soft Baked- oats and chocolate or cinnamon
- Kashi dark chocolate and coconut layered granola bars
Lunch and Dinner
My lunch is usually leftovers of the night before. I don't cook everyday even if I'd like to. I tried meal prepping and making enough food for the week but leftovers that long are boring. I cook almost every other day and make enough to last a few days. That way I can pick between leftovers and I'm not stuck eating the same thing for five days.
Picking produce can't really be planned because I base it on appearance and what's in season. I always have onions and garlic in the fridge. Sometimes I'll grab a bag of baby carrots but I never finish them so I only get them if they'll serve a purpose, like for a recipe.
My dinner staples are:
- ground turkey
- Hilshire Farm's turkey kielbasa
- organic chicken breast*
- organic chicken drumsticks
- spring mix (baby spinach and kale)
- brown rice*
- pasta sauce
- black beans
- Bird's eye steamed vegetables
- sweet potato
*bought in bulk at Costco
Ground turkey is my new favorite thing. I underestimated it but with browning it with garlic, onions, and peppers makes dinner so easy. You can pair it brown rice, add beans and make burritos, or mix it with sauce over pasta. So many options. Drumsticks are so cheap, I had no idea! You can get a pound for under three bucks. I usually end up with six legs for $3..pair 2 drumsticks with a potato and some broccoli and you have about three meals. I grew up in a Haitian household so rice and beans is always a go. I get the canned beans for convenience. Make some rice with it and saute chicken breast and you've got yourself another easy meal in under thirty minutes. My blend of spring mix is pretty versatile. I saute them with onions and garlic and have it with rice or make a salad topped with grilled chicken, croutons and salad dressing.
Having good food shouldn't be super expensive or take up a lot of your time. Share some of your grocery list staples and meal ideas with us in the comments!
Image: Ryan McGuire