Category Archives: Shopping

Buying in bulk

In thinking about my food purchases lately, I realized that I have been spending more than I originally had planned to spend on groceries for my honey and me. I attribute this to a lot of things, but the main one is that I buy healthy, whole, real foods, and a lot of organic ones at that. It can really add up!

In an effort to reduce my spending, I’ve done quite a bit of bulk shopping for foods lately. It’s amazing how much money you can save by doing this! Plus, there is an abundance of healthy food you can buy in bulk if you know where to look.

Here’s a list of items I’ve bought in the past month, where I bought them, and any savings I’ve had by doing it. If you’re not already buying in bulk, I highly recommend it!!

Local grocery store purchases

  • Organic Golden Flax Seed from the bulk bins– $2.29 per pound. Compare to Bob’s Red Mill- $3.99 per pound. The bulk bin is directly across from Bob’s Red Mill products, so it took me awhile to actually find out that I could buy them in bulk. I use flax seed in some way every day, so I definitely need to save on it in any way I can!
  • Organic Brown Rice from the bulk bins– $0.59 per pound! I love having brown rice on hand when I need to bulk up a meal, so this is a cheap way for me to buy it.
  • Fruit to freeze- last week at my store, Mangoes and Kiwi were on sale. I loaded up on them and chopped and froze them for smoothies.
  • Organic Baby Spinach- $5.99 for 16oz. If I’m eating a lot of salads this will only last me a week or so, but I have been using it mostly for smoothies lately so it has lasted maybe two weeks. I plan to stock up next time they have a sale and freeze the spinach in cubes like Amy suggested for kale.
Online purchases
  • Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil 32oz– buy one get one free- $40. This is top of the line coconut oil, that’s why it is so expensive. I probably would never spend that much on this stuff without this deal. However, the two times I’ve bought a 16oz jar at the grocery store, it has been nearly $1 per ounce…so this is actually much cheaper and a better deal since I’m getting 64oz for $40! Plus, coconut oil has so many excellent health benefits, to me it is worth it to buy.
  • Pamela’s Baking Mix– 12lbs (three 4lb bags) for $32.51 on Amazon with Subscribe and Save (Thanks Mindy for recommending it!). I bought one 4lb bag at Whole Foods this summer for $16, so this was a HUGE savings!

Costco: I love Costco. I am always surprised to find such healthy foods in bulk there. Especially when they are organic! My most recent finds are:

  • Organic Peanut Butter two-pack: $8.75 for 56oz. I was paying $3.99 or $4.99 for 16oz at my regular grocery store…never again! The great thing is, it tastes really good too!!!
  • Grass-fed ground beef: $4.66/lb. I can find organic ground beef at my grocery store for $4.99 and maybe sometimes $4.79, but it is not grass-fed. Plus, at Costco you have to buy 3 pounds at a time, so I can plan ahead with meals or just always keep one on hand for quick marinara sauce or chili.
  • Organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs: $3.99/lb. I can find these much cheaper in my grocery store, but they have the skin and bones. I don’t mind the skin and bones, so I might only pick them up at Costco if I want to use the meat for something other than just eating it straight off the plate (like for chili or chicken salad).
  • Organic quinoa: Under $10 for 4lbs! This bag probably lasted me nearly a year. A little bit of quinoa goes a long way!
  • Quaker Oats: $6.99 for 10lbs. TEN POUNDS! That is quite a steal. And to answer your question, no I do not buy gluten-free oats. I have found that I do not have any side effects or issues from eating regular Quaker oats, so I’m going to stick with them since they are so cheap.
  • Walnuts: $13 for 3lbs. I eat walnuts pretty much every day in some form or fashion, so I only buy them at Costco. They are $8.99/lb at my grocery store, so it is a huge savings. I’m excited for the fall though….our walnut tree in our yard produced this year!!
  • Kirkland brand Nut & Seed and Nut & Fruit Granola bars– even though I make my own granola bars a lot of the time, I find that my honey needs more than that each day, so I read all of the labels of the granola bars Costco offered and these were the healthiest. No weird oils, no high-fructose corn syrup, lower sugar, no soy, wheat-free, and seriously delicious. I plan on making my own version of the Nut & Seed one soon!
As you can probably tell, I shop at lots of different places in order to get the best deals on the healthy foods I like to buy. I’m glad that I have that option, but I also buy online when I know I can get things for cheaper that way.

I also plan to stock up at the Farmer’s Market tomorrow on certain items. One thing I will definitely be buying in bulk tomorrow is butternut squash! I made another batch of my Butternut Squash Pancakes yesterday and I know I will be making them more and more as the fall comes into full swing because they are just that good 🙂 I’m also going to look for sweet potatoes, white potatoes and carrots too!

Do you buy in bulk? What do you buy? Have you gotten a good deal on healthy food recently? From where?

One Recipe Tuesday?

It was Farmer’s Market today again 🙂 I didn’t get as much this week because I still had some leftover squash at home. This week it was eggs, garlic, watermelon and peaches! I’m so excited to have peaches again 😀 I really meant to take pics at the market this morning, but I forgot again! Next week, I promise I’ll get some because it is beautiful!

I also picked up some homemade kombucha, which is a fermented tea. In this case, it was oolong and rooibos tea. I’ve been reading about other bloggers drinking this, plus my chiropractor suggested it, so I decided to pick up two bottles today. At $3 a pop, they definitely aren’t cheap! The flavor is very interesting and it took me awhile to get through the bottle and I actually didn’t finish it today! I don’t feel any different after drinking it (which a lot of people say they do!), so we’ll see if I end up buying it again.

I was planning on sharing both my pasta salad and my potato salad recipes that I made this weekend, BUT I failed to take a picture of either of them….

So instead, I am sharing a recipe I made up tonight to go with my leftover chicken!

Cheesy Squashy Quinoa

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup chicken stock (plus a little water)
  • diced zucchini
  • diced yellow squash
  • 1/4 roasted butternut squash
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese

1. Start by mixing the chicken stock and quinoa in a saucepan.

2. Heat over high heat to a boil. Simmer until the little white things spring out (so technical, right?).

3. Add a little water to the pan and throw in the zucchini and squash and cover with a lid to steam the veggies a little bit.

4.Meanwhile, pulse the roasted butternut squash in a food processor until finely chopped.

5. Add the butternut squash to the saucepan and mix well.

6. Season with salt and pepper, then grate in Parmesan cheese to taste.

Enjoy with the most fabulous leftover chicken ever!!! Oh, you don’t have any?? I do! But I won’t be sharing because seriously it is that good 🙂

Thanks for the suggestions for detoxing! I’m pretty similar in that I am including lots of veggies in my meals, staying away from added sugars. Also, resisting the urge to devour tortilla chips has been tough, but rewarding. I’m feeling phenomenal today!

On the menu today was the following:

Breakfast

Oatmeal with walnuts, flax seed and rasp-, black-, and blueberries

Glass of raw milk

Snack

Protein Balls

Larabar (before my noontime workout)

Lunch

Spinach salad with carrots, apples, chicken, and walnuts

Carrots and peanut butter

Snack

Apple

Yogurt

Dinner

See yummy pic above 🙂

I made enough quinoa so I can have leftovers tomorrow for lunch, so I know I’ll be set with that. I’m also about to finish making my triple nut crunch granola bars!!

Have you ever tried kombucha? What do you think of it?

Fresh food

I don’t really have two recipes that I’m ready to share today, so I figured I’d just show you my yummy fresh food from the farmer’s market and a new grocery store near my work!

First up, the farmer’s market. It never disappoints!!

A bag of red potatoes to make Jenna’s potato salad, carrots, a squash that I don’t know the name of, small yellow squash, yellow zucchini and green zucchini, cherry tomatoes, two ears of corn (to grill for dinner tonight!), a bulb of garlic, a pound of ground beef for burgers tonight, and finally, a sprite. It is a sweet melon that has more of a crunchy texture than honeydew or cantaloupe. It is VERY different from the crenshaw melon I got last week but really good!

Onto the Food Co-Op. My first trip there was during lunch today with a group I’m working with for the year on a big campus-wide project (I’ll post more about it tomorrow). The Co-op just opened about a month ago and it is fabulous!! Bulk bins galore, organic local produce, brand name organic products that you’d find at Whole Foods, a small salad bar, local cheeses, to-go items from local restaurants. Do you know what the greatest thing was though? The peanut butter machine!!!! You just flip the switch and the whole peanuts get ground up into extremely fresh peanut butter 🙂 It’s not as creamy as packaged brands; it’s almost the consistency of Reese’s PB- YUM! Plus, I paid only $2 for nearly 2 cups- perfect for my granola bars! They also had an almond butter one, but that will have to wait until next time!

The goods: two cans of tomatoes with green chiles to make my salsa, a can of garbanzo beans to make Julie’s protein ball recipe, celery for the aforementioned potato salad, colby jack and ricotta cheese for upcoming recipes, broccoli, and of course the PB!!

I feel like I don’t really need to go to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods since I have such great food options so close! Thank goodness for the farmer’s market being open on Tuesday mornings, otherwise I would not be able to get all of that great stuff!

Do you shop at a farmer’s market? Do you have a grocery store with local foods?

Better Thymes

Yesterday was a great day! It started out great with me being super productive and finding a new best friend.

I got in a great glutes workout, which I will share on Workout Wednesday this week. Then, I headed into town to pick up my new favorite Larabar! The sale was 10 for $10 so I picked up 5 Peanut Butter Cookie and 5 Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip 🙂

Right next to the grocery store was a natural foods store called Better Thymes. I just found out about this place last week and was very excited to stop in and see what all they had. They had a nice little bulk bin area (with organic quinoa on sale!), bulk spices, and tons of gluten-free products. They also had some of my favorite products like Burt’s Bees, Badger Balm, Annie’s all natural products, and Udi’s GF bread (for cheaper than I got it at Cranberry’s!).

They also had these little numbers:

At two bucks a pop, I ended up with four bags! The Dude Ranch flavor tastes like Cool Ranch Doritos 🙂 The sea salt ones paired nicely with my salsa!

I got to spend the rest of the afternoon/evening relaxing in my kitchen. I had already whipped up my granola bars in the morning, then I made my black bean and corn salsa after my shopping trip, plus chili (recipe to come on Tuesday!). And then these yummy burgers for dinner!

Yummy burgers

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix all ingredients together and form into 4 large patties.

2. Grill to desired doneness and top with cheese and your favorite condiments!

I paired these burgers with baked potato wedges.

1. Wedge two potatoes and cut into desired size pieces.

2. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, checking on them periodically.

After dinner, we headed across the mountain with friends to go see the fireworks that got cancelled on the 4th.We ended up having to wait until almost 11pm for them to start. Apparently there was some sort of wreck and there were two helicopters that were flying people to the hospital right up the road, so the fireworks couldn’t start on time. We’re not really sure what happened, but with two helicopters, it couldn’t have been good!

This little pipsqueak was soooo excited to see the ‘booms’!

We decided to take the pup to see the fireworks because we thought he would like to get out and be around other people for a change. Bad idea! He was sooooo scared of the fireworks! It scared the piss out of him….literally! Poor pup! He hid behind my honey for the whole thing and shook the entire time 😦 We ended up leaving early because he was just so traumatized!! I felt so bad for him, so I rode in the backseat with him all the way home.

Today, we’re enjoying a relaxing day at home. I’m excited to get in my garden and hopefully bring it back to life! Plus, I’m going to pick some more blackberries 🙂 This evening, a bunch of people in our town are getting together to play softball at a little field about a quarter mile from our house. It’ll be a great way to get an extra workout in 🙂

Are your pets scared of anything?? My in-laws’ puppy is scared of the vacuum!

Exploring

We had so much fun last night at the rehearsal dinner, but I’ll recap that with the wedding tomorrow. We got to hang out with lots of friends and make some new ones! Some of our good friends from church stayed at the same hotel as us last night, so we met them for breakfast this morning. We chatted for over an hour before they had to leave to meet up with family. My honey and I ended up with about 4 hours to kill, so he took the opportunity to nap for a bit while I figured out what we’d do today!

Since we don’t get out much (seriously, we don’t!), I decided we should do something local. Right behind the hotel is the Frontier Culture Museum, so I suggested we go there. However, they are having a FREE admission day tomorrow with extra events and activities, so we put the trip off until then. On the way out of the venue, I snagged a Virginia Wine Guide and quickly found a wine-tasting place about two miles away 🙂

This was a great little place that recently opened in April. We tried 7 different wines: 4 white and 3 red. I really loved the White Ox because it was the sweetest. The rest of the whites were okay, but I was not fond of the reds at all! I have a very sensitive palette, so basically I couldn’t handle them 🙂

This woman was super nice and willing to answer all of the my questions and let me take pictures!

My honey and I both agreed that the White Ox was the best, but we decided not to buy a bottle. Maybe on our next trip down here!

For lunch, I had looked up gluten-free options in Staunton and found Cranberry’s Grocery and Eatery. It is right in the heart of downtown Staunton, which is just such a cute place!

Cranberry’s was FABULOUS!!! They had a huge selection of organic and all natural foods and products. Not only did they have bulk nuts and seeds, but they also had bulk spices. I wanted to do some shopping, but we were sort of crunched for time.

They were only serving their Sunday brunch menu and were out of quite a few things, but I managed to figure something out. I got the local, organic eggs and Udi’s GF toast with lots of butter and blackberry jam! I haven’t had toast since February, so this was a real treat! I was so excited to eat it that I forgot to take a picture! Here’s what was left though:

Here’s their super cute kitchen! They make their own apple juice with a mixture of the red and green apples!

For dessert, I had some sweet cream gelato- YUM!!!

I was really intrigued with this place and want to go back tomorrow, so we’ll see if it will fit into our plans!

Off to the wedding!

Do you do wine-tasting?? What’s your favorite wine?

Groceries

Don’t you hate it when things don’t go according to your plans?? That’s what happened to me last night. I got home later than I planned and everything fell apart. If it hadn’t fallen apart, I would have posted about my glorious to trip to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s last night before bed. But alas, I am posting now from the comfort of a hotel room where I’ll get two nights of uninterrupted sleep (no pup to take out in the middle of the night!!). And, later, I’ll be enjoying my day by the pool in the sunshine 😀 I can’t tell you the last time I laid by a pool!!!! I’m sooo excited!

Anyways, about my trip to the big city to do some grocery shopping! I have one word to describe it: overwhelming! There was so much to look at and so many new products I’d never seen before! Plus, I didn’t know my way around the stores and that always leads to a little anxiety. I’m used to just shopping the perimeter of stores because that’s where all of the good stuff is. However, at both WFs and TJs, there are so many good things down every aisle, so I had to go up and down each one.

But first, my friend Jen and I were starving once we got there. We had already been to Leesburg outlets, where we both bought cute shorts from Gap and two dresses (EACH!) from Ann Taylor LOFT- all on sale! I also bought the bikini I’m wearing to the pool today for $7!!!! Then, we headed to Dulles to get my engagement/wedding rings cleaned. Then, we finally made our way over to Reston to Whole Foods. We hit up the salad bar when we first got there and I was never so happy to have a salad before! Lately I’ve been eating a lot of cobbler, muffins, and a banana bread recipe I’ll share soon enough, so I really needed something light and fresh!

Okay, now onto the rest of the shopping experience! I made a list earlier this week that I tried to stick to pretty closely. I didn’t want to end up with a bunch of things I wouldn’t need (basically I didn’t want to spend too much extra money!). So here’s a rundown of what I ended up with at each store!

The goods I got at Whole Foods:

Organic apples

4lb bag of Pamela’s Baking Mix- seriously, I’m going to do an entire post dedicated to that stuff!

3 kinds of peanut butter- The Bee’s Knees, and two kinds of Santa Cruz PB: dark and light roasted (by accident!). I’m super excited to try all of these! I’ll be using the Santa Cruz ones in my homemade granola bars.

Organic non-GMO lightly salted blue and yellow corn tortilla chips- to have with my homemade salsa today by the pool!

2 dark chocolate bars

Dates

Red Wine Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar

Steel cut oats from the bulk bins- can’t wait to try these!!

Brown rice from the bulk bins

Walnuts from the bulk bins

Organic butter

Colby Jack cheese- for a recipe to come soon!

Organic Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing

Organic unrefined coconut oil

Organic baby spinach

AND 2 Larabars!! 

Last week when I was out shopping, I picked up a Cashew Cookie Larabar to try (I had never had a Larabar before!!!). I wasn’t blown away by it, but it was edible. I decided that maybe I needed more flavor, so I picked up Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Blueberry Muffin. The blueberry one was FABULOUS!! It was a great snack for me to have on my long drive home last night. I brought the other bar with me to have this weekend, in case there is a time where there’s food I can’t eat (see below for the crazy amounts of other food I brought with me :))

Onto Trader Joe’s:

2 bags of Brown Rice Pasta- they have the best price!!!!

Organic Ketchup

Olive oil

Organic crunchy taco shells

Bananas- can’t beat the price on these!

Corn tortillas

Parmesan cheese

Oatmeal and honey soap- I found this stuff in Minnesota in March and absolutely love it, so I had to pick up more!

All in all, it was a great trip up there and I hope to be able to make it up there again soon. It’s just really far away, and the traffic reminds me of why I love living out in the country!

As I mentioned before, I brought tons of food with me for the weekend for a few reasons. The first being, there aren’t many gluten-free options for breakfast at hotels, plus I’m not sure what’s on the menu for the rehearsal dinner or the wedding dinner as far as gluten-free foods go. The second thing is that I’m cheap! I don’t want to spend any more money than I have to (plus, WFs and TJs drained me yesterday!)

Enjoy this snapshot of the fridge here in the hotel!

Chips and salsa, bananas, apples, Larabar, banana bread, granola bars, spinach salad, dressing, chicken breast and broccoli, a quart of milk and all the fixins for oatmeal in the morning: two bags of oats with walnuts and flax seed meal, plus two cups of blackberries!

Okay, now I’m headed to the pool 😀

How are you spending your 4th of July weekend??

It’s going to be an exciting day!!

This is what I woke up to at 5:30 this morning:

This is the view from our bedroom!

Gorgeous, right? Even though I wasn’t planning on getting up until 6:30am, this sort of made up for it 🙂

I’m just about to leave to go meet a friend for the day. She and I are heading up towards DC to do some shopping, specifically grocery shopping. I will be going to WHOLE FOODS for the FIRST TIME!!!! I’m sooooooo excited 🙂 We’re also going to stop by Trader Joe’s while we’re in the area! Don’t worry, I’ll recap my experience a little later today! I’m hoping it’s as wonderful as so many of you other bloggers say it is 😉

Have a great day!!