SanDisk Ultra 32GB microSDHC UHS-1 at Costco

My wife and I recently got new cell phones. We got the Samsung Galaxy S4 at the wireless kiosks at Costco. We paid very little for them – under $20 – and each received $175 in Costco gift cards.

The fun thing about Samsung phones, as opposed to, say, the Nexus line, is that you can add memory to them. You’re not stuck with whatever they decide you have. I decided to see how long I could last on 16GB. Turns out, not that long. Between installing apps, copying all my music on the phone and shooting 1080p video all the time, I’d now run out and could not even install small apps.

SanDisk Ultra 32GB MicroSDHC UHS-1 Card with Adapter, Costco #781223

SanDisk Ultra 32GB MicroSDHC UHS-1 Card with Adapter, Costco #781223

Imagine my surprise when I was at Costco yesterday, and saw a 32GB card for $24.29, Canadian currency. I’ll admit to not shopping a lot and comparing prices, but I knew it was one of those unadvertised, temporary price drops, as the price had an expiration date.

I thought about it while shopping for the essentials. Basically, I was thinking as to whether I should get the 64GB instead, which was about 45 bucks.

I decided that the 32GB would do just fine for now. If I ever need the 64GB, I can give the 32GB to my wife and upgrade mine.

What really sucks up a lot of memory and storage space, in my case, is the 1080p video, and it was also what worried me.

With my previous phone, I would often get choppy video when shooting at full resolution, and it was something I was keen to avoid. The SanDisk Ultra 32GB microSDHC UHS-1 card I got at Costco is rated for a read spead of up to 48MB/s, and is also rated Class 10, meaning it is supposed to be good to capture full HD video. It’s not even available on the Costco.ca site.

After installing the card I quickly shot a video of my son ‘working’, shuffling papers around my desk. There was not a single stutter in a video over 4 minutes long, so I guess the microSDHC card is as good as its word. At least so far.

I still find it incredible that I can purchase memory for less than a dollar a gig. I’m old enough to remember having a computer with a 20 MEG hard drive, which cost considerably more than $24.29. More like a hundred times that.

In any case, I’m happy with my purchase. The lower price was probably the result of someone else having a sale, and it was just $4.50 off the regular price, but I’ll take it.

Dutailier Ultramotion Glider and Ottoman: Just In

My wife and I are expecting our second child very soon; our little girl could be born right now and she would not be particularly premature. So any day now. Daddy’s freaking out. But enough about that. I’m a big fan of the old saying that says:

If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would ever get done.

So obviously my wife and I are shopping for stuff for the baby. One thing that is particularly high on her list is a new rocking chair, for nursing. The one we had for our first child, I inherited from my grandmother. Despite new cushions, it is hard, uncomfortable, narrow – even for my wife – and short-backed, so no relaxing. Here is the new chair we got!

Dutailier Ultramotion Glider Rocker and Ottoman

Dutailier Ultramotion Glider Rocker and Ottoman

We did not buy this new. We shopped around a little, and even on special, chairs like these that include the ottoman are anywhere from $225 to $500 and over, plus taxes.

For this kind of money, we can tolerate a rocking chair that has been gently used. For comparison, check what is available on Costco.ca.

The only difference that I can see between the new, 2015 Costco model and ours is that the newer one has a mechanism to block the chair in place, while ours doesn’t. Considering we are buying a rocking chair, that didn’t seem very important.

The Dutailier Ultramotion Glider and Ottoman we got used from someone on Kijiji has a few light stains on the sides, and the cushions are not as puffy as a brand-new one. Of course, the new one will set you back over $500, plus taxes, while we paid $100 for ours. On top of it all, this nice chair is made right here in Canada; feels right to keep our money here (even though we bought it second hand) and the quality matches and exceeds all expectations.

A hundred bucks still seems like a lot of money, but my wife’s comfort as she nurses is paramount. She’s happy, so I’m happy. Hopefully the little one will like it, too!

ReaLemon Lemon Juice at Costco: Product Review

Since I shop quite a bit at Costco, I’ve taken the habit to note, right on the products, the date I bought them, and the price I paid. This allows me to make sure that I get my money’s worth. I get some interesting surprises, but none more than the ReaLemon 100% Lemon Juice bottles I got at Costco.

Costco ReaLemon Juice

Costco ReaLemon Juice

To be honest – and why be anything else – I didn’t write on the bottles the price I paid, or the date, however, the expiration date on the second bottle is May 27th, 2013. This is over a year and a half ago.

I try to keep an updated Costco shopping list, adding to it products I need to renew. I saw that our bottle of Lemon Juice, in the fridge, was almost done, so I was about to add it to the list.

That’s when I noticed, lurking in the pantry, my lemon juice bottle’s twin! We had only consumed one of the bottles, not two, and our Costco savings could proceed unimpeded!

A little over the top, I know. But it’s fun to save money. I don’t remember how much I paid for those two bottle back then, but the price for the same thing is, these days, around $6.

Let’s say I got the bottle about a year before the expiration date, May 27th, 2012. Today is the 26th of January, 2015. So a span of 978 days.

Costco ReaLemon Juice Expiration Date

Still good, right?

I’ve probably had these bottles for longer, but never mind that for now.

Each bottle contains 945 ml of lemon juice, or just under a liter. The cost per 100 ml, based on today’s price, is 31.74 pennies. Let’s say 32.

Conservatively speaking, my real cost for non-fresh but still all-natural lemon juice is as little as 0.6 pennies a day, and that’s only using *one* of the two bottles. This figure will most certainly go down as I keep using the second bottle.

As you can certainly tell by now, I don’t use a crazy amount of lemon juice. I have a few recipes and vinaigrettes I do occasionally that call for it, but that’s it. So I pay less than 1 penny a day – probably less that 0.3 by the time the second bottle is done – for all the lemon juice I can use.

Costco’s ReaLemon Lemon Juice, made from concentrates, contains the following ingredients:

  • Water
  • Concentrated Lemon Juice
  • Sulphites
  • Lemon Oil

Lemon juice used to be carried by long-haul sailing ships to prevent scurvy in sailors, because of the impossibility of keeping fresh fruits and vegetables for long period on board. The point is that Lemon juice *keeps*.

Despite the fact that this product expired almost a year and a half ago, I’ll be more than happy to use it and keep saving money.

In conclusion, Costco’s ReaLemon Lemon Juice, made from concentrate, was an excellent purchase, and I look forward to when I can buy another one and write the date on it! I’ve gotten a lot of value from this format, and would happily recommend it to anyone.

If you want to read an example of how I calculate my daily item costs, please check out this article about Folger’s Coffee, and for more information about the wonders of lemon juice, follow this link.

Please note that if I open the second bottle, and it’s completely gross and unusable, I will be happy to review this article, state the facts, and close off my costs at 0.6 pennies a day for lemon juice. It is still acceptable!

Folgers Classic Roast Coffee: Real Savings

On my quest to reduce my daily expenses even further, I’ve decided to cut down on my own brewed coffee. I used to drink to Kirkland Signature Colombian Coffee, however the price went up significantly in the last months, so I’ve had to look for alternatives. What I found surprised even me!

Folgers Classic Roast, 920g

Folgers Classic Roast, 920g

I was always resistant to buying Folgers Classic Roast Coffee, for the simple reason that I saw it advertised on TV. Too commercial. But you really can’t avoid the cost, and the savings.

For the record, I make, or brew coffee, once a day, in the morning. Depending on the day, I make 6, 7 or 8 cups, as measured by the coffee pot, for which I use between 3 and 4 tablespoons of coffee. To be honest, the spoon I use is special, and I’m not sure exactly how much it contains, but it looks to be about a tablespoon.

The pictured Folgers container contains 920 grams of ground coffee, or 2 pounds and 0.5 ounces. I purchased and started using it on October 26th, 2014 and finished it, completely on December 5th, 2015.

I paid $6.88 for the container, on special at Giant Tiger (a Canadian discount Walmart-type store, but much, much smaller).

So I drank coffee for a total of 40 days, every day, for less than 7 dollars. For the mathematically inclined, I drank all the coffee I needed for a paltry 17.2 pennies per day.

If I can maintain this for the rest of the year, and I think I can, considering I just bought a huge batch for the same price, my morning coffee habit will cost me only $62.78 for the year, or just a hair over 5 dollars a month!

I will be posting this under my “Small Things” header. By calculating exactly where you spend your money, you can save a bundle without really changing your habits, but by shopping just a bit smarter!

Look at the specials, use a calculator or even better, an Excel spreadsheet, and buy in bulk when the prices reach the price you want to pay. All you need is a little patience, and some spare room to store your loot!

 

Kirkland Signature Italian Leather Belt, at Costco

Well, the holiday season must be approaching quickly, because all sorts of gifts not seen at any other time of year are now available at Costco! In particular, you’ll find new Kirkland Signature

Kirkland Signature Full-Grain Italian Leather Belt

Kirkland Signature Full-Grain Italian Leather Belt

Belts and Ties. This year I have splurged on an Kirkland Signature Full-Grain Italian Leather Belt, for $19.99 at Costco (where else?). They were a little cheaper last year, if memory serves, $17.99, but if the belt’s good, I don’t mind the few extra dollars. I don’t buy those every month.

It’s not that I’m cheap per se, but I don’t like spending unnecessary money, and I hate even more buying junk. Except for funky belts you’ll wear a few times a year and for Halloween, I’ve owned a grand total of 2 – that’s two – belts in my life. I used them every day, until the leather broke. The last one I had for 15 years or more. Understand that I like buying quality.

I’m wearing the belt right now. There are several things I like about it, right off the bat:

First off, the leather is really thick, and was tanned in Italy. It’s full-grain, Italian leather as opposed to reconstituted or surface leather. To me, that’s the first sign of quality, or shoddiness if the leather’s thin. The stitching is straight, tight and looks durable.

Second, the leather is really shinny, although I’m not sure how long that will last. So far, it looks super hot. I’ve had my previous belt for so long I can’t remember how it looked when new.

Third, the buckle is hand-polished, with a satin gunmetal finish. It looks really good, and I hope it won’t rub off too soon.

The belt looks and feel real nice. The packaging was nice but overall ordinary. Just small enough to be easily wrapped and put under the tree! I bought mine in black, with the darkest buckle I could find, but there are several color options, for both the belt color and the buckle. I just like black. Goes well with everything.

There is only one negative thing to say about the belt, and it’s about the size. I wear pants at size 34, relatively comfortably, and as you can see, I bought the size 36 belt, just in case. It turns out that I am almost at maximum capacity on the belt, however; I only have one more hole to go until the belt is too small! That being said, and as my wife casually remarked, I should be planning on getting thinner, not fatter.

Touché.

The Bottom Line on the Kirkland Signature Full-Grain Italian Leather Belt: it’s a BUY! Remember that the belts won’t be there for long – another month, maybe 6 weeks, and then they’ll be gone for another year. If you need a belt, and you want to buy it at Costco, then now’s the time!

Ortocori Grilled Italian Mushrooms at Costco

I’m at Costco *very* often, as you might have guessed by the recurring theme of this blog, and I’m an absolute sucker for a deal. Especially when it’s a Costco 97 cents deal!

Ortocori Grilled Seasoned Italian Mushrooms in Oil (Costco)

Ortocori Grilled Seasoned Italian Mushrooms in Oil (Costco)

If you don’t know what that is, let me explain: anything at Costco that is priced ending in .97 instead of .49, .79, .99 or anything else is being liquidated. It’s cheap. So I look for prices ending in that denomination quite a bit.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the Ortocori Grilled (and seasoned) Italian Mushrooms, in Oil, for … $0.97 per jar! That is a super discount. If memory serves, these mushrooms sold for close to $8 a jar at the height of their popularity. So I did what any normal person would do in such a situation.

I bought 8 jars.

Now the thing is, I had never even tasted these mushrooms before buying them. I saw the price, and decided that even should these mushrooms prove to be disgusting, I’d only be less than $10 down.

The verdict: these mushrooms are delicious, and besides citric acid, which is included as an ingredient for conservation purposes, these grilled mushrooms are free of disgusting chemicals. Here are the ingredients:

  • White mushrooms
  • Sunflower oil
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Citric Acid
  • Herbs and Spices

These mushrooms are delicious cold, right out of the jar, and can also be lightly sauteed – no need to add oil! – to be served with a warm dish. One note of caution, however, and my only mildly negative comment about these mushrooms: make sure you drain them carefully before ingesting, as they are thoroughly soaked and dripping of oil. If you eat them too quickly, you’ll rapidly get a nasty “oil overload” feeling. Not the best.

Let me tell you, however, that at this price – 97 cents a jar at Costco –  these Ortocori Seasoned Grilled Mushrooms in Oil, made with freshly picked Italian mushrooms, were an absolute steal, and are always a hit when I take them out at dinner parties.

Oven-Baked BBQ Pork Back Ribs: Quick Recipe

For some reason, cooking ribs has always been one of my fears. Maybe it’s because I managed, with the help of alcohol, to ruin a fantastic rack of ribs that had been smoking for 6 hours… or perhaps, just perhaps, my expectations have been driven too high by the restaurant industry, particularly Baton Rouge… In any case, a few months back I had purchased a bunch of back ribs at Costco, since they were unusually cheap, $14 a pack instead of the usual $22-25. I froze them using my trusty Foodsaver, which I also bought at Costco.

Just before I get to the recipe, I’ll just point out the fact that I had bought these ribs in February, and I’m now eating them at the end of October. The vaccuum-pack afforded by the Foodsaver really made a difference, as they were as fresh as the day I bought them. Maybe better.

In any case, I decided to follow the advice of one of my colleagues, who really knows his ribs. The method is incredibly simple, maybe a little time-consuming, but you can’t get something for nothing.

My Oven-Baked BBQ Pork Back Ribs Recipe

The ingredients list is super simple:

  • Back Ribs – as much as can fit, single layered, on baking sheets in your oven
  • One big Jar of commercial BBQ sauce (I used Garland Jack’s, bought on rebate at Costco)
  • End of list
Oven-Baked BBQ Pork Back Ribs Recipe

Oven-Baked BBQ Pork Back Ribs Recipe

The cooking process is simple. Preheat the oven to 225 F. Lay out the ribs, ugly side up, on cooking sheets. Don’t crowd them too much.

Baste them with BBQ sauce. Stick them in the oven for 2 hours, basting every 30 minutes.

After two hours, flip the racks over, baste them and repeat the process for another 2 hours, again basting them every 30 minutes.

That’s it!

After gently cooking for over 4 hours, your ribs will be delicious and almost fall-off-the-bone done.

The picture above is of one half of one of the four racks I had. We easily fed 5 adults with appetites, and two curious kids, with plenty left over for lunches and whatnot.

Contrary to many other rib recipes, this one does not require you to marinate or boil the ribs ahead of time, although in retrospect maybe I would boil them next time, just a bit to take away some fat. This recipe is done in a single step, albeit a long one, but the result was more than satisfactory!

Bon appetit and let me know what you think if you try it!

Kirkland Signature Maple Syrup: Product Review

For those who don’t know this, let me be clear: having Maple Syrup in the fridge is absolutely crucial to Canadian families, and particularly French Canadian ones. Once derided as a lower-quality product – le sucre du pays – compared to cane and beet sugar, which are traditional refined sugar sources, maple syrup has a distinctive aroma and delicious taste that is, well, indescribable. Costco deciding to include Maple Syrup in its Kirkland Signature brand gives us the opportunity to purchase high quality maple syrup at an affordable price.

If anyone is looking into how seriously we take our maple syrup, check this list of terms directly associated with maple sugar and syrup. It’s in French, but you’ll get the idea.

Kirkland Signature Maple Syrup

Kirkland Signature Maple Syrup

Costco’s Kirkland Signature Maple Syrup is quite exceptional, and just as good or better than any syrup commercially available. The price is right, too.

This maple syrup is sold, in-store only, for $12.99 (Canadian dollars) for 1 liter of golden ambrosia.

To be fair, I haven’t bought any other maple syrup in a long time, as this one is just toooo goooood. That being said, competitors seem to be priced about 30 to 40% more expensive.

I used to put maple syrup on everything, from pancakes and crepes to cereals, omelets and everything in between. My dear defunct mother used to cook up a maple syrup mousse that was incredibly simple to make, so sweet it made your teeth hurt, and yet so light and delicious my eyes are tearing up just thinking about it. I’m not joking.

That recipe was always zealously guarded, but my mother passed it on to my sister, of course, and in an act of incredible generosity, to my wife. Whenever we have it, my sister and I still fight over any extras, and will try to steal from each other’s plate, winner keeps all. She fights dirty, but I’m sneakier.

Alright, here ends the drive down memory lane. In an effort to reach middle age, I’ve slowed down my maple syrup consumption, but when I need to have some, and it still happens a few times a week, I crack open my jug of Kirkland Signature Maple Syrup.

It’s just the best.

Kirkland Signature Iced Tea Mix: Product Review

I love the end of the summer at Costco. It is always a good time of the year to save big on all sorts of products I would not normally buy, but at the price they’re selling them at, I can hardly say no. One such product I purchased was the excellent Kirkland Signature Iced Tea Mix.

Kirkland Signature Iced Tea Mix

Kirkland Signature Iced Tea Mix

I don’t remember exactly, but I am almost certain that this is a product that normally sells for about $10. I bought it when there were only a few tins left, for a mere $2.97.

Of course, that was in early September, and much too late in the season to fully enjoy such a product, but no matter. This stuff keeps, and it will still be there next summer, when I can completely enjoy the fruits of my savings!

Here are the Kirkland Signature Iced Tea Mix ingredients, in decreasing order of importance:

  • Sugar (that’s not a surprise)
  • Citric acid
  • Instant tea
  • Natural Lemon and Lime flavors
  • Guar Gum (more information right here)
  • Calcium Phosphate Tribasic
  • Silicon dioxide

Well, I don’t want to be a bummer, but this is a powered iced tea mix. Even though it’s really good, and from Costco’s Kirkland Signature, you’re gonna get some chemically-sounding ingredients. I’m afraid there’s no avoiding it.

On the plus side, this Costco Iced Tea Mix is really delicious, and I found that you don’t have to put much more of mix than the recommended amount to get a proper taste. This iced tea is quite sweet, of course, thanks to the sugar, but with its citric acid and natural lemon and lime flavors, seemingly very thirst-quenching as well. The tea taste doesn’t taste too artificial, but not too real, either. You know what I mean. It’s just right. You don’t want it to taste like a sweet, cold cup of tea. Gross.

By the time you read this, this delicious, sun-drenched product has certainly disappeared from the shelves of your Costco, unless you’re fortunate enough to live in a place when you can get this stuff year-round. Make sure to get it next summer, or at least at the end of next summer, to take advantage of the Costco liquidation specials!

Kirkland Signature Super Premium Maintenance Cat Food

My wife and I have had our little cat, Tailchaser, for about 3 and a half years. He’s a black cat with a white belly – a tuxedo! – and we love him very much. What we don’t love is the price of cat food, which before we discovered the Kirkland Signature Super Premium Maintenance Cat Food,  was superbly expensive, in the order of about $35 to $45 dollars a month. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s actually a lot of money, when you add it up.

Our cat, thankfully, isn’t really picky, so we decided to give a shot to the Costco-brand cat food. Everything else Kirkland Signature supplies seems of good quality, so why not?

Kirkland Signature Maintenance Cat Food

Kirkland Signature Maintenance Cat Food

It didn’t even take a day for the cat to adapt to the new food; we went ‘cold turkey’ with the food change, which I know isn’t ideal, but we were out of the other one. It doesn’t seem to have affected him, except for the fact that he’s crazy for the new food, purrs like crazy when we feed him!

Having a healthy, happy cat that loves his food is one, very important part of the equation, but it’s not the only one. Oh no.

The Costco Maintenance Cat Food, Chicken and Rice Formula, is dirt cheap compared to what is sold in pet stores. A massive, 20-pound (9.07 kilograms) bag costs only $16.99 Canadian dollars, and we can feed the cat for almost two months on that bag. Even if our cat ate like a pig and went through the whole thing in a month, which he can’t, it would still be a savings of over 50% from before.

You just can’t argue with that. When it comes to the ingredients, without being an expert, I don’t see anything that would be completely inappropriate, such as “Animal Protein Byproduct” or something of that ilk.

Kirkland Signature Maintenance Cat Food Ingredients

Kirkland Signature Maintenance Cat Food Ingredients

So far, so good. We’re on our second bag since we started feeding him the Kirkland-brand Cat Food, and our cat has managed to maintain his weight. He gained a little bit, but mostly (I think) because he doesn’t go outside as much as during the summer. Of course this has direct consequences on his litter box and litter consumption, but what can you do.

To learn more about what should and should not be in your pet’s food, click here. From what I could tell, the Kirkland Signature Maintenance Cat Food (Chicken and Rice, Super Premium) seems to fare quite well, and even includes some Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are not required by law.