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Emily's list: Frugal foodie edition
If you looked at my monthly debit card charges, you would think I'm obese. I find eating to be one of the greatest joys in life. I also find cooking more stressful than soothing. Some of my purchases are small, such as an $8 salad or a $4 lettuce-wrapped burger. But I do like to eat at nice restaurants at least once or twice a week, and buy high-quality groceries. Sure, I buy the occasional piece of clothing or new book, but I spend a large portion of my income feeding myself (disclaimer: I work out frequently and eat quite healthily!).
My husband and I are only in the same town a few nights a week while he's in law school, so I'm often cooking for one. Not only do I prefer to cook for two, but I frequently feel too tired to cook after work, especially without a helper. I also don't feel confident in my cooking skills other than a small arsenal of staple dishes I've mastered. He has reminded me that once school is over in May and debt pay-down time kicks in, I will need to cut the amount of money I am spending on food. I'm trying to plan ahead. I've started experimenting with crockpot cooking lately as a way to produce many servings for leftovers without much stress, which puts me on the right track.
I feel confident, as I just returned from a hands-on Whole Foods cooking
class on paleo staples (a diet/lifestyle I try to stick to), which was led by Austin paleo blogger and cookbook author Melissa Joulwan. I've never taken a cooking class, and wished I hadn't waited so long.
Some of the dishes we prepared took a little while to make, but they were full of flavor and so healthy. Each of the dishes generated plentiful servings that would leave me with lots of leftovers, reducing my reliance on eating out. It was great being able to visualize how much food I can make if I just hunker down and do it. I know it makes so much more sense to spend $20 on groceries and make enough for four to six meals rather than spend $15 on one restaurant meal. I might need to start batch-cooking on the weekends, which is another Melissa trick.
Is food your budget downfall as well? In my roundup of my favorite blog posts from the week, 10 personal finance bloggers share their best tips on smart budgeting and money management.
1. Per$onal Finance Journey offers advice on how to manage your finances in a way that simplifies your life.
2. Good Financial Cents explains the importance of managing your cash flow so you don't find yourself rich at the beginning of the month and poor by the end.
3. Christian Personal Finance lists three of the most compelling reasons for having an emergency fund, one being that it can help keep you out of debt.
4. My Alternate Life candidly discusses her struggle as a millennial with debt and how she didn't expect such a bumpy road to financial stability.
5. Repaid.org warns us of the pitfalls and scams you should know about if you want to try a debt relief program.
6. After a recent snafu due to their credit rating, DINKS Finance reminds us how to improve or maintain your own credit score.
7. While many people say the first step to getting out of debt is writing down how much you owe, The Debt Myth reveals an important step that should come even before that.
8. L Bee and the Money Tree is nostalgic for a time when we were ignorant about money, though she explains that personal finance blogs have helped her (and many of us) gain a sense of financial responsibility.
9. Steadfast Finances lists three mistakes that will destroy your credit and make it difficult to get favorable loans and interest rates.
10. Money Life and More is the victim of credit card fraud and identity theft. He explains what happened and how you can avoid the same thing happening to you.
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