I don't know about y'all, but it seems like these days, every time I go to the gas station or the grocery store, I find myself saying "WTF?" (sometimes audibly, sometimes not) when I notice the prices. It really is amazing that with the work and housing crises that we're currently going through, somehow we're also trying to figure out how to make $20 to get our gas talk above a quarter full and a hundred bucks to get us past two plastic grocery bags.
While it's pretty hard to come up with gas hacks, in the spirit of doing what I can to get y'all ready for the holiday season, I did want to share several grocery shopping hacks; 12 that can hopefully get you more bang for your buck, so that itw can be as stressless (on your budget) as possible.
1. Download an App
These days, there's an app for just about everything. The cool thing about grocery-related ones is many of them can help you to keep some extra coins in your pocket. Ones that you should definitely check out include Checkout 51 (which gives you a list of offers, then gives you cash back whenever you purchase something that's on the list), ibotta (which gives you money when you take a pic of your receipt and submit it; you need to reach $20 and you typically get it back within a day) and Coupons (which offers a good variety of paperless coupons that you can easily scan at checkout).
2. Use a Calculator
Now tell the truth — how often do you actually use the calculator app that is there for your convenience on your smartphone? I once read that a couple should be spending around $130-150 a week on groceries; however, with inflation and all of this shipping drama that's currently going on, it's a pretty safe assumption that you should set aside $25-50 more, just to be on the safe side. Since groceries are a bit higher, going into the store on a set budget and then making sure that you honor said-budget by keeping track of your costs with a calculator can help you to get what you need without stressing out in the process (so can using the handheld or smaller baskets and/or purchasing generic brands).
3. Get Produce at a Local Farmers Market
Fresher fruits and veggies. A wider variety. Cheaper prices. Support of local farmers. Better for the environment. These are just a few solid reasons why you should consider not getting your produce at the grocery store and stopping by your local farmers market instead. I can't tell you how many times I've compared costs in my mind and honestly been pretty pissed by how much a grocery chain will charge for not nearly as much or delicious as a farmers market does (Whole Foods is absolutely not exempt in this case either).
4. At the Store, Get Things in Season
Speaking of produce, if you click right here, you will be taken to a site that will provide you with information about when different fruits and vegetables are available, based on the season of the year that you are in. And just why should you care? For one thing, produce is best for you when it's in season. And when it comes to saving money, purchasing it when it's in season means that you should be able to get stuff at a lower cost because your grocery store will be carrying an abundance of it all. Make sense?
5. Don’t Turn Your Nose Up at Aldi’s, Trader Joe’s and Walmart
Earlier this year, I checked out an article entitled, "America Just Named Its Cheapest Grocery Store. Do You Shop There?" Can you guess which one it is? I mean, it's in the title and yes, Aldi's, it is. While they don't tend to have as much of a variety, a lot of your "staple stuff", you can get for much cheaper. The same goes for Trader Joe's, Walmart, Walmart Neighborhood Market (I don't really like their produce, but their meat costs are bar none), and Costco's. Oh, and while Target wasn't on the list, I do know quite a few people who get groceries from there. If you scan the circle on your Target app, it'll take you to deals throughout that store. You're welcome.
6. Learn the Bottom Shelf/Outer Aisle Trick
Grocery stores are a business too, right? This means that they've got their own marketing strategies. One of them is putting some of their most expensive stuff at eye level because that's what will catch your attention first. That said, a workaround for this is to be intentional about looking for what's on their bottom shelves and outer aisles. If you do a bit of comparing, it might shock you how much you can stand to save by applying this lil' trick to your shopping routine.
7. A Few Meat-Buying Tips
Hats off to all vegetarians and vegans (did you peep the recent report tied to veganism and depression? Thoughts?). Personally, I am a meat-eater and not ashamed of it. If you're a part of my tribe, I've got a few tips for you. One, although tougher meats are more expensive than tender cuts, oftentimes butchers will run your tougher orders through a tenderizer if you ask them to (sometimes you can get better cuts if you tip them on the low too). Two, get meat based on the portions that you actually need. What I mean by that is, if you know that you're not going to eat an entire roast, ask the butcher to cut the roast in half so that you don't waste any and, since they weigh by the pound, you can save a couple of dollars. Three, don't overlook the area where meat is marked way down. Just make sure to cook it ASAP or that you immediately freeze it properly. Four, the holidays are the perfect time to stock up on meat for your freezer.
For instance, Thanksgiving is going to have a lot of turkeys and because those bad boys can't sit around forever, stores are going to cut the rate (especially the day before and after the holiday) so that they can get rid of them.
8. Stock Up on Frozen Stuff (and Freezing Stuff)
According to many health experts, frozen fruits and veggies are just about as healthy as fresh produce is. The reason why they can actually be better for you, in the long run, is fresh produce tends to expire pretty quickly (which means you have to hurry up and eat it or toss it when it goes bad) while frozen stuff lasts much longer and is cheaper too. Just make sure that you read the labels carefully to make sure that the brand that you go with is low on preservatives, additives, sugar, and salt. Oh, and when it comes to buying frozen meat, to avoid freezer burn, it's important to vacuum seal everything. While the better ones are going to run you between $100-200, they are worth every dime considering how long they're able to keep so much of your food nice and fresh. A list of some of the top ones is provided for you here.
9. Remember That You Can “Break Up” Bulk Deals
Something that it took me a second to catch is when you see those "Get 10 for such-and-such price" bulk deals, you don't have to purchase all 10 items. If you get just two, you will still end up with a discounted rate. And how can you be sure that you don't overdo it on the bulk stuff, in general? Easy — take a picture of the inside of your refrigerator and pantry before you head out. That way, you can easily recall what you need and what you've already got a ton of.
10. Cop a Rotisserie Chicken
I honestly can't think of the last time that I went into a grocery store — pretty much any grocery store — and I didn't see a mini-kiosk that had a whole bunch of rotisserie chickens on it. Good thing too because that kind is healthier than fried chicken, is affordable as all get out (usually a whole one is less than ten bucks) and it's so easy to prepare a meal with, with plenty of room for leftovers if there aren't a ton of people in your house. I have spared myself a "shame drive" to a drive-thru several times by picking up a rotisserie on the way home. If you've never considered it before, I promise you won't regret it.
11. Take Advantage of Bulk Bins
If you're a single gal like myself, it can be challenging to grocery shop in smaller servings. When it comes to this, one hack to apply is to get things like beans, spices, and grains out of bulk bins. That way, you can measure out exactly what you want; especially if you're experimenting with a new recipe and you're not exactly sure if you want to "marry yourself" to some of the ingredients just yet.
12. Avoid Shopping After Work
While some of y'all might be tempted to "yeah right" me on this one, when you're too hungry or too tired to go grocery shopping, you don't tend to make the best decisions because you're not as alert as you should be. So, while it's OK to cop a couple of items real quick when you're on the way home after a long day at work, try and do your major shopping on the weekends, on your lunch break, or at least after taking an hour nap. That way, you won't be rushed, anxious or so ravenous that you end up making unwise shopping decisions. Make sense? Cool.
Featured image by Getty Images
- 10 Hacks That Can Make Cooking Easier (If You Hate To Cook ... ›
- What To Buy At Trader Joe's: Must-Have Items Shopping List - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Smart Life Hacks To Save Money And Enjoy Life - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Best Fall Trader Joe's Items 2023 - xoNecole: Lifestyle, Culture, Love, Wellness ›
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
When Megan Thee Stallion dropped “Hiss,” a shift happened. From the audacious lyrics to the striking visuals, there was no doubt that the song and video would go viral. The opening of the video shows the H-town hottie rocking a barely there Shibari red dress, showing off her voluptuous frame. It was a sexy moment created by Timeekah Murphy of Alani Taylor. The designer exclusively tells us how the opportunity came about and what it was like seeing her design on Megan for the first time.
xoNecole: How did the opportunity to create such an iconic look for Megan Thee Stallion's "Hiss" video come about?
Timeekah Murphy: The opportunity came from a DM from celebrity stylist Zerina Akers. She asked for a unique Shibari piece for Megan, and I needed to get it done in two days. So, of course, I did everything in my power to make it happen. I've always wanted to design for Megan, so this was an awesome opportunity for me.
xoN: What was that initial feeling of seeing the dress on her for the first time?
TM: I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
xoN: Did you meet her? If so, how was that moment?
TM: I didn't meet Megan during the shoot, but during my time in LA, I got the opportunity to meet her at LA Pride with Tiffany Haddish, Common, and EJ King (stylist). Megan is such an amazing person, so it made it even better to know that my designs were going to be worn by her. I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
"I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her."
xoN: Walk us through the creation of the dress. How did you come up with the look, and how long did it take to make it?
TM: I was the co-designer for a brand called Deviant in 2018-2020, and we used to make custom Shibari pieces. That's how Zerina knew me. So I'm very familiar with making these types of pieces. We made plenty for Beyoncé, Cardi B, Tiffany Haddish, Tyra Banks, and so many others. So Zerina knew exactly what she wanted.
To get it done, it took me a day and a half. It's very intricate and time-consuming, so I spent about six hours making it then I sent an image of it to Zerina, and she didn't approve the first one, so I had to start from scratch again after getting my guidance and understanding of what was needed. The next day, I went to The Lab and created another version, and she approved it. I had to get it shipped overnight so that she would get it in time and fast forward to seeing it on the big screen.
xoN: What's next for you?
TM: Everything. The sky is not my limit, so the Alani Taylor brand is expanding into so many different avenues. We are getting involved in the community more, offering sewing classes to the youth. I've opened up a store for my brand in Atlanta and now preparing for fall/winter Fashion Week.
Megan Thee Stallion "Hiss" video/ YouTube
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Whoever coined the phrase, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” certainly was not referring to the state of our dating scene. Whether online or in real life, you don't have to go far to hear the grievances of singles calling for the immediate repair of all leaks, cracks, and fractures in the dating pool.
No matter the state you live in, your age, how much you earn for a living, or if you’re a chronic app dater, there’s a general consensus that something (anything) must be done to restore the hope of singles looking for long-term, fulfilling relationships. And as many of us hold on to the hope for an unexpected cross-encounter with our next love story, others are leaning on the side of giving up completely. But before throwing in the towel, it might be time to make a few adjustments.
Dating Apps Are In Their Flop Era, Making Connections IRL Is Where It's At
Alistair Berg/Getty Images
Many singles agree that spending their leisure time swiping through dating apps is out. What’s in is stepping out of one's comfort zone to make connections in the real world. Scary. We know. But unless you were one of the lucky few to find love on dating apps before its flop era or made a love connection from home during the pandemic, going about your dating life the same way is bound to render the same results: being single with a headache. And we want better for you.
It’s safe to say that constantly meeting strangers off the internet for a chance to find love has lost its charm, leaving singles open to the train, farmer’s market, the gym, or a friend’s house party to be prime real estate for matching up with potential partners.
This shift, as Marissa Nelson, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and BLK’s Relationship and Intimacy Expert tells xoNecole, is due in part to a growing concern about the authenticity of online profiles — in other words: is what you’re seeing, in fact, what you’re getting? “From their profile picture, what they say they do, the height they say they are; it’s this fear of, ‘Am I really talking to who I think I'm speaking to?'” she explains.
On our journey to finding “the one” out in the real world, a common question is, “Where do you find the available singles?” The short answer is, everywhere. The long answer is at the grocery store, on a plane, during happy hours, at work, at a conference, on a solo vacation, or, as Nelson puts it, anywhere you are showing up as your most open and vulnerable self.
“You never know where the connection is going to come from, which is why it's even more important to be receptive, to stay open, be curious, and lean into your vulnerability,” she says. In fact, Nelson encourages singles to release themselves of the rigidity around finding the perfect person at the “perfect” place, because, in essence, there isn’t one. “We have to let go of the constraints that we can only go to singles events to meet people,” she says. “We have to be open to however love shows up.”
"We have to let go of the constraints that we can only go to singles events to meet people. We have to be open to however love shows up."
We all can relate to the fact that the idea of shooting our shot in real life is a lot more exciting than the actual act. The relationship expert explains that one of the greatest hesitations to us putting ourselves out there and taking a chance on love is rooted in the fear of rejection. However, it’s important to keep in mind that “we’ve all been hurt” and most importantly, “we’re all afraid of rejection.”
That’s why Nelson suggests the following strategies to make the first move and find love in your everyday life.
1. Don't close yourself off.
“When you relax your expectations, you start to meet really cool people. Some of those cool people became friends and that makes your life richer because now, you have new friends and great people to hang out with. Even if it wasn't a love match, it can become a significant or meaningful friendship.”
2. Don't let your "type" hold you back.
“We all have a type. And a lot of women will say, ‘I like them tall. I like them like this or that.’ When we’re rigid about who we believe we ought to be with versus being open to people who might be more aligned with our values, we close ourselves off. Sure, you're not going to date somebody that you are absolutely not attracted to. But people have a lot of unwritten rules around who they will allow themselves to get to know, and I challenge people to challenge their rules because that can hold you back from expansive experiences.”
3. Make the first move.
“I think that if we can be bold, be brave, and if there's somebody that's good-looking, catches your eye, or just seems like they have a good vibe, we can approach them with curiosity. Ask them how they're doing. Introduce yourself. It doesn't have to lead to all these things; you can just have chemistry and flow from there.”
4. Ask better questions.
“When you meet someone for the first time, asking them ‘What do you do?’ is not the best first question because that only tells you what they do for money, not necessarily what they're passionate about. To get insight into who that person truly is, ask: What are you passionate about in your life right now? What lights you up? What excites you? What are you working towards?”
5. Shift your mindset.
“We've all been hurt. And we can be guarded because we don't want to get hurt again. The brain is a very complex and brilliant system designed to keep us safe, and emotional survival is a real thing. We become super protective, and in that, we come up with a lot of different rules, paradigms, [and] belief systems. The biggest mindset shift is: how can we do our own work to know and believe that we are worthy and deserving of love.”
Whether you’re on a dating app or roaming your local Trader Joe’s, love is everywhere — and the abundance of love is available to us once we remove limiting beliefs that make it feel scarce and out of reach. Vulnerability, shedding our walls, and openness just might be the tweaks we need to snitch up the dating streets and watch it heal for the better.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by LeoPatrizi/Getty Images