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October 2021

Meat Subscription Review: Good Chop vs. Butcher Box

Good Chop Meat Subscription
$100 for a box of meat

By Mike Thayer

I love to cook and grill (and bake too thanks to Cindy!), I have a well stocked pantry, I've got a freezer full of goodies, which is mostly meat for grilling.

One thing I don't love however, is grocery shopping. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I hate it, but it's time consumption that doesn't feel all that productive.

So last month, I tried a meat subscription club, Butcher Box and while it was convenient to have meat delivered to the house and the meat was good quality stuff, the price per pound was a bit high at $8.86/lb., which included 2 pounds of 'free' promotional ground beef. Pricing the same cuts at the local grocery store would have been at a cost of $7.26/lb.  So even though Butcher Box is 'giving' me 2 pounds of 'free' ground beef per month for life (for as long as I subscribe), that 15 pounds of meat total per month is still coming in at $8.86/lb.

Good Chop Box
Timely delivery, great packaging, all meats in great shape

Still drawn to that convenience factor however, this month I tried a different meat subscription club, called Good Chop.  A box of meat cost me $100, a mix of beef, chicken and pork, which cost me less than the $133 Butcher Box cost me.  Good Chop is running a special right now, a discounted price for my first few boxes of meat that normally cost $149.  

Here's what I got delivered today:  Two kinds of steak, ground beef, ground Italian sausage, boneless/skinless chicken breast and a pound of bacon.

Like Butcher Box, the shipping was on time, the box was nicely packed, all meats frozen and in great shape, complete with nicely portioned packaging for each meat.  So in comparing the two meat subscriptions on that basis, there's no difference, same quality service provided. 

Good Chop
It is nice to have meat delivered to your door

Here's where Butcher Box stands out from Good Chop.  They're less expensive than Good Chop.  I only got 11 pounds of meat in my first Good Chop Box, which breaks down to $9.09/lb.  I get more meat at a lower price per pound with Butcher Box.  And when this Good Chop discount ends and I have to pay regular price that will be about 10 pounds of meat for $149, or $14.99 per pound!  NO THANKS!    I don't have to go through a taste testing to know that price difference will or won't be worth it.  It just won't be.  Besides, neither Good Chop or Butcher Box can beat the prices of buying locally.

Good Chop Meats
Just 11 pounds of meat from Good Chop, I got 15 pounds from Butcher Box

I'm giving Good Chop just 2 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  While my initial out-of-pocket expense is cheaper than Butcher Box, when you figure in the price per pound, Good Chop is actually more expensive.  Neither Good Chop or Butcher Box are wallet friendly options, buying local is the way to go with a far lower price per pound.  The convenience of having meat dropped off at your door be damned!

2 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related: Meat Subscription Review: ButcherBox and free ground beef

Related:  EveryPlate meal kit club vs. going to the grocery store


Food Review: Arby's Boneless Wings Part II the Hot Honey Version

By Mike Thayer

Arby's Boneless Wings Hot Honey
Over sauced glorified chicken nuggets

Like any other Red Blooded American Male, I am a HUGE fan of wings!  So when Arby's announced they were introducing boneless wings starting October 25th, I couldn't wait to order and bite!

Here's the description from the Arby's website:  Arby’s new Boneless Wings are made with 100 percent bite-sized pieces of all-white meat chicken breast battered up in a crispy, seasoned breading, and are sauced and tossed right when you order - in a choice of Classic Buffalo  Sauce or Hot Honey Sauce. 

And what a deal!  You get 6 'wings' and a side of crinkle cut fries for $5. 

On the 25th, I tried the Arby's Boneless Wings with the Classic Buffalo Sauce, you can read that review here, they were less-than-stellar, glorified, over-sauced chicken nuggets is what I got.

Hoping for better flavor and a better breading crunch, for lunch on the 26th, I tried the Hot Honey version.

I get the marketing thing in calling them boneless 'wings', but they're just not.  These are glorified chicken nuggets all sauced up.  And like the Buffalo sauced 'wings' I had on 'opening day', these Hot Honey nuggets were OVER sauced as well, the nuggets sitting in a pool of sauce, but at least this time around Arby's included a fork with the meal, there was far less mess. I was also given the option to have seasoned curly fries rather than the crinkle cut fries, much to my delight as I prefer the curly fries, WAY better! 

Arby's Boneless Wings
They ask you if you want sauce, on already over sauced chicken, I didn't want any, but got some ranch anyway, which doesn't really go with Hot Honey

The Hot Honey sauce is actually pretty good, you get the sweet from the honey along with a very subtle kick.  It's not quite bbq, but not quite Asian flavor either, it's unique in a tasty way. And despite being over sauced, the Hot Honey does not soggy up the breading on the chicken, I got crunch in every bite. 

I gave the Arby's Buffalo Boneless Wings just 3 out of 5 stars making it a borderline repeat buy.  I'm giving Arby's Hot Honey Boneless Wings 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's a better bite and coupled with the curly fries for just $5 it's a sweet heat of a deal.  The only knock, is the inconsistency in the chicken, you get some large pieces of boneless chicken, wing sized, but you also get little nugget sized pieces.  If they're going to be marketed as wings, don't give people little nuggets.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends... 


What to do with party leftovers

By Mike Thayer

Leftover Veggie Tray
One can only eat so much rabbit food as prepared...

So after living in an apartment for nearly six years, I recently moved into a house and had a house warming party, an opportunity for my friends to check out the new digs (I'll use any excuse for a party!).

Not wanting to cook or grill (no real time to visit), I ordered pizza and wings for the party, asking folks to bring a salad, side dish or dessert to share.  They brought a BOAT LOAD of food!

Browning Chicken Breasts
Browning some seasoned chicken breasts

I've got veggie trays, meat and cheese trays, desserts, pretzels and more which this Bachelor TRULY appreciates!

But I can't possibly eat all this stuff before those dreaded "Best By" dates hit, so what do I do with it all?

Cook, portion and/or freeze!

Here's an idea for veggie trays, make some soup.

Chopped veggies for soup
After the chicken is browned, pull from the pot, set aside for chopping later and add the veggies to the pot

Basically all I did was brown a couple seasoned chicken breasts, then chop up some vegetables and add them to the soup pot, pour in some water, let that all simmer for an hour or so, then I added some rice for a nice chicken and rice soup.  The house got to smelling SO good!  After letting the soup cool, I portioned it out for the freezer and some cold weather comfort food meals down the road.  Combined with a nice crusty garlic bread, it's another dose of YUM!

There are so many options when it comes to these meat, cheese and veggie trays.  Broccoli, cheese and sliced turkey over rice or noodles; ham fried rice, broccoli cheese soup; cauliflower and cheese casserole.  If you've got a few items in your pantry and fridge like onions, garlic, mushrooms, potatoes, rice, noodles, some bacon, everything is better with bacon - loaded cauliflower and cheese casserole topped with sour cream and bacon anybody?  It's actually kind of fun throwing a few ingredients together, almost like you're in an episode of Chopped on the Food Network, a show featuring party leftovers.   Creating some easy pop-in-the-microwave meals you can pull from your freezer later is a good time!

As far as all those desserts go, cakes freeze really well, just slice into individual portions and freeze.  Same goes for pies and cheesecakes.  Divy them up to enjoy later!  And if you feel ambitious, those pretzels in a food processor makes a great base for a crust or topping!

Chicken and Rice Soup
Delicious Chicken and Rice Soup and just look at that color!

Getting creative with party leftovers not only prevents spoilage, it saves you some money on that grocery bill!  I won't have to go shopping for awhile now thanks to my friends and those house warming donations!

 

 

 


Food Review: Arby's Boneless Wings

By Mike Thayer

Arby's Bonlless Wings
Over sauced, wings in a pool of Buffalo

Like any other Red Blooded American Male, I am a HUGE fan of wings!  So when Arby's announced they were introducing boneless wings starting October 25th, I couldn't wait to order and bite!

Here's the description from the Arby's website:  Arby’s new Boneless Wings are made with 100 percent bite-sized pieces of all-white meat chicken breast battered up in a crispy, seasoned breading, and are sauced and tossed right when you order - in a choice of Classic Buffalo  Sauce or Hot Honey Sauce. 

And what a deal!  You get 6 'wings' and a side of crinkle cut fries for $5. 

"So Mike," you ask...  "How did they taste?"

As I suspected going in, these are glorified chicken nuggets all sauced up.  And they're OVER sauced, over sauced to the point of making the 'crispy' seasoned breading, soggy.  Don't get me wrong, the chicken was tender, juicy and the seasoning was there, but the Buffalo Sauce was run-of-the-mill and the 'wings' lacked 'crispy' in the bite.  Had I ordered in and eaten in the restaurant there would have been some crunch in the breading, but I ordered drive through and the less than 3 minutes drive home resulted in soggy breading.  That's disappointing.  Another issue I had was the inconsistency in the nuggets, er, wings.  Sure, I got six 'wings', but three were large, three were yes, nuggets.  The 'wings' should be more consistent in size.

I'm giving Arby's Buffalo Boneless Wings 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  The price is VERY wallet friendly - you get fries with the wings - but the Buffalo sauce is run-of-the-mill and the breading lacked crunch.  A good Buffalo Sauce not only brings some heat, but you get some buttery notes as well and this sauce is missing that.  What's nice is the availability of Buffalo 'wings' at a fast food joint, it's good to have that option.  These 'wings' however are a borderline repeat buy, I'm holding out hope that the Hot Honey option has better flavor.

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends... 


Food Review: Taco Bell's Cantina Crispy Melt Taco

By Mike Thayer

Taco Bell's Cantina Crispy Melt Taco
Is it any good?

Opting for Take Out food has been a huge trend in 2021, with many folks looking to support the restaurant industry thanks to but no thanks to COVID. Whether it's pickup, drive through or delivery, eating out and taking home/delivery has been HUGE this year.

That's what I did today again for lunch, ordering Taco Bell's Cantina Crispy Melt Taco for lunch, to go.

Available for a limited time, this taco features a crispy white corn shell with seasoned beef, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, melted nacho cheese sauce, and a three-cheese blend tucked inside.  

Taco Bell Cantina Taco
Side shot, nicely loaded, check out the melted nacho cheese!

The enticing draw is that melted nacho cheese mixed in with the seasoned beef!

It's a good taco, the white corn shell provides a nice crunch, all the complimentary flavors of the sour cream, fresh lettuce, tomatoes and shredded cheddar cheese are spot on, but what makes this taco special is that mix of melted nacho cheese in the seasoned beef.  It's a really nice bite!

Taco Bell does a nice job of staying innovative and relevant with this offering.  It's an enticing flavor profile.  I'm giving the Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the cheap stars.  Sure, it's a simple add of melted nacho cheese to Taco Bell's seasoned beef, but the compliment of all the other base taco ingredients plus a CRISPY white corn taco shell make this a VERY yummy bite! 

I paid a little over $5 for a Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco Box, which included a Chalupa taco and a their classic taco.  This meal was Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly and quite tasty!  It's a repeat buy!

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

 


Food Review: Long John Silver's Lobster Bites

By Mike Thayer

Long John Silver's Lobster Bites
You have to appreciate the packaging

Opting for Take Out food has been a huge trend in 2021, with many folks looking to support the restaurant industry thanks to but no thanks to COVID. Whether it's pickup, drive through or delivery, eating out and taking home/delivery has been HUGE this year.

That's what I did today again for lunch, ordering Long John Silver's Lobster Bites for lunch, to go.

Costing me just $3.99, one has to ask, are these SO tempting morsels of goodness really made with lobster?  I mean c'mon, $3.99 for lobster meat?  Really?

The answer is YES, really!  The lobster bites are made from the meat of Langoustines, a member of the lobster family, the on-the-smaller-side but VERY tasty lobsters caught in the wild North Atlantic off Norway. Yes folks, they're the real deal, nothing fake or substituted about it.  These bites are all lobster!

Long John Silver's Lobster Bites
Perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, decent portion size

From a Long John Silver's press release:  Long John Silver's Lobster Bites pair the sweetness of lobster tail with a light, buttery breading to pack a flavor adventure into every bite!

True statement!

These things ROCK!  You do get the sweetness of the lobster tail, the breading is perfectly light yet crispy and enhances the lobster flavor rather than smother it.  The portion size is decent, you don't get slighted.  It's OMG good and a repeat buy.  I'm giving Long John Silver's Lobster Bites 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  For just $3.99, you get a nice portion of buttery crisp, sweet lobster, it's SUCH a tasty treat that's unique. 

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...


Food Review: Chipotle's Smoked Brisket

By Mike Thayer

Opting for Take Out food has been a huge trend in 2021, with many folks looking to support the restaurant industry thanks to but no thanks to COVID.  Whether it's pickup, drive through or delivery, eating out and taking home/delivery has been HUGE this year.

That's what I did today for lunch, ordering Chipotle's new Smoked Brisket for lunch, to go.

Chipotle Smoked Brisket Bowl
Brisket goodness in a bowl

Here's the description of the limited time new menu item from a recent press release:  Made with Responsibly Raised® beef, the new protein is smoked to perfect tenderness, charred on the grill, and seasoned with Mexican spices, including fire-roasted jalapenos and chipotle chili peppers. The protein is hand-chopped and finished with a new Brisket sauce made with smoky chili peppers.

I ordered a Smoked Brisket bowl, with the Cilantro-Lime brown rice, black beans, topped with onions/peppers and Queso Blanco.  I mean, c'mon, meat, onions, peppers, cheese, what's not to like?  I could have really loaded the bowl up, but I didn't want to over-do things, I wanted to taste that brisket!

The brisket was nice, it was seasoned well, I got a hint of smoke, the meat had a bit of char (short of having some bark) there were some nice warm spice notes and it was very tender, but there wasn't enough of it!  The portion wasn't exactly what I would call generous and the chop prep was on the small side.  The brisket gets lost in the rest of the bowl and given how Chipotle's other proteins are chunked rather than diced up like this brisket was prepped, well it was disappointing.  When you get a Chipotle bowl, you mix it to combine all the flavors in the bowl and no, I didn't get brisket in every bite, not even close.  It was really good when I did, but it wasn't enough.

The Chipotle Smoked Brisket Bowl cost me $10, plus another $1.30 for Queso.  It was pretty tasty but the portion of brisket was small and that tender, smoky beef flavor gets a bit lost in all the other bowl ingredients.  I'm giving the Chipotle Smoked Brisket Bowl 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars and for me, this is NOT a repeat buy.  The price isn't exactly Bachelor on the Cheap friendly and for $10+ I want more brisket.

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...


Food Review: Pop Tarts Bites

Pop Tarts Bites
What a great snack, SO portable too!

By Mike Thayer

Growing up as a kid, there was always a box or two of Pop Tarts parked in that Lazy Susan cabinet in the house I grew up in.  Back in the day, Frosted Pop Tarts only came in four flavors, strawberry, blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon and apple currant.

I haven't had a Pop Tart in like, forever, so when my girlfriend Cindy gave me a few packages of Frosted Blueberry Pop Tarts "Bites" - I took a trip down memory lane.  Frosted Blueberry remains one of my favorites today and now I can get them in this great snack size!

These tasty filled pastry bites are a great snack; something to take and eat on the run; something to stow in your bag for a bite to enjoy when sitting in the airport waiting on a flight; heck, as inexpensive as these things are, they would make great Halloween treats!

20211005_150106A Pop Tarts Variety Pack of 24, 1.4 ounce bags costs just $9.22 at Sam's Club.  I'm giving this great little treat 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, they are most definitely a repeat buy and wallet friendly at just 38 cents a bag.  BONUS:  There are more flavors to enjoy these days as well, like smores, cookies and cream and chocolate fudge.

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

 

 

 


Food Review: Little Caesars Crazy Calzony

By Mike Thayer

Little Caesars Crazy Calony
What a mess for dinner!

Needing some dinner grub on a recent business trip, I decided to see if all the advertising hype surrounding Little Caesar's Crazy Calzony was valid, or if the dreaded looks better than it tastes line would apply.

I got the latter.  The Little Caesars Crazy Calzony is a marketing gimmick, and what you see in advertisement is NOT what you get in the box.

What IS a Little Caesars Crazy Calzony you ask?

Described as part-pizza and part-calzone, it features a pepperoni pizza in the center with four Calzone-like appendages filled with garlic sauce, mozzarella cheese and more pepperoni.  It sounds like a good concept, too bad Little Caesars didn't execute.

The Crazy Calzony was overbaked, leaving the top portions of crust dry and chewy and perhaps that's why this thing appears to be laden in grease, because whoever baked it tried to 'save' it by putting WAY too much melted butter on it.  Combined with the actual grease from the not top grade pepperoni, well that left the bottom portion of the crust sitting in a pool, which = SOGGY!  After eating a bit, (mostly pepperoni and cheese) I couldn't eat anymore it was that bad, I threw the bulk of this thing away, I had NO desire to refrigerate this thing for leftovers later, let alone have some for breakfast on the road.  NO THANKS!  The flavors were unremarkable, the tomato sauce was 'eh' and there was some salt overkill.  I was hoping the creamy garlic sauce would have kicked things up a notch, but considering the too dry up top and soggy on the bottom of the crust - the foundation of a good pizza for crying out loud - well, there was no saving this pizza/calzone concoction.

I paid $8.49 for the Little Caesar's Crazy Calzony and it was money poorly spent.  I'm NOT a fan.  I'm giving the Crazy Calzony 1 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, it is NOT a repeat buy and Little Caesars will NOT get a repeat visit.  This is the third time I've tried a Little Caesars product and the third time I've had a disappointing pizza experience.

1 star

 

 

 


Whiskey Review: Ole Smoky Salted Watermelon Whiskey

By Mike Thayer

Ole Smoky Salted Watermelon Whiskey
Watermelon and Whiskey is a good pairing

Blended and flavored whiskeys continue to be red hot in popularity, consumer demand for brown spirits remains on the rise with American Whiskey in particular seeing some phenomenal sales growth.

Regular readers know that I am a fan of flavored whiskey, I've always got a bottle of something in my freezer for a chilled shot or flavored specialty in the liquor cabinet to enjoy on the rocks.  My favorite in all this tasting fun so far, has been Ole Smoky Peanut Butter flavored whiskey.  It's BETTER than Skrewball!

Given how much I enjoyed the Ole Smoky Peanut Butter, I decided to give another one of their flavored whiskeys a try.

Today's tasting:  Ole Smoky Salted Watermelon

If a shot of whiskey can be refreshing, this is it!

You get the whiff of watermelon in the nose, the hint of salt kisses the tongue along with the fruity note and then there's the warm whiskey finish.  It's slightly sweet, not overpowering at all and it's balanced by that salt.  It's smooth and yes, refreshing! 

As always, I tried this whiskey neat, on the rocks and in a chilled shot. It's very good any way served. It would also lend itself well to mixology, adding a splash of ginger ale comes to mind.  A friend of mine recommended mixing it with lemonade which sounds real good. 

Costing me $19.99, Ole Smoky Salted Watermelon is definitely a repeat buy and gets 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. 

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...