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:

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

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

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.