Time to think about a garden

I know February still seems like the dead of winter, but it’s time to start thinking about that garden.  If you’ve never had a garden before, maybe this is the year to try.  My first garden was last year and while I usually kill every thing I put in the ground, the garden did pretty well.  Mostly I learned a lot of lessons that I can use this year.

I used a system called square foot gardening and if you are new to gardening this is such an easy system to learn.  It was invented by Mel Barthomew and his book is a fantastic resource for learning to garden.

Check out the Square Foot Gardening website, they also have an active forum and friendly people that will answer lots of your questions.

Growing your own food is not only frugal but you have the ultimate control over what you are eating.  You control the soil and fertilizers you use, and you can grow nutrient dense organic vegetables for so much less.

So do some planning and maybe start some seedlings.  Good luck!

What to Buy at Costco

Many of the foods we eat at our house never go on sale, or very rarely.  So I’ve tried to find where to get the best everyday non-sale prices so I can always be sure I’m getting a good deal.

Costco is one of those places that can be a real budget killer, but it can also be a great resource if you’re careful.  Many food products at Costco are NOT really cheaper than a grocery store.  If you shop with coupons then you really know that you can get groceries much cheaper.  But I go to Costco at least once a week and there are some products I buy there that I haven’t found cheaper anywhere else.

Earthbound Farms 1lb Organic Mixed Salad Greens $3.99-$4.29 We go through at least one container a week making salads and green smoothies.

1lb Organic Spinach $3.99 This is by far the cheapest price for organic spinach I’ve found.  Spinach is on the Dirty Dozen list so I’m really happy to find a great price for organic. I buy one a week.

Mariani Pitted Dates 2.5lbs $6.99 I use these to make some delicious raw desserts and it’s a good sweetener for other foods too.

Walnuts 3lb $13.99 At $4.66/lb this is a good price for walnuts.

Almonds 3lb $9.99 At $3.33/lb this is a decent price for almonds.  Almonds also go on sale regularly at Kroger for $2.99/lb.

Wholesome Organic Agave Syrup 2 – 23.5oz bottles $7.59 This is almost half the price for the same brand of agave at Whole Foods.

Kirkland Signature Organic Animal Crackers 4lb $8.29 This is an enormous jug of animal crackers.  I don’t like my kids to eat too many of these so this should last us a long time. It’s a decent price at $2.07/lb, but you should be able to get a better deal with a sale-coupon matchup.

These are the prices I found at my local Costco, prices may vary at your store.  I will continue to update this list with more prices and products.  Lately I’ve been finding many more organic and natural food items at Costco, someone in the buying department must be on our side.

What’s Cooking?

I bought Ani Phyo’s Raw Food Kitchen cookbook a few weeks ago and I absolutely love it. Our family just started dabbling in some raw food recipes, I really didn’t know what to expect but the food has been phenomenal. I’ve never felt better about the food I put in my body. The food tastes so fresh and the flavors are amazing. A few days ago I made my first 100% raw desert, Black Forest Cake-WOW! I’ve never had anything like it, a truely healthy dessert that my whole family loved.

Her recipes use easy to find ingredients; I’ll help you find the best prices and where to get them!

Here are Ani Phyo’s cookbooks. I have Raw Food Kitchen but I’ve browsed through the other books and they look great as well.

If you sign up for a free Amazon Mom account you can get 3 free months of Amazon Prime, giving you free 2 day shipping on all eligible orders.

Co+Op Deals, 10/13-10/26

Here are all the deals at particpating co-op grocerystores.  To find a store near you click here.

There are great deals in this ad, my favorite is the $.19 organic Muir Glen tomatoes!

Bulk Foods

Golden Temple granola $2.49/lb

Refrigerated and Freezer Deals

Cascade Fresh fat free yogurt, 6oz $.69

Organic Valley organic yogurt, 32 oz $3.29

Westsoy organic tofu, 14oz $1.99

Amy’s Pizza, 12-14oz $4.99

Cascadian Farm organic frozen potatoes, 16oz $4.99

  • $1/1 Cascadian Farm frozen vegetables or frozen potatoes, Co+op Deals booklet
  • $1/1 Cascadian Farm any product (must register) printable

Shelton’s Turkey Sausages, 12oz $3.79

Grocery Items

Spectrum Extra Virgin Mediteranean Olive Oil, 33.8oz $11.99

Annie’s Homegrown Deluxe Pasta and Cheese Dinner, 9.3-11oz $2.49

Cascadian Farm Organic fruit spread, 10oz $2.49

  • $1/1 Cascadian Farm any product (must register) printable

Edward & Sons miso-cup soup, 2.5oz $3.49

Imagine Organic Soup, 32oz carton $2.79

Muir Glen organic canned tomatoes, 14.5oz $1.19

  • $1/1 Muir Glen tomatoes, Healthy Clippings (makes it $.19)
  • $.75/1 Muir Glen tomatoes printable

Nature’s Path organic cereal, 26.4-32oz $5.99

  • $1/1 Nature’s Path or Enviro Kidz product, ONE booklet

Once Again Nut Butter organic peanut butter, 16oz $1.99

  • $.50/1 Once Again Nut Butter, any nut butter, Co+Op Deals booklet

Rustic Crust pizza crust, 9-16oz $2.79

  • $1/1 Rustic Crust shelf stable or frozen pizza crust, Healthy Clippings booklet

Wasa Crispbread, 8.8-9.7oz $1.99

Snack Foods

Clif Builder’s Bar $1.33

Kind fruit and nut bar $1.19

Little Bear yellow corn tortilla chips, 16oz $2.79

Newman’s Own Organic O’s cookies, 16oz $3.29

Beverages

Blue Sky soda, 6 pack $2.69

Lakewood Organic Heart Healthy Juice, 32oz $2.59

Santa Cruz Organic juice 3 pack $1.50

So Delicious Coconut Milk, 64oz $3.29

  • $1/1 So Delicious Coconut Milk beverage, ONE booklet (makes it $2.29)

Traditional Medicinals, 16ct selected varieties $3.49

  • $1/1 Traditional Medicinals, any tea Co+op Deals booklet
  • $1/1 Traditional Medicinals Heartburn Soother, Organic Roasted Dandelion Root, Lemon EveryDay Detox, EveryDay Detox, Healthy Clippings booklet

Household and Personal Care

Aura Cacia Organic Lavender and other essential oils, .25oz $6.99

ECover dishwasher tablets, 32oz $4.59

Seventh Generation disinfecting wipes, 35ct $2.79

  • Seventh Generation any product (excluding single roll paper towels), 8/8/10 RP

Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, 32oz $9.99

Similasan Homeopathic eye drops, .33oz $8.49

  • $1/1 Similasan any product,  9/12/10 SS
  • $1/1 Similasan any product, printable

Publix Best Deals starting 10/6 or 10/7

Here are the best deals on natural and organic products at Publix stores in the Southeast.  Deals will start on 10/6 or 10/7 in your area.  It’s a slow week for Publix, not a lot of deals but decent prices for soymilk and organic milk.

Publix accepts competitor coupons, every store decides what competitors they will accept so call or stop by the customer service desk at your favorite store.  You can matchup competitor, store and manufacturer coupons for some great deals.

Smart Balance Spread 13-15oz, or Spray 8oz B1G1 free,$3.09 ($1.54)

Kashi All Natural Pizza 11.9-12.7oz,$5.00

Cabot Vermont Cheddar Cheese Bar 8oz, $2.00

Kashi Cereal or Granola 7.5-17.5oz, $2.50

  • $1/2 Kashi GoLean cereals (Whole Foods coupon) printable
  • $1/2 Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal or TLC cereal bars (Whole Foods coupon) printable

Food for Life Bread, English Muffins, Buns 16-24oz, $3.99

  • $.50/1 Food for Life English Muffins, (Co-Op+ store coupon) Co-Op+ Deals booklet

Florida Crystals Organic Cane Sugar, 48oz, $3.29

  • $.50/1 Florida Crystals Natural or Organic Sugar, RP 9/19
  • $.55/1 Florida Crystals Natural or Organic Sugar, September Everyday Food magazine 
  • $.55/1 Florida Crystals Natural or Organic Sugar, Mambo Sprouts printable

Silk Soymilk 1/2 gallon, $2.50

Organic Valley Organic Milk 1/2 gallon, $3.50

  • $1 off Organic Valley gallon milk or 2 half gallons printable

Larabar, $1

  • $1.25/2 Larabar or Jocalate bar (Whole Foods coupon) printable

Saving on Produce, Part 1

There is no doubt that organic produce can be very expensive.  One way to save is by referencing the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list, published by the Environmental Working Group.  When you have the choice, buy organic off the Dirty Dozen list to reduce your exposure to pesticides.  The Clean 15 have sustantially less pesticide residue and the top three – onions, avocados and sweet corn – tested pesticide free in over 90% of federal samples,ref.  These are the best choices for buying conventionally grown.

My first choice is always to buy produce over processed foods, even if I can’t afford the organics.  We all have to do the best we can to make steps towards healthier eating.

The Dirty Dozen (in order from worst to best)

  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Cherries
  10. Kale/Collard Greens
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes (Imported)

Clean 15 (from best to worst)

  1. Onions
  2. Avocados
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mangos
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Watermelon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Sweet Potato
  15. Honeydew Melon

Green Smoothies

Adding green smoothies to your diet may be one of the single best things you can do for your health.  One quart of green smoothie has 15 servings of raw fruits and vegetables!  Greens like spinach, kale and collards are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Most of us are missing these nutrients in our Standard American Diets.  By blending greens, the cell walls of the plant are broken down making the nutrients easier for your system to absorb. 

It’s best to keep your green smoothies simple, especially when starting out. You’ll get the best results by blending a single fruit and single green.  After you try a few, start experimenting with some different combinations.  I like to add flax meal or ground almonds for some added protein, fiber and healthy fats.

Here’s the basic green smoothie recipie and I’ll follow with a couple of our family favorites.

Basic Green Smoothie

60% ripe, preferrably organic fruit

40% greens, such as spinach, kale, beet greens, collards, and dark green lettuce

Stevia to taste

Add everything into a high speed blender along with enough water to help it blend (1-2 cups depending on the size of your blender).  Blend until smooth, starting at a lower speed then going to high.  Add 1-2 packets of stevia to taste if your smoothie needs sweetening.

Peachy Green

2-3 ripe peaches

1/2 bunch of kale

2-3 tablespoons whole almonds

water to blend

Add almonds to blender first and blend as desired, all the way to powder or to small chunks. Add peaches, kale and water.  Blend until smooth.

Green Chocolate Smoothie

2 bananas

2 big handfuls of collard greens (I buy them in the bag, chopped and pre washed)

2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter

2-3 tablespoons of chocolate or carob chips

1 packet of stevia

water to blend

Add everything to the blender, blend till smooth.

Enjoy!