Our Whole Foods Pantry, Freezers and Refrigerator

Real Food Ingredients Resource Page

After several hours of list making, link finding and price figuring, here is the resource I’ve been promising for such a long time! I’ve tried to include everything that typically can be found in my fridge, freezers, pantry and bulk storage. I obviously don’t have all of these items on hand all of the time, but I do try to keep a good stock of most of these items so that I am flexible to put together a variety of healthy meals, as well as open our home to guests frequently.

I’ve included prices I prefer to spend on each item, but prices vary depending on which site is offering a sale. Keep in mind that prices are going to vary depending on where you live as well. Because I live in a small town with very few whole foods/organic food grocery store options, I buy most of my food from local farmers, from online shops or from Azure Standard, depending on where I find a better deal. (Plus, I try to save up most of my Swagbuck earnings to purchase food occasionally for “free” from Amazon.)

I buy almost all of the listed items in bulk quantities because I know we’ll use it. I also try to purchase just about all of the items in this list in organic form if possible.

Because you are all reading from different locations, I also recommend that you read through the comments on this post in order to find a health food co-op or whole food resources in your area. Also, check out LocalHarvest to find meat, milk, eggs and produce in your area.

Hopefully the linking system I used in each section is user friendly! If I linked to Tropical Traditions, Vitacost, Amazon, Azure Standard, or Mountain Rose Herbs, I tried to link each item to the specific product page on those sites for easy navigation.

Keep in mind that if you are a new customer with Vitacost, you can click through this link to receive a $10 credit to use on your first order (order must be $30 or more). It’s a great way to save some serious money on your first order!

And now, without further ado, here is my very long list of grocery items I love to have on hand:

Dairy

In addition to the following products, occasionally I make butter and mozzarella cheese, if I have enough milk/cream/time.

Milk – I am blessed to buy raw, organic milk from local farmers.
Cream – I buy this raw from our milk farmers.
Buttermilk – Homemade
Kefir – Homemade
Yogurt – Homemade
Sour Cream – Homemade
Butter – I usually purchase a case of Willow Made Sweet Cream, Salted Butter from Azure Standard if I can get it for $3.50/pound or less. Otherwise, I just buy real butter from the grocery store.
Cheese – I purchase raw organic Landmark white cheddar cheese from Azure Standard.   It is $5.50/pound if purchased by the case.

Meat/Eggs/Beans

I purchase most of my grass fed beef and free range whole chickens from a local farm – NorthStar Neighbors. Occasionally, I will get it from Tropical Traditions if they have a great sale.

Hamburger Meat
Cube Steak
Stew Meat
Beef Roast 
Chickens (whole) – I try stretch these to feed my family six meals!
Chicken Breasts – I typically purchase Smart Chicken brand when it’s on sale at our local grocery store for $4.0o/pound or less.
Deer Meat – from local hunters who like to share
Tuna (canned) – I buy Natural Value Yellow-Fin by the case either from Amazon, Vitacost, or Azure Standard, shooting for $1.50/can or less.
Salmon (canned) – Rubinstein’s Wild Alaska pink salmon from Azure Standard or Roland’s from Amazon – $3.00 or less per can.
Frozen Fish, sometimes – I live in Nebraska, what can I say? We don’t have fresh fish here. I don’t necessarily trust frozen fish from a regular grocery store, but occasionally I will buy some tilapia or salmon.
Eggs – I buy these from my friend who raises free range chickens.
Red Beans –  Azure Standard – $1.00/pound
Black Beans
Azure Standard – $1.40/pound
Pinto BeansAzure Standard – $0.88/pound
Garbonzo BeansAzure Standard – $0.85/pound
Lentils Azure Standard – $0.49/pound

Grains

Hard White Wheat – I buy this in bulk from Azure Standard – $0.83/pound.
Whole Kernel CornAzure Standard or Tropical Traditions – $0.68/pound
PopcornAzure StandardTropical Traditions or Amazon – $1.25/pound
Rolled OatsAzure StandardTropical Traditions or Amazon – $0.80/pound
Brown Rice –  Azure Standard, Tropical Traditions or Amazon – $1.80/pound
Whole Wheat Pasta – Tropical Traditions or Amazon – around $2.00/pound

I sometimes have Kamut, Millet, Buckwheat, Spelt and/or Barley on hand – purchased from Azure Standard or Tropical Traditions – all less than $1.00/pound.

Baking/Cooking

Coconut FlourAzukar Organics through Amazon (best price!) or Tropical Traditions when it’s buy one get one free – $3.50/pound or less.
Sucanat Azure Standard, Vitacost, or Amazon – $2.50/pound or less
Raw Honey – I purchase from a local bee keeper – or I buy it from Azure Standard
Grade B Maple Syrup – Farmers Market, Vitacost, or Amazon – $17.00/quart or less
Cocoa PowderAzure Standard or Tropical Traditions – $4.25/pound or less
Vanilla Extract – I make my own; read how you can too!
Corn StarchAzure Standard, Vitacost, or Tropical Traditions – $3.20/8 ounce box
Arrowroot PowderAzure Standard – $2.57/pound or less
Aluminum Free Baking PowderAzure Standard or Amazon – $2.65/pound
Baking SodaAzure Standard or Amazon – $1.00/pound or less
Shredded CoconutTropical Traditions– $17.50/gallon pail
Chocolate ChipsHomemade, Vitacost, or Amazon – $4.50/package or less
Butterscotch Baking ChipsHomemade
Active Dry YeastAzure Standard or Sams (if I can get a friend with a membership to grab some for me!)

Herbs and Spices

These are purchased either from Tropical Traditions, Azure Standard or Mountain Rose Herbs. I didn’t link to any specific site for these – where I buy these depends on who has the best price at the time.

Redmonds Real Sea Salt
Garlic Powder
Turmeric
Minced Onion
Onion Powder
Onion Salt
Oregano
Basil
Cayenne Pepper
Black Pepper
Chili Powder
Paprika
Parsley
Cumin
Cinnamon
Nutmeg

Condiments and Sauces

Ketchup – I make homemade ketchup or purchase Muir Glen Organic Ketchup from Amazon, Vitacost, or Azure Standard – $2.70/bottle
Mayonnaise – I like Hain Safflower Mayo from Azure Standard or Vitacost – $5.50/jar or less
Mustard – Azure Standard – $2.35/bottle
Worcestershire Sauce Azure Standard – $5.00/bottle
Soy Sauce Azure Standard – $5.50/bottle Liquid Smoke – Walmart  ;)
Salad Dressings – I make my own, recipes are found here.
Jams and PreservesAzure Standard, Vitacost, or Tropical Traditions – $3.00/jar
Peanut Butter – I make my own, recipe found here

Fats

Coconut Oil, Virgin (tastes like coconut)Tropical Traditions, Amazon, Vitacost, or Mountain Rose Herbs – $18.00/quart or less
Coconut Oil, Expeller Pressed (flavorless) Tropical Traditions, Amazon, Mountain Rose Herbs – $13.00/quart or less
Olive OilAzure Standard, Vitacost, or Tropical Traditions – $17.00/25 ounces or less
ButterAzure Standard (Yes, I’d already mentioned this in the dairy section, but it’s also a fat. Apparently, I love butter enough to mention it twice.)
Palm ShorteningTropical Traditions, Amazon – $32.00 or less per gallon

Fruits and Vegetables

Tomato Sauce, Tomato Soup, Tomato Juicewe grow and can our own supply for each year or I get them from Vitacost when we run out of our home canned goods
Green Beans, Sweet Corn, Peaches, Strawberries, Applesauce – we grow or buy from local farmers and preserve these ourselves each year.
Frozen PeasAzure Standard – $7.70/5 pounds
All Other Fresh Produce – Azure Standard or local grocery stores

Nuts

PeanutsAzure Standard or Amazon – $3.70/pound
Pistachios, Cashews, AlmondsBraga Organic Farms or Vitacost
Dried FruitAzure Standard, Vitacost or Braga Organic Farms

Cereal and Chips (purchased rarely)

CornflakesAmazon or Vitacost – $3.00/box
Rice Crispies Amazon or Vitacost– $3.00/box
Corn ChipsAmazon or Vitacost – $4.00/bag

So that you will always and forever have easy access to this resource list, I have added a link at the top of my site called Whole Foods Resources. I’ve also added this pantry button to my side bar, which will link to this post:

Teaching Your Kids to Cook and Learn to Cook Books

We are excited to announce that our new books, Teaching Your Kids to Cook and Learn to Cook, are now ready for purchase! We are offering these books as a download (pdf file), so you can purchase and receive a download link directly in your email inbox. In addition, we are offering you a chance to purchase both Teaching Your Kids to Cook and Learn to Cook in a package, offering you a hefty discount!

Teaching Your Kids to Cook – For Parents of Kids Ages 2-12

Teaching Your Kids to Cook is written for parents who desire to spend time helping their children learn their way around the kitchen. Filled with instructions, tips, activities, printables and over 45 simple, kid friendly recipes – you and your kids will have many opportunities to make messes together and get chocolate in your hair. Here’s hoping your kids learn how to put basic meals and treats together and learn to serve others too!

The recipes in this book include only wholesome, easy to attain ingredients. Teaching Your Kids to Cook is perfect for families with young children – oh the memories you will make!

Help yourself to free sample pages of Teaching Your Kids to Cook.

Learn to Cook – Because You Gotta Eat

Learn to Cook is written to anyone old enough to use a stove (I’d say ages 8 and up). Not only for kids, this book may also be helpful for adults who are new to cooking. This book can be handed directly to “the student” and while you should certainly be available to guide them along as they learn new kitchen skills, your sons and daughters, newlyweds and cooking novices can read Learn to Cook on their own and take off with all of the new skills they are learning! From measuring to menu planning to grocery budgeting – this book covers all the kitchen basics. Not to mention, it includes over 55 simple to prepare recipes!

The recipes in this book include only wholesome, easy to attain ingredients. Learn to Cook will equip the reader with basic kitchen knowledge – an incredibly important life skill!

Help yourself to free sample pages of Learn to Cook.

Learn to Cook
Learn to Cook
Learn to Cook is written to anyone old enough to use a stove (I’d say ages 8 and up). This book can be handed directly to “the student” and while you should certainly be available to guide them along as they learn new kitchen skills, your sons and daughters, newlyweds, and cooking novices can read Learn to Cook on their own and take off with all of the new skills they are learning! From measuring to menu planning to grocery budgeting – this book covers all the kitchen basics. Not to mention, it includes over 55 simple to prepare recipes!
Price: $8.00

The Package Deal

Depending on the ages of your kids or the needs of your family, you may be interested in owning both of these books! We’ve combined them into packages and chunked off a nice piece of the price, as several of the recipes and printables in the books are duplicated.

Learn to Cook Collection
From ages 2 on up, you can print and use these eBooks with your kids to help them find their way around the kitchen. These are filled with recipes, instruction, activities, and encouragement!
Price: $9.95
Quantity:  

Buying In Bulk – Gallons of Maple Syrup and Honey

I’m working through a series in buying whole foods in bulk!
If you haven’t read them yet, you may be interested in : 

Why I Buy in Bulk and Buying in Bulk:  Do You Have the Space?

It’s almost Maple Syrup Day!! That’s not a national holiday (that I know of) – just the one Thursday every July that I buy three gallons of maple syrup. Why? Because that’s when the “maple syrup people” come to our Farmer’s Market for their once a year stop in my town. I buy what I hope will last me the year (although this year it didn’t, and I had to grab some from Amazon to get us by).

People have looked at me a little funny as I walk away with so much maple syrup, wondering why I would possibly want so much. Well, because we’re a family of six, because we have a lot of company, because we use it on our pancakes and waffles and french toast and in our milk shakes and soothers and in several other recipes. The maple syrup they bring to the Farmer’s Market is pure – I trust this family. Maple syrup is one of my top sweeteners of choice, and buying three gallons at a time saves me quite a bit of money and time. If I buy my year’s supply of maple syrup in July at the Farmer’s Market, I don’t have to think about maple syrup again until well…this year, it lasted us until May. 

I do the same thing with our hard white wheat berries, buying our entire year’s supply in February when my friend organizes a big truck delivery of the wonderful golden kernels. If you haven’t read my exclusive interview with myself after I purchased 500 pounds of wheat at one time, you may find it helpful – or at least amusing.

Do I buy everything in 365 day quantities? No. But with things like wheat and maple syrup, it just sort of makes sense for me to do it this way.  When I know it’s something we use continually, when I find a great price, when I know I may have a harder time getting my hands on a certain product – I stock up.

Take honey for example (because I thought you might need yet another sweet and sticky example after reading about maple syrup). Our “honey man” harvests a very limited quantity of raw, pure honey each fall. If I don’t buy all the honey I’ll need for the year in September, he’ll likely not have any more for me later. It makes sense for me to buy a year’s supply at once. 

I also do this with produce during the summer and fall. I know we’ll be needing 52 weeks worth of corn, green beans, tomato sauce, tomato soup, applesauce, peaches and pears…so I plant my garden and make my local farm produce purchases accordingly. (I also keep my nose the the ground – or is that my ear? I forget – and snatch all kinds of free produce people are happy to part with when they are feeling overloaded.)  During the months of July, August and September, we are crazy busy with preserving – either canning or freezing – our year’s supply of corn, green beans – all the foods I just mentioned. It just makes sense for our family.

I’m sure some of you are wondering:  How do we afford to buy such large quantities of maple syrup, wheat, honey, etc. at one time?  Here are two posts that might help answer that question:  How I Grocery Shop and Our 2011 Grocery Budget. I’ll be a little more specific about this topic next week! (to be continued…)

I’m curious if you buy a year’s supply of anything, or if you prefer buying smaller quantities?

Our Mini Vacation (Part Two)

The first day of our mini-vacation was spent at the Durham Museum, Red Mango and our hotel swimming pool. The next day, we headed to the Henry Doorly Zoo, truly one of the best zoos in the U.S. 

I will say that our day at the zoo wasn’t perfect, but that was due to the 101 degree heat that threatened to do us in a time or two, which of course wasn’t the zoo’s fault. And thankfully, there were some lovely air conditioned areas we took full advantage of!

Here we are enjoying the “Desert Dome” (which our oldest said he wished was the “Dessert Dome”, because wouldn’t THAT have been fun!). We saw some really amazing birds, some (not so) cool snakes, and my favorite – a little armadillo that I totally wanted to bring home. Me, the girl who doesn’t want pets. Cutest little armadillo ever, he was. Ran so fast in his little round shell he looked like he was on wheels. Mmm, so adorable.

We only missed a few of the zoo’s great attractions, pumping our legs hard in that heat to make the rounds. We left the Desert Dome and followed our map and we were not a bit disappointed with what we saw.

Isn’t this bear a sweet one? Amazing how sweet they look when they aren’t growling in your face. Kinda sounds like me.  I can be real sweet when I’m not growling in your face. It’s true. Just ask my kids.

We stood and stared at the penquins for a long, long time. Ever read Mr. Popper’s Penquins? Oh, you’ve got to read it. And then stare at some real penquins for a while. They’re fascinating.


We saw the biggest butterfly ever. Except that it was really a chair and Malachi and I sat in it to take a little break from walking. 

Possibly our favorite area (although it truly is hard to say) was the Aquarium. This place is incredible, with glass all around you so that you can see all of the amazing creatures swimming. Yes, sharks swam over us and beside us, as did sting rays and sea horses. We also made friends with a big turtle, that in my opinion, had a lovely personality. I’d never seen one like him before and I named him Fred.

It was hard to walk away from this round “tube” of fish. Again, we stared and stared…

We left the zoo exhausted and fulfilled…with still enough energy to talk all the way to dinner about “Remember the monkey on that rope?” and “Are you sure we can’t go back and get the armadillo?”. Not really. I didn’t really say that. I’d never contemplate something like that. Really.

Dinner was fun at Ci-Ci’s Pizza where we’d printed off a coupon and were able to feed our family for an incredibly low price. What a treat!

Last but not least, we stopped at Whole Foods, because if I can’t have an armadillo, I at least need to have a Whole Foods fix while I’m in Omaha, right? Thanks to those of you who signed up for Shop it to Me, we had accumulated a few Whole Foods gift cards to use.

Can I tell you what a blessing those are to us, and how much we appreciate those of you who take the time to (painlessly) sign up for the Shop it to Me email? It means a lot to us, and provides us with a few gift cards to spend on wholesome groceries for our family. I hope that you too are taking advantage of the Shop it to Me  referral program and telling YOUR family and friends about this so that you can earn gift cards as well!!

Here’s a picture of some of the items we grabbed at Whole Foods. We also got some chicken breasts while we were there, but they were in the freezer at the time of this photo shoot and refused to come out. Stubborn little chickens.  (Should have got me an armadillo instead.)

And there you have it…our Mini Vacation. It was a wonderful getaway and I’m so thankful we were able to do this!

Now you tell me – do you have fun travel plans this summer?  (And if you’re coming through Nebraska, do you think you could bring me an armadillo?)

Just a little reminder, Friday, June 10 is the final day for our Heavenly Homemakers eBook Overload sale!! Read details here!

Whole Foods Couponing…and a Thank You!

As you may remember, I used to be a Coupon Queen. I was the one who would be in front of you in the check out line with 47 coupons and a cart full of groceries. After the cashier spent ten minutes subtracting out my coupons, my receipt total would be somewhere in the $24 range for a cart full of food.

If indeed we can call it food. I wasn’t exactly using coupons to get fruits and vegetables, you know?  But shucks…most of it was free! Free poptarts are great, right?

Learn to make healthier, homemade poptarts if you need a poptart fix!

Well, as you know, we’ve changed our ways a little bit entirely and now I shop completely differently. (You can read this post to learn how I grocery shop. And you can read this entire series to learn about our Healthy Eating Journey.)  I now recognize that spending money on good, whole foods is a perfect investment in our overall health.

But I still love finding great deals on great groceries!

This is where the “Thank You!” part of this post comes in. Remember how I mentioned that if you sign up for Shop it to Me…I could earn free gift cards?  Well…several of you signed up, which means that I earned several free gift cards. I appreciate it so much!  There were several gift card choices…but of course…I chose the cards for Whole Foods!! Who can pass up free groceries at Whole Foods??!

Matt and I were able to hit a Whole Foods store while we were away for the weekend at the Weekend to Remember conference. (Yes, part of our romantic weekend was spent shopping for asparagus. You know your relationship is solid when you can lovingly gaze at organic produce together.)

Not only did I have a few Shop it to Me Whole Foods cards to use…I had been doing my homework and had put together some coupons to use during our outing. It brought back memories and I have to admit that I felt quite giddy as I actually put coupons into an envelope again. I really haven’t done that (to this extent) for a long time. (Yeah I know…I’m a geek.)

The kids were pretty happy to see us when we got home…especially when they saw we had brought home cereal and yogurt!! (Hey guys…didn’t you even miss us just a little bit?)

We stocked up on chicken wings and boneless, skinless chicken breasts because I just don’t have a great source for those nearby. We found great deals on lettuce, asparagus, apples, pears and zucchini…Larabars, yogurt, butter and cheese.

And then, because they were on sale, because I had coupons and because they are gluten free…we splurged on a few items I lovingly call “organic junk food” that we’ll save for a rainy day. Cereal and chips…woohoo! Malachi sure does look disappointed with our loot, huh? :)

I had also been sent a Brat Hans Sausages coupon so that I could try them for free! We cashed in on that and WOW, you should have seen the boys when they found those in the bag! I thought they were going to eat me when they saw them! They must feel they have a brat deficiency or something?

So thank you to all who signed up for Shop it to Me …you made our Whole Foods shopping trip very fun!! If you haven’t signed up for Shop it to Me , you certainly can and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings even a little bit. :)  NOBODY  has to spend any money unless you want to – that’s the beauty of it!!! AND, more importantly, after you sign up, you can tell YOUR friends and family about Shop it to Me  so that YOU can receive free gift cards!!!

I did want to note:  I normally do the majority of this type of shopping through Azure Standard…Whole Foods is two hours away and I’m blessed to have an Azure Standard drop point right here in my town!! Azure is much less expensive and has everything I need. This Whole Foods trip was a fun splurge, gave me a “grocery store shopping fix” and well…I had gift cards. And coupons. And needed to get Brats, apparently. :)

Do you shop at Whole Foods? Do you have one close to you, or do you have to drive pretty far like I do? What do you like to get at Whole Foods?

Excuse Me Ma’am…Are Those Your Handcuffs?

That’s the question the Whole Foods employee asked me as we were leaving the store Friday night. “Ma’am…are those your handcuffs?”

It’s a routine grocery store question, isn’t it? “Would you like paper or plastic?”  “Did you find everything you were looking for?”  “Do all of those boys belong to you?”  “Are those your handcuffs?”

Or maybe that’s  just me.  Eh, I have four boys…questions like this have been typical for the past thirteen years.

Our youngest, Malachi, is very into playing “policeman”. Or “cowboy”. Or “Cowboy-Policeman-Ninja-Superhero”. Yes, he’s quite well rounded…we’re very proud

His grandparents got him some handcuffs with a real key and everything at Christmas time. He couldn’t be more excited. The handcuffs round out his Policeman-Cowboy-Ninja-Superhero outfit very well. He loves them and has them attached to his belt loop (right beside his holster and pistol) at all times – except for when we insist that he take them off…like at bath time or for Bible class. 

Friday night, somehow the handcuffs made their way into the grocery store with us. I was busy trying to find the best deals on chicken and fish…leaving the police work to my six year old. Somewhere between the dairy section and aisle five, the handcuffs got hooked onto the handle of the grocery cart. Then, the Policeman-Cowboy-Ninja-Superhero became distracted with the huge selection of cereal. Said handcuffs were forgotten as puffs of sugared peanut butter in boxes decorated with brightly colored panda bears became much more interesting.

We were through the line and ready to head out the door when a nice grocery bagger near the exit noticed the handcuffs and hollered,  “Excuse me Ma’am…are those your handcuffs?”

More than a few customers looked up from picking out the prettiest apples to see what in the world the gal meant and who pray tell she was talking to.

What? That question isn’t a typical produce section question they’re used to hearing? 

The key to the handcuffs was (of course) nowhere to be found…but if you’re smarter than a six year old (or at least as smart as a Policeman-Cowboy-Ninja-Superhero), you know how to use the little “handcuff-release-gear-thingy” to open them up. Incidentally, it only took me two weeks to figure out that the cuffs had such a feature, after finding them hooked onto kitchen drawers and dining room chairs a few too many times for my liking. By the way, speaking as a common criminal at my house, I can attest to the fact that it is not easy to type with  handcuffs on. Nor is it easy to reach the “handcuff-release-gear-thingy” on the left hand with a cuffed right hand. 

Anyhoo…it didn’t take long for the other Whole Foods customers to figure out to whom the handcuffs on the cart belonged:  The woman with a big grin and four handsome boys following her out the door.

It’s a good thing the rubber snake didn’t fall out of my purse right at that moment. Now THAT might have created a scene.

In case you’re interested…we had a delightful time at Whole Foods, using a few free gift cards we had earned through Shop it to Me  referrals! Thank you so much to all of you who signed up. I hope you not only signed up, but also have been referring your family and friends so that you can earn free gift cards too!!

We were able to get chicken and tilapia and yogurt and butter and cheese (and some snack bars that got eaten on our way home!) for just over $20 out of pocket by using some in store coupons and our Shop it to Me gift cards. We were heading to Omaha anyway for Asa’s basketball game, so we were excited to make a Whole Foods run! I can not wait to eat that Tilapia!! (It was half price that day!)