Fridays Under $40: Trying To Be Healthy

Posted on: August 14th, 2020 at 5:04 am by

Photo: Sara Graham

In our new Friday column, “Fridays Under $40,” Boogie contributor Sara Graham hits the streets to find cheap eats and affordable things to do during these weird times.

There are many hobbyists that have sprung from the self-isolation of spring 2020—sourdough bread bakers, TikTok choreographers, “plant moms”—but I’m most envious of runners. I’m lucky if I get to a Zoom yoga class once a week and the best I can do lately is try to eat well. In that spirit, my day started at Essex Squeeze, a new addition to the Essex Market. I popped by for a green juice called the “Orchard Street Bargain” (at $7.50, not sure it was a bargain, but it was good), which was a zippy combination of apples, celery, kale and lemon. They have toasts, acai bowls, and smoothies, too.

Essex Squeeze, 88 Essex Street, Booth 11

Total Cost: $9.16
Hours: 9 AM – 6 PM Monday-Saturday; Sunday 10 AM – 6 PM


Photo: Sara Graham

My next stop is vegetarian haven, Punjabi. They reopened last month for takeout and the prices are still dependably, staggeringly low for delicious roti and rice dishes. I always get the rice with two items for $5.00 (I had the yellow dal and potato green bean curry). Bonus tip: they’ve stopped using styrofoam and everything is packed in takeout plastic containers. That means free “Tupperware.” To maintain social distancing, only two customers are allowed inside at a time and you might have a tough go at finding socially-distanced outdoor seating on the nearby benches. It’s cool though, ‘cause you’ve got a container with a lid now, so just take it to go.

Punjabi Grocery & Deli, 1 East 1st Street

Total Cost: $5.00
Hours: Open 24 Hours


Photo: Sara Graham

My biggest hobby is reading books (is that a hobby?) and I haven’t been to a bookstore in four months—have you? McNally Jackson recently reopened on Prince Street and browsing books indoors felt like a luxury and also, a little weird. I felt better outside because 1: air circulation and 2: that’s where the cheap books are. I got David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls,because I couldn’t ignore the title or the $6.99 sticker. Also on the sale rack is The Friend,’by Sigrid Nunez, which was one of the best books of 2018, so I don’t know what it’s doing out there. Inside, there’s an excellent curation of titles for anti-racist education and a myriad cookbooks that look enticing. Be sure to squirt your hands with sanitizer upon entry.

McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince Street
Total Cost: $8.54
Hours: 12 PM – 7 PM Daily


Photo: Sara Graham

On my way home, I know I need groceries, but I don’t want to shop for them. I decide to get some frozen veggie dumplings for dinner from 88 Lan Zhou who just announced they were closing tomorrow (August 15)—what followed was heartbreak and an outpouring of love and offers to help from their loyal customer base. Now, they’ve reported extending their closing date via Instagram and their frozen dumplings are selling out. I pop by and the door is locked, with a phone number to call for dumpling orders (50 for $9.00). I am told they only have pork, so I have to pass. It’s probably not a good idea to have 50 frozen dumplings in my freezer anyways.

88 Lan Zhou, 40 Bowery
Total Cost: $0
Hours: 11 AM – 11 PM, Daily

Total cost of walkabout: $22.70
Costs recorded do not include tip, so tip generously. Wear a mask.

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