Do I need this?

Do I need this?  No, seriously.  Do I really need this?

Every year, I make a new resolution.  I know some people aren’t into this sort of thing.  It never really happens, they say.  You’re only setting yourself up for failure.  I kind of, sort of, partially agree.  But at the same time, I love the idea of setting new goals.  The idea that something wonderful—life changing, even!—has the potential to be achieved.

And that is why, when 2009 rolled into 2010, I made the pact with myself that I would always ask myself one question before purchasing anything.  Do I need this?

All in all, I try to be careful with where the money goes.  For example, I will never—never, never, never—throw food away unless it’s moldy, smelly, or past the point of safety.  Today I made the discovery that freezing overripe bananas can come in super handy…


 Did you know that a frozen banana works just as well as a fresh banana in a morning bowl of oats?

It’s true.

I think I was a little over excited about this idea, as I marveled over the way my oats came out fluffy, sweet, perfect.  It tasted a little like banana bread in a bowl.  Not bad for an almost over ripe banana that might have otherwise been thrown away.

Score one for my New Years Resolution!



  • 1/4 c. each of oatbran and wheat bran
  • 1 very ripe banana, frozen
  • 1 c. milk + 3/4 c. water
  • toppings: Galaxy Granola, chia seeds and peanut butter
  1. Place the water and milk in a saucepan with the frozen banana and bring to a boil.  Add oatbran and place timer for 4-6 minutes.
  2. Halfway through cooking, when oatbran begins to thicken, add wheat bran and stir, stir, stir.  Mash up that banana a little with the back of your spoon.
  3. When cooked to perfection—however you most prefer—pour into bowl and add your favorite toppings!!!


I also like to make heaping salads full of leftovers.  You know, things like the last remains of a salsa jar.  The last carrot and mushroom.  A few garbanzos.  A couple Wasa’s, way back in the closet.  Things like that.

It makes me feel economical.  Money-wise.  On track with my New Year’s Resolution.


 And then there are those times when I’m walking through Whole Foods or Trader Joes, with a growling stomach and a slowly deminishing resolve to stay on budget.  Each isle asking me that one haunting question:

Do you need this?  No, seriously.  Do you need this?

I firmly stood my ground until walking past the nut butters.  When asked that one question, I said YES! to the almond butter.

And a YES! to the medjool dates.

I honestly don’t know how these two items snuck into the cart, but they seemed necessary at the time.  Like water on a deserted island, you know? 

Okay, so my effort to stay on budget could use a little tweaking.  I didn’t really need the almond butter and I certainly didn’t need the dates (gasp).  But I came to the conclusion that being money-wise is a little like a smart, healthy diet.

Balance.  A little give and take.  Learning to say no to some things, yes to others, and knowing that it’s okay to include your favorite things now and then. 

And some dinners are just so darn cheap that they completely make up for it.  Black bean burgers, for example!


 I followed my basic recipe, except I used 3 T. of worcestershire sauce instead of just the one.  It was delicious, and I didn’t need to buy a thing for it from the grocery store.  Cheap, cheap, cheap!

And deliciously nutritious.  Obviously, that is just as important. 😉

On the side, there were sliced veggies from the garden, some sweet potato fries, onions and lots of ketchup.


I highly recommend this recipe, whether you’re attempting to find more affordable meals, tasty vegetarian options, quick lunches-to-go for salads/sandwiches, easy dinners for busy nights, or even if you’re just looking to include more beans into your diet.  Whichever the case, this recipe is one of my personal favorites.  😀 

Question: What are some foods that you like to splurge on?   What are some of your favorite, most afforadable meal & snacks?  I love splurging on good nut butters and yogurts.  Other than that, I like to cook vegetarian meals in between meat meals in order to keep costs lower while also including many of the health benefits. 😀


18 thoughts on “Do I need this?

  1. I feel like I’m very economical about my food, too. I love using frozen bananas in my oats, btw!

    I tend to splurge on nut butters and cereal. My favorite cheap meals/snacks = sardine salad, fried eggs, fruit, bean burgers and leftover salads (like yours), except not all at once, obviously 😉

  2. I always tell the husband that if we “ever get really rich” – I’m going to Whole Foods every day and buy whatever I feel like. Hah, that’s not the case yet…but like you, I always splurge on dates and nuts. And PRODUCE is my favorite cheap food. I can stretch $25 into AT LEAST 4 meals (for 2 people) if they all come from the produce section of the grocery store. That and canned beans…yum.

  3. I like to splurge on nut butters, grass fed meat, seafood, and greek yogurt. All essential in my diet though 😉 Oh and CHEESE. I bought some last week that was $19.99 a pound. Hey, I work my butt off everyday. I deserve it 🙂

  4. yep i am with everyone here on the nut butters. even though almond butter is always the most expensive one i HAVE to buy it 😉
    and good quality bread. i am german, i come from the kingdom of good bread so i need my properly baked bread and not the supermarket kinda thing.
    and my organic fruits and veggies. yep i don’t mind forking out a little more for that.
    you only live once right?

  5. I really, really need to try those black bean burgers. Maybe next week! And I think that when I splurge, I tend to spend it on seafood — a more expensive type like shrimp.

  6. I definitely don’t put limits on myself when it comes to buying nut butters. It’s like air, I just have to have it!! The same goes for fruits and vegetables. I have a tendency to splurge in that department!

  7. I’ve been using frozen banana in a variety of ways, including in my oats, for a while, and you’re right…it’s awesome!! It’s also yummy to blend up some frozen banana with milk & putting it on top of crunchy cereal. The banana just seems so much sweeter & it’s so thick, cold, & yummmmmy! =)

  8. Man, I totally know what you mean by the “do I need this?” question. I find myself buying numerous things that I really really don’t need (especially in the grocery store). If I don’t go in with a game plan, and a full tummy, I usually will splurge and end up spending so much more money than I intended. On a college student budget, this in not ideal. I really need to crack down and only get things if I TRUTHFULLY need them.

  9. Such a great post haha I always ask myself that question while I’m in trader joes or whole foods to buy sometime I wind up not buying anything which is always a disappointment! Trader joes almond butter is by far my favorite nut butter ever it’s so delishhhh! Black bean burgers look amazing! Keep at it girl! xoxo Ashley

  10. I think you were definitely money smart with that almond butter! Trader Joe’s makes the most delicious and inexpensive almond butter around (have you seen the raw maranatha almond butter prices!?!?) So no worries! I don’t think worcestershire is technically vegetarian…maybe there’s another substitute that would work?

    • Great question, and thanks for pointing that out! I always forget that there’s anchovie paste in many worcestershire sauces.

      I’m pretty sure “Annie’s Naturals” at whole foods is a vegetarian version, and there may be others as well (including some vegan.) I’ll try it the next time I go to see how it tastes. 😀

  11. Pingback: Deep breath…relax… « A Spoonful of Life

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