Right now in our homes, we’re all stressed; the kids, the spouse, our parents. It’s scary and uncertain and there’s a pall of tension over everything, and even mundane tasks like going to the grocery store feel like suiting up for dangerous missions.
Between taking care of the kids, working from home and trying to keep things organized, going to the grocery store was not high on my list of wants, but having food is definitely high on our list of needs. A friend of mine suggested I try Postmates, and they gave me the promo code FOODMATES, which gives $100 off of delivery fees, so I decided it was worth a go. That said, please note this is a sponsored post, but it in no way reflects my view points or opinion.
I had heard of Postmates when I lived in Chicago, as it was a popular courier service, but they’ve branched out and now deliver just about anything, anywhere. This includes food from local restaurants, groceries, medicine, etc so we used them to get our weekly grocery order delivered.
The app is incredibly simple to use and the delivery was fast, no-contact and painless. I didn’t have to fight crowds, wear PPE, or wander around a grocery store – our weekly meal plan was completed with a few clicks of an app.
Plus, by ordering through Postmates, there was no chance I was going to impulse buy anything; I got exactly what I needed and didn’t have to leave the house.
It’s not guided meditation or a 5-mile run, but anything to prevent some stress right now is welcome. Having our groceries delivered by Postmates freed up a huge amount of time in my day, and by using the promo code FOODMATES, I didn’t even have to pay for delivery (though we tipped of course).
Do yourself a favor and give them a try and see how much less stressful your life can be when things you need are brought to you.
$100 Off Delivery Fees from Postmates
Valid for new users only.
Use promo code FOODMATES
Download the iOS (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/postmates-food-delivery/id512393983) or Android (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.postmates.android&hl=en_US) app
While the world is staying safe and keeping our distance, there are still those of us who must go out and work, shop and interact at least in some ways with the outside world. Though we’re all counting the days to when we can get out and mingle again, for right now our trips to the grocery store need to be quick, efficient and frugal.
Grocery Shopping Tips For Quarantine
These tips are designed to help us all make our quarantine grocery shopping healthy, safe and efficient, but they’re useful for when all of this ends as well. Wrangling your grocery excursions each week can save you thousands of dollars over the year and tremendous amounts of waste, and might even improve your health.
Make a meal plan before your grocery list
Everyone knows that you shouldn’t go shopping hungry or thirsty because it increases your chances of impulse buying. Did you know it’s just as detrimental to not have a plan in place for all your groceries?
A good meal plan flows into each day; buying a value pack of ground beef can make burgers one day and the leftovers can be used for chili the next. Cooking a pork roast for dinner on Sunday is perfect to make pulled pork on Monday or Tuesday. Planning meals like this saves money and prevents waste, and it allows you to use fillers like beans or rice to make your meals stretch farther.
Avoid Instacart unless you absolutely cannot
Though it seems like getting your groceries delivered is a great way to save time and minimize risk, ultimately someone else is still out there shopping, meaning even though you’re not exposed, someone else is. Additionally, this person is looking at your list and touching things, putting them back and spending more time in the store than you would because you know where to find your routine purchases.
Services like this also mark up the cost of each individual item and charge you a fee. Combined you might be looking at paying over 20% more than if you had shopped yourself.
For high-risk people, these types of services are likely necessities, but many grocery stores offer special hours for high-risk, elderly and emergency services customers. These are low traffic times with extra precautions taken, so if you can, use these hours to your advantage.
Try expanding meatless Mondays
Meat is usually the most expensive part of a meal and with supply chains becoming hindered, it’s increasingly scarce, limited and costly. Meatless Monday is a popular concept that helps people reduce their carbon footprint, reduce meat intake and increase their vegetable intake for better health.
Beans are a great substitute for meat as they provide proteins and cost dramatically less. Dried beans last a considerable amount of time when properly stored and they’re not difficult to cook at all. When coupled with rice, most beans provide a complete essential protein profile and again, both are pantry staples that last for years.
If you want an idea of how much meat to buy for your family and how much each serving costs, there are calculators online that help with that. Applications like these can show you just how much you spend each week on meat, and how much each serving costs, and you can compare different proteins against each other for cost-effectiveness as well.
Batch cook and streamline
With quarantine days bleeding into each other, it’s best to automate as many healthy practices as possible. Your brain likes to make habits out of the mundane, but different experiences feel more special when we make certain parts of our days automatic.
To this end, making big batches of easy breakfasts and lunches is a great way to eat healthy with little thought and to save money. A big container of tuna salad or a breakfast casserole are both extremely cheap, can feed a family for days and can be tailored to be delicious and healthy. This also makes it so that your dinners or weekend meals are more special, because they differ so dramatically from your daily meals. Canned tuna also keeps for a long time, making it an ideal purchase during quarantine when you want to maximize your shopping trips.
Safety and efficiency
Going to the store should be as quick and efficient as possible. Plan a grocery list based on what you pass by as you flow through the store. Produce and meat are usually on the outside, with pantry staples in the middle of the store.
Take a list to ensure you only need to go past each area once, and don’t waste time browsing. Getting in and out as quickly as possible is your top priority, as is maintaining distance. Going as early as possible is another great idea to minimize interaction with other people and maximize how quickly you can get through the store.
Redefine your overall budget
Your grocery budget should be robust enough to feed your family well, but not bloated and including things you really don’t need. Reconsidering your entire budget is a great step during these quarantine times because money is probably becoming more tight, but even if it’s not, there’s never been a better time to step back and evaluate where your money is going and how it’s working for you.
Take the time to sit with a budget calculator and plug in the data to determine how much you should be spending on groceries versus how much you are, and find ways to make those numbers more closely match up.
Grocery shopping has changed dramatically in a few months, and what was simply another chore has turned into something that begs deeper consideration. You can, however, make it a positive, efficient and money-saving experience with just a little bit of planning, budgeting and forethought.
Cooking is one of the most important skills for literally every single person to learn. The days of hoping you marry someone who can cook are over; even if you do, there will be periods of your life where you’ll need to cook for yourself.
Eating takeout all the time is hard on your wallet and your waistline, and cooking for yourself (or your family) has the benefit of allowing you to know exactly what is going into your meals. Additionally, for people with intolerances or allergies to certain foods, cooking for yourself might be literally lifesaving.
Saving Money by Cooking at Home
Particularly at the time of this writing, quarantine across most of the globe due to COVID-19 has us stuck in our houses, so there’s never been a better time to learn how to cook. Let’s take a look at some ways in which home cooking can benefit you, your wallet and your weight.
Cooking is a must for weight loss
If you’re trying to lose weight, cooking for yourself is the right way to go. Even though most restaurants have calorie and macronutrient breakdowns (fat, protein and carbs), those are still dependent on a chef that goes by exact measurements. A heavy hand with the sauce ladle can tip the calorie count 200 or more, and nobody wants that.
Since weight loss is based mostly on what you put into your body – mainly calories – knowing how many you’re taking in per day can be far more easily measured when you’re cooking for yourself.
Home cooking saves you money
While it’s a great thing to support local restaurants, particularly during these difficult times, you can’t reasonably do it every single day. Cooking is far cheaper than eating out, and it’s not difficult to see why.
When you map out a meal plan – you do make a meal plan each week I hope – you can usually ballpark how much it’s going to cost you. For a family of four, a frugal meal plan can be $100 or less, but to eat out for a family of four might cost upwards of $50 for one meal. The math is plainly obvious; $100 for an entire week of meals, or $50 for one single meal of takeout.
Cooking is so easy to learn
Despite what you may think, cooking isn’t incredibly difficult to learn. There are plenty of places online where you can learn basics of home cooking, even if you’re a complete novice. Youtube is a great place to find beginner recipes, cooking steps, tips and basic information.
For a new cook, one of the most daunting tasks is figuring out how to convert measurements – how many tablespoons in a cup, ounces in a gallon, etc. Having a reliable website to convert measurements is hugely helpful, even for a seasoned cook (or if you’re trying to make cooking fun but educational for the kids!)
The conversion tools at Culinary Schools.org are fantastic for quick conversions, no matter how new to cooking you are. I’ve been cooking for years but there’s times where I’m in the middle of a recipe and simply don’t know how to measure out an ingredient, especially when the directions are using metric versus imperial units.
They’ve also got a handful of weight loss calculators that are perfect for figuring out your macros, your body fat percentage and the amount you can expect to burn from working out. If you’re learning to cook to lose weight, they’ve got all the tools you could possibly need to scientifically progress towards your goal.
No matter what reason you have for embarking on the noble pursuit of learning how to cook, it’s not nearly as hard as you think, and the benefits are enormous. Cooking at home is a powerful, noble life skill, it can save you money and help you become the healthiest version of you. There’s never been a better time to learn how to cook for yourself.
We’re in constant search for things that can save you time or money, and this newest discovery is pretty unique. RepairSmith is a service that is currently based in California (primarily) but will be rolling – that’s a car pun – out to major cities across the US later this year.
Their business is simple; take the mechanic to you, wherever you might be. Their mechanics are highly trained, well-vetted and did we mention they come to you? This means that if your car is stalled in your driveway or in the parking garage of your work, you can get it fixed right there. Their vans are exceptionally cool – equipped with a small mechanic’s shop worth of tools, diagnostic equipment and parts, their site boasts that they can handle 85% of common repairs wherever, whenever. They’re open 7 days a week, so even on a Sunday they can get you moving again, and if they can’t fix it on-site, they’ll bring you to one of their partner shops to get it worked on there.
– Brake pads and rotors
– Fluid fills and changes, including oil changes
– Alternator replacement
– Transmission rebuilding and replacing
– Replacement of catalytic converters
– Replacing spark plugs
What all does using RepairSmith entail?
Their website is incredibly easy to navigate – you can get an active quote in just a few minutes by plugging in your zip code. From there you choose from a handful of different repair options, add on anything else you can think might need fixing, and then submit. You’ll be given a number to call for a fast, simple quote and if you’re satisfied, you can set up the visit.
If by chance there’s more going on than they can fix right there, they always have garages standing by for rapid repairs, which is incredibly helpful.
Is RepairSmith worth it?
There are two things to consider when you’re looking at a new service; does it save you money and/or does it save you time over conventional approaches?
RepairSmith definitely saves you time – you can avoid sitting in the lobby of the mechanic while they change your oil and instead stay hard at work at home. Additionally their repair fleet can in many cases service your car before a traditional garage could get to it, meaning less time without a vehicle.
Monetarily, their services are on-par with traditional mechanic services and obviously pricing will vary based on a handful of factors (severity of the problem, model of the car, etc). You can also factor in the fact that this service saves you a tow in many situations, and prevents you from needing to be out of work. Even if their direct cost is more expensive on some jobs, overall you will save more money and time with RepairSmith for common repairs.
One of the best things I feel about their service is their 12-month/12,000 mile warranty on all their parts and services. While a good mechanic will stand behind their work, to have such a long-standing warranty is truly a testament to how confident RepairSmith is in their mechanics’ abilities.
If you live in LA and would like to give RepairSmith a try, there’s never been a better time. You can book at appointment at this link, and if you don’t live in LA, San Diego or Orange County in general, keep an eye on their site for their upcoming expansion. They might be coming to your city this year!
Healthcare and medical supplies for the most economically vulnerable often represent one part of a difficult choice. Choosing between critical medicines and eating, for instance, requires sacrifices that nobody should have to make. There are resources out there for people who are in low-or-fixed income situations to obtain their medical supplies cheap or free, but it’s a matter of the resources and the people being linked up.
Now before we go any further, I do want to say that this article in no way represents legal or medical advice. It’s merely my own thoughts and experience.
With that said, medical supplies, as defined under Medicaid, are typically disposable items for incontinence, diabetes or other chronic conditions that require testing or management. The constant resupplying of these items requires not only monthly payments but also a reputable and reliable provider.
There are, thankfully, a number of programs to help disabled, elderly and low-income families get their medical supplies for free or at the very least, drastically reduced in cost. We’re going to go over some options and help you determine the easiest, cheapest method for you to take care of your ongoing medical needs.
Healthcare Options When You’re Low Income
Qualifying for Programs
The first thing to do is to understand that budgeting for your medical supplies isn’t likely necessary, depending on what your income status looks like. For disabled and elderly people, the first step is to determine your Medicare eligibility. If you qualify, you can dramatically lower what you pay out of pocket every year for health services and supplies.
If you’ve ever served in the military, you likely qualify for veteran’s benefits through the VA. In some cases, these benefits can cover home health supplies.
Medicaid is the option for people who fall within a certain income bracket, depending on household size. It helps pay for medical supplies, doctor visits and other healthcare-related expenses. Qualification is based on annual income and allows you to get recurring shipments of medical supplies on a regular basis at little or no out-of-pocket cost.
Finally, check with local hospitals to see if they have clinics for low income families. Many will provide basic medical care and possibly some supplies, depending on where you live. These programs also partner with other local support for lower income individuals as well, so you can find a network of assistance when you need it most.
Once you qualify, find a reputable supplier
Once you have insurance or some other form of health cost coverage like what we detailed above, you can find a retailer that sells and ships medical supplies. For instance, incontinence has a variety of tools and supplies necessary to keep it managed. Finding a supplier that accepts your coverage and will ship directly to you can save you a large amount of money and worry.
One primary concern of people in low income situations is that they will reuse medical supplies because they don’t have the money to use fresh ones all the time when necessary. This exposes you to increased risk of infection or other complications, so having a constant supply of clean, disposable incontinence supplies is critical to maintain your health.
Don’t make unnecessary choices
There is no reason to pay more money than necessary for your medical supplies. Likewise, don’t put yourself in danger by reusing supplies you shouldn’t be. If you qualify for Medicare, Medicaid or veteran’s benefits, you can find a reputable medical supplies retailer who will ship fresh products directly to your door. There is help out there to keep you from having to make difficult decisions about your health, so please check into these programs today and start down the path to better health.
Camping out in a tent, watching people scramble for the last television – sounds like a typical Black Friday, doesn’t it? If you’ve never experienced the tradition of Black Friday planning and shopping, you might only have these examples on which to base your experience. For those of us who love the deals and the energy, however, Black Friday offers a yearly ritual that gifts us a head start on holiday shopping.
While a lot of commerce has turned to online stores, there’s nothing better than getting bundled up to go shopping in actual stores. With a perfect cup of coffee or hot chocolate in hand, you’re ready for anything. Any veteran of Black Friday knows, however, that the best shoppers have a strategy.
We’ve put together some tips that will make you into a Black Friday pro, even if you’ve never braved the craziness before.
Get in the right mindset
Bring your friends, pack some snacks and some tasty drinks; this is a long haul. If you go into Black Friday shopping with an aggressive mentality, you might think that will give you an edge. The reality is that it will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. It’s better to go in relaxed with backup and some treats to refuel. Some of the best holiday season memories are built around the strangeness and warmth of shopping at 3am, as weird as that sounds.
And speaking of – my one absolute “must visit” place on Black Friday is Kohl’s. I’ve mentioned this in past Black Friday posts, but seriously if you want the best of the best deals, Kohl’s is where they’re at!
Black Friday Planning with Kohl’s
Plan, plan, plan
You cannot go into Black Friday department store shopping without a strategy or coupons. Check your local paper the Sunday before Thanksgiving for all the best ads and coupons for Black Friday. If you don’t get the Sunday paper in your area, it’s worth buying one by itself, just for this season. In addition, check out sites like Slickdeals, which houses all of the coupons and hottest deals online in one convenient place. Slick Deals in particular lists the best buys, biggest discounts and strategies for each store. Finally, Slick Deals has a real-time forum where people can contribute information, like what deals are sold out and what prices are better elsewhere!
Make your money work twice
A lot of department stores have a rewards program; Kohl’s, Old Navy and JCP all give you store cash for each dollar you spend. This can be redeemed in increments for anything in the store. One of the best strategies I’ve ever used personally was buying as much of my gift list as I could from Kohl’s on Black Friday. This earned me about $500 in Kohl’s Cash, which I then redeemed during their Christmas sales, saving over $500 and finishing the majority of my list. If you can get some or all of your gifts from a place that offers this type of program, I highly recommend it.
Know what you’re getting for your effort
Those incredibly cheap televisions they have at the front of the store? Those are last year’s model, which if that sale doesn’t bother you then go ahead and fight for them. The same goes with toys during Black Friday; they’re often the hot toys of the holiday season past – the new hot toys will go on sale in December. Basically know when the discount isn’t worth the hassle!
Don’t forget to treat yourself
Last year, I scoured as many ads as I could to find places where the rewards program cash was huge. This lead me again to Kohl’s where I picked up a handful of kitchen appliances I had been wanting – an air fryer and a pressure cooker. In this case, however, these items also had rebates and discounts. After I got my Kohl’s Cash back and sent in the rebates, I got these items for free. In fact, I came out a little bit ahead on each one. The point is, don’t just pay attention to what’s on your list if you find a deal that is just beyond good!
Rethink Black Friday
If you’ve only got a negative impression of the Black Friday rush, I urge you to think twice. It can actually be fun if you let it, and the deals you can get are beyond compare. With a little planning, utilization of coupon codes and sites like Slick Deals, you’ll find that department stores are enjoyable no matter how late (or early!) you go.