How Cooking Made Me Healthier, Happier and Saved Me Major $$$

One of my New Year resolutions for 2018 was to cook more and eat out less. I usually don't even set New Years resolutions because I'm terrible at sticking to them. However, I'm really happy I set this goal because I've actually done a great job of sticking with it for the past year+! This resolution was conceived solely as a way to save money and eat healthier but it actually helps me in those areas plus so much more. These are all the benefits I have found in cooking. 


Saving money - I go to the grocery store maybe once a week and spend $50 each time. This holds me over enough so that I only eat out approximately 5 times per week (minus the occasional bagel or cheap snack). When I do eat out I'm A. doing it for social purposes B. Am too busy to cook C. have been too busy to grocery shop and have run out of food in my fridge. Even if each meal I ate out was $20, I'd still only be spending $250 per month on food TOTAL. I'd say that's pretty good! Side note: I ONLY shop at Trader Joe's in NYC as the products there are considerably cheaper than other NYC grocery stores! 

Control over what I put in my body - When I eat out, I am literally incapable of ordering something healthy. My mindset in these situations is "I'm paying good money for this so I REALLY want to enjoy it." I display excellent self-control when grocery shopping, though. If you have been to Trader Joe's in NYC, you know that it's so crazy crowded that there is no time to wander the aisles drooling over all the snacks and chocolate. You make a b-line for what you need then get out ASAP. For this reason, I only get the healthy stuff that I put on my shopping list and therefore, only have healthy things to cook at home, even if I'm craving something unhealthy. 

Sense of control in general - Cooking gives me a sense of control in my finances, my health and my body image. It's really easy to feel out of control of every aspect of your life during young adulthood and it's something I've struggled with a lot lately. During college, you're worried about money, your career, your friendships and relationships and everything just seems completely up in the air. It feels like your life is running you rather than you running your life. Having tighter control over things such as saving money on food and feeling confident about the way you look because you're eating healthier are small things, but really help you to feel like you have reign over some aspects of your life. 

30 minutes of peace - In the past, I've heard some adults say that cooking is enjoyable and a stress relieving activity. I now definitely understand and agree with this. I can't put it all into words, but there is something so soothing about it. One thing I know is great about the period of time when you're cooking is that you're away from your phone. As a millennial, I spend way too much time on my phone and definitely admit that I'm addicted to it. Even when I'm working at my internship or doing school work, my eyes are still fixated on a computer screen since everything is digital now. The 30-45 minutes where I'm cooking is a period of time when I can't pick up my phone because my hands are occupied. It's a great opportunity to just disconnect and listen to some music. 

As you can see, cooking in and eating out less has changed my life for the better in so many small ways! Let me know if you guys like this kind of post. Food is something I've been putting a lot of thought into lately so I'd be interested in writing more about it! What do you guys like about cooking? Do you cook in or eat out more? Let me know in the comments! 

Best Purchases of 2018

I'm proud, yet ashamed of myself. While brainstorming this post, I was only able to come up with 7 items I love enough to include in this list. On the other hand, the reason for this is I have been extremely frugal when buying clothes this past year. So, I'm an awful blogger but an amazing budgeter! I find these pieces to be staples in my wardrobe, so I'd definitely recommend all of them as great investments (even though some are actually quite affordable!). 

1. Balloon sleeve sweater


I purchased this sweater from J.Crew in the fall in two colors (burgundy and mustard) because I was so in love with it. I'm obsessed with tight fitting, turtleneck tops in general because you can incorporate them into nearly any fall/winter outfit. I think the balloon sleeves on this one add a unique touch that doesn't detract from the versatility. Unfortunately, everyone else agreed this sweater was amazing so it is pretty much sold out across the board. However, I have linked some other balloon sleeve sweaters below!


2. Olive trousers


I probably wore these J.Crew olive pants once a week during my full-time internship over the summer. I had actually been interested in buying pants like these for a couple of years, but could never find ones that fit well until I found these beauties. These ones are so flattering and extremely comfortable to wear in the office or on-the-go all day. While the linen ones I have sold out a while ago, J.Crew released a cotton twill pair that look almost exactly the same and are made of fabric that is more versatile to wear year round (linen is a summer fabric)!

3. Star print denim jacket


Unpopular opinion: I've actually never really been a fan of denim jackets. I think they are kind of boring. However, when I found this one, my opinion changed because I think the star print makes it unique and fun. This was actually a gifted item from Velvet Heart Collection. While that one sold out, I found one that looks EXACTLY the same here (and it's on sale!).

4. Mott & Bow Mom Jeans


This was another gifted product! However, I would 100% buy these jeans over and over again because I love them so much. I definitely wear them at least once a week. They have the "mom jean style" while still being tight fitting and doing wonders for the booty. These jeans run true to size. 

5. J.Crew Suede Booties


I had been holding off on buying a pair of tan/taupe suede booties for a while because it was hard to buy the perfect pair. I knew I had to have these as soon as I saw them! They are simple and modern looking and have the perfect heel height (I'm such a baby and can't wear any shoes with heels too high). This is my third J.Crew item in this post and it's really making me realize I need to diversify where I shop...

6.. Topshop white jeans


Not all jeans are created equal. Which is why I am specifying that I bought these jeans from Topshop. I think white jeans are one of the most frustrating things to buy. The cheap pairs are typically very transparent and show the seam running down the outside of the leg. In other words, it looks like you have a big white stripe running down the side of your leg when you have them on. I was so pleased with this Topshop pair because they didn't have this problem and were relatively affordable.

7. Checked boyfriend blazer


 I've noticed the boyfriend plazer to be a huge trend this year. I'm not a big fan of blazers in general, but love the boyfriend style because it's more relaxed and almost feels like you are wearing a cardigan. I've seen most of these blazers come in a combination of black, grey and white, but I specifically like how this H&M one pops with the brown/tan incorporated!

2019 New Year Resolutions


I've never really been the type to make new year resolutions until last year when I just felt like I had an overwhelming amount of things I wanted to improve about myself and my life. Since I did a really kick butt job of accomplishing some of my resolutions over the past year, I am inspired to set some for 2019. 

2018 wasn't a super great year in any way other than professionally. I discovered my career path and landed an amazing job this year but didn't really experience anything fulfilling in my personal life. I'm seeing everyone post these amazing year recaps and it has made me reflect on how exciting and memorable my year has been (or rather how unexciting and unmemorable it has been). I then feel sad because I don't have enough pictures, stories or anything to commemorate this past year. I know it's bad to compare myself to other people, but this feeling has inspired me to make 2019 a more exciting one. 

Travel more (even if it's mostly weekend trips)

 I'm really glad I studied abroad in 2017 because it showed me how vital travel and experiencing new places is to creating amazing memories. One possible reason 2018 was so bland is that the only places I went were NYC (where I live), Atlanta (home) and Mississippi (to visit family). Now that I have a looser budget due to having my own income, I really want to use it to travel. I definitely would love to take a bigger weeklong trip at some point in the year, but I also want to utilize holiday long weekends to take short trips. I even just want to take more weekend trips to close by places (like visiting my friend who lives in Saratoga, NY). These ideas don't sound to exciting or extreme, but keep in mind I'm constrained to some extent by my number of PTO days and I would like to keep some of them to just go home and visit my family. 


Maintain a Gym Routine

Yes, yes, I know this is the most notorious new year resolution. I'd like to accomplish this resolution to improve my physique, but also for mental purposes. I need some way to relieve stress, tension and bad energy that I build up throughout the day. Only once before in my life have I established a solid exercise routine. It was the summer of 2016 when I was nannying 9-5, Mon-Fri. I'm pretty sure the key to my success there was that I had a consistent daily routine. While I was still in school, I had the most hectic schedule and every day was different so I don't think it would have been possible for me to create a habit of going to the gym (go ahead and tell me I'm just making excuses). However, now that I have a 9-5 job again, I'm quite confident that I can make this new year resolution work! As soon as I get back to NYC in January to start my full time job, I will be joining a gym (TBD on which one). My obstacle is that I have no idea how to do anything in the gym besides run on the treadmill and use the elliptical. If y'all have any ideas to help with this (besides taking group classes) please let me know!

Limit Phone Time

I'm fairly good about not being on my phone when I'm hanging out with friends, which I'm really happy about. On the other hand, I'm awful about using up the majority of my free time/commuting time scrolling through social media. I could go on and on about the negative effects of social media on one's happiness. However, I know you all have heard the (extremely true and valid) lectures on how social media makes you feel terrible about your own life and completely inadequate, so I'll spare you. It's bad enough that my full-time job and side hustle both revolve around social media. When I use my down time on social media, I'm essentially spending every waking hour of the day looking at content that can be very toxic to the mind. At this point, I don't plan on setting any specific time goals of how long I can be on my phone per day, etc., I just want to make a conscious effort to stop scrolling through social media as much and do other things like work on my blog or watch a movie/TV when I have free time. During my commutes, I would love to start listening to podcast to pass the time, so feel free to send podcast recommendations my way. 

Progress on last year's resolutions

I'm happy to say that I have done SUCH a great job of cooking more often and eating out less. Before 2018, I literally never cooked for myself unless it was pasta. Now, (with the exception of buying lunch during work days) I cook almost every single meal. I'm not saying I'm following complex recipes or creating culinary masterpieces, but I have had fun finding new healthy go-to recipes or even just finding good Trader Joe's frozen meals to heat up when I'm feeling lazy. I genuinely feel like I've saved SO much money from doing this. 

Another resolution that I followed through on fantastically is dressing for myself (read my 2018 resolutions post if you want more of an explanation on this). I don't try to force things and I only buy pieces/wear outfits that I genuinely like. 

The other two resolutions are a bit more abstract and harder to measure. I really do think I've done a better job of prioritizing my relationships and treating them like the most important thing in my life. I think I've been great about showing my friends I care about them and I've been a lot less selfish this year. On the other hand, I've done an awful job of accomplishing the final resolution - not comparing myself to others. This has always been one of my biggest weaknesses and continues to be. I think spending less time on social media this coming year will help immensely.