Guest Post by Aly Walansky
I sometimes wonder if I’m a living oxymoron. Cooking shows are totally my jam. (No pun intended, though I do love a good jam…!) – I live for just about everything that comes out of Bobby Flay’s or Michael Symon’s spicy meaty kitchens. Cooking classes? All about those. Cook books? There’s a shameful amount crammed into my teeny Park Slope studio apartment. But, truth be told, unless it’s to impress a date or a dinner party, I seldom cook. My mom lectures me on this often – the money I am wasting, how it’s “not nice” to have no food in the house. I’ll never get married, that way, she worries.
My marriageable status aside — shopping and preparing meals takes time – and it’s time that often feels like a waste when you live alone. As a freelancer, time is money. On top of that, I don’t know the last time you went grocery shopping, but supermarket food prices are rather staggering – and if you are buying for one vs. for a family? The cost per meal ratio is pretty crazy, especially when you factor in non-staple ingredients and the inability to buy bulk. My mom can go to Costco and buy chicken thighs for 12, shooting her price down. Me? Again, not so much. It’s a struggle to fit three Lean Cuisines and leftover pizza in my freezer.
But I digress. I’m something of a Seamless addict (you may recall my Greatest Review EVER award from them a few months ago, if I may pat myself on the back…) and in my own self-rationalizing (er….research) I came across the somewhat startling but VALID realization that it’s infinitely cheaper for me to order in than to buy groceries.
Granted, my case is not the same case for many – I live in New York City, where I don’t drive, live alone, and don’t have the ability to go hunting for the best grocery deals. But that’s sort of my point – eating right and finding the best deals is just different here than it may be elsewhere in the country. (Truth be told, if I lived elsewhere in the country, I’d likely be married and have a family to feed and much of this would be moot anyway.)
Lets, case in point, bring up my typical local Seamless orders.
Just Salad: I order from here 3-5 times a week. So often that I am their FourSquare mayor and have achieved the limited edition VIP Pink Bowl Status. My current favorite salad – the Almond Berry Blast – Romaine Lettuce, almond slivers, crumbled feta, fresh blueberries and strawberries, in a homemade lemon vinaigrette – $9. Less if you have the loyalty card. It’s so big I can stretch it two meals. Were I to order the ingredients for this salad from FreshDirect (or my local supermarket?) – easily 4X the cost.
Mura Sushi: Especially as the weather warms, I’m all about my sushi – something that if I tried to make myself, I could easily DIE FROM. (Not kidding, sushi with non-correctly made sushi can be dangerous!) – also, the cost of buying sushi-grade fish and all the parts and particles involved? Crazy pants. However, I can easily get my 2 sushi rolls for under $10. And that’s a quality high-protein dinner.
Maya Taqueria: My “treat” meal is the kale whole wheat burrito (hold the rice) from Maya – it’s $8 and I’ve stretched it two meals and still been stuffed. Get it “wet” – that’s covered in enchilada sauce, and it has serious kick!
And there you have it, I can eat good AND EAT WELL for easily under $10 a night, and eat all my favorites. Show me any grocery shopping that will give me that – and, behold, I can do so without breaking a nail or opening my stove. Hello, Brave New World, it’s nice to see you!
Aly Walansky is a popular New York City based lifestyles and travel journalist who seeks no greater mission than the perfect spicy tuna roll. Her writing can be seen in dozens of online magazines and print publications. Visit her blog at www.alittlealytude.com and follow her on twitter at @AlyWalansky.