Category Archives: Frugal Living Tips

Shopping AIP or Paleo at Aldi

Shopping AIP or Paleo at Aldi

One of the biggest paleo or AIP diet deterrents I hear people talk about is the cost. There is no denying that eating junk food or processed foods is usually cheaper than eating organic, paleo, gluten free, or AIP. That being said, it is not at all impossible to eat a healthy diet on a budget. I have been doing it for years. My trick is that I shop at multiple stores and buy each ingredient at the place where it is cheapest. You can read more about this in my post about creating a grocery price binder. That may sound daunting, but in reality it means that I go to 2-4 stores throughout the week and I buy the occasional item in bulk online. I buy my plantain chips at Big Lots because they are only $1, I buy any specific health food stuff like my raw sauerkraut or broth bones at Earth Fare or Whole Foods, and then everything else I buy from Walmart or Aldi. Now you are probably thinking “What?! Stop right there! A health food blogger shops at Big Box and Discount Grocery stores?! She’s a fraud, run away!!!” Well just hang on. I realize that not all of the practices of big chains like Walmart are good and trust me when I say that if I could afford to get everything from local farmers, the farmers market and small businesses I would, but in reality I am human. I am a human who works in human service type jobs married to another human who works in a church… suffice it to say we have a limited (read: very tiny) budget. However, we place a big importance on our health so we cut back in other areas to give ourselves some more room in our grocery budget and then we shop as smart as possible and one of the smartest choices I ever made was shopping at Aldi.

Aldi is a discount grocery store that is owned by the same people who own Trader Joes. They have deeply discounted prices because they are super bear bones. They only carry the most popular grocery items and there is less of a selection among items so instead of 15 kinds of pasta sauce to choose from there are usually about 2. They also don’t have fancy amenities and they look a little more wharehouse-ish than most grocery stores. They also have a small number of employees who primarily just check you out. You bag your own groceries (in bags you bring yourself) and put your own cart away. So, its not a luxurious experience, but if you’re like me you would gladly forgo the hot bar, coffee counter, free samples and endless plastic bags in order to save a ton of money. And trust me you will save money! We are not talking a few cents here, we are talking dollars. I get the majority of my grocery staples at Aldi and I usually end up paying less than $60 a week for them all. So, that being said I have decided to put together a little shopping list of the groceries I buy at Aldi to help encourage you to check it out if you’re lucky enough to have one in your neighborhood. As you go through the list you will see that some of the items are labeled (Not AIP), these are the items I buy for my hubby to eat. He is paleo/whole 30 but not AIP. If you are not fully Paleo or AIP they also have good deals on rice, corn chips, and gluten free products as well.

Shopping AIP or Paleo at Aldi

Shopping AIP or Paleo at Aldi:

Snacks:

Dates

Dried Apricots

Nuts (Not AIP)

Salsa (Not AIP)

Sweet Potato Chips (Not AIP)

Unsweetened Natural Applesauce

Baking/Cooking:

Vanilla Extract (Contains Alcohol, Omit or Follow Cooking Guidelines for Alcohol if on Intro AIP)

Baking Soda

Honey

Maple Syrup

Olive Oil

Coconut Oil

Dried Herbs

Canned Pumpkin

Produce:

Organic Apples

Organic Bananas

Organic Greens (Spinach, Kale…)

Local Sweet Potatoes

Organic Avocados

Frozen Vegetables

Frozen Berries

Local Seasonal Items (Pumpkins, Watermelon, Squash)

Plenty of other conventionally grown produce (onions, carrots, celery, mangos, berries, lettuce, pineapple…)

Canned Tomatoes and Tomato Paste (Not AIP)

Meat:

Wild Caught Salmon

Grass-Fed Ground Beef

Antibiotic Free Chicken

Standard Chicken (whole and in parts)

Bacon

Standard Pork Loins and Pork Chops

Standard Steaks

Ground Turkey

Frozen Burgers

Frozen shrimp

Frozen scallops

Frozen Tilapia

Standard Eggs (Not AIP)

Drinks:

Seltzer Water

Fresh Orange Juice

Almond Milk (Not AIP)

Note: The information in this post is solely my opinion based on my own experiences. I am in no way affiliated with Aldi or any of the stores named. 

The No ‘Poo Hair Washing Method… My Experience in Review

My Experience with the no 'poo method: plus reviews of 3 methods

My hair and I have never exactly gotten along. I have very fine, very straight hair which has always looked thin even when it wasn’t. I learned at a young age how to compensate for this, but let’s just say that it requires a curling iron and a fair amount of work.

This has always been the case, but a little over a year ago my hair and I had a major falling out (pun intended). After years of being on and off of immunosuppressant medication and steroids, suffering from nutritional deficiencies and low iron, having a sluggish thyroid, and fighting off multiple intestinal infections, my hair got the memo and started a mass evacuation from my scalp. It seemed as though all of the sudden I was pulling huge chunks of hair from my head for no apparent reason so, as any woman would do, I kind of freaked out.

Over the course of the last year I have done a lot to address the underlying causes of my hair loss. My nutritional deficiencies have been primarily reversed, my iron level is coming back up, my hormones are balanced, my thyroid is now functioning optimally, and those pesky little infections are being resolved. However, all of that has taken a great deal of time and has really only recently been accomplished.

In all honesty, the first thing that I did to address my hair loss was change my shampoo. However, instead of switching from one comparable brand of grocery store shampoo to another I decided to get a little radical and give up traditional shampoo entirely. I read a lot of testimonials about how traditional shampoo contains detergents that strip your hair of its natural oils, which can cause the scalp to overproduce sebum, harming the health or your hair and scalp over time. At this point I was willing to try just about anything, so I started my no ‘poo journey. I did go through a transition period that lasted about 4 weeks. This is the period of time in which your scalp adjusts from a lifetime of overproducing oils and sebum to only producing as much as your hair actually needs naturally. This is not a fun process and my hair did look like a totally greasy matted mess. My top tips for getting through it are to resist the urge to wash more, this will only make it last longer, wear your hair up or wear a hat or scarf. Use a natural bristle brush to help evenly distribute the oil through the hair, and when you really need to not look like a total mess use a DIY dry shampoo that is made of corn starch and, if you have dark hair, cocoa powder.

Since getting through the transition period I have tried 3 different methods of no ‘poo hair washing, so I thought it was time to share my experiences with you all.

  1. Morrocco Method: This is a line of natural hair products that is extremely popular in the paleo and natural health sphere. I have a number of friends who have had great experiences with it. This was the first product that I tried. I bought their sample pack of shampoo since they recommend trying them all to see which one works best. I tried using them straight from the bottle, I also tried diluting them. I rotated which shampoo I used with each wash. I used their detox product, as well as one of their conditioners and the honest truth is that it just didn’t work for my hair. I used it throughout my 4 week transition period and then for months off and on after that, but it always left my hair with a greasy buildup that made it hard to manage and unattractive.
  2. Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar: Following my transition period, I decided to try this original no ‘poo method. I would dilute baking soda in one bottle and ACV in another and use them to wash my hair about every 3 days. For the first 3 months of using this method it worked pretty well. I only had to wash my hair every 3 days, it left my hair feeling clean and soft, and I started to notice a lot of new hair growth. However, after about three months I started to notice that my scalp would go through periods of being very dry and then periods of being very oily. I had a harder time getting my hair clean, and I started to get dandruff. I later learned that the pH of baking soda is around 9, whereas the natural pH of the scalp is around 4. Because of this, baking soda can be extremely damaging to the scalp when used long term. In total, I used this method for about 6 months and by the end I was almost ready to go back to regular shampoo just so my hair would feel clean and manageable again.
  3. shampoo barJR Liggett’s Old Fashioned Shampoo Bar: I started using this product about 2 months ago and so far it is my favorite. I love using shampoo bars because they last a really long time and save you a ton of money. I stumbled across this product in my local health food store right when I was about to give up on this whole no ‘poo thing for good. The ingredients in the original formula, which is the one I am currently using, are saponified olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, sunflower oil and palm kernal oil as well as rose essential oil for scent. I love that is has so few ingredients and that they are all natural oils. There are no detergents that strip the hair of its natural oils and there is nothing overly harsh. It lathers really well, which was a huge relief to me because you can actually make sure that the soap is spreading throughout your hair, which I could never really do with either of the methods listed above. I still only have to wash my hair every 2-3 days most of the time (although with the current summer heat I have found that I need to wash about every other day to keep it clean) and my hair is completely clean, soft and manageable after each wash. My dandruff has gone away and my scalp seems really healthy. I do not lose large amounts of hair any more and I am continuing to see plenty of new hair growth. This is truly old-fashioned soap and I feel like it is the perfect happy medium between using mud and water and using something that is entirely synthetic and petroleum based. I highly recommend it.

Everyone’s hair and scalp is a little it different so I highly encourage you to find the method that works best for you and don’t give up. I have seen wonderful improvement in my hair and scalp since giving up modern shampoo methods and I doubt that I will ever go back!

My Experience with the no 'poo method: plus reviews of 3 methods

AIP Campfire Banana Boats (Camping on AIP)

Camping on AIP- Campfire Banana Boats (AIP/Paleo)

Traveling on AIP is a hot topic. It is possible, but it can be quite a challenge. One of the things that makes it so challenging is staying in hotels without kitchens or access to food. The way I have ended up managing this after years of trial and error is to pre make and pack all of my own food ahead of time and carry it with me in a giant cooler. Then I just microwave it as needed. This works, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a pain. Packing, cooking, and preparing food just doesn’t fit well with the hotel lifestyle. It does however work perfectly with the camping lifestyle.

As a child I went camping at least twice a year, every year. My family loved camping and it was a great way to take a little mini vacation without spending lots of money. It also gave us time to spend outside as a family and it was tons of fun. However, as an adult I have not had the opportunity or made the effort to go camping before now. This past weekend my husband and I  decided to go camping out in the mountains for two nights as a means of getting away, unplugging and resting before we enter in to a very busy summer. Since this was our first time going camping I did a lot of planning ahead of time and it all paid off because we had a fabulous time. The best part was that I was pleasantly surprised at how well my normal mealtime routine translated into camping life.

To cook with, we packed a portable charcoal grill that I got for about $20 on Amazon along with a charcoal chimney starter so that we could avoid using lighter fluid. We also have a single burner Coleman camp stove and we had a fire ring with a grate over it at the campsite. Then I packed our large cooler full of ice packs and all of the food that needed to be kept cool and then a separate cloth bag with all of the other dry food products. Then I obviously had to pack utensils, plates, cups, and things of that like as well.

The first night we had grilled steak which I had rubbed with a combination of salt, garlic powder and sage along with broccoli that I had tossed in olive oil and garlic and wrapped in tin foil. We cooked both on the grill and they were delicious. For breakfast I had cut up sweet potatoes, apples and bacon and tossed the in olive oil and wrapped them in foil and we cooked that on the grill one morning and in the skillet on the camp stove another morning. I paired it with sauerkraut that I had packed and the hubby cooked eggs. I used the burner to boil water for tea as well. For lunches we had salads that I had prepared in advance and I packed plantain chips as a snack. Finally for dinner the second night we had grilled chicken and green beans (not elimination AIP) that I again tossed in olive oil and garlic and wrapped in tin foil. However, the highlight of the whole culinary experience was our AIP Campfire Banana Boats. I found the inspiration for these on pinterest when I was looking up camping ideas. They had stuffed them with chocolate, mars mellows and graham crackers to simulate smokes, but I decided to give an AIP version a try. We had them the first night and they were so delicious, we had them again the next night as well.

All in all it was wonderful to spend a few days unplugged, relaxing and reenergizing and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to plan for and cook for, especially when compared to the stress of staying a hotel. We will definitely be camping a lot more in the future!

Campfire Banana Boats (AIP/paleo) Camping on AIP

Campfire Banana Boats (AIP/Paleo): 

Ingredients:

1 banana

1-2 TBS Carob Chips (Click HERE for a recipe)

1 TBS Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

Directions:

Take your banana and cut off the stem. Then cut a slit through the peel and the banana on the inner curve. Stuff the slit of the banana with your carob chips and coconut. Wrap the banana tightly in tinfoil. Place over your grill or campfire and cook for 8-10 minutes. Unwrap your bananas and use a spoon to scoop out the insides and enjoy!

20 Valentine’s Day Date Ideas That Don’t Involve Food

 

20 Valentine's Day ideas That Don't Involve Food

After strictly following the paleo diet for three years and then the autoimmune protocol for one year, I like to think I have a pretty firm handle on living a full life on a restricted diet. No one wants to feel like they are being inhibited by their health or diet, we want to live life to its fullest and have our health too. When Thanksgiving and Christmas came around I had loads of delicious AIP recipes up my sleeve that would leave even the junkiest of eaters feeling happy and satisfied. Easter? No Problem. Fourth of July? Oh Please, easy. Valentines Day? Ugh… Problem

I am not a cynic when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I love love and I love to celebrate, so any excuse to celebrate and have fun during an otherwise lame midwinter month is fine by me. The only problem is how to celebrate it. Most people celebrate Valentine’s Day with some form of meal. They go out for a fancy dinner or stay home for a romantic candle lit supper. Neither of those options are particularly great when you are on the autoimmune protocol. Going out to eat is possible, but it is more of a challenge than it is often worth, especially when you are looking at paying an arm and a leg for some bland chicken and vegetables worse than anything you could make at home. Yet, when you make dinner at home EVERY. FREAKING. DAY. There is nothing romantic about a trip to the supermarket and a dirty kitchen.

Well, don’t fret. St. Valentine never said that in order to show your appreciation for a loved one you have to eat dinner with them. There are many fun ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day and enjoy time with your loved one that don’t involve food. I’ve put together a little list of 20 ideas to get you started down the path to a memorable, romantic, healthy and fun February 14th!

  1. Be Children At Heart: Be kids for a day, go play mini golf, go to an arcade, battle each other in laser tag and race some bumper cars! You’ll be laughing your head off and creating a memorable day!
  2. Go For a Hike: Few things are more romantic than nature, there will be pretty views and lots of time to talk and laugh together.
  3. Watch the Sun Rise: Every day the sun rises and sets and we take very little time to notice it. Make Valentine’s Day special by sharing a cup of tea, curling up under a blanket in your PJs and watching the sun come up.
  4. Have a Movie Marathon at Home: Do you have a movie series or TV show you both love? Have a marathon. Make some yummy AIP friendly snacks, curl up on the couch and spend the day together. My Hubby and I used to do this with the TV show Scrubs!
  5. Go Star Gazing: It may seem cliché but where’s the fun in Valentine’s Day without alittle bit ofsappiness? Make some of this salted caramel hot “Chocolate” put it in a thermos and go check out the stars!
  6. Go to a Museum: Shared experience is the heart of most relationships so go learn some fun facts together (added bonus, a lot of museums are free!)
  7. Listen to Live Music: Find out which bars or venues in the area have live music and go check it out. Even if it is at a bar you can order a sparkling water and just enjoy the music!
  8. Go Skiing or Sledding: If its too chilly to hike then break out those skis. Afterwards maybe you can cuddle up by the fire! 
  9. Go Ice Skating: I am terrible at ice skating, but I love it. It always makes me laugh and it is one of the few fun ways to enjoy the cold! It is also great exercise.
  10. Make a Camp Fire: This is one of my favorites! One of the first things I ever bought myself with my own money was a fire pit because I absolutely love sitting by a fire on a cold night. Build a fire, sit some warm tea and just enjoy it.
  11. Go Window Shopping for your Dream Home: My hubby and I did this a lot when we were dating. Go window shopping at your favorite stores or at the mall and pick out all of the things you would like in your dream house. Its fun to imagine your future and its basically like creating a real life Pinterest Board!
  12. Go On a Scavenger Hunt: This could take on many different shapes and sizes, but you get the idea! Maybe create a scavenger hunt of places that are significant to you and your partner for some added romance.
  13. Get Massages: Why not relax and pamper yourself to celebrate? Get a couples massage and relax together.
  14. Take a Class Together: Is there something you’ve been hoping to try out but haven’t done it yet? Take a kickboxing class, a yoga class, ballroom dancing, rock climbing?
  15. Have a Game Night: When was the last time you played a board game? Bust out the Scrabble, Apples to Apples, Yahtzee, and Clue and have a game night! Nothing like a little competition to heat things up 😉
  16. Volunteer: Ready to pay it forward? Spend the day loving on your community by volunteering for a great cause.
  17. Rent a Moped: This was one of my mine and my hubby’s first dates. We rented a moped and drove around time exploring. It was hilarious and I just laughed the whole time we still look back on it and laugh today.
  18. Go Exploring: How well do you know your town or city? Go exploring, you can even pretend to be tourists in your own town and go hit all of those sites you always meant to see but didn’t.
  19. Have a Photo Shoot: This idea is great because it can also double as a romantic gift. Whether you hire someone to do it or your break our your tripod its fun to be silly and take some nice photos that you will treasure. When you’re done you can pick your favorites and get them printed and give them to each other as gifts. 
  20. Bowling: A Classic

 

A Simple and Sustainable Christmas List

A Simple and Sustainable Christmas List

About a year ago I read an article by author Shannon Hayes on the topic of investing. She wasn’t talking about investing money, per say, at least not as it relates to mutual funds and stock options, she was talking about making wise purchases that act as investments in your family’s lifestyle. The sentiment in this article has weighed heavily on my mind this holiday season as I buy gifts for those I love and receive gifts that were bought in love. How will the things I ask for, receive and buy further the values, goals, and lifestyle of my family or my loved one?

In the case of my husband and I our lifestyle tends to circle around the values of faith, simplicity, sustainability, and frugality. In the past, these values have led us towards purchasing primarily reusable vs disposable products, doing a lot of things ourselves, and focusing more on the quality or meaning behind things we buy rather than the quantity or popularity. This may sound boring in terms of gift giving, but receiving gifts that help further our goals by saving us money or increasing our sustainability bring us a lot of joy.

So what does a simple and sustainable Christmas list look like? Here are a few ideas to get you started!

Sustainability: 

 

Health:

 

Other Ideas:

  • A membership to a gym, yoga studio or dance studio

  • Money or gift certificates for date nights

  • Money towards a family vacation

  • Subscription to Hulu plus, Netflix, or amazon prime so that you ditch that cable TV

 

DIY Christmas Gift Roundup

DIY Christmas Gift Roundup

Well, it is officially time to break out the gift wrap, ribbon, and tape the season of giving is upon us. We are having a small Christmas in terms of giving this year, since we are also in the process of moving to a new city and my hubby is graduating for graduate school two weeks before Christmas. We will still be giving gifts to our loved ones but we have had to make them intentionally smaller than we have in years past. Last year I made all but two of the gifts I gave for Christmas, and did a gift basket theme where I made different themed baskets filled with homemade products and treats.

While I am not going all out with DIY stuff this year, as most of my supplies are in boxes, doing an all DIY year followed by a small gift year has given me a new perspective on this time of year. On the Friday after Thanksgiving this year I spent my morning in my PJs in the kitchen talking with my mother, in the afternoon my family loaded up the car and drove through the snow covered Appalachian mountains to go cut down a Christmas tree, and in the evening we enjoyed a wonderful meal in honor of my father’s birthday. There was no shopping, no crowds, no lines just fun filled memories of family time and love. Memories worth a lot more than a discounted TV set.

I have also found that by intentionally changing the standard of what Christmas gifts look like, I ended up lowering the stress I was putting on myself and others. I have now spent two years free of the burden of stressing over the affordability of the gifts I am giving others and instead have enjoyed the spirit of the gift and the time spent with each friend and family member and in return others feel less of a sense of obligation to return the gift in kind, especially if it is over their budget.

This isn’t to say that if someone in your life truly desires something that happens to have a larger price tag you shouldn’t give it to them if you can, I am a big fan of having people go in together to get larger gifts and I am one of the few Christmas babies who allows people to combine my birthday and Christmas presents when I desire something pricier. Rather, my point is to consider removing the arbitrary expectation of spending a lot of money on gifts and rather focus on the spirit of giving and the quality of the time you spend with your loved ones this holiday season because those two things will last much longer than any physical gift.

Here are a few great ideas for DIY Gifts to get you started this holiday season!

 

DIY Christmas Gift Roundup: 

Grass Fed Meat on a Budget

Grass Fed Meat on a Budget

Since beginning my journey towards simplicity and sustainability almost two years ago I have rarely come across a situation in which the sustainable option is not also the most frugal option. For example, cooking food from scratch will save you money hand over fist when compared to eating out and is also a great way to live more simply and sustainably. Switching from disposable products like paper napkins or disposable diapers to a re-useable option like cloth napkins or cloth diapers drastically reduces your environmental impact but also saves you a ton of money. Even growing your own produce on your patio saves you lots of money when compared to buying the exact same items at the grocery store. In this way, sustainability and frugality are two values that mesh well together. Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said when it comes to meat.
Continue reading