How to Stick to a Weekly Food Budget

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Grocery shopping is something I have grown to love. It’s something I do each week (possibly more than once a week). I try to focus on buying what I know I’ll want to eat throughout the week and make healthy meals that fit into my budget.
Here are a list of tips I use to stick to my weekly food budget:
• Know exactly how much you can spend each week on food. Try to make a budget that is doable as this will correlate into what you’re spending each month. During the week I sometimes run to the grocery store to grab fresh food instead of cooking I will then subtract the money I spent towards my next grocery run.

• Know your weekly schedule when planning meals. Keep your plans written in a planner to determine nights you’re free vs. busy. On the nights you’re free you’ll have time to cook a meal that will provide left overs for the nights you’re busy. Also, plan when you’re going to eat out so that you don’t have to buy/make any food for dinner that night.

• Know what foods you have in your kitchen. This all comes down to making a list of what you need and what you buy on a regular basis. Before you run out to the grocery store, consult the list of what you normally buy to see if you’re missing anything from your list. When you’re planning a meal you’ll know what ingredients to buy at the store vs. what’s already in your kitchen. Buying 1 or 2 ingredients because you know that’s all you need saves you money over buying what you already have.

 

 

• Shopping around is something I just started doing. Each week I buy from two grocery stores: Wegmans & Trader Joe’s. Each store has different items I buy weekly. Some of the items I buy at Wegmans are water, yogurt, almond milk, eggs, sandwich meat & at Trader Joe’s I buy fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese and frozen meat. In order to stay within my budget I compare costs of items I buy regularly at both stores and buy the items that are inexpensive at that store, this is how I save money and how I keep a low food budget.

• Know what you’re in the mood to eat. If you feel like eating fried rice and orange chicken this week then make sure that’s what you buy, otherwise you won’t feel satisfied eating food you didn’t really want because you kept thinking about eating food you don’t have. Also, if you buy frozen food, like a batch of chicken that you’ll need to cook during the week, make sure you’ll want to cook it. A helpful tip is to cook during a night you’re free and you’ve recognized it will take a certain amount of time to cook. While cooking chicken you can also cook a grain and vegetable with it, and do some dishes while everything cooks!

Do you stick to a weekly food budget? What are some tips you have that help you stay on track of your food budget? Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram or Facebook @stylestomakeyousmile

Motivational Monday: Happiness Vs. Passion

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One New Year’s Eve I made “being happy” my New Year’s Resolution. I failed miserably. I thought if I told myself “I’m going to be happy this year” that I would be. The problem was I didn’t do anything to consistently make myself happy that year because I continued to go about life the way I had always known.

Looking back I realize happiness is an important part of life but you have to do things you enjoy to get yourself there. This is where I’ve realized that you can make yourself happy by doing things you are passionate about; whether it’s working out, cooking, a hobby, and the list goes on and on. I’ve found my passion through blogging because I’ve always loved to write and now that I’m actually blogging I’ve found happiness. The reason I turned to blogging is because I was tired of not doing anything other than my daily routine of get ready, go to work, make dinner, watch TV and go to sleep. I felt I needed something more and especially something creative that I wouldn’t tire of quickly.

Now that I’ve found something I’m passionate about I can turn my regular routine into scheduling what I want to do next for my blog. Sure I may not be able to blog every day as life gets busy, but it’s something I can always be thinking about to come up with new content. I can even turn a bad day into a better one by focusing on writing a post for my blog. This is all a mind-set of turning the negative into a positive and once that sets in it creates happiness. I encourage you to take something small you like doing and turn it into a passion.
What is something that makes you happy or something that you are passionate about? Let me know in the comments!

Motivational Monday-Acceptance

I began writing this post last week but didn’t feel like I was at a good place in life to talk about accepting life for where I am now, so I didn’t write it. I then talked to someone who gave me advice about acceptance. She made me realize that my life is going to consistently change (think of an up and down hill that I’ll forever be climbing) and that acceptance is something I am working toward. As my mother says, “It’s always something.” Meaning, if it’s not one thing going on in your life right now, it’s another; your health is fine and then suddenly you get really sick or you just bought your car and you need new breaks on it.
I believe that by accepting life for where you are without comparison to others or judgement from yourself is key to moving forward. When I was in my early 20’s I imagined what my life “should” look like at 31. Eleven years later it doesn’t look like what I thought it should and that is okay. I think it’s important to go through life learning who you are and a part of that is accepting everything you’ve gone through in life. No one has been through the things I have, thinks the way I do or owns my life. Once you’ve thought about these things on a grand scale, it shows that you can’t compare yourself to others and why your life is much different than someone else’s. It also means you can’t compare your life to how you thought it would work out because of life’s changes.

Acceptance means you’re facing reality. Don’t tell yourself sayings like: Get Over It (this saying sounds harsh and is not a nice way to treat yourself). You can accept things by fully living within the present. To stop thinking about the past, breathe and focus on the present moment. Accept your life as a whole, every challenge and success you’ve faced has led you to the present moment. While I know there will always be setbacks in life, acceptance is something that I am working toward.
How do you accept your life for where you are?

A DIY Treat for Valentine’s Day

I was in the grocery store this weekend and saw a ton of chocolate covered strawberries on sale for Valentine’s Day. When I got home, I’d realized I had all the ingredients to make them myself for a whole lot less than the prices the stores were selling them for-a pack of 3 was $4. I had bought a frozen bag of strawberries from Trader Joes a few weeks back for under $2 and a chocolate bar for .99 cents. On Sunday I thawed the strawberries from the freezer (I had less than half a bag left), Monday melted the chocolate bar in the microwave for 1.5 minutes and then dipped the strawberries in the chocolate, put them in a plastic container (the chocolate dried quickly) and left in the fridge overnight. This process took less than ten minutes. To serve I took a nice wine glass, filled with Greek yogurt and topped with chocolate strawberries and added some white, pink and red sprinkles for fun.


I know that this isn’t a ground breaking discovery of making chocolate covered strawberries, but I do feel that society as a whole feels like they have to spend a ton of money on chocolate, dinner, flowers, etc. when it comes to Valentine’s Day. This simple way of spending only a few dollars, making the dessert yourself is so much more fun and enjoyable than just spending money. Plus, if I’d had the entire bag of frozen strawberries I could have made them all into chocolate covered strawberries for less than what the retail stores charge.

Tip: If you happen to have a fondue set, this would be another fun way to make chocolate covered strawberries.

Do you make anything yourself for V-day? Let me know in the comments!

How to Gain Weekly Food Inspiration

If you follow me on Instagram @stylestomakeyousmile, you’ll know I post a LOT of food pictures. I LOVE food, so I thought I’d share where I get my inspiration to create new recipes each week.
1. Grocery Store
2. Food Network
3. Social Media

1. Grocery Store-On my fridge, I keep a list of foods to buy each week at the grocery store. This helps me remember everything I eat on a regular basis. Before going to the grocery store, I can reference my list to make sure I don’t forget to buy something. Some of the regular items I buy weekly are: chicken, mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes. When I get to the grocery store, I’ll think of something new to make with my regular ingredients. This past week instead of buying pasta or quinoa I decided to try zucchini noodles. I bought a big container of them which lasted the week, just like pasta would. I know you can buy a spiralizer and make your own zucchini noodles however I liked having the precut version to save cooking time (since I had veggies and chicken to cook). I got the idea to buy the noodles just by walking around the store-mainly spending a lot of time in the produce department. If you’re walking around the grocery store and there’s an item you’ve always wanted to try cooking, then I encourage you to buy it! If it’s an item you aren’t sure how to cook then look it up online and read about it or watch a video on how to cook it properly.

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Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Sauce, veggies & olive bread

2. Food Network-Food Network has been a big inspiration throughout my life, mainly because I grew up watching it with my parents. I found the avocado cream sauce recipe (featured on my Instagram) on Food Network’s website. I simply went to the site, typed in chicken quinoa and the recipe Quinoa Bowl with Chicken and Avocado Cream appeared. Since avocados are on my regular grocery list and none of the other ingredients were very expensive, I decided to make it. I really love this sauce because of its versatility-I use it on quinoa, sandwiches, eggs and zucchini noodles.

*For the record I only used the avocado cream recipe from the link below.

Quinoa Bowl with Chicken and Avocado Cream


3. Social media- This is a wonderful resource for food inspiration. Similar to how I found the avocado sauce recipe, you can search for new recipes on YouTube, Pintrest, Facebook, Instagram and blogs. I’ve learned how to make breaded chicken tenders (pictured below) and boil eggs from YouTube. The best part about learning to cook from a video is that you can pause and restart it when needed. I’ll watch the entire video first (to make sure the recipe is doable and the person cooking is easy to follow along with), pause it while the chicken cooks then continue to finish the cooking process. With the other social media platforms you have the ability to save the recipe and refer back to them while cooking.

Parmesan and Panko Baked Chicken | BuonaPappa

Tip: When making a new meal, if you don’t have every ingredient listed you can sub ingredients already in your home, even if it’s only the seasoning.

All of these ideas will keep your weekly meal planning exciting. How do you meal plan each week? Where does your inspiration come from to make new recipes?

Motivational Monday

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing is listening to other people’s stories. I grew up watching Oprah and Ellen, who both have incredible stories as individuals and have had amazing people share their stories through their platforms. This year I’ve watched a lot of YouTube channels that are based around learning what someone else’s life is like (I used to only listen to YouTube for music). I’ve learned everything from people’s routines (morning and night), financial advice, how to cook meals (like how to bake panko chicken tenders), how to stay healthy, blogging advice, to even watching family channels. P.S. Almost everything I’ve learned about blogging, I learned from YouTubers and the rest I learned from Bloggers. I watch these videos almost every morning (unless I’m in the mood to listen to music) while getting ready. I’ve even started getting into podcasts where I’ll listen to podcasters interview women business owners/bloggers share their challenges and struggles in business. I listen to these while cooking dinner and doing the dishes. It helps to pass the time, learn something and make daily routines not daunting.

My point in sharing all this with you, is that we can all learn something from people’s lives. There is someone you can relate to online who is going through the same things as you. They can teach you something new about life whether it’s how to cook chicken, learn a new skill or how to face a struggle. We can all find the time to listen and learn from other people, especially if it’s someone we can relate to.

 

Here are some of my favorite YouTubers & Podcasters below J

 

YouTube channels: The Financial Diet, HealthNut Nutrition, Haley Paige (lifestyle, blogging & family), Allison Lindstrom (blogging), BuonaPappa (food-chicken tender recipe on their channel), Tweaked Style, OWN, The Ellen Show

My Three favorite Podcasts: The Influencer Podcast with Julie Solomon, The Becoming Fearless Podcast with Annie Spano-both speak to entrepreneurs of their success and challenges with business. And just for fun I love listening to Good Mourning Nancy-with Gracie & Abby who talk about horror movies.

Learning How to go to Events Alone & Painting Tips

Last week, I went to a painting class alone. While I had never attended a class alone, I knew this was a painting I really wanted to have in my home, and if I had waited until someone wanted to go with me, I’m not sure when I’d actually get to paint it. At the end of the class, the teacher said, “Good for you for going to a class by yourself!” Going to an event like this helps you become more independent and put yourself out there. What helped me get over the fear of going alone was knowing that this was something I really wanted to do and that I’d have fun doing it. You get to meet all kinds of people who have the same interests as you and who are willing to learn, so don’t be afraid to talk with people. I’ve found that by commenting on something you like about someone else’s painting and engaging in class are great ways to get a conversation started.

I’ve attended five painting classes over the past two years and I love them! It has inspired me want to paint in my own home on my free time. Below are some painting tips:

You can be a beginner! You don’t have to have to have any painting experience to go to a painting class. The more of them you go to, the more experience you’ll gain.

Pick an easy painting-The easiest one’s I’ve found have a colorful background and a large object with few details. While I was nervous to paint the tree, I knew I could cover up any mistakes by making the tree bigger and adding more branches or leaves. Also, when booking the painting pick one that will coordinator well with your home’s interior colors.

Ask the teacher questions-If you’re unsure how to paint a certain object ask because they can explain or show you how to paint it. During the class I took when painting the tree, my teacher explained painting it by thinking of making the letter Y, which you can see at the top of my tree. Also, be sure to ask for more paint and paper towels when needed.

Remember this is your painting so color it how you like-If you don’t like a certain color on the painting then don’t use it. For instance, throughout the tree was supposed to be red but I tried it at the bottom of the painting and didn’t care for it, so instead I blended the red with brown and black to make it disappear. My most favorite part of painting is coloring the background which sets the mood for the whole piece. I enjoy making my backgrounds light-most have a white base then two colors added, so I really try to blend the white in with the base colors as much as possible to make a pastel color.

In the end everyone’s painting will look completely different and it’s fun to see just how different they all look. You should feel proud of your accomplishment for going to an event alone and know, that doing things for yourself will make you happiest.

Have you taken a painting class? If so, did you enjoy it? Would you or have you gone alone? Let me know in the comments!