Trader Joe’s Silly Thing This Week

Hybrids are all around us. Cars? Hybrids, spelled right out on the bumper. Plants? Hybrids, saving us all from the horrors of having to spit orange seeds out.  Zonkeys are clearly going to take over the world with cuteness soon.

This one, though, I could have lived without.

   Science Has Gone Too Far

           Science Has Gone Too Far

I like bagels. I like pretzels. I’m pretty easygoing on most things.  

Picturing this, though, I’m getting an image of fluffy white insides with leathery salty crust that ordinary tooth maneuvers don’t exactly get a bite through, leaving me with sandwich innards everywhere, or butter dripping down my shirt to pair with the grease stains from some pizza I once ate (I’m a mess, it’s true). 

It’s possible there is some taste benefit, but that would be due entirely to salt, which I can apply to a bagel already. We have the technology. It looks like this.  


Yes, I know, that one is nearly empty. It is nearly empty because it’s useful.  Which is more than I feel I can say about the Pretzel Bagel ($2.49 for an 18 oz bag of 6 at a TJ’s near you).


Trader Joe’s Silly Thing This Week

Finally, a new Fearless Flyer.  A whole new crop of products to mock, and as always, with helpful Victorian Graphics!

Screen shot 2015-04-30 at 9.27.31 PM

Dancing? Or fighting? Is there a difference?

This is 5oz of no-bacon-but-still-baconish and cheese popcorn, for $1.99.  In the realm of snack food, this isn’t the most you’ll pay for puffy salty carbs, but given popcorn you’d make in your house is an order of magnitude cheaper this stuff better be really bacon cheesetastic.

Which seems unlikely, given that there isn’t any bacon, just ‘bacon-ish natural smoke flavor’. So that vegetarians can get their bacon fix, I suppose.

The best part of the description is the mash-up quote from a  Beggin’ Strips/I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter commercial, where TJ’s thinks this product might have you saying, “I can’t believe it’s not bacon!”  (And whoa! check out the hair on that pups mom! and that FONT. Lord.) Because what you want to reference, when talking about your yummy snack food, is dog treat commercials from days of yore. That’s basic good sense, right there.  

Next we’ll see Chex Mix commercials using the Meow Mix theme song, but with the word ‘Chex’ instead of ‘Meow’. Chex chex chex chex, Chex chex chex chex, Chex, chex chex chex CHEX chex chex chex.

I’m not gonna lie. I might buy this one, if only to poll the citizenry of Chez Cheepie to see if this snack does taste like the promised bacon.  And so we can all just randomly bust out, “IT’S BACON!!!” as the feeling moves us.

Trader Joe’s Silly Thing of the Week

Trader Joe’s, I love you.  Seriously. Who else would have these silly drawings? Who else would sell me a $2 chocolate bar with hot pepper pop rocks inside?

53913-fireworks-chocolate-barIt’s so supercute that I”m clearly buying one if they’re still in the store when I get there.

I mean, look at those adoring eyes!  And they’re wrapping up 2.8 oz of chocolate. Chocolate that has fireworks inside.  

It doesn’t get much better than that.


Trader Joe’s Silly Thing This Week

I like Trader Joe’s. The prices for things like milk and eggs aren’t crazy, so I can stop in to browse and still buy the things I actually need.  The people working there seem happy.  There is free coffee, the kids like hunting for the stuffed armadillo, and even if it is $3 now, Two-Buck-Chuck is a deal. 

Then when I’m done, I can leave the parking lot and go in whichever direction I need to. That shouldn’t be a plus, but given how HEBs seem to manage to make that a struggle, I feel like noting it as a positive.

Their ad system is different from other stores, though, and it’s amusing to me.  They don’t have a weekly ad, but a monthly one. Products get essays about them, because TJ’s loves their products.  Not to mention weird old-timey cartoons: 

Cupid Bag

What’s not to love there?  But having me click and load four pages before I can find a thing and know how much it is is more than I can happily deal with, so I’m picking one product a week from them to highlight.  If ‘highlight’ means ‘mock in a loving way’.

This week’s product is the Inner Bean, a companion to a product I am unfamiliar with called Inner Peas (Hi-yoooooo! is what DH would say here).  It’s a snack, where black bean puree is mixed with rice flour and sunflower oil and baked. 

Inner Bean

 Sounds like a party in a bag, right? A party where there’s likely not a lot of beer and BBQ, but maybe it is your kind of party.  If it is, you can get these bean-pod shaped wonders for $1.49 per 3 oz bag. 

Of course they’re bean-pod shaped. Otherwise the humor inherent in pretending baking bean dip is a good snack treat is completely lost.

Kettle Chips, check yourself!

While not about a deal, this email I just sent to Kettle Chips is grocery related:  

Hello, Chip People.  I am writing with a concern about a sack of Spicy Thai chips we purchased last week.  

These chips are usually flavored with whatever goes into the Spicy Thai blend.  This is an important part of the chip, especially in our family.  These chips are purchased by my husband specifically so that I won’t eat his chips, which he can than ration out among however many chip-eating sessions he feels is appropriate. Without the Spicy Thai seasoning, we’re left with just chips, and he’s got no snack defense at all, upsetting the normally tranquil atmosphere of our home.
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Super Bowl Snacking

I love parties where  I get to snack for hours.  Cocktail party?  YAY!  New Year’s hors d’oeuvres? WONDERFUL.  Tuesday? AMAZING.

The Superbowl adds an excellent level of no-we-don’t-give-a-hoot-about-cholesterol-today-and-if-you’re-lactose-intolerant-watch-yourself, so I’m double happy.

So here are some snacky deals that I would not normally put up, but given the sheer amount of snackery to happen, I thought it might help some folks.


  • Daniele Natural Salame,    7oz. $3.99/ea —good for slicing and serving with cheese
  • Sprouts brand salsa,        16oz. $2/ea


  • Owens sausage, 16oz chub      $2.49/ea these are good for making those sausage-Bisquick balls, or just meatballs


  • Kettle potato chips, 8.5 oz.       $3/ea
  • Chex Mix, 8.5 oz.                     $1/ea

Frozen pizzas are on sale everywhere.

Any of the chicken on sale can be used for buffalo chicken dip (except the ground chicken breast, don’t be ridiculous), which is a football favorite.

Wheatsville has all manner of chips on sale, if Lays and Ruffles aren’t your thing.

Bluebell is $4.44 at Randalls, and $4.50 at Fiesta. Those are decent prices, but not the best. You might want some because you’re having people over, though, so if you do, go there.

Guacamole is on my menu for Sunday, given the cheap avocados. I’ll also likely get out the scale and sort out the Avocado Math that’s been bugging me. Stay tuned.

Cheep Cheep!

Popcorn, Peanuts, Pumpkin Pie*

Snacks can kill a grocery budget.

I’ve often had a great week of frugal living, only to see my husband go out and buy three kinds of chips, two kinds of beef jerky, and Funyuns. FUNYUNS. Having a good frugal week derailed by Funyuns is a sad thing, indeed. To combat this, I started a new campaign, which is ‘I will have snacks and desserts available at home.’

This might seem odd, but I’m a person that eats all the salty snacks, if salty snacks are available, so I do not buy them. Thus, my husband’s frustration. Happily, he does like popcorn.

Popcorn is the best frugal snack, but only if you’re paying attention.  It’s baffling to me, but if you’re shopping for popcorn, prices vary wildly depending on where you are, and what kind you’re buying.

When I type ‘wildly’ I mean the ordinary flux of grocery prices, the come and go of things like ‘turkey is cheap in November’ and ‘eggs are cheap at Easter’ don’t apply, and more that HEB will have a pound of popcorn for sale at 99c for a 1lb bag, Randalls will have that bag for $3.99 and Sprouts will have popcorn in bulk for 69c/lb.  If you want a container of Orville Redenbacher? That’s likely to start at $4.99.  I’m not sure if I should start following commodities markets or what, but popcorn is one of  the strangest things, pricewise, that I regularly purchase.

In order to make sense of this single purchase, long ago I decided I only buy popcorn as bagged kernels.  I don’t buy microwave popcorn, popped corn, jiffy-pop, or anything else that comes down the pike (It’s only a matter of time before I can point my iphone at a bag of popcorn and make it pop, and I won’t buy that either) just kernels. It used to be normal for me to pick up a 2lb sack for about $1.50, and now if I see anything that’s about 99 cents a pound I buy it because I don’t know when I’ll see it again! And then there’s something like last month, where the HEB I was in had it super-cheap, 50 cents for a pound. If you find cheap prices. let Cheepie know!

For ages, I popped corn on the stove. Then I was at a friend’s house and met the Stir Crazy. I love this thing. The 6 year old can work it, and it’s entertainment, then food! Yes, it’s a single-use appliance that takes up space. But we use it a few times a week, and that’s more than the fireplace, and you don’t see people crabbing at me to get rid of that sucker.  I’ve popped on the stove, I’ve had an air popper, I’ve popped in brown paper bags in the microwave, and I’m here to say that the Stir Crazy is the way to go. Feel free to tell me I’m popping corn all wrong in the comments. Or share your topping ideas–I usually go with parmesan and ground mustard. How do you pop?

My other favorite snack is peanuts. We all love cashews, almonds, and those crazy smoked almonds that must be loaded with chemicals to make them taste like that. But peanuts are the nut that goes on sale on a regular basis at Sprouts for $1.99/lb. That’s the cheapest nut I’ve found, and I stock up when it happens. Someday, I’ll stock up enough to make peanut brittle, but we always just end up eating them before I get ready to melt sugar into lava while the kids run through the kitchen.

Then, there’s dessert. After twenty years, I’ve finally sorted out that sometimes my husband will take us all out to dinner, just because he wants dessert and knows there’s not anything like dessert in the house.  To combat this, I’ve started making dessert once a week, and trying to have ice cream in the freezer (stocking up on Bluebell on sale is fun!).  The kids love making dessert, and this way we save by having pie, bread pudding, or cookies at home, and not out.

*Apologies to Jay &the Techniques. For my mom, here’s the ‘video‘.

Raisins? Oats? Roll ’em up!

Bulk raisins are on sale at Sprouts this week, and I’ve got a great way for you to use them.

With raisins on sale this week, and rolled oats last week, I thought I’d share one of our family staples. Despite my love of all hot breakfast cereals, none of my kids want anything to do with oatmeal. It’s possible I fed them too much when they were babies, since that powdery oatmeal was so easy to mix with water, formula or breastmilk and airplane right into baby faces. So now they’re all done with oatmeal, and yet, I buy rolled oats when they are on sale.

A friend posted this on Facebook years ago, and my kids still get happy when I roll them up. We’ve done many variations, but most commonly I go ahead and toss raisins in.  The original recipe my friend posted has several more variations–cranberry pistachio and almond joy, for example.

I’m listing the ingredients below in ‘parts’, because I find it easier to vary it when I think of it that way. The link above is more like an ordinary recipe. You can substitute any other ‘butter’ for peanut butter, just keep in mind if it’s runnier, because you’ll need less, and maybe less sweetener, too.   These keep well, I’ve heard, but I haven’t had any last long enough to find out.

  • 4 parts rolled oats
  • 1 part coconut flakes
  • 1 part peanut butter
  • 1 part ground flax seed
  • 1 part chocolate chips
  • 1 part other thing you like: almonds, raisins, sunflower seeds, things like that.
  • a bit less than 1 part honey or agave nectar, depending on what else you’ve added

You basically need enough honey to make the stuff stick together. So start with some, and stir it in. It’ll be ok, they’ll eat them no matter what, really.

I’m working up to having a variation of these always available to wean my kids off granola bars. At least until I start making granola bars.

Cheep Cheep!