{March Topic: Meal Planning} My Routine

Since moving out on my own, I’m pretty surprised to admit that the most challenging thing I’ve had to deal with has been shopping for food. I finally feel like I’m about 80% there in terms of figuring things out, but some weeks are inevitably better than others. I thought I’d share my “fun” journey as it might help some others that live alone.

When I moved out, I was offered the opportunity to “shop” the shelves at my mom’s house before I bought anything. {Another perk of having family members with hoarding tendencies} I didn’t really have any sort of plan though. Long story short, after a trip to her house and the grocery store and many trips from my car to the kitchen, I realized I’d ended up with a whole lot of condiments, coffee, snacks, and things for lunch, but not much for any other meal. It was pretty comical. A friend even stopped by and asked “Wait, you already went shopping? Where’s the food?!”

The next week, I planned to rectify my lack of any actual food, so I picked out two recipes to make for dinner that week figuring that each one typically lasted my mom and I a couple days. Again, I came back with bags of food, but I had a plan so I was set. It wasn’t until I started cooking that I realized one recipe called for a 1/2 can of soup. I ended up doubling the recipe to use the whole can which ended making it enough food for the week. I never did end up making the other recipe, and a lot of the ingredients went bad. Fail on my part for not checking the recipe in the first place.

One way or another this went on for weeks. Buying too much food, spending too much money, forgetting to cook something before it went bad, and then having a fridge full of food I was stuck with until trash day. A lot of it has been learning what doesn’t make sense to buy, e.g. an entire gallon of milk for 1 recipe and I don’t drink milk. I’d like to think those days are past me, but having a plan has made a big difference in both having a kitchen with actual food and my wallet.

At some point during the weekend, I open up my recipe manager, Paprika, to find a recipe for the next week. As a creature of habit, I’ve grown used to eating one thing for a few days, so one recipe actually works. Another perk to this is I typically only have to really cook once during the week. Lately, I’ve been picking a lot of casseroles because they’re easy enough to make and reheat well. If for some reason I can’t find something I want to make in Paprika, I turn to Pinterest.

Once I’ve picked out a recipe, I add it to Paprika’s Meal Planner just so I can keep track of what I’m making each week, and add any ingredients I’m missing to my Shopping List project in Omnifocus. Paprika actually has it’s own grocery list feature, but I’ve found I prefer Omnifocus because I can set the items I buy frequently to recur every week or every other week. I also like having my lists in one place. I have a “Grocery List” perspective in Omnifocus to show any items with the “Shopping: Grocery Store” context. It’s also a “starred” perspective on my phone, so it’s 1 tap away once I open up Omnifocus when I’m out shopping.

I try to do my grocery shopping on Monday after work partly to save some gas, but mainly because I found myself putting off weekend trips in favor of lounging around the house in pajamas. I try to do most of my shopping at Aldi, but if for some reason, they don’t have somthing, I can save it for a trip to another grocery store or add it onto an order from Amazon. I generally try to keep to my list, but truthfully, Aldi’s prices are low enough on most things that if I throw in a few extra things, I’ll still stay under budget for the month. Another perk of Aldi is that you bring your own bags. One week of groceries fits in 1-2 bags for me, so I’ve eliminated the back and forth trips from car to kitchen.

Monday night is also typically my cooking day. Once I get home, I grab my iPad or computer and open up Paprika to the recipe I’m making. I like to listen to podcasts while cooking too, and while I’m in the kitchen, waiting for my food to cook, I’ll prep my lunches for the week. Doing all the cooking and prep {and cleaning} on one day means the rest of the week is fairly simple. Whatever I made typically lasts me most of the week, which means after work, I just have to pop some left overs in the microwave. By the time the week starts wrapping up and I’ve likely run out of the meal I made, I tend to make something simple from the freezer like a pizza or order carryout from my local Chinese restaurant as a treat for the weekend.

The last step in my meal planning routine takes me back to Paprika. Before I start the process over again for the next week, I use Paprika’s built-in rating system to rate the recipe I picked. My hope is that eventually I’ll be able to use them to simply the recipe picking process down to 10-20 favorites so that I’m not constantly buying new items.


Condo Project – Week 24

This past Saturday, IKEA held their “BYOF” (Bring Your Own Friends) event. If you’ve never attended, it’s basically a normal IKEA day with a lot more people, free breakfast and bag, and some other offers thrown in. After attending the first with my mom last year, I suppose it’s become a tradition. I, of course, took this trip as an opportunity to stock up on all the IKEA goodies I’d been wanting to grab.

Last month, I purchased some Baltimore-themed prints from a wonderful Etsy shop, RetroBookArt. They actually had a promo to buy two get one free which made the deal even sweeter. I’ve been dying to get them up on the wall, so some simple frames were on the list. They were up on the wall within 30 minutes of coming home. They look fantastic, and certainly brighten up the hallway much more than I was expecting. (Side note: Ignore the access panel popping out of the wall. I’m still very much living in a fixer upper. The access panel is merely propped there to keep the cats from going into the walls.)

IMG_3893 2

Next on the list was a set of wall hooks and a door mat for the entry way. After a quick trip to Home Depot to get some anchors, the hooks were up. If there was one thing I’m most pleased with, it had to be these hooks. I can’t tell you how much of a difference it’s made in making my space functional. Instead of running all over my condo when I get home to put things away, everything is right at the door in one place. All that’s left for this space is a “Welcome” sign above the hooks, and the Hemnes shoe cabinet on the opposite wall. I’m also toying with the idea of painting the back of the door with the same aqua spray paint I’ll be using on the dining room chandelier.

IMG_3895 2Something else I picked up were some feet for my remaining Besta cabinetry. I’d managed to utilize all of the cabinets I originally purchased for the wall unit I designed before I moved out except for one. I figured I could use it in my living room, but I needed one more set of feet for it. After waiting months for any IKEA within driving distance to get them back in stock, I learned that IKEA is likely revamping the Besta line, and they might not come back for a while if at all. I wanted to use the cabinet so I came up with plan B: I’d buy any feet that were in stock and swap them out for two of the back feet from the cabinets in my bedroom which you never see. It turned out to be a great plan, and the cabinet went together.IMG_3899 2There was only one problem. After seeing the cabinet together, I realized I had to get another one to balance it out. Back to IKEA I went for a second trip to get more mismatched feet (these went in the back of the TV stand this time) and a second cabinet. The end result gives me a more storage and ties the room together much better. (In case you’ve noticed the picture that’s floating around in the last two pictures, it will be part of the gallery wall I’m putting together in my bedroom, but I don’t have any place to put it right now.) I’ve ordered two mirrors to hang above the end cabinets which will hopefully brighten the room up.

IMG_3901And just for the heck of it, I figured I’d throw in the picture of this room from the listing. I’m still shocked at the transformation.IMG_3896 2Still left on the to-do list for this room:

  • Buy the Hemnes Shoe cabinet
  • A rug
  • Artwork for the fireplace (potential candidate)
  • A larger tv (mounted to the wall)
  • Hanging up the mirrors I ordered
  • Painting the door
  • And some plants and decorative items.

All in all, it’s nice to finally feel like at least one space is nearing completion. My Pinterest board is becoming a reality, little by little.




10 Things I Love About Living Alone

One of the things I always regretted was living at home during my college years. I did eventually move out out of my childhood home, but I only lasted 3 months before deciding to move back home. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to move 20 miles away from campus (vs. 4) to live with friends on a part-time, college-employee paycheck. I quickly realized I was wrong. Living with friends rarely works out. I wasn’t prepared for the expenses. I was cooped up in 1 tiny room with 2 cats, and I definitely didn’t enjoy the long commute.

When it came time to move out a second time, naturally, I was terrified. I bought a home, so this time there was no turning back like before. It was also the first time I was truly living on my own, so everything was up to me.

This week is the 3-month mark of living on my own (the same amount of time I lasted when I moved out the first time), and today it occurred to me that I actually have no desire to move back home. To celebrate, I thought I’d include 10 reasons I enjoy living alone.

  1. No one tells me when to clean my house. – I certainly don’t live in a pigsty, but some days my house is defintely cleaner than others. Either way it doesn’t matter because if I choose to sit on the sofa and watch Netflix while letting my dishes pile up on the coffee table, that’s my choice.
  2. I can choose my own schedule. – If I’m tired at 4PM. I can sleep without someone worrying that I’m sick, and if I’m wide awake at 3AM, I can make myself food and watch TV in the living room without worrying about disturbing anyone.
  3. Sweatpants or no pants, it doesn’t matter. – It’s Winter right now, and quite chilly in my condo, so truthfully, there’s not much “no-pants-ing” happening, but if there was, it wouldn’t matter. I can wear whatever I want all day, and no one judges me.
  4. I save money on make-up. – I’m one of those people who wears at least a little make-up whenever I’m with other people. My skin is not perfect, and I like to at least look presentable in front of people, but now that I live alone, there are truly days where no one is seeing me. If I’m not going out, it might be 7PM when I finally discover that I’ve had raccoon eyes from remnants of yesterday’s mascara because I’ve not looked in the mirror all day.
  5. I can have anyone over whenever I want. – Sure, my mom said I could invite anyone I wanted over her house, but I never felt comfortable doing it. I spent most of my time in my room which was essentially a studio apartment. Bringing a guy friend over immediately created a sense of awkwardness even if we were just watching TV because it was my bedroom and of course boys weren’t allowed when I was younger.
  6. I can eat whatever I want. – If I decide to make myself a grilled cheese 9AM or have cupcakes for dinner, that’s my decision. I still try my best to have a real dinner before I eat dessert most nights though.
  7. Every decorating decision is mine, and mine alone. – Interior design has always been a passion of mine. I’m no expert, but I certainly enjoy seeing my Pinterest boards turn into reality little by little, and when it’s all done I know that it was 100% my vision.
  8. I can do laundry whenever I want. – Since I started doing my own laundry in high school, I’ve done laundry on Sundays. Sadly no one else in my house had any sort of schedule, and as more people moved in, I found myself having to wait for everyone else to finish their laundry before I could start mine. Sunday laundry turned into Sunday at 11PM laundry. Now that I live alone, I know the only time there’s ever going to be laundry left in the dryer is because I didn’t empty it from last time.
  9. No noisy, interrupting roomates or relatives to worry about. – I’m an introvert, so I love my quiet, alone time which is nonexistent when you have a house full of people. Now I can watch a show and not be interrupted by someone wanting to start a conversation with me or study in complete silence in the middle of the day.
  10. I can be weird without being judged. – If for some odd reason, I decide to turn my life into a musical for an hour, dance around the living room to 90s music, or race my cats down the hallway in socks, no one will ever know. (Tip: Don’t race your cats down the hallway in socks. You will probably slip, fall, and of course, because you live alone, no one will ever know.)

Moving out has been fantastic. Any fears I had were primarily about what other people were going to think: What if I became a crazy cat lady or a hermit? What if people thought I was weird for not going out all the time? What if my condo was a mess? Well guess what?! It’s my condo, and no one is there to judge me anyway. Who cares?!



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