Saying Goodbye to Tom: Thoughts on “Natural” Brands

http://www.tomsofmaine.com/TomsOfMaine/en-us/views/images/img_logo.png

This week I decided to delve into the world of couponing again.  I spent a good amount of time on the We Use Coupons (WUC) forums where, clearly, I made a beeline for the Organic & Natural threads.  Part of me still wishes I hadn’t.

Let me back up and say that over the past few years I’ve done the best I can to shop locally + seasonally.  I’m a big believer in supporting small, local business, partially because I am one, but also because I believe they tend to be better run and more conscious (or at least the small, local companies I buy from).  I know that some of “my brands” are owned by mega -corporations and conglomerates but I choose to buy their products because they are the best priced lesser of two evils.  Muir Glen is a great example of this.  Despite being owned by General Mills, I continue to “buy” their products for two reasons: 1) they have BPA-free cans and 2) I can usually get their products for free or, at least, less than $0.50.  Ideally I would buy only BioNaturae and Eden’s Organics but as a grad student, and even last year as an entry-level worker, that wasn’t part of the budget, especially not when I use canned diced tomatoes as much as I do.  One last side note, the reason I’m so picky about BPA-free tomatoes and not beans is because the acidity of the tomatoes causes more of the chemical to leach than other foods.  And because I can usually get Goya beans for about $0.50/can.  <–dried beans are still FTW though!

Anyway, while perusing the WUC last night, I stumbled upon this article which talks about 13 mom-and-pop natural companies now owned by mega-corporations like GM, Clorox, and Colgate.  Many of them I was aware of, Tom’s and Burt’s Bees included, but some I was not.  <–aka Lightlife!  =(  The one that disturbed me the most, however, was Tom’s.  Yes, I knew they weren’t independently owned.  But I hadn’t realized that a somewhat recent redesign was responsible for a huge product change…and a whole lot of outcry.

http://www.tomsofmaine.com/TomsOfMaine/en-us/views/images/blog/change-2.jpg

Old school toothpaste…still in the aluminum tubes!

You see, each of the highlighted companies features and article dealing with the merger.  While I highly recommend the Burt’s Bees one, it was the Tom’s one that struck a chord.  Reading through the comments I realized that when I first bought Tom’s in 2009, I hated it.  It tasted so friggin disgusting but somehow my mouth felt so damn clean.  It was flavored only with real mint oils and took a couple of days to get used the lack of sweetness but once I did, I never looked back.  I haven’t used “regular” toothpaste since, with the exception of a handful of trips where I used my hostess’.  As a side note, when I do use “regular” toothpaste, I get a buildup of gobbly goop in my mouth overnight.  I know, real scientific.  ;)  

Nowadays, though, the Tom’s is like a special treat, especially when compared to the Trader Joe’s which I used for almost a year straight (for price reasons).  When that stopped making me feel clean, I made a deal with myself that I could buy the Tom’s when I could get it for less than $3.00.  It isn’t special for this reason though, especially considering I can get that price almost always, but because it tastes so damn good compared to the comparatively lackluster TJ’s brand.  Reading through the comments made me realize that things have changed…and I can’t help but think that it isn’t for the better.

http://www.tomsofmaine.com/TomsOfMaine/en-us/views/images/blog/change-4.jpgSource

That being said, I was hesitant to write about this topic for two reasons.  Firstly, Tom’s still leaves a whole lot of  cr*p out of their products and is committed to sustainable practices, as the above image shows.  They are doing far more than most companies to give back and make a difference in this world.  Secondly, it is really only because of the Colgate buyout that I can purchase Tom’s just about anywhere from CVS to Trader Joe’s.  And herein lies my biggest struggle with natural products.  The very reason hippies are no longer sequestered in communes, living off the land and a handful of communal shops is because “natural” has become mainstream.  <–maybe a gross exaggeration but you get my point  I hate mega-corporations because many of their actions go against almost everything I believe in, especially science and health, which they seem to laugh at and ignore in the name of higher profits.  After all, who cares if the scientific world basically accepts as fact that ingredient x is toxic if getting rid of it means we’ll make less?  But a part of me is also thankful that they have allowed me to incorporate more natural and sustainable products into my everyday life and my student budget.  I think my shopping habits wholly reflect this conundrum and it is likely more my being torn over this issue than price that shapes my them.

Right now (at 3 am), I’m feeling very torn about whether I will buy Tom’s again.  I don’t like that they went and changed something that didn’t appear broken.  While admittedly I have no clue what went on behind the scenes, the fact that their blog post includes nothing about an environmental, healthy, or sustainability reason for the change, I am going to assume that it was less than consumer-minded.  Additionally, it does not appear that Tom’s responded to the numerous concerns expressed by formerly loyal customers who were disappointed, outraged, and just plain hurt.  There is this recent blog post that seems to talk around the issue…but, to me, it isn’t enough.  For now I think I’ll wait to see if I can snag an amazing deal with the coupons I currently have and, if they expire before that, I will share the love and go back to the Trader’s brand or another independently-owned, natural brand such as Kiss my Face or Jason* if, and when, I can snag them for a similar price.

Want more information on “who owns organic”?  Here’s a great master list. as well

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  In the comments tell me, how do you solve this conundrum?

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

*Edited to add: Here I was thinking I was safe with Jason…apparently they, along with just about every other mainstream organic/natural company, are owned by Hain Celestial.  See the full list here.

Project: Food Budget, Week 49

Holy crap we’re on week 50 49!  That means only two three official weeks to go.

Not that I’ll stop budgeting or meal planning or couponing.  So my question is: do you guys want me to keep going with P:FB-like posts?  Let me know.  ;)

Weeks 48 and 49 47 and 48 were a bit *ahem* hectic.  The former was finals week and the latter was my break so I was home, spending far too much $ eating out and visiting friends and generally enjoying life.  I’m guessing that I was on-budget for the month of August, at least with my food budget, if not with my extraneous spending.  <–trying not to think about that!

Meal Plan

*Starred items are test recipes for the 4th Happy Herbivore cookbook.

Chili*
Corn Soup*
Parmesan Celery Salad  <–new favorite blog!  Thanks Emily!  And seriously everyone make this.  And yes, I used faux cheese.
Avocado Pasta with Zucchini Tagliatelle

Spending Savings

Wegmans: $38.03
Whole Foods: $33.72

Total: $71.75

Between an empty fridge, some deals that were too good to pass up, and the need for probiotics to help me recover from this weekend’s exploits ($16 on sale), it was a pricey week!

Total Saved: $19.76 (28%)

Steals & Deals

Wegmans
*Coupons up to $0.99 are doubled

2lb bag lemons: $3.49
Bananas: $0.49/lb
Organic Celery: $2.69
Salsa: $1.99

Barbara’s Shredded Wheat (29oz): $5.99
-$1.00 Barbara’s cpn
=$4.99 = $0.17/oz = $2.72/lb

Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats (24oz): $3.79
-$0.75 Bob’s Red Mill cpn
=$2.29 = $1.53/lb

Cascadian Farms Frozen Spinach: $1.42
-$0.75 Cascadian Farms cpn
=FREE!

Silk Almond Milk (1/2 gal): $2.99
-$0.55 Silk cpn (here’s a $1.00 one)
=$1.89 = $3.78/gal

Whole Foods

Earthbound Organics Power Greens (16oz): $3.99 (sale price)
-$0.75 EB Farm cpn
=$3.42/lb

Olivia’s Organic Spinach (16oz)
-$1.00 Olivia’s Organics cpn
=$1.99/lb

That’s it loves.  Don’t forget to let me know if you want me to continue doing food budget posts once the project ends!

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 43

Happy Thursday!  I was done shopping bright and early on Sunday so you guys are in for a treat…a FULL post! Yay.  :)

Tip of the Week

At the end of last week I found myself out of flax and cereal <–it was tragic, running out of nutritional yeast, and in need of mascara that didn’t get gross ten minutes after applying it.  I thought about it and decided I was going to make the VitaCost plunge.  If you’ve never shopped here its like a natural food lover’s dream come true.  A lot of bloggers prefer iHerb but I spent a lot of time researching and time and again, Vita was cheaper.  They also give you free shipping on all orders $49+ so I recruited a friend.  I view shopping online the same way I view shopping at club stores: its a bit scary to put out quite a bit of money but you know that its an investment that will last you a while.  For example, I have almost 2 lbs each of nutritional yeast, flax, and cereal coming.

Don’t disregard online natural food stores for products that you use often.  But also don’t assume they have the lowest price.  Chia, for example, is actually still cheaper at Wegmans so you can guess where I’ll be getting it.

Meal Plan

I fell in love with a new food blog this week: Raw on $10 a Day (or Less!).  You’ll see that reflected below…and on Pinterest.

Tomato and Basil Soba Noodles  <–I used basil only and subbed different Asian noodles.

http://yogabeautylife.wordpress.com/wp-admin/media-upload.php?post_id=2038&tab=gallery#Avocado Soup <–I had one lone avo that needed to be used.  This was outstanding and super filling.

Green Goddess Nachos – Happy Herbivore’s Queso Cheese Sauce over steamed kale, sauteed onions + zucchini, and blue corn tortilla chips

A ridiculous amount of Indian food including veggie samosoas and pakora, garlic naan and some other bread.

So this cookie truck is right outside the metro stop every Monday.  I usually resist.  This week, I have a sinus infection.  Therefore cookies = medicine.

Hummus on Tomatoes  <–the zucchini I got were rather large so I made a double batch of this hummus and used my extra squash to make muffins. YUM.

Crispy Edamame  <–I subbed nooch for the cheese.  These are so so delicious!

Healthy Cookie Dough Dip <–It didn’t last long enough for photos.

Spending Savings

From L-R, starting in back: Frank’s Hot Sauce, Romaine Hearts, Late July chips, Kale, (7) Blue Diamond milk, (5) Goya beans, (6) cucumbers (they’re hidden)), Cunchmaster Crackers, (3 lb) almonds, Alter Eco chocolate bar, yellow tomatoes (3lb) bananas, GIANT basil, (4) zucchini, (4) peppers, (3) tomatoes, (6) peaches & nectarines. Not shown: Neturogena spot creme, mascara, Ecover spot remover, 26 oz each Mesa Sunrise cereal, nutritional yeast, and flaxseed

Wegmans: $18.24
BJs: $13.81
Whole Foods: $9.97
Farmer’s Markets: $19.00
VitaCost: $19.23

Total: $80.25 :D

Before you think I went crazy putting that smiley there, let me explain.  This week is half July, half August.  I had $35 left for July and $40 for the first week in August plus $5 left on my WF giftcard.  Which means I went exactly $0.25 over.  Not too shabby, if I say so myself.

Eligible Spending (excludes Farmers’ Market: $42.02
Savings: $15.79 (36%)

I did well this week in that I only bought packaged items that I had a coupon for.  The fresh produce was almost all purchased at farmers’ markets which means I got more bang for my buck as well.   Gotta love farm-fresh veggies.  :)

Steals & Deals

Wegmans

Goya Beans, $0.79-0.99
-$1.00/5 Goya cpn
=$0.59-$0.79/can

Late July Tortilla Chips, 2/$5.00
-$1.00 Late July cpn
=$1.50

Crunchmaster Crackers,2/$5.00 (reg $2.99 ea)
-$1.00 Crunchmaster cpn
=$1.50

Blue Diamond Coconut/Almond Milk (32 oz), $1.99
-$0.50 Blue Diamond cpn
-$0.50 (Wegmans doubles coupons)
=$0.99 ea or $3.96/gal

Alter Eco Chocolate Bar, $3.49
-$1.00 Alter Eco cpn <–I had one that was expiring
=$2.49

Neutrogena Spot Cream, $5.99
-$1.50 Neturogena cpn <–no longer available
=$4.49

BJ’s

Almonds, 3lb bag: $10.97
Bananas, 3lb: $1.49

Nature’s Greens (16 oz), $1.99
-$0.55 Nature’s Greens cpn
=$1.44

Whole Foods

Blue Diamond Milk (32 oz), $1.99
-$1.00/2 Whole Foods cpn <–no longer available
-$1.00/2 Blue Diamond cpn
=$0.99 ea or $3.96/gal

Earthbound Farms Romaine Hearts, $2.79
-$0.75 Earthbound Farms cpn
=$2.05

Obsessed with Alter Eco


As you might remember, a few months back I featured Alter Eco as my business of the week.  I fell in love with everything about this company, from their products to their philosophy to their willingness to send me and one of my readers a gift basket of delicious goodies.  A special thanks goes out to the company for their general awesomeness + generosity.

I also promised them that I would review the products… In between then and now I moved twice, expanded my business, and started grad school.  The products they sent are mostly gone but my love for them has yet to diminish in the slightest.

My current stash –  the red rice and Blackout bars are my most recent additions.  There have been others.  ;)

So without further ado, lets get reviewing!

Quinoa

Their quinoa is by far my favorite.  Its a little pricer than most others but 100% worth it (ad Common Kindness has coupons).  I usually buy the white to be most cost effective but have been dying to try out the other colors for some time now.  Luckily, they included the red in their gift basket to me and let me tell you, it makes for a much better presentation.

Taste-wise, both red and white have that nutty characteristic taste that quinoa fans adore and which lends itself to use in both sweet and savory dishes.  Its delicious hot or cold and can take on the flavor of whatever you cook it in.  As an added plus, I also find that I don’t have to rinse the Alter Eco quinoa quite as much as other brands.

Thai Sticky Rice

Part of my reason for delaying this review is that I had a helluva time with this rice, well, sticking.  It took me three or four tries before I was able to not totally lose it to the bottom of the (stainless steel) pan.  I followed the instructions to a T but what finally worked for me was following the “Flavor Tip” on the back of the package: toasting the rice with a touch of oil before cooking it.  The rice didn’t stick to the pan and I didn’t feel it was as sticky to itself.

Sauteed arugula, Thai Sticky Rice, and Refried Beans

In my opinion, the rice has a more complex flavor than brown rice.  In addition, its cooking time is much shorter than that of brown rice, which means you can actually make it a bit more o-the-fly.  Win/win.

Chocolate

Alter Eco sent me a variety of chocolate bars including Dark Quinoa, Dark Mint, Dark Coconut Toffee, and a milk bar.  Oh my word these were all amazingSeriously, go out and buy them now.  And then hide them so you can’t finish it all in one sitting.  Except for the milk bar but that’s because I don’t really like milk chocolate at all.  In fact, I’d prefer to go without chocolate period.

Now that that’s established… ;)  The Dark Coconut Toffee was my favorite and I think it lasted approximately two days.  <–in hindsight, not too bad  Next in line the Dark Mint (clearly since I bought a second bar), followed by the Dark Quinoa.  As you saw in the picture of my current stash, I recently purchased Dark Blackout.  Which, as expected, is amazing.  The chocolate isn’t too sweet or to bitter.  It is, however, smooth and full of tons of flavor.

I also love that each GIANT bar is technically only two servings, and with nutritional stats that won’t cause you to have a heart attack.  This makes me feel better when I eat 1/8-1/4 of the bar at a time  Quality ingredients –> good nutrients –> happy Kait.  :)

Final Rating

Let’s just say that I don’t see my obsession with Alter Eco ending anytime soon.  Their products have so much quality and spirit that I simply cannot say no.  Each product is incredibly unique and many are unlike anything I’ve found elsewhere in the grocery store.  You can 100% tell that you re eating something real by taste alone.  <–yes, it’s that good.  

I highly suggest you check out some Alter Eco products asap.  You won’t be disappointed.  ;)

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

All opinions expressed in this view are my own.  I am not affiliated with Alter Eco in any way.  No compensation was provided for this review other than the products to test. 

Project: Food Budget, Week 42 + An Announcement

Welcome to another edition of what I ate, what I spent, and what I saved.  This week marked the beginning of mid-terms (!) and as I write this I’ve spent the past many hours relaxing with cooking round two and watching episode after episode of Brothers & Sisters in a post-exam celebration.  I’m enjoying every second while I can since I have another exam next week so its back to the books tomorrow.

In the meantime, I must say that I’m proud that I’ve been able to stay so on track with my eating given the change in schedule.  I am still stress eating in a way I wish I weren’t and though my choices are different (some would say healthier), the underlying problem is still there: I get to the end of the batch of (insert food here) and realize then that I’ve fallen into an old pattern.  It may have been grapes and whole grain bread this week but it is the behavior itself that is the problem.  One of my reasons for wanting to overcome this habit is so that I don’t want to pass it on to my future children.  Yes I think this way – blame it on the psychology background or anything else.

Anyway, enough about my emotional eating habits…let’s talk food!

Weekly Menu

*I am happy to announce that I’m recipe testing for Happy Herbivore’s fourth cookbook!  I am super excited that the HH team asked me back as a tester and I cannot wait to see what Lindsay creates this time around.  For those just joining, I was a tester for HH’s soon-to-be-released third book.  Each week testers are required to choose three recipes and provide feedback about each.  I cannot disclose recipe names or details to anyone but I can tease you with photos…on weeks I take photos that is.  ;)  Test recipes are denoted with a star*.

Over the Rainbow Cabbage Salad

Shaved Kale and Avocado Salad (Crazy Sexy Diet)

Harvest Soup (Crazy Sexy Diet)

Curried Sweet Potato Soup (Happy Herbivore Cookbook)

Pesto*

Spending Savings

Farmers’ Market: $19.00
Trader Joe’s: $10.90
Wegmans: $14.54

Total: $44.44 (saved: $6.00)

I’m slowly but surely bringing that total down.  And I’m still well within my July budget. :) Last week I literally ran out of food so this week I had made my mind up that I wouldn’t make the same mistake.  I also wanted to purchase some convenience foods (Dr. Praeger’s veggie burgers, Alexia fries, microwave brown rice)for those nights when I just want to toaster-oven and go!

I actually purchased most of the convenience foods at Whole Foods.  My wonderful momma sent me a gift card and I wanted to get the most food for my buck so I ended up doing some massive couponing and had my best haul in a while.  In fact, I only purchased convenience foods if I had a coupon.  I don’t mind paying full price for produce, but if its in a box then I refuse!

Whole Foods: $19.29
Saved: $28.00 (145%) <–that’s what I’m talking about!!! 

Steals & Deals

Wow…its been forever since I’ve done this section.  I stumbled upon some awesome savings at Whole Foods that I wanted to share with you.  If you haven’t checked out my Guide to WF Couponing yet, now would be a good time. 

Seeds of Change Rice: $2.99 (sale price)
-$1.00 May/June Whole Deal cpn
-$1.00 Seeds of Change cpn
=$0.99 each

Pacific 7 Grain Non-Dairy Milk (32 oz): $3.19
-$0.75 July/August Whole Deal cpn
-$1.50 Pacific Foods cpn
=$0.94 each or $3.76/gal

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Milk (32 oz): $1.99
-$1.00/2 May/June Whole Deal cpn
-$1.00/2 Blue Diamond cpn
or- 2 $0.50 Blue Diamond cpns
=$0.99 each or $3.96/gal

Saffron Road Frozen Meals: $3.99 (sale price)
-$1.00 July/August Whole Deal cpn
-$1.00 Saffron Road cpn
=$1.99 each  <–I had free product coupons but this is still a great deal, especially since they do have vegan options.

Alexia Fries: $3.49 (sale price)
-$1.00 Alexia cpn
=$2.49 each

I just realized its also been a while since I’ve shared the P:FB love!  Don’t forget to check out the other amazing bloggers who are a part of this movement.  Each of us has a different budget, number of mouths to feed, location, and belief about what food we should be eating.  :)

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Let the Cleanse Begin…again!

Hi folks!

I hope you had a beautiful weekend.  Mine involved lots of Brothers & Sisters, adeliciousinternational potluck with my classmates, dancing until the early morning hours, late night girl talks, lots of grocery shopping + cooking, a 3am shower, a trip to the farmer’s market, dancing in my car, and fantastic conversations with new friends.

And…restarting the Crazy Sexy Cleanse.

A couple weeks ago one of my good college buddies bought and read the book.  Both of us have similar struggles with our weight + eating and I had been suggesting the book to her since I did my last cleanse.  She wanted to do the cleanse and I offered to do it with her, both for some moral support (it isn’t always the easiest + she isn’t plant-based to begin with) and because I know it won’t hurt me to do it again.

So last night I enjoyed all sorts of Indian, Asian, and American food + dessert + beer (and that dancing) and today I started my day with fresh vegetable juice (carrot/ginger/beet/apple/parsley/kale/celery/garlic) from the farmer’s market, followed by some baked fresh this morning whole wheat walnut bread and sun butter, and topped off tonight with a new-to-me raw kale salad.

I forgot how good it feels to eat this way.

I won’t likely be talking about the cleanse quite as much as last time but I will be following the principles to a T.   For those just joining me, that means: no meat/poultry/seafood/eggs, dairy, sugar or alcohol.  It also means daily meditation, workouts, and dry brushing, as well as using toxin-free health & beauty products and getting enough sleep.  Kris suggests giving up gluten but I’m not quite there yet (personally or budget-wise).  Quite frankly, I think that I probably will feel even better and I’m not ready for that change.  I have no doubt that I’ll get there (and have certainly learned to never say never).

I hope you join me over the next 21 days as I work my way towards a lighter, more cruelty-free life.  My goals with this cleanse are fat loss (not to be confused with weight loss) + more focus.  I’ve been doing much better with the focus thing, often choosing to do that what needs to get done than that which I want to do.  As many of you know, this is a huge step for me and I have no doubt that cleanse will help strengthen this new muscle I’m building…plus a whole lot more.

Yoga/beauty/veggies,

Kait xo

Unconventional Eating

Update: I have power!  It came back on sometime during the afternoon on Tuesday.  Thank you for all your well wishes + concern.  xo

I can’t remember the last time I wrote about food!  Sunday’s last minute trip to Giant (aka Stop & Shop for all my New Englanders) inspired me and explained something I had been struggling to properly answer for a long time.

At the time when I wrote this (Sunday night), my power was still out.  So was Whole Foods’.  For those who know me, this is practically a tragedy in and of itself.  I did a big haul at Wegmans on Saturday but only bought non-perishables (lara bars, trail mix, canned beans, tomatoes, etc).  Since ended up having access to a fridge and a blender (yay!), I figured I’d pick up some green smoothie + salad ingredients for around $10.

My grocery list:

  • romaine hearts
  • spinach
  • celery
  • 1 avocado
  • yogi detox tea (coupon)
  • non-dairy milk (coupon)

Given that Trader’s was at least a half hour away from the cousins’, I figured I would suck it up and head to the Giant that is right up the road.  I figured the prices wouldn’t be that bad and since the beau had given me some extra $ to shop with (since, you know, I had no power and we assumed I’d be eating out a bit), I figured it wouldn’t matter if it cost a bit more.

I bought everything on that list plus a box of Anna’s Chocolate Thin Mint cookies (accidentally vegan and only $2.49).  I used $2 worth of coupons and the total came to…$20.20.

WTH?

$14 of that was the produce.  Yes $14 for organic romaine hearts, organic spinach, organic celery hearts, and one lonely avocado.  I was shocked.  Then angry.  Then it all clicked.

Now I understand why people think eating healthy is so expensive!  Add “organic” or “veg” into the mix and BOOM!  It makes sense…if you shop at a place like Giant.  The vegan cookies were all at least $4 a box.  The nondairy milk was at least $0.75 more than I can purchase it for at Wegmans or Target or Walmart.  I can see why I hear, “Well isn’t that expensive?” equally as often as, “Where do you get your protein?”

Fact of the matter is, “conventional” grocery stores are set up for “conventional eaters” (aka those on the Standard American Diet).

And we all know I am far from a conventional eater.  I like whole foods.  I like plant-based foods.  I like artificial-crap-free junk food.  I love foods made with only the necessary ingredients (like water, yeast, and flour for bread).  Etc.  Whole Foods and Traders and Wegmans are my meccas (true story: to cheer myself up after bidding the beau farewell, I went to Wegmans…I have no shame admitting this).  Until Sunday, though, I didn’t realize why these places mean so much to me: they are geared towards me and my tribe.  They “get” us unconventional eaters.  And because all of the products in the store are geared towards us, the prices are lower (because the product moves more quickly).

Wegmans, the closest of my three meccas to a regular grocery store, has a saying: “Food shopping will never be the same.”  And it hasn’t been because they’ve found a way to draw in, to appeal to, both conventional and unconventional eaters while keeping prices competitive.  Unlike Giant…or Stop & Shop…or Big Y.  Or anywhere else really.

Now I know…the next time someone asks me, “How I do it?” or “Isn’t that so expensive?” I’ll let them know…not if you go to the right places.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 36

Tip of the Week

Over the weekend the beau and I went grocery shopping together.  Now he and I grew up in very different financial environments.  Mine lead to couponing; his led to a typical guy nonchalant attitude towards spending a little extra on food.  Now we all know that I am all for buying quality products from outstanding companies.  But I’m also all for saving a buck when I can. The difference between he and I, however, and I suspect this is the same difference between couponers and those who don’t use them, is that I value the savings.  A lot.

Now don’t get me wrong: the beau loves using coupons when they are available.  He just doesn’t see the big deal in only saving a buck here and fifty cents there.  Whereas I figure, if I want to buy x anyway, I might as well take the free money I’m given.  Because after all, coupons are just that: free money.  Even if you don’t do match-ups and just use your coupons to buy what you’d already be buying, you are still saving money!  So use your coupons ladies and gentleman.  Take some time to go through your paper or check out some online resources.  They are there: free money just for the taking.  Put it to work for you.

Oh and don’t forget to tell me how good it feels when you have your first (big or not-so-big) haul.  ;)

Weekly Menu

Its the weak of peas and salad…more specifically, Mama Pea’s recipes and trying to keep up with Ang’s Salad Challenge.  I have had a mini stock of tempeh that I had gotten super cheap at the end of May ($0.99 each!) and wanted to use before the move to Baltimore (so as to not have to take one more thing with us!). Now I don’t love tempeh but I do love the things Mama Pea does with it.

Tempeh Spaghetti

Pasta Primavera – the beau threw this together with kale, summer squash, red pepper, and a tempeh/shallot/tomato mix that just worked beautifully with the olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice sauce

Curried Sweet Tater Tot Casserole

The best “I drank too much wine and ate too much casserole last night” breakfast ever.

Magic Kale Salad with Roasted Beets and Almonds(?)  <–I’m seriously obsessed with this dressing + lacinto kale.

Spending Savings

Whole Foods: $38.46 :D

Savings: $8.25

Alright.

I bought almost all produce this week so the sales have changed already.  I will point you to a couple of my fave coupons though:

Don’t forget to check out the other Project:Food Budget bloggers!  We’ve all got different size families, budgets, and food values.

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 33-34

First of all, thanks for all of the love this week!  I’m so glad you all are liking my more introspective posts and life updates…I can’t tell you how much it means to me when you like a post or follow the blog.  <3 <3 <3

This is going to be a quickie update for several reasons:

  1. The Revenge season finale is on in 1.5 hours.  I still need to make dinner.  Clearly I have priorities
  2. I don’t have all my receipts from the past couple of weeks so I can’t tell you how much I saved.
  3. I just finished my call with my kick ass soul sister coach and am so energized and ready to tackle some of the more intimidating projects to grow my biz.  I love my blog but it doesn’t support me so…well, you know.  ;)  And of course this all needs to be done before 10 pm.

Meal Plan

Green smoothies.
Cajun Cornbread Casserole (Everyday Happy Herbivore) <–I got three meals and one snack out of this!
Pineapple Teriyaki Tempeh (EHH)
Cereal!
Oats

Total Spending (last two weeks): $71.17

:D

Alright!  Now that number would be better if I hadn’t spent a significant amount of other $ on eating out but hey…this is my time to be free, right?  I’m not going crazy with my $ and in fact have been rather successfully bargain hunting for housewares, furniture, and new clothes.  I’ve been aware (ish) of my spending and investing in those things that need investing while saving for a better deal when I know its out there.

For me, that is the sweet spot that this project has brought me to. 

Don’t forget to check out me other budgeting loves…you might notice there are some new additions!  With all different budgets, family sizes, dietary lifestyles, etc, you’ll be sure to find one that reflects your own situation.

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 32 + Past Weeks’ Eats

Welcome back to another exciting week of saving money with y/b/l.

Tip of the Week

Splurge when you can!  Maybe you are living back at home and mom is picking up some of your groceries and you are drawing all grains and beans from your stockpile.  Or maybe you just don’t need that much this week.  Either way, you have a bit of room in your budget to buy some new-to-you items that normally wouldn’t be in-budget.  Go ahead…be rebellious!  And enjoy every second of it:)

Weekly Menu

What happens when you move and then proceed to travel immediately?  Meal planning goes out the window.  The downside: this can lead to overspending.  The upside: I’ve been forced to get a creative and good great things have resulted.  The only items I brought into mom’s kitchen are my box (yes box) of spices, my cutting board, my knife, and my blender.  I do occasionally grab beans, oil, or grains from the storage room basement but all-in-all, I’ve been creating yummy dishes with very little.

Now by creating I mean going back to my college years of depending on the stir-fry.  I could sing the praises of stir fries for hours but I’ll get straight to the point: they are the most versatile, fantastic, go-to meal on the planet.  Grains + veggies + protein + seasonings and you’re good to go.  Veggies on their way out?  No problem…just toss ‘em in and go!  Don’t love that grain you bought in bulk?  Mix it in.  You get the picture.  ;)

First there was the Road Trip Fill-Her-Up which consisted of Alter Eco red quinoa, vidalia onions, spinach, chickpeas, garlic, chili powder, liquid smoke, and s&p.

Whatever you do, don’t skip the liquid smoke!  It added a depth of flavor to this dish that makes it totally unpredictable but incredibly delicious.  A bottle doesn’t cost that much and will last you forever since you only need a couple drops (max) to get the desired effect.

Next up, the Unique Use-‘Em-Up:

Isn’t mom’s deck table pertiful?

This guy had brown rice, the rest of my dying bag of baby bell peppers, black beans, and ginger/rosemary/s&p as well as a unique new-to-me oil that I splurged on at…of all places…Marshalls!

Why yes that is rosemary, ginger, sweet orange-infused olive oil!

Oh my word this was to-die-for.  I not only sauteed the veggies with the oil + spices but also mixed them into the rice.  You couldn’t really taste the orange on the veggies but it was definitely there on the rice.  Which I proceeded to nibble on repeatedly.  Is this oil absolutely necessary?  No.  Did it take lunch from good to outstanding?  Yes!  Will I be experimenting with more infused oils?  Yes again.

Then of course were my sweet potatoes, which I sung the praise of in yesterday’s post<–see savory recipe there

Cheezy Sweet Potatoes

And another new-to-me product that provides great snacking, with or without milk.  ;)

I’ve also been eating out a ton between my trip to Bmore and just catching up with people.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of meals not pictured because either a) the photos didn’t come out at all or b) I was too hungry to remember to snap one.  Putting that sad fact aside, I am happy to report that Bmore is a very veg-friendly city.  Or maybe its just my recent shift in perspective, who knows.  Either way, I’ve been consistently looking for and finding a plethora of veg options at dedicated and mainstream restaurants alike.

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