Friday, January 22, 2010

Meal Planning

My wife Lauren kind of made a new years resolution to be more organized, which, by some strange rules of marriage, means that I too , somehow, made the same resolution, which by some strange rule means I now have to clean up after myself and put things away "where they belong, not where you think they go."

One of the ways I wanted to try and reign in the chaos was to become more organized with how we do our food shopping. Planning meals and making accurate shopping lists, not only would our day to day lives easier but we could also save money by budgeting and only making one trip to the grocery store.

When we lived in Florida I made an Excel spreadsheet based on the contents of each aisle of the Publix super market where we shopped. It took some time to do but it was worth it. When I made our shopping list I sorted the items on the list by aisle number, shopping was never so easy. I never had to back track in the store because I forgot to get peanut butter and pass the snack aisle again and accidentally put 2 barrels of cheese balls into the cart. I shopped efficiently which saved time and money. Since moving back to PA I have yet to make a list like that.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Edelman who were doing some work with Kraft Foods. They wanted to know if I would interested in reviewing Kraft's new APP for the BlackBerry, Kraft Food iFood Assistant. Their website said the APP had a built in shopping list function which I thought would be perfect for me. Downloading the APP to my BlackBerry was free and Kraft offered to send me an AMEX gift card to "try the APP". Here is a disclaimer: I have been compensated by Kraft Foods to cover the cost of groceries to try out recipes and features on their iFood Assistant Lite 2.0 and to conduct a reader giveaway. My opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to post positive sentiments Kraft Foods or their mobile device offerings.

After receiving the AMEX gift card Lauren and I decided to try Kraft's 1 Bag 5 Dinners feature on their website. I clicked on the various menu buttons, adding the ingredients to my shopping list which would be accessible from my BlackBerry. I also printed the list and recipes from their website as backup. Lauren and I thought the whole experiment in planning our weekly meals would be fun and how cool that our first try would be on Kraft's dime. Lauren and I also put together our regular food shopping list for the week and we headed to the Giant Food Super Store.

Once in the store I tried to open the iFood application on my BlackBerry. It would not open. There was no decent signal. I then remembered that I can never get a decent signal in any large box store, ever. I kept trying and trying to load the APP but it would not work. I tried by the deli, nothing. I tried in the bakery, nothing. I tried in dairy, meat and seasonal sections and still nothing. It was very frustrating. It was good thing that I printed the list. We filled our cart with the Kraft ingredients as well as other items we would need and proceeded to the check out.

The check out clerk gave us our total. I swiped the AMEX gift card to compensate for the Kraft purchases. The card did not work. I swiped it again, nothing. There was that awkward moment where the clerk kind of rolled her eyes and looked at me like I was an idiot that did not know how to swipe a card. I told her it was a an AMEX gift card so maybe that was the problem. Which she then confirmed that it was a problem. Giant Food Stores does not accept American Express. I did the whole credit card shuffle in my wallet and presented my bank card to pay for our food.

Our fun experiment was becoming annoying.

Sorry, this post just became a Dennis Story (a Dennis Story is any story that goes on too long, named after my brother Dennis who does not know how to tell a short story).

Anyway, the actual recipes that we tried for the week, the whole 1 bag 5 meals, were all really really good. Each recipe for the week included using Kraft Lite Zesty Italian Dressing which really added a great flavor to each meal. One of the meals we used the dressing, instead of oil or butter, to saute onions, which I thought was a great idea. The APP itself is a great way to get recipes although I prefer just using their website. The practicality of the APP, being on a mobile device is not really, well, practical in my opinion. The shopping list feature, which to me is the one thing you would need the mobility of the APP for, could use major improvements. I do plan to use the Kraft website more often in the future for their recipes as well as their meal planning tips. They have a section Prep-and-Freeze which looks cool and useful.

As part of the deal for me trying their iFood Assistant, Kraft gave me two $50. gift card to give away to readers. So for a chance to win a $50 gift card we are going to play Price is Right. In the comments the two people who guess the total dollar amount Lauren and I spent at the Giant on our shopping trip (closest to the amount without going over) will receive one of the gift cards. Only one guess per person and I will not accept duplicate amounts so please read other peoples guesses. The gift cards are only valid for the US (but not at Giant).As a hint we spent over 40 but under 100 bucks. Remember the total is not just the Kraft items but our whole shopping trip. I will stop take guesses on Sunday 1/24/2010 at midnight. If you do not have a Blogger account (or a way for me to contact you) leave a comment but also email me at batmeaks at verizon dot net.

I will contact the winners on Monday.

76 comments:

Susie said...

I think you spent $87. Now, just Wed., I went through the self checkout at Giant and tried to pay with an Amex gift card that John had gotten from a vendor for Christmas. It was declined. I may or may not have cursed the person that gave us a worthless gift card. The little machine just said "no," it didn't say that Giant doesn't take Amex. So thanks for that; my worthless gift card may not be worthless after all.

Meegs said...

$79

Melissa said...

I guess $91 for the whole trip.

SciFi Dad said...

I'll guess $74.27.

And for the record, I am NOT putting my hand in your pocket.

Myrtle's Mayhem said...

$89.23 that's my guess!

Anonymous said...

79.71 - Denny

Robin said...

91.23

Bogart in P Towne said...

I hate that my phone does not work at the store...I love that other people's phones don't work at the store...I call it My Phone, Not Your's delema.

How about $78.75

wannagorose said...

hmmm, I think $68.70

Anonymous said...

I think you spent $81.78 and you can BROWSE THE AISLES on line which will make your spreadsheet task a little easier you can just attach your stores aisle number.
P>S> I always wanted a name for the inability to tell a short story because I do that frequently. Jeanneen

Jenn said...

I say $89.03.

I haven't tried the app on iphone yet, but I'm going to download and see if it works any better!

Michelle said...

$84.56

Lauren has my email address from Bunco. I'm one of her favorites there! LOL!

Anonymous said...

$94.33, i figured maybe you bought some diapers,dog and cat food, and at least one bag of Doritos ;)

cheri

Carter said...

$69 (haha)

Coach P said...

76.28

Charity Donovan said...

$82.50

phonemom said...

$75.22

I've never tried using the blackberry in the store before but we are lucky enough to have Wegmans (in my opinion the holy grail of grocery stores) and they have the online option to make out a shopping list and print it out by aisle or they will (new feature) package it up for you and you can just pick it up at the store. They're awesome.

Humor me girl said...

I guess $83.56

Kelly said...

$86.42

Ricky said...

67.42

Anonymous said...

82.54

thanks!
Revan303@gmail.com

The M Family said...

62.01

LEJ03 AT hotmail DOT com

Amy said...

83.91 is my guess. Thanks for this offer!
amygay at gmail dot com

C. said...

95.23

Mutt said...

97.23

SoMo said...

$64.95

Soulprncs2@aol.com

James said...

$59.71

I use an app on my iPhone for grocery shopping. I forget who makes it. It's decent. It keeps track of what order I check things off my list so it knows what order to keep the list for next time.

Hootie Mac said...

My guess is $76.01. Now I am going to drive myself crazy thinking there were clues in the post telling me what the amount really was. Just like the whole Christmas Card thing ALL OVER AGAIN......

tori spelling said...

$64.46

sheri said...

I think $91.23

Barb said...

$66.47

~Diet Goddess~ said...

$87.16

Mama D said...

$87.65 I get so irritated when my phone doesn't work in certain stores. Not all, just some. And somehow my phone knows when I'll need it and decides, "Hmm, I'm not going to work this time."

Smug said...

$52.87

Mrs. Priss said...

$73?

Amelia said...

84.75

Anonymous said...

Lauren was with you so I will go low. No Doritos No Cheese Puffs. Definitely heavy on the produce. You were allowed to get one thing for you. I will say $51.01. (I was going with (66.06).

Anonymous said...

If I win I am going to stick my hands in the air and run down the aisle and then tackle you when I get on stage.

Anonymous said...

Lauren is way hotter than the Price is Right girls

Bethany said...

73.16

Anonymous said...

$88.00--Amy in arizona

Anonymous said...

$79.42

jacs said...

85.15

Laura Leigh said...

$61.15

eclectic said...

77.50

magda said...

i fucking love spreadsheets, so going to try this with excel.

my guess is $76.54
i like numbers in a sequence. i do this on all gift cards too. it began with someone telling me that the person ringingyou up could punch an extra zero and bunk everything up. so in an effort to make them focus, and avoid extra zeros on the outbound, i always use a sequence when possible.

MamaMidwife said...

$76.81

I actually do have an excel spreadsheet for my shopping, arranged by store isle at the Big Giant Store I shop at. It lists all the common ingredients for all the foods I buy at the store. It has two columns...one before the name of the item where I write down what I need to buy....and one after the item where I take "inventory" before I make the "to buy" list. Yes, I am a little geeky about grocery shopping. But I have 5 kids and only go to the Big Store once a month ('cause it's over an hour away).

Also....we actually do call stories that should be short but aren't "Dennis" stories too. We have a friend named Dennis and he can never get to the point. Maybe it's just the name??

TheGeneticGenealogist said...

I'm going to guess $64.43!

Sharfa said...

$78.26.

I've had more problems with gift cards than I care to admit. Cash always works.

You want to get organized? One word: FLYLADY

Anonymous said...

$61.18

PaulaW1961 (at) aol

Carrin said...

I'm going for specifics $75.82. I love using the Kraft website for my meal planning...I hardly make the same thing ever!

Charlotte in Pa said...

My guess is $72.57. Thanks for the tip of the website.

Joyce said...

Given that I have no freaking clue what went on your personal shopping list... I'll go with:

85.16

Sue said...

OK. $92.73. BTW I would much rather play Plinko. Or perhaps the cliffhanger. Do you have a pair of lederhosen?

Marion said...

humm...72.42, final answer.

Anonymous said...

$57.53
shlcwendy at yahoo dot com

Jenny said...

I'll say $89.17.

Shannon said...

I think it's great when dads do the grocery shopping. My husband would rather have teeth pulled than shop for groceries, besides an occasional quick stop for milk, bread or eggs. $72.14 is my guess.
Have a great weekend!

alice said...

$78.27

Ethan, Zach, and Emma's Mom said...

I'll guess $84.61, which is what I spent on my groceries at Aldi today. I heart Aldi!

Can't wait to try out the Freeze n plan section on the Kraft website--that sounds great!

Mr. Miyagi said...

$85.17
First time commenter, long time gambler.

for a different kind of girl said...

I'm going to guess $76.50.

Can we play Plinko now?

MommaTMac said...

$80.22

MrsDoF said...

Which is why we cancelled the AMEX card = it doesn't work in too many places. Plus the 24.6% finance charge.

I'm not gonna guess a grocery total for your family.
Having been to 3 stores just today to get everything with a proper brand name,
then the hardware store for pipe parts and valves the right size to connect the hoses for the washer,
Well, free gift card or not, shopping ain't happening for awhile.

laurazim said...

Ack! Security word? "nenis"--are you sure it wasn't a "nenis" story? ;)

My guess is $73.58.

*I second the FlyLady comment.

*I also second the mountain climber, and besides leiderhosen, you must also be able to yodel the song a la Bob Barker's request of an adorable little old man who did a magnificent job when the sound effects guy was having, er, difficulties. And yes, that was a Dennis story. :)

BunnyBear said...

My guess is 87.28
nann@bunnybear.com

James (SeattleDad) said...

78.90

Karen R said...

$89.24

cajnana at yahoo

inklenaomi said...

$86.57
Bill, you're a hoot

Dad Logic said...

If they gave you $50 gift cards as a giveaway item, I'm going to assume they gave you $50 to spend on groceries as well. My guess is that your total was $47.

This app sounds like an interesting idea. Growing up, I feel like all we ate were Kraft products, so giving this a try would be like reliving a bit of my childhood.

Kathy said...

My guess is $97.57

Kathy said...

oops I am in a different time zone, missed your time frame....

Anonymous said...

$72.26

Is it too late?

magda said...

oh. did you lose my contact info. i can email you my address;) dammit.
how again did they come to pick you to test their application?

Anonymous said...

Maybe a long johnson equals a long story. Go Dennis. Tell it like it is. BTAU.

The Absence of Alternatives said...

I have always wanted to do that: mapping out the grocery store aisle! Could you show it to us? Your Excel file? So awesome!