July 2014 archive

How to Save Money at Whole Foods

How to save money at whole foodsI can’t tell you how often people ask me, “How do you afford to shop at Whole Foods?” If you read about me here, you will quickly realize that prior to my husband’s diagnosis of brain cancer, I was an AVID coupon shopper! We started shopping at Whole Foods when David was a patient at MD Anderson and we were living in Texas during the summer of 2012. Shortly after we arrived back home, a Whole Foods opened a few miles from our house! You can call it fate…destiny…whatever. I call it a blessing. I immediately realized that I was not in the ‘Publix coupon world.’ As much as I love that Publix doubles coupons and as much money as I saved shopping at Publix, I now REFUSE to buy products with artificial ingredients/colors/preservatives. I didn’t know better before. I LOVE what Whole Foods stands for. You can read about their quality standards here. The other night David was brave enough to watch Food Inc. (on Netflix) with me. Previously he hasn’t been willing to watch it because he is afraid that it will turn me into a vegetarian…and I do all of the cooking. He’s not interested in becoming a vegetarian-by default. (Shhh! don’t tell him our diet is mostly plant based) Anyway… after watching the documentary, he definitely wants to continue eating meat, but did say that he’s completely done with fast food (which is a HUGE change from 2 years ago). What we don’t know about the food we eat is terrifying and is hurting our nation and our health.

Okay-sorry for that little aside…back to saving money at Whole Foods. Bottom line: YOU CAN SAVE MONEY AT WHOLE FOODS. YOU CAN SAVE MONEY AND BUY QUALITY PRODUCE/PRODUCTS! Don’t be intimidated! This is my first in a series of posts about how to save money at Whole Foods and other healthy grocery stores in town. In case you’re curious, Whole Foods did not sponsor this post. These are my own ideas and opinions and I’m writing this because I am passionate about helping people eat healthier on a budget! Here are a few tips to get you started…more to come!

how to save money at whole foods

#1 Shop In-Season Produce-  It’s corn season right now. Obviously, when produce is in season the prices will be lower because there will be more supply. It’s difficult, if not impossible to find fresh organic corn…but non-gmo is the next best thing. You DO NOT want to purchase GMO corn. Here’s why- Look for non GMO signs..corn is one of the top GMO crops. Another example: I buy a ton of fresh organic blueberries in the summer…and buy frozen organic ones in the winter when the fresh ones aren’t in season. Fresh organic blueberries are much more expensive in the winter (if they are even available at all). I love cooking with produce that is in season…it’s fresher, it tastes better, and it’s a fun way to enjoy the harvest of each season!

How to save money at whole foods#2 Buy in Bulk- So I’ll be the first one to admit that the bulk section can be a little intimidating. Imagine a bunch of clear bins filled with a lot of items I haven’t heard of and/or don’t know how to use! If you learn how to shop them they can be very useful! Whether you need a little or a lot of an item, bulk bins can be a great way to save money! Example: I use dates to make these delicious peanut butter cookie larabars. Pitted dates would save me a lot of time, so I asked one of the friendly produce men where I could find some organic pitted dates. The dates I used to buy are found in the refrigerated section, are around $8.00 per pound, and aren’t pitted. The dates from the bulk section are already pitted (easier and you’re not paying for the pit) and are $5.69 per pound! One of my favorite parts of shopping the bulk bins is that you can buy as little or as much as you like. If you want…you can just buy a few items to try-no strings attached! Just remember to write the PLU # on the bag so they will know how to charge you at the register. (One of my first trips to Whole Foods in Houston I didn’t know that trick and it took forever for the cashier to figure out what items I had in the bags)…Lesson learned-label your bulk items.

how to save money at whole foods#3 Use Coupons/Buy Cases- Every two months, Whole Foods puts out their “Whole Deal” coupon booklet. The same coupons are also available on their website. The most awesome thing about the Whole Foods coupons is that they can be used an unlimited number of times! Yes–you read that correctly! This means that if you like a particular item enough to buy a case…for bars a case is 12 (or how many come in a box)…for other items it may be different. Soft drinks are four 6-packs to a case. Ask to find out the specific quantity to make a case. If you purchase any item by the case you will automatically receive 10% off your total for that case. You are allowed to mix/match flavors. If the item has a Whole Foods coupon available, you may use the Whole Foods coupon on EACH item. Right now there are 50 cent coupons available for CLIF Mojos and Kit’s Organic bars. You can use this deal to get a great price on a case of bars! This is a great example of how to save money at Whole Foods! Note: Manufacturer coupons may only be used once. Whole Foods issued coupons are the only ones that allow multiple uses!

How to save money at whole foods#4 Shop for Produce in the Freezer Section- Don’t you hate it when you buy some fresh produce, stash it in the fridge when you get home, and a few days/weeks later you throw out something that doesn’t even resemble the fresh produce you ‘recently’ bought? One tip for keeping produce fresh longer AND saving money is shopping for produce in the freezer section. Organic peppers are expensive. They are also hard to find when not in season. Alas, Whole Food’s store brand (365) has a large bag of already chopped red, yellow, and green organic peppers for just shy of $3.00. This bag usually lasts 3-4 recipes in my house. Frozen produce is packed with nutrients because it’s harvested and quickly frozen at it’s peak. From organic corn, to organic berries, to organic quinoa. The frozen section is the way to go for saving money and convenience!

IMG_7161#5 Shop the Sales I spy BOGO. Do you see it? Whole Foods might not advertise their BOGO deals quite as well as some other stores in our area…but they have them! Pay attention to the advertised specials and sign up for their newsletter. Sometimes I find the best deals when I’m doing my regular shopping and see a sale tag. One thing I really love is that their deals go on for longer periods…2 weeks up to a month. That gives you ample time to get back to purchase more of an item before it goes off sale. For more information you can check our their money saving site here.

how to save money at whole foods

#6 Learn the Store- This tip is for the prepared food section. Whole Foods has a label “Health Starts Here” that means items are the epitome of health. Foods with this label are whole foods, plant strong, and don’t contain any added extras (like extracted oils or sweeteners). More info here if you’re interested. Anyway…if you need a quick lunch or dinner…you can grab $4/4. In the prepared food section (foods behind the case) you can choose anything with the Health Starts Here label. You can choose 4 different items or double one. You may not double two items. Each day the selection varies a little. If you do this you’ll be getting a ton of really healthy food for $4.00. You can’t beat that! Here’s a picture of one I purchased this week. You can’t see how deep the container is, but let me just say you’ll definitely be pleasantly surprised by the amount of food. I chose the three items pictured below and doubled the Caribbean Chicken Salad.

I hope this posts leaves you excited about your next trip to Whole Foods. I will say that we frequent Whole Foods so much that when Wells is ‘pretend driving’ anywhere..and I ask him where he’s going he says “Whole Foods.” Cracks me up. If I drive by and we don’t go in he has been known to cry. He loves the store…and REALLY loves the snack wagon for kids. A free treat per visit. In Wells’ opinion…you can’t beat that.

how to save money at whole foods

Do you have any other tips? If so, please leave a comment below!

Watermelon Summertime Salad…Mmmmm!

Watermelon Summertime Salad

Watermelon Summertime Salad

photo provided courtesy of foodnetwork.com

Lilla’s Notes: I made this watermelon summertime salad for our family 4th of July celebration at the lake a few weekends ago. It was the first time I’ve made it and I thought it was the perfect mix of summertime fruit with a slightly tangy dressing. I bought the bagged organic arugula from Trader Joe’s…and that worked out perfect! To make it even easier, I also bought my favorite inexpensive cheese from Trader Joe’s instead of shredding my own. It’s Parmesan, Romano, & Asiago Cheese…and it’s raw and under $3.00! We enjoyed it with hotdogs, hamburgers, and sweet potato fries! Tips: Don’t make the salad too far ahead–or the dressing will wilt the arugula. You can make the dressing ahead of time and let it sit a little while before mixing it with the salad! Yum, Yum!



Homemade Peanut Butter Larabars

Homemade Peanut Butter Larabars

Homemade peanut butter larabars

photo provided courtesy of ediblesoundbites.com

Lilla’s Notes: Currently I am doing The Daniel Fast with my sister, Ashley. On this fast I cannot eat any sugar–at all–whatsoever. I was craving something a little sweet and these homemade peanut butter cookie larabars really hit the spot! I’ve made these twice already. Wells loves helping me push the buttons on the food processor. I bought organic dates from the Whole Foods bulk bin–$3.00 cheaper per pound than buying the organic ones in the fridge section. Also, the ones I bought were already pitted! I used unsalted roasted peanuts from Trader Joes. The first time I made thin bars–I was trying to make them a good deal smaller than an actual Larabar. The second time I rolled them into little balls…well, more like mashed them into balls. Tip: I love these cold! So, I keep them in the refrigerator. Kid friendly–Wells loves them too. He calls them his peanut butter cookie balls! I upped the nut amount a tad to make them a little less sweet…I was craving something savory too! One last note…I made these once with raw peanuts. I had to toss those and try again. The consistency and taste were not even close to the ones I made with the roasted and unsalted peanuts. Although I typically love raw nuts, skip the raw peanuts for this recipe…you’ll be glad you did!

Almond Butter Balls

Almond Butter Balls

almond butter balls

photo provided courtesy of elanaspantry.com

Lilla’s Notes: I LOVE these almond butter balls! I use Trader Joe’s crunchy, raw almond butter! I also use a lot more flaxmeal than the recipe calls for. You can buy organic flaxmeal on the oatmeal isle of Whole Foods or Earth Fare. Usually it’s made by Bob’s Red Mill-you need the ground kind. I also like to add chopped walnuts for an extra crunch! I love to put these in the freezer and pop them out a few minutes before I want to eat one. They remind me of an ice cream Snicker’s bar and days spent at the pool as a kid. We used to run up my dad’s tab at the snack bar with our sugary purchases….Tips: I heat the chocolate chips on low and haven’t had a problem. You need to salt the almond butter balls while the chocolate is still wet. I salt a few then dip some more. Also, freezing the balls before you dip them in chocolate helps them hold together. I use a fork to roll the ball in the chocolate (two forks on either side…not one through the ball).

Delicious Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Delicious Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

delicious paleo chocolate chip cookies

photo provided courtesy of oatmealwithafork.com

Lilla’s Notes: I’ve made a ton of cookies with almond meal, but these are the most delicious paleo chocolate chip cookies I’ve made! I use Trader Joe’s Almond Meal (4.99 for a 1 lb bag). I also use 70% cacao organic chocolate chips. These have MUCH less sugar than those with less cacao content. I use Equal Exchange Chocolates brand. Found on the baking isle of Whole Foods. I also use either all Coconut Oil (Trader Joes brand, organic) OR I use half organic salted butter/half coconut oil. Sometimes David requests a little butter flavor (I know you’re all shocked that he still likes butter-haha!) These freeze really well! Tips: One bag of Trader Joe’s almond meal is a little over 5 cups-I usually bake large batches! Also, I use unbleached parchment paper from Whole Foods to make the clean up easier! Another helpful hint is that as these sit on the counter they can become mushy. I like to keep them in the fridge. They are good cold, or even better heated a little in the microwave right before they are eaten! They store very well if you separate them with parchment paper in a glass container or ziploc bag!

Quick Healthy Breakfast Ideas


quick healthy breakfast ideasOrganic Steel Cut Oats (quick cooking in the microwave)-the cheapest way is to buy the 24oz cylinder from Earth Fare. Whole Foods doesn’t carry quick cooking organic steel cut oats. We love these with organic chia seeds, a few walnuts, and frozen blueberries. The blueberries really cool down the hot oatmeal very fast! A bit of honey is a great way to sweeten it too!
quick healthy breakfast ideasEzekiel Cinnamon Raisin Bread-I buy this from Whole Foods or Earth Fare because Trader Joe’s doesn’t keep theirs frozen…I think it tastes fresher when it’s been kept in the freezer. Toast a piece! I eat mine plain! David like a little butter. Almond butter is good as well!
quick healthy breakfast ideasTrader Joe’s Organic Corn Flakes…I try to avoid cereal because I know there are WAY healthier options. Problem is David is a HUGE cereal fan…and consequently, Wells loves it too. We try to switch it up and definitely don’t eat it every morning. When we do, we will eat this. David has switched to using half organic almond milk/half organic milk. If I eat cereal, I use all almond milk. The texture is a little different…but there is virtually O sugar!
quick healthy breakfast ideasNature’s Path Pumpkin Flax Granola. I found this incredible treat when we were in Houston while David was going through treatment. Most granolas have A TON OF SUGAR! This one has much less than the others. A box of this lasts us a REALLY long time. We put a dash in with the organic corn flakes–it adds a special crunch and a delicious flavor. Easy to find in stores-EF, WF, TJ.
quick healthy breakfast ideasVega protein smoothie. Sometimes if I work out in the morning I need something light and cold. David and I have both tried to like the Raw proteins…they are organic….but the texture is too grainy for us. We will mix this smoothie powder with organic almond milk, 1/4-1/2 frozen banana, and a few ice cubes. Delicious, filling, and provides 2 servings of veggies!

Do you have any favorite quick healthy breakfast ideas that you’d like to share? If so, please leave a comment below!

Almond Meal Banana Nut Muffins

Almond Meal Banana Nut Muffins

These are a great for breakfast, snack, or dessert! We love these!

Almond Meal Banana Nut Muffins

photo provided courtesy of justapinch.com

Lilla’s Notes: Hands down the best almond flour muffin recipe I’ve tried…and trust me, I’ve tried a bunch! I use Trader Joe’s Almond Meal for this recipe. Also, I regularly buy more bananas than we eat and freeze the leftovers in a big bag. I break them in half before freezing them. That way I always have a stash to use for recipes! I only put half of the honey this recipe calls for. I also use 2 bananas, not three. We find them plenty sweet and super delicious! I use Trader Joe’s Organic Coconut oil in these, not butter. Also, I LOVE to add frozen blueberries–MMM! Banana/blueberry muffins! This past weekend I added 70% cacao chocolate chips…those were delicious with the bananas as well! Tips: I don’t put the chopped nuts. Wells likes these better without the added nuts. I LOVE that these are packed with protein too! We do like to heat them before eating and David likes to add a tiny dab of butter! I, however, don’t need the butter! Delicious!

A green drink a day…green drink recipe

Lilla's Green Drink RecipeI’m taking liberty to change an old adage. Not that I don’t like apples…but in our life this is more appropriate! A green drink a day keeps the doctors away….hopefully that will be true in our case! I started making this green drink recipe when I realized that we couldn’t possibly eat as many vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables) as we could drink. This is our favorite green drink recipe. It’s the one I make each morning and we carry with us…David to work, Wells to daycare, and mine goes to school with me. We have these nifty lifefactory glass bottles–although there are lot of different ways to transport them. Wells uses this cup. Anyway..you can make it in the morning, keep it cold, and shake it and enjoy at anytime of the day. This is a super healthy, vitamin and mineral filled snack..not to mention you’re drinking a TON of greens! I was in Whole Foods this morning and noticed that local, organic kale is $2/4. That’s a great price! When we first started drinking these I did add more fruit to help us adjust to the flavor…this is the recipe I use now. It’s easy to adjust to your taste by adding a little more fruit and/or coconut water. Soon you will adjust to the taste and may like the drinks less sweet like we do! PS-Wells LOVES these! He gets super excited when I turn on the Vitamix. He happily squeals “green drink!!”



Lilla’s Green Drink Recipe (Makes 3 servings)

  • 2 c organic baby spinach
  • 4 c organic kale leaves
  • 1/2 organic frozen banana
  • 1 c organic frozen berries
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1 1/2 c coconut water
  • 2 T organic ground flax seed
  • 4 ice cubes

Directions: Place all of the ingredients in a Vitamix/Ninja/blender in the order listed above. Blend until a desired consistency is reached. Drink immediately or cover and refrigerate. If refrigerated, shake before drinking!

Tips: Avoid the tuscan kale from Trader Joes. It has a very strong flavor and is very rubbery. If planning to store and drink later, store in a bottle that doesn’t have much room left for oxygen. That way the drink will hold most of it’s nutritional properties better. Wash/rinse containers immediately…the remains of a green drink can really get stuck and become a pain to clean if left unrinsed!

Cancer Changes Things…the beginning!

Cancer Changes Things

I’m currently working on this site. I hope it will be a helpful compilation of recipes, ideas, and tips to make eating clean easier! I also plan to share information about our story and the way we have grown spiritually as well. Thanks for visiting…and thanks for bearing with me as I figure out how to start a blog! Please check out our story for more information about how cancer changed our lives. Please sign up for my newsletter for more ongoing information and posts about how cancer changes things…