How Much do You Spend on Groceries?

In the past I’ve created posts explaining the USDA Food Plan Costs so you can get an idea of how much people spend for food individually and as a family. While I do know a few people who spend less than the thrifty food plan, this seems to be spot on most weeks for me.

I do aspire to the thrifty food plan, which was $38.00 February 2019, but sometimes I go above, spending closer to the low-cost plan of $47.20 a week. Mind you, I do buy some organic, non-gmo items, and I’m still learning to do this in the most affordable way possible. I want to point out that I do a stock up trip with my tax refund where I spend an additional $100 to $150 in one trip, but the food lasts a long time.

During years when my parents grow food, my overall average has gone down significantly. When I have a place where I can garden I plan to grow most of my own produce and herbs, but I am not there yet.

Here are some ways I save money on food:

  • I grow some of my own organic herbs and dry or freeze them for later use. Parsley and mint are two of them.
  • I have chives growing out at my mothers. When I visit, I cut some and bring it home to freeze. This is an absolute freebie for me.
  • I make some things from scratch, such as Paleo pizza crusts, muffins, and tortillas, as well as the occasional dessert.
  • I make my own fruit sauces.
  • I coupon minimally. It’s hard to find coupons for most of what I buy.
  • I try to buy when on sale.
  • I accept fresh produce and eggs from anyone who wants to give them to me.
  • I freeze small bits of food to add to smoothies, soups, and other things later on.
  • I snag good buys at farmer’s markets at the end of the day/season.
  • I comparison shop. Sometimes, but not always, I can find better deals online.

What I don’t mind spending extra money on.

  • Organic, Maine-made honey.
  • Organic, Maine or Vermont-made maple syrup and cream.
  • Organic, locally canned pickled beets when my parents don’t make them.
  • Organic olive oil, coconut oil, and ghee.
  • Almond and coconut flours.
  • Enjoy Life chocolate chips.

I don’t buy a lot of these more expensive items, but I do like to have them on hand once in a while. Sometimes I like to make something special.

How does your spending compare to the amounts given for February?

Shannon

Dirty Dozen & Clean 15, And Me

I assume since you are here, you’re trying to eat healthy/ier, as I am. Each year I read the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list to see where things stand. I always hope for the best, and I’m always dismayed at the amount of pesticides in our food.

Today was no different. I had the opportunity to sit down and read the article, and take a look at the study. I updated my lists in the Memo section of my phone (so I have them when I’m shopping), and was reminding of how much I want to live in a place where I can grow my food. I’m hoping my parents actually get back into this after my step-father retires. It’s been a couple of years since they’ve done their garden, but I’m guessing they’ll be back at it next spring. Or hoping.

What does this mean for me? I have to be careful of:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach (I eat a lot of this!)
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery

I eat a lot of those foods. The others on the list aren’t eaten often, but I will have to keep them in mind so I am prepared. I’ve listed all 12 on my Yuck! list in my phone, and all the Clean 15 on my Yum! list. I’m so excited to have avocado, pineapple, and cabbage on my Yum! list, as well as honey-dew and cantaloupe. I hate that I have to spend more to get the organic versions of the other items I want. I can’t always afford to, but I try to when possible.

Are you changing the way you eat to accommodate these lists? Let us know how in the comments.

Happy spring!

Shannon

 

 

Cucumber-Banana Smoothie

Cucumbers are a great addition to most smoothies. Their water content is high, so you might not need as much milk in this recipe as you do in others. Use what greens are in season. You’ll save money if you grow them yourself. Use organic ingredients whenever you can.

This recipes uses leftover ingredients from other recipes. Another great way to save money and create less waste.

Ingredients

vanilla almond milk

1 handful of greens – kale, chard, baby spinach

10 cucumber slices

1 egg

6 banana slices

5 watermelon chunks

  1. Place everything except the vanilla almond milk into a blender.
  2. Cover and blend until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla almond milk a little at a time and blend, until the smoothie is at the desired consistency.
  4. Pour into a tall glass.
  5. Add a straw and enjoy!

Tips

  • Save money by using leftovers, and by purchasing produce in season.
  • Switch up ingredients for different flavors.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with breakfast or as a snack.

Enjoy!

Shannon

 

 

Quick Tip: Save Money on Herbs & Spices

A while back I wrote a quick tip for you on growing your own herbs, but there are other ways you can save money on these delectable additions to meals. First, go through your pantry and see what you have. Make note of which herbs and spices you use the most of, and which you use very little of.

  • Decide what items you can grow organically on a windowsill.
  • Learn how to freeze and dry what you do grow.
  • Figure out exactly what you have to buy, and find out where you can buy the organic versions affordably.
  • Find others who also use only a little of the herbs and spices that you use little of. Are they willing to go in on the cost of those items with you and split them? Or maybe someone uses more than you do but would be willing to give you what you need at little cost.
  • Or maybe your mom will be awesome and give you just what is required of those particular items, for the recipes you will be making ❤

Growing your own and going in on the cost with others can be huge money savers.

If you find you haven’t even opened something in the last year give it away and don’t bother getting it again.

While we want to save money in this area – and possibly save huge – it is also important that you buy or grow organically. By doing so, you will get top nutritional benefits. And the organic versions taste so much better!

Shannon

 

Review: Beetology Juices + How to Reuse the Bottles

When I was contacted about trying the Beetology juices by Kayco, I was skeptical at best. The thought of beets as a juice base just did not seem appealing. But I had them send me a few juices to try, because I’m all into trying more and more healthy things, and I’m so glad I did.

These juices are organic, 100% cold pressed. I’m looking more toward organic as I move forward with my nutrition goals (as my budget allows), so this pleased me right off the bat. I also like that they are not from concentrate, something else I look for when I want juice. They are non-GMO project verified as well, which is also plus.

Another benefit is the lack of preservatives and additives. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want those types of things in my fruit servings. And there are no artificial flavorings or colors.

It really is the color of beets.

Beetology juices are certified fair trade.

I tried these five flavors:

  • beet + cherry
  • beet + berry
  • beet + veggie
  • beet + lemon + ginger
  • beet + tropical fruit

While I enjoyed them all, my favorites were the beet + cherry and the beet + berry. They really pleased my taste buds!

Sadly, this product is not yet sold near me. However it is sold in Portland, I will have to buy a few bottles the next time I visit Zowie’s family. I don’t drink a lot of juice, so one bottle would last me three servings – about what I would drink in a week’s time.

Now, the suggested retail price for this juice is $3.99 per 8.45 fluid ounce bottle, but I consider this a good price for me for a few reasons:

  1. I don’t drink juice often enough for the price to make a huge dent in my budget, and I know I’ll get three servings from each bottle.
  2. They are a source of nutrients my body needs.
  3. I can reuse the bottles for short-term food storage.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright August 2017.

Check out the bottles in the picture above. They are made of sturdy, thick glass, and can be used for short-term storage of food items and liquids. I removed the labels (an easy task that took little time) and washed the bottles and covers well, then allowed them to air dry.

I had bags of partially used food items that I decided would look better if they were in these cute little bottles. The bags look so messy, I wanted a better look in there because I’ve been organizing the small closet in my room to serve as a pantry.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright August 2017.

Here you can see where I put unsweetened coconut flakes in one bottle, dried cranberries in the second, and dried berries in the third. These are going to work just fine to store smaller portions of foods and liquids, and look much better in my little pantry space than those bags of food did.

Because I now have five of these bottles, I no longer need to go out and buy containers for this specific purpose.

How would you reuse the bottles?

Shannon

 

Shrimp Scampi Salad

Salads are common fare during the spring and summer months, as we try to eat lighter after a winter of hearty meals. Experimenting with different combinations of foods keeps our meals new and exciting. I don’t know about you, but I get so bored with food after a while I need to break out and try something different or I wont feel like eating at all.

This recipe is super-easy, and is so good. I use the same recipe for shrimp scampi that I used to make Lettuce Wraps: Shrimp Scampi & Veggies. As a matter-of-fact, I used leftover shrimp from the scampi made for that meal with no loss of flavor.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuck

What a beautiful salad! How about making one for yourself.

Ingredients

about a dozen shrimp from the scampi recipe (I used the one from Paleoplan.com) (Hot or cold. does not matter.)

2 romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed, patted dry, and shredded

a little cabbage, shredded

3 slices cucumber, cut in fourths

3 slices zucchini, cut in fourths

7 or 8 sugar snap or snow pod peas

4 baby carrots, diced

  1. Layer the vegetables on your plate, however you like.
  2. Top with the shrimp scampi and a little of the sauce from the pan.
  3. Enjoy!

I try to use mainly organic vegetables when possible, though sometimes cost trumps everything.

This is a good-size salad, so I count it as a main meal.

Tips

  • Use whatever vegetables you can get affordably to save money.
  • Try different types of seafood.

Serving Suggestions

What are your favorite salad recipes?

Shannon

 

Lettuce Wraps: Keepin’ it Veggie

I’ve wanted to get away from eating the heavier foods of winter, and back into eating lighter fare. I’m switching things out as I can, now that the winter stocks are almost depleted. The last shopping trip netted me many fresh fruits and vegetables at a reasonable cost. I love it when I can pull that off. The only meat I bought was shrimp, and I have a few recipes coming up for that. (So come back often this month to see what else is on the site!)

But this recipe is strictly vegetables. If you’re wondering about protein, this recipe does provide that, and many other nutrients. Meats aren’t the only foods you can get protein from, thank goodness. I don’t always want meat. As a matter-of-fact, the reason I made these wraps was because I wasn’t into eating meat on that particular day.

I just wanted my veggies!

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuck

Don’t these wraps look good? Try them for yourself!

Ingredients

(For two wraps.)

2 romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry with a towel

shredded green cabbage

4 cucumber slices

4 zucchini slices

  1. Place the wraps flat on a plate.
  2. Sprinkle shredded cabbage over the wraps.
  3. Cut the cucumber and zucchini slices into fourths.
  4. Top the cabbage with the cucumber and zucchini.
  5. Enjoy!

It’s that simple. These wraps are so versatile they can be used as sides or snacks, or could even count as a whole meal.

Tips

  • Use different types of leaf lettuce each time you make these.
  • Try different types of vegetables, such as broccoli.
  • Add some sliced strawberry for a sweet kick.
  • Use leftover veggies to lower the cost.

Serving Suggestions

Share your veggie wrap ideas with us.

Shannon

 

Fruit and Chocolate Trail Mix

I don’t eat snacks often but, when I do, I’m trying to make healthy choices. These mixes can be placed in small jars and stored in the pantry, so you can quickly grab one when putting together a meal for work or when you want a snack.

Trail mixes are easy to make, and allow me to use up leftovers from other cooking ventures. The chocolate chips are not Paleo, but they are organic – as are the other ingredients.

Ingredients

( 4 (8 ounce) servings)

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup chocolate chips

2/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds

2/3 cup dried cranberry and blueberry mix

2/3 cup slice almond and dried cranberry mix

  1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands.
  2. Divide between four 8 ounce canning jars.
  3. Cover and place in the pantry.

Notes

  • Use different types of seeds, nuts, and dried fruit, for variation.

Serving suggestions

Shannon

 

 

 

 

Do You Drink Milk? What Kind?

Rarely do I ever drink cows milk. I’d be more apt to if I could get raw, organic milk, but I cannot. So I bet I drink about a gallon a year… mostly because I like the occasional milkshake. I do drink other organic milks, and am planning to learn to make Paleo ‘milk’ shakes at some point.

Expensive? Yes. Well, sort of. Years ago, when I used to buy cows milk at the store, I’d drink some at each meal and sometimes with snacks. I’d bake with it, and cook with it.

I don’t use any kind of milk that much any more. I don’t even drink a whole cup every day. If I did, it would be far too expensive at almost $3.00 per half-gallon.

How do I Use Milk Alternatives?

  • A few times a week I might have a cup with a meal.
  • I use it in smoothies, but not every day.
  • I use it when baking, which I do not do often.

What kinds of milk do I use?

  1. Almond
  2. Soy (when no others are available) (not often)
  3. Coconut
  4. Rice

I want to try other types as well.

What kinds of milk do you use? And how do you use them?

Let us know in the comments below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I respond to all emails.

Shannon

 

Smoothie Bowls

I recently received samples of Leap Organic Instant Smoothie Bowl Powders from their team. They want to get the word out to a wider range of people about their products, and I agreed to try these powders and write about my experiences.

I was more than happy to help. I love smoothies, and have toyed with the idea of trying smoothie bowls for a while now. This is the beginning of my smoothie bowl journey, and I’m planning more combinations in 2017. I’ll be sure to post all recipes here.

When the packets arrived, I read them over front and back. They contain many ingredients that are healthy. Depending on what package is used, you’ll see they contain things such as pea protein, kale, pomegranate, hemp, coconut, goji, spinach, apple, and pineapple. Notice the superfoods. This means that important nutrients are packed into each powder packet, like protein, Omega – 3, fiber, and a bunch of vitamins your body needs to function properly. Learn more about what ingredients go into the powder here. The point of a smoothie bowl is to pack a lot of nutrients into one meal.

According to the site, these powders are gluten-free, vegan, and kosher. They also do not contain dairy or soy, and are non-GMO. I noticed on the site that you can order samples for the cost of shipping. $3.00 and some change. So if you want to try the powders, now is a good time.

A bonus of the LEAP Organic Instant Smoothie Bowl Powders is that you can stock up on them and store in the pantry. They will last quite some time, and can be used in many ways. (Read more about this below.)

Here are the smoothie bowl combinations I’ve tried so far:

Red Power Bowl with Banana Slices

Photograph byShannon L. Buck copyright November 17, 2016.6 ounces chocolate almond milk

1/2 packet of Leap Red Power powder

1 egg

1 large banana, peeled

sprinkling of slivered almonds

  1. Pour the 6 ounces of almond milk into a blender and add the Red Power powder, an egg, and 1/2 of the banana.
  2. Blend until mixed, then pour into a bowl.
  3. Top with sliced banana and slivered almonds.

Blue Zeal Bowl with Banana and Pear

6 ounces coconut milk

1/2 packet LEAP Organic Blue Zeal powder

1 egg

1 large banana, peeled

1 pear, cored

2 Tbsp. organic, unsweetened coconut flakes

  1. Pour the 6 ounces of coconut milk into a blender and add the Blue Zeal powder, an egg, 1/2 of the banana, and 1/2 the pear.
  2. Blend until mixed, then pour into a bowl.
  3. Top with sliced banana, diced pear, and the organic, unsweetened coconut flakes.

Blue Zeal Bowl with Grapes and Kiwi

Photograph byShannon L. Buck copyright November 17, 2016.6 ounces vanilla almond milk

1/2 packet LEAP Organic Green Revive powder

1 egg

1 small banana

1 kiwi

12 grapes, halved

a sprinkling of slivered almonds

  1. Pour the 6 ounces of vanilla almond milk into a blender and add the Green Revive powder, an egg, and the banana.
  2. Blend until mixed, then pour into a bowl.
  3. Top with sliced kiwi, halved grapes, and the slivered almonds.

You may have noticed that I only used half a packet each time I made a smoothie bowl. That amount is plenty filling for me, when adding other ingredients, and I want to be able to experiment with other uses as well. I’m thinking I can sprinkle the powder on other foods, or add it into other recipes, throughout the winter, to add some much-needed nutrients when funds are low.

Some of what I plan to do:

  • Sprinkle on my oatmeal bowls.
  • Add to my Paleo brownie batter.
  • Add to my Paleo muffin batter.
  • Add to my Paleo cookie dough.
  • Sprinkle over hot cocoa.

Have you used this product yet? What are your impressions? In what other ways can you think of to use the powders? Comment below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

Shannon