Food on a budget tip 7: Compare prices and units

If you want to save money while grocery shopping for food, you should take the time to compare prices and units. If you want to save money shopping, you need to realize it takes time, practice, some math, and a bit of common sense.

I went to Walmart the other day to quickly pick up some items and I noticed many people grabbing bags of  produce instead of loose produce weighed on the scale. I don’t know their line of thinking, but more than likely they saw a large bag of produce for a fairly low price and thought it was a great deal. It is easy to just grab a bag and go, but if you are a budget shopper like me, you know things are not what they always seem. 

The Breakdown 

food on a budget compare units and prices


The first thing I saw when I walked in the produce section was this large bag of about 8 oranges for 6.98. You would think because it was front and center it was the best deal in the section. Nope. This was not the best deal. If you do the math, the oranges are about 87 cents each. 



food on a budget: compare price and unitWhen I walked further down into the section and down the aisle, I found the best deal for oranges. Loose oranges were .68 cents a pound. Which meant I could get 8 oranges for $5.44 or 10 oranges for $6.80.  I would save $1.54 if I purchased 8 oranges or if I wanted to get more oranges for about the same cost of the prepackaged oranges I would have saved 18 cents. So depending on where you stand on shopping on a budget scale, you might purchase more oranges or the same number of oranges. 



Who cares? 

You might be wondering why you should spend time comparing prices and units. Well,  if you are like me and on a very strict budget, every cent counts. If I use this method for everything I purchase I can easily save over $10 per shopping trip and that is without coupons. Ten dollars may seem like a small number, but if you go to the grocery store five times a month, that is $50 saved.  I also like  the fact I am  able to pick and choose my produce, making sure everything is fresh and unspoiled. 

I also used this method for household and packaged food items. I often spend time comparing brands, ounces, price per unit, and ingredients. For example, I wanted to get Greek yogurt, but was torn between the 24 ounce vanilla Walmart  brand at $3 and the 32 ounce plain Oikos brand a $4. In the end I decided I was willing to pay $1 extra for the Oikos yogurt that was free of corn syrup/all other unnecessary ingredients and  bigger in size. I paid an extra dollar for a healthier option and a larger container that would last me longer, meaning I wouldn’t have to buy more yogurt the next grocery trip. 

Will you try it?

You would be surprised how far you can stretch your dollar. I sometimes make a game of it. Each month when I review how much I spent in each budget category, I love see that I saved money in groceries. The extra money, I either apply to my savings, roll over to my next month’s grocery budget, or treat myself to something nice. When I go over, I reflect on what was different for that month and I push myself to improve the next month. 

A little homework for you. Next time you go grocery shopping pay closer attention to the brands, ounces, price per unit, and ingredients. Use your math skills and common sense to figure out what options are best for your budget. 

Let me know how it works for you! 


An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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Photo Credit: Lisa-Marie Pierre


Guest post: Food on a budget tip 6: Saving extremely at Target

I’m glad to introduce Abby Ferri as the guest blogger for today. Abby and I have corresponded virtually for awhile now on Twitter and on each other’s blogs because we both are into natural living and health.  When she wrote a blog post on how she saved money using coupons, I knew I had to invite her over here to share her tips.

Enjoy her couponing tips and leave a comment about your coupon strategies!

By now it seems that most of us are familiar with “couponing” as a verb through shows like Extreme Couponing or even Kourtney Kardashian’s attempts chronicled on Keeping Up With the Kardashians a few seasons ago. I’m not going to lie; it was the latter that gave me the final push to get out the scissors!!

Couponing has become so easy with apps like Target’s Cartwheel, Ibotta, Shopkick, and sites like and Most sites allow you to login using your Facebook or Google+ profile, so you don’t need to worry about remembering yet another username and password.

As I alluded to earlier, I started couponing because I saw a Kardashian do it. Call me superficial, but prior to that, I felt that using a handful of coupons at checkout made you look poor and that wasn’t a look I was going for. After having my first child, a lot of appearance concerns have gone completely out the window! Becoming financially responsible, saving money, and still buying high quality food are my priorities.

As a Target devotee, the Target cliché became true for me – every Target shopping excursion resulted in my wallet being at least $100 lighter. Last summer, as I scoured the aisles of my local Target for a specific item, a sales clerk suggested I download the Target Cartwheel app to save some money. I downloaded it right away via the in-store WiFi and was hooked.

The Carthwheel app was a gateway for me. I applied for a Target RedCard to get an extra 5% off of every purchase, which includes alcohol for those of us in areas where Target can serve the “good stuff.”

In each Target shopping trip since that first download, I have spent less than $100. This completely blows me away. There was even a day where I saved nearly $50!!!

Here’s my Target savings strategy:

  1. CARTWHEEL:  Scroll through the Cartwheel app to find out what is on sale. I sort the items on the app by “highest discount” to see the heavy hitters. Cartwheel then becomes my shopping list I refer to while in the store.
  2. WEEKLY AD:  I view the ad through the Target app on my phone, I look for two things:                                                                                                                                                             a.  Items on sale that week that are also on discount through Cartwheel or have a Target Mobile Coupon    available.                                                                                                  b.  Items that have a Target gift card deal associated with them and are also on discount through Cartwheel.
  3. MOBILE COUPONS:  I view these through the Target app too. Often, the coupons match with items discounted through Cartwheel. 
  4. TARGET.COM COUPONS: You must install their Catalina Coupon Printer, but it’s quick and worth it.
  5. MANUFACTURER COUPONS:  I then check online coupon sites for manufacturer coupons for the items on my Cartwheel list or that have Target gift card deals. A great site to start your search is, she lists a lot of combination deals for you so you don’t have to search. Other sites I use are,, and I also keep up with brands that I buy often like Coffeemate Creamer; they always have a coupon you can download for their products.
  6. CATALINA COUPONS:  When you’re in the store, look for manufacturer’s coupons attached to the packaging. I find these often on paper products like toilet paper and recently scored BIG on some Gevalia coffee with a $2 off coupon attached to the package, 10% off on Cartwheel, a coupon, plus 5% off with RedCard. DO NOT be ashamed to pick through the stock on the shelf to find the items with coupons attached!!

The day I saved $50, I employed all of these strategies to get a great deal on diapers, toilet paper, and paper towels. This was huge for me as it was in October and I was already anticipating my holiday season visitors. The supplies I bought carried me through the holidays!

 I saved BIG on diapers that day.

  • I had a high value coupon from Pampers for $5 off any size box of Swaddlers.
  • Target was running a gift card deal – buy 2 boxes and get a $15 Target gift card. Pampers were also 5% off through Cartwheel, plus my 5% off with my RedCard.
  • There was a similar deal on toilet paper and paper towels – buy 3 of any combination and get a $5 Target gift card, a manufacturer’s $1 off Catalina coupon, 5% off on Cartwheel, plus my RedCard’s 5% off.

Using these strategies, I regularly save at least $20 per Target visit. Once you master the flow of using these strategies, it feels natural, and you’ll feel great about how much money you are saving.


Abby Ferri target coupon tips*** Abby Ferri | @abbyferri  | Google+ | LinkedIn

Abby Ferri is an independent safety and health expert, technical writer, social media enthusiast, and aspiring renaissance woman. She is a work-at-home mom who is able to maintain her foothold in the industry that has given her so much. As an independent safety and health expert, she is able to provide expertise that only one who has literally been in the trenches can impart. Abby is able to indulge her many varied passions to further her path to truly becoming a modern-day renaissance woman!




Photo Credit: Stephanie Fink


11 things to reflect upon on the 4th anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti

January 12, 2014, marks four years since the earthquake in #Haiti claimed and disrupted many lives. After sharing your sympathies, anger, sadness, and disappointment, think of ways beyond today that you can help Haiti.

It can be as simple as donating to worthy organization, investing, supporting a local business, volunteering, or just visiting the country to see for your own eyes what the country is about; not relying on mainstream media.

Reflecting on the state of Haiti today and thinking about future natural disasters, below are some things I think are of importance:

1. NGO/Government/Organization Presence. Billions of dollars were pledged and donated to Haiti and it is still unclear where all the money went. These questionable financial practices and strategies need to be challenged. Are these outside organizations effective?

2. Land tenure/housing/planning. Settling and building homes without heeding to zoning and construction codes, will cause problems in the future as more natural disasters hit the island. In addition, a clear understanding of land ownership could help alleviate some of the problems. A comprehensive plan that is enforced would be beneficial.

3. Governance. Haiti’s government officials need to take control. Who really is leading the country? Outsiders or Haitians? NGOs and foreign governments need to let go of the money, their policies, and let the Haitian government independently manage the country.

4. Food. Inexpensive imports coupled with international aid has made it difficult for the agriculture industry to stand on its own. There needs to be agricultural investment and return to supporting locally produced food. The imported food may be cheaper than the locally produced food, but it is not the same quality; local food is better quality. There also needs to be restoration of irrigation systems, watersheds, etc.

5. Transportation/Infrastructure. Electricity needs to be steady. Transportation systems could improve the traffic; perhaps bring back the rail system. Roads need to be repaired and improved.

6. Culture. People have good intentions when they come into another country. They want to help, but in helping, there needs to be a respect for culture; what works in one country, may not work in another. As Haiti opens its doors for tourism and future aid, preservation of music, food, language, art, etc should be stressed.

7. Environment. In my opinion restoration of the environment is the most important factor. With climate change Haiti will continue to face natural disasters and there needs to be a plan to replant trees, restore soil quality, improve biodiversity,improve waste management, etc. There needs to be a smarter use of natural resources and energy alternatives for those who use trees for charcoal.

8. Justice. In the aftermath of destruction, there are people who get marginalized. There needs to be a mindfulness of women’s rights, those who are disabled, and also those living in extreme poverty. These groups and others often are silenced.

9. Education. A strong educational system is key for any country, but there should be jobs available for those who complete their schooling. Also, in the wake of a disaster, there should be plans in place to accommodate displaced students.

10. Diaspora. The diaspora is vast. More involvement and pulling of resources will be beneficial to rebuilding efforts.

11. The Good. There are good things happening, so lets showcase that more.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but over the past few weeks of reading reports and articles, these are issues that stood out to me.

I planned on writing a couple of sentences, but I couldn’t help myself, I got too wordy. But, after seeing many people just posting memes and quotes, I thought we should have more meaningful discussions on how to make change!

Feel free to add to the discussion.


An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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Photo Credit: Lisa-Marie Pierre

Lisa, you read too much!

I sat at the kitchen table, doodling, attempting to look uninterested as my mother recalled to her friend a conversation she had with my fourth grade teacher.

“This is Ms. G., I’m calling to talk about Lisa’s behavior.”
“Yes, what is it?”
“Well, Lisa reads too much”
Perhaps hearing the silence on the phone or realizing how silly she must have sounded as an educator to utter those words, Ms. G. quickly went on to say “well, she reads during class and it is distracting.”
After coaxing more of an explanation from Ms. G., my mother asked if I was falling behind in class.
Ms. G. explained that I wasn’t, and despite me reading during lessons, I always got the answers right when she called on me.
My mother wanting to get on with her evening, thanked Ms. G and told her she would speak to me about it.
My mother laughing as she recounted the story to her friend, said “can you believe it? A teacher calling to complain that a student reads too much!?”

What Ms. G. didn’t know was that my mother had books called “What Every [insert grade] Should Know” and other educational books that my siblings and I had to study and learn before the upcoming school year. If Ms. G. further investigated and tried to understand why I read in class, she would have found I was bored; whatever she was teaching, I had already learned over the summer and when I didn’t read in class it meant it was something I didn’t know. She should have been trying to challenge me instead of bring me down, but I can go on and on about Ms. G.; that is for another day. 

In the end I wasn’t disciplined by my mother, she just told me to pay attention and read on the school bus.

Unfortunately, these conversations happened all the time between me and my mother. For whatever reason, people were bold enough to opine she let me read too much.

They would ask her why I was sitting off to the side reading instead of playing with kids or why she let me read adult fiction books.

I have to give it to her, she never faltered under the pressure and continued to feed my interests in reading; I volunteered at the library, I took books from her own bookshelf, and she and my father even installed a ‘library’ in our basement.

Every time I finish reading a book, I am thankful my mother and father encouraged me to read and they did not pay any mind to the naysayers who thought I read too much.

I’m thankful they understood that I could be as silly as the next child, but when I found a new book, I was confident enough in myself to sit off to the side at birthday parties and read, not caring what everyone thought.

You would think as I got older those type of questions would dissipate, but no, people still say to me “I don’t know how you do it” or “why are you reading if it isn’t for a school assignment?” I want to give some curt response, but instead I just shrug and say I don’t know.

But, maybe next time someone says “Lisa, you read too much.” I will respond “And you [insert word] too much”

Keep reading people! And if you don’t, start.


An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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Photo Credit:  Alan Levine