Simple Couponing 101

Okay eaters!

Tonight we’re talking coupons and it’s going to be a bit of a lengthy one, so let’s skip the pleasantries and get right to it.

Ready…set…go!

I started couponing last summer because I was barely employed and I thought it sounded like something a pre-books, TV shows, insider trading Martha Stewart would have done. I was then, and still am, a very simple couponer.

Where I get my coupons:

As of right now, I get almost all my coupons from the newspaper. I get some from catalinas (those coupons the print out with your receipt) and some from off packages or the random store advertisement.

I’m lucky that my local newspaper puts the potential coupon savings amount on the front page. If it’s less than $100, I buy one paper. Between $200-$300, I buy two. More than $300 and I buy three papers. Once, and only once, the count was $608, at which point I bought five.

What coupons I clip:

I don’t clip every coupon.

Let me repeat that — I do not clip every coupon!

Those couponers from Extreme Couponing clip every single coupon.

“Cat liter? Sure. Diapers and baby food? Of course! Yogurt? The more the merrier. It doesn’t matter if I’m childless, cat-less, and allergic to dairy. If there’s a coupon, I’m clipping it!”

That’s not the best way to go about it.

I only clip the coupons I will use. That means that I rarely use coupons on food, because most food coupons are for crap meat and sugary snacks. I don’t have too much brand loyalty, which makes it easier to find coupons I’ll use. I mainly find and use coupons for house goods and toiletries. I also find a ton of coupons for coffee.

How I use coupons:

I use coupons two ways — the right way and the more right way. The right way is when I use them to save money. The more right way is when I use them in connection with a sale on an item (and sometimes also at stores that double the coupon value and/or have some kind of buyers’ rewards program) to save even more money.

Do you see what I’m getting at here?

There’s no wrong way to use coupons. Anytime you save money is good.

But to save the most money I go through store flyers, most of which come in the same newspaper as the coupons. I take a Sharpie and circle whatever sale items I also have coupons for, I write what the coupon is (i.e. how much it’s worth, how many I have to buy, etc) next to that, and then I write how many total sale-plus-coupon opportunities I find on the front of the flyer. Then, after going through all the flyers, I pick the one or two best stores.

By “best,” I mean the store with the most items to buy and/or the store with the highest percentage of savings. I absolutely refuse to go to more than two stores. I’m a little lazy and I’m not trying to build an apocalypse-grade stockpile. So I force myself to be picky about what deals I go out of my way to get, which ultimately ends up saving me more money.

Once I have my stores and items selected, I make a neurotic list. I list the exact brand, type, and count of the item along with the sale price, the coupon value, the quantity I plan on buying, and what the final price should be. I break things up into different transactions, if necessary, and list the total estimated cost for each transaction.

When I go shopping:

Whether I’m going on a couponing-specific shopping trip or not, I always make sure to take my little coupon folders. Because there’s no wrong way to use coupons, and since it’s common for me to find a surprise sale item, I always want to be prepared to save money.

When I’m going on a couponing-specific shopping trip, I take all my coupons, my neurotic list, a calculator (on my phone), my frequent buyer card, and the sale flyer. This way, when I’m feeling extra neurotic, I can double and triple check the coupon against the item against the advertised sale.

That’s about all the tips I have.

A lot of couponers will tell you that to get the most out of couponing you have to change the way you think about shopping and only buy what’s on sale and what you have a coupon for.

That’s not how I go about it at all. I changed my thinking to allow me to buy things that I normally would when they’re on sale, even if that means going a little over budget one week, in order to save money in the long run. And once I started I had to change my thinking so I wasn’t jumping at every single sale-plus-coupon opportunity and wait for the really good ones.

More than anything, I had to learn that couponing is about restraint and persistence.

So enough talk, let’s see all this in action.

Everything I bought from Harris Teeter.

Everything I bought from Harris Teeter.

coupons2

Everything from Harris Teeter that was on sale (plus the creamer and salsa).

coupons3

Everything from Harris Teeter that I used coupons for.

My total from Harris Teeter was $35.65. I saved $16.58, which was a 32% savings. Not too bad considering I made my list without thought to what was on sale or what I had coupons for.

Everything I bought from Whole Foods.

Everything I bought from Whole Foods.

Nothing from Whole Foods was on sale. I didn’t use any coupons. That’s fine with me.

Everything I bought from Walgrees, all of which was on sale and I did have a coupon for.

Everything I bought from Walgrees, all of which was on sale and I did have a coupon for.

My total for Walgreens was $43.62. I saved $58.09, which was a savings of 57%. This shopping trip was specifically for couponing.

As you can see, I don’t live off my stockpile, nor do I eat crap because it’s cheap. I still buy things that are full price, but I manage to save a good bit of money nonetheless. And now that I finally have a printer, which means I have access to a whole world of healthy coupon websites now, hopefully I’ll be able to save even more money.

coupons6

What do you think, eaters:

Did I leave anything out?

How do you feel about coupons?

Later eaters!

Return to the Farmer’s Market

Hiya eaters!

I hope all of you have tomorrow off and are thoroughly enjoying your 3-day weekend.

I actually have tomorrow off and I always have Sundays off, which means that I have a real 2-day weekend. It’s amazing. Amazing in the way where I don’t even know what to do with myself.

I’ll probably end up cleaning tomorrow. Because I’m bored.

But let’s rewind a little to Saturday, which marked my return to the farmer’s market.

I’m lucky that there’s a farmer’s market about 15 minutes from my house that’s open year round. The pickings are pretty slim in the winter, though. And my work schedule isn’t always conducive to going on Saturday mornings. (And it’s nothing compared to my beloved Marylebone Market, which I miss so so dearly.)

So it’s been quite a while since I’ve gone to the market.

But this weekend worked out perfectly. And apparently, it worked out perfectly for everyone else in town, too, because I have never seen so much traffic.

We pushed on, though. And I was thrilled to see all the beautiful berries.farmers market1

And the cut flowers.

farmers market3

And the garden flowers.

farmers market4

And absolutely everything else.

So.Many.Berries.

So.Many.Berries.

We ended up with a massive haul and, while it wasn’t dirt cheap (like Marylebone was) nor was it all organic (like I buy from Whole Foods), I’m more than happy knowing that it was all local and all delicious.

Loot:farmers market5

Blueberries, strawberries, radishes, spring onions, corn, pork chops, hot Italian sausage, eggs, bell peppers, broccoli, and a cucumber.

We’ve got big plans for all this delicious food and, thanks to a trip to WF today to fill in some holes, we’ve got an especially delicious meal plan for the week. And because I know I can always use some more meal planning inspiration, here’s a rough look at ours for the week.

  • Sunday: grilled pork chops and grilled corn.
  • Monday: pizza on homemade whole wheat crust topped with vegetables and Italian sausage.
  • Tuesday: big salads with vegetables, bacon, chicken, and avocado.
  • Wednesday: spring onion, pea, and sausage pie inspired by this recipe.
  • Thursday: chicken and roasted vegetable pasta salad.
  • Friday: we leave for a long weekend in Georgia.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got for tonight. I’ve got to get my butt to bed so I can get up in the morning for Crossfit. I’m really worried we’re doing “Murph” tomorrow.

What about you, eaters:

Where do you buy your food?

What’s on your meal plan for the week?

Later eaters!

Trader Joe’s Stock Pile

‘Ello eaters!

Today has been freaking fantastic!

I overslept and went to the 10am Crossfit session. I ate a late, leisurely brunch. I took a shower and then put my pajamas back on. And then I did numerous other relaxing but still mildly productive things.

It was awesome!

And speaking of awesome, I really have to show you my haul from Trader Joe’s this weekend.

If you don’t know, let me inform you a bit about my love for Trader Joe’s.

I love it. I really love it. I love their selection of unique products. I love their prices. I don’t care one little bit that a lot of their products have just been re-branded. I really wish that there was a location near me (though the Winston-Salem store opens Oct 26!), but since there isn’t one, I stock up whenever I can. I usually only come across a TJ’s when I’m in Virginia Beach.

That’s about the gist of my relationship with one.

Oh, and I almost got kicked out of one for taking pictures. The manager was very unfriendly and treated my like a little kid.

But I didn’t let that ruin my relationship with Joe.

So, this past weekend I stocked up, possibly more than I’ve ever stocked up before.

I got my usual, staples.

2 tubs of animal crackers, 3 bags of almond meal, 2 jars of coconut oil, 2 jars of black bean dip, nuts, 2 jars of a fun dip/spread (this time it was roasted red pepper sauce), a fun nut butter (cocoa almond meal), and a curry simmer sauce.

And then I veered off the path a little to try some new things.

Kale chips!, dried mushrooms, smoked paprika, 2 cans of LIGHT coconut milk, toasted sesame oil, pureed butternut squash soup.

And, because I occasionally have some forethought, I even reserved a few things for Thanksgiving — dried wild mushroom medley, roasted red pepper sauce, and pureed soup.

And the most impressive thing is that I managed to score this $65 haul in less than 20 minutes at 2pm on a Friday (read: crawling with soccer moms pre-carpool).

Yup, I am a gosh darn Trader Joe’s champ.

And now I’m eating animal crackers dipped in leftover ganache, because I can.

What do you think, eaters:

Do you love Trader Joe’s?

What are your staple, favorite TJ’s products?

G’night eaters!

Guilford Farm CSA

‘Ello eaters!

I’m pretty damn exhausted right now thanks to a 6:30am Crossfit session, a shift at work, and 4 hours of class.

I would like to fall asleep while eating chocolate cake, please and thank-you.

Despite all my business there was a very bright point in my day — my first CSA pick up!

For those that don’t know, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It means that people buy “shares” of a farm for a season. And for however long the season is these “shareholders” pick up an evenly divided amount of produce every week, twice a week, every other week, or what have you.

The fun of a CSA is that you have no idea (or control) of what or how much will be your share. It all depends on what’s flourishing and failing on the farm.

For some people that unknown is a little maddening. How do you meal plan for that? How do you keep from eating the same thing for months on end? (I’m thinking of all the zucchini I saw on the blogosphere this summer.)

For others, though, it’s a great way to insure you’re not only eating the freshest possible produce, but also produce you may not eat all that often.

I have no idea which side I’ll fall on with my CSA, but that’s why the deal I got is so awesome.

Let me explain:

I go to Guilford College, which is quite possibly one of the most environmentally conscious schools ever. Not only do we have two directional flushing toilets (so as not to waste water), but as of a year or so ago we have a pretty sizeable organic farm.

I think the farm was originally supposed to supply food solely for the dining hall, but I guess that’s not the case since this summer I heard about its CSA program. And after only a few short weeks on a waiting list I got an email that I was up for a spot for a shortened season that started today!

So not only did I luck out by not having to wait too long, but the farm is all organic, it’s only $15/week (which is pretty cheap) and this mini season is only three weeks long.

That last one is an extra bonus for me since I don’t know how I’ll like the CSA, so I can give up my spot after three weeks. And believe it or not, I’m actually a little afraid of commitment.

But enough talk, let’s oogle some vegetables.

Loot (all organic):

Are those Japanese eggplants? I really don’t know eggplant.

3 (Japanese?) eggplants, 1 bell pepper, 6 hot peppers, 1 bundle Swiss chard, 1 bag salad mix, 1 big bunch bok choy, 1 small bundle basil.

Let me just say, I’m pretty jazzed about this haul. Not only is it entirely organic (did you know that? Should I say it a few more times?), but I definitely got my money worth.

At Whole Foods I would pay about $1.50 for an organic bell pepper, $4 for a pound of organic eggplant, $5 for that 1.5 lbs bok choy, $3.50 for the Swiss chard, $2.50 for the salad mix, and already I’m at $16.50. And that’s before the hot peppers and basil, which are the most expensive parts!

So far so good with this whole CSA thing. (Yes, I realize I’ve only been in the CSA for a couple of hours. Give me a break, I’m excited.)

I’ll be sure to do a little recap when this season is over at the end of October.

What do you think, eaters:

Have you or would you ever join a CSA?

Do you like surprises or do you have to be in control?

G’night eaters!

PS — If you’re interested in information about this CSA, shoot me an email at kara_h_thomas @ yahoo . com (without the spaces). I’ll be happy to give you more specifics.

Meal Planning 101

Hiya eaters!

To say that I’m mentally exhausted would be an understatement. I am definitely paying for putting off all my homework this weekend. And I still have more homework to do after I post this.

College is fun, isn’t it?!

But enough griping about homework. Let’s talk about class.

I realized today, while I was sitting in class making my meal plan for the week, that I have become pretty dang awesome at meal planning and grocery shopping. So awesome, in fact, that I almost feel qualified to give you advice on it.

And since there’s no “almost” in the blog world, here’s a little insight into how I go about planning and shopping for my food every week.

First: Figure out how many meals to plan.

I generally plan for a week, knowing that we’ll eat out once and wing it (leftovers or odd bits put together) once. So I know I should plan 4-5 meals each week.

If you can't tell, I do have more in my freezer than Smirnoff and coffee.

Second: I check my freezer for protein.

I base my meals around protein, whether it be plant or animal. And Leon and I tend to buy it in bulk whenever it’s on sale (which is why we currently have 6 blocks of tofu, a couple balls of ground beef, and two chicken carcasses), so it almost all ends up in the freezer.

So when planning I aim to use at least three pieces of protein from the freezer. It cuts down on paying full price for what is usually the most expensive part of a meal. It also gives me some limits to make figuring out meals less overwhelming.

Third: I check my favorite basics.

I may not be as predictable as serving spaghetti every Thursday, but I am still predictable enough to go back on my favorites — tacos, stir fries, pizzas, one pot meals. I make at least one, if not two of those a week.

For example, this week I’m planning to make pizza and seitan chili. Knowing that I’ve got those two meals on lock makes the rest of planning easier.

My groceries this week.

Fourth: I check Pinterest.

Yes eaters, Pinterest is for more than pictures of DIY projects you’ll never do or hairstyles you want to try. It is also a pretty great place to find recipes. Because when you think about it you eat with your eyes first, so seeing pictures of recipes is really rather helpful.

I pin things throughout the week, so when it comes time for planning I just pull up my “Cooking Springboard” board and see what I either have the protein, time, or random ingredients for.

All of these were once specialty ingredients.

Fifth: I fill in the blanks.

No one is enough of a meal planning wiz that they can use ever ingredient for two meals and not waste a single bit. Or at least, I’m not.

I buy ingredients that I only need a tablespoon of. I buy two kinds of cheese when I could probably make due with one and save a little bit. But I don’t have too much brand loyalty. And I do know that once that specific ingredient is in my arsenal I’ll use the heck out of it.

Left: groceries. Middle: costs. Right: meals.

Sixth: I make a list and stick to it strictly.

Isn’t that everyone’s trick? Stay away from impulse buys. Know how much things cost and buy in bulk when they’re cheap. Clip coupons. Plan. Plan. Plan.

And that’s about it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got homework to do.

Your turn, eaters:

What’s your meal planning process?

What’s your favorite meal to make? My basics could use some refreshing.

G’night eaters!

Single Lady Stuff

Hellooooo eaters!

All I can say is “D’oh!”

I totally spaced last night and forgot it was Sunday. Hence the missing blog post.

But I know today is Monday, so let’s do things.

Yesterday was a day. A long, busy, productive day, but a good one.

Ya see eaters, on Saturday Leon left to spend a week up in Vermont with his family. I’m pretty jealous, because Leon’s family is hilarious and wonderful and I need a vacation. But because of work, that didn’t work out.

Oh well.

I’m choosing to look on the bright side. I’m choosing to think about all the wide open possibilities this week holds. I’m choosing not to focus on the fact that I’m now solely responsible for walking Charlie and washing dishes and that I never remember if trash gets picked up on Tuesday or if it gets put out on Tuesday night.

So to kick off my week of single lady stuff I bought a glue gun and made a wreath for our front door.

I was going for something that could last through at least early fall. This works, right?

Yup, I’m wild and crazy.

And I took advantage of Leon not being here (because we learned quickly that we shouldn’t go to the hardware store together), and bought a bunch of flowers at Lowes.

These have since been successfully planted. Hopefully they won't die.

I also bought a cactus, because I love them and they’re just low maintenance enough that I can’t kill it.

Isn't it cute?

Because with all the dishes and dog walking and laundry, I really don’t need any more responsibilities, right?

But the single lady fun didn’t stop at just prettying up the house. Nope, it extended all the way to meal planning and grocery shopping.

Yes eaters, I am a fun, vivacious college student. Why do you ask?

Loot:

Local eggs, organic spinach, organic bell peppers, organic zucchini, organic eggplant, organic sweet potatoes, ciabatta, local pork bratwursts, local fresh catfish, Colby jack cheese, organic green leaf lettuce, mozzarella, baby bella mushrooms, 365 brand Greek yogurt.

I still have to pick up a couple of things from Teeter, but once I fill in the holes I’ll be more than ready for a week of fun single lady eating.

And as you can tell from my shopping list, my version of single lady eating doesn’t include berry parfaits or smoked salmon finger sandwiches.

Yup, it’s going to be a good week.

Your turn, eaters:

What do you do when you have time to yourself?

Do you eat differently with friends/significant others than you do alone?

Later eaters!

#SurviveOn35, Or Close To It

Hi eaters!

Long time no see, right?

(Or maybe that should read, “Long time no write?” Ahhh, homonyms!)

Anyway, a lot of things conspired on Thursday that made going out to eat with friends and then putting on a pretty dress and drinking beer in several locations a lot more appealing than blogging.

I would apologize, but I’m sure you skip out on reading here in order to go out and live it up every now and then, so I’m going to call it even.

Anywhoo, today being Sunday meant that both Leon and I were off from work and refused to do anything that we didn’t want to do. But since I’m a little weird, I went grocery shopping because the grocery store is my happy place.

Oh who am I kidding?! If you’re here than chances are the grocery store is your happy place, too.

I’m so glad you understand me.

Anywhoo once again, today while grocery shopping I got to thinking about my budget. I haven’t talked about grocery shopping or budgeting for food in a hot minute, so I figured it was high time to talk about it.

Another thing that prompted me to get talking about budgeting is this whole #SurviveOn35 thing you’ve probably seen around Twitterland.

If you’re in the dark about this, it’s a challenge thrown out by Anytime Fitness to some Fitfluential ambassadors for them to survive on just $35/week for food. (Specifically, $35/week for every adult and $20/week for every child in the household.)

$35 is the amount that people on government food stamps get each week and Anytime Fitness and Fitfluential want to show that it’s not only possible for an adult to eat 21 meals a week on $35, but that they can do it healthily.

I think that’s awesome. And the main reason that I think it’s awesome is because I used to #SurviveOn35 every single week.

That was my weekly food budget when I was a sophomore cooking in an electric wok and a microwave in my tiny dorm.

(Side note — I need to bring “offing bitches” back into my vocabulary. Click the link above and you’ll understand.)

Things have changed since then. I now have a real kitchen and live with a real boyfriend who likes to eat meat.

My grocery budget may not be as trim as it was back then, but I am happy to say that it’s not too bloated either.

For a week of food for two people, we spend roughly $80.

That’s not too far off from the government’s $70 and considering how chock full o’organics, meat, and Whole Foods our kitchen is, I don’t think it’s half bad.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a tried and true way to widdle your grocery budget, nor do I have a pattern that I follow when I’m making my shopping list. But I do have some tips, so here goes:

Only plan dinners. You can generally get away with only really planning dinners. You know what you like to eat for breakfast and lunch, so make those ingredients your staples and stock up whenever they’re on sale.

Make a quarter of your meals meatless. For every four dinners I plan at least one is meatless. A block of tofu is ~$3.50 (tempeh is slightly less) and it can feed 2-3 people.

Buy whole chickens! Leon and I buy a whole chicken and then butcher it. From a chicken we get 2 breasts, 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 tenders, and a big carcass. Depending on the size of the chicken we often split a breast or thigh, so a single chicken can yield us up to 6 meals, plus whatever we make out of the carcass.

Plan a garbage meal. Rather than waste the bits and scraps hanging around at the end of the week, we always plan the last meal of the week as a garbage meal. That can mean throwing it all on a pizza, in a stirfry or a salad. Whatever it is, it should require AT MOST 3 specific ingredients.

Limit yourself to 2 specialty items a week. A specialty item is anything that you only need a little bit of for a recipe, namely a condiment, seasoning, or fresh herb. Everything else you buy should be things that you will use all of (or most of) in that week. And if it’s a perishable item, like fresh herbs, at least two meals should include it.

A current shopping trip.

And that’s all I’ve got for you. Besides that, my tricks include making a meal plan, not buying things off my list (unless they’re on sale shelf stable items I regularly use), and not planning on having grass-fed steak every week.

Yup, it’s all pretty basic. I wish it was more of a rocket science so it could be taught and mastered, but it’s more…instinct I guess you could call it.

Your turn, eaters:

Give me your best budgeting — for groceries and otherwise — tip.

Are any of my tips bad? If so, please correct me.

G’night eaters!

Disclaimer — I wasn’t one of the bloggers chosen by Anytime Fitness to #SurviveOn35 and blog about it. This is just my 2 cents.

Mini Milestones

Hiya eaters!

As you can tell, I took the day off from blogging yesterday. It was a holiday night. My friends were having a BBQ. We took Charlie to the party, making it not only his first social engagement, but also the first time he was around a lot of other people out of his home. He handled it well. I was nervous the whole time that he was unhappy or scared.

It was still a great night.

And all in all, this weekend has been one of mini milestones.

On Friday morning I went grocery shopping (at Earth Fare, of course!) and came back with the most ah-maze-ing haul.

Loot:

Organic spinach x2, organic red leaf lettuce, organic bell pepper, organic zucchini, cucumber, organic gala apples, organic carrots, bacon, GT’s original kombucha, ground turkey, organic button mushrooms, Stonyfield plain low fat yogurt, frozen okra, organic millet, organic dried chickpeas, organic parsley, organic yellow onion.

This is the kind of grocery shopping I want to do more — bags absolutely packed with beautiful, organic, fresh (and frozen) produce, some bulk buys, and very little else.

LOVE plants!

And in this trip there were two mini milestones.

First, I broke out of my bulk bin rut.

I’ve been stuck in a quinoa-black bean bulk rut for way too long. This is my attempt to break free.

Second, I bought what will hopefully be my last store-bought kombucha ever!

I’m trying my hand at home-brewing this tangy fermented tea because now that Leon likes it (he calls it “weird hangover juice” because it does wonders for a hangover), it was getting way too expensive to support two people’s habits.

I’ll keep you posted on the brewing.

Later that day we also broke out of our pizza rut. We have a usual — sausage, green peppers, and onions — that we get EVERYWHERE. Unfortunately, our usual wasn’t so great from Spring Garden Pizzeria, right across the street. So rather than drive across town to our favorite pizza place (Pie Works), we tried a different kind of pizza.

Lucky #7.

This was a tad meatier than I generally like my pizza (I’m not a meat lovers girl anymore), but dang was it good.

Another milestone came when I FINALLY decided to satisfy my craving for a Dunkin Donuts chocolate glazed donut.

I’ve had this craving sporadically for weeks now, but whenever I was near a DD I wasn’t craving it and whenever I was craving it I wasn’t near a DD.

Oh so good.

It’s been a vicious cycle.

Luckily, though, we live about a mile from a DD so when Leon and I had a free bit of time and Charlie was in need of a walk, we decided to kill three birds with one stone — get me a donut, walk Charlie, and get Charlie less scared of walking on sidewalks near busy (not neighborhood) streets.

Mmmmmmdonut.

It was a big success all around.

A couple other milestones of the weekend included me doing my second Pinterest-inspired DIY project and my first attempt at trying to make Charlie into my running partner.

But both of those things deserve their own post, so that’ll come soon.

Your turn, eaters:

Did you have any mini (or BIG) milestones this weekend? Recently?

What’s your usual pizza?

Later eaters!

Routine Deviations

G’day eaters!

Let’s jump right into it and get down to real talk.

Real talk topic: routines.

For good or for bad, I’m a routine person. I like to have a general plan for what I’m going to do depending on the day of the week. Having that routines takes a lot of the guess work and indecisiveness out of my life.

When all else fails, defer to the routine.

So it’s a bit of a miracle that I resisted most of my urges to routine while here in London. Generally, every day has been different and I’ve loved it.

But since I can’t change my routine-y nature, I’ve let Sunday be routine-tastic. I bask in my routine and rarely answer the phone in avoidance of any and all routine-breakers.

Yup, it’s intense.

But considering this is my LAST WEEK in London, as a show of just how much I’ve grown over these past 14 weeks, I even deviated a bit from my favorite routine-filled day.

I’m going all out here, eaters.

I went out on Saturday night, rather than staying in (to avoid the chance of a hangover) like I usually do.

I sipped guzzled cheap mojitos with an old camp friend and his friends (who knew the barman, hence the cheap drinks).  It was a proper good time and I really need to learn to keep in touch with people better so I can have more nights like that.

Sunday I woke up and leisurely ate breakfast while I made my grocery list. Then I dawned my Toms and hit the city.

Toms and farmers markets are such a perfect pair.

And just like every Sunday for quite a while, I got off at the Baker Street Tube stop, which is like a shrine to Sherlock Holmes.

And just like every Sunday, I dodged tourists taking pictures with this statue.

People do know that Sherlock Holmes was fictional, right?

I walked down the street, trying not to trip on the uneven tiles, and eventually ended up at the land car park of plenty.

Chegworth apples and pears are so lovely.

I took my time. I savored all the gorgeous food. I realized that I may never be back at this market. Realizing that you’re doing something for the last time makes the experience entirely new.

I was a little extra chatty with the vendors that have been growing my food for months. All of them are so wonderful.

I bought food that I didn’t need just because it was pretty. I’m really committed to having a rainbow on my plate.

Loot:

The eggs were a very worthwhile splurge.

Organic rainbow chard, organic apples, organic sprouting broccoli, organic leeks, organic carrots, organic free range eggs.

Then, like every other Sunday, I made the Tube ride back, clutching my precious bag of food and trying to keep it from touching anything or anyone. I look like a loon, but I’m okay with that.

After some unintentional couch time, I went to the gym. I did a fun tricep and ab pyramid workout. And, per usual, the muscle men looked at me a little crazy while I was knocking out burpees.

This sign makes it seem like a dance club, right?

Once I finished working my way up the pyramid, I headed down the street to Whole Foods in all my sweaty glory.

This probably won’t be the last time I’m at this Whole Foods (I may take mother there for Thirsty Thursday), but I still took my time. I slowly browsed the aisles, oogling the fun foodie things I never tried.

Seeing all those fun things I never ate, and all the things I ate and loved, inspired me.

So in addition to my usual groceries…

Loot:

Organic spinach, organic bean sprouts, smoked tofu, soymilk, bananas, rooibos tea, green bell pepper, clementines, goat gouda, multigrain bread.

I indulged and picked up some little gifts (that are probably for myself).

Gifts:

I'm a sucker for a canvas tote.

Pudding chocolate bars, Bean & Seed Cornish sea salt dark chocolate, Suffolk mustard, Cool Chilli Co chipotle ketchup, HP brown sauce, and a diamond jubilee tote bag.

Once my fridge was thoroughly stocked (really, how am I going to eat all this?!), I did the unthinkable.

I completely deviated from my routine.

I didn’t chop vegetables for salads, like I normally do. I didn’t blog, like I always do. I didn’t do laundry, like I wanted to.

Instead, I went over to hang out with my friend Polly in the posh hotel she’s staying in while her mother is visiting.

We drank tea and ate little cakes. We ordered room service (roasted quail with leeks and curried lentils) and drank wine. We watching movies — The Full Monty, for school, and Dirty Dancing, because it’s awesome.

I got home at midnight and immediately went to bed.

It was the most glorious deviation.

Your turn, eaters:

Are you a routine person?

Do you bring back foodie gifts from a vacation?

Bonus  — Does anyone have any clue why there was no kale to be found in London yesterday?

Later eaters!

Sun In London

G’evening eaters!

The UK finally had daylight savings time so I’m not back to being 5 hours ahead of EST, which means that my already not too predictable posting time will be an hour later.

Consider yourself warned.

But this weekend had far more excitement than just switching my clocks. Oh no, this weekend was pretty much a hoot.

It started on Friday when some friends and I went out looking for a bar to have a couple “low key cocktails.”

In case you don't know what cocktails look like.

HA! I think it’s brilliant that literally every time I go out saying I want just a low key drink or two it ends up being a pretty wild night.

I won’t go into all the details, but it was a hoot and a half. AND I didn’t do anything I regret. Hot damn hooray!

I'm so happy to be having fun.

On Saturday morning m’lady friend Maddie and I got up early (WHY do I always wake up early after drinking?) to drink coffee and eat pear pastries in the sun.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous in London this weekend, and we wanted to really soak it up because you never know the next time it’s going to rain.

After breakfast we set about checking something off our London To Do lists — Borough Market. This is a huge market that runs every Thursday-Saturday. It’s kind of near the Cannon House tube stop, FYI.

I like white truffle oil, not black.

Maddie and I wandered around for a bit, tasting so many different jams and chutneys and fancy oils.

There were also a ton of spice vendors, which was lovely.

After we’d had a thorough appetizer of samples we eat picked out lunch.

Maddie’s choice:

Some kind of chorizo sandwich.

My choice:

A beef and vegetable pasty.

Pasties might be the coolest use for leftovers I’ve ever seen. Take some leftover stew, soup, curry, etc., roll it up in some pastry, and bake. Really, I was in heaven.

And then I was even more in heaven as I digested while sitting on the Thames river walk and soaking up the sun. I actually started getting a little hot sitting there in a t-shirt and jeans.

Ilovespringandsummerandhotweather!

On Sunday the weather was equally amazing, which made my weekly trip to the Marylebone Market even lovelier.

Marylebone is in a car park and it's really not that big, but it's glorious.

And my haul was lovely, per usual.

Loot:

Organic red cabbage, lettuce, organic carrots, organic dino kale, organic coriander, organic apples, organic pasture-raised smoked bacon.

After that shopping trip I mustarded up the motivation to go to the gym. I did a supersets workout for the first time in forever and it was so tough. More on that in a few days.

But once I regained the ability to lift my arms, I went to Whole Foods.

Loot:

PB, clementines, jalapeno, red bell pepper, organic cage free eggs, Cool Chile Co corn tortillas, multigrain bread, chocolate bars, Pack Tunch bars, avocado, Cool Chile Co Chipotle Ketchup, tilapia fillets, Provemal soy milk, Adnams Innovation beer, Guatemalan coffee.

This weekend came full circle for me at WFs because at Borough Market I bought a tin of smoked paprika (my favorite spice ever!). I didn’t need it, but I got excited when I say a booth all about Mexican food and the guy was cute.

Then when I was looking for tortillas I found these tortillas from the same company! And then I saw the Chipotle Ketchup that I tasted yesterday, so I had to get that too, of course.

What can I say, I love Mexican food. And cool graphics.

And that’s all the rambling I’ve got for you today. Fun times, right?

What do you think, eaters:

What’s your favorite season?

Do you sample at markets?

G’night eaters!