Episode Number: 312

Episode 312- Paying Off $60k Of Debt, The Netflix Effect & Saving Money On Groceries With Toni Okamoto

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Paying Off $60k Of Debt, The Netflix Effect & Saving Money On Groceries With Toni Okamoto

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Toni Okamoto, founder of Plant Based On A Budget and podcast host, joins the Journey To Launch podcast to talk about her new book, Plant-Based on a Budget Quick & Easy: 100 Fast, Healthy, Meal-Prep, Freezer-Friendly, and One-Pot Vegan Recipes,” and how she “fell” into entrepreneurship. 

Plant Based On A Budget began in 2012 as a passion project, but swiftly turned into an online empire with over 1M followers across social media. Toni went full-time in 2016 and hasn’t looked back. Since then, she secured a Netflix documentary feature on “What The Health,” and successfully leads a team of 6, spreading the word of accessible and affordable plant based meal options globally.

We chat about expectations you can have as a business owner in the online space, why she views Plant Based On A Budget as a form of activism and how you can save money on groceries.

In this episode, you’ll learn more about:

    • How long it actually took Toni to make a profit with her passion project, Plant Based On A Budget + why you should adjust your expectations if you want to start an online brand
    • Why staying open and curious is a key skill in entrepreneurship and can lead to massive opportunities
    • What you can do right now to save money on healthy meals you will enjoy that will actually leave you and your family feeling satisfied 
    • Tip and tricks to get your kids into veggies + more 

Check out the video of this episode on YouTube below or by clicking here!

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Toni’s book, Plant-Based on a Budget Quick & Easy: 100 Fast, Healthy, Meal-Prep, Freezer-Friendly, and One-Pot Vegan Recipes by Toni Okamoto by going to journeytolaunch.com/win.

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Toni Okamoto 0:02

I remember saying as your currency please you have a line of people tapping their feet. And he's like these people don't pay my bills so that they can wait. So getting into the mindset that it's okay to save money, it's okay to get that sale price.

Intro 0:19

T-Minus 10 seconds. Welcome to the journey to launch podcast with your host jameelah. So frogs as a money expert who rocks her talk, she helps brave juniors like you get out of debt, save, invest and build real Whoa. Join her on the journey to launch to financial freedom for three two one.

Exciting news, we are giving away a copy of today's guest book. So if you want your chance to win a copy, go to journey to launch.com/win for more details. Also make sure you're following me at journey to launch on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to get the details.

If you want the episode show notes for this episode, go to journey to launch.com or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. In the show notes. You'll get the transcribed version of the conversation, the links that we mentioned and so much more. Also, whether you are an OG journeyer, or brand new to the podcast, I've created a free jumpstart guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes so listen to stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources and so much more. You can go to journey to launch that comm slash jumpstart to get your guide right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.

Jamila Souffrant 1:50

Hey journeyers I am excited as I always am to have a special guest on the podcast. Today we will be talking to Tony Okamoto. She is the founder of a plant based on a budget, the popular website and meal plan that shows you how to save dough by eating veggies. Her new cookbook is plant based on a budget quick and easy. She's also the co host of the plant powered people podcast. Welcome to the journey to launch podcast. Tony,

Toni Okamoto 2:19

thank you so much for having me. I'm really looking forward to our conversation today.

Jamila Souffrant 2:24

Yes, okay. So I want this to be part instructional, and educational for us. For me, you know, about how to save money on groceries and how to be the most efficient when it comes to cooking and meal prep and plans. But I am so interested in your actual personal journey. Because you also have a story of paying off debt, you said 60 to $70,000 of debt that you paid off between credit cards and school loans. And then just you growing your business into what it is. And so I'd love to maybe let's start there with your background. And you said you started to eat this diet because because of the necessity, you didn't have money. And so can you take us back to that that point where you were

Toni Okamoto 3:07

the I left my parents house out of spite, or good now but at the time, they were really trying to be as diplomatic as possible. They had a lot of rules. And they're very strict parents and they super cared about me, which I understand now but at the time felt very oppressive. So I left right out of high school and I didn't have any money saved. So I got some credit cards and I honestly didn't really understand the concept of credit cards. I had not had financial literacy taught to me at a young age. And so I lived beyond my means. I shared a room with two other people. And I did not have a lot of overhead in my home. But I was buying food while I was eating out with friends. I was racking up credit card debt. I got some of those department store credit cards which are super high interest, and I couldn't pay for them. So I didn't I stopped paying for them. I was part of a credit union which kicked me out of the credit union because I overspent and under delivered in payments. So it was very hard, which made life in my early 20s mid 20s very extremely hard because then you can't find a place to rent. You can't buy a car, even a used car from the most sketchy place won't give you a loan to get a car. And so I was carless for a while and it wasn't until about 2015 that I started to think about what I wanted for my future. I started plant based on a budget in 2012. But then I went full time in 2016. So around that time I was making some big changes. I also decided to go back to school which took on a lot more debt. I remember going to The Office of the college that I picked, I picked the University of San Francisco, which is a private school. And I was so grateful that I got in. But I was crying because I, I couldn't take on any more debt and the thought of losing out on education, when I had not already had it, all of my 20s seemed so overwhelming. And I remember feeling like, what a gift that people have to get to go to school debt free, whether that's through scholarships, or family money, or whoever else grants, I didn't have that. And so I packed on more debt. And again, it was a private school. So it was pretty, it was a pretty penny. And at that time, I started also making money, maybe in 2017. With my plant base on a budget, I was selling these $5 meal plans, showing people how to eat affordably. And I got featured in a documentary on Netflix called with the health and it changed my life, I started selling a lot of these $5 meal plans. And I continued living as though I did not have a lot of money. I tried to pay up as much of my school loans as possible, then I went over to my high interest loans. I also had a bunch of collections at the time. So I was trying to pay off those. And my goal of all of this was by the time I got married, and I got married in 2019, to be debt free. I came into my marriage with $0. But I came in not negative. So I was so proud of myself. And I just kept living like I was on a very tight budget. And actually, I was listening to one of your podcast episodes, where you were talking about what it's like to start earning but to live below your means and to save that money. And it really, really helps you get out of debt and to feel like you are in control of your financial freedom.

Jamila Souffrant 7:05

Yeah, well, thank you for that background. What when you were applying to go to school? What was going to be your major? Like, what did you think you were going to do professionally?

Toni Okamoto 7:14

I knew what I was going to do. So I went back to school when I was in my late 20s. And I graduated when I was 30. And I studied management. And we talked a lot about business and how to run a team. And at that same time, I had just started to plant based on a budget full time. So I was able to directly apply and use my degree while I was learning and starting the business.

Jamila Souffrant 7:43

Yeah. Did you at the time? No. And was was building your business to be your full time thing. Or you were gonna go into corporate America and then do it on the side. What was your like? What was your plan?

Toni Okamoto 7:54

So I started plant based on a budget in 2012. And it was a passion project, I initially started it because I wanted my family to eat healthier, they were suffering from a lot of diet related issues like type two diabetes and heart disease. And it was it was fatal for some people. And it was just awful. So it was my way of showing how you can eat without eat well and healthy and nourishing with without spending a fortune and without having to leave the grocery store that you currently shop. And so always a passion project, a form of activism even. And it wasn't until I was laid off later that I thought, well, I don't know what to do. Like I was interviewing for a lot of jobs. The interviewing processes are so ridiculous. Sometimes I was doing three months of one, job interview, working interviews, and they really take their time. And meanwhile, I was focusing my full time energy on plant based on a budget and I was able to see what you could accomplish with that energy. I was receiving unemployment. So I did have some money coming in. But it was a fraction of what I was making. And at the time, I was only making $34,000 a year. So it wasn't a lot of money. So back into debt. But anyway, I really appreciated that time, because I did not ever consider it as a job. And it wasn't until I was really propelled into it full time that I could see the potential and believe in myself and I had some cheerleaders cheering me on along the way saying you can do that. You can do anything you want. Meanwhile, I also had some naysayers. My parents thought I was taking a step back in life and that they worked so hard to give me opportunities to get me a job that would pay me health care benefits. And I was choosing this path of hardship and they didn't understand or nor support me initially. So it's a tough choice but If you really believe in yourself, and you have the grit and the desire, you can really make it happen. And I had no experience in business, I had no experience in money management, I had no experience across the board. And now I have a team of six people who work with me. And it's such a great feeling to believe in yourself and to build confidence and to surround yourself with people who are really, really inspiring you to continue on.

Jamila Souffrant 10:29

Yeah, well, so team of six people, I just pulled up your Instagram, you have over 560,000 followers on Instagram. I mean, so obviously, you built a significant brand and business. And one of the things that you mentioned when you started out as like a necessity, the love for eating, you know, plants or sharing with your family, because it was like for health reasons and necessity. But it was also a passion project. How was it changing, going from a passion project to a business for you, because I feel like emotionally and mentally there is a shift that happens. Like when I started learning to launch, while I had my full time job, it was more of a passion project. And then I saw the potential. And now I'm doing this full time. And things have changed. Like for me, at least with how I view the business. And before it was like, it was almost like my escape from my corporate job. But then it became the pathway and my full time job. So how did you deal with that difference? Because I know some people will say, if sometimes passion project should stay passion projects, like don't make it your full time thing or depend on it for money. But then sometimes, like in my case, I really didn't have a choice. I felt like I rather do this full time than my corporate job. So what was it like for you to switch gears and make that transition?

Toni Okamoto 11:44

That is a great question. And I have all kinds of thoughts and feelings about it, I am in a unique position. And I think you are too, because it was a point of passion. I hear a lot of people who want to go into this career, because of the perks that come along with it. But for a very long time, you don't experience any perks at all, you give your money you give your time you give your energy, your love and your care. And it will take as much as you give. And so I strongly, strongly recommend that people really feel the passion for it. So that you can create boundaries, you can create a long term relationship with your career and give it a lot but not you're all like I love my job. And I still struggle with my boundaries. And I can see myself doing this long term, because I want to it makes me happy, it makes me feel fulfilled. I live for chatting with people about making recipes. And there's that and and then the difference between now and then is also learning to let go of what you're passionate about. I now again, work with a team of people and to bring people into your space and allow them to take things that you love doing, because they'll do it better. And they'll give it more care, care and attention. This really tough and I still work on that. But I am I'm glad I'm in a position now to have help because it allows me to focus on the things that I really really really enjoy doing.

Jamila Souffrant 13:35

That makes so much sense and also to people also do things differently. Because I'm sure like you did every single thing and you touched all parts of your business and I don't have like I don't have a full time team I have contractors or people who helped me and are good but nothing like that's full time but still yet like you're trusting other people with you know your baby, but then I realized some times where I'm like alright, just because you may have wrote the sentence that way if you did it but it's okay if they they use this color or they didn't add a line like you know sometimes I have to step back myself and say that's not important. Can you focus on the important thing so I don't know if you feel that too with your business?

Toni Okamoto 14:11

I do. I really do. And it I started out when I hired my first person I think this also goes back to Money control and to to have been without to invest for the very first time was so hard for me. I hired someone for four hours a week. And I was like oh my gosh, that's four hours I'm paying someone now I hope they do a good job. I hope it works out and having that four hours back in my life was amazing. I'm grateful it worked out and it allowed me to continue feeling comfortable letting a little bit go and a little bit go and as I was able to have those four hours and then five hours and six hours back in my life. I I'm also able to look for other opportunities that I can monetize with those five hours of my life. So maybe this person is taking up X amount of money, I'm now able to use that time to pay for that person. Plus more with that time I have back in my life and so to have that mindset shift, just know it, that is a risk, but believe in yourself and make it work is, in my opinion, in my experience, worth it. In the end,

Jamila Souffrant 15:30

it's like necessary to I realized, when I talked to fellow personal finance, content creators, or and people in the space or even like, you know, your your brand is, is about still saving money and eating healthy on a diet, but also you, you came from a place where you also didn't have a lot of money. So I find like the shift of how you deal with your personal finances and personal financial goals and how you deal with your business, you have to know when to turn it on, like, okay, yes, we want to save money and be efficient. But also I find when I look at even myself and other people and how they think about their business, they don't want to spend the money like to for someone else to do that job, when it's costing them a lot of time and energy because they're they're so focused on saving, saving, being efficient, efficient, in one aspect and not looking at the game like that is an investment. So it's important, like, switch to me.

Toni Okamoto 16:20

It is it is and I think it's extra hard when you work at home. And when you're just getting started, like when I just started, I was working as a sole proprietor, and I didn't, again, have that money management skill, or skill set. So I didn't know that I should start a business bank account and keep my money separately. And okay, this is this is bad. But I didn't pay taxes for a long time because I thought I owed a lot of money, and I couldn't afford to pay it back. And so I ended up having enough money to go to an accountant. And we got settled. And I ended up getting money back, which was cool. And I thought oh my gosh, why did I do this to myself because I had penalties. Anyway, I I learned at that point that I was doing everything wrong by mixing business money and personal money. And I learned that there were tax benefits that we're not running as a sole proprietor, but also providing the protections with an LLC. So it when you don't have the knowledge, and you're just kind of flailing out there by yourself. It is a challenge. And now there's so much good information out for free like this podcast and and others where you can absorb as much as you can take in and not be flailing out there. But if you don't have the knowledge, and you don't know what you're doing, and you didn't intend down this path to go down this path, it can be a little bit of a challenge for sure.

Jamila Souffrant 17:52

Yeah. Well, you talk about you mentioned that you were featured in the Netflix documentary, and that was almost, you know, an avalanche or it helped, like, boost what you were doing. I find that interesting, because for a lot of people, maybe they'll they won't get that Netflix experience or be featured on Netflix, but it's going to take just consistency and time. Or maybe it's not a Netflix thing. Maybe it's a feature somewhere or an interview or a chance meeting with someone who can help them. How did you getting featured in that come about? Did they see your work online and reach out? Did you pitch yourself? And then if you didn't get that, like let's just say that never happened for you? I know it's hard to go back in time. What things would you that you feel like you would have you done to hopefully get to where you are still today.

Toni Okamoto 18:40

I had a connection of connection. Like I knew a person who knew a person who recommended me for the for the documentary, and were familiar with my work online. And with these free meal plans that I had created, showing that you could eat a healthy plant based diet on a very tight budget. If you are on at the time I was showing that you can eat for $100 per month, the seven days a week, three meals a day, and still feeling full shopping at the grocery store that you shop at. And that's how that got featured. But if I didn't have that experience, which I've only had one experience like that, and so I had a wave in the beginning I got some followers, I got some customers, but the rest of the time it has been coming to the table even when I don't want to even when I don't feel motivated and showing up consistently for now over a decade. I have been doing plant based on a budget for 11 years and a lot of times I didn't feel like it but it's my job. If I worked at a retail store or in corporate America or as a as an educator I have to show up to my job, or else I don't make a living. And I tried to keep the same mindset when I'm running my business, even if I don't want to, I have to show up and do my work. And again, I do create better boundaries now than I ever have in my past. But I'm also in the position to have a little bit more flexibility now than I ever have.

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Jamila Souffrant 21:20

You're been doing this for over a decade. So this is not like overnight success. I mean, they always say like the overnight success someone sees it's like years of work that you did not see. And and also for you to be in a position even if it was an introduction, and a friend of a friend and you had to you know you were running against maybe like three other people they were considering you still had to have the work, right. Like you still had to have the work that showed that you could handle right, this new opportunity, which is why I say like maybe you're not known right now, maybe you don't have a following. But all it takes is one you don't you actually don't need a million followers or 10,000. You just need one follower that potentially has a connection to a connection, or some influence. And that's all you need. And so you need to show up and do the work.

Toni Okamoto 22:05

Some of the best lessons I I learned along this journey are from just asking friends questions. When I decided to go full time, I was willing to talk to anybody who would talk to me about business because I didn't know anything. And I remember I started a Patreon and I had this friend who was a swing dancer, I'm a swing dancer. He gave me something like $10 a month for a very short period of time. And I sent him a thank you card. And he texted me back and he said, No problem. I used to do business. If you ever want to get some coffee, I'm happy to help you any way I can. I took the coffee meeting with him. And he helped me create a plan for my business. We sat for four hours in that coffee date. We went through SWOT analysis, we created a one three and five year plan. And I had not thought about my blog as a business before. And also he created goals for me. And I created goals for me, the one the three in the five year plan. Having someone dream big for you is it's like a confidence booster. I remember he said one day, I would like you to make $70,000. And he could have said, a bajillion dollars. I was like what $70,000 You want me to make that wonder you're crazy. Because I was coming from a place where I made first my my salary was 28. And then I got a new job. And I got a raise for 34,000. And I was thinking wow, I've hit the jackpot. And so to then jump to $70,000 was beyond belief for me. But having someone helped me dream big for myself and talking to someone I didn't expect to talk to you just because he offered was one of the most transformational things in my business.

Jamila Souffrant 24:04

Yeah, I mean, and it's so important to have those relationships and not like even knew that that relationship could turn into that. But the importance of speaking to other people, like you said, that have a different vision, even if you know and just hearing it out, like sometimes it's maybe not it's not even something you would pursue. But I always like to just get introduced to ideas and even if I don't pick them up and take them with me because it's just not for me. It's just great to be exposed to those possibilities.

Toni Okamoto 24:32

Exactly. And I I also started listening to more business podcasts and listening to business books and like you said, you don't have to take in all the information just listen to what other people are doing and take the nuggets that are applicable to your business and sometimes you find really incredible information out there for free.

Jamila Souffrant 24:56

Yeah, okay. So when it comes to what you're have an expertise about what your book is about your blog. It's about eating well on a plant based diet and saving money. So one of the things I love that you said, because it was like, it's like a pushback that I even feel when someone says, oh, you can take on just like a full plant based diet. It's like, well, I feel full, you know, like, or do I have to like change up all my behaviors and go to different stores to get what I want you, you kind of just like in your intro, or just when you're talking about like, know that you don't have to do any of that. So help us the benefits of eating plant based, you know, can we still receive some of that if we don't go all plant base, maybe we just replace some meals. And then we'll get into strategies and tips for like shopping and saving money.

Toni Okamoto 25:44

All righty. Well, I will say it took me a really long time to be plant based, it took about six years of doing it at my own pace and stopping eating this and then that and I didn't intend when I set out on this path to become fully plant based. So there's that. I think that whatever anyone does, whether that's meatless Mondays, or vegetarian meal, once every few days, I feel like that is good. Introducing more plants into your diet will only benefit you. So I started for health, I was eating a ton of fast food and processed foods. And my coach from my track team said that I should chill so that I could stop feeling sick after practice. He suggested I stopped eating red meat and stop eating the fast food. And I did and I began to thrive as a runner. And I also felt better in a few different ways. My digestion especially, I hear that the most that's the number one thing I hear doing this for so long is that it makes bathroom time of much easier, faster experience. So that's introducing more fiber into your diet is a good thing. And along that comes with also more water, because of all the critters that you're eating. So people tend to have clear skin. So those are some things but for me, I first started with red meat, then I very very, very slowly and poorly went into vegetarianism, I still ate things with like chicken broth, or would just pick the pepperoni off of my pizza. And I felt that's totally fine for me. So I had no hard and fast rules. But now that I've been vegan for 16 years, I do feel I do feel good. I feel like it is not as challenging now than as it was 16 years ago, I can eat places people know what vegan means. If you tell them in advance, they can whip something up for you. It's much more delicious. Before you could get one type of soy milk. Now you can get 100 different types of milks at the store that are non dairy. And after surveying my audience, I found that 65% of people eat meat still, they just want to eat more plant based, they want their families to feel better and healthier. And it's often a suggestion from a doctor, they watched a documentary or they're trying to save money. Those are the reasons that people come to my website. And then the primary store that they shop at is Walmart. So I've done a ton of free resources showing what I eat and day on a budget from Walmart, Dollar Tree, and other stores like that, that are more accessible if you live in places that don't have a lot of access to fresh food or different types of grocery stores.

Jamila Souffrant 28:51

Right. And as you were talking about how you slowly transition, it's one of those things where as someone who eats everything, you know, I look and I'm like, Well, if I start on this trend or not a trend like it's fad, but if I start on this path, my intention is not to want to be vegan, right? Or like I don't know, but there's like levels right? Like you can you're you eat everything and then maybe you you elimination, you cut out certain things. I just don't eat red meat or maybe okay, I cut out all meat I only eat fish. Or maybe it's like I'm vegetarian. I feel like there's like, you know, there's levels to where you start getting more refined, or I would assume vegan is kind of the if we're looking at a spectrum, like it's on the other end of like, if you eat everything. And for some people, it's like, well, I don't want like to be vegan, like so you don't even want to start the process because like, what if I end up there, but you're also cutting yourself off from the possibilities of what the benefits of being vegan could be. Versus because you don't know anything about it. You're assuming like your life will be forever, like, changed and not a good way if that makes sense.

Toni Okamoto 29:52

I totally understand what you're saying. And one thing I do want to point out from my experience is that going into it it's It seems like it can be more restrictive because you feel like you're eliminating this here and you're eliminating this there. However, for me, I was opened up to an entirely new world of international cuisines and different flavors and different types of produce. I grew up I grew up never having had kale, or butternut squash or other very popular plant based ingredients, even brown rice, it took me quite a while to develop a place in my palate for brown rice because it's nuttier texture, I am Japanese and Mexican, we eat white rice. So it opened me up and made me a little bit uncomfortable for a while to trying new foods and flavors and textures and spices.

Jamila Souffrant 30:52

Yeah, that's definitely a great way to think about it. It's not what you're giving up. It's what you're gaining on the other side, right? The flavors are different cultures that do just eat vegan or vegetarian types of meals. Well, okay, so talk a talk to me about saving money while shopping. Because if we're looking at someone's budget, like a typical person's budget, you know, we have the mortgage and rent we have like these, these bills and things that we have to pay for. And we have to pay to eat right for food, and sometimes for groceries and going out to eat for a lot of people like that's at the top, right under like the mortgage or whatever car payment they have, it's up there. And so especially with today, and inflation and the price of groceries, like the ad, you know, the price of eggs going up what what are some ways and some strategies that we can use to shop better to save money, but to still enjoy what we eat?

Toni Okamoto 31:42

I'm sure that you're a very savvy audience is aware of this, but I want to mention it just in case. But meal planning is my number one tip to creating a plan and not allowing opportunity for impulsive purchases, is going to save so much money, I know that when I had an hour and a half commute each way to work, if I didn't have something waiting for me at home, or have an idea of what I was going to quickly throw together, I would stop at Chipotle and get a $6 $7 burrito. And instead, I could use that $7 to buy a whole meal for my family, you can easily throw together a bean chili that is super filling and even the cornbread for for your chili for 10 bucks for your family of four. So you can definitely save a lot of money by creating a plan and start with seeing what you already have on hand, build your meal plan based on the ingredients that you have in your pantry and your freezer, your fridge refrigerator, so you're not having to go buy everything new. And then when you're creating your meal plan, you also want to make sure that you have complementary dishes that use the same ingredients so that you're not having to buy stuff for pasta, and then have nothing that you could use leftover from that pasta for your soup or whatever else you're making. So you want to make them complimentary, so that you're using all of the ingredients and nothing goes to waste. Because there is a special place in my heart, that is a place of sadness that goes to throwing produce in the garbage. I feel like I'm just taking money out of my wallet and tossing it in the trash. So that's the first place I start and then the other places when you're at the grocery store, eat before you go yes. Before you go, but while you're there, because you have a meal plan and a grocery shopping list, you can stay the course, when you get there, there's going to be shiny, bright marketing all up in your face. And that's probably paid placement. They're trying to get you to buy that with their bright colors and their big sale signs. Stay the course go to the aisle where the tomato sauces instead of seeing that hunts sale sign and look for the price per ounce, buy the cheapest thing that the cheapest option that you can and and then while you're getting rung up, especially if you're buying in bulk, make sure that you've written down pay attention because I have so many times written down the wrong number or had been in a conversation with the cashier and maybe they typed it in correctly and was overcharged and if you're paying attention, you can quickly correct it. The other thing is and this is something that I have struggled with at different parts of my life, but I always channel my dad or yokomoto He would do this thing that really embarrassed me. And if we were at the register, he would have them go check the sale price. He would go have a folder of coupons. He just would not care about saving money and what he needed to do for his family. And I remember saying Dad, you're embarrassing me please you have a line People tapping their feet. And he's like, These people don't pay my bills so that they can wait. So getting into the mindset that it's okay, to save money, it's okay to get that sale price.

Jamila Souffrant 35:13

Yea, so many good points here. So definitely agree with not going shopping or it's hard to make great decisions when you're hungry. That's me. Like, once I'm hungry, all bets are off, I'll buy anything like, you know, I don't care. And you know, it's so funny, even with the shopping while hungry. And you'll see some memes like going around on social media that like, oh, just spent all this hundreds of dollars on groceries. And so like, stop for food. Right, like, so you do really have to have a plan when you're doing these things, because it's physical, right activity you're out about and then by the time you're done, even if you ate before, you might be hungry after. And I find that even when I started to do on a Trader Joe's like that is my weak spot. That's where I like to go grocery shopping. And there was this meme that said, I don't go to Trader Joe's with a list, I just go with fives. And like I just pick up what like feels good. And that's me. I'm like, Oh, that looks good. That looks good. But then I'm like, Alright, did you did you really need that. And so like, it's important to have a plan, and especially depending on where you are on your journey. So for me where I am in my financial journey, I like to be a bit more free with the way I spend money. I don't like to be as restrictive. But I tell you this when I was working at my corporate job and wanted to leave it, or for people who are in debt that want to get out, I do think there is a space even if you're not, you know sure that you can withstand or want to be as strict, it's important if your goal or you have a desire to get out of your financial situation, because it's not serving you that you do put some things in place that don't hopefully fill like restrictions after a while but feel like Liberation's towards where you want. So maybe you know, in five years, you won't need to be so strict with a grocery shopping budget. But for now, because you're trying to get out of debt or leave a job, let's do it, if you can save $1,000 or, you know, whatever much a month like it's important. So I want to just make that clear. And then the other thing is, I find that and this is not just for food shopping, but in general. People feel embarrassed, maybe, especially when they go to the counter, or they're asking about discounts, or something does is rung up wrong. I've seen it and I've almost experienced it myself where you don't want to feel like you don't have the money or you're being cheap or other people view you that way where like your dad says it's like you won't see these people again, it doesn't matter. So as long as you're being respectful, you can ask questions, you can push back and say, Wait, can you double check that or? I think maybe you know, I think it's okay, like don't be so caught up in what other people think because they won't be home helping you pay that bill later.

Toni Okamoto 37:48


Jamila Souffrant 37:50

You know, I have small kids. And sometimes I'm like, I don't know what I did wrong, because they they are and I know, I know, this is me joking. I didn't do anything wrong. But they're such picky eaters, you know, and I've tried, I tried my best to introduce them to things early on. And they don't like vegetables. Like when my middle son, he's like He will eat it if it's provided. But the other two, it's like, you have to force them and I don't want to force them. There was like a study shown, or someone said there was a study about if you force your kids to eat vegetables, when they get older, they'll they'll avoid it. They don't want to eat it. And so if you're doing this with kids, what have you found that like your audience has said, like what's the best introduction or best types of meals that kids like, and I know every kid is different, but just for encouragement for the parents if they want to start doing this with with their family and kids.

Toni Okamoto 38:39

I remember reading Jessica Seinfeld's book a long time ago, I used I learned how to cook by checking out cookbooks from the library and ended up buying her cookbook and it was about sneaking veggies, and getting vegetables and different types of produce into food with just chopping it up and throwing it in there. But it's blended. And so we'll say I have these pancakes that are green, and they're so fun. I see so many kid photos around St. Patrick's Day, there's no taste of spinach, but they're just pancakes with a lot of spinach blended into the mix. And so sneaking it in making it fun, creating a little story about it. That's what my very dear friend and business partner does. She has a three year old who is still learning to like vegetables. And she is constantly thinking of just a fun anecdote like the St. Patrick's Day pancakes. So that's one option. The other option is continuously asking them to try it because even for adults like me, I mentioned the brown rice experience. It took me about 10 times to like brown rice. I tried it in all these different ways and a stir fry in a burrito and it just had could not get it. But after a while having it prepared so many different times, and giving it a try, it found a place in my palate, and now I enjoy it. And it's a staple grain for me. So having the same experience with your children where maybe you prepare it differently and ask them to just try it, you know, to force them and say, let's give it a try. It's something that's new, what's different than the last time you had it. And then lastly, creating familiar, tasty recipes for them that have simple swaps out one that my family loves is everyone likes taco night, we love tacos. And instead of using ground beef, I will use lentils, they're cheaper, and I flavor them with the same taco seasoning packet, I topped them with the same things. And nobody really thinks about it, because it's a similar texture and taste. So just making simple swaps that your family already loves and enjoys the tastes and textures of can sometimes trick even the biggest naysayers.

Jamila Souffrant 41:07

Okay, all right, I'll have to try some of that and report back to you in the audience. Now for your cookbook, or just in general, what's one of the most popular like meals like that you've shared with the audience. And you got like great feedback, even though this we're recording this. So we're going to put it on my YouTube channel. But it's we're not we don't have the dish in front of us. But if you can explain what it is and what's your favorite thing that you've created or that you cook.

Toni Okamoto 41:36

Okay, so the favorite thing that I cook right now it's an it's in my book, which is right here plant based on a budget quick and easy. It's something called sopa de Valle, which is like a soupy pasta dish. It's Mexican, my grandma made it all the time, I grew up with my grandparents. And it is so good. And I'm not sure if you have anything like this, but when you eat it, it's comforting. It's like a big hug. When when whenever you taste the different flavor combinations and texture combinations, it just brings me home to my grandma's.

Jamila Souffrant 42:14

What are the main ingredients or what's the call and what is it called again,

Toni Okamoto 42:18

it's called soap by that female and it is you could buy the female in little bags, they're about 50 cents and they you sell them at Walmart or wherever else in the history Hispanic section of the grocery store. Then, if you don't have that you can break up angel hair pasta. And then it's a you can either use a tomato sauce in a can, which is what I do, but some people will blend up their own tomatoes with a vegetable broth, and zucchini and onion and garlic and I put black beans in mind for protein. It's very delicious and hearty and super good. Just super super good and

Jamila Souffrant 42:59

it sounds good.

Toni Okamoto 43:00

Then the most viral thing every time I post it every single time for years is bean salad. It's got a lot of different colors and vegetables in it. I've probably put four different colored beans in there black Pinto kid me chickpea, a can of corn and then I'll chop up some cilantro put in some lime or lemon juice and some salt and some red hot chili flakes if you like spice can also throw in whatever you have. If you wanted to put an avocado that's a little bit more expensive or a bell pepper, you can throw that in there too. It is so good. So easy and you can take it to a potluck and people will devour it and if you put a picture of it on the internet, people will send that post viral I promise

Jamila Souffrant 43:48

okay, so we have to definitely cite or put that poll that specific post a link to it in the show notes everyone can see that and yeah, I'm like bean salad really? But I guess I guess Yeah, I guess it is popular.

Toni Okamoto 44:01

Yep. And you can make it a meal by putting it in a burrito like making it a burrito with some salsa or you can use it as a dip if you want to but I usually just eat it with like a salad.

Jamila Souffrant 44:13

Okay, all right. So I am loving all of this you know I'm getting hungry. So we will need to tell everyone Tony where they can get your cookbook where they can follow you find out more about you and yeah let's let's let's start saving money and eating healthier with vegetarian meals.

Toni Okamoto 44:33

Thank you my cookbook is called plant based on a budget quick and easy it's available at plant based on a budget cookbook.com And I am on all platforms at plant based on a budget. And thank you so much for all the good work that you do helping people take control of their finances. I love your podcast and and I really appreciate being here.

Jamila Souffrant 44:56

Oh thank you again.

Outro 45:01

Oh, don't forget, we are giving away a copy of this week's guest book. So if you want your chance to win, go to journey to launch.com/win for more details, and make sure you're following me at journey to launch on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Don't forget, you can get the episode show notes for this episode by going to journey to launch.com. Or click the description of wherever you're listening to this. And you can still grab your jumpstart guide for free to help you on your journey to financial freedom by going to journey to launch.com/jumpstart.

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Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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