Tag Archives: Featured

open faced sandwich cookie

Why I Buy My Kids Junk Food

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I admit it.

I buy my kids junk food.

You too?

stack of chocolate sandwich cookies

But Clean Couponing is all about being frugal with more than money!

How can a parent be concerned about issues like health and ingredients while admitting to buying junk food?

Here’s how:  In a perfect world I would have enough space for not just an organic garden but a mini-farm in my own backyard, where I’d produce enough food for everything I needed in the kitchen. I’d have time to cook absolutely every meal and snack from scratch for my family.  Plus, my kids would have no outside influences tempting them to try greasy, sugary, fattening, processed foods.  That’s not the world we live in, is it?

I do grow organic vegetables in our garden.  I do cook from scratch as much as possible.  I also need time-saving methods.  I also spend time shuttling kids to various activities.  I also give in to their requests for “fun” food.

Where Clean Couponing comes in is that it can help me strategically stock up on the kinds of “fun” meal and snack foods my kids want to eat, while giving me the chance to play defense with the ingredients.  I’m using the term “junk food” loosely, meaning no offense to any particular food or food maker.

open faced sandwich cookie

At some point, the kids will beg for chocolate cookies, and if I’ve checked ahead of time for the cookies without the trans fats and genetically modified ingredients, I’ve accomplished something.  They will want ice cream or candy or gum, so I can choose from the few brands that don’t use coal-tar derived food dyes and suspicious preservatives or fillers.

While I wouldn’t want to serve my family hot dogs frequently, the occasional picnic is a chance to try these made with more wholesome ingredients than most.  (Don’t miss this giveaway that ends soon.)

My kids know I scrutinize ingredients and practice Clean Couponing because I love them. They also know I find creative ways to let them enjoy “junk food” because I love them, too. If I stock up ahead of time, watch for sales, check out brand coupons online, it helps me provide these more wholesome versions of fun or junk foods, which is harder to do at the last minute.  If we really get in a rush, if I’m behind on meal preparation, and if I haven’t stocked up on better “junk” foods, those are the few times when we get into a downward fast food spiral, and that can really wreck a family nutrition plan.

Perhaps the biggest pitfall in stocking up on healthier “junk” foods is that even organic, GMO-free, gluten-free foods can still be high in sugar.  This is a legitimate concern, and a reason to never lean too heavily on processed foods, even if they bear all of the politically correct food labels.  Despite this potentially pitfall, I stand by my method of staying stocked up on some fun alternative foods.

How are you Clean Couponing to make sure your family’s fun or “junk” food is as clean as possible?

 

Grilling Applegate Hotdogs

#GirlsWhoGrill Celebrating Summer with Applegate Grilling Kit Giveaway

Thanks to Applegate for stocking us up on the fixins’ for a backyard picnic!  Get your #CleanCouponing coupons here.

Where did grilling get ingrained in their machismo?  It’s there, from open-fire cooking for survival to boys and their heavy metal grilling toys! Even a man like my husband who’s intimidated by a kitchen recipe with more than three ingredients will proudly reign as king of the outdoor grill, as if pushing that fuel button to light the thing up suddenly imbibes him with the expert ability to prepare a gourmet feast!

He was somewhat uncomfortable with the idea that the queen of the household would be taking over his grill this summer — that #GirlsWhoGrill might put more attention onto the quality of the food cooking on it.  His machismo is a bit threatened.

applegate family

For me as a parent, I care about ingredients, while I don’t plan on taking away anyone’s summer fun.  Hot dogs have been around a long time as a grilling favorite.  So, while I won’t be serving these every week, they’re a once-in-a-while summer treat that my kids & husband want.

What’s the difference between these and your typical dogs?

  • Quality meats raised with humane practices & without antibiotics
  • 100% grass-fed beef
  • All Applegate products going non-GMO in summer 2015
  • Meat as the main ingredient, without junk fillers or added sugars or corn syrups
  • No chemical preservatives
  • No added nitrites (only those naturally occurring in celery)
  • Lower than many other hot dogs in sugar, sodium and fat

Grilling Applegate Hotdogs

Most importantly, these Applegate hot dogs taste great!  Mind you, they’re not as fatty and sweet tasting as some leading weiners because they’re not relying on those junk ingredients to boost their appeal.  These are a real meat lover’s hot dog. We recently grilled the uncured, natural beef weiners from Applegate, dressed up with Sir Kensington’s ketchup and mustard atop yummy buns from Vermont Bread Company.

I understand that some food purists want to avoid processed meats altogether, and that’s an honorable goal.  At our house, the family is going to demand the convenience and fun of something like hot dogs sometimes.  This is the best quality product of this kind that I can give them.

Some of you who’ve championed small farmers (I’ll always be a family farm girl myself, grew up showing hogs at the fair) and supported independent food companies are understandably skeptical, too about Applegate’s recent acquisition by food giant Hormel. Here’s an excerpt from the letter that Applegate’s founder, Stephen McDonnell, wrote about that:

The acquisition will not change our positions on any of the important issues. We will continue to support labeling for GMO ingredients. We will continue to push to remove antibiotics from the farm and to improve the animal welfare standards in our supply chain.

This is all easy to say, of course. So I don’t ask you to take me at my word. Just watch what we do. Our products and practices will remain the same–and some will improve. For instance, as of this month 100 percent of our beef for hot dogs and roast beef will come from pasture raised and grass fed cattle. In addition, by this summer we will have converted 100% of our products to be free of GMO ingredients.

Applegate Kid Hotdog

Family fun, laid back summer times, even giving the man another macho turn at the grill — it’s all part of life.  When I make food purchases, I still care about what’s inside, so choosing a brand like Applegate whenever I can find a coupon for it is still part of my #CleanCouponing strategy.

You have a chance to enter below for your very own Applegate grilling kit, complete with a meat thermometer, apron, grilling mitt and great food!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As always, my opinions are my own, even when sharing sponsored posts like this.

spaghetti

#CleanCouponing Pantry Meals to Stretch Your Dollars

Post by Jessica

When Christmas is over and the holiday travel is done, our family tries hard to settle back into a routine. But, we usually realize early in the New Year that some of our overindulgences have left our wallets a little thin. And, since it’s not like we can avoid paying the electric bill, we find other ways to tighten the purse straps. The main place to save is on groceries, with some common sense #CleanCouponing techniques.

spaghetti

I like to make the food budget stretch by attempting to use everything (and I mean everything) in the pantry. It seems throughout the year I stock up on good deals. That, combined with my garden canning, can lead to some interesting, but wallet friendly, meals.

Remember that time you bought 20 boxes of pasta because it was on sale?

  • Toss it with some canned tomatoes, Italian dressing and cubed cheese and you have a quick and easy pasta salad.
  • Or use some of your homemade pasta sauce stash, sautéed with ground beef for a classic spaghetti and meat sauce.

I will admit I went overboard with canning this year. I have dozens of jars of applesauce left. But, it makes a nice fresh side for any meal!

  • The ever classic BFD (breakfast for dinner). Scramble up some eggs and whip up some pancakes. Add applesauce on the side and it’s a nice meal, mostly from pantry overstock.
  • Our family likes pork chops and applesauce any day of the week.

Some other family favorites include:

  • Drain a jar of tomatoes, drain a can of black beans, 1 cup of rice and 1.5 cups of chicken stock. Throw it all in the rice cooker and when done it’s a delicious rice meal.
  • Tomato soup made from the extra jars of tomatoes.
  • Pizza casserole also uses a lot of those pantry ingredients (mix together cooked pasta, a jar of pizza sauce and layer it with mozzarella cheese. Top with cheese and pepperoni and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes).

Be creative and have fun with dinner all while saving a little dough the #CleanCouponing way!

Holiday Christmas background with a border of gift boxes. Vector.

#CleanCouponing Holiday Gifts Twitter Party December 11!

You are invited to a #CleanCouponing Holiday Gifts Twitter party coming up Thursday, December 11th!  We’ll be chatting from 9 to 10 pm Eastern time with @FlourSackMama.

Holiday Christmas background with a border of gift boxes. Vector.

Let’s chat about traditional holiday favorites, about your traditions this time of year.

Let’s explore ways to green our Christmas gift giving.

Let’s talk about gifts of time and talents, as well.

Special giveaway of Dino Day art & holiday ebooks:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In the meantime, you can RSVP here:

Traditional food

#CleanCouponing Holiday Food edition Twitter Party November 20

Ready for Thanksgiving?  How about winter holidays beyond that?  Do you use traditional recipes for Hannukah?  Do you always prepare cranberry sauce just like your grandmother used to make it?  Are you wondering how to pick the best turkey?  Tired of turkey and looking for alternatives?  What about GMOs in your holiday dinner?

Roasted meat with garnish and cowberry pie on festive table

Let’s talk turkey and more when we gather on Twitter for the next #CleanCouponing Twitter party to talk Holiday Food!  The event is set for Thursday, November 20th from 8 to 9 pm.  Follow along with hashtag #CleanCouponing and if you ask or answer questions, be sure to use the hashtag as well so everyone can have a conversation.

Follow current and former #CleanCouponing panelists here via Twitter list.

We’ll be joined by some special guests from the Pollan Family Table cookbook.  Plus, we’re hosting special nonprofit guest Center for Food Safety.  Be sure to enter here to win a cookbook from the Pollans or a $50 gift card from Flour Sack Mama.  Plus, add your Twitter handle when you RSVP to the event below.  Looking forward to chatting on Thursday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Group running on beach jogging

You’re Invited to a Strong, not Scared #CleanCouponing Party!

*Special event post sponsored by Rustic Maka and Santa Barbara Bar in order to bring you more quality content and giveaways.

You’re invited to a special Strong, not Scared edition of our #CleanCouponing Twitter parties!  Chances are you’ve heard some scary statistics, like one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer or one in three women will be diagnosed with some type of cancer in her lifetime (chances are one in two for men).

While society may be awash in a sea of pink marketing gimmicks, especially in October, we’re focusing on cancer prevention.  Two organizations that make an earnest effort to help women understand environmental causes of cancer will be our special guests on October 23rd, available to answer questions and point you to practical resources.  We’re honored that both the Breast Cancer Fund and Women’s Voices for the Earth will be joining us at 9 pm Eastern, 6 pm Pacific for this latest #CleanCouponing Twitter party.

Clean Couponing Oct 23 Twitter Party

One personal connection for us here is Anne’s effort to raise $500 for the Breast Cancer Fund via this direct fundraiser for the organization.  It’s in memory of Anne’s mom who was lost to another type of cancer, and in honor of so many others who’ve been coping with the disease.  We appreciate your helping get the word out.

How does wellness and cancer prevention tie into the #CleanCouponing theme?  At this companion to the Flour Sack Mama blog, we say we’re frugal with more than money. That means that while we’re always looking for a discount to share with you, we know you often shop with other values in mind.  Particularly this month, we know you’re getting wiser about products flashing a pink ribbon that instead might contain cancer causing chemicals.  Informed consumers know that’s no longer acceptable.  So, we want to bring you some alternatives and a Twitter chat where everyone can share ideas and even talk about your favorite brands.

A couple of our favorite brands that have made this particular Twitter event possible in October are the scrumptious Santa Barbara Bar and the artisan body care company Rustic Maka.   Check out those links for generous giveaways from both both brands.

Here are the special #CleanCouponing discounts for you:

At the Rustic Maka website use code “Clean15″ for 15% off your order.

At the Santa Barbara Bar website use code “SantaBarbaraBarClean” for 15% off your order.

These discount codes expire January 17, 2015.

Be sure to follow our special guests @BreastCancerFnd and @Women4Earth, our sponsors @tastySBbars and @RustickMaka, co-hosts @CleanCouponing and @FlourSackMama and this diverse mix of Twitter party panelists: @TheHousingHour, @ChooseWiser, @AFewGoodJens, @ginabad, @AlmostTruth, @massgreendad.

Here’s a button-sized graphic in case you’d like to add it to your site and link back to this page.

Oct 23 Twitter party button

For now, RSVP below for the #CleanCouponing Twitter party and tell your friends about it. Let’s not be scared of those statistics.  We are not powerless.  We’re also not settling for a month of pink without real emphasis on prevention. Let’s empower one another by sharing information and staying strong for ourselves and those we love!

Making Jam2

#CleanCouponing by Gardening & Preserving

by Jessica

It is challenging to feed my family good quality, healthy food while sticking to a budget. I have four kids with big appetites and they love fresh fruits and vegetables. So, over the past few years I have taken on the challenge of giving them these foods they love without draining my bank account by creating a family garden and canning foods for the off season.

Inspecting First Tomatoes Picking Peaches

We began with the basics – tomatoes and bell peppers – in one four foot by eight foot raised bed. The whole family loved harvesting this little garden and as the kids grew, they wanted to try growing new edibles. Now, we have three raised beds as well as two in ground gardens and a significant container garden on the deck. We grow tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, strawberries, green beans, lettuce, radishes, sweet potatoes, tomatillos, basil and mint.

While the initial investment in creating a garden bed can vary based on location, soil, and type of garden; homegrown fruits and vegetables are significantly cheaper in the long run. And, if you start your plants from seed, the cost is much less than buying seedlings at the store. A quick Internet search will help you find the exact seeds that will grow well in your environment and in a pinch, you can buy the packets from your local grocery or hardware store.

Making Jam2

My kids have loved eating strawberries straight from the garden and digging up our first ever crop of sweet potatoes. But despite having eight tomato plants, the season was coming to an end and I didn’t have any extra tomatoes to can for the winter. And the children ate, literally, every strawberry the garden produced, leaving me nothing to make into jams and jellies — and I really do prefer to feed my family homemade spreads.

For winter food storage on a budget, I highly recommend checking out your local farmers market and farms. I have been able to buy tomatoes in bulk at a discount by talking to farmers. An extra 40 pounds of tomatoes can make plenty of extra pasta sauce and canned tomatoes to get my family to the next growing season.

In addition, fruit is often cheaper at “pick your own” farms. Our family had a couple great days together picking blueberries, blackberries, peaches and strawberries. And each time I open a new jar of blackberry blueberry jam, I remember how much fun we had picking those fruits. Many fruits can also be stored in the freezer.

Don’t be afraid to get creative while trying to save money and still feed your family great foods. You might start with a windowsill herb garden and discover you have a green thumb!

*Find detailed food preservation safety information at the National Center for Home Preservation.

Mark your calender for another #CleanCouponing Twitter party October 23rd!

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Organic Apple

Let’s Talk #CleanCouponing this Thursday Night!

Are you frugal with more than money?  Are you only interested in coupons and discounts IF a product is the best value or meets some special need?  Come join us Thursday, September 25 from 9 to 10 pm Eastern Time for another #CleanCouponing chat!  Follow us here on Twitter and watch for the hashtag.

Twitter chat September

We’ll keep it simple this month.  Let’s share strategies for stretching a dollar with REAL food or for seeking out non-toxic products without spending a fortune.

We’d love to hear your favorite topics that you want to see discussed here, too!

What about a value like supporting local farms and businesses?   We’ll talk a bit about that, as well.

Looking forward to chatting with you Thursday night along with the Flour Sack Mama blog!

 

Wraps Lunch CC

Rock the Lunch Box Back-to-School Ideas & Giveaway!

*This is a sponsored post in cooperation with Organic Valley, Stonyfield Organic & other Rock the Lunch Box brands, bringing you yummy content plus a giveaway!

We’re all inundated with back-to-school deals this time of year, matching prices and clipping coupons.  But is it really a good deal if the product isn’t a wholesome food we’d normally feed our kids?

Because at Clean Couponing we’re frugal with more than money, we’re looking for real food.  Even when we buy packaged, processed foods for convenience, we’re scanning for recognizable ingredients without a bunch of fillers, preservatives or artificial colors.

Melon Ball CU

An entire spectrum of colors is available when lunch planning starts in the produce aisle, garden or farmers’ market.  Those are all great places to get kids involved.

I asked my young daughter to draw her dream lunch for school.  She spent a lot of time designing a very pretty tote, then she clearly indicated she likes strawberries, milk and chocolate.  While I’m not promising candy bars at lunchtime, I can agree on chocolate milk sometimes, IF it’s organic milk from Organic Valley’s dairy cooperative.

Kid Art Lunch CC

Chocolate milk is a part of the healthy lunch we created along with other foods from Rock the Lunch Box participating brands.

Most importantly, my daughter helped me choose fresh carrots, cherry tomatoes and a bell pepper from the produce section and picked green beans from our little organic garden.  She really likes watermelon, so I tried mixing that up with cantaloupe since they’re priced low at the end of summer.  Another time, we’ll put strawberries in her lunch box; and when we can’t find great deals on fresh fruits, we’ll use frozen.

We created a mini-wrap using tortillas from Rudi’s Organic Bakery, leftover pasta sauce, turkey and bell pepper.  She had a little ranch dressing for dipping her crisp vegetables, and a colby jack cheese Stringles from Organic Valley.  Plus, we cut a circle of Rudi’s gluten-free bread and added almond butter for a high-protein addition to her lunch.  It’s likely the Annie’s chewy granola bar and Honest Kids juice will get saved for her snack later in the day.

Wraps Lunch CC

You’ll find hundreds more fun lunch ideas plus cool coupons at rockthelunchbox.com. Getting dollars and cents off wholesome foods you’d want your kids to eat:  that’s what we call “clean couponing!”

One lucky Clean Couponing or Flour Sack Mama blog reader will win a Rock the Lunch Box toolkit, featuring a Laptop Lunches Bento and free food coupons, a $50 value!  Enter via the Rafflecopter form here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We tried another Rock the Lunch Box combination at the Flour Sack Mama blog!

Thanks to the fun #RocktheLunchbox brands for food samples & lunch gear.

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions are my own.

Weinervention dogs & squash

Family #Wienervention Cookout with Applegate & Friends

*Posting in cooperation with Applegate, to bring you more yummy content!

Will your family’s end-of-summer cookout include fun food like hot dogs or healthy foods like grilled veggies?  We shouldn’t have to choose, should we?  Maybe your family, like mine, includes some of us who could live with less meat, AND those like my hungry husband who thinks it’s not a cookout without meat on the grill!

Is there a compromise?

Weinervention dogs & squash

Applegate is helping our family work through this meaty issue with a #Wienervention. Instead of having to adopt a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy to have a picnic, we can add all-beef hot dogs to the menu along with garden-grown heirloom tomatoes and squash.

These hot dogs come from humanely raised animals that haven’t been fed regular doses of antibiotics or growth hormones.  They’re minimally processed, not “cured” like most hot dogs, which avoids suspect preservatives like nitrates possibly linked to cancer.  Their ingredient list is meat and spices — no fattening corn fillers.

Family-style wienervention clean couponing

Here at Clean Couponing, we’re not exactly saying you should consume hot dogs every day; but if you choose processed meats, look for “cleaner wieners” like these!  We love the idea that with a #Wienervention we can ease family members like stubborn carnivorous husbands (ok, he eats a few vegetables) toward a more wholesome approach to food.

Hubby and the kids all agreed these wieners have great flavor!  Our fun #Wienervention kit included some yummy toppings and gear.  Did you know that Applegate weiners and Rudi’s buns can create a gluten-free hot dog experience?  Pretty good, huh?

I would personally like to see Applegate go one step further and be able to assure us that the livestock, even in their “natural” line, has not been fed genetically modified grain. Currently, that assurance only comes if you choose their “organic” varieties.  But as far as grocery store food goes, Applegate is far ahead of other deli meat makers.

If your family needs a #Wienervention too, you can visit the Applegate website for coupons plus enter to win a year’s supply of “cleaner wieners!”