A Day In The Life: November 2017

What do I do each day?

Asking myself that questions helps prevent me from taking on too much. I have a busy life, but it becomes so routine, I almost forget about it. It’s those times I reflect on my day-to-day life which reminds me of the things I do and gives me a sense of satisfaction when I wonder if I measure up.

Because what does that mean anyway? Who set the standard? Why are some people content with just being, taking up space and being quiet, when others are anxious and always looking for the next thing? I am much better with downtime, but also the greedy “you could do more” monster gets in my ear and I look for ways to do more.

It’s quite crazy because really that’s all it is, greed. Why do you have to do more? Why do you need to make more money? What is the real standard of living that you need? I’ve done a lot of thinking about the bare essentials I need to survive, and when I write it down, it’s not that much. All the other things do make me feel comfortable, but that is one zone I don’t want to be in too long.

Anyway, this is my day in the life, complete with food porn.

4:30AM – wake up and run

6:30AM – get to work and eat breakfast


7:00AM – begin work


11:00AM – eat lunch


3:30PM – end work and eat something, go to gym, get on the bike

4:30PM – walk home from the gym, shower, watch TV with Mark

6:00PM – eat dinner and read, work on the blog


7:30PM – eat dessert


8:00PM – listen to a podcast while I fall asleep

Anyone else a headlamp, early morning runner?

Budget Meal: Cinnamon Roll Slow Cooker Oats

I recently came across a really great oatmeal recipe that was too good not to share. I’ve been eating it all this week and I can tell you, I will be making it again when I can.

Oatmeal is probably my favorite fall and winter breakfast simply because it fills me up and tastes good. Nothing beats a cold run followed by a warm breakfast.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and immediately it drew my attention because it combines oatmeal and cinnamon rolls. It’s not simply oatmeal with some cinnamon in it, it has other ingredients that up the calorie and nutrient profile.

I was also attracted to it because I could make it in my slow cooker and it only took 2 hours. The problem I have with slow cooker meals sometimes is that I am not home to turn them off. Then they over-cook the food or in the case of oatmeal, I would need to get up at like 3AM to shut it off.

No thanks, not even for oatmeal.

I thought I would do the cost and calorie breakdown per serving for this recipe. I must confess that, as with most of my breakfasts, I added peanut butter on top when I ate it, so add 300 calories if you do that.

[picture from Moms With Crockpots]

2 Cups Oats (Aldi’s Rolled Oats: $1.13)
2 eggs, beaten (free from my family farm)
3 Cups Milk (Aldi’s Vanilla Silk Soy Milk: $1.19)
1/2 cup sugar (Aldi’s Brown Sugar: $0.14)
2 tbsp Baking Mix (Gluten free or regular) or All purpose flour (Aldi’s All-Purpose: $0.01)
1 tsp cinnamon (spice rack)**
1 tsp vanilla (spice rack)**

Total Cost: $2.47

Total Calorie (3-4 Servings): 1,489

**I consider these “freebies” because I do not buy spices often and buy them in bulk to have them on hand.

Have you ever made oatmeal in a crock-pot?

Weekly Breakfast Staple #1: Cereal with peanut butter and nuts

In addition to oatmeal, which I tabulated in a recent post, I frequently eat cereal in the mornings. It sounds boring and almost immature to me when people over the age of 19 used to say they still eat cereal, but I have come around.

Cereal is not just Lucky Charms and Cocoa Krispies anymore. There are so many great and nutrient dense choices these days and the best part, they are generic brand. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think spending over $3 for a box of cereal that lasts me three bowls is worth it.

Let’s talk nutrition first. Whole grain cereal with nuts is perfect for me when I get done with my morning run. It is hearty, goes down easily and quick to make. Whole grains have fiber, vitamins and minerals that are important for recovery but also because after breakfast I am onto the next activity, which requires energy. I add peanut butter first because I love it and second because I found it keeps me fuller longer. Combining carbohydrates with a fat helps them digest slower and provides sustained energy. I began adding walnuts on top after finding them in my pantry and remembering how much I love them. Walnuts are both delicious, and also stay crunchy after the milk has made the cereal soggy. Oh yea, they also have something called Omega-3s for your brain or whatever. Regardless, they take the cereal up a level in flavor town.

Now, let’s talk budget. Cereal is more pricey per calorie than oats or another slow cooking grain. It is not however more pricey than bread. The bread I’m talking about is not the dollar per loaf cheap bread. If I’ve learned anything from my time at CTB, it’s that higher quality bread, even full of gluten and carbohydrates, is better for your body. Ingredients matter even if you’re on a budget.

Back to cereal, my local grocer sells most of its generic brand at $1.69-$1.99 per box. Because I combine two cereals usually when I eat it, and I add nuts and peanut butter, I get more bowls per box. I will be honest, if I just ate the cereal with milk and that’s it, I would get at the most three breakfasts. By adding in healthy, higher calorie foods, I can justify spending $2 on a box of cereal when that $2 might go further in terms of oats or rice.

This is my favorite bowl of cereal, broken down cost and calories.


Whole Grain Cereal with Peanut Butter and Nuts

1 c Fiber Cereal (Wegmans Brand): $0.62

1/2 c Wheat Berries Cereal (Wegmans Brand): $0.31

2 T peanut butter (Skippy Super Chunk): $0.19

1/2 c walnuts (Aldi’s brand): $1.08

1/2 c almond milk (Almond Breeze brand): $0.21

Total Cost: $2.41

Total Calorie: 860 (my fitness pal)

On a different note, I’m starting to send out my newsletter again. Links and films I’ve consumed and also I want to give more budget tips. Should I do those in the newsletter and more what I eat in a day on the blog? Should I do the money part on the blog and then the calorie part in the newsletter?

Help me organize!

Athlete On A Budget

I really like saving money. I like finding deals or simply learning to live with less. One of my favorite ways to do this is with food and cooking. Once I learned how to cook and make a few cheap staples, I’ve been able to both save money, but also afford higher quality items, such as organic or specialty things.

I have always enjoyed reading posts about how to eat well and not spend an arm and a leg. These resources were great, but I found myself constantly adjusting the amounts and therefore cost, because I eat a lot more than the average person. I eat like an athlete, so I taught myself how to do that while still living a frugal life.

For example, a normal breakfast for the average person might total 500 calories are cost $1.00, say oatmeal with milk and maple syrup or honey and fruit. For me, I add a few tablespoons of peanut butter and nuts to get myself to around 1,000 calories. It sounds like a lot, but three table spoons of peanut butter is 500 calories and depending on brand of peanut butter only costs you $0.20-$0.40.

I thought when I actually looked at my spending and eating, it would be a lot harder to stick to my budget, however on the contrary, the most nutrient dense and calorically dense foods did not have to be expensive. It was when I added extras like pre-made granola, superfoods or things not in season where the money added up.

I want to look at my day, break down the costs, calories and actually show how I eat like a plant based athlete on a budget.

I work at a job that takes care of my lunches and a snack or two, which is a huge benefit. However, when I am not at work, I eat mostly like what I would have for dinner, so the price is comparable. The following is what I eat in an average day, followed by the cost breakdown for my breakfast and dinner, which I eat quite a lot of when it gets cold.

Breakfast: oatmeal, peanut butter, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, banana

1/2 cup oatmeal (Wegmans bulk, organic): $0.62

3 T peanut butter (Skippy brand): $0.26

2 T walnuts (Aldi’s): $0.20

1 T pumpkin seeds (Wegman’s bulk, organic): $0.21

1 banana (brown from CTB, but let’s say Wegman’s organic for argument sake): $0.23

Total cost: $1.52

Total calorie: 1,052 (using my fitness pal app)


Lunch: Hummus, sprouts, tomato, lettuce, parsley garlic dressing on sourdough bread, small soup, pickles


Snack: smoothie with spinach, peanut butter, chocolate protein powder, banana, milk, ice


Dinner: oatmeal with peanut butter, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds and blueberries, veggies with yogurt dip

Snack: chocolate ginger brownie


Through the day I drink water and coffee. Sometimes I have juice or kombucha if I have a longer run or workout that day or if I want it or it’s free (were throwing it away because it’s expired).

I would like to do more breakdowns of my daily eats as an athlete on a budget. It is as enlightening for me as it might be fun to read. I have realized that if I am smart with my purchases, I can afford to buy my groceries from my organic co-op, which I would like to do more often.

A few tips just in the beginning which as you’ll see, I use frequently:

– Cook beans with some sort of fat, or add it afterwards

– Use peanut butter willingly as it’s the cheapest nut butter

– Season rice as you cook it

– Bananas are the highest calorie and cheapest fruit, they also act as a natural sweetener

– Eggs should always be free-range, cage-free and organic, ideally local, they are cheap protein and fat but should be used sparingly as they are not as ethical or environmental as beans or nuts

Is this something you would like to see more of?

Would you prefer the meal breakdown or a grocery list?

Would you like both organic and regular prices?

Recent Eats August 2017

I really love to cook. Honestly I don’t even care if what comes out is particularly spectacular, it just makes me feel so relaxed to get in the kitchen. Since moving back to Ithaca and having a larger space to work with, it has been a great joy to actually bust out the Pinterest recipe boards and get my hands messy.

I’ve attempted a few new things over the past month, and thought I’d share them, along with some other sandwich porn from my lunches at CTB.

First and foremost, I made seitan!!! This was a the biggest accomplishment for the summer. It seemed like such a daunting task, but once I got the ingredients and started, it was quite like baking bread. I used this recipe, but cooked it for 90 minutes, wrapped in in foil and added some liquid smoke.


I made Mac and Cheese from The Skeptical Vegan cookbook after finally getting my hands on my friend Eric’s book. I was also fortunate to go to his first book signing at Buffalo Street Books here in Ithaca, where I tried some more Miyoko’s vegan cheese and met the Susie of Susie’s Seitan, a local Ithaca company. The cheese sauce is based from milk, Daiya cheddar and Toffuti cream cheese. It was tasty, but I can see why, after purchasing these ingredients, people think going vegan is expensive. Certainly a treat for my parent’s and me.


I finally started making waffles again after a few month lay-off. My mom bought me a mix a while back (the name of the mix escapes me) but all you do it add water and cook it. It’s actually a pancake mix, so I adjusted the amount of liquid to mix a bit, and used milk instead of water.


The other night I got a craving for baked beans. I really love them (my mom has the best recipe!) and actually will eat Bush’s baked beans out of the can. I was of course on Pinterest that morning, so I made some of my own. Pretty simple and although not exactly like my mom’s, but good enough for me.


For a long while now, on my baking bucket list was Pop-tarts. I don’t know why, but I just wanted to make them. I didn’t even like them overly when I was a kid, they were good, but nothing I looked forward to. Well, I had this great idea to use my mom’s pie crust recipe (only 4 ingredients, but the best thing ever!) for the pastry part of the tarts. So I borrowed that, and made the dough alright…but struggled with the rolling out part. We don’t have a rolling pin, so I tried to use a wine bottle and it just didn’t work.


I ended up with three ugly Pop-tarts filled with strawberry jam. Not one to waste the rest of the dough, I made mini-tarts using cupcake tins. I filled half of those with s’mores peanut butter and the other half with almond butter and jelly. Lesley loved the s’mores ones. I enjoyed the almond butter and jelly, they just needed more jelly, which I added after the fact.


I’ve been having fun making my own sauces after I remembered to buy dressing bottles. It’s so much easier to use them! I made cheese sauce using carrots and nutritional yeast, which paired lovely with my spiral pasta. I think I like my homemade cheese sauce more than making it out of Daiya and Toffuti.


Alright and now for some CTB sandwich porn. I tried Foccacia bread for the first time last week and OH MY STARS, what a treat! It’s basically a lighter bread made with rosemary and saturated with olive oil. It was very tasty even if my hands were a mess afterwards. On this sandwich I had avocado, veggies and one of the sauces I had made (I call it Moo-Shoo sauce…but that doesn’t really tell you much about it haha)


When the Ciabatta bread is perfectly baked in the morning, I usually have my lunch on that. This sandwich is Ciabatta, chive Toffuti, hummus, lettuce, tomato and sprouts.


Pumpernickel bread smells so good to me, yet I forget about it a lot because when I am looking at the bread, it is kind of hidden underneath one of the bagel bins. This sandwich definitely has a great hummus to bread ratio wouldn’t you say?


Then I must end this food filled post with a simple lemon-blueberry scone. Extra butter, and a coffee. A perfect breakfast watching the sun rise.


In September, I have a few things I plan to make:

Salted Caramel Brownies

A different kind of Seitan

Sausage Biscuits and Gravy

Pretzel Granola Bars

Looks like a great start to fall!