Hope Wissel

How to Save on Your Grocery Bill

You many not save a BUCKET of money but you will save some.  As the cost of groceries continues to rise, I’m sure you are like us and feeling the pinch.  Meal planning is already stressful for some NOW factor in the soaring cost of food and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Despite the state of the economy (no political comments please), stocking your kitchen pantry to feed yourself and your family is a weekly necessity. So, today, we’re making things easy for you by providing everything you need to know about shopping wisely, getting a good deal, and keeping your expenses low.

5 EASY WAYS TO SAVE BIG ON YOUR GROCERY BILL

1. PLAN YOUR MEALS AND CREATE A GROCERY LIST

Start by taking an inventory of your kitchen before going to the supermarket.   Make note of the things running low or you want to be sure you have a back up for.  You know those things that could cause you to make an extra stop or run to the store because not having them would cause havoc in your household. Take the time to write out a grocery list.  It will help you stick to a budget and avoid overspending by reducing unnecessary purchases.   I keep mine on my phone and as I think of things, I add them to the list.  My meal planning journal is on the fridge.  I usually plan on Saturdays, and shop on Mondays.

2. BROWSE THROUGH FLYERS AND GROCERY STORE WEBSITES

This is a simple but effective way to check for sales, lowest price options, and discounts.  It doesn’t mean you have to always go to multiple stores to get what you need.  I mean with the price of gas, this would be CRAZY, right?  I tend to compare prices, see who has most of the things I want on sale and start there.  Honestly, my two stores are usually Aldi’s and Acme.  So I hit Aldi’s first then stop to Acme on my way home.  Be sure you are part fo your store’s rewards program.  Try using apps like Ibotta or Fetch where you earn money or rewards for the shopping you do every day.  I also use Shopkick to earn discounts. For more rewards tips, see #6.

3. CONSIDER BUYING IN BULK

Not only does this save you more trips to the grocery store, but it’s often more cost- effective too.  If you are shopping at the BULK stores be sure you know what your per item cost usually is.  WHY? If you are not careful, you may end up paying more than you would if you bought multiple items in the grocery store.  Since there are only 2 of us, we don’t do bulk stores BUT I do keep a stocked pantry.  We are prepared for any and all emergencies.

4. EAT MORE PLANT-BASED

Meat now costs nearly 24% more than it did two years ago, and the prices continue to rise. The good news is there are tons of budget-friendly options out there to meet your protein needs. Plant-based proteins like chickpeas, edamame, beans, and tofu are great alternatives. We don’t do tofu since I have never been able to cook it so it tastes good BUT we do do other plant based options.  For more ideas and recipes, be sure to check out this blog post all about plant-based eating!

5. BUY SEASONAL

Out-of-season produce is typically more expensive.  If you have a local community farm, join it. Yes, there is an initial cost BUT in the long run for approximately 12 weeks plus, you will have awesome healthy fresh produce.  Don’t know what is in season?  Doing a fast search before you start planning and/or preparing your meals.  Also, remember to store your produce in air-tight containers, like our Stay With Me Produce Savers, to limit food waste while stretching your dollar!

6. MAKE USE OF LOYALTY PROGRAMS & PRICE-MATCHING APPS

Find a grocery store with a loyalty program so you can get a rebate with every spend. Make a game out of it.. wouldn’t you love to see the savings line at the end of the grocery receipt? Most grocery stores will honor a price match – bring your circular with you from the other store.

7. SHOP YOUR GROCERY STORE BRAND PRODUCTS

They are just as good and often a lot less expensive than name-brand products! Did you know many store brands are made by your favorite “name” brand company?

8. CARVE OUT TIME FOR MEAL PREP AFTER GROCERY SHOPPING

It may take some extra time, but it makes your week so much smoother. Tuna, pasta, quinoa, rice, canned tomatoes, rolled oats, beans, and peanut butter are some of my favorite low-cost pantry staples. When the kitchen is stocked with healthy options, there’s no need to eat out.

9. USE THE FREEZER TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE

Yes, there are only 2 of us in the house.  Yes, I do buy family packs of chicken breasts, then divide and freeze into smaller batches. I buy bulk meat and re-package them into smaller amounts based on our average dinner recipe. Frozen vegetables and fruit are also great when not in season.

What money-saving tips have helped you when grocery shopping? Which new recipes or tips are you most likely to try? Let us know – share them with us.

Have an Epic Day!

Cleaning Tips and Tricks, Hope Wissel

Easy Tips for Cleaning Your Grill

Grilling season here, and if your grill is still buried in the ashes of last summer’s Buffalo wings, steaks, and burgers, NOW is the time to give it some much-needed attention. Whether you’re using a charcoal or gas grill, these simple clean-up and grill guide is sure to equip you with all the right steps to becoming the ultimate grill-master this season!

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO CLEAN YOUR GRILL

I vaguely remember growing up with the theory of “burning off the old” and not really cleaning the grates.  Yup, I’m old and our grill was well used all year long.  Did you know when you leave remnants of your last meal on the grates, it will char and burn the next time you fire up the BBQ. It seems like a no-brainer, right?  This not only changes the taste but also the quality of your barbecue.  The burnt pieces are also harmful to your health. When you burn those charred bits at high temperatures, a harmful chemical compound is produced which can potentially increase your risk of cancer. So you definitely don’t want to keep the old stuff around!

STEPS TO CLEANING YOUR GRILL

1. GRILL GATE REMOVAL AND CLEANING

Grates must be maintained clean because they are in direct contact with food. Remove the cool grates first, then use a brush to remove any large debris. Next you’ll want to  immerse the grates in hot water and dish soap. Let them soak in a sink or large bucket to make it easier to scrub later. Lastly, clean the grill with a firm grill brush,  rinse and dry!

2. INTERNAL CLEANING OF THE GRILL 

Brush the grates’ interior to remove any gunk gathering at the bottom and around the sides.  If you have a charcoal barbecue, you’ll want to scrape away any large peeling flakes of carbon/grease from the ash catcher and empty it.  To make cleaning easier the next time, wash the drip pan and grease cup in warm soapy water and line with aluminium foil.

3. EXTERNAL CLEANING OF THE GRILL 

Using a sponge or towel soaked in warm soapy water, wipe off the exterior, handles, side trays, and any bottom doors. Thoroughly rinse and dry before firing up the grill.

Brush Safety

If you opt to use a brush with bristles to clean your grill, follow these safety steps:

  • Grill brushes are like toothbrushes. When you see the bristles beginning to flatten or lose their efficacy, it’s time to replace.
  • Apply the “tweezer test”: take a pair of tweezers, randomly select five to 10 bristles and gently pull – if any bristles come off, it’s time to replace.
  • It is not recommend to leave grill brushes exposed to the elements when not in use. The rain, sunlight, humidity, snow, etc., can age them prematurely.
  • Above all, treat your grill brush just as you would any part of your grill and grilling environment: Follow manufacturers’ instructions and continuously inspect before and after using.

GRILL RECIPE TO KICKSTART THE BBQ SEASON

Now you’ve given your grill a total-body-scrubdown, it’s time to get grilling! So, pull out all your favorite gear and get ready to try out a new recipe idea!

Share some of your favorite tips and tricks that help you get through your cleaning routine? Which grill-worthy recipes are you most excited to try this season?
Looking for more recipes and hacks, check out my VIP group – Hope’s Healthy Kitchen. 
Hope Wissel

Marinating 101

Grilling season is upon us – does it excite you or intimate you?

Don’t just toss the meat on the grill and hope for the best…..Are you ready to add an amazing layer of flavor to your meal by simply letting food rest in the fridge?  YUP.. it is that simple.  Marinating is a versatile and fun cooking method even you can pull off if you are clueless.  I was there once too!  I actually marinate chicken and beef the most and cook in my air fryer all year long.

Why marinate?

Hey is the “technical explanation”:  Marination uses acid to break down proteins in meat, naturally tenderizing it and allowing it to better absorb the spices and other flavors. The oil seals in moisture and adds a level of protection against heat. If you eat organic grass fed like we do, this is HUGE because the meat becomes tender and juicy. 🛑WARNING: if meat is left in citrus for more than 24 hours, it will begin to “cook,” and we definitely don’t want that to happen!  It will not be good!

Experiment 

The sky is the limit with marinades!  You can let your creativity flow.  It all starts with the 3️⃣: The basic ratio is three parts oil to one part acid. The acid can be vinegar, wine, citrus or yogurt, while the oil could be sesame, canola, olive or even fish sauce. Beef, chicken, veggies and tofu can generally take the same marinades, with the variety stemming more from the flavor profile. In addition to oil and acid, you also need to consider a third component: the flavor! This is the herbs, spices, aromatics and salt.  Here is where you can really get creative!

Two reasons to marinate meat is tenderizing and to add flavor. As for beef, more affordable meats like flank or sirloin will really benefit, especially from tenderization.  No need to spend a fortune on premium cuts of meat to get a better taste, try your hand at marinating.

The key is timing

Marinating might not be ideal when you’re in a time crunch, but it doesn’t take as long as you might think. For beef and chicken, it is recommended two hours can do the job. You don’t want to go over 24 hours or so, as the marinade can toughen the meat. For fish, the general rule is 30 minutes, otherwise the fish can begin to cook. Veggies only need about 30 minutes, as they don’t need to be tenderized.

 

Put TLC into the prep

How can you help the marinade soak into the food. Start by chopping and removing skin when possible. As an added benefit, smaller pieces allow for faster cooking. As you prepare your marinade, calculate portions properly so you’ll have enough: Think a half cup of marinade per pound of meat. Be sure to reserve some sauce before you submerge the meat. Once you’re ready to start, one of the easiest ways to distribute the marinade and help with cleanup is to use a zipper-locked plastic bag (my favorite), but nonmetal covered bowls work, too. Don’t use foil, because a chemical reaction could botch your entire recipe. NEVER marinate at room temperature. Slip your food in the fridge, set a timer and enjoy the anticipation!

Share your favorite marinade with us… Looking for some more ideas, check out the recipes on my website by clicking the link.

Happy grilling and have an epic day!

Hope Wissel, Tasty Tuesday Recipes

5 Simple Tips for Healthy Habits

As many of you know, I have been on WW for an eternity. LOL.   I lost my initial 105 pounds and am happy to say, I have kept most of it off.  MS has caused some weight gain – the only thing I can attribute it to since I track and am stepping. I’m not beating myself up over it.  It is all about healthier eating and NOT the numbers on the scale.  Now if I could only remember that, all would be well.  Are you focused on healthy eating or the numbers on the scale?

Here are five tips to help you adopt some new healthy habits:

1.     START WITH A PLAN 

Planning out your meals for the week is a great way to set you up for success. I started doing it so I didn’t have to deal with MS struggles over what to fix for dinner.

My advice – Keep it simple. 

I usually plan out on Friday or Saturday knowing I will grocery shop on Sunday or Monday.  Pick least busy day of the week and take a few minutes to pick out some recipes and create a grocery list. I have a meal planner I post on the fridge so I can not only plan meals but also not repeat the same ones constantly.  For some, having “Meatless Mondays” or “Taco Tuesdays” can make it a lot easier!  Epicure has several collections with pre-made grocery lists, swap options, perfectly balanced plate suggestions, and pro tips throughout!

2.     MAKE TIME FOR COOKING 

Now for the fun part—preparing those delicious recipes you picked out!  Making time for cooking gives you the opportunity to try out new recipes, make good food choices, or even remake your favorite takeout dishes in a healthier way at home! YES, it’s also a great way to lower your food bill. Meal prepping looks different for everyone.  For some, it may involve prepping a variety of foods in larger quantities, so you don’t have to worry about it during the week. For others, it is cooking once and using the meat in several meals during the week.  Of course, you’ll need plenty of containers to store your meals and keep things fresh. Our storage solutions make it simple to portion out your ingredients and tackle hassle-free meals on the go!

3.     EAT COLORFULLY 

Adding color to your plate is a simple way to ensure you’re getting a variety of nutrients. Keep an eye out for recipes with more vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. These foods are full of antioxidants, fiber, protein and healthy fats—key components to maintaining good health! Plant-based foods are also friendlier to our environment as they require fewer resources and greenhouse gases to produce. You’ll be reducing your carbon footprint while also benefiting from the amazing nutrition benefits these foods bring to the table.  Check out some of our favorite plant-based recipes here!

4.     MAKE USE OF HERBS & SPICES 

Many people consume more sodium than they need. It’s easy to exceed the dietary recommendations, but the good news is salt is a largely acquired taste. So, over time you can actually sensitize your pallet to embrace lower levels of salt. Changing to sea salt or himalayan pink salt is better too. Seasoning your food with more herbs and spices is a great way to limit your sodium intake without missing out on flavor!  Epicure’s hand-crafted spice blends are perfect for creating low-sodium meals while also simplifying your time in the kitchen!  Many of them have NO sodium too!

5.     DON’T SKIP OUT ON DESSERT! 

Toss out the idea there are morally “good” and “bad” foods!

A healthy, sustainable diet won’t leave you feeling deprived and miserable. Food is meant to be enjoyed and your journey to good health should be no different. By giving yourself permission to eat “bad” foods, they lose their novelty and we’re less likely to obsess over them. Remember it’s not about restricting yourself, rather making balanced choices. Give yourself the freedom to consume the foods you love and your health journey will be a lot more enjoyable.  PLUS you’ll be more likely to stick to your routine long term.  Take a look at some of our favorite healthy dessert options !

The journey towards getting AND keeping healthy habits can take time so be kind to yourself. There may be challenges along the way but try to view them as opportunities to learn and grow. I am always here to bounce ideas around with you.  Remember, you are NOT alone. If you’re looking for motivation, support, and dietitian-approved tips, we invite you to join our online community and #EpicLife Challenge starting on May 10th!

Have an Epic day!

Hope Wissel

How It All Started: Bullying – The Visible vs the Invisible

I know it is Tuesday and we usually do a Tastefully Tuesday BUT this is a milestone for me.  I swear it has been longer BUT the internet doesn’t lie, right?  LOL.  So, 9 years ago today I took the first step towards blogging.  For those who don’t know the story………it was a challenge issued by the AMAZING Vanessa Coppes to step out of my comfort zone.  Well, I did it!  It was the start to a daily  blog posting for many years.  Since MS, I have cut back to about once a week but I’m excited to be writing again.

My heart breaks that this still goes on today.  Bullies come in all shapes & sizes; young & old.  If you know someone who is making you uncomfortable in your surroundings (home, work or neighborhood)… guess what you are being BULLIED!  No one deserves to live like this…. With the advancement of social media, the bullying techniques have changed; sadly it now is more prevalent than ever before.

This is MY first every blog post… yes there are grammar mistakes, yes there are some typos.  I didn’t change anything about it because it was from the heart ❤ and I wanted to share my heart with you………

I just wanted to share how “bullying” can be hidden by our children. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, it just means that you may have taught your child coping skills to help deal with the bullying from school mates. Bear with me as I share some background information..

As a single mom for 14 years who worked full-time trying to provide all of the things that I had when I was growing up and more for my daughter, Belinda. Isn’t that every parent’s wish – to give their child more?  I moved to a double wide trailer in a trailer park in an area that had a good school district, lots of children my daughter’s age and it was affordable.  My daughter was involved in a lot of activities outside of school – first competitive gymnastics, then field hockey then all-star cheering. This was my way of making sure Belinda stayed away from the “wrong crowd”. She went to public school until she was a Sophomore in HS when she asked to be changed to a private Christian school where our Pastor’s family taught and went to school. Her reasons made sense so we juggled the budget and Belinda graduated from Pilgrim Academy – smiling, happy, ready for college & still living in the trailer park. Belinda traveled 13 hours to go college – Western Carolina University. I was heart-broken that she was so far away but after the first semester, she excelled – graduated with honors in the Honors College program.

Here is when the “clueless mom” found out what had really been happening…My daughter is a social worker that loves working with troubled kids. As she was preparing her applications for grad school for her Masters in Macro-Social Work, she had to write some essays as to why she felt she would belonged in this field. Since I am a grant-writer, she asked me to review her essays (like she usually did) to check grammar, etc. This is when I found out the “horror” of my daughter’s school years….

Belinda recounts many tales of verbal abuse from school mates because we lived in a trailer park that as the years passed became like the “projects” of the Township. She only invited her closest friends back to our house for sleep overs, parties, etc. I never really thought about it since I was working, juggling her activities and making sure that her homework was done. The truth was very few parents wanted their children to come over because of where we lived – not necessarily our home but the neighborhood. Belinda talks about how people used to call her “trailer trash”. The outside sports activities along with my example of what a strong woman could do is what she attributes to her success. Some called her a “snob” because she was involved in outside sports.  Then when she became active in church, more verbal abuse came.  Some of her friends from the trailer park fell into the lives that people expected – sexually active, lots of unsupervised parties, drugs, alcohol and more. I was blessed, Belinda didn’t do any of that. 

Many believe that if I was clueless about the verbal abuse, I would be clueless about everything else…My daughter and I had and still have an amazing relationship. When I asked her why she never told me, her response “I didn’t want to hurt you because I knew you were doing the best you could. The material things didn’t matter because you were always there for me”. My daughter has amazing attributes – self confidence, speaks her mind (sometimes without tack) and is forever looking to help the underserved youth in her community.  She tells me on a regular basis how she hopes to accomplish all that I have both professionally and personally. 

I wanted to share this to let people know that bullying isn’t always visible, it can happen to any child. As I travel back to our old hometown, I look around and ask my husband – was I that “clueless” about what life was like. His response is always the same – “You did what you had to do to make sure that Belinda had everything she needed even if it wasn’t always what she wanted. As a result, she is a bright, intelligent & confident woman who wants to take on the world to make it a better place”.

Thank you for taking the time to read this….share this with someone who may need to know they are not alone….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!