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Meal Kit Review: HelloFresh Italian Chicken Over Lemony Spaghetti

By Mike Thayer

This is the third post in a series of HelloFresh meal kit reviews

20220503_175455I'm reviewing the ready meals from HelloFresh in another Bachelor on the Cheap series, having received a shipment of four meals.  My first post was a review of "Meatloaf A' La Mom" to include a comparison to another meal subscription service, EveryPlate.  Links to other related articles are posted below.

The four meals received in the shipment serves two people per meal and the delivery included all the base ingredients and instructions for the following meals:

  • Meatloaf A' La Mom - The first meal I tried, quite tasty!
  • Italian Chicken Over Lemony Spaghetti - Today's featured review
  • Taqueria Pork Bowls
  • Citrus Pork Tacos - Delicious and the early favorite of the four

For my third HelloFresh meal I selected "Italian Chicken Over Lemony Spaghetti with Zucchini & Chili Flakes."  I really like meals that infuse a lot of citrus especially those with a little kick, so I've looking forward to sampling this one.

Pulling the package of chicken and the "Italian Chicken" meal bag from the fridge, I clipped up the recipe card and went to work.  The prep time for this meal is just 5 minutes with a cook time of 30 minutes.  How easy is that?  Just 30 minutes?  Heck, you can hardly hop in your vehicle and hit the drive thru and back or order pizza in just 30 minutes and you'll spend a lot more cash too!  And I've stated this before in the other posts, but it bears repeating, HelloFresh does a nice job with the recipe instructions which are clear, easy to understand and includes what kitchen tools you'll need, what pantry and/or fridge items you need to have on hand (salt, butter, olive oil, etc.) and tips to make the job of meal prep an easier and more delicious one.   

In sitting down to eat, this meal, like the others, quite tasty!  The chicken gets cooked with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, giving you those herbal notes of basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram.   Developing into a crust on the bird, those herbal notes are accentuated with the lemon juice which also brings out the caramelization of the chicken.  If that wasn't flavor enough, the sauce for the pasta is excellent.  Using some pasta water as the base, it's combined with garlic, lemon juice, chili flake and some chicken stock provided in the kit.  Tossed with the pasta, butter and some sour cream cheese, the spaghetti gets coated with some smooth and creamy deliciousness!  Joining the party is some sauteed zucchini and and Parmesan cheese.  This is a great dish, something I would order again and I wanted to eat both servings at dinner but managed to save the second serving for lunch. 

I'm very pleased with HelloFresh, I've had three meals now, all were easy to prepare and delicious. I'll be sampling the last remaining HelloFresh meal before I rate this service and tell you which one in the HelloFresh vs. Everyplate Meal Kit Challenge I prefer.  I'll break things down such as meal prep, variety, recipe instructions, the quality of the ingredients and most importantly the flavors at meal time.  Stay tuned.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related: Meal Kit Review: HelloFresh vs. EveryPlate

Related: Meal Kit Review: HelloFresh Citrus Pork Tacos

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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Meal Kit Review: HelloFresh Citrus Pork Tacos

HelloFresh
Timely, cold delivery, quality ingredients

By Mike Thayer

This is the second post in a series of HelloFresh meal kit reviews

I'm reviewing the ready meals from HelloFresh in another Bachelor on the Cheap series, having received a shipment of four meals.  My first post was a review of "Meatloaf A' La Mom" to include a comparison to another meal subscription service, EveryPlate.  

Meal Kit Review: HelloFresh vs. EveryPlate

The four meals received in the shipment serves two people per meal and the delivery included all the base ingredients and instructions for the following meals:

  • Meatloaf A' La Mom - The first meal I tried, quite tasty!
  • Italian Chicken Over Lemony Spaghetti
  • Taqueria Pork Bowls
  • Citrus Pork Tacos - Today's featured review
20220430_162741
getting ready to meal prep

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.  Links to those posts are below.

For my second HelloFresh meal I selected "Citrus Pork Tacos with Pickled Onion & Southwest Crema" I love tacos, especially soft tacos and I'm going to learn something with this recipe, how to pickle onion.  I've never pickled anything before. 

20220501_113225
Free up counter space, put your recipe at eye level

Pulling the package of ground pork and "Citrus Pork Tacos" meal bag from the fridge, I clipped up the recipe card and went to work.  The prep time for this meal is 10 minutes with a cook time of 30 minutes.  HelloFresh does a nice job with the recipe instructions which are clear, easy to understand and includes what kitchen tools you'll need, what pantry and/or fridge items you need to have on hand (salt, butter, olive oil, etc.) and tips to make the job of meal prep an easier one.   

The meal was quickly put together, basically a one pan meal making clean up easy.   The pickling was simple with the juice from a lime serving as the pickling liquid.  Add a bit of sugar and a pinch of salt, nuke for 30 seconds and viola, pickled onion!

In sitting down to eat, this meal, like the first meal with the meatloaf, was also quite delicious. The combination of ground pork, onion and pepper had some great flavors kicked up a notch with the Southwest spice.  I would have been happy with just the pork/veggie mixture and warm tortilla!  But the meat & veggie mix combined with the pickled onion, crema, citrus and cilantro puts these tacos over the top.  I would order this meal again in a heartbeat.  I had three tacos for dinner and they're so good, I'm having three tacos for breakfast.  My plans for bacon and eggs will have to wait another day.

HelloFresh Citrus Pork Tacos
These are outstanding tacos!

I'm very pleased with HelloFresh, I've had two meals, both were easy to prepare and delicious. I'll be sampling the remainder of the HelloFresh meals before I rate this service and tell you which one in the HelloFresh vs. Everyplate Meal Kit Challenge I prefer.  I'll break things down such as meal prep, variety, recipe instructions, the quality of the ingredients and most importantly the flavors at meal time.  Stay tuned.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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

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Shopping Review: The Dollar Tree on South Rock Road needs some TLC

Dollar Tree
1625 S Rock Rd Suite 115 B, Wichita, KS 67207

By Mike Thayer

In need of some household cleaning supplies such as bleach, all-purpose cleaner, some sponges and the like, I stopped in a Dollar Tree for those items and to save a few bucks.  Regular readers know I'm a Dollar Tree fan and I've done a few Dollar Tree vs. Name brand item comparisons.  Dollar Tree came out on top, without a sacrifice in product quality.

I stopped in the Dollar Tree I usually frequented when I lived in my apartment, the store being just a hop, skip and a jump from where I lived.  I often walked there to pick up a few things.  This particular store has recently changed managers and hopefully for the better, as this location is looking more and more run down on an almost daily basis.  The Dollar Tree on South Rock needs some Tender Loving Care.

Dollar Tree
Empty shelves, dirty carpet as you walk in

When you first pull into the parking lot, it's an adequate appearance, but not spotless clean.  There always seems to be a candy wrapper, empty chip bag or even a fast food meal bag laying along the approach to the store entrance.  In other words, the curb appeal has room for improvement.  Enter those doors and yes, you're greeted by an employee at a nearby register, "Welcome to Dollar Tree," but you're also 'greeted' by very worn out carpeting that's in dire need of some vacuuming.  I understand it would be quite a project to pull up all that carpeting and perhaps refinish the concrete floor underneath or install new carpeting.  But what's on the floor now, with all the fading, worn sections and spill spots, it's an eyesore.  As a result, this store never looks clean.  To note, the more modern Dollar Tree stores have polished concrete floors which are far easier to maintain and don't become eyesores.  Merchandise stocking and empty shelves is an issue as well.  There were a lot of empty shelves in this store on this shopping day and there doesn't seem to be much of an effort to properly face and rotate product. 

Dollar Tree
Empty shelves, product in disarray

Located at 1625 S Rock Rd Suite 115 B, Wichita, KS 67207 (the plaza on the corner of Harry & Rock) this store can be very busy at times.  But it doesn't matter if the store is busy or if there are just a few customers shopping as was the case on this occasion, this store shouldn't always look unkempt.  For every busy time, there is a lull in the action and that's an opportunity to face product, restock and police the aisles and approach to the store.  Compared to the other Dollar Trees in town, this one is kind of a dump.  A better manager could turn things around.  A better manager ensures the store is clean, presentable and shelves properly stocked.  You know it's a mismanagement issue when one Dollar Tree doesn't have something on your list (S Rock Rd.), but you drive to the next nearby Dollar Tree and they've got what you need (East Lincoln).

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related: Don't pay too much for household cleaning products

Worst Dollar Tree in Wichita?
Messy shelves, dirty floor

 


The Bachelor on the Cheap guide to making wine selection and food pairing easier - Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine FunBy Mike Thayer

This is the second of an ongoing series of wines and food pairings

Wine, it's the perfect beverage for a romantic dinner, a go-to for a casual get-together/party and a holiday meal is complimented by it.  Whether it's a meal for two, a small party for friends or a gathering of family, having the right wine elevates the occasion. 

And while most people follow the basic rule of thumb - red wine for beef and white wine for chicken - selecting the right wine can still be challenging.  What KIND of red for that roast beef?  Or, What KIND of white for that lemon chicken dish?  Does dessert call for a different wine?

The choices are many and can be intimidating, with the reds there's Merlot; Cabernet Sauvignon; Zinfandel; Syrah/Shiraz; Malbec; Pinot Noir; Nebbiolo; Sangiovese; Grenache and all kinds of red blends to choose from.

With the whites there's Chardonnay; Sauvignon Blanc; Moscato; Pinot Grigio; Riesling; Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Torrontes, Albarino and yes, white wine has it's share of blends as well.

So you walk into the liquor store in need of a bottle of wine for a dinner date or special occasion... 

Sure, you can rely on the store attendant to help you with a selection but that can be hit or miss.  A good attendant will ask you if you prefer wines on the sweeter or dryer side and what you might be pairing it with.  But keep in mind the attendant's palate is different than yours, their sweet and dry preferences are different than yours and they might try to push a particular brand on you that's in the store's best interest, not yours.  So why not walk in the store knowing what you need?  That's what this guide is for, to help you with food pairings, what is sweet, what is dry and getting a good wine for under $15 a bottle.  That's the Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly thing to do, get something nice, without paying too much for it.

The first wine and food pairing article featured Merlot.  

Today's featured wine:  Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is THE most popular red out there, yes, even more popular than Merlot and why you see Cabernet Sauvignon selections typically outnumber Merlots 2 - 1 at your local liquor store. Classically paired with lamb dishes, Cabernet Sauvignon is also excellent with venison, a hearty meatball and spaghetti with a rich tomato sauce dinner, steaks on the grill, or pub style burgers.  If you're not into the meat thing, you can appreciate a glass of cab with Portabello mushrooms, braised cabbage or roasted root vegetables.  In pairing with cheese, think sharp cheddar, Gruyere or a baked Camembert.  TIP:  The more full-bodied the wine is - and a Cabernet Sauvignon falls into this category - the stronger the cheese you can pair with it. For dessert, stick with bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate options.  The flavor profile of Cabernet Sauvignon are notes of black cherry, blackberry, black currant, perhaps some veggie notes like green bell pepper and there can be hints of spice and vanilla from the aging in oak barrels.  A cab is higher in acid and has more tannins than a Merlot and that's part of the appeal to cabs, they age well.  Serve Cabernet Sauvignon slightly chilled, at 60 - 65 degrees (refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving). And you've heard the phrase, "Let the wine breathe?"  Decanting serves this wine well (that means pour the wine out of the bottle and into a decanter for those of you who live in Haysville), as decanting helps to soften the strong tannins. 

Noble Vines 337Bachelor on the Cheap Recomendation:  Noble Vines 337 - $10.99.  Here's the description from the Noble Vines website:  This dark, dense, flavorful Cabernet Sauvignon fills the senses with aromas of black cherry, blackberry and peppercorn. Smooth tannins and balanced acidity allow the flavors of black fruit compote, clove and spice, to come through with a lingering finish.

And something to consider, subscribing to a wine club.  Here's one that I've tried and I have to say every bottle I sampled was something I would order again.  WineShop at Home

Next Up in the series:  Zinfandel

$pend Wisely My Friends...


The Bachelor on the Cheap Guide to making wine selection and food pairing easier - Merlot

Wine FunBy Mike Thayer

This is the first of an ongoing series of wines and food pairings

Wine, it's the perfect beverage for a romantic dinner, a go-to for a casual get-together/party and a holiday meal is complimented by it.  Whether it's a meal for two, a small party for friends or a gathering of family, having the right wine elevates the occasion. 

And while most people follow the basic rule of thumb - red wine for beef and white wine for chicken - selecting the right wine can still be challenging.  What KIND of red for that roast beef?  Or, What KIND of white for that lemon chicken dish?  Does dessert call for a different wine?

The choices are many and can be intimidating, with the reds there's Merlot; Cabernet Sauvignon; Zinfandel; Syrah/Shiraz; Malbec; Pinot Noir; Nebbiolo; Sangiovese; Grenache and all kinds of red blends to choose from.

With the whites there's Chardonnay; Sauvignon Blanc; Moscato; Pinot Grigio; Riesling; Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Torrontes, Albarino and yes, white wine has it's share of blends as well.

So you walk into the liquor store in need of a bottle of wine for a dinner date or special occasion... 

Sure, you can rely on the store attendant to help you with a selection but that can be hit or miss.  A good attendant will ask you if you prefer wines on the sweeter or dryer side and what you might be pairing it with.  But keep in mind the attendant's palate is different than yours, their sweet and dry preferences are different than yours and they might try to push a particular brand on you that's in the store's best interest, not yours.  So why not walk in the store knowing what you need?  That's what this guide is for, to help you with food pairings, what is sweet, what is dry and getting a good wine for under $15 a bottle.  That's the Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly thing to do, get something nice, without paying too much for it.

So let's start off with the reds, with today's feature:  Merlot

This is one of the more popular reds and if you're looking for a wine to go with a good steak, Merlot might be for you.  A Merlot is a hearty wine that pairs well with grilled steaks, roast beef, braised lamb and tomato based pastas. If eating lighter fare, a Merlot goes well with bold flavored cheeses, such as a good sharp cheddar, gouda, or a blue cheese such as Gorgonzola.  For dessert lovers, a nice Merlot pairs well with chocolate.  And for those that like a wine on the dryer side, it's a good wine to drink by itself as well. A traditional Merlot is a medium bodied, full flavored red wine the carries fruity notes such as strawberries, raspberries, plum and/or dark cherry.  Serve Merlot slightly chilled at 60 - 65 degrees (refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving).  If you don't finish the bottle, cork it and refrigerate, it's good for up to 4 days.  Just be sure to pull the bottle and let it come up in temp (a refrigerator chills to about 41 degrees) a bit before serving to appreciate the full flavor profile.  If you haven't finished the bottle by the four day mark, cook with it.

Bogle MerlotBachelor on the Cheap Recomendation:  Bogle Merlot - $9.99.  A California wine with notes of plum and dark cherry.

And something to consider, subscribing to a wine club.  Here's one that I've tried and I have to say every bottle I sampled was something I would order again.  WineShop at Home

Next Up in the series:  Cabernet Sauvignon

$pend Wisely My Friends...

 

 


Even at $1.25, Dollar Tree is STILL way cheaper than a mainstream grocery store for household products

By Mike Thayer

20220408_160921Dollar Tree recently raised their prices for the first time since opening 35 years ago.  What used to cost $1, is now $1.25.  I'm a Dollar Tree fan. I like the fact that I can go into a Dollar Tree and find a bargain, such as over-the-door robe/coat hook for $1.25 rather than pay $7 for the very same thing at Ace Hardware. Even with the 25 cent hike, Dollar Tree is still a bargain.

Take my shopping trip today for example.  I was in need of some basic household supplies such as kitchen trash bags, mouthwash, facial tissues and a few other items.  I purchased 7 items and with tax my total was $10.75.  No, nothing I bought was top shelf name brand stuff, but that's the thing, I really don't need name brand items when it comes to household supplies, many of the products available at Dollar Tree perform just as well as the name brand stuff.  I'll take Dollar Tree's Good Sense Kitchen Trash Bags (6 count) for $1.25 over the mainstream grocery store's least expensive kitchen trash bag (12 count) for $4.99.  That breaks down to 20 cents per bag at Dollar Tree vs. 41.5 cents per bag at the mainstream store and there's no difference in product quality.

Aspirin is Aspirin.  Why pay $1.79 for a discount brand 100 tablet bottle at the mainstream store, when I can get a 100 tablet bottle at Dollar Tree for $1.25?  The same thing applies on the other items in my list as well, but to sum, remember that total price for the seven items I purchased from earlier in the article of $10.75 at Dollar Tree?  That same list of similar items and sticking with the store's discount brand would have cost me around $25.72.  

By all means buy your food items at the mainstream store, but think twice about basic household supplies.

Related: Don't pay too much for household cleaning products

$pend Wisely My Friends...


You don't need to spend money on diet programs like Nutrisystem, Slim Fast or Weight Watchers

By Mike Thayer

Turkey Lunch MeatWhy spend money on diet programs like Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, when you can do pretty much all that they offer yourself and far cheaper?

Those weight loss programs, while they do offer some measure of success in losing weight, remember that they're in the diet business to make money. 

Think about it, diet programs like Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, etc., are about adding something to your diet.  They want you to include them in your daily regimen and that means spending money with them. 

You don't need to do that to lose weight.

A good weight loss plan is about the elimination of some foods, not the addition of them.  You shouldn't have to spend extra money to lose weight.  

Don't buy a bunch of overpriced meals, eliminate a few things from your regular grocery list instead.   Scratch the KETO friendly frozen waffles and syrup from your shopping list and don't purchase a bunch of protein bars you wouldn't normally buy, pick up an extra carton of eggs instead.   Don't take money out of your wallet/purse to buy any of those diet shakes that really don't hold you between meals, pick up some lunch meat instead.

"But Mike," you say, "I don't cook, I need those packaged meals to stay on a diet."

No you don't.  If you can convince yourself that buying a bunch of over-priced cardboard boxes is a good weight loss plan, then you can convince yourself that making a few simple adjustments at the grocery store and in the kitchen is an even BETTER weight loss plan.  For the time you put some pre-packaged KETO friendly meal in the microwave, you can scramble up some eggs.  By the time you take the wrapper off an over-priced protein bar, you could already be munching on some deli sliced roast beef and a piece of cheese with a higher protein count.

Forget the Lean Cuisine, ditch the Slim Fast, focus on making a smarter grocery list.   You'll not only lose weight, you'll spend far less money doing it, the Bachelor on the Cheap thing to do.

$pend Wisely My Friends...


Lowe's vs. Home Depot vs. Menard's vs. Sutherland's

By Mike Thayer

FH12APR_527_51_165I recently wrote about a project I'm about to undertake, the construction of some self watering raised bed garden planters!

In doing some shopping homework online before going out and purchasing materials for the project, I checked out pricing at Lowe's, Home Depot, Menard's and Sutherland's.

Here's the materials list:

  • Six 12' 2x6s
  • Three 12' deck boards
  • Two 10' 2x4s
  • One 8' 2x4
  • Four 8' 2x2s
  • 24' of 4" diameter perforated drain pipe with sleeve
  • Pond liner
  • Exterior screws
  • Soiless potting mix
  • 1/2' vinyl tubing for drainage
  • 1" CPVC (fill tube)
  • 4 heavy duty casters
Lumber and other materials
Lumber & other materials/supplies for the planter project

I must admit, Lowe's, although a big box store is one of my favorites.  I always seem to walk out of there having bought more than what was on my list...  Funny how that works huh?  I could spend hours in that place, but if I did, projects wouldn't get done.  But I digress.  Knowing this is going to be a pricey project - have you seen the price of lumber these days? - I looked at all the lumberyards in my neck of the woods to see who would be the least expensive to purchase all the necessary materials from.  Other considerations are availability and product quality.  I know from projects I've done in the past for example, that the quality of wood from Menard's isn't as good as Lowe's or Home Depot.  You really have to pick through the boards to find the good ones.  I've never shopped at a Sutherland's before, so I don't know about the product quality or customer service (Lowe's can be lacking at times in that area) but they're on the radar because they are a much smaller chain than the others, based in Kansas City with just 49 stores mostly in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma - so it's kind of a 'buy regional' thing. As a matter of perspective, Georgia based Home Depot has over 2,300 stores nationwide, North Carolina based Lowe's has 2,000+ stores nationwide and Wisconsin based Menard's trails with 335 stores concentrated in the Midwest.

Back to that materials list, here's the per planter price breakdown:

Coming in the cheapest was Menard's at $397.05, all materials needed were available.

Coming in second in terms of lowest price, Lowe's at $413.08 with all materials needed, available.  I will say however they have the worst online shop, not user friendly and it kept freezing up.  I had to make several attempts - and on different days even! - to finally 'fill' my cart.

Coming in third in terms of lowest price, Home Depot at $421.52, with all materials available.  Home Depot's website provided the best/easiest online shopping experience.

The most expensive store, was the smallest lumberyard chain of the four - Sutherland's.  The project price came in at $432.61 and they did not have the pond liner needed for the project in stock, nor could I order one to have it shipped.

I went shopping with Cindy C - the motivator of this project - earlier this week and we started at Sutherland's and buying regional in mind.  Some of those materials for putting together that first planter (1 of 5 planters to be built, 3 for her, 2 for me) are pictured above.  And while Sutherland's stores their lumber indoors like Home Depot and Lowe's do, we did have to really pick through a lot of boards to get the good ones and they didn't have any decent treated 2x2's to speak of.  We did have to ask for assistance in trying to find a few items which was hit and miss.  One associate pointed us in the right direction, another took us directly to where we needed to go, another gave us entirely wrong information.  The lady at the checkout was kind of rude, as in, she'd rather not be there kind of rude.  Cindy and I walked out of Sutherland's a bit disappointed in both product availability and customer service.  The experience didn't exactly make one eager to keep dollars regional on the next trip.

After picking up a few things, we then ventured to Lowe's to get what remained on the materials list.  We also did some dream shopping in the power tools section...  Cindy has a mitre saw which will come in handy on this project, but she wants a table saw.  I had my eyes on a new drill press.  We found the 12' 2x6's we needed without having to really pick through boards at all and the 2x2's were plentiful.  TIP:  I made the mistake of going for the lumber first, taking the cart and that 12' lumber through a number of aisles and the power tools section presented a challenge at times, avoiding people, displays and other obstacles.  If it were a game and hitting things earned points, I would have scored high.

I'll keep you posted with how the project is going once the building begins.  To sum up the shopping experience, Menard's may be the cheapest but past experience puts product quality in question.  Sutherland's, while initially the preferred lumberyard to shop at, is the most expensive, with the product quality, availability and the customer service a mixed bag of good and bad.  Lowe's, a personal favorite, remains a repeat store to use, a Bachelor on the Cheap recommendation.  Home Depot, not visited on this occasion due to location, becomes a plan B.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related: Building a self watering raised planter bed on wheels

Raised beds on the apartment patio
I love the cedar and corrugated metal look

Related:  What I built for my apartment patio a few years back

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Instacart is only as good as the shopper that's shopping for 'you'...

By Mike Thayer

Instacart Shopping
I got what I ordered... This time...

I've used Instacart for grocery shopping twice now.

The first time was a very bad experience which I did earlier this month, with the person who was doing the shopping for me either not very experienced or just didn't care about making proper substitutions for items I had ordered.  That guy, Jesse was his name, just texted 'Item not available' while he was shopping, dropping things off my list.  And that's the downside to using Instacart, once the shopping starts, you can't alter your order.  I get that, but in this case, the dude shopping on my behalf was CLUELESS!  I'm convinced that if he couldn't find it he said to himself, "Screw it", and didn't ask a Dillon's employee where to find something and he made no effort to substitute.  I got 75% of what was on my list ordering 12 items and receiving 9, which had nothing extravagant on it, ground beef (received one pound out of two pounds ordered), two packages of pepperoni, Parmesan cheese, Kroger store brand pizza sauce (dropped by the shopper), Kroger lunch meats (ham dropped by the shopper) and a few other items.  I paid nearly $50 for two bags of groceries, but received just 75% of what was on my original list.  Part of that nearly $50 included $9.95 for the service and delivery to my home + a tip.  I came away from that experience regretting the use of Instacart.  Jesse the shopper sucked.

But hoping that original experience was an anomaly, I tried Instacart again on 3/23.  I ordered 12 items and yes, received 12 items, with the only alteration to my order being a 5 pound bag of potatoes, switching brands for about the same price based on availability.  I was alerted via text and I was OK with that.  My shopper's name was Jennifer and she obviously knew what she was doing, she filled everything on my list.  There were 12 items in my order totaling $35.58, plus the $9.95 delivery fee, plus the $2.28 tip for a total of $47.81. 

My second experience with Instacart was WAY better than the first, so the use of the service, good or bad does depend entirely on who is doing the shopping for you.

Regarding my first Instacart shopping experience, I did complain, but Instacart didn't respond.  Dillon's did though, giving me a $20 credit on my next in store/pickup/or delivery order.  Thank you Dillon's for caring about your customers.  Instacart, you kind of get the finger here...

So after using Instacart twice now, I can only conclude it would be hit and miss, totally dependent on who is shopping on your behalf, their experience, their familiarity of the store and whether they really care about truly fulfilling your order or not.  With that said and moving forward, I'm only going to use Instacart again if the weather is REALLY bad or for some unforeseen reason I just can't make it to the grocery store.  Using Instacart is NOT worth the $9.95 + tip in my opinion and is NOT worthy of repeat use.  I'm giving Instacart 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  In placing my order just after 2pm, I received my order at 3:45pm.

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...