Apr 4 2011

mom!! the ice cream truck!! [day 312]

I have really come to hate the taunting music played from the ice cream truck, getting louder as it gets closer to my house.  As soon as I hear the fain sounds of it, I know what’s next.  Mom!!!!!  The ice cream truck!!!!!!  My kids know I’m not a fan of the van filled with overpriced, well advertised sugar products, stopping to fill the air with carbon monoxide and invading my territory.  While I was away and had a sitter, they went to the truck.  My youngest, knowing I would not be happy about this, decided to make something good out of it.  He decide to get something that was in a container we could reuse, and he also talked all his friends into doing the same.

We use these little containers in our lunch bags.  I did not end here.  The next time the ice cream truck came by, I said, “No.”  After much deliberation, I decided to have some fun with this.  I let him go out and get some ice cream from the truck.  I think I freaked out my neighbors, but here’s what happened…

 

 

I haven’t checked at Kroger yet to see if they carry Popsicle Shots, but I’ll be checking today.  I’m all about people making a living in creative ways, and the ice cream truck driver is a good way to make some money.  It’s like fast food that comes to your house with dessert.  I never buy this for my kids, I make them use their own money.  If they feel good about the purchase, then I’ll go with it.  I don’t always say yes to the ice cream truck, but I don’t always say no.  Balance.  It’s all about balance.

 


Jan 29 2011

aldi vs. walmart: a shopping comparison [day 248]

You asked for it.  Here it is.  The price shopping comparison between Aldi and Walmart.  After my post on day 241, many people asked for a price comparison with Walmart, some because they love shopping there, others because they believe Walmart to have the lowest prices.  So what’s your guess on the savings?

Aldi is still a lot cheaper in comparison t0 both of the other stores.  On similar size off brand and generic items, Kroger was 52% more and Walmart was 47% more.  The savings at Walmart for these brands is not much less than a regular grocery store, neither coming close to the savings at Aldi.  On the name brands, Kroger was 113% more and Walmart was 67% more.  Here’s where the Walmart savings come in.  Name brands you’re familiar with, for much less than other places.  This whole process has made me think about my previous grocery shopping habits and has encouraged me to make some changes.  I’m going to label these a little differently.  Let’s call these stores by type.

conventional grocery storediscount grocery storesuperstore – convenience store

All of the store types have pros and cons, however making educated shopping choices for your money and well being isn’t the easiest thing to do sometimes.  Here are a few of my observations and answers to questions I had before doing this comparison: Continue reading


Jan 22 2011

a 25¢ lesson cost me hundreds [day 241]

Yes, I made a judgement call based on 25¢, a quarter I thought I would loose.  Listening to some bad advice, I decided not to try a new grocery store in my area, a store that opened over a year ago.  Some person (I don’t remember who) told me that the new Aldi grocery store charges 25¢ for the use of their carts.  What this yo-yo neglected to tell me is that you get your quarter back when you return the cart.  So instead of checking this out, like I normally would, I decided not to.  My 25¢ lesson?  Make my decisions based on my own research, not something someone says. Of course I will always take advice and opinions into consideration, but I should always see things for myself.  I do this with people, I should do it with everything.  Lesson learned, but not just one.  There were many great lessons from this experience that I would love to share.

What is Aldi? “ALDI is a discount grocery chain that operates over 1,000 stores in 31 states. Through a select assortment and convenient grocery shopping approach, we’re able to offer our customers the highest quality everyday items at the lowest possible prices—honest to goodness savings.” Read more about them and why they’re different at aldi.us.

So why the quarter for the cart? “At ALDI, we cut costs every way we can to keep prices low. Our shopping cart deposit system is a good example. You insert a quarter to release a cart. When you return the cart, you get your quarter back. This system cuts down on the labor of collecting carts left in the parking lot, damage to cars, and we pass the savings on to you.” I like this.  In addition, it keeps the carts from hitting the cars in the parking lot and the carts seem to be in better condition.

I decided to shop there a few days ago.  It was the closest store and I just needed 2 items.  After the great experience, I decided to go back.  This time was to shop in efforts to try some of the different brands, buying one or two of each thing we normally purchase.  After seeing first hand, the incredible savings, I decided to do a cost analysis.

Last night, my kids and I went to our local grocery store to compare prices.  It was nice to get out of the house and I forgot my phone, which was nice, as my kids and I had fun doing this.  Who would have thought?  Here’s the results.

Aldi price: $65.40

This is pre-tax.  There was only one thing that was a name brand I usually buy, Amy’s vegetarian meals.  All of the other things were Aldi or generic brands.

Name brand price: $139.51

I priced the name brand items that were comparable in size and type to get this number.  The name brands cost 113% more than the Aldi brands.  Whoa!  that got my attention!

Off brand price: $99.33

To get this number, I used the same criteria as above, but with generic  or off brand items.  There were a few things that didn’t have generic brands, so the brand name item price was inserted.  Shopping at the major grocery store for off brands cost 52% more than Aldi.  Again, wow!

I’m sure you have some of the same questions I did before going in here, so I will address them now.  I had some very unexpected shopping results, that were much more than just saving money.  I also got me thinking about my shopping habits and how I have some room for growth.  Continue reading


Jan 5 2011

what retailers should you support? [day 222]

I found myself being irritated at the grocery store, stirring over the little yellow tags again.  (day 160… trained shopping monkeys)  Upon a very deliberate observation, I would guess 60% or more of the little yellow tags are ‘low price‘ tags and not ‘sale‘ tags.  How am I supposed to grocery shop for the best prices?  My kids have been yellow-tag-trained too, as they shop thinking anything with a yellow tag is one sale.  Isn’t marketing wonderful?

Even with the irritation, I have found a few retailers that are doing some really good things.  Competition is fierce and I think all retailers succumb to the manipulative marketing at some point or another.  Here’s a few retail stores I would support, you know, if I could shop.  😉  This is not a comprehensive list, just a few I’ve run into lately.

Lowe’s hardware store. Of any shopping I might miss, I do miss my home improvement / hardware stores.  I’m going to be a little generic here since I’m not sure how public this information is, as some companies do things under the radar to stay out of the corporate ball of red tape.  Lowe’s has not only donated the materials, but also the labor to add restrooms, showers and laundry facilities to a local homeless shelter.  Not only that, but finishing off the rooms, painting, and many other details too numerous to mention.  Need some screws?  Go to Lowe’s.

Again, probably under the radar, but not sure, Market Street grocery store donates a lot of leftover foods to shelters in the area.  There’s a lot of stores putting perfectly good food in dumpsters, but not MS.  Shopping at Market Street is a treat, as it’s a little on the pricey side for my shopping habits, however they carry foods you can’t find anywhere else.  Their cafe is also a great deal for lunch or dinner, as the prices are good, portions are big and the food is great.

Yes, Kroger.  Even though I’m not so happy about their little yellow tags, they still do good things for the community.  On day 55, I blogged about how Kroger gives away $1 million dollars a year to organizations that help people in need.  All you have to do is print their little bar code and have it scanned when you shop to support organizations in your area.

I don’t know the motivation of any of these stores, but I do know when I choose where to shop, I want to know I’m not just making some fat pockets for a few executives that don’t need more money.  I want to support businesses that strengthen the community, minimize waste, treat their employees well and participate in the good of people.  :)


Nov 3 2010

trained shopping monkey… yellow [day 160]

Trained shopping monkeys. I went grocery shopping last night.  After reading the statistics about how Americans throw away almost half of the food they purchase, either by the food going bad before they cook it or plate leftovers, I was trying to be more conscious about my grocery shopping habits.  I don’t like grocery shopping, and add two griping boys to it, and I really don’t like it.  I was thinking I need to be more intentional about planning meals and making more frequent, smaller runs to the store.  Kroger is almost walking distance from my house, so it shouldn’t be a big deal.

When I got home, I cleaned out the pantry, fridge and freezer.  I did have to throw away some bad food.  It really bothered me.  I bought things I could freeze and fresh stuff in smaller quantities.  We’ll see how that plays out.

I also realized that Kroger has been training me on how to shop.  I like Kroger, but this made me a little sad.  I always look for the little yellow sale tags.  I like to get a deal and I don’t really want to pay full price.  I shop by price instead of brands.  Sometimes I look to see what my savings is over the full price and last night, I got a surprise.  The yellow tags are now in more places, but not with sale prices, but instead showing their everyday low price.  No sale here, just a highly visible price tag that looks like a sale price.  Yes, I’m a trained shopping monkey.  Yellow…

Helpful shopping tips I learned last night:

  • Budget. Know how much you’re willing to spend on groceries and shop within your budget.  If you bring cash instead of a debit card, you will have to stay within your budget.
  • Read the fine print. Look to see what your savings are.  I have seen items that say “on sale” and they have knocked off 1 penny.  Seriously?
  • You determine the deal. If you think it’s a good deal, then buy it.  If not, don’t.
  • Branch out. Be willing to try new brands or generic store brands.  Sometimes the product is just as good, and sometimes even made by the same company.
  • Duct tape.  Put duct tape on your kids so they can’t complain, fight and run around like wild banshees.  Okay, I’m kidding, but it does make you just throw stuff in the cart and hurry out when you have your restless kids with you.  For some of us, it’s not an option to leave them at home.  If you have that option, just do it.

Sep 13 2010

it's not bubble wrap [day 110]

I had to pick up a few things at Kroger yesterday.  It was enough groceries to warrant the use of a cart, but few enough to use the express lane.  Most of the time I remember to bring in my green bags, and this time was no exception.  Some of the items included two gallons of milk and two bottles of wine.  As I was checking out, the girl asked if I wanted my milk in a bag.  I said yes because two fit nicely in the green bags and it makes them easier to carry.  I like that they ask though.

Then we get to the wine.  She asks if I’m old enough, and I tell her yes, more than twice over.  She might have been new, but she looked a little confused about how to bag the wine so they wouldn’t break.  She wraps the first one in a plastic bag, tying it in knots that will never come out.  (A)  If I have green bags, I’m probably using them to avoid plastic.  (B) A plastic bag is not going to protect that wine bottles from breaking.

I always bring more green bags than I’ll need, so I had enough to used them to wrap the wine bottles and pad the bottom of the bag.  She was really nice, maybe new, and you’ll be happy to know I didn’t lecture her or give her the link to my blog.  😉


Jul 22 2010

grocery store gives $1 million [day 55]

Grocery shopping is the only shopping I’ve done lately, and really the only shopping I’ve had any desire for.   I went to Sprouts last night, as I have a few select things I like to get there.  Tuna steaks and kabobs mostly.  Their seafood is not smelly.  😉  Also, they give a $.05 credit for each green bag you use and they replaced my broken freezer bag for free.

I mostly shop at Kroger now, as it’s reasonably priced and almost walking distance from my house.  Here’s another good reason to shop there.  Kroger donates a lot of money to food pantries through their Neighbor to Neighbor program.  Our local funds go to Frisco Family services.  Here’s a link to the form, all you have to do is print it and have them scan it every time you shop there.

http://www.friscocenter.org/clientuploads/FFS_Kroger_Letter.pdf

If you’re not in the Frisco area, there’s a URL to Kroger’s site on here to find the participating Kroger’s in your area.  This is great, as they will donate $1 million dollars annually.  Also, their Plus card give great gas discounts.

I just started this, is there anyone out there already doing this?  Are there any similar programs in other stores?  If so, please share them!  :)