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3 Kitchen Essentials + 3 Tips for Saving Money at the Grocery Store

Currently, I am living without an oven. And I love to bake. Cooking is just ok. I really love baking. Sometimes, I mix something at home and take it to my dad’s to bake just to keep me sane.

It works.

Kind of.

My refrigerator is a mini fridge. I freeze everything because I hate waste, so a freezer the size of a pizza box has really put a damper on my food preservation. Worst part? The amount of fruits and veggies I buy leaves my refrigerator door fighting to stay closed.

Living like a dorm-stricken college freshman without the social aspect is not ideal, but for now, is practical. Limited kitchen appliances would leave most people feeling as though they have no choice but to eat out but I am too cheap for that, too! So, I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner from food in my own house. I pack breakfast and lunch each day for work. If I know I am staying late, I will even pack dinner so that I don’t get stranded without food. So, what has all of this taught me? That you can eat healthy on a budget and with a limited kitchen.

Here's how- 

I do have 3 staple appliances… well, four if you count the coffee pot. But did I even have to mention that? I will never understand people who don’t drink coffee. I mean, why get out of bed if coffee isn’t there to greet you? Ok, moving on.
  • First up, a NINJA. My mom bought me a NINJA two years ago for my birthday and I have literally used it every day since. I’m serious. Every day. Unless I was out of town and in some instances I took it with me! Each morning, I blend some type of protein shake. Staple ingredients are chocolate protein powder, ½ frozen banana and 2 tablespoons of PB2 with water. Additions vary but either way, breakfast is a cinch!
  • Next, is a counter top electricgriddle. JT got this for me for Valentine’s day last year (how romantic, right?). He knows me. I have used it almost as much as the NINJA. It’s simple to use, easy to clean, and the perfect stove top because the “skillet” is already included. From eggs to fajitas, you can make anything on this!
  • Finally, a rice steamer. Don’t be fooled by the name, I have never cooked rice in it. In fact, I don’t like rice so when JT gave me this one I thought he gave it to the wrong girlfriend. Behold, it can double as a crockpot that has been known to house some wonderful taco soup. I also use it for steaming vegetables like Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes.

Now that you have the essentials, check out these money saving tips!
  • One way I save money is that I don’t cook a lot of meat. For the most part, meat (good meat, because I would rather not eat meat than eat great value chicken) is pricier than vegetables so adding that to the grocery list adds a good bit of cash. I also am only cooking for me and meat tends to be more time consuming than my impatient, just ran 5 miles and need food body can handle when I get home. Another perk to being just me is that I can eat salad all the time and I love it. Or oatmeal, or canned Progresso soup, Pita and hummus, the list goes on. I have noticed that when I go to buy food for JT and me to make together it ends up costing way more so I will save the meat purchasing for the Mrs. life. This is actually one of the things I am worried about when I get married. What am I going to cook for JT that I will like too? Suggestions welcome!
  • I go to the grocery store only twice a month. This is something I recently started and was a pretty hard adjustment. Some people skip food and buy shoes. I would rather wear the same clothes I have had since 2003 and have great fruits and vegetables. In college, I would spend $80 that I didn’t have in any given week at the grocery store. If I was going to have a salad, I wanted a salad bar type selection at hand. Now, I have realized that I can enjoy simple salads too and save a lot of money! I usually go around the 30th or 1st of the month and then again on or around the 15th. I always prefer fresh fruits and veggies but they usually only last about a week so I make sure I have healthy pantry/freezer staples as well. Always, always, one or two cans of Progresso light soup in case I am desperate for satisfying but still pantry food. I buy frozen fruits and veggies and save them for when the fresh run out.  I have nuts, seeds, peanut butter, or PB2 for protein sources.  The only exception to this rule is if I need to make something for a party or special gathering, then I will venture to the wallet eating grocery store.  
  • Finally, make a list. Aimlessly wandering around the grocery store really stresses me out and I always end up with random-why-did-I-buy-that items. Make a list and stick to it! Making one exception leads to more exceptions which leads to money-saving failure.

What are your kitchen staples? What advice do you have for eating better on the cheap?

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