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. 
Clear the Clutter, Hope's Healthy Kitchen

How to Stock Your Kitchen

We are off on another road trip starting today as an early celebration of our wedding anniversary……I can’t believe it has been 11 years since we got married and in October, we will be together 20 years!  Where does the time go?

No, this is NOT a picture of our kitchen in our forever home But we do have lots of space.  As a result, I am always on the hunt to find ways to keep things well-stocked and organized.  What about you… do you have an organized kitchen and pantry?  Are you ready with plenty of items on-hand to whip up a healthy meal anytime – without having to leave the comfort of your home?  Keep these tips in mind while you’re shopping and putting groceries away to be a prep pro!

PANTRY PERFECTION

Your pantry may not be this big (not mine BUT ours is about this big!).  Organize your pantry or cupboard in sections:

  • Baking ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda.  Mine also includes chips, brown sugar and anything else I may need when baking.

  • Oils & vinegar (mine are actually over my stove in a cabinet so they are easy to reach)

  • Herb & Spice blends (a totally separate cabinet close to the stove so I don’t have to go to far)

  • Canned goods: beans, lentils, fish, tomatoes, vegetables

  • Dry goods; pasta, rice, quinoa

TIP: Put veggies like onions and potatoes in bins and store in a cool, well-ventilated place.  Mine are in Tupperware bins in yet another cabinet in the kitchen.  LOL.

STOCK YOUR FREEZER

Is meal prep a thing at your house?  The closest I get to meal prep in the freezer is having lots of frozen vegetables, and meats on had.  Extra portions of meals (aka leftovers) are also frozen for those quick easy lunches or dinners when I’m not feeling well.  For many, meal prep means making big batches and then lay soups, broths, and chili flat in resealable bags for use during the week. Always keep frozen veggies and fruit in your freezer, along with your favorite protein.

TIP: Freeze leftovers in family-or-individual-sized containers for a quick “heat-and-eat meal” for the nights when you’re too busy to cook.

FIND IT FAST IN YOUR FRIDGE

Divide your fridge into sections:

  • Dairy/eggs, condiments (in the side door)

  • Veggies/fruit, meat/fish/poultry on a tray or plate to avoid leaks or in drawers if you have them.

  • Beverages

TIP: Keep prepped veggies and fruit near the front for quick access

SHOP WISELY 

The foods you choose to fuel your body directly impact your health. Whether you’re shopping online or stocking up on groceries to avoid the grocery line, here are some kitchen staples to keep you going:

Greek yogurt | Buy: 2%, plain, non-sweetened | Why: Fat-free can mean added sugar, and flavored yogurts can greatly increase your sugar intake.  Plain greek yogurt adds extra protein and can be “sweetened” with fruit or granola or a little Stevia.

Canned tomatoes | Buy: Low sodium | Why: We want to live well and feel great. For some people, too much sodium can make them retain water.

Olive oil | Buy: Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil – this is the healthiest because it comes from the first pressing and no chemicals were used in extraction | Why: Light olive oils do not mean light in calories, often, it means light in flavor.

Canned beans | Hack: Rinse your beans before use and reduce sodium by almost 30%

Pasta | Buy: Look for the first words to be “whole grain” on the ingredient list | Why: You want to avoid overly processed refined grains

Nuts & seeds | Buy: Natural, unsalted | Why: Sometimes nuts and seeds are coated with partially hydrogenated oil and added salt

Canned tuna & salmon | Buy: Packed in water, low sodium | Why: It will have less sodium and added fat

Crackers | Buy: Look for “whole grain” to be the first words on the ingredient list. They should have at least 3 g of fibre per serving and be low in sodium Why: Crackers can be overly processed and made with refined grains | Hack: Make your own healthy crackers with Everything Bagel Crackers.

 

 

Finally, remember to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Buy real food. Use wholesome ingredients.

  • Avoid shopping when you’re hungry (in-store or online).

  • Always have a list and stick to it.

For kitchen tips & tricks, recipes and more, check out Hope’s Healthy Kitchen on Facebook or my website at www.HopesHealthyKitchen.com

Have an Epic Day!

Feel Good Friday, Hope Wissel, Tasty Tuesday Recipes

How to Make a Charcuterie Board

The term “charcuterie” refers to the preparing of cured meats, like prosciutto, bacon, salami, etc., but these days when people say charcuterie, they are usually referring to a fun, meat and cheese board.

It is a perfect way to nosh yummy goodies over a glass of wine, a cocktail, or even a mocktail.  It’s a fun way to get creative and add pops of color to your menu to impress your guests. From the board up, here’s how to make an epic charcuterie board.  Whether you are hosting a party or enjoying a family movie night, these are alway a lot of fun.

 

THE BOARD

You don’t have to get fancy here! A simple flat, sturdy surface will work—in any shape or size. You’re going to add layers of goodness on top, so any wooden cutting board, platter, or plate will do the trick.

COLOR & TEXTURE

What makes a great board pop is layers of color and texture. Think bright: reds, greens, yellows, and oranges—strawberries, cherries, olives, sliced peppers—and texture, shiny and smooth, along with rough and edgy—think figs, crackers, and dips.

START WITH DIPS

These are essential – they deliver the extra punch of flavor to each bite. Put your dips in small bowls, along with olives and pickles, cubed cheeses, jellies, and mustards, placing them on your board first, then build the rest of the ingredients around them. This will anchor your ingredients and you can use different shapes and sizes to add depth and variety.

Try:

Nacho Cheese Dip Mix – best served with tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream

Ooey Gooey Queso Hot Dip – serve with tortilla chips, pretzel bites, veggies

CCB Dip – delicious with raw vegetables, potato chips, or crackers

MEAT & CHEESE

Have fun with the style here—serve cheese in cubes, slices, and wedges, including brie, bleu, fresh cheese, and cheddar. Genoa Salami, Italian Dry Salame, Peppered Salami, Prosciutto are great additions to your board—variety is what will make it stand out! You can even wrap Prosciutto around pickled asparagus spears and layer them on the board. Don’t forget your

CRACKERS, CHIPS & BREAD

This part is important – the delivery vehicle for all that goodness! Try to add two to four different kinds here. Get fresh baguette from your local bakery and make home-made chips and crackers to really take this over the top! We love the versatility of Whole-Grain Rosemary Crackers because you can make them with sesame, sunflower, or chia seeds in place of the flax seeds in the recipe…or a combo of all three!

Whole-Grain Rosemary Crackers – pictured

Everything Bagel Crackers

Pita Chips

FRUIT, VEGGIE & GARNISH

After you’ve stacked your board with your bread, chips, and crackers, it’s time to fill in the gaps with fresh fruit, veggies, and garnishes. There are no rules here! Just go with what you have on-hand, and what makes sense to you! Apple slices and grapes are obvious choices, but you can go nuts here—really! Add almonds, walnuts, cashews, along with apricots, kumquats, and more! The possibilities are endless. Garnish with fresh rosemary, mint, or parsley to add that festive green colour.

And, one last tip, try to add something sweet, savoury, salty, and spicy to every board to perfectly balance the experience and suit every taste in your bubble!

What are your best tips for making “boards”?  With summer coming, what will you add to yours to make it POP?  Share your ideas with us…

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!