I've always enjoyed cooking and whipped up many delicious meals for my family growing up. But once I was on my own, my cooking habits changed. I would cook a meal or two here and there, but as I grew older and my jobs were more stressful, I cooked less and less. Eventually, I got to the point where I didn't cook AT ALL.
Yes, you read that right. I ate every meal—breakfast, lunch and dinner—at a restaurant.
Not only did this expand my waistline, it ate up a lot of my discretionary income too. But I didn't care. I lived within my means. I had a 401k, a Roth IRA, stock options and no debt, so who cared how I used my money?
A Mindless Spender Learns A Costly Lesson
Giving myself a pat on my back for obviously being so money savvy, I continued eating my way through my paycheck for years. Now I am older and wiser and a little bit sick to my stomach from all the gluttony and ill-advised spending.
Somehow I had convinced myself that it didn't matter how much my food costs were as long as I didn't spend more money than I had in my checking account. And while I am incredibly grateful that I didn't create debt because of my poor eating habits, I wasn't making mindful choices either.
Often we shake our heads at those who live beyond their means, hoping some day they learn the joy of being debt-free. But just because you have no debt, doesn't mean you're spending your money wisely. I wasn't and I have proof. $840 worth of proof.
That's right. I spent approximately $840 a month on food.
$840 is more money than some families spend a month on food.
I am one person.
The Joy of Making Mindful Decisions
While I will always include dining out as a part of my budget because I love it, I cannot foresee a time when I will budget $840 a month to eat out. Sometimes I dream about all the other things I could have done with that money. Even if I had cut that amount in half, which is still a generous amount, I could have done or had things that I couldn't afford because I spent all my money on food.
I was committed to not going into debt but simply never took the time to make sure I was spending my money wisely.
These days I budget and think through my purchases beforehand. Because food is one of my passions (after all I am food blogger), my food budget is probably going to be higher than average. I'm okay with this because I also don't allow it to go out of control and prevent me from enjoying other things that matter to me. I spend mindfully and hope you do too.
Shrek Smoothie or Fruity Green Smoothie
I won't lie—breakfast is my favorite meal to eat out. Sausage Egg McMuffin—delicious! Platter-sized pancakes at a Mom and Pop restaurant—pass me the syrup!
It doesn't matter; I love breakfast!
Now I make my own big, fancy breakfast on the weekends and typically enjoy smoothies during the week.
They only take minutes to make, are good for you and most importantly—are affordable!
- 3/4 cup frozen strawberries
- 1/2 orange, juiced (I use the pulp but your choice)
- 1/2 frozen banana, sliced
- 1-2 cups baby spinach, rinsed
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
In a blender, add the almond milk and baby spinach. Blend until smooth. Add strawberries, orange juice and banana. Blend until smooth. Makes 1 big smoothie.
I proudly own a wimpy blender, so I need to blend the spinach with the liquid first. If you have a more powerful blender, you can blend everything together at once.
Also, I suggest starting with 1 cup of spinach leaves and increase the amount as you become more comfortable drinking spinach. :) If your kids give you pushback, tell them it's a Shrek smoothie. They will be more inclined to try it and find it to be sweet and delicious, which I'm guessing is NOT how Shrek tastes.
Tanya is a freelance writer and web designer. She blogs at Eat Laugh Purr where she enjoys simple pleasures every day. Her life is ruled by a ginger tabby named Max who also meows about his awesomeness on their blog.