Food Friday

Time for Food Friday again! This week started out pretty boring – Kris and I were sick so we were pretty much just eating canned soup and orange juice (more out of being lazy and cold than anything). I also had to work at night on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so I didn’t really make any dinners those nights. I ate something small (like a granola bar or a can of soup) before work and a peanut butter sandwich when I got home. How appetizing!

On Thursday, we were basically running out of food, and after packing an incredibly pathetic lunch for him, Kris and I decided it might be best to go out to lunch. We settled on Neato Burrito, which is basically a local Chipotle clone (if Chipotle was run by even bigger hipsters). One nice feature they have over Chipotle is that they offer a special salsa every day in addition to regular mild/green/hot offerings and have multiple wrap flavors, making it possible to have a “burrito of the day.” Yesterday the burrito was a Pad Thai inspired creation. I decided to try it even though I could have eaten vegetarian there very easily because it sounded fairly unique – chicken, black beans, brown rice…and banana-cashew salsa on whole wheat. I was intrigued. The only thing I didn’t really like was that in true burrito fashion, all of the cashew nut sauce ended up on one end and all of the banana bits at the other. The salsa really was great, though, and I am sad that I can’t seem to find a recipe for something similar online – I guess I’ll just have to keep looking! Sorry for the lack of a picture – being a burrito, it was not very good looking.

Then, for dinner, I attempted to make curry for the first time using this recipe. I chose this recipe because I had a bunch of lentils and chili powder left over from the lentil-quinoa chili, and I thought it turned out great and it was really simple to make. Note: I would agree with the comments on the recipe that you need to add extra curry powder and garlic. I more than doubled what it called for and it was quite spicy (which I enjoyed). I served it over brown rice with whole wheat naan and it was delicious and low calorie, coming in at 540 calories for one serving of curry, rice, and half a piece of naan. Side note: the naan selection at my grocery store is dreadful and expensive. Again, I didn’t take a picture because it looked disgusting, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. I rounded out the day by making some chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Nothing fancy, just the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag, but they really hit the spot!

Now, on to today, which includes pictures!

Yesterday when I was at the store, I went to grab a couple of Larabar Alt bars. I really like having filling protein bars around now that I have such weird work schedules – they are perfect if I have to go in for a shift that has a meal time right in the middle so that I can feel full the whole time without eating 2 dinners. Clif bars used to be my go to favorite, but Larabar Alt has just as much protein with fewer calories and I would argue tastes about as good. I still buy Clif bars sometimes because there are more flavors available, though. Anyway, when I went to grab the Larabars, I noticed something new – Luna “protein” bars. I have never tried Luna bars before because I see no point in them – they are Clif bars “for women.” To be fair, they have extra vitamins in them or something like that, but I feared they would be lacking elsewhere in order to make them lower calorie because that is obviously all women desire in their food. These bars apparently have like 14g of protein in 190ish calories, though – whoa! In comparison, Clif and Larabar Alt have about 9-11g. I decided to do an experiment where I compare Larabar Alt; regular Luna (which I’ve never tried, but it’s protein content is equal ); and Luna Protein bars to each other by eating them before long shifts and seeing how hungry I get.

The bars in question:

Luna Protein bars (12-14g?): both available flavors, chocolate peanut butter and cookie dough; Regular Luna (10g?) in white chocolate macadamia nut (it was on an endcap); Larabar Alt (10g?) in peanut butter cookie (favorite bar ever)

Today, I tried the plain Luna bar. I must say it did it’s job – I ate it at 9:45ish for a 10 am – 2 pm shift, where I wound up staying until 4. I started feeling hungry around 2 (meaning it worked as long as intended) and when I ate a couple breadsticks for “lunch” I ended up feeling too full. My only “complaint” – it was definitely more “girly,” though I found the “girly” traits to be a plus (maybe because I’m female?).  Though the white chocolate macadamia nut flavor of Clif is very sweet (I don’t know what I was thinking when I chose this flavor, I really don’t like it), this was somehow sweeter, even though it has 10g (!!) less sugar. This could be a plus if you like very sweet things. I also found it more aesthetically pleasing – Clif bars and Larabars look like mush, or occasionally mush with chocolate drizzle. This looked like a cereal bar with a nice chocolate coating on the bottom and drizzle on top. The texture was far better as well. I imagine they made all these changes to make them more appealing to women, which makes me wonder why they make the men’s bars have such bad texture and mush-like appearance. I always assumed it was because they couldn’t improve them without hurting macros, but apparently not – the women’s even have more vitamins! I’ll probably try one of the Luna protein bars before my 5 hour shift starting at 5pm tomorrow to see if it is even more effective with all of it’s extra protein – and to see if they have to revert to manly mush!

A comparison of the two bars so that you can be reminded of how gross and mushy the men’s one is:

Luna version. Image credit: pbfingers.com, because I forgot to take a photo

Men’s (?) Version

I then ended the day with something you think I’d be sick of – pizza! You think I’d be sick of pizza from my job, but trust me, that is impossible (plus I never really eat pizza at work or I’d gain all 110 lbs back). Kris and I went with an old favorite tonight – white pizza with spinach and tomatoes! Fun story: he actually made fun of me for taking this photo, so I tried to justify it by telling him white pizza with veggies looks healthier than it is, so I had to take a picture so that I would look really healthy on the blog.


Oh, and one final piece of info – I finally created an email address that is specific to the blog. If you want to contact me, you can do so at therewere2ofme@gmail.com

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Yay!

Guess what I did today?

I went for a run! Outside!

I was super slow, but please keep in mind that most of the park was still covered in snow; I have a sore, stuffy nose; I haven’t run in like 2-3 weeks; and I am still sore because Jillian Michaels is tough. I’ll take finishing a 5K at any pace, right now. Keep in mind that I am about as graceful as a dog in snowboots in the snow:

It was actually quite funny – I used to chicken out if the weather was less than 20 degrees, unless it was REALLY sunny or I had a friend going with me and I didn’t want to seem like a chicken. Today, it eventually got up to 20 degrees, but it was still only 13 when I left my house and I was excited, if only because the “feels like” temp was also 13 degrees instead of like, -4. When I got to the park and was waiting for my GPS watch to find satellites, a man (side note: he had the prettiest dog ever – a brown cocker spaniel; when I was a kid we had several of these dogs so they will always hold a place in my heart) actually had a conversation with me about what a beautiful day we were having. Before this winter I couldn’t imagine a conversation about 15 degree weather involving the word “beautiful.”

The other good news? Here is the weather forecast for the next 5 days:

No terrifying snowstorms or polar vortexes in the forecast; most of the snow and ice might even melt when the temps get up into the 40s, there. I am really looking forward to being able to get out there and run. Last January I was able to squeak in 9 runs and I wasn’t even really trying or training for anything; I even spent about a week doing almost no workouts because I was out of town for a funeral. This year, I’ve done a grand total of 5 runs because of the weather, and will only get up to 6 if I run tomorrow. If I want to run as many miles as I did last year I’m really going to have to work hard in the coming months!


In other news, today was in general a busy day! I got up, took Kris to work, then came home to walk Belle and go for a run. Then I went back to meet up with Kris for lunch at a local place called Neato Burrito (this lunch will be featured more heavily in Food Friday tomorrow). This took forever because Kris was in a meeting and got let out for his lunch break late.

Then I had to go to the grocery store because we were basically out of food and alcohol and I needed to pick up some medicine. The grocery store took over an hour and I spent about a billion dollars. I feel like using coupons is costing me more money – since I started using them, I’ve been spending substantially more. However, I only bought one thing (nuts) that I would not have otherwise purchased without a coupon, so I don’t know. Using coupons also takes forever; I have to find them, print them, remember them, then stand awkwardly in the store trying to find the right one. I’ll experiment a few more times and see what happens. It could also be that I’m trying a lot of new recipes that require ingredients that I don’t have around and I forget to grab the first time through the store because I’m not used to them. It could also be that we are just eating out a lot less and therefore still saving money even if we are spending more at the store (other than when we went to Indiana, we haven’t spend much more than $20 eating out 1-2 times per week; we usually do that a couple times plus like one $40-50 meal out because we are obviously very frugal people /s).

After my over an hour long adventure at the grocery store (I also had to get beer, which is a completely separate process in our lovely state, and I had to get gas points loaded on my card from the store card from a time I forgot my card), I basically came home for like 45 minutes and, after putting all the food away, screwed around until it was time to pick up Kris. Fun story about this, though: the stray cat I posted about the other day has been coming around more (we think the neighbors stopped feeding it), and we have been feeding it Belle’s food in an old dish on the porch. I decided to buy the poor thing some real cat food (will save us money because Belle eats pricey food), and when I got home I saw the cat sitting near our porch. I told her I had a present and got the bag of cat food out of the car. She jumped all the way over our stairs and onto our porch in one leap and sat right by her bowl! I wish I had a picture, because it was super cute. When I finally went to pick Kris up, he was in a meeting again, and I had to wait like 20 minutes for him again. I’d be mad if I hadn’t paid so many tax dollars for him to be sitting in there :p At least we finally made it home where I made some delicious eats that I will further discuss tomorrow and got to relax with some beers while watching the IT Crowd.

“New” (to us) Car and More Workout Videos

I did a second Jillian Michaels’ workout today to stay warm during our freezing cold temps (we are up to feels like 2 degrees!). I mean, in comparison to others, we are lucky, but I really don’t like to go out unless it feels like more than 15 degrees. Today I did “No More Trouble Zones.” This was a very similar workout – 6 circuits, each targeting different parts of your body. This one does require light weights, but that is still pretty minimal equipment. It also had a lot more ab work which was exactly what I needed – my core is so weak that the residual soreness makes it painful to sneeze!

Of course, Ms. Michaels had numerous silly things to say again in this video. Notable examples: “You don’t burn any calories if you are only working out your arms” and “I don’t like machines at the gym for inner thigh workouts because you don’t want to use weights and build muscles there, you want to use your own bodyweight in order to make the muscles long and lean.” Um, I hate to break it to you, person who is actually a professional in this field, but you do burn calories moving only your arms – just fewer calories than moving both your arms and legs, which is what I am presuming you meant in this context, as you were explaining why we work both at once. Furthermore, bodyweight counts as weight, especially for beginners, who are probably carrying extra weight in those areas and would not be able to handle additional weight. No matter how much weight you use, if you are pushing yourself on your workouts and eating properly, you will gain muscle, meaning that your workouts are building muscle just like the ones at the gym. No matter how much fat you lose, if you do not gain muscle, your inner thighs will still not look “lean.” This isn’t even getting into the idea of whether women “should” be muscly or not and how certain areas of our bodies “should” look. I’ll have you know that I’ve run 2 half marathons and my inner thighs are still terrifying according to your standards, Jillian. I think it is pretty cleat that nothing will “fix” them, not even your leg lifts.


Now, on to my other exciting news. A few days ago, I was complaining about the situation that Kris and I are in for car buying. We had hoped this year after I moved back to go down to one car so that we could upgrade a bit, but the timing was a bit off (the story of our lives this year!). I was annoyed that I would not be getting the exact car I wanted, but now that it is over and we have our “new” (6-year-old) car I am feeling much better.

I am going to miss my old car dearly. My old car was a 2008 Chevy HHR that my dad helped me pick out RIGHT before cash for clunkers would have occurred. I had purchased a 15ish year old Grand Am that was a POS less than a year earlier and was really itching to upgrade. My dad saw an HHR at the mall and decided it was the perfect car for a young woman who wants a cheaper, smaller car, but still needs to haul a few things once in a while. A few months later when I was actually ready to get a different vehicle, we went down the dealer who’d had it at the mall, and the exact same car my dad had seen – in bright orange – was there. Keep in mind that this was pretty much the height of the car recession, so it was pretty much impossible for them to sell cars. I obviously got an incredibly good deal on it – the dealer where we got our “new” car has an HHR of the same year (but with less miles and in better shape than mine) listed for only about $1,000 less than I paid all those years ago. That car and I have been through a lot – multiple moves, hundreds of trips between Indiana and PA, and several phases of my life. I actually told the car that I loved it was going to miss it. Here are some pictures of my favorite orange car all decorated up for our wedding:

Our financial situation made it less feasible to keep two cars around, especially if one of us can’t drive! Hence, the HHR had to go, even if I loved it. Plus, it was time to move from a car that is “me” to a car that will be good to share with Kris for a family. Even if this car is not the EXACT one I was itching for (a brand new Subaru Forester that we cannot afford at the moment), it really does have all the features we wanted: AWD so that it isn’t as terrible in the snow; a roof rack to put the bicycles (and other cargo) on; plenty of cargo space for all of Belle’s crap (and ours, I suppose); heated leather seats because I’m always freezing and like to spoil myself with luxury items; and good safety ratings for all of those wrecks that I get into. It does have slightly worse MPG than the HHR (17ish vs. 20ish) and it isn’t orange, so it will be hard to spot in parking lots, but I think the pros outweigh the cons. Here are some pictures:

Yeah, it doesn’t get much more generic looking. And someone else on our block has the same one. I bet I actually break down in a parking lot crying because I can’t find it someday.

Luxurious interior!

Space for ALL THE THINGS!

 

 

Winter? Guess it’s Time for Workout Videos

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a fitness buddy on r/xxfitness and had almost completely forgotten. I finally messaged my buddy yesterday and was complaining about my winter workout woes. At first, she didn’t know what to recommend – she apparently lives in one of those typically warm southern states or something. She then had a great idea – workout videos! I was also pushed towards this choice by Amazon Prime Instant video, which chose yesterday to remind me that I haven’t been using my instant video privileges and that there are a bunch of workout videos on there. It was like the stars had aligned!

I used to do workout videos all the time when I was first trying to lose weight. I still remember the first time I tried the 30 Day Shred. It was maybe 1-2 months after I started my weight loss journey and I had gotten up to running a whole 5 minutes in couch 2 5k. Surely if I could run for 5 minutes I could do 6 minute circuits…or so I thought. I think I texted Kris halfway through the first circuit to tell him I was afraid I was going to pass out and to come check on me if he didn’t hear from me in half an hour. I then laid on the bed, unable to move, for quite some time and did not reattempt it until the fall. I think it was in October/Novemberish of that year that I was finally able to get through all 3 levels in 30 Days, and I haven’t really used workout videos much since then due to running or having gym access instead.

This puppy is better at mountain climbers than I was.

I don’t have a lot of home equipment  – a yoga mat, steps, and some 5 lb weights – so videos that make use of very minimal equipment. The Jillian Michael’s videos are perfect for this. She does bother me a little bit with some of the comments she makes about how women’s bodies should be or assuming how we want them to be, but they are good workouts and I know she is pandering to an audience who predominantly wants her to say those things. Today I tried her “Banish Fat Boost Metabolism” video. The title alone annoys me – doesn’t all exercise help you to burn body mass but also build muscle (thereby boosting metabolism)? It had great reviews on Amazon, though, and requires no equipment at all, so I decided to go with it.

I would actually highly recommend this video. As with all of her videos, it is a very good mix of strength and cardio, which I enjoy doing to avoid boredom. It is REALLY long and I almost did get bored, but I felt worse giving up on the video than I would have after say 20-30 minutes of circuit training on my own. I had to make it to the cooldown, not fast forward! If a 45 minute workout isn’t your thing, though, you could probably easily shorten this by skipping 1 or 2 of the SEVEN circuits (some are easier, some are harder). I was really glad that I did it because it really kicked my ass, even though it should not have. I mean, I’ve run for far longer than 45 minutes…45 minutes of jump squats and crunches should be a cinch, right? Again, I underestimated the video. I am super sore was out of breath, sweaty, and half-assing some moves halfway through. Anyone seeing a pattern?

Even if I have workout videos to keep me in shape, I am hoping to get back outside soon. I feel like such a baby complaining about the snow, cold, and wind, but even Belle drug me home after about 2 blocks today when I tried to take her for a “real” walk. It was just too windy for her, apparently!

My First DNS

Yesterday, I had signed up to run a virtual 5K. I mentioned in my Food Friday post that I might not be able to run or even walk it due to the weather. Kris has been sick since Thursday, and I would have been bored on a 3 mile walk by myself, but I might have pushed myself to do it had I not woke up feeling somewhat under the weather as well.

I tend to not get as sick as other people (amusing, considering that I was a child that feared getting dirty, so I have no idea where my strong immune system came from), but I wanted to make sure I didn’t push myself too hard and end up as sick as Kris. Right now I just have a runny nose and a slight sore throat and a bit less energy, and I’d prefer it if I didn’t end up worse – Kris was so tired that he spent most of yesterday sleeping and was snoring so loudly due to his stuffy nose that I couldn’t even sleep in the bed with him!

I’m not sure if I could have walked the whole distance even if I tried – we walked over to the library (about 1 block) to put my incredibly weird vegetarian cookbooks in the book drop and even that was a chore for the three of us: Kris came along in case there was no outdoor book drop to hold Belle, and was incredibly out of it and fatigued; Belle’s paws kept getting salt on them and hurting; and the cold was affecting me very badly and making my nose run even more. I was very glad that Belle and I weren’t out trying to trudge around in the snow, ice, and wind for a whole hour.

I’ve never not started a “race” before (fyi: DNS stands for “did not start”). I keep trying to make myself feel better by reminding myself that it was a virtual race that was just for fun anyway, and that I would not have been able to run it fast due to the weather and my inability to get any running in lately.It’s hard to do that though when all things fitness have been going poorly for me lately. My part-time job really messes up my eating schedule and tempts me to eat unhealthy food (mostly breadsticks), and I can’t afford to join a gym so it’s nearly impossible for me to run right now. I’m tired of doing the same 20 minute workout at home and I really feel demotivated and like I’m rolling back all of the hard work that I did last year. I don’t feel too badly about specifically not starting the race, but about how it fits into the “big picture” – this virtual 5K was supposed to be a bit of a bright spot for me during my winter workout rut. 

It doesn’t help that my life in general is pretty stressful, which is making the fitness problems seem even worse.On top of my ability to finish my PhD being completely uncertain right now, I’m afraid I’m blowing all my job interviews for full-time positions. I should be happy that I am getting so many interviews so quickly but because of my worrisome nature, I keep overthinking the interviews and assuming I they went terribly.

Kris’s car also basically exploded this week and we are trying to procure a different one. Normally, this would be happy – we had been looking forward to trading in our two cars and going down to a single car once I moved back this summer anyway – but the desperate situation and poor timing are messing it up. Kris’s car has almost no value due to basically needing the entire engine rebuilt (and it was a low-value economy car anyway); my car has a much lower value than I anticipated because it has been in three collisions; and my income has been cut by taking a part-time job. The car we are getting will be NICER than mine (I’ll post about it after we have it) but I am sad to lose out on the whole “car shopping experience” where we get to carefully go over all of our options and pick the perfect car for us. Instead we are in a situation of begging the salesperson at the garage where we were getting it repaired to please sell us something, anything in our price range.

That all sounds very #firstworldproblems, though. I should focus on what I do have going for me: Kris still has a good job where he won’t be punished for his medical issues (we ❤ you union); we have good health insurance and while we have not gone to the doctor for our colds, it would be no hardship for us to do so; I was able to find some sort of job, even if it is “just” as a waitress at a pizza place, within the first week of my job search; we will have a vehicle that is much nicer than any other vehicle we have owned, even if it is not new and shiny the exact perfect car for us; and we have a heating system that works well and is keeping us toasty during this bitterly cold winter 🙂

Here is to hoping this coming week is more positive – I am getting a “new to me” car, after all!

Food Friday

I am so sick of winter. Today is one of those deceptively sunny winter days – it is only 15 degrees!

I haven’t run in well over a week because of snow and ice. I’m supposed to run the Runs for Cookies virtual 5K tomorrow, but it is supposed to snow another 2 inches. Even if the weather was half decent tomorrow, I’m not sure I could run it – the entire park is still covered in snow. If it was just ice, I could wear my ice spikes (which I now have), but with the added inches of snow I’m not really sure what to do. I’ve considered walking it with Belle, but I’m afraid it will be too cold and too hard on her little paws. I might just have to sit it out and pretend it doesn’t count because it’s a virtual race. I feel very disappointed and frustrated and I’m becoming more genuinely worried that I will lose a lot of my running fitness and have to essentially start from scratch this spring. I am now remembering why I started going to the gym on campus last year around this time! Unfortunately, unless I get a full-time job (I’ve had a couple interviews, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed) I can’t really afford a gym membership here (the gym on campus was free).

On top of all this, Kris has a cold. So we are just sitting around being totally lazy while he recuperates and I worry about him because that is what I do. I have been trying to keep up with workouts at home but with everything going on I’m afraid I’m having far too many days like yesterday, where I did well with my “rest day” until dinner where Kris and I shared a large stromboli and I ate 3 brownies while watching Battlestar Galactica. Oops.


The good news is that I was able to accumulate enough content for a Food Friday post this week! This should be unsurprising, considering yesterday’s post where I bemoaned the amount of groceries that I decided to purchase.

I purchased one new thing to try this week: fancy pierogies. I briefly mentioned the pierogies (side note: WordPress wants to correct that word to “groupies”) in last night’s post, and I will note that while I have eaten many pierogies in my life, I have not purchased them in a long, long time and I had no idea how many varieties there are now, which is why they are something “new.” When I was growing up I did not know they made pierogies beyond the “cheddar and potato” variety, and after learning about other terrifying options like “potato and onion” I mostly ignored pierogie offerings. That was until the other day when I went shopping for them and couldn’t even find plain old cheddar and potato. Instead, I “had” to buy broccoli cheddar, spinach and feta, and five cheese (all with whole grain noodles). I was pleased to find these slightly fancier and healthier sounding options and plan to eat them for quick meals sauteed with some peppers! Fun fact: Mrs. T’s pierogies and Yuengling beer are made in the same county in PA (Schuylkill), further proving that PA produces all of the best things.

I also attempted two recipes for the first time: Lentil Quinoa Chili and homemade guacamole.

I liked the lentil quinoa chili, but it was not my all-time favorite vegetarian chili recipe. The only changes I made to the original recipe were that I used frozen bell pepper strips instead of buying and cutting up a pepper and I ran out of cumin so I just put in taco seasoning. I also made it in a crock pot instead of standing around cooking it for an hour. I think it just wasn’t spicy enough for me (most things aren’t). I still like it, though, and would recommend it to those who are more into flavor than heat.

A not very aesthetically pleasing picture of the chili.

I will note that the guacamole recipe I linked is a very generic one, and I followed it mostly because I have never made guac before and needed to know avocado:tomato ratios. I am fairly certain that I had never heard of guac until I was about 16 years old so obviously my parents do not make or buy it (though they love it at Mexican restaurants!) and I therefore had no idea how to make it. I also spent the last 3 years living with someone who makes incredible guac so there was no reason for me to even attempt it. The first thing I saw when I entered the grocery store was avocados and tomatoes on sale, though, so I was inspired. I think it went ok – I’ve certainly eaten worse. To my friend the amazing guacamole maker: you will be pleased to know that Kris has deemed it “good, but nowhere near as good” as yours. I blame the fact that I forgot fresh cilantro and had to use dried.

Close-up of the guac.

Couponing and Healthy Eating

A few months ago I posted a grocery list and reflected on whether I was making mindful purchases or not. I’m one of those people who can sometimes cross the line between frugal and cheap (and can sometimes completely contradict myself by buying $22 eyeliners…). This is especially true when it comes to groceries – I will stand around paralyzed by the decision of spending an extra dollar. Kris hates grocery shopping with me and I understand why. Once, when he was at the store with me I stopped in the middle of the aisle and started yelling about how they only had name brand chili powder and it was 50 cents more. Kris calmly responded “well, what do you want me to do about that?” and an old man and his wife walked past and the man said something that implied Kris was catching on to the whole “how to deal with irrational wives in grocery stores” part of marriage rather well. Because of my grocery-spending angst, I try to use coupons. However, I haven’t decided yet whether I am just bad at using coupons, or if using coupons and healthy eating do not go well together.

I remember that my mom used to use coupons all the time as a kid. When I first moved out I was moving around too much to try to get a paper and we didn’t eat very many groceries anyway (mostly fast food). Therefore I didn’t worry about couponing too much. Trying to cut down my grocery budget only came with eating more actual groceries (and, I suppose, caring more about my financial stability). I still don’t get a Sunday paper because frankly, I have no idea how to get one. This means that I get most of my coupons from the internet. I know this is what is keeping me from some savings because a lot of sites like couponmom.com show you how to get items for essentially free by combining specials with paper coupons (i.e. drugstore X is running a 2/$1 sale and in this paper there is a coupon for $1 off 2).  I primarily print coupons from the creatively named coupons.com and the shopathome.com Chrome extension. This gives me a lot of coupons I could theoretically use, but they don’t always work for several reasons: I don’t need the item before the coupon expires; it is for a brand my store doesn’t carry; or the store brand is cheaper anyway. I have also tried using the Ibotta app but it tends to be for incredibly specific products and my normal grocery store (Giant) isn’t on there so I have to figure out if one of their affiliate stores (Stop & Shop) will redeem rewards – I’d otherwise have to drive out of my way to go to Target or Wegman’s to use this program. So from this discussion you can tell that I am incredibly new to using coupons and still quite confused and I might just be doing it poorly.

The other issue is that it is not very easy to use coupons if you are trying to keep a healthy diet. First of all, there are almost never coupons for fresh produce. There are a few – for example, I’ve seen them for the bags of Dole salad, and my store will sometimes print me a “$2 off your produce purchases” coupon, but in general, a diet using a lot of fruits and veggies is not going to benefit much from coupons. Another issue is that even for other less-processed items, coupons tend to be for more processed versions or at least branded, pre-packaged versions. For example, there are not coupons for plain, brown rice; only coupons for those boxes of rice mixes. Another example would be that specific brands of pre-packaged meats will have coupons (rather than the meat packaged in the store). This leaves me with the few processed, pre-packaged things I buy being things that I can coupon.

For proof of how these two issues – me being bad at couponing and coupons being inappropriately matched to healthy eating – let’s discuss how they interacted with my grocery shopping yesterday.

Yesterday, I was able to use only 4 coupons during a huge (for me) shopping trip:

  • 2 for coffee. This was one of those deals that was so good I couldn’t pass it up even though I have plenty of coffee. Coffee at my store was only sale for like $5.75 a bag and I had coupons for $1.50 off the bags. I go through this quickly so it wasn’t a big deal.
  • 1 for pierogies (the wiki link is because I’ve met more than one person who thought these were a fictional food). This was another great deal. Pierogies were 3 for $7 at my store and the coupon was for $1.50 off 3. Score! Notice, however, that these were happy accidents – a good couponer would have known about these amazing deals in advance.
  • 1 for almond milk. I needed almond milk and this coupon made Silk (not my favorite, but better than Giant brand) cheaper than Giant brand.

However, I also had the following coupon issues:

  • I left a coupon for Halo brand clementines at home (one of the elusive produce coupons) because Giant “never” carries that brand. I wound up buying them because they were the cheapest fruit at the store anyway.
  • Giant does not carry “Treasure Cave” brand Feta cheese, apparently.
  • They also don’t carry Gardein vegetarian products.
  • I also forgot to look to see if they had the specific brand of string cheese or sour cream that I had coupons for. Oops. I didn’t really need them anyway.

I think the one exception to this rule might be in terms of toiletries – there are a ton of coupons for things like vitamins and skincare products. Unfortunately for my new-found drive to use a ton of a coupons, but fortunately for my wallet in general, Kris and I go through toiletries very slowly (the perks of not having little ones yet) and have a lot of backstock of things like sunscreen and body wash (well, women’s, I guess I could buy some men’s). Also I can never conveniently find a coupon for the toiletry I need when I need it 😦