Grocery cost infographic and a $200 giveaway

HEY! Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!
There’s a $200 and a $50 prize!
If you already follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and/or subscribe to get my articles emailed to you for free, you’ve already got entry points!

How much would these 12 items cost in your grocery store?

1 pound of bananas
1 dozen eggs
1 pound spaghetti
1 gallon of milk
24 oz cheddar cheese
1 pound of ground beef
1 tube of Colgate toothpaste
1 four-pack of Charmin toilet paper
1 pound of butter
1 loaf of bread

Anne from Money Propeller pulled together the prices of these groceries from 12 different areas around North America to see who’s paying the most and least. I came in 2nd cheapest (urban Michigan) for the total bill of all 12 items! How do you compare?

Displaying Grocery Prices in North America 1.png

 

Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! There’s a $200 and a $50 prize!

Why I love owning a deep freezer

A deep freezer has been on my “want” list for a long time but I wanted to wait until we were out of an apartment setting and into our new home. We’ve had it for 7 months now so I’d say it’s time to tell you about this gem!

deep freezer goodies

Price tag
Dave got employee of the month (woo!) back in November which means he got to park in the MVP parking spot… with his bike… and he got his pick of a $25 gift card from various stores. Since a deep freezer was on our radar he chose a gift card to Lowes. I found a 10% off coupon code just by Googling for one and we ordered the freezer during a period where shipping was free for orders over $100. The price tag said $232 but our total cost with the discounts and taxes was $187 for a 7.0 cubit ft GE chest freezer.

Why a deep freezer for only two people?
We have the standard fridge/freezer in our kitchen and a small pantry but I would say that most of the food we use comes from the freezer:

Bread
We get our bread from an Aunt Millie’s outlet down the store from my parents for $0.75 a loaf. I usually keep 6 loaves of bread in the freezer and pull one out as needed.

20140529-172051-62451750.jpg

Nuts, Fruit, & Veggies
Next door to Aunt Millie’s is a wholesale produce market where we get ridiculously cheap prices on produce. When fruit is in season there are amazing sales at the market so if I can’t get there to stock up my mom will pick up enough for both of us to freeze so we have plenty of fresh fruit throughout the off season. We’re talking CASES of blueberries, mangoes, pomegranates, raspberries, and blackberries. We put a variety of the frozen fruit in our full fat yogurt when we pack our lunches in the evening. I’ve shared the awesome method my mom taught me to freeze mangoes and how my mother-in-law freezes leftover tomato paste. I do freeze some vegetables but I usually just buy frozen bags from the store when I find a good deal. We go through a few pounds of frozen veggies every week since I usually have 1-2 cups with my eggs in the morning. Good thing eggs don’t need to be frozen or I’d need another deep freezer just for them! We usually go through 3-4 dozen a week!

Meat
When I find a good deal on meat, I stock up. That way I’m not paying a ton for ground beef when I realize I’m out of it when I sign up to make tacos for a potluck. You’ll often find stew meat for our favorite beef stew, ground beef, chicken, pork chops, some kind of fish, and shrimp in our freezer.

Breastmilk
Not much to be said here. I’m home with Nora full time with the exception of teaching my nutrition class twice a month and occasional health fairs where I represent the hospital where I’m employed. I’m nursing her 90% and she gets a bottle when I work or when I’m gone longer than her usual time between feedings. I’ve probably got a couple gallons worth frozen in storage bags so it takes up a good chunk of space.

Freezer meals
My friend Ambi and I recently made our first attempt at preparing multiple freezer meals. It went well and I stocked my freezer with plenty of delicious meals (you can see what we made here). When Nora was born we were signed up with Meal Baby and received over 30 meals from my church including a bunch of Wildtree freezer meals. I was glad we got the deep freezer before Nora arrived because it was full for the first few months of her life!

What do you keep in your freezer?

Which Bread is Best?

Dave told me earlier this week that around 9am every morning he has a Pavlov’s dog response and his body expects to be fed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Unless he takes leftovers with him, I usually pack some other type of sandwich like ham & cheese or a tuna fish sandwich. We go through a lot of bread. If you want to read what else we pack, you’ll have to read my post about packing lunches but today, it’s all about BREAD.

What have you heard about bread? Wheat is good, white is bad…or if you read Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules, you’d say “the whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.” There are too many types of bread out there and it’s hard to figure out which bread is best. I’ll start with some myths and relieve you with some tips…

Myth
#1: If it sounds healthy, it’s probably healthy
Hm, this bread says it’s 100% natural. You know what else is 100% natural? Dirt. Just because the name of the bread sounds super healthy doesn’t mean it is. Take 7-grain and 12-grain breads for example; it’s got whole wheat flour, oats, brown rice and other grains, but the first ingredient is unbleached enriched flour. That means it’s no longer considered a whole grain since it’s been stripped of its bran and germ. By enriching the flour some nutrients are added back in, but it still doesn’t match up to good ol’ whole-wheat flour. This Aunt Millie’s 12-grain has water as the first ingredient, but whole grain wheat flour does come in second…so not all are phonies. Just read your ingredient labels.

INGREDIENTS: WATER, WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT FLOUR, UNBLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR, OAT FIBER, SUGAR, RESISTANT CORN STARCH, WHEAT GLUTEN, SOYBEAN OIL, SUNFLOWER SEEDS, HONEY, RESISTANT DEXTRIN, CORNMEAL, SESAME SEEDS, WHOLE GRAIN TRITICALE, WHOLE GRAIN OATMEAL, VINEGAR, WHOLE GRAIN RYE MEAL, YEAST, RAISIN JUICE, BARLEY FLAKES, WHOLE GRAIN MILLET, BUCKWHEAT FLOUR, SALT SUBSTITUTE* (SALT, SODIUM GLUCONATE AND POTASSIUM CHLORIDE), RICE FLOUR, FLAX SEED, GUAR GUM, WHEAT STARCH, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR…..

 

Myth #2: If it looks brown or has the word “wheat” in the name, it’s good for you
Again with the first ingredient…if it says “wheat flour” or “enriched bleached flour” or something like that, it means that white flour is the primary ingredient used, not whole-wheat flour. You’ll see other tricks like “cracked wheat with whole grains.” Whole grains are further down the list, but white flour still ranks number one.

Myth #3: “Diet” or “Light” bread is better
“Light” usually means a smaller serving size. If I had to define it, I would say it means less bread, more air. If you really want a lower-calorie sandwich but need to have 2 slices of bread, go for it, but I find it funny that I could squish the entire loaf into the size of two pieces of regular bread. You can still find 100% whole wheat light bread…I guess this myth is more of a personal preference.

Bread tip #1: 100% wins
Not “whole wheat.” You want “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grain.” Best tip I can give you, hands down… I didn’t even need to write this long post. If it’s really 100%, you’ll see whole-wheat flour as the first ingredient listed. Why do I keep pushing whole grains? They’re naturally low in fat, cholesterol free, contain lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and contain a good source of protein.

Bread tip #2: Stay under 200 a slice
200 calories? I’d hope so…but I mean 200mg sodium, aka salt. While bread can provide a great source of nutrients, some brands tend to pack in the sodium. Since the recommendation is to stay under 2,000mg a day for most people, bread can add a significant sodium contribution if it’s a big part of your diet.

Bread tip #3: Check your serving size
50 calories a slice!? Awesome! Wait a minute… it tastes like air with a hint of sawdust. On the other extreme, some heartier breads can pack in 120 calories per slice. Depending on what you’re putting on the bread, calories can add up. Take a look at the weight on the serving listed. Some can weigh a measly 15 grams or a hefty 45 grams.

What brand am I loyal to? Sometimes I choose Nature’s Pride if I find a good deal, but I usually buy Koepplinger’s 100% Whole Wheat bread. The first ingredient: whole-grain wheat flour. 135mg sodium. 80 calories per 30-gram slice. I can usually find it at the store for $1.80 a loaf. The downfall to this bread is that it contains sugar, molasses, and corn syrup in the ingredient list along with a crappy man-made oil, soybean oil.

In summary- some breads are healthier than others. However, the best diet contains healthy fats, quality protein, and the main carbohydrate source from vegetables and fruit.

What’s your favorite brand/type of bread?

New Job & New Recipes

Exciting news: I got a new job! I’m keeping my current job at the hospital but am now also employed as a Registered Dietitian at the health department! With both jobs being part-time and flexible, I can combine the two and get close to full-time hours!

Other exciting news: I love Pinterest! This isn’t new news, but nevertheless I experience an odd amount of excitement when I find good recipes from Pinterest. I thought I’d share what I made this past week since they all turned out to be winners. I enjoy finding recipes that contain ingredients I already have in my cupboards so we can stick to our grocery budget. The link for each recipe will take you to the blog I got it from since they had other good dishes you might like to try!

Mushroom Barley Soup and Homemade Multigrain bread
The soup would have been bland without the flavorful addition of sherry wine and soy sauce. I added carrots because I wanted to give my brown soup more color. I have never made bread before and was skeptical because I don’t have a stand mixer or a bread maker. I only had one loaf pan to use, but I managed to bake two loaves and just let the 2nd loaf rise a little more while the first one baked. I could not believe how great it turned out! The bread recipe is from Cooks Illustrated, a sweet magazine that tests a recipe a million times and changes different factors until they get the recipe that they believe makes the best final product. I froze half of the soup and one of the loaves for an easy go-to dinner when we need one.

Blueberry Banana Baked Oatmeal
Dave & I slept in and went to 2nd service on Sunday, so we had time to make this delicious breakfast and cook up a couple fresh eggs on the side. It’s a very easy and nutritious recipe to start your morning & we had plenty of leftovers for Monday morning.

Have you found any great recipes from Pinterest?