I sometime wonder if as humans we are meant to continually, break, fall apart, and rise back up, having grown in ways we dot always understand.
Be true to yourself dearies… honor what your body needs, really listen, and then ask for whatever help you need.
Doing this isn’t weakness. It isn’t cowardice. On the contrary, it’s the strongest statement of love + bravery you can make.
This is me just popping in to say…I’m alive. I’m surviving finals week but it has taken over my life.
So I’ll be working a little Kait-time-magic for next week and figuring everything out on my ten days of freedom. Until next term starts.
PS Send your love/hugs/positive vibes towards Bmore as I go into my scariest final yet (epi). Whose butt I will be kicking… xo
***UPDATED*** Here is a copy of the Mid-Atlantic WF Coupon policy. I suggest printing it and having it with you when you shop. Check the comments for the North Atlantic link.
If you are like me, you’ve undoubtedly heard this quip about Whole Foods. In fact, now that I’m in grad school, I’m hearing it more and more. Fact of the matter is, most of us are in a similar position: we’ve got tens of thousands of dollars in loans (or more), we’re living off of savings or loans, and we have no or minimal steady income coming in. Yet being Public Health students, we want to live a healthy life. For many of us, that means supplementing our Farmer’s Market trips with a stop at Whole Foods, the major option for organic products in downtown Baltimore (the two Trader’s are out in the county and otherwise its Safeway).
Lucky for my classmates, and all of you, I happen to be a budget-and-couponing loving shopper who truly believes that shopping at Whole Foods can be affordable with a little work + awareness + know-how. I’ve figured out how to “work the system” to my advantage as much as possible and therefore save myself money while sticking as much as possible to my food values.
So here you are….my quick guide to making Whole Foods affordable.
Where to Find Coupons
- Whole Foods. Whole Foods has this great booklet that gets released bimonthly called The Whole Deal. You can pick them up in store (usually right near the entrance with the weekly sales flyers) or print just the coupons you want right at home. Each coupon is is good for three months. For example, the coupons in the the May/June Whole Deal don’t expire until the end of July.
- Online. My favorite sites for all natural coupons themselves are Mambo Sprouts, Common Kindness and RecycleBank. The latter two require accounts and are free to join. RecycleBank is a website that allows you to complete tasks for points and then buy coupons with these points. I was able to get Earth Friendly dish soap for $0.99 at Wegmans a while back thanks to this site. I usually visit it a couple times a month and do a ton of activities in bulk. Right now I’m also loving Earthbound Farms’ Organic Step Forward Program. Again, it’s free to join.
- Online Part II. Lots of “regular” coupon sites (Coupons.com, RedPlum, etc) also have all natural coupons. To save you time + money, there are couponing blogs that do the legwork of finding out where such coupons are for you. My favorites are Healthy Life Deals, Organic Deals, The Thrifty Mama, and The Greenbacks Gal. Hip-2-Save also has an epic coupon database where you can look forcoupons for a specific product.
- The Weekly Newspaper. Try to find a neighbor who gets the weekend newspaper and doesn’t use the coupons. In Baltimore, the coupons come Saturday for subscribers and Sunday for those who just buy it at the store. There won’t be a ton in here but hey, every dollar counts.
- VegFests, your local co-op, mom & pop natural stores. This is where I get the bulk of my really good coupons. If it is for a product I use a lot of, or can be convinced to use a lot of, I will grab a small stack. It is important, however, to always ask before just grabbing away.
- The manufacturer’s themselves. Goya lets your print coupons from their website once/month. Attune sends out a monthly newsletter that almost always includes them. Food for Life will mail them to you once every couple of months or so. E-mail the company, and check out their website and facebook page. I was impressed at what I found.
How to Use Coupons
- Stacking. Stacking coupons means that you use more than one coupon for the same item. This is usually done by using a store coupon (e.g. one from the Whole Deal) with a manufacturer’s coupon (like one you get out of the Sunday paper).
- Combing coupons + sales. I love doubling up on coupons and sales. A couple weeks ago, for example, Whole Foods had Earthbound Farms Power Greens on sale for $3.99 (save $1). Between that and my coupon, I saved a total of $1.75.
- Using both of the above. This is the best deal you can get! Not only is something on sale but you also have a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon for it, saving you the most amount of money possible.
Here’s an example to put it all together.
Nature’s Path Granola Bars: 2/$6.00 (reg. $4.69 ea) <–item on sale
-2 $2.00 Nature’s Path coupon <–manufacturer’s coupon
-$1.50/2 Whole Deal coupon <–store coupon
=$0.50 or $0.25/box <–awesome deal
Other Ways to Save
- BYOB. WF gives you $0.05 for each bag you bring to the store. This includes reusable produce bags. <–$ saver + good for the environment = big win
- Buy in bulk. If you buy a case of any item, you get a 10% discount. Products usually come in cases of 6 or 12 and you can find the exact number either by asking or looking in the lower left-hand corner of the price tag. You can use coupons with cases but you will not get the discount if you get a case of something that is already on sale. This may vary by store.
- How much time do you spend doing all this each week? I know it seems like a lot! And at first it might feel that way too. But eventually it becomes second nature. I spend between 1 and 2 hours on finding + printing coupons, meal planning, and organizing my grocery list. I tend to get lost in grocery stores and spend 4-5 hours shopping BUT when I’m not meandering the aisle I can do it in about 30 minutes. I organize my list + my coupons by the rows of the store.
- What the heck do I do with those $x.00/2 items coupons? Wait for the product to go on sale 2/$x,00 (like I did with the granola bars above). Or use them with another coupon. Or do both.
- How do I know what’s on sale? Whole Foods’ sales run Wednesday to Tuesday and the flyer can be found from their homepage. There likely are more sales int he store than listed and this is where those coupon blogs come in handy again. Each does a weekly match-up.Baltimore folks: I have yet to find a good match-up for our stores. I will update this when I do! For now, I suggest using Healthy Life Deals’ Cheat Sheet.
- Are there any couponing “rules” I should know about? Here’s a crash course in Couponing etiquette. Be nice, be respectful, be honest, be fair.Do tell your cashier ahead of time that you will be using a lot of coupons andlet anyone who comes in line behind you know that it might take a while.
Do not snap at the cashier if s/he isn’t sure what to do, steal all of the sticky coupons off the x container (sometimes manufacturer’s will put coupons right onto their products), try to use one coupon for another product, etc. The grocery industry can easily pull these awesome savings out from under us at any time. Don’t contribute to a negative couponing culture.
- So I’m going to start saving $100s with this, right? Like on Extreme Couponing? Um, not so much. Consider this the part where I talk about managing expectations. Some weeks I save more than I spend. I try to do it every week but it still doesn’t happen. Have I saved several $100s since I started couponing in the spring? Undoubtedly. But some weeks I save less than $10. My thoughts are: if I want to buy x product and there’s a coupon available, why not use it? I would have bought it regardless so all I’m doing is keeping extra $$$ in my pocket. Understand that extreme couponing takes time…to learn and to dedicate to it. For now, the basics will still help you out…poor grad student or not.
- Ok but sometimes the sales price isn’t the best deal for that item. What gives? So true! This is where unit prices come in. I try to think of everything in terms of pounds, gallons, rolls, etc. The 10oz package of quinoa that costs $3.99 is actually more expensive per pound than the 1lb bag that costs $4.99. I like to pay less than $6.00/gal non-dairy milk, $0.25/roll of toilet paper or paper towels, etc. You can calculate the unit price yourself or just look in the upper left-hand corner of the price tag.
There you go! I hope this guide was super helpful. I want to send a shoutout to Kristin for teaching me all she knows and opening my world to natural food couponing. Thanks girl!
Questions? Leave ‘em below and I’ll do my best.
One year ago today I had a bit of a breakdown.
Then I drove to the place where my journey to wholeness would begin. I didn’t know it at the time…all I knew is that I needed to be at the Kripalu Center this weekend because my life would change.
I didn’t know what the meant but I am so happy I listened to my heart and jumped into the unknown.
I had nothing short of a life changing weekend. I grew in unimaginable ways and started a practice of mindfulness. I began living my life differently…viewing my life differently.
In between then and now I went through some of the darkest times I ever experienced. I felt the deepest sort of pain, the type that leaves you breathless and broken…the kind from which you only can arise as a better, stronger, clearer person. I burned down and I rose again.
I found my path and discovered my calling. I went deep and then deeper still. I completed a 21 day cleanse. I travelled. I loved and I lived.
Then I began to see the light at the end of the closed dark space. And slowly but surely I emerged, just in time for Hillary’s YSU program. I was terrified…the commitment was large, the expense greater than I had imagined. But Hillary’s question to me: “What are you losing by not enrolling?” stuck in my mind. And I signed up, taking the next most important step I ever could have taken.
My Hopkins acceptance letter arrived shortly thereafter…at the same time Hillary decided to redesign the program in a way that happened to be perfect for my situation. If “It was meant to be” describes any situation, its this one!
Last week I had my last session with Hillary. It was super bittersweet and we ran almost an hour over but during that time we not only calmed my tightness over the move we also did a little reminiscing. We gave thanks for how far I’ve come. And honestly, until that moment I hadn’t looked back to truly see the change that had taken place in me + my life. I had transformed, wholly and completely. My thoughts, my actions, my patterns of behavior…all were new and different and more empowered. I was a stronger, clearer person than 3 months prior.
And it all started because I took a chance. I tossed aside the proverbial sails and I said YES to me…to self care…to my best life possible. It was the best decision I ever could have made.
So the past few days have been insanely crazy.
My grandmother went back to the hospital.
I spent countless hours re-routing our trip to avoid parkways that prohibit trucks (like the UHaul we’re taking).
My stress is settling into my joints and I ache all over from sitting at the computer and working.
So I’m calling it quits…for a couple of days at least. Anything that isn’t 100% necessary and non-negotiable just isn’t happening.
Calls are being rescheduled. Plans are being changed. Blog posts aren’t being written.
This transition will be different than the last which means the challenges I’ve already faced in preparation for it and the ones I will be facing are also different. They are all the same beast (chaos + fear) manifesting in different ways.
This time though, I know I can take them.
So bear with me folks…the next time I check in I’ll be settled in my gorgeous new place in the burbs of Baltimore, learning a new rhythm and stumbling as I go.
In the meantime, I’ll be packing + planning + saying a few final farewells. There will be tears and laughter, anger and relief, sadness and hope.
Despite it all, I know this next step is the right one. Just like I knew working with Hillary would be…and doing B School. My gut tells me so and I’m learning to listen.
Right now, its telling me to stop writing.
So without further ado…I bid you farewell. Just for a little bit.
I’ve found that people either love surprises or they hate them.
I tend to fall in the former category. I loved coming home yesterday to see that Mom has framed my Zumba certificate. On Sunday I loved finding out that there was a Chipotle near my friend’s house…and that the beau had found my sleep mask which I had left at his parent’s house…and that my almost MIL had saved her coupon inserts for me.
But perhaps the best surprise of all was pulling into Whole Foods yesterday afternoon and seeing a Farmer’s Market set up in its parking lot! I literally squealed with delight and started dancing (while still driving). I went to snap photos…then remember my phone had died.
Since this is the big week, I didn’t have to pick much up…just some lettuce and beets and berries and hummus and crackers and milk. And yes, I still had to go into WF to purchase some of those things. But, you see, the food itself wasn’t what I was so excited about: it was the whole experience.
In my opinion, there is nothing better than talking with other people who know and love food…who respect what they are selling and hope that you will enjoy and love it as much as they do. I love being able to have an intelligent conversation about someone’s precise farming method to see if its just organic or also pesticide-free. And I so appreciate that I can ask how to prepare something and receive a fiercely passionate answer about the best way to cook [insert veggie here].
Yesterday was sunny and 75 with barely a cloud in the sky. It was, in short, simply the perfect day for the perfect foodie surprise.
I hope you had beautiful weekends full of fun, laughter, and love. Its late Sunday as I write this and despite some low moments this weekend, I’m perfectly contented and joyous. What caused the turn around you might ask? The most perfect day I’ve had in a while.
Now it wasn’t perfect because it was all good and happy. The beau and I bickered. He made fun of me. I responded immaturely. We disagreed over which path to take. I yelled. He huffed and puffed. And then we laughed it off and went to Whole Foods. So goes the best relationships, right? So my Sunday might not have been perfect in the sense that most people think of…but I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
11 am wake up.
2 hours of productivity.
Beasting up Horsebarn Hill (the one in the background of the first cow photo)
First web order.
Delish dinner courtesy of the beau.
This post also is my 100th here on y/b/l and I am so excited that you all have been along for the ride! I hope your weeks started off just as wonderfully and continue to be productive and full of wonderful, if imperfect, moments. Today I have a long list of to-do’s to complete. After May’s wandering and general laziness, June is all about getting back in and on-focus and kicking my biz and life into gear. I’ll keep you in the loop as I go!
Let’s get the truth out of the way first: I’m writing this post as a form of procrastination. I might tell myself its because I don’t want you my lovely readers to feel unloved, and that statement certainly is true of its own accord, but fact of the matter is: I’m procrastinating.
I haven’t talked a ton here on my blog about my coaching program but one of the biggest things it has given me is the gift of awareness. I started on my journey towards the examined life just under a year ago and Your Soul’s U was the perfect next step. It has been my anchor during my time of transition, the inspiration I needed to take the next steps, and so much more. I have begun to see how my patterns of behavior either serve or do not serve my goals and taken the initial steps to refresh any detrimental behaviors.
It hasn’t always gone smoothly. And since we already know I’m currently procrastinating, you can tell that every moment presents a new chance for me to decide whether I”m going to do the work or avoid it. Some days I get up, right on schedule, and “force” myself to get it done, starting off the day with a feeling of accomplishment. Some days I”ll get up with the best intentions and well…we all know where those can lead. While I love not having a schedule, I also recognize that it is not what’s best for me in terms of productivity. For just over two more weeks, there truly is always tomorrow. My time is 100% mine to do with as I please.
So why the heck don’t I always do the things that I need? The things that will bring my biz to the forefront of the sex ed and coaching world…that will keep my body and mind and soul in tip top condition? That will keep my relationships strong and humming with love and joy?
Well that will be a little thing called Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, shit will take as long as you give it. Do you need that paper done by week’s end? Well it will be. How about by tomorrow? Same goes. Do you need five hours to finish that report or do you need twenty minutes? Currently, my timeline runs until June 14. aha!
That being said, I have done more in the past six weeks for my biz than ever before. I’ve attended meetings, entered half of my customer data, launched my official website, etc. And every time I finally sit down to complete a task, I realize it isn’t nearly as difficult or cumbersome or time consuming or scary as my ego made me believe. In fact, given my general laziness over the past few weeks, it feels positively inspiring to get my shit done.
But starting is always a battle…and that is where I plan on putting my focus now…once I finish writing this post, that is.
I hope you had a beautiful Memorial Day weekend. It was sunny and warm in CT and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
This happened to be a very exciting weekend for me as I
finally became a licensed Zumba instructor. I don’t talk much about fitness here on the blog but since I discovered Zumba three years ago, I’ve been obsessed. I always loved to dance and the fusion of fitness + dancing spoke to my soul. I can easily lose myself in a Zumba class, forgetting time and space <–which, admittedly, can lead to awkward moments and not realize an hour has gone by. A few years back I had considered becoming licensed…but decided to start Passion by Kait instead. The start-up costs are approximately the same and, well, I haven’t looked back since.
I decided the time was finally right, however, for a number of reasons. One of them is $, both making and using it. By teaching, I am able to workout…and get paid for it. <–a grad student’s
wet dream It will also ensure that I work out at least a couple times of week. I can’t skip out at the last minute because I’m tired or just don’t feel like it (come on, you’ve been there too). I have a feeling the stress relief will be extremely necessary too! Finally, I wanted to run class the way I wanted. I had the point where no one else’s class was really, truly cutting it anymore. They were still fun but I found myself thinking, “I would have done that move instead” or “I can do this better.” I’m not proud of those thoughts but finally the voice saying, “Get yourself licensed then smart ass!” was loud and incessant enough for me to listen to. And so I registered…even managing to find a discount code!
Saturday morning I woke up at 6:40 (!) to drive from CT to MA for training. I haven’t woken up before 10 am in two weeks, never mind before 7! Having stayed with the beau the night before, I was allowed a little bit of bitching and moaning before he said the wisest words ever (he’s been full of them over the past couple of weeks bless his amazing soul): “Remember, this is what you want.” So I got my cranky self up and ready, made breakfast, and off I went.
The second I stepped in the, care the excitement started! I had gotten maybe 5 hours of sleep, terrified I would sleep through my alarm (yes I had that nightmare too!) but the adrenaline was flowing! The training was definitely a little different than expected but I am so happy I did it and that there are numerous job openings in Baltimore.
Like Gabby said: the Universe supports us!
The training was all day with about 6 hours of movement and 2 hours of lecture. The whole day was super high energy and fun and though I’m a little nervous to start teaching, I have to remember that a) nothing I learned was life-changing, earth-shattering new and b) I’ve been choreographing on my own for as long as I’ve been a Zumba student. I just couldn’t help it! Dirty beats come on and my hips start to do their own thing.
The one thing that did stand out, likely because it rubbed me the wrong way, was the emphasis on “the Zumba formula.” I do understand a company’s desire to maintain its image and mark but I also think its independent contractors are big girls and boys and should be able to customize their classes as they see fit (and, on one hand we are…but there are still, in my opinion, a lot of guidelines). I’ve danced with a handful (2-3) of amazing instructors and dozens of awful ones. My favorite instructors, to this day, didn’t do things as I learned them to be “the Zumba way” while many of my least favorite instructors followed it to a T. As with all things, I’m looking to find the balance that works best for me. And, of course, to be the best Zumba instructor Baltimore has ever known!
Sunday was brutal. Even getting 8 hours of sleep I was exhausted and hurt all over. I definitely gained a new respect for fitness professionals. If you fall into that category, please share your secrets in the comments because I don’t know how you do it! Nonetheless, it was 100% worth it. I have a ton of music to listen to, songs to choreograph, and other instructors to network with. I can’t wait to get started and promise to keep you updated!