Monday, November 01, 2010


I'm kind of a disordered person who, nonetheless, has an admiration and need for order and who can be extremely "ordered" when the occasion calls for it. (A prime example is my Joan Crawford website -- I'm obsessed with gathering as much info as possible AND organizing it in a logical manner. Another example is when I had to pack up all my stuff and move back to Austin from Weehawken: I actually wrote out a schedule of what I would get accomplished my last week -- aside from "packing days" and "toting stuff to post office days," I also wrote down exactly when I would pay my last visit to NYC, when I would get my last slice of pizza at my Weehawken pizza joint, etc.)

Right now, with my random freelance work that I do from home, I never have a set spending budget that I can plan against. Or a set time schedule to do anything. I definitely don't mind being able to stay up as late as I want, or sleep as late as I want. But the downside is: Without hours of "duty," then the hours of free time don't seem as sweet, and are also infused with an underlying layer of anxiety -- "When will the next work come in?" etc. And with no set budget, I feel that I can't ever spend ANY money.

In my 4 months at my one-room apartment subsisting on freelance work, I have, however, established TWO "rituals": One is getting my hair cut every 6 weeks. The other is going grocery shopping every 10 days. The "10 days" is based on when, smoking a pack a day, my carton of cigarettes runs out! (A carton is $56 at the grocery store; $5.60 a pack. If I buy a pack at the nearby beer store, it's $6.50. I'm not a horrible cheapskate, but a whole extra dollar a pack seems incredibly wasteful.) The "every 10 days" also turns out to correspond pretty neatly with how much food I'm able to carry home via bus and on foot from the grocery store. About $50 worth.

The staples that I always seem to end up getting every 10 days:

hamburger meat (I usually fry up 2 burgers and use the rest to make tacos)
cheddar cheese
Borden slices of Swiss cheese
1 can refried beans
1 can tuna
sandwich meat (turkey pastrami)
head of lettuce/onion/radishes/tomato/2 avocados/2 baking potatos
Minute Maid orange juice
2 Red Baron "Pizza by the Slice"
1 El Charrito Queso Meal
1 Banquet Turkey Meal
1 Stouffer's Turkey Panini
1 Lean Pockets Philly Steak & Cheese
1 can of soup (Campbell's bean bacon or split pea)
tortilla chips

And then there are variables that I might get every other time: bagels, cream cheese, boneless chicken breasts, broccoli, Beenie-Weenies, hot dogs or corn-dogs, various condiments, white and rye bread, Ranch Style beans, black beans, Ruffles or Chee-tos, Stouffer's lasagna, Michelina's mac-n-cheese, frozen fries or tater tots, pickles, cereal.

Reading it over, it might initially seem like a stupid diet, but it's actually pretty good and varied for me, a non-cook on a non-eating-out budget! It's turned out, shopping every 10 days, to be $150 a month for food -- $5 a day! The only thing I did differently back when I had money (pre-2008) was eat out a lot more, and let my fresh meat and produce go to waste. In my cost-conscious state now, I'm intentionally making an effort to eat the damn hamburger meat and fruit/veggies before they go bad. Treats: Ordering out for a pizza one time a month; walking to get a breakfast taco or some fast food once a week. (Not having a car makes not getting fast food constantly easy.)

In NYC, I ate a lot better. There were so many delis around with full salad bars and a variety of chicken and fish, it was easy to walk a block or so and get some nutritious food every day for lunch or dinner. Here, I'm home all the time and have to make a conscious effort to PLAN to get some healthy food and vitamins in me! (i.e., if I eat a frozen meal or a fried hamburger for dinner, then I try to have had a salad for lunch or some fruit for breakfast -- doesn't always work out like that, and my body can tell the difference if I've just eaten crap all day)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved your soup selection, those are the only two that really ever reside in my house as well.