How to cut your monthly grocery bill in half, from a woman who lived on $14,000 a year

Associated Press

Kathleen Elkins, Business Insider

A simple way to trim your grocery bill is to buy less meat. “Try substituting beans and wheat berries for meat in your favorite recipes,” Wagasky suggests. “Enchiladas, spaghetti, and casseroles taste just as good with the meat omitted.”

If you have a harder time parting ways with your meat, start by establishing one meatless day a week. Eliminating meat just once or twice a week can make a significant difference in your grocery bill.

Go generic

Go generic whenever possible. It will save you money.

“There are some things my husband and I have learned truly taste the same as the name brand, while others can’t compare,” Wagasky writes. “The only way to know if you’ll like a product is to try it.”

Her pro-tip when shopping for generics: “Make sure to look up and down the shelves of food. Most grocery stores put the name brand items at eye level. They want that to be what the consumer focuses on. Generic brands are usually on the bottom shelf or the top shelf, so keep those eyes open.”

Stock up seasonally

Sometimes, when you buy is more important than where you buy.

“Buying seasonally is a great way to save and build up a stockpile,” Wagasky writes. “Each month grocery stores offer certain sales on items.”

For example, in the summer, barbecue items will be at rock-bottom prices, making it the perfect time to stock up on chips, crackers, ketchup, relish, mayo, and mustard.

Along the same lines, seasonal fruits and vegetables are cheaper, and they also taste better.

Eat produce in order

Flickr / Jamie McCaffrey/Business Insider

Produce can be tricky to shop for, as their expiration dates are not very forgiving. To make fruits and veggies last significantly longer, eat them in order, starting with the things that will go bad the soonest.

Here’s Wagasky’s guide:

First: bananas, berries, cherries, kiwis, avocado, spinach, lettuce, and grapes

Second: tomatoes, mango, peaches, pears, melon, apricots, and zucchini

Third: cucumbers, pineapple, and pomegranates

Last: carrots, potatoes, celery, apples, grapefruit, and oranges

Go homemade

Thinkstock

“Over the years, I have learned that the more we can make at home, the better off our grocery budget will be,” Wagasky writes. “In our home, we try to make as much from scratch as possible.”

One item she’s saved significantly on by going homemade is bread, a staple in her household: “If I were to buy bread from the store, I would be paying over three dollars per loaf. Thirty-six dollars a month is a hefty fee to pay for something I can make in minutes for one-third the cost.”

Wagasky also chooses to make homemade granola bars and trail mix rather than spending on prepackaged snacks, which tend to be pricey and unhealthy.

British Columbia’s education by the numbers

BC- A snapshot of facts about the British Columbia’s education system, shows that BC  has 1,581 public schools and 350 independent schools and there will be estimated 521,038 full-time public school students this September.  Following are the facts as to how the funding, enrollment, achievements, capital, healthy schools and  what the class sizes are in the current school systems.

Funding

  • This coming fiscal year (2015-16), total funding to school districts will reach $5.06 billion – up 31% since 2001.
  • The average per-pupil funding is now an estimated $8,902, an increase of 42% since 2000-01.
  • Last school year, total funding for all students (public and independent) with special needs was approximately $920 million.
  • This year, school districts will receive $51.7 million through CommunityLINK, which help them fund programs to support vulnerable children and youth. Districts use this funding to fund breakfast and lunch programs, inner-city and community school programs, school-based support workers and counselling.
  • Government has increased the Learning Improvement Fund (LIF) allocation to school districts by more than 66% since 2013-14 – to $100 million in 2015-16. The LIF was established to address complex classroom needs and ensure learning conditions are appropriate for all students.
  • Under the new agreement with teachers, LIF will be maintained at $100 million in each of the next three years, and will rise to more than $106 million in 2018-19.
  • This past school year (2014-15), districts told the Ministry they intended to use the LIF to:
    • Hire 1,100 new teachers;
    • Hire 352 new support staff; and
    • Increase the hours of nearly 2,600 support staff and teachers from part-time to full-time.

Enrolment

  • Estimated 521,038 full-time public school students this September.
  • Since 2000-01, there has been a decrease of nearly 77,000 students.
  • Estimated 58,513 English Language Learning (ELL) students – 640 fewer than last year.
  • Estimated 55,414 Aboriginal students – 252 fewer than last year.
  • Estimated 25,337 students with special needs (eligible for supplemental funding) – 277 fewer than in last year.
  • Estimated 3,415 non-graduated adult students – 103 more than last year.
  • Nearly 78,500 students took at least one online (distributed learning) course in 2014-15. That compares to approximately 33,000 students in 2006-07.

Achievement

  • The provincial six-year completion rate has increased by more than 10% since 2001 and was at 84.2% in 2013-14 (public and independent schools). Over that same period:
  • The six-year completion rate for Aboriginal students has increased by 45.6% and now is at 61.6%;
  • The six-year completion rate for ELL students has increased by 12.5% and now is at 86.6%;
  • The six-year completion rate for students with special needs has increased by 86.2%and now is at 62.2%.

Capital

  • Budget 2015 provides $1.4 billion over three years to replace aging facilities, build more student spaces in growing communities and improve school seismic safety where needed.
  • Since 2001, government has committed more than $4.2 billion in new and improved schools, including $2.2 billion in seismic upgrades.
  • To date, government funding has built 42 new schools, replaced 70 aging schools, added space through 186 schools additions and seismically upgraded 146 schools.
  • New schools that have recently opened include the:
    • $7.4-million NorKam Trades and Technology Centre in Kamloops;
    • $23.8-million École Qayqayt Elementary in New Westminster;
    • $26-million Yorkson Creek Middle school in Langley;
    • $51.6-million Oak Bay High in Victoria;
    • $56-million Chilliwack Secondary.

Healthy Schools

  • The BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional program provides snacks of fruits and vegetables right in the classroom to children, allowing them to sample B.C. produce such as plums, blueberries, apples, tomatoes and carrots. The Ministry of Health and the Provincial Health Services Authority have provided combined funding of $21.5 million to the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation since 2010-11 to support the program.
  • In May 2015, government announced $3.5 million in new funding for the program to ensure it continues to bring fruits, vegetables and milk to more than 489,000 children in 1,463 public and First Nations schools.
  • The Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC Schools are to be used in every school district to maximize students’ access to healthier options and fully eliminate the sale of unhealthy foods and beverages in B.C. schools.
  • Through the Daily Physical Activity requirements, students in all school districts are required to achieve daily activity targets:
    • Students in kindergarten to Grade 7 will engage in 30 minutes of daily physical activity at school;
    • Students in Grades 8 and 9 will engage in 30 minutes of daily physical activity or 150 minutes of physical activity per week;
    • Students in Grades 10 to 12 will engage in 150 minutes of physical activity per week as part of their Graduation Transition program.

Class Size

  • Class sizes in B.C. remain low and stable. The average number of students per class was near historical lows last school year (2014-15) and well below the maximum size allowed in provincial legislation.
  • Of the 66,596 K-12 classes in B.C. public schools last year:
    • 41% had fewer than 24 students;
    • 57% have between 24 and 30 students;
    • Only 1.6% of classes had more than 30 students and the majority of these are classes such as band, drama and gym where it is appropriate and beneficial to have a larger number of students.
  • Average class sizes:
    • 19.5 students for Kindergarten;
    • 21.5 students for grades 1-3;
    • 25.6 students for grades 4-7;
    • 23.2 students for grades 8-12.
  • There were nearly 9,400 full-time educational assistants working in schools in 2014-15, an increase of 42% compared to 2000-01. Approximately one-in-three classes in B.C. have an assigned educational assistant.

Independent schools

  • Independent schools enrol nearly 81,000 students, which is approximately 13% of B.C.’s K-12 population.

Diabetics face thousands of amputations each year

ERIN ELLIS, VANCOUVER SUN

All kinds of Canadians neglect their feet, but that can be a life-altering decision for people with diabetes.

The chances of having a toe or foot amputated due to an infected wound are about 20 times higher for a diabetic. And a lower limb amputation often starts a spiral of decline: up to two-thirds of patients die within a year.

“There’s a high risk of death following amputation. In fact, the mortality rate is greater than some cancers,” explains Dr. Jan Hux, chief science officer for the Canadian Diabetes Association.

That organization is on a mission to remind the growing number of people with diabetes to baby their feet like never before. Thousands of Canadians are expected to lose their toes or feet each year despite advances in care that have brought the rate of amputations down among diabetics. That’s because the sheer number of people diagnosed is forecast to rise to 4.2 million by 2020.

There were 4,400 diabetes-related amputations across the country in 2008, the last year for which reliable data are available. That marked a small increase from 4,020 10 years earlier, according to the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System.

The road to the operating room starts with foot numbness called diabetic neuropathy.

“Pain is an important defence mechanism. If you or I had a pebble in our shoe, we wouldn’t walk three steps without taking it out. The person with diabetes will walk on it all day,” says Hux.

That creates a sore that remains unnoticed because nerves to their feet have been damaged due to high blood sugar and a lack of oxygen from poor blood flow. That same lack of circulation — again coupled with high blood sugar — creates the perfect environment for infections to grow.

“They’re more likely to get an injury and they’re less likely to be able to heal it,” says Hux. That’s why diabetes accounts for up to 70 per cent of all non-traumatic limb amputations.

Wayne Sidsworth, a 56-year-old management consultant from Hamilton, Ont., watched the process claim his foot in a matter of days. He had been diagnosed at 37 with type 1 diabetes and thought he had it under control. It turned out that a blockage in the main artery of his leg — likely formed before he knew he had diabetes — couldn’t be repaired through several surgeries.

He knew then his lower leg would have to come off, but was unprepared to watch a tiny cut on the sole of his foot transform from a dime-sized sore to a gangrenous limb over the course of a weekend. A surgeon removed it in an emergency operation on the Monday morning.

“I woke up at 9 o’clock without my leg,” Sidsworth recounts. “I got through that part OK. The hard part was rehabilitation, learning how to walk again.”

His advice to others? Get diagnosed. Sidsworth believes he could have avoided some of the damage by getting his blood sugar down from its sky-high levels earlier.

Hux agrees, but goes further. The CDA says 57 per cent of diabetics don’t follow doctors’ orders because they can’t afford the medical supplies to monitor their blood sugar levels or the medications that can help. As a result, only half of Canadians with type 2 diabetes have their blood glucose levels under control and therefore run the risk of slow-healing wounds along with heart diseasekidney damage and blindness. That’s why the CDA endorses proposals for a national Pharmacare program to make sure low- and middle-income patients receive proper care.

“If people can manage their blood sugars well and have the resources they need to do that, then the damage to the nerves won’t happen. This cascade can be avoided where a barefoot walk in the park leads to a below-the-knee amputation,” says Hux.

Sole searching

Foot care advice from the Canadian Diabetes Association:

  • Wear shoes that fit with clean socks.
  • Avoid going barefoot — even in the house — or wearing flip-flops or footwear that presses in one spot.
  • Check your feet daily for cuts, sores and cracks, using a hand mirror to see the bottoms if needed.
  • Don’t use over-the-counter corn and wart removers.
  • Seek help if you notice a wound. Foot specialists can offer advice for protecting a sore.
  • The CDA’s Clothesline program is collecting gently used shoes to distribute to homeless shelters across Canada. For more information call 1-800-505-5525 or download the Clothesline app to find the nearest drop box.

Diabetes in brief

Blood sugar. The key factor in all diabetes is the body’s inability to process sugar. It can be caused by a lack of insulin — the hormone produced by the pancreas to regulate it — or insulin resistance, which is a key indicator of pre-diabetes. Regular finger-prick blood tests throughout the day show diabetics their blood sugar levels so they make changes in food intake, exercise or medication to keep them stable. Uncontrolled high blood sugar causes damage throughout the body. Prolonged high or low blood sugar can cause a diabetic coma.

Type 1 diabetes. Also known as juvenile diabetes, the disease is often diagnosed in children and teens and typically require insulin injections to stabilize blood sugar. It accounts for about 10 per cent of cases and is a serious chronic illness that requires a lifetime of attention.

Type 2 diabetes. This condition is a fast-growing plague in North America that now makes up 90 per cent of all diabetes. It can be brought on by carrying extra weight, a lack of exercise and poor diet. It can sometimes be controlled by lifestyle changes. Damage to the body accumulates the longer it goes uncontrolled.

The epidemic. In 2000, 1.3 million Canadians had diabetes. Ten years later that number more than doubled to 2.7 million. It affects every sphere of society, but has hit First Nations particularly hard, with prevalence about 40-per-cent higher than the rest of Canada.

Sources: Canadian Diabetes Association, National Diabetes Surveillance System

Surrey’s Major Annual City Events

Surrey hosts 5 major special events annually: Party for the Planet, Surrey International Children’s Festival, Canada Day, Fusion Festival and the Tree Lighting Festival.

2015 Events

Party for the Planet
Surrey Celebrates Earth Day

April 26, 2015
Party for the Planet

Surrey’s Party for the Planet is one of the largest Earth Day celebrations in BC and it’s free!  Earth Day is intended to inspire awareness for the Earth’s natural environment and Surrey has a lot to be inspired by. There will be something “green” for everyone at this event. Also, join us for the Grand Opening Celebration of New City Hall at this year’s Party for the Planet.

Surrey International Children’s Festival
Arts Festival for Children aged 0 – 12

May 21-23, 2015
Surrey International Children’s Festival

The 10th Annual Surrey International Children’s Festival inspires young hearts and minds to the greater possibilities and celebrates our rich and diverse cultural heritage though performing and visual arts experience.

Children have an incredibly rich arts experience as they take part in the many hands-on activities on site, led by professional artists. The ticketed programming is a national and international selection of the highest calibre of performances for young audiences, bringing inspiration and awe to the residents of Surrey and the surrounding areas.

Surrey Canada Day
Western Canada’s Biggest Canada Celebration

July 1, 2015
Surrey Canada Day

Over 100,000 people celebrate Canada’s birthday in Surrey at this free, family festival complete with live entertainment, the Shooting Stars Midway, great food, and plenty of interactive activities for all ages.

Past headliners include: Platinum Blonde, Sloan, Colin James, 54-40, Loverboy, Trooper, Lisa Brokop, Honeymoon Suite, Kim Mitchell, Bif Naked, Ian Tyson, ODDS, Stereos, Dragonette, Dan Mangan, You Say Party!, Charlotte Diamond, Bobs and Lolo, Elise Estrada, En Karma, Jessie Farrell, Ridely Bent, and many more. Stay until the end and experience the Fireworks Finale.

Surrey Fusion Festival
The Ultimate Celebration of Music, Food, and Culture

Saturday & Sunday, July 18 & 19, 2015

Surrey Fusion Festival

Surrey Fusion Festival features 70 performances on 4 stages over 2 days. This free family event features past performances by K-OS, TOIFA Bollywood Remix, Jim Byrnes, Stephen Fearing, The Zolas, Jay Sean, Bedouin Soundclash, Arrested Development, Joel Plaskett, Jully Black, Jazzy B, Lehmber Hussainpuri, KS Makhan, Pavlo-Emmitt-Lopez, Said the Whale, En Karma, Alex Cuba, and Grapes of Wrath.

While at Holland Park, visit over 30 cultural pavilions and experience cuisine from around the world.  Check out the Flavours of Surrey and celebrity chefs on the Safeway Cooking Stage.

Surrey Tree Lighting Festival

November 21, 2015
Surrey Tree Lighting Festival

Join Mayor and Council along with Frosty and Santa as they flip the switch to light the City’s official Christmas tree and kick off the holiday season in Surrey at this free family event. Free concerts, sleigh rides, food and fun activities all day long.

– See more at: http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/9144.aspx#sthash.PEIPnGy5.dpuf

$46,000 Raised in Support of the futures of At-Risk Youth in BC

Vancouver, BC On Thursday night, over 100 dedicated participants converged atop Mount Seymour for Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation’s ninth annual Moonlight Snowshoe fundraiser. The event was sponsored by Mount Seymour, White Spot Restaurants and 102.7 The Peak. The lack of snow did nothing to dim the enthusiasm of the evening, and what was meant to be a snowshoe turned into a moonlit hike along some of the North Shore’s most enchanting trails. Continue reading $46,000 Raised in Support of the futures of At-Risk Youth in BC

Digestive Health 101: Feeling Good on the Inside and Out

(NC) The digestive system is best described as the body’s engine. Did you know that every day, eight different organs work together to process the essential nutrients needed for energy, growth, and rejuvenation?

Digestion is fundamental to good health, but a high proportion of Canadians – as many as 20 million, or 56% of the population – regularly suffer from digestive problems like heartburn, constipation and cramps. Continue reading Digestive Health 101: Feeling Good on the Inside and Out

Freshmen twice likelier to indulge in ‘hookups’ without protection

Washington, Oct 17 (ANI): A new study has found that undergraduates were 2 times more likely to have unprotected sex during “hookups.”

Jonathan Marc Bearak from New York University explored the changes in undergraduate uncommitted sexual behavior during years 1–4 of college. The article provides reasoning for the decline in the use of condoms, and explains how changes in the odds of coitus and condom use depend on family background, school gender imbalance, and whether the partners attended the same college.

The results showed that the odds of unprotected intercourse in hookups doubled between freshman and senior year. Among the factors which contributed to this, freshmen from less advantaged socioeconomic backgrounds more frequently protect themselves with a condom when they have intercourse in a hookup than freshmen from more advantaged backgrounds, but by sophomore year, they adopt the same lower condom use rate of their peers from more advantaged backgrounds.

The results were consistent with the view that college was perceived as a safer environment. An interpretation equally consistent with the data was that it might take longer for lower socioeconomic status students to integrate into the social activities on their campus, which, conceivably, might not encourage condom use.

The research also highlights an oft-overlooked issue in sexual research: the probability of intercourse within the normative contexts in which adolescents and young adults sexually interact contributes to cumulative risks over and above their contraceptive practices.