Zulay Premium Quality Lemon Lime Squeezer: Key to Detox and Weight Loss

Product: Zulay Premium Quality Lemon Lime Squeezer
Price:  $15.99 (retail)
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com
My Rating: 9.5 out of 10

 

 


Lemon Juice is Part of My Daily Diet

Did you know that lemons and acidic fruits help flush toxins out of the body?  In order to maintain a healthy body, we need to keep it Alkaline.  Our body is daily exposed to numerous chemicals both in the environment and also by what we put into it.  To help keep my body alkaline, I eat lots of fruits and veggies and generally try to eat healthy, but the one thing I can’t live without is having lemon juice daily.

Every day, I try to start my day with a lemon squeezed in warm water.  Additionally, I often squeeze 2-3 lemons and mix the juice with a little bit of lukewarm water and brown sugar and drink that straight.  I can always feel that it is cleansing my system and all of the cravings I normally have for junk and sugars taste horrible after lemon juice.


This Product Is Easy to Use and Gets Every Last Drop of Juice Out

I used to squeeze lemons by hand and then would wind up wasting so much of the lemon, my hands would get sticky and I felt like I had to squeeze several lemons to get a reasonable amount of lemon out.  With this juicer, it presses in exactly the right way so that you get all of the juice out of the lemon without the seeds.  Occasionally the seeds do still fall in, but it does a good job of pressing the seeds directly into the lemon itself.

This sounds stupid, but my hands used to also get really tired from squeezing multiple lemons a day, so just being able to have a lever to use against the lemon uses way more force than I’m able to, and at the proper angle so that I’m able to get the most out of each lemon.


It Does Limes Too

Believe it or not, limes are very different than lemons when it comes to squeezing them.  They are smaller and way harder, meaning also harder to get the juice out.  Sometimes I change it up from lemon juice and use lime juice and it’s really nice to have this all in one thing to make storage in my small drawers super easy and efficient.


Cleaning Takes 3 seconds

Cleaning it out is super easy, it literally takes 3 seconds to rinse it out, I usually don’t even run it through the dishwasher.


Can’t Live Without Product

If you are serious about adopting a healthy lifestyle, it is a staple to have lemon juice daily.  All diet systems including Paleo, Ayurveda, Mucusless Diet, Dr. Oz and numerous others all recommend including lemon juice in some way, shape or form in your diet.  I’ll tell you, doing it daily, it gets super annoying to squeeze out all the time, so to me this product has been a godsend in making my life easier and supporting my health goals.  If I had to hand-squeeze lemons everyday I would likely just get lazy and stop drinking my daily lemon juice, which isn’t where I want to be.

 

How to Save Money at Whole Foods with Amazon Prime

Since Amazon bought Whole Foods it has made changes to our interactions with the store, including opportunities to save $$.  Most recently, they have launched discounts for Prime members at Whole Foods whereby you get discounts on select items for having a Prime membership.   If you haven’t looked into a Prime membership, there are also a ton of benefits to having this, and the discounts at Whole Foods are icing on the cake.

Easy To Use

Prime is at all Whole Foods Stores these days encouraging sign-ups.  If you are already a member, all you have to do is download the Whole Foods app and login with your Amazon account and you will get a barcode to scan at checkout.

Prices are Competitive Against Other Stores

In the summer, cherries are one of my favorite fruits, but they are sooo expensive.  With Prime, cherries are $3.99/lb, compared to the normal price of $5.99/lb and competitors of $4.99 – $5.99/lb.  That’s at least $2-$4 savings when buying cherries depending on how many pounds I buy.

Cherries – Whole Foods on Sale with Prime                                     Cherries – On Sale at PeaPod

ROI Calculator

Prime Membership:   – $119/year (Up this year)
Less Food Savings: +  $120/year (Assumes that you shop at Whole Foods twice a month & save on average $5 / trip).  This is conservative if you shop at Whole Foods more.
Less Shippings Savings: + $15 (Assumes you shop at Amazon 4 times a year and save $2.99 on shipping per order).  Again this is conservative.
Plus Other Benefits:  + $50 (Intangible Value includes access to free movies and books when you might otherwise order)
Net:  $304 in the Green

Conclusion

Prime Membership can save you money over the course of the year for things you would otherwise be spending on, or not be able to spend on.  The acquisition of Whole Foods and the price drops is making Whole Foods more competitive with other grocers at a high quality and can save grocery money if you manage to on sale items.

 

How to Lose the Last 10 Pounds – For Real

I am an athlete and have always been fit….until I found myself with 3 kids and a full time job and on the brink of collapse.  After my 3rd child, I just no longer could keep up.  I couldn’t keep working out, I had gained a lot of weight during my pregnancy, and had terrible exhaustion, fatigue, burnout and anxiety.  My youngest son is 3 now and I honestly don’t know how I made it through the first 2 years.  Then, my dad unexpectedly passed away, and it sent me over the edge that I thought I was already over.

My symptoms.  I wasn’t sleeping well.  I had bad anxiety.  I had constant migraine headaches.  I started getting extremely sick during travel (train rides, etc.).  When I did workout, I felt sluggish, slow.  I struggled to get out of bed each morning.  I lost enthusiasm for daily life.

And then, as you will see as a big theme in my blog, I took action.  Call me old school or new age, but I don’t like the direction that the medical field is going.  We are prescribed medication for any symptom and the pharma industry is a multi-billion dollar industry.  It’s also one of the industries that I do a significant amount of work in.  Let me clarify, the industry is actually saving a lot of people and doing great things, but it’s only because we have let our bodies get to the brink of disaster and we need extreme solutions.  I do think we are quick to prescribe and less quick to work to make the longer term underlying change that is required to make major health shifts, but that is a topic for another day.

So back to weight loss and me.  I don’t like going to the doctor.  I think healing can be done through food, fasting, exercise, and cleansing.  I can’t believe we would be put on this planet to not eat the natural foods of the earth.  It just doesn’t make sense.  So, I read, experimented and found a few things to be true for me.

Before I start – I need to share the books that have inspired me.

Absolutely:  Mucusless Diet Healing System – Arnold Ehret This book changed my outlook on life, health, and the power to take my health into my own hands.

Also:  The Path of Practice, A Woman’s Book of Ayurvedic Healing – Bri Maya Tiwari

So, while I was never extremely overweight – about 165 when I was pregnant and then down to about 140 post pregnancy, I wasn’t too overweight.  However, I am 5 ft tall, I didn’t feel good, and for my size, the recommended weight is around 125.  Lastly, I couldn’t drop past 138 for 3 years no matter what I did in terms of working out and trying to eat healthy.  To take it to the next level, while also not killing myself, here is what worked for me:

Fasting

Fasting has not meant stopping eating.  For me, beginning experimenting with fasting at semi-regular intervals and via a slow transition has been helpful.  This has meant, skipping meals ad-hoc.  Not even all day fasts.  I usually skip breakfast, but I may skip breakfast, have lunch, and eat something light for dinner.  Fasting just means reducing your food in take a bit.  For one person, it may mean skipping a meal, for another, it may mean a whole day fast.  Your body adjusts, you won’t die, but you don’t want to go too extreme.  Read the Mucusless Diet – it will explain why you feel bad when you fast.

Slow Transition to Lighter Eating

I still eat meat, but probably once a week or every two weeks.  Mind you, I have been transitioning to this lifestyle for over 10 years, but in the past year, I have really focused on salads, steamed vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, beans.  When I’m hungry for something more substantial I eat it, but more often than not, I’m less hungry and more energetic than I ever was as I have made all these larger life/health changes.

Working Out / Cardio & Weights

I will say that combining cardio, weight work, full body (I.e. Tabata workouts), and yoga has really done something to me where the weight started to really fall off and the lean muscle tone started to show.  I have gone through periods where I needed more cardio and a period where I was stagnating and adding weight work to my routine jumpstarted the next round of toning and weight loss.  Last november, I was struggling to run 2 miles, and last week I ran 10 miles in an hour and 20 and felt great.

Kriya & Meditation

I have been practicing kriya for over 7 years and this has significantly reduced my food cravings and even interest in food in general.  I love to eat when I’m hungry, it’s just not as exciting as it once was for me.  Kriya is a breathing technique that helps to still your mind and help you dive deeper into yourself and prepare you for meditation.  And meditating is, well, sitting in the silence after Kriya.  Every time I make the time to do my Kriya I feel reset about life.  You can learn different kriyas from different organizations.  There is much more on this subject, but as it relates to weight loss, the focus on kriya and meditation has taken my mind to other experiences instead of just food centric ones.

Enemas

You may think this is a weird one, but enemas have helped me to do some colon cleansing and has been the one thing that I think really helped to clear out some clogging I had in my system as well as drop a lot of weight.  I will warn you, this has to be done with great care and research, as you can definitely get an electrolyte imbalance.  I used Fleet ones to start, only to find that they do have additives in them, so I soon switched to lemon enemas.  You will read more about this in the book that I mentioned.  I am not a doctor so don’t take this as a prescription, just my experience for what worked for me.

Constant Change & Adjustment

The last thing to mention is that the body has infinite wisdom.  I think the biggest issue is that we look to diet fads and then follow the diet routinely and get frustrated, annoyed, angry.  Our minds and bodies LOVE CHANGE!  As you go through a transition, your body is going to need different things on different days.  Some days, you may not want to eat, and some days you may be starving.  Some days you may crave fruit/sweet tastes, while other days you may want vegetables, meat, carbs, etc.  If you force yourself into a diet, you will likely wind up HANGRY, annoyed and upset.  I guarantee you if you follow the above items, read the books I mentioned, you will be able to lose weight that you thought you just had to ACCEPT, and you will have more energy than you thought was possible.  Take it slow and make small long term changes over a longer period of time.

I’m going to grab some before and after pictures so stay tuned….

 

 

 

 

How to Beat Stress – The One Thing that Causes Stress

I have thought a lot about stress.  I have experienced a lot of stress. 

Lastly, I have seen a lot of stressed out people.

But, what I have found, is that stress comes down to just one thing….

Are you ready for it?

All stress boils down to a feeling of disempowerment.  We feel stress when there are circumstances that are out of our control, that impact us, that we feel we cannot change.   Therefore, to cope with stress, we need to face our stress head on, deal with the issues at hand, and empower ourselves to take charge of our life and our destiny.

Stress can fall into a few different categories, however it all goes back to a feeling of being unempowered.  Here are some examples:

1. Stress About Money

We all get stressed about money.  We could just be starting out on our careers and feel that we aren’t making enough to cover our costs.  We could be in debt.  We could be in a place where we don’t have enough savings and a one-off emergency can derail us.  But really the root of the matter is that we aren’t in a place where we are controlling our destiny.  So if money is your issue, it’s important to face the issue and analyze why it is an issue and then put in a plan to move forward.  Just the act of accepting the situation and facing it, then taking action to mobilize a plan will change your stress in that you are doing your part in resolving the problem.  Usually, once you do your part, the persistence pays off and the universe throws you a bone.

The tricky part, it’s sometimes easier to enact a plan when you are a party of one.  But if you have a spouse or partner, part of dealing with the stress is to share the burden, analyze the position together, develop joint goals, and a path forward.  It also requires constantly reassessing your situation on a regular basis to determine if adjustments are needed.

One you put your plan in place or share your stress with someone who can help, you will likely feel immediately better and can move forward to the next step.

2.  Stress About Health

It is inevitable at some time or other, we or a loved one will run into health issues.  Health issues are one of the worst categories to deal with as we may run into situations or issues where we don’t understand why we are feeling the way we do, we may go to the doctor that prescribes us medication that has side effects, and it may impact our ability to work, which leads to stress about money and then a feeling of impotence.  But again, at the heart of it all is a lack of control over our own situation.  Health issues are happening to us, and derailing our lives leading us to potentially spiral downward.

This is an interesting and likely controversial topic, but I am a firm believer that you control your destiny including your health.  That is to say, your health is your responsibility and taking control over it, will lead you to the improvement that you need.  It may lead you to the right doctor, or it may lead you to the right information to help you make the changes that you need to make.  Since the birth of my 3rd son, I have had health issues including headaches, inability to lose weight, irritability, bloating, and other symptoms.  Then, when my father passed away, my issues became significantly worse, as the prior health issues combined with the physical symptoms of grief were almost too much to bear.  The tipping point for me was when I read a study that found that of a survey of cancer patients, nearly every patient had experienced a traumatic life event nearly two years prior, and it got me to thinking that I had to tackle my health issues before they tackled me.  I had always been a healthy individual prior to these life events and my present health was extremely distressing.

After a series of trial and error, I have found my way through fasting and other supporting cleanses including salt water flushes, enemas, and a slow transition to a healthier diet.  Just the ability to take my health into my own hands has given me a feeling of empowerment and also gives energy to the other areas of life that I couldn’t give attention to when my health was failing me.

3.  Stress About Relationships

Just like the others, relationships can be stressful when we can’t understand the other person we are in a relationship with or be able to relate to them.  This gives us a feeling of being out of control and a sense of unpredictability that is scary.  We all know tension when we feel it, and unspoken tension is among the worst stressors.  You often will get a nagging feeling that something isn’t right and needs to be dealth with, yet its scary to have difficult conversations with the people that you care about, so we often decide to avoid them, which actually only makes the matter worse in the long run.

I have met or encountered many people who are never at fault.  They have issues with other people, yet the other person is always to blame.  The issue is that with this mentality, you are never in a position to take control of your life.  You are always the victim of your circumstances instead of part of the solution.  Back to our original issue, the stress is caused by feeling out of control with the relationship with no ability to solve it.

So how can we fix these issues:

1.  Listen to yourself

You know yourself best.  If something doesn’t feel right, pinpoint it and just listen to it.  What is the real problem?  Is it something unresolved that you haven’t dealt with?  Are you spending more than you are making?  Are you not taking accountability in your relationships?  Is your diet terrible, yet you don’t take steps to improve it?

2.  Affirm that you can deal with it

Next accept that the situation is what it is.  You might not like the situation that you have gotten yourself into, but you need to get out of it.  Affirm to yourself that you can.  I often use affirmations to set myself on a positive trajectory.  My favorite, and I kid you not is “I’m beautiful, I’m smart, I’m confident, and goddamnit people like me!”  The last line is from an old SNL, but I seriously used to use this before every big meeting I had, until I didn’t need the affirmation anymore.

3.  Come up with a plan

A plan doesn’t mean you need to have everything figured out, it just means that you have to have a forward moving direction.  Your plan could be a list of 2 people you need to talk to (i.e. a doctor, a financial advisor, your spouse, your children, someone at work, etc.) or it could be a list of things to research or a series of experiments you need to try.

4.  Take action

There is nothing that feels as good as taking action.  When I started this blog, it was completely overwhelming.  I had a foggy vision, some vague idea of what to do, but started to get paralysis to get started.  But then I just friggin started.  And now I can’t believe that I actually have some blog posts and some comments.  Just the act of taking action has led me past some major doubts and fears about blogging and empowered me to keep going.

It may also be something that can be more quickly fixed such as dealing with a person that you are having trouble with.  You may have a person you work with or someone in your family that you are not relating to well.  It may be as simple as having that difficult conversation so that you can clear the air and move forward.  Whatever that nagging feeling is, listen to it then take action to fix it.

5.  Reassess your situation

One you get started tackling your issue, it’s easy to lose steam and momentum when you aren’t meeting your goals as fast as you want to.  This leads to stress and frustration and can derail the progress you made.  It’s okay to get stuck, but when you are, reassess where you are, cry your frustration out or pat yourself on the back for progress made.  Appreciate that these difficult moments are what will make you into the person that you will become.  Then move forward again, because you are in control of your destiny.

And don’t forget, you are empowered and in control of your destiny.  Any positive action you take, is planting the seeds for the longer term.  Plant positive seeds and watch them sprout.  There may be rainy days where you feel that the seeds aren’t growing, but these days are actually the most needed days for them to sprout.

Are Online Surveys Worth It? – An Honest Review of Swagbucks

I have been looking for side hustles and ways to make money online.  I love the Penny Hoarder, the site has great ideas and constantly introduces me to new apps or ideas.  At the same time, I’m always looking to balance money vs. effort and am constantly testing some of the ideas to see how much of a return there is on them.

One of the ideas I consistently come across is online surveys.  There are several sites:  Harris Poll Online, SwagbucksPointClub, OpinionOutpost, Inboxdollars and more.  When i first saw this, I thought it would be a great way to make a few extra dollars when I was sitting around or otherwise stuck, like waiting in line, or something along those lines.

What I found was that online survey sites and apps has been extremely infuriating and not at all worth it.  Even though you may see many blog posts out there listing this as a side hustle, let’s not forget, us bloggers and affiliate marketers are recommending products in order to drive traffic and make money so sometimes the reality is often glazed over.

Below, I’ll walk you through what an online survey looks like, how much time it takes, and what the ROI is.

1.  How Much Survey Points are Worth

Just to show you what we are dealing with here…

It took me about 3 weeks or so to earn 156 SB.  This included a purchase through Swagbucks (which is a feature I do really like), and also some sign-up incentive Swagbucks (SBs).  I need 500 SB to get $5, however after the initial sign-up bonus SBs, I started averaging only a few SB a day.  I know these companies need to make money and I get that, so I’m okay earning a few a day…if it weren’t for the next things I’m about to show you.

2.  Choosing a Survey

Swagbucks outlines the surveys, how many SB’s they are worth, and how long it will take.  For this example, I’ll take a 5 min survey for 75 SB.  Not too shabby.

3.  Taking the Survey

Questions 1 and 2 ask me about my employment.  Notice the font and format.

 

After I answer the first two questions, it bounces me to some different data source.  Note:  This is STILL the same survey, but now the font and format is different, and it starts at question 1, which makes me think that it bounced me to another company that is going to collect my info.

 

Then it asks me if I’m a robot, which I assume is question 5, because then it jumps right to question 5.

And then last but not least….I get bounced to yet another site.  Different font and format, Censuswide survey consultants as the header…and all still the SAME survey.

4.  Completing the Survey

Now, I have answered several questions and it has taken me about 5-7 minutes and I’m ready for my Swagbucks.

But….lo and behold, I’m not going to get those 75 SB am I?  After all, that’s about 75 cents, nearly a dollar, and if I made a dollar for about 7 minutes I could make about $8.50 an hour.  Not too shabby for a quick side hustle, but probably not profitable for the survey company.

5.  Consensus

I am annoyed and frustrated.  I answered questions, I shared data and then at the end, I didn’t get the compensation that I expected.  Additionally, I don’t know why.  There is no reasoning and so I have no idea how to find the surveys that will be a good fit.

If this happened once in a while, it would be fine, but this happens to me EVERY SINGLE SURVEY.  Since I signed up, I haven’t gotten a true survey since, just failures, earning 1SB at a time.

Additionally, some surveys will tell you that you need to answer a few prerequisite questions, but then after you go through that process, it will tell you that the survey wasn’t a fit for your profile.  Those questions are time consuming and a lot of times the data entry of it on a mobile device is very cumbersome, think lots of drop-downs with a lot of options in the drop-downs.

Essentially, to me it seems rigged that you answer the questions and give the companies data, with no compensation in return.  Maybe I just have a certain profile that isn’t what they are looking for, but I’m not sure.

And it isn’t just swagbucks, this has been consistent across the online survey polls that I have used.

Overall, I think this is a bit of a scam and I would definitely not consider this a viable way to make money online.  Definitely don’t quit your day job on this one.

 

Take Control of Your Finances – It’s All About Mindset

Feeling overwhelmed by your financial situation?

For most families, during the child-rearing time of our lives, expenses are high as we are still growing our careers, building income, or sacrificing income to be home with our kids.  Nerdwallet recently did a study and found that the average American household has a credit card balance of $15,654, of which, on average, American’s are paying roughly $904 in credit card interest every year.  Additionally, with the explosion of the internet, there are hundreds of personal finance websites advising on how to handle your money including saving for retirement, building an emergency fund, paying off debt, setting financial goals, and honestly, it can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, we can take control of our finances, and it all starts with attitude and mindset.

1. Wherever You Are…It’s OK!

I think we all have a tendency to think we are not stacking up.  We should be further along in our career, making more money, saving more, or something else.  I’m here to tell you, truly, wherever you are, it IS okay.  Whatever situation you are in, you are presented with a great challenge to turn it around.  In fact, life would be boring if we didn’t have challenges.

If you have no credit card debt or $80,000 of debt, YOU are going to be okay.  You may have different decisions to make, but you will still be okay.  I’ve seen friends, family, acquaintances turn around even the most dire situations and also have fun along the way.  But first, accept the situation you are in.  Then, once you have accepted it, embrace it.  Love it.  Be thankful for the lessons you are about to learn.  They are the stories you will be able to tell your grandkids about “walking to school uphill both ways.”

2. No Need to Keep Up with the Jones’

I can’t stress this enough.  I don’t even know who the Jones’ are, but I don’t think I want to be friends with them anyways.  But seriously, it is really easy to get caught up in trying to keep up, and sometimes not keeping up may make you feel like you don’t fit in.  I think in many ways it is harder when you have kids, because your kids will complain when their friends get to do things that they don’t.

Take stock of where you are, what you are spending money on, and question whether you are doing it for you and your family, or doing it so that you can fit in in whatever social circle you find yourself in.  It’s not always obvious, you may be spending money on certain things because you feel like you should, it was the way you grew up, or other reasons, but if it doesn’t fit with your current financial profile it’s okay to cut it.

Lastly, I think as parents we get extremely concerned about making sure our kids have the best future imaginable.  It’s a competitive world out there and we want to give our kids every opportunity and advantage.  However, there is great value in being honest with your kids on what your financial situation and goals are, if they are old enough, as they will learn that life is not always easy which will help them develop healthy financial attitudes as well.  If they’re not old enough to understand this, then they are probably content just spending time with you and could care less about the Jones’.

3. Having Less Spending Money Leads to Creativity

Try this.  Pick a weekend and vow not to spend any money, or give yourself a budget of $10 or less.  What will you do?  You can either think about all the things you wish you could do, go out to eat, take the kids to a museum or the zoo, OR you can make it a big challenge that your kids are in on too.

I guarantee you, you will come up with so many things that you never would have thought of by putting this boundary on yourself.  Try it – let me know what you come up with.

4.  Fun Stuff Really is Cheap or Free

This goes hand in hand with #3, but fun stuff really is free.  It costs nothing to go for a walk, to the playground, to the library or do some crafts.

When I was younger, my happiest memories were of sitting in my grandparents’ screened in porch and talking.  We would play I Spy, alphabet word games, sing, do puzzles, and just be together.  When we wanted an activity, we would go out in the yard and play whiffle ball.  When I wanted to work, my grandparents would give me chores and pay me a quarter per chore.  As a kid, I remember those times as the happiest times, so if you are worried about making sure your kids get to see every museum and event, remember, all they really want is to be with you.

5. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin, Pick One Money Goal and Do It

This is a big one to me.  There is so much financial advice out there that it can be overwhelming knowing what advice to follow and where to start.  Additionally, if you have limited funds, you can’t do everything, and you won’t accomplish anything if you are trying to do a little bit of everything.

If you aren’t sure where to start, check out my financial roadmap which outlines the steps to building a happy, healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

6. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Affirmations and Gratitude

Life is a journey.  Every situation that comes your way is helping you to grow.  The more you resist with worry and stress, the harder it is to turn the situation around.  However, if, when a challenge comes your way, you can be thankful for it, you will absolutely overcome it.  Car break down with no emergency fund?  Say a thanks for bringing this challenge to you as well as for the means to solve it.  Then, get to work on solving it.  If you need that car fixed right away, you do, but then grab that sidehustle to make that money back quickly.  In serious debt?  Be thankful that you have a challenge to overcome, then get to work.  Whatever creative ways you come up with to get out of debt, I’m absolutely sure you can write a blog about it later :-).

In addition to gratitude, I love affirmations.  Whatever you think or believe is what you are.  So if you are worried about money, affirm that your will is strong and you are capable of doing all of the things you need to do to get out of your situation.  If you think you never have enough, affirm that you always have enough and you are lucky to be challenging your personal discipline by living with less.  If you do both of these things, you will have a will of steel and the personal discipline to change your financial picture.

7. No Job is Beneath You

I work in a very professional environment.  I’m around successful people all of the time.  The one thing I have noticed though is that the people who stand out are the ones who will do what is needed to get the job done.  And so it is with life, if you need a financial lift, no job is beneath you.  A job is a job and it worthy of respect.  Don’t worry about what other people think.  The most successful leaders and entrepreneurs out there just did what needed to be done without worrying about what others thought.  Whether it is a part-time job, or trying a blog, or taking online surveys, whatever it is that you need to boost your income, it is fine.  Drop your ego, and you will reach success much faster.

Cut Your Grocery Bills by 30% or More

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Ben Franklin

Just as my good old friend Ben Franklin says, preparation really is the key to sanity.  I used to spend between $250-$300 a week on groceries for a family of 6.  Even though I made a list, I was completely overspending and found that for a family of 6, we can eat well on a budget of about $120-$150 per week.  Here is how I cut over $100-$200 off of my food budget by a little extra preparation and planning.

1.  Plan weeknight meals out in advance

This is the big one.  For a family of 6, I have found that it is really not that expensive to buy food for one week if properly planned.  I pick 4 weeknight meals that I prep and cook on the weekend.  One day, I usually recycle leftovers into something else.  For example, if I make tacos one day, with leftover beans (yes, I like beans with tacos), I use the beans the next day with rice and also make quesadillas.  That brings me to five days.  Then, inevitably, there’s probably a pasta day in there on the day that we are the most worn out.  Planning out the meals has been the single most important change I have made.  On average, it costs about $10-$20 for one meal for a family of 6.  For example, if I make lasagna:

  • Ground beef: $8
  • Tomato Sauce: $2
  • Ricotta Cheese: $4
  • Mozzarella: $4
  • Parmesan: $2 (as this gets multiple uses)
  • Noodles: $3
  • Total: $23
  • 2 days worth of meals
  • Daily Cost: $11.50

For some weekly meal plans, click here.

2.  Prep food on the weekend

This goes hand in hand with number 1.  Food prep on the weekend ensures that you actually follow-through with your plans for meals during the week.  Otherwise, if you are working, and get home tired, late, or other, even the best laid plans may fall by the wayside.  I like to prep whatever I can on the weekend to make weeknights super easy.  I also absolutely live by my crockpot and instant pot.  Examples of food prep:

  • Chop all veggies and put in freezer bags
  • Create spice packs in plastic baggies
  • Assemble baking meals (i.e. lasagna, stuffed shells) and store in fridge
  • Wake up 20 minutes earlier and prep the crockpot or instant pot for slow cooking

Click here to see the easiest meals to prep

3.  Get creative with snacking

I was drowning in snacks, snacks, snacks.  My kids love cheez-its, goldfish, nutrigrain bars, cookies, chips, fruit snacks, popcorn, you name it.  I have found though that beyond the basics, there is a lot that you can do to make snacking fun, recycling the same items over and and over into different uses.  Peanut butter can be used on celery or apples.  Add in chocoloate chips or raisins on top and you have just created 4 different snacks.  Recycle the celery and replace the peanut butter with cream cheese (and a little paprika if you are adventurous) and you have a fifth right there.  Some of my favorite snack ideas are:

  • Apples with honey or peanut butter, with or without chocolate chips or raisins
  • Celery with peanut butter or any other kind of nut butter
  • Celery with cream cheese and paprika
  • Sun balls (peanut butter, oats, chocoloate chips, and honey rolled into balls)
  • Date balls (almonds, dates, and coconut oil in a food processor and rolled into balls)
  • Make your own trailmix (nuts, raisins, chocolate chips)
  • Roasted nuts

4. Use Ibotta to get cash back

I was pretty skeptical about Ibotta until I tried it myself.  Ibotta is an app that will give you some cash back savings by scanning your receipt.  Warning:  It’s not completely automated, there is some work involved, and you won’t make that much money, but it is pretty much free money back for doing something that you do anyways.  For me, I get on average $1-$2 back per shopping trip.  However, I go to the store weekly, and that money adds up over time.  Using Ibotta does require you to select the purchases that you bought that also match the deals available.  It takes about 5-7 minutes to go through this exercise, and then you have to take a picture of your receipt.  So at $2 back for 7 minutes of work, there’s really no reason not to do it.  I’ve been using Ibotta for about 6 weeks and am up to about $15 in savings.  I’m going to cash out at $20 and it’s $20 that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.  Check out Ibotta here.

5. Add sauces, toppings, and sides to dress up plain meals

I find that sprucing up meals with sauces, toppings and sides makes basic meals more exciting and satisfying.  In fact, I actually use much less meat by trending meals away from one center piece and more to a set of different items.  Examples of great sides include:

  • garlic bread with pastalasagna or stuffed shells,
  • fresh baked bread with soups
  • naan or chapatis with Indian meals
  • tortillas or taco shells for Mexican meals and on and on…you get the point.
  • ricotta cheese on vegetables like baked broccoli or chickpeas
  • plain yogurt and cilantro
  • lemon butter with capers for fish dishes
  • chimichurri sauce on meats

6.  Keep your kids at bay at the grocery store…

I almost always bring my kids shopping.  I am at work all week so want to spend as much time as I can with them on the weekends, which includes a shopping trip.  However, the two boys can derail my best laid budget if I’m not careful.  My secret strategy?  Depends on the age.  For the little ones, I bring a few lollipops and that distracts them.  I also usually let them open one of the snacks we are getting in the store.  Older ones, I mean besides just saying “no” I do usually get them one treat if they help unload the car and put the groceries away.  I think it pays for itself.  The key is to try to stick to the list and keep the kids otherwise occupied!

7.  Check out your local Indian grocery store for cheap, fresh produce, beans, grains, and spices

If you can’t tell by now that I’m kind of obsessed with Indian food…I am.  I always look to find a local Indian store wherever I live, and usually go there every other week.  For one, the produce is usually dirt cheap, usually 99 cents for bundles of fresh herbs, greens or other vegetables.  Also, they have aisles and aisles of beans, dal (lentils), grains, and spices.  You can stock up on dried items for pretty cheap ($4-$8 for 3-4 meals worth of a beans/dal).  Also, instead of wasting a small fortune on grocery store spices, you can buy spices in bulk and refill your spice containers.  On average, I only buy spices once every 2-3 years unless I’m looking for something unique.  Lastly, I always buy basmati rice in bulk for about $20, and use an old animal cracker container to house the rice.  This often lasts me 1-2 months and we eat rice a few times a week.  Bonus: if you’ve never tried Indian tea (masala chai, or ginger tea), this is my guilty pleasure.

8.  Try beans or paneer cheese as the cheaper meat alternatives

I usually have one meal a week that has either beans, paneer cheese (I love Indian food!), or tofu as the main protein.  Beans are super cheap and when combined with a few basics can make for a delicious, hearty, and satisfying meal.  Combine beans with the sauces and sides that I mentioned above, and you have an extremely filling meal.  And paneer.  Well, if you’ve never had paneer cheese, you are missing out.  First of all, it is one of the few cheeses that are recommended in Ayurveda and it is considered easy to digest and high in protein.  It looks like tofu, but a bit more dense, but also less dense than a block of cheese.  It’s indescribably amazing.  It can be sauteed and added to some greens or made in a tikka masala sauce.  Some of my quick and easy favorite cheap, but satisfying family meals are:

  • Great Northern beans with carrots (and ham or bacon if you want meat)
  • Black beans or Kidney and rice with a side of avocados, taco shells or quesadillas and corn
  • Curried chickpeas with a side of onion naan
  • Split pea soup with a side of a fresh sourdough
  • Lentils with carrots with a side of naan or chapatis with a bit of plain yogurt and chopped cilantro to top
  • Paneer tikka masala with a side of naan and yogurt/cilantro puree to top

These meals on average cost less than $10 and are super filling and sides with toppings to make them fun!

Also, I always use dried beans and pressure cook them in the Instant Pot, which, if you don’t have one, I highly recommend as it will pay for itself over the course of one week of savings.  Amazon prices are reasonable and there are often specials. See here for the Instant Pot on Amazon.  This is the model that I use and I probably use it 5 out of 7 days a week.

 

My First Blog – An Integrated Life

It has been about a month and I have been learning all about the online world and in particular, the blogging world.  Some people make blogging seem so easy, but I have had cold feet over getting started myself.  

What would be my niche?  Will people even care what I have to say?  Hasn’t everything I have to say already been written?  

I have found picking a niche to be the most mind wracking exercise.  I don’t want to be too broad – people will get confused.  I don’t want to be too narrow – I won’t have enough to write.  I am interested in so many different things, and I wear so many different hats – Mom, consultant, cooking enthusiast, natural living aspirer, crafter (is that even a word?), organizer of household things, book lover, runner, field hockey player, music lover, skier, snowboarder, sporty girl?, and the list goes on and on and on…

To make matters worse, once you purchase that domain name, you can’t turn back.  At least not for about a year if you do the shortest term.  I was agonizing over purchasing the wrong domain name and losing that $10-$15.  I mean money is money, right?  Also, my nature with new things is to jump in head first and I’ve made some stupid purchases by doing that in the past so I have been doubly unsure about how to get started.

Picking the Niche – The One Theme

Instead of choosing a topic or specific niche area, for me, I actually drew on my work experience.  As a consultant, it’s less about being smart or even more experienced than anyone else, although you do get to see a lot in a very short period of time.  What makes a good consultant is the ability to quickly extract key themes and organize information.  So, instead of a niche or topic, I thought the thing for me that made the most sense was a theme – the theme of my life and something that I continually try to work toward – Integration.  For some reason, at work, I’m in charge of integrating different teams together, and in my personal life, I’m constantly trying to do the same.

By definition, integration means “An act or instance of combining into an integral whole.”  In real life, it means, understanding that all aspects of our lives are interrelated, and we need to integrate and balance them to be happier, healthier, and more fulfilled.  So what does that have to do with this blog?  Well, you can’t be healthy and fit, if you don’t focus on diet and exercise, and you can’t focus on diet and exercise if you don’t have time to cook and workout, and so on.  And if you have 3 kids, the one thing that you don’t have is a lot of time, and that impacts all of the other areas of your life.  So this blog is about how I try to make it work, with observations or tips for the different areas of life that I’m constantly trying to integrate and keep in balance.  Whether it is healthy eating and living, feeding your creative side, organizing your home, finding fun activities for kids, balancing work and home life, staying sane, side hustles, budgeting & saving money, dealing with grief, or some topic yet to be discovered, I’ll probably write a post on it.  

With that said, off to blogging…

About Kim

About Me

Hi Everyone!  I’m a full-time working mom of 3, consultant by day, mom by night.  Our life is hectic, chaotic and fun, and I’m constantly trying to keep up and stay organized.  Being a working mom is exciting, tiring, and challenging.  Some days I love it, some days I want to crawl back into bed.  And many days, I have visions of leaving the day to day grind behind and buying a farm and living off the land.  Maybe someday!

Not So Simple Living

I have grand dreams of living as a minimalist and living more simply, but with 6 people in our family (Me, husband, 3 kids, and sister-in-law), it’s not quite as easy at it sounds.  We are all busy and having 6 people is like running a small business.  Ironically, in my day job, I help organizations manage operations as their companies scale, and have been able to apply a lot of the same principles for our growing family at home.  I have started cataloging all of the things I have learned along the way from meal-planning, to recipes, to finding time for fitness, to money-saving tips, to delegating, and more and wanted to share everything I’ve learned over time.  I feel most relaxed when I try to balance all of the key pillars of life; health, relationships, finances, work, and FUN and so I’ll be sharing how I attempt to do that and what seems to work and not work.

What to Expect

Well, I’m not sure I even know what this blog will turn into, but at a minimum I hope that some of the posts will be relevant or helpful in your daily life.  If nothing else, I hope to connect with great people along the way and have something different and creative to put some of my energy into!

If you ever need a hand or have ay questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

Kim