Product & Service Reviews Feed

Product Review: Tramontina 6 piece stackable sauce pans

By Mike Thayer

Tramontina 6 piece stackable sauce pans
High quality, value priced

Down to my last sauce pan and the Teflon coating wearing thin, I was need of some new pans, like yesterday... 

If you like to cook, you need to have some reliable cookware, something that will last and can hold up to regular day-to-day use.  Buying the el cheapo pans (Mainstays) at Walmart for $7 - $9 a pop and no lid just doesn't cut it.  That's actually what I'm replacing, Mainstays sauce pans, which lasted me maybe 4 years with regular use.  Lesson learned.

I considered stainless steel saucepans, but since I'm not going to be searing anything in these pans - they're sauce pans not skillets after all - they'll be used for soups, stews, gravies, pastas, making mashed potatoes and the like, I don't need to apply high searing heat to brown something in these pans, that's what skillets are for.  And the convenience of easy clean Teflon came into play.

Stackable Sauce Pans
Stackable Sauce Pans, a HUGE plus in a small kitchen

I did some shopping online, I looked at Target and Kohl's, but I found what I was looking for at Sam's Club.

I bought a Tramontina 6 piece stackable sauce pan set for $29.99.  BARGAIN!  I became familiar with this brand when doing some saucepan homework online.

Not only do I get to take advantage of the easy to cook with and easy to clean Teflon surface, this pan set stacks! Not all pan sets lend themselves to easy stacking by inverting the lid, this set does, which comes in handy in a galley style kitchen with limited cabinet space.  Another plus, this easy clean Teflon surface is supposedly metal utensil safe, but I'm not even going to test that.  Using rubber, silicone and/or wood/bamboo utensils extends the life of any pan.  And here's a tip:  Although this set is dishwasher safe, don't do it.  I don't care what kind of pan set you buy, routinely cleaning them in the dishwasher ruins the finish.  Hand wash your pans and do NOT use any abrasive scrubbing pads!  You'll prematurely scratch the finish and wear the Teflon coating thin.  Additional features:  The glass lids are tempered and the pans are oven safe up to 350 degrees.

Tramontina Pans
Melting some butter for a bechamel sauce

I'm giving the Tramontina 6 piece stackable sauce pan set 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  I was looking for high-quality cookware that is value-priced and I found it in Tramontina Cookware.  The set met my budget (it actually came in way under) and totally serves my cooking needs.  I would say this is a repeat buy, but I won't have to, not for quite a few years!  I won't be trashing any of these pans as I did so soon with Walmart's Mainstay pans.  The only knock I have is the set doesn't come in black, I 'had' to settle for metallic blue.  Obviously not a deal breaker.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Who has the best online stock trading service?

By Mike Thayer

InvestingI've posted a number of product and service reviews on this site ranging from cookware to hotels.  Those reviews talk of quality, availability and most importantly price, a.k.a., spending money wisely.  Then it hit me, why not do a review on money - investing to be more precise - evaluating stock trading services?

In the coming weeks, I'll be taking a look at online brokers, outfits like Firstrade, Charles Schwab and Etrade.  Being evaluated will be items such as investment account minimums, fees, promotions, customer service and most importantly, how easy it is to use the various trading platforms. 

I'm really looking forward to this one, playing with money!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Walking your way to health with a free download, the Pacer app

Pacer AppBy Mike Thayer

I downloaded Pacer, a walking app, to my phone.

A free download, Pacer tracks your steps throughout the day and you can easily track your progress at any time.  The app even indicates stages for you, which is kind of a motivator....  Zero - 2,999 steps = sedentary. Walking 3,000 - 7,499 steps and you are lightly active.  Taking 7,500 - 9,999 steps and you are somewhat, or moderately active.  Walking 10,000 or more and you are active, as in taking steps to be healthy.  Helping you stay motivated to do more, the app also provides calories burned, 'active' time and mileage stats.  For even more data and features, you can subscribe, but I don't see the point.  All the basics you need are there in the free download.

The goal is to take at least 10,000 steps a day, or 4+ miles and keep my calorie count at around 1,800 a day.  If I'm disciplined enough, that should help me stay on track to losing about a pound a week. 

Walking your way to health....  It's fat losing and heart/cardiovascular healthy!  Get the Pacer app!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

T-fal frying pans, quality cookware for a bargain price

By Mike Thayer

F-fal pan setWhen the eggs you're frying up for breakfast stick to the 'non-stick' frying pan despite the ample dose of olive oil, you know it's time to replace it.  The cheap frying pan set I bought at Walmart about five years back when setting up my apartment post-divorce were all in need of replacement as a matter of fact.  While I do enjoy my fair share of eating out, I do prepare most of my meals at home, so that el cheapo Walmart frying pan set endured almost every day use.  For the $18 or so I shelled out for the el cheapo stuff, I'd say I got some pretty good mileage out of those pans.

A frying pan upgrade was needed and heavier/thicker gauge metal pans, something that can hold the heat better, where the non-stick coating will last longer was a must.  Oh, and having to occasionally get the screwdriver out to make sure the loose handle didn't fall off those el cheapo pans was a bit of a nuisance.

Enter T-fal

Shopping with my girlfriend in Costco one day and browsing the 'kitchen stuff' isle, I picked up a T-fal 3 pack,  which consists of an 8 inch pan, a 9.75 inch pan, and an 11.25 inch pan.  For my cooking needs, this was a winner.  The pans are Titanium non-stick, with riveted handles (no more screwdriver!) and these pans are even oven safe up to 350 degrees.  But the best thing about this pan set was the price, just $24.99!

These pans are a pleasure to cook with, hold heat much more consistently than that el cheapo stuff did and are SUPER easy to clean.  This was a nice upgrade without having to shell out a lot of cash.  With proper care, these pans are going to last me more than the five years I cooked with that "e.c." set from Walmart.  I'm giving the T-fal 3 pack frying pan set 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, the only thing this set is missing is a lid.  I'd pay a few more bucks for a lid for one of the pans.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Related:  Prevent scratches on non-stick cookware


No charcoal chimney necessary when using Tumbleweeds to fire up the grill - Grilling Good Eats

By Mike Thayer

You can start your charcoal several ways, you can use lighter fluid, you can buy those ‘Match Light’ briquettes, or you can do what I think is the best way to go (up to now) and that’s fire up your charcoal using a charcoal chimney. I don’t like lighter fluid for several reasons. I don’t like to store it, I don’t like running out, the smell can get on your hands and clothes, and inexperienced grillers tend to put too much on or start grilling over charcoals that aren’t really ready yet, giving your food that nasty fuel taste. Those ‘Match Light’ briquettes are OK, they’re very convenient, but they are more expensive and like the traditional charcoal/lighter fluid starting method, can put a fuel taste on your food if cooked over before the coals are really ready. Avoid the fuel taste risk completely and start your charcoal WITHOUT resorting to lighter fluid. 

I wrote an article awhile back about using Weber Lighter Cubes to start charcoal, a great product that eliminates the need for newspaper but is still a bit dependent on the use of a chimney.

TumbleweedEnter a game changer, Tumbleweeds, made by Royal Oak.  These things are great, so good in fact, they eliminate the need to use a charcoal chimney.  No more putting on the glove, no more handling a hot metal container, no more worries about some hot ash getting getting loose and hitting your foot causing a bit of pain because you're wearing sandals......

All you have to do when using Tumbleweeds is put a base layer of charcoal or chunks of your favorite wood in the grill (I like to use a basket in my grill), throw a Tumbleweed in, place a few more lumps, briquettes or chunks around it, light the Tumbleweed and let it do it's thing.  One 'weed' has about an 8-10 minute burn time and as that charcoal starts to gray, you can add more if desired.  This can all be done right where you wanted to dump the hot coals from a chimney, but no chimney is required!

Don't get me wrong, there's still the need to have a charcoal chimney on hand, especially for long cooks and adding additional coals to the fire.  But when first firing up the grill, a chimney isn't needed when using Tumbleweeds and they outperform Weber Lighter Cubes.

Tumbleweed lit
Plenty of room to throw some pecan wood chunks on top, no worries of putting out the Tumbleweed fire

For tips on how to use a charcoal chimney if you're not familiar with them, go to

Costing me about $4 for a box of 16 Tumbleweeds, that's 16 grilling events.  They can be used to start camp fires and outdoor fireplaces as well!  Very reasonably priced and outstanding at the task of starting that fire, I'm giving Royal Oak Tumbleweeds 5 out of 5 stars.

5 stars

Related:  Weber Lighter Cubes

Related:  Arranging Your Coals


Hotel Review: Red Roof Inn

By Mike Thayer

Red Roof InnI recently treated myself to a vacation, a few days of fishing fun on a lake in Missouri. It's my favorite kind of vacation, just the sounds of the great outdoors, appreciating the natural beauty, catching a few fish....

That being said, while roughing it in a tent had its appeal and saved me money on many a fishing trip, I've determined I'm really not into the camping thing anymore.  I've been there and done that, the camp fire, the tent, air mattress, all meals coming out of a cooler or cooked over the coals.  But in the heat of the summer and after being outdoors all day on the water, come nightfall, I want the comforts of air conditioning, the TV on and a good bed to sleep in.  These days when on vacation, the tent and camping gear stays at home.  I'm a hotel guy. 

There were several budget-minded hotel chains to choose from in the Cameron, Missouri area I was vacationing in and after doing some online homework, I went with the Red Roof Inn. It's been quite awhile since I've stayed at a Red Rood Inn, the online reviews were positive, the amenities looked great and the most important thing, the price was reasonable.

Red Roof Inn roomThis particular Red Roof has been recently remodeled.  Everything was new, to include vinyl floors instead of carpeting.  I got a room with a king size bed and the room itself was spacious, with nice desk space.  The amenities you come to expect in a decent hotel were all available and working, the Wi-Fi, a cable TV package with a good selection of channels and what I like about the room is something that often gets overlooked, PLENTY of outlets so I didn't have to hunt for any to plug my devices/chargers into.

The bed itself was quite comfortable and the linens were higher end.  This Red Roof - franchise operated - didn't cut any corners in the remodel.

There was an ice machine just down the hall from my room and the stay included the typical complimentary breakfast consisting of cereals, waffles, donuts, biscuits and sausage gravy, assorted yogurts, fruits, juices and coffee. I could also make coffee in my room with one of those one cup coffee makers and there was a mini-fridge as well.  The maid service was also top notch.  This wasn't a noisy hotel either, I slept well, no noise distractions.

Costing me $65 a night, I enjoyed my stay at the Red Roof Inn and I'm giving them 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  The room was comfortable and the price was reasonable. 

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

The Red Roof Inn visited on this occasion is located at: 

501 Northland Dr, Cameron, MO 64429

PH: (816) 632-6623

Product Review: Athletic Works Water Shoes

By Mike Thayer

20190501_200310-1Water shoes, a.k.a., aqua socks....  They're great for fishing, they beat any other foot gear when it comes to launching a boat or even if just bank fishing.  If you're stuck on the shoreline, water shoes give you the confident ability to wade out from the bank a bit and extend your casting range.  There's no fear of slipping on rocks and your feet won't feel like two anchors once you step out of the water because water shoes drain and dry so well.

So what kind of water shoes should you buy?

Last year, when taking a fishing vacation, I went cheap and while the shoes I purchased did the job intended, the quality was less-than-stellar.  What I bought amounted to a disposable pair of water shoes.  You can read that review here.

This year I spent a few more bucks and my focus was on buying a pair of shoes with a much thicker sole and hopefully, improved tread life.

I bought a pair of water shoes made by Athletic Works at Walmart for $10.

20190504_072015Athletic Works Water Shoes are easy to slip on and take off, they include a Velcro fastener for a nice, snug fit and most importantly, they're comfortable.  The mesh breathes and dries well and the tread held up nicely to three days of bank fishing, walking on rocky shoreline, on gravel paths, sandy beaches, through some muddy/grassy areas and side trips to town for gas and munchies.   Traction on multiple surfaces was never a concern with these shoes, they're solid.

Athletic Works Water Shoes gets 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They're priced right at $10, comfortable, dry well, and the tread holds up.  This is a quality water shoe at a low price.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Valero has GOT to be THE worst convenience store chain

By Mike Thayer

According to their website, Valero is the world's largest independent petroleum refiner, and a leading marketer, ethanol producer and corporate citizen.

Their convenience stores however, are less-than-stellar.

ValeroOut and about running some errands one day, I decided I needed a snack, craving some Nacho Cheese Doritos, my favorite chip.  I pulled into the Valero located at 7101 E Lincoln St, Wichita, KS 67207.

I wish I hadn't.  A Grab Bag of my favorite chip and a 12 ounce bottle of soda cost me $4.17!  In contrast, that Doritos grab bag of chips and a Big Q fountain drink costs just $2.99 at QuikTrip.  And yes, I could have poured myself a fountain drink, saving on the drink price, but given the appearance of this store, I didn't trust how clean that fountain service area would be.  Some lights in the store were out, another was flickering, the floor needed a good sweep and mop and the price of gas has to be the highest in town at $1.95 a gallon.  The attendant on duty was less-than-friendly, no greeting as I entered, no smile.

I've visited other Valero locations before, and while they aren't as bad as this Lincoln location is, there always seems to be something that's not right.   I've never been impressed with how Valero presents itself to customers. 

I have to quit stopping at Valero convenience stores, I wouldn't recommend them at all!  Only stop at a Valero as an absolute last resort!

The Valero located at 7101 E. Lincoln Street in Wichita gets one out of five Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They are NOT wallet friendly, the store wasn't clean and the service was sub-par.  

1 star

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

My Pen Is Stuck

By Mike Thayer

It happens to every writer, Pen Dysfunction.  It can cause stress, affect your self-confidence and contribute to relationship problems.  It can be embarrassing, frustrating and may lead to a reduced desire to have a pen in your hand to do some hard writing.

A friend of mine has helped me through this problem by introducing me to a great product and that Pen Dysfunction problem has now been solved thanks to:  MyPenIsStuck
No more worries about a dysfunctional tool with MyPenIsStuck!  I no longer get
writer's block and because MyPenIsStuck makes every pen stroke enjoyable, there's no cramping! 


MyPenIsStuck - Your Mind May Wander But Your Pen Won't

  • This is a GREAT GIFT on so many levels!
  • Conveniently available - Everyone should know where their Pen is.
  • Comfortable Grip - Fits well in your hand.
  • Fine point - Makes every pen stroke enjoyable.

Order your fully functional MyPenIsStuck today!

Also available on

MyPenIsStuckNotesNeed a Quickie? 50+ Sticky Notes Included

This product will put a smile on your face, every time you use it! 

Mike Thayer, Bachelor on the Cheap


Service Review: CarStar Collision

By Mike Thayer

20181130_092826So while inside my neighborhood grocery store one day picking up a few items for the day's evening meal, somebody hit my parked truck.

As I'm walking outside with grocery bags in hand, I notice a strange man standing by my truck, talking on his cell phone. 

He sees me approach and asks, "Is this your truck?"

And then I see it, my front bumper dented in and pushed downward, a broken front grill and the hood slightly dented and out of alignment.

Obviously, I wasn't happy and did not understand how somebody could hit a parked truck.  But at least the guy stuck around and owned up to hitting 'ol Nellie.  He hit the gas instead of the brake, he did quite a bit of damage to the nearby cart corral too.  He was a super nice guy, he hit my parked truck, but a nice guy.....

We exchanged insurance information and in working with his insurance provider and reading some online reviews, I decided to get my truck repaired at CarStar Collision.

What a great decision!

From the time I dropped off my truck to pickup, everybody at CarStar Collision was super friendly, informative and exercised great care in getting my truck repaired in a timely fashion and done right.   

20181222_100808-1My truck is a 1992 Ford F-150, an older truck, so parts aren't easy to come by.  CarStar Collision went over the repair process with me in detail, letting me know that if the search for original parts didn't produce quality replacements, then they would search for aftermarket parts.  Their communication is fantastic, frequently providing me with updates on my truck.  I was very impressed, quality meant everything to them in getting this job done and done right, even on an older vehicle that, well, isn't as purdy as she used to be back in the day.

The results speak volumes on the quality work that CarStar Collision does, see for yourself! 

CarStar Collision gets five out of five Bachelor on the Cheap stars for their TOP NOTCH customer service and excellent repair work.  Thank you!

5 stars

Located at 606 N. Webb Road in Wichita, I highly recommend them should you need the services of a body shop.

(316) 652-7821

606 N Webb Rd,

Wichita, KS 67206