‘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 Atkins diet (in the peak of its popularity). And I realised during that time that a protein-rich diet was not for the weak of heart 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!
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!
*Ok, so sometimes you get to spend the night like this…but totally worth it if you get to see this ->!
*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 at Beshoff Bros
*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!)
Be reasonable with your tourism. 5 star restaurant? I wouldn’t. Oldest Pub in the country? Yes, definitely!
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!
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!
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!