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18 Inexpensive Meals to Make While You Wait for Your Tax Refund

18 Inexpensive Meals to Make While You Wait for Your Tax Refund

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Save money in the kitchen with these simple and cheap meals

Enjoy a nutritious inexpensive meal, like this recipe for shrimp and quinoa, instead of wasting money on takeout while you wait for your tax refund to come through.

The weeks between sending in your taxes and receiving your refund (we hope you're getting one!) can seem like an eternity, and your wallet is probably stretched pretty thin. Skip the junk and save money by making your own food on the cheap.

Click here to see the 18 Inexpensive Meals to Make While You Wait for Your Tax Refund slideshow.

Making food at home is almost always less expensive than eating out or ordering in, and it allows you to control what you’re eating. Give your wallet a break and make healthy, tasty meals at home.

Use pantry staples like oatmeal, quinoa, and pasta as the bases for inexpensive meals. They’re filling, cheap, and cook quickly. If meat is out of your budget, stock up on non-meat proteins like dried chickpeas, beans, and tofu. Add a fried egg to almost anything and turn it into a full meal for just a few additional cents.

While making your own food is often the less expensive option, there are some things that aren’t worth making from scratch, like dumpling dough or puff pastry, both of which take significant amounts of time and effort to make. Use vegetable and chicken scraps to make homemade stock or skip it altogether and replace with water or bouillon cubes in recipes.

The easiest way to save money on meals is to plan ahead and shop smart. Take stock of what you have in the house so you’re not over-buying items you already have on hand. Buy items like meat in bulk and freeze in single servings so you can reap the benefits of smart shopping long after you get back from the grocery store.

Consider ways to stretch meals over the course of week, like this easy chicken recipe that you can cook once and repurpose for dinners all week.

Skip ordering in and save money with these simple and cheap meal ideas.

Additional reporting by Angela Carlos, Cook Editor at The Daily Meal.

Claim missing stimulus money on your tax return ASAP. Here's how

Tax Day has been delayed this year, but if you're one of the millions of people missing stimulus check money from the first two payments, now's the time to file for a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 return. We've got everything you need to know.

If the IRS owes you money from the first two stimulus checks, you can get it by filing a recovery Rebate Credit.

The IRS has now sent out more than 161 million stimulus checks with the third round of payments for up to $1,400 per person . Dependents . SSI and SSDI recipients and veterans receiving VA benefits are among the groups who should have qualified to receive a check this month. While more payments are on the way, individuals and families are still missing money from the first or second stimulus checks and now have less than a month left to claim those funds.

The deadline to file your taxes has been extended to May 17 , and you'll need to file a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 return if you need to claim any of the $1,200 or $600 from the previous two checks -- even if you're a nonfiler who doesn't usually have to file taxes . After filing, you could receive your money as a larger tax refund or a smaller tax bill if you owe any money. You should also consider signing up for direct deposit to get your refund back faster. However, be aware that the IRS could garnish some or all of your refund to cover outstanding debts.

Below, we'll explain everything you need to know about starting the Recovery Rebate Credit claim process. If you think you're missing money from the third check , here's what you need to know about what could hold up your check , how to report a payment problem and when to request an IRS payment trace . Additionally, here's what we know about a fourth stimulus check and when you could start getting your 2021 child tax credit , if you and your children qualify . Here are other tax credits that could bring you more money this year, and new savings on health insurance and more . This story was recently updated.

Make this warm and comforting soup with your chicken leftovers. The roasted chicken adds a little different and yummy flavor. Don’t be frightened by all the ingredients. You can chop a lot of it the day before you make it and just dump and add the rest.

1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. olive oil or canola oil
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. thyme
8 cups chicken broth
4 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tsp. salt (adjust to taste)
2 cups chicken, cooked and diced
2 cups wide egg noodles
1/2 cup evaporated milk

Saute* first 4 ingredients in oil in a large Dutch oven (big pot or pan). Stir in flour, oregano and thyme. Gradually add chicken broth, potatoes and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Add chicken and noodles and simmer 10 more minutes. Reduce heat and add milk. Do not boil.

*Saute means to stir and cook until tender, usually about 3-5 minutes.

You can change this recipe to suit your taste. Add other veggies like peas, corn or broccoli. You can leave out the potatoes or substitute them with something like sweet potatoes or squash. You can leave out the milk (but the milk makes a nice creamy soup) and/or add more or less broth. You can also adjust the spices, for example you might add a little Tabasco sauce to give it a little kick.

IRS updates guidance on business expense deductions for meals and entertainment

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued proposed regulations on the business expense deduction for meals and entertainment following changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

The 2017 TCJA eliminated the deduction for any expenses related to activities generally considered entertainment, amusement or recreation. It also limited the deduction for expenses related to food and beverages provided by employers to their employees.

These proposed regulations address the elimination of the deduction for expenditures related to entertainment, amusement or recreation activities and provide guidance to determine whether an activity is considered to be entertainment. The proposed regulations also address the limitation on the deduction of food and beverage expenses.

The proposed regulations affect taxpayers who pay or incur expenses for meals or entertainment. These proposed regulations generally follow Notice 2018-76 PDF , issued on October 15, 2018, which provided transitional guidance on the deductibility of expenses for certain business meals.

Taxpayers affected by this change and other interested parties may submit comments on the proposed regulations. The IRS will hold a public hearing on these proposed regulations on April 7, 2020.

Exceptions to the Three-Year Audit Rule

There are exceptions to the three-year federal rule on assessments and audits as well:

  • The IRS has six years from the date a return is filed to audit a tax return and to assess additional tax if the taxpayer omits income that amounts to more than 25% of that which was reported on the tax return.
  • The IRS also has six years to audit a tax return and assess additional tax on income related to undisclosed foreign financial assets if the omitted income is more than $5,000.
  • The statute of limitations on audits and assessing additional tax can remain open indefinitely if the taxpayer files a false or fraudulent tax return.

4. Consider Waiting Before Trying To Get Your Refund

As the COVID-19 pandemic becomes worse, travel providers are loosening their restrictions as far as refunds go. If your trip is still a ways out, you might find that waiting until closer to your travel dates gets you a better chance of getting a refund. Additionally, it might just happen that the airline cancels that flight or the hotel shutters for a brief period due to COVID-19. You'll likely get a refund anyway, without having to ask for one directly.

Easy breakfast recipes

Including some make-ahead options -- in case working from home doesn't make mornings any less hectic.

Baked eggs


Why we like them: Eggs are a great source of protein and don't necessarily have to be carefully tended while they cook this recipe also easily scales up or down.

If that 18-pack of eggs is cheaper per ounce, go ahead and get it -- eggs last a while and are good for so many things. The beauty of this recipe is that you simply crack your eggs into an oven-proof dish and let them cook undisturbed -- no monitoring a skillet or swirling water for poached eggs.

They're enriched with some butter, cream and cheese (use whatever you have on hand and go a little lighter on the dairy if it seems too rich) and are perfect with a crunchy piece of toast. You can easily decrease or increase the ingredient amounts (and the size of your cooking vessel) depending on how many mouths you have to feed. And you could even serve this for lunch or dinner with a simple salad on the side. Get this easy baked eggs recipe.

Homemade egg bites

James Stefiuk

Why we like them: They're another great protein-rich breakfast, require zero utensils, can be made ahead -- and welcome any leftover meats and veggies you're looking to use up.

This keto-friendly egg bite recipe made in mini muffin pans (from the Dirty, Lazy, Keto Cookbook) is perfect for anyone missing their morning run. to Starbucks. If you have a multicooker, a similar Instant Pot egg bite recipe will yield a jigglier texture. Switch up the mix-ins depending on what you have even plain, a few dashes of your favorite spices will jazz them up enough to make you happy to wake up to them all week.

Slow cooker steel-cut oatmeal


Why we like it: Oats are a good plant-based form of protein as well as fiber to help keep you full all morning -- and if you have the option to buy in bulk, they'll cost much less than packaged oats or oatmeal.

If you really love oatmeal, have a bunch of kids that need breakfast every morning too or simply want to meal prep by batch cooking, this Crock Pot oatmeal recipe makes six to eight servings and is a breeze to throw together. You can use whole milk or coconut milk, and top it off with whatever you have: fresh, frozen or dried fruit nuts shredded coconut or even chocolate chips. If you prefer quick hits, Instant Pot oatmeal is a no-brainer. And either way, you can freeze individual servings in muffin cups for easy future breakfasts (just defrost in the microwave).

Chia pudding or overnight oats


Why we like them: Chia seeds are considered a superfood and while they can be expensive per pound depending on where you buy them, you don't need to use a lot at once if they're off the table, you can prepare regular oats in the same manner.

Sure, smoothies are pretty easy, but overnight oats or chia pudding are even easier, because you mix everything up the night before and just take it out of the fridge in the a.m. This overnight oats recipe combines ½ cup of rolled oats with a tablespoon of chia seeds (plus Greek yogurt, honey, milk and summer fruit). It's a great starting point, but you can use whatever flavorings, fruit and other toppings you prefer (or happen to have available). These overnight oats don't require any chia and demonstrate the near-endless topping possibilities.

Homemade granola and yogurt


Why we like them: If you stick to a simple formula (and already have certain things like vanilla and honey in your cupboard), buying oats, nuts and dried fruit from bulk bins lets you get the exact quantities and types you like at a cheaper price per pound than premade granola -- plus you can control how much sugar and oil is added.

Not only is homemade granola usually much cheaper than store-bought, it's healthier too -- you know exactly how much sugar (and what kind) is in the mix, and you can control the ratios of all ingredients to suit your particular tastes. Skip the nuts if allergies are a problem. You don't even have to stick to oats, as this homemade granola recipe tutorial shows. Keep it around for a relatively healthy snack, or use it to top your favorite yogurt for breakfast. (If your pressure cooker has a yogurt function, try this Instant Pot yogurt recipe to save even more money.)

Chocolate banana crunch muffins


Why we like them: Bananas are affordable (if you don't buy organic, they average 57 cents per pound) and famously high in potassium -- and you can use them even when they're a little overripe instead of tossing them out (and wasting money). This vegan recipe doesn't cancel out their benefits with tons of added sugar either.

Prefer baked goods for breakfast? There's no rule that says you can't eat banana bread for the first meal of the day, but for a less sugary option that's also vegan and gluten-free, try this chocolate banana crunch muffin recipe. Instead of adding butter, eggs and refined sugar and flour to the batter, the mashed bananas mingle with coconut oil, a chia egg, and oat and almond flour, plus cocoa powder for the chocolate boost. Sweetened with maple syrup and topped with granola, they're a real treat that you can feel really good about eating (and giving to your kids). Also, they're much easier than homemade bagels.

Substitutions: Don't have coconut oil? Use another neutral vegetable oil instead. No chia seeds to make a chia egg? Substitute 2 tablespoons water plus 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil -- or just ¼ cup of carbonated water. All out of maple syrup? Honey works just as well here. And if you have whole oats and almonds in your pantry, you can grind both into flour in a food processor (just don't blend the almonds too long or you'll get nut butter, which is another nice thing to make at home). If you don't want to have to think about swaps, though, these healthy banana muffins are similar but call for more common ingredients (and you can use regular all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat if AP is all you have).

Bonus: DIY dalgona coffee

Hana Asbrink/Chowhound

Why we like it: Made from just three ingredients (one of which is instant coffee granules, which tend to be much cheaper than whole or ground beans), this is a true treat that costs far less than anything you've ever bought from Starbucks (but we show you how to make Starbucks classics at home, too).

Have you seen this pillowy coffee drink all over social media and immediately assumed you could never pull it off at home? It's actually really easy -- and only involves three ingredients (five if you count ice and water). Simply whisk instant coffee granules or espresso powder with white sugar and hot water until it fluffs up, then spoon it into a glass of iced milk (whether conventional dairy or a plant-based alternative). You have a fancy latte alternative any barista would be proud of.

18 Things You Should Know Before Shopping at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's is well-known to its fans for low prices on unique food items, ranging from cookie butter to turkey corn dogs. The chain is also known for its quirky culture. Employees, easy to spot in their Hawaiian shirts, go out of their way to be helpful, and plastic lobsters are used to decorate stores.

The global health pandemic has forced the supermarket chain to make some changes to its day-to-day operations. However, customers can still appreciate the unconventional touches that help make the Trader Joe’s shopping experience stand out from a traditional grocer.

If you've never set foot inside one of Trader Joe's 500-plus locations, here are the shopping secrets you need to know before making your first trip.

Trader Joe's Has No Plans to Offer Delivery or Curbside Pickup

Many big supermarket chains and big-box retailers that offer fresh grocery items are now offering online ordering for delivery or curbside pickup as a result of the pandemic. However, Trader Joe’s says there aren’t any plans in the works to offer these services to its customers. In a recent episode of its Inside Trader Joe’s podcast, the company’s vice president of marketing Matt Sloan explains why doing so now doesn’t make sense for the business: “Creating an online shopping system for curbside pickup or the infrastructure for delivery, it's a massive undertaking. It's something that takes months or years to plan, build and implement, and it requires tremendous resources.”

Rather than cut staff to help fund services such as self-checkout, online ordering and delivery, the company says it will continue to invest in hiring on-site staff. In that same podcast episode, Tara Miller, Trader Joe’s marketing director said, “The bottom line here is that our people remain our most valued resource . . . We know that this period of distancing will end, and, when it does, our crew will be in our stores to help you find your next favorite product, just as they've always been.”

Trader Joe's Store Hours Have Been Modified Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak

Like many retailers, Trader Joe’s has revised its operating hours during the pandemic. This has allowed them to ramp up their cleaning efforts after normal store hours. Most stores open at 9 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. local time. The first hour of operation each day is dedicated to customers age 60 and over, as well as those with disabilities. (In some locations, the store may open an hour early to accommodate at-risk shoppers. Check with your local Trader Joe’s to confirm the exact time.)

You Can Buy a Banana for 19 Cents

Buying produce in bulk can make financial sense as long as you’re sure you’ll use up everything before it goes bad. But if you end up tossing rotten food in the trash, the savings aren’t realized. That’s why some budget-conscious grocery shoppers avoid purchasing large quantities of fruits and vegetables, even though the price per unit might be cheaper. A chance encounter between Trader Joe’s CEO and a customer at a Sun City, Calif., store confirmed this hesitation and led the grocer to start selling bananas individually.

Like most grocers, Trader Joe’s used to sell bananas only by the pound. The smallest bag you could buy contained four or five bananas. One day while visiting the Sun City location, CEO Dan Bane observed an elderly customer examine a bag of bananas, then put it back on the shelf. When the CEO asked why she didn’t buy the bag of bananas, he recalls the elderly shopper saying, “Sonny, I may not live to that fourth banana.” The next day Trader Joe’s started selling single bananas for 19 cents apiece.

Aldi Is Part of the Family

Trader Joe's was founded in 1967 in Pasadena, Calif., by entrepreneur Joe Coloumbe. It was acquired in 1979 by Aldi Nord, a German company that also operates Aldi grocery stores in Europe. Aldi Nord's sister company, Aldi Sud, operates Aldi stores in the U.S.

Despite the corporate ties, the two chains have distinct marketing strategies. Aldi is price-driven and undercuts competitors by selling cheaper private-label versions of the most popular items at traditional supermarkets, says Jon Springer, a former retail editor for Supermarket News. Trader Joe's also aims for affordability, but its driving force is uniqueness. It focuses on its own line of mostly prepackaged products in unusual flavor combinations that you won't find anywhere else.

There Are No Sales or Coupons at Trader Joe's

Most supermarket chains put select items on sale every week. But at Trader Joe's, what you see is what you get when it comes to price, says Jeanette Pavini, a household savings expert for That means you won't find any Trader Joe's deals listed in your Sunday circulars.

The grocer claims that because it already offers the lowest prices it can every day, there's no room for sales, specials or coupons. To test this claim, we compared the price of a bottle of Trader Joe’s Vegan Caesar Dressing with a similar salad dressing available at Whole Foods. Here’s what we found: At Trader Joe’s you’ll pay $3.99 for an 11-ounce bottle, while you’ll pay $5.99 for a 10-ounce bottle of Tessamae’s Organic Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing at Whole Foods -- 50% more.

8 Out of 10 Items at Trader Joe's Are Store Brands

In 1972, the grocer introduced its first private-label product: granola. Today, 80% of the products carried by Trader Joe's are store brands, a company spokesperson told Kiplinger. The grocer says the heavy emphasis on store brands helps keep costs low because it buys direct from suppliers whenever possible (no middleman markup) and then passes the savings on to its customers. It’s a common industry practice for traditional grocers to charge their suppliers fees for shelf placement, which results in higher prices for customers. Trader Joe’s says it doesn’t do it.

Health-conscious customers should know that the company claims all of its store-branded food and drinks are free of artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, synthetic colors and genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.

Trader Joe's Prices Aren't Always the Lowest

To find out whether Trader Joe's really does offer lower prices versus other stores, we did some comparison shopping. We looked at the cost of several everyday grocery items and priced them against similar items available at Aldi, Target and Walmart. Here’s what we found:

At Aldi, a 12-ounce package of their Little Salad Bar Chopped Salad Kits (available in a variety of salad combinations) costs $2.89. You’ll pay $3.99 for a 9.75-ounce bag of Trader Joe’s Lemony Arugula Basil Salad Kit. That’s an extra buck for less product. We spotted a 4-pack of Morningstar Farmers Grillers Original Frozen Veggie Burgers at Target for $4.99, while a 2-pack of Trader Joe’s Turkeyless Protein Patties costs $4.49. For an additional 50 cents, you’ll get twice the amount of veggie burgers at the big-box retailer. At Walmart, a 5-ounce can of Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spray is $2.98. You’ll pay $3.99 for the same-size can of Trader Joe’s Organic Ghee and Sunflower Oil Spray -- an extra $1.

Another thing to keep in mind, says Cindy Livesey, founder of, is that a lot of Trader Joe's produce items are prepackaged, which doesn't allow shoppers to choose how much they actually want to buy.

Trader Joe’s Products Come and Go From Shelves

It's easy to get attached to your favorite snack. Just be warned that at Trader Joe's those snacks might not be around forever. There are even social media accounts dedicated to letting shoppers know when items are slated to be pulled from shelves or are strictly seasonal items (for example, check out @traderjoestobediscontinued or @traderjoesgeek on Instagram).

Trader Joe's rationale? Because store space is limited and new products are introduced every week, items that don't catch on quickly with customers are wasting valuable real estate. Besides poor sales, Trader Joe's says a product might be discontinued if it's seasonal or if the cost of producing it increases significantly.

Trader Joe's Has a Lenient Return Policy

Trader Joe's also has a no-questions-asked return policy. If you purchase something, try it at home and decide you don’t like it, simply bring whatever you haven't eaten back to your local store for a full refund. Amid the pandemic, it’s been reported that even though store locations are still accepting returns and giving refunds, all returned products are being thrown away (including those that are unopened) as a safety precaution.

Social Distancing and Safety Practices at Trader Joe's

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Trader Joe’s was notorious for its long checkout lines -- especially when shopping during peak hours. While doing some comparison shopping at a couple Washington, D.C.-based locations, we’ve experienced wait times of as long as 25 minutes on a Saturday afternoon.

However, since the pandemic hit, the company has implemented social distancing and safety procedures to help eliminate overcrowding in-stores that used to result in packed checkout lines and long wait times. Now, Trader Joe’s limits the number of people allowed in-store at once, marks the distance between customers waiting in lines outside to enter the store and at checkout, keeps every other register open to allow for regular cleanings, and has suspended the use of reusable bags for bagging groceries at registers.

Those long lines at the cash register have been replaced by long lines outside some stores.

A Ringing Bell Means Help Is on the Way

Unlike most supermarkets that use intercoms to summon assistance, Trader Joe's has a bell system. In keeping with its kitschy maritime theme (remember the plastic lobsters?), the grocer uses actual bells located near the checkout area to signal to employees that help is needed.

One ring lets employees know that another cash register needs to be opened. Two rings mean there are additional questions that need to be answered at the checkout area. Three rings signal that a manager is needed for further assistance. While this system may be a bit odd, shoppers seem to like the chain's eccentricities. Trader Joe's was among three retailers to rank first in customer satisfaction among supermarket shoppers, according to the 2019-2020 American Customer Satisfaction Index Retail and Consumer Shipping Report.

Trader Joe's Stores Donate Unsold Food to Local Charities

While offering customers quality products is a top priority for Trader Joe's, so is giving back to the community. The grocer says that it donates 100% of products that go unsold, but remain safe for consumption. Each store has a donation coordinator who is responsible for working with local food banks and soup kitchens to arrange daily donations. The company even donates non-food items such as fresh flowers and health and beauty products still in good condition.

Last year, the grocery chain says it donated $384 million worth of products to charities across the country.

All Trader Joe's Products Go Through a Tasting Panel

Trader Joe’s takes product quality seriously. Every product the grocer sells goes through a tasting panel and must receive a 70% vote of approval before it gets the green light to hit store shelves. If the panel doesn’t like it enough, you won’t see it at Trader Joe’s. There’s no “pay to play” for product placement as is the case with most other supermarket chains, as mentioned by Trader Joe’s Sloan in an "Inside Trader Joe’s" podcast episode.

“We don’t collect slotting fees. We don’t have producers of the stuff that we sell pay for the privilege of having space,” he says. Customers who frequent Trader Joe’s can be confident that stores are stocked with products the company stands behind fully.

Snag Flowers and Greeting Cards on the Cheap at Trader Joe's

You may not think of your local grocery store as the go-to spot for deals on fresh flowers and greeting cards, but if you’re on a budget Trader Joe’s should be on your radar, says consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch. For example, the grocery chain sells small potted orchids for about $15, she notes. By comparison, similar sized potted orchid plants sell for $20 at Whole Foods. If you’re in need of a reasonably priced bouquet in a pinch, Trader Joe’s flower section is usually located near the front of the store. You’ll also find unique greeting cards situated nearby selling for as little as 99 cents, Woroch adds.

Say Goodbye to Plastic and Styrofoam Packaging at Trader Joe's

When it comes to product packaging, Trader Joe’s is making a big push for sustainability. In 2019, the grocer began replacing the plastic and styrofoam containers on items including produce, meats and greeting cards with renewable and plant-based alternatives. For example, Trader Joe’s now uses a compostable tray instead of a styrofoam version for its fruits and vegetables. Their product marketing team has worked to replace the plastic sleeves on their greeting cards with a plant-based starch version to help keep them in pristine condition. The new card sleeve is biodegradable, and shoppers can compost it at home.

Earlier this year, the grocer announced that it had removed about 6 million pounds of plastic from its product packaging. This included getting rid of plastic bags at the checkout register and replacing plastic and foil pouches on their tea packages with compostable film.

Be the First to Find Out About New Trader Joe's Products

One of the many quirks that keeps die-hard Trader Joe’s customers coming back is the unique food selection -- from dark chocolate peanut butter cups to “Everything but the Bagel” sesame seasoning. While the grocer regularly releases new products, many customers only randomly stumble upon them. Luckily, there’s a way to find out about new products that hit store shelves sooner rather than later.

Shoppers can follow the What’s New page on the grocer’s website to learn about the most recent product launches. The page gets updated several times per week. Each post lists a new product’s ingredients, explains how it made its way onto store shelves and where you can find it in-store. A few of the recent posts include walnut pesto, herbed tahini sauce and strawberry non-fat oat frozen dessert. Shoppers can check this page and add desired items to their grocery lists before their routine weekend Trader Joe’s trip, which can help cut down on impulse shopping.

Vegan, Kosher and Gluten-Free Options Abound at Trader Joe's

If you have a food allergy or adhere to a strict diet, shopping at a traditional grocery store can be problematic. Oftentimes you’ll have to make multiple trips to several stores to grab everything on your list, which can be time-consuming. Trader Joe’s aims to make that weekly chore a bit easier for shoppers with special dietary needs by offering a vast selection of kosher, vegan and gluten-free items. All are clearly labeled. Special dietary offerings include organic brown rice and quinoa spaghetti, Miyoko’s vegan butter and gluten-free cinnamon raisin bread.

Shoppers can find a robust list of kosher, vegan and gluten-free products available at Trader Joe’s on the website, as well as related recipe ideas.

No Trader Joe's Near You? Ask for One

If you're now curious about visiting a Trader Joe's only to find out that there isn't a store near you, you have some recourse. Shoppers interested in bringing a store to their area should visit the Request a TJ's in My City page on Trader Joe's website and fill out the short questionnaire.

How to claim income tax refund

Every year we all file income tax returns (ITR) but most of us are not sure about how the process of claiming income tax refund works. For the FY 2019-20, the last date of ITR filing has been extended twice - first from July 31, 2020 to November 30, 2020 and then to December 31, 2020. Therefore, you must ensure to file your ITR before December 31, 2020 to avoid penalty.

You are eligible to receive income tax refund when you have paid more tax to the government than your actual tax liability. This usually happens when the advance tax, self-assessment tax paid and/or TDS deducted of the taxpayer is higher than the total tax liability of a taxpayer.

Process to claim Income Tax Refund
A person can claim the refund of the excess tax paid/deducted during a financial year by filing his or her income tax returns for that year.

As per the Income Tax Act, a person is required to file his/her return in the relevant assessment year by July 31 (unless deadline extended) to claim the refund. The FY immediately succeeding a financial year is the relevant assessment year (AY) for that FY.

A person can file his/her return either by uploading the filled excel/java utility form or by providing the required data in the online forms (Only for those eligible to file ITR 1 or ITR 4 form).

From 2019, i.e. last year, tax department has started providing pre-filled ITRs on the online platform. The ITR form is filled with information regarding salary income, interest income (in case TDS is deducted) and other details. If you are filing ITR using Excel utility, then you can download XML file to pre-fill your ITR.

Refund claimed shows in ITR filed by you
Once you fill up the entire ITR form applicable to you and click on the validate button on the 'Taxes paid and Verification' sheet the system will auto calculate the refund due to you (as per the data entered by you) and the refund amount will show up in the 'Refund' row as shown in the picture below.

This is the refund amount claimed by you and not necessarily what is accepted and paid by the IT department. The refund amount, if any, that you will be paid will be decided by the IT department after processing your return.

Screenshot from ITR-1 for FY 2019-20

Once you file and verify your ITR the I-T department will process it and verify the genuineness of the claim made.

Remember you need to ensure that the bank account in which you wish to receive the refund amount is pre-validated. The tax department has previously announced that they will issue e-refunds to the bank accounts in which PAN is linked and is pre-validated on the e-filing website.

After processing of return, an intimation will be sent to you depending on the outcome of the processing. In most cases, intimation under section 143(1) is sent to you showing any one of the following: (a) That your tax calculation matches that of the tax department and no further tax is payable by you (b) That your calculation does not match that of the tax department and there is additional tax (called tax demand) payable by you or your refund claim is rejected or accepted partially i.e. reduce amount. (c) That your calculation matches that of the tax department and refund claim is accepted by it.

In case of e-filed returns, the intimation is sent to you via email. When this email is sent, normally an sms stating that your ITR is processed is also sent to your registered mobile number. In case the department wants more information or your case is picked up for scrutiny then a notice under a different section may be sent to you instead of under section 143(1).

In case refund due to you is accepted, the intimation also states amount of refund that is payable. The department provides the refund reference number. One can track the status of his/her refund by logging in at the income tax e-filing website and clicking on the Refund/Demand Status under the 'My Account' tab.

Alternatively, one can track the refund status by visiting

The website is very user-friendly as it requires only PAN and Assessment year information to check the status of refund.

The department has designated State Bank of India for payment of refunds either through cheque or direct credit into the taxpayer's account. It is advisable that you mention the correct bank details in your ITR form to get timely payment from the department.

The ITR has a specific row for filling in the details of the bank account to which you want refund, if any, to be credited (See picture below). Refund, if accepted as due, will normally be directly credited to the bank account you gave for this purpose in your tax return.

Interest on Refund
If refund is due to a taxpayer, section 244A states that interest shall be payable to the taxpayer/assessee subject to certain terms and conditions.

Interest on refund is payable to an assessee if the following terms and conditions are fulfilled: - If the return is filed on or before the due date of the AY relevant to the FY for which the return is filed.

Archit Gupta, founder & CEO, says that the period for the calculation of interest on refund is based on mode of tax payment:
a) Where refund is of excess payment of advance tax or TDS:
(i) if return is filed on or before due date, period shall be from April 1 of relevant assessment year to the date refund is granted OR,
(ii) where return is not filed on or before due date, the period shall be date of furnishing of return to the date of grant of refund

b)Where refund is of excess self-assessment tax paid: period shall be from the date of furnishing of return or payment of tax, whichever is later to the date on which refund is granted."

However, no interest is payable if the amount of refund is less than the 10 percent of the tax liability. Also, if the payment of refund is delayed due to any action of the deductor then such period shall be excluded from the total period for which interest payable is calculated.

One must also remember that interest received on the refund amount is taxable. The assessee is required to include the interest paid to him on the refund, in his gross total income while filing return for the financial year in which he has received it.

Interest is calculated using the simple interest method on the amount due for refund at the rate of 0.5 percent for a month or part of month or at 6% per annum.

Interest to be paid by you in case of excess refund by the department
Do you know you can be required to pay interest on any excess refund granted by the Income Tax department?

Section 234D of the Act states that if the department during regular assessment of return finds that amount of refund paid to the taxpayer is higher than the amount he is eligible for, then they can recover the same along with interest.

Regular assessment is assessment done after the initial assessment. Initial assessment is done when the return is processed for the first time. Regular assessment can be described as the scrutiny of the income tax return filed by the assessee.

The rate of interest levied by the department is same as interest on refund paid by the department i.e. 0.5 percent per month or 6 percent per annum.

The period of interest is taken from the date of grant of refund till the date of the regular assessment and is calculated using the simple interest method.

Refund pending due to incorrect details
At times it happens that you have filed your ITR with a refund claim but you haven't received it. It may be because of the following reasons:

1. Once the department has done the initial assessment of your verified ITR, it has found that no refund is payable to you. This will reflect in the notice under section 143(1) of the Income Tax Act that the tax department will send you after processing your return. Therefore, if the notice shows a refund due to you then it will be issued but if the notice shows nil refund then it means that your refund claim was not accepted as your calculations did not match those of the department's.

2. Department has processed your refund but you have not received it due to wrong bank details or cheque has not been received by you due to wrong address details.

If your refund is pending due to incorrect details provided by you, you can request the department to re-issue the same after giving the correct bank details.

You are required to sign in on the income tax e-filing website and raise the request for the same under the 'My Account' tab in the 'service request' option.

Once you have filed your ITR and verified it, regularly check the status of your return if you have made a refund claim in the return. This helps you track the processing of your ITR and refund (if any). It also helps check if you have made any mistake while filing the return.

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Editorial Reviews


&ldquoIn my former role as Executive Editor at Cooking Light magazine, I had the pleasure of working with Carolyn numerous times. Her work was always pristine&mdashthoroughly researched and insightful, breaking down complicated nutrition concepts into easy-to-understand language for our readers. Meals That Heal is, not surprisingly, no different. It clearly defines chronic inflammation, details why it&rsquos harmful and potentially detrimental to health, explains the role food plays, and empowers people to take control of their own health through better eating habits. Most importantly, as a busy mom herself, she has created easy, delicious recipes that real people can quickly make at home to improve their health. Because it&rsquos one thing to tell people about chronic inflammation it&rsquos another thing to help them reverse or prevent it through recipes they&rsquoll actually make.&rdquo &mdashAnn Taylor Pittman, food writer and recipe developer

"Award-winning author Carolyn Williams, PHD, RD, seems to have a book for almost every health problem." &mdashLas Vegas Tribune

&ldquoWith so many revitalizing activities to take part in during the summer months, the last thing we want is to feel too sick or sluggish to enjoy them. To the rescue: the new cookbook Meals that Heal from award-winning author and dietician Carolyn Williams. Look no further than these delicious, energizing, anti-inflammatory recipes. Try one tonight!&rdquo&mdashCloser Weekly

&ldquoChronic inflammation is associated with many health conditions from bloating to eczema. Award-winning dietitian Carolyn Williams&rsquo new cookbook, Meals That Heal, will guide you to foods and recipes that calm inflammation and help you reach your personal goals. The recipes, like Pork Scaloppine with White Beans and Zucchini Taco Skillet, incorporate fresh, whole ingredients that have research-demonstrated ability to cool inflammation, balance gut health and calm the body.&rdquo&mdashNational Examiner

&ldquoYou&rsquove probably heard that laughter is the best medicine. Well, eating healthily also ranks up there&mdashand that&rsquos the philosophy of Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD, and her cookbook, Meals That Heal. The recipes from it featured here&mdashincluding chicken noodle soup, stuffed tomatoes, and even chickpea-based &lsquocookie dough&rsquo bites&mdashare not only easy to make and delicious but also designed to help you start feeling healthier.&rdquo&mdashStart Healthy Magazine

&ldquoInflammation is the root cause of most ailments. In this information-packed cookbook, you&rsquoll not only learn how inflammation impacts our bodies but gain access to family-friendly anti-inflammatory recipes that are easy and intuitive to create. Adding more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet is key to better health and this book can be your go-to guide in getting started.&rdquo&mdashKiwi Magazine

&ldquoWhen we first read Meals That Heal, the new cookbook from Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD, we couldn&rsquot wait to start cooking, all the recipes sounded so delicious. Then we started reading about all their health benefits&hellip&rdquo&mdashPilates Style Magazine


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