Just Got Paid & I’m Hungry: Meatless on a Budget

So you’re at the store, the deposit went through and that stomach is growling.

Let’s just rewind and see where we went wrong with this fantasy. My number one tip for any “BROKE ‘BODY” is to NEVER shop while hungry. You end spending more than what you’ve budgeted for, and cravings pass on (believe it or not). The latter gives way to many wasted items and funds.

Let’s imagine ourselves full and frugal, got it?

My general shopping list when it comes to food items, are things you can pair up with anything else and have it last for a good week as leftovers. Let’s prepare a list assuming you already have enough of the “essentials” (seasonings, herbs etc.)

My Shopping List
Pasta (any kind – try whole wheat if you’re feeling healthy)
Meatless meat – Brands like Gardein and MorningStar are more common in my area, but try to go for the bags of meat crumbles rather than single items. These aren’t cheap!
Seafood – because I don’t eat meat, seafood is nice replacement and if you’re smart about it, it can’t set you back and you can end up saving a bit. I tend to go for shrimp, talapia and if I’m able to spring, salmon.
Veggies – try to go for filling items (think starch and bright colors)…I’ve seen bags of steamed yams, potatoes, carrots & broccoli combos. These can last a while and taste better than frozen (in my humble opinion). Spinach is also a great saute item and as is for a salad snack. Celery can be added to anything or just eaten alone.
Soup!! A can or box of this is probably the staple of my entire dorm/campus life. If you’re trying to go out of your comfort zone in terms of tomato or lentils, try other lines. Other than the usual Progresso can, I’ve been getting into Pacific Soups. The Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato is pretty awesome, I must say if you want to feel fancy for two days.
If you’re trying to be creative, you can also thrown some stock in the cart as we have veggies and meat substitutes on the list. May it be vegetable or fish-based, these generally last about a week. For the cheap route, Swanson’s are pretty reasonable and simple in terms of ingredients and pricing.
Sweetener/Sugar alternative, such as honey or Blue Agave
Olive & Vegetable Oil
Minute Rice & a big bag of Brown Rice – You’re better off getting the big bag of rice (you’re broke remember) or capping the minute stuff at maybe 6 or 10 pouches. The latter is easier to prepare, however Uncle Ben’s does have a great option for those looking to crunch time – these bagged rice which can be part of two servings for a quick dinner.
Tomato on the Vine – these are a bit pricey but you’ll find yourself using these more often when you taste them! For cheaper but better results (in due time), get your own vine.
A large onion
Trail Mix , and or Fruit Bars or cups of any kind
Eggs – You need your protein remember?
Fruit – apples, oranges, grapefruit

An estimate of these items (if you stick to store brand versions for a few items), can be about a total of $30 to $47 US dollars. Oh and while you’re at it get yourself a store membership card to take advantage of sales. Coupons are never just a mom thing either…

Ditching the Chicken, Cow and their Friends

When I first decided to stop eating meat, I was nearing the end of my senior year in high school. A link to various images regarding the various types of mystery meat on the market (digitally altered perhaps) and the odd feeling of last night’s dinner weighed on my stomach and my face. The latter in which Proactiv and others tried to help.

Trying to be conscious of my health, and prove a point to my family (and maybe myself), I decided I’d stop eating meat.

You would have thought I had announced to my very Bajan/West Indian family, that I was mistaken about where I was, or how many days there were in a year.

See, meat & seafood are pretty much a base in a Caribbean diet aside from rice and peas. And if, for some reason, one decides to nix half of it, you still have the other.

Right? That’s what my mother wanted to know; what the hell was I going to eat? What doctor did I need to see? The vitamins, the weight marks – it was a sudden anxiety tunnel she drove me into.

But no matter! I was going to do it regardless. Until ‘that day.’


See, ‘that day‘ happened when I least expected it to. That’s how the Devil works, or so the elders say. I earned about eight dollars an hour doing the bare minimum of secretarial/Porter (correction, portress!) work for non-cloistered nuns on the weekends. I had a laptop, some snacks and complex convent to roam around when I needed to claim the word ‘fitness.’ Near the end of my shift, my ride wasn’t exactly on time, and the nuns were just about to serve themselves some humble food.

Would you like to have some dear?” How on earth could I refuse a giving soul? And turning down free food was sinful, so I meekly accepted, trying not to let the saliva reveal itself.


As I walked up the stairs, past the grandfather clock and the Virgin Mary, the nuns had a pretty big spread. Before I knew it I was laughing, digesting, and consuming, before the doorbell chimed.

Like a lady, I swallowed my gluttony and bid the nuns farewell until the next shift, and walked down the stairs. I saw the stained glass on the wall, and Mary bowing on the table, when I nearly collapsed like an actress in a telenova; I ATE THE CHICKEN.

Sure it was dry, stringy and needed water to go down, but I ATE THE FREAKING CHICKEN! What the hell?! The two weeks I salivated and starved. Opened the cupboard doors in disappointment and frustration. Dealt with harrowing headaches and a singing stomach, only to be tempted by the new evil that was MEAT!

I tried not to let the tears give way until I got to the car, and then I set them free. After wallowing in disappointment and self-loathing, my family members softly tried to tell me that I didn’t lose my badge or was less of a vegetarian because I slipped. What did they know? Well, I Googled it later, and saw that others said the same. So what the hell did I know?

All I knew is, was that unless I had full support and cash available to properly substitute this ‘no meat’ thing, it wasn’t going to be easy or last. When I calmed down and spoke to my mother about my decision, she slowly nodded and said “you can do it.”

I knew I could. I also knew that a nice plate of fish and rice would be nice to have right about then.

So, what have we learned for vegetarianism 101? Don’t cry over dry chicken or whatever meat type you ate when your first start out. You will slip up. If you’re serious about your new diet, have faith and let everyone know you haven’t lost your mind, but you’re trying something out for size. Also a strong stomach and good meals are a must! The first in case you do slip up, and the second if you want to swear off the stuff another time.

A Descriptive Narrative on a Small College Campus –

The start of my first semester as a first-year at Elizabethtown College, the date is August 30, 2012…


The final statement is read aloud. Backpacks shuffle with freshly received handouts, and  itching feet scurry through the door. Down a flight of stairs, my feet lead me from the Steinman building and into the emerging sunlight. It disorients me for a few seconds, but I make my way towards the marble benches near the Commons. The benches are a bit warm, but the shade and quiet are inviting. I think I’ll start here.

As I sit, I notice the pine trees, still forest-green, a slight fragrance that is overshadowed by my body spritz and sunscreen. The green bug that crawls on the ground is a new sight and enemy. I scoot closer towards the other side closer to the black Hogwarts-like clock. A girl walks by me. I think she’s a runner. Either that or her shorts are abnormally unnecessary for my level of clothing security. The sun seems to hide behind the clouds for a bit and I notice a bit more people begin to emerge from their classes. A guy with really blonde hair and a maroon shirt shuffles by, in a pair of  mismatched flip-flops nearly tramples over a girl engrossed in her conversation about this upcoming Labor weekend. I feel weird eavesdropping but continue to watch for more strangers.

A girl, with a highlighter orange shirt, sits at one of the black metal tables reading a red, and very thick textbook. I shudder not from the sudden breeze that picks up, but from the very thought. College. I sit for a bit more and notice a few acquaintances pass by my little grove, inquiring as to why I sit here. Alone. One wears her dining service shirt; navy and unspoiled. Another wears a pair of flared jeans and hoop earrings. However both wear a smile and wrinkled eyes from the revealing sun. I tell them a bit about my assignment for a writing class. They don’t understand, and after a bit more of catching up and how-do-you-dos, they wish me luck and head off to their respective locations: a desk or a dish room.

The cicadas make their incessant buzzing that is jarring yet strangely calming. Just so long as I don’t see any near me, I continue to relax and take notes. My brown sandals stick out against the white stone, and a beetle high fives my big toe. I flick it away in annoyance – paying more attention to the herd of students that just appeared out of thin air. Talks of finding a seat at the Marketplace, a training session or a friend’s current dating dilemma remind me of my own. Not dating. Just of an appointment that I have with a peer counselor of mine. As I check my phone, it feels light, as it always does. The air does as well. No garbage odors, an absence of humidity and manure, and sadly chocolate.

It is however a beautiful afternoon; few clouds are in the sky. I walk slowly for a bit from the grove, smelling the pine again as I nearly bump into a girl with her headphones in her ears. I feel like I’ve just came from a trip in the woods rather than a sit on a somewhat secluded bench. However, my notes are taken, an appointment must be made, and a narrative I must write later this evening.


By Ragina Lashley