5 tips for Smart Grocery Shopping

Shopping for groceries is one of your most occurring activities in life. Some go every day, while others go once a week. Here are my 5 tips to keep in mind next time you go shopping in a supermarket, so you know what is going on, and how you can make healthier purchase choices and maybe even save some money! This way you only bring good food choices to your home.

1. Never go shopping when you are hungry

You will buy much more, and probably more bad things too!

2. Usually not the best food choices are stored on eye level in the grocery store

The products that are on eye level, and on the corners of aisles, are usually the ones the company pay the most to be put there, as they generally generate more sales when the products are in sight. It doesn't always mean it is the best, or the cheapest. No, usually they are the junk food. search the whole aisle for better choices. Keep this in mind when you go shopping and search the whole aisle for the better (organic) option.

3. The store floor plan is so planned out for you to have to walk past many aisles

Milk is always put in the back of the store, this because most people need milk, yoghurt butter or eggs. So you have to walk through all the long aisles, and hopefully you get persuaded to put some more products in your basket along the way. The same counts for the area around the cashier. A supermarket puts products there that they know can also get you to buy it. Think sale items, and lots of candy. Usually those are things you don't need but since you are waiting there to pay for your groceries, you might get tricked into adding some to your purchases. Because you think to yourself:" hey, they are cheap" or "I might need them at some point". Be strong and don't do it! If you really need those products, you can always return later to the store.

4. Read food labels

When you can't pronounce what is in it, It is probably not so good for you. You can go online and search what the ingredient is, or buy a book which explains what all the ingredients in the products you buy are. Any ingredient that  includes "genetically ", "modified", "High Fructose syrup" is likely to be not good for you and usually the same counts for ingredients with names that sound like they could be components to make a bomb. (you never know!)

5. Buy mostly fresh produce

Don't buy too much canned or prepackaged. Frozen is ok. Don't buy for a whole week. come back a few times in a week, and just buy what you need for those 2 or 3 days. Otherwise by the end of the week you have to throw away a lot of things that have gone bad, and this way you save money!

Book tips:

(click on the pictures for more information or to purchase)

1. What to Eat by Marion Nestle:


2. What's really in your basket? By Bill Statham:


3. Wat zit er in uw eten? By Courinne Gouget (in dutch)

Love Lonneke

First published in 2013, updated in 2019


5 Reasons to Shop Locally

Shopping is fun for most people. You go shopping and usually you buy what you need or like. It is a fun process for many. Most of the time the criteria to shop are if the items are of good quality, and if they have a price tag you are willing to pay. But there are more criteria for shopping that will be very interesting for you to think about for a moment. For instance, do you know the whole history behind the product or the shop you purchase goods? Do you know where the money you spend goes to? Besides you buying something new and exciting, you spending money at a certain local shop can be life-changing for many people, for many reasons.Let me explain to you.

Some communities make easy guides to their local shops.Some communities have easy guides to their local small businesses and shops 

 

5 reasons to shop locally

1. When you shop at a local shop, you spend your money in a way that helps the shop owner and his or her family directly.

You are not sending your money off to another big corporation. If these small business owners earn money, they can take care of themselves and their family, and keep their business open. Sometimes you even get a better deal than at a big brand store. But most important: you are basically making sure these people, your neighbors, can make a living. Isn't that alone already a really good reason to spend your money in local shops?

Lonneke at AUH20 I love the cute finds and incredible low prices at AUH2O in the East Village! (Still in business!)

2. You get the best service

Small, local business owners care about the goods they sell very much. They have the most know-how of the products they sell, sometimes they make it themselves. In that case you can find out exactly how the products are made, something I always like to know. You just can't get any better advice on these products anywhere else. (Imagine big shops with employees that really don't care about you or the products they sell?) In the case you experience a problem, it is easy to speak directly to the person who owns the shop. These small business-owners exist on giving good service, and will find a product or service that will custom-fit your needs. They also will be helping out when there is a problem. They just want you to be a returning and loyal customer, and will do almost everything to make you, the customer happy with your purchased goods. When shopping locally, you can feel like people really listen to you, and really want to help you.

I did not know what bubble tea I should choose, so the owner of Thirstea NYC made me a custom-made bubble tea.the owner of Thirstea NYC in East Village made me a custom-made bubble tea (unfortunately out of business)

3. You support your local community

When you get out of your house, and see how the streets and shops in your neighborhood look, or how the local children's playground looks, imagine that when you spend your money in a local shop, your money will help care for these important building blocks in a community. Whether through taxes, or through direct payments from local business owners, they all together can make living in your community a pleasure. So putting it simple: when you spend locally, most of your money stays locally, and is spend again locally.

Lonneke Engel at Sustainable NYC

My friend Munemi and I at eco-friendly shop Sustainable NYC in East Village (unfortunately also out of business)

4. Bringing diversity to products offered

If we only buy products from big companies, the diversity in offered products will decrease. That's why it is important to shop with people who offer different products, and maybe even show their true craftsmanship. Also, by giving individuals a chance to make a living, it can pave the way for new ideas to develop into better products than the ones that already offered.

Actress Jennifer Esposito has a gluten free bakery in the East VillageActress Jennifer Esposito opened an 100% gluten-free bakery in East Village NYC: Jennifer's Way. (also out of business)

5. Social contacts

If you shop locally, you get to know who lives in your neighborhood. Your social contacts will become stronger. Remember, a community is build on the people who live in it. The more active the people in a community are working on strengthening their local community, the better and nicer it will be to live in it. And you might even make new friends too!

Vito the Dog, Navy Lamey at Local NYC

Vito the Dog and my nephew Navy Lamey are chilling at Local Cafe NYC in Soho after our trip to the East Village. Local has since become a bar to have drinks at night instead of a café.

What I like the best about shopping locally is the enthusiasm of local business owners. They are passionate about what they sell, they really chose to be in that business. I love all the information I get from them, and I am always excited to return. I hope my 5 reasons to shop locally has inspired you to explore your local community.

Love, Lonneke

First published on July 29th 2015, updated in 2019

p.s. As you can see most businesses I gave as an example have gone out of business. Unfortunately that is what happens if too little people support them so they are financially strong to survive. So if you know of a small business in your hometown, please support them, so they can stay in business and feed their families!

 

 


Organic vs non-organic

When you buy your fruits and veggies at supermarket in the USA, they always have this little sticker with numbers on it. Do you know what it means?

Produce from organic farms

Produce that comes from organic farms, have a sticker with five numbers, and always starts with number 9.

Organic vs non-organicOrganic vs non-organic

Produce from non-organic farms

Produce that been treated with pesticides, have stickers with four number, and always starts with number 4.

(Sorry, I don’t have non-organic fruits at home to snap a picture of it)

More information on organic vs. non-organic

  • Organic foods are foods produced using methods which do not involve synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic products are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives. Click here to read more.
  • In the United States, the National Organic Program (NOP) is the federal regulatory framework governing organic food. You should visit their website to learn more http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop.
  • Wikipedia offers also a list of countries with regulations on organic agriculture. It contains links to documents with the status of formal government-standards, regulations, and certification of organic farming and organic food.

Next time you go to supermarket, pay attention to it and you will see.

Have a great fruit and veggie shopping!

Love, Val

 

First published on October 31st  2012, updated in 2019


Look TV: Healthy Living with Lonneke Engel

This is a video I did for Look TV called "healthy  living with Lonneke Engel". I it filmed a while ago and  I take you to the NYC Union Square farmers market. I also show you how to prepare a few easy delicious dishes using healthy ingredients that I bought at the NYC farmers market! I show that cooking is not that difficult when using fresh ingredients. This healthy living is all about creativity and just trying out different things using products that are in season and available at the farmers market.Enjoy the video and I hope you like the recipes as well!

[youtube id="BxhY6CDspis" align="center"]

Love, Lonneke


Vintage, the Original Green

Really, you can officially call all clothing made before the 80’s “vintage”, but let’s just call all the good, quality and beautiful  but used clothing vintage! Are you with me? I hope so!

Vintage is really recycling

It keeps clothes from going into the landfills, so Vintage is the original Green!

I always feel very happy when I find an item that used to be pricey, is in great shape, and looks beautiful. And if the price is low now, and it fits me, it’s a deal! Most of the time people compliment me more when I wear something that they don’t recognize as something they have seen in recent fashion shows.

A great place to shop is I.N.A. NYC, a place with amazing secondhand dresses suits, barely worn shoes, bags, and accessories from all the major designers you can think of, for women and men! It is a fashionistas heaven, and their stores are all over downtown NYC.

Vintage-the-Original-Green-Lonneke-Engel

But that’s not all--they have an online store, so literally anywhere in this world you can look at the clothes and order them. If you live in the area, you can also make an appointment if you have clothes you want to sell. If they take it, they take a percentage from the sold price.

Besides INA, New York City has many other secondhand and vintage stores. Some focus on the 40’s and 50’s, others on mainstream brands for extremely cheap. The trick is to really dig in, and really look at each piece of clothing. Maybe one of them is your gem. Most friends are usually hesitant at first. But for instance, when we found one friend his almost-new cashmere sweater, he became more into the concept. It takes a bit of practice and time, but it is definitely fun!

There are many other places to find amazing vintage. What about your mom’s closet? Maybe your grandmother’s? The thing with fashion trends are that they come back every so many years, of course reinvented. So what is old and ugly right now, you might want to keep in your closet a few years--it might be fashionable again.

Doutzen & LonnekeAlso, I keep a “Magic Closet”, where I store all my unwanted clothing. Coats, dresses, bags, shoes, you name it. My friends come whenever they want, and exchange clothes with me. This way I find something new, and they do as well. It gives you the same feeling as when you go shopping; but this way it is shopping for free, so it feels even better! If you do have unwanted clothing, you can do the same, or you can give it away. You can give it to the Salvation Army, or bring it to collection points in your area. Those clothes will find a good new owner.

If you are actually looking to expand your wardrobe, first ask if friends have some stuff they want to get rid of. Most of the time they then suddenly think of that one dress they haven’t worn and you might like... Otherwise: go shopping!

Did you know a lot of celebrities get their unique pieces from vintage stores or flea markets?

Here are a few of my favorite vintage stores around the World:

  • INA NYC
    High-end designer consignment. I find the best quality designer clothes & shoes here and I absolutely love this store.
  • What Goes Around Comes Around
    More really old pieces, found all over the world, really one of a kind leather belts, antique clothing and more.
  • Stella Dallas. A small vintage store with dresses and accessories mostly from the 50's and the 60's as well as pieces that are from beginning of the 1900's.
  • Doortje Vintage
    A great online vintage store, A place I have scored many great pieces.
  • Beacon's Closet. A great place to also bring your unwanted secondhand items, as you get money for it, that you can use for shopping or get cash right away! They have great prices and really a good selection of useful vintage.

Love, Lonneke


Lonneke & Munemi

Green Shopping!

Today I went to have lunch with Munemi Imai, who is a top make up artist, and besides that she always makes me so beautiful when we work together, is also a very nice woman to hang out with!

She also contributes on Organice Your Life®, the website and the magazine, about aromatherapy and skincare, I would really suggest you check out her tips and tricks as she is a genius in getting beautiful skin! (go to Munemi's Organice Your Life® page here)

Lonneke & Munemi

After a healthy lunch we went shopping at one of my favorite stores: Sustainable NYC. This store has everything for your home, and yourself, and all products are the most eco friendly, sustainable, green, recycled, organic, local, fair trade they can find. Of course I can never leave this store without buying things! I always buy fun and original gifts here. Like a bag made out of an old tire. Or a wine bottle cap made from a used billiards ball. Or the bracelets made out of old records. They also have clothing, TOMS shoes, baby products and more. The coming weeks I will focus on a few of my favorite products I get from there. I am sure you can also order them online somewhere if you don't live in NYC. I just get so inspired when I go here!

So I got a notebook with the words "Inspire" on it, hand painted and made out of 100% post consumer waste fiber, by Ecojot. I love notebooks and I always get happy when I get a new, clean one I can write my thoughts and to do lists in.

Ecojot notebook

They also carry these fun staplers that don't use any staples to attach two papers to each other! It is called "Eco Staple Free Stapler" and it states: " For a greener planet, one less staple at a time". It is also child safe, and will not result in paper waste. I found it in a nice "Organice Your Life" color green. By Made by Humans. (check out their site they have many more clever products!)

Eco stapler

A new thing I saw was this organic make up brand that is packaged in recycled and biodegradable packaging called "Couleur Caramel". Their mission statement from their website:

Couleur Caramel mission statement 1

Couleur Caramel mission statement 2

Couleur Caramel mission statement 3

I really liked how they displayed their eye shadows, hanging in these cardboard packaging.

Couleur Caramel

And then some great recycled jewelry:

Jillery Jewelry

Jillery Jewelry

Also what was cute, were these necklaces by Jillery Jewelry with letters made of recycled aluminium. These featherlight necklaces and hangers were available in gold and silver. The price $19.50 was not that much! But if you want to have a nice necklace in real gold, I have to let you know that you should check out my sisters jewelry line Minitials, which she started with a friend and offers the most beautiful necklaces & bracelets with initials in gold. I wear my "L" always!

Other products I can't do without here are the soy based nail polish remover by Priti, the John Masters organic shampoo with evening primrose for dry hair, the air refreshener by Clean Air and the feminine care by Maxim. (women should never use non-organic feminine products, for a simple reason: to avoid chemicals getting into their bloodstream. That's why I always use organic tampons etc! So tell your girlfriends, moms & sisters to make sure they do that as well!)

Lonneke at Sustainable NYC

But maybe the smartest thing I bought today were these fair trade gloves. The women who make them Super soft and warm, and with a smart little touch: the index finger and thumb have a hole, so you can keep typing on your smart phone without taking your gloves off! Now that's what I call smart thinking! by Andes gifts.

Andes Gifts gloves

To get a glimpse what Sustainable NYC is about, check their store website and start some shopping! (p.s. look at the cute fake flowers I got made of wool! LOVE! oh, and if you spend enough, they give you a cute tote bag as well! )

Lonneke at Sustainable NYC

 

 


INA NYC: A vintage treasure

With the holidays coming up we are all looking for those special outfits for parties, events and all those work related holiday parties!

You could make your way to any designer boutique or store and pick out brand new (& expensive) pieces, but I think buying vintage and beautiful clothing is just as satisfying and at the end of the day way more unique. You can guarantee that no one will be wearing the same thing!

Lonneke introduced me to this store a few months back and I love it!

INA

http://www.inanyc.com/

A little bit of background information:

INA is New York’s most established designer consignment store. Since we opened in 1993, we have been accepting only the finest designer clothing, shoes, accessories, and select vintage, all carefully curated by our trained staff. In addition to choosing merchandise that is only of the highest quality and condition, INA staff are attuned to current fashion trends, as well as being collectors and followers of couture history, examples of which often find their way into our stores. With an extensive network in the fashion business, from designers to business owners, stylists, editors and models, INA often receives current pieces and limited edition items that could be seen in the designer's store on Madison avenue or in SoHo.

If you are in New York on vacation or you live here, it is an incredible store to check out as you truly will unearth a treasure!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to the Holiday Season!