1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

Blogs

How to be a better grocery shopper

Diana Duong | posted Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Learn how to pick the freshest produce and the most fibre-rich grains  —  not to mention the best deals and the shortest lines.

Pick perfect produce

Choose fruit that feels plump and heavy for its size. The skin should be firm and smooth with no tears, soft spots or bruises. Store fruit away from veggies (some fruit produces a gas that can make vegetables spoil).

Know your grains

Whole-grain products give you the benefits of both bran and germ, which are packed with vitamins and minerals. Whole wheat products, on the other hand, have had some of the bran and germ removed, although you still get more fibre from whole wheat than you do from white bread.

Get smarter about calcium

Keep an eye on milk fat (MF) in the dairy aisle. Angela Dufour, a registered dietitian in Bedford, N.S., recommends milk or yogurt with no more than 2 percent MF and cheese with less than 20 per cent. “You’ll save calories and still get the same amount of calcium.” When baking, buy buttermilk — it contains less fat than 2 per cent milk and provides the same texture.

Buy better beans

Dried beans should be uniform, smooth and shiny (when rinsing, pick out any that are discoloured, shrivelled or broken). Canned and dried are equally nutritious, but canned beans contain extra sodium. Rinsing canned chickpeas, lentils and beans for 30 seconds has been shown to reduce the sodium by 40 percent.

Shop strategically

Check flyers to see when the sale week begins and shop closer to the start date, when stock is plentiful. The best time to shop to avoid long lines is weeknights after 8 p.m., when the after-work rush is over and some meats, baked goods and produce with a short shelf life are marked down.

Be adventurous

Shop by the season and live by the flyer, says Dufour. “Instead of stocking up on bananas, why not try the pomegranates on sale? Try a new fruit or veggie each month to add different staples to your diet.”

Our favourite Mother’s Day gift ideas

Suzanne Ellis | posted Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Looking for a special gift to give to your one-and-only mom this Mother’s Day?

We’ve assembled our favourite ideas that won’t break the bank and that your mom is certain to love!

Frame a favourite family photo. In the digital age, it seems we rarely take the time to process photos anymore. But there’s something lovely about a framed photo, and if it’s a well-composed photo of the family — perhaps professionally done, or one taken on vacation — we guarantee your mom will love it. Or, take it a step further and make an album for your mom — photos from a recent trip or a week at the cottage. She’ll love flipping through it and remembering what a great time you had.

A hobby-inspired gift. Does your mom love to garden? Buy her a new pair of gardening gloves, a gardening tool or two, and some seed packets or seedlings. If your mom is active, head to the sporting goods store and pick up an accessory or two based on the sport of her choice. If she loves yoga, buy her a few drop-in classes. If your mom loves to cook, pair a new cookbook with a few fun kitchen accessories. A gift based on something you know she loves to do is thoughtful and will be appreciated.

Give your mom a spa day at home. I’m sure we’d all love to treat our moms to a luxurious spa retreat, but those can be expensive. It’s easy to give your mom a spa day at home – buy some scented bubble bath or bath salts, an individually-packed facial masque, some moisturizer, and a new nail colour for her fingers and/or toes. Bump up the experience with her favourite magazines, herbal tea, and a healthy spa-inspired lunch.

A book or magazine subscription. Reading can be a luxury for the busy mom. So give her a good book or magazine, and, perhaps more importantly, make sure she has some down time that day to turn a few pages. Looking for a good read for Mom? Head on over to our Cityline Book Club for a few suggestions!

A summery tote. Buying a new bag for Mom can be expensive, but with a tote it doesn’t have to be. Totes are endlessly practical, and because they’re often less expensive, you can find one in a bright, summery shade. We love bright oranges, crisp apple greens, and rosy pinks – but you know your mom best. Pick a shade and style you think would appeal to her.

Make your mom breakfast in bed. It’s true that homemade gifts are the best – especially when that homemade gift is breakfast in bed. We’ve got great ideas on how to do breakfast in bed for your mom, including recipe suggestions, right here!

What are you doing for your mom this Mother’s Day! Share your ideas in the comments below!

How to budget for a family vacation

Cityline | posted Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Family vacations are a terrific way to bond with your loved ones — tons of quality time together, and no housework to do! — but  they can be prohibitively expensive.

We asked Bruce Sellery for his advice on how to plan a family vacation that won’t break the bank.

Where do you start?

Bruce likens the family vacation to a home renovation in that everything costs more than you think. Write down all the costs — flights, hotels, rental cars, gas, meals, entertainment, and souvenirs. Once you reach your total, add a buffer of 10% to account for any surprise costs that may arise.

How can you find deals?

Think about what’s important to you and your family — are you keen to try a particular restaurant that you know will be pricey? Look to save in other areas such as the hotel. Hotels and flights cost a lot, so look for package deals online. Consider travelling at off-peak days (Tuesday, Wednesday) and times. Book your flights well in advance for your best chance to score a deal.

Spend on moments/experiences, rather than things.

What are you and your kids going to remember: a vivid fireworks display, or the stuffed animal bought from the gift shop? Moments/experiences tend to outweigh material items in our memories, so make the goal of your family vacation to create memorable experiences that your kids will remember for a lifetime.

How are you going to pay for it?

Don’t wait until the end of your vacation to think about how you’re going to pay for it. Loading up the credit card is not the way to go. As Bruce advises, this needs to be part of the planning process, and ideally the vacation is saved up for and even paid for before you go. Think about trade-offs and discuss them with your family — for example, tell your kids that in exchange for the amazing vacation you’re going to take, you’re not going to have any restaurant meals for a couple of months.

How do you stick to the budget?

It’s challenging, there’s no doubt, to stick to a budget when you’re away and having a great time. Try to succumb giving in to temptation when you’re faced with it, and set realistic expectations with your family in advance. For instance, tell your kids that they’ll each be allowed one souvenir to bring back from the trip. If you have a good sense of your budget going in to the trip, you won’t have to stress about expenses every waking moment. This is supposed to be a vacation for you, too!

Page 2 of 212