Tag Archives: walmart

Final round of Walmart Grocery To Go

 

For my third and final test of Walmart Grocery To Go service, I decided I would go with ways to preserve meals and plan ahead. Because everyone is busy and convenience is king in today’s over-stimulated and demanding world, being able to plan ahead and cook meals in advance can save you on a hectic week night.

In preparation, I ordered several different sizes of Zip-Lock baggies, quarts, gallons, sandwich size, and snack bags.I got zip-and-steam bags, which you can put fresh veggies into, seal, then steam them in the microwave, and Crock Pot liners, for easier clean up. I ordered a few foil roaster pans with lids, for lasagna and casseroles to freeze.

I got many items which can be stored long-term and used in a variety of dishes, including black beans, pinto beans, Jasmine rice, chickpeas, split peas, black-eyed peas, barley, quinoa, and lentils. These will become soups, stews, curries, and chili. Dried fruits such as dates and apricots and raisins, and cashews and mixed nuts for trail mixes and granola bars.

I also ordered a few games, SkipBo and Phase 10, because it is always nice to have cards on handy when bored during a cold winter night or when friends come to call.

This order came around noon on Valentine’s Day, which I was spending alone. Because the S.O. had already moved to Connecticut to start a new job! Super exciting I know. More on that later.

The delivery guys were very sweet, and made sure to ask if I was okay with a substitution they had to make. If something you ordered is out of stock, they notify you by email, and then you have to verbally agree to it before you can accept the order. You have the option to send it all back and wait until what you wanted is in stock again, which is nice if you had your heart set on something.

So, one weekend or weeknight, when you have a few hours to cook, pick 2 or 3 recipes which store frozen well. Take stock of your refrigerator and cabinets for ideas. Almost all vegetables lend themselves well to soups and stews. Rice or potatoes are easily made into many dishes.

Be flexible; if you don’t have ground beef but have leftover chicken breast, you can still make a mean white bean chicken chili. And don’t be afraid to experiment!

Ideas include:

Now that you’ve chosen your recipes, gather all your ingredients. Spend some time chopping and peeling, feeling the texture of the vegetables, the lovely colors, the smells and tastes. Cooking is the best way to get back in touch with what we eat, and thus are putting into our bodies.

Once you have two or three pots happily simmering, you can entertain yourself elsewhere. Taste as you go, remembering that you will need to re-season when you reheat the dishes, as flavors may dull over time.

Now you can portion out your home-cooked goodies into individual or family-sized portions. Soups and stews can be spooned into freezer bags and laid flat to freeze. Lasagnas and casseroles can be assembled and baked in the roaster pans and then frozen to be thawed and re-heated in the oven later.

Now that is convenience food I can get behind!

Walmart Grocery To Go – Part 2

 

This is part two of my experience with the Walmart Grocery To Go service.

This second order was in anticipation of a birthday party. My boyfriend got lucky, our birthdays are exactly one day apart. No excuse for forgetting my birthday, ever.

So we were both at home in our respective states for the holidays, meaning we did not get to celebrate our birthdays together. We decided when we got back we would throw a joint party for all our friends to come hang out and tell stories of their holidays too. This would be the first time we all saw each other in about a month.

I had placed the order a few days ahead of time, and set the delivery for between 6-8PM on Thursday. We had dinner, watched a movie. It was 6:30… 7:30… 8… 8:30… 9. I called the customer service line to figure out what was going on. The representative was refreshingly helpful and kind, he really was awesome. If only all customer service was like this.

However, what he found out was that the location I had ordered from was running four hours behind, and no one could contact the driver of the delivery truck, though my order was apparently already loaded onto the truck.

My order might not be delivered until after 1am… do I still want it? Ummm… no! I’m not staying up way past midnight when I have to wake up the next day at 5:30AM for work.

So I thought he cancelled it, yet I still got a call from someone around 11, who left me a voicemail telling me the same thing, my order will be delivered around 1am, do I still want it?

No.

However, there were no delivery times available the next day, which was the planned day of the party. I could go pick up the order at the store after noon, did I want to do that?

No, thank you.

The whole point of delivery, is that it is delivered. I don’t have to drive a half hour and go into the store to pick it up then load it into my car, drive home, and unload it all.

Needless to say, I was frustrated.

However, three of the people we invited had other things happening that weekend anyways, so we moved the party date to the following weekend. Good news for Walmart I guess.

So I rescheduled the delivery. And as a bonus for having messed up, they increased my budget a little and gave me free delivery again. Something is better than nothing I suppose. Now the delivery was set for the following Thursday night, same time, 6-8PM.

Thankfully, this one showed up on time, right around 6:45.

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I had decided to go with an Asian theme for dinner. I stocked up on some stir-fry noodles, teriyaki sauce, fresh veggies and chicken, sweet & sour sauce, and egg rolls. I already have some chop sticks I bought forever ago, so I busted those out too.

There was one item out of stock (the bok choi for stir fry) and a substitution of Lays brand dip for the Walmart Great Value brand. That wasn’t a problem, because the substituted brand was actually more expensive, but they do not charge you the difference.

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Then for the “party” portion after dinner, I got several types of chips and French onion dip. A few cans of chickpeas and a can of tahini so that I can make my own hummus. Several party size bags of white cheddar popcorn (pretty sure the “white” part is crack. Cause for real, I can eat an entire bag in a day), and jelly beans.

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In terms of the rest of the party experience, I also decided to get some “Island Fresh” Febreze so my house smells pretty, as well as Suave clinical strength deodorant, so I smell pretty too! And bonus for those readers over 21, beer is an option on Walmart Grocery. Count me in for a 24-pack of the 16 oz cans of Budweiser. For after the party, I got a gigantic bottle of lemon scented Cascade, to make dish clean-up easy breezy.

On to the cooking!

Chicken Teriyaki Stir Fry

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Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes Thai stir fry noodles
  • 2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
  • 1 cup julienned bell peppers
  • 2 cups broccoli/cauliflower
  • 1 cup shredded spinach
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 small bottle teriyaki sauce (or make your own)
  • 3-4 pounds chicken breast strips
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch or flour to thicken sauce
  • Sriracha or hot sauce, to taste
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil

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Step 1: Bring a pot of water to a boil, and boil your noodles 7-9 minutes. In a large frying pan or wok, heat the coconut oil. Add the peppers, broccoli, and/or cauliflower and cook 5-6 minutes, covered. Then add the spinach, cabbage, and any spices/hot sauce. Cook another few minutes, until all veggies are soft.

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Step 2: Either in a separate pan, or remove the veggies and keep warm, cook the chicken strips 8-10 minutes both sides, until no longer pink in the center. Pour on the terikayi sauce, heat to simmering. Add the cornstarch and whisk to combine. Cook until sauce thickens. Combine with veggies.

Step 3: Strain the noodles, and add to the pan. Mix everything well, and heat through.

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We had a lovely dinner together, sharing stories and catching up. The stir fry was a hit! The teriyaki sauce is delicious but thinner than I thought. I added some cornstarch to thicken it up and it worked like a charm.

Homemade Hummus

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Ingredients:

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, depending on taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons warm water
  • Dash of ground paprika for serving

Optional: black or red pepper, roasted red peppers, dill, cilantro, parsley, cooked edamame, roasted beets

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Step 1: Add the tahini and lemon juice to a food processor or blender, and blend on high for at least 1 minute, up to 10. According to this recipe from Inspired Taste, this makes all the difference in a smooth, store-bought-like consistency.

Step 2: Open the can of garbanzos, and put in a colander. Run cold water over them for several minutes to remove any toxins & excess sodium. If you wish, add to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 2-3 minutes to soften them. Then add to the tahini paste and blend another 4-5 minutes.

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Step 3: Add the garlic cloves, olive oil, and sea salt to taste, along with any other desired ingredients. If you don’t have tahini, try peanut butter or almond butter. You can use whatever spices sound good to you. Roast some beets and add them for a shocking pink hummus or a cup of cooked edamame for a delicate green boost of protein and fiber. Get crazy!

Step 4: Blend everything well until the desired consistency, adding a few tbsp water if needed. Use a spatula to pour into a bowl, and garnish with some olive oil, a dash of paprika, and/or some fresh herbs. Enjoy alone, on sandwiches, or with fresh crudités.

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Several games were gifted to us during the holidays, one of which is always a huge hit at parties: Cards Against Humanity. With game-play much like Apples to Apples but with a much more… “mature” card content, our group of friends loved it.

If your friends (and you) like intricate games with a lot of thought and strategy, you might want to look into Betrayal at House on the Hill.  In this game, you are a band of brave explorers who find a haunted house. You go through the house discovering new rooms. Based on the rooms you find, different events can happen.

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At some point during the game, “the Haunting” is triggered. The game decides who becomes the Traitor, who must now try to accomplish their goal to the detriment of their former friends, whilst the Heroes now try to defeat them first.

With 50 different unique stories, and endless unpredictable variations, this game will keep us entertained for a long time to come!

One whole bag of the white cheddar popcorn disappeared within the first two hours, and the homemade hummus was way better than even the freshest deli purchased tub. No one commented on the Island scent, but no one said it smelled bad either, so that’s a win. And the lemon Cascade works great for clean dishes with no streaks, and just a hint of lemon scent.

All in all, this delivery was far more trouble and frustration, though it worked out in the end. If I had this planned for an event that actually happened the day it was planned and my delivery just didn’t show up until after midnight, I would be extremely displeased. They did try to make it right after the fact, but we are at 50% (one of two deliveries were positive experiences).

One more delivery remains, so stay tuned!

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Post 300! — Walmart Party To Go

 

WOW how time flies! This is my 300th published post on this blog.

I am amazed that it has kept up, and even gotten better over time. Thanks to all you wonderful people who continue to read, comment, ask questions, and make suggestions. I am always looking for ways to better serve my readers, so if you ever have something you want to see here or know about, please shoot me an email (budget epicurean (at) gmail (dot) com). Again, thank you!

In other news…

A while ago I was contacted by media representatives for Walmart. The company offers a delivery service for anything you order online, called Walmart To Go. Now they are expanding it to the Denver area, and wanted some locals to try out the service and see if it was a good fit for their lives.

I decided to throw a dinner party. Some friends of mine I hadn’t seen in a long while had had a baby, another had just successfully defended his thesis and was awarded a PhD, and another was the only remaining member of our first year class who stayed in PhD school.

Not to mention it is the holiday season, when we want to surround ourselves with joy and make happy memories with people we care about. All these reasons are reasons to party!

Disclaimer: The food and decorations for this party were provided by Walmart.

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I was given a set budget, and challenged myself to come up with the nicest-looking decor and spread as I could on that budget. If you have followed my blog at all, you know that is kind of my thing. I usually am a bargain-hunter with food, but for all other items this would be a challenge.

After I placed my order, I simply waited. The delivery person gave me a call 15 minutes ahead of time to let me know he was on the way. I appreciate that in case you were just about to shower, on the phone with a parent, taking the dogs for a walk, whatever, you know when to expect a knock on the door.

He showed up right on time, with several bags full of goodies. I did not know that the delivery persons are not allowed to enter your home. They must hand your bags through the door to you. That makes sense for everyone, safety first, and they don’t want to accidentally break anything inside the house by knocking it over with a full bag.

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So Thursday night, my kitchen floor covered in food and decorations, I had about 20 hours until the party, and felt mostly prepared already.

You can see that a $100 budget gets you quite a lot of food! I shopped smart, and chose non-name-brand items mostly. The ravioli were $2.79 per bag, all salad fixings were about $6 total, garlic bread for just over $1 per piece.

The large olive oil, beans, and rice cost about $10, but will make tons of meals! A simple beans and rice for a side, or with the frozen broccoli thrown in to make it a meal, and that $10 can turn into 50 cents or less per serving.

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The decoration budget netted: 5 strings of lights, 5 light-up candy canes, light hooks, a rope light, a big red bow for the front door, a wax melter, and a nice tablecloth. The original plan was one light-up reindeer and 2 light-up trees, but I think we ended up with a lot more bang for our buck this way.

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The light-up candy canes were adorable, but they do have a limited stretch of wire between them. If you want more than a foot between each one, you will also need some small extension cords.

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My boyfriend is nuts, and thinks climbing around on roofs is a fun hobby. He didn’t use a ladder, just jumped right up there and started clipping lights to the gutters. All told, it probably took about 2 hours of work the morning of the party to decorate, inside and out. We did run out of lights, and had to go get one more strand.

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The finished product came out really well, I’m very happy with how it looks! You can see our two terriers in the door there wanting to come outside with me.

The food budget covered: cheese and beef ravioli, tomato and alfredo sauce, 2 loaves of garlic bread, spinach, romaine, broccoli slaw mix, ranch and Italian dressings, fruit dip, apples, bananas, strawberries, an apple pie, green tea, beans, frozen broccoli, olive oil, and rice.

I also added in paper plates, napkins, utensils, and wet wipes and spray cleaner for after the party. (You can see in the corner of the photo my homemade draft stopper! This thing is awesome in the winter to keep the chill from the garage out)

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This is proof that you can eat healthy foods on a budget as well. The two apples, strawberries, one pear, raspberries, and dip all cost less than $10 and made a lovely platter with more left over.

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I took the black silverware and wrapped them in white napkins. Then cut 1 inch strips of crepe paper and wrapped it around the bundle for color. Red, green, and white to go with our holiday theme. Boyfriend asked, are we saluting Italy?  =)

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The smaller red plates I put on top of larger white plates, which matched the beige tablecloth on top of a red one. The table has extra leaves, and when stretched out it is too long to fit just one tablecloth. Good thing we had the extra-long red one too!

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The wax melter in the background made the room smell like cinnamon, and the red candles on the table were a nice centerpiece for now. On to the cooking part!

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I boiled all the pasta ahead of time, and then kept it warm in the oven on low. We had beef ravioli and five-cheese ravioli. I also made a box of penne because we had several kids coming and I wanted to be sure there would be something everyone would eat. Sauteed asparagus with Italian dressing was a nice hot side dish.

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Everyone fit just perfectly in this cozy dining room, and there was plenty of food to go around. People loved having the choice of beef or cheese, and which sauce to use. I was proud of my friends for how much of the salad was eaten too!

We actually had so much food that the rice and the bean salad were not needed. And I totally forgot about the garlic bread! No one seemed to mind, and now I have that for a future party.

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We did have one bad experience, halfway through the meal one friend of mine was cutting her ravioli and the fork broke right in half! Luckily the box has more than enough extras so it wasn’t a huge deal. But just know these plastic utensils have a breaking point, and it’s pretty low.

All in all it was a lovely night. We had a great time catching up with each others’ lives, and everyone said the meal was delicious. I ended up with plenty left over too! The delivery eased the stress of having to go to the store, though I ended up having to run out once anyways (for penne and extra lights) but that happens. You can’t plan for everything all the time.

I think I would use this service again, especially for big parties which are planned ahead of time so I know the menu. For everyday cooking, I like physically going to the store, seeing what is on sale, and creating meals in my mind. I’m going to plan another party in a few weeks, for my birthday, and we will see how that goes!

If you want to try Walmart Grocery To Go yourself, click on this referral link: Walmart Grocery To Go.