Monday, February 13, 2012

Saving money at the store!

Here are my top three ways to buy organic cheaper.

BUY IN SEASON. If you want the cheapest deal on fruits and veggies, you have to buy the fruits and veggies that are in season. These are always going to be the best bang for your buck. Are grapes in season now? No. That's why you can't find organic ones, and the conventionally grown ones are grown in another country, picked, shipped here, and sold for more money than you'd pay for even organic ones while they are in season. On the other hand, I bought a bag of organic valencia oranges for $2.99 at Meijer today.

FIND COUPONS. It's true that store/paper insert coupons are rarely for organic items. But that doesn't mean you can't find them. Many manufacturers have coupons on their site if you join their newsletters or email clubs (Horizon Organic, Organic Valley, Newman's Own, Stoneyfield.... lots of coupons out there if you do a lot of research online). Or, try some organic coupon blogs and sites that people have out there:

PLAN YOUR MEALS. I'm not kidding when I say I have saved $25-$75 every week in the past month by planning better. Typically, I'll make something Sunday night or Monday morning that my fiance and I can eat Monday and Tuesday nights, and then freeze whatever portions might be left for quick meals later. Casseroles and crock-pot creations are the easiest. Wednesday night I usually have a break from work to make dinner, so I plan ahead for that, too. I try to have something quick like pasta or chicken I can throw in the oven for Thursday. The key is to pick easy things that won't take forever to make; under an hour is best. Before I shop on Monday mornings, I take a good inventory of what we have, what we need, and I don't get distracted by "good deals" and "ooh, that looks good" when I shop. I plan my meals, I stick to my list. Here's a really excellent site for easy, healthy recipes for any meal of the day:

Don't waste your money on fast food and boxed meals.... it really doesn't take too much to make good meals. I'm not even home for dinner most nights and I can manage it. Print coupons, look for seasonal foods, plan ahead. Make tummies happy!

until later...

"Failing to plan is planning to fail." ~ Alan Lakein

Friday, February 3, 2012

My latest love....Date Sugar

In my on-going quest to remove artificial sweeteners from my life, I've recently been experimenting with date sugar. Now, I love dates. I can't buy the little powdered ones, you know, the ones that look like rabbit turds? Not because they look like rabbit turds (which, really, they do), but because I will just eat and eat and eat them. And you can't just go to town on a bag of dates, because a) you'll be pooping for something like two weeks straight, and b) they are full of natural sugars, so they're not a calorie-free food or anything.

But let's bring it back to date sugar. Why date sugar? Well, for one, date sugar is literally dehydrated dates ground up finely. So there's nothing strange in it. It's not overly sweet (which is funny, because dates themselves are quite sweet in my opinion). I've found it works well in oatmeal (I'll post a recipe below), and tried it out in some muffins (they weren't very sweet, but tasted very gingerbread-like, which I enjoyed). Aside from the peace of mind of knowing that I am using a natural, non-chemical sweetener, it's only 20 calories and 4 grams of sugar in two tablespoons. Plus, because it's derived entirely from dates, you get some of the fiber, vitamins and minerals that you would get from eating dates. A sweetener that contributes to the society of your health? I think I kind of like that idea.

Here's a quick article about agave, honey, and date sugar that I liked for its conciseness. When going for a "natural sweetener", it's easy to think that by pouring agave all over your oatmeal you're doing yourself a favor. (Or even date sugar, for that matter.) Two of the biggest things I took from the article were: cut back on the amounts of sweeteners you use in general, because "there's nothing wrong with getting used to having less of a sweet tooth", and "enjoy fruits to satisfy your sweet cravings"! I admit that I eat a ton of fruit... I often use mashed bananas or even baby food to sweeten things! Just look for fruits that are in season, as they will be cheaper, or buy them frozen. Otherwise, you are compromising on nutrients buying strawberries in February; they had to travel a loooooong way to get to Michigan, and lost vitamins every step of the journey, I promise you that.

Here's the article:

And here's my oatmeal today!


1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 apple, diced
about 1/2 Tbs cinnamon (I just use it to taste?)
2 Tbs date sugar
1 Tbs peanut butter

* Make the oatmeal according to directions. (I like the Meijer Organics rolled quick oats... they aren't mushy like some quick oats, but I do not have time for a 40 minute steel cut oatmeal. I just don't.)

* While water is boiling or oatmeal is cooking, chop up the apple and microwave it with some cinnamon. I find 30 seconds, a stir, and another 30 seconds is good.

*When the oatmeal appears to be about done, add the peanut butter, apples, date sugar, and some more cinnamon. Stir until everything looks smooth!

until later...

"Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice." ~ Wayne Dyer

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Effective "green" cleaning products!

Curious about switching to greener cleaning products (personally, I feel better when I'm not spreading massive amounts of chemicals around my house), but not ready to scour the place with vinegar and lemon? Here's a list of some popular ones to start with. The list breaks down things like scent and effectiveness very quickly, with prices per ounce (or load, in the case of laundry). Of course, one product not on the list are the Meijer "green" products, which are probably cheapest of all. (I divide between that and Seventh Generation most of the time.)