Food

Photo by Taz

For a family that is trying to live a greener lifestyle, food waste is just one of many things that you try to reduce as much as possible. If you like to be frugal too, buying in bulk can be kinder on your wallet in the long term but does risk more food being wasted. This is where your freezer comes in: It is an extremely useful and underrated tool found in every home, that can provide so many ways to cut down on both costs and food waste.

Here are a few tips for making the most of it:

Freeze fresh herbs

You can put many fresh herbs straight in the freezer, including coriander (cilantro), mint, chives and parsley. Freezing them means they won’t go dry and brittle, and you can just crumble them into dishes or cocktails whenever you need to. You can even chop them and put the bits into ice cube trays with a little water for smaller flavor hits in cooking or drinks.

Preserve your spices

Many supermarkets sell pre-chopped and frozen spices like chili, garlic, and ginger. You can do the same at home. Just finely chop into typical portions (eg. 1 tsp chili), put into bags and sprinkle during cooking as your recipes require. This saves a lot of time because you won’t have to finely chop them later, and it also prevents the dreaded pepper fingers + eye combo!

Portion your meat

Buying meat in bulk can save a lot of money. Separating it into portions before putting in the freezer makes it last much longer and also prevents trying to portion it up as a solid block when you need it. You can also make a large number of meals in advance and separate into portions to freeze and be microwaved later, which makes for a super quick dinner or lunch.

Think outside the box with ice trays

These can be used in so many ways to save time when cooking in the future. If you’ve made homemade chicken/vegetable/beef stock, trays are the perfect way to portion these into little cubes for easy portioning into recipes, and garlic butter can be made in advance to make homemade garlic bread or melted on top of steaks. You can even use them to make bite size desserts.

The idea is that freezing allows you to buy in bulk and prepare in advance, which saves you both time and money in the long run.

Written by Laura at Shiply

Source: wikimedia.org

Many people believe that becoming vegan is not just a health choice, but an environmental one, as well. But choosing to give up entire food groups is a radical, though progressive, decision. It is also becoming more and more popular as people embrace vegetarianism and often move into veganism.  There are many reasons to turn away from meat toward plant-based protein. When we consider how much space has to be cleared to create grazing area for 99 cent cheeseburger cattle, or how much bad fats and cholesterol are in the meat we are consuming, it is not hard to imagine why it’s a good idea to make more informed food choices.

Well-known people from all walks of life have made the switch and never returned to a life of eating meat and its by-products. They often claim to feel better and have higher energy levels than ever. Here are a few of folks who have said “goodbye animals – hello plants.”

Carl Lewis

Source: wikimedia.org

Olympic track and field star Carl Lewis is one of the most outspoken vegetarian or vegan athletes. After switching to a vegan diet, he went on to win 10 Olympic medals and 10 World Championship medals over the course of his career.  He believes that meat is unnecessary for the body and if you “nourish your body properly, it will be good to you and you will increase its longevity.”

James Cameron

Source: wikimedia.org

Academy Award winning director James Cameron made the choice to go vegan in 2011.  Cameron directed the two highest grossing films ever produced and, after doing the research, discovered that the highest percentage of centenarians all eat primarily plant-based diets. Cameron stands by his decision that veganism will make anyone live longer and be healthier.

Steve Wynn

Source: flickr.com

Casino mogul of both Las Vegas and Macau Steve Wynn was introduced to the vegan lifestyle in 2010 when fellow billionaire and good friend Gulu Lalvani introduced him to the healthier way of life on his yacht in St. Tropez.  Upon returning to Las Vegas, Wynn ordered 10,000 copies of the DVD “Eating” and gave them to all his employees.  He brought in celebrity vegan chef Tal Ronnen to add vegan menus to all of Wynn’s restaurants.  Together they hosted Viva Las Vegan, a vegan tasting and discussion forum. Wynn continues to promote veganism throughout the gambling world.

Daniel Negreanu

Source: youtube.com

This is great news for Daniel Negreanu, the highest earning tournament poker player of all time. Negreanu has played and won in the World Series of Poker for more than 15 years and was one of the youngest ever to win a WSOP bracelet in 1998. Negreanu chose to go vegetarian in 2000 for health reasons and became a vegan in 2006, claiming the change made him sharper than ever.  Negreanu is a huge supporter of animal rights and believes changing to a vegan diet is not just about your health, but also the environment.

Tony Gonzalez

Source: wikimedia.org

It may not come as a surprise that many professional athletes are also outspoken vegans.  It may be hard to believe that hard core players can perform on plant-based caloric intake alone, but some do and are definite peak performers.  Tony Gonzalez, tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons before that, is vegetarian. Robert Parish, who has the longest running NBA career ever is vegetarian. Both agree that turning red meat into energy is far harder on the body and they prove that you can get enough healthy calories from non-meat sources to maintain positions at the top of their fields.

Source: wikimedia.org

Abdul Kalam, former scientist and president of India, known for his work in missile technology and the space program, was a lifelong vegan.  Both former President Clinton and Vice President Gore have both adopted a vegan lifestyle.  The former for health reasons and the latter for his environmental concerns. 

A wide variety of scientists, physicians, religious leaders and rock stars all have left meats and processed foods behind in favor of nature-grown plant foods. They all believe this way of life will return health and longevity to people and reinvigorate the planet.

Of course, there is more to going vegan than just avoiding meat. Vegetarianism and veganism will not work for everyone or every lifestyle, but it is a choice to consider if your health and finances will allow it.

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyWayToVeg #CollectiveBias

It is no secret that I am lazy in the kitchen. If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, this is something I talk about regularly. I just don’t have the inclination to spend a lot of time in the kitchen creating new, fun recipes. I don’t have the time (or the desire) to make everything from scratch. So what do I do? I cook them same stuff over and over again. And I look for healthy convenience foods.

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MorningStar Farms is among the brands that I regularly buy when I want something quick, convenient and delicious. Even though we’re not vegetarian, we buy their grillers and other veggie cuisine all the time because they taste great and the whole family enjoys them. Plus, I can give them to the kids without feeling guilty that I’m sacrificing their health. So when I learned that they released a new line of veggie bowls in a variety of flavors, I couldn’t wait to try them.

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There are 5 different varieties of Chik’n Pot Pie, Chik’n Tikka Masala, Italian Sausage Bake, Japanese Soba Noodles and Moroccan Medley. To start, we bought the Japanese Soba Noodles and Moroccan Medley. All of the bowls are really easy to prepare. Simply follow the instructions on the packaging for the amount of time each item needs to be heated.

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Both options smelled amazing once they started heating. So good that my daughter came into the kitchen to see what I was cooking. They are fragrant and smell delicious. Plus, they’re ready in about 5 minutes.

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Preparing food in the microwave can be hit or miss. Sometimes, it comes out hard or rubbery. In this case, both recipes were perfectly heated and the meat substitutes were tender and flavorful. If I had any complaint, it is the serving size. The serving is relatively small, so it would work well as lunch, a small dinner or the perfect size for a child. I’m just thrilled that I can have a quick, flavorful, healthy meal in around 5 minutes with very little effort.

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Aside from the fact that they are vegan, MorningStar Farms veggie bowls are just like any other type of food we eat, and I know that we’re going to be looking for them at the grocery store from now on.

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Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BetterWithCraisins #CollectiveBias

.The weather in Georgia is finally starting to get cool enough to really call say fall has arrived — at least during the mornings and evenings. For me, this transition means a couple of things: I can pull out my warm sweaters and boots, I can turn off the air conditioning in the house for most of the day, and I can start enjoying fall flavors. Ocean Spray® Craisins® Dried Cranberries are among my families favorite ways to indulge in a taste that just feels like fall.

And this recipe created with Craisins® Dried Cranberries in mind, is a great, light way to enjoy that flavor.

Cranberry Apple Salad with a Crunch

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw spinach or other greens
  • 1/8 cup Grape Nuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup diced apples

Makes a single serving. Multiply as necessary to serve more than one person.

Instructions

I admit I am not a huge salad eater. I should put greens on my plate more often, but what can I say? I am particular about flavors, and not many salads really satisfy my palate. This one, however, is one of my all-time favorites.

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For the salad base, you’ll need two cups of raw spinach or your favorite greens. I try to buy my spinach organic whenever I can.

The star of this show is the cranberries. They provide the subtle zing that will make you want to eat this every day, and they’re a guilt-free way to enjoy a snack that feels decadent, but is really healthy. But my other favorite part of this salad is the subtle crunch provided by the Grape Nuts. Simply toss the dried cranberries and Grape Nuts together with the spinach.

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For the final flavor punch, add the diced apples. Top with the salad dressing of your choice, though I’d recommend something light, like vinaigrette or simple oil and vinegar.

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Take one bite of this salad with everything on your fork, and you’ll see why I love it so much. The combination of flavors and textures is amazing, and the memory of the cranberries will stay with you all day. Plus, there’s the fact that just 1/4 cup of Craisins® Dried Cranberries actually provides you with 1/2 cup of fruit, and that’s all the more reason to indulge.

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If you’re used to buying Craisins® Dried Cranberries at your local Sam’s Club, you may have noticed they’ve disappeared from the shelves. Not to worry. You can still find them at other stores. I found mine at Walmart on rollback for just $4.98 for a 24oz package!

Looking for more ideas for using dried cranberries? Click here for recipe ideas and to find a store near you.

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Disclosure: Balance Bar has provided me to with product to facilitate this review, along with compensation for my time and effort in creating this content. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Anyone who knows anything at all about me knows I have a sweet tooth. It’s my vice. Even a few years ago when I was on my weight loss journey and meticulously counting calories every day, I always left room for a sweet treat a couple days a week. That treat? Usually cookies or something else that would definitely qualify as not so healthy. Even though I was always careful not to overdo it, there was still a level of guilt about eating “bad” snacks instead of something healthier.

Today, I am focused a lot less on my weight, and a lot more on general healthy living and moderation. Which means that though I sometimes journal my meals, I’m not on a strict calorie count. I just watch what I eat and try to move my body. And my sweet tooth is just a strong as ever. So when Balance Bar reached out to me about trying their newest protein bars, meant specifically to curb those sweet cravings, I couldn’t wait try them.

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Because I’m going to be real with you — when I want a cookie, I have a cookie. I’ve never been great at depriving myself, because I don’t enjoy the idea of a “diet.” I just want to be mindful of what I put in my body and still be able to enjoy the treats I love once in a while. The challenge is that “once in a while” tends to turn into “every day” over time. And I knew I needed to dial back.

What Balance Bar has done is change the way I think about snacking. Now, when I want something sweet, I reach for one, and I can feel good about the fact that though they taste amazing, they are also providing my body with nutrition I’d never get from a cookie. They are formulated to have a balance of carbohydrates, protein and dietary fat that feels indulgent and filling, so I don’t feel the need to keep snacking.

This is helpful when I’m at home working or chasing my little one around because I don’t have to think about what I’ll eat to keep me fueled. (Plus, Juliza likes a little something sweet too. What can I say? She’s her mother’s child.) They’re also great to throw in my purse on my way out the door so I’m not tempted to stop at the drive thru for some french fries or anything else I’d be better off leaving alone. Balance Bar is a snack I can enjoy without thinking about it. It’s a snack I can crave freely.

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And with my oldest daughter home for the summer and wanting to snack all the time, they’ve become a go-to for her as well. They are the perfect snack for her to throw in her bag for quick refueling during gymnastics practice or to keep her satisfied between meals.

Now let’s talk about those flavors. Look. They are an amazing incentive to choose a healthier snack option. I tried Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat, Chocolate Peppermint Patty, Dark Chocolate Pecan Turtle and Dulce De Leche & Caramel. And when I tell you they are all scrumptious? I am so serious. I am picky about tastes and textures when it comes to new foods, so I went into this a little skeptical that I’d be able to make myself eat them all. I truly needn’t have been worried. They are all sweet and decadent and so delicious that I don’t even have time to think about the texture. My absolute favorite is Dark Chocolate Pecan Turtle.

And the awesome thing is that there are a bunch of other flavor options you can try if none of these tickles your fancy. Head to your local Walmart store or Amazon to try them for yourselves.

They’ve become the go-to snack for my family this summer, and I’m thankful that I have them without guilt.

Giveaway

Want to try Balance Bars for yourself? Win a box of Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat mini bars.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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My daughter loves Valentine’s Day. She loves decorating a “mailbox” to collect cards from her classmates, and she loves all the candy. What can I say? She’s a kid. Plus she has a mother with a notorious sweet tooth.

This year, Walmart challenged me to share Valentine’s Day party ideas, and I decided to surprise my girls with some homemade treats. Put these three easy DIY snacks together with affordable ingredients and Valentine’s decor from Walmart, and you’ve got an instant party.

Treat 1: Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallows

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Ingredients

  • Bag of strawberry marshmallows (though white would work too)
  • 4-8 oz. chocolate for melting
  • Sprinkles
  • Popsicle sticks

Directions

My daughter brought home a chocolate covered marshmallow that a friend gave her as a gift, and I wanted to try my hand at making them myself. Turns out it’s really easy.

Push a popsicle or lollipop stick through one end of each marshmallow. It doesn’t have to go all the way through, but I suggest trying to push it at least halfway so it doesn’t fall out.

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Melt your chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. You’ll need 4 to 8 ounces, depending on how many marshmallows you plan to make.

Dip half of each marshmallow in the melted chocolate, and let the excess chocolate drip off. Coat the chocolate with sprinkles.

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Place the marshmallows, stick side down, in a glass or mug to let the chocolate solidify. If you want to speed up the process, you can put them in the freezer for a few minutes or the fridge for 30-60 minutes.

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Once the chocolate has set, they’re good to go!

Treat 2: Pretzel Wands

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Ingredients

  • Pretzel sticks
  • 4-8 oz. white chocolate for melting
  • Sprinkles

Directions

If you have never had chocolate-covered pretzels, you need to make these right away! The combination of sweet and salty flavors together is magical. I had these at my niece’s birthday party last year, and I’ve been wanting to make them ever since.

Melt your chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler.

Dip each pretzel stick into the melted chocolate about 1/2 to 3/4 of the length, and let the excess chocolate drip off.

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You can then decorate the wands however you’d like. We used sprinkles, but you could use a different type of hard candy or something else entirely. Maybe you could drizzle dark chocolate in a pattern.

Anyway, once decorated, place them, chocolate side up, in a glass or mug to let the chocolate solidify. You can speed up the process by putting them in the freezer or fridge, like the marshmallows.

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These are SO good! And your kids will have too much fun spreading Valentine’s day magic with their wands.

Treat 3: Strawberry Roses

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Ingredients

  • Fresh, whole strawberries
  • Paring knife
  • Toothpicks or lollipop sticks
  • Optional: Whipped cream

Directions

After all that sugar, I wanted to give them something a bit healthier. This is the easiest of the three snacks, but the result is so pretty! I found this idea at Spend with Pennies and I had to try it!

Wash and dry your strawberries. Insert a toothpick or lollipop stick in the stem end of each strawberry.

Starting from the bottom (nearest the leaves), make small slices slightly angled towards the center of the strawberry, but be sure not to cut all the way through.

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This will create the rose “petals”. Use the knife to bend each piece out toward you slightly, which will create a layered effect. Turn and continue making slices. You’ll probably be able to do 5 or 6 on the bottom row.

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Move up the strawberry, continuing to cut. For each row of petals, cut between the petals you have already cut. The closer you get to the top, the thinner you’ll want to cut, so the petals will “curl”.

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That’s it! Serve right away for best results 🙂

These treats are a great start to a Valentine’s Day party, and you can find affordable themed plates, cups and other tableware at Walmart to complete the fun.

More Valentine’s Day Party Ideas

Check out these ideas from other Walmart Moms.

Simple decorating ideas from Renee at Cutie Booty Cakes

Gorgeous Valentine’s Day tablescape from Liz at Hoosier Homemade

Affordable decorating tips from Linsey at Lille Punkin

Tissue paper pom tutorial from Tara at Unsophisticook

Making the most of your party on a budget, from Heather at The Domestic Diva

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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If I’m honest, my husband is really the only football fan in the house. I’ll oblige him and watch games with him, but the only game I’ll really watch with any level of interest is the Super Bowl. One of the ways we enjoy the game is by having a bunch of finger foods on hand so we can snack to our heart’s content. So when Walmart asked me to share a recipe in honor the big game, sharing this one was a no-brainer.

I discovered this recipe a few years back, and trust me when I tell you it does not disappoint. These wings are crazy addictive — hence the name. And I added my own twist with just a little curry powder to boost the flavor factor.

I headed to Walmart to pick up all my ingredients at affordable prices. Assuming you don’t have any of the ingredients on hand at all, you’ll spend about $25 total. But since you probably have many of them in your pantry already, it will likely cost considerably less than that.

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Ingredients

  • 4 pounds chicken wing sections
  • 1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup butter

Directions

Pre-season the wing sections with 1 tablespoon of the curry powder and a light dusting of your favorite seasonings to taste. I am partial to Goya Adobo and Badia all purpose seasonings. You don’t need a lot, because the “breading” will be packed with flavor. This is just to make sure the chicken under the coating is still well-seasoned.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the Parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, paprika, the remaining tablespoon of curry powder, salt and pepper in a bowl.

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Melt the butter in the microwave or a small pan. Line a shallow baking pan with foil. Trust me on this step. It will save you lots of scrubbing later.

Dip each wing section in butter, then roll it in the cheese and seasoning mixture. Arrange them in the foil-lined pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need more than 1 for this amount of chicken.

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Bake for 1 hour, and prepare to lick your fingers in delight!

It’s hard to take a photo that really does these wings justice. But when I tell you that these will go fast, I mean it. They are SO good!

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They’re the best non-fried wings you’ll probably ever have. So you’re welcome 🙂

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Over the past few years, I’ve become mildly obsessed with cranberries. Whole, jellied, juiced — all of it. The flavor just makes me happy, and I’ve managed to get the rest of my family on board. So when Walmart shared their Holiday Entertaining Guide with me, I was so happy to find a cranberry-based recipe to try. And this is now officially my favorite holiday drink.

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Seriously, head to Walmart right now for these ingredients. You won’t be disappointed. And if you want to add a little heat, there’s a cocktail recipe too, alcohol included.

Cranberry Fizz Mocktail

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Ingredients

3 ounces sparkling cider or ginger ale
3 ounces cranberry juice
1 lemon or lime
Sugar & Cinnamon Mix (blend completely):
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

Rub a lemon or lime around the rim of your glass and then dip into the sugar/cinnamon mix.

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Fill the glass with ice, and add the cranberry juice.

Add a splash of fresh juice of lemon or lime. Top off with sparkling cider or ginger ale.

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Bonus Tip

For a festive garnish, skewer some cranberries and freeze them overnight. Place a skewer in the drink for an extra splash of color and to help keep the drink cold.

Trust me when I say that the cinnamon/sugar mixture around the edge of the cup is where the magic happens. You can make it without ice, as I did, but don’t skip the cinnamon. The flavors together (and the look of the sugar around the rim) feel like you’re drinking something really sinful, even though it was safe to share with my oldest daughter.

Thank me later 🙂 And Merry Christmas!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.