It’s a cool April afternoon in the suburbs as I yank my skittish dog on a leash. The chore of exercising him is exhausting, resulting in burned calories, resulting in hunger, resulting in my least favorite question.
We’ve all been thrown in the tortuous situation of being in a group and then that one horrible person asks where everyone wants to eat. We are then bombarded with a symphony of “I don’t know”s and left feeling frustrated at the group’s mutual incompetence.
For me, I don’t have to be surrounded by a troop of indecisive fools to become annoyed. I’m a lactose-intolerant pescetarian who has an incredibly high standard for meat and an incredibly low budget to pay for it.
The question, “Where do I want to eat?” haunts me multiple times a day. Eating healthy is costly, and it’s irrational to think I can cook all of my meals every day with the kind of schedule I have.
So, I went on a mission to find cost-effective, healthy places in the local area that I can eat at with assurances that I won’t become broke or sick after.
1. Tea Grotto
I know it’s odd that I chose a tea store for food, but this place is the top of my list for a cheap, healthy lunch.
Although Tea Grotto’s actual tea can get expensive, their food isn’t. You can get stuffed off a beautiful hummus plate for a few dollars that leaves you full and healthy. They also have edamame, quiche, soup, salad, fruit, granola and more.
If you are splurging, I recommend getting the dragon pearl tea steeped in soy.
The ambiance of Tea Grotto is what gets me, too. It’s an amazingly relaxing place to hide away and avoid problems, finals and the impending doom of graduation (next issue’s article).
2.) Simply Sushi
This place comes with a terrible, masochistic challenge.
It’s all-you-can-eat sushi, but if you don’t eat all you can order, you get charged more money. If you don’t want to eat yourself into a sad, ricey coma, you can also order the sushi by the roll for a very cheap price.
Also, even though sushi is healthy, deep frying it and covering it in soy sauce doesn’t count, babes.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to lecture you on cooking for yourself yet. I’m also not restricting the idea of grocery-store-cooked food just to Smith’s.
Recently, I discovered that grocery store kitchens, although scary sometimes, have great stuff for really cheap.
At Smith’s, you can get freshly cooked burritos, sandwiches, side dishes, salads and more for a swell price (by “freshly cooked,” I’m being very loose with that term. Go earlier in the day if you don’t want 13-hour-old coleslaw).
I mean, I can get a giant freaking bowl of potatoes for $2.50. Sorry, I know this is supposed to be healthy food, but potatoes are life.
4.) Not eating out
Ugh. I know this sucks to think about. Cooking for yourself? But really, it’s the cheapest and healthiest way to do this.
I recommend going to local stores like Sprouts or Trader Joe’s for amazingly cheap produce. Or, be super Pinterest and start your own garden and live off of cherry tomatoes.
Also, dedicating one hour a week for meal prepping can do wonders for your wallet, waist and sanity for avoiding the stupid question of “Where should I eat?” Cheers.