We all know what being on a budget can mean–sometimes you have to play the lame card, and pass on pricier delicacies. But, the key to being creative on a budget is to be selective, as my friend Mary demonstrates in this week’s installment of “The Splenda Stealer Diet,” who’s anything but lame as she noshes on late lunches of fried goodness and Coronas at Coney Island, pierogies on the company, and sno-cones in the park. Let’s take a look at her week of eating.
I tend to think of myself as a fairly healthy eater. I think it’s easy to keep up with: I give myself a $25/week budget for groceries, which means I have to be thrifty and usually stick to the produce aisle and work with my never-ending supply of pasta and tuna at home. I’ve learned over the years how to be more creative: my old roommates could’ve written this for me because I ate the same thing every single day: breakfast: toast, lunch: salad, dinner: egg, salami, and cheese sandwich. Really boring, but I eventually got out of that rut.
Saturday, August 7th
I will start my food diary on Saturday, always my worst eating day of the week. This past one I started with a rather large pork roll and egg sandwich and a Snapple. The Splenda Stealer can attest for my need of this sandwich, as I bumped into her on the Path that morning, and let’s just say I’ve looked better after a night out. Greasy food always boosts me back up a bit the morning after, and this sandwich was no different. (If you ever find yourself in Journal Square, the deli in the Path station is really good.)
After re-energizing myself, I headed to the west side in NYC to lay out by the river for a bit with some friends. It was really hot, and the river doesn’t provide the breeze the ocean does, so I had a sno-cone. After about an hour I headed out to Coney Island to meet up with a couple people at Beer Island (it is as great as it sounds). My late lunch/early dinner was French fries, a hot dog, and 3 Coronas.
We headed back into the city for a birthday party at Pizza Box, a pizza place on Bleecker that also has taps of Bud, Bud Light, and Michelob Ultra. My late dinner was two slices of pizza and a Bud Light.
Sunday, August 8th
Sunday I woke up feeling guilty from the day before, but didn’t quite get back to my normal eating. I had had dinner with my dad on Thursday night, and we always go to a Thai place around the corner from my apartment that has really big portions. So, for breakfast, I had a small bowl of hakka noodles with vegetables. I spent the morning cleaning up my apartment, then headed out to my backyard to garden a bit, and my landlord came over with some turkey sandwiches; after telling her I wasn’t hungry, I finished half a sandwich and a cup of coffee. Dinner that night was more Thai leftovers—pineapple and cashew rice with chicken.
Monday, August 9th
Monday—back on track! I have to eat breakfast before I leave the house, so every day I have toast with peanut butter and a glass of milk (hard habit to break). But last week I scored at Duane Reade and Special K was on sale two boxes for $5, so I’ve been having that instead. I try to make my one “big” meal of the day dinner, so I eat a little bit throughout the day instead of a huge lunch (also helps with sleepiness at work). Monday’s was pieces of broccoli with ranch dressing around 12:30, hard-boiled egg around 3, and a yogurt at 4:45 to hold me over for yoga. My friend Megan came over for dinner, and we made tuna cakes (think crabcakes with tuna) with a side of salad. Dessert was a few non-pareils (Megan made fun of me, apparently everyone else calls them sno-caps?), I tend to always have something sweet after dinner.
Tuesday, August 10th
Tuesday started with cereal. I took a gamble and didn’t bring lunch because I knew I had a meeting around lunchtime and was hoping food would be ordered in on the company. Luckily I was right. We ordered from 2nd avenue deli, which is so good. I had spinach pierogies, and they come with about ten, so ate half and saved the rest for lunch Wednesday. Rugala for dessert was really good, too. Ate a yogurt around 4 PM. Had plans for dinner at Caliente Cab, and should’ve thought ahead a bit and not had quite so many pierogies at lunch—couldn’t even think about getting a burrito, so I opted for a simple chicken quesadilla instead, which was a perfect size, and I wasn’t too full.
I can honestly predict the rest of my week’s meals, which I’m not completely sure is a good thing. Being on a budget kind of makes you take inventory on things you need/don’t need, and, for me, I think food is one thing I have a handle on. Going out on weekends? Hard to say “no” to afternoon margaritas. Having a slice of pizza instead of that filet mignon? I’d never finish it anyway.