I could not contain my excitement when I learned about Costco and Aldi grocery delivery in my area. I immediately checked it out and gave it a try. Instacart is the service used by Costco and Aldi here in Southern California. Ralphs, Stater Bros., Smart & Final, and Petco are also available through Instacart here, but I don’t really shop those stores.
Much like Fresh, I was able to choose my delivery time. There is no option for attended or unattended, so you probably want to be there when your groceries are delivered. Items are packaged in store bags, for which you will be charged here in California. Costco items are as is or in boxes, just like at the store. Drivers are independent contractors, so tips are appreciated but not required. Mine did a super job and I want them to keep on doing it, so I tip. This is where there is a big difference with Fresh. Instacart delivery is $5.99 for orders over $35, or $9.99 for under, plus a 10% “service charge”. I tip another 10-15%. There are monthly plans for various amounts of free delivery. The Starter plan, for $79 a year, offers 2 free deliveries over $35 per month. TheBasic, at $149 per year, includes 4 free deliveries over $35 per month. For unlimited free deliveries over $35, choose the Unlimited Plan, for $199 a year.
One thing I like about Instacart is the personal shoppers. I get a text when they start and when they are on the way to deliver. If the store is out of an item, I get a text that it was refunded. I can then approve that and request a substitute. I can also text my shopper if I feel I need to clarify anything. My shoppers did an excellent job of picking out produce. My only complaint is that the ice cream was a bit melted. So one thing to be aware of.
One thing that can be confusing on the site is the way you order your produce. Be very careful in reading the description. I don’t have it completely figured out yet. If produce is loose and priced per pound, sometimes they will put a price per piece at the top and per pound in tiny numbers underneath. This is where I have trouble. I think you just order per piece. Bagged produce is priced per bag, with a reference to what the per pound price is. You cannot break up a bag, so that is simpler. I am doing most of my fresh produce at the local farmer’s market now, anyway. Delivery of my other items frees up the time for me to walk over and enjoy the market.
As with Fresh, most items are marked up a bit. There are items on sale and coupon items. The advantage is that you can check it all out as you shop online instead of driving from store to store. You can also get rewards points that count towards cash back and free delivery.
No, I am not getting any compensation for this review. But if you would like to try Instacart for yourself, we can each earn $10 if you sign up through this link: Instacart and enter referral code: RDOLAN19F11D.
My first Amazon Fresh Grocery Delivery was very exciting! I got to choose my delivery time of 8-9 in the morning and with attended delivery, which means someone has to be there. They also offer unattended delivery. When the postal service truck drove up and I saw my bags sitting there I got goosebumps. The fact that Fresh is delivered by USPS in this area means no tipping. Which is great. Because they are paid well and have benefits and stuff. It’s not like it’s a private driver who’s an independent contractor.
My food arrived in good condition. One broken egg, one broken lid on a smart water bottle, but didn’t lose much out of the bottle. So I’m okay with that. I love the way it was packaged. Insulated bags for all the perishables.
The ice cream was packaged in an insulated bag with dry ice.
The other perishables were packaged in an insulated bag with cold packs.
The smart water and tortillas were in a large paper bag. It did get wet, so I don’t know if they’ll re-use it. I love the packaging because I can just leave it out and the USPS driver will pick it up if he comes back by. Or I can leave it out on my next delivery and he will pick it up. Either way. Dad’s disappointed because now we can’t go running around shopping. But my goal is to get him to go out with me in the RV. Short trips, camping at the beach and stuff. So maybe he will do that now to get out of the house.
Prices are comparable to supermarket and Costco. My advice is to know your prices because some things are substantially more. It might be worth going to Costco or your local supermarket for their sales. For instance, microwave popcorn from Costco is about 23 cents a bag. The brand available for that price on Amazon Fresh was out of stock and the other options were more than twice that. So watch the sale flyers for your favorite stores. Grocery delivery does take some pre-planning because there are some things on Amazon Fresh, for instance, that are out of stock, or not available until a posted date. So you want to keep a grocery list so that you can order before you’re out of something or before you really need it.
Amazon fresh is a membership service with Amazon Prime. For $14.99 a month you get unlimited delivery on orders over $40 (now $50). I don’t know about you, but with 5 adults (4 plus a teen boy) to feed, I can easily order over $50 a week. Also, you don’t have to subscribe to the membership and you can just pay $9.99 per delivery if your order is under $50. Not too bad, especially if it’s going to take you a couple of hours shopping.
Vons also has grocery delivery available in my area. It’s $20. I haven’t tried them yet, but their website says the first delivery is free. After that, it says they have weekly coupons for lower-priced or free delivery so you can get their meats and vegetables for their weekly sale prices. Check your favorite grocery store and see if they have delivery.
My other favorite is Sprouts, but they don’t have delivery. So I’m thinking a once a month run to Costco and once to Sprouts to hit their Wednesday double sale should make my life much easier.
I have been looking at Amazon Fresh for a couple of years now, but we’ve been on the road, in “middle-of-nowhere” towns, mostly. So it hasn’t been a viable option for us. A week or so ago I read that Amazon bought Whole Foods market and so I decided to give them another look. Just like anywhere else, you’ve got your stuff that’s overpriced and your stuff that’s competitively priced. And your screamin’ deals. So you’ve gotta know what you’re shopping for. You can read the labels on most of the items on the Amazon Fresh website, so you can check for undesirable ingredients. And if you can’t read the label, you can pass on that item. Also, I had them pick out some lettuce for me and I got a beautiful, crispy, fresh head of romaine. I was very happy with that.
A couple of things I dislike about Southern California are the traffic and the heat. So grocery delivery is a lifesaver for me. Also, the best time to run errands around here is 10am-2pm. That’s also my best creative and working time. I really need my working hours. It’s hard to get them with my grandsons here several days a week and taking care of my dad and supervising my high schooler’s schoolwork. Getting my working time in is really important. So grocery delivery is a real game changer.
Cooking from scratch is easy! Throw this Easy Potato Soup in the crock pot in the morning and it’s ready for dinner when you get home from work. Or whatever.
When we filmed The Potato Soup Movie for YouTube, it seemed to only make sense to put it here in writing, as well. I am including a number of things here that clarify and add to the info in the video. Proportions are for a 6 quart crock pot.
Easy Potato Soup
8 large (about 5 pounds) potatoes, any variety
1 large onion
5 large cloves garlic
2 quarts bone broth or chicken stock
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or fat from bone broth
water to cover ingredients
milk, heavy cream, or half and half (enough to thin blended soup to desired consistency)
Dice potatoes into bite-sized pieces and put them in the crock pot. I leave the skins on but you can peel them if desired. Add bone broth, set crock pot to high. Peel and slice the onion very thin or dice. Peel and coarsely chop garlic. Saute onion and garlic in butter until translucent. It is okay for it to be slightly browned or caramelized. Add to crock pot. Add water to cover all ingredients. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.
When potatoes are soft, turn off the crock pot. Soup will stay very hot for at least an hour.
You can eat the soup just as it is or make it creamy.
To cream the soup, ladle or spoon potatoes and a bit of broth into blender container. Fill about half way. Be careful, as you don’t want to shock a cold container and have it crack or shatter. Let the potatoes cool a minute or so and slowly add about a cup of milk or cream. Place lid on blender container and blend at high speed about 30-60 seconds, until creamy. Return mixture to crock pot and repeat until soup is as creamy as you like. If you run out of milk or do not like dairy, chicken broth or water can be used. Use less milk if soup is not thick enough. Stir well and serve.
One important thing I left out of the video: add-ins. Some of these could even be added into the soup while it is cooking. Sour cream, chives, and bacon make a particularly nice “Loaded Baked Potato Soup”. Put some of these on the side for people to choose from.
Cloth produce bags are an old idea whose time has returned. They are simple and sanitary. You can keep a dozen on hand and they take up barely any space. Produce stays fresher and mold-free for longer. They can be used damp or dry, depending on what you are storing. They go in the fridge, on the counter, in the pantry or cupboard.
Cloth produce bags come in many sizes. You can even make them yourself and customize your size. You can use a cotton kitchen towel and forget all about the bags. But we’re focusing on bags, here. On the homestead, wherever we happen to be, we use plain muslin bags, with no ties, approximately 12″x14″.
wash bags in hot, soapy water and air or tumble dry
place in fridge or cupboard
when empty, turn inside out and wash in hot, soapy water…
That’s it! For leafy greens, you may want to keep the bag damp, depending on your storage conditions. I find that keeping greens in a damp bag makes them stay crispy longer. I usually wash them and put them in the (dry) bag, still wet. Then I dampen it under the faucet when it dries out.
What kind of produce can you keep in a produce bag?
Any kind! Okay, just about. Berries are kind of messy and should be kept in a bowl. Cut tomatoes, beets, prepared salads, and such should probably also be kept in bowls. Most whole fruits and vegetables can be kept in cloth produce bags. Unless the fruit flies are about, I keep most whole fruits in a large bowl on the counter. A basket in the pantry holds potatoes, onions, hard squash, and garlic. Greens and most other veggies go in the produce bags in the refrigerator.
Homemade Vitamin C was today’s project. The urban homestead has a lemon tree and a grapefruit tree, so we have lots of raw material. We have never used any pesticides on the trees, so this stuff will be all organic! I have always felt wasteful throwing all those peels away. To find out I could have been making Vitamin C, among other things, out of them, made me very happy.
We eat grapefruit every morning, so afterward, I take the peels and scrape out the remaining fruit and membrane, leaving the white pith.
Then I slice the peels very thin and lay them on a baking sheet. When I have a full sheet (not more than a day or two) I turn the warming oven on to 150F and dry them for an hour or 2. Then I turn the oven off and leave them in there while it cools. After all that, if the peels are crispy and snap when I break them, I go on to the next step. If not, I repeat the drying process.
Here in Southern California, the humidity is such that if the peels sit for too long, they start to mold. So drying them in the oven is a must.
Next, the dried peels are placed in the high-speed blender and ground as fine as it will get them. This is fairly powdery, but there do remain a few chunks. I put the powder into a pint or quart jar and add a paper napkin or small piece of paper towel, to absorb any moisture.
This is a new project, so I am not sure if mold is going to be a problem. My sources say the powder should last about 3 months on the shelf and 6 months in the freezer. Hopefully, I will get enough made to last from final harvest to the following season’s first fruits.
I stir a teaspoon of this into my carrot juice in the morning. Sometimes 2t if I have a cold. Seems to work great. The rest of the family is not excited about the taste, so I am going to mix it with some raw honey and make little pills for them to try.