Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Which Grocery Store is Cheaper? It Depends on What You Are Looking For


The question often comes up when talking about frugality as to which store is cheapest? There is no good answer to this, because which stores are available depend in large part on where you live. More than that, it depends on whether you want quantity or quality.

Most people are like me. I want quality in some things, and quantity in others. For example, I like quality meat at the best possible prices. I've wasted money on cheap, inedible meats, so I've learned who has the best prices on the meat I like. On the other hand, I'm not a connoisseur of things like rice and pasta, so I usually buy the cheapest I can find.

Name Brand vs. Generic

I have some name brand items that I simply will  not compromise on. I love Duke's mayonnaise, and I won't settle for anything less, even if the store brand is half the price. I do like Mueller's pasta, because I was raised with it, so I usually stock up during BOGO sales at one store or another, but I will buy store brands if necessary. I only drink name brand herbal teas, but try to stock up when they're cheap.

Canned vs. Frozen vs. Fresh

Living in FL, I stock up on canned foods for hurricanes, and I don't care about the quality of those. I just want to stay alive. I prefer fresh veggies, but keep frozen on hand in case I can't get fresh. I love fresh fruit, but I buy a lot of frozen fruit for smoothies and adding to yogurt.

I can only report on what I actually buy. I don't buy a lot of processed foods, so you won't see many of those.

The Cheapest Stores in My Area by Category

Cheapest Overall: Aldi

I can shop only at Aldi if I must. It's a small store, and about 1/3 of it is taken up with non-food items, so the selections are small.


  • Their produce is nice, and they usually have great sale prices on in-season produce. If you like packaged salad, they have a large section. I buy nearly all my produce there. The bad part is that you have to go early in their sale week (here sales start on Wednesday), because they only buy enough for the sale, and when it's gone, it's gone, so if you want fresh produce, go on the first two days of the sales period.
  • Their meat can be a little high, and they generally sell in big packs. Also, some of their meat is pre-packaged, such as steaks and some roasts, and those are more expensive. They often have good sales on meat, and the quality is good.
  • Dairy is o.k. The store brand Greek yogurt is good, but not a big selection of flavors. Butter and margarine are very cheap. Store brands are good quality.
  • Their cheese is very cheap, even the deli-style cheeses.
  • Frozen foods are relatively cheap, but most of what they have is large family style meals and such. There isn't a great selection of frozen bagged veggies or fruit. 
  • Nuts and baking goods are very cheap and of good quality. I loved their whole almonds with sea salt.
  • I don't buy bread there, because I don't eat a lot and it seems to mold faster, but if you eat a lot of bread, it's very cheap. 


Second Cheapest: Save-a-Lot

I shopped exclusively at Save-a-lot for years, but their quality has gone down on some things while their prices have gone up. They are a much larger store than Aldi and only sell groceries, so there is a much better selection.


  • Produce used to be the cheapest in town, but not anymore. They sometimes have great sales on produce in season, like a 10-lb bag of potatoes for $3-4. Their everyday prices are on par with Wal-Mart, which is not cheap at all anymore.
  • Meat is cheap, and they have great sales, but the quality on some things has gone down, so I no longer buy them there. For example, the large packs of pork chops are mostly what used to be sold as pork steaks, and aren't pork chops at all, just the very cheap end cuts. My favorite cheap meat to buy at SAL is chicken leg quarters. They have 10-lb bags for anywhere from $6.90 down to $2.90 sometimes on sale (at the time of this posting). They have good prices on pork neckbones, but their ham hocks are sort of high, and since they don't have butchers, you can't get a 4-pack cut into two. 
  • Their frozen food section is excellent, and their frozen bagged veggies are good quality. The stir-fry mix is great. 
  • Canned foods are a bit higher than Aldi, but better quality, and there is a better selection.
  • Dairy is not as good quality as Aldi, nor as cheap.
  • Rice and grains are cheaper there, and they have a pretty nice Hispanic food section.


Third Cheapest: Wal-Mart

I shop Wal-Mart for only a few items, mostly name-brand items that they have cheaper.


  • I never buy their meat, because it is shipped in frozen and it contains salt, which holds in the water and makes it weigh more. They do have good frozen seafood prices, but Aldi is about equal in that department.
  • I buy all my name-brand herbal teas there. They have the best prices I've found in town on those. 
  • I tried their Chobani yogurts, but they aren't the same quality as the same brand elsewhere. I supposed they are made just for Wal-Mart as most manufacturers do, with a lesser product for a lower price. Aldi's store brand greek yogurt is better.
  • Frozen fruits for smoothies are cheap and they have a good selection, including tropical fruits like mango and papaya. 
  • Frozen veggies are o.k. I like the frozen potato wedges and the breaded okra there.
  • Bread is cheap, but I don't like the texture of the store brand. 
  • Of course, all processed foods are cheaper, but they do carry a selection of natural brands in each department that are cheaper than at a natural food store.
  • That's about it for what I buy there.


Fourth Cheapest: Publix

I use the word "cheapest" carefully here, because Publix is all about quality over price. I don't buy much there, and usually only things on BOGO (buy one, get one free) or a great sale.
I like their fried chicken, and an 8-pack lasts me for several meals. Otherwise, I don't buy their meats because while they are prime quality, they also have a prime price. I do buy their frozen beef liver, because it's much cheaper and better quality than any other I've found in town.

Things I regularly buy on BOGO at Publix are: 

  • Ken's salad dressings (my favorites)
  • Frozen seafood (fish sticks, shrimp, etc.)
  • Pasta
  • Frozen pizza
  • Ice Cream
  • Mrs. Smith's frozen pies
  • Pepperidge Farm frozen cakes, cinnamon swirl bread
  • DelMonte or Green Giant canned vegetables
  • Spices
  • Herbal tea
  • Mt. Olive or Vlasic pickles


Stores that aren't cheap but have good sales or bulk food.

Earthfare - good bulk section, but expensive unless on sale. Sells bulk herbs and spices at reasonable prices. Often has great sales on organic produce in season. I buy my candied ginger there. I treat myself to their muffins, which are amazing.

Ward's Supermarket - a locally owned store with an amazing bulk foods section. Overall, they are mostly organic and health food and not cheap.

Lucky's - I've only been there a couple of times, but it seemed to have good sale prices. It's not close to me, so don't go there often.

Trader Joe's - I don't shop there because it's too "crunchy granola" for me and the prices aren't that great. Aldi is owned by the same people, and is the "real people's" version of TJ's.

Non Grocery Stores

Dollar General - I buy snack foods, milk, eggs, cleaning and paper products here. I don't buy as much there as I used to, because their prices have gone way up on a lot of things, and they are selling more name brand than store brand now.

Dollar Tree - Some of their frozen foods are good for when you want something quick and easy you can microwave. Some snack foods are cheaper, but you have to be careful. To me, it's mostly good for housewares over groceries.

I don't shop bulk stores like Costco or Sam's Club because I don't have a car and have no space to store bulk items.

So there you have it, my list of my favorite and cheapest stores in my city in Florida. Hope it helps someone.











Friday, November 9, 2018

Change or Die: Huge Life Changes I Must Make to Survive



I know it's been awhile, but I've been doing some serious thinking about what I want my life to be.

I said I was going to move into a two bedroom apartment, but that sort of fell through when I found out that the prices here have gone up DRASTICALLY on those. If I'm going to pay those prices, I need to have more than what is offered here.

Making a Clean Sweep

I've done nothing about decluttering. In fact, I've done nothing, period. I'm super depressed about my life, the state of our country and I've just been paralyzed on moving forward. But now I've made a drastic decision that I won't back down on.

I've decided to get rid of everything and start over. I'm going to devote myself full-time to stripping myself of 95% of my possessions. I want to start back at the beginning where I had nothing and was much happier. I want to go full-on minimalist and stop letting "things" control my life.

Making a Move

While I'm doing all that, I'll be making plans to move. I'm really sick to death of this part of town, where it's very, very hard to make friends or meet your neighbors. It will be more expensive somewhere else, which is why I need to get rid of so much. I'm thinking of having a roommate, maybe two, in an actual house with an actual yard. If I split rent three ways, I can afford it.

Making Money

So towards that goal, I'll have to find a way to make more money, so I'm going to be cranking up the blogs and buckling down to work on doing more affiliate marketing. Don't worry, I won't get obnoxious, but I would appreciate it is you would turn off your ad blockers on this and my gardening site. I won't have any annoying popups, popunders or things that follow you down the page and grey out what you want to read.

Making Myself Healthy

I've already started on a 16:8 intermittent fast, and I'll be starting an exercise program today. I've put this off for way too long, and it's time to get off my fat ass and do something about my health. It will be hard with everything else I have to do, but nothing worth having comes easy. I keep looking in the mirror at my lumpy body and ugly skin and hair and saying "This isn't me. What has happened to me?" It's never to late to be the best you can be.

Why Now?

I need to face the fact that I am soon going to lose my son forever. He's the only family I have, but he's been sucked into the Mormon cult. From everything I read about them, since I'm a pagan, he will soon not be allowed to have anything to do with me, so I need to set myself up to take care of myself in my old age. At 66, this will be hard, and right now, I have no idea how to do it, but I have to try. My only other alternative is to just give up enact my Smith and Wesson Retirement Plan, but I'm not ready to give up yet.

So hang on, it's going to be a wild ride! Hope you will join me.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

How I live Well on $1000 a Month - Part 2 - The Financials

In Part 1 of this topic, I talked about why I live like this and what I have and what i had to sacrifice to live on $1000 a month. In this post, I'm going to lay out the financials so you can see where my money goes.

Income


Social Security........................$  789/month
Work ......................................... 250/month
    TOTAL ...............................$1,039 
NOTE: I sometimes make slightly less than $250/month

Bills

Rent ............................................$590/month
Utilities ..........................................100/month (average)
Internet .........................................   51/month

Miscellaneous ................................  30-50/month
(includes toiletries, cleaning supplies, household essentials)

Prescriptions .................................$  7.00/month

     TOTAL.......................................$748 (approximate)

Difference .....................................$291

SAVINGS ...................................... $200

Difference ..................................... $ 91
  (Covers clothes, transportation, health supplements, etc. All extra is rolled over and spent on things such as gifts, household items and special treats for myself)

NOTE: Some months I cannot save $200 and have to spend my savings on emergencies, such as earlier this year when my computer died and I had to buy a new one.

Food

  • SNAP..........................................$156/month (presently - it changes depending on my earnings and expenses) 
  • USDA Food Distribution.............. 50/month (estimated - depends on what they have available)
  • Food Bank .................................. 10/month (estimated, depending on what you get)
I don't always get the USDA food distributions or food bank. If I'm dong o.k. that month, I usually don't get them, because they are mostly canned and processed foods, which I try not to eat. I do get them for stocking up for months when the SNAP runs out before the end of the month.

Food Savings Tips

I'm very frugal with my shopping. I shop at stores like Aldi, WalMart, and even pick up some cheap items from Dollar General and Dollar Tree. I buy some bulk foods, herbs and spices from Earthfare, which is expensive, but cheaper per oz. usually than buying them packaged.
  • I don't shop by a menu. I buy what's cheapest on sale, stock up, and build menus around what I have. I found this much cheaper in the long run.
  • I dehydrate or freeze fruit and veggies in season for later use. I don't have a lot of pantry space, so this helps me store more food.
  • I cook 95% of my own meals and make some of my own snacks (mostly baked goods) so I can use less sugar with no preservatives.
  • I don't eat a lot of meat, but when I do, I measure out servings per meal. For example, one large chicken breast is three normal servings, so a pack of 4 on sale is 12 servings.
  • I stretch my food dollars by making soups and stews. I make a 3 qt pot of vegetable soup, and stretch it several times by adding meat, rice or barley. When the veggies finally get too mushy, I blend it up with some cooked garbanzo beans and spices to make hummus.

By using this method, I can usually come out ahead with SNAP at the end of the month, and don't need the extra food bank food.

I'll be writing more on individual savings ideas for things like meat, etc. with recipes, so subscribe in the upper right sidebar to receive notification emails when they are posted.

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

How I Live Well on $1,000 USD a Month - Part 1

DISCLAIMER: I know this won't work for everyone in all areas of the country. I live in a college town in Florida, which has very reasonable rent prices.

I'm a senior citizen on Social Security who lives below the poverty level, which in 2018 was $1,012 a month or $12,144 a year. I've made some sacrifices to live this way, but it suits me. I hope some of you can learn something from how I live and apply it to your own lives.

Why I Live This Lifestyle


I have lupus and other health issues that make it impossible to work outside my home, because of so many physical limitations. The last job I had working full time was as a cashier, and I would come home in so much pain, that all I could do was take pain meds and lie on the bed waiting for them to kick in. Living like I do, I no longer have to take prescription pain meds.

When the recession hit, I lost my job, and being over 50, could not find another one. I lost everything -- my house, car, and over a period of 5 years, I had to sell or give away 75% of my possessions. I found work online, and after I began receiving Social Security checks, I decided that having less and living in a smaller place would allow me not to work as much.

What I Don't Have or Do


There are things that I had to give up to be able to live this way. I planned this way of life carefully to provide me with what I need, not necessarily what I want.

A Car - I had to sell my car in 2008 when it broke down and I could not afford to fix it. I've walked or used public transportation ever since. I moved to my current city because it had a better public transportation system. I moved to this neighborhood after 15 months because it's within walking distance to a large number of stores, and during hot or cold weather, I can take a bus to go shopping.
Extra Space - I live in an apartment with 531 sf of interior living floor space. It also has over 350 sf of outdoor living/gardening space. It's the smallest place I've ever lived, but it's comfortable enough. The only part I hate about it is the tiny kitchen, but I'm working on creating space in there. More on that in a later post.
Eat Out - I hardly ever eat out, mostly because I know I can fix the same food cheaper at home, and make it more to my taste. I sometimes do buy a sub or baked/fried chicken from the grocery store deli, but mostly, I eat at  home.
Cable TV - I actually don't have a TV at all. I use my computer for all my audio/video entertainment and I also read.
Travel - since I don't have a car, I can't really travel much. I used to love day trips, but I've found a few places around town on the bus lines that are free or extremely cheap that I love to visit. Our city also has a lot of free activities, like free museums and free concerts in the summer. I haven't yet seen all the wonderful free things available at the University here in town.  I am trying to save up to build a camper mini van, so I can see a bit more of the US, but that's another story.

What I Do Have


Despite having lost so much over a number of years, I have more than some people, and since I collected it over 40+ years, it's much higher quality than someone just starting out would have.

My apartment - It took me 15 months a and bit of luck ot find this apartment. Like I said before, it's small, but it has a beautiful enclosed courtyard and patio that I've turned into my own personal garden space. I also have a "yard" of sorts outside the apartment where I can garden, which is my passion.

My apartment has ceramic tile floors and ceiling fans throughout, central HVAC, a dishwasher, and washer/dryer connections which I don't use.  The best thing is that my rent is only $590 a month. It's gone up only $23 since I moved in 3 years ago. New tenants pay $640 a month, and it will take me 5 more years to get up to that amount, because they only increase your rent $10 a year, as a sort of reward for long-term residency. Management is great, and maintenance is fast and efficient.

Furnishings - I came here with very little furniture, but have been able to pick up quite a few nice pieces free online or by the dumpsters here for my house and garden. I will need to buy a couch sometime soon. I'll do a separate post on all my free furniture finds. I have all the functional and decorative items one could ever want.

My kitchen is completely outfitted, and what I don't have, I can pick up at the nearby Goodwill very cheaply. I just got a 2 qt. Crock Pot, a $50 dehydrator, a toaster, and a nice blender for under $20 total.

Cable Internet - I've had to downgrade from a higher speed to a 10mbps speed due to price hikes, but it works perfectly fine and for something I use for work and most of my entertainment, $44 a month isn't bad. I can deduct part of that on my taxes since I work online.

Proximity to Shopping - We have a huge shopping center a mile from my house that is a mile long and a half mile deep. It has every grocery store you could ever need: Aldi, Trader Joe's, Publix, plus a super WalMart and Sam's Club. It even has a Lowe's. There is absolutely no type of store or restaurant you can't find in this shopping area. During cool weather in the fall and winter, I usually walk there, but it's only 10 minutes away by bus. There is a Goodwill 2 blocks away, and I do a lot of shopping there. The Earthfare is 1/2 mile away, and I get most of my bulk foods, herbs and spices there.

Discounted Bus Fares - Since I'm over 65, I get half-price on most bus fares. A day pass (with transfers) is still $3, but one-way passes are only .75 and monthly passes are $17.50. There are some places it's hard to get to by bus, but they're improving the system every year, adding routes and stops, so if there isn't a bus that goes there this year, there probably will be soon. I have bus stops a block from my house.

Social Services - I get SNAP and Medicare/Medicaid, which includes a drug program with $3.50 generic prescriptions. I use the University medical system for most of my care, but I also have a private GP. My dental care comes through a local ministry that has a dental clinic that does cleanings, fillings, extractions and false teeth. The university dental clinic does everything else for 1/2 the normal market price.

In addition to SNAP, I also avail myself of two USDA food distributions a month, and one food bank pickup a month.

I don't feel guilty about taking help from social services, because I worked my tail off for 40+ years and paid into the system. Now that I'm unable to work full time, I feel extremely lucky to be able to get the benefits I need.

See Part 2 of this post for The Financials



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Friday, September 28, 2018

Stopped decluttering, decided to move to a 2 bedroom apartment



I've been through most of my boxes now, and there is no way I can fit all that I want to keep into this 520 sf apartment and have room for my crafts and hobbies. I've made a decision that I simply must have more space, so I'm going to move into a 2-BR apartment in our sister complex. It's not quite as nice as this complex, but it's cheaper.

Of course, I can't have all my gardens over there, so they will have to go, but I'm about sick of gardening anyway. I didn't have room to garden for years, so I went a little overboard in here, and discovered I'd really be happy with just a few potted plants. The new apartment will have a courtyard, but the water is included in the rent, so I won't be able to use as much as I have here.

I'm looking at this like the next step in finding happiness. I thought I would be happy in a smaller space, but I'm not. I really just need room to spread out and not be paying for space I'm not using.

It will take me awhile to get enough money to move, and I'll also have to wait until the right apartment in the right place in that complex comes open, but I'm ready to move on from here.

Stay tuned for more of my journey!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Decluttering: Reclaiming My Bedroom


I used to live in a 1300 sf 3/2/1 house. When I moved, I took a 23 foot long truck full to the brim. I moved to a 2 BR apartment, and never unpacked most of what I took with me, sold a lot of the furniture and left some boxes of things I no longer wanted behind. I moved 4 times in the next five years, I moved five times, and each time, I didn't unpack most of my stuff, and ended up selling or leaving a lot of it behind.

I now have about 1/3 of what I owned when I left my original house, and it's still too much. I live in an adorable 520 sf 1 BR apartment with just enough space to garden. I've been here over three years and my bedroom is stacked with so many boxes and so much furniture that I can't use it as a bedroom.

Fear and Procrastination

The first year I was here, I didn't unpack because I was afraid I was going to have to move again. The second year was the same. I always had that fear that I would have to move, so I kept the boxes unpacked except for a few decorative items and things I needed to live. I have no excuse for the third year, except laziness.

Now, in year four, I've finally decided to get rid of all this crap and live like a normal person, but it's harder than I thought it would be.

Things I Can't Live Without

As I moved from place to place, I rid myself of all the things I could live without. What was left was things I thought I could not live without. I had this grand plan when I moved here to create storage space by going "up" so I wouldn't have to get rid of anything. The problem with that is, there is no room to go "up" in the ways I need to, so I'm stuck.

As I go through boxes, I discover there are many things I can actually do without, but I have this overwhelming urge to sell most of it. My mind keeps telling me that it's too much trouble, and I should just donate it all and take the time saved by not having to take pictures and put it all online to make probably more money than i would have made by selling it. Unfortunately, the part of my brain that is ashamed of having wasted all this money on things I shouldn't have bought and never really needed isn't allowing me to just give them away.

But there are things I can't live without, mostly sentimental things, so I have a lot of "keep" boxes as well. So far, the "keep" and "sell" boxes far outnumber the "donate" boxes. I think I'm just going to have to get really tough with myself and let go of some of the "sell" stuff.

Double Decluttering

The plan is to go back through all the "keep" boxes and find more I can part with. I'm seriously thinking of getting a storage space for the keep boxes until I can get the house set up to hold what's in them. I need shelving and such, and I can't even get that sort of stuff into the room right now.

I know that you're not supposed to go back through boxes, and I'm not doing it with things that I'm donating or selling, but I'm sure I probably decided to keep things on the spur of the moment that I don't actually need, so I can further pare down my possessions.

The plan is to have this all done by the end of the year, but that may be overly optimistic. I'll do the best I can, though. I'm ready to pare my life down to just what I will use or things that my heart cannot bear to part with.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

I've Decided Full-Time Van Dwelling Is Not For me


Sorry it's been so long since I've posted, but I've been taking the time to really think about what I want and how I want to live.

When I first heard about van dwelling, it seemed so romantic, so freeing, and it would afford me the chance to see and do things I could never otherwise see or do.

Then I read more. It's a very, very hard way to live. Your van is pretty much a metal tent, and you're pretty much just camping. You get really hot and really cold, both of which I hate. You are at the mercy of venomous snakes, coyotes, wolves, bears and bad people who want to hurt you. You can't eat or cook what you want, or take a daily shower, or even get WiFi a lot of the time.

The more I read, the more I decided that isn't freedom. That's torturing yourself to be part of the "in" crowd that is trying to convince you it's amazing when it isn't.

Now, I'm not speaking against people who have no choice -- who have lost their homes, or simply cannot afford to live any other way. I've been so close to being homeless a couple of times, and I've lived in some much less-than-desirable situations just to have a roof over my head. But I've never slept on the streets or lived in a tent, and a van is really just a metal tent with wheels, isn't it?

I simply cannot live that way 24/7/365. I promised myself long ago I'd never live without heat and air, and still, I've lived in places where I was trapped in one room because that's the one that was cool or warm enough to be in. I can't imagine not having even that small a haven away from the heat and cold.

Then there is the fear of breakdowns. I'm old and I don't want to break down somewhere with no cell signal and no money to get huge repairs done. I'm also afraid of being robbed or attacked. Yes, I could stay in cities mostly, but that doesn't eliminate any of those things.

So I've decided not to be a permanent van dweller. I'm going to get a van and fix it up so I can put it into camping mode so I can take a few trips here and there, but I'm not going to live in it. I do want to get out of here in the summer sometimes, so I may go visit my son in Washington State for awhile when it's hot.

I've always loved doing trash-to-treasure, getting curbside finds and fixing them up to sell or use, so the rest of the time, I'll be doing that with the van, plus of course, regular stuff like grocery shopping, etc. I'm planning also to get back into the gardening community, since I'll have a way to get around to events and meetings.

So that's that. I'll get the van, build it out so that I can easily convert it from a personal vehicle to a camper, and use it accordingly. Yes, I'll still have all those problems when I'm traveling in it, but you can put up with things temporarily that you could never endure forever.






Wednesday, August 15, 2018

It's Time to Get Serious About My Diet


Richard Simmons used to say "The first word in diet is 'die'."  That's pretty much how I've always felt. Still, as I get older and get more health issues, my weight gets harder to control. I'm at 170 right now -- well, 169.7, but close enough. That is a BMI of 28.3 - 1.7 points away from obesity.

The worst thing is that some of my health issues are caused by my weight and my poor diet. For example, I have GERD and a hiatal hernia. My Dr. minced no words telling me if I lost my belly fat, I wouldn't have either.

I've never been able to stick to a diet, or counting calories, or to tracking what I eat. It's all just too tedious. But when I was, I found that the three things that added the most calories were bread, sugar, and dairy.

If you knew how much I love butter and sweets, you'd know how difficult giving them up is going to be for me. I never ate much bread, but after reading about "wheat belly," I've decided to not only give up bread, but give up everything containing wheat. I can still eat other grains, but wheat is out.

What I Will Eat, Which Some People Will Disagree With

Of course, I'll eat a lot of fruits and veggies, but less fruit than I eat now. I could literally live off of fruit, and that's mosty because of the sugar in it. I'm addicted to sugar, and while fructose is a good sugar, it's still sugar.

I don't like many leafy greens, and the ones I do, I usually eat cooked with tons of butter and seasoning such as ham hocks. Not healthy. So instead of cooking greens in the normal way, I'll eat them chopped up fine in salads. I do love chopped salad, and that's a great way to get my five fruits and veggies every day.

I'm not giving up meat. I mostly eat chicken, but occasionally eat beef or pork. I'm not too crazy about fish, but I do love seafood, especially shrimp. The difference is that I love all seafood breaded and fried, and since I'm giving up wheat, no more breading for me. I've tried alternative flours for breading, and it just doesn't taste the same.

The Hardest Thing to Give Up After Sugar

Dairy will be extremely hard to give up, because I love cheese and butter. I just bought a toaster, too. I'm going to have to experiment with different nut spreads and such, maybe I'll get into avocado toast. Yummy!

I like almond and rice milks, in fact, I had been thinking about making my own rice milk, since it's cheap, easy and much creamier than store-bought.

No Artificial Stuff

Giving up sugar will be extremely hard, but I'm determined not to use artificial sweeteners. Stevia isn't the greatest sweetener in my opinion, but it's better than having unsweetened tea.

I'll also be trying extremely hard not to eat processed foods. Sometimes, that's not possible, so I'll be reading labels very carefully for hidden sugars and the worst of the artificial ingredients.

The Cost of Healthy Eating

Healthy food isn't cheap. Eating a mostly plant-based diet means you have to eat more, and quality fresh fruits and veggies can be a little costly. I won't be able to afford to go organic, but I'm going to try to make a lot of my own food from scratch. I know how, I just don't. Now I won't have a choice.

Healthy eating is going to cost me more in terms of time than money, because of prep time, but also because I'm going to try to grow some of my own food. I can grow food 12 months a year here in Florida, but my yard doesn't have much sun, so I'm limited in what I can actually grow. I've been experimenting, and I know I can grow a lot more than I thought I could. I can grow greens and root vegetables very well, plus some tropical vegetables and edible ornamentals. Beans have also done well in certain parts of the garden. If I can supplement my food budget by at least growing 25% of what I eat, that will be a big plus for me.

I'll be posting more about my new healthy eating lifestyle, and I'll have a category for it over on the sidebar so you can stay up to date.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Motivation to Exercise Sometimes Comes in the Strangest Forms



I fell on my concrete patio yesterday. I had gone out to change the water in the hummingbird feeder and somehow zigged when I should have zagged and fell hard on my right knee.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Healing Power of Withdrawal From the World



Summer is hard for me. I suffer from summer SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) for the very reasons most people suffer from winter SAD -- I'm uncomfortable, I can't get outside, and my life becomes very restricted, so I get depressed and go into what I call my

Monday, August 6, 2018

Changing Your Life 10 Minutes at a Time



My son and I were talking the other day about getting things done, and I told him I feel overwhelmed by all I need to do, so I procrastinate. He said "Do something for ten minutes. You can do anything for 10 minutes."

This stuck with me, because I had heard it somewhere before. Seems that Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of Ikea, said it. Sadly, he died in January of this year, so he won't

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Slowing Down to Save My Health and Peace of Mind



I've been stressing myself out too much over my one-year timeline for hitting the road in a van. I've also been questioning whether full-time van life is really for me, as I've posted here earlier. After much serious thought, I've decided to keep the goal, but change the

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Getting in Shape for My Journey: Joining a Gym



One of my goals in the next year is to lose 40 pounds and get into shape. So far, I've done nothing toward that goal. I keep promising myself that I will work out, in fact, I go to bed every night saying

Friday, July 20, 2018

Indecision On My Life’s Path: Am I Lazy or Just Afraid?




As most of you know, I want to live in a van — sort of. What I really want is to travel, see the US and a bit of Mexico and Canada. I want to visit as many botanical gardens as I can find and post about them on a blog.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Kitchen Declutter and Reorganization Continues

I have this exact same quote, border and all, on a magnetic card on my refrigerator. I'm always complaining about not having enough kitchen counter space, so the universe fixed that for me

Saturday, July 14, 2018

How Hoarders Think and Why Decluttering Is So Hard For Us


A few months ago, I had a kitchen fire in my apartment. At the time, the washer/dryer closet, which I use as a pantry and general hidden hoarding place, couldn't be painted because it was full of

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Vandwelling Finance: Making Money While You Sleep


For the next year, I'll be trying to learn to make money while I sleep. There are so many ways to make money online, but there are three that I'm most interested in, and all have potential to make

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Day 10 - Fears and Second Thoughts


As with all my large dreams and plans, I'm starting to second guess myself and become afraid. What am I giving up that I may never have again? What will I do with all the things I can't bear to

Monday, July 9, 2018

Recap of the First Week - Disappointing, But Not Discouraged


I went through a period of depression last week, that I allowed to keep me from meeting my goals, small as they were. I was disappointed in some work I had hoped would bring in good money, but it didn't turn out that way. I also was pretty unmotivated and couldn't

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Day 4: Independence Day



Not much to say. No celebration here. Our country is in distress, and everyone in the world knows it. One reason I want to travel as a van dweller is to see this country before

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Day 3 - Change the Plan, but Never the Goal

Making life changes is a journey, not a race. Even if you start out with the perfect plan, something will interfere with it. It is inevitable. You won't always be able to stick to your schedule, you won't meet

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Day 1 Just Happened to Fall On My Day Off, But....

I always take Sundays off. I've done this for a long, long time, ever since my kids were old enough to get themselves breakfast. I don't always do nothing, but I do what I want. Sometimes, I work in the

My New Facebook Page


So I started a new page for the blog on Facebook, for those of you who are members and would like to follow me there. I need 25 likes to be able to create the username @simplydeb, so I'd

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Day Zero of My New Life



Tomorrow is July 1, 2018, the day I start to change myself and my life forever. I've spent weeks thinking and planning how I'm going to do that, and the only way I could see was to change  the things I