It's getting frostier and frostier in the lovely city of Manchester. I know it isn't even Winter yet, but hey - I'm Australian, so it's all cold to me.
Despite the cold: this week has been a dream. I've performed in two amazing plays and not many actors get that lucky so early on in their career! Every day it has been wake up, bus to the theatre, full day of rehearsals and then jump on a train to get to my evening performance. Busy, hectic and in true form of my "struggling actor" persona - I'm living on a very minimal budget. Public transport in the UK is no cheap feat and the world of acting doesn't exactly pay well until you "make it".
With nearly no budget and not a lot of time to prepare food: I had something of a challenge on my hands to keep well fuelled, full of energy and HEALTHY.
But you know me - I love food challenges. I've just completed my gluten-free challenge, an amazing success....so if this week's challenge becomes "Staying Healthy, Happy and Energised While Never at Home and Constantly Rehearsing with Absolutely no Money"?
BRING IT ON!
First thing's first - I cut back unnecessary spending and that's never a bad thing. Abundance of soy mochas, anyone? I am lucky enough to have the luxury of sitting in cafes a lot (my favourite place to blog) and sipping away on a coffee or two. But, once my budget gets tighter it's the first thing to go. Those innocent little pounds spent on coffee build up and it's a simple way to quickly save. Those pounds buy a lot of bananas!
Other unnecessary spending: buying meals out when I just don't need to. I love being social and having dinner with friends, but often I find myself grabbing food out, when I easily could have just packed lunch - so really the challenge becomes managing my time better and perhaps spending fifteen minutes before bed packing a lunch box (which is actually fun!) instead of watching the new episode of America's Next Top Model.
Most evenings - I make myself overnight oats to have ready in the morning and a very simple, HUGE lunch box to keep me fuelled up. Usually this involves dinner leftovers or a heap of chopped up vegetables with my home-made hummus. Or both. Then separate snacks like a bulk bag of dates. Dates are perfect for busy days like this! They give you lots of energy and are inexpensive :)
As ridiculous as it sounds - there are small ways to give yourself extra motivation to make packed lunches. For example - invest in some really cute takeaway containers and started collecting jars! When I did this, quite simply: I wanted to use them. Making a packed lunch became even more fun because I wanted to use my lovely gadgets and making overnight oats with my recycled tahini jar made me feel like some kind of God.
Another benefit from a challenge like this, is that I do genuinely feel healthier when my meals are simple. A big salad with just three or four ingredients digests like a dream and is packed with simple, delicious flavours.
Final benefit to this challenge? It's so nice to prove, meal by meal, that eating healthy is not expensive.
People often tell me that they could not afford to be a vegan or even to eat "healthy" and I find it such a strange claim. Fruits and vegetables are without doubt, the cheapest part of most grocery shops, vegan or not! You do not need weird, crazy supplements, you do not need organic oils you've never heard of, you don't need any fancy ingredients that don't appeal.
All you need are good, healthy staples and these do not have to be expensive!
A simple sweet potato, tomato and lettuce GIANT salad with a tahini dressing for my dinner. A jar of tahini can be as little as 2 pounds (yes organic!) and lasts a while, especially if you use just a tablespoon and bulk that up with lovely lemon juice and water to make a divine dressing.
If on a budget - fill your grocery bag with root vegetables, brown rice, porridge oats and bananas :) Obviously go for as much fresh fruit and greens as possible, but you'll get lots of energy and bang-for-your-buck from those good staples. A great recipe for the wallet, leftover containers and waist line, is a big ratatouille! YUM!
Just involves an onion, tinned tomatoes, whatever veggies you want to chuck in and then a base of brown rice. Cheap and DELICIOUS! Don't believe me? Look below at these ORGANIC tins!
Time to be a bit girly.....
Winter is my favourite time for fashion! I love big jackets, I love scarves and gloves and I love layering up. Winter clothing is the best kind to get from second hand shops! When you go into a charity shop looking for coats, scalves and cardigans, prepare to be wowed....
Again - feeling a bit pretty and dressing like a fox (without the involvement of any kind of real Fox) does not have to be expensive. I am also in love with these polkadott tights that I seem unable to take off....
Excess winter layers also means - yay....guilt free desserts! (I love that I'm pretending to ever feel guilty.) But seriously - no one is gonna be seeing me in a singlet for at least six months, so bring on delicious vegan flapjacks and midnight chocolate pancakes.
The other night, while watching a trashy rom-com, I had a craving and whipped up these bad boys you can drool over below. A very simple vegan pancake recipe with some cocoa sprinkled in. Finished off with a few squares of decadent dark chocolate that melted perfectly over them, hot-off-the-pan. Almost guilt free and took all of five minutes to knock together.
The Flapjack is full credit to one of my favourite spots: The Tea Hive in Chorlton. If you live in Manchester and haven't visited yet - please do. They always have vegan brownies and at least two other cake options. Their vegan sandwich is incredible also.
The other best thing about winter? Waking up to something like this:
Have a wonderful week everyone! Enjoy cheap eating if you must :) Otherwise - well...enjoy your decadent delicious vegan feasts!
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