Thursday, July 28, 2011

We found a place to live!

Since we've known we're going to move to Richmond for oh... the last 10 months we've had a long time to plan everything.  But while I tried to plan away for 8 months you can't do much important stuff until the very end.  The end is here!  Nobody is going to rent you an apartment 6 months before you think you're probably going to move.  We didn't have an official move date until a few weeks ago.  Everything was just up in the air.  Ehh. Whatever, it'll work out.  Jeez we sound like we're 19 or something. 

I did one, two and three parts too much research and we finally decided we liked the Fan and Cedar Hurst/ Forest Hill Park/Gravel Hill areas of Richmond.  Other high contenders were The Museum District, Carytown & Malvern Gardens. 


It's now settled.  We have a place to live.  yay!  Its a great apartment/house/condo like arrangement.  The area in the map above is our new neighborhood.  I'm not going to be too specific but it's in that general area-ish.  No stalkers allowed.  How did it go down?

We arranged a trip to Richmond.  We had about 3 appointments to look at serious apartments.  We had 2 more that the owner left unlocked for us (those were no's).  I found them all on http://www.padmapper.com/.  We saw the first one at 10am (early for us since it was a 3 hour drive from Raleigh) and we loved it!  I knew we would since there were photos online.  We loved it and it was cheaper than we'd budgeted.  I was hesitant to put down a deposit on the 1st one we saw.  We walked around the block nervous since the property manager was getting ready to leave.  While contemplating our new life/making a decision to pick this place before seeing the others, I got a call.  It was for another one of our appointments that afternoon - it had just been taken.  I felt like a sign.  We went back inside the #1 place and put down the money to hold it.  It was ours!

With that decision out of the way just some lease signing, money, notarization and paperwork was all it took to get our new place.  I am so excited for the move now!  We have a place to live, we've got everything set for Tony's school, I ordered him a parking pass so he can go to class, we got our utilities turned on, we'll have Internet even a few days after move in day & more.  I still need a job but I'm working on that... nards.

After we move in: photos, layout, design decisions etc will be posted!  I know we'll be buying curtains and rugs since this place has no window treatments and all hard wood floors!  Score!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cleaning out the fridge

Due to the impending move we're trying to eating our way through our pantry and fridge.  Yep read it here.  An easy way to make this seem like we've been more productive is go through everything and toss stuff.  I'd never throw away good food but everyone knows the stuff I'm talking about.  Ya know... those 95% empty bottles and frozen food stuffed in the way back of your freezer.  Every one's got this stuff (I think).  I found a decent amount of once good/now junk.  It's all GONE!


The bottles of salad dressings and organic raspberry preserves were empty.  Why were we still holding onto those things?!  Also mango sticky rice (which wasn't that great) and English muffins which migrated from my old apartment 1.4+ years ago had to go.  The chai latte was almost empty (and delicious, but I suspect got hydrogenated oils or something bad). 


Then I found more.  Almost empty containers of almond butter, expired yogurt, berry ice tea & tomato sauce all said hello to the trash.  Don't worry, not that 'to go cup'; I love that thing!  Also gross were TJ's spice apples (which normally are great!) that were 6 months old and (why did we buy??) cookie icing.  That stuff is probably all chemicals and sugar.  I found some molding baked beans and stale proportioned oatmeal that was the last of the food purging. 

It feels much better to get this stuff out of the house.  Now we have much less to deal with in the pantry/fridge department.  We've been busy packing and having less stuff visually is easier to process.  It can get a little stressful knowing that we'll (and 1 hired mover) will have to carry all the boxes down 3 flights of stairs.  The less the better I say.  Plus a little fridge/pantry deep cleaning is good overall. 

up next: ways to make meals out of whats left in the pantry. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Meals for the Week - July 25th



Friday, July 22, 2011

Going more green

Here at the Amato household we like to do our part in going green.  Going green isn't about doing it for any other reason that you want to.  We don't preach or judge.  We do our best when we can and every little bit helps the environment, our farmers, our landfills, our ecosystem, our bodies and more.  Here are some of the little ways we've been lately going green. 

We reuse water.  This not so clear shot is me watering our plants with the melted ice bath water we used for making ice cream.  No need to dump perfectly good grey water down the drain when our plants will gladly thrive off of it.

Other organic beauty products!

Tony has been using a new shaving product.  Its 'shaving soap' by Just Neem.  He found their booth at the Eno Festival and decided to give it a try.  Just Neem is a great company that is super eco friendly and only uses the best ingredients in their products.  They use the neem tree that grows in India & Pakistan.  They support the local economy there by working with NGOs to help people grow the tree that they use leaves and seeds in their own products.  The tree itself is pretty amazing - amazing properties like anti fungal, rich oils and used for centuries in natural beauty remedies.  He likes it!

This are the products he bought sold here.  Gillette razor not included.

I've been dying to try a tinted lip balm forever.  Forever people.  I had the Burts Bees products even listed on my wish list here!   I've had them on my amazon.com wishlist for about a year.  I'm kinda cheap when it comes to buying 'luxuries' like this.  If I don't need it then often I don't buy it (especially for $7).  I saw these alba products on deep discount when I got my organic shampoos and at $1.85 each knew I'd never find a better deal.  Also see that little 70% organic?  Awesomeness to me.
photo source

In my quest to go organiclly shampooed I forget one little thing... I already have!  Dummy me I forgot that we've been on/off using Trader Joes Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo for months!  It was in our 2nd shower so I forgot about it for a while.  We go the shampoo/conditioner combo a long time ago and took me a while to try it after Tony used it.  He didn't love it but I do!  It contains No Laurel/Laureth Sulfates, is cruelty Free - Never Tested on Animals and contains Certified Organic Botanical Ingredients.  Yes that 'contains organic materials' can be vague but from what I've found is common in beauty products.  I'm cool with that.  The conditioner is especially good for my hair but it leaves a fresh peppermint tingly feeling when you're done.  Check your local store.  I think they cost about $4 each.

This Cornelius cat isn't green or organic - just being the stoop cat he is.  Does he look 15 17 lbs here?  I personally think he looks rather trim.  He's savoring his last stoop cat days outside on our balcony because WE GOT A NEW APARTMENT IN RICHMOND!!  No balcony included but more info soon!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Peach Ice Cream

According to Earth Fare it was national peace ice cream day this past Sunday.  And boy did we oblige!  Actually we had no idea, but were not surprised it was due to all the amazing peaches just perfectly ripe at the farmers market.  We snagged some extra fresh extra cheap peaches at the Durham Farmers Market on Saturday.  Sunday it was ice cream day!

Since Tony is from Columbus and we're both huge Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream fans we decided to make one of her great recipes.  I absolutely love her ice cream.  Probably one of the best I've ever had.  I highly recommend if you're in Ohio or elsewhere and see her stuff - to stop by.  The flavors are so cool!  Black Coffee, Bourbon buttered pecan, Cherry Lambic, Salty Caramel, Riesling Poached Pear and Wildberry Lavender are some of the classics. 

Anyway we went with the basic vanilla ice cream recipe and added our own peach madness.  You can check out the whole recipe here.  I actually can't wait to get her whole recipe book!  or... just borrow it from the library if we're broke soon.  So here are some shots:

We were suppose to use 3 tablespoons of cream cheese but SOMEONE forgot to check if we had enough.  So we improvised and used 1 tablespoon of whipped cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of TJ's goat cheese; since that's what we always have on hand.  Phew... cream cheese crisis averted.  


We splurged for the organic whole milk for this.  No wimpy skim or even 2% for the good ice cream.  





Here I missed taking a photo of the secret step.  Putting the mixture in a plastic bag and submerging it in an water ice bath for approx 30 mins.  This really seemed to give us the great ice cream texture we've lacked in the past.  We use the same Cuisinart ICE-30BC Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker as Jeni does in her lab.  The key to that machine is getting the frozen insert COMPLETELY frozen.  Come to think of it... there seem to be a lot of things that you have to do just right to get perfect ice cream.  We've been perfecting them all in the last year or so. 

We reduced the diced peaches with brown sugar to get a little soft.  The peaches were added at the very end of the ice cream process.  It came out perfect texture and amazing flavor.  The cream cheese and goat cheese really gave it some wonderfully creamy taste and the fresh peaches really hit the spot.  This is the beautiful delicious final product!



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Harvest Time

Remember this plant way back? 


We originally thought we were growing a pepper plant since the leaves looked nothing like tomato plants' leaves and the seeds were labelled pepper.  We thought it was from our seed collection from last year and just went with it.  The plant grew and still we thought it was a pepper plant. Then this vegetable came along.  It looked strangely tomato-ish-ey.  And the last few days - Yep.  It. Turned. Red.  It's a tomato!


Our first and only harvest bounty of this year.  In years past we've had much better gardens.  This year was weak due to tons of travel and being out of town half the summer.  But this little tomato baby made it and we could not be prouder of this special tomato (pepper?).  It looks all pretty and perfectly red and semi heirloom round.  


Oh and I forgot to mention how small it is.  Yeah puny.  These are comparisons from the Durham Farmers Market this Saturday make our little tomato look like a baby.  The monstrous tomato on top was so big!  I have no idea how any tomato plant branch supported that thing!  Gotta love the best or organic summer tomatoes!  (we used it on a yumm pizza!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Eno Festival

Every year Durham has it's Festival for the Eno aka the 'Eno Festival'.  Despite living here for a few years this was our first time attending the party.  We had so much fun attending last weekend.  Here are some highlights.  


I tried my hand at playing violin.  This was a child's size version but none the less it was very challenging.  All I managed was a few awful squeaks.  Playing violin was also a lifetime dream of Tony's.  Epic fail. This dream was realized, and will never be revisited (to everyone's eardrum's relief).  He did get to play the banjo though, which was much more enjoyable for all parties involved.  The play with the instruments section was amusing.  


There were some cool lizard exhibits with some rare as well as local creatures. This little guy is a spotted salamander (who spotted him first?), and happened to be the mascot for this year's festival.


This little guy's name is Hedwig Otis.  He is a rescued screech owl that got hit by a car. He looked surprised to see us. 

One of Tony's coworker's husband even had a display set up, where he was selling his metalworks (see them here!).  We also picked up some locally made Neem Oil shave soap & badgerhair brush for T, but more on that in a future post.  Go ENO!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cleaning out the Pantry

Here is a current view of our pantry.  It's pretty full.  We have a decent amount of food for just two people.  We're spoiled with a huge pantry in our kitchen.  This is only half of it.  It goes behind the wall off to the left side of the photo a another 3 feet. 

Obviously it's smart to try and eat as much as we can of the food we've got before moving.  Instead of stocking up more groceries it's smart to use what we've got in the days, weeks, month(s)? before we set off to Richmond.  A 3 hour drive isn't conducive for hauling frozen peas - so we'll gladly eat our way through our current stock of food.  The challenge - eating all of it.  Duh.   That won't happen.  But I'll gladly try my best at making meals from what we've got.  It's gonna get creative!  I know we'll have to bring some of it with us.  We didn't buy white balsamic vinegar a few months ago only to toss it when we move out!  Crazysauce.  We're bringing the good stuff with us.  We'll pack those things in reuse able grocery bags and they can ride in our cars likely. 



You can see from the labels we've got quite a selection.  Lots of half eaten cereals boxes, emergency coffee for Tony and TONS of grains.  Tony needs his back up emergency coffee for those just in case days.  I may have him drink or (gasp) dump those before the move; it's all old.  Can coffee expire?  We seriously have so many grains.  At least three different types of rice, 4 types of pasta, quinoa, lentils, multi grain kashi like products, cous cous, 2 types of asian noodles, barley, grits, rice-a-roni and more.  We'll find ways to eat all our canned veggies and random things like water chestnuts.  Not sure why I bought canned goat milk at one point.  What to do with that... ideas?

Products like baking supplies will likely be brought with us and any snacks we don't get through.  I will try to bake as much as I can in the coming weeks!  The bottom shelf is just all our small appliances.  Mostly wedding gifts we have - bread maker, ice cream maker, food processor (fits in that whole, was being used), fondue pot, fake Le Creuset pan, big drink dispenser and a small cooler too.  Also not shown are a panini grill, George Foreman mini grill, big Kitchen Aid mixer and small hand mixer.  Phew... think we've got too much!!  These will all be packed.  Hopefully in small boxes so they're not 1000 pounds!

Other foods not shown that we have to eat before we move are fridge/freezer stuff.  We have a decent amount of frozen veggies, tons of those mini spice cubes (dorat?), too many medical grade ice packs and a too buttery batch of frozen scones.  As most fridges we have too many condiments like jellies, jams, salad dressings etc.  We'll probably bring those or toss them depending on value and amount left in the jar.  As a last thought on the morning of the big move we'll hopefully be able to donate the rest of our unused food to the food bank. 

Ideas for using the last of our food:
  • muffins from frozen blueberries
  • homemade corn muffins with canned chili
  • stuffing with ?
  • stir fry rice w/lots of frozen veggies
  • rice and beans
  • beans and rice
  • canned veggies like beets or tomatoes with grains like quinoa or grits
  • canned fruit & Bisquick cobbler. yumm!
  • (lean portions of) desserts with pudding mixes
  • Indian food w/rice & veggie burgers
  • risotto since we have arborio & broth
  • using nuts in salads, baking & lunch snacks
  • consolidating packages and throwing away stale or expired food
I've been cooking and freezing some things in portions like oatmeal and plain rice since they're more likely to get eaten that way.  If we get home and cook dinner at 8pm thawing precooked rice is a go, waiting 30 mins is not. 

I'll post some photos, recipees and adventures of eating our way through the last of our pantry!

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Lean Year

Our first year of marriage has been one of excesses.  Not that we lived excessively, per se, but our lifestyle was definitely a step up from what we were used to, and wasn’t necessarily one that we can sustain (at least for now).  As we move on to our second year together, we plan to liver a bit leaner, both financially and physically.  Let us explain:

The first excesses started before we even got married, as we moved in together as we began receiving house-warming and wedding gifts, which only continued to pile up after we got back from our honeymoon. Who knew two people could accumulate so much STUFF in so short a time?!  In addition, after we moved in together we had the obligatory trips to Target and IKEA to stock our home with things we didn’t already have (i.e. furniture).

Here is a list of some of the one-time purchases we’ve made in the last year:
  • Honeymoon
  • New couch
  • Dining room chairs
  • Bar cart
  • Robin's desk chair
  • Living room side tables
  • Bedroom lamps
  • Wedding Expenses
    • Rings
    • Wedding attendant gifts
    • other random (like new party dresses & shoes for events like rehearsal dinner)
  • Monthly eating out @ nice restaurant x 1 year (A gift we gave ourselves was that we were going to treat ourselves to one nice meal per month.  We wanted to experience the local restaurant scene, and to celebrate.)
  • Travel expenses (friends' weddings, graduations, holidays & other trips etc.)
    • We went to 8 weddings and got invites to 5 additional ones
    • We traveled out of town to most of them and of course bought gifts
    • Our parents & siblings all live out of state and we like to spend some holidays together ie. flights & road trips.
  • Two cars! 


total exaggerating.  We were not thinking about money
on this sunny San Francisco Day.  But you get the idea.
We thought about money before and afterwards.

We blogged about our car hunting here and here.  We were afraid that since both our cars were the same year & model (1997 Honda Civics) they were both going to die at about the same time.  We didn’t want that to happen while Tony was in school and have to make car payments on top of other expenses.  We used our tax returns and Tony’s tuition reimbursement bonus to pay for the Scion, and we currently have two new(ish) cars totally paid off.  No auto debt = awesome!



Speaking of debt.  This is the main reason we're going lean.  Tony's graduate program will be all paid for by student loans.  There are no stipents or paying you to attend.  Only a small glimpse of a (or a few) scholarship after the 1st year for the lucky few.  We will take out student loans to pay for all his expenses - tutition, books, etc but the #1 CRNA program in the country aint cheap!  We'll be living off of my income.  Cutting our incomes in half is pretty drastic.  Living more simply and cheaply just makes sense.  It's a temporary situation for the next few years until he graduates and we get back to a 2 income household at a higher rate!  It will be a challenge but something we're both ready for. 

All this spending and debt is fun and all but as we embark to Richmond soon, we’re reflecting on our lifestyle and how we can live more simply, or to use another word: Leaner.  Which brings us to point number 2: We have both put on a little weight since we’ve been married and the excesses of those monthly eating out expeditions, combined with horrible work schedules (we normally don’t eat dinner until after 8:15pm since we don’t get home until around 7:30 to 8pm) and lack of access to good running (Tony normally has to run through an industrial park, and it’s often too dark, too hot or too early when you work from 7a-7p).  We eat very healthily but sometimes it’s hard to exercise enough, and dessert has definitely not been off limits; there is a lot of room for improvement.

So how do we plan on living a simpler, leaner life this next year? Here are some of our ideas:

Weightloss:
  • Going public: We’ve all seen the studies that say if you advertise your weigh loss goals/efforts, then you are more likely to succeed. This means posting on facebook, twitter, telling friends and family, with the idea that they can help coach you (or chastise you if you cheat!)
  • Moving to a neighborhood that has easy access to running trails/sidewalks with new & interesting routes.  This is a big priority!  More hopefully updated soon!
  • Mutual support: Even though at the time it can get annoying, we will rely on each other for motivation, encouragement, working out together, and coaching. “Can we have dessert?  Nope!” “I’m just going to sleep in” “No, you’re going for a run.”
  • Eating dinner earlier
    • Continue to eat vegetarian in our house, sticking to the mantra “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.”
    • Cutting out desserts (not entirely, but smaller portions and less often)
    • And perhaps what will be most difficult will be no longer dining out fancily (especially since we’re moving to a new city!), but this will be much easier on our waists & our wallet (we were averaging $100/meal with drinks and tips)
Money:

  • No more cable; just netflix on our roku
  • No more magazine subscriptions
  • Checking car & renters insurances
  • No more buying cars/furniture/vacations
  • Selling our stuff (See this post and this one)
  • Coupons
  • Cooking at home (which we already do)
  • Others??

We have absolutely no regrets on how we spent our first year of marriage.  We wouldn't change a thing.  It was a beautiful year while it lasted and we know with our changing lifestyles thing will have to change.  We really enjoyed being able to go out to dinner every month, go on many small and even 1 large vacation, buy new 'us' things and overall have a great time with no guilt.  I won't say we're being more responsible from now on since we're were always conscious and responsible about purchases and how we budgeted our money.  We both worked and made enough to have a semi indulgent first year of marriage.  It gave us a great foundation.  Now we have a lean year ahead. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Getting Nervous

July Big Move Update!

We haven't moved yet.  I hope you're thinking that I'm thinking that it's already the 2nd week in July.  I am, don't worry.  I know the days and months have slipped away and now it's officially 'very close'.  Not to be too specific but we really need to get a place to live, and me a job, like yesterday. 

I needed to get a job like yesterday.  Technically no, I'm still employed and have my current job a little longer.  I do need to secure a job very soon though.  Anyone know of people hiring in Richmond??  Let me know!  I hope something good will come soon.  Fingers crossed!

We need to get a place to live.  Duh.  Once our current lease expires and we pack up to move it'd be great to actually have a place to move into and ya know, unpack.  This has been proving a challenge.  Remember I did all this research here and here?  Thankfully we did this or else we'd be completely clueless right now.  We've been using http://www.padmapper.com/ for most of our searching.  Issue is that we've been mostly contacting private renters or small leasing companies and timing is key.  We've been planning single day trips up to Richmond.  Its about 3 hours away and do-able for a single day round trip.  Long but do-able.  

Problem is either I call about an apartment too early and have no assurance it won't be rented to someone else in a few days... OR I call too late and they can't arrange a showing on the single day we'll be in town.  Arrrg.  Frustrating!  Thank goodness for gmail, google docs & google maps.  Seriously, we couldn't keep them all straight without them. 


Frustrating point #2 - money.  mo money mo problems right?  Um... what about no money?!  Most rental places want a proof of income and/or credit check to approve you to move in.  This is standard.  Thing is, we won't have proofs of incomes.  We're both quitting our jobs soon.  Now, student loans will suffice (I've learned) but what if they haven't been processed yet?  It's getting nervous realizing that with me without a job yet we may run into problems renting a place. 

There are plenty of options our there for apartments but we may have to just be less picky than we'd like in order to both see place & get approved while still liking it enough to live in for a year or 2.  Oh the joys of moving!  We'll be so happy once we get settled in finally!  pheww. 

Got any advice on how you moved to a new place/in grad school/found an apartment/got approved for a lease?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bookcase undo

Remember this redo?  How awesome we thought we were.  Don't anyone think this is a DIY blog.  We are not professionals - we're barely beginners.  We I caught the DIY bug and had to complete a project that day.  We had most of the tools and just had to spend a few bucks for the supplies we would need for a bookcase makeover.  We bought refill foam rollers and that blue paint & extra plastic ground tarp.  Boy were we missing a step.

the before
Problem: we didn't use primer.  We thought "Hey it'll be okay to use latex paint on laminate".  WRONG!  That is wrongsauce if I ever had a hindsight thought.  Do not just go for it.  You'll definitely need primer on this fake wood 2007 office supply store bookcase.  We knew something was up when it was getting nicked super easily after it dried.  We were afraid of putting items on the shelves since the paint didn't seem to have 'stuck'.  A non working bookcase wasn't functional.  (imagine a bed full piled with junk we couldn't put back on these new shelves)

I looked at it for a few days and sucummed to the thought that I'd have to redo it.  Since the shelves were the only pieces that'd really touch objects I decided just to repaint those.  It was easier than redoing the whole thing.  Who knows - maybe I'll regret that decision too. 

First off - stripping the shelves of the old paint.  Some were easy, others a little more effort.  This is a 'little more effort' shelf.  I used sand paper to get it all off.

during
This next one was super easy!  Too easy in fact.  I just pulled great swathes of paint off the previously 'perfect' shelf.  Not perfect.  After I did that to all 5 shelves I was back to where I had started - with fake wood.


Working outside I primed each shelf with 2 coats of Kilz primer about 4 hours apart.  I used a small foam roller for even application.  Yes this oil based primer was messy and I may have destroyed a kitchen scrub brush (sorry Tony).  Everything started to look the same again.  Boring photos - more of the same white shelves.  Primer = white, paint = white.  Anyway, after 2 coats of the same white paint we were in business.  You can definitely tell the difference in the primer + paint vs no primer.  Texture wise that is.  The no primer was much smoother and slick.  The primered base has a big more of a 'grip' to it and wasn't nicking at all.  Overall it looks great (yeah yeah I said that last time). 



The after - nice and clean and dried and now - usable!

This is what happens when new DIYers decide to do a project they know little about. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Meals for the week - July 4th

I've been a little slacking on the posted menus lately.  I attribute that to all our travels and lack of a formal menu. 

Usually we sit down (actually we stand up) and make a formal menu for the week.  This almost always happens after we get home from the grocery store.  We try to utilize all the fresh veggies and stuff that we just bought (hopefully on sale).  This is the best way to make sure none of your produce goes bad and prevents you having to figure out what's for dinner every night.  On work nights we don't even start cooking dinner until 7:30 - 8pm.  We both work long hours.  Knowing what you're going to make before you walk in the door makes the challenge easy.  We 99.5% of the time cook dinner for ourselves (apposed to ordering or take out).  We only do dinner menus.  Lunches are typically leftovers of dinner from the night before or a free for all if one of us is home alone.  

Sure, I dream of taking online courses in cooking from California Culinary Schools, but most weeks, I need quick and easy (and semi organic)!


Yum vegetarian dinners planned this week.  Not sure what'll go down at a possible bbq Monday.  Could be vegetarian or not.  We'll most likely bring a vegetarian dish if needed.

Check out the dissapearing zucchini orzo recipe here!  I highly recommend it!

What's organic on our menu this week?  Broccoli, peas, black beans, veggie burgers, lettuce, tomato & yogurt.  Wish I could say the same for the carrots, sweet potatoes (actually they're local thusly probably organic), cilantro, rice, zucchini & hummus.

We also have fresh organic salad greens & baby spinach that we'll throw in the menu somewhere.  This was a late addition to the line up - oops. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Couponing Healthy

As I've been trying to get into couponing more and more these days (like a lot of people) I find it's hard to coupon and still eat healthy.  Anyone else notice this? 

I don't buy doritos, hot dogs, ice cream, Kraft salad dressings, bottled ice tea, bagged candy, diapers or detergent.  We do buy things like whole grain breads, almond milk, fresh fruit and veggies, canned tomatoes, jarred bell peppers, canned coconut milk, beans, frozen veggie burgers and natural peanut butter.  Have you ever seen a coupon for bananas?  Don't think so. 

While it ain't easy, it's not impossible to coupon healthily.  When clipping coupons in your weekend newspaper keep an eye out for things like whole grain/plus pasta, tomato sauces, organic milk, frozen vegetables, hummus & yogurt.  We eat all those things and while often they're not organic - they're at least a few steps away from being the most processed thing on your shelf.  You'll have a choice once you've clipped that coupon to either get something like high sugar, lots of artificial flavorings & colors tub of strawberry kiwi go-gurt OR the same brands' plain no sugar added yogurt.  It's still up to you. 

Online is best.  I find all my best healthy and organic coupons online.  Redplum, Coupons.com, and Smartsource are the best places to start.  Don't be distracted by coupons for skittles or coffee creamer (unless you're really into those things - no judgement; they're great in moderation if needed)!  Other places to look for healthy coupons - brand sites.  Earthbound Farms, Organic Valley, Morningstar, Horizon Organic Coupons, Mambo Sprouts & more.  Other brands that aren't junk that sometimes offer good coupons: Al Fresco, Egglands, Dole, Muir Glen, Smuckers, Near East, Tetley, Silk & Heinz.  You'll notice that some of these are organic.  I'm fine with semi organic when grocery shopping w/coupons.  Also don't discount places like Whole Foods just because you think they're always overpriced.  Check out this week's deals (with printable coupon links attached).  This week Honest Tea Organic Iced Teas is FREE!

There are a few methods to couponing I've noticed.  You either drive around town going to tons of stores getting the best deals and/or you buy stuff you don't need just because it's on sale with a coupon and/or you just casually coupon when it's convienent for you.  I'm pretty much in camp #3.  I will buy Whole Foods products if on sale and I'm near one.  The two closest ones are about 25 minutes away so I rarely shop there.  My best 2 methods for organic sales, coupons and shopping are Trader Joes and our local Lowes Foods.  They're both pretty close and both have a huge selection of organic products.  Of course TJ's doesn't do coupons but that's fine with me.  I find any couponing I can do is dollars saved - which is my goal.

Got any couponing healthy advice or tips?

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