A Lot of Food for Little Money

(Try to) take a step inside the miniature-sized Taim Falafel & Smoothie Bar and you’ll find yourself savoring the aroma and trying to hold your drool in as you look at the delicious menu. What’s even more is that Taim, pronounced tie-EEM, is affordable, healthy, and fresh! And even if you’ve never tried Middle Eastern food, you’re going to want to after reading this.

If you don’t know what falafel is, don’t worry! I’ll tell ya! Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty typically made from ground chickpeas, which means…hello, high protein! Falafel is very commonly eaten in the form of a sandwich, enclosed in a pita usually with other things like hummus, tahini, tabbouleh, Israeli salad, and pickled vegetables. And let me tell you, Taim’s falafel sandwiches are huge, affordable ($5.75) and come in three different flavors.

Attention Health Freaks:
1. Do not be scared away by the words “deep-fried.”
2. Taim is vegan and vegetarian friendly!
3. Taim’s falafel is gluten-free!
4. Taim is also Kosher.

Not only is Taim known for it’s amazing, ginormous falafel sandwiches, but it also makes rich, flavorful smoothies and drinks of things you probably wouldn’t think to blend together. Taim is loved for it’s unique specialty Date-Lime-Banana smoothie, Strawberry-Raspberry-Thai Basil, Pear-Mint- Lemon smoothie, and Ginger-Mint Lemonade. If these don’t sound good to you, your tastebuds will tell you differently. It also serves falafel platters and sides like french fries and babaganoush, an eggplant-based spread, (my favorite).

Taim is located at 222 Waverly Place at 7th Avenue in the West Village. If you’re not usually in that area, be sure to check out Taim Mobile. (Yes, the mouth-watering restaurant has it’s own food truck!)

If You Want an Inexpensive Breakfast…

Who doesn’t like a good breakfast platter? Please, find me one person who doesn’t. Even vegans can enjoy vegan pancakes and fruit. Breakfast is one of my favorite kinds of foods. Eggs, pancakes, waffles, french toast, yum! The exception: I’m not one for the breakfast meats. No sausage or bacon for me. Go ahead, call me weird. I’m used to it.

Luckily for me, there is a rather inexpensive cafe right across the street from my school called Brown Cup that serves breakfast food all day long. And it actually serves food that tastes like it would cost more in New York. If I am craving an egg platter or pancakes, I go there. For $4.50 (plus tax), I get two eggs any style, home fries, and toast. For $4.00, you get three plain pancakes, and for just a $1.50 more, you can make them strawberry, blueberry, or chocolate chip. (Banana pancakes are only $1 extra.) This is way less expensive than any diner you’d go to and the taste is nothing less than great.

If you’re in the area, I suggest you go to Brown Cup for breakfast food, or for it’s plentiful options of sandwiches and salads. You can make your own sandwich or salad, too! It also serves soups from Hale & Hearty, which are dee-lish! If you’re feeling lazy or don’t have time to pick up food, Brown Cup is also on Seamless.com, a website in which you can order food online for delivery (or take out).

Brown Cup is located at 334 8th Avenue, close to the corner of W. 27th St, in Manhattan.

Deals on Meals (and Other Great Things!)

I must say, New York has just about any kind of food you can think of, thanks to it being the “melting pot” of America. Take a walk down Bleecker Street in the heart of Greenwich Village and you will find an array of places that would eat your money alive if you’d let them. Especially as a college student, it is hard not to want to enjoy these places, but, as a broke college student, it is even harder to say goodbye to half of your paycheck on one night out.

Fortunately, there are some great deals that can be found here in the most expensive city in America. I already talked about Groupon in Looking Nice at Half the Price, but there are also other digital coupon sites that you might be interested in.

LivingSocial is very similar to Groupon in that it gives you heavily discounted prices on your favorite restaurants, getaways, activities, fashion, etc. It seems to me that LivingSocial focuses more on activities and products rather than restaurants. If you want a great deal on food and drinks, you should probably check out Groupon more often. But that’s just my opinion!

Also very popular in the food and drinks category is Tenka. Tenka is a bit different than Groupon and LivingSocial in that it does not require you to pay for the deals in advance. As stated on it’s website,

Tenka lets you redeem great local deals without the burden of paying upfront. Simply add a Tenka deal into your ‘Pocket’ (our smartphone web app), walk into the business and redeem the deal with your smartphone. If you like the deal, share them with your friends and earn money for getting them into the store.

Chai Tea Latte = My Alternative Life Source

Okay, okay, I admit it!
Starbucks probably eats up almost half of my spending money for the week… 

I don’t know about you, but it’s not uncommon for me to get the mid-afternoon slump of fatigue (welcome to college), which means I’m on the prowl for caffeine! Since I don’t like coffee, a favorite energizer for me is the chai tea latte from Starbucks, which I can get at the location in my school’s cafeteria. 🙂

A tall (“small” in Starbucks’ fancy language) cup contains about 70 milligrams of caffeine, and for someone who doesn’t have caffeine too often, this is just enough. Plus, that’s a lot to pack into a 12-ounce cup for tea alone! It has almost as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. A grande (medium, 16 oz.) cup contains 95 milligrams of caffeine, while a venti (large, 20 oz.) cup contains about 120 milligrams.

[Chai is a rich, black tea that has distinct spices in it which make it very flavorful. For more information, click here.]

If its a warm day, or I just want a cold drink, I get my chai iced, which I find just perfect. I know some people who only drink their chai tea lattes iced. The regular, hot version is delicious, as well, and it actually keeps me full for a little while. Though, that may just be because I drink it slowly because it’s so hot; the iced ones are hard not to drink quickly!

 Iced Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks

I like to get mine made with skim milk, but you can also order it with 2%, whole, or soy milk.

Family Visit in the West Village

Oh, how I love when the parental units come to the city. You get a free dinner, free dessert, and sometimes…free money!

A few days ago, my mom’s boyfriend and one of my younger brothers met me at my new apartment. (New is a relative term; the place still needs a lot of work.) While I was unpacking the massive suitcase of clothes they brought over, the guys headed to a nearby sports bar on Hudson Street and Charles Street, Bayard’s Ale House, to watch the Jets game and eat some yummy appetizers.

After, we walked to Caliente Cab Co. for dinner, which, I must say, doesn’t have the best rep among locals but the guys wanted to go there! (They had a couple TVs with the Jets game on, so that probably had something to do with it.)

In my opinion, the food was good, not great. However, their chips, of “Chips and Salsa” off the Tapas menu, were some of the best tortilla chips I have ever had in my life, AND they were only $2!

Appetizers?   Check.
Dinner?           Check.
Dessert?          Gelato!

The guys insisted we get dessert and I spotted this gelato place I never tried before, called L’Arte del Gelato. I typically get pistachio gelato, and yes, my friends tease me because usually grandparents like that flavor. But hey, you like what you like, and pistachio is delicious! However, to my dismay, L’Arte del Gelato did not have pistachio in stock. They did have mixed berry, of which I am a HUGE fan, but then I feasted my eyes on pumpkin gelato, and so it was determined…I had to get a scoop of each. While I admit that I’m not sure how normal this combination sounds, trust me when I say that they go together very well. I highly recommend L’Arte del Gelato, and so does Yelp.. Reviews got 4.5 stars!

And at the end of their visit, I received some money without even asking for it! Parents love giving money to you when they see you once every couple months. I guess it’s true what they say; absence makes the heart grow fonder (and sometimes makes your wallets grow thicker.) 😉

Monthly Money

Ding, Ding, Ding! It has come to my attention that I spent $370.23 during the majority of October. Recreational expenses only, excluding rent.

When my dear mother informed me of this lovely information (thanks, Mom), I took a look at my recent bank statements (thanks, Chase Online Banking). It seems I have been spending that general amount every month of this semester so far, albeit it’s only been three months so far. However, I also looked at my spending while I was in school last year and it practically mirrored what I spend now. Well, at least I’m a consistent spender! (And that doesn’t include cash spending! Yikes!)

I asked my friend, who goes to Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, what she and her friends spend monthly on miscellaneous things (excluding integrated university costs like housing and meal plans). Most of her friends are on a meal plan, which, in my opinion, plays a big role in spending. Being on a meal plans means that their spending on off-campus food does not nearly amount to the spending of students in the city without a meal plan. (Then, everything is off-campus.) To prove my point, she said the approximate monthly expenses of she and her friends in Lancaster were $100-150.

Another friend who goes to Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, has a different situation. “I don’t have a meal plan that covers my meal costs so if you were to include meals on campus and other expenses such as social events and shopping it’s more like $400. Its kind of a necessity to splurge because I eat vegan most of the time, and that food tends to be more expensive,” explains friend número dos. Healthy items are not always the cheapest. A salad for lunch in New York will usually run you about the same amount my friend pays in St. Louis, $7-10. While some healthier choices may be more expensive, many students are willing to make that sacrifice to better their eating habits.

I have a feeling much of this blog will be about food, since that is where the majority of my money goes. Look forward to raves about chai tea lattes from Starbucks and the necessity of the “half-sandwich.”

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Attending college in New York City has its pros and cons, just like any other city. But notice the difference in length of these lists…

Pros:

Convenience, people. In New York, convenience is everything.

Living in the city means you have all the unique and delectable restaurants you want at your fingertips. There are all different kinds of bars, lounges, clubs, hookah bars, et cetera. From a shop solely dedicated to the art of rice pudding to a restaurant/bar with incredible American cuisine and drinks that is open 24/7, you name it, you got it.

Not to mention how late many restaurants/bars are open until. (I’ve gotten the best burgers and crepes at 4:00am.) I mean, it IS the city that never sleeps.

You can intern or work during the school year because you’re only a 20-minute subway ride away, not a 3-hour car drive.

There is a Starbucks about every three blocks (chai tea latte = heaven), and you never have to worry about being far away from a deli or drug store.

You are among the world’s most useful public transportation system… The good ol’ Metropolitan Transit Authority. (Ah yes, the MTA and I have a love-hate relationship… explanation to come later.)

Cons:

It can get pretty damn expensive, especially with dorm/rent payments and if you choose to get an unlimited monthly MetroCard ($104). Though, most people I know just use the pay-per-ride (regular) metrocard… Oh, and you don’t get that whole “normal college experience” thing, but the word “normal” doesn’t mean shit in New York anyway. And that’s what I love about it. See? NYC even makes a con turn into a pro!