Healthy Groceries on a College Budget



Hello, beautiful! I'm on another health kick here at Haley Marie Blog, so today I'm bringing you a post all about how I shop for healthy groceries on a college budget.

Admittedly, I did a post very similar to this one awhile back about my favorite place in the world, aka good ol' Trader Joe's. But today, I wanted to revisit the topic to talk about what I eat in a normal week in greater detail and show you guys how easy it is to eat healthy - even when you don't feel like cooking!

When you're a busy college gal rushing around campus, eating healthy might feel impossible. After all, those meal prepped salads you see on Instagram definitely take a lot more time than picking up a Panera bread bowl on your way home from class. But I'm here to show you that you don't need to be a 'Gram star to start treating your body like the temple it is.

In fact, the hallmark of my daily diet is that I love to eat things I can just throw together in a heartbeat. What I'll be talking you through today is a handful of my favorite lazy day staples for munching on when I don't feel like eating "real food." (Which, if I'm being honest, is what ends up happening most days!)

On that note, here's what I typically eat in a day and how I shop for healthy groceries on a scrappy college budget. Let's get started :)



Produce

In any healthy diet, fresh fruits and veggies should be the foundation of what you eat on a daily basis. One of the most helpful tips I've ever heard about healthy grocery shopping is to try to shop the perimeter of the store, as that's where you'll find the freshest fruits, vegetables and other products with minimal processing!

Here are some of my favorite things to buy in the produce aisle for a healthy diet and why I love to eat them so much:

  • Mini peppers. The easiest snack to munch on between classes, and my favorite way to sneak in some healthy veggies! 
  • Red grapes. Grapes are the perfect finger food for snacking on-the-go. Toss some in a bag on your way to class and chew away.
  • Bagged broccoli. You know, the kind that can be steamed in the bag in the microwave...you'll never find an easier way to sneak veggies into your dinner than this! 
  • Romaine lettuce. For piled-high Caesar salad dinners and topping off a sandwich between classes.
  • Baby carrots. Another finger food I love to munch on when I'm on the run! Perfect for tossing in a bag on your way to your next class.
  • Guacamole. A must-have dip for eating with multigrain tortilla chips (see below), peppers or carrots.

Meat & Dairy

After I quit being vegan/vegetarian in January 2018, I was able to incorporate a lot more healthy options into my diet and finally get that variety I'd craved for so long. One of the things I am still passionate about when it comes to meat, however, is buying cage-free, antibiotic-free and hormone-free whenever possible. (Organic is great, too, if you can swing it!)

Here are just a sampling of the staples I like to pick up when I'm cruising through the meat and dairy aisles at my local grocery store:
  • Hormone-free chicken. I like to freeze chicken for making everything from lightened-up chicken alfredo to sweet and sour chicken over rice. But because I'm conscious of the balance of estrogen in my body, it's super important to me to avoid brands that feed their chickens growth hormones. That's why I look for hormone-free varieties instead!
  • Roast turkey slices. My favorite meal to make on the go is a turkey and muenster cheese sandwich. Add a couple baby carrots and you've got yourself an easy lunch or dinner of champions.
  • Organic cheese slices. Much like hormone-free chicken, I also look for hormone-free dairy products whenever possible. They're perfect to keep on hand for making one of my favorite comfort meals, grilled cheese with sliced tomato.
  • Siggi's yogurt. Siggi's is my favorite brand of yogurt because it's creamy, tart and oh-so delicious! Technically, it's Icelandic-style Skyr rather than yogurt, but it's the perfect breakfast or snack nonetheless.
  • Organic milk. I like to keep organic milk on hand for cooking, particularly when I make Annie's macaroni and cheese on lazy days ;) I always try to buy full-fat dairy whenever possible because it's better for acne-prone skin than the low-fat or fat-free stuff that has added sugar in it.
  • Vanilla Coffeemate. Moderation is key to any healthy diet - and for me, my sweetened coffee is the one thing I won't give up for anyone or anything. The one thing I try to look for is products that don't contain high-fructose corn syrup. Other than that, I give myself free reign when it comes to making my coffee taste amazing! 

Snacks & Pantry

A lot of healthy foodies will rave on and on about how you should try to eat minimally processed snacks - and for the most part, I agree! However, there are some times in life when we just have to forgive ourselves for what we eat when we're super busy and on the go. 

In my opinion, at these times, it's much better to prepare healthier packaged snacks than to go for the good old-fashioned cookies, cakes and Coca Cola. That being said, here are some of my favorite snacks and pantry items in that category to stock up on for busy days:
  • Salad dressing (with no added sugar!). Salad dressing is one of those sneaky places that food industry giants like to slip sugar into. So, make sure you read labels so you find the most minimally processed option you can! (I'm a fan of the Annie's and Trader Joe's brands.)
  • Multigrain tortilla chips. If you're gonna eat chips and tip, my philosophy is to at least get some whole grains in there whenever possible! On busy days, I've even been known to eat chips and guac for dinner. Not that I recommend that, of course...
  • White wheat bread. If you're like me and super picky about the texture of your food, I highly recommend white wheat bread. It's just as soft as the Wonderbread you remember from your childhood, while still getting in those 100% whole grains. (The Trader Joe's brand is, as always, my personal fave!) P.S. Read the label and try to avoid that high-fructose corn syrup. Sneaky, sneaky devil that stuff is! 
  • Dark chocolate trail mix. Last but not least, if you need a snack that's perfect for running all over campus, trail mix is the way to go. Trader Joe's makes my favorite blend: it's simply almonds, cashews and dark chocolate with a hint of salt. Mm, mm, mmmm!

What are your favorite cheap, healthy eats on a college budget? LMK in the comments below!

5 Reasons to Start a Journal



Hello, beautiful! Long time, no see...or write, if you want to get technical about it ;)

You might have noticed that it's been more than awhile since my last blog post. After ending a long-term relationship, I recently took some time for myself to practice self-care and get back into the dating scene.

In fact, that period of self-care is what inspired my latest blog post called 10 Reasons to Start a Journal! Following a particularly complicated hookup experience, I started journaling again after months of silence to help work myself through all my mixed emotions on the subject.

I'm a huge proponent of journaling as a way to get thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Realizing your thoughts on paper, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to get to know yourself and help yourself through tough decisions....but more on that later!

If you want to know all about why I love journaling so much, just keep scrolling - and don't forget to share the post on social media @haleymarieblog if it speaks to you :)




1. Journaling is like therapy.

I'm the kind of person who very much needs to use words to work her way through the experiences and thoughts in my head. That's why I'm a huge fan of talking things out with a friend or my therapist - but what happens when it's just you alone with your thoughts?

For me, that's where journaling comes in. Journaling is almost like having a non-judgmental third person - a therapist, even - to convey all of your deepest thoughts and emotions to. But unlike a human third party, you never have to worry about your journal gossiping or subtweeting about all your darkest secrets! 



2. Journaling helps you remember.

Pulling out my old journals from middle school is cringeworthy, to say the least - but TBH, at almost 20 years old, I'm happy I still kept some of the things I wrote during my childhood. Was my handwriting bad, and my story ideas worse? Yes, absolutely. Does looking back on my middle school crushes give me nausea? Of course. But am I still glad I remember all those moments, both good and bad, because I took the time to write them down? Hell freakin' yes! 

As an adult, nothing makes me happier than knowing that crucial moments like my first kiss or the moment I lost my virginity are written down for safekeeping. Even if I don't look at them for years, I'd love to be able to look back on them with my children or grandchildren and reflect on everything I've experienced and learned over my long lifetime. In a way, looking through old journals is the same as looking through a scrapbook of all your favorite memories - and I just can't get enough of it.



3. Journaling forces you to slow down.

I can't even count the number of times I've woken up in the morning and laid down in bed and wondered what the hell happened to all the time in-between. On crazy busy days, the whole day can literally flash before my eyes - and suddenly, like magic, I'm already one day older. 

That's the incredible thing about journaling: sitting down with a journal forces you to slow down and be mindful of the present moment. That way, on those crazy busy days, at least I get one chance to take time out of my schedule to be alone with my thoughts. It might be the only chance I get all day to sit down and reflect, but at least I get that moment through keeping my journal!



4. Journaling teaches you how to be alone.

As an ambivert (i.e. someone who has qualities of both an extravert and an introvert), going through a recent breakup really opened my eyes to how much I hate being alone. Because I have qualities of an introvert, retreating is usually my first instinct after something mind-boggling or heart-wrenching happens to me - but because I'm an extravert, being alone with those thoughts can drive me crazy to the point of sheer misery.

Since starting up my journal again, I'm proud to say that I have relearned how to be alone with my thoughts - and how to be okay with that! When you're someone who feeds off the energy of others (like me!), it can be tough to come home to an empty apartment. But thanks to journaling, those moments no longer feel aimless or sad. Instead, I see being alone as an opportunity to reconnect with myself and remember all the best parts of what it means to be me.



5. Journaling holds you accountable.

Last but not least, I'm a big believer of using journals not only to work through difficult emotions, but also to keep you on track for achieving your biggest, wildest dreams. Whenever I set a goal for myself, I like to write it down and outline the steps for achieving it in a notebook or journal so I can reflect on how far I've come down the line.

Keeping a journal for your goals is like having a buddy or coach built into your day at all times. After all, unlike a friend or trainer, your journal is always there for you to write down how many miles you ran or how many pages you read toward your goal. That way, you learn to hold yourself accountable instead of depending on others to do it for you. 



Would you consider starting a journal? LMK in the comments below! 




Getting Ready for Graduation: A How-To



Hello, beautiful! I wanted to make a post that's extra-special. What makes it extra-special, you might ask? Well, I'm finally taking the opportunity - for the first time in a long time here on HMB - to open up about my anxieties. Specifically, my anxieties about the future.

I am one of those people who can't stand unwelcome surprises, someone who likes to have every detail of her day planned out from the minute I wake up to the second I go to sleep. So, naturally, the thought of graduating a year earlier than expected gives me serious anxiety. (Like, the kind of anxiety that makes you want to scream, cry and throw up all at the same time! Soon-to-be-grads, you know what I'm talking about...)

There's a lot of facets to consider when thinking about your life post-graduation: for instance, what kind of job do you want? Where do you want to live? Who do you want to spend it with?

I'm not promising the answers to any of these questions - but I can say with some certainty that you should do these six things before you graduate from college. That way, you'll be uber-prepared for the next chapter of your life, and won't be able to stop thinking about this exciting new leaf!


1. Save a Nest Egg

Think of your life after graduation as an investment - and like any good investment, you want to be prepared to give as much to it as you hope to get out of it later.

That's why I recommend saving a couple thou before graduating from college. You'll have a nest egg to begin your new life on, and to invest in things like paying rent, meeting with a career coach (more on this later) and a professional wardrobe to get you started in the real world.


2. Revamp Your Wardrobe

Secondly, if you're going to begin a new life as a "grown-up," you'll need to start dressing the part. The fact is that you simply can't get away with wearing your old college sweats to the office the way you could in your 8 AM lectures!

I've done several posts on building a professional wardrobe on the cheap (click here or here to check them out) here on Haley Marie Blog - but for starters, here are ten basic items I think every college girl needs to stock up on for post-grad life:
  1. Tailored blazer
  2. Pinstripe button-up
  3. Classic pencil skirt
  4. Slim cropped pants
  5. Sheer bow blouse
  6. Wool peacoat
  7. Sturdy shift dress
  8. The perfect bag
  9. Chelsea boots
  10. Sophisticated nude pumps

3. Set Relationship Boundaries

Good relationships need boundaries. Period. Take it from a girl who has been in two long-term relationships that each ended: neither relationship met my needs or matched up with the boundaries I had set for myself. It's especially important to reassess your relationships and boundaries prior to graduation, as this is a huge period of change, where many couples either get serious or decide to end the relationship!

For me, setting boundaries means getting really honest upfront about what you're looking for in a relationship. I personally would not recommend getting involved in a serious relationship if you're single prior to graduation - but I'm also not the type of girl who "just hooks up," either. And I make sure to let every single date I go on know that, so these boundaries are established from the beginning and don't become a gray area later.


4. Enjoy Your "Lasts"

There's a first and last time for everything - and as a college student getting ready to leave behind the place you've called home for the past 3-5 years, you're likely to face a lot of lasts before you graduate. Last first day of classes, last fall formal, last performance or trip with a club....the list goes on and on. And probably on some more.

Graduation can certainly make you busy - sometimes so busy that you say no to hanging out with friends, going to club activities or going out as often as you used to. But here's my advice: try saying yes more often! Chances are, you'll look back on these times and regret not enjoying those firsts and lasts while you had the opportunity. So, live your college experience to the fullest, and spend it with those who are most important to you. End of story.


5. Tune Out Haters

...and by "haters," I mean anyone who tries to tell you what you should be doing with your life, where you need to live after graduation, what your starting salary needs to be or what kind of job you need to get. Because yikes.

Seriously, though: this life is yours and yours ALONE! And it's yours for the taking. So, don't say no to your dream job or the perfect opportunity because it doesn't match up with someone else's idea of what you ought to do with your life (sorry, Dad, but it's true!). Live your life for yourself! 


6. Reach Out to Employers

Last but not least, ending on another career-focused note, you really should be reaching out to potential employers before graduation - not after! After all, wouldn't you rather be the girl with a stellar gig lined up for after graduation than the girl who's stuck in her parents' house for another long year?

From the fall of your graduation year onward, you should be reaching out to potential employers via email, submitting resumes and cover letters and messaging people you admire on LinkedIn. Like, nonstop! (Or until you finally get a job, that is.) It might seem extreme, but I truly believe that putting yourself out there is the only way to find real success. So, put yourself out there, girl! I know you can do it ;)


What's your best tip for soon-to-be college grads? LMK in the comments below or Tweet it @haleymarieblog! 


Tips for New College Bloggers



Hello, beautiful! It took a long time for me to really see myself as a "college blogger" - you know, as a member of that scary-but-actually-not-so-scary community of successful niche bloggers. But one year and 72k monthly Pinterest views later, I think I've finally "made it" to legit college blogger status! (Although let's be honest: when you're a blogger, have you ever really "made it"? I don't think so.)

Last week, I had the privilege of getting to know Laila of Laila Anne Co. in person (we're sorority sisters now!) and our conversation on blogging really put my past and present successes (and failures!) into perspective. It was so nice to sit down and just talk to someone else who gets it - because let's face it: all my non-blogger friends just think I'm weird and bring my camera everywhere for fun. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I easily get caught up in the pressure to keep working, working, working toward the next big thing. But how often do we hard hustlers actually stop to reflect on how much we've already accomplished?

Well, this post is my way of doing just that - while providing some helpful tips that my fellow bloggers can actually apply to their careers. I'll be looking back on some of my biggest mistakes and greatest successes as a blogger while I share with you my best tips for those of you who might be new to the blogging scene. Here we go!


Don't Be a Cookie Cutter


There's a tremendous amount of pressure in niche blogging to be just like everyone else. In college blogging, for example, there are a couple go-to topics you can never go wrong with if you want traffic: spring break, finals, etc. 

But if we're being honest, all my most popular posts have been posts where I chose to take a risk and break the mold! My number one post to this date is my post on being pre-law - and while I'm not pre-law anymore, I think it was the fact that there aren't that many undergrad pre-law bloggers out there that helped propel my post to success.

Another example? My posts on being in a sorority are always a hit! While many other college girls are in a sorority, not many girls write posts targeting chapter women or talking about much other than recruitment itself. By taking something I'm passionate about and capitalizing on it, I was able to achieve much more success than I would have if I'd just blindly followed trends. 

That's why I encourage you not to be a cookie cutter of every other popular college blogger out there. It's great to have role models and girl crushes - but I guarantee that if you spoke to any of those people in person, they'd tell you to be yourself above all else. 

Readers, like dogs and babies, can sense when you're being fake. It's that genuine sense of passion and connection they're looking for. And besides: if you're interested in something no one else has written about, chances are there are tons of girls just like you waiting to read about it! So take a chance and put your story down on paper (well....Wordpress).


Spread the Word


Another mistake I made as a new blogger was trying to hide my blog from family and friends. And believe me: I get why I did it, and why you might do the same thing. Friends who don't understand how you spend your time can be relentless with the teasing, and tend to think you're weird for spending twenty minutes grabbing the perfect shot at brunch! 

On the other hand, confidence is key in getting anything you want in life, including blogging success. If you want to be a big blogger, then don't hide your work from the spotlight! Encourage your friends and family to hit up your blog - and share it with their friends and family. 

And speaking of family, I know firsthand how tough breaking the news of your blog to your family members can be, especially when they are unsupportive. Although my family thought I was weird at first for spending so much time on my blog, they eventually came around when they saw me getting sponsorships and free products in the mail, seeing what good this blog has been doing for my career.

My best tip? Prepare your best pitch for naysayers to explain the importance of your blog in your life, and don't be afraid to share, share, share! After all, retweet accounts and hashtags can only get you so far. It's word of mouth and that personal connection that really get people invested in what you do, and you absolutely need your friends and family behind you to make that happen.


Burst the Blogging Bubble


Speaking of spreading the word, that goes for your fellow bloggers, too! Don't live in a "blogging bubble" where you put your own content out there and never share other people's work. The best way to achieve blogging success, like any kind of success, is with a team of supportive, likeminded people behind you - and to get there, you need to build professional and personal connections with other bloggers.

So, support your fellow bloggers as much as you can: read, tweet, share and comment on their work! Make response posts to interesting things they've written, link to them in a roundup post or encourage your fans to follow them, too! Most of my best blogging connections were made by simply reaching out and being myself.

And that's another thing: don't feel pressure to act like someone you're not in the blogging community. In my opinion, the blogging community is built on individuality, not on leading the "perfect life," as some people have suggested. And when people join the blogging community who aren't putting forward their truest, best selves, well...let's just say it doesn't reflect well on any of us.

So, how do you make connections with bloggers you've never met IRL? It's simple, really: reach out! Email, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram...whatever way you can get in touch, pop in to say hi. No matter how many followers they have (well, as long as they're not uber-famous like Zoella), they'll almost always take the time to appreciate a fellow blogger by lifting them and their work up to their audience. 

If you only remember one thing I've said, remember that you can always just say hi! Because what's the worst that could happen? (I know I will always take the time to answer you guys!)


What's your best tip for blogging success? LMK in the comments below!

How to Graduate College Early



Hello, beautiful! I have some exciting (read: terrifying!) news: guess who's graduating at the end of her junior year? Hint: her name starts with "Haley" and ends with "Marie."

Yes, that's me - and no, I can't believe it either! Shaving a year off my college education wasn't something I planned to do, but from an expenses perspective, it is SUCH a relief to be able to say that I'm saving $120,000+ on tuition by graduating early. Because f**k student loans, right guys?

Granted, having to enter the workforce a little earlier than expected is more than just a shock - it's freakin' terrifying! But, I would totally recommend graduating early if you're looking to save money, get a jump start on your career or even take some time off before applying to grad school. For example, I'm strongly considering taking my fourth year of "college" to freelance before applying to agency jobs post-grad!

If you want to hear how I'm doing it (and maybe glean some advice for your own college career), check out my guide below to graduating early from college. Your post-grad self will thank you!

Step One: Transfer Credits

The most important factor in my ability to graduate a year early from college was hands-down my semester of AP credit (that's 16 credits and four classes, people!) transferred from high school. Because I got good grades on most of my AP tests, I was able to spend $80 per class instead of thousands on an entire semester at school.

So, if you're still in high school, I would highly recommend packing on AP credit - as much as you feel comfortable taking, go for it! Though it's a bit of an investment now, it's well worth the money you'll save on taking extra classes in college.

If you're already in college, however, you can't go back and take more AP classes. What you can do, however, is spend your summers at your local community college. My university has a database of classes that transfer from other schools, so you can easily take summer classes at a cheaper college and transfer them over to your university. This is an especially great idea if you're a freshman or sophomore looking to shave off some of those pesky gen-ed requirements to delve deeper into your major!


Step Two: Double-Up

And speaking of all those pesky requirements, wanna know how I'm managing to graduate early with both a major in Mass Communications and a minor in Political Science? Thank my college's gen-ed requirements for that! 

My college requires both general ed classes in history and social sciences, as well as three classes in a "concentration" of your choice. I used Political Science classes to fulfill all of these, leaving me one class away from graduating with a minor on top of my already-half-finished Mass Communications major.


Step Three: Skip the Distractions

Okay, so this seems kind of harsh - but let me explain myself before you click away. By "distractions," I don't mean boys, friends or parties. The last thing you should do is sacrifice your mental health and happiness to kill yourself studying all night! 

When I say "distractions," I'm more talking about those alluring programs colleges try to tempt you with during the admissions process - things like co-op programs (unless your school requires it, of course) and semesters abroad. As great as it is to spend a couple months studying in Europe, it's an expense that often doesn't count toward your requirements for graduation. And same goes for that fancy internship in the city - unless they're paying you for it, all those new internship clothes and work lunches are bound to cost you a pretty penny and deter you from your goal of graduating early.

So, don't let your college advisors get the best of you! Pay attention to the fine print before you sign onto these programs, and think carefully about your priorities and motives before accepting an opportunity abroad.


Step Four: Count Credits Carefully

Try saying that ten times fast! But, in all seriousness, it's important to keep a careful eye on your credits to make sure you're staying on track toward early graduation.

The most obvious way to make sure you're staying on track is to meet with an advisor regularly to count your credits and make up for any discrepancies along the way. However, my school also offers a helpful online tool that shows you how close you are to meeting your requirements for graduation. If your school offers something similar, it's a great DIY alternative to sitting in an advisor's office for hours adding up credits on a calculator. (Just trust me on this one.)



Are YOU graduating early? If so, how will you make it happen? LMK in the comments below - because accountability is key!