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!

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10 Healthy Meal Planning Tips For The Whole Family

family-friendly and healthy meal planning tips

Guest Post by Peter Minkoff

Whether you’re looking to eat healthier as a family, or just avoid going on a shopping binge every time you walk into a grocery store, meal planning can go a long way in helping you cut your costs, save time, and stay healthy. Let’s see what you can do to keep the process as simple as possible and check at least this one parental worry off your list!

Plan to plan

Much can go wrong if you constantly keep your meal-planning time flexible. Make a commitment to spend an hour or two at a specific time during the week and stick to your little family appointment. For example, Saturday at noon should be reserved for planning your next week of meals, later that day, at 5pm, you can go grocery shopping, and Sunday morning can be reserved for making the meals ahead.

Make your little cookbook

No matter the size of your family, every member has their own favorite dish. You’ll want to make a list of meals they love, and then see how many of them you can make your main meals. Categorize them according to the type of recipe and the complexity of ingredients, so that you can swap and mix when the need arises.

Think seasonal thoughts

A significant part of keeping your meals as healthy as possible is using fresh, locally-grown ingredients that are available during the year. Your yearly meal-planning can be focused on dishes that contain items currently in season, so there’s another idea as to how you can make your family cookbook even more organized! Also, you probably don’t want to spend your summers next to a hot stove, so you can keep your recipes practical and weather-friendly, as well.

Ready-to-eat options

No, this has nothing to do with those canned meals and microwave dinners, on the contrary, the idea of meal planning serves to help you use as little processed food as possible, and go for fresh, whole food to make your own meals. However, if you don’t have the time or the know-how to make brilliant dishes, you can use ready-made healthy meal plans put together by people who specialize in healthy nutrition and can create a plan perfect for you and your family.

Get organized

If your kitchen is a mess, you won’t be able to put your plan into action. Get rid of all expired products, and items you’d like to banish from your diet, such as those candy bars, chips, and soda. Instead, use the first grocery day to supply your kitchen with fresh produce and go-to essentials, such as spices, healthy snacks, and containers in which you can store and freeze your meals.

No meal left behind

For families that often end up throwing out leftover dinners and lunches, it’s time to use your meal-planning to make the most of your cooking. Make one evening each week a “leftover” night, when you’ll repurpose, eat, or freeze the meals that would otherwise go bad and end up in the trash.

Plan around your life

As the famous saying goes, life is what happens to us while we’re making other plans – take this into account even for this simple aspect of your life. Some weeks at work will be more hectic than others, while your kids might be away for a school trip for a few days on some other week. Make your meal plans work for you, and schedule, prep, and cook based on your availability and the rest of your schedule.

All meals matter

It’s too easy to skip breakfast when you’re in a hurry to prepare for a job interview or drive your kids to school, but planning ahead should help you keep track of all main meals of the day. When there’s no time to make breakfast, there should be some Greek yogurt, dried fruit, nuts and seeds waiting, so it only takes a few stirs and your breakfast is ready. Using leftovers will also help, since you can repurpose meals from the day before for your next day’s dinner.

Delegate

Even if you’re the foodie expert in your family, that’s no excuse for the rest of the gang not to take part in the process, especially when it’s time to pitch new ideas, keep track of the food calendar, and thaw the food when the schedule says its time.

Plan your snacks

These sneaky little buggers are often the key culprit of weight gain and various health issues, but you can prevent them by always having some healthy options at hand. Fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit are always better than a sugar-loaded muffin from the store.

 

With a diverse menu on your hands and some practice, you’ll quickly master the art of meal planning and make your cooking sessions a much easier process both on your time and your wallet.

 

Peter is a frugal living and lifestyle writer for Voice Boks magazine. Follow Peter on Twitter for more tips.

If you enjoyed this content and found it helpful, please share so I can help others!

family-friendly and healthy meal planning tips

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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

healthy smoothie, healthy banana and peanut butter smoothie, healthy protein smoothie, vegan protein smoothie, vegan peanut butter milkshake, easy vegan milkshake

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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