three tip thursday [10].

by Janetha on July 12, 2012

in guest posts,tips

hey, guys! hope your week is going great! i can’t believe it’s already thursday. i have been really busy both at work (turns out prepping to go on vacation is a lot of extra work) and in my personal life. luckily i have a special guest lined up for you today.  i am going to turn the time over to my dear friend, lauren, for three tip thursday!

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Happy Thursday friends! I’m Lauren from Oatmeal after Spinning, and I’m thrilled to be back here posting on Janetha’s blog. I’ve been a meals & moves reader for a quite some time, and finally got to meet Janetha in person at Blend back in May!

Janetha asked me to come up with three tips months ago, but I’ve been a big slacker (or maybe I just had so many good tips that I couldn’t narrow them down…?). But, I finally got down to it and rounded up three things that I wanted to share.

Here goes!

TIP #1: Buy in bulk

While I’m not a big fan of shopping at Costco, I am a big fan of buying in bulk at the grocery store. Let me clarify a little more- I’m a big fan of shopping at the bulk bins. I could spend all day at the bulk bins section at my local organic market just looking through all of the offerings and filling up little bags. This is really great for two reasons:

  • #1: It’s cheaper to buy in bulk
  • #2: You only have to buy what you need!

The items I buy in bulk the most are grains, legumes and spices. If I need an ingredient or spice/herb that I know I won’t use very often, I don’t really want to buy an entire package of it. If I can find it in the bulk bins, I can easily just buy a little bit and not have a bunch of extra stuff taking up room in my fridge.

Here’s a little peek inside my pantry:

Two things that I re-stock the most often are organic black beans and garbanzo beans.

Here’s a few facts: my grocery store each for around $1.69/lb. (and sometimes as low as $.99/lb. when they’re on sale). One pound of dried beans equals about 6 cups when cooked. One can of organic black or garbanzo beans contains 1 3/4 c. of beans and sells for about $1.99. If I buy the beans in bulk, I can get about 7 cups for the same price as 1 3/4 c. of canned beans… it’s a no-brainer! Re-hydrating and cooking beans is super easy. I generally measure out what I want to cook the night before (which is also nice, because I only make what I need and don’t have a bunch leftover) and place it in a mason jar with water.

Beans will triple in size when cooked (so if you measure out 1/4 cup of dried beans, you will end up 3/4 cooked beans).

Here’s a comparison on 10 dried garbanzo beans next to 10 that have been hydrated and boiled!

I tend to spend way too money much on groceries, but little changes like this can really add up and save money. …which leads me to tip #2.

TIP #2: If you can make it yourself- do it!

Just like “making” your own cooked beans- look at some of the foods that you consume most often and figure out if you can make them yourself for cheaper. Chances are- if you can make it yourself, it will often taste better too! Two things that I’ve been making like crazy this summer are nut/seed butter and pickles (no, not together). I use my Vitamix or food processor (which is generally easier to scrape) for nut/seed butters. (I know that Janetha is a big fan of using her food processor as well- and making my own ground meat has been on my to-do list for way too long!) I also love to add my own flavor combinations- my favorite so far being peanut butter with vanilla, honey and cinnamon.

Making pickles is awesome- and I can’t believe I went 32 years without ever trying it. I’ve made 4 huge jars in the last month- the most current batch being the best pickles I have ever tasted (which is the “simply pickled” recipe from Ashley’s blog).

These will probably be gone by tomorrow.

TIP #3: USE CHIA

If you read any healthy living blogs, chances are you’ve heard of chia. It seemed to gain popularity big time in the last year or two and has been all the rage ever since. I’ve actually known about chia for a long time- way before I discovered healthy living blogs- and bought my first bag of it after watching an episode of Oprah when Dr. Oz was a guest (back before he had his own show). But, I had no idea what to do with it.

It wasn’t until I read some recipes from all of these healthy living bloggers that I actually started figuring out how to use it. I’ve seen a lot of people sprinkle chia seeds on top of nut butter or yogurt for a little crunch, but that’s not really my style. I use chia to BULK things up. I often make up a batch of chia “gel” and set it in the fridge overnight to bulk up. I mix 2 T of chia seeds (I like these the best) with 1/2 cup of water, and when I wake up in the morning, it has magically morphed into 1 cup of chia gel.

Looks appetizing, doesn’t it? :)

* If the texture of the gel turns you off, simply grind up the chia seeds into a powder using a coffee bean grinder (just like you would with flax seeds). I mix the chia gel into oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt or anything else that I want to make more voluminous without adding a ton of calories. If I want a quick hit of protein, I’ll mix it with 1/4 c peanut flour and 1/4 c water (with a little salt and sweetener) to make “peanut butter pudding.” One of my current favorite desserts is this:

Creamy Chia Cocoa Pudding (1 T dried chia seeds, 1/2 c water, 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 c 0% plain Greek yogurt, 1 packet Stevia, 1/2 tsp Bourbon vanilla extract)- full recipe description here.

This little dessert satisfies my sweet tooth and has 92 calories, 3.5 g. fat, 6,5 g. fiber and 10 g. protein! The list of benefits of Chia seeds includes that they are: -a good source of healthy Omega 3s (heart-healthy fats) -a good source of fiber (and keep you fuller for longer) – a good source of calcium – helpful in keeping your blood sugar in check If you haven’t tried chia yet, don’t be scared- you won’t grow a chia pet in your stomach. Rather, you will hopefully discover something that you love and use often!

And there you have it- three tips for your Thursday.

Qs~

Which items do you buy in bulk?

Are you a chia fan (and if so, how do you use it?)?

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Katie @ Talk Less, Say More July 12, 2012 at 7:52 pm

I LOVE chia seeds but I often forget about them (bad Katie)! But I love to throw them in my yogurt or oatmeal.

And I don’t buy too much in bulk (due to lack of storage space) but my roommate and I buy toilet paper, paper towels and laundry detergent since they are all things we can share.

Katie @ Peace Love & Oats July 12, 2012 at 8:04 pm

That chia pudding looks so good! what a smart recipe!

Megan @ Weddings and Workouts July 12, 2012 at 8:36 pm

This post is very timely for me, as I’ve been thinking about making nut butter and mince!~

Great tip with the chia seeds. I’ve got some in the fridge but I haven’t used them for ages.

Sam @ Better With Sprinkles July 12, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I love chia seeds but I don’t use them nearly as often as I used to! I should really work on that. When I do need to pick some up, I tend to buy them in bulk. I also buy flours (ww flour, ww pastry flour, almond flour, ect), chocolate chips, ground flax….a lot of my baking supplies I get in bulk!

LindsayH July 12, 2012 at 9:05 pm

My grandma (95) has eaten PB & pickle (sweet) sandwiches her whole life. She even got two of my cousins hooked on them, but the rest of us always turned our noses up at them. She likes to tell me about going to the Iowa State Fair every year when she was growing up in Des Moines, and how they would ride the bus for 5 cents, take 10 cents for coke, and pack their peanut butter and pickle sandwiches to eat there since they didn’t have extra money for fair food.

ANDREA July 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Pickle, PB and Ham is a delicious combo!! I could totally hang with your grandma! ;)

Sarah @ The Healthy Diva July 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm

I love buying nuts, seeds, and dried fruit in bulk. It is much cheaper than buying it from a packet at the supermarket. Plus I get more variety. I’ve recently made the switch from flaxseeds to chia. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my flax, but I wanted to see what chia was all about. I’ve been using it to bulk up my oats and in baking as well. They are fab cuz they don’t really impart any flavour onto the dish but pack a load of nutrition

Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio July 12, 2012 at 11:57 pm

You’re the best! Miss you already!

I buy toilet paper, paper towels, and lifewaters in bulk, obviously I have a lot to learn. I need to start taking advantage of the bulk bins!

Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning July 13, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Miss you too- I’m sure you’re having a blast!!

Emily @ www.main-eats.com July 13, 2012 at 12:26 am

LOVE that chia pudding-looks really great and the nutritional stats are fantastic! Thanks for sharing!

Lee July 13, 2012 at 6:23 am

Honestly, the only thing that I buy in bulk is nutritional yeast. That’s mostly because we have this awesome place called Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market (if you ever come to ATL, I’ll take you, you’d like it). It’s a grocery store, not a real farmer’s market. But they sell all kinds of grains, flours and dried beans and really anything you could get from a bulk bin, pre-packed but still really, really cheap.

Claire @ Live and Love to Eat July 13, 2012 at 6:50 am

I use chia seeds to thicken up my overnight oats and smoothies. :)

Maren July 13, 2012 at 6:52 am

I really need to just suck it up and buy beans in bulk!! I know they are better…and cheaper! I always buy nutritional yeast in bulk…and nuts. I love nuts :)

Tamara July 13, 2012 at 6:59 am

Great post! I love chia seeds in my oatmeal (baked, hot, or overnight) and smoothies. And I reaaaaaally need to start using dried beans instead of canned. You make it sound so easy, thanks Lauren!

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table July 13, 2012 at 8:33 am

I missed the vanilla part after the bourbon in that chia recipe at first… I was all “damn girl, you rock making a healthy booze pudding.” LOL!

I do love chia pudding – especially with various fruit or sweet potato mixed in. It’s like cobbler or pie! Great tips. :)

Kris July 13, 2012 at 9:48 am

I love the bulk section! on a “normal” shopping trip, I’d say my cart is 70% produce, 25% bulk, 5% other. I like that. I also love it for SPICES. when I need a little bit I don’t have to buy a whole jar.

I love chia, and use it in everything. great post Lauren!

Kim @ The Family Practice July 13, 2012 at 10:52 am

Great tips! I love buying spices and grains in bulk – good options for a bigger selection are healthfood and organics stores. They typically have several aisles of bulk items. My favorites are spelt berries, oats, and chia (way cheaper!). I also love tip #2 to make it yourself. That is becoming a common practice in our household. Its more fun, tastes better, is healthier and cheaper. Plus, it really doesn’t take a whole lot of time.

ANDREA July 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I need to try buying beans in bulk, but I do buy my oats and flours in bulk.

i make my own hummus and it is always just as good, if not better, than store bought.

Pickles are delish. Great post!

Annette@FitnessPerks July 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I need to eat more chia seeds! I have ’em, but forget about them :(

GREAT tips, Lauren! I need to make nut butter this weekend. Mmmmmm

elise July 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm

gonna have to check out this lauren girl’s blog…she sounds just like me :)

Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning July 13, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I’ll tell you what- I LOVE your blog name and am gonna have to check YOU out!

Jessica, the_toned_teach July 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm

love me some chia! I could probably name 100 ways to use it, but chia pudding is definitely my favorite :)

meg July 13, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I love buying in bulk! I have found that buying rawhides for my dogs in so much cheaper than buying a bag at the pet store.

I have yet to get on the chia seed bandwagon. Maybe someday…

Erica July 13, 2012 at 6:32 pm

I still am yet to try chia! I’ve heard so many good things too. Fun tips. I buy beans, seeds and nuts in bulk. Very necessary.

Becky@munchingveggies July 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Love the bulk bins. I get all of my grains beans nuts and flours from the bins. Was so excited to see isreali cous cous there today. So excited to try it!

Your chia pudding looks rich! Never thought to add Greek yogurt. And for only 92 cal’s? Nice!

Mollie July 16, 2012 at 8:40 am

I think this is my favorite 3 tip thursday post! Practical, money saving tips that are so healthy. I use chia alot and need to replenish my supply soon. I also buy all my grains in bulk. I have been wanting to make my own nut butters and nut milks and also ground my own meat for awhile now. I think I need to really get on it! My boyfriend just got me a Ninja kitchen system for my bday so I’ll be making them soon!

Lisa July 17, 2012 at 10:42 am

I bought some chia seeds awhile ago and I had no idea what to do with them, so I never really used them. I put them in my smoothies but other than that, I didn’t get it. Tips?

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