Porchlight Community Services

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 11.02.54 PM.pngFor those of you who have read my blog for a while, you know that food insecurity is a cause near and dear to my heart.

In San Diego County, one in seven families experience food insecurity. Food insecurity means you’re not sure where your next healthy, nutritious meal is coming from. It means you probably don’t have extra cans in your cupboard, or that you need to be more than just a little creative when it comes to cooking that a few days before payday.

Food insecurity is an issue that I feel very strongly about. No one should be hungry, and no one should have to eat mass-produced, poorly made, food devoid of nutritional just to fill their belly. Quality, nutritious food should be available to anyone and everyone at an affordable price.

That is one reason I am so excited to share with you today about an awesome organization in Linda Vista called Porchlight Community Services.

Porchlight Community Services is different from a lot of other food organizations in that they are a food rescue organization. They work with produce distributors, grocery stores, and bakery to rescue food that is otherwise destined for the dumpster.

Next time you’re at the grocery store take a look at all the fruit, all the produce, all the baked goods. The likelihood of all of those items will sell before their pull date is slim.

So when items are pulled off the shelf prior to their expiration date, they are frequently thrown in the trash. That trash heads to the landfill. Grocery store, bakeries, food distributors do not compost their unwanted food. Food rescue agencies like Porchlight Community Services pick up the food (that is still good, by the way, pull dates are usually arbitrary, and only affect the appearance of the food, not it’s quality or viability). They then take the food back to their offices where it is gone over to make sure that it is still quality, and edible. And it is been distributed to families who support Porchlight Community Services mission.

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 11.14.09 PM.pngProduce that can not be distributed (it’s leftover at the end of the event), is often donated to neighbors with animals, or local animal organizations. Once again, eliminating food waste and helping others,

Some of the companies that donate to Porchlight Community Services include Ralphs, Boudin Bakery, Wal-Mart, Starry Lane Bakery, and California Produce.

Porchlight Community Services is not your average food bank or pull date co-op. There is no minimum or maximum amount of money your family needs to make to participate. Some people who shop at Porchlight do so because they believe in the mission of keeping food out of landfills (like my family- it hurts my heart to see perfectly good food go to waste). Some people go to Porchlight Community Services because they are in need of wholesome nutritious groceries that fit a specialized diet (like Gluten-free or Dairy-free) but can’t afford to shell out money every week or two for the costly groceries at a mainstream grocery store.  Some people are in a tight spot and need to stretch what little money they have until payday.

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An example of past food items available

Distributions are usually held weekly. You can find out about upcoming events here on their website, or follow them on Facebook.

All funds that are raised go towards paying rent and utilities- to keep the Mission of feeding others going. 

If you are interested in helping Porchlight Community Services, they are always looking for volunteers to help unload food as it comes in on distribution days, organize and stock shelves, refrigerators, and freezers.

They also need help volunteering with event prep- setting up tables and bins.

This might be a good opportunity for girl scout troops or other civic organizations! Contact Porchlight Community Services here to find out about more volunteer opportunities.

 

 

8/9/19- Friday Freebies and Deals!

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It’s Friday- Time for Freebies and Deals! This week is pretty small, but everyone is a good one!

 

Deals:

Lodge Cast Iron Scrub Brush ONLY $4.56 on Amazon

Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection $39.99 (Reg. $100)

FREE Harrys Razor, Shaving Cream and Cover (just $3 to ship)

Eyeshadow Brush Set ONLY $5.50 (Reg. $13)SoBe LifeWater ONLY$ 0.90 Each on Amazon

Melissa & Doug Fill & Roll Grocery Basket ONLY $10.99 (Reg. $25)

 

Freebies:

Free Books, Journals, Stickers & More (I’ve done this one before- I scored a journal)

2 Free Chicken Tacos & Shake at Del Taco

Sprint Customers – Free $2 Amazon Gift Card

Free Pack of Baseball Cards on August 10th

National Bowling Day – 2 Free Game of Bowling on Aug. 10th

Free Sample Box Tuesday from PINCHme is Coming SOON

Free Fruitlove Spoonable Smoothie at Albertsons

Free Quest Protein Bar for Kroger & Affiliates

Fly for Free if Your Last Name is Green or Greene

Free Subscription to Fast Company

PayPal Users – $5 Off at Subway (I’m trying this today!)

Free Sejoyia Coco-Thins at Walmart & Kroger

Free 24-Count Crayola Washable Sidewalk Chalk at Target

Hot Weather Recipe Round Up!

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I mentioned in the Weekly Meal Plan post yesterday that it’s going to be a hot one this week. Ugh.

That means lots of time swimming and lots of time at the YMCA enjoying their AC and doing fun activities- Big Kid just did the fitness orientation and he is excited to start exercising. Mostly he wants to take boxing classes with me on Saturdays.

All that activity requires good, healthy fuel, and I do not want to fire up the stove or oven when it’s over 90 outside.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes to serve when it’s hot outside!

As you can tell there are a lot of dessert recipes. Because, really, who doesn’t like dessert?

 

Talk Back: What do you cook when it’s hot?

 

 

 

 

8/5/19 Meal Plan Monday

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The past week has been crazy! Running around, having adventures, trying to beat the heat. This week I’m trying to finish up a couple pieces, get some new content researched, and get the house ready for out of town guests who arrive early next week. If you’ve got kids, you feel me on the “It takes a week to get your house ready” vibe.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me. The kids will be enjoying free lunches all over the county with free activities and playtime before or after lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot (I am picking up my new crockpot this week) in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: I won’t lie.. We went to Costco and had pizza and churros.
  • Tuesday:  Leftover Night- There is leftover Spanish Rice, Beans, chicken breasts and salad lurking in the fridge.
  • Wednesday: Grilled cheese and Quinoa Tri-color pepper salad
  • Thursday: Something cool- it’s supposed to be really hot Thursday. I’m thinking about sandwiches and fruit salad.
  • Friday:  Date Night! I’ve got a Gift card to Smash Burger to use!
  • Saturday: Homemade Pizza Night
  • Sunday: Crockpot Enchilada- It’s a new recipe. If it turns out well I’ll share it.

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

7 Frugal Ways to Beat The Heat!

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Ok, so it’s not *that* hot, but close…

This week has been slightly hellish. It’s hot, humid, and just so gross no one wants to move.

It’s too expensive for us to run our AC all the time (Thanks SDG&E!), and really, I don’t want to spend all day in the house, so here are my top 7 Frugal Tips to Beat the Heat in San Diego!

  1. Check out your local library. Both County Libraries and City of San Diego Libraries have awesome summer programs for kids and adults!
  2. There is still time to sign up for Kids Bowl Free All Summer! Just pay for bowling shoe rental!
  3. Visit Balboa Park for Free Tuesdays at various museums each week. Another free activity in Balboa Park is the Botanical Garden and Lily Pond. Right next door is the Spanish Art Village, which is fun to explore as well. Pack some snacks and make a day of it.
  4. Check out your local indoor mall for fun family activities. In San Diego, we’ve got a couple- Plaza Bonita, Parkway Plaza, and Westfield North County (the mall formerly known as North County Fair). Each one has monthly fun activities for kids and families- just check your local mall’s website.
  5. Have you seen the kinds of Groupons that are available lately? Uptown Jungle has 6 options! There are all kinds of fun activities from Axe throwing to waterparks, you’ll be having all sorts of frugal adventures in no time.
  6. Get in the Water! Beach, lake, river, local pool… whatever. Heck, get in a kiddie pool and splash around. Don’t forget the SPF and snacks.
  7. If you want to stay home, close up all the windows, draw the shades/curtains, turn on all your fans, set the AC to something comfy but not arctic (for us, that’s 80-82 degrees when it’s going to be over 100 outside). Once the house is chilled out, pop some popcorn and assemble some awesome snacks (We had this pumpkin/fuck it bucket because I received it in the mail to review), make a pillow fort and watch some fun movies. We did that the other day. We watched Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Zootopia.

If you are looking for a way to cool down in your pillow fort, this little dude is pretty cool (haha, temperature pun!)

Talk Back: What are your favorite ways to beat the heat?

Is Summer Snacking Wrecking your Grocery Budget?

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Chatting with a friend via Insta yesterday, we were lamenting the “OMG DO THEY EVER STOP EATING!!” of summer vacation.

I’ve never begrudged my kids snackies when they are hungry, but seriously, on days when we are at home, building Legos and watching movies- THEY EAT ALL DAY.  I can’t let them rummage through the cupboard and eat whatever, so I started the snack box (for the pantry) and snack drawer (in the fridge).

We’ve had “The snack box” and the “snack drawer” in our kitchen for about 2 years now.

In the cupboard, I’ve got a basket like this one. It’s full of various types of treats and snacks. Instead of buying individually bagged treats, I often buy a box of whatever (in the photo below it’s animal crackers) and divide the large box into snack-sized Ziploc bags).  It just depends on what is available at Grocery Outlet and 99 Cents Only on my weekly shopping trip. Those are my go-to snack stores.

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The Snack Drawer in the Fridge
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Pantry Snack Box- Refilled weekly

The Pantry Snack Box contains shelf-stable stuff: Juice boxes, crackers, chips, dried fruit, fruit snacks, individual Peanut/nut butter cups. I usually tuck a couple bags of microwave popcorn too. Sadly, we have none left. I was informed that I *must* rectify that matter tomorrow.

The Fridge Snack Drawer contains some of the following: Cheese sticks, yogurt, Ziploc bags of fruit or veggies (watermelon wedges, strawberries, grapes, carrots, celery, and jicama are just a few favorites), little cups of hummus, guac, ranch dip (homemade with greek yogurt and ranch dip mix).

The snacks vary by week, and I took these pics today- It’s midweek and they are pretty picked over- I did refill the Pantry Snack Box with stuff from the cupboard. That’s my secret- don’t put it all out at once. I stash the extras in the back of the pantry, where tiny arms can’t reach.

For those who read my blog regularly, you know that my weekly family grocery budget is $80. I spend about $25 of my weekly budget on stuff for the snack box/drawer. Sometimes more, sometimes less. During the school year, the function of these becomes for packing lunches in the morning. The Big Kid doesn’t really like sandwiches, and as he’s a vegetarian he gets most of his protein from nuts/seed butter and dairy sources.

I also keep Go-gurt style tube yogurts in the freezer- Those are mostly for Bitty, Big Kid doesn’t care for yogurt too often.

For the grown-ups, there is a basket in the pantry full of protein and fiber snack bars (Along with other more “grownup” snacks- which are sometimes new snacks that the kids veto after sampling). I get those at Grocery Outlet or 99 Cents Only. Grocery Outlet locations in my area always have a great variety of protein bars, snack bars, and protein cookie (Like these, which are also a hit with the Big Kid, so I have to dole them out) for a lot less than grocery or club stores.

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Close-up of the Pantry Snack Box. There is a little bit of something for everyone!

This is how my family keeps everyone fed at home and on budget. I’d love to hear about your family’s ideas to solve this issue.

Top 5 Freebie Sites that Actually Deliver!

Y’all know how much I love freebies, I post them at least once a week.  There are a lot of sites out there that promise to deliver freebies, but fall short.

Here are my top five favorite freebie sites:

  1. PinchMe– Answer a series of questions about your household and shopping habits in the Member Profile. They learn what you like and offer samples just for you.

Once you’ve had a chance to try your samples, complete a short feedback survey to tell Pinchme what you think of the samples.   New samples are available once a month!

2. MySavings– MySavings updates their freebies and deals daily! I love the variety of samples they post. And if the offer is no longer valid, you just click the Expired button and notify them.

3. Social Nature- If you are into Organic/Natural/Healthy products, then Social Nature is up your alley. Sign up and apply to sample products that you are interested in. I get probably 1-2 products to sample each month. And most of the time it’s full-size products, not just a tiny sample.

4. Smiley360  is a Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing website. Sign up for campaigns and you will receive samples to use, and coupons to share with friends. Report your sharing and earn points! I’ve received Laundry detergent (full-sized bottles), vitamins, supplements, tampons, and razors all in the last year.

5.  Home Tester Club is pretty cool. They are one of my new favorites. You sign up to review items and they send you something. A lot of the time they don’t notify you prior to shipping, you’ll get a package in the mail and a few days later, you’ll get an email notifying you that you were selected and a link to the survey to complete once you have sampled the product. I’ve gotten a Changing Pad Cover, Flushable Wipes, Makeup Remover, and a moisturizer.

BONUS- Looking for some freebies to celebrate your birthday? Check out my list here