Some shopping successes

Mossimo Supply Co. Printed Skinny Pant and Puma Caroline wedge

Classy little girl dresses for $4, man repeller fail, and clown shoes . . . .

 

1. I was thrilled to find these at Wally World the other day.  They rang up at four bucks–four bucks!!–at my local store.  They’re $5 something online.  The cute prints are quickly being sold out online, but there are some sizes left in this print.  And it’s worth a check at your local store.

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Faded Glory Girls’ Elbow Length Sleeve Dress

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It’s what all the cool kids are wearing.

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2. After another stressful Monday, I took a solitary evening prowl through the Target clearance rack.  I found these, which what I thought were a prime example of a man repeller.  (They were $10 at my store; very thin material but they had me at “elastic waist.”)

Mossimo Supply Co. Printed Skinny Pant and Puma Caroline wedge

I wear them today and Pat says, “Wow!  Great pants!”  Curses!  Foiled again.

3. I like them with my Puma Caroline wedge sneakers.  (Order a full size up.)  The more restrained color options were sold out in my size.  I’ll probably look back at this year as the year I wore clown bowling shoes, but for now I don’t care.

4. Hmm, that’s about it.  No, no wait!  I bought a can opener at Williams Sonoma and it’s the bomb.  Just a basic, standard, non-fancy can opener.  It’s $10 but made in the USA and worth every penny.  Beat the pants off the $3 Walmart store brand model I bought that lasted about two uses.

5. Check back with Jenna for more of this week’s Favorites!

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Shopping for the Perfect Health Diet at Walmart

The Results Are In.

English: Walmart Home Office, the headquarters...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Our total grocery spending for September was $1078.  (This includes diapers, paper products, cleaning supplies, and over-the-counter medications.)   I made all of our main, weekly grocery shopping trips at Walmart
  • This is a slight increase from our August total of $1059, when I did the bulk of our shopping at Aldi.
  • Factoring in the $22.40 required for gasoline to shop at Aldi that month, however, the total was $1081, which means . . . .

My grocery costs were basically the same at Aldi as at Walmart.

  • Our 12-month average before I started this experiment was $1188.  Wal-mart always has been my primary grocery store in theory, but I had slipped into shopping more and more at the closer, more expensive “regular” grocery store.

Shopping at Aldi and Walmart resulted in a net savings of $107-110 per month, or about 9% of our average monthly grocery expenditure.  

  • During both months, we made smaller trips to other stores as needed.  In August, these smaller trips added up to a full 50% of our grocery bill.  I attribute this to Aldi having a smaller selection.  In September, our smaller trips to other stores were only 20% of the total.

My spreadsheet has prices for various items at Walmart, Aldi, and our local grocery store (Martin’s).   You can see it here: grocery price spreadsheet.

Advantages of shopping at Walmart:

  • It is in near to our house,
  • It has low prices, and
  • It has everything.

Disadvantages of shopping at Walmart:

  • It has everything.  I can’t seem to walk out of Wally World without spending $230.  Why $230?  I don’t know, but the total is usually $230-something.  Our non-grocery household expenditures were $250 more the month I shopped at Walmart than when I shopped at Aldi.  Coincidence?  Probably not.  But there are so many other factors involved here that I’m not including this in my analysis now.
  • Okay, it doesn’t have everything.  I still have to go to other stores for items like rice syrup.
  • Also . . . I hate it.

Man, I really hate shopping at Walmart.  It’s huge.  It’s ugly.  It’s depressing.  I know I’m being classist here, but the general population there . . . you know . . . .  (As Pat put it, “We always see people we know at Target, but we don’t see as many people we know at Walmart.”  Yeah.)

Sometimes we went together as a family on the weekend.  This works, but Walmart is such a crowded, depressing place to be on the weekend.  It’s not so bad on weekday mornings, but that entails my taking the girls on my own.  That never, ever ends well.  And Walmart at night, after the girls are in bed, is a very scary place.

But a slightly more pleasant grocery shopping experience is not worth $1300 a year to me.

My plan going forward: Regular weekly trips to Walmart, plus one monthly trip to Aldi for items like maple syrup, frozen blueberries, and cheese, that consistently are cheaper at Aldi.  I’ll also try to make a monthly trip to the nearest grocery outlet (over 30 minutes away).  It has great prices but its selection varies widely.

What about you: where do you do your grocery shopping?  And if you follow a whole foods/ paleo/ GAPS/ Perfect Health Diet type of diet, how do you keep costs down?

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Can You Shop for the Perfect Health Diet at Aldi? Yes, but . . .

**Update: I get a number of hits on this post from people searching for whether Aldi has coconut oil.  As of November 8, 2014, the answer is now yes!  They have a 14 oz. jar of unrefined coconut oil (“Simply Nature” store brand) for $7, as I recall.  It was near the baking ingredients and cooking oil.****

 

I made my four main weekly grocery shopping trips at Aldi last month, hoping to lower our grocery spending.  Here’s the lowdown:

  • Our total grocery spending for August was $1058.72;
  • Our 12-month average before last month was $1188.32 (I had miscalculated this slightly in my earlier post);
  • I spent about $22.40 more in gas, as Aldi is a ways away from our house;  therefore we achieved a

Net Savings of $107.20, or 9% of our average monthly grocery expenditure.  

This is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s less than I had hoped.

The disadvantages of shopping at Aldi were

  1. The distance (not an issue for everyone, obviously),
  2. The self-bagging system: I find this especially burdensome when I have the kids in tow, and
  3. The limited selection: I still had to make trips to other stores to get things like coconut oil, coconut milk, dish soap, unsweetened almond milk, and all-natural peanut butter.
It takes all my moral courage plus a bag of chocolate pretzels to get through a grocery trip with this one.    And then I have to bag my own groceries???

It takes all my moral fortitude plus a bag of chocolate pretzels to get through a grocery trip with this one.  And then I have to bag my own groceries???

The advantages of shopping at Aldi are

  1. The limited selection: this has an upside.  I made do without some items or buying less expensive alternatives.  For instance, Aldi doesn’t have jasmine rice  (they had it when I went on Nov. 8, 2014), so I settled for less-expensive regular rice.  Aldi only has artichoke hearts in cans.  I prefer buying them in glass jars, which is more expensive, but I made do with the cans.  Etc.
  2. The price.  Obviously.   Aldi beats out the other stores for almost every item on my list (you can see my slightly updated grocery price spreadsheet).  I was tickled to find a good price at Aldi for real maple syrup:

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It’s sooo much better tasting and better for you than the fake stuff.  It isn’t Perfect Health Diet compliant, as far as I know, but I use it in small amounts for this recipe, a favorite of ours:

Man-Pleasing Chicken (woman-pleasing too!)

and for occasional treats like this:

For September I plan to make our weekly grocery shopping trips at Walmart, which is much closer to me.  Its prices are higher than Aldi but only marginally so.  I am hopeful that price difference will be cancelled out by the savings on gasoline.  We shall see . . . .

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Can You Shop for the Perfect Health Diet at Aldi? {Menu Plan Monday}

I mentioned a few weeks ago that our grocery spending has been wickety wack lately.  As in, averaging $1,119.50 per month for two adults and two small children.  (The amount includes diapers, paper products, household cleaning supplies and the like.)

So, for the month of August I’ve resolved to do our weekly grocery trip at Aldi, instead of the local grocery store, to see if it makes a difference.

I’ve done a price comparison chart you can see here if you’re interested.*  Aldi wins on paper, but we’ll see how it shakes out in real life.

Aldi and I have an uneasy relationship:

  • It’s about 25 minutes away, and I have to subtract about $7/trip from any cost savings.
  • Also, you have to bag your own groceries. . . . There was that time I bagged in a hurry because Girl 1 was pitching a fit.  I got home and dropped an over-stuffed bag of pasta sauce in the carport, sending tomato sauce and tiny shards of glass everywhere.
  • Then there was the time sensorily-sensitive Girl 1 held her hands over her ears for the first 15 minutes or so, sobbing pitifully that her arms hurt and she was scared, because of the buzzer that occasionally goes off near the dairy section.
  • Another time I was so exhausted after a trip that I gave Girl 1 a whole bag of dried apricots to eat on the way home.  And she did . . . too many of them . . . and had an unfortunate accident later on . . . at the library . . . in the middle of the kids section . . . in full view of several other families.  Fortunately, she’s still a bit young to get embarrassed easily.  I sent flowers to the poor librarian who had to clean up.
  • And just last week I got cocky and, despite prior mishaps, took both girls with me again.  Only about 10 minutes into the trip, Girl 2  tired of reaching behind her into the cart and throwing groceries onto the floor, stood up in the front set of the cart despite the buckle, and threatened a terrible tantrum.  I let her and Girl 1 run loose and throw grapefruit at each other while I aborted the mission, checked out with only half my list completed, and got the h*ll out of there.

Already I’m talking myself into grocery shopping at Walmart instead.  But I get so sick of Walmart.  And even though their prices are low, they sell, you know, everything, and I can’t seem to leave there without spending $230.

So I’m determined to give Aldi a fighting chance.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

* Not all the items on the chart are PHD compliant.  We still feed the girls sandwiches on regular bread.  And we can’t quite give up peanut butter.

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I’m linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.  I’m trying out a couple new recipes this week from Paleo on a Budget.  At least I’m planning to if I can get back to Aldi without both kids.

Breakfasts:  Scrambled eggs with avocado OR two-ingredient grain-free “pancakes,” OR  oatmeal (not completely Perfect Health Diet compliant)

Lunches: Our main meal (see below)

Dinners: Leftovers, some variation of a big-ass salad, a smoothie, or a baked sweet potato

Monday: Bare minimum mode chicken and potatoes (probably my favorite recipe ever)

Yummy baked thingy from Paleo on a Budget


Tuesday: Yummy baked thingy

Wednesday: Steak with mushrooms and onions, potatoes or rice, and a veggie

Thursday: Salmon some way or another

Friday: Cheese pizza using Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free pizza crust mix

Saturday: Easy paleo chicken and spinach

SundayFrittata

What I Wore Sunday: Santa Is Here!

This guy is all that Girl 1 knows of Santa:

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He shows up in the yard across the street every year.  If you ask her anything about Santa, this is who she’s thinking of.

This is what I wore to mass today:

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A warmer version of the outfit I posted about yesterday here.  I am continually amazed at the pictures of Mary at With My Sisters because she’s mentioned that her 4 year old takes all of them.  When I’ve asked Girl 1 (almost 4 years old) to take my picture in the past, the results have looked like this:

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But today Girl 1 took this picture.  Not flattering but a vast improvement.

Girl 1 wore her “church coat” from Aunt Lizzie.

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She was boycotting coats for a while  Fortunately, she’s wearing them again now that she’s figured out how to put coats on without her sleeves getting bunched up inside.  She got new church shoes.

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Her old pair was a silver version of these:

Ultra cheapo from Walmart. They shed copious amounts of glitter on the pew every week at Mass.  I felt a little bad for anyone sitting there at a later mass.  But hey, everyone looks better with a little glitter on his derriere right?  Right?     (The new ones have sequins instead of glitter and are from the infinitely more upscale Target.  😉

By the way we got a new furnace on Thursday.

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It started leaking oil yesterday.  Argh!  But the guy who installed it came right out and tightened the line.

Our house is toasty warm now.  We deliberated quite a bit over our options but decided to get another oil furnace.  At a later point we may add a heat pump and/or a wood stove to supplement the furnace and bring fuel costs down.  For now, we are just sooooo happy to have this behind us.

Happy Sunday everyone!  For more Sunday finery check out the other blogs linking up at Fine Linen and Purple.  Thanks Emily and Kendra for hosting!

Gift Ideas (7 Good and 7 Bad) for Little Girls

I’m linking up again at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.  Thanks for hosting, Jen!

I’ve been thinking a lot about toys these days–toys my kids play with, toys I trip over, toys that get taken out in the morning and then don’t get touched all day until I put them away at night.  Also I’ve seen a lot of gift guides around the blogosphere (so why do we need another one?).  I dunno, anyway here is

A Gift Guide for Girls Ages 1-3

— 1 —

Don’t get this:

I thought all little girls play with toy kitchens, but mine don’t, at least not yet. This was the first of my many costly errors in Christmas shopping for Girl 1.

Instead get this:

Playhouse created by Saintly Husband from very large cardboard box

Playhouse created by Saintly Husband from very large cardboard box

Truth be told Girl 1 only played in the box-playhouse when I sat my pregnant butt on the cold hard floor inside it and played, “Knock, knock, who’s there, come in” over and over and over.  But if you could spend $120 on a large toy your child won’t amuse herself with, or $0 on a large toy your child won’t amuse herself with, which would you choose?

— 2 —

Don’t get this:

These velcro wooden fruits and veggies are soooo cool because they have a realistic crunchy sound and feel when you “slice” them.  At least that’s what all the adults in our family thought on Christmas when they passed them around for spontaneous play therapy sessions.  Girl 1?  Not so much.  Now the produce gets (1) sliced once and only once when other kids come over to play, (2) immediately dropped to the floor where (3) Girl 2 chews on them until I pick them up off the floor a month later.  Repeat steps 1 through 3.

Instead get:

Fruits and veggies apparently are no fun, but Girl 1 has no end of fun offering me these “doughnuts.”  And Girl 2 can chew on them, too.

— 3 —

Don’t get this:

This shopping cart was no end of fun for Girl 1 when we visited her little friends who had one.  It immediately became boring once she got one of her own.

Instead get:

I wouldn’t recommend paying the $50 that this dress is priced at, but the 50 cents that I paid at a rummage sale  for a similar dress-up dress was totally and completely worth it. In fact, even the $5 I paid for the coordinating tiara was worth it.  Girl 1 wears this get-up every single day, and entertains herself for long stretches of time singing and dancing to herself in front of a mirror.  Sweet.

— 4 —

Don’t get this:

Just don’t.

Instead get:

Classic.  Girl 1 keeps going back to these, and now Girl 2 enjoys whacking them together.  They are a pain to pick up but worth it.  I like this Walmart variety because they are bigger and easier for Girl 1 to stack than the smaller Fisher Price ones I remember.

— 5 —

Don’t get this:

This is a really horrible bunch of drivel pretending to be a book.

Instead get:

This is a pretend book that doesn’t really pretend to be a real book.  Plastic toys that light up and make annoying “music” are taboo in some circles, but this has been a favorite ever since Aunt Lizzie got this for Girl 1 almost three years ago.  Now Girl 2 loves it, and Girl 1 still plays with it sometimes.  Totally worth the annoyingness.

— 6 —

Don’t get this:

Finger-painting set

Ai yi yi.  Why would you want to do this to yourself?

Instead get:

Four words: one piece, no mess.

— 7 —

Don’t get this:

Obnoxiousness posturing as education.  Girl 1 was bored and didn’t watch the whole thing through.

Instead get:

One reviewer on Amazon said it all: “The acting is horrible and the songs will stay in your head forever [but]   if you ever had to entertain a toddler or preschooler all day every day you will love this video.”  True ‘dat.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

What I Wore Sunday, Furnace-less Edition

Here we are again: it’s What I Wore Sunday time!

But first, an update on our heating situation after the furnace explosion of a few nights ago.  The repairman says our furnace flame box blew, which made the exhaust pipe of the furnace break in two.  Thankfully, Pat’s boss is letting us borrow his honkin‘ space heater, so we don’t have to keep the fireplace going 24/7 anymore.

The repairman is checking to see if a new flame box is available for our furnace, which is the original in our 1963 house.  If not, and we’re guessing it’s not, we need to replace our furnace. So now we’re considering our options: oil furnace, gas furnace, electric heat pump, geothermal electric heat pump, electric furnace, wood stove, wood furnace, pellet stove, coal furnace, coal stove.  It’s overwhelming.  I want someone to just come and tell us what the right option is.  Does anyone have any insight here?

But on to more important matters: my sister Lizzie has expressed a preference for “natural settings” for fashion blog posts, as opposed to closet doors and blank walls.  Well, here ya go, Lizzie.  My native backdrop, au naturale.

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Scarf: yard sale
Sweater: Gap Outlet
Skirt: LOFT (old as Methusela)
Boots: Overstock
Liturgically correct tights: Sears

Speaking of Lizzie, we got a package from her on Friday.  Amazing.  Girl 2 will be finely decked out for every Sunday for months to come.

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Girl 1 got a new dress too.

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She accessorized in time for another Lizzie-requested feature: What I Wore to WalMart.

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wish I were kidding.

For more Sunday finery, check out the link-up at Fine Linen and Purple.  Thanks as always to Kendra and Emily for hosting the fun!