Tag Archives: money

Grocery Shopping vs. Eating Out vs. Meal-Kit Delivery: What Are the Financial Differences?

Here are the financial differences between grocery shopping, eating out, and using a meal-kit delivery service.

If you’re like me, you need to eat roughly every 3 hours to avoid getting hangry and becoming an absolute nightmare to be around (that and some form of caffeine throughout the day). You probably also want to eat healthier, more wholesome meals. Your options are making your own meal plan, buying all of your groceries yourself, and large batch prepping your meals in advance to eat throughout the week, going to a restaurant/cafe/diner, or using a meal kit delivery service. Here’s how the three stack up using the following meal (taken from HelloFresh’s website):

HelloFresh
Honey Ginger Glazed Chicken

Honey Glazed Chicken Teriyaki over Rice with Sugar Snap Peas (2 servings)
12 oz. antibiotic free, free range Chicken Breast
1 cup of basmati rice
6 oz of sugar snap peas
1 thumb of ginger
1 lime
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Grocery Shopping = $14.5

While you have to spend $13.02 to make this meal by getting the ingredients yourself from the grocery store, the advantage is you can buy these ingredients in larger quantities driving the overall cost down. This is a good option if you plan on having this meal several times throughout the week instead of just once. This is what each ingredient costs, having gotten most of the options on sale:
Chicken Breast: $2.25
Rice: $1.49
Sugar Snap Peas $3.36($0.56/oz)
Ginger: $0.30
Garlic: $0.25
1 lime: $0.40
White Wine Vinegar: $1.49
Honey: $1.99
Soy Sauce: $1.79.
Olive Oil: assume I have this at home.

The benefits of grocery shopping
+ This meal comes out to $13.32 pre-tax (about $14.5 after tax), for both servings ($7.25/serving).
+ You can add/omit ingredients, customizing the recipe however you want and personally selecting each ingredient.

The disadvantages of grocery shopping
+ You wouldn’t just go to the grocery store for this one meal, you would probably go and get everything you need for the week, spending 90 minutes door to door.
+ You have to hope that this grocery store has everything you need for your recipes, otherwise you have to go to more than one grocery store to get what you need.

8 Ways to Save Hundreds on Groceries

How to Meal Prep Like A Pro

Eating Out at a Restaurant/Cafe = $38.63

To get this near $39 valuation, I looked at the cost of similar entrees at several restaurants in my area, and by the area where I work. This may or may not be accurate in your area, since I’m basing my results off of NY and Manhattan prices, which are generally pretty high. Here’s how I came to this valuation:

Person 1: $15
Person 2: $15
Tip: $6 (20%)
Tax: $2.63 (tax is 8.75% in NY)
Total: $38.63

The post-tip and post-tax total is $19.32 per serving.

Benefits of Eating Out
+ Little to no work on your part.
+ Show up, eat, pay, leave.
+ No cooking, no cleaning, no grocery shopping.

Disadvantages of Eating Out
+ More than 2x as expensive as making it yourself.
+ No control over ingredient quality or nutritional content.
+ You do need to commute to the restaurant.

Meal-Kit Delivery Service = $23 (HelloFresh)

HelloFresh Review

The $23 valuation for this option comes directly from HelloFresh’s website, at $11.50/person for one meal for two people. Similar to grocery shopping, the more you buy the more you save with the difference being that you typically don’t have any left over ingredients. Comparable companies like Blue Apron, Plated, and Home Chef cost roughly the same so give or take a few dollars if you use one of them instead of HelloFresh.

Benefits of Meal-Kit Delivery
+ No grocery shopping, saving 90+ minutes not including unpacking and storing ingredients.
+ No food waste.
+ Costs about 40% less than eating out.

Disadvantages of Meal-Kit Delivery
+ Rarely leftovers since the meals are designed for a specific number of servings.
+ You’ll still have to grocery shop for basics since it doesn’t cover breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
+ Costs more than buying all of the ingredients yourself, assuming you can get most of them on sale and don’t care about eating regionally sourced, typically higher quality ingredients.

In the end…

My opinion has always been this: I love cooking, I don’t mind the process of cooking or clean-up, and I love trying new things. I also always tend to put my finances first though so I rarely ever order food from restaurants or stop to pick-up breakfast or lunch on my way to work. IF I was regularly going out to dinner on weekends, I would probably use a meal-kit delivery service because I look cooking and it would save me 40% of my money. Eating at home and entertaining are also a more fun, intimate experience.

I eat 5-6 meals per day and simply could not afford to only eat out or to only use a meal-kit delivery service, so grocery shopping for staple ingredients in my diet (eggs, yogurt, grains, fruit, meat, vegetables) would still have to be my primary way of stocking my fridge.

8 Ways to Save Hundreds on Groceries

Save hundreds of dollars on groceries by following these 8 tips

Does your checkout total surprise you every week at the grocery store? Put yourself in control of your financial and physical health by knowing what to buy, how to buy, when to buy and where to buy. Check out these 8 ways to save on groceries:

How Meal Prepping Can Save You Thousands

 

1. Shop the perimeter

90% of your grocery shopping should be done around the perimeter of the aisles with the exception being for toiletries, paper plates/towels, etc. Reason being, the perimeter is made up of whole foods like yogurt, eggs, meat, cheese, milk, fruits, bread and vegetables. This should make up 90% of your cart every time.

The 80/20 Diet Rule

2. Buy in season

Buy your favorite fruits and vegetables in their prime season. The best way to stay on top of this is to adjust your recipes to match the seasonal harvest.

3. Buy what you can in bulk

For dry foods you may even be able to do this online. If you’re going to eat oatmeal for breakfast most mornings then consider ordering it in bulk or larger than normal quantities to cut costs in the long run.

How to Meal Prep Like a Pro

4. Keep an eye out for surpluses

When I was 15 I used to work at a farmer’s market. I remember one season we had huge, overgrown cauliflower for nearly 1/2 price that grew up to 10-11 lbs. Keep an eye out for a surplus in groceries like eggs, fruits and vegetables that might cut costs down significantly, and then take advantage of those savings. These surpluses can generally save you 25-50% off or more!

5. Buy on sale

Doesn’t get much easier than this. Keep an eye out for good deals on foods you would get regularly. Every aisle generally has sales ranging from 5% to 50% off. If you’re able to buy most of your products on sale, even if it’s only 5%, those savings could add up to several hundred dollars by the end of the year.

6. Go in with a budget in mind

If you know you spend $100/week on groceries, then plan on making that your absolute maximum. Buying on sale, in season and in bulk will help keep your costs under that $100/week limit. Try to cut that number to $95/week and that $5 weekly savings will add up to $260 per year!

7. Hunt for promos/coupons

Using online promo codes or coupons is a tried and true way to save tens of dollars per week on groceries. If you save only $10/week by doing this you’ll save $520 by the end of the year!

8. Join a rewards program

Some, if not most, grocery stores offer rewards programs to incentivize shopping exclusively at their store. Stop & Shop converts shopping “points” to gas savings. I’ve had clients that have saved hundreds of dollars on gas by using rewards points to get $0.1, $.25, or $.50 off each gallon of gas.

I hope you found this helpful and you find creative ways to save money while living healthy and fit!

5 Keys to Branding Yourself for Success

U R A Brand by Catherine Kaputa is a great business book that applies to everyone, whether you’re an entrepreneur or just looking for the next step in your career. She goes over how smart people brand themselves to get an edge on their competition. An employer probably gets over 100+ applications after posting an open position on a job board. How do you stand out from the rest of those applicants…or do you try to blend in? Blending in might work at first but essentially it makes you a commodity; disposable. You need to build as much value as possible to be competitive. Check out what Catherine Kaputa recommends:

1. Think Different

Study your competition but don’t imitate them. Study what makes them successful or unsuccessful. Think about what you like about their brand and what you dislike; adopt the positive attributes and avoid adopting the negative attributes. Think about what makes you unique and different from the herd and expand on that. If you appear to be the same as all of your competition, then you’re a commodity in the market place.
2. Look for the “Sweet Spot”: Where a Good Idea and Market Needs Meet

Supply and demand is the name of the game. “If you don’t stand for something relevant to the marketplace, you have no value” -Kaputa. Look for a spot where there are few or no competitors, uncover your hidden assets and then determine where there is a need and hit it hard.

3. Choose a Strategy

You need a strategy that gives people a reason for choosing you over your competitor.  There are 10 self-brand strategies you can use to get great results.
1. Be the first
2. Be the leader
3. Take the anti-leader position (go against the grain, think Michael Moore)
4. Own an attribute
5. Use a “magic ingredient” or invent a new process
6. Be an expert
7. Be preferred
8. Set a high price tag (a risky move if you don’t have the skill or experience to justify it)
9. Use your special heritage
10. Own a cause

4. Develop Your Visual Identity

The way you look can influence the perspective of others and often leaves a lasting impact. Who would you trust more, a doctor in ripped jeans, a dirty shirt, and messy hair who smells like cigarettes or a clean cut, well groomed doctor in a lab coat? Think about using one or more of these guidelines to brand your image: clothes, a signature item, a different look that still looks the part, a signature hair style (think Donald Trump), a consistent look, a signature color theme, have a strong presence, leverage your height (think Shaq and Kevin Hart), and staying relevant.

5. Think in Terms of Emotional Engagement

“We form the strongest bonds with the brands we like, identify with, and feel emotionally connected with…”- Kaputa. Think about what the market wants or needs and build an emotional engagement between that and your brand. This reminds me of the Texting and Driving commercials. These work off of a huge emotional response when we see young adults, children, and new parents going about their lives one minute and the next minute they’re involved in a massive, life altering collision. These tear-inducing commercials build a strong emotional engagement with their audience because they relate to anybody who has a car and a phone…which is virtually everyone.

 

IMG_2636

 

Check out my Instagram and see what I’m doing differently to brand myself. If you don’t see anything, tell me what you think I should to differently!

Like my Facebook page and of course, like and share this post!

Budgeting Your Supplement Plan

You just enrolled in a gym membership, bought some new workout gear, invested in a Personal Trainer or started a workout program, and you’re mentally committed to eating clean. What next? It’s time to look for some supplements to help you hit your goals faster. One small problem though, there are billions of brands and products, which ones should you buy? For this beginner’s guide, we’re only going to use the very basic supplements that you’ll want to consider and we’re going to do it on a budget.

1) Whey Protein
– Take 1 serving after your workout or consume it as a meal replacement.

Whey protein is a fundamental muscle building supplement that you should have in your plan. I only buy my whey protein from reputable sports nutrition brands like Optimum Nutrition, Muscle Pharm, BPI and Scivation. You can find these brands on amazon, bodybuilding.com and some are even in CostCo. Generally, the brands that I mentioned offer a variety of flavors anywhere from your basic chocolate and vanilla, to more exciting flavors like cinnamon roll, red velvet cake and s’mores! I typically stick to the basics, but you can use the more exciting flavors for baking high protein foods as well as making shakes. My goal is to spend less than $50 on about 60-70 servings. That means I’ll be able to make my $50 investment last me 2 months instead of buying the most expensive whey protein at GNC that honestly isn’t going to make much of difference for you results-wise. In short, stick with a good quality whey protein from a reputable brand and get it on sale.

2) Pre-Workout
– Take 1 serving 30 minutes prior to your workout

If you’re very caffeine sensitive you may want to avoid these products. If, however, you can handle a few cups of coffee without having a complete anxiety ridden meltdown, you’ll do just fine. I use the same rule when shopping my pre-workout mixes: reputable brand + good quality+ on sale = Happy Alex. I try to spend $15-20 max on my pre-workout supplements and I want them to also last me 6-8 weeks (30+ servings). I’ve been successful doing this with Cellucor’s C4, Neon Sport’s Volt, and Muscle Pharm’s Assault. These are generally mild as far as stimulants go, which some people may dislike, but if you’re just starting out or aren’t really looking to invest $50 into a month supply of pre-workouts than these are some really good options. Of course, you can always stick to coffee but pre-workout is kind of like a friend that pulls you off of your couch and forces you to go to the gym in beverage form. The pre-workouts I listed contain roughly 150 mg of caffeine, have a few vasodilating amino acids, and beta alanine, which is a fatigue defeating amino acid. It’s like if your coffee drank an even stronger cup of coffee.

3) BCAAs
– Take one serving during your workout (mix with water and sip throughout workout).

Branch-chain amino acids are an absolute game changer when it comes to decreasing fatigue, building muscle, improving hydration, and burning fat. You won’t feel the effects of BCAAs like the stimulating effects of a pre-workout but overtime you may notice that you’re able to workout longer, with more intensity, without feeling fatigued early on. Before I became sponsored by Scivation I used my same rule as  my pre-workout rule. I would spend roughly $15-$20 and have it last me 6-8 weeks (30+ servings). Scivation makes 11 flavors of BCAAs including one option that you’ll love if you’re trying to avoid flavors/sweeteners/dyes/etc.; Scivation Raw BCAAs. Try filling up a shaker bottle with ice, then pour 8-12 oz. of coconut water, fill the rest with regular water and add your scoop of BCAAs for a tasty, potassium packed sports drink.

I’m stopping here because I think this is enough to really cover your basics and it’s very manageable to budget. You have a pre-workout ($15-20/month), an intra workout ($15-20/month) and a post workout ($25/month) that should only run you about $55-$65/month. You could potentially get those costs down further but I don’t like compromising the taste or quality of these products for the sake of a few dollars.

Hope this helps! If you need any advice feel free to comment.

Like this post and share it so it can help someone else!

How Meal Prepping Can Save You Thousands

People tend to look at me like I’m from another planet when I show up to work with a backpack that holds my gym clothes, laptop, 3 meals, water bottles and accessories.
IMG_2557
The truth is that I’m not only saving hundreds to thousands of dollars every year by doing this, but I’m also staying conscious of my health goals. Nothing is up to chance for me. I have health goals, financial goals, and education goals. The only way you achieve your goals is if you plan and execute that plan as flawlessly as possible. As far as finances go, these are a few reasons why I think planning and prepping your meals in advance is important:

1) You Can Budget Your Weekly Grocery Trips More Easily

When you plan your meals in advance you can estimate the price it will cost to make every meal. This can be extremely helpful when trying to balance your budget by estimating how much money you’ll spend on groceries every month. When you know what you’re going to eat in advance it expedites the process of shopping for groceries, saving you time, and you can shave off a few dollars by buying specific items in bulk (nuts, eggs, grains, etc). Even if you’re only able to shave $50 off of your monthly grocery costs, those savings will add up to $600 per year.

2) Pennies Now, Thousands Later

If you’re one of many Americans who habitually buy lunch, coffee, or snacks every day, those little purchases can add up. Here’s an example, let’s say that you buy lunch every day that you’re at work and it costs you $10 on average. 10 dollars per day multiplied by 5 days per week multiplied again by 52 weeks in a year comes out to $2,600 spent on lunch per year. Now, if you were to prepare your own lunch in advance you could spend less than $2 on a balanced meal for lunch and that would only cost you $480 per year. That’s an annual savings of $2,120!

3) Enjoy Yourself While You’re Out But Be Conscious

When you follow a strategic meal plan to accomplish your health & fitness goals you’re less likely to eat out at restaurants, and if you do, you’re more likely to cut out pricey alcoholic beverages and appetizers that don’t fit your plan. Cut out dining all together and you’ll save another $4,800 per year if you spend roughly $100 per week on alcohol and dining out. This doesn’t mean the end of your social life though. You can still enjoy fine dining by preparing home cooked gourmet meals before going out to an event.

With the right budget and a little planning you should be able to eat well every day, never be hungry, and save a lot of money at the same time.

I got my meal prep bags from 6 Pack Bags. My girlfriend uses the leather pocketbook that looks like a Kate Spade bag but also holds a few meals. Check ’em out. Tell them I sent you.

Like this post and share it if you think it might help someone you know!