Tips For Saving Money When Shopping For Food: How To Make Every Penny Count When Buying Groceries

Grocery expenditures represent a major portion of a typical family’s budget, and while many shoppers know to hunt for sales and shop at the cheapest stores, there are many more savvy shopping secrets for savings. In order to maximize that budget and have some left over for fun, here are a few helpful hints to keep the stomach and the wallet full.

Buy Generic Brand Foods

Most grocery stores, from Fred Meyer to Walmart to Super Target, offer their own generic versions of most name-brand products. These stores stand to make more profit from generic brands than from the other food items they sell, so they often work hard to promote these and keep them in stock. However, a store can only profit if it sells what it has, so these companies work hard to ensure that their generic brand competes with the name-brand. Unfortunately for the stores, many customers still think that name-brand foods are somehow superior, and avoid them. This forces the grocery stores to offer their brand at a much lower price than the competition. Herein lies opportunity.

While their mascots are not as glamorous, and often not as sparkly, these generic brands almost always have the same ingredients as their name-brand counterparts. Sometimes, parents of picky children are reluctant to substitute the name-brand products they buy. However, a blind taste test may reveal a pleasant surprise: the biggest difference in taste between generic and name-brand is in the head. Moreover, the money saved from buying generic can often permit the purchase of tastier foods elsewhere, such as upgrading from hamburger to steak!

Know When Sales Rotate

Most stores change their sales on a certain day of the week, often on Thursday. When they have these sales, they will order larger quantities than normal. However, if they have a substantial inventory of a sale item and know that sales will decrease when the sale ends, these stores may put a special discount on their perishable items to keep them from going bad. This represents a loss for the store, but it allows for major gains for the customer.

When hunting for sales, don’t simply buy a sale item as a substitute right away. Shopping the day before sales rotate, then coming back the next day can allow a family to have access to a wider selection of sale items, keep foods fresh, and capitalize on the drive many stores have to push sales items. On sale rotation days, pay extra attention to discount racks to see if the manager has approved a sales push. These markdown items are avoided by the mainstream crowd, but are every bit as tasty and safe to eat as anything else in the store.

Haggle

Although grocery store employees have little control over the prices, their managers often do – and often times, especially in perishable sections such as meat or produce, they keep close track of how long an item’s shelf life is. During busy days, managers may not have time to go through their departments and mark everything down by hand. If a ripe item isn’t selling, its price may be negotiable.

Haggling may seem like a practice reserved for large contracts and bazaars in far-off countries, but there is no risk to trying it out. No company is going to be rude to a customer, and in the worst-case scenario, it sells for the price at which it was already set. Try to see if an employee is able to mark an item down. There may be a great deal of savings. Just be sure to follow the next bit of advice.

Be Nice to the Employees

Believe it or not, grocery store employees are real human beings with feelings. Often time, they are occupied with their work, but working in a customer-oriented business, they enjoy most human interaction. However, behind the friendly smile of customer service, employees, like everybody else, form judgments about the people they meet. An employee is much more likely to work hard to help a customer they like than they are to help a customer they don’t like.

When buying all groceries from one store over time, try to get to know the employees by name. They will often reciprocate, and if they know a shopper’s personal preferences, they can be sure an item is in stock, or be ready to haggle as soon as they see the customer walk through the door. Moreover, the nicer the customer, the lower the price the employee may set for an item that is on a discount. Kindness can literally translate into savings in this interactive situation.

Buy in Bulk if Possible

Some stores offer discount to people buying large quantities of a given item. This means that when buying non-perishable items, or when shopping for a social gathering, avoid buying an item off the floor and approach an employee about getting a crate, box, or other large quantity of the food item in question. These boxes are easier to transport, more uniform, and haven’t been picked over by the customer base.

Buying in bulk also has another advantage: it prevents splurging in other areas. Creating discipline by getting a twenty-pound case of grapes means a family is not buying expensive candies or cakes, improves nutrition, and provides enough groceries to last plenty of time.

Many times, these savings can seem small. However, because everybody has to eat, there is no reason not to work on reducing an unavoidable cost.

Myths and Misconceptions

Get a group of people together that have the common bond of juvenile diabetes and within minutes you’ll hear complaints about the misconceptions that people have about this disease. Most misconceptions and myths about IDDM are at the very least, annoying to people that live day to day with the disease and fully understand the reality of it. Myths and misconceptions often imply a sense of blame and guilt that are not appropriate for a person with diabetes or their family to have to be subjected to. Worse still, juvenile diabetes CURE research funding will never increase as long as there are rampant misconceptions about what IDDM really is. Until the general public realizes that IDDM is more than a ‘sugar problem’ they will never push for increases in research funding to find a CURE.

These are some of the myths and misconceptions that I’ve been approached with during the last two years and many of you have heard the same ones verbatim, at one time or another:

“Did he get diabetes from eating too much sugar or candy?”

No. I am a responsible parent and did not let him overindulge in candy or sweets. My son developed juvenile diabetes when his pancreas decreased or stopped its insulin production. We don’t know why his pancreas became ill though we suspect it could be genetics or a virus but we are certain that it had nothing to do with sugar and candy.

“He LOOKS healthy.”

Of course he does. Juvenile diabetes is an insidious disease that slowly accumulates damage as blood sugars fluctuate over the years.

“So he can’t eat any sugar or sweet foods now?”

Yes, he can eat sugar and sweet foods but they must be in limited amounts. People with diabetes must monitor the amount of carbohydrates in their diets regardless of what form it comes in. Carbohydrates are foods that turn to glucose once they are digested, like milk, pasta, rice, peas, beans, and other foods INCLUDING sweets and sugar.

“Does he take insulin pills like my grandmother does?”

No he doesn’t take oral medication for his blood sugar. If ‘grandma’ is taking oral meds, grandma has Type II diabetes and that is different than Type I. People with Type II diabetes are often insulin resistant, meaning that their pancreas is still producing insulin but for a variety of reasons, their bodies have become resistant to their own insulin and must rely on oral medications to help lower their blood sugar. People like my son with Type I, produce no insulin or decreased amounts of insulin and must rely on insulin being injected into their body to control their blood sugar levels. Injected insulin is a hormone that would be destroyed through the digestive process and useless if digested via the stomach and can only be utilized by the body through injections or inhaled and absorbed through the lungs. Inhaled insulin isn’t appropriate therapy for children as of yet.

Online Resources for Protein Vegetarian Diet Meal Plans

A high protein vegetarian diet that is nutritionally sound can do much to promote weight loss, prevent heart disease and diabetes and boost day to day energy levels.

Just what constitutes sound nutrition in protein vegetarian diets needs some consideration. Nuts, for example, are high in protein, fats and calories. Cheese and eggs are also high in fats and cholesterol.

Low fat protein shakes, made with real food, not powder, are good alternatives although they tend to get boring if overused. They also tend to be low in fiber when compared to other veggie meals. An 8 ounce bowl of lentils, broccoli and tofu salad, for example, provides almost the same number of calories as an eight ounce glass of shake, but the salad has more plant nutrients and fiber.

 For people who want to ensure an adequate source of protein and nutrients in their meatless diet, they are in luck. Several online resources provide all they need to know about nutritionally sound high protein “veggie” meals.

Chatelaine’s Vegetarian Meal Planner

A great place to start is the Vegetarian Meal Planner on the Chatelaine website. It provides a week’s menu of nutritionally sound, simple to prepare meals that are great in taste and easy on the budget. Recipes are also included, complete with directions, nutrition and caloric content.

The most seductive part of this meal plan is its simplicity. You don’t need to look for substitutes for elusive ingredients. You don’t need to calculate the meal’s nutritional value.

All you have to do is start off your first week on their recommended meal plan, assess it and then either continue using it or customize your own meal plan using Chatelaine’s “How to Create Your Own Meal Plan ” tool.

Livestrong’s Diet and Fitness Site

Another great resource for protein vegetarian diet meal plans can be found in Livestrong.com. Here, you are introduced to a series of articles, providing information on where you can find vegetarian sources of protein, what constitutes a healthy vegetarian meal plan and how meal plans for vegan and lacto-vegetarian diets are different.

You can also tap into the site’s fitness section which provides several video workouts for strengthening abs, core,. legs, arms and back. A “Dare to Change” section encourages participants to stick to various dares – like losing weight, sticking to a meal plan or exercise plan.

Menu Ideas for Complete Protein Combination

A more personal approach to veggie meal plans can be seen in Simply-Vegetarian.com. For several years, site owner Mimi Avishari has been creating balanced vegetarian meals for her family. Her website provides not only unique vegetarian recipes that are her family’s favorites, but also recipes sent to her by loyal readers.

You can check out information on where to get good vegetarian protein sources, how to make sure you get complete proteins in your diet and how to put together vegetarian menus that ensure you get quality proteins from various sources.

High Protein Vegetarian Diet Recipes

Finally, About.com supplies an easy to use resource for vegetarian meal planning. Breakfast meals include a tofu breakfast scramble that boasts of only 250 calories and 24 grams of protein,a vegan chocolate banana milkshake with 348 calories and 12.9 grams of protein and a vegetarian quiche with 370 calories and 19 grams of protein.

Lunch, dinner and snack recipes are presented as well on the site so you can easily pick and choose what recipe you would like to put together in a meal plan that works for you.

With such prolific online resources pitching recipes and meal plans, there is no excuse for not starting the new year with the goal towards better health through protein vegetarian diet meal plans.

Obese Britain

A recent survey has shown that a staggering sixty percent of people in Great Britain are overweight based on standard BMI calculations. The survey of over 2000 people, consisted of a BMI calculator, and showed 28% of people were classified as overweight. Even more were obese – Almost a THIRD of brits were classified in the highest BMI range.

Obesity Statistics

The findings from the survey – conducted by Salter, who are celebrating their 250th anniversary this year – there was good news about people’s resolve to change their weight for the better.

  • 28% of people in Britain are overweight
  • 31% of people in Britain are obese
  • 74% of overweight people would like to lose weight.

However, people don’t seem to be off to a good start on shedding the stones – many say they are simply too scared to check their weight regularly – with nearly a third only weighing themselves once every 6 months: And a similar number of people said they’d avoid weighing themselves if they knew they’ve put on a bit of weight.

Embarrassment

In addition to those stats, a quarter of the people questioned admit they lie to other people about what they weigh – with a further 16% being economical with the truth when it comes to their clothes size. Recent studies have also suggested people are too embarrassed about their weight to seek help from their doctor if they feel they may be overweight.

Causes

The largest government study into obesity was published two years ago by Sir David King. It painted a worrying picture of 21st Century Britain, blaming changes in working patterns, fast food consumption, reliance on transport, and the culture of food-selling. King, according to the Guardian newspaper, said: “The technological revolution of the 20th century has left in its wake an ‘obesogenic environment’ that serves to expose the biological vulnerability of human beings.”

Sex Life

More research has pointed to links between Britain’s obesity problem and problems in the bedroom. In a new study in the British Medical Journal, researchers found obese women had more trouble finding a sexual partner, and were four times as likely to have an unplanned pregnancy. Meanwhile, overweight men reported an increased rate of erectile dysfunction.

Tactics

The new coalition government are being urged to do more to to stamp out obesity in children. This year will see the first ever National Child Obesity Week in July: The week of campaigning has been organised by the National Obesity Forum (NOF) and Mend – a charity providing after-school health programmes for kids. But with culture changing faster than the bodies of people in the west can seem to cope with, tackling Britian’s so-called ‘obesity time-bomb’ looks set to be an unenviable task.

How to Reduce Salt in the Diet: Reducing Salt (Sodium) Intake Can Result in a Healthier Life

The United States Department of Health & Human Services recommended daily sodium (salt) allowance is 2,300 ml. (See Dietary Guidelines for Americans) More than this can lead to numerous health problems. A fast food meal made up of the major advertised burger with cheese, medium fries and a soft drink can measure between 1,300 and 2,000 mg of sodium. Salt (sodium) reduction is obviously a necessity in many diets today. This data comes from the websites of two major fast food restaurants. (Note: Before modifying personal diet, readers should consult their medical advisor—doctor, nutritionist, etc.)

Techniques to Reduce Sodium Intake

Many people exceed the daily recommendation by as much as two to three times—and some even more. It seems like sodium is in everything edible. There are several steps one can take to reduce daily sodium intake, including the following:

  • Don’t add salt to foods.
  • Request no salt on meals ordered in restaurants.
  • Eliminate high sodium prepared foods.
  • Start reading nutritional labeling on foods.

Stop Adding Salt

Visit any fast food restaurant and watch them prepare French fries. The fries are removed from the fryer and placed in a large bin with a rounded bottom (for efficiently scooping the fries). A large salt container is used to pour an unmeasured but large quantity of salt on the fries. When more fries are added, more salt is added. The fry container is not cleaned in between. While the container has holes to allow excess grease and salt to leave, the grease coating the container surface makes for an excellent bond for the salt to remain. As the day continues, the salt content increases. If this isn’t bad enough, many people upon receiving their food reach for the salt and ketchup packets adding another 270 and 110 mg of sodium respectively.

 By not adding the salt packet and ketchup packet, nearly 400 mg of salt can be eliminated. That represents nearly 17% of the recommended daily allowance.

Order Meals be Prepared without Salt

As mentioned above, fast food restaurants are notorious for adding salt during the food preparation process. When ordering fries, simply ask for fries with no salt. Most fast food restaurants will make a special order without adding salt. The diner must be prepared to wait for this special preparation, however.

If fast food restaurants are willing to prepare foods without adding salt, so are full service restaurants. Diners sometimes feel embarrassed requesting no salt be added. Restaurants get special orders all the time. The diner has the right to request food prepared the way he likes it.

If more flavor is desired, experiment with other spices. It might be as simple as adding pepper instead of salt. Or perhaps an herb such as oregano or celery. Be careful with these substitutes as some may be packaged with high sodium content. Be especially careful of prepared sauces like ketchup, barbecue sauce and salad dressing.

Eliminate High Sodium Prepared Foods

Snack foods such as potato chips, pretzels, and popcorn contain large quantities of sodium. These foods should be eliminated or replaced with no salt or reduced salt items. Better yet replace these snack foods with natural fruits and vegetables low in sodium content.

Read Nutritional Labels

It is important that anyone desiring to reduce their salt intake begin reading labels and investigating nutritional values of the food they are eating. Regardless of where food may be purchased, the information is available. For example, frozen dinners contain the information on the label and fast food restaurants have nutritional facts posted on their website, usually on a poster in the store and sometimes in a giveaway flyer.

Other Sources of Nutritional Values

For fresh foods and fast food chains there exist numerous nutritional lists. Lists abound on line at websites.

  • Nearly every fruit and vegetable has its own organization or association on the Internet with nutritional values and recipes.
  • Individual fast food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s have nutritional information posed online.
  • For an excellent collection of both, visit CalorieKing. This will eliminate the need to go to several sites.

In today’s culture, it may seem difficult to reduce sodium intake. With a little thought and planning, people can make more informed choices concerning their salt consumption. This consumption can be reduced for everyone and salt and sodium levels will go down. A healthier individual will emerge.

How To Avoid Mood Swings Using Food and Diet: A Proper Diet Can Help Keep Blood Sugar at an Appropriate Level

One of the most common causes of low blood sugar is an improper or inadequate consumption of food. Low blood sugar levels can lead to headaches, mood swings, and low productivity levels. Low levels can often be treated quickly and easily, and can be avoided all together by following a proper diet and eating patterns.

Start Each Day with Breakfast

Those who do not eat breakfast often binge later in the day. When a person doesn’t feed themselves for a lengthy period of time, blood sugar will drop and the body will go into a starvation mode. This is exactly what happens when someone is sleeping.

The body needs breakfast each morning to get up and get moving. Without it, blood sugar will remain low, and a person will find themselves craving junk foods which contain refined sugars and lead to a quick sugar fix. A sugar fix will only last for so long, however, and eventually the person will find themselves back where they started. Eating breakfast can help avoid these binges later in the day.

Eat Four to Six Meals Each Day

Eating more meals throughout the day will help to stabilize blood sugar levels. Eating evenly-spaced meals, every four hours or so, will help to keep blood sugar levels from rapidly dropping, leading to decreased productivity and increased mood swings.

Simply eating every four hours is not enough, however. Certain foods are more beneficial than others.

What to Eat to Avoid Mood Swings

Proteins and whole grains are two essential food groups to eat if a person hopes to avoid spikes and drops in blood sugar levels. The body breaks down bleached flour and refined sugars much more quickly than whole foods, and a quick increase in sugar will lead to a quick decrease in sugar, bringing the body back to square one.

Whole grains and natural carbohydrates, such as fruits, and vegetables, can help to avoid these spikes because the body takes longer to process the non-refined foods. Carrots and apples are good examples of natural carbohydrates. All three foods also are high in fiber, which will keep a person feeling full longer.

Protein is beneficial as well because it slows the rate at which carbohydrates are absorbed, allowing for a more even and extended blood sugar increase. Proteins also help to keep a person feeling full longer. Low-fat examples of protein include poultry, fish, soy, and eggs.

Change a Lifestyle, Change a Mood

The above suggestions are not temporary changes. To get the most out of each day, a person should make a habit of paying attention to what they eat to keep blood sugar levels high, leading to increased happiness and productivity. Slowly integrating one change at a time will ensure that eating right will become a habit and a lifestyle rather than a diet and chore.