Weekend Links

Keeper of the Home

Links for this week:

The One Plate Project (How To Teach Your Kids To Share) @ A Deeper Story

Those little things I miss @ Simple Homeschool

The Best Mocha You’ll Ever Need @ Heavenly Homemakers

How Pursuing Your Gifts Impacts Your Kids @ A Holy Experience

Keeping journals: 5 ways your kids can start now @ The Art of Simple

Fermented Mixed Berries @ Nourished Kitchen

The Only Way Out @ (in)courage

The Best Chapped Lips Remedy: Homemade Lip Balm @ The Greenbacks Gal

And a question from our Facebook page this week… What’s your favorite thing to do when you have time time to yourself? Read? Crafting? Listen to music or a podcast? Binge-watch on Netflix?

What Happened When I Quit Coffee

What Happened When I Quit Coffee {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

By Stacy Karen, Contributing Writer

Coffee.

The beverage that seems more like a king than a mere drink. Adored and revered by it’s faithful followers the world over.

It’s the one thing that many of us refuse to start our days without.

Plus, drinking coffee includes you in a worldwide club where members write about it, think about it, joke about it, and savor it, each and every day.

Why?

Because it’s good!

Coffee is delicious. Especially with cream . . .

But I’m getting distracted from my point here.

Coffee, ahem, yes, coffee, that beverage I had to give up.

Let me tell you the story . . .

Growing up, I never expected to be a coffee drinker. I hated the taste. Tea was more my thing and well-suited my British heritage.

However, a number of years ago, fatigue hit me like a ton of bricks.

I have three children and live a busy life. I couldn’t keep up anymore.

I was just tired. All. The. Time.

(Little did I know, I had a thyroid condition.)

I noticed people bebopping around talking about how much they loved coffee. How they couldn’t function without it. How it helped them think.

I figured, if it worked for them, it should work for me, too.

And it did.

Kind of.

I felt a little surge of energy, but not the “awake” feeling I had imagined.

I was more jittery than awake. But, the nervous energy seemed to keep me going.

So, I started drinking coffee regularly.

It became a ritual.

And since I don’t do things lightly, I dove into the coffee realm full force, bought myself a chemex and ground coffee beans fresh, just to make sure it tasted good.

And it did.

What Happened When I Quit Coffee {KeeperOfTheHome.org}
Image by Susanne Nilsson

Fast forward a few years . . .

Daily coffee drinking was now a firm habit. I enjoyed it so much I would go to sleep thinking about how I was looking forward to my first cup in the morning. Scary, I know.

It was about this time that I had a complete health crisis.

I won’t say that coffee drinking was responsible for that. But, I do think it was a contributing factor.

I began to feel anxious and irritable all the time.

And my adrenal glands were shot.

Any little noise would make me jump and I’d feel an adrenaline rush before I knew what hit me.

If someone was too close to my face, I had to close my eyes.

All of my senses were on high alert.

At this point, I did not relate any of this to drinking coffee.

But, once I discovered an underlying thyroid condition (Hashimoto’s), my doctor decided to run a food allergy test.

The test was not a traditional food allergy test, but one that measured the immune system response to certain foods. (It’s called an IgG ELISA test. Read more about it here.)

I’m sure you know where this is going . . .

My #1 food allergy = coffee!

I almost laughed. It seemed so ridiculous.

But I also wanted to cry. I didn’t want to leave my beloved coffee club.

I didn’t want to stop grinding the beans and smelling the delicious aroma.

What Happened When I Quit Coffee {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

In some ways I was crushed.

I had already discovered an allergy to gluten a few months prior and it felt let all of my favorite things wee being taken away from me. 

First world problems. Yes. But, I’m sure you understand.

So, what happened then?

Well, I did it.

I quit.

I stopped drinking coffee.

I figured it was in my best interest to cease putting something in my body that was causing my immune system to go haywire.

Thankfully my withdrawals were fairly short lived and not half as bad as expected.

What surprised me the most:

Within a week I started to feel better.

I actually had MORE energy.

I was less irritable and jumpy.

Having more energy was probably the most unexpected benefit.

I can say for sure that this is directly related to coffee drinking (at least for me), since when I fall down on my commitment to be coffee-free and actually have a cup (yes, not perfect here, by any means), I end up feeling more tired. The extra tiredness I feel from drinking coffee is quite dramatic.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the various ways my health has improved over the past year, see this post: My Return to Health.

What Happened When I Quit Coffee {KeeperOfTheHome.org}
Image by Luz Bratcher

What I’ve learned

While coffee does have some health benefits, excessive, habitual use can be detrimental. Especially if you have an underlying health condition.

The high caffeine content of coffee can raise cortisol levels by increasing the production of adrenocorticotropic hormone by the pituitary gland.

Sarah Ballantyne, PhD states (in her book, The Paleo Approach):

“Excessive cortisol production can lead to a variety of health issues, including an overactive immune system, disrupted sleep, impaired digestion, and depression.”

She also states: “One key study showed that moderate coffee consumption in healthy individuals correlated with increased inflammation in their blood: people who drank more than two hundred milliliters (about six and a half ounces, or one large cup) of coffee every day … had an increase in white blood cells and several key inflammatory cytokines.”

I also learned that just because something what works for some (or most) it doesn’t mean it will work for me. Many say that coffee makes them feel better, but for me, it’s the opposite. 

Should you quit coffee?

It’s hard to say. Everyone is different.

However, I would encourage anyone who consumes coffee on a regular basis to take careful note of how it makes them feel.

If you can’t function without coffee, it might be time to cut back a little.

You might enjoy these posts for further information regarding the effects of coffee:

How Does Coffee Affect Your Health
Nourish Before You Drain

What I’m drinking instead

I realized that I was not just sad to give up coffee, but more so the ritual of preparing and drinking it. I enjoyed holding the warm cup in my hands and sipping away in the early morning hours.

Although others mention herbal blends that taste like coffee, I have not found anything that mimics it well enough (at least to my own taste). That said, there are some blends I have not been able to try as yet, due to the fact that they contain barley and rye, which I’m also allergic to.

However, there are many delicious herbal teas that I do enjoy (both store bought and homemade).

And, I found a beautiful pot in which to steep herbs and pour a steaming cup of tea from. It fulfills some of the ritual aspect that I was missing.

I’ve become quite serious about my tea collection and have spent a good amount of time and energy cultivating it. (You can see my tea collection here.)

In conclusion

Giving up coffee was a good decision for me. My health improved and my mood and disposition became happier and less irritable. I gained energy and a clear mind.

Totally worth it.

If you’re wondering how your health might change without coffee in your life, I encourage you to give it a try. Go a week or two without coffee and see what happens. Maybe a coffee-free life is just what you need.

I’d love to hear from you! Have you tried giving up coffee? How did it go?

Top image by Zach Inglis

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Really Use

real deals 700px post image

This week’s top deals:

towelList Price $36.00 On Sale $29.35  SwaddleDesigns Organic Cotton Hooded Towel, Mod Circles, Kiwi.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

abes

Discounts on 250+ Gluten Free Items at Abe’s Market.  Plus FREE shipping on orders over $49.00 $29.00.  There is no date listed for when this deal ends so you may want to check it out quickly.

tpAs Low As $19.39-$21.79 ($0.40-$0.45/double roll.)  Quilted Northern Ultra Soft and Strong Bath Tissue, 48 Double Rolls.  List Price $25.00 On Sale $23.99.  Save $1 when you clip the coupon below the product description (you must be logged in).  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

burts lipFor Just $7.64  Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon on sale for $8.99.  Clip coupon for 15% off.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

chiaAs Low As $23.77-$26.56 ($5.94-$6.64/bag)  Bob’s Red Mill Chia Seeds, 16-oz. Bags (Count of 4) is on sale for $27.96.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save/  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

vanillaAs Low As $6.78-$7.58  McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract-16 OZ is on sale for $7.98.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

slimJust $13.95  Slim Snack: Fits in Lunchboxes Where Bulky Lunch Containers Don’t. SNACK BAG & POPSICLE ALL IN ONE! Bring Snacks to Work, School, Gym & Make Blender Pops! (Pack of 4)

 

lavender-moisturizing-cream40% Off Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Moisturizing Creams at Tropical Traditions.  Just $11.70/4oz.  100% pure moisturizing cream unscented or with organic essential oils.  Choose from lavender, citrus, baby silk, peppermint, arnica (for massaging muscles), coconut, or vanilla. Now until March 1, 2015.

insectBuy One Get One Free  All Natural Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Insect Repellant at Tropical Traditions.  Just $13.95 (for 2) Now until March 1, 2015

thomasList Price $21.99 On Sale $15.97  Thomas Wooden Railway – James The Red Engine.  Get Free shipping with qualifying order. 

vitacost

$5 off $25+  food purchase or $10 off $50+ food purchase at Vitacost.  Expires February 25, 2015 at 9am E.T. Web orders only. Exclusions may apply. While supplies last.  Use the following codes: $5 off $25+  food purchase: FOOD252   $10 off $50+ food purchase: FOOD150.  If you are new to Vitacost then you can receive $10 off a $30 purchase.

FREE Kindle eBooks:

(Note: Prices can change without notice, so please double check the price before purchasing)

frugalFrugal Living Made Simple: Easy, Painless Ways to Simplify, Cut Back, and Reach Financial Freedom

diyDIY Cleaning Part 2: Over 30 Quick & Easy Household Cleaning Hacks with Baking Soda and Lemons

successSuccess Habits For The Morning: The Ultimate Guide to Success, Productivity and Focus by Developing a Simple Morning Success Routine

frugalityFrugality: How to Achieve More in Life by Spending Less

artThe Art of Learning: A Simple Handbook to Improve your Learning Techniques

Kindle eBooks for Less Than $1:

(Note: Prices can change without notice, so please double check the price before purchasing)

imetTime Management for Parents: 4 Amazing Habits for Getting Things Done: Say Goodbye to Constantly Feeling Overwhelmed, Create Time for Your Own Projects, and Have More Fun with Your Children

This week’s best coupons:

real-deals-pinterest-feb-24

Find a deal you love? Share it! Pin this week’s post, tweet it, or share on Facebook.

Want to get these deals in your inbox each week?

Sign up for our once-a-week “real deals” email. It comes out each Tuesday morning.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!
About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Quick, Healthy Meals for Your Family

 

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Quick, Healthy Meals for Your Family {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

By Leigh Ann Dutton, Contributing Writer

It’s five o’clock. What’s for dinner?

For many years, if I didn’t have a menu plan with printed off recipes, when five o’clock rolled around we’d resort to going out to eat or grab carry out. We had the delivery pizza guy on speed dial and knew which nights had happy hour for cheap appetizers. I didn’t know how to create healthy meals for my family without a detailed recipe telling me exactly what to do.

Fast forward a few years into our natural living journey, and I rarely make the same meal twice. I cook most all of our food from scratch, and I don’t rely heavily on recipes to get dinner on the table for my family.

Do I love recipes? Yes, of course! I love trying new things and a written recipe can be easier to follow. It takes less brain power to just implement someone else’s hard work.

But what about those nights you don’t have a plan? What about those seasons of life where you just need to get something healthy on the table but didn’t have time to scour the recipe books or Internet for fresh ideas? What if you just need a simple, quick meal right now?

Create your own quick, healthy meal from what you have on hand!

Let me teach you how! Remember I relied on recipes heavily for years to get me through the dinner hour. If I can do this, then I know you can.

Getting Started

1. Make a list of your family’s favorite meals.

To get started, take a few minutes to write down your family’s favorite meals. Aim for at least ten recipes.

If your children are older and your husband is willing, include them in this process. They will love knowing their opinions matter, and you don’t have to do all the work!

2. Study the list of your family’s favorite meals.

The purpose of this list is to give you an idea of what your family enjoys. More specifically this list will give you an idea of what ingredients your family enjoys.

What ingredients seem to show up a lot? Chicken? Chili powder? Coconut milk? Lemon juice? Is there a pattern?

3. Brainstorm variations of your family’s favorite meals

Now that you know what your family enjoys, brainstorm variations of these meals. Would the seasonings on your family’s favorite grilled chicken work on pork as well? What meals could be turned into a meatless meal to save money?

My family discovered that we loved when I made Homemade Chicken Pot Pie, but I didn’t always have shredded chicken on hand. One day I tried replaced the chicken with beans, and we loved Homemade Bean and Veggie Pot Pie just as well.

 

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Quick, Healthy Meals for Your Family {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

10 Quick and Easy Meal Ideas

If you’re having a hard time coming up with a list of family favorites, then I’ve listed below ten quick and easy meal ideas you can use as inspiration.

1. Easy Homemade Burger Patties @ Red and Honey

2. Herb Chicken Skillet @ The Humbled Homemaker

3. Simple Spaghetti @ Intentional By Grace

4. Ultimate Nachos @ Keeper of the Home

5. Shredded BBQ Beef Sandwiches & Slaw @ Gospel Homemaking (I use this BBQ sauce recipe)

6. Chicken Florentine Pasta @ The Pioneer Woman

7. Hemp-Crusted Baked Chicken Fingers @ Gimme Some Oven

8. Pork Diane @ Intentional By Grace

9. Taco Chili Mac @ Live Renewed

10. Easy Roast Chicken @ Nourished Kitchen

 

How to Create Quick, Healthy Meals Without a Recipe

Now that you’ve spent a little time studying what your family enjoys and thinking about ways you can change up the meals, it’s time to put this knowledge into practice.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Quick, Healthy Meals for Your Family {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

It’s five o’clock. What’s for dinner? You don’t have a recipe. Now what?

1. Determine what you have on hand.

Head to your refrigerator, pantry, and/or freezer. What’s hiding in there? What did you stock up on this week? What ingredients are at your disposal for cooking tonight?

Some ideas for what you’re looking for:

  • Source of protein
  • Healthy fats
  • Carbohydrates in the form of healthy grains or vegetables (or both!)
  • Sauces and seasonings

Tip: If you can complete this step in the morning, you can get a jump start on five o’clock. I usually pull my meat out from the freezer in the morning so it can thaw. I may not know what I’m going to do with the shredded chicken or ground beef at this point, but at least I have the meat thawing. When I forget to thaw meat, my go-to is always beans or leftovers.

2. Choose your method.

How are you going to cook your meal? Crock-Pot? Stove? Oven? Will it be a one-pot meal, or will there be different components like grilled meat and steamed veggies?

Obviously, if it’s the Crock-Pot, you’ll want to take action on this step earlier in the day, but the concepts and instructions remain the same.

3. Make a plan.

Before diving right into cooking, you want to make a plan whether in your head or on paper.

Personally, I like to write out the ingredients I have on hand, and then scratch down the general method I will follow. Basically, I write my own recipe before I get started.

I do this for three reasons:

  • I like to see that my idea is actually going to work. It’s easier for me to troubleshoot on paper than in the moment.
  • If I have to walk away from dinner prep, my husband can pick up where I left off. We have two small children and we both work from home, our entire day is one big tag team. Planning for that helps us.
  • If we end up loving the recipe, then I have it written down for later. This is actually how my entire eBook, 20 Minute Meals: Giving Weary Chefs Grace While Keeping Families Healthy, was written. Next time, I’ll spend more time creating a shorter tag line. *ahem* Nevertheless, occasionally one of our random meals hits the best meals ever list. So having the recipe sketched out captures it for later use.

Occasionally, I don’t write out the recipe before starting, but I do take time to think about the overall method for cooking. You shouldn’t skip this step just because you won’t be writing it down.

Note: Writing the recipe out before starting really helped me to get the hang of cooking meals without a recipe. This may be something you do when you’re just getting started and then eventually skip writing the recipe out.

4. Put it all together.

Now put it all together and start cooking!

You just cooked your meal without a recipe! How fun is that?

I know that when I started creating my own meals without a recipe, it felt so good. It was freeing to know that we didn’t have to resort to carry out when I didn’t have a meal plan in place.

It also helped make real food easier for me. I realized that I didn’t have to cook elaborate meals for my family to eat healthy, real food. I just needed to keep basic ingredients on hand that could be pulled together into a quick, healthy meal.

What about you? Do you cook without a recipe? What tips would you add to this method? What’s your favorite easy meal? I would love to hear from you in the comments. I’m always looking for new ideas and inspiration!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

PlanToEat-150x150This post is sponsored by Plan To Eat. If you know you need to make strides towards regular meal planning and you’re looking for a tool to make it easier, I highly recommend you check out Plan To Eat’s virtual tour. Sign up for a free 30-day trial to see how it works! Plan To Eat was born from a desire to eat real food — great food — prepared at home, together as a family. Plan to Eat is an online menu planner that uses your recipes, scheduled for the days you want them, automatically generating your grocery list, organized the way you like to shop. Eat well. Eat together.

Weekend Links

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Hello and happy Saturday!

A quick note from Stephanie: To all those who currently get each of our new posts by email, we want to let you know that in an effort to help you cut down on inbox clutter while still staying up to date with your favorite blogs, we’ve transitioned all of our email subscribers over to a once-a-week digest.

This means that each Saturday, you’ll get one email showing you all of the posts from that week, with the top photo and quick links to each one. The idea is to send you 1 email (rather than 3-5), which you can quickly scan and see which posts you’d most like to read, Pin for later, etc. We hope this little change is a pleasant one for you — as busy moms and homemakers ourselves, we know your time is precious! Thank you for being faithful readers. We appreciate this beautiful community of women so much. ♥

Homemaker’s Friend Planner Winners!

Thanks to those who entered our drawing for 10 Homemaker’s Friend Planners! Congratulations to kindy (kindysavon@), Brandi (Bwoody70@), Christina (cddarnell@), Marcy (mdepew2000@), Traci (traciwebb@), BritaJan (britajan2010@), Kimberly (roberts96@), Bobbie (bobbielynn@), DymphnaDungca (rgdungca@), and SheilaKay (sheilakayj@)!

Links for this week:

A call to pray for the persecuted church @ Sarah Bessey

How To Find Community Right Where You Are @ Joy Forney

Chicken and Prosciutto Salad @ Good Cheap Eats

10 things fear fears. @ John Acuff

Becoming a Soul Minimalist @ chatting at the sky

Soy-Free Teriyaki Chicken {Slow Cooker Recipe} @ The Nourishing Home

The Reluctant Hostess @ (in)courage

What are you waiting for? @ Life Your Way

With all the cold weather in the northern hemisphere, it’s a good time to curl up with a book! What have you been reading lately?

3 Simple Ways to Reduce Pinterest Overwhelm

 

3 Simple Ways to Reduce Pinterest Overwhelm {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

 

By Nina Nelson, Contributing Writer

If you were to search my Pinterest boards, you’d see a lot of DIY  recipes for healthy living. Homemade soap, salves, cleaners, beauty products – you name it, I’ve pinned it.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret … I don’t make most of the recipes I pin.

At one point, that would have stressed me out so much. I would have viewed it as one big, overwhelming, never-ending to-do list.

Now, I do DIY a lot of stuff. Pretty much everything in my house, in fact.

However, I’ve learned over the years that just because there are a ton of options out there (especially on Pinterest), it doesn’t mean I have to try them all. In fact, by choosing just a few recipes and perfecting them for my needs, I’ve created a very simple, very sustainable healthy lifestyle.

Pinterest serves as a place for inspiration and a public spot where I can share the different options with my friends and readers — because everyone’s different and a recipe that works for me may not work for you. And when I want to try something new, that’s the first place I look.

But I keep it really simple and follow a few guidelines before I search:

1. Set limits

When you’re searching Pinterest, it’s really tempting to try to find it all, all at once. I know, because that’s what I did when I got started.

3 Simple Ways to Reduce Pinterest Overwhelm {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Now, I have limits that I’ve set to keep myself from spending too much time searching and getting overwhelmed. I like to limit:

  • Number of boards to pin to.
  • Amount of time spent clicking through and reading healthy living blogs each day.
  • Length of time on Pinterest.
  • Number of new recipes/topics to focus on each time.

This took some time to learn, but once I did, it made things so much simpler! Acknowledging that I didn’t need know or do it all right now removed a heavy (self-imposed) burden from my shoulders.

Plus it made it so much easier to use Pinterest as the wonderful tool it is for healthy living, which is a lifestyle that I add to bit by bit.

2. Get specific

If you’re searching for DIY recipes on Pinterest, it’s easy to believe that you need to be busy all the time, making ALL the things. And that’s just DIY recipes.

The truth is, you really don’t need to make everything you see there. Not even half of them. Truly.

Multi-purpose recipes are your friend. I only use a couple simple recipes when it comes to cleaning my house. One multi-purpose healing ointment takes care of a majority our owies/aches/scrapes. My homemade shampoo doubles as a body wash.

And when I need/want a new recipe, I search Pinterest – but I’m really specific.

Before I start searching I make a list of what I need and what ingredients I want to use, which helps me narrow the search from the beginning.

3 Simple Ways to Reduce Pinterest Overwhelm {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

For example, I want to make a sugar scrub to give to a friend. But, I want to have honey and coconut oil in it because I’ve got a lot of that on hand. So when I look for my recipe, I’ll searchfor a honey coconut oil sugar scrub.

Which brings me to my next point.

3. Use what you have

This is such an important concept for simplifying. You remember that old saying, “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Or do without?” I love that because it sums up what my simple approach to healthy living looks like.

I have a basic stock of supplies for DIY recipes. When I decide to make a recipe, I check out what I’ve got first. If I’m out of something, I make a note and decide if I can make do without or if there’s something else I can use in its place (often that’s the case as many of my ingredients have lots of beneficial properties).

If it’s essential, I see if I can find a different recipe that’ll do the trick. If not, then I’ll restock the supplies and make it later.

But there’s no rush to the store or computer to order more or add new supplies to my stock.

3 Simple Ways to Reduce Pinterest Overwhelm {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

One of the best lessons I’ve learned on this journey is that there’s often an alternative recipe if I can’t make something with the ingredients I have on hand.

And if the recipe’s out there, I’ll find it on Pinterest.

What do you do to reduce Pinterest overwhelm?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Really Use

real deals 700px post image

This week’s top deals:

coco oil

For just $24.95 Viva Labs Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 54 Ounce.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order

Or Viva Labs Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 32 Ounce for $17.25.  Lowest price to-date!

jar

Just $10.99  Ball Jar Ball Heritage Collection Pint Jars with Lids and Bands, Purple, Set of 6.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order

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50% Off Organic Raw Honey at Tropical Traditions.  Retail $20.99 On Sale $10.99 for a 17 ounce glass jar.  Offer ends Thursday, February 19, 2015

yogis

As Low As $17.00-$19.00 ($2.13-$2.38/1 ounce pouch) Happy Yogis Organic Yogurt Snacks for Babies and Toddlers, Mixed Berry, 1-oz. Pouches (Count of 8) are on sale for $20.00.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

Or try Banana Mango or Strawberry for the same price.

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LOTION PROMOTION at MadeOn Lotion

Spend $45 at the MadeOn store and receive an Au Chocolat pocket size bar FREE. Add the bar to cart and then apply code: “valentine2015″.  Expires March 6, 2015.  Includes Free Shipping!

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February Specials at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Just click on the Specials tab.  Here’s a few of the items they have on sale this month:

25% Off Organic Pink Pepper Essential Oil 1/2 oz bottle Regular $15.50  On Sale $11.63

35% Off Neroli (Orange Flower) Essential Oil 1/8 oz Regular $64.75  On Sale $42.09

15% Off Organic Formosa Oolong Tea 4 oz box Regular $13.00  On Sale $13.60

30% Off Cloves Whole 1lb  Regular $20.00  On Sale $14.00

garden

List Price $16.99 On Sale $6.85 JustForKids Garden Tool Set with Tote.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.
closet

List Price $39.49 On Sale $19.63  Whitmor 6779-4464 Closet Organizer Collection 3 Tier Shelves with 2 Collapsible Drawers.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

scarry

Just $2.40 Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book (Pictureback(R)) Paperback

FREE Kindle eBooks:

org

How to Organize Your Life, Mind and Home: 9 Organizing Principles To Help You Simplify Your Life, Increase Efficiency And Maximize Productivity.
seasoning

Seasoning & Spices Cookbook: A Strong, Sweet and Tangy Guide to Seasoning Mixes
pantry

The Greatest Practical Pantry Guide: Delicious Recipes & Preserving Guide For All Types Of Food
7day7 Day Cleaning and Organizing – Discover 7 Key Steps to Keep your House Clean and Organized All Year Around

reno

Home Renovation and Remodeling Ideas: Great Design Ideas for the Perfect House Remodel and Renovation
100100 Things to Do With Kids Inside

Kindle eBooks for Less Than $1:

diy haks

DIY Household Hacks: Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual For Home Repair, Maintenance and Improvement, Designed to Save You Time and Money

This week’s best coupons:

real-deals-pinterest-feb-17

Find a deal you love? Share it! Pin this week’s post, tweet it, or share on Facebook.

Want to get these deals in your inbox each week?

Sign up for our once-a-week “real deals” email. It comes out each Tuesday morning.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!
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Ways to Use Clearance Produce

How to Use Discount Produce {Keeper of the Home}

We originally published this post in June of 2012, but with an increase in food prices in recent years, the advice and tips that Erin offers here are still very useful!

Written by Erin Odom, Contributing Writer

Since this season is all about incorporating more veggies into our diets and eating from our pantries and freezers, I thought it would be a prime time to share one of my favorite frugal grocery shopping tips: how to take advantage of clearance produce.

You can stretch your weekly produce allowance a lot further if you check out the marked-down, overripe fruits and veggies!

I actually map out my grocery trips to stop at the clearance shelves and bins first. Most stores have these, and if you’re not sure if yours does, don’t be afraid to ask the store manager what they do with the overripe produce that isn’t at its prime but is not bad either. By taking advantage of these deals, you can shave up to 50-75% off your produce budget!

Image by Wonderlane

However, there are limits to what you can do with clearance produce. Keep these important tips in mind:

Make a Quick, Mental Plan Before Buying

I’ve made the mistake far, far too many times of buying too much clearance produce. While 5 pounds of mushrooms for $2.00 may sound great at the time, if they all go bad before you can use them, then it’s $2 wasted.

While I scour the clearance produce shelves, I try to form a mental plan of what I will do with the items.  Some clearance produce items are eaten fine as is, but many times they make the mark-down racks because they may have a bruise or be extra soft, etc. Can I turn the bruised apples into applesauce? Can I cook these soft tomatoes into a yummy pasta sauce? I find that without this plan, my “great buys” may buy themselves time rotting in my fridge only to be tossed in the compost or trash can.

Image by amberdegrace

Be Willing To Change Your Meal Plan

In her Plan It, Don’t Panic meal planning eBook (which is 25% off right now!), Stephanie stresses the benefits of making a flexible meal plan. This is key when taking advantage of clearance produce.

If you’ve planned on baking chicken tenders with a green bean casserole that night but spy a big bag of lettuce for 50% off, can the green bean plans and serve grilled chicken salads instead! Move your night’s original meal onto the next night.

Know Your Produce’s Typical “Lifespan”

Believe it or not, there are actually a few produce items that will keep long past the point where they make it to the clearance shelves. Of course, the sooner you eat these items, the more nutritional value you will consume. It’s important to know which items will last longer than others–which foods can be stored in the fridge, frozen or used immediately, or used up or lost altogether.

Store in the Fridge

Don’t be scared to let these sit in the fridge a few days if you don’t already have a plan for them:

  • apples–I very frequently find organic apples on clearance at our local health food store–sometimes for as low as $.49/pound in season! These will last a very long time, and if they do start to brown, you can easily make some applesauce, toss them into an applecado smoothie or make a yummy apple crisp!
  • carrots–If they don’t have any signs of going bad right away, carrots will last in your fridge for quite a while. If you don’t think you’ll use them before they do rot, go ahead and chop or shred and freeze them. You won’t be able to eat these raw, but they’ll be perfect in a soup!
  • citrus fruits–Unless they are growing mold (and, in that case, you need to toss them!), even clearance citrus fruits should last a bit longer than other produce.

Image by Calvert Cafe & Catering

Eat or Freeze

You should either eat or freeze these items the same day you purchase them.

  • mangoes, pears, peaches and most fruits in general–If they are already soft and a bit mushy, you need to use them that day, or you can easily puree and freeze them in ice-cube trays. You can feed the thawed purees to your baby, or you can toss the frozen fruit cubes into a smoothie. Freshly pureed fruit is also perfect for making fruit leather. Ripe fruit is also perfect for making desserts and jellies/jams.
  • bananas–These freeze so well! I usually puree mine first, so I can easily use the puree to make breads, muffins or in smoothies.
  • greens–If you don’t plan on making a saladspecific greens dish, or some fun kale chips that day, steam and puree these as well. Again, you can feed the thawed puree to your baby or use the frozen cubes in a green smoothie. You could also mix the thawed greens into a soup or dip.
  • peppers–I never leave peppers on the clearance shelf. Whether you cut them into strips or chop them into chunks, peppers freeze extremely well.
  • avocados–I have personally never frozen these, but it can be done. Ripe avocados are perfect for making guacamole. Or, like many of the above, toss them into a smoothie!

Use It or Lose It

There are a few items that you really cannot freeze–and will not last in the fridge long either:

  • mushrooms–Supposedly you can freeze them, but they must be fresh. If you don’t use them up quickly, they’ll go to waste.
  • lettuce–I haven’t found a good way to preserve lettuce. So if you aren’t making that salad asap, leave that head of romaine on the shelf.

How to Take Advantage of Clearance Produce {Keeper of the Home}

How do you take advantage of clearance produce?

Weekend Links

Keeper of the Home

Links for this week:

Dear Moms: Let’s Stop Judging Each Other and Start Seeing Each Other @ Lisa-Jo Baker

Should Vaccines Be Mandatory @ Mommypotamus

Rose-Scented Pistachio Honey Cake (grain-free) @ Nourishing Joy

What Mama Said, What Mama Did: Five Ways My Mama Taught Me the Blessing of Healthy Friendships @ A Holy Experience

Fatigue Is Not A Sin @ The Better Mom

Keema Matar (An amazing beef or lamb curry) @ The Nourishing Gourmet

Sometimes it really is as simple as cake @ The Art of Simple

Confessions of a (Semi-Reformed) Nagging Wife @ (in)courage

What has the weather been like in your neck of the woods?

Take Charge of Your Health with The Whole30 Challenge

Take Charge of Your Health with The Whole30 Challenge {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

By Kelly Smith, Contributing Writer

Did you resolve to eat healthier in the New Year, only to find yourself falling back into the same old eating patterns after trying to make healthy changes?

I’ll be honest, for years I struggled to eat healthy, because frankly, I wasn’t sure what “eating healthy” really meant. I simply had no clue as to what foods would help to nourish my body and which foods might be creating setbacks in my health.

It wasn’t until I became very ill with two autoimmune conditions that I began to realize that taking care of myself by eating healthier was the key to not only helping my body to heal, but it’s also been the secret to enhancing my overall well-being – in other words, improving my mood and energy levels too!

Whole30 to the rescue …

If I would have known back then what I know now, I immediately would have taken The Whole30 Challenge. The reason I say this is because after two rounds of Whole30, I’m absolutely convinced that this free nutritional program can help people to discover improved health by helping them to begin the process of discovering which foods are beneficial and which foods may be contributing to poor health.

Take Charge of Your Health with The Whole30 Challenge {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

What is Whole30? And why take the 30-day challenge?

The Whole30 Program is a free, nutrient-dense, elimination diet that can help you jump start your health and get started (or make better progress) on your healthy living journey. That’s because Whole30 shows you how to nourish your body with pure real foods while eliminating the most common problematic (and typically less nutrient-dense) foods. It’s a great way to detox from processed foods and also from potential food allergens that you may not even know you’re sensitive to.

And for those of you, like me, who may be suffering from chronic health issues – or suspect that food allergies or sensitivities may be impacting your health – taking The Whole30 Challenge can truly be life-changing!

In a nutshell, Whole30 can help you to:

  • Nourish your body with whole nutrient-dense foods in order to facilitate improved health and well-being;
  • Eliminate sugar addiction and other unhealthy eating patterns; and
  • Help you to begin to identify potentially problematic foods that may be sabotaging your health.

One of the biggest reasons I recommend The Whole30 Program is because it’s based on a real food lifestyle that aims at helping individuals to develop a personalized approach to their diet. It isn’t a one-diet-fits-all program. Instead Whole30 helps you to discover what foods work best for your body and which foods do not based on your unique body and health issues.

Take Charge of Your Health with The Whole30 Challenge {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

By taking The Whole30 Challenge twice now, I’ve discovered several food groups that are problematic for me personally. As a result, this invaluable knowledge has helped me to experience a significant improvement in my health and wellness.

In addition, I’ve not only witnessed amazing changes with my own personal health, I’ve heard countless testimonies from reader-friends (who’ve taken The Whole30 Challenge with me) about how this program has impacted their health for the better too. But don’t just take my word for it. I encourage you to read the success stories of countless individuals with a wide variety of health issues who’ve successfully completed the Whole30 program with amazing results.

Of course, even with all of the positive changes that often result from Whole30, it goes without saying that you should always work with a medical professional to address any health concerns. As much as I believe in being proactive about your own health, it’s not wise to do it alone. Having a trusted healthcare professional to partner with you is key to ensuring good health, and the early diagnosis of serious medical conditions.

Helpful free resources to make your Whole30 journey easy and delicious!

Another thing I love about Whole30 is that it’s free! That’s right, free. You can find everything you need to know about the program on the Whole30 website.

Take Charge of Your Health with The Whole30 Challenge {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Of course, the book “It Starts With Food”  is an incredible resource that I highly recommend, but you don’t have to purchase it to achieve success on Whole30. And just so you know, I don’t receive any form of reimbursement for recommending the Whole30 program. I’m just one of thousands of people who’ve experienced the benefits of Whole30 and want to help others – particularly those struggling with health issues – to discover this life-changing program.

In fact, I’m such a huge proponent, I’ve created a wealth of free Whole30 resources and support to make it even easier for individuals and families to take The Whole30 Challenge. So if you’re interested in seeing what Whole30 can do for you, then please know I’m here to help!

Here are just a few of the free resources I’ve created to help make your Whole30 journey easier and tastier too!

  • Quick Start Guide to Whole30 – In my comprehensive DAY ZERO: Getting Ready for Whole30 post, you’ll learn: How to get ready for your 30-day healthy living journey; tips for stocking your pantry for quick Whole30 meals, and find lots of encouragement and helpful tips to ensure your success.
  • Free Whole30 Meal Plans & Recipes – I’ve also created lots of delicious Whole30-compliant recipes that make following the program easy and delicious. But even more exciting … I’ve put together a series of free Whole30 meal plans to make it even easier to complete the program! Each free Whole30 Meal Plan Kit features family-friendly Whole30-compliant meals, a shopping list and prep-ahead tasks that make getting a healthy meal on the table a snap.

Take Charge of Your Health with The Whole30 Challenge {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Discover what “eating healthy” means for YOU!

Back to that New Year’s resolution thing … if you’ve been struggling to find the right diet to address your own personal health concerns, then I encourage you to take a little time to check out The Whole30 Program.

With Whole30, you’ll not only learn how to nourish your body with wholesome real foods, but also begin the journey of discovering what foods may be creating setbacks in your health, and the health of your family members. That’s why I’m such a big fan of Whole30 and have made it my mission to help as many people as possible to discover this life-changing program.

Have you taken The Whole30 Challenge? What’s your experience been? We’d love to hear your story too!

Please note: I am not a healthcare professional, therefore this post is not intended to replace the advice of a physician. As noted in the article above, I highly recommend partnering with a trusted healthcare professional to address any health concerns.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!