Reason for Being

by Fresh and Frugal

WatermelonWhen I was little, my mom said that no matter what time it is, no matter how old I get or what’s going on, she will never say no to books or fruit. Here I am roughly 20 years later, kicking off graduate school as an Art History and Archaeology student and trying my best to curb my raging passion for food.  Armed with the second camera I’ve ever owned (I can’t even change the lenses, but I’m saving money for that!), the camera on my phone (only for the most dire situations), and my shiny little laptop, I am prepared to boldly blaze my own trail into the dense forest of food blogs. Bet mom never imagined just how far that sentiment would take me.

Roasted tomatoes, black beans and chick peas

I always just assumed (you know what they say about assuming) that I think the way a fat person must think: food food food food food. From the moment I wake up, I’m wondering what I’m going to make for breakfast. When I finish breakfast, I wonder what delicious delicacy I can whip together for lunch. When lunch is over, it’s on to dinner and sometimes (if I have the energy) I even wonder what’s for dessert. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the simplicity of buying ready-to-snarf ice cream, but what I really want is to make something out of nothing — something delicious. Lucky for me, I’m already halfway there: I’ve got nothing.

Peach Bourbon Crumble

This is, I suppose, my schtick. One of my best friends, Caitlin, introduced me to my newest (and perhaps strongest) addiction: food blogs made by foodies for foodies. I sprinted through that Smitten Kitchen and plumbed the depths of The Kitchen Sink. From Asparagus to Zucchini, I drool and pine. I am, however, stuck behind a glass window when it comes to one ridiculous restraint: budget. I cannot afford to even buy the creamiest of the cream of the crop from Whole Foods. Even a good deal of the farmer’s markets out here are rather expensive, as are, it seems, some of the most “thrifty” supermarkets.

BBQ sauces at Schnuck's in Evansville, IN

I’m sure some of you are shouting at the screen, “why don’t you just make a few trips to different places, buy the cheapest food at each place?!” Here’s why: I have little to no self-control. While shopping at Pathmark, I’ll pass (lets say) a sale on starfruit, and pick up a large-ish fruit. Then I’ll pass another sale and pick up one discounted avocado. There, that’s good. Two special things to save for those nights when I’m feeling a little down and need a pick-me-up, and I can now safely make it out of that store without adding a slab of chocolate or slightly saggy croissants to my haul, especially with those two special sale pieces staring up at me from the basket of the cart. That happens at each place I shop for food. See the problem?

So here I am, buzzing along with my modest (at best) paycheck, trying to make ends meet in Philadelphia. Despite my best efforts as a (mostly) Midwesterner to make the absolute best of nearly everything, I’m not going to lie. The people are rude. Everyone runs around in circles, worrying about their own little problems, stuck in traffic in a city where things that should only take an hour actually take 4. Tip: be nice to people. Believe it or not, if everyone would just be nice to one another, everyone would be so much happier. This isn’t to say that everyone makes me miserable, here. Most of the people I work with are absolutely fantastic — especially John (one of my bosses). The rest of the city can just be frustrating, though: When I have the time to do something cool, I don’t have the money, and when I have a few spare bucks, I pour it into a special food purchase to use in a special dish (as opposed to an evening of drunken revelry and misplaced memories).

Menage a Trois Chardonnay

So there you have it: A single girl (and her cat) trying to lead a healthy and interesting yet frugal lifestyle in The City of Brotherly Love while also studiously striving for an archaeological degree. So take a test drive, and please feel free to leave suggestions or questions.  Here we go!