Money Saving Monday: Welcome Back Edition

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Has anyone else missed these posts? Gosh knows I have! The past few weeks have been utterly insane and grocery shopping has been a luxury I’ve missed desperately. So today I committed to relishing in my trip. As I wrote in my Passion by Kait newsletter this week:

“Me? I’m going to curl up with a good book, a cup of tea, and the kitty I now share a home with. On Saturday I’m going to dance my heart out at a special Zumba class and indulge in a decadent breakfast afterwards. And Sunday I’m going to take my time at the farmers’ market, thoroughly experiencing my visit rather than rushing around like usual.”

I did all of the above this weekend, along with volunteering at a work event and getting to hang out with co-workers after. There was dancing, delicious food, practical jokes, cuddle time, and a boatload of beauty. And today there was epic grocery shopping. 🙂

Meal Plan
*I’m currently testing for the fifth Happy Herbivore cookbook. Test recipes are marked with an asterik*

Ragut* with Pineapple Rice (Happy Herbivore Abroad)
Belizean Beans* over baked sweet potatoes
Arugula Pear Salad (with Tofurkey slices and no cheese)!
Farro with Leeks and Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Rainbow Greens (Everyday Happy Herbivore) with Curried Chickpea Salad and rice
Split Pea and Edamame Hummus
Non-Mexican Vegan Mac & Cheese

Spending Savings

Farmers Market: $30.00
Safeway: $27.32
Total: $57.30

Farmers Market: $5.00
Safeway: $24.08
Total: $29.08 (51%)

Ok so two things to note: 1) the farmers market is doubling all food stamps*. Huzzah! And thank you Kaiser Permanante for the grant that allowed this. So that’s how I saved my $$$. 2) I know I overspent. But because of point #1, I’ll still be able to stick to my budget for the rest of the month. #win

*After five months of job hunting, and though I did get a part-time job, I needed to look into options that would help me out. Though admittedly I struggled with a bit of embarrassment about this, another of my classmates bravely posted about her experiences signing up for both food stamps and Medicaid. I know this can be a polarizing issue but I also want to work to decrease the stigma around something that should carry no shame. In my opinion, asking for help is one of the most difficult and most beautiful choices you can make. I’m glad I did and ever so grateful that a system is in place to help those of us who need it.

Steals & Deals

Safeway is one of my fave places to shop. Their regular prices are nothing to write home about. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Whole Foods’ frozen veggies are cheaper. But their sales, the fact that they double manufacturer’s coupons under $1.00, and their Just for You (J4U) personalized deals make it possible to get some ridiculously low prices!

Herdez Canned Salsa: B1G1 free ($0.99 for 2)
O Organics 1 lb salad mixes: $5.00
GT’s Kombucha: 2/$5.00
Avocados: $0.95 (J4U personalized price)
Bananas: $0.59/lb
(J4U personalized price)

Buy (1) Libby’s Pumpkin (15oz), $1.99
Use (1) $0.50/1 Libby’s pumpkin, 15oz+ coupon
Coupon doubles
Total: $0.99 or $0.07/oz

Buy (1) Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes (15oz), $1.50
Use (1) $0.50/1 Muir Glen canned tomatoes coupon (no longer available)
Coupon doubles
with 10% off any canned J4U promotion
Total: $0.35 or $0.02/oz

Buy (2) Blue Diamond Coconut/Almond Almond Breeze (32oz), $1.99
Use (1) $1.00/2 Shelf Stable Almond Breeze milks coupon (no longer available)
or (2) $0.55/1 Blue Diamond Almond Milk (SS 10/13/13)

Total: as low as $1.78 or $0.89 ea

Buy (2) Triscuits, $3.54
Use (1) $1.00/2 Triscuit crackers coupon (SS 10/20/13)
Total: $2.54 or $1.27 ea

Buy (1) Almond Dream Bites, $3.50
Use (1) $1.00/1 Dream Non-Dairy product coupon
Total: $2.50

Buy (1) Tofurky Peppered Deli Slices, $2.50
Use (1) $1.00/1 Tofurky product coupon (DC Vegfest)
or (1) $0.75/1 Tofurky item coupon
Total: as low as $1.00

Though my late-night trip to Safewy last week won (I saved  more than I spent), I’m happy with how this week’s trip turned out. I might not be a regular, but I couldn’t say no to the cheap avocados! If they give me that again, they’ll definitely have won my heart!

Until next week…

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

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Money Saving Monday: Speak Up

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Let’s start with the super duper important things. Like this Kale Smoothie popsicle I scored at the Farmer’s Market this week

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It was absolutely delish and the only ingredients are kale, green grapes, and banana. Um that is my kind of breakfast right there thankyouverymuch. Considering the beau and I got up super duper early to hit the market before my 10am training, this was about the only thing that brought a smile to my very grumpy self. I followed this up with another new obsession: Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin bread. Ohmygoodness it is soooo raisin-y and delicious especially with a touch of Earth Balance. nom nom nom

And since I’m sharing breakfast i-photos, I might as well show you this little gem. Can we talk about the color of that peach? Aka it was perfect. The roll is actually one of the Schar ones I got for super cheap last week. The beau and I were both big fans and we will definitely be grabbing these the next time we stop by Wegmans.

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Now that that’s done…onto the main post!

Tip of the Week

Keep your cool when dealing with frustrated workers but don’t let awful behavior pass. So I  had a pretty poor Whole Foods experience this week. For some reason the poor cashiers at all MD grocery stores have to manually enter every coupon instead of just scanning it. Like they literally have to type in the dollar amount and choose a department. UUUUGH. The WF down here have another annoying policy so that whenever you use more than 1 of the same WF coupon the supervisor needs to use a key. You can imagine this is somewhat annoying. Unfortunately, this week that annoyance was taken out on me. While I smiled and apologized and empathized regarding how frustrating the situation must be, I also left feeling really crappy. Which, IMO, is not okay. So I took the time to craft a very professional letter to the store letting them know that I understood the source of the emotions but didn’t feel it was right for them to get transferred to consumers. Will anything come of it? I don’t know. But the eternal optimist in me hopes that we can engage in a conversation about these ridiculous policies and maybe some good will come of it.

Anyway, don’t be afraid to speak up if you have a negative experience. Just be sure to be courteous and give facts and not just feelings. Be as objective as possible and for heaven’s sake don’t lose your temper. Remember honey > vinegar. Winking smile

Meal Plan

Mexican Cabbage (we never got it it last week)
Vegan Caprese Pizza using this dough and these toppings
Curried Sweet Potato soup with wild rice (Happy Herbivore Cookbook)
Tofu Shirataki noodles with Broccoli Pesto (HHC)

Since its our anniversary on Tuesday, we’ll also be celebrating with dinner out at our favorite sushi restaurant here in Bmore. They do Living Social deals fairly often and we always stock up!

Spending Savings

Farmer’s Market: $36.00
Whole Foods: $26.60
Walgreens: $9.47
Eddie’s: $3.00 (avocados are cheaper here!)
Total: $75.07

I may run to Target and spend that last $5. I may not. We’ll see.

Whole Foods: $14.59
Walgreens: $10.30
Total: $24.89 (33%) #nottooshabby

Steals and Deals

Whole Foods

Buy (1) box Back to Nature Crackers, 2/$7
Use (1) $1/1 Back to Nature Product coupon
and (1) $0.50/1 Back to Nature Cookie, Cracker, Granola, or Nut item Sept/Oct Whole Deal coupon
Total: $2.00

Buy (1) bag Kettle Chips, 2/$4
Use (1) $1.00/1 Kettle Chips coupon*
and (1) $0.75/1 Kettle Chips July/August Whole Deal coupon
Total: $0.25!

*You may have to change your Zip code. Simply go to Coupons.com, sign in to your account, and click on your name in the upper right-hand corner. Choose ‘Your Profile’ and set your zip to 18051. Click ‘Submit Changes’ and close the screen. Then try the link above again!

Buy (2) House Foods Tofu Shirataki Noodles, 2/$3
Use (1) $1.50/2 packages House Foods Tofu Shirataki coupon (SS 08/04/13)
and (1) $1.50/2 packages House Foods Tofu Shirataki July/August Whole Deal coupon
Total: FREE!

Buy (2) So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurts, 2/$3
Use (2) $1.00/1 So Delicious Dairy-Free product coupon (SS 07/28/13 OR 09/08/13)
OR (2) $0.55/1 So Delicious Dairy-Free product coupon from here or here
and (1) $1.00/2 So Delicious Dairy-Free product July/August Whole Deal coupon*
Total: as low as FREE!

*There is also a $1.00/3 coupon in the Sept/Oct Whole Deal. Simply change ever (2) to a (3). Final cost will be as low as $0.50 or $0.17 each.

Buy (1) Barbara’s Morning Oat Crunch (formerly Shredded Oats), $3.99
Use (1) $1.00/1 Barbara’s Morning Oat Crunch coupon
and (1) $1.00/1 Barbara’s Morning Oat Crunch Sept/Oct Whole Deal coupon
Total: $1.99

Buy (2) Delallo Whole Wheat Pasta, $2/6
Use (1) $1.50/2 packages Delallo Whole Wheat Pasta coupon
Total: $4.50/2 or $2.25 each

Walgreens

Buy (1) Colgate 360 toothbrush, $2.99
Use (1) $1.00/1 Colgate 360 toothbrush (SS 09/08/13 #2)
Receive (1) $1.00 Register Rewards for next purchase
Total: $1.99 OOP + $1.00 to spend on a future purchase

Buy (1) Starbucks K-Cup, 10-pack, $6.99
Use (1) $1.50/1 Starbucks K-Cup pack (SS 09/08/13 #2)
and (1) $1.00 Register Reward from ^ purchase
Receive 1,000 points ($1.00) for next purchase
Total: as low as $4.49 or $0.45/cup +$1.00 to spend on a future purchase

Buy (1) Sensodyne toothpaste, $4.99
Use (1) $1.00/1 Sensodyne toothpaste coupon (SS 09/08/13 #2)
and 1,000 points ($1.00) from ^ purchase
Total: as low as $2.00 +$1.00 to spend on a future purchase

*whew* That’s it for this week!

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Money Saving Tuesday: Better Late than Never

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Hiya loves!

Is it just me or are you totally confused about what day of the week it is? I woke up with a start yesterday, convinced I had slept through a doctor’s appointment that was actually this morning. *shakes head* Oh holiday weekends…I love you so much but man you mess with my head!

Anyway this post is coming late because we didn’t actually shop until Monday afternoon and t that point I figured everyone was probably enjoying sunshine and picnic food. As an added bonus, now ya’ll have something to entertain you while back at work. You’re welcome. 😉

Last note – there’s now a Mid-Atlantic Whole Foods coupon matchup!!!!!! I can’t even tell you how excited I am about this because going in blind or making an extra trip to scout the deals  is a pain. In a different region? Check Healthy Life Deals for more location-based match-ups.

Tips of the Week

Have a plan! I know I’ve talked about meal planning before but let’s just say lately, I haven’t  practiced what I preach. And you know what? I learned my lesson! Any week the beau and I winged it, we would run out of food by Wednesday or Thursday and have to dip into our ‘fun fund’ to buy more. Uh, no thank you. On the weeks we planned, however, we got more food, spent less money, and usually had groceries left over for the next week. This week was no exception. Our main bill came to a mere $65. Um what?! We used the rest of the money to splurge on things like local honey and new-to-us products. This is the beauty of taking 15 minutes to google some recipes and write down ingredients.

Focus on produce. Out of four bags, three were filled with produce, most of which was local and/or organic. You already saw the numbers so I really don’t need to say anything else. 😉

Meal PlanIt’s that time of year again – Happy Herbivore cookbook testing!That means some recipes will not have links and will only have loose descriptions (e.g. kale dish). All test recipes are marked with a star*.

Green Gazpacho <–I’m really loving her recipes and have had uniformly good results from them. She offers a good mix of plant-based or plant-adaptible recipes and they make a lot!Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Mexican Cabbage (HHC)
Some sort of kale salad
Roasted sweet potatoes with creamed kale* and bean dip*

Spending Savings

Farm stand: $20.00
Wegmans: $50.80
Fresh & Green’s: $9.43
Total: $80.23

Wegmans: $7.08 (9%)

Steals and Deals

Wegmans

Buy (1) So Delicious Almond+ Milk (64 oz), $3.49
Use (1) $0.55/1 So Delicious product coupon
*doubles*
Total: $2.39 each or $4.78/gal

Buy (1) Schar Multigrain Ciabatta Rolls, $4.49
Use (1) $3.00/1 Schar bread product coupon
Total: $1.49

Buy (5) Goya Low Sodium Beans (any variety), $4.95
Use (1) $1.00/5 Goya Low Sodium Beans coupon
Total: $3.95 or $0.79 each

Buy (1) Food for Life Bread 9any variety), $3.99
Use (1) $0.50/1 Food for Life product coupon or here
Total: $2.99

Until next time…

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

(Not Really) Money Saving Monday

i-love-saving-money-copyHiya coupon kings and queens!

I missed ya’ll last week..instead, I was travelling back from a relaxing weekend in CT with family and friends. It was a delicious weekend too as I found a vegan chocolate and ice cream shop and visited some of my fave veg-friendly restaurants in New Haven (specifically York St Noodle House and Claire’s Cornercopia).

Upon returning to Baltimore, after sitting in far more traffic than is ok for the middle of a Monday, neither the beau nor I were in the mood to shop, cook, or move our cars from their primo parking spots during rush hour. The joys of city life! <–but I wouldn’t change it or go back to the ‘burbs for the world Anyway, I unfortunately discovered that we could easily (read: in 10 minutes or less) walk to one of my fave Baltimore vegan joints. So we grabbed delish-but-wallet-friendly takeout: the best vegan mac and cheese + garlic kale salad for me and curried veggies, smoked collards, and candied sweet potatoes for him. I also may have returned the next day to grab a green smoothie. *whistles*

Yes, we eventually went grocery shopping…on Wednesday. Needless to say there wasn’t much to report, although I did score some cheap-o razors at Target in CT. #win

Meal Plan

Zuke Pasta with Tahini Sauce + Other Goodness
Southwest Cornbread Salad

Homemade personal veggie pizzas
Curry Roasted Carrots with Peanut Sunbutter Sauce and Baked Coconut Lentils
Lemony Millet Salad with Chickpeas, Corn, and Spinach
Kale with Pecorino Nooch and Walnuts + leftovers

Also, look how pretty our produce bowl is this week:

Spending Savings

Farmers Market: $26
Whole Foods: $30.97
Rite Aid: $13
Trader’s: $10Total: $79.97

Ok so if we’re being honest, Rite Aid and Trader’s are guesses for later in the week but based on my estimates, it’ll work out perfectly. 🙂

Steals and Deals

Rite Aid

Buy (1) Organix Shampoo, $5.99, get one free
Use (1) $2.00/1 Organix product coupon (SS 08/11/13)
Total: $3.99/2 or $2.00 each

Buy (2) Kashi Cereals, $6.00
Use (1) $1.00/2 Kashi cereals coupon (RP 08/04/13 #2)
and get $1 UP Reward
Total: $4.00/2 or $2.00 each

Buy (2) Scotch-Brite mulipacks, $3.94
Use (1) $1.00/2 Scotch-Brite multipacks coupon (SS 08/04/13 Regional)
Total: $2.94/2 or $1.47 each

That’s it for this week. Short and sweet!

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

 

 

Money Saving Monday: Three Trips

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Happy Monday all! Not sure why I’m so excited about this…probably because I feel like this week, there’s something good coming. In fact, let’s just make a pact right now: good things happen this week. Period.  😉

Before I get to the meat tofu of this post, In case you missed my *gasp* Saturday update, be sure to head over to Sunday Paper Coupons to read my guest post. I also made sure to add the link to my still-new Couponing page here at YBL.

No tip this week…my writing muse (I think I should name her…any suggestions?) has been inspiring me left and right. So, instead, be on the look out for more frequent posts and a return to more-than-just couponing topics. 😉

Meal Plan

Pasta with mustard greens and grape tomatoes.
Zuke pasta with tahini sauce and other goodness with a side of roasted taters
Curried Corn Soup (from Parade magazine. #noshame)
Some kale salad with baked tofu of some sort

Last night we had Curried Ginger and Raisin Lentils with quinoa and hummus. This is one of my go-to dishes when I need something hearty, delicious, and quick. During school there were definitely days where I cooked this while I got ready in the am. Grad school: encouraging resourcefulness, one rushed recipe at a time.

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Spending Savings

After last week’s awesome deals, this week was a bit of a let-down. I was convinced we only would have to go to the farmer’s market and BJs…and they didn’t have avocados and after surviving last week with only one the whole week I needed them. So off to Trader’s we went. *dramatic sigh*

Farmer’s Market: $24.00
BJs: $30.60
Trader Joe’s: $24.68
Total: $79.38

Farmer’s Market: $1.50
BJs
: $9.31
Traders: $1.50
Total: $12.31 (16%)

Steals and Deals

BJ’s

Some BJs store coupons can be printed online here. Otherwise, the coupons are included in the monthly mailer members receive and/or the in-store coupon fliers.

Buy (1) Snikiddy Sea Salt Fries (16 oz), $3.69
Use (1) $1.00/1 Snikiddy Sea Salt Fries BJs coupon
with (1) $0.75/1 Snikiddy product (4 oz+) coupon
Total: $1.94

Buy (1) Chobani 12-pack, $10.79
Use (1) $2.50/1 Chobani 12-pack BJs coupon
with (up to 12) $0.30/1 6 oz Chobani yogurt cup coupon
Total: as low as* $4.69 or $0.39/cup
*If you have two computers you can print 4 coupons so more realistically it’ll be about $7.09 or $0.59/cup which is still awesome!

Trader Joe’s

Organic lacinto kale (10 oz): $2.29
Organic carrots (1 lb): $0.89
Avocados (4-pack): $3.49
Local zucchini: $0.79 each
Raw sunflower seeds (1 lb): $1.99
Unsweetened applesauce (25 oz) $1.99
Organic frozen peas (1 lb): $1.99
Dried cranberries (8 oz)L $1.99
Chocolate chips (1 lb): $1.99

Buy (1) Barbara’s Shredded Wheat (24 oz), $3.99
Use (1) $1.50/1 Barbara’s product coupon
Total: $2.49

Buy (1) Ezekiel 4:9 loaf, $3.99
Use (1) $0.50/1 Food for Life product coupon
Total: $3.49

There you have it. Be sure to check back Wednesday for a super simple recipe.

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

The Kait-Approved BJ’s Pricebook

When it comes to grocery shopping, I’ve been totally spoiled with the opportunity to shop at stores like Wegmans and Safeway where I can check prices online.  However, when the beau and I decided to invest in a BJs membership, I knew we would end up spending an afternoon wandering around the store and collecting the prices of goodies.  Hence, this pricebook was born.  Consider it a living entity that will be updated as necessary.

What does ‘Kait-approved’ mean?

Before I get into the actually products, I want to clarify what this pricebook is and is not.  ‘Kait-approved’ simply means that all of the products on this list meet my shopping guidelines.  Generally, I focus on purchasing products from companies whose values align with mine.  Specifically, this means that I focus on purchasing items that are produced and/or grown

  • locally
  • sustainably
  • fairly
  • organically
  • with whole foods ingredients (e.g. whole wheat flour, no preservatives, etc)

My budget means sometimes I have to make sacrifices to one or more of these values.  For example, as much as I’d love to buy local, hand-made pasta, the fact that I can get whole wheat Barilla for around $0.50/box means I get the Barilla.

Additionally, I follow a plant-based diet.  This means that you won’t find prices for any items produced with animal products (e.g. meat, eggs, dairy, meat-based broths, etc) on this list.

And now…

The Pricebook

Product Name

Size

Price

Unit Price

Fresh Organic Dates 2 lb $8.99 $4.50/lb
Dried Dates 40 oz $7.49 $2.99/lb
Raisins 3 lb $6.99 $2.33/lb
Food Should Taste Good 20 oz $5.99 $4.80/lb
Popchips 11 oz $4.49 $6.53/lb
Xochitl tortilla chips 24 oz $5.59 $3.73/lb
RW Garcia tortilla chips 32 oz $4.59 $2.30/lb
Cape Cod Chips 18 oz $4.99 $4.44/lb
Utz 16 oz $4.99 $4.99/lb
Wilds Riceworks Chips 14 oz $4.99 $5.70/lb
Lara Uberbars 12 pack $10.99 $0.92/bar
Coconut Water 68 oz $7.99 $15.04/gal
V8 2 gal $5.69 $2.84/gal
Silk Soymilk 1.5 gal $7.99 $5.33/gal
Blue Diamond almond milk 86 oz $3.49 $5.19/gal
Lucini sauce 25.5 oz $3.99 $2.89/lb
Rozanno sauce 2, 32 oz jars $6.99 $1.24/lb
Grey Poupon dijon mustard 2, 16 oz jars $6.79 3.40/lb
Guldens mustard 4, 12 oz jars $4.99 $1.66/lb
Organic ketchup 2, 44 oz jars $6.99 $1.27/lb
Sweet Chili sauce 20 oz $3.99 $3.20/lb
Kikomann low sodium soy sauce 40 oz $5.49 $17.57/gal
Whole Grain Barilla 8, 13.5 oz boxes $9.49 $1.36/lb
Organic fancy/real pasta 2 lb $4.99 $2.50/lb
Seeds of Change 4 pack $7.99 $2/pack
Brown Rice 4 lbs $4.99 $1.25/lb
Rice Select 48 oz $7.99 $2.78/lb
Arborio rice 4 lbs $4.99 $1.25/lb
Muir Glen tomatoes 6 cans $6.99 $1.16/can
Capers 16 oz $5.79 $5.79/lb
Olives 6, 6 oz cans $6.49 $1.08/can; $2.88/lb
Minced garlic 32 oz $3.99 $2.00/lb
Goya black beans 6, 15 oz cans $4.29 $0.72/can; $4.78/lb
Goya kidney beans 6, 15 oz cans $4.29 $0.72/can; $4.78/lb
Goya chickpeas 6, 15 oz cans $4.99 $0.83/can; $5.32/lb
EVOO 1 liter (~34 oz) $5.99 $22.55/gal
Organic EVOO 1 liter (~34 oz) $8.99 $33.85/gal
Carapelli EVOO 1 liter (~34 oz) $7.99 $30.08/gal
Calavalita garlic oil 32 oz $6.99 $27.96/gal
Balsalmic Vinegar 1 liter (~34 oz) $9.99 $37.61/gal
Rumfords aluminum-free baking powder 2 cans $3.29 $1.65/can
Maple syrup 32 oz $12.99 $51.96/gal
Honey Bunches of Oats 4, 48 oz boxes $6.99 $2.33/lb
Cascadian Farm granola $4.99 $2.35/lb
Frosted Mini Wheats 70 oz $8.39 $1.92/lb
Tofu 32 oz $3.99 $2.00/lb
Gardein black bean burgers 12 $12.99 $1.08 ea
Fresh Express organic greens 1 lb $4.49
English cucumbers 2 pack $2.39 $1.20/cuke
Avocados 4 pack $3.29 $0.82/avo
Organic garlic 5 bulbs $1.99
Cherry tomatoes 32 oz $4.99 $2.50/lb
Pineapple 1 $1.99
Organic strawberries 1 lb $3.79 $3.79/lb
Bananas 3 lb $1.49 $0.50/lb
Frozen mango 4 lb $7.69 $1.92/lb
Frozen mixed berries 3 lb $9.99 $3.33/lb
Wymans blueberries 3 lb $7.39 $2.46/lb
Frozen spinach 3.5 lb $5.29 $1.51/lb
Frozen corn 6 lb $6.99 $1.17/lb
Organic frozen peas 4 lb $6.49 $1.62/lb
Charmin Basic 113.4 sq m $17.99 $0.16/sq m
Scott Naturals 69.9 sq m $10.99 $0.16/sq m
Scott Extra Soft 126 sq m $18.99 $0.15/sq m

BJ’s stock and prices may also vary by region so if things are different, that is likely the reason. If there’s a specific item you want to see added to this list, just leave a comment below and I’ll make sure to look it up the next time I’m there.

I hope you find this pricebook useful.  I love that big box stores are slowly but surely starting to add healthier products to their shelves so that all of us, regardless of food values, budget, and dietary needs, can take advantage of the great savings!

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Money Saving Monday: The Big Haul

i-love-saving-money-copyHappy Monday lovelies! Before we get down to business, I invite you to check out my newest page above: Coupoing Goodness. I’ve compiled links to all my couponing posts so they can guide you in your own adventures in saving money while keeping it natural. 🙂

I missed you all last week but given that I was travelling, I used my budget to buy food on-the-go. I grabbed some travel staples (larabars and the like) and easy-to-carry accoutrements since I knew I would be receiving breakfast and lunch each day but wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turned out, the meals were surprisingly adequate!

Anyway, being the end of the month, I slipped into my Couponing SuperStar outfit (which I imagine is pink and sparkly and spandex, of course) and geared up for some great hauls. And ladies and gents – great hauls I had!

Tip of the Week

Make the most of your trips to less frequently visited stores. For those who’ve been following along for a while, you know I used to be a Wegmaniac (Wegmans maniac for those who aren’t familiar). Its relative distance, the lower price of items at Whole Foods, and the consistent;y disappointing selection at the stores close to me, led me to cutting back my trips to about once every six to eight weeks. However, when I got home from my training, I had a $5 of any grocery (aka no produce) purchase of $25 or more coupon waiting. <–Pause: I ❤ coming home to presents! You know I had to use that. So I sat down with my coupons and figured out what were some products I actually could use (beans, yogurt, tissues), what coupons were expiring, and what, of those, would make good deals. A lot of this comes down to knowing prices and the fact that Wegmans doubles coupons. So coupons that gave me okay deals elsewhere are suddenly taken to a new level there. Some of the items I bought were planned splurges (e.g. the coconut milk yogurts and Mary’s Gone crackers). Other things I bought in huge quantities (e.g. beans). But all are things I’ll use and were at rock-bottom prices. I ended up saving 77%! *squee*

Target is another store I visit only occasionally. Knowing that we had no extra dish soap,I jumped at the chance to get Seventh Generation’s for only $0.94 (!). Again, since we don’t go to Target often, I got creative with the other Mobile Coupons (see below for sign-up instructions), using them to get things that, again, I use regularly and would be at rock-bottom prices. $0.04 bananas and $0.49 avocados? Yes, please! Contact solution for less than $3 a bottle? Sure! Dirt cheap toilet paper that I actually really like? Give.it.to.me. Though my savings was only 49% at Target, the trip showed how coupons can be used positively even without items that were on sale.

In short…know your prices, make the most of your trips, and shop smart. 🙂

Meal Plan

Oh my goodness how have I become such a poor meal planner?! Its a combination of having a minimal schedule + the beau’s laissez-faire-ness + his ability to throw meals together on the spot. Oh and heat which has made me crave smoothies, avocado toast, and not much of anything else. There will be lots of greens this week though because as good as the conference food was, it was rather carb-heavy. I’ve never craved veggies quite this much…

Oh and just because this post needs more photos, here are some from the food I enjoyed at training.

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EPIC oats…aka what happens when you let a vegan loose at a buffet bar with about 10 different types of fruit.

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Breakfast buffet + tupperware = so. much. fruit. for my daily afternoon snack.

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Celebratory dinner at Sticky Fingers after completing my training! #nomnomnom

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Money Saving Money: I <3 Whole Foods

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Happy Monday lovelies!  I hope you had a wonderful sunny weekend and scored some mega deals while shopping (*coughKristincough*).  I know I did…between one of my good friends visiting and a super nice sales clerk, this one was a win.  🙂

Tip of the Week

Bring your coupons back and speak up!  Last week I was super disappointed that my Whole Foods didn’t have the latest coupon booklet so I missed out on some sales.  Luckily, WF and many other stores allow you to bring your receipt + the coupons back and get a refund.  I do this all the time.  Sometimes its a last-minute stop and I don’t have my coupons with me.  Sometimes, I just forget I have a coupon for a product.  And other times I’m waiting for the coupons to be reset so I can print more.  Any and all of the above count.

This week however, the simple adjustment went so much better than I could have expected.  Not only did I need to get the $ back for the coupon I also needed to fix one of the items I had purchased which was put in as the wrong price.  When I explained everything to the clerk (I didn’t have the WF coupons with me because I thought the new booklets would be out, etc), he offered to refund me the entire amount for both mistakes due to the store inconveniencing me.  I seriously could have kissed the kid.

So don’t be afraid to bring your coupons back and nicely speak up about mistakes on your receipt.

Meal Plan

So I didn’t do a great job meal planning this week.  I know there will be homemade hummus, massaged kale salad, and  a raw pasta dish at some point but otherwise, I’m going to let creativity + cooking challenges take over.

As usual, there will also be lots of smoothies, avocado toast, and fruit.

Spending Savings

Soap.com: $7.63
Farmers Market: $23
Whole Foods: $19.44
Trader’s: $7

Total: $57.07

Oh this week…we needed toilet paper and hand soap and a bunch of pantry staples plus all of our regular goodies.  And its just me!  So I knew I would spend a little more and planned accordingly.  I was fully prepared to go without the Trader’s trip until that happy little exchange with the WF man.  🙂

Savings

Soap.com: $10.84
Whole Foods: $20.73

Total: $31.57 (55%)

55% essentially means I got twice as much stuff than I paid for.  I’ll take it!

Steals and Deals

Whole Foods

Olivia’s Organic Spring Mix: $4.99 (11 oz)
-$1.00 Olivia’s cpn
=$3.99

Earthbound Farm Arugula: $1.99 (5 oz)
-$0.75 EB Farm cpn
=$1.24

Go Veggie vegan shreds: $2/6 (reg $3.49)
-$1.00 Go Veggie cpn
-$1.00 July/August Whole Deal cpn
=$1.00

Dream non-dairy beverages: $1.99
-$2.00/2 Dream cpn
-2 x $1.00 July/August Whole Deal cpn
=FREE

Until next week…

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

 

Money Saving Monday, City-Style

 

i-love-saving-money-copyHi there lovelies!  Welcome back to another week of Money Saving Monday.  Unlike Project Food Budget, I will never abbreviate the title of this series.  You see, in the public health world MSM = “men who have sex with men.”  So yea…not what these particular posts are about!

Last week was an exciting one for this little couponer.  Why?

  1. I started receiving my newspaper again after 3 weeks without it.  Yay for coupons!  Now if only I can figure out where the heck my mail is…
  2. New July coupons, including a brand spankin’ new Whole DealNeed I say more?
  3. We can officially walk to the Farmers Market.  And we did, despite the 100+ degree heat.  #worthit
  4. All the summer fruit is out.  We have blueberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, and plums for the week. It was essentially a whole new farmers market.  So so good.
  5. Popsicles.  There is this stand that I’ve never seen before.  Vegan, homemade fruit possible with locally-sourced ingredients.  I got cherry dark chocolate chunk; the beau, peach sriracha.  Nom nom nom
  6. I officially started shopping at the downtown Whole Foods.  Ok there were ups (such a better vibe – younger, hipper, and more urban…obviously) and downs (where the heck is the new Whole Deal and don’t you tell me the May/June one is it…come on now folks).  But all in all, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
  7. We learned to never take public transit across town. Our trip to WF took about 2.5 hours…we were int eh store for maybe 45 minutes (and that’s super duper generous).  Mmmm hmmm…. thankfully it was sunny and we had nowhere to be.  And our frozen stuff didn’t completely melt.  <–win

Though most of our shopping was done at the Farmers Market and will continue to be for as long as its open, I wanted to share both a tip and some great deals that we scored at Whole Foods and Walgreens.

Tip of the Week

Haggling at farmers markets is totally ok.  You might not hear a ton of people doing it but I can promise you its happening.  Haggling is especially easy if you go towards the end of the market.  Obviously the risk here is that the selection will be less, but you’ll also likely get the most amount of savings.  Its definitely a tricky balance!  I try to go within the last hour.  By then, the farmers tend to want to get rid of as much stuff as possible so they don’t have to lug it back.  I actually had someone come right out and say this to me yesterday!

By the end of the market, the farmers tend to fall into one of three categories:

  1. Those who automatically discount their prices.
  2. Those who will give you extra produce just because (e.g. you ask for 2 zucchini and they give you 4).
  3. Those who do business as normal and only discount if asked.

This last group is key for haggling.  They’re smart too- since the customer has to initiate the deal, its less likely that the farmer will sell their products for less than they’re priced.

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Money Saving Monday: Eat More, Spend Less Review

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Man what a month it has been!  I travelled a total of 14 days during June and we moved in-between all that craziness!  The beau was gone just as much which means a) we still aren’t completely unpacked and b) we weren’t really doing anything resembling normal grocery shopping.  Since there was only one week when we were here for all of it, we did minimal meal planning and couponing.  It just wasn’t a priority this month.  However, I am super happy to report that despite all of this, we were under budget every single week.  Including splurges.  #win  Just please don’t look at my discretionary spending fund… *whistles*

Anyway, this week there isn’t anything particularly special about our spending.  In addition to the most perfect loaf of bread we picked up in the city, we went to Trader’s on our trip home, bought a handful of things that tickled our fancy (with the plan to go to the store again later in the week) and that was that.  Threw together a greens-grains-beans bowl last night (kale, Bulgar, and chickpeas) and voila!

Instead, this week its a special Money Saving Monday.  A little over a month ago, Emily Levenson, the fab gal behind Project: Food Budget, contacted me to see if I would review her new e-book, Eat More, Spend Less.  Of course I said yes immediately.  I truly loved doing P:FB, both for the challenge and the community.  I learned so much about couponing, self-discipline, meal-planning, my spending habits and motivations, and just being a savvy shopper.  These are the pieces I did my best to weave throughout my P:FB narrative, to inspire you and record my journey.  Therefore, I knew that Emily’s e-book would be a summary of all of that. And in this case, I was right.

Eat More, Spend Less: Mastering the Art of Food Budgeting
By: Emily Levenson, MSW,CHHC

Eat More, Spend Less (EMSL) is the perfect beginner’s guide to food budgeting.  Emily writes with both humor and grace, encouraging readers to have fun with this process and also to forgive themselves on weeks that aren’t “perfect.”  The guide, however, is also a great reminder for those of us who’ve been budgeting for a while now.  Though most of the information was not new to me, it was still good to see so many of hte lessons I’ve learned compiled into one quick read.

At 29 pages, EMSL is  concise and straightforward, all the while providing a plethora of important details and tools.  It is this very mix that makes the book so awesome.  Emily doesn’t just provide instructions on how to, say, set your budget or meal plan, she provides worksheets and examples that guide you through the process.  On ever page I felt like Emily was a spending-savvy girlfriend, guiding me through the maze of food budgeting with patience and without judgment. 

The book itself is divided into six parts:

  • Setting the Stage provides info on why budgeting is important and how it changed Emily’s life.
  • Setting a Budget takes you through the steps to choosing a realistic budget you can (mostly) stick to.
  • Budgeting Tools are the nitty gritty of the book and include tips and tricks for staying on-budget.
  • Budget-Friendly Meals offers guidance on stocking your pantry and a lot more detail on meal planning.
  • Resources include websites and books that will make this process more automatic and simple.
  • Appendix has all your worksheets (tracking your budget, weekly meal plan, etc).

Rather than just give you this information, Emily really narrates a story, one that is directed right at the reader (hence that whole “it feels like I’m hanging with my bestie” vibe).  She doesn’t just write about the benefits of food budgeting, but shares her personal experiences and challenges with it.  The book really goes beyond the basic and heavily discussed ideas about the topic and delves into some reasons that you might not immediately think of.  For example, Emily writes that food budgeting can help build your self-esteem.  Though this wasn’t something I was actively aware of in my own adventures, once I read it I realized that, indeed, setting and rising to a challenge each week was really confidence-boosting!  To that end, I also appreciate the Emily does not shy away from the fact that whenever we’re talking about money, a lot of ‘stuff’ can come up – anger, resentment, guilt, etc.  This fact is acknowledged and the reader is reminded that this is both normal and ok.

In the same spirit, the ‘Tools’ section begins with all your basic, budgeting 101-esque advice.  Meal plan, use a shopping list, buy food in season.  But slowly it shifts to more novel ideas like working splurges into your budget and finding an accountability buddy.  Though unconventional, these tips are so important and vital for budgeting success.  Having my P:FB family was so key for those weeks when I felt I had totally failed or when I just wanted to forget about my budget and go a little cray at the supermarket.   Splurging–on things I’d normally make at home (e.g. hummus) or dessert or the brand I really love–also helps budgeting to feel less restrictive.  And this, ladies and gents, is the second major theme of the book:  budgeting does not have to hurt (too much).  Splurges are good if they are planned.  Going over is ok as long as your overall trajectory is towards spending less.  So on and so forth.

Overall, I’d highly recommend EMSL for anyone who is interested in learning more about food budgeting and/or beginning to budget for themselves.  Between it’s ‘girlfriend guide’ tone and guilt-free message, its the perfect book for exploring the world of saving money on what you eat.  For those who have been in the budgeting world for a while, it might not offer too much new information.  However, as a refresher it is definitely ideal because it reminds readers so well of why they started to budget and what is so awesome about it.  Plus its a gentle nudge to go back to those basic tools that work oh-so-well.

Want your own copy? Eat More, Spend Less can be purchased at Emily’s site for only $8.99!  #bargain

Thank you to Emily for the chance to review this new book and remember why I love couponing and budgeting.  And a special shout-out to my P:FB comrades for all of their continued inspiration and motivation.  You all rock!

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

All views expressed in this post are my own.  A copy of EMSL was provided in exchange for writing a review.