Friday, March 3, 2023

February Amazon Grocery Haul



I tend to buy an odd assortment of stuff from Amazon from month to month, I have to say.  There are some things that I just plain buy from Amazon regularly (like for instance, I tend to buy my Chewable children's Benadryl from Amazon when they have it as it is MUCH cheaper than buying it at my local stores) because my stores don't have it available or because Amazon just beats local prices by large amounts.  This is definitely one of those hauls.

So, what did I buy?  Let's break it down 

(Quick warning:  This post contains affiliate links to the products when possible.  If you order the products through these links I'll get a small commission from Amazon for pushing the sale their way.  This will not cost you any extra to do and helps to support the blog a bit.  If you do purchase through these links, thank you!).

Well, first, I actually ordered more than this but Amazon back ordered some things that I just plain ended up cancelling or reordering because it was quicker to get through a third party seller or something.  For instance I originally ordered this olive oil, but it just would not ship and just kept getting delayed (it is a good deal, though, as it is imported from Italy and is 50% off with a coupon code), so I gave up and just cancelled the order.  Instead I got this one on subscribe and save instead.  It actually came, which was a nice change of pace!  I'm trying to start buying things like olive oil in tins instead of in plastic bottles for the sake of the tins being opaque (so the light doesn't get to the oil) and they tend to come packed in a couple of nice thick boxes to avoid them getting too damaged where the plastic bottles I have LITERALLY gotten in from Amazon with a shipping label slapped onto the bottle itself and mailed.  Amazon is great that way.  You have no idea what you are going to get when you order from them.

By the way, to get the Subscribe and Save discount you have to order five or more things to be delivered on your delivery date in a month to get the best deals.  After the items get to you in your order (if you don't want them on a continual rotation, which I never do), just go to "Subscribe and Save Items" under your Amazon account, go to the "subscriptions" tab under Subscribe and Save and then just click one item at a time and go down to the very bottom of the screen to "cancel subscription".  I always pick "Other" as a reason for cancelling the items and voila.  No worries about getting items shipped to you that you don't want six months down the line (I always order items on a six month rotation, just in case I forget to cancel my subscription for a little bit).  Another thing that ordering your Subscribe and Save items fresh every month does for you is if there is a coupon for your first Subscribe and Save order only, you'll be able to take advantage of those coupons (sometimes up to like 20% off of the already reduced price) where if you had it on rotation, you wouldn't be able to use the coupon since you already had an order in for it.

Right, so let's break down the items I got (I'm including the Subscribe and Save amounts that I bought them for after the discounts apply).

Colavita Oilve Oil, 101 fl oz tin.  This is now a bit cheaper than when I got it (as of 3/2/23 anyway).  It was 25.54 when I got mine.  We go through a lot of olive oil around here as my son eats it on pasta nearly every day.  

Always Pads, Ultra Thin, Size 2 Long Super Absorbency 126 ct (2).  I got these on a buy 1, get 1 50% off sale, so I ended up spending 27.73 after the sale and the Subscribe and Save discounts were applied.  This is enough feminine care products to last us for quite a while, so I was happy to get them on sale.

Guittard Baking Wafers, Milk Chocolate, 12 oz bag  I was able to get these for 14.98 (other types of Guittard chocolate wafers are cheaper than the current price listed on this one right now if you search for it).  I know that this is expensive, but this is a peanut free chocolate (made in a peanut free facility) and while I was sick through Valentine's Day, I still want to make my kids some chocolate goodies (better late than never).  So, I got these as I can't find them at my local store right now.

Gold Medal Self Rising Flour, 5 lb.  I don't live in the South, obviously, where it seems self rising flour is really easy to find.  I wanted to get some to make biscuits with, but self rising flour here, if you can find it (which ain't easy it seems) is like 8.00 per bag and making my own just gave me some inconsistent results (not sure why).  So, I ordered one through Amazon for 3.42 after Subscribe and Save discount.  Not pictured as I put it into a plastic bag to avoid anymore flour spilling out as it was not in a bag when it was shipped, so I forgot to put it back in the picture.

Wholesome Organic Cane Sugar, 10 lbs.  Yup, this is an odd one to order from Amazon, I'll admit.  But, after Subscribe and Save Discounts were applied (you get 15% off with five items added onto your order), it comes down to 9.89 for 10 lbs of sugar.  I know that 4 lb bags of sugar at my store have gotten RIDICULOUSLY expensive, so it was actually cheaper for me to get 10 lbs of organic sugar then getting 8 lbs of non-organic sugar.  The world is nuts.

LorAnn Bakery Emulsions, Peppermint, 4 fl oz).  I was able to get this on Subscribe and Save, which brought the price at the time down to 4.74.  I couldn't find peppermint extract at the store and wanted it to make cookies, so this is what I got instead (alcohol containing items, like extracts, don't ship to Alaska, so bakery emulsions are a good way to get around that).  True to form with Amazon, I got a bottle that was missing the cap out of the blue.  Why?  Who knows!  The safety seal was perfect, but no cap.  I would have returned it and complained, but I had a cap off of another bottle that would work (I couldn't believe it when it happened as that was a long shot).  I did complain, though, as that is kind of ridiculous.

French's Crispy Onions, 24 oz bag.  Cheaper than a smaller bag at my local store, I wanted to get some of these to make Swedish hot dogs and a few other things with.  They were 8.25 after Subscribe and Save discount.

Amazon Basic Care Esomeprazole with Magnesium, 42 ct..  My husband takes this medication daily for his acid reflux, so I tend to buy this pretty often from Amazon when it is on sale.  42 caplets cost me 6.36 after Subscribe and Save discounts were applied.  This is way cheaper than the 30.00 to 40.00  this would have cost me at my local stores.

Clear Book Tape, 15 yard roll, 1 inch.  Book tape is something that when you need it, you need it.  Book tape is acid free tape, so you don't have to worry about it slowly eating your books that you repair with it.  I got some because my little embroidery book that was my great grandma's has always had a binding that was coming off, but it is getting worse and trying to lose pages,  So, I got this and some book glue (not shown) to try and repair the little book as it is really precious to me.  It cost me 9.85 after discounts were applied.

Tempered Glass Screen Protector for iPad Mini, 1st generation.  My son finally managed to spiderweb a screen protector.  I was impressed that the iPad mini wasn't damaged.  Alvah's been REALLY hard on things the last bit, so I ordered this and a really heavy duty case to replace his current one as well.  The screen protector got here first, so I put that on so the iPad was able to get back in service for a bit until the case gets picked up.  I paid regular 8.88 price for this, but it came in at the same time as the Subscribe and Save order, so they threw it into the same box and it ended up in the photo.

32 pack Friskies wet cat food variety pack, 16.09 after subscribe and save discount and a coupon for 5.75 off on the full price.  It isn't available right now, but I know how hard it is to find cat food at the stores at the moment, so if you need cat food, keep checking Amazon as they do get it in and it does go on sale decently cheap (at least by Alaska standards).  This is one of those items I've been buying from Amazon a LOT as it has been darned near impossible to find cat food at the local stores (dry food is also something I've been getting from Amazon).  Not pictured as my husband dropped the box when getting it out of the car and dented a bunch of the cans horribly, so we were doing triage work with cat food cans and didn't get them into the photo.

Organic Chia Seeds, 2 lbs.  This seems like another odd one doesn't it?  I got these for two reasons.  One, the son's PICA is back of late and since he's eating cardboard, I thought he might eat chia seeds again (as he likes to eat dirt and the texture raw is similar since they are so tiny) and get some added nutrition into his diet instead of eating non-food items.  I also ordered these because I can use them as an egg extender by making chia eggs to use in baking (it's like 1 TBS chia seeds to 3 TBS's been a while, so I'll have to look it up to be sure.  For 2 lbs, after discounts, I paid 9.34.  This was another one that I couldn't seem to find locally at the stores.

And last but not least (also not pictured) is...

Willow Garlic Ear Oil.  This stuff is great and a now essential thing I keep in my house.  The Prudent Homemaker/Brandy turned me onto this stuff years ago.  It has staved off many an ear infection for my kids.  I actually used up nearly all of my old bottle helping Alvah with his discomfort with an ear infection earlier in the year, so when this stuff came available again (it seems like it comes into stock and then is sold out EVERYWHERE online for months at a time), I used my Amazon Associate fees from the last few months (THANK you to those who order through my associate links!  I truly appreciate it!!!) to buy a new bottle to have in the house.  It is currently 14.39, which is actually a bit cheaper than I paid for it (I paid 14.99 through the seller I ended up getting it through), but worth every penny!

So, my total spent for my haul for the month was 140.31 (after Amazon Associates fees paid for the ear oil and gave me an additional tiny bit toward my groceries).

I've been doing a big grocery order/trip one week and then the next week I'll try to aim for anything we've run out of (like Alvah essentials) and milk for the next week.  We get paid every two weeks, so this has worked pretty well for being able to use some of the money from the "light week" of grocery shopping to buy things in bulk or pick up things from Amazon and such.  It is the only way, really, that I beat inflation in a lot of ways.  I'll go into some more tips later on, but this is one way I'm trying to get things at a good cost (or get them at all) with the resources I have available to me right now :).

Hope this was interesting if nothing else.  Enjoy folks!

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

March Goals and Doings

March.  In like a lion, out like a lamb.  When it comes to weather, here's hoping for everyone' sakes.

But, hey, enjoy the shots of the "Bob Ross-esque" sunset we had one night.  I guess we'll be getting sunsets that are quite spectacular for at least a few years due to all of the stuff that got thrown into the atmosphere due to the Hunga Tonga volcanic eruptions the last few years.  

Side note:  If you want to see a movie of heartbreak, survival and human endurance, I can't recommend the movie Krakatoa The Last Days enough (warning can, and probably will, make you cry).  It is based on real accounts from Krakatoa and it really teaches you a lot about volcanoes while you watch as well.   It is definitely worth a watch and is really well done.

Anyway, yeah, volcanoes.  Crazy stuff, but it leads to lots of stuff getting thrown into the atmosphere that leads to pretty sunsets and things.  

February was really busy with meetings for Alvah for all of his necessary evaluations for his three year check up and lots of running around having to find him a new winter coat (outgrew his overnight), new shoes (ditto) and things like that.  I also caught a stomach bug that has worked its way across the country and it took me in particular down hard here...the rest of the family was down for a day, while I was down for a week.  Not how I'd recommend losing five pounds quickly.  Thank goodness I'm feeling better.  Still popping tons of vitamins and eating super healthy for the sake of recovering my health after that whole mess.  So far, I'm doing okay, knock on wood.

Bright side, we only have one meeting left (the recap of all of the other meetings, meeting) and then we will hopefully be done with meetings for a little bit.  Medicaid is getting nasty about wanting to approve the medications that we need for Alvah to keep his mental health stable, so when our insurance goes up for renewal this year, I am going to call and talk to them about getting him on our family insurance as a second insurance.  With his type of Medicaid it isn't necessary, but they seem to not want to pay for what little I have required of them now, so it is time to seek alternatives to help alleviate the situation.

So, anyway, onto other things!

Well, believe it or not, despite swimming obligations for Armina (she's now a certified lifeguard, yay!!!) , meetings, sickness and other stuff, I actually had a bunch of stuff going on at the house as well.  So, let's get to some of it!

1.  One of my main personal goals when it came to this year was going through my kitchen stuff (and really stuff period) and if it doesn’t serve a current useful purpose, I decided it is time to start using them or, if I can’t find anything to do with some things, to just get rid of them.  When you have limited space, it seems like making it work efficiently becomes a huge priority, so that is what I’m always striving to do, so I looked at problems areas at the beginning of the year and tried to figure out how to make things be more efficient.

One of the things I decided I needed to make regular use of was my cast iron.  I also needed to figure out how to rehome said cast iron as I was keeping my cast iron skillets and pans in the bottom drawer of my oven (technically I guess it is a warmer drawer) and it did double-fold not great.  For one, it was warping the drawer, which is not heavy duty at all, with the weight of the pans, so the drawer was getting harder and harder to open and close as the bottom slowly deformed, but by stacking my pans on top of one another constantly in a warm environment, it was causing the oil that I cured the pans with to go rancid really fast and I was having to pull all the pans out of the drawer weekly to wash and then re-cure the pans.  And I’m not getting any younger, so lifting a heavy stack of cast iron up when I needed a pan or to put one away, or to lift them all up and down again to wash and cure them all, was becoming more and more of a pain (literally).

 I was watching one of the YouTube channels I watch occasionally one day  and saw that she had a cast iron pan rack in her small kitchen and thought, “You know, if she can fit it in her kitchen, I bet I can fit one in mine!”  I went looking on Amazon and realized that the cast iron pan racks were actually pretty reasonably priced, so I ordered one (after carefully measuring all of my pans and things) that would fit most of my cast iron pans.  It fits PERFECTLY in the space I measured it for (which is great when the measurements online are actually accurate) and it is so much nicer to pull pans in and out of it compared to the drawer in the oven (my husband thought of wall mounting the pans, but we just plain do not have the wall space in the kitchen to do it).  The drawer in the oven now houses my sheet pans, since they lay a lot more evenly in the drawer and disperse their weight better in the space and I put my cutting boards in the cabinet that used to home my sheet pans.  The system is working well, I am proud to say, if I can get my mind wrapped around where I stored everything and go to the right spot right away (like the sheet pans were in the same cabinet for 10 years, so yeah….it has been a transition to look for them in the oven drawer instead of the cabinet *laugh*).

I also had a cast iron griddle that I got for free that was out by a dumpster at a used store years ago that had some surface rust on it, but was in really good shape otherwise, so I had asked if I could have it and when they said yes, I brought it home and scrubbed the rust off and put an entire new seasoning onto the pan.  I was proud of it, but the downside to it was that at my old house the griddle would NOT work with the oven that I had and when we moved to our current house the stove still had really separated burners so the griddle didn’t work well there either as it would not heat evenly.  I didn’t want to get rid of the griddle, so I just ended up moving it from place to place over the years which kept it dry and all, but it still wasn’t functional.  I ran into it when cleaning/decluttering the last couple of months and was considering getting rid of it, when I looked at it for a second and thought, “Wait, this looks about the same size as the griddle that is built into my oven now”.  Sure enough I compared sizes and after quickly removing said current griddle and putting the middle burner onto my stove the cast iron griddle fit PERFECTLY!  Since then I’ve been actively trying to use it more and have grilled things like chicken on it and on the smooth side I cooked a big batch of sourdough English muffins on it just a little bit ago (most of the English muffins went into the freezer to use later on :).  Side note:  The English muffins are SO good!!!  They are so chewy and yummy, I highly recommend that recipe!  

I’m so happy to finally be able to use the grill pan for things.  I put it on a shelf where I can get to it easily and put my cast iron loaf pans and my smaller cast iron Dutch oven on the same shelf so I can get to things I use regularly without having to move things around the entire kitchen to get them. 

Note:  I am planning on giving a kitchen tour sometime soon…I’m just behind at this point, so you will see the cast iron rack I got here, hopefully soon :).

2.  As previously mentioned with the English muffins, I’ve gotten into small batch sourdough making the last few months.  I’ve found that small batch sourdough works for me perfectly as it takes a week to get the starter built up where I need it to be and then I use pretty much the entire starter on a batch of bread and pancakes or something else and then I start the process over again.  This way I don’t waste much starter (I’ve even used some of the discard starter to make tasty crackers the last bit, and by the way the crackers are delicious!  They have a cheesy taste even though they contain no cheese!) and I don’t end up baking a ton of stuff to use up said starter like other people I’ve seen online and things.  I bake, sure, but there are only three of us that actively eat what I bake with the sourdough, so I sure don’t want to end up baking a bunch of stuff that will ultimately go to waste.

Shot of  the sourdough discard crackers up above there.

Once summer hits and it gets too hot, I know that I won't be baking with sourdough much, so I'm having fun experimenting with it while I have the colder weather *laugh*.

I found a recipe that calls for mixing 50 grams of flour with 50 grams of water to feed the starter every day and then you discard half of what you put in every day, which has worked out well for me.  I also found that mixing in a bit of home ground flour (like half of the 50 grams per day that the method calls for) worked out well to make sure the starter had enough flour to feed on and wouldn’t run out of food too quickly (my kitchen can get pretty warm when I have baking and stuff to do and the starter will start to blow through the flour it has to feed on FAST without the home ground flour to help feed it), so it also gives me something to use home ground flour for, which is always nice :).

Oh and March, yeah, what are my goals there?  

3.  I’ve been watching a bunch of homestead/gardening channels/personal vlog channels on YouTube and it seems like a ton of channels share Costco or Azure Standard hauls on their channels and hoenstly I find that stuff neat to watch as it is kind of "how the other half live" for me.  I don’t have a Costco membership (nearest Costco is Anchorage and once I include fuel costs and things we keep deciding it isn’t worth it to get one) and Azure Standard doesn’t really work up here as the shipping costs get prohibitive to get the goods up here, at least for us.  So, unlike some others I’m down to Three Bears (who is a local outfit that buys things from Costco and marks them up, BUT tends to carry local items and also doesn’t require you to have a membership to shop there) and others places like Amazon to get different types of groceries.  So, I thought it would be kind of fun to start sharing my "grocery hauls" with you here, if for no other reason than to potentially help out those who live in the bush areas of Alaska who might be interested in what would ship, or not ship, up here and things.  I've gotten a few calls for help asking me to start up a coupon blog again (which it has been a long time since I did that) and while I can't really do that (coupons ain't what they used to be, for one thing), I figured I can at least point out some good deals (or not, who knows) of things I've gotten in the way of groceries and household items.  I've been supplementing my groceries with things I've found online for a while and it has really helped to help me get ahold of things that are super expensively locally or not available at all, or in some cases I would just find a really good deal on something and order it because it was cheap and I knew I wouldn't even BEGIN to get something that cheap nearby.  So, yeah, I thought I'd share some of those finds when I find them.

So, stay tuned for that aspect coming back to the blog a bit.  My way of shopping has definitely changed the last three years, so it might be fun for people who have read the blog for a while to see how my shopping habits have changed as well and how I'm stopping things from going to waste (I'll get more into that on another post).

4.  One big goal for March (meandering though the post is, yes, I do have some goals for this month) is to fix the two Lazy Susan cabinets in my kitchen.  My bottom cabinet is pretty much gone.  It needs the Lazy Susan part in it completely replaced as the old plastic shelves are nearly cracked in half on both shelves and attempts to repair said shelves have failed...we are pretty sure the plastic is just breaking down from age, but it has made the cabinet nearly useless as time went on as I've had to remove one thing after another from it to alleviate the weight on it so it doesn't completely break in half.  I was able to redeem all of my credit card rewards from the medical bills I had to put onto my credit card (if there is one bright side to anything is that my credit card gives me double rewards for medical stuff) and used them to purchase a brand new Lazy Susan insert for the cabinet (not cheap normal price).  We got the insert in a few weeks ago and my husband is taking measurements and things to make it work with our current cabinet set up (I still think we might end up having to hinge the cabinet doors to move them out of the way to use the cabinet insert, but I guess we shall was the only insert I could find that would ship to Alaska, so we'll make it work one way or the other.  Heck I'd use it without cabinet doors at this point if it will make the cabinet workable again.

The spice cabinet Lazy Susan insert is having problems with bowing and things on the bottom shelf and is scraping on 1/2 of the shelf as it spins, so I'm working on a fix for that to make the shelf work again.  I really don't want to have to shell out for another insert for that cabinet, so we'll see what I can come up with :).

I've definitely got other goals I'm working on hammering out, but those are two of the biggies for this month.  

And yeah, I'm going to call it good for now on this post.  I know, it's kind of short compared to the amount of time that has passed, but I've really just been in the "get through day to day while recovering health and energy" mode for the last month, so you sure haven't missed much.  I SHOULD be up to more stuff this month as I'm feeling better, so here's hoping :).  I hope your February went well and now onto March!!!