Catching Up and Healthy Food in Unexpected Places

I have too many irons in the fire. Being unemployed isn’t all bad; after all, I can explore the many possibilities of what lies ahead without the interruption of going to a job every day. However, it’s difficult to not stress over the constant stream of rejection letters and emails I receive from my job search.

If you will allow me to digress on the subject for a moment, I’ll tell you some of the exciting changes going on. Otherwise, scroll down :).

Projects

I’m working on setting up an Etsy shop to initially sell baby hats for photography props and everyday wear but could expand if that catches on and grows, so I have been crocheting my little fingers to the bone. The shop has been “opened” but I only have a few items right now. In the next few weeks, I’ll be working to add more items, create better descriptions, spruce up the storefront, and work on the policy legalese.

The last two weeks of March I’ll be spending a couple of weeks in Tennessee with my stepdaughter and three of the most gorgeous and sweetest grandchildren in the entire universe. We’ll be collaborating on sewing projects for her Etsy shop to take her business to the next level. She’s so talented and has built a successful business.

May not sound like much, but here’s the rest of the lineup of my schedule: I’m also helping a good friend with after school care for her boys, occasionally dog-sitting and puppy-training, making cup cozies to support New Day Ministry in Nicaragua, and building Communication and Information from scratch for my church. I love it all and it keeps me hopping all day long, but none of it pays the bills.

So enough about me. Here are the deals that I see in Kroger’s flyer for the week:

Cabbage $.33/lb.

Simple Truth organic milk $2.99/half gal.

Simple Truth almond milk or coconut milk 2/$5

Organic black grapes $2.99/lb.

Organic grape tomatoes 2/$5

Land O’ Lakes Butter 2/$5

Mahi-Mahi $5.99/lb. (wild caught)

Clementines $3.99/3 lb. bag (not organic, but would be a great after-school or mid-morning snack occasionally instead of something highly processed).

If you buy 4 Cascadian Farm organic cereal boxes, you can get 1/2 gal. of organic milk free! I love Cascadian Farm Berry Cobbler Granola cereal. I use it as a snack more than a cereal, but it’s delicious.

Food Lion specials that are good through tomorrow:

My Essentials sour cream $.87/8 oz.

Lemons 2/$1

Kiwi 2/$.88

Clementines $3.99/3 lbs.

Cucumbers $.69 (peel first!)

Alaskan Cod fillets $5.99/lb.

Tilapia $2.99/lb. (great price, but make sure it’s US or Central/South American and not from China/Taiwan)

Here is an interesting and informative blog about choosing supermarket fish.

Target Grocery Find

I made an exciting discovery Saturday at Target: grass-fed ground beef. It was originally $6.99/lb. but it had a $2 off coupon attached. They also had Earthbound Organic spinach for $3.99 for one of the smaller tub containers, which is less than Kroger from my recent memory. I didn’t go all through the entire grocery area due to lack of time, but when I get the chance to check it out, I will report my findings.

Don’t forget to check out the Community Market on Wednesday and Saturday for local, fresh produce that’s available. They should be coming out with early spring produce now, but don’t forget those farmers who have wholesome meat and cheese options inside.

Also remember to check out Health Nut Nutrition in Wyndhurst for healthy deals (their Facebook Page is quite informative and active) and the Bedford Avenue Meat Shop for quality meat.

Has anyone found other great deals on whole, organic, healthy foods in unexpected places?

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Catching up on Life: Kroger Whole Food Deals Feb 17

Hello readers! I know, I’m very negligent in my duties. I have good excuses, but regardless I am doing my best to catch up.

For those who say prayers, include in your prayers families who are torn apart by depression and mental illness for healing, understanding, and grace. That’s all I am going to say about that.

I was reminded this past week to alert you to seek out an Ollie’s Warehouse near you. They basically by bulk items from retailers who have overstock or stock that isn’t moving fast enough, closeout, and store closings. I often will come across some great food items that are good. This week I got some organic pickles and they seem to stock this brand often. They are delicious.

They also stock tons of spices that are a fraction of the cost of what you buy in the store. I got a big shaker container of cayenne pepper for $1.99 (I think…it was cheap anyway). Last one I got from the store it was a fraction of the size and I think I paid nearly $5 for it.

If you go ahead and sign up for an Ollie’s customer card (used like your usual store key fob), you will get special coupons in your email. This week I was able to get an additional 15% off my order by showing them the email on my phone (and using the unique code on it).

This week at Kroger there are a few good whole food items that are good to boost your family’s healthy eating choices.

Mangoes, avocados, and seedless English cucumbers are 10/$10

Yellow squash and zucchini are $1.49/lb. (not on the dirty dozen list, but not on the clean 15 list, either. However, this whole food vegetable option is far better than a box of freeze-dried “scalloped” potatoes, no?)

Organic Micro-Baker russet potato 2/$3 (it’s an individually wrapped potato that you can microwave. However, Kroger’s bag of organic potatoes might be a less expensive option.)

Organic Fuji apples $1.49/lb.

Do any of you have any fast dinner ideas that uses plenty of whole, clean food options in an inexpensive way for a family meal?

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Kroger Healthy Deals for Feb 2 and blog ideas

When I was in the thinking stages for this blog (which took up way too much brain power and time), I envisioned gathering all the good food deals and creating a week of meal planning ideas.

I also envisioned cooking and creating yummy, delicious, and easy recipes with gorgeous food-blog worthy pictures to go with them.

I can snap a picture with my phone and upload it, but that’s all you get at this stage. Sorry guys.

Nevertheless, I intend  to keep the momentum that I started and make progress. One of the ways I’d like to do that is to come up with a few meal ideas and include recipes that will use the items on sale and help you make easy dinners and avoid the drive-thru at least one extra time each week.

And I would really super love it if you would chime in with some ideas of your own and/or share what has worked for you now or in the past. Please.

Here’s the Kroger healthier deals this week:

Kroger frozen vegetables 10/$10

Kroger butter $2.49 (organic is best, but if you are still using plastic, i.e. margarine, please, please switch to butter!)

Horizon organic milk $5.99 gal.

Plum Organics baby food 8/$10

Kroger cottage cheese and sour cream 2/$4 (organic from grass-fed cows is best, but still a good option for a natural food choice or condiment.)

Organic Gala or Fuji apples $1.59/lb.

Organic navel oranges 10/$10

Pork loin $1.99/lb. (local organically raised pork is best, but if you have a choice between a Big Mac or this pork loin, definitely go for the pork loin. It’s easy to fix and really delish.)

Private Selection turkey $.88/lb. Great to cook and then debone/shred to freeze in 1 lb. blocks for fast and easy casseroles and salads when money is tight or you need extra for taking dinner to a new mom or sick friend. I don’t know if this turkey is antibiotic/hormone free, so use at your discretion.

Laura’s lean ground beef $4.99/lb. (hormone free, sustainably farmed)

Kroger carries organic potatoes and you can get a small bag for about the same as you would pay for the ones that contain more pesticide than you’d care to eat. If you like potatoes, keep an eye out for these to go on sale. Potatoes aren’t the healthiest of foods; but let’s face it.. sometimes you just need some good ol’ home fries.

Ken’s salad dressing is 50% off this week, too. Great price if you need something to go with your organic salad greens *wink*. The problem with most dressing is they are typically made with canola (most of the US canola is from GM seed) and has high fructose corn syrup. I went through the whole aisle of dressing in Food Lion last week looking for a bleu cheese dressing that would be sorta-kinda okay to go with the buffalo chicken dip my husband wanted. Many had HFCS as the first ingredient! Really?! I walked out with none because it just made me angry.

I keep telling my husband I am going to start making dressing. I mean, the Food Channel cooks make it look easy, why can’t I? Wisk the vinegar and herbs with olive oil and voila! Right? Someday.

If you go to Coupon Mom or The Frugal Find, they will already have all the specials and match them up with the coupons you have been collecting over the last few weeks so you can find some amazing bargains with your basic groceries (You have been clipping coupons, right?).

The trick to making the most of coupon matchups is to only select the items that you will actually use and avoid buying 18 packages of Irish Spring and 25 boxes of Trix. While there is wisdom in emergency preparedness, don’t spend every last penny you have for your family’s grocery budget on stockpiling only to discover you have nothing to eat for the week except Trix.

Last week I went through Coupon Mom and sorted the Kroger and Food Lion matchups by % savings. This showed me the best deals at the top. Out of that list, I sought items that I could use this week for cooking, snacks, and meals. I also checked to see what I already had on hand. I then created a workable list that saved me maximum amount of money and gave me something to work with for a week’s worth of lunches and dinners. I already had a decent amount of items on hand for breakfast.

It was long, hard work, but I am really happy with the results. I got $149.72 worth of groceries for $86.65 for a savings of 42%. Not everything I got was on sale, but the items I got for super cheap allowed me a little leeway in getting those items that weren’t on sale and I still managed to cut my grocery costs nearly in half. My biggest splurge was a big bag of organic frozen fruit that I could mix with my Wellness Resources Protein Plus powder I intend to start using for my breakfast and lunch.

Before I left for the store, I put all items on my list in categories on a Word document: Fruit, veggies, meat, sides, snacks, ingredients, condiments, and other. It gave me a better visual to ensure that I was getting a good mix of items that worked together for meals. How often do you shop specials and coupons and come home to realize you have nothing to eat? I’ve done that more than I’d like to admit.

What meal ideas do you have based on this week’s specials?

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Salt is Good for You

Well, if that didn’t get your attention, nothing will. After all, haven’t we all heard the evils of using the table salt? And how about all the “low sodium” products available?

Table salt, a.k.a. Sodium Chloride, is terrible for you. The round container with the girl and the umbrella should have a skull and crossbones on it. But that is only half the story.

Real salt, naturally occurring salt, that hasn’t been bleached, chemically processed, MSG added, and otherwise ruined has many benefits and trace minerals your body needs and even craves.

Here is my story about how I discovered the difference real salt can make.

One Saturday morning I was perusing the goods and wares at the Lynchburg Community Market and walked by a table that had odd-shaped pink blocks of all sizes. I was looking at the jams and jellies at the adjacent table and could hear the owner of the pink rocks talking to an interested customer. I heard enough that I was very intrigued and waited my turn to find out more.

Turns out the pink rocks were Himalayan salt mined from the interior of the Himalayan mountains where the salt had been carefully preserved and sheltered from the usual contaminants and pollutants for centuries. I desperately wish I could find this lady’s business card to see if she still has a website because it was very informative, but it’s MIA.

However, a casual search about the benefits of Himalayan salt on Google will net you thousands of options, so go for it.

Where table salt causes fluid retention, real salt will assist your body in proper hydration and actually allow tissue to shed unnecessary fluid. The studies that show salt is bad for the heart only measures the reactions of table salt in the body. The real issues that seem to be emerging in other studies show that calcium and magnesium deficiencies are the real culprit for hypertension. High-quality supplements are important, but the more you get from whole foods with higher content of calcium and magnesium the better.

Himalayan salt contains 84 trace minerals, macrominerals, and elements your body needs for proper balanced functioning. It actually helps regulate blood pressure, cell and nerve function, and many other benefits.

Wellness Mama has a great article on all the details of the benefits of dumping your table salt and replacing it with a good-quality Himalayan salt. She also details ways to use it for maximum health benefits.

So I initially bought a small bag of finely ground Himalayan salt from the nice lady at the market and brought it home. I was very excited about what I had learned and attempted to share it with my family. I got a lot of ribbing about how I would probably buy swamp land from a convincing person.

After learning how the salt was formed in the mountains from the Great Flood in the Old Testament, I finally in desperation to make a point said, “It’s God Salt! How can it be bad for you?”

That is how our Himalayan salt got the term “God Salt”.

I got the last laugh when the benefits of completely replacing all salt in the house with the Himalayan salt became very apparent in just a couple of days and most noticeably in a few weeks.

Apparently we had quite a bit of excess fluid from using regular salt because the first few days it felt like we had taken big doses of diuretics. Not especially pleasant when there is only one bathroom in the house.

It was even more telling when we would eat something that was high in regular table salt. We could feel the difference and even taste the difference.

I never looked back. I still have some plain table salt in my cabinet, but the only thing I will use it for is to sprinkle on the steps on an icy morning.

Try the difference for yourself. Mountain Rose Herbs has quality Himalayan salt and I’ve purchased it from Amazon before. I even found it in Ross recently complete with a grinder. However, if you prefer to use a salt grinder and you want to switch to Himalayan salt, you will want a grinder with ceramic mechanisms for longevity.

One additional note: Various kinds of sea salt have more beneficial properties than table salt. However, you run the risk of adding other impurities from polluted waters. If you cannot get Himalayan salt right now, definitely switch to a quality sea salt in the meantime. At least you will be using a better salt.

So go ahead and buy low-sodium products; you’ll have more opportunity to eliminate the table salt and add your own nourishing and delicious Himalayan salt.

‘Til next time, stay healthy!

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Food Lion Week of Jan 30 and Forest store closing!

Since I’m tired of opening rejection emails from potential employers, I decided to post almost on time about this week’s healthier food sales at Food Lion.

Forest Food Lion wasted no time in closing. Their “50% off everything in the store” started today; the parking lot was slam full both times I drove by at 2:30 PM and again at about 6:00 PM. I really wanted to go in today, but there just wasn’t enough time.

I’ll go tomorrow, but I don’t hold any hope that anything good will be left. I’ll be super excited if I can get a bag of cat and/or dog food at half price, though. Fingers crossed.

Here are the healthier specials I found:

Navel oranges 4 lbs/$2.99 (great price; Kroger’s is $3.99!)

Avocados 2/$1

Garlic 2/$1

Cabbage $.43/lb.

Seedless cucumbers $1.29 each (not organic so it’s best to peel before eating)

That’s it for the healthiest choices. However, I went through my coupons today to share with my friend “Peeps” and noticed that there are many things on sale this week that match many of my coupons I’ve saved the past few weeks. Check it out and save lots! (BTW Peeps, Mio is on sale at Food Lion for $3.99 and I have a $1.00 coupon in my car for you!)

I realized when I was saving items in my “shopping list” online that I didn’t have a profile saved on the Food Lion website. I went through the process to create a new account and sync my MVP card. It was pretty cool because it gave me the option to sign up for coupons and sales notifications. But my favorite feature was when I finished my shopping list, one click sent it to my email. Awesome feature for people with smartphones.

No matter where you live, take advantage of special mailings and email offers from your local grocer. When you are doing everything you can to shave money off your food budget, these extras could really make a difference.

Till next time, stay healthy!

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Kroger and Food Lion healthy food choices 1-27

It’s been a crazy busy weekend, so I fell behind on posting. This will give you the new week for Kroger deals and this past Wednesday’s Food Lion deals that are good through tomorrow.

I hope you got the Sunday paper. It was chock full of coupons. Gotta save that cash when you can. I have to thank my dear friend Patty for saving me her paper because I had such a busy day I didn’t think of getting the paper until after 8 PM. Ever try to find a Sunday paper that late in the day? Impossible.

I hate (with a blinding passion) clipping coupons. But if you take a few minutes with Coupon Mom and her tutorials, she shows you a way to organize the flyers without clipping (until you need one).

If you can save $20-$30 off your general food bill, you will have more leeway in grocery spending on organic and whole produce and higher-quality meat.

This week, Kroger has the following good prices on better quality food.

Avocados 2/$1

Various cheeses 6-8 oz. 2/$4

Philly Cream Cheese $.99 when you buy 10 participating items (my husband will totally get 10 cream cheese blocks; he’s obsessed!)

Organic Red or Golden Delicious apples 2 lbs./$3

Organic navel oranges $3.99/4 lb. bag

Traditional Medicinals tea $3.49

Simple Truth Greek yogurt $1 (I have not looked at these yet, so check ingredients and use your own discretion for sugar content and fructose.)

Food Lion specials that are good through tomorrow, Tuesday, January 39:

Organic milk $3.29 1/2 gal.

Red grapefruit 5 lbs./$3.99

Mangoes $.81 each

Melons 2/$5

Fresh Basil $1.89

Garlic 2/$1

Cucumbers $.67 each (they are not organic so be sure to peel them before eating to reduce exposure to pesticides.)

Both stores had a few good prices on meat. I will probably go for the Kroger ground chuck at $1.99/lb. and a pork tenderloin roast for $2.99/lb. I am not sure if Kroger uses additives for their ground chuck, but I’ve not run across any gross gristle.

I can’t believe I haven’t told you about this yet. I guess because I haven’t been the one to buy it lately so it hasn’t come to mind. Food Lion carries an awesome whole bean coffee that isn’t expensive and it’s organic! First Colony Discoveries Organic Rainforest Blend coffee beans is 24 oz. and runs about $13.49 I believe. I’m a self-professed coffee snob and if it passes my palate, it’s good! They usually store it on the top shelf on the end of the coffee section and it is in a clear, thick plastic resealable bag. If you use whole bean coffee, try it and tell me your opinion.

If you haven’t already, like Health Nut on Facebook and add them to your newsfeed. You’ll find many great deals for whole and organic nutrition from the little store in Wyndhurst. I realized last week that the reason I didn’t know about their sales and deals was because I didn’t have “get notifications” checked on preferences. Facebook regularly messes with the system so you have to keep up with the changes.

This week, my intention is to discuss salt and it’s benefits and drawbacks. I’d also like to create an easy recipe and meal that you can feed your family that totally beats a McD’s drive thru meal for about the same amount of money!

Although, I’ve already admitted how my good intentions have a habit of turning out…

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Upcycle and Fundraising Project (off topic)

My closest and oldest friends (not by age but by how long they’ve known me…sometimes being one and the same!) will tell you: “Rachel has great ideas and good intentions.”

However, they will not say, “Rachel’s ideas always come to the most fabulous conclusions.”

My cup cozy idea is one of a million of these great ideas. Cup cozies: As in the replacement for those cardboard sleeves that you get with coffee to go.

At first, I jokingly called it my “million dollah business” idea.

Then it turned into an idea with which to raise money for New Day Ministry.

Glen and Jana Kauffman spent many years on short-term mission trips to Nicaragua and fell in love with the local people. House of Hope focused on helping women learn new skills to better support their families.

Glen and Jana identified gaps in their care that needed addressing such as helping their children obtain the necessary requirements for attending school.

In order for the children to be allowed into the schools, they must have a school uniform. Many of these families cannot afford the uniforms and so the children do not go to school.

For $25 a month, one child can have a uniform, a year’s worth of school supplies,   one daily meal, and a backpack.

I’d love to sponsor a hundred children. However, being unemployed stifles this urge.

I don’t have money, but I have some time and ingenuity…and great ideas.

So we cycle back to the great-ideas-and-good-intentions part of my life.

Part of my original cup cozy idea was to use discarded or repurposed fabric rather than buying new fabric. For example, a ripped pair of corduroy pants and a stained T-shirt with nice colors can be cut up and made into cup cozies.

By using upcycled materials, not only would the purchasers keep more stuff out of the landfill, more trees could be saved by declining the cardboard sleeves from hot drinks. And finally, by purchasing or donating to the cause, these cup cozies can help feed and clothe needy children in Nicaragua. It’s a win/win/win!

I started accumulating stuff for this. A baby jacket missing buttons, a flat sheet that no longer had a matching fitted sheet, a $.50 valance from Goodwill, flannel pajama pants with a cute winter pattern suddenly started piling up in a corner of my bedroom.

I finally got the pieces cut by using a Fiskar rotor blade and a cardboard sleeve as a guide (adding seam allowance) and transferring it to a piece of plastic that was intended for some other type of craft project.

In true Rachel fashion, the pile of cut fabric sat in a pile on the kitchen table for another millenium.

I am thrilled to say (and my oldest/closest friends would be shocked to hear) that I have about 80 of these babies finally cut, sewn, and pressed ready to go.

Here are some photos of the project.

It started as a size 2T adorable fine corduroy jacket with a matched lining already attached.

It started as a size 2T adorable fine corduroy jacket with a matched lining already attached.

I managed to get seven cup cozies out of this one little jacket.

I managed to get seven cup cozies out of this one little jacket.

This was formerly a crib dust ruffle.

This was formerly a crib dust ruffle.

This used to be winter pajamas.

This used to be winter pajamas.

This was a t-shirt...

This was a t-shirt…

...and this was the valance I found for $.50 at Goodwill.

…and this was made from the valance fabric I found for $.50 at Goodwill.

They are by no means perfect and professionally made. I can sew, but I’m no seamstress. I was taught by the best; my grandmother could sew anything perfectly and beautifully, but I didn’t have enough lessons to become as good.

So, that is what I have been working on the past few weeks.

Do you have any favorite charities that you find ways to support by other means than cash donations?

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