Kroger ClickList will change the way you grocery shop

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Thank you, Lisa. You made my week.

Remember how I gushed that Kroger ClickList inspired me to get back on here?

Let’s get back to that real quick, Q&A style.

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What’s Kroger ClickList?

Short answer: Game changer.

Long answer: It’s the grocery store’s online ordering and pickup service. You order groceries online, and go pick them up at select Kroger stores.

How does it work?

Easy peasy, that’s how. After you sign up online, you grocery shop on Kroger’s ClickList website. You can shop by category if you want to browse, or you can search for specific products if you know exactly what you want. You can also see what’s on sale that week and apply digital coupons. As you select the items that you want, the site creates a running list.

At some point, you have to select a pick-up date and time to get your groceries. You can schedule your pickup for up to a week in advance. The times are separated into hour-long blocks during which you can pick up your stuff.

When it’s time for pickup, you find the designated ClickList parking spaces (I felt very much like a VIP) and call the number that’s on the parking space sign. A couple of Kroger employees will come out, and run through your order to let you know if they were out of a product and had to make substitutions. You give them your card, they give it a swipe, and BOOM, they’re loading your groceries into you car.

No stalking fellow shoppers for a parking space. No maneuvering a cart through throngs of people on a crowded Saturday. No standing in line. No fumbling with coupons.

Like I said, easy peasy.

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Are there drawbacks?

Well, Mx. Rain on My Parade, I guess there are a few.

  • You have to use your debit or credit card — no cash or check. And ClickList doesn’t accept WIC and SNAP for payment, either.
  • There’s a service charge of about $6. Kroger waives the fee the first few times you use it.
  • You rely on someone else to pick your produce, which is a trust fall you might not be willing to make with an unknown Kroger employee.
  • You can’t make an order and pick it up the same day — you have to order at least a day in advance. In the age of Amazon Prime same-day delivery, this jarred my I-need-it-right-now-dammit-this-is-America mindset.
  • And speaking of produce, you have to be VERY specific with how much you want. You can add special instructions with each product you select for your list — this is where you’d say that you want six bananas or three pounds of onions. Just make sure that your instructions are crystal clear. For example, I ordered shallots, and put “two” in the instructions. When I got home, I had two pounds of shallots (by the way, anybody need a shallot?). And one of my friends (hey, Katie!) had to make a return trip to Kroger when she got home and discovered that they had given her 40 limes.
  • ClickList spots can take up valuable space if you’re at a Kroger with a small parking lot. We can all agree that Louisville Kroger parking lots are already THE WORST.

 

You’ve found a lot of stuff to not like about ClickList. Why are you so in love with it, again?

Why you gotta be so negative?

eyeroll

*cues another bulleted list*

  • It’s convenient. Listen, I love grocery shopping as much as the next food-loving gal. But some days, I just don’t have time to grocery shop. Kroger ClickList helps me save a lot of time when I know it’s going to be a busy week.
  • THEY PUT THE GROCERIES IN YOUR CAR FOR YOU. Yes, I realize I have to bring them in when I get home, BUT STILL.
  • This can be a big help to folks who can’t make it around the store easily.
  • I didn’t stray from my grocery list. There weren’t any flashy displays or ice cream aisles to distract me while I shopped. I went down my grocery list, selected what I wanted and avoided a lot of temptation.
  • It was easier to stay on budget. It’s hard to keep a running tally of what you’ll spend while you’re shopping in the store. With ClickList, I see right away how much the groceries will cost, and I can make adjustments or switch out products if I need to.
  • THEY PUT THE GROCERIES IN YOUR CAR FOR YOU.

 

Is Kroger paying you to say all this?

NOPE. I just like the service. It could use some improvements, especially when it comes to taking WIC and SNAP, but I see this as a great tool for busy folks, people with disabilities, older adults and anybody who just doesn’t feel like fooling with Kroger.

Has anybody else adopted Kroger ClickList as their preferred way to grocery shop? Take it to the comments.

 

 

Four ways to improve your grocery shopping

 

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An oldie but goodie: My haul during one grocery trip in which Cherry Coke Zero was on sale.

I take grocery shopping seriously. I’d often join my mom when I was a kid, following her around Kroger, grabbing things on lower shelves, checking out the latest Little Critter book in the magazine aisle.

Then, I became a grown up. I had to buy my own food. I learned a valuable lesson during my first trip to Kroger on my own during my first summer internship away from home: Food is expensive. I lived on chicken and potatoes that summer, mainly because they were filling and relatively inexpensive.

It’s been *gulp* 12 years since my first solo grocery shopping trip, and I’ve honed my habits like an athlete. By doing so, I’ve been able to save a lot of money for the Thompson Wolf Pack (aka me, Rob and Roscoe).

And the truth is, I love to shop for groceries. I like surveying the selection of food, imagining all the things I will cook and how we won’t have to eat out and, therefore, will save money. And for someone who loves food as much as I do, being in a store full of it is heaven. And I think I’ve turned it into a personal challenge in which I have to figure out which items to get at which stores for the best value.

Sift through your cookbooks and Pinterest boards

Before you get your grocery list together, you need to decide exactly what you want to cook. Yep, I’m talking meal planning. DON’T PANIC. It’s really not as hard as you think.

Take some time the day before your grocery trip to sift through your favorite recipes or look on the internet for something new. Don’t forget to take your own schedule into account when you’re planning your meals for the week. If you have plans most nights of the week, forgo tedious recipes for simple ones that you can make ahead of time and/or quickly. Hint: breakfast for dinner aka brinner aka some bacon and fried eggs is always a good option.

Bring a list or GTFO

Forgetting my grocery list is amongst the worst things in life, right up there with making a sandwich with the end pieces of bread or your DVR clipping off the end of your show. A list keeps you on task. It’s like a set of rules when you go to the grocery store. True story: I’ve been known to turn around and go home if I pull into a grocery store parking lot and realize that I’ve forgotten my list.

I picked up this little tip from The Kitchn blog: I created a template of the basic groceries I get (not name brands just types of products). I organized the items on the list by where they are in the store (yes, I know the layout that well). But I also leave some blank spaces.

A list centers me. It’s easy to get distracted by everything going on in a grocery store, especially as they keep getting bigger and bigger to load in more merchandise that has nothing to do with eating.

Order of operation is key

Remember when you had to learn which order to solve math equations – everything in the parenthesis first, exponents, etc.? Well, there’s a rigid order I follow when it comes to which stores I visit first. I always start with the basics, so Aldi is my first stop. I tend to do the bulk of my shopping there (my love for this store runs deep, y’all), but it’s a good first stop because it’s the cheapest place to get staples like flour, sugar and canned goods. But as much as I love Aldi, I know I can’t get everything there, especially personal hygiene stuff I like, certain cleaning supplies and good coffee (no offense, Aldi). That’s when I head to other grocery stores such as Trader Joe’s, Lucky’s, Paul’s Fruit Market and Kroger to fill in the blanks. And we’re also dipping our toes into farmers’ market season, so keep that in mind, too.

Over time, you’ll eventually learn what you like from particular stores and whether or not you’re willing to make a special trip to get it. For example, the Italian sausage from Lucky’s is HEAVENLY, but I only stop there if I have other items to make the best use of my time and gas money.

(Blogger’s Note: For those who follow me on Twitter, you know a post about grocery shopping across Louisville is coming. I just needed to crank this one out first.)

Decide what’s important to you

Some of you might be giving me some mean side-eye right now. Lists? Planning? Multiple stores? I get it, y’all. Time is a limited resource. We’re all super busy. Take a moment and decide what matters to you and your household when it comes to groceries. Is saving money the priority? Buying local? Organic only? A combination of all three? None of the above? Once you have your grocery priorities in check, it will be easier for you to develop your own game plan.

 

Aldi comes to the East End, so use these tips to get ready

This is going to sound like poppycock, but I don’t care. I might not ever leave the East End of Louisville. The grocery stores on this end of town keep me in their orbit, and now my favorite is setting up shop.

Aldi will open at Westport Road on March 5, according to Business First of LouisvilleFor those who haven’t been blessed with an Aldi in their vicinity, this European discount grocery store chain is Trader Joe’s brother in price, operations and origin. I’m a huge fan, as I’ve written about on the blog here, here and here.

My fellow East Enders need to check out my blog post about navigating Aldi for the first time. Your grocery budget will thank you for visiting a grocery store with inexpensive cooking staples and so much more.

Don’t sleep on Aldi for your holiday baking needs

Pineapple thumbprints were the first cookies of this holiday season in the Thompson house.
Pineapple thumbprints were the first cookies of this holiday season in the Thompson house.

Three years ago, I started a Christmas tradition by accident.

It was a bittersweet holiday season. I had just started a new day job, but the first paycheck hadn’t come in yet. I was also freshly married, so my family tripled in size. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I wanted to do something nice for my relatives.

That November and December, I baked and baked and baked. Batches upon batches of sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate chip cookies and double-chocolate cookies filled my freezer. Cookie sheets and parchment paper were my faithful companions, along with a dog eager to catch batter that flew out of the mixing bowl. And bless my poor oven’s heart — that thing really earned its keep that winter.

Fortunately, the cookies were a hit. And to keep up with my annual holiday baking, I’ve turned to one of my favorite retailers — Aldi.

I’ve shouted my love of this bargain grocery store on the blog before. This year, I realized Aldi is the perfect place to stock up on baking essentials at low prices. The center aisle at the Dixie Highway location was filled with Christmas goodies and odds and ends, like a bag of teeny Andes Mints for cookies or a whole pumpkin pie kit.

Here’s a look at some of the baking goodies I snagged on my last visit:

  • Molasses for my gingerbread men*: $1.99
  • A four-pound bag of sugar: $1.39
  • A bag of pecans for my shortbread cookies: $2.99
  • A tube of Betty Crocker icing for aforementioned gingerbread men: $1.99

Now that I have all of my ingredients, it’s time to get back to baking. If you’re interested in hitting up Aldi’s baking supplies, Aldi is located at 3442 Preston Hwy., 5109 Dixie Hwy. and 4301 Bardstown Rd. in Louisville. There are also southern Indiana locations at 3131 E. 10th St. in Jeffersonville and 3118 Grant Line Rd. in New Albany.

Just remember to bring your quarter.

*Gingerbread people? I’ve watched all of Transparent on Amazon Prime, so I want to use the preferred gender identity of my cookies.

What’s your favorite neighborhood grocery store?

Local Louisville grocery stores are having their moment.

Insider Louisville profiled Sean Reynolds, an entrepreneur who plans to open Reynolds Grocery Store in Clifton next month. The store, which will be located at 1813 Frankfort Avenue, will be “closer to an indoor farmers’ market/Paul’s Fruit Market model than a full grocery.”

Reynolds will join a growing line-up of grocery stores that offer regional food at reasonable prices. Here are some of my favorites and what I turn to them for:

  • The Root Cellar. This relatively new store has two locations in Old Louisville and Germantown, and is $1,000 away from creating a Root Mobile to deliver produce to food deserts in South and West Louisville. Great for seasonal produce, farm-raised meat, dairy and eggs.
  • Paul’s Fruit Market. The Paul’s location around my way hits its peak between 5 and 6 p.m. That’s when office drones like me run in for last-minute ingredients to complete weeknight meals. Paul’s has a little bit of everything in its selection, from cheese and crackers to pasta and pesto. Great for fruit baskets, fresh orange juice, deli meat.
  • Frank’s Meat & Produce. If your parents where raised in Louisville, ask them about Frank’s. More than likely, they made frequent stops to this grocery store on Preston Highway. I don’t know what’s better at Frank’s — the hot lunches that never break $10 or the butcher’s counter with its steady supply of fresh meat. Great for meat, lunches, hard-to-find snacks.

What is your favorite neighborhood grocery store in or around Louisville?

Run to Aldi to get some gourmet cheeses and other fun food for the New Year

Still have some entertaining left to do? Need to bring some goodies to the office? Or do you just have a bone-crushing love of cheese but a disproportionate budget?

Get your butt to one of my favorite stores, Aldi.

For the past few weeks, the discount grocery chain has busted out seasonal specials. These are foodstuffs that Aldi holds back until special occasions, kind of like nice china or lacy underwear.

Anyhoo, with the year drawing to a close, I expect that these items will disappear, along with bundles of ugly Christmas sweaters, until next holiday season, so it’s time to stock up.

A big portion of their winter seasonal items is made up of “gourmet” cheeses. I’m sure there are cheese snobs out there who will turn their noses up at discount dairy, but I can’t turn down 4-ounce logs of goat cheese for $1.99 (in fact, I bought three logs during one visit). Here are some other items on sale:

  • Brie or havarti cheese: $2.99
  • A box of six-cracker assortment: $2.49
  • Brown-and-serve rolls: 99 cents
  • Red or green sprinkles: 99 cents
  • Queen Anne’s Chocolate-Covered Cherries: $1.19
  • Golden raisins: $2.29

For a complete list of seasonal sales, click here.

 

Fine print: Louisville grocery deals for the week of 6.20.10

Bear with me, folks.

I’m going to try something new with this entry.

I want to make it simpler to find grocery deals  in Louisville. So instead of doing a long run-down, I’m going to highlight the best deals on certain products.

If you like this format, let me know. Contact me if you don’t.

The Cheapest…

  • Milk: Kroger, $1.98/gallon (with Kroger card)
  • Bread: ValuMarket, 99 cents/loaf (Bunny bread)
  • Raspberries: Meijer, Five containers for $5
  • Peaches: Kroger, 88 cents/pound (with Kroger card)
  • Grapes: Meijer, 88 cents/pound
  • Minute Maid Orange Juice: ValuMarket, $1.99/carton
  • Cantaloupes: Meijer, Two for $3
  • Top sirloin steak: ValuMarket, $3.99/pound
  • Kellogg’s cereal: ValuMarket, Five boxes for $10

No grocery listing this week on the blog

It’s tough living in a house with five other people.

Sometimes, they forget that you need to see the grocery ads from Sunday’s paper in order to update your blog.

Sometimes, they throw the ads into the recycling bin outside.

And sometimes, it rains.

All this means that there will be no Fine print: Louisville grocery deals this week.

My apologies, folks.

In the meantime, visit some of the websites of the grocery stores you frequent to learn about their sales this week.

4 tips for shopping at Aldi

A good friend of mine may never return to one of the best places to find great grocery deals.

The store was Aldi. The friend was confused.

Courtesy of http://www.Aldi.com

Aldi is a discount grocery store chain with more than 1,000 stores in 31 states. The store also has international arms in Europe and Australia. Aldi carries “private selection,” aka off-brand items, that are comparable to many of the name brands you find in other grocery stores. But these items are often just a fraction of the cost of popular brands, which is music to my little red wallet (just check out this week’s deals for proof).

Unfortunately, my friend visited Aldi and left not wanting to ever return.

She shopped with her arms filled with groceries because she couldn’t figure out how to detach a cart from the rows outside the store. She couldn’t put her food in bags after she paid because the store charged for bags. Then there was an incident involving a metal bar and a cardboard box that I’m still trying to figure out.

Aldi is a fabulous store with great prices. But here are some things you need to know (courtesy of the store’s website) to get the most out of your shopping experience.

  1. Bring a quarter. “You’ll find ALDI shopping carts hooked together right outside the door. As you approach the store, just insert a quarter to release a cart. When you’re finished shopping, reconnect the chain and get your quarter back. This expense-saving tradition (no rolling carts to chase and no damaged cars!) has become a legendary part of the ALDI culture.”
  2. Remember those reusable bags in the back of the trunk? Better bring them inside. “And as long as you’re bringing a quarter, bag even more savings at ALDI by bringing some bags from home. To help bring you honest to goodness savings, we don’t hire baggers or bury the cost of free grocery bags in our prices. Instead, we encourage you to bring your own.” If not, you’ll end up having to buy your own bags.
  3. Don’t forget your cash. Aldi doesn’t accept credit cards, but they gladly take debit cards, cash and food stamps. Taking checks also slows down the line and saddles us with bad check costs, so we don’t mess around with them. By avoiding credit cards, we avoid the extra time it takes to sign a slip and the hefty processing fee charged by credit card companies.”
  4. Don’t expect to get all your grocery shopping done at Aldi. I usually stop at Aldi first during the week, but wrap up my grocery shopping at other stores. “Our customers find they can do as much as 90% of their weekly shopping at ALDI. We carry everything from fresh meat and produce to frozen foods to dairy, bakery, canned goods, and paper products.”

Any other tips for Aldi shoppers?

19 farmers’ markets to visit in and around Louisville (and counting)

Peppers at a farmers' market.

Updated 6.16.10

It’s that time again.

Farmers’ markets have sprouted up across Louisville, displaying a rainbow of produce more brilliant than anything in an art gallery — cardinal red peppers, mustard yellow melons, kelly green pea pods.

I plan to visit my first farmers’ market of the season this week. Here is a list, courtesy of Local Harvest, of some markets in Louisville and southern Indiana.

  • Old Louisville FarmWorks Market, 1143 South Third Street (parking lot of Walnut Street Baptist Church)
    • 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays, June through mid-October
  • Gray Street Farmers’ Market, 485 E. Gray Street
    • 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Thursdays, June 4 through Oct. 29
  • Bardstown Road Farmers’ Market, 1722 Bardstown Road
    • 4:00-6:30 p.m. Thursdays
    • 8am-noon Saturdays (year round, different hours in the winter)
  • Rainbow Blossom Farmers’ Market, 3738 Lexington Road
    • Noon-4 p.m. Sundays, May through October
  • Beechmont Open Air Market, Southern Parkway at Wellington Avenue
    • 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, June through September
  • Broadway Baptist Church Farmers’ Market, 4000 Brownsboro Road
    • 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, now through September
  • Mid City Mall Farmers’ Market, 1250 Bardstown Road
    • 4-7 p.m. Thursdays, now through October
  • St. Matthews Farmers’ Market, 4100 Shelbyville Road (parking lot of Beargrass Christian Church)
    • 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, May through September
  • Suburban Christian Church Farmers’ Market, 7515 Westport Road
    • 3-7 p.m. Thursdays, May through October
  • Phoenix Hill Farmers’ Market, 829 East Market Street
    • 3-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, now through October
  • Jeffersontown Farmers’ Market, 10434 Watterson Trail
    • 3-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays
    • 7 a.m.-noon Saturdays, May through October
  • Jewish Family and Career Services, 3587 Dutchmans Lane
    • 12:30-4:30 p.m. Sundays, May through October
  • Okolona Farmers’ Market, 7405 Preston Highway
    • 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays, June 23 through Sept. 8
  • Southwest Farmers’ Market, 10200 Dixie Highway (Valley High School)
    • 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, June through October
  • St. Andrew United Church of Christ, 2608 Browns Lane
    • 3-6 p.m. Thursdays
  • Norton Commons Farmers’ Market, corner of Norton Commons Boulevard and Meeting Street, Prospect, Ky.
    • 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, now through Nov. 6
  • St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church Farmers’ Market, 6710 Wolf Pen Branch Road, Prospect, Ky.
    • 4-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays
    • 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, now through Oct. 30
  • Jeffersonville Farmers’ Market, Corner of Chestnut and Locust streets at Wall Street Church, Jeffersonville, Ind.
    • 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays (June 1 through mid-October)
    • 3-6 p.m. Tuesdays (June 1 through mid-October)
  • New Albany Farmers’ Market, 202 E. Market Street, New Albany, Ind.
    • 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays (May through October)
    • 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays (May through October)

Have I missed something? Please forgive me if I have omitted your favorite market. Just shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment.