Grocery Shopping Feed

Snow, snow, snow ... and more snow!

Good Tuesday morning, my friends ...

Blizzard 4

I know a lot of you have heard about the blizzard hitting New England today ... and yes, it is here! I thought I'd check in (while we still have power) to tell you that we are fine. We are having heavy snow and a lot of wind, but so far things are as expected. We have our devices charged and our blankets and flashlights at the ready ... and we got our coffee made very early - a second pot is brewing "just in case."

The top photo was taken out the sunroom doors about 6 a.m. The wind, as you can see, was raging! Those are picnic benches on the left and a picnic table on the right ... here's the same view (sort of) a couple of hours later:

Blizzard 2

This is looking out the breakfast nook window. The deck is buried!

Blizzard 3

 (I'm quite glad I got the birdfeeders filled yesterday ... it would not be an easy task today!)

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My chief concern: we are surrounded here by very large trees which - in any storm, at any season - makes me nervous. As of now, the air is so cold (14° F at last check) the snow is not sticking on the branches, but I pray no trees or limbs come down. I am grateful to have my house and heat and supplies, but I know not everyone can count those things among their blessings today. My prayers go out to them most of all - for shelter, warmth and help where it's needed.

My friends, I'll check in later today ... thank you for stopping by!

:)


When you take a kid to Whole Foods ...

Whole Foods Market is Earlybird's favorite place on earth (aside from his Nana and Papa's, of course), and he asks me constantly if we can go there, when can we go there, who can come with us and whose car we'll take. We usually have the whole trip discussed, imagined and planned out days - even weeks - before we even step foot in the store. ;)

Well, it occured to me that such an avid interest presents a wonderful learning opportunty for Earlybird! Building on what appeals to him - with simple, relatable activities - makes learning easier and more fun (for us both). So I started brainstorming some ideas for a little "Whole Foods Curriculum" and thought I'd share my list here in case it's helpful to somebody else with a child who just loves to food shop!

*Quick disclaimer: I'm a homeschooling mom, not a curriculum expert or special needs pro. I don't mean to present this as anything other than a humble and hopeful collection of home-grown ideas. I'm just going by what might work for my own son and his particular interests and learning/life needs.

:)

27 learning activities inspired by Whole Foods

Make a list of things we need to buy.

Practice spelling and penmanship, expand vocabulary. When we check our pantry and fridge/freezer before making our list we practice good food management and decision-making while taking responsibility for our family's needs (all important life skills).

Try to find items on a prepared scavenger list.

"Made from oats." "Came from the sea." "Smells good." etc. (reading practice, creative/logical thinking)

Look over store flyer and organize coupons.

Good reading practice, and discerning information (what's on sale, what's fresh?). Using coupons to save money - sorting, organizing, budgeting. Simple subtraction (item price minus coupon amount).

Use a calculator to add up a small order.

I wouldn't try this with a big shopping trip, but for a basket-ful of items - using a calculator to predict how much the cashier will ask for. Math - estimation, addition, calculator-use.

• Make reusable shopping bags.

O and r at wf 4

Earlybird with his own reusable bag, a birthday gift.

  Using inexpensive cloth tote bags (from a craft store), decide on design/colors. Great creative/art experience. Discuss why reusing bags makes good sense (environmental science).

Draw a map to Whole Foods from our house.

Creative project using all kinds of skills - geography, measurement, memory, arts & crafts. Use a large sketch pad and colored pencils. Write out directions to go along with map.

Whole Foods A and Whole Foods B - which is closer?

We're lucky enough to live near(ish) not just one, but two Whole Foods stores - I know which one we prefer (size, selection, layout) but which one is closer? Observe odometer at start and finish for each trip, record travel times.

• Practice clear and polite communication.

Think of potential questions and ask for help, make conversation with staff and other patrons (language skills, social skills).

• Practice good cart management.

Earlybird loves to use the cart himself, but this takes a little skill sometimes! The store can be busy, aisles can be crowded (gross motor skills, social skills, patience).

O and r at wf 2

Little Bear is amazed by all the sights to see!

Learn: What does organic mean?

Look for the word "organic" on labels, store signs, flyers. Ask someone to explain what it means (call ahead of time) and/or research at home. Visit the library to research further - ask the librarian to help us look up information: How is organic healthier for us? For the earth? Make up a short "report" with Mama's help. (environmental science, research skills, clear communication, observation, composition/grammar/spelling/vocabulary)

Tour the store.

Ask for a tour with a store manager (or other store staff). Call ahead to ask. After tour, narrate experience (Mom types in) and add drawings, photos. Write thank you note afterwards. (patience, attention, social skills, penmanship/spelling/vocabulary)

Film a pretend commerical.

O and r at wf 1

Little Bear is all business when discussing yogurt.

Ask manager for permission to take video (on phone) while walking around the store. At home, make up a "script" and signs/props for commercial. Talk about what we like about Whole Foods. Record commercial to share with friends and family (language skills, reflection, creativity, oral presentation, diction).

Look for products from around the world.

Make a list of all the countries we find represented, and write down what products came from where. Use a world map to mark discovered countries. What country has the most products? Find out if there are available statistics for that information (ask manager). (geography, observation, communication/language, simple math, research skills)

Where are Whole Foods stores located across the US?

Research store chain locations - which state has the most stores? Look at US map as we research. (geography, observation, simple math)

How do receipts work?

How much money do we spend at Whole Foods? Look at receipt from recent visit, what does it show? Use cash to show the amount of money spent. (math skills, life skills, money management)

O and r at wf 3 

Earlybird and Little Bear on a recent trip to Whole Foods.

Visit a local farm that supplies food to Whole Foods.

Ask the store manager for a list of local suppliers. Visit one (or more) of the farms in the spring and ask about the farm-store connection. Calculate distance from farm to store - ask about how the food/items are transported. Take pictures and write up a "report." (social skills, communication, language, math, geography, community, environmental science)

Tour the individual store departments.

Visit the store and write down the name of each store department. Over following visits, investigate just one department at a time. What is the seafood counter all about? What can we find in the dairy? Talk to a staff member associated with that department - have some questions prepared. Make up a booklet at home describing the information and communication. Use photos, drawings and narration. (observation, list-making, language, organization, communication, social skills, creativity, memory/reflection)

Make up a Whole Foods cookbook.

As we visit the store through the year, keep note of what is in season when. Devise/collect recipes for seasonal foods (baked apples in winter, grilled corn in summer, etc.). Ask for a seasonal list of foods (if available) and use that as a guide. Keep all these recipes and information (along with pictures we take as we cook) in a binder. (observation, list making, language, creativity, communication, life skills, environmental science)

Make a well-balanced meal.

Plan out a healthy meal and write out a shopping list. Talk about how much we'll need, think about how many people will be eating the food. Make sure to include all food groups and talk about why that is important. Talk about the connection between good health and healthy food. Discuss how we feel after we eat a nutritious meal (energized? full?). (list-making, organization, language, decision making, science, healthy habits, self-awareness)

Practice time management.

Plan a very early trip to the store (like, 8 a.m.) and devise a plan for getting there on time. How early do we need to get up? What things have to happen before we can leave the house? What do we need to bring with us? Make a list and post it. On the day of the trip, time each activity that leads up to leaving the house. (life skills, time management, independence, responsibility)

O and r at wf

 EB can be a big help with his little brother. 

Rules are important.

Does Whole Foods have rules? Look at the entrance for any signs (no shirt/no shoes/etc.). Talk about why rules are important. What are some of our family/household's rules? (life skills, responsiblity, community living)

Write a poem about Whole Foods.

Brainstorm words about Whole Foods - nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc. Print out the words and cut out so that we have lots of single words on little pieces of paper. Play around with the words and make up rhymes. (language, creativity, grammar)

Conduct a taste test-survey.

Choose a sampling of foods (perhaps WF store brand vs. name brand or another store brand). Invite friends/family to try the foods (decide how best to do this - blindfolded?) and make a note of reactions. Tabulate "votes" and make up a graph to show survey results. (decision-making, organization, communication, math skills, creativity)

Host a Whole Foods party.

A nice late spring/early summer event - decide on date/time, plan out guest list, make invitations, devise menu, write out shopping list, create decorations, etc. (calendar skills, decision-making, communication, language, creativity, patience, social skills)

Have a meal at Whole Foods.

Our local Whole Foods has a cafe where patrons can buy drinks and snacks and enjoy them at a table. Plan an outing with Daddy for an early weekend morning (before it gets busy). What do we need (money)? How shoud we behave? After eating, give Daddy a tour of the store. (social skills, patience, money management, hygiene)

Plant a Whole Foods garden.

In the spring, notice the gardening items that Whole Foods offers: seeds, plants, tools. At home, plan out and create a small garden plan (pots, easy-to-grow items). Purchase seeds and small seedlings at Whole Foods. Peruse tools and other garden implements and decide if they are something we need or not. (list making, organization, environmental science, nature study, creativity, exercise/fresh air, decision making, money management)

Write a letter to Whole Foods.

Find out how to contact the "head' of Whole Foods (look online) and write a letter expressing our fondness for the store, as well as any suggestions or ideas. :) (language, creativity, research, social skills, life skills, US mail)

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Well, I guess I'd better stop there, because this post is getting awfully long! Thanks for letting me share all of this ... I hope maybe someone else finds it useful! Lots of ideas, and some of them will work better than others ... we will try them out over the next several months as opportunity (and energy) presents itself! And of course, I'll let you all know how it goes ...

Thanks so much for stopping by today ... have a good one, my friends, and I will see you all here again very soon!


Weekend Journal ~ Fall, Food & Furniture

Hello, my friends, and Happy Sunday!

First let me say I'm sorry my posting has been slow lately - to be perfectly honest, I've been pretty slow myself! Little Bear has been waking every two hours at night for the past couple of weeks and frankly, I'm exhausted! Lol.

Anyhoo, I have a few minutes to pop in to say hello and share a few things with you all.

:)

First of all, how is the weather where you are? It's been quite nice here in New England - very autumnal with brisk air and bright skies. I'd say the foliage is just past peak now ... the wind has been littering the streets and yards with droves of crisp, crinkled leaves. All the subdued color, bared bark and dark chilly afternoons make me think of Thanksgiving ...

*3 quick links*

A lovely article at Susan Branch's blog about a "behind the scenes" article in the upcoming Yankee magazine. Lots of pictures to drool over - her home on Martha's Vineyard is so cozy, all decked out for the holidays.

Another web article, this one about grocery savings. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but I find it helpful to remind myself on these points from time to time. How are you all doing with your meal planning and marketing these days?

And for my last link ~ how about some Spiced Ghost Pancakes on Halloween morning? 

And finally, remember my beloved red furniture from the old house?

Cozy corners 2

Well, we finally sold that dear old house this past week so that meant we could move up the final bits of furniture we'd left behind ("for ambiance"). Feels so good to have my Mama's chair back! We've arranged the set in the living room, a room that's slowly becoming "my room" as it's filled with my desk and reading materials ...

Cozy corners 3

(Yes, I went a little nuts with the subscribing when we moved!)

Well my friends, that's all I have time for right now ... please know I'll be here just as much as I can. I'm always thinking about posts and things I want to say (new ideas or answers to comments) but those free moments are not as plentiful as they once were!

Enjoy your evening, everyone ... I'll see you here again very soon!

**


Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 2: Food for the Family

 

He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Nest2

First of all, I cannot thank you all enough for all your survey responses so far!! I have so enjoyed reading through your opinions and ideas about keeping track of all the things that need doing for our families. I'm excited to share the rest of the survey series with you all - this is going to be such fun!

Allrighty then! Today I'd like to talk about managing your family's food, so here are three questions for you:

1. Where do you plan out your family meals?

2. Where do you compose your grocery list?

3. Where do you keep your recipes?

***

If you have thoughts to share, please leave a comment below, and remember - with each comment your name will be entered in the giveaway (which is described here). If you'd rather not be entered in the contest, please let me know in your comment.

Also, to comment on - and/or read comments on - previous topics in this series, please click on the following the links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

***

Well my friends, I hope you all have a lovely weekend ... Mine will be a quiet one for sure, as I've been put on "moderate" bed rest to quiet these Braxton-Hicks contractions! Apparently, the more babies you have, the sooner you can feel these harmless, but rather uncomfortable, contractions. I also got very dehydrated and that's probably what kicked them off. But rest assured - I saw the midwife yesterday and all is absolutely fine with the baby - I just need to take it easy for a couple of days. :)

See you all again very soon!

**


A Few Late Day Links

Two about budgeting ...

How I Saved My Family $600 a Month on Groceries (Today)

4 Things I Do to Keep Our Grocery Budget at $200/mo. for a Family of Four (Parents)

Two about our beloved DA ...

Downton Abbey Season 3 Trailer (iTv1)

Downton Abbey Star Dan Stevens Off to Broadway - But Will He Return? (Huffington Post)

And one shameless (sheepish) plug ...

Thursday, September 6th 2012 (Daily Bits of Domestic Bliss - my housekeeping blog)

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Have a great night, my friends!



Money $ Monday: Of Price Books & Pantries

Good morning, everyone!

KGappleblossoms

My topic this week is two-fold, because I think these two subjects go hand in hand. (And thanks to Chrissy for the pantry-building suggestion!) Having a well-stocked pantry is a boon to meal planning and scratch cooking, and when you buy things at their best price you save all the more. If something you use regularly is on "special," (whether by sale, coupon or both) how much better to purchase it while it's at its best price?

So, say you routinely buy toilet paper (and I'd hazard a guess most of us do) and your preferred brand is being offered at a reduced price ... if you keep track of prices you know immediately if that sale's worth the trip. 

A price book can be kept in a binder or - if my "intel" is correct (and he usually is) - nowadays it can simply be an app on your phone.

So my first question for you all today is:

Does anyone have experience with a price book, and if so, do you keep it manually or electronically?

*$*

And here's the second part of this week's topic ... 

Some of us are seasoned pantry keepers, but many of us are just starting out. Filling those cabinets and freezer shelves can be expensive!

So when you don't have a lot of wiggle room in your budget, how do you build up a versatile and valuable pantry? Please share any tips you might have!

*$*

As for me, I can tell you I do not keep a price book (other than the random facts and figures I juggle in my head) and my pantry is slowly being built week by week. I've been a bit disorganized about it though, so I feel like my shelves may be filled with good buys, but not necessarily helpful meal starters. (I mean, how many boxes of Cheerios does one family need, lol?) So this is something I'd like to focus on as we head into fall ...

Well my friends, I'm going to sign off for now - time to rally my troops - but I'll check back in here as I can. Enjoy your day, wherever it takes you, and I'll see you here again very soon.


I am a Marketer's Dream ...

Waffles pumpkin spice

Well, this is what Bill tells me whenever I come home from shopping with something like this: a new "seasonal" item that I simply cannot pass up. But you know ... it's nearly fall, and I'm craving cooler, cozy days, so "pumpkin spice waffles" just sounded so yummy and special!

(In my defense, I also had a coupon, so really, how could I say no?) 

So yes, today I bought some frozen "Pumpkin Spice Eggo" waffles ... even though I know homemade waffles are A. healthier, B. tastier and C. so much less expensive.

Still, I can't help but wonder if "Eggnog" is next ... ;)

(Anyone have a pumpkin waffle recipe to share?)

p.s. I just caught up with last week's comments - I'm so sorry to be so late in my replies this week. Thank you, as always, for your patience and of course for stopping by to read and perhaps leave your thoughts. I appreciate your time and support!


Thoughtful Thursday ~ on Food Choices

Here's an interesting article on food choices: "Good, Better, Best: Traditional Foods for Every Budget." (Thanks to my friend Donna for sharing the link!)

Oftentimes, the "best" food choices are the most expensive - sometimes too expensive for a typical family budget. How do we decide how and where to allocate our food dollars?

Are there certain things you buy "organic" on a regular basis?

KG apple

A little food for thought this Thursday morning ... hope your day's a good one!

:)


More Food for Thought ....

... from NBC news: 

Avoiding the Grocery Store: A 30-Day Challenge

The author of this article is going to try to avoid the grocery store for a month. She is following a challenge called "The 30-Day No Grocery Store Challenge." Except for a $30 allowance, it's her goal to bypass the grocery store and buy things more locally:

"I’m one of the many Americans who wants to eat healthier, believes in organic food (in theory, if not in actual purchases) and loves the idea of supporting small, local businesses. But, I almost always find practicalities outweighing these ideals ...

As the mother of two, preschool-age children, I worry about the extra time commitment of this challenge. I also worry that this commitment won’t be sustainable for my budget. Will budget considerations make me consider other changes to my diet as well?"

Ms. Macario will be reporting in over the next several weeks, and I look forward to following along!

Where do you do your shopping each week? Have you changed your shopping habits at all?

KG butcher baker

Have a great Friday, my friends! I'll see you here again very soon ...