Tag Archives: Budget

Fresh Market: A Whole New World

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Today was the day, folks. The day for which I have been waiting for more than six months. The day which made me semi-envy those who were standing in line to be among the first to behold the wonder on September 11th. The day I was so grateful for a small surplus in my budget so I could indulge in a few “splurge” purchases. The day that Ian and I went to Fresh Market.

Fresh Market has revolutionized this side of town like I’ve never seen. Where I live in the ‘Burg, people do the bulk of their grocery shopping at Kroger. I thought the massive renovations “my” Kroger has been undergoing made people crazy… until I saw little old ladies ramming people’s hips with their carts, yoga-pants-clad undergrads intently forcing their way through the aisles, and small children wide-eyed and clutching large bags of candy corn.

I knew we were crazy for attempting our exploratory shopping trip on the first Saturday FM was open after just three days of business, but we set out anyway. I had my list in hand (chia Kombucha Synergies, natural PB, pitted dates, raw cashews, and Kodiak Cakes) and my budget in mind ($25 — ha!). We got a ridiculously close parking spot and forged our way inside amidst the throngs of FM-goers.

I was simultaneously in heaven on earth and overwhelmed. There were several hundred people buzzing around the store, most of them having parked their carts directly in front of the busiest sections of the store. Go figure. No matter — we were both so excited to see what the area’s newest hotspot had to offer that we somehow remained friendly and optimistic the entire time.

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Ian readily agreed to be the basket-holder (as long as he didn’t have to hold my purse ;-)) so I could browse. I can’t even count the number of times something caught my eye and I said, “Oh, wow!” You probably would’ve enjoyed my facial expressions if you could’ve seen me marvel over the bulk bins of wasabi trail mix, the frozen kefir, the bright organic produce, the fragrant seasonal coffees, and the sample stations.

Ian *needed* to be back home by 3:30 for the A&M vs. Alabama game, so we were on a slight schedule. As a consolation prize for myself, I decided to treat us to lunch from FM. He picked up a wrap from the deli, and I had a custom-made deli sandwich. With the exception of lunch and a Clif sport energy packet to try, I stuck pretty closely to my list:

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FM total: $34.91

We made a quick pit stop at Kroger for the natural PB (I’m sorry, but $9 for a jar of PB at Fresh Market is just not my style) and syrup for the pancakes. I said to Ian, “Would you be offended if I got agave nectar instead of syrup?” and he immediately said, “…yes!” He makes me laugh 😉

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Kroger total: $6.44

I would have liked to spend all day more time in Fresh Market today, but it was a madhouse and things were getting a wee bit claustrophobic. We hung in there with the chaos for over an hour, but we were both getting pretty hungry, and I was still, ahem, recovering from last night’s festivities with one of our favorite couples. We got our goodies to go, popped by Krogs for the final two items, and settled in for an afternoon of football at home.

I am beyond excited to make Kodiak Cakes tomorrow morning before Ian heads back to Richmond, and to make Brittany’s homemade Lara balls this afternoon! I also can’t wait to go back to Fresh Market and explore further, perhaps during the week in the morning when it will (hopefully) be less crowded. Lots of exciting stuff coming your way, so stay tuned!

P.S. Do you have a favorite grocery store that just gets you really excited about food? Or am I that crazy blogger who professes her love for grocery shopping, completely oblivious to everybody else’s groans…? Let’s chat!

Lettuce Talk Greens

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If you’re like me, you can kill a batch of salad faster than you can say, “What happened…?” If you’re not like me, then just go the hell away and eat your perfectly fresh salad.

I kid! Kind of…

In my perpetual quest for foodie knowledge, I’ve read a plethora of blog posts and helpful sites recently that detail how to maintain fresh greens — IF you have a salad spinner. I’m a broke, old-school grad student, so salad spinner goes on my list of priorities right behind BMW and David Beckham. (In other snarky words, I do a lot by hand.)

Here is how I keep salad greens fresh for the long haul (i.e. more than three or four days):

First, break apart individual leaves from a head of Iceberg lettuce or a bunch of leaf lettuce.

If the leaves are a little wilted, fill the sink with cold water and soak the leaves for about 30 minutes. You’ll be surprised how much they perk right up!

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When the leaves have finished their bath, rinse each leaf under cold water, then shake it gently to remove excess water. Spread out several paper towels and place leaves individually on the towels to dry.

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I sometimes put another paper towel over top of the leaves to hasten the drying process. When the leaves are almost completely dry, arrange them as you want to use them on a clean, dry paper towel.

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Layer the leaves from first to be used on top to to-be-used-last on the bottom. Sandwich the leaves between clean, dry paper towels to soak up any remaining water.

Lastly, store the lettuce in a Ziploc bag or other airtight container, and be sure to squeeze out any air pockets before refrigerating.

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Your lettuce should be good to go for a couple of weeks!

I wanted to share this information with you because after years of magically transforming crisp greens into limp, slimy piles of earthy-smelling mush I call salads, I have finally found a system that works. Yes, it’s much more time-consuming than simply throwing a cheap bag of greens into my fridge and calling it a day. Spending the extra time on food preparation and storage has allowed me more budgetary freedom to purchase the organic goods I crave less frequently than I was buying (and throwing away) the prepackaged stuff.

If you have any tips or suggestions about rinsing or storing greens, I’m all ears! Salad greens seem to be the produce item I waste most frequently via improper care and storage.

Sorry I’m getting this post out so late. I meant to write yesterday, but it’s been another one of those go-go-go weekends! Enjoy what’s left of your Saturday, blends!

The Cost of “Me” Time

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This morning, my sister and I indulged in manicures at our my new favorite spa, Maxx Nails at Innsbrook. I like this nail salon in particular among the many I’ve visited because it has a welcoming atmosphere, it’s clean and beautifully decorated (#nerdalert: it has excellent feng shui), and the nail technicians are so accommodating and professional — but this is all beside the point.

The point is, getting a manicure is one hour of “me” time. I can think (or not) about whatever I want; I can read a pleasure book or a magazine; or hell, I can let my eyes glaze over while my nails become beautified. It’s time spent in the ambience of white noise, the soothing sounds of gently flowing water, and the murmur of quiet conversation. It’s time during which I can get mentally organized and centered. I firmly believe that “me” time is essential to my mental well-being.

I’ve decided that a perfect French shellac manicure is next to cleanliness, which is, of course, next to Godliness 😉

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Let’s do a quick calculation here:

$30 per manicure x2 manicures per month x12 months = $720 a year!

Now, I don’t get manicures twice per month during every month of the year. But if I did, “me” time would cost me my unborn first-born. I’m a VIP member of the Spending Frugally on a College Student Budget Club, so this particular form of “me” time isn’t even a reality for me. The thing is, that doesn’t matter.

Why? Because the energy I derive from re-centering myself and the positive feeling well-tended and beautiful nails gives me carry over into my everyday activities. Even though I literally cannot afford to indulge in manicure “me” time on a regular basis, the one or two hours a month I do indulge are well worth the cost.

Let’s do another quick calculation:

24 hours a day x7 days a week x4 weeks a month = 672 hours per month!

If getting a manicure for one hour every so often can afford me much-needed refreshment and mental benefits over untold hours per month, the lightening of my wallet is unequivocally worth the cost. So if you ask me, you can’t truly put a price on “me” time.

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[While meant to showcase my fresh mani, the shameless ring shots will eventually phase out ;-)]

What is your favorite form of “me” time?