Food Bank Resources in Northern San Diego County

DSCN2469A few years back, I wrote this post, which I update about once a year with information on Food Banks/Food Pantries and food co-ops in San Diego County. Considering san Diego County is larger than some New England states, I decided to dedicate a post purely to North County food resources, as I have been getting requests for those lately. Thanks to my friends Elizabeth, Kate, Yvonne, and Stephanie for assisting me with the research!

distro2.jpg
North County Neighborhood Distribution Sites 2020

There are of course the Neighborhood Distribution sites from The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. There are no requirements or proof of need (no ID either).  Just bring a few reusable bags or a cart to carry your food home.

Learn more about Neighborhood Distributions here. The 2020 Calendar of Neighborhood Distributions can be found here.

If you live in Escondido or Oceanside, check out the Interfaith Community Services Website for information on food.

In Encinitas:

  • The Community Resource Center has Bread distribution and other food distributions several times a week. More information can be found here.

In Vista:

  • North County’s Food Bank 1175 Melrose Way, Vista, CA, 92081 (760) 761-1140 The Emergency Food for Individuals program is direct food assistance available to needy individuals. Program is available every first, third and fifth Monday of the month.
  • Food Distribution at Lamb of God Food Bank 1120 Highland Dr, Vista, CA 92083 (760) 458-4655 every Tuesday and Thursdays, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

 

In San Marcos:

  • Summit Church 292 E. Barham Dr., San Marcos, CA 92078 760.471.6267 or office@summitsanmarcos.comArrive: 11:00 am, food distribution: 12:00 p – 1:00 pm

    Summit hosts a farmers market-style free food outreach 2x per month!
    Every 2nd & 4th Tuesday of every month, they give 25 lbs of food to anyone
    in need in the front parking lot. Everyone is welcome; there are no requirements!

In Ramona:

  • Ramona Food and Clothes Closet Each 3rd Friday of the month, a truck will bring perishable food items like produce to the store for distribution.  You do not need to qualify for this program.   Patrons are asked to line up before 9:00 AM in an orderly fashion and wait their turn.  

    Each person will receive approximately 20-25 pounds of food per family.  It is a first-come, first-serve basis.  You will need to bring your own bags or rolling carts.

Feeding American San Diego has a map on their website of various resources in the San Diego area, many of them require no proof of need or paperwork.

If you have any food resources to share, please leave a comment!

 

 

Organic/Healthy Savings with the Makeena App!

logo-small.pngIt’s no surprise to long-time readers of my blog or followers on Social Media that I like a good deal. You probably do too.

I also know that like me, most of you have endeavored to eat healthier over the past few years, and it can be hard to eat healthy on a budget. Most of us have turned to rebate/money-saving apps since the paper couponing industry have effectively written healthy eaters off.

I’m always on the lookout for ways to feed my family healthy food and save money. Makeena is a newer app (owned by the same company that does Common Kindness– Which is an AWESOME printable coupon website that helps give back to the charity of your choice) that features rebates for healthy food, organic food, natural toiletries, and more sustainably produced products.

Makeena can be used at ANY STORE! For use Grocery Outlet shoppers, this means that we’ll be able to save more- I practically live in their NOSH section.

Here are some screenshots I grabbed with some of the products that I’ve seen or purchased recently at Grocery Outlet:

 

 

And at the time that this post was written, there were rebates for what I call “Brandless” or “Any Brand” rebates:

  • Any Organic Vitamin K
  • Any Organic Whey Powder
  • Organic Fennel (fresh)
  • Organic or Naturally Derived All-Purpose Cleaner
  • Organic Sunscreen
  • Organic Serrano Peppers
  • Organic Baking Soda
  • Biodegradable or Organic Paper Towels
  • Organic Cantaloupe
  • Organic Mushrooms

And as far as I know, you can also use coupons when you purchase items redeemed for rebates in the app, and there may be the possibility to double dip with other apps like Checkout 51, Ibotta, Fetch Rewards, or BerryCart.

So, Cheers, here’s to another avenue of saving in 2020!

Talk Back: Have you downloaded Makeena yet? Are you excited for an app that has healthy/organic/natural products?

Three Easy Recipes for Curbing Food Waste!

About 40% of the food in the US is wasted– That is from the fields to your fridge. Pretty sad, right?  40% seems like a lot, and it is- if you break that down, on average, the typical American family throws away over 25 lbs of food per family member each year!  Throwing food away is throwing money away.

Here are some simple, frugal recipes that can help you curb the food waste in your home.

To curtail my family’s food waste, I cook mostly from scratch.  When it looks like fruit or veggies are about to go bad, I turn them into something.  Recently, I made spicy Pomodoro sauce when the tomatoes at my parents’ house were starting to look squiffy (we were house-sitting for them).

 

Mom had left 6 tomatoes in the fruit basket and they were starting to get soft.  I took them home and pulled the tomatoes and half of a sweet onion I had put in the freezer just a few days ago. The sauce was easy to make!

 

Spicy Pomodoro Sauce

Makes about 4 cups of sauce

  • 11 fresh, whole ripe tomatoes (they can be frozen)
  • 1/2 chopped large sweet onion (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon butter (or olive oil if you are vegan)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1T. Basil (dried)
  • 1 T. Oregano (dried)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon (a pinch) of crushed red pepper flakes.

 

  1. Saute onions in butter until clear, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook on low, stirring frequently, until fragrant.
  3. Add whole tomatoes (it’s ok if they are frozen), cover pot and simmer on medium for about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes start to fall apart.  Stir every 10 minutes or so.
  4. Add herbs.
  5. Simmer for 1-2 more hours.  Sauce will be chunky. Break up tomatoes as much as you’d like with a potato masher or a stick blender. Add Red pepper flakes about 30 minutes prior to serving.

Serve sauce on pasta of your choice or on a bed of lightly sauteed spinach.  If you don’t like your sauce spicy, omit the red pepper flakes.

 

86ed9fe0ab9a414c3c58b748e8ea6560.jpgAnother recent “from scratch” dish I made was strawberry syrup.  We’ve been getting a lot of strawberries lately, but last week, we didn’t get around to eating them all before they became a little squishy.

I hulled and chopped them up and tossed them into the freezer, in a bag with other chopped up hulled strawberries that were dead ripe.  The bag was getting full, so Saturday evening, I decided to make strawberry syrup for our Sunday morning pancakes.

I used my mom’s recipe for homemade pectin free jam and just didn’t cook it as long. You can substitute in any other fruit you prefer, except pineapple, kiwi, mangoes, bananas, or coconut (those fruits lack natural pectin and the mixture won’t thicken).  This is best with berries.

Strawberry pancake syrup

Makes about 2 cups

  • 3 cups chopped ripe fruit (can be frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups of white sugar (do not use Splenda or honey)
  • 1/4 cup of water
  1. Add all of the ingredients together in a pot, cook on medium, and stir every 5-10 minutes to keep the sugar from burning.
  2. Once it has boiled and the fruit has thawed (if working with frozen fruit), mash up the fruit with a potato masher.
  3. Turn the heat to low and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture looks glassy.
  4. Remove from heat, pour into a container with a lid. Once cooled,  you can store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

The mixture will be slightly chunky, and not as firm as jam, but a little more substantial than pancake syrup. This is also good on ice cream or pour a few tablespoons into plain Greek yogurt.

There are a lot of great dishes you can make from scratch anytime- you don’t need to wait for the veggies or fruit to start to turn!

We make applesauce from scratch at least 3 times a month.

Applesauce in the Crockpot

It’s Simple! Peel and chop apples (whatever quantity and variety you have on hand), toss them into the crockpot with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water and let it cook for 4-6 hours. Hot applesauce is the BEST!

I’d love to hear about how your family combats food waste. If you are looking for additional ideas, check out my post about food waste in 30 minutes here.

 

10 Tips to Stay on Budget for Groceries

DSCN7877.JPG

I frequently get skeptical looks, the side eye, or people thinking I’m starving my kids when I tell them that our grocery budget is $80/week.

It takes a lot of work, but it is doable. I cook a lot from scratch- it’s healthy, cheap, and I can control what goes into each dish (hidden veggies, fruit, less sugar, etc.). I can make a cheese pizza at home for less than $4, and that is enough pizza for the kids for two meals!

Here are a few of our family tactics to stay on budget:

  1. CASH! Go to the bank/ATM and get your grocery money out of the bank every week. This is a great way to start. I get $80 out of the ATM each Saturday for the upcoming weeks’ groceries.
  2. Inventory your Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry. Bonus- You’ll also find stuff that needs to be thrown out or donated. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printables, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.
  3. Menu Plan. Start by using what you’ve got on-hand. Eat food that’s on sale or in season. We eat a lot of strawberries in the summer because they are cheap!
  4. Make a grocery list. Stick to the list Don’t be afraid to substitute brands, or make changes based on what is on sale, or any in-store markdowns you find.
  5. Don’t be afraid to go to more than one store. I’m not saying run all over town, but going to two stores is OK. In our area, there are a 99 Cents Only store and a Grocery Outlet in the same shopping Center. I hit up both each week. Then, on the way home, I stop at Food4Less and buy milk (cheapest in town!), eggs, and bread (if 99 Cents Only doesn’t have the high protein bread we like).
  6. Eat Less Meat. Not only does it save money, but it’s better for the environment.
  7. Take advantage of local resources. There are a few food co-ops in our area. Additionally, there are free produce distributions too. A couple of my friends and I split a co-op lot twice a month. It comes out to less than $20 per person, and we get all kinds of cool stuff. A quick google search can help you find both in your area.  In the summer, we take advantage of Kid’s free lunches too.
  8. Coupon and/or use money-saving apps.  My complete list of apps can be found here. Right now my favorite apps are Fetch Rewards and Ibotta.  I love that I can use Fetch at any store. It helps because I shop a lot of Grocery Outlet and 99 Cents Only.
  9. Speaking of which… Don’t forget to check out stores like 99 Cents Only. There are all kinds of great bargains. Here is my list of 10 Great Buys at 99 Cents Only!
  10. Be Flexible. Some weeks you will go over budget. It happens. Sometimes you need to stock up on staples, or your family wants to eat something that isn’t on sale. Sometimes you really want to order a pizza and wings. That’s OK! Frugality is a journey, it’s not a punishment or a life of austerity and suffering. You can still live a fun, full life while being frugal.

Talk Back: Share a few of your families tips for staying on budget?

Stretch your Grocery Budget with Free Produce Distributions!

Screen Shot 2019-04-13 at 5.52.21 PM.png
This list is only central, south bay, and east county locations. North County locations can be found on the Neighborhood Distribution Program website.

It’s a pretty common complaint that kids eat A LOT during the summer. There are lots of causes: Increased activity, change in schedules, and let’s face it- kids just eat a lot. This can increase a families grocery budget at a time when they are already spending extra money on activities for their kiddos.

I have a possible solution! Check out the San Diego and North County Food Bank Neighborhood Distribution Program! From their website, “The Neighborhood Distribution Program distributes food to thousands of individuals and families once a month at more than 20 different sites throughout San Diego County.

Distributions take place in our nonprofit partners’ parking lots. The majority of the food distributed consists of fresh fruits and vegetables which is part of the Food Bank’s Nutrition Initiative to provide healthy, nutrient-rich food to our clients.

Neighborhood Distribution Program sites welcome anyone in need of food assistance. I.D. and documentation ARE NOT required, and there are no income or asset restrictions for this program.”

You may be wondering, “But what do you get?” Well, one of the distribution points, Faith Chapel in Spring Valley posts photos on their  Meet the Need Ministry Instagram page!

Screen Shot 2019-06-19 at 4.45.30 PM.png

White onions, red potatoes, watermelons, honeydew melons, oranges and Washington apples were available today. And it’s not just a few of each. Each person who came through got a bag of white onion, a bag of red potatoes, 1 large watermelon, as many honeydew melons as they wanted, a bag of oranges, and a dozen apples.

This produce is often “ugly” or considered an “allowable second” (a production term used in several industries for an item that is functional but may not be perfect looking), but it’s always tasty and nutritious.

If you’ve got hungry faces that need food this summer, I recommend stopping by your local distribution at least once this summer. If you aren’t in the San Diego County area, check with your local food bank for Neighborhood Distribution Program.

Don’t forget that there are tons of free summer lunch locations all over the state of CA (for more info on San Diego locations, check out this post). Text FOOD  (Or COMIDA for a list in Spanish) to 877-877, or call 211 and you can find a list of free summer lunch locations near you.

And if you need further help, here is a post with food resources in San Diego County. If you are outside San Diego County, Feeding America has a really great Food Bank Locator.

 

Talk Back: What is your kids favorite summer snack?

6 Tips for Getting Ready for Back to School!

back-to-school.jpgIt’s coming… For some of us, back to school is NEXT WEEK! For others it’s later in August, and some lucky folks, have until Labor Day in September. Regardless of when your kids go back, it’s nice to be prepared and save money.

 

Here are a few ideas to help you prepare and stay on budget!

Packing an Awesome School Lunch.

Shop Online to Save Big-  I love shopping online, especially at JCPenney and Kohls. Lots of great deals to be had, coupons, and ship to store to save even more!

There is a backpack and school supply giveaway in Santee on August 19th. More info here.  If you need school supplies sooner, Assemblywoman Dr. Shirley Weber is sponsoring a Back to School Kick off and Community Health Fair on 8/11/18.

If you are worried about being able to provide a nutritious, healthy lunch for your kiddos, The San Diego Food Bank sponsors Neighborhood Distributions throughout the month all over the county. You can go and get free, fresh produce- usually between 10-30 lbs. per family.  No proof of need- Just grab your reusable shopping bags and go!

a72904da152a0795ba05aaecba3a28bc.jpgAdjusting back to the school-year schedule can be a little tough- That’s why we start to get the kids back to bed at their regular time starting the beginning of August. For our kiddos, keeping them busy and active all day, really helps. Trips to the playground, beach, zoo, and pool really help.

We’ll be hitting up the night time zoo this week!

And one last back to school tip: Let your kids play and hang out with friends as much as possible before they go back, especially if they aren’t able to see some of their friends at school. We’re hosting a K’Nex Play Time Party with Tryazon this Wednesday at Shadow Hill Park in Santee! If you and your gang will be in the area, please stop by! There will bea chance to win prizes, yummy snacks, and cool toys!

 

Free Food Boxes from Feeding the Flock

file5201250180575.jpg

San Diego, CA area readers, this post is a huge blessing for those who may be facing a little food insecurity right now. Feeding the Flock is a local 501c3 non profit organization. Their goal is to “feed you physically and spiritually.”

Two Fridays a month they are offering free food boxes containing various fresh and shelf-stable food, perfect for anyone who may need a just a little help.

There is no proof of need required, just sign up here.  When you pick up your box, don’t forget your ID.

You can also check up with Feeding the Flock on Facebook. They have lots of great local events helping those in need and the under served. They are looking for volunteers for their events, so if you aren’t in need, but want to help (with time or supplies), contact them!