Tag Archives: Purchases

Kirkland Signature Trail Mix: Product Review

As far as my wife is concerned, going on a trip anywhere in the car is an occasion to eat snacks. If there are no snacks, it will be a very unpleasant situation for all involved. I kept that fact in mind as I was planning our latest trip, a five-hour car trip to visit family in Toronto. On my last visit to Costco before leaving, I picked up a bag of Kirkland Signature Trail Mix, for $12.99. Here are our impressions.

Kirkland Signature Trail Mix

Kirkland Signature Trail Mix, Item number 34806

As you can see from the picture of the bag, as well as that of the ingredients (just below), the ingredients are peanuts, M&M- brand candies, raisins, almonds and cashews, in that order. I find it quite impressive that the M&Ms are so far up the list, in other brands they are few and far between .

Kirkland Signature Trail Mix Ingredients

Kirkland Signature Trail Mix Ingredients

Of course, when you put raisins, almonds and cashews in your trail mix, it’s no surprise that M&Ms come out as just about the cheapest ingredient, and you put a lot in. That says a lot about other brands, where M&Ms are rare.

Kirkland Signature Trail Mix Nutrition Facts

Kirkland Signature Trail Mix Nutrition Facts

The Kirkland Signature Trail Mix boasts an almost perfect balance of sweet and salty components. The sweet M&Ms and raisins are nicely balanced by the salty peanuts, almonds and cashews, and I can assure you that they are easy to eat by the handful.

When it comes to nutrition, I must admit that I am a little annoyed. The bag is labeled in weight – 1.36 kilograms – while the nutrition information is calculated by volume, in milliliters. Have a look at the fact sheet. There is no comfortable way of calculating how many servings are in a bag, short of measuring out the number of cups of Trail Mix are in the bag, and multiplying by 3. Let’s say that I eat this in 100-gram portions, which means that there are 13.6 portions per bag, and each of them costs 95 cents.

What I can absolutely share with you, is that 1/3 of a cup really isn’t that much, and I can easily eat several servings in one go. That’s kind of the point of driving food. The good news is that you’ll get 9 grams of proteins per serving, and there are no trans fats in Costco’s Trail Mix. Also, there is surprisingly little salt, considering the ingredients list.

The bad news is that there is plenty of both fat and sugar, which is great if you’re out there hiking it out on the trail, not so awesome when you’re driving a minivan full of wife and kids and luggage and noise.

Overall, I would gladly recommend Costco’s Kirkland Signature Trail Mix. Despite its lack of candied fruits, which are a personal favorite, it is composed of expensive, quality ingredients, just as you would expect from any Kirkland Signature products, and it’s made in the USA. You can buy and eat this with confidence!

Kirkland Signature Que Pasa Organic Tortilla Chips: Product Review

As you can certainly guess, I’m a big fan of Kirkland Signature and Costco products. I’m also a big fan of dip.

What do these two things have in common? Well, I tend to see chips of all kinds as a sort of dip delivery system, if you will; I rarely, if ever, eat chips just by themselves. Those are ‘crisps’ for you Brits out there. Weird.

In any case, I am extremely fond of the Krinkle Kut Kirkland Signature chips (you can read my review right here), but despite being less salty and greasy than other chips, they are still quite greasy and salty, and I get tired of them quickly for that reason.

The other day, my dear wife, who also loves dip and salsa, purchased some Tostitos salsa, which I will review here at some other point, as well as the Kirkland Signature Organic Tortilla Chips to go along with it. I’m usually not a huge fan of salsa, but this one was pretty good. The tortilla chips, however, were a true revelation!

Kirkland Signature Que Pasa Organic Tortilla Chips

Kirkland Signature Que Pasa Organic Tortilla Chips

According to the package, they claim to be ‘lightly salted’, which is true. While some chips taste saltier than others, overall they taste just salty enough not to be bland, but nothing overpowering. They are not greasy at all, which is a huge change from my usual Krinkle Kut chips.

The price of the Que Pasa Tortilla Chips varies quite a bit these days, because it is imported from the USA and the value of the Canadian dollar has been fluctuating quite a bit, but I usually purchase a 908 gram bag (2 pounds) for anywhere between $4.99 and $5.99, which in any case is a great price. This particular bag was $5.49, if I recall correctly.

What I enjoy particularly is that these tortilla chips are quite crunchy; you have to leave them in the dip for a long time for them to become soggy. It never comes to that.

These tortilla chips are made of corn flour, obviously, are completly cholesterol-free, trans-fat free and gluten free, and with only 3% of the daily recommended dose of sodium in each portion, you can really pig out. Each portion is a huge 30 chips, too!

For those who care about that stuff, these tortilla chips are organic. Personally, I could not possibly care less, but it can’t hurt, right?

Now obviously those chips are great with salsa, homemade or store-bought, but they are equally delicious with my homemade onion dip, which is quite rich in sour cream, yogurt, sriracha and more. I’ll share the recipe sometime, but not today.

In conclusion, I would recommended having a bag or two of these delicious  Kirkland Signature Que Pasa Organic Tortilla Chips around the house. They are great with any dip you could whip up, as well as salsa, and are a surprisingly guilt-free snack!

Ampere Moonraker LED Ceiling Light At Costco

Ever since we bought our house, I’ve been annoyed at one thing more than anything else. The previous owners of the house were quite short, and in the basement, in what is now my office, they had installed a chandelier-type light fixture that hung quite low. High enough for them to move under, but for me, not quite. I’ve banged my head against it more times than I can count. I’ve been meaning to replace the fixture for a while, but I wasn’t interested in the cheap stuff at Home Depot, nor wanted to spend a lot of money.

Seems like a quandary, doesn’t it? It sure did to me, but thanks to Costco, all my problems are solved.

Okay maybe not all of them, but at least those pertaining to this annoying light fixture situation.

Yesterday, I installed a Ampere Moonraker LED Ceiling Light (plafonnier in French) that I purchased at Costco only an hour before, for the low price of $39.99, plus applicable taxes.

Costco Ampere Moonraker LED Ceiling Light

Costco Ampere Moonraker LED Ceiling Light

This is an LED ceiling light, and I was afraid that the light would be too cold, or white as opposed to yellow and  warm. I needn’t have worried. The light is quite yellow and calming, much like older incandescent bulbs.

I’d never had the occasion to install any fixtures, but it turns out that it was quite easy, except for the fact that it was getting dark, and that my 3-year-old son was in charge of illumination with an extremely powerful – and blinding – flashlight, which I’d also bought at Costco.

Here’s what the finished product looks like. I know that this is a terrible picture.

Costco Ampere Moonraker LED Ceiling Light (installed)

Costco Ampere Moonraker LED Ceiling Light (installed)

I tried to take a picture with the light on, but my phone was not cooperating in the least, so there you have it.

The installation was quite smooth, two wires and the ground to connect. The result is safe and solid, and thanks to LED technology, I’ll never have to change the bulbs in there.

This is quite the high-powered LED ceiling light, with 1800 lumens of illumination. It is also dimmable, but I’ll have to change the light switch for that. Maybe another day.

Speaking of days, this is how long this lamp will last, according to the manufacturer: 25,000 hours, which translates to over a thousand days, at 24 hours a day. The manufacturer and designer, Artika, instead proposes 22.8 years of life, based on a 3 hour a day use, which seems more reasonable. It also consumes a very low 28 watts of power, which is good for my electricity bill.

I know that buying a LED ceiling light at Costco, for under $40, should not be particularly exciting, but for some reason it is.

Maybe it’s because I’ve successfully executed my first, albeit very light, electrical renovation, or perhaps I know that I’m done whacking my head on a ridiculously out of place chandelier. We may never know. But I’m very happy with my Ampere Moonraker LED Ceiling Light!

UPDATE – April, 2015 – I’ve installed a new ceiling light, this time the Artika Cloudraker, also from Costco. You can read the new review right here to see how it compares to the Moonraker.

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!

 

Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup at Costco

I’ll be the first to admit it: I love Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom. I think it is their best product, by far. Not only is it a delicious, creamy soup when made according to the instructions, but you can use it to make a really excellent sauce for meats, or dump it, undiluted in a pot of pasta for a truly exceptional eating experience. Basically, make an ordinary dish, and add Cream of Mushroom; it will become awesome. Just like with Sriracha. But I digress.

Campbell's Cream of Mushroom 12-pack

Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom 12-pack

I found this gem of a buy at my local Costco, as an unadvertised special. I paid a ridiculously low $5.19, Canadian, no taxes, for 12 cans of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom. This comes down to 43 cents a can. It may be possible to get it cheaper somewhere else, when it’s on special, but I won’t be looking. I bought two 12-packs, and I’m thinking about buying a few more.

Cream of Mushroom is surprisingly healthy, except for the outrageous salt content, considering that it is a canned soup; here are the ingredients, in decreasing order:

  • Water
  • Mushrooms
  • Canola or Soybean Oil
  • Wheat Flour
  • Cream
  • Corn Starch
  • Salt
  • Modified Milk Ingredients

The following also appear, in smaller quantities: Soy Protein Isolate, Monosodium Glutamate, Tomato Paste, Yeast Extract, Dehydrated Garlic

Except for the MSG, there is nothing too freaky here, and even then, I don’t think MSG is nearly as bad as some would have us believe. Like I said before, it’s really the 35% Sodium per 125 ml (prepared!) that’s the kicker. But it does taste good.

For easy, tasty and quickly prepared meals on a real budget, don’t miss out on this incredible Costco special, only $5.19 for a 12-pack of the real, original Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom. Not some cheap generic knock-off. The real thing.

Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes Product Review

Having a young child at home, it is normal that baby wipes are on my usual shopping radar. Fortunately, since I can buy them in such huge quantity (thank you Costco) I don’t need to shop for them quite so often. I usually end up buying whatever’s on special, which is why I had so much of the Huggies Natural Care wipes, but this time I got caught with my pants down… no specials! So I purchased what used to be my second-favorite wipes, the Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes.

Each box of Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes contains 9 packs of 100 wipes each, and costs $19.79 (Canadian dollars) , for a cost per wipe of 2.2 pennies. Here are the product specifics for these wipes:

  • Product Name: Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes
  • Purchased: Costco
  • Costco (Canada) Item Number: 394485
  • Price: $19.79 (bought at full price)
  • Quantity: 900 wipes per box, 9 individual packs
  • Cost per wipe: $0.022
Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes

Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes (Costco Item number 394485)

The reason I didn’t use to like them as much as the Huggies, despite the fact that their packaging makes them quite a bit more user-friendly, is that they are quite wet. With a very young child, going through many diaper changes every day, it was an issue, since I could hardly let him run around with no diaper on!

That’s over now, and I believe that these baby wipes offer the best bang for the buck.

These wipes are made with Tencel, a strong natural fiber that is exceptionally soft, absorbent and strong. We all know ‘strong’ and ‘tear-resistant’ are important here! They are hypoallergenic, fragrance- and alcohol-free, and just to soothe your conscience, are made from 100% renewable resources.  To learn more about Tencel, follow this link.

I’ll see how long this box lasts us. It should be a while, since he is starting to be toilet-trained, but in any case, at 2.2 pennies a wipe, I really couldn’t go wrong!

September 2014 Update: I have another kid on the way, so I’ll need to start stockpiling these again! Actually, I’ll probably make a whole new post when I start buying them, since the packaging changed.

January 2015 Update The new kid is definitely on the way. She should be born within the next few weeks, so imagine my surprise when I noticed that the Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes are on special this week at my local Costco. Check out the new packaging:

Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes Ultra Soft (New packaging)

Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes Ultra Soft (New packaging)

Since the Canadian dollar tanked, and these wipes are made in the USA, they have gotten more expensive. The regular price is now $21.99, which bring up the per-wipe cost to 2.4 cents. This is not a huge increase on the previous 2.2 cents.

The boxes I bought were on special, however, $4.15 off, which brings the cost down to $17.84 per box, or 1.98 cents per wipe, significantly cheaper than before. Doesn’t seem like much, but I’ll bet we’ll be going through lots of these.

For those who were curious about it, you’ll have noticed that the new box, and each individual package are smaller than they used to be, significantly so. Each box still contains the same number of wipes, and the wipes themselves seem to be the same size. It seems to me that this is one of Costco’s process improvements in the packaging as a way to save on shipping, just as they did with the cashew jars by making square instead of round (to fit more in a truck).

Staples Can be Boring

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about going to Staples, the store, although that can be pretty boring as well. Choosing between different qualities, or ‘weights’ of paper has never been that attractive to me. Thankfully, when I talk about staples, I mean rice and pasta and potatoes and ground beef and whatnot.

The problem with these kinds of staples is that cooking with them always requires more time and a lot more imagination, both of which are in short supply at this time. So in addition to our traditional, boring purchases, last week I made the purchase of a roast chicken, which was, as usual, quite delicious. Here’s what I got at Costco:

  • One roast chicken; Price: $7.99
  • One gallon 1% milk; Price: 5.82
  • One gallon whole milk; Price: $6.32
  • Kirkland Signature Basmati Rice; Price: $9.89
  • 18 Extra-large eggs; Price: $3.89

The total was $35.11, including taxes, which applies only on the chicken.

In case you’re wondering how come the milk is so expensive, it is because it is ‘price-controlled’ to protect farmers. Good old supply-side management. Fails. Every. Single. Time.

Some Tasty Chicken Nuggets

My wife told me the other day that she would enjoy some chicken nuggets, and we’re not into restaurants these days. Fortunately, there are plenty of options if you want to make them at home. We opted for the frozen type, straight from Costco – where else. It was a simple purchase and didn’t break the bank.

One April 23rd, I purchased a single box of tasty chicken nuggets. Here are the details:

  • One box of Chicken Nuggets, 2 kilos, item #154479 at Costco; Price: $9.89

Thankfully, taxes do not apply on this item. I’ll do a full review of the nuggets at a later date, but let me tell you a few things:

  • They are delicious, white meat and everything, well-seasoned
  • 2 kilos is a whole heck of a lot of Chicken Nuggets

I’m very happy with this purchase. We’re already tired of eating them, and there is still almost half the box left. Good call, sweetheart!