The food scene in NYC is nuts. There is food EVERYWHERE.
There are countless cafes, bars and restaurants, plus healthy chain eateries like Pret A Manger, Hale & Hearty, Fresh & Co and Chipotle (my fave).
There are halal carts serving “suspicious but delicious” meat and rice, bagel and hot dog carts and $1 slice pizza places almost on every street corner.
And most places deliver. (There’s a shop near me that delivers fresh cookies until 3am. Seriously. It’s called Insomnia Cookies.)
It’s a wonder that anyone here bothers cooking, really.
It’s been tempting, I’ll admit, to be lazy and just eat out. But I’m determined to maintain my clean eating habits whilst staying on a budget. So as with most things in life, I’m striving to achieve a balance, so today I’d like to share with you 3 ‘eating clean’ concepts that are currently working for me in NYC.
1. Produce vendors
Every so often, you come across these little independent vendors selling fruit and veggies on the footpath (oh, sorry, sidewalk). It’s great; the food is cheap, there are no queues and no strategically-placed snack foods to tempt you.
My local produce guy is Reda, originally from Egypt but a NYC local for 5 years. He runs his stall from the early morning until 8pm. Now that’s hard work, especially during the freezing cold weather!
Staying on budget? Tick.
2. Juice bars
I recently made a commitment to myself to drink one green smoothie or juice a day. Most of them I make at home, but if I’m out there are many places I can get my liquid veggie fix. It’s not cheap, at about $8-10 a pop, but the energy they give me is incredible. For me, it’s worth the investment! (More on green smoothies and why I drink them is to follow in a future post!)
Eating clean when out and about? Tick.
3. DIY buffet
The concept of DIY ‘hot and cold’ buffets is new to me. I touched on this in my post about Whole Foods, but during my explorations of NYC, I’ve been finding more and more places that do it.
It works like this: there’s an array of freshly cooked hot food, ranging from pasta to rice to cooked vegies and meats, all laid out in bain-maries. There’s also a separate salad bar, with all the additional toppings and dressings you can think of. You grab a container, fill it with whatever you want, then pay per weight (around $20/kg).
The other day I randomly popped into a large eatery that did everything: sandwiches, bagels, soups, sushi, smoothies and coffee (yes, it’s an indecisive person’s nightmare). But the buffet?? Oh man. They had BBQ ribs, lasagne, roast chicken, grilled fish, and – get this – a WHOLE BAKED SALMON. Unbelievable!
I filled my container with juicy fish, grilled eggplant and a heap of fresh rocket and spinach salad. It cost me $10. Wow.
I came to a realisation as I was eating – why the hell am I wasting time cooking my own meat, when it’s done beautifully here? So I went back and filled another container with more protein goodness. All I needed was to add my own veggies, and that was lunch sorted for the next few days!
Seriously, why do we not have this in Australia??
Balancing cooking/being lazy? Tick!!
Just a side thought – if anyone outside of NYC is looking for a killer foodie business idea: DELICIOUS HEALTHY LUNCH BUFFET. You can thank me later.