Trying to change my world is hard work. I know what I need to do, but I still need to decide about the best way to make things happen. For instance, I realize that I spend too much money eating out. While eating in sounds like a simple enough solution, there’s a lot of reverse engineering that goes into sustaining a healthy diet at home. From meal planning to grocery shopping and prepping ahead – there’s a lot there. And there are also considerations for my later work shift, like having to pack a lunch and a dinner that I may not be able to reheat as I’m often out and about in the community.
It’s usually about this time that I start getting a little obsessive. I start creating overly elaborate meal plans and spend a lot of time in grocery stores looking for things like smoked paprika and cardamom seeds. FYI, black cardamom seeds have a beautiful smoky flavor that’s perfect for savory dishes. Alternatively, green cardamom seeds offer a lovely swirl of strong and sweet with pungent undertones. While these things are good to know, they end up distracting me from developing maintainable habits for prepping and eating at home. Sometimes I end up becoming overwhelmed and abandoning my very worthy goal.
For now, I’m focusing on doing small shops at the grocery store. I’ve gone overboard in the past and had to throw things out after spending hundreds of dollars to eat at home. This time, I am trying something different. Yesterday, I bought $20 worth of vegetables and cut them up to eat with hummus. It’s an easy snack, and I’m not engaged in this dramatic race against time to eat ten pounds of vegetables before they expire. It’s a small thing, but I feel it’s a step in the right direction.
What’s important about learning something new is figuring out how to make it work for me. If you think back to school, you probably remember the students who studied with flashcards while others just read through the textbook. The same thing applies now to my grand and great eating at home goal. So, I’m pretty good at finding tasty recipes and putting together a list for shopping. Recognizing strengths like this one helps me push through some of the tougher stuff.
One of my challenges is big box stores – I hate them so much. In fact, I think mega-marts are a diabolical Lord of the Flies social experiment featuring a giant rat maze populated with thousands of tense, grabby people who use their shopping carts like battering rams. Consequently, I shop at more expensive market-type stores that offer a slightly more sedate shopping experience. I don’t always get the best deal, but I don’t have to be a gladiator to get through the games. It’s a concession I’m willing to make to get the job done.
You might be asking yourself why I’m boring you with opinions about cardamom seeds and Walmart Supercenters. After all, I’m here to talk about what I’ve done to cut costs and boost savings. I stand to save a substantial amount of money if I can put this into place, but I’m not perfect. I still think it’s valuable to share my experience with the ‘softer side’ of setting money goals. Personally, I know sharing these experiences with you helps me be better – and more accountable. Maybe you folks have ideas that I haven’t considered?
The other point to sharing my random culinary adventures is that nobody gets it right all the time. Putting my struggles into print might help someone understand they aren’t the only ones trying to figure it out. In my opinion, the endless parade of super-shiny perfect pictures on social media is a massive contributor to mental health issues today. So this is me not being shiny or perfect.
Photo by Priyanka Singh on Unsplash
Lindsey is a freelance writer in the personal finance and lifestyle sphere. When she’s not at her laptop, she is likely teaching herself a new hobby with a high potential for injury – such as skiing or cooking.