Consumer Real Estate News

    • Grocery Store Savings Hacks

      24 May 2022

      (Family Features) As people continue to eat more meals at home, shoppers everywhere are feeling the pinch of increasing prices on nearly every item at the grocery store. With almost one-third of Americans spending at least $100 per week on groceries, many are now looking for ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality.

      In fact, 7 in 10 people (71%) are more likely to shop on a budget now than prior to the pandemic, according to a survey released by Malt-O-Meal, with parents being 21% more likely than non-parents.

      As you look for ways to save at the grocery store, consider these tactics:

      Create a Budget
      While you may have a number in mind you hope to spend weekly (or monthly) on groceries, it may not be sustainable. Start by determining how much you spend over the course of a few weeks and use that number to identify patterns in your spending and set a more accurate grocery budget. From there, it may be easier to find places to adjust, like buying certain items in bulk or switching to value brands.

      Make a List
      Creating a weekly meal plan and grocery list before you leave the house can reduce the chances of buying things you don’t need. Knowing exactly what you need for weekly meals and to replenish essentials – and sticking to that list – can help ensure you don’t spend money on products you won’t use.

      Seek Out Value
      The top two factors consumers prioritize when grocery shopping are quality (34%) and price (30%), according to the survey. To help save money on their weekly grocery bills while still buying high-quality products, one of the top tactics shoppers have used is purchasing food from value brands. One such option is bagged cereal from Malt-O-Meal, which is available in 36 ready-to-eat flavors so you can find a variety that appeals to each family member at an affordable price. With a commitment to quality and great taste, families can count on the wide selection packaged in resealable bags with a fun and colorful new look.

      “Our survey found cold cereal is the No. 1 choice for breakfast during busy mornings,” said Mike Porter, Malt-O-Meal brand director. “We’ve always been committed to providing top-quality cereal at an affordable price per serving. We know this is more important than ever right now as shoppers and their families strive to start their mornings with a convenient breakfast while keeping a close eye on the budget.”

      Shop Alone
      When shopping with other members of your family, like your children or significant other, the odds of straying from your list can increase. To help limit the chance of being coaxed into buying things you don’t actually need, go alone and stick to your list.

      Scan Sales Flyers
      Grocery stores run various promotions each week that can help you save on everything from meat and eggs to ice cream and other frozen foods. A simple way to save is checking the weekly ads at the grocery stores in your area. Shopping at a different store than usual may allow you to take advantage of different sales, and those items are often located in prominent areas of the store, like near the entrance or at the end of aisles, to make them easy to find.

      Use Rebate Apps
      While rebates don’t always provide the same up-front savings of some other methods, such as traditional coupons, you may see a greater savings in the long run. With a variety of free options out there, you can register and start earning cash back almost immediately. For greatest savings, pair rebate app savings with store loyalty discounts and credit card cash back rewards.

      Look for In-Season Produce
      When you’re shopping on a budget, sticking to in-season produce can get you the most bang for your buck. When fresh fruits and vegetables are out of season, stores typically charge more for them since they’re not as readily available. Planning your meals around in-season produce can not only help save money, but also put the best-tasting fruits and veggies on the table.

      Visit maltomeal.com for more affordable breakfast inspiration.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • When can You Handle Home Renovations Yourself and When Should You Hire a Contractor?

      24 May 2022

      Home renovations can be expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, you may be thinking about tackling some projects yourself. If you know what you’re doing and can do the job safely, that may be a good idea, but there are some renovations that should be left to professionals.

      Are You Qualified to Do the Job?
      There are plenty of projects, such as painting and replacing kitchen and bathroom fixtures, that you can handle yourself with little or no training. Watching an online video may be enough to teach you what you need to know. In some cases, however, you shouldn’t attempt a project unless you have received formal training.

      Plumbing is one example. You may be able to fix a leaky faucet, but if you want to move fixtures and don’t have the appropriate training, let a contractor or plumber handle it. If you make a mistake, your kitchen or bathroom may flood or cause a slow leak, which can cause structural damage or mold.

      Moving walls or creating an open floor plan is a project that should be left to a professional. If you remove a load-bearing wall and don’t adequately support the upper floor and roof, you may wind up with a disaster on your hands.

      Other types of work can pose a safety hazard to you or to others. Roof work is dangerous because of the risk of falling, not to mention potential damage to your house if you do it wrong. Any project that requires major electrical work, or that involves natural gas, should be entrusted to a licensed contractor.

      Can You Save Money by Doing the Work Yourself?
      If you don’t know what you’re doing and you make a mistake, you may have to hire a professional to fix the original issue, plus the additional problem that you created. You may wind up paying a lot more than it would have cost you to hire a contractor in the first place.

      Making a mistake when completing a home renovation can also come back to bite you when you sell your house. Shoddy work can be a red flag and may turn off potential buyers. 

      Perform a Cost-Benefit Analysis
      Request estimates from a few local contractors or use a website to get a ballpark cost for your planned project. Then, research prices for parts and estimate how long it would take you to do the work yourself, given your level of training and experience. If you would only be able to work on renovations in the evenings or on weekends, it could take you several weeks. A contractor could get it done much faster. Before starting a  project, ask yourself if you are equipped to handle it yourself or if it would be better to hire a professional.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Get Back Into an Exercise Routine After Taking Time Off

      24 May 2022

      It’s easy to fall out of a workout routine if you’re feeling overwhelmed by work or family commitments or if you get sick or injured. Getting back on track can be much harder. Here are some tips to help.

      Talk to Your Doctor About Your Condition, Goals and Abilities
      If you took time off because of an illness or an injury, consult your doctor before you start working out. Your physician can assess your current condition and give you advice on how to ease back into an exercise regimen, including which exercises are safe to do and which you should avoid, how much you can work out to start and how often. If you took a break due to an injury, your physical therapist may suggest ways to modify some activities to reduce your risk of getting hurt again.

      You may be eager to resume the types of activities you used to do, but that may not be realistic, at least not right now. Focus on setting reasonable goals based on your current abilities so you don’t overdo it and get hurt or feel discouraged when things don’t go the way you hoped they would.

      Take Your Time
      You may want to focus on short and simple workouts before you return to the gym. Taking a daily walk around the block, going for bike rides, or playing with your kids in the backyard can be good ways to begin adding physical activity back into your life without stressing your body too much all at once.

      Once you start transitioning back into your former routine, you may realize that your strength and abilities declined more than you thought they had. Be realistic and listen to your body. 

      Focus on proper technique, not on using the same amount of weight or doing the same number of reps you used to do. You will be able to increase the intensity over time, but you can get hurt if your form isn’t right. It will take time to get back into shape, but it’s better to take a measured approach than to push yourself too hard, get injured and be out of commission for several more weeks or months.

      Give Your Body What It Needs
      Don’t just think about your workout routine. Nutrition and rest are vital to your overall health and fitness. Eat a healthy diet so your body has the nutrients necessary for exercise. Make sure you get enough sleep and take days off from working out so your body gets the rest it needs.

      Seek Support
      If you used to work out with family members or friends, tell them that you want to get back into your old routine. Make sure they understand that you took time off and why. They can help you challenge yourself without overdoing it and can provide support and encouragement when you need it. Looking forward to the social aspect of working out can also help you stay motivated.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 3 Fun, Easy Ways to Keep Kids Learning During Summer

      23 May 2022

      (Family Features) With school out, summertime brings long, carefree days of play and fun. It can be easy to forget how much children learn through play, but they have a natural sense of curiosity. With a little thought and a few supplies, summer is a perfect opportunity to revitalize their innate love of learning that may be a bit squashed after a year of academic pressures, tests and schedules.

      “At this time of year, we often hear families express concern about children losing academic skills during summer break,” said Sue-Ann Lively from KinderCare’s education team. “The pressure to add academic learning to summer can lead to increased anxiety, which isn’t helpful for parents or children. Children retain what they learned best when they’re engaged and interested in what they’re doing. As we head into summer, think about the skills your child learned during the school year and how you could incorporate those skills into activities your child enjoys doing.”

      Consider these three tips to help your family incorporate learning classroom concepts in summer fun and nurture your children’s love of learning through real-life applications. 

      1. Build on classroom skills
      Practicing writing may not be at the top of your children’s summer activities lists. However, writing might be more appealing if it led to something fun, like a card or letter from a relative or friend. By encouraging your children to write to pen pals, like friends or family members, they will not only practice their literacy skills by writing letters and reading replies, but also work on important executive function skills by learning to manage anticipation while waiting for a response. Even children who are too young to write can participate by drawing pictures and dictating the captions to family members.

      2. Go outside
      A walk around the neighborhood can turn into an opportunity to build STEM skills by observing changes over time. As you and your children walk, ask questions, make predictions and discuss what you see. This way, you’ll be forming hypotheses and analyzing your results, just like scientists.

      3. Find learning opportunities in regular activities
      Cooking provides a variety of opportunities to work on math skills. For younger children, that could mean getting two carrots and one apple for a recipe. For children who are learning fractions and multiplication, that might mean figuring out how much of an ingredient to add, such as “If the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of flour and we’re doubling the recipe, how much flour do we need?”

      Board games are another opportunity to build academic skills, like math and literacy; executive function skills, like waiting for their turn; and social skills, such as being a gracious winner.

      Additionally, read with your children daily and help them find opportunities to practice reading skills, such as reading signs aloud at the park or reading books out loud to other family members.

      For more ideas to help children learn through play, visit kindercare.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Shake Up Summer Snacks

      23 May 2022

      (Family Features) Power up for summer adventures by shaking up your snacking routine with homemade recipes inspired by childhood favorites.

      Tasty and versatile, California walnuts are easy to swap into your favorite snack recipes and work hard to keep you energized and full. Kick off summer with some irresistible plant-forward Walnut Chorizo Pizza Bites and Strawberry Walnut Hand Pies for delicious summer snacks loaded with the nutrition benefits of walnuts.

      Visit walnuts.org/snacking for more snack recipes.

      Strawberry Walnut Hand Pies

      Dough:
      1/4 cup California walnuts
      1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
      1 teaspoon cane sugar
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
      4-5 tablespoons ice cold water
      1 egg, beaten

      Strawberry Walnut Filling:
      1 cup strawberries, tops removed, halved
      1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
      1 teaspoon cornstarch
      2 tablespoons cane sugar
      1/3 cup finely chopped California walnuts
       
      Frosting:
      1/2 cup powdered sugar
      2 tablespoons 2% milk
      1/2 teaspoon beetroot powder
      2 tablespoons finely chopped California walnuts

      To make dough: In a food processor, pulse walnuts until fine and evenly ground. Add flour, sugar and salt to ground walnuts; pulse to combine. Add cubed butter; pulse until butter is in small pieces. Add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing while adding, until dough starts sticking together.

      Transfer dough to a clean surface; shape into two 4-inch discs. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

      To make filling: In a food processor, pulse strawberries and lemon juice until slightly chunky.

      Transfer to saucepan and gradually whisk in cornstarch until dissolved. Stir in sugar.

      Heat over low heat until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Turn heat off and stir in chopped walnuts. Transfer mixture to a small bowl; refrigerate.

      To assemble hand pies: Remove one dough disc from the refrigerator. Lightly flour work surface and rolling pin. Roll out dough into a large rectangle. Slice dough into six 4-by-2-inch rectangles. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

      In a bowl, mix water and egg. Brush perimeter of dough rectangles with egg wash. Place 1 tablespoon filling on the center of the dough.

      Roll out the second dough disc, creating six rectangles of dough. Place on top of jam and crimp edges with fork to seal. Freeze hand pies for 20 minutes.

      Preheat the oven to 375 F.

      Trim uneven edges of dough with a sharp knife and brush tops and sides with egg wash.

      Bake for 20-24 minutes until golden brown around the edges. Cool at room temperature 5 minutes on a baking sheet then transfer to a wire cooling rack until completely cooled.

      To make frosting: In a bowl, whisk sugar, milk and beetroot powder until thick but smooth. Drizzle frosting over hand pies and top with chopped walnuts. Cool for 15 minutes, or until frosting is set.

      Walnut Chorizo Pizza Bites

      Walnut Chorizo:
      1 1/2 cups California walnuts
      1 cup pinto beans, drained and rinsed
      2 tablespoons lime juice
      1 teaspoon smoked paprika
      1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
      1/2 teaspoon cumin
      1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
      1 tablespoon olive oil

      Pizza Bites:
      3 tablespoons olive oil
      1 cup sliced sweet onion
      5 mini bagels
      1 large zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch (10 slices)
      1 cup marinara sauce
      1 cup walnut chorizo
      1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
      1/2 cup chopped basil

      To make walnut chorizo: In a food processor, pulse walnuts until finely crumbled. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

      In a food processor, pulse pinto beans, lime juice, paprika, oregano, cumin, chipotle powder, salt and garlic powder until mixture resembles ground meat. Stir bean mixture with walnut pieces.

      In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add walnut chorizo and cook 5-7 minutes until lightly browned, using spatula to break into crumbles.

      To make pizza bites: In a pan over medium heat, heat olive oil and add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, 15-20 minutes until onion is soft and golden brown.

      Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Halve bagels and place on a baking sheet. Place zucchini slices on a second baking sheet.

      Top each bagel and zucchini slice with 1 tablespoon marinara; spread with the back of the spoon. Add 1 tablespoon walnut chorizo crumbles to each bagel and zucchini slice. Sprinkle it with caramelized onion and goat cheese.

      Bake for 10 minutes.

      Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets. Top with basil.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.