Sharing the Couponing Love…with you!

One of my favorite things about couponing is the chance to get free stuff.  And I don’t mean just at the store…oh no, there’s a ton of companies ready and willing to give out free samples to those who take the time to look.

Luckily for me (and you), Hip2Save does the searching for us.

Though my dedication to couponing waxes and wanes depending on my mood, my coursework, etc, I diligently read Colin’s daily newsletter to see what free samples are up for grabs.  After all, it usually takes about five minutes to read the e-mail and an additional minute to fill in any sample request forms.  Six to eight weeks later, the goodies, which at this point you barely remember requesting, show up in your mailbox.  Its kind of like Christmas/Chanukah come early, dontcha think?  😉

Most of the time the companies giving out the swag allow you to opt-out of their newsletter.  Even if that isn’t the case, there’s always the handy “unsubscribe” button.  And really, at the end of the day, free stuff is worth a minute of your time and the “hassle” *coughcough* of unsubscribing from a newsletter.

Especially when the surprise goodies look like this…

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Cute box…but what’s inside???

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Everything…

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The goodies I kept!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t get the Love with Food box completely free since I had to pay the whopping $2 for shipping but I’d still cal it a win.  😉  Although I couldn’t eat everything in the box, I signed up for the December box because a) it was on sale for only $5 (including shipping) and b) for the months of November and December the company was donating two meals to Sandy victims for every box purchased.  I figured $7 for two months (versus $24) was pretty good.  And those mini crunch things were soooo good!  In fact, they were my favorite goodie in this box.  The juice spruced up some smoothies and the Inca Corn satisfied my PMS. The cookie, on the other hand, was stale-tasting and a huge disappointment.  You win some you lose some, right?

I’ve gotten a ton of other random samples in the meantime…and I must say, there really isn’t anything quite like opening your mailbox to free stuff you forgot you ordered.  It always brings a smile to my day, regardless of how stressful or long or difficult it has been.  And today I’m sharing some of that (holiday) joy with you all!

You see, in the various samples that I’ve gotten there’s undoubtedly been stuff that doesn’t interest me, either because it isn’t vegan, it has caffeine, or I just don’t care for it.  Instead of tossing it or letting the beau take it all (true story: he couldn’t resist the Asian-flavored Turkey Jerky that came in the Love Box <–I know this breaks many hearts, right?! tehe), I figured I would do a mishmash giveaway.

I don’t want to ruin the surprise by telling you exactly what’s coming but I will say there is chocolate, tea, and baking stuff.  <–ok I guess that kind of ruined it but you don’t know the specifics. *evil laugh*

To enter, simply leave a comment below telling me about your ultimate free sample.  Aka if you could receive anything from a company, what would it be?  The contest ends on Thursday, Dec 13 at 11:59 EST.  A winner will be chosen at random.  *Not all products are vegan.

Now since its the Holiday season and I’m the only person in my apartment complex with a Christmas tree up <–#wishIwerejoking I figured I share my little slice of Christmas spirit with you all.  It isn’t much, but it makes me ridiculously happy.

Christmas 2012 (2)

And finally…a sneak peak at my first speaking event!  This past Saturday I partnered with Johns Hopkins’ Center for Health Education and Wellness (CHEW) to present at the first ever Panhellenic Council aka sorority council) Wellness Day.  I had a blast and am excited to be working with CHEW on a number of future events.  I am so grateful for the opportunity and the day really reaffirmed my love for public speaking & performing <–because isn’t every public speaking event a bit of a performance?  I think so! as well as for working with women to create change.  It was a great day and I can’t wait until February’s events.

Leading a yoga-inspired gratitude exercise.

Leading a yoga-inspired gratitude exercise.

Now that I’ve totally distracted you…don’t forget to enter the giveaway by telling me about your ultimate free sample!  😉

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Love with Food or Hip2Save.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

My favorite thing about Public Health…

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… is the fact that so many of these ideas which I held to be “on the fringe” … the dangers of chemicals in our food and consumer products, the idea that our egos chooses beliefs in an attempt protect us, the concept of writing down our desired outcome and having our actions adjust accordingly, and subconsciously … have long been accepted in this field.  These truly are my people.  And though I might take some of the ideas off to a more extreme place (specifically some of the persuasive communication theories I’m learning about), there’s something powerful to be said for a scientific-minded individual such as myself to finally be handed an abundance of evidence supporting that which she holds dear.  I can’t say I hate it.  😉

Saying Goodbye to Tom: Thoughts on “Natural” Brands

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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.

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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.

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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.

My First Zumba Class

 

Just over three years ago, a friend told me about this dance fitness class she totally loved.  The teacher was amazing and I just had to try it.  So I gave it a go…and I was instantly hooked.  In fact I loved that class so much that when the instructor moved to a gym 45 minutes away, I continued to commute until she stopped teaching.  When I travelled, I searched for classes to attend, always judging it against the amazingness of my first instructor.  It took time, but eventually I found Tami’s class and, to this day, anytime I’m home it is expected that I stop in for at least one class…and usually many more.

I toyed with becoming an instructor back in 2009 but decided to start Passion by Kait instead, feeling it would be a better investment.  Clearly, I don’t regret this decision for the life of me!  When I received my Hopkins acceptance, though, and after many more negative Zumba experiences (shout out to Amy for being a light in a very dark time), I decided it was time.  After all, life as a grad student meant that any form of income was a good thing.  And getting paid to do a workout I normally would pay for?  That sounded like the sweetest income of all.

This past May I woke up early and headed to MA to become a licensed instructor.   The plan was to contact gyms and dance studios before moving to Baltimore so that I could begin getting paid to workout.  <–Are you seeing a pattern?  I love getting paid to do the things I love…like party, talk about sex, and dance my a$$ off.  Except the Universe had other plans and I couldn’t find work.  Gyms either weren’t hiring or I never heard back from group ex instructors.  After numerous attempts I would give up…then get frustrated and try again.  This paid off and I was given a job subbing for the grad school’s gym.

Last night I taught my first class.  My entire body aches.  I have blisters all over my feet.  And I spent two days full of nervous, frenetic energy.  Would they like my style?  What if they were disappointed?  What if I messed up?  I knew it was all in my head but try as I might I couldn’t shake the nerves.  Until I got to class…and expressed my nerves…and was accepted…and encouraged.

I messed up.  I tripped at one point.  I didn’t even have my regular sneakers!  And I loved every damn second of it.  No one cared that at one point I totally blanked on every bit of choreography…no one knew when I subbed in different moves than I had planned…and everyone left sweaty and smiling, the way they should.

I knew I would have fun but what I didn’t expect was to look back halfway through class and find myself grinning with pride.  I was doing an act of service, perhaps the highest act ever: offering health and vitality and de-stressing and fun.  I found myself encouraging people to keep going…to trust in their bodies’ strength…to take it down and listen to their bodies when they needed to.  And at one point when every footfall was perfectly in sync and all you could hear where foot taps, bass, and deep breathing…I was one with the Universe.

I am so proud of myself, mess-ups and all.  And when a first time student came up to tell me how much fun she had, how easy I was to follow, and how great the class was…well that was a feeling no words can quite describe.  It was a perfect moment and I plan on holding that close as finals loom this upcoming week.  For now, I’m going to just let the pride and joy continue to fill me up as my smile stays big and my heart, content.  And I’m going to keep on reaching out for subbing and job positions because I cannot wait to do it again!

What was the last scary-but-fun thing you did?

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Starting Anew

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First term is over.

Finals week was…tumultuous to say the least. I’ve never studied so hard or stayed at school so late before. But I pulled it all off and am happy to report that I ended summer term with a solid GPA. While I’m not letting myself get hung-up on grades, for $60k, I’m also not going to pretend that they aren’t important. In other words, while I’m shooting for all A’s, I’m not getting hung up on the process of getting them. At the end of the day, the connections I make with classmates are way more important.

I’m currently at my mom’s for a couple of days before doing a somewhat whirl-wind tour de New England. UConn, Worcester, UConn, Bethel, mom’s, NYC. *whew* In between I’ll be working on B School projects and finishing up (finally) Brothers & Sisters. I’ll also be doing a lot of soul searching.

I haven’t talked much hear about the trials of living outside of the city. You read about my adventures in taking the bus but even then I only hinted at my general unhappiness. In short, I feel distant and disconnected. I know I’m missing out on spontaneous adventures and group bonding. I also know there’s a lesson I’m supposed to learn. <;;–at least now I do.

Let me explain. Yesterday morning I went to my Zumba class at home. About 3/4 of the way through I was overwhelmed with this sense of belonging…of being part of something bigger than myself…of being exactly where I belonged (despite the exhaustion and general body achiness that comes from 7 hour drive). And I realized something else: I haven’t felt that way in Baltimore since my very first visit.

That realization almost knocked my off my feet. The tears came later but the emotion was raw. Plain and simple, I feel like I don’t belong. It’s not the people, it’s not the program, its the fact that I don’t have a community to call my own. I still haven’t found a yoga studio that fits me, I don’t have a job teaching Zumba…hell I hadn’t even danced in over 2 months! I do have amazing friends…almost all of whom live in the city or, if they are commuters, travel because they didn’t want to leave the community they already had.

And then there’s me…not quite the DC commuter, not quite the Baltimorean.

But I’ve spent weeks bitching and moaning about this…and I already told my landlord that I wanted out of my lease. I’ve looked at scores more apartments…I fell in love with one only to have someone else apply for it first. It broke my heart open wide. And all of this led to yesterday’s Zumba and the question I’ve been avoiding: will moving even matter?

Is it the 9-miles-that-feel-like-100 separating me from people or is it, well, me? <;;–or more precisely, my ego trying to hold onto the comfortable-yet-effed-up “I’m lonely” story. Until finals week, I would zoom home at the end of every day to go to yoga (at a studio that I don’t love) and then I’d stay home, regardless of whether other things were happening. When I started sticking around, I stopped feeling so alone. When I finally said yes to the sleepover offers, I realized people really did want me around and that no, I wasn’t an inconvenience.

So instead of focusing on getting out…running away, I’m turning inward. I’ve wasted too much of first term focusing on the negatives of my situation…and let a so many of the lessons I already learned fall to the wayside. My body, mind, and spirit suffered as a result. So now I’m shifting my mindset from one of blame and anger and resentment and disappointment and loneliness to one of openness…to the lessons I’m meant to learn, to the beauty in my space (because really my apartment itself does kind of rock), and to the growth I know I’m undergoing. I’m choosing to release, trust, believe, and forgive.

Not only because its easier <;;–albeit far from easy than carrying around the weight that is negative emotions, but also because I do believe that the best possible outcome will result. Now I just need to be ready for that outcome, regardless of if its what I’m expecting. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to look at apartments or take mine off the market…it does mean that I’ll re-shift my focus to caring for me, to making more of an effort, and to stop complaining about my situation and start LIVING again.

And yes, there will be a whole lot of dancing involved…I’ve got a bit of time to make up for.

Yoga/beauty/life,

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.

https://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 😀

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. 

A Food Discovery: Coconut Banana Oat Bran

Ok so I realize the title of the post is unnervingly vague.  I hope it did its job and drew you in!  😉

A while back I stocked up on some free oatsAnd I mean a lot of free oats.  I’m sad to report that five months later I’m finally coming to the end of my stash.  That being said, I had a container of oat bran staring me in the fact that I had gotten on a whim because hey…it was free.  Now I’ve tried Mama Pea’s oat bran recipe and didn’t love it but for some reason that darn container was calling my name last night.  So I listened.

And I’m so happy I did.  The result was this bowl of deliciousness (seriously can anyone make oat bran look amazing?).  Yes the inclusion of pb & j ab & j may seem odd but I figured coconut tastes good with just about everything so what the heck.

Also, in case you were wondering…Thursday is oatmeal-for-dinner night.  I go to a late yoga class and usually don’t eat until around 10 pm so I want something comforting and, well, not veggie-filled.  Its my version of thirsty Thursday but, IMO, way better.  <–yes I realize that made no sense.  Just roll with it folks.  😉

Banana Coconut Oat Bran

1/3 c oat bran
1/2 c milk of choice
1/2 c water
1 small banana (or 1/2 a large one)
1-2 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp+ ground ginger
1 tsp+ vanilla
1 Tbsp nut butter (optional)
1 Tbsp jelly/jam/preserves (optional)

  1. I prepare all my oats using Kath’s life-changing method.  It involves the 1:1 ratio of milk:water and cooking the banana in.  Follow her all the way up until she does the add ins.
  2. Once you remove your oats from heat add in coconut, ginger, and vanilla and mix it in, tasting to see if you want more.
  3. Top with nut butter and jam if you desire.

I wouldn’t suggest trying this with regular oats.  I’ve found the addition of shredded coconut gives them a really weird taste and so I’ve stayed away from that combo since once bad day.. 😉  With the oat bran though, the coconut blends in seamlessly, leaving you with nothing but pure deliciousness and the perfect texture.

As a random aside, some alternative dieticians believe that banana and coconut are great ways to help tighten the lower esophageal sphincter aka the muscle at the base of your esophagus that sometimes allows bile to come up and cause heartburn.  I try to stock up on these two items.  Placebo effect or not, I’m happy to oblige. 

Have wonderful weekends everyone!  Mine involves a garden party, grocery shopping + cooking, and lots of studying for my next midterm.

Yoga/beauty/mmmmm,

Kait xo

 

A Simple Guide to Whole Foods Couponing

Source

***UPDATE*** Whole Foods recently released a Corporate Coupon Policy!  This is super good news because all stores, no matter where you are, follow the same rules.  And its the most inclusive policy out of the ones they used to have.  As usual, I suggest printing and having it with you when you shop.

***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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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
  2. 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.

FAQs

  1. 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.
  2. 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.  😉
  3. 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.
  4. Are there any couponing “rules” I should know about?  Here’s a crash course in Couponing etiquetteBe 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.
  5. 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.  😉
  6. 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.  😉

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 41

Happy Thursday lovelies. 🙂 I’m writing this post on-the-go so I apologize if there are any errors. I’m not totally used to writing posts on my phone! Probably because I’ve never done it before….

Anyway, this is week one of the cleanse and boy did I miscalculate my food needs. I ended up making two extra trips I the grocery store just for more greens. I kind of forgot how much I consume during the cleanse! Add into that the fact that I’ve been eating more to fuel my hardworking brain and … well you guessed it, I went over a bit again. Thankfully when I budgeted for the year, I did $200/month which actually works out to be a closer to $50/wk so I’m still ok and, to me, that is what counts as I continue acclimating to my new lifestyle. 🙂

I don’t have any photos of the food I made on my phone but I don’t want to leave you without anything to feast your eyes on so I figured I’d tempt you with some delightful dishes I’ve eaten over the past few weeks. Apparently I can’t insert these wherever do keep on scrolling to indulge your senses! 😉

Spending Savings

Whole Foods:$9.58
Wegmans:$25.95
Trader’s:$11.88
Farmer’s Market:$9.50

Total Spending:$56.41

Of that I saved about $15.00.

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The best “MD Freak Storm” dish ever: sauteed arugula, Thai sticky rice, and homemade refried beans.

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Fried deliciousness at Sticky Rice.

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Veg sushi at Sticky Rice.

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Decidedly not-vegan brownie trio from a wine bar in Fell’s Point.

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Burrito with grilled plantains + summer squash + corn from Golden West.

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Curry falafel sandwich from the Gypsy Queen food truck.

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo