I really had my mind set on going to Moose Jaw today to do a big grocery stock up trip, but I was waiting on some payments, a cheque and a PayPal transfer to be able to do so. The cheque wasn’t in today’s mail and I only initiated the PayPal transfer on Friday, so I wasn’t expecting the funds till later this week. Desperately in need of food, I decided to run to Assiniboia for a few things to tide me over.
On the way there, I had a thought about how much it costs me to drive to Assiniboia round trip, $12, never mind the time that I really didn’t have to waste this week. Why was I being such a moron about this? Just go to Moose Jaw, stick to the budget, and use the credit card. It’s not like I’d have to pay interest on the purchases since they would be paid off in days. But most importantly, I still had work to do today, but I definitely had time to go to Moose Jaw and back. The rest of the week was looking iffy.
My decision made, I still made two stops in Assiniboia. The first was to fill up my five-gallon water jugs, which cost me almost $8. I miss my at home delivery for about 80 cents per five-gallon jug! But I do get the next one free… I made this stop in the morning for two reasons. 1) If the water machine was broken, I’d be able to get water in Moose Jaw and 2) I knew I’d be too tired to stop on the way home.
Last year, I was transferring the heavy jugs to a dispenser and actually did that in Mexico just for the exercise, but I treated myself to something on the way home that is crazy expensive, of poor quality, and hard to find here here and the complete opposite in Mexico:
Next stop in Assiniboia was the Co-Op gas station for a coffee, which was really an excuse to get change for the parking metre in downtown Moose Jaw (can’t believe I thought of that!). The coffee at the gas station is actually quite good and they have hazelnut creamer, so it’s a nice road trip treat.
The trip to Moose Jaw was uneventful, just a scenic hour of rolling hills. Oh, I love this landscape!
First stop in Moose Jaw won’t come as a surprise, DK Sushi! The food was as good as ever and since the last few days have been extremely lean food wise, I didn’t worry too much about my waistline and ordered whatever I wanted within reason. 🙂 DK Sushi in Moose Jaw is in my top five of best sushi restaurants in the whole of the US and Canada, and I think I’ve been to enough sushi restaurants in the US and Canada for that statement to have some weight. 🙂 How lucky I am that they are the nearest sushi restaurant to me… even if they are 3 hours away round trip!
Then, it was time to spend beaucoup bucks. I’d like to share with you how I plan for big shopping runs like these. I use an app on my iPhone called Our Groceries. I have been using this app since I had an iPod Touch (six years) and can’t believe it’s still free. There are ads, but they’re not intrusive and you don’t see them if data is turned off.
I use the app to keep track of everything I need to buy regardless of if it’s to be bought in Assiniboia or Moose Jaw. I have a list for each store and categories that are not list (store) specific. When I lived in Yukon and was doing supply runs for my friends, I would use the categories to keep my friends sorted within each store. But now, I use the categories for things like produce, household, and meat.
Here are some screen shots of the app. First, the main screen, where you see my lists, which are by store. The numbers represent the number of items I need to buy at that store. As you can see, I didn’t get everything on my lists today!
Inside each list is everything I want to buy at that store, sorted by categories:
As you can see, I didn’t do too well with dairy and meat. A tub of yoghurt that is 2CAD in Mexico was 7CAD here (SAME BRAND)…
My first stop of the day was M&M Meat Shops to get chicken breasts. That was the most important thing on my list and would determine how much I had left to spend in the other stores. Chicken breasts wound up being $6 off per box, so I got four boxes, essentially getting a box free!
As I shop, I just tap on the items I’ve added to my shopping cart and they get removed from my lists and saved for the next time I want to build a list. But what if a store doesn’t have what I need?
I organized my shopping by likely least to most expensive. So after M&M, I went to Dollar Tree (yes, there’s a Dollar Tree in Moose Jaw!). There, I was able to get household things like freezer bags, plastic wrap, and bleach, for very cheap compared to even Walmart. But there were a few things I couldn’t find. What I would then do is tap the little (i) next to the item to bring up this screen:
That would then let me select another list for this item. So what I didn’t find at Dollar Tree got moved to my second to next stop’s list, Walmart.
Some stores don’t categorize things the same way, so I can also change the category of an item:
What a great app! I would be lost without it when I have to do big shops like these. I just build my lists as I think of items. Over the years, my list of items in the app has grown and I rarely have to type out the entire name of an item before it pops up.
After Dollar Tree, I went next door to Bulk Barn, the most wonderful store on the planet. There, I could buy just as much as I wanted of everything from brown rice to nuts to flours (kamut and multigrain today) and spices. Instead of spending several dollars each for containers of cumin, tumeric, basil, garlic powder, and more, I could spend 30 cents or 80 cents or 50 cents on just the quantity I need to get me through the summer. I normally spend a lot on nuts in this store, but I was on a tight budget, so I restrained myself. I was pleased to be able to buy almond butter and tahini in bulk, too, for much cheaper than I pay through mail order.
By the time I came out of Bulk Barn, I had already spent a third of my budget for the day. On to Walmart, which is just a normal one in Moose Jaw, not a Super Center with a big grocery section. I got paper goods, found Rustoleum rubber coating for my roof (all appendages crossed), and got a bunch of canned goods.
Next stop was Super Store. I usually like to buy my groceries at Safeway, but after hearing so many people tell me how much more expensive they are than Super Store, I decided to try that first. I really don’t like Super Store, finding it overwhelming and the selection in some areas lacking, but grocery prices in Canada keep going up and I really need to start paying attention to my pennies at the grocery store.
My Super Store experience started off shakily since the produce quality and selection was dismal. There were no Brussels sprouts and the onions were worse than the ones in Assiniboia were last year (and that’s saying something). I almost abandoned my cart in the ‘Mexican’ aisle full of Old Paso crap, but persevered for a bit and was rewarded with an increasingly full cart as I started to be able to cross things off my list.
I only had about $130 left to spend at this point, so I tallied everything up as I put it in my cart, switching between the Our Groceries and calculator app on my phone. I stuck to my list, second guessed every decision, and skimped on meat and dairy to come in at $143. Whew. This was in no way a ‘stock up’ cart. I’ll need a top up on a lot of things quickly. But at least the pantry basics of vinegars, oils, sauces, and condiments were in the cart as well as enough dairy and meat (in combination with the M&M chicken) to last me a while. There really isn’t anything I can use to cook up a storm and make up a huge batch of anything. I’m going to watch the Co-Op fliers and get missing items, like ground bison, there. I actually found things at Super Store that are cheaper at the Co-Op. Co-Op does do sales very well and now that I have all my basics, I can look forward to a ‘ten for ten’ sale to get some really good deals on certain things.
My favourite bit of Super Store was their ethnic foods aisle. Tucked into a corner was a proper supply of true Mexican foods, including, almost out of sight, bags of Maseca corn flour for making tortillas! I was so pleased when I found this! The bag was about $5.50 and will make a lot of tortillas, a much better deal than the $5 bags of tortillas I was buying last year!
Next to the Mexican groceries was a Middle Eastern shelf with everything from za’atar to tahini to stuffed grape leaves and more. I was very impressed!
All that said, I won’t be going to Super Store again except to get specific items. I didn’t find their prices that much better than Safeway, their selection was much smaller, they didn’t have good deals on meat, and their produce was dismal. But at least I didn’t come out of there feeling that I got robbed (too badly) or that I had wasted my time.
It was getting really late when I came out of Super Store and I had spent my budget, so I postponed the trip to Canadian Tire and the visit to Safeway for more produce (I did find frozen Brussels sprouts at Super Store, which will tide me over). I stopped at McDonald’s for a black iced coffee, the one thing that is way cheaper in Canada than in the US (1.30CAD here for a medium versus about 2.50CAD for a small in the US!).
The drive home was lovely and I made one last stop in Assiniboia. I hadn’t had any luck at Dollar Tree or Walmart in finding containers for my spices, so I decided to try our dollar store, which is huge. I found suitable containers there at a good price, so the stop was worth my time.
I got in around 6:00 and spent a bit of time unloading and putting things away. I had plugged in the freezer before leaving, so I stashed some things in there even though it’s rather silly to pay the power to run it with so little inside it. I need to get cooking!
As a final note, I was really grateful for my iPhone today. It’s not only Monday, but the first of the month, so I got several client emails today about invoicing and availability, all of which I was able to respond to promptly thanks to the Mail app on my phone. A summer project will be to set up the ‘FileMaker Go’ app on my phone so that I can consult my invoices while out of the office. A client wanted to cut me a cheque today, but I couldn’t send her the invoice right away. She said she could send the cheque without the invoice if I could give her the invoice number, which I didn’t have. I made my best guess about the number, but when I got home, I realised I was two numbers off and gave her the number for an invoice I made for another client. Thankfully, that other invoice hadn’t been sent yet, so I was able to switch the two around. I’m starting to wish I had a PA to handle this kind of stuff for me. 🙂
That’s it for today. It’s been a very long one and I have heaps of work to do tomorrow and in the next few days. Whew!