Tag: Chime to Table

 

9 Ways to Host While On a Holiday Budget

Growing up in a family where we hosted everything from birthday parties to Christmas gatherings to Fourth of July barbecues, it’s just in my DNA to host parties.

The problem? Hosting a party can get ridiculously expensive – particularly when you’re trying to budget and for an upcoming holiday.

Over the years, however, I’ve learned how you can host a party on the cheap that’s still top-notch.

Find out how by following these 9 tips.

1. Create your budget.

Thanks to this handy party budget estimator from Evite, you can calculate the cost of food, drinks, decorations, venue, and entertainment for your upcoming party so that you don’t overspend.

If you do go over budget, then think about whittling down your guest list or looking for cheaper food, drink, and decoration alternatives so that you can reduce the cost of the party.

As with any budget you create, make sure that you stick to it.

2. Pick a theme.

Before you start buying food, drinks, and decorations, settle on a theme. This will help guide you in setting the budget I just mentioned since you’ll know exactly what you need to purchase for the party.

If the theme is too expensive to pull-off, then look for another theme that’s not as pricey.

Another perk of picking a theme is that you may find a ton of DIY ideas on Pinterest or Instagram, which could potentially save you a ton of money in decorations or entertainment.

3. Go green.

Unless it’s for a more formal event, like a wedding, there’s really no reason to send out paper invitations – especially when you can send out invites digitally on Facebook or Evite for free.

The same is true with paper and plastic plates, silverware, and glasses. Washing them may be a hassle, but using the dinnerware that you already own cuts out this unnecessary expense. Besides, real dinnerware makes you party seem a bit more eloquent.

4. Skip the big meal.

I honestly enjoy dinner parties. But, they can get real expensive. Instead of having a traditional sit-down dinner, just offer hors d’oeuvres or appetizers, such as cheese/charcuterie plates, veggies, and bread bowls. Usually, these ingredients are inexpensive or can be bought in bulk.

Just remember, make your presentation unique and appealing based on your theme, as opposed to the ordinary and humdrum. If the presentation looks amazing, your guests won’t even know that you didn’t spend a whole lot dough on food.

5. Stick with a signature drink.

Just like food, you have to provide your guests with drinks. The problem is that having a full bar is extremely expensive. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on a variety of alcohol. Instead, come up with a signature cocktail that matches your theme. This way you’re only purchasing one or two types of alcohol.

If you do want to have more of selection, then buy your alcohol in bulk or at places like Trader Joe’s where decent bottles of wine can be found for under $10. Of course, there’s also the classic BYOB option.

6. Keep entertainment and decorations simple.

You can’t host a party without entertainment. Thankfully, you can entertain your guests on the cheap thanks to music apps like Apple Radio, Spotify, and Pandora where can make playlists for the theme or holiday.

Besides background music, you can play cards or board games, have dance-offs, or have a pool party. You can even purchase or rent a karaoke machine for under $200 if that’s your thing.

For smaller gatherings, you could have a movie marathon, video game challenge, or under $20 gift exchanges.

If there are kids at the party, set up an area where they can color and do simple crafts. You can even hire a neighborhood babysitter to help with this — and they usually have great ideas of their own. It also wouldn’t hurt if there are kid-friendly movies and games available.

Besides entertainment, keep your decorations simple. Look for DIY decoration ideas on Pinterest, shop at dollar stores, and keep the bulk of your decorations in areas where there’s going to be the most amount of traffic.

7. Ask your guests to pitch in.

Most quests don’t have the nerve to show-up empty-handed – even if you tell them not to bring anything. To make life easier, and keep your expenses low, ask your specific friends to bring their favorite drinks or signature dishes.

If planned correctly, and planned ahead, this should take care of at least some of the appetizers, snacks, desserts, and drinks from your budget.

You can also throw a potluck dinner. If you’re not a fan of that term, then call it a “recipe exchange” party.

8. Party during the day.

Nighttime parties are the norm. But, they can get pretty expensive when guests expect plenty of food and drinks – which sometimes can extend into the wee hours of the morning.

Instead, consider throwing a party during the day, like a brunch, barbecue, pool party, or game day gathering.

While you still have to provide food and drinks, these items are often less expensive, you can make a ton of pancakes relatively cheap, for instance. Also, since it’s during the day, your guests are less likely to drink as much,

9. Throw a progressive dinner party.

If you do want to have a dinner party, then ask your friends, family, or neighbors if they would be interested in throwing a progressive party dinner together. Instead of one person playing host, the dinner party is divided by 3 to 5 different people.

For example, guests would first come to your home for hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. After about 45 minutes or so, everyone would go to your best friend’s house for appetizers, followed by their neighbor for a dinner course, and then another friend’s home for dessert and after dinner drinks.

This is also a great, “get to know the new neighbors,” party.

The logistics can sometimes be a problem, so this only works if everyone is in close proximity, but it’s a unique party idea for your inner circle where the expense and responsibility of hosting doesn’t fall just on you.

 

How to Tastefully Bring Up Money at Thanksgiving Dinner (and Why You Should)

Sex, religion, and politics are among some of the most commonly avoided topics at the dinner table because, well, they tend to make people feel uncomfortable. Here’s another topic that can be just as taboo: money.

Yet, contrary to what you may believe, you may actually want to talk about money at one of the most prominent dinner tables of all: the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Sure, Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks, making memories and spending time with family and friends. But, while you’re all together at the table, why not make the conversation about money? Here are a few reasons why this may prove to be a good idea:

  • Money shouldn’t be taboo. Money should never be a taboo topic in your household. Yet, according to Reuters, Americans would rather talk about death than money. As a result, more than half of the country admits to not having enough money saved to cover a $500 unexpected expense, and a vast majority of Americans can’t afford to retire. To avoid going down this road, it’s important to talk about money openly in your household. Another added bonus: this is a good way for your kids or other children at the table to learn about financial literacy.
  • All your family will be together. Another great reason to bring up money at Thanksgiving table is that this way you can have an open conversation with all your relatives at the same time.
  • It’s a good way to discuss your holiday spending plans.  People spend the most money during the last two months of the year on holiday-related expenses, including gifts and travel. In fact, consumers spend an average of $1,000 extra during the holiday season. If you are trying to budget or simply can’t afford to spend the extra dough, having an open discussion with your family about your finances may be a smart money move. This way you’ll be more apt to eliminate stress and enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones.

While there’s no doubt that money is an important subject to discuss during the holidays, talking about finances can still be awkward. Here are 5 easy ways to talk about money at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

1. Ask Everyone About Their Short and Long-Term Goals

An easy way to bring up money at the Thanksgiving dinner table is to ask everyone about their short and long-term goals for the future. This way, no one feels singled out and everyone gets to share where they see themselves going financially, professionally and personally.

Trust me, money will come up during this conversation and it’s a great way to discuss how everyone will make their goals a reality right before it’s time to start setting New Year’s resolutions.

For starters, you can discuss what type of legacy you want to leave and how finances can help you get there. You can also ease into the topic of medical and financial needs for older family members or your aging parents.

2. Answer the Famous, “How Have You Been?” Question with Financial Flair

It’s almost guaranteed that a relative is going to ask you for a life update at the Thanksgiving gathering. This is the perfect opportunity to launch an indirect conversation about money.

For example, instead of disclosing details about your job or your relationship, share some financial successes or failures instead. Maybe you’ve been doing a great job with sticking to your budget, saving up for a big purchase, or finding new ways to make some extra money on the side. My husband has been driving for Uber and Lyft for about a year and it always prompts some great conversations about side hustles and extra income at family gatherings.

3. Play a Family-Friendly Game About Money

Adults love games just as much as kids and since most places are closed during Thanksgiving day, my family and I like to relax after dinner and play board games or watch movies.

If your Thanksgiving gathering often turns into a family game night as well, choose a fun game that promotes financial literacy and wellness. Some of the best games that teach people about money include:

  • CashFlow
  • Game of Life
  • MoneyWise
  • Payday
  • Easy Money

4. Talk About Financial News and Current Events

Current news and events are commonly discussed at the dinner table. You could flip the script by bringing up some personal finance news instead by mentioning a study or article you recently read. You could also discuss a recent financial news story you saw on TV. Typically stories abound about Black Friday and consumerism during Thanksgiving week.

5. Share Information About a Charity Event

Being able to give back and help those in need is important to your overall financial wellness.

As you go around the table and reveal everything you’re thankful for, you can share information about an upcoming charity event your family can volunteer for. Whether it’s passing out meals, donating gifts, or providing a service, this can be an impactful way to discuss the giving aspect of money and money management.

Be Inclusive and Steer the Conversation

Using the tips above, you can turn an uncomfortable holiday conversation into a productive discussion about money.

Just remember this final tip: if you’re going to bring up money at the Thanksgiving dinner table this year, focus on being inclusive and addressing everyone. This way no one feels targeted or left out.

 

Friendsgiving Ideas on Any Budget

You’re not alone if you won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving with your own family.

Maybe you can’t afford to travel to be with your parents. Or, perhaps you have to work over the holiday. If you are flying solo without local family around, you may even decide to host the holiday at your house and create your own Friendsgiving tradition.

Being the host allows you to set the menu and invite who you want. You can spend as much as you’d like on your Friendsgiving dinner. At the same time, you may be limited by budgetary constraints. Fortunately for you, there are tons of Friendsgiving ideas for every budget that can make your event a memorable one. Take a look.

Low Budget ($20-40)

Unfortunately, it’s tough to have a free Friendsgiving dinner – unless, of course, you provide no food yourself. As the host with the most, this probably won’t go over well with your friends. But, you can host Friendsgiving for as little as $20 to $40. Here are some Friendgivings ideas for a low-cost event:

Food

Why not make it a budget meal and ask your friends to pitch in? For example, ask one person to bring the stuffing, another to make the potatoes, and so on. In fact, if you supply only the turkey, gravy, and beverages, you can probably keep your costs to around $30 to $40, depending on how many people you invite.

Invitations

Invite your friends by word of mouth, social media, or free e-invitations found on the Internet.

Decorations

You can make your own Friendsgiving decorations using supplies you have at home or ask to borrow stuff from your friends. For example, use paper sacks to create placemats. Twigs and bits of greenery can also spruce things up, and a single pumpkin in the center of the table makes for a great centerpiece.

Entertainment

Play music you already have, or put a friend in charge of this. You can also forego music and simply enjoy each other’s company.

Moderate Budget ($40-100)

For those who have a little more to spend on Friendsgiving, you may be able to pay for everything yourself – if you budget wisely. Check out our suggestions:

Food

With a little planning, you can buy a turkey on sale at your local grocery store. Do the same with the stuffing, potatoes, and other foods you plan to serve.

If any of your menu items are canned or boxed, you can also stock up ahead of time by purchasing these on sale or using coupons. You may also want to consider serving only flavored waters and other low-cost beverages instead of wine and beer, as alcohol can get expensive.

Invitations

You can still use social media and free e-invites if you wish. However, you can also print them up from your home computer and mail them. Assuming you aren’t having a gathering of the masses, postage shouldn’t cost more than a few dollars and your guests will enjoy receiving mail that isn’t junk.

Decorations

To create a festive Friendsgiving table while keeping costs down, try picking up a couple of yards of burlap to make placemats and a table runner. For a centerpiece, buy a pumpkin and some small gourds, and add some votives or other candles you have on hand. You can also collect and use pinecones from your yard or a nearby park. Artistically arrange everything and you will have a beautiful table your friends will admire.

Entertainment

You can sign up for the commercial-free version of Pandora for $5 to have some background music for your Friendsgiving. Or, you can place a friend in charge for free.

Go All Out ($100 and up)

Of course, when you have plenty of money, you can host Friendsgiving without having to worry about the cost. Here are some options:

Food

You can relax and let someone else do the work if you choose. Have your meal catered or order all the fixings ahead of time from your local supermarket. All you’ll have to do is pick the meal up and set everything up before your guests arrive. Of course, if money is absolutely no issue, you can always take all your friends out for dinner and foot the bill for everyone. Just make sure you check ahead of time to ensure the eating establishment of your choice will be open and available. Many restaurants offer set price menus and seating times for Thanksgiving, so you may be better off making a reservation ahead of time.

Invitations

Have fancy invitations printed from a local print shop, or design them yourself and have them shipped to you ahead of time. You can then mail them out and await the responses from your appreciative friends.

Decorations

To decorate your home and dining room, you can buy decorations at a local craft store or even order a fancy centerpiece. Or, if you’re planning to eat out, talk to the restaurant ahead of time to plan for your ideal Friendsgiving table decorations.

Entertainment

If you want to go all out, you can hire a DJ. For a more low-key option, you can purchase special music that you can play on your laptop or home entertainment system.

If you’re dining out with your group of friends, ask the restaurant manager if the staff can arrange to play music while you all eat, drink, and share the holiday meal.

Give Thanks

As you can see, hosting a Friendsgiving celebration is a wonderful way to spend Thanksgiving. Whether you have a lot of money or just a little, you can refer to our Friendsgiving ideas for plenty of options to fit every budget.

 

Do Meal Delivery Services Save You Money?

One of my personal goals this year is to learn how to cook. However, since my progress has been slow, a friend of mine suggested looking into Blue Apron and their meal-in-a-box concept because it takes the “guesswork out of cooking.” It all sounded great except for one dilemma: Will meal services wreck my budget or are they worth it?

Pros of Using a Meal Delivery Service

Before we get into the numbers, let’s look at some of the reasons why you might consider using a meal delivery service:

  • You’ll save time if you have a busy work schedule (my friend is a nurse who works 12-hour shifts).
  • Recipes are easy-to-follow for novices like myself.
  • Fresh ingredients are delivered to your door. For example, Blue Apron markets, “farm-fresh, seasonal produce; meat with no added hormones and sustainably-sourced seafood.”
  • It’s cheaper than going to a restaurant.
  • It’s healthier than ordering pizza.
  • There are many options to choose from such as Sun BasketPlated, PeachDish, Chef’D, Purple Carrot and HelloFresh.

Know the Cost per Meal

Going back to Blue Apron’s offering for the sake of consistency, their cheapest option works out to $9.99 per serving. Based on my zip code, the total minimum order would be $59.94 since they offered me free shipping. Right off the bat, that’s 15% of my total $400 grocery budget per month for just six meals. Not looking good.

However, I decided to take a look at how much my most expensive home-cooked meal costs: steak. I realized that I actually spend slightly more than $59 on steak each month (not including side dishes). So, in that regard, Blue Apron might be something worth looking into. But, I certainly can’t justify a weekly delivery as the rest of my meals cost a heck of lot less than steak.

Are Meal Delivery Services Worth it For You?

Meal delivery services may or may not fit into your budget depending on your personal circumstances. However, asking this question may lead you to take another look at the way you spend your food dollars in order to get into the best (financial) shape of your life. Read on to learn about other ways to save money on your grocery bill.

How You Can Save Money and Eat Healthily

If you’ve decided to stick with cooking your own meals and shopping for the ingredients (at least most of the time), here are some tips for creating a grocery budget that won’t leave you broke or craving nutrient-rich foods:

  • Keep track of how much you spend at the grocery store every week. This is a great first step to reveal habits that you might not be aware of. Use your findings as a springboard to fine-tune your food budget. If you sometimes use a meal delivery service then be sure to include this in your tracker as well.
  • Remember to include eating out. According to Forbes, the average millennial spends almost $3,000 a year on eating out. When was the last time you added up your “girls’ night out” expenses?
  • Limit your trips to the grocery store. Small trips to the grocery store can add up – big time. Going from two trips a week to two trips per month helped me save about $100 on my monthly food bill.
  • Designate a meal prep day. Most people choose Sundays as the day to cook and portion out their meals for the week. Checking this off your to-do list before the work week starts will save you loads of time and of course, money.
  • Avoid the junk food aisle. A Harvard study showed that on average it costs an extra $1.50 per day to eat healthier. However, “this price difference is very small in comparison to the economic costs of diet-related chronic diseases, which would be dramatically reduced by healthy diets.” At the same time, there may be several frugal or creative options available such as backyard farming or shopping at an ethnic market for cheap produce.
  • Compare your spending to the national average. USDA’s most recent food estimates place the average spending for a couple under the age of 50 at about $384 per month for the “thrifty” plan whereas the “liberal plan” totals $765 per month.

Keeping Your Food Budget in Shape

This point needs a whole section! While reviewing the national average can be a helpful tool, sometimes we get caught up in comparing ourselves to others. It’s important to remember that personal finances should be just that — your own personal game plan for building a life you can be proud of.

A great way to get a handle on just how much you should spend on food (including eating out and meal delivery services) is to take a look at how your food budget stacks up against your other expense categories. More specifically, if your number-crunching exercise reveals that you currently spend 30% of your income on food, it might be time to go on a spending diet. In short, going on a financial detox could help tighten up your finances as well.

Looking for another great way to save? Try automating your savings by setting up a Chime bank account. Chime rounds up each purchase you make to the nearest dollar and places this amount in your savings account. Small savings like these may add up to hundreds of dollars throughout the year. This can go a long way if you’re hoping to become a HelloFresh member.

Or better yet, creating healthy financial habits can help you achieve the debt-free dream or even move out of your parent’s home.

 

How to Host an Epic Friendsgiving on a Budget

Friends are the family you choose, and celebrating with friends around Thanksgiving has become a holiday of its own. Friendsgiving isn’t just a backup plan for those of us who can’t travel due to the expense or a busy work schedule. For many, it’s just another way to celebrate the Thanksgiving tradition among friends. According to Facebook, last year over 75,000 Friendsgiving events were created on the social network alone, and mentions of Friendsgiving doubled on Venmo.

If you’re taking the helm as host for Friendsgiving this year, you’ll need to do a little planning and budgeting. Otherwise, your ambitions for an epic feast may turn as sour as old cranberry sauce. Consider these tips to put a memorable meal on the table without making a huge dent in your bank account.

Make It a Potluck

Unless you grew up with a huge family, you probably don’t know what it’s like to cook for a dozen people. Why start now? Host a potluck Friendsgiving and ask everyone who attends to pitch in with a dish.

Let guests choose from a list of food categories to ensure that the staples are covered—we’re guessing you don’t want to end up with six different kinds of green-bean casserole. Solidify the potluck menu ahead of time and confirm that everyone knows what they’re bringing. For those friends who don’t like to cook, there are plenty of other essentials to cover, such as tableware, napkins, and beverages.

The obvious question remains: who cooks the turkey? It’s the most labor-intensive and pricey dish—for a party of 10, the turkey can cost as much as half of the total price of a Thanksgiving meal.

In most cases, the host takes on the task of cooking the turkey and making the gravy. You don’t want a friend lugging a 20-pound bird around town in a tray of hot liquid. That said, getting a friend to help with this portion is invaluable. It’s a greasy, day-long event, but it’s worth the time.

Use DIY Decorations

A tasteful Thanksgiving centerpiece can go a long way toward creating a festive atmosphere for your guests and only requires a few seasonal pieces that you can find on the cheap. Shop for colorful gourds, such as pumpkins and squash—you can use them for a future meal. Snag a few holiday-scented candles from the dollar store. Grab a handful of fall leaves from the backyard or swing by a local florist and grab some fresh greenery then scatter it artfully on the table.

Try substituting pine cones and cinnamon sticks for flowers—they last longer and maintain their decorative relevance throughout all the winter holidays

Plan for Leftovers

Wasting food costs American families thousands of dollars per year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food waste accounts for 28% of all garbage that is sent to landfills in terms of weight. At the same time, millions of Americans are. It’s a shame to let Thanksgiving food go to waste.

Since everyone has ostensibly brought a dish and paid up to defray costs, they’re also entitled to Friendsgiving leftovers. Ask people to bring storage containers so they can take food with them when they leave.

You can freeze some of the staple Friendsgiving dishes, such as turkey and stuffing. Keep in mind that pies and cooked vegetables don’t freeze well—eat these as soon as possible.

Chip In; Give Back

Potlucks are cost-effective, but you don’t want a few people stuck paying way more than everyone else. And what about that pricey turkey and red burgundy? If one person picks up the majority of the food or beverages, figure out a donation amount and try to settle up before the dinner if possible. It’ll help everyone avoid any awkward nagging emails or texts. For Chime members settling up is instant when you use Pay Friends.

While you’re deciding how to divvy up the costs of the event, why not consider pooling money together for a donation to a local food bank? It will amplify the feelings of goodwill long after the leftovers are gone and address a troubling need among millions of Americans who struggle with food insecurity.

Once the turkey hits the table, be sure to take some time to actively appreciate being in the company of good friends and food. A little gratitude goes a long way to not only strengthen your personal relationships but to also make you more mindful of the forces and people that helped you get where you are.

Happy Friendsgiving!

 

Chime To Table: Surprising Ways To Save 25% On Your Grocery Bill

Sketch & Banana Bread Recipe by Gretchen Röehrs

Imagine your next trip to the grocery store, carting out eight bags brimming with fresh produce, meats, dairy and staples for the pantry. You’re rushing to beat traffic so you can catch the latest episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and on the way to the car, your shopping cart hits a bump and swerves uncontrollably. During this chaotic scene, two of your bags tumble out, scattering across the jammed parking lot. You gasp at your groceries strewn about on the cement, rolling under cars before disappearing beyond your sight. In utter dismay but with sheer urgency, you proceed to the car, securely pack the remaining bags into the trunk, and head home, less 25% of your purchases.

Sounds like an incredibly crazy and wasteful thing to do, right? But the equivalent is happening in American households on a regular basis. In the United States alone, 25 percent of purchased groceries end up in the garbage. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food waste accounts for 28% of all garbage that is sent to landfills in terms of weight. Once it decomposes, these scraps produce methane, a greenhouse gas that is much more potent that carbon dioxide.

Food waste is of epidemic proportions and in recent years has increased concern for environmental and economic costs, food insecurity, and resource conservation. The implications of this also impact your bottom line. For most people, food is the third largest household expense. According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, conducted in 2013, the average American family spent $4,000 on groceries annually, signifying that around $640 of that figure was unconsumed.

In order to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle as well as save a significant amount of money instead of throwing it in the garbage, eliminating food waste is incredibly important (and remarkably easy). Here are some creative ideas to help get you started.

Plan your meals.

Create menus for the week before you go shopping, and no, Top Ramen does not count as meal planning. By being prepared you will avoid getting baited into taking home a selection of foods that won’t go together and may be out of date by the time you want to consume them.

Don’t get duped at the grocery store.

It’s easy to get suckered into buying stuff you don’t need, especially when grocery stores strategically put the essentials (ahem, milk & bread) in the back so you have to zigzag through all the aisles, overflowing with delectable goods, just to arrive at the necessities. Two for one sales or short-term promotions are also marketing tactics aimed at getting you to over purchase. Stick to your list and try not to stray away from it, even if there’s an unbeatable deal on perishable items. In order to prevent a mass spoiling, buy produce that’s varied in ripeness.

Think twice about expiration dates.

Although “consume by”, “sell by”, or “best by” dates appear on everything from packaged produce to bread, they don’t mean much. According to WebMD, some basic rules apply when determining if certain foods are okay to eat past their expiry date. A lot of food is wasted due to these arbitrary labels that are not even regulated by the FDA.

Get the most out of your freezer.

Freeze any fruits and veggies if they tend to spoil before consumption so you can save for a future meal. Also, utilize your freezer for bread, or other perishable items that are about to go stale. Even milk and cheese can be frozen before going rancid.

Eat on smaller plates.

Did you know that the size of the American dinner plate has increased by 36% since 1960? This leads to either stuffing your face with extra calories (which leads to more time on the treadmill) or piling your plate with food that you have no intention of finishing. Switch to eating off of a salad plate come dinnertime.

Donate unwanted food.

There are close to 49 million Americans living in food-insecure households, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children. Do you have cans of beans and bags of rice that have been collecting dust in your pantry? Don’t throw away these non-perishable goods. Instead, donate any surplus to those in need.

Compost, when all else fails.

Food waste accounts for 28%, in terms of weight, of all garbage that is sent to landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Once it decomposes, methane is created, a greenhouse gas that is much more potent than carbon dioxide. An alternative is composting. Locate a corner of your yard and start a compost heap or if you live in an apartment building purchase a container, where unconsumed scraps can break down without producing environmentally harmful gasses.

Cook with produce past its prime.

An ingenious and absolutely delicious way to use excess perishable goods is to incorporate them into a recipe. Bananas, spinach, peaches, avocados, and tomatoes all have a short expiry date and can taste quite unpleasant once past their best. However, these foods are still perfectly usable when incorporated in a cooked recipe, like the one for drool-inducing banana bread, below. The bread can be served warm or cold, or even made into muffins for a tasty breakfast snack or packed lunch treat.

Cutting back on food waste is incredibly easy. With a little ingenuity and planning, you are helping to preserve environmental resources and padding your pockets with a little extra cash.

Banana Bread With Chocolate Recipe

Ingredients:

⅓ cup melted coconut oil

½ cup honey or maple syrup

2 fresh eggs, room temperature

1 cup mashed bananas (about 2½ medium or 2 large bananas)

¼ cup milk of choice or water, room temperature

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon Himalayan sea salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to swirl on top

1¾ cups whole wheat flour or almond flour

Optional: ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans, large chocolate chips, raisins, or chopped dried fruit

Baking Instructions:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

Step 2: In a large bowl, beat the oil and honey together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, then whisk in the mashed bananas and milk.

Step 3: Add the baking soda, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon, and whisk to blend. Lastly, switch to a big spoon and stir in the flour, just until combined. Some lumps are ok! If you’re adding any additional mix-ins, gently fold them in now.

Step 4: Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.

Step 5: Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

 

5 Ways to #ChimeIn for Hunger This Holiday Season

Two months ago Chime called attention to the staggering problem of food insecurity in America with our Chime In for Hunger campaign in support of  Feeding America. Many of our members responded to the call and we want to thank those who contributed.

As we gather together this holiday season to celebrate with traditions of food, gift giving, and time with friends and family, our thoughts are with those struggling to get by or put food on the table. There are close to 49 million Americans living in food-insecure households, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children. These statistics are truly hard to stomach, particularly this time of year. That’s why we’re sharing a few tips on how you can make a difference, starting with your local community.

1. Donate your time.

  • Join a local gleaning group. Gleaning groups assist with picking fruit and vegetable crops that would otherwise go to waste. Volunteering with a gleaning group is a great way to make a difference while affording you the opportunity to learn about local agriculture.
  • Volunteer at a food bank in your area. Millions of families depend on meals provided through local food banks and pantries, and those facilities rely on volunteers to help sort, bag and distribute food.

Some of our team members here at Chime recently lent a hand at the San Francisco Food Bank. In just a few hours our volunteer group packaged 660 boxes of pears and 500 pounds of rice for distribution to various partners and pantries across local counties. 

2. Donate money.

  • Food banks, as well as other non-profit organizations that fight hunger, rely heavily on grants and cash donations. Food banks buy food in bulk and at discounted rates, so a donation of $1 can purchase $20 worth of food for a family in need.  You can donate directly to your local food bank, or through organizations such as Feeding America.

3. Reduce waste through recovery and donation.

  • Hosting a party? Donate the leftover food. Work with your school to ensure that unused food is bequeathed to a pantry or food bank.
  • Hire a gleaning group to yield the fruit on your land and give the harvest to a local food bank.

4. Host a food drive.

  • Consider coordinating a food drive and requesting participants donate food or a few dollars which nonprofits can use to buy food at an exponential discount.

5. Raise awareness.
The easiest way to do your part in solving the problem of food insecurity is to bring the issue into the mainstream. You can Chime In For Hunger in one of these simple ways:

  • Host a charitable dinner at your school or home to promote discussions about solving poverty and hunger issues.
  • Share this list with friends and family and ask them to join forces so you can Chime in for Hunger together.

No matter how you choose to help, any contribution of your time and resources can make a difference for those less fortunate. Tell us how you plan to Chime in for Hunger in the comments.

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