A great resource: Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown

There are a lot of cookbooks out there, but none quite as fascinating nor as helpful as Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day. The book is filled with a variety of recipes that will fill your stomach without depleting your bank account, ranging from simple to complex, and hitting all of your nutritional requirements.

I’ve thumbed through my fair share of cookbooks, and browsed through a number of online recipes, but this one stands out to me for a few reasons:

  • Brown offers sound advice for working with a low budget. Living in New York City is not cheap, and with rent eating away at the majority of your paycheck, it’s hard to budget for healthy, plentiful food. But rather than just giving the recipes and leaving you to learn things the hard way, Brown walks you through building up to having a good stock of ingredients always on hand, and how to use them effectively. Throughout the book, she states the reality of buying food a budget: it takes some planning and work to make sure that all your needs are covered, but it’s doable.
  • Each recipe lists the price of the meal, based on the current price of the ingredients and how much is used in the recipe. To be honest, this information is a little misleading; just because you plan five $2.15 meals for dinner every night of the week, if you have to get a lot of different ingredients for each meal, it may end up being more than $10.75 at the grocery store. Prices change all the time, and some planning needs to go into making sure that you buy similar ingredients for your meals each week so that you can get the lowest cost, but it’s a good tool to help you realize that eating cheaply is still possible.
  • There is a fantastic variety to the recipes. From breakfast foods, to snacks, to categories like “Things on Toast,” there are a lot of recipes to choose from, making it so that one is never bored in the kitchen. And, everything looks so delicious!

My one criticism is that the recipes themselves don’t list the nutritional facts, though I know that’s harder to do when working with home cooked foods. Still, eating any combination of these meals every week is much healthier and cheaper than eating fast food or microwaveable frozen dinners.

The most difficult elements to all of this will be the planning and time management: planning the meals beforehand so that one can shop in the most efficient way, and making time to actually cook the meals, whether that’s every day or maybe taking one day of the week to cook a lot of food to stock up in the freezer.

Resources like this are extremely valuable to everyone who has to budget their money tightly. But there’s one more thing that makes this book even more amazing: it’s available as a free PDF that you can download, and she’s raised the funds to print copies of the book to distribute to non-profit organizations serving low-income families. More information can be found on her website.

For anyone in a tight money situation that needs help taking care of their nutritional needs, I highly recommend Good and Cheap. (And if you want still more resources, a quick search of “cheap recipes” will yield hundreds of results.)

Happy eating, everyone!

A picture of the vegan pancit I made for Thanksgiving dinner, 2013. The leftovers lasted for days.

A picture of the vegan pancit I made for Thanksgiving dinner, 2013. The leftovers lasted for days.

#MillennialProblems

There is an anxiety among people my age where they have this realization of “Damn, I’m in my twenties,” quickly followed by “This is not how I anticipated my twenties to be like.” The stress about pursuing higher education, worrying about how they’re going to pay off the debt that they’ve amassed, and finding jobs that pay well enough so that they can get what they need (but forget about about what they want), are all things that are lowering the quality of life they expected at this time in their life.

And as much as I believe that older generations are wise and knowledgeable about how to generally be adults, it’s really just people my age who have experiences that other generations don’t. Wages for entry-level positions taken by college grads have frozen. The job market is extremely competitive because everyone is qualified, to the point where there are now different ways of narrowing down the applicant pool. (Number of years of experience is a big one. How am I supposed to have the experience to get a job if I can’t get a job to give me the experience?)

I have this feeling that people understand this, there’s just a very vocal group that try to pin Millennials as lazy and narcissistic.

An actual screencap of what happens when I start to search for "Why are millennials"...

An actual screencap of what happens when I start to search for “Why are millennials.” At least some people think that we’re important.

I try my best to not generalize about an entire generation, and try even harder still to interact with them like I would with anyone else I would meet. Still, sometimes, whenever I do interact with someone from an older generation, I can feel the age divide between us. They may understand my situation, of course, but there isn’t quite the same connection that can be made from commiserating about post-grad life in the short amount of downtime that exists at the end of a hectic day.

This post was inspired by today’s Daily Prompt: Age-Old Questions.

Nostalgia

Yesterday, in a sudden fit of nostalgia, I scrolled through my study abroad blog and flipped through the journals I kept during that semester, and I found myself wanting to skip my current stage in life and find myself a small house with a sizeable garden and bees to keep in New Zealand. I changed my desktop background to a slideshow of seven of my favorite pictures from that Spring Break. I couldn’t get my head out of New Zealand.

And it was just… Sudden. I am so glad I took as many pictures as I did because I was lost for words while I was there. The pictures help jog my memory and transport me to The Chasm, to Lake Wakatipu, to Queenstown, to Milford Sound. Being so immediately surrounded by forests and mountains and hills and crystal clear lakes was everything I wanted and more.

It put me in a strange sort of mood that I’m still untangling myself from.

image

Queenstown, taken with an iPhone 4S from the Skyline Gondola.

Cheat Day

I woke up early this morning after knocking out early last night, and I had a strong craving for donuts.

So I got two donuts from Dunkin and that fulfilled that craving.

A balanced breakfast is a donut in each hand, right?

A balanced breakfast is a donut in each hand, right?

Please don’t follow my example in this regard. I normally try to eat fairly healthily, but some things I just can’t refuse. A craving for desserts for breakfast is one of them.

Ten summer reads

Every year I set myself the goal of reading at least ten books during my summer vacation. Though I’m no longer tied to the academic calendar, I do still create a “Summer Vacation Book List,” so here’s what I have:

  1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (finished)
  2. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (finished)
  3. The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas (finished)
  4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (finished)
  5. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (finished)
  6. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (currently reading)
  7. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  8. Jazz by Cristian Mihai
  9. The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander (the whole series)
  10. Tess of the D’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman by Thomas Hardy

So many of these books are on here because I feel the need to read more literature and have more knowledge in that particular topic. That, and they were free in the Google Play store, so I can get them on my tablet very easily. (I also have Jazz by Cristian Mihai because I bought it when it was on sale on Amazon. Support indie artists!) Please feel free to give me recommendations; I’m always on the lookout for something new!

What are you all reading this summer?

Writing to wine

I’ve had this habit for as long as I’ve been keeping a notebook—I leave the last page blank and save it for “10 years from now.” I’m coming up on the fifth anniversary of that first notebook, so I’m about halfway there.

Right now, all of the notebooks I’ve filled since I started in 2009 are lined up on my bookshelf. There are 22 of them total, and I’m working on my 23rd. Part of me cannot believe that I have written as much as I have these past few years. When I flip through the pages, I’m revisiting words that I barely remember writing.

The stories in those notebooks, fictional or not, are aging like fine wines. When I write, I’m mashing grapes and starting the fermenting process; when I’m writing for myself, I’m not meant to immediately revisit and enjoy those moments. Chances are, they haven’t had the proper time to age, and I’ll look on these stories with distaste if I revisit them too soon. And it doesn’t do to sit idly and just watch them turn into wine either. I need to keep growing, harvesting, and mashing grapes. I need to keep living. I need to keep writing

But years down the road, when I take short breaks from making the wine, have a moment to sip some of the old stuff, I’ll look back on what these notebooks hold, and enjoy their unique flavor.

All 22 notebooks on the shelf.

All 22 notebooks on the shelf.

New Perspective

A little bit of a throwback:

I remember I first listened to this song, “New Perspective” by Panic! At The Disco, during the summer of 2011. It reflected my mood for most of the summer; it was refreshing, in a way. I needed a song that felt optimistic and reflective and nostalgic at the same time. I lazed around in my old room, and I was a much different person at that time than I had been the year before.

This might be one of the reasons I am so against returning home for any extended period of time. (For me, anyway. I understand that sometimes things happen where returning home is necessary, and that’s totally fine. But, I am not in that situation. Yet.) I am determined to “make it” in New York. Going back home would feel too much like going backwards. Going back home isn’t the “new perspective” my 19-year-old self was wishing for. It’s quite possible that I’m just being stubborn; I could go home and regroup and ease up my finances. I could be quite comfortable.

But… I don’t think that’s what I need. I think I need to be tossed out of the nest.

And it’s scary. I’ve never felt the full burden of independence, having been coddled, in some aspects, by university systems (as frustrating as they might sometimes be), and my parents. This is the first test of my being able to handle life outside of particular academic and family structures and in the wider world. I know that I’ll never be able to make it entirely on my own, but there are still some supports that I need to leave behind.

It’s new and frightening and frustrating, and exhilarating and paralyzing, but good. In some weird way, I can feel myself getting stronger, more able to deal with the various crises that come up with trying to get by.

It’s good. I’m good.

And I know it.

P.S. It’s weird to think that “New Perspective” is from the Jennifer’s Body soundtrack, but I will not question it.

Getting back on the workout horse

I’ve been really terrible about my health the past two weeks. With the high school programs I’m working with in full swing, the days have suddenly gotten extremely busy. Time is flying by, and I ended up missing basically the past two weeks of exercising regularly.

Not exactly the best thing.

But, this morning, I went to the gym, and I hope that it will help me get back into the habit of doing something every day. After a few weeks of having enough time to go to the gym and get a good workout in, things suddenly ramped up to the point where I’m busy every moment of every day. It’s frustrating, and frightening as well.

Still, I know I’ll get through this. I just need to keep a positive outlook on life.

Sing me to sleep

I need to indulge in a little self care today. After a whirlwind weekend with very little sleep, I need some time to chill out.

Today is another day in which the only thing I have the energy to post is:

Come back tomorrow.

Happy blogging, everyone.

Late

I spent all day reading, then my night was extremely hectic, so yes, I did miss a day of blogging. 

But right now it’s July 19th somewhere, so I didn’t quite forget. This post is just a little late, is all. 

#done