How to Shop at Whole Foods (or any other Organic grocery store) without Breaking The Bank

Making the switch to organic foods doesn’t necessarily double (or triple) a food budget. In some cases, buying the right food at the right time can actually be cheaper. There are many ways to save money at Whole Foods and there are even more ways to save on eating in general when you look at the big food picture. It’s not as easy as comparing apples to apples, but it paves the path to a healthy and happy relationship with food.

whole foods

10 Simple Steps to Save Money on Wholesome Food

1. Drink Water – Right off the bat, swap any sugary beverages for water and you will instantly cut down on your bill. Start with one glass per day for a week, then add another each week after that until you get to 8 full glasses of refreshing water each day. Not only will you feel better, but your wallet and your back will thank you! Plus, you can use the small carts in the store.

2. Dilute your own Juice – Instead of buying children’s juice or juice boxes, dilute it yourself by adding water in a 1:4 or 1:2 ratio depending on the age of the child. Even I like to dilute my juice now that I drink water most of the time.

3. Limit or Skip the Snack Aisles – The best way to save money is to avoid the interior aisles of the store altogether, but I also think that an important part of healthy eating is having an indulgence in moderation. Stock up with these items go on sale.

4. Follow the Stores on Social Media to find out about FLASH Sales – The weekly flash sales feature a product at 1/3 the regular cost, which is huge savings. Stock up and find ways to use every last bite of the feast. Did you see how I used every last mango during Mango Madness?

5. Don’t Throw Anything Away – If the average family throws away 1/2 their food, that’s a ton of money going into the trash. Why not buy only what you will surely eat, learn how to use food efficiently, and make leftovers the best part of the meal to get every dollar’s worth of the money you spend on your food?

6. Grab the Flyer – Online and at the front of the stores, you can find a flyer with money-saving coupons.

7. Listen to the Experts – Money Saving Mom and many other coupon blogs show how to match coupons with store sales for big savings.

8. BYO – Some stores encourage shoppers to bring bags by offering a small discount or prize. Don’t forget to bring a mesh tote for produce and jars for the bulk market, too. If you can weigh your own bulk goodies, put your container on the scale and then hit “TARE” to zero the weight so you don’t pay for anything more than your food. Otherwise, bring an extra so that the clerk can use the empty to determine the weight when you checkout.

9. Shop in Season – This is the tricky part. If you truly want to save money on food, you might have to eat boring food at times. The summer and fall are the best times to go wild with your food choices. Load up and freeze extra portions. Make soups with leftovers or experiment with canning. Learn your seasonal fruits and veggies and eat those at the right times. Chances are, the sales will match up with the seasons. (http://americanfood.about.com/od/resourcesadditionalinfo/a/seasonalprolist.htm)

10. Buy Local Produce – Join a CSA or Shop the Farmer’s Market for Produce. Supporting local farms is worth it in the long term.

If you’re looking to fill your cart with organic versions of everything you normally eat, it will definitely cost a lot more. But, a few healthy diet shifts can lead to an incredible opportunity to get your money’s worth on every bite.

Bonus tip: Grow your own! What better way to save money than to reap what you sow from seeds in your own backyard? You’ll save on transportation costs, packaging, fuel and benefit from a healthy dose of Vitamin D.

Motivation, Food, Exercise

At the beginning of 2013, I set a goal to eat great food. With a bed of home-grown greens, a fridge of fresh fruit, and a belly filled with energizing food, I am on the path to becoming a conscientious eater. In the past four months I have disproved several of my pre-conceived notions about healthy eating. I am gaining confidence in my ability to provide for my children through nature. Most importantly, I feel great. My whole family is benefitting from the happy feelings that accompany eating whole foods.

motivation food exercise

It is clear that motivation, food, and exercise are all tied together. As soon as I started focusing on one, the others immediately experienced a positive shift as well. Now I am gaining more and more motivation to keep eating healthful foods in order to exercise and live an energetic life. My motivation to eat healthy food is carrying into motivation to exercise. In turn, that builds a craving for more healthy food and the motivation spills into other aspects of my life. The thing is, ‘healthy’ is a loaded term and it truly is in the eye of the beholder.

To be fair, transitioning to a healthier diet has been both challenging and exciting. On the one hand, I am learning so much about the value of food on my body and for my family. From square one, I have been eager to discover the right combinations of foods that help us live an energetic lifestyle. On the other hand, I’m combatting the demons of cravings from nursing. I am so hungry that I will eat anything. I literally had to throw our food budget out the window. What I finally decided was that I should be focusing on our primary need – food. We could easily cut back on household supply costs and the clothing budget in order to add more flexibility at the market. This allows me to stock up on valuable foods when they become available. Even though I may spend more on apples than the non-organic counterpart, I know to buy them when they are in season so the overall cost is reasonable. I no longer fear the ‘organic’ label because I know what it means. Organic food has value. Since I value my body and want to help it perform, I’m making the effort to select more and more live, organic foods to fill our plates.

I have been kale-ing my husband with my new healthy focus. We are trying to establish a balance between wants and needs when it comes to foods. Obviously, eating can be an enjoyable act and I’m not sure we are ready to cut every single oreo from our diet. However, we can both agree that when we have fulfilling meal, we all benefit from added energy to carry out challenging projects and fun family activities. We’re allowing this transition time to take a while. There are foods in the cabinet that we want to use up and there are family recipes that we may never leave behind. But, the majority of the new food that we buy comes from the produce section or has a friendly organic label. I’m eager to add in more locally produced foods this summer, including the ones we grow in our own yard!

When I had the chance to attend the Philly Farm and Food Fest, courtesy of Rolling Barrel Events, I jumped at the chance to discover local vendors of wholesome farm-fresh foods and goods. It was incredible to be at a large event with so much enthusiasm for natural eating. I could feel the energy buzzing from the crowd because good food gives people energy! The best discovery for me was that West Chester hosts an Artisan Exchange every first and third Saturday to showcase local vendors in my own backyard. I am excited about cheese, chutney, and chocolate kale. I am a changed woman.

This summer, we’re loading our calendar with day trips to farms like Wyebrook Farm, Two Gander Farm, and Backyard Farmers. We’ll shop the farmer’s markets in Downingtown and West Chester and make friends with the local food distributors. We’re going to appreciate the ease of shopping at Whole Foods Markets and Kimberton Whole Foods. Most importantly, we will benefit from the satisfaction that comes from growing our own food.

I have never felt more alive than I do now that I choose to eat live food as much as I can.

I’m linking up with Motivation Monday to spread the word about how Moms find Motivation. Thanks  to our hosts:

Kegel Exercises Are Not What is Wrong with This World

As I’ve been making eco-friendly changes and learning more about childbirth and my body, I’ve realized that there will always be opposition to these topics. I feel lucky to live in a time when I have so much access to what I consider important information. I am also glad that I have a network of like-minded supporters for my choices.

The fact that this poster, about KEGELS, is turning into a controversy is mind blowing to me. The ad is part of a greater wellness campaign by Veria Living, a health and wellness cable network. I think the original ad is great. However, telling a woman that it’s wrong to do kegels is like telling a runner that it is wrong to exercise his or her legs. We were made to have babies and it takes a muscle to push out those babies.

pc muscles

(Courtesy Kara Rozansky)

An article on Gothamist hastily declared that this poster is making some wonder, “What is wrong with this World?” I couldn’t disagree more. If anything, I think that this poster should be in every midwife or Doctor’s office as a friendly and funny reminder to squeeze. I think that a sex-ed class that focused on this topic instead of how to select a tampon would be much more effective for the next generation. I wish someone had said to me in my teens, “There is nothing wrong with your body. This is what it can do. It’s beautiful, natural, and you don’t need a man to use your parts. Also, try a menstrual cup instead of a tampon so that you stop having cramps and headaches.”

First of all, we need to stop sexualizing Kegel exercises. When I was pregnant, I desperately searched for an app to find out how to kegel, what to kegel, and why to kegel. My best option was called, “Sex with Emily.” I think that this is sad for two reasons. How, at 25 years old, did I not know anything about kegeling besides Cosmo’s hasty instructions to ‘squeeze like you have to pee’? The other reason it is sad is that a 8 months pregnant, the last thoughts I wanted to combine were sex and exercise. If someone developed a Kegel App that ended with a nap, I would be all over that.

Since we’re on the topic, I’ll tell you what I know. Kegels are important. You need to do them or your vagina will fall out. I don’t know if that is exactly true, but I know that kegels are exercise and they are good for you. When you stretch and tighten muscles they work better in the long run. Exercise is a key component of pregnancy, too. Many workout videos suggest a few kegels in the middle of the program. I imagine that is why my step-mother chose not to do her videos in front of me and the additional teenagers in the house during her pregnancy. But, so what if she had? We could have all giggled about it the first 19 times and then, by the end of it we would be well on our way to being strong enough to give birth. It takes effort to push out a baby. This is why we call it labor.

How do you Kegel?

I don’t know how you kegel. Maybe you squeeze at every traffic stop. I’m truly asking a question here. I kegel infrequently, but I wish I remembered to do it more often. I love that Lindsay Brin reminds me to do them during toning exercises so I truly feel that I get a full-body workout. There are some serious kegel experts in this world and I would welcome the opportunity to learn more from them. Again, a kegel class would have been much more beneficial than AP calc at this point in my life. I plan to have more babies. There is no more space in my mind for differential equations.

Kegels aren’t just for Hippies

Women who give birth naturally aren’t plagued by stretchy vaginas. We can all tighten, relax, and rebuild our muscles prior to birth and after. Having a c-section also doesn’t prevent pelvic floor injuries. The benefits of kegeling reach far beyond the bedroom. We need these muscles to have more babies, to jump on trampolines, and to sneeze. Think of all the sanitary napkins we would save! While we’re on the topic of sanitary napkins, maybe it’s time to talk about mama cloth, too. There are helpful resources all over the internet on how to have a “greener” period. The experts in the eco-friendly world of feminine care are certainly less patronizing than Kotex. It’s true- you can run while you have your period!

Will Learning about Kegels Make my Teenager More Sexual?

I’ve made a decision to be a willing and honest resource for my girls when they are older. We’ll talk about kegels, natural labor, childbirth, sex, periods and I’ll answer their questions as honestly as possible. I will probably giggle because I am very immature about the topic. In my experience, the friends that I have known with open-minded parents have very reasonable attitudes about sex.

If you are offended by this post in any way, I would encourage you to start kegeling right now. Be sure to hold your breath while you hold your vagina. Keep holding… keep holding…

Breaking Up with my Pediatrician

By: Jeannette Bezinque

Our pediatrician did a bad, bad thing. Actually, he’s done a few bad things over the past year and a half that have led me to the decision to walk out the door. It’s not easy to select a doctor for your kids before becoming a parent. It’s even harder to recognize when that professional is giving you poor advice. I’ve been aching to find someone new for a long time. His words at Audrey’s 6 month checkup sealed the deal.

He thinks that I need to give Audrey rice cereal during the day to get her to sleep through the night. Now, he also suggested this at the four month visit and I balked at the idea because it didn’t work for Hannah. I’ve done a lot of boob-related soul searching to learn about what went wrong breastfeeding Hannah and there are quite a few things that I’ve pinpointed. For one thing, there was no need to begin feeding her solids at 4 months. Instead, I should have rested, drank more water, and allowed her more frequent access to the breast. This is what I should have done because I wanted to continue breastfeeding. It didn’t work out, and I ultimately weaned her around 7 months to both of our dismay. Sadly, our Ped supported this decision and encouraged me to wean early in order to allow my body to support the new baby I was carrying. In the depressing months that followed, I realized it wasn’t the right choice for us.

There are a lot of reasons why kids won’t sleep through the night at various points in their life. It’s also common for babies to follow a similar pattern of wakeful weeks around big developmental phases. Coincidentally, these line up with the 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 month checkups so it would be easy to mis-diagnose a sleep issue as a feeding issue. I know that Audrey is getting enough milk during the day because she is content, satisfied and happy. Not to mention- have you seen the cheeks on this kid? She is also pooping a plentiful volume. This is not a picture of hunger.

6 month old baby

However, he charted Audrey’s growth and noted that her weight has fallen from the 60th percentile to the 45th percentile since our last visit. I didn’t see this as a big issue since she’s been much more mobile in the past weeks and is still giving me plenty of indications that she is well-fed. Since I was concerned that he wasn’t making the right suggestion, I asked if I should work at augmenting my supply. He told me that most women ‘top off’ around 32 ounces per day so there was no point in going that route. REALLY?! If that’s the case, then how do women feed twins, or tandem nurse a toddler and a baby? I suppose he didn’t think either of those could be done without formula since he already pushed me into weaning my first child prior to a baby’s arrival.

I put this topic up for discussion in my nursing support group and found great feedback. First of all, some pediatricians follow a completely separate growth chart for breastfed babies because it is normal and healthy for their weight gain to drop off at this stage. Another mama chimed in that she produces 50 oz per day after experiencing low supply issues early on. Everyone supported my decision to wait to feed Audrey cereal as a means to get her to sleep through the night. It simply doesn’t work like that. There are too many reasons why children wake at night and in this case, it’s not because she isn’t getting enough to eat each day.
crappy magAs if I didn’t already have enough cannon fodder to execute the decision to leave the practice, I noticed a stack of magazines on the way out the door. Articles titled, “Why Breast wasn’t best for my Baby” and “It’s OK to let him cry it out (really)” don’t belong in the office of the Doctor that’s right for our family. Along with the formula propaganda on the growth charts, I finally see that I’ve been in the wrong environment for a breast feeding Mom. I’ll be more careful with my selection next time because I know now what an advocate for breastfeeding looks like. It’s not just a person who states that breast feeding is “wonderful.” It is a person who makes a commitment to our children to best educate parents about their needs for a healthy start.

Family Friendly Workout

This workout is sure to inspire movement and activity for the whole family. It’s something you can do inside or outside, so it’s a great activity for children on a rainy day. Actually, it’s a great activity for every day! My 5 month old does ‘Belly Time’ while the 19 month old and I go through the moves. She can’t get them all, but she is learning and following more each day. One year olds should get at least 5 minutes of age-appropriate ‘strenuous’ activity each day. Older kids need more than that. Even if you get bored from this workout, your kids won’t tire of it. They love repetition, so get ready to have fun as you watch them kick, stretch and groove along with you.

Did you know that following instructions is one of the most important skills for children to learn? Games like Simon Says are perfect for practicing this. You can also incorporate yoga or Follow the Leader. Coincidentally, “Mama May I” is a great game to play and the shop owner behind Mama May I inspired this very post. I hope that you and your girls enjoy this activity Jessica!

family workout

Copy and Paste Instructions onto your phone for a reference:

1. All Ages Yoga Stretch

Reach up high, crouch down low, stretch out as a star, crouch

5 reps

2. Sing and Move

Head and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes

(2x slow, 2x fast) 5 reps

3. Shake your Sillies Out!

Jog, high knees, or ski in place for 30 seconds

4. Arm Circles

Grape, basketball, watermelon, tire.

Forward then backward

5. Imaginary Hula Hoop

Circle hips right and left at varying speeds

6. FREEZE

Start with 5 seconds, increase each time until you get to 30 seconds

7. Tickle Box

A Baby, a Birth, a Home

Eco Incognito explains homebirth babyLast August, I gave birth to my second daughter. Like all mothers, I wanted to give birth to a healthy baby. Unlike most other mothers in the US, I chose to give birth at home. Making that choice wasn’t easy, but it should have been. Giving birth is a perfectly natural process and our bodies are designed perfectly to give birth. If all it takes to have confidence in that fact is hearing from others that homebirths are happening, I’ll start by saying I did it.

I didn’t expect to have an easy delivery with my first baby because my Mother had a c-section. I was wrong in thinking that genetics have anything to do with how a birth progresses. Sadly, I was even more wrong to grow up thinking that I wouldn’t be able to push a baby naturally. The best advice that I can give any pregnant woman is to believe that your body will open to let out your baby. Ultimately, I discovered that after a series of events that helped me choose to give birth naturally, without drugs or interventions, to my first daughter.

Early in pregnancy, I sat next to a Father of 3 on a flight who tolerated my frequent use of the sick bag and eased my nausea by sharing his wife’s birth stories. I listened in shock about the hospital birth, then unmedicated birth, and finally their birth at home. The man reminded me a little too much of my husband, especially when he started to equate the home birth to a challenge like climbing Everest. I began to realize that the baby I carried was just as much my husband’s child and I could hardly imagine that if given the opportunity to have a baby he would take the challenge lying down.

Coincidentally, I spent the vacation lying down reading. After racing through my baby books, I raided my Mother-In-Law’s bookshelf and read a book about a young pioneer woman who gave birth on her own in the kitchen. It blew my mind and when I brought it up I was surprised to find out that Moms I knew (including my husband’s) had also had natural deliveries.

When I reached the second trimester, my renewed energy allowed me to exercise, eat well, and connect with my baby by being healthy. I began to feel Hannah’s strong kicks and I quickly realized how much she would be like my husband. I wanted to do everything to help her be strong and energetic throughout her life.

I finally rented a video (Laugh and Learn about Childbirth) to help decide our birth plan. I loved the nurse’s suggestion to relax in between the contractions. I had no idea that you got breaks in the pain, so birth seemed totally manageable if I could just breathe through the hard parts and then rest. After all, I’d been a yoga devotee for years and they weren’t asking me to last through a contraction any longer than some of the poses in class. However, the information about the epidural was a total turn-off. Trying to figure out the magic point at which I would ask for an epidural was mind boggling since it could easily result in a longer birth or lead to complications. Plus, what if I couldn’t get to the hospital in time or it didn’t work? How was I going to get that baby out?

I tried to encourage my husband’s participation in the birth by getting him the book Husband Coached Childbirth by Dr. Bradley. He didn’t read too much of it, but I pored through it. For the first time, I was enjoying reading birth stories. The birth methods made sense and many of the preparations leading up to birth were things I was already doing. When I read that swimmers have a strong advantage during birth, I knew that with my husband’s help, that would be the best way for me to have Hannah. I let him coach me on swimming for the final months of the pregnancy and entered the hospital with the courage to have a natural birth. I’m so happy to have made that choice because it eased my fears about an early delivery. Knowing that she would not be impacted by any medications made it much easier to welcome her into my arms.

Still, it wasn’t a “perfect birth” and there were things about being in the hospital that just didn’t seem right. After all, the cardinal rules of a healthy pregnancy are to avoid lying on your back, hydrate, eat healthy foods, and don’t use drugs. Why was a place that inhibited all those rules the “best” place to give birth? I learned that it is just as safe for a healthy mother to have a healthy baby under the care of a midwife and chose that for Audrey’s birth. If you read “There’s No Place Like Home,” then you already know it was the best choice I ever made.

The BEST Resolution for 2013

Happy New Year! Let’s talk about the BEST new year’s resolutions for 2013.

2013 is the year of the GREEN. Make your main goal for the year a commitment to being more eco-friendly. When you strive to be green, you fulfill resolutions every day. Whether you want to save money, lose weight, or have a positive impact on your community, being green has a solution for every goal.

green new year's resolutions

To help you get started, I’ve assembled 13 ways to incorporate natural living into your family.

PICK ONE and leave a comment to choose your resolution for 2013.

13. Recycling

12. Cloth Diapering

11. Avoiding GMO-Foods

10. Composting

9. Breastfeeding

8. Babywearing

7. Natural labor

6. Green cleaning supplies

5. Using cloth towels

4. Minimizing food waste

3. Reusing food storage containers

2. Enriching young minds

The #1 way to be more green in 2013 is to GROW GREEN THINGS!

1. Gardening

I’m on a mission to grow better kids and I’m planning to do this by raising gardeners. I am positive that a passion for gardening will improve life for the next generation. Not everyone who is green is going to change the world. A lot of people don’t want to change the world at all. However, a path of light footprints will leave the world a better place. You can start in your own home by making small changes to use your resources more effectively, and gradually tackling bigger and better challenges as being green gets easier.

When you set your mind on a green intention, let it grow.