How to Eat for $100 a Week

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Organic eggs, freshly baked bread, almond milk, baby spinach, apples, bananas, ground turkey breast…the list goes on. Quality ingredients, especially healthy ones, are pricey.

Don’t let your budget stop you from buying healthy food for you or your family. I can honestly say that my husband and I grocery shop each week for $100, sometimes less. (Obviously, if you’re a family of four, then $100 might not be possible. However, the words healthy and budget can be used in the same sentence.)

Do we live off of ramen and beans and rice? Nope. In fact, we do most of our shopping in the “outer rim” of the grocery store. By this I mean, the produce department, bakery, deli, and meat department. We venture very little in the aisles, for they mostly contain highly processed and prepared foods. (Know what you’re putting in your body!)

But how is this possible? Can two people really eat healthy for $100 a week? Yes indeedy! We’ve been eating on that budget since we got married. My husband and I have adopted the Dave Ramsey budgeting practices. I will go into our budgeting life in a future post, but I’ll tell you right now–budget together. It’s something that has really strengthened us.

So basically, we walk into the grocery store with an envelope of $100 in cash and our grocery list/meal plan. Can you buy all organic for $100? No, unfortunately. But select items, yes. We like organic eggs and we splurge on certain vegetables. This $100 covers breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two for an entire week.

Shop sales, choose grocery store brands over name brands, and don’t buy a ton of “extras.” Purchase snacks and whatnot, but don’t go overboard. That’s what’ll bring you over budget.

Some meals I make require more ingredients than others. Therefore, when I meal plan for the week, I try to select one simpler (and cheaper) meal and one meal that requires more ingredients. This helps me stay on budget. Read more about how I meal plan here.

The moral of the story is, eating for $100 a week for two people or less is totally doable. If you eat out for dinner every night, you would very quickly go over $100. So, grab your purse, head on over to your local grocer, and enjoy healthy food that’ll make your body (and your budget) happy! 🍅😊

Me, You, and Tiramisu 

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Tiramisu is one of those awesome, fancy desserts you pay $9 for a small slice at a restaurant. What if I told you that it’s actually really easy to make, and it’ll have you feeling like a boss when you serve this?

I’ll tell you right now, make this easy dessert for your next dinner party, and you’ll blow away your guests. It looks and tastes like it was really challenging to make. But it’s so easy and fun! (But they don’t need to know that. 😏)

Every year, I make my guy a dessert for Valentine’s Day. This year I made him tiramisu because it’s his absolute favorite. I had never made it before, so I was a little nervous.

My Nonna (that’s Italian for grandma), had an amazing recipe she used to make. So, I pulled out her recipe and set to work. If you’ve been looking for a tiramisu recipe, look no further. This is the one. It’s written in her beautiful handwriting. I will tell you more about Nonna and my Nonno and their story in a future post. (It’s a good one 😉 )

Nonna's Tiramisu

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 Box of Lady Fingers

1 cup of heavy cream

3 TBS of coffee liquor

5 TBS of mascarpone cheese

2 cups of strong coffee or espresso

Cocoa powder

Cinnamon

Directions:

Using a mixer, whip cream, coffee liquor, and mascarpone cheese until stiff. Next, dip the lady fingers in the cooled coffee or espresso. Lay the dredged lady fingers in a dish. Pour some of the whipped cream mixture over top. Sprinkle a mixture of cocoa powder and cinnamon overtop the cream. Make one more layer and finish by sprinkling more cocoa powder and cinnamon. Refrigerate overnight. Serve cold.

Note: Mascarpone cheese has a similar texture to cream cheese and can be found where your grocery store sells their speciality cheeses.

One of the reasons I love cooking so much, is that it is so much more than simply preparing food to be eaten.  It is sharing something. It is sharing a story, sharing love, a means of expression. On Valentine’s Day, I didn’t make Billy just any tiramisu. I made him Nonna’s tiramisu. Spread the love, and sprinkle some cinnamon.

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Meet My Apartment Part 2: Living

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Welcome, back friends! If you haven’t read Meet My Apartment: Part 1, be sure to check that out before you continue reading. Today, I’d like to highlight the living room of my apartment.  This is my favorite room. There is such a tranquil vibe in here, and nothing relaxes me more than sitting on that sofa with some green tea and Gilmore Girls.

When you first get an apartment or a home, you have this blank canvas. An empty space. And it can be shaped and molded into anything you can imagine.  It’s rather exciting, taking an empty room, and making it something beautiful. In last week’s Meet My Apartment, you saw what this room looked like virtually empty. But looking at the picture above, it now has a theme, a vibe, an atmosphere.

Taking a blank slate and making it all your own can be intimidating.  How do you make a space flow? How do you make it make sense? How do you create a room that is inviting and functional at the same time?

First, you need a theme. Are you going for a modern look? A minimalistic look? Perhaps upscale? Or maybe cozy and warm? When creating the theme for this space, I wanted a cozy atmosphere, with vintage touches to compliment the natural charm of the apartment.

Second, you need a color pallet.  The color pallet gives you something to go off of when selecting decor and furnishings.  We’ve chosen mint and gold as the color pallet for pretty much our entire apartment.  This gives a flow to our home.

If you have a solid theme and color pallet for your space, you have the beginnings of a beautiful room/home.

Let’s talk about the lovely details, shall we?

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Pictured above is my favorite piece in the entire apartment: my Grandma’s cedar chest that she had since she was 13 years old.  I had been wanting a trunk for a coffee table for a really long time.  When we first got the apartment, my Grandma called my mom and asked her if I’d be interested in having her cedar chest.  She had no clue that I had been wanting one.  I was so excited to receive this special beauty.  It will no doubt be a part of our home forever.  It is truly a gorgeous piece and a perfect nod to our vintage theme.

The rug adds some nice texture and defines the space.  I like how it’s not floral or too distracting.  The TV stand is your classic Ikea shelf.  Functional, but looks nice and clean.

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So, how do you style a coffee table? Well, there are no rules.  However, a great place to start is with a tray.  This red tray with gold flowers was given to me by my parents.  Place some pretty/decorative books in a stack and place a small plant on top.  Then, have a nice catalog or coffee table book for guests to flip through.

Display “special things” on a high shelf to make them stand out.  This solid oak clock has our names and anniversary on it.  It was handmade by one of my husband’s best friends.  The Willow Tree figurine was a gift from my hubby to me on our first married Christmas together. 🙂

Remember, not everything has to be hung in a frame on the wall.  Hang some succulents from the ceiling.  These were super inexpensive from Michaels.  Hanging string lights from the windows gives a cozy ambiance to the room. Coffee, string lights, and a book- I’m in my happy place.

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The picture above just says “sanctuary.” Soft colors, warm accents, and cozy textures. Again, the mint striped pillows and gold pillows (from Target) tie in the color pallet.  The gallery wall has lots of gold touches as well.  I love how metallics add a sort of richness to a look.  In a future post, I will give my tips to creating the perfect, balanced gallery wall!

I’m a lover of all things cream and sweater-like.  I wish I could tell you where I bought this gorgeous blanket, but it’s not store-bought! My Grandma Nancy made this for me as a bridal shower gift.  Stunning! So many intricacies in its pattern. Another favorite of mine.

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They say “home is where the heart is.” I think our heart is stamped all over this beautiful space. Love is sprinkled on every detail.

My greatest advice for aspiring decorators, is to be intentional with every detail. Don’t just throw a bunch of nicknacks on a shelf. Select them intentionally. May your apartment/home share your story and speak your heart. “The Brown Abode” is a painting of our love.

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My Day as a Food Photographer’s Assistant

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Greetings dear friends!

I can hardly contain my excitement as I write to you this evening as I had the most fantastic day today.

Ever since I was a little girl, food has been a big part of my life.  Being a part of an Italian family, I like to say I was “raised in the kitchen.” Visits to my Nonna and Nonno’s house always consisted of being bombarded with delicious goodies to taste and concocting new recipes in the kitchen.  There was so much love in their kitchen.

My Nonna taught my Mom how to cook and my Mom taught me how to cook. When I was homeschooled, almost every night I’d help my Mom prepare dinner.  I considered this a nightly “cooking class.” I gained a great wealth of culinary knowledge at this time.  At age 10, my cooking passion had begun.  Pretending I had my own cooking show was a daily ritual. My imagination thrived as I’d say, “Hi everyone, my name is Julia and welcome to Italian Cucina.” (That was the name of my “show.”)

As I’ve grown up, my love for cooking has only grown.  Being a home cook is something I enjoy and take pride in.

This past week, a very successful and knowledgable real food and lifestyle blogger and freelance food photographer contacted me. We attend the same church, but had never met.  She asked if I’d be interested in serving as an assistant on occasional food photography shoots. I couldn’t say yes fast enough! She is so very talented and I really admire her work! Please check out her amazing blog Live Simply.

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Today, I worked my first photoshoot with her. It was an absolute blast, not to mention her kitchen is a dream, subway tile and all. I learned a lot of helpful food staging tips and had fun putting together a variety of recipes.  It was really cool to experience all that goes into food blogging and food photography.  It is both an art and a science.

Food is a delight, and the process of creating something tasteful out of it is a beautiful mess.

I’ve always been a tad bit obsessed with scones, but have never made them before.  Today I made pumpkin spice scones, and they were moist and flavorful, with a soft center. Perfection.  Definitely adding that recipe to my box.

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I’m not certain of where God is leading me in my future, but today added a sprinkle of hope within me. I am trusting that God will open doors as He wills. I know He is a loving Father, who has a sovereign plan for my future. (And if there’s food in my future, I’d have absolutely no problem with that 😉 )

Here’s a couple more pictures from today.  I hope you’ve enjoyed a glimpse of my day through the eyes of my iPhone.

 

 

Meet My Apartment: Part 1

Today I’d like to introduce you to my apartment, my home, my sanctuary, “The Brown Abode” as my husband and I call it.

We browsed Zillow excitedly for months prior to settling on the vintage gem we now reside. Our place is clad with old fashioned radiators, original hardwood floors, hexagon bathroom tile, and just that charming vibe that I absolutely adore. As far as first apartments go, I couldn’t be happier or more blessed.

When we first got the apartment, it was empty and brimming with potential. However, 675 square feet has its challenges when it comes to storage. I’ve learned how to love “small living” and have embraced storage challenges with a creative mindset. Pictured below is our apartment when we first got it. All we had was our new couch and a vintage lamp refurbished by my father in law. But that natural light has me like 😍.


Over the course of a few blog posts, I want to share different spaces of our home and show you how we utilized even the smallest of spaces.

Today I’d like to show you our miniature “office.”


I find that this space is a welcoming work environment. Every item is very intentional to the theme. When creating any interior look, a theme and color pallet must be chosen. Here the theme is bright and elegant, and the color pallet is mint and gold. (We have carried the mint and gold color pallet throughout the apartment to give a sense of flow and continuity. You want each room to make sense together as a whole.)

Many of the gold items pictured are from Target. (I usually have to be restrained whenever I enter Target. Too much cute. Too much trendy. Ahhh!) I now have gold scissors as well, which are not pictured. As you see different rooms in my apartment, you will almost always find a plant in some corner, whether real or fake. Greenery/florals are a must. The desk lamp is from Ikea and the bulletin boards are simply embellished with scrapbook paper and various Pinterest pins.

Now about that desk and chair. The desk was an old gray desk Billy had for years and the chair was just your standard wood chair. So with the help of some mint and gold paint, this desk and chair went from drab to fab. The gold knobs added a hint of character and class.

The moral of the story is, almost anything can be transformed into something pretty and unique. An old, tired desk can be made beautiful. See the potential in things you already own, or perhaps go thrifting for a unique piece.

I hope you enjoyed the first glimpse into my little home. I’m off to make some green tea and curl up with a good book.

The Beauty of Meal Planning 

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Happy Weekend!

I’m writing to you from a cozy leather chair in this fancy house I babysit for. I like to do little side jobs to earn money for random things I want. Tonight I’m working for this black jumpsuit I want to get for our anniversary trip to New York City. Hehe. The kiddos are in bed, so I thought I’d use this opportunity to write about meal planning.

I remember as a little girl watching my mom meal plan on a piece of lined notebook paper. I’d put in my requests for certain ice cream flavors or more apple juice. I’d always look forward to finding out what meals we’d be having in the upcoming week. Clam sauce, minestrone, and baked ziti were among my favorites. I had quite refined tastebuds for an 8 year old.

Now I’m all grown up, and meal planning just like my momma. On the couch. With a lined piece of notebook paper. 🙂

Why meal plan?

Well, there’s a few reasons.

1. It saves time. I know so many people who scramble after work trying to figure out what’s for dinner. So, they run to the grocery store last minute and throw together a meal when they get home. Then, the next day they repeat the whole process all over again. Hectic and unnecessary.

2. It saves money. If your buying ingredients as you go throughout your week, you will easily go over budget. Planning out your meals for the upcoming week allows you to keep your grocery list down to what you need and can afford.

3. You’ll eat healthier. Probably about 9 times out of 10, if you don’t plan what you’re having for dinner in advance, you’ll probably end up getting fast food somewhere. Meal planning allows you to create a balanced menu for the week. Instead of impulsively buying potato chips on your way out of the grocery store, you can plan to purchase healthy snack items like fresh fruit and nuts.

Allow me to explain how I personally mealplan for my husband and I. First, I write on one side of a piece of paper a grocery list. This list contains items we are out of stock or running low on. On the flip side of the paper, I write each day of the week. I plan my meals according to what works best for our lifestyle. I pull out the recipes for those meals and add the needed ingredients to the grocery list. Then, I post the meal plan on the fridge so my hubby can see what’s for dinner. He likes that. 🙂

Here’s what’s for dinner this week:

Monday: Frozen organic pizza with a salad (We have pizza every Monday, because…Monday.)

Tuesday: Fettuccine Alfredo (homemade, the Olive Garden recipe)

Wednesday: Leftover Alfredo

Thursday: Turkey Chili

Friday: Leftover Chili

Saturday: Date night

Sunday: Grill out at my parents’ house

Notice the flow of my meal plan. Monday-easy. Tuesday-cook. Wednesday-I get a break. Thursday-cook. Friday- I get a break, because I can never bring myself to cook on a Friday night haha. If you are cooking for two, I highly recommend following a similar pattern. I came up with this right when I got married, and it has worked out so well. We are eating a home cooked, healthy meal every night. But I don’t cook every night. Did you get that? I don’t cook every night! That is the beauty of meal planning!

Cook a big meal one night, eat it again the next.

It’s that simple.

I really hope you’re feeling inspired to get your meal planning game on!

~Julia

P.s. I also plan what to pack me and my husband for lunch. No getting unhealthy food at work or wasting money on food we don’t even like!

 

The Start

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Welcome to The Young Wife. My name is Julia and I’m beyond excited to be launching this blog! I’ve blogged at various times in my life, but this is the first time I have a specific vision and purpose.  Before you read any further, please check out the About  page to get to know me a little better.

I want this blog to be a fun stop at the end of a long work day, an interesting place to browse while you’re laying on the beach, a resource of sorts for people to gain cooking and home advice, a girly companion alongside tea and a mud mask.

I am The Young Wife, and with that, this blog is simply me.  I am not boxed into one category. I like to sing, cook, write, photograph, travel, eat, go outside, draw, and the list goes on. Therefore, this blog is a one stop shop.

No matter how old you are, we all are trying to figure this thing out called “adulting.” There is no tried and true recipe for it.  You just have to learn how to season it with adventure as life happens to you.

I am so excited to start sharing my heart ramblings and advice with you all. Feel free to add this blog to your nightly routine of Netflix binging and Spotify jamming. I hope to be posting regularly, so check back often.

Chat with you soon!

~Julia

P.s. When I was little, whenever I’d help my dad cook brunch, he always called me Julia Child. I like that.

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