My dad didn’t believe in credit cards. He was a cash guy, always and forever. He traveled with dollar bills strapped to his ankles and stashed under his cowboy boots; this was his normal.
When I was a teenager, he made me keep $60 in my wallet at all times, “just in case.” On a few occasions, I spent said money on clothes (as any 16-year-old might) and he lectured me about the irresponsibility of not having cash on hand.
Fast-forward nine years and things have changed. My slim wallet currently contains 72 cents, a debit card and a credit card. Now I’m a registered dietitian who works at Middleberg Nutrition, a private practice in Manhattan on 56th Street between Park and Lexington Ave. Most of my money these days is spent on food. Though I like to look nice while discussing food, I’d rather put that $60 in cash toward organic produce than a fancy dress. I covet Vitamixes now, not trendy handbags.
I live with my dog, Charlie, and my partner, Jordan. I am the primary grocery store shopper in my household and 99% of my shopping is done at the Park Slope Food Coop. I guess you could say I’m one of those “crunchy granola Brooklynites.” Here’s a week of my receipts as proof:
This was a pretty standard shopping day for me. I go veggie-heavy when I’m grocery shopping and I look for products with minimal packaging. I also choose one to two proteins that can be stretched throughout the week (like ground turkey, chicken or eggs). 70% of the produce at the Coop is local and it all looked so good today.
Splitting groceries with my partner is very convenient and if you factor the total out over the week, it brings our meal totals to less than $15/day per person. A random Amazon purchase like today’s dog food and beeswax food savers usually gets made every week. Let’s hope this is the only one.
I didn’t spend a dime until 5:48 PM. I had overnight oats for breakfast and a big-ass homemade salad with Safe Catch Wild Tuna for lunch.
I used to go out to dinner all. of. the. time. NY Eater’s “Heat Maps” were my bible. When I was in college, I would drop money at Whole Foods and then barely use half of my groceries. (I will shamefully admit that I was a big food waster.)
These days, I save my dinners out for the weekend (or if my best friend is in town from LA, as was the case here). It’s rare that I don’t use all my groceries, and on the off chance I don’t use something, I save it to be composted. (I really am “crunchy granola.”) My $34.39 dinner could have been spent at a tastier spot, but tonight it was all about the company.
This is a pretty normal day for me. I ate a makeshift breakfast today. (It was a little bit of everything, including an almond breakfast cookies from Clean Eating Magazine, which was amazing. Here’s the recipe.)
I had to do some recipe testing at the office so I snacked for an hour, then came home and made a little salad for lunch. Dinner was organic chicken breast plus roasted asparagus and fennel. Here’s how to make it:
Marinate a chicken breast (or two to three chicken breasts if you want to have more for later) in balsamic vinegar, avocado oil, salt, pepper, Italian spices for at least 30 minutes. Place the chicken on a baking sheet and roast at 400F for 25 minutes, flipping halfway. Midway through the chicken’s cooking, put the veggies on a tray, spray them with avocado oil and sprinkle them with pepper. Let those roast for the next 12.5 minutes.
While the chicken and veggies were roasting, I meal-prepped some mini egg frittatas. (Whisk together six eggs, add in any veggies you have and then pour into muffin tins; this makes six muffins. Place them in the oven at 350F for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Store in tupperware for up to four days, and when you’re ready to eat, either microwave for one to two minutes, or reheat for five minutes in the toaster oven.) I will get three breakfasts out of this little recipe and each muffin costs about $2.00. I have early clients tomorrow and won’t have time to make a smoothie, so 25 minutes of my time to save myself $11.00 on a smoothie seems reasonable.
On a shittier note, my dog may or may not have fleas. 🤔😷🐶
I made coffee at home and brought breakfast (egg muffins) to the office. For lunch I ate leftover chicken and roasted veggies over spinach. For dinner I ate the rest of the leftover chicken and avocado in a Siete Tortilla with a side of — you guessed it — roasted veggies.
If you are wondering WTF a Siete Tortilla is, it is a grain-free, corn-free tortilla and it is delicious AF.
I don’t usually get massages midday on a Friday but I was feeling super sick today so I hit up one of Park Slope’s best-kept secrets: Sunshine Best Body Work. Their acupressure massages are cheap and more torture than luxury but I always walk out of there feeling like a new human.
For breakfast I ate another egg muffin and a homemade smoothie. Lunch was bone broth and avocado. For dinner: Turkey tacos. I also finished up the rest of those roasted veggies.
While waiting for the check at dinner I looked at my girlfriend and was like, Shit, I love this human; I am going to buy her dinner.
I ate breakfast and lunch at home and I made homemade chocolate bark today. Here’s how: Mix 1/4 cup melted coconut oil with 1/4 cup cacao powder. Add in dash of cinnamon and sprinkle of sea salt. (I added in crushed almonds for some crunch.) Then pour onto parchment paper and freeze.
I ate breakfast and dinner plus a snack (Wasa crackers and turmeric hummus) at home. My girlfriend paid for lunch. For dinner, I made a makeshift taco bowl (spinach on the bottom, roasted veggies, turkey meat, avocado, sauerkraut and salsa.
Today was another no-spend day! I made my own lunch (eggs and avocado) and dinner (a big salad). For breakfast, I made a smoothie bowl. This recipe serves two!
– 2.5 cups unsweetened almond milk (pour this in first)
– 2 cups frozen kale
– 1/2 frozen banana
– 1/4 cup frozen blackberries
– 1/2 cup frozen zucchini
– Optional: Protein powder (I added Vital Proteins)
– 1 tbsp. Chia seeds.
– Any other toppings (I added shaved coconut, sunflower seeds and almonds)
You may have to blend a few times to get to your desired consistency.
Keeping track of my spending while writing down my meals every day was definitely interesting. I ask all of my clients keep a food journal and then I review it in-between sessions so it was cool to be on the other side of journaling. I think 16-year-old me would balk at how I spend my money in NYC but adult me is pretty pleased with the total. My weekends are lamer than they once were but I’ll take a simple burger and a movie over standing on a couch at the club any day. And hey, if most of my money goes toward quality food that nourishes me and supports small farmers, I’ll take it.
My dad, who sadly passed away two years ago, used to mock me for going food shopping in my free time. I think he would be happy to know that not much has changed without him — and then he’d lecture me for this cashless life I have since adopted.
Photo by Madeline Montoya.