Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Costco Haul Vlog - February 2017 - (PLUS a look at our overboard grocery spending)

Yet another big grocery trip - we spent almost $300, PHEW! But we hadn't been to Costco in a full month, and it was time. Here's my vlog of my Costco haul:


For $300, we bought lots of snacks, a bunch of fresh fruit and veggies, some frozen stuff, some pantry items (my kid is set for mac and cheese for at least a month, if not more), and some health and beauty items (I'm particularly excited to see if the Kirkland contact lens solution is acceptable - which I suspect it is - because that will save me quite a bit of money over Target's house brand). The video has details AND prices, so please watch.

According to Mint, we definitely went a bit overboard with grocery shopping in February, and I'm trying to figure out exactly how we went off the rails. We started off the month with a big trip to Trader Joe's, and that certainly didn't help. This was also the month I discovered Aldi and my pantry shows it - I think that my spending at Aldi will come down as I get used to it (and I also bought a $20 steam cleaner there). There was a trip to Whole Foods, but that was primarily vitamins, and another trip to Rainbow Natural Foods, but that was mostly for household items.

What really got us, of all things, were quick little trips to Kroger - we made ELEVEN trips to Kroger in February, and that includes me going for a short walk and spending $3-$8 in a trip, but it adds up for sure. I also bought food to bring to work, which is new - frozen meals and snacks to keep me away from restaurants, food delivery, and vending machines.

We didn't go to YDFM at all in February because I'm the one who usually goes but instead I was at work and my husband was busy and didn't have time. I think we need to do more YDFM and less Kroger though.

I used all the rebate apps, but most of that cash still hasn't come in yet because of cash-out thresholds. Still, that saved us or will eventually save us money. (I really like Mobisave because it's an instant cash out - even if it's just 10 cents.)

I want to keep our spending for our family of three to about $100-$150/week, and we busted that, but I guess what I'm writing around is that some of our spending at grocery stores wasn't food, and I probably should figure out if our grocery budget means "all spending at any grocery store" or "food only."

In any case, we had a lot of fun at Costco and hopefully we're set for groceries for a while to come.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Second Aldi Haul for February 2017 with VLOG!

This time I had my wits about me to actually vlog my Aldi haul unlike last week...


A friend and I went back to the new one that's a little further away but...NEW! Plus they still have the $5/$30 coupons (and while I brought one with me, the cashier had one that she was just scanning for everyone, which is super nice).

This time I tried to be a little more discerning and not buy All The Things but...I still did, a little. I definitely got more snacky stuff but also things to bring to work.

I'm planning a Costco run on Tuesday (first of the month) so that also kept me from buying too much.

Disappointment: They didn't have the goat cheese and spinach frozen pizza that we bought A WEEK AGO and LOVED. Also the noodle bowls turned out to be a limited item so I bought five (basically what was left) and will plan to hoard them if they ever show up again in the future.

Frustration: Figuring out the coffee. They do have organic/single source/whole bean, but I still wasn't familiar with the options. It's a little more expensive (barely) than Costco but I was going to buy it because now that I have my new job I don't brew coffee at home as often so don't need two pounds. But in the end, the Costco concept won and I will just buy two pounds of whole bean and freeze some of it.

Total spent (after $5/$30 coupon) - $45.

I really like Aldi now. I still think that other stores can beat Aldi on certain items, but for an everyday shopping trip, it's fantastic.

That said, I also went to Kroger afterward - Kroger's cage free eggs are cheaper than Aldi's cage free eggs (Costco beats all but I haven't yet been able to be comfortable buying so many at once). I also bought Sargento Breaks that were on sale (yep, I could've made my own Sargento Breaks but...sale, plus they had the sweet ones....) and picked up some freebies from either Kroger's Friday Free Coupon deal or a Best Customer deal - free pretzel crisps, Chobani Flip (plus I had a digital coupon, plus Ibotta - I bought four.....), and Cambpell's YES! soup (only one variety was truly vegetarian - even the tomato soup had chicken in it, boo). Also avocados (had a 75 cents/2 coupon). And a frozen meal (Mobisave!). (I used Ibotta, Mobisave, AND Checkout51). I only spent about $30 there. Not bad at all.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Aldi Haul (but no vlog) - OMG I GET IT NOW - February 2017

So as you know from a previous blog post and vlog, I finally went back to Aldi for the first time in eons and was...moderately impressed. It was OK. It was fine. The store itself was a bit small and crowded, and I didn't see an extraordinarily grand number of healthy/organic items. But my friend Jen and I agreed that the store that was about to open a few miles away might have a better selection, and we made a plan to go check it out.

(By the way, the store is called Aldi. Not Aldis or Aldi's. ALDI. THERE IS NO S. Thanks.)

That store, in Tucker, GA, just opened a few days ago, and today we went over. The store was, as new stores are, shiny and clean, but it was also BIGGER than the closer store and it definitely had a wider selection of organic produce and other items. It also seemed like things that were out of stock at the closer Aldi were plentiful at the new store.

And so I shopped. And shopped. And shopped.

I couldn't find the energy to make a haul video, and my husband wanted to put everything away, but I snapped some pictures and will tell you about the things I bought in this Aldi haul. In short: I'm now impressed and I can see an Aldi-Costco-Kroger-YDFM synchronicity building.


Two jars of fancy salsa (one mango peach, one black bean and corn) - $1.99 each
Unsalted almonds - $4.99 for 14 oz.
Two jars of Indian simmer sauce - Jalfrezi and Tikka Masala (my husband was VERY excited about these) - $1.99 each
String cheese (not sure if this is an amazing price and I think the Costco price is better but we are out and won't likely get back to Costco for another two weeks - 12 sticks for $2.79 **This is a 10 oz. package for $2.79, and Trader Joe's is 12 oz. for $2.99....
And "Caramel Coconut Fudge Cookies" that look quite similar to a certain cookie sold by a certain organized group (I will make a donation or something) - $1.79 and I hope they're as delicious


The Fit & Active 100 calorie snack packs of cookies and the Fiber Now bars (also easily comparable to identical name-brand packaged foods like these) I got to keep at my desk at my NEW JOB HOORAY! to keep me away from the vending machines (and the donuts that apparently appear from time to time) - $2.19 for the cookies, $1.49 for the bars
The two noodle bowls, both happily marked "VEGAN" so I didn't have to squint at the ingredients, are also for work - $1.69 each, which is an unbeatable price compared to Annie Chun's, which are a dollar more at Kroger. If these are good I'll probably stock up (though I think they might be a limited time thing....which is a side of Aldi I'm not as much of a fan of).
And the organic "Intercontinental Super Grains" was an impulse buy - $2.49, which probably is a decent-but-not-amazing price but it looked good and I bought it so there. I was impressed that Aldi carries this type of thing.


Booze! My husband got a Winking Owl Shiraz for $2.89. I submitted the receipt to BevRage under "any red wine" and got a dollar back! (You can download the BevRage app at your favorite app store but then please use my referral code and we'll both get $2! Code: TWVQMIJU  ) I got this "Wicked Grove" hard cider six pack for $6.49. Even on sale, cider at Kroger hovers around $7.50, so this was another good deal.


This is an example of NOT A GOOD DEAL and also READ THE LABELS ALWAYS and COSTCO WINS. These packages look identical, no? Rice rollers, hooray! The one on the left - Bamboo Lane - is from Costco and is clearly marked "vegan." The one on the right - Fusia - is from Aldi. Fusia rice rollers are only $1.29 per package....but they have gelatin, which I don't eat. The four-pack at Costco is $6.99, so SLIGHTLY more per package, but I can't eat the cheaper ones at Aldi anyway so the choice is kind of obvious. My husband is eating them instead. Not a terrible mistake for a buck. Now I know.


My fun splurge - I saw this Easy Home handheld steam cleaner in the Aldi circular last week and was happy to see that it was still available (the store had plenty of them - they also had a garment steamer that I kind of wish I'd bought too). I've already tested it out and it works well. It has a bit of a plastic smell that I hope dissipates, but the steam was powerful and it cleaned my sink relatively well. Nothing miraculous, but it was only $20 and I kept my expectations low.

What else did I buy? Not pictured:

FROZEN AND PACKAGED FOOD:
Unsweetened almond milk (refrigerated) - $1.99 (I rarely see the name brands for under $2.50 but can probably hit this price with a coupon/sale on occasion. For comparison, Trader Joe's has it for $2.99, and it's on sale this week at Kroger for $2.49 but that's part of a larger buy-six-get-$6 sale.)
A quart of organic unsweetened whole milk yogurt that looks identical to Stonyfield for $2.99
A box of whole grain waffles for $1.29 (Kroger has frozen waffles on sale sometimes 10/$10 but I'm not sure if they're whole grain or not, I'll have to check)
A box of "Moo Tubes" which are basically Go-Gurt....which I HATE BUYING but these had reasonable ingredients and no food dyes, and my kid loves them frozen, and, again, I think they're a better price at Costco (Costco definitely has a slightly healthier version) but at $1.79 for an eight pack I gave in. (*I checked - these are slightly cheaper than the Yoplait brand available at Costco but only by a few cents per pouch, and I still like the ingredient list of the Yoplait version better.)
A frozen spinach and goat cheese pizza that was more appealing to my husband than the larger take-and-bake cheese pizza for $3.49
A bag of frozen edamame for $1.69
Three boxes of "fruit squeezies" that are basically Gogo Squeez for $1.89 for four. Kirkland applesauce pouches are cheaper by a few cents per pouch, but these had different flavors (apple peach and...two others, I forget). Another "tide us over until we can get to Costco" purchase.
Cheese crackers (Cheezits) that my husband haaaad to haaaaave for $1.59
Two cans of cannelini beans for 65 cents each
A bottle of organic salad dressing (chipotle ranch) for $1.99
A bottle of Catalina dressing for $1.29
Organic honey for $3.49
A can of mixed nuts that my kid haaas to haaaaave for $2.79 (better price than anywhere else even if it's a ridiculously overpriced item *cough*)
The same pea crisps that I bought last time in the video for $1.39

BREAD
Basic boring whole wheat bread for $1.39
Sourdough square bread for $2.99 (YDFM's sourdough isn't THAT much more expensive and WAY BETTER but we're out of bread so.)

PRODUCE (I still have to figure out if YDFM beats these prices - I think it may):
A bag of Cara Cara oranges for $3.49
A bag of sweet potatoes for $1.79
A bag of organic baby carrots for $1.49
A four-pack of zucchini (out of season but SO GOOD for spiralizing) for $1.99
Two avocados for 99 cents each (eh - they're big ones but still....)
A package of three green peppers (yuck I hate green peppers) for 99 cents
A 2 pound bag of sweet onions for $1.49

HOUSEHOLD
A three pack of scrubbing sponges (like Scotch Brite) for $1.29
A box of 40 storage bags (quart size) for $1.99

AND FINALLY....a cat scratcher that my cats are currently ignoring after sniffing at it briefly because cats for $4.99

And the saddest tale of woe - I was sure I bought their Laughing Cow knockoff (pepper jack!) but it was not anywhere to be found and it's not on my receipt either so I guess I either put it back or the cashier didn't scan it.

But the best part was that because the store is new, they had coupons for $5 off a $30 purchase and a) the cashiers were scanning them for everyone even if we didn't have the physical coupon (because we didn't) and b) my cashier went "oh, you can break up your transactions" so I did two transactions and thus saved $10! (I could've saved $50 but she realized she could break things up when I hit $60 on the first one, oh well. STILL!)

And so in the end I spent about $110 total for EVERYTHING (about $90 on food).

I'm impressed and excited and definitely am going to be shopping at Aldi again and again and again. Not Aldi's. Not Aldis. ALDI. WITHOUT AN S.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Your Dekalb Farmers Market (YDFM) Haul - The Produce Prices Are Unbeatable - Vlog!

Damn, that post header sounds like a commercial....

Basically, I got really caught up in the wide world of major grocery stores. Costco! Aldi! Kroger! Whole Foods! (Side note: I had a terrible awful no good cashier experience at a local WF, and the team responded by offering me a $25 gift card, but I'm rarely at that store so I haven't picked it up yet. When I do, perhaps THAT will be a video....)

Yesterday my husband said he wanted to run to YDFM (which longtime blog readers know is actually our number one grocery store of choice - for a long time it was our ONLY store, with short trips to Kroger for fill-in items) and I hadn't been in a few weeks so I went along - and I fell in love all over again, which happens EVERY TIME I skip going for a few weeks and then return.

I made a haul video because I thought that since the store's policy of no video inside was so strict, I'd be one of the few who did so. I was wrong - there are various videos on YouTube if you dig around, including videos inside the store. I don't know how they got away with it, but they did. I didn't do that - my video is after we got home, showing what I bought.


In brief, when I shop at YDFM I buy almost NO processed items (not zero but not much). I buy largely organic items. The produce prices are, as I say in my commercial-sounding header, basically unbeatable. Organic apples are, at least right now (prices fluctuate with the market), about $1/pound less than what I have been paying at Costco (which I never should've even done but I swear the first time I bought Costco organic apples the price WAS less than YDFM that week) and also I can pick and choose my own fruit vs. buying a big plastic container. The dried mango (I show this in the video) is half the price of what I paid at Aldi and tastes better and fresher.

Stop here and watch the video - the rest of this post is just my random thoughts and you can totally skip that. (If you do watch the video, hop over to YouTube and give it a Like would ya? Or even SUBSCRIBE OOOOOOH.)

Rambling thoughts about my recent grocery travels vs. YDFM

The tempeh? With a coupon and sale, that's cheaper at Kroger, but it's one of those "we're here already, just grab it" foods.
YDFM doesn't sell certain food my family likes to eat that I have to get elsewhere.
YDFM also only has food and sometimes it's easier to go to Kroger/Costco/Target and get not only food but also household items.
Right now Aldi has an unbeatable price on almond milk, for example (even with coupon, sale combo). Aldi also is likely the winner in snack food (though YDFM has some higher end items). But YDFM seemed to beat Aldi on fancy stuffed olives (in the video I show plain kalamata olives - unbeatable price for those for sure).
Costco's giant-ass blocks of cheese beat everyone else - but they're nothing special and certainly aren't organic. Both YDFM and our local Kroger (which has an entire special fancy cheese section) can probably beat Costco if I want something different....at least in a more reasonable size.

It takes time, energy, and gas to go to 5 different stores to save money. I could drive myself crazy trying to catch all the sales. I've started ignoring the Target sales. I've been also skipping some of the buy-X-things-save-$Y sales at Kroger even though they often include freebies or super-cheap things because I just don't have the brain space for that right now.

Also we don't go to Publix at all anymore and that used to be our main store - but there's a rumor I'm getting a Publix in WALKING DISTANCE of my house (right now I can walk to a tiny Kroger that has recently upped its game in the organic/healthy aisles). A Sprouts is opening in about 2 months that's around the corner, and soon after that we're getting a nearby Whole Foods 365 (supposedly a competitor to Trader Joe's). Oh speaking of TJs, as I'd hoped, most of these other stores have finally taken over my desire to go there. I simply cannot be good in TJs - but we do need a few specific things there soon (like the cereal bars my kid loves - no other store has an option that is both tasty and priced well).

This is all stream of consciousness rambling and if you made it this far, I congratulate you. I hope you liked my vlog and grocery haul!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Checking out Aldi for the first time - Vlog of my haul

WHY do I like to both watch and make haul videos of groceries?

Why do any of us do it?

I guess it's because I like to see what's available, what the prices are, what people are buying (I'm nosy!), and what I might buy on my own next trip.



Anyway, I finally went to Aldi with a friend of mine to see if it was as amazing in person as it seemed to be in haul videos and from what several friends had told me. Aldi seems to inspire a LOT of gushy love. Above, you can find my vlog about what I bought.

My overall impression? It's OK. My friend and I (the "we" I'll refer to in this post) did go to a smaller store this time, but we made plans to see if the brand new store (opening in a few weeks) has a better selection of organic/healthy type items. The store we were at was also....not the cleanest? For example, I found organic salad dressing in glass bottles that seemed to be a good price for a quality product - but several of the bottles had drips on them. I didn't buy it.

I also felt the same way about a lot of the items that I felt when I went a few years ago - still a lot of processed food (and I'm not AGAINST processed food but I do try to watch out for certain ingredients). Not a lot of vegetarian options (could be the store? for example, the take and bake pizzas were all very meaty....but maybe a different store catering to a different clientele would have veg versions?). No tofu. No whole wheat pasta. Basically for my family, Aldi could never be our main store. Costco comes closer to that when we combine it with YDFM and Kroger.

HOWEVER, what I bought was all really impressive to me, price-wise. That almond milk is SO cheap and if it's good, I'll gladly switch to it. The "premium ice cream" that's clearly a Ben & Jerry's copycat was half the price of B&J. The plastic bags beat Target's everyday price (I just hope they're good quality). And of course if you watch the video you'll hear just how happy I was about the Zulka. I didn't buy whole bean coffee because I'd just bought a bag at Costco, but the price was comparable and it was fair trade (and maybe even organic? I can't remember) so if I didn't want to buy two pounds at a time, I'd probably switch.

But the "organic" (faux-Annie's) mac and cheese that my kid lives on? Cheaper at Kroger and Costco. The baking soda - I think that's the same price at Kroger. I think the cheap mustard is the same price at Kroger too. I'm not sure if the pea crisps or the dried mango were particularly good prices - I kind of got overwhelmed in those sections and just...bought them. (The kid LOVED the pea crisps though. And she's picky.) Kroger and Trader Joe's both have $3 wine. (Sidenote: Aldi prosecco costs the same as Costco prosecco - $6.99 - and I couldn't tell the difference - my friend bought Aldi, I bought Kirkland, and we had a taste test.) And the plastic bags are probably the same price as Target when Target has a sale plus Cartwheel (which is often).

What I'm saying is that Aldi has potential for me. If I didn't have a Costco membership, it would definitely rank higher for me (and it is closer to where I live). If I didn't want to fuss with coupons and sales, it also would be more appealing - but I LOVE fussing with coupons and sales, and I can do really well at Kroger by doing so.

Stay tuned. In a few weeks we'll check out the new store and I'll let you know if that changed my mind at all.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Second Costco Haul of January 2017 (Vlog)

So....I made a really crappy haul video!



The story is that I made the first half with my phone in my typical dorky way and then put everything from that half away so it wouldn't melt/go bad.

Then I started making the second half and...my phone ran out of room.
I deleted stuff and tried again.
Ran out of room.
Deleted...ran out.
Then I sent a bunch of stuff to Dropbox to clear off more room, and it was taking FOREVER so I pulled out my DSLR and made the second half.
That ALSO took....many tries.
Finally I got a full take that I thought was good enough to post and I did.

We spent $300, yikes.
But $100 of that was air filters, a bathing suit, Breathe Right strips, and *cough* Prosecco.

The rest was groceries both to eat now and to bring to lunch at my NEW JOB HOORAY! Nope. The best laid plans. No job for now. But hey, food.

Enjoy this blurry, shaky video as best you can!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

First Thrifting Haul of 2017!

I first tried to vlog this haul.

That did not go well. It was hard to see the clothes and I rambled way too much. I'm just going to do it the regular way, OK?

The details - I went to my favorite doggie-kitty store. I didn't get an itemized receipt but I paid about $17.50 for everything you see below. I only bought things for me and not the kid (I hesitated and considered a really nice Hanna piece but she has some Hanna outfits she got for the holidays that she hasn't even tried on yet so I left it). I was looking for "professional" type clothing to wear to a new job I'm about to start (yay!). And my favorite piece that I found is at the end...

Plain black Gap long-sleeved cotton shirt. Because I can never have too many of these.

Plain black button down shirt from Dress Barn. No gapping in the buttons! It fit well and I thought it would make me look work appropriate.

A surprise- this is Daisy Fuentes (is that Kohls?) and it's really really cute on. It's soft and comfy but not t-shirty. Yes that's a word.
Sarah Jessica Parker "Bitten" jacket! I grabbed this at the last minute and I really like how it fits. I think it will fancy up a plain t-shirt. I also sort of think it goes with the gray pants (below).

All work and no play make me a dull lady. Of COURSE I bought this Hello Kitty t-shirt.

Dress pants from the Gap. One thing I liked a lot about these is that they aren't as aggressively wide-legged as it seems a lot of dress pants are nowadays. I feel lost and elephanty if the legs are too wide.

Hard to take a picture of this, and Photoshop was no help in fixing it, but it's a black A-line skirt that reminds me of another one that I already own (but this one is longer and thus work appropriate, I think).

Last and FAVORITE find. A BODEN cardigan! The thrift store has a habit of marking up clothing they think is "fancy" or "valuable." Sometimes it's very silly, and they apparently don't know about Boden. It fits so nicely and it's so cute (though it needs a good wash - the sleeves are a bit limp right now). YAY!

BODEN FTW!