generic saves $

Lots of foods are as good generic as the name brand. Read the labels and compare the ingredients. Whenever you can buy generic and save money, it adds up and you’ll never be able to tell the difference in taste or quality:

Deli & Dairy-

  • skip generic yogurt, it usually has extra additives and sugars, but most other dairy products are impossible to tell generic from brand.
  • Cheese (always buy generic unless you need a special type for a special recipe)
  • Sour cream
  • Cream cheese
  • Ricotta
  • Milk (usually comes from the same cows and shipped from similar areas)
  • Fruit juice (depends on the type of juice)
  • Lemonade
  • Iced tea

Almost every major grocery store today offers generic meat. Most large and chain stores also offer generic organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, which were always name brand. Generic is fine for…

  • Lunch meat
  • Frozen seafood
  • Ground meats

Pantry & Baking
Stocking your pantry with generic is the best way to cut back on your grocery bill. Try baking products first. Generic flours, sugars, salts, nuts, and grains (such as oats) are almost always exactly the same as name brands. Canned beans, vegetables, condiments and rice can be half or less the price of the same brand name product.

  • Condiments (especially yellow mustard)
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Nuts
  • Cereal (this one can go either way; but granola is usually just as good generic)
  • Raw oats
  • Dried fruits, such as raisins and cranberries
  • Spices
  • Canned beans
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned fruit

There’s really no difference in flavor when cooking with most generic frozen food especially frozen fruit and vegetables.

  • Frozen fruit
  • Frozen vegetables

save $$$$

Money questions are most likely the questions that I get the most often…the best advice is: make a budget and stick to it. I know easier said than done.

Here are some things that truly work:

1. Getting rid of debts should be a priority. Debt-related anxiety is terrible.

2. Use cash. The people who say you should use cash to curb your spending are right. Each week we withdraw one lump sum from the ATM, and segment into jars money for groceries/entertainment (see point three), and “spending money” for myself, my husband and each of our kids. “Spending money” covers any irregular expenses for ourselves – clothes, outings, toys, haircuts, makeup. If the money isn’t there in the jar, we can’t buy it. Simple as that.

3. If you try very hard to buy only what you need and nothing of what you want, you will spend a lot less and you can reward yourself with a night out with some of the money that you saved.

4. Throw out the catalogues unopened, don’t shop on the computer and don’t go to the mall for something to do. If you don’t know what you don’t have you won’t want it!!

5. Shop at the uncool supermarket. Even the uncool supermarket has healthy foods and organic produce. Buying generic for most things will also save money and you won’t be able to tell the difference. If you can save $20 each week it adds up to $1040 a year!

6. You should never pay full price for anything, ever! There are sales all the time everywhere and if what you want is not on sale today wait a few days and it will be on sale somewhere! Shop with coupons and ask for discounts at the store. You can almost always get a 10 or 20 percent discount.

7. Remember, all discounts count. Negotiate on big ticket items, do price comparisons and ask if the store does price matching. Don’t pay more than you have to just because you’re too embarrassed to ask.

how to deal with customer service (maybe)

When you call customer service because you have a problem or a complaint you’re probably already frustrated. Then you get a recording asking you enter 61 different numbers and ids and passwords. Then you sit on hold waiting for a company’s live customer service rep to assist you.

If they speak english the first thing they tell you is that they know how you feel and that they are sorry. NO! they don’t know how you feel and NO! they are not sorry- they say it because they are told to say that and they are getting paid to say that. You are spending minutes, hours and days of your life, that you will never get back, trying to fix a problem that is usually not your fault!!!!

Instead lots of people are now trying to get a company’s attention and remedy a problem by using social media. Posting an angry tweet or writing a nasty Facebook post usually won’t get the help you need—and you probably won’t even get a response, but it could make you feel better…

Instead of calling here are some other possible ways to really get your problem solved:

• Be polite. You’ll always catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Write a polite, concise, profanity-free message or tweet that clearly states the situation, how the company failed to meet your expectations and what you would like to see happen.

• If you’re tweeting your complaint, make sure to include the company’s official twitter handle and include key terms like “complaint,” “dissatisfied,” or “fail.” All of these (and more) are words companies search for when looking for complaints against them. Including these words will increase the chance your tweet will be seen out of the many hundreds of tweets companies get daily.

• As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. If you can take a picture and document the issue visually. A picture is worth a thousand words.

If you still prefer to speak to someone, go to a website that helps customers find the best company representatives to speak to.

good throw!

Mom- I was in a grocery store the other day and some high school kids were running up and down the isles, throwing boxes of food to each other and making a lot of noise. I wanted to tell them to be quieter and stop running around or leave, but I didn’t and I left instead without finishing my shopping. When I got home I was mad at myself! What should I have done?

Having fun is a good thing and watching people have fun is also a good thing, but if they were doing things that could hurt someone or creating so much commotion that you couldn’t be in the same place that’s a problem. You could tell the store manager, or next time you have to say something to someone smile and say it looks like you’re really having fun, but it’s crowded here and maybe this isn’t the best place for you to do this, but I hope whatever team you’re on wins! Always smile and never lose your sense of humor…

be nice

Dear Ask Mom, how can I correct someone who is rude without sounding rude myself?

Here’s a good example: if you show up for a lunch date and your friend has a very bad cold that you don’t want to catch, instead of telling her that it was very rude of her to show up sick suggest that you each have a cup of tea and get together as soon as she feels better because then you’ll both have more fun. Make your point but do it nicely…

snack time

two of my new favorite snacks…warning: this is a little bit fallish

Maple-Butter Spiced Popcorn

1/3 cup popcorn kernels
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch fresh nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
optional: 1/4 teaspoon salt – I like salty-sweet combinations, but leave it out if you’re not a fan

Pop the popcorn following your preferred method. Combine the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a small bowl.

Melt the butter either in the pan or in the microwave and whisk in the maple syrup. Drizzle this over the fresh popcorn, stirring the popcorn as you pour to make sure it gets evenly distributed.

Sprinkle half the spice mixture over the popcorn, cover the bowl with a dinner plate, and shake vigorously. Taste the popcorn and if you’d like more spice, add the other half of the spice mix and shake again. Eat immediately!

Savory Cheese-Herb Granola

Makes about 3 cups
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup pepitas
1/4 cup Gruyère cheese, finely grated
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, add the oats, pepitas, cheese, thyme, salt, onion powder and pepper. Mix together with your hands or a large spoon, making sure to break up any clumps of cheese. In a small bowl, whisk the egg white, Worcestershire sauce and olive oil until thoroughly combined and creamy. Pour the egg white mixture over the oats mixture and stir until the oats are evenly coated.

Spread mixture on a lined, rimmed baking sheet and place on a middle rack in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes for the first 20 minutes, then every 5 minutes until it is done. Place baking sheet on a cooling rack. (The granola will become more crisp as it cools.) Store the granola in an airtight container once it has cooled.



don’t be rude

I get so many emails about rudeness! Some things that people do are really rude and others are just mildly rude. Some rude things are just thoughtless and others are calculated to be rude. Here is a list of little rude things that should stop. If we eliminate the little rude things and start treating each other the way we want to be treated this will be a little nicer place for all of us…

  • Don’t bring your phone to the table or talk on the phone while you’re with someone else- pay attention to each other
  • Don’t tell someone that you’ll be somewhere is 15 minutes when you haven’t even started getting ready- if you’re always late, start earlier
  • Don’t wear so much perfume/cologne so that everyone can smell you before they can see you- you don’t smell good, you just smell!
  • Don’t blast your horn at someone to move their car the second the light turns green, count to 4 before you gently hit the horn
  • Don’t leave your shopping cart in the middle of a parking space and don’t make your own parking space by parking in front of the door or anywhere that isn’t really a parking space- you’re not the only one at the store
  • Do hold the door for someone behind you and do let people out of a train, elevator or door before you go in-really, how does anyone get out to make room for people to get in if everyone is jamming in??
  • Don’t say ‘no problem’ when you should say ‘you’re welcome’ and do say ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’ often- ‘no problem’ is a dumb expression, don’t use it!
  • Do give pedestrians the right of way always and don’t speed up when the light turns yellow to cut off a pedestrian or another car

It really works

Who knew? You can use this to do that…


Remove a wine stain: Blot (don’t rub) the spill to remove as much as possible, then cover the stain liberally with salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water, if possible, then repeat if necessary. If the spill is on a carpet, you can wait for the salt to dry and then vacuum it up.

Make drip-proof candles: Soak new candles in salt water for a few hours, then let them dry. They will burn drip-free.
Distilled white vinegar- Uses:

Revive wilted vegetables: Soak wilted greens or other vegetables in a bath of one tablespoon of white vinegar to two cups of water for 10 minutes.

Keep colors from running: Add one cup of white vinegar to the wash to help set the color of new towels or other items.

Prevent cheese from getting moldy: Dampen a paper towel in white vinegar and wrap it around hard cheese to prevent mold spores from forming.

Petroleum jelly (aka Vaseline)-Uses:

Keep car doors from freezing shut: Put a thin layer of petroleum jelly around the insulation of your car door, and you won’t have to worry about your car doors freezing shut when the next polar vortex hits.

Make an at-home mani/pedi look perfect: Use a cotton swab to outline your nails and nail polish won’t stick to your skin. Also, a thin layer of jelly around the tops of your nail polish bottles will keep them opening easily.

Keep ants out of the doggy bowl: Coat the outside of Fido or Fluffy’s food dish with a thin layer of jelly and ants will dine elsewhere.


Ease a hangover: Next time you’ve had a little too much celebrating, try a tablespoon of honey. (You can add it to herbal tea or hot water or drizzle it on toast, if you prefer not to eat it straight.) The fructose is thought to help speed up the metabolism of the alcohol, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK.

As a dressing for minor wounds: Honey is antimicrobial and antibacterial, which means the bad stuff can’t grow in it. You can use raw honey as an ointment on minor burns, cuts and scrapes. It also can get rid of zits for the same reason. Just be sure you cover the area with a bandage so the sticky stuff is not all over the place!

Apple cider vinegar- Uses:

Next time you buy apple cider vinegar, skip the clear, refined stuff and go raw and organic. (Look for a brand that may look a little cloudy, and has bits of sediment in it; those are the enzymes that make it so powerful.)

Use it to tame a rosacea flare-up: For some rosacea suffers, applying apple cider vinegar diluted with water as a toner can help soothe the redness and burning or itching of rosacea.

Condition your hair: Add a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of warm water and rinse your hair with it after you shampoo. It will remove any soapy residue and leave your hair shiny and manageable! Don’t do this if you color your hair.

Remove fish scales more easily: If you buy really fresh and want to leave the skin on but take the scales off the catch of the day, rub it with vinegar before you clean it. The scales will come off more easily, and your hands will smell less fishy, too.

calm down

Mom- I have no patience. I lose my temper and get mad or get impatient fast. What can I do to be more patient?

You can’t change something like that fast, but there are things you can do to become a more patient person. You’re probably impatient because you’re stressed out.  If you can learn how to relax in the middle of a stressful situation it will really help you be more patient. Deep breathing is the easiest thing to do AND it works. This will make a big difference because you’ll cut off the immediate bad response and give yourself a chance to come up with a better one.

do whatever you want

Dear Mom, I have a friend who asks me for my opinion, but she already knows what she wants to do. If I don’t give her the answer she wants to hear we have a big fight. I started trying to guess what she wants to hear. It’s at the point where I really don’t care. This is going to end our friendship. What should I do?

Seems like she really doesn’t want your opinion. She just wants you to figure out what she wants to do and agree with her! Next time she asks for your opinion start by asking her questions. The answers to your questions should help you figure out what she wants to do or tell her that you’ll support her whatever she decides to do and move on…