Food & Life Lessons in Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, we can only eat things that come from grocery stores. No eating out for us. When I tell you we are broke, believe it, we are BROKE. More on that later. The point is, that our lives basically revolve around food here. Because we don’t have much coin, we are constantly trying to figure out cheap ways to stretch our budget and not get bored with our food options. This creative budgeting has led us down some good and bad roads with respect to food options.

When we shop, we are looking for specific things:

1) Breakfast foods – Breakfast foods are important to us here because it is the biggest meal of the day and the only one we are together for. There are a few staples that we always buy for breakfast. We have to buy bread, tofu, potatoes, cheese, flour (for pancakes or biscuits), sometimes Facon, coffee and sometimes avocadoes. We then just kind of switch it up. It has to be a stick-to-your-ribs filling meal. (Yes we’re getting sick of breakfast.)

2) Lunch foods – We always pack lunches, no eating out. Typically we have PB&J for lunch or maybe Tofurkey on bread. Then we need a side which is usually some kind of chips. If we have a little spare cash, we buy fruit or cookies.

3) Dinner foods – Kristyn usually eats her lunch for dinner since she works at night. I usually just give her two sandwiches to take with her in case she gets hungry. In fact, we’ve gotten in the habit of carrying two PB&Js (each) with us if we know we’re going to be out of the house for long. Betta safe than sorry. I usually eat a veggie sausage patty with bread and either veggie baked beans or potatoes.

4) “Weekend” dinner foods – When we are together, we try to cook larger dinners. We buy a lot of veggie sausage patties because those can be eaten for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner with a little creativity. We also buy Veggie Burgers and sometimes Chick Patties. Then we can usually make a few different meals. We are also big on pasta here. We make some Penne with Mushroom Tomato Sauce, add some spinach, biscuits from scratch and we have dinner. Another find is Betty Crocker Pizza Crust. It’s “Just Add Water” and costs like $1.02 at Target. We always have Mozzarella Cheese on hand because it’s good for pizza, quesadillas and on tofu scramble (to kind of hold it together). We also always have Sauce on hand for pasta or pizza. I’ve also gotten into making pizza on toast lately. Good times. Oh another staple (as I stated in “Breakfast foods” is potatoes. We buy a ten pound bag of potatoes and just eat them all week. Home fries style for breakfast (and sometimes dinner), mashed for dinner.

Guys, moving here has NOT been easy. In NJ, we didn’t think twice about where we were going to get our next meal. In LA, we are always on the brink of disaster. I know that sounds grim (and sometimes it is) but I read a blog post today about a girl who moved to New Zealand from Canada. She wrote a very honest post about how difficult it was to do it and I admired her honesty. I figured it was time I gave you guys a real taste of what it is to do what we did. I’m not complaining, this is what we wanted to do. But it is not as easy as it sometimes seems. We’re just not really complainers so we might be giving the impression that everything is fantastic. It is but it is also really hard. This entire experience has really taught us both the value of a single dollar and has made us even more grateful for everything we have. Hopefully when we go back to having a stable personal economy, we will keep that lesson in mind and remember to say, “Do I really need that?” like we do now.

And I know that the foods I’ve pictured seem good but thats ALL we eat an ALL we do: Food shop, cook, clean. Our first priority is rent. Second is food for us and the animals. Third is utilities and phones. Fourth is the car. And everything after that is bills that are up to up to chance. And entertainment/clothes/tchotchkes don’t even make the list. They’re so far down the list that we can’t even see them from here. Once we can get me into a stable job, we can pay down some of our debt and then maybe go to the movies or something haha. Until then, “constant vigilance” is the phrase of the day. *sigh*

Anyway, in case you ever want to do this type of thing, know it’s way harder than you think. Know that it costs more dough than you think. Know that you will have to do without for a long time. Know that it will pay off in other ways. If we are ever talking about something in our lives that is exciting, please note that the excitement is real and not bragging. When you live as close to the edge as we have been living, it’s nice to have something exciting happen once in a while. :)

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