The Broke Blogger’s Guide: Eating Well With Potatoes

When a household is working to get their finances in order, ‘luxury’ purchases are always the first to go. But what about those of us who have long ago removed the ‘luxury’ from our budgets and are still left searching for creative ways to curb our spending? Well, we begin to seriously reconsider our purchasing priorities.

I have decided to write this post because I see quite clearly that so many people in the world (myself included) are feeling the economical effects of the previous 13 months of the pandemic and the associated restrictions. In times like these, people must reevaluate their spending and consumption patterns. This doesn’t mean that one has to change lifestyle completely. But it is worth reconsidering those convenience meals for hardier and healthier home cooked meals which may just be a bit less expensive too.

Enter the humble potato.

The potato has a long history of thousands of years and is now one of the top 3 staple foods.

Ironically, with all this potato-y goodness, this food is highly ignored as the filling food that can be the base of a variety of simple, few ingredient dishes, that it really is. In my mind, potatoes are that kind of base food that we tend to ignore because we are so accustomed to seeing it and they can feel a bit boring when compared to shelves of convenience foods in the shop.

Below listed are just a few of the many dishes that can be made with potato:

  • Boiled Potato
  • Crisps
  • Chips
  • Potato Soup
  • Smashed potato
  • Dill potatoes
  • Gnocchi
  • Potato Pasta
  • Potato Bread
  • Potato Pancake
  • Potato Salad
  • Potato Bakes (There are many varieties)
  • Cheesy Potatoes
  • Baked Potato
  • Roasted Potatoes with Spice
  • Hasselback Potatoes
  • Frittered Potatoes (or Homemade Hashbrowns)
  • Stuffed Potatoes
  • Potato Curry
  • Potato Muffins

The list is never ending, but the above recipes only call for a few ingredients. Speaking the truth, if you only have potatoes, butter or oil, salt, some herbs and maybe some cheese in your kitchen, it is possible to make at least half of the dishes on this list. This is why I like to have potatoes available in my home because it is really easy to make something, even when that feeling is that there isn’t so much food variety available in the cupboards, there is always what is needed to cook potatoes. Also, potato can be eaten raw if you are busy. I enjoy snacking on raw sliced potato when I am busy, although I admit that my husband is quite horrified by it.

Potato is also a filling and healthy food! I always eat less when I have potatoes. It is really filling for the appetite.

I would recommend, especially if you are currently living on a very small budget, to substitute some of your normal meals or ready foods which may cost more money, with potato dishes. The savings are such that it will be immediately noticeable on the food shopping bill.

Your Budget will thank you

-Mliae

My Year Long Shopping Ban Is Over! :)

I made it through the entire year, I cannot believe I was actually able to do it!

Last summer, I placed myself on a 1 year shopping ban. A shopping ban on un-necessary items like clothing, accessories, pretty things. I broke the ban in once occasion, about 6 months into the challenge. I purchased a dress for myself to wear to a friends birthday happening. (And I have worn it a lot afterwards) Otherwise, I have been very good!

When I began this challenge, I did not think I would be able to make it an entire year. I also imagined that I would find myself with a bit of extra pocket money that I could instead use towards my debts. I was surprised to find that I was incorrect about both.

I discovered that not purchasing did not leave me with the extra money I hoped would be there. This leads to me to question how I was able to shop before the ban. As many of you know, I do not have a wardrobe of many items. About 30 items.  So its not a situation where I am out shopping all the time. So that I can see, that there would not be so much money spent, to be saved during the ban. I was still not expecting to not have any money to show that I had not been spending.

Even I don’t shop so much, I wanted to so badly. Odd. I think maybe because I was telling myself that I couldn’t shop, that I felt like I was missing something and wanted to shop that much more.

I also realised something else, something I think is important. I got quite bored with my clothing. Sometimes because I was wearing the same items very frequently and most of them show the wear via holes, faded colours and just starting to look blaaahhhh. This made me want to shop. But then something strange happened. I found myself looking at new clothing that looked comfortable and heavily worn. Why? Wasn’t this what I was trying to get away from? I have been thinking about this for months. The only theory that seems logical is that I don’t actually hate my clothing, I hate the way I feel in them. I am still a bit overweight and for some reason, the self negativity comes out strongest when I see myself in the mirror. Even if I am wearing a beautiful dress, all I manage to see are the things I don’t like about my own image. I think many women have this same problem. So this is my lesson from this: I need to work on myself. I need to accept myself, be happy with myself. And maybe then, I can stop hoping that new clothes will make me feel better about myself and instead feel better about myself and that will make my worn and comfortable clothing look better!

How do you control your spending?

-Mliae

dresses, custom clothing, womens dresses,fashion, retro, fall, spring, fit and flare dresses, knit dresses

The Broke Bloggers Guide To Surviving Low Carb Diets

‘So here I am, again.’ I think to myself while standing in the food market. A vegetarian on a low carb diet, wondering what I am supposed to do. (OK, ok…before everyone corrects me – I do eat some fish – so I guess I’m a pescatarian (sp?) ) You see, I also tried the other low carb diets (in the peak of their popularity). And I realised during that time that a protein-rich diet was not for the weak of self control nor the light of wallet.  The diet didn’t last long, as my food servers budget was not enough to justify the expense. Healthy food is expensive! ( I am still trying to understand how a package of spaghetti noodles can cost more than 1 kg of wheat powder. I mean, not just the ingredients but the manufacturing process as well – and still less expensive? Can anyone explain this?!)

Let’s be honest here: Low carb diets are expensive! Not for everyone, sure. But for those of us who have to decide whether to eat steak and fish everyday OR keep the lights on (I hope you choose the lights!) navigating a low carb diet can be a delicate dance with your finances.  I am currently on another low-carb diet (1 of many throughout the years), and this time I have learned a few tricks to stretch my money further. BTW – I’ve managed to drop 6 kgs…Yay! So here are some of my money-saving tricks:

  • Establish a close friendship with eggs. I am not a huge egg fan, but I will tell you that this has been one of my biggest money savers. Eggs don’t cost so much, you can make them 100 different ways and they are filling. 1 3-egg veg omelet will carry me for most of the day without feeling very hungry.
  • Swap out your mayo and crème frâiche for unflavoured yoghurt instead. Unflavoured yoghurt is the food equivalent of multi-functional furniture. You can use it for everything! Dips, salad topping, creme sauce, a base for crème salads, a topping for eggs, and an after food delight mixed with your favourite fruit! Being able to have 1 staple that you can use in multiple ways, will save you money, stress AND its much healthier for you!
  • Try the canned options. I know, I sounds like a bit of a hypocrite here. But when you’re on a budget, eating fresh fish or lean cuts of meat just isn’t an option most of the time. Try canned tuna, or canned chicken if that’s your thing. Incorporating this into a salad is what I do, but there are also many different ways that these products can be incorporated into your daily diet. I mean, not every meal has to be instagram perfect…right?
  • Use filler. I’m using these yoghurt based tuna salads as an example, but these can be used in many different ways. For my salads, I use frozen peas and chopped celery. Both of these items are affordable and they can turn a 1-meal salad into a 2-meal salad. Ultimately reducing the money you spend on food. Same goes for stir-fry. If you add chopped cabbage, carrots and onion – it will create a larger amount of food with a lesser price. (Ever wonder why some restaurants load their food with cabbage? My theory is – that it’s to save money on the food)
  • Try surimi. This may depend on your location, but I have found that in many countries, surimi is very affordable. Not luxurious at all, but it will work as both a quick snack (you really can just eat them cold) as well as easily fried with a bit of lemon and sliced onion. Super easy, very affordable, a good option.
  • Broccoli? Yes, broccoli! Broccoli contains protein, as well as many nutrients and antioxidants which are vital for your health. Toss a handful into your eggs or stirfry, or just steam some to go with your main protein of choice. Frozen or fresh, select the most affordable.
  • Drink a lot of warm lemon water. The victorians used to drink tea to fill their stomachs in between meals. (Or at least that’s the working theory I have read.) But we’re talking super budget here. So forget the tea and grab a citrus fruit instead! 1 small slice can actually work well for a quite large teapot full of hot water. This combination is said to work well for the metabolism. It also keeps you feeling ‘full’ so you aren’t hungry constantly.
  • Grab that bag of mandarin’s instead! Mandarin’s are affordable, and research has shown that the family of fruits (orange, mandarin, satsuma) when eaten will quieten the craving for sugar. So if you’re staring at that chocolate bar, grab some mandarin instead. It costs less and will last you days longer.
  • Don’t feel pressured to purchase the specialty items. I have read everywhere that I need coconut oil, some kind of root powder, seed powder, special…. everything! Said items are also accompanied by a rather large price tag – one that could surely cover half your food shopping expenses. So just don’t do it. It really is not going to make such a big difference. You either lose the weight, or you don’t.
  • Step away from the protein bars! Protein bars and shakes are just…marketing, really. Yet another big price tag for an item that really doesn’t help so much and contains tons of sugars & preservatives.
  • Take it easy. You are not the only person trying to figure out how to make it all work. If you are stressing quite badly, just make yourself some popcorn, sit down, pig out and try to forget about the world for awhile!

I do hope at least some of these tips help you to save some money at the food market.  If you have any suggestions of your own to add to this list, please share them!

Thank you for reading!

-Mliae

Budget Travel Ideas to Help Your Money Take You Further! #travel

It’s the holiday season. While many stay home and celebrate with their families, this is also one of the busiest tourism seasons of the year. Traveling during this time of year will also gobble up your budget much quicker than traveling during other times of the year. I’m here to share a few tips and tricks to help you stretch your money a little bit further.

I am no expert. However, I have travelled quite a bit, even though I am by no means a wealthy woman. So I wanted to share with you my version of budget friendly travel. I promise, you won’t regret it!

  • Take a road/rail trip instead. Air travel is expensive, and it limits you (schedule, location). Take or rent an auto or take a train pass (Euro rail for non-Eu citizens is a great incentive!). You have the freedom to go wherever the wind carries you and you can always find your way back home! Not to mention, the scenery is magnificent!

sleeping in the car

*Ok, so sometimes you get to spend the night like this…but totally worth it if you get to see this ->!

Bavaria

*Am I right, or am I right?!

  • Make sure you have a good quality bag that you can easily carry with you. Please, take it from someone who has been there: When you find yourself in a situation where you are walking to your sleeping place, there is nothing worse than rolling a overstuffed cumbersome suitcase along a cobblestone road. Be practical! You don’t need much. Put it in a small overnighter that’s easy to carry. You’ll thank me later!
  • Always have water and some snacks with you. Even if its just a small water bottle and a couple protein bars – having these on hand will keep the hangry at bay so you can enjoy your day!
  • Consider Hostels. Oh, I know – the mere thought makes your skin crawl. But believe it or not, hostels can actually be really amazing! (Yes, some of them are…blech.) Many luxury hotels will lease out 1 floor of suites as hostels (Amsterdam), just to ensure that the hotel stays booked. Some places that don’t normally lease out at all will make their rooms available as hostels off-season (see the marble encased University dorm in Poland which leased out their rooms during the summer months.!) Also, Andorra has an incredible log-cabin luxury hotel which rents out some of their unbelievable suites as hostel rooms -at a hostel price!
  • Go with the flow! Allowing yourself to get stressed-out or overly adhered to your perceived schedule. Firstly, things will NEVER go according to plan. Secondly, you will happen upon the most memorable experiences when you least expect it. So, be open to change…welcome it!
    *Suffering a royal hangover, we walked around and discovered the Wielicki salt mines, a Unesco World Heritage site and thought ‘why not?’. It was a great day spent there and I will never forget what an incredible place it was!
  • Ask around where the locals go, and go there. You will find some of the most amazing food places, and even better – great prices! Also, leave your diet at home. It’s no fun traveling with someone who’s on some kooky weight loss regime where they can eat only raw meat, kale and walnuts – or whatever the latest fad is. Let loose and enjoy!

fish&chips.JPG

*Fish & Chips at Beshoff Bros

donuts

*The donuts in Dublin were the size of my face! I think you know we had to sample some of these beauties! 😉 (Nom nom nom!)

  • Make sure you are insured. Travel insurance isn’t tremendously expensive. But you will thank me for it if you fall ill!
  • Take the time to enjoy a local Brew. In some places, you will find yourself in an unbelievable setting. In others, you will realize that a local beer costs less than a canned soda! (Poland, I’m talking to you!)

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  • Be reasonable with your tourism. 5 star restaurant? I wouldn’t. Oldest Pub in the country? Yes, definitely!

Brazen-Head_ Irelands_Oldest_pub

  • Refrain from the souvenir hunt. I’ve watched people jump from store to store looking for junk and it just isn’t worth it. My policy is to purchase myself 1 item only, so I try to make it really special. A small something for family is ok too. But its a huge waste of money searching for cheap crap. I mean really, it’s most likely not even made in the country you’re visiting anyway!
  • Spend the day at museums! Many museums, including Natural history, are free in the EU. When we were in Ireland, we spent an entire day visiting museums and it cost us: ZERO! A great way to be a tourist on the cheap!

natural history.JPG

  • Check out the free attractions in the area you are visiting. Most places have a tourism office/website. They will usually list any public events/festivals/showings that are happening for free. Why not go out and do something fun? Public art/book/food festivals are great fun and you can’t beat the price!

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  • If you are really saving hard for a trip – especially a road trip – and every cent counts, try this tactic: Take 1 small envelope for every day that you plan to be away from home (including leaving and returning days). So, 14 days = 14 envelopes. Divide your funds evenly across each envelope and it will help you to see whether or not you actually have enough for the trip. The most affordable hostel I’ve ever stayed in was 20€ per night. Do some internet research, but make sure to leave some wiggle room, because sometimes they are full and you just have to manage other sleeping arrangements. Factor in food (market bought, or eating out), gasoline/train tickets, entrance fees to attractions (easily found online) and emergency coffee stops. You won’t need as much as you may think you do, if you just budget well. Good luck!

I hope that you have enjoyed this post as much as I’ve enjoyed making it!

-Mliae