*Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s Haul

Like I said in an earlier post, I’ve been working on clearing out my pantry in anticipation for my quarterly Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods excursion. My boyfriend and I almost messed up. The weekend before Christmas, we went to Moore County to visit his family for the holidays. On our way up, as we passed through Raleigh, we decided that we would stop to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Cabela’s on our way home. Monday came and it was a dreary day as we set off back to our house with a truck full (and I mean jam packed) with gifts.

We stopped to Cabela’s but decided to bail on the other two stores. We were tired, ready to get home, and most of all – our truck was FULL! So we decided to stick to our original plan of making a day date of it while I was out on break.

That same Monday night, I attacked the kitchen in a whirlwind after we arrived home. I cleaned out our pantry – putting items that have been in our pantry for months – into a bag to donate to the local food bank (I ended up with two large bags full), throwing some expired items away. Then I started on the spices. There were spices in there from back in 2011! I let Robb go through everything before I tossed it and if he said keep it, we kept it (fair trade).

When we went to Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s the day after Christmas, neither of us were feeling at our best. That may have been why we didn’t go as crazy as I had anticipated. But that’s okay. It still ended up being a good “date” day for the two of us and I enjoy spending time with Robb. Even if it’s doing something that seems as mundane as going to the grocery store!

Here’s what we purchased:


Some of our favorite purchases were:

  • Growler of Ginger Kombucha from Barefoot Bucha (first tried at the Heritage Festival at Monticello) from Whole Foods (Me)
  • Olives from Whole Foods (Robb)
  • Creamy Corn & Roasted Pepper Soup  from Trader Joe’s (both of ours)
  • Trader Joe’s Roasted Potatoes (mentioned before in this post)
  • Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina Flour from Whole Foods (Me) – this is for homemade corn tortillas using the tortilla press I got for Christmas!
Molten Chocolate Macarons from Trader Joe’s – this thing is HUGE!

Since we went on Monday, we were able to take advantage of the Pasta Night at Whole Foods. For $12.99 we were able to get a pound of fresh cut pasta (our choice was spinach pappardelle), 16oz of Severino sauce (we went with the Fra Diavolo) and 4oz of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Our pasta night deal from Whole Foods with chorizo, mushrooms, and onions thrown in. Delicious!

A few nights ago, I was able to try out my new tortilla press. I know that a tortilla press is a weird thing to ask for but I love the idea of being able to make fresh corn tortillas. I still need to practice but I think I did okay! I paired my homemade corn tortillas with homemade pico de gallo, homemade lime crema, cilantro, coleslaw mix, and pan seared Alaskan halibut (with a adobo seasoning purchased from Whole Foods).

Tacos?? A good first try.

I’m already looking forward to our next trip!

Food · Life

Farmer’s Market Haul 12/10/2016

This will be my last farmer’s market post of the year. While there is one more Saturday market before Christmas – I won’t be able to attend because of a previous engagement. The Edenton Farmer’s Market will start back up in January with an indoor market on the second and fourth Saturdays of January, February, and March. I’m going to try to be a vendor at least once a month to help continue to showcase my brand (and with plans to create something deliciously edible soon).

I did super good, spending wise, at the market this time. I spent $39.48, slightly under my $40 goal.


So here is what I purchased from the farmer’s market:

  • Hot Italian Sausage – Will be used in spaghetti soon
  • 2 mini loaves of banana/pineapple/walnut bread
  • 3 bars of soap from a vendor that supported me in return
  • a handmade winter hat ornament (only $1!!)
  • 4 pack of oreo truffles
  • 3 rabbit ears for the dogs
  • Package of English walnuts
  • More garlic!!
  • Beets (I’m think Chioggia because of how they looked when I cut into them – see below)
  • Baby bok choy
  • Mustard Greens
  • Kale
I stayed at my mom’s house the weekend and spotted this precious moment – the animals coexisting peacefully for once. Mom’s dog was being a bit mischievous and was sleeping on her bed when I snapped this photo.

I also volunteered in the kitchen the Cupola House on Saturday evening, making sure the wassail and cookies remained stock for the guests who wondered in while on the Edenton Candlelight Tour. The Cupola House is one of my favorite houses (I swear I saw a ghost in it when I was in elementary school) and the reason why I started studying herbs (they have a huge herb garden in the back). Even though I met some wonderful people, the major perk was being able to bring home a bag of cookies and a gallon of wassail!


Last but not least – I finally have a photo from Alaska for y’all.

This photo (of my boyfriend and I) is from our trip to Alaska in October – when we went fishing more specifically. I’m finally getting around to going through my photos and selecting some for the blog.
Food · Movie

*Expressing My Excitement to Come!

(Note: I’m filling this posts with pictures of some of the food I made when I lived in Raleigh – pulling these from my defunct flickr stream)

When I lived in Raleigh (in what seems like another lifetime now), I tended to shop at either Food Lion or Harris Teeter (depending on where I was living at the time) with visits to Whole Foods every other week. Mostly to enjoy the prepared foods bar, but also to view what new and unusual products they had in the produce section. Typically it was items that I could either not afford on a student’s budget or thought I didn’t like (such as mushrooms) but it was fun to view them. I think that was the budding foodie in me starting to emerge. About once a month or so, I would venture over to Trader Joe’s – that was back when “Two-Buck Chuck” was actually $2. If you are a Trader Joe’s fan, then you’ll know what I’m referring to.

A delicious chicken & vegetable soup I made using brother, corn, potatoes, carrots, spices, and a rotisserie chicken back in October 2010.

Since moving back home, my grocery store choices have been limited to Food Lion, mostly to supplement what I can’t grow myself. Sure there are a couple of other grocery options (Farm Fresh and a small health food store), but I find their prices are typically higher for the same products I find in Food Lion. As the years passed, I found myself missing my Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Finally, my mom and I ventured up to a Whole Foods in Virginia and you would have thought that I was a kid in a candy store. It was heaven even though I didn’t buy much, if anything. Fast forward to dating my boyfriend. We were bored one weekend and after driving up to Bass Pro Shops, we traveled a bit further to Trader Joe’s. I think that it when he started to see the magic.

My dinner in March 2010 – pork roast and frozen potatoes from Trader Joe’s (the potatoes were delicious) and cucumbers from a family recipe.
Trader Joe’s purchases from March – the potatoes and pork roast pictured above are included.

Half a year later, I took him up to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and he realized that they really had some awesome things and that it wasn’t just for “hippies”. Though we spent more than we probably should have at both stores (but how could he resist the olive bar??), we made a vow that we would try to go a few times per year.

Chicken katsu with tonkatsu sauce and cucumbers from the same family recipe as before. I crave this meal (from October 2009) even now.

So guess what time it is now? YES, it is time for our quarterly trip. Our last trip was over the summer so I wasn’t able to get the frozen items I wanted but I have a few days off from work between Christmas and New Year’s making it the perfect time for our little adventure. We are making the effort during the next two weeks to empty our fridge, freezer, and pantry of as much food as possible with no trips to the grocery store.

Preparing for the Superbowl in February 2010 – I made shrimp dip, pigs in a blanket, velvetta cheese dip, and we had oreos.
Shrimp dip (as mentioned above) – this recipe will be coming soon!

Another Grocery Post…

Guys…. I have done it again! I think I beat my savings for last time! Okay, granted I did have a $20 off purchases of $20 or more coupon but it still counts, right? Initially I wanted to go to Wal-Mart. I had more coupons for Wal-Mart but knowing my Food Lion coupon expired in a few days, I decided I needed to use it before I forgot.

So I made my list, cross referencing my rebate websites, Food Lion’s MVP coupons and for something different – I searched out specific coupons. It took maybe 10 minutes only because my shopping list was short. I was just getting a few extra items for the week.

Granted – it isn’t exactly the healthiest grocery store adventure, but I bought the Pillsbury mini pies as a special treat and the Nestle Toll House Cookie Mix for the holidays.

Total Before Coupons: $43.34
Manufacturer Coupons Used: $3.18
Total After MVP Specials: $21.86
Ibotta Rebates: $6.50 (+ $1 for Completing November’s Bonus)
Checkout 51 Rebates: $4.30
Savings Star: $0*

Total for Groceries: $11.06

*Even though I didn’t earn any cash back from SavingStar, it went towards a cumulative goal.







My Lazy Approach to Grocery Savings

When I went grocery shopping a couple of Sundays ago, I didn’t know that this shopping trip would be different. Each time I go grocery shopping, I try to beat my previous shopping trip’s amount saved. I am proud to say that this was my biggest savings yet. I purchased $83 worth of groceries for only $58!

Total Before Coupons: $83.09
Manufacturer Coupons Used: $5.55
Total After MVP Specials: $69.60
Ibotta Rebates: $5.00
Checkout 51 Rebates: $5.75
Savings Star: $.44

Total for Groceries: $58.41

Now, that may not seem impressive to some of you, especially those of you who used to watch “Extreme Couponing” on TLC or who frequent couponing blogs. But for someone like me, someone who doesn’t put much effort into couponing – this is a big deal!


Here is all that I got for my $58. I don’t think it looks like all that much really, but what is important is that everything pictured is stuff that will be used. I’m not stockpiling for winter. I don’t want to put that much effort into clipping coupons.

This is how I do it. Please keep in mind that I go to Food Lion, which may not be available in your area, but maybe my routine is something you can use. Very rarely do I venture out to Wal-Mart, even though it’s only about 10-15 minutes away.

Ibotta has been my savings website of choice for quite a while now. I check out Ibotta, unlock any rebates that I may be interested in. I always unlock the ANY BRAND rebates – they are an easy way to make a little money back if you are getting the basics – usually onions, bread, milk are popular ones. Then I visit Food Lion’s website and log in to my MVP account (MVP is like their customer loyalty program). I don’t view the sale pages – instead I view my virtual wallet and see what coupons I can load electronically to my card. I hate carrying paper coupons.

Usually I’ll cross reference between Ibotta and Food Lion’s MVP Coupons to see what may be available. For example, if Fruit Loops is $1 off at Food Lion and $.25 back at Ibotta, I’ll get Fruit Loops if I need cereal.

I started using two new savings apps the weekend – Checkout 51 and SavingsStar. I am in love with Checkout 51 already. While Checkout 51 doesn’t have as many rebate options as Ibotta, the items up there were ones I needed so it will add up quickly. I’m still on the fence about SavingsStar but since I can cash out when I hit $5, I may keep that one for a while longer.

Once I get to the store, there is a kiosk I can scan my loyalty card at for additional coupons. Most are duds, but Sunday, I hit the jackpot. $1 off 3 avocados. Combine that with $.25 Ibotta rebate on avocados and $1.50 back on 3 avocados (+1 can Ro*Tel) from Cart 51 – that put me getting 3 avocados and a can of Ro*Tel for only $2.81  and I’ll tell you, that made some delicious guacamole for supper.




Another great thing that I want to mention is that because I spent $50 or more during my last 6 shopping trips, I earned a $20 coupon good for my next shopping trip totaling over $20. Considering my pantry is well stocked, I’ll probably end up spending that coupon on fresh produce or maybe something to throw on the grill.

Going back over my receipt, I noticed that Ibotta never credited me for one of my items. I may need to look in to that… :-/

What has been your greatest grocery store savings?