Yesterday, while reading this post on Cupcakes and Cashmere, I got a craving for a chocolate chip blondie. Like, needed one ASAP. It was life or death. I did, thankfully, muster the willpower to wait until after dinner to make them. But barely.
As I was getting all the ingredients out for the blondies, I suddenly realized: I am so thankful that I always stock dessert ingredients in the house.
It’s true. I ALWAYS have a stash of the main ingredients to make cookies/other desserts because I really just love baking (and dessert) that much. And I know my cravings will hit and I’ll need a cookie ASAP.
I know that it saves me a lot of time and money in the long run, because when cravings hit, I don’t have to get in the car and go to the store to get the ingredients I need… or even worse, hop in the car and grab an overpriced pre-made dessert from a restaurant or grocery store.
It really isn’t even a lot of ingredients. There are just a few staples to have on hand and you’ll be able to make all sorts of things!! Here are the main ones that you’ll need for dessert baking.
Stuff you’ll need to have in stock to be able to bake delicious desserts any time you want:
Not quite pantry items, but go with me here. Milk, butter, eggs. You probably use these for other things too. Mike and I go through 18 eggs a week. Is that weird or normal? Please say normal.
Flour, vegetable oil, unsweetened cocoa powder, CHOCOLATE CHIPS.
Sugar in every form. Brown sugar (I usually get dark) and white granulated sugar. I threw confectioners’ sugar in the picture too, but on further contemplation, I don’t use that often. In fact, I’ve been trying really hard to use up the 3 bags I already have but not many recipes I make use it. (my sister-in-law and I have evidently been cursed with forgetfulness when it comes to confectioners’ sugar… every time we need it for a recipe we go out and buy a bag even though we already have multiple. I was living with her and my brother for awhile and we discovered like 6 bags of confectioners sugar between the two of us. It was insane. HIIII, J!)
Baking powder, baking soda (this stuff is like less than a dollar, did you know that? so cheap!), salt, and vanilla extract. I have a Costco bottle of vanilla and it’s huge and I love it.
And the tools: big bowl, whisk, measuring cups and spoons, and spatulas (I have two sets of spatulas– one for cooking and one for baking. I find that the ones we cook dinner with absorb weird food smells? I don’t want to put a spatula that smells like tacos into chocolate chip cookie batter. just… no)
And three other notes:
1. Of course, adjust based on your preferences/needs. Gluten free? Have gluten free stuff. Like to be healthier? Keep your pantry full of apple sauce (to swap for the oil/butter), whole wheat flour (instead of regular flour), soy milk, etc.
2. This idea can apply to anything in life. Know you get cravings for coffee? Keep it in your house so you don’t have to go to Starbucks every time you have a craving. Like ice cream? Keep some in the house! And count this as an exercise in willpower to not eat it all just because it’s in your house. I’m still working on that one :)
3. Yes, I did eventually make the blondies; I didn’t take all this stuff out of the cabinet just for a photo shoot. Well, okay, some of it I did :)
Even better eaten with ice cream. (while watching Real World… we’re so classy)
What are YOUR pantry staples? (dessert related or just normal food related)
In addition to the things above, I always have a few kinds of tea (green, black, and camomile), oatmeal, peanut butter, and frozen vegetables (but I guess that doesn’t really count as ‘pantry,’ huh?)
This week for our Gettin’ Nosy interview, I’m chatting with Cheri from Overactive Blogger.
BTW– want to catch up on old posts in this series?
- Jamie from The Jar Half Full
- Addison from Chocolate & Chaturangas
- Karen from The Mile Report
- Melissa from Mel’s Miles
- Courtney from Redefining Athlete
I recently discovered Cheri’s blog and fell in love with her writing style and posts. She’s a group fitness director and a runner (training for the Rock n’ Roll full marathon in Raleigh in April!) and writes about everything from the best candy (I def do NOT agree with her belief that Whoppers are one of the best candies… ummm agree to disagree ;) ) to a ‘Jesus Shaves’ coffee mug… I #canteven (pretent I inserted crying/laughing emoji here) Check out her Q&A section on her blog to get to know her a little more!
And then read below for my interview with Cheri!
Foreword from Cheri: So, I love the idea of making saving money in your 20s sexy. I have to admit, I had 0 clue about money or what it meant to save money or anything until a few years ago. I was job searching and working retail at the same time. If you’ve ever worked retail, you know that even if you’re full-time, you’re not making a ton of money, and for me, I was very short-sighted, so I just worked paycheck to paycheck. When my husband and I started getting serious, he helped me get money on track, start paying off huge chunks of my student loans, and in general, just be smarter about saving money for me, for future kids, and for our retirement, all while still managing to pay off loans. I’m not an expert yet by any means, but I’d like to think that I’m doing pretty well, especially for a chick in her 20s.
1. I LOVE learning tips & tricks that can help me to save more money. What is the best financial tip you’ve ever heard?
So one of the best tricks that I was told/that I’ve implemented is switching to a cash system and leaving your debit card at home. I was terrible, especially when it came to Whole Foods and Target, at picking things out that I didn’t exactly need, and then just swiping. Then I would wonder why I’m zeroing out and desperate for my next paycheck every time. Austin (my husband) helped me figure out how much cash I needed each week, and I live off of that, and leave el debito (that’s what Austin calls it) at home. It’s hard for the first week or so, but gets easier, especially when you see that you have money left over on payday!
2. What is your proudest financial moment?
One of my proudest financial moments was also a really great learning moment for me. A few years ago, the transmission in my Taurus went out, and I had to buy a new (to me) car. I had no idea how to go about it, and didn’t know anything about the process. I was able to successfully navigate it, and learned a LOT about credit. Now, I’m buying another car, and armed with all that knowledge, I’m proud that we are going to be able to buy a car cash, rather than have to deal with the bull that comes with a car loan.
As a side note, if you’re thinking about taking on a car loan, please talk to me first. I know sometimes the car loan thing is inevitable, but if you’re really curious, let me chat you up about it a little more.
3. Prioritizing your spending so that you spend money on things that truly make you happy is something that I think is SO important. What are some things that make you ridiculously happy and you feel zero guilt spending money on?
There is very little I have 0 guilt spending money on. But I’m a really big runner and group fitness director. Any race or training, I have very little problem spending money on. The most I’ve ever spent on a race was probably the Nike Women’s Half in DC. I think it was a $160 race, but the proceeds went to the Leukemia and Lymphoma society, and the race was really really well done, so I didn’t feel that bad about it.
4. On the flip side, what things do you try NOT to spend money on?
I try not to spend money on food out. I’m super healthy in the way I eat, so I have a hard time eating out anyways, because you don’t have a TON of control over what weird sauces and dressings come on your stuff. Plus it’s expensive. I definitely do not spend a lot on food.
5. I’m big on setting financial goals. I think it’s hard to progress in our financial life if we aren’t really sure what we’re working towards. What are your current financial goals?
I am working on saving $10k by this time next year. My husband and I have also made a significant dent in my student loans and are hatching a plan to save $2 million for our retirement. Which sounds insane, I know, but we really want to be comfortable in our retirement. We’ve about 40 years to figure it out, so here’s hoping that we can buckle down and enjoy the end of our lives together.
AHHHH I just love all her big financial goals, don’t you!? Now head over to Cheri’s blog and check her out there… you will love her! :)
What’s your car situation? Do you have a leased car or do you own it? (or have you
stolen borrowed one of your parents’ cars? I did that for awhile ;) ) Did you have a car loan or did you buy outright?
I bought my car in cash (from a rando on Craigslist!) and it was terrifying but I’m not going to lie, it is SO AWESOME to not have a monthly car payment :)
What’d you do this weekend? I spend an embarrassing amount of time watching Bar Rescue… that show is SO GOOD!
And also reading this book. I love hearing about people’s daily routines, and this book is ALL ABOUT THAT. It talks about a bunch of famous creative people (think Mozart, etc) and how they laid out their days so that they could work their best.
Other things I contemplated this weekend? Finding good deals on food and drinks. I spent a decent amount of time scoping out restaurants to see if they had any cheap deals Saturday night… alas, didn’t find any good ones. In hindsight, I guess Saturday isn’t really a time restaurants need discounts.
When you move to a new area, one of the best things you can do is figure out all the deals in your area. That way, whenever you’re feeling like going out, you will know of a good food/happy hour deal!
Since we kinda recently just moved down here, I’m still working on this for our new area (hence the Saturday night research).
Here are my methods for finding deals in your city:
1. Scope it out
Walk/drive around (or use google maps) and scope out restaurants and bars (this would also work for clothing stores and things like that) in your area. Bonus points if they’re within walking distance, because walking will save you even more money!
2. Make a list
List of all your potential spots. Yeah, like a real list on paper. It’s going to get tough to keep track of all the deals otherwise.
3. Start googling
Start researching their websites. Do they list their happy hours? Maybe they have a Facebook profile, Twitter, or you can join their email list? Most restaurants/bars will post about their deals on social media, so following them there is a good idea. Whenever you find info about a deal, jot it down on your list.
4. Keep an eye on ads in the mail
Also take a look at those (sometimes annoying) packets of ‘coupons’ that come in the mail– you might be surprised to find some restaurants (probs not bars, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a coupon for alcohol haha) in there for buy one get one free meals or something like that!
Groupon and other deal sites can be a good idea, but beware of joining a site like that if you’re an impulse shopper. Getting those offers in your inbox every day can be really tempting– but falling for too many ‘deals’ will probably negate any savings!
6. Use your list and/or coupons whenever you want to go out!
Eventually you’ll gather enough info on each place that anytime you want to go out, you can probably find a place with a happy hour or other deal! Mike and I now know a few of the area happy hours so when we want to go out, we know the cheap places! :)
What are the best restaurant/bar deals in your area?
There was a place near us that I used to LOVE because they had $5 chicken fingers and $2 beers on Fridays. Sadly, at some point while we were in Rochester they changed it and I’m still bitter!!
It’s FRIIIIIDAYYYYY! Yay!
I made a little sneak preview video of the coaching process and posted it on the Budget Coaching page. Buuuuut I also wanted to share here!
Its’s just a little sneak peak into some of the documents and the overall process that happens in the budget coaching program. Behind the scenes, wooo! :)
Seriously, I would LOVE to have you join me for Budget Coaching this month!! This is THE program you need if you want to get your financial life back on track. Maybe you’re getting stressed about student loans, or credit card bills, or wanting to move into an apartment of your own… whatever your financial goals are, I can help you get your spending on track so that you can achieve your goals as soon as possible!
In unrelated news, we made some AMAZING homemade pizza the other night and I realized an important factor in good homemade pizza = the type of cheese you use. Usually I attempt to save money by buying a block of mozzarella and grating it myself and using that, but it never really turns out like the cheese on real pizzas… it’s just not the right texture? This weekend I was lazy and grabbed one of the pre-shredded bags of ‘Pizza Cheese’ to use. OMG… it turned out SO MUCH BETTER than my usual mozzarella! I think it’s because this particular ‘pizza cheese’ was a combo of mozzarella and provolone! So now I know: I can save some money by grating my own cheese BUT I really should get both mozzarella and provolone if I want the cheese to turn out like a real pizza. Lesson learned. (and I’ve discovered that you can freeze cheese so I’ll probably grate up a whole bunch of it then freeze in small portions)
Oh, and in case you’re wondering why our pizza looks so weird, Mike doesn’t like cheese so that’s why only my part of the pizza has it ;)
Also, we used this recipe for pizza dough and it’s our new favorite. (It’s a recipe for a food processor, so I’m not sure if it would work without? But if you DO have a food processor, try this. so easy and delicious and wayyy cheaper than buying dough)
Wow, that really turned into an incredibly pizza-focused-post didn’t it? Whoops. Didn’t mean for that to happen. Sorry if I’ve just made you crave pizza :(
What are you doing this weekend?
I don’t have any big plans, so who knows what we’ll end up doing! One thing I do know is that I’ll be forcing my mom to take me to Costco with her to get some cheap allergy meds :) (thanks Mom! love you!)
More importantly… black and blue or white and gold?!
I’m going back and forth between the two! WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!
Real talk: I feel like I’ve been in a funk lately. I’m 99% sure it’s because of the weather and being cooped up too much– when you work from home AND it’s cold outside, there’s really no reason to ever leave your house. So you don’t. And then you never have human interaction aaaand that’s no good for you. Yep.
Instead you take selfies with PhotoBooth while attempting to film videos (the one that’s being sent out tomorrow, actually! I’m pointing to something exciting that you’ll get in the email ;)
So I was about to sit down and write a list of all the things that are AWESOME in my life to make myself realize all the things I should be happy about… then BOOM I got this bright idea, why not post it here AND challenge you guys do to the same? Win win. It really is good for your mood; try it!
Also, it’s good for your wallet. When you’re in a funk you’re more likely to go on a shopping spree at Target in an attempt to make you feel better. FYI– it won’t help. I speak from experience.
Things That Are Awesome In My Life:
Space heaters keeping me warm while I work (thanks for loaning me yours, Dad!)
Tea and iced coffee
Making my own work schedule every day
Posting very important questions on Instagram and getting so many comments verifying that I’m not crazy
You guys leaving blog post comments <3 (cliche blogger response #sorrynotsorry)
My nieces (and the rest of my family, I guess ;) )
Binge watching beauty tutorials on YouTube in an attempt to learn how to curl my hair (currently obsessed with Kalyn Nicholson)
The fact that winter is almost over
The fact that we are in Virginia because if we were still in Rochester, we’d have like 3 more months of winter to go (sorry Roc friends!)
Our new apartment
Walk in closets
The feeling AFTER you vacuum. Not while vacuuming… but afterwards. Once you’re done.
This awesome print from Jamie at The Jar Half Full <3 (ps that’s water in the wine glass, I promise)
Watching trashy MTV shows with Mike (last night was Real World and tonight is the season premiere of Catfish! SO GOOD)
Lists + being organized
Candles (still working on finding cheap but good ones, keep the recommendations coming!)
Getting my tax refund and our security deposit from our last apartment back in the same week. Having my own money returned to me is nice :)
My sunglasses… and I guess that guy in the picture with me ;)
Getting new clients for my side job (transcription)
The Saving Money Challenge email that’s going out tomorrow (sign up here if you aren’t on my email list yet!!) and leading more girls through Budget Coaching this month (check out the program here! Sign ups are open until March 1!) #shamelessplug ;)
I double dog dare you (yeah, that’s big) to make a list like this today. When you’re done, take a pic and email it to me! (or just send it if you typed it out) –> Ashley @ SavingMoneyInYourTwenties .com :) I’d love to see what’s awesome in YOUR life!!
What’s one super awesome thing in your life right now?