Smart Discounts in San Francisco

Smart Discounts in San Francisco


San Francisco is known the world-over for a unique artistic energy, along with iconic sights like the Golden Gate Bridge and cable cars. It’s not surprising that planning a visit here leaves you with a host of day trip ideas and potentially, a huge bill on your credit card. So it makes sense to check out what discounts are available online and grab yourself a few bargains before you’ve even set off.


A City Pass will almost certainly come in handy for a few days or weeks here, not only for your culture fix at the famous De Young Museum and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, but with family favorites like the Aquarium of the Bay. Pre-bought online passes will also get you discounts on cruise tours and you can get around for free on the city cable cars.


There are a whole range of coupons you can buy to other attractions like Ripley’s Believe it or Not and the Winchester Mystery House. Activities like roller-blading or cycling along the waterfront are great for group visits and cost a lot less if you check your rental options online first.


Eating out in San Francisco is not to be missed and a bit of prior research can save you money on classic American dining, as well as world cuisine in Chinatown and along the Wharf. You can even raise the bar a little and go for a dinner cruise with half-price coupons available on the web. Retail therapy will be much more satisfying with online discounts for everything from sportswear to designer jewelry.


Couponing is becoming a valuable tool in the search for more affordable holidays, and if you’re opting out of restrictive package deals this might be a sound alternative to get the low prices with a bit more flexibility.


Find out more about tickets for the De Young Museum and other attractions before you leave and you’ll enjoy a break that’s both action-packed and cost-effective.


This was a guest post from Sabrina H.  Please contact us if you’re interested in writing a post for us about the best ways to save in your area.

5 Beginner Steps for Reading the Bible



This is a guest post from a new blogging friend of mine and I hope you enjoy it!  If you have any follow-up questions please feel free to contact me.


So there it sits looming in front of you in all its glory and confusion and frustration. It seems an impossible feat to not only read, but actually understand the Bible. Sure it’s intimidating. But it’s also inspiring and filled with hope and love and promise of a future beyond the realm of our mortal minds.


You don’t have to go it alone though. There are a lot of resources to help you along your journey. I’m going to outline five tips to help make Bible study be a little less daunting.


But first, let’s get an understanding of what the Bible is. The Bible is a book that is written to you from God.  There’s the Old Testament which explains the creation of the universe and everything in it, including you and me, God’s law and history. Then there’s the New Testament which discusses in great detail the life of Jesus, His sacrifice and promise to us.


It’s important to understand though that the Bible isn’t one book, but a collection of 66 books that were written by various people {inspired by God} throught various periods in history. It is not arranged in chronological order either, but rather grouped by type of book, such as the gospels, psalms and letters from the apostles. You can see the various types of books that make up the Bible and also get an overview of each book here. Want to dip your toe in a little more? Visit Christianity Today to get a deeper understanding of the messages within each book.


Now for a few tips.


Get an easy-to-understand study Bible. Trying to understand the messages in the Bible is hard enough without trying to decipher an older version of English. There are many, many translations of the Bible and everyone has their opinion of which is best. I prefer the New International Version (NIV) Life Application Study Bible, which is actually the best-selling English version. Not only is it written in more modern English, there are timelines, an introduction to each book, bios of key people and lots and lots of footnotes that explains the verses in a little more depth. You can see a list of more Bible versions here.


Work in small steps. You could start at the beginning and just read cover to cover, and while your head probably won’t explode, this isn’t a great way to fully process and truly appreciate the Bible your first time through. The NIV Study Bible has a 365-day reading plan in the back. It takes you through the Bible in a more chronological order by grouping verses and chapters that pertain to each other and although you won’t go through every single verse in a year, you will get a great overview of the entire Bible.


Start with the New Testament. Written by those who lived alongside Jesus, the New Testament talks about the life and teachings of Jesus, rather than the history of Israel. Don’t get me wrong, the Old Testament is important, but the New Testament is a much easier read.


Find a study partner. If you don’t have a friend or family member who’s willing to study with you, there are plenty of groups online and in your Church where you can bounce ideas off each other, try to make sense of certain sections or just talk about how the Bible translates into this modern world. {Embracing Beauty recommends Good Morning Girls}


There you have it. Four tips that will get you well on your way to studying and actually comprehending the Bible in no time. Remember, it’s a journey and there’s no finish line. Studying the Bible can be a lifelong process that opens you up to a new meanings each time you take on a different journey in your own life. It’s there to uplift you and give you comfort in times of need, give you understanding in times of confusion and hope in times of despair.  God wants a relationship with you, reading His Word is a great way to get to know Him!


PR strategist turned stay-at-home mommy blogger, Momma on the Rocks now spends her days changing diapers, wiping boogies and blogging about motherhood, including recipes for the lazy, money and time-saving ideas, and product and book reviews.  You can find more of her antics on Facebook and Twitter.

The 5 “S”s to Savings



If you have been thinking about starting you & your family on a shopping budget, then couponing is definitely something you should look into doing. Couponing is a great way to save a few bucks at the grocery store. Just remember, you don’t need to start out buying 30 bottles of mustard, start small, and evaluate your family’s needs. If you’re a beginner couponer, here are some tips you might find helpful:


Search – Where to get my coupons?

Well, this would be the best (and obvious) place to start because without coupons you simply cannot save money on groceries. You should definitely also take advantage of printing coupons off the internet. You are allowed 2 prints per coupon per computer. There are also a few other ways you can get your coupons besides just buying newspapers. Check out Embracing Beauty’s post Where to Find Coupons for more creative ideas.


Sample – Try new things

The one thing I have learned from years of couponing is that you have to be open to trying new brands and products. First off, you will save more money and second, you will open your mind (and tummy) to products you never knew existed. For example, my household were Scott’s snobs (yes I’m talking about TP), until one week my store ran a sale on Marcal (it was during dollar days) so essentially, the Marcal TP was FREE, so I decided to try some, we used it and liked it, we saved a ton of money and tried something new! Now if someone asks if I’m brand loyal, I always say “Yes, to whichever brand is on sale that week!”


Schedule Meals – Plan ahead

Planning your weekly menu, based on the coupons you have, is another great way to maximize your savings. For Example: I purchased Chicken Thighs for $0.69 lb for a 4 lb package (when it was on sale) at that price, I bought 4 packages. Then I cut up some Onions ($1.49 Bag) Carrots ($0.75 Bag) I added some spices and put it in the crock pot. I made enough that I froze the remaining leftover for another day in the week. Total spent making that meal, $5.00!!!



When we are able to purchase products for free or at a very low price we purchase multiple items of it. Sales of products go in cycles. If you’ve got a coupon for basic non-perishable items such as toothpaste, Toilet paper and paper towels, take advantage of them even if you aren’t running low on supplies yet. There’s nothing wrong with stocking up on some items if you know you’ll eventually use them.



Remember that the ultimate goal behind couponing is to save money! Just because there is a coupon, don’t feel obligated to use it. You maximize your savings by pairing up your coupons with your store’s sale cycle. Always remember, if you do overbuy (which I think all of us do when we first start out) it’s OK, you can donate what you will not use before expiration to a charity.


This is a guest post from B and V Savings.  They strive to bring you the very best (and most reliable) coupons, samples and freebies around. Together they have saved their families over $6500.00+ in groceries. Their goal is to spread their knowledge and provide tools to help you save!

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Bread Recipe


I get asked a lot of questions about being Gluten Free and why I eat that way. Being Gluten Free means you are not eating/drinking anything that contains wheat, malt, barley, rye or oats. You are not cutting carbs, you are just replacing the things like breads and cereals and noodles with things that are made with other grains and starches like potatoes, rice, quinoa ect. Now lets pause because this is my biggest question and pet peeve- it is not meant to be used as the latest weight loss diet! As I just mentioned you are still taking in carbs you are just substituting for different ones. In fact a serving of GF bread actually has more carbs then a serving of regular bread (see more GF bread info here).


Now why eat Gluten Free if it isn’t for weight loss? For some it is literally a fact of life or death. There is a serious disease called Celiac- which attacks the villa in your lower intestines and makes it so your body can not absorb the nutrients you need. You are literally starving yourself and 99% of those who have this disease do not even know it. There are over 300 symptoms which range from mal nutrition, to depression, to anemia, fatigue, and severe stomach pains. But you can also have something call Gluten Intolerance. This is just as bad as Celiac and should never be down played. Gluten Intolerance and Celiac have a lot of the same symptoms and if not taken care of can lead to other issues like Diabetes and thyroid issues among other things. You can find out more by going to this post. If you find this is something you may be dealing with please please please- go talk to your doctor and get tested for Celiac. Celiac is a genetic so if you have it, chances are others in your family have it and don’t know it!


Since going gluten free I have had fun trying to convert some of our favorite recipes into Gluten Free ones. But I have also experimented some. Today I wanted to share with you our new favorite bread. This is an Apple Cinnamon Bread that I tried out a few weeks ago and is a big hit! You can use regular flour but I listed what kind of flour I used.


  • 1 1/2 cups of an all purpose flour (I used Gluten Free Pantry from Glutino)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup applesauce
Preheat oven to 350


In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients. Add in the egg, butter and applesauce and mix well. The dough should be about a pudding consistency.


Pour dough into a greased bread pan (it will be about half full). Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour (knife will come out clean). Move to a cooling rack and let cool completely before serving.


I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does!


About Me: I am a stay at home mother of two and a wife of a Law Enforcement Officer. I started Gluten Free for Jen to share the adventures of my family and some of our favorite recipes since going Gluten Free. My daughter (Jen) and I were diagnosed with Gluten Intolerance in May 2011 (I have a sister with Celiac that was diagnosed Jan 2011). I wanted to be able to share how you can eat healthy, organic and gluten free while being on a budget. I also will share photos, and crafts and just a peek into the crazy life we live!

Frugal Food Allergy Living: Well-Stocked Pantry

Stocked Pantry


This is the last week for my guest posting stump for Embracing Beauty.  I am so grateful to Ashley for this opportunity to share my experiences with food allergies and frugality.  I hope that it has been helpful to you as well.  Many blessings to you, Ashley, and your sweet family.


If you want to know more about food allergies and how to live frugally with them, you can find me everyday at The Willing Cook.  If you ever have any questions or requests, don’t hesitate to let me know.


I came across a post recently that mentions the cost savings of having a well-stocked pantry/freezerand I thought that it would be a great “extra” post for the Frugal Food Allergy Living series.

Frugal Food Allergy Living

Living a frugal lifestyle can be a daunting task.  Throw in food allergies and you have a real challenge on your hands.  But challenges are good, right?  Personally, I get a sense of satisfaction out of saving a few dollars at the grocery store, especially allergy-friendly foods, and creating healthy, safe and delicious foods for my family.


It is easier to accomplish frugal food allergy living when most of your ducks are in a row.  On top of the list is having a well-stocked pantry.  While it is an inconvenience to not have enough eggs for the cookies you are making to take to your son’s birthday party at school, you can always borrow an egg from a neighbor.  What if your son has an egg allergy and you are completely out of egg replacer? You can’t simply borrow egg replacer.


Having a well-stocked pantry is…

  • Convenient
  • Saves money
  • Essential for food allergies


A well-stocked pantry is convenient.  There is no arguing with this point.  It’s a pain to be in the middle of cooking and realize that you are missing a key ingredient.  It can change an entire dish.


A well-stocked pantry saves money.

  1. You can stock up on the pantry essentials when they are on sale, instead of being forced to pay full price.  If you find that you have to make a quick trip up to the over-priced corner store to pick up that missing item, you are going to pay more.
  2. You save on gas and time when you don’t have to make that spur-of-the-moment trip to the grocery store for that one missing item.
  3. If you have to make a quick run to the store, you are more prone to put other items into your basket that may not be on your grocery budget.


A well-stocked pantry is essential for food allergies.

  1. There are not always easy substitutions for missing allergy foods.  Substituting for the “real” thing is simply not an option; in fact, it is dangerous.
  2. You cannot easily borrow an ingredient from a neighbor.
  3. The small corner grocery store is less likely to carry a good selection of allergy-friendly foods causing you to make a trip to the larger grocery store.
  4. Specialty allergy foods are not always the cheapest products on the grocery shelves.  It is good to save a little money by stocking up when they go on sale, not in a last minute state of desperation.

Here is my list for a well-stocked food allergy pantry that I posted a while back.


What can you add to this list? What are your reasons for having a well-stocked pantry?  What do you include in your well-stocked pantry that I don’t have on my list?


Frugal Food Allergy Living: Avoid Restaurants?

Food Allergies & Dining Out


Wow! I can’t believe there is only one week left in this series and in my guest posting.  It has been fun for me to write and share this information with the Embracing Beauty readers.  I hope that you have benefited from it.  If you have any further questions or suggestions on the topic, don’t hesitate to let me know.  I’m happy to continue with this series as long as needed in order to cover all the basis.


If you are just now tuning into the series on Frugal Food Allergy Living, you can read more on food allergies and living frugally at The Willing Cook.

Frugal Food Allergy Living

From the original post Food Allergies and Budgets:

Avoid Restaurants
In our home, the possibility of cross-contamination carries too much of a risk just for the convenience.  Plus, I can fix dinner for my family of 5 for about the same price as 1 Happy Meal.

We have two main reasons for avoiding restaurants: food allergies and money.  If we didn’t have food allergies with which to contend and an abundance of money, we might frequent restaurants much more often.  But that is not our situation, and we are fine with it.

Restaurants and Food Allergies:

  • You truly never know what you’re going to get.  I have heard numerous stories, including our own experience, when you think a meal is safe and ends up tragic.
  • A new chef/cook at a restaurant that has always been “safe,” can change up the ingredients in a familiar dish.  I was told a story of this happening to a man with a peanut allergy that ended in his tragic death (The pharmacist told me this story after my son was in the ER for his anaphylactic reaction at a restaurant.  Maybe not the best story to tell an already anxious mother.)
  • You can tell a server of your food allergies, but they either don’t care or don’t understand the acute danger of it.  There was a recent news story of a woman dying in Israel from a nut allergy at a restaurant after informing her server of her allergy, but was served it anyway.
  • All your ducks could be in a row, yet there is still a risk of cross-contamination.  Cross-contamination can be in the form of sharing serving utensils with allergy food, allergy food on the same grill as your “safe” food or many other possibilities.
  • Unknown ingredients.  If you are not able to read the packaging from which the food comes, you cannot be certain of it’s safety.  Bread/buns with a milk ingredient is a good example of this.

Restaurants and Budgets

  • I have heard news reports that low-income families cannot afford healthy food, so that is why they tend to be overweight and/or make poor food choices.  I do not completely buy this.  While it might be the case that food stamps do not cover healthier food options (the specifics of this, I do not know), there are still inexpensive options with fresh produce and manager special meat.  I could get on a soapbox about this, but I will refrain from that here.
  • I have figured out that I can easily feed my family of 5 a nutritious and tasty dinner for less than the price of a value meal at McDonald’s.  You can read this post on a recent weekly menu where we only spent $30 for 5 meals for our family.  It is so easy to do.
  • Eating out is expensive! Period.  You can try to mimic a favorite restaurant dish at home by simply googling the recipe.

The Exceptions

  • Sometimes it’s just nice to be able to get away from home and enjoy someone else serving you.  You have to budget for it though and you have to be practical about what you can afford.
  1. Don’t buy the lobster tail when you should settle for salmon.
  2. Skip the appetizer, dessert and drinks, and have them at home instead before/after you go.
  3. Be selective about your restaurant.  If you don’t go out to eat very often, save this special treat for a place that you know will end in an enjoyable meal.
  4. If you know you should cut this expense out of your budget, try it slowly.  If you go out to eat once or twice per week, slowly knock it down to once or twice a month.
  5. Look for coupons.  GrouponLiving Social and are great websites for finding restaurant coupons.  Some large cities have city-specific deals websites too.
  • As far as food allergies go, I have read that chain restaurants typically have specific protocols in place for food preparation, ingredients, etc., making them a possibly “safer” choice.  Note that I said “typically.”  Many restaurants have their menus online with ingredient information that you can check before going.
  • Allergy Eats is an online guide to allergy friendly restaurants.  You can read personal reviews of many restaurants and leave your own.
  • When in doubt, bring your own food (or your child’s food) to a restaurant.  Let your server know of your food allergies and ask if they mind that you brought your own food.  This is especially the case if you have to go to a restaurant for a special occasion/gathering.  Most of the time, restaurants are relieved.

Finally, always carry your allergy rescue medication with you!  It can save a life!


Do you have any experience or suggestions to add about avoiding restaurants in order to live a frugal food allergy life?


Our final post in the Frugal Food Allergy Living series next week: Prepare Food from Scratch.

Frugal Food Allergy Living: Shop Grocery Ads

How to Shop Grocery Ads Like a Pro


In case you missed it, you can read the first post, Food Allergies and Budgets, from this guest post series.  You can read more on the subject of food allergies at The Willing Cook, including budget & cooking tips, recipes, personal stories and more.


Frugal Food Allergy Living

Last week, I asked the question of whether it is possible to be frugal and have food allergies? When faced with the reality of “specialty” foods, how can you possibly stick to a strict budget?  Today, we start breaking down the brief list of how you can begin and stick to a food allergy budget.  Of course, none of these suggestions are specific to food allergy shoppers.  They are great tips for everyone to follow.  However, if you find that you are having a hard time keeping a budget as you incorporate food allergies into your life, these suggestions are a great place to start.


On the initial list of how to have food allergies and a budget was “Shop the Grocery Ads.”

As soon as the week’s ads come out, take 15 minutes to find the best deals.  Circle each item or write it down and indicate if you have a coupon for it.  Try to minimize buying non-sale items.

Where to Shop the Grocery Ads:

  • Many cities deliver paper copies of the grocery ads at the end of each week for the upcoming week’s sales.  If this is not the case where you live, almost all grocery stores have websites where they publish their ads the first day the sales start.
  • In many cases, you can do a google search, such as “Meijer grocery ad June 12” and come up with a number of websites or coupon blogs that have the deals listed for you.  You will find a variety of features on these blogs, including customized printable grocery list, coupon match-ups, and more.  Some blogs that I suggest are EmbracingBeauty, Money Saving MomSouthern SaversFaithful Provisions, and Happy Homemaker Cindy (note: some of these sites are region-specific).
  • The best deal on certain products may not be in a store at all.  I have heard from a number of people that Amazon has some good deals (they rotate) on allergy-friendly foods, especially if you use the “subscribe & save” feature.  I have not personally bought allergy foods from amazon as I have always found better deals at my local stores, but it may be a good choice for people with few local store options.
  • Along with Amazon, there are many other online stores that sell organic or allergy-friendly foods.  Saving Naturally is a great source for the best deals on a variety of these type of stores, including the Amazon deals.

How to Shop the Grocery Ads:

  1. Once you have located the grocery ads (either paper copy or online source), start scouring the ads for products that you use or buy frequently.
  2. Circle the items that are a good price and indicate how many of that item you will purchase.*
  3. Look through your stash of coupons (we will discuss coupons next week) and match-up what you have with what items you have circled.  If using an online coupon source, print out any available coupons that match your selections.
  4. Organize your coupons according to number, type and store.  This really helps with the amount of time you spend in the store, especially if you are fortunate to have kids in tow.
  5. In some cases, there might be a coupon code available for online stores.  Do searches for these codes as you might be able to get a percentage off your total or free shipping.

Learning to Shop the Grocery Ads:

  • After repeat exposure to the grocery ads over time, you will start to see a cycle.  Every few months, stores cycle through their product deals.  If you find a good deal on a particular item, try to stock up on it until the next cycle.
  • You will also start noticing what really is a good sale and what can wait for a better price.*
  • If comparing between multiple stores, you may see deals rotate on opposite weeks as they compete for your business.
  • Once you begin your shopping, it is very important that you stick to your list and the grocery ads.  This is the only way you will stay on your budget, especially if you’re “prone to wander.”

*Note: Grocery prices are on the rise, so a current price may or may not be the best you are going to get.  It’s the risk you take in buying now or waiting.  If it appears to be the rock-bottom price, see if your budget will allow you to stock up.


Have I missed anything from you seasoned food allergy budget shoppers?

Up next week: Frugal Food Allergy Living: Use Coupons


Colors Can Be Spiritual Too: Finding Books with Eternal Value

Today’s guest post is from a “virtual friend” of mine, Rivka.  Don’t  you just love that name? : )  Rivka Kawano is a mom of three blessings, all age three and under, who is always striving to find the best books for them to grow on.  Her book review website,, is a way for her to keep track of all those books and ideas and share them with other parents too.  I think you’ll find her post to be a blessing!

Kids books are nothing special. A way to keep the little ones entertained, teach them their colors and numbers, and give mom and dad five minutes of quiet.


What if we started thinking of the books our children read as so much more than that. What if we realized that every image, every word, every concept, is developing their mind and helping to create the person they will become. What if we acknowledged that we are sending them messages, some overt and some very subtle, about how we feel about the world and each person’s place in it. I think we could start a revolution.

Think I am being overly dramatic? What kind of message do your children get if every book they own show only children of their own skin color – especially if those books are talking about things like God’s love? When you tell children that neatness counts, and we should always do our best, do you think they don’t notice that when a book is just a cut and paste commercialization throwing colors and numbers on a page? If listening is important, why is it so funny in a book when a child does not listen?

Our heavenly Father has given us parents such a gift and such a responsibility. The books that we chose for our children are a part of that too. We need to invest the time and effort that it takes to find good ones that are falling in line with the lessons we are trying to teach them. Even if it is just a book about colors or shapes.

Deciding to find great books is one thing. Finding them is quite another. It can be done! How do we decide which books are good and which aren’t? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is this book beautiful? Does it display the fundamental principles of quality workmanship in the way it is crafted?
  2. How will it make your child feel? What emotions does it display? Are these emotions that you want to encourage?
  3. What are the overt values of the book? According to the Bible, witchcraft is not good, does this book support that idea or contradict it? Do the themes of the book themselves undermine good spiritual principles?
  4. What are the underlying values of the book? Do the characters in the book show respect and love for each other? If not what are the consequences? What is “good” and what is “bad” in this book? Do the definitions of the book agree with the Word of God?
  5. What will your child learn from reading this book with you? Animals, numbers, letters, shapes, how to feel about a new sibling? Does this book present these things in the most engaging way possible? Does it make learning fun?
  6. How are other people presented in this book? Are any groups excluded, demeaned, or degraded either in the words, or in the way they are presented in the pictures?
  7. Does this book tell the truth? Not to mean that we should never enjoy fiction, but does it share the bigger capital ‘T’ Truth that God made the world, that He loves us, and does it fairly represent other ideas and people?

Always preview books before showing them to your children. Children are easily enticed by bright colors and fun-looking characters. It is so much harder to have to take a book away from a child, once they are excited about it, than it is to take the time to see what its contents are before theMom and Daughter Readingy even get the chance.

Always pay attention to what your child is telling you. My three year old has amazing discernment. Perhaps it is because he is less jaded, but often early on in a video program or book he will say “this is too scary for me,” or “this is for grown-ups.” When I have laughed it off as childhood silliness, I have regretted it. If your child is sending you the message that they don’t feel comfortable with a book, perhaps they are seeing something you are not – and you should listen.

It is important that we agree with God and His word in all things. If children are a blessing, then you should not be choosing books that display a new baby as a bad thing. If God made all the people of the world, then one group or another should not be regularly marginalized or made fun of. If hurting each other or being hurt is not part of God’s plan, then it should not be funny to read books, tell jokes, or see shows that laugh at other’s pain.

Finding great books can seem overwhelming at times. Schedule outings without kids to browse books at the bookstore or library. Ask trusted friends and family for recommendations. Or follow a book review website that shares your values.

When you take the time you will be rewarded in so many ways. Not only will you be filling your home with positive messages, but your children will learn to love and value literature, and how to view it critically. The books you do have will get plenty of use as they are enjoyed again and again.

Story books are important, most of the Bible is stories. Make sure the books building your children’s character are good ones.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philipians 4:8 (NIV)

Food Allergies and Budgets

Budgets and Allergies


Hello! My name is Michelle, guest posting for Ashley while she’s on maternity leave.  Congratulations, Ashley!  I blog about living with food allergies and how to do so on a budget at The Willing Cook.  I’m the mom of three children, one of whom has severe food allergies, as does my husband.  The Willing Cook is my story.


I have been doing a series called “Frugal Food Allergy Living” for the past few weeks and Ashley asked that I share my knowledge with you.  I want my food allergy readers to understand that you can still maintain a frugal lifestyle/strict budget when living with food allergies.  Thank you, Ashley, for allowing me to share my knowledge with your readers.



Is it possible to stick to a strict budget or be frugal and have food allergies?


The simple answer is “yes.”


Do you or someone you love have food allergies and have a strict budget?  When faced with the reality of food allergies, it seems impossible to live on a budget.  Actually, budgeting for food allergies does not have to be much different from budgeting for normal groceries.  There are a few easy ways you can live without fear of mounting debt (or starvation) and produce good, healthy food.


Before employing any of these methods to lower your grocery budget, for food allergy families in particular, you cannot compare yourself to someone else’s grocery budget who does not have food allergies.  There will be a discrepancy and that’s just the way it is.  But you have to take every opportunity available to you as a food allergy shopper to save a buck.  You know the old saying, “a penny saved is a penny earned.”


Now, for that list…


1.   Shop the Grocery Ads
As soon as the week’s ads come out, take 15 minutes to find the best deals.  Circle each item or write it down and indicate if you have a coupon for it.  Try to minimize buying non-sale items.


2.   Use Coupons
Coupons for allergy-friendly foods are few, but they aren’t completely non-existent.  When there is an allergy coupon, ask friends and family for their extra.  I do not purchase a Sunday paper because I don’t like buying it when I may barely break even.  A neighbor gives me her coupons or I check the recycling center.  Another resource is the online coupon sites.  Also, coupons for toiletry and household products can help reduce the budget.  Every dollar saved helps and it adds up!


3.  Shop “Manager Specials”
Many grocery stores have set times for selling their marked down products that are nearing expiration, dented, or being discontinued.  Buy expiring meat and produce (like bell peppers or onions) and freeze or cook immediately .  Sometimes, you may find allergy-friendly products being cleared off the shelf (I scored Gluten-Free Bisquick for $1.99, regularly $5.39.  My husband was thrilled…for the whole 16 ounces!).   A coupon for a “Manager Special,” may make it free!


4.  Make Homemade Gluten-Free Flour
Pre-packaged gluten-free flours are pricey.  A coffee bean grinder and whole grains/nuts can be a wonderful way to save money and enjoy various “flour” dishes.  I use a coffee bean grinder to make all my gluten-free flour because I already had it when I started this process.  You can also use a grain mill.


5.  Shop Around
Do not be product or store loyal, if possible.  Shop at many stores in order to get the best deals (Asian grocers, Aldi, Costco, etc).


6.  Avoid Restaurants
In our home, the possibility of cross-contamination carries too much of a risk just for the convenience.  Plus, I can fix dinner for my family of 5 for about the same price as 1 Happy Meal.


7.  Prepare Food from Scratch
Avoid pre-packaged or processed foods, even allergy-friendly foods.  They are pricey and generally not the healthiest for you, especially when avoiding multiple allergens.  Stick with fresh meat and produce, dry beans, bulk rice, and oats, for example.


One final note, don’t be afraid to experiment in the kitchen, especially when you’re getting used to cooking allergy-free on a budget.  Try to avoid getting into a dinner rut.  Look through cookbooks and online recipe sites for some ideas.  The recipe might not be allergy-specific, but don’t be afraid to make substitutions.  Do your best, and take the good with the bad.


These are the methods that we use in our food allergy home, but we’re not perfect.  You might just find a Happy Meal toy (or two) floating around our house.


What methods do you employ in your home to lower your grocery bill, allergy-family or not?


Next Friday, I will continue with this series and begin breaking down the bullet points into more detail.  First up is “Shopping the Grocery Ads.”


St. Patty’s May Be Gone But Irish Spirits Stay in Style

This is a guest post from my friend Maggie Durango.  I’ve visited Ireland a few times and I absolutely loved it over there.  They have friendly people, a rich heritage, and a beautiful breath-taking country!  I hope you’ll enjoy this post about displaying your Irish pride.

A picture of me in Ireland

I’m here to promote the idea that those of us with Irish in our blood and proud of it need not wait for the arrival of St. Patrick’s to display our love of the old country. Unfortunately anybody who sports a grass-green article of clothing outside the month of March is typically going to draw unwanted attention or repel all attention entirely. But there’s a reliable item that will not only cease to be stylish, but will allow you to flaunt your heritage all year round without being mistaken for a cult member.

I’m talking about emerald jewelry. Emerald the gem is itself not associated with Ireland as far as where to find it goes. But the allure of the emerald has for many generations now attracted the smiling Irish eyes of many an immigrant and their descendants. The stone stirs in the blood of the Irish thoughts of the lush green hills and fields rolling out to the rocky outlands of Ireland’s shores. It was indeed Irish poet William Drennan who made the first known association between his land and emerald. It’s been the gem of the Irish ever since.

Emerald inherently catches the eye, but its luster is as humble as it is majestic. This is because of the signature green hue, which has been the obvious color representation of the natural world for ages. There’s a certain down-to-earth harmony of the emerald that defines Irish sensibilities and the Irish culture in general. Blue sapphires, rubies, and other vivid gems are all beautiful in their own right, but emerald alone exhibits the overarching beauty of nature condensed into one fragment of earthly rock.

Emerald rings, inlaid brooches, necklaces, and earrings, all do a wonderful job of exhibiting proud Irish heritage without making a fuss about it. If St. Patrick’s Day is the opportunity to display your pride extravagantly, the other 364 days of the year are for simply being Irish and unassumingly so as any good Irish does. The emerald represents the eternal bond between Ireland and her children. Be a good child of the Emerald Isle and take a piece of her wherever you go.