Turn that Monday Frown Upside Down: The Resolution Edition

Confession: Just over one month ago, I completed 26.2 miles in less than four hours at a pace of 8:59 per mile.

This morning, I struggled to complete 3 miles at a pace of 9:20 per mile. Uh oh. Someone’s slipping! I promised myself I’d stay in tip-top shape after the marathon, but it seems I’ve lost that running mojo. I cannot remember the last time I’ve had a good run, and even though I’m still running at least four times a week, I’m not challenging myself during my runs and most of the time it’s a battle to complete my goal mileage until the very last second. My oh my, how the mighty have fallen!

Confession: I didn’t blog all weekend, not because I was busy, but because I just didn’t do much that was worthy of writing about! If you’d like to catch up on my life over this weekend, read about my Soul Food craving. That’s all I’ve got for ya after a weekend of beautiful weather in the Big Apple. The line was too long at Sixteen Handles, due to the amazing weather, so I had to settle for some old school Tasti D-Lite. When you’ve experienced all-you-can eat yogurt and unlimited cereal toppings, Tasti-D just loses it’s luster…

Confession: I use Mint.com to budget my groceries every month and every month around the 20th, I receive an alert telling me that I’ve surpassed my previously established budget. BAD Sometimes Healthy Girl.

Lots of reasons to turn that Monday Frown Upside Down this morning, but for me it’s the chance to start fresh after a lazy weekend, some budget slip-ups and some less-than stellar runs.

Since I’m someone who get’s easily overwhelmed, my plan is to attack one slip-up at a time. Starting with the grocery budget.

The Budget Diet

Yesterday, Kristin posted about her grocery shopping for the week at her local grocery store, Hy-Vee. I initially felt a twinge of nostalgia, as Hy-Vee is also the grocery store I grew up with in Omaha (Kristin lives in Iowa). When I was in middle school, an exciting Saturday would include walking to the nearby Hy-Vee with my best friends and getting a heaping serving of some of their signature orange-looking mac n’ cheese. For some reason, we thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. A few years later, when Hy-Vee added a little Chinese food station, we thought we’d died and gone to prepared foods grocery store heaven. #youknowyourefromnebraskawhen…

Hy-Vee, Shop Hy-Vee, Where there's a Helpful Smile...in every Aisle!

Ah, those were simpler times. (I still think Hy-Vee is greatest grocery store ever created and think that any store here in NYC will NEVER compare!)

But alas, I digress. The other item that struck me today from Kristin’s post (besides her ADORABLE recap of couples tennis with her man) was the price tag from her grocery shopping excursion: $80. A quick glance at her plentiful list of purchases and a from-memory view of the prices at my neighborhood grocery store (I do go there every day) told me that her list probably would have cost me at least 50 dollars more. Only in New York…

In addition to rent, utilities, transportation, movie tickets and more, food is ridiculously expensive here in the Big Apple. I’m not talking about restaurant food either. I’m talking about plain old groceries – from bread to lettuce and everything in between! And for someone who likes to make frequent stops at the grocery store, this overpricing is a problem. If I don’t watch it, I will LITERALLY eat myself out of house and home.

Here I am biting into a giant hamburger cake (brunette with polka dot headband- this just in, I'm not a natural blonde). Somehow this photo represents me eating out of house and home. I'm digging deep here...symbolism at it's finest

Enter Budget Diet

My best friend, Michelle, created the “diet” back in her early days of living in NYC. She’ll be a guest poster on here sometime soon but here’s the short version of the budget diet: eat on a very small budget to fully enjoy other areas of life in NYC.

Michelle - Founder of the Original Budget Diet

You see, the genetically blessed Michelle wasn’t so concerned about eating healthy as she was about saving money for fun trips, cute clothes and Hamptons shares. Thus, her number one priority at the time was to spend as little money as possible on overpriced food in NYC. The Budget Diet included lots of bowls of pasta, some frozen veggies, occasional trips to McDonalds (gasp!) and countless Lean Cuisines. I learned a lot from Michelle about budgeting my food (at least temporarily) and she has learned a lot from me about eating a little healthier. Michelle has an extremely balanced approach to eating: She’ll indulge in a budget-friendly slice of pizza every now and then, while also eating a super-food packed healthy salad for lunch quite often. Gold star, Michelle!

Running Buddies AND Sometimes Healthy Eating Buddies

Michelle’s idea of the budget diet is actually a very interesting one, but my question is: Can a girl eat healthy on the Budget Diet?

So, I’m creating the Sometimes Healthy Budget Diet Challenge.

Here’s how it will work:

  • I’ll allot $100 a week for food and drink – This will not include coffee. I drink it too much. I need it too much, and when I’m in need of some major caffeine, the last thing I want to do is stress about whether it will screw up my budget. This $100 will include all meals, including restaurant dinners. However, if I’m forced to go to one of those really expensive group dinners, I get to make an exception. I doubt they’ll let me out of paying the minimum amount if I tell them I’m on the Budget Diet. If $100 seems like a lot to you, come live in NYC, try to cook/bake every now and then and give it a shot ;-). It’s not easy, trust. Rest assured, one night out may result in overshooting my budget by at least fifty bucks. I’m one of those, “I just had two beers and now I’m tipsy and will offer to buy beers for the entire group” people. What can I say? I’m a generous little drinker.
  • I’ll document my weekly purchases in the new budget diet tab – Yep, if I don’t make this a blog project, there’s no way I’ll stick to it. I promise I’ll keep it interesting. My food choices alone will be intriguing, I’m sure.
  • Any time I go over the limit, I’ll subtract from next week’s budget – It’s called accountability, people.

And we’re off….

I decided to do this Budget Diet challenge on my sub-par 3 mile run this morning. At least something good came out of it! So I started immediately! Per usual, I didn’t pack lunch or breakfast (it was a lazy Sunday).

I purchased Egg Beaters and Oatmeal to serve as my breakfast all week. Remember the Wacky Food Combo?

Yummmy (and affordable) Wacky Food combos with a side of caffeine

I Can’t Believe it’s Not Egg Casserole! Yummy. Total: $10 ($2 per breakfast)

For lunch, since I wasn’t prepared, I went with old faithful, a turkey salad from Subway and apples from the fruit stand (fruit stands are a gold mine here in NYC, twice as affordable as in the grocery store)

Subway is a Sometimes Healthy Girl's BFF

Total: $6 for salad and 3 for $2 for apples; water for free (in cute pink cup!)

So, I’ve got about $80 bucks to last me for the rest of this week. Luckily, my kitchen is pretty stocked, so I can cheat a little bit ;-). No traditional Monday stop at the grocery store for me tonight! Wish me luck. This is a bigggggg undertaking for Sometimes Healthy, Always Grocery Shopping Girl.

PS- I won’t always be documenting the budget in my posts. Just wanted to start it off with a bang!

PLEASE NOTE: Free cupcakes ARE allowed in the Budget Diet (Free anything is a BONUS!)

Coworker's leftover cupcakes from Amy's Bread in West Village. YUM!

Question:

Do you keep to a weekly budget? What are some of your tricks to sticking to it? I need all the help I can get!

ALSO NOTE: Women’s Health incidentally featured an article on a similar concept this month. The professionals probably have better ideas than I do, so check it out if you want to learn some solid tips! I know I’m going to read it tonight :-)

8 Thoughts on “Turn that Monday Frown Upside Down: The Resolution Edition

  1. I always make a food budget and then take that money out in cash at the beginning of the week. That way, when money is gone, no more food purchases for me! :)

  2. I wish you the best of luck on this mission! Budgeting and NYC sometimes feel like oxymorons to me – especially when it comes to food. hahaha, ok and everything else. Because I love to cook so much (and I love Whole Foods), I usually don’t budget my groceries. However, homegirl hasn’t been shopping in forever. Priorities?

  3. Hey lady, I just wrote a post on my craptastic runs lately too! We can get through this together :)
    And that’s awesome you are being conscious of budgeting. I have a few friends that spend money with no thought behind it and some are already getting into some financial trouble… :(

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