Tag Archives: save money

Decorate Your Small Space For The Holidays

Whether it’s for yourself or a holiday party, nothing gets people into the holiday spirit like decorations! If you live in a tiny apartment, getting festive for the holidays might seem impossible. You might not be able to have a huge tree or outdoor lights, but you can still deck your small halls with these simple holiday decor ideas.

  • TREE ALTERNATIVES

For those who celebrate Christmas, nothing gets you into the holiday spirit like a huge, beautifully decorated tree. If you have a small studio or one bedroom apartment, setting up a large tree is no easy task. Especially if you live in a walk up building! But it’s still possible to have a beautiful tree for Christmas, you just may have to think a little smaller.

Miniature Christmas Trees are a great option for those who live in tiny spaces. They can go pretty much anywhere (table top, dresser, shelf, etc.) and can look just as festive as a floor to ceiling version. You can go even smaller by decorating a few branches in a vase.

 

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If a mini tree isn’t going to cut it, try a half or quarter tree that fits perfectly in a corner or flush against a wall.

 

Not interested in cleaning up pine needles? No where to store an artificial tree no matter how small? Make a tree out of lights on your wall, or take your books off the shelves and stack them into a tree shape. The possibilities are endless!

 

  • MAKE USE OF FRAMES

Cover your picture frames with pretty wrapping paper to make them look like presents. This is a super cheap and easy way to make your apartment more festive.

If you don’t have frames on your walls or around your apartment, you can also wrap flat pieces of cardboard or small unused boxes and hang them with Command Hanging Strips. You don’t want to sacrifice your security deposit for a little holiday cheer.

  • DECORATE YOUR ENTRANCEWAY 

Get your guests into the holiday spirit as soon as the enter your space by decorating your entranceway. Hang a festive wreath or decorate the door to look like a giant present.

Hang some lights and garland around the entrance, or any doorway, to give your apartment a holiday glow.

 

  • CENTERPIECES  

Fill clear bowls or vases with ornaments to use as a centerpiece or just for decorations around your apartment.  You can get ornaments to match any color scheme, and everything can be purchased at the dollar store for super cheap.

Painted wine bottles are another way to create festive decorations for your apartment.

  • PICTURE TAKING AREA

If you’re having a holiday party in your apartment, create a picture taking area for your guests. Decorate a wall to look like a fireplace, or hang a shiny foil fringe or sequence backdrop for a truly festive backdrop that can work through New Years Eve!

 

No photo area is complete without some props! Buy them online or print your own and leave them around the apartment for your guests to use throughout the evening.

http://www.amazon.com/Rhode-Island-Novelty-Metallic-Curtains/dp/B004N5BKC0/ref=pd_rhf_dp_s_cp_3?ie=UTF8&dpID=61dTKHV7wKL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_SL500_SR106%2C135_&refRID=1TS9PNYTFST3AW3AB7S9

 

 

Great Holiday Gifts for the Host

Whether it’s a holiday dinner party, a brunch, or even just a cocktail party, you’ll want to bring your host a little something to say thank you for all the hard work. Here are some gift ideas that will wow any party host this holiday season – all for less than $25!

  • BREAKFAST BASKET

After cooking for the party all day, the last thing a host wants to do is make themselves breakfast the next morning. Help them out with a breakfast basket!

 

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Buy an inexpensive basket and fill it with some tasty breakfast muffins, scones, or breads (that can easily be reheated) and a nice jam.

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Add a couple of pretty cloth napkins and some tea or coffee and you’ll have a breakfast basket that will make your host look forward to the morning.

  • BREAD WARMER

There’s nothing like warm bread fresh out of the oven. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy for a host to keep warming up bread for their guests while they’re trying to host a party. A bread warming stone can solve that problem. Most are less than $20 (some less than 10!), so you can afford to bring some bread and a basket to go along with it.

  • GARLIC GRATER AND OIL DIPPING DISH

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Nothing goes better with warm bread than a little seasoned olive oil! Give your host this beautiful garlic grater and oil dipping dish as a gift, and both your host, and their guests, will thank you.

  • GLASS ACCESSORIES

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Every host needs some glass accessories to help distinguish their guests glasses. These wine charms are an adorable option for a cat-loving host.

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Keep it in the holiday theme with these ornament wine charms.

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These are my favorite glass accessories because they work for any drink, not just wine.

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  • MINGLING TRAYS

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No one should have to choose between drinks and food, and these mingling trays can make sure no one ever will!

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They are the perfect gift for someone who hosts a lot of get-togethers.

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  • CAKE OR PIE SERVER

Dessert is (arguably) the best part of any meal and it deserves a beautiful presentation. If you’re bringing a cake, pie, or cupcakes to the party, consider bringing it on a pretty dessert tray that the host can keep. A cake stand is one of those items that people rarely buy for themselves, but can be incredibly useful once you own it.

 

 

 

 

 

15 Awesome Gift Exchange Ideas

December is right around the corner, and with every holiday season comes the often dreaded workplace gift exchange. Whether your job does a more structured Secret Santa or an unpredictable White Elephant gift exchange, these gifts are bound to fit into any spending limit and make you an office favorite. Some of them are so nice, you might want to get them for someone you actually like!

TECH AND GADGETS

1. PORTABLE CHARGER

A low phone battery is one of the many things a New Yorker will NEVER be caught dead with, along with scrunchies and crocs. But let’s face it, most smartphones can’t keep up with the amount of texting, hop stopping and google mapping that the average New Yorker does in a typical night out (I’m looking’ at you iPhone).

Enter the portable charger.

Many of them are about the size of a tube of lipstick so they fit easily in a purse or pocket. They come in all different colors and you can find them on amazon for less than 20 bucks! Most of them are universal, so they will be equally as useful to Galaxy and iPhone users. It sure beats fighting over the outlets at the nearest Starbucks!

2. PHONE LENS KIT

Help your co-workers up their Instagram game with some awesome smartphone lenses. Many of them are less than 20 bucks on Amazon with free shipping if you have Prime (if you don’t have Prime you should really look into it). They clip on to basically any smartphone, look very easy to use, and have received very good reviews.

3. RETRO iPHONE CASE

Encourage your co-workers to channel their inner Zack Morris with this retro iPhone case! At the very least it will get a laugh – and if your co-workers won’t actually use it then can regift it to friends or family.

This retro Gameboy case is another fun option.

4. TOUCHSCREEN GLOVES

NY winters can get really cold, and there’s nothing worse than having to choose between responding to a text or keeping your hands warm. If you’re wearing touchscreen gloves, you can text to your heart’s content, while keeping your fingers nice and toasty. Some brands can be kind of pricey, but it is possible to find them for $20 or less!

5. CREDIT CARD TOOL KIT

Never be caught at a party without a bottle opener again! This incredibly useful gift has multiple tools all combined in one credit card shaped gadget. My co-worker has one of these, and said it was the best gift he never knew he needed. And at well under $20 (some for less than $10!), it’s sure to fit in your gift exchange budget.

FUN & QUIRKY

6. ADULT COLORING BOOKS

Coloring books aren’t just for kids! They’re a great way for adults to unwind, de-stress, and get their creative juices flowing. They seem to be everywhere these days in a variety of themes. Personally, I’ve got my eye on the Color Me Crazy coloring book, the 1990’s coloring book, the Outside The Lines coloring book…oh who am I kidding, I want them all! And for about 10 bucks each, why choose? The low price also means you can throw in a nice set of colored pencils to go with it.

7. MUGS

 

 

 

 

 

Mornings suck, but having a fun mug to drink your morning coffee (or tea) out of can make them a little better. A Darth Vador mug is a must if you have any Star Wars fans in the office. As is this holiday themed Star Wars mug (as long as they release it on time for your exchange).

 

 

 

 

 

 

A mug with a lid on it is a genius idea – and an amazing gift! Part travel mug, part cup – this lidded mug is a great way to keep your drink warm and free of debris while you’re getting work done. As an added bonus, the lid can serve as a coaster! If you have any co-workers that are interested in photography, this lidded lens mug will definitely be a gift exchange favorite.

8. MINI FOOT HAMMOCK

You might not be able to take a midday nap at work, but at least you can give your feet a rest with this mini footrest hammock. It attaches to your desk, so just be sure it works with the desks you have at your workplace before you purchase them.

ALCOHOL THEMED

9. TRAVEL WINE OR BEER MUGS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A travel wine tumbler is the perfect gift for any vino loving New Yorker. Great for a picnic in the park, a drink on the beach, or the next tailgating party. Don’t have many wine lovers at your job? They make them for beer too!

10. FOLDABLE TRAVEL WINE BOTTLES

While the tumbler is perfect for a glass or two, this foldable wine flask is great for numerous people. It holds an entire 750 mL of wine and it’s reusable. It’s not only convenient for travel – it also works great for smaller fridges that are often found in tiny NY apartments.

11. FULL BOTTLE OF WINE GLASS

Subway commutes and busy work days can really burn a person out. After especially stressful weeks, a full bottle of wine might be in order. Save your co-workers the hassle of those pesky refills with this jumbo wine glass which fits an entire bottle of wine! Personally, I can tell you I own one – and it’s amazing! And for only 10 bucks you might be able to get a bottle of wine to go with it and stay within your limit!

12. ICE ALTERNATIVES

A cold alcoholic drink is the perfect way to unwind after a stressful week, but unless you’re a fast drinker your relaxing drink can become ruined with by melted ice cubes. Enter the whiskey stone (and it’s newer cousin the wine pearl).

13. BROOKLYN WINE BOOK

If you work in Brooklyn, or have a lot of co-workers who live in Brooklyn, this Brooklyn Wine Book might be a great gift. It’s $20 and gets you 2 for 1 drinks at over 20 spots around Brooklyn.

SUPER LAST MINUTE

If you waiting a little too long to order one of the previously mentioned gifts, you can still get a great gift to be proud of.

14. WELL THOUGHT OUT GIFT CARDS

Starbucks gift cards are a great option, but if you want your gift card to look a little more thought out, try to get a card to a great lunch or dinner spot near your job. Fandango bucks are another great option, especially for those co-workers who have children and might be in need of a date night. They work in various locations, so they’re even great for co-workers who commute in from the burbs!

15. SCRATCH OFFs

Whatever your spending limit, you can grab a bunch of fun holiday themed scratch off tickets to give as a gift. Just make sure you add a little something extra in case your scratch offs are duds. A bottle of wine might be a good option – celebratory in case they win, and something to drink away the pain of still being broke if they lose. Just kidding…kind of.

Frugal Fun: 11/30 – 12/6

**This will be my last “Frugal Fun” post for a while. Instead, for the month of December I’ll be focusing on holiday themed posts to help you get through a month of gifts and parties without completely draining your bank account. 

 

A list of free or low-cost events happening around Brooklyn and NYC this week. As always, if you know of any other fun events that won’t break the bank, please feel free to contact me!

MONDAY 11/30

  • MOBILE MONDAYS – FREE

mobile mondays

Dance away a case of ‘the Mondays‘ with Mobile Mondays “New York City’s Premiere 45’s night for vinyl music lovers.” Each week is often themed (this week is FUNK), but according to the website, the genre doesn’t define the party. Listed as a Time Out New York critic’s pickMobile Mondays is sure to make the worst day of the week just a little bit better.

Located at The Bowery Electric (327 Bowery Street, New York NY), show starts at 10pm.

  • BIG PONY SHOW – FREE

Dancing not your thing? Start the week off with some laughs at the BIG Pony Show. It’s a FREE weekly comedy show located at Leftfield Bar in the LES (87 Ludlow Street, New York NY). Show starts at 8p.

TUESDAY 12/1

  • TRIVIA NIGHT AT BERG’N – FREE

Every Tuesday is Trivia Night at Berg’n Beer Hall. Show off your knowledge of random trivia while drinking from a great selection of beer and munching on food from a rotating list of food vendors. There is no cover to get in and it’s a really spacious location with a chill vibe, so even if you don’t want to participate in the trivia, you can go have a drink and marvel at how much useless information a person’s brain can hold. Located at 899 Berg’n Street, Brooklyn NY.

WEDNESDAY 12/2

  • BRYANT PARK SKATE-TACULAR – FREE

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Head to Bryant Park for their Tree Lighting Skate-tacular and the premiere of the holiday tale The Lights Before Christmas. The story was written specifically for the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park by award winning playwright Jon Caren and will star world-famous skaters including Nancy Kerrigan and Brian Boitano! The event is FREE and starts at 6pm. Head there early and enjoy dinner at a Winter Village restaurantt, or some holiday shopping at one of their over 125 boutique-like shops. Located at 41 W 40th street (behind the NY Public Library)

 

From the blog: As this year’s Tree Lighting SKATE-tacular coincides with Giving Tuesday and World AIDS Day; Bank of America partner, VISA, is contributing $.30 to (RED) for every purchase made at participating Winter Village merchants with a Bank of America credit or debit card, helping us sustain the season of giving at Bryant Park and spotlighting (RED) and the impact of their efforts to eradicate AIDS.

FRIDAY 12/4 – SATURDAY 12/5

  • BAMcafe LIVE SERIES – FREE

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Every Friday and Saturday night, BAM has free live music and performances as part of their BAMcafe Live series. The performances are different every night and have been a mix of all different styles of music, including rock, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, world music, and more. It’s located in the bar and lounge area on the top floor of the Peter Jay Sharp Building. Performances start at 9p*, but there is limited seating, so it might be worth it to get there early.

*Show starts at 9:30 this weekend

FRIDAY – Matt Darriau’s Paradox Trio 

(From the BAM website) Intoxicating Romany rhythms meet thrilling jazz improvisation in the boundary-pushing sounds of Paradox Trio. World music woodwind virtuoso Matt Darriau (of Grammy-winning ensemble the Klezmatics) leads the outfit, performing intricate, shape-shifting melodic lines on the traditional gaida, a Bulgarian bagpipe; the flute-like kaval; and the driving Balkan beats of the dumbek.

SATURDAY – American Candy 

(From the BAM website) Part sketch comedy spectacular, part raucous musical satire, AMERICAN CANDY, created by Hollie Harper, is a Brooklyn-based troupe that irreverently skewers the absurd side of American pop culture. Taking inspiration from groundbreaking series like In Living Color and The Carol Burnett Show, AMERICAN CANDY brings together a diverse group of comedians for a special performance to celebrate their tight, naughty grasp on musical comedy.

SATURDAY 12/5

  • PARTY LIKE IT’S 1999: ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS MARIAH EDITION – FREE

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Get into the holiday spirit by dancing to the best hits from one of the greatest Christmas albums of the 90’s (or ever really). DJ’s will play the best songs from Mariah’s Merry Christmas album and some of her other hits, as well as the best pop, rock, R&B and Hip-Hop from the 90’s. Starts at 10p. Located at 149 7th Street, Brooklyn NY.

 

Decorate Your Small Space For Thanksgiving

Hosting Thanksgiving can be stressful no matter what size your living space is. If you live in a typical shoebox-sized NYC apartment, it can seem almost impossible! But living in the city doesn’t mean you can’t host an awesome dinner party. Here are some tips for making your small space work for Thanksgiving.

  • REARRANGE YOUR SPACE

Move any furniture you won’t need for the evening. If you live in a one bedroom or bigger (definitely something to be thankful for!), move furniture into other rooms. It’s kind of a pain, but it will make a big difference in space. You can even go as far as moving your TV into your bedroom – you probably won’t need it for the party and it might free up some space for drinks, desserts, or decorations. Rearrange any necessary furniture to better accommodate the party needs.

Need more seating? Brooklyn Party Rentals offers chairs and tables in various sizes for really great prices.

  • DECORATE YOUR SPACE

Spice up your apartment with a few festive decorations.  Here are a few ideas for any budget and apartment size.

FESTIVE BALLONS

Nothing says “party” like balloons! If you have the wall space, you can spell out a festive message with these letter balloons. They’re super cute and pretty inexpensive, depending on what you want to spell. “Give Thanks” will only cost you about $27. It might be a little late to get them in time for Thanksgiving, but it’s still possible to order for Christmas or New Years!

This site has similar balloons for a little more money, but they have fast shipping!

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If you don’t have the wall space to hang a balloon message, you can always get some plain helium balloons in your party’s color theme and place them in bunches around the apartment.

TABLE DECOR 

Decorate your table and counter space with really simple decorations. These leaf mason jars are quick, easy, cheap – and perfect for the fall. If you don’t feel like gathering (possibly urine soaked) leaves from the streets of New York, grab some fake ones from a local craft store or online from amazon. You can also buy tissue paper and cut it in the shape of leaves for a similar effect.

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Buy large glass candle holders, fill them with a pillar candle and unpeopled popcorn – and you have beautiful center pieces for less than 6 bucks!

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Print out pretty images or sayings and put them in nice picture frames. Click here or here for DIY tutorials on how to make your own frames.

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Want more decoration ideas? Click here.

PICTURE TAKING AREA

No party is complete without the pictures that document how amazing it was! If you have the space, decorate a corner of the room or small section of wall as a picture taking area. Keep it in the Thanksgiving/fall theme by covering kraft paper with leaves and pin or tape it to the wall. Spray the leaves with glue and dip in glitter for some added shine.

Don’t have the time to paint and tape leaves? Make a wall full of balloons! You can either blow them up on your own and tape to the wall, or get a bunch of helium balloons and tape the string to the floor.

Click here for more DIY backdrop ideas.

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No space for a picture area? Buy or print some fun photo booth props to have on hand to make those Instagram pictures a little more interesting.

 

 

Designer frames on a dollar store budget

City apartments might be tiny, but decorating them can put a big hole in your bank account. When it comes to decorating your walls, you can save money on expensive picture frames by making your own! Just buy some cheap frames from a dollar store and paint them to match your decor. It takes a little time to complete (this project took a few hours total), but you can make the most of your time and get some errands done while you’re waiting for the coats of paint to dry.

First, find some frames that are the shape and size that you want. The colors and designs don’t matter since you’ll be painting over them anyway.

You don’t want to lose your deposit by getting paint all over your floors or rugs, so you’ll want to put something down to protect them. I use a garbage bag (cut down the middle). You can also use a cheap tablecloth or shower curtain.

You’ll need some primer to make sure that the paint sticks regardless of the material the frames are made out of. This also helps you get the truest color of the paint you choose.

Primer is really important. I’ve skipped this step before and had to repaint them because the paint kept peeling off.

Save money on paint by buying sample sizes of the colors you want instead of buying the larger containers. These small sample sizes last a long time and will definitely be enough to paint picture frames – and you can save the left overs for your next DIY project!

You’ll also need paint brushes. Stores like Ikea, Target, and Amazon all have some really cheap options. If you’re thinking of doing some patterns or designs you might need some painter’s tape.

Tape off any designs you want on the frames and start priming! I used two coats of primer and waited about an hour in-between each one. Read the directions on your particular brand of primer for a more accurate wait time.

If you’re planning on doing this over the course of several days, you can save time cleaning brushes by wrapping the used brush in plastic wrap and putting it in a ziplock bag. This will keep it from drying out until you’re all done with the project.

Once the last coat of primer is dry you can start painting your frames! Keep them on the plastic until they are completely dry. There’s nothing worse than spending hours on something only to have it ruined by impatience – and I’m saying that from experience!

And that’s it! Create beautiful expensive looking picture frames for a fraction of the price.

Cook Now, Save Later

Eating out is expensive. Even with the lunch special deals at many restaurants near my job, I end up spending at least $10 per meal. Multiply that times 5 and that’s 50 bucks that I’m spending each week – and that’s just for lunch! If you include daily coffee purchases, snacks and dinner you can wind up spending well over $150 a week on food!

I’d also be willing to bet the food isn’t very healthy. I know whenever I don’t bring food from home, I take way too long to head out to eat and then I’m STARVING and end up either buying way too much food or buying something that’s really unhealthy.

The problem is that I don’t have time during the week to make dinner, let alone lunch for the next day. The solution? Meal prepping!

Every Sunday, I take time out to cook all of my meals and snacks for the week. Depending on what you cook, meal prepping can take a few hours to do, but the amount of time and money it saves makes it well worth it!

I usually try to cook things in bulk and plan a bunch of meals that can be used with similar ingredients. So for example, I might make a whole bunch of brown rice, and use it in a burrito bowl or just as a side with chicken and vegetables. Here’s what I did this week – and how much each meal costs after adding up the ingredients:

Chicken and Roasted Cauliflower

I really wanted to use roasted butternut squash as a side, but my grocery store was out of the pre-cut, cubed containers and I didn’t have the time or energy to peel a butternut squash, so instead I grabbed cauliflower which was on sale.

First I preheated the oven to 425. Then I put two chicken thighs in a small baking dish and added oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and a little paprika. You can add any seasoning you’d like, these are just my go to choices. Make sure the chicken is fully coated in all the seasoning then throw that in the oven. Cook for about 35 min, turning over about half way through.

Then, wash and cut a head of cauliflower. Throw small chunks into a bowl and coat with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any seasonings you’d like. Then spread the pieces of cauliflower on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil before placing that in the oven. Cook that for about 35 min as well. Make sure you flip the pieces about halfway through to overcooking one side.

While the chicken and cauliflower were in the oven, I laid out the rest of the ingredients for this week’s meal and started to multi-task.

Hard Boiled Eggs

First, I hard boiled a dozen eggs to have for breakfast throughout the week.

Chicken and Rice Bowls

Then, I cooked the brown rice and the spinach for the chicken and rice bowls.


Once the rice and eggs were finished cooking, I set them both aside to cool, threw a bag of frozen corn in the microwave, and chopped up the chicken breasts and put them into a frying pan. Once everything was finished cooking, I grabbed three plastic containers and started to build the rice bowls. The ingredients were enough to make three bowls.

Then, I put my snacks together.

I cut up celery and cucumbers, and added them to ziplock bags along with carrot chips. I have no self-control with dip, so I decided to portion out the humus a head of time so I don’t mindlessly eat the whole container. I sectioned out a bag of cheese puffs into separate ziplock bags to avoid the same problem.

I put the left over olives, corn, and cucumbers into separate containers and will use them to build salads throughout the week. I’m not a fan of pre-building salads, but I try to at least have the ingredients pre-cut which saves time during the week.

The whole process took about 2 and a half hours (including clean up) and I made five cooked and ready to go meals (one of which I ate for dinner), 5 days of breakfast, 6 servings of snacks, and the ingredients for at least 3 salads ready to go.

Now for the cost! Here’s what each meal ends up costing once all the ingredients are added up:

Chicken Thighs and Roasted Cauliflower

Chicken Thighs ($3.18 for 4) = .80 each

Cauliflower (3.99 for the head) = $2 per serving

Total Cost = $2.80 per meal

Chicken Rice Bowls

Rice (5.32 box of 6) = .89 / bag = .30 per serving

Chicken Breasts ($9 for 5) = $1.80 each

Olives ($2 can of 5 servings) = .40 per serving

Corn ($2.39 per 6 serving bag) = .40 per serving

Spinach (2.00 per 3 serving bag) = .67 per serving

Total Cost = $3.57 each

Hard Boiled Eggs 

3.68 / dozen  = .31 each

Vegetable Snacks

Carrot Chips ($2.29 per seven serving bag) = .33 per serving

Celery ($2.50 per pack) = .25 per serving

Cucumber (.79 each) = .26 per serving

Humus ($3.99 per 10 serving container) = .40 per serving

Total Cost = $1.24 each

Cheese Puffs

$3.99 per 4 serving bag = $1 each

The total cost of breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week, adding in the salad, is $32.14. That’s less than it would cost to buy JUST LUNCH for an entire week!

I’d say it was well worth the 2 and a half hours!