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Instacart Review

April 1st, 2020 No comments

Joe and I have never used Instacart before, but decided to try it out since between my current health issues and his asthma we’re considered “at risk” (I realize we all are to varying degrees) with this whole Coronavirus debacle (or Covid-19 if you prefer).

The order was placed last week to be delivered this past Tuesday. I like how you can keep adding items to the order until it is fulfilled. Ours kept growing each day as we thought of other things we wanted/needed. We figured we might as well maximize the opportunity to stock up so we don’t have to shop as often.

One thing I didn’t realize until Monday night was that everything defaults to “replace with best match” in case something is out of stock, so I spent time going through each individual item, marking most of them as do not replace.

Over the weekend I read that Instacart workers were going to strike on Monday so we weren’t even sure if our order was going to be completed or not. However, around noon yesterday I got a notification that our order was being shopped (at Aldi, the store we chose since it carries the majority of items we needed).

I was strangely thrilled “watching” the shopper pick out our groceries live on the Instacart website. This qualifies as entertainment these days, I guess.

There were a couple of hiccups, as noted below:

1) The shopper put every canned item (plus some other stuff) in a single bag which made it very heavy. At least one can is dented. Everything was organized and grouped by type, however. Plus she made sure the bread and candy were on top and not crushed.

2) We ordered one cucumber and one zucchini. We got one cucumber and a bag of mini cucumbers. No zucchini. I’ve actually mistaken the two before when not paying attention, so it’s an understandable mistake. I just have no idea what I’m going to do with more cucumber than we need, though.

3) We ordered Aldi’s version of Cinnamon Life but it was out of stock. I marked regular Life as a suitable replacement, but the shopper suggested some type of cereal with berries in it. We didn’t want that, so I tried to just cancel the item altogether but the website wasn’t letting me. I messaged her and asked her to just skip it. She then sent me a picture of the cereal aisle stating she got what I wanted. I couldn’t make the photo on the website any larger to verify, but I took her word for it and said ok. What she actually gave us was Aldi’s version of Rice Chex. Not sure how she confused the items, but we can make due. Also, I learned the Instacart app will let you enlarge photos; now I know for next time (since looking at the photo closer I can tell the shelf didn’t have the cereal she said it did).

4) She wanted to replace a bag of frozen green beans with peas. I hate peas so I requested a refund instead, and since she was in store at the time, she just didn’t buy them. This illustrates my point about not liking the best match option. Had I not caught that I would be stuck with gross peas. I guess I just assumed she’d pick a different green bean, not a whole different vegetable.

5) The delivery window on the order said 2-3 pm but she dropped off our groceries just after 1 pm. Again, no big deal, just noting the difference.

6) I put in the delivery instructions to text me when dropping off the food (to maintain social distancing), but she knocked on the door twice. Turns out she was just doing it to let us know the food was there, but it made me think she was waiting to speak to us, so I ended up opening the door just as she was leaving. We just waved to one another so no big deal.

I pointed out some of the mistakes made (the dented can, no zucchini, and cereal replacement issue) on the website in order to help the shopper with future orders, but still gave her a high rating and tip as I wasn’t looking to punish her. I didn’t request any refunds and labeled my notes as merely helpful feedback. Hopefully she understands my intent when she reads the comments. I also thanked her for her service.

Overall we’re still pretty satisfied given the circumstances. We’d obviously prefer to do our own shopping to maintain control and save money since after Instacart’s markup, delivery fee, service fees, and tip, we paid $30 more than we would have otherwise. Right now it’s worth $30 to minimize our risk of getting sick, though. In normal circumstances, however, I wouldn’t bother with Instacart. It has it’s place, but for able-bodied frugal people such as ourselves, it’s normally not worth the markup.

Categories: Retail Experiences, Shopping Tags:

Mariano’s

April 15th, 2019 Comments off

The highlight of our weekend was a trip to Mariano’s on Saturday. We rarely go there, but decided to check it out since ham was on sale. Their bakery section is amazing, and I couldn’t resist a strawberry rhubarb pie for only $4. It didn’t have as much filling as the Bakers Square pie, but it was tastier and a 3rd of the price. I definitely need to keep Mariano’s in mind for future parties due to all the yummy cakes, cookies, and pastries they have. Their prices are pretty reasonable too. Maybe not as much on the produce, but on a lot of other things. We ended up grabbing a deli sandwich and a cup of cream of chicken soup from their soup bar to take home for lunch. The soup in particular was really good!

Categories: Food, Shopping Tags:

Two Weekends of Movies, Dogs, and Apple Stuff

April 8th, 2019 Comments off

Last Saturday (03/30) we saw Us with both my brothers (and R) and afterwards they came back to the house to hang out for a bit. The movie was… ok. I don’t agree with those who have said it was better than Get Out, but I would like to see it a second time to see what I missed the first time around.

Joe has been traveling for work a lot, so he took a Friday and Monday off so we could have a three day weekend together.

Friday (04/05) we saw Shazam which is hands down the best DC movie I’ve seen yet. I really didn’t care for Wonder Woman or Aquaman (so cheesy and just bad), but Shazam was interesting and humorous. I was shocked to find out, as we sat down in the theater, that it was over two hours long, though. I found the beginning a bit slow, but overall the pacing was good. After the movie we had lunch at Anyways and I got the shrimp avocado tacos again which were delicious just like last time. Joe was going to get the meatloaf but our total wouldn’t have been enough to use our $5 off coupon, so he changed it to beef stew. After the waitress walked away I noticed the coupon was only good Sun-Thu so I told him he should change it to the meatloaf but he decided to give the beef stew a try anyway and ended up really liking it. I got to try some and I agree it was delicious. When we were finished eating the waitress asked about the coupon (I had told her I had one earlier before I realized it wasn’t good) and I told her the issue. She honored it anyway which was nice!

Saturday (04/06) we spent some time hanging out with K and her dog at her house. We ordered Thai food for lunch. I was surprised to learn she likes Pad Se Ew just like me since she’s very much about eating plain food. After lunch we took the dogs for a walk since it was so nice outside. Once we got home from K’s house, Joe cleaned his car and I did a little light cleaning since I skipped it Friday. I like feeling accomplished, and keeping on top of household tasks helps. I also backed up my phone in preparation for an Apple Store visit on Sunday to replace the battery now that Apple supposedly allows this even with third party batteries installed. I couldn’t get a representative online to confirm this, however, so a visit to the store was necessary.

Sunday (04/07) we arrived at the Apple store before they officially opened at 11 am, which was my appointment time, so we walked to the Starbucks nearby for Joe to grab a drink. It was raining out which stinks since temperature-wise it was nice out, and the store is part of an outdoor mall, but we had umbrellas so it wasn’t too bad. The Apple genius confirmed they do now replace third party batteries, but they can’t do it unless the battery is at 50% or lower. Well, thanks for telling me that ahead of time! My battery was at 98% since I had charged it that morning. They offered to take it in the back and replace the battery once it ran down, but I was not having that. Instead, I turned the screen to always on, at maximum brightness, turned on the flashlight, and starting playing Tsum Tsum. We left the store and went to a food court area while I drained the battery. It only took about 45 minutes because the battery sucks. So much so, that once it hit 48% the phone just shut off (it has been doing that for about a month now). So back to the store we went to have them replace the battery. That took another half hour so we spent that time wandering the mall. All total it took two hours of our time because they can’t warn you about this stuff beforehand. Infuriating. Luckily we didn’t have other plans that day at least.

On the way home we stopped at a new to us BBQ place called Fire Water BBQ. I was stoked about their prices, but the food itself left much to be desired. They have five different sauces and I only barely liked one. The brisket was dry and bland and the sweet potato fries were too sweet (they sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar). Won’t be going back there.

At home I did a little shifting of some clothes in the closet and Joe went through some of his t-shirts and jeans. Between the two of us, we had a garbage bag full of clothing to donate.

Today we made a point to get up early (6:15 am) to help get us back on schedule for work tomorrow. We did some grocery shopping before going to Savers. Joe wanted to look at hoodies and I wanted some long t-shirts to go with my leggings and a dress to wear to a friend’s wedding. We struck out on all fronts, although I did get too long-sleeved shirts I liked.

We also stopped by the park district to purchase an annual pass for the dog park since it’s finally starting to get warm enough for us to go there again. Haven’t been there since November, but this year I decided not to wait until July to buy the pass at half price since we should get a lot of trips in prior to that.

We decided to grab lunch at Chilis which we both enjoyed. They have some really nice $8 and $9 lunches and it didn’t cost us anything out of pocket thanks to our Discover cash back rewards. I’m surprised we don’t go to Chilis more often since we’ve liked everything we’ve ordered the last two times we’ve eaten there. Speaking of Discover cashback, we used those rewards to get an Old Navy gift card on Sunday because Joe founds some light-weight hoodies there he liked. Gotta love that!

After lunch we came home and I took Wookie for a walk while Joe straightened up his side of the garage a bit. There’s more to be done, and my side needs a decluttering again as well. I plan on getting rid of two aquariums and all the hamster-related stuff I have because if I do get small pets in the future it will be rats, not a stupid hamster. Might as well clear the space all the hamster stuff is currently taking up!

I also worked out on the elliptical which makes three days in a row. I really want to lose some weight before the summer because I feel too lumpy in all the wrong places.

Categories: Friends, Movies, Shopping, Tech Tags:

New Years & My Birthday

January 9th, 2019 Comments off

We don’t really do anything special on New Years Day and this year was no exception. In fact, I was in bed when it hit midnight, although I did hear fireworks going off. We decided to make ribs on the grill but unfortunately they were on too long and ended up getting burnt so we grabbed burgers from Culvers instead.

As for my birthday, I put too much pressure on myself to have fun even though winter birthdays suck. Usually it’s super cold out but this time around it was raining all day and I just felt like garbage. We ran some errands, including a trip to Savers were Joe found three t-shirts and I found nothing. Ugh! We also sold some old computer games and K’s old copy of Twilight on DVD to Half Price Books. I bet Joe they’d give us a whole $1.50 for everything and that’s exactly what they offered us. Better than nothing if we had donated them at least. We had lunch at Red Robin where they burned my burger so they are now on my shit list. Overall it was a disappointing day and I’m glad it’s over. I did get a monster green tea lemonade for free from Starbucks, though. They put the free drink in the app on on your actual birthday. I ordered a Venti but the girl said I could get a Trenta which is 32 oz so that was pretty cool. I drank some that day and then drained the ice and had the rest between yesterday and today.

Over the weekend we had a black wire rack delivered from Amazon and reorganized our little food stockpile we had going on upstairs in the former rat room which is now more like Joe’s office slash storage room. We also went through the closet in there to get rid of some things. It’s amazing to me we keep finding things to purge. The hall closet is now emptier too which I like. I hate having any space filled to the brim with stuff. Joe got me a three-drawer organizer for my birthday which I’m using to store all our tea in the kitchen cabinet. Not only is that cabinet more pleasant to look at now that it’s less crowded, but having easy access/sight to the tea has encouraged me to drink it more frequently.

Oh, and with our new shelving upstairs I took some things from the pantry and moved them upstairs so the pantry is less crowded as well. Menards had bins on sale so I got some to help make things look nicer in there as well. We went to another Menards so I could get more but they were all out of stock which was a bummer. I might go to another location later this week to get some more since they are a great size for other things too.

I might come back here and post photos if I can get them in good light later this week, so maybe stay tuned? Like anyone reads this except me.

Categories: Holidays, Shopping Tags:

Korean Fried Chicken

December 10th, 2018 Comments off

This weekend I wasn’t in the mood to look at Christmas lights (as originally planned) so we didn’t do much in the way of “fun” even though we still enjoyed ourselves. Joe was in Denver again during the week so I made crockpot chicken taco soup on Friday (12/07) since I knew he’d want something home cooked.

Saturday (12/08) we did a crap ton of grocery shopping hitting a total of five stores in the morning. I found this awesome mint Oreo hot chocolate at Meijer. Can’t wait to try it!

I also picked up a $2.89 bottle of Moscato from Aldi at a coworker’s suggestion.

Unfortunately, I didn’t care for it, although it’s better than most wines I’ve had. I’m thinking of getting some fruits and turning it into sangria.

That being said, I had a total brain fart and forgot to buy a ham when we were at Meijer so we ran back over there on Sunday (12/09) morning before going to Costco. Then we came home and had breakfast before heading out to Schaumburg to do a little more shopping. I wanted to go to Bed Bath & Beyond for a placemat for Wookie since I saw they carried them online. Had a 20% off coupon so the one I picked out was just over $5.

Isn’t it cute? I was so happy to find something small since her bowls really don’t take up much space.

I purchased a few plastic hinged pill containers from The Container Store to replace the screw-on lid ones I had been using. I keep xanax in one and melatonin in another and they are so squeaky and annoying to open which I do daily for the melatonin so I’m so happy to have the new containers.

I also got two of the larger ones to keep pain relievers in upstairs. It’s the little things, seriously.

We hit a few other stores just to look around (At Home, Michaels, and Home Goods) before deciding to look for somewhere to eat lunch. We just so happened to be in the same strip mall as a new Korean fried chicken place called Bonchon. We tried their chicken strips in half soy garlic and half spicy and both flavors were delicious! They came with some very delicious creamy coleslaw. I’m pretty picky when it comes to coleslaw but theirs was awesome. We also shared an order of their Bulgogi (marinated rib-eye) tacos which were also very yummy. They only give you chopsticks which was a bit challenging at first but we got the hang of it well enough. I was going to ask if they had forks, but no one else was using them so we stuck with the chopsticks. Interestingly enough, the music playing inside the restaurant was all hip hop and rap and while I don’t go out of my way to listen to that genre, I wasn’t hating it.

I wanted to try the pork buns but Joe was hesitant so maybe next time now that he knows the place makes good food.

Today (12/10) I got it in my head that I should do a deep clean of the master bedroom so while all the bedding was being washed I used the shop vac to vacuum the mattress and topper, cleaned the blinds, and also threw the drapes in the wash. I used the shop vac to clean behind furniture too. It’s safe to say the bedroom is cleaner than it’s been in a long time. I am interested to see if it helps us sleep better. Last night I actually slept from 10:30 until almost 8 am. Lately I can’t seem to sleep past 6 am so that was refreshing, although it might mess me up for bed tonight. I hope not!

Oh, on Friday I decided to sign up for the three month trial of Spotify Premium for 99 cents and so far I am liking it better than Pandora. Earlier today I was looking at a list of all the albums released this year and saw that a few of my favorite artists (Orbital, Moby, Owl City, and deadmau5) have new music out so I created a big playlist of music to listen to this week at work. We’re also having steaks for dinner which we almost never do so yea, life is good.

Categories: Food, Shopping Tags: