How To Be Confident When Grocery Shopping For Your Family

“Wouldn’t it be great if you had a trusted field guide who could take you by the hand and walk you through every aisle of the grocery store, explain the health benefits and concerns of each food group, and then offer tips for selecting the best, most nutritious variety of each?”

 How to feed your family real food and be confident about it

Feeding our families is tricky business today. As I sit here writing this, I’m overwhelmed. What questions should I highlight in this piece? 

“Is it better to buy organic or local?”
“What foods are on the dirty dozen list again?”
“Should we buy cage-free or grass-fed?”
“The packaging looks 'green' and healthy, and it says it’s 'made with natural ingredients,' but it uses partially hydrogenated oils—didn’t I read that those are unhealthy?”
“This product says it’s organic, but it has 23 grams of sugar in it—that can’t be good, right?”
“Or,” and this is a big one in our house, “how do we store these very expensive organic blueberries? Last time they spoiled so quickly.” 

The Real Food Grocery Guide isn’t going to answer every possible question, but it will give you a solid base of information so you can be confident about what you’re feeding your family.

The author, Maria Marlowe, is a certified integrative nutrition health coach who wrote The Real Food Grocery Guide to “serve as the manual I wish I had when I was making the switch to real, nourishing foods that support health—the stuff our bodies were actually designed to eat in the first place.”

Here are three areas that I found most beneficial.

1. The section on produce has been a game-changer for me and is the reason I decided to buy this book. I read an advanced digital copy last summer via NetGalley, and when I got to the produce section, I knew I had to own a hard copy of this book. My daughter loves fruits and vegetables and is always willing to experiment with new foods. But we’ll often stand in the produce section with puzzlement. If we want to buy papaya, what do we look for? Well, Marlowe tells us to look at the color. It should be mostly yellow or orange-yellow. The body should have a slight give, but the neck should be firm. Brown spots on the skin won’t affect the flavor. She also tells us the most nutritious varieties to purchase, how to store it (properly storing produce is a big money-saver), and even how to cut it up and eat it.

2. Buying fresh food and eating healthy can feel expensive. Marlowe offers many ideas for saving money while shopping for healthy foods. Two online options that were new to me were and

3. Oils—Cooking with oils has befuddled me for years. (Please don’t laugh—I really don’t enjoy cooking.) I know that vegetable oil is bad for you and olive oil is good for you. But you can’t cook with olive oil because it has a low smoke point. (What is a smoke point anyway?) Marlowe answers that question and walks you through all the different kinds of oils, what to use when, and what phraseology to look for on the label.

4. The last section that I think is super helpful is the chapter on packaged foods. In this chapter, Marlowe defines the buzzwords that often show up on the packaging. What do labels such as Fair Trade, Local, and Natural mean and how does it affect the food we’re buying?

She also explains why it’s better to read the ingredients list when you are deciding if a food meets your standards for healthy eating. She also includes a large graphic of a Nutrition Facts panel that breaks down what all the sections mean.

I purchased the physical copy of The Real Food Grocery Guide because I love physical books, but it might be better to own the ebook version. Then you can pull it up on your phone when you are standing in the grocery store trying to remember what fresh okra should look like.

You can purchase your copy of The Real Food Grocery Guide at Amazon.

Do you have a favorite book that helps you with healthy-eating? Please let me know in the comments. I’m always looking to add to my TBR list.

How To Be Confident When You Buy Your New Home

Buying a home can be a scary process. There’s a lot to know, and there’s a lot of money at stake. Buying a home is likely the most significant purchase you’ll ever make, so it’s normal to be nervous and intimidated about what lies ahead. 

 How to be confident when you buy a new home.

Ilyce Glink has written a book that will leave you feeling prepared and confident as you begin your home buying adventure. 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask “is for anyone who feels even a little unsure about the process of buying a home.” In its fourth edition, it’s been updated to deal with the most current market issues.

There are three ways to read this book—read cover to cover, read only the Fast Pass section (9 must answer questions), or pick it up and use it as a reference tool when you encounter a specific problem.

The Fast Pass section is the first part of the book, and it’s nine questions that Glink says you really must answer before you jump into the buying process. These questions include: Should I rent or should I buy? How much should I spend vs. what the bank says I can afford?

You’ll benefit from these questions only if you are honest with yourself. Don’t try to convince yourself that you’ll be happy with a quiet house in the country if you love the weekend nightlife near your current home. Glink says, “Honesty…is crucial to help you find the right house, at the right price, and on the right terms.”

After the Fast Pass section, Chapter 2 starts with “How Do I Know What I Want to Buy?” This whole section deals with the beginning of the home-buying process. To help you discover what you want in a house, Glink has created two worksheets. Working through these worksheets and having them on hand will keep you focused so you’d don’t get distracted by shiny object syndrome. You don’t want to end up with a three-bedroom house that has a spectacular pool but only one bathroom if there are two adults and three teens in your family.

There are numerous topics covered in this book. But here is a small sampling of the questions included.

What’s the difference between an agent and a broker? Followed by:
    17 Questions to Ask Before You Hire an Agent or Broker
How do I know what I can afford to spend?
    There’s a worksheet to help you with that.
How much will it cost to own and maintain a home?
How do I apply for a loan?
What are lender’s fees?
What are junk fees?
What is earnest money?
What if the seller won’t give back the earnest money?
When we make an offer, what contingencies should we include?
What do we do in a bidding war?
How do I find a real estate attorney?
How do I find a reputable professional home inspector? Followed by:
    Home Buyer’s Watch List—12 Things To Watch Out For When Visiting Homes
What Is title insurance? Followed by:
    Top 20 Things Title Insurance Protects You From
What happens during the closing process?
What if we discover a problem after closing?

After 400 pages of all the questions you can think of, and many questions you didn’t know you had, there are three appendices.
    Top 10 Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Make
    6 Simple Things You Can Do to Make the Home-Buying Process Easier
    5 Mistakes People Make When Buying New Construction

There is also a glossary of Real Estate Terms Every Home Buyer Should Know.

It’s rare that I use the word “impressive” to describe a book. But 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask is an impressive book. Even if you are on your second or third home, there are 400+ pages of information to help you with almost every possible situation.

Armed with this comprehensive tool, you will be able to handle the home buying process with confidence and optimism. And at $12.85 for the most recent paperback edition, it’s a small price to pay for confidence when you are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Do you have a favorite book or resource for buying a home? Please share it in the comments. 

Book Review: Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House

Your home is your retreat from the world. It is your refuge and should be a place where you can relax and unwind.

 The Art & Science of Keeping House. 

But if your home is not running smoothly, you may feel agitated instead of calm and peaceful. It’s difficult for a home to be restorative when the floors are covered in dog hair, and surfaces are piled high with books, papers, and other paraphernalia of life. Eating well and within budget is difficult if the refrigerator is always empty and the dishes are always dirty. You may feel panic when your neighbor stops by and wants to see the pergola you built. He’s thinking of doing something similar in his yard. But rather than leading him through the house to the backyard, you back him away from the door where he’s standing and guide him around the outside of the house, through the side yard, because you do not want him to see the mess that is your kitchen.

Home Comforts is not an ordinary book on housekeeping. Cheryl Mendelson is a Ph.D., and a lawyer who  identifies as “excessively domestic.” In her world, domesticity would not be taken seriously. She says in her opening chapter, “Without thinking much about it, I knew I would not want this information about me to get around. After all, I belong to the first generation of women who worked more than they stayed home. We knew that no judge would credit the legal briefs of a housewife, no university would give tenure to one, no corporation would promote one, and no one who mattered would talk to one at a party.” 

Mendelson wrote Home Comforts because she saw a need in the market for a modern housekeeping manual. A book that is practical and teaches you how to “make a comfortable home.”  She wants you to see that, “Housekeeping creates cleanliness, order, regularity, beauty, the conditions for health and safety, and a good place to do and feel all the things you wish and need to do and feel in your home…[Home is] the place where you can be more yourself than you can be anywhere else.”

Home Comforts is not about crafts or decorating. It’s about taking care of your home and everything inside it. For example you can learn: How to create routines so that things get done on a regular basis, how to sanitize laundry after a nasty bout of the flu, how to make simple clothing repairs, how to use a dust mop, how to clean every single kind of stain known to man, how to shop for furniture, what to look for when buying new bedding. 

Home Comforts in the most comprehensive book on the market. You’ll learn how to clean every possible kind of fabric or textile you might have in your home.  How to efficiently ventilate your home. How to care for the various woods and metals found in your house. And then it also covers administrative things like how long to keep paperwork, purchasing insurance, record keeping, and contracts. She also includes things like fire safety, electrical safety, and water safety.

And if you’re too busy to do much of the housework yourself, there’s even a chapter on hiring household help, the legalities and taxes involved, and even a section explaining how to write references when your help moves on.

Home Comforts can be read straight-through, beginning to end, or you can treat it as a reference book, using the index to find answers to questions as you need them answered. It was written for those who are entirely new to the idea of keeping house and those who already have systems in place and only want to learn more.

In addition to being an excellent reference book for your home library, it would make an excellent housewarming or shower gift.

Purchase your copy of Home Comforts on Amazon.