Yesterday we picked up our Azure Standard order from our Drop Point in Rickreall. It was a more unusual order for us. We desperately needed blueberries and I could not find organic or spray free blueberries for a reasonable price for the life of me. We had gone through our stash of frozen blueberries that we picked from Minto Island Growers quite a while back and we were missing them.
These berries from Azure were the best deal I could find (the picture only shows 5 of the 10 pounds)…and I still almost choked at the price. I am also lso finding that most fruit prices are at an all time high this time of year for things like apples and pears. Although this may seem pretty obvious based on the fact that we are only getting farther away from apple season, it has still taken me by surprise. In season I can get organic apples for close to a dollar, and then they increase steadily. This time of year it seems that my target price is more like $1.50 or less per pound for pears and apples. Now that we are going through a larger amount of produce, I am totally feeling this in our grocery bill. I even bought organic mangos the other day because they were not much more than the cheapest apples. Can’t wait for more fruit to be coming into season. Alright, enough about fruit prices. Sorry.
Why did we buy this stuff?
The steel cut oats are our favorite cheap healthy breakfast. We brown them in a bit of butter and then soak them overnight. The next morning we cook them up and add fun toppings. Maybe I can post more about this later.
The Pau d’ Arco bark is for hubs. A helpful lady at Life Source recommended it when I had a question about his skin issues and supplements for him. We will use it to make a tea. Mmmm. Tastes like tree.
The Chia Seeds are something Hubs wanted to add to our cooking. This will primarily be added to things he eats before he goes for runs/races.
The Gamma Seal Lids are to go on top of 5 gallon buckets and create a good seal, but are also easy to open. We will use them for our bulk wheat berries, different oats, and maybe beans. They are speedy, but we will use them on food safe buckets we are hoping to get for free. This will ensure that our bulk purchases are safe from getting bugs etc.
Lately I have become a little bit obsessed with Grocery Outlet. Last night I made a last minute trip to the Salem Grocery Outlet (on D St) to try to get more of a few things I found on a recent trip. I even found a few great markdowns (yes, even Grocery Outlet has markdowns!). I got all of this for $45.00! With the exception of the cheese and Kettle chips, everything was organic! I bought a few things we don’t normally buy, but they will be nice occasional treats for the kids. If you don’t eat organic you will find that some things are even cheaper than what I purchased.
Here is a rough price list from memory.
Organic yellow and red potatoes-Marked down to 99 cents from $1.99
Big tub of organic salad mix- Marked down to $2.49 from $4.99
Kettle chips -$1.99
Athenos feta spread- Marked down to 87 cents
Organic chicken wings -$1.99 per pound and one was 50 cents off
Annies organic chocolate chip granola bars 7ct-$1.99 (6 grams of sugar per bar…not too bad)
Solana Gold organic apple sauce (apple boysenberry and apple strawberry)- $1.99 (On sale at Life Source for $3.99 I believe, and Azure last month for $3)
Country Choice organic sandwich cookies-$1.50 ($3.99 at Fred Meyer)
Annies Bunnies cheddar crackers- 25 cents a piece
Only bummer was when they would not allow me to use a Grocery Outlet coupon they emailed. We were out of a printer for a couple weeks and Hubby hooked it up hours before my trip to the store. As I was getting into the car I saw that it expired 2 days prior. I never try to use expired coupons, but thought that since it was a store coupon for new email subscribers that they might still be able to honor it easily. No dice.
Do you ever shop at Grocery Outlet? Their stock changes often some products are a one time thing.
I feel a bit better now that I let the cat out of the bag. Now don’t you go clearin’ shelves on me. 🙂
-Grocery Outlet has no idea who I am. I am just a fan of good cheap food.
Yesterday was our Azure Standard delivery day at the drop point we use. My friend and I take turns picking it up and it always feels a little like Christmas. We always seem to stop at Burgerville, so it is good we don’t pick it up every time. 🙂 We happened to be out of a lot of our bulk items, and I decided to get bigger 25lb bags of oats and beans this time. I also ordered more hard white and soft white wheat berries. I use the wheat berries in my grain mill to make fresh ground flour (it is healthier and makes homemade stuff taste even better). Hard white is a good average whole wheat (not too dark), and soft white replaces white flour nicely in recipies for pie crusts, cakes, etc.
Here is a list of what I got. Notice that some items did not come. That is one of the only things about Azure that is a bummer. Sometimes they are out of your stuff and you have to just order it again next time. They do have a system now that tells you how many of the item is remaining at the time you add the item. It still catches me by surprise because I often add items to my cart over time and don’t know they are running low on an item. This picture does not include our favorite steel cut oats. We already cracked into them and forgot to put them in the picture.
Azure Farm Steel Cut Oats (whole grain), Organic
Wholesome Sweeteners Brown Sugar, Dark, Organic, Fair Trade
Eclectic Institute Elderberry Instant Immune POW-der
Crofter’s @North American Superfruit Spread, Organic
Biokleen Produce Wash
Azure Farm Wheat Berries, Soft White, Organic
Bulk Black Beans, Organic (split with a friend)
Nutiva Chia Seeds, Organic
Nature’s Alchemy Tea Tree
Nature’s Alchemy Eucalyptus
Azure Farm White Beans, Small, Navy, Organic
Bulk Hard White Wheat, Organic
Bulk Quick Oats, Organic
Bulk Steel Cut Oats (whole grain), Organic
My sweet helper always wants to pose with the groceries. She probably thinks all moms line up and take pictures of their groceries. And yes, she does like to wear multiple dresses in the same day. Usually I encourage her to keep the same outfit on, today I let her live it up. Love that girl.
After I refilled my jars I had to figure what to do with all the extras. I wrote the dates on the bags so I can get an idea for how long it takes me to go through them. I will also clip the corners shut with clamps and put them in plastic totes for the time being. I hope to get them into well sealed 5 gallon buckets when we get our hands on some more. I love the Gamma Seal lids on the two that I have. Who knew I would get excited about fancy bucket lids?
I am looking out on at least 5 inches of fresh snow and praying everyone is safe driving today. After all the snow we have gotten this year I am starting to feel like I live in an area where snow is a common occurrence. Shout out to my dad and hubby for picking me and my van up late last night after I was having trouble just making it out of the neighborhood I was in.
Costco on a Saturday morning…why not? We headed out the door and found our favorite store filled with sample hungry shoppers. People complain about Costco on Saturdays, but it is really not all that bad. After pushing a beast of a stroller through that store for years with the twins, I almost expect to not be able to navigate very smoothly. But, it was no big thing with all registers open and parking for everyone. In fact, the only thing that slowed us down on this trip…ME! The shoppers (and my husband) must have thought I was crazy snapping pictures of price tags every few feet. I heard my husband explain to one male shopper who questioned us, “She has a blog”. I am not sure if that helped explain, or confirmed the fact that I am actually crazy. Some people don’t get the “blog” thing. Some people also don’t get having 3 kids 3 and under. Call us crazy.
Here is a list of my findings. This list is not exhaustive. Also remember that Costco’s stock changes quickly. Sometimes an item will be carried for quite some time, and other times it is just making a brief appearance.
UPDATE BELOW with my findings on my most recent trip in early Jan 2013
This price list is from the Salem Oregon store. Prices and stock carried can vary by store and region. The reader tips are likely from a different store. An astrix (*) at the end of the price indicates that it is their last shipment. Stock up if it is something you love.
Organic and Natural Products roughly broken down by category and area of store
Bybee Foods Organic Frozen Petite Pea 5lbs $1.178 per lb $5.89
Bybee Foods Organic Green Beans 5lbs $1.198 per lb $5.99
Bybee Foods Organic White Cute Corn 5lbs $1.118 per lb $5.59
Firestone IQF Organic Dark Sweet Cherries 4lbs $3.173 per lb $12.69
Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend 3lb $9.69 (good price for these berries although keep in mind that some come from out of country and I am more leery of organic produce from outside of the US because of the possible lack of regulation)
Kirkland Signature 2% Organic Chocolate Milk 24/8.25 oz $14.99
Sick…that is what we have been over here for a large chunk of the fall and winter. We have had something like 7 full blown viruses since the very start of fall. It is kind of a joke. A sick joke.
I am actually not sure what I think about it. I am still trying to sort it all out. I am sure God is trying to teach me something, so I am trying to pay attention. Something about relying on him. Something about how I can not keep my kids healthy. Something about how he is in control…not me. So I am just going to try and deal with it.
I have always said I would rather have it be me sick than my kids. Well that has happened too. The kids seem to bounce back between bugs…but I do not. I have asthma. I can’t eat half of the healthy things my family eats because of food allergies. It all plays a role. My lungs have been messed up EVERY single day for almost 4-ish months. I am not dying. I am not in severe distress. I am just trying to get through. I have had 2-3 likely sinus infections, but thanks to the neti-pot and some serious steam breathing, shower taking, bla bla bla I have kicked them. I am so thankful I did not have to take antibiotics. Antibiotics. They are bad for you. Extra bad for people with a handful of weird health issues like I have. Don’t feel bad for me. I am fine. But yeah. Still have the junked up lungs.
Kids currently trying to get healthy. Thought I had this cold already a few days ago…woke up today with a more sore throat than usual…NOW I might actually have it. Great. Hoping that by the grace of God, this one won’t set me back much. What has been happening is I catch a cold…kick most of it after about 3 weeks…and go back to where I was with my lung/asthma stuff. I have been seeing a naturopath for the first time. I know, kinda weird…kinda awesome. I have gone twice and have a whole arsenal of things I am trying. I am all about actually healing my body and getting it better rather than just taking stuff to mask the symptoms. I am am also totally for “modern” medicine when it is needed. But, I want to have a healthy body. I want clear lungs, and I would love to eventually be off of my daily inhaler. Because my asthma started up “randomly” after the twins were born I think it is possible to reverse some things and maybe not have to deal with it as much.
It has been a weird week. We actually planned a couple fun things with friends and had to cancel it all. My mom and grandma had other plans for all of this week and part of last so our “regular” grandma times that break up the week are missing. So here I am. Just me and my sick kids all day every day. And most of the time I can totally handle it. When your kids are uber grumpy, snotty, and needy and you are the only one to deal with it for most of the day…you just do. You are a mom and it is your job. God made us for this. Never easy, always worth it.
-Baby (17 mo) is actually sleeping through the night most nights (for the last few nights). See how loosely I refer to all of this? The decent sleep I am getting most nights this past week has been a huge blessing and a large part of why I am still sane.
-my Birthday my mother-in-law is bringing over a sweet cleaning lady to clean my house tomorrow (I don’t know her, but any lady who comes to my house to clean is “sweet”). Any guess what I have been doing for days to prepare? Clean. Nothing like the motivation of having two ladies in your home to get things moving. Cleaning right now=killing clutter piles and half dusting so that it looks like you might actually dust on occasion. Very excited and totally nervous.
I will leave you with some recent quotes.
“Mommy am I going to be sick on my BIRTHDAY???” Quote from my melodramatic 3 year old son whose birthday is not until February.
“Mommy, my head hurts…a little bit all over…I think it is a headache, but I will be easy going about it (in a fairly cheery voice)” Quote from my 3 year old Little Miss.
Making slow healthy changes with our food and home has been a gradual progression around here for quite some time. The changes largely started when we had kids. Hubby and I joked that we had to get the Cheetos out of the house before the kids were born. When you are building a person from the ground up why not make every bite count? It was also greatly spurred on by a litany of food allergies that worsened after the twins were born which got me reading labels. Some days we do better than others with this stuff . We are by no means perfect (the twins coincidentally might have even had Cheetos this weekend on vacation). Here are some more changes we have been striving for around here…
4) Ditch the lunch meat. We try to not purchase lunch meat often. Most of them are full of nitrates and other preservatives, have tons of sodium, are often made with questionable cuts of meat, and quite possibly have MSG. When I am craving a good grilled panini we splurge on high quality meat (without most of the scary stuff in it) and only occasionally as a “treat.”
We have replaced lunch meat with other forms of protein like hummus, eat leftovers for lunch rather than sandwiches, and made sandwiches out of home made chicken salad (amazing!) or other non “slimy meat” ingredients.
5) Make your own baked goods. We try to have healthy whole wheat muffins on hand for breakfast, snacks, or cravings for something “sweet.” Our current favorite is pumpkin chocolate chip. The kids gobble them up and the whole wheat makes them much more filling than a regular muffin made with white flour. We also love to make scones, whole wheat cookies, and cinnamon rolls for a very special treat. Although, most of these would not qualify as “health food” they are much better made from home where you know the ingredients and can make some healthy substitutions. Most people know that there is some scary stuff (mainly in the form of weird oils and tons of preservatives) in the boxed and wrapped baked goods, but even much of the grocery store baked goods have a lot of weird ingredients. The fresh baked bread is not always too bad, but things like the plastic clam shells filled with neon cookies and cupcakes are probably pretty questionable. Check out this link on the wonders of supermarket baked goods.
If you find that you are baking a lot you might even want to consider investing in a grain mill. I love my Nutrimill! Fresh ground flour is tastier, but best of all is much more nutritious. As flour sits it loses nutrition and much of the flour in stores could even be rancid. Even the way the flour was ground initially can affect its nutrition. All you have to do is buy wheat berries and run them through the mill and you have flour (you can grind other grains as well).
6) Get the plastic out of the kitchen. Plastics often contain BPA and other harmful ingredients. Some of the new plastics are labeled BPA free, but I still prefer other materials when possible. Glass, metal (stainless steel is great), and ceramics (Fiestaware is lead free) are just so much more attractive and whimsical. Since the kids were little we have avoided using plastics with BPA in them. When they were young we had to do a bit of looking at labels, now it is a bit more common to find clearly labeled kids products from big name brands.
*We do however use Ikea’s plastic children’s bowls and plates. I was told they were BPA free and they are very affordable.
I never mean for these posts to make anyone feel like they are not doing enough for their family. Being a mom is hard! This is just our SLOW journey. Some days we do great on these types of things, and other days we are just trying to hang on and survive.
Hope your day was splendid! If not, tomorrow will be a fresh start.
1) Ditch the Teflon pans. Many of us are used to cooking on Teflon. Its nonstick surface is so appealing. What is not appealing is the dangerous substance that it is made from. Have you heard of the “Teflon Flu”? Apparently it is the fumes that are emitted and inhaled that are the most dangerous (especially for animals). We are slowly replacing our Teflon pans with other alternatives. I recommend stainless steel or cast iron. I have just been buying one piece at a time as I find them cheaply at places like Costco, Kohls (with a coupon), and TJ Maxx.
2) Change up your breakfast routine a bit. Instead of serving breakfast cereals, strive to feed your family things like organic oatmeal from scratch (easy), home made whole wheat muffins with fruit in them, yogurt or kefir, eggs, and one or two bigger breakfasts if you like. It won’t take much more effort at all. Breakfast is the easiest meal to change up if you are striving to feed your family more healthy whole ingredients. It is the perfect place to start!
3) Skip the High Fructose Corn Syrup. Whats the big deal with HFCS? I kinda wondered this for awhile too. I figured it was worth avoiding feeding it to the kids. Over time I have learned more about why I did not like it all along 🙂
Here are the reasons why I try to avoid it.
It has been linked to many negative health impacts (much like sugar).
HFCS can very likely contain mercury. One study states that mercury was found in about half of its tested samples. That is crazy.
It is often a sign that a product is made up of cheap ingredients. HFCS is a very inexpensive sweetener. When companies choose it to sweeten their foods they are often choosing other cheep or poor ingredients…which could often point to use of GMO ingredients, MSG (or hidden MSG), trans fats, etc. By avoiding HFCS you are likely avoiding other bad things.
The process to make HFCS is scary. It sounds like it includes chemicals, chemists tweaking stuff, things that aren’t safe to touch, huge labs, protective gear etc (watch King Corn). Its no small thing.
More sources on HFCS here and here. A bit on how it is made here.
Disclaimer-I am no genius. I am just a mom trying to do the best for my family. Be sure to research things for your own family before making any big changes.
I must tell you all about my new favorite thing. For more months than I would like to admit I have been modifying my “virtual cart” at Azure Standard. Last week I was finally able to get my first order. Azure Standard is a co-op of “quality bulk and natural foods”. They can ship most things to your door, but the best way to order from them is by having your order sent to a “drop point.”
It is like grocery shopping from your couch…for good quality food…at great prices. What’s not to like?
To get started you can call customer service and tell them your city and see if they deliver to your area, or check out their route information on their site. Then, ask them for the phone numbers for some people who have “drop sites” in the area. After calling around and settling on the coordinator that is most convenient for you ask when you need to submit your order by (or try to figure it out online), and when the order will come.
The items come by truck to your drop point and either the driver or coordinator will usually call you to tell approximately you when your things are coming/ have arrived. Some sites work things a bit differently. Some drops are in parking lots and some are on porches.
I found it a bit difficult to get started because of all the phone calls that I had to make. With three small children it was really hard to call the 9 names they gave me to actually figure out which drops where near me. I attempted a few times, but then got busy and a month or so would pass before I would get back around to it.
The other tricky thing is that most drop sites have to make a minimum order to get delivery. The first drop I tried was going to be really close to my house, but we did not make the minimum order and I had to switch at the last minute to find a new one. I ended up doing what I knew I should have done all along and went with a “tried and true” drop that a friend used that always meets their minimum (around$500). Another thing to be aware of is that I believe most sites require that you meet a personal minimum order of $50 if you are having your items sent to a drop.
Be sure to check out their specials as well. Their sales span over a two month period.
They carry SO many different types of things. They carry tons of bulk foods, canned goods, produce, packaged natural/organic yummies, dairy, frozen goods, meats, herbs, health and beauty items, cleaning products, baby things, supplements, pet care items, and more all at great prices.
Here are some more shots of the goods…in case you are as curious as I am about what other people buy when they shop.
Here is what happens after you get all your pretty new glass jars out and start putting your bulk purchases away. After months of dreaming of this moment…your toddler knocks the oatmeal over. You bite you lip, try to show grace, and see how fast you can run the price per lb.
(In case y’all were wondering, I get nothing for this endorsement. I just am really enjoying my purchases.)
If you have any other questions for this newbie feel free to try me.
(Sunshine Squash in the glass container, Butternut waiting to be baked, and Sweet Potatoes up top)
If you have a little one who is getting ready for baby food anywhere in the near future and you are thinking of making your own, now is the time! If you act quickly you can still get the tail end of some of summers bounty, and all the yummy things of fall to preserve for your babe.
My kids practically lived off of squash during their early months. Our newest baby is still a couple months from her first bites, but I realized that if we want to feed her the same types of things we need to get moving. We love making our own baby food because it is fresher, cheaper, and closer in taste to the real fruits and veggies than the jarred foods. I think this is important because they won’t have any rude surprises when you discontinue the Gerber and move on to the real stuff at the dinner table. I also tend to believe that home made baby food cooked just enough and then frozen is likely to hold more of its nutrients than the stuff that sits on the shelf.
When the twins were little we delayed offering things like rice cereal (some people even say to skip this altogether) and fruits and veggies for a bit. By the time we introduced them they could have almost had soft cubes. Even though they were soon ready for soft cubes and nibbles, I loved having the convenience of having the purees on hand. They were so great to add to many other things to pump up the nutritional quality. We frequently added purees to plain yogurt (whole yogurt when they were little for the fat) and oatmeal. Don’t feel like you have to make a huge variety of purees… just a few will do. You can soon supplement with whatever fruits and veggies you are feeding your family. You can even buy a few jars at the store if you feel like you are lacking in variety. We tired to start with things that were not too sweet so that they would not turn their nose up at vegetables later.
The Salem farmers markets only run through the end of the month, but after that you should still be able to find some organic produce in season at the grocery stores.
Baby girl’s heartbeat has usually been in the mid 140’s
Belly measuring on track
-Love the double take strangers do to see if you are in fact pregnant.
-Smiling right back at the strangers who smile when looking at the kiddos and my belly.
-Still have not settled in on a name for baby girl.
-Decided to try for VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Met with a Dr. in Portland who delivers at St. Vincents where they are “allowed” to do VBAC’s. But, the hospital has a very high rate of cesareans (which he says is due to their high level NICU). Striving for a “natural” child birth and hoping I am supported in that. It might be an uphill battle. I would love to give birth at a birth center, but still appreciate being at a hospital because of the (low) risk of rupture that comes with a VBAC.
-Found out at my first appointment with the OB in Portland that my stomach muscles are in fact separated from my pregnancy with the twinners. Wonder why my Dr. here in Salem never mentioned that before.
-Do not have gestational diabetes. Always nice to know.
-Baby girl is quite active. Especially after a good dessert and always at bedtime.
-Pretty sure she has assumed a position that is now sending me to the bathroom every 22 minutes.
-Little man recommended “Louie” as a good baby name. I think we will keep looking.
-Planning to register with no intentions of actually using it except for the 10% off coupon you get after the baby is born.
-Slowly getting things checked off my “Big To Do List”
-Wondering if my “decaf” coffee was really decaf. Sorry baby. Blame Starbucks.
P.S. If you take a Carmel Macchiato and add more ice and a little chocolate ice cream in the blender it tastes really good.
-Read almost all of 6 “natural” childbirth etc. books in one week by carrying them around the house. Kiddos call them my “baby books”.
– Trying to do some of the “Bradley” and yoga exercises from my books.
-Had to keep from chuckling when the intake nurse asked if I was exercising. Wondered if going up the stairs 87 times a day, doing 122 baby gate hurdles, and 200 toddler lifts counted as my main form.
-Baby found my ribs. Pretty sure the twins did not even manage that.
-Tons of baby hiccups.
-She is quite particular about her space. Does not like counters, tight fitting pants, bowls of cereal, resting arms, toddler elbows, or anything else that encroaches upon her space. Will kick back at anything that offends her.
-Need to take more belly pictures. Must be in sweats and pj’s too much lately.
-Laughing every time I find one of the littles walking around with a very rounded back trying to stick their belly out. Pretty sure they are making fun of me. Caught little man doing it with focus again before bed last night while watching his shadow. Also found little lady happily going about her business with a wadded up item of clothing shoved under her shirt for quite some time.
-Trying to teach the kids that babies only have milk (to prevent them from sharing food). Little man says “just milk” and little lady told me “Not dinner!” Ok, I promise.