On the cheap: Iced Coffee

This week, we've finally gotten a bit of a break from the heat. Plagued by 95 degree days for the last few months, Manhattan has been something of a sweat box. In an effort to combat the extreme temps, I've dabbled in a daily iced coffee. After weeks of spending a minimum of $2.50 per day on iced coffee from my local bodega, and sometimes an admitted $3.25 per day at Dunkin’ Donuts, I decided it was time for a change. While it's not a huge expense, I'm all for cutting corners where I can and saving up a bit of cash to put towards more fun things, like a good Sunday brunch. And can we take a moment for the fact that iced coffee should in no way cost more than hot coffee, which can easily be scored for under $2? Not only is it the same product but they are in fact giving you less coffee. There had to be a better way; a way to do it on the cheap.

Enter my new friend and commuting buddy - the COPCO iced coffee cup, a heavy duty reusable plastic cup and straw with a screw-on lid. Can we say genius?

Just when I thought I was the only person living under a rock and had just discovered this wonderful invention midway through the summer, I was pleased to find that I wasn’t the only one who was frustrated and looking for a solution. As I was riding the shuttle to the Path last week, a few co-riders marveled at it, their amateur eyes lighting up with envy. And I have to tell you, I don’t blame them. It is pretty wonderful.

The cup has long since paid for itself while saving me time in the morning, not to mention daily dollars. I simply brew my coffee at night, let it come to room temperature, store it in the fridge overnight and dress it in the morning. And so you know this isn't just hot air, here's the breakdown:

COPCO iced coffee cup: $7.99 (though technically free since my wonderful Mom purchased it for me)
1 bag Dunkin’ Donuts French Vanilla ground coffee: $8.99
Half & Half: $1.29 (though already had, for my weekend coffee)
Total: $18.27 for at least 3 weeks of morning coffee and counting

For $18, this would buy me 7 days at my local bodega (at $2.50/cup) and a mere 5 days of coffee at Dunkin Donuts (at $3.25/cup). Is it me, or does this make so much more sense? And quite honestly, I think the coffee from my own home tastes so much better, not to mention the fact that now I get to enjoy my coffee during my entire ride to work rather than having to wait until crossing into Manhattan. Oh happy day.

So that's how I've managed to save some coin each day while celebrating a personal victory that I'm not being taken advantage of for my $3. So what do you think? Do you BYO or prefer to purchase?

PS - TAA was in no way paid to or offered any compensation or incentive to push the COPCO iced coffee cup. We just happen to think it's tops and want to share!

Groceries on demand

I did it.

After two years of glimpsing longingly at the Fresh Direct truck as it rode around my tiny Jersey City neighborhood delivering boxes upon boxes of groceries, I gave in. I placed an order.

I have been regaled with tales of Fresh Direct as friends and family (even our realtor!) sang its praises over the last months, but always had an itty bitty pang of guilt at the thought of having my groceries delivered. Doesn't grocery shopping come with the being-a-wife territory? And that's how the guilt always got me. After all, I don't reeeally have a good excuse as to why I can't take time out of my day to grocery shop. It's not that I mind food shopping. I generally like it...and at times, I even love it. I enjoy trolling the aisles for fun new foods, filling up my cart and subsequently my fridge and pantry...and, oh yeah, eating up the goods. However, quite honestly? The thought of giving up even a moment of my precious weekend hours, which are typically spent getting our apartment in order, writing away and getting to spend some fun time with the husband, for grocery shopping just became too much to bear. Not to mention the annoyance of carting groceries up to our apartment. So last week when I realized that this weekend would need to be a grocery shopping extravaganza, I decided to give Fresh Direct a try.

I scoured the website, filling up my cyber shopping cart with fruits and veggies galore (I admittedly may have overbought), sticking to my general shopping technique of purchasing what's in season and on sale. I found giant packs of chicken breasts, frozen shrimp and lean ground beef - my usual staple proteins. Most of my favorite name brand products were available and for similar, if not lower prices than in store. Not only did I score better deals on cold cuts and vegetables (which lead to my fabulous grilled zucchini) than at my local A&P, but I hunted down an electronic coupon which scored me a sweet 25% off my order bringing my order total to way, way less than what I'd usually spend on a bi-monthly shopping trip. Oh, and the fact that much of the produce is grown locally, with plenty of organic options, is just the icing on the proverbial cake.

So that nagging pang of guilt at the thought of delivered groceries? Let's just say, like many things in life, its been zapped away by convenience and low prices.๏ปฟ Now it's the thought of ever having to visit a grocery store again that gives me an itty bitty pang of anxiety.

So what's your thought on the groceries-being-delivered movement? Are you on board? Resisting? Waiting for it to come to a neighborhood near you?

*Images borrowed from FreshDirect.com

Get the Skinny: Sandwich Thins & Deli Flats

Pepperidge Farms Deli Flat in my sweet little sandwich carrier a la third gradeAs I've mentioned in the past, it may seem like my life revolves around eating pastrami sandwiches, baking delicious treats, and seeking out one pizza joint after another, but in between all of those delicious eating sessions, I do try to keep eating to a minimum...otherwise, let's face it, I'd be a balloon. The number one place that I try to cut my caloric intake? My breakfast and lunch routine, especially on work days. By keeping the piehole stuffing to a minimum, not only does my tummy thank me but I feel energized and ready to get through the day. Also trying cut spending where I can, I try to bring my lunch to work at least 3 or 4 days a week. And I have to tell you, it really isn't easy to keep it even semi-exciting in the brown baggin' it department. Luckily, my office did recently implement a microwave after an employee uprising, giving me the opportunity to eat oatmeal, soup and leftovers to my heart's content. And I'm typically just not into the sandwich from home...I mean, really, is there anything more depressing? Not to mention the fact that we had two loaves of bread in our house, since Shaun eats the good stuff and I eat the cardboard variety. And that cardboard variety just isn't cutting it for me.

Enter the Sandwich Thin or Deli Flat. A round, thinned out bread that is a cross between roll and bread slice, these fantastic inventions are my new favorite way to do breakfast or lunch. Whether peanut butter and jelly (still a favorite), turkey and cheese, hummus and lettuce, or with a bit of soft Laughing Cow cheese, these rounds are upping the ante on lunchtime fare. Are they super filling? No. You better bring a snack. But they are a heck of a lot better than eating the low carb, 100 calories for 2 slices, mushy kind that I've deemed the only bread that won't steadily raise my weight.

Enter the two options that I've come across: Arnold Sandwich Thins and Pepperidge Farms Deli Flats. The winner? Arnold Sandwich Thins. While the Pepperidge Farms version seemed more substantial, taste-wise, Arnold took the proverbial cake. A now staple in my lunchtime repetoire, today I will be enjoying an old fashioned pb (natural peanut butter) and j (Polaner All Fruit blackberry jam) and rejoicing at my 100 calorie, 5 grams of fiber deli round.

So what do you think? Have you tried these out? Do you ever "brown bag it", so to speak? How do you keep your daily lunch feeling fresh?

Psst...for some healthy, yet delish recipes, check out the Eat Better Week series...