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If you're into Mums, buy them at Aldi

Mum
These are great looking plants

By Mike Thayer

Today's Shopping Tip

It's Mum season! 8" Mums are just $3.99 at Aldi while supplies last. That price beats what you'll pay at Lowe's, a garden center or the mainstream grocery store. I picked up 5 plants this morning for a grand total of $19.95 + tax.

These are great looking plants and Aldi has three main colors that I saw in stock, the purple you see pictured right, classic yellow and a rust variety.

Purple Mum
Healthy plants freshly watered when I was browsing

 

$pend Wisely My Friends...

 

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Inconsistency from Dillon's to Dillon's

By Mike Thayer

For routine weekly grocery shopping, the primary options in Wichita are Dillon's, Walmart, Target Grocery, Trader Joes, Aldi, Whole Foods, Natural Grocers and if you live in Park City - Leeker's (I used to work there back in the day, I worked in the deli, a fry cook, I don't miss it). I've shopped in all of them, but I prefer Aldi. Overall, Aldi is hands down the cheapest place in town to buy groceries and without a sacrifice in product quality. Yes, they lack some of the name brand products, but through trial and error, I've learned that 8 times out of 10, having that name brand item just isn't necessary.

For impromptu shopping, or just needing to grab a couple items, it's usually Dillon's. Location is the primary reason, I live less than a mile from one. And I prefer to stick to the store brand (Kroger) because it's cheaper. But I have to say that the Dillon's located at Harry & Edgemoor is perhaps the most poorly managed Dillon's in town. This is my neighborhood Dillon's, but quite frankly, I prefer not to shop there.

Dillon's on Harry & Edgemoor
One cart available? Really?

Yes, I've reached that point.  Now if I have to do some impromptu shopping, if I forgot something on a list or decided to cook something on a whim and I'm out of or don't have a certain something, I'm going to the next nearest Dillon's at Harry & Webb or Rock & Central instead of my neighborhood store.

Why?

Because in my humble opinion the Dillon's store at Harry & Edgemoor has got to be one of the poorest managed stores in the Wichita Metro.  There is always trash in the parking lot when you pull in and eight times out of ten, when you walk in the store there will be few carts available.  And finding a mini-cart?  Forget it.  They're all out in the parking lot, either orphaned and taking up a parking space or in a full beyond its capacity cart corral.  When you do get to select a cart, you often have to choose between a 'clean cart' but with one of those dreaded 'thump, thump, thump' squiggly wheels or pick the trash out of one from the previous customer.  When shopping, this particular Dillon's is always out of something.  Short on coffee creamer, out of a large assortment of lunch meats, or produce items not in stock.  Sure, that this is a busy location is taken into consideration, but it's not any more or less busy than the Dillon's locations at Harry & Webb or Rock & Central.  I say the issues this store has is due to a management problem.

When I first started to see that many products I like to purchase were out of stock and shelves empty, I initially chalked it up to the Kroger supply line.  But then one day when needing a few items in the early A.M., and seeing my neighborhood store not having what I needed, I ventured to the Dillon's on Harry & Webb.  There, I found what I needed, blowing up my theory that this was a Kroger supply line issue.  And I've done the same thing with the Dillon's on Rock & Central.  With my neighborhood Dillon's not having what I was shopping for and my other errands taking me north, I found what I needed at Rock & Central.

Why is the Harry & Edgemoor store out of Kroger hard salami and other Kroger lunch meats, but the store on Harry & Webb has it all in stock?  Are there that many salami lovers in the Harry & Edgemoor neighborhood?  I don't think so.  It's a "not knowing how to order properly" issue.

Why is the Harry & Edgemoor store out of coffee creamers and the other nearby Dillon's stores are not?  Are there that many fans of Hazelnut or Italian Sweet Cream that the store sells out on a weekly basis?  I don't think so.  It's a "not knowing how to order properly" issue.

A lackluster curb appeal, shopping carts not available and/or not clean and serviceable and the lack of products on the shelves NOT due to a supply shortage are all indicators that management is less-than-stellar.

How is it that with today's technology, the at-the-ready inventory and sales data numbers, that two Dillon's stores not so close to me can pretty much get it right most of the time, but my neighborhood Dillon's cannot?

They've lost a customer.  I'm no longer shopping there, not even on the most impromptu basis.  I give the Dillon's store on Harry and Edgemoor 2 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They are not worthy of repeat business.  And I can count on one hand the number of employees that are friendly and do business with a smile.  There's no "Hello," or "Can I help you find something?" from these folks.

2 stars

The Dillon's in question is located at 5500 E Harry St, Wichita, KS 67218.  Shop somewhere else.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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If you're not a regular shopper at Aldi, why not?

Aldi Eastgate
8011 E Kellogg Ave

By Mike Thayer

I do my regular, routine, weekly shopping at Aldi.

Why?

Because they offer good products at consistently the lowest grocery prices in town. It's simple, I'd rather pay $2.75 for a 16 ounce bottle of olive oil at Aldi, than pay $6.99 for a similar bottle at Dillon's.

No, you won't find many name brands in an Aldi store, but that doesn't mean you're sacrificing quality or flavor in the products Aldi has to offer.  In fact, many of the brands they do carry are award winning, the store and the items they carry have generated 1,200 product awards and recognitions since 2017.  The secret to Aldi's discount success is a focus on private label products.  By taking the name brand nonsense, their sales force and marketing requirements out of the picture, Aldi can pass along the cost savings, to you.

Aldi
Wide, clean, well stocked aisles

I've done a number of product reviews and price comparisons in recent years and Aldi always scores well against the competition.

Related: Mainstream Grocery vs. Discount Grocery: Dillon's (Kroger) vs. Aldi

Related: Food Review: Parkview Cheddar Brats

Related: Food Review: Kirkwood Turkey Breast

I have no problem bagging my own groceries. I enjoy saving money for virtually the same product and that allows me to budget those savings (significant savings) into other areas of life. In that cost comparison article linked above, "Mainstream vs. Discount Grocery"...

I bought 16 like items at each store (2018 prices).

My cost at Aldi: $30.46

My cost at Dillon's: $43.19

HOLY COW!

The difference is $12.73 on just 16 items and I bought the store brand stuff (whenever possible) at Dillon's!

With good curb appeal on the exterior, a clean, well maintained interior, well stocked shelves, a friendly staff and the best prices in town, Aldi in my humble opinion is without question THE grocery store of choice for routine, weekly shopping.  I give Aldi 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, it's a store worthy of your repeat business.

Wichita Aldi Locations

5 stars

Related: Ranking Grocery Options in the Wichita Metro

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Natural Grocers has a great deal going on right now

Breakfast bundle
Great Deal!

By Mike Thayer

So having received a mailer from Natural Grocers for what they are calling a "Breakfast Bundle" - buy some bacon & eggs and get some free pancake mix, I decided to check the store out.

I've never shopped at Natural Grocers before and I was looking forward to seeing what the store had to offer and yes, the opportunity to take advantage of a breakfast deal for only $5 is quite a motivator!

Natural Grocer Curb Appeal
1715 N. Rock Rd.

The Natural Grocers concept of healthier food options and nutrition was started in Golden, Colorado back in 1955 and today that concept has grown into 162 stores in 20 states.  There are two of these stores in Wichita.   This breakfast bundle deal is a marketing promo designed to get regular customers in to buy a few other things aside from the breakfast products being promoted, as well as to expand their customer base with folks like me, who isn't yet sold on the higher prices that come with 100% organic and all natural products.

I went to the Rock Road location for this visit and when I pulled into the parking lot on a Monday morning I noted the excellent curb appeal.  There was no trash in site, no shopping carts orphaned in the parking lot, no clutter of unattended displays at the entrance.

Natural Grocer
Clean store, well stocked shelves

I grabbed a cart once through the door, which were all lined up nicely, with no previous customer trash in the carts to be seen (Hello Dillons!).  The first section you're in after grabbing a cart is the produce section, which all looked nice, fresh and guaranteed 100% organic.  I was greeted with smiles and hellos by all employees as I walked the aisles.  The inside of the store looked even better than the outside, clean floors, well stocked shelves that were organized logically, it was a nicely lit environment with no over-the-top displays or 'discount' bins that have been picked through.

Enjoying my little walk around the store, checking out prices and the product variety, I arrived at the egg section.  Like the employees, the customers are friendly too!  Two ladies arrived at the egg section the same time I did, apparently on the same mission as I was.  With the mailer in hand they were in search of bacon, eggs and pancake mix.  We politely took our turns grabbing a dozen eggs for $1.99 and in saying "Hi" quickly discussed the great deal, then like members of a scavenger hunt, we were off to find that package of bacon for $2.99. 

After gathering up the bacon and pancake/waffle mix (gluten free), I toured the aisles a bit more and picked up two bags of my current favorite snack, popcorn.  Natural Grocers has a great chip aisle by the way to include some fantastic popcorn options.

Natural Grocers
Total price - $11.56

The total price for a dozen eggs, a 12 ounce package of bacon, a box of pancake/waffle mix and two bags of popcorn was $11.56.    The breakfast bundle deal truly is a good one.  My first time shopping experience at Natural Grocer was a very pleasant one and I look forward to my next visit, with the intent on exploring the produce section in greater detail.   I was actually a little surprised by the prices, they weren't as high as I thought they might be for a store featuring healthier alternatives.  Natural Grocers is definitely worthy of a repeat visit.  It's a clean, well maintained, well stocked store with friendly, helpful employees.  What's not to like in that? 

Wichita Locations:

1715 N Rock Rd, Wichita, KS 67206

10520 W 13th St N, Wichita, KS 67212

 

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Buy some bacon & eggs, get a free box of pancake mix at Natural Grocers

Natural Grocers
Breakfast Bundle Mailer - front

By Mike Thayer

Natural Grocers is working hard to earn your breakfast shopping business.

Sending out a traditional mailer to Wichita residents, the store is offering what they're calling a $5 Breakfast Bundle.  In a limited time offer valid July 18 - 31 at Wichita Natural Grocers locations, 100% Free-Range eggs are just $1.99 per dozen.  Natural Grocers brand Hickory Smoked Bacon is just $2.99 per package.  Buy both and you get a free box of pancake mix!

What a great deal!

Natural Grocers
Breakfast Bundle Mailer - back

And while you're there to take advantage of the sale, the store is hoping you'll grab up some other delicious breakfast goodies such as maple syrup, coffee, juice and jam.

It really is a heck-of-a-deal, if I was a betting man, I would wager supplies won't last, I'll be shopping on the 18th.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Father's Day Gift Ideas courtesy of BachelorontheCheap.com

By Mike Thayer

Kingsford Flavored Charcoal
The Kingsford lineup of flavored charcoals is awesome!

So Father's Day is approaching and you haven't bought your Dad anything yet...

Don't pay attention to those online "Best Online Father's Day Gifts for 2022" posts or TV talk show segments that plug spending a pretty big chunk of change on something trendy, but your Dad most likely won't use.

He doesn't need a Soundbot to help him sing in the shower, he doesn't need a white noise sound machine to help him fall asleep.  And for sure he doesn't need a Snailax Shiatsu Massage Cushion with Heat for $100. 

Get him a practical gift.

Seriously, don't out-think yourself, even for the Dad that already pretty much has everything...

If he's a griller

  • A bag of charcoal - seriously, if your Dad is a griller and specifically a charcoal enthusiast like yours truly, get him a bag of charcoal.  Lately I've become partial to flavored charcoals, you're Dad will get a kick out of making his grill fare taste even better.
  • A bag of wood chunks, chips or pellets are all great options.  Buy wood chunks if your Dad is a charcoal griller, buy chips if he's a gas griller, buy pellets if he's got an electric smoker.
  • A grill tool set.  Stay away from sets that includes a fork (piercing meat with a fork when on the grill is a very bad thing, all the juices flow out resulting in a very dry, boring piece of meat to eat).  Stay away from wood handled sets.  The varnish eventually wears off, flaking off and possible into your food.  Look for silicone handled sets that are dishwasher safe.
  • A Kingsford Charcoal Caddy.  These things rock, especially if you have more than one.  They not only keep charcoal, wood and pellets dry, but you can specialize, one container for regular charcoal, another container for hickory fused charcoal, another for wood chunks or pellets and so on...
  • Here's my favorite:  A gift card to a local butcher shop.  You'll get a HUGE hug for this one!  Another option is a gift card to a BBQ specialty store if there's one in your neck of the woods. 

If he's a Yardie...

  • A gift card to his favorite lawn & garden shop, if it's Lowe's, so be it!  Don't think about buying him a pair or pruners, he's already got some. 
  • A bag of all purpose fertilizer, or if you know what he favors to grow, a specialized fertilizer for roses or tomatoes for example.
  • Potting or Garden soil.  There's always a need for more soil...

If he's a hunter/fisherman

  • I don't know anybody that doesn't appreciate a gift card for Cabela's, Dick's Sporting Goods or Academy Sports.  Heck, even Walmart will do.  Let your Dad focus on what hunting, fishing, camping gear or heck, cast iron skillet needs he has!  The notion that a gift card is not personal enough is an old school thought.  It's actually the opposite, allowing whoever you're gifting one to the freedom to choose.  That's thoughtfully significant.

 If he's a techie/gadget/other

  • You can't go wrong and I 'm talking gift card again here, with a card from Best Buy or whatever cell phone provider he has. 
  • Batteries.  An assortment of batteries will be much appreciated.  Think remote controls, solar lights, torches, wall clocks, flashlights, hearing aids, weight scales, smoke alarms, clock radios and more. 

And if nothing else sounds right, there's always the all purpose Visa or Mastercard gift card.  If your Dad is a golfer, it works.  If your Dad is a bicyclist/fitness person, it works.  If he's a foodie, it works and don't go with a specific restaurant here, stick with what will work in ANY restaurant, specialty shop or grocery store.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Don't pay $4 or $5 for Father's Day or Birthday cards, etc.!

Happy Birthday CardBy Mike Thayer

If you're the typical guy, you probably wait until the last minute to pick up a card for whatever, Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthday, anniversary, graduation, etc., and you're in the grocery store card isle looking for a card that will do.

But why pay $4, $5 or even more for a cheesy birthday, anniversary, or holiday card, etc., when you can pay just 50¢ ?!  And for those of you who live in Haysville, that's TWO cards for just $1!

Father's Day Card
And the inside reads: "Kind of tough on the outside, but tender on the inside. Happy Father's Day"

Hello Dollar Tree!  They've got you covered.  They've got cards for all events, simple cards, thoughtful cards and yes, even cheesy cards.  No, there's nothing musical or pop-up about their selection, but it's a good selection nonetheless.  And after all, it's about getting a card for the occasion, yes, it's the thought that counts, not how elaborate a card might be.

Save a few bucks, shop for cards for any occasion at Dollar Tree.  Costing far less than what you'll find at a grocery store, you can buy a number of cards for upcoming birthdays and holidays for that $4, $5 or more and save yourself a number of last minute trips to the grocery store card isle!

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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If your family enjoys Cheerios, Sam's Club has the best price

Cheerios
Two large boxes for a low price

By Mike Thayer

Shopping Tip Alert

You'll be hard pressed to find a better deal on cereal than Sam's Club.

I'm trying to reduce the sodium in my diet and get a little more heart healthy, so when in Sam's today I picked up a "2 pack" of Cheerios.  It was almost a "2 pack" of Honey Nut Cheerios until I read the label and its 12 grams of sugar per serving vs. just 2 grams for regular Cheerios.

And about that serving size...  One cup?  Who eats just a cup of cereal?!  A regular size bowl, the typical vessel used to enjoy cereal holds about 2-1/2 to 3 cups of cereal and so unless you're the kind of person that goes to a paint store because you heard you could get thinner...  You're filling that bowl with cereal right up to the point where pouring in enough milk won't cause an overflow...

And did you see what I did there...  Paint store...  Thinner...

C'mon, that was funny...

Cheerios
Just $5.58 for all this cereal

So anyway, Sam's Club has a nice selection of cereals and great prices.  I picked up the "2 pack" of Cheerios for just $5.58.  And the boxes are large, each containing 1 pound, 4.35 ounces of toasted oats goodness.  That breaks down to just 11.5¢ per ounce!  I challenge you to find Cheerios that cheap at Kroger, HyVee, Albertsons, Food Lion, etc., each of those outlets averaging about $4.99 for a single, 20 ounce box.  You'll find that most of the Cereals carried by Sam's Club are cheaper in price than those sold by the mainstream grocery stores.

I'm giving Sam's Club 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars for their cereal selection and great prices.

 

Cheerios with blackberries
Cheerios w/blackberries for dessert!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Father's Day Gift Shopping Deal at Sam's Club

BBQ Grilling Gift Set
Available at Sam's Club

By Mike Thayer

SHOPPING TIP ALERT!

I wrote earlier today about Father's Day coming up and recommended gifting something with a grilling theme. 

Ladies and gents, Father's Day is approaching. If you're considering getting a husband/dad/boyfriend a grilled themed gift (a VERY wise choice by the way) then consider the following: Grilling Tip #9: Do NOT use a fork of any kind to grill! Forks pierce the meat, letting those juices sizzle down into the charcoal and once those juices are gone, they’re gone, leaving you with the same situation as tip #8 - eating a dry piece of meat lacking great flavor. Avoid grill crime.
 
Do NOT buy a grilling tool set that has a fork in it. And stay away from wooden handled ones, the varnish eventually wears off and can flake off on the food. Go with silicone handle sets. https://www.grillinggoodeats.com/grilling-tips-tools/

Here's a perfect deal with that in mind!

Sam's Club has a BBQ Grilling Gift Set that normally retails for $39.98, for just $9.91!   Fork NOT included, which is a very smart thing.

This is a steal of a deal that includes BBQ sauce, a veggie roaster seasoning blend, pink Himalayan salt with grinder, two spice rubs, a basting brush, meat claws (pulled pork anyone?), metal tongs and a cutting board!  This is a PHENOMENAL  DEAL.  You're not going to find a better one, all this stuff for just $9.91?

BBQ Grilling Gift Set
All that for just $9.91!

And who doesn't love a cutting board in the shape of a pig?

This is available at Sam's Club and I'm sure it's a limited time offer kind of thing, available for as long as supplies last.  Don't wait too long, they're going to be gone before you know it.  These kits just went on sale and when I went in to pick one up today just after the lunch hour, the display as you entered the store was nearly picked through.  I'm sure there are more kits stashed in the back, but that's how fast these things are going.

This is a winner of a gift made available by Sam's Club, it's a deal you just can't pass up - it's only $9.91!.

Dad, husband, boyfriend will have a VERY Happy Father's Day receiving this great gift.

This deal gets 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars!

$pend Wisely My Friends...

BBQ Grilling Gift Set
Also available online for shipment to/pickup at your favorite Sam's Club

I hope you appreciate the shopping tip!

Help support the continued content for Shopping, Dining, Best Deals, Product & Service Reviews, Tips, Hacks, Recipes and other great information by buying me a coffee. Your support to keep Bachelor on the Cheap a free resource is much appreciated! ~ Mike

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HelloFresh vs. EveryPlate: Which meal subscription service is better?

HelloFresh
Timely, cold delivery, both services

By Mike Thayer

I recently received and reviewed a meal subscription service, HelloFresh.  In a Bachelor on the Cheap series, I sampled four meals and the reviews included an assessment of cost, shipping, tracking, ingredient quality, ease of prep, instructions and most importantly, taste. 

I received the following four meals that serves two people per meal and the delivery included all the base ingredients and instructions for the following selections (links to reviews of those meals are below):

  • Meatloaf A' La Mom
  • Italian Chicken Over Lemony Spaghetti
  • Taqueria Pork Bowls
  • Citrus Pork Tacos
HelloFresh Packaging
No worries about food spoilage, both services

I've done the meal kit thing before, subscribing with EveryPlate last year and that was overall a good experience.  EveryPlate, a sister company to HelloFresh, was actually cheaper than the grocery store*.  I did end up cancelling my subscription after a bit however and for two reasons.  The EveryPlate menu options at the time were pretty limited and I started to travel a lot with a new job.  *During the time I was an EveryPlate subscriber, they were running an introductory price of $1.99 per meal for you first couple shipments.  After that, the price goes up and then the cost savings vs. a grocery store becomes negligible.

I was impressed with the HelloFresh shipment, the tracking was spot on and the packaging was top notch.  The quality of ingredients was also top notch from the meats, fresh produce, dry ingredients, to the packaged sauces.  The recipe cards are an easy read, the instructions clear, so even if you're not an experienced cook, no worries!  The most impressive of all that though, the meals are individually wrapped. 

HelloFresh Meal Kit
HelloFresh packaging is superior to EveryPlate.

Contrast that to my experience with EveryPlate, which was boxed up nicely and remained cold through delivery, but shipments were always very simply packed.  All meats were lumped together, all other meal ingredients were lumped together into one large box, so you had to sort through everything, the produce, the sauces, the dry ingredients, using the menu cards to pick out what was needed for each meal.  HelloFresh eliminates that task (part of their elevated price).  While the meats are packed separately, all the other ingredients for each meal is wrapped in it's own, labelled and secure brown bag.  No sorting, no digging, no having to read menu cards to select the necessary ingredients, it's all ready to go for you with HelloFresh. 

The packaging affects meal prep time.  Both services list prep times and a cook time on their recipe cards.  Because HelloFresh packages their meals in it's own unique bag, their prep time is accurate.  EveryPlate's prep time....  Not so much.  I realize they are gauging prep time from the point you have all ingredients out, organized and ready for washing, slicing and dicing... But if you ask me, having to sort through a big box of potatoes, carrots, zucchinis, onions, garlic, sauce and seasoning packets to pick out the right ones for a particular meal - that's prep time too!

HelloFresh vs. EveryPlate Meal Cards
Which meal would you prefer?

Instructions are essentially the same for both services, you can see the sister company similarities here, the only major difference being HelloFresh prints their meal cards using the Landscape format, EveryPlate uses Portrait.  Everything was easy to read and follow and both services provide Chef Tips and making preparation easier.  And in terms of ingredient quality, it's high quality, both companies, sister companies after all.

Meal vs. Meal.  I enjoyed all the meals from both services, but I would have to give the nod to HelloFresh which has a larger menu and greater variety, we're talking 28 menu options vs. 13.  Both services offer the ability to upgrade for an additional charge.  HelloFresh also offers more add-on choices than EveryPlate.

Both services have a website and app that makes managing your account easy and you can skip meals, pause delivery or cancel your subscription at any time without paying any additional fees.

Both services are convenient, all the meals are tasty and fun to cook, so what this comparison boils down to is price.  HelloFresh is more of an upscale meal subscription service offering greater meal variety, more ingredients and smart, prep convenient packaging.  EveryPlate seems to be focused on affordability without sacrificing product quality, but simpler meals on their menu with fewer ingredients to work with and prep at meal time.  

Overall, I have to go with HelloFresh if I had to pick one service over the other.  EveryPlate is cheaper, but HelloFresh is more convenient with the smarter packaging and the meals are little more exciting.  And while EveryPlate has a lower cost per meal rate, I'd rather pay a little extra for a nicer meal.  With either service, if you don't feel like spending a lot of time at the grocery store, here ya go.

HelloFresh vs EveryPlate

Related: Meal Kit Review: HelloFresh vs. EveryPlate

Related: Meal Kit Review: HelloFresh Citrus Pork Tacos

Related: Meal Kit Review: HelloFresh Italian Chicken Over Lemony Spaghetti

Related: Meal Kit Review: HelloFresh Taqueria Pork Bowls

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

Related: EveryPlate meal kit club vs. the local grocery store - Griddled Onion Burgers with Creamy Dijon Aioli & Frites

Related: EveryPlate meal kit club vs. the local grocery store - Greek Pork Meatball Bowls

 

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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