Tuesday, June 14, 2016

6 Ways to Spend Less on Healthy Groceries

The biggest complaint I receive when talking to someone about healthy eating and budgeting is  how "expensive it is to eat healthy." I won't lie- it can absolutely be draining financially to purchase foods viewed as healthy. However, it CAN be done, and still stay on budget. One MUST have a game plan and stick to it with a little thing I like to call, "discipline." It doesn't hurt to have some awesome resources and tips, so here is my personal game plan. Thank me later.

1. Take a picture of what's inside the refrigerator

This is way faster than making a list, sometimes. This age always utilizes phones for so many uses, so might as well add one more. Simply snap a shot of the inside of the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, and you can glance back while shopping to see what you really need. I cannot count how many times I've doubled up on something like milk, almond milk, or eggs because I thought I needed them. No, I needed more yogurt- and bought zero yogurts.

2. Make a list and STICK TO IT

If you're going to take the time to make a list (or, lets be honest, cannot function without a list), better to not disgrace your precious time by not sticking to it. At the end of the day, no matter where you shop for groceries, that entity is a business. It will throw promotions and sales and yummy things left and right. Use your list to karate slice through all of that to victory. That Coca Cola sale on 2 liters for $1 you just passed?- that's a bag of whole, raw carrots in your buggy.

Make a list that incorporates items with coupons, sales, and/or rebates!

I also like to make my list to be in order of where I'll find them, instead of running all over the store out of order or potentially skipping items. Like my yogurt...

3. Use rebate/coupon apps


Coupons.com app can allow you to print wirelessly to a printer, or upload to certain stores on loyalty cards!

Rebate Apps

This is the FUN part. You shop, you pay, you go home. Right? Wrong. You shop, you pay, you go home, you get money BACK. That's right. Here's just a few to get you started:

Walmart Savings Catcher: scan every Walmart receipt, app searches for lower prices on items purchased there, and refunds the difference. I get on average $30 every 4-6 months! Free money.

Ibotta: Deals updated weekly and monthly, and serves several stores, such as Walmart, Kroger, and Target! Simply select deals, ex: $2 back on Pampers diapers, $0.75 back on any dozen eggs, scan items, upload receipt, and within 24 hours, get your rebate! The app allows money back for friend referrals, too!

Checkout 51: Same concept as Ibotta, updated every Thursday. Usually has the option to select 20% off produce of your choice.

Shopkick: No purchase necessary for this one! Turn on bluetooth, turn on app in store, get points for being there. Get extra points for scanning select items while at store. Occasional purchase points. Points add up to go towards gift card to use a many different stores!

4. Keep pantry go-to's stocked

Keeping items like brown rice, steel cut oats, sweet potatoes, EVOO and canned veggies handy can make for a quick, frugal, and healthy meal. These items take a while to expire, and can be used in many ways to accompany other items. You would be surprised of the meals I can throw together with what looks like a bare kitchen. This saves gas going back and forth to store, money on not using items you already have, and calories from resorting to eating out!

5. Meal planning

There are different levels of this skill. For my body building friends, this is a strict process. This can easily be modified, however, for the general public to help stay on a healthy track, minimizing eating out, and keep money in your pocket!
  • Cook in bulk: meats, grains, and veggies are great foods to practice this with. Take chicken for example- you could buy the pack of 3-4 breasts for $6-8, and have meal for one night, maybe two depending how many you're feeding. If you spend $2-3 more, however, you can get double the amount, and cook them to have for the next 3-4 days*! (*Cooked meats need to be used in this time frame!) Use simple herbs and garlic to make flavorful and versatile options for dinner, salad toppings, and soup- all from the same pack!
  • Remember tips for shopping and list making- create meal ideas that utilize similar ingredients as mentioned in the first bullet
  • Pre-pack meals, especially if planning to take to work. Makes mornings so much easier, and your day stays on track!
I can help you meal plan! Check out my services here:

6. Stay on the perimeter of grocery store and out of the center isles

LIMIT AND REMOVE THE UNNECESSARY. Gatorade, chips, and steak are not essentials. #ATALL #SORRYNOTSORRY

Remember what I said about them being a business? They WANT you to scan the items around each isle so you can buy what you didn't know even existed! Temptation usually lies within these isles. Think about it. What foods aren't refrigerated or fresh? Bread, chips, boxed baking items, ready-made sodium traps, cookies...you get the point. The outside will have your REAL food: produce, fresh meat/seafood, dairy, eggs. Items such as grains like to hide in these isles, and I recommend treating it as a mission when getting them. She looks both ways before entering, eyes scanning cautiously. She spots the Quaker steel cut oats...but then sees that she can get the store brand for a $1 cheaper. Grabbing the tub of the precious grain, already pushing the cart in go-mode, she barely glances up to see Pop Tarts, chocolate chip flavored. However, she is already at the end of the isle, slips into the oncoming traffic, and the escapes the trap with seconds to spare. Now, onto getting the yogurt she forgot. Until next time...


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Friday, May 27, 2016

Babies, teething, and musings

Last night had to be the worst Emma and I have had in a while. Crying beyond consolation, fighting to stay asleep, and just acting miserable. Now, most parents would guess teething. As she has 8 (with 9 & 10 on the horizon), and the whining for a day or so as her norm for cutting teeth, the jury is still out on this one.

I hate to complain, though. We have had it super easy. Emma cosleeps with me (gasp), nursing whenever she needs, which allows me to go right back to sleep and keeps her super happy. Cranky days come and go, but nothing a little cluster feeding, warm bath, and certain go-to's can't usually handle. We ALL have cranky days, though, right?! Anyway, here is my mostly-natural ways I keep my sweet girl, well, sweet;).

1. Breastfeeding 
This one was probably guessed, already. Since she controls the flow, she can nurse whenever she wants, without over-feeding. It's so much more than food. Mother's milk contains ingredients that curb pain! Never let anyone tell a mom she's nursing too much- that little one knows what's up!

2. "Chewbead" necklaces 
Not only do these give a baby something to do, since they're always "piddling", these necklaces are made for gnawing on. They come in dozens of colors and styles, and the latch is a choke-free clasp. BPA-free silicone makes these a safe and washable life-saver! 

3. Baltic Amber
Not a lot of evidence on efficacy on this one, but it's harmless all the same. Natural Baltic Amber contains succinic acid. This is also made in our body in small amounts, and can help take the edge off of pain, though it's frequently confused as a "pain killer." Not quite. The theory is that as we tense from pain, the body heat rises, activating the release from the amber, and thus helping ease it off. It's also really pretty, though, none-the-less. 

4. Lavender Oil
***A word of caution before I talk benefits: Essential oils, though naturally occurring, are still natural chemicals that can be toxic in high doses. Always consult with a certified herbalist (as peds may not have a clue) if you need dosing/usage guidance.*** Lavender oil has a wide range of uses, and when used properly, safe to use on infants/children. ALWAYS dilute with a "carrier oil", such as grapeseed, coconut, carrot, or even olive oil, to moderate the absorption. Lavender helps calm to allow sleep to happen. Just a whiff can bring tranquility back to your little one. Emma smiles when I massage the oil on her legs or temples. Its feels and smells so nice.

What are your tools for a cranky, teething baby? Feel free to comment below!

All the best,

References and sources

** This blog and its contents belong to Ashley Georgakopoulos. Please do not duplicate or copy any work without permission from the author.**