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Costco and Aldi Grocery Delivery

costco groceries
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.

costco instacart

Cost

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.

aldi groceries

Personal Shoppers

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.

aldi instacart

Bugs

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.

 

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Amazon Fresh Grocery Delivery

amazon fresh grocery delivery

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.

broken egg fresh     cracked smart water lid fresh

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.

fresh ice cream dry ice

The ice cream was packaged in an insulated bag with dry ice.

fresh ice packs     fresh cooler

The other perishables were packaged in an insulated bag with cold packs.

fresh paper bag

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.

fresh groceries

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.

fresh meat veg dairy eggs

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.

fresh reuse

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.

 

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Pompeii

 pompeii
The 2014 movie Pompeii is great historical fiction. I have found movies to be a great tool to use in the homeschool. Especially historical fiction.

Pompeii got the boy and me (and his older brother!) discussing the AD79 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. We talked about how volcanoes work. We discussed other events of the era. The persecution of the early Christians. The historian Pliny the Younger, who witnessed the event from his Uncle Pliny the Elder’s villa across the Bay of Naples.

The boys, of course, were fascinated by the whole gladiator thing. I love to scrutinize the costumes and settings. And so many ways to die as a volcano erupts. Even though we knew the real ending, we couldn’t help but hope for survivors.

Despite the goofs in period accuracy and geography, we enjoyed Pompeii. It made for good discussion and fun escape.

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Jackson Stables Trail Ride, Estes, CO

trail ride

Trail rides are a great way to enjoy horseback riding. Especially if you don’t have time, money or facilities to own your own horse. Well kept grounds and large paddocks characterize Jackson Stables. Uniquely located in the YMCA camp complex in Estes Park, CO and right outside Rocky Mountain National Park, it is an ideal spot to begin a trail ride. Confident, well-trained guides pair visitors with well groomed, stout and healthy looking horses. Each with a unique personality and good temperament.

Our guide, Liz, was a friend of my daughter from college, who was working at the stables for the summer. Guests can ride, rain or shine. As a matter of fact, guides are trained to deal with the frequent summer storms. Additionally, horses carry rain slickers for guests. Moreover, several areas are earmarked for waiting out inclement weather. Apparently, the horses are used to such situations. Liz told us that they rarely have a problem during the storms.

My daughter’s ride was Otis, a stunning black and white paint, for the more experienced rider. Not only do horses pick up on nervousness and inexperience but some will also see how much they can get away with. Of course, Otis picked up on her confidence and performed flawlessly.

Likewise, Yak drew Dallas, a slow, deliberate buckskin. His only mischief was grabbing mouthfuls of the tall grass growing alongside the trail.

In contrast, my mount was John. John was in much more of a hurry than anyone else. Apparently, our trail ride interrupted his break. While the first half of the trail was fine, John seemed to sense when I got tired. As a result, he decided to have a little fun with me. Almost before my legs got tired of holding on, seems like his trot became more like a bouncy room. With no padding. After a few trots, John and I came to a compromise and I was able to survive the rest of the ride. I definitely need to ride more often.

For the most part we enjoyed  partial cloud cover and temps in the mid-seventies. The trail through Rocky Mountain National Park winds through pine and aspen groves, past streams and waterfalls and along some spectacular view points.

Although Jackson Stables is located in the YMCA camp, YMCA membership is not necessary to use the facilities. The 2-hour ride is $55 per person. They accept credit cards. Tip the guide with cash.

Jackson Stables, Inc.
YMCA of the Rockies Livery
Allen and Julie Jackson, Owners
PO Box 20549
Estes Park, CO 80511

SUMMER PHONE:
(970) 586-3341,
ext. 1140/1149

WINTER PHONE:
(970) 586-6748
(Nov.1 – March 3)

FAX:
(970) 577-1401

EMAIL:
info@JacksonStables.com

 

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Wild Fermentation

cover_wildfermentation

Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz

I love to preserve my homegrown bounty and I have also wondered how it was done before the advent of water bath and pressure canning in the 1800’s. Certainly people preserved foods long before rubber canning seals were invented. Sandor Katz digs deep into ancient preservation methods – primarily fermenting, and provides answers and most importantly, methods for this nutritious way of preserving.

From sauerkraut to sourdough, beer to yogurt, the history, culture that invented it and method of each type of ferment is explored. Katz supplies many anecdotes, both from his own family history and from the groups he studied to illustrate the fermenting process and even the enjoyment of the finished product. Some methods are complicated at best, but most ferments are surprisingly simple and Katz shares many recipes for fermenting and enjoying veggies, dairy, grains, and of course, beer and wine.

Health benefits of fermented foods are also explained and given new value. Dozens of recipes include: basic brining, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, yogurt, farmer’s cheese and sourdough starter. Anyone looking for new/old ways to preserve food, while retaining as much of the nutrients as possible and making it more easily digestible, will find this book most informative and entertaining.

published in 2003 by Chelsea Green Publishing
90 recipes
208 pages
$20 www.wildfermentation.com

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