So as you can probably assume, living in one of the most expensive areas of the country requires a fair amount of budgeting when your parents don‘t own a hotel.
And I’m not talking about avoiding hundred dollar shopping sprees, tickets to lavish events, or all-night benders at pricey clubs (though I avoid those, too). No, for me the guiltless cash-suck is something much more innocuous: lunch.
When I first moved to the city, it was difficult to get to the grocery store regularly. A supermarket with limited hours combined with the added detriment of only being able to purchase what I could carry meant I was often short on packable meals.
So I’d buy lunch. We’re not talking lobster or price rib here — often my meals were composed of lunch meat turkey if any meat at all — but after a while it alarmed me to discover that I could easily drop $10 on lunch without even blinking. Without getting anything fancier than a bowl of soup and a roll.
I’m a journalist, so my math skills aren’t exactly award-winning, but even I can figure that this pattern could mean spending up to $50 a week, $200 a month. And if you wanted to also meet up some friends for dinner or do anything with a price tag on the weekend? Forget it.
Not exactly budget friendly.
But, because I’m me, simply not eating lunch was, of course, not an option. So I started packing lunches. But you can only eat so many cold PB&Js and limp turkey sandwiches before you start feeling like an extra in Oliver. (“Please, sir, can I have some more?” “Sure, that’ll be $8.50.”)
Which brings me to the less depressing part of this post! I’m on a mission, folks, to make lunch (my favorite meal) awesome again, even on a tightened budget. In doing so, I have become quite the master of the toaster oven. For example, for a week or so I was whipping up these out of nothing more than some cheese, a tomato, and two slices of whole wheat bread:
And you GUYS. It was so good. Then I started making better use of leftovers. Ahem:
Marinated broiled chicken, wild brown rice, and sauteed peppers. Delish. This probably should have been a Kitchen Adventure, but it was one of those meals that I didn’t realize how awesome or pretty it was until I was hunkered in my bed watching Jersey Shore and chowing down.
So, I’m moderately poor. That doesn’t mean I can’t eat well. I think I’ll title my cookbook: The Cheap Girl’s Cookbook: Ladies Who Lunch Without Spending Much.