Brandless: The Organic And Vegan $3 Grocery Store

shop organic from brandies for just $3

You might have heard about Brandless, the organic and vegan $3 grocery store. Or maybe not.

If you haven’t, let me introduce you!

Brandless, this is my Awesome CHL Reader.

Awesome CHL Reader, this is Brandless.

Brandless is an online retailer that sells everything for $3. They can do this because they are “brandless” – aka, they don’t have to pay the “brand tax” that comes with carrying big name brands. Because of this, they can offer higher quality items at lower prices. They have loads of vegan, organic/non-gmo, and environmentally conscious products, sometimes in bundle packs, and everything is $3 (or less, if you buy the bundle packs).

Also, for every order placed, they donate a meal through Feeding America, a non-profit network of food banks across the country. You know how much I love supporting companies that support even greater missions, so I am even more excited when I restock my pantry!

I’ve tried a wide variety of their items and today I want to share what I find to be the highest value and healthiest products available.

Honey

Organic honey can be expensive, but I really enjoy a bit of honey in my morning Superhero Coffee drink. This little bottle, while small, is still less expensive than most honey bears at the store, plus it’s organic.

Coconut Oil

If you don’t use coconut oil for much more than sautéing your veggies (or a morning Superhero coffee), this is a great value, especially for being cold pressed, unrefined, and organic. If you want to do any baking or oil pulling with coconut oil, this might not last very long for you.

Peanut Butter

I can’t stop raving about this peanut butter. Organic, and only two ingredients: peanuts and sea salt. This peanut butter is so creamy, so rich, and so yummy, I eat it directly from the jar (it’s a good thing I’m the only one who likes peanut butter in my family).

You can tell it’s natural because it requires stirring before you can use it. I can’t stress enough just how delicious it is.

Lentils

I’ve seen pouches this size of green lentils for more than $3 at Walmart, and they were definitely not organic. Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber, and a good way to stretch or replace ground meat in recipes (especially tacos!). Lentils cook up quickly and take on the flavor of whatever you are making. I like to mix mine into my curried chickpeas and rice recipe for an extra texture and another kick of plant protein.

Garbanzo Beans

As my diet has transitioned to becoming more plant-based, my intake of garbanzo beans has steadily risen. For $3, Brandless carries a 3-pack of organic garbanzo beans – definitely a good deal! I use garbanzo beans my super easy curried chickpeas and rice (a vegan meal prep staple) and in my favorite snack, chickpea cookie dough.

Teriyaki Sauce

Another meal prep staple in my GYST days is a batch of teriyaki chicken and rice. This sauce is organic and vegan and sooooo yummy. After I sauté my chicken (or chickpeas, or tofu, depending on if I’m vegan that week or not) with some onions and peppers, I pour in some sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes. Pour the mixture over rice and you’re all set.

I eat this with chopsticks from Ikea – a package of 4 sets of bamboo chopsticks is only $0.99!

Back to the food – this sauce is flavorful without being too spicy. I love ethnic foods for the richness of flavors, and this does not disappoint.

Note: It does contain wheat products, so I don’t give it to Tristan since he’s gluten-free.

Body Wash

One area of my life I am working to improve is the matter of self care. It is a priority to me to find bath products that I enjoy using, just to add a bit of sparkle to my daily routine. It’s been difficult to find bath products that are both healthy and inexpensive, but I have to tell you: this green tea and aloe shower gel is a new staple in my house. Free of sulfates and phthalates, this body wash is very lightly scented and gentle on my sensitive skin. It has a light lather, and cleans well without leaving my skin feeling dried out.

Face Wash

Another great find was the grapefruit face wash. It leaves my skin feeling refreshed and clean, but not dry. I had gotten out of the habit of washing my face daily (I know, I know, that’s terrible), but this face wash smells so good, I actually look forward to washing my face every day.

See, the good thing about self care is that it makes “have tos” feel like “get tos” and it makes each day a bit brighter.

One miss I will say is the pack of dark chocolate and peanut butter bars. They tasted alright, but I just wasn’t a big fan.

This could be entirely because my favorite brand of snack bars is Larabars and I will always and forever compare every other bar to them.

Sorry, other brands. It’s not you. It’s just that you’re not Larabars, and that’s not your fault.

Now, topping some IKEA dark chocolate squares with a dollop of Brandless organic peanut butter? That is a divine experience and highly recommended.

Brandless Details:

Shipping is $5 flat rate, unless you order over $39. They also have a membership program, where for $36 a year you have free shipping on unlimited orders. Brandless will also donate 10 meals through Feeding America with your initial membership fee, as well as 2 meals with every order (instead of 1 that occurs with every non-membership order).

If you plan on ordering regularly, the membership sounds like a great idea to me.

I was apprehensive to order from Brandless when I first heard about it. After all, organic products for only $3? But after experiencing the quality, I am a dedicated customer for life.

They have all sorts of other products for your home and office, including cleaning supplies, snack items, and even fair-trade coffee (that you know I’ll be sampling soon). I love that they have some of their most popular items in “bundle” options (7 items for $19.50, for example), for easier shopping and even more savings.

Ready to try the Brandless $3 grocery store for yourself? Use this link to get 2 items free from me!

If you loved learning about Brandless and want to remember to save money without sacrificing quality, be sure to save this post for future reference!

shop brandless products for $3 or less

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Urban Gardening Wish List

I am a firm believer that “to grow your own food is to print your own money.” Imagine the amount of money that would immediately open up to you if your grocery budget was significantly decreased! Thanks to the Urban Gardening movement, it is now completely possible to grow your own food, even in small spaces.

I’ve been combing through Amazon, putting together my wish list of urban gardening supplies. We are renting, so even though we have a small front yard (no back yard), I doubt my landlord would be too thrilled if I tore up the grass to plant a garden. Some precious friends with a huge farm have graciously offered to let us use a portion of their land for a garden, and I am equal parts humbled and thrilled, which is a very difficult mix of emotions to convey through words. Picture me jumping up and down squealing but also flabbergasted, and that would probably be pretty accurate.

I know many people are in the same sort of renting living situation, so I wanted to share this list and show you how possible it is to have a garden in small spaces, or without the whole plowing and tilling process. Here are some great products that will help you create the urban farm of your dreams:

1. Envirocycle compact compost bin

These are created with small spaces in mind. It comes in two sizes, the 35-gallon (pictured) and the 16-gallon. They sit on the ground and spin easily. Every garden should have at least two (since you need one to fill while the other one “brews” for 6 weeks or so). These guys are even BPA-free! I think they look like snails.

2. Tower Garden

I can’t say enough about these powerhouse growing systems. They are aeroponic growing systems, self-watering, and grow tons of food in 5 weeks or less. No weeding. It’s planting and harvesting, and that’s about it. You can purchase one at a time or a family pack in sets of 3. These can even be brought inside and continue your harvest year-round! To grow in here: lettuce, kale, spinach, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, strawberries, and possibly a melon or two.

3. 20 gallon fabric growing pots

Sometimes, you just need dirt. These pots are made of a sturdy fabric to allow for better drainage and easier air flow to the roots. To grow in these: sweet potatoes (check out this post on growing sweet potatoes in buckets), beets, garlic, and raspberries.

Other items on my wish list for our garden:

Urban apple trees (they are a hybrid that can stay planted in pots!)

Kitchen compost bin.This particular bin is great for under the counter storage. I used to have a countertop storage system and even though I kept up with it, it had an odor. With this, I can lock the  container closed and keep it under a cabinet. Less odor = happier family.

Harvesting Bushel Tote bag – to bring in all your delicious fresh produce!

Miracle-Gro AeroGarden – Absolutely, positively cramped for space? This little guy can even fit anywhere!

I am so excited to get my garden this year!

Want even more tips for gardening and DIY? Get access to ebooks, webinars, printables, and more with the  Ultimate Herbs and Essential Oils

Thank you for reading! If this post has helped you, please share and download your free copy of my ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition!

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Eat Healthy Food for Less

Feeding a family on a budget is difficult enough. But add in specialty diets and it can be pretty impossible depending on where you live. We are pretty lucky because we live in a rather ritzy college town (which seems so silly, a ritzy college smack dab in the middle of Iowa, but whatever, I’ll go with it), so there is a small family-owned grocery store that carries more organic and otherwise healthy options. Apparently the college has a lot of vegetarians and vegans, so they have a good place to shop.

But food deserts are a reality and many people don’t have the access to quality foods that we have. So for you (and in case you were curious about good places to shop), here’s a run-down of some places that I have personally shopped at and recommend:

Thrive Market

Thrive Market is the online convenience of Amazon, featuring Whole Foods products at Aldi prices with a Costco membership. Make sense? I love that I can order hemp hearts and sprouted quinoa, as well as the basic healthier foods and good dark chocolate. Plus, my membership fee pays for two memberships: on for me, and one for a qualifying low-income family. Shipping is always free with orders of $50 or more. Oh, and did I mention they almost always have a free gift with purchase? Try Thrive Market for free and enjoy the amazing deals – like 20% off your first 3 purchases!

Zaycon Fresh

This is basically a co-op for farm-fresh meat products. The meats are sold in bulk by the case, so either go in with a friend or enjoy stocking up on meats for up to 25% off grocery store prices. Since the meat comes straight from the processor, the taste is amazing compared to store-bough meat.

Azure Standard

The only thing I don’t like about Azure Standard is the minimum of $50 order. They are a bulk co-op in several cities, and you have to coordinate with a drop manager to know when your order will be delivered. When we lived in St. Louis, our drop was a K-Mart parking lot, and there were a good 50 families participating. This was where I first bought a gallon of coconut oil, and another time I purchased a 22 pound bag of sea salt (I’m pretty sure we will be using that salt for the next 10 years. It’s been two years already and it looks like we’ve barely touched it). Azure Standard is awesome for bulk purchases, especially for harder-to-find things like organic wheat berries for my friends who have enough time to grind their own wheat for their homemade bread. You can’t see prices unless you’re a member, but it’s free to join.

Tropical Traditions

Known for being the best coconut oil in the world (and truly, it’s delicious), this stuff is worth the investment. It goes on sale pretty regularly and there are deals for buying multiples, so go halvsies with a friend or two for the best savings. Or do what I did and buy a 5 gallon bucket.

Amazon

Not everyone knows about the best (in my opinion) feature of having an Amazon Prime membership: the Prime Pantry. Basically, you fill a box with whatever food/household items your little heart desires for the flat shipping rate of $5.99/box. These are BIG boxes, friends. One time we got a $50 gift card for participating in a survey and we were able to stock up on groceries and a 24-count package of toilet paper. Not only do they have plenty of organic or health-conscious items, and if you happen to like Seventh Generation or Mrs. Meyers cleaning products, I would recommend using this feature (sign up for Amazon Prime here if you don’t have an account yet).

I do a lot of our shopping online. Now that we have a more flexible food budget (and I have found creative ways to supplement it), I’ve been able to slowly transition. One of my goals for 2016 is to make about 95% of our non-perishable purchases online with money I’ve earned through writing articles or swagbucks gift cards and getting to use our grocery money on fresh produce. The more I can provide quality nutrition for myself and my men, the happier I am!

Have you ever shopped at any of these places? What do you think?

For more tips on how to eat a healthy diet on a budget, grab my ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition, for free!

 

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Allergy-Friendly Vegan Peanut Butter Smoothie

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We are out of chocolate and I’ve really been trying to tame my incredible sweet tooth recently, and I’m a bit obsessed with my new favorite peanut butter smoothie!

I have tried making this smoothie with several tweaks, and it is a very versatile recipe. To make it allergy-friendly for those who can’t have peanuts or almonds, swapping out the nut butter for sunflower butter is an easy solution. For those allergic to almond or cashew milk, I recommend either hemp or oat milk. d

Peanut Butter Smoothie

3 ice cubes

1 large banana

1/8 cup (give or take) cashew milk (my new favorite nut milk!)

2 scoops vanilla protein powder of choice (can be vegan – I prefer this brand or this, or may add a few scoops of collagen powder for a non-vegan option)

2 big scoops peanut butter (probably around 1/4 cup) – can also use almond butter or sunflower butter for a nut-free option.

Blend until smooth. I have never had a more delicious peanut butter treat in all my years of loving peanut butter. If you like your smoothies on the thicker size, you can freeze the banana prior to blending and it will have a milkshake thickness.

Enjoy!!


Thrive Market sells your favorite organic and non-gmo brands for up to 50% off retail.

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How Much can you Earn with Swagbucks?

Can you earn free gift cards with Swagbucks?

Each month I will recap my progress with earning Swagbucks and using them to supplement our food budget.

I will admit that in January I really wasn’t very proactive in earning bucks. I know, bad me! It’s only the first of the year and I’m already slacking. Anyway…

I ended January with 2,061 Swagbucks and another 518 pending. This was earned almost entirely by using the “shop and earn” feature. Any time I needed to order something online (and I need to order lots of supplies for work frequently) I log into swagbucks first and use that link to go to the Amazon account. It costs absolutely nothing and I can earn points! The pending 518 is because I purchased a Groupon to get an eye exam and some contacts (after two years in glasses, I’m finally starting to feel like myself again!). Those will be deposited in 30 days or so.

Plans for my gift cards:

I’ve decided I’m going to save up to $50 in either a paypal or a Visa gift card this time and make my first purchase from Thrive Market. Try it for free and enjoy their amazing prices! I’ve just really been anxious to try them out because I’ve heard wonderful things. I want olive oil, cacao nibs, coconut, collagen….all the things to improve pieces of our diet that are usually pretty expensive are so cheap on Thrive Market I had a hard time finding what ELSE we would want to get that would get us to free shipping! Yes, I have my cart filled, I’m just waiting for 2,500 more points first so it can truly be a budget supplement instead of an excuse to buy extra health food because it’s “discounted.”

Things to keep in mind:
  1.  When doing the shop and earn rewards and it says Amazon is up to 7 Swagbucks per $1 spent, the “up to” is important. I was a little disappointed after all the things I ordered when what I purchased didn’t actually qualify for the full 7 Swagbucks/$1 special. Just keep that in mind. I didn’t have any trouble with my groupon converting easily though.
  2. Sometimes it takes forever for the points to show up as pending. And when that happens, the customer support team is ready and happy to help you, you just have to email them.

In Februrary I’m going to be better about answering the daily polls and the “No Obligation Special Offers” and setting up my phone to play the videos to earn more points at a faster rate. I don’t really have time to play the games for possible points that I used to, and they got rid of mahjong so I don’t really care for the games anymore anyway. However, if I am consistent with the videos, NOSOs, and the polls each day I will be adding a daily 39 points, plus a few bonuses here and there. That’s more than enough points for a $10 gift card every month! Add your online orders to that and it adds up!

Do you use Swagbucks? What gift card would you want if you were to consistently earn $10 a month just by searching and answering questions?

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