Today I introduce my dear blogger friend, Laura who blogs at The Gluten Free Treadmill. She is a vegan foodie, feminist, ultrarunner, marathoner, and PhD student. Her blog is a great venture into running, vegan cooking, traveling and life! These are her excerpts. She talks about eating raw, cooking root vegetables, detox diets, food related stigmas and myths and facts, being attaining a wholesome view of life. When I come across her posts where she states that she ran for 15 mingles today and one time even 20 some miles…I was stuck in awe of this lady. She just inspires me to be a healthy and a balanced person. Her honesty is evident on her face. I admire her work and look forward to the simple, honest, peek into the life posts which inspire me to better organize myself and get some clarity.
Now off to Laura, as she says it!
Hello there! My name is Laura, and I blog at The Gluten-Free Treadmill. I was honored when Sonal asked me to write a guest post for her. She always has the most delicious recipes and her photography is beautiful. As a full-time doctoral student and a vegan ultrarunner, I have a very full life, but those three things in combination creates some challenges, most of them related to money!
I have some support from my doctoral program and work as a research assistant, but as you can imagine, there isn’t much money flowing into my accounts these days. It’s a juggling act some months, but most of the time I’m able to maintain all three of my loves (school, vegans eats, and ultrarunning) on a very tight budget! Here are a few of my tips and tricks that keep me on my budget and allows me to do all the running, fueled by delicious vegan eats, that I want!
- Meal planning for the win! Every single week, I sit down on Sunday and plan my eats for the upcoming week. I go into extreme detail – for example, a sample meal might look like this:
Breakfast: Coffee, 1 serving of soymilk, green smoothie (1 banana, 1 T raw almond butter, 1 c almond milk, cinnamon, 2 cups spinach), 1 Pure Organic Bar (during run)
After making this list, I check it against my fridge and pantry, highlighting what I already have.
From there, I…
- Make a grocery list. And stick to it. Nothing busts my budget more than going off my list and buying what “looks good.” Sometimes I allow for flexibility in produce to buy what is seasonal and organic at my coop, but in those cases, I’ll set a dollar amount (i.e $5 on fruit).
Grocery shop once per week. Yep. I only visit the grocery store once in a week. This allows me to ensure I stick to my grocery budget (which is $30-$40 a week) and allows me to get fresh produce. If I find that I forgot something, I make do without it, or go to the pantry (stocked with beans, canned tomatoes, and grains and make an easy rice bowl or soup instead). Emergency trips to the grocery store always result in a budget-busting week.
Shop with cash. I go into the grocery store with cash only. I don’t even bring a card. This literally forces me to stay within my budget. It’s tough sometimes, but it works!
Buy organic, sometimes. I use the Dirty Dozen list to buy organic only when necessary. This means that I buy conventional bananas (organic is expensive) and organic when I can. By following this list, I’m easily able to eat a vegan diet filled with fresh veggies.
Stock up on essentials. Of course I mean pantry staples, which I buy in bulk, but I also am referring to my vegan bars that I use during my runs. I buy most of those through Swanson Health Products and and Amazon and save upwards of $1 per bar. This way I get my Pure Organic Bars at must better price than if I were buying them individually. I’ve also started making my own bars (most are raw, all are vegan and gluten-free) which you can see at my blog!
Never let produce go to waste. When I was a corporate gal, I’m ashamed to admit that I routinely threw away produce that I left in my fridge too long. I never let that happen now, even if that means eating a giant salad of almost-finished raw veg. I’ve also found that vegan minestrone is a great platform for almost any vegetable, and I’ll make a soup at the end of the week with any veggies left over.
Fuel naturally. This goes along with #6, but I don’t eat a lot of fancy gels or electrolyte drinks. I’ve found that I fuel just fine with good ole’ regular food. I love a giant green smoothie after a run (and before), and a banana is better than a gel any day of the week! Oh, and more affordable too of course!
Use your local co-op, CSA, and Farmer’s Markets. I am always amazed when I come home from the Farmer’s Market having spent a fraction of what I’d spend at the grocery store, with delicious, fresh and local produce. I’ve learned too that these farmer’s often can’t afford the “organic” label, so just ask them if they use organic methods – they are usually happy to discuss their farming methods and you also help the environment by reducing the environmental footprint that transporting produce across a country (or over an ocean) creates.
Buy what’s in season. Other than bananas, which I eat year-round, I buy what’s in season. My local co-op makes that easy for me, as they label what is local. If it’s local, it’s in season, and it is usually more affordable. Plus, the local, seasonal produce just tastes so much better.
Some of these tips seem tough – and they are, but it’s worth it to be able to maintain a vegan diet and still make it out the door for class and some pretty lengthy runs!
What are your tips for living on a budget?