Category Archives: Administrative

Walmart Grocery To Go – Part 2

 

This is part two of my experience with the Walmart Grocery To Go service.

This second order was in anticipation of a birthday party. My boyfriend got lucky, our birthdays are exactly one day apart. No excuse for forgetting my birthday, ever.

So we were both at home in our respective states for the holidays, meaning we did not get to celebrate our birthdays together. We decided when we got back we would throw a joint party for all our friends to come hang out and tell stories of their holidays too. This would be the first time we all saw each other in about a month.

I had placed the order a few days ahead of time, and set the delivery for between 6-8PM on Thursday. We had dinner, watched a movie. It was 6:30… 7:30… 8… 8:30… 9. I called the customer service line to figure out what was going on. The representative was refreshingly helpful and kind, he really was awesome. If only all customer service was like this.

However, what he found out was that the location I had ordered from was running four hours behind, and no one could contact the driver of the delivery truck, though my order was apparently already loaded onto the truck.

My order might not be delivered until after 1am… do I still want it? Ummm… no! I’m not staying up way past midnight when I have to wake up the next day at 5:30AM for work.

So I thought he cancelled it, yet I still got a call from someone around 11, who left me a voicemail telling me the same thing, my order will be delivered around 1am, do I still want it?

No.

However, there were no delivery times available the next day, which was the planned day of the party. I could go pick up the order at the store after noon, did I want to do that?

No, thank you.

The whole point of delivery, is that it is delivered. I don’t have to drive a half hour and go into the store to pick it up then load it into my car, drive home, and unload it all.

Needless to say, I was frustrated.

However, three of the people we invited had other things happening that weekend anyways, so we moved the party date to the following weekend. Good news for Walmart I guess.

So I rescheduled the delivery. And as a bonus for having messed up, they increased my budget a little and gave me free delivery again. Something is better than nothing I suppose. Now the delivery was set for the following Thursday night, same time, 6-8PM.

Thankfully, this one showed up on time, right around 6:45.

IMG_7746

I had decided to go with an Asian theme for dinner. I stocked up on some stir-fry noodles, teriyaki sauce, fresh veggies and chicken, sweet & sour sauce, and egg rolls. I already have some chop sticks I bought forever ago, so I busted those out too.

There was one item out of stock (the bok choi for stir fry) and a substitution of Lays brand dip for the Walmart Great Value brand. That wasn’t a problem, because the substituted brand was actually more expensive, but they do not charge you the difference.

IMG_7750

Then for the “party” portion after dinner, I got several types of chips and French onion dip. A few cans of chickpeas and a can of tahini so that I can make my own hummus. Several party size bags of white cheddar popcorn (pretty sure the “white” part is crack. Cause for real, I can eat an entire bag in a day), and jelly beans.

IMG_7749

In terms of the rest of the party experience, I also decided to get some “Island Fresh” Febreze so my house smells pretty, as well as Suave clinical strength deodorant, so I smell pretty too! And bonus for those readers over 21, beer is an option on Walmart Grocery. Count me in for a 24-pack of the 16 oz cans of Budweiser. For after the party, I got a gigantic bottle of lemon scented Cascade, to make dish clean-up easy breezy.

On to the cooking!

Chicken Teriyaki Stir Fry

IMG_7773

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes Thai stir fry noodles
  • 2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
  • 1 cup julienned bell peppers
  • 2 cups broccoli/cauliflower
  • 1 cup shredded spinach
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 small bottle teriyaki sauce (or make your own)
  • 3-4 pounds chicken breast strips
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch or flour to thicken sauce
  • Sriracha or hot sauce, to taste
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil

IMG_7760

Step 1: Bring a pot of water to a boil, and boil your noodles 7-9 minutes. In a large frying pan or wok, heat the coconut oil. Add the peppers, broccoli, and/or cauliflower and cook 5-6 minutes, covered. Then add the spinach, cabbage, and any spices/hot sauce. Cook another few minutes, until all veggies are soft.

IMG_7762

Step 2: Either in a separate pan, or remove the veggies and keep warm, cook the chicken strips 8-10 minutes both sides, until no longer pink in the center. Pour on the terikayi sauce, heat to simmering. Add the cornstarch and whisk to combine. Cook until sauce thickens. Combine with veggies.

Step 3: Strain the noodles, and add to the pan. Mix everything well, and heat through.

IMG_7765

We had a lovely dinner together, sharing stories and catching up. The stir fry was a hit! The teriyaki sauce is delicious but thinner than I thought. I added some cornstarch to thicken it up and it worked like a charm.

Homemade Hummus

IMG_7759

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, depending on taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons warm water
  • Dash of ground paprika for serving

Optional: black or red pepper, roasted red peppers, dill, cilantro, parsley, cooked edamame, roasted beets

IMG_7756

Step 1: Add the tahini and lemon juice to a food processor or blender, and blend on high for at least 1 minute, up to 10. According to this recipe from Inspired Taste, this makes all the difference in a smooth, store-bought-like consistency.

Step 2: Open the can of garbanzos, and put in a colander. Run cold water over them for several minutes to remove any toxins & excess sodium. If you wish, add to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 2-3 minutes to soften them. Then add to the tahini paste and blend another 4-5 minutes.

IMG_7757

Step 3: Add the garlic cloves, olive oil, and sea salt to taste, along with any other desired ingredients. If you don’t have tahini, try peanut butter or almond butter. You can use whatever spices sound good to you. Roast some beets and add them for a shocking pink hummus or a cup of cooked edamame for a delicate green boost of protein and fiber. Get crazy!

Step 4: Blend everything well until the desired consistency, adding a few tbsp water if needed. Use a spatula to pour into a bowl, and garnish with some olive oil, a dash of paprika, and/or some fresh herbs. Enjoy alone, on sandwiches, or with fresh crudités.

IMG_7789

Several games were gifted to us during the holidays, one of which is always a huge hit at parties: Cards Against Humanity. With game-play much like Apples to Apples but with a much more… “mature” card content, our group of friends loved it.

If your friends (and you) like intricate games with a lot of thought and strategy, you might want to look into Betrayal at House on the Hill.  In this game, you are a band of brave explorers who find a haunted house. You go through the house discovering new rooms. Based on the rooms you find, different events can happen.

IMG_7788

At some point during the game, “the Haunting” is triggered. The game decides who becomes the Traitor, who must now try to accomplish their goal to the detriment of their former friends, whilst the Heroes now try to defeat them first.

With 50 different unique stories, and endless unpredictable variations, this game will keep us entertained for a long time to come!

One whole bag of the white cheddar popcorn disappeared within the first two hours, and the homemade hummus was way better than even the freshest deli purchased tub. No one commented on the Island scent, but no one said it smelled bad either, so that’s a win. And the lemon Cascade works great for clean dishes with no streaks, and just a hint of lemon scent.

All in all, this delivery was far more trouble and frustration, though it worked out in the end. If I had this planned for an event that actually happened the day it was planned and my delivery just didn’t show up until after midnight, I would be extremely displeased. They did try to make it right after the fact, but we are at 50% (one of two deliveries were positive experiences).

One more delivery remains, so stay tuned!

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Top Dozen Recipes of 2014

 

Hope all of you are off to a great start for 2015!

If you are among those making health-based resolutions, congratulations! I sincerely hope you are choosing to make positive lifestyle changes for yourself, and see them through. If you want ideas here are a few that can truly change your life for the better:

  • Drink more water – 1 8oz glass every hour if you can
  • Eat more vegetables – have a salad or soup pre-meal, add frozen veggies into soups or casseroles
  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night – go to bed 15 minutes earlier every day until it happens
  • Move more – exercise, go for a walk, do household chores
  • Cook at home – as often as possible!

In looking back on 2014, I have been very blessed. So many good memories with family and friends. Leaving academia for full time work in a clinic. Blogging successes. Kitchen successes, and failures. Moving, a birthday, adopting two puppies. Quite the year! And I am hoping that 2015 will be even better.

Also, looking back at last year’s resolutions, I did quite well on keeping most of them. Except the working out three times per week. This is the most common struggle, tied with eating healthier. So that is the goal I will focus on most this year.

In honor of the ending of one year and beginning of a new one, I put together the best recipe from each month in a top dozen recipes for 2014. Revisit some favorites and discover new ones! May 2015 be brighter, happier, and healthier than ever.

JanuaryCinnamon Raisin Soft Pretzels

These warm, chewy pretzels have the perfect harmony of cinnamon and raisins, coupled with a sticky sweet glaze. Perfect during cold winter nights, date nights, or any time.

FebruaryRed Velvet PokeBall Cupcakes

For a birthday party or a Valentine’s Day surprise for your nerdy love, these cannot be beat in wow and cuteness factor.

MarchFruit-Filled Banana Bread

As a quick breakfast or on-the-go snack, this bread is delightful. Moist and delicious, it is packed with several servings of fruit from blueberries, blackberries, and bananas. You can amp it up even further by using applesauce instead of eggs and/or butter.

April Ethiopian Series

In this series I shared recipes I made for an Ethiopian dinner party, including beef, pork, chicken, fish, greens, potatoes, lentils, cheese, and that addictively different bread, injera!

MayMeal Planning Made Easy

Meal Planning Made Easy

This was a tough call, since May had several stellar posts! May is also when the Budget Epicurean moved over to WordPress from Google and got its own home. But the most popular post was definitely the meal planning post. It is what got me invited onto the podcast “Stacking Benjamins” to talk about how meal planning can be so easy, and improve your finances so much.

JuneTaste of Austin

IMG_1438

In this two-post series I shared eight different food locales I visited on a trip to Austin, TX. From taco trucks to the fanciest waterside restaurant, Austin has so much to offer in foodie culture. June was also a successful month for blogging, as I was invited to enter a strawberry shortcake baking competition (which I sadly did not win), and a post about iced coffee netted me a business relationship with Keurig.

JulyLemon Pollock with Olive Tapenade

IMG_2686

This super-quick salty topping is perfect on any kind of fish, or as a bruschetta like topping on crusty bread. I bet you can come up with more uses too. I also got to take a nice vacation in July, which we all need from time to time.

AugustMediterranean Stuffed Mushroom Caps

IMG_3628

These little guys are perfect party appetizers, or you could use larger mushrooms and make it a full meal.

SeptemberJambalaya

IMG_4728

Not gonna lie, this is probably one of my favorite recipes I’ve ever made. Packed with sausage, chicken, and shrimp, as well as fresh celery, tomatoes, onion, and peppers, served over steaming white rice. This was also the month when I took the one-week SNAP Challenge.

OctoberBarley & Kale Salad

IMG_5443

A beautiful cacophony of colors and flavors, this salad is hearty enough to satisfy but light enough to not weigh you down. With chewy whole grain barley, power green kale, and multiple other fresh veggies, this will keep you full long past lunch time, and you can feel good about seconds.

NovemberAcorn Squash Mac n Cheese

Easily adaptable to any type of squash you have, this recipe pumps up the fiber and vitamins of your typical comfort food. It adds a sweet depth of taste and creamy feel. You can sub in any other veggie you like more than spinach as well, such as tomato, onions, peppers, or asparagus.

DecemberLast Minute Gift Ideas

IMG_5110

When you didn’t know a birthday was today, or got distracted and realized Mother’s Day is today, or somehow Christmas just snuck right up on you. This list of crafts and cooking ideas are all fairly simple, quick to make, and frugal to boot. All of them I have ether tried or am saving to try at some point.

 

There you have it, 2014 year-in-review of the best of this blog. If you have anything you’d like to see in 2015, or have a different post that was a favorite than one mentioned here, please comment below! Thanks for contributing to this blog’s success in 2014, and I hope to entertain and educate you all this year.

Happy Holidays from BE!

 

Hello dear readers,

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season and all the delicious treats it brings! But even better than sugary cookies, pepperminty beverages, warm honey hams, and classic family recipes is the memories we make this time of year. Time off from classes and work combined with holiday cheer should lead to hours of talking, bonding, and laughs with friends and family.

Whether you have a manger scene on your hearth and sing in your church choir, save all year to go all-out on a giant pile of pretty boxes, or choose to ignore the consumerist culture demanding you splurge because baby Jesus was supposedly born, this should be a warm and happy time of year. We all have so many things and people in our lives to be thankful for. A warm bed at night, a meal shared with people you love, reliable transportation, a job or career, a tiny bundle of your genetics, or not-so-little offspring making their own way in the world.

Wherever you are, whatever you do today, whoever you spend your time with, I wish you warm thoughts and happiness.

Merry Christmas!

Testing Walmart Grocery To Go

 

Hey readers! Exciting news.

Walmart To Go is expanding to Grocery To Go. It is a shop online, home delivery service for food & other goods, and is now being offered in the Denver, CO area.

ScreenHunter_24-Oct.-21-18.02

I was recently invited by Walmart Grocery To Go to collaborate on an event initiative. They will provide me with food and other items through their delivery service and I’ll photograph my events to show how their service fits my lifestyle.

They’re not paying me to say good things, and I’m free to share my honest opinions. If you want to know more about the service, check out www.walmart.com/grocery and enter your zip code to see if it’s available in your area yet.

Feel free to ask any questions using the hash-tags #PartyToGo and #WalmartGrocery.

My first dinner party using their service will be this weekend, so stay tuned for a post about how that went, and follow along with updates via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BudgetEpicurean) and Twitter (@BudgetEpicurean).

Walmart to go truck

Giving Thanks

 

Happy Thanksgiving dear readers! I am so thankful for each and every one of you.

I sincerely hope that your Thanksgiving day is filled with good food, friends, family, and stories. Laughter and hugs and sore stomachs from wayyyyy too much to eat.

For some light reading to avoid the football madness or post-turkey nap, see my post from last year on how to do Thanksgiving under $20 , or read about the history of Thanksgiving and why it should be “thanks-giving”.

Or check out some more awesome food bloggers’ Thanksgiving ideas and leftover uses:

Chewingthefat Thanksgiving daily
TheSimpleDollar leftovers roundup
FeedYourSoul2 dessert roundup

(This is not permission to ignore your family in favor of your smart phone or tablet! Pay attention to what your Aunt Edna is saying, you never know how many more holidays you have.)

In honor of that train of thought, some things I am thankful for this year:

  • My amazing, supportive family, who love me from far away
  • My amazing, supportive S.O. who keeps me going daily
  • Finally getting a house & a yard! (renting. but still.)
  • Puppies!
  • Friends who keep in touch through big life changes
  • H Mart. Y’all not from Denver, you just don’t know.
  • Flowers
  • A car that keeps working, despite my lack of attention
  • Jobs that are mostly rewarding and fun
  • Cool people with good stories
  • Board games
  • All the lovely people who have read, shared, supported this blog!

1957692_10102311011621190_4353835963171798343_o

What are you thankful for?

SNAP Challenge Week Lessons

 

So today (Tuesday) marks one week of the SNAP Challenge for me. (If you don’t know what the SNAP Challenge is or why I’m talking about it, take a peek at my earlier post).

The week went very closely according to plan. I ended up having so much leftover from the soup I made that I did not use the can of tuna. I had coffee 6 out of 7 days, but only one cup. And I only needed an extra boost from green tea on three days.

 

Here is a breakdown of all the food purchased and consumed throughout the week:

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 7.59.07 PM

If I calculated out the exact costs for the week, it would be quite a bit less than my target, as I still had 2 eggs, 1/2 bag broccoli, all but 4 tbsp margerine, plenty of garlic salt, 6 slices turkey bacon, half a jar of peanut butter, a few slices of bread, some rice, potatoes and lentils, and 6 bags of oatmeal left! Even with the full price added in, I had $2.44 left to spend at the end of the week.

There were only a few cooking-intensive meals, then several meals consisting of leftovers. Peanut butter sandwiches were always a go-to in case I didn’t want leftovers for lunch and dinner, or just needed a hearty snack throughout the day.

 

Here is a break-down of all the meals I ate this week:

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 7.57.01 PM

This ‘diet’ may actually have been for the better, as I was eating less meat and calories in general, and slowly cutting down on caffeine. I actually felt quite healthy throughout the majority of the week, though energy spikes and troughs as well as a growling tummy was more frequent.

 

Overall, this week was not as difficult as I imagined it being, but I recognized some significant advantages:

1. I have a fully functional kitchen. This includes a microwave, stove-top, oven, refrigerator, and freezer. I have ample containers in which to store excess cooked food to be eaten again later. This all helps in stretching the food you do have.

2. I do not mind the process of cooking, eating leftovers, or the same meal multiple times. In fact I enjoy those things. There are tons of people who do not like one or all three. Being able to cook, even simple methods, is limitlessly helpful in stretching your food dollars versus convenience foods. And being willing to cook large batches and re-eat that meal later is also a huge money saver.

3. I have access to fresh, affordable produce and very reasonably priced staple food items. Many, too many, people do not have access to fresh produce, the ability to stop at four different stores to price-compare, or to pick up 2 cucumbers for $1 just because they’re on sale, they look fresh, and you want a snack.

4. I have been in the practice of planning, shopping, and cooking for myself on a very tight budget for a very long time. Many people who end up on SNAP due to unfortunate circumstances have no practice with coupons, budgeting, or meal planning. They may not know how to stretch a dollar because they never had to before. This just adds to the overall burden.

Over the next few posts I will be posting the recipes of meals I cooked during the challenge, so stay tuned!

 

Final Thoughts

I decided I am going to buy a duplicate of all the foods I had this week, and donate them to a local food pantry so others in my community can be fed. I am also hosting a food drive at my work place until the end of the month.

I hope you took something away from this, and if you’re not inspired to take on the challenge yourself, at least you’re more aware of the daily struggles millions of your fellow Americans face, and know more about how you can help.

The Budget Epicurean on vacation

 

Hello blogosphere!

I know you will be so disappointed to hear, but the Budget Epicurean will be taking a short hiatus. But you may say, taking vacations is not frugal! Nay nay. Vacations help keep one inside the budget I will retort. Planned or spontaneous, taking a break from the day-to-day can help to relax, recharge, and keep the frugal fires burning.

Sometimes, we all stumble, despite our best intentions. This is usually due to stress and being overwhelmed. Whether it’s family, friends, work, or personal life, when you are too busy to think straight you are more prone to mistakes. You give in and have a jumbo muffin, latte, fruit, another latte, and a doughnut, just to get through the morning. You forget to pack lunch and have to buy a cheeseburger and fries in the car on the way to a meeting. You didn’t prepare and need to purchase travel-sized things at an inflated price. You’re just too tired to cook, so looks like it’s pizza for the fifth time this month.

You also sometimes need a break from being frugal to avoid “frugal fatigue”. This is what happens when you are being good and sticking to a budget, making your own food, not eating out or going out often, and all in all being frugal for a long time. It’s like cheating on a diet, the more extreme you begin the faster your willpower wears out. Frugality is a way of life to be sure. If you go from upper-middle-class lifestyle of eating out constantly, new toys, new clothes, trips, etc. and jump right into a cabin in the wilderness where you grow and shoot all your own food, you will break in about a week I’d guess.

To avoid frugal fatigue, it is perfectly fine to ease yourself in, and take mini-breaks. When you save an extra $100 in one month, go ahead and allow yourself one Starbucks run. If you make your own laundry detergent, and buy no new clothes for a year, I’d say you deserve the running shoes you’ve been eying. Planned for or occasional small indulgences are the icing on the cake of life.

Therefore, it is essential to take a break once in a while. Especially in the US, we pretty much work ourselves to death. Down time is essential to overall health and well-being. An occasional indulgence and/or respite is often just what you need to push through or recover from a particularly crazy phase of life, a big project, a family event, whatever.

With that in mind, this blog’s author is taking a much-needed break from all things normal, including internet and this blog. If all goes well, we will be back in full force come August. See you on the sunnier side! 😉

~BE

 

Breaking Out of a Rut Without Going Broke: Financial Tips for Career Transitioning

 

I’ve recently come to realize I’ve lost something I’ve had my whole life. Something that some, if not all, people never have. Direction. I didn’t really appreciate it until it was no longer there, like most important things in life. For me, it is science.

Science has been an inevitable, magnetic pull as far back as I can remember. I never even hesitated when people asked “What do you want to be?” or “What will you major in?”

Biology of course.

There are other things you can study and do? Who knew.

Biology in action.

Therefore, my whole life thus far has been laser-beam-focused on science. And I’ve certainly achieved my objective. From four different lab internships throughout undergrad, to a published masters thesis, to a PhD candidate position on a top medical campus, I’d say in terms of ‘doing science’ I have succeeded so far. 

Problem is, one day I realized that magnet was getting weaker.

And I fought it. I tried to re-focus, to think about it differently. But it faded away like a sunset, leaving the darkness of confusion in its wake. That thing which defined me, drove me, inspired me; now there is no pull. There is no sense of purpose, no goal to strive for.

Now what

I’m very fortunate that my parents taught me how to manage money from a young age. I started my first savings account at 13 with my meager allowance. I had many a lemonade stand and bake sale, babysat as soon as any parent would allow me, and had a part time job at a roller rink by 15.

My dad made me a deal to pay for half of my first car, and by the time I had my license in hand, I’d paid cash for a cute little green Saturn. Throughout college and my masters degree, I worked two jobs to cover rent, food, gas, and books. My high test scores had rewarded me with a full tuition scholarship. Because of this life-long money awareness, I made it out of six years of school with less than 1/3 the average college debt. 

I will be forever grateful to my parents for those lessons in frugality and saving.

Those lessons are ones I continue to apply every day in my life. My savings account is by no means impressive, but it would be enough at this point to allow me to be unemployed for about 5 months without changing my lifestyle one bit. If I cut back dramatically I could probably stretch that to 8 or 9 months. That is such a peace of mind when looking at a possible huge life change, like a major career transition.

As if the thought of not having a job weren’t stressful enough, I just think how much worse it would be if I literally needed that paycheck to pay my necessary bills. And I know a lot of people are currently in, will soon be, or have been in that exact situation, and my heart goes out to you.

If you are, or think you may soon be in a career transition situation, I have a few pieces of advice you should consider now to make it easier when that day comes.

1. Pay yourself first.

This is the most important rule of money. You pay your landlord rent, you pay the dealer for your car, you pay the grocery store for your food, you pay Uncle Sam his taxes. Why would you not pay yourself? After all, you are the one doing the hard work at whatever your job is to bring that paycheck home.

Statistics from December 2013 reveal that 40% of Americans are not saving for retirement, while 25% have no savings at all. That is a very scary thing. And when you pay all the required bills, there is not much left over for silly things like, say, food and gas. I understand. But that’s why it’s imperative you save 10% first

Use automatic transfers to make it easier. On the first of the month, just take 10% of your paycheck, whether that is $10 or $1000, and transfer it into a savings account.

It may be slow, but over time it will build. And you will find that you can still make it to the end of the month. Maybe you will have to cut out a trip to the store, or a movie night. But think how much better you will sleep at night when there is a cushion of cash you can call your own.

2. Scale back on non-necessities.

If you know for a fact that a period of transition is coming up, scaling back on your lifestyle can make a huge difference between being comfortable and feeling squeezed. If you know you will be transitioning to a different field, might be unemployed for a few months, or will have to take a lower paid position, try to estimate how your income will change and start living off that lower amount now. Save the difference

Maybe cut back on eating out, going to happy hours, or buy fewer groceries, and stop smoking now. Find ways to minimize the cost of things you like to do. Go to a matinee on Saturday instead of a Friday night if you like theaters. Have a potluck game night with friends rather than going out to a dinner. Host your own wine tasting; $30 goes a lot farther at home than in a club.

3. Make a budget and stick to it.

The first step here is to figure out how much you are currently spending. For one month, track every cent that leaves your accounts. You can do this by hand, or try using an online tracking tool like You Need a Budget or Mint.com. Here’s a handy article I wrote on using Mint if you’re new.

The next step is to figure out how much you want to or should be spending in these categories. Things like rent/mortgage, car or loan payments, and utilities are rather concrete. Focus on categories you have control over, such as entertainment, hobbies, gas, and groceries.

Find more great tips in How to Make & Stick to a Budget.

4. Learn to cook, and cook at home the majority of the time.

Eating out can cost $5-$15 for lunch and $10-$20 or more per person for dinner. If you have lunch with co-workers every day, and dinner at a restaurant 2-4 times per week, that is a significant expense. It will save you hundreds per year if you cook your own meals at home. Obviously I am a huge proponent of learning to cook! 

In the archives here you should find plenty of simple, cheap meals as inspiration, and the internet has seriously infinite ideas. Even just picking up a loaf of bread, peanut butter, and jelly will give you two week’s worth of lunches for less than you probably spend in one day eating out.

If you don’t think you have time to cook, check out my 10 Minute Chili Mac, Fancy Ramen Soup, or Easy Steak Stir-fry. Search “less than 5” here for meals that cost less than $5, take less than 5 minutes, and require less than 5 ingredients.

For even more tips on getting your grocery bill as low as it can go, check out How to Save Money on Your Grocery Bill.

5. Find frugal entertainment & frugal friends.

 

If your social circle is based on events where you are pressured into spending money, then you need to start branching out. Big trips, buying ‘toys’ like boats and golf clubs, and going out drinking cost you big bucks. Try new hobbies that don’t require money, like taking up jogging or walking, join a book club, hike, start a garden, or find a local sport club.

You could entertain yourself with a visit to the park, your local museums, or volunteering. Help Habitat for Humanity, your local church or soup kitchen, or go to Volunteer Match to find something that fits your interests in your area. You can get involved in your community, help people, and meet new friends along the way.

More ideas on cheap/free hobbies:
23 Fulfilling Hobbies You Can Start Right Now from Thought Catalog
The Only Thing You’ll Need to Spend is Time from The Simple Dollar
100 Cheap Hobbies – Spend Time Not Money from Free in 10 Years 
The 35 Best Ways to Spend Your Free Time (Frugally) from WiseBread 

Job transitioning articles:
When Your Dream Job Disappoints, How to Find Plan B from The Wall Street Journal
Don’t Burn Bridges: 10 Ways to Maximize a Job Transition from Monster Working
Transitioning From One Job to Another from Business Insider
Advice for People who Want to Quit Their Jobs from Thought Catalog

This post began with the intent of giving tips for making a career transition easier, but these tips are applicable to any stage of life. If you start incorporating these ideas into your daily life, you will notice your bank balances going up, maybe your debts going down, and your worries starting to ease. You may even find a whole new world of things you didn’t know existed, and make new life-long friends.

Though a career transition is scary, being prepared can help make it easier. The more you have saved, and the fewer your bills and expenses, the more comfortable you will feel financially. Then you can focus on perfecting that resume, building your network, and polishing your interview skills instead.

I have no idea where I will go from here, but I know that having some money in the bank and minimal expenses makes it a lot less scary to not know.



Have you ever transitioned between careers? What advice do you have?

And so it begins…

Well, after debating and thinking about starting a blog for quite some time, I have decided to go ahead and do so. No idea what I’m doing, so you will have to learn along with me. I have this idea to try to make a cookbook of some sort with recipes which are very easy and very easy on the wallet. Having been a college student, and still a grad student, I know how strapped for cash we all are. And after talking to several people, I am always amazed at how few of us know how to feed ourselves beyond Ramen noodles and Taco Bell! So my mission is to educate the hard working students of the world (or anyone who has little to no culinary experience and/or cash in their pockets) how to feed yourself… simply and cheaply.

I will update as often as I can, and will include recipes and pictures when I can. If you have recipe suggestions or any questions I would be happy to hear from you! I also welcome any reader to take my recipes and see how reproducible they are. If this cookbook idea goes through, I want to know that my ideas work in the “real world” with real people.